December Recipes: Rustic Rocky Road

by Sarah Belle

I am a very fussy Rocky Road eater. That’s because, for me, RR is all about ratios. I don’t like RR’s that have a very thick chocolate base and miniscule pieces of marshmallow and jelly lolly on top. Noooo. I love light, fluffy, mountainous Rocky Road with the perfect combination of marshmallow, jelly and chocolate in each delicious bite. So, here’s my own recipe:Sarah's Rocky Road.


  • 2 bags of Pascall’s marshmallows – the coloured ones are very pretty.
  • 2 bags of jelly lollies – ripe raspberries are my faves, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy.
  • 2 Blocks of chocolate – you can use milk, white or dark. It needn’t be high quality, but the home brand or cooking chocolate won’t taste as good.


Chop one bag of marshmallows in half. (This is for variety in mallow-bite size!)

Empty marshmallows and jelly lollies in a large bowl. Mix them up so they are evenly distributed.

Break up and warm chocolate (either in double boiler saucepan or in microwave. Just ensure that all utensils you use with melted chocolate are completely dry- water will cause the chocolate to seize up into one big, ugly, useless ball of gunk).

When the chocolate is three quarters melted, take it off the heat/microwave and stir with a silicone spatula until it is completely melted – this prevents chocolate seizing due to being over heated.

Pour chocolate onto lollies/mallows and mix until there is a light chocolate covering on everything. Tip this mixture into a large, lined roasting pan with high sides. Gently spread the mixture around until it is relatively even- don’t compress it or you’ll lose the fluffiness. It is meant to look a bit rustic.

Pop in the fridge for 3-4 hours and try not to pick at it until the chocolate has solidified. It’s tempting to eat a little bit, and I often fail to leave it alone until it’s set.

Chop into generous slaps and devour with gusto!

(This could, potentially, last for 7 days in the fridge- but ours never makes it past 3.)


Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

December Recipes: Garlic Green Beans

by Robyn Rychards

There’s something about the end of the year that makes me want green beans as a side dish, and here in the US, Green Bean Casserole seems to be the go-to dish when the weather gets cold. Which I totally understand because it’s delish! However, I came across a recipe for green beans that’s not only just as yummy, it’s super easy and the best part? My picky kids, who don’t all like the Green Bean Casserole, devour this green bean recipe. Give it a try. I’m curious to see if everyone else likes it as much as we do. But really, how can you go wrong with garlic and butter?


Garlic Green Beans


1 Tablespoon Butter

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

5 Cloves Garlic minced

2 14.5 oz cans Green Beans

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


Melt butter in a large skillet, then stir in olive oil and garlic. Saute over low heat until the garlic is slightly browned. Add the green beans and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until beans are tender, about 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Voila! Delicious green beans!


She may not need a knight in shining armour to save her, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look a gift knight in the visor…

December Recipes – Panettone

by Sandra Antonelli

Christmas: When It’s Perfectly Acceptable to Have Cake For Breakfast.

As an advocate for eating a good breakfast there is nothing that gives me more joy than Christmas because Christmas means cake for breakfast!

If you know me you’ll know I’m not usually a cake-eater. I’m more of a cookie inhaler, but this cake is different. This cake is Italian and who does love Italian food? This cake is light, a wee bit spongy and full of raisins and zest. I’m talking orange and lemon zest. I’m talking Panettone.


You’ve probably seen panettone before. It comes in a box. Sometimes it comes in a pretty decorative tin that you pay up to $50 for, but trust me, the basic panettone in a box is always, and I mean always better. Yes, a cake in a box—and it’s already made. No mixing! No baking! No cracking of eggs required! That is, no cracking of eggs until it comes to eating this cake for breakfast, because this festive cake is actually a kind of bread, and bread as you know IS the staff of life.


Panettone is a Christmas staple at my house. There are, at present, four boxes of beautiful Italian panettone sitting on my dining room table, and they are all destined to be…French Toast.

Honest. This cake, this bread, this Italian Christmas delight makes the most amazeballs French Toast you will ever have. The best thing is, there are only three steps.


Step 1: Slice panettone as you would bread for a sandwich

Step 2: Dip in beaten egg

Step 3: Fry until golden, in a pan with a bit of melted butter, turning once.

