Thursday, April 3, 2014

Be Kind to yourself

It has been a while since I have blogged for many reasons one being I upload a majority of my recipes and delicious foodies treats to facebook and Instagram. However I do love blogging so thought I would continue and my cooking has gone back to doing what I love.
I have always had a passion for baking/ cooking a dish however making it really healthy and creating a recipe so delicious that the person eating it has no knowledge of it.
For me bringing health into cooking is just amazing it means I can have my fav meals but without the additives, chemicals or processed ingredients.
Another reason I am being kind to myself and to many others is because my beloved Aunty Jessie died last year of Multiple Myeloma ( a form of blood cancer). I did some research and MM has now increased and it seems one in every 5 people are getting it.I did some more research and found the food we are eating now is very different to that of 30 or 40 years ago. So my mission is to strip back to shop for organic, to buy food or items that do not contain chemicals and preservatives or processed harsh toxins. This ranges from cleaning agents/(yes you can buy cleaning agents that don't have harsh chemicals in it). Make up products and of course cooking ingredients.
We can always choose better some of us just need to be educated on the topic.
(The top picture is a strawberry and almond cake - dairy and sugar free and that will be in the next blog).

Most of my recipes will be based on a raw organic diet but I promise they will be delicious and you will start thinking "this is so easy".

Sugar Free . Dairy free .
Try my amazing chocolate truffles

Amazeballs Chocolate Truffles
1 cup dates
1 cup almonds
2 tablespoons vanilla extract ...
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil - melted
1 cup desiccated coconut

Put dates and almonds in food processor till combined. Add rest of ingredients (use half the coconut the other half is to roll the truffles in).
The mixture should be firm enough to roll balls. If not add a teaspoon or two of cold water.
Roll each chocolate ball in the coconut.
Place truffles in fridge and you have your guilt free treat.

Iced Coffee Smoothie -
I try and stay away from Dairy as much as I can I honestly do not miss it. Please try some coconut water next time you want a smoothie or "milkshake" .
Dairy Free with a added kick of protein.
Add 1 cup Coconut water, vanilla protein powder, organic instant coffee powder (I mix it with a dash of hot water first) 1 teaspoon stevia. Blend ... Enjoy.

I am researching some main courses and of course the amazing Hot Cross Bun recipe will be up thgis will be GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE. YAY!

Until next time know what you are eating and be kind to yourself.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's cold outside ...I think I'll bake...

Winter has truly arrived with it's crisp chilly mornings and nights filled with blankets and the need to keep warm. I actually love Winter. Really? You say....Yes really. I love the fruit and vegetable available in winter.
Delicious pumpkins and beets arriving, along with different types of beans. Going on to my favourite the citrus fruits are everywhere...Mandarins, oranges, and lets not forget the delicious and sweet Pears (my favourite are the Packenham Pears and the small and sweet Corella Pears are my absolute must have).
I have also been researching and coming up with healthy treats and ways to nourish our bodies and the first way is to LOVE it right now and the second is to restore it with healthy fruits and way is with Kale. Kale is so amazing and is packed with iron and protein and if you are like me and don't really eat that much red meat then this baby is for you.

I tend to make a shake with Kale and some other yummy stuff.
I have been emailing a lot of my Facebook followers about yeast and "why didn't my bread/dough rise"? I will be answering those questions here too.


  • 4 stalks kale
  • 4 celery stems
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2″ ginger grated
  • Cold water (optional, to help items blend together more smoothly)
  • Blend the items together in a heavy duty blender and enjoy.

    I have a sweet tooth there I said it...But fear not there are days when I crave chocolate but I like to be able to have a treat without the added flavorings or  the additives etc.  I  like an easy recipe, one that is delicious and that hidden under the chocolate is a healthy cookie.
    You have to try these cookies these are so chewy and YUM !!!


    Ren's Healthy Oat, Banana & Dark Chocolate Cookie

    2 bananas - soft and mashed
    1 cup oats - you can use the quick oats I used regular Oats
    1/4 cup Dark chocolate chips

    Pre-heat oven to 180c.
    Mash banana and add oats and choc bits mix well and form into balls. Drop into a tray.
    Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until lovely golden brown.

