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Green Bean and Corn Succotash

During the Easter weekend, I spent time with family which, of course, means the over-consumption of food.  Not wanting to contribute to the fat-fest that is Easter (and thus contribute to the size of my thighs) I decided to make some slightly healthier (but also tasty) options for our family gathering.  I quickly made a Tuna Loaf , which everyone always enjoys and, if there’s leftovers, can be eaten the next day and freezes well too.

I then thought about making a salad.  Now, I eat salad pretty much every single day.  Which can get a little bit dull, to be honest.  I didn’t want to make the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato scenario, so I went with this yummy Green Bean and Corn Succotash.  My ex Mother-in-Law used to make this for me whenever we got together for a family event.  It is fresh and vibrant and so colourful.  This isn’t her exact recipe – I haven’t been able to find her original one (which I put somewhere very safe and now, well, you can guess the rest) but it is pretty close and I reckon, with some tweaking, one day I might replicate hers exactly.  In the meantime, I will enjoy some delicious trial and error 🙂

This recipe, below, is adapted from Celebratemag.com

Ingredients

350g green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, diced

3 cups corn kernels (fresh, or frozen, drained and cooled)

1/2 red capsicum, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: parsley, basil, or cilantro

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar (start with 1/2 tsp, then add other half if you think it needs it!)

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook green beans in boiling, salted water until bright green and barely tender, 2 minutes. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well on paper towels.
  2. Sauté diced onions until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, in the 2 tbs olive oil. Transfer to a large bowl, and let cool.
  3. Add corn, beans, capsicum and herbs to onions, tossing to combine;
  4. In a small jar, combine remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, and pepper; cover and shake to blend. Dressing can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, cover, and shake dressing jars to blend; drizzle on salads.

Voila!  Yummy, healthy and a bit of a change from a boring green salad.

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Thank you for popping in 🙂

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Muesli Biscuits

I am a bit of a cereal nut.  I loves me some cereal, any time of day or night.  It is a good standby when the cupboard is otherwise bare and you need something to eat, whether it be for dinner or lunch or, obviously, breakfast.  This week I thought I would branch out of my usual Cheerios or porridge routine and get some muesli.  I chose a low fat one, thinking it would at least be less likely to adhere directly to my thighs.  Alas, it probably contained enough sugar to give half the world diabetes and actually didn’t taste all that good.  So, what to do with a box of muesli you don’t actually want to eat?  Make cookies out of it, of course.  Everything is better if it is cookie-shaped, after all.

So, here is a simple recipe for using up that crummy muesli you don’t like.  I gave these to my little nephews and nieces on the weekend and they gobbled them up.  To be fair, they are not the fussiest of eaters but, still, they ate these happily – even the little one (who is two and very, very aware of what she does and DOES NOT like).

Muesli Biscuits

3 cups muesli
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
100g butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 C

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix butter, honey and egg together until combined.

Mix dry and wet ingredients together.  Set aside for 10 minutes or so.

Roll spoonfuls of mixture together into golfball-sized balls.

Place on baking paper-lined trays and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15-20 mins.  If you have used two trays, swap them around midway through cooking so they bake evenly.

Cool for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack.
If you like, drizzle with a little bit of lemon icing (or leave plain).

That’s pretty much it.  They’re not beauty queens, these bikkies, but they taste alright and they’re a good fibre-rich treat to pop in lunch boxes etc.  You can almost pretend they’re healthy.  Sort of.  And at least you haven’t wasted your muesli! 🙂

Happy Munching x

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Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

This is an easy and delicious dish you can make when you want something pasta-ish (cheesy, saucy) but don’t want pasta.  I don’t eat pasta at all so this recipe is a great substitute when I’m hanging out for some comfort food that won’t give me a tummy ache afterwards.  It’s fairly light, especially if you use low-fat ricotta, and really tasty.

The original recipe called for spinach, but I can’t eat that so I use chopped, cooked kale instead – works exactly the same in this dish.

Ricotta and Kale Gnudi

Ingredients

3/4 cup ricotta, drained
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup cooked kale, drained and chopped very finely
Extra flour for rolling

Method

Couldn’t be easier – just mix all the ingredients together until combined, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls (this is the messy, fiddly bit), roll them in a little flour to prevent sticking, and then drop them into boiling water.  The gnudie will float to the surface when done (approximately 5 minutes or so).

Serve with some tomato sauce and an extra sprinkle of parmesan if you like.  I like a little side salad to go with it (but then I have a little side salad with everything. Here,  I have used rocket because I am obsessed with the stuff) but you could pair it with anything you fancy.

This recipe serves two piggly-wigglies.

Voila!  🙂

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Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

Ah, soup.  I am such a fan.  It is easy to prepare, does not require difficult-to-get ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (depending on the soup).  It’s filling, without being fattening, and can be flavoured and bulked-out with just about anything you have lying around the place.  Just bung it in, blend it up and hey presto! You have soup.  Or some weird-flavoured water (depending on the “anything” you bunged in).

