Easy Pecan Pie Recipe

Pecan pie

“Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.”
~ Douglas Jerrold 1803-1857

Something very cool happened yesterday afternoon as we went for a family walk to wheel the rubbish bin (it’s a glamorous life on the farm LOL!) down our long driveway to the road.

As I trailed behind Ben and the dogs I spied a funny shaped rock on the grass.

Only it wasn’t a rock, it was a pecan nut!

pecans

The straggly-looking trees lining one side of our driveway are young pecan trees and this year was their first fruiting. They were planted before we came, and we’ve nursed them along, not knowing what they were.

Oh my goodness. I’m a pecan farmer!!!

Ben and I scrabbled around and I filled my apron pocket with nuts. There are still a few more to drop, but it’s not a bad first harvest.

What to do with fresh pecans besides stuff some immediately into your mouth? Pecan pie. I love this recipe – it’s easy to make, and not too sweet or rich.

Ingredients – Short Crust Easy Pastry:

1 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
125g butter (4 and 1/2 ounces), chilled (unsalted if you have it) and cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tblspns cold water
(for a sweeter pastry you can add 1 tablespoon icing sugar)

Method:

Put flour in a food processor, and add a few chunks of butter. Run on, and then slowly feed in the rest of the butter until your mixture looks like crumbs. Add yolk and water and mix again until it is just together (it’s okay to add a little extra water if needed). Dump out onto a sheet of cling wrap, form into a disc, wrap and rest in fridge for ten minutes.

Find a 20 centimetre (9 inch) spring-form pan, or pan with removable base if possible, or ordinary pie dish if not! Grease well.

Roll chilled pastry out thinly between two sheets of cling wrap or greaseproof paper. Take top piece off and use bottom sheet to turn pastry upside down and manuever pastry into dish. Remove plastic or paper, press in gently and trim off edges. Keep any extra pastry for little pie cases or turnovers etc. Pop back in fridge ten mins to rest.

**Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius (375 degrees fahrenheit)

Bake blind for ten minutes (ie place sheet of baking paper in pie dish and weigh down with rice, beans etc), then remove paper and rice and cook eight to ten more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on bench while you make filling.

** Turn down oven to 180 degrees celcius!! (350 degrees fahrenheit)

Pecans (1)

Ingredients for Pecan Filling:
1/2 cup Golden Syrup
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
50 grams (3 and 1/2 tablespoons) melted butter
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups pecans (depending on how deep your dish is)

Put all ingredients except nuts in bowl and mix well. Add nuts and stir to cover then pour mixture into pie dish.

Check that you turned the oven down! Bake pie for 20 minutes, checking in the last few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. (If it looks like it’s getting too brown turn oven down or remove pie.)

Cool at least a little before you eat (the roof of your mouth will thank you), and enjoy with cream or ice-cream.

slice of pecan pie

Easy Strawberry and Mulberry Teacake Recipe with Berry Compote

Strawberry and Mulberr eacake with Berry Compote and Icecream

Strawberry and Mulberry Teacake with Berry Compote and Ice Cream

“You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, you’d better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone’s hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people’s eyes like they’re the last you’ll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there’s no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it’s the only one left in the world!” 
― C. JoyBell C.

I don’t need much of an excuse to bake a cake. And now, while the mulberry tree is weighted down with dark sweet fruit, and my heritage strawberries are dripping berries, it seems only sensible to include them in my baking.

This cake can be made and eaten as a tea cake – it’s dense and buttery and not too sweet, making it wonderful for afternoon tea. If you like you could have it sliced with a scrape of butter, or get a little fancy and drizzle some lemony icing over the top. It’s equally delicious warm or cold.

Don’t panic if you’re not much of a baker – this recipe is dead easy.

I chose to bake my cake in the afternoon and let it cool for dinner, then served it with a simple warm berry compote and vanilla ice-cream. You have no idea how much willpower it took to not taste a corner while it was cooling.

There was plenty for the next day too. Leftovers always make me happy! Just remember to refrigerate any cake you don’t eat, as the soft berries mean the cake will only keep for three to four days.

If you don’t have access to fresh berries, frozen ones will work just fine. And the combination is really up to you. I’m just using strawberries and mulberries because that’s what’s ripe at my farm right now.

