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Orange, Pumpkin and Date Muffins

It’s probably pretty clear that muffins are something that are baked, and eaten, quite regularly in this house.

The reason I tend to go for muffins is for a few reasons:

  1. They are quick and easy to make
  2. They can be appropriately portioned into whatever sized morsel you want
  3. They freeze really well, meaning you don’t have to feel like you are eating the same thing everyday for a week
  4. They are the perfect size for lunchboxes

I had some quinoa flour in the pantry and some pumpkin that needed using, which resulted in the creation of these Orange, Pumpkin and Date muffins. The dates provide a natural sweetness, while the juice and zest of the orange give the distinct citrus flavour, while the mashed pumpkin provides a good nutrition boost but also allows the muffin to retain it’s moisture and compliments the spice profile nicely. If you were wanting to add some crunch to these muffins, some slivered almonds or chopped walnuts would work quite nicely. I have chosen to not put nuts in these muffins as the kids will take them to school and kinder.

The first time I made these Orange, Pumpkin and Date muffins, I used only quinoa flour, which left a distinct after taste, which wasn’t offensive and no one complained, but I thought that I would make a few amendments to allow it to be more suitable to everyones palate. Often flours such as quinoa, buckwheat and chickpea flour have quite a strong flavour, so it is best to mix them with another type of flour, such as a wheat, spelt or even rice flour for a gluten free alternative.

I hope you enjoy these muffins for something a little bit different. xx.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup peeled pumpkin, steamed and mashed
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped, I used 3 medjool dates
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare ~12-15 hole muffin tin.
  2. Peel pumpkin and chop into 1cm slices and place in a steamer basket and steam until soft. Allow to cool slightly and mash.
  3. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spices, zest and dates into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  4. Add the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and the mashed pumpkin and mix well to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Featured

Thai Fish Cakes

Thai fish cakes have to be one of the most flavourful foods I have eaten. So fresh and fragrant, these fish cakes are perfect as the weather is starting to warm up.

Ingredients for Thai Fish Cakes

I have had a few attempts at these fish cakes with different types of fish, using fish that is fresh and fish that has been frozen. From all of the trialling I have done, I have found that blue grenadier works best and using fresh fish as opposed to that which has been frozen, is definitely best. In one of my attempts, I used blue grenadier, which was frozen and I had allowed it to thaw. The freezing process resulted in it retaining a lot more moisture than the fresh fish. This meant that the mixture was too wet and when I cooked the fish cakes, they fell apart. So, if you are using frozen fish, ensure that you allow it to thaw completely and pat it dry, really well, with paper towel.

Thai fish cakes are really one of my favourite meals, but one that I have not made in a number of years, mainly because the kids were not too thrilled by them and all the different flavours going on. But, they are back on the menu, because if you don’t offer kids new foods, they won’t know if they like them, but if you offer the new foods, they might just eat them!! And they did! We have had these 3 or 4 times in the past couple of months and Mark LOVES them and they are growing on the girls more with each time we have them. We try to have fish at least once per week, so these have become one of our fish meals.

If you like a bit more bite to your Thai styled food, I would recommend adding some extra chilli into the fish cakes, as these are quite mild. You can also add a small red chilli into the dipping sauce, rather than the long chilli, for a real hit of heat. I, obviously, have gone easy on the chilli as I make these with small people in mind, but adjust them to your liking.

Thai Fish Cakes with dipping sauce and fried Chinese broccoli

These can be made ahead of time and formed into balls and kept in the fridge until needed.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 500g white fish, I used blue grenadier with the skin removed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part, finely chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, loosely packed
  • 1-2 spring onions, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 long red chilli, finely diced
  • 1 tbs red curry paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 green beans, finely sliced
  • 1 tbs ginger, grated
  • Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
  • 1 tsp fish sauce

Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tbs castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbs coriander root, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a long red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

Method:

  1. Ensure the fish is completely dry by patting it with paper towel and finely chop. Resist the temptation to put the fish in the food processor as it will result in a more rubbery textured fish cake. Place the chopped fish into a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  3. Take heaped tablespoons of mixture and form into balls. The mixture should make 10-12.
  4. Place in the fridge for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Remove from the fridge about half an hour prior to cooking.
  5. Make the dipping sauce by placing all ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow to bubble away for ~10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat. If the frypan is not non-stick, add a drizzle of olive oil and add the fish cakes to the pan, pressing them down gently until they are ~1.5-2cm thick. Cook for 3-4 minutes then carefully flip each fish cake and cook for a further 3-4 minutes on the other side.
  7. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Featured

Roast Pumpkin, Pesto and Bocconcini Pasta Bake

Every now and then when I get completely uninspired with what to cook, I end up making a pasta bake of some sort with whatever we have in the fridge. This unplanned meal actually turned out to be quite delicious, hence while I’m sharing it. I have made this pasta bake using the remaining pasta we had in the pantry, however, my recommended pasta type to use would be spirals as they will ‘mop up’ more of the pesto.

