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June cook-a-long: Wrap-up

Hello my beautiful friends!

Here we are. Another month gone by in a blink of the eye. Goodness gracious me! We are almost half way through the year already!

As the nights are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, all I can think about is what to cook that will warm me up! The answer? Soup, soup and soup!!!

Fortunately, thanks to the June issue’s of ABC delicious. Magazine, there has been no shortage of fabulous soup recipes.

Having made at least six different soup’s this month (much to the disgust of B4), I can honestly say that THE BEST one was the Vietnamese chicken, lemongrass & rice soup from the June cook-a-long. So much so that I actually made it twice in one week!

Me

I just love the combination of spring onion, ginger, lemongrass and chilli. In fact, I often have to hold myself back from cooking Asian food every night of the week. I seem to be drawn to those flavours.

It seems though that I may have put a few of you off with the recipe I chose this month, which resulted in a bunch of you not getting time to cook-a-long with me this month. (sad face)

For those of you who don’t have time to make your own stock, I can only encourage you to just try it once. In actual fact, it cooks itself. Just pop all the ingredients in a pot on the stove and let it gently simmer for a few hours. Until you taste it, you won’t realise just how much better homemade chicken stock is. Comfort in a bowl…

Dessert

As a huge chocolate fan, I have to confess to not actually loving the dessert this month because there was too much chocolate in it!!! Here’s what I DID love about Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate & orange croissant-bread-and-butter pudding:

  1. I didn’t actually have to make it. My little sister Beck whipped up dessert. It was that easy! (Thanks Beck!)
  2. Croissants.
  3. Butter
  4. Cream
  5. Need I list any more?

Thank you so much to those that did actually participate in the cook-a-long this month. I really hope that you and your family enjoyed the recipes as much as we did.

Just a reminder that cook-a-long will now take place on the third Wednesday of the month. The July cook-a-long will take place on Wednesday 17 July. The Facebook event is now open. Don’t forget to head over and join in and invite your friends!

Until next month.

Take care,

X Bree

Stay tuned: Next month we have a fab new recipe to cook and a GIVEAWAY! Yay!

 

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Filed under Cook-a-long, June

Celebrating 100 recipes!

Pop the champagne cork! I’ve cooked 100 recipes!

Actually, I’ve officially cooked 107 recipes (if you count tonight’s dinner).

The 100th happened a few weeks ago, on the second of May, and honestly, I didn’t even realise until just a few days ago. Things have been a bit crazy lately.

So who wants to know what the 100th recipe was?

It was Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olives, the cover recipe from May 2008.

I’ve made it before, back in May 2008 probably. It was yummy then and it was still yummy now.

There is something about the smell and taste of slow-cooked onions. Add thyme to the equation and I am in heaven.

Keeping with this month’s Italian theme, I served the roast lemon chicken on spaghetti which had been lightly tossed in butter. A little bit extravagant, but indeed delicious.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you when making this recipe, it’s make double. You’re gonna want to eat this meal again!

Enjoy!

X Bree

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Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olives 

Serves 4

delicious. magazine, (May 2008, p. 125) – Cover recipe

1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
4 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 heaped tbs fresh thyme leaves, plus 8 small thyme sprigs
8 skinless chicken thigh cutlets
Plain flour, to dust
1 – 2 lemons, scrubbed, thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
1 tbs chopped preserved lemon rind* (white pith and flesh discarded), optional
24 Sicilian olives or other large green olives

Heat 2 tbs of the oil in a large frypan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 20-25 minutes until soft and pale golden. Season, then stir in thyme leaves. Spread onion over the base of a roasting pan that will fit the chicken snugly in a single layer. Sprinkle over the thyme sprigs, then set aside.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celcius. Heat remaining oil in the same frypan over medium-high heat. Dust chicken in flour, shaking off excess, then cook in 2 batches for 3-4 minutes each side until golden-brown. Arrange chicken over onion, then overlap 2 lemon slices on each. Squeeze over the juice from any remaining lemon slices.

Meanwhile, bring stock to the boil in a saucepan, stir in the preserved lemon rind if using, then pour around the chicken. Cook in the oven, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes – adding olives after 30 minutes and basting with stock 2-3 times – until chicken is golden and cooked. Stand in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer chicken, onion, olives and juices to a deep platter to serve.

* From delis and gourmet food shops.

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Filed under easy, family friendly, May, Pasta

When life gives you lemons…

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – Dale Carnegie

It’s a simple message, and such an optimistic one. But when faced with a HUGE surplus of big, fat, juicy lemons from the tree in my backyard, it’s a message I take quite literally. It’s something I have never done before, but I decide to make lemonade. Hooray!

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The lemon tree in our yard is not the prettiest tree. It has met with a variety of creepy crawlys and other citrus pests over time. But it is organic. And it seems to have thrived from all the rain we had over summer. In fact, we have been picking some of the biggest, juiciest lemons I have ever seen. The skins imperfections have not affected the juicy goodness inside. But it does mean the lemons are no good for zesting.

