Author Archive

Things I’ve learned this week

Lots of baking this weekend (lots of eating, some exercise as well!).  I learned a lot about various things that I’d like to share with you all – feel free to comment on any of these or add your own experiences!

  • The type of white cooking chocolate used in recipes is really important.  Generic brand white chocolate buttons are great as choc chips in cookies, but not necessarily great when wanting to melt them and then have them hardened again.  Not mentioning any brands, but using a known brand versus the store-brand made such a difference in our cheesecake recipe!
  • M&M’s are gluten free when you source them from the US, but not from Australia.  Every type of M&M’s I’ve looked at the ingredients list here in Australia contain wheat.  And Smarties are the same.  I am thinking of writing to the company that makes M&M’s and ask why it is different from the different countries.  Until I can get gluten-free M&M’s, I won’t be able to make monster cookies again … and I want to!
  • Cinnamon rolls made using yeast rise … lots.  I followed a recipe that said I could make them up to when they’ve been rolled up and put in the tin to rise, then you can leave them at room temperature overnight.  I woke up the next morning to find they’d exploded over the top of the tin … still a nice taste, but kind of took the shine off of it all.
  • Using white sugar or brown sugar makes a difference in the texture for German ginger cookies … I’m not sure whether it was the type of sugar, or that one of the recipes required chilling, but out of the 2 I tried (in the never-ending quest for the ultimate German ginger cookie for Grant), one was light and fluffy, the other was a bit more crispy.
  • Using cornmeal and rice flour in a shortcrust pastry base works for some fillings and not for others.  It just seemed to be much thicker than the other crusts I’ve worked with.  This pastry worked well with a banana caramel filling, and a pecan pie filling, not so good with the pumpkin pie filling.
  • The Ugly Crust pastry works just as well for savoury pies as for sweets.  We made a beef casserole filling and mashed potato topping and put it in a pre-baked Ugly Crust.  Really yummy.  Thanks Janelle for inspiring me to try savoury stuff!

Stay tuned for the next exciting adventures in the kitchen …

Until then, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Internet recipes

This weekend I tried out a number of recipes I’ve been finding on the internet – those I’ve wanted to try for ages, but other things (like life) have gotten in the way.  Unfortunately I didn’t have that many successes … not to say the recipes were at fault, it was more likely my conversion to gluten-free that caused them not to stand out and make their way into my recipe folder.

The ones that worked (stay tuned for seeing these recipes on this website!):

  • Flourless chocolate cloud cake, from Nigella Lawson – I saw this on TV about 6 months ago and have been meaning to make it since then but other things have always taken priority instead.  I have tried a number of different recipes for flourless chocolate cake, but this was definitely the lightest in texture and really simple to make too.  Using dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate, may have made a difference … but the fact that the recipe doesn’t require cocoa means there’s definite scope for a trial of a white chocolate cake – I’ll let you know when we try this!!
  • Oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I am beginning to find this website as one of my favourite ones.  Everything I’ve made from here has been great, as long as you follow the instructions, which are usually given with great step-by-step photos and even some of the science behind her recommendations.  These were soft and chewy … really yummy!
  • Inside out chocolate chip cookies, also from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  Again, soft and chewy.  Again, really yummy.  For cookies, this website is the place to go (in my opinion, anyway!).

The ones that didn’t work as well (again, not saying there is anything wrong with the recipes, just with my making of them!):

  • Peanut butter cookie dough brownies, from Crazy for Crust.  I thought this would be my ultimate – peanut butter, cookie dough and brownies all together – but it just didn’t reach any great heights.  It was ok, the kids loved it, much better when it was eaten straight from the freezer.
  • Gingerbread fudge, from Crazy for Crust.  With Grant and his never-ending love of all things ginger at the moment, I thought I’d give this a try.  It just didn’t set, or turn into a fudge texture.  The taste was there, but it was very gooey, even with spending overnight in the freezer.
  • Oatmeal peanut butter cookie dough truffles, from Crazy for Crust.  I didn’t mind these as I was sampling them while making them, but after they had chilled overnight in the fridge they lost a lot of the flavour.  I was going to try this recipe again, substituting the brown sugar with honey, but I’m not sure I care any more since I have a lot of other recipes that taste similar.
  • Quick cinnamon rolls, again from Crazy for Crust.  This was my first attempt at making cinnamon rolls using yeast.  The taste was there, they were very yummy, but didn’t quite have the lightness that you get from Cinnabon, for example.  Again, likely due to using gluten-free flour rather than normal flour.
  • Greek yoghurt truffles, from Dessert for Two.  This was a really simple recipe, Greek yoghurt and melted white chocolate.  But it just didn’t set, again, even overnight.  We think it might be due to the white chocolate that we used, considering white chocolate was used in the gingerbread fudge as well, and that didn’t set.  So I went and bought a different brand … we’ll see how that one goes next time I try something like that!

As always, please comment on any recipes, whether you have tried them, are going to try them, or just think they look cool – I would love to hear from you.  And if you’d like to get regular updates when I add new recipes, please subscribe to the website.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Successes … and failures (kind of)

I had a number of successes this week .. and some failures that weren’t actually that bad.

Wins:

  • Really soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies (recipe here)
  • Really soft and chewy peanut butter cookies (recipe here)
  • Arroz con leche – rice pudding – with cranberries instead of raisins (recipe here)

Not-so-successful:

  • Flourless chocolate chip cookies – using walnuts, almonds, honey, egg and vanilla – this was ok, but not really a cookie.  Might try it as a slice next time.
  • Lebkuchen – German christmas cookie – yes, I’m still trying to find the recipe for the elusive cookie for Grant.  This one he has said the taste was there, and the texture (YAY!), but I had all sorts of problems getting it into a dough that I could knead and roll out.  I ended up just baking it in a big round circle, then cutting it after baked.  So it still needs a bit of work before I’ll post it on this website.

And a heads up for the gluten-intolerant of us – check your icing mixture packets.  I had just finished icing the lebkuchen, had a spoonful of the leftover icing (as you do) and started feeling crook … because the icing mixture I used contained wheat.  Who would have thought?

Thank you to those of you who have started commenting on my recipes – keep the comments coming!

Until next time – enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

 

Reader’s choice

I’m giving you the opportunity to have a say in what recipe I next post on this website.  I’ve done a reasonable amount of baking this weekend, although I’ve tried to make it a little healthier i.e. less added sugar, more natural ingredients.  And what I’d like to know is whether any of these finished products should be worthy of being included on this website.  Vote for the recipe you’d like to see in a comment below and I’ll see which one gets the most (if any!

Chewy ginger snaps

And in my quest for Grant’s ultimate gingerbread cookie, I made these.  These cookies were soft and chewy, loads of spice (I doubled the amount in the recipe).  Grant has said that he’d eat these quite happily, but it’s still not what he’s after.  What he’s looking for is some German gingerbread cookies that usually come out around Christmas time, dusted with icing sugar (or something else).  Any comments/suggestions greatly appreciated!

 

 

So that’s it from me for now.  Please leave comments/suggestions so I know that you’re actually reading these posts and/or trying the recipes!  And if you like what you read, please sign up for updated recipes when I post them.  And share the website with your family and friends – the more the merrier!

Until then, enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

 

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

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