Tuesday, 28 January 2014

How to decorate a fairy cake

I decorated this cake for my daughters 5th birthday and it was a real hit with her and all her friends.  It is quite easy to do and only took approx 1.5hrs to decorate. Here is a step by step list to follow if you want to try & recreate this cake for your child.

I didn't make the cake as I don't have a tin or oven large enough and the thought of baking 4 cakes to join together didn't really appeal to me.  So I ordered a half slab chocolate sponge cake from the Woolworths bakery (cost $19) which saved me a lot of time in the kitchen.

What you need:

  • 1/2 slab cake (un-iced) $19.95
  • 3 cupcakes
  • butter cream frosting (400g butter, 8 cups icing sugar, 2 Tbspn vanilla, 5 Tbspn thickened cream)
  • 2 x flake bars
  • lollies to decorate
  • green & blue food colouring
  • cocoa
  • small fairy figurines
  • licorice strap

Step 1.  Make the butter cream frosting (or any other icing of choice).  

I made quite a lot of frosting as I didn't want to run out and have to make another batch.  I used 400g butter, 8 cups icing sugar, 2 Tbspn vanilla, 5 Tbspn thickened cream.   Beat butter for 3 mins until light & creamy.  Add sifted icing sugar & vanilla.  Beat thoroughly.  Add cream & beat until smooth & glossy.

Transfer some butter frosting in a large bowl & tint with green food colouring. Reserve some frosting (uncoloured) for the stream & hut. Cover the entire cake (top & sides) with the green icing.

Step 2 - Fairy hut

Use some of the uncoloured frosting and stir in some sifted cocoa to make it brown in colour.  Using 2 cupcakes, cover them in the chocolate icing. Break up some flake chocolate bars and place on the roof of the hut. Decorate the hut with lollies. Place it on the cake.

Step 3 - Stream

Using the spare cupcake, cover it with chocolate icing which will be the top of the stream. Place it on the cake.  Colour some of the butter cream with blue frosting.  Using a knife, place the icing onto the cake to make it look like a stream running down from the top of the cupcake.  If you have any white icing left over, swirl a little through the stream to make it look like white water.


Step 4 - Garden

Make a fairy garden with the lollies you have.  I stacked them on top of each other with toothpicks to give a 3D effect.

Step 4 - Finish the decorating

Using your lollies of choice, decorate the cake. I used some spare flake bar and placed it around the stream, placed freckles on the path and around the cake etc.  I also used some licorice strap to make a bridge over the stream.  Fairy figurines are a great addition to this cake also.

And there you go, cake is decorated!

For great kids party ideas, check out my eBook 'Kids Party Food'.  Only $5.95 and available from www.foodbefore5.com.au

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Rolled meatloaf with ham, cheese & spinach

This recipe has been one of the most popular ones with readers so far and also one of my favourite.  It is a meatloaf (& I don't usually like meatloaf) that tastes like spaghetti & meatballs!

Rolled meatloaf with ham, cheese & spinach
  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbspn fresh/dried parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 100g ham
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 500g bottled pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
Step 1
Place a large sheet of aluminium foil on the bench. In a large bowl, combine mince, garlic, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. Mix with hands until well combined.

Step 2
Tip mince onto foil & shape into a large rectangle, approx 1.5cm thick.  Spread the ham, cheese & spinach over the rectangle, leaving 2cm around the edge with no topping.

Step 3
Take the long edge of the foil, tightly roll the meatloaf away from you, tucking in cheese & spinach as you go.  Pull back the foil as you roll.  Seal the ends of the mince so the filling doesn't leak out.

Step 4
Wrap the entire loaf in foil & refrigerate until required.


Step 5
Preheat oven to 180 degrees c. Place the loaf (wrapped in foil) into a large baking dish.  Bake, covered in foil for 1 hr, then open the foil and pour approx 1/2 of the pasta sauce over the meatloaf.  Add 1/2 cup water to the bottle of sauce, shake to mix with remining sauce in bottle.  Pour this over meatloaf also.  Bake, uncovered for a further 15 mins.

Tips: Substitute ham, cheese & spinach for your favourite ingredients.  Try semi-dried tomatoes, bacon or whole boiled eggs. 

Storage: in fridge, covered or in airtight container for up to 3 days.

This recipe & more can be found in 'Food before 5'.  Purchase for only $19.95 from www.foodbefore5.com.au

Monday, 6 January 2014

Chicken Pasta Bake

This is one of my favourite meals from my cookbook 'Food before 5'.  Yes, it uses a bit of cream but it is worth it - it tastes great!!

Chicken Pasta Bake
  • 400g dried pasta
  • 500g chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced
  • 100g bacon pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 600ml cream
  • 3 Tbspn tomato paste
  • 150g semi-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cps grated cheese
  • salt & pepper
Step 1
In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to packet directions.

Step 2
While pasta is cooking, fry chicken, bacon & garlic in a frypan over high heat until chicken is just cooked through.

Step 3
Drain pasta & return to saucepan.

Step 4
In a jug, add tomato paste & cream together.  Stir to combine.  Add this to the pasta along with the chicken & bacon mixture, spinach, semi-dried tomatoes & 1 cup grated cheese.  Toss until combined.  Season with salt & pepper.

Step 5
Pour mixture into a large baking dish & top with remaining 1 cup cheese.  Cover & refrigerate until required.


Step 6
Preheat oven to 200 degrees c. Cook, covered for 30 mins.  Uncover & cook for a further 10 mins.  If cooking immediately after preparing, reduce cooking time to 20 mins covered, with a further 10 mins uncovered.

Tips: Add any vegetables of choice.  Kalamata olives are also a great addition.

Storage: in fridge, covered or in airtight container for up to 3 days.

This recipe & more can be found in 'Food before 5'.  Purchase for only $19.95 from www.foodbefore5.com.au

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Baked spring rolls

I love eating spring rolls but the frying factor turns me off.  I'll happily eat them if someone else has made them but when I make my own, I can't be bothered deep frying them!  This is a healthy alternative and taste just as good.

This recipe & more are featured in my cookbook 'Food before 5 - simple, affordable, make ahead meals for busy lifestyles'.  Purchase for $19.95 from www.foodbefore5.com.au

  • spray oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 200g pork mince (or chicken mince)
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbspn soy sauce
  • 1 Tbspn oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbspn water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 13 spring roll wrappers
  • sweet chilli sauce for dipping

1. Remove spring roll wrappers from freezer 30 mins prior to starting.  Leave them in packet until you are ready to use them.

2. Finely grate carrot & celery & set aside.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove stringy edge of celery before grating.

3. Spray a large frypan with oil.  Over high heat, fry garlic, ginger & mince until brown.

4.  Add celery, carrot & cabbage.  Fry for a few mins.  Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, water & sugar.  Break noodles & add them to mixture.  Cook for 3 - 5 mins or until noodles are soft.  Let mixture cool slightly. 

5.  Take spring roll sheet & place 2 spoons of mixture onto the lower part of the pastry.  Fold bottom edge up, the right & left sides over & then roll up to form a cigar shape. 

6.  Line a large oven try with baking paper.   Place spring rolls onto tray, cover with foil & refrigerate until required.  

7.  Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius.  Uncover spring rolls, lightly spray the spring rolls with oil & bake for 15 mins or until golden.  Serve with dipping sauce.


Baked - in fridge, covered for up to 2 days.  Reheat in oven for a crispy pastry.  
Baked - in freezer for up to 2 months.
Unbaked - in freezer for up to 2 months.