Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dinner with friends, chicken paella and berry meringue smash

Tonight we had a couple of very good friends and their baby over for dinner. It was great to talk about motherhood, parenting and general baby topics, and know that you are not boring the pants off of your guests. It is extremely funny how much one can talk about poop at the dinner table and not be disgusted and put off of their meal, ah the joys of being a parent.

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to take any photos of our dinner, but suffice to say it was quite delicious. We had a chicken paella and simple garden salad for dinner, and then a berry and meringue dessert. Here are the recipes for anyone that is interested.

Chicken Paella (from Super Food Ideas - May 2007)
Serves 6

2 tsp paprika
2 tsp turmeric
6 chicken thighs on bones
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large chorizo sausages, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups arborio rice
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas

  1. Combine paprika and 1 teaspoon of turmeric in a bowl. Coat the pieces of chicken in the spices and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chorizo, onion and garlic. Cook for 4 minutes or until chorizo is light golden. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add remaining oil to the pan. Cook chicken on one side for 4 minutes or until golden. Turn over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of stock to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Remove the lid. Boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until almost all liquid has evaporated.
  4. Combine 2 cups of remaining stock and remaining turmeric in a jug. Add rice, tomatoes and stock mixture to pan. Stir to combine. Return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add peas, chorizo mixture and remaining stock. Simmer for 5 minutes or until stock is just absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.

Berry Meringue Smash
Serves 4

300ml thickened cream
100g meringue
500g frozen mixed berries, thawed
100g white chocolate, chopped

  1. Whip cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Crumble meringue with fingers into the cream and stir to combine.
  3. Gently mash the berries with a fork.
  4. Add the berries and white chocolate, and stir to combine.
  5. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Baking Mondays - Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes

I was a very slack blogger over the weekend - but I am back on the blogging wagon today because it is Baking Monday! I planned to make these cupcakes a week ago for Valentines day, but with our short trip back to Mildura I didn't get the time to go to the shops to get all of the necessary ingredients - so here they are a week late.

I used the recipe for Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes and was planning to swirl some raspberry flavoured syrup through it to give it that extra burst of raspberry flavour. However, when I opened the syrup jar and it didn't make that lovely 'pop' sound to say that it was fresh I knew that dream was over. So instead we just have plain vanilla cupcakes - and it was lucky that they turned out! When I had finished mixing the ingredients I thought the batter looked incredibly dry - so I reread the instructions and whoops I forgot to add the eggs! I blame it on my silly mummy brain, thankfully they still turned out okay.

For the raspberry butter cream I used the recipe from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. However, I put in a full cup of raspberry jam and it wasn't seedless because apparently that doesn't exist in my local shopping centre. Also I only used five and a half cups of icing sugar.

So the ratings?

7/10 from both Mat and I - these are definitely yummy, but they don't blow your socks off or anything.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WIP Thursday - Mosaic Pots

I started these pots a long time ago, but because of the pregnancy and little Z I just haven't got around to finishing them. Now that Zoe is settling down a bit I am going to finish these off during her day time naps, plant them up and then put them next to our front door. Hopefully they don't take too long to finish.

Like my new plant? It is a chinese lantern that my good friend gave me - the newest addition to my collection of pots in the back yard.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My darling husband gave me a lovely bunch of flowers for Valentine's day. They got delivered yesterday since we were in Mildura on the weekend and I must say they have really brightened up my day. Love you honey!

On another note Zoe is 4 months old today - where has that time gone?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baking Mondays - Ginger Nut Biscuits

Due to our trip to Mildura over the weekend I haven't had time to do our weekly grocery shop yet - so today's baked goodness had to be made from ingredients I already have in the pantry. So Ginger Nut biscuits were the go today, I got the recipe from a very old Woman's Weekly Biscuit cookbook - 100 delicious Biscuits and Slices published in 1972.

Ginger Nuts
Makes around 3 dozen (depending on how big you like them)

2 cups plain flour
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
2 tsps ground ginger
4 oz butter
1 egg
1 tsp golden syrup

Sift the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, salt and ginger into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture is of a fine crumb consistency. Beat the egg with the golden syrup and add to the dry ingredients. Work into a firm dough with hands. Roll into small balls and put on baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake in a moderately slow oven for approximately 15 minutes or until just starting to brown.

Note: I needed to add a bit more golden syrup to get a dough to form - I just kept on adding until it came together.

So the verdict?

Me - 7/10 these are soft and chewy, but will probably get crunchier after a while. I am a big fan of baked ginger goods so I quite liked these - although perhaps not sweet enough for me.

Mat - 9/10, not too gingery and not too sweet. Big fan!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zoe Rocking Out

We are back from our weekend away and we all had a rocking time. We attended a charity event for the Victorian bush fires on Saturday. The event held an auction with all proceeds going to the Red Cross. A huge $20,000 was raised and we made our contribution by purchasing a box of twelve bottles of wine.

The event also had Jackson Firebird play a set (check them out on myspace). The loud music meant that Zoe got to test out her awesome pink protective head phones. They worked a treat - there will be no hearing damage for our little Z.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WIP Thursday - Clive the Plush Toy

I have been dreaming of making my own plush design for some time now and I think that Clive the deer is the right candidate for it. I am making the basic nude Clive to start with (how naughty!), and then sometime down the track I will introduce some special editions, but I won't give away too much about that yet - I've got to leave something as a surprise!

So this week I have come up with the first version of the pattern, cut out the fabric (don't fear - the final version will not have a flowery head), embroidered the face and pinned together the pieces. Now I just hope that Zoe gives me a few spare moments so that I can sew this baby up!

