Mulled Wine And Russian Tea Gifts

With all that’s been going on here, I have not had much time to be or feel Christmassy, or get far in the whole Christmas gift making endevour. One of the things I have managed to do, however, was prepare mulled wine spices and the tea-total version, Russian Tea spices, for our December food swap.


It made quite nice gift parcels, and even if you just make a batch for yourself, it fills the house with a beautiful aroma and makes a most delicious wine or tea. The tea is a wonderful alternative to mulled wine if you can’t drink or want an alcohol free alternative. It’s worth making, totally.

End Of The Box Fun Food Pasta

Have you ever opened your store cupboard to find that each pasta container has too little pasta left to make up a meal?

That’s what happened to me tonight, so I ended up making different pastas! There was gluten free and normal, white and whole meal, long, spirally, and shells.


I popped each pasta into its own pot, with some food colouring, which I was sure Ameli was going to love if it worked.

Once cooked, I drained it then decided the blue and red needed more colour, so added a few more drops to each (drained) pot and stirred it in.

Finally, I mixed the green, red and blue pastas together, mixed in some herbs, seasoning and olive oil, and served to a very excited toddler, who for the first time ever, asked for more food!


Carrot Soup And Butternut Squash Soup {{ Thermomix Recipes }}

*These recipes are written for the Thermomix, but can be made in any high speed blender. I cooked them in the Thermomix, but you can cook them on the stove too.

As soon as my vegetable stock was made, the day I received my loaned Thermomix, I set to work making two soups: first a Carrot soup, and then a Butternut Squash soup.  (And the beauty of the Thermie is that I did this in between putting my children to bed. That’s impressive.)

I am terrible at following recipes, but just these two times, I thought I’d make a special effort and follow the recipes from the Every Day Cookbook exactly, but I only kind of did, and here they are:

Carrot Soup And Butternut Squash Soup {{ Thermomix Recipes }}

Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Winter
Author: Luschka (Every Day Cookbook)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5
This soup could not be any simpler or faster. It tastes fresh and wholesome when just made, and even better the next day.
  • 40 g red split lentils
  • 1 thinly peeled strip of lemon skin
  • 2 cm fresh ginger
  • 300 g carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 50 g butter
  • 120 g cream
  • ]½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a few sprigs fresh coriander
  • water or stock as needed
  1. Grind lentils, lemon peel and ginger 20 seconds/Speed 10.
  2. Add onion, carrots, butter and stock paste or stock cube if using. Chop a few seconds/Speed 4½.
  3. Add water or stock to the 1 litre mark on the bowl. Cook 15 minutes/100ºC/Speed 2.
  4. Add coriander, salt and pepper. Add cream and milk (if using).
  5. Pureé 1 minute/Speed 10 until smooth.
Calories: 195.1 Fat: 17.1 g Carbohydrates: 9.5 g Sugar: 2.8 g Sodium: 108.8 mg Fiber: 2.7 g Protein: 2.1 g Cholesterol: 54.7 mg

The original recipe for this next soup calls for pumpkin, but we had Butternut Squash at home, so it became a Butternut Squash recipe instead, and it was totally fantastic.

Carrot Soup And Butternut Squash Soup {{ Thermomix Recipes }}

Recipe Type: Dinner,
Cuisine: Soup
Author: Luschka
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A thoroughly delicious soup. Warm flavours and so easy to make!
  • 1 onion
  • half a butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 500g vegetable stock (2 cups, roughly)
  • Thyme, to garnish
  • cream, to garnish
  1. Place onion into bowl and chop for 5 seconds at speed 7.
  2. Add butter/oil and saute for 3 mins at 100 degrees on speed 1.
  3. Add pumpkin and carrot and garlic and chop for 15 seconds at speed 7.
  4. Add stock and cook for 20 mins on 100 degrees at speed 1.
  5. Swirl some fresh cream over the top of the soup, and add a few sprigs of thyme to garnish (but be sure to eat it, it’s the perfect herb for this soup!)

I think my favourite thing about Thermomix soups is that they come out so creamy and smooth, they look like you’ve emptied a pot of  cream into them, even if you’ve added no cream at all. Yum, yum, yum.

Vranameer Chicken : A Family Recipe

The moment I finished reading the topic for this months Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes, I knew exactly which recipe I would share: Vranameer Chicken.

Welcome to the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing their recipes, their stories, their pictures, and their memories.


Translated from Afrikaans, Vra Na Meer means Ask For More. That’s what this is all about. Eating more cause it’s so yum.

