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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Balsamic Marinated Steaks

Definitely a meat and potatoes kind of weekend.
I found a tray of budget scotch fillet in the freezer over the weekend and decided that although I wasn’t too sure if budget meant tough, I’d marinate it in a vinegar based marinade just in case it could use some tenderising. Turned out pretty spectacular so I’m not sure that budget necessarily means tough but best to err on the side of caution.

I served this with just a microwaved potato (I love that ‘served’, sounds so elegant, totally unlike ‘I dumped this on a plate with a zapped spud’ Haha). I really fancied a simple potato with butter and I am very partial to microwaving them as opposed to waiting for them to cook in the oven.
A simple and tasty weekend meal.
Balsamic Marinated Steaks
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons coarse mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Rosemary
4 steaks

Mix together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and rosemary in a large, shallow dish.
Place steaks in marinade and turn to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. (mine stayed in for about 6 hours)
Lightly coat clean grids of grill with cooking oil spray. Heat the grill to medium-high heat.
Place steaks on grill and cook, to your desired doneness.(I hate to give times for steak, it’s all about personal preference)


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Oreo Cupcakes

This is a guest recipe, my daughter decided to contribute to the campaign to fatten me up further by making these wonderful Oreo cupcakes. I am not a big Oreo fan but I am a big cupcake fan and the combination of both is amazing. For once I am the eater, not the cooker 🙂 and I am very much enjoying the exchange of roles.

Even if you are not a particular fan of this classic American biscuit, I urge you to try these cupcakes, they are really very good.

Oreo Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

1 2/3 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tblsp Oreo cookie crumbs

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer speed on low, add half the dry ingredients followed by milk. Beat minimally until just combined and add the rest of the dry ingredients until just mixed. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos.
Fill the liners with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (about 20mins).
Cool in the tray for 5 minutes and then on a wire rack. Do not frost until completely cool.

To prepare the frosting, in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in the cookie crumbs with a spatula.
Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe frosting decoratively on top of the cupcakes. (We had a little trouble getting the frosting to pipe even though the biscuits were thoroughly crushed; maybe we just need a bigger tip)

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My favourite meal is left-overs

After a long day out and about, coming home to the aroma of a pork roast in the oven was just heaven. I have my wonderful husband to thank for that and it was delicious. He had simply rubbed the pork skin with salt and put it in the oven. When I came in a joint effort to prepare potatoes, broccoli, rice and gravy rounded out the meal very nicely indeed. Our dinner was as delicious a meal as you could hope for mid-week.

The pork roast was a fairly large roast for the 3 of us and yesterday I pulled the remains from the refrigerator to slice and dice into another meal. It ended up being a large amount of meat (and the odd left over spud along with it) so I decided on a cottage pie for dinner last night.

This couldn’t have been simpler, the pork was so full of flavour that I decided against dressing it up with anything at all aside from the leftover gravy from the roast (of course that had lots of tasty bits having been made with the pork drippings). I chopped up the meat and the leftover potatoes, mixed them with the leftover gravy and popped the mix into a casserole dish. After being topped with a good thick layer of mashed potato and a handful of grated cheddar the dish was placed in the oven until the top began to brown.

Oh I do love good hearty comfort food in the winter and this has to be close to my number one pick for the best thing ever to do with leftovers. As I am writing I am thinking of lunch (hours away yet) and I can’t wait to dig into the cottage pie leftovers. Who ever thought that leftover leftovers could be so good?

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Chicken in Garlic Sauce

This received a ‘you have to make this again Mum’ from my daughter, high praise indeed!

I enjoyed both the simplicity and the taste of this dish. It was good and wholesome and hearty whilst still retaining a freshness about it. Use your own judgment and add the garlic to taste, the recipe calls for 10 cloves, I probably used less and it was very tasty, think of your family and co-workers and adjust accordingly.
I also added some more liquid during the cooking, it seemed to be getting a little dry and rather than risk burning and ruining the tasty sauce I added another 1/4 cup of water to give the chicken more time to cook thoroughly.


Chicken in Garlic Sauce
Serves 3

6 chicken drumsticks or pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 garlic cloves, crushed (I used 3 heaped tsps of crushed garlic from a jar)
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/4 cup chicken broth (I used vegie stock)
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or a good splash more if you like)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken, and cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Turn the chicken over.
Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in broth, wine, saffron, and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is done.
Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

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New Hair do’s and Raspberry Muffins

I have finally caught up with all the recent post from my favourite bloggers. It’s been a hectic few days and I just have not had the time to sit and read everyone’s thoughts this week, this morning I made time and put time aside also to catch up on my own posts that have been slightly erratic recently.