Serving up dessert at my low-key kitchen table dinner with the neighbours.

Serving up dessert at my low-key kitchen table dinner with the neighbours.

Cake Ingredients:

70g x (5 tablespoons) softened butter, 2 x teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 x egg, 1/2 x cup sugar, 1 x cup self raising (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 2 cups of berries, grated zest of one lemon.  1 x bundt pan well greased with butter or 1 x 20cm round cake tin, paper lined.

*Note: This cake also bakes up well using a commercially prepared gluten-free flour mix.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). Prepare your cake tin.

Wash berries, remove any hulls or stems and drain well. (I pat mine dry in paper towel.)

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Strawberries and mulberries from the garden!

Place butter and sugar in bowl and beat until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes). Then add in the egg, lemon zest, vanilla and beat again until thick and well combined. I use an electric mixer for this first part.

Fold through the yoghurt and flour with a spoon. Then gently fold in the berries.

Pretty cake batter ready for the pan

Pretty cake batter ready for the pan

Then carefully dollop your cake batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

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I love how the creamy batter is streaked pink and purple from the berry juices.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.  Check your cake by poking  a skewer into the centre at 25 minutes. If it comes out clean it is ready. Leave in a little longer if batter still clings to skewer.

Cool in tin for five minutes, then give it a shake to loosen it and invert onto a serving plate. There might be a few gooey soft berries on the top of the cake, which is part of its rustic charm.

The finished cake, cooling on my windowsill.

The finished cake, cooling on my windowsill.

Compote Ingredients:

2 heaped cups of berries, 2 tablespoons of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

Method:

Place the berries, sugar and lemon juice on a saucepan over low heat. Squash the berries slightly with a potato masher to release some of the juice.

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Blurry action shot of the berries being smashed up to make them juicy.

Heat until the berries become syrupy – which takes just a minute or two. Serve over the sliced cake.

This compote is also delicious over porridge, ice cream, pancakes or waffles. Enjoy!

Did I mention yummy? Yummy!

Did I mention yummy? Yummy!

Fairy Bread Recipe – An easy party treat!

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“You take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happiness.”~ Brad Garrett

I try to blog a recipe each week, but being a one-eyed pirate in the remote Outback has certainly proved a challenge on that front. However, I feel quite triumphant! I have managed to make Fairy Bread for a birthday afternoon tea while visiting at a friend’s cattle station, after being faced with limited ingredients at the local store.

Fairy Bread was always one of my childhood favourites. Children love it, and I hasten to add that most adults do too! It combines the soft chewy texture of white bread with creamy butter and a good sprinkling of crunchy sweet hundreds and thousands (coloured nonpareils). I also made some with chocolate hail – a kind of sweet chocolate sprinkle that is equally delicious.

It’s definitely not a health food, but as an occasional treat I highly recommend Fairy Bread – why, even the name is cute!

Ingredients:

Sliced soft white bread, soft spreadable butter, hundreds and thousands, chocolate hail or similar if desired. Some cookie or bread cutters if you have them.

Method:

If you have cookie cutters, leave the crusts on your bread, and stamp some shapes from the middle of each piece of bread, trying not to get any of the crust.

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If you don’t have cookie cutters simply cut the crusts off each slice of bread, and then cut your bread into squares or triangles.

Tip your hundreds and thousands or any other toppings into shallow wide bowls.

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Butter the bread thickly. Then turn it butter side down and press into a bowl of topping.

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Thank you to my friend, Carly-Jay Metcalfe, for this artful demonstration of technique!

Arrange decoratively on a large plate. Feel free to ask children to assist. Older kids love stamping the bread shapes and even littlies can dip the buttered slices to feel like they are helping. Just make sure SOME of the fairy bread makes it to the plate.

Serve with lemonade or a glass of milk for the kids. Adults might like to pair this with a good cup of tea or a glass of pink champagne!

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Easy Lemon Shortbread Recipe

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“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing – not career or housework, or one’s fatigue – and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” 
~ Julia Child, My Life in France

One of the things I treasure most about where I live is that wonderful sense of community. I like to keep the biscuit barrel and the cake tin full, so that when friends stop by there is always something tasty to go with a cup of tea, or to take when we go visiting.

