Friday, December 31, 2010

Swiss Chicken, New Potatoes and Some Christmas Pics!

HELLO EVERYONE!! I'm back and oh how I have missed my lil blog - sad isn't it!

Well Christmas was fantastic, lots of good food - my Mum does a plate of bikkies, dips, cheeses, tomato, dolmades and new potatoes for xmas breakfast followed by a plate of chocolate creme, marshmallows, strawberries and mini meringues - best thing ever! And we normally go to OH's family for lunch or dinner so he still gets his fix of xmas meat!

This year Mum and Dad gave me something I really really love - and no it wasn't the waffle maker, although that was up there! She brought me two books.

The one with the shoe is half full of all of my favourite recipes of Mum's, her xmas pudding, her pumpkin pasta bake, her pumpkin scones, her jams and chutneys, it's just fantastic. And the other one is for me to write my recipes down in and pass on to my kids. I love the whole idea of it and can't wait to start filling it up and making some of Mum's recipes! We also got spoilt rotten with things for the garden, kitchen appliances, books and OH even brought us a kayak each!!

One thing I brought OH was this book called Cheese Matters. It's a great book because all the recipes use brands such as Coon, South Cape, Tasmanian Heritage, Mil Lel brands that are readily available in the supermarket here. So seeing as we had some xmas smoked ham left over we decided to make the Swiss Chicken first and oh it was delicious!!

You will need

2 x sml chicken breast
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tspn french mustard
1 tbspn oil
salt and pepper
2 slices of smoked ham
2 slices of swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 200C.
Combine the wine and mustard and pour over the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. Leave in the fridge for 30 mins to marinate.
Heat oil in a fry pan and cook chicken until golden on both sides, but not cooked through.
Wrap each chicken breast in a slice of ham and top with a slice of cheese.
Place on a lined oven tray and bake for 20-25 mins or until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked.

We had ours with freshly dug new potatoes and baby carrots from our garden....absolutely devine! And the wine and mustard give the chicken a beautiful flavour :)

Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable New Years Eve!!

Em x

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year and I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas however you choose to celebrate!

Em xx

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spinach and Cheese Damper and Some Sparklies!

So tonight I made a big batch of pumpkin soup for Mum and Dad for dinner, and I decided the best thing to go with that was some nice crusyt hot out of the oven damper!

This is a Spinach and Cheese Damper and was really easy to make! I had horrible visions of it being rock solid and awful but it was crusty on the outisde, soft on the inside and ,most importantly, delicious!

This recipe served 4 and I used the following:

1 cup self raising flour
25g butter chopped
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup grated cheese
80g baby spinach

Pre-heat oven to 200C and line and grease a baking tray.

Sift flour in a bowl and rub in butter to form crumbs.

Cook spinach in the microwave until wilted and squueze to remove excess moisture. Add spinach and cheese to flour and stir to combine.

Make a hole in the centre of the mixture. Combine milk with 1/4 cup water and pour into well. Use a knife to stir dough. You may need to add a bit more flour to reach a nice soft, sticky, yet workable consistency.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Roll into a ball and place on baking tray. Brush with a little milk and cut a cross into the top.

Bake for 20-25 mins or until base sounds hollow when tapped.

So nice fresh out of the oven with some butter!! And can you see all the melty cheese goodness in there??

Only 4 more sleeps!!

Em x

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The last of the Xmas Baking!!

Honestly it has to be because my fridge just cannot hold anymore!!

Today I made some Chewy Maple Oat Cookies and some White Xmas (minus the white!)

I had been telling Mum how much I enjoyed making the white xmas and how yummy it was, but that it was a shame OH doesn't like white chocolate and Mum suggested I make it with normal milk chocolate (duh Emily....) so I thought I would give it a go.

Not So White Xmas
You will need:

375g milk chocolate melts
125g cooking butter
1/2 cup milk powder
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups rice bubbles
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup glace cherries

Combine milk powder, icing sugar, rice bubbles, coconut and cherries in a bowl.
Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat and pour over dry ingredients.
Stir to combine and press into a lined slice tin. Refrigerate until set :)

Very easy and OH loved it which is always a bonus!!