A pasta bake is a great meal that can be prepared in advance and the baking completed when ready to eat, or even fully cooked and then reheated when needed. The bonus nutritional benefit with a pasta bake is the higher level of resistant starch, compared with a usual pasta meal. Resistant starch is a type of fibre that resists digestion, passing to the large bowel, largely digested, and feeds the ‘good’ bacteria, or probiotics, that reside in the large bowel. These probiotics, which are trillions of bacteria, make up the microbiome. When fed well, these bacteria thrive and produce short chain fatty acids, acetate, butyrate and propionate, which regulate the permeability of the intestinal wall, preventing molecules, such as endotoxins, passing this barrier to where they should not be. This process plays a role in helping to control inflammation within the body.

Pasta bake prior to cooking

You may ask why I have bothered pre-cooking the pumpkin in this dish when a pasta bake needs to cook for long enough to cook the pasta? Well, pumpkin, when roasted, gives a delicious caramelised flavour, which disperses throughout the whole dish. If you are short on time, you can omit the roasting of the pumpkin, but trust me, it’s better when roasted.

If you wish, this could be made into a simple pasta dish by skipping the baking step and cooking the pasta until al dente during the boiling process. If you choose to cook this dish in this way, I would recommend serving with a good handful of fresh rocket leaves.

Most meals that contain pasta are a hit in our household, and considering the kids often turn their noses up at pumpkin, the fact that they enjoyed this meal made me happy.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pumpkin, chopped into 1-2cm cubes
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of pasta – spirals will work well
  • 3/4 cup of pesto
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 150g baby bocconcini
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Place pumpkin cubes into a bowl and add olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place onto baking tray and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Make pesto by placing all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined. Set aside.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than what the packet says – the pasta will cook more in the oven and you don’t want the pasta overcooked. Add the broccoli florets for the final 2 minutes of pasta cooking.
  5. Once cooked, drain the pasta and broccoli, making sure you reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  6. Place the cooked pasta and broccoli into a large bowl, and add the roast pumpkin.
  7. Mix the reserved pasta water and pesto together and pour over the pasta mixture. Gently toss to combine.
  8. Place pasta mixture into baking dish and top with baby bocconcini and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, if you with and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is nicely melted.
Featured

Apricot, Almond and Chocolate Millet Cups

Today the girls and I decided to do some baking and I was thinking about making some sort of slice, something apricot and almond, but not certain what. As we were looking through Claire’s bag of kinder activities for lockdown 2.0, we came across some Gruffalo inspired recipes, one of them was ‘Knobbly Knees’, essentially a honey joy with some nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. This was the exact inspiration I needed.

The main ingredient for Knobbly Knees was cornflakes, which we didn’t have, so instead we used puffed millet and didn’t really follow the recipe at all, but created these little Apricot, Almond and Chocolate Millet Cups. These little cups are the perfect snack for both kids and adults, they are versatile in that they can be made using whatever puffs, dried fruit and nuts that you have on hand.

These cups when made using millet are a gluten free snack, making them suitable for anyone who has coeliac disease or follows a gluten free diet. If you are making these for kids that need a nut-free snack for school, the nuts can be substituted for seeds and peanut butter can be swapped for tahini or more butter. The chocolate chips can be added before adding the butter mixture, however this will result in them melting and the whole mixture being a darker colour.

I hope you enjoy these quick and easy snacks xx.

Ingredients:

(Makes ~20-24)

  • 60g puffed millet
  • 40g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 40g dried apricots, diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease muffin tins or patty pans.
  2. Place millet, almonds, apricots and coconut into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Place the butter, honey and peanut butter into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until melted and allow to bubble for ~1 minute. Cool slightly.
  4. Pour butter mixture over the millet mixture and mix well to coat. Add the chocolate chips and fold through.
  5. Place mixture into muffin tins or patty pans (I used silicone muffin trays) and press down slightly, sprinkle with a few choc chips and bake for ~ 10 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tray and store in an airtight container.

