Great Gravy Quickly from Scratch

 

Great Gravy Quicky from Scratch

 Making your own gravy from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.  This is how I make gravy, don’t ask me how to use pan brownings and juices.  I almost always cook a roast in an oven bag, if I don’t for whatever reason, then we don’t have gravy.

It’s easy…this is how.

Mix 2 Tbs of cornflour and about 1/4 tps of Parisian Browning Essence with 1-2 Tbs of water until you have a smooth paste.  This is the key to smooth gravy, make sure you don’t have any lumps of cornflour.  You can use as much or as little Parisian Browning Essence as you like, you wont taste it, it just gives the colour.  I never measure it 😉

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Now you need the juices from any roast that you have cooked in an oven bag.  Carefully remove the meat with tongs, don’t tear or pierce the bag!

Pick up the bag and hold it so the juices are in one corner.  Hold it still for a minute and you will see that the fat settles on the top.

Now using a skewer or small sharp knife, pierce a small hole in the bag.

Let the juices run into the cornflour mix, watching the layer of fat carefully.  Before the fat starts to come out, use the skewer to pick up the bottom of the bag and quickly move it another bowl, scraps bucket or rubbish bin so that the fat can drain into there.  A little bit of fat wont matter but too much will make your gravy feel greasy and taste yuk!

Now stir so that all the cornflour mix is combined with the meat juices and microwave it for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice.  You could do it in a saucepan on the stove top, you would need to stir it constantly with a whisk.

And hey presto…Gravy!  Easy.  Quick.  Just season to taste and you’re done.

You can add extra water or water from steaming veggies if you need, but the more meat juices the better the flavour will be.

Gravy can be frozen.  I like to freeze any leftovers it in ice cube trays.

Childrens Party Food Ideas

It’s birthday season around here at the moment!  Miss E turned 2 at the end of Feb and we will have a Miss 4 come Monday.  And then it’s my turn soon after that 🙂

So my thoughts have turned to birthday party planning, that makes me sound like I’m organised for it doesn’t it?!  To be honest I have not got past the thinking stage, but hey, good start right?  So this is what I’m thinking for party food, I am a bit of a traditionalist yes.  Reminiscing perhaps.




Traditional

3 ingredient chocolate crackles - no copha so I might actually like them

 

Fairy Bread

 

Honey Joys - I could eat these all day every day and never be tired of them. Must try them with peanuts sprinkled on top.

 

Sausage rolls

 

 




Cool Fruit Ideas

 RAINBOW STICKS: These look really effective, don't they? You could make and eat these in combination with learning the rainbow song, finding out about different colours (for younger children), or learning about the role of colours in food and health (for older children). Get children to assemble these themselves, following the colour order.

Fruit Cup Ideas | Allergy Free Party Food Ideas Recipes Kids Childrens

 

Great idea for the kids snacks! I think Ry and Laken will love this...trying it out this week!

 

The cutest little appetizer -- Banana Peanut Butter Bites! Great healthy snack for children who need to gain weight.

Check out Mumma Plus Three on Pinterest for more party food Ideas.

Boobie Balls

If you are breast feeding and wanting to increase your milk supply then this is the recipe for you 😊. There are many recipes for Boobie Biscuits out there but I wanted the benefits of increased milk supply without having to eat too many biscuits, leading to an increased body, if you get my drift.

These balls do actually work in increasing milk production, I know, I’ve tried them. It’s the brewers yeast that is the key ingredient in aiding milk production, do not substitute this for any other kind of yeast, the flaxseed meal is also important.

100g almond meal

100g dates finely chopped

10g coconut oil

30g oats

10g honey

3tsp brewers yeast

3tsp flaxseed meal

30g milk powder

1Tb boiling water

coconut and or extra almond meal to roll balls in

1.Mix all ingredients except water in a food processor until well combined.

2.Add water slowly while food processor is on.

3.Form into balls and coat in extra coconut, almond meal or leave plain.

