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Mini Toblerone Muffins

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1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
60g butter, melted, cooled
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, lightly whisked
100g Toblerone milk chocolate, chopped

Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 12-hole 2-tablespoon capacity mini muffin pans or line with paper cases.

Step 2
Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre.

Step 3
Whisk butter, milk and egg in a jug. Pour into well. Add chocolate and gently fold until just combined. Three-quarter fill muffin cases with mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand muffins in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe from http://www.taste.com.au

Cherry Ripe Brownie Bar

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This is a recipe I spotted on the Taste website a week or two ago and knew it was going to be perfect for an upcoming morning tea at work. It was definitely very popular.

60g butter
52g Cadbury Cherry Ripe, finely chopped
250g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
45g (1/4 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
100g red glace cherries
125ml (1/2 cup) condensed milk
65g (3/4 cup) desiccated coconut
4-6 drops of red food colouring (optional)

Step 1
Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly spray a 22 x 7.5cm (base measurement) bar pan with oil. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper, allowing sides to overhang.

Step 2
Use a metal spoon to stir the butter, Cherry Ripe and 120g dark chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat until the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 3
Whisk the egg and combined sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add flour. Stir until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre. Cool slightly.

Step 4
Finely chop half the cherries. Cut remaining cherries in half. Combine cherry, condensed milk and coconut in a bowl. Stir in the food colouring. Spoon cherry mixture over the brownie. Smooth surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden. Set aside to cool completely. Remove from the pan.

Step 5
Heat the remaining chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on medium, stirring every 30 seconds, for 2 minutes. Reserve 2 tbs melted chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate over the bar and spread over the top and sides. Drizzle the reserved chocolate lengthways to create lines. Set aside until chocolate sets. Slice.

Recipe from http://www.taste.com.au

Beef Curry

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This is one of my favourite recipes. I got it from my old Home Economics textbook ‘Cookery the Australian Way’. You can make it as hot as you want simply by varying the amount of curry powder. It’s easy to make and could be made in a slow cooker with a cheap cut of meat. It’s a great meal for a cold winters night.

The ingredients are:

500g steak
1 tbs fat
1 onion, diced
1/2-1 tbs curry powder
1 tbs coconut
2 tbs flour
1 apple, diced
1 banana, diced
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tbs fruit chutney
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs sultanas

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Melt the fat (or heat the oil) in a frying pan and cook the beef until brown. Remove from frying pan and drain on absorbent paper. Cover and keep warm.

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Add the onion, curry powder and coconut. Fry for 2 minutes then add the flour and cook for a further minute.

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Add all other ingredients and stir until boiling. Add the meat and return to the boil then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.

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Serve on a bed of basmati rice.

Lemon, honey and olive oil cake – A Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde) recipe

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For Christmas, I bought one of my friend’s Shannon Bennett’s book ’28 Days in Provence’. It’s the story of the time he and his young family immersed themselves in the French way of life in September 2011. They didn’t take any recipe books and purchased nearly everything from the local markets. The book also contains around 60 recipes designed by Shanon.

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Ingredients:

200g caster sugar
3 eggs
salt
250ml milk
250ml extra virgin olive oil
3 lemons, juiced and finely zested
100g honey
300g plain flour, sifted
1 tbs baking powder
icing sugar

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg celsius.
2. Grease and flour a loaf cake tin.

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3. Whisk the sugar, eggs and a pinch of salt in a mixer until thick and pale.

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4. Combine milk, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey in a large jug. Whisk together. Gradually add to egg mixture, whisking until just combined.

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5. Fold through the flour and baking powder. Pour into the baking tin.
6. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden and cooked through.

Dust with icing sugar when cooled.

I don’t have a great oven so it took longer to cook and cracked but it was delicious. So light and fluffy. I’ll definitely be making this again.

Carrot, Zucchini & Bacon Slice

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Ingredients:

4 rindless shortcut bacon rashers, chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, coursely grated
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup self raising flour
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup milk

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The first step is to pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C/ 350F. Grease and line a 30x20cm slice pan with baking paper, making sure some of the paper overhangs the pan.

In a non-stick frying pan over moderate heat, cook the bacon and capsicum for 5 minutes or until the capsicum is tender. Allow to cool slightly.

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Combine the bacon, capsicum, zucchini, carrot, cheese and flour in a bowl. Whisk the milk and eggs lightly. Make a well in the centre and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined without overmixing. Pour into the pan, level the surface and cook for 30-35 mins or until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted in to the middle.

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Recipe taken from Super Food Ideas magazine, June 2013.

