Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Baking: Day 3 - Salted Caramel Fudge

Ok - so it is now almost New Years but I did complete most of the things that I wanted to give out before Christmas - I just ran out of time to blog about them!  So I thought that I would post them all anyway - here is the third item - salted caramel fudge.

This fudge is good - smooth and almost too sweet - but the salt really does work in some magical way to make it edible rather than "I feel sick".

I have made this before from a recipe I pinned on Pinterest but I cannot remember which one I used so I wrote out the recipe this time and I am pretty sure it is the same one because it takes exactly the same.








1 Can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
2 Tablespoons glcouse syrup - I used corn syrup
1 stick + 1 tablespoon of butter = 140g
180 g white chocolate chooped - grate it or do it finely.
Sea Salt for sprinkling


1.  Line a square tin with non-stick baking spray and then baking paper.

2.  Put all the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and melt them together until the sugar and butter dissolve - mine took about 15 minutes - I stirred most of the time.

3. Turn up the heat so it simmers and stirring constantly (or near enough) bubble it for 6 -8 minutes. 

The original recipe said that it would be coming away from the sides of the pan but I did not experience this.

4.  Turn off the heat - and remove it if you like - and stir in the white chocolate completly - near enough was good enough for me.

5.  Pour it into your prepared tin - sprinkle it with salt and let it set in the fridge - don't poke it or you will get a fingerprint.

6.  Cut into desired sizes - being careful not to push the salt in - it kind-of dissolved.  I found a hot, dry knife made it move through the fudge super quick.

I parceled mine up in clear sandwich bags and then in a decorated paper bag.  I also wrote a little note reminding my family to keep it in the fridge - it's hot here - but if it is Winter where you are- yours might last out of the fridge a bit longer.  I got about 40 pieces.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Baking - Day 2: Fig, Walnut and Fennel Roulade

So the second thing I am making this year for gifts is a Fig, Walnut and Fennel Roulade.  I know this sounds like some weirdly flavoured swissiroll but it's actually something that you would serve with cheese - in the same way you might have quince paste.

The recipe is from Feast magazine this month and was contributed by Matthew Evans.  I followed his ingredients but changed the method considerably.  Here is where you can find the original recipe and method or you can buy the magazine (well worth it for the delicious Tropfest menu they have in there - pretzels!!!)



1.  I blitzed the figs in the food processor because I had my tiny assistant in the kitchen who can now reach the bench and I don't like using knives near him.
2.  I toasted the walnuts and then added them to the processor and blitzed again.


3.  I crushed the fennel and cloves together in a motar and pestle - such a good smell.

4.  In a bowl I put the brandy, fennel seeds, cloves, black pepper and honey then dumped out the figs and walnuts and mixed it all (use a spatula - so much less much).

5.  I portioned the mix into little logs (I will wrap them like bon-bons) and then rolled them in some rice flour.

6.  I then wrapped each individually in baking paper and put them in a contained to be weighted down with a tin of food I will never use!

Note: It says in the recipe to weight them down for three days and that they will keep air-tight for 3 weeks so they should be perfect for Boxing Day - Yum!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Baking: Day 1 - Muesli

This year - as I do every year - I am making home-made food items to give to my family and friends as Christmas gifts.  I love putting together bags of beautifully wrapped treats that I know they will enjoy.  Home-made food gifts is also a great way to keep the cost of Christmas down ans stay away from the crowds at the mall.

This year I plan to make:
 I have gotten the recipes from magazines, the internet and my own notebook.

The one I am starting with - because it is the easiest and will keep the longest, is the muesli.

I know I have posted the recipe before but if you would like to make this version you will need:

  • Oats
  • Puffed millet
  • Chia seeds
  • Dried apricots - chopped into pieces - I think scissors are the easiest
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Dried cranberries
  • Molasses
  • Almond Oil - or other nut/falvourless oil
  • Golden Syrup/Rice Syrup or Maple Syrup - some form of sweetener
  • Sunflower Seeds

Follow the method posted about here.

