Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smooth, soft and creamy fudge recipe

I had good intentions of making more golden syrup dumplings this week but the universe had other ideas. So last night upon realising I was not going to get a chance to make them I also realised I had a tub of extra thick cream in the fridge that needed to be used. I also had some dark chocolate melts in the cupboard left-over from some cherry ripe cupcakes and some marshmallows left-over from the hot chocolate season! First thing that came to mind was fudge! I know fudge should have condensed milk in it, but I find cream works just as well and gives the fudge a really creamy (duh) and smooth consistency, the only problem is you probably need to let it set for 24-48 hours.

The only other issue I encountered last night was that OH dislikes dark into the mix went my bag of fun size milkybars that I had been saving for after work treats :( Oh well....saves me eating them!

Emily's Last Minute Fudge
375g of chocolate melts (any flavour or combination)
300ml bottle of thickened cream
1 x bag of marshmallows chopped
1 x pkt of choc ripple biscuits crushed
2 x 50g bars of turkish delight chopped

Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second bursts. Stir through cream and remaining ingredients.
Pour into a lined slice tin and refigerate for 24-48 hours or until firm enough to cut, it will always be soft, but if you leave it for awhile it won't be sticky...I get impatient and have to cut mine up after 4 or 5 hours and end up with chocolate everywhere..which really isn't a bad thing!

You can really add anything you like, which is why this recipe is great, as long as you have the cream and chocolate you could use anything you have in the pantry - for instance glace cherries and crushed chocolate biscuits, dessicated coconut would make a deliciously smooth and creamy coconut rough, liquers make delcious fudge or some caramel swirled through, the possibilities are endless!

I only added the marshmallows this time and used half dark chocolate and half white, and the result is a rich, decadent treat!

Em x

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The chewiest ANZAC recipe

As long as I can remember I have been making ANZACS. My Dad loves them and now OH does too. My parents even brought me an antique ANZAC mixing bowl with the recipe printed around the rim, but this recipe is my tried and true and my favourite. It makes the best biscuits, even after 3 or 4 weeks in the cupboard they are still chewy and delicious and will keep for ages. I think I got it off the back of an oats packet many many years ago....

ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
125g butter
2 tbspn golden syrup
1 1/2 tspn bicarb soda
2 tbspn boiling water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Melt butter and golden syrup
Mix bicarb and boiling water, add to butter mixture and then add to dry ingredients. Combine well.
Drop tspns of mixture onto a greased oven tray.
Bake at 150C for 15 mins or until golden. They will spread alot and sometimes you end up with one giant biscuit (which isn't a bad thing!) if this happens just let them cool and then cut into squares.
If some of them do break when you try and remove them from the tray (if you are impatient like me and don't always wait for them to cool) simply roll them into balls and hey presto...chewy ANZAC balls!

OH has an aversion to coconut...something about it getting stuck in his teeth so these days I make the recipe without it and they are just as good!


Em xx

Mum's Mystery Quiche

Last night OH and I drove down to Mum and Dad's and it was snowing like full on snowing. From inside the car it felt and looked like we were in a snow globe!

Anyway, at Mum and Dad's we soon found out we were having Mum's mystery quiche, Mum calls it a pie, but either way! One good thing about this dish is that it is always different. Apart from the fact that it always contains 7 eggs and is topped with cheese...the rest is a mystery and is usually made of ingredients Mum has in the fridge. So it could contain spinach and onion, or some left-over dip and grated carrot, some french onion soup mix and frozen vegies...anything at all really. Sometimes there is a layer of fetta or brie under the cheese, you just never know! It is always different and always a suprise and most importantly always delicious! We usually make a game out of it and sit around the table trying to figure out what exactly the ingredients are! Last night we had the following combination:

1 x block of reduced fat herbed fetta crumbled
1 x bag baby spinach
3 x onions chopped
7 x eggs whisked
1 pkt spring vegetable soup mix
1 1/2 cups grated extra light cheese
2 tomatoes sliced

Cook onions and spinach in a fry pan until spinach has wilted.
Spoon over the base of a dish and pour over eggs combined with soup mix.
Sprinkle with 1/2 of the fetta and 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Bake for 30 mins at 150C.
Top with sliced tomato, remaining fetta and then remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for a further 10 mins or unil cheese is golden.
Serves 6

We had ours with some potato swirls and homemade tomato chutey, which I have to say were also pretty damn good!

