Two posts in one day! Look Out!

We all know how much I love to bake, and so far this year I haven’t made too many, especially the creative shaped cakes. So when it came up to my birthday I decided to make my cake, this year’s theme was Tea! Now I don’t know if I need to remind you how obsessed I am with tea at the moment.  A teapot cake is very me and I wanted a bit of a challenge! So I started out with 2 plain vanilla butter cakes, dyed pink and a little extra vanilla added, for the filling and crumb coating I used a vanilla and frangelico butter cream and then for the final layer I used a strawberry frosting. I baked it in the same tin I used to make a boob cake for my partner last year to get it rounded. Once baked I tried both cakes to have the thickest part flat to I could stick them together, as well as one cake was cut down to be a bit shorter to allow to for curved teapot shape with a flat bottom rather than a ball.

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I rolled out my fondant and cut a few pieces off to make the handle and the spout. Once I shaped the spout (which was pretty difficult) and the handle I placed them into the freezer to harden. Lifting the fondant carefully, I then covered my cake and smoothed it out as best as I could and cut off the excess. Using toothpicks I attached the handle and the spout and piped on the decorative finishes. I did attempt to make a tea pot lid but it looked awful so I ate it. Instead I piped a circle of strawberry frosting and flooded the circle with some white royal icing and added a blue ball of fondant.

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By this stage I had so much cake left over and heaps of fondant, I decided to try my hand at make a cup and saucer. All I had left of the cake were off cuts, I crumbed the mixture and added a fair amount of frosting and mixed them together, this made a sort of cake-like goo. Using a teacup I moulded the cake-goo to the cup and placed it in the freezer. I took the matching saucer and pressed some fondant around it to get the general shape and placed it in the freezer to harden.

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One they had hardened, I popped the cake out of the cup and it has set into a really moist looking cake and held it’s shape. That was then covered with fondant leave the top open to pipe in some frosting on top. The saucer didn’t come out the best but it did the job!

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I have never attempted a teapot cake before this by far is my favourite one that I’ve made!

It’s like heaven in biscuit form!

I know, I know, I’m a bit slack! Unfortunately the flu doesn’t make you want to do anything! But I have a treat for you tonight! I thought to make it up to you I’d post my favourite cookie recipe, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. It’s like heaven in biscuit form and you can’t just stop at one!

I stumbled on this recipe when I didn’t have much food left in the house and Cameron wanted something for dessert. It’s so quick and so easy, once I baked them I spread some jam on one and then added some ice cream and then sandwiched it with another cookie. It made the best ice cream sandwich.

Here’s what you’ll need; 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of brown sugar (I never said it was healthy!), ½ cup of roughly chopped chocolate (you can use chocolate chips but I prefer chopped chocolate because of the different sizes), 1 egg and ¼ cup of self-rising flour.

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It’s really very simple, pre heat the oven to 180 degrees, combine all ingredients into a bowl and combine. I used an electric beater for about a minute.

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mmm chocolate chips

Once combined, roll into balls about an inch big and place on to a baking tray and using the back of a fork press down slightly. They shouldn’t spread too much, if they do oh well, they still taste good!

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The little one in the corner is the one you give to someone else 😀

Put them into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly golden. Keep in mind they will still be very soft and squishy when you take them out but will firm up as they cool.

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They may not be beautiful but they sure taste good

Give them about 5 minutes to cool before removing them from the tray. Keep them in an air tight container in the fridge and they’re good for about a week (not that they’ll last that long!). Mine get eaten within a few days. These are great cookies because they still remain slightly soft in the centre which I love!

Have you great cookie recipe that quick and easy?

Easy, budget friendly rice meals!

Tonight I’d thought I’d show you two simple rice dishes. The first one is mushroom garlic rice. This was the first time I’ve made it and it turned out pretty well. It made a great side dish and if you wanted it for a main, I’d probably add some bacon or tofu for a vegetarian option. The second one I just stumbled on the other day when I forgot to make lunch for work and just threw some stuff together!

