Sunday, 26 October 2014

Confession time

Ok guys, I have a confession to make.  I'm still eating sugar!  I've tried but my hearts just not into it - I know, I know :(
I am trying to reduce my intake and if I am choosing between two brands, I will take the one with lower sugar, but I'm not cutting it out altogether.  I just like it too much!
I am however still on the organic products where ever possible, and won't eat anything with "diet" or "light" or "lite" in it's title, cause let's face it, that stuff is nasty.

I do have some great recipes to share with y'all though :)  And they're not too bad on the sugar scale either.  I do recommend making your own tomato sauce with the recipe from last blog, I don't buy it anymore, just make my own and the kids haven't even noticed a difference :)

What have I made this week?  Date slice, Jamie Oliver's cauliflower cheese, chicken and couscous salad, that yummy egg slice that I posted on my FB page, and some awesome salmon pastries (forgot to get a pic of these though).

First up, I'll go with the salmon - super simple and tasty.

All you need is puff pastry, cream cheese and salmon slices.
Roll out pastry and cut into squares.  Spread cream cheese in centre (generously) and then top with salmon.  I also topped a tiny bit of grated cheese on top too, but you don't have to do that.
Pop in the oven at 180C until pastry has puffed up.  Voila!

Cauliflower Cheese

Oh...My...God!  Soooooo good!
This is from Jamie Oliver's "Save with Jamie" book.

It does take a bit of time to make, but it's well worth it.  The sauce is so creamy and not too cheesy so you can still taste all the vegetable flavours.

2cloves garlic crushed
50g butter
50g flour
500ml milk
500g fresh or frozen broccoli
75g grated cheese
1kg fresh or frozen cauli
25g flaked almonds
olive oil

Place butter and garlic in saucepan and heat until butter has melted.  Add flour and stir until combined.
Gradually add the milk, whisking as you go.  Once smooth, add the broccoli (cut into florets) and simmer for around 20mins until softened enough to mash.
Using a stick blender, mash it up - you can leave some lumps of broccoli in it too if you want.
Grate in half the cheese, season and mix.

Cut cauli and place in a greased casserole dish.  Pour over the cheese sauce.
In a bowl mix almonds with some breadcrumbs - fresh or dried.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over.  Mix it and then sprinkle over top.

Bake at 180C for 1hour. 

Seriously good.  The crunch of the almonds, the creamy sauce, the garlic.  All works so well together.

Chicken and Cous Cous Salad

My sister gave me the recipe for this Roast Vegetable Cous Cous Salad, and I decided to add in some baked chicken breast as well.  Quite tasty with or without chicken.

You can be your own chef with this one, and use veges that you like.  This time I used red onion, kumara and potato.  You can also use pumpkin or any other roast veges.  I do recommend using the red onion in all versions though.

Cube your choice of vege, toss in a little oil and roast until tender.

Rub oil, salt and pepper into your chicken breast and bake until cooked through.  Slice.

Place 1C cous cous in a bowl, sprinkle some cumin seeds over and pour 1C boiling water over.  Cover with a tea towel.
Fluff cous cous with a fork, add veges and some seedless, red grapes (sliced), and the chicken.  Mix in the sauce.

Sauce: 1/4C oil, 2tsp curry, 2tsp vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), 1/2tsp sugar, 1 clove garlic crushed.

The egg slice recipe is on my page which you can find here.  It was yummy, though I did find it sweet.  It was also good re-heated the next day - hubby had it in a sandwich with Sweet Chilli sauce.

Date Slice

This is one from the good old Edmonds cookbook.  I found the base mix was actually quite soft so instead of rolling it into two parts, I just kind of blobbed it in the tin and spread it with my hands, then on the top, I placed blobs again.  I think it gives it a much better look than just a plain sheet of dough.

1C dates (I used organic)
1/3C sultanas (optional)
1C water
1Tbsp brown sugar
1tsp butter
2tsp cocoa
1/2tsp vanilla

Put all ingredients except vanilla in saucepan and cook gently over low heat until a paste like consistency is formed.  Add vanilla and cool.