Em xx

Monday, September 27, 2010

The most awesome pair of shoes ever!!

Yes now I know that is a big call, but seriously when OH got back from his bucks weekend and ushered me into the car with promises of a great suprise that I just had to see right away, I was not expecting this...and I mean honestly I don't think I was exaggerating the facts when I said they were the most awesome pair of shoes ever!

I love the whole idea, two giant stilettos complete with buckles and everything, out in the middle of a paddock surrounded by sheep. It's me on so many levels!! I made OH pull over on the side of the highway so I could clamber as close as possible (in my high heels of course) to get some good shots...I think they would make great kids slides! And I really really want them in my garden!

One of my other great discoveries this weekend was during a trip to Habitat (a brilliant homewares shop with everything from pots and pans to cupcake cases to ice cream makers). In the last 12 months I have become a giant tea convert and I love my Creme Brulee tea...the only problem is that my tea infuser has a gap in it so I always gets tea leaves in my tea....but then I found this!

Its gorgeous! I love the big blingy diamond and once you put your tea leaves in it, it clips up and hangs in your mug like a tea bag. I gave it a few violent shakes today to test it out and still no tea leaves escaped so I am a little bit excited about's the simple pleasures in life...

Em xx

The mystery of the green cake...

...after many hours of research, I think I have solved the mystery! The green cake I spied in a cake shop on the weekend was in fact a Swedish Princess Cake or a Prinsesstårta.

Traditionally the cake looks like this

But the one I saw in the shop was just a slice so it looked like this except the actual cake was green as well as the marzipan icing. And I think it had the pastry creme layer in the centre, with jam above and below and then the whipped cream on top.

It is a long and complicated recipe and the best one I found was here at
Baking Obsession but basically it is composed of three layers of génoise (a rich and delicate Italian sponge cake) alternating with raspberry jam, pastry cream, and topped with whipped cream. This is then wrapped in pale-green marzipan. Sometimes the layers of génoise are also died green like the one I saw in the shop!

Mmmmm I can't wait to go back in and try some now!

Em x

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Potato, Salmon and Snow!

Well it is Saturday night and I am laying in bed on my lonesome. Mum and I have just got back from a delicious vegetarian dinner at Pashas and I am mega full so I am taking advantage of OH being away for his bucks weekend on a camping trip and having an early night!

Today has been great but as usual, nothing went to plan! Seeing as the Dad and OH were going to be away all weekend, the girls had organised to have our dress fittings and make the invites and the place cards before Mum and I took ourselves out to dinner. But last week we found out the dress maker was shut due to the AFL Grand Final and then yesterday we found out the paper hadn't arrived for the invites. So onto Plan B....The boys still left this morning in the pouring rain, thankfully it was sunny by the time they got to their destination though....(here is OH all packed and ready to go.) Mum and I decided to do a bit of light shopping and went to all the shops we love to look at but the boys always whinge about! We even got time to check out a new cake shop we had heard about and they had a cake that was green with layers of raspberry sauce and a white cream (I think!) - I am intrigued and shall do further investigation, more to come on this one soon! While we were out I brought a whole heap of vegetable seedlings including pumpkin, cauliflower, baby carrots, capsicums, mint and eggplant and I also had some seed potatoes at home so I planted them when I got back this afternoon and the vegie patch looks so good now everything is in. I just hope they survive this time because it is very windy here tonight!

In other news, on Friday OH and I woke up at 6:30am ready to get up for work and we have a bit of a running joke where I say 'can we call in sick' and OH usually says 'no' and then we get up. But on Friday OH rolled over and said 'Yep - let's go see the snow before it all disappears' and thats exactly what we did. I rang work and arranged to go in at lunch time and then we were off! It's only about a 40min drive to the top of Mt Wellington from our place and as we got to the top the scenery was just beautiful, waterfalls, rocks, moss, forests, all surrounded by fog and covered in the last of this year's snow, it was great to see such untouched wilderness. We spent a bit of time playing in the snow and even had a picnic in the car!

