My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Jun '14

Recipe’s: Lainey’s New York Cheesecake

I’m not kidding, this is the best Cheesecake recipe I’ve made, and I’ve made a few.  I absolutely recommend you give it a try.  We took it to my inlaws to have them help us finish it off and it was soooo good.  I don’t think I’ll be doing another until a special occasion arises, for fear of attempting to eat it all.

Lainey’s New York Cheesecake


2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (Aussies: use food processor to make 2 cups of “Digestive” biscuits into crumbs)
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 tablespoons Sugar
4 packages of (8oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1 tablespoon of vanilla (or for more vanilla flavour, use one vanilla pod)
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream


1. In small bowl toss together graham/digestive crumbs, margarine or butter and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Press all crumb mixture onto the bottom of a well greased or baking paper lined 9-inch spring form pan.  Chill in freezer while preparing filling.

2. In large mixing bowl beat cream cheese on  medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Do not go faster than medium speed as too much air in the cream cheese will make your cake drop.  Add 1-1/3 cups sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Stir in sour cream.

3. Pour onto crust. Bake at 325F or 180C fan forced for 1-1/4 hours or until center is almost set.  Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen of pan. Continue cooling on a wire rack for 45 minutes more.

4. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish as desired.  Store in refrigerator.

Yield: Serves 16

Nov '12

Recipe: Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Chilling time: 3-4 hours


Ingredients – BASE
3/4 cup Digestive biscuit crumbs (or Graham Cracker crumbs)
1/2 cups brown sugar
60g butter

Ingredients – CAKE
3 x 250g blocks Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin (or Libby’s canned pumpkin – unspiced)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp thickened cream
1 tbsp corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs (size 60, or medium)

Ingredients -TOPPING
2 cups Sour Cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Maple syrup to drizzle

1. Combine biscuit crumbs, brown sugar and butter. Press into a greased 24cm (9″) springform pan. (Any variety of biscuit/cookie crumbs can be used – plain sweet, coconut, chocolate.)
2. To soften Philly, allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature or remove foil from Philly, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.
3. Beat the Philly, sugars and vanilla using an electric mixer, until smooth. Beat in the eggs and cream until well combined. Add the pumpkin, sifted corn flour, spices and salt and mix on a low speed until well mixed (do not over beat). Pour filling into crust and bake at 160 C (do not use fan-forced setting) in the lower rack of the oven; for 50 minutes until just set. Allow to cool 5 minutes.
4. Whisk together the sour cream and sugar then pour over the top. Bake for a further 10 minutes then allow to cool completely in the oven with the door ajar.
5. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.
6. Garnish with maple syrup drizzle over the top, and of course whipped cream.

May '12

Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

This is my all time favourite soup and once in a while I like to make a big crock pot full and make it last.  This is a quick recipe, the soup is a chicken stock base, with tiny italian sausage meatballs, spinich, and orzo pasta (a small type of macaroni).  Good spices make this a great tasting soup and even better the second day.


Tiny Meatballs:

– 1 (19.76 ounce) package Mild Italian Sausage, decased
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1 cup bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed or chopped
– 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
– 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Make tiny meatballs                                       Cook in oil, spices, onion and garlic


– 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 medium onion, finely diced
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
– 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
– 1 small carrot, finely chopped
– 8 cups chicken stock
– 1 bay leaf
– 8 ounces orzo pasta, cooked
– 1 cup spinach, roughly chopped (I use frozen)
– 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Orzo is a small macaroni                             Cook your Orzo with spinich

Mix meatball ingredients together and roll small meatballs the size of a marble. (If forming the meatball is difficult, cover and refrigerate first.)

– In a medium pan, cook orzo al dente, according to package directions, drain and set aside.
– Prep the vegetables.
– In a large pot, saute onion, thyme and sage in olive oil.
– When the onion starts to turn a golden color; add garlic, carrot, celery and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Set the vegetable – ixture aside on a plate.
– In the same pot add all the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes before stirring (this will keep them from breaking). Gently toss with a rubber spatula to brown on all sides.
– Add reserved vegetables, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Simmer gently, (do not boil) until vegetables are tender and meatballs are cooked through.
– Add cooked orzo and spinach, stir together. (Adding spinach right before serving will help it maintain its rich green color).
– Garnish soup bowls with parmesan cheese.

