Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken Vegetable Potato Bake

Last week, the day I did the groceries, I wasn't really feeling like cooking anything spectacular so I brought home a BBQ chicken, thinking we would have chicken and salad for dinner.  My mind started ticking over and I realised we did that the week before and it felt a little boring.  So I thought I would do a potato bake, then it turned into a chicken and vegetable potato bake, I kind of just made this up as I went along.  It was enjoyed by all.

Chicken Vegetable Potato Bake

                                1 BBQ chicken
                                6 small potatoes
                                1/2 sweet potato
                                2 spring onions
                                1 carrot
                                1 zucchini
                                1 packet French Onion Soup mix
                                250ml sour light cream
                                olive oil
                                your choice of grated cheese for topping I used Colby
                                and Mozzerella

Turn on oven to 200°C/390°F.   Pre-boil chunkily sliced potatoes until just cooked, then drain.  I don't peel my potatoes, however I did peel the sweet potato.  Slice carrots and zucchini and lay them on the bottom of a baking dish. 

The next layer is the chicken pulled off the bone and spread across the zucchini and carrots.  Slice the spring onions and sprinkle over top of chicken.

Then layer the pre-boiled potatoes over the chicken and spring onions.

Mix the packet of French Onion soup mix and the sour light cream together, add a dash of milk to make it a little more runny consistency and make it spread a bit further, pour over top of potatoes.

Finally sprinkle cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 30mins until golden brown.

Serve with a salad.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Strawberry Jam

When we visit my mum in Queensland in the September/October school holidays we always buy lots of strawberries from the farm down the road.  They are the best, juiciest and most full strawberries I have ever tasted.  They sell large ones, that are perfect as well as the not so perfect and 'jam' strawberries, little ones they can't sell at the market.  These little ones still taste amazing and are very cheap.  I think I brought back 6 kgs of strawberries.  I cut up and froze half to use in smoothies and cooking and the other half were cut up for jam.

Strawberry Jam 

                              3kg strawberries, hulled, halved
                              3kg white sugar 
                              Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Cut strawberries into whatever size you like.  I cut mine into quarters as I don't really like lumpy strawberries in my jam.  You can cut half into quarters and the rest into halves or even whole if you like fruity lumps in your jam.

Place strawberries in a saucepan and stir through sugar. Leave for 1-2 hours while sugar softens the fruit.

It really becomes juicy

Add lemon juice (fresh from my mums tree) then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fruit is soft.

Cook mixture until fruit is mostly dissolved and jam coats the back of a spoon. Fill the jars with jam, somewhere I read that you seal the lid and turn the jar upside down and allow to cool and the lids will automatically seal. It seemed to work for me, when the jam was cooled I opened a jar and the lid popped just like it should do.  I also stored my jam in the fridge as it didn't set totally but had a good thickness to it, and I just want to make sure it won't go off.

I think I filled about 7 or 8 jam jars that I had tucked away for this occasion.

It is just so delicious on a piece of home made bread, there is nothing quite like your own home made jam.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marbled Chocolate Cookies

It's been a while since my last recipe was posted, in fact I have been reminded that it's been 5 months. Thanks to the promptings of Argentum Vulgaris from Things that Fizz and Stuff.  I finally have a recipe to share.  He's done a blog review of "What's for Dinner Mum?" and "EarthWalkerfamily" too over at Bloggers Cafe!  So with the help of my son Sam another recipe is finally going up.  Sam has made these cookies many times, I think they have become his signature dish.  They are a really yummy chocolatey treat especially warm from the oven.  Enjoy!!

Marbled Chocolate Cookies

                             2 cups plain flour
                             1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                             1/4 teaspoon salt
                             1/2 cup brown sugar
                             1/2 cup white sugar
                             1/2 cup softened butter
                             1/2 cup sour cream
                             1 teaspoon vanilla
                             1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 160°C/300°F.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine sugars in a large bowl, add softened butter and mix until it forms a grainy paste.  Add egg, sour cream and vanilla, mix until fully combined.

Melt the chocolate chips, if you're using dark chocolate just melt slowly in the microwave for a couple of minutes, stirring then heating until fully melted.

Pour melted chocolate over the cookie batter and lightly fold through, don't mix in completely as you want to get the marbled effect of the white cookie dough and chocolate ripples.

Drop spoonfuls onto a lined cookie tray and bake for 19 minutes.

One of the rewards of making cookies, you get to lick the beater!

And you also get to eat the cookies warm, fresh from the oven.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cannelloni Ricotta with Tomato Sauce

This is one of my favourite meals to eat.  The kids love it and you will find it is a great Summer time dinner that you will want to make again.  It does take a little preparation time but it is so worth it. Each time I make it, I do it a little differently, maybe adding a few pine nuts into the cheese mix one time or using cannelloni tubes instead of the lasagna sheets.  Just follow the instructions below to find out what works best for you.  Don't forget to improvise along the way, that's how most of my cooking gets done.  Enjoy!!

Cannelloni Ricotta with Tomato Sauce

                                        Tomato sauce ingredients

                                        1 red onion finely diced
                                        1 800g tin of chopped tomatoes
                                        3 garlic cloves
                                        1 teaspoon sugar

                                        Cannelloni ingredients

                                        5 large silver beet leaves (stalks cut off) cut finely
                                        lasagna sheets (quick cooking ones)
                                        500g low fat ricotta cheese
                                        1/4 cup grated parmesan
                                        3 garlic cloves crushed
                                        fresh basil chopped
                                        1 egg yolk
                                        1/4 grated parmesan for topping
                                        1 cup grated colby or cheddar cheese for topping

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.  Steam chopped silver beet until wilted and soft, but still bright green, put aside to cool.

