Thursday Tipples 16 / Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch
I have a little confession to make. I haven’t been drinking much lately, like almost at all. It’s not like I was ever an excessive drinker, but I used to love winding down after work with a glass of red wine. I’ve never been keen on doing Feb Fast or Dry July. And if I want a drink, like a chilled glass of Rosé on a warm night, I’ll surely have one. But I haven’t wanted one. Pinot Noir used to be my favourite, but I can tell you the last time I had a glass was in 2015.

At first I thought it was weird – I was the boozy desserts girl after all – but then I realised this is just a season in my life, and it’s completely fine. But I do still love creating cocktails because I love experimenting with flavours. I’ll just share it with my housemate afterwards!

Today I want to share one of my favourite things to make when I have guests – this super pretty Party Iced Tea Punch. It is a total crowd pleaser. I first made this for a Christmas lunch with my girl friends, where one was a new Mum and the rest were driving. So I was looking for a drink that we could share that wasn’t Pimm’s or Sangria (our usuals). And this iced tea punch was born.

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch
I love that this ‘recipe’ is super versatile. You can make it with booze or without (it’s good both ways, I promise) and use different kinds of tea depending on your taste, and whatever berries and fruit you like. I’ve made it in a pitcher to serve 2 or 3 and also in my big trifle bowl for a bigger crowd. It’s a winner. Promise.

The secret weapon in this punch is the lychee berry ice cubes. I’ve talked before about flavoured ice cubes as a revelation to keep your drink cold but not diluted. In fact because the ice cubes are made with lychee juice, the drink gets even more and more delicious as they begin to melt. They make your drink look so pretty and are the easiest thing in the world to make the night before you are having guests.

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch
Now lets talk about tea. This post is not sponsored but I have to say that T2 has been making some of the most delicious and interesting teas in Australia for the last few years. I’ve made this punch with both Ayurvedic Passion (the best smelling tea ever) and Green Rose (the second best) – both delicious. You can use whatever you like, but I’d definitely recommend a green tea base over black tea so your delicate fruit flavours can shine through. Bonus points if your tea has some delicious flower or fruit profiles in it too.

In the punch I also used extra berries (frozen are totally fine here!) as well as lychees, apple slices, mint leaves and topped up with soda or lemonade for a little extra sweetness. And, if you’re looking for a boozy version, Hendricks gin has notes of rose and cucumber and works really well here. Every time I have made this Iced Tea Punch it has been a total crowd pleaser, so I hope you try it the next time your girl friends come over.

Related Post: The Garden Party Cocktail

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch

Serves 2-3 but can be scaled up

Lychee Ice Cubes

  • 1 can lychees in juice
  • Fresh or frozen raspberries
  • Mint leaves

Iced Tea

  • 3-4 tablespoons loose leaf green tea of your choice
  • 60ml gin (optional)
  • Fresh of frozen raspberries
  • Mint leaves
  • 1/2 green apple, sliced with a mandoline
  • Lemonade or soda, to top up

To make the lychee ice cubes, I used a large six square cube ice cube tray. Place 1 lychee and a few raspberries and mint leaves into each ice cube and top up with lychee juice. Place in the freezer overnight.

To make the iced tea, brew your green tea with boiled water at least 2 hours in advance. I also like to do this the night before because I love my tea strong.

When your guests arrive, fill your pitcher halfway with cooled green tea. Add the gin if using, extra raspberries, mint leaves, green apples, and ice cubes. Top up with lemonade or soda and give it a stir with the end of a wooden spoon to evenly disperse the fruit. Serve immediately.

Pretty Party Iced Tea Punch

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl
I love green smoothies. I totally credit them with starting my day off right with a big serving of fruit, vegetables and healthy fats, and helping my immune system out. And I haven’t caught a cold in ages! Most days I drink them on the go, but on those (rare) lazy mornings when I have the time, I love to make a smoothie bowl. It just makes me happy to eat a breakfast that looks so pretty! I also love the opportunity to add even more colour, crunch and texture on top like fresh fruit, coconut, granola, chia seeds, nuts or anything else you like.

