Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year was one of THE best yet....

Normally OH and I spend the day bouncing around between my parents and his Mother and step mother....

The day is always fantastic but it is also exhausting and OH and I normally get home mega late and are always buggered when we do our presents together...

This year the universe smiled upon us, we had dinner with OH's Mum and brothers and sisters a few days before Christmas, on Christmas Eve we had our traditional 8 ball tournament with Mum and Dad before dinner with OH's step Mum and family which left Christmas Day to spend with my parents and we even got to squeeze in some time to ourselves!

And on Christmas morning when I woke up, our christmas lillies were out, they looked as gorgeous as they smelt :)

OH got to live his childhood dream of being in Ghostbusters (I've never seen someone so excited about a spraying backpack!)

I got to live my adulthood dream of being in the roller derby (except I've never skated before so the only injuries I was causing were to myself....there was lots of screaming, pleading, giggling and begging for my life...)

Then it was onto Mum and Dad's, as always the table was beautifully set...

And we were greeted with a spread of biscuits, cheeses,salad, seasoned chicken breast, dolmades, dips and of course freshly dug new potatoes! All washed down with some midori (very festively coloured if you have the melon and the strawberry!)

On Christmas Day it is compulsory to wear your Christmas hat or your Christmas ears!

And because any Christmas brunch is not complete without dessert, we finished off with some fresh strawberries, chocolate cream and wafer straws :)

OH and I headed home mid afternoon and had the rest of our presents together. For the first time ever we had dinner together on Christmas night. We even had a few drinks and curled up on the bean bags watching a movie and it was the perfect end to a perfect Christmas season.

And at the end of the day, there is nothing better then spending Christmas time with your family....

And seeing the excitement on someone's face when you give them something they really really wanted...

All in all, the day was.....

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas with your families and friends.

Em x

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Pudding (without the pudding!)

As most of you know, my OH is not a 'cakey' person...

Cake has to be disguised as some sort of dessert....

But Christmas pudding is a total no go.... so each year when Mum gives me some of her Christmas pudding, I like to make something special for OH and this year I thought I would make him his very own Christmas pudding, but without the pudding part!

All I did was....

line a pudding steamer with cling wrap

Line the base and sides with sliced chocolate sponge roll

Fill with softened caramel ice cream and place in the freezer for 3-4 hours

Cover the top with sponge roll as well.

Freeze overnight.

The following night combine 1/3 cup cream, 2 tbspns brown sugar and 80g white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 40 second bursts until well combined. Allow to cool for 5 mins.

Remove the pudding from the mould and pour over the cooled sauce.

Place mint leave and jaffas on top to create the 'pudding effect'

An easy Christmas dessert that looks impressive, tastes delicious and will keep the non-pudding lovers happy!!

Em x

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just thought I would stop by and say Merry Christmas and thank you for all your support throughout the year :) 2012 is a big year for OH and I, we get married in 14 days!! Then we are off to Europe for a belated honeymoon in May!!

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, filled with love, laughter and goodies!!

Em and Tynan xx

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mum's Bishops Cake

When I was younger I remember my Mum baking up a storm at Christmas time - there were puddings and cakes and mini truffles and all sorts of goodies. One of the things I remember most is this Bishops Cake. Mum always used to make a heap of them and then cut them in half and give them away as gifts to people. I used to think it was a bit rough giving people half a cake, but now i understand why....they look so pretty when they are cut and I believe the name comes from the fact that they look like a stained glass window when cut - to be honest when I was little I thought it was because the nuts in the top looked like a Bishops Hat...hey, it's totally plausible!

Anyway, this year I wanted to make something to give a few of the special people in my life and this was the first thing that came to mind - it's delicious, it's pretty and it's easy, ticks all the boxes!!

Now this recipe makes 1 tall loaf or I actually doubled the recipe and baked it in a sheet pan which gave me 8 decent sized squares...they weren't as tall as the ones I remember Mum making, but still looked great!

