Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Winter wonders

Winter in Wellington has been beyond cold so far, but I've found some new things that cheer me up and warm me up this wintery season.

Number one: Our slow cooker!! We bought one on the weekend half price and I've been using it almost every night since for stews, casseroles and for puddings! You can even bake things in it- which I'm trying out today for the first time. You just add all your ingredients and then at dinner time...viola! delicous dinner is waiting for you. Brilliant:)

Number two: Robert Harris has put out a special 'winter realease' coffee blend called "alpine blend" it sooo good. Kind of a spicy, chocolaty coffee that warms you right up and tastes delish! It kind of reminds me of Christmas coffee but not so spicy and nutmeg filled, more chocolatey notes. I've been making it every morning... and lunchtime... and afternoon tea.... its just so good, go and buy some! If you want to read about it, its the first thing that comes up on their website. mmmmmmm

Number Three:
Looking at pictures of warm places and dreaming of travelling to them!

I've been googling awesome European destinations recently(because hey why not? I mean a girl can dream right?) I've decided I am going to visit St Tropez beach in the south of France. Oh my! Its beautiful and apparently its the hang out spot of Johnny Depp! bonus!.

Here are some fabulous pictures to look at, so you can dream to!. Oh summer how I miss you!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Coconut and Jam Muffins

I really love Louise cake- if you haven't tried it, its a delicious coconuty and jammy slice. I wanted to try and invent a Louise cake muffin. So I used a plain muffin recipe and added some threaded coconut, vanilla, extra sugar and then placed a spoonful of raspberry jam into the middle. MMMM a total delicious success! Here is my recipe:

Coconut & Jam Muffins (My Louise cake muffins):

1/3 Cup oil
3/4 sugar ( I used caster sugar but regular sugars fine)
1/2 Cup Coconut
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
1/2 Cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3tbsp raspberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and place muffin cases into a tray (makes 12).

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, milk and oil then add the dry ingredients. Mix well!

3. Drop a large tablespoon of batter into each muffin case, then add a teaspoon of jam in the centre. Spoon more coconut batter over the top, filling the cases two-thirds full. Sprinkle with some toasted coconut.

4. Bake for 25 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown. YUM YUM!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sausage Casseroles

Its getting pretty chilly here in Wellington so we have been having lots of casseroles for dinner. I thought I'd post one of our new favourites. Spicy sausage casserole from the Countdown ads on T.V. James found it in the sausage isle and decided to cook it for us last week, its delicious!! Really hearty and just enough spice!

Spicy Sausage Casserole

What you need:
A small packet of sausages about 6
Peri peri seasoning or chilli flakes
Ground cumin
1 can of tomatos
an onion

Basically you cut up your sausages and cook them in a pan with a sliced onion and a little oil. Once they are cooked you add a can of tomatoes, two shakes of peri peri seasoning (or some chilli flakes)and two table spoons of cumin to give it a yumo mexican flavour. Then you let it simmer for about ten mins and serve it with mashed potatoes or crusty bread. How easy is that? and its reeeealy good. Next time I make it I'll add an apple to the mix, I love the sweet flavour of an apple cooked into your casserole, I think this would make it even more delicious!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The engagement story!

Lots of people have been asking me for "the story" so here it is! I've made it especially detailed for my awesome sister because I cant tell her in person (She's in Korea) and for James's sister Katie too xx

So on Saturday we decided to get engaged.... We had been talking about it for a while and James decided I should have a ring and make it official.

We went into the city and looked at a few different styles of ring, colours,stones etc. I never knew there was so many things you could choose- ek!

Nothing really took my eye.

Then we got to Pascoes on Lambton Quay. I saw the ring straight away but it was $18,000. I nudged James and said "Oh that's it! that's the one tehehe, just kidding"

I was going to to give up on the ring shopping trip for this weekend when James saw one in the window- it was almost identical to the $18,000 one and for a fraction of the price.

