Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cookies of 2011

Cookies are great to make for the kids. They might be slightly more time consuming to make than say a slice but a batch of cookie dough goes a long way in our house because I make them slightly smaller. Here are the cookies I've made this year.

Cherry Ripe Cookies
Crispy Coconut Iced Cookies
Custard Creams, Melting Moments or Yo-Yo's
Nanna's Jam Drops
Nutella Cookies
Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti
Quick Mix Choc Chunk Cookies
White Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies
Wholemeal Apple & Pecan Cookies

ANZAC Biscuits
Assorted Cream Biscuits


Friday, December 30, 2011

Salted peanut butter fudge

My sister has a sweet tooth (like me) and she has just about everything a woman could desire (unlike me) so I always like to make her homemade sweets for birthdays and Christmas. She loves fudge and I've made quite a few varieties for her before but I wanted to use what I had on hand and that was peanuts. Adding rock salt or salt flakes to chocolate, caramel etc has become very popular so I wanted to add just a bit of salt to some caramel fudge with peanuts added until I came across this recipe by Stephanie from The Joy of Baking.

I'm warning you. This recipe is way too easy and just way too delicious and rich to be enjoyed too much. It is very similar to the centre of Reece's Peanut Butter Cup which also lends itself to another danger. One of my favourite ever combinations; chocolate and peanut butter.  See what you think and see how it compares to traditional fudge or a Peanut Butter Cup.

Salted Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup (240 ml) smooth peanut butter
1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound (4 cups) (450 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
extra peanuts, chopped finely for sprinkling on top
salt flakes, for sprinkling on top (optional)

  1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch (20 or 23 cm) square pan with aluminum foil or wax paper. Butter, or spray with a non stick cooking spray, the foil or wax paper.
  2. Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in a large microwaveable bowl and cook in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high. Stir and continue to microwave (if needed) until the ingredients are completely melted. Then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Spread the fudge into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  3. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and salt flakes.
  4. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm (at least two hours).
  5. To serve, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Remember, blame Stephanie, not me!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 - Domesblissity in review

This was my first year of blogging and what a great time I've had. Blogging about what I do on a daily basis seemed to make my life sound a bit more interesting than it actually was. Occasionally I'd get 'blogger's block' and find something meaningless and boring to write about and most times these posts attracted the most number of comments. I've had some interesting searches bring readers to my blog as well as my loyal followers, checking in on a daily basis to the drivel that exudes from my fingertips. I'm forever grateful that you've joined me in 2011 for the ride and I hope you'll find something more interesting that tantalises your tastebuds in 2012.

Posts attracting most number of hits

10 ways to use up strawberries

Top 5 albums by band

Rudolph's spare nose gift + printable

Butter is better

DIY blank board books

Top 5 visiting countries

United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand

Top 5 commenters

Megan @ Declutter Daily

Tonia @ The Gunny Sack

Lee @ Mummy Issues: Part 2

Sarah @ People Don't Eat Enough Fudge

Jane @ Tea & Vegemite Toast

A couple of my favourite posts

The best cake recipe

Using your parenting skills for paid work

Zuppa di Fagioli Rossi (Red Bean Soup)

Madame Methusalah's Beauty Parlour

Guilty pleasures

IHeart OrganizingMy daily 'must read' (in addition to my top commenters above)

I heart organizing

ikat bag

One Pretty Thing

Joy the Baker

David Lebowitz

I've got about 300 blogs in my Google Reader that I spend way too much time reading and not enough time 'doing'. I am going to be more strict with myself and my computer time in 2012 and limit it to the evenings. I really need to get the house in order, spend some time doing stuff for me (other than reading people's blogs) and getting fit and healthy. Thanks again for being here with me in 2011 and getting an insight into an attempt at a 'domesblisstic' life.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 entertaining ideas with puff pastry

[photo source]
With the Christmas/New Year party season well and truly upon us, I don't think you can go past the humble ready made, frozen, puff pastry to throw together a few appetisers for when company comes around. I always have it in the freezer and even with a couple sheets and some grated cheese, I can produce some cheesy pastry sticks to nibble on with drinks. Here's a few of my favourite ideas.

1.  Sausage Rolls

2.  Pigs in Blankets (this recipe has jalepenos and cheese added)
3.  Caprese Tarts
4.  Parmesan Puff Sticks
5.  Savoury Palmiers
6.  Champagne Chicken Vol au Vents
7.  Pastry spoons (these are topped with a Crab Rangoon)
8. Curry puffs
9.  Vegetable Samosas
10. Asparagus & Proscuitto Spirals
Okay. Now I'm hungry. Just wish I was having friends over for New Year's Eve so I could prepare some of these. Remember to work with what you've got.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 'wrap up'

Well, Christmas is over for another year and the thought of packing up the decorations again just makes me sigh, in a bad way. No sooner have I got them out, it seems, and I have to pack them away. It really is worth it though.

