Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[in the kitchen] Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

This week I thought I'd get around to doing something other than a post from the kitchen after the last two posts... but while I have posts waiting to be written, they will demand more of my time than an easy peasy recipe complete with pictures of the yummy goodness... so... here again I have been in the kitchen filling the bellies of the BEs.

I had some lamb mince in the freezer that I'd bought on a whim when I saw it at Coles.  I had originally thought I'd have a go at making Lamb Koftas, but I googled Lamb Mince and came up with a recipe for Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Couscous and decided the Lamb Koftas could wait.

Over the years I have clipped many a meatball recipe, thinking that I'd give them a go but always shied away thinking there was too much work involved with the mixing, rolling, browning & all that jazz.  After my first attempt at this recipe I realised that this was not the case... I found this to be no more complicated than a bolognaise sauce & actually quicker, the cooking time is definitely faster.

As usual, I have tweaked the original, partly due to absence of ingredients in my fridge/pantry!

This one received a BIG Mr BE thumbs up and will be joining in on our 'usual rotation'.  We could not however convince Mini Man to actually taste this (as usual) but he did push it around the plate enthusiastically and enacted some rather dramatic 'fake' chomping actions with spoonfuls... maybe next time some will make it down the hatch?!  I live in hope!!

What's in it...


  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 small white onion, coarsely grated
  • salt & ground black pepper , to taste
  • 2 tbs vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 small lemon


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1tbs finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbs butter, softened

Put it all together...


  1. Combine the mince, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander , onion, salt & pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Roll the mixture into small balls, approximately the size of a walnut.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the meatballs, cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned.  Set aside to drain on paper towel.
  4. Remove the excess oil from the pan.  Add the garlic and cook briefly.
  5. Add the tomatoes, 1 tsp cumin, and salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Return the meatballs to the pan, cover & cook for 4-5 minutes or until meatballs are cooked.
  8. Stir the lemon juice through the mixture & serve on the prepared couscous, with greens (we had broccoli, beans & wilted baby spinach) or other steamed vegetables of your choice.


  1. Place the couscous in a heat proof bowl.
  2. Add the cumin, lemon zest & chopped mint & combine.
  3. Pour boiling water over the couscous, mix with fork, cover & set aside to absorb.
  4. Once absorbed, stir with a fork to break up the grains, stir through the butter & season to taste with salt.


I was so busy cooking this one that I forgot to take any progress shots!

Monday, June 18, 2012

On being up past my bedtime... again... as usual

Mr BE is away for a few nights at a training course, in Brisbane - lucky him!

The boys are both in bed, sleeping like angels, have been since 7pm - bless them!

So I've been pottering about...
I tidied the kitchen, washed a load of nappies ready to hang out in the morning, had a shower, set a few things out ready to make breakfast without Mr BE's help a bit easier in the morning, had a cup of tea & some yummy fresh pawpaw and somewhere in between finishing that & now, I ended up here, at the computer first up I was sorting some internet banking & updating our financial spreadsheets then I moved on to reading a few blogs & checking out facebook.... and just now I was chatting with a lovely friend who is in a different timezone and it occurred to me that it was well... getting a little bit late... late enough to be past my bedtime... I stated as much to her and promptly bid her farewell to send myself to bed (which I clearly haven't done yet... since I'm here still writing about it).

But funnily enough, if I define my bedtime as the "time I go to bed", then going by averages on the usual "time I go to bed" one might actually say it's my bedtime right about now.

Ha ha!  Why is that? I certainly would cope better with more sleep than I get, yet every night Mr BE & I declare we shall be having an early night, only to find ourselves up past our bedtime... again?  Well tonight I'm doing the solo night owl... but I betchya if I rang him right now there's a fairly high chance he's still up too!!

On that note... I really must get to bed... Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

[in the kitchen] peanut butter squares

 Mini Man is a huge fan of peanut butter.  He loves it on toast every morning and will often have for his lunch sandwiches as well.  A while back we let him have a cheeky spoonful while we made his toast and created a MONSTER!!  Every time we get out the jar he now expects to eat it in much the same fashion one would normally consume yoghurt!!

I have mentioned before he's a big eater but a terribly fussy one when it comes to broadening the menu to incorporate new things.  I love to cook and it breaks my heart that so many of the meals I attempt to dish up to him get sent back to the kitchen!  We are still battling to get him to move on to proper evening meals... but that's a whole other post.  The point being, every so often I manage to get him to try something new & when I saw this recipe in a local parenting info magazine I thought I'd hazzard an attempt to make him a snack that incorporated one of his favourite flavours...

These were a massive hit, we are onto our third batch now, I think they'll stay on the menu for a while.  They are definitely a treat, but at least I know what's in them and we can have fun making them together.  I'm also thinking now that we have the base for this one we can start playing with different dry ingredients for a little variety.  But for now we'll stick to the following...