All you need is:

250g brazil nuts
250g macadamia nuts
12 pitted dates
2 glace pineapple circles cut into chunks
6 glace apricots sliced
1 cup red and green glace cherries
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 150C

Grease a 21x11cm loaf tin or a large sheet cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Place the nuts and fruit in a bowl.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the fruit.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until nice and thick. Pour over the fruit and nut mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into prepared tin - try to arrange it so you get a good mix of everything.

Bake for around 45 - 60mins. I recommend checking it at 45mins with a skewer, if the cake is golden and the skewer is clean then it's done, if not, give it another 10-15mins.

Allow the cake to cool before removing from pan and peeling off the baking paper.

Now like I said before, if you are giving this away and you make a single loaf, then cut it in half or if you make a sheet cake, cut into nice squares. I recommend using an electric knife to cut it as it looks really pretty with a nice straight edge. I have wrapped all my pieces in two layers of cling wrap and then in some cellophane and they make really nice gifts to give to people, plus you get the added bonus of a home made pressie :)

And Mum tells me this cake is best served sliced very thin (with your electric knife) with a nice tasty cheese!

Em x

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Chocolate Cups

I love these!! OH and I made some of these yesterday and I'm going to make some more later in the week for the Christmas Day lunch my work holds every year. They are so quick and easy and they just look adorable!!

All you will need for the tartlets is:

250g packet Arnott's Butternut Snap Cookies
1/3 cup cream
200g milk or dark chocolate melts
65g unsalted butter, chopped
(If you don't have unsalted butter, use the salted and add 1/2 cup caster sugar)

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Place butter, cream and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium high in 40 second bursts, stirring inbetween until melted and smooth.

Pour into clean and dry bowl and refrigerate until cool but not set - approx 20 minutes.

Place 12 biscuits over each hole of a twelve hole patty pan tin.

Bake for 2-3 minutes or until soft.

Remove from oven then carefully press softened biscuits into tin with the back of a spoon to mould into a cup shape. Allow to cool. Remove from tin and transfer to serving plate. Repeat with remaining biscuits.

Fill biscuit cases with 1 heaped teaspoon of chocolate mixture then place in refrigerator for about 20mins or until set.

Now here is where it's good to get the kids...or OH involved! Line up your jaffas, marshmallows (big and small), spearmint leaves, star shaped pretzels (found in the bags of mini pretzels) and 1/2 cup chocolate frosting on the bench like so...

To make the little reindeers....
Cut a regular marshmallow in half and place cut side down for the snout.
Stick a jaffa to the marshmallow using some chocolate frosting.
Place two mini marshmallows onto the tart for the eyes. Add a small drop of black food writing gel or chocolate frosting to the eye whites.
Cut mini star shaped pretzels in half and gently push into chocolate filling to make ears.

To make the little holly leaves....
Place a jaffa in the middle of the tart.
Place two spear mint leaves on either side to make the leaves.

These really are very easy and something great to get the kids involved in this Christmas :) even if you don't have little kids, I recommend making these with a friend, is there anything better then sitting in your kitchen with someone you love creating something yummy and adorable!

Hope you all have a fantastic week :)

Em x
Em x

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites

Want a quick, easy and delicious Christmas treat? Then try these Mini Gingerbread Cheesecakes...

All you need is....
1 pkt gingerbread cookie mix (you can find it with the cake mixes at the supermarket)
250g cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla essence

Heat oven to 180C and grease a 12 hole muffin tray - you will probably only use 8 holes though.

Make the gingerbread dough up as per packet directions.

Shape 1 heaped tablespoon of dough into a ball and place into each muffin cup.

Press thumb or use two teaspoons to make a deep indentation in the centre of each ball.

Using an electric mixer beat the icing sugar, vanilla and cream cheese until smooth.

Spoon the filling into the indentations.

Bake for about 10-12 mins or until a skewer inserted into the gingerbread comes out almost clean.

