December 31, 2008

Hummingbird Cake

Now that Christmas is over, it's on with the show! I feel like I can start to enjoy things again because I don't have a million and one plans or things to do! It's new year's eve and I am hoping for a less crazy year next year. Tonight I think we will be dropping in at hubby's work to watch the fireworks from his harbour-view office window (nice view that he gets to look at every day, except not usually with fireworks!).

I had a nice birthday; a bit of shopping and out to dinner, and a whole lot of birthday messages from friends and family. Fun times :). We also got a new fridge which was delivered on my birthday (but was not my birthday present) and I am still excited about it. Not sure if it's weird to be excited about having a new fridge, but I am!

I'd also like to mention that Sumara makes EXCELLENT lemon butter! I don't know what recipe you used Sumara, but it is superb! Thanks for the jar you gave us, that wonderful husband of mine also loves it! I feel that home made gifts are very special because of the thought, time and effort put into them. Well done Sumara, it was a great idea and great success!

And because it's been a while since I last posted something I baked, I am going to post the recipe for the cake I made recently. It had been a while since I made any baked tasties for my husband's office, so I decided to try my hand at a Hummingbird cake. This turned out really well according to the co-workers (hubby brought the left-overs home because it was the last day of work before the office would be closed, no moldy cake for them to return to next year! So I got to try a bit, and I thought it was very good). I think I will have to make it again some time. This recipe comes from taste.com.au


Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed banana (you will need 2 large, ripe bananas)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil or canola oil
  • 450g can crushed pineapple in natural juice, well drained
  • Cream cheese icing

  • 60g butter, chopped (I used about 2 tablespoons)
  • 125g light spreadable cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • toasted shredded coconut or chopped pecan nuts (I didn't do this, it was fine without).

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 6cm deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan.
  2. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add sugar, coconut and pecans. Stir to combine.
  3. Combine eggs, banana and oil in a large jug. Add egg mixture and pineapple to flour mixture. Using a large metal spoon, gently stir to combine. 4 Spoon batter into pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Make cream cheese icing Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth.
  5. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Slice and serve.

On that note, I'll conclude. Happy new year everyone! Hope your 2009 is full of all the good things in life :).

December 23, 2008

Christmas time

Warning, this may be a rambling post....

I think my Christmas Spirit ran away without me this year.

Christmas time is not all that enjoyable to me. I know it should be, but I am always too stressed with trying to figure out how we can possibly have time to see all the family we should, because seeing all the family is what keeps them happy. Why is it that all the families want to have Christmas lunch? Why do none of them ever want to have Christmas dinner instead? Makes it very difficult for us; we can't be in more than one place at a time. The other thing is how long is an "acceptable" amount of time to stay at a family thing (acceptable in that we have spent enough time there for them to feel like we care) if we have to run off to some other family event on the same day? Don't get me wrong, I do love my family, and spending time with them, but I just don't like it when I have to try and see all of them in the same couple of days...

I also really dislike "secret santas", you know, when you get given a name and you have to buy for that person. It's really frustrating for me because I'm not that good at buying presents for people I know well, let alone people I don't know very well. You want to get them something that they will like, but I find that almost impossible if you don't know the person well. I suppose the best thing to do is take a guess and just get them that. I guess that they must do the same, because it shows that they don't know you very well by what they get you. That's why I think that while it's a nice gesture, "secret santas" are a waste of time because generally, everyone gets something they don't want/need. I don't like just buying something for the sake of it.

I don't like Christmas shopping, and I really don't like the crowds of Christmas shoppers. Ok, so I don't love shopping in general, but Christmas time makes it worse than normal.

By the time Christmas is over, I am all partied-out and socialised-out, and just need to veg for a week to get over it... and invariably, I don't feel like doing anything at all on my birthday which is a few days after Christmas. All too soon it is new years....

I wonder if anyone else feels this way around Christmas?

I feel like such a scrooge. Bah, humbug.......

December 15, 2008

Peanut Butter Squares

We went to two weddings last weekend. There was a luncheon/afternoon tea thing that was on after one of the weddings, and I helped out by making a couple of slices. I thought it was the perfect time to try something new, so I decided to make the Peanut Butter Squares from Nigella's book How To Be A Domestic Goddess. (The other slice I made was the tried and true Coconut Ice). The Peanut Butter Squares were very yummy. They have been likened to the American candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and I can see why, however this recipe is more delicious in my opinion. Although you really want to keep eating it, it is very rich so it's recommended to cut it into small pieces rather than large.

Ingredients:

for the base:
50g dark muscovado sugar (I used regular brown sugar, and it worked perfectly)
200g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g smooth peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter which I think was a better choice)

for the topping:
200g milk chocolate (I used 300g milk chocolate and skipped the dark, as I had none on hand)
100g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth.
  2. Some of the dark muscovado sugar stays in rubbly, though very small, lumps, which is not a problem in this recipe so don’t worry about it.
  3. Press the sandy mixture into the lined brownie tin and make the surface as even as possible.
  4. To make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together (in a microwave for ease, for a minute or two on medium, stir every minute until melted otherwise it's likely to burn!) and spread on the base. Put the tin in the fridge to set. When the chocolate has hardened, cut into small squares.

November 19, 2008

I'm back....