Now onto the next one - Chewy Maple Oat Cookies

For these cute lil babies you will need

200g cooking butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar + 1tbspn extra
1/2 tspn bicarb soda

Pre-heat oven to 160C and line 2 baking trays.
In an electric mixer combine 80g of the butter (softened), 2 tbspns of maple syrup and extra brown sugar. Leave it on low speed to make the frosting while you are making the biscuits.
Combine oats, coconut, flour and brown sugar in a bowl.
Melt remaining butter and maple syrup and add bicarb. Pour over dry ingredients and combine.
Place rolled tspsns of the mixture onto the tray, you should get around 36. You may also want to turn your electric mixer off now!
Bake for 7-10 mins, just keep an eye on them, when they look golden on top, take them out.
Once the biscuits have cooled you can place a tspn of the filling on half of them. Sandwich together with an un-iced biscuit. You may want to put them back in the fridge so that the filling goes harder or you may want to lick it all off straight away!!

I only made these yesterday and I have already had to make a second batch coz the first one disappeared so quick!

My kitchen still smells like maple syrup and it's just giving me the greatest urge for pancakes!

But alas there is literally no room what so ever in my fridge now due to the marshmallow puddings and marshmallow candy canes and christmas bark and christmas chocolates and maple biscuits and not so white xmas....not to mention the food we live on! So that is the xmas baking for the year and I am quite pleased with it all!!

I hope you got some great ideas and enjoyed it as much as I did :)

Em x

Friday, December 17, 2010

Potato Bake - Two Ways!

So last night OH and I both wanted potato bake....but we face that age old dilemma....I love a cheesy delicious potato bake as much as the next person, but I try and be a touch restrained whereas OH likes all these cheesy goodness he can get!
So, just like we do with lasagne, we decided to make two! And in the process we ended up having a three course potato inspired meal!

Course 1 - Potato Soup
Course 2 - Oven Roasted Potato and Kumara Chips

Course 3 - Potato Bake!


Ok so the Potato Soup, really not that hard...but half way through the potato bakes being cooked, we took mine out and skimmed the stock off the top, put it in a bowl and OH MY GOD....OH and I argued over who got to eat it! It wasn't like a thick soup, but just a nice stock infused with all the potato flavours, oh it was delicious, it just needed some nice crusty fresh bread to go with it!

The Oven Roasted Potato and Kumara Chips were also easy, we thinly sliced about 300g potato and 1 small kumara, layered them in a small baking dish, gave them a light spray with some oil and seasoned them with some Season All - Garlic and chucked them in the oven with the potato bake. Keep giving them a good toss around the dish and I would say they roasted for about an hour alongside the potato bakes. Absolutely delicious!

And last but not least the Potato Bakes!

Preheat the oven to 180C and thinly slice about 1kg of potatoes.

Then we layered thinly sliced potatoes, grated cheese and some diced onion in two small baking dishes.

For the Cheese Lovers Potato Bake - On the stove top we melted 1 tbsnp butter then added 1 tbspn plain flour and cooked for 2mins. Keep it on a low heat just so you don't burn anything. Then add 1 cup of milk and stir through 1-1/2 cup grated pizza cheese (I use the pizza cheese because it incorporates mozarella, parmesan, cheddar and romano and has a great flavour). I also stirred in about 1/2 tspn of crushed garlic. Keep stirring until nice and thick and all ingredients incorporated. Pour over your sliced potatoes and season with cracked pepper. Cover with foil and bake for around an hour. Then remove foil and if your really keen, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for another 15 mins or until golden.

I will admit that OH's was awesome, but after one occasion where he put a whole 1kg pkt of cheese in the potato bake he made for our dinner one night, he has been banned from making mine!

And for the Health Conscious Potato Bake - I combined one vegetable stock cube, 1/2 tspn crushed garlic, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of milk in a saucepan over low heat. Once everything is well combined pour over the sliced potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 mins, then remove from oven and use a ladel to remove any excess stock that is sitting on the surface (mmmmm potato soup!). Sprinkle with some light grated pizza cheese and place back in the oven for another 30-45 mins. I just stick a knife into mine to see if the potatoes are cooked. I found this was really delicious despite not having the creamy cheesy sauce but I pinched a forkful of OH's to make up for it!!

So there you have it - how we set out to make potato bake and ended up having a three course potato feast!

Em xx

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Parental Dinners and Christmas Baking No. 2!

Last night we finally got to put the tree up at Mum and Dads, so I thought I would show you some photos of my favourite decorations :)

This is on the shelf right next to the tree, there is a ball with each of ours names, plus our lil dog who passed away last year. Underneath the balls is a decoration to symbolise each of us - Dad loves his bikes (although normally not the pedalling kind!) Mum has a penchant for leopard print and shoes and of course the reindeer and high heel shoe for me and OH. I think it adds a really nice personal touch to the decorations.

And these are the Christmas 'ears' I brought Mum and Dad - the reindeers are Dads, and the angels are Mums, at Xmas brekkie we each have our own pair of 'ears' that we wear!

And last but not least, Mum's pride and joy, her gorgeous lil gold tree. Mum and Dad have had the actual tree since they met and I made that gold star when I was in kindergarten!!

After all that hard work we were starving! So Mum dished up one of her awesome suprise pies, this one being egg, brocolli, cauliflower and vegetarian sausage and some potato swirls on the side....everyone made fun of me because I like nibbling the crunchy outside off and then eating the soft ball of mashed potato inside...

And then tonight I made these cute lil Marshmallow Candy Canes

Aren't they adorable? And so simple!

You will need:

20 white marshmallows
30 pink marshmallows
80g white chocolate melts
Strawberry straps cut into thin strands

Begin by cutting 10 white and 10 pink marshmallows in half.
On a toothpick thread one pink, then one white, then another pink marshallow (although I also quite like the look of the all white ones - colour selection is totally up to you!) and place on a lined baking tray.
Melt your chocolate and brush a white marshmallow half on the cut side. Stick to the top of one of your pink marshmallows on the stick. Repeat with pink, white and pink marshmallow halves, creating a curve as you go. It's best to do this whilst it is lying flat on the baking sheet.
Once all these are done, place in the fridge for 10 mins to set.
Meanwhile you can cut the strawberry straps into strands!
For each candy cane, tie one strand of strap just above the bottom marshmallow, you can tie it in a bow or a know, whatever suits you : )

These would be great for the kids to help you make too!

And there you have it, marshmallow candy canes!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Em x

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Baking No.1 And The Day That Was!

What a day!! It started at 7:30am this morning when I picked my best friend (and also my bridesmaid!) up and we went to have our hair trials for wedding. We have gone with a vintage / old Hollywood theme so my hair was up in a cluster of buns with lil finger waves through the front and Allison's had gorgeous high curls at the front and fell in thick curls down the back, we were so happy with them! Then we set off for the final dress fittings. We met Mum there and we all tried our dresses on. While we were there Allison found a cute pair of lil diamond earrings to wear with hers and I found an vintage looking comb with white roses, white feathers and diamantes to put in my hair - we were on a roll!

Next stop was the local day spa where we all had different treatments. Mum had a hand and foot massage, Allison had a back, shoulders and hand massage and I had back, shoulders and arms. Ohhh it was so good! There were a few iffy bits where they were rubbing knots out of the muscles and I thought I was going to cry, but it feels so much better now! We left there, dazed and relaxed, and headed to Hadleys Hotel for High Tea! We each got our own lil pot of tea and a glass of bubbles which was impressive enough, but then they brought the food out! Oh I wish I had got a photo! We had a 3-tier stand - bottom tier was the most delicious salad finger sandwiches (we requested vegetarian), second tier was bite sized morsels or caramel slice, lemon slice, custard and strawberry cups and chocolate eclairs and the third and final tier was scones, jam and cream! And there was 3 of everything so no arguments over who got what! We nearly rolled out of there when we left, that was over 5 hours ago and I still can't look at food!

Then we did a bit of power shopping, we were looking for a pair of shoes for Allison to wear with her dress and all the shops were closing and we just couldn't bring ourselves to run with full bellies....but we went into one shop that was open and found the perfect pair! Funny how things work! Somehow I managed to come home with these lil babies....I think I'm in love!!

