Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

I spent yesterday in various parts of Melbourne, so there was very little done in the Budget Bounty kitchen. Although I did pop into one company to price containers for some food-based products I’m thinking of selling in the future. Maybe. Perhaps.

Anyway, leftovers were the order of the day when we got home and we were very happy to have those porcupine meatballs to warm up and serve with a quick mashed potato. This is a picture from the night before, when we dished them up onto a bed of sweet potato that we had cooked in the slow cooker.

Porcupine meatballs, cooked in the pressure cooker.

Porcupine meatballs, cooked in the pressure cooker.

Both times they were yummy!

Today I kept myself a little busier. I have been given more lemons, so more lemon butter was made (natch!).

Lemon butter anyone?

Lemon butter, anyone?

I made a double batch, because I wanted to give some away and I wanted to make these. Hidden Treasure Muffins, but made using the lemon butter instead of Dulce de Leche this time. The Boy was keen to take some into the office tomorrow.

I wanted something low fuss for dinner, so I filled my small crock pot with my Lentil and Barley Hot Pot.

That’s smelling luscious and I’m looking forward to tucking in soonish. I also decided to do something with a bag of frozen, over-ripe bananas that are taking up space in my freezer and annoying me.

And don't they look attractive?

And don’t they look attractive?

So I turned them into chocolate ice-cream. The Boy came in as I was finishing and decided it was his duty as The Man of The House to lick the bowl.

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

He declared it to be “good.”

Yes. I will be posting instructions for this very soon. I’m going to have my dinner first though.

See you all soon!

Apple and Oat Bars

Stay calm and eat Apple and Oat Bars...

Last night, The Boy declared – out of the blue – that I should do a muesli (granola) bar recipe. Because school goes back next week or something and this could be useful to people.

I think he just wanted muesli bars.

I also think he could have told me before I did the fortnight’s shopping and could stock up on the expensive stuff that goes into these snacks.

So, I compromised. I’m good at that.

I made these little Apple and Oat Bars from stuff I already had and which – most likely – you already have too. Because that is how we roll in the Budget Bounty kitchen.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

The recipe for these came from one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for my now massive collection. It’s called Good Cooking by the people at Good Housekeeping and was published way back in 1988. Which is why I have changed one of the ingredients from margarine to butter…

It’s a recipe that literally takes only minutes to put together and which you could quite easily do with smaller versions of yourself HELPING.  Ahem.

You will need some butter, some honey, some brown sugar, some rolled oats and an apple or two. Also a bowl, a baking tin and a microwave proof jug and spatula.  Sound complicated?

After setting your oven to 190°C get out a set of scales and your microwave proof jug. Into your jug measure your butter, brown sugar and honey, like so:

Melt these things together.

Melt these things together.

Heat them for 1 minute at a time at 80% power until the butter is melted. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, if you wish.

While it is melting, measure the oats into a medium sized mixing bowl and line a baking tin with parchment. The original recipe called for an 18 cm/7 inch square cake tin.

Pour your now liquid ingredients into the oats and mix well.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Press half this mixture into the base of your tin. Do NOT do what I did and use a silicon tray. You want the oats to crisp up and they just get soggy if you follow my example. Honestly.

Press half your oats into something that isn't silicon and is preferably metal...

Press half your oats into something that isn’t silicon and is preferably metal…

Now get a large cooking apple (around 250 g worth), peel it and slice it thinly.  Arrange the apple slices in overlapping rows to cover the oat base.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Sprinkle your slices with cinnamon. I was cooking for an adult who likes it, so I also used ground ginger on mine.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Top with the rest of the oats, press down firmly and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Cut it into portions while still hot and in the pan. Leave in the tin to cool. You want your butter and honey to set before you try to move anything, or it will all fall apart.

Elevenses, Anyone?

Elevenses, Anyone?

Store in an airtight container somewhere cool. Wrap in cling film and send as part of a school lunch, serve as an after school snack or use to accompany a much deserved cuppa.