Now what blog entry would be complete without a recipe! Today we have Sweet Potato and Salmon Quiche

You will need:

200g smoked salmon fillet
2 cups sweet potato cubed
3 spring onions chopped
100g baby spinach leaves
1 cloved crushed garlic
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
100g fetta
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220C and line a tray with baking paper. Roast sweet potato for 20 mins or until tender.
Saute spring onion, garlic and spinach until spinach has wilted. Place mixture in a greased quiche dish.
Top with roast sweet potato and crumbled fetta.
Lightly cook salmon in a fry pan before flaking and scattering in quiche dish.
Whisk eggs and milk, pour over other ingredients and top with salt and pepper.
Reduce oven to 180C and bake quiche for 30-40 mins or until set.

This is such a nice quiche and a great combination of salmon and sweet potato, really nice served with a simple tomato, cucumber and capsicum salad!

And OH requested that I put up his brandy snap basket filled with honeycomb ice cream and surrounded by chocolate custard and strawberries...he was very proud of it!

Well this week we have a peppered beef pot pie, spag bog and OH's fantabulous fried rice on the menu and round two of the golden syrup dumplings because they were just so very good!

And tomorrow, the chewiest yummiest ANZACS ever!!

Night xx

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting stuffed....courtesy of Margaret Fulton!

I have officially discovered my new favourite brekkie. The strawberries at the moment are so big and juicy that I have been buying a punnet to take to work each morning and dipping them in the french vanilla forme yoghurt. It is absolutely delicious. But on Sunday it was cold and wet and rainy and I felt like something that would warm me up so I chopped up the strawberries and microwaved them for a few minutes till they were nice and soft and then I poured my yoghurt over the top and got back into bed with my brekkie, my cup of tea and a book! It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and I fully intend on doing it again this weekend : )

Last night Mum and Dad came over and I thought it only fitting that I take the nights meals from Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery which they brought me for my birthday. I decided on the Stuffed Eggplant because I had just seen some gorgeous looking eggplants at the supermarket and the Tuscan Tuna Stuffed Mushrooms followed by Golden Syrup Dumplings. The dumplings were not Margaret's...but I had never made them before and wanted to try!

The eggplant took awhile to make because you had to salt it and let it sit for an hour to draw the moisture out, then fry it, scoop out the filling and stuff it before putting it in the oven for 40 mins. The result was well worth it though! And the mushies were dead easy, the filling was easy to make and once you stuffed them, they just went in the oven too. Final results looked something like this:

Pretty impressive I thought!

Stuffed Eggplant

2 large eggplants
1 onion chopped
4 tomatoes de-seeded and chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tbspns chopped parsley ( I used basil )
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup beef stock
2 tbspns butter
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated cheese

Cut eggplants in half lengthways and slash edges, sprinkle with salt and let stand cut side down for an hour.
Drain eggplant and dry with paper towel. Spray a fry pan with a light coat of oil and fry eggplant for a few minutes cut sides down. Remove from heat and carefully scoop out flesh leaving a shell.
Combine eggplant flesh, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil or parsley in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Fill eggplant shells and place in a baking dish. Pour stock into dish, cover with foil and bake for 30-40 mins at 180C until eggplant is tender.
Meanwhile melt butter in a frying pan and fry breadcrumbs until crisp and golden. Sprinkle crumbs over cooked eggplant and top with cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted and golden.

And then there was the Tuscan Tuna Stuffed Mushrooms

4 Portobello Mushrooms
1 x 250g pkt of microwave white rice
2 spring onions chopped
1 capsicum finely diced
2 x small tins of tuna in springwater
1 x tspn of tuscan seasoning (I didn't have any so I used moroccan seasoning)
100g of extra light ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice according to packet directions.
Combine all ingredients, except mushrooms, in a bowl.
Trim stem from mushrooms and if desired, dice finely and mix into filling.
Fill mushrooms with mixture and place in a baking dish with 4 tbspns water.
Bake at 180C for about 20 mins.

