Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sweet Heat # 5 Round Up ~ Game Food!

Well another month has flown by and another Sweet Heat successfully completed! I think this month's theme of Game Food was a little more challenging for you all, however you still outdid yourselves and we got some fantastic entries!

I really do love and appreciate the time and effort you all make to take part in Sweet Heat – especially when the theme is a little more challenging but once again I did receive a couple of entries this month that didn't have any chillies in them. While I hate to be repetitive and definitely don't want to discourage any of you from taking part please remember that this challenge was started to encourage to cooking, eating and celebrating the deliciousness of chillies (in any shape or form)!

So with the team talk over let's not waste anymore time and send this into an undeserved overtime ! ; )

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cookbook Review ~ Casual Entertaining - Ross Dobson

I found this book sitting in a bookstore reduced to the point where they were practically giving it away so of course it seemed only right to buy it! I never ever feel any guilt about a book that costs me less than $10....in fact I feel it my duty to buy it and lovingly add it to my collection! Of course I don't buy all books that are under $10....it still has to have a certain appeal and this one did just that! I already had Kitchen Seasons and Fired Up so I was familiar with Ross Dobson but this book, Casual Entertaining, seemed extra special - full of recipes that looked and sounded absolutely delicious.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ross Dobson he is a popular Australian food writer that writes for both Australian and UK magazines and newspapers as well as of course, writing and publishing his own cookbooks! Like many Australian chefs he has a very simple, no nonsense and relaxed approach to food, and his recipes are full of vibrant, bold flavours that appeal from the moment you read the title of the recipe. The mantra of the book is to keep entertaining at home as stress free, simple and casual as possible while still providing delicious, relaxed meals and of course, enjoying yourself.

There are 6 chapters featuring recipes which are divided into fun titles including 'Keeping it Casual'; 'Grazing'; 'Food in a Flash' and 'Chic Eats' - perfect for every occasion while entertaining! I have to admit though that although this book is called 'Casual Entertaining' there was a distinct lack of entertaining on my behalf while reviewing this book but I just couldn't resist cooking from it any longer! Therefore the recipes I made were rather selfishly enjoyed only by myself and hubby (oh and Wee One had one of the meals!), however I will definitely use this book in future when we are entertaining. The majority of the recipes are accompanied by stunning photographs that have you licking your licks and writing shopping lists before you are even half way through the book. So far I have tried 4 recipes in total from the book but it is my intention to try quite a few more as there are so many that really appeal.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


It's Random Recipes 1st Birthday this month so for this month's challenge, the lovely Dom of Belleau Kitchen challenged us to go back to the book we used for the very first time we took part in Random Recipes. I lucked out with this one as the first book I ever used was Just One Pot by Lindsay Bareham. Although the first recipe I made wasn't a huge success, it definitely had potential and after looking through the book there were plenty of other recipes I was keen to try. Of course that was back in October and despite keeping the book on my closest bookshelf to the kitchen with great intentions of cooking from it, that's where it stayed......until now of course!

So I lucked out with the book and this month's challenge and it turned out lady luck was on my side as I randomly (and a little nervously!) opened the book at page 111 to find a recipe for Jambalaya. I was delighted! I love Jambalaya and for me it's a perfect mid-week meal bursting with lots of flavours that we love. Of course there are lots of variations for Jambalaya but this one was just perfect for us – simple to make with ingredients I already had in the house. I did change a few things to suit our tastes (sorry Dom!) so it's adapted from the original recipe but it tasted great. This is something I will definitely make over and over again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Classic Crepes

Today is Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day as most people now know it) so I couldn't resist keeping with tradition and making up a quick batch of classic French Crepes. Growing up this is what we always had as pancakes – not the big fat, fluffy American style pancakes which I now also love. Mum always made them for us on Shrove Tuesday and I think they were one of the first things I ever made by myself. I even have an actual crepe pan and wooden utensil for flipping them – both designed specifically for making crepes - that my best friend gave to me after she had been on holiday in France when we were 12. It was honestly the best present ever (maybe she knew something I didn't about my future and cooking!). Unfortunately my beloved pan is still at my parents house in Scotland, so I couldn't use it for these crepes but I know mum is delighted to still have it there!

These classic French crepes are delicious for both sweet and savoury meals but my absolute favourite way to enjoy them is with a sprinkling of sugar and a good squeeze of lemon juice and occasionally when the mood strikes and you need that extra indulgence, spread with a little Nutella. Fabulous!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Dip

I really love Jalapeno Poppers but sometimes they can be a bit of a pain to make so this dip is the perfect solution! It has all of the flavours of Jalapeno Poppers but is much easier to make – especially when making for a crowd. And what better dip to serve at a party than this – just make sure to warn your guests that it packs a punch! Also it goes without saying (just looking at the list of ingredients!) but I feel obliged to do so since it is so calorific – this is definitely one dip that is not for the calorie conscious which is why it makes the perfect special treat for a party!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Kiss

Whether you are a fan of Valentines day or not this cocktail is definitely worth treating yourself to and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

