Archive for the ‘Treats’ Category

20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.
Enjoy!
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Mums Apple Pie.jpgSince my unexpected arrival back in Australia 2 weeks ago, I have been bunkering down at my parents’ house.  It has always been a place that I feel at home, get taken care of and can take some time to get my head on straight. I was fortunate to have one of my Apples.jpgclosest friends K and her baby and husband come up the first weekend for Sunday lunch. This was a wonderful distraction and enjoyable afternoon, a great way to get my mind of my own troubles.

I managed to help Mum whip up some food, making a mushroom risotto and some fresh bread. However in my less than stellar state I let Ingredients.jpgMum cook dessert. Mum’s apple pie (that is actually her sister’s husband’s grandmother’s recipe… yes it is one of those recipes) is sweet, delicious and not like the apple pies you get in the US. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry rather than the more savoury kind you get in the US.Pastry.jpg

Firstly put on the apples to stew… Just peel and slice up some granny smith apples and add them to a pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the pastry, beat 125 grams of butter and ¾ cup of sugar together until creamy. Add in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla Rolling.jpgand a pinch of salt. Then gradually mix in 2 cups of self-raising flour, ½ cup of plain flour and ½ cup of cornflour. Mix this until everything is combined.

Filling.jpg

The rest is simply rolling out the dough for the base and the top. Filling the pie with thecooled apples and then baking.

It bakes in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The great thing is that because the apples are cooked you’re Pie.jpgjust cooking the pastry until it is crispy.

This is now my new go to sweet choice for when I am down… not chocolate or icecream… Mum’s apple pie. Served with a dollop of icecream or fresh cream, it is just the perfect way to end a Sunday lunch or any lunch or dinner or breakfast… my new comfort food. Thankfully though it isn’t hard to make it is just time consuming enough for me not to make it too often… otherwise I could be in big trouble! Delicious, sweet and crispy… give it a try, it is guaranteed to help warm your heart!

Slice of pie.jpg

 

Sausage RollsWe are back from Hawaii with many adventures to share and food to write about, just give me a day or two to settle back in to real life! I wanted to put a quick repost in honor of tonight’s start of the NFL season. I now have 16 weeks of Sundays where J. will barely communicate ahead of me but we both love the game and of course the food that comes with it.

It is also finals time for Aussie Rules and NRL back home in Australia so it is fitting for my wonderful Aussie followers also.

So here is a favorite recipe and favorite footy food from Australia – the sausage roll! A delicious savory treat with ketchup, relish or bbq sauce on the side and of course the prerequisite beer.

Check out the original entry here – Aussie Footy Food!

Enjoy the recipe and the football – whatever code or team you might follow!

Time to eatBeing the foodie in our office has lead to me bringing in cakes for birthdays. Fortunately we have a staff of 6 so it doesn’t happen too often. Earlier in the year I made a Mum’s Sticky Chocolate cake for everyone which was a huge success. This time around I gave the birthday girl a few choices and she went with the Triple Chocolate Marble Mud Cake… well really, who wouldn’t!?

Step 1

The only problem… I had never made it before! How difficult could it be.

In a small pan I combined 250 grams of chopped, unsalted butter, 2 cups of caster sugar, and 1 cup of hot water. I mixed this until it was all melted and combined. Then I just set this aside to cool for 15 minutes and got on with the rest of the recipe.

Base mixture

While it was cooling I melted 150 grams of white chocolate in a bowl and in another bowl I melted 150 grams of dark chocolate. I used 70% dark so that it wasn’t too sweet. There is so much sugar in this recipe already I didn’t think I need extra in the chocolate. I then set these aside.

Going back to my sugar, butter and water mixture I whisked in 1 cup of plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and a teaspoon of vanilla. I added 2 eggs that I had already lightly beaten and whisked everything together. Now the tricky part… I had to divide the mixture into 2 equal parts, putting them in separate bowls. After a bit of back and forth, I think I got pretty close.

Two mixtures

To the halved mixture I added the melted white chocolate to one and the melted dark chocolate to the other. I just quickly mixed the chocolate into each mixture and the cake was ready to assemble.

