Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks and it is the delightful original source from which I’ve adapted this Coconut and Caramel Slice. Pretty much every recipe in this book is a taste winner and it makes a wonderful gift for those who love to bake. This easy slice is excellent for hospitality because it makes a large quantity in one baking effort (so you can cater for more than one event in one baking session) and the coconutty caramel flavour atop the crumbly vanilla base it so very hard to go past. The quantities below make a very large slice and costs $8 to make (up to 40 pieces), though if you don’t need such a large amount, simply halve all the quantities and you will have a slice that neatly fits into a standard 28x18cm sized lamington tin for around $4. Easily freezable and with a refrigerated shelf-life of over a week, this is a great option to keep ahead of a busy week of hospitality opportunities or for even just a moments quiet rest with a cuppa and a good book.
- 2 1/4 cups/335g plain flour
- 1/2 cup/80g icing sugar
- 250g cold butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 45g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup/220g firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups/105g shredded coconut
- 50g flaked almonds for topping
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees, (170 if fan forced) and line a large 32x24cm slice tin with baking paper.
- Combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor and press evenly into the bottom of the tin. Set food processor aside and don’t wash it up yet. Bake the base for 20-25 mins until slightly golden. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 150 degrees, (140 if fan forced).
- While the slice is cooling slightly, put sugars and flour in the already used food processor and process together. Pull out the blade and gently stir in the shredded coconut. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, coconut cream, vanilla extract and melted butter using a whisk. Gently fold dry ingredients from the food processor into this wet mixture. Gently tip the whole topping mixture over the base and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for around 45 minutes, though start checking earlier. Slice is cooked when the topping feels set and the whole thing is evenly golden.
- Cool to room temperature and cut into squares or fingers as desired. This slice cuts especially well when cut with a large, sharp straight-edged knife and after spending some time in the fridge. Enjoy!
I love gingerbread – actually, I love anything with ginger in it. And years ago, my friend Cynthia put me onto this amazing recipe called Grandpa Pencil’s Gingerbread Men. Since then, it’s been my go-to for great tasting gingerbread that turns out just how I like it: sweet, gingery, a bit of crunch but mostly chewy in texture. And of course, the kids always love decorating them. The only down-side has been the time it often takes to make and decorate a batch of these lovely things – definitely more a holiday or a weekend thing, than something achievable when life is busy. But I’ve come by two solutions to this problem. The first is these square cookie cutters I recently stumbled upon for $9.95 in a kitchen shop. No more re-rolling excess dough multiple times because the cookie shapes are so awkward. With these square cutters, there’s no need for edges at all, which maximises time by just cutting once. I should say too, as my friend Jane suggested to me: you really don’t need square cookie cutters to treat rolled out dough like this – just use a butter knife and cut the dough into squares in whatever size you prefer. And here’s a tip: the best way I’ve found to lift the uncooked shapes off a floured bench is to use a thin, metal egg lifter. The second gingerbread solution is to cook Grandpa Pencil’s dough as a slice instead of as cookies and decorate with freckles before they go in the oven, which is my adaptation below. Either way, this recipe will cost no more than $3 to make. Thanks Cynthia, for sharing this one all those years ago.
- 125g butter, softened to room temperature
- 125g sugar (I use brown)
- 280g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup golden syrup, warmed in microwave
- 24 freckles
- Cream butter and sugar. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- With beaters mixing slowly, gently add warmed golden syrup until mixture turns to a ball of dough, not too wet and not too dry.
- If making into biscuits roll mixture onto a floured bench, otherwise, using wet hands, press mixture into a 30 x 20 cm lined lamington tin.
- Press 24 freckles into the wet mixture in a 4×5 configuration and bake at 180 degrees (170 if fan-forced) for 45 minutes. If it goes brown on top but still hasn’t cooked through, cover with foil and return to the oven. The end result should be a fudgy/brownie consistency, not so much a crumbly or dry slice. Allow to cool completely in tin before cutting between freckles into 24 squares.
