Monday, July 5, 2010

Rum Balls

The birthday party is over, my baby is now a toddler and I have some free time again! First up, I'm going to cheat and share a recipe from the party but it's a treat that my Mum made for me 100's of times over the years as I grew up so I hope you enjoy them as much as I always did. In terms of the title "Rum Balls", I'm not quite sure why they are called that since there is no rum but you are welcome to re-name them whatever you like in your home!

1 packet of Marie biscuits (plain sweet biscuit)
1/2 cup coconut
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tin condensed milk

Crush biscuits in the food processor and place into a bowl. Add coconut, cocoa, vanilla extract and sherry and combine. Mix in condensed milk.

Form balls and roll in additional coconut and place on a tray. Chill balls in the fridge for at least 1 hour and continue to store in the fridge until eaten.

Results: What a simple recipe! It is very easy to make, the only time consuming part is rolling the balls. If you make small balls (bite size - still a reasonable size) then you will get approximately 40-50 out of one mixture. You can double the batch fairly easily but anymore than that and it gets very difficult to mix and you'll need a little extra condensed milk. These balls are always a hit and even my nephew loves to make them now!

Source - my gorgeous Mum

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Giant Cupcake

I just wanted to reassure you all that I haven't abandoned you! I have been very busy with my son's birthday and his party this weekend so haven't had time to test any recipes. In the meantime, I thought I'd post up a photo of Evan's birthday cake that I made for him earlier this week.

I used a recipe that I've posted up on this website previously, originally I made it as cupcakes but this time I made it in a giant cupcake tin and baked it for approximately 1 hour. If you ever decide to try something similar, just test the cake intermittently with a toothpick/skewer.

Link to Donna Hay Chocolate Buttermilk Cake mixture.

Results: A success again! Always a lovely moist cake and Evan certainly loved his first taste of cake so well worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

O.M.G!! If you don't cook another day in your life then you MUST make these first!! Another winner from the Pioneer Woman, I knew they were going to be good with all the rave reviews I've read online so couldn't resist any longer. First you must repeat after me, "sugar and butter are my friend" and once you believe it - you're ready!

500ml full cream milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 package of active yeast
4 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon salt

Heat the milk, oil and sugar in a medium sized saucepan until mixture is about to boil - don't actually allow it to boil. Turn off heat and allow to cool down to a lukewarm temperature.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and sit for 1 minute. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour and stir to combine, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm area for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining cup of flour and stir thoroughly to combine. It can be easier to finish off by hand. Chill the dough in the fridge before using to make it easier to roll out. You can store the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days prior to using however remember to keep "punching" the air out of it.

1 cup unsalted butter melted, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar

Prepare your filling ingredients and set aside. Flour a large surface and take the dough from the fridge. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle shape measuring approximately 75cm by 25cm.
Pour the melted butter over the dough and spread out evenly using your fingers. Sprinkle the cinnamon (I used just under 1/4 cup) over the butter and then sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cinnamon. Be generous!
Beginning at the side farthest from you, roll the dough tightly towards you. Be careful to make the roll as tight as possible until you are left with one long roll of dough, pinch the seam together so the dough is joined. Don't be concerned if the filling oozes at all.

Cut 3cm thick slices from the dough roll, you should be able to produce 20-25 rolls. You can use any type of baking dish, I used 2 pie/quiche type dishes and 1 square dish. Pour a small amount of melted butter into each dish and swirl the dish to spread the butter out, ensure the butter covers the bottom of each dish.
Place the rolls into the dishes ensuring not to overcrowd, cover the dishes with a tea towel and allow to stand for at least 20 minutes before baking so they can rise. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced). Bake for 13-17 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Icing (adapted to Australian ingredients)
500g pure icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 cup full cream milk
50g unsalted butter, melted
1-2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar, milk, butter and vanilla together until combined and the mixture is a smooth consistency. The icing should be thick but easy to pour. Add extra milk if too thick or extra sugar if too thin. Optional - if you like a coffee flavoured icing, add 1/4 cup brewed coffee and reduce milk accordingly.
Once the rolls come out of the oven to cool, generously drizzle the icing over the top. The warm rolls will absorb the icing and make them even tastier.

Results: Like I said, O.M.G!!!! Simply one of the best recipes I've ever made, amazing! They definitely take time to make however the first time always takes the longest due to the unknown so I'm sure it would take less next time. They are absolutely delicious to eat while still warm but just as great the next day. It's important to note that I actually halved all the ingredient amounts as the full recipe makes 50 rolls and with all the sugar and butter, I certainly didn't need to eat 50 of them!!! (so if you do wish to make 50 rolls, ensure to double the ingredients) This is honestly well worth the time spent in the kitchen.

Straight out of the oven - aren't they gorgeous?

Icing poured on while rolls still warm, divine!

10 minutes after the first dish was pulled out of the oven!

Source - The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, page 38. Full recipe (for 50 rolls) & step by step photo's available on the Pioneer Woman website.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Congo Bars

You may be asking yourself what a Congo Bar is...well I sure was when I first read this recipe! This particular recipe is a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie and for some reason, these are called Congo Bars overseas. Some may consider it a Blondie but I disagree as Blondie's traditionally have white chocolate in them. I was curious to taste this recipe once I saw it up on the Bakerella website so here you go...

2 & 3/4 cups plain flour
2 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g unsalted butter, softened
455g brown sugar (light brown if you can find it, it's not common in Australia)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
325g of milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees (160 degrees fan forced) and line a 33cm by 22cm tray with baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, stir the brown sugar into softened butter until the butter disappears into the mixture. It will take approximately 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time into butter mixture and mix well until combined.

Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts and stir to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until combined and then spread the batter into the lined tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Results: At first I wasn't sure if I really liked this but after I kept going back for more, I realised it was pretty good! You do expect more of a chocolate flavour because of the brownie texture but the chocolate chips are great. Because the chocolate chips come in 275g bags here, I also added some chunks of chocolate from a block and it really made a difference - I loved biting into the big chunks! I would even consider making the bars completely of chocolate chunks next time. If you prefer to preserve your arm muscles then you can use a mixer but the texture does turn out better mixing by hand.

Source - Bakerella website

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

This sounds like it's going to taste really good - right? If you aren't convinced by the title then just have a look at the photo below and then surely you are tempted to give it a go...

115g dark chocolate
115g unsalted butter
1 cup pure icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons plain flour

Preheat oven to 220 degrees (200 degrees fan forced), spray 4 custard cups with baking oil and place on a tray. (I used a canola oil spray)

Place chocolate and butter in a medium sized bowl and place in microwave on high for 1 minute until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is also melted. Stir in sifted sugar until combined then whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour.

Divide mixture between 4 custard cups and bake for 13-14 minutes until sides are firm and centre is soft. Let stand for 1 minute before turning out onto plate.

Results: If you like puddings then this is absolutely the one for you! This is amazing! Chocolate pudding with oozing chocolate in the middle - it's just delicious. Of course you have to eat this with cream or ice cream - or both if you want to be daring! Of course this isn't as attractive on the plate as a self saucing pudding served in a ramekin but some sprinkled icing (powdered) sugar on top would do the trick! This pudding is also extremely easy to mix, I sift the sugar earlier and have all the ingredients ready on the side so I can quickly mix and pop in the oven once we finish dinner. Well worth the extra effort.

Source - The Pioneer Woman Cooks website (originally Brandielle for Tasty Kitchen)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Well as some of you know, I'm still practicing for Evan's upcoming birthday festivities so I made some vanilla cupcakes on Friday to see how they tasted and also to test my butter cream frosting recipe to make sure I have no last minute disasters!

Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
175g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tablespoon madeira (optional)
2 eggs
160g self raising flour
100g plain flour
200ml millk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced) and line the cupcake tray with cupcake liners.

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and pinch of salt with electric beaters until pale and fluffy. Add the madeira (optional) and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flours together and using a wooden spoon, fold the flour and milk alternately into the sugar mixture.

Spoon into cupcake liners (1/2 full if you prefer flatter tops and 3/4 full if you prefer rounded tops) and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you would prefer regular sized cupcakes, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mixture makes 24-36 mini cupcakes and 12 regular cupcakes.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
250g pure icing sugar (confectioners sugar), sifted
80g unsalted butter, softened
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric beater or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture very slowly. Once the milk is incorporated into the mixture, turn the mixer up to high speed and mix for no less than 5 minutes. The longer frosting is beaten, the fluffier it becomes.

Add desired food colouring at the end or leave as is. The mixture makes enough to frost 24-36 mini cupcakes and 12 regular sized cupcakes.

