Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lime and Ginger Cookies

Tati over at Polka Dot Pantry Sweets described these cookies as amazing, and I have to agree.  Teena and I both love them!  Visit Tati's blog if you would like the recipe.

I used a lime from our potted Patio Lime. It was only a small lime though and I think the cookies could have used a bit more lime flavour.

I wouldn't recommend using a hand mixer like this one for making cookies and cakes though...  I think I need to get myself a proper electric mixer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Raspberry Spiced Muffins

This is our favourite spicy muffin recipe, I just love the combination of spices and the muffins are just delicious!  I've made a few different variations by changing the type of berries and nuts.  This one uses raspberries and sunflower seeds rather then nuts.  The original recipe was for Cranberry Spiced Muffins which I found while trying to find a way to use up some leftover cranberries.  I use frozen raspberries as that's how we buy them, but you could use fresh if you prefer.

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 tbs white sugar
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 tbs sunflower seeds, extra
  • 1 tbs brown sugar, extra

Put the frozen berries into a bowl, sprinkle a little white sugar over the top and add 1 tbs boiling water.

Mix the flour, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg.

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir until just combined.

Spoon the mix into a 12 cup muffin tray which has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Put the extra sunflower seeds and brown sugar into a mortar and pestle and mix until the seeds are crushed slightly.

Sprinkle the crushed seed mix on top of the muffins and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Try to let them cool just a little before tasting :)  What's your favourite muffin flavours?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pumpkin, Spinach and Eggplant Lasagna

I had planned to make some Moussaka, but I'd used some of the ingredients the night before, so I looked around for a lasagna recipe with pumpkin and spinach in it.  I didn't really find one that I liked, but I had a good idea of how I wanted to do it and I've made traditional lasagna heaps of times.  So I just made a lasagna with layers of all the ingredients I wanted to use, pumpkin, spinach and eggplant.

I was also trying some dried wholemeal lasagna sheets which I soaked briefly in some boiling water before using, but you can use any type.  I like using fresh lasagna sheets as you don't get any uncooked bits in your lasagna.

  • Lasagna Sheets
  • 400g Pumpkin
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • 2 Eggplant
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Brown Onions
  • 400g Tin Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 tbspn Tomato Paste
  • 100g Button Mushrooms
  • 1 tbpsn fresh Oregano
  • 1 qty of Bechamel Sauce

Heat some Olive Oil in a frypan and cook onion and garlic until soft.  Add mushrooms and oregano, cook for another minute.  Add tomato paste and tomatoes, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Slice eggplant in thin slices and sprinkle with salt.  Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry eggplant in batches until brown on both sides.  Transfer to some paper towel.  Peel and slice pumpkin thickly.  Steam or boil pumpkin for about 5 minutes to soften slightly.  Chop Spinach roughly and toss it in some boiling water for a few minutes.  Transfer to some paper towel to drain.  Squeeze out extra moisture before using.

In a large dish, spoon a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom.  Add a layer of lasagna sheets then top with a layer of eggplant, a layer of spinach, followed by a layer of pumpkin.  You don't have to fill each layer, just scatter evenly.  Add another layer of lasagna sheets, followed by the tomato sauce and then eggplant, spinach and pumpkin.  Repeat like this until you have used up all your ingredients.  I managed to build three layers with mine.

Top with a layer of lasagna sheets and finish by pouring the bechamel sauce over the whole lasagna.  Cook in oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes, or until the lasagna sheets are soft when tested with a skewer.  I forgot to put any cheese into my bechamel sauce... and if I had remembered I probably would have scattered some on top as well.  It was still very tasty though!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I love the internet.  Mostly because you can get information about anything with the click of a button, but also because it allows people from all over the world to share their lives with each other.  It allows us to share ideas and discover new ways of doing things.

For example, I used to play online games with friends who live in America (I live in Australia).  During this time, one of my friends, Chris, would often say he was going to make some PnJ on toast.  I had no idea what he was talking about and when I asked him what PnJ was, he was amazed that I didn't know and was quite happy to share something that appears to be a part of American culture.  Of course most of you probably know that PnJ is Peanut Butter and Jelly.

In Australia, Jelly is a crystalised powder that, when mixed with hot water and then chilled, turns into a gelatin dessert (something like this).  Something which I believe is referred to as Jello in the US?  You can imagine my thoughts at the time as I pictured a peanut butter and jello sandwich...  until I worked out that jelly in the US is what we call jam in Australia.  I have since tried PnJ many times and agree that it is rather tasty!

