Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sweet and Salty Potato Chip Cookies


I am a sucker for the combination of sweet and salty, be it popcorn, pastry or salted caramel. When I saw these pop up on Laws of the Kitchen and I happened to have half a bag of potato chips sitting in the pantry their fate was sealed!

The little green pieces in my cookies are actually pumpkin seeds. I didn't have enough of any one type of nuts to make up the 1/2 cup needed for the recipe but I did have a bag of Lucky Smart Snax Recovery which has oven roasted peanuts, almonds, cashews and pepitas. It was perfect for these cookies and using a mixture of nuts made them especially tasty.

My cookies were no where near as chunky looking as the original so I think I overprocessed the nuts and chips but they were still packed with crunchy bits and were deliciously sweet and salty. They were a real hit with the kids and they disappeared in record time. Sorry for the blurry photo, I think someone's little sticky fingers have been playing with my camera!

Oh and there's only 1 day left to win the #luckysmartsnax hamper so if you're an Australian resident and want to win some nuts visit my post here to enter!

Sweet and Salt Potato Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Caker via Laws of the Kitchen

225g butter
1 cup dextrose (or 100g sugar)
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped
250g plain flour
1/2 cup crushed salty potato chips
1 ts vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and pale. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Fold in the flour and when mostly combined add the nuts and potato chips and stir until well mixed through.

Roll the dough into balls and place on the prepared trays. Flatten with the bottom of a glass or your palm.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Lucky Smart Snax Review and Giveaway!

** The giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced and contacted shortly**

It's been a really interesting experience going back to study after 13 years. First time around was straight after high school when I lived on campus and did all the usual sorts of things uni students do! I did well academically but I could have (and should have) done a lot more work.

I remember long nights cramming for exams fuelled by lots of caffeine and sugary snacks. There was a 24 hour convenience store a short walk from my building and I used to go for midnight walks with friends to stock up on Sara Lee Ultra Choc ice cream!

This time around I am in my 30s and the mum of 3 young children. Needless to say it's been an entirely different experience! These days I study whenever I get a spare moment - waking up at 5am to get an hour of reading time before anyone else is up. Working feverishly during my baby's nap time to get as much done as possible before he wakes up. 10pm is about as late as I can stay up at night both in terms of being able to concentrate and to ensure I get enough sleep and not feel like a zombie the next day.

My study snacks have also changed. Definitely no more chocolate ice cream for me seeing as I avoid both sugar and dairy these days!

My go-to snack for the past year or so has been nuts. I've been buying them in bulk from a local organic food store and making up snack mixes, bliss balls, biscuits and toasted muesli with them. They are filling, packed with nutrients and good fats and best of all they keep me going when I don't always have time to eat a proper meal.

So when I was offered the chance to review the new range of Lucky Smart Snax thanks to Product Talk by Nuffnang I was so excited! I am already a big fan of the Lucky brand and in fact I reviewed their range of nuts for Christmas baking last year which you can find here.

So what are Lucky Smart Snax? They are a range of 6 snack mixes of nuts, seeds and dried fruit with each mix designed to meet the specific needs of individual bodies. Some have just nuts, some have nuts and seeds, some have dried fruit and one even has a little chocolate!



Lucky Smart Snax Digestive – Oven Roasted Almonds, Peanuts, Hazelnuts, Cranberries, Sunflower Kernels and Pepitas. The dietary fibre in this blend will help maintain a healthy digestive system.

Lucky Smart Snax Recovery – Oven Roasted Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews and Pepitas. This blend is a good source of protein which is vital for growth, muscle development and recovery from exercise.

Lucky Smart Snax Womens – Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts and Walnuts. This blend is a souce of  Vitamin E, iron and monounsaturated fat, as well as calcium, folate and selenium.

Lucky Smart Snax Cardio – Almonds, Sultanas, Cranberries and Blueberries. This is a sweet and very high energy blend to help keep you pumping through the day.

Lucky Smart Snax Power – Oven Roasted Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts and Dark Chocolate. This sweet and toasty blend gives a boost of natural energy.

Lucky Smart Snax Low Carb – Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Pepitas, Almonds and Walnuts. This tasty blend of nuts and seeds is naturally low in carbohydrates and a great snack option.