125g butter
1/2C sugar
1 egg
1 3/4C flour
1tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Fold in flour and baking powder.  Press half into base of a slice tin.  Spread with date mixture.  Blob remaining mix on top.
Bake at 180C for 30mins. 

So there you go, lots of recipes to keep you going.  I will be getting into the Christmas cooking soon too, so keep an eye out for those!
Hope you have all had a fabulous long weekend, Happy Cooking!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I'm back!

Hello my lovelies!  I'm so sorry it has been an age since I have graced you with my presence but due to health reasons I had to take a wee break :)  I am currently having trouble with my oven so experimenting is not the easiest at the moment, but I will push on through!

So, as my loyal FB followers will have seen, I have been inspired by Nigel Latta's doco about sugar being poison.  You all know what a sweet tooth I have, so this is quite a challenge for me, and I have to admit, I have fallen off the sugar wagon a few times.
Now I'm not cutting it out completely, but trying to lessen how much sugar we eat.  You may be surprised at how much is actually in everything you eat.  As Nigel pointed out, the big companies use sugar to keep their costs down - they reduce how many dearer ingredients they use and replace it with sugar as it is cheap.  I dare you to take a look at the tables on the back of your food labels and see just how much sugar is in everything.  Look at the 100g/ml column so you can compare with other products.
I think a lot of you will be interested to know that the "lite" "diet" options are generally higher in sugar than full fat products.  This is because you lose flavour when you take away the fat, so they replace it with sugar.

I have found quite a handy (free too) App you can download on your phones.  It's called "FoodSwitch" and what you do is scan the barcode on food products and it will tell you what better/healthier options are for you.

What I have found out so far is that protein is something you should eat at every meal and snack too if you can.  You find protein in meats, egg, milk, cheese (things that come from animals).
Also drinking more water and less coffee/fizzy/juice. 
You can find more info on this page here.  It gives examples of how Nigel changed his diet. Also this one here is another good one to read.

I will point out that naturally occurring sugars (like in milk and fruit) are ok because they behave differently to the added refined sugars.  So you when you are calculating  your sugars, you don't need to include these.

For your information, 1tsp of sugar weighs approx. 4g so you want to be looking for that amount or lower in your nutritional information labels. 

So far I have tried some sugar free cookies which were pretty average really.  My problem with them was that they were more like a scone than a biscuit, and I found the texture disappointing.  I like the crunch of a cookie! 
I have also made a sugarfree (though has dried fruit) slice which is actually not too bad, and a tomato sauce using dextrose instead of sugar and a considerable amount less than the bought stuff.  Tastes pretty good though!

I got the sauce recipe from another blogger, though I adjusted it a smidge.  Here's what I did:

375ml tomato puree (I used organic)
4Tbsp dextrose
1/2C water
1C white vinegar
1tsp salt
1/2tsp onion powder
1/4tsp garlic powder

combine all ingredients in a medium pot and heat while stirring.  When it starts to boil, reduce to a simmer for 25mins, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and cool.

The original recipe used 1C dextrose and as this is still a sugar I felt the need to reduce it.  You'll see that sauces are pretty high in sugar, so anyway we can make our own with less is better.

The sugarfree bars, I may try to adapt that recipe a bit more before I share it on here :)

Anywho, I'm sure you weren't expecting quite that kind of a come back!  I hope it has been interesting for you :) I'll try to write more again soon.  Have a great week!  Happy cooking everyone!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Back to Basics

Hello and Good Morning to you all!  This week I am lucky enough to be involved in a wonderful expo organised by a good friend of mine - "Back to Basics".  There will be heaps of stalls there where people can find out about living savvy and sustainably.  You can find out more here.

I will be doing a stall with homemade vegetable soup, pumpkin soup and pumpkin scones.  People will be able to have a taste, take some recipes and also view my cookbook - only have a few left so will be taking orders!

Anyways, if you are in the Ashburton area on Saturday afternoon, I hope you do pop in and have a look.  It's free entry and I'm confident you will go home inspired!  There will be preserving, recycling, natural remedies, power saving, DIY and much more!

