Christmas Greetings 2017

2017 has been a particularly challenging year for us. Both Hubby & Mini-Me have suffered with horrendously serious illnesses which has seen me abruptly absent from the blog many times. Whilst we now know that their conditions are permanent, Hubby’s is of greatest concern as it is degenerative, meaning he will worsen.

2017 has taken our health & our wealth but it has given us so very much wisdom for which we are grateful to move forward into 2018 with.

During this time of reflection, I have had to admit that I have always been an Artist searching desperately for my medium. I have tried an extraordinary plethora of different modalities over the years but never seemed to carry any talent for them.

It has now been pointed out to me, in no uncertain terms by my darling Hubby, that my talent lies in what I drive everyone crazy with all the time ~ taking photos.

In 2018 I shall be starting my Diploma of Professional Photography which I am so ecstatically excited about. I will also be continuing to learn Belly Dancing which I simply adore & indulging in my culinary passion in this blog. We also plan to follow through with moving back home to the fabulous Gold Coast & finally putting an end to our nomadic lifestyle.

I’m going to take my Christmas break now to spend valuable quality time with the two gorgeous loves of my life but I will return on Monday 8 January 2018 with reinvigorated gusto! I am already super excited about all the fabuliciouz recipes I’m planning on bringing you!

But for now, from my Fam-bam to yours, we’d like to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS & a Safe New Year.

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Chocolate Dacquoise

Decadently Rich Chocolate is encapsulated between Crunchy Meringue Layers,

This is not your average Christmas Pav!

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When I asked my friends what they think of on the table for Christmas, the overwhelming response was the good old Pavlova! Most Aussies really look forward to the sweet punctuation mark at the end of a fabuliciouz celebration meal. But I couldn’t just do the standard pav for you, as sensational as it is & yes I will be making one for Christmas Day myself! This is my Grand Finale to my Festive Feast on a Budget series. All please applaud the magnificent Chocolate Dacquoise.

Now this recipe may seem intimidating at first, but trust me, it’s just a lot of little simple steps that all come together at the end for a Show Stopping WOW dessert that will be talked about all year long!

Start off by marking out 3 x 9 inch circles on baking paper & cutting those out, leaving a small bit around each one to be able to handle. Spray some baking trays with a wee bit of spray oil & stick them on.

Next, you’ll need to separate 6 large eggs with the whites going into one bowl & the yolks into another. Cover the yolks & set those aside for later, depending on where you are in the world you may like to pop them in the fridge.

Pop the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer with a pinch of salt & beat at medium speed until they’re nice & frothy.

Turn your mixer up to high speed & gradually add in 1.5 cups of caster sugar. Keep beating it until stiff peaks form.

Turn your mixer off & gently fold through 1.5 cups of almond meal along with 1 tablespoon of cornflour.

Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle & pipe 3 spirals onto your prepared baking paper circles.

Those go into a 150c oven for 1.5 hours to crisp them up. After you pull them out of the oven, let them sit for 10 minutes before carefully peeling off the paper & popping on a cooling rack to completely go cold.

Now, onto the Chocolate Filling!

Break 250g of dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl & melt that over a pan of gently simmering water. Set it aside to cool.

In another bowl, beat 375g of softened butter until it’s gloriously pale & creamy. Set it aside too.

Retrieve the reserved egg yolks from earlier & place them into the bowl of your mixer. At high speed, beat the yolks until they’re pale & thick.

Now grab a small saucepan. Into it place, 1 cup of caster sugar along with 1/2 cup of water. Bring it to a boil, without stirring or touching it, until it reaches 115c (soft-ball stage).

Now comes the assembly part.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat as soon as it reaches temperature & in ever such a tiny trickle, pour it into the egg yolks whilst they are beating slowly. Keep beating it until the mixture is cooled off so you don’t scramble those eggs!

Next, gradually beat in the butter, then comes the chocolate & finally add in 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste.

When your Chocolate Filling is all combined then you’re ready to assemble the cake.

Simply put one of the meringue circles onto a serving plate, cover it with a third of the filling, then place another of the meringue circles on top of it, smother in another third of the filling & finally top it off with the remaining meringue circle & the rest of the filling.

Crown your gloriously decadent creation with fresh berries & let it snow down some icing sugar!

Party Punch

Tropically Fruity & Dangerously Drinkable!

This punch is all about Summer!

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What’s a Festive Feast without a refreshing beverage?!?! In sticking with our Budget Theme, this tantalising number will leave plenty of jingle in your pockets & still keep your guests jolly.

I love Aldi Supermarkets for cheap & cheerful booze. They have a large range of award winning wines for under $5 a bottle so it’s easy to pimp them up into a knock-out punch!

Start by decanting 1 litre of pineapple juice into your bowl. Then add 3 cups of apple juice & the entire contents of a 440g tin of crushed pineapple. Stir that lot about to combine, cover & pop in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to serve!

When it’s party time, simply pour in 2 bottles of Moscato Wine, give it a swizzle & away you go!

Now you can also substitute sparkling wine instead of the sweet wine to give your punch some bubble or if you want to make this completely alcohol free, use 1 bottle of lemonade + 1 bottle of dry ginger ale.

If you’re feeling particularly Festive, why not throw in a bunch of cut up fruit as well, like apples, oranges, grapes & passionfruit, they all add to the joyousness of the occasion.

Tropicana Balls & Dip

A mild meatball just perfect for dunking into a vibrant dip!

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My Tropicana Balls & Dip will liven up any party, especially when you’re making a Festive Feast on a budget! Easy to make ahead of time to serve cold or fry off quickly for a pop of hot to be washed down by some bubbles.

