Monday, April 30, 2012

Sour Cream, Chives and Onion Dip

You're probably as astonished as I am. I don't know if it was Lenten fasting that did it to me, or the influx of sweet, sticky, melty goodness that engulfed me over Easter, but I've been a little more interested in savory things of late. Imagine my amazement to find something delicious enough to blog about that wasn't sweet and was made by my own hands. I never thought I had it in me.
Like lots of amazing things, this delicious dip was created by chance. My mind does not think in savory ways (my thoughts are not too unsavory, I hope), so anything invented by myself that isn't sweet, and tastes good, is surely a fluke.
It's very simple really, and utterly, ridiculously addictive. I stumbled upon it while creating my last Secret Recipe Club post, and, on licking that spoon, discovered that I had indeed invented another recipe at the same time. I almost had to make another batch, as I instantly whipped out the rice crackers and my son and I sat on the floor and dug in with glee. Between bites he sang out "Mumm mmum mmmum!" I take that as pretty high praise. "Yum" has become "Mum", oh that's how I like it!


4-5 stalks fresh chives, chopped (2 tbsp)
1 cup thick sour cream
2 tsp french onion soup powder
1 tsp crushed garlic

Place the sour cream in a small bowl, and stir the garlic through. Finely chop the chives and add to the sour cream. Sprinkle the onion powder over the chives and stir to combine.
Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Enjoy with crackers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rich Banana Ice Cream

I know I've said it before, but one of the perks of living in a sub tropical climate is the abundance of delicious fruit. Bananas, mango, papaya, and many more simply thrive up here in Queensland, so there's almost always one of the three in the house. The smell of mangoes is especially divine, and I add that delightful fruit to my next batch of ice cream. If you haven't noticed, we're having a bit of an ice cream marathon in this house. Don't worry, the baked goods will be back in full force soon, with the winter weather on the way. Not that it will stop me from indulging in a little ice cream here and there, but I must say I am looking forward to the house being cool enough to be able to have the oven on without discomfort! Bring on the fresh bread, cakes and pies! I am sure they will take my addiction off ice cream momentarily.
However, I think we've hit upon another favourite ice cream recipe in this house. My husband and I think it's on a par with the last batch of  Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream we made, which I never thought any other ice cream would compare to in richness, texture and flavour.
I was a little skeptical to be honest, and so you can imagine my surprise when I tasted this rich, creamy smooth banana ice is decadent! Who ever thought banana could be so good? I must apologise about the pictures though. The severe melting is due to being called away while photographing, and ending up with it all looking a little softer than it should. Melted or not, it's delicious!

RICH BANANA ICE CREAM (adapted from Mistral Igloo Ice Cream maker manual)

3 medium bananas, ripe and mashed
1 egg white
1/2 cup caster sugar
250ml cream
pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Beat the egg white until light and fluffy. Add a little of the sugar at the end of the mixing process. In a medium bowl, mash bananas. Add the remaining sugar, cream, salt and lemon juice and mix to combine. Gently fold in the egg white mixture. Refrigerate overnight, before placing in the canister to churn and freeze.

Makes about 800ml, depending on banana size

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bacon Rolled Sour Cream and Chive Chicken Bites

I'm pretty excited to add yet another savory to the blog this month. Is that a round of applause? I know, I know,  I am basically a "sweets maker", and I often don't even try my hand at it because my husband rocks in the kitchen with savories. But this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment popped up and directed me to New York City Eats and I fell in love. I feel I should apologise to Lacy from New York City Eats, because I used the idea of her recipe but just sort of winged it when I got into the kitchen. You know, when you forget to buy the specific ingredients, and have to substitute when you get to it? Well, I guess that's the true beauty of cooking, adapting a recipe due to pantry limitations, and arriving at something similar but with a twist. I have been wanting to try out a few different recipes that would serve as hors d'oeuvres for a party my husband and I will be holding in the coming months. So I made these babies in a few different sizes--some man-sized ones for my husband to taste test, and some smaller ones that would be a good size for party finger-food. Man, these morsels are delicious! And very easy to whip up. Lacy from New York City Eats used butterflied chicken tenderloins for this recipe, but I only had chicken breast. The local butcher sells the biggest chicken breasts around, two of them weigh over a kg! So as you can imagine they are rather fat, chunky things, so I had fun belting it flat with a rolling way to get out some frustration without hurting anyone! I mean, who doesn't have some sort of frustration in the kitchen?
 Speaking of frustration in the kitchen, Lacy I hold you responsible for an amusing incident that happened today! While photographing these delicious morsels, my daughter Vienna was close by on the floor. Yes, I have a lousy photographing system by the back door, its the only place in the house that gets good natural light. Well, here I was busily clicking away and I realised there was a funny panting sound coming from my baby. Before I knew it, there she was, hands reached out to those bacon wrapped, chive and sour creamed, balls of chicken-y goodness. She had crawled her way over! Mind you, there was a trail of drool along the way (saves me getting out the mop I suppose!) Did I mention she's not even 5 months? Now if that's not a good reference for these Chicken Chive and bacon rolls, I don't know what is!


