Taking Mini-Me to the Extreme!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

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What a time we’ve had of it! I think Hubby & Mini-Me were tag teaming to see who could break me first!

Hubby is doing better after his heart attack but still a way to go on his recovery. The problem arose after an accident in our digger whilst at work. He sustained a broken rib & bruised kidney. Unfortunately, somehow, this led to an infection, Influenza A, pneumonia & all resulted in a heart attack. We choose to see the positive in this, however, for the heart attack has exposed a rather serious heart condition which we can now make appropriate lifestyle adjustments for.

Meanwhile, Mini-Me dropped weight rapidly into a critically low area, ringing alarm bells! Her Nutrition was good with adequate calorie intake for her ballet training so the hunt was on to solve this mystery ASAP!

Every parent fears the word Leukaemia. We were so incredibly relieved when her test results proved negative…..but then what was causing her weight to free fall where no matter what the doctors did, they could not stop it?!

Never underestimate having a bloody good Paediatrician on your side.

Several tests later & we have a break through – Coeliac Disease!

Thank goodness I am already all over this (like Hubby on a cupcake!) having it myself. I recall though, several years ago now, the almighty learning curve of the Gluten Free Diet! I am just so enormously grateful that I got to trial & error on myself instead of my precious child. It was actually such an incredible relief to hear the words Coeliac Disease over the alternative!

Now that they are both on the path back to good health & I’ve been medically ordered that I am NEVER allowed to EVER get sick myself with these two, I have finally had time to breathe. That is always a dangerous thing for me as then I have the time to think!

When Hubby had his heart attack, I became suddenly aware of how truly precarious my privileged life as a Homeschooling House Wife really is. This is the lifestyle that we worked so hard to place ourselves in a position to achieve & maintain before having Mini-Me. Yet it could all be snatched away from us in an instant.

I confided my feelings to my beautiful Ballet Mum tribe. They’re such an extremely supportive & truly empathetic group of ladies. Upon the realisation that reigniting my former career would be unsustainable, a suggestion was made for me to return to study. Train for something new, something that I love, something that is meaningful to me, something that will restore my financial confidence.

Searching for my great unknown, I stumbled across a piece of advice that said something like Find Your Purpose – we’ve all seen this cliche emblazoned everywhere, but what made this one different to grab my attention was that he went on in the video to actually say HOW to find your purpose! Pay attention to what you always think about, always watch, always read, always listen too. I don’t think I need to issue any prizes to anyone for guessing what my brain is obsessed with! FOOD!

But……as well as food, I am equally invested in my family’s health! So not so quick there on the old Culinary School route peeps 😉

I’m leaning towards finding something to do with Food, Nutrition, Health, Elite Performance & Optimum Clean Living. I just haven’t found it yet, but I will.

Nutella Milk Ice

Just 2 common kitchen ingredients

are all that’s needed to whip up this fabuliciouz treat!

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This is a real Kids in the Kitchen classic that Mini-Me absolutely loves to make for a tasty post ballet cool down.

Simply pour some milk in a jug & scoop in some Nutella spread (I’ve used 450ml of milk to 2 groaningly huge tablespoons of Nutella).

Next, grab good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) to whizz it all up before filling some ice-block moulds with the mixture & popping the stick/lids on.

Whack that lot into the freezer overnight to set & enjoy the next day.

Layered Tatties

This is a recipe from my Mother in Law, which I’ve adapted.

Traditionally, in Hungary, they use cabbage rather than potatoes.

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Start by steaming some peeled whole potatoes until they’d pass for par-boiled then slice them up into thin discs.

Heat a wee splash of oil in a frypan & brown off 500g of mince (I use chicken mince but whatever type floats your boat is fine) along with a teaspoon of minced garlic. Remember to season generously with salt & white pepper.

Pop 1/2 cup of rice into a pot of boiling water & once cooked, drain & bung in with the mince, combining well.