Results: The cupcakes are nice, I haven't made vanilla cupcakes previously so can't compare them to anything but they are light and fluffy which is always good. The frosting is sugary and sweet - perfect combination!! If you are piping the frosting which means a thicker layer of frosting, I suggest making a double batch of frosting so you don't run out, I'd rather have more than less!

Source - Cupcake Recipe - Planet Cake by Paris Cutler, page 22
Source - Butter Cream Frosting - The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, page 11

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler

I started following the Pioneer Woman blog recently and immediately ordered her cookbook "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" which has American style recipes. The food pictures all look great so I decided to start with dessert since that always tastes good no matter what!

115g unsalted butter
1 & 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup milk
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen & any type of berry can be used)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (I suggest 160 degrees if you use a fan forced oven) and grease a 3 litre baking dish with butter. (2-2.5 litre would be sufficient)

Melt the butter in the microwave. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, 1 cup of sugar and milk together until combined. Whisk in the melted butter.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar evenly over the top of the blueberries. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbly. 10 minutes before you are due to pull the cobbler out of the oven, sprinkle an additional 2 tablespoons over sugar over the top if you wish.

Results: This tastes as good as it looks in the cookbook!!!! So crispy and sweet and then moist inside with the cake and fruit. You have to eat this topped with lashings of cream or vanilla ice cream, it's an order!! So good and so quick to make, just remember to factor in the baking time.

Source - adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond, page 212.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Zucchini Mini Muffins

I absolutely love zucchini slice...I grew up on it, I introduced my husband to it and I look forward to introducing my kids to it! In fact, I have been contemplating making it for Evan to see if he likes it and to give him something different for lunch. So when I came across a very similar recipe which makes mini muffins, I was curious to give it a go.

2 regular zucchinis grated (or 1 large)
1 small onion, finely sliced
3 bacon rashers, cubed
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease mini muffin trays.

Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and flour in a bowl and stir to combine. In a small bowl or measuring jug, combine oil and eggs. Add the liquids to the dry mixture and mix until combined.

Spoon mixture into mini muffin trays and bake for approximately 15 minutes, test with a toothpick to check if cooked. Makes 24-36 mini muffins.

Results: Yum! These are nice, similar to zucchini slice but lacking seasoning however as the idea of the exercise was to provide food for my child, I deliberately didn't season the mixture. Evan likes them which is great, I've frozen some muffins to see how they defrost as I like cooking food for him that freezes and defrosts well, just saves some time on a day to day basis. The original recipe states that the mixture creates 48 mini muffins, unless they are the worlds smallest muffins then I completely disagree! I got 24 but could have made the second tray smaller and perhaps squeezed 30 out of it.

Source - Recipe adapted from Huggies website

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blueberry and White Chocolate Muffins

My good friend Julia, served these tasty treats for morning tea a week ago and after eating two on the spot and taking four home and only allowing my husband to eat one of them, I knew I needed to learn how to bake them myself!

2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup white choc bits
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g butter, melted, cooled slightly
1 cup frozen blueberries (or any type of frozen berry)

Preheat oven to 18 degrees and grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with cupcake liners.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and choc bits. In a large jug or bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, stir mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Gently swirl frozen berries through mixture without over mixing.

Spoon mixture into muffin tray (makes 12 only) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked when tested with a toothpick. Stand in pans for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Lightly dust with icing sugar to serve.

TIP - If you don't have buttermilk handy then you can make buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a measuring jug and add enough milk (I suggest full cream) to bring liquid up to the 1 cup measurement. Let it stand for 5 minutes then use as needed.

Results: These are so delicious! The outside is slightly crunchy and the inside is so moist and yummy. Definitely one of my favourite recipes and SO easy to make. The first time I made them, they did go too brown on the outside but I believe my oven was too hot so the second time I ensured it was correct and they were perfect. 12 is the perfect amount as they are so good on the day you make them, you just have to eat as many as possible! Although husband assures me that a quick zap in the microwave on the following days works a treat. Thanks Jules!!!!

Source - Creative Gourmet via Ninemsn Recipe Finder (unofficially my friend Julia)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Apple & Banana Crumble

I grew up eating the Apple & Banana Crumble that my Mum baked so when I had several overripe bananas earlier in the week, I decided it had been too long since we last enjoyed a decent dessert!

