Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Easter Holiday Round Up!

Well we had a pretty busy Easter....

It all began on Friday with lunch at Mum and Dad's - homemade Hot Cross Buns, Cheese, Biscuits, Chocolate Dip and most importantly thought I was going to say chocolate didn't you....

Well never fear, the Easter Eggs are here!!

After a very satisfying lunch, OH and I jumped on a plane for Melbourne where we spent our first night indulging in Lord of the Fries and some Rockstar Bowling!

The next day we had a hearty breakfast of Spanish Donuts and Irish Cream flavoured Hot Chocolates, went to Brunswick, did some shopping, got ready for a night out and met one of OH's friends for a few 'manly' cocktails

Then we went out for dinner where lil ol vegetarian me had my first beef schnitzel which came with buffalo mozarella, roast capsicum, tomatoes and polenta chips! Delicious!! It even got the thumbs up from OH!

Sunday started off down at Ackland St, St Kilda....decisions, decisions....

We eventually settled on the perfect breakfast - strawberry meringues! But they ended up lasting us all day!

Then it was out to Luna Park for some hair raising excitement and a leisurely stroll out and along the pier.

Sunday night we went to a burger place called Grill'd (highly highly recomment it - best burgers EVER!) for tea and rocked out at the Disturbed concert.

Monday morning we had our traditional last day in Melbourne Pancake Parlour brekkie which included Swiss Malt Milkshakes!

But I couldn't finish mine....luckily OH was happy to assist!

Then it was time to jump on the plane home!!

Hope you all had a fantastic Easter break :)

Em xx

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

Ok so being Easter and all and with Mum and Dad coming out tonight, I thought I better pull out all the stops. I made some fresh Hot Cross Buns yesterday and thought they would look pretty specky as a bread and butter pudding in individual ramekins. I had images of one hot cross bun surrounded by a sea of custard....but upon putting them together, I figured it would be better to tear the buns up, so whilst not as pretty as I had planned, they taste pretty damn good!

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

4 mini Hot Cross Buns
3 eggs
375ml milk
2 tbspn caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence

Tear the hot cross buns up or leave whole and place in 4 small individual ramekins.

Combine the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla in a jug and whisk until combined.

Pour over buns and let soak for at least 20 mins.

Bake in the oven for around 30mins at 180C or until custard is set. Serve with cream.

I got such a suprise when I went back to the oven, I may have squealed a little, my lil bowls of mush had turned into these big (like huge!) gorgeous golden puddings!!

Would be extra yummy with choc chip hot cross buns too not to mention a perfect way to use up any left over or stale buns, but let's be honest, who ever has left over hot cross buns!?

Happy Easter everyone!!

Em x

Friday, April 22, 2011

Caramelised Onion Risotto Cakes

At work yesterday we had a special birthday in the office and I know that Lynne has a 'savoury' tooth rather then a 'sweet' tooth so I thought these caramelised onion risotto cakes would be the perfect treat!

They were actually very easy too!

All you need is

1.5 cups of arborio rice
4.5 cups of boiling chicken stock
1 large brown onion diced
1 tbspn brown sugar
2 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1 tbspn butter
3/4 cup of parmesan
120g of mozarella cut into small cubes

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine your rice and stock and boil until all the liquid is absorbed. If the liquid is absorbed and the rice is still not cooked, just add some more.

Meanwhile in a fry pan over medium heat, cook the onion for around 10 mins or until softened. Then add balsamic and brown sugar and cook for a further 5 mins or until nice and caramelised.

When the risotto is done, stir through the onion, parmesan and butter and place in the fridge to cool for 3-4 hours.

Once the risotto is cool, pre-heat oven to 180C (fan forced) and grease a 24 hole mini muffin tray. With this recipe I got 24 mini muffins and 6 normal sized ones so you may want to grease a back up tray too!

Form the risotto into balls and push a piece of mozarella into the middle of each one. Make sure you cover the mozarella up though so it doesn't leak out during cooking.

Place the balls into the prepared muffin tray and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden.

