Spinach and ricotta ‘sausage’ rolls

After realising that I can be a bit of a frozen puff-pastry hoarder, I’ve been looking for ways to make sure we use up the packets before they are lost in the depths of our chest freezer. Sausage rolls, in the traditional sense, have been baked in abundance for this reason, and are definitely a ‘go to’ for parties and entertaining. As are my favourite savoury scrolls – which are always a great lunchbox addition.

So when I was looking for a vegetarian dish to contribute to our recent Good Friday lunch, and also a way to finish off the half pack of puff pastry I had in the freezer, these lovely little spinach and ricotta rolls came to be.

Filled with the goodness of spinach, and jazzed up with both ricotta and feta – this vegetarian take on the ol’ sausage roll proved rather delicious. And they will now feature on my ‘bring a plate’ favourites list for sure!

Print Recipe
Spinach and ricotta 'sausage' rolls
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can, then place in a large bowl with the ricotta, feta, egg and lemon zest. Stir to combine, and season.
  3. Cut each pastry sheet in half. Place 1/4 of the spinach mixture down the long side of each sheet. Brush the opposite side with egg, and roll to enclose.
  4. Cut each roll into 6 pieces, and place onto the lined baking trays. Brush the tops with a little more egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Oven-baked edamame felafels

We tend to have at least one meat-free day a week. It isn’t necessarily ‘planned’,  as such, it just tends to work out that way when we are deciding what our dinners will be for the week. Be it tofu, or perhaps beans, the choices seem to be relatively endless.

One vegetarian product that I always make sure we have in the freezer is edamame. For not only are they great as a snack, or tossed through a salad, but I love using them as ‘base’ in recipes that call for beans. On this particular occasion (which in the interests of full disclosure, was a month or so ago now) edamame starred alongside chickpeas to create some tasty felafels.

And not only were they tasty, they were oven-baked – meaning that they were a healthy version too.

Simply – edamame (defrosted and podded), combined with chickpeas, pistachios, lemon zest and juice, garlic and some spices. Shaped into balls and baked for 30 minutes or so – or until golden brown and lightly crispy.

We served the felafels with wholemeal pita pockets and salad, with a good amount of natural yogurt and hummus on the side- resulting in a rather tasty vegetarian dinner. 

You can find the recipe I used here. 

What about you? What is your favourite vegetarian meal?

Easy savoury scolls

And just like that, the Summer holidays have come to a close. School uniforms have been ironed, school and day-care bags have been cleaned, and school lunches are again, inevitably, on my mind.

I returned to work part-time last week too, which means that organising lunches and meals in advance is even more of a necessity. I’ve decided to make Sundays my  preparation day – with the hope that an hour or so of food preparation on Sunday will make things a lot easier during the rushed weekday mornings.

Sandwiches are made and frozen, fruit and vegetables are sliced, eggs are boiled and, on this particular occasion, a big batch of savoury scrolls was baked.

These were made even easier by using ready-made puff pastry. For all I had to do was top the sheets of pastry (I went with cheesy vegemite and “‘pizza”), roll them, slice and bake.

And while the kids demolished quite a few scrolls straight from the oven, the others were packaged up and placed in the freezer for a quick ‘grab and go’ addition to the lunchbox. My kids don’t mind eating the scrolls cold once thawed, however you can easily re-heat them for 10 minutes or so in the oven if you are wanting a nice after-school treat. 

And they made a pretty moreish afternoon snack for the grownups too!

 

Print Recipe
Easy savoury scrolls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
scrolls
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
scrolls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 175C (fan forced) and line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Place two pastry sheets on a clean work surface. Spread with vegemite and top with half of the cheese. Roll up to enclose filling - brushing the edge with a little of the beaten egg to seal.
  3. Place the other two pasty sheets on a clean work surface. Spread with the tomato paste, and top with ham and the remaining cheese. Roll up to enclose filling - brushing the edge with a little of the beaten egg to seal.
  4. Slice each roll into 8 pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, on the lined baking trays. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg at this stage if you'd like the scrolls to be even more golden brown).
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack.
  6. Serve warm or cool.
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Tim Tam Slice

I wanted to try a new slice creation when asked to ‘bring a plate’ to a friend’s BBQ the other week. Normally I take my rocky road, or lemon slice, but with a packet of Tim Tams sitting in the cupboard – well I had my inspiration to try something new.

On the subject of Tim Tams – they really are quite iconically Australian, aren’t they. So much so that when we had Japanese exchange students stay with us when I was younger, they took back packets of Tim Tams by the suitcase-load.  They weren’t all that fussed about Vegemite, but they couldn’t get enough when it came to Tim Tams!

But I digress.

This ‘no bake’ Tim Tam slice was made simply with biscuits, Tim Tams (of course), condensed milk, butter, coconut and cocoa powder.

Combined, pressed into a pan, then topped with white chocolate and more biscuit pieces. Then it was into the fridge to set – no baking required.

Then, after a few hours, the slice was ready to slice and serve.