I've been so busy the last month or so, and have also been sick, so haven't had much time or inclination to blog (or cook for that matter). I did however make something for an afternoon tea on the weekend which I thought was noteworthy and worth making again. It is the Apple and Blueberry Shortcake from bill's food by Bill Granger. There are lots of good recipes in this book that I really want to try, just have to find the time to try them!

I didn't get any photos of the shortcake unfortunately, but here is the recipe:

Apple & Blueberry Shortcake

Ingredients
  • 4 large Granny Smith Apples
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 185g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 155g (1 cup) blueberries
Method
  1. Peel the apples, remove the cores & cut each apple into about 16 slices.
  2. Put the apples, lemon zest, sugar & 2 tablespoons of water into a medium saucepan, then cover & stew over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy. Allow to cool.
  3. Cream the butter & caster sugar together in a bowl until fluffy & smooth.
  4. Add the egg and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface & knead until smooth
  6. Divide into two and place in the fridge for 30 minutes
  7. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  8. Roll each half of cake dough into a round approximately 22cm across.
  9. Press one round into a 24cm non-stick springform cake tin.
  10. Spread the apples over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge. Sprinkle with the blueberries.
  11. Place the other round of dough on top & press the edges together.
  12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, then allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing.

October 25, 2008

Chicken, Spinach, Bacon and Tomato Pie

This was another thrown together meal. I had some baby spinach and cherry tomatoes that were on the way to being unusable, so I thought I would throw them in a pie with a few other ingredients, and this is what I ended up with.

Posted by Picasa

Ingredients:

300g Chicken breast, cut into small pieces
100g Bacon
6 Silverbeet leaves (or equivalent amount of another type of spinach), roughly chopped
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
1/2 small punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 can Creamed Corn
3 eggs, lightly beaten
150ml milk
3/4 cup grated cheese
2 sheets puff pastry, (or enough to cover the base and sides of the dish)

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 Degrees Celcius.
  2. Thaw puff pastry, and arrange along the base and sides of the dish.
  3. Bake in the oven until slightly puffed (about 10 min), then remove from oven.
  4. Cook chicken, bacon, leek and celery in a fry pan over medium-high heat until chicken is browned.
  5. Add silverbeet leaves and stir in, cook until wilted. Remove from heat
  6. Add cherry tomatoes, and creamed corn and stir through.
  7. Mix eggs and milk in a jug.
  8. Spoon chicken/bacon mixture over puff pastry in dish.
  9. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.
  10. Pour egg/milk mixture over the top of the pie, pressing down the mixture so that all ingredients are moistened with the egg/milk mixture.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 45min or until the centre is set.

October 19, 2008

Quiche!

This was the first ever quiche recipe I made and it has become a favourite. I can make it without the recipe easily now. What I like about it, is that you can tweak the ingredients to make it taste different. eg. I have made it with cut up sausages a few times.



Ingredients:

3 eggs
150ml milk
150ml cream
250g bacon, chopped
½ brown onion, finely diced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
6 spinach (silverbeet) leaves, washed and roughly chopped
½ cup grated cheese
1 to 2 sheets puff pastry (or enough to make a crust covering the entire dish)

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 Degrees Celcius.
  2. Remove puff pastry from freezer and allow to thaw.
  3. Meanwhile, finely dice onion, chop bacon and slice mushrooms.
  4. Cook in a frypan until onion is soft.
  5. Rinse spinach and chop roughly. Add to pan and stir often.
  6. Once spinach is wilted, remove pan from heat and allow to cool.
  7. Arrange puff pastry in pie dish and pre-cook in oven until slightly puffed (about 10 min).
  8. Grate cheese.
  9. Beat eggs together in a small jug, add milk and cream, and stir to combine.
  10. Remove pie dish from oven and spread bacon mixture evenly over base.
  11. Top evenly with cheese.
  12. Pour egg mixture all over bacon mixture. Press down any bits that are not wet with egg mixture. They don't have to be covered, but they should at least be wet.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 45 min or until the cheese on top is golden, and the middle of the quiche is set.

(Sometimes if I am running out of time to serve dinner, I will bake it for as long as I can, and then stick it in the microwave for 4 min or so to finish it off. The pastry doesn't come out as flaky, but at least the middle of the quiche is set.)

October 12, 2008

Potato and Bacon Pastry Parcels

I had this idea for a pastry parcel that incorporated potato and bacon, and this recipe is the result. We ate it with a side of salad for dinner.


Posted by Picasa

Ingredients
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
150g bacon, diced
1 leek, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated cheese
3 tsp sour cream
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Remove puff pastry sheets from freezer and thaw.
  3. Peel and dice potatoes into small pieces.
  4. Dice bacon.
  5. Thinly slice leek.
  6. Grate cheese.
  7. Cook potato, leek and bacon in a fry pan on high to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potato is cooked through (I think this took about 10 min). Remove from heat and allow to cool a little
  8. Transfer to a bowl, and add cheese and sour cream. Mix to combine.
  9. Cut puff pastry sheets into quarters (squares).
  10. Add enough potato mixture filling to make a nice pastry parcel.
  11. Seal edges of pastry parcels with either your fingers or a fork to press down along the edges.
  12. Bake in the oven for about 25 min or until pastry is puffed and golden.
  13. Serve hot, perhaps with a yummy salad or vegies on the side.

