Ham and Cheese Sliders

We’ve been a bit quiet the last few weeks enjoying the school holidays and family time.  And after two weeks of that we were happy to see the family back to school and work!  We’ve been comparing diaries trying to plan our blog days and a few days to walk up a big hill (to try and balance the effects of the blog days!) and realised to our horror it’s less than nine weeks till Christmas! And once again we’re asking ourselves where has this year gone?

This weekend in New Zealand is Labour weekend when we “celebrate” the advent of the eight hour working day, but for most of us it’s a celebration of the beginning of warmer weather. Labour weekend in New Zealand also seems to be the date after which it’s socially acceptable to get out the sandals and shorts, swim in the sea and put away most of our winter woollies!

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Last night we had the pleasure of attending a local school fundraiser featuring Nadia Lim and were thrilled to grab a few minutes of her time for a chat and photo. We both came away with a healthy dose of inspiration and a new cookbook!! Nadia is such an impressive young woman and has achieved so much since winning Master Chef in 2011.  Her background in nutrition and dietetics means she really knows what she’s talking about.   IMG_0844

Now for the sliders! These are a really easy option for parties and entertaining and a great way to use up the left over Christmas ham. It used to be that sliders were what you did when you wore the wrong heels in wet weather, but now we know them as a delicious small soft bun! It’s the slider bun and sauce that really makes these delicious – if you can’t get actual slider buns, most supermarkets in the bakery section have small white dinner rolls, which work just as well.  You can also easily halve this recipe.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

Ingredients

24 white slider buns or dinner rolls

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24 thick slices ham (approximately 400grams)

24 slices Swiss cheese

2/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy seed sauce:

1 tablespoon poppyseeds

1 1/2 tablespoons dijon or other mild mustard

110 grams butter, melted

1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated onion

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Cut the buns in half and spread each each side with a generous amount of mayonnaise. Place a slice of ham and another of cheese in the bun and place in an ovenproof dish. Mix all the poppy seed sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour evenly over the buns (you don’t have to use all of the sauce). If you have time, let the buns sit for ten minutes so the butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake for 12-15 mins or until cheese is melted, then uncover and bake a further two minutes or until the tops are starting to brown and become crispy.  Serve warm.

Note: Buns can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge uncooked until needed.

Done!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

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Caramel and White Chocolate Oaty Slice

This decadent slice is a regular feature on our local fair menu and has people returning year after year to get their annual fix! But don’t be lulled into thinking it’s in any way nutritious because it contains a healthy dose of rolled oats – it’s a rich slice and you only need a small square. It definitely falls into the treat category!

Things we like about this recipe (besides the taste!) is that it freezes beautifully and is very robust so travels well. The original recipe had a thicker oat base, which we’ve reduced to get more of that caramel hit!

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It’s Abby’s turn to bake today and although she’s made this several times before, she still managed to leave out the rolled oats the first time! So watch this space as we’ll post that recipe if it tastes any good in the coming weeks!

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Caramel and White Chocolate Oaty Slice

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

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Base:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup self-raising flour

3/4 cup coconut

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 cups rolled oats

2 eggs

200 grams butter

Filling:

200 grams butter

2 cans condensed milk

4 tablespoons golden syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup white chocolate/melts

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Line a 25 x 35 centimeters tin with a generous amount of baking paper.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the eggs and melted butter and mix everything until well combined. Press two thirds of the mix into the prepared tin.

In a small saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup until well blended. Add the vanilla. Pour the caramel evenly over the base. Sprinkle with the rest of the oaty mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and almost set in the middle. Cool in the tin. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and drizzle evenly over the slice. Refrigerate for at least two hours before slicing. Best kept in the fridge.

Done!

Adapted from a Jo Seagar recipe

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Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

It feels like all we’ve done for the last two weeks is deal with sick kids and feel slightly rubbish ourselves. The tail end of winter has bought some nasty germs, but we’re hoping we’re through the last of it now. Bring on the sun – but first we thought we’d better get in quick with a winter classic and a pudding that has made Leigh famous (locally at least!).  This sticky date pudding with caramel sauce was a dessert that Leigh prepared at a school camp a few years ago and the husbands on camp raved and raved….and still three months later were talking about the sticky date pudding!

