Monday, August 29, 2011

All the colours of the rainbow.....

...well nearly anyway!

We certainly had a very colour filled weekend!

First off, I received a voucher via to get 7 assorted and beautifully gift wrapped macarons from Sweet Envy in Hobart for just $7! Helloooooo bargain! We finally got to pick them up late last week and they looked a lil something like this

Now in there somewhere we have Blueberry and Lemon, Chocolate Praline, Lemon Creme, English Toffee, Mocha, Rose and Apple and Blackberry. They were delicious, each one had a delicate buttercream filling and right in the centre, a suprise pocket of lemon curd or blackberry jam or soft caramel! Yum Yum Yum!!

Then on Friday my cousin Janine asked me if I could possibly put on my cupcake fairy wings and make two dozen cupcakes for her son's birthday party on Saturday. Could I ever!! I found out that Kai's favourite colour was orange and from that moment onward I was just itching to get home and get started on them! As always I planned to simply make the cupcakes and the frosting Friday night, bung it all in the fridge and do all the decorating on Saturday....and as always that didn't happen. I made everything and as soon as the cakes were cooled I started decorating my little heart out (I really do get too excited by all this baking caper...)

The look on Kai's face when we delivered them was priceless...almost as good as when he slyly pinched a car off one of them before the guests arrived! But you do get certain privelages as the birthday boy I suppose!

And last but not least, my new favourite obsession....I have been having this for afternoon tea at work every day and you know I have tried tins of spaghetti, soup, rice cakes and philly, cereal, porridge you name it...but nothing satisfies and keeps me from snacking when I get home like this does. One apple, 3 strawberries and 2 dates all sliced up. It takes me about an hour to eat because I just pick whilst I'm working and it is so good!! Would be yummy with a dollop of yoghurt on top too....on a cold winter's morning...whilst snuggled in my warm cosy bed with a book and a cup of tea....can't wait for my next day off so I can try that out actually...granted I do have yoghurt at work and could easily try it tomorrow, but I think it's important to try it as the whole package complete with electric blanket and rain falling on the roof :)

Happy Monday!!

Em x

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lemon Chicken - the lighter way!

My god....can I just start off by saying thank crikey it's Friday! This morning started off fairly slow at work....slow to the point where I was concerned the day was going to drag....however the universe heard my call (possibly a little too clearly) and things got very hectic very quick! My brain hurts, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I would like something alcoholic, possibly combined with ice cream and hot chips whilst getting a nice relaxing massage. But let's be honest...that's not going to happen...and it would also most likely be nothing like it is in my instead I made this lemon chicken, now I'm sitting down in my pjs, with my feet up, drinking a cold midori and lemonade sharing the recipe with you, and there is ice cream in the freezer and macaroons in the cupboard so it's not all bad.

OH asked me to make chinese lemon chicken earlier in the week and I thought it sounded like a great idea, but all the recipes I could find involved deep frying the chicken and that just didn't work for me. So we made some slight adjustments and this is what we ended up with.......

Lemon Chicken
500g diced chicken breast
2 tbspns plain flour
salt and pepper
1 tbspn cornflour
1 tbspn cold water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbspn honey
Fried or Steamed Rice to serve

Combine the chicken, plain flour, salt and pepper in a freezer bag. Give it a good shake to coat the chicken.

In a greased fry pan over medium high heat, cook the chicken until a light golden colour.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, combine the cornflour and cold water in a jug and stir to form a paste. Add the lemon juice, stock and honey. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 40 seconds and stir to combine. You may want to season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit and cool whilst the chicken is cooking.

Once the chicken has is nearly done, pour the sauce into the pan and stir to coat chicken. Cook for 3-4 mins. Once the chicken is cooked remove the pan from the heat. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve with fried rice, steamed rice or steamed vegies :)

I hope you have all had a great week and have fantastic things planned for you weekends :) I am making orange (the colour, not the fruit or the flavour or even the town!) themed cupcakes for a little boy's birthday tomorrow afternoon and I have been asked to make a Lego cake for another little boy's birthday next week! And did I mention I think I have found a new car?? Definetly some exciting times ahead!! Stay tuned for photos, updates, ramblings and the occasional recipe!!

Em x

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rustic Lamb and Sweet Potato Pie

I am a big believer that we partially eat with our eyes and I totally understand the need to make dishes look appealing and appetizing, but sometimes I think a rustic homestyle dish can look so much more impressive and appealing then a mega styled restaurant dish....

Take this pie for example....

It looks looks home made...just by looking at it you know it was made with love by someone who wanted YOU to enjoy it...