Allow them to cool completely before removing.

Store in the fridge :)

Not long now!!!!

Em x

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roast Vegetable and Polenta Stacks

Have you got your Christmas tree up yet?

Last year I made a vow that this year I would have my tree up at the start of December, it would be up for the entire Christmas season and our house would be a virtual Christmas wonderland.....

Apparently I lied. So due to issues coordinating everyone and holidays and wedding planning commitments, here we are, nearly half way through December, 12 days out from Christmas and we are just putting our tree up. Granted our home is more festive and has more decorations then usual so thats one part achieved at year I will conquer you tree just you wait!!

Look at that cheeky little elf in the background!

Anyway, on Monday night, Mum and Dad came up to help OH and I put the tree up so I thought the least I could do was feed them!

This recipe is dead easy, not to mention light and packed full of flavour!

All you need is:

1 cup of polenta
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of milk
1 jar of basil pesto
2 red onions cut into small wedges
4 roma tomatoes quartered
2 zucchini thinly sliced lengthways
1 red capsium cut into chunks
2 bbq flat mushrooms sliced
200g of extra light ricotta

Ok so the night before combine the polenta, stock, water, milk and half of the pesto in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave covered for 6 minutes on high, but stop and give it a stir every 2 minutes. Continue in 2 minute bursts until all the liquid is absorbed and you have a nice thick mixture, pour into a greased slice tin or oven dish and pop it in the fridge overnight.

The next night....

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Grease an oven dish and add the onion, tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum and mushrooms. Bake for 40-45 mins, giving them a toss occasionally.

Combine the ricotta with the remaining pesto and place back in the fridge.

When the vegies have about 20 mins remaining, get the polenta out of the fridge. Slice into 8 even bits and place in an oven tray. Bake for 15 mins or until the vegies are done.

Now to dish up I just placed one of the polenta slices on the plate and spread it with a spoonful of the ricotta mixture. Spoon over 1/4 of the vegies and top with a big dollop of the ricotta mixture. Finish with another slice of polenta and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Oh yum!! That polenta with the pesto mixed through it is just bursting with flavour!

A great light and easy meal for a warm summer's evening :)

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

Em x

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Bridal Knees Up :)

Yep, that’s me baby....a bride....I still can’t quite match the word up with myself in my head you know, like me? A bride? Are you insane? And like that wasn’t hard enough, being a Bride means having a Hen’s night and that is something I just never ever thought would happen. Like the idea of a typical Hen’s night didn’t interest me much....but then the ladies I work with introduced me to their idea of a Hen’s night and I was sold!

Invitations went out a few weeks ago and all they told us was where to meet.....that we would be doing a local version of The Amazing Race...and to bring food, a picnic blanket and a torch....oh and you had to travel in car loads and did I mention each car / team had to have a theme??? Eeeeeekkkkk.

My team consisted of my gorgeous bridesmaid Ali, my beautiful Mother and two of my longest and most treasured friends, Alice and Alana. Our team decided to run with the Bridal theme, thrown in with some hot pink, some black and some bling! I made all of our shirts with iron on transfers and stick on rhinestones and they came up really well!

OH’s sisters came as the ‘Monsters In Law’ – how cute were their shirts!!

There was also a team of Pirates and Wenches complete with fake tattoos, tea leaf stubble and blacked out teeth– definitely winner of the best costume award

And the Grey Nomads, purely based on colour, not on age!

The night started at a local park where we were given our first challenge. There was a huge slide that went down the side of a hill and you got 10 points for each team member that went down the slide in a certain time frame....I’m sure we looked hilarious but it was so much fun, the worst part was walking back up the hill to do it all again!

Next it was back in the cars with 3 pages worth of cryptic clues to guide us on our race....along the way there were various questions to answer and challenges to complete, it was so much fun, although we did get horribly lost, we still managed to have a ball doing it! After making our was around most of Sandy Bay, Taroona and Kingston, our team arrived at the final destination (albeit half an hour after everyone else.....) which was a stunning property with an equally stunning garden. The other teams had set up all the picnic blankets and food down by the pond and we had ourselves a very civilised waterfront picnic.

