Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple and Date Bran muffins

When I was a teenager (which lets face it was a while ago now!) I put together an exercise book filled with all my favourite family recipes. 20 years later I still have the book and I use it often. Unfortunately the book is getting to the stage where it is so stained I can hardly read the recipes, so I am going to use this blog as a place to record all these recipes before they have vanished for good.

A few years ago muffins were "the thing to cook". Although I don't cook them as often as I used to, they are so quick to make and bake, and eaten fresh there is nothing better. This muffin recipe is one which my Mum used to cook when we were kids, the bran is a nod to the "wholefood 70s/80s" of my childhood. Every time I walk into Common sense organics as an adult I am immediately transported back to the wholefood cooperative shop in the small town I spent my childhood in, where Mum used to buy such treasures as bran, dried pineapple and carob powder.

These muffins don't contain any egg, and the butter and milk can be easily adapted to suit those who can't eat dairy so they cover a few allergy bases. I made these recently to take to a shared morning tea at playcentre, another nod to my 70s/80s childhood, which Ellie and I have recently started going to.

Date and Apple Bran Muffins

1 c flour
1 c wholemeal flour
1 t baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c grated apple
3/4 c bran
100g butter
1/4 c golden syrup
1/2 c chopped dates
1/4 c milk
1 t baking soda
1/4 c milk

1. Preheat oven to 180 C and grease a 12 pan muffin tray, or put muffin papers in it.
2. Mix the flours, baking powder, sugar, apple and bran together.
3. Melt the butter, golden syrup and dates together. Add the first measure of milk and bring it almost to the boil.
4. Dissolve the baking soda in the other measure of milk.
5. Mix everything together until just wet. You may need a bit extra milk if it looks too dry.
6. Bake for 15 - 20 mins.

Eat fresh on the day they are baked or freeze for lunches.

Friday, February 15, 2013


 The basil has been going great guns in the garden, so it must be time to make pesto! Good quality pesto in the shops is so expensive to but, it is far cheaper and really easy to make your own.

 The one ingredient in pesto that is ridiculously expensive is pinenuts. I tend to use cashews in mine instead, much cheaper and just as yummy.

  Pesto is a great thing to have floating round in the freezer. I freeze mine in icecube trays - each cube is about a tablespoon of pesto. I also freeze tomato paste that is left over in the same way.

  The best way to make pesto is in the food processor.


2 c packed basil leaves
1 t crushed garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c grated parmesan
1/4 c toasted salted cashews (or pinenuts or walnuts)

Blend everything together until they form a smooth paste. Pesto oxidises and goes brown very quickly, so freeze or cover with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. So many uses!

I am off to Mia's daycare this week to make pesto and pasta with the kids for the second year in a row. They loved it last year!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vegetarian: Tomato and lentil soup

Usually the word lentil is enough to send people running. You won't even notice the lentils in this soup. It is my husband and 4 year olds' favourite as the lentils used are the small red variety, which pretty much just dissolve into the soup and thicken it. It is full of protein, taste like a delicious tomato soup, and is great served on a cool day for lunch or dinner with bread or scones.

Tomato and Lentil Soup

2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t smoked paprika (I love smoked paprika!)
2 tins crushed tomatoes
6 c beef or vegetable stock
1/3 c tomato paste
1 1/2 c red lentils
2 T brown sugar
1/2 c chopped parsely or coriander leaves
sour cream to garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil on low in a large pot and fry onions and garlic until soft.
2. Add the spices and fry for 1 min.
3. Add tomatoes, stock, paste, lentils and brown sugar and bring to boil.
4. Simmer for 45 mins until lentils are soft, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom.
5. Stir through herbs and serve with a blob of sourcream in the middle if you wish.
6. Crusty bread or scones on the side are delicious!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thai inspired salad and kebabs

I love Thai flavours. Usually given the above ingredients I would probably make a stir-fry, but I wanted to make something a bit different. We also very rarely eat pork, partly because I don't usually think to buy it, and partly I don't really like eating non-free range pork given the apalling conditions of pen reared pigs.

Thai pork kebabs

500g pork steaks or schnitzel, sliced into thin strips
12 kebab sticks, soaked to avoid them catching on fire (you may use less)
1 t crushed garlic
2 T grated fresh ginger
1 t finely grated lemon rind
1/4 c chopped fresh coriander
2 T fish sauce
2 T sweet thai chilli sauce
Juice of 2 lemons

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
2. Marinate the pork in the mixture for at least 2 hours.
3. Thread onto kebab sticks.
4. Cook under the grill or on the BBQ.