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So back to lemonade…

The day I decided I was going to make lemonade I was back flicking through all the April delicious. magazines as I had found myself a bit short on recipes this month. Sure enough, I came across a recipe for lemonade – not that a recipe is really needed. It’s as simple as adding sugar to lemon juice to suit your tastes and heating to dissolve the sugar. Not exactly rocket science. But in my attempt to make a healthier version I replaced the caster sugar with organic rapadura sugar and reduced the amount of sugar by about half. The end result was a brownish coloured syrup that was sour, sour, sour. Borderline undrinkable. Oops…  So I just added more sugar. Second attempt, result? A brownish coloured syrup that was a nice balance of sweet and sour.

Now where’s the vodka and soda?

X Bree

P.S You can read more about rapadura sugar here if you are interested. (It’s not a plug to buy this woman’s product, just a great Australian reference)

P.P.S If you want some lemons, just drop me an email… 🙂

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Filed under April, easy

Moving on from March

Moving on from March

Moving on from March

And so here we are, another month down. Where is this year disappearing?

Another month of cooking fabulous, delicious things, without too many failings or freak outs!

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

Top 3 sweet treats

  1. Plum tray bake (Mar 2012, p. 66)
  2. White & dark chocolate jaffa swirl cake (Mar 2007, p.93)
  3. New York vanilla cheesecake with blueberries – COVER (Mar 2005, p. 25)

Top 3 easy weeknight dinners

  1. Stir-fried rice with chilli tuna (Mar 2004, p. 72)
  2. Beef and vegetable stir-fry (Mar 2006, p. 40)
  3. Chilli salmon noodle salad with lime & herbs – COVER (Mar 2009, p. 89)

Top 3 cheap and cheerful and vegetarian!!!

  1. Greek bean & silverbeet stew (Mar 2007, p. 138)
  2. Root vegetable & chickpea tagine (Mar 2012, p.70)
  3. Pasta puttanesca (Mar 2003, p. 146)

I feel like I am starting to get my groove on with this whole little challenge now. It feels really comfortable.

Some people have asked me how I go about choosing what I make so as I start a new month, I thought I might give you a brief insight into how I approach each month:

  • In the last week of the month prior, I pull out all of the magazines for the next month. (of which there are twelve)
  • Starting in 2002 I start looking through each magazine and tagging the recipes that catch my eye or appeal to my tastes. I do this fairly quickly, so as not to get too caught up in the stories or other bits and pieces in the magazine. (otherwise you can imagine this would take me a week!)
  • The next step is to write a list of all the recipes I have tagged and where they come from. I do this by year.
  • Once this is complete, this is the list I go to each week to create my menu plan. It is a quick glance system where I can choose a good balance of sweet or savoury, easy or difficult recipes to cook based on my time and other commitments that week. For example, I save complicated or time consuming recipes for the weekend when I have more time.

I hope that this gives you a little insight into how I find the time to cook my family a delicious meal every night.

I would really like to thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to read the blog, leave a comment or like what I am doing.

I am particularly chuffed by how many of you have already signed up to take part in the very first My Delicious Year cook-a-long. In case you are yet to sign up, the recipe and shopping list is out now. Head over to the My Delicious Year facebook page to be kept up to date with what is going on. And mark your calendar for Wednesday 1o April.

I look forward to continuing to share My Delicious Year with you!

X Bree

P.S You can find a full list of what I cooked during March here

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April cook-a-long: Recipe reveal

Hello friends,

Here is the moment you have all been waiting for. The details for the April cook-a-long are here.

I have chosen a recipe that I hope you will find easy, fast and affordable.

The possibilities are endless. If you are not particularly fond of prawns, feel free to swap them for something you enjoy. Try chicken or a firm fish fillet or even fried tofu.

Don’t forget that this month’s cook-a-long will take place on Wednesday 10 April.

Once you are finished cooking, take a moment and capture a photo your meal. Post your picture and comments on the My Delicious Year Facebook page or share it on instagram using the hashtag #cookalong and tag @mydeliciousyear.

I can’t wait to see how you all go.

X Bree

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Filed under April, Cook-a-long

Farewell to February

Some of my February favourites

Some of my February favourites

It’s official. I have made it through the first month of the My Delicious Year challenge! Round of applause please?

In the end I managed 31 recipes in 28 days. Not a bad effort for the first month of the challenge. In all honesty though, it has been a whole lot of fun.