Then it was time for games! There was ring toss....I think you can imagine what we were throwing rings on....and using my Hen’s Night super powers I actually got one on!! OH’s sister also managed to get one on so I think this means she is next in line!!! And we also had a bit of a scavenger hunt which saw ladies running around the property like women possessed....obviously because the prize was chocolates!!

And what Hen’s Night would be complete without a jelly cake???

And here is the cake I made to take on the night too :) It was part of our theme as it matched the one on my top!

So whilst our team may not have won the race, it didn’t matter...I am very lucky and feel very honoured that people went to so much trouble for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better night or better people to spend it with.

Em x

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mini Boozy Christmas Pudding Cake Balls

Tomorrow night is a big night for me :) Awhile ago you may remember I wrote a post about a Bridal Knees Up that I went to which was organised by some ladies I work with for two of our co-workers who were about to get married....well this weekend it's my turn! I'm so excited and nervous and scared all in one because a) I never thought I would have a hen's night and b) all any of us know is where to meet up and that it's kind of going to be like the amazing race...that's it!!

Anyway I have been working on a cake to take to the party tomorrow night (stay tuned for a full run down on the night AND the cake!!) and I had a big bowl full of mud cake off cuts that I had big plans for!

So you will need:

Roughly 3-4 cups of mud cake
1/2 cup of chocolate frosting
60ml of whiskey
Red glace cherries (halved)
375g of milk or dark chocolate melts
100g of white chocolate melts

To make these I crumbled up the mud cake off cuts, added the chocolate frosting and whiskey and mixed it all up until it was holding together well. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Roll tbspns of the mixture into balls (or I used my lil gadget that puts holes in and fills cupcakes to make them nice even shapes) and place on a lined tray and back in the fridge for a few more hours.

Melt the milk or dark chocolate in 50g batches. Roll the balls in the chocolate to cover and using a fork or a toothpick place them back on the tray and repeat with remaining chocolate and balls and you guessed it, back in the fridge till set.

Melt the white chocolate and drizzle a teaspoon over the top of each pudding. Top with 1/2 a red glace cherry. Back in the fridge one last time and your done!!

Oh yummmmm....mud cake...chocolate...glace cherries and hellloooo whiskey!!!

Happy Friday night everyone :)

Em x

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Candy Cane Whoopie Pies

The first week of December is always very exciting in our house, not only does it mean the onset of Christmas but it also means the Toy Run. The Toy Run is where thousands of bikes, laden with toys, ride together into the city where we fill up the waiting Salvation Army trucks, have a drink and just revel in the fact that the entire waterfront is just full of bikes as far as the eye can see....and anyone who rides a bike will know the sound of all those bikes thundering down the highway is incredible...but what I love the most? All the people that come out and line the streets, the excited kids, the families, the oldies, it just attracts everyone and being a part of it is the best feeling. Hopefully next year I will be confident and experienced enough to take my own bike :)

This year we were treated to an air show by 6 jets whilst we were down at the waterfront.

Dad's bike, my Uncle's new bike and OH's bike

OH and I ready for a drink in the sun and a sticky beak at all the bikes!

The onset of Christmas to me means Christmas trees and decorations and lots of time with family and friends....but it also means christmas baking! My head is filled with ideas involving marshmallows and gingerbread and reindeer and holly sprigs...but at the top of my list??

These Candy Cane Whoopie Pies!

For the whoopie pies I used the Classic Chocolate Whoopie recipe from Amy Treadwell's Whoopie Pie cookbook, although I halved it, and I also adapted the Mint Buttercream recipe from that book as well.

Classic Chocolate Whoopies

Just under 1 cup of plain flour (about .8 or .9 of a cup)
1/3 cup cocoa
.75 tspn baking soda
1/4 tspn salt
4 tbspns butter melted
.5 cup sugar
1 egg
.5 cup milk

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth.

