Grown-Ups Get To Choose!

“We are always told that anyone over the age of eighteen should know what they are doing. The fact is, they don’t.” 
~ Rae Earl

One of the most important lessons I ever learned in life came from a trip to the corner store at the end of the street.

I was cooking dinner and realised I had run out of potatoes. Ben walked with me for the company and busied himself at the front counter while I rifled through the potato bin. He bought himself a bag of mixed lollies (candies), all counted out into a striped paper bag.

I paid for my two potatoes and then reached out for a sweet. ‘Hey,’ said Ben pulling the packet out of reach. ‘These are mine. If you want some, get your own!’ He was joking, but it made me realise something.

Lollies? I never bought lollies. I hadn’t bought a bag of sweets like that since I was a kid and my pa would give me fifty cents to buy some in the holidays. ‘Okay, I will!’ I said defiantly. It was wonderful to choose them, and on the way home I felt like a kid as I let myself eat a couple right before dinner – something my mum would never have allowed. By the time we got in the front door Ben’s bag was empty. I told him off for ruining his dinner.

‘Nic,’ he said, ‘I’m a grown-up. I can do what I want. I would have eaten them all before dinner or after dinner, but I ate them now because I felt like them and they were delicious. That’s the thing about being an adult. You get to choose.’

It might sound weird but that was a revelation for me. I’d grown up in a strict household, and I carried that strictness and all of those rules into my own independent life. But now there was no-one to tell me what to do. I could do what I wanted. I was an adult. I didn’t even have to eat my dinner if I didn’t want to. I could just eat my bag of lollies.

That freedom of being able to eat breakfast cereal for dinner, to not make your bed or to stay in pyjamas all day can be an awesome thing. But so often we only use that freedom adulthood bestows upon us to make childish or insignificant choices. The rest of the time we let life happen to us, or we make a choice once and think we can no longer make another. These July energies support change and I want you to understand that as an adult there are many other things you can use this superpower of choice on.

You can choose to give up smoking. You can choose to get a better job. You can choose to stay and work on a marriage with problems. You can choose to leave a bad relationship. You can choose to sell everything up and travel the world. If you’re stuck, if you’re unhappy, if something’s not working YOU CAN CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD.

What will you choose in July?

Much love, Nicole xx

PS – Need some help with your choices?

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Hot Cross Bun Bread And Butter Pudding – SO Easy and Yum!


“You don’t win friends with salad.”
~ Homer Simpson

Easter is nearly here. I love this time of year in Australia as the days get shorter, the nights cooler, and we begin our slow descent toward winter. Today’s recipe is a seasonal twist on one of my favourite easy-to-whip-up crowd-pleasing desserts. It uses Hot Cross Buns – a spiced and fruited yeast bun with a white flour paste cross on top which is made for Easter. (Note, these were in the shops in Australia on Boxing Day this year – the day after Christmas, which was very controversial!) If you don’t have Hot Cross Buns in your part of the world use a good fruit bread instead.

This pudding is delicious served warm with a drizzle of cream or custard or a dollop of your favourite yoghurt or ice-cream. Or go crazy and put it all on top of your pudding. Why not?

If you manage to have any as left-overs it is great eating cold as well.

I served this pudding with a Woolworths brand Hot Cross Bun flavoured ice-cream which was seriously good.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2.5 cups of milk (625ml or close enough)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 flat teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 flat teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 Hot Cross Buns
  • butter
  • a large handful of dried fruit – sultanas, raisins, dried apricots or whatever is in the pantry and chop larger fruit into small pieces – I used dried dates
  • jam or marmalade of your choice – I used Apricot

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C (moderate or 355F) or slightly less if it is fan forced.

Using butter grease a baking dish large enough to hold your buns and the custard mixture (a six to eight cup capacity should do it).  Slice your Hot Cross Buns vertically into three or four slices, butter each slice and spread with jam. Add a few pieces of your dried fruit between the slices. Reassemble Bun slices and place the buns into bowl. Don’t put any dried fruit on the top of the pudding as it may burn.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, spices and vanilla, ensuring that sugar has dissolved.  Pour gently over bread.  Wiggle the slices a little to ensure that the egg mixture has gone right to the bottom of the dish.  Then let it stand for 30 minutes so that the bread absorbs the liquid.  This will give your pudding a nice lift.

