Slow Cooker Series: Carrot Cake

Did you know you can make desserts in your slow cooker? I tried this carrot cake recipe and loved it. Give it a try. If you don’t have a slow cooker you good use the recipe and just cook it in your oven, I believe it would be just as delicious.

Carrot Cake (Recipe from book ‘Slow Cooker’ By Parragon Books www.parragon.com/lovefood)

Ingredients

  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 55g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra greasing
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 450g carrots, grated
  • 60g desiccated coconut
  • 35g sultanas (optional)
  • cream to serve

Steps

  • Grease the inside of the slow cooker with oil.
  • Put the flour, bicarb soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a small bowl and mix to combine. Put the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar into a medium sized bowl and whisk together until well combined. Add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. Fold in the carrots and coconut, and the sultanas, if using.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared slow cooker. Place several sheets of kitchen paper on top of the slow cooker, then put the lid on top to secure the kitchen paper in place above the cake mixture. Cook on low for 2 hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leaving the cake in the ceramic insert, remove it from the slow cooker and transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. Cut the cake into wedges to serve, serve warm or room temperature with cream if you like.

Enjoy.

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Pear, sweet potato and ginger soup

Another soup recipe? Yes I may be overloading you with soup recipes but they are very popular in our house, and as I have stated before it’s a great way to get Leroy to eat lots of vegetables and he really enjoys dipping his bread into the soup. This soup recipe is deliciously sweet with a punch of ginger, the pear and ginger flavors work great together.

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 1 small white onions, diced
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 3 firm pears, cubed
  • 1ltr vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 800g orange sweet potato, cubed

Steps

  • Melt butter in pan, add onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add pear, carrots and sweet potato, stirring for 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil, cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Blend mixture together using food processor or stickmaster until smooth, blend in batches if needed. Return mixture to pan and gently reheat without boiling.
  • Season to taste. Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy.

Sorry i forgot to take a photo, it basically looks like pumpkin soup.

Yum!

Marinated rockling with pak choy

A simple tasty fish dish, this simple marinade was given to me by a friend many moons ago, it can be used on many mild flavoured fish types.

ingredients

Marinade

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (use less if your little one doesn’t like chilli or exclude all together)
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 4 rocking fillets
  • 3 bunches pak choy, separate leaves
  • rice

Steps

  • Mix all marinade ingredients together, marinade fish approx 1 hr before cooking. Set aside in fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place baking paper on large oven tray, place fillets on paper and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until just cooked. Reserve a little marinade to baste fish occasionally and reserve the rest to cook with pak choy.
  • While fish is cooking you can cook the pak choy. Boil or steam pak choy until just tender, drain. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan, stir fry pak choy in marinade until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Place Pak choy and fish in 2 separate serving dishes, including cooking juices.
  • Serve with rice

Enjoy.

Chicken pasta herby 6-veg ragu from Jamie Olivers 15 minute meals by Jamie Oliver

Another great recipe by Jamie Oliver, perfect for the family, full of goodness and flavour. I love that this recipe blitzes up all the vegetables and they are hidden in the tomato pasta sauce. Once again it was not possible to complete in 15 minutes, I managed to get it to the table in 40 minutes. Give it a try.

Ragu ingredients

  • 1 large leek
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 jarred red peppers
  • olive oil
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 700g passata

Pasta ingredients

  • 320g dried wholewheat pasta
  • 2 x 150g skinless chicken breast
  • 3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 1/2 a fresh chilli (i left out as too hot for Leroy)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • balsamic vinegar
  • parmesan cheese, to serve

Steps

  • Split the leek lengthways, rinse under the cold tap, then finely chop in the processor with the trimmed celery and carrot, the courgette and peppers. Put into the casserole pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, the thyme leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir regularly. Put the pasta into the large pan, cover with boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions.
  • Dice the chicken into 2cm chunks and put into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, tossing regularly until golden and cooked through. Stir the passata into the vegetables and simmer. Finely slice the bacon (and chilli) and add to the golden chicken, then squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher. Strip in the rosemary leaves, add the bay leaves and pine nuts, fry for a minute or two, until bacon is golden, then drizzle with balsamic.
  • Season the sauce, drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of starchy cooking water, then toss the pasta with the sauce, loosening with the cooking water, if needed, and pour on to a platter. Scatter the chicken and bacon on top of the pasta and serve with a grating of Parmesan.

Delicious, enjoy.

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Winter warmers: Capsicum, spinach, bean and chickpea soup

A nutritious hearty soup to warm you up during the cold winter days.

Ingredients

  • 10 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 400g can butter beans
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 700g tomato passata
  • 1 ltr vegetable stock

Steps

  • Heat oil in saucepan and stir in spring onions, cook on reduced heat for 3 minutes, until softened. Remove seeds from capsicums and puree in food processor until you have a smooth consistency. Add to pan along with garlic and cumin, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add passata and stock to pan, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, beans, vinegar and sugar to soup, simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and remove pan from heat. Season to taste and serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top ans crusty bread.

These flavours work great together, you could also add chilli to this dish for some heat. Enjoy

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Did you know?: Health Benefits of Popcorn

Popcorn? Yes it’s true, it’s not only delicious but also good for you.

