Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Footy finals week

It footy finals week and WOO HOO - our team has made it into the grand final again!!  We are a very excited family and can't wait until Saturday when the mighty Hawks take on the Sydney Swans. Hawthorn are the AFL team that wear brown and gold for all you out there who have no idea what I am talking about.  This is our family pic from last year (we are missing my step son but perhaps the man in the green shirt can be a stand in).

Here are a few recipe ideas for the grand final weekends coming up and even if you aren't a footy fan, just cook them anyway!!

Gingerbread footy biscuits

These are fun to make and fun to eat.  I especially love decorating them in my favourite footy colours but you can get the kids to do this job.  The only thing is that they may not look like footy guernsey at the end of it... 
  • 125g butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar 
  • ½ cup golden or maple syrup
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 Tbspn ground ginger
  • 1  tsp mixed spice
  • 1  tsp bicarbonate of soda

Step 1 - In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar until light & fluffy.  Add golden/maple syrup & egg yolk & beat until combined. 

Step 2 - Sift in flour, ginger, spice & bicarb of soda. Stir until combined.  Bring together with your hands & knead on a lightly floured surface until firm. 

Step 3 - Flatten dough, cover with plastic wrap & freeze for 20 mins or refrigerate until needed.

Step 4 - When you are ready to use dough, preheat oven to 180oC & line 2 oven trays with 
baking paper.  On a heavily floured surface, roll to 4mm thick. Cut out footy players using gingerbread men cookie cutters and cut out little footies with a knife. Place onto lined oven trays.  

Step 5 - Bake for 10 mins or until golden. Remove from oven & transfer to wire rack to cool.

Step 6 - Decorate with icing, sprinkles, licorice etc to suit your footy team. 

Layered dip

Put this on your shopping list to make this weekend and I promise you'll LOVE IT! I have been making it for years now and is definitely a family favourite  
  • 250g spreadable cream cheese
  • 300g jar salsa
  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/4 small red onion, very finely diced
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • corn chips, rice crackers or baked pitta bread to serve
Step 1   Spread the base of a deep dish with cream cheese.

Step 2   Top with salsa & spread to cover cream cheese.

Step 3   Top with finely diced tomato & red onion.

Step 4   Add a layer of avocado pieces.

Step 5   Sprinkle with grated cheese as a top layer.

Serve with corn chips and watch it disappear!!

Hawaiian kebabs

Oh man... I love these, burnt bits and all!  They are a great addition to any BBQ and can be made ahead of time so you can sit back & enjoy the footy & the company of your family & friends.

  • Chicken breast, diced
  • Bacon 
  • Fresh pineapple, diced
Thread pieces of chicken breast, bacon & fresh pineapple onto skewers and grill on the BBQ until cooked through. Ensure all pieces of chicken are roughly the same size to ensure they are all cooked at the same time.

Tips: use good quality bacon (cheap bacon tends to fall off the skewer) & soak wooden skewers in water for 5 mins before threading.

Beef & vegetable pasties

I love these pasties and am thinking about making mini versions of them this weekend. They certainly beat the frozen variety and you can even turn them into mini pies by using a muffin pan. 

  • 1 Tbspn oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 Tbspn cornflour
  • ¾  cup beef stock
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • pinch salt
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
Step 1 - Line 2 large oven trays with baking paper.

Step 2 - Heat oil in a frypan over medium to high heat. Add onion & cook until soft. Add mince & cook for 3 mins.  Break up lumps with the end of a whisk if required.  Add vegetables & cook for an additional 2 mins.

Step 3 - Mix cornflour & 1 Tbspn of beef stock to make a paste.  Add cornflour paste, stock, sauces & salt to the mince mixture.  Bring to boil & reduce to a simmer for 5 mins or until thick.  Allow mixture to cool.

Step 4 - While meat mixture is cooling, cut each pastry sheet into 2 triangles.

Step 5 - Place a large spoonful of filling onto each triangle & fold in half.  Completely seal the edges to avoid leakages.

Step 6 - Place the pasties onto lined oven trays.  Preheat oven to 220oC.  Brush top of pasties with beaten egg & cook, uncovered in  preheated oven for 20 mins or until golden.

Vegetables can be thawed & mashed before adding to mince. 
Add bacon & mushrooms for a richer flavour. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Double choc brownies

It is Saturday night and no better time to be thinking about CHOCOLATE!!  These brownies will not disappoint and are totally divine.  I was going to keep this recipe under wraps until my next cookbook comes out but I just couldn't wait any longer - why deprive you when you can have them now!!

I hope you enjoy them,


  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups caster sugar
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ½ cup cocoa 
  • 150g white chocolate

Preheat oven to 160oC. Line a slice tin (18cm x 28cm) with baking paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, break up chocolate into pieces.  Add butter, diced into pieces. Microwave for 30 secs then stir. Repeat this process until the butter & chocolate are melted together. Stir until smooth & glossy. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, add eggs & sugar.  Beat at maximum speed until thick & creamy.  This may take approx. 4 to 5 mins.