Dec '11

Recipe: Lainey’s Christmas Cookies 2011

A visit from my friend MN and her mother Susan, bearing a gift of homemade Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies (yum), inspired me to make some of my own.  Most of you know I like baking, so I thought it would be fun to post my Christmas cookies. These are my four favourites for 2011, recipes and pictures from Lainey’s kitchen (click on pics to enlarge):



1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar (topping)
4 tsp cinnamon (topping)


1. Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F)
2. Mix butter, sugar, and eggs
3. Blend flouer, baking soda, tartar and salt
4. Shape dough by rounded tsp size balls, roll in sugar and cinnamon mixture topping
5. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes




12 oz vanilla wafer, finely crushed (3 cups)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup confectioners sugar (caster sugar), divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels (bits)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup rum


1. Mix crushed wafer, pecans, 1/2 cup confectioners/caster sugar, then set aside
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler add corn syrup
3. Add rum and stir until smooth
4. Pour hocolate mixturre over wafer mixture, stir
5. Shape into 1″ balls, place on wax/baking paper

Place remaining confectioners/caster sugar in a shallow bowl, roll balls in sugar.  Use individual foil cups/patty pans or layer wax/baking paper between each layer of cookies.  Store in an air tight container for 3-days before serving.




Hershey’s kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt


1. Beat butter adn peanut butter until smooth
2. Add sugars, beat until fluffy
3. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well
4. Stir flour, baking soda, salt – gradually beat into peanut butter mixture
5. Cover adn chill in fridge for 4-8 hours

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Shape into 1″ balls, roll in granulated sugar, place on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Immediately place chocolate kiss in middle of cookie, cool on rack.




3 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1-3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses (golden syrup)
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. In a small bowl wisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves
2. In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until blended
3. Add molasses and vanilla; blend well
4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until dough smooth
5. Divide dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic, stand at room temperature for 2-hours
6. Place half on floured surface roll out to 1/4″ thick, use cutter
7. Bake in preheated over at 350 F (175 C) 7-9 min, cool on wire rack.

Aug '11

Recipe: Gorditas

I’ve been waiting to try this one. This comes out of my Better Homes and GardensSpecial Edition “Mexican” edition I picked up when I was in the States last Christmas.  I love Mexican food – Mmmmmmm

I love gordits, they have a beautiful crispy outside and soft inside filled with Mexican goodness.


2 cups masa harina
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 hot water
1/2 cup finely shredded Cotja or Asiago cheese (finley shredded Parmesan is a good substitute)
Vegetable Oil
1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 canned Chile pepper in Abodo sauce, seeded and finely chopped (leave seeds for more heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup inely shredded cabbage


l. In a large bowl, combine masa harina, flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the hot water, stirring until mixture forms a soft dough. Stir in cheese.

2. Divide masa mixture into 12 portions. On a lightly fkoured surface, use your hands to pat each portion into a 2-1/4 inch round. (As you work, krrp dough and formed gorditas covered with a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towels to prevent them form drying out.)

3. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat 1-1/2 inches of oil over mediuym heat to 350F; Fry gorditas, three or four at a time. in hot oil ffor about 2 inutes or until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Usinga serrateed knife, split hot gorditas horizontaly to partly open.

4. In a medium heat, commbine blact beans, chilepe peper, and garlic; use a fork to slightly mash bean mixture, Spoon bean misture into gorditas; spoon in cabbage and salsa.

Per Appetizer: 264 cal, 16 g fat (2 g sat fat), 6 mg chol. 475 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 4 g fibre

The finished product is a lovely appetizer with a beautiful masa shell.   Great for a snack or before tacos as an appetizer.