Layering

In my large cake tin I spooned a spoonful of the white mixture in one corner and then next to it a spoonful of the dark mixture. It was easy just alternating between the two, layering them on top of eachother, until the mixtures were completely gone.

This went into a preheated 150C degree over for 1 3/4 hours. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, well relatively easy. I then just sat back with a glass of wine and waited for it to cook.

Cream and chocolate - Copy

When I opened the oven I discovered it may not have been as easy as I thought. The middle of the cake had sunk! Oh well, that was what the ganache was for… to fill up the large crater in the cake.

Ganache

I turned it out and let it cool. Of course as it cooled the center dropped more… What could I do? More room ganache is what I say!

When it was cool and ready to coat in ganache, I quickly combined in my double boiler 300 grams of milk chocolate and 3/4 cup of thickened cream. I slowly melted these together over a low simmering pot of water. I stirred this continuously until the chocolate had completely melted and was combined with the cream.

I took it off the heat and set it aside. As I was preparing the cake I realized that the square cake didn’t quite fit in my round Sunken but deliciouscake carrier… being the ideas woman I am, I angled off the corners to make a shape that would fit in the container… Later people in the office commented on how cool it looked – I didn’t tell them it was purely to get it to fit, not make it look pretty.

The ditch

My cake now fit in the container, it was time to ganache it! I poured my ganache onto the cake and filled up the huge crater in the center. I then smoothed it down and around the edges until it was completely covered. It looked great! You couldn’t even tell that the cake looked like it had been hit by a meteor. A few quick decorations with fresh strawberries and I was done!

I held my breath when we cut it in the office, praying that it was actually marbled and that the puddle of ganache wouldn’t run off the cake like a waterfall. Luckily it didn’t!

Iced

The best news is that everyone in the office, including the birthday girl loved it. The cake is moist, dense and incredibly rich (especially the parts in the center with an inch of ganache on top). The cake was an afternoon snack for everyone for the rest of the week. I even managed to sneak J. home a slice. He really liked it, he thinks the texture is like a soft, dense cookie.

For a first attempt at this recipe I think I did well. It wasn’t as great as my mum’s but I rarely make her recipes as well as she does. It was a hit and it was delicious, I couldn’t really ask for more but I think I will need a little more practice to be able to make it as easily and as well as I make my Mum’s Sticky Chocolate.

Close up of marbling

Muffin Tin Meat Pies.jpgWe reached a milestone this week… we have over 2500 followers now! To celebrate this great milestone I thought I would revisit a recipe from the early days of the blog.

Also, I have been craving a taste from home and what better way to taste Australia than through meat pies.

These were tasty little treats I made for J. and I during NFL season last year. A nice little snack for watching footy. We did an entire series of Football Food posts last year and with the NFL season only 3 weeks away, I am going to have to prepare some more great snack ideas.

These pies were very easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the pastry instead of making it myself. You could also try all different kinds of fillings but we stayed with the traditional beef and added some spice and chili! You could also make them into a full size pie but these were the perfect size for a tv snack. Beer and a pie – a completely Australian way to watch the football.

So take a trip down memory lane, across the Pacific to Australia with me…. here.

We’re back!

We haven’t really been anywhere but it seems as though life got in the way of the blogging for the last few months… However just because we were too busy to blog doesn’t mean we were too busy to eat.

We have been eating as hard as always. The last few months have been a combination of travelling, delicious tastes, addictive drink and great cooking home!

So stay tuned for some tales, recipes, photos and FOOD!

We’re happy to be back…

Italian Thick Chocolate.jpgAustralia is in the middle of summer right now, when we arrived in Brisbane back on the 21st it was hot, steamy and overcast. We had our lunch out with friends and had decided to explore the city center a little. We jumped on a bus and trundled into the city and watched the rain clouds gather…

Now this preamble is leading to a food adventure but I need to set the scene…

We arrive in the city and wander down the Queen Street Mall, the rain starts falling gently… we walk further… across the river to Southbank and the “beach”. Those of you who don’t know Brisbane, they have created a man-made beach right in the center of town on the south bank of the river. I am pretty soaked at this stage and even though it is hot and muggy the last thing I want to do is risk getting sick on our first day of vacation.

