Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Hello my lovelies, I come bearing more temptation.

Because that’s how I roll.

Today’s offering is a nice, simple cookie (that is, soft on the inside) that also doubles as a nice hit of fibre. You can do your digestion some good while making your taste buds do the happy dance.

The Double Chocolate referred to is a charming combination of Cocoa (antioxidants!) and Choc chips – the oatmeal (for my Aussie readers) is rolled oats. Really, it’s practically a health food and should be considered suitable for breakfast…

Let us begin.

Get your butter out of the fridge to soften and preheat your oven to 180°C/ 350°F. If you have a stand mixer, fit the paddle attachment and make yourself a cuppa until the butter is softened. You may also wish to pummel a block of dark cooking chocolate should you not wish to use choc chips – like I did.

Cream together the butter and sugars for about 4 minutes. I must confess that, when making this batch, I left out the brown sugar completely as I became distracted by something.

They still turned out beautifully, just not as sweet. Health food, dontchaknow?

After you’ve reached the soft and fluffy consistency, add a dash of vanilla extract and two whole eggs. Beat until thoroughly combined.

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Flour and cocoa for sifting.

At this point most of the dry ingredients can be combined and sifted into a bowl.

Flour and cocoa sifted.

Flour and cocoa sifted.

Add this to the mixing bowl and stir until just combined. Then add the rolled oats and repeat.

Oats are healthy.

Oats are healthy.

Stir those in and add the chocolate pieces. I prefer to use bits from a smashed up block of cooking chocolate, because it gives a different texture to the finished product. You’ll end up with pools of chocolate that blend nicely into the mix. Choc chips are designed to retain their structural integrity and remain recognisable after baking.

You can use whichever method you like. They’re your cookies.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Health food.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Health food.

Then, drop rounded spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 mins.

Use an ice cream scoop to save on arguments

Use an ice cream scoop to save on arguments.

Leave them to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes before you attempt to move them to a cooling rack. It will save on tears.

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 48
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

70 g softened, unsalted butter

½ cup white sugar

1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1½ cups plain flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 cups rolled oats (not quick or minute oats)

1 cup dark chocolate chips.

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C/375°F.

Using an electric mixer and a paddle attachment if possible, cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. This will take about 4 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Sieve into your butter mixture and blend until just combined.

Stir in the oats.

Stir in the choc chips.

Drop in rounded tablespoons onto a lined baking sheet. Do not flatten.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until set. Cooked cookies will be soft to the touch.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

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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
  • Print

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.

 

Porridge (microwave)

All you need for porridge

Well, I’m back.

I’ve had a number of technological nightmares with the latest being a computer that doesn’t know what to do with .exe files. If you don’t know about computers, then suffice it to say that that’s BAD. If you speak Geek, then you know just how bad it is. And exhausting.

So, to ease myself back into this blogging thingo, and to help ease any withdrawal symptoms you may have been having (Nawww!), I’m going to give you something that is about as simple as it gets.

Porridge. Microwaved porridge to be more specific.

Now I know it’s starting to warm up here in the antipodes, but some of the mornings have enough of a chill about them to still warrant a heartier, tummy-warming breakfast. In the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn has started and nothing more needs to be said.

So I’ll write a bit instead.

During the $30 Challenge, Porridge formed our staple breakfast. It’s quick, inexpensive, nutritious, fibre-laden and filling.

Many years ago, Uncle Toby’s made boxes of porridge with little sachets of different flavoured porridges. My favourite in the box was the apricot and wheat one – then they discontinued it. They kept making the product, but not with that flavour. So I thought I’d make my own.

It was then that I realised just how much more I had been paying for a tiny bit of convenience. Really, with a little planning, it is much better to make your own.

Get yourself a packet of Rolled Oats. Not Minute Oats, but Traditional Rolled Oats.

Then buy some dried fruit. This could be whatever you like; I started with diced, dried apricots and then Craisins came on the market so I used those too. You could use sultanas, dried apples, dried cherries, acai or goji berries if you have a hipster bent… It’s your meal, experiment, find your bliss.

You’ll also need liquid of some kind, be it cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk or even water if you prefer.

All you need for porridge

All you need for porridge

I bought myself a couple of hinged lunch boxes, like the one in the photo above, and keep my oats in one and my fruit in the other. The hinged lids saved a lot of fumbling in my sleep-addled work day mornings. They aren’t strictly necessary, but they make life more comfortable.

A small scoop lives in the oat box. The one pictured was a Tupperware party favour many years ago but, for something around the same size, try saving (and washing thoroughly) the little scoop you get in boxes of laundry powder. I use two scoops per serve.

Another very useful thing is a microwaveable soup cup. The one you see in the pic is Tupperware. But you can buy much cheaper versions in any supermarket. I like these as they lend themselves to running around the house like a mad thing getting ready for work and still being able to eat breakfast before you leave…

Or make your porridge in a microwaveable bowl covered with a splash screen of some kind. You could use a piece of paper towel, but clear, plastic, reuseable ones can be bought for a dollar or so in most variety stores and supermarkets and will save you money in the long run.

So here goes. Pay attention, or you’ll miss something important.

Like breakfast.

First, place your oats into your mug/bowl/whatever. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup.

1/2 to 1/3 cup of rolled oats.

1/2 to 1/3 cup of rolled oats.

Then add whatever dried fruit you like. This is purely optional, but it does add colour, texture, flavour and sweetness – and makes it yours. You only need a pinch or so, not a huge amount. This photo shows the entire amount of fruit added.

Add a few pieces of dried fruit

Add a few pieces of dried fruit

Add just enough liquid to cover the oats, stir, cover the dish and microwave at 80% power for one minute.

Add your milk, stir, cover and nuke.

Add your milk, stir, cover and nuke.

Remove from the oven, stir, add a little more milk and repeat the 80% power for one minute stage.

Done.

If your oats boil over – and this is a definite possibility – try again with either a lower power setting or shorter time. Don’t skip adding the second bit of liquid as it will help to reduce the temperature and the risk of porridge volcanoes.

The same oats, now cooked

The same oats, now cooked

The oats will continue to absorb liquid and become creamier on standing.

I used to make my oats and morning cup of tea, then shower. By the time I’d done that, both had cooled sufficiently to consume.

Feel free to add more liquid, stirring well, and some sweetener of your choice; honey, golden syrup or maple syrup work well, as does sugar of any kind – just don’t overdo it.

After you’ve finished, I would suggest filling your container with water before you rush out the door. It will be much, MUCH easier to wash when you get home in the evening.  Trust me.

If you wish to up the fibre content for any reason and you can afford it, try adding a tablespoon or so of chia to the mix. It will absorb a lot more liquid though, so be sure to compensate.

You could also just pop all the dry ingredients into your sealed soup mug and cook them up in the office if you are really pressed for time. Just remember to bring your mug home for tomorrow’s fast breaker!

So there it is.

Better yet, the amount of money that will buy you a box of sachets for 8 meals, will buy you the ingredients for several more weeks worth of home-compiled breakfasts that you can tailor to your preferences. And give you oats and dried fruit for other goodies like Anzac Biscuits and Apple Crumble.

Day 4

Okay. We’ve survived this far into influenza land and I’m growing sick of the basket of challenge goods on my counter tops, so let’s get going again.

Today we et:

Breakfast:                 Porridge

Lunch:                        Pressure cooker soup

Afternoon tea:        Chai and Anzac Biscuits

Dinner:                      Almost genuine Fried Rice

Dessert:                    The Boy had Apple Crumble

Two bowls of fried rice

Almost Genuine Fried Rice

Apple Crumble

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

It’s cold here.

Technically, we’ve just hit the first day of Spring. It’s still cold though. And wet. And grey. And generally miserable.

A wet footpath

Gray Day

Weather like this demands something along the line of comfort food, and this pretty much ticks that box – along with the boxes for affordability, ease of preparation, wholesome ingredients and the ability to double as breakfast should it ever be necessary.

Let us pray that it is necessary…and often.

While I am all for foods that are prepared from scratch, I don’t think that this is one that has to be – in the strictest sense of the term. Because, sure, you could buy some apples and peel and cook them and then go on and make the crumble topping and bake it – and more power to you if you do.

However, I like to do one of these pretty much every week during the bleaker autumn/winter days and even don’t have the dedication to this that would require the peeling of so many apples. I don’t peel things unless it is absolutely necessary. Ever.

So, I use tinned pie apples. They’re readily available, rarely cost much more than the unpeeled ingredients and when the contents of the can are listed as ‘100% sliced apples’ then there is very little to complain about.

