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Broccoli & Cheese Party Snacks

Now, I understand that broccoli is not necessarily something you think of when someone says “party snacks”, but trust me, these are yummy and a good dish to have if you are serving vegetarians (and don’t want to give them the same boring old hard-boiled eggs or carrot-sticks-with-dip type scenario).  Easy to make and easy to eat – what could be better?  Serve with a nice, rich tomato sauce for dipping.  Yum!

Ingredients

400g broccoli florets (blanched for 1 minute in boiling water and chopped finely)

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (but any cheese that you can grate would be fine)

3 spring onions, finely chopped

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1 egg white

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix all of the above together in a large bowl until well combined.  I actually cheated and bunged the cheese, bread and spring onions all into a food processor so I didn’t have to grate and chop, but either way is fine 🙂  Take spoonfuls of mixture and form into ovals, roughly the size of two walnuts (hope that makes sense – I couldn’t think of anything else to compare them to!).  Bake on a tray in the oven at 200 c for approximately 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.  They should be nice and golden and holding their shape.  You could easily make them larger and flatter, to form a burger, if you wanted to perhaps serve them as a meal for dinner with a salad or other accompaniment.

Give them a try – they’re tasty and almost healthy (if you don’t think about the cheese!).  They actually have an almost meaty taste so your non-vego friends will like them too (and if they don’t, too bad – more for me!).

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

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Cauliflower and Feta Fritters

Everyone is so into cauliflower right now.  It seems everywhere I look there’s cauliflower rice, pizza bases made with cauliflower, and cauliflower mash to replace the good old potato variety.  I have a slight issue with this humble brassica – it gives me tummy ache – and I have to be very careful about eating it.  Sometimes I can have it and it causes no problems but, other times, it KILLS ME and leaves me writhing about in agony wishing for death.  It’s not pretty.
That said, I have been craving some cauliflower action for the last few weeks and thought I would give it a gentle try.  My renal diet is so restrictive and I am always looking for fruit and veg alternatives to give me some variety.  So, I made these fritters.  I was bad and fried them (I never fry anything) because the batter was fairly wet, but I used only a spray of oil.  They cooked super quickly and were easy to flip etc.  Very tasty indeed.  And only a slight tummy ache afterwards (note to self : give up on cauliflower!) which was totally worth it, and may not have even been related…  Try them for yourself – you could substitute any vegies into the basic batter mix, which is what I’m going to do next time for a more
pain-free meal! 🙂

Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

Ingredients

salt & pepper
olive oil
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into small florets

2 eggs
½ cup wholemeal flour
¼ cup milk
1/2 cup crumbed feta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp dried parsley

Method

Spread the florets of cauliflower out on a baking tray.  Drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper (don’t go overboard with the salt – the feta has plenty in it). Bake in oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, until cauliflower is starting to char and become soft.  Remove from oven and allow to cool down.  Tip onto a chopping board and roughly chop.

Combine other ingredients in a large bowl and add cauliflower to form a batter. Mix well.

Heat a fry pan and spray with a little cooking oil.  Drop  spoonfuls of mixture onto fry pan and fry on both sides until firm and golden brown (this takes only a few minutes).  Place on kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with wedges of lime or some salsa or anything you like!  This recipe makes about 12 small-medium fritters.

Enjoy!

PS If you happen to be photographing your culinary efforts, I strongly recommend paying close attention to what you’re doing.  This way, you don’t trip over and throw the entire plate of fritters all over your freshly-mopped floor, like I did.  You wouldn’t know it from the photo, but my fritters were thrown far and wide across my lounge room in a spectacular display of clumsiness.  See?  It’s the cauliflower…it hates me 🙂

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Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

We had a morning tea at work this week, to farewell one of our longest-serving staff members.  For twenty three years TM has worked diligently and cheerfully, always going the extra mile and making sure everything and everyone is organised and looked after.  I have only been at the organisation for just over three years, but in that time she has been such a support to me and I will miss her terribly.  I don’t even want to think about her not being there when I arrive in the mornings.  The place will seem very empty without her presence – even on the days she’s not there, she’s still THERE, you know?

So, as is mandatory for all morning teas, cakes, biscuits, quiches and slices were baked and brought in for everyone to share.  I made my Date & Almond Slice, and also tried a new recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, which I hadn’t made before.  They turned out really well.  Very moist and moreish and easy to make.  Everyone enjoyed them so I am glad I tried something new, and will make them again.  I tend to make things I shouldn’t really eat (ie things with chocolate or nuts in) – my theory being that I won’t indulge too much myself.  This is a fallacy.  I eat half the batter before it even goes in the tin and then keep taste-testing the baked product.  Pathetic.  I’m sure my kidneys hate me.