October 6, 2008

Lack of posting

Sorry for the lack of posting of late, I haven't been baking as much because we have been so busy; I've started a new job, we're house-hunting (and I'm hoping to have found something we like and have moved by the end of the year), we just got a new camera, and we've been doing a lot of visiting friends etc.

Today is a public holiday here, and we have just got home after been out all day. I'm hoping this week might be a little less busy....

In spite of all the busy-ness, I have been cooking new things lately (dinners, not baked goods). I will have to organise myself and post some of the recipes, as they seem to be worth sharing.

I will be back soon with more recipes and photos!

September 24, 2008

Strawberry Bread

This recipe comes from a recipe site: Recipezaar . There are so many recipes on this site, and it comes in handy if you're looking for a specific recipe or some inspiration.

It is delicious, I wish I could eat it every day! I made a couple of slight changes, but if you want to see the original recipe, click on the link above. Now, on with the recipe!


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup plain wholemeal flour, 1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a standard glass (8x5") loaf pan.
  2. Rinse, hull and cut the strawberries into quarters (or smaller pieces if you're using huge strawberries); place in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, then add the vanilla and melted butter. Make sure the melted butter isn't too hot-just barely melted.
  5. Stir in the strawberries. Combine the two mixtures, blending until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.

September 22, 2008

Honeycomb choc chip cookies

More and more cookies!! Made these for a get together and my mum said that of all the cookies I've ever made, they are her favourite. :)


Makes about 24 small to medium cookies

Ingredients:

125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self raising flour
1 handful of choc chips
1 cup chopped honeycomb pieces

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius, and line two cookie trays with baking paper
2. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy
3. Beat in egg and vanilla essence
4. Stir in flour until just combined
5. Fold in honeycomb and choc chips
6. Roll spoonfuls into balls and place on prepared trays
7. Bake for about 9 mins or until very slightly golden.
8. Remove from oven and cool on trays.

September 21, 2008

Mince and Rice Pie

I remembered that I told my good friend Sumara I was going to blog this, and just realised I haven't done so yet! So, here it is; Mince and Rice Pie.

The idea for this recipe grew as I was cooking it, I wanted to make something for dinner that I hadn't made before, and this is something I thought I could throw together without too much fuss. The best thing about this recipe (in my opinion) is that you can change the ingredients a bit to make a different flavour, so doesn't get too boring if you make it more than once in a week. Would go very well with a salad too.

I used a 28cm springform pan for this, greased with canola oil spray, and lined with baking paper, but I'm sure you could use any other similar sized pan, though you may not be able to get the pie out of the pan in nice wedge shapes. It tastes the same either way of course.


Ingedients:

500g Beef mince
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 carot finely chopped
1/2 zucchini finely chopped
2 cups beef stock
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomato
1/2 cup grated cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
100g baby spinach

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
  2. Cook mince, garlic, and onion in a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients, drain any fat from the pan.
  3. Add carrot and zucchini and mix well.
  4. Add the stock and rice, and bring to the boil. Then reduce heat to allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes (or until rice is cooked).
  5. Stir in sundried tomato.
  6. Add beaten eggs and milk, stir to combine.
  7. Lightly grease and line a 28cm springform pan with baking paper, press pie mixture into pan.
  8. Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven for about 40 min or until the top of the pie is slightly golden.

September 19, 2008

Disaster and success



Tried to make up my own version of custard slice. It did not work. :(
= Disaster

Ok, well it tasted pretty good, but it didn't stay together...

On the plus side, that low fat banana bread recipe I posted a while back turns out excellent with strawberries
= success!


September 16, 2008

Success! Cheesecake Slice!


I successfully made up a cheesecake slice recipe! This got the thumbs up at our father's day get together. Yay!

White Chocolate Cheesecake Slice with Milk Chocolate Swirls

Ingredients:

Base:
180g (approx.) Crushed biscuits (I used Arnott's "Nice" biscuits)
100g melted butter

Topping:
500g Cream cheese
250g white chocolate, melted
1 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 1/8 cup boiling water
150g milk chocolate, melted (to swirl on top)

Method:
  1. Line a 27cm x 18cm slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Mix melted butter and crushed biscuits together in a bowl, and press firmly into prepared slice tin. Refrigerate until firm.
  3. Beat cream cheese until smooth
  4. Add melted white chocolate and beat until combined
  5. Beat dissolved gelatine and 1/8 cup boiling water into cream cheese mixture.
  6. Pour cream cheese mixture over prepared base and distribute evenly.
  7. Swirl melted milk chocolate throughout cream cheese mixture. (I used a bamboo skewer to do this, but a knife would probably do)
  8. Put in fridge for a couple of hours until set.

Voila! No baking necessary this time!

September 13, 2008

Milk and White Choc Chip Cookies


Another cookie recipe made up by me. I made these as part of a present for my sister's birthday, since she loves cookies so much.

Makes about 24 small to medium cookies

Ingredients:
125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
3 handfuls of milk and white choc chips


Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius, and line two cookie trays with baking paper
  2. Cream butter and sugars together
  3. Beat in egg
  4. Stir in flour until just combined
  5. Fold in choc chips
  6. Roll spoonfuls into balls and place on prepared trays
  7. Bake for about 9 mins or until very slightly golden (depending on if you like your cookies softer or crisper, bake for a little longer if you prefer the crisper sort).
  8. Remove from oven and cool on trays.

September 4, 2008

Photos but no recipes...

