Monthly Archives: September 2015

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Spice and all things nice!

Watching Abby hand out Christmas biscuits on an old NCIS episode a few nights ago made my mouth water and immediately I craved some Cinnamon Biscuits.  As soon as the kids hopped on the bus the next morning, I gathered up my ingredients and went on a baking spree!  Well, not really a spree but we did get some pretty yummy Scones and amazing Cinnamon Biscuits out of it!

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When you’re baking these delicious biscuits, keep a close eye on them after the 15 minute mark until they bake to your liking.  I baked mine for 20 minutes, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Absolutely delicious no matter how you have them!  These didn’t last long at all . . . in fact, I think I’ll head back into the kitchen and make a double batch!

Spice and all things nice!

Spice and all things nice!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 teaspoons golden syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C (140°C fan forced) and line baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour, bicarb and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture has a fine breadcrumb texture.
  3. Beat the egg and golden syrup together and add to dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then bring it together into a dough by hand.
  4. Roll into balls – I used about a tablespoon because Minion Dad likes big bikkies! – and flatten slightly, leaving about 5 cm between each biscuit. You don’t have to do this, they’ll spread just fine without it and will actually end up a little thicker in the middle.
  5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, slightly longer for a crispier biscuit. Keep a close eye on them after the 15 minute mark until they bake to your liking.
  6. Cool biscuits on tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack, IF they last that long!
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The Perfect Roast

I have decided – after many many years of trying – that the perfect roast will always continue to elude me!  I never seem to get a roast cooked on time (as in, we’re always eating after 8pm!), crackling doesn’t crackle, and meat tends to dry out . . .

I am open to advice, hints, tips, anything really!  I’m not ready to give up yet!  Our family of Minions love a roast!

Please help!

Our first week using a Monthly Menu Plan

In my last post, I mentioned that we are going to be trying out monthly shops every second month.  Well, in order to do this, Minion Dad and I sat down and worked out our menu plan for the month, including a baking list.

Our menu for last week was:

Monday:  Banana, Blueberry & Weetbix Smoothies –  it was my shopping day, and on shopping days there’s no cooking!

Tuesday:  Open Hot Dogs with Tomato, Onion, Bacon and Mushroom – these were supposed to be just ‘normal’ hot dogs, but the buns split when we toasted them, so they became ‘Open Hot Dogs’ instead!

Wednesday: Chicken Cacciatore – from scratch, but the recipe I found needs tweaking a bit, so if anyone is willing to share an easy and delicious recipe, I’m open to ideas!

Thursday: Gourmet Tomato Soup – I spent this day at the Mater Children’s Cardiology Unit at the Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic for our oldest Minion (he has a rare heart/lung condition and if you would like to know more, here’s my blog about our families journey called ‘Saving Jules’), so Minion Dad made up his delicious Gourmet Tomato Soup for dinner; my folks picked us up from the hospital (after a very long day) and drove us home and of course we invited them to stay.  This fed 4 Minion Adults and 4 Minion Kids, with enough left over for my folks to take home for their lunch the next day!

Friday:  Homemade Hamburgers – Friday night is movie night, so Minion Dad and I decided that Friday dinners would be ‘take-away style’ meals.  Very easy to make yourself and much cheaper than buying them!

Saturday:  Roast Pork and veges – I bought a 2.4kg Rolled Pork Roast (sadly, crackling is nigh on impossible with a Rolled Pork Roast, so despite being absolutely delicious, we did feel that something special was missing that night!) on special for $18.79, so not only was this for dinner it was also made into Toasted Pork, Gravy and Cheese sandwiches for lunch on Sunday, and then for the kids lunches today.  There’s still about 1/3 left, so that will be frozen for pasta later in the month.

Sunday:  Tuna, Rice & Veges – so easy, especially if you have a rice cooker.  We cook up enough rice for all of us, steam some frozen beans, peas and corn and mix it all up with a tin of flavoured tuna!  It’s delicious and the Minion Kids love choosing their own flavoured tuna, which is a huge bonus because we never hear  “But I don’t like that”!

For snacks for all of us, I baked 5 Cup Slice, Banana Bread, Muesli Bars and Rice Bubble Squares.

I think we did well for our first week . . . now I have to go, ‘cause Minion Dad is trying to steal my avo on toast!

Full boot!

Monthly versus Fortnightly Shopping

Aldi shop
Aldi shop

There seems to be more food waste in this house than us adult Minions are willing to put up with any more.  Last week, I saw somewhere that a lady manages to shop once a month for only $300, feeding her family of four pretty darn well for that month.   Needless to say, I can’t do that with our family of six, but I figured that we could come close for $500, which is our normal fortnightly grocery budget.

