Tag Archives: Lunch Box Legends

Homemade: Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

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Last Christmas I received Alyce Alexandra‘s cookbook ‘Quick Fix in the Thermomix’ as a gift from my family and I love it! The cookbook is beautiful to read with stunning photography and food styling throughout, and all of the recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious. Alyce is a self-taught cook who grew up in a Thermomix household. She now has several cookbooks out, including her most recent ‘Quick Fix: For Every Occasion’ (which is on my wish list!). 

You can access some of Alyce’s free recipes by subscribing to her online newsletter for free.  At the moment the selection of free recipes includes Cranberry and Hazelnut Crackers, Chewy Tropical Oat Bars, Blueberry & Mint Smoothies, Chickpea & Chorizo Stew, Saffron Mussel Risotto, Middle Eastern Chicken Salad and more. You can see why I like this site!

I’m going to share Alyce’s Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto recipe here today. It is so incredibly delicious. Great as a dip, spread on flat bread pizzas, cooked into pizza scrolls, stirred into beaten egg and cooked into mini frittatas, tossed through pasta or any other way you can think to use it.

My kids absolutely love this pesto. It makes a super-quick dinner stirred through cooked pasta. Additionally I often pop it in their lunch boxes with some crackers or veggie sticks. If your school is nut-free like ours, just be sure to omit the pine nuts from the recipe.

Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients

  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 60g olive oil
  • 300g semi sun dried tomatoes
  • 50g raw baby spinach
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place cubed parmesan in TMX and grate 5 sec, Sp 9 and set aside
  2. Place garlic cloves in TMX and chop 5 sec, Sp 5, then scrape down TMX bowl
  3. Add olive oil and sauté 6 min, 100C, Sp 1
  4. Add tomatoes, spinach, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and salt
  5. Chop 4 sec, Sp 6
  6. Transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge (ideally wash jar in hot, soapy water and dry with a clean tea towel or wash in dishwasher)
  7. Lasts 2-3 weeks in fridge

Please note that I have posted this recipe and recommendation for Alyce Alexandra’s website and cook books solely of my own volition and without receiving remuneration of any type.

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Feeding the Funky Bunch: Black Bean Brownies

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So here it is (drumroll please), my first guest blogger! How exciting. My good friend Em makes these gorgeous black bean brownies which are a healthy treat that the whole family can enjoy. They are an absolute hit with the kids and are packed with nutrients. Great for an after school snack or in their lunchbox, and yum for everyone else too!
Black beans are considered a ‘superfood’ because they are packed with a rare combination of protein and fibre which is great for the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, and for regulating blood sugar. This protein-fibre combination is not found in fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds or seafood. Only in legumes, including black beans.
Em says “These are fantastic, always moist and chocolatey, and without a hint of the goodness of the beans hidden within. They can be made dairy free using milk free chocolate. I have not tried to make gluten free but I believe the plain flour can be replaced with a GF option”.
Preparation: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Black Bean Brownies
Ingredients
  • 250g (3/4 cup) cooked black beans*
  • 100g (1/2 cup) oil (Em uses rice bran oil or vegetable oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 20g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 110g (2/3 cup) rapadura
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g chocolate, divided in two
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g (1/3 cup) cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt

*How to cook black beans

  • Firstly soak your beans overnight (or for 8 hours) in a large bowl with plenty of clean water, then drain the beans (discarding the water) and rinse well
  • Cook black beans on the stovetop using My New Roots method by placing 1 cup of beans and 3 cups water in a large pot, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking beans until tender (approx 45-60min).
  • Cook black beans in the TMX using Tenina’s method by placing them in the simmering basket in the TMX, then filling the bowl with enough water to just cover the beans. Cook 30 min, 100C, Sp 3.
  • Cook black beans in the pressure cooker using Em’s method by placing 1 cup of beans and 3 cups of water in the pressure cooker and cooking for 20 minutes.
To make the brownies: 
TMX Method
  1. Pre Heat oven to 180C
  2. Melt half of the chocolate (50g) and set aside
  3. Put the other half (50g) into TMX bowl and chop 3-5 sec, Sp 5 and set aside
  4. Place black beans and oil in TMX and blend to a paste 2 min, Sp 7
  5. Add eggs, cocoa powder, rapadura, vanilla extract and melted chocolate, mix 20 sec, Sp 4
  6. Add baking powder, flour and salt, mix 20 sec, Sp 4
  7. Add the chopped chocolate and mix 10 sec, Rev Sp 3
  8. Pour into a well greased and/or lined brownie tin (approx 20cmx20cm)
  9. Bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes – Em says “My oven is a big old gas oven without a fan and therefore everything takes a while. The brownie should be matte at the sides and shiny in the centre, it should still be slightly soft in the centre”.
  10. Allow to rest and then cut into cubes
  11. Enjoy!
Non-TMX Method
  1. Pre Heat oven to 180C
  2. Melt half of the chocolate (50g) and set aside
  3. Break or chop the other half (50g) into small pieces (Em says “I usually do this in the food processor before beginning the remainder of the recipe”)
  4. Using a  food processor or blender,  blend the black beans and oil to a paste
  5. Add eggs, cocoa powder, rapadura, vanilla extract and melted chocolate, and mix until well combined in a food processor or by hand
  6. Add baking powder, flour and salt, and mix until well combined in a food processor or by hand
  7. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until just combined in a food processor or by hand
  8. Pour into a well greased and/or lined brownie tin (approx 20cmx20cm)
  9. Bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes – Em says “My oven is a big old gas oven without a fan and therefore everything takes a while. The brownie should be matte at the sides and shiny in the centre, it should still be slightly soft in the centre”.
  10. Allow to rest and then cut into cubes
  11. Enjoy!

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Sultana & Cornflake Cookies

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Another gem of a recipe I copied from the Full Little Tummies Blog, before it was deleted, were these Sultana & Cornflake Cookies. They are a favourite in my house. Just a delicious, wholesome biscuit with that lovely sweetness burst you get from sultanas.

I buy organic sultanas ($8.99/kg), rapadura ($5.95/kg) and spelt flour ($3.50/kg) from 2Brothers Foods Online, along with a lot of other pantry staples. They’re great for nuts, seeds, flours, spices, dried fruits and more. Based in WA and with very reasonable shipping rates and delivery times. Here in Perth it is only $3.50 for up to 10kg of goods delivered in 1-2 working days. Well worth a look.

Sultana & Cornflake Cookies

Ingredients (makes approx 40 cookies)

TMX Method

  1. Preheat oven 180C
  2. Place butter, rapadura and vanilla in TMX bowl and cream for 40 sec, Sp 4
  3. Add flour and baking powder
  4. Mix 10 sec, Sp 3
  5. Add milk and mix for a further 6 sec, Sp 3
  6. Add sultanas and mix Rev, 5 sec, Sp 3 
  7. Add cornflakes and mix Rev, 10 sec, Sp 2 (or you can stir them in with the spatula if you want them completely intact)
  8. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Flatten slightly.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.

Non-TMX Method

  1. Preheat oven 180C
  2. Place butter, rapadura and vanilla in a bowl, and cream well by hand or with electric mixer
  3. Add flour and baking powder, and mix by hand or with electric mixer until just combined (be careful not to over-mix)
  4. Add milk and mix by hand or with electric mixer until just combined
  5. Add sultanas and cornflakes, and mix through by hand until spread relatively evenly throughout the dough
  6. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Flatten slightly.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Vegetable, Cheese & Pasta Slice

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Inspired by a recipe in the latest Donna Hay I made this slice for my kid’s dinner a few weeks ago and again the other night. It was very well received (and eaten quickly!). I sliced the rest into portions and froze it for lunch boxes next term.

Vegetable, Cheese & Pasta Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups (135g) dried pasta (small shape like shells or spirals)
  • 1 medium carrot finely grated (100-120g)
  • 1/2 zucchini finely grated (180-1200g)
  • 200g feta
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
  • pink salt & cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente
  3. Drain and set aside
  4. I usually complete the rest of this recipe while the pasta cooks so that i’m ready to mix it in as soon as it’s drained
  5. Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk
  6. Add grated vegetables, crumbled feta, cheddar, flour, butter and season with salt & pepper
  7. Mix well
  8. Add cooked pasta and mix through
  9. Pour into greased and lined 20cm x 30cm tin or pyrex dish
  10. Bake 35-40 minutes

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Fruity Puff Bars

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One of my favourite blogs, Full Little Tummies (written by a Thermomix loving Mum in Tassie) has gone! Checking the blog today I saw that all posts have been deleted! Not sure what’s happened – she hasn’t blogged in a long time but I regularly went to her site for recipes. In a Thermomix Recipe Swap I’m part of on Facebook there has been a few upset cooks who can’t access their favourite recipes. I was ridiculously happy to find that I was so excited when I first discovered Full Little Tummies that I copied and pasted recipes into a Word Doc. Thank goodness! I’ll blog my favourites here – I’d always intended to share them but just hadn’t gotten around to it.

