Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week Eleven

Another recipe with coffee this week.  I have few words this week so I'm going to get pretty much straight into the recipe. I did want to add that this is the first time I've used an electric beater for years!  I must say it was so much easier and required much less effort.  Before this is was just my wooden spoon and my arm muscles. I think I creamed the butter and sugar a bit better too because it was so easy.  Thanks to my mother for giving me her electric beater!

Warning: This cookie is super sweet with the frosting, so if you do not like super sweet then I would advise using either a cranberry glaze or a thin coating of the frosting.  I'm in a sugar coma after tasting the frosting then eating a cookie.

Espresso Cookies with Cranberry Frosting

175g unsalted butter
1 heaped cup of caster (fine) sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
3 heaped Tbsp ground coffee
3 Tbsp espresso coffee (or very very strong brewed coffee)

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add egg, ground coffee and vanilla extract and beat into butter and sugar.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with a spoon, then add espresso and mix well.  Roll dough into golf ball sized balls and slightly flatten on baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes at 300F then  remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

1/2 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioners sugar

In a saucepan, simmer the cranberries, water and 1/2 cup sugar until it reaches the thick syrupy stage (about 15-20 minutes simmering) and then let cool.  Beat confectioners sugar and butter until light and fluffy then add cooled cranberry sauce.  Beat again for several minutes then spread on cooled cookies.

Week 11 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week Ten

I made this last year as a Christmas gift for a workmate.  I placed it in a clear box with a pretty ribbon and she was thrilled at the gift; mainly at how it was presented because she said it looked so professional but also the taste.  I personally love almonds and coffee.  There isn't much I don't like really when it comes to food and flavours but almonds and coffee are definitely one of my many favourite flavours.  This isn't a cookie per se but something you could include in a gift or a cookie tray as an alternative.  This recipe comes from the Australian magazine "Super Food Ideas" which is packed with fantastic recipes each month.  I particularly love the Christmas issues because they always have great ideas.

Almond and Coffee Bean Brittle

1 1/2 cups caster sugar (fine white sugar)
1/2 cup glucose syrup
2 cups blanched almonds
1/2 cup almond kernels
2 tablespoons coffee beans, crushed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Grease a 20cm x 30cm pan.  Place sugar, syrup, 1/4 cup cold water and a pinch of salt in a pan.  Cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high and bring to the boil.  Cook, without stirring for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add blanched almonds.  Cook for 10-12 minutes on low to medium heat, swirling pan occasionally or until sugar turns golden.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, combine almond kernels, coffee beans, vanilla and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.  Carefully add to sugar mixture.  Stir to combine.  Pour mixture evenly over base of pan.  I used 2 x round pans because I didn't have a rectangular pan.  Set aside for 2 hours or until cooled completely.  using the end of a rolling pin, break into pieces.

Week 10 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Motivation Diary: 2nd December

No chance of that walk this morning; I didn't even hear my alarm go off (I turned it off and immediately went back to sleep).  I had to get Matt to pull me out of bed this morning.  SO TIRED.
Two more days of work to go this week!

I didn't post my training from yesterday so I will try and get to that tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Cookies This Week!

I didn't have time this weekend to participate in the 12 Weeks Of Christmas Cookies!   Boohoo!  I find my social calendar is either feast or famine;  usually I will have nothing on for weeks and then next thing you know I have things on Friday, Saturday and Sunday!  This weekend I had to go into the city on Friday evening to get a special Christmas gift, on Saturday I had a workmate's farewell and then on Sunday I had my sister, brother in law and niece over for lunch.  By the time they had left, I was just far too tired to attempt to do any more cooking and my kitchen was a mess anyway.

If I have time to today (and energy) I will try and make something this afternoon/evening.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Motivation Diary: Nov 25

I had plans to get up for a walk before work today but when my alarm went off I was feeling like a train hit me, run over me, then backed up over me.  Gah.  This is what I hate about training; I just feel soooo tired.  I was also annoyed at my alarm because I was dreaming of holding and snuggling cute baby bunnies (yes I am nuts and I dream of cute rabbits in my sleep HAHA!).  Reminds me of the days I would dream of picking up a donut and just as I was about to bite into it my mother would wake me up for school.  LOL!

