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Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Easy Chocolate Mousse: Little Pots of Yummy Goodness


My husband made these little chocolate mousses last weekend. They were quick and easy to make and delicious! Here’s the recipe:

75 g dark chocolate, chopped and melted. (Use ordinary chocolate rather than chocolate with high cocoa content) (2.5 oz)
2 eggs, separated
25 g butter, melted (1/5 of a stick of butter)
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 Tablespoon Tia Maria (optional) We used Kahlua since that’s all we had in the pantry.

Mix the melted chocolate with the egg yolks and butter. Whisk the egg whites and then whisk in the sugar until the mixture is shiny and stiff. Fold the two mixtures together and add the Tia Maria. Divide into four glasses and chill until set. We used espresso cups and garnished the mousse with toasted slivers of almonds. They took 15 minutes to prepare.

Source: Taste Magazine – June 2010

Can’t Catch Me…I’m A Gingerbread Man!

I’ve always wanted to make gingerbread men and finally got around to it this weekend. They were surprisingly easy to make and, once the dough is made, children of all ages would have fun rolling out the dough and cutting out the gingerbread men. The perfect activity for a spring break.

Gingerbread Men

3 tablespoons golden syrup
75g caster sugar (about 3 oz)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
75g butter (about 3/4 of a stick)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
225g plain flour (8 oz)

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) Gently melt syrups, sugar, water an spices in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring well. Remove from heat, add butter and baking soda. Add enough sifted flour to make a firm dough. Sit aside to cool. Roll out dough and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Decorate with currants or chocolate bits as desired and bake for about 12 minutes or until golden and crisp


Shelley’s notes: The recipe made nine gingerbread men, although if I hadn’t kept nibbling at the dough, it would have probably made ten. I cooked mine for ten minutes, but if I made them again I think I’d cook them for eight minutes because my oven cooks fast. The final result was yummy, but I need more practice with my piping. Use raisins, currants, M & Ms or plain icing for decoration. You could even use something like dried cranberries. Your imagination is the only limit!

Have you made gingerbread men before?

Yummy Date & Orange Scones

Our local reality show, Nestle Hottest Home Baker has captured my attention, and I sit glued to the set each week to watch the on screen action. My favorite baker has been voted off the show, so I’ve had to shift my allegiance. I chose one of the contestant’s recipes to make for my March test recipe. They turned out really well and were delicious.


Scone Ingredients

1 cup dates chopped
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 oranges
1 Cinnamon Stick
A little sugar

Place these ingredients into a pot, melt and cook until it goes thick and caramelises. Note – my oranges didn’t have much juice, so I used some orange juice we had in the fridge. I added a little at a time until the dates sucked it up and I had a lovely thick mixture. Cool mixture.

4 cups self-raising flour
300ml cream (half a pint)
¼ cup sugar
1 can lemonade (Sprite)
½ tsp salt
Cinnamon sugar (make your own by mixing a few teaspoons of sugar with a little cinnamon)

Place flour and salt in a bowl. Add the date mixture and mix. Pour in cream and lemonade. Mix all ingredients into a smooth dough in a bowl. Tip out onto floured bench and cut out or shape. I just used a sharp knife and cut rough squares. Place scones just touching each other on tray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 220 degrees Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15-20 mins until starting to colour pale golden. Place on a tea towel on a wire rack.

Shelley’s notes: I used a fan bake oven, which cooks quicker. My scones were ready after ten minutes of cooking. My mix was quite damp and sticky. I sprinkled just enough flour on it for me to pat it into shape and cut into smaller squares.

The recipe is a hybrid of Chelsea Sugar & Good Taste Australia & Courtney from Nestle Hottest Home Baker.

Date & Orange Scones

This is the final product. I ate them warm with raspberry jam or a little butter. You could use jam and whipped cream as a topping or your favorite jam or jelly. I froze the leftovers, and they tasted just as good heated a little in the microwave after I’d thawed them out. My March recipe was a big success.

Easy Ice Cream.

One of author Jenyfer Matthews’ resolutions for 2010 is to try a new recipe each month. I thought it was a great idea, so I’m doing the same thing. This is my recipe for January—easy and healthy ice cream.

Easy Ice Cream


Ingredients: One banana per person (not over ripe), berries (blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, red currants etc), yoghurt or a little milk.


Peel and chop the bananas into pieces, place in a container with a lid or a ziplock bag and place in the freezer. I leave them overnight but around three hours in the freezer should do the trick.


Take bananas out of the freezer and place in a food processor. Add berries. I’ve used frozen blueberries and with this batch I used frozen mixed berries. You can also use fresh berries.