Easy. Affordable. Tasty.

Apple and Oat Bars

  • Servings: 12 -15
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

100 g/4 oz butter

60 g/2½ oz brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

225 g/8 oz rolled oats

1 large cooking apple (250 g/9 oz) peeled, cored and thinly sliced

ground cinnamon.

Method

Heat oven to 190°C/ 375°F.

Lightly grease or line an 18 cm/ 7 inch square shallow baking tin.

In a microwave proof jug or bowl, combine the first three ingredients and heat at 80% power for 1 minute intervals until melted. Stir together. This may be done in a small saucepan on the stove top if wished.

Measure the oats into a medium-sized bowl. Pour liquid ingredients over the oats and mix well.

Divide the mixture in two and press half into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange the sliced apple over the top of the oats in overlapping rows.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Top with the remaining oats and press down gently.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Cut into slices while still hot and then leave in the tin until cool.

Variations:

  • For a gluten-free version, substitute a gluten free muesli or granola mix for the rolled oats.
  • Try using different spices for variety. A Pumpkin Pie spice mix might be just the thing for you.
  • Sprinkle a handful of sultanas over with the cinnamon.
  • Add a scattering of choc chips over the apple for a special treat.

 

Home-made Instant Hot Chocolate mix.

Spiced hot chocolate for a wintry afternoon.

It’s winter here and I’m sick.

These two things may or may not be related. Either way, it’s the time of the year when a warm drink or two is more than welcome.

The Boy is quite partial to those hot drink mixes that come in individual sachets. However, we’re saving for a house. That means luxuries are something to look forward to in the deep, distant future.

He looks cute when he mopes.

Actually, these milky mixes aren’t all that difficult to make. Better yet, you know exactly what you are putting in your family’s tummies and saving money while you do so. I wish I’d known how to make this when I was a freezing student, quite frankly…

Let’s deal with packet mix ingredients first. I copied this little snippet from the website of a leading hot chocolate mix-maker.

Ingredients

Sugar, Milk Solids, Beverage Whitener [Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat, Sodium Caseinate (Derived from milk),  Mineral Salts (340, 452), Emulsifier (471), Anticaking Agent (554)], Cocoa (10%), Salt, Mineral Salt (341), Flavour [Vanillin (contains milk)], Spice.

Can you see all that sodium in there?

Even the Anti-Caking agent (554) is a form of sodium. I can only presume that using all this salt will make people thirstier and therefore cause them to drink more…

Also, a lot of these additives are synthetic. Eat real food, people. Here’s a start.

At its most basic level, this stuff is a mix of milk powder, cocoa and sugar.

I used skim milk powder, because a lot of it will be drunk (by one person who isn’t doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff in this chill…). You may use full-fat should you so desire.

I like to make my hot chocolate with a few spices. I add cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground ginger and a touch of nutmeg. You don’t have to add any – or all – of those. On the other hand if you like, and own, a pumpkin pie spice mix, then add a few teaspoonfuls of that. Make it your own.

Start with a bowl with at least a 4 cup capacity. You want something you can sift your dry ingredients into, and then stir them up, without it going all over the place!

Place a sturdy wire sifter into the top and add your ingredients. Try to wait until they are all in there before you sift them through, this will assist with getting them all well-mixed.

Start with 2¼ cups of milk powder.

Milk powder

Milk powder.

Next add your spices; about 1½ teaspoons worth.

Add whatever combination of spices you like. Or don't.

Add whatever combination of spices you like. Or not.

Next a touch of sugar.

Sugar. Actual sugar. Not salt.

Sugar. Actual sugar. Not salt.

And finally, the cocoa. This can be whatever type of cocoa you like: Cadbury, Dutch process, or whiz-bang, ultra-organic cacao. Whatever.

The chocolate part of Hot Chocolate.

