Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Making a change

After talking with a good friend of mine and watching 'Jamies Food Revolution' I have decided that I am going to attempt to change our diets to a 'cleaner' one.  My son has eczema that covers his body, we've tried all the creams, oils that doctors prescribe, as well as some more natural products that I have found.  We even tried gluten free for a while to see if that improved things, and have had no such luck.  So it is with him in mind that I am wanting to 'clean' up our diet so to speak. 

Once you start looking at what is in the food you eat, it can be a real eye opener.  I don't know if any of you have watched 'Jamies Food Revolution' before, but it's quite scary!  He got the kids to make a sundae with any topping they wanted, and then made another sundae with the real ingredients of what they had made.  Some of it included human hair, feathers and secretion from bugs!!!  Ewwww!

It also surprised me to see that these 17 year old children had no clue as to where their food comes from.  They were asked a series of multi choice questions and very few knew the answers.  I am proud to say that my son was able to answer each one correctly, so I must've done something right :)

When asked where butter came from, they answered 'sweetcorn', when asked where cheese came from, they answered 'macaroni', when asked where sausages came from, they answered 'corn dog plant' (that one really surprised me), some of them didn't know what an almond was, they thought guacamole was made out of apples, the list goes on.
I am determined to make sure my children grow up knowing what is in their food, so that they can make good choices, and at the same time, hopefully this new way of looking at food will help my sons skin so he isn't self conscious anymore.

Ok.  Rant over :)

Now, because I don't like waste, I am going to use majority of the stuff I had in my cupboards first, and slowly change things.  So far Katie and I have started to replace white sugar with raw/brown/muscavado sugar and white flour with wholemeal.  I have been checking labels and to be honest, because I make a lot of stuff from scratch, most of our food is ok.  I know I'll probably make some slip ups along the way, but it's all a learning experience :)  What you need to look out for is the ingredients that you don't understand, or the products that have a looooong list of ingredients.  There are some preservatives to avoid - especially if you have sensitive skin.

I can tell you that the Gingerbread loaf recipe in the Edmonds cookbook is great with the flour and sugar replacements, I also used Greek yoghurt as I think that is better for you.  Same with the basic spice biscuits, in fact I can't really taste any difference :)

I can also tell you that homemade ice cream is awesome!  I made one with whipped cream, condensed milk, vanilla paste and choc chips - super sweet so you only need a small amount, and it actually looked like the bought stuff!

I have made another one using eggs, chocolate, cream and a touch of raw sugar.  First you separate your eggs.  I used three.  Put yolks in a bowl with some raw sugar and beat until thickened.  Heat a small amount of cream in a saucepan, slowly pour into the egg yolk mix, beating as you go, then pour back into saucepan and heat until starting to thicken.  Place dark choc in bottom of a bowl, pour egg custard mix over top, through a sieve to catch any bits of egg that may have cooked.  Stir until choc has melted.
In another bowl, beat egg whites until thick.  Beat cream until thick (I added the cream to the thickened egg whites and beat again), adding a small amound at a time, gently fold cream and egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Pour into ice cream tub and freeze.  You can beat it again after an hour or two, but I don't always do this.
*The chunks are chocolate that didn't melt :)

Jamies 15 minute meal that I made this week was Pork Tacos (I used tortillas though).  It was fantastic!  Normally when making tortillas I would use lots of cheese, but with this recipe, you didn't use it, and didn't even miss it.  It was nice and creamy, and I think it would work with other meats too.

Basic run down:  Pork cut into small (1cm) chunks in frying pan with fennel seeds and smoked paprika, cook until cooked through.
In another pan, olive oil, diced onion, crushed garlic, tin of organice black beans (juice included), cumin seeds, simmer and then mash - basically like a refried bean mix.
Salad - lettuce, apple cut into matchsticks, avocado, tomato.  Drizzle with EVOO, lime juice and soy sauce, toss together.
Plain greek yoghurt mixed with a touch of sweet chilli sauce.
Combine all ingredients in your wrap and enjoy!
*The only ingredients to check on with the clean living, is the soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.  My soy could probably be a little better, but I'm quite happy with the sweet chilli sauce we use.