Tuna Au Gratin

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This is one of my favourite winter meals, one I turn to when I don’t know what to cook. It’s originally a Weight Watchers meal I found in a magazine lift out a long, long time ago.

The ingredients are simple:

1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cauliflower (I keep the stems)
400g tuna, flaked
1 cup white sauce (bought or made with skim milk)
1 cup peas
grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

First thing I do is boil the carrots and cauliflower. You can microwave them but I find they are never soft enough which affects the taste of the dish. Once they are drained, I layer the tuna then carrots and cauliflower on the bottom of the rectangle dish. I make the white sauce, adding 1 cup of peas, salt and pepper to it before pouring it over the tuna and vegetables. Sprinkle over some grated cheese and cook for 30 mins in the oven at 180 deg celc (350F).

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Salmon with garlic prawns

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For the last few weeks I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I haven’t been trying new recipes and have been cooking very basic meals. A few days ago it suddenly came back to me. I decided I wanted to eat some salmon and looked for some new recipes using it. I came across a recipe for garlic prawns and ta da, my mojo was back.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/7307/garlic+prawns (I haven’t mastered the art of hyperlinking yet).

To cook the salmon I just flavoured it with a little bit of sea salt and served the prawns and salmon with some steamed vegies.

ANZAC Biscuits

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Tomorrow is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corp. On April 25, 1915 the ANZACs entered World War 1 at Gallipoli. It’s a national public holiday in both countries; a time to reflect on how those brave diggers fought for peace. Dawn services are held throughout both countries to mark the time the soldiers landed at Gallipoli.

The humble biscuit made from rolled oats, plain flour, brown sugar, coconut, butter, golden syrup, water and baking soda is synonyomous with the ANZAC soldiers for whom they were made during World War 1. The true origin is often debated but, as always with anything that relates to both Australia and New Zealand, both countries believe they invented them. We Aussies consider it our national biscuit along with Tim Tams.

The story I like is that Aussie women made the biscuits to send to the soldiers in Europe. The ingredients mentioned above are long lasting and won’t go off on a long journey. They had to still be edible after a two month ship passage to the war fields.

The other thing about ANZAC biscuits that divides the nation is whether they should be hard or chewy. Personally I prefer mine chewy but it wouldn’t surprise me if the original recipe and travelling time meant they were hard. To make them more chewy you just need to add more golden syrup.

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In a mixing bowl, mix 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of plain flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup dessicated coconut.

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If you cook with golden syrup you know it’s quite thick and can be hard to extract from the bottle. To liquify it I place the bottle in a cup of boiling water to soften it. It’s much easier to pour out then.

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On your stove, melt 125g butter, add 2 tbs golden syrup and 2 tbs water.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). The liquid will froth up.

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Mix the dry and wet mixtures together.

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Using your hands, make small balls of the biscuit mix. It’s best to keep them quite small because they expand. The ones in the picture below were only about one inch in diameter. Press the balls gently with the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly.

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The last thing you need to do is make yourself a cup of your favourite hot drink, sit down and enjoy them.

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Lazy Friday night dinner

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Tonight was one of those Friday nights when I couldn’t be bothered cooking or eating. It wasn’t until 7.30 that I thought I’d better get a move on or it would be too late. A quick scan of my fridge showed me I had eggs, goats cheese and plenty of tomatoes. I put those three ingredients into my favourite recipe website. Of the ten recipes that came up there was only one I liked and that was Goats cheese and basil scrambled eggs. (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/19316/goats+cheese+and+basil+scrambled+eggs).

It was very quick and easy to make. I cooked toast instead of bagels but sourdough bread or muffins would also work well. I grilled the tomatoes rather than roasting them. That’s much quicker for me. Overall the meal was delicious, especially with the basil torn and put on top. The goats cheese gave the eggs a sharp, creamy taste.

I’ll definitely be cooking this again. I can see it becoming a Friday night favourite.

Lemon, zucchini and chicken pasta

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This was another quick and easy recipe found on http://www.taste.com.au. I had some zucchinis and lemons in the fridge so searched for, and came up with, this recipe. I tend not to follow recipes but use them as inspiration.

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Grate 2 zucchini and cook them in 50g butter until soft. Add garlic and cook for 5 mins. Add the chicken and cook until browned.

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Add pasta (recipe calls for bow-tie pasta but I used macaroni) and another 50g of butter.

Mix everything through and add the juice of one lemon and the rind.

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To serve, grate some parmesan cheese over the top while still warm so it slightly melts into the pasta. I didn’t have any parsley to provide that little hit of colour.

