“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Monday, 31 December 2012
After all of the turkey and ham of the past week, we were craving something quite different for supper at the weekend. We were also having company for supper and I thought they were probably a bit tired of turkey and the like as well.
I was right. This casserole went down a real treat. It is a little bit different than most Cowboy Casseroles which you may see out there in that I add herbs and vegetables to mine.
I still use the cream soup . . . but the addition of Worcestershire Sauce, Mushroom ketchup, tomato ketchup really enhances the flavours of this lovely stand by. It's like a cottage pie . . . but with a tater tot covering instead of mash.
If you keep ground beef, tinned soup and sweet corn, along with frozen tater tots in your store cupboard/freezer . . . then you always have the makings of this delicious and economical casserole ready to go.
This is a real family pleasing meal. It's hearty and filling and so very tasty. I like to make a salad to serve on the side and green beans. The other night I added some garlic bread as it was a company meal.
Needless to say, the meal was well received. I knew it would be. Enjoy!
This may not look very tasty, but trust me when I say it's delicious. I like to make the meat mixture the day before and let it ripen overnight. I think it's even more delicious when you do this.
500g of extra lean ground beef (2 1/2 pounds)
olive oil spray
a knob of butter
1 large leek, split, washed and thinly sliced
1 small onion, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (or 3 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic)
1 tsp mixed dried herbs (thyme, summer savoury, marjoram)
2 dessert spoonful's of tomato ketchup
a good splash of Worcestershire sauce
a good splash of mushroom ketchup
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (340g) tin of sweet corn, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
125ml of whole milk (1/2 cup)
4 heaped TBS sour cream
8 ounces strong cheddar cheese, divided (2 cups)
1 1/2 bags of frozen potato nuggets (tater tots)
Spray a large and deep nonstick pan with some cooking spray. Add the beef and scramble fry, cooking until it is no longer pink and any liquid is totally evaporated. Add the knob of butter and continue to cook, until it begins to turn golden brown in places. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and herbs. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are wilted. Stir in the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mushroom ketchup, corn, soup, milk, sour cream and 1/2 of the grated cheese. Heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not let it dry out. You want it slightly loose. (If you are making it a day ahead, pour it into a plastic container at this point, cover and refrigerate. The next day spread it into a 9inch by 13 inch glass baking dish which you have buttered and allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
Scatter the frozen potato nuggets over top of the meat mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer until golden brown and the meat mixture is bubbling nicely. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot. I like to serve this with some salad and green beans.
Pssst . . . I did take a picture of it spooned out in the kitchen . . . but it's not that great a picture because the light is artificial. Trust me though, it is really tasty.
Up next . . . a tasty Vegetable Gratin with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and leeks.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
When I was growing up a Terry's Chocolate Orange was an incredible treat . . . something special that was only ever available during the run up to the Christmas Holidays. There was something really magical about the way it fell apart into segments . . . just like an orange would . . . and the flavour . . . wow, orange and chocolate, amazing. A beautiful flavour combination.
They're a little more common these day, pretty much available all year round. I like to save them for a Christmas treat though, and so I resist buying them at any other time of the year . . . kind of like I resist buying strawberries in January. There's just something very seasonal about a Terry's Chocolate Orange, and it's absolutely not as tasty during any other than the Christmas Season. Am I alone in this??? I am sure I am not . . . I think that when you make something an every day thing . . . you take something pretty special away from it's . .. well . . . specialness . . .
And what about all those other flavours they have come out with now??? It's just plain wrong and I have never even been tempted to buy or taste any of them. A Terry's Chocolate Orange has to taste like a Chocolate Orange in my opinion . . . not of mint or anything else. I don't want it filled with popping candy or anything else strange. I will stretch to a dark chocolate one versus a milk chocolate one . . . but that's as far as I will go.
