Monday, May 30, 2011

I must be crazy!

I spent the night poring madly over the Good Taste magazine, trying to decide what recipes I would like to try my hand at. I had a notebook and pen handy, so that I could note down the recipe and page number of each one. I realised quite quickly that I wouldn't be cooking everything in the magazine, there simply aren't enough days in my week to do that. Especially as I have too many after school activities with the kids, plus my own part time job and the job of being a mum/housewife. So, I have made a cut-down list, and I don't even know that I will get through all of those!

So far I have cooked two recipes (and I only bought the magazine yesterday), so I am on my way. The rest of the recipes that I would like to tackle, in no particular order, are as follows:

Beef & Guinness Pies
Choy Sum (side dish)
Pear & Frangipane Tart
Beef Lo Mein
Pea & Ham Soup
Smashed Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Tomato, Zucchini & Capsicum Bruschetta
Baby Beetroot & Lemon Chicken
Ricotta, Mixed Vegetable & Beef Lasagne
Chickpea & Prosciutto Minestrone
Chicken with Ham & Cheese
Yaki Udon with Chicken & Mushrooms
Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Cottage Pie
Choc-Chip Cupcakes
Raspberry & Lime Friands
Spiced Fruit Scones with Maple Walnut Butter
Choc-Vanilla Cupcakes
Hazelnut Choc-Chip Biscuits
Rocky Road Brownies
Banana Cinnamon Muffins
Golden Syrup Dumplings
Chewy Caramel Slice
Mini Baked Coconut Cheesecakes
Beef & Potato Pot Roast
Bolognaise Pies

At this point, I was 3/4 of the way through the magazine and forced myself to stop as there is no way known that I can finish these, let alone any others. Anyway, as I go along, I am going to cross out the ones I have done, and post their picture on the other page. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cook The Issue Competition

I have been inspired by my dad to enter a Foodie competition on Facebook over the last month. I submitted my photo of the Cookie Monster Cupcakes as my entry and am now waiting for the month to end and a winner to be announced.

This has given me a bit of confidence and I've decided to enter another competition to see how I go. The new competition is in the Woolworths Australian Good Taste Magazine (available at your local Woolworths Supermarket) and is called Cook the Issue. Basically to enter you need to cook one of the recipes from either the June or July issues, photograph it and then submit it as your entry. You can do this for one recipe, or for as many recipes as you like. There are a couple of different ways to win, you can even try to cook every recipe! That sounds like a challenge, but the trouble is, we wouldn't eat half of the food I would be cooking. Unfortunately our family are not fans of anything with chili or curry (really hot spicy flavours) which are so popular with most people.

I have created a new page on here for all the photos of the recipes as I make them. I started today, so there is already a photo in there. I am going to make the sweets, cakes and desserts first, as I know that my family are definitely fond of those! Today's effort was a Butter Cake with Orange Icing. It was absolutely delicious with my coffee, so I will make that one again.

If you are interested in knowing the recipes, I can probably put them up too. I will just reference the page in the magazine at the moment though. So let me know in the comments if you are wanting the recipes too.

Wish me luck, I'm going to enter my first photo now!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Step Away from the Cook Book.

These last couple of months have been all about stretching myself creatively. I have been working hard at my painting for the Pay It Forward Projects (no spoilers yet... I'm in the meaty part at the middle now) and have delivered two of them now. These have been great fun to work on, and I am doing things with them that I have never done before. I have been mixing my own colours, and in the current project I am even working on my own designs! This sort of thing terrifies me, as I am much more comfortable following someone's instructions.

This need for instruction spills over into my cooking. I love a good recipe and have a cupboard full of cook books that are well loved and definitely well used. I'm usually just not game enough to trust myself to make something without following a recipe (well unless it is a meal that I make all the time, and even then it takes me many attempts before I branch out on my own). This is particularly true of baking, because it is a science.  It involves exact measures, correct ratios of liquid to dry ingredients, perfect cooking temperatures etc. My mum is great at baking, her biscuits are the best ever, and she never uses a recipe or measures anything. She just works on instinct. Did I mention that it terrifies me?

Anyway, as you have seen in previous posts, my kids love a good cupcake. I have made many different types of cupcakes this year as I have a cook book dedicated to the Perfect Cupcake (what a surprise!). I've made Lemon and Coconut; Triple Chocolate; Vanilla; Pineapple, and most recently Pear cupcakes. With the exception of the pineapple and the pear ones, these have all been made by following a recipe to the letter. However, the last two I made by altering one of these recipes just slightly. They worked ok, but really, you couldn't notice the addition of the pineapple or the pear - the flavours just aren't strong enough.

What happened last night with the Pear cupcakes surprised me though. While I was eating it, I started to think about what I could do to bring out the flavour more, or what would even be a better flavour. I thought that the pear would work really well with a ginger spice cake, rather than a regular cake. I don't have a recipe for that, so I realised I would have to wing it! My sister suggested having larger pieces of the fruit, rather than the puree that the recipe called for. So with these thoughts in mind, I whipped up another batch this afternoon. I took the base recipe, added  the spices I would put into gingerbread (cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, ginger and cocoa) and then put some roughly chopped stewed apples into it. I am really pleased with how they turned out and I have put the recipe in the other page. It was a very light spice, so if you wanted a more heavily spiced cake, you would need to alter the quantities to suit your tastes.  I've put a glaze icing on them and sprinkled them with dusting chocolate. My kids had them warm as a dessert, and are looking forward to taking them to school tomorrow for their morning snack.

Being such an easy recipe, I will be sure to make them again, and might even play with some other flavours now that I am more confident. Probably the biggest highlight for me though? I made the recipe completely from memory and invention. Not a cook book in sight!

Note: It was Mother's Day last Sunday and as I said earlier, I made Pineapple and Lemon/Coconut cupcakes. What I didn't say was that I decorated them and took them to dinner. Here's what I did with them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Best. Sticky Date. Ever!

I am a sucker for a good dessert, especially if it is warm and pudding-y with a decadent sauce dripping over it and a scoop of ice-cream on the side. My usual tried and tested pudding is a family favourite that we call "Apple Upside Down Cake". It is nothing like an upside down cake in the traditional sense, in fact it isn't even upside down! Tonight I decided to serve something a bit fancier.

Taking the "fancy" theme to the main meal too, I served a Chicken, Mushroom and Zucchini Quiche (with a homemade Shortcrust Pastry) with a fresh green salad on the side. I followed this with little individual Sticky Date Puddings with a Butterscotch Sauce and vanilla ice-cream. Dinner was a success, which is always a relief. I know my family will eat most things that I serve, but it is better when they lick the plates clean, raving about the food. It makes me feel really good!

While the quiche was good, it was the puddings that really stood out. SH thought they were better than any he had tasted at a restaurant. It is such an easy recipe, I will definitely be making them again.

Having said that though, I am sitting in my family room watching MasterChef on the tv while typing this. I could never be on that show! (or any others like it). I couldn't take the pressure, and I know that my presentation of my dishes is not of the same standard either. So if you are reading my blog and expecting great things... you will find it in the taste of the food. The name of the blog says it all - Something I Whipped Up. My recipes are quick, easy to follow, and not a lot of fuss. My family love them, and people are always asking me for them, so that's what prompted the blog. I have to say... watching this show has really gotten under my skin. I have a picture of my pudding, but it isn't as fancy as I would like. I'm going to post it anyway, but don't judge a book by it's cover. It really is delicious.