Now golden syrup dumplings are something I have always loved but I have never cooked because I was a bit nervous about getting them right and I just associate them with being horribly full because they are usually big heavy doughy balls. Anyway after a few weeks of searching I found a recipe that was reasonably low calorie and decided to give it a try. The dough was easy to make, and made 18 small balls. The syrup was equally easy and once I put the balls into the syrup I was amazed at how they instantly started to puff up. I put the lid on the pot and let them simmer for about 15 mins and when I came back they were so cute! 18 lil balls of dough swimming in a golden syrup sauce. And eating them was even better! The sauce was nice and thick, the dumplings were light and airy, I actually didn't feel like I'd over eaten when I finshed them!

Golden Syrup Dumplings

1 cup SR flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg
Dash of milk
1 tbspn butter
1 cup water
3/4 cup golden syrup (or honey - I used half and half)
1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn brown sugar

Sift flour and salt. Rub in butter and mix to a soft dough with the egg and milk. Roll into small balls - you should get around 18.
Boil the water in a saucepan and add the remaining syrup ingredients. Stir to combine. When boiling add the balls and cover tightly with the lid.
Boil gently for about 15mins and serve at once with cream and / or ice cream.

So very good and so easy!!!

Also, you may have read that OH went to Canberra last week, well he came home on Sunday and look at the beautiful photo album he brought me. We are thinking of using it for our wedding or honeymoon pics and finding a stand to put it on so it's always on display. It's unreal, everytime you look at it the colours change and it shimmers in different shades of green, blue, purple and silver. I am a smidgen spoilt...

Happy hump day people!

Love Em x

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baking is good for the soul

Well it has been a turbulent few days. OH is still interstate and it has caused some dramas at home and things are abit all over the place. I'm quite capable of coping when he is away because he does it for work all the time, but when he is away and we are arguing and it's all done over text, I can't cope with that, so yesterday I left work at 11am feeling like my head was going to explode. And there was only one thing I wanted to do, bury myself in the kitchen up to my elbows in eggs, butter, flour and sugar! So I made a quick stop at the supermarket and went home to get stuck into it.

First on my to do list were some vegemite and cheese scrolls. I used a packet of pastry mix (lazy yes I know!) but for the first time I made it up using the dough hooks in my electric mixer, and what a difference it made. The dough had a much better consistency and was easier to work with. Once the dough was complete, I rolled it into something that resembled a rectangle and slathered it in vegemite and a generous helping of grated cheese. Then I rolled it all up, cut into slices and baked in the oven for about 20 mins until they looked like this:

I normall hate vegemite with a passion (promite girl through and through) but the smell that filled the house while these were baking was pretty damn good! Plus these scrolls last forever in the freezer.

Next on the list was some pineapple jelly cupcakes. In my head I wanted to make the jelly and then when it was cool, combine with a few tbspns of the cake mix and swirl it through, similar to the raspberry wedding cupcakes. But I was soon to learn that this just wasn't gonna work. I think I had my jelly to cake consistency all wrong and it just wouldn't swirl. But they still came out of the oven as perfect lil buttercake cupcakes, so instead I combined a few tbspns of the jelly / cake mix with about 1/2 cup of vanilla frosting and put it back in the fridge to set. This turned out to be a much better option because you now have the light fluffy buttercake base and the creamy vanilla and pineapple frosting...yay!! Plus they look kinda pretty : )

Then it was time for a dinner break so I threw come cucumber, tomato and green capsicum in a bowl with a Sanitarium Not Burger that I had cooked in the oven. Mmmmmmm

But my urge for baking was still not satisfied and I had been craving carrot cake lately, god knows why, I haven't had carrot cake for years and years. Plus I also had the urge to make an actual full size cake instead of cupcakes for a change. I was pretty proud of the result for my first effort. I poured a vanilla glaze over the cake once it was cooled and I have just finished having a slice for my morning tea and it is heavenly. Soft, moist, full of flavour, and the glaze is enough to give it a hint of sweetness without taking away from the flavour of the cake itself.