I love that these are not only delicious but also the real deal in terms of healthy snacks -the nuts are all either raw or oven roasted with no extra oil added, they are not too heavy on the dried fruit so are mostly low in sugar, and as nuts and seeds are packed with goodness they are a nutrient dense snack that actually fills you up. My personal favourite has been the Digestive blend which is oven roasted and has just a little sweetness from the dried cranberries.

I've had a bag of Smart Snax to graze on at nearly every morning study session since I received them, as well as a bag stashed in my handbag for when I'm out. I have to say they have also been a lifesaver at exam time when I didn't really feel like eating (too many butterflies in my tummy) but needed something light and nutritious to get me through a 2 hour science exam.

The new range of Lucky Smart Snax are available in the dried fruit and nut aisle of Coles, Woolworths and independant grocers, near the baking products and they retail for $4.99 per pack.

Giveaway!


I am really excited that I have a Lucky Smart Snax hamper to give away which includes all 6 products in the range. This giveway is open to Australian residents only and to enter, just leave a comment below answering the question:

Which Lucky Smart Snax is your favourite and why?

The competition closes in 1 week on  Friday 21st November at 5pm so make sure you get in quick! To find out more about Lucky Smart Snax you can visit their website or get to your local supermarket and grab a pack for yourself.

Good luck!!!

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grain-Free Banana Cupcakes

Grain Free Banana Bread Muffins © www.foodbabylife.com

I'm never really sure on the difference between a muffin and cupcake. I mean sure, a cupcake usually has icing but if you take that away, they are both still cake! These cupcakes (muffins?) are the first grain free cupcake I've made that is also free of any sweetener. I was worried they wouldn't be quite sweet enough but the extremely (think nearly black all over and very mushy) ripe bananas did their job.

These are moist, sweet and intensely banana-y. The perfect afternoon tea with a big glass of milk. My boys loved them and have been asking me to make more.

I managed to snap a photo of the last one before it was quickly snaffled up too. Now I just have to manage to leave some bananas long enough and then I will definitely be making these again.

Grain and Dairy Free Banana Cupcakes
Very slightly adapted from Wellness Mama

5 Eggs
3 medium very ripe bananas
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup coconut flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp vanilla
small amount of milk to thin (may not need)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Grease a muffin tin or lay out silicone liners on a tray. You will need 12-15.

Place all ingredients into food processor or blender and mix until smooth and well combined. If batter is too thick, add a little milk to thin it out but don't let it get runny at all (mine was quite runny without adding any milk but this made for a very moist cupcake).

Spoon into the prepared pans and bake for 13-18 minutes until lightly browned and set in middle. Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Banana Layer Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting


So Noah was lucky enough to have 2 cakes for his first birthday - his smash cake on the weekend and then another cake on his actual birthday. I love the combination of banana and chocolate and knew as soon as I saw this cake on Whipped that it would be perfect for my little birthday boy. I made only minor changes to the cake recipe and smothered it in a gorgeous dairy free chocolate ganache.

The cake was a big hit with everyone but I unfortunately didn't get any great pictures of it. Noah may not look too happy in this shot but believe me the cake disappeared in record time. This cake eating is serious business!

Banana Layer Cake (Dairy Free)
Adapted from Whipped

2 cups plain flour
1 ts baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dextrose*
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ts vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana (around 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (or regular yoghurt if not dairy free)

Preheat oven to 180°. Grease and line 2 x 8 inch round cake pans and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, stirring together with a whisk.

In a stand mixer or food processor, combine the dextrose, oil, vanilla, mashed banana and eggs and beat at medium speed until well combined. Add in the flour mixture and yogurt alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake at 180° for 30-35 minutes (mine were done at 25 minutes so check early and often) or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing from the pans and cooling completely on wire racks.

*If you want to use regular sugar you will need to check the original recipe as I made a few minor changes to compensate for the dextrose.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

For the frosting I adapted Quirky Cooking's dairy free chocolate ganache which I have previously used as a tart filling here. I chilled it for a few hours then whipped it in the thermomix with the butterfly attachment for 20 seconds or so until it was thick and fluffy. I popped it back in the fridge for 10 minutes before icing the cake.

