Cheesecake and Apple Crumble ? Together ? OH YEAH !

This is insanely delicious ! It's like cheesecake (my all time favorite dessert!) with apple crumble (a close second !!) on top !! It's supposed to also have caramel on top but I didn't do that on mine ... I think it was plenty rich without it.

I got this recipe from Mari ... who got it from Paula Deen.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
(Paula Deen)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup softened butter
2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cut and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Streusel topping - recipe follows
1/2 cup caramel topping

Streusel topping
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
In small bowl combine all ingredients

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mix is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir until smooth and pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mix.

Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is set.

Drizzle with caramel topping. (optional ... like I said, I didn't worry with this last step ...)

My Menu - Bonnie - 28 February 2011


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

It's Monday morning and I'm waiting for the groceries to be delivered. This is two weeks in a row ... maybe I'm in a habit now ? I sure hope so ... it's so much easier this way !!

Anyway ... still trying to work within our 1/2 grocery budget ... I managed to do it last week ! Woohoo ! It was good fun moving $150 from our grocery budget, into our trip budget ... I'm a little bit over this week but still going to have over $100 to transfer at the end of the week (I hope) !

I'm excited about this week ... I'm doing a few old favorites ... only trying two new recipes. But they are from a new website that I discovered this week that I LOVE. Of course, I haven't cooked anything from it yet but it looks great.

yeah ... it's time to take a new photo ! this is one of the first recipes i posted ...
it's from 2007 when i was still learning how to use my point and shoot !!

Spinach and Pumpkin Dahl

a Bonnie original ...

Mexican Cous Cous

a Rory original
again, probably time for a new photo ...

Rory's Carbonara

new recipes .... (except the guac)


Albondigas with Spanish Rice and Guacamole


Buffalo Boneless Chicken Pizza
Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Garlic Pizza


And there you have it ... our menu for this week !
I'll be posting some great recipes this week ... I learned how to make pasta the other night.
SOOOOO YUM ! There are already some photos on facebook but I'll post about
it here soon. Also ... we made Mari's Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
last night. SO FREAKING DELICIOUS ! You should try them.
We didn't actually even put the caramel on top ... but I'll
post about them here in a couple days as well.



My Mom gave me her guacamole recipe years ago ... I'm still making it the same way. (Except she doesn't like cilantro so I'm not sure she actually puts that in hers ...)(Do you, Mom?)

2 avocados, one mashed, one chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
red onion, diced
garlic - to taste, I use about 4 or 5 cloves - crushed
splash of lemon juice
fresh cilantro ( coriander )
jalapeno (optional)

Mix all those things together. EASY DONE ! Very Tasty !!
Do ahead if possible because it's yummiest after the flavors all infuse !!

Pumpkin Salad w/ Lentils and Brazillian Beef

I found these recipes in a magazine.
Of course, I changed them just a bit to suite our tastes ...

For the salad:
1 kg chopped pumpkin
3 small onions, peeled and chopped in 1/2
ground cumin
400g can lentils
dried cranberries
pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
fresh lemon thyme leaves
baby rocket (arugula) leaves

Coat pumpkin and onions with olive oil then sprinkle with ground cumin. Bake on 200C for about 30 minutes ... In a bowl, make your salad. Throw together a few handfuls of rocket leaves, a few sprigs of lemon thyme leaves, a handful of dried cranberries, and the same of the toasted pepitas. Grind in the rind of a lemon and then squeeze it's juice on top. Rinse and drain the lentils, add them. When the pumpkin and onions are cooked, add them too.

Super simple and I LOVED THE TASTE of this salad !!

For the Meat:
1 kg beef rump steak chunks
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice (I used the pulpy kind)

Mix everything but the steak in a big glass bowl. Then add steak. Let marinate for a few hours. I only had about an hour last night and it was delicious even after that amount of time. You can thread these onto skewers and BBQ them but last night I just did them in a hot non stick fry pan. I pretty much just cooked one side, flipped it and cooked the other side.

Delicious. Even Alia and I, who don't generally go for steak, loved this.

Serve with lemon wedges ... but I squeezed them onto my salad rather than onto the meat ...

The Man Meal

Last night Kathy and Pam,
our incomparable cooks,
were away,
So Toby and I were on our own for dinner.
Now although Toby is capable of making many fine dishes,
my only claim to fame (aside from my Galloping Gourmet "Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic," that is) is grilling meat on the barbecue grill.
For more on that, go here and here.

