Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sew much to learn


I am on a mission to relearn how to sew clothes. Back in highschool I managed to turn out a fully boned, strapless black taffeta dress, complete with scalloped over skirt trimmed with fouffy taffeta bows.

Sadly there are no photos of me in that dress but a small part of me wishes I'd kept it as a reminder of what I could do. I didn't sit at a sewing machine again til I was in my late 20s - making a belly dancing costume. As you do.

Last year I got a new sewing machine for my birthday and I tackled my first quilt and a dress for Olive. Pinking all those seams drove me crazy - Olive refusing to wear said dress made me crazier!


Last month was my birthday so I picked out a second hand overlocker (only used twice!) and a dressmaking dummy. I ordered the awesome Colette  book and a beginners dress pattern from local indie designer Blue Ginger Doll. I picked out some gorgeous fabric and matching thread. I sensibly made a muslin (test dress out of calico) and was stumped - my boobs were NEVER going to fit in that dress!

So now I am doing a crash course in Full Bust Adjustments.

I am impatient. I want to make this dress so I can move onto shirtdresses. This is my goal - a wardrobe full of lovely, perfectly fitting shirtdresses.

In the mean time I'm going to convert a beloved cotton sundress that no longer fits my boobs into a swanky full skirt and leave the zipper in (thanks to some tips I picked up from Frocks and Frou Frou).



 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Apple & Yoghurt muffins {Recipe}



From time to time I lose track of what's in the fruit bowl or vegetable crisper. Oranges go soft, beans sweat and grow fuzzy.... I feel guilty when I tos them into the compost.

This morning I spied four forlorn apples languishing at the bottom of the bowl. Determined not to relegate them to the worms, I decided to turn them into muffins.

There are a thousand or more muffin recipes out there and for me I prefer ones that use oil instead of butter. A dry muffin is a sad affair so you want to add moistness. In this case, yoghurt comes to the rescue.

I also like my fruit to be soft in the muffin once its cooked so I actually pre-cook it in the microwave first. Just peel, dice, pop into a microwave safe container and cover with a lid or a folded piece of paper towel. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes until tender. You'll be amazed how much apple-ier they taste than had you used raw apple pieces.

You could substitute the apple for chopped up plums or pears.

RECIPE: Apple and Yoghurt Muffins
Adapted from Plum & Yoghurt Muffin recipe by Allan Campion and Michelle Curtis

Ingredients
125ml sunflower oil (you could use vegetable or ricebran oil instead)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (I use Greek yoghurt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
2 large or 4 small apples - peeled, cored, diced and cooked as described above in microwave


  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line muffin trays with paper cases - I made 16 muffins
  2. Mix together the sugar and flour in a large bowl and then toss through the apple pieces to coat.
  3. In a seperate bowl or jug, whisk together the eggs, oil and yoghurt/
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together until just combined.
  5. Divide amongst muffin cases - filling 3/4 full.
  6. Bake approximately 20 mins or until cooked through when tested.
  7. Allow to sit in pan for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  8. Once cool, store in an airtight container for 2-3 days or wrap individually in small freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Clipping recipes - the great magazine cull



I started collecting food magazines about fifteen years ago. I was obsessed with food, cooking and the ins and outs of the Australian food scene.

Fast forward to late last year, the top shelf of Olive's wardrobe was groaning with back issues of Delicious, Donna Hay, Good Taste, Vogue Entertaining, Gourmet Traveller & Cuisine.

They were organised by title and season so I could pull out a set of Autumnal issues in March and seek inspiration. But truth be told, less and less of the recipes grabbed my interest. I'm not interested in cheffy tricks and complicated processes anymore. Nowadays I'm looking for quick, simple recipes that get me through the week and stand up to being reheated when Mr Di-licious comes home late from work.

Faced with the prospect of moving boxes and boxes of magazines that I hardly looked at anymore, I decided to get rid of them...but not before one last flick through in order to clip any recipes that still caught my eye.

