22 December 2014

Honey Joys

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Last week, Miss C had her “school” Christmas Party. And, as is often the case with functions such as these, we were asked to “bring a plate”. Now, normally I would jump at the chance to get creative in the kitchen. However a busy work schedule + baking a baby has taken its toll on me lately – with the kitchen coming in second to time on the couch.

So I had intended to just pick up something from the shops on our way to the party. Then I found a big box of unopened cornflakes in the cupboard, and suddenly a little homemade treat didn’t seem so onerous after all.

Enter….Honey Joys!  And a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Butter, sugar and honey – warmed until starting to bubble.

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Poured over 4 cups of cornflakes, and mixed until well combined.

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Into some muffin cases, and baked for 10 minutes.

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Yep. That was it.

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A (not so healthy) plate to share – done in less than 15 minutes.

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After the party, there was not one single honey joy left – so I am calling it a win!

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You can find the recipe here.

What about you? Ever made honey joys?

19 December 2014

Homemade jam doughnuts

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There are some homemade dishes that you are very proud of. Perhaps not because they turned out perfectly, but because you conquered something new, and the end result was edible. Delicious edible.

Rustic , yes.

Delicious rustic.

These homemade jam doughnuts were just that. Inspired by some gorgeous jam gifted from Hanks Jam – and a craving for sugary warm doughnuts. The only problem being that I have never made jam doughnuts from scratch before.

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So  what’s the deal with Hank’s Jam anyway? I had seen some at my local IGA – but was intrigued to find out…

“Hank’s, Sydney's favourite gourmet jam, celebrates 21 years of business this year, after starting in a small kitchen near Bronte. Hank, a young chef, started making jams part time to earn some extra cash to support his love of surfing. Soon the demand and reputation of these beautifully crafted jams spread and cafes all over Sydney were demanding Hank’s Jam. After making its mark on Sydney, Hank’s continues to grow and will now be available in IGAs nationwide for all of Australia to enjoy.”

Not to mention – they tasty pretty damn good!

One fine weekend afternoon, not all that long ago, I got to work. Dough was made, proved, then rolled and shaped.

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And with no circle cutter in sight, it was only appropriate that I used the top of my own jam jar instead!

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Left to rise…

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Then into my trusty – albeit wonky - deep fryer….

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And somehow doughnuts sprung to life!

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Time for the fun part!

I rolled the doughnuts in a mixture of caster sugar and cinnamon while they were still warm – and piped a generous amount of the mixed berry jam inside.

And, my friends, I could not have been happier with the result!

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Sure, they were a little rustic, but the dough was light and fluffy – with just the right amount of sugary sweetness. Instantly I was reminded of the big bag of warm jam doughnuts we used to pick up from a roadside vendor when travelling to the beach for our family holiday as a child….

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They were most delicious when eaten while warm – and we wasted no time in indulging.  Next time I’d probably pipe even more jam into the middle – for the mixed berry filling was rather scrumptious.

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So – while it was not the simplest of recipes, and most certainly not the quickest, it was a fun foray into the world of doughnut-making nonetheless!

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Homemade Jam  Donuts – makes 20

  • 490g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar (+ 1 cup extra)
  • 15g dried yeast
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 100g melted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup jam
  1. Combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the milk, butter and egg yolks, then pour into the well.
  3. Stir until the mixture forms a dough, then knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place in a clean bowl (lightly sprayed with oil), cover and allow to prove for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
  4. Punch down, and knead for another few minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured bench until 1cm thick.
  5. Using a 7cm round cutter, cut into circles and place on a lined baking tray. Set aside to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, combine caster sugar and cinnamon on a plate. Fill piping bag with jam.
  7. Heat canola oil in a deep fryer until 160-170C. Cook donuts 1 to 2 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain – then roll in sugar mixture to coat.
  8. Finish by piping jam into the side of each doughnut – and ENJOY!

What about you? Have you ever made your own jam doughnuts?

