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Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Recipe: Zuppa Di Ceci (Chickpea Soup)

This is a new recipe I tried recently. It’s both quick and easy to make and the final result was delicious.

Chickpea Soup

2 cups of chickpeas (cooked)
4 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 zuchinni, diced
3 x cans Italian tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil and add onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, garlic and zuchinni. Fry gently without browning for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft.

Add the cooked chickpeas, tomatoes and tomato paste plus the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until soup is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top of soup. Serves 4 – 6 people

Note: I halved the quantities of most of the vegetables and used one can of chickpeas and one can of tomatoes. I also grated a little parmesan cheese on top.

Serve with Beer Bread

Source: Cuisine Magazine, New Zealand

Recipe: Ratatouille

With all the great summer produce around, I love making this vegetable stew. It’s great for vegetarians –serve it with rice or couscous — and meat lovers enjoy this dish too. This recipe takes a little time but the final result is very tasty.



1 large eggplant cut into chunky pieces
3 medium courgettes, thickly sliced (that’s zuchinni in the US)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 red capsicums
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 red onions, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
4 large ripe outdoor tomatoes, chopped (or 400g can chopped tomatoes)
1 tablespoon oregano
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

METHOD 1:Brush eggplant and courgettes with oil and grill or barbecue until tender. Cook capsicum on barbecue or grill until skin blisters and blackens. Allow to cool slightly and then rub off skin, remove seeds and cut into strips. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and gently cook garlic and onion until tender. Add the eggplant, peppers and zucchini to the pan along with the remaining olive oil, red wine, tomatoesm oregano and olives. Season with sea salt and cover and cook until vegetables are tender.
Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and freshly ground black pepper.

METHOD 2: The above is the actual recipe from the site. I use a slightly different method. I chop the eggplant, courgettes, capsicum, and onion into bite sized pieces and place on an oven tray. I add cloves of garlic and toss all the vegetables in oil, black pepper and sea salt. I cook for about half an hour in a medium oven. Then I toss the lot in a pot with a can of tomatoes, red wine and oregano and cook for around ten minutes until the tomatoes have reduced and the vegetables are tender. Serve with rice or couscous and garnish with torn basil leaves.

I like the second method because it’s easier and everything is cooked together, but it’s a lot tastier than when I used to cook everything in a pot.

Recipe: Pinata Birthday Cake

I saw this recipe for a Pinata Birthday cake on the Australian version of Better Homes and Gardens. It’s for a children’s birthday cake, but it was also perfect for my sweet-tooth father. I was a bit short of time and didn’t make the cake. I purchased a sponge cake and filled it with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Before I did this, I cut a hole in the middle of the sponges to create a ring cake.

If I were making the cake from scratch I’d use a ring tin and make a chocolate, banana or carrot cake.

For a child’s birthday cake, purchase some of their favorite candy and fill the hole in the middle of your cake with these. You could ice the cake first or not–depending upon your child’s likes or dislikes.


My father likes dried fruit so I filled the cake centre with dried slices of apple, papaya, crystalized ginger, dried strawberries and banana.

For the next step you need a bowl that will fit over comfortably over the cake. Line the bowl with tin foil. Melt some chocolate–I used both dark and milk chocolate. The quantity you require will depend on the size of your bowl. Brush the chocolate over the inside of the bowl. Once complete, place in fridge to harden for five minutes. Add a second layer of chocolate to the inside of the bowl and chill again. Once the chocolate is set, remove the chocolate shell from the bowl and place over the top of the cake. Peel off the tin foil to reveal the chocolate shell. Decorate the top with icing writing or candy. I used fruit jubes.


To serve: arm the birthday person with a wooden spoon and get them to bash/hit the chocolate shell to reveal the treasure cake beneath.


My father didn’t really understand what to do, but you can see the small hole he’s made in the chocolate cover.


Recipe: Easy Beer Bread

Easy Beer Bread

Here’s a very easy recipe for bread. It’s the sort of recipe you can whip up very quickly when you’re short of bread or you need some bread to go with a pot of soup. The recipe is from Jo Seagar’s Easy-Peasy summer entertaining recipe book.

Beer Bread

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I use about half of this)
1 can beer (400ml or .845 pints) – If your can is smaller, make up the amount with water. Don’t use low-alcohol beer
1 handful of grated cheese (about 1/3 of a cup)

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and beer in a large bowl and combine well. Tip into a well-greased loaf tin or two smaller tins. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the dough. Bake the large loaf for 50 – 60 minutes. (That’s what the recipe suggests. With my oven I find around 30 – 40 minutes works so you might have to experiment with cooking times) Bake the smaller loafs for a shorter time – around 30 minutes depending on your oven. Tip out and cool on a wire rack before slicing. This bread also makes good toast.

Make Your Own Hand & Foot Scrub

During our last holiday one of the special activities on board the cruise ship was making beauty products using items from the pantry.

Below is one of the recipes:

Sweet Brown Sugar Scrub

1 part milk
4 parts brown sugar

Mix the sugar and milk together.

Apply to hands, scrub and rinse. This scrub makes the skin soft yet avoids the use of artificial ingredients. You can also use on elbows, feet, knees and other rough skin. Replace the milk with cream to make an extra silky, rich scrub.

