Easy, Tasty Cheese Ball Recipe

Well hello again. Hope your week is going well. We have had a great week. I am still very much enjoying the fact that it’s school holidays and we are not having to stick to a strict schedule.

I promised this recipe to everyone last year when I revealed the menu for our 2013 Christmas day feast!!
This delicious little appetiser first found my attention 3 years ago when Zaunclejim featured it on his cheese platter for Christmas day. It was a fantastic hit, everyone loved it. I believe it was one of Zaunclejims gorgeous work colleagues who originally shared it with him a few years ago. We love it so much we asked Zaunclejim to bring another one for the 2013 Christmas feast just passed. I love a great recipe that finds its way to me, so thank you Zaunclejim and Zagorgeous work colleague.

I have made the Cheese Ball a few times now, most recently I made it and took it along to a baby shower I attended last weekend.

A recipe like this should be shared over and over. So here is me sharing it with you.

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You will need:

250g cream cheese
125g triangle of Blue vein cheese
60g butter softened
1/2 cup sliced black olives (I used a combination of olives and semi sun-dried tomatoes)
3 shallots finely chopped
Approx 150g chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews (I used walnuts)

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Combine all ingredients except for nuts (keep them aside) in a food processor (if you don’t have a food processor a hand mixer will do, mix cheeses and butter first until smooth, then add the vegetables).

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Process/mix until evenly combined. It is meant to be a textured mixture so don’t over process or mix.

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To make the mixture a little easier to handle I refrigerate it for about 1/2 an hour.

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Prepare your nuts on a piece of baking paper.

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Remove chilled cheese mixture from the fridge. I moistened my hands a little which made the mixture a little easier to work with.

NOTE: Depending on the size of Cheese Ball you want for your platter, this quantity has the potential to make 2 good size balls and possibly 4 smaller ones you may just need a few extra nuts for rolling.

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Carefully place cheese mixture in a mound on top of prepared nuts. Just work the nuts up and around the mixture, then roll it over and continue to press the nuts all over until the Cheese Ball is well coated.

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Once you have your Cheese Ball prepared wrap it in cling wrap and place it back in the fridge to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

The Cheese Ball will keep in the fridge for a good 5 days so if you want to prepare it ahead of time you can.

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I made a smaller ball for Zadada and I, as well as the larger ball to take to the baby shower pictured below.

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I love colour so I served the Cheese ball with some raw veggies as well as some crackers.
I had a lovely morning at the baby shower.

You really need to put this recipe on your to-make list, you won’t regret it.

Next up in the Blog Post pipeline is an easy sweet treat involving licorice allsorts.

Until then
Zamamabakes

Roast Pumpkin Rocket Salad

This was one of the salads I made for our Christmas feast (it’s up there on my list of favourite salads). I love salads that combine a great selection of ingredients and this is one of them. It’s not the cheapest salad to make as far as the cost of ingredients goes but you pay for what you get, its delicious.
Zagorgeous Cathy a work colleague and friend from Patrick Egan Optometrist shared this recipe with me a couple of years ago and every year since I have made it for Christmas lunch as well as a lot of special occasion BBQ’s. I love it when others ask me for the recipe, to me that’s what its all about, sharing the love and great recipes!!

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Your List Of Ingredients

1kg butternut pumpkin (This week I used a 1kg combination of pumpkin and sweet potato)
4 cloves unpeeled garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 slices prosciutto
2 bunches asparagus trimmed
200g baby rocket leaves
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (I usually cheat and buy the ready roasted pine nuts)
200g snow peas, thinly sliced

DRESSING
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

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Peel pumpkin and chop into 3cm pieces (mine always seem to end up a little smaller). Place pumpkin into a baking dish with garlic. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. I then give the pumpkin a toss around on the tray with my hands to make sure it is evenly coated with the oil.

Cook in a moderately hot oven, 190C, for about 25-30 minutes until pumpkin is tender and browned, turning the pumpkin at the 15 minute mark helps keep the process even.

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This is what you should see post roasting.

