It's been a wet and windy weekend here…which has actually been lovely as we have had some scorchers lately and the garden was beginning to look a little worse for wear with the lack of rain!
However, it also meant that the toddler twosome became a little stir crazy with all the indoor time…there are only so many puddles you can jump in and how much red mud Mum can take on everything!
So by Saturday afternoon i was looking for something a little different, something we don't often do together as it is often just too hard and frankly too messy with twin 2 yr olds….cooking!
I wanted to try out a few new recipes for the Christmas baking that will start next month….and since i knew it would be messy i decided to embrace that and turn it into a fun sensory experience. Ruby has had a few sensory issues with the feel of flour so i thought using it liberally while we cooked might help!
It was messy but goodness i had so much fun watching their little faces light up with joy at this activity….perhaps because it doesn't happen often!
We started by making some….
FRUIT AND ALMOND BALLS
These aren't a new recipe…i tend to make them around Christmas time as a healthier version of rum balls…by all means add a splash of rum though if just for the adults…it works well as i have made a batch or two this way too!
Miss Teen also loves them in her lunchbox and i am happy to say the toddler twosome enjoyed tasting them as they mixed and rolled!
They are very easy to make and provided a wonderful sensory experience with the combination of sticky fruit and coarse coconut which then stuck to their hands…we did lots of smelling and rolling and talking about sticky and squishy! The girls kept trying to shake the coconut off their fingers which was so funny to watch!
Here's the recipe if you would like to give them a try…get the kids involved too…they really challenged Ruby's SPD sensitivities but that is what i was aiming for!
Almond & Fruit Ball Recipe
2/3 Cup Dried Apricots
1/2 Cup Pitted Dates
3/4 Cup Small Sultanas
5 Tablespoons Boiling Water
1/2 Cup Ground Almonds (I like to use the Lucky brand)
1 Cup Desiccated Coconut (we needed more because we had a bit of a play too!)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Place fruit into a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add boiling water and leave to soak for 5 minutes.
Add the ground almonds, 1/2 cup of the coconut and vanilla then blend again until it forms a paste.
Roll into small balls and coat in remaining coconut. We also rolled a few in Luckys' new Roasted Almond Meal…i wanted to see if Ruby would like this as she really seems to like nutty things. It smells divine by the way and both girls (and Daddy)enjoyed the change from just coconut!
Keep refrigerated. The balls are a great source of iron and calcium and the addition of nuts adds a delicious flavour!
We then moved onto something even more exciting and a new recipe i have been wanting to try out….
Almond Gingerbread Biscuits
This is where the sensory fun really occurred! The smell of this biscuit mix is just wonderful and the girls really enjoyed squeezing and rolling the dough as it is quite soft for a biscuit dough.
As you can see i added a lot more flour than necessary to bump up the sensory fun factor. Sticky little hands made patterns in the flour, sifted flour through fingers then rolled and cut out shapes. So many opportunities for language and learning…but yes it was messy and i was glad to have Daddy on hand to help! The girls enjoyed the extra attention and freedom to explore too!
Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a try….they turn into a really nice crisp biscuit and the addition of honey and almond meal add that something extra! Definitely the smells of the Christmas season as they were cooking….I'm thinking these would make lovely gifts from the girls all tied up in a painted jar!
Almond Gingerbread Biscuit Recipe
125 g unsalted butter
2/3 Cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
335g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 Cup Lucky Almond Meal
Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. add egg and beat well until combined. Add the honey and mix until just combined.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda and spices over the mixture. Sprinkle over the almond meal. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it forms a dough (the toddler twosome had great fun with this part!).
Flatten dough into a 2cm disc shape and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out to desired thickness and then use the cookie cutter shapes of your choice. We went for a few little gingerbread people, some stars and Christmas trees. They would be lovely iced too but Mummy was a little to exhausted to go there! Bake at 160c for around 15 mins..depending on the size and thickness of your biscuit shape!
I really enjoy cooking with nuts….i think they just add that something extra to many recipes. I also like the fact that they are so nutritious and by using some of the ground varieties i can sneak a little extra goodness into the girls snacks!
The cooking didn't stop there…i made a few favourites for Miss Teen and His Patient Self….i did indeed go a little nutty in the kitchen this weekend!
Miss Teen is quite health conscious and always looking for a nutritious snack for her lunchbox so i tried out a new recipe……
Soy & Cumin Nut Seed Clusters
These are awfully quick to make but very yummy! They are pictured in the top right photo below.
Here's the recipe if you want to try a different snack for your own lunchbox this week!
Soy & Cumin Nut Seed Clusters
Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a non stick pan.
Add 1/2 Cup each of Lucky Sunflower Kernels,Slivered Almonds and Pepitas and stir to combine.
Add one teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, and stir for 3-4 minutes to toast the seeds. (The smell was wonderful!!)
When you hear the pepitas begin to pop (toddler twosome loved that part!!)the seeds are ready. Add 1/4 cup Kecup Manis (this is a sweet, syrupy Indonesian soy sauce…you can just use plain soy sauce but the seeds won't clump together…which you may prefer!)
Keep stirring until the liquid has evaporated…only 40 secs or so. Allow to cool and then squash into clumps of desired size or leave spread out. Lovely warm or cold!
The left hand picture is of a dessert i made for Saturday's dinner…His Patient Self's favourite!
Apple Nut Crumble
This is another dish that is usually on the Christmas lunch table…alongside the pavlova! No matter how warm it is at that time of the year it always goes down a treat with a little cold vanilla icecream on the top!
I cheat a little and use 2 cans of tinned pie apple with some cinnamon and brown sugar sprinkled over the top. You could of course stew your own apples! Place them in a casserole dish then sprinkle the following crumble mixture over the top.
1 Cup Lucky Almond Meal
1/3 Cup Lucky Slivered Almonds
1/3 Cup Lucky Flaked Almonds
1/3 Cup roughly chopped Lucky Walnuts
1 Tsp mixed spice
1/2 Tsp ground ginger
1/2 Cup brown sugar
60g unsalted butter, cold and diced.
Combine all ingredients and using fingertips rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle over your apples (or other fruit) and bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes until golden on top!
Lovely and crunchy top with the sweet soft fruit underneath…and so quick and easy which is what we like in this house!
The bottom picture in the collage is of some Chicken and Lentil Patties that i made mainly for Ruby….i tried rolling some of them in roasted hazelnut meal before frying them…just for something different to the panko crumbs. I like to try and mix the patties up a little bit so she doesn't become to familiar with them and then possibly stop eating them…you can read more about why i do that in this post…
The recipe for the patties/balls will be following later in the week i promise! We also made and froze in ziplock bags some more of our yummy…..
Such a busy weekend of cooking but it felt good to be getting the freezer stocked with a few healthy snacks and being able to finally include the twins in some sensory cooking fun!
I have listed Lucky nuts in the ingredients of most of these recipes because i like to use quality nuts in my cooking…especially when baking for the family! I also like the fact that Lucky almonds are grown right here in Australia and easily available in the supermarkets!
Here's their fantastic range….I'm also loving the new ready made crumbles for those busy nights when you need an extra hand!
Have you started any Christmas baking or activities yet? I'd love to hear about your favourite recipe….especially one that is easy enough to make with toddlers!!
This post was made through Product Talk by Nuffnang and i received a gift bag of Lucky Nuts in exchange for review.