Pear and Gingerbread Loaf

Sitting here on a cold Winter’s Day with the fire crackling in the background and listening to the rain pitter patter on the window, alternating with bouts of hail. The kids are asleep and having some quiet time and I am typing away, enjoying a cup of tea and a piece of this wholesome, warming Pear and Gingerbread Loaf. I can feel the spices warming my insides.

I have seen a few recipes for ginger loaves around lately, so I was inspired to create a gingerbread flavoured loaf. As I was putting my ideas down on paper, I noticed that we had a few pears that needed using in the fruit bowl, and so this Pear and Gingerbread Loaf was created.

If you don’t have spelt flour, ordinary wholemeal flour will work well, as will a white flour, but the white flour will produce a less wholesome loaf.

The whole family really enjoyed this loaf when it was warm with a generous spread of butter. it was still delicious 4 days later. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine that you could successfully freeze this loaf, however, stored in an airtight container, it was still delicious 4 days later. You could also toast a slice and enjoy it with butter or a drizzle of honey.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs of grated ginger or finely chopped naked ginger
  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beated
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, diced

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Place the butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until melted.
  4. Add butter mixture, lightly beaten eggs, milk, yoghurt and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
  5. Add the diced pear and fold through gently.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for ~45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks with Salsa Verde

Winter is the perfect time to make full use of slow cooked meals, whether you have a slow cooker or not. Slow cooked meals are the perfect prepare ahead meal as they usually cook for many hours, meaning that the bulk of the work, which is usually very little, can be done in the morning, leaving very little to do just before dinner time.

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Beef cheeks are a delicious cut of meat and are quite affordable. They are rich, smooth, lean and tender when slow cooked. They used to be a whole lot cheaper before the demand for them increased with their use in restaurants. Beef cheeks are much better slow cooked than cooked any other way, and the salsa verde that is added at the end in this meal cuts through the richness of the sauce and the beef perfectly.

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Salsa verde, or ‘green sauce’, is a sauce that is made from a combination of herbs – parsley, basil and mint, as well as garlic, capers, anchovies, Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. The result is such a light fresh, flavoursome sauce that is so good with this beef, but also works extremely well with fish or potatoes.

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I’m sure you’re wondering, what about the kids, I bet they don’t eat it? Mark really enjoys this meal, except he’d prefer to not have the salsa verde, most likely due to the bite that the uncooked garlic provides. Claire is always a bit funny with meat, if it’s not mince, but she always eats a small amount and Elise is hit and miss, on one occasion, she loved the slow cooked meat and on another she wasn’t interested. Depending on your family, this may be a dinner that is better saved for the adults, but I like to get our kids to eat the food that we eat the majority of the time.

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I would usually serve these beef cheeks with mashed potato or parsnip, or a combination of the two, as well as some steamed greens.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4-5

  • 375mL red wine – a heavier wine such as Shiraz or Cab Sav work well
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1kg beef cheeks
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Zest of 1 orange, cut off in strips
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbs cornflour to thicken

Salsa Verde

  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp baby capers
  • 1 anchovy
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Place the red wine into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for ~10 minutes to reduce the wine. Remove from the heat after 10 minutes.
  2. Heat a frypan, or crockpot (if cooking on the stove or in the oven), over medium heat and add the olive oil and the beef cheeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side to allow them to brown. Remove from heat.
  3. Place the onion in the frypan or crockpot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to give it some colour, add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the onion and garlic to the slow cooker or pot it will be cooked in and add the orange zest, bay leaves, thyme, stock and reduced red wine.
  5. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for at least 6 hours.
  6. If you are cooking on the stove top, cook, covered, over low heat for 3-4 hours or until the beef starts to fall apart. If cooking in the oven, cook, covered for 3-4 hours at ~140°C for 3-4 hours.
  7. While the beef is cooking, make the salsa by placing herbs, mustard, garlic, capers, anchovy and red wine vinegar in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to chop the herbs. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and pulse a few times to combine. The salsa verde should not be completely smooth in consistency, so resist the temptation to over blend.
  8. After the 3-4 or 6 hours, depending on your cooking method, the beef should be very tender and starting to fall apart. At this point the liquid will still be quite thin.
  9. Remove 1 cup of liquid and add 2 tbs of cornflour to this 1 cup of liquid and mix to combine. Return this back into the slow cooker and mix gently to combine. This will help to thicken the sauce.
  10. Place the pot over low heat or increase the heat of the slow cooker and remove the lid and allow the liquid to bubble for around 5 minutes to help to further thicken the sauce.
  11. Serve the beef cheeks with mashed potato or parsnip and drizzle some salsa verde over the top.