I have done a little experimenting this week.  Coconut sugar is something I have been wanting to try for a while and my girlfriend bought some the other day and gave me a bit to try.  This wasn't in granulated form as we expected - though have since found out you can get it that way.  It was more like a dough really.  I have used it in some biscuits and a slice.  Didn't turn out too badly either.

Chocolate swirl biscuits

1/2C coconut sugar
50g butter
1tsp vanilla
1 1/4C flour
1tsp baking powder
1/3C chocolate drops

Heat sugar, butter and vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat until combined.  Add flour and baking powder, mix then when almost combined, add chocolate.  It will start melting so stir quickly.
Roll into balls and flatten.  Bake for 10-15 mins at 180C

*This does get messy with the chocolate melting so you may want to use gloves or spoons.

Apricot and Date Bars

This recipe is from the FB sensation "Feed a family of 6 for under $20" and I just changed a few things :)

1C rolled oats
1C cornflakes
1/4C dried apricots
1/4C dates
1/4C raisins
50g butter
1/4C coconut sugar
1/4C golden syrup
pinch of cinnamon
1tsp vanilla
1/2C dark choc

Preheat oven to 180C and line slice tin.
Put oats, cornflakes, cinnamon and fruit cut into bits into a bowl.
Heat sugar, butter and golden syrup in saucepan.  Allow it to simmer for a few minutes.
Add vanilla.
Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.
Press into tin and bake for 15mins.
Allow it to cool before drizzling with melted chocolate.

Just the two recipes for now, but do keep an eye on my page where I put up different recipes all the time :)  Have a great week and I hope to see you on Saturday!  Happy Cooking!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Forever Hopeful

What an interesting weekend I have had!  My darling daughter turned two on Saturday and we had a family get together for it.  I spent a very long time the night before preparing her cake.  This is what it was meant to look like:

I of course decided that I didn't need to see the pic again and did it from memory.  I didn't really think too much about the shape of the car - I should have rounded it off on the edges.  The wheels didn't look how I'd hoped they would, and so I kinda gave up and just went "That'll do".  It wasn't until then that I decided to have a look at the original picture.  As you can see, mine is not quite to par!  But Kaylee loved it and that's all that matters.

However, on the day, Kaylee thought she would help herself to the cake instead of waiting for me to bring it out.  I caught her in the pantry, with the cake off the shelf, off the plate and on the floor - still up the right way I might add - and she was pulling the lollies off of it!  The cake was then labelled "Floor Cake" and was a running joke for the rest of the day.  Good times.

In her defence - we had done a photo shoot "cake smash" earlier in the week, where she had the whole cake to herself (and her sister after a while) and they ate it sitting on the floor.  Perhaps she was re-living this fun day!

The other awesome thing to happen was that I picked up my Organic order on Friday!  Oh My Gosh!  My cupboards are so full right now, it's fantastic!  And the taste of some of that organic stuff is A-Maze-Ing!  Dried apricots and raisins are so much plumper and have much better flavour than regular run of the mill supermarket brand stuff.  The apricots had an almost purple colour to them and taste like a cross between a date and an apricot.  The raisins are not gritty and are twice the size of supermarket ones.  My kids are loving it!  I've been making everyone try them :)

On that note, I used the apricots to make a Dried Apricot Jam, which tastes almost like a marmalade.  I also made some Green tomato chutney, a sausage cassoulet, and some shortbread biscuits.

The jam is the recipe from the Edmonds cookbook - only I used Organic Demerera Sugar instead of white sugar.  Gives it a caramelly (yes I'm making up a word) flavour.

Dried Apricot Jam
250g dried apricots chopped
2 3/4C water
1/2C lemon juice
440g tin crushed pineapple
3 1/2C demerera sugar (or white if you want to stay traditional)

Soak apricots in water for 12 hours - I didn't soak as long as these are not as dry as other apricots and they were really soft after only a few hours.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20mins.  Add lemon juice and pineapple.  Return to the boil.
Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Boil briskly, stirring occasionally, until setting point is reached.

