24 December 2013

M&M Cookie Bars

Tomorrow is Christmas!  Can you believe it?!  This year has gone so fast, and to be honest it doesn't even feel all that festive for Christmas this year, to me anyway.  I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy Christmas... although if you make these, you may find yourself a little less healthy than you would like ;)  MUAHAHA

So yes, Christmas Eve baking.  A friend of mine from highschool days (*shoutout to Danielle*) made these the other day, posted a picture to Instagram, and I immediately perked up because they were so colourful and looked so amazing!  I asked for the recipe, with which she duly obliged and here we are.  You know how I ADORE anything rainbow and colourful, so I have lots of photos with this post!

In my mind, they looked like fudge brownies that aren't brown, with pretty M&Ms strewn through it, so I was pretty excited to make them.

2 & 1/8 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
170g butter (or 12 tbsp), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla essence
340g of M&Ms (plain)

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
  • Grease a pan (9x13 inches, or  9x9 if you want it thicker) if you're not using a silicone one (honestly, where would we be without silicone these days)
  • In a medium bowl, sieve together flour, baking soda and salt
  • In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined (no lumps!)
  • Add egg, yolk, vanilla and mix well
  • Slowly fold in the dry ingredients using rubber spatula - don't over mix!
  • Fold in 1 cup of the M&Ms
  • Put mixture into the pan, smooth down, and sprinkle remaining M&Ms on top, pressing them lightly into the mixture
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are starting to turn golden, the sides are beginning to pull away from the pan, and it is slightly firm to touch
  • Cool completely, then cut

Usually most things taste AMAZING right out of the oven, still warm.  HOWEVER.  This is not one of those recipes.  Trust me.  Wait until they are completely cooled before you eat them.  Then you get the full impact of the 'thick and chewy' description.  They are MUCH better cold.  Weird, but true.  Just go with it.

These are delicious, however, for my family I think they might be a one-off.  They are SO so sweet, even for me with the biggest sweet tooth ever.  I cut it into 16 pieces, but I think I should have cut them even smaller, because they are so sweet I can't even finish one whole piece!  Probably gonna give most of them away because my family can't eat it all, in addition to the food we have for Christmas day tomorrow!!!

Merry Christmas folks!

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.whatmegansmaking.com/2013/01/thick-and-chewy-mm-cookie-bars.html

14 December 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

I made this at the beginning of November, but as I had my university exams around then, I decided to prioritise, and study for those instead of writing a blog post.  Wise choice, because I passed all my classes!

This recipe comes from a recipe book my family has had forever, and I decided I wanted to make this because I felt like pasta, and we had chicken leg pieces to use.  Sometimes it's a matter of finding a recipe that suits what you have in the pantry to use up, instead of going out to buy stuff new and fresh specifically for a recipe, which can end up quite expensive!!


4 chicken leg portions (or 8 drums/thighs, or 4 thighs + 4 drums)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced into thin wedge
1 garlic clove
sprig of fresh thyme (I only had dried, so I used a tsp)
sprig of fresh rosemary
150ml dry white wine
200ml chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
40g black olives, pitted (we didn't have any olives, so I just left them out)
15g capers, drained (again, we didn't have these either, so left them out)
salt and pepper
freshly cooked fettuccine, linguine or pasta shells


  • Heat 2 tsp oil and lightly brown the chicken pieces for 2 - 3 mins each side
  • Remove from pan and set aside
  • Add remaining 1 tsp oil to juices in the pan
  • Add red onion and gently cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally
  • Add garlic and cook for a further 5 mins until beginning to brown
  • Return chicken to the pan
  • Add herbs, then pour in wine and allow to bubble for 1 - 2 minutes
  • Add stock and tomatoes, then gently simmer for 15 mins
  • Stir in olives and capers (if you have them!)
  • Cook uncovered  for a further 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened
  • Remove (fresh) herbs and season with salt and pepper
  • Serve over freshly cooked pasta (500g dry pasta)

This was WAY yummier than I expected and I really loved the chicken with the tomato!  It was a lot easier to make than I thought as well, so that was a bonus!  Definitely one I shall make again in the future, because you all know how much I love pasta.

Recipe Inspiration: Everyday Cookbook: Low Fat (2006), edited by Gina Steer, p114

11 December 2013

Piping Adventures!

This post isn't a recipe as such, but more a sharing of my experience!  Didn't want to post two blogs in one day after such a long time without writing - some of you might die of shock haha.  But I did in fact do this yesterday, before I made the burger patties. 

I have never piped icing.  I have never creatively iced anything in my life.  I tend to slap it on, because who cares how it looks, as long as it tastes good.  

I made some lemon poppyseed muffins using Christmas paper things (what are those even called?!  Cups?  Cupcake papers?  Something like that.) and they didn't rise very high, so I decided to ice them, and piping seemed the neatest way of achieving the look I desired.

Now, don't forget, I work for a catering company, I have seen how to pipe, and how to make piping look nice.  Let's just take a moment to appreciate that it is harder than it looks.  Thomas & Daryl are pros at it, they make it look so easy!

