Welcome to our new segment on the blog. We are going to be featuring party, craft and baking tips from some other amazing bloggers.
To get us started, I am delighted to welcome one of our blog contributor’s Kirsten from Treat Yourself Sweeter.
Kirsten delights us each month with a mouth watering dessert. If you are yet to visit her blog, you may not know that she also creates delicious savory dishes too.
Today Kirsten is going to share with us what is behind that love for cooking, and how you too can create some spectacular dishes with ease.
Tell us about yourself and your blog Treat Yourself Sweeter
I grew up with a large extended family in a country area where most family things revolved around food. With the Hungarian family influence, food was always important in bringing family together; what everyone was bringing to family events was usually decided before the actual place of the event.
Both my Mum and Dad enjoy cooking and I grew up in my Grandma’s kitchen watching her create the most delicious food you have ever eaten. I was born with a passion for cooking and my experiences have just stoked the fire more.
After I started my cake business, Treat Me Sweeter, I realized what I loved was discovering, talking about, creating and sharing food.
This was when Treat Yourself Sweeter was born; my own little haven of recipes to share with others. I love it.
Are there certain ingredients that you will always find in your pantry? What are they?
Oh my gosh, I think the question is: what wouldn’t you find?
I come from a family where my grandparents had separate fridges and freezers (they disagreed a lot!) and they were all packed to the brim like a tight knitted game of Tetris. I remember my asking my Grandpa once if he wanted to come out for dinner and he said no because he had left overs to eat. I tried to persuade him to put them into the freezer. He proceeded to open the freezer and show me his neatly packed freezer and commented ‘not even an ant could fit in there’… and he was right!
I am a bower bird of ingredients; I love buying from markets, farmers and health food shops. You can find probably ANYTHING in my pantry… honestly!
If someone says to you that they can’t cook/bake for a dinner party, what would be your suggestion for an easy to go to meal that looks and tastes awesome but won’t stress them out creating it?
I think sometimes we over think cooking; we think that only big, hard work, fancy named dishes are the only ones that will impress.
There are so many beautiful ingredients out there that speak for themselves.
Salads like Cherry Quinoa Summer Salad is so easy to make and healthy too.
Winter is when we crave the heartier, warm comfort food; a recipe like Chicken Vegetable Pie is great because you can buy pre ready ingredients like pastry and a cooked chicken from the supermarket on your way home and turn it into something special relatively quickly.
It is one of our favourites here!
Best advice if you are a bit nervous; keep it simple, follow the recipe, taste along the way and breathe and enjoy it… love can definitely be tasted on the plate.
A nice glass of wine can help with that!
If you needed to create an easy party snack for Kids, what would you make?
Firstly, I have to say that my Mum is an amazing cook, but since I loved cooking, planning and creating my Mum let me have control over creating my sisters birthday cakes since her second birthday.
I LOVE kids party food; the colours are what really makes the table special.
Let’s be honest- as long as it looks like party food and tastes good, kids are not really fussy.
I loved kid’s parties of my day, but let’s face it- it wasn’t healthy. They were sugar loaded and led to majorly hyper kids. Things have changed and many parents are opting for healthier food options.
In my kid’s party menu, I offer the good ol’ favourites of fairy bread, cupcakes and honey joys, but I offer smaller serving suggestions. The kids still feel like they have had their fill without over doing it.
One of my favourites now is the popularity of fruit. You would be surprised how much more popular kids think fruit is by putting it on a skewer.
Yep, when I have a class party at school (which is ALWAYS a balance of most healthy food and some junk food, it is school policy) the fruit kebabs are always the first thing to go. You can jazz them up by adding marshmallows, coconut flakes, grated chocolate or a fresh yoghurt dip.
A healthy sweet pizza will be making its way to my blog in the next week or two, so keep your eyes out!
What finger food recipes would you suggest for easy party catering?
In my opinion you want to keep a couple of things in your mind when planning finger food:
Things that you can eat with one hand. With one hand on a wine glass, (possibly) uncomfortable heels and standing around- you need something you can easily eat with one hand!
Things that will not drip easily and make a mess over that lovely dress.
Things that you don’t need to wipe your hands after every bite, so goodbye to over greasy.
I am a fan of the old party pie, but with style. You can easily buy frozen pastry and cut it out and place it in cupcake tins to make your party pies. Impress your guests with fillings such as spinach and ricotta (like these pasties), pulled pork or use some pre roasted chicken make Thai green or red curry pies. Pies are great because you can make them ahead of time and just heat- leaving you more time to relax.
Another winner for me is always dips and bread.
With a plethora of flavours, you can set up platters that can be made ahead of time and peoples can pick as they want. Cheese, cured meats, quality dips and freshly baked bread is sure to please everyone.
This Fire Roasted Capsicum Pesto and Cardamom Carrot Dip are two of my favourites; both easy to make and different to what is normally served. Add some freshly baked flat bread or damper and you will have a group of happy people!
From the selection of your delicious desserts, what has been your favourite to date?
That is a tricky one; I love them all.
For a healthier dessert it would have to be my Decadent Heathified Chocolate Tart. I became slightly obsessed with this one…! So much so that I have created another Healthified Tart, Lemon and Coconut (so keep your eye out on the blog!)
For a completely blow out, naughty splurge. Cookies and Cream Caramel Slice is a favourite here and it always disappears quickly.
Of all the recipes you have made, do you have a family favourite main meal?
I have lots. It really depends on my mood and the season.
In Winter I love cooking traditional Hungarian meals and soups.
In the summer I live on salads and BBQs; this Mango Chicken Salad became a huge favourite this year, not only for the summery, fresh flavours but for the beautiful colours too.
Do you like to create dishes that are relevant to festive occasions (Ie: Christmas/ Thanksgiving?). What are your favourite dishes to make and why?
Love it, especially at Christmas- it brings the excitement into the house.
Cooking for special, festive occasions also brings memories flooding back from childhood events, experiences and keeps the flames of family tradition alive.
Christmas is always my favourite season to cook for and I love making gifts.
I have some traditional recipes, but this Pistachio Chocolate Bark has become ‘my tradition’ now. I gave this (what I hadn’t eaten!) for Christmas presents and it was very well received.
I loved that it was healthier than store bought and it had a lot of love go into it. I use premium ingredients so I know I am giving the absolute best. I also love licking the bowl and spoon from this one!
My next favourite is shortbread – take out the Strawberries and White Chocolate and I made shortbread for my uncle each year. That is all he wanted. That made me feel special when I was little and made this family recipe even more significant.
Oh and then there is Easter! Is there anything better than making individualised eggs for family?
I create eggs that reflect what they love; type of chocolate and then I add elements they love, like M&Ms, rocky road or white chocolate covered raspberries to make it extra special.
What is the thing you love most about cooking that you like to share with others?
I love that it connects people.
Cooking is such a special act that we, in more privileged communities take for granted.
We have the benefit of cooking for nutrition, taste, entertainment and enjoyment, not just survival. It is a privilege to cook for others (although you might not think it when you get asked ‘what’s for dinner?!’ for the billionth time!).
Cooking is love. Cooking is a time traveller- smells and tastes can take you back to your childhood days, it can plan a special occasion or it can remind you of a special person in your life.
Cooking connects me to my family, and to my late aunt. We poured over cook books, spent hours browsing ingredients and many late nights swapping recipes.
Cooking can create memories- food brings people together and we are lucky to experience that.
I would like to thank Kirsten for sharing her baking tips. Be sure you check out her blog for more mouth watering recipes.
If you have any questions for Kirsten, please share with us below…we would love to hear from you!
You can also connect with Kirsten at: