Thursday, 27 February 2014
I have a thing for Salad. I eat a lot of Salad. Pete and I went out last night (he had a Burger the size of his head - I won't tell you how gross it was, I'm sure you can imagine) and I had a Sweet Potato Curry. The Curry came served with Rice and Salad, I left most of the Rice, and ate the Salad. We had a bit of a laugh because the chances are most of the food that goes back into the kitchen is probably the bit that I ate!
I do try and create different Salad's - because if it was up to me, I'd eat Rocket, Walnuts and Beets for life. No Joke.
I really struggle with Quinoa, I don't particularly like the taste of it on it's own, and every time I go to cook it, I realise that it's going to take half an hour, get bored and make Cous Cous instead. I love Cous Cous. Only I decided that Quinoa would go really nicely with some Roast Veggies. Mainly because the time it takes to cook them, the Quinoa will be done. See. Match made in heaven!
Those little unnasuming balls, that look so nice, but take so long!
The instructions for cooking Quinoa on the back of the packet were. . well. . wrong. But I find that my way gets it cooked first time every time. Who needs packets anyway? Eat less from packets, and more from nature.
I'm not big into creamy Salad Dressings, I much prefer Balsamic. I have a bottle of Raspberry Vinegar my Aunt made for me for Christmas, so I thought that it would be the perfect time to use it to make a sort of dressing for this Salad.
She's such a culinary genius. haha, I think that's probably where I get my intrigue for trying something new from, no one else in my family is particularly big on trying new flavours and tastes.
My Uncle actually refused to eat Rice for years. That was too exotic for him. (deadly serious)
That's why I don't tell them what is in something until after they have tried it! - Is that legal?!!
My family does not use salt. Like, just does not use it! It took me a while to even think to put salt in recipes, I've grown so accustomed to just leaving it out.
I'm still not super sold on putting it in cakes and the such like, is it really necessary? Are we just adding extra Salt to our diets? Everywhere you look people are trying to cut back on the amount of Salt they consume.
Personally I think they would be better cutting out processed food, because with processed foods goes the majority of sugar and salt.
That said, sometimes I will use a tiny bit of Salt in my food. This recipe really does need the Salt and I love this Chilli Rock Salt. If you want to make your own, just combine some Chilli Flakes with some Rock Salt. It really boosts the savoury flavours in this Salad and prevents the Raspberries from being too sweet.
I did serve this with my version of the Chia Seed Bread from Oh She Glows (still love that blog) and it was amazing, although I think any form of crusty bread would be nice.
Monday, 24 February 2014
I can't be the only one in love with Avocado's. Can I?
I wrote a comment the other day about someone finding me an AA group (Avocado Anonymous). The problem really has got that bad. There are only so many Avocado Salads a girl can eat!. . .
I know I'm not the first to come up with this idea. I'm also quite well known in my family for putting strange fruits and vegetables in places they do not belong. (proof here!)
I had a quick scour of the internet to see what other people have done.
Joy, of Joy The Baker's version.
Veets Cuisine version (am I the only one who loves Australian blogs? They just appeal to me, and I don't know why!)
Ms I-Hua's Version
Lyuba of Will Cook For Smiles' version
As you see, it's been done.
But that wasn't going to stop me. . . Oh no! 1 ripe Avocado (come on, we know they are under-ripe, under-ripe, under-ripe, READY - EAT ME . . oh no. too late!) and 1 ripe Banana later.
Now prepare yourself, because that beautiful green goes from looking like that to . . . .
Not a pretty sight I know, but bare with me here, because it will soon turn into something magical .
With Banana flowers, because I can't help myself. I made this batch for my sister when she came home from school, flowers and all. (she did whinge about the "leeeeaves" mind!)
These are tried and tested. My sister ate them by the bucket load. (at one point I do believe she plunged her face into the plate) If you think it's odd to put fruit and veg where they don't belong. . . think again, I totally urge you to try it, the results are absolutely worth it. Promise.
Saturday, 22 February 2014
One of my worst habits, food wise that is, is picking at food. I can't help it, whether I'm hungry or not I'll pick at food.
This year I've promised myself to stop it, and I'm proud to report I'm doing pretty well, but to help along the way I love having little healthy snacks to pick at.
I'd rather pick at one of these, than a biscuit or something like that.
Now I've never been over-weight (I know this because I visit the hospital constantly, next visit is tuesday this week, and then wednesday as well, and every time I go in, they weigh me, measure me, and ask if I'm pregnant! haha. I'm not. Pete: breathe now), and some articles you read would have you believe that picking at food is better than a few big meals, only I'm not sure. The French would have you believe that snacking is terrible, the Americans would have you believe that it is the best, and we are just confused!