Nearly 10 hours later I finally got home! And what better way to unwind after a great day, then to make a start on my Christmas Baking!

First off the rank was White Christmas!

I looked at alot of recipes and they seemed to either have alot of copha or alot of white chocolate, so I decided to combine both coz I wanted that chocolatey taste without it being too sickly.

1 block Milky Bar Chocolate
1 cup red cherries
125g copha
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup milk powder
1/2 cup icing sugar
1.5 cups rice bubbles

Combine all ingredients except copha and chocolate.
Melt copha and chocolate together either in the microwave or on the stove top.
Stir chocolate mix through dry ingredients.
Press into a lined slice tin and leave in the fridge for an hour to set.

So simple yet so delicious!!!

And while that was setting I got started on these lil Marshmallow Puddings

I really like the lil chocolate covered bite sized xmas puddings you get but my OH hates xmas pudding, so I thought these would be a great alternative!

15 large marshmallows
300g milk chocolate melts
150g white chocolate melts
1/4 cup red and green cherries finely diced.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Place toothpicks in the top of the marshmallows.
Melt milk chocolate.
Using toothpicks, dip marshmallows into chocolate and use a teaspoon to coat them. Place on baking tray. Repeat with remaining marshmallows and place in the fridge to set.
Once set, remove toothpicks and melt white chocolate. Drizzle teaspoons of white chocolate over marshmallows and place cherries on top.
Place back in the fridge to set.

Two very easy and delicious Christmas baking recipes!!

And now I need to have a hot shower and go to bed because I can barely keep my eyes open!

Em x

Friday, December 10, 2010

Putting up the Christmas Tree

In our family it is a tradition to

a) have the tree up as close to the 1st of Dec as possible
b) that Mum, Dad, OH and I all put it up together and
c) each year Mum and Dad buy me a new shoe decoration and OH a new reindeer decoration

So last night we all got together to put our tree up and in a couple of days we are doing Mum and Dad's.

Here is the lil shoe that Mum and Dad got me this year

And here is the lil reindeer that they got OH, I don't know if you can tell but he has lil diamantes on his ears, he is so sweet!

And here was have the final product, we have a purple, blue and silver theme, plus the growing collection of shoes and reindeer taking over the tree! I love them though, it gives the tree a real personal touch I think : )

Hope you are all having a fantastic start to your festive season!

Em x

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And the Christmas Baking Has Begun.....

Ok so Christmas Bark is dead easy, I'm sure we've all seen it, heard of it, tried it and hopefully loved it!

Simply melt some chocolate, stir through half a pkt of crushed up candy canes, pour it into a tin to set and then melt a different chocolate, stir through the remaining candy canes and pour over the top and chuck it in the fridge to set! It doesn't get much simpler then that!

So you may remember that for Halloween I set myself a baking challenge of certain things I wanted to make?

Well I'm doing it again!

Over the festive season I would like to make:

- Marshmallow Candy Canes
- Marshmallow Christmas Puddings
- Honey Biscuits
- White Christmas (I have never made this and always wanted to!)
- Christmas chocolates using different flavourings and fillings
- Maple Cookies

So the challenge is on! I will keep you posted of everything I make and seeing as OH is going away for his bucks weekend in a few days, what better time to get started!

Em xx

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My First Roast Chook!

Since I got the Australian Women's Weekly Cook Book for my birthday I have been meaning to make a roast chicken. I have never made one before but I kinda think it's one of those staple meals I should be able to make and the recipe in this book sounded easy and had lots of pictures and stuff. So last night Mum and Dad came over for tea to help us put our xmas tree up and I figured what better time then that to give it a go! I had to get OH to help me abit but the end result was pretty damn impressive!