I have just made some honey cupcakes.  The recipe was pretty straight forward, so I thought I would try to substitute those flour and sugars again. 

This is how they turned out.

I think the sugar may be the culprit in this one.  All the other ingredients weren't changed.  Back to the drawing board on this one!

Anyways, I think I've gone on for long enough now!  Hopefully you have found this interesting and informative :)

Happy cooking!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Meals to Share

It was my grandparents 75th birthday this month, so we had a family gathering in the weekend to celebrate this. We each brought some food to share, so I thought you lovely folks in blogland might like to make these too :)

Firstly, I made fabulous savoury cheese rolls.  Super simple to make, and oh so tasty!  All you need is bread (toast slice), evaporated milk, onion soup mix, cheese and toothpicks.

Mix your evaporated milk with soup mix, and add grated cheese until you have a thickish consistency.  I cut one crust of each slice of bread off for the centre of the roll.  Spread mix onto each slice of bread - you don't need too much, otherwise it gets tricky to roll.  Roll each piece up starting with the edge with no crust.  Place on baking tray and if it doesn't stay rolled up, use a toothpick to keep it in place, I find that putting it on an angle helps.  I also spread just a wee bit of marg or butter on top and then place in the oven to bake until crispy.  Really tasty on their own, or dipped into some nice thick soup ... mmmmmm ...

I also made up a recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes :)  These went down a treat!
All you need to do is make a standard lemon cupcake recipe, bake it like normal and let it cool.  Then you want to get a knife and put a small slit in the centre of each one (you don't have to do this, but it makes it a bit easier) and using an icing bag and standard icing tip, insert some lemon curd - push icing tip in as far as you can then as you squeeze, slowly pull it out.

Make meringue - 3egg whites, 1/4C caster sugar, 1/2tsp vanilla essence - beat egg whites until stiff, slowly add the caster sugar (1Tbsp at a time) until thick and glossy, stir in the vanilla. You could probably pipe it on, but I just dolloped it on top of each cupcake, mainly cause that's how I make a meringue pie.  Pop cupcakes back in oven at 180C for about 10 minutes, or until meringue is starting to colour.

Everyone who tried one thought they were delicious, and exactly like Lemon Meringue Pie :)

Home made pizza is another favourite meal to make when sharing with others.  There are so many different recipes that I use, but the one I did recently went like this:

Roll out pizza dough, leaving some extra hanging over the edge of pizza tray.  Spread some cream cheese and tomato relish over base, and place grated cheese all around the edge.  Roll up the outside edges over top of cheese to make a stuffed crust.
Chop some ham and sprinkle over top, add some whole slices of salami as well as some chopped up pieces.  Add a sprinkle of bacon and some sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle grated cheese overtop and then swirl bbq sauce over cheese.  Bake until bubbling.  You can also add some extra chunks of cream cheese on top of the grated cheese for an extra cheesy pizza :)

The other recipe I wanted to share with you, is not so much for sharing - I mean you could make it as a meal for your family, but it's not something you would take to a pot luck type of situation.

Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

English Muffins
3 egg yolks
a splash of white wine vinegar
100g melted butter
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Basically cook bacon the way you like it, and toast the english muffins.  To poach your eggs, you want to get the water up to a boil, add a splash of vinegar, then turn off the element.  Crack your eggs close to the surface of the water, the heat of the water will cook them perfectly without breaking them up with the bubbles of boiling water.
To make hollandaise sauce, beat egg yolks until frothy, add splash of white wine vinegar and beat some more.  Place over a saucepan with a little boiling water in it - don't let water touch bottom of bowl, and keep heat low so you don't scramble the eggs.  Keep beating.  Slowly add melted butter, a few drops at a time.  It will thicken.  Once all the butter is combined with eggs, take off the heat and season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice to taste.
Spread a little marg on your muffins, place bacon over top, eggs on them (to avoid getting your muffins wet, dap your spoon/fish slice on a teatowel before placing eggs on plate) and then you pour some sauce over top.
Seriously delicious!  It may sound like a lot of work, but it's really not that hard, and it's sooooo worth it!  My son said it was the best egg meal I have ever made :)