And after all that, my head was clear. I still had no answers, nothing was resolved, but for the mean time I didn't feel like the world was closing in around me. So I went to bed, thankful that between my Dad and my workmates someone would eat all the food that would be coming out of my kitchen in the next few days!

Em x

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Luck of the Irish!

Last night I found myself home alone. OH has gone intertstate for a family emergency. So armed with some lamb I needed to use and my trusty AWW Cookbook, I decided that on a cold blustery winter's night (hello what happened to spring!?) I would make myself some Irish Stew. Keeping in mind I don't love lamb so I was a bit hesitant going into this dish, but the end result was absolutely delicious. I only cooked with fresh thyme for the first time on the weekend and I had to use it in this dish too, you can really notice it and it adds so much flavour, I am now a fresh herb convert!

Irish Stew

500g diced lamb - the recipe actually said 1kg of lamb neck chops but that was pushing it a bit for me.
2 carrots
1 large parsnip (bout 350g)
1kg potatoes
2 onions
2 sprigs thyme
1 tbspn worcestershire
2 tbspns tomato paste
3.5 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 170C
Dice all your vegetables, I left mine chunky because it's a rustic homestyle stew.
Layer vegetables and lamb in a heavy based casserole dish and cover with liquids.
Place stew in the oven with lid on for 90 mins, checking every half hour. It is ready to serve when the lamb is tender and the vegies are cooked.

All it really needed was a crusty fresh bread roll to mop up the sauce....but seeing as I have another 3 nights of it, I have plenty of time to try it!

As I am writing this I have just got some cheese and vegemite scrolls out of the oven and I'm waiting for some pineapple jelly cakes to finish baking...but more on those tomorrow!

I'm off to try some pole dancing to keep warm, it's actually snowing here!

Em x

The Master of Many Cookbooks!

Typical Tuesday night shenanigans....last night we headed down to Mum and Dad's for tea and as usual got kicked out of the kitchen pretty quickly! One thing I noticed though was that Mum was working out of about 3 differenty cookbooks and whatever she was making was gonna knock our socks off....and you know what, I was right!

There was a flurry of pots and pans and cheeses and bowls and the end result looked something like this

It consisted of a Roast Tomato on Goats Cheese, Portobello Mushrooms with Garlic, Fetta and Balsamic and Creamy Polenta...but believe you me, this does not do justice however to the meal that was served up. The goats cheese was velvety smooth, the mushrooms were roasted with garlic and topped with fetta and balsamic vinegar and served on a bed of wilted spinach and the polenta was cooked with milk and a tub of philadelphia herb and garlic cream cheese making it creamy and tasty. It was a fantastic combination of flavours and would also make a very decadent brekkie too!

Roast Tomatoes on Goats Cheese
4 Roma Tomatoes
2 tbspns Olive Oil
200g Goats Cheese

Drizzle tomatoes with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a medium hot oven for 10-15 mins. Serve tomatoes on a bed of crushed goats cheese. This would also be lovely served with some pita bread lightly toasted in the oven.

Portobello Mushrooms with Garlic, Fetta and Balsamic
8 x Portobello Mushrooms
2 x cloves of garlic thinly sliced
Olive Oil
1 x bag baby spinach
100g Fetta

Pre-heat oven to 200C and add mushrooms to a roasting dish. Drizzle with oil and top with garlic. Roast for 15-20mins
Meanwhile wilt spinach and butter in a fry pan. Spoon onto serving plates and top with mushrooms.
Sprinkle with crumbled fetta and balsamic vinegar.

Creamy Polenta
1.5 cups skim milk
2 cups water
1 cup polenta
125g Philadelphia spreadable garlic and herb

Boil milk and water to the boil on the stove and reduce heat to low.
Add polenta and stir constantly until thick.
Stir in philadelphia (you can also add 1/4 cup parmesan here if you wish) and serve.

But that's not all! If you thought the main was great, wait till you see the dessert...

That my friends is a Cream Cheese Panna Cotta....and it was freakin awesome.

