Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chocolate Chickpea Biscuits

Chocolate Chickpea Cookies © www.foodbabylife.com

I know they don't look like much but these Chocolate Chickpea Biscuits are one of the best things I've baked in ages. Seriously! I've made a Magic Bean Chocolate Cake before which we all loved and these biscuits are just as good with their fudgy chocolate middles surrounded by raggedy, crinkly, crispy edges that make it incredibly hard to stop at 1 (or 2).

My kids are always ravenous at the end of the day and afternoon tea often turns into one big grazing session (and yes they still eat a big dinner!). We had an after school function to go to the day I made these so I packed them up and hoped it would be enough to keep them going until we got home. Well, they each ate 3 biscuits and were set. They absolutely loved them but 3 was enough and I didn't get a single 'I'm hungry' the whole afternoon! The chickpeas and oats in these are packed with protein and fibre and they are really satisfying. Next time I will be doubling the recipe and stashing some in the freezer. 

Even straight from the oven there was absolutely no discernible taste or smell of the chickpeas so if you've been on the fence about the whole beans-in-cakes thing give these a go!

Chocolate Chickpea Biscuits
Recipe from The Road to Loving My Thermomixer

45g oats
80g sugar of choice (I used 1 tbs raw honey with dextrose to make up the 80g)
400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
40g cocoa powder (I used raw cacao)
1 ts vanilla extract
1 ts baking powder
100g butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees fan-forced. Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place oats into a food processor and blitz for 20 seconds (TMX 20 secs / SP 7). Add all remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds (TMX 30 secs / SP 5).

Roll the mixture into balls and place onto the prepared trays, allowing some room to spread. Flatten slightly (I found the mixture too wet to roll so just blobbed it onto the trays).

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before placing the biscuits on a wire rack to cool completely (or not, they are absolutely delicious warm from the oven!).

Makes approx 20

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Bake (Dairy Free)

Sweet Potato Bacon and Egg Bake © www.foodbabylife.com

We go through lots of eggs in this house, at least 2-3 dozen or more if I'm doing lots of baking. We love them boiled, scrambled and fried. Turned into omelettes, quiches, custard and french toast.

A quick flick through an old Woman's Weekly cookbook called Cheap & Cheerful and I came across a Kumara, Bacon and Egg Bake. We had everything on hand it was such an easy and delicious dinner! Itwas somewhere between a quiche and a frittata and would work really well if you happened to have some leftover steamed veggies in the fridge already. I used sweet potato and regular potatoes but really you could use anything you have.

We had this for dinner but I think it would be a perfect brunch dish, especially as it could be prepared ahead of time and then popped in the oven at the last minute.

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Bake
Adapted from Cheap & Cheerful (Australian Woman's Weekly, ACP Books, p50-51)

1 large sweet potato (about 500g)
2 large potaotes (about 500g)
5 bacon rashers (about 350g)
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk (I used rice milk)
1 ts ground cumin
2 tbs nutritional yeast

Chop the sweet potatoes and potatoes into a 2-3cm dice and steam until just tender and then set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees fan-forced. Grease a baking dish ( mine was 20 x 26 cm) with olive oil.

Roughly chop the bacon and fry it in a pan over medium heat until just starting to crisp up. Sprinkle over the cumin and toss to combine. Spread the potatoes over the base of the baking dish and scatter the bacon over the top.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and nutritional yeast in a medium bowl and then pour over the potatoes and bacon. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm or hot with a green salad.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sunshine Soup (aka Carrot, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup)

Sunshine Soup (Carrot, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup) © www.foodbabylife.com

We've been hit with numerous bouts of colds recently and seemingly permanent runny noses so I've been looking for lots of nutrient rich foods to boost the kids immune systems - fresh juices made on carrots, celery, beetroot, spinach, orange and ginger in the morning and warming drinks with lemon and raw honey in the afternoon when the coughs and sniffles come back.

And now that it seems like Winter is finally on the way (we've dropped into single digits overnight in the last few days) it's soup time!!!

I don't tend to follow recipes for soup, I usually just throw in whatever veggies we have on hand, add some herbs and stock and call it a day. This soup, which my boys called Sunshine Soup because of its gorgeous sunny colour, was the perfect tonic for my big boy who was home sick from school yesterday. As usual I thought I made plenty but it disappeared in record time and I will be making another batch today!

