Monday, August 23, 2010


I've opened a new account through wordpress. I'm thinking that may be where blogging may take me. Anyway, I'm experimenting to see which blog is more userfriendly. See my first post there - all about baked donuts. Mmmmmmmmm......donuts.........

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beginner slackness......

I'm really struggling with regular posting while working full-time. I'm also so busy, I'm rarely baking these days, which, with me, is a real worry! So, I'm having a big baking weekend this weekend with my sis, and I'm hoping to be re-inspired. I'm also considering how to change so I can have some posts ready in drafts, but that may be a move to wordpress. So, I'm considering my options, and trying to get better! It's a bit slack when I'm new to all of this and already getting slack!!

Watch this space and it'll get better..............

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bill Granger's Ricotta hotcakes

Who could ask for a better husband? Last weekend, my wonderful husband was wanting to cheer me up. So out came the ricotta, violet crumbles, maple syrup, and a few other ingredients. We were in for ricotta pancakes (although Bill calls them hotcakes).
I was a little suspicious that these were not only for my benefit...they are Mark's absolute favourite!
So, butter was mixed with crushed violet crumble (we adjust a little from Bill's).

4 egg whites were beaten until stiff peaks were formed.
They were then folded through a mixture of 1 1/3 cups ricotta, 3/4 cup milk and 4 eggs yolks, mixed with 1 cup sifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt.
Fold this through with a metal spoon (not that I think Mark does this), and you're supposed to do it in 2 batches.
Cook on a lightly greased frypan over low heat for 2 mins or until they have a lightly golden underside.
Turn and cook until cooked through and golden.
Assemble on a plate with banana (cut lengthwise looks more stylish), honeycomb butter, maple syrup and icing sugar. Mark likes to add some Pura double cream also, makes it great!
So, if you wish to spoil loved ones or visitors, these win everytime!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pizza, glorious pizza.

Last night was pizza night in our household. The boys love it, and frankly, so do I. Will had requested it last weekend, but it was too late, we had everything for dinners for each night, and the shop was closed, so we couldn't get frankfurts and prosciutto. And I can tell you, my boys don't consider it pizza if it doesn't have frankfurt on it!! The thing I didn't do last night was to make my favourite pesto and roast sweet potato pizza. I'd forgotten to roast the sweet potato, and I was checking out some new blogs and came across an interesting looking pizza that I had all the ingredients for. I found it on a new-found blog:

It required me to grate 2 zucchinis, squeeze the excess water out, which I just did in some paper towel, and add 2 cups of grated mozzerella and some salt and pepper. This is where it became apparent that I actually DIDN"T have all of the ingredients! I don't buy grated mozzerella for my pizzas, I use bocconcini (baby mozzerella balls - impossible to grate!) So I improvised. I added a handful of parmesan, a handful of grated tasty cheese, and I crumbled up 2 of my bocconicini (it was all I could spare from the other pizzas!) I added my salt and pepper and put it aside.
I then mixed a cup of ricotta with a small amount of crushed garlic, and some salt and pepper. I then put that aside also and get started on the dough. I use Jamie Olivers pizza dough recipe, and it's never failed me!
I halve it to make 4 medium pizzas, this is enough for Mark and I, the 2 boys and leftovers for lunch the next day. It's as simple as mixing 400g bread flour (I sometimes mix white and wholemeal), 100g semolina, 1 sachet of yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar and around 300-350 ml warm water. Mix it, knead it, and wrap it loosely in floured gladwrap.

When it is risen, cut it into 4, and roll each into a thin cricle (ish shape!!) Leave to rest for 10 - 30 minutes, it needs to relax. You can then put some easy to make tomato sauce on it: Heat olive oil, garlic and basil stalks (when in season), then add a 400g tin of whole tomatoes, mash them all up and add salt and pepper. Cook for up to 30 minutes (if you haven't the time, it won't matter).

For my new zucchini pizza, I spread the ricotta mixture, but it was really tricky. I needed to use my fingers. Then I spread the zucchini over the top, and you can sprinkle chilli flakes too if you like them.

Cook the pizzas until the crust is crispy, this depends on your oven and where abouts in the oven they are. Mine usually take about 10 minutes.
Slice them up, and enjoy. Last night I served mine with champagne, a toast to my mum.

Hope you have a go and enjoy!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Control Freak? I think not!

