A fruitful venture

[Recipe 1] KHOSHAF (DRIED FRUIT SALAD) with HONEYED NUTS
transforms into
[Recipe 2] ORANGE, MIXED FRUIT and CHIA MUFFINS

May I suggest an excellent Christmas gift idea, perhaps for your parents or in-laws? A food tour! The CAE has a fab list of culinary walks and tours, and I can’t wait to head off on a mushroom hunting expedition with my mum next year. The husband and I took my mother-in-law on a food tour of Sydney Road 12 years ago. It was surprisingly intriguing playing tourist on one of our favourite streets, and I learned the technique for making khoshaf from our guide.
Khoshaf is a traditional Middle Eastern dried fruit salad; made by soaking, rather than stewing, dried fruit in water overnight with fragrant rosewater and spices. I dished it up to my lovely lady friends for breakfast, on our recent holiday in Trentham. A country vacation is not complete without enamelware, and I was rapt to discover 2 classic enamel picnic plates among the unmatched crockery – see my first photo below.
I’m not a fan of overly sweet fruit for breakfast, so although authentic khoshaf includes sugar, I’ve found using a mixture of water and orange juice adds just enough sweetness. Khoshaf usually includes nuts too, but I omit these and serve the fruit with my honeyed nuts on the side instead. The plump fruit and crunchy nuts go beautifully with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Such a lip-smackingly healthy way to start the day!
I made another batch of khoshaf recently, determined to see if I could transform it into a second meal, and lo and behold it morphed into the most addictive Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins. My boys loved these, and I’m both embarrassed and proud to say we ate the lot in one day. I’ve since made another batch, and placed them directly in the freezer.
I used my own go-to muffin recipe as the base. The 1½ cups of reserved dried fruit salad can be replaced with almost any fruit – see ingredients for my banana, coconut and lime muffins and carrot and sultana spice muffins in the recipe notes. I must say dried fruit salad is one of my most favourite muffin additions to date, and I may go and snaffle one from the freezer right now.

Khoshaf (dried fruit salad)[Recipe 1] Khoshaf (dried fruit salad) with honeyed nuts

Ingredients (makes approximately 4 cups):
150g (5¼ oz) dried apples, halved
200g (7 oz) dried apricots (or dried peaches, halved)
150g (5¼ oz) pitted prunes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1½ cups freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 2 large oranges)
cups water
1½ teaspoons rose water
Honeyed nuts, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve

Place dried fruit, cinnamon and star anise in a bowl. Bring orange juice and water to the boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the dried fruits and spices. Fruit should be well-covered with liquid, so add more boiling water if necessary. Sprinkle with rosewater.
Stir lightly. Steep overnight in the fridge, covered.
Serve with Greek yogurt, scattered with honeyed nuts.

♦ Reserve 1½ cups of the dried fruit salad for the orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins.

  • Dried fruit salad will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Add a little more boiling water if it begins to need more liquid.
  • You can use any dried fruit for this dish; such as figs, medjool dates, pears or large raisins. This recipe is a great way to use up all those bits and pieces languishing in your pantry. You’ll need a total of 500g (approx. 1 lb).
  • If the idea of dried apricots marinating in a pool of sulphites isn’t appealing, you can use organic apricots – the colour won’t be as vivid but the flavour will be just as fabulous.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores, such as Oasis or A1 Bakery. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own. Leftover pure rosewater can be used as a natural face toner!

Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffinsOrange, mixed fruit, chia muffins

[Recipe 2] Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins

Ingredients (makes 12):
2 cups (300g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
½ cup (50g) oat bran
3 tablespoons chia seeds

½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter, melted, slightly cooled
1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad, drained, roughly chopped
¼ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Combine flour, oat bran, chia seeds and sugar in a large bowl.
Lightly whisk buttermilk, egg and melted butter in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix lightly until just combined.
Add reserved dried fruit salad, orange juice and zest and fold together gently until just combined (a few floury lumps are perfectly fine). Don’t over-mix, or you’ll end up with tough muffins! Divide mixture among 12 lined muffin pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin. Allow to cool in tray for ten minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

  • Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days – they remain surprisingly moist. If you’re frightened you may polish off the lot in one sitting, they can be frozen for up 2 months and thawed overnight in the fridge.
  • This muffin recipe is easy to vary:
    Banana, lime and coconut muffins: Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup mashed banana (you’ll need 2 large very ripe bananas) and ½ cup shredded dried coconut. Replace the orange juice and zest with lime juice and lime zest. Sprinkle with extra shredded coconut.
    Carrot and sultana spice muffins: Add ½ teaspoon mixed spice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup grated carrot (you’ll need 2 large carrots) and ½ cup sultanas.

Just good friands

[Recipe 1] STEWED APPLE, RHUBARB and POMEGRANATE with CARAMELISED BUCKINIS transforms into
[Recipe 2] GLUTEN-FREE APPLE, RHUBARB and CHIA SEED FRIANDS
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Happy Mother’s Day mamma readers. Are you doing anything special tomorrow? I’m looking forward to brekkie in bed and gifts from my son’s Mother’s Day stall at school (hoping for soap on a rope, just secretly).
This week I’m dishing up two pink recipes for Mother’s Day. First up is apple and rhubarb, stewed in pomegranate juice. The pomegranate juice adds a fab burst of pinkness and vitamins. Have also included instructions for seeding and juicing pomegranates. It’s pretty simple – slice them open, drop the chunks in water, furkle about for the seeds, and lightly blend them to extract the juice.
A friend gifted us a big bag of Loving Earth caramelised buckinis recently (thanks Danny!) which we sprinkled on top of the stewed fruit. They’re light and crispy, and absolutely delicious. Shhhh, they’re actually activated too, but I don’t want to risk saying that word out loud after the aftermath of the infamous Pete Evans interview, which had me spluttering into my coffee.
Reserve a cup of the stewed apple and rhubarb and you can make beautiful (even if I do say so myself) Gluten free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands, perfect for Mother’s Day morning tea.

PomegranateStewed apple and rhubarb[Recipe 1] Apple and rhubarb stewed in pomegranate juice

Ingredients (makes approx. 6 cups):
4 tablespoons brown sugar 
½ cup (125ml) pomegranate juice (from 2 pomegranates)
8 large green apples (1½ kilos/3 lb), peeled, sliced thickly into 1cm (half-inch) slices
1 bunch (4 fat stalks) rhubarb, chopped into 2½ cm (1″) pieces

1 lemon, finely zested (about 1 tablespoon)
Greek yogurt, to serve (or try Good Cook’s home-made yogurt)
Caramelised buckinis, for sprinkling

Place the sugar and pomegranate juice in a large saucepan. Add apple slices, rhubarb and lemon zest and simmer, covered, over a low heat until apples are just tender and still holding their shape; and rhubarb is starting to break down; about 8–10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool.
Reserve 1 cup of the stewed apple and rhubarb for the Gluten-free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands.
Serve the stewed apple and rhubarb with Greek yogurt, scattered with caramelised buckinis.

  • Poached apple and rhubarb will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to one week; or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Poached apple and rhubarb, pureed smooth, is great for kid’s lunchboxes. Keep it in little containers in the freezer and defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • Caramelised buckinis are available from health food stores or online from Loving Earth. Replace with muesli if unavailable.
  • Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so don’t give them to your rabbits or guinea pigs!

Apple rhubarb friands

[Recipe 2] Gluten-free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands

Ingredients (makes 10):
1⅓ cups (160g) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
½ cup (75g) buckwheat flour
1½ cups (180g) oven-roasted almond meal (ground almonds)
2 tablespoons chia seeds

5 egg whites, unbeaten
185 grams (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (60g) chopped walnuts

♦ 1 cup reserved stewed apple and rhubarb, large apple pieces roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Lightly oil a ten-cup capacity friand tin (or 10 petite loaf pans).
Sift icing sugar and flour into a large bowl. Add almond meal and chia seeds and stir until combined.
Add the unbeaten egg whites and melted butter and stir until well-combined. Fold through the walnuts and reserved stewed apple and rhubarb.
Spoon mixture into prepared friand tin and bake for 15–18 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of one.
Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Sprinkle with extra icing sugar if desired.