Pour melted chocolate into egg mixture.  Sift flour & cocoa into mixture & gently stir to combine.  Take care not to overmix.

Roughly chop white chocolate into chunks & add to the brownie mixture.  Gently mix through.

Pour into tin & bake for 40 mins.

Cool completely in tin before cutting into slices.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sicilian Pasta Bake

This is a pasta bake with a difference and tastes a little like a lasagne.  I haven't made this one for such a long time and looking at it again has inspired me to reintroduce it to our menu.  It has a few steps but none of them are difficult and takes less than 30 mins to prepare.

Of course.. recipe is from my cookbook 'Food before 5'.


  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 3 Tbspn tomato paste
  • 500g bottled pasta sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 250g cream cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup tasty cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Add macaroni & cook as directed on packet.
Meanwhile, in a large frypan over high heat, cook mince, onion, garlic & capsicum for approx 8 mins. 

Add tomato paste, pasta sauce, water & mixed herbs.  Stir to combine. Simmer for 10 mins.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine cream cheese & milk.  Cook in microwave on high for 3 mins.  Remove from microwave & whisk until smooth.

Drain macaroni & pour into a large casserole dish.  Stir in cheese sauce, sour cream & ¼ cup cheese. 

Top with all of the mince mixture  & gently stir to lightly combine to 2 layers.  Top with  remaining cheese. 

Cover with lid or aluminium foil & refrigerate until required. 

Cooking - Preheat oven to 180oC.   Bake, covered for 30 mins.   Uncover & bake for a further 5 mins or until golden.   If baking immediately after preparing, reduce cooking time  to 20 mins covered, with an additional 5 mins uncovered.  

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Apple & cinnamon slice

Have you tried this one before?  This apple and cinnamon slice is great with a cup of tea.



  • 1 pkt golden butter cake mix
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut


  • 800g tin pie apples
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon sugar

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Malteser slice

This recipe is featured in my new eBook 'Kids Party Food' which includes healthy & not so healthy options for your children's parties.  This is a great one and looks impressive too!


• 250g pkt milk arrowroot biscuits (or other sweet biscuit)
• 2 cups rice bubbles
• 125g butter
• 400g tin condensed milk
• 2 Tbspn cocoa
• 185g pkt maltesers, cut in half
• 200g white chocolate

1. Line a slice tin (18cm x 28cm) with baking paper.

2. Place biscuits in a zip lock bag & crush with a rolling pin to a fine crumb consistency. This can also been done in a food processor or thermomix to save time. Pour into a large bowl along with the rice bubbles & ¾ cup halved maltesers.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter, condensed milk & cocoa. Whisk until melted together & smooth. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Pour over dry ingredients & mix until combined. Press into tin.

5. Break white chocolate into a bowl & heat in microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring each time until smooth.

6. Pour over slice. Press remaining maltesers into the chocolate. NOTE: if you intend to refrigerate or freeze the slice for longer than 1 day, press the maltesers into the chocolate with the cut side down. They will stay crunchy. Refrigerate/freeze until set.

Tips: to keep your white chocolate glossy & stop it from cracking, add 1 Tbspn melted copha to the melted chocolate prior to pouring onto

Storage: In fridge for up to 1 week.

To view my cookbooks, please visit www.foodbefore5.com.au

Friday, 5 September 2014

Carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting

One of my favourite cakes of all time would have to be a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  It brings me back to my childhood and reminds me of a family holiday when I ate a piece of this cake on the ferry from Sydney to Manly. I was back on this ferry again earlier this year but unfortunately they didn't sell any carrot cake so I have to make my own instead :)


  • 185g butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • ¾ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup plain flour (sifted)
  • ¾ cup self raising flour (sifted)
  • 1 ½ tsp mixed spice


  • 90g cream cheese, softened
  • 45g butter
  • 1 ½ tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2 cups icing sugar (sifted)

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease a ring cake tin.

Step 2 - Using an electric mixer, beat butter & sugar in a small bowl until light & fluffy.

Step 3 - Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Step 4 - Transfer to a large bowl & stir in carrot & walnuts.

Step 5 - Sift flours & mixed spice into the mixture.  Stir well to combine.

Step 6 - Pour into ring tin & bake in preheated oven for 1 hr.  Remove from oven, leave in tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 7 - With an electric mixer, beat butter & cream cheese until soft. Add orange rind & sifted icing sugar.  Beat until light & fluffy. Spread over cooled cake.  

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The lunch box cook-up

I usually cook one recipe at a time but was inspired to do a big lunch box cook-up to try and save myself time when packing the daily lunch boxes. Instead of scrounging around in the cupboards trying to fill the lunch boxes, my freezer is now packed with food (for this week anyway!)

Now... don't think I bake like this all the time because that would be untrue.  I also use packets in the lunchboxes as well as sandwiches and fruit, the same as most parents but freshly baked food is a hit with my kids and doesn't take that long, if you can get yourself organised.