Step 1: Put everything into the baking dish

Step 2: Mix it all so everything is coasted with the sweeteners.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Menu Plan- when there it too much Christmas baking to do!

Please don't be alarmed - my child did not did the beer!

Argh!  So much to make for Christmas - so much in fact I cannot be bothered cooking proper meals - well almost.  I have tried to make this menu plan easy on me - minimal shopping and time spent in the hot kitchen away from the sparkling and Christmas food specials!.

Here we go:

16th - Monday - Poached Eggs with wilted spinach on sourdough
17th - Tuesday - Risotto with corn and prawns
18th - Wednesday - Grandmas
19th - Thursday - Vegetable Soup and Sausages
20th - Friday - leftovers (I am out with my lovey baby group Mums!)
21st - Saturday - Baked Eggs - Christmas Baking Day***
22nd - Sunday - Freezer meal (I am playing at the Church Christmas Carols)*

Can you believe this wasn't the cutest?

23rd - Monday - Pasta with fresh tomato sauce
24th - Tuesday - Laksa with prawns - Christmas Day baking**
25th - Wednesday - Christmas Day
26th - Thursday - Quesildillas with leftovers
27th - Friday - Corn fritters with smoked salmon and home made mayo
28th - Saturday - Vegetable soup and baked cheese
29th - Sunday - Home made pies (turkey/lentil)

Hates hats

*For the Carols service at Church everyone is taking a plate so I will be making two vegetable tarts - undecided yet but hopefully something without eggs as someone else always does a quiche.

**For Christmas Day I also have to bake two tarts - one will be Delia Smith's Thick Onion Tart - I make it every year and I am undecided on the other one yet (for a different household).

***I am making all of the gits for our family and friends this year and I am attempting to make a few different things this year.  I will hopefully remember to take photos of them and can share them with you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Menu Plan October Week 3 & 4

So you remember those shaming photographs of my pantry - well for the next two weeks (and probably the rest of the year) I am going to try to use up all the stuff in there.

Here is a reminder:

This menu the ingredients I am going to try to use are red lentils (which are actually in a glass jar in another part of the kitchen!), tortillas, rice paper, rice noodles, and some beans.

Here we go:

Monday: Pasta bake with olives and pesto

Tuesday: Chops/Quorn with corn and asparagus

Wednesday: Grandma's for dinner

Thursday: Beef/Bean Burritos

Friday: Leftovers/Frozen dinner

Saturday: Fresh Spring Rolls - based on Janella Purcell's recipe (from her book Eating for the Seasons p16)
Sunday: Red Lentil Dahl (again from Janella p172)

Monday: Mexican bean burgers in lettuce cups

Tuesday: Quiche

Wednesday: Grandma's for Dinner

Thursday: Vegetable Stir Fry (page 29 - Janella)

Friday: Prawns in Chilli Oil and Turkish Bread and Salad

Saturday: Leftovers/Baked Eggs

Sunday: Healthy Fried Rice and leftover something

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Menu Plan October Week 1

I have just looked at my last posting date and realise that it is July - oh my. 

While shamelessly ignoring my blog - I still have been menu planning and so thought I would slowly get back into it with a menu plan post.

Here it is:

Mexican Monday:Nachos - I know it's no real Mexican food - but it's a great way to use up leftovers in the fridge!
Tuesday: Lamb chops/Harissa tofu with corn and asparagus
Wednesday: Family dinner at Grandma's
Thursday: Red curry beef/vegetable with lychees
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Omelettes with haloumi - based on Annabel Langbein's Fresh Herb Omelette recipe
Sunday: Leftovers

Mexican Monday: Tacos - bean/beef
Tuesday: Prawn and Mango Salad - based on Annabel Langbein's Prawn and Duck Salad recipe  
Wednesday: Family dinner at Grandma's
Thursday: Vegetable Quicje
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Salad with hot smoked salmon and a Caesar dressing
Sunday: Vegetable Soup

I used Annabel Langbein's Free Range in the City to plan this menu.