I've recently re-discovered my love for these lovely little balls of fruit and nut. Thanks to Janet! And I've been picking my brains to see which flavour combos I can put together next.
Every Sunday evening, me and my mother sit down with a cocktail (virgin or not) and watch Mr Selfridge (I freaking love period dramas, my mother always told me I was born in the wrong era and she was sooo right!) So whilst we were sipping cocktails I thought to myself that a Pina Colada ball would be amazing.
I sort of think that these would be an awesome alternative to be served at a Cocktail Party!
Now that's a list of ingredients I like the look of!
I stopped drinking nearly three years ago now. I wouldn't say I drank a lot in the first place, only when I went out with my friends. At the time I was going through a pretty rough patch and it took nearly three months of soul searching before my mam said she could see "the old me" back again. Regardless, I promised myself I wouldn't drink, that I didn't need to drink in order to have a good time. I stopped drinking, and drank nothing for nearly two years. I then allowed myself a 1/4 of a pint of cider at Christmas, and since then I maybe have drunk cumulatively a pint. Maybe.
Since I stopped drinking, Pete, my other half, has curbed his drinking massively as well. Completely unintentionally. But like he said, we just don't feel the need to drink.
We have also witnessed the behaviour of drunk people (not happy drunk, but out of their faces drunk) and it seems almost embarrassing to me that they act like that where as before I think I would have brushed it off.
I am most certainly not condemning drinking. I just do it in a bit more of a classy way now! (yep I know how that sounded! *cringe*)
Rice flour is not an ingredient I use all too often because I find it sucks up all of the moisture out of the mixture almost immediately. But I am trying to incorporate it into more recipes (stock pile needs depleting).
I thought it worked quite well in this recipe actually, and the texture it provided was really complimentary to the almonds.
I know. I'm overanalysing. That's nothing new, it's how my brain works!
Today, being Saturday is going to involve:
1. A film
2. Some Popcorn
3. Not much else!
I hope y'all have a really nice Weekend, recharge for the week to come, and relax.
Now, I'm off to do some Yoga! (and possibly eat something.)
As an aside, I just want to say I am praying for Ukraine, and I hope everyone else does too, I hope those in power work out a truce, and I pray for the lives lost. I recently read a blog post that said it seemed almost silly to post things like recipes when people are out there losing lives. I totally agree. Ukraine is in my heart.
Monday, 17 February 2014
So how do you get kids to eat anything other than Carbs? Vegetables? Not a chance. My Aunt used to call Green Beans, "Green Chips" to make my cousins eat them!
I'm going for a more stealthy route.
I had some beetroot lying around after I made some puree for my Beetroot Salad, and I didn't really want to pickle it. Don't get me wrong, I love pickled Beetroot, but we have jars and jars of the stuff lying around and don't really need any more.
I have made pasta before, with my Grandma, which is how I got
and turn it into something that looks like the Pasta we all know and love!
As I was kneading and working with the Pasta I found that using a silicone mat worked really well. It usually hate using them because they are so difficult to work out how to wash . . . but it prevented me having to add too much extra flour which would have eventually seized the dough up.
I tried this recipe without kneading the dough first and it was almost impossible to roll through the rollers. I found that a quick knead first made it so much easier.
The first couple of passes will look disastrous - like the dough is going to fall apart, but in actuality it suddenly goes from looking like a train wreck, to coming together super quickly.
Be warned. The red colour of the Beets stains. Everything.
The Flour is so fine, it gets EVERYWHERE!! Uber messy job!
I also had so much fun winding the handle of the Pasta machine.
Yes I do love blending. There is nothing like standing expectantly over the top of the blender waiting for something to be ready, but there was a certain child-like enjoyment to the manual labour I endured to create this!
I actually love doing this so much, that I have a really long list of different flavours to try next! I think Spinach and Garlic will be next on the list - I plan to leave that in sheets and create a green Lasagne with Cauliflower Bechamel, and Soy Mince "Meat". . . only that's another day. I sometimes get a little ahead of myself. My imagination works three times as fast as what I am physically capable of doing.
I decided to dry my pasta, I rolled it out and cut it into strips, I then placed it on a non-stick silicone mat (Greaseproof Paper would work too) on top of a baking sheet and placed it in a warm dry place overnight. (Above our cooker, which powers our heating and warm water so is on 24/7 ).
You don't necessarily have to dry the Pasta out, instead you could freeze it (I didn't do this because I have NO room in my freezer!)
