BBQ Chicken Skewers

I have been on holidays and in WA with family for the last little while. We had many meals out and about and a few in and one of the nights we did a BBQ and I made these delicious chicken skewers. It was quite funny to have to adapt my normal cooking where I have every spice and herb at my fingers tips as well as tins, pans and utensils to a different style of cooking, where there was less available to create with and a more relaxed style to the meals we ate. We stayed at a beautiful air b and b in a place called Marmion, it was walking distance to the beach โ€“ an amazing trip. Not to mention the highlight with the birth of my 1st nephew โ€“ the gorgeous little Ozzy Cullen. Welcome to the world Ozzy, we are all so happy you have arrived and will get to be part of your lives and watch you grow and learn in this big wide world of ours.

This meal was one I did the night Ozzy was born, where most of the family waited at the house for news before heading to the hospital to meet our newest member.

The trip itself was amazing, we really got out and about and saw the sites. Rottnest Island was a definite favorite and it was very cool to see the cute little Quokkas – kind of scary to see them eating the left over food on the island though * ๐Ÿ˜ฆ * . I might do a separate post about the holiday and talk about all the places we went to in a non food related manner (to be continued!)

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 6

Chilli chicken marinade ingredients

1 ยฝ tablespoons minced garlic
3 fresh red chillis
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of one lime
salt (to season)
pepper (to season)

Chilli chicken marinade method

  1. Add garlic to medium sized mixing bowl
  2. Chop chillis and transfer to the bowl
  3. Add brown sugar
  4. Add white vinegar
  5. Add red wine vinegar
  6. Add olive oil
  7. Add lime juice
  8. Stir, leave to sit for 5 minute

Lemon pepper marinade ingredients

1 ยฝ tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt (to season)
pepper (to season)

Lemon pepper marinade method

  1. Add garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to mixing bowl
  2. Season well with salt and pepper
  3. Stir, leave to sit for 5 minutes

Avocado Salad ingredients

1 x prepacked lettuce leaf salad
1 x large avocado
1 x ยฝ lemon to drizzle as dressing

BBQ Chicken skewers method

  1. Count out enough skewers and put them in a dish of water for 30 minutes so they donโ€™t burn when you cook them
  2. Set up 2 dishes for your marinade
  3. Make each marinade in the dish and cut the chicken into slices to ensure all parts of the meat are nicely coated.
  4. For the chilli marinade have a red onion and slice it into portions to add between chicken pieces
  5. For the lemon pepper marinade use a red capsicum
  6. Cut the chicken into cubes and thread onto the skewers alternating with the vegetables as you go
  7. BBQ the skewers on a hot bbq plate turning as you go for 20 โ€“ 30 minutes until the juices run clear.

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I found this meal to be easy and delicious โ€“ perfect for our occasion. A BBQ is such a good way to celebrate with family and friends and there is not as much preparation work as an oven baked meal. Not to mention the wonderful smells from the moment the skewers hit the hot plate!

 

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Rocket Pesto

This rocket pesto is to die for! I love making homemade pizzas and after earlier this year trying Kale Pesto for the 1st time, I realised I wanted to try the same with rocket. I have made Basil Pesto a number of times however, it is nice to make something new and different and this hits the nail on the head. The best thing is that you can use it for a base for homemade pizza instead of barbecue or tomato sauce, both of which have a lot of sugar. Another good thing about making pesto, is that it is super easy to divide up into small sandwich bags, label and freeze so mid week when you want the depth of flavour but you donโ€™t have time for it, you can take it out and either defrost it during the day or nuke it in the microwave so that you can get use it for your meal without the prep time and clean up time needed to prepare and make it.

I have never eaten rocket pesto when out and about, am open to it, but have not yet ordered anything that it has been served with. I think it has many uses โ€“ on breakfast plates, for pasta, for a topping on eggs, for a bit of a dip and many more ideas.

This recipe is simple and straightforward. You need a good food processor and away you go. I have tried many different store bought pesto’s over my time and even though there is one at Aldi which I think beats all other store bought ones, I always prefer to make my own as I often find the store ones to be too salty.

I have never been an awesome grower of fruits and veggies, albeit I have tried, but a lot of the ones I have tried to grow have died. ย Either they were too hot or too well watered or something, I never knew quite what I did to kill them. However, rocket is a vegetable that has so many versatile uses that with some of that and some baby spinach leaves in your garden, I think you are home and hosed. If you are buying it, I recommend the separate bags of rocket leaves as opposed to the combined ones. In my experience the rocket leaves tend to go wet and withered much faster than the spinach leaves to the point that you have to throw away a lot of good spinach due to aged rocket. If you buy them separately and keep them in your fridge in separate containers you will have your green smoothies as well as dinner greens sorted.

Prep and cook time: 15 minutes

Rocket Pesto Ingredients

120g rocket
5 large garlic bulbs, peeled
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt, to season
pepper, to season

Rocket Pesto Method

  1. Fill processor with fresh rocket
  2. Peel and cut ends of garlic bulbs and add to processor
  3. Add cheese and pine nuts, turn on to a low speed
  4. Pour the olive oil in through the top opening of the blender
  5. Take off the lid, scrap down the sides with a spatula and then pour in lemon juice, stir further till all combined.
  6. Taste and add a little more lemon juice if needed

Enjoy!! xx

 

 

 

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Choc Banana Smoothie Bowl

Weekend breakfasts!!! They are the best! I never mind eating more food on the weekends as I like to indulge a little. It is so easy to make a smoothie bowl and top it with awesome ingredients. The hardest bit I find would be remembering to chop the banana up the night before and put it in the freezer. The smoothie definitely doesn’t taste as good if the banana is not frozen first. Having experimented over the last year with different types of smoothies, I would say this combination is one of the best. I never used to like banana in a smoothie as I felt it made me too full but then I began using almond milk and now I absolutely love having a banana smoothie for lunch some days also.