So we decided to grill up a fine Ribeye steak for about 15 minutes (I'm never sure how long it takes. I just cook it until it looks and tastes done!). It was a bit cool outside last night, so it may have taken longer than usual.
Toby then sautéed onions and garlic and heated up some leftover white rice.
We opened a can of asparagus, washed it all down with a cold Newcastle, and voilà.
Toby dubbed it "the Man Meal," and I can't disagree.

BBQ Meatballs

* photo taken on my iPhone ...

We used to have these often but haven't had them for years. I got the recipe from an email group called "real food for real people" that I used to be a part of years and years ago. We used to make them as burgers but last night I decided to make them as meatballs. They were really yum ! This recipe makes a heap ! We ate them for dinner, and will eat them again for lunch and still have some left over. Usually I freeze half the batch ...

For the meatballs:
3lb ground beef (just over 1kg beef mince)
3 saltine (salada) crackers, crushed (i actually did about 8 ...)
1/4 cup water to each lb ground beef

Mix ingredients and roll into meatballs (or patties) and quickly brown. Do not cook completely. Put into baking dish and cover with BBQ sauce, bake 350F/180C for one hour.

For the sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
6 tbls Worchestershire sauce
1 large onion, finely diced

Bring all ingredients to boil on top of stove, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour over burgers/meatballs.


I served this last night with roast potatoes, peas and corn. As we were eating, I remembered that we used to serve this with mashed potatoes ... mmmmmm ... next time !

Make sure you scoop lots of that yummy sauce on top of them meatballs when you serve !

My Menu - Bonnie - 20 February 2011


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

I've just finished doing the online shopping so the majority of our items will arrive tomorrow morning. I just have to grab a few things for dinner at the shops today. I love when I get organized to shop on line ! Actually, it's going to be a necessity. We have purchased tickets to go home to the states in a few months and in looking at our budget, we've determined that we need to cut our groceries in half until we go. It's a good thing I love a challenge (mostly when there is a reward at the end !) because this is a HUGE challenge. Actually, it's not quite in half. Our budget used to be $400 a week but we cut that down to about $350 a week, a month or two ago. Now, my goal is to do healthy, delicious food (and all toiletries as well) for $200 a week. I have a fair bit in my freezer and pantry so for a little while it shouldn't be too hard. This week I think I'll be right under ! I might even be able to get Rory some beer (alcohol is the other thing we said we'd need to cut until we go !) in that $200's !

If you have any great, cheap, yet healthy meal ideas, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section !


This had to get pushed from last week ... we're having it tonight !
Grilled Fish Sandwich

BBQ meatballs w/roast veggies
We used to eat these all the time ... although not as meatballs.
I'll share the recipe after I make them ....

Lemony Chicken and Israeli Cous Cous for a potluck dinner at out house !


New Recipe ...
Sweet Pumpkin and Lentil Salad with Brazillian Beef Kebabs.

Spinach and Pumpkin Dahl
(another old favorite)

Spaghetti Bolognaise (out of the freezer) ... Unless we get a better offer ! :)

Creamy Parmesan Chicken
We haven't had this in ages ... I'll post the recipe after I make it !


Alia wants to make snickerdodles as her special treat this week.
We will make those this afternoon.

And Rory has asked for some meusli bars for lunches.
We will make those this afternoon too.


Thai Mandarin Salad


Ingredients ...

1 jar of mandarin (tangerine) segments
fresh coriander leaves
rocket (arugula)
yellow, red and orange sweet peppers, sliced
a couple of radishes, sliced
a sprinkle of feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients...
fresh ginger, grated
chili & garlic sauce
2 TBLS soy sauce
6 TBLS olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
4 limes, juiced
salt and pepper

Assemble the salad ingredients.
Mix the dressing ingredients and adjust to taste.
Top the salad with dressing ...

How did this blog get its name, anyway ?

A few people have asked me how this blog came to be known as "the beans blog". Inspired by my friend Khristas blog, in 2006 I started my first blog. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't know people other than my family would read it and I didn't even realize blogs had names ! I was just writing and posting photos and then I started to meet other people ... all over the world ... who wrote blogs. People who shared similar interests and who wanted to connect. I started to notice in the comments and in links to my blog from theirs, people started referring to my blog as "simple beauty" after I had posted this photo ...

