I’m not a top blogger – der!

Ok, so I’m not getting a top blog award. Tell me something I don’t know! I liked the idea of blogging, I certainly love reading them. But with 2 small children, working full-time lately, being part of my Parish Council and trying to go to the gym a few times a week, it is becoming a chore instead of a joy. When I haven’t blogged for a few days I feel like I SHOULD. And at night, when the boys have hit the sack, I just want to sloth on the lounge. Unfortunately, without a laptop, I can’t blog on the lounge! So for now, I guess I’m just not up to this blogging biz like I thought I was. Not that I have a million of you that I’m disappointing ūüôā

Bye for now, Kristy -xxx-

Vegie garden heaven

Home-grown caulies

¬†There’s nothing quite like the food from your own garden. I hate gardening, I have to be harrassed to weed or water, but lately I’m enjoying myself!!

a bouquet of rhubarb

¬†As with most things, if I can see the benefit I’m happy!!

Rhubarb

¬†So here are some of the fabulous things coming out of our garden at the moment, I’ll show what we did with some of them shortly……

Cylindrical beetroot

Don’t pay for chemicals again….

2 weeks ago I had to use shop-bought washing powder and I’m still paying for it. Every few days as I get clothes out of my cupboard, I’m trying to work out why they smell like they do. It’s the shop-bought washing powder. For 12 months (ish) now I’ve been making my own, and I love it.

Ready to go

I got the idea from this fabulous lady; http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com/

All I use is some lux flakes, borax and washing soda. I put it in the food processor to break it up a bit finer, and then it’s a matter of using 2 Tablespoons per wash. I actually use equal parts of each in the food processor as I can never remember what it is that Rhonda recommends! It works well for me and has no overpowering perfume. It also costs pitance. The ingredients all together are worth about $12, but they’d fill a 2L icecream container 4 times over. Also, 2 Tbspoons is alot less than a commercial scoop!

In the processor

¬†So have a go, I’m always after ways to save money, and this has been working well for me. Don’t forget to be very thorough when cleaning out the food processor at the end!

 

Disneyland Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin muffins. Stop, come back here!! Just hear me out, please? Think of butternut pumkin. Sweet and yummy. Now imagine a yummy muffin, filled with that sweet goodness, and add, if you would, cream cheese to the image (taste-vision?) Now, you can’t argue with the fact¬†that nothing is ever wrong when it is iced with cream cheese. Well, these muffins aren’t just iced with it, they are injected with the stuff. Seriously! And it’s just an added bonus that you could add these to your daily vegetable intake!

The wet mix

For this recipe you’ll need:

2 cups of Pumpkin Puree (apparently this is sold in a tin in the U.S, I just boiled mine and used a hand blender to puree it)

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 large eggs

3/4 cup oil (I used grapeseed)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I’ve said it before, don’t use essence, it’s rubbish!)

1 cup plain flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground clove (I didn’t have any)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet and Dry ingredients compared

¬†Now, because my pumkin was boiled and pureed, mine was runnier than what you get in a tin (good to have a sis who’s seen it and knows!) Of course, this was discovered later, so mine seemed very runny. They were yummy though, so not a problem really!! Also, if you look at the comparison above, the wet ingredients far outsize the dry – very unusual for muffins!!

Wet and dry ingredients combined

 So, start by preheating the oven to 200C.

Then, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into muffin tins and bake for 30 minute or until slightly brown on top and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.

Fresh from the oven

¬†While they are cooling, make the ‘frosting’ (so American!!)

You’ll need 50g unsalted butter, softened

80g of cream cheese, softened

1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted (I use pure only, not icing mixture, it has corn flour and I’m not sure what else added to thicken!)

a sprinkle of cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

 To make the frosting, beat well until creamy. Fill a piping (or glad) bag with the mix. Cut small holes in the tops of the muffins and pipe the frosting into the centre finishing with a rosetter (or puff) on top!!

The final product

This is a really wet/moist muffin. They are very delicious though, don’t let the texture fool you. I dare you to stop at one bite!!

Family

It’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to a family-filled weekend! Not that I get to see all of my family, sadly, but I get to see family all weekend! Firstly, there’s my lovely hubby and 2 beautiful boys (3, there is a 4 legged one!). Tonight Uncle Petie is here for dinner, he’s here for a short week visit from Singapore. We decided that he mostly eats Asian food, so we’ve got Lamb Rumps and potato bake in the oven! Then, tomorrow, after gym and swimming lessons, Kristy is coming over for a sleepover. Sadly, we’re not having the big bake-a-thon we had last time, but I’ve still got pics and recipes for that, and we really need to get outta the house. Of course, last time we were inside cooking most of the time and it was sunny, this time we wanna get outside and it’s meant to be rainy!! Can’t win ūüė¶ Anyway, I’m looking forward to the whole thing. We normally only see Petie once a year, and Kristy leaves the country in a few weeks. So, time for some serious catching up!!