This is as simple as adding the ingredients, blending it, pouring it into the bowl and topping it however you wish.

Choc Banana Smoothieย Bowl ingredients

1 x cup frozenย banana
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 cup almond milk, chilled
1 tablespoon honey
cinnamon powder, pinch
nutmeg powder, pinch
coconut chips
cacao nibs
passionfruit
strawberries

Choc Banana Smoothie Bowl method

  1. Add frozen banana, cacao powder, almond milk, honey and spices to blender cup
  2. Blend ingredients till smooth and consistent
  3. Pour into serving bowl
  4. Top with coconut chips, cacao nibs, strawberries and passion fruit

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Pumpkin, pine nut and rocket pizza

If homemade pizza is not the best thing ever to cook, I honestly donโ€™t know what is. It is so easy to do and there are so many great toppings to play around with, not to mention that your own style ones wonโ€™t leave you feeling too full and needing to wash it down with a coke the way that some store bought ones do.

One of my friends (thank-you Kayla) brought me this awesome piece of jap pumpkin earlier in the week and I knew I wanted to season it and roast it, then I was thinking, hmmm what can I do with it, then of course homemade pumpkin pizza came to mind. We were talking about pizzas at work today and I would not be surprised if the 3 of us involved in the conversation ended up with our own varieties coming fresh out of the oven tonight. They are just so easy to make and tasty at the same time.

I pretty much always use whole wheat pita bread now. I find it goes crispy really well, and holds the ingredients on top quite well also. I have used tortillas in the past as well for the base, but sometimes I think it varies on results depending on which brand you get. With whole wheat pita, I find the results are pretty consistent and you would have to not be paying any attention to burn it whereas the tortilla base cooks a lot faster and you do run that risk.

Last night I seasoned and roasted my pumpkin and then tonight I char grilled it on the stove top for a little bit. After that it was a simple matter of putting a few ingredients on the top and pacing out the cooking so that each layer had started to cook before the next layer went on top.

Hump day = homemade pizza day, I say! Weekend looks like it is fast approaching, woo hoo. Would have loved a glass or 2 of a nice shiraz with this tonight, but I havenโ€™t been drinking other than the end of the week for a while now, so I will have to save that thought and enjoy that coming my way soon.

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 2

Pumpkin, pine nut and rocket pizza ingredients

1 x whole wheat pita bread
2 tablespoons rocket pesto (homemade)
6 slices chorizo
sprinkle of grated cheese
ยฝ cup pumpkin, roasted, then chargrilled
1 longย redย sweet chilli pepper
1 green jalapeno
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
handful fresh rocket

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Pumpkin, pine nut and rocket pizza method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cover pita with rocket pesto, grated cheese and top with chorizo slices, oven bake 2 minutes
  3. Top with pine nuts, bell pepper and jalapeno, bake another 2 minutes
  4. Take out of oven, pour balsamic vinegar over pumpkin pieces and add handful of rocket

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Food photography background board tutorial

So, I have been wanting to find more backgrounds to use for my food pics but I wasnโ€™t really sure where to start or what I wanted to achieve. But I took to Pinterest and was able to find some tutorials on making food photography backgrounds so I took out my paints and decided to create one for myself. I always envy people on Instagram who have amazing pictures of not only their food but their kitchen set up and sometimes I have to rack my brain to figure out how they achieve such cool backgrounds. I admit that most of the time, I cannot figure this out, sigh!

So instead of running out and buying a new kitchen or marble bench top every time I wanted to take pictures of something, I thought I would experiment with making my own and see what I could come up with.

Last weekend, I went to this awesome shop that I used to go to frequently when I was studying Architecture. At the time it was located in West End, but before leaving the other day, I googled it and am glad I did as I found out they have moved to Woolloongabba. So off I headed with the dimensions and idea of what I was after ever optimistic that I would find itโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆI was blown away that I actually did find what I was looking for and at bargain prices!! I am not a total tight arse, but I have, in the past, spent loads of money on hobbies, ie painting, jewellery making, timber making only to find it was something that I wasnโ€™t really into long term and I felt when I go through phases like that it is sort of a waste of money. I never however, really feel that way with cooking as I see it as a necessary part of life but as I love it so much, I am able to turn it into a hobby that fits in with my life but doesnโ€™t cost me an abominable fortune.

So, what I was looking for was some kind of timber or bench top, different to what I already had that would fit my kitchen bench and store easily out of the way.

I picked up 3 awesome boards โ€“ the light cream one in the pics below was a measly $5 can you believe it!!!! If I get over this hobby in a little bit (which I am pretty confident I wonโ€™t but you never know, I wonโ€™t mind having spent that and then donating it to charity for someone to do what they wish with it). I wouldnโ€™t feel this way if I spent a ton of money as I am more practical when it comes to money than that and enjoy being thrifty where I can be (within reason).

Board Zero

So, now, I would like to show you what I did with my new โ€˜kitchen bench topโ€™ and how I turned it into a background for my food blog. Dun, dun, dun, dar, que the music!ย 

Fromย Pinterest, the best advice I could find came from this blog,ย http://www.confessionsofafoodie.me/2015/07/how-to-paint-photo-backgrounds.htmlย I did look at a number of ideas on there, but I found that Aniโ€™s was the closest to the look I wanted to create and I loved how the blog post showed you step by step pictures along the way of how she created her boards โ€“ thanks Ani!!

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ย Methodย 

  1. I taped the edges of my kitchen board with masking tape as I wanted to be able to use both sides of the board and I didn’t want too much mess going down the edges to be seen when I use the lighter side.
  2. I started with a layer of gesso, I used to use this all the time to prime a canvas even if it was coated with gesso just to get a feel for the material and size and the frame.
  3. After the gesso had dried I did a layer of black paint, using gouche. It is what I already had in my painting kit, so I figured I would try that. (Otherwise I would recommend acrylic paint).