I have to thank my friend Chelsea for this one as she served it (minus the alcohol!) at her daughter's Birthday party and from the moment I tried that first sip I knew it would make the most perfect cocktail! Of course it is also delicious without the alcohol and makes a perfect punch for a party if made in large quantities. It is super easy to make and can be mixed in a flash so make sure to keep the ingredients on hand for a quick and delicious cocktail!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentines Cake Pops

You didn't think I was going to let Valentines Day pass without some over-the-top bright red treat did you? Last year it was Valentines Cupcakes and Cookies so this year it had to be my 'thing/obsession of the moment' which is of course, Cake Pops! Realistically I should be calling them Cake Bites as once again these are round mouthfuls of pure cake and not 'true' cake pops but nevertheless they are delicious and disappeared in a hurry!

I had originally intended on making these chocolate cake pops since you can't have Valentines day without chocolate, however when I went to make them I realised I didn't have the ingredients needed for my chocolate cakes bites (I know – completely disorganised but it had been a crazy week!). So the chocolate ones will have to wait for another day, (I will post the recipe soon!) but when all is said and done, who doesn't like good old vanilla?!
Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Crisp and light choux pastry bursting with perfectly whipped vanilla cream and finished with a generous drizzle of indulgent chocolate sauce – what's not to like?! This dessert is definitely a favourite in our house and is a perfect and decadent way to end a meal when you are trying to impress. Even better – they aren't difficult or complicated to make, they just look like they are! They are ideal for serving when you have people over for a dinner party or for an extra special romantic meal.

I've been using this recipe for Profiteroles for years (pretty much since I started cooking at the age of 15) and remember that it came from a magazine, although unfortunately now I have no idea where it was from or who it was by. I've changed it very slightly but the quantities and method for making the choux pastry remain true to the original author as it is perfect and never fails!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Steak with Red Wine, Mushroom & Shallot Sauce {& Blue Cheese Dauphinoise Potatoes}

For a special meal for two you can't beat a perfectly cooked steak topped with a rich and flavourful Red Wine, Mushroom and Shallot Sauce. Add to that some Individual Blue Cheese Dauphinoise Potatoes and a Green Salad and you have the perfect meal to impress that someone special!

This is one of our favourite meals to have for a special night at home and it never let's us down. For that extra special touch serve with a bottle of your favourite red wine and light a candle or two, relax and enjoy! Who said romance is dead?!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Twice as Spicy Chicken Wings

When it comes to game food, party food, pub food or even just a Saturday night in, you can't beat chicken wings! I absolutely love them so I had to post my recipe for my Twice as Spicy Chicken Wings for this month's Sweet Heat Challenge which is Game Food.

When I was first introduced to Chicken Wings (roughly 14 years ago during a year out in Canada) it was all about sweet and sticky honey garlic wings and to be honest I still love them, however over the years as my tastes have changed I just can't get enough of hot wings....and when I say hot, I mean hot! I've tried various different recipes over the years and they are all good but my wings of the moment are definitely these 'Twice as Spicy' chicken wings.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Crispy Gnocchi with Tomato Dipping Sauce

You know when you see a recipe and you really wish you had come up with the idea yourself a long time ago? Well this is one of those recipes! As soon as I saw it I wondered why I had never thought of it before and also why I had never seen it anywhere else before! These deliciously addictive little potato gems are courtesy of Nigella Lawson from her most recent book Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, and honestly you have to trust me when I say they are a stroke of genius! Honestly they are so good I can't praise them enough other than to say that I have to limit how often I make them as I literally cannot stop eating them. They are perfect with anything you want to serve crispy potatoes with but I particularly love them as an alternative to fries or chips and combined with a Tomato Dipping Sauce they make the perfect party or Game Day snack. Just make sure to make a lot of these as they really will disappear in an instant! You will thank me for these (and of course Nigella!)....I promise!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweet Heat # 5

There's nothing like a great sports game on TV to make you want to get together with a group of friends to watch the game and of course eat some fantastic Game Food, and there is no better excuse for this than America's Super Bowl!

To be perfectly honest I'm not a huge sports fan.....I grew up watching and enjoying Rugby so that's about as far as it goes for me, however being married to a Canadian means whether I like it or not there is always a lot of hockey on TV as well! However what I do love about such big sporting events is the parties that accompany them and more importantly the food! You definitely need a great feast to be enjoyed with the game and of course a beer or two.

So since this month is the Super Bowl and the start of the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament (and of course the continuance of hockey and football (or soccer!) season!) I decided the theme for this month's Sweet Heat challenge is.....(cue cheer leading squad!)..... Game Food! That means anything you fancy eating whilst watching a big game will work as long as it is spicy! Chicken wings, Jalapeno poppers or even a big batch of Chilli all fit the bill perfectly, so why not invite some friends over, chill some drinks, make some spicy snacks and cheer for your team! And of course if you aren't a sports lover there's nothing wrong with inviting some friends over and getting out the Cards, Cranium or if you're in the mood....a little Twister!

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