Now as you know, I've had trouble recently getting my jams to set - this is no different I'm afraid.  I think I get too impatient and worry that I'm going to overcook it.  This time though I think I needed a bigger pot cause I had to keep turning it down a bit to stop it popping jam all over the stove!

My chutney I have not tried yet, so I'll wait before I give that recipe.

The sausage cassoulet is one of Jamie Oliver's recipes.  I made a double batch so that we could have it two nights for dinner.  This is one of those meals that can really stretch and you could do what I did and add more veges to make it go even further.

6 slices of streaky bacon chopped
4 quality sausages
olive oil
2 carrots
1 red onion
1tsp sweet smoked paprika
1x 700ml jar passata
1 tin cannellini beans
1/2 bunch rosemary fresh

Preheat oven to 180C
Using an ovenproof casserole dish, place on top of stove at medium heat with a good lug of olive oil.  Add bacon and sausages and keep stirring until golden. 
Meanwhile, cut up carrots and onion.
Remove sausages and cut into three on an angle, then put back in pot with carrot, onion and paprika.  Cook for another 15 minutes.

Add passata to pan then fill half way with water and swirl around then tip that in pan also.  Drain and rinse cannellini beans and add to pan with salt and pepper.  Cover and put in oven for 20 minutes.

Pick rosemary and toss in olive oil.
Remove lid from cassoulet, sprinkle rosemary over top and put back in oven for another 30 minutes.

Serve on hot ciabatta bread or over rice.

Now as I said, I double it - I had 8 sausages, but still used the same amount of passata.  I also added leftover roast veges from the night before, which included a whole roast onion, so I omitted the red onion.
We are having this again tonight and I will put it in the slow cooker shortly to heat it up again, and will serve with cheese on top and some warm crusty bread.

Last but not least, biscuits.  Now these were for the birthday lunch.  I was sent this suggestion on FB and thought they looked fun.  As some of you may remember, I attempted some biscuits that were meant to be swirled and then rolled in 100's and 1000's last year.  These are similar only they were meant to look like butterflies.

Again, the recipe suggested is a shortbread recipe.  Any of you who have ever made shortbread will know that it is a dry recipe.  So again, I was unable to get this to work and instead ended up with striped "zebra" biscuits instead:

Here is the actual recipe:

powdered sugar, 1 cup;
• baking powder, 1 teaspoon;
• margarine, 3/4 of a cup;
• flour, 2 cups;
• corn starch, 1 cup;
• vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon;
• cocoa, 1 1/2 tablespoons;
• 1 egg;

As said before, the recipe is based on a traditional and simple cake but with a creative twist. First, stir in all, but the cocoa, in a bowl in order to prepare the dough, while the oven is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ingredients are combined in a nice mixture separate into two balls of equal size. Take the cocoa and add it in one of the balls. Put the pair of dough wrapped in some plastic for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Remove from cooling and spread the balls into rectangles, with the cocoa layer underneath the simple one. Slice in half with a knife and roll up each of them. Press them next to each other in order to look something like a fat or bloated butterfly. Take the knife again and cut into pieces. Take each slice and press a bit together with your fingers. It should look like a proper butterfly now. Place onto a tray and bake for some minutes. Yummy and creative!

I found the dough much too dry, and knew from past experience that chilling the dough first only makes it more brittle.  I challenge you to make these and prove me wrong! 

Anywho, that's me for the day!  I hope you have enjoyed this one :)  Oh and the cookbooks had a set back on formatting so fingers crossed we will have those this week!
Have a great week and Happy Cooking!

Don't forget to "like" my page so you don't miss out on any future posts :)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Nailed It!

Hello my gorgeous readers!  How are we feeling on this cold and frosty morning?  I am feeling pretty excited as I have ordered the first batch of cookbooks to be printed!!  I should have them this weekend.  I have only ordered 15 this time, but will definitely order more if the demand is there :)  Can't wait to see how they look!

