Cooking with Kids: Healthier Fried Rice

Today’s post comes courtesy of Miss C – who started Grade 1 this year, and has been delivering her first ever school projects.  The focus last term was on healthy eating and lifestyles (something we are only too happy to embrace!) and saw the students do 3 presentations on various topics.

The first project required the students to cook a healthy meal and present it to the class. When tasked with the project, Miss C had no hesitation in suggesting that she make her healthier fried rice – aka something that my kids request quite often for lunch or dinner. Sure it has a little bacon, but the remaining ingredients are healthy, and the method is simple, making it a rather perfect meal for kids to help create and share!

Miss C had so much fun measuring out the ingredients, and setting up her cooking equipment. She then created a poster, outlining the various steps – as follows…

  1. Get your ingredients. On this occasion it was brown rice, peas, corn, bacon and a little soy sauce. We’ve also used carrots, zucchini and eggs on previous occasions. 2. Grab a pan and heat a little oil over a medium heat (with the help of a grown up of course!).3. Add your ingredients, heat and stir.

4. Serve and Enjoy!My little budding chef and her grand creation. And I’m told she did beautifully in presenting her project to the class also (proud parent moment right there!!)

Spinach and ricotta ‘sausage’ rolls

After realising that I can be a bit of a frozen puff-pastry hoarder, I’ve been looking for ways to make sure we use up the packets before they are lost in the depths of our chest freezer. Sausage rolls, in the traditional sense, have been baked in abundance for this reason, and are definitely a ‘go to’ for parties and entertaining. As are my favourite savoury scrolls – which are always a great lunchbox addition.

So when I was looking for a vegetarian dish to contribute to our recent Good Friday lunch, and also a way to finish off the half pack of puff pastry I had in the freezer, these lovely little spinach and ricotta rolls came to be.

Filled with the goodness of spinach, and jazzed up with both ricotta and feta – this vegetarian take on the ol’ sausage roll proved rather delicious. And they will now feature on my ‘bring a plate’ favourites list for sure!

Print Recipe
Spinach and ricotta 'sausage' rolls
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can, then place in a large bowl with the ricotta, feta, egg and lemon zest. Stir to combine, and season.
  3. Cut each pastry sheet in half. Place 1/4 of the spinach mixture down the long side of each sheet. Brush the opposite side with egg, and roll to enclose.
  4. Cut each roll into 6 pieces, and place onto the lined baking trays. Brush the tops with a little more egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
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My favourite Lemon and Coconut Slice

When asked to “bring a plate”, I often lean towards creating a sweet treat. Rocky road is usually my “go to” sweet, and is generally well received, but on other occasions I like to bring a plate of lemon slice.  For it is easy to make, requires no baking, and the leftovers keep really well too.

Recently I offered to make a couple slices for a birthday party. I had a few chocolate based ones in mind, and figured my favourite lemon slice would work beautifully as a nice flavour contrast to those. And with some lemons leftover from the peach and lemon cake, well it was a no-brainer really.

So one dreary morning, my helpers and I got to work. Lemons were juiced and zested, biscuits were crumbed and condensed milk and butter were heated. And before too long we had ourselves a big tray of lemon slice, sprinkled with coconut, and ready to be sliced and served.

This was a great slice to make with the kids too. They had a lot of fun turning the food processor on and off, and stirring the coconut and melted ingredients into the biscuit crumbs. Bowls and spoons were licked not long after, and coconut was liberally sprinkled over the iced slice (and most of the kitchen benchtop, but let’s not talk about that…!)

Print Recipe
Lemon and Coconut Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl, add the coconut, lemon juice and zest, and stir to combine.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a saucepan. Heat slowly, over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the biscuit mixture, and stir until well combined. Press firmly into a slice tin (that is lined with baking paper), and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the icing sugar and extra lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the ingredients have combined. Spread over the chilled slice, and sprinkle with extra coconut. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or overnight) then slice and serve.
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Cherry Ripe Power Balls

Growing up, our family had a regular Sunday night ritual. After dinner, Dad would present four chocolates of different varieties to the family, with instructions that we could each choose one. We’d then sit down to some TV time as a family, and noting the era, we probably watched an episode of The Wonder Years, Xena Warrior Princess or, perhaps, Home Improvement.

Generally Dad presented a mars bar, a crunchie bar, a picnic and a cherry ripe. Or, if he was feeling particularly creative, maybe a curly wurly or a kit kat.  And generally there were no arguments when it came time to choose, with each family member having their preferred variety of sugar hit.

Dad would take the picnic bar, Mum would take the cherry ripe, and my brother and I would negotiate over whatever was left.

Although, if we were to have that ritual these days, I would almost certainly opt for the cherry ripe.

For dark chocolate + cherries = yes please!

These tasty little cherry ripe power balls use dates, dried cherries, coconut and cocoa to create a flavour combination that is not all that dissimilar to the ol’ cherry ripe bar.  They are rich, but not overly sweet.

They are, however, a lot healthier and definitely lunchbox friendly – as well as a tasty snack to reach for throughout the day.

What about you? What is your favourite chocolate bar?

