Saturday, 28 September 2013

Whoo hoo!

Whoohoo!  I have been inspired :)  My mum, Katie and I all went to a talk by the "Whoohoo" lady last week and I now feel the need to share her with you!  Everything she said made so much sense!  Without going into too much detail, she is the original inspiration for Katie and I to make dietary changes in our lives, and now that I have heard her speak, I am more determined to make an effort.  Basically, she believes that food is the key to our health and that if we eat more truly natural foods (none of this fake 'natural' food or "goo" as she calls it) we will feel much better for it.  If you would like to read more about her you can check out her site here.

As I have said in my past blogs, I will slowly do this, replacing 'goo' food with good food as we run out of things.  So some of the things I am changing are: coffee, sugar, flour, cereal, bread.
So far the coffee is a hit, strong flavour and tastes great with some honey as a sweetener :) (I know I thought it sounded weird at first too, but really you should try it!)  Have yet to try the others but will keep you up to date on my findings.  For those of you who are interested, the sugar is Panella, the flour I am changing to Organic Stoneground flour and the bread I will make from scratch using fresh yeast.

Obviously the recipes I am sharing with you today, won't have my new diet plan in place as I made these before going to the talk.

Firstly, I have a Peach Pie :)

Sweet short pastry ( I will endeavour to make this myself next time)
Stewed black boy peaches

I used peaches that I had previously stewed and frozen, but you could make them from scratch (cut into small pieces, add a smidge of water and sugar and heat until softened)
I added 1Tbsp flour, 1/2tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg to the peaches - mix.
Roll out pastry and line pie tin, if you have enough leftover you could cut out some shapes for on top, or strips to stripe the top with.
Pour peach mix into pie dish, cover with extra pastry and then sprinkle sugar ontop - I think I used demerera sugar.
Put in oven 180C until pastry is browning.

So this recipe would easily be transferrable to the new dietary plan - homemade pastry using the changed flour.  Peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg all fine.  Again change the flour and the sugar to panella.

I also made a Spiced Apple Cake

125g butter
2 medium apples grated with skins on
1C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2C  wholemeal flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1tsp mixed spice

1 1/2Tbsp melted butter
1/2C rolled oats
1/4C brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C
Melt butter, remove from heat and add apples, sugar and egg.  Beat well and fold in sifted ingredients.
Line bottom of a spring form pan, pour mix in. 
Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over top.
Bake for 30-45mins until centre springs back when pressed lightly.

Again, you can make this in the new way with the changed flour and sugar, the rest is pretty much the same :)

It's my sons birthday tomorrow, and we had a casual family dinner last week for it.  I made him a cake in the shape of a PSP (his request) I think it could have looked better, but he seemed suitably impressed with it :)  I also made a whole heap of food that does NOT fit the new way, but as I said, I am slowly making changes, and this stuff had already been bought.

One thing I made (but sadly no photo for you) was sticky chorizo.  It was amazing!   And probably super bad for you, but good as a treat food.  Basically, get some good quality chorizo (remove skin if that paper stuff), cut it into chunks.  Place in hot frying pan (no oil needed as it has lots of natural fats in it).  Cook until browned.  Add vinegar - I used Raspberry vinegar, but you could use any really (or maybe lemon juice) then drizzle some runny honey over top and continue cooking and tossing until it gets all sticky.  ENJOY!

I can't for the life of me, remember much else that I have made these past few weeks!  I know I know, I've become slack :( I will make more of an effort I promise!  And don't worry, I will still be posting lots of yummy recipes on here, just with a bit of luck, they will be better 'goo' free recipes :)  Obviously everything has to pass the family seal of approval also.  I'm hoping they will get behind me on this. 

Anywhoodle lovelies, have a great week!  Happy cooking!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Domestic Goddess

Domestic Goddess.  That's me alright!  Look what I made today!!

Homemade Lemon Honey (Good old Edmonds recipe) and Homemade Tomato Relish :) I'm so clever :) even if I do say so myself!  It was actually a lot easier than I was expecting it to be.
Here's how you make the relish.

Tomato Relish

120ml Olive Oil
2 Onions
6 Tomatoes
3 sweet peppers - the ones you buy in a jar
1 apple grated
1/2 small can of tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan and add diced onions.  Cook on a low heat until onions are translucent.
Meanwhile, dice tomatoes and slice peppers.
Add tomatoes and peppers to pan and cook until juices start to thicken.  Add grated apple.
Add tomato paste and red wine vinegar.  Season to taste.  Cook until thickened.  If you want you can mash it a little so that it is a bit smoother, but it will still have chunks.  Or you could probably put it in the blender so that it is more like sauce.
Pour into sterilised jars :)

I've been quite busy in the kitchen lately actually.  There have been some very tasty meals and snacks that we have enjoyed.  So many, in fact, that it seems like ages ago that I blogged!  Where do I begin??  I think I'll stick with the savoury for now...