I made a cake for my sister's birthday on the weekend. I think I've found something that I'm not so good at baking: cakes. I don't know if it was just the recipe, or if it was my lack of cake-baking skills, but this cake I made turned out only "so-so".... it didn't turn out fluffy and light like I thought it would, but it tasted ok (mostly because of the white chocolate icing I think). Anyway, I didn't think it was particularly worth sharing this recipe unless someone actually wants it. It's just a vanilla cake.

I thought I might share a photo anyway:

August 27, 2008

Back from overseas!

The blog has been neglected while I have been overseas. I'm back now and will get back to the baking as soon as this darn jet-lag wears off. Seriously, it took me hours to get out of bed today! I have no energy and feel like I should be asleep right now. Glad it didn't affect me this bad at the start of my trip!! So so so glad that I'm not having to go back to work until next week. I really hope it wears off soon because I want to be able to write up another job application with a clear head and submit it before the closing date.

I'll be making a cake for my sister's birthday lunch on Saturday, I'll try to make sure I take a photo of it before it is eaten!

August 8, 2008

Recipe sources and thoughts on cooking

Sorry, no recipe today. I haven't been baking as much the last week or so. Today you are getting random wonderings about recipe sources and thoughts on cooking.

I don't know about you, but I wish that I had the time to put all my recipes into a database so that I could just search for recipes rather than try to remember what recipe book/magazine/website the recipe I'm searching for is in/on. All I really want in a database is to be able to put in the names of the recipes and then a reference of where I can find them. I use some handy recipe websites, but they don't help me with all my recipe books and magazines, as I can't add recipes that aren't on the website.

Have you seen these recipe websites and blogs? There's some interesting things there, you should check them out:

www.taste.com.au
www.allrecipes.com
www.bakingbites.com
www.bakeorbreak.com

I usually go to recipe sites either when I'm looking for something specific and want to find it fast, or when I want to be inspired. I love seeing yummy recipes that I'd like to try, and when I do try them, I often add my own little twist.

I never used to be able to just "make something up", I always needed a recipe otherwise it wouldn't turn out. Now I'm finding that I can easily make up my own recipes, which is nice when you don't have all the ingredients for a specific recipe, but want to use up some ingredients. It's a lot easier now to think of things that go well together and make up my own creations. I've discovered that cooking in general can be a bit of a creative outlet, whether it's dinner or dessert, there's opportunity to try something a bit different.

These days I'm enjoying cooking a lot more than I used to. I have always enjoyed baking and making desserts/sweet things, but now I'm also enjoying making dinners (well, enjoying a bit more anyway, still not as fun as baking!).

I'll be back with more baking recipes soon!

August 5, 2008

Black Forest Cookies

This is another cookie recipe I made up. The name of the cookies is courtesy of my husband. While he was eating one of them, he proclaimed "these are the best cookies ever!". Yay!



Makes about two dozen small-ish cookies

Ingredients
125 grams butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
1 egg
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
8 Strawberry Cream Bears, chopped into small pieces (I used the Aldi ones, but strawberry Freddos or similar would work too)
Handful or two of milk chocolate chips

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cream together sugars and butter.
  3. Beat in egg.
  4. Combine sifted flour and sifted cocoa, then mix into butter and sugar mixture .
  5. Mix in chopped strawberry bears/freddos and chocolate chips.
  6. Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls, place on lined tray/s with a bit of room for spreading.
  7. Bake for approx 10 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool on tray.

August 2, 2008

Creamed Rice

Sorry, no photo this time (I forgot to take one). Made this yummy creamed rice the other day, first time making it instead of buying it (not that I buy it much). Turned out well. I think the trick is keep it on a low heat. This would be tasty with fresh berries or banana slices.

Ingredients
1 litre milk
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup uncooked medium or short grain rice

Method
  1. Combine milk, sugar and extract in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and gradually add rice to milk mixture.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for about 50 minutes or until rice is tender and milk is almost absorbed.
  4. Serve warm or cold.

July 28, 2008

Fresh Apple Cake

Told you I would cook something else other than cookies some time soon. (I think I like making cookies so much because they're so easy to make and fun to eat).

Anyway, here is an apple tea-cake type thing. It's quite tasty but it's nothing like those apple tea-cakes you get from Woolies, so if that's what you're after this recipe isn't what you're looking for. I have enjoyed this one as a morning tea or breakfast treat over the last few days. Great served warm with custard!



Ingredients
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbs milk
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used Pink Lady Apples)
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a 22 cm round cake tin.
  2. Beat together the sugar and eggs until thick and light.
  3. Beat in the oil and vanilla and milk.
  4. Stir in the apple.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, then fold this into the apple mixture. Pour into the cake tin.
  6. Bake for 45 min.

July 23, 2008

White Choc-Chip Cookies

Last night I cooked salmon fillets for dinner. Sure, they were tasty, but they stunk out my apartment! I spent most of today trying to get rid of the smell. Googled a lot for ideas on how to get rid of it, reading suggestions about putting something next to the stove when you're frying it (handy if I had read that before I started cooking it last night, not so handy now) and a bunch of other things like wiping your kitchen down with lemon juice and using bicarb soda....

None of it worked so as a last resort I decided to make a batch of cookies. Lucky for me, it seems to have worked to get rid of the salmon smell. And lucky for you, my readers, as I am about to post the recipe. These are tasty and as always, more-ish. Hope you're not sick of my cookie recipes lately. I swear I will get to making something else soon!