Aug '11

Recipe: Chocolate Swirl Cake with Fresh Strawberries

This is just one of my favourites, and because I love Strawberries and chocolate together mostly.

I love baking but I also love Betty Crocker.  Notably Betty Crocker only came to Australia since I’ve moved here, probably about 3 years ago.  Before that we have just one Australian brand called White Wings, and it’s not moist like Betty Crocker, and they didn’t have pre-made frosting in a can or sachet like we have int he U.S.  So making icing was always a chore.  In this recipe I used the  ‘Super Moist Choc Swirl Cake Mix’, I’m using a loaf pan instead of the standard round cake pan.


1 Super Moist Choc Swirl Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1/3 cup of Vegetable Oil
1 Cup of Water
2 Punnet’s of Strawberries
1/3 Cup White Sugar


1. Take 2-punnet’s of strawberries and slice thinly

2. Place all sliced strawberries in a bowl

3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup (50ml) of white sugar over the top fo the strawberries, stir so sugar covers all strawberries

4. Leave covered for time cake is cooking, stir frequently

5. Strawberries will begin to make a sugary syrup.

Directions: CAKE

1. Preheat oven for 10 minutes at 180C/350F (160C Fan forced oven). Grease pan with oil or cooking spray, lightly line with flour.

2. Beat cake mix, eggs, oil, and water in with a electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes.

3. Reserve 1 cup of batter and pour remaining vanilla batter into pan. Stir 1-tablespoon “chocolate ready-to-spread frosting” that comes with the cake mix. If you have a cake mix that does not have frosting included, use Hershey’s Chocolate syrup for the chocolate swirl in the cake. Dollop chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter in pan and swirl to create a marble effect using a skewer or knife.

4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched in centre or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then gently remove from pan, remove and cool on wire rack. Frost top of cold cake with frosting.

5. After cooling, place cake on plate, frost and top with strawberries.

For cupcakes set oven 200C/400F (180C Fan forced). Bake for 25 minutes.

Jul '11

Recipe: Chipolte Beef Tinga

When I was in the States over Christmas we found this great magazine, a special edition of Better Homes and Gardens all on Mexican recipes and different dishes including street tacos, flan, enchaladas, great sauces and so much more.  We pull it out from time to time and try new things. 

Well, since finding the Mexican foods store in Sydney, Australia that ships to Melbourne Monterey Foods we have had more luck finding the spices, chiles, etc. to make some of our wish dishes. 

Today we’re trying a mexican stew that can also be used for enchaladas and tacos.  It’s a chirizo and beef stew with Chipolte chiles.  It smells wonderful.  I’m heating up some white corn tortillas to make some nice tacos.  We’re also trying the chips and array of dips tonight as an appetiser – queseo, salsa, spicy quacamole. Leave the meat in the stew in pieces or shread it and use the tinga to fill tacos or enchaladas.

The taste of the Chipolte was fantastic in this, just a little bit spicy – but the beef done with the Dutch oven method ended up being so tender and good, it was fantastic.

So here’s the recipe.  And my pics…

Serves 6 – Prep 35 minutes – Cook 1-1/2 hours


1-1/2 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt and ground black pepper
1 – tbsp Vegetable Oil
8 oz. uncooked chorizo, casings removed if present
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 – 7oz (198 g) can chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and choppped (
1-1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano or dried oregono, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
Thinly sliced fresh jalapeno chile pepper (optional)



1. Sprinke beed with salt and pepper.  In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add beef, half at a time; cook until browned. Return all beef to Dutch oven.  Add enough water to cover.  bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, for 1-hour or until tender.  Remove meat from liquid; set aside.  Skim fat from liquid; reserve liquid.

2. In the same Dutch oven, cook chorizo, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is browned, using a spoon to break up meat as it cooks.  Drain on paper towels.

3. Return chorizo mixture to Dutch oven.  Add 1-1/2 cups (or more, if desired) of the reserved cooking liquid, the beef, tomatoes, chile peppers, oregano, and cumin.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  If desired, shred beef with two forks, top with jalapeno.  Makes 6 cups.

