Peanut Butter and Choc-chip Slice

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Peanut Butter Slice

Often my dislike of baking biscuits sees me attempting to turn a biscuit recipe into one for a slice, and yesterday my friend Charmaine’s Facebook photo of her Peanut Butter Biscuits had me once again starting down this path. And yay – I think it worked! What follows is a slight variation (I added choc-chips) on the original recipe by Paula Deen, which results in a mouth-watering and chewy slice. It took me all of 5 minutes to mix up and whack this gluten free dessert option into a tin and then into the oven – just in time for a friend popping in for afternoon tea. Using the quantities below, this slice makes 24 pieces and costs under $6 to make, less if you prefer to leave out the chocolate. Thanks for the recipe, Charmaine. 

  • 500g good quality peanut butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g choc chips (homebrand are fine)
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Combine all ingredients except raw sugar in a bowl and box well. Press into a lined 20 x 30cm slice tin using clean, wet hands. Sprinkle raw sugar evenly across the top of slice.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes (slice should be brown on top, firm around the edges and fudgey in the middle. If slice browns quickly, cover in foil for remainder of cook time. and allow to cool before cutting. Boil the kettle for tea and enjoy. 

Chorizo Pasta with Tomatoes and Veg

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Pasta has to be one of the easiest and cheapest things in the world to make. As is the case for many of us I’m sure, pasta dishes in my kitchen are rarely based on a recipe but on whatever happens to be in my cupboard and rapidly going off in the bottom of my fridge. This was the case one weekday a few months ago, coming home from a long afternoon of after school sport. The freezer yielded a chorizo or two and everything was tossed in to make this simple dinner that the whole family enjoyed. If you decided to make this, do make any exchanges that take your fancy: passata can be replaced with any variety pesto and chorizo with bacon or chicken – use whatever floats your boat. I’ve costed this recipe at $13 using Woolworth’s prices, but I do find it much cheaper when I shop at my local grocer instead. Serves 6.

  • 130g chorizo, diced finely (approximately 2 sausages)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 2 cloves, freshly crushed
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • half a bag of mushrooms, peeled and sliced, stems and all
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 60 gram bag baby spinach
  • 500g pasta (whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 700g jar of passata (I use homebrand)
  • shavings of fresh parmesan
  1. Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta and add the uncooked pasta as soon as water is rapidly boiling. Keep checking and stirring so pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  2. In a large frypan gently fry up the diced chorizo and garlic with the olive oil
  3. When pasta is close to al dente, add mushrooms and capsicum to the frypan with the chorizo. Continue frying until just soft.
  4. Drain pasta, turn back into the pot, add the chorizo and vegetable mix, the bag of baby spinach and the passata. Toss until combined well and spinach has wilted.
  5. Serve immediately and top each offering with shavings of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Homestyle Apple Slice

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In the town I live there’s a terrific little fresh fruit and veggie shop that sources second quality, locally grown produce and I love it for many reasons: first, it’s cheap (if you shop there you can feed a family of four their fruit and veg for a week for around $10) and second, for the most part, the money you pay for the produce stays local. As a mum of two constantly hungry, growing kids, I’m so grateful for their everyday price of $1.50 per kg for red and green apples – this alone is worth the second trip to another store when doing the shopping! So when I saw this recipe floating around on Facebook a few months ago, the thought of making it didn’t make me panic at the price. It was such a simple slice to make, the result being a warm, fudgey, heart-warming offering – versatile enough to be morning or afternoon tea, or an easy dessert when served with cream or ice-cream. Using apples from Woolworth’s at $6/kg this recipe costs around $8 to make, though it works fine replacing the fresh apples with tinned ones too, making the cost $7. The quantities below fill a large roasting dish and yields 30-40 pieces of slice or enough dessert for a crowd of 30.

  • 4 cups self raising flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I use the slinky apple machine) or 1.5 tins pie apple
  • 250g butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tabs sugar extra
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a large roasting dish with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, toss apples with self raising flour and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Melt butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in a small bowl in the microwave, and allow to cool a little. Stir in egg.

