Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pear, Quinoa & Raspberry Muffins {Recipe}



I'm not really a fan of quinoa. Like a lot of you, I jumped on the superfood bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about but when it came to the taste, I just went meh. I think it smells too, but maybe that's just me.

Unsurprisingly I have quinoa flakes languishing in my pantry. Finding something I could 'hide' them in became a mission. Hello PQR (pear, quinoa & raspberry) muffins.

Muffins are not only easy to make, they're also the perfect lunchbox treat because they are completely freezable. I've made a big batch these school holidays ready for the next school term.

I prefer to make my muffins with wholemeal flour. That way there is absolutely no confusion with cupcakes (which to my mind a lot of those cafe bought-in muffins seem to be masquerading as). Teamed up with quinoa flakes and oats, they have real texture. Pear chunks, raspberries and a modest amount of brown sugar make them just sweet enough.

And while they might sound healthy (and they are kind of), they don't taste so much like health food. Olive gobbled down three of these this afternoon - and declared me the best muffin maker in the world!

Can a super food turn me into a muffin making superhero? Maybe there's a place for quinoa in my pantry after all - right now I feel like wonder woman!


RECIPE: Pear, Quinoa & Raspberry Muffins
This recipe makes a big batch of muffins - 2 dozen regular sized or 1 dozen regular and 2 dozen minis. Bake and freeze them for lunchboxes.

Ingredients
2 cups wholemeal SR flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 large or 2 small pears, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170C.
  2. Line muffin trays with paper liners.
  3. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, oats, quinoa flakes, bicarb soda and sugar.
  4. Stir through the raspberries and pear chunks.
  5. In jug or separate bowl, blend the eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil together.
  6. Pour egg mixture onto dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  7. Spoon into baking papers, filling 3/4 full (they don't rise alot).
  8. For mini muffins, bake for approximately 15min. For regular sized muffins, bake for approximately 25mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool 5 minutes in the tin before taking them out to cool on a baking rack.
Linking up with Domesblissity for Thriving on Thursdays.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

5 steps to stay on top of what's in the freezer

A couple of days ago my deep freezer was caked in ice. Mystery bags of long forgotten food lurked at the bottom; their once snappy labels fallen off.

I've been talking about emptying the freezer for a while now but it took longer than I'd anticipated.

Now that its finally clean and frost free, I'm determined to stay on top of what's inside.

These are the 5 steps I'm following to stay on top of what's in my freezers.

1. Stock up on freezer containers and bags. 
I bought a 50-pack of oblong takeaway containers, multi sized ziplock bags and multi sized freezer bags.

2. Buy good quality permanent markers. 
I've tried using adhesive labels on containers but they either fall off while in the freezer or leave a sticky residue on the containers when you wash them afterwards. Permanent markers stay put and are easy to read on frozen items. My marker of choice is the Sharpie Pro (they write on wet surfaces!)



3. Make a  "What's in the freezer" list and laminate it! 
My previous attempts of freezer lists always got messy with crossing out items and constantly having to rewrite the list. Now I can write and edit the list using a fine tipped whiteboard marker and rub out used up items so it always looks neat.

My What's in the Freezer lists take pride of place on the fridge next to my weekly planner, shopping list and monthly planner.

4. Keep your What's in the Freezer list in a high vis area - on the fridge is ideal. 
You'll never add or update the list if it's hidden away.

5. Update your What's in the Freezer list every time you add or take something out (and teach the other members of your household to do the same). 
Meal planning and shopping lists will be so much easier because you can see at a glance what you have.


Linking up with Domesblissity for Thriving on Thursdays

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Yarn along



The lovely Ginny over at Small Things created Yarn Along, a blogger link up for the yarn obsessed, to share what they've been making and reading each week. Although it's essentially a knitting club, Ginny has welcomed crocheters as well so here I am.

Last week I finished my entry for the Country Women's Association (CWA) of Victoria State Exhibition - a red cowl. It's been entered into the Scarves category and I'll find out next Friday how I went.

I made the cowl out of 12ply acrylic yarn and only took a couple of days to make up. The pattern, from the 1st issue of Simply Crochet magazine, includes a button placket but I decided to keep this one plain.

What I love about the pattern is the mock cable effect. So do my fellow CWA branch members - they've asked me to teach them how to do it!