I did this in the Thermomix but you can easily adapt it and I have included alternative directions below.

We all loved this soup. My 18 month old ate more than 1 1/2 cups and wanted more but there wasn't any left!


Sunshine Soup (Carrot, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato)

2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato, roughly chopped
1 big wedge of pumpkin, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2cm piece ginger
2cm piece fresh turmeric OR 1ts dried turmeric
2 1/2 cups water or stock
1 ts vegetable stock paste (only if using water)
1 heaped tbs solid coconut oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

TMX - place the ginger, garlic and fresh turmeric (if using) into the bowl and chop 3 secs / SP 7. Add the coconut oil and dried turmeric (if using) and saute 2 mins / Varoma / SP 1. Add the carrot, sweet potato and chop 15 secs / SP 7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the stock or water and cook 20 mins / 100 degrees / SP 1. Blend 45 secs / sp8, gradually increasing from SP 1 to SP 8. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

If not using a Thermomix, place all ingredients except the water/stock and oil into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Pour into a medium saucepan, add the oil and water or stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Using a stick blender, process the soup until smooth.

Serves 4.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Pumpkin Banana Bread © www.foodbabylife.com

I'm beginning to think I have a bit of an obsession with banana bread. I was too scared to check just how many variations I've posted over the years but I know I've never made a Pumpkin Banana Bread before!

We bought a whole pumpkin last weekend for just $2 and we enjoyed it roasted last night, mashed for lunch today and now baked into a cake. There will also be pumpkin soup made in a few days when it cools down again after a few days of unseasonably hot weather.

Mr Fussy 4yo loves cinnamon and was willing to taste some pumpkin roasted with cinnamon last night (it got a screwed up face) but even he couldn't resist this Pumpkin Banana Bread still warm from the oven and spread with lots of butter. It was the perfect afternoon tea for the kidlets and I can vouch for the fact that it is just as good if not better toasted the next day.

The original recipe had 1/2 cup honey AND 1/2 cup sugar which I replaced with just 1/2 cup rice malt syrup and an extra banana and it definitely sweet enough for us. You may want to increase it a little.

This was incredibly moist, lightly spiced and absolutely delicious. We will be making it again!

Gotta love hidden veggies!

Pumpkin Banana Bread sliced © www.foodbabylife.com

Pumpkin Banana Bread
adapted from allrecipes

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 ts baking powder
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts salt
2 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts cloves

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed banana, eggs, oil, pumpkin and syrup. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients and then stir these into the banana mixture until just combined (don't over-mix).

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes (mine took 50 - it was huge!) or until the top springs back when touched and a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm or cold. Suitable to freeze.

TMX - place bananas, eggs, oil, pumpkin and syrup into the mixing bowl and blend for 10 seconds / speed 6. Add remainder of ingredients and blend 6 seconds / speed 6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and proceed with baking instructions above.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blueberry English Muffins (SRC)

Blueberry English Muffins basket © www.foodbabylife.com

Hooray it's Secret Recipe Club time! For those who don't know SRC is a group of dedicated cooks and bakers who are assigned a blog in secret each month from which to choose a recipe and blog about on the same day.

This month I was delighted to be assigned Karen's Kitchen Stories and I had a wonderful time this month on Karen's blog. Karen is a little bit obsessed with bread and has baked some amazing things which had my mouth watering like Braided Lemon Bread with Blackberries, Pain au Chocolat and Strawberry Danish. Yum! She claims to not be an expert at either baking or photography but her recipe index and stunning photos beg to differ!

I also love baking bread (although I am nowhere near as accomplished as Karen) so I decided to choose a bread for SRC and settled on her Cherry English Muffins. Mine ended up being blueberry muffins though as I couldn't find any dried cherries.

Making English muffins has been on my to-do list for years but I've never quite gotten around to it. Part of the reason is that English muffin/crumpet rings just aren't available here in Australia. I know because I've looked in every kitchenware shop I've come across and searched online to no avail. Actually that's not quite true as I found a set of 4 on Ebay that would ship from the US for more than $30! Um, no.