The next menu plan I am hoping to only have to do a shop for fresh items as my pantry is being to look a bit hoard-y - here's a few pictures to help me do it:

Yes, that is 5 packets of tortillas!

You cannot even see the top shelf!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Menu Planning

Now that I am back at work full-time, I am finding that menu planning is saving me so much in the evenings, especially when I cannot be bothered to think anymore.

I am still only shopping once a fortnight and even though we are now buying nappies and formula and other baby paraphinalia our shopping bill hasn't risen too dramatically.

I thought that I would share how I do my planning for one meat, one meat-free and one baby meal every evening.  I know that in the past you may have seen my menu plans in the past with breakfast, lunch and dinner.   Now I only list what we are going to have for dinner.

I try to think of a dinner option that means only one extra "thing" to cook for my husband or myself.  I also try to save some of the meat he is having for a baby food concotion.  For example, if I am roasting chicken, then I will strip some of the meat off for a baby meal.

For all of the baby meals I cook in bulk.  There are a few options that he loves (anything with pumpkin is a winner) and to these I have started adding cooked beans, mince, roast chicken, yoghurt, cous cous, semolina or polenta to create a new meal.  I have also found if he doesn't like one of the new vegetable puree's I'm making - adding it to mashed pumpkin or potato is a great way to make sure he eats it.  We are up to beginning finger foods and so far skinny toast soldiers, cucumber and sticks of pear are the favourites.

Here is the dinner menu for this week to show how I set out all of the meals

Tuesday - Bruschetta - husband cooking (that didn't happen)
Wednesday - leftovers/dinner at my Grandma's
Thursday - Carrot and Almond Soup and sausages - steam carrots for a baby meal
Friday - Beetroot risotto
Saturday - Laksa with prawns
Sunday - Baked Eggs - roast some veggies for a baby meal while the oven is on
Monday - Burrito's (meat and bean/TVP) -

Tuesday - Nicoise salad
Wednesday - leftovers/dinner at my Grandma's
Thursday - Brussel sprout and caramalised onion soup - do some brussel sprouts for a baby meal
Friday - Baked potatoes with hot smoked salmon blue cheese and caramalised onion - roast veggies for a baby meal
Saturday - Chicken drumsticks/Quorn in terakyi sauce with sushi rice and edamame - save some chicken for a baby meal
Sunday - Home made pizza
Monday - Mexican burgers.

Captain Jack's Breakfast
Oatmeal with stewed apricots, yoghurt, pear and buttered toast

Captain Jack's Lunch/Dinners
Pumpkin and Cannelini bean mash
Chicken, Potato and Squash
 Penne with ricotta - blended
Apple and semolina - sweets

The last few weeks when I had extra things on in the evening we were ordering take-away so I didn't have to cook, but after bargining for 30 minutes and then having to wait another hour for it to be delievered and spening over $50 for the privlidge I have bought a few extra hings this week for the nights I don't feel like cooking.  Here they are:
  • Freezer Meals
  • Vacuum packed hot-smoked salmon
  • Pre-made curry simmer sauce thing
  • Frozen cut veggies in portioned bags
  • Frozen vegetable spring rolls (so easy to stick under the griller while you do something else)
  • Puff Pastry - so I can make pot pies with frozen chilli/stew in the freezer

Any ideas for easy and quick weeknight dinners?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Top 10 Recipes and the Barefoot Contessa

From here

Do you know who the Barefoot Contessa is?  If you have Foxtel or cable you may have come acroos her, otherwise in Australia you are unlikely to have any clue.  She is Ina Garten, who began her food career with a gourmet food shop and catering business and now has many cookbooks and a TV  cooking show.

From here

Ina Garten lives in the Hamptons with her husband Jefferey in the most beautiful house.  I recommend just watching the show for a glimpse of her garden (here is a website that has many beautiful pictures of her place).  You can find her blog here and her main website here. I find most of Ina's recipes too rich (my husband has dubbed her 10-tonne Tessa - in a loving way you understand) and seasoned too much for my taste but she does have some great shortcuts and ideas for parties.  Her webside has both recipes and menus.