I have a few new things for you this week, plus a "nailed it!" for you :)  For anyone who hasn't seen these - people post pics of what it should look like (normally a food) and how their version turned out and they are generally quite amusing.  Anyone who is on my FB page (here) will have seen the yummy looking courgette chips -

This is how they should look.

This is how mine turned out. 

"Nailed It!"

Yeah.  I know, they look great huh?!  I think maybe I was meant to use bigger courgettes or not cut as thin as I did, or cook differently altogether!  The ones that didn't burn, were soft and not crisp like a chip.  I did exactly as it said, so not really sure how I got it so wrong!

This weekend I am baking a cake for my daughters birthday, so there may be another "nailed it!" next time - though I'm hoping it will turn out better than this attempt!

Anywho, on to the important stuff!  What else did I make to share with you?  Coffee and Hazelnut slice, peanut butter biscuits, slowcooker pull-apart bread and bacon pancakes.  I know right?  Yum!

Slow cooker pull-apart bread is another FB recipe, you have probably seen it circulating.  I've seen it so many times, and always thought to myself, "that looks easy" but never got around to doing it.  Well this time I did, and even though it also didn't look quite as good as the pic, it tasted great!  And was very filling too.

3 cups of Self Raising flour
100 g butter or marge
1 teaspoon salt
1cup milk
Filling: anything you like, cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil, olives, ham - Use your imagination!

 Add salt to flour Rub butter and flour to resemble bread crumbs Add milk roll into a dough. Roll out put ingredients on top roll and cut. Put in slow cooker for 1.5 hours on high

The top pic is the original, the other two are mine - "Nailed It!"

So I used ham, cheese, cream cheese, pineapple and capsicum.  It was basically like a Hawaiian scone.  I think possibly I was meant to cut my roll a bit smaller to fill the base a bit better and possibly roll the dough out thinner too.  Either way though, it still tasted great.

Bacon Pancakes

This was a pic I saw on one of those "life hacks" posts.  Hubby and son loved it!  I thought it was alright, but I prefer mine separate.  So basically, you make pancake mix (1C flour, 1 egg, 1C milk/water + more to make consistency you like), and you pour that over streaky bacon as it's cooking.  Serve with maple syrup.

I would cook one side of bacon first, then turn it over and pour batter over - you have to do it slowly to try and get it all the way around the bacon.  The first ones I made, didn't look quite as good as these ones!  This was my last batch. 

Coffee and Hazelnut Slice

This is from Foodtown magazine and one that I have been wanting to make for so long!  Finally decided to get the ingredients in the weekend and made it.  Super tasty and super sweet, so you only need small slices.

1tin condensed milk
250g butter
2tsp coffee in 2Tbsp hot water
2 packets of super wine biscuits
70g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2C desiccated coconut

Line a slice tin with baking paper.
Heat condensed milk and butter in saucepan, stirring until butter has melted.  Add coffee and water and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine crushed biscuits, hazelnuts and coconut.  Make a well in centre.
Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix well.  Tip into slice tin and press down firmly.
Refrigerate for 20mins.
Ice - 50g butter, 1tsp coffee in 1Tbsp hot water, 1C icing sugar - mix until combined.  Spread over slice and refrigerate until set.

Peanut Butter Biscuits

125g butter
1/2C sugar
1/3C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2C peanut butter
1 1/2C flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2C dark choc drops

Preheat oven to 180C
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Mix in the peanut butter.
Sift flour and baking soda, mix together.
Add chocolate and fold to combine.
Roll tablespoons of the mix into balls and flatten with a fork.  Leave room for them to spread a little.
Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden.  Leave them to cool before turning onto a wire rack.

I encourage you to experiment with those courgette chips and if you can get them better than me, post them on my page!  By the way, the recipe was: slice them thin, toss in 1Tbsp Olive Oil, season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of paprika, then bake at 450F (approx. 220C) for 25-30 mins.

Hopefully the rest of those recipes appeal to you :) If you are interested in a cookbook them please PM me on my FB page.   They will be $30 each.