Let the balls cool in the tray for about 15 mins and then remove. They will firm up upon cooling.

Now I prefer to serve these cold but OH prefers to heat his up so each to his own!

I hope you all have a fantastic Easter, I will be holidaying in Melbourne over the break and can't wait!

Em x

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beefy Spanish Rice

This is my favourite favourite favourite (did I mention it's my favourite?) rice recipe, it is packed with flavour and absolutely delicious and best of all, it's so quick and easy to prepare! The portugese seasoning gives it some spice with a hint of lemon and the combination of juicy tomatoes, crisp capsicums and red onion is just spot on! We get 3 serves out of this recipe, although the third serve usually disappears before the end of the night!

All you need is

500g beef mince
1 red and 1 green capsicum diced
1 red onion diced
3 tomatoes diced
2.5 cups of cooked rice
2-3 tspns portugese seasoning

In a fry pan over medium heat combine the mince, capsicum and onion and cook until mince is browned.

Add portugese seasoning to taste and cook for 2-3 mins or until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and rice and stir to combine. Let it cook for around 3-4 mins to heat the rice and tomatoes through and voila! How easy is that! Perfect for a mid week meal when you don't have time to cook!

Happy Wednesday!!

Em x

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hot Cross Buns and ANZACS

Well seeing as next weekend is not only Easter, but Anzac Day too, I was really left with no choice but to spend yesterday afternoon whipping up some Hot Cross Buns and some Anzacs - keeping in mind I had to make enough Anzacs to keep OH and Dad happy (coz they fight over them) so I made 3 batches (around 72 biscuits!) and I had to make Hot Cross Buns for OH (who doesn't like fruit in them), for me (who likes them low cal and with sultanas) and for Mum and Dad (who like sultanas too!). So we had quite a flurry of baking activity yesterday afternoon, but after having a chewy Anzac straight out of the oven and a soft buttery Hot Cross Bun for brekkie this morning, it was well worth it!

I think I have posted my Anzac recipe before, but I've changed it a touch so I'll do it again!


Too easy!! All you need is:

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

Pre-heat oven to 150C (fan forced) and grease two baking trays.

Combine flour, oats, sugar and coconut in a bowl.

Melt the golden syrup and butter together in the microwave. Once combined, add the bicarb and water and stir well.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix.

Shape the mixture into 24 balls with your hands and place on the trays. You will probably only get 6 on each tray so you might have to do two batches.

Bake for 12-15 mins until the biscuits are golden. They will still be soft but they will harden up once out of the oven (but still keep that gorgeous chewy centre we all love!)

Hot Cross Buns (with or without sultanas!)

You will need:

7g sachet (2 teaspoons) dry yeast
3/4 cup milk, warmed
2.5 tbspns caster sugar
2.25 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon allspice
40g butter chopped at room temp
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sultanas

For the Glaze
1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
1 tablespoon boiling water

For the Flour Paste
1/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Grease a large square cake pan.

Place yeast, milk and 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof jug. Stir to combine. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes or until foamy.

Sift flour and spice into a bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in centre. Add yeast mixture, egg (and sultanas if you want them). Stir to combine. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I always sit mine in the microwave :)

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes or until smooth. Roll into 16 balls. Place balls in prepared pan. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until risen slightly. Be warned they will spread! I had mine nestled all snug in the pan....but then they rose a bit more and got a bit too snug!

Meanwhile preheat oven to 200°C (fan-forced).

For the flour paste - combine flour, sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water in a jug - it should be nice and thick. Spoon into a snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner from bag. Pipe crosses onto buns. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

For the glaze - place gelatine, boiling water and remaining sugar in a heatproof jug. Stir with a fork until gelatine and sugar dissolve. Place buns, top-side up, on a wire rack. Brush with gelatine mixture. Sometimes I skip this step coz OH prefers them unglazed but it does make them look pretty.