Makes about two dozen medium sized cookies

Ingredients
125 grams butter
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
As many white chocolate chips as you want (as long as the batter still holds together... if you're after more of an idea of how many, just grab 3 handfuls).

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cream together sugars, butter and vanilla essence.
  3. Beat in egg.
  4. Add sifted flour and salt.
  5. Add white chocolate chips and mix well.
  6. Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls, place on lined tray/s with a bit of room for spreading.
  7. Bake for approx 10 minutes or until just starting to turn golden
  8. Allow to cool on tray.

July 13, 2008

Choc chip coconut cookies

Well, I've been away in QLD visiting my sister, brother-in-law and my niece, so I haven't been baking much lately. I did make another banana bread the other day (a different recipe from the last one I posted, but there aren't any photos of that because it got eaten too quickly).

Anyway, here's a cookie recipe I made up today. I really like these cookies, they are very chewy and more-ish.


Ingredients
125g Butter, softened
1 cup Plain Flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 small handfuls of desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 handfuls choc chips

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 Degrees C. Line two cookie trays with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, then beat in egg and vanilla essence.
  3. Sift in flour and baking powder, then add coconut. Stir to combine. Fold in choc chips.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie trays.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 min until just slightly browned.
  6. Remove from oven and cool on cookie trays (this helps to maintain the chewy-ness).

June 30, 2008

Berry Custard Slice

I haven't actually made this one in a while, so I don't have a picture to post, but this is a favourite recipe of mine, so thought I would share.

This is a fantastic slice. I have made it several times for special occasions and it has been a hit every time. Some people like to serve it warm, but I prefer it chilled. It's not the "picture perfect" slice, but it is really tasty. If you're taking it to a get-together, I would suggest you transport the slice either in the pan, and cut it at the venue, or lay the cut slices in a single layer on a plate or in a container because it really doesn't stack well.
Ingredients (serves 12)
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • Berry topping

  • 450g mixed fresh berries (I usually just use strawberries, but I think the extra moisture of them is what contributes to the slice not looking perfect).
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups thickened cream
  • 3/4 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 3cm deep, 24cm x 29.5cm slab pan. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2cm-ish overhang at both long ends.
  2. Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in flour and coconut. Mix well.
  3. Press pastry evenly over base of prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  4. Make berry topping: Spoon berries over pastry base. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar in a large jug. Add cream and milk. Whisk to combine. Strain custard through a sieve over the berries.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until centre is set. Cool for 1 hour in pan. Lift slice out of pan using the baking paper overhang. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.

June 15, 2008

Nutella and Mars Bar Cookies

Ok, here is a yummy cookie recipe for chocolate lovers. These are nice and chewy. Shared these delicious cookies with Sumara the other night while we watched Sweeney Todd (first time I had seen it, quite gross, but really really well done! ...Though I might never eat another meat pie again! lol).


Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:
125g butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup Nutella (choc hazelnut spread)
1 and 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup chopped Mars Bars

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth
  3. Beat in egg then stir in vanilla
  4. Mix in Nutella
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl, and then stir into butter/sugar mixture until just blended.
  6. Fold in Mars Bar bits.
  7. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto baking trays, leave lots of room between cookies as they spread.
  8. Bake for 8-10 min, remove from oven and cool on tray.

June 4, 2008

Tooth drama

So, I'm eating my lunch today at a farewell/retirement lunch for one of my colleagues, and all of a sudden I feel this hard thing in my mouth. I thought it was part of the lunch I was eating, but no, it turns out to be part of one of my teeth. A huge chunk of tooth actually... well, it's about a quarter of the very last tooth at the back on one side of my lower jaw. Ouch, right? Actually, no. It doesn't hurt really. It's feeling a bit ache-y, and it certainly feels weird in my mouth, but there's no excruciating pain, which I'm glad about, and I guess means that I haven't uncovered a nerve... It's really weird because I'm really good with dental hygiene and I've never had a history of bad teeth, never even had a filling. Admittedly, I haven't been to the dentist since I had to get my wisdom teeth out about 9 years ago... man that's gone fast!

Anyway, I'm off to the dentist tomorrow morning to get it looked at. I hope they don't have to pull it out. I'm not a fan of injections in the mouth.

Also going to QLD for the weekend (really bad timing for a broken tooth!), so no chance for baking this weekend. Back to that next week!

June 3, 2008

Exercise and weight loss

I've started to go to the gym during my lunch break every day with a friend. I've only been doing it for two weeks now so I know I shouldn't really expect to see noticeable results yet, but I can't help it!! I stepped on the scales for the first time since I started this routine this morning, and was disappointed that nothing seems to have changed yet. I even have scales that show what percentage of your body is fat, and that seems to have gone up even though I haven't eaten heaps of baked goods and my energy expenditure has gone up. Very disappointing! I guess I just have to keep at it and not weigh myself until after a few more weeks have gone by....

June 2, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake Crumbles

This is the first time I've attempted this recipe and the first time I've made any sort of crumble, and I have to say it turned out pretty well. This batch went to hubby's work for his birthday the other day, and it's lucky they did, because I could eat way too many of these!