Our Christmas was a little sad this year with the passing of a loved one but other than that I felt that the lead up to Christmas went relatively smoothly. What really saved me and kept me in check was my Silly Season Check List.  Unfortunately, both of my children's birthdays are in November and no matter how hard I think moving their birthdays to June will help, it's always going to be a busy time of year because it also coincides with end of school break up.

There were White Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies for the Kindy teachers plus a coffee gift voucher. Also a plate of Rudolph Cookies for break up day and a Rudolph spare red nose gift for each of my son's Kindy friends.

There were Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti baked for my daughter's teachers plus a personalised notebook and matching pen.  For her school friends, there was a Christmas eraser given to each friend.

After school break up we had a few days at the beach (we were at the beach but stayed around the pool at the resort). A quick, last minute Advent calendar was put together using baby socks, the tree was up and the stockings were hung (well, not really - the house was made a little more festive).

Christmas Day lunch was a low key affair. We were at Mum's and I was in charge of the coleslaw, a trifle cake and plum pudding.

In retrospect, I wish I was a little more organised, that is, to have a lot more Christmas things made by the time my kid's birthdays rolled around but my best piece of advice would be to have nothing planned for the week leading up to Christmas.
  • If there's last minute cookie baking, have the dough made and kept in the freezer so you can bake just before Christmas Day.
  • Try doing your grocery shopping online, if it is available in your area.
  • Let the kids fend for themselves, that is playtime. Don't feel like you have to organise Christmas craft, outings or Gingerbread House workshops (that's me) for them. I think my kids had more fun playing during this time because they weren't rushing around, in and out of the car, always having to be somewhere. We had sleep ins, late breakfasts and a relaxing time.
  • KISS: Keep it simple. Have easy meals, take neighbourhood walks looking at Christmas lights, call a loved one or watch Christmas movies with the kids.
  • Involve the children in last minute gift baking or cooking. My kids helped me bake cookies and fudge and the recipients appreciated it more.
If you don't have much planned for that final week, it allows a lot more time and a lot less stress should something come up like illness or helping someone out.

I really am going to create a Christmas To Do list next month (that is January 2012) which I can check off as I go.

Christmas Day at Mum's was very pleasant. There was lots of food, catching up with family members and a mild, warm day. The food was eaten before the flies knew we were eating outside. We didn't over eat and we loved hooking into leftovers for our evening meal. There was more of the same on Boxing Day.

A few photos from the day.

Doing the present 'happy dance'
Willy opening his present
Bonnie, the Guardian of the Santa sack

Lame Christmas cracker jokes

I hope you had a lovely Christmas day. Is there anything different you'd do next year?


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Faith makes all things possible,
Hope makes all things work,
Love makes all things beautiful,
May you have all the three for this Christmas.

From my family to yours, may you have a wonderful, joyous Christmas season, enjoying lots of good food, company and making memories.  

I'll have a couple of posts scheduled for the next couple of days but I'll catch you all closer to the New Year period.

With all my love,
Anne xx


Saturday, December 24, 2011

No fuss steamed plum pudding

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the No Fuss Fudge Cake recipe I've mentioned on the blog before is fan-bloody-tastic! I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but I thought I'd try making it into a steamed Plum Pudding for Christmas and it worked absolutely beautifully. I can't take a cross-section photo just yet because they're being saved for Christmas Day lunch but the bits I picked off were delicious and the cake was a very similar texture to a traditional plum pudding.

I only decided late to make them so had the dried fruit steeped in a little whisky for about a week but you can do that months in advance. You can make the puddings months in advance too but I think I'd find that too tempting.

The other good thing was I made 6 individual puddings using coffee cups as the moulds and steamed them in the slow cooker for 2 hours. When finished, allow to cool, wrap in plastic wrap and will microwave for about 30 seconds when ready to serve.

No Fuss Steamed Plum Puddings

1 and half cups plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 cup sugar
juice of 1 orange made up to 1 cup water
zest from 1 orange
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped finely       }
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped finely  }   (basically any dried fruit up to 1 cup)
enough whisky/rum/brandy/port to cover dried fruit (for non alcoholic, use fruit juice)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
half teaspoon salt
  1. Soak dried fruit in alcohol (or fruit juice) as long as possible before making puddings. (I had steeped for about 1 week.)
  2. Heat water in slow cooker on high before making pudding mix. Ensure water will go three quarters up the side of pudding dish/s.
  3. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa and juice/water in a bowl. Add soaked fruit, zest, vinegar, oil, baking soda and salt. Mix until smooth.
  4. Pour into greased and lined moulds or a pudding basin. Cover in aluminium foil. (You can grease the foil to avoid sticking but I didn't and there wasn't much cake that stuck.)
  5. Place in slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours for individual moulds and approximately 4 hours for a pudding basin. (I would check after each hour with a skewer to check that cake is cooked. Also, ensure the the height of the water is retained.)
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Warm through in microwave and serve with custard and/or ice cream.

I'm sure if you cooked this in an oven, you'd have near enough to a lovely moist, rich Christmas cake. The wonders never cease with this recipe.

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