Anyway, the brownies were delicious – I did modify the original recipe slightly as I felt it had too much sugar in it (I left out about a 1/3 cup from the chocolate batter, but I am giving you the original amounts here).  The recipe comes from Baking Bites – a lovely foody blog with lots of yummy recipes, baking advice, kitchen gadgets and more.
Please do visit their site – you’ll find lots of inspiration 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

Brownie Batter
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Batter
8-oz ricotta cheese (I used smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with baking paper.
Prepare brownie batter: In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until well-incorporated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in flour and salt, mixing until ingredients are just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and set aside.

Prepare cheesecake batter: In a medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A sharp knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into small squares (or large squares if you’re a piggy ha ha)

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Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Enjoy!

And to TM, I say a fond farewell – you will be missed more than I can say x

Polenta Chips

Polenta Chips

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I tried a new recipe for dinner last night – Polenta Chips!  Ok, so it’s not a new recipe – every trendy restaurant and pub is making them these days – but I haven’t made them before, not being a polenta fan usually ( I think I just have had some so-so ones in the past).  Anyway, I am always looking for something I can have other than chips as I am not supposed to have a lot of potato (including sweet potato – ahh! So unfair!) because of my renal issues.  I don’t have chips very often, obviously, but it would be nice to have another alternative that is tasty and not too unhealthy.

I found this recipe in a free magazine (you know the ones you get at the supermarket when you’re at the checkout?) and thought I would give it a go.  Seemed simple enough and didn’t have any difficult-to-get ingredients.  The results were delicious and moreish and I will definitely make them again.  In fact, I have a gathering at my house in a couple of weeks (a video night with friends), so I might make these again then.  Share the love! 🙂 Basic Polenta Chips (serves 4 as a side dish)

2 cups stock (I used vegetable)
1 Cup instant polenta
20g butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan

Method : Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan then add polenta, stirring briskly to prevent lumps.  Take off the heat, add butter and cheese – stir until smooth.  Mixture will thicken and be quite firm.  Turn out into a 20cm square baking pan lined with baking paper.  Smooth top down to make it nice and even and flat if possible.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

When cold and firm, cut polenta into “chips”.  Season with salt and pepper if you like (the stock I used had plenty of flavour so I didn’t need any extra seasoning). Fry in a pan with a little oil until golden on all sides.  Serve!

I don’t fry anything if I can help it so I actually did mine in the oven – baked at about 200 c for 40 minutes or so – which of course takes longer but gives a nice crispy finish and less guilt ha ha.

Give them a go – really easy, very delicious and not expensive either.  Next time I am going to add some herbs and maybe a little paprika or chilli to the basic mixture, just to add some extra flavour and oomph.  But you can dress them up or down in any way you like 🙂

PS As per usual, I took bad photos in the equally bad light of the kitchen.  This one is the best of the bunch.

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Pineapple Cup Cakes

Pineapple Cup Cakes

It’s been a rough day.  Very, very busy, lots to do, not enough time in which to do it and lots of outside stresses knocking at the door.  I have nothing really to complain about – it was just one of those days where you seem to be talking to everyone through gritted teeth and wishing they would all just leave you alone.  Not their fault at all really.  I am worrying and fretting about a few things at the moment and my patience with everything and everyone (especially myself) is wearing very thin and my ability to cope with “normal” everyday stuff didn’t quite make the party today.

Speaking of parties, tomorrow we have a couple of events at work : one, a combined birthday morning tea for everyone in the building who has celebrated their birthdays this month, and two, an afternoon baby shower for one of our lovely ladies who is expecting her third bub very soon.  There is some doubt as to whether the guest of honour will be there – she hasn’t been too well this week – but we will go ahead with the preparations in the hope she is well enough to join us for a little while.

We’ve all been asked to bring a plate, so I have made some little pineapple cup cakes.  I haven’t made them before, at least not with this recipe, and I’m not convinced of their flavour and over-all finish but they will have to do!  Nothing bakes very well in my horrible oven so there is always the problem of cooking things without under-or-over-cooking them. Anyway, I hope these are ok and that people like them (I’m hoping the cute polka-dot cupcake papers disguises any less-than-perfect taste or texture).