To assemble the cake:

Level the tops of the cakes if needed (I only level the bottom layer), then smooth about 1/3 of the frosting on top of one cake layer. Gently place the second layer on top and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles. The cake will keep covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Ingredient Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (Secret Recipe Club)

5 Ingredient Gluten Free Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies © www.foodbabylife.com

It's Secret Recipe Club time! Each month SRC members are assigned another member's blog in secret to peruse and choose a recipe to make, photograph and blog about. Reveal day is seriously one of my favourite days!

This month I was assigned Shockingly Delicious by Dorothy and let me tell you I spent many happy hours perusing her blog (when I should have been studying!). Dorothy has 25 years of food writing and recipe development experience and it really shows. Her blog is full of scrumptious 'scary good' food and is beautifully written. I thought I had a lot of cookbooks but Dorothy has more than 400!

There were quite a few recipes which caught my eye. I will definitely be surprising my kids with her Strawberry-Citrus Frappe after school one day soon, and I can't wait to try the Breakfast Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Leftover Panettone after Christmas (it might take me until then to perfect a dairy-free version of that one!).

But after all that I really couldn't go past these peanut butter cookies. I already have 2 recipes for peanut butter cookies here but neither of them are as simple as this one, and that's exactly what I'm after these days. With only 5 ingredients and no flour or dairy these fit the bill perfectly. I've made 2 batches this month, one with peanut butter and one with almond butter and both were gobbled up in record time.

I used natural peanut butter so added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the batter.

5 Ingredient Gluten Free Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Shockingly Delicious

1 egg
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar (I used dextrose)
1 ts vanilla extract
1/2 ts bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

In a food processor or large bowl with electric beater, beat all ingredients together until smooth, about 1 minute.Scoop out teaspoons of mixture, roll into balls and place on prepared trays. Flatten with a a fork.

Bake for 10-11 minutes. They will be just golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Try to stop at just one. 

Dorothy got 32 from this recipe but I got just 22.


http://secret-recipe-club.blogspot.com.au/


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Noah's 1st Birthday Smash!

 © www.foodbabylife.com


A big happy birthday to my beautiful Noah!! He turned 1 on Tuesday and is the sweetest little boy. Sigh. Why do children have to grow up so quickly?!

I've made a concerted effort this year to do some special things for Noah, partly just because I wanted to and partly because I didn't want him to look back at photos and feel like he missed out! He is the third of 3 boys after all.

So for the past year I have been taking a photo of him every week in the same spot and lying on the same little blue striped blanket. It got harder and harder as the year went on to keep him on that blanket but we now have 52 lovely little photos that show his progression from teeny tiny baby to big, solid 1 year old.

I also decided to do a cake smash for him (something I never did for the other 2). The only thing was his dairy intolerance (or allergy, we're not sure which yet), which made choosing a cake and icing recipe quite tricky. Luckily a grain and dairy free smash cake popped up in my facebook feed one day. Perfect!

I thought I had planned well but we still had a few hiccups such as my camera dying after only a few photos despite being fully charged, the sun shining under the fence more than expected so we had to hunt around for something to block it and then then the actual smash being far less messy than anticipated! Seriously he didn't even need a bath just a good wipe down. Without a real buttercream there just wasn't as much to smear around.

Still, he had an absolute ball! Lots of cake eaten and squished in chubby fists and sat on. So, so cute and lots of fun for all of us to watch.

Bottom line even if your little one has allergies a smash cake is still possible!

Grain and dairy free smash cake 1st birthday boy  © www.foodbabylife.com

Coconut Flour Smash Cake
Slightly adapted from Urban Poser
(Makes a 2 layer 4 inch smash cake)

1/2 cup (60g) coconut flour, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 large eggs
1/2 cup (112g) coconut oil
1/2 cup (175 ml) rice malt syrup (or honey to be grain free)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line 2 x 4 inch cake pans with parchment paper (mine were spring form pans which made for very easy removal of the cakes).

In a small bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Then separate 2 of the eggs (yolks from the whites), setting the whites aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the 3 whole eggs, two egg yolks, coconut oil, honey, vanilla and lemon juice until they are well combined. Then whisk in the flour mixture till completely smooth, with no lumps.