I've shown you these beautiful cupcakes before. They were a gift for a lovely friend of mine whose birthday I was fairly late for! What I didn't show you, was that the control freak within let down her guard and let Will have a go at icing. He loved it, and to be honest, for a first attempt he did brilliantly! Yes, some of the cupcakes are slightly resembling dog droppings, but no one ever listens the first time when they're told to hold the piping bag close.
The closer you hold the piping bag (in my case a glad-bag with a corner snipped off is what I usually use), the more control you have. It's actually the same if you serve yourself 'soft serve' icecream. The closer you hold anything that comes out like that, the neater it will be because you have control of it before it can flop around.
Anyway, Will did a brilliant job and had a great time too.
And, in case you wee wondering, yes I let some of these into the gift boxes too. It was hard to do it, but I managed!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Giada's Crunchy Granola

I'm a snacker, could you tell? I love to have something to munch on quite regularly. Sweet or savoury, I'm not overly fussy, though at times I do have a strong desire for one or the other.
One of my favourite snacking foods is granola. I love it. I don't normally like muesli, mostly because I can't stand cereals and milk. So this, eaten dry, is delicious! The recipe comes from Giada (pronounced Ja-dah). She's on the lifestyle food network, which we gave up last month :( She's an Italian who was brought up in LA, and she's EXTREMELY perky. But I still find her fabulous. I have 3 of her cookbooks, which I ordered from amazon, and they all have some lovely recipes in them. Anyway, here's her granola recipe:
Start by gently toasting 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds in the oven. I turn it to about 150-160C and check it every few minutes. The pepitas will puff up a little, that's when it's ready. While that's happenning, chop a few handfuls of almonds (as many as you like, I like lots!). Then, in a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup cranberry juice, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Use as much cinnamon as you prefer, I like 2 teaspoons. Simmer this until the sugar dissolves.
In a large bowl, place 2 cups of oats, a pinch of salt, the toasted seeds and the chopped almonds. Add the syrup and stir well.

While the mix is still warm, spread it onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spread it out with a spatula. I bake this in an oven at about 170C for 15 - 20 minutes. I then usually drop the oven back to 150C and keep an eye on it every minute until it's ready. I like mine quite crunchy, so I watch it get lovely and brown. If you want it chewy, grab it out when it's only golden, not going darker. At times, I've had the edges starting to burn, so I just pull them off, and put the rest back in.
When it's all ready to your liking, pull it out of the oven, and sprinkle with dried cranberries while it's warm. When it hardens, you can break it up into a container and enjoy at your leisure!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The ease of pancakes.

Tonight I made pancakes for dessert. According to Mark, I should be calling them pikelets, because that's what they really are. But I've always called them pancakes, and I'm not about to stop now. The reason I really made them was that I'm almost out of muffins in the freezer. We've been back at school one week, and already my stocks are getting low! So I needed something sweet for morning teas, without to much sugar and preservatives.
I do try to feed us few preservatives. I'm not fenatical (how do you spell this word?) about it, but I try wherever possible.
The other requirement I had was to be cheap. So, I whisked together (mixing after each new addition to the bowl) one egg, 1/4 cup of caster sugar, 3/4 cup of milk and a cup of self-raising flour. Spoon mixture into the pan, wait for it to bubble, flip it and a minute later you have pancakes. Couldn't be easier, couldn't be cheaper.
With this recipe so easy, don't get sucked into the pancake mix in the bottles. They have preservatives and additives to ensure dried egg-like substances last in the bottle. Of all the things to bake out of a packet, pancakes are just too simple to waste your money and possible health.
So, if you're looking for something to spread with jam and add to the lunch-boxes, whip up a batch of these, and see if they last (doubling is allowed!!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Brownies....need I say more?

I adore Brownies! I don't know how I ever lived without them before I discovered them as a teenager ( I know, a bit slow!) So, whenever I need to take a sweet to a party, I usually whip these up. This weekend was no exception.
On Friday night, I got the butter and chocolate melting, then set about locating the rest of the ingredients. Of course, I hadn't a single egg, so I raced down to the takeaway where I was convinced I'd seen eggs before. Thankfully I was correct! So, back to the recipe. It honestly is a job that takes about 10 minutes, including washing up, then you need only keep an eye on them in the oven.
To make this master-piece, you will need:
200g unsalted butter
125g dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup plain flour, sifted
2 cups caster sugar
2 Tbspoons cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
4 eggs
sifted icing sugar to dust
Here's what you need to do:
Melt your butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stir until melted and smooth. Try your best not to just drink your concoction straight from the saucepan!
Place the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl. Add the eggs and chocolate mixture, and stir well to combine.
Pour into a lightly greased 20 x 30cm rectangular tin lined with baking paper.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out with crumbs, not fudge on it.
Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Slice the brownies and dust with icing sugar.
Eat as many as you can!!
This recipe is from a Donna Hay magazine, and has been my staple Brownie recipe for a few years now. Donna Hay really knows how to do sweets!
I love that this recipe is very quick, and I often cook it when I haven't a long time for preparation.
One change that I have made over the years, is to use Lindt Mint chocolate instead of normal dark choc. This came about when I was making these and had no normal dark choc. I had all the ingredients out, and had my heart set on brownies. I now make this substitution regularly. Brownies with a hint of mint are fabulous!!
I hope you give these a go, they're hassle free and delicious, if a little TOO moreish!

