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Mixed Berry Muffins

31 Jan

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You know those moments when you feel like baking (or, let’s be honest, eating) something sweet, but you REALLY can’t be bothered making (and cleaning up) a mess? A one bowl wonder is the way to go.

I like these muffins because they are quick, easy and a “one bowl wonder”. They freeze well too and can be brought back to warm-and-tasty-life in a microwave without problems. So they are great to bake when you are just in the mood to do so, and then freeze for later on, say for when people are popping over and there is nothing in the house to offer them.

These muffins work great with whatever berries you have handy. I used blueberries and raspberries this time because that’s what was in the freezer. I add frozen berries to my regular shop for these moments.

This recipe is from Australian Woman’s Weekly: BAKE

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Beetroot and Feta Dip

6 Jan

Dip it! Yeah, Dip it Good! 🙂

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I’ve never liked Beetroot, for various reasons, one being that I have probably only ever been exposed to tinned beets, but more probably because my Mum doesn’t like it. Isn’t that so the way as we grow up? 🙂

But there were fresh beetroots at my Farmers Markets and I thought, “Come on, Sam. You are old enough to give it a go.” And so I did. I admitted cluelessness to the man at the stall, and he said that I could also use the leaves for salads, which I did – and they were ok; peppery like rocket.

But my plan was to make dip, and it went really well, so here we go.

What’s the deal?

Wrap fresh, real (not tinned), uncooked beets in aluminum foil, putting a little water inside each package. Pop them on a tray, also covered in foil, as they leak a bit and (as I discovered) create a sticky mess. Into the oven they go at 180 – 200 degrees for at least an hour and a half. Turns out, beets are surprisingly slow to cook (who knew?), so you need to think ahead a bit for this one.

I used 4 beets and this made twice as much as I really needed. I think I would halve this recipe next time.

Allow the beets to cool down a bit and then blend them in your blender. Add 200 grams of Feta Cheese, and blend it all together. It becomes this beautiful purple/pink colour. So lush. Season to taste, salt, pepper etc.  You’re done! Dip in with fresh bread and raw veggies! 🙂

A Few Notes:

  • There are versions of this recipe that bake the beets with oil and salt and pepper and herbs – I haven’t tried it, although it sounds delicious. The way I am explaining here (above) worked perfectly well, and lead to a very tasty dip.
  • These are the two Farmers Markets I shop at in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, NSW. They are both excellent and worth a visit.
  • My husband says I am a Feta snob. 🙂 I am ok with that, you can really, REALLY taste the difference. I’m not into advertising, but I have tried a lot of Feta and these days I only use Dodoni Feta. It is the only one (easily available in supermarkets in my world) that is amazing. It looks like this, keep an eye out for it and if you have it, spend the few extra dollars sometime to try it:

dodoni

A Seasonal Note: Beetroot is pretty much in season all year round in Australia! 🙂 Yay Beetroot!

Summer Fruit Blendies!

23 Dec

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It’s hot here. Like, I mean it is really hot. Summer has arrived and for me that means it’s Fruit Blendies (smoothie) time. The “Boost Juice” places that are around are so yum, there is no denying that – but do you know why? Its called sugar, people. 🙂 The one thing my dentist really tells me to avoid is those places. Sigh and sadface, Mr Dentist. But never fear, and alternative is here! Have a go at these two blendies. Less sugar than those places, and full on delicious anyway.

In both cases add all ingredients to a blender. Blend. Pour. Drink. Enjoy.

Recipe 1 – What you need:
1 mango
1/2 banana
1/2 lime (juice of)
Handful of berries (whatever you have)
2 mint leaves (I use more, but I like mint)
Handful of ice
1 cup of milk (can leave this out if you would rather dairy free.)

or/

Recipe 2 (Dairy Free) – What you need:
1/2 banana
1 orange (juice of)
2 strawberries
2 mint leaves
6 blueberries
Handful of watermelon chunks (remove seeds)
1/2 slice of pineapple or wedge of rock melon
Handful of ice

Yummo! Obviously these blendies can be made year round, but summer fruits actually being in season at the moment is too good an opportunity to miss! 🙂

There are heaps of idea for these drinks out there. If you have a tried and tested one, share it with us in the comments below. 🙂

Pete’s Potato Wedges

20 Nov

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Looking for something new to do to spice up your roast potatoes?

