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Emigrated from America to New Zealand and never looked back. Couldn't have asked for a better husband, family & life!


With winter in the air down here in Kiwiland, and colds, flu and potential sports injuries lurking around the corners, we are trying to keep our strength and immunity up with warm and hearty nutritious meals that aren’t too difficult to prepare.

This is my slow-cooker crock pot version, but if requested I can also provide the stovetop method for you. (Just let me know, no worries!)

Yesterday I was an ugly day outside, but I had a wonderful birthday. We began the day with our daughter’s hockey game, followed by a movie with a friend (we saw The Reader and I think we both really enjoyed it!), and the grand finale was my wonderful husband preparing dinner for us. I even received text messages from my closest mates, flowers from my friend & neighbour and even a lovely inspirational gift & message from another friend.

I should have photographed my hubby’s gorgeous meal of roasted leg of pork with roasted pumpkin, potatoes, and carrots. He even made broccoli to balance out the colour palate a little. I was only allowed minimal access to the kitchen and the smell was driving me crazy...in a really good way, of course! I was allowed to make a simple white wine gravy to go with his lovely meal, but it certainly could have stood on its own without my sauce.

Anyway, another week begins and I am very happy and grateful for the amazing people in my life. I am happy to be healthy (other than the annoying remnants of a cough/cold) and beginning another year here in paradise.


3 Cups Haricot Beans (White Navy Beans)
1 Cup Milk
30 Gm Butter
8 Rashers Bacon, finely diced
1 Onion, finely diced
3 Stalks Celery, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Corn Kernels
1 Small Handful Parsley, chopped
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Soak beans overnight in cold water.

Drain well and pick out any small stones and/or organic material that may have made their way into the packaging.

Now, place the beans with the chicken stock in a slow cooker/crock pot set on high.

Melt the butter in a pan and quickly sauté the celery & onion with a little salt and cook until they start to soften – do not brown these veggies. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the softened celery, onion and garlic to the pot and quickly brown the bacon and add that to the pot as well.

Leave to cook on high for about 6-8 hours (I cooked mine from 10am until 6pm and it was perfect). If you work all day and want to set it up to begin cooking at 7 or 8 am then eat around 6pm...you can cook it on the low heat setting instead.

About 30 minutes before dinner time, scoop out about 2-3 cups of beans (drain as much of the liquid from that as possible), and add the milk before pureeing with an immersion/stick blender and returning that puree to the pot.

Now add the corn and stir to combine, allow this to cook another 20-30 minutes before cutting off the heat and stirring in the parsley.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if needed...I found I didn’t need any additional seasoning at all.

Serves 4

This delicious recipe is one I adapted from one of my Dad’s family favourite dishes. He always made it with Gouda cheese and so this is how I like to make mine. Traditionally, I think Gruyere is the cheese used in most French Onion Soups, but I imagine a mix of these two might even be a nice option. Gruyere is a milder Swiss-style cheese on the slightly sweet & nutty side, whereas Gouda is a tangier and slightly drier/firmer cousin. Either way, choose what you prefer. I found some lovely Gouda this weekend at the Wellington Food Show, so we sampled it on our soup tonight! Mmmmm.... Wish my folks were here already to share in this one with us!

Despite the fact that this is “just a bowl of soup”...and a clear broth-like soup at that, it is actually quite filling. I was prepared to make some venison sausages or a veggie gratin type casserole to “help fill in the gaps” but, as fate would have it, this was our hockey practice and gymnastics day and I ran out of time. It was a good thing too – we were all quite well satisfied after polishing off this lovely rich meal.

Here we go...


5 Tbsp Butter
4-5 Med Onions (sweet onions, if you can get them), thinly sliced
½ Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Sugar
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Beef Jus, Stock, or Consommé
½ Tsp Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp of Sherry Wine
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 Small Handful Parsley, finely chopped
*Sourdough or French Bread, 2 cm thick slices
*Gouda and/or Gruyere Cheese, thinly sliced or grated

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


In a large stock pot, heat butter and sauté onions with salt and sugar over medium heat until they caramelize and begin to go golden brown.

Next, add water, jus/stock/consommé, thyme, bay leaves, sherry and vinegar before bringing this to a boil.

Reduce the heat and allow this to simmer over low-med heat for about 30 minutes (toss in the parsley after you turn the heat off and give it a good stir).

Whilst the pot is still simmering, toast a few slices of bread for the soup topping. One modification I have made, is that I cut the toast into bite-sized pieces to make it easier fit across the entire top of the dish and to make it easier to eat with molten hot cheese on top.