I made a big dent in the pile but I still ended up moving boxes of them to our new place..three months ago.  This afternoon I pulled an armful down off the shelf and started clipping again.

I've found a stack of recipes using plums that'll come in handy next December - roasted plums & spiced plum chutney. An awesome sounding lavender jelly recipe and more cake recipes. The nicest surprise was finding notes scrawled in the margins of meals we loved 10 years ago. Unsurprisingly, they're the type of recipes I want to cook now. 

Of course clipping recipes is all well and good. Instead of shelves of magazines I now have multiple boxes of recipes waiting to be filed. A project for another day......

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Still here.....

My first stitching project. Embroidery is highly addictive - I stayed up to all hours to finish this one.

 It's true I haven't posted for a while. Life has been busy - doesn't it always get like that?

A couple of months as a working mum and I think I can almost say I've gotten the hang of it.

I've had to rethink my approach to the week, how I cook, how I clean and how I carve out time for me.

Inspired by my late Nanna, I've made craft my release valve to life.

I've completed my first quilt, my first stitching project as well as making items for my CWA branch's upcoming craft stall.

I still love cooking but craft has less calories...

And I'm still blogging....it's just that sometimes I get a little distracted.....

A mug warmer for my niece using some vintage buttons from my Nanna's stash.
Making a bundle of tissue holders for my CWA Branch's upcoming craft stall. Great Teacher's Gifts!

Last step of my first quilt - sewing on the binding. I am now a confident ladder stitcher!

The finished quilt. I learnt so much making this. I've promised to make one for Olive for her birthday now.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Berry, Apple & Almond Muffins {Recipe}


"So what do you put in Olive's lunchbox?" my girlfriend asked me yesterday.

It's something I get asked a lot. Generally its a small bread roll with vegemite or jam, a piece of fruit, maybe a cheese stick and something baked.

Muffins make a regular appearance.  They're just so easy to whip up using whatever's lying around in the fruit bowl, pantry or freezer.

Today's flavour combination came about from having some leftover almond meal from making Kransekake last week, the last of the bag of frozen berries and a container of cooked apple in the fridge.



I've been cooking up apple a lot lately since Olive's teeth have gone wobbly. (The tooth fairy will be visiting again tonight.) Cooking it in the microwave is a breeze and means you have apple pieces as opposed to apple mush. Pop it in a container and throw in a spoon and your lunchbox is apple friendly again.

Once the muffins are cool, wrap them up  in small freezer bags and toss them in the freezer. They'll defrost in their lunchbox before morning recess and be as fresh as the day you made them.



Recipe: Berry, Apple & Almond Muffins
Makes 12 regular sized muffins

Ingredients
1 apple - peeled & chopped
1 3/4 cups Self Raising Flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup frozen berries (if using strawberries - cut them up a bit)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk

Method

  • Place chopped apple in a microwave safe bowl / container and cover with a folded piece of paper towel.
  • Microwave on High for 3 - 4 minutes (depending on powerful your microwave is). Allow to cool slightly.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C.
  • Line a 12 hole muffin pan with baking cups.
  • Put the flour, brown sugar and almond meal into a large mixing bowl and mix together using a whisk to get rid of any lumps.
  • Stir through the apple and berries and make sure they're well coated in flour. This will stop the fruit clumping together and help distribute them more evenly through your batter.
  • Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir through til just combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cups - almost filling the cups full. There will be slightly more mixture than you need. I know that's annoying but feel free to spoon into mini muffin tins if you feel inclined.
  • Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer.
  • Leave in pan for five minutes before turning out to a cake rack to cool completely.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Choc Raspberry Brownies {Recipe}



Every now and then you experiment in the kitchen and create something magical. This is one of those moments.

I first whipped up these brownies for a BBQ to thank mates for helping shift a very heavy steel workbench. After a lot of beer and wine you don’t want a fussy dessert. It’s much better to have something that satisfies the sweet craving and can be eaten with fingers.

I shared the recipe on the blog at the time and they were really popular. Then I accidently killed my blog and the recipe was lost... And then I lost the photos.....