Pineapple Cup Cakes

1 Cup Plain Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2/3 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Egg, beaten lightly
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Cup Tinned Pineapple – diced or crushed (and drained of liquid)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (you’re probably supposed to sieve the flour and baking powder…I couldn’t find my sieve so I had to leave out that step!)

Make a well in the centre and whisk in the egg, milk and oil until just combined.  Add the pineapple and mix through gently.

Divide mixture into patty pans, muffin cups or whatever you want to use.  My mixture made about 14 medium sized cupcakes.
Bake at 180 C for approx 20-25 minutes.  Leave to cool before frosting if you like.

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Now it’s time for bed and my kitchen looks like something exploded in it and I have neither the energy nor the inclination to do anything about it.  It’s late and if I want to get up in time for work tomorrow, which I do – despite the thought of staying in bed seeming much more tempting – I had better ignore the mess and get myself off to the Land of Nod.  The chaos will still be there in the morning – I might as well add my breakfast dishes to it!

Hope your day has been happy 🙂

Make your own Muesli Bars

Make your own Muesli Bars

Before I begin this recipe, I should warn you, the pictures ain’t pretty.  I always start these projects at some ridiculous time of night when lighting is bad and, well, my skills as a photographer fail me.  So you’ll have to squint your eyes and make believe they look gorgeous. And anyway, who ever saw a pretty muesli bar (or granola bar as they call them in the States.  I think)?

Muesli Bar Recipe

 

Now, muesli bars, however you make them, are hardly what you’d call a healthy treat.  Sure, the food companies who make them like to market them as healthy, but really, who are they kidding?  They have fat and sugar and lots of other things in them that nature probably didn’t intend for us to eat.  The best you can do, I figure,  is to try and find the ones with the least amount of preservatives and nasty chemicals.  So, ideally, make your own, so you know what’s going in them.  Here’s an easy recipe you can make in no time and add whatever tasty ingredients you like to the basic mix.  There’s lots of energy in these bars so they’re good for kids on the go!

200g Dairy free spread (I used a sunflower-oil margarine)

100g Maple Syrup

100g Soft brown sugar

325g Porridge oats (I actually use a mixture of multigrain quick oats & regular rolled oats)

 

1. Melt the margarine with the sugar and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over a low heat, until sugar is dissolved.

2. Stir in the oats until all combined.

3. Press into a shallow baking tin (lined with baking paper) and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes then mark into squares or “bars”.  Leave to cool completely in tin and then break up into your pre-cut pieces.  Store in an air tight container.

For variety you can add dried fruit or nuts, coconut or chocolate chips to the mix.  Or, if you’re feeling decadent, coat the bottom in chocolate, or drizzle some over the top…maybe sprinkle on some sesame seeds…depends on how healthy/unhealthy you wanna be!

Enjoy!

 

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Red Bean Anpan

Red Bean Anpan

My hubby had a film night to go to this weekend just gone.  He and a group of friends get together each month to watch a couple of movies at one person’s house.  Hubby decided to bake some Japanese Anpan for everyone to try.  I don’t normally like anpan, but the ones he made were delicious and I could possibly be converted…  Hubby is a wonder when it comes to breads and doughs.  Mine tend to come out tough or don’t rise or just look wrong.  His are light and golden and perfect (damn him!).

In this instance he filled the buns with sweetened red bean paste (he said it was too sweet, I thought it was ok…) and they were all gobbled up pretty quickly by the people at the movie night.  You can also fill them with chestnut filling, white bean or other things…I’d be voting for Nutella myself!  If I was allowed it…

So, on to the recipe…the one hubby used this time came from Mamaloli.com  and it gives step by step instructions with pictures to help you along.  Hubby couldn’t be bothered using dough hooks in a mixing machine (mainly because we haven’t unpacked those yet…) so he just did it by hand, stirring and mixing that way.  He also didn’t have black sesame seeds to decorate the top with so he just went with the olive oil glaze.  Try it for yourself if you’ve not had anpan before.  Mamaloli.com has lots of other yummy recipes to try so check it out if you want some culinary inspiration!

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Not sure why we are both on a bit of a Japanese-themed cooking phase at the moment…  I just borrowed a book on Scandinavian baking, called, strangely enough, “Scandilicious Baking” by Signe Johansen, so there might be a few tasty treats coming out of that one soon.    Stay tuned!