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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Snack ideas for a hot day!

It has been so hot here in Perth.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like to cook when it gets really hot.  So instead we eat lots of sandwiches, salads and wraps.   Blame it on the weather for not cooking, good excuse!

Anyway, I do find that the kids gets hungry after school, around 3 o’clock.  And yes, it is still scorching hot at 3, so I found a few snack ideas that will fill them up,keep them cool and it’s HEALTHY as well.  Trust me is super duper easy!

Yummy banana and summer berries!

It may look like an ice cream, it has the consistency of ice cream, but this is even better than ice cream.  It’s only made up of  2 ingredients.

equal quantities of:

1. Frozen bananas

2. Frozen summer berries (blueberry, raspberry and strawberry)

Simply put chopped frozen bananas and frozen berries into a food processor and blitz until is smooth.  That’s it!  Easy!

The way I like to serve them is with an ice cream scooper, you can put it on an ice cream cone as well if you like.  My kids loves this banana and berries ice cream, and if your kids are not really into fruits you don’t really have to tell them what’s in it!

Mango Smoothies

I make this smoothies a lot!  Usually I will make a batch right before I pick Stella up from school.  Both Stella and Jake loves it, perfect for a hot day.  This smoothies is cold, filling and delicious.

Mango Smoothies:

1.  Mango, chopped into 2 cm pcs

2.  Low fat Vanilla Yoghurt

3.  Low fat milk

4.  Honey (to taste)

Throw all the ingredients in a blender and again blitz until is smooth and creamy.  I don’t have an exact measurement for this, so if you think is too thick add more milk.  If it’s too sour to your liking add a little more honey.  What I love about this is you can add other leftover fruits (eg. I always have 3 or 4 strawberries left in a box)  so throw them in,  then you will have Mango and Strawberry smoothies.   Another great fruit combo is : Banana and strawberries.

Frozen grapes!

I always have this last snack idea in the freezer.  It is simply “Frozen grapes!”.  So one ingredient: grape (any type as long as it is seedless)

Grapes in the freezer bag

Wash the grapes and stick them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer for about 4-5 hours until the grapes are frozen.  We bought our grapes from the growers so is super fresh then I would prepare them to go to the freezer that day.  It keeps the grapes fresh and no more mouldy grapes in the bottom of your fridge drawers.

All these snack ideas are best eaten pretty much as soon as you made them, except for the frozen grapes!  But once they are frozen, they are ready to eat anytime.  What I love about it is that is healthy and packed with loads of vitamins and anti-oxidants.  Best of all no artificial flavouring and colouring.

A great alternative for ice cream on a hot day – definitely!

Just a little note about snacking and treat:  I don’t give out treat everyday to my kids.  My motto is “Is a treat so it’s sometimes food”.  Don’t get me wrong we do not deprived them from it but we also do not make a big deal out of it.  I try to give them healthy food that they like and encourage them to try new fruits and veges.

I am big on this, I think teaching children to have a healthy lifestyle is important!  I hope it will give them a good start with their eating habbits.

I also think that people around the children need to support them by giving them good example of eating healthily.  My parents knows about how I feel about this and they fully support me, so I know they will not ‘bribe‘ the kids with sweets and ice creams.  However, I do find it hard when people start giving them endless treats just to get the kids to like them!  Not to mention it confuses the kids.

So I hope by sharing these ideas, more people realized that there are lots of easy home made alternatives to sweet, unhealthy snacks and hopefully start experiment making their own!

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Elephants theme cake and cupcakes

Made this elephants theme cake and cupcakes recently.  It’s for two sisters who are celebrating their birthday together. 

The elephants are inspired by the super duper cute birthday invitation and of course being a girly girly cake, I love to add flowers, bow, hearts and cute little birdies. 

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

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More cakes!

September and October has been a very busy two months for me.  Mainly because I took more cake order than usual.  The problem with me is that I love the challenge, it’s very gratifying when the outcome surpass the client!

The only thing is that I still feel really guilty, because I feel that the kids seems to be left alone doing their own thing.  Another thing that make me super guilty is they watched me make the cakes and asked me a million time if I was making the cake for them.  “Ohh… very guilty!”  By the time it comes to Stella or Jake’s birthday, if there is cake order I ended up making something very simple for them.  I mean, the kids loves the cake that I made for them, but I know I could do something better for them.  So,  with that in mind, in November I’ve decided to give myself plenty of time to make cake for Stella’s birthday and in the process I’ve politely knock down a number of orders.