Plate up and serve as you would the usual day old bread French Toast, with a ton of butter (well I slather on a ton of butter because butter) and maple syrup.

Then prepare to have your tastebuds blown.

Have a Holly Jolly One, Kids!



A new, quick-witted, quip-heavy romance for grown-ups from Sandra Antonelli about facing your fears — because love is the greatest risk of all.

December Recipes – Chicken Vol-au-Vents

by Jacquie Underdown

This is an incredibly decadent recipe of rich, creamy, cheesy goodness, so it is best to eat on special occasions only. My mother-in-law hauled this recipe through from the days of fat and flavour as a reminder of how good food can be, and makes it every Christmas.

Chicken vol-au-vents can be made in advance and re-heated on Christmas day, so you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. For someone like me, who also has their birthday on Christmas Day, this recipe is perfect.


  • 2 large chicken breasts, whole
  • 20 palm-sized vol-au-vent cases
  • 1L water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 3 stalks of spring onions, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. cornflour
  • 500 g of grated tasty cheddar cheese
  • 500 mL of thickened cream (do not use low fat, it will split. Trust me, I’ve tried repetitively.)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. seeded mustard


Add chicken in a medium sized pot and fill with water until the chicken breasts are covered. Throw in chicken stock cubes, place pot onto heat on a stovetop and simmer until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Take the chicken out of the pot and place on a chopping board. Tip out half the cooking liquid into a mug and reserve for later.

Place the remainder of liquid still in the pot back on to a low heat. Add spring onions and mushrooms to the liquid, followed by the mustards. Stir until combined.

Combine half a cup of cream with the cornflour and stir. Add this mixture and the remainder of the cream into the pot and stir until thickened.

Add the cheese and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, chop the chicken into 2 – 3 centimetre sized cubes and add to the creamy, cheesy mixture. Stir to combine.

Check the mixture for taste and consistency here. If the mixture needs more mustard, add it. If it needs more liquid, add some of the reserved stock liquid. If it needs more cornflour, add some more. If it needs seasoning, add pepper and salt.

Lay vol-au-vent cases on to baking trays. Spoon in chicken mixture until filled to the top. Place into the oven for 20 minutes at 160 C (or if reheating from cold, until heated all the way through).



A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…


December Recipes – Tiramisu Deluxe

by Eva Scott

While my family hail from Italy we are not in the least traditional. One thing we do stick to every year is Tiramisu. This is made for special occasions only. We make it with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) but you can make it with your favourite tipple.

Beware! It’s addictive.


I like to make this dish in a foil tray (roughly 24cm square-ish). Foil bbq trays are exactly the right depth and there’s no washing up later! Alternatively any dish the same size will do fine.


  • 250ml espresso coffee. If you don’t have the real deal you can dissolve 15g of espresso powder into 250ml of boiling water and it will do the trick.
  • 250ml of Frangelico. I always find the savoiardi biscuits soak up the liqueur quickly so keep the bottle on hand for top ups.
  • 30 savoiardi biscuits. There are two sizes so you may need less if you purchase the large biscuits.

For the filling:

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 75g castor sugar
  • 60ml Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 100g chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 3 teaspoons of good quality cocoa powder.


  1. Combine the cooled coffee and 250ml of Frangelico in a jug
  2. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Place the yokes in a separate bowl and beat with the castor sugar and 60ml of Frangelico.
  3. Add the mascarpone to the yolk mix, combine well.
  4. Carefully fold the frothy egg whites into the mascarpone mix and combine well.
  5. Pour half the coffee and Frangelico mix into a wide shallow bowl (or similar dish). Dip the biscuits into the mix ensuring both sides are coated. Do this quickly to ensure the biscuits are damp but not soaking. They do soak up liquid very quickly so don’t leave them sitting in the bowl or you’ll run out of coffee/Frangelico very quickly. Prepare enough biscuits to form one layer and place them in the dish.
  6. Place half the mascarpone mix on top of the soaked biscuits, spreading it out for even coverage.
  7. Repeat step 5 using the remaining coffee/Frangelico liquid and leftover biscuits.
  8. Repeat step 6.
  9. Cover the dish with cling film and refrigerate overnight – or for at least 6 hours.
  10. Before serving the tiramisu combine the chopped hazelnuts and cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture over the top layer of mascarpone.

