The Blog! Archives

I need your help!!

To all of you that look at this website – I NEED YOUR HELP!!  Grant has given me the task of finding the recipe for the ultimate gingerbread cookie.  He had some gingerbread at Christmas time one year and fell in love with the flavour – now he wants me to re-create it.  So, I’m asking for all of your help to get this recipe to his liking.

The criteria is that it needs to have a spicy flavour, with definite tastes of ginger and nutmeg.  It also needs to be soft and chewy on the inside, not hard like some of the commercial gingerbread men that you can buy.

Gingerbread cookies trial #1I tried a recipe this weekend that I had had in my folder for ages.  I thought it was ok, and so did most of the people that tried it, but Grant didn’t think they were anything special, just tasted like a generic honey biscuit (even though there was no honey in them!).  Needless to say I’ve now taken that recipe out of my folder and I’m asking for any and all assistance.

If you have a gingerbread recipe (either the bread or a cookie) that you use with great success, please either include it or a link to it in the comments section below.

 

I did make some other things this weekend, but I’ll save those for another blog post later.

As always, you can comment on any recipe, make suggestions for me to try and suggestions to improve this website – I’d love to hear from you!  And if you like what you see here, please subscribe to get the updates as I put them up here, and sign up your friends and family!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home.

Sarah

Small changes

This weekend I wanted to try something new with some of my recipes.  Just some small changes to various aspects based on stuff I’ve read and seen on the Internet.  Some worked, some didn’t!

 

Chocolate peanut butter jam cookies

Flourless peanut butter jam cookies

Recipe: Chocolate almond butter cookie

Changes:  Peanut butter instead of almond butter, jam on top before baking. 

Result: Pretty dry, Grant suggested making them half-size so you could put them straight in your mouth and get the sweetness of the jam to complement the yumminess of the chocolate and peanut butter combination. 

 


Chocolate peanut butter cookie sliceChocolate peanut butter cookie slice

The original recipe that I got this from stated it served either 10 kids, or one very tired and stressed mother. Even with my love of chocolate and peanut butter, I would struggle to eat all of it (especially in one sitting)!

Recipe:  Peanut butter cookies

Changes:  Crushed cookies into small pieces, melted chocolate, butter and peanut butter together and mixed in crushed cookies.

Result: It was really difficult to slice easily, and I didn’t get any really nice looking pieces, but ultimately, it just comes down to how it tastes.  And in my humble opinion, how can you go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter together? 

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

Recipe: Carrot cake

Changes: Almonds instead of hazelnuts, doubled the amount of mixed spice

Result: It was delicious.  Really moist and tasty.  I only made a half-batch, but between the four of us in the family, we cleaned it up in just one sitting – it was that yummy!

 

I had been hanging out to try making a rice pudding – the recipe looked so easy and the pictures looked so delicious.  But, it didn’t work.  It was a peanut butter rice pudding from Chocolate Covered Katie, but I changed it … probably a little too much.  I didn’t use peanut butter, I substituted honey for the sugar and raisins for the chocolate chips.  It just tasted like soggy rice.  I remember reading that she doesn’t guarantee her recipes work if you try to substitute things … this is definitely evidence of that!  So, it’s nothing against the actual recipe, just my interpretation of it.  If any of you have rice pudding recipes that work, please let me know!

Other recipes I tried this weekend:

Recipes are available on this website for the pasta and the chocolate prune bars (no changes this weekend).  The oat slice changed from being an apple oat slice (using strawberry jam instead of pie apples) and the banana bread actually changed from being pear and granola muffins …!  Please let me know if you’d be interested in these recipes being put on the website – I may have to try them a few more times before I’m happy with my changes!

As always, please feel free to leave a suggestion or comment (starting to think that no one reads this due to the lack of feedback …!) and if you like the recipes please enter your e-mail to subscribe for the updates and let your family and friends know about it.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home.