Monday, July 19, 2010

More games to play...

Most of us know that us adults should have 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit a day. Do you know what kids should have? At 4-7 years old, they should have 2-4 of veg, and 1-2 of fruit. At 8-11 they should have 3-5 serves of veg and 1-2 of fruit. And at 12-19 years of age, they should have a whopping 4-9 serves of veg and 3-4 serves of fruit!
The serves of fruit aren't usually a problem. Fruit is generally sweet, so it's quite nice to eat. Veg, on the other hand, can be a bit different, for kids and adults! For those of you who are parents, how do you deal with veg? I have to say, I'm lucky. My boys do eat a decent number of vegies, though not all, and not always the same ones as each other! But they do eat some. The problem I have, is with those meals that just don't onvolve many, or any, vegetables.
Will loves Thai chicken and rice (a specific recipe that we call 'chicken and rice', not just any will do!!) We all love spaghetti bol or schnitzel and chips, but to be honest, even I don't feel like a salad with these meals, and I usually can't convince any of the boys (small or large) to eat salad!

So I play the game......for them and for me. Pureed cauliflower is one of my favourites. Coat chicken with it, instead of eggwash, before crumbs for schnitzel or nuggets. I also add it to the cream for a very thick carbonara. It may only be a little, but it's better than nothing!
I can add almost anything to spaghetti bolognaise! It already has tomatoes and onions in it, but I like to add grated zucchini and carrot, or a marinara sauce if I've got it in the freezer (this has carrots and celery in it).
These games I play, they're not jsut to hide nutrients from the kids, but is also saves me from cooking veg on the side for my health!!
What do you do to maintain Fruit and Veg levels for you and your family?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Prepared and ready....bring it on!

We are ready!! School goes back tomorrow, and our household is ready to go! We have 2 dozen banana muffins individually wrapped in the freezer ready to pop into lunch boxes the night before (well, technically we're down to about 18!)
We have mashed cauliflower packaged and ready to discreetly add to any dish that requires extra nutrients.
We have marinara sauce in 2-cup bags to add to lasagne, spaghetti bol, chicken parmigiana or to toss through fettucine.
We even have minestrone to last a few days for lunch or dinner.
We are so prepared, I've made a double batch of cookies (some with mini m&m's, some with choc and macadamias, and others with crushed violet crumble). These, I roll into balls and freeze on a baking sheet. When they're frozen, I bag them up so that when we need morning teas, or even have unexpected visitors, I pop them in the oven and have fresh cookies in 12 minutes!!
We are ready for whatever this term throws at us!!
...did anyone buy bread? How can I survive without a freezer full of sandwiches????

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sleepy places....

Oh, to be able to sleep anywhere.
I just found these photos while going through photo folders on my computer.
Too cute....

Birthdays, birthdays everywhere.....

Yesterday was the birthday of my wonderful husband. He is only a few years older than me, but of course I tease him about being old!! He's not of course. He's young, fit and fabulous. He grunts a little when getting up off the floor, but to be honest, so do I!! Yesterday morning, I got up at 6.30 so I could make some crepe batter, and decided to do waffles too. Mark had to work, but had someone coming to pick up plants in the morning, so I'd invited him for breakfast too. Crepes were demolished, waffles untouched (Will had begged for them!) But, at least the waffles can be frozen, and cooked at a later date in the toaster.
Today, we had Mark's family over for lunch. I made Jamie Oliver's sticky chicken thighs with chat potatoes and cherry tomatoes, a salad of baby spinach, roasted beetroot and sweet potato with goats cheese and caramelised balsamic, and a dessert of choc cupcakes, choc kisses and melting moments. I'd like to suggest that I don't go overboard with food, I'd be lying!!
I loved that his birthday cake was actually cupcakes, and that there were bikkies involved. Not just because I love them all, but because I have the excuse to get my favourite kitchen item out, my slice stand. This was picked up at a market for about $30. Mark found it for me, and I love it. It's one of the best gifts he's given me!
It always makes the cakes and things look so much yummier.
Also this week, I went and saw one of my beautiful friends for her birthday. Will and I made cupcakes which we took in a gift box, we made grilled vegetable paninis, we also took a jar each of fudge sauce and lemon butter. It was a lovely day, and with her being pregnant, I enjoyed waiting on her!! The only problem being, this birthday celebration was just a touch late. Being mid July that we celebrated would be ok, except that her birthday was in May! Where does time go and what is going on with our priorities??!! Ok, new resolve, friends birthdays must always be celebrated in the month of their actual birthday!!
Happy weekend everyone!