I cut this one out when I saw it, so I don't have original credit details to offer.

What's in it...
  • 4 tbs peanut butter
    original recipe called for crunchy, I only buy smooth & it worked fine
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup powedered milk
  • 2/3 cup dessicated coconut
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
 Put it all together...
  1. Line a 20cm slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Combine the peanut butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl & microwave on high for 50 seconds or until a smooth runny consistency.
    this can be done on the stovetop if prefered
  3. Add the remaining ingredients & mix well to combine.
  4. Turn the mixture out into the lined tray & press down.  Let it cool & refrigerate.
  5. When cooled cut into squares.  Best kept refrigerated.
The Visuals...
make it up
the finished product

Friday, June 1, 2012

[in the kitchen] Apple Tea Cake

Note: There's a novel before the recipe... if you just want to bake the cake... skip to the end!

So my Mini Man is something of a fussy eater... we're getting better but it's a slow progression.  Every morning he has 1x wheet bix with banana, yoghurt & sultanas, followed by 1 or 2 slices of toast with peanut butter or vegemite... he's a big eater, just a creature of habit - he's not up for trying new foods to readily.

I hear you ask... what on earth does this information have to do with Apple Tea Cake?  Trust me... there is a connection... there is a point... there usually is with most of my stories, just sometimes takes a journey to get to the point (it's the McGarry genes, I was born with this amazing ability, thanks Dad!)

So... here it is, the connection between Luka's breakfast & Apple Tea Cake...

One morning recently we had run out of bananas and had no other fruit in the house, except crunchy pink lady apples, which just wouldn't have cut it on cereal for "Captain Fussy-bum Toddler Pants"... I searched the pantry for the emergency can of pears or peaches that we normally stock in the BE Hive to find Queen BE (that's me) had neglected to restock after the last emergency use of these items... but I did find a can of pie apples and thought to self that these would cut it: they're sweet, they're soft, he'll LOVE it... fast forward to Luka sitting in his high chair ready to eat breakfast & you guessed it... pie apples REJECTED.

We moved on Mini Man was sufficiently fed breakfast less fruit and we merrily went about our day, we had Grandma (Mr BEs beautiful Mamma) visiting to keep me company and help with the boys while Mr BE was away for work, so there were lots of wonderful adventures to be had.

A little while later I was trying to think of the best way to use up those pie apples, waste not want not & all that.   I thought of doing a crumble but this would make a large desert that Grandma & I wouldn't get through... then I decided I could make a simple vanilla/butter cake & chuck the apples on top, ala, Apple Tea Cake!! This would be perfect, a cake doesn't need to be eaten in one sitting.

I don't have a lot of cakes in my baking repertoire, so I turned to the internet to find a basic recipe for inspiration, and this is the result...

(original recipe credit: bestrecipes.com.au Quick Apple Tea Cake)

What's in it...
  • 1 heaped cup SR flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 can pie apples
  • nutmeg, sugar & cinnamon (to sprinkle on top)
Put it all together...
this part is SO easy... to me it feels just as easy as whipping up a packet mix cake, without all the additives that may be lurking in there.
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
    you could grease & flour, but I choose baking paper always to avoid ever sticking to the tin... I'm lazy like that, plus it is easier to get the apple covered cake out neatly!
  3. Place all ingredients in a bowl in the order stated.
  4. Mix well for 2 mins with an electric mixer.
    I have a cheap little hand mixer that can be a bit messy on start up, so I give the beaters a good stir by hand to wet down the flour etc before I turn them on, this helps avoid the big dust cloud of flour being thrown up.
  5. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin.
  6. Place the tin of pie apples evenly over the top of the batter.
  7. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon & sugar.
  8. Cook for 45mins or until skewer comes out clean & the top looks lightly golden.
This cake is great served warm from the oven with a little drizzle of cream (ooh wicked!) or simply cooled and cut up with a cuppa at morning tea.

It was a hit with Grandma, and we were both surprised it kept well for several days.


the steps
putting it together...
out of the oven
... out of the oven ...
on my plate
... on my plate... yummm!

Allergy Tips:
  • EGGS  The first time I made it this cake, I neglected to put the egg in (I blame the children distracting me, it's a good excuse & I'm sticking to it!!) and realised just as I had the whole shebang ready to pop in the oven... so I cooked it anyway & hoped for the best - it worked out fine, so if you don't have one or can't for allergy reasons, leave it out!  
  • GLUTEN  I have made this one Gluten Free, it works out well with a straight swap for GF SR flour.  I just found I needed to add a little more flour (less than 1/4 cup) to make the batter slightly thicker - test by beating up with standard measurements first & then add a little more if the batter seems too runny.