Peppermint chocolate slice

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Who else loves Christmas? I am one of those people who wants to start playing the Christmas music in October (I usually hold-out til mid-November!) so it suited me perfectly to test this recipe early (and a few times over!). Like candy canes in slice form, these mouthfuls are refreshingly pepperminty, with nuggets of chocolate, smooth coconut and bursts of cherry. Also a no-bake layering option with NO COOKING required! Perfect for a Christmas recipe in the southern hemisphere! Merry Christmas everyone!

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Peppermint chocolate slice

  • Servings: 25
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Ingredients

For the base:

  • 125g Marie biscuits, crushed
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 70g melted butter (?needs more)

For the filling:

  • 2 cups coconut
  • 395g sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp peppermint essence
  • 70g glace cherries, chopped
  • 70g dark chocolate chips

For the topping:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Place the Marie biscuits with the cocoa powder in a food processor and whizz until they form a fine crumb.
  2. Stir through the melted butter and pour base mixture into a greased baking tray. Use a spatula to pack the base tightly and evenly across the baking tray. Refrigerate to set.
  3. To make the filling, combine filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour on top of the base layer and spread evenly. Return to the refrigerator to set.
  4. After 30 mins or more, melt the chocolate and the oil in a mixing bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Stir with a spatula until melted and smooth. Pour on top of the filling and spread evenly. Refrigerate until set.

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Fruit mince chicken bake

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When I was growing up, my mother would have a dish in her frequent weeknight meals rotation that we called “Chicken with chutney and cheese on top”. Catchy title, yes? 😉 I’m not sure where she got the recipe from, but it formed a staple in my childhood. I have taken this as inspiration for today’s recipe, bearing in mind that Christmas is around the corner, and therefore fruit mince is in our cupboards and in our baking. Why not add it to a savoury dish?

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So here we are – a retro inspired baked chicken dish topped with oniony fruit mince and melted cheese, and served with roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is such an easy meal to make, it is a literal ‘top the chicken and whack in the oven’ deal. Once again, I have made this recipe adaptable so that it is baby friendly! I have also made this recipe freezer-friendly, so that you can have one night off cooking the week after making this recipe 🙂

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Fruit mince chicken bake

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 75g dried apricots
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 100g sultanas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius. Spray a heavy bottomed roasting tray with oil.
  2. Make the fruity topping by placing the apricots, mixed peel, sultanas, garlic, onion, and spices into a food processor and process until it becomes roughly chopped.
  3. Place the chicken thighs on the roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the topping to cover the thighs evenly. Pour over the orange juice and sprinkle over the cheese.
  4. Add the potatoes and Brussels sprouts to the tray and bake in the oven for approximately 45 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are golden and crunchy on the outside.

Christmas fruit triangles

My take on Christmas fruit mince piesMy take on Christmas fruit mince pies

Following on from my previous post about a Christmas Waldorf salad, I have been meddling in the kitchen with all things Christmas–themed. Here is my take on the classic mince pie. I seriously can’t stop eating these, and have had them in the house since mid-November when I first tried out this recipe. It seems such a shame for this baked dish to have such a short window in the year!

My take on Christmas fruit mince pies

Christmas fruit triangles

  • Servings: 20
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Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 240g plain flour
  • 160g butter, softened
  • 3 tbs icing sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup water

For the fruit mince:

  • 100g sultanas
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 1 tbs milk, to brush onto the pastry
  • Icing sugar, to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil.
  2. Combine the flour and butter in a mixer with a dough attachment. Add the icing sugar, spices and enough water for the pastry to come together. Bring together into a ball, wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for 20 mins.
  3. Combine the fruit mince ingredients excluding the milk, and whizz together in a food processor until sticky.
  4. Roll the pastry on a floured work surface until thin (as thin as you can without it breaking). Cut into long rectangles, and then into squares about 6cm square.
  5. Place approx. 1 tsp of fruit mince onto one half of the square (divide the square diagonally so that the fruit mince covers a triangle shape). Fold the pastry over and lightly press the edges together to seal.
  6. Place the triangles on the baking tray and crimp the edges with a fork to create a pretty pattern. Brush each triangle with a little milk.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden.
  8. Cool the pastries on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar once cooled to serve.

Christmas Waldorf salad

A Christmassy take on a Waldorf salad with turkey and cranberries

I love Christmas and all of the food that naturally comes with it. However, so many Christmas classic dishes are winter themed. This does not stop me from cooking them, and my family still eats a hot roast turkey and a plum pudding on Christmas day, but it’s often not appropriate on a hot summer’s day.

I thought that I would create a Christmassy take on a classic Waldorf salad. It typically contains fruits – so what a perfect way to add dried cranberries, the classic Christmas fruit. I also included some sliced turkey, which is a great way to use up leftovers, or, to make this any time of year, just use some deli sliced meat. Toss in some cold cooked pasta to bulk it up into a main meal, and it is perfect for an Australian summer in the lead up to Christmas. You could take this to a BBQ, or simply eat it on a hot night. You will still get your Christmas vibes, but not swelter under the weight of a hefty roast dinner!