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

So today we post the recipe that husbands most often request. This can be made with fresh or dried dates and is easily doubled for a large group – or school camp (triple to feed 30).  This is a very forgiving recipe which can be made in advance and re-heated before serving (warm in the microwave to avoid drying out). While we’ve not tried to freeze it, we’re pretty confident that it will freeze well also.

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

A teaspoon of ginger added to the mixture is not enough to be overpowering, but adds a hint of flavour.  It also has a tablespoon of cocoa, which gives a lovely dark colour to the pudding. Unlike some other date puddings we’ve tried, this recipe is super easy to put together, and is a no fail recipe (so far at least!). We like to serve with whipped cream or ice cream (or both!).

Just a note about dates. We think fresh dates elevate this pudding from delicious to sensational! However, it’s also a more expensive option, as fresh dates are expensive little things (in our part of the world anyway). So if you’re making this for the family, you may just want to use dried dates, but if you have guests, fresh dates are a good option to ‘glam’ it up. A third option could be to use half fresh and half dried dates, which we haven’t tried, but we’re sure would work too. Whichever dates you go with, we’re sure you’ll love this delicious little morsel!

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Pudding

250g diced dates

3/4 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

130g butter

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 3/4 cup self-raising

1 tablespoon cocoa

Caramel Sauce

50g butter

250g brown sugar

250 ml cream

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 20cm x 24cm dish (pyrex or tin). Combine the dates, water, ginger, and baking soda. Mix and set aside for 20 minutes. While you wait, cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each. Sieve over the flour and cocoa and fold into the egg and butter mix. Add the date mix and pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 25 minutes or until springs back when gently pressed in the centre.

Caramel Sauce:

Combine the butter brown sugar and cream in saucepan and heat till sugar dissolves. Simmer the sauce for 5 min until it thickens.  allow to cool for 5 min before serving.

Done!

Recipe adapted from ‘Food’ Magazine

Afghans With a Twist

Yeah, it’s the 1st of August today which makes us very happy because even though it’s still cold the days are getting noticeably lighter which means the end of winter is in sight! And even though we’ll be sad to say farewell to comforting stews and warm puddings our waistlines will welcome the odd salad or two!

Afghan biscuits are a classic here in New Zealand and kiwis seem to have claimed them as our own – although like the pavlova, the exact origins could probably be debated. But in the interests of international baking diplomacy, let’s just say they’re a real kiwi favourite!

Afghans with a twist

Afghans are traditionally made with cornflakes, no raising agents, lots of butter and not much sugar, which gives them a lovely dense fudgy texture. However we have a couple of friends who replace the cornflakes with weetbix and add a little baking powder and swear by this version, so this is our recipe today. We’ve done lots of research (tough job!) and Abby prefers the weetbix version but Leigh, being more of a traditionalist, still prefers the original.

Another area where we agree to disagree is the icing. Abby likes to ice her afghans with melted chocolate, whereas Leigh much prefers an icing sugar and cocoa icing. If you use melted chocolate the finished product will have a wonderful chocolate flavour but be less sweet than a biscuit iced with chocolate icing – we’ve included both icing options below. It should also be noted that traditionally the afghan icing is topped with half a walnut. But since our kids just pick them off, we just don’t bother anymore!

However you choose to eat your afghans – cornflakes or weetbix, melted chocolate or chocolate icing, walnut or no walnut – we’re sure you’ll enjoy them!

Afghans with a Twist

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

200 grams butter, softened

Afghans with a twist

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup cocoa

6 weetbix, crushed

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Chocolate Icing:

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

30 grams melted butter

Hot water to mix

Melted Chocolate Icing:

150 grams melted chocolate of your choice (we prefer milk to dark)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Cream the softened butter and sugar until light in colour. Stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Gently fold in the crushed weetbix. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto a greased tray and gently press down with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool before icing with the icing of your choice.

Done!

Note: If you’d like to make the cornflake version, omit the baking powder and replace the weetbix with 1 1/2 cups of crushed cornflakes.