Board 3.jpg

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5. After waiting for the paint to dry, which took approximately 1 hr, I then did a layer using modelling compound.
6. For this I used a kitchen knife to spread it around and then I used some rubber tipped painting tools to create various textures.

Board 5Board 6

7. After this was dry, I then did the final layer of paint, mixing black and white as I wanted the finished colour to be grey not black and have a bit of different shades through it to create a nice non solid colour effect.

Board 7

8. The final step in the process which I did as Ani had advised she did this for hers, was to cover the board with a matte varnish. I did mine as per the bottle instructions because I noted her advice that varnishing it would be a good way to seal all the paint so that it doesn’t go all over the actual bench when I am using the other side (insert shocked smiley emoticon with hands on side of face, when realising bench was covered in black/grey paint, oh nooooooooooooooooooooooo! which did not occur luckily as the varnish did the trick).

9. Not only was this a super fun way to spend sometime it allowed me to be creative in a hands on way that I don’t get to do as often as I would like these days. I encourage anyone who is into their food photography to give this a red hot go, better than purchasing textures off the internetย which anyone can use and the results are original, one of a kind!

Board feature picture

This is the final product – me using the board I made in one of my instagram pictures with a delicious homemade pizza I had some of for dinner. Wola!! I am very happy with the results.

Board in photos

Posted in DIY, Down time, Tutorial, Weekend | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

San Choy Bow

I love this dish! It is so simple and easy and tastes great as well as not leaving you feeling too full or bloated after eating. Rolling the leaf into your hand and chowing down on the meal is so enjoyable as you know that the balance between protein/veggies is ok and the sauce gives the mince a lovely rich flavour.

Prep and cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 2

San Choy Bow Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame oil
500 grams pork mince
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 fresh red chillis, chopped finely
1 cup peas, frozen
1 large carrot, grated
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60ml) hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 lettuce leaves, cup shape

San Choy Bow Method

  1. Put a splash of sesame oil in the frypan and turn on the heat to medium-high
  2. Add the mince and stir fry for 5 minutes, break up any chunks using a flat utensil
  3. Add the peas, put the lid on and leave to 2-3 minutes till defrosted
  4. Add the chopped chilli, stir to mix in
  5. Add the carrot, stir to combine
  6. Add the sesame seeds
  7. Add the hoisin and soy sauces and stir to combine
  8. To serve, scoop mix into lettuce leaves

Notes:

Serve with Pork Crackle Chips

San choy Bow to Serve

Enjoy!! xx

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Blueberry Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl was the perfect way to start the weekend. Quick and easy to prepare with delicious results!

Blueberry Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl ingredients

1 frozen banana
1ย cup frozen mango pieces
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup Almond milk
1/4 cup coconut chips
2 fresh strawberries
1/4 cup frozen thawed blueberries

Smoothie bowl 3


ย  Blueberry Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl method

  1. Add banana, blueberries and mango to blender cup
  2. Pour in Almond milk
  3. Blend till smooth
  4. Pour into serving bowl and smooth out the top
  5. Top with coconut chips, strawberries and blueberries

    Smoothie bowl ready

Ready to eat – yum

Enjoy! xx

 

 

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Baked Lemon Lime Tart

This tart recipe is a winner! It is absolutely delicious and you can taste both the lemon and the lime juice when you eat it. The 1st time I made it, I did it in a long rectangular tart dish and as I had a few cracks in the pastry when I poured the liquid in for the filing, it ran out the cracks and the entire bench was covered in a sticky yellow goo. It was not pleasant, but I didn’t quit. At that time, I managed to salvage enough from the remaining mixture and the result was pretty good, however, I felt a strong sense of wanting to improve on what I had done for next time. I took to you tube and watched how other people made their lemon tarts and the best tips that I found were to keep the pastry shell in the oven on a flat baking tray and pour the liquid into the tart base that way. It made sense but I never would have thought to do that had I not learnt this tip from someone else.

The pastry recipe for this comes fromย a Woolworths Fresh Magazine for Mini Lemon Curd tarts (double to cover the tart base and the filling recipe comes from a cookbook my friends gave me at one stage for my birthday (Thanks Emily and Tim), – Best of Bill – The Ultimate Collection of Bill Granger’s Recipes.

I find when I am eating a slice, the combination of the lemonย  and lime juices face off against each other like in a boxing ring and you get a โ€˜powโ€™ โ€˜powโ€™ from each side!

Tart Pastry Ingredients

2 2/3 cups plain flour
2/3 cup sifted icing sugar
280g butter, diced
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Image one: Dough about ready to chill in the fridge

Lemon Lime Tart filling Ingredients

4 eggs
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup lime juice


Image two : Filling mix ready to pour

Pastry Method

  1. Sift flour, icing sugar and put into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter and stir through.
  3. Whisk one egg and add it to the mixing bowl
  4. Add the vanilla and keep mixing
  5. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl into your food processor with a dough blade (plastic)
  6. When the ingredients are mixed together well and there is no big chunks of butter, lay a piece of glad wrap on the bench.
  7. Take the bowl and transfer the mixture onto the gladwrap
  8. Move the sides of the wrap up and around the pastry, you will notice that it sticks together well and you can role into into a solid shape.
  9. Put the pastry in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  10. After 20 minutes, take the pastry out and role into into a flat sheet, approximately 4mm high. I like to use glad wrap on both the top and bottom of the pastry and use a rolling pin to flatten the mix.
  11. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.
  12. Grease a 9 inch round loose insert tart tin with butter
  13. Once the pastry is rolled out, take the top layer of gladwrap off
  14. Slide the tin closer to the pastry and in a swift movement flip the pastry over to cover the tin
  15. Pull excess pastry away from tin edges
  16. Prick with a fork
  17. Refrigerate for 10 minutes
  18. Take tin out of the fridge and place on a flat baking tray in the oven
  19. Cook for 20 minutes until the pastry is a light golden colour
  20. Take out of the oven and set on a wire rack to cool

     


Image three: Cooked shell cooling down

Filling method

  1. Crack the eggs into a medium size glass bowl
  2. Add the caster sugar
  3. Whisk to combine
  4. Pour in the cream and stir through with a spoon
  5. Add the lemon and lime juice and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Liquid into tart shell method

  1. The best way to fill you tart with the liquid is to have a flat baking tray in the oven and take the liquid to the oven in the bowl
  2. Pull the oven rack out towards you about 1/3 of the way
  3. Pour the liquid mix into the tart shell and then put the bowl down on the bench
  4. Use both hands to push the rack back into place being careful to not have the liquid splash out over the edges
  5. Bake the tart with 30 minutes until the filling is just set
  6. Transfer to a wire rack
  7. When cool cover with icing sugar.
  8. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and fresh strawberries

    ย 
    Image four: Tart cooking

    The things that I have found could go wrong with this recipe and to watch out for are:

    1. Cooking the pastry for too long and burning it
    2. Having small cracks in the pastry so the liquid seeps through when you pour it into the tin
    3. Overfilling the pastry shell and having excess liquid spill down the outside of the tin

Enjoy!! xx

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Raspberry Smoothie Bowl

I was feeling a bit girly this morning and I wanted to make something pretty and pink! My Raspberry Smoothie bowl did the trick.

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl ingredients

  1. 1 cup low fat greek yoghurt
  2. 1 cup frozen raspberries
  3. 1 frozen banana
  4. 100ml almond milk
  5. 1/4 red apple
  6. handful fresh blueberries
  7. 3 pinches coconut chips
  8. 1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl

  1. ย Add 1 cupย of low fat greekย yoghurt to yourย large blender cup
  2. Addย raspberries, banana and almond milk
  3. Blend till you have a smooth but thick consistency
  4. Pour into serving bowl
  5. Add coconut chips, apple, blueberries and cacao nibs

Image one: Breakfast here I come!

Enjoy xx

 

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Mango Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

My nutribullet is no doubt my favourite kitchen appliance. I used to sit and watch the ad on the tv a few years ago when I used to be awake late at night (long gone are those days!) and think that I wanted to feel like the people in the ad. Playing tennis and jumping around and looking like they hade limitless energy, whoop!

As it was about 3 years ago, the only place to purchase a nutribullet was on the tv show and I had to wait (extremely patiently) for it to be delivered. I was so excited about my purchase that I drove home to the post office to collect it one lunch break.

Admittedly I have been using it pretty much every day since. Back then when I thought the blade was going to need repair I would stress as you were not able to buy a replacement in the shops so I was anxiously hoping that my blades would hold up before I could order another one from ebay so that I would never go a day without being able to make a liquid breakfast if I wanted to.

I have used the bullet for heaps of different things, many smoothies, many smoothie bowls, babaganoush, turning nuts into power and most recently to crush the spices to make chai lattes. If you have considered buying one of these products, but are not too sure, I can honestly say that you won’t regret it. Go and buy one today,ย you are missing out not having one. Not to mention that these days you can buy them in Coles, Target and Big W – it is so convenient and cheaper than back when I got my 1st one.

My favourite thing to do with it nowadays is to make a delicious smoothie bowl for breakfast on the weekends when I have a little bit of time to be creative as I am not rushing out the door to work.

This is one of my easiest go to recipes:

 

Mango Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

1 Add 1 cup of frozen mango pieces to your large mixing cup (Aldi’s are the bomb!)
2. Add 1 frozen banana
3. Top with coconut water until you get to the ‘max’ line
4. Blend until all the chunky bits of fruit are pulverized into a thick liquid (take off and shake before re-blending if you find that the mixture is too thick, or add a splash more water).
5. Pour contents of jug into serving bowl and use a teaspoon to flatten out the surface
6. Add fresh blueberries, cacao nibs, chia seeds, shredded coconut and sliced fresh banana
7. Hop, skip and jump around the whole rest of your day as you have put the good stuff in so you have the energy you need to face the world!!

Enjoy xx

Image one: Ready to devour!

 

 

 

 

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White Chocolate and Blueberry Tart

Since I made my Chocolate and Raspberry Tart last weekend, I have been thinking about whether I could make a few modifications to the recipe to produce a white chocolate version. Iโ€™m not entirely sure at this point whether it is going to be super successful as โ€˜chocolateโ€™ is much more highly rated by most of us than the white version of the same, but I really wanted to try it, if nothing else to taste the difference and see what turned it turned out like. Visually it looks nice and something different from a traditional chocolate tart, and itโ€™s nice to have a few dessert options up your sleeve as your go to when family and friends are coming around or you are going their place.

So here is my recipe for my White Chocolate and Blueberry Tart, you will need a few hours set aside from start to finish as it takes a while for the filling to set. (Probably best to prepare the day before you dinner party, then you can focus on the rest of your meals whilst dessert is chilling in the fridge).

Note, this recipe and method is almost identical to my Chocolate Tart, the main differences being that you are making a white version, so no cocoa and white chocolate instead of dark chocolate is used.