Here are the cakes that I made in September and October, and since our family is taking part in the Big Walk to raise money for PMH.  All the profit from my September and October cake order is donated to this worthy course. 

Simple Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese and strawberry

Ellena's Totoro garden cake

...and it comes with flower decorated cupcakes

Alexia's princess castle cake

20 boxes of set of 4 cupcakes for baby Aldrik's 1 month

green tea cupcakes

Cars, Planes, Trucks and Helicopters cake for my gorgeous nephew!

Blue and red cake

Racing cars cupcakes

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I am a self tought baker, cake decorator.  I am still learning lots of new things, and I must say, there are a lot of generous cake decorators out there who shares their tips and secret. 

Now, there are lots of people who asked  if cake decorating is hard.  Well, it is definitely an art I think.  It is hard but why not get some fondant and give it a go!  It is a lot of trial and error.  Working out colours and position can sometimes take hours.  There are times when I can’t go to bed because I can’t work out where to put things. 

The biggest high for me is when I see people jumping up and down looking at the final product, in other word “appreciating my hard work“.  And this is one of those cupcakes that brought me lots of joy.  It was for a 4 year old boy who wanted a ghost cupcakes.  The mum ordered the cuppies and when she saw it she was grinning from side to side, honestly, I can’t even stop her from giving me compliments.  She really made my day!

Here is my ghost cupcakes. 

If you are wondering what makes the ghost 3D.  The secret is marshmallow and allen’s ripe raspberries. 

Cover the marshmallow/raspberries lollies with fondant that has been rolled and cut into circles with cookie cutter.  Add some eyes and mouth (I used pen with edible ink).  And you got yourself a ghost figurines!

To attached the ghost figurines onto the cupcakes, I used a dollop of thick royal icing in the middle.  Make sure you use a thick royal icing, it makes the ghost figurines appeared to float.  I thought that was cute!

This ghost cupcakes is great for haloween, and a really great activity to do with kids.  Both Stella and Jake helped me out with sticking the raspberry and marshmallow.  I covered the fondant myself, just because this is for someone’s birthday.  But, children definitely can make this.  So, why not make some with the kids for haloween!

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A month ago, Stella and I made potato foccacia together. Jake was out with daddy for his swimming lesson.

What I like about the recipe is it is very easy.  No extreme kneading, and the ingredients are easily in your pantry.

Stella did all the measurement.  She watched excitedly when the dough rises and I must say we were really pleased with the flavour and texture of the foccacia.  Out of the oven, crunch on the outside and chewy on the inside.  Super yum!  One thing that you must remember is that focaccia is best eaten the day you bake them.

Just to show you how fun and easy it is, here are some few pictures:  (It was a bad day for picture taking, we had sun, cloud and rain all in 2 hours)

mix yeast + lukewarm water

make a well in the centre of the flour

adding the yeast mixture to the flour

add mashed potato...

add 1 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp sugar

first mix the ingredients with spoon

then get your hand dirty and mix until a dough is form

writting the time on the masking tape

at 9 o'clock

10 o'clock, almost doubled in size

at 11 o'clock ready to go to the oven

Here is the recipe:

(adapted from the Good Food Magazine)

1 potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes

7 g dry yeast

140 ml lukewarm water

300 g plain flour

60 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

marinated olives, halves or sea salt

(If you are making plain focaccia, scatter some sea salt on top.  For olive focaccia omit the sea salt)

Place potato in a pan.  Cover with cold water.  Heat on medium.  Bring to boil.  Cook for 10-15 mins until tender.  Drain and then mash.  (I do this myself before hand, so it will be cooled enough when start making the dough)

Dissolved yeast in lukewarm water.

Place flour in a large bowl (transparent bowl is fantastic, so the kids can see how much the dough rise)  and make a well in centre.  Add yeast mixture. Mix to combine. Add mashed potato, 1 tbs olive oil, sugar and salt.  Mix first with spoon until all the liquid is incorporated then use hand to knead it a little until they all combine together.  The dough won’t be super smooth, you will be able to see little bits of mashed potato.  But they should all come together and looks like a bread dough.  Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 2 hrs, until doubled in size.