I’m not exactly sure why, but until a few days ago, I have struggled in recent months to want to cook anything new. With no headspace for it, I’ve been in a season of sticking to: old faithful recipes, porridge and weetbix and making one thing last a few nights. But my drought seems to have broken. Perhaps it’s because the weather has turned warmer, or because the kids are on school holidays, but today I tried this blog-worthy recipe, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food via my friend Kara. It’s all the things this blog is about: not foody-ness – but taste, ease and affordability so that having people over isn’t too stressful. And what a terrific recipe this turned out to be! It can be made ahead of time, or in that last hour between getting home from work and people turning up – because once everything’s in the pot, it’s a simple case of simmering this gluten free meal while doing other things. Depending on the type and price of the chicken you use, this dish will cost between $10-$13 to make and serves 6-8 with rice. Add to this dollops of greek style yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves. I’m loving eating it, even as I type! Thanks for pointing me towards this bonza recipe, Kara.
- 800g chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-3cm pieces
- 2 medium onions, halved and sliced thinly
- 1 fresh green chilli, optional (only if you like spicy curries. I left it out)
- A 3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, washed, leaves removed and stalks chopped finely
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
- rice bran or vegetable oil
- Knob of butter
- 1/2 x 290g jar of Patak’s korma curry paste
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
- A small handful of flaked almonds, plus extra for serving
- 2 heaped tablesoons desiccated coconut
- salt and pepper
- Greek style yoghurt, for dolloping
1. Put the oil in the pan to heat and add onions, ginger and coriander stalks. Stir constantly for ten minutes to ensure it’s become fragrant and hasn’t burnt on the bottom. If using chicken thighs, throw them in for browning now, otherwise if using breasts, hold off til end of step 2.
2. Add the korma paste, coconut milk, half the flaked almonds, chickpeas, desiccated coconut and sliced chicken breasts. Half fill the empty coconut milk tin with water, pour it into the pan, and stir. Let the whole thing simmer away for about half an hour. This is so easy – now just walk away and do other things, like putting the rice on in the rice cooker.
3. Season carefully once the chicken is cooked and become tender. Serve with boiled rice, adding a few spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt dolloped on top. Sprinkle over the rest of the flaked almonds and coriander leaves.
I saw this recipe floating around on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and it really grabbed me – who wouldn’t want to try a recipe promising muffins that taste like cinnamon doughnuts? These muffins delivered on their promise in taste, were simple to make from basic pantry ingredients that are readily on-hand and cost no more than $1.50 to make. Make these quick and easy muffins for last minute friends dropping by or for a quick solution for empty lunch boxes at the end of a busy week. Like all muffins, these don’t have an especially long shelf life, but they are freezer friendly and if you’re eating them after a day or two, a quick zap for 10-20 seconds in the microwave brings back a fair bit of freshness and restores them to something more like a warm cinnamon doughnut. For those avoiding sugar, simply replace the caster sugar measure for measure with dextrose (available from the beer brewing section at K-Mart or Big W). If you’re not too heavy-handed with the mixture it will make 12 muffins. Enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil (I use rice bran)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and distribute 12 paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tray.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix liquids in separate bowl or pyrex jug. Add liquids to dry ingredients and combine together well, without over beating. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins using two soup spoons (but don’t overload them). Bake for 15 mins though start checking at 10. When muffins spring back a little, they’re ready.
3. While muffins are baking prepare sugar topping: combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and melt butter in yet another bowl. As soon as muffins come out of the oven, dip each one into melted butter and roll into sugar & cinnamon mixture, or brush with butter and top with sugar mixture if muffins are too hot to handle.