Ingredients (makes 12)
500g cream cheese, softened
2 tbs finely grated lemon rind
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup thickened cream
1/2 a lemon's worth of juice

Crumble topping
50g butter, chilled, chopped
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (or 130 degrees C for a fan-forced oven. Line a 12-hole 1/3-cup capacity muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Use an electric beater to cream cheese, lemon rind, lemon juice and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
  4. Add cream, beat until combined.
  5. Spoon into paper cases.
  6. Make crumble topping - Rub all ingredients together with fingertips until mixture looks like course bread crumbs.
  7. Sprinkle topping over cheesecake mixture.
  8. Bake for 30 min until cheesecakes are puffed up and crumble topping is golden.
  9. Cool on bench-top until sufficiently cool enough to refrigerate.
  10. Refrigerate for several hours or until cold.

May 28, 2008

Random wonderings

Ever stop to think about something you've never really wondered about before? I have. Here are a few of my random wonderings:

Is it just me, or does strawberry flavouring not taste very much like strawberries?
Why is vanilla essence in nearly every baking recipe I own? Does it really make that much difference to the overall taste?
How come it's so difficult to think of interesting things to make for dinner, but so easy to find a baked-good recipe that I want to try?
Why don't I like coriander?
Why are slow-cooked meals traditional for winter?
Why do recipe magazines all have slow-cooked meal recipes at the moment, do they think people miraculously have more time to cook in winter? I sure don't!

And non-food related wonderings:
What is so good about make-up? No offense to anyone who likes it and wants to wear it, but I don't really see the attraction (I'll admit I'm a bit clueless when it comes to how to apply it and make it look good, but I'm glad I don't wear it much, if ever, because I wouldn't be able to cram it into my morning routine).
How come ironing is such a pain in the butt?
Why is it that whenever I cook salmon, I can still smell it days afterwards, even when our house has been ventilated well and there are no dishes to clean up?

------------------
On another note:

Hubby's birthday today, so we are out to dinner tonight. Made him very yummy cheesecake crumbles as his birthday cake last night. Will post the recipe and photos later.

May 26, 2008

Banana Bread - low fat

Sumara very kindly pointed out that she is waiting for this week's baked goodness. Well Sumara (and others!) here is a very yummy banana bread recipe! The bonus is that it's tasty, AND it's low-fat!! No butter!! You can add 1 and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to this recipe if you like, but I prefer it without. You can also add 3/4 cup chopped walnuts which is a tasty addition, but bumps up the fat content a little.

Unfortunately I didn't get to photograph this creation before it all got scoffed on the weekend, but here is the photo-less recipe anyway:

Ingredients:
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp bi-carb soda
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup skim milk
2 eggs
1 tbs olive oil
2 large over-ripe bananas, mashed

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 degrees C for fan-forced oven).
  2. Grease an 11 x 21cm loaf pan and line with baking paper (cooking oil spray is handy for greasing).
  3. Combine flour, soda, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in milk, eggs, oil and bananas until just combined.
  4. Spoon into prepared pan, and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for about 50 min or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (another way I use to tell if it's cooked is to lightly press the centre of the loaf, if it springs back then it is done).
  6. Stand the loaf in its pan for about 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy!!

May 15, 2008

Home made after-dinner mints are way too more-ish.

I made these after-dinner mints from one of my cook books the other night, just for fun, just because I wanted to see how they would turn out, and just because I was looking for something to make with the stuff that was already in my food cupboard. Not because I actually wanted to eat them. Alas, since I have made them and they have not migrated to hubby's work or anywhere else, they have been staring me in the face, and beckoning me to eat them. All. At once.

I see them and think, 'yeah, I'd like to have one of those', just one mind you, but I can never stop at just one. As soon as it has been eaten, I feel like a REALLY want another sugary hit, right away! So I eat another one, but I can't stop there either. I want that sugary taste to stay in my mouth, it's not that I am actually hungry or that I particularly love after-dinner mints, it's that feeling of 'more sugar would be good right now'. So this goes on until I get the feeling I've had way too much sugar.... then I feel like I really really must brush my teeth. I should just brush my teeth after one mint, so that the taste would be out of my mouth and I wouldn't be tempted to eat any more. That would be sensible. Or what would be more sensible is if I sent them away, to hubby's work, or took them somewhere where everyone else could eat them, and I could be saved.

I won't post the recipe unless someone particularly wants it. I don't know if this recipe would have the same effect on anyone else, maybe I am just a sweet tooth (maybe!), but I thought I would save you from potential sugar-induced diabetic comas or something like that and not post the recipe.

On another note, totally un-food related, I'm trying to write up an application for a new job (well, a temporary transfer to another department for up to 6 months), and it's really difficult! I know I can do all the stuff listed in the selection criteria, but I find myself writing up stuff and using the same words over and over like "organisational" and "essential" and "time management" etc etc. I think I need to use a thesaurus or something so that it doesn't end up sounding like a broken record. They only want a two page document addressing the criteria, but there are 8 criteria, and you have to do a paragraph on each one! I don't know how you're supposed to make it sound good enough to actually get chosen for an interview in such small amount of space! I'll let you know how it goes. If actually end up getting the job, it means working in the city (which is only about 15 min from home rather than an hour to where I currently work), and slightly higher salary, so that would be nice.

