Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mini Mars Bar Cheesecakes

Lots of cheesecakes

This was supposed to be our Kids Cooking Thursday entry, however we went house hunting on Thursday, and didn't have time, and on second review the recipe seemed a little complex for the attention span of two children under five, and for the patience of a mother whose baby is five days overdue. But Master Four did come in the kitchen every now and then to "make sure it tastes nice" at various steps along the way.

This was another one of this fortnight's Cooks Club Challenges.


This recipe is for 10 x 1/3 cup individual cheesecakes
or double to make an 8 “ spring -form tin.

90 gm biscuit crumbs
50g butter - melted
2 ½ tsp cocoa

1 tblsp brown sugar 20g extra butter 2 tbs cream

60g milk chocolate 2 tb cream

250g cream cheese-softened
200 gm condensed milk
100 gm white choc melts (melted)
150 gm cream
2 tb boiling water
2 flat tsp gelatine

1 mars bar


1.Combine biscuit crumb, cocoa and melted butter.
Spoon into 10x 1/3 cup silicone cake pans.
(If using muffin size you will only make 7/Cool

2.Press mixture evenly over the bases with a plastic cup. Refrigerate until firm.

3.Combine brown sugar, extra butter and
cream in a micro safe bowl. Zap in 30 second bursts on 70 % power, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then cook for 3 x 30 seconds longer until slightly thicker. Cool.

4.Combine milk chocolate and the cream in a micro safe bowl. Zap in 30 second bursts, stirring until smooth. Don’t overheat.

5.Sprinkle gelatine over the water. Stir until gelatine dissolves.
Cool for several minutes.

6.Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add condensed milk, * then melted white chocolate scraping down well between each addition.
Stir gelatine mixture into cream cheese then the cream.

7.Pour half the cream cheese mixture into crumb crust and drop in a small piece of finely sliced mars bar, drizzle over a swirl of chocolate sauce. Fill with remaining mixture and give a gentle shake and tap to smooth the tops.

Drizzle (or pipe) the caramel and chocolate sauce over cream cheese mixture.
Pull skewer backwards and forwards through mixture to create a
rippled effect.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until set.
Garnish with extra sliced mars bar. I put these in the freezer overnight as they pop our of the silicone really easily then. They freeze well for ages (if they last that long ) and they don’t take long to defrost.

*You have to have everything ready in advance –(check the chocolate sauce is smooth and ready to use and you have sliced the mars bar ) before you add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture, as it can start to set quickly once the melted chocolate is added.

I had waaay too much sauce and cheese mixture, so I had to crush up another 150g of biscuits and melt some more butter, and placed it in a deli keeper lined with foil. I didn't wait for the bottom to set because it was already after five, so we'll see how that went tomorrow.

Cheesecake "slice" (ie, leftovers)

As for the rest, I made the first half of the batch properly, with cooling between steps and everything, with one exception. Because I used speculaas biscuits, I left out the cocoa because I thought it would be flavoured enough. But I did add the cocoa in for the second batch, just to see how it would taste. I made mine in patty cases resting in muffin tins, so I got 15 of them out of the (original) biscuit mixture. The other thing I did was when I melted my white chocolate, I added part of the 150g cream that was to follow. That helped stop it from overcooking, or seizing up, and it stop the cheese mix from setting too quickly once it was added too.

No idea how well it set or tastes yet. The plan is to freeze these, so as to have something "nice" on hand when people come to visit the new baby or new house (when we finally get one) - it's nice to have something to offer with a cup of coffee, not just a store bought biscuit. Apparently the mini sized ones thaw really quickly, so that should be perfect. But of course, I'll have to taste one, just to make sure they are suitable for guests before going to the effort of freezing them. *grinz*

***EDIT 1/06***
They were nice, still very soft after 17 hours in the fridge though, and I would not use speculaas again. Really brought out a gingery taste that is usually a background flavour in the biscuits. I haven't tried the batch with cocoa in the base yet, maybe they will be better.