Last weekend we dropped in at Shannon and Johnno’s farm – across the river that acts as our boundary – for a cuppa and a chat, and to use their log splitter to chop a load of hardwood. So much easier than doing it all with an axe – they don’t call it hardwood for nothing! I took a tin of biscuits round to say thank you. We often share baking and produce, and help each other out. That’s the joy of good neighbours. (You can read more about our neighbours here with this post I wrote about Shannon’s dad, Gordon.)

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The wood shed restacked with timber, thanks to the handy log splitter at Shannon and Johnno’s which made short work of a ute-load of logs.

This weekend one of Shannon’s cows crossed the river and got into our paddock. When our neighbours came to help us chase her back home again Johnno cheekliy asked if he could get a refill of the biscuit tin I’d taken them. So we met back down at the river later for an exchange. Ben crossed the shallow part of the river in his sturdy gumboots, took my empty tin back, and swapped it for one full of delicious lemon shortbreads.

These biscuits are a delectable buttery treat with a thin tangy glaze. Utterly munch-able. Which is another reason why I gave some of them away. Otherwise I might have succumbed to eating the entire batch myself. Thank goodness for neighbours who volunteer to eat my cooking.

Why don’t you whip some up so you can see what I mean? The melt ‘n mix recipe is quick to prepare and simple enough for the most unskilled cook.

Waiting at the river, biscuit tin ready for delivery...

Did I mention gumboots are ‘in’ down here? Waiting at the river, biscuit tin ready…

Special delivery! The shortbread hand-over.

Special delivery! The shortbread hand-over. This is just down from the platypus pond where I often go to meditate.

Shortbread Ingredients:

250 grams butter (1 cup), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch for my USA friends!), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 and 1/3 cups plain flour.

This works fabulously well with gluten-free flour. If you’re vegan or dairy-free use your favourite butter alternative.

Hint: use level cups of flours and sugars rather than generous ones.

Glaze ingredients:
1 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Method

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Shortbread:

Melt butter over low heat. Cool slightly. Sift icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl. Add sugar and lemon zest, then pour over the melted butter. Beat until thick and creamy. You could use a spoon or hand beaters but I use my trusty electric beaters.  The thickened mix will be the consistency of thick custard. Be patient, It takes a minute or two for the magic to work.

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Then add in the sifted flour and lemon juice. Mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly and moist. Tip into a lined baking tray and press down firmly, smoothing with your hands or the back of a spoon.

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If you want to serve this plain, mark into squares with a sharp knife and prick squares with a fork. You can also sprinkle a little extra sugar over if you like, for presentation.

If you are glazing your shortbread leave top smooth. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden.

To glaze:

Mix the icing sugar, butter and lemon juice together until well combined. Spread over the shortbread in the tin while it is still warm.  This will help to spread and set the glaze. Cut into squares or bars when glaze is set. Cool completely if you can wait that long. Share with friends.

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Rustic Strawberry Tart Recipe

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“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

~ Salvador Dalí

 

Strawberry tarts – so pretty, so tasty, and so easy to make!

Just before I left the farm to go to the city last week I picked a bucket of fresh strawberries. They were sweet and luscious, and Bert the dog and I ate almost as many as we collected.

Once we arrived in the city we soon had our fill of strawberries straight up, or in smoothies. So I decided to use some of them to make a tart.

I know my pastry recipe off by heart, and a pastry cream recipe too – simple recipes I mastered back in my college days. The ingredients were all in my pantry or fridge. What could be so hard about a strawberry tart?

A few things… I don’t spend much time in the city anymore, so I didn’t have a pie dish, a flan dish or anything else suitable for baking a pie in. And no rolling pin for my pastry. No matter. The joy of anything ‘rustic’ is the ability to improvise.

I found a baking sheet, a few bowls, a saucepan and a full wine bottle to use as a rolling pin. Easy!

This Strawberry Tart is a simple combination of pastry, filling and fruit. I’ll give you a few variations, so you can rustle something up to suit your kitchen, your mood and your energy levels.

Totally Easy ‘Throw It All Together’ Strawberry Tart

If you want the ultimate easy dessert buy a ready-made pastry shell, and then use whipped cream or thick custard for the filling.  You could even use chocolate mousse or lemon curd. Slice your strawberries and arrange over the top of the pie. If you can be bothered heat a little strawberry or apricot jam and brush over the fruit for a nice glossy finish.