I do confess to being a bit of a glutton when it comes to them though . . . and when they put them on sale close to Christmas I cave and buy at least half a dozen of them, telling myself that they will come in handy as gifts for people. And, in all honesty . . . I did manage to part with one this year, sending it in the Christmas box to my daughter and new son in law. I hoarded all the rest though . . . and today with New Years looming and remembering my policy to not eat them any other time of the year I decided to do something rather tasty with the ones I had left. (One and a half . . . don't judge me.)
Today though . . . I think I created a monster . . . tis true. I took my best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and I exchanged chopped up chocolate oranges for about half of the chocolate chips. All I can say about that decision is . . .
ahhhh . . . . I'm a genius. A rather fat genius, but all that aside . . . I just know that you will LOVE these. In fact if I were you, I'd rush to the shops now and pick up a few chocolate oranges while they are still on sale. The orange flavoured ones . . . none of those other ones . . . grab one or two or three and
WHACK it! 'Nuff said. (I may just have to break my seasonal rule this year . . . sigh . . . )
*Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies*
Makes 7 dozen
The perfect thing to do with those leftover Chocolate Oranges after Christmas.
2/3 cup Trex, Crisco or White flora (145g)
2/3 cup butter, softened (150g)
1 cup caster sugar (190g)
1 cup soft light brown sugar (200g)
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 tsp orange extract
3 cups plain flour (300g)
(may need more)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 pound mixture of coarsely chopped semi sweet chocolate and chocolate orange segments (16 ounces)
115g of coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (1 cup)
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Lightly grease several cookie sheets and set aside.
Cream together the butter, shortening and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange extract and vanilla paste. Sift together the flour, salt and soda. Stir into the creamed mixture to make a soft but not sticky dough. You can add a bit more flour if you need to. Stir in the chocolate and chopped nuts.
Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and set on the prepared cookie sheets, two inches apart. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheets for several minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the dough. These are fabulous!
Store in an airtight container. They also freeze well.
Coming tomorrow . . . Cowboy Casserole. Tasty, tasty!
Saturday, 29 December 2012
My friend Shirley posted a photo of a delicious looking ice cream cake on Facebook on Christmas Day. Oh my but it looked good. I just had to ask for the recipe. This was her reply:
" I lined a loaf tin with cling film then put after eight mints on the bottom and sides. Then soften some ice cream and add whatever you like. I used some brownie chunks and mint areos. Then pop more mints on top and re-freeze. I dusted with icing sugar before serving. You could use anything in the ice cream mix....Christmas pudding, choc chunks, cranberries, cherries, toffee etc. Customize it to taste!"
Easy peasy!! I hesitate to even call it a recipe because it's so simple even a child could make it! All you need are a variety of bits and bobs to layer with the ice cream in the pan. If you didn't want to use mints on the outsides, you could use flat chocolate biscuits, which would be nice, or custard creams, or whatever.
You could drizzle the layers with your favourite kind of ice cream topping . . . Dulce de Leche, Chocolate Fudge, Strawberry Jam . . .
You could use any flavour of Ice Cream you want to use. I am thinking that chocolate ice cream would go really well with bits of marshmallow, cherries . . . toasted praline nuts . . . or broken up Terry's Chocolate Oranges.
Hopefully you can see where I am going with this. Just use your imagination and what you have to hand, just making sure that the flavours you use are ones which go well together. Cherry and toasted almonds. Milk Chocolate and Orange. Lemon and Vanilla. Peanut butter and Chocolate. Broken Digestives, peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallows . . . there is no end to the combinations you could come up with.
The most important thing is to have fun with it. I don't think I've ever seen an easier dessert or one that was as ooohed and aaahed over. Happy New Year!
* Simple Ice Cream Cake*
Makes about 10 servings
This is so easy to do and so adaptable. I hesitate to even call it a recipe. It's just basically layering ice cream with some of your favourite goodies.
1 litre of vanilla ice cream (1/2 quart), slightly softened
1 box of thin mint chocolate patties (such as After Eights)
4 mint aero bars, broken
5 shortbread biscuits, broken up, or broken up
(brownies or other sweet squares or biscuits, even rice crispie squares
work well. You want something which will go with the mint)
pieces of fudge or caramels chopped
icing sugar to dust
little chocolate candies and sprinkles, silver dragees, etc.