Sarah 

Oats, oats and more oats

For some reason, this weekend I decided to do a lot of baking with oats (gluten-free of course!).  It probably stemmed from it being Anzac Day and me wanting to make Anzac biscuits.  So I did.  And then I continued on the oats theme …

Anzac biscuits

Anzac biscuits

I know that I made fruit mince pies just recently, although it wasn’t Christmas, and Easter has just passed by without me making hot cross buns (it was during our big move back to Australia), but it was Anzac Day this weekend, so I did actually make Anzac biscuits at the right time … and gluten-free because I used gluten-free oats, and a gluten-free plain flour blend that we found in the local supermarket.  For some reason, Australian supermarkets don’t have the individual gluten-free flours like Chile do in their supermarkets, but they have a lot of the already processed gluten-free stuff.  Oh well, live and learn I guess!

 

Anzac cheesecake

Anzac cheesecake

 

And to be truly patriotic, we made the Anzac biscuits into an Anzac cheesecake – same recipe as our fantastic Cookies & Cream Cheesecake slice (recipe here), with Anzac biscuits instead of the Oreos, and a golden syrup swirl on top.  REALLY yummy … just doing our bit for the Aussies!

 

 

 

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

 

I had a whole pile of chocolate chips (white and milk) as well as some M&Ms leftover from last weekends Monster cookies (mmm, monster cookies … recipe here … pardon me while I remember the deliciousness of both the dough and the finished product), and I wanted to use them up so I wouldn’t be tempted to make the monster cookies again in the near future.  I think I had enough of the dough last weekend to last me for a very long time!  Anyway, I saw this recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie, and at only 50 calories per cookie, I thought I’d give it a try.  They turned out ok, but not spectacular … so it’s back to my recipe folder to find another oatmeal chocolate chip recipe to use up the leftovers … 

 

Oatiest oatmeal cookies

Oatiest oatmeal cookies

 

And the recipe I found to use up the chocolate et al … was a good choice.  It was originally from Alton Brown (from the Food Network, he puts the science in cooking and usually is quite interesting!).  These were a winner with the whole family, even Abby who swears she doesn’t like raisins.  Actually, I haven’t told her that these cookies have raisins in them yet … we’ll see how long she is happy to eat these until she realises!

 

 

 

Peanut butter & honey muesli

Peanut butter & honey muesli

 

I found a recipe for a no-bake peanut butter and honey oat cookie, me trying to be a bit more healthy than eating way too much of my favourite chocolate peanut butter oat slice (recipe here).  Only 4 ingredients – I thought that sounded great!  The problem was, I just couldn’t get them to stay together in a cookie form.  Or as a bar/slice.  So I gave up and crumbled it all up and called it muesli.  Peanut butter, chocolate, honey and oats – my favourite 4 ingredients – so I wasn’t too upset it didn’t work as a cookie.  If you try it, and you get it into cookies, let me know!!

 

Friendly granola

Friendly granola

 
And because I could … and because Grant had finished the last batch of granola … I made him some more.  Just continuing on the oats theme!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thanks for reading – as always, if you like what you see, please feel free to add your e-mail address to subscribe and get my latest updated recipe (or sign up your friends and family if you think they’d be interested too).  Also, please feel free to add comments to the suggestions, and the individual recipes – I love hearing from you all!
 
Until next time – enjoy cooking at home!
Sarah

Birthdays

I actually wrote the majority of this post last week, but amongst the moving overseas, I didn’t manage to download the last few photos in time for this to be sent to you just after the birthday weekend.  Hope you understand!!

The beginning of April was the weekend of both my and Abby’s birthdays – we’re only 4 days apart.  And that means more baking and time in the kitchen for me … I know, any excuse!!

So the plan was:

  • Molten flourless chocolate cupcakes for Abby to take to school on Thursday (her birthday)
  • Family dinner on Thursday night, with Abby’s request of turkey burgers, followed by white chocolate baked berry cheesecake
  • Abby’s friends sleepover on Friday night, then have a birthday lunch on Saturday of Chicago-style mini-pizzas, followed by honey-almond cake for Abby to blow her candles out.
  • Family lunch at a really nice restaurant on Sunday for both Abby and my birthday celebration
  • Family dinner on Monday night (my birthday) with my request of peanut satay chicken, potato wedges and vegetables, followed by peanut butter brownie cheesecake.

