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DIY Golden RoughDo you remember growing up with those chocolate, coconut treats called Golden Roughs? They still sell them at the shop today. If you loved them growing up, then you’ll love this lovely home-made version. It tastes similar but is all natural and without all the nasties. It’s not suitable for lunch boxes as home-made chocolate tends to melt easily, but it makes a nice, guilt-free chocolate fix when you need it.

IngredientsIngredients1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup of almond butter or paste

1/4 cup of honey (or maple syrup)

1/4 cup of cocoa (or cacao powder)

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Pinch of salt

DirectionsInstructions

Melt all the ingredients in a small pan over a low heat.

Pour a small amount of mixture into the bottom of a 12-cup muffin tray.

Freeze for 1-hour until set.

Store in the freezer.

Enjoy with tea.DIY Golden Rough

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Gwyneth Paltrow CookiesI’m a little ambivalent about Gwyneth Paltrow, but I’m really starting to love her mum. These gorgeous cookies are a creation of Gwyneth Paltow’s mother and they feature in her cookbook My Father’s Daughter. They’re all the the things you would expect of a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe…sugar free, nutritious and healthy, but what suprised me was that they actually tasted like real cookies! So many sugar free recipes have a strange texture and taste, but these are just lovely.

The recipe is everywhere online if you google Lalo’s Cookies. I quarter the recipe because there’s no need for such a huge quantity of biscuits in my house, and they do start to soften after a day and lose their crunchiness. I am very fortunate to be in supply of lovely homemade jam from an aunty so I use real jam in the recipe which makes them extra special. I think little carob buds would be great also.

Lalo’s Cookies (Recipe Quartered)

Ingredients

1 cup barley flour
3/4 cup raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor (about ten 2-second pulses)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup
Your favourite jam

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Combine all the ingredients except for the jam together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  • Form into tablespoonful balls and space them evenly on cookie sheets.
  • Using your index finger, make an indent in each cookie. Fill each indent with a small spoonful of jam.
  • Bake until the cookies are evenly browned, about 15 or so minutes.
  • Let cool before eating.

Lalo Collage

 

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Baked Mushroom1

There’s a wonderful quote from food writer Micheal Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. These past few months I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my life. I find meat to be quite filling, so the challenge has been finding ‘hearty’ vegetarian options that are not too overloaded with carbohydrates. Mushrooms and cheese seem to fit the bill quite nicely. It’s hard to classify this little number…perhaps because it’s not quite substantial enough for a meal. I like to think of it as a wonderful entree preceding the starring vegetarian main or a moreish snack. I’ve made it a dozen times now and each time I love it more than the next. Recipe adapted from here.

Baked Mushrooms with Blue Cheese

Ingredients

4 large field mushrooms (stems removed)

150g blue cheese

Handful of crumbled/lightly crushed walnuts

1 small chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

1 brown onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

Baby spinach leaves for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Lightly fry onion in a small saucepan. Add garlic, chilli and rosemary till aromatic. Remove from heat.
  3. Add blue cheese and crumbled walnuts to the onion mixture in the pan and mix together to form a lumpy paste.
  4. Spoon mixture evenly into mushroom cups and smooth down.
  5. Place mushrooms on a tray with baking paper and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes in the oven.
  6. Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves. This cuts through the richness of the cheese and catches all those wonderful mushroom juices.

Baked Mushroom4

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Five Ways with Lilly PilliesLilly Pilly TreeDown our street and around the corner is a rather majestic Lilly Pilly tree, whose branches hang over a little lane-way.  Many Lilly Pilly trees are native to the East Coast of Australia and carry striking pink edible fruit. This vitamin-C rich fruit formed part of the diet of coastal Aboriginal communities. The fruit is quite acidic and tangy…I would describe it as being similar to a not-yet-ripe green apple with the texture of crisp watermelon. I’m surprised that my children snack on the fruit straight from the tree, undeterred by the sourness. While eating native foods is becoming much more common in Australia, it’s still not very widespread. Given the overabundance of this little native fruit in our lives recently, I’m pleased to present my top five ways with lilly pillies.

1) A native substitute for fresh flowers.Lilly Pillies in a Vase

2) Lilly Pilly Smoothie. Pictured below is two freshly juiced organic apples, a small organic banana and a cup of pitted lilly pillies blitzed in the food processor.

Lilly Pilly Smoothie

3) Table Decor. A sprig of lilly pilly tied with brown twine to a white cloth napkin.Lilly Pilly Table Napkin

4) Lilly Pilly Muffins. I adapted Donna Hay’s recipe for Blueberry Muffins to make the Lilly Pilly Muffins pictured below.DSC03833Lilly Pilly Muffins

5) The way nature intended…from the tree to the mouth.Toddler holding Lilly Pillies

A note on cooking with lilly pillies

If you’re planning to eat and/or cook with Lilly Pillies, please note that there is a hard little seed in the centre of the fruit, pictured here.
Lilly Pilly Seed
It’s easy to remove the seed by squashing the berry between your fingers. The prepped lilly pillies should look something like this.Pitted Lilly Pillies
This image shows diced lilly pillies in muffin batter. Cooking the lilly pillies makes them sweeter and more palatable.Lilly Pilly Muffin Batter
This NAIDOC week embrace some lilly pillies into your life!

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Not Ice Cream

Recently I’ve been visiting Little People Nutrition and was intrigued by a recipe for Dairy Free Banana Coconut “Ice Cream”.  Feeling curious, I decided to experiment with a combination of Banana, Raspberry and Coconut Cream. After trying this a couple of times now, I can honestly say…I can’t believe it’s not ice cream. This iced dessert is sugar-free, preservative free, additive free and colouring free. It has only three ingredients, can be made using completely organic products and is only sweetened by the natural sugars in the fruit.