1 large chicken breast (about 500g)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp chopped chives
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp. dried french onion soup powder
4 rashers of bacon (or a little more depending upon the desired size of each piece of chicken)

Cut the chicken breast in half horizontally to achieve two pieces of thinned chicken breast.  Lay each piece on a board and cover generously with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, beat the chicken until thinned further, to a desired thickness. Cut into strips in any desired size.
Combine the sour cream, chives, garlic and onion powder together in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. Lather one side of each chicken strip with this sour cream mixture. Roll each from one end to the other to form a roll shape. Cut a piece of bacon the size to fit around each piece of chicken.
Lay on a lined tray and cook in the oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. To crisp up the chicken, place under the drill on high for a few minutes. Serve hot for optimum enjoyment!

NOTES: you can use cream cheese instead of sour cream and onion powder instead of french onion soup powder, if preferred.

Vienna Rose crawled to get a better look at the delicious morsels that were being photographed. She was only 4.5 months at the time! That's determination.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream

I know ice cream is meant to be creamy, hence the name, but sometimes it's so rich and super creamy you just have to add the extra adjective. My new ice cream maker has been working over time, and we recently hit upon an instant favourite. Don't worry, we're not living off ice cream. I have quite a small ice cream maker that only makes about 800ml maximum at a time, so we're able to try out lots of different flavours without the need to consume massive amounts. Sadly I didn't get the best pictures of the ice cream (someone remind me to buy an ice cream scoop!) But you can take my word for it, once it softened a little, it was so smooth and creamy and the texture was silky.
After I had made it, I heard the Home Ice Cream delivery van going past and I heard myself giving a wickedly insane chuckle. I never have to buy from them again (their ice cream is delicious though.) Do yourself a favour and go and buy an ice cream maker instead! So much fun to be had.

CREAMY CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM (Adapted from the Minstral Igloo Ice Cream Maker manual) 

120g chocolate chips
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
500ml cream

Add cream, chocolate and sugar in a small saucepan, and place over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Add the egg yolks and bring gently to the boil, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight. Pour into ice cream maker canister and allow to churn and freeze.

Makes approximately 500ml

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Easy Peanut Butter Biscuits

Okay this post comes with a little warning. I'm about to get a bit ooey gooey about my husband.
Besides being able to cook, he's a fabulous cook. That's a quality I always wanted when I thought of a husband, before I was married to this gem. I'm a firm believer of men cooking, especially when there's a wife and family to look after. It's wonderful to not "have" to cook, and my husband is more than happy to get in there--in fact, he loves it!
So all my boys as well as the girls will be able to cook, at least the basics. How to fry and boil an egg, cook pasta, bake a cake, cook a roast, you name it, they will be capable when they move out of home. I'm going to make great catches out of my kids--they can thank me when they're happily married. (Besides, who is going to make my birthday cake and Mother's Day cake every year?)
Anyway, my son Ben is almost two years old now, and has already shown an interest in cooking. Mind you, he cooks up army men stew, a cake made of dinosaurs and toy cars. He stirs it with a spoon from the kitchen and then goes around asking the other members of the house to "taste".
He often asks to "cook".
So this morning Ben and I took a large glass bowl and put it on the kitchen floor, and got cooking. It was the perfect recipe to make with him because he has such a short attention span, and it was quick and easy. You should have seen the pride on his face when he saw the tray come out of the oven with biscuits on it! This is what we made.


1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1  tsp honey (optional, but recommended if your dough it too dry)

Set the oven at 180C. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. Place spoonfuls on a greased and lined baking try, and gently press with a fork. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until beginning to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the tray for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to finish cooling.

Makes 12-16, depending how much dough the kids eat!

