Thursday, 27 February 2014

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Muffins

This year I am baking morning tea for everyone in the lab when someone has a birthday. Everyone has written down their favorite flavors (as well as a few things they really don't like!) and I am using these flavors to create new recipes for them. The first birthday had a favorite of vanilla so I made some simple vanilla chocolate chip muffins.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 12

2 Cups self raising flour
1 Cup sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup melted butter
3 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (370°F). Combine the sugar and egg in a bowl and beat well. Alternate adding the flour and milk, start by adding some of the flour, then add some of the milk, combine well, then more flour, followed by more milk. Beat well.

2. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips

3. Spoon into a 12 hole muffin pan lined with paper cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked and spring back when the top is gently pressed. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Three Cheese Baked Macaroni

I absolutely love macaroni cheese, it's the ultimate comfort food and definitely a favorite of mine. This little gem was absolutely beautiful. I was so happy with the taste and texture, and like most baked pasta dishes, it tasted even better reheated the next day.

Three Cheese Baked Macaroni

Serves 4

400 g small pasta (macaroni or penne)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
75 g bacon rashers, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp plain flour
650 mL skim milk
70 g grated Edam (or Cheddar)
50 g grated mozzarella
30 g grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
a pinch of nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF). Cook pasta following the package instructions. If you time it right, take the pasta off a few minutes early (so that it is almost cooked, but not quite. That way it will finish cooking in the oven and soak up some of the cheese sauce).

2. Make the sauce by heating oil in a large sauce pan, add bacon, onion, and garlic and fry for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the bacon mixture from the sauce pan and set aside. Return the pan to the heat.

3. Melt the butter in the sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually add the milk, about half a cup at a time, whisking very well between each addition to ensure a lump free sauce. Once all the milk is added, stir with a wooden spoon until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (but not boiling).

4. Add the cheeses and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted in. TASTE the sauce and adjust with salt and pepper to suit your taste. This is ESSENTIAL as an unseasoned cheese sauce can be bland.

5. Mix cooked, drained pasta into the sauce, turn out into an oven proof dish, top with extra cheese and bake until the top is golden, about 20 minutes. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Chocolate Orange Brownies

Chocolate brownies are always a crowd favorite, and these chocolate orange brownies are no exception.

Chocolate Orange Brownies

Makes approx 16

200 g butter
200 g chocolate (half of a Terrys chocolate orange (87 g), and 113 g dark chocolate)
2 Cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
3 eggs
Half a chocolate orange, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (335ºF) and line the base of a slice pan with baking paper.

2. Melt butter and chocolate together over a double boiler and stir until smooth.

3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the sugar.

4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, followed by the chopped chocolate orange.

5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center soft, but cooked. Cool in pan and then cut into squares.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Mexican Tortilla Stack

Here's a twist on both a lasagna and burritos. Using beef mince, beans, and vegetables and layering with flour tortillas to make a sort of Mexican Lasagna.

Mexican Tortilla Stack

Serves 4 - 6

500 g Beef mince
1 Onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped (de-seeded if you like it more mild)
400 g can of chopped tomatoes
400 g can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
4 flour tortillas (I used high fiber wholemeal)
1/2 Cup grated cheese (I used Edam)

To serve:

Light sour cream
Spring (green) onion, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat a dash of oil in a large frying pan. Add the minced beef, onion, and chilli and fry until meat is browned and onion is transparent.

2. Add the tomatoes and kidney beans, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until the mixture thickens (about ten minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place a tortilla into the base of a 20 cm spring-form can tin. Top with one third of the beef mixture. Place another tortilla in the tin, followed by the next third of the beef mixture, then another tortilla, then the last of the beef, and finally another tortilla.

4. Spread cheese over top of the top tortilla and place in the oven. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden.

5. Serve topped with light sour cream and chopped spring onion.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Apricot Slice

All I can say is simple and delicious. It was so easy to make that I didn't know it could ever be this delicious. I used a lemon icing which worked with the apricot wonderfully, but you could absolutely substitute lemon for whatever you fancy.

Apricot Slice

Makes about 18 pieces

125 g Butter
1/2 Tin light condensed milk (200 g)
1/2 Brown Sugar
250 g plain biscuits (I used vanilla superwine biscuits), processed to a crumb.
1 Cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 Cup shredded Coconut


70 g Butter, melted
1 Cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly grated zest of half a lemon

1. Heat the butter, condensed milk, and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat until the butter is melted and everything is well combined. 

2. Add the biscuits, apricots, and coconut. Stir well to combine. Pour into a lined splice pan and refrigerate until set (I left it about an hour).

3. Make the icing by combining all of the icing ingredients. Spread evenly over the top of the slice and return to the refrigerator until set.

4. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for a while (we just finished it off after a week, those last few pieces were still perfect).

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Here's a new cheesecake for you, since it turns out you all love cheesecake as much as my Honey and I! Once again, this is a SUPER simple no-bake cheesecake. It's more or less fool proof, and of course it tastes fantastic.

We were really happy with how light and creamy this one turned out. Definitely a winner.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Serves 8 - 10

250 g plain vanilla biscuits
100 g butter, melted
500 g cream cheese
1 Tbsp Strawberry dessert topping
1 tsp vanilla essence
300 mL cream, whipped
1 Cup strawberries (I used frozen)
1/4 Cup caster sugar
3/4 Cup chocolate chips

1. Place the biscuits in a food processor and process to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and process until well combined. Press the biscuit mixture into the base and up the sides of a greased 20 cm spring form cake tin. Place in the refrigerator to set while making the filling.

2. Place the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan over a low/medium heat. The berries will start to "melt", use a masher to mash the berries until near smooth.

