Wednesday, April 16

Lunch, dinner, take a meal solution - my kids' favourite quiche!

Quiches are so versatile.  They are great hot or cold.  For lunch or dinner, can freeze easily and be re-heated from frozen and they are a superb gift for a friend who needs a break from cooking or a new Mum.

School holidays is a great time to make quiche because they are quick dinner and lunch solution you can have on hand when you either want to chill out or you're busy.  I make my quiche pastry in the food processor or thermomix, and I make them two at a time generally - so if you only have 1 quiche or pie tin, I suggest you get another because it's very little extra effort to make two and you can freeze the second one.  You can thank me later for that one!

Ingredients: PER quiche
125g cold butter, cubed
1 2/3 cups plain flour
1 egg
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tb cold water

handful baby spinach leaves
100g pancetta, sliced
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
100g smoked cheddar, crumbled
6 eggs
1/4 cup cream

Make your pastry first by adding butter, flour egg, mustard into your processor.  pulse until it is well combined and add water until it comes together.  Put into a ziplock bag and into the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
Roll out your dough between two pieces (or one long piece) of baking paper.  This way you don't need flour your surfaces or anything.. much less mess!

Rub your tins with some canola spray and then lay your pastry into your tin ensuring you fold into the edges.

Now sometimes I leave the trim on, but I had a helper who wanted to take them off - just fold it over the edges and take off the excess.

Dock your dough or prick it with a fork evenly over the base - this allows it to have air circulate through it when it cooks and makes sure you get a crispy base.

Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights - or rice or dry beans.. I really need to buy some more of these they have 'disappeared'...

Pop them into the oven for 15 minutes, remove the weights and put them back in for 5 minutes..

Then get cracking on your fillings!  Crack your eggs into a bowl (look at the focus!)

 ....add your cream and pepper and give it a whisk..

Cut up all your ingredients and get ready to assemble on your quiche bases!

 And that's the fun big, just arrange them evenly...

Add pour the egg mixture over the top, voila!  Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

And you're ready to eat, cool, freeze, warm, eat or give!  Enjoy!

Monday, April 14

Sweet pumpkin loaf (in the thermomix, and not)

Hello!  For those of you who don't have a thermomix - don't worry - you can use a food processor too!  If you don't have a thermomix, use a grater and a large bowl.  Many people ask me : 'Is the Thermomix worth the money?' and I can't really answer that because $1,900 is a lot to some and not much to others.  To me it's a lot of money, and I don't use it all the time but it is a quality appliance that I do use and it's great as my 'supporting act' rather than the 'star' of my kitchen.   

This is one recipe which it's a great supporting act, because it can chop up pumpkin within an inch of it's life in seconds... the grating would take me five minutes, but here it takes 10 seconds in the thermomix.

Now onto the recipe!

700g pumpkin, skin off
200g wholemeal flour (1 cup)
200g plain flour (1 cup)
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
170g canola oil (3/4 cup)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
15g vanilla extract (1 tsp)
50g maple syrup (2 tb)
25g Pepitas (2 tb)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees
Scrape off your pumpkin seeds and pop them on to baking paper, and pop in the oven.

Chop your pumpkin up and put into the thermomix, chop by rising the speed gradually up to 8 over 10 seconds, and your pumpkin should look like this:
If you don't have a thermomix, but have a food processor, suggest you use a grate function and grate the pumpkin and put into a bowl.  If you don't have a food processor hand grate into a bowl.

Next, to the thermomix add all the rest of the ingredients besides the pepitas.

Mix for 30 seconds speed 4 reverse.  It should look like this! Smells good too!  Otherwise - add dry ingredients to the pumpkin and stir, crack your eggs into a separate boil and quickly whip the oil in and then mix that into the dry ingredients.

By now your pumpkin seeds should be lovely-toasty.. so remove those and turn down the oven to 160 degrees.

Add those pumpkin seed and any more pepitas you like and stir it through the mixture.