Now, spoon soup evenly into ovenproof bowls, adding the toasted bread on top (pushing it slightly into the soup).

Next, add cheese slices/sprinkle cheese over the toast to cover the tops of the soup bowls, then place them onto a baking tray.

Now you need to place the tray of filled soup bowls under the grill/broiler (med-high heat) to melt & brown the cheese for about 5 minutes or so or, until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden brown.

Serve immediately, with caution, as the soup bowls will be very hot.

Bon appetite!


Here’s a twist on the same old chicken & dumplings that will still be fairly easy – especially for anyone who works all day and needs to have a nice meal ready at the end of a hard day of work and perhaps shuttling kids to hockey, soccer, ballet, or gymnastics. Whew, I know I will try all sort of things in the crock pot slow cooker myself. It’s such a wonderful invention and irreplaceable kitchen tool.

As you may have read already, my normal chicken & dumpling recipe is a family favourite with flat noodle-like dumplings rather than lumpy dough balls. I am not a huge fan of gummy, gooey dumplings, so this recipe offers yet another option if you, like me, prefer a “pseudo noodle”.


2 Large Potatoes, cubed
2 Large carrots, sliced or chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tsp Thyme, dried is fine
1 KG (about 2 Lbs) Chicken Breasts and/or Thighs
3 Bay Leaves
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (I prefer Campbell’s brand)
1½ Cups Chicken Stock
*1 Tbsp Corn Starch/Flour
*¼ Cup Cold Water
*Salt & Pepper to taste

*Amounts vary to individual preferences; these will be added at the end of the cooking process.


¾ Cup Flour
½ Cup Cornmeal
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
1 Egg
¼ Cup Milk


First, spray your crock pot with cooking spray and preheat on high for about 15 minutes.

Next, put all of the chopped veggies into the pot.

Rub the chicken pieces with the garlic and thyme and put them on top of the veggies followed by the bay leaves, soup, and chicken stock. Make sure to move the ingredients around in the pot to ensure some liquid gets to the bottom.

Adjust the heat to low and proceed to cook for 7-8 hours.
Now, about 1 hour before dinnertime, switch the heat to high and mix the water & corn flour together well before adding it to the pot and stirring to combine.

Season to taste with salt & pepper

About 30 minutes later, mix the dry ingredients for the dumplings together in a medium bowl.

In a smaller vessel, mix the wet ingredients together and then add them to the flour mixture and stir just enough to mix.

Drop small flattened spoonfuls of the dough into the pot one at a time, being careful not to allow them to stick together. (Makes about 30 or so small blobs, more or less) You may decide not to use all of the dough, and that's okay. Do NOT stir!

Cover the pot again and leave on high setting for about 25-30 minutes to cook.

This dish can be served up in a number of ways. Since you already have dumplings, rice or noodles might be a little starch overkill, but some nice steamed veggies or fresh salad might be a nicely balanced choice.

Bon appetite!


I just wanted to wish all of you mums (and moms) out there, a very happy Mother’s Day.

My own morning began with a personalized song for Mother’s Day, written by my beautiful little loving 8-year old angel. She proudly sang me her song in a tune that varied from a cheerful melody to a very sincere ballad from her lovely little heart. I know she usually sings slightly off key when emulating her radio favourites, but this little original was the most beautiful gift she could have given me. How lucky am I?... Wow.

After her lovely song, my daughter brought me her handmade cards and drawings (she is becoming quite a talented artist and writer, by the way), and a little book on the beauty of motherhood. I just hope this lovely little person will still love me this much when she is a teen wanting to date too young, wanting to wear too much make-up, and dress more “grown up” than mummy & daddy will allow. I hope we can always say, “I love you” no matter what we disagree on, and I wish so very much happiness for her. I want her to become the best grown woman she can be and for her to know the pure joy of having a daughter like herself.

Well, what else did I do on Mum’s Day? I went to High Tea with a few other Mum and daughter friends (part of my extended NZ family) at the
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, after making brownies for my hubby and daughter to enjoy at home whilst I was gone – of course! It was a really relaxing and enjoyable afternoon with some people I really enjoy being with.

Live your life to the fullest...don’t let your worries take over your life...and stay strong in the face of adversity. Share your wisdom with others who need it, and hold your tongue when they don’t. :o)

Have a wonderful week!