4. Pour butter and egg into the apple mixture and mix until combined.

5. Spoon into baking dish and evenly sprinkle extra sugar and cinnamon on top.

6. Bake at 180c for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If it goes brown very quickly, cover with foil and return to oven for remainder of the cook time. Eat while still warm with a scoop of icecream for dessert or store for snacking on with a cup of tea or coffee.

Apple & Peach Crumble

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I feel almost as silly blogging about Apple Crumble as I did blogging about Honey Joys. It’s such a simple dessert to make, and there are tonnes of terrific recipes for it out there already. But for what it’s worth, here’s mine. When it comes to Apple Crumble, I’m a big believer in there needing to be as much crumble as there is fruit, that it should be crunchy and chewy all at once, and served with a spoonful of icecream. And in the middle of winter, how lovely is any dessert that has hot and cold elements in the same bowl? I can’t come at any recipes that call for butter to be rubbed into flour, so this one simply asks you to mix melted butter with the dry ingredients. Apple Crumble is so fast to make, and all the ingredients are easily stocked in the pantry, ready to go when needed. The recipe below serves 8-10 people, is quite fast to make, and costs around $9. Enjoy!

  • 1 x 800g can peaches, drained
  • 1 x 800g can pie apple
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 250g butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and place peaches and pie apple in a medium sized baking dish.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined, but mixture should still consist of lots of little lumps.
  3. Spread lumpy mixture evenly over the apple and peaches in the roasting dish and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Serve with icecream, cream or custard.  

 

Big Batch Triple Chocolate Muffins

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Sometimes you just need recipe for a big batch of something sweet – church morning teas, a terms worth of kids’ little lunches in the freezer or munchies for a group weekend away. These fudgey muffins hit the spot in many ways are super easy to make. You’ll notice this recipe deliberately calls for home brand choc-chips – this is because they are much smaller than the more expensive ones and go much further through the batter. Which results in much more chocolatey muffins overall – and they just happen to be the cheapest option! Using the quantities below, this recipe makes 70+ muffins and costs $17 to make, which is under 25c per muffin. Enjoy!

  • 7 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa
  • 2 cups brown sugar 
  • 3 x 250g packets home brand dark choc chips
  • 1 x 375g packets white choc melts
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 cups milk 
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (170 degrees if fan-forced) and distribute muffin cases among two 12 hole muffin trays.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or a large, plastic all-purpose basin.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil and milk with a whisk and pour into the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, but don’t over-mix – everything should be only just combined.
  5. Use two dessert spoons to half fill each muffin hole and place trays in oven for 20 minutes – although if you, like I do, prefer them a bit uncooked in the middle, start checking earlier.

Coconut Poached Pears

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I love a dessert recipe that can be whipped up on the spot when having people over – the sort that take only a little time to make and for which the components need not be prepared beforehand at all. This recipe for delicate and tasty poached pears was given to me by my friend Emma and it was a lovely light finish to dinner – the short cooking time having allowed for mains to settle a little. For a large group of people, Emma suggests doubling the recipe and making them ahead of time, so they can be quickly warmed in the microwave and served whenever you need them. You’ll notice I didn’t bother trying to keep my pears whole, but of course if you’d like them so, use a deeper saucepan than the stovetop roasting dish I opted for, so that the pears sit deeply in the liquid when cooking. The quantities below serve 4 and costs less than $5 to make. Thanks for this wonderful recipe, Em!

  • 2 cups Coconut Milk
  • 1/3 C Caster Sugar
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick 
  • 4 Ripe Pears, peeled, halved
  1. Place coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon into a saucepan over med-low heat until sugar dissolves. Do not let the milk boil as it will separate. 
  2. Add the pears and cook 15 mins, or until soft, but not falling apart. Turn once.
  3. To serve, place pears in bowls and serve with the liquid and vanilla ice-cream. Delish!