Into a mixing bowl goes 500g of veal & pork mixed mince, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 1 teaspoon of raw sugar, a splash of fish sauce & then season generously with white pepper. Give that lot a jolly good mix about with your hands before rolling into bite sized balls.

Heat up a wee bit of peanut oil in a frypan & shallow fry the balls until cooked all the way through. Drain them on some paper towel & set aside.

To make the dip, drag out good old Mr. Buzzy (aka stick blender) & into a jug goes 100ml of natural yoghurt along with 1 sliced up banana, 1 sliced up avocado & the juice of half a lime. Blitz that lot until it’s nice & smooth.

This is a brilliantly quick & easy appetiser that keeps your Festive Feast on budget!

Spiced Roast Chicken

Bring the intoxicating flavours of the Orient to your table this Christmas.

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Of course, everyone wants to bring out a show stopping main course on Christmas Day. The standard Sunday Roast Chook just won’t cut it for such a special occasion. With my easy marinade, you can tart up that old gal without breaking the budget!

Into a mixing bowl place, 1 cup of plain yoghurt, 3 tablespoons of Panaeng curry paste, 2 tablespoons of garam masala, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of raw sugar & the juice of 2 limes.

Give that lot a jolly good stir to combine well.

Smear the marinade all over a whole chicken & spoon any leftover marinade into the cavity. That way you’ll get that luscious flavour the whole way through the meat!

Pop the chicken onto a rack in a roasting dish & place into a 180c oven for half of the cooking time before cranking that heat up to 220c for the second half of the cooking time.

Cooking time for chicken is 30 minutes per 500g.

Now you will need to keep an eye on it. Check regularly to ensure the marinade isn’t burning & just cover it in tin foil if it is.

When the juices run clear when you pierce the poultry in the leg joint, the chicken is cooked.

Double Chocolate Ginger Ice-Cream

Decadently creamy chocolate ice-cream that nobody can quite pick what that secret ingredient is!

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The long anticipated wait is over! Today is my day to make my offering for this years ‘Spice It Up’ Advent Calendar! HOORAH! What an incredibly exciting honour it is to be chosen to participate in this worldwide special event. I’d like to take a moment to thank Jenny from http://www.jennyisbaking.com for her tenacity in organising such an amazing project. Her organisational skills are awe-inspiring & I applaud you, Jenny, for successfully seeing this magnificent Advent Calendar into fruition. Such a wonderful way to celebrate the giving spirit of Christmas with strangers right around the world.

Here in Australia, Christmas means Summer. Our Festive Season abounds with scorching hot days & balmy nights. It’s a time for beach cricket, prawns on the Barbie, good times with mates & trying to gobble your ice-cream before it melts!

But Christmas is also a time of watching the budget closely for a lot of families. That is why, this year, I am bringing to you FIVE amazing recipes before Christmas to help keep the Festive Feast indulgent without leaving you broke!

The first in my Festive Feast on a Budget series is this fabuliciouzly sumptuous Double Chocolate Ginger Ice-Cream! It’s so incredibly rich & the secret ingredient of GINGER is just enough to leave everyone guessing what on earth makes your ice-cream so much more special than all the rest! And it only takes just 5 standard kitchen staples!

Into the bowl of you mixing machine place 600ml thickened cream along with a 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, 200g of melted dark chocolate & 1 teaspoon of ground ginger. Beat that lot until they’re incredibly thick & creamy.

Next, simply fold through 1/2 cup of white chocolate bits gently so you don’t knock all the air out of it.

Pour the mixture into a container & pop in the freezer to set BUT if you are fortunate enough to have an ice-cream machine, like me, pour the mixture into the bowl & churn for whatever amount of time your particular machine recommends before popping it into the container to set in the freezer. Trust me, the results are well worth the extra time.

Check out all the Advent Doors on the link below & check back every day as we’re only HALF way through!

http://jennyisbaking.com/2017/11/30/food-advent-calendar-spice-it-up/

Festive Feasting on a Budget

Starting tomorrow, I shall be launching into my favourite series! It’s Christmas Festive Feast!!!!

Now a lot of families do it tougher than most at this time of the year but I truly believe that Christmas needs to be special no matter what! So this year, I shall be offering up a sumptuous festive feast on a modest budget.

Five stress busting recipes will be coming at you before Christmas that will make your day special without emptying your wallet.

Be sure to check back tomorrow as I open my advent door in the very special Global project of the ‘Spice It Up’ Advent Calendar then follow along as I complete your easy Christmas meal.

Semi-Dried Tomatoes

Fill your kitchen with the intoxicating aroma

of roasting garlic, herbs & sun ripened tomato.

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This absolutely gorgeous addition to my Gifts From The Kitchen series will have the savoury lovers salivating! It’s a wonderfully practical culinary shortcut to enhance pasta & pizza dishes throughout the festive hangover.

Simply start by using an apple corer to cut out all the middle cores of the tomatoes before placing them into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds only! Remove them immediately to plunge into a bowl of ice & water to cool.

Now I know that doesn’t actually sound like enough time to achieve anything at all, but trust me, it does! This is what allows you to be able to peel the skins off the fruit.

Once you’ve peeled all the skin off, cut the tomatoes in half & place them straight onto a baking tray.

Drizzle them with a wee bit of olive oil, then season with salt & black pepper. Throw on a few garlic cloves that you’ve peeled & ‘squashed’ with either your palm or the flat blade of your knife & sprinkle over some dried mixed herbs, or you might like to just throw on some thyme sprigs if that’s more your thing.

Bake them in a 140c oven for 4 hours before then putting them straight into a clean jar, topping with olive oil & screwing on the lid to seal.