I decided that I wasn't going to let that defeat me and came up with an alternative - I used the rings from my mini spring-form pans instead! I could only fit 3 rings in the pan at a time and the 3 batches each took about 20 minutes to cook so this is definitely not a quick bake, but it does make a great weekend project and we got to enjoy some delicious muffins for afternoon tea. I got 9 largish muffins from this mixture and between the 5 of us they lasted all of, oh, 15 minutes. Seriously!


There's definitely no comparison between these and the shop-bought ones - they were sensational! They may have taken ages to make but it was totally worth it. I'm really pleased I persevered and finally made them. Thanks to Karen for the inspiration!

Blueberry English Muffins © www.foodbabylife.com

Blueberry English Muffins
Very slightly adapted from Karen's Kitchen Stories

2 tsp rice malt syrup (or honey)
1 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (I used homemade almond and coconut milk)
340 g (12 oz) bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
3 tbs warm water
Corn meal or semolina flour for dusting

Mix the syrup, oil, milk, flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl with a large spoon. Mix together for a few minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Immediately cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 4 days.

Remove the bowl from the fridge about 2 hours before you will be making the muffins.

When you are ready to make the muffins, mix the baking soda with the water. Sprinkle the cherries over the dough and then gently fold the water, soda and cherries into the dough. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a heavy based frying pan or griddle over medium heat (150 C / 300 F for an electric griddle).

Spray the griddle, muffin rings and a 1/3 cup measure with spray oil and then dust the inside of the rings with cornmeal. Pour 1/3 cup of dough into each ring (no more than 2/3 full). Sprinkle cornmeal over each muffin once you've filled all of the rings.

Cook for at least 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and then flip the muffins in their rings and cook for another 12 minutes or until you are sure they are cooked through and springy to the touch.

Cool the muffins in their rings for 2 minutes, then remove the rings and cool them on their edges for at least 30 minutes to prevent shrinking.

Thanks Karen! I really enjoyed my month visiting Karen's Kitchen Stories

secret-recipe-club.blogspot.com


Friday, April 24, 2015

Marinated Chicken Burger with Fountain Good Choice Sauces

I gave up sugar in September 2012 after reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie and then stumbling across Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar program. While I don't remember the exact date I do remember jumping up and clearing out the pantry and being horrified at the amount of sugar that was hiding in our everyday products. I thought we were eating quite healthily but the bags of stuff I threw away said otherwise!

One group of products that didn't survive the great cull of 2012 were condiments. I knew that some sauces were quite sweet but I was astounded that our tomato sauce was over 25% sugar, the BBQ sauce around 40% and the sweet chilli contained a whopping 60%! I know you don't use much at a time but if I was going to be eating something so packed with sugar I would have rather had a chocolate bar or bowl of ice cream!

While I make most things from scratch these days, especially since buying our Thermomix, I have never really made any sauces.  I just didn't think I would be able to make a version that the kids would really like and I didn't think we would get through a whole batch before it went off.

So I was delighted to receive a pack of Fountain Good Choice Sauces to review thanks to Product Talk by Nuffnang. All the sauces are free of both sugar and gluten and the pack included a squeezy bottle each of tomato and barbeque sauces, and glass bottles of sweet chilli, hot chilli and soy sauces. Instead of sugar the sauces are all sweetened with Natvia which is an alternative sweetener using stevia.

Fountain Good Choice Sauces Review

We had a BBQ at Oscar's birthday party last weekend and I knew this would be perhaps the greatest test for the Good Choice Tomato and BBQ sauces. Would the kids be able to taste the difference? Would the adults notice the labels on the bottles? Well, I can say that both sauces got the thumbs up from all our big and little taste testers, every sausage got eaten and there was not a single complaint!!

As for the other sauces I decided the best test for them would be a burger. I mean, it's not a real burger unless there's sauce dripping from your chin! I came up with this simple marinated chicken burger and it was SO good: lick-your-fingers-to-savour-every-last-bit good. I was surprised how spicy the sweet chilli sauce was (in a good way) but the hot one was too hot for me. In fact you can tell just how much we like the sweet chilli sauce as by the time I got around to taking the photo of the bottles it was half empty!

