Thursday, December 18, 2014

Body Butter



I am super excited to be delving into the world of making my own body products.  I've been fascinated by aromatherapy for quite a while (and at some point I would love to study it) and have accumulated quite a stash of essential oils over the past couple of years.  I love coming up with new ways of incorporating their use into everyday life and with Christmas coming up, what better way than adding them to some homemade body products for Christmas pressies?  This recipe for body butter required a little experimentation.  It doesn't whip into a butter-like consistency but when you let it set for a few hours, it ends up with the most gorgeous, fluffy, butter-like texture then!

Ingredients (makes about 250ml which I used to fill 2 glass jars):
- 180g shea nut butter (I purchased mine in a big tub from the Sydney Essential Oil Company)
- 30g coconut oil
- 30g macadamia oil
- 1tsp vitamin E oil (this acts as an antioxidant)
- 30 drops of pure essential oil - I used 10 drops each of lavender, chamomile and orange

Method:
1.  Melt the shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil on a very low heat, stirring constantly.  Transfer into a glass bowl and pop into the fridge for about 15 minutes or until the mix starts to solidify around the edges and has cooled right down.

(Thermomix - add shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil into the TM bowl, chop for 5sec/sp6, melt for 3min/50deg/sp2.  Pour into a glass bowl and pop into the fridge for about 15min or until mixture starts to solidify).

2.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Whip for a few minutes with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamy.  Transfer to glass jars, pop jar lids on and allow to set at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

(Thermomix - pour the mixture back into the TM, add the remaining ingredients, put in the butterfly and whip for 3min/sp4.  Pour into glass jars, put the lids on and allow to set for a few hours or overnight at room temperature). 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pineapple & Cinnamon Jam



I was told this jam flavour sounded a bit odd but I don't know.... I thought it sounded summery and exotic and delicious!   And it certainly turned out that way.  I'm still in my study period and exam period starts next week.  Making these preserves and things for Christmas pressies is certainly a welcome distraction from studying!  

Ingredients (makes about 400ml):

- 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (I had about 650g of chopped pineapple)
- 1 green apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 200g raw sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lime

Method:

Add all ingredients (except lime juice) to a pot and cook on a low heat, stirring frequently, for about an hour or until the jam sets when tested.  Stir through the lime juice, remove the cinnamon quill and then put the jam into sterilised jars.

If making this in the Thermomix, follow the above method but cook on 100deg/sp1.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beetroot Relish



I am just loving making these homemade gifts for Christmas this year.  While this relish was cooking away, it was all I could smell in the house and it brought back fond memories of my Polish grandmother who I was very close to when I was little... and beetroot is certainly a staple food when it comes to Polish cuisine!  Anyway, this recipe makes quite a large batch so I managed to fill 3 jars with it and had some leftover which I quickly scoffed with some sour cream! Yummo!  Enjoy. 

Ingredients (makes about 800ml):
- 2 tbsp butter
- 800g beetroot, peeled
- 2 onions, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 green apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- Small handful of fresh thyme
- 100g rapadura
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tsp sea salt
- Good sprinkle of black pepper

Method:
1.  Grate the onion and chop the garlic.  Add butter to a large pot and add the onion and garlic, stirring on a medium heat, until softened.

(Thermomix - add garlic and halved onion, chop 4sec/sp5, add butter and then cook 2min/100deg/sp1)

2.  Grate the beetroot and apple (you can do this in a food processor if you like) and add to the pot along with the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer.  Cook for around 45min or until beetroot is soft, stirring frequently.

(Thermomix - add chunks of beetroot and apple, chop 10sec/sp4-5 or until chopped well, then add remaining ingredients and cook for 45min/100deg/sp2 or until beetroot is soft)

3.  Allow to cool and then pop into jars and store in the fridge.  If you're not going to use this relish within a week or so, put it into sterilised jars while still hot and seal the jars.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Strawberry & Chocolate Cupcakes



I always go out of my way to ensure that our fridge is fully stocked with a variety of wholefoods because one of my kids (yes, only one of my 2, much to my frustration) loves to have a large variety of fruit and veg in her diet.  So I may or may not have gone a bit overboard with buying berries in the past week.  With a large stash of strawberries, I decided to cook something lunchbox friendly with some of them!

