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

I’m not sure where the weeks keep disappearing but they sure are flying by.

It was another 4 day week at work this week. This time due to ANZAC Day.

I did something different to our normal routine this year and I quite enjoyed it.

Usually we head into the city for around midnight for breakfast then from there head into ANZAC square to help where we can.  After dawn service we head back to our suburb for some breakfast and then the local march.

This year though our scout group helped out at both local services by doing a sausage sizzle so I skipped the city and just went along to both local services.

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It was nice not to have to get up so early and to help feed the masses after each service. And even though I didn’t get up anywhere near as early as normal I still spent the afternoon sleeping.

This weekend is also another long one (labor day) and the plan is to cook (of course).

I’m hoping to make a few batches of marshmallows and some biscotti. The only problem may be the weather but so far its holding out for me.

On to this weeks recipe

Peaches and cream pastry

This is a simple dessert that can be made reasonably quickly. It’s one of my many ‘what do I have in the cupboard’ inspired recipes.

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Makes:

6

Ingredients:

1 Puff pastry sheet

3 fresh Peaches or 1-2 tins (18 slices)

1 cup cream

2 tbs Icing Sugar  + extra for dusting

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Oven:

180C

How To:

Cut 1 sheet of  puff pasty into 12 pieces. Bake between two baking tray until brown so that the pastry only lightly puffs.

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For this recipe you can use fresh or tined peaches. If using fresh you will need to remove the seed and cut into eighths.

Heat up a medium fry pan.  Grill the pieces of peach until lightly browned on each side and warmed through.

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While the peaches are cooking whip  the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla essence.

To construct spread a thick layer of the whipped cream onto the pastry.

Layer the peach slices on to three of the pieces of pastry and cream then top with another piece.

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Serve sprinkled with icing sugar.

 

So that’s my peaches and cream pastry. You could of course use different fruit depending on what you like and what’s in season. I think it would work well with strawberries or caramelised banana.

Let me know if you give it a go.

Lil

What a good Friday this is.

No but really. This morning I got to sleep in to a reasonable hour. I got to make breakfast when I was ready and I even managed to catch up on some of my housework.

I did have a brunch meeting this morning but overall it was a relaxed morning.

And now I’m getting ready to go camping for the weekend . My 3rd and 4th batch of banana bread are in the oven and when its ready I’m headed down the coast to spend the weekend with some fellow Rovers.

I’m not the biggest fan of hot cross buns but I like to find ways to enjoy them a little differently so today I thought I’d share some Ideas for how you can enjoy hot cross buns a little differently.

Firstly

Hot cross French toast.

For my hot cross french toast I used chocolate hot cross buns but you can use any type, , home made or shop bought.

Mix together eggs and milk then sliced up hot cross buns into 3 slices. You’ll need around 1 egg and 1/6th of a cup of milk for every 2 hot cross buns.

Dunk each slice in the egg mixture then fry in a lightly oiled frying pan until browned on each side.

I served mine with whipped cream and stewed raspberries.

Hot cross desert burgers

Warm up your buns the slice in half.

Fill with sliced fruit, cottage or cream cheese and caramel or chocolate sauce.

Or for something savoury

Hot cross sliders.

Slice the bun in half. Place cheese on half then place under the grill until the cheese melts.

Fill slider with tomato lettuce and pork or chicken slices. Top with some caramelised onions or your favourite sauce.

So that’s three different ways you can serve your hot cross buns this Easter.

Do you make your own or buy them? Do you just like them warm with butter or do you have a different way to serve them.

Let me know.

Lil.

As usual last week was a busy week.

For me it was a week of scouting though I didn’t get to attend either of my regular scouting activities. I did attend a lot of other meetings though. I also spent my weekend at a scouting conference. It was fun and interesting and I’m really glad I went.

Last week I also worked on my recipe for mac and cheese. I haven’t quite perfected it yet but I’m getting there. I have a few ideas of what to change up next and I’m looking forward to having some more this week. I have worked out though that I much prefer the gooey fresh from the pot version better then the baked one.

One of my meetings ended up turning into a big menu planning session. A few friends and I are going to be catering for an event in a few weeks and so we spent the evening working out what we were going to make for it. I really love getting to plan menus for camps. Its always good fun to see what different things I can come up with that you might not expect while camping. We had a challenging brief but I think we got there.

On to this week. This weeks recipe is a treat for me. I don’t make it often but its worth it when I do. Hot chocolate is definitely my favourite hot beverage. There are of course many quick and easy chocolate powders  out there, some good and some needing tweaking, But nothing beats making a hot chocolate with melted chocolate. I was going to save this one for another day but considering the weather today in Brisbane It certainly seems like a good one to share.