NOTES: this recipe can turn out a little differently depending on the peanut better brand and type used. If you find your mixture is dry, add a spoonful of honey and stir through to give a little life and some extra flavour.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bacon and Sage whole Stuffed Potatoes

Sitting down after a long Easter Sunday, I realized I had probably eaten a little too much. It brought back the memory of the days when food was my archfoe, and would have lived off dry crackers if my parents hadn't stepped in. In fact, I was so shocking with food at the time that my mother had to wake me up in the night to give me a steady dose of Sustagen ( nutritional supplement) to try and bring me back to my former self. I guess I was skeletal.
It's only since I got married that I've started to thoroughly enjoy food and eat properly. I have my darling husband to thank for that. He makes me want to actually eat, and now, here I am, food rocks my every day. So there's hope for those who don't fancy food as being a great and enjoyable part of being alive.
It made me think though, if I had been allowed to live off sweets, would I have? Probably not, I cant remember being addicted or interested in any food at all. But sweets is the way my mind thinks now, not so much the savories. My brother in law thought this blog could improve with some here it is, for you David. With extra cheese, just for you!

BACON AND SAGE WHOLE STUFFED POTATOES (adapted from Coles Autumn Magazine March 2012)

12 small potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to sprinkle

2 rashers bacon, diced finely
1/2 cup cheese, grated
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground sage
sour cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C. Wash the potatoes and remove any residue. We recommend using potatoes that are brushed and washed. Place one potato on the chopping board and place an item, such as a chopstick or container lid, on either side. This ensures you do not cut through to the base of the potato in the next step.
Slice the potato thinly down to the chopstick level, and repeat until the whole top of the potato is a series of slices. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Place on a baking sheet with the sliced side up, then rub with oil.. Sprinkle the tops with a little salt to flavour. Bake for 1 hour or until tender .
Meanwhile, pan fry diced bacon for one or two minutes. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese and sage.
Remove the potatoes from the oven. Randomly wedge pieces of bacon into the cuts of each potato and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to oven until cheese has melted. Serve immediately with sour cream dolloped on the top.

NOTES: These were yummy as they were, but I personally found the skin a little hard to chew through. You could peel the tops before slicing, if preferred. This may increase the enjoyability of the stuffed potatoes. Also ensure they are served hot!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Calling the Universe to give me Homemade Icecream

My hubby and I often have a good laugh when something we have long wanted unexpectedly appears out of the blue. I know a lot of people believe in calling to the universe for their wants and expecting it to magically appear aka "The Secret". Yes, I read the book with an open mind, but I have a feeling there was something that went unmentioned in the book, hence we have a laugh in reference to it now and then in this house.
You can't simply want something, ask the universe and expect the universe to simply hand it to you. You have to do something about it too. You can want a million dollars with all your might, but if you don't do anything about it, how is that magically going to just appear in your bank account? (even if you win the lotto, you have to buy the ticket first!)
Anyway, I'm all for wanting something so much that your mind is set on getting it, regardless of the cost. Your every action is made with the view of achieving your goal, and yes, you may just get there if you keep at it!
Well, anyway, I've been wanting an ice cream maker for a long time. We found a beautiful model, and bought it as a gift for my hubby's cousin. We bought another for my mother in law.

The jealousy was rising. 

Then hubby told me he was going to buy one for my birthday, and I started to get excited in anticipation. I started collecting recipes, drooling over pictures of home made ice cream, and waiting for May with such a longing.
The universe heard my plea *cackle*
My husband brought one home yesterday. A darling relative had overhead me discussing the gift we bought for hubby's cousin, and had one at home she never used! So she passed it on to me, and here you have it, the result I have been longing for for months. Home made ice cream, and I am never buying it from the store again. Do I care that it's almost winter in Australia?

And yes it's in an ash tray (never used of course) It just looked so right at the time...hehe...


1/3 cup caster sugar
150ml water
3 egg yolks
600ml thickened cream
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
400g lemon curd (see recipe below)
Lemoncello liqueur to drizzle

Over a low heat, combine the sugar with 150ml of water in a small saucepan. Once dissolved, simmer on a medium heat for 3 minutes.
In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks for a minute until frothy. With the beater still running, add the sugar syrup and combine thoroughly, until cool.
In a separate bowl, place the cream and vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form. Gently fold in yolk mixture. Gently fold in curd.
Follow the manufacturers instructions on your ice cream machine to turn and freeze the ice cream. It is recommended that the ice cream mixture is left aside overnight for optimum results, before processing with your ice cream machine.
Thaw a little before serving, with a splash of lemoncello for delicious adult decadence.