Line a loaf tin with some plastic cling film, allowing it to drape over the sides. Line the tin with a layer of the mint patties. (Place them so that their right sides will be facing out, when you unmold the cake.)
Fill the tin with 1/3 of the softened ice cream. Top with 1/2 of the broken aero bars, biscuits and fudge bits top with another third of the ice cream pressing it down. Sprinkle with the remaining aeros, biscuits and fudge and then top with the final third of the ice cream. Top with a final layer of mint patties. Fold the cling film over top to cover tightly and place into the freezer for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
When you are ready to serve, Uncover the top of the cake and tip it out onto a serving tray about 15 minutes before you plan on serving it. Carefully peel off the cling film. Dust with some icing sugar and sprinkle with candies, dragees, sprinkles, etc.
Cut into slices with a warm wet knife to serve.
Note: The best thing about this is that you can use whatever you have to hand. Candy cane ice cream would be lovely, or chocolate ice cream with chocolate orange chunks. Malteasers, leftover Christmas chocolates, crumbled Christmas pudding, or whatever else is available.
Mmmm . . . Next up Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies, filled with lots of chocolate orange chunks, semi sweet chocolate chips and toasted walnuts.
Friday, 28 December 2012
When I was a much younger woman, I was very fond of the Honey Garlic Chicken Wings and Spareribs at our local Chinese Restaurant. The flavour of the sauce was delicious and the wings and ribs just seemed to soak it up. Not so healthy for you though . . . all that fat from the chicken skin and the pork spareribs . . . it makes me shudder to think of it now.
I have come up with a delicious alternative, and whilst they are still fried, I believe them to be a somewhat healthier alternative to the original.
They have a delicious spicy coating. You double dip them into the spiced flour and beaten egg, which helps to make the coating nice and crisp, yet keeping the chicken inside moist and tender. The sauce is a perfect balance of sweet, hot, salty and garlic. We love it.
The two together are absolutely delicious. You could of course cut your breasts into fingers or use tenders instead, but this would increase the fat content considerably. We like these just the way they are.
Sticky rice and a green vegetable are wonderful partners.
*Crispy Chicken Breasts with a Honey Garlic Sauce*
Crispy coated moist chicken breasts served with a restaurant quality honey garlic sauce. Delicious!
4 free range boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the coating:
100g plain flour (1 cup)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground thyme ( grind 2 tsp thyme with a mortar and pestle)
1 tsp powdered sage
1 TBS sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
You will also need:
2 medium free range eggs, beaten
2 TBS water
oil for frying
For the sauce:
250ml of liquid honey (1 cup)
60ml of low salt soy sauce (1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp gourmet garden garlic paste
(alternately use 3 cloves of garlic, crushed)
Take your chicken breasts. Rinse them in running water, dry and then pound each of them to an even 1/2 inch thickness between two sheets of plastic cling film.
Whisk together all of the coating ingredients. Place them into a shallow pie pan. Beat together the eggs and water in another shallow pie pan. Dip the chicken breasts into the flour mixture, patting it to help it adhere. Dip them into the egg mixture and then into the flour mixture again, pressing so that the flour sticks well. Set aside to dry while you coat all the chicken breasts.
Place the liquid honey, soy sauce, pepper and garlic paste into a small saucepan. Heat gently to a low simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then keep warm.
Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet until quite hot. Fry the chicken breasts two at a time in the hot oil, frying them for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and crisp, and yet still moist inside. Place on paper kitchen toweling to help to absorb any excess fat. Keep warm while you cook the other two chicken breasts. Drain them on paper toweling as well.
Serve the Crispy Chicken hot with some of the honey garlic sauce spooned over top. We like this with a green vegetable and some sticky rice.
Up Next . . . A delightfully festive Ice Cream Cake!