The chocolate part of Hot Chocolate.

Now, sift it all together, stirring with a spoon to help the mixing process.

Mmmm, chocolate....

Mmmm, chocolate….

When you’ve finished, it will look a little like this. Mix it up a bit more. You can’t break it.

Mix it some more.

Mix it some more.

When it looks like this, pop it into an airtight container until you are ready to use it.

The end result.

The end result.

I used some mason jars, because that’s what I had handy.

Isn't it purdy?

Isn’t it purdy?

Give it a good shake once it’s all sealed up tight. Then, place a few tablespoonfuls into a mug, add boiling water and stir well.

Relax. The hard work is over now.

Relax. The hard work is over now.

Play with the recipe, adding different combinations of spices or more or less sugar. Then put your feet up and enjoy warm hands and a sense of deep satisfaction with your hot chocolate…

Spiced hot chocolate mix

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2¼ cups milk powder

1/3 cup cocoa powder

½ cup sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cardamom

Method

Sift all ingredients together and mix well.

Store in an airtight container.

To serve: Add boiling water to 3 tablespoons of the mix.

Best used within 6 months.

Basics – Pancakes (Drop Scones)

I heart pancakes...

Pancakes are one of those things that always seem special, no matter how they are served.

They really aren’t all that difficult to make, but may require some time on your feet and rather a lot of patience while you get your pan sorted out.

Learn how to make these and then learn to ring the changes and make a savoury version with fritters or a simple variation with sliced apple.

I heart pancakes...

I heart pancakes…

They can be made in adult-sized meal servings or as many ‘baby’ pancakes.

In Australia these baby pancakes are usually served cold and known as pikelets or even drop-scones. As a Queenslander by birth, I grew up calling them pikelets and taking them to school spread with butter and Vegemite. When my family moved to Victoria I discovered them dubbed drop-scones and served with jam and whipped cream

I must confess, I don’t make pancakes very often. They are one of those dishes that starts out a treat but can readily become too much of a good thing as your stomach starts to feel overwhelmingly full…

I’ve also had a lot of frustration with the glass cook top at my new home and had decided that they were just not going to be a thing while we live here. Then, on advice, I bought myself a little butane-powered camp stove and could suddenly fry at a reliable temperature again.

In the meantime there were many tears over many, many failed dishes.

Chocolate was eaten.

Hugs were required.

It doesn’t need to be hard though. If you have a reliable heat source and a good frying pan or skillet, you should be fine. Really truly.

Also, don’t worry about the whole flipping thing. These are pancakes and not crêpes, use a fish slice or spatula and relax.

I’ve made these so many times now that I don’t need a recipe anymore and simply mix everything together in a large Pyrex jug. You, too, can get to that level of confidence following the recipe at the bottom of this post. 😉

Print it off, laminate it and pin it to your fridge. Someone may see it and decide to spoil you with them for a special occasion some time. Ahem.

So, let’s begin.

Sift together your SR Flour, a pinch of salt and some sugar. Feel free to add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, but don’t feel obliged.

Sift your dry ingredients together.

Sift your dry ingredients together.

Mix together your egg and milk. You might also try using buttermilk or a mix of half yoghurt and half milk. These last two will give your batter an extra lightness.

Mix in your wet ingredients.

Mix in your wet ingredients.

Melt some butter into a hot frypan, adding a dash of oil. The oil will stop the butter from burning.

You can use oil instead, if you wish, but I find butter gives a better result.

I confess to also having a can of spray oil on hand with which to lightly coat the upper surface of the pancakes before I turn them.

Cooking them solely in spray oil is not something I would recommend. Your pan will be on the heat for a longish time and this will change the flavour and scent of the spray oil. You have been warned.

melt your frying fat.

Melt your frying fat.

When your butter starts to foam, as pictured, add dollops of batter. If you want pikelets use a dessertspoon to measure it out, if you want pancakes use a ladle.

