Saturday, December 31, 2011

Food Stuffs and Raspberry Muffins

I always like to keep a few essentials handy in my pantry and freezer for unexpected meals and sweets, and to make things that little bit more interesting on the table. Here's a few:

Roasted Pumpkin (or Butternut Pumpkin to be exact).

I add this to tarts with spinach and feta cheese for a quick and simple meal. Pumpkin is a great addition to salads mixed with some pine nuts, rocket and goats cheese.

I roast a whole butternut pumpkin, cut into small cubes, toss with olive oil in a pan lined with baking paper, and cook at 200'C for about 30 mins. It should still be slightly firm, not mushy.

It's also a great vegetable for our toddler and having it cubed and already cooked means I can defrost the amount she needs, mix with some peas and corn and maybe some chicken and viola!

Garlic Infused Olive Oil

This is really easy and here I've used an empty Peanut Butter plastic jar to store it in. You might choose something prettier. Very simply put 4-6 cloves of garlic in the jar and fill with Extra virgin Olive Oil.

I use this on salads, on lamb cutlets before cooking, in my bolognaise sauce and loads more dishes that call for garlic. It just gives the dish that extra bit of flavour.

Frozen Raspberries

I always keep a packet or two of frozen berries in the freezer. You can make loads of dishes with them, from quick parfaits to berry topped ice-cream, to muffins.

Here's the recipe for the wholemeal raspberry muffins I made today:

200g of frozen raspberries
2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour
1 cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
11/3 cups of whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan. Pre-heat oven to 200'C.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the raspberries for later. Add the rest to your remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until just combined with a large metal spoon (I add the raspberries last so they don't break up).
Spoon mixture into prepared tin and top each muffin with the remaining raspberries (pressing in slightly). Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Turn onto wire rack to cool.
These muffins will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Autumn Kitchen Garden

Sometimes I think I would make a great 1950's housewife! Today I decided to make use of the sunshine and put something in the huge garden bed we have out the back. 

When we moved in to this house it was full of weeds with a Manchurian Pear tree and a very messy Camellia that was in bad need of a prune. I managed to clear the garden bed of weeds and over the last 6 - 9 months I've been adding any garden leaves, prunings and grass clippings to the bed as it was almost empty of soil.

Today I added a layer of top soil. The mulch underneath would be so nutrient rich I decided against a Veggie Mix.

The most fun was picking what to put in. I decided on a border of herbs and chose parsley, oregano, basil, coriander, mint, chives and thyme. That would cover most of my common Italian, Thai and Indian dishes.  Behind the herb row I planted a row of white Vinca's and then a row of purple Lisianthus. This was to attract bee's for pollination. Some of the herbs also ward off certain pests in the veggie patch.

Next was the vegetables. I chose Rhubarb, Silverbeet, Corn, Sunflowers, Peas and some mini Tomatoes as the season for tomatoes is almost over. The Sunflowers should only take about 4 weeks to mature and once they're done I plan on using the seeds in salads. I'll then plant Kale, Celeriac and Carrots for yummy winter stews and soups.

The arms and shoulders are a bit sore tonight and even with all the re-applying of sunscreen I am still a little burnt, but looking at my delicious garden it is all worth it. I can't wait till February/March for harvest!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Turkey Pie

Ever wondered what to do with your left over Christmas Turkey? Try this recipe:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200 g cup mushrooms, halved and chopped
  • 3 rashers rindless bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 6 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 leek, halved and chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook leek for 3 mins until soft but not coloured. Add mushrooms and bacon. Increase heat to high and cook for 4-5 mins until mushrooms are soft and bacon crisp. Add turkey, cream and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 3-5 mins until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat, stir through cheese and parsley and cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 220 °C or 200 °C fan. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Cut 4 x 14cm round and 4 x 17cm rounds from pastry. Lay smaller rounds on prepared tray. Top each with a quarter of turkey filling leaving a 2cm edge around pastry. Brush edges lightly with beaten egg. Top with remaining pastry, folding edges over to seal. Cut a small steam hole in the top. Brush with egg.
  4. Bake for 20 mins until puffed and golden.                                                     

Friday, December 23, 2011

And I'm Done!

Hooray! Finally I finished my hampers. Each one has a jar of apricot jam, a jar of grand marnier & raspberry jam, a packet of Christmas Tree shortbread biscuits, a noodle box of white chocolate rocky road & a packet of Lindt chocolate balls.

Here's my recipe for the white chocolate rocky road:

2 packets of white chocolate melts (375g each)
1 packet of marshmallows (not the mini ones)
1 packet of raspberry or strawberry & cream lollies
1/2 cup desiccated coconut plus extra for sprinkling

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave. I put it in for a minute at a time on 70% power & stirred in between until melted.

In a large mixing bowl add lollies, marshmallows & coconut. It doesn't matter that it's really chunky as you'll be cutting it later anyway. Stir in chocolate until just mixed.

Pour into a slice tray lined with baking paper.

Put in the fridge until set. Lastly cut into small squares and enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost Done!

Wow it's been busy! But I'm almost done. So far I have dresses with matching bracelets for my two nieces and pajama sets for the boys.

I've made apricot jam & grand marnier jam for the hampers, and one lot of Christmas Tree Shortbread Biscuits which was enough to cover two hampers.

So on tomorrows list is grocery shopping & then a night of cooking more shortbread & chunky white rocky road.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Best Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas

Scouring madeit, etsy and various other handmade websites for ideas for Christmas presents, there were so many great ones and I just don't have enough people to give to. So I've decided to list some here so that others might have the opportunity to use them.

What little girls don't love a set of hair baubles. These ones are personalised with the girls initials and they're so easy to make. Just hand cover some buttons and thread through some hair elastic.

How easy are these peg angels to make! How gorgeous would they look on your tree? Just take a peg and hot glue your feathers and wings on. Add some string to attach to your tree and viola!

Another great idea using pegs is to pattern one side using paper or pen and put a magnet on the other side . They're great for holding kids artwork or paperwork on your fridge.

Who doesn't love shortbread? This idea takes the humble Christmas Tree shortbread and makes it into a great gift idea. Soak bamboo skewers overnight and add then to your shortbread trees before baking. Wrap individual trees in cellophane and then pop a bunch into a coffee mug. What Dad wouldn't one of these!