We went into the store and tried it fitted perfectly! the lady in the shop was impressed "That almost never happens" She said."It must be fate!"

I wasn't 100 percent sure so we put it on hold and went and had some lunch. We walked round a few more shops and James said "You want that one don't you" *sigh* he knows me soo well!

So James bought it for me! BUT he wouldn't let me wear it!

Me "oh maaaan! Do I get to tell people though?
James "Nope, not until I ask you"

I could see him drawing this out for months I thought! even years! I bet he's going to make me wait for aaaages and I've already waited 6.5 years!

But I was wrong...on the ride home he drove a different way home.

"ooooo!" I thought, he's going to ask me now! Horray!!!

We drove to the top of Mount Victoria (Which is an awesome lookout over all of Wellington for you Aucklanders).

We sat down at this little seat on the sculpture.....

This was our view.....

Just kidding! it is Windy Wellington and winter after all lol! it was more like this.....

But still beautiful:)Then James asked me! and I said........No.

James: "What?"

SR:"Are you sure? Because you know that means your stuck with me FOREVER! and forever is a loong time"

James" I'm sure"

SR:"OK! :)"

And now I am the proud owner of a very beautiful and very sparkly ring eeeee!

For those of you wondering no we haven't set a date. But there is a definite possibility of two engagement party's (one for the Wellingtonians one for the Aucklanders) of which you are invited to both! :)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches

One of my favourite things to eat is a peanut butter and banana sandwich and after a quick google search I was surprised to find out I'm not alone. About 2,350,000 results! most of those were recipes for how to make the perfect peanut butter and banana sandwich. Awesome! So I decided to check some of them out. Now I'm used to getting funny looks from people about my sandwich filling choices, jam and cheese, vegemite and lettuce, but the humble pb and banana appears to be perfectly acceptable. One recipe was for a pb,banana and hazelnut spread sandwich... I thought that sounded like a winner so for lunch today I tried it out.

Wow! it tastes even better than it sounds.Apparently there is a knack to making the perfect sandwich though...especially if its your classic peanut butter and jelly, which even has its own Wikipedia page. Apparently the pb and banana is just a variation of the pb and j. Other variations include raisins and peanut butter ...sounds interesting and marshmallow fluff? I don't even know what that is but it sound pretty delicious, although not the kinda thing you'd want to have everyday.

Any way it seems like its all about the bread, good bread = good sandwich, makes sense. That's probably why Subway is sooo delicious. Speaking of delicious here are some delciously cute pb and j pictures I found from my googling.

How about a peanut butter and jelly cupcake? mmmm

or a Mona Lisa made out of peanut butter and jelly! Woah!

Couch cushions!? I think that might be taking it a bit too far

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Caramel filled cupcakes with chocolate ganache

I've always wanted to make cupcakes with caramel filling, but never actually knew how they get all that delicious filling in there. So after some extensive blogging and recipe research I decided to give it a try. I'm pleased to say they were a mega success!. I took lots of photos for you bloggers to check out what I did step by step.

I used Sprinkle Bakes recipe for caramel cupcakes.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full.

Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Ta da! now your caramel cupcakes are ready to be filled. This is where things start to get a little tricky.

Take a knife and cut a small circular hole on top of each of your cupcakes. Like this. Make sure you keep your cut out tops, you'll need to put these back on.

Now your ready to add your caramel. I used Herseys caramel topping but you can make your own caramel sauce if you prefer. Now pop your top's back on (don't worry you wont see these once you ice them).

Chocolate ganache:

Half a 250 mL cream
Half a block of cooking chocolate.

Heat your milk until it boils then pour over the chocolate. Beat with a whisk until smooth. Place in the fridge until it reaches a good spreadable consistency. Spread onto your cupcakes and devour!

My cupcake taste tester judged them "these are the best cupcakes ever". Success!

mmm caramel goodness:)


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