What’s in it?

  • Potatoes cut into wedge shaped pieces

PLUS

  • Fresh Rosemary from your garden 😉 – chopped finely
  • A clove of garlic – chopped finely
  • Cumin (whole seeds or ground is fine. We use either, depending on what is in the house.)
  • Tonight we also added Cajun Pepper too, just to spice it up a bit. You can left this out if you prefer.
  • Sweet Paprika – one teaspoon
  • Olive oil (more than you want to admit to… glug glug glug)
  • salt
  • pepper

Par-boil the cut potatoes in boiling water. We cooked for two people tonight and 8 minutes on the stove did the job. You can of course skip this par-boiling and go ahead and whack them straight in the oven, it just takes longer.

While the potatoes are par-boiling, prepare and mix all the rest of the ingredient in a small bowl. It should be a sloshy liquid, not a paste. See my note about using fresh rosemary here.

Drain the potatoes and let them sit for a bit. All the water needs to evaporate. I like to spread them out over the oven tray to let off some steam in their own space. I’m about to use it (get it dirty) for the baking anyway, so no loss.

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Here is another tip. You already dirtied the saucepan par-boiling the potatoes, so why not use it again now, instead of another mixing bowl. Can you tell I’m not a fan of washing up? 🙂
SO – pop the now “dry” par-boiled potatoes back in the saucepan and pour the liquid spice mixture over the top. Mix together. You can use a spoon, but I find getting in there with your hands gets a better result.

Lay the spiced potatoes out on the same oven tray as before, spreading them out as much as possible. Pour any extra spice mix over the potatoes on the tray.

Cook in the oven until crispy as, bro. 🙂 Yum!

Seasonal Note: There are many varieties of potato that grow throughout the year in Australia. So that’s good news! 🙂 Eat up!

Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

16 Oct

This is one of my fav dips. Awesome on its own, dipping with biscuits, bread or fresh cut veggies. Also great with lamb, kofta, cous cous etc. It is from The Australian Woman’s Weekly Cookbooks: Great Vegetarian Foods.

A tip on straining whey from yogurt:
You know that watery stuff that you get on top of natural yogurt? It needs to be strained before you can use it for dips etc.
I have strained yogurt the “proper” way before, but to be honest usually I don’t bother. I have a lot of food paraphernalia around my house, but seriously, cheese cloth… on hand… all the time? Yeah, that’s not happening.
Here is an alternative method, which works just fine.

Place a smaller strainer (just the kind you would drain pasta in, or wash small veggies or herbs) over a bowl. Make sure it can balance there on its own. Line the strainer with about 4 layers of good quality paper kitchen towel. Dump the yoghurt onto the paper. Place the whole “thing” into the fridge. The paper and bowl will draw out/catch excess whey from the yogurt, making a thicker, more delicious end product. 20121103-233713.jpgLeave it in the fridge for a few hours at least, but over night is ideal. You can loosely cover the whole thing in glad wrap, I suppose, if that’s your sort of thing.

Make this dip at least one day before you want to eat it. It gives all the ingredients time to make friends and invade one another’s personal taste space. 🙂

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Mum’s Hommous

16 Oct

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I make this one, it is never as good as my Mum’s.

FACT: My Mum makes gosh darn good hommous.

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What’s in it?

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, save half the juice from the tin
  • 3/4 cup of tahini
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • “a glug” (dollop, sloosh etc) of olive oil.
  • chilli to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender, or food processor and blend the bergebers out of it. Then blend it some more. Then blend it a little more, for good luck. You want it to be as smooth and silky as possible.

