Birthdays are FUN

Tomorrow is Zachie’s 5th birthday so we had a party for him on the weekend and it was a rip roaring success. He was in heaven seeing all his friends in the one place, declared they’re all his BEST FRIENDS! I went the traditional route of pass the parcel and hide and seek but for the most part the kids just played and had fun.

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On the menu there were funfetti cup cakes  which I have made before and my helpers do love to put the 100’s & 1000’s on them. A fruit platter with Truck watermelon, Little Sausages in pita bread, and slow roasted lamb souvlaki with Baba ganoush and Tzatziki. Jelly Oranges & a Prime Mover Road Train birthday cake!

Truck Watermelon

Just like my Mummy used to make :)

Just like my Mummy used to make 🙂

I wanted to be able to prepare almost everything but I thought it would be fun for the kids to be able to make their own little souvlaki. So I roasted two mini lamb legs and served them with some roasted potatoes and all the bits that go with them.

Needless to say I got a mouthful, hubby reported it was all fantastic! 😀

Slow Roasted Lamb

You will need

2 mini lamb roasts (or 1 big one)

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

50 g butter

handful of fresh oregano, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

250 mls of water

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Make a couple of incisions in the lamb and slot in some of the garlic, put the lamb into your roasting pan and season, sprinkle over the oregano, remaining garlic and pour over the lemon juice, olive oil and add the water to the bottom of the pan. Put the butter in knobs over the lamb and roast for 15 mins on each side.

Then turn the oven down to 160 degrees Celsius, add the potatoes to the pan and toss in the juices and cover and bake for at least 2 & 1/2 hours or until done. You want the lamb to literally fall off the bone and be able to break it up with a fork.

Baba Ganoush

This is really too easy for words, once you’ve made it a couple of times I think you can play around with the quantities and be guided by your tastes. I used 3 medium size eggplants to make enough for 20 people.

You will need:

3 medium eggplants

1 large clove of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

400 mls natural yoghurt

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil

smokey paprika

Place the eggplants over the gas burner on your stove and allow them to “Cook” for 10 mins on each side or until they start to collapse in on themselves. It’s important to keep an eye on them though. Once they’re charred all over remove from the heat and place in a plastic bag and allow to sweat for 10 mins.

Then carefully remove the skin from the eggplant, you need to make sure that none of the charred skin remains otherwise your dip will taste burnt rather than smokey. Set the eggplant aside.

In a mortar and pestle crush your garlic with 2 tsp of salt, then add some of the eggplant (this depends on the size of your mortar) you can fork it as well, but you want it chunky and not completely smooth. Transfer the mix to a large bowl and add the tahini, yoghurt, any remaining eggplant and lemon juice.

Mix well and pour into your serving dish/bowl. Make a little well in the centre and pour over some olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of paprika.

Prime Mover Birthday Cake

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Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Thanks to Peppa Pig the kids are having this tonight for dessert. Zachie requested by asking Mummy do we have any apples? Do we have any Blackberries? Yes, yes Zachie we do… why? Can you please make apple and blackberry crumble?

Apple and Blackberry CrumbleI made a small one probably enough to serve 2-3 or 4 for kids. It’s a very easy dish to make and takes no time at all!

You will need

Apples

Blackberries

Sugar

Water

Butter

Plain Flour

I worked on equal parts of apples to blackberries, for this one it was 2 Royal Gala apples to about a cup of blackberries. (If you’re using frozen make sure they’re Australian Grown and packaged to avoid any nasty chemicals, or better yet use fresh ones.

Simply stew the fruit in about 1/2 a cup of water. When the fruit is soft but still holding it’s shape add sugar to taste and reduce the liquid. Pour the fruit and syrup into an oven proof dish. Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. While the fruit is cooking rub butter into the sugar and flour so that you have the consistency of wet sand. I used approx 1 cup of flour to 1/3 cup of sugar and 100g of butter, you want the crumble mix to hold together if you crush it in your hand.

Sprinkle over the fruit and bake for approx 20 mins or until golden brown.

Serve with either ice cream or cream.

 

Home delivery Fruit & Vegies

A few weeks ago we had lunch with a friend when her box of fruit & vegies were delivered to her door, looking at what was available all freshly picked and packed got me thinking… With 2 small children, one of whom has taken to questioning every purchase we make at the supermarket and constantly saying we need this, we need that has started to wear a bit thin with me, add to that working part time as well and feeling a little like there are not enough hours in the day I decided that I’d give the home delivery option a go.

I love going to the market and hand selecting our fruit and veg and I think I will still do that but this option gives us more than enough fruit & veg for the week, it’s seasonal which is fantastic, it’s organic – even better and compared to organic prices at the market it’s very reasonably priced. It will also ensure that we actually only buy what we will use for the week rather than having too many of something or another and things going off in the fridge before we can use them.

