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!
- 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
- Prepare the ingredients and place in the salad bowl.
- Prepare the dressing in a separate bowl and whisk together.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
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.
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 🙂
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a muffin tray with spray oil.
- Whisk the olive oil, water and eggs together.
- In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar together.
- Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, and stir through the diced plums.
- Pour the mixture into the muffin tray. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with brown sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean and the tops are crunchy.
I 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.
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.
Oat and apple chocolate brownies
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a baking tray with spray oil and line with baking paper.
- Mix together the oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and brown sugar. Add the apple sauce and egg and mix to combine.
- Pour half of the mixture into the baking tray and spread to evenly cover the base.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the mixture and cover with the remaining brownie mixture.
- Bake for 15-20 mins. Do not be alarmed if the centre is gooey – the chocolate chips will have melted which is intended!
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!
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.
Tuna and sweetcorn frittata muffins
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- 95g tuna
- 1 cup frozen corn
- ½ cup grated cheddar
- Zest of a lemon
- 1 tsp dried chives
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius and grease a muffin tray using spray oil.
- Whisk the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.
- Stir through the remaining ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the muffin tray.
- Bake for 20 mins in the oven or until set. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
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.
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!
Steak with crispy couscous
- 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
- Put a griddle pan on high and heat the olive oil.
- Rub the steak with paprika, garlic salt and pepper.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cook the bacon on the pan until crispy, and then add the green beans and tomatoes until softened, jammy and a little blistered.
- 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.
- Slice the steak into thin slices and serve on top of your crispy couscous.
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!
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.
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?
Rice cooker apricot rice pudding
- 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
- Place rice, milk, sugar, apricots and cinnamon in rice cooker and stir. Cook the rice in the cooker.
- Once finished, stir through yoghurt or cream to add creaminess. This is equally delicious warm or cold.
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!
Baked risoni with corn, tomatoes and zucchini
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
- Heat a griddle pan and chargrill the corn, tomatoes (face down) and zucchini for 5-10 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile, cook the risoni in salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
- 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.
- 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.