Serves 8-10 Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes Tart in: 25cm x 2.5ccm Fridge time: 2-3 hours

Base Ingredients

1 ยฝ cups coconut flour
ยฝ tablespoon vanilla essence
ยผ cup desiccated coconut
Sprinkle of Himalayan pink rock salt
2 tablespoons honey

 

Filling Ingredients

400ml coconut milk
250 grams white chocolate bits
ยฝ tablespoon honey
ยฝ tablespoon vanilla essence

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Base Method

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  1. Grease a 25cm x 2.5cm loose insert tart tin with butter
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, coconut, vanilla essence, salt and honey.
  3. Pour in coconut oil and stir through dry ingredients to fully mix together.
  4. You will notice that the mixture becomes thicker and starts to stick together in parts.
  5. Keep going until all of the base ingredients have a smooth consistency.
  6. Take bowl and pour dry ingredients into greased tart tin.
  7. Use a small shot glass or narrow glass to move the ingredients around covering the base and then working the mix up the sides of the tin.
  8. Once the sides are filled in and the base is uniform in its consistency, put the tin in a pre heated oven at 150 degrees for 10 minutes.
  9. Once cooked, take out and set aside to cool (at least 15 minutes)

    Filling Method

  1. Pour coconut cream into small saucepan and add vanilla essence
  2. Bring to the boil and then add the honey
  3. Pour the chocolate bits into the saucepan and stir continuously whilst turning the heat off.
  4. Keep mixing the ingredients until the chocolate has meltedย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย 


    Tart method

  1. Put the cooled tart base and tin onto a flat square cake board, move it close to the edge of your bench.
  2. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the prepared tart base.
  3. Slide the board off the bench and put in the fridge for 30 minutes initially.
  4. After 30 minutes, take the tart out of the fridge and top with granulated nuts.
  5. Return the tart to the fridge for another hour.
  6. After 1 ยฝ hours, take the tart out of the fridge and top with fresh blueberries
  7. Return the tart to the fridge and leave to set for another hour.

    ย 

    To serve

  1. I would recommend serving thin slices of the tart initially as the filling is rich and thick.
  2. Serve with French vanilla ice-cream and frozen blueberries.
  3. The tart will melt if left out of the fridge for too long, so be sure to pop it back in the fridge once all of the plates have been filled.

    Since I made my chocolate tart, I have realised there are actually quite a few options for modifying the recipe slightly ย to accommodate vegan friends. Coconut sugar or agave syrup would be the best substitute for the honey and a vegan version of the white chocolate can be found in the healthy aisle of the supermarket or in your nearest health food store.

tart-to-serve

Enjoy!! xx

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Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

Itโ€™s Dadโ€™s birthday on Tuesday โ€“ Happy Birthday Day! 71 years young! I offered to make the cake for this year and I decided on a Chocolate and Raspberry tart. I have made lemon tarts in the past and often drool over photos of chocolate tarts, but until yesterday making them was foreign to me.

I have a long rectangular tart/flan tin, but as a centre piece and celebration dish I felt the round tart looks best. I spent a little bit of time during the week searching for ideas and inspiration on pinterest again (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, pinterest) and found a receipe and a look I liked and then played around with my own version from there.

The tart that I most liked the look of is from this website: http://www.bakerita.com/no-bake-raspberry-chocolate-tart-paleo-vegan-gf/ Rachel Conners is the creator of the recipe that inspired me. You should check out her page โ€“ Bakertia.com for some amazing desserts!!

So we celebrated Dadโ€™s birthday with burgers and chocolate tart at beautiful Bribie Island, it was great day! We love you Dad, many happy returns! (Also I bet you are glad you can stop bugging me to book my return flight now that is done!).

Serves 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Tart tin: 25cm x 2.5ccm
Fridge time: 2-3 hours

Base Ingredients

1 ยฝ cups coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
ยฝ tablespoon vanilla essence
ยผ cup desiccated coconut
ยผ cup cocoa (or cacao powder)
Sprinkle of Himalayan pink rock salt
2 tablespoons honey

Filling Ingredients

400ml coconut milk
250 grams dark chocolate bits
ยฝ tablespoon honey
ยฝ tablespoon vanilla essence

ย 

Base Method

  1. Grease a 25cm x 2.5cm loose insert tart tin with butter
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa, coconut, vanilla essence, salt and honey.
  3. Pour in coconut oil and stir through dry ingredients to fully mix together.
  4. You will notice that the mixture becomes thicker and starts to stick together in parts.
  5. Keep going until all of the base ingredients have a smooth consistency.
  6. Take bowl and pour dry ingredients into greased tart tin.
  7. Use a small shot glass or narrow glass to move the ingredients around covering the base and then working the mix up the sides of the tin.
  8. Once the sides are filled in and the base is uniform in its consistency, put the tin in a pre heated oven at 150 degrees for 10 minutes.
  9. Once cooked, take out and set aside to cool (at least 15 minutes)tart-base-ready-to-bake

    Image one: Making the base

    Filling Method

  1. Pour coconut cream into small saucepan and add vanilla essence
  2. Bring to the boil and then add the honey
  3. Pour the chocolate bits into the saucepan and stir continuously whilst turning the heat off.
  4. Keep mixing the ingredients until the white of the cream can no longer be seen and the liquid has a dark chocolate colour.


    Tart method

  1. Put the cooled tart base and tin onto a flat square cake board, move it close to the edge of your bench.
  2. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the prepared tart base.
  3. Slide the board off the bench and put in the fridge for 30 minutes initially.
  4. After 30 minutes, take the tart out of the fridge and top with granulated nuts.
  5. Return the tart to the fridge for another hour.
  6. After 1 ยฝ hours, take the tart out of the fridge and top with fresh raspberries
  7. Return the tart to the fridge and leave to set for another hour.tart-topping


    Image two:ย Decorate with chopped nuts

     


    To serve

  1. I would recommend serving thin slices of the tart initially as the filling is rich and thick.
  2. Serve with French vanilla ice-cream and frozen raspberries.
  3. The tart will melt if left out of the fridge for too long, so be sure to pop it back in the fridge once all of the plates have been filled.