Ingredients (makes 12):
- 1 cup light spelt flour
- 1/2 cup whole spelt flour
- 1/2 cup rapadura
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 free range egg
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup choc chips
- 100g strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 tsp baking powder

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with cupcake cases.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cacao powder, milk, coconut oil, egg and vanilla.  Stir to combine.

3.  Fold in the remaining ingredients.

4.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip

Well it feels like summer is here already in Brisbane although it's still on the beginning of November!  Hot weekend days mean easy lunches and today we thought we would have a plate of dip with veggies, cheese and crackers.  The only thing to remember with preparing legumes is if possible, please use dried legumes which you just need to soak, rinse and cook ahead of time.  I always find that preparing legumes this way, as opposed to using the tinned varieties, results in less chance of bloating due to the fact that the phytic acid has been neutralised through the soaking process.  



Ingredients (makes about 2 cups of dip):
- 1 cup dried white beans (I used haricot beans), soaked overnight and then rinsed well and cooked until tender - this resulted in about 400g of cooked beans
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted in the skins in a hot oven for 10 minutes, then cooled and peeled
- Juice from half a lemon
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp Herbamare
- Few leaves of fresh basil
- Couple of sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Pop all ingredients into Thermomix or food processor and process until the desired consistency is reached (about 30 seconds on speed 4 in Thermomix).  Serve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choc, Coconut & Chia Brekky Pudding

My Tuesday mornings are a tad hectic!  Kids have to be at school by 7am and I have to be at uni not long after.  So hectic mornings call for brekkies on the run... and this chia pudding is my new obsession!  With just a couple of minutes of prep time last night, my brekky was all ready and waiting for me in the fridge this morning when I needed to grab it and race out the door!



Ingredients (serves 1):
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 3/4 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk or other milk)
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Fresh fruit to garnish (I used strawberries, blueberries and a couple of mint leaves)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients (except garnish) together in a small bowl, cover and pop into the fridge overnight.  In the morning, garnish with fresh fruit and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lemon & Almond Balls

My my, it has been a long time since I have blogged!  Life has just been so busy so far in the second half of this year thanks to my studies and life in general.  On a positive note though, at the end of this year, I will officially be halfway through my degree! It's been a big 4 years so far and I'm hoping it will take a lot less time to finish the second half.  Anyway, in between studying for an exam last week, I made a batch of these yummy treats.  A healthy snack to have in the fridge for when I need it!



Ingredients (makes 16 balls):
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup activated mixed nuts
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- Zest from half a lemon
- Juice from 1/4 lemon
- 2 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil 
- 1tsp vanilla essence
- Organic desiccated coconut for rolling 

Method:
Add all ingredients to a food processor or Thermomix and pulse a few times until the mixture starts to come together and the contents are well chopped.  Roll into balls and then roll in coconut.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixed Vegetable Gnocchi



Some of my earliest childhood memories include my grandmother cooking for me the Polish version of gnocchi (kopytka) which we ate with copious amounts of melted butter.  Soooo good!  These days I have developed my own style of cooking and I always like to make my own versions of different dishes.  This includes making gnocchi with a few different veggies - not just potatoes!  The process takes a while from start to finish and can be a bit of a messy job so I suggest probably trying this recipe on a weekend or when you have a spare couple of hours.  Depending on the mix of veggies you use and the type of flour, you may need to adjust the amount of flour you use - this is why I put an approximate amount of flour below - what worked for me might be slightly different for others.  

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 1kg mixed, peeled veggies (I used 500g white potato, 300 sweet potato, 200g pumpkin)
- 50g butter, softened
- 1 free range egg
- Sea salt and pepper
- 3.5 cups (approximately) GF flour (I used Macro brand) or other flour

Method:
1.  Boil veggies until tender.  Drain and allow to cool to room temperature.