NOTES: My ice cream machine instructions note that the ice cream in the manual is best eaten within a week. I assume this is recommended for most home made ice creams. This ice cream may not be suitable for pregnant women, as it contains raw egg. You can buy lemon curd from the store, however, I highly recommend making your own with freshly squeezed lemons, as this gives the best flavour. The recipe below is my favourite lemon curd recipe. It makes more than necessary for this recipe however, so be prepared to enjoy the leftovers on your toast in the morning! (i like to smear it on a warm croissant...a wonderful way to enjoy lemon curd! For other ideas on how to use your left over lemon curd and egg whites, click here)

Makes 1 litre


1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups water
3 egg yolks
60g butter

Combine the sugar and cornflour in a medium saucepan. Gradually add the lemon juice and water while stirring continuously until mixture is smooth. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add the egg yolks and butter. Continue stirring until the butter has melted and mixture is well combined. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

NOTES: use fresh lemon juice for optimum flavour. If you use store bought lemon juice, increase the quantity, otherwise your curd may taste "eggy"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Giant Rustic Hot Cross Bun (re-post)

I doubt that our neighbours cook very much. "What are you burning now?" has resounded angrily from one particular house more than once. I often hear them talking of buying pizza or KFC for dinner, and the kids protesting because they're sick of it. No matter--each to their own. But how nice it is to come home to a delicious aroma issuing down from the kitchen through the garden! I love walking down the street and on occasion coming across some delightful baker's house issuing strong smells of hot vanilla muffins or a great BBQ on a summer afternoon. Unfortunately its not something you come across all that often. Imagine how great the villages a hundred years or so would have smelled! Fresh bread baking every morning from every house! Ahhhhhh bliss.
I don't think much beats the scent of freshly baked bread. My brother used to bake bread and it was simply to die for when it came out of the oven, with a slathering of butter--it was all too good. I have the best memories of his bread, and I shall soon bribe him for the recipe and perhaps a cooking class on how to get it so incredibly delicious and irresistible.
In the mean time, I try a few things when I have the time to try and replicate that fresh bread smell. Here's a great one for Easter morning...its great toasted with butter too!


200lm milk
1 tsp caster sugar
7g sachet dry yeast
400g SR Flour
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
50g brown sugar
175g mixed dried fruit
50g butter, melted, cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbs plain flour
2 tbs caster sugar, extra

Heat the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until lukewarm. Combine the caster sugar, yeast and 100g flour with the warm milk in a bowl and stir until smooth. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 25 minutes.
Grease a 18cm spring form pan.
In a large bowl, sift together cinnamon, nutmeg, remaining flour and salt. Stir in the brown sugar and dried fruit, then add the yeast mixture, egg and cooled melted butter. Bring the mixture together with your hands, kneading for 2-3 minutes until combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead thoroughly for 5-6 minutes or until you have a smooth dough. Shape the dough into a round and place in the pan. Set it in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for 1 1/2 hours. The dough should ride to just above the rim of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
For the cross decoration, combine the plain flour with 2 tablespoons of cold water and stir into a paste. Pipe a cross onto the uncooked bun just before placing in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through. Cool slightly in pan before turning onto a wire rack to cool. For the glaze, combine the extra caster sugar with2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves. brush onto the cooling bun. Serve warm with butter. Any remaining bun can be toasted the next day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Custard Toffee Cream Desserts

You know those times that you plan to have people over, after a big feast day like Easter, and you're not sure if you should make as much food as usual? You know no one's going to have a very large appetite if they've done the traditional chocolate egg eating. So, to make dessert, or not to?
I hate having too many leftovers, especially when it's just hubby and I who have to polish them off (trust me I don't need that temptation!) 
So I fell in love with this recipe for Custard Toffee Cream Desserts, because you can assemble them on the spot quickly, so as to only cater for as many people as feels like dessert to top off the meal. It's very simple, and very rich--like a disassembled banoffee pie with added vanilla custard. I cheated with this recipe and used store bought toffee sauce (like the goo that you usually pour over ice cream) but here's a fabulous recipe for home made caramel sauce that's to die for. I also made my own vanilla custard because I like it really thick and creamy, but for ease, I have just listed it in the ingredients as store bought.


1 small banana, sliced (reserve one slice for garnish)
1/4 cup whipped cream
1/4 cup thick custard
1 crushed biscuit (we used shortbread fingers)
drizzling of toffee or caramel sauce

Crush biscuit and place in the bottom of the glass. Layer banana, then custard, toffee, cream, banana, custard and then toffee again. Pipe a swirl of cream on the top and garnish with a slice of banana. Serve immediately.

Serves 1