Friday, January 31, 2014

Chocolate and Summer Berry Pavlova

Last weekend we had a random, out of the box, stinking hot day. 

This also happened to be the day I had planned to do a tonne of baking for Mr B's lunches. 

As I'm sure you know, having the oven on for the majority of the day was not a pleasant experience. 

And then I was smart enough to do exactly the same thing today and wonder why I was sweating like a marathon runner.....

That is where dishes like this Chocolate and Summer Berry Pavlova are perfect because even though the recipe might look a little on the lengthy side, it's really not that bad and doesn't involve standing over the stove for hours at a time. 

I made the meringues, the cream and the chocolate sauce the night before so all I had to do on the day was slice the strawberries, assemble and dig in! Plus you could easily substitute the chocolate sauce for store brought if you wanted to.  

Chocolate and Summer Berry Pavlova - Serves 6-8
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar  
1 tspn white vinegar
1 tbspn cocoa powder, sifted
600ml thickened cream
1 tbspn icing sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
400g strawberries, hulled and sliced
150g blueberries (or any fresh seasonal berries to serve)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbspn cocoa powder
1.5 tspn cornflour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
1 tbspn thickened cream

Pre-heat oven to 120C / 100C fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and draw 20cm circles on each then turn the paper ink (or pencil) side down. 

Use electric beaters to beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, 1 tbspn at a time, until thee sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat in the vinegar. Sift the cocoa over the meringue mixture and use a large metal spoon to gently fold it through, creating a swirled effect. 

Divide the meringue mixture between your circles, using a spatula to spread it out until they are both even.

Bake the meringues for 1 hour and 40 minutes, swapping the trays half way through. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in there with the door closed until they are completely cool. 

To make the chocolate sauce, combine the brown sugar, cocoa and cornflour in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the water and stir until well combined. Continue stirring over low heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cream. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and set aside to cool for at least 2 hours. 

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until thick. Place in the fridge to cool. 

To assemble, place one meringue on a serving plate and spread with half of the cream. Top with 1/2 of the strawberries and drizzle with some of the chocolate sauce. Repeat with the remaining meringue and cream.
Top with strawberries, blueberries and a drizzle of the chocolate sauce. 

Serve with remaining chocolate sauce on the side. 

We all really enjoyed this dessert, the light chocolate meringues with the cream and fresh summer fruit is just a lovely combination, so much so that Mr B actually ate half of this on his own...

in one sitting....

straight off the serving platter whilst the rest of us sat there totally gob smacked. 

I'm not even going to mention the fact that he was still hungry afterwards....


Mrs B xx

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oven Baked Fajitas

Do you know what makes today excellent?

Aside from the fact that I woke up this morning because that is certainly always a bonus....

No, today is excellent because not only is it a Monday and I'm not at work because yesterday was Australia Day and therefore today is a Public Holiday but it has also been a stellar weekend where I have managed to tick everything off my to do list and then some. Believe me that does not happen very often.

I spent Saturday in the kitchen making some cheddar cheese, some ricotta and doing some baking for Mr B's lunches before giving the house a good clean. Then on Saturday night I went to my friend's house for a catch up and to try on my bridesmaid dress for her upcoming wedding before coming home and watching movies with Mr B until the wee hours of the morning.

Yesterday Mr B and I had been invited to an Australia Day BBQ with some good friends of hours so we spent the day there relaxing and catching up....well OK I did, and Mr B helped install some solar panels on their roof, but he enjoyed it and afterwards he got to relax and eat all of their steak so we called it even.

And finally today I have been getting myself organised for the week ahead by making some egg noodle dough and chocolate meringues for dinner tomorrow night and cauliflower alfredo sauce for dinner later in the week. It doesn't sound like much but a few hours work today will save me oodles of time I always feel like I don't have when I get home from work......