What’ll you need for the mushroom garlic rice; 8 roughly chopped mushrooms, 2 diced garlic gloves, 1 thinly sliced spring onion, 2 to 2 ½ cups of chicken stock, 1 cup of rice and fresh parsley, salt and pepper. I used a packet of pre cooked microwave rice with a quarter cup of uncooked rice. I didn’t have enough uncooked rice, but it turned out perfect.

Roughly chop the mushrooms and dice the garlic

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Melt some butter in a pot over medium heat; add the mushrooms, garlic and spring onion to the pot and cook until soft and the liquid has evaporated.

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Stir in 2 cups of chicken stock and rice. As it cooks you may want add more stock if it gets too dry.

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Add the chopped fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s done because it will be thick and the rice will be soft.

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The second one is a very quick one! You’ll need: Spring onion, garlic, capsicum, 1 cup of frozen peas and corn, 1 packet of precooked microwave rice, oyster sauce, kecap manis and soy sauce.

Thinly slice spring onion, finely dice garlic and capsicum and add to large bowl.

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Add frozen peas and corn and rice and stir to combine

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Next drizzle over oyster sauce, kecap manis and a small splash of soy sauce and mix to combine.

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I keep it in the bowl and cover with glad wrap and place in the fridge. The next day (or whenever, because I take it to work for lunch) put in Tupperware container and when it comes to eat, just microwave for 1.5 minutes and it’s ready to go! See easy!

I cooked these because this week was on a super tight budget, you can get about 3 servings out of each dish and spend less than $25 all up. Do you have any quick and easy rice dishes, please share them with me!

Fresh Bread with Butter!

I decided to attempt making some beer bread. I have never made bread before but this recipe was very simple and I have wanted to try to make this for a while now. It tasted pretty good too, not to mention the house smelled wonderful. Is there any left? Nope, all gone! Here goes!

What you’ll need; 3 cups of sifted self-raising flour, ¼ cup sugar, 350 ml of beer (approx. 1.5 cups) ½ cup of melted butter, you don’t need to use the full amount of the butter..

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First pre heat the oven to 190 degrees and sift the flour into a large bowl.

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Add sugar.

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Add beer and stir to combine into dough. You may need to sprinkle some more flour if the dough is too sticky.

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Pour mixture into a loaf tin, pour over melted butter and bake for 1 hour, I also sprinkled sesame seeds on top of mine. After 1 hour remove the bread from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes. I sliced mine and served with butter and a slice of cheese. I don’t have a loaf tin so I used a casserole dish; I think I might need to invest in one if I want to keep making bread.

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Next time I make it, I might add some garlic and finely diced onion, along with some more salt and pepper and serve at a BBQ with some nice cheese and wine. It was certainly a very tasty home made bread

Meow!

I’m sitting here with a drink reflecting on an awesome weekend with some great friends, food and drink. Most memorable bit was when Cameron went to light the BBQ and it was out gas (despite me asking a few hours earlier if the gas bottle was full), we could have cooked everything on the stove, but his solution was to take the massive gas cylinder that supplies our stove and hook it up to the BBQ. Problem solved! 😀

I thought I take you through the cake that I made which was a much better improvement than the Oreo cake last year for my friend’s birthday. This year’s theme was Crazy Cat Lady; the room was full of cat decorations. I made a basic vanilla butter cake with a caramel chocolate frosting and then covered in fondant. The actual cake was rainbow and shaped into a couch with a lady sitting on it with lots and lots of cats!

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I didn’t take lots of photos of the process because I forgot and I was stressed because I left it to the day of the BBQ to make something I had never done before. For the recipe it’s self just Google a basic butter cake, there are heaps out there and very easy to do. To make it a rainbow cake, I divided the batter between four bowls (One bowl for each colour), I used yellow, red, blue and green food dye. Add the colour two to three drops at a time and mix, keep adding until you reach the desired intensity. Then after all bowls have been coloured, add then to the cake tin and bake as normal. I just poured mine in and where ever it went was where it would stay, however you can use a knife to create a swirl pattern if you like.