In another bowl beat the egg whites till soft peaks form (looks like softly whipped cream). Gently fold the egg-whites into the batter till theres is only a few streaks of whites visible.

Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops springs back when lightly pressed (mine took 30 minutes and one was ready before the other, perhaps had slightly more mixture in that pan). Allow the cake to cool for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and cool completely.

Filling: 

 I used a few tablespoons of my homemade roasted strawberry chia seed jam.

Coconut Butter Frosting (Thermomix)

Recipe adapted from Clever Cook

200g coconut butter (I made my own, see recipe below)
2 tbs dextrose
3 cubes of ice
juice of one lemon
dash of cold water if required
a few drops of natural food colouring

Place the first 4 ingredients into the mixing bowl and process on speed 9 for 20 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and repeat. If the coconut butter is not soft and fluffy, add a dash of water and continue (I needed 4 tablespoons of water to get the right consistency). Add the food colouring little and little, processing in between until you get the desired colour. Use immediately.

Store the covered cake in the fridge but remove it at least 1 hour before serving to allow it to soften.

Coconut Butter (Thermomix)
Recipe from Super Kitchen Machine

400g dessicated coconut

Place into the mixing bowl and process 3 minutes / 37 degrees / speed 8.  That's it!

Pour into a jar and store at room temperature. It will be liquid but will harden as it cools.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Magic Bean Chocolate Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting


Magic Bean Chocolate Cake © www.foodbabylife.com


There have always been lots of chocolate cake recipes with secret ingredients - like beetroot, beer and even mayonnaise. The latest thing seems to be beans and it's had me intrigued for months. I mean, you really can't taste them? Not even a little bit? Well I finally made my own 'magic bean' cake and it's true, if you didn't know they were there you would have no idea there is an entire large can of kidney beans in this cake.

What you get is an amazingly moist, almost fudgy chocolate cake with absolutely no hint of beans whatsoever. It was a huge hit with my kids who have been pleading for more magic bean cake ever since!

I made the recipe exactly as written using the remnants of a bag of brown sugar I found hiding up the back of the pantry. My sugar-free palate found it too sweet so next time I will be using sugar alternatives, but the rest of the family had no such reservations.

Rather than make a regular icing I decided to cross another item off my to-do list and make a cashew cream icing instead. It was delicious! Much thicker than I was expecting so we opted to smear each individual slice with the cashew cream instead of decorating the whole cake.

Both of these recipes are for the Thermomix and in fact the cake recipe, as created by Sarah of Clever Cook, won recipe of the year for 2012 on the Thermomix Recipe Community!

You can of course make this cake using a high powered blender or food processor, anything that will get both the beans and the cashews blended into a very smooth paste. I actually didn't let my cashews get smooth enough as you can see from the picture but that's one of the hazards of baking with kids, things sometimes get rushed or missed!

I will be making both of these again and will update this post with my tweaks.

Magic Bean Chocolate Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting © www.foodbabylife.com

Magic Bean Chocolate Cake (Thermomix)
Recipe from Clever Cook

450g canned kidney beans – drained and rinsed
1 tbs water or coffee
1 tbs vanilla extract
70g cocoa powder
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
1/4 ts salt
125g softened butter or oil
180g brown sugar (I would suggest cutting this back by at least 1/3)
5 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius fan-forced. Grease a ring or bundt pan very well and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together on speed 5 for 45 seconds.

Add the beans, water/coffee, I egg and vanilla and beat again until smooth on speed 7.

Add the remaining eggs and beat for 20 seconds on speed 4.

Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend on speed 4 for 10 seconds.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 45) or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cashew Cream Frosting (Thermomix)
Adapted from Clever Cook

130g raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
3 tbs rice malt syrup
1 tbs cacao
2 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts salt
70g water
90g coconut oil

Put the first 5 ingredients into the thermomix and grind on speed 9 for 1 minute. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and add the water and coconut oil. Blend for a further 3 minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl a few times. It will eventually become smooth. Check for sweetness and add more syrup if needed. If it is too thick add a little more water, a few teaspoons as a time. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours. Whip again before using if has set hard.

Both the cake and frosting are packed with protein and very nutrient dense, so a small piece goes a long way!