Speaking of easy mid-week meals, we tried these Oven Baked Fajitas a few days ago and it never ceases to amaze me when things are so simple to make but so full of flavour. Plus I absolutely loved the freshness from the lime and the capsicums in this dish. Definitely a new favourite for us and I am very much looking forward to trying a vegetarian version in the next few weeks.

Oven Baked Fajitas - Serves 4

For the seasoning you will need
1 tbspn mexican chilli powder
1/2 tbspn paprika
1/2 tspn crushed garlic
1/4 tspn cumin
1 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 tbspn corn starch
1 tbspn tomato paste

For the fajitas you will need
1 brown onion
2 green capsicums
1 red capsicum
400g chicken breast
1 tbspn oil (I used a lime infused oil but regular vegetable oil would be fine)
Lime juice
Tortillas and Sour Cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine all of the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Thinly slice the onion and capsicum into 1 cm strips and place them in a bowl. Slice the chicken breast into 2 cm strips and add to the bowl. Add the seasoning and the oil and mix with your hands to ensure everything is well coated.

Transfer the vegetables and chicken to an oven proof dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring half way through. Once done, drizzle with 1-2 tbspns of lime juice.

Serve with tortillas, sour cream and extra lime juice.

Note - You could just as easily make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken with 1 cup of corn kernels and 2 thinly sliced zucchini.


Mrs B xx

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ginger and Lemon Ripple Cake

Before we get into the main event - let's just take a second to look at these home grown potatoes Mum and Dad served up for dinner last night. These were not just any cooked potatoes though, they were twice cooked, smashed potatoes and they were awesome. Crispy and golden on the outside and melt in your mouth soft on the my opinion these were even better then my all time favourite, roast potatoes, and that is saying something. 

So to whip up these Super Spuds all you need to do is....

Boil your potatoes in a pot of water until they are just cooked. 
Drain the water and remove your potatoes to a lightly greased oven dish. 
Gently press down on the top of the potatoes with the back of a fork to 'smash' them. 
Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for 20mins at 200C and enjoy! 


I'm going to make these for Mr B and I over the weekend and serve them topped with grated cheese, bacon and a dollop of sour cream!

Anyway, we are not here to talk potatoes, we are here to talk DESSERT! 

So in case you haven't noticed, my Mum and Dad are on a bit of a ripple cake kick at the moment. So far we have had the tried and true Chocolate Ripple Cake, the Cinnamon Butternut Snap Ripple Cake and now I give you the Ginger and Lemon Ripple Cake. Yep, that's right, Gingernut Snap Biscuits coated in a delicious lemon cream. 

I have said it before and I will say it again. The Ripple Cake is an Aussie dessert classic and absolutely perfect to take along to your next Summer BBQ - this one is especially Summer friendly with the whole lemon and ginger thing. 

Ginger and Lemon Ripple Cake - Serves 6-8

600ml thickened cream
1/2 cup good quality lemon curd
1 pkt Arnotts Gingernut Snap Biscuits
Grated white chocolate, to serve

Place the cream in a bowl and beat until the mixture is thick. Gently fold through the lemon curd.

Take your serving plate and spread 1-2 tbspns of the cream mixture in a log shape.

Use half of the remaining cream to sandwich the biscuits together and stand upright on the tray to form a log shape.

Spread the remaining cream mixture over the entire surface of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve sprinkled with grated white chocolate.

Cut on an angle to serve.

Mrs B x

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Flower Power

It's been nearly 8 years since I moved out of home and every year without fail when her Daphne comes out in flower my Mum will bring me a small bunch to put in a vase.

When I was younger I could probably take it or leave it when it came to having fresh flowers in the house but now that I'm older (and have slightly less of an attitude.....) I absolutely love the look and the smell of them.

For a long time my Mum has said that she would like to have a garden that supplied her with enough fresh flowers to fill vases around her home all year round. So one of the first things my Mum and Dad did when they moved into their new home last year was build enough garden beds for a mighty veggie patch and an incredible flower garden.

