Monthly Archives: June 2014

Veggie Muffins

Sometimes I wonder whether Icklegen is getting enough veg in her diet. There are times when she will happily tuck into broccoli spears and green beans, and others when she turns her nose up at everything I put in front of her.P1020136

So, I do resort to disguising and hiding veg in unsuspecting locations. And one of my favourite, and most successful, attempts to-date has to be Veggie Muffins. This recipe manages to stuff a phenomenal amount of healthy veg (grated carrots, pumpkin and courgette/zucchini) into a savoury cake base. And the resulting muffins taste pretty good too, especially warm from the oven with a extra dab of butter and some cheese; otherwise, they can be a bit on the bland side.P1020130

Ickle and I often make a batch together. She loves to eat her veggie muffins warm or cold, and I occasionally pop one in her lunch box as an alternative to a sandwich.P1020125P1020124

Note: I’m still experimenting with the baking time, as my batches seem to take a whole lot longer than 20 minutes to cook through. Maybe it’s just my oven.

Sparkly Snowflake

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It’s wintertime here in Oz. The first snow has fallen in Perisher, one of Australia’s best-known ski resorts, located in the aptly-named Snowy Mountains of NSW. And it’s June, which for me was, and still is, the start of summer. I can’t seem to get my head around winter in June, despite living in the southern hemisphere for 5 years. Especially with warm sunny weather such as we enjoyed last weekend. Surfers were out in force at Catherine Hill Bay, and Ickle decided to have an impromptu dip in the ocean, fully-clothed.

In the true spirit of the season, however, we have organised a ‘Winter Wonderland’ themed party for our end-of-term playgroup session this week. Ickle will be going as a snowflake, complete with a gorgeous mini white tutu. And we’ll be making snowflakes too. Not the traditional white sort, but sparkly ones in a variety of rainbow hues. So, Ickle and I had a test run.P1020231P1020232

First, I prepared the lolly stick (paddle pop) stick templates while Ickle slept. I played around with them a bit as you can see. Multi-pronged Jenga. Almost.P1020237

Then, with Ickle super-excited to find a craft activity laid out ready and waiting for her after her nap, we got down to the serious business of glueing and sprinkling glitter confetti. Absolutely everywhere. I’m sure I’ll be finding little bits and pieces in strange places for weeks to come.P1020239

But, it was fun, and easy, and the end result looks pretty good too.P1020255P1020257

 

 

Expedition Cupcake

Icklegen loves cupcakes, there’s no escaping it. I only have to mention the word “bakery” and a little voice announces “cupcake” with great certainty in return. We have now established that, on most occasions, Mummy is only going to purchase a loaf of bread or a couple of rolls, but the local cupcake offering – a very large one, topped with pink icing and covered in sprinkles – is always in temptation’s way, right where little eyes can see it.

Far from being mean about treats, I do let Ickle indulge from time to time. There’s nothing like a mummy with a sweet tooth for being so understanding. So, when I discovered there was a specialist cupcake shop and café in Wyong, about a 30-minute drive away from here, I knew I had the recipe for a fun girls’ expedition.P1020181

Kiss My Cupcake is located at the start of Alison Road, just off the Pacific Highway. It’s been open for a couple of years now, but unless you are a local, or someone with a cupcake obsession, it’s unlikely you will have stumbled on it. The interior is styled along retro lines, dominated by a vintage floral couch, but the end result looks more stark and functional than plush and cosy. Although, arriving to an empty café late morning last Saturday doesn’t assist in the atmosphere stakes. Isn’t 11 am cupcake o’clock? Not in Wyong, obviously. However, a team of girls were hard at work making goodies in the vast kitchen behind the counter, which I found reassuring.P1020194P1020192

Service was amateur, but well-meaning. My flat white lacked in presentation, but made up for it with a beautiful smooth flavour. And Ickle’s babycino was a passable first attempt from our waitress, despite being more milk than foam. The real stars of the show in this place, though, are the cupcakes. They are freshly baked on site each day, and beautifully displayed on old fashioned cake stands. And you really are spoilt for choice, especially on Friday and Saturday when a fuller range is on offer.P1020197P1020195

I opted for a vanilla cupcake, which combined a plain, not-too-sweet sponge with deliciously light pink frosting, while Ickle was immediately drawn to a white chocolate cake pop* decorated with pink sprinkles. Not being an expert on these tiny gems on sticks, I managed to negotiate a small sample from her before she devoured the rest in record time. And then requested several spoonfuls of my pink frosting in return.P1020183P1020184

And while we sat there, a slow but steady trickle of customers arrived. Not for coffee, but for the cupcakes; generally a mixed box of six. And passing by a couple of hours later after a run around in the local park, quite a few seats were occupied and the little place had a bit of a buzz about it. Maybe cupcake o’clock is closer to 1 pm on Saturday in Wyong.

*Cake pop: these chocolate-coated treats are typically filled with a rich mixture of cake crumbs and frosting. Yummy.

Warnies

Just a quick hop from the M1 Pacific motorway, Warnervale is home to a range of acreages, a small aerodrome, a couple of private high schools, a railway station, and very little else. There are ambitious plans afoot to construct a brand new town centre in the near future, however, as well as build a Chinese theme park, complete with Tang and Song Academy and Thanksgiving Temple. But, for the time being at least, the lead contender for the place’s social hub has to be Warnies Café.

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Nothing to do with the famous Australian cricketer of the same name*, Warnies is conveniently located next to Warnervale’s train station in a building that once belonged to the local station master. It’s an attractive federation-style building, comprising both a general store, with a vast range of chocolate and sweets (or lollies, as they say over here), and a café/takeaway.

Inside especially, Warnies is a quirky place with mismatched chairs and tables, granny’s crocheted blankets slung over comfy old couches, and an assortment of vintage tea cups and saucers. But it works, and not just by catering to ladies in search of a quintessential afternoon tea experience.P1020159

It’s the ideal place to take your littlies, too! There’s a huge, grassy lawn off the main road, with various farm animals kept behind enclosures on the far side. This time, disappointingly, there were just a few chooks and a rather dishevelled miniature pony who made Ickle run for cover as soon as he approached us.P1020168P1020176

We spent most of our visit in the lovely little wooden playground. And there’s plenty of outdoor seating nearby, so, if the kids are willing, you can sip a coffee and munch on a muffin while they expend their energy and excitement in your clear view. And, being a café, of course, there are a fair few treats on offer for the little ones too, including the most enormous cookies you are ever likely (not) to offer them.P1020149P1020143

The takeaway menu serves up classic fare, such as bacon-and-egg rolls, burgers, chips, and the like. There’s another, more expensive, menu for eating in, including many of the takeaway options plus a few more, and daily specials too. It’s not fancy, wow-amazing food by a long stretch, but the prices are fairly reasonable, as are the portion sizes. And, when we were there – on a quiet Friday morning – it all arrived in good time.P1020146

* Shane Warne aka Warnie: famous Australian cricketer, also known for promoting hair-loss treatment and his highly-mediatised relationship with Liz Hurley.