Tonight I had a hankering for corn chowder.  I don’t know why.  It just appeared in my brain and took hold and made me desire its smokey, corny goodness beyond all other food stuffs.  I don’t make it very often.  Pretty much never.  The first time I ever made it was in catering class in high school.  I think I have made it three times in my entire life.  But it’s so yummy!  And filling and satisfying and feels like a meal rather than some sort of dietary punishment.  It never looks very attractive though.  Corn Chowder resembles, at best, dog vomit.  In fact, I hesitated when naming this blog post.  I wanted to call it “Corn Chunder” but I am far too mature for such a title.  I apologise if you are eating right now but, seriously, was there ever a more unattractive looking soup?

So my photo below is another fail.  I’m not even going to bother blaming it on bad lighting (even though the lighting in my kitchen is rubbish).  Let’s just ignore the picture and get on with the taste.  It’s yummy.  Delish. Tasty.

So here’s my recipe.  As always, for all my soup recipes, it is a bit approximate in terms of amounts used.  Again, just bung it in. I have, as is necessary for me, made this vegetarian, but substitute (if you must) real bacon etc.

Corn Chowder 

1 large onion, diced
4 rashers of vegetarian bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 potato, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
375ml can of evaporated milk + 2 canfuls of water – one mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of stock powder + one mixed with flour
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
Chopped parsley

Method

Saute the onion in a bit of oil (I used sunflower) in a large saucepan  until soft.
Add bacon and fry for a minute (don’t let it brown).
Add milk and extra cans of water (with stock and flour).  Bring to a gentle boil (keep your eye on it) and add potato.  Keep stirring – the milk can burn or boil over so keep it simmering rather than rapid boiling.  Keep stirring for about 10 minutes until potato is tender (but not super squishy).  Add corn kernels and chopped parsley.

Continue simmering for about 5 mins.  Take off heat and take out a ladle or two of the chunky bits.  Give the remaining soup a bit of a blend with an upright stick blender (or whatever you have).  Don’t puree it until it’s smooth – this is supposed to be a chunky chowder!  Add the removed ingredients back into the pot and stir.  If it is too thick for your liking, you can add a half-cup of water if you wish.

Serve hot in bowls – garnish with parsley if desired.

Enjoy!  (just don’t look at it and you’ll be fine) 🙂

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Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Firstly, a warning.  The photo below is not good.  It does not look appetising at all.  I apologise.  As per usual, I tried to take a photo at night, in my little kitchen with barely any lighting.  Secondly, I tried to do that cheffy, twisting-the-pasta-around-artfully-on-the-plate kind of thing.  Which, blatantly obviously, did not work.

However, the completed dish was quite tasty and I am glad I broke my almost decade-long boycott on pasta.  I don’t do pasta.  It doesn’t like me and I am not a huge fan of it either.  I haven’t missed it at all since I stopped eating it some ten years or so ago, but tonight I saw this recipe in the magazine Daphne’s Diary and thought I would give it a go.  I like anything with lemon in and, let’s be honest, cheese.  So here’s the recipe (in which I substituted fettuccine for spaghetti and added peas as a way of assuaging my carb guilt):

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Pauline’s Lemon Pasta – Serves 4 

300g spaghetti
1 lemon
1 onion – sliced finely
Half a red chilli – chopped finely, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic – chopped finely
250ml single cream
40g parmesan – grated

Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Method

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan with plenty of salted water. Drain

Fry onion, chilli and garlic gently in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Don’t let onion brown.

Add zest from the lemon and juice of half the lemon.  Stir to combine.

Add the single cream and heat quickly to prevent splitting.  Mine did a wee bit (mostly because I cheated and used milk instead of cream…duh) but came back together once I’d mixed it through.

Add the cooked pasta and stir through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with parmesan and parsley sprinkled on top.  Serve hot.

Oh, and I added the baby peas (cooked) at the end to add some more freshness and colour.

Voila.  Pretty easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different to the usual pasta and tomato-based sauce combo.

I’m still resting at home and trying not to eat everything in sight, but obviously failed tonight.  Sigh.  Will try again tomorrow and only eat things that are green and crispy.

🙂

Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

I have been eating a lot lately.  Bingeing, you might say.  Whether it is to fill an emotional void or just because I am a pig with no self control, I can’t say.  I don’t generally keep “bad” food in the house because I will just eat it.  Rapidly. With no thought to the size of my thighs or any other part of my expanding body.

Today I had my niece’s 1st birthday party to go to.  I was severely hungover (not from alcohol, I don’t drink – it was from some medication I take to ease neck pain and headaches and last night I took a big dose because I just wanted to sleep) and very dopey and unmotivated.  Last night, I had predicted my inevitable last-minute dash to the party, so I had baked some cookies. Easy cookies which take no brain power whatsoever to make.  I added chocolate to the recipe because I am currently also going through some sort of brain fog, whereby I forget that I’m not supposed to eat chocolate (because of my kidneys).  Besides, the cookies were for the party, not strictly for me alone, so I could cheat and eat some batter and pretend it was ok.

The cookies are yummy and turn out really well, even if your oven is rubbish like mine.  The wholegrain porridge oats mean they are super healthy (you can lie to yourself like I did) and should be eaten with abandon.