  • Oven-roasted almond meal is a recent discovery of mine and it’s fabulous, so nutty and flavoursome. It is available at large supermarkets. Replace with traditional almond meal if unavailable.
  • You can replace the stewed apple and rhubarb with poached apple and feijoia for a change. 
  • Unlike muffins, friands will keep fresh and moist in a covered container for up to 3 days.
  • Egg whites are unbeaten for friands – don’t whisk them or the texture will change!

She’ll be apples

[Recipe 1] APPLE, LIME and COCONUT CAKE transforms into 
[Recipe 2] MINI APPLE and COCONUT BAKED DOUGHNUTS (DONUTS)
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The School holidays have come to an end and I’m back on the school lunch and kid ferrying treadmill. We didn’t get up to anything fancy, but there was quite a bit of bike-riding, crafting and baking. Took the boys to a Bruno Munari mask-making workshop at Rae Ganim’s fabulous store. Munari is one of my biggest design crushes. His incredible book Circus in the Mist is one of my most treasured possessions (you can scroll through it here), and his kid’s book ABC was well-thumbed when my sons were little.
My boys and their Munari-inspired masks are shown in photos 9 and 11, and below! In the first photo on the Ganim store website you can also catch a glimpse of the exhibition they hosted, Hot Potatoes, with 40 artist’s interpretations of Mr Potato Head. Just gorgeous! There are more great photos of the show on one of my favourite Melbourne blogs, handmadelife. Check out Beci Orpin’s cutie.
My boys love baking and this moist Apple, lime and coconut cake we made for morning tea on the School holidays was a winner. We’ve been making variations of this cake for years – it’s also fab made with pear. The sweet, buttery aroma that fills the house as you bake it is an added bonus, as is the batch of fab Mini apple and coconut baked doughnuts (donuts). When my boys were toddlers I was a purist-mum and fully-fledged member of the food police. Nary a grain of sugar passed their little lips. I’m still a carrot cake/muesli slice kind of gal, but now the boys are strapping lads, I say there’s nothing wrong with the occasional sugar-rolled doughnut, especially if it’s home-made and full of apple! These are delicious and much lower fat than regular doughnuts as they’re baked, not fried. We like to call them no-nuts.
The cake is best baked separately from the mini doughnuts. You can bake the cake first, but we usually cook the doughnuts first, and slice the apples for the cake while we’re waiting.
Enjoy the rest of the week folks.

Bruno Munari masksApple coconut and lime cake[Recipe 1] Apple, lime and coconut cake

185g (6 oz/1½ sticks) butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
3 eggs
2½ cups (375g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
¾ cup milk
¾ cup (70g) moist flaked coconut
3 peeled apples (any variety); 2 grated, 1 very thinly sliced
1 lime, zested and juiced 
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Beat butter, vanilla and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
Add flour gradually, alternating with milk, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the coconut and two grated apples.
♦ Reserve 2¼ cups (approx. 550g) of the apple cake batter for the Mini apple and coconut baked doughnuts.
To the remaining 3 cups (750g batter), stir in the lime zest. Pour into a lined 23cm (10-inch) round springform cake tin. Don’t worry if it looks like a small amount of batter. It will puff up as it bakes.
Place thinly sliced apple on top, drizzle with lime juice and scatter with brown sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack.

  • The apple, lime and coconut cake will keep well in a cake tin for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Baked apple coconut donuts

[Recipe 2] Mini apple and coconut baked doughnuts

2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter, melted 
550g (about 2¼ cups) reserved apple cake batter

¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Grease 2 x 12-cup mini muffin pans with the melted butter.
Fill 20 muffin pans with reserved apple cake batter.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a doughnut.
Mix caster sugar and cinnamon together. Place hot cupcakes on a large plate. Scatter cinnamon sugar on top, and roll cupcakes around until well coated with cinnamon sugar.
Makes 20 mini doughnuts.