Today’s recipe, a Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl definitely tastes as good as it looks! I think this may be the first time ever that I haven’t used greens as the base for my smoothie – which feels a little bit indulgent – but as you’ll see below, the ingredients I’ve used still have a heap of amazing health benefits to get you feeling good first thing in the morning.

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl
I’d happily eat this for either breakfast or dessert! Instead of kale, our base today is raspberries and bananas, both frozen. There are a couple of reasons I’ve opted for frozen fruit here. It’s summer in the southern hemisphere right now and we’ve been having some very hot days recently, so a cool refreshing breakfast is definitely a good thing. While this smoothie is celebrating lots of seasonal summer produce, frozen raspberries are available affordably all year round and have all the same nutritional benefits as fresh.

Raspberries are so amazingly good for you, high in fibre and vitamins and low in sugar compared to many other fruits. They help to make the smoothie nice and filling. And the most important reason is that frozen fruit – especially bananas – help to thicken the smoothie. which is necessary when you’re enjoying it in a bowl so it’s scoopable and your toppings don’t sink to the bottom!

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl
I’ve also used some other beautiful seasonal fruits both in the smoothie and on top – white peach for a little sweetness, a fig for its fibre and minerals and I decided to try tropical dragonfruit for the first time. I liked it’s subtle taste and it looks super pretty as a topping, but I also learned that it’s also high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, anti-inflammatory benefits and more! As well as the fruit, I’ve added a little cacao which goes beautifully with raspberry for extra indulgence and chia seeds for protein and to help thicken it.

No two smoothies I make are ever the same, based on what is in season, and more importantly – what I currently have in the fridge! So please feel free to use this base recipe as a starting point and experiment with other ingredients and toppings that you love. This recipe makes one really large smoothie bowl that should definitely keep you full until lunchtime, or you can share it with your sweetie for a beautiful Valentine’s Day breakfast.

Related Post: My Favourite Green Smoothie

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1 or 2

For the smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 small bananas (preferably frozen)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Coconut & Almond milk
  • 1/2 white peach
  • 1 fig
  • 2 slices dragonfruit, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon cacao
  • 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

For the toppings

  • Fresh coconut flakes
  • Extra raspberies, fresh or frozen
  • 2 slices dragonfruit, cut into heart shapes (optional)
  • 2 slices white peach
  • Edible flowers, optional

To make the smoothie, place the frozen raspberries and bananas and 1/2 cup Coconut & Almond milk into your blender or NutriBullet. Blend until they have broken down. Add the peach, fig, dragonfruit, cacao and chia seeds and blend again for 1 minute or until smooth. Check the consistency and add the extra almond milk if it’s too thick, but remember we are going for a nice scoopable consistency.

To serve the smoothie bowl, pour into a large bowl, or two if you’re sharing. Top in your own creative way with coconut, extra raspberries, dragonfruit, peach slices and edible flowers or your favourite things! Enjoy straight away.

Raspberry and Cacao Smoothie Bowl

Simple Dinners 19 / Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles

Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles
Today I’d love to share a Simple Dinner recipe that my housemate and I cook a lot – Spicy Pork and Tahini noodles. K first made it for me a couple of years ago, recreating it from memory from an old Chinese cookery book. After one bite, I was sold. This dish has become a firm part of our weeknight cooking repertoire, which comes together easily and quickly, but is always deeply satisfying to your soul. We love it so much that we try to have the main ingredients on hand at all times. Which reminds me, I’m out of fish sauce.

As I’m writing this, I realised that we often make our favourite dish together in our cozy kitchen while we have a glass of wine and chat about our day. I might be chopping spring onions while she grates the ginger. I’ll juice the limes while she browns the pork. These are really special moments and I’m sure that in the future even if we aren’t still living together, I’ll always think of her when I make this dish.