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I pop garlic out of the skin and shred it up and gently fold through the pumpkin for extra flavour.
I actually completed the pumpkin roasting step the night before I assembled the salad, I do this every Christmas too. Just pop roasted pumpkin and garlic in an airtight container in the fridge.

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This is where I prefer to purchase all my fresh fruit and veg, ‘Tweed Fruit Exchange’. You can always be sure of getting great produce and customer service. I was served by Zagorgeous Lee this week, thanks guys I’m sure I’ll be back again before the week is out!

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This is where I picked up to finish off the salad on Monday night.

Boil, Steam or microwave asparagus until just tender (I microwave in a steamer for 2 minutes on high). Rinse under cold water, drain well.

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My thinly sliced snow peas.

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Cook prosciutto in a heated greased pan (I just use a non-stick pan and no greasing) until browned all over and crisp. drain on paper towel. Roughly crumble into bite sized pieces.

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Unfortunately Toasted pine nuts were not available at the supermarket this week so I had to do my own. As you can see from the before and after shot they ended up a little toastier then I would have liked but they were fine.

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When chopping the thyme I strip the woody stalks and discard them, using just the leafier remains.

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DRESSING
Combine all ingredients in a screw top jar (I use a trusty Tupperware cup and lid), shake well.

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Assemble the salad as shown (I mix all the greens and make them the base of my salad, I then top with pumpkin followed by the prosciutto then the parmesan, scattering the pine nuts on top and lastly drizzling the dressing over the top. Alternatively you can gently toss all the ingredients together.

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I served the salad with a side of BBQ chicken. Perfect for a warm summer evening.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do, its delicious.

Stay tuned for my upcoming Blog Post this Sunday for ‘Salted Caramel Brownie Sandwich Cookies’.

Until then,
Zamamabakes

Our Festive Celebrations for 2013

Well hello there!!! Welcome back lovely readers.
Happy New Year to you all!!!
I can’t believe it’s now 2014. Christmas is all done and dusted for another year. Thank goodness Christmas only occurs once a year, I love it, but physically, financially and mentally I think once a year is more than enough for everyone (I believe the next 12 months is to recover).
We had a fantastic festive break, sharing it with beautiful family and friends. I feel truly blessed to be part of such a special network of people. I did promise a post-Christmas Blog Post so rather than waffle on (like I usually do) I think I will let the pictures do more of the talking today.

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It was a group effort putting our Christmas day feast together. This was some of the kitchen action on Christmas Eve. Zasister, Zagrandma and Zakidlets all doing their bit. Zadada was doing plenty behind the scenes, taking these pictures, tending to the outside maintenance and keeping Zakidlets entertained.

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I love a pretty Christmas table. This year I used a mirror as part of my centre piece on the table (an idea I found on pinterest). I was really happy with how it all turned out.

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Tradition in The Zamamabakes household is to attend Mass on Christmas Eve. We managed a quick bite to eat before hand, the kids request of course, but it was lovely to just sit and have a few moments as our family of 5.

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We had to leave some treats out for Santa and his Reindeer. The banana and strawberries on the plate was my attempt to Christmas Brekky a little (some more pinterest inspiration).

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I love watching the kids discover their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

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This was our group for Christmas lunch. Zasister, Zagorgeous Aimee, Zabrother, Zadada, Zamama (me), Zapop, Zagrandma and of course Zakidlets our little cherubs Alani, Blake and Ella. Missing from the picture is Zauncle Jim, he was behind the camera for this shot.

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Some yummy morning appetizers! I made sure I had that glass of champagne (a Christmas gift from Zasister last year). We had a delicious Cheeseball Zauncle Jim made I intend on sharing the recipe as soon as I can.

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This is some of what was on offer for lunch, dinner and lunch again on boxing day!! So much food, so delicious.

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Zakidlets table and the rest of us.

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Dessert was scrumptious another great group effort.

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And just in case you felt like something else sweet we had Zanan’s Trifle, Zagrandma’s fruit cake and a tray of yummy homemade chocolates.

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It’s not Christmas without a spot of cricket, I chose to spectate and ensure the electric fence was switched off!!!

