Monday, September 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

I would like to introduce my first guest blogger...exciting!! My BFF has kindly produced this recipe for us all to enjoy. I have only recently got my slow cooker, and it seems there are few tricks to that trade, so I am loving getting everyones' secret recipes to play around with. This recipe looks fabulous because you need very few ingredients, and is perfect for feeding a crowd on a budget. So to hand it over to my lovely BFF....

Let me just say from the very beginning that unlike my BFF, I am not much of a chef. I am lucky to have very capable friends who can whip things up with very little effort, whereas I am not so gifted in the cooking department. I am particularly bad at anything which requires a recipe - generally baking. The last Brownie effort I made, I doubled the recipe and forgot to add the sugar to the second batch - therefore a slow cooker has proved to suit my style.

To further elaborate on my technique, I am not one for tasting anything while I cook. I really like surprises and therefore to experience how good or bad the food is, as everyone else does. It is a hit and miss technique obviously and not ideal if I am cooking for anyone other than my endlessly loving and supportive husband.

Anyway, enough about me and moving onto the recipe that I thought I would submit as Jo has recently acquired a slow cooker...


aprox 500g BEEF suitable for stewing (chuck, gravy beef etc), cut into small chunks.
2 tbspn cooking OIL
3tbspn FLOUR, I used gluten free cornflour which was fine
2 cloves of GARLIC, finely chopped
Veges of your choice, I used carrots, potatoes, courgettes and some spinach thrown in at the end.
2 rashers of BACON, chopped into cubes.
about 2 cups of BEEF STOCK (chicken would probably be OK too)

Combine flour and curry powder and toss to coat the meat.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, and then the meat to brown. Do this in batches if your pan is small.

Set beef aside and chop the veges into large chunks.

Fry the bacon in the unwashed pan. This will allow the bacon to pick up all the delicious left overs from browning the beef.

Add beef, bacon, veges and stock to the slow cooker. Make sure the stock just covers everything.

Serve with rice and a sprinkling of coriander. This should serve a crowd of about 4-5, so down size if there is less of you, or pop in the freezer for another night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sticky Lemon Slice

I can not believe how much of a slacker I have been with this blog, I am not even remotely sticking to my self proclaimed 'rough guide'...hopeless! I don't even know what I have been doing that keeps me so very busy. I am now counting down the days to my return to work, The little Boss is going to be looked after by someone new for three whole days a week, I am stressing out! I keep thinking how lucky I am that I can do part time, and I know it will become easier over time, but right now I can not imagine being apart from our wee man for more then a few hours, let alone a few days. On a positive note, Spring is finally here, One Tree Hill is full of the related joys, lambs, calves and daffodils. Unfortunately we don't yet have the sunshine as proof, in fact we have had the opposite, rain and gail strength wind...ripped off!

In honour of the first day of spring I made a delicious Lemon slice, thanks to Alison Holst. She totally knows here stuff when it comes to old school slices and biscuits...and her recipes are always super easy and absolute crowd pleasers. The base has a short bread flavour and texture and the topping is like a lemon custard with a slightly caramelised top...oh so good!


You will need a food processor for this recipe.

2 cups plain FLOUR
150g cold BUTTER, cut into cubes

1 1/2 cups SUGAR
thinly peeled rind of half a LEMON (use a vegetable peeler for best results)
3 large EGGS (or 4 medium)
1/4 cup of LEMON JUICE (you'll need about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup self-raising FLOUR (or 1/4 cup plain flour with 1/4 tspn baking powder well mixed)

Turn oven to 160C. Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper, ensuring the sides are covered and corners are sealed (fold the paper rather then cutting) so the liquid topping will not run off.

Measure the flour, icing sugar and butter into the food processor and blend until the butter is finely blended through the dry ingredients. It will look quite dry and powdery, but don't fret. Tip the mixture into the tin and press down using the back of a fish slice or something similar. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins, or until firm and straw-coloured.

While the base is cooking...Without cleaning the blender add the sugar and lemon rind, blend until the rind is finely chopped through the sugar. Add the eggs, lemon juice and flour. Process until smooth.

Pour onto the partly cooked base and put back into the oven for about 30mins. The top should be lightly browned and there should not be any wobble when the tray is jiggled.

Once cooled slice into squares with a heavy oiled knife. If you are serving to guests you could sprinkle with some icing sugar just before you put it on the plate.

Dont you think the yellowness just screams spring!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daring Bakers...Baked Alaska

I finally got around to completing my Daring bakers challenge. This month the Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers have partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petite Fours. The sources of Elissa's chellenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.

