Friday, 30 May 2014

Custard Cupcakes



If you looking for soft, fluffy, simple, child friendly cupcakes I have just the recipe for you! This recipe came to mind after I was bored of my old go-to Fairy Cakes and wanted something with a slight change in taste and texture. I whipped them up exceptionally fast, took after my Mum and made a huge mess and worked very quickly! I made them for my niece and nephew (husbands side, my sisters are yet to make me an Aunt!) to decorate this afternoon. We all enjoyed it, I think the adults enjoyed eating them just as much as the kids did decorating them! A fun afternoon activity for those hot summer days when you simply can't go outside.

I actually first tasted these a looong time ago, baked by a friend who then passed on the recipe. The custard powder gives a subtle custard flavor and the texture is oh so light. Give these a go, your family and friends will love you for it and most likely ask for the recipe.


I N G R E D I E N T S
  • 125g butter, room temp
  • 1/2 C caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C self raising flour
  • 1/2 C custard powder
  • 1/2 C milk

  1. Preheat oven to 175C (fan-forced). Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Using a free standing mixer, electric hand mixer or muscle power, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
  4. Add half of the flour, fold to combine followed by half of the custard powder and then half of the milk, folding in between each addition. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Divide mixture between the cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop to get an even amount. I got around 20 cupcakes from the mixture. 
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops bounce back up if pressing them lightly.
  7. Cool and decorate as you please. I made a simple glacé icing using pure icing sugar and water with a little colouring to make it fun as well as plenty of sprinkles.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Salmon with Honey & Balsamic


As part of my plan to begin to implement a healthier eating habit, i've been experimenting with different healthier options here and there. Feeling a little deprived of fish oil, I went to a trip to find some nice salmon. To my disappointment there was no Tasmanian Salmon to be found but I did get a few nice pieces of the Norwegian variety. I scoured the interent for recipes for my salmon dinner but didn't see anything that I fancied. So I came up with my own. Its really easy and I guess pretty healthy, just a little olive oil and canola spread to begin the cooking process. Be careful not to over-simmer the glaze, I did and it ended up a little too thick for my liking!

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium sized salmon pieces
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter/canola spread
  • 1/2 packet of rocket leaf
  • 1/3 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan until it is almost smoking. Whilst you wait, rub sea salt into skin of salmon and leave for a few minutes (this will aid in the crisp factor). 
  2. Once olive is heated, divide and rub the butter into the skin of the salmon. Place skin side down for around 6 minutes (until salmon is almost cooked through, this will ensure a crispy skin). Then flip the salmon and cook for a further 2 minutes to sear the uncooked side.
  3. While your salmon is cooking, mix the balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as it begins to thicken, turn it off and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Made a bed of rocket using a large serving dish and once the salmon is cooked, gently place it onto the rocket. Drizzle over your balsamic glaze and serve immediately. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Food & Football

So last night my husband's football club Arsenal was in the final of the FA cup. It was a tense night, the team hadn't won a a cup or premiership in 8 years and the fans as well as my favourite Frenchman, Arsene Wenger, need a championship! The score was 2-2 at full time and then went into 30 minutes overtime to keep up us on our toes. To make the night a little more fun, I made some 'game day' snacks for the unnerving few hours to calm our bellies. I made a creamy dip, cheesy garlic bread and some sweet tortilla roll-ups. Here are the very easy recipes for your next big sports night!



Creamy Dip:

3/4 tub of light Philadelphia cheese
1/2 tub sour cream
1/2 tsp ranch dressing mix (dry spices)
pinch of paprika
1/2 tin of sweet corn

Mix all of the ingredients, sprinkle with a little extra paprika and refrigerate before serving.



Cheesy Garlic Bread

1 country style (wide and flat) loaf, halved length ways (only use the bottom half)
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/4 C thick labneh (if you cant find this you can use cream cheese or a thick greek yoghurt)
1/3 yellow cheddar grated
1/4 parmesan cheese grated
1 small garlic clove, minced
handful of spring onion to top

Mix the mayonnaise, labneh, cheeses and garlic together to make a paste.
Cut thick slits in the bread.
Spread over the cheese mixture on top as well as into the slits you made previously.
Wrap in foil, making sure the top does not touch the mixture and bake in a 180C oven for 15 mins, then open the foil and allow the top to crisp up for another 5-10 minutes or until it become golden and crunchy. 
Cut through slices, sprinkle over the spring onion and serve immediately. 




Sweet Tortilla Roll-Ups

Tortilla bread
Nutella
Banana 

Lay the bread flat and spread a layer of nutella over leaving a 2cm gap within the border.
Roughly mash the banana and spread over nutella. 
Roll up like you would a wrap, extra tight and then place 5 toothpicks evening into the roll. 
Cut into portions and serve. 
*Note that one banana will be enough for one medium size tortilla. I used 2 tortillas in total. In this first attempt I cut the banana raher than mashing and it tended to fall out easily, so mashing is definitely the way to go. 


Oh, and Arsenal won!!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Broccoli & Chicken Crepes

This recipe came to be after hours flicking through cookbooks, deciding what to make for a dinner party over a year ago. My mother-in-law spotted it and suggested we give it a go. The picture didn't look very appetizing and the many steps of preparing, refrigerating and finally cooking the crepes didn't appeal to my lazy self at all. It would be an understatement to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the end result! Although I've heard and used the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" a million times, it didn't become more apparent than on that particular day. Lesson learnt.