No chance of me going to do any activity today after work because I have a long 11 hour shift at work today.  It is unheard of for me to be able to get up early on Fridays or Saturdays because I am usually so tired from the week... *sigh* my plans for a walk in the morning before work are sucking!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Twelve Weeks Of Christmas Cookies: Week Eight

I promise this is my last installment of Christmas Truffles.  To recap, on week six I made a traditional Christmas truffle made from a ganache.  On week seven I made a Christmas truffle from New Zealand's favourite cookbook "Edmonds Cookery Book".  This week is a healthy twist on truffles.  It's made with dates, nuts, oats and spices.  It was inspired by The Vegan Table and Oh She Glows.

Do you have a friend that is a health freak but also enjoys their sweets?  These truffles would make the perfect gift!  That is if there is enough left after you've sampled them *wink*

Christmas Truffles (The Healthy Version)

1 1/2 cups almonds
30 dates, soaked in hot water*
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder

For decorating
shredded coconut
cocoa powder
sesame seeds

*I used dried dates, but if you use Medjool dates, then only use 20 and do not soak in water.

Place oats and almonds into a food processor and process until fine.  Add in dates (drained from water), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & cocoa and process until it forms a ball or has formed a consistency to form small balls when rolled.  Using your hands, roll mixture into small balls and then roll into coconut, cocoa powder or sesame seeds.  You can use other decorations if you wish but remember to use something healthy (or else it will ruin the name ha-ha!).  Place in refrigerator to chill and harden.  These should keep for quite a while!

Week 8 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Monday, November 15, 2010

In My Lunchbox: Episode Four

I've been a little disorganised lately and a bit tired, so lunch has been made on a whim.  For the past couple of days before work, I've just whipped up a simple fruit salad made with in season fruit.  The tangelo comes from my mother's tree.  She is always trying to push either grapefruit or tangelos on me when I visit...haha!

The salad is size large of course (my style) and served with a side of plain yogurt sweetened with a little Splenda.  I usually dip the fruit into the yogurt as I eat it.


Frozen Raspberries

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

My co workers birthday was on Friday just gone, and instead of buying her a gift (I'm broke anyway.... or perhaps just cheap LOL) I decided to bake her a batch of cupcakes. She doesn't tend to eat goodies like this on a day to day basis which is probably why she keeps her slim figure, but I knew she would make an exception for her birthday.

This recipe is from a book called "Cupcakes: The Complete Edition"
It has no author that I can see (weird) so perhaps it's a compilation from several cooks. Who knows, but the recipe was fantastic so cheers to the original cook who came up with these. My co worker really enjoyed them and appreciated the fact that I made her something. I mean, really, the best gifts are hand made aren't they??

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
125g greek or plain yogurt
2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp poppy seeds
juice of 1 lemon
grated lemon rind of 2 lemons

1.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
125g butter, softened
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add eggs and beat until well combined.  Add in flour, yogurt, poppy seeds, lemon juice and rind and beat for a further minute or two.

Spoon into muffin tins lined with paper cups and place in oven for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine all ingredients into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Spread onto each cupcake with a butter knife.

C'mon, bite me.... know you want to

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Twelve Weeks Of Christmas "Cookies": Week Seven

The Edmond's Cookbook is a Kiwi icon. It was the only cookbook in my mother's house and I used to stare at the pictures of the party cakes all the time. Something about the pretty cakes, happy children's faces and  the variety of goodies in the picture made me dream a little as a kid.   The edition I have has different pictures now though. It is sold in pretty much all bookstores under the cookery section and it is also sold in most supermarkets, not in the book section but in the bakery section.

