Thursday 27 March 2014

Lamb and Rosemary Sausage Rolls

When I was a wee toddler, I can remember sausage rolls being used as a bribe, along the lines of "If you sit nicely and get your photo taken you can go to the bakery and get a sausage roll for lunch". I loved the things! So I was surprised when I realized that I had never made my own before!

If you have never made sausage rolls before you are about to be pleasantly surprised with how easy the are. You could easily use whatever ground meat is your favorite. Here I've used lamb and rosemary, and along with the pastry it made a delightful combination.

Lamb and Rosemary Sausage Rolls

Serves 6

450 g lamb mince
1 Sprig rosemary, finally chopped
1 Onion, finely diced
3 Cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
1/3 Cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly whisked
3 Sheets puff pastry (I used 40% reduced fat)
1/4 Cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (390ºF) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Combine lamb, rosemary, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, and egg in a bowl. Take a sheet of pastry and add 1/3 of the lamb mixture to the pastry. Roll up, place on a baking tray, and cut in half and score the top with a sharp knife. Repeat with the remaining pastry and lamb mixture. Brush the tops with milk

3. Bake for 40 minutes. Until the pastry is golden and the lamb cooked.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Berry and Oat Breakfast Smoothie

Here's a super quick, healthy, and tasty breakfast. The oats give a nice thickness and crunch and help to keep you fuller for longer.

Berry and Oat Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 2

1 Cup trim milk
1/2 Cup rolled oats
1 Banana, chopped roughly
1 Cup frozen mixed berries
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp stevia, or sweetener of choice

1. Place everything together in a blender and blend until smooth, pour into tall glasses and enjoy.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Chicken mince is so versatile and can be used in so many ways. It's a lot leaner than beef mince so it makes a good alternative to beef in a number of dishes. Here I used chicken mince to create a meatball pasta.

Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Serves 4


500 g chicken mince
1/3 Cup breadcrumbs
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Tomato Sauce:

400 g can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 onion, chopped (roughly)
1 red chilli, chopped and seeds either kept or removed to suit taste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta of choice to serve

1. Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl, separate into four equal portions, then roll each portion into 4 meatballs.

2. Heat a dash of oil in a large fry pan over a medium-high heat, add meatballs and brown all over.

3. While the meatballs are browning, place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth. Pour over the browned meatballs. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Season to taste.

4. While the meatballs and sauce are cooking, cook pasta following package instructions. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the pasta.

Friday 21 March 2014

Creme Egg Cookies

As it nears Easter, the stores are now full of Easter Eggs, perfect opportunity to get baking! My honey loves Cadbury Creme Eggs so I made these chocolate chip cookies with Mini Creme Eggs melted in place on top.

Creme Egg Cookies

Makes 18

125 g Butter, softened
1/4 Cup Stevia (or sugar)
4 Tbsp light sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 Cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 Cup milk chocolate chips
9 mini Cadbury Creme Eggs, halved

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper (you will probably need two, if you only have one, just cook the cookies in two batches).

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and vanilla and beat until well combined.

3. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the chocolate chips and stir the mixture until combined.

4. Roll out approximately teaspoon sized portions of the mixture and press gently between your hands to make a cookie. Add half a creme egg to the top of each cookie and bake for 20 minutes.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Beef, Chorizo, and Jalapeno Pizza

We love homemade pizza nights, and we love getting inventive with the toppings, so when we tracked down some beautiful fresh Jalapeno peppers at the Farmers Market (a real rarity around here!), pizza was right at the top of the list. 

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Banana, Vanilla, and White Chocolate Bread

We had a few very black bananas sitting on the kitchen counter that either needed to be thrown out or used in baking. Banana bread is always easy and tasty, making for a great breakfast or snack. This recipe also includes vanilla and white chocolate to create an extra delicious treat.

If you're not so keen on white chocolate, milk or dark would be just as delicious - or how about triple chocolate? To be completely honest, that's the chocolate of choice here because that's what I had in the cupboard!

Banana, Vanilla, and White Chocolate Bread

Makes 1 loaf

3 large overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 Cup light Greek yogurt
70 g Butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup white sugar
2 Eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste, but vanilla essence is fine too!)
2 Cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F) and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold in the mashed bananas, yogurt, and chocolate chips.

4. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Chicken and Creamy Mushroom Filo Parcels

Filo pastries are fantastic, and this recipe here is no exception to that. These were so much fun to make, my boyfriend and I had fun filling and rolling the pastries!

Chicken and Creamy Mushroom Filo Parcels

Serves 4

1 Large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
250 g button mushrooms, sliced
1 Onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
1/2 Cup chicken stock
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
12 sheets filo pastry
approx 1/2 Cup mozzarella
Melted butter for brushing the tops.

1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Heat a dash of oil in a sauce pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken stock and vinegar and simmer until reduced by about half. Add the cream and mustard and simmer until thickened. Mix in the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

3. To make the filo parcels: Place 1 sheet of filo pastry on a clean surface, brush evenly with butter, repeat with another sheet. Add 1.4 of the chicken mixture to the center of the lower 1/3 (see picture). Top with a bit of mozzarella. Fold the bottom edge up and sides in and roll up. Brush the top with butter and place on a baking paper lined baking tray.