Winter Pea Soup

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My friend Julie sent in this tasty soup recipe and having tried it out last weekend, I’m super keen to share it with you. Here are four reasons to love this bright green broth: there’s very little preparation at all – just a few quick steps with readily kept ingredients thrown in, followed by simmering; the recipe requires only one pot, which means very little washing up; it’s cheap, cheap, cheap to make (only approximately $3); and perfect for warming comfort during these lovely cooler months. Serves 6-8 people. Thanks for sharing this, Julie. 

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 kg frozen peas
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock (I used powdered and chicken stock as substitute)
  • 150ml cream
  1. In a large, 3L+ pot, gently fry onion and garlic in a little oil. 
  2. Add peeled potatoes, chopped into chunks, peas and stock. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are soft. 
  3. Blitz with hand blender until smooth then add cream. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with bread.

Donna Hay’s Chicken Enchiladas

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Chicken mince is one of my favourite cooking ingredients. It’s tasty, it’s cheap, it’s lean and so versatile. And Mexican food, how I love Mexican food! Looking down the list of ingredients from my friend Anna’s Enchilada recipe makes me want to party: tomatoes, chicken stock, coriander, beans, tortillas and cheese – but even more so the ease of making them. Originally from Donna Hay Magazine, these crowd-pleasing enchiladas feed lots of people in one hit and are fast to make, especially as the chicken filling can be made and frozen ahead of time. And I especially like the way the tortillas soften into something more like lasagne than a wrap when baked in the oven. The quantities below serve 10 people and cost around $23 to make. Thanks for sending in this recipe, Anna.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1kg chicken mince
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup oregano leaves (I use dried)
  • 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock (I use powdered)
  • 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 x packets of mini tortillas (total 20)
  • 120ml tomato puree
  • 200g grated mozzarella or pizza cheese
  1. Heat the oil in a large deep sided frying pan, such as an electric one. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the mince, garlic and oregano and cook for 10 minutes, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes or until thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Stir in beans and coriander.
  3. Place a couple of tablespoons of chicken mixture in the middle of each tortilla and roll up, placing each one side by side in a large baking dish. 
  4. Top with tomato puree and grated cheese. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

 

Hospitality is More Than Tea and Scones

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By Amber Lia

Originally posted at The Mob Society

I used to think that showing hospitality meant inviting people over and feeding them BBQ pork sandwiches with all the fixings or hosting an elaborate tea with homemade scones in honour of my friend’s new baby, but sitting under the teaching of my pastor Francis Chan for nine years did something to me. 

For the first few years of my marriage, we lived in a tiny apartment with no yard. I was feeling pretty good when I decided to swallow my pride and host my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary in our home where we squeezed in nearly 30 of their lifelong friends for dessert, reminiscing about the days when my parents drove too fast and ran with the wild crowd.

As a new mother, still searching for what it meant for me to be a woman by Biblical standards, I knew that hospitality was part of what God commanded me to display towards others. Except that the idea of showing hospitality didn’t really cost me anything. I love to cook, bake, and plan events. My husband and I are both social butterflies, so having people over energized us. We delighted in opening up our home. And that was all good. But eventually, my definition of hospitality began to get a bit more uncomfortable.

I listened as my pastor talked about the fact that they had up to seven or more house guests in their home at any given time, plus their family of six…in a house that they had purposely downsized into in order to give more money away for those in need. A woman from Guatemala with four kids had recently moved in. Francis had met her at the local homeless shelter and brought her home for six months until she got on her feet. It was radical. And Biblical. And convicting. 

My family recently started memorizing Romans 12. Verse 13 of the chapter says: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

This passage comes on the heels of the early church-at a time when people were selling what they had so no one was in need, when persecution was common, and loving others meant life-altering choices. To think that I was giving myself a pat on the back for hosting brunch made me realise how “American” my mentality had become.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been blessed beyond belief by someone’s invitation for dinner, or by friends who have thrown events for me. I’m not dismissing the incredible blessing that is, or how much it meant to me personally. Heaven forbid we stop doing those kinds of happy and generous things for one another-I know they please God.   But Heaven forbid that’s were it ends for me or that my sons grow up to think that is the extent of what a hospitable woman looks like. 