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Totally Easy Homemade Strawberry Tart

Pastry:

1 and 1/2 cups plain flour, 125 grams (1/2 cup) butter, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioners sugar), 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water. PS * finely grated lemon zest if you like your crust a little zesty!

Cut butter into small cubes. Sift sugar and flour into a bowl and then rub butter through with fingertips until it forms fine crumbs. OR process in short bursts in food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Add egg yolk and enough water for pastry to come together into a ball. Do not overmix. The dough should just come together.

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I had no food processor so did the pastry by hand.

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Turn out onto a floured board and pat out into a round.  Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Roll chilled pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line a tart tin. Because I didn’t have a tin I used a bowl to make an approximation and placed my pastry directly onto the baking sheet. I then used the extra dough to build up some sides. Truly, if you have a pie shell or tart tin use it! But if you don’t, throw caution to the wind and get a little messy. Your tart will still taste fantastic. :)

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Prick base all over with a fork. Place into fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to harden the pastry. If you are using a pie shell place a sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and pour in some rice or dried beans so you can blind bake the case. This keeps the pie shell even and not too risen.

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If you’re doing a spot of rustic baking like me, don’t bother.  Just chuck it in the oven!

Bake for ten minutes if blind baking, then remove beans and paper and cook for another ten minutes until golden brown.

If rustic baking, bake for twenty minutes until golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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Pastry Cream:

Pastry cream is a thick smooth custard. It’s easy to make, and a delicious pie filling. It can also be used to fill choux pastry, eclairs and many other delicacies.

2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar plus 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 egg yolks and 1 egg, 1/4 cup of cornflour, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Note: Adjust sugar levels to suit your own taste.  This recipe also works well with Natvia in place of sugar.

Whisk eggs, cornflour and 4 tablespoons of sugar together in a large bowl so no lumps remain. Set aside.

Place the milk and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a large saucepan and heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Do not bring the milk to a boil but make sure it is quite warm. Pour the milk over the egg mixture, whisking thoroughly and then return to saucepan. Keep stirring over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla and stir well.  Cool slightly and then spoon into pie shell. Keep any remaining pastry cream in fridge, covered with plastic.

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Strawberry Topping

Slice one to 2 cups of strawberries and arrange on top of your pie shell. Warm a few tablespoons of apricot or strawberry jam and brush or spoon over fruit to cover.  This gives your tart a lovely glossy appearance and helps keep the cut fruit fresh.

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Eats well on its own but would also be delicious with a good ice-cream or some fresh cream.

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Walnut and Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites – Fit for a Prince!

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

While the world is abuzz with excitement at the birth of the Kate and William’s new baby boy, here we are celebrating by eating macaroons and drinking tea.  Welcome, Little Prince.  We shall blog about you tomorrow…

In the meantime, recipe!

In our household we call these little treasures yummy ‘uglies’.  They may not be the prettiest treats, but the taste more than makes up for it. Walnut and dark chocolate is a heavenly combination, made even better with coconut, and they are quick to whip up.

A variation of a macaroon, these Bites are gluten-free and can also be sugar-free, so they are great for diabetics and people with food intolerances or following a paleo diet.

Ingredients:

3 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut; 2 eggs; 3/4 cup of sugar or natvia (or other sweetener of your choice; 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts; 1/2 cup of roughly chopped dark chocolate.

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Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a baking tray/cookie sheet with baking paper.

Measure the coconut and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Dump in the walnuts and chocolate.

Break the eggs in and mix thoroughly. Leave stand for five minutes.

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Using a soup spoon or similar, dip the spoon into a mug of water (so the mixture doesn’t stick) and then press the palm of your other hand down on the spoon to firm up the mix. Drop onto the baking tray. Repeat until all the mixture is used, dipping spoon in water frequently to avoid sticking.

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It doesn’t matter if your Bites look a little messy and rustic. That’s part of their charm. If you want to get fancy, place a little bit of walnut on the top of each Bite. (As you can see, I wasn’t bothered. If the Queen had been coming to afternoon tea I would have made the effort though!)

Place into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the tray for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack until completely cool.