You can adjust the amount of Brewers yeast in this recipe. The more you use the more your milk supply will be affected. It does have quite a strong taste though, think…Vegimite! In this recipe you can’t taste it and I don’t mind a little more, make one batch and see what you think before tampering 😜

5 Condensed Milk free Ball Recipes

Balls are great!  They are quick, easy, most are freezable and they are the perfect size for kids lunch boxes.  Here are five great healthy ball recipes for kids…well for big people too, but as they are not full of sugar they are great for kids 🙂

Banana Oat Balls

These do sound a bit odd at first but trust me these are amazing!!  You can leave out the choc chips or replace them with sultanas or anything else you like.  They are also yum with about 2Tbs of cocoa added to the mix.  This is a Thermomix recipe but they can easily be made in any food processor.

http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/desserts-sweets-recipes/healthy-raw-cookie-dough-bites-back-school/137912

 


 

Apricot Balls

My girls love these!

https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/video/watch/17973050/fast-ed-apricot-coconut-balls-ep-24-12-07-2013/

 


Lemon Cheescake Balls

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Rind of quarter of a Lemon
100g cream cheese
20g oat meal
35g coconut oil
50g desc coconut
40g oats
30g golden syrup
10ml lemon juice

Extra coconut to roll balls in (and icing sugar for a not so healthy version)

1.Finely grate/chop the lemon rind.

2.Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until evenly combined.

3.Roll into balls and roll in coconut and or icing sugar.  Enjoy!

 


Date Balls

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This is the same recipe as my Boobie Ball recipe without the Brewers Yeast and Flaxseed Meal which are the key ingredients in increasing milk production in Breastfeeding Mothers.

100g almond meal
100g dates finely chopped
10g coconut oil
30g oats
10g honey
3tsp brewers yeast
3tsp flaxseed meal
30g milk powder
1Tb boiling water

coconut and or extra almond meal to roll balls in

1.Mix all ingredients except water in a food processor until well combined.

2.Add water slowly while food processor is on.

3.Form into balls and coat in extra coconut, almond meal or leave plain.

 


Weetbix Balls

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4 Crushed Weetbix
50g Melted Butter
20g Golden syrup
20g Saltanas
50g oatmeal
1 banana, mashed
1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste

1.Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until evenly combined.

2.Roll into balls.  Enjoy!

A Week of Thermomix Meals

I use my Thermomix a lot, but I could use it more.  Some days I use it several times, others I don’t use it at all.  I would like to use it a bit more for our main meals.  It is just the learning, researching and planning that goes into using it has been letting me down recently.  Since Josie was born almost 6 months ago I have not been all that interested in experimenting with main meals.  We have eaten a lot from the freezer and Meet and Three Veg type meals that are quick, easy and require very little planning have been coming thick and fast!

I am starting to get my grove back now that we have all found a bit of a routine and have a little more time on our hands at that end of the day.  I am going to include more Thermomix meals in our meal plan for the week, that way the planning bit is all out of the way and I don’t have to think about it too much 😉  Perhaps I should aim to try one new meal each week?!

These are some of my favourite Thermomix meals that I already make regularly.

 

Recipe Community, Chicken and Vegetable Pie

This pie filling is really yum and always a big hit with the kids. It makes heaps! I freeze half the filling, it separates a little on defrosting but it’s nothing a good stir won’t fix.

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http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/main-dishes-meat-recipes/chicken-and-vegetable-pie/17616

 

My Cauliflower and Bacon Soup

http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/soups-recipes/creamy-cauliflower-and-bacon-soup/167465

 

Quirky’s Spicy BBQ Chicken all in one dinner

http://quirkycooking.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/spicy-bbq-chicken-all-in-one-dinner.html

 

The road to loving my Thermomix’s Pepper Garlic Chicken Fried Rice

http://www.trtlmt.com.au/garlic-pepper-chicken-fried-rice/

 

The road to loving my Thermomix’s Cheats Curried Sausages

http://www.trtlmt.com.au/cheats-curried-sausages/

 

From the Every Day Cookbook

Beef Strogonoff p. 123

In this I use Gravy Beef.  I follow the recipe as is and then put the lot in the Slow cooker for about 4-6 hours, the meat just falls apart, it is perfect!  You can easily double this recipe as it freezes really well, just put the mushrooms straight into the slow cooker so that there is enough room in the Tm bowl 🙂

Creamy Tomato and Salami Fettuccine p.105

I love this because it is packed full of veggies!  I usually replace the Salami with ham or bacon or leave it out for a veggie meal.  I have used light evaporated milk in place of the cream which works well.  I am not too fussy about following the specific vegetables in the recipe, I just throw in whatever is in the fridge.  Broccoli stem, carrot, peas (put in towards the end of the cooking time) all work well.  I always end up putting in more veg than the recipe states.  Tinned Tomatoes work as well as fresh 🙂

 

So there are 7 of my favourites for you to try if you haven’t already.  What are your favourites? Please share!

