Friday, 25 July 2014
Tiny things always seem to be a hit with children. Tiny pet toys, tiny lego pieces, tiny fairies and tiny dolls are popular in our household.
Bee and Bear also love the small packets of even smaller biscuits for a snack.
And while they are cute and convenient, the biscuits do work out to be quite expensive when packaged like this. Besides, with only a few biscuits in each packet they don't last very long.
I knew I needed to find a homemade version that I could package up myself to include in the girls' kindy lunchboxes.
Amanda from One Crafty Mum has this recipe for Homemade Tiny Teddy Biscuits on her blog and that is what we used for our tiny biscuits. We don't have a thermomix which is what Amanda used to make this recipe. She does suggest that the recipe would work with a mixer or a bowl and spoon so we used our stand mixer.
We added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in with the flour to make tiny chocolate biscuits. And because I am impatient I didn't bother putting the dough in the fridge for an hour. The weather was reasonably cool the day we made these and the biscuits turned out fine. But if I was to make them in summer I would definitely rest the dough in the fridge for a while.
To make the dough for the Tiny Biscuits, I creamed the butter and sugar. Then I mixed in the egg, vanilla, flour and baking powder.
Once it was all mixed well, we turned the dough out onto the lightly floured bench, rolled it out and starting cutting out our shapes. We don't have a tiny teddy shaped biscuit cutter so I searched through the girls playdough cutter collection and came up with small bear, small elephant, small duck and small dog shapes. After a good wash in hot, soapy water the cutters were ready to use. If you want to buy a tiny teddy cutter Amanda has links in her post.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
We have made chocolate brownies before but it has been a while since the last batch. Our usual Chocolate Brownies recipe contains apple purée which cuts out the butter and eggs and therefore lowers the fat and kilojoules.
This time we made a gluten free version inspired by this recipe for Gluten-Free Fudgy Pecan Brownies on Martha Stewart and it might have just become our new favourite. I have converted the measurements for the ingredients to the Australian equivalents, lowered the amount of sugar used (next time I will try using just 1/4 cup sugar), used less chocolate overall but went for a dark chocolate for flavour and left out the pecans to make it nut allergy suitable.
To make these Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies here is what to do.
1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
2. Grease and line the baking tin.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornflour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt.
|Bear breaking the chocolate into small pieces.|
|Adding the chocolate to the butter for melting.|
|Melted butter and chocolate mix.|
|Bear is getting better at cracking eggs.|
5. Add the eggs to the butter/chocolate mix, one at a time, and mix it really well.
6. Carefully stir the sugar and vanilla in with the melted chocolate/butter mix. Add the cornflour mixture and stir it until the batter is smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake it for 35 minutes and then let it cool.
8. Cut the brownies into squares.
You can download a printable copy of this recipe from here.
Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from www.marthastewart.com
Makes 16 pieces
84g unsalted butter, chopped plus extra for greasing baking tin
1/3 cup cornflour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
220g dark cooking chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 180° Celsius.
2. Lightly grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with non-stick baking paper. Leave 5cm extra hanging over edges.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the cornflour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt.
4. Break up the chocolate and place it in a large microwave safe bowl with the butter.
5. Microwave the butter and chocolate in short bursts on medium power until melted. It should take about 2 minutes all up.
6. Stir in the sugar and vanilla with the melted butter/chocolate mix.
7. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
8. Add cornflour mixture and stir until mixture is smooth.
9. Pour batter into prepared tin.
10. Bake for 35 minutes or until skewer inserted in middle of brownies comes out clean.
11. Let cool in pan.
12. Remove brownies from pan and cut into squares.
Monday, 21 July 2014
Why plain and simple?
Because sometimes the simplest version is the best. Even at only 4 and 3/4 years of age Bear and Bee know this recipe off by heart.
Sometimes too much effort is required to follow a 'fancy' recipe. Especially first thing in the morning.
And apart from tasting good these pancakes use basic pantry staples. No buttermilk. No having to let the batter stand. And that's important when catering for drop of the hat pancake requests. It's also useful too if you have unexpected guests drop in for afternoon tea.
Remove the pancakes from the pan and keep warm on a plate covered with a clean tea towel.
Repeat with remaining pancake batter.
It's a good idea to double this recipe to make sure you have plenty of pancakes to go round. Download the printable recipe card from here.
And check out this post on Fun Ways to Pack Pancakes for Lunch from Keeley McGuire: Allergy Friendly Fun Lunchboxes for ideas on adding pancakes to your child's lunchbox to use up any leftovers.
And there you have it. Plain and simple pancakes that should be anything but plain to eat.
Friday, 18 July 2014
Now that Bear and Bee attend kindy I have decided to dedicate every Friday on our blog to Loving Your Lunchbox. Lunchboxes and their contents can be the cause of much frustration in many households.