Line and grease a loaf pan and add your mixture

Sprinkle some pepitas on top

Bake for 1 hour, check it's ready by using a skewer or knife in the middle of the cake.  If it comes out clean, it's ready, if not, put it back for 10 minutes and try again.  When it is ready, leave to cool on your bench for about 30 minutes before lifting out.

You'll want to eat it right now because that mix of cinnamon, pumpkin and sweetness of maple will be calling you 'eat me, eat me!'

Slice up and eat on it's own or with a bit of butter, nice and melty..

Friday, January 31

Make ahead baked peach french toast

Weekends of late have been a bit frantic.  Since we got back from our holiday it was straight back to work, so unpacking has quickly turned around into getting ready for school and getting back to the farmgate, stocking up our freezer...  I picked up these gorgeous peaches and right now we're at the end of the stone fruit season here in Australia and it's just glorious.  Peaches that are soft sweet and juicy and I love the challenge of  trying to quickly eat them before end up with juice down to your elbows...

I saw this recipe whilst we were in New York on Pinterest and bookmarked it for when I got home.  I didn't want to used tinned peaches, although I'm sure it's still delicious if you do..  You need to prepare it the night before you want to eat it, it's 10 minutes prep and then 45 minutes in the oven... just enough time to get up, put the finishing touches on, then go back to bed for a snuggle, catch up on Facebook or watch some morning news before dishing up something wonderful.

Take it from me friends, you want to try this - it's custard-y, sweet but not too overwhelming.  Warm, filling and comforting.  A great way to start a day I think..

Serves 6
1 french stick or couple of rolls - make sure they are on the stale side.
2 -3 large peaches, sliced
8 eggs
500mls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
200mls cream

Slice bread and arrange in a baking dish.

Slice your peaches and insert them around your bread

In a jug mix all remaining ingredients besides your brown sugar, cinnamon and cream.. whisk them together until well combined.. then pour evenly over the bread and peaches

Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon evenly.

Cover in plastic film and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning turn your oven on to 200 degrees c.
Pour your cream into a saucepan and heat on medium high heat until it reduces slightly - about 10 minutes.. then pour over your tray.

Bake for 45 minutes - leave it in if it seems very runny still... when it's done, leave it to sit for about 3-4 minutes before serving.  It won't need any accompaniments!

Wednesday, January 29

Make your own tinned (canned) apricot preserves!


I have a few things I can't resist to buy.  1.  A good handbag   2.  Cute cupcake papers   3.  Gorgeous fruit in season.  I went farmgating on the weekend and saw these apricots and I bought everything they had.  I asked if they had more.. unfortunately not.  I had 1.5 kilos from the farm and then asked hubby whilst he was at the supermarket to pick me up another kilo.  There's no point preserving anything under 2 kilos in my opinion.

The apricots that came from the supermarkets were of course about 50% more expensive and about 50% smaller... I'm sure they don't taste as good either but I think preserving them in syrup, I'm bound to get the best of out of them.   My Laura ADORES apricots so was bitterly disappointed I only let her have one before I preserved the rest - but I did reason, she'll get to eat them all throughout the year this way...

Of course, I had Eloise help me who isn't a huge lover of apricots, at least I knew I wouldn't lose as many to 'spoilage' aka Laura's mouth...

If you haven't preserved before and want to give it a try now is a really good time to start.. there's lots of good things in season - apricots, peaches, mangoes, cherries, plums... you can can them like this or make sauces, jams - all kinds of stuff.  I liken it to making up presents for you to open and enjoy throughout the year   You can buy jams and tinned fruit but it's never as nice as when you make it yourself.  They also make brilliant gifts....

Makes 5 x litre jars
2.5 kilos apricots
1.2 kilos sugar
2-3 vanilla pods
5 x 1 litre preserving jars

Cut your apricots in half, reserve 25 seeds.