Now, when we were doing it, when we finished mixing the dough, it was 9 o’clock.  So I got a masking tape and asked Stella to check the height of the dough and stick the masking tape on the side of the bowl and write 9 on it.  She then checked it every now and then.  Then at 10 o’clock we got another masking tape and check the dough.  Stella was super excited that the dough was growing.  She kept on asking what made it grow.

It was interesting for me to see her ‘play’ cooking with Jake afterwards and then taught him how to cover the dough with cling wrap and tea towel and she measured the ‘dough’ and put a masking tape on the side of the bowl as well.  She even told him that the yeast makes it rise.  Now that is education right?!

Preheat oven to 200 C fan.  Grease a baking tray.  Punch down dough with fist.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to form a 1.5cm thick rectangle.  Using fingers first dip in the remaining olive oil, and make dimples in dough.  Drizzle remaining of olive oil reserving about 1/2 tbs, then scatter sea salt flakes or some marinated olive.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn tray around and bake for a nother 10 minutes, until bread is golden and cooked through.  Brush with the remaining olive oil and serve warm or at room temperature.

I took some picture of the cooked focaccia, but they didn’t turn out well.  It was chaos when Jake got home, both kids were hungry.  So forget about taking picture of the focaccia, nothing is more scarier than hungry children!  We had them with pumpkin soup.  There were none left!!

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This is a ‘must try’ recipe.  The banana muffin is egg  and dairy free.  Please for those with kids with egg allergy, give this recipe a try!  After trying heaps of egg and dairy free banana muffin, I find this is the best!  It’s moist and they just taste like what a banana muffin should taste.  My kids loves them and I brought them to a friends place last week and they didn’t even know that it was egg free.  Enough of the rave, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

220 g plain flour

4 g baking powder

4 g baking soda

1 tbs vanilla extract

120 g muscovado (or light brown) sugar

85 ml vegetable oil

50 ml soya milk

25 ml hot water

60 g chocolate chip (make sure is egg and dairy free)

50 g sultanas

3 – 4 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a small cup mix the baking soda with the hot water, let it stand for a few minutes.  Mashed the bananas and pour the baking soda mixture to the mashed bananas.  Mix a little.

In a medium bowl mix the sugar, oil and milk with a wooden spoon.  By the way, unused Avent bottles are perfect for measuring,  and they are the perfect size for little kids.  So don’t throw them out, give them a second life in the kitchen.

Sift the flour and baking powder together.  Make a well in the centre and then pour all the wet ingredients to the centre of the bowl.  Mix with wooden spoon until all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the sultanas and choc chip. Mix again.  Scoop them into muffin tins that has been lined with muffin paper.  Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes (depending on the size of the muffin tin).  Insert skewer and check that the muffin is cooked through.

Great activity to do with the kid.  As you can see, I was making it with Jake.  He was having so much fun.  Just remember when you cook with kids, a simple 10 minutes preparation time like this recipe will end up to be more like 30 minutes.  So, make sure you are not rushing. The banana muffins are perfect for after school snack and lunch box treat the next day.  

one word "yummy"

I love the muffin shape.  That’s all because of the special tin that I got from Ikea.  Love… love it! 

Then afterwards Jake even help me with some of the washing.

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I got this “Jar full of Cookies” from Stella for Mother’s day.  It was a while ago, but I wanted to share the recipe, because it’s so easy and is great for kids.  On the plus side, it is perfect for kids/ people who is allergic to egg.  It’s an egg free cookie recipe.

Going back to Mother’s day, I got invited to kindy, and we were presented with treats that the kids made during the week and they sang a song about how they love their mummies!  At the end of the afternoon tea each mum got a card and this jar that was decorated by each of their kids filled up with the dry ingreadients of the cookies along with the instruction card and it says:

Inside this jar are the dry ingredients:

3/4 c flour

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c dessicated coconut

1/2 c chocolate chip

Empty the dry ingredients into a bowl.

add 65 g of melted butter, 3 tbs milk and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Mix together and form the mixture into a small ball.

Place on a greased baking tray and press down

Bake on 180 C for 12 minutes

The cookies were yummy, it only lasted 2 days in the jar.  I love it when I got the chance to cook or bake in the kitchen with the kids.  I got to see the kids working together, Stella teaching Jake how to mix, helping him out with the bowl and spatula and Jake loves it!  How time flies… can’t believe that Stella is 4 1/2 and Jake will be 2 in a few months!

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