Have a fantastic week guys!  Happy Cooking!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

Well it seems the publishers don't want my work (sigh) I have had no contact from them since submission, so now I am looking at prices for me to print myself so all of you wonderful people who have been asking for my book will be able to get one.  At this stage it is looking quite pricey, but I've only just begun looking (holding on to hope that they will contact me!) so it's early days yet.
I will post updates on my Facebook page (here) so "like" my page to keep informed.

Those of you who have joined my page already, thanks heaps for your support!  Remember you are more than welcome to post recipe suggestions on there or ask me any questions.

So, you will have seen the Orange Chicken Stir Fry which was on my page, well I made that one last week.  Not too bad, though not as good as Teriyaki or Satay in my opinion, but nice for a change.  I also made Loaded Vegetables, and a yummy Weetbix slice. 

First up, Orange Chicken Stir Fry

 The sauce

1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
2 large garlic cloves...

1 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. minced ginger
a dash of honey

The Stir Fry

1 lb. chicken cut into strips
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 cups chopped fresh mushrooms, celery, carrots, snap peas, and broccoli.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put it all together

Place all sauce ingredients in a blender. Pour into a pan and heat through for 5 minutes, then put it in a separate bowl. Add salt and pepper to chicken and then cover lightly with cornstarch. Boil (or steam) the broccoli for about 5 minutes. Place on a paper towel to drain. Add olive oil to a pan and sauté chicken for approximately 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Add all of the vegetables to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add sauce bit by bit and cook until sauce has cooked down. You can serve this on its own or over rice.
I didn't have Oyster Sauce, so used Fish Sauce, didn't smell that appealing, but didn't affect the taste.  I also didn't use mushrooms or celery - not a fan of these two flavours.  I used broccoli, carrots, Chinese cabbage, and egg noodles in it rather than serving over rice.
I found that cooking the chicken this way made it really tender and juicy.  Once I had cooked the chicken, I added the onion for a few minutes before adding the rest of the veges, as I prefer my onions cooked a little longer.  All in all, pretty good.
Loaded Vegetables.
You will have seen my various trials of "loaded" foods, this is a variation on the cauliflower one.  I think it is better with the other veges added in.
1 head of cauli - a small one is fine
1/2 head of broccoli
1 carrot
Streaky bacon
1/2 tub of sour cream
2 heaped Tbsp Mayo
2C grated cheese
Crisp bacon in frying pan and drain on paper towels. (freeze that fat to use at a later date - great for cooking roast spuds in or making a "hash")
Chop veges into bite size chunks and boil for 2-3 minutes to soften.  Drain and cool slightly.
In a large bowl combine sour cream, mayo and 1C cheese.  Add veges and 1/2 the bacon (pulled into small pieces).  Mix around and then tip into a greased casserole dish.
Sprinkle remaining bacon and cheese on top and bake at 200C until golden and bubbling.
This was such a hit that even my son got excited when I said there were still veges left if anyone wanted more :)
And last but by no means least, Weetbix Deluxe Slice.  This recipe is another from my Mum's recipe book.  It's one of those recipes that you forget how good it is until you make it again.  Now it's been so long since I've made it that I can't actually remember if the caramel is supposed to sit on top or seep in.  This time it seeped in and it is awesome!  It may be because I forgot what time I put it in the oven so just decided that it had probably been long enough, and the centre was still a little on the softer side so the caramel seeped through, but you know what?  I'd do it that way again!
Here's the recipe...
3 Weetbix crushed
1C flour
1C coconut
3/4C sugar
1tsp baking powder
125g melted butter
1/2 can condensed milk
1/2 can condensed milk
1 1/2Tbsp golden syrup
1Tbsp butter
Combine all ingredients - adding butter and condensed milk last.  Press into greased and lined slice tin.  Bake for 15 mins at 180C.  It should be golden around the edges.
Stir topping ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat until combined.  Pour over base and return to oven for another 3mins.
While still warm top with chocolate icing.
*I actually dotted chocolate buttons on top when it came out of the oven and then when the had melted a little I swirled them around a bit with a skewer.