Proper Hot chocolate

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Makes 1 big cup or two small ones

Ingredients:

1/3 cup chocolate melts

1/4 cup Milk

1-2 tsp Vanilla

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

1 heaped tbs Marshmallow fluff

How to:

Place the chocolate and milk in a metal or glass bowl and place the bowl over  pot of simmering water.

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Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and has mixed well with the milk.

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Add in the vanilla and nutmeg and stir through. Continue to heat for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a mug then top with marshmallow fluff.

I hope you enjoy my proper hot chocolate.

Lil

Well technically a recipe for my future cousin-in-law.  But more on that later.

B is back!! What a lovely valentines present for him to come home. I made him a cute card. He bought me a super cute (and super soft) toy camel from his travels. I’ve named it Alfred.

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In other news I spent my Saturday baking and was fortunate on of my friends was able to come over and help me eats some of what I made.  Between the two of us we demolished the Pav and while we only had one or two I think it may have been the best batch of brownies I have ever made.

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On Sunday I made a cute variation on the Raspberry Nutella Blondie’s to take to work for morning Tea on Monday. I added red food colouring and cocoa powder to turn them pink and I used a cookie cutter t cut them into hearts. They where quite cute.

So… on to the story behind the recipe. One of my cousins is getting married in March to a lovely lady who loves to cook. So for her kitchen tea we were all asked to send in a recipe rather then a card for her friends to put together in a recipe book.  I struggled to work out what recipe to send.  What recipe could I send that she wouldn’t already have and was worthy of such a gift. I finally settled on my signature dish. A pavlova.

 Pavlova is one of my all time favourite desserts and it became a specialty of mine when I was in high school as it was my favourite thing to procrasti-bake. While I have the base recipe perfected (for me) I do like to change up my toppings so for this recipe I drew my inspiration from valentines day and came up with this Raspberry, Rosewater and Chocolate pavlova.  I hope My cousin and his soon to be wife enjoy it and I hope you do too.

My Raspberry, Rosewater and Chocolate Pavlova

Well technically a recipe for my future cousin-in-law.  But more on that later.

B is back!! What a lovely valentines present for him to come home. He bought me a super cute (and super soft) toy camel. I’ve named it Alfred.

In other news I spent my Saturday baking and was fortunate on of my friends was able to come over and help me eats some of what I made.  Between the two of us we demolished the Pav and while we only had one or two I think it may have been the best batch of brownies I have ever made.

On Sunday I made a cute variation on the Raspberry Nutella Blondie’s to take to work for morning Tea on Monday. I added red food colouring and cocoa powder to turn them pink and I used a cookie cutter t cut them into hearts. They where quite cute.

So… on to the story behind the recipe. One of my cousins is getting married in March to a lovely lady who loves to cook. So for her kitchen tea we were all asked to send in a recipe rather then a card for her friends to put together in a recipe book.  I struggled to work out what recipe to send.  What recipe could I send that she wouldn’t already have and was worthy of such a gift. I finally settled on my signature dish. A pavlova.

 Pavlova is one of my all time favourite desserts and it became a specialty of mine when I was in high school as it was my favourite thing to procrasti-bake. While I have the base recipe perfected (for me) I do like to change up my toppings so for this recipe I drew my inspiration from valentines day and came up with this Raspberry, Rosewater and Chocolate pavlova.  I hope My cousin and his soon to be wife enjoy it and I hope you do too.

My Raspberry, Rosewater and Chocolate Pavlova

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Ingredients:

3 egg whites

150g Castor sugar

2tsp  of vanilla

1 cup Frozen Raspberries

1tbs sugar

150g chocolate

100mls thickened cream

200mls thickened cream

2tsp splash of rosewater

1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

1 tbs icing sugar

Oven:

 150C

How to:

In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk 3 eggwhites until light and fluffy.

Add in the sugar and turn your mixer speed up. Mix for 10-15 mins or until the whites are shiny and no longer grainy.

Line a baking tray with baking paper (spray with a little oil so the paper doesn’t move). Spread your whites onto the paper and swirl the top with your spatula to give it some texture.

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Place in the oven and bake for an hour-an hour and a half. The outside should end up nice and crispy.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate and 100ml of cream in a double boil until the chocolate melts and mix to combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place the frozen Raspberries in a small saucepan over a low heat and allow to heat through. Once mostly thawed add in the sugar and stir. Continue heating over low heat until warmed through.

Whisk together thickened cream, nutmeg, icing sugar and rosewater until cream is thick.

To serve:

Place the meringue bases on your serving tray/board. Spoon the raspberries evenly over the top of the meringue. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the top then dollop the cream on top.

So as it’s pancake day I thought I’d break from my usual format and go straight into my pancake recipe.

The Basic recipe:

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Makes 6-10

1 cup Self raising flour

1 cup Milk (or milk substitutes like almond milk, soy milk, rice milk etc)

1 egg

Optional: 1/4 cup sugar

Yep that’s it.

