Monday, July 25, 2011

Chocolate, Almond and Currant Cookies

I made Chocolate, Walnut and Currant Cookies from the Pod and Three Peas blog the other day with the kids. I thought these would be a good snack cookie for the kids - fruit, nuts and oats to make them "healthy" and chocolate to make them appealing. But the results were even better - they were flat and chewy with a slightly caramel flavour - reminding me a bit of a chewy florentine. I think I ate more than the kids! I used flaked almonds and chocolate chips with the currants.

What to do with ... lemons

Our lemon tree has just ripened so we have a big box of lemons to work our way through. Not that I am complaining - I love lemons! If I choose dessert I would probably go lemon flavoured (Lemon Delicious pudding is my favourite - see below), where as my husband would always go for chocolate.
The lemons last quite a few months but the last few years I have taken lots of them, zested them then juiced them. I freeze the zest in an airtight container, you can just scrape out as much as you need, and freeze the juice in ice cube trays, then store in a container or ziplock bag once frozen. That way I have lemons on hand all year!

I haven't tried all the recipes linked below. My favourites are marked with a *. I must blog some of these recipes!

Lemon chicken - Bill Granger
Lemon linguine - Nigella
Greek egg and lemon chicken soup (Avgolemono) -
Broccoli with Lemon Sauce - Women's Weekly

*Lemon Delicious (self-saucing pudding) - my favourite dessert
*Lemon Tart - River Cafe (I make half the recipe in a 20cm flan tin)
*Lemon No-bake Cheesecake - Philadelphia packet recipe
Lemon Meringue Pie
Crepes with lemon and sugar
Lemon and Blueberry Trifle -
Lemon Semifreddo -
Lemon sorbet

cakes, biscuits, slices...
*Sour cream and lemon cake @Pod and Three Peas
*Melting moments - Women's Weekly
*Lemon poppyseed cake - here is the lime version
Lemon slice
Sponge cake with lemon curd filling
Lemon icing (lemon juice, icing sugar and a little butter) on banana cake

Lemon curd/butter -
Preserved lemon - Stephanie Alexander

check out this lemon recipe collection @ The Happy Housewife

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Playschool Salad

After Monday's episode of Playschool on which they made a salad, Molly (my 5 year old) announced she wanted to make salad. She has never eaten salad! She then asked everyday if we were having her salad. So on Wednesday we had Playschool Salad and Chicken Schnitzel. And Molly ate a whole bowl of salad! With dressing! And she helped make it.
Thankyou Playschool! If only they could also give a lesson in how to eat your dinner in under an hour...

Playschool Salad
Prepare amounts to suit your family. Remember to cut ingredients small/thin enough that your little ones can eat them with a fork.

Get the kids involved - my 5 year old was able to wash and chop the lettuce, peel the carrot, string the snow peas and pull off the grapes.

lettuce, shredded
carrot, grated or finely chopped
celery stick, finely chopped
snowpeas, ends and strings removed, chopped in half
red grapes, halved
apple, chopped into small pieces

Dressing - combine in a jar and shake
olive oil
lemon juice

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to do with ... sour cream

I thought I would start a new series of blogs about what do with ingredients that I end up left with or produce that I have a bounty of. I am starting with sour cream as I often end up with half a carton in the fridge after a mexican meal.
Sour cream is the ingredient guaranteed to get my children to eat anything, any vegetable soup is gobbled up with big dollops of sour cream, but rather than just handing the tub to them with a spoon I might try some of these recipes instead!

Sour Cream

serve with...
mexican - chilli con carne, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, chicken and corn soup, taco soup
jacket potatoes
soup - pumpkin, mushroom, zucchini

substitute into...
pasta bake
mashed pototoes
scrambled eggs

whip up...
Salsa Dip - mix sour cream with salsa

Stroganoff - beef, chicken or mushroom
Creamy paprika chicken [150g] @Not Quite Nigella
Baked taco chicken - mix sour cream with taco flavouring and pour over chicken fillets, bake.
*Annie's potato salad - combine 1/3 C sour cream, 2/3 C mayonnaise, 2 tsp lemon juice, parsley. Mix through 750g chat potatoes boiled, 4 eggs hard boiled chopped and 4 bacon rashes chopped and fried. Serve warm or cold.
Quiche made with sour cream instead of cream

Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry [60g] by Maggie Beer
Lime and Sour Cream cookies [90g] @FoodRSO
Sour cream carrot cake [140g] @Nigella
*Old fashioned chocolate cake [150g] by Nigella
*Sour cream and lemon cake [185g=3/4C] @Pod and Three Peas
*Strawberry Streusel Cake [250g] by Nigella
Sour cream pound cake [250g] @NotQuiteNigella
Nigella's sour cream and white chocolate icing [125g] @NotQuiteNigella

Cheesecake with sour cream topping by Nigella
Blueberry Muffins [250g] by Donna Hay
Sour cream and choc chip cake[250g] @Nigella

* = favourite recipes

Next week what to do with ... lemons

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Butternut Macaroni Cheese with Rosemary, Bacon and Parmesan

This yummy recipe comes from a Delicious magazine back in 2005. I have been making it since then and the kids now like it too! I have found normal macaroni and cheese too rich so this has the advantage of being moist from the pumpkin and still cheesy, but the best bit is the crunchy bread crumb and bacon topping!