A Christmassy take on a Waldorf salad with turkey and cranberries

Christmas Waldorf salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 fennel, shaved thinly
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced diagonally into 1 cm chunks
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 80g sliced turkey breast, shredded
  • 6 tbs cranberries
  • 150g cold cooked macaroni pasta

For the dressing:

  • 3 tsp mustard
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 60g crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare the ingredients and place in the salad bowl.
  2. Prepare the dressing in a separate bowl and whisk together.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

 

Watermelon trifle

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Trifle is a fun classic dessert that is a great make ahead option and is perfect for warm evenings. I decided to have a go at making one with a watermelon twist. I made my own watermelon jelly from fresh watermelon and was surprised by how easy it is!

A cooling, fresh and summery dessert! Enjoy!

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Watermelon trifle

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 200g store-bought lemon madeira cake, sliced thinly
  • 1 thick slice watermelon, diced
  • 100ml cream, whipped

For the custard:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the jelly:

  • 250g watermelon, diced
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp gelatine

Directions

  1. To make the custard: Combine milk and vanilla in a small saucepan.
  2. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to dissolve sugar.
  3. Fill the sink with cold water, and get out a clean bowl, rubber spatula and strainer for when the custard is cooked.
  4. Bring the saucepan with the milk mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  5. Pour the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until thick. Cook for 2-4 mins. The custard will be cooked when you will be able to draw a line on the back of the spoon through the custard.
  7. As soon as it is ready, pour the custard through the strainer into the clean bowl. Place the bowl in the sink so that the cold water surrounds it. Stir with a rubber spatula until cold. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  8. To make the jelly: puree the watermelon in a food processor. Strain the juices into a saucepan and put on a low heat with the sugar and gelatine and stir until fully dissolved. Place into a cold bowl, cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
  9. Layer thin slices of cake, then custard. Top with fresh watermelon, then whipped cream and finally scramble the jelly to make a pretty topping.

Sesame chicken noodle salad

A tasty cold chicken noodle salad drizzled with sesame seeds and tahini

This is a meal for those who like sesame! I’ve combined a few key flavours – sesame, soy, garlic, ginger to make a yummy chicken dish. This is a lovely summery lunch or dinner recipe. It is easy to prepare, and the only cooking you need to do is grill the chicken. The chicken could be cooked on the BBQ outside, or taken on a picnic and added to the pre-prepared salad al fresco!

A tasty cold chicken noodle salad drizzled with sesame seeds and tahini

The toasted sesame seeds add crunch, and the vermicelli noodles along with the raw grated carrot and zucchini add a lightness and freshness to the dish. I have allowed for individual serving of tahini according to one’s personal tastes – feel free to be liberal!

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Sesame chicken noodle salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 400g chicken thighs, no skin, bone removed

For the salad:

  • 200g vermicelli noodles
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • Sesame seeds, toasted

To serve:

  • Tahini
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • Extra sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

  1. Mix the sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce, spring onion, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper with the chicken thighs. Leave to marinade – the longer, the better.
  2. Heat a pan on high and add the chicken. Cook for 10 mins each side until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cook vermicelli noodles according to packet instructions. Once cooked, rinse under cold water and toss with the sesame oil, soy sauce and lemon juice.
  4. Add noodles, zucchini and carrot to a large salad bowl and toss with the sesame seeds. Slice the chicken and place on top.
  5. Serve with tahini and extra sesame seeds on the side to add as per individual preference.

Self-saucing banana caramel mug cakes

A deliciously decadent self saucing caramel and banana cake in 4 minutes

Sometimes an after dinner dessert just has to happen. You’ve had a long day, you’re exhausted, you’ve managed to get through dinner and dishes, and….you’d love to just collapse on the sofa with a delicious and decadent dessert. But who wants to be bothered making pudding after all of that??

In comes the amazing phenomenon of the mug cake. I love this concept so much. It just hits the spot when you MUST HAVE PUDDING. I had fun trialling this recipe – the first time, I went a bit crazy and didn’t add any fun ‘dessert’ ingredients, and although edible, it tasted like porridge 🙂 The second time, I forgot the flour! I have now nailed this banana and caramel mug cake and am happy to share the joys to everyone. Happy pudding-eating 🙂

banana_caramel_mug_cake_2A deliciously decadent self saucing caramel and banana cake in 4 minutes

Self-saucing banana caramel mug cake

  • Servings: 1
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 mashed banana
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 tbs oats
  • 1 tbs plain Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs Nuttelex

For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs golden syrup
  • 4 tbs boiling water

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients (except the sauce ingredients) in a mug.
  2. For the sauce, place the sugar, golden syrup and boiling water on the top of the mixture.
  3. Cook in the microwave on high for 4 mins.
  4. Spoon upside down into a dessert bowl. Serve with a spoonful of extra yoghurt.