**Please note this dish contains raw eggs so may not be suitable for people with compromised or weak immune systems such as small children, the elderly or pregnant women.

23722In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

December Recipes – Dutch Christmas Ring

by Louise Forster

I can’t remember a Christmas without the traditional Dutch Christmas Ring, (Kerstkrans).

Although most Dutch housewives don’t bake;at least during the time I spent there none of them did. Besides, their bakeries/patisserie displays had the most delicious cakes.unnamed (1)

From memory my aunt’s kitchens were quite small, but size didn’t matter when it came to preparing family dinners. Always fresh vegetables with a small portion of meat.

I can also remember my aunts, good-naturedly, discussing the day’s bread or the selection of cakes. Or isn’t his new apprentice awesome (geweldig) and handsome (en knap). My aunts were loyal towards their local baker, and he in turn would go out of his way to accommodate their wishes. (No franchise bakeries, all owner run. I doubt that has changed).

My cousin has diabetes, and with every celebration my aunt’s baker would make her a special sugarless cake, just as fancy and delicious as everyone else’s. This also included a small Christmas ring.

For the rest of the family my aunt’s would order their Christmas rings by the pound.



The only tricky part in this recipe is easing the finished pastry and almond mix  into a circle.

Instead of apricot jam and glacé cherries, I used lemon icing and fresh cherries .

Merry Christmas everyone, and a safe, Happy New Year.

Celebration Christmas Wreath

Marzipan (almond paste) filling:

  • 125g   ground almonds
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Finely grated rind of a lemon
  • Juice of a lemon (If a stronger flavour is preferred, then use more lemon rind).

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste. Cover and leave to stand for an hour.  (You can also make it the day before and leave it in the fridge. Take it out half an hour before you are ready to roll it out to make a long sausage)

Puff pastry: you can make your own or use readymade puff pastry.

To decorate:

  • Apricot jam
  • And if you wish : Glazed cherries (mixed colours)  and strips of orange peel

Roll out the pastry thinly, about ½ cm thick, into an oblong shape of about 35-40 cm long and 12-15 cm wide.  Roll the almond mixture (marzipan) into a long sausage shape and place it on the pastry. Wrap the pastry around the mixture and shape it into a circle. Slightly wet the sides and ends and push one end into the other to stick it together.  Place the wreath on a baking tray. Brush with beaten egg. To finish off the decoration, cut out some holly shapes, stars or bells and lay them on the top of the wreath. Place in a hot oven, about 220C, 425F, Mark 7 for about 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool.

When completely cold, warm 4-5 tbsps of apricot jam in a pan until it’s runny.  Spread the jam over the baked wreath.  For a final decoration, you can use glazed cherries and orange peel strips as you wish.

December Recipes – Muffins For Health

by Rhyll Biest

Rhyll’s Festive Sphincter-blast Muffins

Stay regular this Christmas


  • 1 1/2 cups oat
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chilled applesauce
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line or grease 12 muffin cups. Blend together brown sugar, oat bran, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add eggs, chilled applesauce, and vegetable oil. Mix until well-blended. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Let stand 10 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Select a suitably festive topping. I like using icing, pretzels, Jaffas and lollies to make a reindeer face. ReindeerCupcake-390x284

Eat. Stay close to the bathroom while basking in the knowledge that you have just ensured excellent bowel health for the next thousand years.



A guarded recluse, some dirty pictures and a spark of curiosity that leads to a dangerous attraction. (Available in print and digital!)

December Recipes – Wine

by Lily Malone

Lily’s bringing the Christmas spirits (and wine)

When it comes to Christmas, the first thing I say is: “I’ll bring the wine!” The family is happy with that (they’ve had enough of my turkey disasters.) It helps that my extended family Christmas feasts in recent years have been in both the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and in Margaret River (WA), three of the great wine regions of our wide brown land. I have a lot of great wine to choose from!

