Coca Cola Beef

I found a really neat recipe on the website of The Stay At Home Mum for slow cooker Coca-cola beef.

I was like, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. I am a big fan of Coca Cola Chocolate Cake, and also using coke to make chicken as well. So I was very keen to give this a whirl.

It was so easy and really tasty.



Gravy beef

1 can of Coke

French Onion soup sachet

2 tablespoons Tomato Paste


Place the soup sachet into the slow cooker and add the diced beef. Stir until the soup mixture coats the beef. Add the coke and cook on high for 6 hours. At the 6 hour mark, stir in the tomato paste. The recipe now calls for another 2 hours on high, but I found that my meat was starting to dry out by this stage, so I would recommended either on low, or cook for less time. If you are using a bigger slow cooker, you may want to add more liquid too.


I wish I’d had potatoes because this would have been amazing served on creamy mashed potatoes. We served it on rice and it was really, really good. Princess and Babygirl wolfed it back, as did Mr T.



Going Dairy Free


Last week was Allergy Awareness week in New Zealand and, for the first time, this actually meant something to me. Because, as I have mentioned before, our little BabyGirl is allergic to all products that contain cow’s milk. So, I thought it apt that I write a little about our experiences with this, dealing with her reactions and adapting our family to suit her and her needs.

Now, I am well aware that there are far worse allergies out there. I know a child who has an allergy and/or intolerance to most everything. But, dairy products play a larger part in our diet than I ever considered it to. I mean, I’ve never been a milk drinker. So, when I was told, “no dairy”, I thought, easy. Nope.

  • How did we learn that she is allergic?

We were somewhat lucky (?!) in that BabyGirl had some relatively severe reactions very young, which meant that by the time she was starting on solids, they were able to test her pretty early on. When she was 3 months old, I decided to go swimming and left the little baby with her Daddy and a bottle of formula. Half an hour after she guzzled the entire 180ml of formula, she started vomiting. And vomiting. And, vomiting. We ended up in the emergency department at the hospital, with the little pet bringing up bile then collapsing on to me. Heartbreaking. At first, they put it down to “probably a tummy bug” and we went home in the morning.

However, a week later and Mr T and I went out for our anniversary, leaving the kids with my sister. Upon our return, the vomiting started again, and back to the hospital we went. This time they said she was clearly allergic to something in the formula, but they had no idea what.

Skip forward two months and we gingerly started giving her solid food. After a meal of custard and egg, she started wretching and screaming. And then, when BabyGirl was 7 months old, Mr T fed her some ice cream and her face flared up instantly, exactly where the ice cream had touched her skin. Bright red. We took her to the doctor that week and they did a full blood test to see exactly what we were dealing with. Frankly, we were pretty happy the day we got the phone call to say, definitely cow’s milk, because it is so much easier to manage something when you know what something is!

  • Adjusting to the Change


The biggest challenge when we were told that BabyGirl couldn’t eat dairy any more, was figuring out what had dairy in it, and what didn’t. These days, there are a lot of people who don’t eat dairy products, or who are gluten free, and product packaging reflects this. A lot of things clearly state what allergens are or might be in the product. I was advised to drop dairy from my diet as well initially as I was breastfeeding her and, while I have slowly reintroduced it for myself, it made things easier in the beginning to cut it completely for me as well. The first few times I went to the supermarket, I was there for hours. Reading every. single. label. But, months down the track, I now know a lot of foods that are “safe” for her. Some surprised me, too! Oreos, for example. They are cookies and cream, yet contain no dairy. Some products are dairy free in one brand but not in another.

I found snack food the hardest. Easy, quick foods for a little baby adjusting to solid foods were hard to come by. She couldn’t eat a lot of the rice cake-type things because they are too hard, and she couldn’t eat certain fruits and veges for the same reason. Things like fresh pasta (ravioli, etc) were my “go to” foods with the other kids, yet I couldn’t give them to BabyGirl. But, I learnt.

Another big thing that I learnt the hard way? Parties. Going to a birthday party for another little kid. When a baby is one, they want to eat what other people are eating! They want cake too! I have started making dairy free cakes and cookies when I know we have a party to go to, so I take my own little baggie with her own cake and cookies. Also, we go to a music group once a week and the kids get morning tea afterwards. Again, I take my own little baggie and that’s what BabyGirl eats.

  • Reactions and Out Growing the Allergy

We have been advised by the Pediatrician that she *should* outgrow this allergy by the age of three. It was her birthday at the beginning of this month, and though I endeavored to make the food as dairy-free as I could, a couple of dairy items got by. And, within an hour or two of her party, she had an itchy, horrible rash on her chest. That was a shock to us, as months without dairy had lulled us into the false sense that her allergy was waning. Though it is tempting to “test” her and see what reaction she might have, it only takes remembering that little dot in the hospital barely able to hold herself up due to so much vomiting, to remind us that she is not ready.