Another difference that came up was with pumpkin.  I would often tell the guys that I was cooking a roast dinner with roast potato and pumpkin.  Pumpkin as a main course??  Pumpkin is a dessert they would tell me.  A dessert??  No way, you guys are weird!  Afterwards, Chris told me all about pumpkin pie and said I had to try it.  In Australia, we traditionally boil, steam or roast pumpkin and eat it as a vegetable with our main course, so the concept of pumpkin as a dessert is a little strange and unfortunately I have yet to try one.  So if anyone has a good recipe they would like to share, let me know :)

So thank you internet, and thanks to all the blog writers out there for sharing just a little bit of their lives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti

This is our favourite Meatballs and Spaghetti recipe.  The meatballs are just so tasty and it's very easy to make.  The recipe is adapted from one I found at Taste.

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot chilli sauce
  • 1 tbspn lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbspn sweet chilli sauce
  • cooked pasta and extra basil, to serve

Combine beef mince, onion, chilli sauce, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, basil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Roll small handfuls of mince mixture into balls. Place meatballs on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm.

Combine tomatoes, sweet chilli sauce and stock in a deep frying pan. Try to use something that will fit all meatballs in a single layer and allow the sauce to cover them easily.  Bring slowly to the boil over medium heat. Drop meatballs into tomato mixture. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Serve meatballs on top of freshly cooked spaghetti.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Apple Dumplings

I saw these Apple Dumplings while flicking through Australia The Beautiful Cookbook.  They just looked so interesting that I had to try them.  They were really tasty too.  The apples just seem to melt inside their crust and hidden inside somewhere was the sweet pile of honey and walnuts.  The original recipe used golden syrup instead of honey and made a quantity of 4.  I reduced the ingredients to only make 2.

1 cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbspn sugar
60g butter
2 tablespoons iced water
2 Granny Smith apples
1 tbspn honey
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten
Extra sugar

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, stir in sugar.  Rub in butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle water over the top and mix with a knife to a firm dough, adding extra water if it's too dry.  Wrap in plastic film and chill for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into two pieces and shape each piece into a ball.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a large circle large enough to wrap around the apples.  Peel and core apples.  Mix honey and walnuts together and use to stuff apples.  Place an apple on each pastry square, dampen edges of pastry and wrap around apple.

Place dumplings seam side down on a greased baking tray.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes at 200°C.  Reduce heat to 180°C and bake for a further 30 minutes or until apples are soft when tested with a skewer.  Serve dumplings warm with custard or ice-cream.

We really liked these, they were really yummy and not that hard to make either. We'll be making them again for sure, perhaps with some different nuts next time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Eggs Benedict

Whenever we go out for breakfast to our favourite Coffee Club, Teena usually gets the Eggs Benedict.  She absolutely loves it!  So yesterday morning, I decide to make her some as a special treat.

To make the Hollandaise Sauce, I use a recipe from  I follow the recipe exactly and the sauce always seems to work perfectly.  I've had it go bad once when I was busy trying to cook other things at the same time.  It was easy to fix though with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the bad mix in a different bowl, then adding the bad mix back gradually.

I made some Turkish Bread to go with the breakfast as that's how it's served at the Coffee Club.  They usually have ham or salmon as well but we didn't have any.  It still tastes great with just eggs and Turkish Bread anyway.

It's a little bit time consuming to make Eggs Benedict, especially when you're hungry.  I think it's worth the effort though!  Here you can see Teena couldn't wait for me to finish taking pictures and had to taste it straight away.

Nothing goes to waste either as Teena scrapes every last drop into a jar to store in the fridge.  It makes a really tasty spread on bread or toast later on.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Turkish Bread

Our bread machine got another work out this morning.  Just before breakfast I popped downstairs, quickly threw all the ingredients in the machine and started it up.

Just over an hour later it beeped several times to let me know it had finished.  So later when I came downstairs, there was my dough ready to use.

Teena and I both like Turkish Bread, but it's not something we have very often.  Probably because it's expensive compared to other bread.  I had planned to make Teena Eggs Benedict this morning because it's her favourite breakfast dish, and thought some Turkish Bread would go really nicely with it.

