Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Little Miss R cooks

Little Miss R received a cookbook for Christmas and has all of a sudden shown an interest in doing things in the kitchen.
 
That's making actual things, not just the usual scoffing of food from the pantry or fridge and it certainly hasn't included the cleaning up part of it yet either (we're working on that one!)
 
 
 
 
 So far she has made Coconut Rice which was quite delicious and I think inspired her to try more things because it was so easy.
 

 
 
 
She also made Master M a chocolate cake for his birthday.  You will get to see that one in another blog post as we've been quite busy here that I haven't had much of a chance (or inclination at times) to upload the photos.
 

 
 
Our favourite recipe by far at the moment is for Mum's Lemon Biscotti.  It's not my recipe but the name of the one in the book and let me tell you that they are more-ish, scrumptious and just plain delicious.
 

 
 
They have been an absolute hit with the whole family.  Yes, that includes Master M who has a bit of an aversion to lemon flavoured anything.
 
I'm thinking that another batch will be baked over the next few days.
 
 
xx Susan
 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is so much fun Mum!

As usual we did a quick trip to the zoo yesterday afternoon.  It was pretty hot and about 3pm I told the kids to grab their togs (swimmers) and towels and off we went.
 
Swimming at the zoo is not a usual thing, mainly because the only water areas are filled with crocodiles and that's certainly not tempting to dip your toe in the water no matter how hot it is.
 
This January though they have a big waterslide so we popped up there to cool off for an hour or so.
 
 
 
 
It was so much bigger than I had expected with 3 slides to choose from.
 

 
 
The kids didn't have the jitters at all at being high up.  They just sat down and off they went.
 

 
 
It was a pretty quick trip to the bottom where they slid along with a splash.
 

 
 
Master M wasn't to be outdone either.
 

 
 
He wasn't too impressed at getting water in his eyes and up his nose but it didn't stop him from going on it again..and again...and again...and again........

 
 
It was a pretty steep climb up the back of it where they had to wait patiently in line until they were allowed up 2 at a time to stop it getting congested at the top.
 

 
 
The zebra's, giraffes and rhino's didn't seem too impressed with their new neighbour.  Perhaps they thought it was some new exhibit with the humans on display!
 

 
 
I can see us having plenty of fun with this over the next few weeks.
 
xx Susan


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2017.  If you saw the New Year in then I hope you had a wonderful evening.
 
We went to hubby's cousin's place for a barbeque which was a really lovely night.  (Thanks B and M!)
 
It had also been another really hot day so the kidlettes were happy to jump straight in the pool as soon as we arrived.
 
 
 
 
I lamented my lack of togs as the pool looked so inviting.  At least I had a nice shady spot to sit in and watch the fun.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
As the evening progressed all the little ones started to get pretty tired and dropped off to sleep one by one so the sparklers and glow sticks came out early for their celebration.
 

 
Master M stayed up for his first New Years which he was pretty chuffed about.  I think the fact that he was hanging out with Teen J playing on the PlayStation had a lot to do with it!

 
 

 
The first day of January was pretty hot again so it was a day of lazing about with the air conditioners on and dozing a bit to catch up on lost sleep.
 
There was a water fight to cool things down of course.  The kidlettes ganging up against their dad and having a very loud happy time.

 
 

 
Lets hope 2017 has many wonderful things in store.
 
xx Susan
 


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Post Christmas Quiet

Well it hasn't been entirely quiet because I have two kids and it's the school holidays, but things have been a bit quieter for me.
 
It began on Christmas Eve after a very busy lead up to the big day.  We had 13 extra members of my family and hubby's family here for the evening which was really lovely.  It's been quite awhile since we were all together in one place.
 
Just before bed I enjoyed a cup of tea by the light of the Christmas tree and enjoyed a peaceful house.  The kidlettes were in bed early which was a miracle but the anticipation of Santa arriving does wonders.
 
 
 
The next morning it was a happy, noisy, chaotic time from about 5.30 am when excited whispers came from Master M's bedroom.  (Little Miss R stayed on the top bunk in his room because my mother-in-law was here for a few days).
 
