Savoury cheese and ham muffins

Why is it always the case that during the school week I have to (sometimes literally) drag the kids out of bed, yet on Sunday – when we can all sleep in – they are up at 5.30am and ready to start the day!?

Yes, as I lay in bed this morning, enjoying what I thought was going to be a little extra snooze time, the all-to-familiar call came through the monitor. Followed by a  little patter of feet down the hall. No amount of coaxing could get the girls back to bed, so that was it – our day officially started.

We played games, we ate breakfast (and second breakfast), we read stories, we more than likely annoyed the neighbours when we took the fun outside (sorry), and we even did a little baking.  And all before 9.00am.

On the menu? Savoury muffins – made with only 6 ingredients.

Flour, grated cheese, ham, milk, egg and olive oil. Kept very simple on this occasion as I plan to use them in the kids’ lunch boxes this week (and anything ‘green’ or ‘unusual’ is likely to be met with disdain at the moment).

While I measured the ingredients, the girls had fun stirring them and dividing them amongst the cases. Into the oven for 20 minutes, and we soon had ourselves a tasty morning tea.

I love the simplicity of this recipe – but it could easily be jazzed up for more adventurous palates. Some fresh herbs, sundried tomatoes or zucchini would be lovely, or even some olives if you had some on hand.

Oh and the littlest one, in particular,  wasted no time in sampling our efforts!

Print Recipe
Savoury cheese and ham muffins
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Keyword muffin
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Keyword muffin
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Place the sifted flour, 3/4 of the cheese and the ham in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and olive oil.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Spoon into the prepared cases and top with the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
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Tropical Rice Salad

As luck would have it, we have been blessed with some gorgeous Spring weather this week. I’m ignoring the fact that the forecast suggests the temperature is set to dip again this weekend though, instead focusing on the hope that the warmer weather will arrive for good soon.

And in celebration of Spring, let me share with you a tasty salad that featured at our recent Father’s Day linner. On that occasion we served the salad as a side dish, but I think it would easily make for a yummy lunch on its own too.

Packed with wombok, brown rice, tomatoes, pineapple and fresh herbs, and jazzed up with toasted coconut and sweet chilli cashews, this salad sure packed a punch.

I used this recipe as a base – swapping in brown rice instead of basmati – and it was super easy to throw together. I loved the crunch of the wombok and cashews, and the sweetness of the pineapple definitely gave the salad a tropical feel. Definitely a salad that will be making further appearances as we head into the warmer months!

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!!)

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?

Poached chicken and coleslaw salad

I’ve been back at work for around 6 weeks now, working 3 days per week in the office. Slowly but surely we are working out what is to be the new ‘normal’ – with the 3 days I’m in the office being referred to by the little members in our house as the “rush days”.

For these particular days, bags are packed and clothes are set out the night before, and I spend time preparing as much as I can for lunches over the weekend. I’m generally up at 4.30am to fit in a walk before the household wakes, then it is home to shower, make breakfast, feed the baby, throw smoothies at the biggest kids,   wrangle everyone into clothes and into the car – so that we can leave the house by 7.30am to get to the various daycare / school drop offs and (finally) head into work.

Yes “rush” would be an understatement.

So I’m sure that you can understand that by the third rush day everyone’s energy levels are starting to wane and tempers are running a little high. The kids (and I!) start to get a bit more cranky, and getting out of the house takes a little more gentle persuasion than on the first rush day.

Constant throughout this new ‘normal’, however, is our preference for easy and speedy midweek meals. Actually, not just a preference – a must. Something healthy and that is full of flavour, to keep our batteries recharged.

Take this poached chicken and coleslaw salad for instance. Pulled together with relative ease in no time at all.

I poached chicken breasts in chicken stock, with some peppercorns, ginger and garlic. Shredded then added to a coleslaw salad, made with mesculin, shredded purple cabbage, carrots, spring onions and a little corn I had leftover in the fridge. Dressed simply with sesame oil, soy and lemon juice, and finished with sliced red chilli and a good amount of coriander.

Easy, fuss-free and healthy. Not to mention SPEEDY – giving us more time to prepare for the rush day ahead.

Cocktail Hour: Mango Margarita

We are really fortunate to have made some great friends in our street. Two couples who have kids of a similar age – living only a few houses away.  Despite all being rather busy with work, and life, we’ve been making a point of catching up when we can. For playdates here and there, or for family-friendly lunches on the weekend when the kids can run amok while the adults catch up on the happenings of late.

This last weekend, we did just that. It was our turn to host, and while I initially thought of putting on a BBQ lunch, I ended up going with a Mexican theme instead. Specifically – pulled pork made in the slow cooker – with tortillas, coleslaw, rice and other trimmings on the side. In fact, it ended up being a rather perfect cosy lunch as temperatures had dropped and the rain fell heavily outside.

And what better way to accompany a Mexican lunch, than with some mango margaritas!

Made with tequila, Cointreau, frozen mango, orange and lime juices – blended to icy perfection.

Served in a lime and salt rimmed glass, and well they were a great start to a wonderful afternoon with friends.

The added bonus being that it was only a short walk home for our guests!

 

Print Recipe
Mango Margarita
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve in glasses rimmed with lime and salt.
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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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Fancy Fruit Platter

With the festivities of the Christmas season now in full swing, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite additions to the family breakfast table.  For when the sun is shining, and day ahead is filled with family and celebrations, we like to keep things light and simple at breakfast time (no doubt saving all important calories for later in the day).

Namely – a Fancy Fruit Platter.

Put a bowl of whole fruit in front of me, and I will look at it with relative ambivalence. But slice the fruit and make it into a salad or a fruit platter? Well you won’t keep me (or the kids!) away from it.

On this occasion we filled the platter with all the wonderful seasonal fruits the market had on offer.  Mango, melon, pineapple, pear, passionfruit, kiwi fruit, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, grapes and blueberries.

Served with some lovely vanilla bean yoghurt and honey granola, and we had ourselves quite the delicious start to the day.