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How could we forget Zapuppydog!! Blake found this dog shirt at the reject shop before Christmas, wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree for Locky. It was a little on the tight side so it was on long enough to take a picture. I think Zapuppydog needs to lose a little weight, (his New Years resolution perhaps).

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Boxing day brought some motor biking action.

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As well as some construction action.
Lots of fun was had by all involved.

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For Christmas Zagrandma and Zapop, Zanan and Zapop as well as Zadada and Myself all put in to purchase a climbing fort for Zakidlets. The only thing was it came flat packed.

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The day after boxing day we had a working bee that went for 12 hours (I happened to be in at work for 8 of those hours). I still managed to lend a bit of a helping hand when I got home (I think) for a few brief moments at least (I fitted in the fort a little more comfortably than Zadada), they even let me loose with the drill!!!

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The finished product with some very happy owners!!
Thank you to Zanan, Zagrandma, Zapop and Zadada for making this happen all in a day!!!
For those interested we purchased the climbing fort from climbingframes.com.au the ceder climbing frame specialists. See details here. We are extremely happy with it so far.

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We also managed a beach trip during the festive break. We had a great day!!!

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Before we knew it a week had passed and a new year was almost upon us. We stayed at home sharing New Years Eve with some lovely friends.

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New Year celebrations are not complete without Dessert!! In fact no celebration is complete without dessert!! I made an easy Chocolate, cream and berry log, it’s a bit of a cheats dessert, great when you are a little time poor and is always yummy!!

I am looking forward to sharing some recipes from the festive break soon.
While the kids are on holidays things may be a little hit and miss, I will do my best.
It’s great to be back, stay tuned.

Zamamabakes

What’s cooking at Zamamabakes house on Christmas Day?

The fact that we are only 4 days out from Christmas, I thought what better way to sign off on 2013 then to give you a little insight into a Christmas hosted by the Zamamabakes household.
This year we are doing things a little simpler (I think??).
Zagrandma (my Mum) always comes to join me in my kitchen on the day of Christmas eve, we play Christmas carols, dance around and do lots of Christmas cooking together. Its busy and lots of work but we love it. We usually manage to fit a festive drink in there somewhere too.

We will have a variety of guests Christmas day including Zagrandma, Zanan’s, Zapop’s, Zaaunt’s, Zauncles, Zachick, Zacousins.
Like most we make Christmas lunch our main meal of the day and for lunch I am expecting 8 adults plus 3 Zakidlets!! 2 Years ago we had 24 for lunch, it was hectic but lots of fun.

Tradition is to have a cold buffet of salads, ham, prawns, chicken and whatever other meats we decide to have sometimes turkey, sometimes pork it just depends on how complicated and time-consuming we want to make things ha ha. All the dining guests usually get delegated a dish or 2 to bring along which works out perfectly giving us a great selection of food to enjoy!

Zakidlets usually start their day with a ‘sometimes breakfast’ of Coco Pop’s, note the SOMETIMES!!!! They love them for a treat. I am also planning to surprise them with some fresh fruit candy canes made with real strawberries and banana’s.

Our guests will start to arrive around Mid-Morning which will hopefully give us enough time to get the house respectable after a morning of Santa Claus Surprises!!

This is our basic line up of food for the day,
Starters:
Cheese platter, including an amazing cheese ball (courtesy of Zagreatunclejim).
A few savoury snacks including a serve of my ‘Nuts and Bolts’ to nibble on.
I am hoping to make a serve of the delicious looking Prosciutto and bocconcini skewers pictured below. I found the idea here at taste.com.

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A glass of bubbles is a must and always goes down a treat in the lead up to lunch.