Nutrition/per 1 cup: 399 cal., 25 g fat (9g sat fat) 89 mg chol., 649 mg sodium, 6g carb., 2g fibre, 35g protein. 
Jul '11

Recipe: Spicy Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

I’m kinda hooked on this magazine right now, recipes+ I think it comes out monthly and I’m always sure to throw it in the basket.  I’ve been trying to do less pasta and rice dishes with our dinners, no bread sides. 

Instead I’ve been making a salad with every dinner and learning how to make some soups from scratch.  Beans, veges, some meat, but mostly just good and warm and yummy soups. 

I’ve used the slow cooker, but this was a super-fast and super-tasty soup that is ready in just 30 minutes.  It turned out perfect, we served with our regular salad and a beautiful ginger pork roast off the barby.  Enjoy, this recipe comes from the August 2011 issue of recipes+.

Serves 4 – Prep 10 minutes – Cook 20 minutes

1 Tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 Tbsp Red Curry paste
400g can diced tomatoes
1 litre (4 cups) salt-reduced vegetable stock
1 cup split red lentils (I used a can of organic lentils)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.3 cup corsely chopped coriander (cilantro)


 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until soft.  Add curry paste, cook and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.

2. Add tomato, stock and lentils.  Bring to the boil. Reduce heat: simmer, partially covered, for 12 minutes or until entils are just soft.

3. Sprinkle soup with coriander.

Nutrition/serve: 2118kj, 23g protein; 12g fat (2g sat); 70g carbohydrate; 13g fibre.
Jul '11

Recipe: Cheesy Italian Sausage Breakfast Quiche

This is my first breakfast quiche.  It turned out yummy. 

They really don’t have breakfast sausage in Australia.  Nope, no Jimmy Dean, maple or hot sausage, no pork links… heck, I don’t know what’s going on around here.  They’re more into beef sausage (I know), and ham or canadian style bacon.  Even the bacon is very different here, much thicker, not crispy, and more rind than I like.

But enough ranting about meat.  LOL. So I make my own sausage using my Jimmy Dean Hot sausage recipe for this quiche so I’ll start with that:

Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
16 oz ground pork
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or in AU ground chili pepper)
1/4 tsp coriander

Start by making your sausage, or if you’re lucky enough to have Jimmy Dean… pop out to the store for a tube.  Brown and set aside.

Pastry Crust
Use your own favourite pastry crust recipe, uncooked.

6 to 8 ounces sausage, cooked, drained, and crumbled
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk or half-and-half
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Line unbaked pie shell with 1/2 cheese. Top cheese with cooked sausage. Cover with remaining cheese. Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper; beat well. Pour over ingredients already in pie shell. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot. Serve quiche with fresh sliced tomatos.

Breakfast quiche serves 8.


Apr '10

Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts

Day 9 of 22

dsc04576.JPGWe decided in our last days to do a cooking class at SITCA, the culinary institute in Koh Samui.  Our menu:

~ Homemade Red Curry Paste (Kruang Gaeng Daeng)
~ Red Curry with Chicken and Potatoes (Gaeng Kati Gai)
~ Spicy Prawn Soup (Tom Yum Koong)
~ Savory Fried Flat Rice Noodle with Pork (Klauy Tiao Rad-Na Moo)

This was definitely an excellent class – we learned a lot about all the different chilies and their hotness, also how to make curry paste from scratch.  Our instructor and the facilities were top notch. I highly recommend a course when you are on the island. They have lunch and dinner menu’s – check online for advance booking

The courses include full explanation of the spices and ingredients used for the dishes. You do all your own prep (which we have found other courses don’t do this), then you go in and do all your own wok cooking.  Finally, of course you eat! 


I’ve incuded one of our recipies here for you to try.  Make your own curry paste and try it out for yourself. 

Our food was excellent.  We would definitely go back to this joint!