I like to sprinkle a little cayenne pepper over it, once it is presented. But this is just a personal preference. Parsley is good too. Fresh flat bread (Lebanese bread probably if you’re buying it) is a necessity here.

Fabulous Fruit

9 Oct

I find it heaps easier to remember to eat fruit if it’s cut up and looking ridiculously stunning.

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Sure, I could present it in a beautiful white bowl, with some natural yogurt and honey in the background (YUM btw), but that’s not what this blog is about. It is about me, at 6am, making my lunch for work and thinking, “Gosh, that is just too easy (and delicious!) not to share!” That’s all.

What’s in it?

  • An orange (segmented)
  • A handful of blueberries
  • Half a punnet of strawberries (halved with their greens removed)
  • A few mint leaves from the garden thrown in at the last minute.

Just you try NOT (healthily) snacking on that all day, I dare ya! 🙂

Seasonal Note: While different varieties of oranges are available throughout the year (Navel in the warmer months and Valencia in the cooler), in Australia blueberries and strawberries are only in season in Summer. That’s December, January, February. Just something for us all to keep in mind. 😉

Apple Streusel Muffins

7 Oct

These are one of my favourite muffins, and they look and taste fancy, without a lot of work.

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Some notes on this recipe:

  • I have made these with tinned apple, and it was fine, but I have always used fresh green apples since, and you can really tell the difference. If I have them in the house, I use fresh.
  • I also often substitute some of the apple weight for berries (apples and fresh blueberries has been our latest fav combo).
  • Usually there is more streusel mix than you can use. I freeze the rest for next time. There is always a next time with these. 🙂

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I don’t claim to be making these recipes up. Simply enjoying the fruits (pun intended) of the labours of people who actually know what they are doing.

This is one from The Australian Woman’s Weekly Cookbooks: BAKE.

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Seasonal Note: In Australia apples are in season in Autumn. That’s March, April, May, while blueberries are in season in Summer. That’s December, January, February. Just something for us all to keep in mind. 😉

Museli should be toasted – got that?

7 Oct

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My fav way to start the day (or finish the day, or spend the day) is in the sun, with a pot of tea and a bowl of this – my homemade toasted muesli. I like it with natural yoghurt, honey and fruit. It’s really filling and really good for you. I have tried really hard to like the soggy so called “trendy” bircher muesli that circulates in cafes, but I just can’t enjoy it. I like my muesli to go *crunch munch munch crunch mmmmm* True story.

This one sorta actually kind of IS my recipe. It is a combination of various other toasted muesli and “granola” recipes that I have read, and it’s also inspired by a Low GI muesli recipe that a friend gave me. Over the years it really has become a “whatever is in the cupboard becomes that week’s muesli” situation.

What’s in it?

You can use a combination of any of the below. The apple juice and the oats are kind of the backbone though. Obviously if you add ALL the fruit options it is much sweeter than just one or two of them. Each to their own though, you might really like dried fruit.

  • 3 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of oat bran (I have also used “bran” cereal plenty of times too)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (100 grams each) of any of the following nuts: hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup (each) of any of the following seeds: flax seed (or linseed), pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, sesame seeds, pepitas
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 1 cup (each) of any of the following dried fruits: apple, cranberries, mulberries, sultanas… any fruit you want really. 🙂

Mix all the dry ingredients, except the fruit, together in a bowl. Spread out over a baking tray. Pour the juice over the entire tray and stir through. Bake for 40 mins at 160 degrees. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and stir through to get rid of the lumps. Don’t let it burn. There is no saving it once it tastes like burnt grossness.

You can add the fruit in at the very end while the muesli is cooling, or you can add it in for the last “10 minute baking block” if you prefer them a little toasted.

Serve with natural yoghurt, honey and fresh (or thawed, frozen) fruit. You could use milk instead of the yogurt, if that is your sort of thing.

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Salmon crisps

29 Apr

I made these for my sister in laws kitchen tea. It was a delightful high tea, and these fitted in perfectly. They were quick to make, and delicious (at first). Sadly, they went soggy over time though. Any suggestions for me, for next time?

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