 

 

 

 

The secret to great Rissoles

Ok so according to the meal plan we had rissoles last night…in reality we had rissoles tonight 😉

I don’t make rissole very often even though I really quite like them. I think I’m traumatised by many a crumbled rissole stuck fast to the frypan or BBQ plate followed by hours of scrubbing to regain any resemblance of a non stick surface.

I didn’t have much confidence that tonight’s effort would be much different, especially when I realized we were out of eggs and the chooks didn’t come through with the goods. I was very nicely surprised though!

This is my recipe…from memory. Excuse the chuck it all in style of measurements 😉

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500g mince
1 onion very finely chopped
3 spoons of tomato chutney
1tsp veggie stock concentrate (thermomix recipe)
1 handful coarse bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork, (I think this is one of the secrets I’ve stumbled upon) work the mince quite well, when you think it’s all mixed, mix some more until the mix has quite a smooth rather than crumbly texture.

Form into rissoles, again work each one thoroughly to ensure it is well stuck together.

Make sure your fry pan or BBQ plate is evenly well heated, once it is, turn it down to medium heat. Warm a glug of olive oil and then place each rissole in gently. Don’t move them now until the first side is cooked and you are ready to turn. Cooking them on medium heat seemed to help them cook together well without burning to the pan (secret number 2) Only turn 2 to 3 times.

Yum, enjoy! I hope these work as well for you as they did for me, Hubby has just informed me they were the best rissoles I’ve ever made, winning!

Sandwich free lunch box ideas with recipes

I thought I had better not ignore the back to school phenomenon completely…so here are some sand which free lunch ideas for the lunch box. Not that there is anything wrong with sandwiches! My girls have them regularly, it is just nice to have a few alternatives up your sleeve.

Some of these ideas are best heated which is not always an option I know. A small thermos container could help 🙂

SOUP
I make all sorts of chuck it all in soups, it is a great way to use up manky veggies in the bottom of the fridge and soup freezes really well! Freeze in small containers or reusable pouches for lunch boxes.

SPINACH PIES
Freezable, tasty hot or cold, they are perfect for lunchboxes.

250g cooked chopped spinach
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
250g Feta
250g Ricotta
1 c grated cheese
4 eggs
1/4 cup SR flour

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a prepared muffin tray, silicone works best for these. Bake at 180*c for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when tested. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the muffin cases before cooling on a wire rack.

CRUSKITS OR RICE CAKES
Pack these in a separate sealed bag or container to keep them fresh and crunchy and pack toppings separately. Kids will love loading up their toppings and are more likely to eat something they have been involved in making or creating. Great toppings are ham, cheese, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, and for older kids cream cheese, a tin of tuna or a dip to spread.

TUNA PATTIES
This is my recipe and these are a favourite in this house! They freeze well and are delicious with Mayo and kids love the novelty of a dipping sauce.

3cups of cooked mashed potato, sweet potato and or pumpkin (any combination of)
1cup other cooked veggies finely chopped
2-4 small tins of tinned tuna, (depending on how strong you want them)
2eggs
1/2-1cup of bread crumbs (this really depends on how wet your mash is to start with)

Mix everything together and form into patties. You will need to go by feel a bit and add enough breadcrumbs so that the patties will hold together, not too wet or dry.
Bake on a tray lined with baking paper for about 30minutes at 180* or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and freeze flat in a zip lock bag when cool.
I heat them straight for the freezer for about a minute each in the microwave. If you have more time, defrost in the fridge and then warm in the oven. Enjoy!

SCROLLS
Still bread I know but not technically a sandwich 😉
This basic scroll dough recipe works wonderfully every time and makes a big batch. Wraps these individually and place into a ziplock bag to freeze.

440ml water
1Tbs yeast
Pinch of salt
750g bakers flour
70g melted butter or oil

Mix dough, kneed well and then cover and leave in a warm place to double In size. Knock back the dough and roll into a large rectangle. Place your fillings evenly over the surface, fillings are limited only to your imagination! Roll into a log then cut into 3cm pieces and place into a round silicone cake form. Allow to prove again for 15 minutes before baking at 180*c for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

CHEESE AND VEGGIE MUFFINS
These are a great veggie smuggling option!…and freezeable 🙂

2cups SR flour
2cups grated cheese
2cups grated veggies/ ham/ bacon/ chicken etc
1 egg
1/4cup to 3/4cup milk (As much as you need to wet the mixture enough to combine everything together, depending on how wet your veggies are)

Mix and spoon into muffin tins (these can stick incredibly if not lined or greased…be aware! )
Bake at 180*c for 30-40 minutes, cool on a wire rack.