Thanks again to Hanks Jam for the generous gift that inspired these treats! Check out their website for other ‘jammy’ recipes….

17 December 2014

Rocky Road Christmas Bags

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I’m a little late to the “Christmas Cheer” this year. It’s not that I don’t want to get into the spirit – its just that the festive season kind of snuck up on me.  Our work schedules have been hectic over the past few months, and then there is the whole 30+ weeks pregnant thing….

But no festive season can slip by without multiple batches of my favourite rocky road being made. Simple to put together, perfect for edible gifts and more often than not – well received. I’ve posted about it before,  I have no doubt, but let’s re-visit the sweet sugary goodness, shall we?

This last weekend, I stepped away from the computer and other life ‘obligations’ and spent a little time in the kitchen. I had my trusty “helper” by my side who, true to form, very effectively taste-tested the marshmallows and other ingredients along the way.

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The ‘base’ for the rocky road is milk and white chocolate. Not the fancy stuff, or baking chocolate, but good ol’ Cadbury dairy milk.

As for the fillings – well this is where you can change things up according to your preference. This time I used white and pink marshmallows, raspberry lollies and chopped Turkish Delight bars. I love adding nuts too – but kept it allergy friendly on this occasion.

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The milk chocolate is melted, then mixed with the fillings, and pressed into a lined dish. Finished with a generous drizzle of melted white chocolate, and swirled for effect. 

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Covered, and placed in the fridge overnight to set. Then it’s ready to slice!

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We filled these cute little bags with pieces of the rocky road (in baking paper) – and gifts for my work team were done!

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And, perhaps in more exciting news, I am now officially on Christmas leave (well from my main job at least)!

Time to start thinking about our Christmas lunch menu…

Rocky Road

The following quantities are a guide only. You really can use as little or as many ingredients as you would like – depending on the taste / texture that you are after.

  • 400g milk chocolate (I use Cadbury)
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 200g marshmallows, chopped in half or leave them whole
  • 180g raspberry lollies
  • 4 x Turkish delight bars, chopped
  • Handful of chopped nuts (peanuts, macadamias etc) (or leave these out if you are looking for a nut-free version)
  1. Line a slice tray with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.
  2. Place the chopped marshmallows, raspberry lollies, Turkish delight and nuts into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the milk chocolate, then pour over the chopped ingredients. Stir to coat well, and press into the lined tray.
  4. Melt the white chocolate, and drizzle it over the top. Use a spoon to swirl it into the milk chocolate.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until set, then slice and serve.

What about you? Are you making any edible gifts this year?

13 December 2014

Sky Zone Belconnen

If there is one thing I know for certain about my daughter, it is that she loves to bounce.

Yes the trampoline she got for Christmas last year continues to have  daily workout. As does the couch. And the bed.

So when Sky Zone invited us to a little sneak peek of its new Trampoline Park at Westfield Belconnen, we jumped at the chance.

Excuse the pun.

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I can’t say I’ve ever been to trampoline park before, but boy this place was impressive. A big colourful warehouse, filled with trampolines of all shapes and sizes – including a “slam dunk” area, foam pit and even a dodge ball arena (?!).

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The big kid in me wanted to have a bounce(but sadly being in the third trimester means I am better suited to solid ground). Charlotte, however, barely hesitated when given the opportunity to test out the trampolines!

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And bounce she did!

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I was a little concerned how the venue would manage crowd numbers – but they tell me that the appropriately named “Sky Guards” will keep things in order. The sessions (which are an hour long) will have capped numbers, meaning that everyone ought to get a decent turn. They can also section off different areas, to safely cater for younger participants.

On that note - I was interested to learn that Sky Zone hosts kids parties! They have 3 designated party rooms  - with party packages including jump time, food (party or ‘healthy’), drinks and other goodies (think t-shirts, return tickets etc).  Definitely something for me to keep in mind for the next few years!