This is my favourite bun recipe though, they come out light and fluffy and they just pull apart like hot cross buns should and they are spectacular hot or cold with a bit of butter. We have a tradition in our house that we always have home made hot cross buns for brekkie on Easter Sunday but we are in Melbourne this year so I might have to smuggle some over in my bag!

Em x

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mini Curried Pumpkin Tarts and a Suprise!!

Well I got home from work tonight and there was a parcel addressed to OH but he was adamant that it was for me so, hesitantly, I opened it and look what I found!

It is the most gorgeous winter coat I think I have ever seen! It is a thick woolen grey coat with a damask print down the centre panel and on the arms, I think I'm in love! It took some digging but eventually OH admitted that it was partially to cheer me up coz i've been so down about my health, partially because he knows I have wanted a coat like this (oh but I could never have imagined one so beautiful) and partially because he just gets sick of roasting when we go in the car and I crank the heaters! He does have remarkably good taste though don't you think!

And because I'm in such a good mood I thought I would whip up some goodies for work tomorrow and eventually I settled on these Mini Curried Pumpkin Tarts

You need
about 300g of cooked mashed pumpkin
120g of reduced fat feta crumbled
2 sheets of shortcrust pastry
3 eggs beaten
1 tbspn curry powder
300ml of thickened cream
1/2 tub of Chunky Basil and Cashew Dip

To begin with pre heat the oven to 170C fan forced.
Combine the pumpkin and feta in a bowl and set aside.
Cut your pastry into 16 lil squares (cut into quarters and then cut each quarter into four!)
Grease 2 x mini muffin tray and line the holes with the pastry squares.
Divide the pumpkin and feta between the pastry squares.
In a jug, combine the cream, eggs and curry powder and gently pour over the pumpkin to just fill the tarts.
Bake for around 20 mins or until filling is golden and set.
Once the tarts have cooled down, use a teaspoon to remove a tiny bit of the filling from the centre. Spoon some dip into the hole and pat down to create a flat finish. You don't want too much dip as it will over power the other flavours, but just enough to give it some bite.

You could heat these up in the oven again before serving or simply eat them cold and I find sometimes the flavours work better when they are cold anyway :)

Happy Wednesday everyone!!

Em x

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Savoury Goodies

I like a good sweet nibble as much as the next sugar addict, but sometimes you just want little savoury nibbles you know? Usually when you have OD'd on sugar and need something to bring you back to Earth....or sometimes it's just nice to give your guests some variety!

So the other night I had a play around with some stuff in the fridge and we ended up with this selection of delightful little goodies.....

These mini savoury pumpkin rolls were very easy and are a great vegetarian treat for lunch boxes or your party guests

I just cooked up 1/4 of an onion (diced) with 300g of mashed pumpkin. Stirred through 1 egg (beaten), 60g of reduced fat feta (crumbled) and 40g of semi dried tomatoes (chopped). Then I had one sheet of puff pastry which I cut in half. Then I spooned half the mixture down one length of the pastry and rolled up to seal. Repeat with remaining filling and pastry. Using a sharp knife cut each roll into four (but don't cut all the way through - this way they will be easy to snap apart when cooked). Brush with melted butter or milk and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 15-20 mins or until pastry is puffed and golden.

Now when I had done these I realised I had some semi dried tomato, feta and onion left over so what better to do then make a Savoury Lamb Roll for OH's lunch tomorrow. I cooked the onion up with 200g of lamb, a tspn of allspice and a tspn of crushed garlic. I mixed through 1 egg (beaten) and around 30g of diced semi dried tomatoes and 40g of crumbled feta. I folded two sheets of filo pastry in half and spooned the mixture evenly down one length, leaving a 2 cm gap at the short edges. Then I rolled it lengthways to enclose the filling and folded the edges in underneath. Brush with egg wash or melted butter and cook for 15-20 mins or until golden. Got the seal of approval from OH and the smell was just devine!

And last but certainly not least, these Pumpkin, Feta and Semi Dried Tomato Rice Frittatasthat will delight your taste buds and your nostrils! (Sounds weird I know, but don't judge....bake them yourself and see!!)