Actually, some time after my mother’s terminal diagnosis, I sat down and asked myself what I would wish I could have asked five, ten, twenty years from now. One of the first things I thought about was this recipe.

My mother has never been big on food. She’s not much of a cook, and doesn’t particularly enjoy spending time in the kitchen – although she’s a fabulous baker! But this was a meal she would cook for us.

Be warned. It’s not what I would call healthy, although it could be made healthier, but it is really quick and easy and very, very, very tasty. It would particularly appeal to anyone who likes sweet and sour Chinese food.

I’ll have to try it again sometime with made-from-scratch ingredients.

Vranameer Chicken : A Family Recipe
Recipe Type: Main Meal, Chicken
Cuisine: South African
Author: Luschka
Serves: 3 – 4
You could make this recipe healthier by making the mayonnaise and chutney from scratch before hand. The chutney you use also makes a difference to the flavour. Traditionally you use Mrs Balls Chutney (Amazon US), but any sweet fruity chutney works.
  • 6 to 8 chicken portions
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chutney
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C
  2. Brown the chicken and set aside in an oven-proof casserole dish.
  3. Sauté the onions gently for 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and has a golden colour. Add the water and mix to make a ‘soup’.
  4. Mix onion with chutney and mayonnaise, and pour sauce over chicken.
  5. Cover casserole dish and bake in oven at 180°C for an hour.
  6. Serve with fluffy rice and fresh, mixed salad.
Serving size: 1 Calories: 439 Fat: 5.3 Saturated fat: .3 Carbohydrates: 89.5 Sugar: 33.8 Sodium: 1146 Fiber: 3.2 Protein: 6.7 Cholesterol: 11.9


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • German Red Cabbage: A Family Tradition — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares her favorite dish and a part of her family’s history.
  • Rotisserie Chicken Recipes for Meal Planning — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama shares a new recipe that is in her family’s meal-planning rotation. Check out how she uses a rotisserie chicken to get through the week.
  • Grandma Wicken’s Sugar Cookies — Jana Falls at Jananas talks about how special her Grandma’s sugar cookies made her feel.
  • Recipe: Seed and Bean Burgers — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings shares one of her favourite frugal recipes that is also super-healthy and totally delicious.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich — Lisa at The Squishable Baby PULLS dinner together for the kids.
  • The Best Banana Muffin Recipe (Gluten Free & Vegan) — Dionna of Code Name: Mama’s adventures in gluten free baking have not been 100% successful. But today she is guest posting at Fine and Fair to share a banana muffin recipe that will knock your socks off!
  • The Pierogie Mama Whips Up Strawberry Pierogies! — Bianca at The Pierogie Mama shares her family’s recipe for strawberry pierogies…a sweet, summery version of the Polish dumplings that she affectionately named her daughter after.
  • Mom’s Cookbook — Tree at Mom Grooves digs into the big book her mom created for her six daughters and shares a favorite family recipe.
  • Crispy Duck Confit — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes the liberty of starting a family recipe tradition with this super simple, totally delicious crispy duck confit.
  • Stovetop BBQ Chicken — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares a yummy BBQ chicken recipe that you can make on the stovetop in less than 25 minutes, fridge to table!
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole w/Bacon — Martine at Whey Beyond the Naked Truth shares a naked food twist on an old family favorite!
  • Strawberry Panna Cotta — KerryAnn at shows you her favorite dessert, a quick and easy Strawberry Panna Cotta that she enjoys so much, she had it instead of a birthday cake this year.
  • Special crepes for a special day — Mikko at Hobo Mama is learning to cook his grandma’s signature holiday meal alongside his dad.
  • Three Favorite Family Recipes: To Eat, To Wash, To Play — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is back with three family favorites: gluten-free shortbread, DIY powdered laundry detergent, and something fun for the kids: homemade “Flubber”!
  • Black Bean Soup Forever — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a soup recipe that’s been around forever.
  • Do you want to know a secret? — SRB at Little Chicken Nuggets lets go of her mac and cheese recipe, a comfort food favourite for friends and family for years.
  • Creating Our Own Family Recipes — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM shares how she’s trying to create meals that her girls will want to pass down to their own children some day.
  • Vranameer Chicken: A Family Recipe — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares a recipe that reminds her of childhood and more specifically, of her mother. It’s a South African take on sweet and sour chicken and what it lacks in healthy it makes up for in tantalising to the taste buds.
  • One Recipe, Three Uses: Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Dish Soap, and Hand Soap — If you love saving money and time, you’ll love this green recipe from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network.
  • Our Family’s Favorite Pies — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares recipes and tutorials for the quintessential American dessert.
  • Deliciously Easy Crock Pot ChiliLactating Girl shares her crock pot chili that is not only quick and easy, but awesome.
  • All-Purpose Crock Pot PorkCrunchy Con Mommy‘s simple “recipe” for cooking perfect pork in the crock pot is for whatever mood her family is in!
  • Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony — Cooped-up kids + winter weather + frazzled parents can all blend together into a recipe for disaster. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares what brought back the peace in her house.
  • Favorite Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s healthy eating experiences along with links to free printable vegetarian recipes that her family has created with love.
  • Grandma’s Banana Bread — Megan at The Boho Mama has early and fond memories of her grandma’s banana bread. It’s love in a loaf!
  • Family Comfort Food — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares a recipe handed down that moms have made for their kids, for regular meals as well as to comfort.