    "My dough didn't rise"?  
    I have heard this so often and here are my tips on why your bread or dough isn't rising.
    TIP 1 - Usually at the start of any baking you will need to introduce the yeast to a warm liquid . Make sure here that your liquid is WARM not hot or cold. If the liquid is hot you will "retard" the yeast and the yeast stops working and if the liquid is too cold then the yeast has nothing to help it grow. The liquid must be warm.
    TIP 2 -  Check the use by date on the yeast you are using if it's off then throw it out. You should always have fresh yeast when baking (dry or fresh).
    TIP 3 - One of the most important steps is proving. Proving is when you allow your dough to rest and this is when the yeast goes to work. So for example half a dough in one hour should double in size if it doesn't just wait. Baking is all about being patient.
    TIP 4- Check the weather, yes weather... If it's a cold chilly day like in Winter then you will want a warm environment to prove your day all of these things make for a beautiful dough. If it is cold make sure you have everything warm and nothing is cold that is added to the dough.
    One thing I really love about Winter is the ability to LOVE a big bowl of Minestrone soup. I use whatever I have available and like feel free to play around with the recipe . This is delicious and keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
    MINESTRONE "old school"
    1 onion - diced
    2 cloves garlic - crushed  
    3 rashers bacon diced (vegetarian leave out)
    2 carrots diced
    1/2 red capsicum diced
    2 celery stalks diced
    2 zucchinis sliced
    1 cup of frozen Peas
    Half a cauliflower cut into small florets
    1 can of Kidney beans - washed and drained
    1/2 cup of soup mix - found in the soup aisle
    1 cup of small Italian pasta (I use mini pasta shells)
    1 litre Vegetable stock
    1 bottle of Tomato sauce or 2 cans crushed tomatoes
    Salt / Pepper
    HOW TO
    Heat pan with little oil and add garlic, onion and bacon stir till onions appear clear.
    Add carrot, capsicum, celery and stir.
    Add the rest of the vegetables and soup mix  and stir.
    Add stock till it covers all the vegetables and bring to the boil. (You want to cook all the vegetables here).
    Add Kidney beans, tomato sauce and pasta  and stir. Taste to see if it needs seasoning.
    Bring to the boil then turn it on low and simmer for 45 minutes. 
    Stir and serve with fresh bread. 
    Be sure to check out my Facebook page - Laughing Chef for regular updates on all things cooking.
    Keep on cooking and watch out for some Laughing Chef news coming your way!!

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue and FUN!

    I wanted to let you know that I post regularly to Laughing Chef on Facebook and don't really have the time to post on my blog but better late than never.
    However if you want regular recipe ideas etc go to Laughing Chef on Facebook and "like" the page. 

    My "little" sister Natalie got married on the 13th April.... after so many wedding "get togethers"  and discussions of the wedding dress, bridesmaids and maid of honor dress, flowers, wedding.... wedding..... wedding it was here.
    Natalie asked me to be Maid of Honor and it was "a honor" indeed.  The day came and went so quickly and to be perfectly honest it was one of the best weddings I have been to. I think because everyone was there to celebrate LOVE  and have fun!!

    I don't like to say or pick favourite  parts of the day  but I am going to, my favourite part of the wedding was seeing my sister Natalie walking towards her soon to be husband JD (James). I literally felt like I was holding my breath and then I thought "It's not me".

    My next Favourite part and there are a lot but I will keep it short, was when my now brother in law James made his speech and went through each groomsmen and said something about them and then went through each bridesmaid and myself and said something about the ladies. It wasn't until he got to me and said "You were a hard one to crack"  and "If it wasn't for you Natalie and I wouldn't have been here". It really made me feel special. Nice one James.
    Apart from the crazy dance moves I remember doing and laughing so much my face hurt I can honestly say ... It was fun a room definitely full of love !

    My sister Natalie was the perfect princess looking Bride I have ever seen. So beautiful her dream dress, dream day and dream man. (Oh and I caught the bouquet).

    Now this should be about food and recipes etc well my sister ordered a Double chocolate mud cake (below) as her wedding cake ...Yum.

    Here is my version for a quick and easy Chocolate Mud Cake.

    Easy Peasy Chocolate Mud Cake


    Melted butter, for greasing

    200g butter, chopped

    100g good-quality dark cooking chocolate (like Plaistowe Cooking Chocolate), chopped

    60mls (1/4 cup) water

    30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder, sifted

    2 tbs espresso instant coffee powder

    1 tsp vanilla essence

    220g (1 cup) caster sugar

    3 eggs, at room temperature

    115g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour, sifted


    Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a deep 22cm round cake pan with melted butter to grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.

    Combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, coffee and vanilla essence in a medium saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, over low heat for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and well combined. (See microwave tip 1.) Remove from heat and stand for 10 minutes or until mixture is lukewarm.