I'm also happy to say that the chocolate mousse worked a treat in the smaller cups.
 

 
It's such a rich recipe and these Christmas cupcake cups made them into the perfect size.
 
I also made some more gingerbread muffins in them but overfilled them on the first attempt.
 

 
They sort of came out like drunken little soldiers so I adjusted the amount for the next batch.
 

 
With Christmas over it meant that I was hopefully going to be able to get some more quiet time.
 
I have had some which has been really lovely but hubby had to go back to work on boxing day so it's been just the kidlettes and I this week.  To be honest, they have been pretty good most of the time.  There have been the odd moments of course but we seem to have gotten through them unscathed and (mostly) unhurt.
 
I have been able to snatch some quiet moments to do some more of Master M's blanket.  I'm now just over halfway.  Yay!!

 
My goal is to get at least two-thirds of the way through before the end of the school holidays.  That should be easy after the way I've been going the last few days but you never know what will crop up in the next 4 weeks.
 
Wishing you all a wonderful and safe New Year.
 
xx Susan


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Bring on the chocolate mousse

Oh my.  This is divine.  Or as Master M says.  This is so scrumptious mummy.
 
I've been trying so many things lately.  I seem to have channelled some sort of cooking goddess in a frilly apron.
 
That's not a bad thing though and my family aren't complaining.  I quite enjoy cooking and baking to an extent but I'm certainly no Master Chef and usually just do some basic and well loved tried and true recipes.
 
I've been branching out lately and trying things I've wanted to have a go at for years. 
 
Things like chocolate mousse.
 
 
 
 
Completely and utterly DIVINE!
 
The first thing you do is to melt the chocolate.  Now there are two ways to do this.  The traditional way is in a double boiler and the modern way is in the microwave. 
 
On any rare occasion when I've had to melt chocolate before I've done it in the microwave because quite frankly, a double boiler seemed a little scarey to me.
 
Trust me.  It's not.  In fact I think it's so much easier than a microwave and the chocolate melts evenly and stays silky smooth for longer.  You also don't have to stop what you're doing every 30 seconds to stir it like you do when melting it in the microwave.
 
So how does a double boiler work?  You put some water in a saucepan (not even half full), bring it to the boil then turn it down to simmer.  Then you place a heatproof bowl on top with the chocolate in it and leave it to melt, stirring occasionally. 

 
 
Trust me, it only takes a few minutes for the chocolate to melt beautifully to a lovely silky smooth mess.
 

 
 
Meanwhile you beat the eggs and sugar.  (Most recipes separate the eggs to make a really light and fluffy mousse but that was an extra step I couldn't be bothered with so I found a recipe that beats the whole egg.)  Beat the egg mixture until peaks form so a bit more than what I've done in the below photo.
 

 
 
You also need to whip up some cream.
 

 
Be careful to keep an eye on it and not whip it a little too much like I did.  I've never whipped cream in my mix master and didn't realise how quickly the peaks would form!  Disaster averted though.
 

 
Then you fold everything through the egg mixture, first the chocolate and then the cream.  Spoon it into whatever dishes you have around whether they be ramekins, glasses, plastic cups, festive cupcake moulds or just one big dish.
 
The next step is most important.  You give your son the bowl to lick out.  You are not allowed to have it yourself (well maybe one tiny little swipe of the finger for quality control).  Your son and husband will then fight over the bowl and you can serenely put your filled moulds in to the fridge to cool down.
 

 
 
Give them a few hours to set (or overnight) and enjoy.  This is very rich so I recommend small moulds.  I just have to remember that for the second batch that I'm now required to make for Christmas and then the third batch for Master M's birthday in a couple of weeks.
 
..and yes, it really is SCrUMPtiOUS!!!
 
xx Susan
 
P.S.  The recipe I used is this one here if you want to give it a go.
 
P.P.S.  I promise I'll stop with the cooking blog posts soon but that's all I seem to be doing lately so that's what you get.  :)


Thursday, December 22, 2016

A White Christmas?