The recipe originally comes from a Woman's Weekly Vegetarian cookbook but I have made a few changes here and there to make it my own. Its really very versatile and you can add pretty much whatever you like to the filling, the possibilities are endless! Sometimes I double the sauce if I want extra to add to the top of the crepes, (depends how healthy I want to be on the day) so feel free to do this.


Crepe Batter:

  • 1/3 C plain flour
  • 2 tbsp self raising flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2/3 C milk
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese (or just under)
Filling:
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C cream
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small broccoli, chopped into chunks
  • 1 large chicken breast, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of grated mature cheddar cheese

  1. Begin with the crepe batter - sift flour into a mixing bowl, make a well and into it add the lightly whisked eggs, oil and milk. Use a whisk to mix the wet ingredients into the flour, ensuring that there are no lumps. Then add the Parmesan cheese, mix. Cover with cling film and place into the fridge for at least 1 hour. 
  2. Using a non-stick round pan, pour in just over a tbsp of the batter (I use a ice cream scoop). Once the bottom has slightly browned and the edges are cooked and almost crispy, flip the crepe over and fry for another 1-2 minutes. You should end up with 8-10 crepes, depending on the size. 
  3. Begin the filling by melting the butter in a saucepan with the chicken stock cube. Once melted, add in the flour and stir vigorously into a buttery paste. Cook out the flour for 2-3 minutes and then add the milk and cream, stirring as you go. Add the nutmeg and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken and then take it off the heat.
  4. In the same pan as you used for your crepes (saves on washing up!) heat the olive oil over low heat and add the chicken. When the chicken begins to turn white, add in the paprika, salt and pepper. Continue to cook the chicken until its just done, making sure not to overcook it (we don't want tough chicken). It should take 5-7 minutes. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce. 
  5. In the same pan, add your broccoli with 1 tbsp of water, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute. Take your broccoli off the heat before it becomes soft as it will continue to cook in the sauce and then in the oven. Add to the sauce.
  6. Now its time to fill your crepes, for this you will need a wooden board and a oven dish to bake your crepes in. Spoon about 2 tbsp full of the filling into the middle of your crepe in a straight line, ensuring that it stay an inch within the boundaries of the edge. Fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, followed by the right side over the whole of the filling. Then roll towards the left side to finish off. Place the filled crepe into your baking dish. Continue this process until you have filled all of your crepes or until you mixture runs out. 
  7. Spread any remaining sauce over the top of the crepes followed by the cheese and bake in a 180C oven for 10-15 mins or until the top is golden. 
BON APPETIT

Saturday, 10 May 2014

My Summer Salad - Pomegranate & Feta

All I want in summer is fresh fruit and fresh food, I have no cravings for a warm Sunday Roast or even a comforting pasta. If you're slowly succumbing to the summer heat like myself and need something cold and crisp to refresh your body, here is the perfect way.


I love the little bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate, silky smooth feta, the richness of avocado and the crispness of the banana chips in this salad, for me it sums up summer dining perfectly. A perfect treat for balmy nights! Here is the recipe -

Ingredients:
  • 1 packet fresh rucola 
  • 1/2 of a large pomegranate
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • 1/3 c sweetened banana chips
  • 8 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  1. Prepare and portion out your pomegranate. To get the fruit out of the pomegranate, cut the fruit in half (width way, don't cut from the top core to the bottom) then using the back of a dessert spoon, hit the outside skin of the pomegranate over a bowl and the fruit will fall out.
  2. Make your dressing by mixing the balsamic vinegar with the brown sugar. Allow it to rest for at least 30 mins before making the salad. 
  3. Make a bed of 3/4 of your rinsed rucola on a large serving dish and over the top, crumble half of your cheese, pomegranate and banana chips. 
  4. Sprinkle over the remaining rucola, followed by the rest of your banana chips, feta and pomegranate. 
  5. Slice your avocado into chunks and place on top of salad. Drizzle over the dressing and serve immediately. 

Notes: Feel free to use balsamic reduction in place of the salad dressing above, it may be a little thicker but the taste will be great. Also if you cant get pomegranate where you are, you can replace it with any sweet/tart fruit, strawberries would work really well with the balsamic vinegar. 






Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Energy Smoothie


For the past few weeks my husband and I have attempted to clean up our terrible diet of too many biscuits with tea and too many visits to our favourite burger restaurants. He has been a lot better than me, in the past week I have almost finished a 30pc box of my favourite dates (chocolate covered and caramel filled!) and can't seem to go a day without salted crisps. Although, I am quite happy to say that I have been swimming every second day and have a exercise regime that means I don't necessarily have to go without my favourite foods.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand here is a recipe by my healthy hubby which I thought I'd share with you. It's deliciously thick so it can easily be substituted for your normal breakfast. It keeps him full until lunch time and its packed full of nutrients and good fats. Try and use organic, pure honey if you can get it easily. The health benefits of using pure honey far outweigh those 'fake' bottles you get in the supermarket.

A few tips; if you prefer a sweeter smoothie or if your avocado is lacking taste, you can add more honey. You can also add more milk if you like a thinner consistency. You could also substitute the milk for an alternative such as almond milk or even coconut milk for a deeper flavour.


Ingredients

  • 1 medium size, ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/3C milk

  1. cut your avocado in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon. 
  2. place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. pour into a tall glass and drink up.