May 13, 2008

Banana Cheesecake

Some good friends of ours came over last night to help us eat the desserts that I forgot to take to my mother-in-law's. Both desserts got the thumbs up. Here is the recipe for Banana Cheesecake, note that you will need at least 3 hrs cooling time, so it can be better to make it the night before and cool it over night:



Banana Cheesecake

Ingredients:
1 pack of Arnott's 'Nice' biscuits, crushed (you can do this by hand, but food processor is much quicker)
1/3 of a 250g block of butter, melted
2 packs of 250g packs of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 and 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe banana (this is approx. 3 large bananas)
3 eggs, beaten lightly

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (Fan-forced. 180 degrees C if conventional oven).
  2. Grease and line a 23cm springform pan with baking paper.
  3. Place crushed biscuits in a bowl and mix with melted butter. Press firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Then refrigerate while preparing other ingredients.
  4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla essence until smooth. Add banana and eggs, beat until smooth.
  5. Place tin on an oven tray, pour cheesecake mixture into tin. Bake for about an hour and a quarter, or until just firm.
  6. Cool in oven with door ajar (cooling baked cheesecakes too quickly can cause cracks on the surface). When cool to the touch, transfer to fridge and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Very banana-y and sweet without being sickly sweet.

May 11, 2008

Coconut Ice

I mentioned in my last post that I successfully made coconut ice. Well, here is the recipe:

Please note you will need to make this a day ahead, as it takes ages to set.


Coconut Ice

Ingredients
5 cups icing sugar
3 cups desiccated coconut
3/4 of a 395g tin of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
red food colouring

Method
  1. Lightly grease and line a 20cm square cake tin (I actually used a standard slice tin, but this recipe doesn't entirely fill one of those).
  2. Combine icing sugar and coconut in a large bowl, then add condensed milk, eggwhite and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
  3. Divide mixture evenly between two bowls, then add a few drops of red food colouring to one bowl and mix until combined (I actually had to knead the 'dough' to get the colouring to spread evenly. You will probably get red food colouring on your hands if you do this, but it washed off easily for me).
  4. Put pink mixture into the prepared pan, and press down, evening it out. Top with white mixture, pressing down to even out.
  5. Cover and either put in the fridge overnight to set, or leave it out on the bench. I left mine out on the bench and found that it set quite nicely.
  6. Next day, cut into squares or rectangles to serve.
You might be wondering what you are going to do with the rest of that can of sweetened condensed milk.... well, that's what I am wondering too. The left overs of mine is in the fridge, awaiting instruction. I figure I might use it in a cookie recipe, as I have seen cookie recipes that call for only two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. I'll try and find one and post it for you so that the rest of your can doesn't go to waste... if you're desperate, you could always eat the rest by the spoonful!! (That's what hubby would probably be wanting to do if he realised there was any left!)

I presented my coconut ice in a box to my mum for mother's day, and she was thrilled (it's one of her favourites).

On another note, you know how I was attempting a baked custard tart and a banana cheesecake? Well they were supposed to be for mother's day to take when we were visiting my mother-in-law, but after all my efforts, I totally forgot to take them with us!! I was so annoyed because I realised that I didn't have them when we were almost there. We then had to stop off and get something frozen to have for dessert instead. We got Nanna's Apple Crumble and custard. Sorry Nanna, your apple crumble is nice, but it just doesn't cut it compared to something home made :(. I guess the desserts I made will have to go to work with hubby again if we can't find someone to come over and eat them in the next couple of days!

May 9, 2008

New attempts!

I have just re-attempted making coconut ice. The first time I made it, it was a bit of a disaster, tasted oh-so-good, but was such a gooey mess that you practically had to eat it with a spoon. It just did not set! This time after a bit of tweaking to the recipe, I have success!

I am just about to attempt a baked banana cheesecake and a baked custard tart for the first time. Wish me luck!

Photos and recipes will follow shortly!

May 6, 2008

Yummy cake!

I made this awesome cake on the weekend. It was Pear and Ginger Upside-down cake. I made two of them in two small loaf pans (as the recipe called for one large-ish square cake tin, and I don't have one of those... and I didn't want to be bothered with halving the recipe). Yes, one of these delicious cakes went to work with my husband again. The other one got sampled and the rest of it got cut up and frozen for later! (I'm getting quite a lot of use out of my freezer, I think I need a bigger one!)



Pear and Ginger Upside-down Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups brown sugar
250g butter melted and cooled
3 packham pears, peeled, cored and chopped into thick slices
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarb soda, sifted
2 and 1/2 cups plain flour sifted
2 tsp ground ginger
200g light sour cream

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Lightly grease 2 8x4 inch loaf pans or one square 23cm cake tin. Line with baking paper.
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over the base of the prepared pan/s, pour 1/3 cup butter over sugar.
  3. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on top of the butter and sugar.
  4. Place remaining butter in a large bowl, mix in all the syrup, eggs, bicarb soda, flour, ground ginger and remaining sugar. Then mix in sour cream.
  5. Pour batter over pears.
  6. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Stand for 10-15min, then turn out onto a platter and serve.

May 5, 2008

Cooking dinner ahead is the key...

... to more time in your day. It may not work for everyone, but I find it works for me, being one who works full time and tries to make it to the gym after work, while still getting home in time to have dinner on the table at a decent hour (let me tell you, it's really hard work! It doesn't leave me with much time to cook anything interesting).