1-2 large can of dessert apples
4-5 overripe bananas
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a pie dish. (or any type of dish really!)
Line the dish with the apple pieces, peel & slice bananas lengthwise and layer on top of the apple.

For the topping, combine flour and sugar in a bowl and rub butter into the mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Sprinkle over the bananas until completely covered, scatter small cubes of butter on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping turns golden.

Results: Yummy as usual, just one of those super easy desserts that makes enough to feed an entire family. Very easy to make a smaller or larger amount, if you use a large dish then just adapt the amounts. For example - the dish I used in the photo was quite large so I used 1 & 1/2 large tins of apple + 4 bananas + 1 & 1/2 lots of topping. Don't forget the double cream or vanilla ice cream....oh and custard if you are so inclined!!

Source - my gorgeous Mummy :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay there must be a million different recipes out there for choc chip cookies!! I have tried a couple recently and these ones were worth mentioning and even husband agreed they were better than past recipes. This one is adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
115g unsalted cold butter, chopped into cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 & 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cups milk or dark choc chips
Optional: 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted & chopped

Preheat oven to 150 degrees and line 3 cookie trays with baking paper.
Beat sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla and bicarbonate soda. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes and then place small balls of the dough on the cookie trays and bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. You can bake longer if you prefer a very crunchy cookie. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Results: The recipe actually had 18 minutes cooking time but I adapted my recipe to 14 minutes as I could see from watching the cookies in the oven, that they would be very crispy if I left them any longer. It was a good time to pull them out as while they do have the "crunch", they also have some chewiness in the centre which is a nice balance. Instead of choc chips as stated in the recipe, I actually used a block of milk chocolate chopped into chunks and loved finding the chunks rather than small chips. They did go flatter than the photo's posted on Smitten Kitchen so next time I will use smaller chunks of dough to see if that makes a difference.

Source - Smitten Kitchen, sourced officially from Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Almond & Chocolate Slice

I first tasted this slice at a birthday party last month and the next day I emailed my friend to request the recipe as I kept thinking how nice it was.

250g plain sweet biscuits (I use Marie Biscuits)
150g butter
395g can of condensed milk
100g desiccated coconut
1 cup flaked almonds
200g dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped

Crush the biscuits in a food processor (or between baking paper with a rolling pin). Mix in 100g of melted butter, coconut, condensed milk and 1/2 a cup of flaked almonds. Press mixture into a lined lamington tin (20cm x 30cm) and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Add the roughly chopped chocolate and remaining (50g) butter to a bowl and melt on 60% power in the microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted and mixed with butter. Spread chocolate mixture over the biscuit base and sprinkle remaining flaked almonds (1/2 cup) over immediately. Chill in the fridge for an additional 2 hours and once set, slice into squares.

Results - Well clearly this tastes great if I chased down the recipe! It reminds me of another sweet I've grown up on which is probably why I liked it so much. It's very quick and easy to make and it stores in the fridge for days so you can even make it 1-2 days ahead of time if you like. My tip for the base if you are using a food processor to crush the biscuits, is to also add the 1/2 cup of almond flakes in to make them a little smaller, just makes the base smoother. Enjoy!

Source - Off the packet of Freshlife Flaked Almonds (unofficially my friend Natalie)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pizza Dough

I've never considered making my own pizza until recently, I always thought why bother with all that work when picking up the phone to order is much easier! Luckily my friend Skye encouraged me and gave me a great Jamie Oliver pizza dough recipe to try and then when my other friend Nyree said she also uses the same recipe, I decided to go for it.

1kg strong white bread flour or Tipo '00' flour
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar (JO uses golden caster sugar but I used regular)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
650mls lukewarm water

Sieve the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl into the liquid. Keep mixing and drawing larger amounts of flour in until the dough starts to come together. Work the rest of the flour in and start kneading until the dough is smooth and springy.

I actually used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook to start off with, by combining the yeast, sugar, oil and water in the mixer bowl and then adding the flour & salt gradually while on mixing level 2. Once the dough has formed and pulled away from the sides of the bowl, tip out onto a floured surface to knead briefly.

Place the dough into a floured bowl and cover with a damp cloth, place in a warm room to double in size over an hour (or however long it takes). As the weather is cooler here, I placed it on the stove and heated the oven to assist. Once risen, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it around a bit to push the air out which is called "knocking" back the dough. You can use immediately or wrap in clingfilm (aka gladwrap) in the fridge or freezer till required.