180 ml water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbspn sugar
1 tspn salt
300g flour
2 tspn dried yeast

That's the ingredients for my machine anyway.  It may differ for others I suppose.  Anyway, once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide it into three equal quantities, then shape each one into an oval and place them onto some backing paper. Using your finger, poke holes in the top of each one.  Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 230°C.  Place baking trays in oven to heat them up.

Now...  this part I had a little bit of trouble with.  Supposedly, after the 15 minutes, you are supposed to carefully pick each one up and stretch it out to 30-35cm.  Mine was a bit too sticky though and I had trouble getting it off the baking paper.  The recipe said not to add extra flour as it should be nice and soft.  I had even sprinkled some flour under each one before I put it onto the baking paper.  Part of the problem may have been the cheap baking paper we have as I've had problems with it before.  Teena has promised to get some better quality paper for next time.

I managed to stretch it out in the end, though one of the portions was way too sticky and I had to reshape it once I got it off the paper.  It still came out ok though.  Once stretched, brush or spray with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Place the bread and baking paper onto the hot oven trays and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

I baked each one separately as I was also making Eggs Benedict at the time.  For the last one I sprinkled some dried basil leaves on it for some extra flavour.

They turned out really nice, very soft and tasty.  It was really nice with the Eggs Benedict, but I will post about that later!  We had some for lunch later on as well as it makes a really nice sandwich.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Anzac Biscuits

We love these Anzac Biscuits.  This recipe is a little different to the usual recipe, using honey instead of golden syrup as we don’t usually have any golden syrup and some added ginger which gives them a really nice flavour.  This batch I made with cashew nuts, but you can use any type of nut really.  They are especially tasty with Macadamia nuts.

  • 75g cashew nuts
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbspn boiling water
  • 1 tbspn honey
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125g butter
Preheat oven to 160°C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.  You can roast the nuts for about 5 minutes if you want, I didn’t bother with this batch though.  Chop the nuts roughly into smaller pieces.
Combine flour, ginger, oats, sugar, coconut and nuts in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the boiling water, honey and bicarb.  The mixture should froth a little, then add the melted butter.  Pour into the flour mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Anzac Cookies 2

Place a small handful of the mixture onto the prepared trays and flatten them slightly with a fork.  They will flatten more during cooking and spread out a little, so give them plenty of room.
Bake in oven for about 15 minutes.  If you take them out a little bit earlier they will be chewier and if you leave them in for a bit longer they will be crunchier.

Anzac Cookies

Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  There’s usually a few missing by the time they have cooled in our house though!  Enjoy.

Chicken with Peas and Pasta

I wanted to make something like a chicken pot pie with the chicken fillets we had, but I didn't have enough time to make the pastry.  So I figured I would just make the base and see how it turned out.  I was looking at some chicken recipes in my Kylie Kwong cookbook, but most of them were just chicken with a sauce.  We like our vegies though so this is what I came up with.

500g Chicken Fillet
2 tbspn Olive Oil
2 Onions
1 Capsicum
1 tbspn crushed garlic
5 button mushrooms
2 carrots
2 potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 tin cream of mushroom soup
100ml vegetable stock
Dried pasta

Heat oil in a large fry pan.  Chop all vegies into bite sized chunks.  Cook onion and capsicum until soft.  Add mushrooms and garlic, stir for another minute.  Add carrot, potato and peas.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Cut chicken into bite sized chunks, add to pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add soup and stock to pan, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook enough pasta to serve with the meal.  I used 250g for the two of us. 

I started cooking a bite late, so Teena was very hungry by the time I'd finished cooking.  This is her sampling the meal while I was taking pictures.  It turned out pretty good, the sauce could have been a bit thicker, but I think it would have made a nice pie.  Maybe next time when I have some chicken and some more time...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

This is sort of like a Chow Mein without the noodles.  We had a large cabbage half in the fridge that needed to be used and there's just about always some beef mince in the freezer and carrots in the fridge.  Carrots are always cheap, so it's not often we don't have any carrots on hand.  This is a bit of a budget meal actually, but it was very tasty!

2 tbspn olive oil
500g Beef Mince
1 large onion
1 green capsicum
2 carrots
2 tspn crushed garlic
1 tbspn oyster sauce
2 tbspn soy sauce
Half a large cabbage
5 button mushrooms, sliced or quartered

Heat oil in a large pan.  Fry onion and capsicum until soft, add garlic and stir for another minute.  Add carrot and cook stirring for 2 minutes.  Add beef mince, cook until mince has browned.