This is something so simple and yet really delicious!  I have made these with both chargrilled capsicums and sweet peppers (both bought in a jar).  My favourite is the capsicums - mainly because I can't handle too much heat, but hubby quite enjoyed the peppers.  Basically, you pull them out of the jar and insert a piece of cheese into the middle, place on a baking tray - preferably with sides in case you want to lean them up against it, and to catch any cheese that melts out.  Pop in the oven about 180C and bake until the cheese is melted and oozy.  Allow to cool a little and then devour!

These pizza swirls are a nice easy lunch time meal (or snack between meals!).  In a frying pan, heat some olive oil and add chopped onion, tomatoes and if you have some leftover chargrilled capsicums, some of those as well :) from memory I also added a bit of garlic.  Heat until well softened.
Spread a little BBQ sauce over some puff pastry sheets, then top with the tomato mix (if you want to add some meat you could do so now) and then finally some grated cheese.  Roll pastry up into a log, and cut into 1cm pieces.  Lie them flat on a baking sheet, leaving room for spreading.  Grate a little parmesan over top.  Bake at 180C until pastry has puffed up, and swirls are browning and bubbling.

Chicken and Leek Risotto

2 Chicken Breasts
Garam Masala
Salt and Pepper
3/4C Arborio Rice
2C Chicken Stock
1 leek
Parmesan Cheese

Put chicken breasts on baking paper, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle garam masala over.  cover with baking paper and tenderise with a rolling pin, making sure it is evenly done.
Put in a preheated pan, medium heat and cook on both sides until cooked through.  Set aside
Using the same pan, add a little oil (unless chicken had a lot of juices) and add leeks to pan.  Cook stirring, until softened a little.  Add rice and stir to coat with the oil and leek. 
Add chicken stock a small amount at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.  You have to stir frequently.  This is what gives the rice that creaminess.
Once all of the stock has been absorbed test to see if rice is tender (you can normally tell by looking at it as well - won't absorb anymore liquid) if needed, add more stock.
Break chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pan.  Stir to combine.  Grate some parmesan over top and stir through just before serving. 

It's a great winter warmer meal, and you can vary it by using sausages (chorizo or other flavoursome ones) that have been fried first and change to beef stock instead of chicken.  You could also add avocado to this (chicken one) dish before serving.
Risotto's are one of those meals that people seem afraid to make because they take a bit of time, but really it's no more than half an hour and it's just stirring, it's really not that hard.

Let's see, I think that covers most of the savoury I wanted to share with you this week.  It must be time for some sweet temptations :)

I've actually been baking a lot this week - presents for people, as well as stocking up our cupboards - it feels as though I've been in the kitchen every spare moment I've had!  I made some chocolate hazelnut cupcakes - basically, chocolate cupcakes that you scoop a wee bit out of when cool, and add a dollop of hazelnut spread in it's place, and top it with choc hazelnut buttercream (make a light and fluffy buttercream and then fold through hazelnut spread).

I also made some strawberries and cream cupcakes which I made using frozen berries (a mix, not just strawberries) instead of fresh.  It worked ok, just perhaps a little more moist than normal.  I eventually topped these with a vanilla buttercream.

Believe it or not, I also made another two batches of cupcakes for other people!  Cupcake crazy this week I tell ya!  My girls enjoyed licking the spoons though :)
The recipe I want to share with you, is one that I don't make often, probably because I always think it's a lot of work, when really it isn't.  It's a recipe I got from watching Giada Delorentis (another of my favourites!)  These cookies are super tasty and perfect for when you need a sweet hit.

Oatmeal, Cranberry and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1C flour (or you could use wholemeal)
3/4tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
125g butter
1/2C sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2tsp vanilla
2C oats
1C dried cranberries
4oz dark choc (I like to use the Select Dark Choc Drops)

Combine dry ingredients
In a separate bowl, blend butter and sugars.  Add egg and vanilla
slowly add dry to wet
Add oats and mix again
Add cranberries and mix again
Add choc and mix quickly
Place tablespoons onto baking sheets, press lightly, leaving room for them to spread
Cook at 180C for 15mins
(should make approx 30 cookies)

I use my mixer for the first part and then when adding oats, I start to mix by hand to make sure that every part is mixed in evenly.  These are so packed full of flavour, and with the cranberries it makes me think of christmas :)
(Yes I said it - the C word!  Get used to it, cos I love Christmas and will no doubt share recipes with you for that too!)