What goes in the lunchbox, what's not allowed in and what comes home uneaten can all be problematic and as Kylie from Octavia and Vicky said in her post on School Lunchbox Ideas
"Then just when you think you’re on to a winner, your lovely child decides that they now hate their favourite lunch box choices."
There is a lot of information about lunchboxes and what to put into them available on the internet, so I will be endeavouring to bring you the best of these each Friday. We will also be trying out some new recipes and some old favourites too of lunchbox foods that kids can help make. And by bringing these ideas to you on a Friday hopefully you will have a chance to add some things to your shopping list, try out some new ideas on your kids over the weekend and get those lunchboxes organised for the next week.
To start this new weekly series off, here's a few of the recipes on our blog that would be great for lunchbox fillers.
Plus, here is two more good ideas for lunchboxes.
I like this printable of 20 Lunch Box Snack Ideas from Christie at Childhood 101. It's a great idea to print the list and hang it inside your pantry door.
If you want a lunchbox menu plan for the week go and have a look at Momables. MOMables is a kid friendly family meal plan that tackles school lunch and family dinner. It helps parents feed their kids a variety of meals they will love. Members receive 2 family sized meals (perfect for dinner) and 3 single lunch ideas.
Click on the link above or the Momables image in our sidebar to check out the website.
What does your child like in their lunchboxes?
Thursday, 17 July 2014
We are having lots of fun here exploring fairy tales and coming up with foods that we can make to suit each one. After two girl focused fairy tales, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, I decided we should go with one a little more unisex and we chose Peter Pan.
Bear and Bee have watched Disney's Peter Pan many times and know this version of the story well so I found an animated Peter Pan story online that was slightly different. They both had lots of fun exploring this one on the iPad while I got organised to make some Pretzel Swords.
Swords and Pirates go hand in hand and both Bear and Bee love creating with dough in the kitchen so it seemed like a great fit.
We have made pretzels before and they turned out really well but I wanted a recipe that was faster to put together and bake. This one for Homemade Soft Pretzels from Sally's Baking Addiction seemed to fit with what I needed. As Sally's list of ingredients in the recipe is in US measurements I have rewritten it below in Australian metric measurements. I encourage you to go and have a look at her original recipe as it has more detailed steps, extra tips and some interesting variations.
And I have to say these Pretzels turned out even better than I hoped. They were light on the inside, chewy on the outside and perfect with no toppings, salt or even cinnamon sugar.
This would be a great activity for a Peter Pan or Pirate themed birthday party. The whole thing takes less than 30 minutes but you could have the dough ready to go and the children could shape and paint it before baking. Then you would have some super easy and extra tasty party food ready to go.
Peter Pan Pretzel Swords
Adapted slightly from Homemade Soft Pretzels by Sally's Baking Addiction
Makes 8 to 10 or more depending on size
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (I used dried yeast and it worked fine)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
4 cups plain flour (you may need a little more for dusting the surface to knead the dough)
1 large egg, beaten
food colouring in desired colours to decorate
extra salt, melted butter, cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 210° Celsius fan forced. Line 2 baking trays with non stick baking paper.
2. Add the yeast to the warm water and stir for one minute until mostly mixed in.
3. Mix in salt and sugar.
4. Slowly add 3 cups of the flour. Do it 1 cup at a time so it mixes in well.
5. Mix in another 3/4 cup of flour or a little more until the dough is no longer sticky.
6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3 minutes and shape into a ball (or however long you kids are happy to play with it!)
7. Divide the dough into small balls.
8. Roll each ball into a sausage shape about 20 cm long. Make sure one end is thicker than the other.
9. Flatten the thicker end of the sausage shape and bend it up to make the blade of the sword.
10. Bend the thinner end around to make the handle end of the sword (stick the dough end on with a little water).
11. Use clean paintbrushes and food colouring to decorate the sword dough shapes.
12. Place the sword shapes onto the lined trays and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
13. Brush the partially baked sword shapes with the beaten egg (optional: sprinkle with a little salt after brushing on the egg) and bake for another 5 minutes. You can skip brushing the dough shapes with the egg and just bake for 15 minutes however the egg wash does give it a nice shiny finish.
14. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Enjoy while they are still slightly warm.
We also baked some non painted sword shapes. To do these we brushed them with the beaten egg before placing them in the oven for 10 minutes. The shapes were then placed under a hot grill for 5 minutes to get them extra golden brown.
And it wouldn't be Bee and Bear cooking if they didn't have to add some more girly shapes too. We decided to use gingerbread people cutters and make Wendy, Michael and John. We don't have a fairy cutter though, so the girls opted for butterflies to represent Tinkerbell.
If you would like to own a copy of Peter Pan either in book form or on DVD you can click on the links below to go to my Fishpond Affiliate store.