The dough makes 6-8 medium pizzas so halve the recipe if you don't intend of making that many! You can roll out the dough 15-20 minutes prior to using, just ensure you flour the bench enough so they don't stick. If you want to roll them out and store in the fridge, then place them on squares of tinfoil rubbed with olive oil and then dusted with flour and stack in fridge. Bake on a pizza stone (absolute must) and I cranked my oven up to the highest temperature and then just kept an eye on the pizza until it looked cooked. I suggest you do this and after the first time you'll know how long to cook them for in the future.

Result - Goodbye local pizza shop and hello homemade pizza!! I am officially converted! In all honesty, this was the best pizza I have had since my trip to Italy for my honeymoon, delicious with a capital D! I highly recommend following Skye's additional tip of sprinkling freshly chopped or crushed garlic over the pizza base before the sauce as the garlic adds a fantastic flavour to the entire pizza. We have already had pizza for lunch again today and my husband watched so he can make his own tomorrow while Evan and I are out! Definitely a meal that the whole family can participate in which is fun.

Source - Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver (unofficially the fabulous Skye!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jelly Slice

My Aunty used to make Jelly Slice every time we had a family event when I was growing up and it was always one of my favourites. I remembered it recently and got the recipe so I can make it for my family as they grow up.

1 packet of Marie biscuits
200g of melted butter
1 can condensed milk (395g)
juice of 2 lemons
2 heaped teaspoons gelatine
1 packet jelly crystals (we always used strawberry)
1 & 3/4 cup boiling water

Base: Crush biscuits in food processor (or crush between baking paper with a rolling pin) and combine with melted butter. Press into 20cm x 20cm tray (I use a glass pyrex dish so you can see the layers) and chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Lemon Layer: Use a jug (that takes at least 500 mls) and combine 3/4 cup of boiling water and the gelatine, stir until dissolved. Add the condensed milk, lemon juice and mix until combined. Pour over the biscuit base and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Top Layer: Combine 1 cup of boiling water and jelly crystals and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes and then pour onto lemon layer - ensure to pour slowly and close to the layer to prevent any holes forming. The longer the middle layer is chilled, the better to prevent holes forming. Place back into fridge to set the jelly.

Result - Wow - it's like being 5 again!!! I was a little worried it wouldn't taste like I remembered after so long but it does - it's so yummy. I always take a bite, then eat the biscuit then the jelly and finally the lemon layer because it's just so good. I shouldn't build it up so much as I'm not sure it would live up to the "hype" but it's not a family favourite for nothing!

Source - my lovely Aunty June :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creamed Rice

I first made this for my baby but it's definitely a dish for the entire family, so delicious!! The photo doesn't do it justice unfortunately but there is no way of getting a decent photo of food in a baby bowl ;)

1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup water
4 cups milk (1 litre)
1/4 cup sugar (I use caster or white)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine rice and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Gradually add the milk and sugar and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking on the base of the saucepan. Add more milk if rice has thickened too much. Add the vanilla and additional sugar if required.

Result - So yummy that it's one spoon for baby, one spoon for Mummy! Very easy to make, I just have it going while I'm cooking dinner or in the kitchen feeding bubs. I do find it takes slightly longer, perhaps 35 minutes. If you're cooking for a large family then I suggest doubling the recipe and even if you have leftovers, cold creamed rice is just as good.

Source -

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Traditional Brownie

I recently purchased the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook because it's filled with the promise of divine cupcakes (it's a famous cupcake bakery in London) and the first item I ended up baking was the brownie - go figure!

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
175g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line a baking tray (measuring 33 x 23 x 5 cm) with baking paper.
Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water) and melt together. Alternatively, you can put chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in microwave. It took about 2 minutes (checking in between) on medium power (not high).
Add sugar and stir until well incorporated. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated. Finally, stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until flaky on top but still soft in the centre. Be careful not to overcook otherwise the edges will become hard and crunchy. Leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar to decorate.

Result - If you love a chewy brownie then this is the one for you!!! Personally, I wasn't overly thrilled with the end product, I prefer a richer, more moist brownie rather than a chewy brownie but you may feel the opposite so you can decide :)

Source - The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, page 100

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

I've looked at the photo's of these cookies on Smitten Kitchen's website a few times and finally gave into the temptation. It's been years since I've baked cookies (apart from the ready made cookie dough sold in supermarkets!) so I wasn't quite sure how they would turn out...I shouldn't have been concerned.