  • The mini apple and coconut baked doughnuts will keep well in a cake tin for up to 3 days. You’ll probably polish them off in one sitting though – we do! They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

I beg your pudding

[Recipe 1] STICKY DATE PUDDING with TOASTED HAZELNUTS
transforms into

[Recipe 2] LITTLE LUMBERJACK CUPCAKES
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We’ve survived the first week of school holidays relatively unscathed. Gawd, the weather has been revolting, so there has been a lot of crafting and indoor fun and games; including Lego, Lego and Lego. Oh, and fort-making – my 5-year old received the most beautiful hand-made fort kit for his birthday last weekend (thanks Lauren)! We also saw Brave (loved it) and the boys (and me, just secretly) were riveted by episodes of Lassie on DVD. Did I mention we also played with Lego?
Winter brings out the baker in me, and warm desserts feature heavily on our menu. A good old Sticky date pudding is one of our favourite Sunday night desserts. We especially love ours topped with toasted hazelnuts. The bonus with this recipe is that you’ll also end up with a batch of yummo coconut-topped Little lumberjack cupcakes. They freeze well and are perfect for school and work lunchboxes. We scoffed the pudding in one sitting recently, and relinquished the batch of cupcakes to our school cake sale – they’re perfect for a baked goods stall as they remain lovely and moist for a couple of days.
Like my Banana honey cake, these two recipes are a little different to the usual 1=2 meals as they can be cooked together. If you can’t fit the pudding and cupcakes side by side in your oven though, place the cupcakes on the middle shelf, and the pudding below. When you remove the cupcakes after 20–25 minutes, move the pudding up a shelf and continue baking. If your oven is not good at sharing though, you can bake the pudding first while you prepare the cupcakes.

Sticky date pudding

[Recipe 1] Sticky date pudding with toasted hazelnuts

Ingredients (makes pudding to serve 6, plus 12 cupcakes):
400g (14 oz) pitted dates, chopped
1 cup (250ml) boiling water
125 grams (4 oz/1 stick) butter, softened
1¼ cups firmly packed (250g) brown sugar
4 eggs
350g (2⅓ cups) self-raising (self-rising) flour
100g (3½ oz) hazelnuts, roasted and skinned, roughly chopped, to serve
Sticky toffee sauce:
¾ cup firmly packed (150g) brown sugar, extra
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter, extra

Soak dates in boiling water for at least 30 minutes, pushing them down well so they soak up all the water.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Fold in flour until well incorporated, then stir in the soaked dates.
Reserve half the batter (3 cups/ 750g) for the little lumberjack cupcakes.
Spoon remaining mixture into a lined 20cm (8-inch) square cake tin.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
The Little lumberjack cupcakes can be cooked at the same time (see recipe 2).
Meanwhile, make the sticky toffee sauce. Place additional brown sugar, cream, vanilla and butter in a small heavy-based saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until sauce comes to the boil. Remove from heat.
Cut pudding into chunky squares to serve, scattered with toasted hazelnuts. Pour warm sticky toffee sauce over each and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.

  • The pudding, sauce and toasted hazelnuts will keep for 3 days in airtight containers in the fridge. They also freeze really well in separate containers, for up to 3 months. Warm the pudding and sauce, covered, in the microwave before serving.

Little lumberjack cupcakes

[Recipe 2] Little lumberjack cupcakes

3 cups (750g) reserved sticky date pudding batter [see recipe 1]
1 green apple, peeled and grated
½ cup (45g) shredded coconut
Extra shredded coconut for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Put reserved sticky date pudding batter into a large bowl.
Fold in apple and coconut.
Divide mixture among 12 lined muffin pans. Use waxed muffin cases; or for a café look, line the holes with hand-cut squares of baking paper. Sprinkle with extra shredded coconut.
Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cupcake.
The cupcakes can be cooked at the same time as the sticky date pudding (see recipe 1), side by side. Simply remove the cupcakes from the oven after 20–25 minutes (as quickly as possible so the oven doesn’t lose too much heat); and continue cooking the pudding for a further 10–15 minutes. See extra cooking hints in my post introduction.

  • Apple can be swapped for firm or just-ripe pear.
  • Choco-date muffins are also delicious – my boys love them. Replace the apple and coconut with ¼ cup sifted cocoa powder and ½ cup dark chocolate chips. Add 2 tablespoons milk.
  • The cupcakes will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They can also be frozen, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight.

