Strawberry Cheesecake

I don’t tend to bake sweet treats much these days. Not because I don’t enjoy it (I really do!) – its just that I generally crave savoury snacks over sweet – particularly when the weather is warmer. But now that the days are getting shorter, and t-shirts are being replaced with snuggly knits and scarves – there is something quite comforting about indulging in something sweet.

This strawberry cheesecake made an appearance at our Easter lunch. Actually it was one of two cakes we made for the occasion (the other being a tim tam cheesecake). I loved its simplicity – and the fact that the beautiful strawberries were the star of the show. It was also a non-baked version – so we could pull it together the day before.

I used shortbread for the base – flavoured with a little coconut. The creamy filling was made with cream cheese, cream, sweetened condensed milk and, of course, fresh strawberries. Jazzed up with a little fresh lime juice and zest.

The overall result was a cheesecake that was effortlessly delicious. Packed with flavour (and had me going back for seconds in the days that followed). A nice break from the chocolate overload over Easter too!

Print Recipe
Strawberry Cheesecake
Course Baking
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Baking
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a springform baking tin.
  2. Process biscuits and coconut until they are a fine crumb. Add the melted butter, and process until combined. Press into the prepared tin, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the cream cheese and condensed milk to a clean food processor, and process until smooth. Add 400g of the strawberries and cream, and continue to process until smooth.
  4. Heat the lime juice in a small saucepan until simmering. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, and add to the heated juice. Stir until dissolved, then allow to cool slightly.
  5. Add the gelatine mix to the processor, along with the lime zest, and process until combined. Carefully pour the mixture on top of the base, and refrigerate until set.
  6. Remove the cake from the tin, and top with extra strawberries to serve.
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Curried quinoa and sprout soup

I can be little predicable when it comes to soup. Pumpkin is a family favourite, as is chicken or vegetable soup when there are sniffles in the household. Potato and leek is a regular go-to, as is tomato (with fond memories of childhood family lunches where the soup was mopped up with slices of freshly baked bread).

But a soup in a recent Woolworths (?) magazine caught my attention. Not only did it have one of my favourite ingredients (quinoa) it also included a packet of crunchy sprouts. Something I had never thought of including in a soup before!

The soup was flavoured with fennel and mustard seeds, along with garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry powder. Aside from the sprouts and quinoa, I also added zucchini, celery, carrot, tomatoes and capsicum. Served with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of coriander.

What a truly tasty and hearty meal this turned out to be! I loved the spiciness and the crunch of the sprouts, and we readily went back for seconds when our first bowls disappeared. A perfect little addition to our regular soup regime indeed.

Print Recipe
Curried quinoa and sprout soup
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the fennel and mustard seeds and cook for a minute or so or until they start to pop.
  2. Add celery, garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry powder. Cook for a few minutes - or until the celery starts to soften.
  3. Add the zucchini, carrot, sprouts and quinoa, and stir to coat in the spice mixture.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, capsicum, stock and 2 cups water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir through the coriander leaves and season to taste.
  5. To serve - divide the soup among serving bowls and top with extra coriander and a spoonful of yoghurt.
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Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup

Yes, friends, Summer is feeling like a long time ago (and a long time to come around again).

Our hats have been replaced with beanies, shorts with warm pants and I am well and truly wearing layers and gloves on my morning walk. My car’s windscreen is already icy in the morning (having given up my spot in the garage to a cubby house that has been under construction for far too long), and the kids have been asking for hot chocolates instead of their usual smoothies.

So I guess it is no surprise that hearty, comfort food has returned to our weekly meal plans. The slow cooker is generally on my kitchen bench, or a stew slowly bubbling away in the oven.  And, when I am feeling particularly needy of a cosy meal, a soup will almost certainly be on the stove top.

This Thai-style pumpkin and cauliflower soup made a welcomed appearance a little while ago. The vegetables were roasted, then combined with red curry paste, onion, chicken stock and a little coconut milk. Cooked and blended to perfection, then topped with fresh coriander, a drizzle of coconut milk and some fried wonton wrappers.

Hearty and delicious! With a great yield too so we had lots leftover for lunch and dinner the following days.