Print Recipe
Cherry Ripe Power Balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.
  2. Shape and roll into balls, and place on a paper-lined plate. Store in the fridge.
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Healthy Lamington Balls

This week’s healthy lunchbox treat was named by Miss C. For she is a big fan of lamingtons, and declared these little balls to be rather similar to lamingtons when I packed some in her lunchbox.

But, unlike their cake counterparts, these little balls have no butter, sugar or flour. Rather, they are sweetened with medjool dates, and given their chocolate flavour with some cacao powder.

Some I rolled in coconut….

Others I kept ‘plain’…

But both came together beautifully, and we now have a big bowl of these lamington balls in the fridge to ‘grab and go’ when the afternoon slump hits.

Kid approved!

Print Recipe
Healthy Lamington Balls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the oats and sunflower seeds in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add the dates, coconut, honey, chia seeds, coconut oil and cacao powder- and process until combined. Add a little water if you think the mixture needs more liquid.
  3. Roll into balls (and coat with extra coconut if you like). I wet my hands a little to help with this step.
Recipe Notes

These balls are best stored in the fridge.

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Apricot and white chocolate bars

After the success of last week’s school snack baking session, I was eager to add another homemade treat to our list.

As Miss C, in particular, is a big fan of dried apricots, I hoped that an apricot treat would be well received. While she was a little hesitant to try these apricot and white chocolate bars at first, they did not return home when I packed a couple in her lunchbox – so I’m calling it a win (either that or a school buddy had an extra snack that day). Either way, the speed at which they are disappearing from our kitchen counter suggests that they may also be a hit with the older members of our family…

Somewhere between a bar and a cake, these treats are sweetened simply with a little brown sugar and white chocolate.  They may not be the ‘healthiest’, as such, but they are not overly sweet and the ingredient list is modest.

They slice nicely too, making them perfect to pack into little lunchboxes, and could easily be jazzed up with the addition of walnuts or the like (if you don’t have any school nut-bans to be mindful of, that is). 

Oh and in case you were wondering, I most certainly had my little kitchen helper on hand when making these too!

Apricot and white chocolate bars (makes 18)

  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 120g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a slice tray.
  2. Place apricots and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer until the water has been absorbed. Add the butter and brown sugar, and cook over a low heat – stirring – until the butter and sugar have melted.
  3. Combine the flour and oats in a mixing bowl. Add the apricot mixture and stir to combine.  Fold through the chocolate bits.
  4. Press into lined pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice.

Healthier Honey Bubble Bars

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I’m keen to get back into the kitchen. To develop new recipes, and generally get creative!

In particular, I want to create some lunchbox treats. Lately I’ve been relying on pre-packaged snacks all too often for the kids, and their ingredient list is far from desirable.

So with the rain falling heavily outside the other day, I got to work on my first lunchbox treat.

A healthier honey bubble bar.

As soon as I began pulling bowls out of the drawer, Little J arrived curiously at the kitchen bench. Actually, she is quite the shadow when I am in the kitchen, always eager to help out. And this being a no-bake treat, well that was just perfect for little hands!

I measured out the ingredients, and she poured them all into a big bowl and gave them a good stir. “Pat-pat-patting” the slice into the baking tin was also a big hit.

In the mix? Puffed rice, shredded coconut, chia seeds, sunflower kernels, butter and honey. Oh some chocolate chips for a little indulgence too.

Pressed into a lined tray, and allowed to firm up overnight in the fridge.

The following day, it was simply a matter of slicing the mixture into bars.

The bars were sweet, without being over-sweet, although I made the rookie mistake of adding the chocolate chips before the melted butter and honey (ie. the chocolate melted).

The honey also made the bases a little sticky,  so I wrapped each bar in some baking paper for ease of transport.

And just like that, my baking mojo has officially returned! Not to mention being able to share some time in the kitchen with Little J.

Stay tuned for more lunchbox treats in the weeks to come!

Healthier Honey Bubble Bars

  • 4 cups puffed rice
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 3 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 125g butter
  • 220g honey
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Grease and line a slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine the puffed rice, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the butter and honey in the microwave until melted and combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat the mixture well. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  4. Press firmly into the lined tray, and place in the fridge overnight to firm.
  5. Remove from the fridge, and cut into slices. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

White chocolate and macadamia cookies

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Canberra feels more like Melbourne at the moment – warm Spring days one minute, and cold overcast days the next.

And rain.

So much rain.

So with two kids who are also a little under the weather, there has been lots of time spent indoors. Lego, puzzles, dress-ups and a personal favourite, baking!

Cookies were on the agenda the other day. But rather than turn to our regular spelt chocolate chip or freckle cookies, we went with a white chocolate and macadamia version instead.

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As is usually the case, Miss C had a great time helping me measure out the ingredients and control the mixer speed, and Little J loved flattening down the cookies when they were placed on the trays. Although both kids quickly disappeared when they realised it was time to do the dishes!?
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The cookies kept well for a few days, and I suspect they would keep for longer if they weren’t gobbled up so quickly!

White chocolate and macadamia cookies (makes 12 large)

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 120g white chocolate chips
  • 120g chopped macadamias
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and creamy. Add the egg, and continue beating until combined.
  3. Stir in the sifted flour, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well combined.
  4. Roll out heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls, and place on the prepared trays (well spaced). Gently press to flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

What about you? Do you have a favourite cookie recipe?