Ingredients

1 can of coconut cream

2-3 ripe bananas

A cup or so of raspberries (or pre-packaged frozen raspberries)

Instructions

1) The night before, or early in the day, you will need to pour coconut cream into a couple of ice cube trays to freeze. You will also need to chop and freeze the bananas and the raspberries. Once these have set, you have your three ingredients. I used about a third of each.Ingredients

2) Place the three frozen ingredients into a food processor and blend. It may be difficult to blend at first if it’s frozen hard, but it will gradually break up. Stop every few moments to use a spatula to scrape down the sides and scoop off the base, then continue blending.

Food ProcessorThere’s something quite magical that happens during this process as air is whipped into the components. The end result is a lovely, light, ice cream-tasting dessert.  I am so looking forward to trying this with other fruits. Mango would be sublime…with some crushed macadamias included at the end. If you try this dessert at home, let me know what you think.

Pink Iced Dessert

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A Simple Fancy Salad

A Simple Elegant Salad

  • Baby spinach
  • Thinly sliced apple
  • Sliced red onion
  • Walnuts
  • Broken up blue cheese
  • Red wine vinegar and olive oil

Make to your desired proportions and dress with the vinegar and oil.

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You can feed a family of four a satisfying meal for $5 in less than 15 minutes. It’s not sexy, it’s not fancy and you may not want to serve it at a dinner party…but it is:

1. Healthy

2. Cheap

3. Filling

4. Quick to prepare.

5. Easy to conceal vegies.

5. Passes the trifecta baby/toddler/adult tastebud test.

Tuna Pasta is our ‘go-to’ meal. The quickest, easiest, mid-week meal in my cooking repertoire. It’s the meal I go to if I’m considering ordering take-away, as the ingredients are always in my pantry. Works just as well with any vegies!

Tuna Pasta

Ingredients

1 x 700g jar homebrand pasta sauce

1 x 400g tin homebrand diced tomatoes

1 x 185g tin homebrand tuna, drained

1 packet of homebrand thin spaghetti

1 brown onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small zucchini, grated or blitzed in food processor

1 small carrot, grated or blitzed in food processor

Cheese to serve

Instructions

1. Cook 3/4 packet of pasta in a large pot of boiling water.

2. Brown onion and garlic in a large saucepan.

3. Add sauce, diced tomatoes, vegies and tuna. Simmer while pasta cooks.

4. Serve with cheese.

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This recipe is adapted from a Milo Slice recipe on Best Recipes. It makes a great afternoon tea for kids, is easy to prepare and has the texture of a lovely dense, chewy muesli bar. It also freezes well.

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup firm-packed brown sugar

1 cup milo

1 egg whisked

125g butter melted

Instructions

1. Mix together all the dry ingredients.

2. Add in the melted butter and egg and stir well.

3. Press into a greased / lined slice tray.

4. Bake in a 180 degree oven for 15-20 mins.

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Warning: There is a confession at the end of this post.

I had never made a carrot cake up until recently. I always thought there was a token gesture of carrots in a carrot cake, but was amazed to discover that this cake has five whole carrots in it! That’s no token gesture…that’s dinner. This is the tastiest, most moist, addictively delicious cake I have ever made. It was so good I made a second one a few days later…which turned out just as great.
Here is the recipe, from Donna Hay’s website:

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  •  1¼ cups (220g) brown sugar
  •  ¾ cup (185ml) vegetable oil
  •  3 eggs
  •  1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  •  1½ teaspoons baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  ½ teaspoon ground ginger (see my confession below)
  •  2½ cups grated carrot (about 5 carrots)
  •  ½ cup (60g) chopped pecan nuts (I didn’t include these)
  •  ½ cup (80g) sultanas (I didn’t include these)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  •  250g cream cheese, softened
  •  ⅓ cup (110g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
  •  1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2–3 minutes.

Add the eggs gradually and beat well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger over the sugar mixture.

Add the carrot, pecans and sultanas and mix until just combined.

Pour into a greased 22cm-round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 55–60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Cool in tin.

For the cream cheese frosting, process the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth.

Add the icing sugar and lemon juice and process until smooth.

Spread frosting on the cooled cake.

Serves 8.

Confession time

Now…cough…this is the part of the post where I must make a small confession. When I made this cake, I kinda made a little mistake. I used ground coriander instead of ground ginger. Both times. The two jars looked so similar except that a few days later I realised the ground ginger still had its seal on it! Now it may sound crazy…but this was cake was un-freaking-believable with ground coriander. And hopefully there is some foodie out there that can explain to me why these flavours worked so well. So while I can completely vouch for this cake with ground coriander…I have yet to make it with ground ginger.

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I couldn’t resist doing a quick post about the meal I cooked last night. There’s loads of ingredients but don’t let this put you off. It’s actually very easy, with most of the work in the preparation. The chicken is mouth-watering and the flavours are very complex. The only minor change I made was to use 1kg of chicken thigh fillet (trimmed of fat and halved) instead of a whole chook cut into 8 pieces. I’m not a huge fan of currants but I resisted the urge to leave them out and stuck to the recipe exactly. I’m so glad I did as all the flavours work so harmoniously together. I recommend having some Baclava on hand for dessert. Perfection.

The recipe for Karen Martini’s famous Syrian Chicken can be found here.

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