From start to finish it took me 2 hrs to make these 5 recipes:
  • Apricot balls
  • Mini quiches
  • Mini cream cakes
  • Anzac biscuits
  • Pikelets
I hope you enjoy these recipes and keep them in mind when you need something to fill the lunchboxes. 

Apricot balls - only 2 ingredients!

Super healthy and a great snack for any time of the day or night.  My kids absolutely love them and with only 2 ingredients and only a few minutes to make, they are a winner in my opinion!

Makes approx 30 balls
  • 1 ½ cups dried apricots (270g)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
1.  Add apricots & oats into a food processor.
2.  Process to form a sticky dough.
3.  Roll into small balls & refrigerate until set.

Note - you can also add desiccated coconut for a flavour variation.
Storage - in fridge, in airtight container for up to 1 week.

My eBook '3 ingredients or less - 18 sweet treats' can be purchased for only $4 from my website www.foodbefore5.com.au

Mini quiches

These are handy to have in the freezer for a lunch box snack or kids party food.   

Makes approx 48
  • 4 slices of puff pastry
  • 4 slices bacon, finely diced
  • 1 small onion, very finely diced 
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup cream
  • ¾ cup grated cheese
  • ½ Tbspn chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C. Spray a mini muffin pan with oil. 

2. In a microwave safe bowl, add onion & bacon & cover with plastic wrap. Microwave  for 2 mins or until soft.

3. In a separate jug, add eggs, cream, parsley & salt. Whisk to combine.

4. Using a cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out 12 circles from each pastry sheet. Push them into the muffin pan.

5. Place a small amount of bacon & onion mixture into each case.  Pour a little egg mixture into each case & sprinkle with grated cheese. 

6. Bake for 12 mins or until puffed & golden.  Repeat with remaining pastry & mixture. 

Tips - try adding diced tomato, capsicum, fetta, spinach or mushrooms.  


In fridge for up to 3 days.
In freezer, in airtight container for up to 3 months.  To reheat, cook in preheated oven for 10 mins.  

Mini cream cakes

A great lunch box filler that taste great with honey drizzled over them.

Makes approx 24  
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 3 Tbspn sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C. Grease a 24 mini muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.

3. Spoon into muffin tin & bake for 10 mins or until golden. Leave in tin for 5 mins before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Storage - at room temperature, in airtight container for up to 2 days. 

Anzac biscuits

A classic recipe that will never go out of date.  Awesome to keep in the freezer. 

Makes 25
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 125g butter
  • 2 Tbspn hot water
  • 3 Tbspn honey
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.  Line an oven tray with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, coconut & oats.  Stir to combine.  

3. In a saucepan, add butter, hot water & honey & cook over medium to high heat until 
combined. Remove from heat.  Add bicarb of soda & stir.  Pour over oat mixture & stir to combine. 

4. Place tablespoons of mixture onto oven tray, leaving space between each one for spreading to occur. Flatten with a fork.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 mins or until golden. 

6. Cool slightly on tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Storage   - Room temperature, in airtight container for up to 5 days.
                - In fridge, in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
                - Freeze, in airtight container/freezer bag for up to 2 months.


This is my grandmas's recipe for soft & fluffy pikelets. Makes approx 25.
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 30g butter, melted
  • spray oil

1. Sift flour & bicarb of soda into a large bowl. 

2. Add sugar & stir to combine.  Add eggs.  

3. In a cup, warm milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add vinegar to the milk.  Then add this to the pikelet batter & whisk.

4. Add melted butter & whisk until smooth. 

5. Heat a non stick frypan over medium heat.  Spray with oil.  Spoon small amounts of batter for each pikelet into the pan.

6. Cook for 2 mins or until bubbles appear on the surface.  Flip pikelets over. Cook for a further minute or until cooked through.

7. Transfer to a plate & cover.  Repeat with remaining mixture.

Serving suggestions include strawberry jam & cream or lemon juice & sugar. 

All of these recipes are from my cookbooks which are all available from www.foodbefore5.com.au

Food before 5 - $19.95 free postage
Kids party food eBook - $5.95
3 ingredients or less, 18 sweet treats eBook - $4

Monday, 1 September 2014

Apricot balls - only 2 ingredients!

Super healthy and is a great snack for any time of the day.  My kids absolutely love them and with only 2 ingredients and only a few minutes to make, they are a winner in my opinion!

Apricot balls (recipe from my eBook '3 ingredients or less - sweet treats)
Makes approx 30

·        1 ½ cups dried apricots (270g)
·        1 cup rolled oats

1.     Add apricots & oats into a food processor.

2.     Process to form a sticky dough.

3.    Roll into small balls & refrigerate until set.

Note - you can also add desiccated coconut for a flavour variation.


In fridge, in airtight container for up to 1 week.

My eBook '3 ingredients or less - 18 sweet treats' can be purchased for only $4 from my website www.foodbefore5.com.au