Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas M & B style - a recap

So it's been a while huh? Quite a long while to be (non) specific! Thanks for still checking in and reading and cooking though. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying some time off with friends and family. We had our usual family lunch and present exchange on Christmas day. It's mayhem now with all the kids being ages 1 to 11, but of course, where kids and Christmas are paired, it is absolute gorgeously fun mayhem.

To get back on track before the new year, we thought we would have kind of a Christmas recap. For this post I'll share some pictures from our family Christmas lunch. No recipes, just food. Glorious food (that said, if you must have some recipes, please ask and we will see what we can do!). M will also be posting some Christmas treat recipes she prepared over the last few weeks.

Our family are chronic over-caterer's as you will see, a total first-world problem I realise, but it's kind of all part and parcel of celebrating Christmas for us. It's a a time when we are all reflecting on being thankful for what we have and for our loved ones and celebrating the year with them. So with that in mind, I present Christmas Day, Maude and Betty-style!

Maude made a delicious chunky guacamole, despite her distaste for avocado and tomato. It was served with corn tortillas that had been shallow fried and dusted with smoked paprika. 

Maude also made a delicious and refreshing watermelon fruit punch.

There was the usual potato salad, but this time with a spicy hommus twist!

Right on-trend, quinoa made the cut for the menu this year. This was a white quinoa and roast vegetable and feta salad with a lemon and mint dressing.

Turkey and stuffing. Need I say more?

A garden salad with prosciutto, eggs and parmesan. We're a bit of a Caeser salad loving group.

A gingerbread house was also constructed by Maude and her cherubs (apologies for the blurry pic!)

A chocolate and ginger ice-cream tart made the dessert menu.

Donna Hay's trifle cake also made the menu

Of course, is any good old Aussie family Christmas day complete without an actual trifle?

And last but not least, that gingerbread house again. Poor gingerbread man!

Season's Greetings! B x

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Risoni Salad

Risoni salads rate highly on our menus. They are so versatile. There is no need to wait for a special occasion to produce this risoni salad, although I am sure it would be a welcome addition on any table at any time.

This particular version of the salad was actually sampled by Mother and Father of M and B at a reunion of their friends. They are a group of life long friends who gather at different venues at least annually and enjoy good food and wine. They consider all their reunions as special so I guess you could say that this was one of those events and the salad was obviously considered as "up there" as it is now a fixture on the menu for all their annual get togethers. It has also become a favourite with all the families since that revealing reunion many years ago. They might be our "grey nomads" but I can assure you that there is a great repertoire of culinary skills and recipes which I intend to share with you in the future.

I have already shared this recipe with some close friends and it has become a favourite with them. It goes well as a side dish with any meal and is quick and easy but above all, tasty.

I make this salad so often that I no longer refer to the recipe. Imagine my horror when I went to share this with you and had no real recipe to follow for the exact ingredient measurements. My good friend, Mrs K came to the rescue with the details!!! She had the original "over the phone jottings" which were dispatched to me immediately. Luckily I can interpret chicken scratch..........see below.

The flavours are spectacular. Although the spices coat each individual risoni grain, there is no overpowering  flavour. It's become a favourite of ours and hopefully will be one of yours as well. Thanks also to the "grey nomads". Keep swapping those recipes!!

You will need:
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika ( I used sweet paprika)
1 cup of currants
1 red capsicum
1 70g packet of pine nuts toasted ( I could do with more pine nuts as when I toast them I can't help but taste a few along the way!)
1 cup of uncooked risoni
1 bunch of coriander
5 tablespoons of olive oil

 Add cup of risoni pasta to some boiling water and cook per instructions on the packet. Drain and run some cold water through the cooked risoni and set aside.

Place the pine nuts on a lined baking tray and heat your oven to 180 degrees and roast until lightly browned. (Be careful at this point and don't get distracted as they burn very quickly!!)

Wash and dice the capsicum finely, remember to remove the seeds.

In a fry pan heat the oil on medium heat and add spices and heat until fragrant, add currants and stir until the currants start to puff up into little balls (about a minute or two) remove from heat.

Add capsicum, pine nuts, spice/currants/oil to the risoni and mix so that all the grains of risoni are coated with the spices and oil. Add 1/2 cup coriander leaves and mix to combine.

I Love this salad!! M x

Friday, 28 September 2012

Baby Shower Cupcakes

Betty was on assignment. Well, in actual fact she gave me the assignment as she was invited to a baby shower for one of her best friends. I was to make cupcakes and had free range of what I could do and because the mother-to-be already knew her baby was a gorgeous little boy I decided I wanted the colour blue to appear somewhere, but where? Cupcake wrappers, icing or blue sprinkles perhaps? I did do a little research and there were so many great ideas out there and very clever ones I might add, whilst the flavour of the cupcakes were thought up by Betty.

The first was a caramel mud cake with a simple butter cream icing and the second one was to be a lemon one with some lemon curd put inside the actual cupcake itself. You will find the lemon cupcake recipe on our blog under "Lemon Meringue Cupcakes" but I didn't put the meringue on top of these particular cupcakes. A simple lemon cream cheese icing with a touch of yellow coloring to give it the coloured look I was after.

Caramel Mud Cake
125g butter, chopped coarsely
100g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
2/3 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 egg
Butter cream
90g butter softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 170 degrees/340F. Line 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Stir butter, chocolate, sugar, syrup and milk in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, cool 15 minutes.

Whisk sifted flours into chocolate mixture, then whisk in egg. Drop 1/4 cups of mixture into paper cases. Bake about 30 minutes. Stand cakes in pan 5 minutes before turning top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.