  • Educating the other kids .. and other people

Having a three year old and a four year old in the house makes suddenly banning certain foods a challenge and somewhat unfair, but again, we adapted and they learned to as well. We rarely have ice cream now, and when we do, we make sure there is sorbet for BabyGirl. The older kids have yoghurt, BabyGirl has soy yoghurt. I am learning some really great recipes for the kids to help with – last week we made dairy free chocolate chip cookies (I found dairy free chocolate chips!) which were nicer than other ones I’ve made! The kids have learned not to feed BabyGirl anything without checking with me first, and they are really good about it.

A lot of people assume it’s a lactose intolerance, or, even, my imagination. Which is funny – why would someone deliberately limit their child’s intake of nutritious food? That’s just silly. I tend to ignore these comments – believe me, I hardly have the time to conjure up false allergies for my children!


So, basically, it is what it is. Given the choice, obviously, we would prefer BabyGirl not have these allergies but she does and so we deal with it. I’ve learned a lot about products, I’m a lot more conscious about my shopping and I lived without dairy for a few months and was actually ok with it. Hopefully she outgrows this in the next few years – very few adults have food allergies so we are looking forward to that day. If it doesn’t come, that’s ok too!

And, here is the recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I mentioned, because they are awesome 🙂 And, egg free as well, if you have an egg free child!

Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup Margarine

1/2 C Sugar

1/2 C Brown Sugar

1/4 C Soy Milk

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 tsp Salt

2 1/4 C Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

Chocolate Chips (Dairy Free)

Cream the margarine and sugars until fluffy. Slowly add the soy milk and vanilla and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients and add them into the creamed mixture. Add the chocolate chips. Roll onto a baking tray in small balls, bake in a preheated oven (180C) until they are slightly browned (about 8 mins). They will be quite soft when they come out but this makes them super chewy later on!


100% awesomely magical cookies! Pow!


She’s Dairy Free, but she’s still pretty amazing!







Pork Satay. And A One-Pot Pasta Fail.

One Pot Pasta. The new “in” thing to cook. Scouring through Pinterest, there are loads of stunning photos with accompanying recipes for this new craze – you cook everything in the one pot, including the DRY PASTA!!! You what?! That’s crazy talk! How could I resist giving it a go?!

Well ….

Have a look at this stunning photo – don’t these ingredients look a-mah-zing in the pot?


Oh, look at those fresh, yummo ingredients. Mmmmm mmmmm. This is gonna be a cinch! I’m gonna cook this every. night.

Well ….

Mr T is often telling me I should pay more attention to recipes. I like to wing it, I like to throw things in and hope the hit the target of a nice meal. Most of the time, they do. So, I went into this, guns blazing. I read a couple of recipes and thought, “right. Got the general idea”.

I did not have the general idea.

I put all the ingredients into the pot and covered them with a combination of chicken stock and water. Set it to boil for 10 minutes, checked the pasta. Nearly done. Another 6 minutes. Done.


Well, I’m not sure why I was surprised. It really was a pot of veges and pasta, cooked in the same water. So, they all tasted the same. Not a lot of flavour, just bland boiled veges. Hmmm. Seems I missed a vital point in this – seasonings! Sigh. I divided out some for BabyGirl then tried to rescue the meal by tipping in a can of evaporated milk and some cheese. It made it palatable, though definitely not tasty by any stretch of the imagination. That heavens this wasn’t the only thing I had for dinner. The rubbish bin was well fed that night!

Alas, tonight I decided to be a little less adventurous. I had some trim diced pork and decided to make a pork satay of sorts. I also had lots of fresh veges that I wanted to incorporate. I made up the marinade and had the pork sit for a few hours in the fridge, which made the flavour really nice.

Pork Satay



Peanut Butter

Soy Sauce

Brown Sugar

Veges – I used cabbage, carrot, broccoli and mushroom


Mix together the ingredients for the satay marinade. Coat the pork and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Dice up the veges and combine with the pork in a deep frying pan. I added a little bit of water at this point to kick of the “steam” effect, then put the lid on the pan and let it simmer. The sauce from the pork seeped slowly into the veges while the water steamed them. Let it simmer away for around 20-30mins. I served it on brown rice (well, beside brown rice, thanks to BoyChild turning off the rice cooker midway through, resulting in the rice cooking much after the rest of the meal).



Really, really nice. Good, wholesome food. I chopped up some jalapenos into mine because I really fancy spicy food at the moment. Just a simply delicious meal.

And this, ladies and gents, is why I need to go back to basics. This is the kind of meal I love, and my family love 🙂 On with the show!