Mix your pancake batter together until well combined then scoop 1/4-1/3 of a cup of batter into a frying pan over  medium heat. Cook until the top of the pancake is starting to bubble (and the underside is lightly browned) then flip the pancake. Cook for a further 30-60 seconds or until pan side is brown. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter.

Tip: you will need a good non stick pan or you will need to lightly spray the pan with oil between each pancake.

So that’s my basic pancake recipe and if you just want a great ‘breakfast  for diner’ pancake then go ahead with that recipe and serve with your favourite toppings.

However If you’d prefer a savoury spin here are a few suggestions for some minor changes to give you yummy savoury dinner pancakes.

Veggie pancakes

Makes 6-10

1 serve basic pancake batter (no sugar)

3/4 your fave veggies – My favourites for this are zucchinis or corn kernels but most veggies would go well in this.

Small dice or great your veggie/s then mix through your pancake batter.

Cook as above. Serve with your favourite sauce.

Pancake sandwiches

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Makes 3-6 sandwiches

1 serve basic pancake batter (no sugar)

1/2-1 cup extra milk

Bacon

Grated Cheese

Tomato – sliced

Optional – your favourite spice.

Make your pancake batter a bit thinner with some extra milk.

Cook the pancake batter as above.  Optional: Before you flip the pancake sprinkle a pinch or two  of your favourite spice or spice mix over the top.

Once you have two pancakes put to the side then cook your bacon.

Place one of your pancakes bake in the pan and cover with cheese. Top with bacon then the sliced tomato. Sprinke tomato with salt and pepper. Remove from heat to a plate. Lightly reheat second pancake then place on to of the sliced tomato.

So there is my basic pancake recipe and two savoury twists. The bonus of pancakes for dinner is just make few extra from the basic batter and you have desert ready to go. I hope you enjoy them.

Happy pancake day!

This week has been a rather quiet one for a change.

It’s also been reasonably productive.

I got a lot of my to do list sorted which was nice.

I spent most of my weekend in the kitchen working on some new recipes and enjoying the results of some old ones.

I also discovered the food network channel. A whole free to air channel of food shows! Sufficed to say I had that on in the background for most of the weekend. It definitely helped inspire me to work on some of my recipes.

I also did a little bit of crafting and worked on getting myself more organised.

My challenge for this week is to take this momentum and work on tidying up the house. I suspect it may not go so well but trying to procrastinate from it may lead to some interesting creative projects.

Sunday marks the 1st anniversary of this blog. I’m proud of myself for what I have achieved with it and I’m working on more ideas for the future. The first recipe and proper post for my blog was my basic brownies recipe. This week I decided I would expand a little on that recipe. This week I have made my Nutella and Raspberry Blondies. I hope you enjoy them.

Nutella and Raspberry Blondies

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Ingredients:

125g butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1tsp Vanilla

1 cup plain flour

3 tbs Nutella

3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Oven:

180C

How to:

Melt the butter in the microwave or over double boil.

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Mix in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Pour mixture into a lined square baking tin.

TIP: if you crumple the baking paper it fits into the corners of tin much easier.

Dollop the  Nutella onto the top of the mixture in a few places then use a spoon or rubber spatula to swirl the Nutella through the Blondie mix. Scatter the raspberries on top.

 

Bake in oven on the bottom shelf for 40-60 mins of until the top is set and a little firm to touch.

Allow to cool in the tin for 5 mins the move to a rack. Allow to cool on rack for at least 5 mins before cutting up.

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You can server them warm or let them completely cool depending on how you like them. They are very nice served with a scoop of ice cream or just on their own.

This recipe is really adaptable especially for dairy and gluten allergies.

Let me know if you give them a go.

Lil

Not much happened this week.

As I mentioned last week we said ‘See ya’ to my sister.

She headed off to Canada with her boyfriend and best friend.

I’m working on crocheting them scarves to match the beanies I made them. I’d forgotten how much easier crocheting is than knitting for scarves. I may even try crocheting them some fingerless gloves next if I have enough yarn.

We are going well with our veg weeknight meals. I made a sweet potato and chick pea curry one night and I adapted an old favourite to get moroccan tofu and greens.

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On Thursday night I helped my team win a $20 three course cooking challenge which was fun. I expanded my camp cooking repertoire which is good.

Friday was full of meetings with various people and it was nice to be out and about for a change.

On Saturday B and I helped my parents put up a new gazebo for their backyard. It was hot hard work but we got done in the end.

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Throughout the week I worked on this recipe for you. I have tried it with a few teas and they are all good but for the recipe I’ve gone with B’s favourite Earl Grey.