It was all pretty simple - you only need:

1.5kg chicken
30g butter
1 x oven bag
For the stuffing -
1 celery stalk finely diced
1 small white onion finely diced
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tspns Season All w/garlic

For the stuffing - Combine all ingredients in a bowl (how easy was that!)
Pre-heat oven to 200C or 180 for fan forced.
Wash the chicken inside and out with water. Pat dry with paper towel.
Fill with stuffing. Seal the opening with some toothpicks and then tie the legs together with some kitchen string.
Place chicken and 30g butter in an oven bag and rest in a baking tray.
Roast for 15 mins then reduce heat to 180C or 160 for fan forced.
Roast for a further 1.5hrs. Chicken is cooked if you insert a skewer into the thigh and the juices run clear.

I thought this stuffing was really nice too and OH, who has never eaten stuffing in the entire time we have been together, loved it!

So anyway, I was most impressed that it was a) cooked and b) tasted pretty good!

Have some photos of the xmas tree, some xmas baking and my list of all the xmas goodies I intend to make in the next few weeks!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Em x

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pizziola CousCous and Some Xmas Treats!

Last week OH was away for work so I was seeking a quick and easy meal that I could make using what we have in the cupboard.

In the end I settled on this, and I am so glad I did, it was delicious!

Pizziola CousCous

100g baby spinach
1 capsicum
1 onion
1 zucchini
40g ham
1 tspn wet garlic
1 tspn wet italian herbs
400g tin diced tomatoes
50g button mushrooms
50g couscous

Dice all your vegies.
Add onion and herbs to a fry pan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 mins
Add vegies (except spinach) and stir until they are well coated in the herbs.
Add diced tomatoes and simmer for 5-7 mins or until vegies are tender.
Meanwhile place couscous in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a tea towel over the bowl. After 2 mins, fluff couscous with a fork and add to the tomato mix.
Stir through ham and spinach.
Serve topped with grated cheese or a sprinkle of parmesan if you wish.

This was enough for me to have a huge bowl for dinner plus a little bowl for lunch the next day so you could probably get two normal sized meals out of it!

I went shopping yesterday, just browsing in my lunch break, and look what I found!

I couldn't go past it once I saw it, it is just the most adorable little christmas bowl for treats or fruit or anything really...I have images of a giant ice cream sundae in it...but at the moment I am being good and keeping my fruit in it!

I have just been to a Latin polefit class and oh my god, totally new world of pain compared to normal polefit, it's more focused on your core whereas regular polefit works your arms god...I sneezed before and it nearly made me cry, which made me laugh...and then we were back to the crying! But it's all good, I had a blast and can't wait to go back next Thursday!

Em x

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nutella and Strawberry Crepe Cake

Now once a year we have this joyous occasion (being OH's bday) but with this joyous occasion also comes a quandry....what sort of birthday cake do you make someone who doesn't like 'cakey things' - his words not mine.... Previously I have done a cheesecake and an ice cream cake, but this year I wanted something different and really when you try googling 'birthday cake without cake' you really don't get that much assistance! But after quite some time I had my light bulb moment (right at the last minute too!) and had a flash back to OH and I sitting on the couch, me reading a recipe mag and OH saying 'oohhhh I would like that' whilst pointing at a gorgeous looking crepe cake. So Crepe Cake it was! I decided on a nutella and strawberry version as OH loves nutella. So here is how you do it...

Nutella and Strawberry Crepe Cake

16 Crepes (I used the Creative Gourmet ones)
220g jar of Nutella
1/3 cup strawberry jam
220g extra light philadelphia cream cheese
20ml Frangelico (Hazelnut liquer)
whipped cream

Ok so you could spread all your crepes and then stack them up but I don't have a ridiculous amount of kitchen space so I did it as I went.

- Combine your philly and strawberry jam in a bowl and set aside.
- Spread your first crepe with nutella and place on a serving plate.
- Spread the next crepe with the strawberry mixture and place spread side up ontop of the nutella one.
- Repeat your layers, finishing with a plain crepe.
- I then mixed my whipped cream with the frangelico to give it a lovely hazelnut flavour and spread over the top of the cake and decorated with strawberries.

This cake was not only delicious but dead easy. And it looks awesome when you cut into it, no one will believe it only took you 5 mins to put together!

You could also top it with chocolate sauce made by melting some chocolate, cream and frangelico together if you are after a more decadent dessert!