If the mixture seems too thin, let it sit for a few mins and it will thicken up.

Heat the oven to 180C and spray 2 x baking trays or whoopie pie trays with cooking spray.

Drop tbspns of the batter onto trays about 3-4cms apart. Place the trays in the oven, one at a time for 10 mins or until they spring back when lightly touched.

Allow the cakes to cool before filling.

Candy Cane Buttercream

2 cups icing sugar
125g butter
1 tspn peppermint essence
1/2 tspn strawberry essence
1-2 drops pink food colouring (you might not need this if your strawberry essence is pink)
12 long candy canes

Combine everything except the candy canes in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat well. The buttercream should be nice and thick. The best way to check it is to get a tablespoon full and hold it upside down, if it holds its shape and stays on the spoon it's good! Set the frosting aside.

Carefully snap the top ends off your candy canes to creat 12 mini candy canes. Set these aside.

Put the remaining candy cane ends in a freezer bag (I suggest double bagging), take them outside and bash them with a mallet until they are nice and crushed.

Now for the assembly!

Take 1 of your whoopie pies and place a good tablespoon of filling in the centre. Top with another whoopie pie and squeeze the two gently together to push the filling out to the sides. Now roll the edges in the crushed candy cane. Place about 1/4 tspn of filling on top of the whoopie pie and push one of the mini candy canes into it. Repeat with remaining whoopie pies and filling.

These just look so cute!! And they taste amazing...believe me, we struggled not to eat all the filling while the whoopie pies were cooling down!!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Em x

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Birthday Suprises

So I think I mentioned to you all before that for OH's Bday I had decided to take him on a suprise holiday to Queensland (about a 3 hour flight from where we live...and about 20C warmer most days!)

We had the most amazing trip. The weather was gorgeous, the cocktails were cold, the view was stunning and the company was perfect :)

Let me show you the trip in pictures....

"SUPRISE!! We have a plane to catch!!"

Watching the sunset on our first night at Caloundra...

And enjoying some of the local lobster....

Looking down from our balcony to the resort's pool and jacuzzi....

We were up early every morning and down at the beach for a walk and paddle

Not far from where we were staying was the famous Ettamogah Pub, it's such a cool place!

And also in the area was the Big Pineapple....

And the Ginger Factory! I even found myself a sailor!

But who needs a sailor when you have a man like this??

There is also a chocolate shop at the Ginger Factory....would you believe these shoes are made of chocolate??? I don't know wether to eat them or wear them!

And how cute is this lil evil elf?? I just wanted to take him home!!

We even found a Harley shop....and I nearly came home with a new toy!

But that was nothing compared with what I wanted to bring home from here! This Christmas shop was HUGE and amazing, I felt like a kid on...well on christmas morning!!

We had lunch at a place called Legends Cafe which was like an old American Diner filled with all sorts of Warner Bros. and movie memorabillia...

...and then we checked into our next hotel which was located on the Gold Coast...and again the view was stunning (the beach looked pretty good too!!)

To try and escape the weather we went to an indoor mini golf course...OH blames the fact that he lost on having to constantly do battle with dinosaurs and being kidnapped by King Kong....

This was the view from our balcony at night...just when you thought it couldn't be more beautiful.

On OH's Bday we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, the meals were amazing, the cocktails were great, but the best part?? When the entire restaurant sung OH Happy Birthday :)

And when we finally arrive home from our big trip, tired and burnt but relaxed and happy I finally got to give OH the birthday cake I made for him :) It's a penguin made from chocolate mud cake, his body is covered with chocolate frosting, his eyes are coated in white chocolate and his feet and nose are covered in banana frosting. I hollowed out the belly and filled it with vanilla ice cream before I served it and scattered some sour penguin lollies around. I'm so happy with how it came out!

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous boy xxx

Em x


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...