    Meanwhile: use electric beaters to whisk sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour and whisk until combined.

    Pour the mixture into prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes or until crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. (Do not be concerned if the surface cracks a little).

    Remove from the oven and stand in the pan for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

    Spread icing (see related recipe) over the cooled cake. Leave to stand for 30 minutes or until the icing is firm. Cut the cake with a warm knife to prevent the icing from cracking.

    I have had a few people email me asking "pretty please" for some healthy breakfast ideas....Well here is one that is so quick and super healthy and delicious.

    Hot crunchy Toast with sweet ricotta topped with juicy strawberries drizzled in ...honey.....Healthy and quick.
    This is dedicated to my sister Natalie who has always had her own cool language....

    Nat's Berry Berry Good Toast

    2 slices raisin toast
    40g fresh ricotta
    1/2 tsp caster sugar
    a pinch of ground cinnamon
    4 strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
    honey, to serve


    Step 1
    Toast raisin toast. Combine ricotta, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the toast. Arrange strawberries on top of the ricotta mixture. Drizzle over honey and serve immediately.
    Note : If you do not like strawberries replace with your favourite berry.

    Make sure you head to Laughing Chef on Facebook for regular posts. Until next time get in that kitchen and get cooking!!!

    PS. Just had to share how cool my mum is she made her own Lavender  layered Chiffon Dress and Jacket for my sister's wedding.... Talented ...Tick.

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Gina's Love

    Yes it has been a while since my last blog post and to be honest I haven't really thought that much about it. January was the most chaotic month I have ever had as I am writing I am may as well describe the chaotic madness that was January.

    Ok so first up my Aunty Gina passed away she was extremely ill but that didn't make it easier to say goodbye. I constantly think about her and what makes me smile is her disposition. She was always so happy and  she had very little she never asked for much and still this amazing  lady would smile. I think a lot more people need to be like her.

    Gina and I would chat a lot when she was in hospital and she would tell me about her sons Danny and Sean and  how she was happy we were close and then she would go onto saying "Could you be there for both of my boys". This totally threw me off as I thought 'how and what could I do for her two sons'...and then when she passed I realized ....unconditional support and love with nothing in return that's what she meant.
    Rest in peace Gina. Miss you more than you will ever know...x

    The next chaotic event that occurred was my Aunty Bub went into hospital prior to the passing of my aunty Gina but she was having tests and my mum would usually go with her but the third even occurred and that is my Dad went into hospital for quadruple bypass..... So that meant I was going to see both my aunty's and then my dad in all separate hospitals and then the same day my dad went into hospital my sister Eloise gave birth...... Yes that all happened.....Crazy stuff!!
    But you know what I focus on one thing at a time ...My aunty Gina is at peace now, My dad now has a brand new heart....My aunty Bub had the relevant tests she needed and is out and about and my sister Eloise had the most beautiful baby girl. So as much as it was a crazy month it was a life changing month..

    Ok I need to write this as I wasn't aware when a patient has heart surgery ( I am talking heart out on a table for 7 hours) well your brain goes into shock. Therefore you say some pretty weird things... My family and I laugh about it now but in the hospital my Dad was freaking me out. The first thing he said was "where is Robin hood"? ..... The next was in answer to a question "what year is it Charlie"? " .... My dad replied, "uh 1977"? Say what....But this only lasted three freaky days and happy to report my Dad is doing so well.

    My sisters little girl is so beautiful she named her Blythe Mary Tonkin and it is so precious holding her.

    Alright so this is a food blog.... one recipe that I have been asked over and over for yet is SO simple is can crunch it up and put in yoghurt or simply pop it in a jar and give it as a gift......or just eat it as a snack. It is so easy ......

    Good-for-you granola

    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    125ml maple syrup
    2 tbsp honey
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    300g rolled oats
    50g sunflower seeds
    4 tbsp sesame seeds
    50g pumpkin seeds
    100g flaked almonds
    100g dried cranberries
    50g coconuts flakes or desiccated coconut

    Heat oven to 150C/fan . Mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut, and mix well.
    Tip the granola onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 15 mins, then mix in the coconut and dried fruit, and bake for 10-15 mins more. Remove and scrape onto a flat tray to cool. Serve with cold milk or yogurt. The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

    I will be compiling a list of some yummy healthy recipes for EASTER and will post those next blog....which will be start of next week.
    Includes the easiest Hot Cross Bun recipe, a muffin recipe that you wished you knew ages ago and my delicious frittata recipe.