Sterilise your jars.  I put mine in the dishwasher with no powder on a pot wash, and then I let them air dry.  You can also boil them (but you need to submerge them so you'll need a very big pot or do it in batches) for about 5 minutes under furious boil then take them out carefully with tongs and put them into an over over 100 degrees until they dry.

Start off by adding your sugar to 2.5 litres of water.   Bring to a furious boil for 10 minutes or until it reduces by 20%.

Turn off and allow to cool whilst you prepare your jars and fruit..

Put your apricots in the jar, add 5 of your seeds in the middle of each jar.
Add half a vanilla pod that's been split to expose the beans.

Don't they look beautiful?

Then fill your jars up to the top with your syrup.  You need to make sure that the fruit is completely submerged.  Put the lid on tightly.  My tip for you is to buy a wide funnel, you can buy it at the same place I get my jars from here

It looks like you're finished... but you're not.  You need to process your fruit, which means killing all the bacteria that could be in your jars... place your jars into large pot and fill with water, bring to the boil for 20 minutes, turn off and leave to cool.  Do this twice over two days.. and then store in a cool dark place until you're ready to eat them.!

Monday, January 27

Bookmark this! Frills in the hills Muffin Encyclopedia - 25 muffin recipes to inspire you!

I find muffins are the staple of my lunchbox arsenal - they are quick, easy and produce big yields that can be frozen and added to lunchboxes easily.   I usually like to have two types going at one time, allowing some variety.  I don't put them in every day but on those busy days they are a godsend.  I also like to take some out in the morning to thaw for afternoon tea whilst we're bustling between activities - gymnastics, touch-football, netball, tap-dancing this year for us!

I've marked them to indicate how many you get - 'makes' and how long it takes - 'takes' and whether they meet the nut-free policy many schools have now 'lunchbox friendly'.  I've also divided them into sweet and savoury - not everyone has a sweet tooth and a lot of the savoury ones are great accompaniments to soup in winter..

So have fun, tell me your favourite and share with your friends who no doubt like us, need a short-cut every now and again - lots of recipes in one spot!


Apple blueberry muffins
Makes: 18
Takes 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Apple cinnamon muffins
Makes: 18
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes
Apple raspberry muffins
Makes : 20 cupcake size or 12 large muffins
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Apple rhubarb and custard muffins
Makes: 24
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes

Banana bran muffins:
Takes: 50 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Banana maple muffins
Makes: 24
Takes: 45 minutes

Banana passionfruit muffins
Makes 22
Takes:  45 minutes
Cherry coconut muffins
Makes: 20 cupcake size or 12 large muffins
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  If you are allowed coconut yes, if not - no..

Donut muffins
Makes: 18
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes
Honey almond oat yoghurt muffins
Makes:  24
Takes: 60 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  No, as has nuts...

Lemon ricotta muffins
Makes:  18
Takes: 40 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  yes

Lemon poppyseed muffins
Makes: 24
Takes: 50 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes

Lemon vanilla yoghurt muffins
Makes: 24
Takes: 50 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes

Mighty Milo muffins
Makes: 12
Takes:  45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Oat and cranberry muffins
Makes: 12
Takes:  45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes
Peach, coconut and oat muffins
Makes: 24
Takes:  45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:   If you are allowed coconut yes, if not - no..

Pear raspberry and oat muffins
Makes: 18
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Raspberry and coconut cream muffins (dairy free)
Makes: 24
Takes: 45 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes
Sugar and dairy free muffins
Makes:  20
Takes: 40 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Strawberry cream cheese muffins
Makes:  30
Takes:  50 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Cheese and rosemary muffins
Makes: 10
Takes: 30 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: yes

Cheese and salami muffins
Makes:  12-15
Takes:  40 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes

Cornbread muffins
Makes: 24
Takes:  50 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes - recommend these with soup

Spinach and cheese muffins
Makes: 12
Takes: 40 minutes
Lunchbox friendly: Yes

Zucchini, ricotta and thyme muffins
Makes:  12-15
Takes:  40 minutes
Lunchbox friendly:  Yes


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