2.  In a large bowl, mash the veggies with butter, egg and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Add the flour, a half cup at a time and mix it in.  Once you've added about 2 cups of flour, get in there with your hands and begin to knead the dough.  Add more flour until the dough is still soft but not sticky.

4.  Separate the dough into 8 balls and roll each ball out into a log.  With a floured butter knife, cut each log into small pieces.  Put the cut pieces in a single layer onto a sheet of baking paper.



5.  Boil a pot of water and cook the gnocchi in batches.  The gnocchi is ready when it floats to the surface.

* I served the gnocchi with grated cheese and a simple sauce which I made by frying half a chopped onion and a crushed garlic clove in some butter, then I added some chopped, mixed fresh herbs, a tin of chopped BPA-free tomatoes (I used Spiral brand), 200ml water, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp Thermomix veggie stock concentrate and some salt and pepper.  I cooked this for about 10 minutes until the sauce reduced and thickened.


 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Spicy Kale Chips



Super easy one today.  I had a bunch of kale sitting in my fridge - some of which I had juiced, but there was still lots leftover.  So I decided to make a batch of kale chips.  The spices made them super tasty and these babies didn't last long after I had baked them!  As a side note, anyone with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) needs to be careful when consuming cruciferous veggies such as kale as these types of veggies have been linked to suppressing thyroid function.  I personally don't have an underactive thyroid, however kale also contains oxalates - which when consumed, bind strongly to iron (and some other minerals) in your body and the iron is then excreted.  Not ideal for those of us (like me) who have iron deficiency.  So this is definitely one of a number of foods that I only like to enjoy every now and then.  

Ingredients:
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1 tbsp macadamia oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder

Method:
1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper

2.  Separate the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems.  Wash the kale leaves and then dry well.  Break up the kale leaves into chunks.

3.  In a large bowl, toss the remaining ingredients through the kale leaves.  Spread out onto the baking trays.  Bake for around 10 minutes or until the kale starts browning around the edges.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Apple & Cinnamon Brown Rice Waffles



Some lazy weekend mornings I love to put a bit of extra effort into breakfast... and by extra effort I usually mean preparing some of the ingredients the night before.  This is the case with this recipe.  I grind my brown rice down into flour (or you can buy brown rice flour) the night before and I soak it overnight in some liquid with a bit of apple cider vinegar.  Soaking grains in an acidic medium allows the phytic acid in the grain to be neutralised, and this allows our digestive tract to more easily absorb the nutrients from the grain.  It really doesn't take very long to prepare these babies, just a few minutes of prep time the night before!

Ingredients (makes 8 waffles):
- 2 cups brown rice flour (or brown rice, ground in Thermomix for 1min/sp9)
- 400ml can coconut cream
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup rapadura sugar
- 2 free range eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 large apple, grated (please peel if not organic)

Method:
1.  Combine the brown rice flour, coconut cream and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl.  Cover and leave overnight to soak (I leave mine on the bench but if you're not comfortable doing this, you can pop it in the fridge).

2.  In the morning, add the remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Preheat a waffle iron and cook the waffles in batches.  I find that cooking them a little longer allows them to hold together a lot better.  Serve with fruit, yoghurt, maple syrup, honey etc.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spelt Pizza Base



I really should be studying right now for my last exam for the semester.... but I'm looking for every excuse under the sun not to!  I made this pizza for dinner tonight and as it turned out, my sister and super fussy 3yo nephew dropped by.  My nephew had 3 slices of pizza - you know a food is good when he eats it!  This recipe makes 2 large pizzas.  If you don't want to make 2 pizzas at once - you can freeze half the dough once the proving has finished, roll it into a ball and wrap in cling wrap, then pop into the freezer.  When you're ready to use the dough, you just take it out of the freezer and allow to thaw out on a baking paper lined pizza tray until it's soft enough to flatten and roll out.

