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Recipe: Pea and Pesto Soup

Weekend-Cooking_thumbWeekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love and is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. On Saturday mornings, publish your post — perhaps a cookbook review or maybe just some favorite food-related quotes.

Make sure to leave a link, so we can read what you have to say. I hope you’ll join in when your weekend (or recent) reading or movie watching fits in with the theme. Remember, the definition of Weekend Cooking is free and easy, if you think your post even remotely fits the theme, grab the button and sign in to Mr. Linky.

Pea and Pesto Soup

I first saw this recipe on a Nigella Lawson cooking show. She’s my favorite celebrity chef, and I always enjoy trying out her recipes. This one is quick, simple and fairly low calorie for those of you who are on a diet.

Cooking 074


750 ml water
375 g frozen peas
2 spring onions, trimmed but keep whole
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp lime juice
4 Tablespoons fresh pesto
2 Tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

Boil the kettle, and once the water is boiled measure out the correct amount of water into a pot. Bring back to the boil.

Add the frozen peas, spring onions, salt and lime juice to the pot. Cook everything for about 7 minutes.

Discard the spring onions and place hot liquid into a blender. Add the pesto at this stage. Blitz until soup is smooth. Toast the pine nuts in a small fry pan until they start to color. Sprinkle over the soup and serve.

Shelley’s notes:

1. This soup was delicious. I used a hand blender and my finished soup had a few chunky bits. I was fine with that since I like a little texture in my soups.

2. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I garnished mine with grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of non-fat yoghurt.

3. This soup served two.

Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

Recipe: Melting Moments

Weekend CookingWeekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love and is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. On Saturday mornings, publish your post — perhaps a cookbook review or maybe just some favorite food-related quotes.

Make sure to leave a link, so we can read what you have to say. I hope you’ll join in when your weekend (or recent) reading or movie watching fits in with the theme. Remember, the definition of Weekend Cooking is free and easy, if you think your post even remotely fits the theme, grab the button and sign in to Mr. Linky.

Melting Moments

My mother used to make these biscuits when I was a child, so each time I eat one it’s like a trip down memory lane. Melting Moments are shortbread-like in texture and are sandwiched together with icing. The recipe is taken from one of my older cookbooks, which is why it’s not in metric measurements.



7 oz butter
3oz icing sugar (powdered sugar)
4 oz plain flour
4 oz corn flour (corn starch)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Cream butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Sift the flour, corn flour and baking powder and add to the bowl. Combine well. Roll in balls (small teaspoon size) and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten a fraction with your hand, then press each biscuit a bit flatter with a fork. Bake in a moderate oven (350F or 170C) for 15 – 20 minutes until they’re still pale but their bottoms are turning brown. Once the biscuits are cool sandwich them together with your favorite icing.


1. To stop your fork sticking to the biscuit, dip the fork in a cup of cold water between flattening each biscuit. My mother taught me this handy hint.

2. I usually use a lemon or passion fruit icing (frosting) to sandwich the biscuits together. You can also use your favorite jam.

Do you have particular recipes that bring back your childhood?

Hunter’s Decadent Truffles

Weekend CookingI’ve discovered a new meme called Weekend Cooking. It’s hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Since I often post recipes, this is a happy find for me. Follow the link above to Beth’s blog for further info on the meme.

And now to my recipe…

Hunter Blair, one of the heroes from my upcoming release, Eye on the Ball is having trouble in the romance field. He wondered if a box of these truffles might help his cause – at least that’s what he said in my hearing, but this conversation didn’t make the final draft of the book. Here’s the recipe Hunter uses:

Hunter’s Decadent Truffles

Tauranga 076



250 g/1 cup/9 oz cream cheese, softened
500 g/2 cups/18 oz icing sugar (powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
375 g/1.5 cups/13 oz dark chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Sift the icing sugar to remove any lumps and gradually add to the cream cheese until well blended. Melt the chocolate and add to the cream cheese mix until well combined. Refrigerate for about an hour. Once the mix has hardened shape into balls. Roll in nuts, coconut or sprinkles. Refrigerate until eating.

Shelley’s notes.

1. I always make these for Christmas, and since it’s summer down here in New Zealand, the refrigerate until eating instruction is important.