That was when I decided that my personal blog would be known as "Simple Beauty" ... but this post is not about THAT blog ...

It's about the Beans Blog, which I started in September 2007. A little bit of background might be helpful for you ... I live in Australia. I'm American, not that I grew up in America but that's a story for another day ! My family all live in the States now ... except me ... I married an Aussie and moved here in 1997 ! So ... 10 years into being here and I'm having lots of conversations with my Mom and my cousins and my best friend about all these healthy and yummy foods they are eating and I'm really feeling like I'd like to have a 'community' of healthy food conversations and recipes. What I had learned about blogging so far was that you could create a community of people with similar interests through a blog so ... it was time to start another one !

On the 25th of September 2007 I posted this very first post ... "Having become very discouraged with trying to find healthy recipes that I KNOW WILL BE GOOD ... I've decided to enlist the help of my Mom, two of my cousins and my best friend Shay. All are great cooks and amazingly healthy eaters ... I keep getting emails about all the great things they are cooking. So ... here is my attempt at getting all of those recipes and ideas and hints and tips and nutritional discoveries at my fingertips. Actually, it's more about me feeling like I'm a part of it all but we'll just keep that to ourselves !!"

I love salads, veggies, fruit, all that healthy sort of stuff. But, having never liked beans other than green ones, and knowing how good they are for you, part of my quest was to find good bean recipes ! To try them. And to like them ! In the spirit of giving it a good go, I made my blog address "Pass The Beans Please !!" And do you know what ? I actually LIKE beans now !! Here is the recipe that started to change it all ...

I don't remember how it all came about ... but eventually I had lots of other people posting to the blog ! My friend Khrista is amazing ! She helped me set everything up, continues to make great improvements to the blog, not to mention the great recipes she posts ! I love that she is so much a part of what happens here ... she was my blogging inspiration, after all !! Shay ... still doesn't post to the blog herself but she is a continual source of amazing recipes and encouragement ! My cousins Pam and Jill were both living with my Mom at the time the blog started (or maybe not but I'm no good with dates that aren't written down !) and great things were ... and still are coming out of that cooking team !! My Mom, of course, is who I inherited my love of cooking from ... and to whom I will forever be grateful ! From time to time, you'll also see posts from my Dad ! Those are some of my very favorite posts !! Pam and Jill's Mom ... my Aunt Jo joined the team at some stage and has contributed wonderfully and creatively ! I love that. My sister Ellie posts sporadically but incredibly. Her recipes are always ones I want to try and quickly become favorites and regulars !! Andrea and Hannah are recent-er additions but they are wonderful !! They are the sisters of my sister Ellie's husband. Ha ! It's a mouthful of a connection so it's easier (and closer to the truth) to just say 'they are family' ! One day, I hope to get their Mom posting ! But for now, I try her recipes and then post them ! Beth is someone I met through my Simple Beauty blog who wanted to be part of what was happening here. Michelle ... met her on facebook. We went to the same high school in Spain but didn't know each other. Doesn't matter though ! We know each other now ! :) And Grace ... my Korean friend who lived close to me in Australia. I went up to her one day and said "Hey ... I live close to you. Let's be friends!" We have been ever since ! She loves to cook and I love the international flair she brings to my life and to this blog !!

Somewhere along the way, someone ... (I think it was Khrista)... referred to Pass The Beans Please as The Beans Blog ... and it stuck !


I love what this blog has become ! I love the community it has created. I love the conversations it starts. I love the feedback I get from people who have been inspired to try something new. I love the friendships that have grown because of it. I love the inspiration I find here.

Thanks for being a part of it !

Oh ... and pass the beans, please .....

Banana Loaf

Ok, so I know there are millions of Banana Bread recipes out there but this one is a must try.
It's so easy and delicious that every time I bake it, it barely has a chance to cool before the family polishes it off. (and before I can get a good picture.)
This recipe doesn't call for nuts but I'm sure you could throw some in, if you're so inclined...(I can't say that I ever am.)

-Scant 1 3/4 Cup self rising flour
-Generous 3/4 Cup brown sugar
-Pinch of salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-2 Large bananas
-3/4 Cup orange juice
-2 eggs, beaten
-4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven 350F/180C and Grease your loaf pan.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and spices into a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, mash the bananas with the orange juice, then stir in the (beaten)eggs and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.

3. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour. If a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, its done.