I have now started my new job and at this stage I'm thinking it is going to be very challenging, but the days are going really quick and I'm really enjoying the change so fingers crossed it stays that way!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Feta Stuffed Meatballs and Salsa in Pita Pockets

I have had this recipe for Fetta Stuffed Meatballs for ages now, the original recipe suggests serving with cous cous as well which I think would be delicious, but seeing as there were only two of us last night and the bowl of meatballs and salad was rather huge, we decided to give that step a miss.

It was a really easy recipe to make, well actually OH made it, but it was easy to watch him make!

The following makes enough for 2 people to share

350g lamb mince
1 egg
1 tspn crushed / wet garlic
1 tspn crushed / wet moroccan herbs
50g fetta cut into sml cubes
150g cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/2 red onion
2 tspns finely diced mint
6 pita pockets split to open pocket

Combine mince, egg, garlic and herbs in a bowl.
Shape heaped teaspoons of mixture into meatballs.
Press a piece of fetta into each ball and re-roll to enclose filling.
Place on a plate and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
Meanwhile finely dice tomatoes, cucumber and onion, combine in a bowl with the mint and season with salt and pepper.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and add meatballs. Cook for 3-4 mins, turning, until browned and cooked.
Place your meatballs, salad and pita pockets on the table and let everyone help themselves!

Now....I have to say, these meatballs have to be eaten while hot out of the pan, I mean you can have them later if you want, but straight out of the pan, the fetta is all gooey and delicious....this is definetly a new favourite in our house!

And remember how I said we discovered a new love for malt in Melbourne...OH caught me 'cleaning' the blender after a round of malt milkshakes....

But that's ok, coz look what I found in the kitchen the night before 5 mins after the bread maker told us it was finished baking....

We are such a dysfunctional household!!

Till next time

Em x

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Melbourne Trip!

I love Melbourne, every year as long as I can remember I have been over at least once, and really what is there not to love? The shopping is to die for, the bargains are fabulous, the food is incredible and then there is the atmosphere, the culture and if you go at this time of year, the Christmas window display at Myer is up!

So on Thursday we got to Melb at around lunch time. The weather was warm but it was a bit wet so we checked into our hotel and caught the train out to Brunswick. Admitedly we took a few wrong turns and ended up walking in the wrong direction, but my god there are some gorgeous bridal shops out there. Eventually we headed in the right direction though and we found what we were looking for....

This little pub is done up like an old 60's diner and is full of Harley and Steve McQueen memorabillia. The meals were huge and had a southern american influence and after a long morning and alot of walking - a decent meal was exactly what we wanted!

That night we were off out to Metallica so we wanted a quick and easy meal on the way. We were lucky enough to find a little thai place down one of Melbourne's famous alleys that was kind of like the Subway of stir frys, you chose your own vegies, meat, sauce and noodles and in 5 mins your dream sir fry was delivered to your table! I had a tofu and vegie stir fry with satay sauce and it was to die for!

The concert was brilliant, Metallica are one of OH and my favourite bands and they didn't disappoint - playing a set consisting of old and new stuff, revving the crowd up at every opportunity, I have never been to a concert where even those in the seated section stood up for the entire thing!

So after a big night singing our lungs out, we needed a sugar hit for breakfast the next on our way out to the Science Works at Spotwood we grabbed a couple of Spanish Donuts, we have seen the stand at the Flinders St Station a few times but never tried one before...

Why have we not tried these before!? I had a pineapple glazed donut and OH had a custard filled one. They don't look like your average donut as they are more of a log shape, and I am pretty sure they are fried in oil before they are glazed or filled, but my god were they good! And just one each kept us going till well past lunch! We had a ball at the Science Works too, it was so much fun trying out all the different displays and exhibits and we even learnt a few things along the way!

When we got back to Melbourne we had done a tonne of walking so we headed straight for the Lindt cafe, it was a beautiful day so we treated ourselves to a scoop of White Chocolate and Raspberry Swirl ice cream and a strawberry macaroon each for lunch. The lindt ice cream is probably wouldn't want too much more then one scoop because it is fairly rich, but it is heavenly and the macaroons were pretty damn good too!