4.  Bake for 25 minutes, until golden.

Friday 14 March 2014

Chocolate Vanilla Brownie Tart

For the second lab birthday I needed to make something chocolate, so I made this brownie tart. When we cut into it it was exactly how a brownie should be, nice and soft in the center. It was fantastic drizzled with melted chocolate ganache!

Chocolate Vanilla Brownie Tart

Serves 8

200 g quality dark chocolate
60 g butter
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup cream
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla essence is fine too)
3 eggs
1/4 Cup plain flour

Chocolate ganache:

200 g quality dark chocolate
200 mL pouring cream

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease a quiche/tart tin.

2. Melt the chocolate, butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan over a low heat. Heat until it is just melted and mixed together well. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla.

3. Whisk the eggs and flour together. Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour and eggs. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is crisp.

4. To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate into the cream over a low heat in a saucepan, mix together nicely and set aside. It will go hard when cool so it can be melted to suit your liking.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Mozzarella Beef Burgers

A decent beef burger always goes down well, so I thought: Why not give the beef pattie a stringy cheese center? So glad I did! And you will be too!

Mozzarella Beef Burgers

Serves 5

500 g Beef mince
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced, finely grated, or crushed
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/4 Cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 Cup grated mozzarella
Burger buns of choice
Burger fillings: We used lettuce, bacon, fried mushrooms, garlic aioli, and chilli sauce

1. Combine beef, onion, garlic, egg, and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Split the mixture into 5 even parts to make 5 burgers. With each portion, split in two again and press the first half out in the palm of your hands, place some mozzarella in the center (as pictured), press out the second half and place over top of the first. Seal the edges. Repeat with the 4 other portions.

2. Heat a dash of oil in a large fry pan over a high heat. Add the burgers and cook for about 5 minutes each side, until cooked to your liking. A few minutes before taking the burgers off the heat, place another small amount of cheese on top and let it melt over the burgers.

3. Assemble burgers with your favorite fillings, and enjoy!

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Bacon and Egg Pie

Bacon and egg pie is one of those meals that every New Zealand kid grows up on. It's so easy to throw together for a weekend lunch, it's great cold making it perfect for picnics and it's just so simple and delicious.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Serves 4

2 Sheets of Puff pastry (I use 40% reduced fat)
8 Rashers of bacon, fried or grilled and chopped
8 eggs
4 tsp milk
1/2 Onion, finely diced

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) Line a dish with one sheet of rolled out pastry.

2. Spread the chopped bacon over the pastry base, crack 7 of the eggs over the top:

3.  Whisk the remaining egg with the milk and a bit of salt and pepper, mix in the onion and pour evenly over the top.

4. Cover with the other pastry sheet, seal the edges, brush the top with milk and prick a couple of times with a fork.

5. Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is nice and golden.

Monday 10 March 2014

Liebster Award

The Liebster Award is an award passed around small blogs as a way to put a bit of spotlight on the blogs and make the blogger feel like people are actually interested and paying attention to what they do (which can be hard sometimes!). When someone nominates you for this award they pose 11 questions that need to be answered in the form of a blog post. This is a great way for everyone in the blogging community to get to know each other as well as a way for readers to find out a little more about the person behind the posts.

Firstly, thank you SO much Jessica from Savory Experiments for nominating me! I have nominated some fantastic blogs as well, you can find my picks at the bottom of this post.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I Started blogging last September (2013) after getting loads of lovely comments from friends who loved my food. I was getting quite a lot of encouragement to apply for MasterChef or a similar cooking show.
However, being in front of the camera really isn't the place for me. I am and have always been quite shy and really don't like to be the focus of attention so I compromised with a blog. So glad I did as I LOVE it!

2. What are three kitchen utensils you can not live without? 

My food processor, sharp good quality knives,  and my scales.

3. Where do you see your blog in 5 years?

I would absolutely love to have a huge fan base in 5 years time and keep building my blog to bigger and better things. If I can ever get the hang of the internet I would love to get my own domain name too!

4. What is your favorite beverage? 

Hot Chocolate! I absolutely LOVE hot chocolate. It's not just for winter either. Any time is hot chocolate time.

5.  If you could meet anyone, alive or passed, who would it be?

Jamie Oliver! I absolutely love Jamie, I think he would also be a really fun person to meet!

6. What is your favorite blog post?

It's actually really hard to decide! My favorite at the moment is my chocolate orange cheesecake. Cheesecakes are so simple to make and a lot of fun. I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and orange in this one and I had a blast making it as I made it with my man. Cooking and baking with him is my favorite :)

7.  Other than blogging, what do you enjoy doing with your time? 

Spending time with my wonderful man and getting out and about with our dog.

8. What is your dream vacation? 

I am a real animal person and I also love to be outside so my dream vacation would have to be to Canada were I can go to a National Park and see bears and wolves etc. I promise not to get too close!

9.  What is one skill you wish you had? 

I would LOVE to be better skilled in terms of food photography! But at least this is something I can improve and work towards being better at. 