Festival of Food: Best Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of the tradition of Easter chocolates, we’re sharing recipe ideas for healthier alternatives – sweets and treats featuring real cocoa. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you’re welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you’d like to share, add it to the linky below.

First off, I must come clean and say this cake isn’t exactly healthy as such, but at least it is Vegan, which is more than you can say for most incredibly delectable, tasty, yummy and to die for chocolate cakes. Now, if you follow closely, you’ll know I’m not actually vegan, but this is a brilliant recipe to have on hand if you find you have no eggs, and even when I do have eggs, I often have this cake because it’s just. that. good.

Initially from Instructables, this has become a firm favourite for us, and it actually featured as the Vegan cake for Ameli’s 3rd birthday, and will be Aviya’s birthday cake this weekend too. (My baby is 1 today, say WHAT?)

Festival of Food: Best Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake

Recipe Type: Desert, Cake
Cuisine: Vegan, Chocolate, Easter
Author: Luschka
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
The best ever chocolate cake, that happens to be Vegan too. Remember if you’re making this for Vegans, most regular sprinkles aren’t actually Vegan due to the food colouring used in them. You can also make it without the glaze and decorate with a regular butter cream icing. Made with coconut oil, however, the glaze is so tasty
  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
  • Chocolate Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil (or margarine)
  • 2 tbsp soy milk/almond milk/rice milk
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180C)
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the cake and blend well.
  3. Pour it into your baking dish or shaped silicone mould.
  4. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick popped in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Take out and allow to cool totally.
  6. For the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring sugar, coconut oil (or margarine), milk, and cocoa to a boil. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It’ll look gloppy, but it’s just the bubbles!
  7. Remove from heat and vigorously.
  8. Add vanilla, stir, and immediately pour onto cake.
  9. The glaze dries really quickly, so spread it immediately and add any sprinkles now.
  10. Leave aside to cool thoroughly, about an hour.
  11. Enjoy!



Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to “Like” the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.





Lazy Sunday Buckwheat Pancake (Flapjack/Crumpet) Recipe

Lazy Sunday Buckwheat Pancake (Flapjack/Crumpet) Recipe

Author: Luschka
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 20 servings
  • 250g (1 cup) buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp date puree (or sugar of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
  • Optional: blackberries or other berries, cinnamon or other spices
  1. Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium heat.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together. Add date puree or sugar and stir. Add egg, milk and butter or margarine, beating well after each addition.
  3. Place tablespoons of batter around the pan – normally five or six pancakes at a time.
  4. Cook 1 to 1½ minutes, turning when edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on the surface.
  5. Continue to cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately with honey, butter or on it’s own. For a luxurious breakfast, have with cream and jam.

Be aware that blackberries in this are fantastic, but when you bite into them, they ‘burst’ and can make a bit of a mess. They also stay hot a bit longer.

Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Sugar Free Buckwheat Banana Bread Recipe

As part of my quest for gluten-free living, I’ve been experimenting with buckwheat. Baking is such a big part of my life that quite honestly, I don’t see how I can go gluten-free if I can’t bake. I’ve really enjoyed this experiment, and while I find it is more expensive to use buckwheat, there hasn’t been a huge ‘getting used to’ period where taste is concerned. It’s good, it tastes good, and it’s just as simple to work with as normal flour. It is a little gloopier, and the texture is a little grittier, but it’s a fabulous and tasty recipe.
Buckwheat Banana Bread