    Keep on cooking and smiling in the Kitchen!


    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Mum,are we going to the show?


    Every year from the age of about 5 I guess...I would ask my parents( my mum mainly) if we were going to the Royal Melbourne Show. The answer would always be "we'll see", which I hated as I wanted a definite YES!

    The show back then for me as a kid was about obtaining a Barbie showbag and a Bertie Beetle showbag of course,a kewpie doll on a stick and stuffing your face with Fairy Floss.
    My childhood was revisited when my mum and I went to the show this year together. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect sunny day.

    Looking at the gorgeous animals, the people walking around with balloons and showbags,big kids and little kids screaming from the "Pirate Ship" ride.. ..I was still excited.
    This year however something that really made me excited was going to the Craft and Cookery events. My mum loves sewing and anything that involves a needle so she loved the Crafe Hall.

     I watched the 2012  Fruit Cake being judged, a well groomed lady stood with gloves on, carefully slicing up a fruit cake and chewing slowly while she either nodded approvingly or said into her microphone, " this one was cooked too long".

    My mum and I had a coffee and we tried the  Award winning fruit cake(pic below) with a fruit cake recipe card (above) and we both looked at each other and said "we can do this"...The award winning fruit cake was yum though.

    There was a Food Hall where I tried "Espresso ice cream" it was really yum and Karen Martini was right beside me buying ice cream.
    I am not going to lie the Show bag Hall still had me giggling and 'Oohing and aahing' like a kid...
    The whole ambience of being able to travel back in time by  being at the show was so much fun.
    I did buy showbags which was the  Bertie beetle show bags which  are still the same price $5... and I brought pink, fluffy and every so sweet  Fairy Floss on a stick (below)and then we found this cute little stall that sold cheap cookie cutters so I was in my element there.

    Mum brought me a Kewpie doll on a stick as whenever I went as a kid my Dad would get my sisters and I one. Although back in the 80s my kewpie never had glitter on her head.. ...I was very content with my new kewpie Doll.

    Being at the show got me thinking of fruit cake and making my own so I will be testing out a few recipes and posting my fav next blog.

    I have been getting into Baking bread recently and two items that were a hit at my place were "Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia and Olive bread rolls".  The thing with baking bread is patience you can't rush this...You need to wait for the yeast to prove (activate) and knead the dough and then let it rest and then bake it and you have the most amazing smelling house..... Well a bakery really.

    Focaccia is my favourite type of Italian bread.It’s really easy to make I have gone with the traditional Garlic and Rosemary but you can add tomato and basil or whatever topping you desire.



    • 1kg strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
     625ml water, at room temperature
     3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
    2 tablespoons raw sugar
     sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    olive oil
     1 bulb garlic
    a few sprigs of  fresh  rosemary


    • Tip your flour  into a large bowl
    • Pile it nice and high, then make a well in the middle to hold all the other ingredients
    • Pour half the water into the well then tip in 3 sachets of yeast

    To make your dough

    • Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of sea salt to the well
    • Use a fork to gradually bring in the flour from the outside
    • Once you get a stodgy, porridge consistency in the well, add the rest of the water and gradually incorporate the flour to make a smooth dough

    To knead your dough

    • Dust a clean work surface and your hands with flour, then knead the dough, pushing and pulling it for about 5 minutes until it’s silky, springy and elastic
    • Make the dough into a flat round shape and pop into a floured bowl
    • Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size

    To make your bread

    • Knock the air out of your bread using your fist then lightly flour your surface and knead it again until smooth
    • Grease a baking tin (approximately 25cm by 30cm) well with olive oil and dust it lightly with flour (I use a deep baking tray).
    • Roll or stretch the dough out until it’s the right size for the baking tin and put it in the tin

    • Break the garlic bulb apart or you can mince it , leaving the skins on, then squash each one with the back of a knife
    • Strip the leaves off your sprigs of rosemary
    • Drizzle the garlic cloves and rosemary leaves with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix

    • Scatter the garlic and rosemary over the dough then use your fingers to push the flavours in and make little dimples on the surface
    • Drizzle the dough with olive oil, cover with a tea towel then place the tray somewhere warm and leave for 1 hour, or until doubled in size
    • Preheat your oven to 220ºC

    • Poke the bread all over with your fingers again to give it great texture
    • Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper
    • Bake in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden with a crunchy surface

    I will be tesitng out fruit cake recipes as well as baking Christmas Gingerbread and I am also trying out a  tea inspired recipe I have in my head so until next time get into that kitchen and bake away!!