Ingredients:
Base:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
- 4 cups unbleached spelt flour
- 1 tbsp macadamia oil + 1 tbsp extra
- Pinch of sea salt

Toppings:
Whatever you want - but this is what I used tonight:
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 100g nitrate-free ham, chopped
- 2 cups cheese (please grate it yourself to avoid anti caking agents often added to pre-shredded cheeses) - I used mozzarella and parmesan (grated in my Thermie for 10 seconds on speed 9)

Method:
1.  Heat water until lukewarm and stir the yeast in.  Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy and activated.

(Thermomix - add water and yeast to TM bowl and warm for 2min/37deg/sp1.  Allow to activate for 10 minutes or so)

2.  Tip the yeast mixture into a large bowl.  Add the flour, 1 tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt and combine with your hands.  Tip the dough mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Using the remaining 1tbsp of macadamia oil, grease a large bowl and put your dough in.  Cover and allow to prove on the bench for around 1 hour or until doubled in size.

(Thermomix - add flour, 1tbsp oil and pinch of salt.  Mix 5sec/sp6.  Knead for 30 seconds using the knead function.  Transfer the dough into a bowl greased with remaining macadamia oil, cover and allow to prove on the bench for around 1 hour or until doubled in size)

3.  After the dough has doubled in size, I then put the bowl of dough in the fridge for another 2 hours.  It continues to grow but much more slowly.

4.  Preheat oven to 220 degrees and line 2 pizza trays with baking paper.  Divide the dough in half and roll out onto each tray.  Top with whichever toppings you like and bake for around 15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through.   



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl Berry Delight Cake



If you've been following my Facebook page, you may have seen me post about Matilda, the travelling swirly pan from the Aussie Peoplehood of the Travelling Swirly Pan.  Matilda makes its way to a new Australian home every fortnight.  Currently it's my turn to bake in Matilda and I made this gorgeous cake in it.  If you would like to be part of the baking action, head over to this page for more info or to sign up!   In the meantime, check out my latest blog post.

Ingredients:
Cake:
- 3.5 cups unbleached spelt flour
- 3/4 cup rapadura sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 free range eggs
- 400ml coconut cream
- 50g butter, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/3 cup cacao powder

Icing - whipped coconut cream:
- 2 x 400ml tins coconut cream, refrigerated for a few hours
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

Strawberry sauce:
- 1 punnet of strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1 tbsp maple syrup

Garnish:
- Fresh mixed berries
- Toasted organic coconut flakes

Method:

1.  Make the cake.  Preheat oven to 160 degrees.  Grease the cake tin with butter and dust with spelt flour.  Set aside the prepared cake tin.  In a large bowl, whisk together until well combined the spelt flour, rapadura, baking powder, eggs, coconut cream, butter and vanilla.  Pour half the cake batter into another bowl.  Add cacao powder to one of the bowls and whisk to combine.  Pour small amounts of the cake batter, alternating between the 2 batters, into the prepared cake tin.  Swirl the batter with a skewer or knife.  Pop into the oven for around 20-25 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.




2.  Make strawberry sauce by processing strawberries and maple syrup until a smooth consistency.  I did this in the Thermomix for about 40sec/sp4-5.  Rinse Thermo bowl. 

3.  Make whipped coconut cream.  With an electric beater (or Thermomix, with the butterfly attachment), add all the coconut cream icing ingredients and whip until the mixture thickens (approx 1min/sp4 in Thermomix).

4.  Ice the cake with the coconut cream and strawberry sauce, then garnish with berries and toasted coconut. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chicken Bone Broth



Well I know that this isn't the most attractive looking blog post - but trust me - bone broth is liquid gold!  I always have a jar of it in the fridge and love to use it in anything I can.  It adds a wonderful depth of flavour to soups and casseroles and any other dish where you would otherwise use stock.  I also love to drink a cup of it, warmed up, with a sprinkle of Herbamare.  It's delicious!  I like to cook this in the slow cooker because that way I can maximise cooking time without too much evaporation and therefore cook the broth for the full 24 hours.  If you don't have a slow cooker, you can also do this on the stove top however you'll have to cook it on the lowest heat possible and be sure to keep a close eye on it through the day as you don't want it to evaporate too much.  Even just cooking this for a few hours, you'll be able to get some of the health benefits.  For more information on the health benefits of bone broth, please click here.  Please also note that you can add any sort of veggie offcuts to this!