I have noticed that even though it’s only 2 days a week that our children are in child care they don’t seem to be eating as much as what they would have done if they were at home all week, that an by the time my working week finishes it’s Thursday which is normally the day I head to the Preston Market for a shop.

Anyway, after our box of goodies was delivered yesterday I made spaghetti bolognaise with organic carrots, celery & onions. Zachie ate a pear & an orange both of which he said were Delicious Mummy! So I do think I am on a winner, I just need to remember to let them know – no broccoli or cabbage, that’s the great thing about this service you can say I don’t want Chinese greens, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, chard, silverbeet etc (all of the things we aren’t really fans of or wouldn’t use in day to day cooking.)

I will still head to the market today to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh bread etc but give or take a few items (which you could add to your order) we’re set for the week! Happy days people!

You can check out Victoria Organic Delivery here if you live in Melbourne or even Victoria as they deliver it seems to most places.

We got 6 Apples, 5 Bananas, 3 Zucchini, 5 large Potatoes, 4 Pears, 3 Onions, 1/2 a bunch of celery, 3 heads of broccoli, 1/2 a cabbage, 6 mandarins, 4 oranges, a bag of gourmet lettuce, 3 kiwi fruits & 2 avocados.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the cabbage??

Custard Apples

Last Thursday we went to the market and Zachie asked me what that was, pointing to a Custard Apple, “is it a prickly pear Mummy?”  (Just quietly, I don’t think he’ll ever forget the pain of touching a prickly pear). I explained that it was a Custard Apple, but that I didn’t know what it tasted like as I’d never had one, can we try it Mummy?

I asked the lady at the fruit shop what they’re like and she said they’re delicious, although you need to let it ripen a little like an avocado. So we bought one and today it was ready for eating, the skin had gone a bit black in places and the stem was easily pulled out intact which does make me wonder whether that’s a sign that they’re ready to eat?

Anyway, I peeled it & in our excitement I forgot to take a photo of what they look like inside, but it was delicious, very sweet, possibly a little too sweet, but I could see it working in a smoothie or fruit salad and apparently they work in curries too.

I don’t know if I will buy another one, but it was great to have a try of something a bit different and even more fantastic that both kidlets including the neighbour’s kidlet tried it!

Check out www.custardapple.com.au/ for some more information about Custard Apples & what you can use them in.

Chelsea Buns

So as you know we’ve been making things of late that would be good for the kidlets in their lunch boxes or for an afternoon snack, it definitely depends on how old your children are, but if they have afterschool activities you may be running short of ideas, which was how this little project came about. My main concern was that whatever you offer them it has to be healthy, tasty, and easy to pack and more than likely taste good cold.

I have had a week of experimentation and this is what I’ve come up with. Definitely tasty & good cold, relatively easy to make, you can get the children involved in the making of & not too sweet, I figure if you’re making these yourself you know what’s gone into them and therefore every now and again something sweet is ok.

This recipe originally comes from The Essential Baking cookbook. But you might have gathered by now that it’s very hard for me not to play around with recipes. I usually buy yeast in a large container which I keep in the fridge, ours has been there for a while now so I have been using a bit more than the recipe indicates, I also made my own mixed fruit with sultanas, apricots and some candied peel I made when oranges & lemons were in bountiful supply.

If you have a dough hook on your mix master then use this and make the yeast mix in your mix master bowl so you’re just using the one bowl.

Chelsea Buns

You will need:

2 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

2 ½ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup warm milk

185g softened butter

1Tbsp sugar, extra

2 Tbsp mixed or candied peel, finely diced

1 tsp mixed spice

1 egg

¼ cup soft brown sugar

1 cup mixed dried fruit (you could use anything along the lines of dried apples, sultanas, apricots, peaches etc)

1 Tbsp milk, extra for glazing

2 Tbsp Sugar, extra for glazing

Glace icing

½ cup icing sugar

1-2 Tbsp milk

What to do:

Combine the yeast, sugar & a couple of tablespoons of the flour in a large bowl, add the milk and mix well. Set aside in a warm place until it’s frothy and thick. This should take about 10 minutes.  While you’re waiting for the yeast to activate sift the remaining flour into another bowl and rub in 125gms of the softened butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse sand or breadcrumbs. Stir in the extra sugar, mixed peel & ½ the mixed spice. Add this to the yeast mixture with the egg and mix well using the dough hook on your mix master. Work the dough until it comes together to form a smooth ball.

Lightly oil your mixing bowl put the dough in and cover with cling film and place in a warm place to allow to prove for an hour or until it’s at least doubled in size.