The monster mash

[Recipe 1] SNEAKY CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN MUFFINS transform into
[Recipe 2] SNEAKY TUNA CASSEROLE with SEVEN HIDDEN VEGGIES

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For this week’s recipes you’ll need a mountain of mashed pumpkin (or pumpkin purée for our American friends). I’m a big fan of disguising veggies, and mashed pumpkin absolutely rocks as it’s so easy to sneak into baked goods.
The first recipe is for delicious and slightly kooky Sneaky chocolate pumpkin muffins. These are my take on the weirdest recipe I’ve ever found on the internet – pumpkin chocolate cupcakes with two ingredients: mashed pumpkin and packaged chocolate cake mix. I made them once, and although the concept seemed completely grosse, they were actually ok, and my 4-year old devoured them, completely oblivious to the pumpkin. I prefer not to use packet cake mixes though; so, with a bit of experimenting I’ve devised a way to make chocolate pumpkin muffins using ‘normal’ ingredients. My 4-year old loves these too. I’m all for deception of small children if it helps to get the veggies in; but if you can’t live with the guilt, go ahead and fess up to the pumpkin after they’ve tasted one.
Reserve some of the puréed pumpkin from the muffins (see the orange diamonds for quantities) and you can hide it in a creamy sauce added to a fab Sneaky tuna casserole with seven hidden vegies (eight, if you count the onion). Both my boys love this, and again have no clue there is pumpkin in it.
Tuna casserole is the ultimate retro daggy dinner – mine even features curry powder (Keens of course), a back-of-the-cupboard spice I only ever pull out for this dish. It’s a fab weeknight dinner as it takes no time to put together, especially if you’re making it with leftover rice, and leftover steamed veggies. You can use any combination of veggies, as long as they add up to about 2½ cups in total (plus the onion and zucchini). Enjoy.

Chocolate pumpkin muffins

[Recipe 1] Sneaky chocolate pumpkin muffins

Ingredients (makes 18 muffins, plus extra puréed pumpkin for recipe 2):
1¼ kilos (2½ lb) chopped pumpkin – you’ll need one large 1½ kilo (3 lb) pumpkin
125 grams (4 oz/1 stick) butter, softened
1¼ cups firmly packed (250g) brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups (300g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
¾ cup (75g) cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (50g) rolled oats
1¼ cups (310ml) buttermilk
18 large dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Steam the pumpkin pieces until soft. Purée until completely smooth, with a stick blender or food processor. You’ll need 3 cups (800g/28 oz) of puréed pumpkin for these two recipes. Allow to cool completely, in the fridge.
Reserve half of the puréed pumpkin, 1½ cups (400g/14 oz), for the Sneaky tuna casserole with seven hidden vegies.
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Fold in 1½ cups puréed pumpkin until well incorporated. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Add salt and oats and stir to combine. Fold this into the wet mixture, a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir lightly, until the mixture is just combined. Don’t over mix! Streaks are fine.
Divide mixture among 18 lined muffin pans. Push a chocolate chip into the top of each muffin.
Bake for 20–23 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin. Allow to cool in tray for ten minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

  • As a rough guide, 1½ kilos (3 lb) pumpkin when peeled, de-seeded and chopped yields approximately 1¼ kilos (2½ lb) pumpkin pieces which will give you approximately 3½–4 cups (950g/2 lb) of mashed/puréed pumpkin, depending on the variety.
  • Pumpkin purée can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • 
I use a large bamboo steamer over a wok to steam my pumpkin. If you don’t have one, you may need to steam your pumpkin in two batches.

Tuna casserole with rice base

[Recipe 2] Sneaky tuna casserole with seven hidden veggies

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 x 425g (14 oz) can tuna in olive oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped into 5mm (¼-inch) pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped into 5mm (¼-inch) pieces, steamed
½ cup corn kernels, steamed
½ cup broccoli florets, steamed
½ cup cauliflower florets, steamed
½ cup peas, steamed
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1¼ cups (310ml) milk
♦ 1½ cups (400g/14 oz) reserved puréed pumpkin, cooled
3 cups cooked medium-grain white or basmati rice (you’ll need 1¼ cups dry rice)
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 cup (100g) grated extra tasty cheese
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil (or melted butter) for drizzling

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Drain oil from tuna and reserve.
Lightly oil a large casserole dish with some of the reserved tuna oil, and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved tuna oil in a small frying pan. Cook the zucchini and onion for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and transparent. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the steamed vegetables and drained tuna.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute until smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and stir for about 3–4 minutes until thickened.
Stir through the reserved puréed pumpkin.
Transfer pumpkin sauce to the vegetable/tuna mixture and stir until well-combined.
Place rice in a large bowl and add curry powder. Mix thoroughly and place into the prepared casserole dish. Pour over tuna and vegetable mixture.
Mix cheese and breadcrumbs together and scatter on top. Drizzle with oil or melted butter.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. You can pop it under the griller for a few minutes if you like an extra-toasty top.

