Sunday, 30 December 2012

Festive Cupcakes

I made these moist orange cupcakes* as a NYE dessert and everyone loved them. They are super easy to make, can be prepared in advance and I promise they'll be a hit at any party! I decided to decorate them with these cute star flowers from the local bakery, but feel free to go crazy with decorations :-D It's New Year's Eve after all!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Yummy Grilled Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? It's quick to make and super delicious to enjoy! And what's the most fun part? Choosing the baking method and toppings!!! I wanted to sway from the traditional oven bake method, so I decided to grill it on the panini maker (you could also do it outside on the BBQ grill or in a griddle pan). Then, came the toppings part! I decided to use up all the leftovers I had in the fridge :-) So feel free to do any combinations you like, because the possibilities are really endless. Any leftover sauce, meat and cheese will work! So let's get going...

Monday, 24 December 2012

Dad's Leek & Feta Crumpled Pie

I've had this pie on a few occasions now, and every time it tastes better than ever. It's my dad's proven recipe and since he is so awesome, I've decided to watch him make it, help around and put the recipe up, so everyone else can enjoy it :-) The great part is that you can fill it with absolutely anything your heart desires... Veggies work (spinach works really well), meat... Really, any leftovers would do :-) The only "must" is that you really MUST try it because it's extremely delicious, yet quick and easy.

Serves 6-8


- 30 filo (phyllo) pastry sheets (might need a few more or less, depending on the size of the baking dish)
- 1kg leeks, finely chopped
- 300g feta cheese, crumbled
- 250g butter
- 50ml water
- 3tbs vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste


- In a skillet, add the oil, leeks and seasoning. Sauté for about 10min over a medium high heat. Mix in the cheese and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 200 C degrees and generously brush a baking dish with oil.
- Place 4 filo sheets on the bottom, letting the edges fall out on each side.

- Place a filo sheet on a cutting board* and sprinkle some of the leek and cheese mixture. Crumple it with your hand and place it in the dish. Repeat the process and line up the crumples one next to another.

- Melt the butter and water together. Spoon the mixture over the crumples, then put the hanging edges of pastry on top to act as a cover. If they aren't long enough to cover the pie, place a whole filo sheet on top, to ensure the pie is covered.

- Bake for 15min, then flip by putting a plate or another baking dish on top, flipping the pie and sliding it back in. Bake for another 25min and enjoy this delicious Pita!

* Place a clean plastic bag on the cutting board, so you ensure easy movement for the pastry. If it's hard to move around, the pastry might break.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Mint Vodka Lemonade

OK, so this is probably the easiest cocktail ever and if I say so myself, one of the most delicious out there. It fits perfectly for a late Saturday afternoon or for a workday evening... Or whenever you are in a mood for a cocktail :-) I made it for my family on a Friday night, everyone loved it, so I had to put the recipe together.

Serves 4 (may vary depending on the size of serving glasses you use)


- 1 cup good quality Russian vodka
- 3 lemons, zested, juiced and strained (lime works too)
- 2 1/2 cups club soda (Sprite, 7up or Lemon Mineral Water work too)
- 4tbs sugar
- 4tbs water
- a handful of fresh mint (fresh rosemary works too)
- some ice


- In a saucepan, add the water and sugar and swirl around. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to a medium and let it simmer for about 5min. Set aside and let it cool completely. This will make a simple syrup* to sweeten the cocktail.
- When you're ready to make the cocktails, put the vodka into a pitcher, add the lemon juice, along with the syrup and mint and give it a stir. I made mine on the rocks. If you want a smoothie, add everything to a blender and get it blended for 1min.
- Pour into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!

* Take the extra minute to make the simple syrup (you can also make it days in advance). If you just add the sugar and water to a cold drink, the sugar won't dissolve and will sink to the bottom of the glass.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Homemade Buttery Soft Pretzels

While I studied in Germany, I used to get a soft pretzel (Laugenbrezel) for breakfast every so often. It was the treat of the day and I figured (since I like them so much) I should learn how to make them on my own. Now, I know that the ones in Germany are dipped in lye solution, but as it is a little dangerous to use I think baking soda does the job just as well. Also, I am more of a savory girl, so I prefer my pretzels with salt on top (or sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cheese...). But if you like your pretzels with cinnamon on top, this recipe* works just as fine. So, let's get to it...