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Homemade Red Curry Paste


~ 1-dried large red chili for colour
~ 5-7 dried small red hot chilies for 3 fresh red-hot chilies
~ 2 tsp Garlic chopped finely
~ 2 tsp Shallots chopped finely
~ 1/4 tsp Kaffir Lime peel chopped finely or 2 fresh leaves
~ 2 tsp fresh lemon grass chopped finely
~ 1 tsp fresh Galangal chopped finely (spicy Thai Ginger)
~ 1/2 tsp black peppercorn
~ 1 tsp Shrimp Paste
~ 1/4 tsp Salt


Dried large red chili. Remove seeds for milder chili and cut into small longways pieces wtih a scissors and soak pieces in warm water until soft about 5-10 min. let drain until dry.

If using dried (rather than fresh) red hot chilis, soak them in warm water for 5-10 min and then drain until dry.

Put black pepper and salt in a stone mortar and grind to a powder

Add the chilis and pound to a smooth paste

Add Galangal, Lemon Grass, Kaffir Lime peel and pound to a smooth paste

Add Garlic, Schallots pound until smooth

Add Shrimp Paste and pound until smooth again

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Feb '10

Cake Decorating 101

What you should know is that my Mother used to make cakes like this.  I guess that’s why I know how to do this.  I always loved that my mom took the time to make me a decorated cake of my favourite character.  I did for some time, while living in Virginia, have my own business decorating cakes for birthdays and weddings.  It’s definitely fun but takes heaps of time.  I think it will be fun to make cakes for my niece and nephew for their birthdays – it’s something I can do to contribute.

Thanks Mom for teaching me this great trade

So Amanda, my sister-in-law talked it over and we came up with Dora. 

dora1.jpg Step 1.  First you have to come up with a drawing for the size of the cake.  I use baking paper to make my drawing because it is easy to erase and it takes me a bit to get everything perfect.  Yes, I said perfect.  I’m no artist, I just find a picture of the character and do my best to replicate it into a larger size.

Step 2. Bake your cakes.  This took 3 round cakes. Trim the tops using a cake trimmer or a knife works just as well – so all the cakes are the same height.  Place them top down on your board.

Step 3.  Cut the cakes into the pieces that make the shape for your character.  I used one round for the face then cut pieces for the hair from the other two cakes.  Her hair is chocolate and marble, face is white cake.  Using different cakes also gives options for flavour.  I also placed extra trimmed pieces of cake on the hair before icing, to give it a 3D effect.


dora2.jpg   dora4.jpg

Step 4.  Make your icing.  I bought premade icing and using food colouring made a tan for the face, brown eyes, and black hair.

Step 5.  Do any flat surfaces first, on this cake I did the face icing flat then used an icing bag and tool for the hair.  Smooth out the icing on the face then draw on eyes using writing icing or a writing icing tool.

Step 6.  Use an icing bag and tool, here I used a 16mm star shape to do the hair.  Make little stars all over to fill in the area.

And… you’re done…


 Hola Dora!

So, 2nd Happy Birthday Madden – Love Auntie Lainey

And.. I love you Mom.

Dec '09

Recipe: Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Charlotte


This is a lovely ice cream cake I found in my recipie rag.  Thought I’d give it a go for our Boxing Day BBQ Lunch with the Eagles. 

For you Americans, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and the name derives from from the Anglo-Saxon tradition giving seasonal gifts to less wealthy people and social inferiors. Until their distribution, these gifts were stored in a “Christmas box”, which was opened on December 26, when the contents were distributed. In the United Kingdom, this was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants. Boxing Day is celebrated in Commenwealth Conuntries such as Canada, Australia, U.K., Greenland, New Zealand, and Hong Kong to name a few.  Basically it is a glorified public holiday, and biggest sale and shopping day of the year.


1 springform pan
1 pint of ice cream, defrosted in the fridge 1-hour to soften (I made my own: Vanilla Bean)
1 large Swiss Roll cake, cut into 8mm rounds
300 g frozen Raspberries
1/3 cup (75 g) Caster Sugar

To make the berry compote, place the frozen raspberries in a pan over medium-low heat. Add sugar and stir for 3-4 minutes until berries have softened and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then chill compote in fridge.

cake3.JPGGrease and line a 20mm springform cake pan. Press the Swiss roll slices into the base of the pan, ensuring the base is completely covered. Line sides of the pan with the remaining slices, packing tightly but without overlapping. There will be some overhanging slices of Swiss Roll at the top.

