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Winter Warmer Recipes

Winter Warmer Recipes

Delicious, simple and budget-friendly recipes the whole family will love!

You may know her as The Wholehearted Cook or a familiar face from the kitchens of MasterChef Australia, but for the winter weeks ahead Dani has teamed up with Pacific Werribee to become our resident foodie queen! 

Sharing her whole food recipes that not only warm the soul but keep healthy, fresh and whole food ingredients at its core – a curated series of easy-to-follow and budget-friendly recipes are coming straight to your kitchen.

Every Monday, a new step-by-step video will be released, so mark your calendar and get your best apron ready for some MasterChef-quality cooking in your own kitchen this winter!

Japanese Pancake (Okonomayaki)

Recipe by Dani Venn
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4


 2 cups thinly sliced white cabbage
½ carrot, thinly sliced or grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 cup plain flour
¾ cup water
2 eggs
1 sachet instant dashi stock powder
2 teaspoons sunflower or neutral flavoured oil
½ cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
Kewpie mayonnaise, to serve
Extra chopped spring onions, to serve



Place cabbage, carrot, spring onion and grated ginger into a bowl, add a teaspoon of salt and mix well with your hands to season the vegetables.

Place flour and water in a separate mixing bowl and stir gently to combine, crack in your eggs and whisk to combine until its smooth, stir in instant dashi powder (or stock powder). Add batter into the vegetables and stir well with a large mixing spoon.

Place frypan over low – medium heat, add a teaspoon of sunflower oil, allow to heat then add a cup or so of pancake batter to the pan to form a circle. Cook for about five minutes before flipping the pancake, then flip pancake, put a saucepan lid over the pancake for about three minutes to steam a little. Remove lid and ensure both sides are nice and golden before serving.

To serve, place tomato, Worcestershire and light soy sauce in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place in squeezy bottle. Drizzle over a few teaspoons on the cooked pancake followed by a good squeeze of kewpie mayonnaise. Sprinkle with spring onions to serve.

Note: I prefer to use an MSG free dashi stock, like the Spiral Foods dashi that is available in Asian grocers and some green grocers. Alternatively you could use some chicken or vegetable stock powder.

Tip: You can adapt the ingredients in the pancake to what you might have available in your fridge at home, mushrooms, bacon, leftover cooked chicken works well too.


Pumpkin Bacon Mac N Cheese

Recipe by Dani Venn
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2


500g macaroni or elbow pasta
80g unsalted butter
1/4 cup plain flour
1 litre of full cream milk
1 – 2 cups pumpkin puree (see tips)
½ teaspoon ground smoked paprika
250g tasty or cheddar cheese, grated
Salt flakes, to season
Cracked black pepper, to season
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 long rashes of bacon, rind removed, diced
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs



Preheat fan-forced oven to 150 degrees on grill setting.

Place large pot of salted boiling water over high heat, when boiling add pasta and cook for about 2 minutes less than packet instructions suggests as pasta will cook further when placed in the oven.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add butter and allow butter to melt and bubble a little before adding flour, whisk together and cook flour for about two minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add milk a little at a time and whisk together until smooth. Cook for a further minutes until thickened. Season with salt, cracked black pepper and stir through pumpkin puree and cheese until smooth, reserve a little of the cheese to sprinkle over the top before baking.

Pour pasta into cheese sauce and stir through, place into oven proof baking dish.

To make your crunchy topping, place medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, when hot add bacon and cook for a minute or so then add panko breadcrumbs and cook through for a few minutes until coated in oil and slightly golden.

Sprinkle bacon topping on top of pasta, add a little more grated cheese and place in the oven to bake for about  15 minutes until topping is golden and crunchy. Remove from oven and serve warm.


To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten free pasta and add cornflour instead but add about ½ cup of water to corn flour before adding to pan and don’t cook for as long before adding the milk.

To make pumpkin puree, remove skin from pumpkin and dice into chunks. Steam pumpkin until softened then blitz in a blender until smooth or press through a sieve.

You can add in extra veg like steamed cauliflower, blanched frozen peas, steamed carrot or sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Dahl

Recipe by Dani Venn
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons full flavoured coconut oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Indian style curry powder
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ cups red lentils
400ml can coconut cream or milk
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves (optional)
Salt flakes, to season
½ bunch of coriander, to serve


Place large saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil, when melted and hot add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes then add curry powder, cumin seed and chilli flakes if using. Stir well to ensure even cooking and cook for a further few minutes.

Add red lentils to the saucepan, stir well to coat the spices, add about 1 litre of water and coconut cream. Bring dahl mix up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add diced sweet potato and allow to cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes or until cooked through and the lentils are nice and creamy or the dahl is starting to catch at the base of the pan. Remove from heat.

To finish the dahl, add chickpeas and stir through spinach leaves and season with salt. Serve warm with flatbread or steamed rice and fresh coriander.


Salted Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Brownies

Recipe by Dani Venn
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Serves: 12

130g natural peanut butter
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g unsalted butter, cubed
200g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
150g plain flour 
100g dark chocolate buttons
1tsp salt flakes

For this recipe you will need a 20 x 20 cake pan. Line the cake pan with baking paper and pour in the peanut butter, spreading it evenly across the base of the pan. Place baking pan in the freezer and freeze butter for at least 4 – 8 hours, or until completely frozen.

Preheat fan-forced oven to 150 degrees.

Create a double boiler by placing a saucepan filled with a few cups of water over low – medium heat and place a stainless steel or glass bowl on top of the saucepan.

Add chocolate and butter into the bowl of the double boiler. Gently stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate melt and are glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla essence.

Whisk in eggs one at a time into the brownie mixture so that the mix comes together and is smooth. Sieve the plain flour into the mixture, gently fold in the mixture and stir in the dark chocolate buttons. Do not overwork the mixture.

Place half the amount of brownie mix into the same sized cake pan as the frozen peanut butter, smooth out the batter so its evenly spread. Top with a layer of frozen peanut butter and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Pour in the remaining brownie mixture and evenly spread.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes so that the sides are cooked through and almost cake like but the centre is still a little soft and fudgy. Remove from oven and allow brownie to cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes then remove from cake pan and allow to cool completely on a wire cake rake.

Slice to serve.