Makes 12 pretzels


- 500g plain flour, and a little more for dusting
- 2 1/4tsp yeast (or one individual package)
- 1tbs sugar
- 1tbs salt, and some more for sprinkling on top
- 350ml warm water (not hot)
- 2tbs butter, melted
- 5tbs baking soda (optional)**
- 5cups of water
- a little bit of vegetable oil for brushing


- In a bowl, add the yeast, pour the warm water in along with the salt and sugar and let it sit for about 10min to get activated.

- Add the flour and melted butter and start kneading. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle some more flour on it and keep kneading till it's smooth and no longer sticky.
- Put it in a clean, oiled bowl, brush it with vegetable oil and put a kitchen towel over it. Place it in a warm area and let it rise for an hour.

- After an hour, place the dough on a floured surface and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll every piece into a 15" rope, shape into a pretzel and put it on a greased baking sheet or parchment paper.

- Let the pretzels rest for 20min (covered) while preheating the oven to 230 C.
- Bring the 5 cups of water to a boil, mix in the baking soda, then place 1 to 2 pretzels in for 1min. Take them out and put them back on the baking sheet. Baking soda gives them a rich brown colour.
- Once they are all out of the water, sprinkle some salt on top and pop them in the oven for 15-20min or until golden brown. Enjoy!

* Freezer tip: Let them cool completely, freeze them and once you want them again, stick them in the microwave or oven.

** You can still make the pretzels without baking soda. To give them a golden colour, brush them with a beaten egg before baking.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Since my banana dark chocolate chip muffins came out so delicious, I figured I should try a similar recipe with some oranges and see how it goes. As we are in that cold and wintery time of the year, the smell of cooking oranges and chocolate together fills the house with so much warmth. So here it goes...

Makes 12 muffins


- 2 oranges*, zested and juiced
- 100g dark chocolate chips (crushed baking chocolate works too)
- 8tbs plain flour
- 1 package (1tbs) of baking powder (baking soda works too)
- 6tbs vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 6tbs sugar
- a pinch of salt


- Preheat your oven to 200 C degrees and line a muffin tray with liners.
- Put the oil, sugar, egg, orange zest and juice together and give it a good mix.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt and most of the chocolate chips and mix until well combined, but don't over mix. Keep the rest of the chips to sprinkle on top of the muffins.
- Place the mixture in the muffin liners, equally dividing it. Sprinkle the remainder of the chocolate chips on top.
- Bake for 15min and enjoy!

* This recipe also works for lemon muffins. Just substitute the oranges with lemons and skip the chocolate chips.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Veggie Lover Shepherd's Pie

I've always been a fan of Shepherd's Pie... But for some reason I've never made it. Probably only because it's available on every supermarket shelf and every pub's menu. So, since it's been one of those super gloomy and rainy days, I decided to make something warm and comforting. And as I felt like hanging out in the kitchen and be creative, I changed up the recipe a little bit and turned this into the perfect vegetarian meal. I replaced the meat with lentils and it was a success. So here it goes...

Serves 2


- 100g dry lentils*, boiled in water for 45min, drained and rinsed
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 peppers, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
- 2 large potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped and boiled till tender
- 2tbs of butter
- 250ml milk
- 1tbs plain flour
- a splash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 400ml vegetable broth
- 2tbs vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste


- Preheat your oven to 200 C degrees.
- In a skillet add some oil and over a medium high heat sauté the carrots, peppers and garlic for about 10min.
- Sprinkle the flour, constantly stirring, and add the lentils along with the broth. Season well and add a splash of Worcestershire Sauce.
- Bring this mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a medium, let it simmer for about 15min, then pour it in a casserole dish.
- Melt the butter and milk together. Mash the boiled potatoes, add the melted butter and milk, season and give it a stir.
- Add the mashed potatoes on top of the veggie mixture, spreading it evenly. Bake for 15-20min or until the top is golden brown and enjoy!

* If you want to make this with meat, just substitute the lentils with minced beef/lamb, cook it till tender together with the veggies and keep following the recipe.