Butternut Macaroni Cheese with Rosemary, Bacon and Parmesan

serves 4-6
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 dried chilli, crushed or 1 large pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
½ cinnamon stick
1 large butternut pumpkin, peeled, flesh chopped into 2 cm cubes
400g macaroni
300ml milk
1 cup thickened cream
150g parmesan, grated
8 slices pancetta or streaky bacon
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked (dried works well here too)
3-4 slices day-old bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks (150g)

Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and gently fry garlic till golden. Add chilli, cinnamon, pumpkin and small glass of water. Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes till pumpkin is soft. Uncover and boil the liquid around the pumpkin until reduced to almost nothing. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon. Mash the pumpkin and season.

Cook macaroni until al dente, then drain well. Quickly toss in a bowl with the pumpkin, milk and cream. Add three quarters of the parmesan and season, then place in large baking dish (2L).

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Cook pancetta or bacon in a large frypan over mediom heat till light brown. Add rosemary and bread, fry gently for 1-2 mins, then pulse in a food processor till chopped. Sprinkle remaining parmesan over pasta, then with bacon and rosemary. Bake for 30mins till crisp and bubbly on top.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Whats-in-the-fridge Spanish Eggs

I didn't have much inspiration or energy for dinner tonight. I hadn't defrosted anything and there was only eggs and bacon in the fridge. We had carbonara last night so I felt scrambled eggs was a bit similar...

I scraped together left overs for the kids then I thought of something - those baked pots of spicy tomato sauce eggs. I found out these are called Spanish Eggs amongst other things and usually contain chorizo and are served for breakfast.

Here is my version, with bacon and mushrooms, flavoured with chilli, paprika and cumin. My Gran and I enjoyed it with freshly baked bread.

Whats-in-the-fridge Spanish Eggs
serves 2
This would be great with the addition of fresh parsley or oregano, but it was a bit cold to go outside...

olive oil
1 C mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 rasher bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
sprinkle smoked paprika
sprinkle dried chilli
sprinkle ground cumin
1/4 C frozen spinach
1 tbsp grilled capsicum pieces (optional, I had a jar)
400g tin tomatoes
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a frypan, fry the mushrooms in a little oil until browned, set aside.

Add a dash more oil and fry the onion and bacon. When the onion is softened add the garlic and spices and cook stirring for another minute. Add the spinach, capsicum and tomatoes and simmer to thicken. Season to taste.

Put sauce into individual ramekins, wider rather than deeper are better. Crack an egg into the centre of each. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the white is set and yolk still runny.

Serve with bread to mop up the yummy sauce.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fairy 5th Birthday Party

My eldest daughter Molly just turned 5! We had a party for her on the weekend, she chose a fairy theme as she is very into Tinkerbell at the moment. I tried to resist having an entirely Tinkerbell party but there was a lot of her :) The 9 little girls in attendance, in their gorgeous fairy outfits, all seemed to have a good time.

I made a fairy cake with little Tinkerbell figurines on it. Molly started out wanting a carousel/merry-go-round cake with horses but we changed it to a fairy merry-go-round to fit in the theme better. It turned out really well, but I may have stayed up very late finishing it off the night before!

The base cake was a 24cm Nigella Lawson vanilla buttermilk birthday cake (1 1/2 batches) covered in pale green buttercream. The top was a Nigella Lawson sour cream chocolate cake (1/2 batch) baked in a bowl, covered in ready-to-roll fondant dyed pale pink. I piped bright pink buttercream flowers all over the cakes, which I quite enjoyed! These are the kids favourite bit of course! It was assembled with 6 ribbon covered cake dowels and a ribbon covered cardboard tube which were just poked into the cake with the top cake (on a cardboard cake board) resting on top. Some of the figurines were dangling from the top cake by fishing line so the fairies were flying.

For the rest of the food I made:
  • butterfly and flower shaped cheese pastries (puff pastry with grated cheese) - these were Molly's favourite and were the easiest to make
  • sausage rolls  - I like this recipe, I used beef sausage mince from the butcher and skipped the herbs - make plenty as the parents always like them too!
  • fairy bread
  • pink fruit skewers with strawberries, red grapes and watermelon
  • pink meringues
  • coconut ice

We decorated the room with silk flowers and balloons. The lolly bags had wizz fizz, strawberries and cream, musk sticks, and candy-bracelets. For prizes I found Tinkerbell glitter glues in a wand shape and mini fairy notebooks.

I find it best to keep the kids busy for the whole party, so we played lots of games:
  • musical flowers (like musical chairs but with cardboard flower shapes)
  • fairy treasure hunt in the garden - they looked for chocolate coins, the Tinkerbell glitter glues, and shiny cut out stars and flowers
  • Pin the wand on the fairy - we used the star cutouts they had found on the hunt
  • Pass the parcel - with a candy bracelet in every layer, as Molly said "it was fair because we all got an eating bracelet"
  • and we finished by turning on the Tinkerbell Movie.
I couldn't resist having a cooking activity at the party, I love cooking with kids and seem to find a whole extra patience reserve. We made marshmallow fairy wands that I saw on Juicy Bits.

Marshmallow Fairy Wands
wooden sticks or skewers
white chocolate melts
pink and purple food dye (the liquid pink dye worked much better than the purple paste)
lots of sprinkles
piece of polystyrene foam

Melt the white chocolate and add food colouring to get desired colours. Place in small bowls to allow for easy marshmallow dipping. Put the sprinkles in little bowls.

Place a marshmallow on the blunt end of the stick. Dip into chocolate and into sprinkles.

Stick skewer into piece of polystyrene to allow to dry.

Our fairies made 3 each and when they were dry I put a cellophane bag over them and tied with curling ribbon to send home.