So if you were to invite me for Christmas, this is what I would bring:

Seppelts Sparkling Shiraz: Yes! Red bubbles! Sparkling Shiraz on Christmas morning is such a wonderful treat. Red sparkling wine is big in South Australia. I discovered it there and it’s a Christmas Day tradition I’ve brought home to Margaret River.

The Seppelts is a favourite but I also like Shingleback ‘Black Bubbles’ and if my royalty cheque had just come in (or I’d won Lotto) I’d bring a bottle of Rockford Sparkling Black Shiraz.

So with the red bubbles merrily popping in our system, it’s on to the lovely crisp whites with lunch. Turkey, ham and pork all cry out for white wine, plus the Aussie Christmas is usually so hot that red wine at lunch would put everyone to sleep. What’s that? You’re asleep already? Wake up, Nanna, I’m talking about wine!

This year I’ll be bringing Fermoy Estate wines to the Christmas table. Fermoy is an up and coming winery in Margaret River (and my hubby works there). I love their Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc (SSB for those in the know), and their Chardonnay is yummy too. All their whites are good.

Every year I also pull out another Rockford classic. It is my favourite rose wine and is lovely with ham and pork. It’s called Rockford Alicante Bouschet. Pronounced Ali can’t booshay. (Try saying that after a few glasses. It’s impossible to say booshay without dancing).

After dessert and a little bit of ‘feet up and relaxing while everyone else does the dishes (because I’ve worked so hard bring and pour the wine)’ a nice sparkling white might be called for. Yarra Burn Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier could be just the ticket to finish Christmas with a bang, not a ‘Lordy I’m so full,’ whimper.



A new Australian rural romance about a millionaire wine tycoon, the woman he betrayed and the second chance neither was looking for

December Recipes – Snowballs

by Juliet Madison

Lemon Bliss Snowballs: #glutenfree! #dairyfree! #paleo!

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 & 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds, crushed up a little

Wet ingredients:

  • Juice and rind of one lemon
  • A couple drops of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Mix dry ingredients together with a fork or whisk

Mix wet ingredients together

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients using a fork, then roll into small balls, dip in desiccated coconut to cover, then place on a baking tray in the fridge until firm (about 30 minutes).


*Store in the fridge.

*Makes about 25, I think, but can never be sure because I’ve always eaten a few before I’ve remembered to count them.


From Juliet Madison, the Queen of Romantic Comedy, comes a collection of three funny, fabulous stories with a touch of magic.

December Recipes – Chili Prawn Masala

by Alison Stuart

My family’s favourite ‘get together’ food are curry lunches with everyone contributing their favourite dish to the table.  I lived the early part of my life in Kenya where there was a large Indian population and one of my earliest memories is the smell of spices in the Indian ‘bazaar’.  In more recent years I lived for 3 years in Singapore where I expanded my repertoire of curry recipes through the teaching of a genial Indian lady, Kirti. This is one of Kirti’s recipes and now a firm family favourite.

While it is not exactly ‘seasonal’, I think it would do very nicely on a Christmas table. Apart from the essential ingredient being prawns, its tomato base gives it a gorgeous colour.


(for 3-4 people – I always make double quantities)


  • 500g unshelled green prawns
  • 2 large onions (cut lengthwise)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (cut into wedges)
  • 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • lime or lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 tblsps coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 3 tblsps vegetable oil


  1. Deshell and clean prawns, leaving tails intact (I buy the frozen packets of green prawns and defrost them). Wash and pat dry. Marinate with salt and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder.
  2. In a heavy based pan, fry the onions in oil until they change colour. Add the garlic and ginger paste,  crushed garlic and the chilli powder.
  3. Add in the salt, turmeric powder, tomatoes and tomato paste and fry well. You may cover the pan and cook on a low flame for 5 mins so that the tomatoes will get soft.
  4. When the masala is aromatic and richly coloured, add in the prawns. Keep on stirring until the prawns are well coated with the onion and tomato mixture.
  5. If mixture is too dry, add water. Stir and then allow the dish to simmer by covering and cooking on a low heat. Cook for around 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PRAWNS.
  6. Lastly stir in the garam masala powder and turn off flame. Sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with rice or Indian bread.


The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry and the women that help them heal.