***Double Edit 2/06***
I froze the lot, so I could actually retrieve my muffin tins. And the batch with the cocoa in the base was a lot nicer. Half of that batch is gone now. I sliced it into tiny squares, and served some to DP's parents who came around yesterday afternoon. Then I ate quite a few myself. I didn't thaw them though, just served them cold and semi-frozen. I quite prefer my cheesecake semi-frozen anyway, it's like chewy ice cream on a crunchy base.

These will be served up with some form of chocolate drink for Stephanie's 35th Blog Party, over at Dispensing Happiness, the theme of which this month is Chocolate. Sure, I'm pushing it a bit using a blog entry from before the theme was announced, but I'm really, really pregnant, so I can. :P And besides, I plan on taking a new photo for the actual entry post, and linking back to here only for the recipe anyway. I still have to come up with a chocolate drink I can drink, and hot chocolate seems far too obvious. I'm sure half the entries will have that, and besides, I've been using hot chocolate powder in single serve sticks lately, and that really doesn't feel like "cooking" enough for me to justify it as a blog party entry.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ham Hock and Lentil Soup (with Homemade rolls, natch)

Time again for another Cooks Club Challenge. This one fit in well with our winter themed Soup Fridays:

Karen's Ham Hock and Lentil Soup
2 tb olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery finely chopped
2 Pontiac potatoes cubed
2 carrots cut into small cubes
1 cup brown lentils
1 ham hock
2.5 lt chicken stock or water
1 lge handful of baby spinach
Juice of a lemon
Minted Yoghurt
1 cup greek style yoghurt
½ bunch fresh mint finely chopped
Combine yoghurt and mint and refrigerate.

Heat oil in a large, heavy based pan. Add onion and celery and cook until tender. Add the potatoes, carrot, lentils, ham hock, and stock and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 - 1½ hrs. Remove pan from the heat and take out the hock. Cool and trim meat from the bone, discarding any skin and fat. Bring soup back to the boil and add meat, spinach and lemon juice. Serve immediately with a dollop of minted yogurt and a wedge of warm herb damper.

I used water, because I had no stock, and I skipped the baby spinach and lemon for the same reason. Also I didn't bother with the yogurt because I wasn't sure the family would like it. Seems like a lot of effort, for something that tasted much the same as my mother's pea and ham soup, which doesn't have as many steps to it, but that could be because of all the things I left out too. At any rate, both kids finished their whole bowlful, even Master Four, who fusses over eating a whole bowl of soup, and DP and the housemate both said it was nice. DP only had one bowl, not two like he has with my cauliflower soup, but he is feeling a little under the weather, so that could be it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Really good pasta with creamy sauce.

White wine and Garlic pasta with baby spinach and broccoli

Pasta with broccoli

I half cheated tonight. I used a jar of Dolmio Chicken White wine and Garlic sauce, but instead of frying up some chicken, I fried 3 short cut rashers of bacon, a roughly chopped onion, and 7 smallish button mushrooms. I had 500g of pasta on to boil with a head of broccoli which had been chopped into small florets.

Bacony goodies (before sauce)

After the bacony goodies had browned nicely, I added the sauce, stirred till mixed through, then thinned it down with approx a cup and a half of pasta water, and a half a cup of milk. Stirred through till it was a nice texture again (I added the water in 3 batches btw), and then threw in 2 small handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Then I finished draining the pasta/broccoli, and added that to the pan too, over the heat, so the sauce would coat the pasta evenly.

All in the pan

Served with a sprinkle of tasty cheese, but it really, really needed some freshly grated parmesan - which we didn't have. We didn't even have stinky pre-grated cannister parmesan, but we weren't missing much there. I made do with a grind of fresh pepper, and a generous sprinkle of salt, which really boosted the flavour, but made the whole thing very thirst inducing. Ah well, you make do with what you've got right?