Zucchini Slice has got to be one of my favourite money saving meals and it gets a regular workout around here in the summer months. Rather than spending money on expensive meat for a barbeque when having people over, I often choose some good quality sausages to cook on the barbie accompanied by Zucchini Slice and a fresh salad. As well as being so affordable, this little number has two other benefits: first, from dicing the onions to chopping the bacon, to whisking the eggs and grating the cheese, it can all be made using various blades of the food processor. Second, it can be made up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge to avoid cooking stress on the day your guests come over. To make this slice, originally from the Women’s Weekly, using the quantities that follow, costs around $6 and serves 6+. The photo above is a double quantity which neatly fits a roasting sized dish.
- 375g zucchini, grated
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 rashers of bacon, sliced or chopped
- 1 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 1/2 cup oil (I use rice bran oil)
- 5 eggs
- salt and pepper
- Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, SR flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.
- Pour into a well-greased or baking paper lined lamington tin 16cm x 26cm, bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned.
My friend Cathy is a great example of someone who practices hospitality. She knows how to make food taste good and she cares for others by unashamedly choosing do-able meals that aren’t trying to impress, but instead hit the spot in ways that don’t break the bank. Recently Cathy sent me a number of her favourite recipes that do all these things and I’m excited to share the first of these with you. The Butter Chicken recipe that follows is delightfully easy – choose to cook this crowd pleasing favourite in either the slow cooker or in a sealed casserole dish for a few hours in the oven. Doubling the measurements listed below neatly fills a 5.5L slow cooker, and doing so is my favourite time saver, fulfilling more than one purpose with just one venture in the kitchen. If you decide to make extra to freeze, here’s a tip I read in a magazine years ago: spray the inside of plastic containers with olive or canola spray before filling. This will create a film that protects the containers from the stain of the red coloured sauce. The quantities that follow serves 10 people and costs under $15 to make.
- I kg chicken thighs, chopped into chunks
- I onion, roughly chopped
- I jar of Patak’s Butter Chicken paste (not the sauce)
- I x 400g tin of diced or crushed tomatoes
- I x 420g tin of chickpeas, drained
- 150ml cream
- Handful of chopped coriander
- Brown chicken and onion in frypan.
- Put in a slow cooker or a heavy based casserole dish (covered) with the whole jar of butter chicken paste, tin of tomatoes and chickpeas.
- Cook for 2 hours in the oven, or 3 hours on high in the slow cooker or most of the day if set to low.
- Season with salt and pepper and add cream and coriander just before serving.
- Serve with basmati rice and microwaved pappadums.
- Raita (natural yoghurt mixed with grated or chopped cucumber) is also a yummy accompaniment.
More often than not these days, I find myself in need of inexpensive and simple recipes that can be made in massive quantities. I’ve realised this is because I don’t have enough time to bake or cook for just one purpose: whatever is on the go has to meet the need of a freezer requiring a terms worth of school little lunches, morning tea for church or suppers for Bible study. I also find it’s much more cost-efficient. So when my friend Kim gave me this bumper recipe for 60 banana choc-chip muffins I was over the moon. Now that bananas have come down in price (it seems it’s not too hard to get them for $2 per kg), now is a great time to make these moist and fudgey treats. If you don’t need 60, this recipe is easily halved. An important tip about these muffins: feel free to use homebrand choc-chips. They’re much smaller than their more expensive counterparts and actually work better in this recipe. Depending on the price of bananas, all up this huge batch of deliciousness costs approximately $20. Thanks for sharing, Kim!
- 15 very ripe bananas (approx. 4kg)
- 3 1/2 cups sugar (700g)
- 5 eggs, slightly beaten
- 375g butter, melted
- 5 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 7 1/2 cups self raising flour (1.2kg)
- 4 x 250g packets choc-chips (1kg)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and distribute muffin cases across as many muffins trays as you have and will fit in your oven.
- Put all the bananas in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until creamy.
- Put all dry ingredients in a huge bowl or plastic 6L all-purpose basin (see picture).
- In a large mixing bowl combine mashed bananas, sugar, eggs and melted butter. Tip this wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined, but don’t over do it.
- Using two dessert spoons, dollop one heaped spoon worth of mixture in each muffin case. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and cooked through. Enjoy!