Monday, April 30, 2012

Healtheries Wholesome Fruit Loaf

I found this recipe on the back of my Healtheries Ground Linseed packet.  I made it tentatively, not because I didn't think it would be yummy, but because I wasn't sure if it was something the kids would eat.  Its packed full of dried fruit, ground linseed and wheatgerm and just screams healthy.  I guess this is where I can be thankful that I have brought my children up on mostly wholesome food with as less packaged food as my time allows, because they totally love it.  Sprat requested it in his lunchbox this morning!

The recipe is as follows:

1 cup chopped pitted dates, firmly packed
1 cup of water
50g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup runny honey
1/2 cup Healtheries Ground Linseed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup chopped dried fruit (I use apricots, strawberries and sultanas)
1 cup white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup Healtheries Stabilised Wheatgerm

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.  The packet says fanbake, but I bake mine at 150 degrees on normal bake.  Line the base and sides of your loaf tin.

Place chopped dates into a large saucepan with water, butter, sugar and honey.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 2 minutes.  Take off heat, stir in baking soda and ground linseed and leave to cool for 5 - 10 minutes.

Once slightly cooled stir in eggs and other dried fruit.  Add in all other ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared tin and smooth the top.  Bake for approx 1 hour or until risen and golden and set.  Leave in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

I serve it to the kids either plain or with a light smear of butter.

You can vary your dried fruit as well - try kiwifruit or cranberries. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coconut Impossible Pie

Don't let my awful photo put you off this pie.  Its divine.  The hubby and I just ate a huge amount of it and I am now feeling glued to the couch.

I found this recipe on a wonderful website called Stay at Home Mum.  Its a great informative website on how to survive and thrive on a single wage.  Its packed full of so much information from thrifty beauty tips to great recipes.  You can also follow them on Facebook here.

For a better photo and the recipe check out the Stay at Home Mum link here. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shaving Foam Painting

This is a favourite activity in our house.  I often coincide it with when my windows need cleaning, because the children love to paint the foam on, and then love to wash it off again.  Means all my windows are nice and sparkly afterwards with minimal effort from me.  Clever huh!

I buy cheap cans of budget shaving foam from the supermarket, squirt it into empty ice cream containers, mix in a bit of food colouring and let the children go for it.  They usually start on the windows, and then move to their bikes and other outside toys.

Today was the first time Danger Mouse played with the foam without Sprat.  He wasn't being told what to do (bless Sprat), so he decided it would be more fun to paint himself. 

The Girl had a go today as well.  This isn't really an activity for babies, as the foam is toxic to eat and will sting if it gets in their eyes, but I was closely monitoring her so felt happy with her playing in it.

I filled up the water trough afterwards with warm water so they could clean themselves up.

Danger Mouse wanted to clean his shorts.  He tried to climb into the trough to clean them, but with a gentle suggestion from me he realised he could take them off and clean them in the water, then put them back on again!  A great lesson for him!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sprats Robot Party

My baby boy is 5!  I hate the saying they grow up so fast.  But it is so true! 

He decided on a Robot Theme for his 5th birthday, and I have had heaps of fun trawling the internet getting ideas for his birthday party.  Here are a few pics of the day.

Mini cupcakes.  I decided as children often only eat the icing off cupcakes I would try mini cupcakes, and the kids ate the whole lot.  In the back ground are marshmallows dipped in coloured white chocolate.

Cosmic Cookies - idea inspired from here.

The birthday cake, which I found on Pinterest - check out the link here.

Food table

Contents of the loot bags.  Nuts and Bolts link found here with free printables

We had the children decorate their own robots, which they got to take home with them.  Hubby drew the robot and cut them all out on cardstock and I just brought a heap of stickers, glue, paint, pens, poms poms and pipe cleaners from the Dollar Store and let them go for it.

Some of the finished masterpieces.

Sprat loved his day and told me I was the bestest mummy in the world.  Love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dollar Shop Blow Pens

I have been collecting a few 'rainy' day activities for the children lately. Its my contingency plan for the days when I am feeling really under the weather and the kids need entertaining. Some of them are things I have picked up from the Dollar Shop and others are activity packs I have put together myself.

Something that has been great entertainment for the children the last few days is our 3 man tent. We put it up in the back yard and have been letting the children 'go camping' each afternoon after kindy.  We had really heavy rain last night, and because I didn't have the outside cover over it, its now a swimming pool and its too cold to play out in the water this afternoon (as fun as that would be)!

So I needed a dry activity and picked some Blow Pens out of the activity draw.

They said they were for 4 years plus but I figured Danger Mouse would be able to handle them and he did really well.

They probably are not really an inside activity - they can spray quite far and are not washable, but I explained to the boys they needed to be careful and I was really impressed at the care they took.

I had to have a go.  And who knows why, but I am now sporting lovely blue lips and a blue nostril.  It won't wash off.  I do need to go out this afternoon and am not sure how I am going to conceal it.

I am sure I can probably make some of these that are a bit more cleaner friendly, but overall the boys were extremely entertained and did really well.  And they can be used over and over.  Maybe next time I'll just leave it up to the boys to play though and avoid the additional face colour.

The Girl wanted to join in, so as I often do I set her up in her highchair with paper and some Crayola Pip-Squeaks washable markers.

And in case you are interested in some of the things that are hiding in my activity draw, I have GloSticks (great to put in the bathtub at night time with the kids); pipe cleaners and beads; stencils; colouring in sheets printed off the Internet; stickers; balloons; a few puzzles brought from the second hand shop that the boys haven't seen yet; magazine cut outs, glitter and glue for collage; masking tape (for masking tape roads!), just to name a few.  I am going to make a concentrated effort to sneak more into this draw so I can surprise the kids with fun activities on those 'trying' days that all mummies have!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Strawberry and Vanilla Layer Cake

I celebrated my birthday yesterday by making myself a huge cake.  Who doesn't need a huge cake on their birthday? 