One thing I have noticed here in New Zealand is that there is a huge cafe culture. Unfortunately though, in my opinion, there are too many cafes and not enough fresh and tasty menu items. Many of the almost innumerable number of cakes, slices, tarts, and biscuits are quite dry, floury, and under flavoured. The names sound great; poppy seed lemon cake, raspberry tartlets, and even brownies. How can you get brownies wrong??? Well, most of them do! As a matter of fact, I have yet to taste a decent brownie down under that didn’t come from my kitchen (or my neighbour's). How’s that for modesty, eh? Hehe...

Brownies are one of those really quick & easy treats, but yet somehow they either skimp on ingredients or try to “make it their own” and manage to truly kill the essence of what a brownie is supposed to be. Brownies should be almost crunchy on the outside, but very moist and nearly chewy inside. They can be made with or without nuts, chocolate chips, or marshmallows, but the key is that they CANNOT be dry and crumbly – dry and crumbly NOT a brownie make, folks! There are even caramel or peanut butter swirl brownies that are incredible and so easy to make really.

So, in the interest of offering a truly lovely chocolate treat that can be modified in any number of ways dependent on one’s tastes...I give you here, the authentic/unadulterated American Brownie!


*1 Tbsp Flour
*1 Tbsp Coca Powder
¼ Cup Butter
6 Tbsp Cocoa (unsweetened baking cocoa powder)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/3 Cup Flour
¼ Tsp Salt
**Roughly 1 Cup of nuts or other additives, optional
*Mix together to dust the baking dish
**Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Preheat the oven to about 160°C (325°F).

Spray cooking oil on a small shallow baking dish (approx 6 x 10 inch or so – small casserole dish) and dust the bottom and sides with a combination of a Tbsp each of flour and cocoa powder (mixed).

Melt the butter and combine it well with the remaining cocoa powder in a medium bowl.

Now, add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, remaining flour and the salt and combine together well. The batter will be quite thick – this is perfect!

This is the stage where you add in the nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever you want in your brownies. Traditionally Americans usually go for walnuts, peanuts, or more chocolate! Personally, I like mine plain or maybe with pistachios or peanuts.

Next, pour the batter into the baking dish (as evenly as possible – but don’t try to smooth it as the batter will spread and even out on it's own). The brownies should not be too deep as the middle will "puff up" and it will take longer to cook...about 1.5-2 cm is about how deep the batter should end up - we aren't making chocolate cake here.

Cook for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer comes out clean.

We like to serve them slightly warm with vanilla ice cream on top...or just eat them as they are.



An old friend from years gone by recently reminded me of an old favourite I used to be “known for”. She wanted to know how to make my lasagne as she remembered that I did not boil the noodles first, nor do I use ricotta cheese in my lasagne, which seems to be a common way of preparing it. I always preferred to eat my own lasagne due to the fact that is stayed together well and it was rich & cheesy with a certain zing.

Now, sometimes I would add spinach to the sauce or add layers of micro planed slices of courgettes (zucchinis), grated carrot, or fresh basil leaves, etc., but this basic recipe is pretty much a no-fail for any lasagne lover out there.

Obviously, with this much cheese and meat in one recipe, this is going to serve several people or provide a few leftovers for lunches or, at the very least, another dinner (Mine ended up being about 12 servings). This is perfect for refrigerating; portioning into foil parcels, and freezing for lunches later on too, so keep that in mind when reaching for your wallet to purchase all of the ingredients.

Here we go...


2 Large Brown Onions, finely diced
2 Large Red Capsicums (Bell Peppers), finely diced
400 Gm Ground Beef
400 Gm Ground Pork
3-4 Cloves Crushed Garlic
2 Tsp Dried Oregano
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, finely chopped
*Salt & Pepper
1-2 Tbsp Tomato Paste (I use double concentrate)
1 Can Chopped Tomatoes with Basil
1 Can Italian Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup V8 Vegetable Juice (**Spicy, if available)
**If Spicy V8 is not available, add a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce or ¼ Tsp Cayenne Powder
1 Box Dry Lasagne Noodles
1 Tub Spreadable Cream Cheese
2 Cups Tasty or Cheddar Cheese, grated
2 Cups Edam or Jack Cheese, grated
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or sliced very thin

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Firstly, you need to make your sauce.

Start by browning the onion and pepper together in a large pan or stock pot.

Once the onions begin to go translucent, add in the beef and pork (you can use one or the other if you don’t want to combine them – or, substitute with, chicken, turkey, or other protein of your choice).

Now, add in the garlic, oregano, basil salt & pepper and brown the meat so that it is completely cooked through.

