29 July 2015

Slow Cooker Bolognaise sauce

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I warned you.

I am 100% addicted to my new slow cooker. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. At least not until Spring arrives.

The latest creation was a family favourite. Bolognaise. Literally a bundle of ingredients thrown in, lid on, and left to simmer throughout the afternoon.

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No browning, no pre-cooking. Just time.

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We enjoyed the sauce over a pile of spaghetti, on a particularly chilly Canberra evening. Comfort food in a bowl!

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The sauce was rich and had lots of hidden veggies, that Miss C was oblivious to.

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Next time I would probably add a little tomato paste, but the overall flavours were still pretty good. With the added bonus that we had load leftover for the following evening(s).

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Slow Cooker Bolognaise Sauce

  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 800g tinned tomatoes – oregano and basil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tbs garlic paste
  • 6 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, oregano and parsley
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbs BBQ sauce
  • 1ts beef stock powder
  1. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker, and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

27 July 2015

Dreaming of summer with this Mango Cheesecake

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What a wonderful family weekend we’ve just had. My mum was in town, as were some of Mr BBB’s extended family. We had 12 (!) people around for dinner on Saturday night, where I sang the praises of our slow cooker (it was Irish stew on the menu, with olive sourdough and garlic-lemon beans).

And there was cake.  Of course there was cake.

A summery ‘completely out of season’ mango cheesecake, to be precise.

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For, just a moment, we could pretend that it wasn’t freezing outside, and ignore the piles of jackets, scarves and gloves that inevitably clutter the hooks by the front door whenever Winter strikes.

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Nay – we could be taken back to warmer times – when BBQs are favoured over stews, and rekindle memories of being able to dine alfresco .

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For thanks to the abundance of tinned fruit, I was able to create this summery dessert - even though a fresh mango was nowhere to be seen.

You can find the recipe here noting I substituted tinned mango for fresh, and also added a little mango puree to the cheesecake batter itself.

What about you? What is your favourite cheesecake flavour?

22 July 2015

A mini meltdown

I had a mini meltdown the other night. Well Mr BBB would probably say it wasn’t that ‘mini’, but I don’t want to sound overly dramatic either. It’s been a while since I’ve had one. But I knew it was coming. Fatigue is generally the trigger, and after a big weekend, finishing with a sick baby who would just-not-settle, and knowing that I was behind in my work and had my alarm set for 4.30am to get up and try and catch up….

and. and. and….

Yeah a mini meltdown was pretty much inevitable.

An adult tantrum, if you please.

And although I woke up the next day still feeling rather miserable – I consciously took action to turn my mood around (and I’m pretty sure I could hear Mr BBB sighing in relief from the other side of town…) For if I didn’t – I’d make the whole house miserable!

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What is it they say…? Happy wife, happy life Winking smile

FIRST – I made sure that little J and I took a walk after dropping C at daycare. The sun was out – and with a multitude of layers on, you’d never know it was zero degrees outside. Fresh air will always be my number 1 head-clearer.

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SECOND – I tackled the ‘hard basket’. Tempted as I was to put it off for another day, I just dug in and got it done. And, as is usually the case, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. And my mood turned from stressed, to accomplished.

THIRD – I blogged. Yep I took a step away from the official work, and spent some time on my favourite creative outlet.

FOURTH – I sat back and created a ‘to do’ list. Nothing sends me into a spin more than not knowing where things are up to. No – I much prefer to have it all listed out – so that I can come up with some action plan or at least prioritise what needs to be done first. And is there anything more satisfying than being able to tick items off after they are completed?!

FIFTH – *if* the stars had aligned, I would have taken a nap. On this occasion it didn’t happen, but that would definitely have been the final solution.

Despite missing out – I ended the day feeling far lighter and happier than when it started. Much to the relief of the household haha!

What about you? How do you turn your mood around when meltdowns strike?

20 July 2015

Blueberry Chia Muffins

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This weekend just gone, Mr BBB was away for both days. Which meant I had solo parenting duties all weekend - and no Saturday hike or Sunday brunch buddy.

I did, however, spend a crazy amount of time making cardboard-box cars, nursing, painting, grocery shopping, nursing, walking, lego-ing, nursing, dancing, nursing….you get the idea! Oh and there was a trip to the vet with all in tow when the furry member of our family got into a neighbourhood scrap. Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of fun together – but I was well and truly t-i-r-e-d when Sunday night rolled around (hats off to all the super-hero single parents out there!)