It says:
"The essential cook book for very kitchen, the Edmonds Cookery Book enables the user to cook with confidence and pride. With over 3 million copies sold to date the Edmonds Cookery Book is the biggest selling cook book in New Zealand's history"

Now the reason I'm telling you all this is because my recipe this week comes straight out of the Edmonds Cookery Book. I mentioned last week that I found several ways to make truffles and this one was the first recipe for truffles I had known. I remember making this recipe for the first time about 15 years ago on Christmas Eve for the family so we go way back.

Honestly, I like the truffles from this recipe better than the recipe from last week. They are a lot sweeter, but have a more chocolate fudge taste which definitely has more mainstream appeal.

Without further ado....

Chocolate Truffles 
(part deux)

50g butter
100g dark chocolate
1 cup icing/confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp rum
1 tsp cocoa
chocolate sprinkles

Put butter and chocolate into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until butter and chocolate have melted. Add 1/2 cup of the icing sugar. Stir until mixture is thick enough to handle. Stir in rum and coca. Add enough of the remaining icing sugar to make a stiff mixture. Shape mixture into balls. Roll in coconut and chocolate hale. Chill until firm. Makes about 15

Stay tuned next week on Week Eight for yet another version of Christmas Truffles from me.  This one is a healthy version and will definitely be a bit of an experiment for me as I've never made anything like it before!

Check out what everyone else made this week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daisy Eats Grass

For all you animal/bunny lovers out there.  Here's a short video of little Daisy enjoying some grass!  Since the guy that mows the lawn here is so efficient I have to go to my mother's house to gather some long grass for her.  I also usually raid her vegetable garden too, which she doesn't mind of course because she can't eat it all.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I want to quit lifting.

There, I said it.

I'm sick of it.  I've lost motivation and I don't know how to get it back.  I'm desperate to get it back.  I've even toyed with the idea of doing bodybuilding again because I had so much motivation back then. Maybe I want the discipline I used to have but I don't want to put the work in.  Am I lazy or do I just have different interests now?  I don't know.

I do know that unlike most people I feel better physically when I don't work out.  I can actually get up in the morning for work without it being a huge struggle.  I enjoy that.  Mentally though, I feel so much better when I do work out.  I feel like I've accomplished something when I go to the gym and have a good weights session followed by a bit of heart pumping cardio.

One reason why I don't want to quit is because I've set myself some pretty big goals.  I wouldn't mind quitting lifting after I've met these goals but I would feel like a failure if I didn't reach these goals before I quit.
I have aimed to bench press 100kg raw for nearly two years now.  I've also set myself the goal of breaking the current Commonwealth record for the deadlift which at the moment is 190kg.  None of these goals can be reached if I sit on my ass.  They also cannot be reached if I go to the gym maybe once a week.  They require some commitment. Probably more than "some" commitment, more like a lot of commitment.

I don't know what to do.  I feel like I need a break for a month or two (at least) but I don't want to take one because if I do take a break my strength will dwindle and I don't want to spend a lot of time building my strength up.  I feel like I'm stuck!  I've thought about just sucking it up and making myself go to the gym but when it comes down to it I REALLY don't want to go.

These are my thoughts.  Do you have any thoughts or words of encouragement or wisdom? Help!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas "Cookies": Week Six

I steered away from a Christmas Cookie recipe this week and instead opted for a Christmas treat that can also be given as a gift: Truffles.  There are several ways to make Christmas truffles, the traditional method seems to be just a simple mixture of cream and dark chocolate with perhaps some flavouring in it.  I've always known truffles to have some kind of alcohol flavouring in it, so that's what I went for.  It seems the best concoction comes from almost a 1:1 ratio of cream (in ml) to dark chocolate (in grams).  This recipe is a mixure of different recipes I researched on the web for this week.  I also decorated my truffles whereas the traditional presentation seems to be to roll them in chopped nuts, flaked chocolate or coconut. Any opportunity to make things pretty!

Christmas Truffles 

150ml heavy cream
200g dark chocolate (70%)
20g unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp rum or brandy

Place cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add vanilla extract, stir then take off heat and let cool slightly.  Heat chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until melted.  Beat in unsalted butter and rum until smooth.  Add cream mixture and beat until smooth.  Place bowl in the refrigerator for several hours until chocolate mixture is firm, but not rock solid.  Form into small balls and decorate or roll in nuts, or coconut.  Keeps in the fridge for about a week.