Here’s a quick recap on some of my favourite recipes from the month:

Top 3 desserts

Real strawberry jelly (Feb 2011, p. 44)
Vanilla panna cotta with roasted plums – COVER (Feb 2003, p. 10)
Strawberry & almond crumble with crème fraiche (Feb 2004, p. 81)

Top 3 easy weeknight dinners

Minced chicken with Thai basil (Feb 2006, p.76)
Prawn, zucchini & mint tagliatelle (Feb 2011, p. 52)
Honey lemon chicken wings (Feb 2004, p. 104)

Top 3 fancy weekend dinners

Smoked salmon & pea risoni with a coriander mojo (Feb 2007, p. 80)
Ravioli with roasted pumpkin & herbs (Feb 2002, p. 128)
Roasted vegetable strudel with pesto sauce (Jan/Feb 2002, p. 86)

Top 3 cheap and cheerful

Tuna-stuffed capsicum (Feb 2004, p. 74)
Stir-fried pork and pickled cucumber on rice noodles (Feb 2008, p. 96)
Chicken dumplings in broth (Feb 2005, p. 62)

This whole little project has been good for me. I used to be a disorganised cook, often waiting until mid afternoon  before I would start to think about what I would cook for dinner. Now I sit down at the start of the week and plan my meals out for the week and only shop once or twice.

It has also been good for the rest of the family. B2 and B4 are your usual fussy eaters. But they have been really great. Trying lots of new things. Finding new things that they like. Generally being awesome little dudes – except for the one or two times I have had to spoon feed them or threaten to send them to bed without any dinner!

Even Mr Picky Palette has been awesome. He is the first to remind me that I am a quitter or that I never finish what I start. But I have proved him wrong so far. He happily wolf’s down the food I make, offers his two cents on what I should or shouldn’t have put in it, and then asks for seconds. I’m happy with that…

I would really like to thank each and every one of you that are reading my blog, leaving comments and liking what I am doing. That is really what keeps me going each day, knowing that I have your support. If I have inspired just one of you to try something new, then my job is done! Thank you so much! 

Now that March is underway, I can’t wait to get into some delicious Autumn food! I look forward to continue sharing My Delicious Year with you!

Take care,

X Bree

P.S You can find a full list of what I cooked during February here.

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I made an ugly cake…

So I made this ugly cake.

Well actually it was a brownie – a chocolate cheesecake brownie.

I should have known better.

You mix together the ingredients for the brownie base and then you mix together the ingredients for the cheesecake.

Two thirds of the brownie mix goes in the bottom of the cake tin, followed by the cheesecake, followed by the last third of the brownie mix. Then you swirl it all around and bake it.

Here's where it starts to get ugly

Here’s where it starts to get ugly

Here’s where it got ugly. There was SO much cheesecake mixture. It involved almost a kilogram of cream cheese after all! My gut told me that it wouldn’t all fit in the 24cm square cake pan suggested. I ignored my gut and just followed the instructions.

So I spent the next hour nervously watching it bake in the oven.

And as I expected, it slowly rose up, up, up and over like warm chocolatey lava. Disaster!

It didn’t help that I was in a hurry too. I had planned on taking the brownie out to my parents house for morning tea, but I was running late. After it broke its banks and oozed up and over that stupid little pan I switched off the oven and left it there. I would deal with whatever was waiting for me when I got home.

When I got home and opened up the oven, the brownie had kind of sunk violently in the middle with some serious chocolate hanging over the baking paper and cake pan.

Cracked, sunken and overflowing - sigh!

Cracked, sunken and overflowing – sigh!

I left the cake to completely cool in the pan and then dragged it out. Things just got uglier…

Every time I tried to cut a nice piece to photograph and share with you lovely people, the cake cracked more, bits fell off, oh it was just a disaster! U-G-L-Y!

But, those little bits that kept falling off the cake kept falling in my mouth and, oh my goodness, they were yum! Chocolatey, gooey, chewy, sweet, cheesy, deliciousness!

In the end I hacked it into square like pieces and sent it off to work with Mr Picky Palette for his co-workers to enjoy. They didn’t seem to mind ugly cake.

Moral of the story:

  1. Go with your gut instincts
  2. Use a bigger cake pan
  3. Or halve the cheesecake mixture
  4. Ugly can still taste delicious

X Bree

At this point I gave up trying to cut a piece pretty enough to share with you...

At this point I gave up trying to cut a piece pretty enough to share with you…

Chocolate cheesecake brownies

Makes 16

delicious. magazine (Feb 2009, p. 101)

250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
750g cream cheese, softened

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius. Grease and line a 24cm square cake pan.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). I melted mine in the microwave – it’s much quicker and uses less dishes!

Meanwhile, place butter and 1 1/4 cups (275g) sugar in a bowl, then beat with electric beaters until thick and pale. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. Add melted chocolate and flour, then continue beating until well combined.

Spread two-thirds of the chocolate mix in the pan. Set remaining mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 3/4 cup (165g) sugar with electric beaters until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over the chocolate in the pan. Dollop the remaining chocolate mixture over cream cheese layer, then use a fork to swirl the chocolate through the cream cheese.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the centre is just set. Cool completely in pan, then carefully remove from the pan, transfer to a board and cut into 16 squares.

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Filed under cake, February