There was even enough for one meal of leftovers!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Chicken kebobs with noodles
Tuesday Pasta with white wine and garlic sauce
Wednesday Steak and steamed vegies with onion & mushroom gravy
Thursday Satay Chicken Stack (CCC)
Friday Karen's Ham Hock and Lentil Soup (CCC)
Saturday Quiche and chips
Sunday Chicken Schnitzels with veg and gravy

Well, with the checkups and immunisations and house hunting done last week, not a lot of blogging was done. That's ok, I did about as much actual cooking! Because we didn't go shopping till Friday, I couldn't make the Pea soup, and instead we had leftover cauliflower soup from the freezer. That will be coming up in the future, as I just realised that a new Cooks Club Challenge started last week, so I have to squish them all in this week!. That's where the soup and Satay stack are coming from, as well as Thursday's Kids Cooking recipe. As well as that, I forgot to take the mince out for Saturday's sausage rolls again, so we switched the weekend meals, and I made the sausage rolls yesterday. Lots of quick and easy or pre-prepared meals this week too - more hospital visits and house hunting to be done. Oh, and today marks my official due date, so be prepared for this all to go out the window and me to disappear for a couple of weeks at any point from here on in!

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Do you know where yours is?

It's Towel Day!

Carry your towel around with you today to show your respects for the great man, and also what an in-the-know type of geek you are.

Why a towel? You might as well ask what's so special about the number 42? Go read the book already! Geez, I'd read it before I'd even turned 13! And I'm assuming most, if not all, of my readers here are older than that. Go on, go reserve it at your local library, or go order a copy, I'll wait. It's called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Ok, done? Well, since you've done that, I don't mind quoting a bit so you can understand what the rest of us are on about. The Guide has this to say about towels:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

So, grab your towel, and drag it around with you all day. Sure it says "I'm a geek!" but at least it says "I'm a geek with great literary taste!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Sweet and Sour Chicken/Pork
Tuesday Pizza
Wednesday whatever is on special while shopping
Thursday Chicken Pasta Bake
Friday Dutch Pea Soup
Saturday Homemade Sausage Rolls
Sunday Spaghetti Jaffles

Tomorrow I had a heap of doctors appointments, so it's takeaway (fairly usual for a payday anyway). Thursday's pasta bake I plan on making up as I go along. This week's soup is my mother's special recipe, I'm not a huge fan of pea soup, but everyone I know who's tried it likes this one, me included. I was too tired to remember to take the meat out to make sausage rolls last week, so I'll be trying again this week. We're off to DP's parents for lunch again on Sunday, so it's easy, light dinner night again.

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe here

I used a small leek instead of an onion, and a full two litres of stock, and 500ml of water as well. I also think I used about three times as much pasta as requested, but hey, the more noodles the better right? I also didn't have any parsley, and that made a big difference. I've never used this recipe before, but I could tell it would have been better with the parsley.

Personally, I thought it was a bit bland, though that could have been from the changes I made, but Master Four had two bowls full, and said it was as good as the stuff he got in the hospital (which was suprisingly good soup). I forgot to take a photo, but I might get one when our housemate comes home and has dinner, if he has dinner here.

Still looking for more soup recipes and suggestions. Anyone got one they want to share?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Baby Spinach & Mushroom Bosccaiola

Sorry for the particularly bad photo tonight, the flash glared off the cheese. And I did see this at the time, but I was too hungry, and it smelt too good, to stop and try and get a better photo.

Another very simple dinner tonight, and yes, I cheated again a little. I boiled up a full (500g) pack of fettucine in a large pot of salted water, as you do, and while that was cooking I made the sauce. There was some leftover chopped onion from the calzones yesterday, about 3/4 of one, along with 2 or 3 mushrooms that had been halved and then sliced, and the smallest handful of chopped green capsicum. I sliced up another 4 mushrooms, and lightly fried the lot. I had a packet of Continental Mushroom Bosccaiola sauce mix, which required 1 1/2 cups of milk to be mixed with it, and then I threw that in the pan too.