This pie is actually very very easy and delicious to boot...not to mention once you've got the basics down, it's also very versatile! I think I just seriously over used the word 'very' but you see my point!

Lamb and Sweet Potato Pie
1.5 cups plain flour
125g Flora Ultra Light Margarine (I know it's traditional to use butter in pastry, but in an effort to conserve calories I tried this and it worked!)
2 tbspns cold water
1 small zucchini (grated or finely diced)
1 small sweet potato (grated or finely diced)
1 small onion finely diced
1 tspn paprika
1 tspn allspice
1/4 cup mixed herbs such as rosemary, thyme and garlic
350g lean lamb mince
1 tbspn extra margarine (melted)
Salt and Pepper
Natural Yoghurt to serve

Pre-heat oven to 200C fan forced.

Using an electric mixer with dough hooks or a food processor, process the flour and butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water and process until the mixture just comes may need to add slightly more flour or water or butter here to get the right consistency, just be brave and use your judgement. If you are using an electric mixer, mix the dough until it reaches a smooth consistency. Refigerate the dough for 15-20 mins while you complete the next step.

In a bowl combine the zucchini, sweet potato, herbs, onion, paprika, allspice and mince. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and press into the base and sides of a large greased baking dish. Spoon the lamb mixture over the dough but don't be too fussy about going all the way to the edges. Fold the sides down over the filling to form sort of an open top pie. Brush the pastry with melted butter and bake for 45 mins or until pastry is golden. Serve pie with a dollop of yoghurt.

The only change I would make is a) have the camera battery charged so you can get a photo of the whole pie fresh out of the oven when it looks it's most specky....and b) scatter say 50-80g of crumbled fetta over the top of the pie before baking...mmmm gooey melty fetta!!

And last night OH and I went to Mum and Dad's for tea. As soon as we got out of the car we were greeted with the smell of Mum's chow mein and once that scent hit our nostrils we were up the drive and inside quick smart! Mum had decided to walk on the wild side and try adding tofu to her chow mein rather then chicken or tuna....not only was this a major step in itself, but it was also the first time Mum and Dad had cooked with tofu. Mum had picked up some sesame tofu nuggets at the supermarket and I must say the sesame seeds and the tofu itself added a layer of flavour and texture to the chow mein that just took it to a whole new level....the tried and tested family favourite has just had a tofu make over!!

Doesn't it make your mouth water just looking at it?

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Em x

Monday, August 22, 2011

P is for Pretzels....

....and thats good enough for me!

Now OH keeps telling me that they look like certain other things beginning with P (and I don't mean pony or penguin or any other nice p words you can think of....) but considering they taste delicious and he is devouring them faster then I can cook them I am thinking we will just let that one slide.

This recipe is for Hard Pretzels

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 tbspn sugar
2 tspns salt
1.5 tspns ative dry yeast
4.5 cups plain flour
Rock Salt

Combine the warm water, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam.

Add the flour and, using the dough hook attachment for your mixer, beat until well combined. The mixture should eventually (after 4-5 mins) form a smooth dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Sit the bowl in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 -3 baking trays with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Mega important or your pretzels will end up with paper stuck to the bottom side of them...good idea if you want extra fibre in your diet, not a good idea if sharing with guests...people look at you funny when you serve them paper coated food - trust me!

Place enough water into a large saucepan to come 1/3 of the way up the sides and bring to a boil over high heat.

Divide the dough into portions and roll out each piece into a stick. Now you can leave them as sticks or play around and make cool shapes, the choice is totally yours. I recommend making the pretzel shapes though, just coz they look cool :)

Now here is where you need assistance or you need to be able to multi-task. Drop 4-5 pretzels into the boiling water at a time. Leave them for 30 seconds and then remove them to your prepared trays. I had a couple boiling while I made the next 4-5 to go in, but I also had OH on stand by incase I needed back up!

Brush the pretzels with a little milk or melted butter and sprinkle with rock salt. Bake until pretzels are golden brown and hard, approximately 55 to 60 minutes.

These should store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

I know it's a touch bit involved, but it's worth it, honestly!!

OH also wanted me to show you his mega awesome salad roll that he made for tea the other night. I believe the layers went something like cheese cucumber tomato ham cheese cucumber tomato ham cheese cucumber tomato ham cheese cucumber tomato was pretty epic!

There really is nothing better then a fresh salad roll :)

Mmmmmm ham salad roll goodness!!!

Happy Monday everyone!!

Em x

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gingernut Snaps

I am just starting to realise something, something I'm not sure I'm happy about...

