Cocoa Brownies

Abby wanted to share brownies with her class today, for her 7th birthday.  We got home around around 10pm last night from camping and I needed to make the brownies with ingredients I already had, so I ended up using a recipe from Alton Brown.   They are not the brownie recipe I always make from King Arthur, so I wasn’t sure how they would turn out (not an ideal situation, new recipe, late night), so nothing like a class of 2nd graders to test them out and give a review!  Drew did a taste-test this morning and loved them, and as it turns out, Abby’s class enjoyed them too.  And, I figured you can’t go wrong with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  They are not really gooey, but they are really moist – even the edges – and have a cocoa flavor.  I think next time I will try dark chocolate cocoa powder, and ice cream, and strawberries, and……

Cocoa Brownies

Serves 24!

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 ounces butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Line 9×13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Beat eggs until lightened in color, then add both sugars.  Combine the rest and mix well.  (Alton does say to sift everything, but I didn’t 😉
  4. Pour batter into pan and cook for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then pick up the brownies by the foil and move to a rack to cool.
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Grilled Tasmanian Salmon with Mango Kiwi Salsa and Wilted Spinach

Another great day at the fish market, the kids picked out a whole Tasmanian Salmon!   You can prepare this meal very quickly so it is ideal for the hot weather we’ve been having 😉  The spinach was so fast and delicious I may have to make it again this week.

Grilled Tasmanian Salmon with Mango and Kiwi Salsa and Wilted Spinach

These recipes are from a couple of Cooking Light recipes.

Serves 4.


  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4  (6 ounce) salmon fillets
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients and brush on salmon.  Allow to marinate for about 10 minutes. (Any remaining sauce can be used baste the fish when grilling.)
  2. Grill salmon on medium- high 5 minutes on each side, until flaky.


  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced mango
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced kiwi
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Combine all, serve over fish.


  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 10 ounces spinach
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  1. Heat sesame oil, add garlic and spinach.  Sauté for 30 seconds.
  2. Remove from heat and add soy sauce.
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Roasted Mushroom Risotto

I LOVE mushroom risotto.  This recipe is unique because the mushrooms are roasted in the oven as the risotto is being made.  I used a recipe from my Sunset Cookbook as a guide, but pretty much changed everything.  Sausage was served on the side as I’m not sure my kids love risotto as much as I do – yet!  Today we adopted our first cat, Dozer, so I should have made lasagna 😉

Roasted Mushroom Risotto

Serves 6.

Roasted Mushrooms

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms sliced (whatever you have on hand) I used button and enoki
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper


  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch spinach (10 ounces)
  • 2 cups risotto rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth (I used turkey stock)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a greased 9×13 pan mix mushrooms, onion, oil, butter, thyme, salt and pepper. Bake stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
  2. For risotto melt butter in a frying pan, add onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add white wine and stir until evaporated. Then gradually add chicken broth one cup at a time stirring after each addition until the broth is almost absorbed.  About 20-25 minutes.
  4. Stir in parmesan, butter, spinach and mushrooms.
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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Finally, a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that the whole family loves!  I’ve tried many recipes and was miffed as to why my kids would not eat homemade mac and cheese, but only mac and cheese from a box.  Since mac and cheese is not readily available here in Australia, I decided to “give it another go” 🙂 this time only using cheeses I know the kids love – cheddar and monterey jack – and SUCCESS, they all love it!!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe was adapted from both Martha Stewart and Cooks Illustrated.

Serves 6-8.

Bread Crumb Topping

  • 2 cups panko
  • 3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Mac & Cheese

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack, shredded (2 cups)
  • 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven broiler, set rack in middle position.
  2. Mix panko and melted butter, set aside.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions with 1 teaspoon salt, and strain.
  4. Heat butter, when melted add flour and whisk in flour and continue whisking for about 30-45 seconds.
  5. Add milk slowly, bring to a simmer and continue stirring for about 4 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat, add cheeses and mix until melted.  Add pasta and cook until heated through and steaming.
  7. Pour pasta and sauce mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with panko.
  8. Broil in oven until browned, turning pan if necessary, 3-5 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes.
Posted in Kids Dig It, Main, Pasta | Tagged , | 2 Comments

John Dory with Caramelized Baby Bok Choy, Capers and Brown Butter

Today I planned on making tuna since it was the latest special at my local Sydney Fish Market, however they had sold out!  So I needed to decide on the spot something new which I could make at home, hopefully with the ingredients I had already purchased from the grocery.  I quickly chose the John Dory because it sounded somewhat familiar, which upon reflection I think only sounded familiar from Dory in Finding Nemo 😉  Upon getting home I unwrapped the fish and discovered it has a false eye (pic at the end)- which protects it from enemies – and I think it was looking at me, wondering what was I going to to with it… I decided to use a recipe from a the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook by Lauren Murdoch.  She used skate and witlof (a relation to belgian endive).

John Dory with Caramelized Baby Bok Choy

Serves 4.

  • 4 4ounce filets John Dory (alternative fish – halibut)
  • flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 Tablespoons baby capers, rinsed and dried
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley
  • salt flakes, ground pepper

Caramelized Baby Bok Choy

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons caster sugar (fine sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 3 baby bok choy, cut in half
  1. Place butter, sugar and salt in frying pan just big enough for the bok choy.
  2. Add bok choy, cut side down and water just so it cover half of the bok choy.
  3. Cover with a piece of baking paper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove paper and cook until water is evaporated and bok choy is browned.  Keep warm.
  5. Dust John Dory with flour.
  6. Add oil to fry pan and cook the John Dory for 2 minutes per side.
  7. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  8. Add butter to the pan and heat until brown and foaming.
  9. Add capers and fry for 20 seconds, then add lemon juice, parsley.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Place bok choy then John Dory on plate and spoon over caper butter sauce.

