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.

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.

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.

Dairy-free plum muffins

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I have never loved café-bought muffins. They are often times too big, too dry, too crumbly. Not worth my money, mostly.

However, homemade muffins are a completely different story. I make muffins all the time. You can find several muffins recipes on this blog, both savoury and sweet.

Muffins made at home are popular in this household for several reasons. One, they are dead simple to make. Also, they are quick to make. Both mean that they are a very good option for filling the house with baked goods if you have unexpected company or you need something sweet to fill the packed lunchbox.

Two, once you have a standard basic recipe, they are so easy to vary to suit what you have in the fridge or pantry. Three, almost everyone is bound to like eating them.

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These plum muffins are light and fruity, and the brown sugar crust gives crunch and texture. I made a batch for some friends who visited one weekend, and we four got through almost the whole batch in one day. Not to worry, they are so easy to whip up, I could easily just make more!

These muffins are also dairy free! Also, I made these with peaches instead of plums the other day, because I couldn’t find plums and they were just as good 🙂

Dairy-free plum muffins

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 115g brown sugar, plus 1 tbs extra for sprinkling
  • 2 plums, diced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a muffin tray with spray oil.
  2. Whisk the olive oil, water and eggs together.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar together.
  4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, and stir through the diced plums.
  5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tray. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with brown sugar.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean and the tops are crunchy.

Chicken and olive sausage rolls

A lighter filo wrapped sausage roll with punchy flavours of chicken, olive, capsicum and feta

Today I am sharing another quick and easy make-ahead lunch idea. You can read about my other recipes here: curry pumpkin muffins, haloumi, olive and sundried tomato loaf, spring chicken salad and pork pasties.

I love sausage rolls, but often find that they leave me with an unpleasant feeling of having over-indulged in pastry all afternoon! I made these rolls with filo, which is a little lighter and simple to work with.

A lighter filo wrapped sausage roll with punchy flavours of chicken, olive, capsicum and feta

I decided to change things up by using chicken mince (or I might have had leftover from making a chicken dish for my baby 😉 !). I am a big fan of adding flavour punches to my cooking at the moment, so this recipe has added olives, roasted red capsicum and feta. All the prep required is a simple mix together of the filling ingredients and then roll them up! You can enjoy them fresh out of the oven, or freeze the leftovers for a busy day when lunch prep is not an option, but neither is a boring cheese sandwich.

chicken_sausage_rolls_3A lighter filo wrapped sausage roll with punchy flavours of chicken, olive, capsicum and feta

Chicken and olive sausage rolls

  • Servings: makes 8 rolls
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Ingredients

  • 250g chicken mince
  • 8 green olives, sliced
  • 1 roasted red capsicum, cut into thin strips
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 sheets filo pastry

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil.
  2. Mix together the chicken mince, olives, capsicum, feta, egg and salt and pepper.
  3. Lay out 2-3 sheets of filo pastry, spraying a thin layer of spray oil in between each.
  4. Spread one quarter of the filling along the bottom half of the pastry in a long sausage shape. Roll upwards to form a log and spray the top of the pastry. Cut in half and place on the baking tray. Continue three times more to create 8 sausage rolls.
  5. Bake for 30 mins or until golden and flaky, and the chicken is cooked through.

Oat and apple chocolate brownies

A 'healthy' brownie with less butter and sugar, but just as delicious fudgey textureI have had a lot of yummy treats in the house recently, due to several big family occasions and much testing for new recipes! So, to counteract all of the temptation, rather than not cook any sweet treats at all, I thought I’d have a go at making brownies without all of the butter and sugar as per usual.

A 'healthy' brownie with less butter and sugar, but just as delicious fudgey texture

I would not go to as far as to say that these are healthy, but perhaps offer a less decadent choice! They sure don’t taste less decadent though! Super rich, with a fudgey texture and very very chocolatey.

These took me approximately 10 mins to make, and because they bake so quickly too, they’re the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for last minute guest baking.

A 'healthy' brownie with less butter and sugar, but just as delicious fudgey texture

Oat and apple chocolate brownies

  • Servings: approx. 30
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Ingredients

  • 100g rolled oats
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 375g apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 75g dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil and line with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and brown sugar. Add the apple sauce and egg and mix to combine.
  3. Pour half of the mixture into the baking tray and spread to evenly cover the base.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the mixture and cover with the remaining brownie mixture.
  5. Bake for 15-20 mins. Do not be alarmed if the centre is gooey – the chocolate chips will have melted which is intended!

Tuna and sweetcorn frittata muffins

A simple tuna and sweetcorn muffin to ward away the munchies

I am currently posed with the problem of being at home a lot more than I have ever been, yet having less free time to cook extravagant things than I ever have before.

I decided to try out a really simple baked frittata recipe that uses a muffin tray and pantry ingredients. The result was some very cute little tuna and sweetcorn bites that have served so well as a late afternoon snack. Munching on one of these while I prepare dinner has satisfied my gnawing hunger, without filling me up for the main event. Solves the urge to eat peanut butter straight from the jar!

A simple tuna and sweetcorn muffin to ward away the munchies

They take 10 mins to put together and about the same in the oven. Definitely something I can manage on a Sunday afternoon to set me up with substantial snacks for the week.

A simple tuna and sweetcorn muffin to ward away the munchies

Tuna and sweetcorn frittata muffins

  • Servings: makes 8
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Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 95g tuna
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ½ cup grated cheddar
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1 tsp dried chives

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius and grease a muffin tray using spray oil.
  2. Whisk the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir through the remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour the batter into the muffin tray.
  5. Bake for 20 mins in the oven or until set. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.