Recipe Type: Bread, Free From
Author: Luschka
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 9 muffins
A lovely, sugar free banana bread
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup date puree (1/3 cup dates, covered with hot water and blended)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger spices
  1. Melt the butter and set aside.
  2. Whip the bananas with a hand blender until they are smooth and airy.
  3. Add the date puree, egg, vanilla, spices and butter to the bananas.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry.
  6. Bake at 180C or 350F for about 30 minutes for cupcakes, 40-45mins for bread or cake

Gluten-free, sugar free

Easy Egg And Salmon Muffin Tin Breakfast Recipe

Easy Egg And Salmon Muffin Tin Breakfast Recipe

Recipe Type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Healthy, Kids in the Kitchen
Author: Luschka
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
This is such a lovely breakfast idea, easy for children to help with and quick to prepare. Put it all in muffin tins, pop in the oven, get everyone dressed, take it out the oven and eat. Yum yum. If you’re okay with cold egg, this will make a good lunch box snack too.
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Capers
  • Dill
  • Pepper
  • Egg
  1. Place a layer of smoked salmon into muffin tin pans
  2. Add capers, to taste
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Add dill to taste
  5. Top with egg, without breaking the yolk
  6. Place in hot oven for 10 – 12 minutes. If you’re eating it warm and want the yolk runny, cook for about 8 minutes.
  7. Remove from pan, sprinkle fresh dill and pepper (salt shouldn’t be needed as the capers and salmon are salty enough)
  8. Add a lemon wedge if you want, to garnish, and enjoy


“Chocolate” Date Ball Snack

We’re huge chocolate fans around here, to the extent that I’m sometimes a little worried about it, because it’s just not that good for us.  I found some organic, vegan, good for you chocolate bars in our local health food shop, and nice as they are, I don’t think my bank balance can handle a like-for-like replacement.

These bars have the ingredients listed on the packaging, so I thought I’d have a go at doing it myself.  The good thing is, they’re yummy, Ameli loves them and thinks they’re sweets, and they’re pretty easy to make.  The bad thing is, every time I make them they’re different because I tend to use what I have available.

So, here’s a rough go at these yummy ‘chocolatey sweets’ as Ameli calls them!

The basic ingredients are:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup oats
  • Two tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Something wet: a 1/4 cup apple juice or 2 tablespoons peanut butter, just enough to hold the batter together.
  • You can add a variety of things – nuts, dried fruit, berries

What to do:

  1. Mix everything together in a food processor or blender. You want it well mixed, but not smooth.
  2. Either roll the batter into balls, then around a plate of coconut and place in the fridge. Alternatively spread it out on a baking sheet and refridgerate.
  3. Once set, cut into squares and enjoy.

I don’t actually know how long these last. For us they last about  a day, then I have to make more!

One thing I can say about them, for sure, is that a lot less goes a lot further – a few of these are sweet enough to ‘hit the spot’ for a lot longer than normal chocolate does. With normal chocolate I need another hit in a couple of hours. With these I’m normally satisfied.  Additionally, the energy that  comes from these lasts longer and doesn’t bring a ‘crash’.

These chocolate date balls are an amazing treat – try them!

Ice Cream For Breakfast Or Desert

My daughter, Ameli, like most toddlers, loves ice cream. I don’t want to deny her the fun things in life, but I certainly don’t think she has any lack of sugar intake. I came across this recipe for frozen banana ice cream a couple of months ago, and it’s been a regular staple in our house ever since.

From time to time, if Ameli won’t have breakfast for whatever reason, I’ll just reach into the freezer for some ice cream – she’s happy, I’m happy, and a healthy breakfast is had with no fighting or fuss.

If you regularly have over ripe bananas, this is an even faster alternative to banana bread!  Rather than popping over ripe bananas in the bin, they’re cut into chunks and popped in the freezer. While some people say you can’t taste the banana, I think that depends what you mix it with – as a plain ice cream, it definitely tastes of banana.

This recipe is dairy, gluten and sugar free. Depending on what you add it can be nut free and anything else free too.


1 Banana, Frozen

Cocoa, berries, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 cup frozen mango, to taste

Feeds one toddler

1. Place your chopped and frozen banana pieces into a food processor, and blend on high. Within a minute or so it’ll become a beautiful rich and smooth consistency. Don’t over blend or it’ll become too liquid and you’ll have to freeze it again.

2. Add your additions. Blend again briefly (depending on what I’m blending, it may be useful to prepare them separately, i.e. frozen mango can be liquidised separately.

3. Serve


Extras: If we’re doing it for desert, I will sprinkle some nuts or colourful sprinkles on top. Also lovely with apple pie.