So there you go, some great meal ideas for those pot luck occasions.  Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we did :)

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Winter Warmers

Well it's been a bit of a rough week with me being under the weather for majority of it.  I figured this is the perfect time to introduce some of my favourite winter 'go to' recipes.  Now I've been a little slack in the photo department again and only took some of the dishes I made, so you'll just have to use your imaginations for the rest!

I'm going to start with a dessert - this was always my sisters favourite growing up, and once my hubby tried it, it soon became one of his too.  It's fair to say I make it at least twice a winter, in fact there was a time where I was making it once a week!  It's that good!  I must warn you, there is quite a lot of sugar in it, but it is a dessert so ...

Hot Fudge Pudding (self saucing)

1 1/2 C Flour                                                                               1Tbsp Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder                                                        1C Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt                                                                                 3Tbsp Butter
3/4 C Milk                                                                                  3/4 Dsp Vanilla

Melt butter and mix with sugar and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and begin mixing, adding milk as you go.
Spoon into a greased deep dish (I use a casserole dish) 
*mix will be thick and gluggy, spread it over base as best as you can.

Combine 1C Sugar, 1Tbsp Cocoa, 1Tbsp Coffee together and sprinkle over top.

Pour 1 3/4C of boiling water over top.

Bake at 180C for 45-60 mins  It will look cooked on top when done, and will bounce back when touched.  Serve with cream or ice cream.

You can also add choc chips to this, or use milo in place of cocoa.  Or a combination.

Because it's chocolate, you can use any flavour ice cream too :)

From sweet to savoury.  I'm going to share my recipe for ... wait for it ... mince!  I know right?  Exciting!  Seriously though, there is nothing better on a cold wintery day, than mince and creamy mashed potato ... mmmmm ... can you feel the warmth?
My mince, is not plain and boring.  It is full of flavour, and has an almost creamy texture to it.  I actually learned this by cooking with my Dad :)


500g mince
onion diced
carrot diced
frozen peas and corn
tomato and onion soup mix
curry powder
tin of spaghetti

Cook onions in oil until softened.  Add mince and brown, breaking big chunks down.
Add spaghetti, soup mix and curry - however much you are comfortable with.  Give it a good stir, then add water to spaghetti tin and have this nearby to add to pan.
Add veges (you can add other veges too).  Turn to low and keep it at a low bubble.  You will need to stir it regularly as it can stick to pan.  Add water as it is needed, I normally add about a half can once all ingredients are in, and then top up as required.  You're looking for a creamy looking consistency.
Heat through for roughly 20-30mins (enough time to prepare your mash).

This is great served as it is with some cheesey/creamy mashed potato and even better the next day reheated and on toast with a smattering of cheese on top.

Another great meal to make is Honey Mustard Sausages on a Carrot Mash.  I got this recipe from watching Nigel Slater on Food TV.  He always makes good hearty meals.

You need good sausages, pork or beef
wholegrain mustard (i use honeymustard here)
dijon mustard
lemon juice


Firstly prick the sausages and pop in baking dish in oven at 180C for a few minutes while you get sauce made
you need roughly 1Tbsp of each mustard and the honey - a good heaped one of honey.  If using creamed honey you will need to put in microwave for a few seconds to soften it.  Stir together until combined.  Add a splash of lemon juice, or if you have some, I use Prenzel citrus vinaigrette.
Pour over sausages and  put back in oven until cooked through.  They will be nice and sticky when they are done.
Meanwhile, chop carrots into small chunks, boil.  When soft, drain, and add a generous amount of butter, salt and pepper.  Mash.  Add some chopped fresh herbs - I use rosemary or thyme.
Serve sausages over carrot mash, and scoop a little of the sticky sauce over top :)

Hopefully you will find some use for these awesome recipes :) I always love making them.  You really can't go wrong with them.