Thursday, 27 December 2012
I found this recipe via pinterest and These Peas Are Hollow. quite some time ago. It looked fabulous. The Peas Are Hollow people got the recipe via La Cuisine d'Helene. I printed it out and it's been waiting in my "to do" file ever since.
Aside from the photograph which looked so very delicious . . . I was intrigued by the mix of spices which it called for. Ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and all spice. This cake had to be good . . .
We are having the missionaries over for supper tonight and so I decided that the time was ripe for me to bake these luscious little cakes.
Oh my but they smelled gorgeous while they were baking. It was like we were in a Yankee Candle shop, no kidding. Simply fabulous. If I could bottle that smell and use it like a perfume I would.
They came out dark and gingerbread-ee . . . and very moist. The glaze adds to their delightful spiciness. You could of course just use a plain glaze if you wanted . . . or a lemon glaze, which would also be very good. I, myself, loved the spiciness of the cinnamon glaze.
I added a little decoration of silver dragees, which I thought looked very festive. You don't have to . . . glitter is nice, or candied ginger, or whatever floats your boat. Even nothing would be fine. I just wanted pretty.
The cakes were every bit as delicious as their fragrance. Moist and wonderfully spiced. They went down a real treat with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
*Gingerbread Baby Bundt Cakes with a Cinnamon Glaze*
Makes 12 mini cakes
Adapted from a recipe I discovered on These Peas Are Hollow, taken from La Cuisine d'Helene. Fabulously spiced and moistly delish.
225g of plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
8 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
120ml dark treacle
60ml golden syrup
(in North America, use 3/4 cup dark molasses)
145g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
1 large free range egg
125 ml buttermilk (1/2 cup)
125ml whole millk (1/2 cup)
For the glaze:
130g sifted icing sugar (1 cup)
3 to 4 TBS whole milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Silver dragees or glitter to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Butter and flour 12 mini bundt pans. Set aside. (If you only have a six cup one, you will need to use it twice, cleaning and re-buttering and flouring again.)
Cream together the molasses, melted butter, syrups and sugar, until well blended using an electric whisk. Whisk in the milk and buttermilk. Whisk together the flour, soda, salt, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cocoa powder, cinnamon and ginger. Beat this into the creamed mixture a bit at a time until smooth and just combined. Divide the mixture equally amongst the prepared baking pan, filling no more than 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Tip out onto a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over top of the cakes. Sprinkle with dragees or glitter if using.
Note: The original recipe said that it made 24 mini bundt cakes. They must have been much smaller than mine. I got 12 using my pan, which is a six cup pan, each cake being about 4 inches across.
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
So here we are at Boxing Day. Christmas . . . takes forever to arrive and then it is gone in a flash. Trusting you all have a Merry one, with lots of yummy goodies and family, friends and love the whole day through. My dinner pretty much tasted like cardboard, with this rotten cold I have had . . . but I can breathe this morning so things are definitely on the upturn!
Best part of yesterday was watching the grand-kiddos open their pressies on the ipad. What a marvelous invention that is. Just brilliant. I wish that I could do that with all my grand babies, but alas . . . only one son with kids has an ipad. C'est la vie!
To my way of thinking the best part of any roast dinner, Christmas or otherwise . . . is dealing with the inevitable leftovers. I like to come up with different things to do with them . . . of course there is turkey curry and turkey pie, turkey casserole and the like . . . there is no end to the deliciousness that you can achieve with the leftovers.
This is a delicious rice dish that you can either cook fresh rice for or use pre-cooked packaged rice for. You can serve it along side of your turkey curry or whatever . . . or you can add bits of your leftover roast turkey and ham to it and turn it into a main dish. Whatever you choose to do I think you will find that it's easy, delicious and . . . quite different.
Today we're having roast ham with all of the trimmings as the Missionaries are coming over. I do love to spoil them. Whatever you are having today . . . I hope you enjoy. Happy Boxing Day.