Earl Grey Tea Loaf

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Ingredients:

25g Butter, softened

1 cup Sugar

1 Egg

2 cups Self Raising Flour

3/4 cup Earl Grey Tea

How To:

Mix together butter and sugar. Add in egg and stir through.

Alternate adding flour and tea and mix until all well combine.

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Pour batter into lined loaf tin and bake for one hour.

Test with a skewer to make sure its cooked through.

Cool in tin for 5 mins then place on a baking rack until completely cool.

Slice to serve.

The weeks roll by so fast it’s sometimes hard to keep track of what actually happened in the last week.

I have to look through my photos to jog my memory.

Of course Monday was full of excitement with the #libspill and my first ever game of Quiddich. Our crew played one of our neighbouring crews in the first of three friendly matches and we tied. There were a few broken brooms and a few minor broom crashes but we had a great time. We learnt that having substitute players (which we didn’t have) is kind of key as we were all rather buggered even after just five minutes of playing.

This week we also had a lovely dinner with some friends followed by a few rounds of cards. Its something we try to do as often as possible and we’ve crammed a few in lately as two of our number are going away for six months.

I finally started my herb garden. I got rosemary, basil and strawberries to start with and yesterday picked up some mint from my parents place. I also want to get some lavender but I want to get a nice edible variety. If all goes well with these I’m also hoping to expand into having some tomatoes and maybe some chillies too.

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I’ve been testing out some future recipes and changing up some old ones. Despite the increase in cooking I’m also working on keeping my kitchen tidy. It’s going well so far but we’ll so how long I can keep it up.

Todays recipe was a request from a friend of mine. We’ll call him MB. We met MB on a food and wine tour when we were all at a national Rover camp in WA. Though we actually live in the same state we had somehow not met before. Fast forward a few years and we try and catch up whenever we are in the same part of the state. Earlier this year we were talking about my blog and MB asked me to make a recipe for Milo cookies. So after much experimenting this is what I came up with. I then discovered that if you spoon Milo straight onto a baking tray (lined with baking paper) and bake for a few minutes they will make cookies themselves. I suggest you give both ways a go as they both have their benefits.

Milo Cookies

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Oven:

180C

Ingredients:

125g Butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp Vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups Plain flour

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How To:

With an electric mixer cream butter and sugar then add vanilla.

Slowly mix in flour until dough has formed.

Form tablespoons of dough into balls and place on a baking paper lined tray.

Use the bottom of your tablespoon to press flat the balls and make a well in the centre.

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Bake cookies for 10 mins then remove from oven and spoon 1tsp of milo into the well in each cookie.

Return to oven and bake a further 5 mins.

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Remove from oven and cool on rack.

TIP: for best heat distribution off set each row of cookies (like pictured) don’t just put them in straight rows.

Please note: I used Wholemeal flour and brown sugar this time so they came out more brown than usual. If you’re using white flour and white sugar the cookies will be paler than mine (they taste just as good though).

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Well I’ve had a fantastic week in Sydney visiting my family and friends.

It’s been a bit colder than Brisbane but really not as bad as I was expecting so the 4 jumpers I brought down were maybe a little overkill. I am glad though that I brought my new beanie and my favourite scarf as they have been much help in keeping me warm.  I’ve also knitted two beanies while I’ve been here, one for a friend and one for me, in some fantastic hi-vis and fluro yarns.

I’ve also been taking the time to write down or photograph some of my Nan’s and Grandma’s recipes. I’m looking forward to trying them out as they have some really yummy looking ones. It reminded me that I should get out Grandma’s Slice book and make some yummy slice. I sometimes forget how great slice is until I have some.

Todays recipe for you is the scone recipe I got from my mum.  It makes lovely fluffy scones that are perfect for afternoon tea or to snack on any time of the day. They are really simple and really quick to make.

Did you know? You should never cut open a scone but break it open. It is said the if you cut a scone than you are cutting your friendship with the person who made it. It also mucks up the nice fluffy consistency of your scone.

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You will need

3 cups Self Raising Flour (plus more for your bench)

1 cup cream

1 cup lemonade (or other soft drink)

Pre-heat oven to 200-250 decrees C

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it has just come together.

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Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and fold 2-3 times. DO NOT KNEAD!

Press flat to 2-3 cm thick.

Use a circle cutter to cut scones out of dough. Tip: dip cutter in flour so dough doesn’t stick to the edge.

Place on a baking paper lined flat tray close together but not touching.

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Bake for 10-15 mins until brown on top. Keep an eye on them as they can go from perfect to a little burnt on top in seconds (especially if the oven has been set wrong so the top shelf is hotter than the bottom, opps).

Fortunately the second tray went much better and the burnt ones were still fine to eat if you cut the top off.

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Serve your scones with cream and your choice of jam or other preserves. My lemon curd goes great on them.