You may recall I made the hubby a Rainbow Cake for his birthday last year, and it gave me the idea do something similar for my own cake, but in pretty girly pinks.

I used the same base as the Rainbow Cake - recipe of which is found here at Whisk Kid.  Now I had great intentions of adding pureed strawberries and real vanilla ... but come on, 3 children under 5 ... some days your great intentions just don't pan out.  So I added Strawberry Essence (4 teaspoons) in the butter and sugar creaming process and it tastes lovely.  Pah, who needs fresh fruit huh?

I followed the same instructions to make the cake, just swapping the rainbow colours for pink.  I separated my cake mixture into 6 bowls, and using the same pink gel, added a small amount in the first bowl, gradually working up to a larger amount in the last bowl to get a graduated pink effect.

I gave the cake a strawberry flavoured buttercream crumb coat, before icing in roses in plain buttercream tinted pink.  I used my Wilton 1M tip to get the rose effect, and you can google this as there are plenty of tutorials out there showing how to do this.

I can also admit here I was going to sandwich the layers together with Strawberry infused White Chocolate Ganache .... next time huh.  Some days, things just don't come together, but the end result is still amazing.

Must be morning tea time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Marbled Jelly Bean Eggs

I saw this idea in my latest Thats Life magazine.  My egg turned out WAY brighter than I expected, but I am still really pleased with the result and will be making these as gifts next Easter.

What you need:
Egg shaped chocolate moulds
White Nestle Melts
Gel colouring in your choice of colours
Jelly beans

Polish your chocolate moulds with cotton balls or muslin. 

Melt your chocolate (follow packet instructions) and divide the chocolate between three bowls.  Tint two portions in your choice of colours and leave one white.  Let it cool slightly.

Spoon equal amounts of each chocolate into each mould, half filling each one.  Using the back of a spoon, swirl the chocolate up the sides of the mould.  Balancing the moulds so they are lying even, place them into the fridge for a quick set or a cool dark place (not the fridge) for a slower set.  Chocolate is better set outside the fridge, so if you have the time, place it in a cool dark place.  I left mine in the cupboard overnight.  You know when it is set as the chocolate appears dull and will of shrunk away from the sides of the mould.

Carefully remove the chocolate from the mould.  I am not sure if there is a trick to this, apart from making sure your chocolate has fully set and being VERY careful!

For the next bit you need to be quick! The hubby helped me here.  Get the right amount of jelly beans for half filling your egg ready to go.  Heat a clean, dry and empty saucepan and gently place, one at a time, each egg flat side down onto the warm bottom until they melt slightly.  Be fast here.  Quickly place the jelly beans into one half and join the two halves together, holding for a few seconds until they are set together.

You can choose to also seal the two eggs together with left over melted chocolate instead of the above, but I liked melting the edges as it evened out any lumps or ridges on the edges and sealed it much neater.

You can now wrap in cellophane or foil egg wrapping and give as gifts.  The hubby and I have decided next year we are going to make these and fill with non edible treats, such as a match box car etc to make our own versions of Kinder Surprises for the children. 

I haven't worked with chocolate much, aside from dabbling each Christmas in making my own moulded chocolates, and I have decided I really enjoy it and am looking forward to next Easter so I can really have a good play.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Lemon Cupcakes

Who needs an excuse to make a batch of cupcakes?  My boys asked me for Easter Cupcakes this morning, so we made these for morning tea. 

I used my basic vanilla cupcake recipe found here.  Obviously omit the blue food colouring, and add a tablespoon or so of lemon rind into the butter and sugar creaming process.

Decorate as you please.  I had some Raisin Eggs that I found stashed in my baking container, so just popped those on the top of butter icing. 

Roll on tomorrow when the real sugar high begins!

Breadmaker Hot Cross Buns

I've been making these for the last 4 years and never does a batch last more than an hour.  They are divine.  Need I say more!  You will need to follow your breadmakers instructions for dough making.

Ingredients (in order of how they should go into the breadmaker)
3 teaspoons Surebake yeast
450g white flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange rind
1 egg
200 ml water

3/4 cup sultanas
2 tablespoons mixed peel

Put all ingredients in your breadmaker in the order above and follow your breadmakers instructions on making dough.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 20 - 30 minutes.  Or if you are lazy like me you can just leave in your breadmaker.

Shape into 10 - 12 buns depending on size.

Cover and leave to rise in a warm place (30 - 35 degrees) for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Put on crosses.  To make crosses mix 1/2 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of oil, and then add sufficient water to make a stiff paste.  Put into a piping bag and pipe into the shape of crosses.

Bake in a preheated 200 degree oven for 15 -25 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush over glaze.  To make glaze boil together 3 tablespoons milk with 3 tablespoons of castor sugar until syrupy.

Lather with butter and enjoy hot from the oven.  Hmmmm.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Cookies

This was a fun project I completed with the kids.  Danger Mouse loves being in the kitchen with me and Sprat enjoys icing biscuits as presents for everyone.  Being Easter how could I resist getting them to decorate Easter Egg shaped cookies.  While they were concentrating on painting them it gave me a good opportunity to explain why we celebrate Easter, that its not just about chocolate and bunnies.

I made my Basic Butter Biscuit recipe found here and iced with Royal Icing.  I then just mixed some liquid food colouring with a bit of water, gave the kids some paint brushes and let them go for it.

I was a bit worried about letting the children loose with food colouring, but the only messy incident we had was when I knocked over a cup of yellow food colouring!

Here is Sprat with his rainbow cookie I made him using Writing Icing.