3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
225g unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups of cocoa

Place sifted flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl (or your stand mixer bowl), combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa at medium speed. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line cookie trays with baking paper.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 1cm or 2cm (whichever you desire) and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Don't be concerned about flour on the cookies, brush any excess off and the remainder will bake off in the oven.
Bake for 8 to 11 minutes, the shorter time for 1 cm cookies and longer time for 2 cm cookies, the edges should become firm and centres slightly soft and puffed.

Result - So very yummy!!! They are crispy on the edges and soft and chewy on the inside, similar to a brownie. They are the type of cookie that makes you keep going back for more, needless to say I probably shouldn't make them regularly since I can't stop eating them! Another great tip - I made smaller cookies but also made a few large ones and surprised by husband with ice cream sandwiches. Yum! Nothing better than english toffee ice cream enclosed by two brownie cookies...

Source - Smitten Kitchen -

Monday, May 10, 2010

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

I've been looking for a recipe to make Red Velvet cake for awhile and I found one on Bakerella's website which sounded fantastic. I decided over the weekend I want to make mini cupcakes for my baby boy's party next month so I used this cake recipe and converted the cooking time to suit cupcakes. (makes over 50 so halve the recipe if you don't need that many cupcakes)

2 & 1/2 cups of plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 cups of vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
60 mls red food colouring (I used a 50ml bottle and it was sufficient)

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 & 1/2 packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
60g of butter
4-5 cups of sifted pure icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line mini cupcake trays with cupcake liners.
Place all the sifted dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really well with a wire whisk.
Place eggs into a separate bowl and stir lightly with a wire whisk, add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together until blended.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for approximately 1 minute or until completely combined.
Pour batter into cupcake liners (need to do several rounds of cupcakes) and bake each tray for 10 minutes, insert a toothpick to ensure it comes out clean. If not, cook for a little longer.
Cool on a wire rack and then make the frosting.

Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature.
Beat butter and cream cheese at a medium speed until creamy.
Sift icing sugar into a bowl and then add to the mixer bowl until combined.
Add vanilla extract until combined, 2-4 minutes is ideal.

Apply the frosting to the cupcakes, I used a piping bag as the cupcakes are so small so it looks nicer.

Result - Delicious!! The cupcakes look fantastic and taste so good, very moist and the frosting is just divine. I am so tempted to make them for the party however not sure the red colouring in the cake is ideal for children - but they are just so beautiful I'm not sure I'll be able to resist. In regards to the colouring, the recipe called for 60mls and I used 50mls and the cakes were a vibrant red so I would imagine you could use 30-40mls and get away with it.

Source - Bakerella -

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My New Crush + Buttermilk Scones

Happy Mother's Day to all those gorgeous Aussie Mummies out there! Today was my 1st Mother's Day with my baby boy and it was such a wonderful day, I feel incredibly blessed to be lucky enough to have a child, let alone my beautiful boy! Bonus? My new almond cream KitchenAid Stand Mixer, love at first sight!

Needless to say, I had to try something in it...anything!! Hence the Buttermilk Scones.

2 cups self raising flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
pinch of salt
60g chilled butter, chopped
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (personally I believe 180 degrees would have been sufficient) and line a tray with baking paper.
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and add butter. Using fingertips, rub butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well in centre of mixture. Add buttermilk and using a flat-bladed knife, stir until a sticky dough forms. (alternatively - use speed 2 on KitchenAid mixer until dough forms)
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll dough out until 2cm thick. Using a 6cm round cutter, cut out scones. Repeat process until dough used up.
Place scones on prepared tray and brush with buttermilk and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Serve with jam and cream.

Result - Not bad but not great, like I mentioned during preheating the oven, I believe the recipe should have had a lower temperature as the scones browned very quickly but weren't cooked enough inside when first checked. Good enough to fill in 30 minutes so I could use my new present!

Source - Claire Brookman, Super Food Ideas, June 2009 (care of

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Date and Walnut Loaf

Technically this recipe is called "Date and Walnut Rolls" but I refuse to pay $36 for 2 round upright tins in order to make the recipe so I used my loaf tin and it worked perfectly and I can spend the money on something else!