Wow!  Lots of time in the kitchen, lots of eating … and now lots of exercise required!

Check out how everything turned out in the photos below – we had a great time! 

Molten flourless chocolate cupcakes

‘Molten’ flourless chocolate cupcake

Turkey burger

Burgers

White chocolate baked berry cheesecake

White chocolate baked berry cheesecake

 
Chicago mini pizza

Chicago mini pizza

 

 
Flourless honey almond cake

Flourless honey almond cake

 
Peanut satay sauce with chicken, potato wedges and veggies

Peanut satay sauce with chicken, potato wedges and veggies

 
Peanut butter brownie cheesecake

Peanut butter brownie cheesecake

 

And all the recipes are contained on this website in some form or other, so as always, please try them out, leave comments and suggestions, and sign up friends and family if you like what you see!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

Using up ingredients

Last week, in a phone call at midnight, my boss told me he wanted me to come back to Australia as soon as possible for work.  Our flights are booked for next week, leaving just over a week to get everything sorted out.  And part of getting things sorted out is to figure out what to do with all the food we have in the house.  My husband had just bought a whole pile of peanut butter (sometimes we don’t get the brand I like for over 3 months in Chile), and I had some other stuff I had brought back from the US that I hadn’t had time to use as yet.  So, I’ve been on a bit of a baking frenzy … and eating lots too!

As usual, you can click on the photos and it will take you to the recipe I used (hopefully!).  Enjoy!

White chocolate chip cookes

White chocolate chip cookes

We had some white cooking chocolate (that Abby absolutely loves more than normal eating white chocolate, for some reason), that had gotten some gluten on it from when Abby had picked it up just after eating a bread roll.  I wanted to use it up so I wouldn’t get sick if I ate it, and turned to an ol’ faithful chocolate chip recipe passed down from my mother.  It was really hard not to lick the beaters, or taste the dough, to make sure the cookies were ok, but apparently the kids, and their classmates, all enjoyed them immensely!

Gluten-free fruit mince pies

Gluten-free fruit mince pies

I tried making this recipe at Christmas time with my mum, but accidentally bought some gluten-containing polenta for the cornmeal in it.  Also couldn’t find any real fruit mince-meat in Australia.  I had a jar of fruit mince-meat I bought in the US that I didn’t want to have to transport back to Australia, so I got out this recipe and made it.  Close to Easter, yes, but maybe I’ll make some hot-cross buns around Christmas-time this year!

 
Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

We had a friend over for lunch a week or so ago (hi Graham) who is a vegetarian. I made the arepas with chicken and other stuff for our family, but cooked up some chickpeas for him.  And then I had some leftover cooked chickpeas lying around.  So, I decided to make my really yummy chickepa peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and take them to church.  I think the kids got to them first as the service went a little longer than expected – I don’t know if they were aware they contained chickpeas, but all the cookies went really quickly!

 
Ultimate peanut butter slice

Ultimate peanut butter slice



Couldn’t leave Chile without making my ultimate peanut butter slice again.  Oh yeah, it was to share the awesomeness with my family, since they didn’t get to experience it when I made it in Australia recently.  And to use up the peanut butter, and cooking chocolate.  But I have to admit, it was worth it … and I ate lots while cutting it into pieces to take into the office – had to eat all the ones that didn’t look right!
 
Lemon polenta cake

Lemon polenta cake



I wanted to use up the rest of the cornmeal that I used for the arepas and the mince pies and also had some lemon juice left over from our lemon trees in the backyard.  And every time I’ve made this recipe I’ve wanted to try it as cupcakes.  So this was my opportunity!  They taste really great, just out of the freezer – drats, can’t keep things in the freezer to make them last longer any more, they just taste too good!
 