John Dory Fake Eye

Posted in Kids Dig It, Main, Seafood | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mexican Lasagna

When we lived in California, my neighbor, Elsa, introduced me to this recipe.  She is one of those amazing cooks that doesn’t have a recipe for everything and can just cook off the top of her head.  So, here is my attempt at a dish that she makes so effortlessly.  You can sauté the jalapeños with the onions or add them later as a garnish.  I sautéed green chilies with the onions in this recipe, then added the jalapeños as a garnish so it would be more kid friendly.

Mexican Lasagna

Serves 6-8.

  • 4 chicken breasts poached and shredded 
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can green chilies or 1 roasted chile sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt
  • 12 corn tortillas, cut in half
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • jalapeños, garnish
  • cilantro, garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan sauté chicken, tomatoes, sour cream and 1 cup chicken stock and simmer about 10 minutes until reduced.
  3. In a small pan  sauté onions and green chilies.
  4. Add onions and chilies to chicken mixture, salt to taste.
  5. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
  6.  Line bottom of the pan with tortillas, then using a slotted spoon add chicken in alternating layers finishing with chicken on top.  Reserve remaining liquid for serving or when reheating. (There should be enough tortillas for 3 layers including the bottom).
  7. Top with cheese.
  8. Cover dish with foil and place in oven for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-7 minutes more.
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Pumpkin Bread

This is my go-to recipe for pumpkin bread.  It has a perfect balance of pumpkin and spice – not heavy on the spice – which makes it a favorite in our family.  I made it to send with my son, 8, on his first sleepover.  The food here in Australia isn’t that different, but just different enough for my kids to sometimes notice.  I know I’ve been at a loss here having kids over at our house – can’t fall back on peanut butter sandwiches because either they haven’t had one or they don’t like it.  Maybe kinda like our impression of Vegemite 😉  Anyway, makes me feel good knowing he has a bit of home with him.

Pumpkin Bread

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour a place I absolutely LOVE near our home in the USA.

Makes 2 loaves!!

  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin or 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl mix oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
  5. Divide batter between two loaf pans and cook for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn bread out of pans to cool.
Posted in Breakfast, Kids Dig It | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Yesterday was a scorching hot day – 107 degrees – so I wanted to make something quick in the morning that would be equally as quick to serve later for dinner.  On hot days we usually grill, but we were out of propane!  Oh and we currently don’t have air-conditioning!! We are crossing our fingers that it gets installed Monday.


This recipe inspired from The Easy Pressure Cooker Cookbook.  I used my pressure cooker to poach the chicken, which only takes about 5 minutes.  I was so excited to find Stubbs BBQ Sauce at the new Costco here!! When we lived in Austin we would go to Stubbs for the BBQ and live music – ahhh those were the days!!

Serves 6.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried onion
  • 1 1/c cups chicken stock
  • BBQ sauce
  1. To make rub: combine the garlic salt, brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, celery seeds and onion in a small bowl.
  2. Rubs spices on chicken, place chicken in pot and pour in chicken stock (the stock should cover the chicken).
  3. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Remove from heat.  Let stand covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from stock.  Strain stock and reserve. Shred chicken.
  5. Combine shredded chicken, 1 cup of stock, and 1 1/c  cups of your favorite BBQ sauce mix well and simmer.


Posted in Chicken, Kids Dig It, Main, Pressure Cooker | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Grilled Squid Salad

This weekend I took my first cooking class at The Sydney Fish Market!!  It was a Thai class that met at a Thai grocery store in Chinatown, then met up at The Fish Market School for the class.  The class was amazing!! I learned a bunch about Thai food, but I also got to finally clean (and debeak) a squid by myself and de-head then devein a shrimp without taking the shell off. (Yes I did take the head off shrimp with the shell parts, but then deveined it without taking the shell off – oh so tricky!!) I don’t even know why I am calling it shrimp because they are prawns here!

So anyway, LOVED the class and made the whole dinner tonight (minus the fishcakes) for my family as a celebration for an incredible Chrissy holiday!

Other recipes I made were: Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup and Red Curry Chicken.

Grilled Squid Salad


Squid Salad 2


My advice for this recipe is to not overcook the squid. Remember it keeps cooking a bit when you remove it from the heat 😉

Serves 6.

  • 1 pound squid, cleaned!!!!
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves fried garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 small Thai chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 head lettuce (a mixture is nice)
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 1/4 bunch Thai basil
  1. Score the inside of the squid hood to create an honey comb effect, then slice into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Combine fish sauce and 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil and marinate the squid and tentacles for 30 minutes.
  3. Dressing – combine lime juice, white sugar, chillies and fried garlic and set aside. (You can purchase fried garlic at the store or fry your own.)
  4. Heat the a flat grill (we don’t have these on our barbies in the US, you can use a fry pan) and grill the squid for 1-2 minutes each side.
  5. Add squid to dressing and toss.
  6. Arrange greens on a platter and place squid on the other side.
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Red Curry Chicken

Here is the version of red curry I made for my family.  In my class at the Sydney Fish Market we made it with fish (any fish that would work for a kabob would work well).

Red Curry Chicken 2

Red Curry Chicken


Serves 6.


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup tamarind water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 small pineapple
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 3 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • cilantro for garnish
  1. Spoon 1 cup of the cream from the top of the coconut can into wok and heat until boiling.
  2. Add curry paste and about 5 minutes.
  3. Add sugar fish sauce, tamarind water, stock and remaining coconut milk.
  4. Boil for about 5 minutes and sauce is reduced by half.
  5. Reduce heat, add pineapple, kaffir lime leaves and chicken. Cook for about 4 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasonings if necessary and garnish with cilantro.
Posted in Chicken, Kids Dig It | Tagged , , | 1 Comment