I believe we need to stretch ourselves far beyond the point of feel-good hospitality, to nitty-gritty sacrificial hospitality too. Like the time my single friend came over every Thursday for six months after a hard day’s work to wash and fold my laundry when I had my first baby.

How about you? What can you do to go outside your comfort zone? 

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Offer your home with a backyard to a friend who lives in an apartment so she has a bigger space to host her child’s birthday party.

2. Loan your extra car to a family who sold their second car to pay bills during unemployment.

3. Cancel sports and dance classes for a semester and decide to serve meals as a family at the local shelter once a week for a semester.

A Biblical woman is a hospitable one, no doubt about it. But perhaps our definition of hospitality has become too narrow. I dream about the day the world hears the word Christian and immediately recognises them as extravagantly loving-those people who adopt orphans, open up their guest rooms to strangers, and pour out but seem to always be filled. And that’s the kind of woman I’m praying for as a wife for my boys. I just pray they recognise her because she first looked a lot like me.

Pray with me?

Dear Father, Open my heart to what it means to be a hospitable woman. Guide us as a family towards those who need to be shown love through our hospitality, and fill us up with Your wisdom and strength so that we can bless others. May my sons see in me first what it means to love others through my generosity and resources, and may they seek to find a woman who displays Biblical hospitality in their future wives. In Jesus Name, Amen!

RESOURCES:

1. Read more about Francis and Lisa Chan’s hospitable lifestyle here.

2. From my “Books Worth Reading” book list, one of the most life-changing books by Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. 

3. Read more from Romans chapter 12 here….

Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.

Belinda Jeffery’s Most Fabulous Banana Cake

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When I was growing up, my mum’s favourite sweet was Banana Cake, so for as long as I can remember, it’s been my favourite too. To this day, I still prefer a carrot, apple or banana cake over the richness of their various chocolate counterparts (but hey – they’re all good, cause they’re all cake). So when I first started working my way through Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake, this amazing recipe was the first cab off the rank, and I found it well-deserving of its name. Apart from the actual baking, every part of this recipe is made in the food processor which makes everything easy. And if you don’t already know this, I’ll share with you a tip my sister-in-law Jo taught me years ago: when bananas go off, you can throw them in the freezer whole – skins and all. When you want to use them, defrost them in the sink and stick the insides straight into whatever you’re baking. The freezing and thawing process causes the still edible insides to go to mush which means you don’t need to do any mashing. And over-ripe bananas make the best choice for banana cake anyway. This lovely big cake serves between 10 and 12 people and costs around $7.  

Cake Mixture

  • 1 1/2 (225g) cups plain flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2-3 large very ripe bananas 
  • 1 2/3 (370g) cups caster sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 125g butter, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks 
  • 100ml butter milk (or a 100ml mixture of half yoghurt and half milk – I do this all the time) 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 125g cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks (homebrand is fine)
  • 75g butter, at room temperature, cut into smallish chunks 
  • 250g icing mixture 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (170 for fan forced) and line or grease and flour a deep 26 cm ring tin. Because this is a quite a large cake, if your round or ring tin isn’t very deep, you might like to cook the leftover mixture in a loaf tin – if so you’ll need to line/grease that too. 

2. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarb soda in the food processor and blitz briefly. Tip the mixture into a spare bowl and set aside.

3. Stick the bananas in the food processor and blitz until smooth. Add in sugar and eggs and process again for one minute. Add the butter and process again until mixture is thick and creamy. Add buttermilk or yoghurt and milk mixture and vanilla extract and blitz in quick spurts until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue this process until just combined – don’t overdo it.

4. Pour mixture into the ring tin and smooth out the mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a fine skewer comes out clean. The cake won’t have risen much as its quite a dense and moist cake. Cool the cake in the tine for 7 or so minutes and then loosen the inside and outside circles of the cake from the tin using a sharp knife. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. For the cream cheese icing blitz the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add all the other ingredients and process again until you have a smooth, thick but spreadable icing. Ice the cake according to your preference once it’s completely cooled.