My version of this tart is not vegan as the dark chocolate bits I used have milk or milk products in them and honey was used in both the base and the filling. If you wanted to make a vegan version, I would look for a vegan friendly dark chocolate and substitute that for the one I have used here and agave syrup has been recommended as a substitute for the honey.

chocolate-tart

Image two: Dig in!!

Enjoy!! xx

 

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Chickpea Masala (Chana Masala)

chickpea-masala-image-1

Image one: Chickpea Masala (Chana Masala – inspired by Woolworths Fresh Magazine)

This week was a bit hectic. It was one of those weeks where I was thinking โ€˜ok, Iโ€™m going to cook thisโ€ฆโ€™, then I would go looking for a recipe on pinterest or google and go โ€˜oh, I want to cook that too and that and that and that and that etcโ€™. This all resulted in me using my shopping list app โ€“ Out of Milk (you should try it, it is fantastic!), on my phone for the basic stuff but then seriously walking in and out and Aldi, Coles and Woolworths a million times to make sure I had everything so I didnโ€™t have to go out again.

I frustrated even myself and I donโ€™t usually get that annoyed, but one trip as soon as I got back to my car, I thought, hang on, I didnโ€™t get the carrots and I really wanted to make carrot fritters for healthy lunch burgers.

My favourite grocery store is Aldi, it didnโ€™t use to be but I became converted and I love shopping there now, plus there is one just down the street from me, however, I find that I cannot get everything I want from there so I still have to go to Woolworth’s and Coles to get the other stuff. I donโ€™t mind that as the 3 stores are all in a close proximity to each other, however, after getting back to my car for about the tenth time to drop something off, I thought โ€˜thatโ€™s it, I need to plan more when it comes to my meals for the week ahead so I can be better prepared for the shopsโ€™.

Working full time with only 2 days to get house stuff, social stuff, life stuff done, means I try and get the household shopping done on a week night, but itโ€™s sometimes more difficult to do it in one hit so that I donโ€™t have to make multiple trips.

Either way, this Chickpea Masala is about the 3rd thing on my list that I wanted to do this weekend and I am glad I got there in the end (1st and 2nd, still in phases on my bench).

The house smells amazing, as soon as I added the curry paste to the pan, I was taken to foreign lands, which was fantastic. Whilst I am not vegan or vegetarian, I have many friends from work who are and I like that their way of life can influence me into trying dishes that I would have found boring when I was younger.

For this week, I found a recipe for this Chickpea Masala in the Woolworth’s Fresh magazine and it looked good, so I thought I would try it. It took less than an hour to make and was not too tricky. I would even give it a go on a week night, but depending on how organised I can be on the weekends, I think that freezing it so it is already done and can be quickly reheated will give me a night off from cooking which whilst I donโ€™t need, I find not enough time for always with work, yoga and everything else there is to achieve in a day. I would definitely cook from scratch every night without doubt as I love it so much and I like a freshly cooked meal, but I am the 1st to admit that I have found myself a couple of times, surrounded my bowls on my kitchen bench elbow deep in some bowl of ingredients on a week night and thought, โ€˜hmmm, maybe I should have saved this for weekendโ€™, so that all of the cleaning up or merely the thought of it made me run for the hills. (Thank god for dishwashers I say!)

Original recipe was from Woolworth’s Fresh magazine, however, I modified it slightly.

Serves 3-4

ย Ingredients

1 x large red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/3 cup tikka masala paste
1 x can coconut cream
2 x can chickpeas
1 x can diced tomatoes
6 fresh cherry tomatoes
ยฝ bunch fresh coriander
1 cup cooked basmati rice
Miniย pasppadams to serve

Method

  1. Put a splash of olive oil in your frypan and add the diced red onion, fry off for about 2 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for about 2 mins.
  3. Add the tikka masala paste, fry this off for about 3 mins.
  4. Add the can of diced tomatoes, fry for 1-2 mins.
  5. Add the can coconut cream, stir in very well and ensure that you are happy with the consistency of the curry.
  6. Add the rinsed chickpeas
  7. Put the lid on and bring to the boil for about 2 mins.
  8. Once boiled, turn the stove down, keep the lid on and cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. Taste to make sure the chickpeas are cooking to your liking
  10. Transfer meal into serving dish and garnish with fresh chopped cherry tomatoes and coriander.
  11. Serve with basmati rice and pappadams.

chickpea-masala-image-2

Image two: Dinnertime, ready to eat!

Notes: This meal actually qualifies as both vegan and vegetarian as there is no animal products in it. I highly recommend it as your ‘Meatless Monday’ meal as you can prepare in advance and enjoy without slaving away all day in the kitchen.

Enjoy!! xx

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Seafood Paella

La, la, la! I don’t know whether I am more excited about my seafood paella or about the fact that as January has come to an end and February has started, I have officially been blogging for a month and I now have 2 months of posts in my archives, whoop!! I feel a sense of achievement in that.

This year I decided to cut down my tv watching at night after work (I wasn’t that addicted but there was still time there I could use) and whilst I have yoga some nights, I still found there are a few nights that I get just a little bit of time that I would prefer to use writing like this than watching something which deactivates my brain as opposed to activating it.

So, this weekend’s cooking. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do and I referred to a few recipe books as well as going on pinterest and I concluded that I had to do something with seafood. It is hot in Brisvegas and I didn’t want the oven on all weekend, so a gas stove top cooked paella seemed like the way to go. Not to mention, I knew that I could probably get some more mussels from the shop I got my ones from last weekend and I saw some big arse prawns that Iย just had to do something with, hence, I thought a paella it is. It would also give me an opportunity to play around with saffron which I haven’t done a lot before. I bought both the imitation and the strands as I hadn’t decided yet which was best so I thought ‘get both and decide through experimentation which I like best’.