Blitz the bananas and berries in the food processor. It will be noisy for a little while. At this stage I use one to two tablespoons of plain yoghurt to help the ingredients bind together. I think you could actually use milk or soy milk at this stage, but I haven’t experimented with this.


The final product will be like thick soft freeze ice cream. Serve and eat straight away. You can actually freeze it, but you need to give it another blitz through the food processor so it isn’t hard and icy to eat. It really is better to eat the ice cream straightaway. :grin:

Do you like to experiment with new recipes or do you stick with the tried and true family favorites?

Cabin Fever!

I have a special guest today–Alisha Rai who is celebrating the release of her new book Cabin Fever. Like many writers Alisha is an avid reader and this started her journey to published author. Today she’s talking about weather, seasons and yummy treats. I definitely want to try this recipe!


I recently moved to the Midwest from Florida, where one of my chief complaints was the utter lack of seasons. Yeah, sunshine is awesome, but after a few years of nonstop heat and humidity (and sometimes hurricanes, but for the sake of my remaining property value, I’m not going to bring that up again), I found myself starting to long for some cool weather.

Let’s not get crazy. As fond as I am of the time I lived in Buffalo, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to experience that kind of a winter again. But right now, the weather’s going through that lovely shift from summer to fall. There are too many wonderful things that make this time perfect for me: the cool mornings, the colors of the changing leaves, the slight smell of smoke in the air…and the flavors.

Heck, yes. The flavors of fall. It’s a full section in my recipe box. September’s here, people! It’s socially acceptable to eat pumpkin pie! Not to mention a whole bunch of other tasty things which just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, even as the weather turns chillier.

So what’s cozier than a good cup of hot cocoa? To keep my hero and heroine warm—not that they really needed help—I featured the following drink in my new release, Cabin Fever.

By the way, the name of the drink is, you guessed it: Cabin Fever. Because I’m just that big of a nerd. I can’t help it, I must sprinkle corny, obscure inside jokes into my stories. Forgive me.

One shot of Baileys
One shot of crème de menthe
Whipped cream
Cup of hot chocolate (or to taste)

Mix the Bailey’s and crème de menthe, pour in the hot chocolate and stir. Garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and a cherry. Enjoy and stay warm!

Alisha Rai
Cabin Fever Now Available!

Do you have any questions for Alisha? Do you like to have different seasons? Do you like the change of seasons? Do you like a kick to your hot chocolate?

Black Forest Muffins

Whenever I have a cup of coffee in a cafe, I always check out the muffins. Any flavor will do as long as they’re fresh. If I manage to time it when they’re still warm from the oven so much the better. I think muffins are good because they’re reasonably healthy and don’t have as much fat as cream cakes. That’s my reasoning anyway. I also enjoy baking muffins because they’re quick and easy.

When I want to bake a batch I always turn to Alison Holst’s Marvellous Muffin cookbook, which contains recipes for both savory and sweet muffins. The following recipe is an adaptation of her Double Chocolate Muffin recipe. I call them Black Forest Muffins.


1 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
¼ – ½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup dried cherries

Place dried cherries in a bowl and add a little boiling water to cover – a few tablespoons. We want to reconstitute the cherries a little. Place other dry ingredients plus chocolate chips in a large bowl. Add the cherries plus the liquid.

Muffins: Dry Ingredients

100 grams of butter (about 8/10 of a stick)
1 egg
1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter. Beat the egg and combine with the milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Combine with the dry ingredients, folding together until mixed. Do not overmix.

Muffins: Wet Ingredients

Spoon into 12 well-greased medium-size muffin pans or use paper muffin cups. Bake in a hot oven at 200C (400F) for 10 – 12 minutes until centers spring back when pressed lightly.

Muffins: Final Product

Enjoy with good company and a cup of tea or coffee.

Ladies, A Plate

Growing up in the New Zealand countryside you wouldn’t think we’d socialize much, but as a child I remember going to fetes, socials and parties on a regular basis. The invitations always came along with the instructions for the ladies to bring a plate. I remember thinking this was a silly thing to ask for. I mean, wouldn’t they be better asking for food?

My mother explained to me that “ladies, a plate” was an expression and our hosts expected us to take a plate with food sitting on it, not an empty plate. She said I shouldn’t worry. There would definitely be food where we were going. That was a big relief because I like food, and unfortunately, I haven’t grown out of my liking for sweet treats!

I thought about this expression recently because there’s a new cookbook out in our local bookstores called Ladies, A Plate. It’s by Alexa Johnston and contains recipes for cakes and biscuits I remember eating in my childhood–-recipes such as Kiwi Crisps, Anzac biscuits, Afghans, Pikelets, Neenish Tarts, Butterfly Cakes, Custard Squares and Cinnamon Oysters.