To cook the Pasta, add it to a pan of boiling Salted Water for 4 minutes.
Before I dried the Pasta out I separated it into portion-sized piles which would make it easier for working out how much Pasta I would need to cook per person. (1 each . . . and 1 for luck!)
Sunday, 16 February 2014
I don't know what it is at the moment, but all I'm really interested in cooking is desserts.
I know, I know, I'm supposed to like cooking desserts, but I've always been more of a savoury person. Cheese on Toast used to be my favourite meal.
Only I love baking, so Cake is always on the cards. This week has brought with it a few failed experiments and I needed some cheering up (I really, really want a decent vegan Doughnut. Baked. Not fried. I'm struggling to make one)
So I started perousing the world of Pinterest **ooohs & aaahs here** for some inspiration and I came across Peanut Butter Cup Desserts. Every one of those words hits a home run with me at the moment.
I love Peanut Butter. (when it's combined with Chocolate!) I'm lying, I have never liked the stuff much, I didn't like it as a kid, I didn't like it with Jelly. In fact I have quite a vivid memory of it actually making me gag at one point.
That's the thing with me, even if I don't like it, I'll try and convince myself that it wasn't that bad, and try it again, and again, and again and . . . . you get the picture. I love Peanuts, so why shouldn't I like Peanut Butter?! I did come to the conclusion that it's probably the way it sticks to the roof of your mouth.
Peanut Butter Cup Desserts sounded like a really fun thing to try! I ended up making them for my Pete, however, he then decided to tell me that he likes Sundae's more. (AGHHH!)
Allow me to enlighten you with a peak inside our relationship (Those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now) :
Last night he said :
"Han, you want to know a secret?"
"what?" (I was watching a CSI, not in a talkative mood . . . !)
"I don't like Dark Chocolate"
Now, that doesn't sound that bad, just a bloke telling his girl he doesn't like Dark Chocolate, had I not just made Chocolate Mousse, and had he not just inhaled the whole thing.
Yep. Diplomacy, not his greatest skill.
This recipe is (surprise surprise) based heavily on one from Angela, and (my mother is going to hate me for this, she has issues with desserts in Jam jars, but they are cute!) I even styled them similarly because I liked how they looked!
I will say though, if you choose to do the same, it is bloomin' difficult to aim the mixture into a Jam jar!
I did however change the original Graham Cracker Crust to this one ( I use this in place of Pastry a LOT. I don't really like Pastry.) It worked really well and these taste. . .
No. I don't need to tell you how great they taste do I??
If you have doubts about using Tofu in a dessert. Stop it! - I promise you 100% you can't taste Tofu, it's more for adding body and texture, with minimal calories and dairy products. It really does work, I often make Chocolate Mousse with Tofu!
Friday, 14 February 2014
First off, let me say I know there is not supposed to be three f's in Truffles. . . but I'm currently being too lazy to go and fix it. I'll get round to it sometime!
I made little fruit and nut truffles like these years ago (I found a few that didn't get eaten not so long ago. Not sure how I managed to miss them/ forget about them/ I binned them, don't worry!) and I really liked them (although, not too much it would seem, being that I forgot about them. . . ) however when I saw the combo Janet (one of my favourite blogs) had made here, I jumped right on that.
Dried Apple (got some of that, check!)
Cinnamon ( one of my favourite flavours, check!!)
Coconut (yup, got some of that lying around too. Triple check!!!)
Let me tell y'all. The weather has been gross.
I know loads of you are under a foot of snow, and trust me, I'd prefer that. As it is we have 80mph wind and rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. When it's windy. What happens? It rains bloomin' sideways.
I'm not going out in that. No way. January for me was a car-less month (Car, truck, ditch, crash, sad!) so I couldn't really go anywhere, now I have my car back (or a new car, my car has gone to the great scrapheap in the sky) I'm not really that confident at driving. Which is sad, because I used to love driving. Anyway, this means I didn't really want to go out anywhere, so I've been scouring for recipes where I can use up what we have accumulated in the pantry.
Don't worry, for valentines day I did splurge on some Tortilla's, Rocket and a fresh block of Tofu! Can't have my man eating just old food now can I. (haha, I lie, I totally can, and if it was my way I totally would. If it was his way he would just be eating chips. I swear before he met me he had the WORST diet ever, It's taken me literally years to try and persuade him otherwise . . . I'm getting there. We currently have a deal. He will eat vegan 90% of the time if I give him a free pass for (eugh) Fried Chicken once in a while, but that's another story. . .)
