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.

Strawberry and cream cookie cakes

Sweet and buttery strawberry cream cookie cakes

Ah, strawberries and cream. I have been experimenting with capturing these flavours in cake form. I wanted initially to make cookies. But these are more cake-like in texture. Plenty of body, dense, rich and tall. Also creamy and not crumbly like a biscuit. They are a doddle to make, and look super pretty on a dainty afternoon tea plate.

I think I might have to stop buying cream cheese for a while now…

Sweet and buttery strawberry cream cookie cakes

Strawberry and cream cookie cakes

  • Servings: 10
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Ingredients

  • 250g cream cheese
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries (I used frozen)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla, the egg, the flour and baking powder and beat until it forms a smooth dough. Add more flour if it is sticky.
  4. Use your hands to shape balls using approx. ¼ cup of dough for each one. Place onto the baking tray and flatten with your palm. Use your finger to create an indent in the middle of each cake.
  5. Place a slice of strawberry on top of each cake in the indent.
  6. Cook in the oven for 25 mins. Cool on a wire rack before eating!

Steak with crispy couscous

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

What meat-eating person doesn’t love a steak? I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, pretend to know anything much about the cooking of the ‘perfect steak’, but I do enjoy eating it all the same. Steak is a fantastic hot-weather food. For me, it alludes to summer breezes, beaches, dining outside and BBQs. Those things usually go alongside holidays and good times.

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

I have been making this dish recently, which has become a fast favourite due to its speedy preparation and flavour-bomb tastes. A one-pan dish (excepting the dish you ‘cook’ the couscous in), it is light on labour and on the washing up!

I also always keep a bag of frozen green beans and bacon in the freezer. Along with a few pantry staples, the only fresh ingredients on the list for this dish are steak and tomatoes. Simple!

A paprika and garlic steak with crispy bacon couscous, green beans and tomatoes

Steak with crispy couscous

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 400g beef steak
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 1 ½ cups green beans
  • 3 tomatoes

Directions

  1. Put a griddle pan on high and heat the olive oil.
  2. Rub the steak with paprika, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Fry the steak 5 mins on the first side, 3 min on the other. Remove steak from the griddle pan and wrap in foil to rest.
  4. Boil the kettle, and add 1 cup boiling water to a bowl with the stock cube. Stir to dissolve. Add the couscous, stir and cover for 10 mins.
  5. Cook the bacon on the pan until crispy, and then add the green beans and tomatoes until softened, jammy and a little blistered.
  6. Once the couscous is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and add to your griddle pan. Do not stir for 5 mins or so, so that the bottom of the couscous becomes crispy and golden.
  7. Slice the steak into thin slices and serve on top of your crispy couscous.

Rice cooker apricot rice pudding

An easy creamy rice cooker apricot rice pudding

Ah rice pudding; another dessert that I fell in love with last year while pregnant. It fits the ‘cold and creamy’ bill exactly, if served cold. But I’d never made it from scratch before now, and I don’t know why because it is very simple to make and infinitely less expensive!

An easy creamy rice cooker apricot rice pudding

I wanted to create a recipe that even a lazy cook would want to attempt. Whenever we cook rice to accompany our dinner, we always use our rice cooker. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to ‘put some rice on’. No need to tend to it after that, it is done and will be waiting for us when we are ready!

So I decided that wouldn’t it be cool to ‘put some apricot rice pudding on’ and have dessert smashed before I even began dinner? This recipe is definitely for people who want a luxurious dessert, but only have a few moments to put something together. It is also great for an easy dessert when entertaining too, because it is so easy to scale up or down, whatever the occasion.

An easy creamy rice cooker apricot rice pudding

The apricots become jammy and the whole thing is so creamy and filling. It can be eaten warm, straight out for the rice cooker after dinner, or can be chilled and eaten cold, which is my favourite. What is your favourite way to eat rice pudding?

An easy creamy rice cooker apricot rice pudding

Rice cooker apricot rice pudding

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup diced dried apricots
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Greek yoghurt or cream, to serve

Directions

  1. Place rice, milk, sugar, apricots and cinnamon in rice cooker and stir. Cook the rice in the cooker.
  2. Once finished, stir through yoghurt or cream to add creaminess. This is equally delicious warm or cold.

Baked risoni with corn, tomatoes and zucchini

A baked cheesy risoni dish with spring time vegetables

If I could eat pasta for dinner every day, I would do just that! I blogged about a slow-cooked zucchini pasta bake here and homemade ravioli here.