Flourless peanut butter cookies - brown sugar

Flourless peanut butter cookies – brown sugar



Yep, these were the cookies I made for the base of my ultimate chocolate peanut butter slice.  And since I only made a half recipe of the slice, I had leftover cookies.  Using brown sugar again, nice and soft and chewy, but for some reason, also a little dry this time.  Not sure what I did differently.  But still good to eat!
No-bake peanut butter oreos

No-bake peanut butter oreos



A great recipe to use up some crunchy peanut butter, some creamy peanut butter and raisins.  And that’s about all there is to this recipe!  You could tell they were the ‘healthier’ version, but still not too bad.  I served these to the youth group at our place over the weekend and I don’t think they lasted more than about 10 minutes on the table!

 So, we’ve only got a little bit of peanut butter left, and the rest of the baking ingredients will be given away to whoever we can think of!  This is it for me cooking in Chile, kind of sad in a way, but also looking forward to the opportunities of new ingredients being available in Australia.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … wherever your home may be.

Sarah

More cooking, purely for the photos

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to spend lots of time in the kitchen over the past week or so, helping me lower my stress levels … but not my waist-line.  Everything I’ve made recently has just been so yummy, I’ve had to up the exercise routine to make up for it! 

But the best part has been when I have finally gotten home again.  Back in MY kitchen, with MY equipment (ok, mine and Grant’s!).  And still, eating lots of what I’ve made.  But that’s what cooking is all about, right?

Please check out the pictures below – they are, after all, the main reason why I’ve made all of these recipes recently (the eating part has been secondary)!  And as always, please feel free to add your comments to the recipes, or this blog post, or any suggestions!  And if you like what you see, please share with your friends and family (or sign them up so they get updates as well!).

Flourless peanut butter cookies - brown sugar

Flourless peanut butter cookies (brown sugar)

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Oatmeal choc chip cookies

Chocolate peanut butter slice - Sarah

Chocolate peanut butter slice

Cookie dough truffles

Cookie dough truffles

Edible choc chip cookie dough

Edible choc chip cookie dough

Arepas

Arepas

 
Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie

 
Chocolate cashew butter cookies

Chocolate cashew butter cookies

 
Flourless peanut butter-honey cookies

Flourless peanut butter-honey cookies

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Cooking away from home

This website is called ‘Cook at home’, but my blog this week is titled ‘Cooking away from home’ … interesting!

I am travelling.  Again.  But this time I am blessed to be staying with my in-laws and they have graciously allowed me to invade the kitchen when the baking craving hits.  And those of you who know me well, know that I crave to bake when I’m stressed … or just want to eat cookie dough!  So the urge to bake has been around for most of this week, and I’m learning about transferring my recipes and cooking knowledge into other kitchens – it’s just not the same!

Lessons learned this week:

  • I miss my food processor (AKA the Wazzer!) – I tried to make my granola slice (recipe here) without processing the fruit and nuts, and the slice turned into a yummy granola to add to my yoghurt for breakfast in the mornings … butnot the hold-in-the-hand slice that I’m used to.
  • A tin of caramel does not substitute well for the same quantity of peanut butter.  When I told my husband I tried this, he said it never would – the caramel is basically sugar, peanut butter is basically oil.  When you put it that way, why did I try?
  • Quinoa is not an adequate substitute for nuts.  I wanted to use up some quinoa that my in-laws had bought for me (I had made a quinoa/roast vegetable/chickpea salad for my lunches while staying here – also very yummy), and found on the internet that someone had used a recipe similar to the healthy chocolate nut fudge slice (recipe here) that I had made a number of times ago, but used cooked quinoa instead of nuts.  Well, it was an interesting taste, not really a slice, but probably would work ok with either ice cream or cream as a dessert.  At least I used all the quinoa, and a few other superfluous ingredients I had left in my in-laws cupboards from this and a previous stay!!