This weekend I'm catching up with friends, one of whom has been begging me to re-share the recipe on the new Di-licious blog.

So Sandy, this one's for you.

This brownie is a bit different from regular brownies in that there’s no melted chocolate in the batter, just some chocolate chips. 

And raspberries.

I used white chocolate chips because that’s what I had in the pantry. You could easily substitute milk or dark chips but I kind of like white chocolate and raspberries together.

When you make these (& I know that you will), you have to promise me that you’ll resist the temptation to eat them straight away. They need to cool down completely in the pan before you lift out the whole brownie to slice it.

They’re perfect just as they are. No need for cream. Maybe a serviette to help wipe the crumbs off your face and fingers.

Best also to make the kids sit outside while they eat them...

I can’t advise how long they’ll last in an airtight container in the cupboard because they were all gobbled up. If you have a crowd over I can pretty much guarantee you wont need to solve that dilemma either.

These brownies are not a diet food. Enjoy in moderation. Take them to work and charm your boss – who knows, you might get a pay rise or employee of the year!

Recipe: Double Choc Raspberry Brownies
Author: Di Nolan
Serves: 24
Completely irresistible brownies studded with raspberries that are surprisingly light.

Ingredients
125g butter, melted and cooled
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
¼ tsp salt
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions
  • Preheat your oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line a lamington pan (20cm x 30cm) with baking paper so that the paper overhangs.
  • Whip together the sugar, eggs and vanilla til thick and creamy. Add the cooled melted butter and mix til thoroughly combined.
  • Sift over the flour, cocoa and salt and mix through til combined.
  • Stir through the raspberries and chocolate chips.
  • Pour mixture into prepared pan and ensure fruit and chocolate chips are evenly distributed. Smooth top.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top should be cooked and a skewer inserted will have some sticky crumbs on it.
  • Allow to cool completely in pan on top of a wire rack.
  • Carefully lift out brownie using the overhanging baking paper.
  • Cut into 24 slices.

Notes
Don’t worry about defrosting the raspberries – just stir them through frozen.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Spicy Lentil & Corn Soup {Recipe}



Wintery weather has finally lashed itself over Melbourne and I just want to snuggle up in front of the fire with a big bowl of warm, comforting soup.

I try to make a big pot of soup every week. Not only is it economical, a bowl of lentil-laden goodness is filling and healthy too.

Soups are also a great way to use up the half or near empty jars of spice pastes you have languishing around in your fridge. The harissa paste was almost empty and a perfect match for the sad little capsicums rolling around in the crisper drawer. You could mix and match with whatever you have in your fridge (although I must say the harissa gives a nice hint of heat without blowing your socks off!)

The rest of the ingredients are basic pantry staples - tinned tomatoes, tinned corn and lentils.

This makes a very thick, almost stew like consistency soup (which we love). If you prefer a thinner consistency, use an extra 2 cups of stock or water.

Or why not leave it thick and turn it into a Mexican supper with a generous dollop of sour cream, squeeze of lime juice, fresh coriander and eat it with tortilla chips?

This pot will keep us going for most of the week but it would also freeze beautifully.

What's your perfect cold weather comfort food?

Recipe: Spicy Lentil & Corn Soup
An original recipe by Di Nolan
Serves: 6

Ingredients
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 sticks celery, diced
2 red capsicums, cored and diced
1 Tblsp harissa paste
2 x 440g tins diced tomato
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups extra water (I half fill each of the empty tomato tins, give them a swirl to get the last of the tomatoey goodness and tip this in for the extra water).
2 cups red split lentils
1 x 440g tin corn kernels, drained

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over low-medium heat.
  • Add the onion, celery and capsicum and saute until the onion is softened.
  • Add the harissa paste and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the tinned tomato, stock,extra water, lentils and corn kernels and stir well. Bring pot to the boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer soup for 30 minutes, stirring every so often to stop lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. (Alternatively you could sit the pot on a simmer mat if you have one.)
  • Enjoy!