Although… if you eat them while they’re still warm the chocolate inside will still be gooey and extra delicious.  Fit for Royalty, and excellent for afternoon tea. :)

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Easy Date Loaf Recipe

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 
~ Laurie Colwin

 

Our farm is a social place. The pace of life is slower here, and people have time for a chat and a cuppa. It’s also a place where lots of physical work gets done, and I like to have a cake tin or biscuit barrel full so that I have something tasty to offer any visitors or workers with their cup of tea.

This beautiful moist date loaf recipe is handwritten in pencil on the inside cover of an old cookbook I found in an op-shop in Gin Gin when I was still a college student. I wrote the recipe, given to me from memory by an elderly lady named Marge who was busy making cakes and sandwiches with me and a group of other women one long hot summer so we could feed the rural fire-fighting crews during a terrible bush-fire year. Marge wrote written the words ‘economical’ and ‘quick’ in blue pen at the top of the page because these are very important things for a young girl to know, apparently.

It is indeed both of those things – and delicious too – made from simple ingredients most of us have in our pantry. This date loaf packs well for travelling or school lunches and will keep fresh in a sealed tin for up to a week.  It also freezes well so I usually double the mixture, cook two and freeze one for emergencies.

I’ve sometimes served it as a simple warm dessert with a sploodge of cream or ice-cream. The date loaf is also very good served sliced and buttered. When it’s fresh it doesn’t really need the butter, but gee, it’s so good why wouldn’t you?

Ingredients:

4 Weet-Bix, 1 cup of chopped dates, 1 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter (60 grams), 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 egg, 1 cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 cup of boiling water.

Variations of this recipe used by my CWA ladies:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or ground cinnamon
  • swap out the sugar for 3 heaped tablespoons of golden syrup or treacle

NoteWeet-Bix are a popular wheat biscuit breakfast cereal in Australia. On other shores they are known as Weetabix.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.

Crumble the Weet-Bix into a large bowl. Add the sugar (or syrup if using instead), chopped dates, butter and bicarb soda. Pour the cup of boiling water over and leave to soften for five minutes.

Add the sifted flour (and spices if using) and egg.  Mix together well with a wooden spoon. The batter will be quite thick. If you are adding walnuts or pecans dump them in now and give another quick stir.

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Pour into the lined tin and place in the oven for forty-five minutes. Test to see if cooked through by inserting fine skewer in center of cake. If it comes out clean it is done, if there is still sticky residue bake a little longer.

Leave in tin ten minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. It slices best using a serrated knife.

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No-Bake Yummy Slice Recipe

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“When all else fails, take a vacation.” 
~ Betty Williams

It’s school holidays here in Queensland, and this it the perfect easy slice to make.  In fact this recipe is so easy that the kids will have a batch of these whipped up faster than you can say “you’ll like this – it has chocolate in it!”

I’d love to have a more inventive name for this slice, but for years it has just been referred to as Nicole’s Yummy Slice.  It’s a delicious combination of apricots, nuts, oats, seeds and a dash of chocolate, and there’s no baking involved at all – just a little heating of a few wet ingredients.  This slice has been a stalwart at my workshops, and it’s a great standby recipe for school holidays, or as a lunchbox treat.  I also like to give it as a gift. It makes an ample batch, which is handy because it seems to get eaten very fast.

Ingredients:

Place the following in a large bowl:  3 cups of rolled oats, 1 cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, 1 and 1/2 cups (200 grams) of chopped dried apricots, 3/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), 1 cup of flaked almonds (100 grams), 1 and 1/4 cups of milk chocolate chips (250 grams)

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Place the following into a saucepan: 200 grams butter cut into cubes, 1/2 cup of soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup of honey

Method:

Use baking paper to line a 20cm by 30cm slab tin ( 8 inch by 12 inch).

Stir the dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Melt the wet ingredients together over medium heat, stirring so that it doesn’t catch on the  bottom and burn. When it is all melted, pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Dump into the tin and smooth out well, using the back of a spoon or a clean hand, which has been dipped in water so that the ingredients don’t stick to you!

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Refrigerate until firm, cut into squares and demolish!  Goes well with a glass of milk, a cup of tea or coffee or just on its own.  Enjoy :)

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Easy Baked Cheesecake Recipe – Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  Coincidence?  I think not!”  ~ Author Unknown

One of the not-fun parts of being unwell, or being on a restricted diet, is that treats seem to be harder to come by. So many desserts are crammed full of sugar, grains and fats. Or they have twenty steps, weird ingredients and you need specialised skill or equipment to replicate the results at home.