Thai noodle salad

1 1/2 t crushed garlic
1 T grated ginger
2 T soy sauce
1 - 2 T sweet thai chilli sauce
1 T fish sauce
2 T peanut butter
Juice of 2 lemons
1 T brown sugar
Handful of coriander leaves, chopped

500g noodles (I used udon) cooked to instructions on packet
1/2 c roasted peanuts OR 2 T toasted sesame seeds
2 spring onions, chopped (optional)
1/2 head of broccoli,cut in small florets, steamed for about 4 mins
1 carrot, cut into small batons, steamed for about 4 mins

1. Mix dressing ingredients together.
2. Mix prepared salad ingredients together and toss through dressing, serve with kebabs.

Note: Different veges could be used in the salad, this is just what I had. Capsicum, mung bean or snowpea sprouts, cucumber and snowpeas would all be yummy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vegetarian: Sundried tomato, onion and leek quiche

 One of my aims at the moment is to find more "go to" vegetarian recipes. I was fully or partially (ate a little white meat) vegetarian between the ages of 14 and 30. After getting pregnant and being anaemic I decided to eat red meat again, and I have continued to eat it since then. Often it is easier to develop a meal round meat, especially with a family that seem to appreciate it more than vegetarian dishes, but I am aiming to introduce more vegetarian fare to our diet. It is often cheaper than including meat, and there are obvious health benefits to not eating too much meat, especially processed meat.

Sundried tomato, onion and leek quiche

100g butter, melted
1/2 c cottage cheese
1 1/3 c flour

1 T olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 leek, white bit only, chopped
1/4 c sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
3/4 c grated cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan
3/4 c cream (you can use milk although it won't be as rich and creamy)
3 large eggs

1. Turn the oven to 190 C.
2. In the food processor mix the butter and cottage cheese. Pulse through the flour to make a soft dough.
3. Knead the pastry to get a good consistency on a floured board. Roll out to line a 25cm diameter flan tin that is greased.
4. Bake the pastry in the oven covered in tin foil and weighed down with dried beans or rice (see note below) for 10 mins. Remove the tin foil and weights and bake a further 10 mins, or until golden.
5. While the pastry is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and leek and cook over a low heat, stirring often until soft.
6. Mix the onion mixture with cheeses, tomato and basil. Press into pastry case.
7. Beat eggs and cream together and pour over filling.
8. Bake at 180 C for 25 - 30 mins until set and golden.

Served with beans from our garden!

Cooking pastry blind:

Often when using pastry I really can't be bothered with the extra step of cooking it blind (without the filling and weighed down with rice or dried beans). I do recommend doing this though as it makes the pastry much crispier on the bottom and stops the filling soaking in and making it soggy!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This quick chicken recipe is Mia's favourite. I often use chicken nibbles with the girls and Mia usually eats 5 or 6 given the opportunity! It is something my Mum made when we were kids, and she calls it "KFC" (Kate's fried chicken), although it is baked and not fried.

Kate's fried chicken

6 drumsticks (or 12 nibbles)
1 T melted butter
1 T oil
2 T flour
1 t garlic salt
1 t paprika (I use smoked paprika because I love it!)
1/2 t curry powder
1 t sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 C fanbake. Line an oven dish with foil and grease.
2. Mix the oil and butter together.
3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
4. Baste the chicken with the oil/butter then roll in the coating that you have placed in a flat plate. Make sure you coat the whole piece.
5. Bake for 20 mins on each side (15 on each side for nibbles).

If you want to cook more pieces, just double the coating recipe.

(This photo doesn't really do it justice!)

Monday, January 21, 2013


 We had some cooler weather last week which sent me scrambling to find some comfort food recipes. This meatloaf recipe is great with mashed potatoes and veges. It has a really yummy sauce that is poured on top before cooking that makes it more than just a plain old meatloaf. It isn't exactly healthy so I recommend watching your portion size and serving it with lots of delicious veges! This makes enough for our family to have for 2 dinners.


500g good quality mince
500g sausage meat
1 onion, finely chopped
1 handful herbs e.g: oregano, parsley, thyme, finely chopped
1 apple, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c fresh breadcrumbs made from grainy bread
1 t curry powder


1/2 c tomato sauce
1/2 c worcestershire sauce
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T malt vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1 T butter
1 t instant coffee

1. Heat oven to 180 C. Line a 40 x 25cm tin with tin foil and grease. 
2. Mix all the loaf ingredients together with wet hands. Press into tin.
3. Mix all sauce ingredients together in a pot and bring to the boil.
4. Pour sauce over the meatloaf.
5. Cook at 180 C 1 1/4 hours.
6. Serve with mash and veges. You can also pour the sauce that has run off the meatloaf and into the dish into a jug and serve with the meatloaf.