I decided to try something different with my sauce for this recipe, and it is so easy! Simply stir the sauce ingredients together straight in the baking tray, before adding the pasta and vegetables. I have chosen veggies that are in season and readily available, but you could use whatever you fancy or have in your kitchen.

Baking the risoni in the eggy sauce gives it a rather pudding-like texture with a pleasing crunchy topping. A lovely dish full of springtime flavours!

A baked cheesy risoni dish with spring time vegetables

Baked risoni with corn, tomatoes and zucchini

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tomatoes, halved
  • 1 zucchini, shaved into thin slices
  • 500g dry risoni
  • 1 egg
  • 500g creamed cottage cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15g grated parmesan
  • Fresh basil, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
  2. Heat a griddle pan and chargrill the corn, tomatoes (face down) and zucchini for 5-10 minutes until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the risoni in salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
  4. Grease a deep roasting tray and break the egg into it. Add the cottage cheese and mix well. Add cooked risoni and vegetables and stir to mix well.
  5. Top with a layer of finely grated parmesan and bake for 20 -25 mins until golden and crusty on top. Sprinkle a few leaves of fresh basil on top to serve.

Easy no bake coffee and walnut cheesecake

A creamy no bake cheesecake with a coffee flavour and walnut base

Today I am sharing an easy no bake cheesecake recipe. I have made baked cheesecakes before, and although delicious, I rarely turn to them as I consider them too much fuss. Especially when I want to whip something fancy up quickly during my baby’s nap time. I wanted an easy fuss-free no bake option.

A creamy no bake cheesecake with a coffee flavour and walnut base

A creamy no bake cheesecake with a coffee flavour and walnut base

I have made several incarnations of this coffee and walnut cheesecake below. The first attempts did not set properly, and oozed deliciously all over the plate. However, the flavours were immediately charming. I shared my trial runs with my family and as testament to the flavours, it quickly disappeared, even though we had all already eaten dessert and a birthday cake that same night. I must say, my family were fully supportive in assisting with taste testing for further trials!

I have tweaked the final recipe I’m sharing today and it now sits proudly on the plate; jiggly, creamy and delectable.

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Easy no bake coffee and walnut cheesecake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For the base:

  • 100g Marie biscuits
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 60g walnuts

For the filling:

  • 500g cream cheese
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300ml heavy cream
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tbs gelatin powder
  • Cocoa powder, to serve

Directions

  1. Break the biscuits into a food processor and whizz until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the walnuts and whizz briefly again to chop them coarsely.
  2. Pour into a bowl and stir through the melted butter until well combined. Press into the base of a greased springform tin until well packed and smooth. Place into the fridge to chill.
  3. Whip the cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Put aside.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Meanwhile, add ½ cup of boiling water to the instant coffee in a small jug. Add the gelatin and stir until the coffee and gelatin is dissolved.
  6. Pour the coffee/gelatin mix into the cream cheese mixture and continue to beat until well combined.
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into the chilled base and use a spatula to evenly spread the filling over the base. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably, overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, dust with a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Use a sieve to achieve an even, light coating.

Raspberry and Milo chocolate mousse

A raspberry and malt flavoured chocolate mousse using Milo

I grew up in Australia, and as such, I am a natural ambassador for Milo. I am in love with the stuff. While I was pregnant, I enjoyed a hot cup of Milo as an alternative to a coffee.

A raspberry and malt flavoured chocolate mousse using Milo

As an adult, I think I have become more health-smart with my Milo to milk ratios. I know many a child who has filled a glass with the powder, and added a splash of milk to create a crunchy, malty paste. Hmmm description sounds far less appealing than the cheeky treat!

I actually was inspired to make this mousse after using a similar flavour combination for my porridge regularly this winter. Sprinkle a few frozen raspberries and a couple of teaspoons of Milo into your oats – it is delish! And so is this glammed up version of my fave childhood drink!

A raspberry and malt flavoured chocolate mousse using Milo

Raspberry and Milo chocolate mousse

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 120g dark chocolate chips
  • 120ml cream
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbs Milo
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
  • ½ cup raspberries (I used defrosted frozen)

Directions

  1. Melt the chocolate and cream gently in a small mixing bowl, by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds, and stirring to encourage the rest of the chocolate to melt. Zap for another 30 seconds if needed.
  2. Once smooth, whisk the egg yolks and Milo into the chocolate mixture while still hot. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg whites, adding the sugar, until stiff.
  4. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, fold through the egg whites, taking care to lose as little air as possible. Stir through the raspberries.
  5. Pour the mousse into serving glasses and set in the fridge for 4 hours, or ideally overnight.