Check out what everyone else made this week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Zucchini Pasta

I tried this dish for the first time a few weeks ago. I'm not a huge fan of regular pasta; I'll eat it but I won't seek it out if you know what I mean. I do love vegetables though so this was a perfect stand in dish for me. I've used zucchini before in place of pasta when I've made low carb lasagne. This was definitely a tasty addition to the low carb "pasta" repertoire. Have this dish in place of your normal pasta and serve with your own special pasta sauce.

Zucchini Pasta

2-3 large zucchini

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground sea salt and pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan

1. Using a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into lengthwise ribbons.

2. Cook the zucchini strips in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the zucchini ribbons and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, tossing and stirring the zucchini, for two to three minutes, until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and zucchini.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baby Bunny

Beware: The following video exhibits EXTREME Cuteness. Please consult your doctor before watching if you are prone to emotional reactions at fluffy baby animals.

My heart almost burst watching this. My favourite part was around 0:33 where all you can see is her little mouth eating and nose twitching...ahhhhh!! Also at the end where she finishes the flower and starts licking her lips then washing her little face. Awwwww *heart*

Friday, October 29, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week Five

I thought I was going to go in a different direction this week, but I guess I just haven't got spices out of my system.  Okay, I lie... I forgot a key ingredient from the store on what I was going to make (don't you hate that!) so I fell back on another idea I had planned for the future.  I didn't lie totally though, I really don't have spices out of my system.  I have only truly begun to appreciate them in the last year or so while broadening my horizons with cooking and baking.  What better way to feature a spice in it's own cookie.  Not a common spice in baking, but I've read it is a common spice in Indian cooking and used in Nordic countries.  The cookie itself is super simple to make with just a few ingredients. I bring you this week Cardamom Cookies....

Glazed Cardamom Cookies

Cookie Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaped tsp ground cardamom
1 cup flour

1 cup icing/confectioners sugar
1-2 Tbsp hot water
1/8 cup shortening
8-10 drops food colouring (optional)

Place butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Sift cardamom and flour over sugar and butter mixture and stir until combined.  Place dough between non stick paper and roll out to about 0.5cm thickness.  Cut out dough with cookie cutter shapes of your choice and re-roll dough scraps.  Again cut out with cookie cutters and repeat until all dough is gone.  Bake in oven @ 350F for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  To make the glaze, place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Brush glaze onto each cookie and decorate with cachous or sprinkles.  The glaze of course is optional, the cookies are perfectly tasty on their own! Makes 15-20 cookies.

Make sure you see what everyone else has made for Week Five:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Twelve Weeks Of Christmas Cookies: Week Four

Vanilla is probably one of my favourite flavourings.  I add it to almost all my baking, my protein shakes and smoothies; I love the stuff!  I always try and buy good quality vanilla extract, either in the form of a vanilla bean paste (which is quite potent!) or good organic liquid extract.  It's no surprise to me that I wanted to make a vanilla cookie.  I used a vanilla bean paste with this recipe so I could actually see the little vanilla bean seeds in the cookies.  The brandy frosting is pretty strong, but just a little drizzled on the cookie gives it a nice flavour boost. Brandy always reminds me of Christmas.  Onward to the recipe!

Brandy Frosted Vanilla Cookies 
150g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups icing/confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp brandy

In a clean bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg and add vanilla extract then beat until smooth. Sift in the flour and mix until well combined.With your hands (or a mixer if you have one) kneed the dough then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 350F.  Roll dough into about 1 1/4 inch balls and then flatten slightly.  Repeat until dough is gone.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, add all ingredients in a clean bowl until mixed.  Add water until you reach your desired consistency, I used about 1 Tbsp.  Drizzle onto the cookies and decorate with sprinkles or cachous if desired.