60g butter, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 cup finely chopped seeded dried dates
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten lightly

Preheat oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line the loaf tin with baking paper, I use a tin measuring 11cm x 21cm.
Combine butter and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until butter melts.
Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in dates and soda, then sugar, sifted flour, nuts and egg.
Spoon mixture into tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes and test with a skewer to ensure it's cooked.
Stand the loaf for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Result - Such an easy recipe to make, I baked it the other morning while my baby boy played in between his breakfast & nap time! It's very yummy, especially with some butter as an afternoon snack. Just ensure not to overcook so the loaf doesn't get dry, it's lovely and moist if it's pulled out at the right time.

Source - Women's Weekly Classic Cakes, Page 129

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

In preparation for my baby boy's 1st Birthday next month, I need to start learning how to make cupcakes!! I have never made a cupcake before in my life so today I started on my "birthday baking mission" and whipped up some chocolate cupcakes using a Donna Hay cake mixture that I adapted to cupcakes.

1 cup of water
125g butter, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate baking soda, sifted
2 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
100g butter, softened
500g cream cheese
2 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar mixture, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted

Preheat oven to 160 degrees and prepare a muffin tray with cupcake liners, the mixture makes approximately 16 medium sized cupcakes.
Place the water, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter has melted.
Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl , add the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine.
Divide mixture between the cupcake liners and bake for 16-18 minutes, test with a toothpick before taking from the oven in case extra cooking time is required.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the cream cheese frosting. Place the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and beat for a further 6-8 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Result - Pretty good for my first cupcakes ever!!! The cupcakes are light and fluffy and a little crispy on top which is nice. Of course these are my first batch so I will be able to make better comparisons as I go along. Major roadblock = Frosting!!! I decided to halve the frosting ingredients as I thought it would be too much but somehow didn't use less butter so it didn't taste very nice as you can imagine! As I was making the cupcakes to take to afternoon tea at a friends house, I did a quick trip to Coles to pick up some pre-made Betty Crocker frosting to save my cupcakes. Betty Crocker frosting should be in everyones pantry to save the day ;)

Source - Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 50 (Adapted from Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Banana Bread

I found this recipe on the Taste website and it had so many positive comments that I couldn't resist giving it a go myself. On the advice of the Taste comments, I changed one ingredient which was to substitute self raising flour for some of the plain flour to help it rise. Overall, the recipe is quite easy to make as well which is a total bonus!

1 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
100 g walnut crumbs (or chopped walnuts)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large over ripe bananas
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g salt reduced or unsalted butter, melted & cooled

Preheat oven to 175 degrees and lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line with baking paper leaving 2cm of paper overhanging each side to easily pull loaf out afterwards.
Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a bowl with the sugar, then add nuts.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas, then stir in the eggs, vanilla extract and cooled melted butter. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just combined, don't overmix.
Scrape cake batter into prepared pan. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire rack.
Will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container or frozen in individual slices for up to 1 month.

Result - Delicious!! The banana bread is moist and the crust is crunchy, would be lovely toasted with some butter as a snack. Some other suggestions to the recipe are to add an extra banana or use extra large eggs for additional moisture or even substitute chocolate chips for the nuts which may make it a hit for the kids!

Source - Kate Nichols for Delicious Magazine, September 2007 (viewed on

Monday, May 3, 2010

Searching for the perfect Brownie...

Over the years I have attempted Brownies but never been happy with the results, I have even resorted (shock horror!) to packet mixes with no success. So this week I have decided to start trying new recipes in order to find the "perfect brownie".

370 g (2 & 1/2 cups) caster sugar
80 g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
60 g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
250 g unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
200 g dark chocolate buttons

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
Stir sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
Mix in chocolate buttons.
Pour into a lined 22cm (9 inch) square tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.

I have made this recipe in the past and didn't like that the chocolate buttons sink to the bottom of the tray and form a thick crust so this time I actually melted 100 g chocolate buttons and added to mixture then mixed in a handful of buttons and was happier with the end result.

Result - Yummy! (does any brownie ever taste bad?) The outside is slightly crunchy and very chewy and the inside is moist. I pulled them out of the oven at 40 minutes so perhaps with another 5 minutes, the inside might feel a bit more "cooked". Disappointed with the overall look, not sure if I did something wrong but the edge of the brownie is raised and the middle of the brownie is completely flat. Not something I could cut up and present to anybody other than my husband - not that he's complaining!

Source: Bills Food by Bill Granger, page 180