Stir in oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Add mushrooms and cabbage and sir through for a couple of minutes until the cabbage is wilted slightly.

Serve with some white rice or noodles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beef Goulash with Dumplings

Teena bought some blade steak with yesterdays shopping.  I wanted to make a stir fry or stew of some kind, and after a bit of searching I found a recipe for Beef Goulash at Simply Recipes.  It sounded nice but I didn't have the exact ingredients, so I had to modify it a little.  I also changed the quantities as the original recipe served 4-6, and there's only 2 of us.

  • 2 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbspn sugar
  • 2 tspn minced garlic
  • 1 tspn ground cumin
  • 3 tspn paprika
  • 1 tbspn fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 tbspn dried basil
  • 2 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2 tbspn balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 500g Blade Steak, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tspn ground black pepper

  • 1 cups plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, cook the onions and sugar over a low heat until caramelized (this could take up to 30 mins!).  Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring for one minute.  Add the paprika, marjoram and basil, stir through for another minute.

Add the tomato paste, vinegar and stock.  Stir well, then add pieces of steak and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 1 hour or longer if possible (I had a hungry woman to feed, so could not wait that long!).  Stir occasionally, and once the meat is tender, taste and season with salt and pepper if required.
For the dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a small bowl, then add milk and stir lightly.  Add to flour mixture and stir until combined, add a little extra milk if it's too dry.  After the stew has cooked, drop small handfuls of the dumpling mixture into the stew (just let them sit on top).  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Do not remove the cover until the 15 minutes are up or the steam will escape.  After 15 minutes, test the dumplings with a toothpick or skewer.  If it comes out clean the dumplings are done.
I've made dumplings for other dishes, but they usually have some herbs mixed through the dumpling mixture.  This sauce is nice and spicy though, so the plain dumplings were nice as they were.  Teena loves these dumplings, so I usually make them whenever I have a dish like this with lots of sauce.  The Goulash turned out well too, not a true Goulash perhaps with the missing ingredients, but it tasted great all the same.  We served it on a bed of white rice.  I think I'll be making this one again!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Pizzas

Home made pizza is just so much better then the stuff the big pizza places churn out.  We don't buy pizza from them anymore, if we ever feel like pizza we just make them ourselves.  No more bases soaked in oil or pizzas with next to no toppings on them.

I use our bread machine to make the dough, it takes most of the hard work out of making pizzas or anything that requires dough really.

180 ml water
1 tbspn oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
300g plain flour

You just pop all the ingredients into the machine and press start.  An hour or so later you have your dough ready to be kneaded lightly and rolled out.

Sprinkle some flour on your working area, give yourself plenty of room.  Knead the dough lightly, it doesn't need much though as the bread machine should have done some already. 
Divide the dough in half, there's enough to make two pizzas.  If you like thick bases you could probably use it all to make one pizza.
I made two pizzas.  The first one I rolled out to be slightly larger then my pizza tray, then folded the sides in to make a thick crust.
The second one i left a bit thicker and put onto my pizza stone.
 I'd already prepared all my toppings earlier, ready to assemble.  I'm not going to list them all as you can use whatever toppings you like or whatever you can find in your kitchen. I also lightly brushed both bases with some olive oil.
 I decided to make the first one with chicken and mushrooms, with a barbecue sauce for the base.
The second one I made with a tomato base.  Half was sausage and mushroom, the other half was Feta and Olive.  Teena likes olives, I'm not a big fan of them.

So now you have two pizzas ready to be cooked.  Preheat oven to about 180°C.  I only have one pizza stone so the second pizza is just on a pizza tray.  Both work fine, though the stone tends to give a crispier base.

 And here they are fresh from the oven.
The Chicken and Mushroom Pizza.  The rolled up sides puffed out to make a nice big crust.  You can easily fill the crust with cheese before you roll them up if you like a cheesy crust.
The Feta and Olive Pizza half on the left and the Sausage and Mushroom Pizza half on the right.  I'd never used Feta on a pizza before so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought the Feta would melt a little though.  Teena said she would have liked some grated cheese as well as the Feta on the Feta and Olive half.  I'll have to remember that for next time.  They were both delicious and we'll be having left overs for lunch or dinner today.
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