Enjoy your weekend all….

Peanut Butter Blondies

Put donut flavoured things aside, the newest obsession is actually peanut butter. Particularly when teamed with chocolate. Now, it’s taken me awhile to admit that I like peanut butter flavoured things. Why? It’s a little American. No offence to any Americans out there, but Australia is so over-Americanised it’s like we have no identity of our own. Now, me boycotting peanut butter flavoured things isn’t going to give my country an identity, so I’ve decided there’s no point in it, rejoice in the love of peanut butter!! And chocolate!! These peanut butter blondies are from Joy’s website, like alot of the things I’ve tried lately!. http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/11/peanut-butter-blondies-with-milk-chocolate-frosting/. If you haven’t checked out Joy the Bakers site, do it!!

The wet ingredients

Anyway, back to the blondies. These were awesome, they even got Mark’s stamp of approval, and he was trying seriously hard to find fault with all of our cooking that weekend!

First things first, turn the oven on to 160C and line a 9×13-inch pan.
Next, place 140g unsalted butter and 2 cups brown sugar in a medium saucepan, and melt over medium heat, just until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 mins. Then, add 1 cup smooth peanut butter. Stir until all incorporated.

The wet and dry combined

Allow this to cool for about 5 mins, then whisk in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. A word here on extract, spend the extra few dollars. Don’t be stingy and rely on essence, it’s just not the same!!
Anywho, make sure it’s all cool enough so that your eggs don’t cook as you’re stirring.
Beautifully iced

Now, sift together 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just incorporated. Pour the batter (it will be thick) into the pan and smooth it out. Bake this for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool well.

The finished product

To frost these gorgeous little babies, beat 85g unsalted butter, 3 TBspoons cocoa powder, unsweetened, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1 TBspoon milk. Beat well, and add another cup of icing sugar and 2 TBspoons milk.

Melt 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (either in the microwave or a bowl over boiling water, but either way, take care not to burn them!) Add the melted choc to a slightly cooled frosting and beat to incorporate. Add another 1/2 cup of icing sugar if you need the frosting a bit thicker (we didn’t need this). Spread evenly over the cooled blondies. Try not to eat the whole lot at once!! Seriously, too good!!

Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

I saw these on ‘Joy the Baker’ not too long ago and was instantly craving them – even before tasting them!! So on our bake-a-thon weekend, the deed was done. Now, Mark is a ‘mint slice’ man. They are one of the only chocolate things he really likes. I assured him that these tasted just like those. Even after tasting them, he wasn’t convinced – until he tasted one of these and a mint slice, side by side. It turns out he agrees, they’re just like a mint slice, without the choc coating. Seriously – TRY THEM!!

White Choc – ready to melt

You can find the recipe here: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/12/chocolate-peppermint-sandwich-cookies/

But it’s ok, I’ll explain how we did it!!

The filling, cooling

We did the filling first, as it needs to cool quite a bit. To do this, bring 1/2 cup of thickened cream to the boil in a small saucepan. Do this on medium heat, then remove it from the hotplate and add 225g finely chopped white chocolate and allow to stand for one minute Рmake sure the chocolate is completely covered, I used the back of a dessert spoon. Now whisk until the choc is completely melted and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. We could only find peppermint essence and used 1 teaspoon (I think Рwe forgot to write this alteration down, so do it bit by bit and taste as you go!).

Cooled and whipped

 Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool until it gets to room temperature. We kept it mostly on the bench, and popped it in the fridge for half hour.

The cookie dough (granules?) ready to roll

To make the cookies: In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup castor sugar, 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbspoons of plain flour, 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbspoon unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teasppons of salt (only add salt if your butter is unsalted).

Add 215 g of cubed, unsalted butter, one cube at a time with a mixer on (this was so handy to do with 2 of us!) The mixture should have a sandy texture, but when we got ours out to roll, it wouldn’t come together, so I added 1 -2 tbspoons of milk.

Rolled and cutting!

Transfer the dough to a board and shape into a block. Cut the block into 2 pieces. One piece at a time, roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper (I couldn’t find my bluetac, but it’s much easier if you bluetac the baking paper to the bench!) until about 1/8 inch thick (I dare you to try to measure it!!)

Use a cookie cutter to cut into 6 cm rounds (or whatever cookie cutter you have!) Place onto a baking sheet (they don’t spread much, so don’t be too fussy). Bake at 180C for 12 – 15 mins, rotating as necessary in your oven. Cool for 2 – 5 minutes on the tray so that they harden up enough to be moved.
Transfer to a cooling rack to allow to cool completely.

