Thursday, 22 March 2012

.Batch cooking saves my hide - literally!.

I'm going to let you in on a little tip that's been making my life a lot easier lately.

When school went back this year I was in a very bad habit of purchasing snacks to put in the kids lunchboxes.  I don't have anything against purchased snacks, we eat them all the time.  But I did feel a bit guilty when I was putting up to three purchased, packaged snacks in their lunches every day.   

Of course, the kids loved it!  But I love cooking, I love to bake and I love sending them off with something that I've made especially for them.

There were a few problems...
1.  I'd make a batch of cookies/cake/slice and they would run out faster than they should have so I'd find myself needing to bake more and more to keep up with the hungry tummies.
2.  We would quickly get over the baked goods and stop eating them and end up throwing half of the batch in the rubbish.
3.  I would eat WAY too many and didn't like them sitting on the bench tempting me 24/7!

So, I came up with a very simple solution which is solving all of the problems - BATCH COOKING.

It saves my hide (in more ways than one) every day.  Now when I am baking something, I make sure I cook a double batch.  Keep enough out on the bench to last only a couple of days and throw the rest into a big snap-lock bag and put them in the freezer - easy!  I started with a couple of different biscuit varieties and make sure that I bake another batch when they are getting lowish.  It's great having a variety in the freezer so that the kids don't get sick of the same thing every day and keeping them in the freezer means that I'm not even a tiny bit tempted to eat them.

If you're feeling a bit frazzled and spending too much money on packaged snacks, then do some batch cooking - you'll feel happy every morning when you're doing the school lunch making rush and dive into the freezer instead of the pantry for snacks.  Here are a few good recipes to get you started, I'll share more as I make them and experiment with freezing!

(Post-edit...I've been freezing my biscuits AFTER cooking/icing so all I have to do is pull exactly what I need from the freezer and pop them into lunchboxes.  They defrost by morning tea time and haven't had any issues with them going soggy or soft yet!)

Honey Jumbles

For biscuits
85g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For icing
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
20g butter, melted
2 Tbs boiling water

Combine butter, honey and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes or until butter has melted.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.  Transfer to large bowl.
Sift flour, bicarb, mixed spice and cinnamon over butter mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead for 1 minute or until smooth.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Roll 2 level teaspoons of mixture into balls and place on baking paper-lined trays, 3cm apart.  Flatten slightly.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch.  Cool on trays for 5 minutes.  Cool and spread with icing.
To make icing:
Sift icing sugar into bowl.  Stir in butter and water until icing is a smooth, spreadable consistency.  Add more water if necessary.
Apricot and Sultana Cookies

 1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup sultanas
150g butter, chopped
2 Tbs golden syrup
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Combine flour, oats, sugar, apricots and sultanas in a large bowl.
Combine butter, syrup, bicarb and 1 Tbs cold water in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until butter has melted.  
Carefully add butter mixture to oat mixture.  Stir until well combined.
Place level tablespoons of mixture on trays, allowing room for spreading.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch.  
Chocolate Anzac Biscuits
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup raw sugar
125g butter, chopped
2 Tbs golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g white chocolate, melted
100g milk chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Combine oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a large bowl.
Place butter, syrup and 2 Tbs cold water in a saucepan.  Stir for 3-4 minutes over medium heat or until butter has melted.  Remove from heat and stir in bicarb.
Stir butter mixture into oat mixture.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls.  Place on trays, 3cm apart.  Use a fork to flatten slightly.
Bake for 15-16 minutes or until golden.  Cool.
Take melted white and milk chocolate and drizzle over biscuits.  Allow chocolate to set.


Carmel Morris said...

I have been having much the same problem. I think part of it is that I feel motivated to make more when we already have enough too.

Are you freezing biscuits that you have already baked? Do the biscuits have the same texture after they have been frozen?

I may need to try some of your biscuits!

Kate Anderson said...

Are the biscuits still good nee they have been frozen or are they soggy?

Fran said...

My sentiments exactly re. the filling the lunch boxes with shop bought snacks, but I've really lost my baking mojo lately though. Those honey jumbles look and sound so delish. I can feel some baking coming on!

Rebecca said...

Wow thanks for those great recipes, I can't wait to try them out. The weather here has just turned a bit colder so we are all itching to do some warm baking and eating! warm drinks and yummy treats perfect!

Nicia said...

I'm over in the states, and can I just say, I LOVE reading the differences in our lingo! Bicarbonate of soda (I'm guessing it's baking soda), tea time (I'm guessing it might be lunch time?), biscuits (cookies), rubbish (trash), lots more I was reading...I just love it! Those cookies look delicious too! I will have to try them out sometime. ...after I do a google search for converting grams and making sure I know what bicarbonate of soda is and such! :)

Ange Moore said...

I made the Honey Jumble Buttons and Choc Chip Cookies from SFI magazine when school started and have to make my second batch this week - going to try the cranberry museli bars and the sultana apricot biscuits this time! Yummo!

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