Pre heat your oven to 210°C 415°F or gas 6-7. Ensure your mixed fruit is finely chopped if you’re making your own. Beat the remaining butter with the brown sugar & mixed spice until it’s light & creamy. When your dough is ready, knock it back and roll out to approx 40 x 25cm (16 x 10 inches) rectangle, Spread the butter mixture all over the dough to within 2cm of the edge of one of the longer sides, sprinkle the fruit all over the dough.

Roll the dough from the long side, firmly and evenly to enclose the fruit. Using a sharp knife cut the roll into evenly sized pieces about 2 ½ cm thick. Arrange the slices onto a well greased oven tray with the seams facing inwards. Flatten slightly, cover with cling film and set aside to rise for 30 mins or until they’re well risen again. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown & cooked. When they’re almost ready stir the milk & sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, brush this mix over the hot buns. Cool & mix the icing sugar, drizzle over the buns. You should get about 12 – 15 smallish buns.

After school or anytime snacks for kids

A very dear friend of mine has two boys with somewhat hectic after school activities and asked for some more ideas as to what to feed them for afternoon tea. As anyone with children will know that idea of 6 small meals is not such a bad idea, particularly come mid afternoon. It’s a sure-fire way to keep little minds focused & happy and little tummies full as googs. I’m thinking that some of these ideas are suited to older children who have sporting activities after school and really need some sustained energy.

This project has reminded me of when I was looking after my grown up cherubs (as a nanny) in New Zealand & I’d pick up Mackie & Erin after school & we’d wait about 20 – 30 mins for Jay to finish so I would take afternoon tea and everyone would eat in the car, I used to check their lunch boxes and if they (Erin) hadn’t eaten her piece of fruit, she had to eat that one & then another one & then she could have a choc chip cookie or muffin, generally I’d take them fruit, cucumber, capsicum or carrots & something sweet. It was enough to keep them going until dinner time. Anyway I put my thinking cap on, tested a few recipes and consulted friends with kids as to what they serve their little ones come afternoon tea time. I also thought a little outside the square.

We’ve, because I haven’t done this alone come up with some mostly healthy, fun and hopefully yummy ideas.

Hot weather snacks:

Obviously fresh fruit is a given and coming into summer there are so many options, mango, watermelon, grapes (fresh or frozen) peaches, apricots, nectarines, blue berries, strawberries, kiwi fruit (although not too many as it can cause rotten nappies in little ones & yes I am speaking from experience)

Muffins are a great option as you can add grated apple, sultanas, seeds etc and have a bit of a play around. Banana muffins are a definite winner with the kids & adults I know. (But maybe wait until the prices go down a bit more)

Fruit smoothies in insulated cups can be made from pretty much anything, best way to save money is to use whatever fruit is in season, add milk & some yoghurt and Vvvvvvvvvvvdddddddd blend away. I remember when we were in Marrakech we used to freeze little containers of yoghurt, normally I wouldn’t advocate buying the little containers of yogurt as they are more expensive, but for the convenience I figure it’s worth it, you could always transfer the yoghurt into smaller containers.

Cooler weather snacks:

I made some mini pizza’s today which all the kids in mother’s group seemed to enjoy and the best thing was that they tasted good warm or lukewarm to room temp which means they may even work for lunches too.

Sausage rolls, party pies, soup in thermal mugs and I was even thinking porridge with sultanas, dried or grated apples & cinnamon would work, particularly in winter & for those kids who are playing sport and need something to keep them going. You’d need to put it in a thermos or thermal cup to keep it hot.

I thought about meatballs, but really I do think they need to be warmer to hot to still taste good.

Other snack type things could be olives (yes kids love them or the ones I know do) Hummus, tzatziki, Mashed Avocado with some lemon juice to stop it from going brown. Little bread sticks, Pita breads with falafel, cucumber, carrot, capsicum sticks. Banana & Peanut butter on raisin bread. Cheese & vegemite on saladas or any dried biscuit, cherry tomatoes, kabana, hard boiled eggs. Little tins of tuna (or buy a big tin and break it up into smaller containers.

I think this is definitely an area where any other suggestions are welcome and much sort after as we all want to try to ensure our kids are eating healthily and give them variety, nothing worse than the same thing every day. If we can get them involved in the cooking & preparing of the food then they’re more inclined to eat it.

There is a great magnet we got from the maternal health nurse which reads, we decide what they (the children) eat and when they eat, they decide whether to eat and how much. It’s a rocky road at the best of times and everyone has an opinion about  this subject. There will be days when all they eat is pasta or only green things or perhaps nothing at all. However I do think as long as for the most part your children are eating relatively healthily then the occasional packet of chips or icypole isn’t really going to hurt. Everything in moderation as they say.