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.
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.
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.
Easy no bake coffee and walnut cheesecake
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Whip the cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Put aside.
- Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
- 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.
- Pour the coffee/gelatin mix into the cream cheese mixture and continue to beat until well combined.
- 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.
- When ready to serve, dust with a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Use a sieve to achieve an even, light coating.
There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.
I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.
So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.
Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.
Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard
- 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup beer
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- Handful of parsley, to serve
- 1 lemon, to serve
- Mashed potato, to serve
- Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
- Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
- Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
- Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
- Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
- Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
- Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.
Winter is the season for homemade soup. I have fond memories of growing up eating soup for lunch at the weekends. Minestrone, pumpkin, and pea & ham were the family favourites.
For this soup, I experimented with a new discovery for me: fennel. I had never made soup with it before, and as it was in season, I thought I’d experiment.
This soup balances the aniseed flavour of the fennel with the sweetness of the apple for a light but flavoursome meal. It goes well with garlic bread, and a garnish of sour cream.
I like to make extra portions of soup and freeze them for future weekend lunches. This time around, it came in handy for our first weekend getaway as a new family. With one night away and a little 4 month old in tow, we decided to book accommodation that had a kitchen and self-cater for dinner. And my fennel and apple soup was just the thing! Frozen, it was easy to pack into the car. And super easy to heat up in an unfamiliar kitchen. Yum! Hot, warming, homemade soup. Minimal effort for a cosy holiday dinner.
- ½ leek, finely sliced
- 20g butter
- 2 fennels, sliced
- 3 apples, diced
- 1-2 tbs plain flour
- 1 litre chicken stock
- Fennel fronds, to serve
- Greek style plain yoghurt, to serve
- Fry leek in butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat until soft.
- Add fennel and apples and fry for 3 mins.
- Add flour, and stir to form a roux with butter on the base of the pan.
- Add chicken stock and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil.
- Simmer soup until vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes.
- Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth.
- Serve topped with fennel fronds and a dollop of yoghurt.