Grab a nice baking dish & let’s layer up – tatties on bottom, then mince/rice mix, more tatties, more mince/rice mix etc making sure you end with tatties on top.

Next, make the sauce by simply combining 1/2 cup each of thickened cream & sour cream seasoned with salt, white pepper & paprika. Pour over the layers then simply drizzle extra thickened cream around the edges of the dish to ensure it remains nice & moist.

Whack that into a 200c oven for 40 minutes.

Coconut Chocolate Truffles

Voluptuous Dark Chocolate enrobes seductively moist Coconut

that’s sure to send your taste buds into a Mouthgasm!

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Grab yourself a mixing bowl & bung in 2 & 1/4 cups of desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil, 1/3 cup of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of maple syrup (the real stuff guys!) & 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste then give that lot a jolly good stir until it’s nice & sticky so you can form balls with it – if it’s too wet add a wee bit more desiccated coconut or if it’s too dry add a splash more coconut milk.

Form the mix into ball shapes (this requires some gentle squeeze & pushing action rather than traditional rolling) & pop those onto a baking paper lined tray & whack in the freezer for at least an hour – you can leave them in there overnight if you want to get prepared for a party or something of the sort.

When ready, break up some good quality dark chocolate into a bowl & place over a pot of simmering water, be very careful for the water NOT to touch the bottom of the bowl or your chocolate will seize, & allow that to melt before dipping the coconut balls into the chocolate to cover them completely. Let them set on another baking paper lined tray.

You could get fancy with decorating them with some shredded coconut or use a fork to impress lines in the still wet chocolate.

When all the balls are dipped, simply set them in the fridge before devouring greedily!

Taco Bites

This is my spin on reinventing a classic to make it finger food friendly.

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Most people love tacos, the spiced meat, luscious sour cream, a tang of cheese & a splash of sauce usually are a crowd favourite. But it’s just a wee bit messy sometimes trying to juggle a drink whilst scoffing down even the daintiest of ‘cocktail’ tacos as you try to remain the epitome of elegance. So, I have played in my kitchen to come up with this Taco Bite to give you all the fabuliciouz flavours of a Taco in the easy to handle form of a ball. You may applaud me now & call the Nobel Prize people.

Brown off 500g of chicken mince before seasoning with a 30g packet of Taco Seasoning Mix which you’ve blended in 3/4 cup of water. Give that lot a jolly good stir then allow to simmer gently whilst you crack on.

Next, bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt & cook off 1 & 1/2 cups of rice. When done, drain & bung in with the chicken mince, stirring well.

Throw in 2 handfuls of grated cheddar cheese along with a whole tub (300g) of sour cream. Mix that lot well then allow to cool & refrigerate overnight.

The following day, crush up a bag of plain salted corn chips to crumb consistency then place in a dish.

Retrieve the meaty taco mixture & roll chunks of it into whatever sized balls float your boat, then coat them in the corn chip crumb before placing them onto a tray. When all done, put the tray of taco balls into the fridge to set for about an hour.

When your guests arrive, heat up some oil in a fry pan & shallow fry the balls to golden perfection before draining on some paper towel & serving with salsa dipping sauce.

Classic Buttercream

Sometimes it’s the simple basic’s that are the often the best.

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Every baker should have a go-to Buttercream recipe that is simple, quick & easy to whip up that tastes as good as it looks!

So this is my TWO ingredient Classic Buttercream.

First beat 250g of room temperature butter (I use Lurpak) until it’s very pale. Then add 2 & 1/4 cups of pure icing sugar (not the mixture stuff!) but add it only 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until it’s nice & fluffy!

Then you can tint it with all sorts of food colours to create anything your wee heart desires.

Cheesecake Pudding

My Cheesecake Pudding is so light, hubby says it has the texture of Mousse!

Bonus is, it’s Gluten Free!

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Let a 250g block of cream cheese (I use good old philly!) go seriously soft before starting.

Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over a packet of lemon jelly crystals. Stir to dissolve then add in the zest & juice of a plump lemon. Set that aside to cool off.

Beat the soft cream cheese until it’s looking like cream. Add in a tin of condensed milk, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste & the jelly mix. Combine all that until it’s thick & creamy.

Then simply pour it into individual serving glasses or ramekins & pop in the fridge to set.

Tanz Tip – I usually use a vegetable peeler to carve off some chocolate curls from the block & pop a cherry on top to serve.

Roast Capsicum & Tomato Soup

A full bodied soup which leaves a tingle on your tongue,

simply perfect on a chilly evening.

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Grab yourself a baking dish & bung in 2 capsicums (deseeded & quartered), 1kg of juicy red tomatoes (quartered also) & 3 garlic cloves (peeled & crushed open with the side of your knife). Drizzle over a wee bit of olive oil & whack in a 200c oven to roast for 40 minutes.

When time is up, simply transfer that lot, including all the luscious juices, into a saucepan & give it a jolly good blitz with Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) until it’s lovely & smooth before seasoning well with salt & white pepper.

Stir through an entire tub (300g) of sour cream, then gently reheat.

Pop in some cooked pasta to oomph it up a wee bit & It’s Chompin Time!

Baked Cinnamon Pears

Are there many things more comforting on a bleak Melbourne day than fabuliciouzly hot Baked Cinnamon Pears?!?!

I think not!

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I wasn’t even aware that Mini Me had any knowledge of this nostalgic classic of the kitchen until she quite suddenly asked me, “Mum, do you know how to make cinnamon pears?”! Now I don’t know who is responsible, but my prime suspect would be Peppa Pig! Anyways, she was absolutely delighted when I replied in the affirmative & whipped up this easy treat for her afternoon tea.

Start by lining a roasting dish with baking paper & set aside.

Peel 4 juicy pears then cut into quarters, removing the core of each. Bung those into the roasting dish before spraying them with some extra virgin olive spray oil.

Combine 1 tablespoon of caster sugar with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, then sprinkle over the pears. Give that lot a jolly good shake up to coat them thoroughly.

Whack into a 180c oven for 20 minutes or until they’re gloriously tender & golden.

A scoop of ice-cream is a nice contrast plopped on top.

Cheese & Bacon Soufflé

Here’s an easy peasy recipe for the kids, and dads, to make this Sunday to WOW mum with more than just burnt toast.

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First, daddy, get that oven cranking to a stonking hot 220c!

Use spray oil to generously grease some pretty ramekins, hint – do this in the sink so that the wee cherubs don’t mess up the entire kitchen! One gratin dish could be substituted as well.

Then, depending on the age & abilities of the kidlets you can divvy up the steps between daddy & offspring as to whatever way floats your boat.

Heat up a glug of oil in a frypan to cook off some diced bacon before plopping into the bottom of the ramekins.

Next, sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese in there too – YUM!

Grab a mixing bowl to whisk together 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons of thickened cream, salt & white pepper until frothy bubbles appear. Hint dads – make sure you have extra eggs as they’re bound to be smashed outside of the bowl 😀

Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekin bowls to just cover the cheese & bacon, they’ll probably be about half full.

Finally, daddy, I shall let you in on the secret trick to get those soufflé’s to rise & shine! Simply run your finger around the edge! Yep, that’s the big technique involved with this show stopper! Wipe your CLEAN finger around the edge of the ramekin from the mixture to the top – this creates a pathway for the soufflé to rise sky high!

Whack that lot in the oven (place them on a baking tray to get them easily in & out) to bake until they’re light & fluffy. Do not open that door! Just keep a watchful wait through the glass – this ain’t perfect on the timing as every dish is different. Plan for about 15 minutes but hey, if they over cook, it’s no drama – simply tell mum you’ve made her quiche & she’ll still be stoked at your culinary prowess.