Ingredients (my mother in law's slow cooker which she has kindly loaned to me while we are still searching for a house to buy while my own slow cooker is in storage, has roughly a 4L capacity and makes about 1-1.5L of broth - adjust the amount of chicken pieces and water to suit your own):
- 1.5kg chicken pieces (I use a mix of carcasses, necks, drummies, wings, wing tips and also a couple of chicken feet if I can find them - whatever you can get is fine as long as you have a good amount of pieces with quite a bit of cartilage in them)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Filtered water
- 1 carrot, cut into chunks (no need to peel if organic)
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 celery sticks with leaves, cut into chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- a few peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves

Method:

1.  Put chicken pieces into the slow cooker and add apple cider vinegar.  Top up with filtered water, sparing enough room to add veggies later.  Cover and allow to sit for a couple of hours.  The vinegar will start to leach some of the nutrients out of the bones.



2. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook on "low" for up to 24 hours. 



3.  After this, I switch off the slow cooker and allow the broth to cool down a bit.  Once it's cool enough to handle, I strain the broth into glass jars.  (If you have pets, you can pull the chicken meat off the bones and use as pet food.  My dogs love this, with a bit of the broth added to the meat!)  Refrigerate the jars of broth and if you're not going to use it within a week or so, I would suggest freezing in portions.  Once the broth has been refrigerated, it should be a gelatinous consistency.  If it isn't don't worry, it's still very nutritious.  Just next time you make it, try and use some more chicken pieces with cartilage in them such as wing tips.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lemon Cheesecake Bites



Well I'm still looking for a house in Brisbane while we stay with family so most of my pantry essentials are still in storage - in case anyone is wondering why I've been missing in action!  Anyway, this afternoon just seemed like a good afternoon for blogging so here goes.

Ingredients (makes 10):
* I used 10 cupcake sized silicone moulds
Base:
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup rapadura sugar
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

Filling:
- 450g quark cheese
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp pure cream
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp coconut oil 
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

1.  In a food processor or Thermomix, add all the base ingredients.  Process for a few seconds or until finely chopped (6sec/sp5 in Thermomix).
  
2.  Divide evenly amongst the 10 silicone moulds and press down.  Put into the fridge while you make the filling. 

3.  To make the filling, add all the filling ingredients to the food processor or Thermomix and process until smooth and combined (1.5min/sp4 in Thermomix), stopping and scraping down the sides a couple of times during this process.

4.  Spoon the filling into the silicone moulds.  Put into the freezer for at least an hour.  To serve the cheesecake bites, take them out of the freezer and remove the silicone moulds.  Thaw for about 10 minutes and serve.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Spicy Quinoa Salad


 
I love quinoa for its nutritional benefits as well as being a grain-free alternative to grains such rice.  This salad is easy and quick to prepare and it's delish.  I have it as a side dish or on its own.  Perfect meal in the current summer heat!  

Ingredients:
- 200g quinoa
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red capsicum, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup toasted cashews

Dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic
- Thumb of fresh ginger
- 1 large red chilli, deseeded (or leave the seeds in if you dare!)
- 2tsp rapadura sugar
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1tbsp tamari
- Juice from 1 lime
- Small handful fresh parsley
- Few leaves of fresh mint
- Sprinkle of sea salt

Method:
1.  Rinse the quinoa well and then cook it as per the packet directions.  Alternatively, if you have a Thermomix, put the quinoa into the rice basket and rinse.  Pour 1L of water into the TM bowl and steam the quinoa for 12min/Varoma/sp4.  Tip the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and allow to cool.

2.  Stir through diced vegetables and nuts

3.  Make dressing - blend together all the ingredients until smooth (about 1min/sp9 in Thermomix).  Stir the dressing through the salad.  Serve.