10.  Sweet, salty or spicy? 

Sometimes sweet, sometimes salty. But always chocolate. 

11. What is your favorite (or most addicting) form of social media? 

Facebook (in terms of being addicted). I love seeing people interact with my posts and also finding out what everyone else has been up to.

11 Fun Facts!

1.  This year is my 7th year at university! I have an undergraduate honors degree in biochemistry and I will hopefully be finished my PhD by the end of this year.

2. When I was a kid I absolutely dreamed of having a pet grizzly bear called Cuddles.

3.  TV advertisements about animals in need make me cry.

4. I HATE green beans with a passion. When I was younger I even made a song about my hate for them.

5. Along with my man I have just started Karate from which I have discovered that I am extremely uncoordinated. 

6. I am really quite bad with technology. My computer crashes all the time!

7. I LOVE roller coasters!

8. I have one younger brother.

9. When I was young I wanted to be either a school teacher or a waitress.

10. My favorite subject at school was biology (surprise, surprise!) but I also learnt French right the way through high school. Don't ask me how to say anything though!

11. Although I am a scientist, I am terrible at Math. I still freak out when I am teaching in an undergraduate lab and they ask me to explain how a calculation works. 

Liebster Award Rules:
  1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award and provide a link back to his or her blog.
  2. Answer the questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Award to several other bloggers who have blogs whom you feel deserve to be noticed. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been nominated or email them.
  4. Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.
My Questions: (I kept some of Jessicas because I couldn't think what to ask!).

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What are three kitchen utensils you can not live without? 
3. Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
4. What is your favorite and least favorite food?
5.  What makes you most passionate about the topic of your blog?
6. What is your favorite blog post?
7.  Other than blogging, what do you enjoy doing with your time? 
8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
9.  What is your favorite animal? 
10.  What food do you crave the most?
11. What is your favorite (or most addicting) form of social media? 

My nominations:

1. Janette @ Culinary Ginger

2. Michael @ The Social Chef

3. Laurie @Food is Love

4. Brandi @ Aunt Bees Recipes

Friday 7 March 2014

Berry French Toast

French toast is my favorite breakfast/brunch. I got a new strawberry and vanilla jam from a restaurant and wanted to try it out with something, so I made this sweet French toast.

Berry French Toast

Serves 2

4-6 slices of day old ciabatta (Brioche would also work very well)
25 g Butter
2 eggs
1/3 Cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup mixed berries (if frozen, thawed)
1/4 Cup strawberry jam, melted

1. Heat butter in a fry pan over a medium heat.

2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Dip the bread into the mixture, making sure both sides are covered. Let excess mixture fall back off the bread and place bread into the fry pan, fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until lightly golden.

3. Serve topped with berries and drizzled with melted jam.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate and orange are a wonderful flavor combination. Especially so in this simple no-bake chocolate orange cheesecake.

I am entering this recipe in the Sweet New Zealand event. I was just told about this monthly blogging event today while tracking down New Zealand bloggers to connect with. I am so excited to start participating in this wonderful event! The host of this months (April 2014) event is Marnelli at Sweets and Brains. If you would like to enter as well, you can do so here.

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Serves 12

350 g Chocolate biscuits
100 g Butter, melted
1 Terry's Chocolate Orange (or 175 g of orange milk chocolate, or milk chocolate and 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice)
500 g cream cheese
1/3 Cup caster sugar
1 Cup whipped cream
finely grated zest of 1 orange

1. In a food processor, process the biscuits to a crumb. Add the melted butter and process until well combined. Press into the base and up the sides of a 22-cm springform cake tin. Place in the refrigerator to chill while making the cheesecake filling.

2. Whip the cream cheese and sugar until light and pale (and not clumpy).

3. Melt the chocolate orange either in the microwave or in a saucepan over a low heat. Keep 2 or so pieces of the choc orange aside for grating over the finished cheesecake.

4. Gently fold the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture, mix in the grated orange zest.  Fold in the whipped cream.

5. Pour into the prepared base, cover, and chill until set (a few hours). Great extra chocolate over the top prior to serving.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Chicken Marsala

Here's my super simple version of the classic dish, chicken Marsala. Trust me on this one when I say that this is very easy to make! I hope you will enjoy this as much as we did!

Chicken Marsala

Serves 4

2 large chicken breast, halved length-ways or 4 small chicken breasts (skinless).
1/2 Cup plain flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 Cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Cup Marsala wine
1/2 Cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp butter

1. In a bowl, combine plain flour with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and chilli. Coat chicken in this mixture.

2. Heat a dash of oil in a fry pan over a medium heat. Place chicken in the hot pan and brown for 3 minutes each side. Set chicken aside and return fry pan to the heat.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until brown, a couple of minutes. Add the Marsala, bring to the boil and simmer until the volume has reduced by about half.

4. Add the stock, bring back to the boil and cook for about 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

5. Return the chicken to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about another 5 minutes, but be sure to check).

6. Stir through the butter, simmer for a further minute, season the sauce to your tastes and serve.

I loved the mushroom and Marsala sauce so much that I adapted it to a steak sauce a few nights later, swapping chicken stock for beef.