For Main the plan is:

Fresh cooked prawns
Chicken (this year I am trying a smoked chicken from our local butcher, he does his own smoking). Zagrandma is going to bake up a chicken roll (the ones you get at the supermarket with the stuffing inside)
Maybe a Roast Pork with apples and cider see recipe here, will just depend on whether or not time permits.
Christmas Ham (you can’t do Christmas without ham)

Salads and Sides
Roast Pumpkin Rocket Salad (I have not done a post on this recipe yet, sorry 😦 so stay tuned for it in my early Blog posts in 2014)
Potato salad being made by Zaauntkayla see recipe here
Wombok crunchy noodle salad (you’ll find the recipe on the back of a pack of Chang’s refried noodles) being made by Zabeautiful Aimee.
Cherry tomato, cucumber and green bean salad see recipe here
Beetroot Salad (Baby spinach leaves, tinned baby beets drained, feta crumbled, creamy garlic dressing from the supermarket, topped with chopped walnuts)
Fried Rice (ZaPop’s specialty, he even puts twiggy sticks in it)
Seafood Salad (Zaunclebrad’s favourite, he has this task)

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Dessert (Yum)

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Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Tart recipe here.

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Persian Love Cake (delegated to Zabeautiful Aimee) recipe here.

Zagrandma is making a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake (one of my favourites) I’ll post recipe 2014.

A nice fresh fruit platter is always a good option to have on hand.

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Then you just have to have a selection of yummy treats to snack on in case you’re still hungry!!!! Rocky Road, Truffles, White Christmas, Chocolate caramel balls, Christmas Jellies (I get these at the kids Christmas Tableau and freeze til Christmas). Zagrandma always makes a delicious Christmas cake which goes perfectly with a cup of tea.

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I think that is just about everything covered!!! The added benefit of an indulgent Christmas feast is eating the leftovers for a few days after Christmas. I’ll be sure to give you a report of how things go in a few weeks time, NEXT YEAR!!!!

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For now I would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my beautiful reader’s. I wish you all a very safe and enjoyable festive season.

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Zapuppydog sends his best Christmas wishes too!!!

Until 2014

Zamamabakes xxxx

The Gift Of Giving

Christmas time should be a special time for everyone but the reality is there are a lot of people who go without at Christmas.
Zadada and I are always trying to explain to Zakidlets especially the older 2 how fortunate they are to have a safe, happy and comfortable home to live in. Being so young, I understand its hard for little people to comprehend much more than if they feel hungry or sad let alone considering how someone else might be feeling. That’s when I thought about a way I might be able to involve Zakidlets in a little project that would hopefully give them some better insight into the needs of others and that giving gifts can be more important and rewarding then receiving gifts, (I think it will take quite some time for them to fully understand this concept, I can only try).
As most of you already know I held a cake stall at a local Handmade Christmas Market last weekend and I promised I would donate any profits to local Christmas charities. I decided on 2 separate charities one being ‘Operation Santa’ which is run through Target department stores in partnership with Uniting Care. You have the choice of either purchasing a gift of your choice or donating a gift card. The second Charity was the St Vincent de Paul Society. You can donate non-perishable Christmas fare which is included in Christmas hampers getting distributed to local families in need.
So come Monday this week we set to work, shopping for gifts and Christmas fare.
We started with the 2 gifts, I let Blake and Ella do the looking and suggesting then we all collaborated and finalised the purchases. I think they did a really great job with their selections.

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We then payed for our purchases and headed for Target to attach and fill out the appropriate gift tags.

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A lovely sales assistant by the name of Joseph collected our gifts for ‘Operation Santa’ and happily obliged to have his picture taken with Zakidlets!! Thank you so much Joseph!!

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Moving on we headed across to the supermarket to shop for our hamper contributions. Again I asked Blake and Ella for their input on what they thought should go into someone’s house at Christmas time. You may notice there is a box of Coco Pop’s in both trollies, the suggestion of breakfast cereal came up and I asked what cereal they would want to eat on Christmas day? Can you guess what their response was? In the Zamamabakes household Coco Pops are a ‘sometimes’ food (we only have them for special occasions like holiday’s, birthday brekkies and of course Christmas brekkies!!). One box was purchased separately for us the other was included in the ‘Hamper’ collection.

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I think these 2 little people really enjoyed their shopping experiences.

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This is what we ended up with. I know it looks a little on the party, sugary side of things but it is Christmas after all, I can assure you we had some real food in their too.