I thinned it out with a bit of the pasta water, since the sauce cooked faster than the pasta, and got a little too thick, but found upon tasting it needed something. In hindsight, I think a few rashers of friend and chopped bacon was it, but I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of french mustard, and got a passable result Add in about 3 cups (or maybe 2 - I don't know, I never measured it, just went, 'yeah, that'll be enough' in the supermarket) of baby spinach and there you have it. The kids ate it, the adults (as usual) had no comment, except for DP's remark of 'fettucine always needs bacon' when I finally figured out what was missing. Well, now I know don't I?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chicken and Black Bean Sauce

We were supposed to be having Beef and Black Bean suace tonight, but I mucked up my shopping list, and ended up short on steak. Still, chicken works quite well with the sweetness of black beans, and it went down quite well. Master Four emptied his plate, and while Miss Two had a little left over, she is fighting off a cold at the moment. Besides, her comment was that the dinner in her mouth made her very happy. Can't ask for better than that can you?

Was a very simple dish to make too. I put some rice on to cook, and while that simmered away, I sliced some broccoli, bok choy, onion, and green capsicum, along with two chicken breast fillets. Browned the onion, and then the chicken, added the broccoli to fry a little. I used a whole jar of KanTong Black Bean sauce, but I could have gotten away with two thirds of a jar, if not as little as half. Then I added the bok choy stems and the capsicum, and cooked until the sauce was hot. I turned the heat off and stirred through the bok choy leaves, which cooked from the residual heat while I was dishing up the rice.

I'm supposed to be making Calzones tomorrow, but I have a doctors appointment tomorrow afternoon, so it will depend on how long they keep me at the hospital. They wanted me to stay and get induced yesterday, so I have to go in every few days it seems to get ultrasounds and heart rate checks. Bubs is moving heaps though, so things should be ok for me to come home again tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Chow Mein, carried over from Saturday
Tuesday Beef & Black Bean Stir-fry
Wednesday Calzones
Thursday Fettucine with creamy mushroom and baby spinach sauce
Friday Chicken noodle soup w/ home made rolls
Saturday Homemade Sausage Rolls
Sunday Bolar roast with roasted vegies

We're starting a new tradition for winter. Instead of fish and chips every Friday, now we'll be having soup and homemade rolls. It's nice to have a simple meal planned out, and once we are in a new place, and don't have to worry about moving the freezer again, I can make double batches of soup and freeze some for really busy days. Master Four discovered he really likes Chicken Noodle Soup two weeks ago while he was in hospital, so I thought I'd give that a try this week. I haven't made that since I was in high school.

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Super Triple Choc Berry Brownies

Based on the recipe used here, I thought I'd give Jazzie's brownies another go. I was planning on doing these yesterday, so they'd be perfect to eat tomorrow, but since I didn't get to buy chocolate, I guess I'll have to make do with having them to eat on Mother's Day.

Differences: instead of using 185g of dark chocolate melted in, I used 80g of Cadbury's Desserts - Tiramisu flavour, a block we tried but no one liked much on it's own, and 40g each of two new flavours I saw at the shop, both dark: Old Gold with Raspberry (mmm, crunchy bits!) and Nestle Club Mixed Berry (mmm, berries!). Then when it came to adding in the chopped up chunks of chocolate, I used another 20g of the Tiramisu, plus what was left of the two blocks of dark chocolate. That didn't quite make up to the amount required, so I added some choc coated sultanas as well.

Fresh from the oven

After sitting for a few hours, some of the chocolate was still molten. I expect a few hours (ie, overnight) in the fridge will sort them, but I don't expect these to really hit their stride until Sunday - if I can get them to last that long.