So whilst, I don’t have a paella pan, like my mum does, (we used it at Christmas as it was quite handy), I do have an excellent sized frypan I use regularly so I decided that would have to do.

Here is the recipe for my Seafood Paella, I insist on the addition of the white wine to the recipe as it helps the flavours integrate and it’s the weekend, so a few drinks here and there help the world go round I say. Again, I went with Jamieson’s white that I had last weekend as it was nice, cold and a good match for the seafood.

This is a relatively easy dish to make. Be cautious to not overcook the seafood and you are away. I feel like the only things I need now are some sangria and a show where those women in the clappy shoes are dancing and the atmosphere is all rowdy and alive.

Fiesta Paella, delicious, if I do say so myself. My paella isย also a no eat and drive one in the sense that I kept adding more and more white wine to ensure the rice was fully cooked as I had already added all the stock I had, the flavor it brought was delicious!

Paella ingredients

Olive oil
1 x large red onion diced (I never cook with white onions, I think red has a much better flavor)
Fresh chopped garlic
2 cupsย vegetable stock
1 cup arborio rice
1 x chorizo sausage finely chopped
10 mussels
6 whopping great big prawns
White wine (amount depends on the night of the week!)
Pinch of paprika
Salt
Pepper

Paella method

  1. Put a splash of oil in the frypan and add the garlic, chorizo, paprika and red onion, fry off for a couple of minutes
  2. Add the stock and saffron threads.
  3. Add the rice
  4. Cook the rice in tasting as you go until it is still a tiny bit crunchy
  5. Add the white wine (I like a sav blanc when cooking)
  6. Add the mussels and cook for approximately 3 minutes with the lid on
  7. Add the prawns, by simply placing on top of the rice mixture.
  8. Put the lid back on and watch for the prawns to cook, as soon as they are fully orange in colour, turn the gas off and remove the lid.
  9. The final few minutes of the seafood cooking, will also allow the rice to finish cooking. Continue to add wine and taste.
  10. Use sliced lemon wedges to serve.

Enjoy xx

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Spicy Mussels

mussels-with-wineI made these spicy mussels for dinner last night and the flavour knocked my socks off! I was literally tearing the shell open with both hands to get out the juicy mussel in side and the hit of jalapeno added a lovely change in texture and sensation.

I know that there are a million different recipes that you can choose from when seeking out a good seafood one, what I liked about this was the extra punch from the red curry paste and the ability to sop up the sauce with the polenta chips

Serves: 2 people
Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

Parmesan crisp Ingredients

300 grams freshly grated or shaved parmesan
Spray oil

Polenta ingredients

1 cup polenta
1 cup stock (any flavor)
Sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to season

Mussel ingredients

1kg fresh (or frozen, thawed, if canโ€™t get fresh) mussels
Freshly chopped garlic
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup chilled white wine
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 can coconut cream
3 fresh jalapenos
ยฝ punnet cherry tomatoes cut in ยฝ

ย Parmesan crisps method

  1. Put a piece of aluminium foil onto a baking tray and spray with oil
  2. Take small pinches of the cheese and start to make small mounds with it on the foil.
  3. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees
  4. Turn oven off and leave baking tray in there for another 5 minutes so that the heat lightly browns the melted cheese mounds
    Take out of the oven and set aside to garnish the mussel dish when ready

Polenta method

  1. Pour stock into a small saucepan and bring to the boil
  2. Add some freshlyย ground salt and pepper
  3. Tip the polenta into the pan and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Polenta will absorb the water and start to thicken
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the grated cheese, continue to stir
  5. Once the polenta has fully absorbed the stock and that cheese has melted into the mix, turn the stove off and remove the pan.
  6. Spray a slice tin with oil and scoop polenta into the slice tin, use the spoon to push it together so you have a nice thick layer you want thick chips, so you donโ€™t have to use the full slice tin area, ยฝ will work fine
    Sprinkle a little bit more grated cheese on top then put the slice tin into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Mussel method

1. Add olive oil to a frypan that has a glass lid on it.
2. Add the freshly chopped garlic and red onion
3. Add the white wine and simmer these ingredients with the lid on for approx. 4ย ย ย  minutes.
4. Add 2 tablespoons red curry paste, simmer again with lid on for approx. 2 minutes
5.Take lid off and pour in can of coconut cream, stir to fully combine ingredientsย  and mix will look smooth and consistent.
6.Add the cherry tomatoes and jalapenos
7. Add the mussels to the pan and cover with the lid
8. Turn the heat down and let them cook for 4-5 minutes. You will see the shellsย ย ย  beginning to open (discard any after cooking that remain closed)
9.Take the lid off and turn the stove to the lowest setting
10.Spoon the mussels into a serving dish and then pour remaining liquid over mussels

To serve:

  1. Have the mussels in one large bowl, garnish with parmesan crisps.
  2. Put the polenta chips into a small side dish.
  3. Pour a couple of glasses chilled white wine
  4. Have a spare bowl handy for the shells to go into
  5. Serviettes as if you dig in to the mussels with your hands, you will have sticky fingers!

mussels-pic

Enjoy!! xx

 

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Salmon Quinoa Broccoli Bites

I have been consciously cutting back on meat for a while now or choosing other meals that have less meat or fish instead. In thinking about making these Salmon Quinoa bites, I wanted to make something healthy that was not too meat orientated and using Quinoa as it is something I donโ€™t do every day. For week night cooking, I donโ€™t usually get super heavily involved in what I am doing as the time disappears too quickly but these were good as after they are rolled, the hard work is over and you can just pop them in the oven. Seems to me like they are best served as a snack or appetizer as the Quinoa does make you quite full and one or two would be enough combined with some other tapas to get you through serving them to guests as a variation of the traditional โ€˜meatballโ€™ stuck on a toothpick .