2. I’ve given measurements in grams, cups and ounces. Follow the relevant measurements for your country.

3. For the chocolate – my husband and I like hazelnuts so we use a bar of hazelnut chocolate as part of the chocolate measurement. You could add a few nuts or pieces of dried fruit to the cream cheese mix if desired.

4. I rolled my truffles in coconut, cocoa powder and cupcake sprinkles. Check out the cupcake bling section at your supermarket for different sprinkles. Use your imagination Smile

5. Eat and enjoy with friends.

Raspberry Surprise Muffins

Raspberry Surprise Muffins

Raspberry Surprise Muffins

This is an Alison Holst recipe, and one that I make frequently because I really like the combination of raspberry and coffee.

2 cups self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour & 2 teaspoons baking powder)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
100 grams butter (3.5 ounces or 1 stick butter)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee
Rind of 1 lemon
½ cup raspberry jam
¼ cup sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 – 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place flour, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Melt the butter. Dissolve the instant coffee in the milk and add the beaten egg and lemon rind. Add the liquids (butter and milk mix) to the dry ingredients. Fold together but don’t overmix.

Fill a 12 muffin pan with muffin cases. Half fill each case then make a tiny well in the center. Place a teaspoon of raspberry jam in the well. Divide the remaining mixture between the muffin cases, covering all the jam.

Bake at 200 C for 10 – 12 minutes. Once the muffins are almost cool, make the icing/frosting. Mix the icing sugar with just enough lemon juice to make a thin icing/frosting. Drizzle over the top of the muffins.

Serve with a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Savory Biscuits: Sesame Crackers

There’s nothing nicer than sitting down with a glass of wine and a few nibbles on a Saturday afternoon, so I thought I’d try my hand at making some crackers. This recipe is taken from Allyson Gofton’s The Great New Zealand Baking Book. These crackers are fairly low in fat, which counteracts a delicious topping!

Sesame Crackers

Sesame Crackers
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon butter
¼ cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
½ cup chilled water

Put the flours, salt and baking soda into a food processor. Toast the sesame seeds in the butter until lightly golden and add to flour mix. Mix the yoghurt and water together and with the motor running pour the liquid down the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a soft ball of dough.

Sesame Crackers

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Cover with a clean towel and stand for 10 minutes.
Roll the dough out very thinly. Cut into preferred shapes and place on a greased tray. Prick the crackers all over with a fork.

Sesame Crackers

Bake at 180C for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a cake rack. Store in an airtight container.

Sesame Crackers

Shelley’s notes:
Our crackers weren’t rolled thinly enough. Next time I’d roll them much thinner.
We added poppy seeds to ours as well. You could add just about any type of seeds or herbs. I think ground black pepper or rosemary might be nice.
We had salmon and cream cheese plus olive tapenade on our crackers

Easy Homemade Chocolate Bath Salts

Chocolate Bath SaltsChocolate Bath Salts

Here’s a very easy recipe for homemade Chocolate Bath Salts. Maybe a good school holiday project for children?

Chocolate Bath Salts

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup sea salt or kosher salt (coarse grain)
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp oil (almond, olive or sunflower will work)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a clean bowl. Add the vanilla extract and oil. Mix well to ensure oil is completely blended. Transfer to small clean jars or cello bags and close tightly. Sprinkle 1 – 2 spoonfuls in your bathtub, lie back in the water and relax.

* I added some baking soda to my mix to make my bath salts fizzy.
* I also omitted the vanilla extract and added 5 drops of peppermint essential oil.
* I gave jars to family members for Christmas.
* The Epsom salts and sea salt is good for soothing sore muscles and aches and pains.
* Make sure you read the recipe properly. My chocolate salts were a bit more chocolately than they should be because I put 3 Tablespoons of cocoa instead of 3 teaspoons. Duh!

Tempting Double Pea Curry

I’ve made this new-to-me recipe for Double Pea Curry twice now. The recipe comes from The Best of Annabel Langbein, Great Food for Busy Lives by New Zealander Annabel Langbein. It’s a vegetarian recipe and is quick and easy to make. This is a perfect dish for me to make when I’ve had a busy day and want something tasty for dinner because the ingredients are usually found in my pantry.