Gently cook onion in a pan in a little olive oil until soft, add tinned tomatoes and garlic, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, you can also add some chopped basil to the tomato sauce as well as adding basil to the cheese mixture.  Add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar, mix and take off stove.  Using a hand blender purée the tomato mixture to remove all lumps, then put aside.

In a bowl mix together ricotta cheese, grated parmesan, cooled silver beet, chopped basil, egg yolk and salt.

Next you need to pre-soften the lasagna sheets in a large dish with very hot water big enough to hold them.  This doesn't take very long, about 5 minutes, or alternatively you can use cannelloni tubes.  I use Barilla la collezione lasagna sheets as they soften and cook quickly and you don't have to worry about crunching into hard uncooked pasta.  Don't leave them soaking too long as they tend to stick together.

Cover the base of your large baking dish with some of the prepared tomato sauce, reserve some for covering the cannelloni.  When lasagna sheets are ready lay one out at a time, put some of the cheese and spinach mix on the end of the sheet and roll it up into the cannelloni, place in the baking dish.

If you're using cannelloni tubes, put your cheese mix into a zip lock bag, snip off the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze into the tubes.

Cover the cannelloni with the rest of the tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese and parmesan for the topping.

Cook for 30-40 mins in a hot oven, 200°C/400°F until golden brown.

Serve your Cannelloni ricotta with a salad and you will find it to be a lovely light but very tasty meal, perfect for those hot Summer nights.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

I have been making this chocolate fudge recipe all of my married life, about 15 years so far.  It is my special Christmas fudge that I make once a year, however I seem to be making a couple of batches each year now, especially for those church Relief Society Christmas dinners and wrapped up as gifts for friends around this giving season.  It is so simple and easy to make, it is also very sweet so don't be tempted to eat it all, wrap some up and enjoy sharing the rich chocolatey goodness with someone special.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

                                        250g dark chocolate melts
                                        250g dark cooking chocolate
                                        395g tin of condensed milk
                                        60g butter
                                        1 1/2 cups pistachios 

Heat the shelled pistachios in a hot pan on the stove until they are lightly browned, keep shaking the pan to cook evenly, do not burn.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. You can use any kind of dark cooking chocolate, I just mix it up a little with different types, or you can just use 500g of the same dark cooking chocolate or dark chocolate melts.

Then add the condensed milk and keep  stirring gently until all of the lumps of chocolate have dissolved.

After adding the condensed milk the fudge mixture thickens and becomes glossy, when all of the chocolate lumps have dissolved you can add the pistachios and mix in.  The more pistachio's the better, I think.

Pour the mixture into a lined rectangular tin, cover with plastic and refrigerate for a few hours.

When the fudge has set, remove from the tin and cut into small cubes.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  This fudge looks fantastic wrapped up in clear cellophane and tied with a ribbon for an easy Christmas gift.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Blueberry Pie

In honour of the first apple pie I baked back in 1997, which happened to be Canadian thanksgiving, today I have baked an Apple Blueberry pie.  I know I'm a week late for Canadian thanksgiving, but I didn't have the ingredients last weekend and today even though it is Spring here, it happens to be very windy and chilly, the perfect kind of day for pie.  This is my trusty go to recipe that I have used since 1997 for apple pie.  I also use the same pie crust recipe, without the sugar, for any savory pie I might make.  Enjoy!!

Apple Blueberry Pie

                                               Pie crust

                                         2 1/4 cups plain flour
                                         1 teaspoon baking powder
                                         1/3 cup cornflour
                                         1/3 cup custard powder
                                         185g butter, softened
                                         2 tablespoons sugar
                                         1 egg yolk
                                         2/3 cup water
                                         1 egg white

                                         7 large apples, I used Granny Smith
                                            with a few Pink ladys
                                         1/2 cup water
                                         3 tablespoons sugar
                                         l/2 teaspoon cinamon
                                         1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
                                         1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
                                         2 tablespoons apricot jam (I used mango jam)

To prepare the pastry sift flours, custard powder and baking powder into at bowl, rub in the softened butter and add the sugar. 

Mix together and then add the egg yolk with the water.  You may need to add a little more water if it's not coming together as you mix and knead it.  Knead together and then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare the filling peel, quarter and core the apples.  Cut each quarter into three slices.  Put apples into a saucepan with sugar, cinnamon, lemon rind and water. Cook on the stove until apples become tender but not soft.  Add the frozen blueberries and mix gently with the apples for a couple more minutes then take off the stove.

Turn oven on to 190°C/375°F.  Remove pastry from the fridge and divide into two.  Roll out one half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface for the base of the pie, enough to cover the edges of a greased pie dish.   Spread the base of the pastry in the pie dish with apricot jam,

then add the cooked apple and blueberries.  Brush the edges of the pastry with lightly beaten egg.

Roll out the second half of pastry and place over top of pie.  Squeeze the edges together, trim and then pinch to shape.  Cut a slit in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Brush the top of pie with egg white and add any cut pastry shapes, I cut out some little maple leaves.  

Finally sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake in oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

When pie is ready allow to sit for a few minutes then best served hot/warm with ice cream.