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Recipes to make your hips and you smile....

    Who says that eating healthy has to be all about cardboard cereal and boring food ....Not true!!
    I am on a super health kick and I thought why not use my cookery knowledge to come up with some yummy dessert and savoury snack recipes.

    The recipe below is a take on the delicious cheesecake recipe...(This is would be for a treat day as it does contain cream and cream cheese . So it's perfect for a special day and one glass is filling)


    For the Crust
    3/4 cup Arnotts Marie biscuit crumbs
    1 tablespoon icing sugar
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

    For the Filling
    250 grams package light cream cheese, softened ( leave out at room temperature)
    3 tablespoons caster sugar
    250 grams fresh pineapple, pureed
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    250 mls whipped cream

    For the Garnish
    whipped cream
    fresh pineapple chopped

    1. In a medium bowl, stir together the biscuit crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

    2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in pureed pineapple and vanilla and stir - mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until well combined.

    3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into prepared individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

    4. Garnish with additional whipped cream and fresh chopped pineapple.

    The next recipe is for snack time so when you are wanting to lose some weight or basically want to eat healthy. Then having protein as a snack is what you want to be doing. These babies below are so delicious and SO easy to make.


    5 eggs beaten
    4 rashers bacon chopped
    1/2 cup light milk
    salt / pepper to season
    Parsley chopped
    Parmaesan cheese - grated
    Canola spray - for greasing muffin tin

    Heat oven to 180c.
    Add eggs to bowl and beat and milk and salt and pepper. Mix well.
    Add bacon, cheese and parsley. MIx well.
    Spray a muffin tin with canola oil spray and place tablespoons of mixture  in tray.
    Bake for 20 minutes or until fluffy and golden brown.

    My sister Eloise told me about these cookies she had at work and how easy they were to make not to mention they were gluten free and super healthy ...So here they are!!
    Perfect for breakfast with a protein smoothie or for an afternoon sn...

    3 ripe bananas
    2 cups (185g) rolled oats
    1 cup (155g) currants pitted and chopped or you can use Dried Apricots or Dates
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla Extract

    Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 20 minutes
    1.Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
    2.In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in oats, dates, oil, and vanilla. Mix well, and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking tray.
    3.Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown.
    Next post will be about Baking bread  and yeasty good stuff and yes it's all healthy everything in moderation I say.
    Keep on cooking !!!!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Sugar , Spice and all things sweet and YUM !!

    For those that don't know yes I am a qualified chef but ever since I can remember I loved baking....Baking  cookies, cakes anything sweet really.

    So it wasn't until about 2 months ago I delved into my cookery passion and realised I love cooking anything sweet and this is what I want to do for a long long time to come. Don't get me wrong I love cooking savoury in all it's forms I just seem to gravitate towards baking sweet stuff alot....alot.

    Now baking anything sweet doesn't have to be really unhealthy as I have had this brought to my attention. I have made some delicious recipes that taste so good but are good on your waist line. Like my apricot and coconut raw balls (recipe to come) and my delicious Vanilla custard (recipe to come).
    For me it's all about measuring the ingredients, going out and buying the equipment and above all cooking it. I just love it.

    I made some scary chocolate cupcakes for my nephew Addison's 5th birthday in June. These were a really easy chcocolate cake  with chocolate buttercream and a scary green buttercream. Then the artist in me came out (well not really I just brought teeth lollies and went for it). It was so much fun and the kids and my nephew especially loved them.
    These would have to be the perfect cupcake to make with kids as it's fun and they can be as creative as like wish.
    I also made chocolate cupcakes for my sister Michelle's 40th Birthday with a rich white buttercream and a pink buttercream. So easy and simple and I decorated them with a dusting of clear glitter and silver cachous.

    My beautiful sister Natalie got engaged so I put my hand up to make her cupcake engagement tower. Her colour theme was gold and mauve so I came up with mini chocolate cupcakes with white butter cream and chocolate butter cream. A mauve fondant heart was placed on top of each cupcake sprinkled with mauve edidble glitter.

    My sister Natalie and her partner James loved them! Congratulation's again to Nat and JD!! xx

    I was out shopping the other day and I stumbled upon this Barbie it has to be mine.
    Panackae Making Barkie....

    Next blog I will be including recipes for the easiest No bake cheesecake so quick and delicious and a must know recipe for your baking needs.

    Until next time keep on cooking !!