I’m pleased to report that the slice had all the hallmarks of their biscuit inspiration. Full of chocolate and crunch.

A word of warning though….you may find it difficult to stop at just once piece…

Print Recipe
Tim Tam Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 20 minutes + cooling time
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 20 minutes + cooling time
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan, and heat over a low heat - stirring until the butter has melted and the mixture is combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the Marie biscuits, half of the chopped Tim Tams and coconut in a large bowl. Add the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Press into the prepared slice tin.
  4. Melt the white chocolate, and pour over the slice. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped Tim Tams and place into the fridge for a few hours to set. Slice and serve.
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Nutty Date & Chocolate Slice

My two eldest girls can be quite challenging when it comes to food. Miss C will happily eat avocado, mangoes and prawn dumplings by the bucket load, but is generally not all that food focused at meal times (preferring instead to snack and graze throughout the day). Little J would happily have yoghurt for breakfast lunch and dinner, and has no interest in more ‘traditional’ meals such as sandwiches.

Needless to say that if I was to present them with a bowl filled with dates, they would be looked at with suspicion and remain uneaten.

Put dates in a chocolate covered slice however? Well that proved to be a winner!

This slice contains no flour, no eggs, but it does contain nuts so is not allergy-friendly for school lunchboxes.

The texture of this slice is almost fudge-like, and we all loved the little pops of crunchiness throughout. Covering the slice in dark chocolate took the whole slice to the next level too – and worked perfectly to fool my suspicious eaters!

Print Recipe
Nutty Date & Chocolate Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Slice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper, leaving a little overhanging the edges.
  2. Process the dates and nut butter in a food processor for a few minutes, until the mixture is well combined and forms a paste. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir through the puffed rice and chopped nuts.
  3. Press the mixture firmly into the lined tin (it will be quite sticky so you may want to use wet hands to do this). Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the slice, and place in the fridge to set for 1 hour. Cut the slice into squares and serve.
Recipe Notes

Keep the slice in the fridge until ready to eat as it will soften at room temperature.

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My favourite Lemon and Coconut Slice

When asked to “bring a plate”, I often lean towards creating a sweet treat. Rocky road is usually my “go to” sweet, and is generally well received, but on other occasions I like to bring a plate of lemon slice.  For it is easy to make, requires no baking, and the leftovers keep really well too.

Recently I offered to make a couple slices for a birthday party. I had a few chocolate based ones in mind, and figured my favourite lemon slice would work beautifully as a nice flavour contrast to those. And with some lemons leftover from the peach and lemon cake, well it was a no-brainer really.

So one dreary morning, my helpers and I got to work. Lemons were juiced and zested, biscuits were crumbed and condensed milk and butter were heated. And before too long we had ourselves a big tray of lemon slice, sprinkled with coconut, and ready to be sliced and served.

This was a great slice to make with the kids too. They had a lot of fun turning the food processor on and off, and stirring the coconut and melted ingredients into the biscuit crumbs. Bowls and spoons were licked not long after, and coconut was liberally sprinkled over the iced slice (and most of the kitchen benchtop, but let’s not talk about that…!)

Print Recipe
Lemon and Coconut Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl, add the coconut, lemon juice and zest, and stir to combine.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a saucepan. Heat slowly, over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the biscuit mixture, and stir until well combined. Press firmly into a slice tin (that is lined with baking paper), and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the icing sugar and extra lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the ingredients have combined. Spread over the chilled slice, and sprinkle with extra coconut. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or overnight) then slice and serve.
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Peach and Lemon cake

Do you have something that you like the idea of, more than you actually like?

For me, one such thing is  cake. Sure I love creating and baking cakes, but the eating part – yeah not so much. I tend to find them a bit rich and sweet, and after few bites, I’m generally done.

It’s not that I hate cake, it’s just not what I tend to choose when considering the dessert menu.

And it seems that Miss C also shares my ambivalence towards cake. At parties she will politely take a slice of birthday cake when offered, if anything not to miss out on the ritual of the celebration, but moments later she will inevitably ask me quietly if she actually has to eat it.

A lolly bag on the other hand? Well she can empty that in a matter of seconds.

This little cake, however, I thoroughly enjoyed.  It was rustic, light and lemony, and not overly sweet. The little pops of fresh peach throughout were also a nice flavour surprise.

In fact, I enjoyed this cake so much that I ate the whole slice. Who knows, I might even have another slice today…

Print Recipe
Peach and Lemon Cake
Course Baking
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160C, and grease / line a round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest for 5 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and yoghurt, and mix until just combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, and top with sliced peaches.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
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Lemon Meringue Tartlets

I am by no means a green thumb.

Gardening does not come naturally to me, and with the frosty Canberra winters, and hot dry summers, well needless to say – we have lost our fair share of plants over the years.

However, there are two plants I seem to be able to grow in abundance – rosemary and lavender.  In fact, I don’t seem to be able to keep up with their growth – resulting in a decent day of pruning the other week.

The other plant that has survived with relatively little intervention is our lemon tree.  I suspect we just got lucky when we planted it, for despite minimal work on our part, it has given us lots of lemons. Even if it is only still a small tree.