Starting solids

Well the plan was to put it off for as long as possible, it’s just another job to do after all, but it seems Josie, now 5months old, is busting for food. She has been watching every mouthful taken around her for some time now and has had the odd chew on an apple core, which she did not want to give up! She doesn’t sit very well and I was using that as the perfect excuse, but really, she’s busting!

So I thought I’d share with you how I make starting solids easy. There’s nothing special about what I do and it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before but it may be helpful for someone who hasn’t been there before :-).

Rice Cereal?

You could start with Rice Cereal, however this is not as nutritionally necessary as the companies who manufacture it would have you believe. It can be a handy to have in the cupboard to thicken up your fruit or veg purée if they end up being too runny, and it is quick and easy to prepare if you are desperate and baby is starving now! I have used it with my two older girls however this time I just ground some oats down very fine and use this instead. You could mix with breast milk or formula, I can’t be bothered expressing a few mls just for this so I just mix with boiling water, this cooks it almost instantly as the oats are so fine.

Make it easy, prepare the freezer

It really doesn’t take long to do a big cook up and purée a variety of fruits and veg. I always cook and freeze everything separately so that I can mix and match different meals easily. Most popular with the babies are, apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, prunes (in moderation 😉 ) and pear, also banana and avocado although these do not need to be cooked. Less popular, with my bubs anyway, are broccoli, carrot, beans, cauliflower and zuchinni. Mix these less popular veggies with some fruit, pumpkin or sweet potato and you should be right :-). So steam your fruit and veg, purée and then freeze in ice cube trays or small containers. You can also freeze blobs on a tray or large lid. Once frozen transfer to ziplock bags, label and date.  These will keep safely in the freezer for months.

Breakfast, lunch or tea?

So what time of the day is best for babies first meal? Really I would say don’t over think it too much, just do it at a time that is easiest and suits you best. Josie has been having her food just before the rest of us have tea. Being breastfed, I have less and less milk for Josie as the day goes on, so later in the day seems the best time for her to have food and fill up (in hope for a peaceful evening).

Baby Led Weaning

I have not done a lot of research into this, but from what I understand it basically involves offering whole pieces of food rather than purée or mash. I do a combination of purée and whole foods. As I said Josie has enjoyed several chews on apple cores and I would not hesitate to let her suck on and gum most fruits and veggies. There is however, something very special about offering baby a spoonful of perfectly smooth goo, I love it.

What first?

Rice Cereal if you wish, or I have used oats this time, after that any fruit or veg.  Offer just one at a time and don’t offer anything else new for a few days and watch for any reaction. While allergic type reactions to fruit and vegetables are uncommon some may upset babies stomach or cause constipation.  Watermelon made my older two very cranky and uncomfortable when they were little and carrot always bunged them up :-/. You will soon work out if there is anything to avoid!  If baby does get constipated cooked, puréed prunes work wonders, in moderation though!  Also always offer cooled boiled water with food, slightly warm (yuck) seems to go down a bit better.

Most of all, enjoy!  And beware of the mess that is to come 🙂

The depths of my freezer…

If you read my freezer post

https://mummaplusthree.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/the-world-inside-my-freezer/

you might remember that I mentioned that the top drawer was a treasure trove of random food items which could justify a post all to itself.  After all the Christmas festivities it was looking rather worse for wear and in need of a quick clean out (quick because I hate this job, too cold!!).  This may as we’ll be a chance for me to share with you just exactly what lives in this drawer.

The before shot

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Have I mentioned that I love ziplock bags?? 😉

Veggies

Peas and Corn (normally also beans, I’ll put that on the shopping list now).  I always put these into ziplock bags, I find it makes them much easier to deal with, especially when you are holding a baby and only have one hand free.

Ginger, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks

Spinach, cooked, drained and chopped

Dried Tomatoes (my Mum dries these in their thousands). These are plain, I use them straight from the freezer in cooking or add some olive oil and herbs to store in the fridge.

Cooked beetroot cut into chunks.  Last year we had tones of beetroot from the garden.  So much I didn’t know what to do with it so this is what I resorted to.  I have used it to make dips although it did seem a little watery on defrosting, I should probably chuck the rest since it’s now 12months old…

Fruit

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Berry Sorbet frozen into cubes

Lemon Juice, (a glut of lemons from a friends tree)

A random banana that someone obviously decided they wanted to peal and not eat :-/

The juice from tinned peaches.  We don’t often have tinned fruit but when we do I couldn’t possibly throw this sweet stuff out.  It’s delicious wizzed up with some fresh fruit to make Sorbet.