Hopefully that will keep you going until next time.  There are a few great sounding recipes on my page that I will endeavour to try soon.  If you have anything you want me to blog about in particular then please post on my page and I will do my best to get to everything.
Have a great week!  Happy Cooking everyone :)

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Hi-de-ho my lovelies!  I hope you have all enjoyed your long weekends of late.  We chose to stay at home this time, and caught up with good friends and good food.  And before you ask, yes, I did use them as my guinea pigs for some things :)

First up though, I would like to say that I have now created a Facebook page (here) specifically for Calamity Jayne, where you can keep up to date with my blogs, post suggestions for me to make, or even ask me questions.  You're welcome :)

Now, as the title suggests, I have made a few vege dishes this last week.  Two of which, I got from Facebook, and one from a magazine.  I also made a chicken fried rice and noodle dish which was A-Maze-ing!  So I'll start with that one.

I know it's normally fried rice or fried noodles, but I couldn't decide what I wanted so decided to combine the two and I have to say, it was a great choice.  For those of you who have never tried to make one of these meals, you really have to give it a go, it's so easy and you can adjust the taste to suit you.  I think a lot of the time it tastes better than the takeaway places (and probably better for you too).

Chicken Fried Rice and Noodles

1 chicken breast, diced
1-2 squares of egg noodles
1 C cooked rice
Carrots chopped finely (matchsticks)
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic crushed
1 tsp ginger crushed
2 tsp Soy Sauce

Slice chicken and put in a bowl with soy sauce, ginger and a splash of oil - I use Olive Oil.  rub it in and then leave it to marinate for about 15 mins.
Heat a little oil in a wok and add chicken.  Cook for 3 - 5 mins until cooked, then remove and set aside.
Crack eggs directly into pan and stir with wooden spoon - you want to cut it and turn it, a bit more like an omelette.  When cooked, remove and set aside.
You may need to add a splash more of oil to the pan.  Add onions - you can use spring onion or regular brown onions, finely sliced.  Add carrot too and cook for a few minutes.  Add peas and garlic.  You can also add cabbage, beans, corn - whatever veges you like.
Add cooked rice and noodles, with another splash of oil and soy sauce.  Toss and heat through.
Add chicken and chopped egg to the pan and continue to heat through.  Add more sauce if needed.

Obviously this recipe can be made with just the rice or noodles if you don't want both.  You will need to adjust the amount to suit.  This also works as a meatless meal too or alternately, you could substitute chicken for pork.  So many variations you can use.

The next meal I have for you is a Zucchini, Corn and Feta Tart.  I found this recipe in the 'That's Life' magazine.  I have to say, feta and zucchini  is such a good combo!  I had a little bit of each leftover before I put it in the oven and tried them together and Oh My God!  Delicious!
(for those of you who don't know, zucchini and courgette are the same thing - I have been asked this before)

Zucchini, Corn and Feta Tart

2 sheets pastry (recipe said shortcrust but I used flaky)
2 small or 1 large zucchini
1/2 pack of feta
125g corn kernels
4 eggs
1/3 C cream
1/3 C grated parmesan
1 Tbsp mint

Lay pastry sheets on top of each other and roll to enlarge to approx. 30cm.  Line a quiche dish with this and trim to fit.  Prick base and line with baking paper and rice/beans - place in oven 200C to blind bake.  Approx 15minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Reduce heat to 180C
Meanwhile, heat 1Tbsp oil in pan over medium heat and cook thinly sliced zucchini for a few minutes until just tender.
Arrange half zucchini over base, sprinkle with half the feta and all the corn.  Whish eggs, cream, parmesan and finely chopped mint together.  Season with salt and pepper. Pour over base.  Arrange remaining zucchini and feta around the top of the quiche.  Season with pepper.
Bake for 35 minutes or until set.

