Friday, December 31, 2010

Swiss Chicken, New Potatoes and Some Christmas Pics!

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

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

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

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

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

You will need

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

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

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

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

Em x

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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

Em xx

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spinach and Cheese Damper and Some Sparklies!

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

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

This recipe served 4 and I used the following:

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

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

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

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

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

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

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

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

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

Only 4 more sleeps!!

Em x

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The last of the Xmas Baking!!

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

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

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

Not So White Xmas
You will need:

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

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

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

Now onto the next one - Chewy Maple Oat Cookies

For these cute lil babies you will need

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

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

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

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

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

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

Em x

Friday, December 17, 2010

Potato Bake - Two Ways!

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

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

Course 3 - Potato Bake!


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

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

And last but not least the Potato Bakes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Em xx

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Parental Dinners and Christmas Baking No. 2!

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

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

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

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

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

And then tonight I made these cute lil Marshmallow Candy Canes

Aren't they adorable? And so simple!

You will need:

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

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

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

And there you have it, marshmallow candy canes!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Em x

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Baking No.1 And The Day That Was!

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

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

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

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

First off the rank was White Christmas!

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

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

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

So simple yet so delicious!!!

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

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

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

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

Two very easy and delicious Christmas baking recipes!!

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

Em x

Friday, December 10, 2010

Putting up the Christmas Tree

In our family it is a tradition to

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

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

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

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

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

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

Em x

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And the Christmas Baking Has Begun.....

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

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

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

Well I'm doing it again!

Over the festive season I would like to make:

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

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

Em xx

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My First Roast Chook!

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

It was all pretty simple - you only need:

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Em x

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pizziola CousCous and Some Xmas Treats!

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

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

Pizziola CousCous

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

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

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

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

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

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

Em x


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