You need:

300ml light cooking cream
1/4 c caster sugar
1 tbspn vanilla essence
1 block of philadelphia cheese
1 tspn gelatine dissolved in 1 tbsnpn hot water
And some Irish Cream liquer

Heat cream, sugar and vanilla over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
Beat philadelphia until smooth, add cream and gelatine.
Add 1 tbspn of liquer into bottom of serving glasses.
Top with cream cheese mixture and refrigerate for 3-4 hrs or until set.

I prefer to mix the liquer through the mix before eating but each to their own! Would also be delicious with berry sauce, black coffee, caramel or fruit puree instead of liquer.

Fan-freakin-tastic night, good food, great company!

And just before I go, a picture of our ridiculous dessert the other night, brandy snap baskets with chocolate custard, whipped cream and strawberries...mmmmmmmm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The weekend that was....

It is a sunny Monday morning here and whilst it was a hectic weekend, it was a good one.

On Friday night I continued the birthday celebrations (it is important to stretch them out for as long as possible) by having dinner at Customs House, which is a local pub down on Hobart's waterfront, with a group of friends. The atmosphere was great with big fires keeping the restaurnt warm and the meals were really well priced, not to mention they were massive! It was a great night catching up with friends, some I haven't seen for ages and seeing as it was such a diverse group of people that didn't really know each other, they all got along really well! I had the Apricot Butter Chicken and it came out with rice and pappadums and was delicious! We even finished the night off with a few shots and you know I had one with one of my oldest friends from school and one with OH and I was pretty happy, but not over the top you know? Did I mention it was a great night?! Yesterday I had a play around with photoshop and I really like the way this photo turned out, could be one for the wall!

And seeing as neither of us woke up feeling worse for wear the next morning, OH and I decided to load the ute up and go fishing up the coast for the day. We stopped at a bakery at Triabunna on the way up and they had the biggest chocolate eclairs I have ever seen, so of course OH got on to try and when I had a bite I could barely fit my mouth around it! But it was so very good....Anyway, we spent a few hours fishing off a pier in Swansea with no luck, but we didn't mind because it was a beautiful spot. Later in the afternoon we headed back down the coast and stopped at Orford to try our luck there and wouldn't you know it...

It was a little whiting and we did our happy dance around the jetty, took some photos and then threw him back....but unfortunately I think he warned all the other fish because he was our only catch of the day. But seeing as we had finally caught a fish and had had a really nice day together I promised to cook OH the biggest steak I could find for dinner with home made pepper sauce - as seen in my new AWW cookbook!

We picked up all the ingredients on the way home and I set about cooking the steaks and making the sauce. I was a bit nervous because it was basically cream and white wine with some celery, onion, peppercorns and thyme. I have never cooked with wine or thyme before but the end result was delicious. The thyme really balanced out the wine and it reduced down to a nice thick creamy sauce. I had a big plate of boiled vegies for tea and spooned some over that, but OH had his with some porterhouse and home made potato chips (I wanted to try the new food processor too!)

We decided to have a quiet day on Sunday, which in my mind screams BAKING! I also wanted to try my new cookie cutters and mixer so I set about making some gingerbread. Several months ago, Mum, Dad, OH and I found a business called Biskart ( who make and sell cookie cutters. But not like your every day circles and squares....they do everything! And for my birthday I was lucky enough to get a selection of some of my favourites.

I really like the bats...and yes OH pointed out I decorated the skull upside down...we have since fixed that! Oh and I love the shoe too! And the excavator! OH is most pleased because now he won't get heart shaped biscuits in his lunches...well not all the time anyway!

I spent the rest of yesterday lying in my bean bag, drinking tea, eating gingerbread and reading Eat Pray's a fantastic book and very inspirational.

Hope you all had a great weekend !

Em x

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Yep...yesterday it was the big quarter of a century....and as much as I love birthdays because of the way my family celebrates them, I was not looking forward to this one. 25, half way to 50, quarter of a century, where did all the time go!? What have I achieved and accomplished? All these things have been racing through my mind for the last few weeks, but you know yesterday none of it mattered. I had a fantastic day with OH and my parents and I think days like that are what it's all about really - why worry about the past or the future when you could be making the most of the present?