That night we needed something savoury for dinner, so we hiked our way to the Casino in search of a steak restaurant we had heard of called (wait for it) SteakOut - not the most original name, but turns out, when you can make food like that good, who cares what you're called! I ordered a grilled chicken salad and mixed though a side order of roast pumpkin and kumara, oh it was good! OH found a 1kg steak on the menu and he had his heart set on that - see how happy he looks!

I think we have found our new favourite restaurant in Melbourne!

The following day was our last day, we were flying home at about 3pm so we decided to take ourselves out to breakfast...and quite frankly we were shocked that we had made it to the third day without going to the pancake parlour! I went with the simple lemon and sugar pancakes (it was a toss up between that and the strawberry jam and cream but when the waiter came I panicked!) and you know what they say, you can't beat the classics! OH had a caramel malt thickshake with his and we are now officially obsessed with malt, we only got home last night and already today I have been to the supermarket, brought malt and we may or may not have had several malt thickshakes....

And what trip to Melbourne would be complete without the obligatory bringing home of Krispy Kremes - purely because we don't have them here in Tassie and OH is slightly in love with them

And last but not least did I mention I got some fantastic bargains!!! I got some great deals on dresses - I swear I brought about $200 worth of clothes for $80, not to mention these gorgeous shoes!!!

And that my friends, was our holiday!

Till next time, Em x

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken Risotto and 2 Minute Trifle!

Well tomorrow OH and I go to Melbourne to see Metallica and we don't come home till Sat night so here is a quick run down on today and I will give you a full Melbourne update when I get back!

Seeing as I am still training the temp, I have heaps of time on my hands during the day. So today I went and had lunch with my Dad

And we went for a walk around the area he was working and found this gorgeous maltese shitzu pup (ok we didnt find it, it had an owner) but it was adorable so we stopped and played with her for a while too!

And Mum and Dad came out for tea tonight so we made this easy Chicken Risotto

You will need:
350g chicken breast trimmed and diced
1 onion diced
80g baby spinach
1.25 cups of arborio rice
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 tin of diced tomatoes
1 tspn crushed garlic
2 tspns crushed / wet italian herbs
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

In a saucepan combine stock and diced tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer until required.
In a fry pan over medium heat, add chicken and cook for 5-7 mins or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add onion and garlic to the fry pan and cook for 3-5 mins or until onion is soft.
Add rice, italian herbs and wine to the pan. Combine and bring to the boil. Simmer.
Add stock and simmer for 10-12 mins or until liquid is mostly absorbed and rice is soft and tender.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.

And for dessert we have the super easy 2 Minute Trifle

For this one all you need is
1 x pkt of Aunt Betty's Belgium Chocolate Puddings
Thickened Cream
100g Raspberries (or any berries will do)
Paul's Thick Custard

Heat the puddings in the microwave according to packet instructions. Roughly chop and divide amongst four tall glasses.
Top with a tablespoon of cream.
Add 1 tbspn raspberries, reserving roughly a quarter for decoration.
Add about 1/4 cup of custard to each glass and top with remaining raspberries.

This was really nice, the cream soaked through the pudding and the whole combination was just delicious. You could also add jelly as well to give it more of a trifle feel!

Anyway, I have to pack and get ready for tomorrow so hope you all have a fantastic few days!

Em x

Monday, November 15, 2010

Potato and Lentil Dahl

Well I spent today training a temp at work to take over my job....and really I mean I know its a new job...but in this case the guy has worked in the job before, and i am all for being careful but even though he spends so much time checking everything, he is still not accurate! And I have given him copious amounts of notes and manuals and he just isn't using them, when all the answers to the questions he asks me are right at his finger apart from stabbing him in the eye with a pen, the only cure for this was whipping up this delicious and hearty dahl recipe.