A serving of popcorn a day has more antioxidants than fruit and vegetables. I’m not referring to the sugar-coated or buttery types, just the plain popcorn. Popcorn contains fibre and is the only snack that is 100% whole grain. It’s a great option to serve as a snack to children as healthy and fun to eat!

Some quick health benefits of Popcorn;

  • Low in fat, high in fibre
  • Rich in complex carbohydrates
  • Its antioxidants can help protect against cancers, heart diseases, and other illnesses that are caused by free radicals (cells that attack other healthy ones).

If you can’t eat popcorn plain there are some healthy topping options. Link below to topping ideas.

  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Cinnamon

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/healthy-toppings-hotair-popcorn-3472.html

popcorn

Pear & Coconut Muffins – Dairy & wheat free

These muffins are a little treat for kids (and their mums) without being too naughty. The ground almond and rice flour create a different texture to the usual muffin, though still very tasty. I enjoyed mine with a cup of tea and Leroy managed to eat 2 whole muffins before I had even took a bite. He loves it when I’m baking though he has no concept of time so struggles being patient. I believe he thought it was worth the wait in the end.

Ingredients

1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal (check packet does not contain traces of wheat, if so you can ground your own)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 large tin of pears, drained
1/2 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons of honey

Steps

Preheat oven to 180degrees, grease 12 hole muffin pan. Beat eggs and then add oil and honey.
Combine almond meal, coconut, flour and baking soda. Blitz up pears into small pieces. Add pears to mixture and combine gently. Add egg mixture to bowl. Divide mixture into muffin pan holes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Leave muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out. Serve warm.

Note – If you would prefer more sweetness in your muffins you could use 3/4 cup caster sugar instead of honey. Once they are baked you could also sprinkle some icing sugar. Pears could be substituted for berries or peaches.

Enjoy.

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Dairy free muesli squares

Well it’s been awhile since my last blog. Sorry for my absence, I have just been so busy juggling Leroy & Leila. I haven’t had the chance to be creative and try new recipes, I have just been cooking our trusted family favourites. Today I had some time on my hands so I decided to make some dairy free muesli bars for snacks for the family. The past month I have given up dairy as directed by my doctor as it may be the cause of Leila’s eczema. It honestly hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be though I am missing cheese & chocolate of course. Normally I make muesli bars with condensed milk but this recipe is without this ingredient and they were just as yummy. Give them a try.

Dairy free muesli squares

Ingredients

1 cup of traditional oats
1 cup of roasted cashew nuts
1 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of almond meal
1 cup of mixed dried fruit, chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons honey

Steps

Preheat oven to 180degrees.Line dish with baking paper allowing overhang. Blitz nuts into a fine powder consistency.
Combine oats, nuts, almond meal, coconut and fruit into a bowl. Separately whisk egg, vegetable oil and honey together. Stir into the muesli mixture.
Transfer mixture into your baking dish and press down firmly to even out. Sprinkle some oats on the top. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan first, then cut into the squares and serve.

Enjoy.

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Slow Cooker Series: Massaman beef curry

I am still really enjoying my slow cooker and I am slowly building recipes, today’s recipe was found at the Taste website, the link is below. It was very easy to prepare and very tasty. Massaman curry is mild so great for kids. Highly recommended.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/27841/slow+cooker+massaman+beef+curry

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 750g beef chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 medium brown onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Thai massaman curry paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, vein removed, chopped
  • 270ml can coconut milk
  • 500g desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, thickly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Steamed rice, chopped dry roasted
  • Peanuts and coriander leaves, to serve

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook beef, in batches, for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned. Transfer to the bowl of a 5-litre slow-cooker.

Heat remaining oil in pan. Add onion. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add paste and garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Transfer to slow cooker. Add cardamom, cinnamon, lime leaves, coconut milk, potato, carrot, fish sauce and sugar. Cover with lid. Turn slow-cooker on to low.

Cook for 8 hours or until beef is tender.Discard cardamom pods and cinnamon. Add lime juice. Serve with rice and sprinkle with peanuts and coriander.

Enjoy.

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Winter Warmers: Cauliflower & red lentil soup

Another freezing cold day in Melbourne so craving some hot and healthy soup to warm me up and make me feel good. Today its Cauliflower and red lentil soup, deliciously nutritious. Leroy enjoyed the soup, the cauliflower breaks down along with the lentils so he was slurping it all up with the broth, and enjoying dipping his bread into the broth. I find soup is a great way to get veggies into him!

Ingredients

  • 1 lrg head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 yellow capsicum, chopped
  • 1ltr chicken stock
  • 1ltr boiling water (use more water if you like more broth)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of saffron

Steps

  • Cover lentils completely with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes, drain most of water from bowl after 10 minutes.
  • Saute leek in olive oil for a few minutes then add carrots, capsicum, garlic, ginger, and coriander. Stir to combine all for a few minutes.
  • Pour in stock, boiling water, lentils and stir to combine. Bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add cauliflower & bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
  • Season to taste. Serve with crusty bread.

Variation – you can use 1 tsp of ground turmeric instead of saffron. Chill flakes or chilli paste can be added to your bowl separately to add some heat or you can add directly into pot if your kids like chilli.

Enjoy.

Steps

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