 

Coles Shop
Coles Shop

In order to do this, Minion Dad and I sat down and worked out a monthly dinner plan so we knew what we absolutely needed for this shop.  We’ve also decided what I would be baking, and what easy snacks we could do up for the little Minions that don’t involve turning on the oven.  We shop at Aldi, Coles and occasionally Super Butcher, and I usually Eftpos each time.  Today, I stopped off at an ATM and withdrew my budgeted amount instead, so there was less chance of temptation or impulse buys.  I’ve put $100 aside for next fortnight, which will cover milk, bread, fruit and vegetables plus a few items I’m sure I’ve forgotten about!

Full boot!
Full boot!

We won’t shop like this every month.  We’ve decided to try it out for alternate months, and in between we’ll make sure we stock up on meat and specials each fortnight so we can stick to our new shopping budget . . . keep your fingers crossed.  I’ll make sure I keep you up to date on how we’re faring.  Any tips and pointers to help us out will be much appreciated!!!

* Originally posted on the 11th November, 2014

* Note:  We didn’t actually keep up with this, life got hectic and it was easier to go back to the same old, same old way of shopping.  Transferring from my old site to my new one has renewed my motivation to start up again though, and I will definitely be getting back into this once I have family life organised once more!

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Back to School!

These past few weeks have been more than a little bit frantic with the kids going back to school after holidays and hubby going to stay with my folks for a few weeks to work on a commissioned art piece.

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I know that I can get a little lazy when it comes to school snacks when it comes to hectic times, so this time around I pushed myself to get some baking done instead of cheating and buying snacks instead.

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So last week, I made Banana and Oat Muffins, Rolled Oat Slice and Banana Bread (recipe courtesy of Mrs K., a long standing loyal client turned friend!).  This particular Banana Bread recipe never lasts long in our house, although I did manage to save about ¼ of it to send with hubby, along with ½ a dozen muffins.

I’m sure I’ll find myself back in the kitchen at some time this week . . . in between washing, mowing and taking the Minions to visit their Daddy!

* Originally posted on the 16th October 2013

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Banana and Oat Muffins

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Banana and Oat Muffins

Ingredients

  • 4 small ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ cups wholemeal Self-raising Flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup rolled oats (not quick oats)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (170°C fan forced) and place muffin papers into a 12-cup muffin tray. This makes between 12 and 18, depending on how you fill your muffin papers.
  2. Place mashed bananas, egg, milk, butter and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer.
  3. Add flour, cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
  4. Spoon mixture into the muffin papers. I make sure they’re about ¾ full. They’re not too big for my Minions this way.
  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until cooked through (use a metal skewer to check). Do not overcook.
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* Originally posted on 16th October 2013

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Rolled Oat Slice

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Rolled Oat Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Wholemeal Self-Raising flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 150g butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (170°C fan forced).
  2. Combine flour, oats and sugar in a large bowl. Melt butter and golden syrup, then mix into dry ingredients.
  3. Press into slice tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Cut into bars while still hot (if you try and cut after it has cooled down, the bars will crumble), and leave to cool before removing from tray.
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* Originally posted on 16th October 2013

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Banana Bread – Quick, Easy and Delicious!

 

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Banana Bread – Quick, Easy and Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 115g softened butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 3 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 ½ cups self-raising flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (170°C), and prepare a loaf tin. You can either line it with baking paper, or prepare with butter and flour.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time (mixing well between each egg).
  3. Add the flour and bananas and mix well until smooth.
  4. Put into the prepared loaf tin, and bake for approximately 40 minutes until golden. Use a skewer to make sure your banana bread is cooked through.
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* Originally posted on 16th October 2013

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Baking Day!

When my brother and I were kids, we used to spend at least one weekend a month, and plenty of holidays with my grandparents.  On Sunday mornings, my Pop would walk up to the local corner store – it was one of those fantastic corner stores selling everything from fresh bread to bait! – to get a couple of loaves of freshly baked bread.  My brother and I would wake up to the morning sounds of my parents and my grandparents making coffee and toast.  There was nothing I loved more than walking down to find Nanna and Pop sprinkling cinnamon sugar on toast for us kids (we were only allowed this particular treat at my grandparents’ house).  It’s one of my best memories of them.

Now, as an adult with my own family, hubby and I have instilled our love chowing down on fresh baked bread in our little Minions, and trust me this can get expensive!  Especially when this Minion loves getting the uncut loaves so I can slice my own lovely thick slices, and then smother them with butter and vegemite . . . yum!