Once the meat is cooked, add in the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and juice. If you cannot find Spicy V8 Juice, then also add in the Tabasco or cayenne pepper now. This is not going to make it very spicy, it only adds a little bite to the sauce...kicks it up a notch without burning your mouth!

Now, you want your sauce to be a little on the thin side because you are not pre-cooking the noodles. The pasta will soak up the extra liquid and make the lasagne more firm and easier to cut and serve.

Preheat your oven to about 200-220°C (400-425°F) and get out a large lasagne pan.

Spread cream cheese on several noodles, to prepare them for layering, and mix the grated tasty & edam (cheddar and Jack) cheeses together.

Begin with a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, then add a layer some of the cheesed noodles to cover the sauce.

Next is another layer of sauce then a layer of the mixed grated cheese.

Continue layering until you end up with the last of the sauce and cheese on top...I ended up with 3 layers of noodles in mine.

Add the parmesan cheese at the end to top it off.

At this stage your dish may be close to overflowing, so I suggest putting it onto a baking sheet before placing it into the oven, just in case it bubbles over.

Finally, bake the lasagne in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the lasagne is bubbling on the sides.

Allow this to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving and savour every bite!

(Serves 4)

I decided to try a new recipe last night for my brother & sister-in-law. We had invited them out for dinner and games for a bit of weekend family fun and we certainly had a blast. This was a recipe I borrowed from one Jamie Oliver as I had just seen him do this one on the Food Channel recently. I could almost smell it through the television, it looked THAT good! Now, I am not normally a huge lamb fan, but I am learning some fascinating new ways to prepare the different cuts and I have to say that it is growing on me…in a good way.

Living in New Zealand, one must learn how to cook lamb as it does represent a significant proportion of our national exports. Everyone raves about how great New Zealand Lamb is from Mr. Alton Brown or Jamie Oliver, to the average Kiwi cook down under. I even think a few Aussies will admit that our lamb is of exceptional quality…then again, they may try to claim they originally brought the sheep here in the beginning. Hehe.

Seriously though, this recipe is one that I just couldn’t resist trying and it will, in fact, make it into my book of favourites. I believe this combination would also work well with pork or beef too, so don't write it off just because you can't get lamb mince or you might not be fond of the way lamb tastes. Trust me - this one doesn't have a pungent "lamb/lanolin" odour. Here we go…


500 Gms trimmed shoulder or neck fillet of ground lamb mince
2 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Chilli Powder
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
4 Tbsp Sumac, or finely grated zest of 1 lemon
*Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper
1 Handful Pistachios, shelled & roughly chopped
4-5 Cups Mixed Salad Leaves, washed, spun dry and shredded
1 Large Carrot, grated
1 Small Bunch Fresh Mint Leaves
1 Red Onion, peeled and very finely sliced
1 Lemon
1 Bunch Parsley
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Large Flatbreads or Tortilla Wraps
4 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt or Tzatziki

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Preheat oven grill/broiler or BBQ. If you are cooking indoors, use the highest heat available.

Combine the minced lamb with most of the thyme, chilli, cumin and sumac (reserving a little of each for sprinkling over later), a little salt and pepper and all the pistachios.

Divide the meat into four equal pieces and get yourself four skewers and shape the meat around and along each skewer, leaving little indents in the meat with your fingers as you go – this will give it a better texture when cooked (according to Mr. Jaime Oliver).

Now, in one bowl, mix the salad leaves, grated carrot, mint and parsley.

In another bowl, combine the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will take the edge off and lightly pickle the raw onion – another Jaime Oliver tip).

Now, grill the kebabs until nicely golden on all sides. This is about 20-25 minutes total…turning once or twice during the cooking process.

Next, dress your salad with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, warm your flatbreads for about 30 seconds each side on a skillet or griddle pan, then divide between plates and top each with some dressed salad leaves and onion.

When your kebabs are cooked, slip them off their skewers on to the flatbreads – you can leave them whole or break them up on top of the salad in your wraps.

We topped ours with a bit of natural yogurt tzatziki sauce (cucumber, mint & garlic with yogurt) before sprinkling with the rest of the sumac, cumin, chilli and fresh thyme, and a little salt and pepper.

I think Mr. Oliver also drizzled his with a bit of EVOO at the end, but we didn’t and it was still a gorgeous treat!!! I think I may be becoming a lamb convert. After eating chicken and beef as our primary sources of protein most of my life, I am discovering some brilliant new options that stray a bit from my traditional comfort zone. Yea!