300g pumpkin cut into small cubes
1 onion finely diced
1 zucchini grated
1 carrot grated
70g semi dried tomatoes diced (try and soak as much oil out of them as possible - wrap them up in paper towel for around 30 mins prior to use)
1 cup cooked rice
2/3 cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper
1 cup self-raising flour
4 eggs
60ml oil
160g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

Pre-heat oven to 170C (fan forced)
Cook the onion and pumpkin in a fry pan over medium heat until pumpkin is soft and onion is tender.
In a bowl combine all other ingredients and stir well to combine. Add pumpkin and onion and stir again.
Spoon mixture in greased muffin pans (I got 24 mini muffins and 9 medium muffins out of this recipe).
Bake for around 15-20 mins for mini muffins and 30-35 mins for medium muffins.

And then let your senses enjoy the ride!!

I know I was on a slight feta and semi dried tomato kick but you all understand right? If you don't now, you will once you've tried some of these!!

Em x

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Round 2 of the Easter Baking Madness

It is officially filled easter egg madness around here! We have caramel filled white chocolate eggs, caramel filled chocolate eggs, rocky road eggs with marshmallow and turkish delight and even some filled with starburst lollies (purely at OH's request!)

Above we have caramel filled white chocolate and starburst filled chocolate and below we have caramel filled chocolate and rocky road!

Nom nom nom nom!!!

I think I need to stop now coz I wanna make some with nutella fillings and rum and raisin fillings and the possibilities are just endless!! Did I mention I have some caramel and some strawberry filled bunnies setting in the fridge - someone stop me!!

Oh and I went to Habitat today...god I love that shop, it just makes me happy you know? And look what I got - a big glass heat proof board and it has all these old fashioned recipes for gingerbread and sponge cakes and chocolate cakes on it - it's so adorable!

Hope your all having a great weekend!!

Em x

Friday, April 8, 2011

Caramelized Apple Pies with Caramel Sauce

OH requested something for dessert this week that involved crispy about leaving my options wide open!! I had something kinda like an apple tarte tartin in mind, although it turned out more like a pie but the thought was there!!

I put 800g of apple in the fry pan with 1 cup of brown sugar, 100g of butter and 2 tbspns of lemon juice and just let it simmer away for about 20 - 30 mins until it was cooked down and the apples were gorgeous and caramelised. Then I lined some ramekins with puff pastry, poured the apples in and folded the pastry down over the top. Finished it off by brushing with some butter and baked for about 15-20 mins or until they were beautiful and golden.

While the pies were cooking, I added about 1/2 cup of thicken cream, 1 tbspn butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar to the pan with the juices left over from the apple and cooked it down for around 5-10 mins until I had a beautiful caramel sauce - it's kind of like melted jersey caramels! I think this sauce would be great just poured over vanilla ice cream too or hell just eat it with a spoon!

Once the pies were cooked I served them drizzled with some cream and the caramel sauce poured over the top.

They were sooooooooooooooooo good and the smell when the apple was cooking was devine!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Em x

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hunza Pies and Vegetarian Stir Fries!

Hehehe that title kinda rhymed...god I'm easily amused....Wow, this week is flying by, but personally I don't mind, I'm exhausted! The doctor's are playing around with my iron tablets and have upped my dosage from 30mg a day to 600mg a day! Iron Man eat your heart you! It's making me slightly queasy and I'm still buggered but I spose it takes a lil while for them to kick in. I am also cooking like a woman possessed which I am loving :) I got asked to cater for a big board meeting at work this weekend and on top of that one of the ladies we work with had an accident and broke her shoulder a few days ago so the other ladies in the office all chipped in and I'm going to make 3 or four different dishes to tide her and hubby over. I am seriously thinking about doing my hospitality certificate so I can work as a cook, not a chef, a cook, I think that is what I would like to do because honestly I get so excited at the chance to cook / bake / make something. I just need to find a way to do the course part time if they will let me coz most of them seem to be Mon - Fri but unfortunately that won't pay the mortgage you know?

