gingerbread christmas cookies

gingerbread cookiesgingerbread cookies

It just wouldn’t be christmas without a big batch of wonderfully fragrant gingerbread cookies in the house.

The heady scent of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg wafting from the oven as these little babies bake is pure festive joy and I am delighted to be ending the year with this perfect baby led weaning holiday treat.

These cookies are not like most gingerbread biscuits, they are much softer, with a gorgeously chewy texture thanks to the use of almond meal instead of flour and are perfectly suited for little ones to nibble on with ease.  The dates studded throughout the dough give the cookies sweetness along with the help of a little golden syrup.  These cookies are also sugar and gluten free making them a great treat to have on hand for those with dietary requirements.

And in the midst of holiday madness I am so pleased to tell you these gingerbread christmas cookies are an absolute breeze to prepare and can easily be whipped up with a little one nestled by your side.  The best part of this recipe for the kids is cutting out the cookies using an array of different christmas shapes.  Today Miss G. and I went with the obligatory gingerbread man as well as a lovely little christmas tree and star.  Miss G. loved pressing each cutter into the date flecked golden dough and was amazed to see the shapes appear.

After a short trip to the oven we decorated the golden gingerbread cookies with a little white chocolate and ate quickly after.  We did however manage to save a few for Santa Claus.

As mentioned earlier this will be my last recipe for 2013.  We are going to spend the holidays enjoying the sun, sand, beach, hot long balmy days and perfectly ripe mangoes.  Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your very busy lives to visit my lovely little lunch box and share in our cooking and baby led weaning adventure.  From the bottom of my heart I hope you all have a wonderful, love filled, peaceful and joyful holiday with your loved ones x

To create these wonderfully wholesome sugar-free gingerbread christmas cookies simply…

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pistachio & cherry bundt cake

cherry pistachio bundt cake

cherry pistachio bundt cake

Our christmas baking is well and truly in full swing.

With little Miss G. by my side, we’ve been busy little kitchen bees baking all of our adored festive delights.

Amongst the mess we’ve managed to conjure up a gorgeous batch of deep dark intense christmas choc puddings, a tray or two of jewel adorned christmas cookies and of course a mega slab of marshmallow spiked rocky road.

Surrounded by a kitchen full of sugar laden, choc filled, once a year treats I decided we needed a little balance and opted to bake a more modest cake, filled with festive fruit and a little nourishing wholesome goodness.

The result was this christmas inspired pistachio and cherry cake and I just had to share it with you.

This little darling is just gorgeous.  The pistachio meal turns this cake the most gorgeous shade of festive green whilst giving the cake a dense, moist and tender crumb.  And thanks to the intense heat of the oven, the cherries studded throughout the batter caramelise to jammy perfection and create little pockets of sweet cherry jam throughout the cake.

You’ll also be happy to know that this baby led weaning friendly cake is sugar free thanks to the use of my newly found friend, agave syrup.  I used a mere half a cup of the amazingly sweet nectar in the batter because my cherries were already so wonderfully sweet.  I also made a few baby friendly, health conscious adjustments to the original recipe by using olive oil and yoghurt instead of butter and replacing refined flour with wholemeal.

To create a little opulence I decided to bake this little baby in a decorative bundt tin but a round or loaf cake tin would be fine also, and much less stressful.  If you do choose to travel down the more decorative tin route ensure that you generously grease the pan with either oil or butter, getting into every nook and cranny so that the baked cake will slide out with ease.

The only adornment this cake requires is the lightest dusting of icing sugar along with a small sprinkle of finely chopped pistachio nuts.

To create this cherry studded pistachio bundt cake of pure gorgeousness simply…

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ultimate roasted vegetables

ultimate roast vegesultimate roast veges

Even though we celebrate Christmas in the middle of an Australian summer, gorgeous golden crispy roasted vegetables are still a must on our festive table.  But rather than enjoying them straight from the oven I opt to bake them Christmas eve and serve them at room temperature along with a cool crunchy zesty salad of greens for a much lighter christmas lunch.

Over the years and thanks to the genius of Jamie Oliver my roast vegetables have evolved into divine little babies that are wonderfully fluffy in the middle and gorgeously golden and crispy on the outside.  The secret to creating the ultimate roast vege is to parboil the starchy vegetables prior to roasting.

Once the vegetables are parboiled, I drain them and as instructed by Jamie give them a good shake to break up the surface of the vegetables in order to create super crispy, gorgeous golden edges.  I then pop the manhandled vegetables onto a baking tray along with a few greens, a big handful of garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh herbs and a good drizzle of olive oil.

After a good hour or so in the oven the vegetables are pure perfection.  Golden, crispy edges with a light fluffy soft interior.

To ensure these little darlings are baby led weaning appropriate I didn’t season the vegetables whatsoever this year and opted to cut the vegetables into rather large chunky pieces so that teeny tiny little hands would be able to pick them up and nibble away with ease.

To create the ultimate roast veges for your christmas supper simply…

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festive zucchini choc brownies

festive zucchini choc browniesfestive zucchini choc brownies

I love to bake chocolate brownies.

Especially around the holidays.

This year, however, my brownie recipe has been given a fabulous wholesome make over in order to perfectly suit those lovely little hands it will surely find its way into.