I chose to go with the Baked Alaska, mainly because the idea has always intrigued me. Again the recipe was quite laborious with three components to put together (cake, ice cream and meringue). I have never eaten pound cake and think it must be an American cake as I remember it being mentioned on Grey Anatomy once (both entertaining and educational). The process of browning the butter was quite interesting and not something I had ever done before, I think it contributed a wonderful flavour to the cake, and will do it again.

Overall I didn't think too much of the dessert, the meringue was really soft and fluffy, which is not my favourite thing, I find things that are airy in texture make me feel a bit gross when they are in my mouth. The pound cake was quite dry, which I think was caused by sitting in the freezer allowing the meringue to set and then blasting it in the hot oven to brown it off.

I would recommend giving the pound cake a whirl, it was dense and quite rich with a lovely flavour from the browned butter. It would make a good birthday cake if you felt like a change from a plain sponge cake.


275g Unsweetened BUTTER

2 cups cake FLOUR (never heard of, put 2 tbspn of cornflour into your measuring cup and make up to a standard cup with plain flour)


1/2 tsp SALT

1/2 cup lightly packed BROWN SUGAR

1/3 cup granulated SUGAR

4 large EGGS


Preheat the oven to 160C, place a tray in the centre of the oven and prepare a 25cm x 25cm baking tray with some baking paper.

Put the butter into a saucepan and heat slowly. On a medium heat gently brown the butter, it will smell delicious and nutty. Watch it like a HAWK it will burn easily. Once ready allow to cool, transfer to a shallow bowl and pop in the freezer so the butter congeals, but doesn't go completely hard (about 15mins).

Sieve together the flour, baking power and salt.

Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Combine mixtures gently until just mixed. Scrape into prepared baking tray.

Cook at 160C for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tray and turn out on a rack.

You could cut this in half and fill with jam and cream, or ice with a really rich ganache. The cake is quite plain, but a perfect base to impress.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The best muesli slice...ever

I cannot believe it has been nearly 2 weeks since my last blog....shocking! It has been a very busy couple of weeks, The Boss' Great Grandmother came to stay and we went on a road trip up north to Keri Keri, I love Northland so it was a real treat. I suspect Great Grandma left with a bleeding tongue due to the number of times she had to bite it, as she witnessed my attempts of 'modern' parenting. The wonderful thing about my Grandmother is she makes her own pastry and bread, she could not hide her disappointment when she caught site of my frozen bought pastry and bags of bread. So while she stayed she made us a wonderful bacon and egg pie, which nearly had me converted to making my own, yet to be truly converted though. She also made us a Yorkshire pudding, which I am going to have a go at asap, so watch this space. Yorkshire pudding is not for those threatened by heart disease, but is a delicious treat with a slow roasted piece of beef and gravy.

Onto this super slice I made for Mr Hoopers lunch box this week. You need a few ingredients, but things are flexible with this recipe so feel free to mix things up a bit. You may recall a previous blog for a muesli slice, well this one has similar ingredients, but is naughtier, and doesn't need cooking, fabo!


125g crushed BISCUITS such as malt, arrowroot or wine (not too fine, a chunky rubble)
25g shredded COCONUT
100g chopped HAZELNUTS or WALNUTS
125g ROLLED OATS, toasted (about 7-10mins spread on a tray in a hot oven)
50g chopped DATES
100g chopped DRIED APRICOTS
100g melted BUTTER

about 100g ICING SUGAR
zest and juice of half a LEMON

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and condensed milk, mix very well. Line a 25cm x 30cm (approx) tray with some baking paper. Press the mixture into the tray and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

You can either mix the icing ingredients by hand with a vigorous stir, or throw everything into a food processor. Spread icing on the slice and decorate with a sprinkling of nuts or pumpkin seeds if you so desire.

Some variations you could try out...
-replace the rolled oats with you favourite muesli
-replace the choc chips with currants, dried cranberries, or crystallised ginger
-use macadamia or pecan nuts

I hope you enjoy this slice, it is so easy and a fabulous sweet treat to fill the 3pm void, and quite frankly who can resist cream cheese icing!

I am planning a baby shower at the moment, so if you have any hot tips on throwing the best shower ever, please share them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Date Snowballs

Today began poorly. As Mr Hooper walked out the door for work, I clung desperately to his leg, begging him to pull a sicky. He refused. As the door shut behind him, I rocked gently back and forth in the corner of our living room, watching my 6.5 month old son move around the room leaving behind him a trail of destruction. The Boss has transformed into The Beast, he is crawling and pulling himself up, so I am now on strict concussion watch, his head is massive so gravity enjoys dragging it towards the floor at a tremendous rate.