The last two recipes are kind of similar principles but different ingredients.  Once again in my haste to serve, I forgot to take a picture of one of the dishes, so I'll post the pic that went with the recipe so you can see the deliciousness.
One is Loaded Cauliflower (similar to that of loaded potatoes) and the other is Broccoli and Corn Casserole.
To be fair, I think the cauliflower recipe is better and would work with both cauli and broccoli.  I did however adjust a few things in the broccoli recipe so it could very well be my fault. Anywho, here are the recipes:

Loaded Cauliflower

1 large head of Cauliflower cut into bite size pieces (approx 6 cups)...

6-8 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (Cooked in oven at 400° for 20 mins)
6 Tbs chopped Chives
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
2 cups Colby Jack Cheese ( may use cheddar)
8 oz container sliced mushrooms
Preheat oven to 425°
In a large pot boil water and cook Cauliflower for 8 - 10 minutes, drain and let cool.
In a large bowl combine sour cream, mayo, 1/2 of crumbled bacon, 3tbs chives, 1 cups of cheese,mushrooms and cauliflower and mix well... place in baking dish and cover with remaining 1 cup of cheese and rest of bacon crumbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. top with remaining 3 Tbs chives and serve.

Ok, so I omitted the mushrooms for this recipe and probably could have used a larger head of cauli.  I also used red onion (finely diced) in place of chives, and Edam cheese in place of Colby.  This was soooooo good!  Perhaps a little too creamy - but I eyeballed the ingredients rather than measuring, and again, with a larger head of cauli it might have been spread out a bit better.  I do think that if you had cauli and broccoli mixed together this would be fantastic.

This is the other one:

Corn & Broccoli Casserole with Bacon

2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cornmeal...

3 Tablespoons granulated Swerve or Stevia
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup almond milk
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 bag of frozen broccoli
1/2 package bacon, diced and cooked to crisp
1 cup grated cheese - whatever kind you like

Combine flour, cornmeal, sweetener, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking dish (I used a 13" x 9").

Melt the butter over low heat; dice up and cook bacon to crispy, drain grease and then allow to cool on paper towel. Lightly steam the broccoli, drain and then dump into the baking dish - spread it evenly out.

Open the cans of corn and pour into a medium sized bowl. Add into this the melted butter, sour cream and milk. Mix well. Now add in the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps. Pour over the broccoli.

Bake for about 55 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the bacon & cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is all bubbly. ~ Enjoy!!

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Now if you note the part at the bottom (this was also at the bottom of the first one), I really don't see how this could possibly be part of a weight loss support group!  The ingredients in here are not exactly the best for you - which is partly why I changed a few things. 

1: I thought that 1/2C of butter to cook your bacon in and then add to the dish was a bit of overkill - Bacon certainly doesn't need butter to cook in, but as I thought it might be important for the rest of it, I kept it in, but reduced it to 25g

2: I used fresh broccoli not frozen, and only used one head, though again, probably could've use two.

3: I only used half a can of each corn and 1/2C sour cream, again, I thought it was a bit much. 

4: I used plain flour and milk ( I didn't have almond flour or milk)

5: I used regular sugar and sour cream as opposed to light or artificial sweeteners - that stuff is nasty!  Anything "Light", "lite", "diet" is not good for you!

So after all those changes, what I ended up with, was something that looked a bit like cornbread with broccoli in it, and ,melted cheese and bacon on top.  It did taste good though, just not a casserole texture, a bit more doughy.
In my opinion, it could have been made without the flour and cornmeal, with just the creamed corn, corn and sour cream to make up the saucy part, topped with cheese and bacon.  Or if you combined some of each recipe and did Broccoli, corn, cauli, red onion with sour cream, mayo, cheese and bacon, I think that could be a winner!

Anyways, hopefully that has given you some ideas of vege dishes to try with your family.  Might be a good way of sneaking veges into your children! 

I'm going to leave you with a couple of pics of some sweet stuff that I made this week also :) I had to share the pie as it's by far the coolest looking pie I have ever made!  If you want to make one similar you will need a lattice cutter which you can get from Kitchen Kapers.

Enjoy the last day of your long weekend.  Happy cooking!