Well I think I've probably gone on enough now.  I'll try not to let so much time lapse between posts next time.  Have a good week!  And happy cooking!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Change is in motion

So far I am doing quite well on my diet changing, even if I do say so myself :)  I'm not changing everything, just making better choices in the products I buy.  Trying to buy more natural and less added extras.  And definitely not buying diet lemonade etc anymore!  I always did because I liked the taste but now that I know they all have Aspartame in them, and can cause a lot of problems, I will be on the lookout for that one (number 951 if you're interested).

Anywho.  What have I made this week?  Ooh I made a yummy Cheesy Garlic Bread!  Homemade bread and everything!  This was served with Potato, Onion and Bacon Soup... Mmmmmmmmmm delicious!  Pear and Custard Ice Cream.  Forgotten Cookies.  Oaty Date Bars.

I shall start with the savoury dishes. 

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Loaf of Wholemeal Bread (homemade preferably :) )
Prenzel Garlic Butter RBO

So I started with a loaf of homemade Wholemeal Bread - just the recipe in my breadmaker book, and once it had cooled a bit I cut thick slices into the bread, not quite the whole way through.
I then brushed some garlic butter oil on each slice ( if you don't have this then you can make your own garlic butter using crushed garlic and melted butter)
Place slices of cheese between each slice.  Brush a little oil on top of the slices too, then wrap in tinfoil.  Bake for around 30mins at 180 C

This next recipe I got from a friend.  She normally makes a big pot of it, but I use less stock so that it is chunky and thick.  It never lasts more than one meal :)

Potato, Onion and Bacon Soup

Potatoes diced
Onion diced
Bacon diced (I use streaky bacon)
Chicken Stock - homemade is best, but otherwise the bought stuff works too

Melt butter in large saucepan, add onions and cook until softened.  Add bacon and cook for a few more minutes.  Add about 2Tbsp flour to thicken before adding stock - Depending on how thick you want soup, you can vary your amount.  I normally use about 3-4 Cups of stock.  Add however many potatoes you want - I normally do about 3 or 4 medium ones.
Let it simmer for around 30mins, add a splash of cream (this is optional) and heat through.
Check out that cheesy bread!

Now for the sweet stuff!  If you make your own ice cream using egg yolks, and don't have any use for those leftover egg whites, here is a yummy and super easy recipe for you!  Normally it makes heaps, but I found that this time, it didn't quite make as many as normal, and I'm not entirely sure why, except that maybe my bowl wasn't completely dry when I whipped them.  Anywho ...

Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites (I used three cause that's what I had) at room temperature too
pinch of salt
1/2C caster sugar
1tsp vanilla
3/4C chopped almonds/pecans
3/4C choc chips (dark is best, and the drops so they are bigger chunks)

Preheat oven to 180 C
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt.
Add sugar gradually until it has stiff peaks and is glossy - now mine wouldn't hold stiff peaks so I added about 2tsp of cornflour to help thicken it, but this still didn't work.  But I pushed on anyways :)
Add vanilla, nuts and chocolate, mix together.
Drop teaspoonfuls on baking tray (if your mix isn't stiff enough, it will stick a little when cooked, but still good)  Put in oven, turn off and leave overnight or for a minimum of 3hours.
Normally these would be puffier
This recipe was shared with me by my sister, and I love her for it.  In fact I had actually forgotten about it, until recently when she had said she had made some.  I couldn't stop thinking about them and had to make them as soon as I had some spare egg whites!  The kids love them too :)

On the subject of eggs, my homemade ice cream was inspired by something I saw on Nigel Slaters cooking show.  I used proper homemade custard, stewed pears and a mashed banana, to make this delicious dessert.  However, I do feel that it tasted better hot than as an ice cream, so do with it what you will :)

Pear and Custard Ice Cream (or hot dessert if not frozen)

3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste
1C cream
1tsp cornflour
2Tbsp raw sugar
two pears, peeled and diced
raw sugar
lemon juice
banana mashed

Firstly, prepare the pear.  Put in a small saucepan with a sprinkle of raw sugar, not too much, maybe a Tbsp or so (as you would when stewing fruit) and squirt some lemon juice in there, again a few Tbsp.  Cover and heat until soft.
In another saucepan, put cream and vanilla in and heat gently until almost simmering.
Whisk egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl.
While whisking, slowly pour cream into egg mix, then immediately pour back into saucepan and return to gentle heat, continue whisking until thick.
Mash the pears a little and add a banana, mash again.  Pour custard over and mix through. 
If making into ice cream then put into your ice cream container and leave it to cool slightly before putting in freezer - stirring after an hour.
Otherwise, just dish up and serve :)

The Oaty Date Bars are just straight from the Edmonds cookbook :) No alterations.  And they are delicious!  The lemon icing definitely makes them!  But I think I will leave it at that for now :)

Happy cooking!!