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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Valentine's Day

Well, once again, WAY late. I will have to learn to accept the fact that I can never be as organized as I would like. I've been so busy again! Work has been really busy, and we've also been making travel plans, so there has been a lot of internet flight bookings (it's a confusing flight path we're taking), seeing travel agents, renewing passports, renewing other immigration crap too. I think I should become an immigration agent. I am now quite accustomed to filling out forms.

Anyhow. We did nothing for Valentine's Day! How sad. But I actually don't really care. I'm not one who puts huge emphasis on those holidays, though I love to get in the spirit. And we're going out this week sometime instead :) I made cards to send to my family, and also made treats to give to my in-law family too. But of course I was a week late, since I had to work all Valentine's Day weekend. I made the Oreo truffles I posted about earlier, and did some alterations :) I placed an order a few weeks ago for some fun new baking supplies and they arrived just in time for me to make treats a week late.

I put the Oreo Truffles on lollypop sticks, and tried out a few new flavours too. I did 2 batches of the recipe , and divided them up. I kept one batch normal, and flavoured a 1/2 batch with cherry, and the other half Kahlua, using LorAnn flavouring oils.

I covered the cherry balls with dark chocolate and red sprinkles.
I covered the kaluha balls with white chocolate and chocolate sprinkles.
I covered the plain balls with white and milk chocolate, and decorated with random sprinkles.

I put some on sticks too. Fun experimenting. They didn't look the prettiest, but next time I'll be prepared. I made little packages to give to my in-laws, wrapped up in baking paper. I had ordered some cellophane bags in my baking supply order, but they didn't get included. I had high hopes of wrapping them up all cute-like. No such luck.

I made some cards from a cute free printable. I added doilies for some fun cliche kitsch and tied them up with ribbons. I wrote cheesy mini love letters on the back to my family; things like "Will you be ours? Love, your Secret Admirers". As cheesy as they are, it's still fun to get cards in the mail :)


Friday, February 26, 2010

Cappuccino Brownies

This is a new favorite for me! From The Essential Dessert Cookbook.

(oops, labeled the photo incorrectly)

Cappuccino Brownies
150g butter
125g dark chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp instant coffee powder (I think they mean those cappuccino pre-mixes - this is what I used and it worked great)

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350 ºF) and grease or line a 11 x 7 cake tin.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over water just off the boil. Stir until smooth and melted. Cool slightly.
3. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl. Whisk in chocolate mixture.
4. Stir in dry ingredients until combines. Do not over beat.
5. Pour into cake tin and bake for 40 minutes.

I make a simple chocolate icing for on top. Take a 1/4 cup of butter and a few tbsp of cocoa and beat until smooth (you can do this by hand). Add icing sugar and milk as needed (about 2 cups icing sugar, and a few tbsp milk).

The recipe book has more instructions to make ice cream sandwiches with this recipe - looks delicious!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chocolate Mousse, Hamburger Patties & Wedges

Chocolate mousse is a favorite around here. I usually make it once a year, for a special dinner. Hubby is not a huge fan of sweets, so I offer to make any dessert he might like, and he usually picks this one. I cannot argue - this is right up there. And the possibilities of chocolate mousse being used with other desserts is endless. This keeps well in the fridge, and so it's also a great dessert if you need to make something ahead of time. Since you use separated eggs in this recipe, I sometimes also time it with making a pavlova - another great recipe to make ahead of time, and it will also keep for a good few days in a sealed container (without the fruit and whipped cream added on top).

For our "special" Christmas dinner, with just the two of us, I made hamburgers (ha! So Christmas-y, but you'd understand, if you had to cook a turkey, veggies, buns, etc, that hamburgers are much more comfortable to do in 30 degree heat if you live in Oz). And for dessert, Chocolate Mousse, from Betty Crocker. I've made it in the past with nice chocolate decorations, but this year it was kept very simple.


For the Hamburger patties, I've worked out this recipe through a little trial and error, which we like the best:

500g ground beef
1 egg
1-2 piece(s) of bread, see how the consistency of the mix is before you add more
onion, diced
garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
(you could also add Italian herbs too)

Moisten bread with water, and squeeze out excess. Mush between fingers so there are no large lumps (I have a soggy bread phobia, and cannot stand to see/taste noticeable lumps). Dice onion and garlic and add everything into a large bowl. Add all other ingredients, approximate measurements. Blend everything together with your hands, and shape into 4 balls. Flatten balls into patties. I always make them a little larger than I would want, since they tend to shrink a little when you cook them. BBQ patties with some cheese on top, using BBQ sauce to taste. Makes 4 large patties.

For a special burger, try the Paul Newman Southwest style dressing on your burger - amazing!



(mustard powder, paprika, chicken salt, etc)

Wash potatoes thoroughly, and chop into wedges. The smaller, the better. Pat potatoes dry with paper towel. The drier, the better. Put potatoes into a bowl, and add oil to the bowl to coat the potaoes. Add spices as you see fit. I like crushed garlic, Italian herbs and rosemary. But you can add whatever you want. I sometimes add a little mustard powder, paprika, etc....It's best to keep a thin layer, if possible. Maybe do two separate batches in the oven, as needed. Bake at 425º for about 30 mins.