Happy Birthday, Mr T! And Happy Takeaway Day!

Well, we did it. 35 days of No Takeaways. Tonight, we got our celebratory meal of fish and chips, and it was pretty darn good, I won’t lie.


Followed by a lovely dessert of dairy-free chocolate cake, iced by Princess herself


And, we didn’t even mind that, in her enthusiasm, she dropped the cake clean on the floor. Messy on the floor? Either way, we had a lovely dessert of floor-cake and it was good.

As we ate our dinner, we reflected on 35 days of No Takeaways. I am really, really proud of the effort we have made, and it is something that I am definitely determined to continue in the future. Have we saved money? I’m sure we have, though I have no idea how much.

Best of all, I walk away today having learned so much about myself, cooking and food in general.

I have learned

  • How to make a chicken stock
  • How to make risotto
  • How to cook sauces without using packets
  • How important potatoes and onions are in our diet
  • How to adapt a recipe to fit based on ingredients
  • How to convince my husband that real food really is better than takeaways
  • How to cook a complete meal on 3 hours sleep, and then blog about it
  • How to engage a 4 year old in cooking meals, and
  • How to get a 4 year old eating things she normally wouldn’t touch

I’m sure there is much more that I can’t think of right now (still on 3 hours sleep but YAY, BabyGirl’s tooth came through!), but at the end of the day, I did it, and that is something I am very, very proud of.

Tomorrow, I start afresh. Because, I have a freezer full of potential meals, a cupboard full of ingredients and components, a family who need food and an enthusiasm for cooking like I’ve never had before. I challenge each of you to try something like this. See how far YOU can go without buying takeaways, and let me know!

And, of course, because I wouldn’t feel right leaving you without a recipe, here is the recipe for the Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake that we made for Mr T’s birthday tonight.

Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

2 C Sugar

1 C Cocoa

2 C Flour

2 t Baking Soda

1/3 C Oil

2 eggs

2 t Vanilla Essence

2 C Water

Add all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and combine. Mix in a separate bowl all of the wet ingredients, whisk then add to the dry ingredients. Combine and bake for about 45-60 minutes on 150C. We iced with basic buttercream (margarine beaten until nearly white, then mixed with icing sugar) and lots and lots of sprinkles.

A delicious, heavy, rich chocolate cake. Yummo!



Day #35 – Chicken and Bacon on Turkish Bread

Today is it. The last day of our No Takeaway Challenge! It’s funny, really – all day I’ve been thinking of it as though it’s my last day to cook food. Obviously my kids will still need feeding so it’s not as though I’m hanging up my apron for good. No, don’t cry .. come on .. there, there, I’ll still be here .. it’s ok … shhhhhhh.

I wanted to go out with a bang today, cooking a spectacular meal that showcased all that I’ve learned over the past 35 days. But, then today happened. Teething, sore tummy, I’ve no idea what but BabyGirl had 3 hours sleep last night. THREE HOURS. We had a lovely time, her and I, between 12:41am and 2:43am. Just swell. And so, no. No grand meal. No great culinary experience. Rather, a good ol’ fashioned, dash-into-the-supermarket-and-grab-while-dragging-three-kids-along meal. Inspired, I’m not ashamed to say, by KFC. We walked past on the way to the supermarket and in the window was a sign advertising a chicken burger in ciabatta. Great idea, I exclaimed to the window. I shall do that.

And thus, I give you, Chicken and Bacon on Turkish Bread.

Now, I will be 100% honest and say that I used frozen chicken patties tonight. I weighed up getting those vs chicken breast and crumbing it myself and the patties were considerably cheaper, not to mention quicker. So, there it is.

Chicken and Bacon on Turkish Bread


Chicken patties




Turkish Bread or Ciabatta

(Note the cranberry sauce in the picture. I wanted to add that too but when I tasted it I realised it had gone bad. Sad story, no cranberry sauce in the burger)

Cook the bacon and the chicken patties. Dice the mushrooms and cook with a little butter (margarine for dairy free). Build the “burger” as per your tastes – I sliced the bread in two (I got a pack of 4 small Turkish breads) and put the chicken, then mushrooms, bacon and salad.



Perfect, exactly what I felt like. Easy, filling and tasty. Win.

Wow, that’s it, then. I did it. 35 days of no takeaways. I’ve learned so much, I can’t wait to blog about it all. Tomorrow. Because, right now, I’m off to put my feet up with my husband – it is, after all, his birthday tomorrow 😀


Day #33 – Coca Cola Chicken (& Coca Cola Chocolate Cake)

I am not a big drinker, I’m not a smoker and I don’t tend to gamble aside from the occasional Lotto ticket. My vice? Soft drink. I know, I know, it’s not great for me. I don’t let the kids drink it and I tend to stick to the diet varieties. And so, Coca Cola chicken was pretty appealing to me. I have, in the past, made a wicked awesome Coca Cola chocolate cake (I have included that recipe also because mentioning it and not giving you the recipe? That’s just plain mean!) and I love it.