It always tastes a little different depending on which herbs are in the crisper or the garden. Sometimes we may try a different kind of noodle, or substitute green peppercorns for Szechuan pepper. Occasionally we throw a big handful of spinach leaves or Asian greens in at the last minute to wilt down. It can be more spicy or mild depending on our mood at the time.

Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles
We never measure anything, which made finally writing down this recipe for the first time a little bit interesting. This recipe is a jumping off point for you to play with and although it looks like there are quite a lot of ingredients listed, I’m definitely not saying to go and buy things you’ll never use again! It’s always a matter of tasting and tweaking, adding a little more acidity here or a little more spice there.

There are loads of great flavours in this dish. Garlic, ginger and chilli lay a good foundation. The tahini – a thick paste made from roasted sesame seeds – gives a beautiful richness and nuttiness. I haven’t tried it, but peanut or sesame seed butter may work as a substitution here. If anyone tries it, please let me know in the comments below!

Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles
The flavours are balanced out by the acidity of the fish sauce and lime juice and of course there are spring onions and loads of herbs to give it freshness. A handful of chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds might be nice sprinkled on top for some crunch.

I started this blog almost 10 years ago to share all the new things I was learning in the kitchen, and of course I love making new recipes, experimenting with different techniques – there are some interesting sauerkraut experiments in my fridge right now that I hope to share soon. But I especially love when I can share my very favourite things; the recipes that are a big part of my life that we make over and over. It’s like inviting you over for dinner and a chat. And there’s nothing better than that.

Related Post: One Pot Moroccan Chicken

Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles

Spicy Pork and Tahini Noodles

Serves 4

  • 1-2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 red chilli, finely chopped (or more if you like)
  • 500g quality pork mince
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint and coriander, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 heaped tablespoons tahini
  • Chicken stock (or sometimes we use cooled green tea)
  • Rice noodles
  • 1 cucumber, grated

First, toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes. Crush roughly in a mortar and pestle and set aside.

In a large wok or frypan, heat olive oil and sesame oil. Add garlic, ginger and chilli and cook until softened and fragrant. Then add the pork mince, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring often until browned and cooked.

Add the kaffir lime leaves and HALF of the spring onion and fresh herbs, stirring until combined. Then add the juice of 1 lime, rice wine, fish sauce, black vinegar, soy sauce and Szechuan peppercorns and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tahini and stir to incorporate. The mixture will become very dry when the tahini is added so add enough stock or tea to loosen it up again. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the noodles according to instructions on the packet. Taste and adjust the acidity and spice level of the pork mixture to your liking, usually I will add the juice of half or a whole lime.

When the noodles are cooked, you can either serve them on a plate with the pork mixture on top or toss them all together in your pan. Serve Pork and Tahini noodles with grated cucumber and the remaining spring onion and herbs on top, plus a wedge of lime and fresh chilli if you like.

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)

White Chocolate Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)
When celebrating Australia Day in years past, I have gone a little over the top making all kinds of variations on classics like the lamington or the pavlova. It is one of my favourite occasions to dream up dessert ideas for. However, this year I’m keeping it nice, simple and summery.

Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really love ice cream. For a change, I decided to make an Ice Cream Pie because I felt like it was a great dessert to top off a nice casual gathering with friends. I hope you’re enjoying plenty of those this summer season!

White Chocolate Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)
I really wanted to use the amazing Aussie grown passionfruits that I bought at the markets in this recipe. Chocolate and passionfruit together are one of my all time favourite flavour combinations. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness and works equally well with white, milk or dark chocolate.

In this recipe I’ve used my super easy no churn ice cream recipe that I know you’ll love. The waffle cone crust is like the crumb crust you’d get with crushed biscuits but way more delicious in my opinion! And of course you know it’s going to taste good with ice cream.

White Chocolate Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)
The no churn ice cream is fantastic because you don’t have to make a custard, or deal with leftover egg whites. The base recipe is literally two ingredients, which allows you to get super creative with the flavours you use. I’ve made so many variations on it, that I decided to put them all together in a free ebook that you can download instantly below.