I used to leave work on Friday nights with a spring in my step, eager to get home and doll myself up and head to the pub for a few drinks, some dancing and a late night which would evidently result in an empty wallet and a sore head. It would appear that sometime in the last few years I have started to leave work, tired, eager to get home and put my pyjamas on, my mind wanders...not to the drinks I will have or the people I will meet, but what I can cook when I get home. Kind of like a celebration that the week has ended and the weekend has begun...but I am still not sure when baking rather then drinking became my relaxation technique.....although I must say it's not all bad, I much prefer to come home, put my pjs on, cook something delicious and spend the evening curled up on the couch with OH then come home, dress up, go out, get drunk, come home, put my deep fryer on and wake up with a ridiculous hangover!

Anyway, last night when I got home I decided to make some biscuits for OH's lunches. I had a flick through the AWW Sweet Old-fashioned Favourites cook book and found the perfect recipe!

Gingernut Snap Biscuits

90g butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 1/3 cups plain flour
3/4 tspn bicarb
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tbspn ground ginger

Pre-heat oven to 150C. Grease 3 baking trays.

Combine the butter, sugar and syrup together in a bowl. Microwave for 40-60 seconds or until everything is melted together.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.

Roll tbspns of the mixture into balls and place on the trays 2-3 cms apart. Push the balls down with the back of a fork....this is not only effective, but it makes them look pretty too!

Bake for 10-12 mins and then let the biscuits cool on the trays for 15 mins.

Ohhhhhh is there anything better then a biscuit that is crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside?? These biscuits are sort of like a hybrid between a crisp gingernut snap and soft and chewy gingerbread men....and let me tell's the perfect combination!

While these were in the oven I also made some pikelets and some beef and mushroom sausage rolls...but the fun doesn't end there - currently we have hard pretzels baking in the oven....I can't wait to try them because they smell delicious! Stay tuned later in the week for the recipe!

And guess what I did today!! I took my lil bike out all on my own, I got up early this morning while OH was in bed, put a liberty bell in each pocket and got the bike ready to go! I only went maybe 10 mins up the road and back but it was my first ride on the actual road with noone watching me or following me, it was just lil ol me! It felt great, all the stress and the panic whilst I was learning finally paid off...I mean I'm not quite ready to hit the highway and head for Sturgis just yet...but I'm getting closer!

Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend

Em xx

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lime and Chilli Chicken Burgers

A few weeks ago at work I was given a bag of small limes and told to 'bake my little heart out' with to me that was a great idea, I had never cooked with fresh limes before and immediately buried myself in recipes trying to figure out what to create....I even asked OH what he would like me to make with them as he loves lime flavoured meals....minor detail that the bag of 'limes' turned out to be dwarf lemons...I soldiered on with the sweet dishes I wanted to make but I thought for OH's savoury dish I better get an actual lime as Lemon and Chilli Chicken Burgers just didn't have the same ring to it!

Anyway, these burgers were super easy, full of flavour and relatively healthy! I think they would make fantastic kebabs or meatloaf as well but even just serving the burgers in rolls with fresh salad would be a simple and delicious meal.

Lime and Chilli Chicken Burgers
500g chicken breast
2 tspn crushed ginger
2 tspn crushed garlic
1 tbspn soy sauce
1 tbspn brown sugar
1 tspn crushed chilli
Juice from 2 small limes

Pre-heat oven to about 180C.

Now all I did was put all the ingredients into the food processor and give them a good whizz. Once they were well and truly processed I just shaped them into patties
and placed them on a lined oven tray. Bake for 20-25mins or until golden.

Serve with salad and fresh rolls or steamed vegies.

A quick and easy mid-week meal that will have people believing you spent hours preparing it and in total dis-belief when they find out it took all of 5 minutes!

Happy Wednesday!

Em x

Monday, August 15, 2011

RSPCA Cupcake Day 2011

Today was a pretty special day, not only was it the 2011 RSPCA Cupcake Day which meant a big morning tea at work to raise money....but it was also the day that the craft group at work were decorating cupcakes for their craft activity and donating the proceeds to the RSPCA. You know, raising the money for the RSPCA gives me that wamr fuzzy feeling but watching the craft group decorating their cupcakes this morning just took that to a whole new level....see for yourself...

And everyone was so proud of their creations....

And just goes to're never too old to lick the spoon!!

I still haven't stopped smiling, definitely one of the best things I've been involved in....put smiles on people's faces and raised money for a good cause :)

Happy Cupcake Day!!

Em x

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What a week.....

Well this week has been an interesting one....