Pie Apple tin label saying it contains 100% apples

100% apples

Open a can, empty contents into baking dish, top with crumble, cook, serve.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

Fab.

However – and there had to be one of those, donchaknow – this is not a low sugar ingredient. Neither is it a low GI one. This dish will affect your blood glucose levels and possibly in ways you had never even considered. Go easy on the serving sizes; make it in a long, shallow dish so that the ratio of oat-filled topping to apple sub-strata is higher. Your insulin levels will be steadier and your children (and significant others) will be less likely to have that sugar high we all dread.

Serve it hot or cold with ice-cream or Greek yoghurt, try it with custard, eat it on its own….

Apple Crumble

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 x 800g tin Pie Apples

1 cup flour

125 g butter

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup coconut

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Method:

Heat oven to 180°C/ 375°F.

Place apples in a shallow glass baking dish.

Put all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Melt butter in the microwave. Add to dry ingredients and mix through until well combined and crumbly.

Scatter over the top of the fruit and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

 

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

Variations:

Try adding slivered almonds or chunks of Macadamia nuts to the crumble topping.

Try also, scattering dried fruit like sultanas or craisins among the apple, diced dried apricot can be an absolute hit used like this.

For a sweeter variation, add some dark choc chips/milk choc chips/caramel choc chips to the apple mixture or just scatter them over the top of it before adding the crumble mix.

I wouldn’t advise putting them in the crumble itself to avoid scorching them in the oven.

You can, of course just add chunks of whatever chocolate you prefer, it doesn’t have to be in chip form!

Eat slowly, with a small spoon for maximum savourousity*.

(*Actual word that I just made up.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits are pretty much a part of every Australian child’s culinary vocabulary. We’ve all had them and we’ve pretty much all made them.

Some are woeful, some are good and some are extraordinary. It really just depends on the cook and the preference of the muncher.

These biscuits are so-called because they were sent to the ANZACs in their Turkish trenches nearly a century ago. As such, they were needed to last during long storage on sea voyages and in less than optimal food storage conditions in the war zone.

A tin full of freshly baked Anzac Biscuits

A treasure trove of Anzac Biscuits

This meant they were often rock hard. My brother famously christened my mother’s as “Bathroom Floor Biscuits” because he said they needed to be smashed on the tiles in order to eat them!

(He wasn’t wrong.)

Thankfully things have changed. We no longer bake the life out of them for a start.

This is the recipe that I use for Anzac biscuits, it came originally from The Australian Womens Weekly’s The Basic Cookbook and I’ve been using it for over 20 years. It works.

Make them with your kids today.

Just remember that these are biscuits and not cookies. They will be crunchy all the way through, and not chewy in the middle.

If you don’t have, or can’t get, Golden Syrup (you poor, poor thing!) you can substitute honey or corn syrup at a pinch…

A bowl of Anzac Biscuit mix before it's divided into biscuits

Anzac Biscuits in the bowl

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats (not minute oats)

1 cup plain flour

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

½ cup desiccated/shredded coconut

125 g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Method:

Heat oven to 160°C/325°F (Moderately slow.)

Lightly grease or line several baking trays.

Combine oats, sifted flour and sugar together in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, golden syrup and water and stir over low heat until butter is melted. (This step may be done in a microwave oven.)

Stir in soda.

Add mixture to dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Place rounded teaspoonfuls of mixture onto trays 5 cm or two inches apart. These biscuits will spread!

Bake for about 20 mins or until biscuits feel slightly firm.

Cool on trays.

Anzac Biscuits cooling on a rack after baking

Try not to eat them all at once

Also, don’t panic if your biscuits lose bits as you transfer them from the trays. Save all these little crumbs of oaty, golden-syrupy goodness and store in an air tight container. They are excellent scattered over plain Greek yoghurt or ice-cream. Trust me on this.

Some years ago Heidi Swanson did a piece on Anzac “Cookies” on her fabulous site 101 Cookbooks, where she talked about them being a type of flapjack. Unfortunately, the post appears to have been reworked and this info has gone. However, she has posted a variation using the addition of orange zest and orange blossom water which looks almost worth forgiving her for calling them cookies…

Let me know how you go with this fine old Aussie tradition, or if your family does a different version. My grandmother always added ground ginger to hers…

Enjoy!

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