My Mum and Dad are both wonderful gardeners (a gene which did not make it's way to me unfortunately.....) so in no time they had an abundance of flowers and vegetables and I don't think a day has passed in the last few months where we have not had fresh flowers on the table or freshly picked produce in the fridge (is there anything better then freshly dug potatoes!?).

In this post I've included some photos of the delicate little sweet peas which have the most lovely scent and my Mum's first lot of Christmas Lillies. For years Mum has vowed that one day she would grow her own Christmas Lillies and last year she did with the first flowers out just in time for Christmas Day.

We have all come to an understanding now that Mum and Dad will keep us in fresh flowers and we will swing them some of our home made cheese - absolute win win for everyone!!

Mrs B xx

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Seeing as Mr B was on call over the Christmas break and then over our 2nd wedding anniversary, we decided to take the last week off and spend it in the sunshine camping, fishing, kayaking and exploring.

Last Monday we packed the ute up and headed for our first destination - Bicheno!

Bicheno will always be a special place for Mr B and I as it's where we got engaged 5 years ago this Valentines Day. On that first trip believe it or not neither Mr B or I owned a camera so the only photos we have are a few dodgy snaps of my engagement ring on an old phone (this was also before the days of smart phones with awesome cameras.....). So on this trip we decided to walk out to the spot on the beach where Mr B proposed and finally get some photos.

It was a beautiful day, if not a little windy, so it was really nice to go for a long walk along the beach and when we finally reached the big rock where Mr B proposed it was even nicer to have a sit down and rest our tired feet!

This is the spot where early one morning after Mr B dragged me out for a walk along the beach, he sat me down on this big rock, got down on one knee, pulled a ring box out from underneath the beach towel he was carrying and asked me to marry him..... which I promptly responded ' are you serious ' far more times then were probably necessary before giving my answer with a resounding YES!

This was the first time we have returned to that spot since that day and it was nice to finally get some photos and just be back there reliving that morning.

After walking back to our campsite we were pretty buggered so we sat down for a drink and a rest before thinking about dinner. Avoiding thinking about dinner was close to impossible as we were staying at a caravan park which just so happened to be located behind a take away shop and the smell of freshly cooked hot chips was just too tempting!  Dinner consisted of BBQ'd corn on the cob with salmon sausages and hot chips.....slightly out of the ordinary but oh so delicious!

After dinner we had a few hours to kill because we had booked to go on a Penguin Tour which left after dark. Neither of us had ever done the Penguin Tour before and we were so glad we did.

At the tour office we got on a bus which took us down the road to a private property where we watched the female penguins coming ashore from their big day out fishing. They were so cute and there were hundreds of them! It was really cool being able to watch them walk right by you and see them in their natural habitat. We then went for a walk around the property and saw all the males guarding their little dens and making them all pretty for when the females returned. Just standing and watching them for awhile it was funny to see some of their little personalities and quirks. The highlight though was definitely seeing a little penguin chick with it's Mum and Dad in their den getting ready to snuggle in for the night - the chick was just so cute and fluffy!!

We weren't allowed to take any photos on the tour because the light from the cameras might upset the penguins and damage their eyes but I'm kind of glad because it meant we got more time to focus on taking it all in and spent less time worrying about getting that perfect shot.

The next morning we were up bright and early thanks to our lovely neighbours in the caravan park so we decided to make the most of it and get a head start on our drive to St Helens.

Despite having stayed in St Helens before, Mr B and I were yet to make the journey up to the renowned Bay of Fires so obviously that was our first stop.....

....Ok our first stop was for a much needed bathroom break and our second stop was for ice cream, but our third stop was most definitely the Bay of Fires......

As soon as we got there it was obvious why this place is so popular, it really is just stunning and the weather while we were there was gorgeous which made it perfect for rock pool exploring and lazy walks along the beach......

There were a few spots just off the road up near the Bay of Fires where we initially thought we could camp for a few nights, but it was a really hot day and the spots didn't seem to have any shade so we decided to head back into St Helens and continue our search.....