I call this a funnecessary activity.  It was fun, but entirely unnecessary really.  I had fun doing it, but they looked terrible in the finish, but I don't even care because they weren't half as messy as they could have been, had I slapped it on in the haphazard fashion I usually prefer.

Anyway, here are some of the photos, courtesy of my Mum for taking them while I was giggling and trying not to make a mess.  Also, please excuse my attire, as I had worked out in the morning and spent the rest of the day doing chores and such like so hadn't had a shower yet haha... too busy baking and having fun!

Being silly with the leftover icing :D

Pretty proud of my first attempt.  They might look crappy, but mostly because I had some gaps that I then filled :D

10 December 2013

Homemade Burger Patties

Ola blog readers!  How kind of you to stick around in my silence - for that I am ever grateful.  

Currently I have some free time on my hands, while I job hunt for full time work now that I have finished university forever (YAY) I can start with some more recipes and things I've been getting up to, food wise!

Mum got some bread rolls out for lunch, forgetting we had leftovers to eat up, so I wanted to do something with them for dinner while they were still fresh.  I decided to make hamburgers.  Never mind that last night we had homemade pizza - homemade takeaways are THE BEST, right?!  Can never have it too often if it's homemade, with good quality ingredients!

This is merely a recipe for the meat patties, as opposed to the whole burger, because I figure you are all smart enough to ad-lib there, with salads and sauces and such.  The world is your oyster, try anything!  It's pretty hard to make a bad burger combination.


500g mince meat
1 tsp beef stock powder dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic

A horrible photo, I can't work out how to rotate it
  • Essentially just mix it all together in a bowl with your hands to make sure everything gets nice and mixed up
  • However, I added the egg, sauces, powders, etc. together first to make a saucey thing then mixed in the mince, so things would be evenly distributed, but just use your noggin, whatever works for you
  • Separate out into how many (or few) patties you want.  There are 3 of us in our family, so I made 6, for 2 burgers each.  They were quite thick and big though, so could easily be made into more!
  • Grill, BBQ or George Foreman until cooked all the way through!!

These came out DELICIOUS but wow so filling!  Next time I shall make perhaps 12 patties, thinner, and then freeze half!!  Great way to make meat go a long way though!

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.kiwiwise.co.nz/recipe/beef-burger

2 September 2013

Bacon, Leek and Potato Soup

Apologies dear food-blog followers for my slackness of posting.  It has been an incredibly hard year personally, and I kind of lost my mojo for a while there.  I have been busy with uni and other stressors, but I'm back to experimenting now!  I have another chicken and lentil recipe I'm going to try soon too, so keep an eye out for that!

Anyway, down to business.  We visited my mum's family last week, and my grandfather is a farmer by trade, who now lives in town.  This means he has a prolific vege garden, as he can't quite give up the land work!  He thus gave us a bag of leeks he'd grown, and I needed to do something with them.  

Insert genius idea here for leek and potato soup (which my parents incidentally also ate last night from the restaurant whose catering business I work for...).  I wanted to add in bacon too because we have some in the freezer and I love bacon (who doesn't!)... and here is the recipe!


2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp paprika
200g bacon
2 large leeks, white/light green parts, sliced thinly and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken stock, plus 2 cups water
2 medium potatoes, diced small
pepper and salt
1/2 cup cream
1 & 1/2 cups frozen peas (don't worry about thawing them)
1 tsp onion salt

  • Cook bacon in a large pan, until beginning to brown, then remove bacon onto a plate lined with a paper towel
  •  Add 1 tbsp oil to pan, and toss in leeks and garlic
  • Cover and cook until soft (around 5 min)
  • Add stock plus water, potatoes, onion salt, salt and pepper to taste
  • Cover and bring to a boil over high heat
  • Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked, (around 10 min)
  • (optional step) Puree half the soup in blender (leave out centre piece to allow steam to escape) then combine back in the pan
  • Mash the soup gently (which I did because blending was a pain in the butt)
  • Add cream and bring to a simmer
  • Add peas and cook through, around 3 min
  • Add bacon back in and serve

This was actually so easy to make!  It only took half an hour to cook (not counting prep).  The most time consuming part was cutting up the leek!!  And it turned out super delicious, so I'm really happy with it.  The peas and bacon just made it extra amazing!!!

Of course, you can alter it to make it vegetarian, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and no bacon! :)   

We had it with grainy bread and butter.  A good meal on a cold spring night (YES it's the second day of spring already!  CRAZY!)

Recipe Inspiration: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/potato-leek-soup-with-bacon-recipe/index.html

20 May 2013

Modified Minestrone

We won a hamper thing in a raffle, and in it were some things my family doesn't ordinarily keep in our pantry... including a can of pink salmon, and some cannelini beans.  I used up the pink salmon by mixing it with cream cheese and spreading it on crackers, which was nice for the first few mouthfuls but then go too creamy and sickly for me.

But the beans stumped me.  I didn't know what to do with them.  Then I saw Rachael Ray put them in a soup.  And I was like "hey, minestrone!"  So following Jamie Olivers basic minestrone recipe, I kind of altered it to include the random ingredients in our pantry.