Recipe: Delicious Rice Bubble Goodies

This is a recipe from my childhood. It was a favorite – both to eat and to make.

Rice Bubble Goodies

Rice Bubble Goodies

1 stick butter (4 oz)
1 cup sugar
8 oz chopped dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg beaten
1 cup chopped nuts – I like walnuts
2 cups Rice Krispies

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar, dates, vanilla and the beaten egg. Stir together and cook on the stovetop for a few minutes until you have a thick golden mixture and the dates are soft. Remove from the heat and cool. Once mixture is cool add the nuts and the Rice Krispies. Form into small bite-sized balls and roll in coconut.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.

Vegetarian Nicoise Salad

Earlier today I was browsing the cook books in Borders while waiting for Mr. Munro. This recipe for a vegetarian Nicoise-type salad caught my eye and I decided I’d make my version for dinner.



1 cup cous cous
1 cup boiling water
knob of butter or a little olive oil
sliced green beans
black olives
2 hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Add boiling water and butter or olive oil to the cous cous and combine with a fork until the the cous cous has soaked up the water and is fluffy. Cook the green beans and drain. Chop the tomatoes finely. Chop the parsley. Combine these ingredients with the cous cous and arrange the quartered eggs on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with your favorite vinegarette dressing.

Verdict: Very yummy. I’d definitely make this salad again.

Chocolate Cake

I love chocolate cake and tried this new recipe last week. It was moist and delicious, and I was very pleased with the final result.

Chocolate Cake

1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
¾ cup water
2 cups white sugar
1 ¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup sunflower or soya oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 23 – 25 cm cake tin with baking powder. Dissolve the coffee granules in water, then place all ingredients into a food processor and process until well combined and smooth. Pour mixture into the cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and frost with your favoring icing/frosting.

Shelley’s notes:
The mixture is really runny but don’t panic. All turns out well in the end.
I didn’t have sunflower oil and used olive oil instead.
I mixed my cake by hand rather than using the food processor.
My oven is a fan bake one, which lessens the cooking time. I cooked my cake for 45 minutes.

Source: Taste Magazine/Chelsea Sugar

Sweet Tooth

I have a terrible sweet tooth. I blame my father. He’s always liked anything sweet ranging from dessert to cakes and sweets. It would be much easier if I hadn’t inherited this gene, but I try to control myself as much as possible.

My father is a farmer. He’s worked hard all his life and has never had a weight problem. My sister thinks, and I agree, he should be allowed to indulge his sweet tooth. He can’t hurt his teeth since he has false ones. :grin:

He has a lolly jar that my sister fills periodically. There used to be a running joke. My sister would fill the jar and before she knew it, the lolly jar would be empty again. My father always denied everything and said that Joe ate them. (Joe was my sister’s big foot cat. He was a real character but he died earlier this year) This is how the conversation would go:

“My lolly jar is empty.”

“But I filled it a few days ago,” my sister would say.

“Joe has been in the lolly jar again,” my father would say. “He’s a real fiend. I told him off but he keeps eating the lollies.”

After Joe died, my father forgot for a minute. He tried the lolly jar is empty and Joe ate them.

“Ah-ha!” said my sister. “You can’t blame Joe. He isn’t here.”

My father is still trying to come up with a good excuse.

Those of you with a sweet tooth will probably curse me in a moment. I found this recipe for Coconut Ice in my favorite food magazine – Taste. It’s incredibly easy and uses the microwave rather than a saucepan on the stove top. It would be great for those times when you need to make something for a fete or school fair.

Coconut Ice

1 kg icing sugar or 2.2 pounds(confectioner’s sugar in US)
1/2 cup milk
200 g butter or 1.76 sticks of butter
4 cups long coconut threads
2 – 3 drops red food coloring

Mix the icing sugar, milk and butter in a large microwaveable bowl and microwave for 2 minutes or until the butter has melted. Stir in the coconut.

Spread half the mixture into a baking paper-lined slice tin. Smooth until flat. Add a couple of drops of red food coloring to the remaining half and mix well. Spread on top of the white layer and carefully smooth until flat. Refrigerate the coconut ice until firm then cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Notes: If I’m making it for myself I make half the recipe. I couldn’t purchase the long coconut threads and use normal dessicated coconut. I’ve given the conversions NZ to US.

This is really yummy stuff. :grin:

Do you have a sweet tooth? What is your biggest sugary indulgence?

Really Easy Quiche

This recipe is taken from one of Jo Seagar’s cookbooks called Jo Seagar Cooks and as the title states, the quiche is very easy to make. It’s the perfect thing for a summer picnic, unexpected guests or a quick weekend dinner.


4 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 small onion peeled and chopped
6 rashers of rindless bacon chopped
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of your choice of vegetables (chopped mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peas, beans, grated pumpkin etc) – your imagination is the limit when it comes to vegetables.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Spray a medium – to large size lasagne dish with no stick baking spray. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until set and golden brown. If your oven is a fan one reduce the cooking time accordingly. It takes around 30 -35 minutes in a fan oven. Serves 6 people.

Note – if you prefer a vegetarian option just leave out the bacon. That’s what I do.

What is your favorite food to take on a picnic?