Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Super easy home-made tomato sauce

I’m sure I’m not the only one who worries about how much tomato sauce the little ones seem to eat. Every meal has to have sauce for dipping. Sometimes I am asked to put sauce on cereal (of course I decline). Sometimes I think Freya thinks that the tomato sauce is the "main" and the rest are side-dishes! So, I was inspired to find a tomato sauce recipe that was all natural, but tasted like the store bought variety so the little one wouldn’t realise. 

Well this was the easiest recipe that I found, simple to make and it tastes beautiful. It looks, smells and tastes like store bought sauce but it’s much, much nicer in my opinion. Freya couldn’t tell the difference. She ate it all, so I’m happy. 

I paid about $11 for all of these ingredients (I already had all the spices in my cupboard). Considering this made four full jars it would work out to be cheaper than buying it. More importantly it’s all natural and I believe it tastes more wholesome than alternatives. 

4 Jars

3 and 1/2 kg ripe, juicy tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 cup (250 ml) vinegar 
10 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup (125 ml) white sugar
2 tsp salt

1. Place the tomatoes in a food processor ( don’t peel them) with the garlic. Process till all mushy. 
(If you don’t have a food processor, roughly chop the tomatoes into 1-cm sized pieces). 

2. Put the cloves and cardamom pods onto a little square of muslin or cloth and tie in a bundle. Place the bundle into a deep thick-based pot and add the tomato pulp and all remaining ingredients. Mix well, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the mixture has reduced by a third, or is slightly thickened.

3. This should take about two hours. Remove the spice bag, allow the sauce to cool slightly, and then whizz to a rough purée in your food processor. Pour the purée back into the pan and bring to the boil. In the meantime, sterilise four jars (about 250 ml each) and their lids. Pour the boiling sauce into the jars, filling to within a few millimetres of the rim. Screw on the lids tightly, and tighten again after half an hour hour.

4. Enjoy

From: Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton. Published by Kyle Books.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vegetable loaf

I have to apologise for the lack of recipes over the last couple of weeks. I was offered a freelance project and I couldn't say no. So things have been a little crazy. But I now see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen.

This recipe has been sent in to us from another old school friend Francesca. Thanks again to Facebook. This loaf is a real fave with her 3 adorable boys and now I see why. 

This is a great cake/loaf as it tastes like dessert but gives the kids an official serve of veggies. I know I’ve said this before but you wonder why we feed our kids things like banana bread etc when there are much healtheir alternatives out there like this. The great thing about this cake is that it tastes just like a normal (unhealthy) cake, but has healthy benefits for our little ones. This took about 10 mins to prepare and then cooked for just over an hour. So it’s not hard, and I’m sure most of you would have all the ingredients already in the pantry. 

As you can see below, Freya couldn't even wait for me to finish taking photos of this loaf. She set up camp right next to the loaf and hoovered down a piece in less than 5 minutes. This is a real hit with all of us. Thanks Francesca

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup and i think that's all you need)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated vegetables ( zucchini, peeled sweet potatoes, carrots)

1. Preheat overn to 180c.
2. Line loaf tin with baking paper
3. Sift flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl.
4. Blend together oil, eggs and vanilla in a seperate bowl. Add grated veggies to the mixture. 
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
6. Transfer to load tin and bake for 1hr and 20mins or until a skewer is inserted and it comes out dry. 
7. Cool bread in tin on a rack for 15mins. 
8. Enjoy 

Note: This freezes really well. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Date and orange muffins

Our friend Laura brought these muffins to the playground yesterday. I was so excited by these that I had to make a batch this morning. When I first took a bite I would not have known that they were healthy. It was like I was biting into a moist orange dessert cake. 

At the moment i’m working on a freelance design project, so any spare time is spent working and not in the supermarket. As I didn’t have any dates in the cupboard, and that I just had to make these immediately I substituted the dates for sultanas. They are still very tasty (we made 12 and there are only 3 left!) and moist but the dates are definately the way to go. 

These are a must. I don’t think I need to say that Freya asked for more, more, more!  Thanks Laura and Mrs B. 


180g (1 cup) pitted dates, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
65ml orange juice
95g (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) light-flavoured oil such as sunflower (I used 1/4 cup)
125g (1/2 cup) yoghurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150g (2cups) unprocessed bran
120g (3/4 cup) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Put the dates and 185ml (3/4 cup) boiling water in a bowl and leave to soak for a few minutes. Meanwhile, put the orange zest and juice, sugar, oil, yoghurt, eggs, bran, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in another bowl. 
3. Add dates and their soaking water and mix together well.
4. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 25-30mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when poked in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Corn fritters

What toddler doesn't like corn? That's why I thought these would be a perfect recipe. They are so easy to make and you can get your little one to help with this one. These turned out really well and were a real hit with Freya. They kept well in the fridge and we had them for lunch the next day. I think next time I might add some ham or bacon to them as i'm always looking for an excuse to get Freya to eat more protein. You can also adapt this recipe for adults by adding chilli and some bacon on the side - so versatile! 


310g tin corn kernels, drained
150g zucchini, grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and cracked black pepper
chopped avocado, to serve
parsley leaves, to serve

1.Whisk together the corn, zucchini, eggs and milk. Gradually stir in the sifted flour and cumin, salt and pepper.
2.Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Using a tablespoon, place heaped spoonfuls of the mixture in the pan and cook in batches. Using a spatula, turn them once, until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towel, cover and keep warm as you cook remaining fritters.
3.Serve the cakes with avocado, coriander leaves and sweet chilli sauce or tomato sauce

Monday, May 2, 2011

Macaroni with hidden tofu and other goodies

Tofu is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. It is high in protein and calcium and well known for its ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades. Due to its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value, tofu, a staple of Asian cuisines for hundreds of years, has recently become popular in Western vegetarian cooking.

There are two main kinds of tofu, silken or soft tofu, and firm or regular tofu. 

Diana wrote to me asking if I had any tofu recipes. I thought this was a great request as it’s something that I would love Freya (and my husband!) to eat. I know Freya wouldn’t have eaten this without special treatment. I had to hide this wonderful product in one of her favourite dishes...macaroni. Whilst I was going to hide the tofu, I thought ‘why stop there’. So I cut up some mushrooms, and cauliflower as well. I cut everything into extremely small pieces so they were almost not visible to the eye!!! When this meal was cooked it just looked like your normal mac cheese. The great news is that Freya LOVED it and kept on asking for more. Who knew that I could get Freya to eat some tofu. I’m very happy. I have a few more tofu recipes to make over the next few days. Diana let me know what your little one thinks.

Around 6 largish meals

2 cups macaroni cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced firm tofu
1/3 cup cauliflower
1/3 cup mushrooms
1/3 cup grated cheese

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Bring water to the boil and then add macaroni pasta according to package directions.
3. Drain macaroni and pour into a large casserole dish (keep a little bit of the pasta water to add to pasta if it looks a little dry in the oven.
4. Slice or grate firm tofu, cauliflower and mushrooms so the littlies can’t taste or pick it out. Then add to the macaroni.
5. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
6. Place in the oven until the cheese has gone slightly brown.