So to explain, birthdays in our family are a full day event, everyone has the day off and we spent the whole day - breakfast to dessert - together if it is your birthday then everyone else plans the day and you are kept in the dark. It's fantastic and as a kid I always thought birthdays felt like public holidays, like the whole state should be off work because the days just felt so special. It is a tradition I will definetly be bringing my kids up with.

So the day started with breakfast at Mum and Dad's, Mum had made the most delicious choc-vanilla cupcakes and brought me some cupcake cookbooks to go with it!

Then we went to Brookfield Vineyard to look at this model village. It was so detailed and the whole thing took 12 years to make and was done by a guy who had polio, it's unreal to see. And the whole place was filled with collections of things like cows or shoes or piggy banks, and they had a gorgeous gift shop and cafe...we will definetly return the next time we have a sunny Sunday arvo to fill in!

This was followed by a journey up the Shot Tower....which funnily enough was first opened on the 8th of Sept : ) It is 157 ft tall and you walk up this flimsy spiral stair case to get to the top, it's a little nerve wracking but the view is spectacular and well worth it!

Next stop was the Taroona Lounge Bar for lunch. I had stuffed eggplant which was delicious...although I was a little jealous of the humongous vegetarian pizza Mum and Dad got!

This is Mum, me and OH : )

My Mum and Dad

Then it was onto the Casino for some cocktails...what birthday would not be complete without cocktails!!

And back to Mum and Dad's for presents...I got thoroughly spoilt, lots of cookbooks, novels, the sweetest tea pot and cup, some babushka measuring cups (how cute are they!) and a new Mixmaster and Food Processor!

Then it was off home for some time with OH. He brought me a beautiful locket (something I have always wanted) and some riding gear for when we take the quad bike huh?

But apparently there was so no rest for the wickid so after a quick spin around the paddock on the bike we got changed into our swankiest clothes and it was off out for tea. OH suprised me by taking me to a restaurant I have been dying to try for ages. It's called Pashas and is turkish but they have alot of vegetarian stuff on the menu. My god was it good. OH had prawns for the entree and he got 16 prawns!! I had bread and dips and the dips were delicious, carrot and yoghurt, cucumber and yoghurt, hommus, eggplant, zucchini, all served with steaming hot fresh pide...mmmmmmm...but if we thought that was good, then out came the mains! OH got two massive pieces of salmon, crusted in herbs and spices and served with a buttered rice. I had a vegie stack, which was described as eggplant, zucchini, sweet potato and capsicum roasted and topped with a tomato sauce and yoghurt - that description did not prepare me for the huge plate of vegies I received, I couldn't finish them all but my god I wanted to! One of the best meals I have had for a very long time and my new favourite restaurant!

And then it was home for one final suprise.....a heart shaped strawberry ice cream cake...with 25 candles mind you, it was lucky the cake didn't melt from the heat!

I couldn't have asked for a better day and I am very greatful to Mum, Dad and OH for putting it all together.

Em x

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Round One Votes Are In!!

We sat down last night, all hyped up to try our first round of wedding cupcakes...despite being in the fridge for 2 days they were still light and fluffy and soft. When we cut them open the swirl had gone through them beautifully. The problem was that the cream cheese frosting and the buttercream frosting were both this is where it got technical...whilst the cream cheese icing was yummy, the cream cheese taste kind of over-rode the raspberry in the cupcakes, also the cream cheese frosting kind of comes out a creamy colour coz of the butter but I need a white frosting...and the vanilla buttercream frosting was easier to work with and it really brings out the vanilla flavour in the cake and compliments the raspberry I think, only problem being you have to be careful not to get any raspberry crumbs in your frosting or it goes pink! So our vote went to the buttercream whereas Mum and Dad's went to the cream cheese on taste, but the buttercream on practicality....who said they get two votes!? OH and I are having them for dessert again tonight, no judging, no delicate tastings, just plain old eating delicious cupcakes!!


