As far blogging went November had to not be a priority for me. Sadly my tiny baby girl ended up dealing with two illnesses that landed her in the hospital both times ending us with seeing 11 days in November there with her. It was horrible and terrifying seeing such a small baby so sick. But thankfully December has been much more kind and I am excited for Christmas with my new little addition. I know there aren’t that many more days left before the big day but I just had to share with you a few special Christmas recipes to help make the holidays easier for you. Because probably like many of you with new additions means a bigger family get together, making the holiday cooking just a bit more hectic. So finding easier ways to do dishes that are staples I think is a must. And this first one I want to share is by far my favourite. This has single handedly changed the way we are making potatoes forever. My husband was never a fan of mashed potatoes, finding them dull and tasteless unless a lot of additions were made to them. So he has always wanted roast potatoes for the holidays. But once we discovered these and found that they are not only easier but so full of flavour he is now a convert. I never thought about it before but boiling potatoes really does take away precious flavour from the potatoes but cooking them in the slowcooker gives them a rich almost baked flavour. Season as you would normally but we found that doing it this way has us going back to simple salt and pepper seasoning as the potatoes already have so much flavour.
Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
1 kilo (2 lbs) potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
(1/4 c.) milk
42g (3 Tbsp) butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Recipe adapted from Creme De La Crumb
So with the holiday season coming up I decided to focus on brunch ideas this month. The holiday time is full of big family and friend gatherings and eating big meals. So we like to keep things simple and stick to only two meals a brunch and then the larger meal. Small snacks can be served during the rest of the time but by limiting the meals to only two it helps relieve a lot of stress if you are catering for a large group plus since so many calories are consumed during the large meals it seems wise to limit the amount of meals we consume.
Before I share this amazing recipe I think it should be noted that I am not a baker. It is not my area of strength and very rarely does anything I bake turn out beautiful, tasty but not beautiful. I could probably get a lot better if I practiced more but baking is not a healthy thing so I try and limit the amount I do it. I say this because it is a common issue with people. I know so many people that say they aren’t good at baking so they don’t even try any more. They instead stick to store bought pastries, cakes and cookies, or buy only box mixes. But I want to encourage people to give it a try. Yes your results might be like mine, not perfect looking but trust me when I say these were so tasty they didn’t last long enough for us to look at them for long. Not only do home made baked goods taste better and are cheaper buteven more importantly they are better for you then store bought since they have less preservatives and other additives. And since baking isn’t great for the waist line I say any small thing you can do to make it better for you is worth trying.
Trust me when I say if this non-baker can make these then you can. This recipe can easily be made the day before and stored in the fridge until the morning.
Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls
150g (3/4 c.) soft brown sugar
50g (1/4 c.) granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(1/4 c.) finely chopped nuts (I prefer pecans but only had chopped mixed nuts on hand)
14g (1 Tbsp) butter, melted
438g (3 3/4 c.) plain flour
12g (2 Tbsp) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas
100g (7 Tbsp) butter, melted and divided
175mL (3/4 c.) milk
2 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp milk
Adapted from Inside Bru Crew Life
I have done so much soul searching about this blog and where it needed to go. And after a much needed posting where I expressed to you my feelings I felt inspired by the responses enough to come to a decision. I am continuing to blog, doing what I love but in doing so I am going to set things up a bit different. You see my purpose for starting this blog was initially a challenge to improve our food budget and eat healthier. One of the many things I loved about this blog is how it felt to be challenged and even more so how it felt to succeed. I also loved when I would hear from readers how I had inspired them to change their spending and cooking habits.
So I have decided two things, one I won’t be blogging quite as often as I was per month so as not to overwhelm myself but secondly every month I am going to give myself personal challenges and sometimes asking you to challenge me so focusing on quality postings rather then quantity. So every month with my new challenge I will post within the rules of my challenge and push myself to grow even more. As I am about to become a mother again one recurring challenge is going to be how to make sure I continue to provide us with meals that are easy to put together so it fits into our crazy lives. Along with the new focus I am hoping to launch a new redesign which is going to be very recipe orientated to make it easier for people who use this blog as their cookbook, like I do, to find the recipes they want. Thank you everyone for your impute over the past month and I hope you enjoy the journey with Small Wallet, Big Appetite.
So Challenge number 1 for October is going to be 30 minute meals. This month I want to focus on meals that from start to finish take only 30 minutes or less because lets face it when you have a family and/or a busy career you don’t always have the time to assemble more complex meals. This pasta dish was very kid friendly and makes enough for 6 portions which for us is perfect because that means it fed us for two nights in a row which gave me a night off from cooking. Served with a different vegetable side each night it satisfied both the toddler and the adults in the family.
500g (1 lb) lean minced beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic, clove
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
225g (8 oz) uncooked pasta any shape
750mL (3 c.) reduced-sodium beef stock
150mL (3/4 c.) milk
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard*
80g (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
*If using English mustard like I was be aware you might want to use less as it will be very hot. I use about 1/3 tsp of English mustard
Toad in the hole is a very traditional English dish and one that until recently I just couldn’t perfect. I am not really sure why it didn’t turn out the last few times because once I put this together it was actually pretty easy. One key to the dish is making sure you don’t skip adding the oil to the pan while you are cooking the sausages. You need the oil nice and hot before you pour in the batter. To Brits this is a big comfort food dish and more often eaten in cold weather but I was so proud of my success with this one I just couldn’t wait to share.
Bacon-wrapped Toad in the Hole
100g (3/4 c.) plain flour
150ml (2/3 c.) milk
150mL (2/3 c.) water
8 rashers streaky bacon
8 good-quality pork sausages
Recipe from BBC Good Food
Last week was a very special day in the Hunter household, our sweet baby girl turned 2. I cannot even begin to tell you how much joy this little girl has brought to our lives. It is amazing how much your life changes when you have kids. I always knew I wanted to be a mum and to be honest it is even better then I could have imagined. It is hard, harder then anyone could have ever prepared me for but it is so worth it. I know she won’t remember much of these early years so we didn’t plan a big party but I still wanted to make a special cake.
Right now she is going through a Winnie the Pooh stage, she is obsessed. So what is a mum to do but try and make her daughter’s day and create a Winnie the Pooh cake. I didn’t want to buy a cake tin because something like that is not likely to be used again so it seems a bit of a waste. So why not do a 3D cake? You might be thinking I was a bit mad for taking on such a big task, and you would be right. I had no idea what I was doing, I tried to give some step-by-step photos of the process but I won’t lie I can’t guarentee even I could do it again the same again.
But I am so proud of this cake, it was a lot of work but so worth it.
Winnie the Pooh Cake
250g (1 1/2 c.) butter, at room temperature
250g (2/3 c. + 2 Tbsp) caster sugar
500g (4 c.) self-raising flour
90mL (1/3 c. + 2 tsp) milk
2 tsp vanilla Royal Icing Honey Icing Raspberry Icing