This is what everyone else baked for Week Four:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Twelve Weeks Of Christmas Cookies: Week Three

Another chocolate cookie recipe for me this week. No surprise in the middle this time, just a chocolate cookie with a twist: a chili twist! Sounds a bit weird but I promise you it's good. What better way to warm up around the Christmas tree than indulging in a cookie hidden with a warming spice like chili? This recipe was inspired by a couple of things. I had never heard of chili and chocolate together until I moved to Australia and worked next to a gourmet sweet store. They used to sell an array of gourmet chocolates, one of which was a little chocolate infused with chili flavour. My work mate used to absolutely love this chocolate; I used to turn my nose up at it until she made me sample it one day. Wow.... wonderful! 


The second thing that inspired me was Lindt's new chili chocolate. It's not exactly new new, but it came out a couple of years ago here and it's probably one of the only chocolate bars I buy regularly.


Anyway, enough chatting...onto the recipe!

Chili Chocolate Cookies

2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
50g dark chocolate
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp* chili
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few Tbsp sugar
red food colouring

*You can use anywhere from 1/2 tsp for a slightly warming flavour to 1 tsp for a definite chili finish.  I wouldn't go below 1/2 tsp though


Preheat oven to 350F

Prepare decorating sugar by placing a few tablespoons of white sugar in a small bowl and adding a few drops of red food colouring. Mix until it is evenly distrubuted.

In a clean bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg and add vanilla extract then beat until smooth. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture and combine with a metal spoon. Shape the dough into balls approx 1.5-2" diameter.

Smear a dab of butter all over the bottom of a glass, then dip the glass in the red sugar. Use the glass to flatten each ball of dough slightly, dipping again into the sugar each time.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.


Here's what everyone else got up to in the kitchen this week, for Week Three:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eye Exams: An Insight

Oh man, this one had me almost crying with laughter because it is so true!!! Probably only funny to optometrists or ophthalmologists, but here it is anyway.

I covet...

I love this dress from Victoria's Secret.  It's a convertible dress that you can change the style of yourself.

The red colour is probably the one I like the most, but it used to come in this bright green colour that would look awesome with my colouring.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Well Soon Daisy!

Daisy went in to the doctor's for her spay surgery yesterday. She's not having sex with boys or nothin'; I got her spayed because rabbits have the propensity to develop uterine cancer as they get older. The loose statistics are by the age of 5 years, 80% of rabbits will have developed some kind of reproductive cancer (uterine most common). 

I really put some thought into doing this to her; she's only a little girl and I would be crushed if she didn't make it through the surgery. She seems to be doing well for now. We took her into the vet today for her next day follow up and they were happy. The wound is looking good so she hasn't  been fooling around with it or trying to take the stitches out. She is not eating on her own yet; that is to be expected, but they want her to be taking in food by herself at least by tomorrow. For now I am syringe feeding her which is messing up her fur and she is not happy about that! We have to give her Metacam twice a day which is going to be fun (not!). She has been a little cold after her surgery so I covered her with blankets. 

Here's a photo of her all cozy under the covers:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Twelve Weeks Of Christmas Cookies: Week Two

Chocolate Cherry Surprise Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
15* glace cherries


Preheat oven to 350F

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat again until smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat in until combine. 

Sift all dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to the sugar and butter mixture and mix with a metal spoon. The next part is the messy part; using a spoon, put a small blob of the chocolate batter between your fingers and flatten slightly. With your thumb, make a small hollow and place one cherry in the hollow. Using your fingers, gather up the sides of the batter around the cherry, then cover the cherry with extra batter. Roll the batter between your palms to make a smooth ball then place on a non stick baking sheet. Repeat until all your batter is gone.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before dusting with powdered sugar.

I love the pattern the powdered sugar leaves behind

*Approximately. The above mixture made 15 cookies for me, but depending on how large you make the balls you may need more or less. I had both green and red glace cherries, but I only used the red ones this time. For an extra Christmas-y feel, use both the green and red cherries: the Christmas colours.

I didn't make a frosting for this cookie because I didn't think it really needed it.  The glace cherry in the center made it sweet enough.  I was toying with the idea of a chocolate brandy frosting, but decided to leave it as is.