Dollop your batter into the pan.

Dollop your batter into the pan.

Once in the pan, leave it alone. Make sure the heat is not too high or you will end up with a burned pancake. Everyone burns their first pancake. Really.

First pancake = burnt offering to the breakfast gods.

First pancake = burnt offering to the breakfast gods.

The pancake is ready to turn once small bubbles start to appear on the uppermost surface.

Bubbles will form in the batter.

Bubbles will form in the batter.

As mentioned before you may wish to give them a misting with spray oil, then flip them over. Leave for about three minutes and then remove to paper towel to drain. This won’t take long, basically you just want to absorb any cooking fat sitting on the surface to stop your pancakes from being greasy.

Drain on paper towel.

Drain on paper towel.

Serve immediately or store in one of those wonderful tortilla warmers I’ve spoken of before.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar, douse with maple syrup or spread with your preferred preserves. This is yet another place to use your home-made lemon curd or dulce de leche as well.

This is a recipe that can be added to in many ways. You can try the savoury option and go for fritters (and tidy up the bits and bobs littering your fridge), or you can explore the sweet side of things.

Try adding a few choc chips if you have them, or mixing through dried fruits like sultanas or craisins.  Add these things to the dry ingredients, after sifting and before the milk and egg.

Fresh berries are fabulous additions when in season, but frozen work just as well when their seasons have passed. Again, stir into the flour before adding the liquid.

Try adding some fresh lemon or orange zest to all of the above suggestions and feel like a chef for a bit…

You may have noticed that last photo has a heart-shaped version and one with sliced apple. They’re both going to have their own posts, so stay tuned.

Pancakes

 Ingredients

1¼ cups self-raising flour (156g)

¼ tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

1 egg

¾ – 1 cup milk or buttermilk

butter or oil for frying

Method

Sift flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.

In a jug mix together the egg and most of the milk. Pour into the dry ingredients and beat together with a wooden spoon. Add remainder of milk if necessary. You are aiming for a thick batter.

The batter will also thicken upon standing.

Heat your frying pan and add butter to grease. To prevent the butter burning, add a touch of oil.

When your butter is melted drop dessertspoonsfull of mixture onto the hot pan – for drop scones or pikelets – or ¼ cup amounts for full pancakes. Try using a small ladle for measuring the batter into the pan.

When bubbles appear on the upper surface of your batter turn to cook the other side. This will take approximately 3 mins.

Remove from the pan onto paper towels to absorb any excess oil on the surface. Keep warm, or serve immediately.

May be served cooled with whipped cream and strawberry jam as a Devonshire Tea.

Fritters

Fritters are one of those magical things where you create a substantial meal from next to nothing.

Flour, eggs, milk and those odds and sods cluttering up your fridge + a little time = happy tummies.

My mother introduced me to the art of the fritter.

When I was a kid, they were something that popped up on the school holiday or weekend lunch menu on a regular basis – especially during the long, rainy days that were the wet season in Far North Queensland (otherwise known as the Christmas Holidays).

Frightfully frugal fritters

Frightfully frugal fritters

Easy, frugal and tasty they could be a part of your life too.

You could even put your older kids to work making them during those long, wet-season holiday breaks.

Picture a pancake. Your nice, thick fluffy pancake, not a crêpe. Then add in some of the bits and pieces. Fry. Add a dollop of your condiment of choice and Robert is your Mother’s brother.

In our home, fritters inevitably contained either corned beef or hot dogs. In your home, they can contain whatever you want. Think rustic. Chunky pieces of whatever you have to hand.

We had some leftover corned beef, so fritters came to mind due to my childhood association of the two.

In our home it was always referred to as Cane-Cutters’ Ham, because my brother and I didn’t like corned beef….ahem.

Moving on..

So, to a basic pancake batter was added a handful of tasty cheese,

Add a handful of cheese

Add a handful of cheese

a handful of diced corned beef,

Diced corned beef

Diced corned beef

Add diced corned beef

Add diced corned beef

a small can of corn

Add some frozen corn

Add some corn

and some frozen peas.