I also spent a little time in the kitchen baking with Miss C.  And muffins – being relatively straightforward and kid-friendly – seemed the perfect treat to bake.

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On the menu? Chia blueberry muffins – that turned out to be a little random when Miss C kept adding ingredients while my back was turned haha

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She had a ball stirring all the ingredients together, and sprinkling the top with oats.

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(^^ and sampling the yoghurt, by the looks of things….)

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The end result? Well they were rather delicious.  Not as sweet as your regular muffins – but packed with bursts of blueberries and a little crunch from the chia seeds.

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A tasty afternoon in the kitchen indeed.

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Blueberry Chia Muffins (makes 10)

  • 2 cups self raising flour – sifted
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1ts cinnamon
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oats + extra
  • 1/2 cup blueberries + extra
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a muffin pan with cases.
  2. Combine dry ingredients, and make a well in the centre.
  3. Combine eggs, oil, yoghurt and milk – and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, then fold through the blueberries and oats.
  4. Spoon into the muffin cases, and top with extra oats and blueberries.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes – or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

What about you? What is your favourite thing to cook with kids?

15 July 2015

Almond cake with amaretto syrup

Lately, I have really been enjoying simpler cakes. Less flourish, more flavour. And particularly when infused with citrus.

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Or, as was the case on this occasion, jazzed up with the addition of an amaretto syrup.

IMG_3322 The cake, itself, was a simple almond cake. Made using almond meal and self raising flour, sprinkled with flaked almonds.

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Baked until beautifully golden brown.

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But the syrup. That was the real star.

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Sugar, water, amaretto – and I also added some vanilla bean for good measure.

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Drizzled over the cake – for an extra almond / vanilla sweetness. A delightfully tasty addition to our afternoon indeed.

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You can find the recipe I used here.

What about you? Do you have a favourite cake at the moment?

13 July 2015

Tahini chicken caesar salad

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Yes, friends, my love for tahini is ever strong. Particularly when it comes to adding a little nuttiness to dressings and sauces – you will always find me grabbing for the tahini.

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On one such occasion, quite a while ago now, I had a craving for caesar salad. But not the usually calorific caesar salads you will find in the shops or on the cafe menu. Nay – a lightened up version.

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With tahini and yoghurt as the main dressing ingredients, jazzed up a little more with the addition of garlic, dijon, lemon juice and worcestershire sauce.

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And, as for the rest of the salad, the chicken was given a little citrus kick with another favourite ingredient of mine – lemon pepper!

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Grilled then piled upon a bed of dressed crunchy cos lettuce and cucumber. Finished with a sprinkling of parmesan and a boiled egg on the side.

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I loved the tangy dressing – of which the tahini was key. Coupled with the zingy grilled chicken…delish!

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So easy to put together – and a lovely healthy take on the original.

Tahini Caesar Salad Dressing  (serves 2)

  • 2 tbs natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Add a little water if the dressing is too thick. Season to taste.

What about you? What is your favourite homemade dressing?

09 July 2015

Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker

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Yes.

I did it.

I finally added a Slow Cooker to my (ever-growing) list of kitchen gadgetry. But with temperatures in the minus most mornings this Winter, and days seemingly jam packed with work and kids, the lure of a ‘throw-it-all-in-and-walk-away’ cooker was all too much.

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And, I can categorically state that it has already been given a good workout.

Pulled pork, lamb casserole, beef brisket, corned beef and, most recently, minestrone soup.

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Yes one fine day – around lunchtime, I chopped and diced and placed everything in the bowl of the slowcooker.

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Covered with stock, and left to cook on low for 6 hours. Finished with some macaroni (in this case, probably too much macaroni) and allowed to cook for a further hour or so.

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Then dinner was served. And lunch. And dinner the following day too.

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Served simply with sourdough and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

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So easy. So simple. So convenient!!

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 parsnips – peeled and diced
  • 1 swede – peeled and diced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 stalks rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs basil pesto
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1 can beans (I used cannellini) – rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup macaroni (or less)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Add all ingredients (except for the beans, pasta and peas) to a slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. Add the beans, macaroni and peas, and cook for a further 30-60mins on medium – or until the pasta is cooked. Add more stock if needed. Season to taste.

What about you? What is your favourite slow cooker meal?