For the butter cream, beat butter in small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible, beat in sifted icing sugar and milk, in two batches. (You can tint the icing with any colour you like).

For the decorations on top of this particular cupcake I made little blue rattles.

For the end of the rattle it was a little white chocolate called a Raffaello and the stick part was a packet of cake pop sticks that I cut to size. I then wrapped ribbon around each stick and used my hot glue gun so the ribbon didn't unwind.

For the Lemon cupcake I tinted the icing with a touch of yellow and used some persian fairy floss for the tops of each cake.

Persian fairy floss comes in a variety of different flavours and it's best arranged on your cupcake just before serving them.

Enjoy! M x

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Spicy coriander chicken with udon noodles

This recipe is what you call a "speedy dinner" in one of my Donna Hay bibles and she is right! If you're after a midweek meal that is fast and full of flavour and most importantly can be clasified as being good for you I think you should try this one. One word of warning though.....remove the chilli seeds if you're wanting the kids to try it or you don't want the "kick". I left the seeds in and even though it was pretty spicy No 1 and 2 gave it a go but No 3 was sipping water after every mouth full!! It was so easy and I will remove the chilli seeds next time just to compare but if you're a chilli junkie like I'm a chocolate junkie just leave those seeds in.

You will need:
3 cups coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra, to serve
2 long red chillies, chopped
1/2 cup (70g) unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup (125ml) lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
3 x 200g chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
2 x 440g packets udon noodles, blanched
200g green beans, thinly sliced and blanched

Place the coriander, chilli, peanuts, lime juice, oil, mirin and sugar in the bowl of a small food processor and process until roughly chopped.

Place half the coriander mixture in a bowl with chicken and toss to coat.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the chicken for 12 - 14 minutes or until cooked through.
The udon noodles need to be blanched in boiling water as per packet instructions and I also blanched my beans at this point in the same saucepan of boiling water.

Place the noodles, beans and remaining coriander mixture in a bowl and mix to combine.

Top the noodles with the chicken and extra coriander leaves to serve.

Enjoy! M x

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

My Birthday Girl!

As many of you have seen already, August is a very big birthday month for me (well for the whole family. I'm sure B is cringing at the thought of that month also). I didn't exactly time it very well with both Miss 11 and Miss 6 being born a day apart, and then in April I have the same issues with Mr M and Master 8 having the same problem but I guess once you reach a certain milestone you're not exactly wanting all the fan fare....yes Mr M I'm talking about you! (He gets a little grumpy in his old age).

With both the girls being so close in birthdays and with five years between them I have been fortunate to be able to get away with just parties for the oldest as being the youngest you don't really know any different! (I can see B rolling her eyes as there is eight years between us!)

Turning six and being at school now has changed all that for my youngest lady and of course the other two had their first "official" birthday party once they had started school. This particular post doesn't exactly have any recipes attached to it. It is more just little ideas that I came across to help decorate my little lady's "ballerina/fairy" themed party and how it looked with all the decorations in place. I found some wonderful online stores that helped make it all look magical on the day.

The tissue paper pom poms I made myself as I am now an expert at making them as I've made quite a few over the last 12 months, for a baby shower and a high tea also. They are very easy and I found a site on Youtube.

Because my Miss 6 wanted Ballerinas and Fairies I added a few butterflies and also handmade these super cute little ballet tutu's on a stick.

The were actually very easy......just some pink card that I came across in a scrap booking place and I drew the outline of a leotard and cut some pink tule and stuck it on with a hot melt glue gun and added a little bow. I then stuck them onto a stick as I was thinking of sticking them into something at the time but ended up putting them on the blinds behind the table.

I made each little fairy/ballerina a flower garland to wear on their head which made them feel special......all I did was purchase some soft garden wire and shaped it into a circle and bought some little bits and pieces like paper flowers, feathers, stars, material flowers and ribbon and stuck them all around the wire with my hot glue gun.

I also made some little crowns that I had spotted on one of many late nights surfing the net and these were dead easy. All you need is some toilet rolls (empty ones of course) some scissors and some paint. I just cut the rolls in half and cut triangles all around them to make the crown shape and of course the paint was white and pink!

A great online shop I found for some lovely little things was "Little Big Company"......I bought this gorgeous drink dispenser along with these cute little milk bottles! I filled the dispenser with pink lemonade but you can just about put anything you like in it.

The beautiful coloured straws were of course bought from the "Donna Hay" store (I know I have a slight obsession with anything DH) but you can just about get any coloured straws from most online party shops.  Another great shop for some little things was a place called "The Party Parlour".
I had both paper cups along with the little glass milk bottles (I'm not sure if the novelty for the little bottles was more for me or the kids.....what on earth was I thinking with 12 six year olds and glass bottles!!)

I was able to find some lanterns just at my local post office in the throw out box so I was very excited to see pink ones there. I just bought some cheap ribbons at my local material shop and hung them from some wire and attached these gorgeous little butterflies that I found just at Crazy Clarks......a $2 shop here in Oz for all my overseas friends who take the time and follow M & B.

I have done a couple of recipes that were done on the day in previous blogs, like cupcakes and those yummy jam butterflies. We also had some little ham and cheese sandwiches that were cut out with a circle cutter and I attached a cherry tomato to some to make them look like a flower.

All in all it was a great morning and I really had the best time putting it all together but I have told Miss 6 her next party will be when she turns 18. Of course she just rolls her eyes at me and secretly deep down I know I won't be able to help myself.......until the next party!

I think B might have the next party....wink wink!

M x