On the website front, I’ve made a few updates to recipes and photos (where I update the recipe to what I did that time as well) – these were done at home:

Peanut butter brownie bites

Peanut butter brownie bites

Peach muffins

Peach muffins

 
Healthy chocolate nut fudge slice

Healthy chocolate nut fudge slice

 
And … drum-roll please …

For those who have been following my quest for the ultimate chocolate peanut butter slice, you can rest easy now – I have done it.  Yes, I have found a combination of recipes that results in a delicious (high calorie-laden) chocolate peanut butter combination that has seen me reaching for way more than I needed at a time (recipe is here)! 

Ultimate peanut butter slice

Sarah’s ultimate peanut butter slice

Peanut butter fudge

Peanut butter fudge

Peanut butter cookies - stack

Flourless peanut butter cookies

And as I’m away from home at the moment, I’m going to have to try this again, so my family can sample what I consider to be my ‘ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SLICE’ (can you tell I’m a little excited?). 

You may notice that these photos don’t have my little ‘Sarah’s kitchen’ tea-kettle in them … well, I forgot to pack it.  I guess that leaves the opportunity for me to make these recipes again, just so I can take the photos for the website with the kettle, of course!

As always, please feel free to comment here on my blog, on the suggestions page, or on the recipes themselves!  I welcome any and all comments – it shows someone is reading this!  Also, if you like what you read, please share the details of the website with friends and family and convince them to subscribe here too.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home (or wherever you are)!

Sarah
  
  

Cooking … for photo’s sake

I have made it my mission to go through all my recipes on here so far and take photos of the finished products that I make myself.  And if that means that I have to re-visit some of my favourite recipes, and have to taste them to make sure they really represent the recipe, then, what’s a girl gonna do?  So this past 2 weeks, I’ve been busy baking and cooking (and sampling), and taking photos of everything! 

I was given a wooden tea-kettle many years ago, with ‘Sarah’s kitchen’ nicely written on it, so I thought I’d try to incorporate that in all my photos, just a little quirk for my website only … again I’m only a novice at photography so would welcome any and all suggestions on how to make them ‘better’!

Cookies & cream cheesecake slice

Cookies & cream cheesecake slice

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

Gluten-free cornbread

Gluten-free cornbread

 

   
Peanut butter granola - Sarah

Peanut butter granola

Chocolate peanut butter oat slice

Chocolate peanut butter oat slice

Egg muffins

Egg muffins

   
Chocolate crackle cookies

Chocolate crackle cookies

Thai coconut curry

Thai coconut curry

Monster cookies

Monster cookies

   
Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Healthy granola bars

Healthy granola bars

Friendly granola

Friendly granola

   

I have tried to make it so you can click on the photo and it should take you directly to the recipe page – enjoy clicking, reading (and maybe drooling …!)

All suggestions, with regards to both the recipes and the photos, are greatly appreciated – that’s what the Suggestions tab is for.  Also remember that you can comment on any of the recipes – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time – happy cooking at home!

Sarah

Chocolate crackle cookies experiments

Today I thought I’d try some experiments with my chocolate crackle cookie recipe.  I guess I should have paid attention to the old adage – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

White chocolate crackle cookie fail

 

For those of you keeping up with my adventures, you will recall I tried substituting the milk chocolate and cocoa powder with white chocolate for Grant’s special Valentine’s Day menu.  The taste was ok, but the cookies spread to fill the whole sheet pan.  We ended up crumbling the cookies on top of ice cream etc.

 

 

Chocolate crackle + PB2

When I was in the US last week, I thought I would try some powdered peanut butter (PB2) – only 45 calories for 2 tablespoons instead of the nearly 200 calories in the ‘real’ peanut butter.  But when I added the water according to the directions, it just wasn’t quite right for me.  So I wanted to try using the PB2 in baking instead.

I used the same recipe for chocolate crackle cookies, but instead of the cocoa powder, I used half and half cocoa and PB2.  The texture was pretty good, the taste wasn’t that ‘peanut buttery’, but not bad for an experiment. 

Chocolate crackle - only PB2

 

It was actually a mistake – I really wanted to substitute the whole amount of cocoa with PB2 – so I had to make another batch.  And these turned out like this – do you see a similarity with the white chocolate crackle cookie failure?  Again, the taste was ok, but I wasn’t so keen on the cookies spreading out so much, and not keeping their cookie shape!