Princess thought it was hilarious that we added Coke to the cooking. She laughed as she poured it in, and couldn’t wait to tell her Daddy what the funny ingredient was that we added! So, here you have, Coca Cola Chicken. When scouring the internet for recipes, there were basically two ways of cooking this – one was a slow, 2-hour cook in the oven, and the other was a 30 minute stove-top version. I opted for the longer, oven-cooked one because having three pre-schoolers generally makes standing over a hot stove quite a challenge, you could say.

Coca Cola Chicken


Chicken (I used chicken drumsticks, skin on)

about 500ml Coca Cola (all the recipes online indicate that Coke Zero, Diet Coke or cheaper brand alternatives don’t work in this recipe because of the sugar content)

1 C Brown Sugar

2 T Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper

2 Onions, chopped


In a deep casserole dish, combine all of the ingredients and then put the chicken on top of the sauce. Bake in the oven for 2 hours at 180C. Really, that easy. You can thicken the sauce at the end with cornflour if you want, but I chose not to. I served it over couscous and frozen mixed veges.



Before Princess got the chance to tell Mr T what was in it, he was exclaiming how amazingly delicious the chicken was! He was quite amused to hear that it was Coca Cola, and he devoured his plate. This was a very sweet dish, I think if I were to cook it again I would reduce the amount of brown sugar. Also, when I started cooking this the house was overpowered with the smell of onion and I was worried that it would overpower the taste but it didn’t – if anything, you need the onion to balance out the sweetness. This was such an easy, awesome dinner to cook, will definitely be doing it again.

And, as promised, Coca Cola Chocolate Cake

Coca Cola Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 C Flour

2 C Brown Sugar

3/4 C Cocoa

2 t Baking Soda

1 t Baking Powder

2 Eggs

1/2 C Oil

1 C Coca Cola (again, must be the real stuff, not diet or zero)

1 C Trim Milk

1 t Vanilla Esscense

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and beat in a mixer until combined. Use a silicon cake dish for this cake, or line your springform cake pan very well as this mixture is VERY wet and runny!

Bake at 180C until cooked through, often 45 minutes or slightly more.

This cake is brilliant for making the famous “M&M” cake. Or just for a nice, fudgey cake without the cost of butter and chocolate.

These are some that I’ve made in the past – this is making me want to make the cake again! Mmmmmm on nom nom nom …





Day #32 – Nachos

Tonight, as I do every night, I gathered up the components of our dinner-to-be and placed them on to the bench. Princess skipped into room and asked, “Mum? What are we cooking for tea tonight?”. I looked at the array of ingredients and said to her, “Why don’t you try to guess what we are having?”.

Now, we have had nachos a lot in the past, so I assumed it would be a quick and painless game. Of course, one simply cannot assume anything when it involves a 4 year old girl.


Princess leaned on the bench, chin in hand, and tilted her head while she poked and looked through the ingredients.

“Ah-ha!” she exclaimed. “We are having .. a salad!”.

“No, not a salad – the onion is the only vegetable! Try again”.

“I know! An onion pie!” An onion pie? I don’t even want to think what an onion pie would be like. “Try again”

*long, pondering pause, with many hmmms and uuuummmmmms*

“I KNOW! I KNOW! For dinner, we are having a chippie-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese!”

Spot on.

And here you have, Chippie-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese. Or, Nachos, if you prefer.


Corn Chips


Can of Pasta Sauce

Can of Chilli Beans




Sour Cream

Brown the onion (diced, of course) and garlic in a pan for a couple of minutes and then add in the mince. Cook until completely brown throughout then add the tomato pasta sauce. At this point I reserve part of the mixture for the kids, as they don’t like nor appreciate the medium-heat chilli beans! Add in the chilli beans and let the mixture simmer on low heat. The longer, the better! Put the corn chips into an oven tray and cover with grated cheese (obviously I left a part uncovered as I don’t eat cheese). Grill for 5-10 minutes, until the chips are crispy and the cheese is melted. Not too long, mine went a bit black tonight. Whoops. To plate up, put some of the chips onto a plate, and then top with the mince mixture. Add more grated cheese and sour cream if you choose.


Great as always. The chips are a favourite in our house, even buying Chilli and Lime flavour (the only flavour without dairy in it) doesn’t turn the kids away. Plus, they add a really nice taste to the dish. Mr T worked until after 6pm today and when he walked in and saw his towering plate of nachos, his eyes lit up and he said he was drooling.

It’s true what they say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And chippies-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese is the dish for the job ♥