After Work Report:  I came home from work today after leaving the cookies in the bread bin and they had almost all been eaten!  My husband left me two out of the fourteen that I left there.  They must have been very good :-P

Here's what everyone else made this week:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week One

I've joined a baking group which is right up my alley: 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies.  Yes folks, it's just over 12 weeks till Christmas!  The deal is to bake whatever you wish for 12 weeks every Friday, starting from October 1st till 17th December.  Ideally what you bake will be Christmas themed, well, that's what I'm going to try and stick to anyway so watch out for all my Christmas serveware featuring in the photos!

My first attempt was a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while.  I almost made it one time, but I passed the name by my husband and he kinda crinkled his nose up at it, so I made something else that time instead. Today, I decided this was the cookie I was going to make.  The recipe looks very Christmas-y to me as it is loaded with spices. The end is a buttery, spicy, crumbly scrumptious cookie that just melts in your mouth.  Even though the name suggests it might be quite savoury, the taste of pepper is so sweet and delicate. Yum.

I present to you Spicy Pepper Cookies!

Spicy Pepper Cookies

225g butter at room temperature
90g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon rind
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup whipping cream
powdered sugar

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together in a clean bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla extract and lemon rind to butter and sugar mixture and combine.  Add a small amount of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and mix until combined, then add a small amount of the whipping cream to the mixture and combine.  Repeat, alternating until both are finished, starting with the spiced flour and ending with the spiced flour.  Add in the ground almonds and mix till combined.  

Form small balls from the cookie batter and place on a non stick baking sheet.  Bake cookies at 350F for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack for a couple of minutes before dusting with powdered sugar.  Makes about 20 cookies - dare I say 12g of fat each! Yikes!!

Week 1 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Lamb shanks for dinner tonight.  Holy hell they were so good.  The meat was so tender, it fell off the bone when I was trying to pull it out of the slow cooker.  This was the first time I have cooked lamb shanks myself; I've had them in restaurants quite a few times before and enjoyed them.  I must say though, mine were much more tender than those I have tried in restaurants.  I guess they don't use slow cookers there.

This is the recipe I used:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 lamb shanks, about 6 pounds
1 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, or about 1 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
16 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 large carrot, diced
12 to 16 ounces small white onions, peeled, or 2 medium onions, cut in wedges


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the lamb shanks in the hot oil, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. Place the browned lamb shanks in a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. Add the peeled onions or onion wedges to the slow cooker.Meanwhile, combine the wine with mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley, and garlic; set aside.To the hot skillet, add mushrooms and carrots. Cook the mushrooms and carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon the vegetables over the lamb shanks. Pour the wine mixture into the skillet, scraping up the browned bits with a spatula. Bring to a simmer; pour over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker.Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours. Reduce heat to LOW and cook for 6 to 8 hours longer.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Almost-Vegan Banana Chocolate Mousse Tart

The Crust
2 Cups LSA (1 cup flax seeds, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup almonds)
1 cup cashews
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 large Medjool dates
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

The Filling
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 banana

Add LSA mixture, cashews, vanilla extract, medjool dates, 1 Tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp sea salt into a food processor and process until the crust starts to rise on the sides of the bowl. 

Press crust crumbs onto the bottom and sides of a pie pan to form the crust.  Place a layer of sliced banana evenly on the top of the crust.

Place avocados, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt into a food processor and process until completely smooth and creamy. 

Spread the chocolate filling on the top of the bananas, then add a top layer of banana slices.  Chill at least one hour prior to serving.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

The Result:

The Verdict: 
Yum!!  The chocolate mousse was so good!  The creaminess obviously comes from the avocado.  Although avocado has around 14g of fat per 100g, it also has a good amount of fiber which you will not find in regular pudding/mousse. I did think the crust was a little salty; not real salty but just a little bit too prominent.  Next time I'd probably half the amount of salt in the crust. I was surprised the crust held up so good.  It slices really easy and stays together nicely when transferred to a place.

source: adapted from Renata Holicova's original recipe