While a white Christmas sounds something that many of us in the bottom portion of the globe only dream of, it just might be a reality this year for my sister.  Having said that, I've just remembered that she's already had one.  Well that buggered that thought up!
 
Anyway, she flew out to England yesterday evening to spend Christmas with one of her dearest friends Elizabeth in Yorkshire.  I doubt it will be snowing though as it doesn't often snow at their place at Christmas.
 
Driving to Brisbane International airport was a pretty exciting outing for the kidlettes as they've never been there before.  Master M was so worn out by his excitement that he slept nearly all the way down there.
 
Now I never drive into the city because the traffic freaks me out these days but I just told myself that I would be fine and everything would go well.
 
I didn't account for the storms and peak hour traffic though!
 
 
 
 
Two storms converged into one evidently and we drove into it.  Luckily not into the middle of it but we did have to drive through the outside edge of it. 
 
I concentrated on driving while my sister madly took a heap of photos until the traffic got heavier and the rain started.

 
Once we said our goodbyes the kids and I headed home and ran into the back of the storm this time.
 
There was heaps of really HUGE lightning and it got pitch black really quickly.  We ended up stopping on the way home to get some dinner and let a bit more of the storm roll away before we headed for home.
 
So to my lovely sister S.  I hope you have a wonderful time with your English family.  Try to relax a bit and enjoy this precious time with them.  You truly deserve it.
 
xxxxx Susie
 



 
 


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Berry cheesecakes

I know, I know.  It's more food but it is that time of year and I seem to have become a bit of a fiend in the kitchen right now.
 
It's amazing how the thought of having people over for Christmas has made me get off my butt and get things done.  Not that I'm doing much housework, that always seems to get put off as I am very good at finding other things to occupy my time.
 
The latest concoction has been Berry Cheesecakes.  I've been wanting to try these for years and kept putting them in the too hard basket or kept telling myself that I would be about the only person in the family to eat them because they're full of berries.
 
In the end I thought, stuff it, I want to try these so I'm going to make them.
 
They are seriously EASY to make.  Much more so with a food processor to blitz up the biscuits into crumbs.  I think that's one of the reasons I hadn't made them in the past because I've had a couple of terrible attempts at crushing up biscuits the old fashioned way... with a rolling pin.
 
This time I just bunged it all in the food processor, added some melted butter and presto...lovely cheesecake bases made in about 30 seconds.
 
 
 
 
I divided the mixture between twelve cases then pressed them into a nice flat base with the back of a spoon.
 
Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients together which consisted of ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, some vanilla and eggs.
 

 
 
 
Once the mixture is all smooth and creamy then I tossed in some frozen mixed berries.  I threw out the frozen strawberries because they go so soggy and blah when they defrost and just use the raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (at least I think that's what they were.)
 

 
 
I folded the berries through the mixture then divided it evenly between the twelve cases.
 

 
 
I ended up with a bit of mixture leftover and couldn't be bothered blitzing up some more biscuits so I just poured it straight into some Christmas tree moulds I had to see how it would turn out.
 

 
 
After about 25 minutes in a moderate oven they were ready.
 

 
 
Super easy and the verdict is....DeLICiOUS!!! 
 
Well I think so.  No one else in the family wants to try them.  I'm sure lovely hubby would but he's at work so I'm about to see how well they freeze otherwise I'll be a blimp before Christmas is over.
 
Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try it.
 
 
Berry Cheesecakes
 
(Makes 12 ... plus a little more)
 
 
For the base:
 
125g plain biscuits, crushed
60g butter, melted
 
For the filling:
 
250g ricotta cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup frozen mixed berries
 
 

Combine the biscuit crumbs and butter in a bowl or food processor.  Divide evenly between 12 patty paper lined muffin tins and press firmly to make the base.
 
Beat the cheeses and sugar together until smooth.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well until combined and smooth.  Then fold in the berries (yes, while they are still frozen).  You could also use fresh berries (or cherries) or whatever is in season.
 
Spoon evenly into the cases and bake at 160 degrees (fan forced) for 20 to 25 minutes.
 
Allow to cool then serve with cream or ice-cream or just gobble them up as they are.
 
 
 
xx Susan