Many of the recipes were developed in New Zealand and a few borrowed from Australia. In fact there’s a good-natured rivalry between the two countries when it comes to deciding which of the two countries invented some recipes.

These days baking seems to be a dying art. My mother taught my brother, sister and I how to cook and at the weekends, we’d all choose something to bake, filling the cake tins for the following week.

Do you have the expression ladies, a plate where you live? Do you have childhood memories of baking or special sweet treats? What were/are your favorites?

Pumpkins and Kitchen Gadgets

I promised Gabriele a pumpkin soup recipe. There are lots of variations of pumpkin soup. I make a vegetarian version and leave out the bacon. I replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

knob of butter and a little olice oil
1 onion chopped
3 – 4 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mild curry paste (I use curry powder)
3 – 4 rashers of bacon, rind removed and chopped
1/2 cup buttercup pumpkin pieces, peeled and seeded
5 cups chicken stock or 4 cups stock and 1 of water
light seasoning of salt and fresh ground black pepper
coconut cream to garnish (I use plain greek yoghurt)
fresh herbs such as coriander or thyme for garnish

Place the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened with a gentle heat. Add curry paste and when fragrant (allow about 30 seconds) add the chopped bacon and pumpkin pieces.

Constantly turn the pumpkin to avoid catching. Add stock and cook until the pumpkin softens. Once cooked process with a kitchen whizz until smooth. Season and garnish with coconut cream and fresh herbs.

Note – this soup always tastes better the next day so make it in advance if possible.

And in totally random news – I saw an ad for some new pots. The knobs come off the pot lids. The handles also come off and this allows for easy stacking in cupboards and also the dishwasher. They also have these nifty plastic lids so you can stick them in the fridge. They also come in frypans. I saw some in our local kitchen soup. Man, I’m in love. I’m lusting after these pots, and unfortunately, they’re expensive. I’m not big on kitchen gadgets, preferring to do most things by hand, but I really want these pots!

Do you like kitchen gadgets? Kitchenware shops?

Mug Cake

You might have seen this recipe on the loops recently.

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour(that’s plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to share!)

I decided to try the cake and hubby and I both enjoyed it for our dessert, served with yoghurt.
It’s quite a dense cake because there’s no baking powder, but it definitely rises. A little too well. If you make it, put a plate under your mug when it’s cooking in the microwave to save on cleanup. Also make sure you clean your plate and mugs straightaway because the mixture adheres rather well! I mixed the egg, oil and milk in a separate mug and added to the flour mix. Hubby and I also decided that one mug cake was enough for two.

I decided I’d try a variation:

Leave out the cocoa and chocolate chips. Grate in the rhind of half a lemon and add a handful of berries. I added raspberries because I like them but blueberries would work. Mix in the same way with all the other ingredients. Once your mug cake is cooked – squeeze half a lemon into a cup and mix in two teaspoons of sugar. Stir and spoon over your cake before eating. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. This was yummy!!

A third variation would be replacing the chocolate and chocolate chips with instant coffee and a few chopped walnuts.


Crunchy Lemon Muffins

After a solid week of edits, I’ve decided to have a lazy weekend. I’ve just made a batch of one of my favorite muffins and thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s taken from New Zealander Alison Holst’s Marvellous Muffins recipe book, and it’s one I make often.

2 cups self-raising flour (I didn’t have any so I used 2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
3/4 cup of sugar

75 grams butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
grated rind of 1 large or 2 small lemons

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Measure the flour and sugar into a bowl and toss to mix. Melt the butter, add the milk, egg and lemon rind and beat well with a fork to combine. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and combine only until the dry ingredients have been lightly dampened but not overly mixed. Divide the mixture evenly between 12 medium-sized muffin pans. (I used paper muffin cases since I hate both greasing the tin and cleaning it afterward!)

Bake at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes. (I find the time depends on the oven. I cooked mine for 10 minutes and found they needed a couple minutes more)

Stir together the lemon juice and sugar without dissolving the sugar and drizzle this over the hot muffins as soon as they come out of the oven. Leave to stand in the pan for only a few minutes after this since the syrup hardens and sticks to the pan when it cools.

Notes: As always I improvise. I use mainly white flour but add a little wholemeal as well. These are also good served with a little fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt. Yum!

I really like muffins. Blueberry are my favorite. I like these lemons ones and also another recipe I make with raspberry jam in the middle and a sugary cinnamon topping. I’ll save that recipe for another time. Strangely, chocolate comes down the list for me, that’s unless it has lots of chocolate chips inside!

Do you like muffins and if so, what is your favorite kind?