I'm talking about cooking food for dinner a day or so ahead. I don't necessarily mean cooking the entire meal in advance (you can do that too if you really have time), but sometimes cooking a side dish ahead of time is a big help. (This works well for meals like meat and 3 veg etc). I like vegies and meat better on the first day they're cooked as they never seem to taste quite as good the next day heated up in the microwave (maybe because microwaves tend to cook everything just a little bit more), so cooking a side dish a day or so before it's going to be eaten is one less thing that I have to think about for the next dinner.

Last night for example, I cooked risotto to go with tonight's dinner (in my rice cooker! So easy!). All I had to do when I got home today was cook up the chicken and the vegies. Vegies and meat don't take much time to cook, so all I had to do was heat up the risotto while the vegies were steaming and chicken was cooking. Easy! Dinner is ready in about 15 min as opposed to half an hour or more.

If there's left-overs, you can either use them up another night, or freeze them in portion sizes for future use. I did this with the couscous I made last week, but I didn't think about freezing it in dinner sized portions, so it might be a bit difficult to defrost only the part that we need to use... maybe I'll try and put it in one of my home-made soups. I don't know if it would go, but I'm willing to try it!

I'm trying to get organised enough to do this more often, but I usually only find that I can do it on the weekend.

I'll leave you with my risotto recipe. I don't know how long it took to cook, as once it was in the rice cooker, I went to do other things and didn't really think about it again until it was finished. It doesn't have as much sauce as risotto usually does, but I enjoyed it all the same:

Rice cooker Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, or 4 to 6 as a main

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 onion
1 clove crushed garlic
250g mushrooms
1 and a 1/4 cups brown rice
4 and a half cups cold chicken stock

Method:
  1. Put oil and butter/margarine in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Finely dice the onion and add to frying pan with crushed garlic.
  3. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 min.
  4. Chop mushrooms and add to fry pan.
  5. Cook for a further 3 min or so (it doesn't need to be totally cooked as it will finish cooking in the rice cooker), then remove from heat.
  6. Put rice in rice cooker, add mushroom mixture and mix together.
  7. Add chicken stock and stir, making sure that the rice is even spread on the bottom of the pot. (I used cold chicken stock as my rice cooker book says that you need to use cold water when cooking rice, but I don't know if this would make a difference to the end result in the case of risotto).
  8. Set to the "cook" setting and cook until the switch switches to "warm"
  9. Stir again to get the mushrooms etc spread evenly.
  10. Serve (or save for later!).
If you're making this as a main, I would suggest adding peas and corn or some other vegies in step 6, and then cooking some diced chicken to add in just before serving. Also, just a note that if you're using white rice instead, you would need to reduce the amount of chicken stock (to about 3 cups), as brown rice uses more water to cook (and takes longer).

I hope it works for you as well as it worked for me. It's my own recipe, so I made it to my taste I would recommend experimenting and adding other things you like.

I would show you a photo of it, but it was rather brown and not that interesting-looking, and half of it is gone now.... maybe if I remember to take a photo next time I will post it.

If only I could be so organised all the time....

May 4, 2008

Baking and watching your weight

Unfortunately this post is not some new idea about how to lose weight while baking (I wish there was such a method!). It's actually about the dilemma of being someone who wants to get fit and is watching their weight but loves baking too much. Baking is like a hobby for me, I love trying new recipes and seeing how things turn out.

The problem is that I also like to sample the fruits of my labour; a cookie here, a piece of banana bread or cake there.... I am a lot better than I used to be, in that I used to just not be able to stop at just one or two samples, if it was there, I would want to eat it and would probably eat much more than I should have. Now I have a bit more self control and can be satisfied with one or two samples.... but of course the danger is that whatever I've baked will go off if it's not eaten, what a waste! My one or two samples become one or two samples a day, which over a few days can add up to quite a bit.

The best way I've found to combat this is to bake something, save a small portion for home, and send the rest to work with my husband. Problem solved! I've had my baking-fix, tasted the goodies, and now the temptation of eating more is no longer there! I think my husband's work colleagues will be starting to complain that I'm making them fat if I bake too often though. So far this hasn't happened, whenever I need to call my husband at work, if someone else answers first they're always saying "thanks for the cookies" or something like that. My husband says that they have a theory; whenever they say thanks for the cookies, it means that I will make more to send to the office in the very near future. They might be right, or it might just be coincidence, but they get their baked goods often, so everyone's happy.

If you love baking as much as I do, perhaps you should do what I do and send your baked goods to work with yourself or your husband. I would take them to my work, but there are too many people in my office for just one batch of cookies. I would have to bake quite a bit more in order to feed the masses at my work, so unless I make a giant batch of something, my baked-goodness is going to work with my husband.

Another idea is baking for a school cake stall if you have kids (which I don't so this doesn't work for me), or some family event where you have to bring something. I always volunteer to bring dessert as 99% of what I bake is sweet stuff. But my preferred method of getting my tasties out of the house is to send them to work with my husband, because if I'm trying a new recipe and it doesn't work out, then there's no pressure to have an end result (as in, it doesn't HAVE to work out, because they never expecting me to send things, so it's a bonus when I do).

Does anyone else love baking as much as I do? What are your methods of sending your sweet temptations out of the house/What do you do with your baked goods?

Eventually I hope to put up some recipes here so keep your eye out.

May 2, 2008

Nothing to see here yet

Unfortunately there's not much to see here yet. I've been thinking about starting a blog for ages and have finally set one up... though I have nothing else to say as yet! It'll get there eventually.... one day...