White Chocolate Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)
Of course it has to be made ahead of time to give the ice cream a chance to freeze. So all you need to do when it’s time to serve is take it out of the freezer and scatter some coconut flakes and passionfruit pulp over the top. If you like, you could also make this in cute individual servings, in small pie tins or even glass jars. Super easy and definitely delicious!

Related Post: Pavlova Ice Cream Smash

White Chocolate Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust (No Churn!)

White Chocolate and Passionfruit No Churn Ice Cream Pie with Waffle Cone Crust

Waffle Cone Crust

  • 7 waffle cones, roughly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Ice Cream

  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g white chocolate, melted
  • Pulp of 3 passionfruit
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • Topping: Pulp of 1-2 passionfruit and toasted coconut flakes

To make the Waffle Cone Crust, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the crushed waffle cones and brown sugar together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs form. Add the melted butter and pulse again to combine. Press crumbs evenly into the base and sides of a 20cm pie or cake tin and smooth with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10-15 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

To make the White Chocolate and Passionfruit Ice Cream, place the condensed milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the melted white chocolate until combined, and then whisk in the passionfruit pulp. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks. Fold the cream into the condensed milk with a spatula until incorporated. Spoon into the waffle cone crust and freeze until firm, preferably overnight.

To serve, spoon extra passionfruit pulp and toasted coconut flakes.

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots
If you’ve spent any time at all on Instagram in the last few months, chances are you’ve heard of golden milk – a warm healing drink with lots of turmeric. I became a convert when I had a horrible cold last winter and nothing was helping. I started making golden milk to drink before going to bed and within a day or two I felt so much better.

Turmeric is a super spice has a whole host of incredible benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and immune boosting properties. One thing to note about turmeric is that it’s benefits are massively increased when consumed with healthy fat and black pepper, of which this recipe has both. While this recipe may look like a dessert, it’s actually super healthy!

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots
I came up with the idea for this Golden Milk Panna Cotta several months ago, but I knew I wanted to pair it with some roasted apricots. I surprised myself that I was so adamant about waiting until apricots were in season, as I don’t really cook with them very often. With a few pomegranate arils strewn on top for contrast in colour and texture, I can’t think of a more delicious combination. I better start coming up with a few more apricot recipes, because they are absolutely perfect right now!

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots
The golden milk panna cotta is a blend of coconut cream and regular cream, although if you want something dairy free you can use all coconut or a mix of your favourite alternative milk. It uses rice malt syrup for sweetness instead of sugar. Gelatine is great for your gut health. And then you have the amazing spices – turmeric, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and a dash of vanilla extract.

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots
I think this recipe is perhaps an acquired taste because the taste of the spices does come through strongly. But if you are a fan of golden milk, you’ll definitely love it. And if not, then do make the delicious roasted apricots to have with a scoop of ice cream! I think it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth after dinner, without any guilt.

Related Post: Anti-Hayfever Smoothie

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots

Golden Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots

Makes 4

Golden Turmeric Paste

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 heaped tablespoons turmeric
  • A few cracks of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Panna Cotta

  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • Rice malt syrup or honey, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

Roasted Apricots

  • 4 apricots, halved and stone removed
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 25g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar, to sprinkle

To make the golden turmeric paste, place ingredients into a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to a gentle boil and continue to whisk until slightly thickened.

To make the panna cotta, place the coconut cream, thickened cream, rice malt syrup and vanilla into a saucepan over low heat and bring to the boil. Whisk in the golden turmeric paste, 1 tablespoon at a time until you are happy with the taste. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the boiling water into a heatproof jug. Sprinkle the gelatine over the top and whisk to dissolve. Set aside to cool slightly, and then add to the panna cotta mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into glasses or ramekins and refrigerate for 6 hours or until set.

To make the roasted apricots, place halved fruit into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with raw sugar, vanilla seeds and bean and place a cube of butter in the hollow of each fruit. Roast in the oven at 160°C (320°F) for about 1 hour or until fruit is cooked through.