From here

On one episode I remember Ina saying if you have 10 great recipes that you do well, and then three variations of each recipe you will have a repertoire that can deal with most scenarios.  I have been thinking for awhile what my 10 dishes would be - it has been hard to think of what my 10 core recipes are.  I thought that I would do a series of posts showing my 10 recipes and their variations.  I also think that one could add another series on what you can make from the leftovers from any of these meals to get an even greater variety of dishes.

So far here are my 10:

  1. Risotto
  2. Roast Vegetables with cheese
  3. Pizza
  4. Vegetable Soup
  5. Curry
  6. Pasta Salad
  7. Fish Cakes
  8. Vegetable Tart/Quiche
  9. Chilli
  10. Roast Chicken

As you will notice most of these are vegetarian.  Having one vegetarian and one omnivore in the house, I have had to come up with dishes that both of us will eat with only one thing added or taken away for the other.   With a baby who is also having solids I also have been trying to think of foods that can be given to him without salt that will not mean having to cook another meal!

What are your top 10 dishes?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blog Love: What I'm Reading

Not that I have a lot of time for reading - so mostly I am currently looking at blogs with a lot of pictures and also blogs that are written by mothers.

Here is my current reading list:

I thought that I had a stationery problem - it's not looking so bad now.  This site is the stuff of dreams - I have never seen anyone so organised or colour co-ordinated in my life.  If you are looking to do some culling and organising or thinking about how to set about your finances, pantry, emergency supplies or anything else for that matter, this is the site for you.

My Mum put me onto this site - it is written in English by a Japanese speaker as a way to practise her English.  All the recipes here have step-by-step photographs, few ingredients and taste amazing.  There is not posting schedule but there is plenty in the archives to keep you in the kitchen.  Many of the recipes are also vegan, and if you have trouble finding ingredients, Izumi often lists alternates that you can use.

This blog is written by an Australian Mum, Kristen who is interested in "kids, food, travel, life" but the bit that interests me most of course is the food.  The blog features advice on everyday life as well as featuring recipes and links to other great resources (hello the world of probiotics).  The photography is also amazing and the styling to-die-for.

I know this title sounds a bit weird but I, like everyone else, seem to be hooked on probiotics and making them myself (not that I have actually done anything about it yet).  This is a resource blog - not too many pictures.  If you want to know how to make something like kimchi or some type of fermented vegetable this is your mecca.  Written by American Sandor Ellix Katz who looks on fermented foods as an important part of healing the body.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Things I recommend to Mum-to-be's

I now feel like I have a bit of experience in the Mum department and can make some helpful recommendations to others who might be expecting a child soon.

  • Don't buy too many clothes - everyone will give you clothes, as baby-shower gifts, as hand-me-downs, just-because-they-couldn't-resist-how-cute-it-was gifts.  I think that we have possibly bought maybe 5 things - and that was because there was a cold snap and all of the Captain's warm things were too big.

This beautiful onesie was a gift at my baby shower.  You can find similar ones on Etsy here

  • Go to a New Mothers Group - I am not a hugely social person and I thought that I would not want to meet a whole lot of women who had nothing in common with me.  How wrong I was - it was so helpful and encouraging to meet Mum's who are going through exactly the same thing you are and they have their baby as the centre of their world.  They will also drone on about how advanced they think their child is and neither of you will mind.  The ladies I have meet also happen to be lovely and completely normal.

  •  Make a goal for every day - The days just seem to blur together and before you know it your baby is a month old and then 3 months and then you're starting solids.  Pick something to try and achieve with your cutie everyday or week.  It might be "have a shower" or "try to sing three songs" or "achieve 5 minutes of tummy time without the baby screaming their head off".  Some of mine were to talk to my baby more, enjoy cuddling and rocking my baby to sleep for the 100th time today, because it will end too soon and to decide what's for dinner in the morning.

  • Don't feel guilty about anything - With motherhood comes a whole lot of recommendations, advice and rules. I felt immense guilt about some things when I did them for the first time.  Like, when I had to give the baby a bottle of formula because I had mastitis and feeding him was excruciatingly painful.  Or, when I rock to him to sleep sometimes because he just cannot keep his limbs still enough to calm down and drop off.  And when I put the TV on for him to look at because I need to go and make a cup of tea.

  • Ignore comments from others if they upset you - I am having to return to work soon, and even though my baby will be with my Mum or Husband all the time I am at work, I have had some other mothers give me a look that says "you will regret doing that" or "do you really want to go?".  I have also had people while we are out comment that we use a dummy or pacifier and how their baby didn't.  I have dwelt a lot on these comments and they did upset me at the time but now I know that they shouldn't have said them in the first place and if other mothers act differently to what I would do - I will not comment.  We are all trying our best.
  • Don't be concerned with your weight too much - I was so embarrassed when I realised I put on almost 20 kilos when I was pregnant and other only put on about 10.  But, 20 weeks on I have almost lot it all without doing any extra exercise (and normally the exercise level is zilch).  Early on, I got run-down from not eating regularly and well and then I got mastitis - twice - since then I have learnt to eat well and take-it-easy.  I am breastfeeding which makes the weight come off more easily but I'm giving myself 9 months to get back to my previous weight - after all - it took 9 months to put it all on!

Here are some products that I have found useful:

MilkBar Nursing Pillow

I have the worlds squirmiest baby and he will not be still in my arms for me to feed him.  This pillow allows me to support him and have my hands free to help him while he is feeding.  This was given to me by a friend who said that she didn't use it at all but we use it every feed (still at 20 weeks).  I think as the baby got bigger the pillow became more useful.

Bouncer Chair

Some babies do not like lying down at all and you cannot hold them all the time.  I have found a bouncer chair invaluable when I need to get things done.  I can put the Captain in it and carry it from room to room while I do housework and cook dinner.  He is entertained watching me and looking at all the different rooms as we go around.  As we have started solids, and he is too little for his high-chair, I also put him in it for meals.  The one we have is made of easily cleaned material and was the cheapest one in the shop.

Dummy Clip

If you decide to use a dummy or pacifier and you don't want to be taking 100 out with you, then get a dummy clip.  It has saved the dummy going on the floor so many times and there are some really great looking ones out there.  The Captain's is just ribbon with a press studded loop at one end and a winged clip at the other and cost $2.80 from Daiso (an amazing Japanese $2 shop).  This isn't the one we have but the construction is the same.  Find it here.

Nappy Clutch

For a few weeks I struggled with how much stuff we needed to take out with us, but now I have it done to an art.  I have an old clutch bag that I have filled with one change or clothes, one nappy in a nappy disposal bag, a small pack of wipes, a pair of socks, hand sanitiser, a small pack of tissues and a spare dummy and a small wrap to lay down to change him on.  The stroller that we have doesn't have a space for a big nappy bag and I was too wide to fit in some shop aisles with my handbag on one shoulder and the nappy bag on the other.  I do still have the big bag with 4 nappies and jumpers etc in the car, so I can go back and re-stock if I need to.  
Disclaimer - when you have a newborn and every poo is a poo-nami or poo-plosion, keep a whole box of nappies and wipes in the car in case.  We went through 5 nappies in as many minutes once.

Activity Centre Thing

The Captain got this from his Poppy for Christmas and it has been great.  It has encouraged the baby to reach for things and we have been able to interchange his toys with the ones that it came with.  It's easy to clean, store and means that the Captain is not rolling in cat hair that is on the carpet.  I cringe to think of how much he will ingest!   Eeew!

PS - here is some typing from the baby as he is   dying to touch the keyboard...

 scqaz  mnnjkklk   r dam cn  nf/s214521ml.m      mmmmm
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