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Box Cake Mix Tips

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I bought a giant tub of multi-purpose cake mix for my daughters first birthday last year. I made about three dozen frosted cupcakes for the party. But after that, I put it in the top of my pantry and forgot about it.
It’s getting close to the use by date and I feel that I need to use it up. The giant tub makes about 12 full sized cakes or about 144 cupcakes. I should get another three cakes or three dozen cupcakes from it.
There are so many simple ways to improve a box cake mix. From adding extra eggs, swapping oil for butter or adding chocolate chips, it is so easy to take a plain cake mix from blah to wow. Keep reading to find out how I made nut-free hummingbird muffins from this box cake mix.

Box Cake Mix Tips

Today I decided to make hummingbird muffins. Unbeknownst to me, they normally contain nuts. Which I didn’t have. And if I’m totally honest I made the muffins first, then looked up what goes in hummingbird cake! So I have decided to call this recipe nut-free hummingbird muffins. For me, the main thing that makes it hummingbird flavour is the pineapple and the banana. Both of which are incredibly present.
hummingbird muffins text overlay: nut-free hummingbird muffins

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Nut-free Hummingbird Muffins

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 serves

Ingredients

  • 1 box vanilla or butter cake mix
  • 3 bananas
  • 432 g tin of pineapple drained

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven as per box instructions.

  2. Add the bananas and pineapple to a stand mixer and mix until broken up.

  3. Add the contents of the cake mix to the stand mixer and continue to follow cooking instructions on the box.

  4. For muffins/cupcakes bake for 12-15 minutes.

green's multi purpose cake mix text overlay Box Cake Mix Tips + Recipe

Homemade Lemonade

lemonade and lemons text overlay homemade lemonade recipe

Homemade Lemonade

Here is my quest for homemade lemonade.

My family likes to catch up before Christmas because everyone is so busy & there are so many people to see. Each year we take it in turns to host & everyone brings something to pitch in. We usually just have a BBQ, which makes it pretty stress-free. This year I volunteered to bring some meat, hamburgers & sausages.

From the window, I could see many large lemons hanging over the fence. So I asked my cousin If I could take a few home with me. She offered a bag for me to collect them in but I decided that I didn’t need one.

I squeezed past the water tanks & plants while walking through spider webs to the lemon tree. I couldn’t believe the size of them! They were the biggest lemons that I had ever seen. You certainly don’t get any that big at the supermarket! After pulling a few from the tree I realised that I would most certainly need a bag. Back through the spider webs & past the water tanks than back again with a bag. This time my aunt & my mum decided to join me.

I filled a whole grocery bag with lemons. It was easily 5kg! One last trek through the spider webs, I gave the bag to my little cousin to carry inside. He was impressed by my collection.

My mum suggested that they would probably have quite thick skin but that didn’t bother me. I was more amazed by the amount of juice I got from them. Although I shouldn’t have been so surprised based on their size!

After a little bit of trial and error, I found that a ratio of 1:1:3 of lemon juice, sugar and water works quite well for my taste buds.

RELATED: Orange Marmalade

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Homemade Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 200 ml Lemon Juice Freshly Squeezed
  • 250 ml Boiling Water
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 550 ml Water

Instructions

  1. Juice the lemons

  2. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to 250ml of boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar

  3. Allow the sugar water mixture to cool

  4. Combine lemon juice, sugar water and water in a pitcher

  5. Serve with ice & lemon slices if desired

Orange Marmalade

orange mar male gift jar

We often have an excess of fruit at work from the weekly delivery. At the end of the week, we are encouraged to take home any fruit that is still in the fruit basket. The common leftovers are mandarin, apple, pear, orange with the occasional banana. It really depends on what fruits are in season as to how many that we get, also determining what’s leftover.

I love having a variety of fruit to choose from. It means I don’t have to worry about remembering to bring snacks to work. Because of this, I often eat 2-3 pieces of fruit when I’m in the office. The other obvious benefit is I get my recommended daily serves of fruit.