If you are going to create your own ice cream, you can use chocolate or vanilla for this recipie. I start the ice cream in the machine as I am lining the springform pan.  If you are using store bought ice cream be sure to soften it by defrosting for at least 1-hour in the fridge before you begin.  Pour ice cream into a bowl and fold in 1/3 of the raspberry compote, then pour mixture into the cake pan. Trim overhanging jam roll, then press into the bottom of the ice cream.

Cover the cake pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours untilthe ice cream is firmly set, release the sides of the pan and turn the charlotte out onto a flat cake1.JPGplate. Spoon over the remaining compote, then serve immediately.  Serves 6-8


1  ice cream maker/machine
2  eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I use Low G.I. sugar and run through the processor until fine)
1-1/2 cups – whipping cream
1-1/2 cups – milk
1-1/2 tsp – vanilla bean extract

Beat eggs and sugar with a whisk until light. Add whipping cream, milk and vanilla.  Combine thoroughly.

Pour into the ice cream machine and churn for 20-30 minutes until desired consistency is achieved.

Dec '09

Recipe: Chocolate Covered Cherries and Strawberrys

choc.JPGHere’s an easy treat for Chrissy – take melted dark or milk chocolate and dip in your favourite fruit!  These are my treats for the family Christmas Lunch this year…


Yea, more recipies coming this Christmas season, and my Mother keeps complaining I post too many pictures of food on my blog – but food makes me “melt”.  Looooove chocolate covered cherries, and we are lucky enough to be able to find Maraschino Cherries here in Australia (Maxi Foods). 

Unfortunately they don’t have my very favourite: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cordials – which for you Aussies that haven’t tried them are: maraschino cherry surrounded by a liquid center covered in milk chocolate or dark chocolate. 

Cherry without coconut is unheard of in Oz, but I’m telling you it’s fabo!

How to make your own Chocolate Covered Cherry’s

     ~ 1 – 600 g bag tempered or melting chocolate
     ~ 1 jar maraschino cherrys

Heat chocolate in a pan on low until melted, or use microwave on increments of 1-minute until melted.  Dip fruit and lay on baking paper to harden.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve! 


See Mom… looks yummy huh?

Dec '09

Recipe: Rondele Garlic & Herb Cheese Spread

The real “Rondele”, you may have tasted at our last gathering, me Mum made it for Thanksgiving – I saw you eating it… well I saw my niece Madden eating it for sure! Here is the recipe just for you. Yummmmmm

The real thing found in any U.S. market is often used on crackers (Aussie translation: biscuits); as a dip for raw veges; or even as a spread on sandwiches, burgers and wraps. Here’s an easy and economical way to recreate the original using Philly Cream Cheese, Mixed Herb/Italian Seasoning (a dried blend of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano and basil); finely minced garlic (I buy in a jar); and Onion Powder. Since the herbs are dry, the flavour is more subtle than fresh, even after the herbs soak up moisture from the cheese.  The original recipe calls for Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese but I don’t think they sell that in Australia yet (or possibly will ever).



150 grams (12 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I use light cream cheese)
1-1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
3/4 teaspoon Mixed Herb/Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder



Gently stir garlic, mixed herb seasoning, salt and onion powder into cream cheese. 
Store spread in your refrigerator for at least a couple hours. Overnight is even better.
Stir once more before serving.



May '08

20th Annual Cider Festival

apples_50.jpgGoing back to the place we got married for our anniversary dinner this year was fantastic – and that’s how we found out about the Cider Festival they hold every year.  We decided to make the trip back out to check out the festivities.  They had all kinds of cider (mostly alcoholic variation), apple juice, apple deserts, handmade candied apples, pork and applesause sandwiches, a folk band, dancers, apple brandy, and cider making demonstrations. 