Anyway. Pantry Balls. That's what I should have re-named these!
I think this is a bit of a hand-me-down recipe from a million different sources, but that's fine by me. I love it when recipes are passed from one person to another and tweaked along the way!
I lined these up all neatly in little sweet cases and I think they would make a really nice gift for someone.
You honestly can't even tell they aren't REALLY bad for you (nothing's as bad as fried chicken)
If I was going to make this version again, I think they would be really yummy with some Ground Ginger added in. Or some different spices, to make them really Apple Pie-y.
Oh and I almost forgot. I have a question I've been dying to ask some other vegan converts.
The idea of eggs, and meat, and gelatine really freak me out at the moment, which is super odd because I never really gave a flying whatsit one way or another before. I'd been cooking with all three since I was about 12. Only recently has the idea of them, eggs in particular, started to make my stomach turn, eugh, does anyone else feel like this or is it just me? Being weird again!
Anyway, muchos besitos, I hope everyone is surviving the weather, I hope those affected by the floods are doing ok, those that are dealing with trees toppling due to the winds are safe and those in the snow. . . no wait, y'all get no sympathy, send some of the cold this way!
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
I Love Peppermint Patties.
I hate the word Patties. (RE-NAME TIME!)
So when I stumbled across Angela's Vegan recipe for Peppermint Patties, Angels started singing. The sun started shining and all was right with the world.
OK. So I went a little too far!
I immediately went about summoning the ingredients for this recipe, soaking my Cashews overnight ready for the morning, and preparing myself for the awesome-ness that was to come!
I think we can all agree, Oh She Glows is one of the most inspiring blogs around, and I have total faith in her recipes so I was never in any doubt that these were going to turn out awesome.
They were! - My Boyfriend even asked for more as I left his house. That got me thinking. What other flavours could I concoct?!
My mother did point out that perhaps this only worked because of how strong the peppermint flavouring was, but I was always going to attempt something else anyway.
In a box of Chocolates, the ones that always go first are the Strawberry Creams, the Orange Creams and the Lemon Creams. I wanted to try and make Orange Creams (but I had no Orange Extract). Right. Plan B. Lemon Creams it is. . . and I am proud to report, they work just as well as the originals, are fun to make, and taste amazing!
My first set, the Peppermint ones, I dipped in the Chocolate Mixture, and set on a wire rack over some greaseproof paper, bad move. They stick. If you place them directly onto the greaseproof paper they don't. Ah well. Trial and error!
Nom! I did manage to restrain myself from eating all of these! - mainly because I think they would make a really lovely valentines gift for someone.
Friday, 7 February 2014
I've been seeing so many different tasty looking recipes with Rosemary recently, such as this one, however they all seem to contain chocolate. I don't really like the idea of sickly chocolate desserts at the moment, but I really wanted to incorporate Rosemary into a recipe.
I read somewhere the other day that the scent of Orange as they are peeled is really good for mental attitude. I'm not too sure on the science behind it, but apparently somehow the scent triggers something in the brain which then releases endorphines and promotes happiness. (I'm almost sure my lay-man's description there is way off, but I like to think I'm right!) I've been particularly emotional recently and I'm not sure why. Something to do with the Doctors getting no-where, the endless trips to hospital for no apparent reason and the constant pain may have something to do with it! So when I read the powers of Oranges late one night I decided Orange Cake was definitely on the horizon!
I was brought up never to waste food, so the idea of using an entire Orange (pith and all) excited me a lot. I was watching King of Tarts (I think. It's an Australian Cheffy program anyway)and I first saw the whole Orange being used. A quick trundle of the internet and a few pins later I had a guideline. Then I Vegan-ified and tried to cut down the bad ingredients. The result was this surprisingly delicious cake!
Even if my brain science was off, the colours of the Oranges certainly cheered me up no-end on this particularly grey day. So as far as I'm concerned. Mission. Accomplished.
Plus, aren't they so pretty to look at. It almost makes me thirsty!!
After combining all of the ingredients, you will almost immediately see the Baking Powder begin to react with the wet ingredients. At this point you have to move quite swiftly. This is how I managed to pour the mixture into the middle (I know, I know) of the cake pan, you know, the bit with the hole. I do astound myself sometimes.
Mess aside, the cake turned out well, something I am always terrified won't happen when I use a Bundt tin, I think the fact that this one is silicone helps a little.
The freezer is completely stuffed with Berries of all types, including these Blackcurrants, so I just pulled out a box and de-frosted a few. I suggest in the summer, picking as many berries as you can as they will save for a really long time and are so much cheaper than buying them out of season!