First up are these Fruity Puff Bars which are an absolute winner in my house. They are delicious, freeze well, add a bit of zing to any lunch box and are way better for you and the kids than any shop bought bar packed with additives, preservatives and who knows what ingredients. Thank you to Chelsea of Full Little Tummies wherever you are for this recipe.

Fruity Puff Bars

Ingredients:

  • 110g butter
  • 90g rapadura
  • 70g honey
  • 1 tsp homemade vanilla essence
  • 90g puffed brown rice
  • 40g organic shredded coconut
  • 70g dried sultanas, cranberries or chopped dried apricots

Method:

  1. Place butter, rapadura, honey and vanilla essence into TMX bowl
  2. Heat at 100C, 6 min, Sp 3
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix 20 sec, Rev Sp 3
  4. Scrape mixture into a baking tin lined with baking paper (mine is 30cm x 25cm x 5cm) – if you leave the baking paper a bit longer than the tin you can use it to lift out the slice
  5. Spread out mixture and press down very firmly with your hands or the back of a spoon
  6. Refrigerate (at least 2 hrs) and slice into bars when firm
  7. To freeze simply slice then pop in a resealable bag or container in the freezer. They don’t stick together or, if they do, easily come apart.

These bars do go soft in hot weather. My kids don’t mind and just eat them out of a bowl or from their lunch box with their fingers. I’ve read that people have replaced some of the sweetners with melted marshmallow to hold them together but I haven’t tried this. In summer my kids are even happy to crunch on these straight from the freezer!

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Wholemeal Parmesan Cracker Biscuits

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In my never ending search for yummy, homemade cracker type foods for my kids I have created these which are a bit of a cross between a cracker and a savoury biscuit. They are very tasty and a healthy option for after school, lunch boxes or with pre-dinner nibblies. They’re good with dip too – I often whip up the herb & garlic dip from the EDC to go on these. 

The dough comes together very quickly and is easy to work with. There’s no need to flour the bench either, it’s not a sticky dough. Try not to over-handle the dough, just push the left-overs together roughly after cutting each lot of cracker biscuits, and roll out again for the next lot. 

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Ingredients – Makes approx 36 cracker biscuits

  • 120g cubed parmesan cheese
  • 20g butter
  • 120g plain flour or white spelt flour
  • 120g wholemeal flour or wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 110g hot (not boiling) water

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180C
  2. Place parmesan cheese in TMX and blitz 10 sec, Sp 9 & set aside in a separate bowl
  3. Place butter in TMX and melt 50C, 30 sec, Sp 1
  4. Add all other ingredients including parmesan cheese
  5. Mix 5 sec, Sp 7
  6. Knead 2 min
  7. Mixture should look like big breadcrumbs with all flour mixed in, if not scrape down the bowl and knead for a further 30 sec
  8. Tip mixture onto clean bench and push together to form a ball
  9. Roll out to approx 4mm thickness
  10. Cut into shapes as desired – I just use the MC as a round cookie cutter
  11. Place on lined tray
  12. Bake 12-15min until golden
  13. Cool then store in an air tight container

Cracker Biscuit MixtureCracker Biscuit DoughIMG_0698 

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Raspberry & Apple Cupcakes

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I baked these gorgeous little cupcakes for afternoon tea today and my friend G is dying to get her hands on the recipe, so here it is! Originally from a Woman’s Weekly Cookbook, these little cakes are really moist and tasty. They freeze well for lunch boxes and make a great after school treat.