There have been big things going on at work and I have been baking for at least 2-3 hours a night to clear my head at the end of some very long days....

But let's not dwell on that....let me show you what has been good this week....

OH brought me some gorgeous flowers :)

Mum and Dad cooked us this very tasty baked brie in a white wine sauce and served with fresh crusty bread :)

And my book arrived!!! For my one year blogging anniversary I decided to buy myself a book....and not just any old book, but my book! I used to turn my blog into a hardcover book and it finally arrived yesterday morning and as soon as the post lady was out of ear shot there was lots of singing and dancing and squealing! It's so much cooler then I could have imagined and a great record of not only the last 12 months of my life but all my recipes etc....did I mention it's really really cool? I just like the idea that even though I have the only copy, it's a printed version of my blog, my recipes and my life that I can sit on the book shelf and pass onto my kids one day :) It's definitely something I'm going to do every year as a little treat for myself :)

It's now Sunday afternoon and I am exhausted. On Friday night I went out to dinner with some ladies from work to a restaurant called Me-Wah that does fantastic chinese food....I was so impressed I'm taking OH and his Mother back tonight!

Then yesterday OH and I went for a ride on the bikes, it's been a few weeks since I have taken my bike out so I was abit concerned I would have forgotten everything but we decided it was about time I hit the road for real so I rode all by myself up and around the roads in our area with cars and everything! It was the first time I had ridden on a proper road and it was very exciting and more dancing, squealing and general excitement ensued when we got home! Then we went to visit OH's grandfather, had an awesome ham salad roll for lunch and went to watch some of OH's friends play footy. It was bloody cold but I was rugged up to the eye balls and for the first time in a long time, I even had a can of beam....I mean we were at the footy so it was only fair! Then OH and I went and got some pizza (I was really lashing out today huh!) and went home to curl up and watch a movie.

This morning we had a leisurely sleep in and brekkie in bed and that was pretty much where the relaxating ended! Tomorrow is the actual RSPCA Cupcake Day so I had to make some food for a fundraiser morning tea at work...sounds easy hey? Well for this I did some mini cupcakes, some lemon tarts, some mini quiches and some home made chocolates....simple....but I also had to make 120 cupcakes for the craft group at work. I work in an organisation that does community care for the elderly and disabled and we also have a day centre where there are music groups and craft groups and all sorts of activities for people to come and enjoy. Tomorrow there is a craft group and because it's Cupcake Day they are going to decorate cupcakes for their activity. So I am providing the cupcakes, the frosting and the decorations and they are donating the proceeds from the group to the RSPCA which is fantastic :) It meant a hell of alot of baking today and right now I feel slightly unwell, exhausted and like I never want to bake ever again, but it's so worth it :)

Anyway, I better be off, have to straighten my hair / get the cupcake batter out of it, before we go out for dinner! I'll post photos of the morning tea and the craft group decorating their cupcakes tomorrow!!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend :)

Em x

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blueberry Pikelets

I think I mentioned the other day that I was given a heap of recipe books from my Nan? Well over the last week or two I have slowly been going through them and it’s like being drawn into a whole other world. Sometimes I swear I was born in the wrong era. Looking through these books at the old fashioned desserts, the classic recipes, the baking, it just blows my mind and at the same time it makes me sad. I have nothing against people using packet mixes and short cuts in recipes because there never seems to be enough time to do anything these days, but the idea that some of that classic cooking and old fashioned baking will slowly start to disappear does make me sad. I think there is nothing better than a house filled with the smells of freshly baked biscuits and cakes, the look on people’s faces when you present them with an impressive looking dessert and knowing you made it from scratch, the sounds of people happily devouring a bowl of something that you know is filled with fresh flavours and real hearty cooking, knowing that your loved ones lunch boxes are filled with goodies from your own kitchen.....

I know I take short cuts sometimes, but I prefer not to and when I have a little one, I can’t wait to pass it all on to them....

And one of my favourite old fashioned classics is the humble pikelet. This recipe came about because I made some traditional pikelets for OH’s lunches and they looked so good I made some more with blueberries for our dessert that week. If you would prefer the traditional version, just omit the blueberries, simple!

Blueberry Pikelets

2 cups plain flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence
½ cup caster sugar
200g frozen blueberries

Combine the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Beat well.
Gradually add the flour and stir until combined.
Stir through the frozen blueberries. Stir until they are just mixed in. If you get too excited your pikelet mixture will turn blue....but then again blue pikelets would be pretty cool...mine had a slight purple tinge and it just adds to that whole blueberry feel stir away!!