4. Let cool, turn out the loaf, slice and spread with a generous amount of butter.

Alia's Chocolate Oat Treat

So ... Alia made these the other day and by the time I thought to take a photo there was only this one left !! These were super easy and super yummy ! Such a fun treat.

This made 9 pieces the size you see pictured ...

150g chocolate ... we used a Lindt Milk Chocolate
8 TBLS rolled oats
2 TBLS butter
3 TBLS golden syrup
something sweet to put on top of each piece ... we used soft jubes

All you do is boil water in a small pot, put your chocolate in a heat proof bowl on top of the small pot to melt. Add the golden syrup and butter. Melt. Stir. Add oats. Pour mixture onto a small tray lined with baking paper. Put sweet decorations on top of each piece (you'll have to determine how many pieces you are going to cut it into !) Cover and put the tray in the fridge for a couple of hours til the chocolate is solid again. We left it over night. Cut into pieces and try to get one before they disappear !!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Salad w/Alioli

Here you go ... a Bonnie original.
Just threw this together out of leftovers in the fridge.

1/2 a baby cos lettuce
1/4 of an avocado
1 hard boiled egg
proscuitto left over from burger night
roasted red bell peppers (capsicum), left over from ... can't remember now !
aioli ... leftover from burger night

Throw it all together.
Add a bit of water to the aioli to make it a dressing consistency.

menu plan monday // Khrista 02.14.11

Being lazy again this week and just scanning in our menu...I kinda of like the freedom! :) Please excuse my messy handwriting! 

Links to recipes:
Curried Red Lentil Soup
*my menu says we're having rolls with it, but I plan to make Naan instead!*

Oh, and here's another "freebie" I made up for my own use, but thought I would share it as well. 
It goes with the Menu Planner I linked to in this post. :)


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Triple Tomato Sauce Pasta

Mom posted this a while back ... I'm re posting it because it had kinda gotten lost.
I just tried it tonight ... here's my photo.
It's delicious.
SUPER EASY to make !
Try it ....

Here is a super easy recipe I tried last evening. It was yummy! It took only the time needed to cook the pasta. A side caesar salad and dinner was ready!

Penne with Triple Tomato Sauce

1 pound penne
2 medium tomatoes (5 ounces each), cut into 1-inch dice
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I had half a can, so used it all...then needed an extra drizzle of olive oil to make the blender whirl it all)
4 large basil leaves
1 garlic clove (I of course used more!)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until al dente.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, garlic and olive oil. Puree until smooth. Drain the pasta, put it back into the hot pan. Pour the sauce over it, add the salt and pepper, and toss well to coat. Serve the pasta piping hot. (If you are going to serve it in a bowl, I'd suggest heating the bowl in the oven first.)

I grated lots of fresh romano cheese to lavishly sprinkle on as it was the only protein of the meal. Good call, I thought! This is the site where I found the recipe...I'll visit there again!

My Menu - Bonnie - 14 February 2011


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY ... although, every day is Valentines Day at my house ! :)

I'm going to try making Pad Thai by myself.
(The recipe I posted was from when I watched a friend make it.)
I'm going to add prawns ! MMMM !!

My Mom posted this one a while back ...
this will be the first time I've tried it.
Penne with Triple Tomato Salad
Simple Side Salad



Tuna Mac

Spaghetti Bolognaise

This is one that Andrea posted a while back ...
Can't wait to try it !!
Grilled Fish Sandwich


Birthday Party !

Yummmy Yummmmy Almondy Tart !!


So, a while back, when we were still trying to eat totally unprocessed, I made this.
It's a combination of a few recipes ...


I started by making a pastry base that I had made for the ganache. I did it in a quiche dish so it was a bit 'taller' than the base you see pictured (that's from the ganache !)

For the pastry base:
240g good whole wheat flour, I sift mine
160g butter
Pinch of salt

To make the dough ... this was so easy !! Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 teaspoons cold water and blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured board or clean bench and form dough into a disc, enclose in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (if you do it too much longer than that it gets really hard to roll out ...) Roll pastry out to the size of whatever tart pan (or pans) you are using ~ I used a glass quiche dish ... actually, I used a tart pan but then the bottom popped out and the side of the pan burned me and I dropped it and lost the sides of my pastry so I transferred the half cooked pastry to a quiche dish !! ....poke the base with a fork, then place back in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F ... bake pastry for about 15 minutes (until golden). Remove from oven and reduce the heat ... 170C/325F

For the inside of the tart:
350g almond meal (or you could process almonds to make your own)
300g butter
100g brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 TBLS strawberry jam. Make sure it is a nice one ! I use St. Dalfour exclusively. It's more expensive than normal jam but we don't eat it very often so I think it balances out in the end !