For this particular night, I did the bites with coconut cream and spinach to make a creamy pasta sauce that was delicious! I ate a bowl of it, then looked into the empty bowl and thought, ‘yep, that was pretty tasty’. I often use coconut cream as a pasta sauce instead of a heavy cream based one as I know exactly what goes into the meal then and there are no hidden nasties.

This meal is quite filling for a less satisfying meal, I would snack on the bowl of the bites without turning them into a pasta dish as well. They freeze and reheat ok so they can be made in advance and then grabbed out quickly for a night when you don’t have as much time (for me that is my yoga nights – nameste).


Prep and cooktime: 20 minutes Serves: 4

Salmon Quinoa Brocolli Bite Ingredients

Brocolli head, medium size
400 gram pink salmon, tinned
1 cup cooked Quinoa
2 free range eggs
1/3 cup grated cheese
salt, to season
pepper, to season
olive oil, splash
400ml can coconut milk
spaghetti
fresh baby spinach leaves

Salmon Quinoa Broccoli Bites Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Start by emptying the salmon into a serving bowl and break up with a fork
  3. Then put broccoli in a food processor and blitz
  4. Transfer broccoli to bowl and add cooked quinoa, followed by eggs and grated cheese
  5. Season with salt and pepper then stir to combine, so that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together
  6. Lay a sheet of baking paper onto a tray
  7. Roll mix into small balls place separate out onto tray
  8. Cook for 30 minutes, until light golden in colour, leave to rest in oven for 2-3 minutes after turning off
  9. Boil water in a saucepan, season with salt, pepper and olive oil and cook according to packet instructions
  10. Pour contents into colander to drain water then return saucepan to the stove
  11. Add the can of coconut milk and once simmering pour pasta back into saucepan, add spinach leaves and serve
  12. Transfer into small serving bowls and top with Salmon Quinoa Broccoli Bites, top with cracked pepper and grated parmesan cheese

    wp-1490613528129.jpgwp-1490613528128.jpg1490612761730.jpgwp-1490612995473.jpg1490612710558.jpgwp-1490613893874.jpgwp-1490611526197.jpgwp-1490611032121.jpg

 

Enjoy xx

 

 

 

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Green Smoothie Bowl

I love a hearty breakfast on the weekends, some bacon, eggs and gooey sauce never go astray. One of my friends and I did that yesterday and went to this great little cafรฉ where we had an awesome breakfast overlooking a beautiful landscape. My meal was a breakfast burger, which hit the nail on the head โ€“ it came with a hashbrown on the actual burger itself and had a really tasty spicy relish to go with it. So yum, will have to have it again. As I have ticked the indulgent breakfast box this weekend, I thought this morning I would go back to a healthier option and I wanted the hit of greens too.

This combination is one of my favourites and a go to when I have minutes to spare heading out the door for work, but I have a chance to blend this up and then can usually drink it in the car on my way to work.

 

Green Smoothie Bowl ingredients

1 x cup frozen mango pieces
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
375ml coconut water, chilled
frozen strawberries
coconut chips
chia seeds

 

Green Smoothie Bowl method

  1. Add frozen mango, spinach and coconut water to blender cup
  2. Blend ingredients till smooth and consistent
  3. Pour into serving bowl
  4. Top with coconut chips, chopped strawberries and chia seeds

wp-1490484817745.jpg

 

Enjoy xxย 

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Pork Crackle

For Christmas last year, my sister made an amazing Pork Crackle. It took ages to cook so we sat at the table after the main meal chowing down on a bowl of it, it sounded like, โ€˜crunchโ€™, โ€˜crunchโ€™, crunch, so good!โ€™. This weekend, I was going to give myself a break from cooking and the blog to do some other things, but then I did my fruit and veg shopping, wandered into the butcher next door and somehow came home with Pork Mince and Pork rind. I thought to myself, I would freeze it until next weekend, however, at some point in the afternoon, I began thinking it wouldnโ€™t take too long to pop down the street for the lettuce to make the San Choy Bow and one thing lead to another and all of a sudden I had committed to making both dishes. It was well worth the effort as the combination of the crunch, crunch of the crackle and the deep flavour of the sauce for the San Choy was delicious. Serving the mince mixture in the lettuce cups is always something I enjoy as it is so different from your average โ€˜meat and 3 vegโ€™ meal.

This morning on Instagram, I saw a post about your ‘homey’ name. To figure yours out, you had to put โ€˜Lilโ€™ in front of the last thing you ate. So mine is โ€˜Lil Pork Crackleโ€™, although it should technically be โ€˜Lil Sparkling Shiraz Pork Crackleโ€™.

Pork Crackle Ingredients

1 portion pork rind
Olive oil
Himalayan pink rock salt

Pork rind 1Pork rind 2Pork rind 3Pork rind oven

 

Pork Crackle Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Take the pork rind out of the fridge and lay on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray
  3. If the butcher hasnโ€™t scored the surface, do this with a sharp knife
  4. Using a salt grinder, cover the rind with freshly cracked salt
  5. Transfer the baking tray into oven, top or 2nd rack
  6. Cook for 60 minutes
  7. You will see the skin go bubbly and turn light golden brown
  8. Turn oven off and leave in there for 5 minutes
  9. Take baking tray out of the oven and leave on the bench to cool for another 5-10 minutes
  10. Turn the crackle over to start cutting it with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors
  11. It can be tricky to get โ€˜perfectโ€™ or โ€˜normalโ€™ chip like bits of the crackle, so cut it whichever way you can and transfer to serving bowl

 

Pork Crackle done

 

Notes:

Little bits of the crackle may fly off in different directions when you are cutting it, be careful to not get it in your eyes!

Enjoy!! xx

 

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