Marinated Chicken Burger with Fountain Good Choice Sauces © www.foodbabylife.com

Marinated Chicken Burger

For the marinade:
6 chicken thigh fillets
2 tbs Fountain Good Choice Soy Sauce
1 tbs Fountain Good Choice Tomato Sauce
1 tbs Fountain Good Choice Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 crushed clove of garlic

Place all ingredients into a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Massage the sauces into the chicken pieces until well covered and then leave to marinate in the fridge for at least a 2 hours. The chicken pieces can be fried, grilled or barbecued until cooked through. I baked mine at 200 degrees C for approximately 20 minutes (make sure you check they are cooked through). Cover the chicken pieces with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the burgers.

For the burger:
6 hamburger buns
1 avocado
2 tomatoes
lettuce
2 grated carrots
Fountain Good Choice Sweet Chilli or Hot Chilli Sauce

Assemble your burgers with your favourite salad ingredients, place a piece of chicken on top and drizzle over some sweet or hot chilli sauce to taste.

So. Would I buy these for myself? Yes but I'd still use them in moderation. There's not too much research into stevia yet and I've gotten my kids out of the habit of smothering everything in sauce so for us these sauces would still be a 'sometimes' food.  That being said I do love that this range is available and for anyone who wants to switch to something healthier but is worried the kids would reject it, try these!  The full range is available at Woolworths both in store and online.

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I received product for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oscar turns 6!

My big boy turned 6 yesterday. I can hardly believe it! There has been much excitement over the past month or so as we planned his party, wrote invitations and decided on a birthday cake. His party was held at a local park on Saturday afternoon and despite the threatening weather it turned into a wonderful day. The party went off without a hitch and we had 14 kids plus siblings and parents. We had John from Crazy Party come to run some crazy games for the kids which was lots of fun followed by some food and of course birthday cake. It really was one of the easiest parties we've had. I was a little concerned about how the lack of junk food would go with the kids but no one seemed to notice (or at least they didn't say anything to me!).

Rainbow fruit skewers © www.foodbabylife.com
Rainbow fruit skewers

Nut free Bliss Balls © www.foodbabylife.com
Apricot Balls and Nut-free Chocolate Bliss Balls

The food was really simple - some rainbow fruit skewers with watermelon, pineapple, kiwi fruit, green and red grapes and blueberries, a huge bowl of popcorn, some plain salted chips, apricot balls and nut free chocolate bliss balls, sausages, bread and sauce. We had bottles of water for the kids for after their activities and some mineral water for the adults.

Smarties Cake © www.foodbabylife.com
Smarties Cake!
The one exception to our no-junk party was the cake. I made a double layer fudgy chocolate cake covered with vanilla buttercream icing and smarties. It went down a treat and got lots of ooohs and aaaahs at the table. I thought it would be big enough to feed everyone but my first few slices were too big so we got down to some thin slivers of cake at the end and every crumb got eaten. I guess that's a sign of a good cake!

We also didn't have a traditional party bag because I'm really not a fan of the cheap plastic stuff and all the lollies that usually go with it. Instead we had a lucky dip and as each child was leaving they got to choose something. I found lots of great stuff like giant playing cards, stamp sets, packs of textas and crayons, figurines and sticker packs all for $2. The kids loved being able to choose and unwrap something to take home and I didn't hear any complaints. 

Then yesterday was Oscar's actual birthday and we had family around for an afternoon tea of birthday cake and dinner of lasagna, salad, garlic bread and dairy-free chocolate ice cream (all chosen by the birthday boy).

Oscar was very keen on having a number 6 cake but he was happy to leave the decorations to me. I decided that given how much he loves school, writing and reading that he would like a school themed cake and I was right! I made a simple butter cake with vanilla butter cream icing and decorated with some fondant shapes. Cake decorating is really not my strong point and while they do look amateurish I was pretty happy with how they turned out. I made a book, open notepad, ruler, (wonky) pencil and a little apple. We even found some candles that looked like crayons! Oscar loved his cake and everyone had seconds.

School theme number 6 cake © www.foodbabylife.com

All in all it was a brilliant birthday for him, he was surrounded by friends and family, ate some great food and received lots of great presents. Can't ask for more than that!