I will post my progress shots of Clive as he comes along. Nothing like a blog to stop you from procrastinating.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Cookie Carnival

I finally found one of my all time favourite cartoons on youtube! The Cookie Carnival is one of the short cartoons produced by Disney as part of their "A Silly Symphony" series. It is a story about a cookie girl that wants to be part of a parade, but doesn't have anything nice to wear. A friendly cookie gent comes to the rescue and gives her a makeover and she then goes on to become the Cookie Queen. Every time I used to watch this I just thought how delicious everything looked, how much I wanted to be the cookie girl and how fantastic it would be to create a little Cookie Carnival world of my own using baked goodies. Maybe one day I might have to take on that task - wouldn't it be fantastic!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Victoria bush fires

Victoria is currently suffering through the worst bush fire in Australia's history, with 108 reported fatalities so far, and more expected. My thoughts are with the families that have lost loved ones and their homes.

Baking Mondays - Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

This weekend I asked Mat what flavour cupcake he would like me to bake and he requested choc mint. So I googled away until I found a few recipes that I was happy to try out. I found this recipe for chocolate cake and made it taste slightly minty by adding an eighth of a teaspoon of peppermint essence, the recipe made 22 small cupcakes. I then used this recipe for mint frosting and added just a few drops of green food colouring to make it look that little bit more minty, the recipe made more than enough frosting for all of the cupcakes. Finally I topped the cupcakes with a small slice of mint patty.

The verdict?

Mat - 8/10
Me - 6/10 (I think the frosting needs some work still)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Foccacia, cupcakes, daydreaming

I ventured out today with my mum and Zoe to go to lunch and to go to one of the only cupcake shops in Adelaide. First we went to a small cafe on Norwood Parade for a foccacia - I had one with smoked turkey, cranberry sauce, lettuce and brie. It was really good, the bread was light and fluffy, the turkey was flavoursome and the brie was nice and creamy. Unfortunately the customer service left a lot to be desired so we won't be going back there.

Our next adventure took us to the Cupcake Cafe and I hate to be negative about it - but I was disappointed. The shop itself was small, poky and I wasn't a fan of the decor - so my first impressions were not all that great. Then I didn't get the best customer service either, no smile, no 'how are you today?' and it all felt very rushed. Then to top it all off the cupcakes were okay, but nothing special. Both of the flavours were very mild and the icing was nothing amazing. I feel like the cupcakes I bake at home are just as good and they don't cost $4.20 each.

Choc-Orange Cupcake & Banana Caramel Cupcake

After a double disappointment we retired to my mum's house and daydreamed about opening up our own dessert shop where we would sell tasty sweets, have amazing decor and always have fantastic service. Now we just need to win the lottery so that we can open shop.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kitchen wish list

Every time I make anything in the kitchen I am reminded of all the things that I would love to have but can't afford. Unfortunately our kitchen leaves a lot to be desired, it has next to no storage space, a single basin sink, an oven that can't hold a steady temperature and an exhaust fan that barely works. It does tend to make baking and cooking a tad bit difficult - but I still soldier on week after week. In the long run when I am no longer a stay at home mum and we have two incomes again we will renovate the kitchen and make it into a wonderful place for me to cook and bake to my hearts content. In the meantime I am starting to make my wish list for my future kitchen and here are the first four items....

1. A new oven - with a gas cooktop and electric oven such as this one from smeg.
2. A cute apron from Jessie Steele to do all of my baking in.
3. A whole heap of storage jars for all of my baking/cooking ingredients from ikea.
4. A KitchenAid - need I say more?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

WIP Thursday

Over the last couple of weeks I have been busy designing, sketching and carving out some lino (well actually it is vinyl) to make some cards for my future etsy shop. At the moment I am working on three different designs and plan to sell them separately and also as a set of three. Now that I have finished the carving stage I am looking forward to choosing my ink and card colours and doing some test prints. I will continue to keep you all updated as I make progress.

There are also a few more things in the pipeline but I'll save that for another WIP Thursday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Good news - teaching and cupcakes

Last night after ogling cupcakes on a few of my favourite blogs (Cupcakes take the cake, I heart cuppycakes and CakeSpy) I did some googling for cupcake shops in Adelaide. As far as I knew there were none in Adelaide and it was starting to depress me a little bit. But, what do you know I found three shops here in Adelaide and I am super excited to try them all out!

So I found,
My mission is to try out all three and report back. I think this is perhaps the best mission I have ever set myself and I can't wait to get started. Hopefully this Sunday my mum will be up for a trip to The Parade and the sampling can begin.

My second bit of good news is that I was successful in getting a place in a Bachelor of Teaching, specialising in Information Technology. I will be studying over the next 3 years part time, in external mode. So in 3 years time I will be a teacher! Who would of thought.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Baking Mondays - Red Velvet Cake

I've always been curious about red velvet cake - it is something that we don't really have here in Australia, so every time I have seen it blogged about I have thought to myself that I really want to give it a try. So this week I did just that. I used the recipe from Cookie Madness and unfortunately I don't know if I did something wrong but they didn't turn out very well at all. The cake itself is not really sweet and there was way too much icing/frosting for the 16 cupcakes that the mixture made.

So my first attempt at red velvet cake can be deemed as a failure :( but perhaps I shouldn't give up just yet. Maybe I should try some more recipes - or perhaps I got some of my measurements wrong? I was very hot, flustered and rushed when I baked these.

Is red velvet cake usually sweet or did I make a boo-boo?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

German Gingerbread

I've been meaning to buy and try these German gingerbread biscuits for a while now and I finally did yesterday. May I say that they are awesome - not too sweet, soft and chewy :). My local supermarket has a great spread of different international biscuits and cakes, so I am going to sample them whenever I have a bit of spare cash.

Now back to my episode of Fringe - Mat and I have moved our mattress into the lounge room due to the heat wave and are currently enjoying watching a few Fringe episodes.