This delicious recipe is wonderful not only because it contains vegetables but its free of butter, uses wholemeal flour and thanks to my new found friend agave syrup, is now sugar free.

And keeping with todays health conscious theme, today I opted to forgo the usual cup or so of chocolate chips I would normally stir through the batter and instead used a teeny tiny 40 gram bar of wonderful antioxidant rich dark chocolate to scatter over the top of the brownie.  The results are sublime!  The deep dark brownie is so amazingly rich that it really only needed the smallest hint of chocolate and because of the brownies decadence the tiniest square makes the perfect serve, so this festive treat goes very far!

Please allow me to talk a little about the zucchini.  I beg you not to be put off thinking the zucchini chocolate mix is some weird and wacky combination.  Its truly not.  The zucchini strewn throughout the batter is devoid of any flavour and is there only to add a gorgeous moistness to the brownie crumb.  It also adds to the depth of the brownie creating a gorgeous dense texture.

For a baby led weaning holiday treat these little zucchini choc brownie babies are perfection.

To create these festive zucchini choc brownies simply…

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maple sweet potato loaf

maple sweet potato loafmaple sweet potato loaf

Poor little Miss G. had her 12 month vaccinations today.

Gosh it broke my heart.

Luckily for both of us the process is over as quickly as it begins and after a big cry we enjoy plenty of cuddles and both start to feel better once again.

Knowing that I could have a fussy little one on my hands this afternoon I decided to get up a little early and stir together this super simple sweet potato loaf spiked with maple, vanilla, orange and array of lovely festive spices.

Returning home from the Doctor it was a pleasure to walk into a house smelling of just baked christmas goodness.

Miss G. did quite well all considered and with a big smile sat down to enjoy her morning tea of fresh pear wedges and a little slice of sweet potato loaf.

To create this lovely maple sweet potato loaf simply…

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festive pasta salad

festive pasta saladfestive pasta salad

I love this time of year.

The air is filled with the scent of just cut grass, the market shelves are groaning under the weight of mangoes, cherries and stone fruit and afternoons are spent escaping the hot sun in the back yard wading pool.

The long hot summer days leading up to Christmas are just wonderful.

summer days

During the summer months I love to take full advantage of this beautiful weather so we usually begin our day with a huge walk around the park, building up a sweat, breathing in the fresh air and soaking in the early morning still tolerable sun.

Returning home we dive into our summertime breakfast of mango smoothies, alongside a little stone fruit and toast and then the summer times fun begins.

With a one year old on my hands, keeping little Miss entertained and busy through the extra long days is challenging so I usually devise a rough plan or to do list for the day and travel around an array of fun little activities I have set up.

We spend the day playing, reading books, riding trikes, enjoying the park playground and our favourite summer past time swimming in the pool.

Tuckered out from all of the action, Miss G. usually winds down for a early afternoon nap which gives me a chance to run around like a mad woman and accomplish a few chores and hopefully get onto dinner.  I love to get dinner done and out of the way before evening rolls around.  I find the more relaxed I am around bed time, the easy little miss is to get to sleep.

Thanks to a few extra loads of washing today I didn’t quite get to dinner before Miss G. was awake.  So with my lovely little helper by my side I put together this super simple pasta salad of perfectly aldente calice, fresh juicy tomatoes, punchy herbs, olives and creamy bocconcini all smothered in a gorgeous basil pesto dressing.

This pasta salad is a family favourite and the perfect salad to serve christmas day.  It’s fresh, light, full of flavour, easy to prepare and a complete crowd pleaser.

To create this wonderfully fragrant pasta salad perfect for the entire family simply…

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gingerbread muffins

gingerbread muffinsgingerbread muffins

The expression says it all.

These little christmas inspired gingerbread babies are scrumptious.

As I mentioned earlier this week, leading up to the holidays, I will be bringing you a gorgeous collection of classic christmas recipes that have been tweaked, reworked and modified to be perfect festive baby led weaning meals, snacks and treats and todays recipe are these beautiful gingerbread muffins.

Gingerbread cookies are the quintessential festive treat but unfortunately for the little ones they’re chock full of sugar and pretty hard for tiny mouths to get around.  Not to mention quite fiddly to prepare. So not to miss out I decided to put all of the festive gingerbread cookie goodness into a batch of wholesome, sugar free, totally good for you muffins.

I started with my usual muffin batter of wholemeal flour, yoghurt, olive oil, eggs and vanilla and for a little sweetness added a generous drizzle of golden syrup and two grated fuji apples.  And to echo the heady warm depth and festive aromas of gingerbread cookies I added the amazing spice mix of a little ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and a pinch of cloves.

As these little darlings baked to golden perfection in the oven they filled the house with the aromas of christmas cheer.  They smell amazing!

Whilst taking a few snaps of the just baked muffins Miss G. edged her way through to sneak an early nibble.  Seems she just couldn’t wait.  And I understand why.  When we sat to enjoy our late breakfast of a fresh from the oven gingerbread muffin and wedges of rockmelon I couldn’t believe how fragrant, tender, soft and moist the gingerbread muffins were.  The apple not only seemed to add a gorgeous sweetness to the batter but kept the muffin moist and very tender.

I will be baking these gingerbread muffins again christmas morning.  They are the perfect light festive breakfast before the christmas lunch feast begins.

To bake a gorgeous batch of these amazingly fragrant gingerbread muffins simply…

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