Anyway, moving on to what we are all came for - The Hunza Pie! Slight twist on the original here though as most versions of this dish I've seen don't involve mince but due to my iron issues and OH's vegetarian issues we decided to try this one!

5 sheets fillo pastry
1 onion diced
350g lamb mince
1 tspn crushed garlic
2 tspns allspice
500g spinach
1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 cup of grated cheese
3 eggs
Melted butter or milk for brushing

Pre-heat oven to 180C (or 160C fan forced) and grease one large baking dish or four individual ones.

Cook spinach in the microwave for 2-3 mins and when it cools, squueze out all the excess liquid.

Cook onion and mince in a fry pan over medium heat. Once the onion is transperant, add the garlic and allspice, cooking until the mince is browned and the spices are fragrant.

Combine mince mixture with cooked rice, cheese, spinach and egg.

Line your baking dish(es) with the fillo sheets. If you are using individual dishes, use one sheet per dish. Spoon the mixture into the dish(es) and fold the pastry down over the top. Brush with milk or melted butter. Bake for around 20 mins or until pastry is golden. Serve with salad or steamed greens :)

And while I'm here, let me show you the gorgeous vegetrarian stir fry OH whipped up the other night - just some capsicum, zucchini, carrot and spring onion cooked up with hoisin sauce and some sliced up omelette mixed through - pure heaven!

And some lil white mint chocolates I made using a mould I got for Christmas and totally forgot about! I love them!!

Hope you're all having a fantastic week :)

Em x

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Round 1 of the Hopping Good Easter Goodies

So many goodies, so little time!

Ok so our first easter treats are these Chocolate and Strawberry Hot Cross Cake Balls!

These are so easy to make and so worth it!!! Just try not to eat all the mixture before you have made your balls!

All you need is
1 pkt of chocolate cake mix (I just use the home brand one)
200g of strawberry fondant (you can buy it in jars at craft stores like Spotlight)
250g of chocolate melts
plus 50g of chocolate melts in the opposite colour for your crosses (so if you coat the balls in milk chocolate, use white or dark chocolate for your crosses)

Make your cake as per the packet directions. Once cooked, let it cool for 10-15 mins and then tip it into a bowl and take out all your frustrations on it. Punch it, squish it, do whatever you like to it, just break it up!

Add the fondant and get your hands in there to combine it all. Squish it all together until you have a big ball of strawberry chocolatey goodness. You might need to add a bit more fondant if it's not holding together or you feel it needs more strawberry flavour. Once you have a nice big round ball, leave it in the bowl and place in the fridge for an hour or so to cool down and firm up. You can even leave overnight if you prefer.

Remove from the fridge and roll the mixture into smaller balls. Place on a lined baking tray - you should get around 20-24 (depending on how much mix you ate!). Place the tray in the fridge for another hour or so to firm up.

Melt your 250g of chocolate in the microwave - it's best to do this in batches of say 60g at a time so the chocolate doesn't harden while your working.

Roll the balls in the melted chocolate and place back on the lined tray. Make sure you clean your bowl well between chocolate batches so it doesn't seize whilst melting the next lot.

Put the tray back in the fridge and an hour later you should be ready to pipe your crosses. Melt the 50g of chocolate in the microwave and spoon into a zip lock bag. Cut a small corner out of the bottom and pipe your crosses over. As the chocolate is cold, these will harden fairly quickly.

And there you have some delicious Chocolate and Strawberry Hot Cross Cake Balls! I know the recipe sounds long but it's really easy, make your cake, mush it up, add your flavouring and let it set then roll into small balls and coat with chocolate! Plus the flavour combinations are endless, I have several batches setting in the fridge at the moment including vanilla cake and caramel fondant, coconut cake with chocolate fondant and chocolate cake with cream cheese banana frosting (Dead easy - one tub of cream cheese mixed with about 1/4 cup of banana quick)!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm yummo!!!

And here are some of our easter chocolates from our new moulds

Aren't they adorable!!

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!!

Em x


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