So, local Canberrans with kids (or the big kids at heart…) I recommend you check this place out. It looks like a lot of bouncy happy healthy fun!

(ps. rumour has it that they are holding ‘bouncefit classes’ in the new year too….)

The Details…Sky Zone Belconnen

Where:

Westfield Belconnen (entrance just off the new bus interchange)

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday 10am–10pm
Friday 10am–Midnight
Saturday 9am–Midnight
Sunday 9am–9pm

Pricing:

$18 for a one hour session (or $16 if you bring your own jump socks)

Website:

http://skyzone.com.au/location/belconnen (for all the other details!)

 

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A big thankyou to David at Sky Zone for showing us around before the official opening. We will be back for sure!

What about you? Ever been to a trampoline park?

10 December 2014

Canberra Dining with Kids – The Museum Cafe

Our next foray into the world of brunching with a toddler, saw us visit an iconic Canberra institution… – the National Museum. I’ve been here for a few work functions over the years, but never for breakfast, and heard that new caterers (Broadbean Catering) were on board.

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We didn’t make a booking in advance, but secured a table inside pretty easily with views of the lake. The venue also had some outdoor seating that looked like a great option for the warmer months.

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The Service

It was a little confusing when we arrived, with no menus on the table or direction as to whether table service was offered. We found a menu on the blackboard (and later some printed menus at the counter) and soon realised that we had to order at the counter. Truthfully, we find this to be a good option for us (and our impatient toddler!) as we can set the pace of the service and our dining experience generally.

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On this particular day, we arrived at the same time as a large group, so the ordering process was a little slow. The server also seemed a little confused when we were placing our order (which didn’t inspire a lot of confidence), however our coffee and meals come out pretty quickly in the end, and were correct, so I really can’t complain.

The Food

Given the start of our experience was a little chaotic, I was a tad sceptical as to the quality of the meals that would arrive (the venue seeming more kiosk than cafe at this stage….)

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However, I was pleasantly surprised when my meal was placed in front of me. I went for the scrambled eggs  with grilled asparagus, parmesan and sourdough – and I couldn’t fault it at all.  The eggs were cooked perfectly, and the flavours were spot on.

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Mr BBB opted for the poached eggs with avocado salsa with serrano ham, and was also really happy with his meal.

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And, as for the little Miss, her serving of sourdough proved quite the hit as she insisted on buttering every slice herself. And then proceeded to eat most our bacon and gobble up my scrambled eggs!

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For the kids?

The ‘kiosk’ style of this venue actually worked quite well for dining with a toddler, as it wasn’t too quiet or stuffy. We had problems finding a high chair, and then when we did it had odd straps, meaning that it was a little difficult to keep C at the table.

So while not a ‘kids cafe’, as such, we didn’t feel out of place with our toddler in tow.

Overall

Despite a few issues with service (and highchairs!), this proved to be a great brunch option. I loved that we could walk in and get a table without booking, and the meals were served pretty quickly. A nice place to bring the family next time they are in town I think.

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The details

Name: The Museum Cafe (site)

Where: National Museum, Lawson Crescent, Acton

Phone: 02 6208 5000

Open: Every day from 9am to 4.45pm (except Christmas day).

What about you? Are you a fan of ‘ordering at the counter’ or do you prefer table service?

08 December 2014

Easy oven baked chicken and capsicum

Happy Monday lovely people!

Let’s kick off the week with a super easy meal that we threw together in a matter of minutes a few weeks back.

I wasn’t really in a ‘cooking’ mood, as such, but had some chicken that needed to be used. And hence this dish came to be.

Red onion and red capsicum, sliced.

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Layered atop chicken breasts, that I had drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Tuscan seasoning.

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Covered with foil, and baked at 180C for 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through.

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Served with a side salad, and…..

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Dinner was served!

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We actually went out for a short family walk while the chicken was in the oven – returning home to the aromas of a dinner that was ready and beautifully tender chicken.  Definitely a winner in our book!