Monday, September 6, 2010

The cupcakes that made me do a happy dance : )

Several months ago amidst a minor tantrum over the quote for our wedding cupcakes, I decided that I would make them myself. I mean how hard could it be? And this was before the cupcake revolution of late that saw them being mass produced in our kitchen! I can't say anyone bar me was too thrilled with this choice, OH thought it would stress me out, Mum wasn't sure it was possible and thought it was alot to take on, the confidence votes were high, but I had decided and that was all there was to it. Stubborn much?! The order of the day was for Vanilla Cupcakes with a Raspberry Swirl and Buttercream frosting. However, I was informed that this would require several trials:

Packet mix raspberry swirl cakes with packet buttercream frosting
Packet mix raspberry swirl cakes with home made buttercream frosting
Packet mix raspberry swirl cakes with home made cream cheese frosting
Home made raspberry swirl cakes with packet buttercream frosting
Home made raspberry swirl cakes with home made buttercream frosting
Home made raspberry swirl cakes with home made cream cheese frosting you see my this weekend I decided to make a start. I made the packet mix raspberry swirl cakes and was slightly concerned at the swirling part because until recently, this is not something I have mastered. But these were super easy to swirl and the mixture sitting in the lil cupcake pans looked so freakin cool I called OH in to come check it out, did a bit of squealing and several happy dance laps of the kitchen...then decided I really should put them in the oven. I waited patiently and holy hell when they came out of the oven, I squealed, I giggled, I danced a lil jig and then I ran outside to get OH...slightly over excited I know, but check them out!

It was a shame to cover those gorgeous marbled cupcakes with frosting really....but half got the buttercream treatment and half got the cream cheese frosting treatment...and I couldn't be bothered making fresh buttercream frosting, but I promise I will for the fresh cake trials. The finished products were divided up and sent off to OH's Mum, my parents and of course us...and now we are just waiting for the votes to come in! We are going to try ours tonight, I am nervous, but really can't wait to cut into them and see if that swirl goes all the way through and really just to see how they taste. Despite the fact that everyone thinks I'm mad, I am looking forward to making our wedding cupcakes, it will give me something to do the day before the wedding and keep me occupied so I don't sit around and stress about things.

Next on my baking list was a request from OH which I found slightly odd, but he was what can you do, you know the Strawberries and Cream jelly cupcakes from the other week? Well OH thought they would be great with Lime jelly and a lemon cream cheese frosting...lime cupcakes just don't sound appealing to me, but I made them and was slightly disappointed they didn't come out green! OH is doing the taste test today so fingers crossed...I'll let you know! EDIT: OH has informed me they were brilliant, the lime gave them a 'zing' and the lemon cream cheese frosting was the perfect match, so thrilled to here it coz I was worried about them!

And finally I have been reading about these cake balls everywhere lately. They are on my list for the next few weeks, but I went for a variation this weekend...

Oreo Truffles
2 pkts oreo smushed as much as you can
1 block cream cheese...maybe two...
Chocolate melts

Combine your oreos crumbs and cream cheese until you get a thick consistency that looks like a big dough ball.
Shape into balls and place in the fridge to set overnight or at least for a few hours
When that is done, melt your chocolate (best to do in batches so it doesn't set)
Place one ball on a fork and then spoon chocolate over it. Place back on baking tray lined with baking paper. Once they are all done put them in the fridge to set.

Now that is the proper recipe...I used two pkts of oreos, about a cup of the cream cheese frosting I had made for the cupcakes and 1 pkt of Nestle milk melts. This worked out well, but I think I added too much frosting as I didn't quite have the thick dough ball consistency, but they could still be moulded into something that resembled a ball...EDIT: OH came home from work and told me these were spot on too, no need to change quantities he says, although I may have over-coated them, but I can't help that I get excited when there is melted chocolate around!

Before chocolate coating

And after...

Nom nom nom....I think the fact I lost half of my bowl of mixture to OH before I got the chance to roll them up says it all...Stay tuned for when we try it the cake balls next week!!

Tonight I am getting out our new wizz bang casserole dish and attempting a Plum Lamb Casserole...OH has been singing plum jam lamb for about 2 days's driving me nuts! Anyway, attempting that tonight and putting our cupcakes to the vote...

Happy Monday!!

Em x


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