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On Tuesday after School 4 of us (poor Zadada was at work) arrived at St Vincent de Paul to deliver our hamper contributions.

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We were introduced to a lovely lady Bernadette and we handed our bundle over to her. Bernadette happily obliged to have her photo taken too.
I guess no visit is complete at Vinnies without making a personal purchase or 3. Blake asked if he could go and look at the toy section, the girls were one step behind. They all found an item they wanted to take home. I struck a deal with them, agreeing to make the purchases on condition that when we arrived home they had to find me some toys of their own I could take back the next day to donate. They happily obliged.

It was only yesterday that Blake commented he would love to see the little boys face on Christmas morning that gets the gift we donated to ‘Operation Santa’. That’s what the gift of giving is all about!!

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to my Zamamabakes Cake Stall last weekend. Together we have made a small positive difference in someone’s Christmas experience.

Until next time…..
Zamamambakes.

Some insight into our Santa visit last week

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I’m sure most of you are well into the craziness of the festive season just like us. I think it’s normal at this time of year to have your head spinning isn’t it??? Regardless of the spinning head I still love Christmas and all the good spirited things that come with it.
Last weekend being the start of Advent we put the Christmas tree up and did the inside house decorating. We actually did it on Saturday, I know it was a day early but I had Sunday scheduled as our ‘Santa photo day’.

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It has become a bit of a tradition to have our Santa photo at Myer, this usually involves queuing for a little bit as you can see in the picture above (look at that enthusiastic pair!!! hahahaha!). While we were queuing, I tried to get a few snapshots of the kids. It’s not everyday they are as neat and tidy looking as this. Someone decided he wasn’t feeling very photogenic, that’s why you see just the girls posing in most of the pictures. I didn’t want to push my luck with Blake as I didn’t want him feeling all smiled out for the official ‘Santa Photo’, a mother has to play the game sometimes!

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Our Turn finally came around to see Santa.
Alani didn’t want to get too close to Santa, so she observed him by peeking from behind my dress.
Blake and Ella happily told Santa there Christmas requests.

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Eventually Alani ventured a little closer to Santa and told him from a far that she would like a bike for Christmas.

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It was then time for the official snapshot and after about 5 attempts this was our result. I am very proud of our little family, great that we could get everyone smiling and looking in the same direction at the same time.

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Considering we had to queue for over an hour (next year I will be taking advantage of the book online in advance option), Zakidlets were extremely well-behaved.
We went and had a bite to eat and finished the day off with a well deserved ice-cream. Yum!!!

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I would love to put together a Christmas Blog post of my reader’s Christmas photos, whether it be a picture of your Christmas tree, a Santa picture, anything that says Christmas I would love you to share it with me so I can include it in the post. If you feel like participating email me your pictures to zamambakes@gmail.com
Let’s have a bit of fun!!

Dark Chocolate Tim Tam truffles

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If you like chocolate then you are in the right place.
It’s that time of year where lots of us are baking for School Christmas parties, neighbourhood get togethers, gifts for teachers, you name it there is usually always a good reason to be baking especially at Christmas!!
I have been wanting to make truffles at Christmas for the last couple of years but just never seem to have got around to it?
After seeing posts on Facebook and pins on Pinterest I decided to adapt my own version of a truffle. Zadada and I don’t mind a bit of dark chocolate as a little after dinner treat, that’s how I came up with the ‘Dark Chocolate Tim Tam Truffles’.

INGREDIENTS
250g block Philadelphia cream cheese softened a little (just take out of fridge 1 hour before using)
2 x 200g pkts Dark Chocolate Tim Tams
125g Arnott’s Choc Ripple Biscuits
300g Dark Chocolate
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METHOD
1 Process all biscuits in a food processor until very fine.
2 Add Philadelphia cream cheese and process until well combined. Mixture will look a little like children’s Play Dough but a little rougher in texture.
3 Roll mixture into a ball sized to your liking. Bite size worked well for me I used a heaped teaspoon as my guide. Place rolled balls onto baking paper lined trays. Pop balls into fridge for about 20 mins especially if it’s summer where you live. Once you have melted the chocolate in the next step get them out ready for dipping.