  • For a change, replace the cooked rice with 3 cups leftover cooked macaroni with a little olive oil stirred through.
  • The tuna casserole can be completely prepared up to a day ahead, and baked when required. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top just prior to baking. Leftovers are fab to take to work.

For goodness cake

Use one batch of batter to make a cake and 12 muffins!
[Recipe 1] BANANA HONEY CAKE
 
and 
[Recipe 2] ABC MUFFINS
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You’ll need four very ripe, large bananas for these two recipes so you may need to attach a ‘don’t eat me’ sticky note on them while they ripen. Using the same batter as the base for two different batches of baked treats is excellent in so many ways. It’s a cure for lunchbox fatigue, conserves energy (both your own and your oven’s) and it saves time and money.
The first recipe is for a delicious Banana honey cake. Reserve some of the batter (see the orange diamonds for quantities) and you can bake a batch of ABC muffins at the same time. A’ is for apple, ‘B’ is for banana and ‘C’ is for chocolate, although the ‘C’ ingredient can be easily varied (see tips).
These two recipes are a little different to my usual 1=2 meals as they can be cooked together. If you can’t fit the cake and muffins side by side in your oven, place the muffins on the middle shelf, and the cake below. When you remove the muffins after 25 minutes, move the banana cake up a shelf and continue baking.
Note: If your oven is not a good sharer, you can bake the cake first while you prepare the muffins.

Banana buttermilk cake

[Recipe 1] Banana honey cake

Ingredients (mixture makes 1 cake and 12 muffins):
250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups (450g) caster (superfine) sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup (45g) honey
4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1¾ cups (260g) self-raising (self-rising) flour, sifted
1¾ cups (260g) wholemeal plain (wholewheat all-purpose) flour, sifted, bran returned to bowl
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add vanilla, cinnamon and honey and beat well.
Fold in banana until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together flours and bicarbonate of soda. Fold this into the cake batter, a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.
Reserve half the honey banana cake batter, about 4 cups (approx. 950g), for the ABC muffins (see recipe 2 below).
Spoon remaining mixture into a lined 20cm (8-inch) square cake tin.
Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. The ABC muffins (see below) can be cooked at the same time.
Cut cake into thick slices and serve.

  • I like to mash my bananas with a stick blender so they’re beautifully smooth. This works well with the texture of the cake, which is as soft as a pillow thanks to the use of buttermilk.
  • The cake and muffins will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Both can also be frozen, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Cut up the cake before freezing.

ABC muffins

[Recipe 2] ABC muffins

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 green apple, peeled and grated
2 heaped tablespoons oat bran
½ cup (85g) dark chocolate bits (or any of the other options suggested below this recipe)

♦ 
4 cups (approx. 950g) reserved banana honey cake batter (see recipe 1)

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Put apple, oat bran and chocolate bits into a large bowl.
Fold in reserved banana honey cake batter.
Divide mixture among 12 lined (or greased) muffin pans.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin.
Muffins can be cooked at the same time as the banana honey cake (see Recipe 1) – simply remove the muffins from the oven after 25 minutes (as quickly as possible so the oven doesn’t lose too much heat); and continue cooking the banana cake for a further 15–20 minutes. See extra cooking instructions in my post introduction.

  • You can play around with the ABC muffin recipe. ‘A’ is for apple, ‘B’ is for banana and ‘C’ is for chocolate, but there are many other ‘C’ ingredients that can be used for variety. Swap the chocolate for:
    ½ cup (65g) dessicated coconut OR
    1 medium grated carrot plus 1 extra tablespoon oat bran OR
    ½ cup (100g) currants OR
    ½ cup (100g) chopped cashews