Once the cake had cooled completely, I made a caramel, chocolate chip butter cream. To do this I used half a tin of condensed caramel top n fill, 60grams of softened butter and 2 and half cups of sifted icing sugar. I added the caramel and butter to the bowl and used a beater to combine the ingredients, then I added the icing sugar half a cup at a time and placed it in the fridge.

While the frosting was in the fridge I cut up the cake and assembled something that looked vaguely like a couch! I took the frosting out, beat it once more and added in 2 tablespoons of shaved chocolate. I used the frosting as a glue to stick the pieces together and then cover the entire cake with it.

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I place it back in the fridge while I rolled out the fondant. I used store bought fondant because I’m not that clever and can’t make it myself yet. Once I rolled my fondant into a large sheet, I took my cake out and carefully laid the fondant over the top and pressed in the corners and edges and smoothed it out.

Using a skewer, I carved some lines in to make it a bit more realistic and used edible pearls to add some more detail. The cushions are just a thin slice of cake covered in fondant.

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Then we move onto the final bit, the cat lady and the cats. I made these a few days earlier from bakers clay, which is basically, flour, water, salt and oil. Almost like playdoh. I shaped them into the figurines, baked them and painted them with a base coat of food colouring extended with vodka. I used food colouring and vodka because these parts would touch the cake. I added detail with some non-toxic acrylic paint, those parts didn’t not touch the cake.

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It might sound easy enough, but if I could do it all over again I’d use more frosting and fondant and pretty much just slow down and take my time. But considering it was a bit rushed, I think it turned out pretty well. Have you ever tried to make a “fancy cake”? I’d love to know!

You snooze you lose!

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Image from 1zoom.net

I turned 27 on Monday and am having a BBQ with friends this coming weekend and it got me thinking of course of the food that I was going to serve. BBQ’s are always easy when it comes to feeding a lot of people, all you really need to do is make a few salads to go with the meat and have some nibbles like chips, crackers, cheese and dips.

I love making dips, they’re so easy do to and most of the time, work out much cheaper and healthy than buying the ones from the supermarket no matter how tasty they are. Have you ever had one of those spur of the moment get togethers, where people come round in the afternoon for a few drinks? Most of the time you don’t have time to get to the supermarket to grab some food and tidy the house.  You’ve got two choices here, you can go to the supermarket, get some food, whip it out of the packets so it’s ready to serve and then do the embarrassed apology “Excuse the house, ran out of time.” With an awkward giggle and you know they are secretly thinking “Wow it is a mess” and then go on to enjoy yourself.

Or you can quickly tidy the house (by tidy I mean grab everything and shove it in an unused room or cupboard). Then using the food that you already have, quickly whip up some super delicious dips! I always keep tins of chickpeas, broad beans or four bean mixes in the cupboard. Using a handheld blender, I blend these into a paste with a little bit oil, and then throw in a glove of garlic, a tomato, capsicum, ground turmeric and salt and pepper. You can even add a bit of plain Greek yogurt to make it extra creamy. If you don’t have any beans don’t stress! Blend a tomato, onion, garlic, baby spinach, parsley and capsicum, if you do want it creamy try putting in an avocado.

The best thing about these dips is you can pretty much use any vegetables that you have. As long as you season them then you can’t really go wrong. So you’ve made your dip, what are you going to have them with?  Chop up some carrots and celery to dip with, or if you have bread, squash a couple of slices flat and cut into quarters, drizzle some oil and add a bit of salt and pepper and place under the grill until golden and crunchy! Super easy and super quick!

My favourite homemade dip, which my mother makes the best, is cream cheese and hot smoked salmon. All you do is blend these two together to make the dip; if you want to get fancy you can even add some dill! Whenever my mum makes it, I make sure I place myself right in front of it and pretty much it’s a “you snooze you lose” situation. I’m eating it!

Now you can sit back and relax with your friends and have drink, hoping they don’t see the massive pile of stuff threatening to burst out of the cupboard! Do you have any recipes for homemade dips that are always a hit? I’d love to hear them!