Meat (cooked)

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This is as random as it gets!

One Chop

One Rissole

Cooked Mince (suffering from a little freezer burn)

Shredded Chicken, I always try and have this in the freezer, it’s great to put in rolls for Daddy’s lunch.

Other random bits

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Thermomix Veggie Stock Concentrate.  Due to the high salt content this doesn’t freeze hard but the low temperature still preserves it.  I keep half the batch in the freezer and the rest in the fridge to use first.  You could store it in the freezer and use it straight from the jar.

Blobs of Truffle Paste

Blobs of Tomato Paste

Blobs of Pesto

half a packet of Suet

Bread Crumbs

Crumble Topping, yum!

That’s it, just a quick clean out, perhaps I should do the whole freezer one drawer at a time, it wasn’t such a horrid task after all…and now it looks slightly more organised…I think 🙂

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Muuuuummmm! I’m hungry!

Children can be hungry little beggars! As in hungry now…right now! Not in half an hour when you have had time to prepare something. Now!

If you have read my freezer post here
https://mummaplusthree.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/the-world-inside-my-freezer/
you would know that having the freezer well stocked is how I try and combat this dilemma. So I have compiled a list of snacks and meals that can be frozen in child sized portions, just especially for these starving moments 🙂

Snacks first.
Freeze all these things flat in ziplock bags so they don’t stick together.
Pikelets
Banana Bread
Mini muffins
Cheese and veg muffins
Cakes and slices

Fruit or Milo icy poles (use a small container and poke in a wooden stick when partially frozen if you don’t have moulds)

Stewed puréed fruit frozen in small containers or reusable pouches.

Balls. We love balls! These Apricot Balls are the most popular thing ever in this house and I love making them because these ones are healthy, not full of condensed milk.

https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/tv-and-video/video/watch/17973050/fast-ed-apricot-coconut-balls-ep-24-12-07-2013/

Any dried fruit could be used in this recipe and google will find you days worth of different recipes.

Another favorite is these Banana Oat Balls. Any food processor will work for these 🙂

http://www.recipecommunity.com.au/desserts-sweets-recipes/healthy-raw-cookie-dough-bites-back-school/137912

Lunch and Dinners
The easiest way to build up supply of frozen kiddy dinners is to freeze a portion or two each time you have extra when dishing up a meal. Freeze it straight away though, don’t wait until you have finished eating because those leftovers have a miraculous way of disappearing!

Pasta
Most pasta dishes freeze quite well, some may go a tad mushy when defrosted but my kids don’t seem to mind if this happens. You can also freeze plain cooked pasta and defrost and heat by covering with boiling water for a few minutes. I know it only takes 10 minutes to boil pasta but this is handy when you only want a few pieces. Small portions of Lasagne can be wrapped in glad wrap once cool and frozen, these do take a bit longer to defrost though.

Rice
Fired rice freezes well and defrosts nice and quickly without mushing too much. Risotto and other rice dishes seem to go fairly sticky but it is worth experimenting to see what works for you.

Mini Cheese and Spinach Pies (don’t ask me for a recipe, I can not ever get them right but my Mother dear always makes a batch for my freezer when she visits and the girls love them!)

Soup in small containers or reusable pouches.

Tuna Patties of course! If you haven’t seen the recipe for these on my Facebook page you really need to find it and try them 🙂

Cooked sausages in ziplock bags.

Poached shredded chicken. This is great to put in rolls and sandwiches, mix through a salad, pasta or for a kids tasting plate. The Organised Housewife has a great recipe here

http://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/lunchbox-ideas/homemade-shredded-chicken-breast-for-school-lunchboxes/

Sandwiches. Yes sandwiches!
I only recently discovered this, but sandwiches freeze very well! Use fresh bread and fillings that will not go soggy on defrosting. So far I have tried
Cheese and Vegimite
Cheese and chicken
Cheese and ham
And they have all worked very well. Just be sure to wrap well with Glad Wrap so they are air tight. They only take a few hours to defrost, perfect for lunch boxes.

Mostly it’s down to trial and error, if you are not sure if something will freeze well, just freeze one piece overnight and then see how it defrosts.

Also a food safety note on freezing food. Wherever possible food should be defrosted in the fridge or quickly in the microwave, not left out at room temperature. Once something is defrosted it should be consumed straight away and not reheated again or refrozen. However, if something is frozen raw, defrosted and then cooked it can be frozen again.

So there you go, I hope you now have some new ideas, or some inspiration to add to or create a stash of kiddy quick fixes in your freezer.