If you're on Ravelry, you can get more information about the pattern here.

I'm also reading about CWA. On my bedside table is "Great Australian CWA Stories" by Bill Swampy Marsh. Along with interviews with inspirational members from across Australia, it also includes 90 classic CWA recipes and household hints.

I've only just started it but already enjoying hearing how other branches operate as well as how CWA branches support their communities in times of need. It certainly makes me proud to be a member.

Linking up with Small Things for Yarn Along


Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet Swap 2013 & my Mini Rum Balls {Recipe}


One of the greatest pleasures of baking is sharing the spoils. I bake for family, friends, neighbours and charity.

When I found out about the Sweet Swap, I couldn't sign up fast enough. Linking up with fellow Australian food theme bloggers to share some sweet love and get a little in return - who wouldn't want to get sweet parcels in the mail?

It's been like Xmas in July.

The same week I got my matches I accidently killed my blog. Having already committed to the swap, I resolved to start my blog again so I could take part properly. Organiser Amanda was very understanding - thank you.

Choosing what to make was probably the hardest part. It needed to be a completely new recipe that I'd never blogged about, taste fabulous and be resilient enough to survive being posted in the mail. I decided on Di-licious Mini Rum Balls.

These rum balls were particularly special because I used walnuts I’d handpicked from my brother in law’s house in Ballarat.

I must confess that up until now I haven't been much of a fan of rum balls. It's a size thing.

At their traditional size I find rum balls completely overwhelming. In miniature though, they're quite darling and a lovely pick me up in the afternoon.

Despite the decent swig of rum in them, Olive happily gobbled them up. My father proclaimed them irresistible and my mum ate more than she planned to. They'll definitely be on my Xmas baking list.


I wanted the wrapping to be as just as fun as the treat itself so I sourced brown craft boxes and tied them up with red bakers twine.

A message from me was tucked inside and I then wrapped the boxes in brown paper and tied them up with string – Julie Andrews was definitely onto something with her favourite things!

I posted my sweet parcels to:

Wen from What's Mummy Up To
Mary from Beyond Jelly  
Julie from I Dream in Chocolate

Before long three sweet parcels arrived on my doorstep.


 My first parcel was from Guilia at Love at Every Bite. An Italian expat living in Canberra, she made me the most divine traditional Italian Ricciarelli biscuits and homemade honeycomb.  I will definitely be hunting down the recipe for those biscuits!


A couple of days later, another sweet parcel, groaning with treats, arrived from Monica at Gastromony.

Not one, but three delicious treats! Chocolate & Peanut Butter Fudge made in a Thermomix (and dusted with edible gold glitter) was unbelievably smooth and creamy. Caramelised Cornflake Pralines were devoured by Olive in a flash. The crumbs I got to try were pretty tasty! The gluten free Lemon Myrtle and Thyme shortbreads were also lovely and I’ll be forwarding the recipe link to a celiac girlfriend.


Last but certainly not least were the whimsical Pop goes the Brownies from Flick of  Flick your Food.
She thoughtfully included a separate packet of pop rocks in case the brownies didn’t pop in our mouths as planned. It was the first time my daughter had tried them and the look of amazement on her face was priceless!

A big thank you to the organisers of the Sweet Swap. It was so much fun. To see what other sweets were swapped across the Australian Food blogosphere this July, you’ll find all the links here.


Recipe: Di-licious Mini Rum Balls
Recipe makes 120+ tsp sized balls.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
375g Chocolate Ripple biscuits (1 ½ packets)
¾ cups icing sugar
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup white rum (eg. Bacardi)
3 Tblsp golden syrup
Extra cocoa for dusting
R
Method:



  1. Toast walnuts in a clean, dry frypan set over low heat. Be careful not to burn them.
  2. Put toasted nuts into a food processor and process till they are small, even crumbs. Empty into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Break up biscuits into food processor and process to small, even crumbs. Add to walnuts.
  4. Sift over icing sugar and cocoa and mix everything together til evenly distributed.
  5. Make a well and pour in rum and golden syrup. Mix everything together til you have a large sticky brown ‘dough’.
  6. Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop out even teaspoons of mixture and shape into balls.
  7. Toss balls into a bowl with the extra cocoa to give them an even coat.
  8. Store them in an airtight container with the extra cocoa – they’ll last for weeks!