Now I cheat and cook mine in the pancake maker lol but you can melt some butter in a fry pan and add heaped teaspoons of your mixture. Once bubbles start to appear on the surface flip them over and cook the other side for a few seconds. They really don’t take long to cook at all.

With pikelets it is almost mandatory that you have some of them fresh out of the pan....some cold with jam and cream....and some piled high with ice cream, maple syrup, whipped cream and some leftover blueberries for dessert!!

The other great thing about pikelets is they will last for ages in the fridge or the freezer so whip up a big batch, let the kids take them in their lunch boxes, enjoy one with a cuppa when you get a quiet moment or whip them out when guests drop over for dessert....although they are that good you may not want to share!

Happy Wednesday!

Em xx

Friday, August 5, 2011

Two of my favourite things.....

Shoes and Baking!

What could be better then combining shoes and baking?

I mean you could bake yourself a pair of shoes...but I'm really not sure how you would go wearing them....

Or you could bake yourself a cake...with a shoe theme....and serve it to all your friends? Doesn't that sound like a much better option?

Lemon Yoghurt Cake
¾ cup of vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tbspn finely grated lemon rind
2 tbspn lemon juice
1 cup thick natural yoghurt
1.5 cups caster sugar
2 cups self raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 180C
Combine the oil, eggs, lemon rind, lemon juice, yoghurt and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.
Add the flour and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a greased and lined tin and bake for 35 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

This cake was beautifully moist and it was dense, yet light enough to just melt in your mouth with that beautiful lemon flavour.

And what better way to complete your cake then with this lemon and blueberry buttercream....believe me it is out of this world!

Lemon and Blueberry Buttercream Frosting
250g softened butter
3-4 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup fresh blueberries, pureed with 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-3 tablespoons very cold milk (add until you reach desired consistency)

Cook the blueberries with the lemon juice in the microwave for 30-40 seconds or until they are nice and mushy.
In the bowl of an electric mixer add the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and blueberries. Mix well.
Add the milk and some more icing sugar if the mixture is not thick enough.
Continue beating and adding icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
You also might want to add more lemon juice / blueberries depending on your tastes

The combination of the fluffy frosting bursting with real fruit flavours and the melt in your mouth lemon cake was unreal, it disappeared in minutes at work today and to be honest I lost count of how many slices I had!

So enjoy your weekend, bake a cake, buy some new shoes, do something just because it makes you smile :)

Em x

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A non-food related post??

That is practically un-heard of around here!!

But I thought I would give you a break from the recipes and the cooking and baking (although believe me there is still plenty of that going on!) and show you what else I do when I am not in the kitchen.

I love to relax with a good book.

I love to curl up with a hot cup of tea / coffee and watch trashy TV.

I love to pour over recipes trying to decide what to make next.

I love going out for dinner and trying new things and discovering new places.

I love to get out and about with my partner, visit quiet little cafes, go to markets and just generally explore the state I live in.

I love going out for brekkie / brunch with my friends and having some girl time.

I also love to make jewellery, I have done so for years and years. Every piece I make is unique because I will never make two the same and as much as I would love to keep them all, I would need a room just for my earrings so a few years ago I started my own little side business called The Gothic Playground and started selling on Ebay, Etsy and at local car shows and markets. Unfortunately it's not quite enough to let me leave my day job just yet, but I love it all the same. So here is a sneak peak at some of the items I have been making over the last few days....

If you want to see the full range you can like The Gothic Playground on facebook or just contact me through here :)

Happy Wednesday!!

Em x

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lemon Pasta Bake

Continuing with our mozarella theme for the week, last night OH and I attempted something slightly out of the box for us....Lemon Pasta this may seem completely normal to most of you....lemons, cheese, pasta, spinach, fresh herbs, what is not to love? But for us, lemon flavouring is usually reserved for cheesecakes and curds and butter...not for savoury meals, but we thought what the need to live in the fast lane occsionally right?!

Lemon Pasta Bake

250g pasta
1 tspn crushed garlic
500g extra light ricottoa
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
200g mozarella shredded plus extra for serving
80g parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
80g baby spinach leaves
200g sliced button mushrooms
Zest from one lemon
1.5 tbspn lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or a combination of herbs

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a large bowl combine the ricotta, egg, milk, baking soda, mozarella and parmesan. Then stir in the mushrooms, spinach, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs.

Stir in pasta and pour into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan and season with a generous sprinkle of cracked pepper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is nice and golden.

To start with I was very unsure of the lemon flavour, but the herbs really off-set it beautifully and this is quite a nice dish!

Just goes to show it always pays to try something new!

Em x

Serves 4


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