Put the pudding into a large baking tray with high sides and pour room-temperature water into the tray until it comes halfway up the side of your pudding dish. This will stop the custard cooking too fast and give your pudding a deliciously silky texture.

Bake for one hour or until the top has risen and is golden and nicely firm. (If it feels really wobbly in the centre give it another five to ten minutes.) Don’t panic if it sinks again after it’s been out of the oven for a bit – it shall still taste delicious.  Carefully lift the pudding bowl out of the water bath. Serve with ice-cream, custard or cream.  Heavenly.

Five Yummy Easter Treats to Try at Home


“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” 
~
Mother Theresa

I thought I’d share some of the recipes I’m making for Easter. Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced cook – these recipes are EASY, tasty and lots of fun, and there are plenty of ways to get the kids involved too. Giving home-made treats at Easter is a lovely heart-felt gift.

Or, of course, you could just eat them all yourself! Just click on the link to go directly to the recipe.

1.Green Goji Bliss Balls

I often whip up a batch of these healthy, yummy snacks. Green Goji Bliss Balls are packed full of nutrition, and the lemon gives them a lovely fresh tang. They are vegan and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free.

They are incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a good food processor or blender. If you’re looking for a super-healthy Easter Treat this one works well.

2. Healthy Bounty Bar Easter Eggs!

Bounty Bars are one of my favourite chocolates. Ben’s too. They have a creamy coconut centre covered in chocolate. Who can resist that kind of flavour combo? But they are full of sugar, so I decided to have a play around in the kitchen and see what else I could come up with that might be a bit healthier.

This version is refined sugar-free, and can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free or vegan depending on what kind of chocolate you use.

3. Walnut and Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites – Fit for a Prince!

In our household we call these little treasures yummy ‘uglies’.  They may not be the prettiest treats, but the taste more than makes up for it. Walnut and dark chocolate is a heavenly combination, made even better with coconut, and they are quick to whip up.

A variation of a macaroon, these Bites are gluten-free and can also be sugar-free, so they are great for diabetics and people with food intolerances or following a paleo diet.

4.Five-Minute Fudge Recipe

A few years ago a friend gave me a recipe she uses to make commercial quantities of fudge for a fudge house.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was, or how great it turned out. And it only takes five minutes.

I make this often for street stalls, gifts and bribes. It may be a cheater’s kind of fudge but it is every kind of delicious. It will be one of the things in my Easter Basket presents for loved ones this year. Sorry, this one is FULL of dairy and sugar. But as an occasional treat it’s just grand!

5. Marshmallow Recipe – Perfect for Easter

Homemade marshmallow is the yummiest, fluffiest thing. Easy and inexpensive too. The recipe will make the sort of standard coconut-covered marshmallows most people know, but it can also be used in moulds to make cool shapes. At Easter, marshmallow eggs or bunnies are very appropriate, and make delicious gifts.

This Easter I’m making quite a lot of marhsmallow eggs for my loved ones – they’ll be nestled in a basket with my home-made fudge, and some rich, moist fruit cake.

I encourage you to give these recipes a try.  Hopefully some of them will become an Easter Tradition in your household too.

Much love to you, ♥ Nicole xx

Easy Sour Cream Baked Cheesecake with White Chocolate Ganache and Fresh Raspberries

“If there’s cheesecake in the house, I’ll have some.” ~ Kelly Ripa

Every year a dear friend comes to our farm to hang out, write and celebrate her birthday. And, of course, birthdays need good cake.

Our cake of choice this year was a simple sour cream cheesecake which we then fancied up with a white chocolate ganache and some fresh raspberries and a drizzle of dark chocolate for the prettiness factor.

Result? A creamy, tangy melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake with that lovely fresh contrast of berry and a hint of lemon. So, so good!

Ingredients and method:

Base

  • 250g plain sweet biscuits (I used Butternut Snaps)
  • 125g melted butter

Method

  1. Prepare a 22cm springform pan by greasing lightly and then lining base with baking paper.
  2. Crush biscuits in food processor until in fine crumbs. Add melted butter.
  3. Press firmly into base of pan. You can take the mixture up the sides of the pan if desired. Chill until needed.

Cheesecake Filling

  • 500g cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • finely grated rind of one lemon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius/ 338 Fahrenheit
  2. Cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  4. Add vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream and lightly fold in.
  5. Pour into tin and bake one hour.
  6. Cool in pan on bench and then chill.