Print Recipe


Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup

Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours

Servings
people


Ingredients

Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours

Servings
people


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper.

  2. Place the pumpkin and cauliflower on the trays and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from oven and set-aside.

  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, and sauté the onion until starting to soften. Add the curry paste, and cook - stirring - for one minute.

  4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the pumpkin and cauliflower and simmer for 15 minutes.

  5. Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Stir in half of the coconut milk and season as necessary.

  6. Divide the soup amongst serving bowls. Tope with an extra drizzle of coconut milk, the wonton strips and fresh coriander.


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Cooking with Kids: Healthier Fried Rice

Today’s post comes courtesy of Miss C – who started Grade 1 this year, and has been delivering her first ever school projects.  The focus last term was on healthy eating and lifestyles (something we are only too happy to embrace!) and saw the students do 3 presentations on various topics.

The first project required the students to cook a healthy meal and present it to the class. When tasked with the project, Miss C had no hesitation in suggesting that she make her healthier fried rice – aka something that my kids request quite often for lunch or dinner. Sure it has a little bacon, but the remaining ingredients are healthy, and the method is simple, making it a rather perfect meal for kids to help create and share!

Miss C had so much fun measuring out the ingredients, and setting up her cooking equipment. She then created a poster, outlining the various steps – as follows…

  1. Get your ingredients. On this occasion it was brown rice, peas, corn, bacon and a little soy sauce. We’ve also used carrots, zucchini and eggs on previous occasions. 2. Grab a pan and heat a little oil over a medium heat (with the help of a grown up of course!).3. Add your ingredients, heat and stir.

4. Serve and Enjoy!My little budding chef and her grand creation. And I’m told she did beautifully in presenting her project to the class also (proud parent moment right there!!)

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…

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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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Potato and Camembert Pasties

Meat pies.

An iconic Aussie treat, that I have just never been into.

Perhaps it stems from my lack of interest in gravy, or perhaps the lack of good meat (generally) in the pie itself

Instead, you’ll find me ordering a sausage roll when we stop at the Bakery for lunch. Or, even better, a vegetable-packed pasty.

Recently, with a view to not letting my freezer hoard of puff pastry get out of hand again, I decided to make some pasties at home. My version ended up quite different to the usual variety though (and I suspect far more indulgent). For the flaky pastry was filled with creamy potato, mustard and camembert cheese.

I made large versions on this occasion, but think they would also work well as smaller ‘finger food’ for a party or special event.

You can keep your meat pies. I’ll take these pasties any day!

 

Print Recipe
Potato and Camembert Pasties
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes, cream, mustards and garlic in a small saucepan. Simmer over a medium heat for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Season and set aside to cool slightly. Stir through the camembert and spring onions.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Cut a 20cm circle from each of the pastry sheets, and top half of each of the circles with a 1/4 of the potato mixture, leaving a border.
  3. Brush egg around the edge of the pastry circles and carefully fold in half to enclose the filling. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
  4. Brush the tops of the pasties with a little egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Vegetable and Bean Chilli

I spoke a little while ago about make ahead meals. Ones that I can prepare in advance, then reheat when dinnertime arrives. Well the other advantage of these meals is that you often have leftovers too – which can be portioned and frozen for future meals.

And so with the husband making his way back from Sydney the other day – I dove into the freezer and pulled out two portions of this vegetable and bean chilli. Reheated on the stove top, and kept warm until he walked in the door. Served with quinoa, and finished with some fresh parsley.

 This vegetarian chilli is packed with beans, spices and vegetables. In fact, it is so filled with flavour that you don’t miss the meat component at all. And while on this occasion I served the chilli with quinoa, you could easily substitute the quinoa for rice or even tortillas. The addition of fresh avocado or some  natural yoghurt or sour cream would also work beautifully if you had any on hand.

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Bean Chilli
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add the spices, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
  4. Add the vegetables, and stir to coat with the spices.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans and water, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir through the spinach, cacao powder and parsley, and heat for a few minutes, Season to taste.
  7. Divide and among serving bowls, and serve with quinoa or rice and extra parsley.
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