Cottage Pie? Shepherd’s Pie?

Sometimes I get in to the habit of mince means spaghetti. It’s just so easy to do, however, it’s cold outside and I’m so over pasta it’s not funny. I thought I’d show you my version of a cottage pie or shepherd’s pie or whatever you want to call it! It’s so easy to make, it’s super tasty and you can pretty much throw in any vegetable you want. It’s also a great way to use up any vegetables that need to be cooked. I tend to make large amounts of these sorts of foods because they freeze really well and are great for lunch.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Beef mince, garlic, onion, carrots, zucchini and spring onion, I also added (which are not in the photo) peas, corn, broccoli, Worcestershire sauce, tinned tomatoes and 2 cups of stock. For the top you’ll need potatoes, depending on the size of the dish, I used 6 to 7 small to medium potatoes in the big dish and it probably works out to 1 potato per ramekin.

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Start with some oil in the pot and brown your mince.

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At about 3 quarters cooked add in garlic, onion and spring onion.

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When onion softens, add in remaining vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Next add in tinned tomatoes, stock and 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Stir and season with salt and pepper, you can also add any herbs you want. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, during this time the liquid will reduce and thicken, make sure to stir occasionally.

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At about the 25 minute mark, start preparing your potatoes. Peel and chop, place in a pot of water with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. By the end of the 45 minutes it should be ready to mash and assemble.

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Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place meat mixture into oven proof dish pie dish and using a fork add the mash potato to the top and spread around. Sprinkle with some cheese and place in oven until cheese has melted and is just turned golden brown!

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Before oven

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After!

Now for a couple of things that you can try, but if you don’t it won’t be the end of the world! I find a dash of good quality balsamic vinegar added to the meat mixture adds another flavour element to the mix. Also if it’s not salty enough for your liking, add a small dash of soy sauce, it also adds to the rich colour of the mixture.

Look at you go, now you’ve made a pie! People have surely got to be impressed with that!

Mmmmm… crackling….

I like cooking a roast. They are much easier than they appear to be. When I first started out cooking, I wouldn’t dare cook a roast. They always looked too difficult and how on earth was I supposed to know when it was done (usually when the juices run clear for pork and chicken, beef is a bit different, it depends on how you like it). Today I’m going to show you my version of roast pork. It’s always a big hit in my house.

Cameron loves roast pork and in particular pork crackling, so when his dad came for a visit what better way to feed them on a cold night than with a roast pork!

If you want good crackling dry the skin of your pork with paper towel

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Score the skin. (It doesn’t have to be very deep)

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Drizzle oil, sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper (more salt than pepper), I also added dried mixed herbs as well.

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Place in a preheated oven at 220 degrees for the first 10 minutes and then turn down to 180. Depending on the size of your roast will depend on the length of cooking. Ask your butcher how long to cook it for.

Butchers are great when it comes to how to cook the meat. Just ask them, don’t be embarrassed to ask either. They’re usually more than happy to help and are a great source of tips and tricks! If in doubt however, low and slow is a good choice.

Halfway through cooking (about an hour for me), prepare your vegies. I used carrots, onion, potato and pumpkin. Peel, chop and place in baking tray.

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Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and place in oven for final half of cooking.

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By this stage, I had forgotten to continue to take photos, but once the meat as finishing cooking, allow it rest. While it is resting, remove the skin and place back into the oven for 5 minutes to create the perfect crackling. I did need to increase the temperature back up to 220 to achieve this.

Once the crackling is done, then it’s time to serve and enjoy your fantastic roast! Well done, I told you it wasn’t that hard!

Baby, it’s cold outside

Seeing as it’s starting to cool down, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make some soup! Vegetable soup is probably one of the easiest things you can make. It’s a great thing to try when you’re just starting out cooking, plus it fills the house with a beautiful smell! I was planning on showing you how to make a roast, but quite frankly I forgot to take pictures. My bad! I’ll do a roast next time!

