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.

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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!

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.

The world inside my freezer

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE my freezer. I would honestly be very lost without it. I have most definitely inherited this love from my Mum and Grandma, although not quite to the extend of my dear Grandma who freezes every last scrap of vegetable steaming water in old margarine tubs to be used later in soup. She does make delicious soup!

You know the way that small children can be completely happy and content one minute and then absolutely starving the next, well this is why I love my freezer. It is also handy for the times when I manage to get totally carried away with something and then realize that I am the one who is absolutely starving or that it’s only 15 minutes until tea time.  Also for when guests pop in at meal times and I was planning to have Weetbix or toast 😉 Also for lunch boxes…and the list goes on.

For all this to work you really do need some kind of system for organising your freezer. Searching through the back of your freezer for something that you were sure was there last month, is really not fun, it’s just far too darn cold in there. You need to have a general idea of where to look. Mine works like this.

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My husband just saw me taking a photo of the freezer and he thinks I need to get a life, lol 😉

anyway…
Top shelf – leftovers frozen in small portions for the girls

Middle shelf – bread, rolls, sorbet, ice cream, anything else that is bulky

Bottom shelf – meals in portions enough for 1-2 adults
Casseroles, curries, pasta sauces (with or without pasta), fried rice, cooked meat and veggie pie fillings, lasagne, roast meat in gravy (this freezes very well which surprised me and I think now it’s a favorite) and the list goes on!

Top Drawer – all sorts of random stuff generally in zip lock bags (I think this drawer could warrant a whole post for itself!)

2nd drawer – raw meat, bacon frozen in bags of 4/6 rashers.

3rd drawer – dairy and fruit, odd combination yes. I like to have grated cheddar and Parmesan, whipped cream and cream cheese, these all freeze very well and can save precious time and effort, or a trip to the shops, while cooking. I make butter and freeze it in 250g blocks and freeze the buttermilk in either ice cubes or 100/200ml lots.

4th drawer – sweets and savouries for lunch boxes. These live in zip lock bags, I love those things! Muffins, cakes cut into pieces, sliced Banana Bread, pickets, scones will all defrost in a couple of hours in a lunch box and make for easy packing in the morning. And not only for kids lunches, making your lunch is one of the easiest ways to save LOTS of money. I make my husbands lunch almost everyday purely and simply because I’m a tight ass and can’t bear the thought of him buying lunch everyday lol!

I think I sense a few upcoming posts about freezer cooking, if you don’t cook for the freezer already I can highly recommend it! It has saved us many dinners of Weetbix in the last few months since number three has come along 🙂

Have I inspired you to clean out your freezer?  Or cook double tonight to add to your frozen collection?