Afghans with a twist

Chocolate Mint Slice

One day we will post a recipe that’s not sweet or chocolate, but we just can’t seem to help ourselves at the moment – and also sweet recipes are much more popular! Chocolate and mint are another one of those wonderful classic flavour combinations and this particular no-bake recipe seems to be a cut above similar recipes we’ve tried – and we’ve tried a few! We’re not quite sure why this is so good, as the ingredients are nothing unusual, but it’s so delicious and definitely makes it onto our list of all-time favourite slices. In fact if, like us, you love a chocolate and mint combination, you may find it a challenge having this in the house as it tastes great straight from the freezer too!

This is adapted from an Al Brown recipe, a New Zealand chef who we both tend to associate with tasty meat/fish type recipes, however we’ve tried several of his sweet recipes now and they’ve all been exceptional!

Chocolate Mint Slice

This makes a large slice and we cut it into small, bite-size pieces as that’s really all you need (but not necessarily want!). It freezes well too, so keep a container in your freezer for those unexpected guests (or sweet cravings).

[Chocolate Mint Slice=”text” time=”30 mins” easy=”text”]

Ingredients

Base:

1 packet (250grams) wine biscuits

150 grams butter

170 grams sugar

5 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 large egg, beaten

Filling:

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

50 grams butter, softened

8-10 drops peppermint essence (or more if you prefer a strong mint flavour)

4-6 tablespoons boiling water, approximately

Topping:

250 grams dark chocolate of your choice (we use a chocolate with 50% cocoa solids)

50 grams butter

Lightly grease a 20 x 30 centimetre baking dish and line with paper.

Crush the wine biscuits either in a food processor or a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, then tip into a large bowl. Place the butter, sugar and cocoa in a microwave safe bowl and heat on medium heat until the butter is melted. Mix in the beaten egg. Pour the butter mixture onto the biscuit crumbs and mix together.  Press the mix evenly into the prepared dish then refrigerate until firm.

In a clean bowl, mix the icing sugar, butter and peppermint essence, adding enough boiling water until a smooth consistency is reached. Spread over the biscuit base and return to the refrigerator.

Melt the chocolate and butter for the topping on medium heat in a microwave safe bowl, stirring after each minute. Spread evenly over the peppermint filling, cover with cling wrap and put in the refrigerator for an hour, until the chocolate is set. Cut into small squares and either store in the fridge or freeze for later.

Done!

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Chocolate Mint Slice

Chocolate Brownie Pudding

We agree on most things (which is just as well when you have a blog together!); summer rather than winter, walking rather than running, trashy reads over literary brilliance and chick flicks rather than subtitles! However, one area where we do disagree is that of dessert and pudding. Leigh’s very much a pudding girl but Abby prefers dessert (preferably chocolate!). Today we’re posting a pudding that’s one of Leigh’s favorites and is one of the first desserts she learnt to make and has been making for over 20 years now (which makes her feel a bit old!). This still tends to be her go to pudding on those occasions where a sweet treat is called for – fortunately it’s a chocolate pudding so Abby’s happy too!

Chocolate Brownie Puddling

We actually Googled the difference between pudding and dessert and it seems that there are no set rules on which is which. Pudding can be sweet or savoury (think Yorkshire pudding/black pudding) whereas dessert is always sweet. Pudding tends to be more rustic and usually served hot or warm, dessert tends to be cold and maybe more sophisticated (maybe?!).

This pudding is a favourite of ours because it’s simple to make and super delicious. It’s made with pantry ingredients that are usually on hand – no eggs or butter, which are often things you run out of! We also think it’s classic winter comfort food, yet can be served to guests.

Chocolate Brownie Puddling

 

Chocolate Brownie Pudding

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. In a large bowl stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, salt and baking powder. Into the dry ingredients add the milk, oil and vanilla and stir until smooth. Pour into an ungreased pyrex-style dish.  Mix (can use the same bowl) the 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa gradually stirring in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Pour this mixture very gently over the batter in the dish and without mixing, bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with either ice cream or whipped cream.

Done!

Recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Chocolate Brownie Puddling