Happy cooking!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Savoury week!

Savoury week began with a little bit of a disaster and a reminder to always check that your equipment is right for the job.  I made the mistake of assuming that a ceramic dish - same brand as another I have used - was ok to use on the stove top.  And to be fair it probably would have worked if I hadn't had the temperature up so high.  Anyways, this is what my dish looks like now ...
Let's have a moment of silence ... RIP dish, you were well loved, one of my favourites in fact.

Even though this was a sad occasion, it was not in vain!  The meal I was making turned out to be one of my best :)  In the words of my husband "This is restaurant quality!  You could charge $35 a plate for this!"  Needless to say, I was rather happy with that comment.

This meal was another of Jamie Olivers lovely creations.  I highly recommend purchasing his 15 minute meals book - so many great recipes in there!  And everytime I cook chicken the way he says to, it turns out so juicy and tender.  It was accompanied by the best potato gratin I have ever made, and a side of snowpeas, peas and spinach, all topped off with some crispy bacon ... mmmm ... bacon ...

What's that you say?  You can't see the chicken?  It's under that pile of bacon!  The recipe said to use two bits, but I had a packet of streaky bacon that needed eating.  You can never have too much bacon.  It's just not possible.

The potato gratin is actually what I was making when my dish began to split.  And yea it may not look like much in the pic, but seriously ... the ... best ... ever!  You start off by putting sliced onions in a hot roasting dish with some oil on stove top, add salt and pepper and crumble up a chicken stock cube.  Stir.  To keep it from sticking, you can add a splash of water.  Meanwhile you want your potatoes (thinly sliced) in a pot of boiling water, boiling for a few minutes.  Drain and then add to the onions.  Stir together to coat them in the onions and seasoning.  Pour some cream over and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Pop under the grill until bubbling and golden brown.
I challenge you to make this and not go back for seconds!

Now to blow your mind again!  Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Spinach Filo Parcels!
These are so easy to make and taste divine.  A good meal to make when you have guests coming over.

First of all, you start with your filo sheets - I normally cut these in half.  You want to lay one sheet on a clean dry surface and brush with melted butter.  Place another sheet over top and brush with butter also, add one more layer. 
Spread cream cheese in centre at shortest edge, sprinkle over some smoked salmon - not the tinned stuff - and some baby spinach on top of that.
*Make sure you keep the pastry that's not being used, covered so that it doesn't dry up.
Next step is to fold up the two sides
Then you roll the remainder up into a log.  Place on a baking tray and brush with more melted butter.  Put a couple of slices in the top. 
Put in the oven at 180C until they are golden and crisp.  Serve with a salad and some roast potatoes.

You can also make these wraps using chicken (precooked), cream cheese and apricots - absolutely delicious!

I have one more meal for you, and this one is really simple.  I made pizza dough in the breadmaker - yes I know, lazy, but why not make it a little easier on myself?  It's been a busy week!
So, while dough is being made, heat up a pan with some oil in it.  Cook an onion until softened.  Add mince and brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a couple of fresh tomatoes, chopped.  A splash of lemon juice.  Simmer until reduced and thicker.

Put pizza dough on a pizza tray and spread with cream cheese.  Spread the cooled mince mix overtop.  Dollop a bit more cream cheese on top, sprinkle with grated cheese (I used that pizza cheese) and a little sumac sprinkled on top.  Put in the oven 180C until base is golden and cooked through, and cheese bubbling.

So there you have it.  I made it through a whole blog without adding anything sweet or chocolatey!  Yay for me!  I hope you try some of these meals, cos they are all great, and actually quite easy to make.

Happy cooking everyone!  Enjoy your weekend!