The great thing about vegetable soup is you can put pretty much anything in it, you can chop the vegetables anyway you choose and make it as rustic as you like. You can’t really go too far wrong when making a soup and the best part is most supermarkets I’ve been to sell packs of vegetables for making soup.  So here we go!

In this one I used; 2 carrots, leek, spring onion, garlic, brown onion, zucchini, capsicum, broccoli, mushroom, peas and corn.

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You’ll also need a tin of diced or crush tomatoes, 4 cups of vegetable stock and half a cup of Quinoa or rice. If you want you can add potato or parsnip.

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Peel, cut, dice and slice all your veggies, I kept my garlic, leek and onion separate from the others at this stage.

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Put a pot with some oil (about a tablespoon is all you need) on a medium – high heat, once heated put the onion, garlic and leek in the pot first, cook this for about 5 minutes on its own.

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Next add in the rest of the vegetables and stir and let cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. You should be getting some awesome smells coming out of the pot now!

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Next add in the tomatoes, stock and quinoa and stir.

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Bring to the boil, and then turn to simmer, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Now your super healthy, tasty soup is all ready to enjoy, see I told you it was easy!

No motivation?

Sometimes I really struggle to get the motivation to cook, I’ll sit there and think about all the different things I can make, but will probably end up eating toast. So I thought I’d show you today a quick and easy meal to prepare that’s super good for you! I’m a vegetarian; the only dairy I consume is cheese (because frankly I love cheese).  I also try to eat a mainly raw diet, full of raw vegies and fruit, nuts and seeds. I’m not a fussy vegetarian either, I don’t eat meat because well I don’t particularly like it and I feel so much better now that I don’t eat it. If someone has used egg in something, or there’s milk or dairy, or even if it was cooked on the same surface as meat, I’m not going to turn my nose up at it. I appreciate that someone has taken to effort to make something and I’ll eat it! But I’m not writing today to convince you to stop eating meat; I’m going to show you how to make a raw salad!

Raw salads are quick, easy, full of flavour and really good you. You can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and it’s a great way to practice you knife skills because you don’t have to make much effort to make it look pretty, it’s going to do that on its own with all the vibrant colours! So here’s what you’ll need:

1 Carrot, cucumber, zucchini, capsicum, baby spinach (or any other type of lettuce you like), garlic, sweet potato, spring onions and apple

For the dressing, I keep a container of blended raw cashew nuts. I combine this with some rice bran oil, salt, pepper, parsley flakes, onion powder and turmeric. You can also use plain Greek yogurt instead of the cashew nut cream. You can also make the cream out of almonds or any other type of nut. Simply soak them in water for 3 or more hours (I soak mine overnight) place in a blender with some water and blend. It takes my blender about 5 to 10 min to get it super smooth. The consistency is up to you though.

I have all my ingredients on the bench ready to go, with a bowl for the salad and a bowl for scraps and rubbish.

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I start first with the carrot and using a vegetable peeler I peel the carrot into strips and place in the bowl. Do the same for the cucumber as well. Don’t throw away the centre of them either, we’ll use them later.

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For the zucchini, I have a spiral thing from Tupperware that will turn it in to fancy spirals, but if you can’t do that slice them however you want, dice, slice or do the same as you did for the carrot. Seeing as I couldn’t find my spiral thing, (must have gone to the same place as my old vegetable peeler) I sliced them on an angle just to seem a bit fancy!

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The capsicum should be diced finely, along with the apple, garlic and sweet potato. I’ll like to use raw sweet potato because it tastes great. Slice the spring onion on an angle and combine everything in the bowl.

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Add the dressing and mix well. I also add some sesame seeds, chopped nuts and dulse flakes. Dulse flakes are great for seasoning instead of salt. I topped mine today with some feta cheese and some slice avocado. Yum!

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Look how well you’ve done! So simple, quick and tastes fantastic. Now you can sit down with a nice glass of wine and enjoy!

PS. Each Sunday I’ll be posting a new recipe, keep checking during the week for updates and tips!