It didn't take us long to find this little gem just on the other side of St Helens. There was an unmarked gravel road which turned off the highway into the bush and Mr B took it on a whim. What we found at the end of that road was a secluded little camp site set right on a lagoon which just happened to open up onto the ocean. It was the perfect spot so we quickly went about setting up our camp site so we could get our and explore!

This was the view from our camp site......I could absolutely get used to waking up to this.

After a big afternoon kayaking and exploring, we were starving little campers in need of food. Mr B whipped up these burgers (steak for him, vegetarian for me) and they were camping food at it's finest.

The other thing about camping is that by the time you spend the day exploring, settle in for dinner, a drink or two and a flick through some magazines, it's like 8pm and you're exhausted and ready for bed and with all that exploring you will sleep super well and not even bat an eyelid until the sunrise wakes you the next morning.

After our traditional camping breakfast consisting of an egg and bacon roll, Mr B and I set out in the kayaks again for a paddle around the lagoon except this time I explored and Mr B tried his hand at some fishing. The highlight for me was definitely when three pelicans that had been sitting on the shore firstly flew right at us and then over the top of our kayaks, so close that I was slightly freaking out and in absolute awe at the same time.

The lagoon was actually really shallow in most parts so after we took the kayaks back in, we walked around / across the lagoon until we reached the beach on the other side. It was a fair walk and after an overly energetic game of frisbee on the beach I was not looking forward to the walk back over to the camp site. Luckily we packed some lollies and after a quick sugar fix we had just enough energy to get ourselves back, but only just!

Lazy afternoons were spent playing cards and drinking Mr B's home brew lemonade. Life is good.

Mr B and I have always had an agreement that if we go camping for a week then we will usually spend the last night in a nice hotel and seeing as this trip was in honour of our wedding anniversary we decided to head to Launceston and stay in a hotel we discovered on our mini-moon.

This photo was taken at a lookout somewhere between Scottsdale and Launceston (not useful I know.....Mr B is now telling me it may be called the Sidling Lookout?!) but it's such a beautiful spot looking down over the valley that we always try and stop there when we are in the area.

When we got to Launceston it was really warm so we indulged in a shower (absolute heaven after a week of camping!) and a relax before heading out to our favourite local restaurant, the Jail House Grill.

The following morning we headed for home which normally would be quite disappointing given it meant the end of our trip and the end of our holiday but on this occasion it wasn't too bad.

Firstly we stopped in Oatlands at a pancake place we have been meaning to try for AGES but everytime we go it is impossible to get a table. Today we were in luck so I had a giant pancake with berries, cream and ice cream (YUM!) and Mr B had a crepe filled with prawns and scallops in a cheese sauce - both meals were absolutely delicious and we will definitely be heading back!

And secondly after 4 weeks of ageing, it was finally time to try our home made cheddar with basil, chilli and thyme. For my birthday last year one of my friends gave me a cheese making book which gave me the idea for adding some herbs to our standard cheddar recipe and after trying it Mr B and I are both in agreeance that this is by far the best cheese we have ever made - I can't wait to experiment with some different herbs and flavours.

So that was our holiday and I have to say I just had the best time. It was just what we needed, relaxing and peaceful, full of good times and laughter, fresh air and exploring - it doesn't get much better then that.

Mrs B xx

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chicken Curry

I have written about this particular curry before way back in the early days of this blog, so when I went to make it last week I referred back to those posts and found that

a) my photos were appalling
b) I really hadn't written the recipe out very well at all and
c) I'd like to think my cooking and presentation skills are slightly better now and have evolved from just chucking it all in a bowl......

Plus every time I make this particular recipe I have fine tuned it, even though it is very simple, down to a version that Mr B and I both think is pretty spot on. This is a super easy chicken curry recipe that is great for those mid-week meals plus it can be made with any curry paste you want or you could even make your own if you particularly feel the urge to!