If you can eat dairy, you’ll find this fits the bill.  Low fat, made without sugar and grains, and high in protein, it’s suitable for people following High-Protein Low-Carb Diets, for diabetics and for anyone who is gluten-free.

This is a wonderful dessert.  But you can also feel quite happy about eating it for breakfast, as a snack, or following a big bowl of salad or vegetables as your protein fix.

And if none of these things apply to you, make it and eat it anyway – because it’s yummy!!!

I’ve used some fresh local blueberries for this recipe, but frozen ones work perfectly well too.

blueberries

INGREDIENTS

500 grams (2 cups) Ricotta Cheese, 3 eggs, 5 teaspoons of Natvia ( a stevia based sweetener), 1/2 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen) 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.

Separate the eggs, and put the whites into a large bowl, and the yolks into another bowl with the ricotta.  Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Whisk the yolks, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and nutmeg together.  Fold in the berries and then gently fold through the stiff egg white.  Pour into the pre-prepared loaf tin.

Dust top with cinnamon. (Cinnamon is a wonderful spice – it helps regulate blood sugar, lowers bad cholesterol and is very anti-inflammatory.)

Bake cheesecake for 40 minutes.  Mixture may still be a little soft to touch but will firm up as it cools.  Remove from tin when cold. Eat on its own, or with your favourite fruits and toppings. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: Don’t be alarmed if this weeps a little as it cools.  Simply drain the liquid away before you store it.  I keep mine loosely wrapped in the paper I baked it in, on a plate in the refrigerator.  The cheesecake will keep for a week, but it probably won’t last that long!

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Nicole’s Fruit Slice Recipe

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“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Tom Stoppard

This week’s offering for my ‘Slice Extravaganza’ series – recipes taken from the hallowed  Family Recipe Book - is known simply as ‘Nicole’s Fruit Slice’.  Why? When I was a little girl it was my absolute favourite, and I never tired of it.

It has a moist biscuit base, a luscious tangy fruit filling with a hint of cinnamon and lemon and a sweet glace icing to top it off.

I would race home from primary school with my little brother and sister in tow, find the big old key under one of the potplants beside the laundry, unlock the back door, get everyone out of uniforms and into play clothes and then we would sit and have afternoon tea at the table in the kitchen before we did our homework. One glass of cordial each, or milk if there was plenty, and a piece of slice. (Often, we ate two..)

I am still quite partial to pink icing. Especially on cupcakes.  But that’s a whole other story. As you can see from the picture below, food appreciation and daydreaming has been a big part of my life since I was small! You will also see that I avoided eating crusts, on account of them making your hair go curly.

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Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of plain flour (all purpose flour), 3/4 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of lightly packed soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) butter cut into cubes

*Note – for vegans, use a vegetable butter substitute.  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix and coconut substituted for the oats. – Don’t pack this too tightly into the tin if using the gluten-free mixture.

Fruit Layer:

1 cup of dried currants, 1/2 cup of sultanas (golden raisins), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of cornflour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 cup of water

Glace Icing (Frosting):

1 cup of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of milk, pink food colouring

METHOD:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Base:

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then rub in the butter with your fingertips.  The mixture should resemble soft bread crumbs.  Press the mixture firmly into the paper-lined tin, making sure to fill right to the edges.

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Fruit Layer:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine,  Keep stirring over moderate heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and spoon evenly over slice base.

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Place your slice into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is firm.

Glace Icing: (Frosting)

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and beat until smooth.  Colour a pleasing shade of pink. (Trust me – this is an issue of personal taste.) Place bowl over hot water until the icing is very runny and easy to spread. Pour over warm slice and spread to the edges.

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Allow to cool in tin before removing.  Cut into small squares. DO resist cutting before it cools, as slice takes a few hours to firm up and you’ll be left with a crumbly disaster! **Note – cooling can be hastened by placing in refrigerator…

Store in an airtight tin in a cool place. Goes exceptionally well with a cold glass of lemon cordial, milk or for the grown ups – hot French Earl Grey Tea!

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