 

 

Chocolate crackle + peanut butter

And then I wanted to try another recipe that looked pretty similar to the one here, but instead of using chopped nuts, it included 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.  I used crunchy peanut butter, so I still had some pieces of peanuts in the cookies.  The texture of these was really chewy, but, as Grant said, it wasn’t chocolatey enough to be a chocolate cookie, and not peanutty enough to be a peanut butter cookie – it was a little confused.

Moral of the story: chocolate crackle cookies need cocoa to get the right texture … so use the cocoa and stop trying to change something that works well!!

Remember, all are welcome to make comments and suggestions on this website – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, happy cooking at home!

Sarah

Experiments in the kitchen

I didn’t get to post a blog (or cook, for that matter) last weekend as I was travelling, but as soon as I got back I got right back into the kitchen and tried out a few things.

Almost as soon as I got home from the airport I went into Monster Cookie mode!  I had thoughts of trying a few things with this all-time favourite recipe of mine, just to see what happened.  So here are the 3 trials:

  • Monster cookies experimentFollow the recipe (here)
  • Chill the dough since I microwaved the butter to soften it up
  • Process part of the oats to see if the texture changed

And the results … no significant difference between the normal and chilled cookies, but the processed ones were a little more chewy.  I don’t think I’ll bother processing in the future, but it was a good experiment to try.  Oh, and yes, I sampled bits of each type of dough as well as the finished product … in the interest of science, obviously!

Peach melba slice ... fail

 

We had a dinner to go to on Saturday night, so Grant thought it would be a great opportunity to use up some more of our peaches … yes, the tree in our backyard is still full of them!  I tried to make a peach melba slice, but considering the recipe called for 250g butter and 300g sugar, it was really REALLY buttery.  I may have overcooked it as well, but it tasted good warmed up with ice cream!Cinnamon & date oatcake

 

Sunday morning I thought I’d try something different for breakfast.  I subscribe to a blog called ‘Chocolate covered Katie’ and I get recipes in my e-mail inbox on a regular basis.  This one came in over the weekend, and as I had all the ingredients, I thought I might as well try it.  The actual recipe is called ‘single-serving cinnamon roll’, but mine turned more into a ‘cinnamon, date and peach oatcake’.  I might try it again – if it works better, I’ll put my version of the recipe on here.

Pudding experimentsThen for Sunday lunch, we had taco quesadillas (mince, beans, shredded cheese and other veggies in between 2 corn tortillas, lightly fried – thanks Grant!) and for dessert I thought I’d continue the theme of experimenting – so tried 4 different single-serving recipes: a one-minute chocolate cake with chocolate peanut butter frosting, a chocolate peanut butter mug cake, a single-serving banana muffin (recipe actually called for tinned pumpkin and chocolate chips, but I substituted mashed banana instead) and a chocolate chia pudding.  The kids actually prefered the banana muffin over all of them.  I didn’t mind either of the chocolate cakes, but probably prefered the one with peanut butter incorporated and the last place went to the chia seed pudding.Quinoa choc chip cookies

 And finally, I wanted to try a quinoa chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Don’t think this was a great success, but it wasn’t a dismal failure.  Interesting texture, not sure if I want to try it again though.

And then I went for a walk … a long walk!

 

Microwave scrambled eggs

 

As an added bonus for you, let me tell you about my experience with cooking scrambled eggs in a microwave.  I had a microwave and a fridge in my hotel room, so instead of getting frozen dinners or tinned soup, I thought I’d try to make my own scrambled eggs.  The first night, didn’t work so well as the eggs cooked too much on the outside of the bowl and not at all in the middle.  After chatting with a few people, I realised I had to cook them in 10 second increments and stir well before the next 10 seconds.  This worked much better and tasted really good too!  Just two eggs and two pieces of ham torn up …

 Next weekend I’m helping out with the catering for lunch for 70+ people … using some of my favourite recipes.  I’ll let you know how it goes!!

Until then – happy cooking at home!

Sarah

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