Add frozen peas

Add frozen peas

Then an egg was mixed into a jug full of buttermilk,

Whisk an egg into your liquid of choice

Whisk an egg into your liquid of choice

and it was all mixed together to form a stiff batter.

The final batter

The final batter

So what to do with what could be considered a rather intimidating-looking mix?

Introduce it in dollops of a tablespoon or so in size to a hot frying pan or skillet. Use the spoon to spread them a little, but don’t fuss too much.

Start with smallish amounts until you are sure of the temperature of your pan. If the mixture sits there and no sizzling can be heard, then your pan is too cold. If it starts to smoke and you smell burning, then it’s too hot and you may as well dispose of that particular dollop.

Add small dollops to the  hot, oiled pan

Add small dollops to the hot, oiled pan

Don’t touch them until they are ready to be turned/flipped. If you try to move them before they are ready, you’ll end up with a mess in your pan and possibly in tears.

I speak from experience.

Let them gently fry until small holes start to appear in the upper surface of the batter. Like this…

Small bubbles will appear when it's time to flip them

Small bubbles will appear when it’s time to flip them

If you possess an oil spray, you may wish to gently mist the upper surface of the fritter before you flip it. 😉

Using an egg flip/fish slice turn the fritters over and press gently on the top to flatten them a little more.

Flipped fritters

Flipped fritters

If you expose rather a large amount of uncooked batter when you press down, then don’t panic. Simply gently slide your fritter over to the edge of the fry pan with your egg slice, and hold the raw underside against the curved wall to cook it.

Push the fritters gently against the wall of the frying pan

Push the fritters gently against the wall of the frying pan

When the fritter is cooked through, you can either serve them immediately to the hungry hordes that will have gathered as the aroma of frying fritters grew (hyperbole? meh), place them on a paper-towel lined plate in a warm oven, or stow them in a tortilla warmer until they are all done.

I have a tortilla warmer I bought in Walmart for about $3 during my Texan sojourn and it’s brilliant. They now pop up in Aldi’s once or twice a year in Australia and I heartily recommend them.

Tortilla warmer

Tortilla warmer

2014-09-17 14.11.45

Fritters, still warm and ready to serve

Fritters, still warm and ready to serve

Eat with your fingers and serve with a dipping sauce of some kind: ketchup, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce, whatever.

These are also great cold as a packed lunch/snack for school or long trips. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.

Enjoy!

Fritters

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1½ cups self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Seasoning of your choice: pepper, chilli flakes, mixed herbs, mustard powder etc or nothing at all.

1 egg

¾ -1 cup milk (Buttermilk or Natural or Greek yoghurt can also be used for a lighter fluffier batter)

Your choice of meat: leftover roast meat, rotisserie chicken, hot dogs (try continental frankfurters for a treat), bacon, spam or even hard tofu and vegetables: peas, corn, onions, capsicums (peppers) mushrooms, grated carrots, celery,  zucchini etc., cut into small dice. Three options should be sufficient, aim for a handful of each.

grated cheese, if desired.

oil for the pan

Method:

Sift flour, sugar and salt into a medium-sized bowl.

If you wish to add herbs or spices, do so now.

Stir in your cheese, meat and veges individually. You will want each piece added to be coated in flour so that they will stick to the mixture.

In another bowl or jug measure your milk, starting with the smaller amount. Add the egg and beat well with a fork.

Make a well in your dry ingredients and add the liquid.

Mix together with a wooden spoon or wide spatula until all ingredients are combined. Add more milk if necessary.

This will form a firm batter.

Heat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat, oiling lightly.

Add batter to pan in spoonfuls, turn only when small holes or bubbles appear in the surface.

Cook for approximately 3 more minutes.

Serve with a sauce of your choice.