Today, there is an extra Minion in our house, so I’ve decided to escape the high-pitched girlish giggles and spend the day making my arms ache . . .

Fresh baked bread

Ingredients:

7g dried yeast

275ml warm water

500g good quality plain flour (I like to use bread flour)

5g bread improver

1tsp salt

2tbsp powdered milk (this is optional, however my family can really taste the difference if I don’t use it!)

Method:

Preheat your oven slightly – just to warm it up a bit.

Add dried yeast to warm water in a small jug.  Mix it with a fork, just enough to wet all the yeast.  Leave it to sit while you prepare the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, place plain flour bread improver, salt and powdered milk.  Make a well in the centre, and add the yeast and water mix (by this time, it should have started to foam a bit).  Mix until well combined.

Take your dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft and stretchy.  As I mentioned in ‘Stupid cars and yummy pies’, I’m lazy in the kitchen so I do this part in my mixer using the dough hook.  I’ve found that I only need to ‘knead’ the dough for about 8 minutes in the mixer instead of hand kneading for 10-15 minutes – and my upper arms thank me for it!

Put in a greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until double in size

 

Place the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover with a clean tea towel, and leave it to rise in your warmed oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) until doubled in size.  This can take up to 2 hours.

 

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface.  Knock back the dough by lightly kneading it for 2-3 minutes, then shape into whatever shape you would like.  I usually go for just a round or oval shaped loaf, and you can also use a loaf tin if you have one.

DSCF5535Place the shaped loaf on a baking tray which has been oiled, or lined with baking paper and dusted with flour.  Make 3 or 4 slashes across the top with a sharp knife, brush the top of the loaf with some salted water, then sprinkle with some more flour.  You could use sesame seeds or poppy seeds or even go without any of it if you prefer!  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size (the extra flour will help make sure the tea towel doesn’t stick to your dough).

Preheat your oven to 240°C (230°C fan forced).

Place your shaped loaf in the centre of the oven and bake for 8 minutes.  Open the oven door slightly, and bake for a further 2 minutes with the door open.

Reduce the heat to 190°C (180°C), close the door and bake for a further 25 – 30 minutes (if you want a darker crust, just keep a close eye on your bread from this stage until the crust is to your personal liking).  You’ll know when your bread is cooked when it makes a hollow sound when you rap your knuckles on the crust.

Slice – thickly if you’re one of our Minions! – butter and enjoy!

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Baking Day!

Ingredients

  • 7g dried yeast
  • 275ml warm water
  • 500g good quality plain flour (I like to use bread flour)
  • 5g bread improver
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tbsp powdered milk (this is optional, however my family can really taste the difference if I don’t use it!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven slightly – just to warm it up a bit.
  2. Add dried yeast to warm water in a small jug. Mix it with a fork, just enough to wet all the yeast. Leave it to sit while you prepare the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, place plain flour bread improver, salt and powdered milk. Make a well in the centre, and add the yeast and water mix (by this time, it should have started to foam a bit). Mix until well combined.
  4. Take your dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft and stretchy. As I mentioned in ‘Stupid cars and yummy pies’, I’m lazy in the kitchen so I do this part in my mixer using the dough hook. I’ve found that I only need to ‘knead’ the dough for about 8 minutes in the mixer instead of hand kneading for 10-15 minutes – and my upper arms thank me for it!
  5. Place the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with cling film and a tea towel, and leave it to rise in your warmed oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) until doubled in size. This can take up to 2 hours.
  6. After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. Knock back the dough by lightly kneading it for 2-3 minutes, then shape into whatever shape you would like. I usually go for just a round or oval shaped loaf, and you can also use a loaf tin if you have one.
  7. Place the shaped loaf on a baking tray which has been oiled, or lined with baking paper and dusted with flour. Make 3 or 4 slashes across the top with a sharp knife, brush the top of the loaf with some salted water, then sprinkle with some more flour. You could use sesame seeds or poppy seeds or even go without any of it if you prefer! Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size (the extra flour will help make sure the tea towel doesn’t stick to your dough).
  8. Preheat your oven to 240°C (230°C fan forced).
  9. Place your shaped loaf in the centre of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Open the oven door slightly, and bake for a further 2 minutes with the door open.
  10. Reduce the heat to 190°C (180°C), close the door and bake for a further 25 – 30 minutes (if you want a darker crust, just keep a close eye on your bread from this stage until the crust is to your personal liking). You’ll know when your bread is cooked when it makes a hollow sound when you rap your knuckles on the crust.

If you use bread flour, you don't need to use the bread improver.

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* Originally posted on 4th October, 2013