White Chocolate Ganache

  • 250g white chocolate
  • 250ml (one cup) sour cream

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or use a microwave in 10 second increments on medium to low heat, stirring after each session until chocolate is completely melted. Allow to cool until almost starting to set.
  2. Stir in sour cream.
  3. Spread over top of cheesecake and then place fresh raspberries on top. Drizzle with a little melted dark chocolate for a pretty effect.

Simple Christmas Baking and Treat Recipes

“Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.” B.C. Forbes

 

It’s less than a month until Christmas, but there is still plenty of time to whip up a tasty treat or two to share with friends, to gift, or to make your own Christmas a little more yummy.

One of the things I love about food as a gift at Christmas is that it is something almost everyone appreciates, and it is a consumable so it won’t add to the growing mountain of plastic waste, pointless gag gifts and credit card debt.

When you share your gifts think about using wrapping and packaging that won’t cost the earth. Go find an old tin or some pretty old china at the Thrift Store, or wash and reuse glass jars with a circle of bright fabric or paper tied over the lid to make it festive. Cardboard, paper, ribbon, string, fabirc, waxed cotton and flowers from the garden all make great packaging and decoration too.

Here are some of my favorourite Christmas cooking ideas. All of them are easy, quick and well-tested by at least one of my Christmas Elves (Ben, Rufous, Cafe Dog, the neighbours or the staff of the Bangalow Post Office!) and me. Just click on the link to go to the recipe.

Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

 

Easy Fruit Cake Rum Balls

 

Festive Fudge Recipe

 

Heavenly Chocolate Brownies

 

Gluten-Free No Bake Yummy Slice

 

Last-Minute Christmas Cake Recipe

Five Minute Fudge

 

Easy Peach and Vanilla Jam Recipe

 

Prize-Winning Coconut Ice

 

Green Goji Bliss Balls (Healthy but AMAZINGLY GOOD!)

Much love, Nicole  xx

 

 

Easy Fruitcake Rum Ball Recipe for Christmas

“You little beauty! I wait all year for these Rum Balls!” ~ Michael the Tractor Man

 

We live on a farm, as members of a small regional community here in the Byron Bay Shire. Each year we use the same services, eat at the same cafes, shop at the same markets. Over time the people who staff these places have become friends – people whose names we know and whose lives have become intertwined with our own.

So at Christmas time we love to share gifts with the people who have served and supported us throughout the year.

I’m planning to make my Festive Fudge, shortbread and Christmas cakes to give as gifts. But I’ve been in bed for most of the past month so my preparation is behind and today Ben will be seeing the man who services our mowers and chainsaws, and the man who repairs and services our tractors. So we need rumballs, stat! With Bundaberg Rum, of course, because that’s how we roll in this household. It’s tradition!

These rumballs are one of the fastest and easiest recipes I know. And oh my goodness, they are DELICIOUS!!! Fudgey and flavoursome, great texture, and not too sweet. I whipped up these Easy Fruitcake Rum Balls last night, in about twenty minutes from start to finish.

If you don’t like the taste of rum try brandy, Frangelico, Kahlua, Tia Maria or even Grand Marnier. Need it alcohol-free? Substitute rum flavoured essence, vanilla or hazelnut syrup or even a coffee essence.

And if you live somewhere hot at Christmas time make sure to keep the finished rum balls in the fridge. In fact if it’s meltingly hot where you are you may need to chill the mixture first before rolling it.

Happy making, lots of love, Nicole xx

Ingredients:

  • 1.2kg of fruitcake (Buy two x 800 gram dark fruitcakes and use one and one half cakes)
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) of dark rum
  • 3 x 200g blocks of dark chocolate
  • 3 to 4 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut (Note – you could substitute chocolate sprinkles for some or all of the coconut if you prefer)

Method:

  1. Choose a large bowl. Break the cake into tiny crumbs in the bowl and then sprinkle the rum over the cake. Mix well and leave to stand for five minutes.
  2. If you have a  microwave melt the chocolate by breaking the first 200g block of chocolate into pieces in a heatproof bowl. Melt on medium for one minute. Stir and then melt on medium for another 30 seconds. Stir and if all melted add chocolate to cake mixture. Stir well.
  3. Repeat process for remaining two blocks of chocolate, melting and mixing one block at a time.
  4. If you don’t have a microwave use a double boiler  – break all of the chocolate into a large bowl and place the bowl over simmering water. Stir until melted. Add the chocolate to the fruitcake mix in thirds, stirring well after each addition.
  5. Take heaped teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls using your hands. If it’s boiling hot in your kitchen chill the mixture a little first to make it easier to roll. Toss the balls in coconut to cover. You should get upwards of 80 balls. (Results vary depending on how much you eat while making!)
  6. Place on a tray or in a container in one layer and refrigerate until firm. After the balls are hard you can stack them on top of each other, but wait until they are set or they will lose their shape.