3. Beat the cream cheese together with the strawberry dessert topping and vanilla essence until smooth and no lumps of cream cheese remain. Mix in the mashed strawberries, followed by the chocolate chips.

4. Fold in the whipped cream and pour the mixture over the base. Smooth the top. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set (an hour or two).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sundried Tomato Chicken Breast

This sun-dried tomato chicken breast makes for an easy and delicious midweek meal. You can use whatever type of cheese you like, but I love the stringy-ness of mozzarella.

Sundried Tomato Chicken Breast

Serves 4

4 Small or 2 large (and cut in half lengthways) skinless chicken breasts'
8 Tbsp Sundried tomato pesto
8 Tbsp grated mozzarela
1/3 Cup light Greek yogurt
1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs (Or wholemeal, or a mixture of both)

1. Heat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

2. Make a small cut in the side of the chicken breasts and make a big hole in the centre of the breasts with a sharp knife.

3. Spread 2 Tbsp of pesto inside each breast, followed by 2 Tbsp Mozzarella. 

4. Place the yogurt in a bowl and spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Coat each piece of chicken with yogurt and then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat.

5. Transfer to the baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Serve with mashed potato, rice, or pasta with a green salad.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Bangers 'n Mash with Caramelised Onion Gravy

Caramelised Onions make a great sauce for various meats, including sausages. They also make a simple, quick dinner look so much more impressive.

Bangers 'n Mash with Caramelised Onion Gravy

Serves 4

Mashed Potato
8 good quality sausages (I used Angus Beef and Garlic)
1 Cup Caramelised Onions
1 Cup Beef Stock
2 Tbsp Corn Flour

1.  Put potatoes on to boil for the mashed potatoes.

2. Cook sausages by either baking or frying (I bake to avoid adding oil, and to get a nice even cooking, this takes about 25 minutes at 180°C, turning occasionally).

3. When potatoes and sausages are almost done, make the gravy by adding onions and beef stock to a saucepan over a medium heat. Mix cornflour into a small amount of hot water (to remove lumps), add to the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is reasonably thick and the cornflour cooked off.

4. Serve sausages over mashed potato and top with onion gravy.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Lamb, Feta, and Caramelised Onion Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? You're sure to love this combination of lamb, feta, and caramelised onion. It's simple to put together but tastes fantastic.

Lamb, Feta, and Caramelised Onion Pizza

Makes 8 slices

Pizza Base
Tomato paste (about 4 Tbsp, but depends on your taste)
1 Cup grated cheese (Edam, cheddar, mozzarella...) 
400 g lamb mince
1 cloves garlic, finely grated or crushed
100 g feta, (I used reduced fat)
1 Cup Caramelised Onions
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp dried mixed herbs

1. Make the pizza base according to the instructions. Spread tomato paste over the base.

2. Heat a dash of oil in a fry pan over a medium heat, fry the lamb and garlic until lamb mince is browned. Set aside.

3. Sprinkle grated cheese over the pizza base, top with caramelised onion, lamb + garlic, and crumble feta over the top. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and mixed herbs.

4. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes

Basic Pizza Dough

Here's a really easy pizza dough recipe.

Basic Pizza Dough

Makes 1 Pizza

1/2 Cup lukewarm water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried active yeast
1 Cup plain flour (wholemeal flour works well too)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Combine the water and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and leave for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast. Activated yeast will look like this:

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times and shape into a ball. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film or a tea-towel. Set aside for a while, in a warm environment, until the dough has doubled in size. I usually do this a few hours in advance and just leave it.

4. Roll out on a floured surface to form a pizza base. Prick the base with a fork at a couple of different locations. Add desired toppings and bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes. 

Tip: Pizza base will cook better if it's on a vented tray, like a pizza baking tray with holes in the base.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Caramelised Onions

Caramelised onions are so easy to prepare and there are so many different ways to use them. They make a good base for French onion soup, onion and feta tarts, gravy, steak sauce, and a great pizza topping. They also keep in the refrigerator for about a week so it's worth making up a batch!

Caramelised Onions

Makes about 2.5 Cups

4 red onions
3/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Peel and slice the onions.

2. Put everything in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed or evaporated and the onions are nice and soft.

3. Allow to cool, store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Whisky Chocolate Truffles

Here's a rich chocolate treat for the adults, but try not to eat too many at once!

Whiskey Chocolate Truffles

Makes 10

1/4 Cup cream
3/4 Cup dark chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp Whiskey
1/2 Cup dark chocolate chips, melted (may need extra)
1 Cup chopped peanuts

1. Heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium/low heat, being careful not to burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the 3/4 Cup chocolate chips. Mix until smooth.

2. Whisk in the butter and whiskey.

3. Place in the fridge until completely cooled (it'll set to near solid)

4. Roll into small balls, dip in the melted chocolate and roll in the peanuts.

5. Set aside for the chocolate shell to harden, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Rocky Road

Rocky road is one of my favorites, and what makes it even better is that it's so super simple to make. Although rocky road is easy to make, it still took me a long time to find the perfect combination of ingredients, but once I put this lot together I knew I had it.

Rocky Road

Makes 24 pieces

350 g quality milk or dark chocolate (whichever you prefer)
1/2 Cup chopped peanuts
2 Frys Turkish Delight bars (or Cadbury Turkish Delight), chopped into small pieces.
100 g mini marshmallows

1. Line a slice pan with baking paper. Melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool.

2. When the chocolate is no longer hot, add the peanuts, Turkish Delight, and marshmallows. Stir well to combine.

3. Pour into the prepared slice pan and refrigerate until set.

4. Once set, cut into small pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Note: you really need to be patient and let the chocolate cool, if you put the marshmallows in when the chocolate is still too hot then the marshmallows will just melt and you will end up with a sticky mess, it'll taste delicious but the chocolate probably won't set properly.