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Tahini and Chocolate Chickpea Blondies

With school aged children, the need for nut-free snacks is imperative.

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I have been seeing blondie recipes pop up everywhere lately, especially chickpea blondies, which I love. The only downside is that they all use either peanut butter or almond meal, which is not at all conducive when you can’t send your child to school with nuts (not that school-friendly snacks really matter when you’re schooling from home!!!). So, I have done some experimenting and have come up with these Tahini and Chocolate Chickpea Blondies.

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Don’t let the inclusion of chickpeas put you off as you really cannot taste them. Instead, your body just reaps the rewards of including a member of the pulse family in the diet. Chickpeas provide an excellent source of prebiotic soluble fibre. Prebiotics are the ‘food’ that feed the trillions of good bacteria (also called probiotics or microbes) that reside in your gut, which make up the microbiome. When fed adequately, these microbes flourish and produce short chain fatty acids, which control the permeability of the gut, ensuring that molecules stay inside the intestinal tract, where they belong, rather than leeching out and causing inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body is an underlying cause of many chronic health conditions, so minimising it is very beneficial to overall health and well-being.

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One of the best things about this recipe is that you can pop everything into the food processor and blend it together, meaning only one bowl needs to be washed. Do make sure that you store these blondies in the fridge. One of the batches I made, I left at room temperature and within a couple of days they went mouldy, due to the moisture content of the chickpeas.

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If you don’t love the taste of tahini and have no need for these to be nut free, then you can substitute the tahini for peanut butter, which has a more mild flavour than the tahini. The chocolate is an optional extra, but I highly recommend including it. I have just sprinkled it on top here, but it can be folded through the mixture just before adding it to the pan.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup of hulled tahini
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped or 1/3 cup dark choc bits

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a square baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the oats into the food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the oats.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tahini, maple syrup, dates, eggs, vanilla and baking powder and blend until a smooth, yet slightly lumpy consistency forms. You may need to stop the food processor to scrape down the sides.
  4. If you want the chocolate to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture then fold in the chocolate, otherwise pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the chocolate on top.
  5. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm to touch.
  6. Allow to cool before slicing. Place into an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Apple and Blueberry Baked Oats

One of my new favourite breakfasts, when time allows, is baked oats. With some very fresh mornings this Winter, a nice warm breakfast really hits the spot. Porridge is a breakfast that always goes down a treat in our house, but it’s nice to have something a bit different, yet still have the same, if not more, nutritional properties as a hearty bowl of porridge.

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It took me quite a while to be completely happy with this recipe as I was really wanting something that has a creaminess, almost like custard, which meant playing around with the ratio of oats to eggs/milk, but we got there. I would describe this dish as a mixture between porridge and bread and butter pudding, with a generous spice profile.

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As far as a breakfast goes, this is a very nutritious option. Obviously, being made from rolled oats, it has all the nutritional benefits of a bowl of porridge – low GI carbohydrate and a good source of soluble fibre, providing a sustained energy release, increased satiety and improved digestive health. The addition of eggs and seeds provides a quality source of protein and essential amino acids as well as a dose of healthy fats and a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, choline and B vitamins. The apple and blueberries also provide a good source of fibre, especially when the skin is left on the apple, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.

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Baked oats can be prepared the night before to allow the oats to further soak up some of the liquid and save some time in the morning, or it can all be made in the morning. I prefer to do it the night before, which allows the flavours of the spice and zest to infuse well and 30 minutes of soaking time is taken care of while you sleep! This is also a breakfast that could be made in advance and then portions reheat when ready to eat.

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The kids LOVE this brekky and, after being slightly hesitant initially, they now have generous serves and second helpings most times I’ve made it. We serve it with some thick Greek style yoghurt and if you wanted some additional sweetness, you could serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tbs linseeds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3-4 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Thick Greek style yoghurt, to serve

Method:

The night before:

  1. Place oats, linseeds, spices and zest into a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, maple syrup and vanilla to combine. Pour into the bowl with the oats and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to infuse. Note: this can be done in the morning, but I recommend leaving the oats to sit soaking for at least 20-30 minutes.
  3. In the morning, preheat the oven to 180°C. While the oven is heating, line a large baking dish with baking paper or grease with butter or coconut oil.
  4. Remove the oats from the fridge and pour into the prepared dish. Add the blueberries and gently fold them into the oat mixture. Scatter the apple over the top, pressing some pieces further down into the mixture.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the oats are golden on top and the mixture is firm when pressed lightly on top.
  6. Serve portions with a dollop of thick yoghurt.
  7. Store leftovers, if there are any, in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat when needed or enjoy cold.