Here is the recipe and the taste test in pictures for you (and you’ll notice that Rufous Dog has managed to sneak into yet another food pic) 🙂

 

Salted Caramel Rice Pudding Recipe

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ” 
Mich Ehrenborg

This simple rice-based gluten-free dessert is a modern twist on a family favourite. The pudding is sweet, creamy and has that salty more-ish kick.

It can be easily made using your favourite kind of milk, so vegans and people with food intolerances can enjoy a dessert that everyone else in the household will love too. I often make this recipe with coconut milk, but have also made it with soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. It works well with cows milk too if your tummy likes that kind of milk.

The pudding can be enjoyed warm or cold.

PS – I have also been enjoying adding a few spoonfuls of collagen powder to this recipe. I have a connective tissue disorder, so adding gelatin or collagen hydrolysate to my soups, stews, smoothies and other recipes has helped me to improve my joint, cartilage and ligament health, skin elasticity, gut function, nails and hair. (Obviously, if you are a vegan you would avoid this step as collagen is an animal product.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup short grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 litre of milk of your choice
  • 1/4 cup of coconut blossom sugar (If you can’t find this then use palm sugar or brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Extra salt and sugar to taste. Optional: Coconut yoghurt to serve.

Method:

  1. Bring the rice and water to the boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
  2. Add milk, a little at a time, stirring well.
  3. Add sugar and stir well. If you are adding collagen powder put it on now and stir well so that it dissolves.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally so that rice does not stick to bottom of pan.
  5. When rice is thick and creamy, and grains of rice are soft add vanilla and salt. Taste and then add more sugar or salt if necessary.
  6. To serve spoon into bowls. Top with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, a drizzle of cream, or your favourite fresh or canned fruits.

This will keep well, covered and refrigerated for up to four days – if it lasts that long!

 

Ginger Cookie Ice-Cream Sandwich Recipe

“…stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. ” 
Robert J. Hastings

You’ll love these tasty ice-cream treats. They are easy enough for the kids to make, and sophisticated enough that you could serve them as a dessert at your next grown-ups dinner party.

A few weeks ago a girlfriend came to stay down here at the farm. She’s working on a novel with a rural setting right now so we hooked her up with a friend of ours – an old country gentleman in his early eighties who is full of stories and bush yarns – so she could get some character and story ideas.

Whenever Geoff comes to visit I always make sure that my biscuit tin is full and that I have ample remaining to send some home for he and his wife. These crispy ginger cookies were quick to rustle up, and a single batch was enough to feed us well over a cuppa, put a good quantity in a care package and still have some left to play with.

Quite by accident we discovered that they make a fabulous foundation for ice-cream sandwiches. Happy-happy!

I hope you love them as much as we do 🙂

Cookie Ingredients

  • 250 grams salted butter
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon treacle, molasses or golden syrup
  • 2 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger (or more – to taste)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line some baking trays with baking paper or lightly grease them.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. I use an electric mixer for this beating on low to combine and then on high speed until butter is pale and creamy.
  4. Add egg and syrup and mix well.
  5. Sift dry ingredients together and then add to mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
  6. Roll spoonfuls of mixture (I used a dessert spoon) and place on the trays. Flatten slightly with your fingers or a fork dipped in flour to prevent it sticking to the dough.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
  8. Cool on trays for five minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. We made about thirty cookies, maybe a few more. This is not including the ones we ate warm or the dough that got eaten directly out of the mixing bowl… 
  10. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight tin for up to ten days.

You could just go ahead and enjoy these ginger cookies plain, but oh my how good they are when you turn them into ice-cream sandwiches.

Ginger Cookie Ice-Cream Sandwich

Two cookies and a couple of tablespoons of ice-cream per sandwich . Make sure to make up cookies that are roughly the same size!