Yesterday was a long but fairly pleasant day spent with my daughter and a friend who is training to be a hairdresser. My friend recently made a very generous offer to colour my hair (she needs experience and offered to do it for a lot less expense than a salon normally would) but I had to decline as I don’t dye my hair. My daughter however, as all late teens are, is as keen as mustard to change her hair colour at every possible opportunity, so I accepted on her behalf and yesterday we made the trek into the city to the training salon.

She had everything under the sun done to her hair and was beautifully looked after by the team of trainees and their very friendly and competent teacher. They even trimmed my hair for me while I waited. At the end of the day everybody gushed over how wonderful her hair looked and she did indeed look gorgeous. She is very happy (and so is my pocket book at the amazingly low price of it all). It was a long day and a long trip both there and home again, but it was worth every penny and moment to spend time with and do something nice for my girl.

So thank you to all the lovely ladies at Spring Hair Academy in Perth WA for your kindness, friendliness and professionalism. We had a lovely day there and will remember you every time we look in the mirror. We will be happy to recommend you to everyone we know and I am sure you will see us again.

And because we spoke about them yesterday and had everyone there drooling, here is my favourite muffin recipe.

Raspberry Muffins

1/2 cup – Butter
2 – Eggs
1 1/8 cup – Sugar
3 cups – Flour (divided)
3 t – Baking Powder
1/2 t – Salt
1 pinch – Baking Soda
1 cup – Milk
1 t – Vanilla
2 cups – Raspberries (I use frozen)
Raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C degrees.
Grease 2 12 cup muffin pans, or use liners. In a large bowl cream butter with sugar and add eggs.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of the flour and combine the remaining flour with baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Combine milk and vanilla.
Alternately add the milk and flour mixture to the creamed butter and egg mixture.
Sprinkle reserved flour over berries and gently fold berries into the mixture.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full and sprinkle tops generously with raw sugar.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until done.

The sugar makes a crunchy topping that adds a real flavour and texture to the muffin.


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Jam it!

Jamy, chewy and nutty, these went down pretty well with visitors on the weekend.
I was feeling a little low the other day so did what I like to do best and baked up a storm. First it was the Cardamom cookies and immediately thereafter it was these little beauties. None of them outlasted the weekend’s guests.

I find it very therapeutic to bake and it’s even better to see people enjoying the fruits of my labour. If you want to cheer me up, come over for a cuppa and eat everything I have made this week, I’ll even package up a care package for you to take home, as long as my food gets eaten and enjoyed, I am a happy bunny. It also saves me from eating the lot myself which is a blessing in itself J.

The recipe called for peach jam, I didn’t have peach jam but I did have a jar with a little plum, another with a little apricot and another with a little ginger jam. It all added up nicely to a little over 280g so it made a quick trip into the microwave to warm up and a good stir to blend and this is the flavour we ended up with. Obviously your slice taste will vary with your jam selection but I can tell you that just about anything goes.

Jam Pecan Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
280g peach jam or preserves

Combine first 6 ingredients; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.
Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press remaining mixture evenly into a lightly greased 20cm square pan.
Spread peach jam over base; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over pecans.
Bake at 180C for 35 to 40 minutes; cool. Cut into bars.



For the love of Cardamom

I made these biscuits today purely for my own satisfaction, that is not to say that I am not happy to share them or that no-else likes them, I just made them because I like cardamom.
Cardamom is one of those spices that seems to be perpetually out of fashion, you rarely see recipes with it included but personally, I really like it. It is a fragrant spice that is different from anything else that is readily available in our usual spice palate.

Of course you could substitute any other spice you prefer in this recipe if cardamom isn’t to your taste.

This is a light and dry biscuit, perfect to have with a cup of tea or coffee. I think it is a bit delicate for dunking though so be careful if you are that way inclined.


Cardamom Tea Cookies

1 cup butter
1 egg
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Allow butter and egg to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with an electric
mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 2/3 cup sugar; beat
about 5 minutes or until well-combined and very fluffy, scraping sides
of bowl occasionally. Add egg, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Beat
until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can; stir in any
remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
Cover and chill dough about 1 hour if it is difficult to handle.
Shape dough into 2.5cm balls. Place 5cm apart on ungreased
cookie sheets. Flatten gently with fingers and sprinkle with extra sugar.
Bake in a 180C oven about 10 minutes or until
edges are just set and bottoms are very lightly browned. Let cookies
cool on sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.