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: