The golden rule in our house is that Mama doesn’t make 2 meals in one night. No kiddie dinners. I believe this is why my kids are so easy to feed now. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had to suffer through the odd tantrum or Mexican standoff over the years, but now that they’re completely out of the little kid stage, our kids enjoy a vast range of foods (Master 8 is a champion foodie!) and eat their veggies happily. It is a great source of relief to me that my kids are not picky, nor do they have sensory issues with food.

Vegetable soup is, oddly, a huge winner in our house. Master 8 loves it, Spunky Tech Guy and I love it, but no one loves it more than Miss 5, who asks for it almost weekly.

Simple, healthy, cheap and tasty - this ticks all the boxes!
Simple, healthy, cheap and tasty – this ticks all the boxes!

If you’re looking for a healthy, tasty, quick and super cheap meal that the kids will love, look no further. It’s nothing fancy or unique, and it actually seems ridiculous to provide the recipe, but so many of my parent-friends are astounded by my kids’ love for this soup, that maybe jotting it down isn’t such a bad idea. It’s been adapted from multiple sources, and perhaps it’ll work for you, too. This guideline yields about 4 adult serves, and freezes like a dream, so make double.

A marvelous tumble of healthy veggies makes this mum's heart sing
A marvelous tumble of healthy veggies makes this mum’s heart sing

1tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced. (Ha! Who am I kidding? 2tsp from a jar is fine)

1 red capsicum, roughly chopped (bullhorn peppers work well as a slightly more fiery substitute)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 tomatoes, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

300g peeled potatoes, diced (eh. About 3 small potatoes, or a large and a medium. Don’t’ stress, it’s a forgiving soup.)

2 onions, peeled and chopped. 

1.5 litres good quality chicken stock

I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by properly writing out a method. Heat the oil, saute the veggies and garlic for a few minutes, add the stock, and cook for about 25 minutes, partially covered, until everything is tender. Then pop it all in a blender, or attack it with a stick blender (my preferred method, at least, it was before I accidentally cooked the cord) until it looks like soup. No cream needed; the potatoes provide a guilt-free creaminess that is just divine. A good crack of black pepper, and you’re home and hosed.

I really prefer a stick blender, but I set mine on fire, so this will have to do!
I really prefer a stick blender, but I set mine on fire, so this will have to do!

Got some time under your hat? My favourite way to serve these is with a Moroccan bread that Spunky Tech Guy adores, and if I’m really feeling the Middle Eastern vibe, I heat a drained can of chickpeas into the soup for 5 minutes or so (after I’ve blended it, of course).

And there you have it – the easiest way to squeeze veggies into your little people.



Do you want to eat a snowman?

As a general rule, there is no place for boxed cake mixes in my life. However, Miss 4 received the coolest Olaf brownie kit from her awesome great-grandmother, and we both knew it just had to happen.

Thanks, MaMa!

And happen it did.

Our little egg-cracking extraordinaire made the mixture, smooshed the brownie slab into crumbs (there is a reason we call her Smoosh more often than her real name!), shaped them into balls, and rolled them into white chocolate and crystalised sugar, to make the funkiest Snowman brownies in town.

Her aunt assumed by a facebook post that she was making a mess. She was right!
Her aunt assumed by a facebook post that she was making a mess. She was right!

Oh, the praise she received from the men in her life. No wonder she likes cooking! I wish I could have men gushing at me for making a box cake!

And, because we’re an extremely classy and mature lot, these delectable desserts aren’t, in fact, known as Snowman brownies or Olaf cakes or Frozen balls or anything like that.

No. Tonight we supped on Butt Brownies.


5 star butt brownies!
5 star butt brownies!

From Master 7, who donned them Butt Brownies:

They looked like Olaf from Disney’s Frozen.My rating is 5 stars <3.


**NB: Everything from Master 7 gets either 5 or 2 stars. Almost everything gets 5 stars. My very best efforts, or a jam sandwich on crappy white bread I slap together to keep the kids from starving to death. A 2 star dish is usually the kind of experimental meal that is so inedible, we end up ordering a pizza. Miss 4’s scale is 5 out of 10 for her favourites, or 2 out of 5 for a dish that comes with a side of last-minute take-out. She starts kindy next fortnight, she’s not so crash hot with fractions and conversions just yet.


pretzel mania

   MASTER 7:

We made pretzels today. I thought it was easy folding it but it was hard. My dad taught me and my mum how to fold it. I learned to wash your hands before and after cooking. I also learned to put flour on your hands before rolling it because if you don’t the batter sticks to you.