Then I saw it, an oasis from the rain… Max Brenner. This is a chain of “restaurants”/ “cafes”/ Spicy Mexican Chocolate.jpg“chocolate shops” that can be found around Australia… actually when I was just googling I found that there are some here in the US too, including Vegas – How did I not know this!?! They do some decadent waffles and sweets not to mention delicious chocolates. I suddenly wanted a hot chocolate! J had never been to Max Brenner for some reason so I suggested a short respite from the rain and a cup of hot chocolate to share!

So in we went to dry off and order a cup to share… well as if that was ever going to happen… we ended up ordering 2 cups, because we could! I wanted what I have always had, the Mexican Spicy Chocolate with Milk Chocolate and then J ordered the Italian Thick Chocolate with Dark Chocolate.

We sat down and sipped away at our mugs of steaming hot chocolate… they were so delicious and I have to say that J’s Italian Thick Chocolate is now my new favorite… (that sounds dodgy). Anyway, the chocolate wasn’t too sweet and was nice and hot. My Mexican Spicy one could have been a bit spicier but it was delicious anyway. J was pretty pleased with his choice and he would normally stay away from a hot drink in that kind of weather.

After we had dried off and consumed our drinks we were ready to get back out walking again! When I say consumed, I mean licked the cups clean…

What a way to force ourselves to stay awake and avoid jetlag. Hot chocolate in the middle of summer, I think hot chocolate anytime works really!

Since I am busy having fun and celebrating the New Year in Australia I thought I would just post about posts. These are our Top Ten Recipe Posts and Top Ten Restaurant Posts as voted by you!

Just some light reading as you nurse your New Year’s hangovers.

Thanks for the support in 2012 and I look forward to much more deliciousness in 2013!

Top Ten Recipes

1. I’m No Liar! The Best Chocolate Cake Ever…

2. My First Halloween

3. Wingin’ It!

4. The Best Kind of Recipe – Secret Family Recipe

5. How to Impress Your 1/2 Italian Girlfriend

6. A Soup to Chase Away Your Worries

7. Melt in Your Mouth Christmas Shortbread

8. Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

9. Potato Gratin with a Twist

10. Lasagne – the Best of the Best

Top 10 Restaurants

1. Magic & Fairytales

2. Christmas Drinks with New Friends

3. Hot ‘n’ Juicy in Vegas

4. Delicious American Oddity

5. Food Truck Friday

6. Lobster Drunk

7. Searching for “The One” True Taco – J’s First Blog

8. Triple S…Sushi, Sashimi, Sapporo

9. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara – Best Sandwich Ever

10. The Dog of All Dogs!

Bacon Potatoes.jpgIn yesterday’s post I wrote about J’s and my early Christmas celebration and how we had decided to do something different with our roast potatoes for dinner. This inspiration had come from my grandmother’s potatoes. Her “roast” potatoes were my favorite thing she would make growing up… always so crunchy on the outside and salty… completely delicious. Of course this is because instead of roasting them she actually had shallow fried them in canola oil in her electric frying pan. Our version was a little different but definitely inspired by Grandma.

This isn’t the healthiest version of potatoes and we will probably never make them this way again (I can here J. crying as he reads this) but oh my were our potatoes on Saturday night the most delicious thing ever!

On Friday night I peeled 3 really large russet potatoes and then cut them into medium sized pieces. After washingRosemary and Garlic in oil.jpg them I put them into an air tight container and covered them in salted water. I wanted to brine them for 24 hours just to make them extra crispy when we cooked them. I am sure an hour would have been enough but I wanted to do some prep Friday night so J. and I didn’t have too much to do come Saturday evening.