Take some slightly softened ice-cream (I used vanilla because it was all we had) and place it on the centre of the bottom cookie so that it almost to the edges. Place another cookie on top and then use a spoon to smooth the ice-cream level with the sides of the cookies. Wipe any excess ice-cream off the cookie with the spoon, a clean finger or clean soft cloth.

Eat straight away or return to freezer until needed.

Top Tip: If you want your ice-cream sandwiches super-fancy roll the soft ice-cream edge in chocolate sprinkles, toasted coconut, crushed nuts or grated chocolate.

PS – I love this hilarious pic of our two dogs, Harry and Rufous eyeing off that ice-cream sandwich with serious intent gazing adoringly at me!

 

Chunky Choc-Chip Oat Cookies – Easy Recipe!

“Baking cookies is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food. They are very bite-sized and personal.” ~Sandra Lee

 

School holidays are almost here, and this is a great recipe for kids in the kitchen. They are tasty, easy and use simple ingredients.

We love these chunky cookies here at the farm – they go well with a cuppa, a tall glass of milk, or a bowl of ice-cream. They are robust enough to hold their shape if they are bouncing around in a tin in the back of the ute while we’re out mustering and fancy enough to please the neighbours when they drop in for a chat and a cup of tea.

The biscuits will store in an airtight tin for one week but never last that long around here. The cookie dough can also be frozen in a log and used at a later date.

This recipe bakes up perfectly well with gluten-free flour if you need that, and is versatile enough that you can substitute raisins, nuts, cornflakes or dried fruit for the choc-chips if preferred. I have sometimes substituted muesli for both the oats and choc-chips if that was all I had to hand.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams of softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar (or ordinary sugar if that is all you have)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of choc chips (I like to use a couple of different types) or a 200-gram block of chocolate broken into chunks

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to moderately slow (160 degrees Celsius or 325 Fahrenheit)
  2. Line two trays/cookie sheets with baking paper.
  3. Beat butter, condensed milk and sugar together until pale and creamy. I use an electric mixer for this and it takes a few minutes.
  4. Dump remaining ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. You can do this on low speed in the mixer or use a wooden spoon. 
  5. Use a dessert spoon to scoop up mixture and roll into balls. Place balls on tray with a little space between them because they will spread when they cook. Press down to flatten the balls slightly with your fingers.
  6. Bake for fifteen minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove for oven and cool on trays for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack until they are completely cool. 

Serve to your friends and family, or eat them all on your own with Netflix for company!

PS – Pop Up Shop and June Workshops:
If you’re looking for some extra support for your spiritual journey check out my upcoming Pop Up Shop, Channelling Night and One Day Workshops in Brisbane 29 June to 1 July.

The Pop Up Shop runs over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Workshops are over Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday June 30 I’ll be teaching Foundation Spiritual Practices (the things I used to develop my own psychic and intuitive skills, self-awareness and compassion), and on Sunday July 1 I’ll teach Meditation and Mala Making (this second workshop is brilliant if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, stuck or suffering from anxiety or depression). No matter what level you’re at I’ll have something for you on my program. More details here!

All details are on my EVENTS tab at the top of my blog post or here at this link.

Easy Stewed Pears Recipe

“It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.”
~ Edward Bunyard

After the excess of Easter it is a relief to be back to simple food again.

One of Autumn’s great pleasures for me is pears. This easy dish is low in sugar, and the cooked fruit can be eaten warm or cold.

They are wonderful on their own, spooned over cereal or porridge or made into a layered parfait with some fresh yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped nuts or some crunchy granola.

I also like them with a drizzle of fresh cream or a dollop of coconut yoghurt.

Pears are a great source of fibre and are high in anti-oxidants. Plus they are delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 12 ripe pears, sliced and the cores removed. It’s fine to keep the skins on.
  • Enough water or unsweetened apple juice to just cover the fruit in a large saucepan. If you use apple juice you won’t need sweetener.
  • 1 to 2 cinnamon quills (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for each quill)
  • 6 dried cloves
  • a peeled and sliced 1 inch piece of root ginger or 1/2 teaspoon of dried ground ginger
  • You can also use a little sweetener if you are using water to cook the pears. A few drops of stevia, or a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup or honey will work well.

Method:

  1. Slice the pears into halves or quarters.
  2. Place in a saucepan and barely cover with water or juice.
  3. Add the spices.
  4. Gently bring to the boil and then turn heat to low and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes or until pears are soft.

Stewed pears will keep for up to one week in the fridge.