Potato and Lentil Dahl

You will need

1 cup red lentils
1 onion
1 tspn crushed garlic
2 tbspns curry paste (any flavour)
400g potato, peeled, sliced and cooked
500g pumpkin, peeled, sliced and cooked
3 sticks of celery diced
1/2 cup of light sour cream
150g of baby spinach

- So firstly, put your lentils in a saucepan and cover with water, simmer for 15mins or until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender. You may need to add more water.
- Meanwhile in a large frypan over medium heat, add your onion, celery, garlic and curry paste. Cook for 2 mins or until curry paste is fragrant and onion is tender.
- Add pumpkin and potato. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 mins or until mixture is thick.
- Stir through spinach and sour cream.
- Serve and enjoy!

I find this is a good way to get my partner to eat lentils, during the cooking process the mixture thickens to the point where you don't realise you are eating a big bowl of vegetarian goodness! This recipe does serve 4 normal portion sizes, but we tend to have 2 massive bowls of it for tea and it still comes in at around 500 cals depending on the sour cream you use, plus it's mega filling and really tasty - what more could you want on a rainy night?

No really...serious question, whats your favourite thing to do / eat on a rainy miserable night??

Em x

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the absence of plans....

....the universe will always find something for you to do! Today I had no plans except for doing the groceries and passing out on the couch with an endless supply of tea and a good book...however, early this morning we got a txt msg from OH's niece saying she was bored, so I offered to go pick her and her younger sister up so they could spend the day at our place.

We started by making Harry Potter cupcakes.....

Then we had a fashion parade where OH and the groomsmen tried on their suits for the wedding and the girls scored them as they walked down the 'runway'....personally I think they scrubbed up really well!

Then we kicked the boys outside and we set ourselves up on the living room floor to make some jewellery.

The girls made themselves a bracelet and pair of earrings each and together we put together this charm bracelet which I thought was really cute!

We have just taken the girls home and I am exhausted, but it was a great day, I had heaps of fun, and in reality, heaps better then spending the day laying around doing nothing. We made a date for next Sunday as the girls want to get their own lil bead kits happening so they can make their own jewellery, I'm kinda chuffed that they wanna be like me...and just a tad clucky...but we don't need to tell OH that just yet!

Anyway, I am off for to lay on the couch with a book (just coz I didn't get to do it all day doesn't mean I shouldn't get to do it at all - at least now I've earn't it!!)

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!!

Em x

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chicken and Mozerella Rice Bake

This is one of OH's creations, he was doing night shift on Monday night and I must say its pretty cool to get home from work and having the house smell of melty cheesy goodness, and then finding that the source of that delicious smell, is pretty damn tasty too!

To make this Chicken and Mozerella Rice Bake you will need

400g chicken breast diced
1 x capsicum diced
1 x carrot diced
1 x onion diced
1 x celery stick diced
400g tin of peas and corn
250g pkt light grated mozarella or pizza cheese
2.5 cups stock
1.25 cups rice
mixed herbs
crushed basil
crushed garlic
400g diced tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Heat a fry pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2-3 mins.
Add the carrot, capsicum and celery and cook until soft.
Add the peas and corn, rice and stock and simmer for about 15mins or until liquid has been absorbed.
Pour vegie mix into a casserole dish.
Add chicken to fry pan and cook for 5-7 mins or until browned. Stir through diced tomatoes and add basil and garlic to taste.
Add chicken mix to the vegies and combine.
Top with grated cheese and mixed herbs. (I used pizza herbs - but you could use thyme or rosemary)
Bake for 45 mins or until cheese is golden. If cheese is browning too much just cover the dish with foil and un-cover for the last 10 mins of cooking.

Based on your personal preference you could dice the vegies really fine (making this dish great to hide vegies from the kidlets!) or you could leave them chunky.

I also find that the flavour in this dish develops more if baked the day before serving.

In fact I am heating some up for dinner as we speak! And on the subject of dinner, we went to Mum and Dad's last night and Mum made these awesome chicken schnitzel burgers toasted in the sandwich press using foccacias, cheese, chicken breast steaks and some tomatoes drizzled with vinegar, just like a counter meal, but 10 x better!! We also had some shoestring fries on the side with Mum's home made tomato relish, I like stirring a bit of mayo through some of my chutney...I know I'm odd....anyway that was the dinger on the microwave so that means its tea time!!

Happy Wednesday everyone - did I mention I only have 2.5 weeks of work left!!!

Em xx


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