Chicken Curry - Serves 4

500g chicken breast, cut into 3cm pieces
1/3 cup curry paste (I used Rogan Josh)
200g greek yoghurt
1 onion, diced
400g diced tomatoes
Green beans and steamed rice to serve

Combine the curry paste and yoghurt and set aside.

In a fry pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 mins or until soft.

Add the chicken and the yoghurt mixture. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 mins.

Add the diced tomatoes and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 mins or until chicken is tender.

Serve with steamed rice and beans. I always put a little bit of butter, salt and pepper through my steamed rice but that's a personal preference, you can leave it plain if you want to)


Mrs B xx

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lemony Chicken Kebabs

Summer has finally decided to arrive here so we plan on making the most of it with lots of camping, fishing, kayaking and BBQ's.

 It sounds like a small thing, but I really enjoy it when the weather warms up and the days are longer and we can start having the majority of our meals outside.....

.....although Mr B was not entirely thrilled when I dragged him out of bed this morning so we could have breakfast on the pergola.....

Anyway, back to my original point, not only are BBQs easy and yummy, they are cooked by Mr B which means all I have to do is get everything out and then he miraculously comes back with plates of cooked BBQ goodness. Any meal where I don't have to cook is a favourite of mine, although I haven't quite figured out how to off load the associated washing up, but I'm working on it.

These Lemony Chicken Kebabs were adapted from a recipe in a Moroccan Cookbook and true to their name, they have a really stand out lemon flavour which is tangy and refreshing and a perfect match for the chicken.

Lemony Chicken Kebabs - Serves 4

1/3 cup olive oil (I used a lemon infused olive oil, but you can use regular olive oil as well)
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tbspn crushed garlic
1/2 tbspn crushed ginger
1 tspn ground cumin
1/2 tspn ground tumeric
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tbspn brown sugar
2 tbspns fresh marjoram leaves
750g chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 2cm cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1cm chunks
1/2 cup greek yoghurt

Place the oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, tumeric, cinnamon, sugar and half of the marjoram leaves into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Combine 1/2 tbspn of the paste with your yoghurt and set aside.

Pour the remaining paste into a bowl and add the chicken. Toss to coat and cover with cling wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Thread the chicken and zucchini onto 8 skewers. Cook on the BBQ until chicken is done.

Serve chicken kebabs with yoghurt, halloumi and couscous stuffed tomatoes.


Mrs B xx

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mt Field National Park

It is a beautiful sunny day here today and as Mr B's niece is currently visiting from Canberra with a friend of hers, it was the perfect opportunity for a family outing to Mt Field National Park. 

There are a whole heap of different walks you can do depending on how much time you have and how much walking you can handle. We had a few littlies with us today so we decided to do one of the shorter walks into Russel Falls and Horseshoe Falls. 

This little one did not like being in the harness with her Mother one little bit, but she was more than happy to be carried around by Mr B! 

These two cousins had a great day running and exploring in the forest. 

This is Russel Falls which is only about a 10 minute walk and more than worth it. On a hot day like today it was nice to take in this very specky view whilst enjoying the spray from the waterfall to cool you down!

Family snap!! 

After Russel Falls we took on the walk to Horeshoe Falls, which really was only another 10 minutes away but it involved like a zillion stairs and required several rest breaks. 

Again, absolutely worth it (although my legs are still arguing the point on that one!). 

Mr B and his niece on the walk back down.   

I love this photo of Mr B and another of his nieces having a rest break and a chat. 

When we got back to the Visitor's Centre, we made ourselves comfortable at some picnic tables and enjoyed a lunch of hot chips and icy poles. Mr B and his keen eye spotted this little echidna trotting along an old log so I grabbed the camera and the kidlets and we went over for a closer look. He was just so adorable!

After lunch and a rest we took the kids (little and big!) over to the park so they could burn off the last of their energy before we headed for home.  



I'm fairly sure we were all going home for an afternoon nap but it was a really great day and something we definitely have to try and do more often! 

Mrs B xx


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