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!