 

Slow Cooked Beef Pies

A wholesome, chunky, slow cooked pie makes the perfect dinner or weekend lunch, when the weather is cooler.

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It is so amazing how cooking a cheaper cut of meat for hours on end can turn into the most tender, flavoursome, melt in your mouth meal. Cheaper cuts of meat have higher levels of the protein collagen, which can be quite tough, but when slow cooked, the collagen is broken down into gelatin, which gives a much smoother mouth feel. I have used chuck steak for this this pie, but cuts such as skirt steak, gravy beef or shin would all work well.

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Homemade pies are well received in our household and the majority of the time the kids eat them without any fuss. These beef pies are rich and full of flavour and, if I must say so myself, one of the best pies I’ve tasted. If you wanted to add more veggies into this pie, potato or sweet potato would work well, as would some zucchini. I personally would prefer to leave it as it is and have a side salad for some extra veg.

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I have a pie maker, which makes the whole pie making process much simpler. It involves simply cutting out some pastry for the bottom, placing it in the pie maker, adding some filling and then adding the piece of pastry to the top. Think of a toasted sandwich maker but with a pie hole cut out and that’s what it is. It also meals that if you make more than you need for a particular meal, you can reheat the individual pies in the pie maker in about 5 minutes, rather than the best part of an hour in the oven, achieving perfectly crispy pastry every time. An investment well worth making!

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These pies can be made in a batch and frozen, then re-heated for another meal at a later date.

I hope you enjoy these pies as much as I do. xx

Ingredients:

Makes 6-7 small pies or 1-2 large pies

  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1kg chuck steak
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 sticks celery, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • Puff pastry – 1 sheet for family sized pie, 6 sheets for individual pies
  • 1 egg yolk (for family sized pie)

Method:

  1. Heat a medium fry pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the steak and brown each side for 3-4 minutes. *If your slow cooker has a sear function, do this step in the slow cooker.
  2. Once browned, place beef into the slow cooker and add the vegetables, herbs, garlic, wine, tomato paste and stock. Mix as best you can to roughly combine. Turn slow cooker to low heat and cook for 7-8 hours, stirring once or twice during this time (stirring is not essential).
  3. Once the cooking time has lapsed, gently pull the beef apart and mix to spread evenly through the mixture.
  4. At this point, you may need to thicken the mixture slightly to make it more of a gravy. To do this, you can either add some flour or evaporate some of the liquid.
  5. To evaporate some of the liquid, you can set your slow cooker to a higher setting and remove the lid and allow it to simmer until the sauce thickens.
  6. To make it more of a gravy, take about 1/2 a cup of the liquid out of the slow cooker and place into a small bowl, add the 2 tbs of flour and mix to form a paste. Add the paste back into the bulk mixture and mix to combine.
  7. PIE MAKER: If you have a pie maker, turn it on and cut out the pastry circles, place the bottom piece of pastry in the pie maker, add ~1/2 a cup of filling and then add top piece of pastry. Repeat with remaining pies. Cook until pastry is crispy.
  8. OVEN: Turn the oven on to 200°C and prepare a pie dish. Place filling into pie dish and brush the rim of the dish with some egg yolk to help the pastry to stick. Drape the sheet of pastry over the top and trim around the edges. Brush the top with remaining egg yolk and place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.
  9. The pies will keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and will freeze well for up to 3 months.

Lemon, Blueberry and White Chocolate Muffins

It’s been awhile since I have shared a muffin recipe and I seem to be baking a new batch a few times a fortnight, so I thought I’d come up with something new.

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Lemon and Blueberry are always a great flavour combination, and the addition of any form of chocolate to a muffin makes most people happy. These are a light, fresh and flavoursome muffin. All of the kids have enjoyed the 2 batches of these that I have made, even when I forgot the milk in one of the batches….ooops!

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These are a simple one bowl muffin and freeze really well. They are also great for the kids lunchboxes, now that the restrictions are starting to lift and schools have returned…for us in Australia, at least.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 90g butter, melted
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips or roughly chopped white chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven top 200°C and prepare an 18 hole muffin tray(s) for medium sized muffins or a 12-15 hole muffin tray for larger muffins.
  2. Place flours, baking powder, bicarb soda and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add the lemon juice, milk, eggs, butter, maple syrup and vanilla and stir to combine.
  4. Add the blueberries and white chocolate and fold through the mixture, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Divide the mixture between the muffin holes and place into the oven and bake for ~15 minutes or until the muffins bounce back when pressed on top.