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4 Melt chocolate ( I use the good old-fashioned method for melting chocolate, see here)
5 Secure balls on a skewer or fork ready for dipping in chocolate. I found spooning the chocolate over the balls in conjunction with dipping a good way to ensure good chocolate coverage. Let excess chocolate drain as best you can and place coated ball back on baking paper lined tray.
6 Decorate truffles with whatever your heart desires. I used shredded coconut and Coles brand edible white pearls.
7 Place in refrigerator to set, then transfer to an airtight container and continue storing in the fridge until they disappear.

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Extra Options
As you can see from the picture below I did a little bit of experimenting.
When my mixture was at the Play Dough stage I halved mixture placing 2nd half into another bowl. I then added a Jaffa twist by Squeezing the juice of 1/4 of orange and adding 1 teaspoon of fine orange zest. You may need to knead it through a little. I added some shredded coconut on top. I also had a bit of fun with some white chocolate on the Jaffa flavoured truffles. It’s all pretty much up to your imagination.
You could experiment with all the different flavours of Tim tam biscuits and hey why just limit it to Tim Tams the biscuit aisle at the supermarket has lots of inspiration on offer.
What ever you choose to do just have fun with it and enjoy!!!!

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Kaileen’s Advent Calendar

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The Zamamabakes family have been very fortunate to have been gifted a fantastic handmade Advent Calendar. Zagorgeous Kaileen From Style 2484 made this for Zakidlets. Kaileen has been making these treasures since her own boys were young. Vatina, Kaileen’s friend made the first one and now every year it has become a Christmas tradition for Kaileen to make them.
Alani has been eyeing it off ever since I arrived home with it. Today she can finally start the opening process along with her Brother and Sister. Yay, so exciting!!!!!
As you can see Kaileen has tied 24 little surprise bundles with foil Christmas wrap and ribbon to a pretty star with bells.
The beauty of making your own Advent Calendar is that you can tailor it to suit your children’s likes and also make sure you have the correct number of sweets/objects in each bundle so everyone is included.

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It makes for a pretty, eye-catching contribution to the decorations for Christmas.

I love Christmas.

Thankyou Kaileen. You are a very generous, caring, kind-hearted lady. Lovely to have a friend who enjoys sharing the love and the spirit of Christmas.

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Easy Chocolate Balls

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I thought I would continue on with the Christmas theme, after all we are only 1 day out from it being December.
There are always plenty of social events we get invited to at this time of year. If you are like me you never like to arrive empty-handed when you are a guest. This recipe is one that can provide a solution to the question ‘what should I take?’. The beauty of ‘Easy Chocolate Balls’ is that they’ll keep in the fridge for a good month, so if your token gesture of kindness doesn’t get consumed straight away it doesn’t matter.
I made my first batch of ‘Easy Chocolate Balls’ last weekend (Zakidlets had their School Tableau Cake stall) and I’m quite sure they won’t be my last for the season.

You will need:
250g Arrowroot or Marie biscuits crushed
1 teaspoon of vanilla (If you want them to be Rum balls add 2 dessert spoons of rum instead)
395g tin sweetened condensed milk
3 dessert spoons cocoa sifted
1 cup desiccated coconut (reserve 1/2 cup for rolling chocolate balls in)

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Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined (you will need your muscles at this point). Alternatively if you have a food processor that will fit all ingredients just pulse and blend until all ingredients are combined.
Roll mixture into balls to a size you like, I usually use a teaspoon of mixture as a guide for my Chocolate balls.
Roll in reserved coconut and place onto a foil or baking paper lined baking tray. Once all mixture is rolled place tray of chocolate balls into fridge to firm up. I usually leave them like this for at least 4 hours and then transfer them to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 month if they last that long at your place!!

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For a gift idea why not make a batch of my ‘Rocky Road’ as well as the ‘Easy Chocolate balls’ and combine them in some little gift boxes. Great for teachers, kids friend’s, work colleagues, everyone loves a bit of something homemade from the heart.

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