Piping the filling on

Place half of the cookies upside down on a board. Whip the filling with a whisk to loosen it. It lightens in colour and fluffs up. Don’t overdo it though, it will separate. Transfer the filling to¬†a pastry bag or a glad bag with a corner cut out. Pipe onto the upside down cookies and gently press another cookie on top. ¬†

The finished product

These are absolutely awesome – and can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.

Old blog posts

I also wanted to add today that if you want any of my old blog posts, you can have a look here:

http://thoughtsfromkristyskitchen.blogspot.com/

You’ll find things like ricotta hotcakes, pizza, awesome crunchy granola, brownies, pikelets, bread, lemon butter, peanutbutter fudge sauce and the extremely awesome portuguese custard tarts!!

Check it out ūüôā

The bake-a-thon continues

After reading my last post, then this one, you’d be forgiven for thinking I have a donut problem. This is not the case. I worked at Donut King for about 4 years while I was at uni and having children. I actually almost never buy donuts. But now, I seem to be trying to recreate that great donut taste!

The wet mix

Technically it was Kristy’s fault (yes, my step-sis is also Kristy). She wanted to try the baked donuts, I was happy to oblige. When we ate them, she thought they were ok, but was sure her recipe for donut muffins was nicer. I wanted it proven, so it was decided that we’d do a comparison. I place the results in front of you today.

The dry mix

Firstly, sift together 1 1/2 cups plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 3/4 cup castor sugar.
In a seperate bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1/4 cup of oil (I used grapeseed), 3/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Folded until JUST combined

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (yes, it’s supposed to look lumpy!)

Fill quite high
Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin, I like to line them with patty cases, they’re easier to handle!

Butter for brushing the tops

Bake for 5 minutes at 200C (preheated!) then reduce the oven to 180C and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes.

What’s left of the cinnamon sugar
While they are still warm from the oven, brush the tops of your muffins with melted butter and roll them in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon (about 1/4 cup castor sugar and 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon)

This makes about 6-8 muffins, they really do need to be a decent size, small ones just won’t do!!

Viola...donut muffin

So…the verdict?

The baked donuts taste more like donuts to me, I think it’s the yeast in them. You can definantly taste it, and it makes them a bit more authentic. But the nutmeg in the donut muffins also lends itself to the donut taste.

To be honest, I really liked them both. I figure if I want that donut taste and have more time, I can make baked donuts. you’d even be able to let them rise in shape in the fridge overnight ready for a morning bake. If I have less time or want to put them in the kids lunchboxes, I’d do the muffins. Either way, enjoy that great donut-y taste!!

A very bakeful weekend…..

The weekend that just passed was the most bakeful weekend I’ve ever had! My fabulous sister came for the weekend, and after Saturday morning running around, we started the bake-a-thon!

This of course meant lots of washing up to go with the baking, but it’s not so bad when there are 2 to share the dishes!


The first thing we started on was baked donuts. Neither of us had tried cooking these before, so we were excited to see how they’d turn out. Sis printed the recipe, so I’ll get back to you on the source, they certainly weren’t my creation (recipe- wise anyway!)

The first thing to do for these is to place 1/3 cup of warm milk into a bowl and stir in a packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) of yeast. Leave for five minutes or so. If, like me, you bake bread a bit, don’t expect this mixture to bubble and froth. It has no sugar to feed the yeast, so it incorporates, but expect no frothing!! Look at my first pic and you’ll see what we got!

You then need to stir 30g melted butter and 2/3 cup sugar into 1 cup warm milk. Add this to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in 2 eggs, 5 cups plain flour, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt. stir until incorporated, then either mix with a dough hook on your electric mixer, or if like me you use your own muscle power, use your hands to mix and knead for a few minutes. Add small amounts of flour or milk if your mix is either too dry or sticky. Shape into a ball, then place in a buttered or oiled bowl, cover and put in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough has roughly doubled.

Once risen, punch down and roll it out to 1/2 inch thick on a floured bench. Use a cookie cutter, or I actually used a glass, about 2-3 inches to cut out circles.

Put the circles onto baking paper, then cut out smaller circles in the middle. Don’t move them after the smaller circles, they lose shape. The inner circles need to be a decent size, or they’ll rise so much there’ll be not circle in the middle, a bit like mine!!!

Cover with a clean cloth, and let rise for another 45 mins. Bake at 180-190C until just golden, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter in one bowl, and mix 1 1/2 cups sugar with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon in another.

Allow the donuts to cool for a minute or two when you get them out of the oven, then brush them with the melted butter and roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

Eat hot, definantly eat hot!!

Next time mine are this puffed up, hubby wants them filled with jam! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Stay tuned for the ‘donut muffin’ comparison, I won’t give away the results, but I will tell you it was fun to try them both!!

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