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Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

150g Self Raising Floour
150g Wholegrain Quick Oats
150g Dark Brown Sugar
150g Butter
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
100g chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
In a saucepan, melt butter, sugar and golden syrup together until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in dry ingredients until all combine. Chocolate will probably melt into mixture but that’s ok!

Spoon mixture onto baking tray and form into rounds.

Bake for approx 20 minutes.  Let cool on trays.  Store in airtight container.

Voila!  Eat and go on a diet tomorrow!

🙂

Raspberry & Pear Loaf (a rewind-post)

Raspberry & Pear Loaf (a rewind-post)

[I found this post in my drafts folder from June…I don’t know why I didn’t publish it at the time…or maybe I did and it just isn’t coming up in my searches.  Weird.  It is quite likely I just didn’t like the photos of the finished loaf so I scrapped the whole thing.  Or I just forgot.  Or some crisis popped up and I lost my brain for a few days.  Who knows?  Anyway, here is a recipe for Raspberry and Pear Loaf.  It was alright from memory :)]

Ahhh…full tummy…can’t move…must digest…

Just got back from a very lovely dinner with some equally lovely friends of mine at one of our favourite restaurants nearby, The Dux.  So delicious.  L, K and I were co-workers for years and have remained good friends – L was actually my boss for quite some time but I think, even from the very start, we were friends and I sort of see her as a second Mum.  We try and catch up every couple of months, either for a lunch or a dinner, or sometimes just a quick coffee (and probably cake – let’s be honest!) and always have a good natter and share all our news and gossip.

We have been to the Dux before (I myself have been there LOTS of times, for breakfast mostly) and love their menu.  We always take forever to decide what to have but usually go for an entree rather than a main, so we can have dessert.  The entrees themselves are pretty substantial and filling enough on their own.  Tonight, K and I had the Caramelised Fig and Persian Feta Tart.  Oh so yummy.  It is served with a green salad and extra bits of feta and caramelised onion.  L had seared scallops which was served on a bed of pulled pork, with julienned pieces of apple.  It looked delicious, even to a non-meat-eater like me.  We also had some dips and different breads and some seasonal steamed veggies to share.  We always say we’re not going to overdo it and then we do anyway ha ha.

We also said we would be good and not get dessert tonight.  Pfft, who were we kidding?!  K and L just had a tiny serving of biscotti and house truffles.  Me, I went the whole hog and got the Peanut Butter Parfait with Salted Caramel Peanuts, Chocolate Sorbet and Goats Milk Yoghurt.  I mean, why wouldn’t you???  I didn’t eat the chocolate sorbet (no choccy for me – it was bad enough I was having peanuts) but the tiny bit I tasted on my spoon was so dark and bitter – it would have been lovely but it was just too much choccy for my little kidney to deal with.  The parfait though – oh Mylanta! – so scrumptious!  It was so yummy – I really just wanted the rest of the room to melt away and leave me and my tastebuds to be alone together.  It was heaven.  And I don’t feel a bit guilty.  Well, maybe a bit but it WAS delicious.  What made the meals even better was that we had a discount card for the restaurant and so we paid a paltry sum for our wonderful meal.  I hadn’t eaten much all day so my tummy was happy (though groaning ever so slightly).

I actually had to go to the dentist again today as my temporary crown had come loose in the night.  It’s been re-cemented on now and will hopefully hold on if I am careful.  Which I thought I had been, as I have been mostly having soft food and soups all week.  Oh well, hopefully my dentist isn’t psychic – he doesn’t need to know about the peanut butter…actually, don’t tell my renal specialist either.

On the weekend, I baked a Raspberry & Pear Loaf to take to my friend CW’s.  My oven is retarded.  I know you’re not supposed to use that word anymore, but, seriously, it is the only word that applies to my oven.  Things that should take 25 minutes (e.g. this loaf) take an hour.  Other things burn in half the time they should have taken to bake.  It’s rubbish.  But I persevere in the hope that I will figure it out one day or find a recipe that corresponds to its perverse and uncooperative nature.
(post script : I just re-read the recipe and it actually says “bake for 1 hour, 25 minutes…” so d’oh!  I am the mentally challenged one here, not my poor oven…)

I took the leftovers to work yesterday and they were gobbled up by everyone.  People said it was nice so I am including the recipe here.  If your oven works like an oven should do, the loaf will probably turn out even better than mine did.  It’s a fairly easy recipe (thanks, Australian Home Beautiful) and makes quite a large loaf.  Give it a try…

Raspberry & Pear Loaf

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
3/4 cup caster sugar
825g can pear halves, drained (juice reserved)
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 160 C.  Grease and line a deep loaf tin with baking paper.
Sift flours and bicarb into a large bowl.  Stir in sugar.  Puree half the pears in 1/2 cup of the reserved juice.
Put pear puree, butter, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in puree mixture until just combined.
Roughly chop remaining pears and stir into batter with raspberries until just combined.
Spoon mixture into loaf tin.  Bake for 1hr and 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
Allow to stand in tin for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Cut into slices whilst still warm and serve with butter if desired.

Voila!

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