Double Pea Curry

Double Pea Curry

1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cinnamon quills
3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 x 300g (10.1 oz) cans of chickpeas
1 diced red pepper (capsicum)
400g (14oz) can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 cup green peas, thawed if frozen
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped toasted cashews
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic, spices and tomato paste for 30 seconds.
Add the chickpeas, red pepper, tomatoes, peas, salt and pepper.
Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add water if the mixture appears too dry – it should be moist but not sloppy by the end of cooking.
Mix in the cashews and coriander.
Serves 4 – 6

Shelley’s notes:
I halved the recipe.
I decided to add chopped onion, which I fried off with the spices.
I didn’t worry too much about precise measurements for the chickpeas and tomatoes, adding one can of each. It all worked out in the end.
Ms. Langbein notes that this recipe freezes well.

Delicious Orange Muffins

Orange Muffins

This is a new recipe that I tried this week. It comes from The Best of Annabel Langbein, Great Food For Busy Lives. The muffins have an intense orange flavor and would be perfect for a breakfast or brunch. They’re unusual because the entire orange, including peel, is used in the recipe. I know – I had to read the recipe twice before I really believed I had to put the peel in as well as the flesh of the orange.

Orange Muffins

1 orange, preferably an organic one
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg
120 g butter, melted (1 stick of butter)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Cut the whole, unpeeled orange into chunks and remove the pips. Puree in a blender. Add the raisins, orange juice, egg and melted butter and blitz briefly to combine.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.

Add the liquid mixture and gently fold in until evenly combined. Don’t beat or overmix.

Spoon into greased muffin pans (I used muffin paper cases) and bake for 15 minutes or until risen and cooked through.

The recipe makes 12 small or 10 medium muffins.

Shelley’s notes:
I like cranberries, so I replaced the raisins and used cranberries instead
The cooking time will be less if you use a fan bake oven. I cooked mine for 12 minutes.

Verdict: Will I make these again? Heck, yeah. They were delicious!

Sweet Treat — Chocolate Slice

Chocolate Slice

Here’s the recipe for one of my favorite slices. It’s my father’s favorite too. It’s simple and easy to make and always goes well with a cup of tea or coffee.

250g butter (2.2 sticks/8.8 ounces)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 T golden syrup
2 cups flour
1 cup coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
chocolate icing (frosting) and extra coconut for decoration

Melt butter, sugar, cocoa and golden syrup in a large saucepan. Do not let the mixture boil. Let it cool then add flour, coconut, baking powder and salt.

Press into a greased and baking paper lined tin and bake at 180C (350F) for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool for another ten minutes. Ice (frost) with chocolate icing. Sprinkle with extra coconut. Cut into squares and store in an airtight tin.

Shelley’s notes:
1. This recipe comes from Seasons, a year of fabulous food by Annabelle White
2. I use the normal bake setting rather than fan bake. If you use fan bake reduce the cooking time.
3. I like to add chopped cranberries or walnut pieces to the mix for a variation. (You’ve probably noticed by now that I like cranberries and add dried cranberries to everything!)

Do you have any favorite slices you like to eat/bake?

Recipe: Easter Biscuits

I used to make these biscuits (that would be cookies to those of you in the US) when I was a teenager and had a yearning to bake some last weekend. They’re easy to make and children like rolling out the dough ready for baking. I think they’re called Easter Biscuits because of the spices and currants, which also go into Hot Cross Buns.

Easter Biscuits

Here’s the recipe:

225 g (8oz) Flour
125 g (4oz) Butter (softened)
125 g (4oz) Sugar
50 g (2oz) Currants
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Grated rind of 1/2 Lemon
1 Egg

Rub butter into sifted flour and baking powder. Add remainder of ingredients. Mix to a stiff dough with beaten egg. Roll out thin, cut into large rounds with a fluted cutter. Bake 20 minutes at 180 C (350F)

Shelley’s notes:

I chucked the ingredients into my Kitchen whizz in the order specified above. It was super quick and easy.
I didn’t have currants so I used finely chopped dried cranberries.
I don’t have a cutter. I used a small bowl as my cutter.
I also added a little plain lemon icing, piping the squiggles on top of the biscuits.
My oven seems to cook quickly and I only cooked my biscuits for 15 minutes.