I decided to put the leftover oranges to good use, making Orange Marmalade. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make!

If I have a choice between jam or marmalade for my morning toast, marmalade wins every time! It was rare that we had marmalade in the cupboard growing up, so I take advantage of it whenever I can. It will probably be on my toast every morning until the jar is empty!

As it’s the end of the year I needed to come up with something to give to my daughter’s childcare educators. I know they don’t expect anything but I just want to show my appreciation for helping my daughter to learn & develop so many new skills. And homemade food gifts are especially well received.

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Orange Marmalade

Ingredients

  • 300 ml Water
  • 300 g Sugar
  • 3-4 Oranges
  • 250 ml Jar

Instructions

  1. Juice the oranges.

  2. Combine water, sugar and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 40-60 minutes.

  3. To test if the Marmalade is ready, dollop some Marmalade on a plate & let cool in the fridge for 5 minutes. If the Marmalade goes crinkly when touched, it is ready

DIY Australian Pumpkin Spice Latte

coffees with flowers text overlay: homemade pumpkin spice latte

This homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe is warming on a coldfall day. Switch it up with an iced latte or try a vegan option with almond milk. #PSL #pumpkinspicelatte #homemade #DIY #fall #expressi #aldiexpressi #iced #vegan

I was lucky enough to be in North America in November where I sampled many Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

There aren’t many Starbucks stores in Australia & I’m quite sure they don’t sell any of the wonderful seasonal American treats. Lucky for me, once I had tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte I had an idea of how I could replicate it at home.

For me, a Pumpkin Spice Latte tastes like a chai latte crossed with a strong coffee. And I mean strong. There is no hint of pumpkin, as with many pumpkin or pumpkin spice flavoured treats. The spices generally used are cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.

RELATED: Ginger Shortbread recipe

I was so pleased to find the Aldi make Chai Latte pods. I think they were the first brand in Australia to offer them. Many other brands have jumped on the Chai latte pod band-wagon since but I am yet to try any.

DIY Australian Pumpkin Spice Latte

DIY Australian Pumpkin Spice Latte

*You will need a milk frother & a coffee pod machine that fits Chai Latte pods
1 chai latte pod
1 coffee pod
milk
sweetener (if desired)

  1. add milk to milk brother & turn on
  2. prepare coffee as per machine instructions
  3. prepare chai in the same mug as per machine instructions (it doesn’t matter which pod you prepare first)
  4. add frothed milk
  5. add sweetener if desired

This is best made in a large mug, unless you compromise with a lot less milk than normal. You could pair your pumpkin spice latte with homemade marmalade on toast for breakfast.

Since Melbourne is known as the coffee snob city of Australia, I have been able to order a “Pumpkin Spice Latte” at many coffee shops. I just ask for a large chai latte with a shot of espresso.

After a recent trip to America, my brother was also kind enough to bring me back a few instant sachets. This meant I was able to relive the exact flavour a few more times!

Quick Dinner for Two

Quick and easy dinner for two
Dinner for two doesn’t have to be extravagant. This great quick meal when there isn’t much food in the pantry. These pasta side dishes are great to have on hand for when you really don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen.

One packet generally serves four people as a side dish but also make a great dinner for two when you add a few extras. This time I added one chopped carrot, roughly 1/4 cup of peas and one small tin of tuna. The idea of adding the extra items is to make more of a nutritionally balanced meal, plus add some more volume to fill you up. Another great bonus is the fact that it cooks in very little time. The directions say you can cook it on the stove top or in the microwave.

I’ve also made this a few times when it’s just me needing dinner. The other half goes into a container in the fridge and that’s lunch for the next day sorted!
quick easy meal

Options

There is a range of optional ingredients that you likely have on hand. Some of the options I have used before are:

  • chopped carrot
  • frozen peas
  • frozen corn
  • chopped broccoli
  • frozen mixed vegetables
  • small or large tin of tuna
  • cooked chicken pieces
  • cooked bacon
  • ham
  • shaved or cooked turkey

RELATED: Potato Bake