To maintain moderate sanity I imprisoned him in his high chair, with the wonderful satisfaction that ultimately I have the upper hand, well at least for now, no doubt I will receive years of pay back when he is twice me size and has a drivers licence. So as The Beast writhed with frustration in his new limited dwelling, I set about making these super delicious treats. My Mum makes them often and calls them Date Slugs, I have changed the name to glam them up a bit!

1 loosely packed cup of soft BROWN SUGAR
1 1/2 cups DATES chopped finely
1 beaten EGG
2 1/2 cups of RICE BUBBLES, aka rice crispies.
about 1/2 a cup of shredded COCONUT for rolling
Melt butter in a pot, and add the sugar, dates, egg and vanilla. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and stir for 5 minutes. Allow to cool until warm, don't let it go cold. Stir in the rice bubbles. Make into small balls with damp hands and then roll in the coconut.

Since this mornings 'episode' I have eaten 5 of these date snowballs and am feeling remarkably better, perhaps they are also medicinal.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daring Baker - Swiss Swirl ice cream cake

The car got broken into last night. It is not a flash car, in fact it is a pretty average car,full of Mr Hoopers crap, so I'm not too sure what they were hoping to achieve. They did try to steal the petrol, but the tank was empty, so my first suspicion is BP have decided instead of drilling for oil, they are just going to go on a global syphoning campaign. Good luck mighty BP, we are always running on empty anyway.

So onto my first Daring Bakers Challenge.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita's world-life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that's then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

The recipe required loads of different components, which is the kind of recipe I tend to shy away from. I prefer to compile in one go, where as this recipe took about 3 days to complete, mainly due to freezing time. It began with making a Swiss Roll, which I found really hard, it cracked all over the place, but due to time I managed to sort of squish it all together. Then there were two batches of ice cream to be made and a hot fudge sauce, this was all layered together to create an ice cream cake sheltered with a layer of swiss roll slices. I moaned the whole way through this recipe, however Mr Hooper hovered like a starving rabid dog, licking everything in sight. As it turned out, the dessert was really yummy, kind of like ice cream with brownie bits, which is my kind of pudding.

The recipe is very long and detailed so if you are interested in giving it a go, check out at the Daring Bakers Website, and if that doesn't work let me know and I will post the recipe details.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blueberry and White Chocolate Muffins

The last few weeks have been all about low fat food, bran and lentils......yawn. Today I have decided to turn an old page and return to my love of butter, chocolate and sugar. Before I go on to this delicious recipe, I need to ask...if you are reading this, I need help. Last night I cooked pork chops, and they were a disaster. I have two pork chops left in the freezer, and they will remain there until I discover a recipe that will actually produce a delicious, tender, juicy chop. Mine were dry and chewy, just terrible, please let me know if you have any super tips.

Onto less piggy issues, the muffins.....yum! I made these this morning while The Boss was snoozing, they took me about 10 minutes to put together, and about 25 minutes to cook. I found the recipe on another blog Blisstree. The recipe included a streusel topping which I didn't do, I wanted to be quick before the beast arose.


makes 12 good sized muffins

2 cups FLOUR
2 1/2 tspn BAKING POWDER
1/4 cup BROWN SUGAR, packed
1/4 tsp SALT
1 large EGG, beaten (I used 2 small eggs)
1/4 cup melted BUTTER
1 tspn VANILLA extract
1/2 tspn LEMON zest
1 cup WHITE CHOCOLATE, either use chips or buttons chopped up
2 cups BLUEBERRIES, should have been fresh, but the frozen ones I used worked great.

Set oven temp to 190C (375F)

Sieve together the flour and baking powder and stir in the sugars and salt.

Mix together the beaten egg, melted butter, milk, vanilla and lemon zest.

Fold the wet and dry ingredients together, adding the blueberries and white chocolate while you mix.

Spoon into the muffin tray. I used cupcake cases, but if you don't have them make sure you grease and flour the tray well, the chocolate and berries can get a bit sticky. Instead of the struesel I popped a white chocolate button on top before they went in the oven. They are done when a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool and then turn out of the tray, you might need to get a knife to help release them from the tray.

These are such a great way to start the week, and so fast and easy, enjoy!