To serve, remove panna cotta from the fridge and serve with roasted apricots, pomegranate and edible flowers, if you like.

Thursday Tipples 15 / Watermelon & Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Watermelon Pomegranate Moscow Mule
We constantly think about the seasons of the year, the effects they have over what we wear, and especially over what we eat. I think I’m guilty of looking forward to summer more than actually enjoying it in the moment. This time of late spring has always been the most inspiring to me. I could talk all day  about the produce I’m going to cook with and the picnics and assorted summertime adventures I’m going to take.

But I usually have a pang of guilt when March rolls around and I haven’t done all the things I wanted to do. Time just flies these days. In November it feels like summer will last forever. I’ve learned that it’s super important to make a conscious effort to enjoy the moment, rather than just thinking about what’s coming next. With summer just around the corner now – yay! – it is the season of delicious (and cheap) watermelon. It makes a delicious snack at any time of day, but if you don’t feel like eating it plain, it also makes a damn good cocktail.

Watermelon Pomegranate Moscow Mule
A Moscow Mule is a cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer and lime that has been popular since the 1940s. While the ingredients may be simple, the combination is a classic for a reason and has proven to be the basis for dozens of variations over the last few decades. There are endless options for fruity flavourings – anything from berries to stone fruit to citrus, or watermelon like I’ve done in this recipe.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous you could even try adding herbs to compliment your fruit like rosemary, thyme or kaffir lime. You can also change up the spirit used, to create variations like the Mexican Mule that uses tequila instead of vodka, or the London Mule with gin, which sounds great to me! Ginger and lime go with almost anything, clearly.

Trust me, these flavours are especially good with watermelon and pomegranate! If you are hoarding watermelon like me lately, this drink is easy to fix for yourself on a warm afternoon. I really like the sweetness and freshness of the watermelon with the kick from the ginger. The pomegranate flavour didn’t come through so much for me, so feel free to use a little more or just enjoy the pretty garnish. You could of course also scale up the recipe below since you’ll have extra watermelon juice anyway, and serve it in a pitcher for a party.

Watermelon Pomegranate Moscow Mule
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I have a thing for ginger beer. I’ve even used it in cakes and scones! I never drink soft drinks these days but I will make the very occasional exception for ginger beer. I do want to try making it from scratch one day soon, except I’m still a little scared of exploding bottles. In the past I have made my own ginger syrup to use in cocktails, and I’ll link that just below. You’re definitely welcome to try that – perhaps minus the chilli for this Watermelon Moscow Mule – if you can’t find ginger beer where you live, or if you prefer something homemade.

I think my favourite thing about the Moscow Mule is the chance to drink out of a fancy copper mug. They are served this way because copper will keep the drink colder for much longer than a regular glass. Even more so if you freeze your copper mugs before happy hour. Enjoy!

Related Post: Spiced Ginger Syrup for Cocktails

Watermelon Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Watermelon & Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Makes 1

  • 1/4 watermelon, skin removed and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 pomegranate, arils removed, plus extra for garnish
  • 45ml vodka (your favourite brand)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Ginger beer (or ginger syrup and soda)
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: Extra watermelon slices, pomegranate and a sprig of mint

If you like, you can chill your copper mug or glass for 15-30 minutes before serving. Then place the watermelon and pomegranate into a blender and pulse until liquid. Strain into a small jug and set aside.

To make the Moscow Mule, pour vodka, lime juice and 60ml of watermelon pomegranate juice into a copper mug or chilled glass. Add ice and top up with ginger beer. Garnish with extra pomegranate arils, a slice of watermelon and a sprig of mint.

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies
Last Monday, I made a batch of Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies. I had worked more days in a row than I could remember and was gearing up for another pretty crazy week. Even though my long to do list beckoned, Monday afternoon provided a small respite between deadlines. I calmed my anxiety by mixing sugar and eggs, cocoa and flour.

For years now, baking has been one of my very favourite way to relax. Am I the only person in the world who finds bubble baths extremely boring? I’d much rather be kneading dough, rolling out pastry, or stirring cake batter. I don’t find cooking dinner stressful, I think it’s my favourite part of the day!