Chicken and Zucchini Pasta

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I came across a recipe that inspired me to cook this. I haven’t had any pasta for a while so was looking forward to it and I’d bought some zucchini the other day because it looked nice. I seem to be doing that a lot these days; buying ingredients to use as a base then finding a recipe to use them.

Instead of buying some pesto I decided to make it for the first time. It was very easy to make but turned out a little bit runny so next time I’ll put less olive oil in and test it to see if I need to add a whole cup.

The ingredients are simple: spaghetti, chicken breast, zucchini, capsicum, pesto. Fry the chicken, then add the zucchini and capsicum fry until softened, add the pesto and spaghetti and mix to coat the spaghetti.

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Honey chicken with spring onions

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Earlier in the week I had one of those dilemmas where I didn’t have much in my fridge or freezer so wasn’t sure what to cook. I found a few things and knew I had some chicken fillets so I googled the following ingredients: chicken, spring onions and capsicum. This is one of the reasons I love the internet. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, just google the ingredients. I now had so many choices. I settled on a stirfry called Honey Chicken with spring onions. What intrigued me was that the sauce contained Vegemite. I’ve probably turned off half of you now but I’ve never cooked with Vegemite so I thought I’d give it a go.

Ingredients:

2 tsp oil
500g skinless chicken fillet, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic (I used it from a jar)
2 tsp fresh ginger (I used it from a jar)
1 capsicum (I used red)
3 spring onions, chopped into 3cm lengths
1/2 cup water
1 tbs honey
3 tsp vegemite
2 tsp cornflour
1 cup bean sprouts (which I didn’t have)
rice noodles to serve (I served on a bed of rice)

Method: (so simple)

Heat oil in a frying pan or wok, add chicken, garlic, ginger and stir fry until browned.
Add capsicum and spring onions and fry for 2 mins.
Stir in combined water, honey, vegemite and cornflour and stir until the sauce has thickened. (You would also add the bean sprouts if you had them). Serve with the rice noodles.

It’s that simple!

Now for my confession. I added some salt-reduced soy sauce to the sauce because I felt it needed some extra taste. I then had a very yummy sauce. I will make this again because it is so simple to make and is a good way of using up vegies. You could also add other vegies if you wanted to.

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Making flavoured yoghurt

raspberry yoghurt

A few years ago I used to buy flavoured Greek yoghurt from a shop in my local shopping centre. Unfortunately they are no longer there but when I came across a recipe for flavoured Greek yoghurt I jumped at the chance to make some. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I’ve now decided to experiment with different flavours using different berries. I can buy fresh berries because it’s summer here.

The one I made last night contains raspberries, honey, whey protein powder and chia seeds and some icing sugar. You simply blend all ingredients except the yoghurt then mix them in with the yoghurt. I don’t know what effect the icing sugar has on it but the flavour is almost exactly the same as the one I used to buy.

Do you flavour your own yoghurt? If you do I’d love to read what combinations you make.

Roasted Capsicum Dip

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Boxing Day in Australia is all about catching up with family and friends you weren’t able to see on Christmas Day. It’s also a huge day for sports: Cricket, Soccer and the Boxing Day Sales.

My parents and I will be spending the afternoon with my cousin and her family. I never like to arrive empty-handed so I have made this dip. It’s my favourite dip and the one I’m well-known for. In fact, when I take another dip people are often disappointed I haven’t brought this one. It’s so delicious.

Ingredients:

125g cream cheese, softened

3 large red capsicums

1/2 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

Method:

1. Cut the capsicums in half and put them face down on a tray lined with baking paper. Roast the capsicums on around 200 degrees celsius (400 deg fahrenheit) for 20-30 minutes or until the skins is blackened. Put aside to cool then peel the skins off. Roughly chop and put in a food processor.

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2. Add the cream cheese, basil and garlic to the food processor and process until all ingredients are blended.

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3. Pour into a bowl, pop some extra basil leaves on top for decoration and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best) to set.

I love cupcakes….do you?

mini choc chip cupcakes

I love cupcakes.  There are so many different varieties, fillings and ways to decorate them.  As this post is posted, I will be enjoying a Christmas morning tea with my work colleagues.  I made 4 dozen cupcakes.  I have no idea why I made so many.  The new recipe I found (I’m always looking for different cupcake recipes) didn’t state how many it would make.  They are mini choc chip cupcakes.  I decorated them in Christmas colours, with red and green icing then dipped them in coconut.

By the way I want to wish my Dad a very Happy Birthday for today.

Baking our Christmas cake

Years ago my Mum and I used to make our Christmas cake every year.  I’ve never been a fan of some that are sold in the supermarkets.  They are ok but when you’ve made your own you realise it’s often better.  Then we switched to regular puddings before making gluten free ones so my sister in law could enjoy them too.  Our whole family loves the GF ones because they are so much lighterr.  Which means you can eat more doesn’t it? haha   This year I felt like making the cake again so Mum dug out the old recipe.

The recipe is a simple one and one that doesn’t take too long to make.  The time is mostly in the cooking (3-3.5 hrs).

First of all I soaked 1 kg of mixed fruit in sherry for 36 hours (minimum 24 hrs).

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.  Taste testing this is the best part of making the cake.  Yum lol

Sift the flour and spices together.

Mix in the lightly beaten eggs.

Mix in the flour then the fruit with a wooden spoon.

Line the sides and base of the cake tin so the cake can be easily removed when cooked.

We don’t put almond icing on our cakes (because I don’t like it and it’s less fussy) so I lay some blanched almonds on top before cooking for 3-3.5 hours.  I test it after 3 hrs and then if it’s still moist in the middle put it on for another half an hour.  If it’s still not quite ready after 3.5 hrs I switch the oven off and let it cook wth the remaining heat.

Once it cools down you have to paint it with sherry then wrap it in foil and a cloth for a week before painting it with more sherry.  It’s best stored for a month before eating to let the flavours develop.  It smells beautiful and I’m glad that it’s at my Mum and Dad’s house because I would be tempted to eat it before the month elapses.  I know my Dad would love to eat it now.

Smoothies

I love smoothies.  They are such an easy, healthy option for breakfast.  Earlier this year I was making them almost everyday but then I developed a lactose overload and my body no longer tolerates much of it.  I was worried about making them again but, after getting bored with other options, I’ve switched back to making them with lactose-free milk.  I would like to know if it’s possible to buy lactose-free yoghurt.  If you know of a brand please share :).

My favourite smoothie contains frozen berries (either blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries or a combination of all), 30g greek yoghurt, protein powder and milk.  In summer I make them with mangoes as well.

Smoothies are great for work because you get the sustained release of taking a while to drink it.  It helps beat those mid-morning cravings.

I’d love to hear of other combinations in smoothies.  What do you put in yours?

Home cooking – Fried Brown Rice

http://www.weightloss.com.au/recipes/accompaniment/fried-brown-rice-recipe.html

This isn’t so much of a fried rice compared to other recipes which is what interested me in the first place.  It’s also much quicker to cook because you don’t have to leave it in the fridge for an hour or more.  The sauce, made up of light soy and ketcap manis (Indonesian sweet sauce), was really nice and one that I’ll use in stir fries in future.  I also added some minced steak to this.

Home cooking – Herbed Chicken Salad with Feta

http://www.weightloss.com.au/recipes/lunch-recipes/herbed-chicken-salad-with-feta-recipe.html

I recently discovered this website by accident.  I think it should be more about healthy eating than weight loss.  There are so many lovely, healthy recipes.

This is the first one I’ve cooked from the website and it is going to become an often-cooked recipe.  I imagine it will be one of the recipes I turn to when I can’t be bothered cooking.  It’s just a matter of grilling a piece of chicken fillet (I cut mine into strips because the fillet was quite thick) and putting together the salad while waiting.  Feta is one of those cheeses I didn’t like until a few years ago but now I love it and use it in small quantities in some salads.

Is there anything better than home-made soup?

I don’t think there is.

I’ve been making this soup for years.  There’s really no recipe for this soup.  I call it Chunky Chicken & Vegetable Soup.  It’s based on a soup my grandma made when I was a little kid.  I used to love the smell of the soup when I visted my grandparents.

Years later I asked my Mum if she knew the recipe.  She didn’t but told me some of the vegies that were included.  I then went and bought them and made the soup.  My house smelt as beautiful as my grandparents house used to smell.  Now it’s a regular addition to my winter menu.  Here’s my recipe (I never weigh the vegetables so they vary each time, often depending on the size of the vegetable):

Chicken breast (cut into strips)

pearly barley (approx 1/4 cup)                              1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

celery                                                                 potato

swede                                                                 turnip

parsnip                                                                onion

carrot                                                                  

Using either a large saucepan, stockpot or slow cooker, bring 2 litres of water to the boil.  Add pearl barley.  Chop the chicken and all the vegies and add them to the pot.  Add more water to cover the ingredients.  Add salt, pepper and mixed herbs (I use dried) to taste.  Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cover for 1 hr.  Add more water if it has dropped below the level of the vegies.  Cook for a further 30-60 mins.  Ensure that the vegies are always covered by water.ImageImage