All-in-all there was a bit to do and see.  They had the entire winery property opened up for the public, many picniced around on the grass and throughout the vineyard.  We decided to walk around and check out some of the cool things they offered. 

The demonstration of the machinery was also interesting – very old large equipment used to crush the apples to the core (literally) so that they could make their fabuolous cider, it was very yummy.  I have one picture in here of the machinery, I think that they guys said the machinery was second hand back from the early 1900’s.   Here are the rest of our pictures:

scrumpytogo.jpg refill.jpg makingcider.jpg dance1.jpg candyapples3.jpg candyapples2.jpg candyapples1.jpg 

dance2.jpgI wasn’t sure if I was going to like the cider so it was apparent that we needed to do some taste testing.  We started out with some Sparkling Cider, which was beautiful!  Aside from the sparkling there is “Scrumpy” which is a flat version of cider without the bubbles – a bit darker in colour and tasted a lot like spiked apple juice.  It was also good. 

We went on to try some of the eats, with a sheapards pie each and a homemade brownie to go – we watched the candied apples being made from the cooking of the sugar right down to the dipping of each apple and the kids sucking them down!  It was quite interesting to watch, and they looked yummy and fresh but we definitely passed on this treat.  The dancers were pretty cool, doing some old celtic dancing with bells on their knees and sticks in their hands.  Incredible picture I took – as they jump you can see that no foot is touching the ground!  Also note the beautiful vineyard in the background – yellow like during our wedding – it was beautiful.  This was definitely a fun day.  Lots of families were out and enjoying everything. 

Our next Holiday

Well, we are starting to get ready and excited for our trip to Thailand, I’ve never been to Phuket before so I can’t wait. Want to spend some stress-less time with Birdie and relax a bit.  I’m feeling very anxious lately.  Maybe because our trip to the U.S. is coming on so quickly, the Reunion is looming and I have to get things organised this weekend and start selling more tickets.  I’m really looking forward to everything but there is a certain stress with planning of such a large event. We are also attending my Reunion in Houston at Klein Oak High School where I went to 9th and 10th grade – most of those kids are the ones I grew up with from the age of 10.  I’m probably looking forward more to the reunion in Texas than the one that I’m planning ~ only because I’m so excited to see friends from so long ago.  I’ve reconnected online with most of my Texas friends and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.

Flautas, Tamales and Stuffed Peppers

Finding Mexican food here in Australia is a pretty daunting task!  Luckily Mom was good enough to bring Birdie some fabulous Mexican cookbooks this trip.  We started with making some special dishes for Birdie’s parents after Mom and Adam left.  We made pork tamales, chicken flautas and stuffed peppers:

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If you’ve ever been invited to our house for dinner, you’ve most likely been exposed to our favourite – Mexican food!  These new recipies are just lovely and although it was hard to find Mesa (Polenta) to make the tamales, and even harder to find corn husks (believe it or not) we finally got all the ingredients to make this lovely treat. We used green chili sauce and they were wonderful.  Birdie used burrito flour tortillas and stuffed them with seasoned shredded pork, veges, cheese, and hot sauce to make a wonderful fried “Flauta”, and finally the red peppers stuffed with a potato, herb, and cheese mixture topped things off.  All yummy!

Kadam and Mom

Looks like Kat & Adam (Kadam) are going to be visiting Mom this weekend in Sacramento.  I am glad to see that they are getting up to visit for Mothers Day.  I’m sure they have other things planned as well but Mom is really looking forward to their company.   It’s not long now and we’ll be there wearing her out – not to worry!  Now that they are back home from their Australian vacation they seem to be getting back to normal.  Adam has a bit of gab and pics on his blog, be sure to check it out:



Mental Status: It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and we are back to Kellybrook Winery for a nice lunch to celebrate. Also looking forward to Blair’s big Poker Night!  We’re looking to win big!
Favourite thing this week: Back out to doing training within Victoria – glad to be out of the office again!
Upcoming events: Thailand trip 16 June, and the U.S. 10 July.