Saturday night I took these out and dried them. I then put them into the microwave for 8 minutes to start the cooking process. I didn’t want them to take too long to cook in the oil. While these were in the microwave I prepared the oil… this is where it gets yummy…. We had saved some bacon grease for this very reason and pour it and a similar amount of olive oil into a frying pan. To the oil I added 2 sprigs of rosemary and 2 garlic cloves. I let the oil heat up until the rosemary started bubbling.

When the oil was nice and hot I added half of the potatoes (carefully). The cooking was easy, every two minutes I Turn regularly.jpgturned the potatoes to another side browning and crisping up all sides. Then when they were ready, I just tested them using a fork, I took them out and put them on some paper towel to get off any excess grease. I then put the second half of the potatoes into the oil.

I changed the rosemary and the garlic in the oil with the second half of the potatoes, I didn’t want them taking on a burnt garlic or rosemary flavor. While the second batch were cooking I salted the first batch and put them in the oven to keep warm.

These were so easy to make, you just really need to keep an eye on the oil so that it doesn’t get too hot. I adjusted the temperature a few times throughout this process. J. thought they were quite scrumptious. The bacon flavor wasn’t too evident but as J said, there was a richness to the potatoes not to mention a crispiness.

Surprisingly these weren’t oily or greasy at all. They were delicious and incredibly crispy and crunchy. J was kind of addicted to them and would have eaten them all except I cut him off. He will thank me later when we have the leftovers but he was none too pleased at the time. I enjoyed these for a special occasion, though I can’t see us doing this again anytime soon… they aren’t a potato for everyday.

Baileys Chocolate Balls.jpgEvery year for as long as I can remember my mother would make rum balls for Christmas. I would even spend hours in the kitchen helping her make them… getting my hands all sticky rolling the balls and covering them in coconut. When I was young I was never tempted by them and then when I got to an age where things with alcohol in them were mighty attractive I found out I had a bad reaction to rum… (not just from drinking too much). So even after all these years I hadn’t ever enjoyed these delicious bites. This year I thought I was going to make rum balls but make them so I could eat them.

I started this process by checking out what alcohol we had in Fruit in baileys.jpgthe house… bourbon, whiskey, vodka and Baileys… the obvious choice to me was the Baileys, plus it is really the only one J. would like. Yes, I drink the other things. I also had the challenge of replacing weatbix, which mum uses in her recipe, that I can’t find here in the US. I decided to use a plain cookie as a substitute for these. I just picked up some plain butter cookies from Cost Plus World Market

Cookies.jpgNow the problems have been solved… time to cook.

In a sealable container I put 2 cups of mixed dried berries, I used cherries, cranberries and raisins. To this I added 1 cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream and mixed everything together. I then refrigerated this for 24 hours…

24 hours later…Dry ingredients.jpg

I took the berries out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. In a large bowl I put 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and 1 packet of plain cookies that I had already blitzed in the food processor so it was a chunky crumble. I added the berries and Bailey’s mixture to the bowl and mixed everything together Condensed Milk.jpguntil it was all combined.

Last thing for the mixture was to add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and stir everything together. This is of course where it gets very sticky and quite difficult to mix together. If necessary get in there with your hands to make sure everything is evenly combined.Ready to roll.jpg

Now it gets really messy. I had to roll teaspoons of the mixture in my hands and then drop them into a bowl of chocolate sprinkles and cover them completely. I found the trick to rolling these successfully was to keep a bowl of hot water next to me that I could regularly dip my hands in to clean them Rolling.jpgoff. So I rolled and rolled and rolled and 70 balls later, yes 70, I had finished.

I put them into the refrigerator to harden and sat down and relaxed! J. was my guinea pig and I gave him one to try. He really liked them, he is not a big alcohol person so this was a success. If he didn’t think they were too boozy then everyone, including people at his office, would be fine with them. I must admit they were really tasty… just tiny, single bites Chocolate Sprinkles.jpgof boozy, chocolaty goodness! These got added to my little boxes and bags of goodies for friends, something decadent and a little different too.

So I finally tasted rum balls, well kind of… I am calling these Bailey’s Chocolate Balls… my favorite new invention!

Box of Goodies.jpg