Every now and then, I wake up and think: Michelle, you work full time, study hard, and are raising two kids – you slacker. Go challenge yourself.  And then I decide to make something ridiculous. Today was one of those days. What was I thinking?!

I was thinking that Deb from Smitten Kitchen is awesome, and I want to be her when I grow up. So we made her pretzels.

It all started well. The kids learned about proving dough, kneading dough, dusting with flour, and knocking back (and for those of you who have both read Master 7’s post AND eaten his cooking, I promise that he already knew about washing his hands before hitting the kitchen today). Master 7 also learned more about division and ratios. Despite the school holiday maths lesson, they had fun kneading and rolling the dough into snakes, and making a huge mess.


small hands                                                                             Little hands making big results!


And then we had to shape the bloody things.

Suffice it to say that Spunky Tech Guy, who, unlike his wife is not all thumbs, had to come and give tutorials to Master 7 and I. That I didn’t burst into tears and throw the dough into the bin is a miracle. I can guarantee that the pictured pretzels were made by the boys of the house – Miss 4 gave up after the snakes step, but I think I’ll be telling the world that she made my sorry attempts. They looked fine until we poached them. Then they expanded, lost their shape, and just looked like dog turds. Salty, sad dog turds. I really am not good at this kind of thing.


                                                                                    Harder than it looks!                                                      raw

But the boys’ look good, Master 7 learned a lot today, and had fun in the process. And they taste fantastic. Even my lumps of abstract bread art. So it’s a win!                                                                                                                                        finalA very grown up way to enjoy the fruit of my kids’ labourbreadEventually, I gave up shaping the pretzels and made a really tasty loaf. Who says laziness doesn’t pay?!


Zombie brains by master 7


We made zombie brain (blueberry) pancakes and they were EPIC!


If you’re wondering about the stance, yes he is busting a move. I believe it was while he was singing Faith by George Michael. The poor kid never stood a chance.
This is why they’re called zombie brains. Blueberry pancake batter Master 7 is gross.

My favourite part about it was flipping  them. I flipped  6 but my  sister burnt her little finger on her right hand on her  1st go today. She is ok. I’m going to bring them to my excursion.



The Inaugural Post

In order to unwind from a whirlwind week, I hit the kitchen pretty hard today. Amid boiling blueberry bagels, pouring Coca-Cola over a perfectly good piece of pork scotch fillet (awesome, by the way), and trying to work some seriously sticky brioche dough, while also keeping Master 7 and Miss 4 involved and happy, it hit me:

I need a family cooking blog.

After having my final baby, I toyed with the idea of a family cookbook with photographs and handwritten comments to snapshot the hilarity, frustration and satisfaction that comes from cooking with a young family. Deep down, I knew this was never going to happen. Even if I went to the effort of creating something, I’d have lost it well before it meant anything to anyone. And printing out photos of a cake? Oh, please. It just wasn’t going to happen. However, I am one of those irritating people who photographs the more exceptional dinners and updates my Facebook status about lunch. So a blog, requiring minimal resources but meeting my very first world needs, is perfect. It also doesn’t hurt that I will spend the next 18 months blogging for uni, so I can practise over here where I don’t risk failing an expensive postgrad course 🙂

So here we are.

I am hesitant to explain my vision for What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’, because I know it’ll change many times over. But integral to this project is that the kids will be heavily involved. Master 7 will be posting and potentially vlogging, and most posts will centre around cooking I’ve done with the kids. I strongly believe that cooking with kids is beneficial to their life skills, and also their functional literacy and numeracy, their sense of belonging and responsibility within the family unit, their creativity, and also to creating a healthy relationship with food. As such, I involve my kids as much as I can. They are both interested in cooking, which is awesome, and Master 7 is pretty excited about What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’. Hopefully this venture fosters his literacy, ICT skills, his awesome foodie interests and our bond. We’ve got some exciting ideas to get him involved, and also his sister as she gets older.

So stay tuned because, really, who doesn’t want to see a picture of a sushi roll made by a 4 year old with less than perfect vision?