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies
I was all out of dark chocolate, but undeterred in my quest for brownies/inner peace. My search for a cocoa only brownie led me to Alton Brown’s recipe via Bakers Royale. I actually loved the taste and texture – they were very fudgy but not too sweet. Make sure you use a good cocoa powder in this recipe as it is the predominate taste and I think you’ll regret using one that you don’t love. I used a mixture of cocoa and raw cacao powder. This recipe couldn’t be easier, and will definitely be something I make again.

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies
For something a little different, I gave the brownies a swirl of cheesecake and a good dose of colourful funfetti sprinkles. Everything is better with sprinkles. They don’t really make any difference to the taste, but I just love the colours and look really pretty.

And then I gave them all away, except one, which I enjoyed tremendously with a cup of black coffee. One went to my next door neighbour, who popped over to ask a question and left with a still-warm brownie and a big smile. A few more went to some clients at a photo shoot when they mentioned they had heard of this blog. A few to my sister, as a thank you for looking after the kitten. A couple more still to the boy and his family.

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies
And upon tasting them, every single person was enamoured by the combination of rich brownie and creamy cheesecake. Personally, I love the addition of sprinkles, because my funfetti obsession goes way back. I think this recipe is the perfect example of a crowd pleaser – make any time of year, for kids or adults alike.

Related Post: Passionfruit Cheesecake Brownies 

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies

Funfetti Cheesecake Brownies

Makes 9 large brownies
Recipe adapted from Bakers Royale

Brownie Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup cocoa, sifted (I used a 1/2 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup raw cacao powder)
  • 1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 220g melted butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Funfetti Cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla cake mix
  • 1/4 cup mixed sprinkles

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a square brownie pan with non-stick baking paper.

To make the brownies, whisk together the two kinds of sugars until no lumps form, set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour and salt and set aside.

In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in vanilla and sugars, and mix to combine.  Add in butter and mix to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside to make the cheesecake portion.

To make the funfetti cheesecake layer, place all ingredients except sprinkles in a bowl and beat until mixture becomes light and is fully combined, about 3-4 minutes. Gently fold in the sprinkles. Feel free to add a few extra ones to the top if they have sunk into the mixture.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place large dollops of cheesecake mixture on top and then using a chopstick or skewer, gently marble the two mixtures together. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool. Wait until the brownie has cooled before cutting into portions.

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries
I get into strange breakfast routines sometimes. For a week, all I want to eat is omelettes. Then I get a bit sick of omelettes and only want green smoothies. Then the week after that, I’m all about homemade granola.

Or in this case, my new favourite thing – a week strong and not letting up – is ancient grains porridge, topped with sliced banana, blueberries and a teaspoon of peanut butter. I reckon I’ve got a few more days before I don’t want to eat another banana for 3 months. But for now, it’s my thing, and I like it.

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries
The ancient grains porridge is particularly delicious – and they’re not paying me to say that! It’s a blend of oats, rye, puffed millet and quinoa, which are all totally-good-for-you whole grains. I find that a warm breakfast really sets me up for the day, gives me energy and keeps me very happy until lunchtime.

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries
These Banana Rye Waffles are a slightly more fancy Sunday morning version of my current favourite breakfast. It has the same flavours – the oats, rye, banana and blueberry are all there, but in waffle form this time.

Every time I dust off my seldom used waffle maker, I tell myself I’ll make them more often. I forget how easy it can be to make the waffle batter – just throw everything into your blender or food processor and you’re good to go. But even if you don’t have a waffle maker, you could also try this mixture cooked as pancakes.

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries
I recently purchased some rye flour and decided to use it for the first time in this recipe. Rye has a whole lot of great health benefits and I loved the taste and texture that it brought to these waffles. I am looking forward to trying it out to make healthier cakes, cookies and bread.