The Nestle Club Mixed Berry is a really good block of chocolate, and no, they don't pay me to say that. (But hey, Nestle, if you want to pay me to try out and review your new chocolate flavours, I'd be more than glad to! Cadbury, that goes for you too! lol) It made such an awesome smell while these were baking. Although I think I'll go back to the standard format of melted dark choc, and chopped milk choc, trying a different substitute for the white choc next time (DP doesn't like white choc) I'll probably use the mixed berry choc for the melting again.

Initial still warm taste test: A little chewier than I remembered, but it was a crust piece. Tiramisu chocolate didn't take terribly well to being cooked, went a little crunchy/crumbly/chewy. Good thing I didn't use a lot of it. The berry chocolate was still gooey almost five hours after being taken out of the oven, but as I said, the fridge will fix that.

Good Ol' Steak and 3 veg

I finally got my cooking groove back, but you'll have to wait till the next post to see why. Meanwhile, dinner tonight was simple, potatoes, carrots and half an onion steamed in one container in the microwave, broccoli steamed in a separate microwave container, pan fried steak, and gravy made with pan juices, potato steaming water, the other half of the onion, and a few sliced up 'shrooms. Nothing complex, just good old fashioned cooking, that took around half an hour to put together, and smelt like a million bucks. Didn't taste bad either, if I say so myself.

The picture above was DP's serve, which is why there is no gravy. The kids and I ate ours too quickly for me to think of getting a photo, and there DP's was, on the bench, waiting for him to finish some work he was doing.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tantrums and soup

Partly due to my forgetfulness, but mostly due to Master Four pitching a massive crying hissy fit while I was in the fruit and veg shop while shopping today, half the shopping got postponed until tomorrow. Unfortunately, the meat we were supposed to have for dinner tonight was part of that half.

So we had tomorrow's Cauliflower Soup with homemade rolls. It looked pretty much like it did last time so I didn't bother with new pics. We had store-bought ice cream and apple pie for dessert, as I always like to have a substantial sweet when dinner is just soup, no matter how thick the soup is.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lazy dinner nights...

Since we are having pizza tonight, and frozen pasta tomorrow, I thought I'd share something a little different with you. Master Four got a digital camera for his birthday, one of the kiddy, can-throw-them-across-the-room-and-it-still-works, type cameras. I was planning on getting both kids one for Winter Solstice, but since he has one now, I'll have to think of something else for him. Still, he loves it, and has even let Miss Two have a few turns, which she adored. (Don't tell Miss Two, but we bought her one for Solstice today!)

Anyway, in light of me being lazy and having nothing really to post, I thought I'd share some artwork by my budding photographers. Starting with a few by Master Four:

Daddy says Mummy is sleeping!

Master Four catches our housemate tired after work

Master Four's "Still life with feet and Tree-lo"

Miss Two, showing that she can take a photo of her feet too!
(She hasn't had quite as much time with the camera - this was her cutest shot)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chicken Schnitzel with Fettucine Carbonara

Not much to say here. Steamed broccoli topped with friend onion and bacon, fettucine with carbonara sauce, and pan fried chicken schnitzel. Uninspired, but tasty, and not a bad effort for the day before payday, and after a doctor's appointment.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Chicken Schnitzel with Fettucine Carbonara
Tuesday Pizza
Wednesday Bolognese ala SilverMoon
Thursday Steak and steamed vegetables with onion gravy
Friday Cauliflower soup and homemade rolls
Saturday Chow Mein
Sunday Pizza scrolls

I'm doing a freezer clean out, since we are (hopefully) moving out before the baby is born, there doesn't seem to be much point stocking up with easy meals when they'll all get half defrosted in the move regardless. Still on the lookout for a house too, if anyone knows of a 3 bedroom place in the general vicinity of Geelong, preferably with at least one non-carpeted bedroom, so Master Four doesn't need to spend quite so much time in hospital.

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My monthly reads - April

Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Party Games - Jane Kemp
A Spell for Chameleon - Piers Anthony
Peeps - Scott Westerfeld
Trader - Charles De Lint

Sorry about the lack of posts this week, my son was back in hospital with asthma again. Regular posting should resume on Monday.