Unfortunately I was slack on this one and didn't take photos (because I didn't intend to write about it really) so you'll just have to use your imagination... picture a tomatoey soup with lots of bits in it including potato, beans and pasta.... om nom nom...

1 x400g can whole or chopped tomatoes
1 x400g can rinsed cannelini beans
4 cups chicken stock
diced ham (around 200g)
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 capsicum (bell pepper), diced
1 potato, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup small pasta
1 small tsp crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp onion salt (if you have it)
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (more or less depending on your tolerance)
1/2 cup grated cheese (ideally parmesan, but I didn't have any, so used Edam & Tasty - just as yum!)

sliced fresh bread to mop up soupyness

  • Heat pan with oil, and add ham, onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum, bay leaf and oregano
  • Cook until veges are soft
  • Add everything else except the pasta
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes
  • 10 minutes before serving, add in the pasta
  • Test the pasta to make sure it's cooked before serving, and taste constantly to adjust seasoning
  • If the soup is too thick after the pasta is cooked, it can be thinned out with some more stock, or water
  • Serve immediately with fresh bread

Seriously, I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but it's so delicious, and really quite easy because most things all go in together.  Was delicious on a cold autumn night! :)

17 April 2013

Pumpkin Quinoa Patties

Well hello to you! (Miranda quote, of course!)  Sorry for having been so slack on the new recipe front!  Busy busy life, especially now that I'm back at uni!  I will try to do something on here at least once a month! :)  I did actually make this recipe in March (and was going to write it up asap... clearly that didn't happen) *virtual slap on the wrist* - lots of family drama and tragedy is my excuse :(

Patties, with chips and peas :D
Aaaaanyway, my Belgian friend Fien made them from a recipe book her dad sent her, we had them one night at her house when a friend of ours who was gluten free and vegetarian came over.  They were so good I wanted to make some for my parents to try too.  They sounded really bizarre when I first heard of them, they looked amazing, and the taste?  Well you'll just have to read on to find out!  *cheeky*

1 average sized butternut pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
230g quinoa
470ml water
1 cube chicken stock (or vegetable if vegetarian) - use GF stock if you're GF
170g rice (basmati or wild preferably)
110g spring onions

85g dried cranberries
1 tbsp basil 
salt & pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (grated) - optional, but adds a real depth of flavour

  • Preheat oven to 200 deg C
  • Slice pumpkin in half, remove pips
  • Place pumpkin halves on oven dish, and brush with olive oil
  • Bake for approx. 1 hour (until soft)
  • Let cool, and scoop out pumpkin, discard peel, and mash
  • Mix the 470ml water with the stock cube and add to a pot with the quinoa
  • Cook quinoa 10 to 12 minutes, until the water is absorbed
  • When cooked, let cool for 10 minutes
  • Cook rice ( using whatever your usual method is)
  • Mix quinoa and rice together
  • Add to the pumpkin mash
  • Add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well as you go
  • Form patties (this is the messy bit, where you end up with orange hands!)
  • Bake for a further 15-20 minutes in oven, pan, grill, barbecue, however you want really! 

    (Serve hot or cold)
Several things I want to say.  First of all, while this seems like a lot of effort, a lot of steps, and preparation, and being organised enough to begin making this with enough time to roast the pumpkin, IT IS WORTH IT.  There are the most amazing non-meat patties I have ever had.  Especially with aioli on them!  The cranberries give a touch of contrasting sweetness and juiciness, the quinoa is not even noticeable, yet it is so good for you!  The pumpkin is delicious, and I can't get enough of them!!

Finished Product!
Secondly, when it comes to the final cooking stage, it doesn't matter how you do them, just cook them kind of like you would with ordinary burger patties.  My only piece of advice is, the pumpkin can get quite sticky, and can cause your pattie to disintegrate, which, if you're anything like me, will make you incredibly angry and frustrated.  I HIGHLY recommend cooking them on the smooth plate of a BBQ, or in a George Foreman-type bench top grill that has non-stick plates.  You really don't want to miss this cooking step out, because it gives the patties a nice golden edge, and makes them taste EVEN better.

The patties we had for dinner, lined up in our George Foreman grill, with non-stick tinfoil (because the non-stick surface on our grill is wearing away now, it's so old and over-used ;P )

Thirdly - THIS MAKES A LOT OF PATTIES!!! Don't fret though, because if it is more than you or your family can eat, you can certainly freeze them!  I froze my extra patties (before the final cooking stage) with baking paper between each pattie (to stop them sticking together).  Now, I have a fast food, I can get 1 pattie out of the freezer, microwave for 1 min to defrost, and then do the last cooking step (in the grill, etc.).  Healthy fast lunch = WIN!

So there you have it, my new favourite vegetarian food!  I actually ended up making a lot patties out of it, so it's lasted a while (I made them in early March, it's now mid-April, and I've still got about 6 in the freezer :D ).  Enjoy!  And I would love you guys to comment back sometime about the recipes of mine you've tried!!