Last week marked one year since I was put on life support in ICU. It’s interesting but emotional looking back on how far I’ve come since then. The hardest part has been learning not to be so hard on myself when I don’t live up to my high expectations of myself. It’s been tough but I’m very fortunate to have a great family and support network to help me when I’m struggling with my own limitations.

The year is of course flying by and its suddenly mid May already. Our busy schedule doesn’t help matters of course as there never seems to be enough time to do all the things I’d like to do.  Even when I do have some free time, my brain seems to decide I need a nap.  This has of course led to an overall lack of productivity outside work.  I am working on a few craft projects and some new recipes but its slow going.

So today I brought you a new old favourite.  Well it’s a new take on it for me but I’ve made a couple of batches now and its been quite tasty.

Biscotti is reasonably easy and its easy enough to change around the flavours to suit your taste but today I’m going with:

Choc Pecan Biscotti

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Ingredients:

2 Eggs

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup SR Flour

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1/2 Cup Pecans

3/4 Cup Choc Chips

Oven:

180C

How to:

In a bowl mix together the eggs and sugar until combined.

Add the flours and mix to form a dough.

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Break up the pecans and add to the dough with the choc chips.

Mix until Pecans and choc chips are well incorporated. (you may need to do this by hand)

Form the dough into a log and place on a baking tray.

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Bake for 30mins or until just cooked through.

Take out of oven and cool for 15-30mins.

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Reduce oven temp. to 150C.

Slice log on the diagonal into 1cm slices. (this can be tricky as the log likes to crumble especially around the chocolate and pecans).

Place individual slices (and any of the larger odd bits) onto a baking tray and bake for 15 mins.

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Turn each slice over and bake for a further 15 mins.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Pack into air tight containers as soon as possible once they are cool to maintain their nice crunch. Leaving them out for too long (e.g. overnight) can cause them to soften.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee or just a snack on their own .

I hope you try it and if you do let me know how it goes. Take a picture of your batch and tag @thegammiecreative on Instagram or post it on the facebook page.

That’s all for now and hopefully next up I’ll have some tips on budgeting for my ‘Life Skills with Lilz’ series.

Lil

Today I am finally bringing you the first post in my ‘Life Skills with Lilz’ series.

I’m starting with something a little bit fun but an important skill none the less.

Fivesies 101

What is Fivesies I hear some of you ask?

We call it Fivesies, you might call it Happy hour, 5 O’clock drinks, Cheese and bikkies, Cheese board, pre dinneries, etc

Basically it’s a selection of pre dinner snacks (normally a cheese board) and drinks consumed at around 5pm before your main dinner.

For me fivesies is always a cheese board and cool drinks (alcoholic or not depends on your preference). You can of course serve other snack foods, with or instead of, a cheese plate depending on the crowd.

Lilz’ top tips for putting together a great Fivesies plate

Lets start with the cheese board

Pick your board

Pick the right size board for your cheese board. You don’t want a massive board for only a few cheeses nor a tiny board to feed the masses. The size of the board may also differ depending on how many sides are with your selected cheeses.

Pick Your Cheeses

Firstly, How many cheeses?

Well that can depend on how many people you are feeding. I usually go with 3 or 5 (aesthetically an odd number is generally better though of course there are exceptions) but keep in mind you don’t have to serve the whole block or round at once. If there are only 2 of you, you may only want a 1/4 of each cheese and 3 cheeses. If there are 15 of you, you may want to but out 5 full blocks/rounds of cheese. For larger groups  its also good to put out more than one board to make sure everyone can reach.

Which Cheeses?

There are many types of cheeses and when you are putting together a cheese board you want to make sure to get a good variety.

Cheese types

The main cheese types (and some examples) are:

Fresh Cheese – Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Flavoured Cream Cheese,

Soft White Cheese – Brie, Triple Cream, Camembert

Blue – Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Danish blue

Cheddar – Vintage, tasty

Eye Cheese – Swiss, Edam, Gouda, Havarti, Gruyere

Fetta Style – Greek, Danish, Marinated etc.

Goats Cheese – Chevre

Italian Hard – Pecorino, Parmesan

Washed Rind – Red Square, Reblochon

When choosing different types of cheese its also important to take into consideration the texture of the cheese as well as the flavour. You don’t want all soft cheeses nor do you want all strong cheeses. Try to get a nice balance of soft, semi hard, and hard as well as a balance of mild and strong flavoured cheese.

Most importantly

Eat what you like. Don’t feel pressured to serve cheese you don’t eat. When it comes down to it, choose cheeses you like to eat.

The Crackers

When it comes to what to eat the cheese with there are many options . I prefer rice crackers, B prefers water crackers, my mum prefers wafers, my sister like crusty bread.

Try to offer a variety (even if you only pick two) and always put out more than you think you will need.

Other Bits

Something sweet

To go with your cheese you want to serve at least one sweet element.

Fresh or dried fruit. Seedless grapes, slices of apple or pear and fresh figs are some of my favourite fresh fruits to include.  For dried I like dates, dried figs, dried apricots and dried apple. Once again go with whatever you prefer (or have in the cupboard)

Fruit paste, chutney or jam. Quince paste is lovely but it can be quite expensive. Jam works just as well when your on a budget. Sweet chutneys are also a good substitute and there are a lot of great varieties out there these days.

Something savoury

To keep the balance of flavours you also want to serve a savoury element.

All sorts of antipasti like olives, sun dried tomatoes, roasted capsicums, pickles, etc work well with cheese. One of my favourites when I can find them is caper berries. You may like to put these items in a little dish so the oils or brine they are served in don’t run over the rest of your board.

Cold cuts of meat like ham and salami  or meats like cabanossi or chorizo are also a really good  addition to a cheese plate.

Optional extras

Dips can be great for helping stretch out a cheese board if you have more people than your cheese will feed. Of course if you do have dip you will need even more crackers.

If there are kids around (or fussy eaters) you probably want to have some other snacks like chips or pretzels available. They are also good to stretch the cheese for larger crowds.

Drinks

Fivesies is not complete without something to drink.

Generally cold drinks are in order but of course its really up to you.

Wine of course goes well with cheese but don’t feel pressured to drink it just because your having cheese.

My only real tips here are just have some options available and drink what you like.

So that’s it. My Fivesies 101.

I hope this helps you put together some well balanced fivesies for yourself and your friends.

If you do put together fivesies send me a picture or tag @thegammiecreative on Instagram.

There’s more life skills to come and next up we are going to tackle basic budgeting.

Much love

Lilz