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries
The waffles themselves have no added sugar, just natural sweetness from ripe bananas. If you prefer to keep this even lower in sugar, you can skip the caramelised bananas and slice up some fresh ones to serve on top. Feel free to serve these waffles with strawberries, mangoes, peaches or your favourite fruits on top. With the leftovers stored in the freezer, it’s looking like my next breakfast craze may be waffles!

Related Post: Baklava Waffles

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries

Banana Rye Waffles with Caramelised Banana and Blueberries

Makes 6-8 waffles

Waffle Batter

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Ancient Grains Porridge or rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
  • Coconut oil for frying

To serve

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3-4 bananas, sliced in half lengthways
  • Blueberries
  • Maple syrup

To make the waffle batter, place ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until combined. Heat your waffle iron and brush with coconut oil. Pour some batter onto the iron and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To make caramelised bananas, place brown sugar and butter into a frypan and stir with a spatula until combined and bubbling. Add sliced bananas and cook for 3-4 minutes, before turning and cooking until well coated in the caramel.

To serve, place waffles onto plates and top with caramelised bananas, blueberries and maple syrup.

Blueberry Chia Jam and Coconut Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding
I recently went back through the archives and read a blog post where I talked about my cooking ‘fears.’ I wrote that the thought of sterilising jars and making my own jam from scratch totally freaked me out. But a few weeks later, I faced the fear and made my first ever batch of gorgeous strawberry and ginger jam. It tasted better than any store-bought jam I’d ever had and it was easy easier than I’d ever imagined the process to be. That was in 2010.

I’ve been making homemade jam for six years now with all different fruits, from berries to rhubarb to figs from Nanna’s tree and hand-picked cherries from Orange. All delicious. But I think today’s jam recipe is a bit of a game changer. It contains no sugar and is thickened with chia seeds. And best of all, it takes less than 15 minutes.

Blueberry Chia Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding
I chose to try out Blueberry Chia Jam for my first attempt because they are just coming into season now, cheap and super delicious. However I can tell you that there will be more attempts as the warmer months go on. I think any kind of berry would be marvellous but a quick Pinterest search showed that people have been experimenting with almost every fruit you can imagine.

Blueberry Chia Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding
There are only five ingredients and all of them are healthy! Blueberries are called superfoods because they’re super nutritious with high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. Chia seeds are high in protein, fibre and omega-3’s. But the main reason they are perfect in this recipe is because they absorb three times their weight in liquid and help to naturally thicken the jam.

For sweetness I used rice malt syrup, which a fructose free sugar alternative. It has a sweet taste and similar consistency to honey. I have been using it to make amazing sugar-free granola for the last few months. If you can’t find it, you can definitely use maple syrup in this recipe. I added half a vanilla bean for that beautiful flavour – don’t you just love blueberries and vanilla together? The juice and zest of half a lemon helps to brighten it up and make that blueberry flavour sing.

Blueberry Chia Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding
And that’s it. Healthy jam almost instantly. I have served the jam on rye bread toast, swirled it into porridge and yoghurt for breakfast, and it also makes a delicious and healthy breakfast layered with Coconut Chia Pudding and a little of that homemade granola I just mentioned.

I absolutely love that you have the flexibility to make just one single jar of jam, good for indecisive sorts like me who are obsessed with blueberries one week, rhubarb the next and strawberries the one after that. Or if you’ve hit the jackpot with seasonal produce at the farmers market, you can scale the recipe up to make as much as you like.

Related Post: Ginger Beer Scones with Strawberry Ginger Jam

Blueberry Chia Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Jam

Makes 1 jar

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 2 punnets)
  • Grated zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons rice malt or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

To make the Jam, bring blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and rice malt or maple syrup to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until blueberries start to burst and release their juices.

Remove jam from heat and taste for sweetness, adjusting to your liking. Return to the heat and stir in the chia seeds. Cook for about 1 minute to soften seeds. Let jam cool slightly, then transfer to sterilised jars or containers. Cover and let cool completely. Chill until ready to use.

Coconut Chia Pudding

  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (I used white)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice malt syrup or male syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • To serve: Extra blueberries, homemade granola, edible flowers (optional)

To make the Chia Pudding, combine the Coconut Milk together with the chia seeds, honey and vanilla in a glass jar with a lid. Cover and shake well, set aside for 15 minutes. Give it another good shake then refrigerate 5-6 hours or overnight.

To serve, layer the blueberry jam with the coconut chia pudding in jars for easy transport or a bowl. Top with extra blueberries, homemade granola or edible flowers.

Simple Dinners 18 / Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese. Just typing those words make my stomach growl. Maybe because I’m editing food photos right before lunch. We’re talking about the epitome of comfort food right here. It is without a doubt one of my favourite dishes in the world, and if I see it on a menu I will definitely, definitely order it and not share. Sorry, not sorry.

I’d probably include it in my last meal, with some kind of pie for dessert. My first introduction to this glorious dish was from a packet, as I assume most people’s was. Of course these days I prefer to make it from scratch and I like to think I’ve gotten rather good at it over the last few years… I’ve had lots of practice!

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
When I crave the comfort factor of mac and cheese but a little bit lighter and healthier, I swap out some of the macaroni for cauliflower florets. They’re cooked together in the same saucepan to save time, and gives you a sneaky extra serving of vegetables. I really like the different textures too.

This meal is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but if your friends are anything like mine, they will love it at your next dinner party too! Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s just the winning combination of carbs and cheese. I don’t know what it is, but this dish is a total crowd pleaser.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
I’ve also added pumpkin to my bechamel sauce, which was a total revelation to me. I simmered the pumpkin pieces in some milk until they were soft, and then pureed it to a liquid. This also helped to thicken the sauce and gave it a delicious taste. Make sure to taste as you go along because if the bechamel is not seasoned well with salt and pepper, it will taste a little bland.

And I’ll even let you in on my secret ingredient – mustard. I like to use Hot English mustard to give the sauce a really nice taste and a little bit of a kick, but I’ve also had very good results using Dijon or even Wholegrain mustards.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
One of my favourite variables to play with in this recipe is the kind of cheese you use. There are no rules here! You can use any good melty cheese that you like – or a combination of a few. Here I’ve used cheddar and gruyere because it’s what I had in the fridge, and it tastes great. Sometimes I can’t be bothered making the breadcrumb topping – even though it only takes a couple of minutes in the food processor – but I’m glad I did this time because it really adds a lovely crunch and the rosemary flavour goes so nicely with the pumpkin.

You can serve this lightened up Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese as a main meal or a side to any protein you like. Your kids will love it, and you will feel good knowing that there are some hidden vegetables inside this delicious dish.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Serve as a main meal or a side dish

  • 1 small slice rye or sourdough bread, a few days old if possible
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 200g dry elbow or macaroni pasta
  • 1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt & pepper

Pumpkin Bechamel

  • 1/4 pumpkin, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 20g butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot english mustard
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used a mixture of Cheddar and Gruyere)

First, make the crumb topping. Break up the bread into chunks and place into a food processor with the rosemary, garlic clove and a few swigs of olive oil. Process until it looks like chunky breadcrumbs. Set aside in a small bowl until later.

Place a large saucepan of water on to boil, with 1 handful of cooking salt to season. When water is boiling add the pasta and cook for about 3-4 minutes and then add the cauliflower to the same pot. When pasta is al dente, drain the water, and return the pasta and cauliflower to the saucepan.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). In a separate small saucepan, place 1 cup of milk with the pumpkin and cook until boiling and the pumpkin is soft. Place mixture into your food processor and pulse until combined. In the same saucepan, melt the butter until starting to bubble. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin milk, the other 1 cup of milk and the mustard and whisk well until the mixture thickens slightly. Season well with salt and pepper and add 1 cup of the cheese.

Stir the bechamel sauce into the pasta and cauliflower. Place into a large oven-proof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs (you don’t have to use them all) plus the extra cheese and a little salt and pepper. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.