For the topping:
Sliced almonds to sprinkle on the top
500ml creme fraiche

Mix butter and sugar til light and creamy. Add almond meal and eggs and fold until completely combined. It should be smooth. Stick it in the fridge to firm up. Cover the bottom of the pastry with jam. Pour in your almond mixture. Sprinkle your sliced almonds on the top.

Bake for about 40 minutes. It should be firm on the outside but soft in the middle.

Let cool and serve with creme fraiche.

Meat for Burgers

So ... we have been working for years on our meat patties that
we use to make burgers. Rory has pretty well perfected them
now ! Every time we make burgers and I post about it, I
refer you to the first post I did when we were first
starting out, the photos leave lots to be desired.
I keep thinking, I need to do another post
but I always forget to take a photo of
the patty itself ! As you can see, I
still haven't done that. This is
last nights burger, that
is a combo of the

Delicious, I might add !

Here we go ... how we make our meat patties for the Cheese & Burger Society Burgers we have tried ...

500g (1lb) mince (ground beef)
1 small onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbls chopped parsley, oregano, chives, basil ... or whatever herbs you like
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons seeded mustard
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (just put a couple of slices of bread ... I use the ends ... into your food processor ... process for a few minutes and voila ... bread crumbs !!)

Combine all ingredients.
Make into patties.
We cook ours on the BBQ ...

menu plan monday // Khrista 02.07.11

Being lazy today and just scanning in my handwritten plan for this week. ;)
I moved two meals from last week to this week:
Veggie Lasagna & Ash-e Reshteh
I ended up having stuff to make a yummy Wild Rice & Celery Root soup so we had that one night, and we ate out one night. ;)
Veggie Lasagna is in the slow cooker right now. It's the first time I've made a lasagna in a slow cooker. I'm hoping it turns out o.k.
Have any of you tried lasagna in a slow cooker?
(I am mostly worried about the eggs in the cheese mixture not cooking fully.)

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks

Another recipe from my favorite cooking blog ... I modified mine just a little bit.

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
500g zucchini sticks
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg (lightly beaten)

Mix the bread crumbs, paremesan and oregano in a bowl. Salt and Pepper the Zucchini. Dip the zucchini in the egg and then cover with bread crumbs. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 425F/220C oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

The end.

We dipped them in ranch.

My Menu - Bonnie - 7 February 2011


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie


Meat Lovers Pizza
(bacon, peperoni, red onion on a tomato base topped with mozarella)

Funky Lime Pizza


Veggie Pizza

Experimental Buffalo Boneless Chicken Pizza ... IT WAS AMAZING !
(recipe coming soon)

Spaghetti Bolognaise ... out of the freezer !

Going to a party.
I'm taking soft pretzels ...


green salad
sour dough bread

either burgers with the neighbors
or sushi with friends to celebrate a happy birthday

unplanned so far

Alia's baking for this week ...

On the first day of school, the teacher explained that the kids have a behavioral chart ~ a bee hive with bees ~ each bee has one of the kids names on it. If they behave, the bee stays in the hive. If their bee stays in the hive from Monday - Thursday, they had the choice of a piece of candy or a sticker. I signed a note saying I did not want Alia to have the candy. Then I told Alia that each Thursday when she brought her sticker home, I'd let her choose something to bake and we'd bake it on the weekend. The first week she made Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins.

This week she made these little chocolate fairy cakes.
They were delicious. I'll post the recipe soon.

Wombok Salad

This is adapted from the recipe on the back of the packet of Fried Noodles

1 wombok (chinese cabbage)
6 spring onions
100 g lightly roasted slivered almonds
1 pack (100g) Fried Noodles

1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup olive oil

Throw all the dressing ingredients together. Microwave for a minute or two ... not too hot. Just to help the sugar dissolve.

Chop the cabbage and onions and toss with rest of ingredients. I sometimes add sliced snow peas too, when I have them.

Top with dressing. YUM YUM YUM !!!

menu plan monday // Khrista 01.31.11

Links to some of the recipes:
Ash-e-Reshteh inspired by THIS post