*Curried Cranberry and Pistachio Rice*
Serves 6 as a tasty side dish
This recipe is great to use with freshly cooked rice or leftover cooked rice. You can also add chopped leftover chicken, ham, pork, turkey or lamb for even more deliciousness.
5 cups of cooked basamati rice
2 TBS coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp dried thyme
a knob of butter
2 TBS medium curry powder
2 tsp soy sauce
2 TBS chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan.over medium low heat. Add the pistachio nuts and cook, stirring until they begin to toast. Add the butter, thyme, garlic and curry powder. Cook until the mixture becomes very fragrant. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce and the rice. Stir well to combine, adding more broth if necessary to keep the rice moist. Cook over medium high heat until heated through and the rice is hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the cranberries. Remove from the heat and serve.
By the way, I've had a couple of comments lately that were quite negative. One complaining that my Boulangere Potatoes were horrible and another saying the same thing about my Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. This is my reply . . . Cooking is subjective and variable. I simply cook what I think are good recipes and sound recipes and I show you MY results. I invite you to try them out yourself. I am not responsible for what happens in your kitchen, with your equipment, your cooking methods, or for your own personal tastes. I simply show you my own experience and if it's a bad one, I will tell you . . . if it's a good one, likewise. I apologize if you haven't had the same experience, but that is life. We all see things from our own eyes. I take pictures and I am not the best photographer in the world. I just click and shoot. The things I make look tasty because they are tasty. I can't help it if you don't agree. Taste is subjective too. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Monday, 24 December 2012
Well, here we are Christmas Eve. How did that happen? It's crept up on us really quickly now, but you might just have time to fit in one more baking delight before night falls and the big day is upon us. When I was growing up this cake was a family tradition that we all looked forward to every Christmas Celebration.
It is a recipe that my mother baked every year, and her mother before her, and probably her Grandmother did as well . . . it being a recipe handed down through the generations and carried on with love. A beautiful example of thrift having come about during the War years when things like eggs, milk and butter were in short supply.
Yes . . . this cake is egg, milk and butter free. There is white vegetable shortening in it, which over here means White Flora or Trex . . . if you are not worried about the calories, lard and even bacon fat, which was judiciously saved for things just such as this can be used.
I'll wager the recipe is even older than that . . . it sounds like the type of thrifty cake that might have been baked in log cabins out on the prairies or in farm houses, for special occasions just such as Christmas . . .
Simple ingredients, simple measures . . . simple methods. Fabulous taste and incredibly moist. It's a dense cake, thick with raisins and spice and only too perfect for the holidays.
My mother always used the large seeded raisins, but they are very difficult to find today . . . and so we make do with what we have to work with. It somehow never comes out tasting as good as the memory of my mom's tastes in my mind, but oh well . . .
There are a lot of things like that. A slice of this sitting on a plate next to a warm cup of horlicks and spread with butter (I know . . . soooo hedonistic) whispers Christmas to my heart. Thanks mum.
*Mum's War Cake*
Makes one 9 inch round deep cake, or two large loaves
A deliciously moist fruited cake from the days of rationing when eggs and butter were in short supply.
300g soft light brown sugar ( 1 1/2 cups packed)
375ml of water ( 1 1/2 cups)
2 heaped dessertspoons of white vegetable shortening (1/2 cup)
230g of raisins ( 1 1/2 cups)
200g plain flour (2 cups)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Combine the browns sugar, water, shortening and raisins in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to the boil, then allow to boil for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2. Butter and line a round deep baking tin with baking paper. Butter the baking paper. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, soda, nutmeg, salt and baking powder. Stir this into the cooled raisin mixture. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the cake is cooked through and solid, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. It will still look fairly moist on top. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Once cold, wrap tightly and store in a tin overnight before serving. Cut into wedges to serve.
Alternately if you are baking two loaves, butter and line the loaf tins with paper. Butter the paper. Divide the batter betwixt the two tins. Bake as above from 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the cakes are cooked through and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before flipping out and cooling completely on a wire rack. Store as above.
This will keep for about 2 weeks, and freezes well for longer storage.