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Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 100g (1/2 cup) milk
  • 150g fresh or frozen raspberries (I’ve only ever used frozen)
  • 200g apple (approx 2-3 apples) – peel and quarter apples for TMX, peel and dice apples for non-TMX

Thermomix Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced
  2. Place 165g raw sugar in TMX and blitz 3 sec, Sp 9 to form caster sugar
  3. Add butter and vanilla essence and cream with sugar 20 sec, Sp 4
  4. Add eggs and beat 20 sec, Sp 4
  5. Mix in flour and milk in two batches – 125g flour, 10 sec, Sp 3; 50g milk, 10 sec, Sp 3; 100g flour, 10 sec, Sp 3; 50g milk, 10 sec, Sp3
  6. Scrape down bowl and mix for a further 6 sec, Sp 4
  7. Use a spatula to help pour the mixture into a separate bowl – don’t scrape too diligently as the apple will help clean the TMX bowl
  8. Place peeled and quartered apple in TMX and chop 3-5 sec, Sp 4
  9. Use a spatula to scoop apple into the bowl with the cupcake mixture and stir through well by hand
  10. Add raspberries last and gently stir through until just mixed (don’t mix too much or the raspberries will bleed throughout the mixture)
  11. Spoon into cupcake size (2tbs/40ml) patty pans (makes 24)
  12. Bake 25-30 min
  13. Allow to cool in cupcake pan for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool

Non-Thermomix Method

  1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence by hand or with electric mixer until pale and creamy
  2. Beat eggs in one at a time
  3. Stir in sifted flour and milk in two batches – 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk
  4. Stir in peeled and diced apple
  5. Add raspberries last and gently stir through until just mixed (don’t mix too much or the raspberries will bleed throughout the mixture)
  6. Spoon into cupcake size (2tbs/40ml) patty pans (makes 24)
  7. Bake 25-30 min
  8. Allow to cool in cupcake pan for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #5

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Lunchbox Sneak Peek #5

 

This was yesterdays lunch and it was extremely well received. Clean lunch boxes all round.

  • Leftover pasta with my veggie packed Winning Pasta Sauce and some grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 mini chocolate magic bean cake
  • Corn cake
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit salad of apple, rockmelon and grapes
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #4

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Lunch Box Sneak Peek #4

Left overs from last nights dinner and a chocolate treat from a dinner party on the weekend make for a delicious lunch today.

  • Left over home made fish & chips with a little pot of tomato sauce
  • Fruit salad of apple, grapes and rockmelon
  • Chocolate Brownie (totally decadent Maggie Beer recipe)
  • Boiled egg – I peel all the shell off except for the little face so it doesn’t take the kids too long at school
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Read Sneak Peek #5

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Tiny Teddies & Co

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Arnotts Tiny Teddies appear to have universal appeal to children of all ages. I prefer not to buy commercial biscuits so except for the odd packet of Tiny Teddies from a party bag or as a treat on holidays they generally don’t make an appearance in my cupboard. However, with a few cute cookie cutters and a very simple recipe you can easily whip up a batch of your own little biscuits at home. I’ve found that these keep well in an air-tight container for up to a week and they’re a big hit with the kids.

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The basic recipe is the Foundation Biscuit Mixture from the Nursing Mothers Association Cookbook (a must have in any kitchen!) and I’ve added a TMX version below.

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 125g castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • For chocolate biscuits omit 1 tbs of plain flour and replace with 1 tbs cocoa powder

TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Place raw sugar in TMX and blitz 3 sec, Sp 9 to make castor sugar
  3. Place castor sugar and butter in TMX and cream 20 sec, Sp 4
  4. Add egg and mix 10 sec, Sp 4
  5. Add flours and knead, closed lid position, 2 min
  6. Roll dough on a floured surface to approx 3mm and cut out shapes
  7. Place on lined baking tray and bake 12-15 min

Non-TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Place castor sugar and butter in mixer and cream together
  3. Add egg and mix thoroughly
  4. Add flours and mix to a smooth dough
  5. Roll dough on a floured surface to approx 3mm and cut out shapes
  6. Place on lined baking tray and bake 12-15 min

I have this great set of cookie cutters – the small cutters slot inside the round cutter and are interchangeable, or can be used on their own. It is ‘Baker’s Secret’ Brand which I purchased at Myer a few years ago. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find them online but i’m sure there are similar products at good homewares stores.

IMG_3651 Tiny Teddies & Co Raw DoughIMG_3591