And there is something rather wonderful about being able to collect lemons from your own tree, don’t you think? Which is exactly what I did a few weeks ago when asked to bring a “sweet” to share at a BBQ with our neighbours.

The lemons were soon turned into lemon curd, which was then used to fill homemade tartlet cases, and topped with a little meringue. It wasn’t the quickest of sweets to make, and probably not one that I would make if time was short, but over the course of the day the tartlets came together and the end result was quite pleasing.

I loved the vibrancy of the lemon curd, which on this occasion was not overly sweet and still a little tart. I decided not to go too overboard with the meringue either, stopping at just a few piped rounds – although I could have quite easily been more generous and covered the whole of the tartlet with meringue.

Here’s hoping our lemon tree continues to yield!

Print Recipe
Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
tartlets
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
tartlets
Ingredients
Instructions
Curd
  1. Start by making the lemon curd - a day in advance, if possible. Combine the lemon juice, zest, caster sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water, and heat slowly - whisking continuously. The mixture will slowly turn from a frothy consistency to a thick, velvety consistency - and you will know that it is ready when you can coat the back of a spoon and draw a clear line through it. At this stage, remove the curd from the heat, and whisk through the cold butter until the mixture is rich and glossy. Set aside until ready to use (or place in the fridge overnight).
Tartlets
  1. To make the tartlets, place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a food processor, and pulse until the butter has been cut in. Add the egg, and continue to process until the dough just comes together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough gently. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180C, and lightly grease 12 tartlet cases.
  3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is around 4mm thick. Cut out suitably-sized rounds from the dough, and press into the tartlet cases - trimming off any excess. Prick the base of each case a few times with a fork. Place the tartlet cases on a baking tray, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove the shells and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the meringue, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, one spoonful at a time, continuing to whisk until you have stiff peaks.
  5. To assemble - pipe lemon curd into each of tartlet case. Top with meringue, and brown slightly using a kitchen blow torch.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have tartlet cases, you could make the tartlets using a mini muffin tray.

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Cherry Ripe Power Balls

Growing up, our family had a regular Sunday night ritual. After dinner, Dad would present four chocolates of different varieties to the family, with instructions that we could each choose one. We’d then sit down to some TV time as a family, and noting the era, we probably watched an episode of The Wonder Years, Xena Warrior Princess or, perhaps, Home Improvement.

Generally Dad presented a mars bar, a crunchie bar, a picnic and a cherry ripe. Or, if he was feeling particularly creative, maybe a curly wurly or a kit kat.  And generally there were no arguments when it came time to choose, with each family member having their preferred variety of sugar hit.

Dad would take the picnic bar, Mum would take the cherry ripe, and my brother and I would negotiate over whatever was left.

Although, if we were to have that ritual these days, I would almost certainly opt for the cherry ripe.

For dark chocolate + cherries = yes please!

These tasty little cherry ripe power balls use dates, dried cherries, coconut and cocoa to create a flavour combination that is not all that dissimilar to the ol’ cherry ripe bar.  They are rich, but not overly sweet.

They are, however, a lot healthier and definitely lunchbox friendly – as well as a tasty snack to reach for throughout the day.

What about you? What is your favourite chocolate bar?

Print Recipe
Cherry Ripe Power Balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
balls
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.
  2. Shape and roll into balls, and place on a paper-lined plate. Store in the fridge.
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Raspberry and Pistachio Brownies

I’m all for a little indulgence, albeit in moderation. And what could be more indulgent that a chocolate / nut / berry combination – in the form of a homemade brownie. Inspired by a recipe I came across in My Darling Lemon Thyme’s cookbook (ps how gorgeous are her photos!), these luscious brownies made an appearance after dinner a little while ago.

Filled to the absolute brim with dark chocolate, pistachios and raspberries, they were far from “healthy”, but ticked all the boxes when it came to satisfying my sweet tooth. The raspberries added a nice touch of tartness too, meaning the end result was not sickly sweet, while the pistachios gave the slices a little texture.

On this occasion, we served the brownies warm for dessert, with a little vanilla bean ice-cream on the side. The remaining brownies kept well in the fridge for the next few days, becoming more fudge-like (with no complaints there either!).

So, if you are looking to satisfy a craving for sweets, may I suggest you make a batch of these! Be warned, though, they were hard to stop at just one piece…

Print Recipe
Raspberry and Pistachio Brownies
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 22 x 30cm slice tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine the oil, 200g of the chopped chocolate, sugars and salt in a small saucepan. Melt, stirring often, over a low heat. Add the vanilla, remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture, one at a time, ensuring they incorporate well. Add the almond meal, and sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  4. Add half of the raspberries and pistachios, and 25g of the chopped chocolate, and stir until just combined. Spread into the prepared slice tray, and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate, raspberries and pistachios.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then slice.
Recipe Notes

These brownies will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for 2 to 3 days. You can also keep them in the fridge for a week or so, where they will become more fudge-like.

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