Thursday, June 28, 2012

Potato Curry

The other day I was very hungry and realised that instead of buying real food during my weekly grocery shop I had primarily bought baking food. My options were limited and I needed a recipe that would make me a proper, yummy meal. I knew that I had potatoes on hand, and leftover coconut cream  in the fridge that needed to be used, so I looked up a recipe for potato curry and found a basic one on the website. And you know what? It was really good! It was also completely mild, it had no heat to it at all, which for me is a good thing, but perhaps others might like to add some chilli powder or something. I had the leftovers cold the next day and if anything, they were even better. The sauce had thickened and become creamier, plus it had soaked right into the rice. So here is a yummy, filling, vegetarian meal that is easy and quick to make - perfect for the middle of the week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Zealand Lamingtons

Lamingtons were first thought up in Australia, where cubes of sponge cake are rolled in raspberry jelly and then coconut. In New Zealand we have those, but we also have our own take on lamingtons, which are chocolate flavoured! They are so nice, my pictures really don't do them justice (largely because my sponge was way too flat) but they are really worth trying. Sponge is brought to a whole new level when it is rolled in chocolate icing, coated in coconut, split in half and smothered with cream. Especially if you jazz it up like I did, by making it an orange chocolate lamington. However, making the sponge cake flavoured means that you have to make your own and it is far easier, and more successful, to just buy a plain one. That's the way we would usually do it at home, especially seeing as you don't actually want to use fresh sponge for this but day-old sponge, because fresh, home-made sponge is too soft. Store-bought sponge is always a bit dryer so is perfect for making delicious lamingtons with!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quinoa Salad

Now that summer has arrive it is time to eat more salad. Although looking out the window today makes me want to go home and make soup. This salad, however, could be eaten hot or cold so even on a nasty rainy day like today it will make a good meal. Quinoa is a great food to cook with - it is incredibly easy to prepare, it's versatile and it's really good for you! It's a seed so it's a protein source and not a carb, and has all of the essential amino acids. Plus it's yummy. This salad is based on a recipe that I saw on another blog but you don't really need a recipe to make a quinoa salad. You could just cook quinoa according to the packet directions and toss it together with salad vegetables and some sort of vinaigrette. My own version below is not really anything like the recipe that I based it on, it's more like a brand new recipe, and it was really yummy so I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cherries and Almonds

Today is the 3rd Thursday of the month, which means it's improv challenge day! The thing that I really like about this challenge is that I'm allowed to just make something up. Using other blog recipes is great too, because you come across all sorts of imaginative things, and I often sort of cheat with the other challenge by taking a recipe and completely changing it to make it my own. But luckily for this one I'm allowed to just make things up. The subject this month was cherries and almonds and for once I decided to not even attempt to create something sweet. I've gone with a salad, because a bit of fruit and some crunchy nuts always makes a salad better.

This particular salad also features quinoa for protein, some tangy feta cheese and spinach leaves, which are full of really good stuff like iron and folate. It is simple to make, it is really good to eat warm and it is just as good to eat cold the next day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

So I have continued my goal to cook and eat more fish by trying my hand at cooking salmon. It turned out really well! Except that salmon is an awfully fishy fish - I think I like white fish better. Not to mention that the salmon steaks have lots of little bones in them! I will get some sort of fillet next time. I have to try salmon at least one more time because I have a recipe for rhubarb salmon. For now though, this sweet and salty recipe is a keeper even if salmon is not my favourite type of fish. Although I'm not sure that I should really be jumping on the fish bandwagon, seeing as I know how ecologically unstable a lot of fish populations are these days, what with our indiscriminate overfishing and all. You can get your omega from other sources. But then again, it's there in the supermarket anyway - somebody needs to eat it, right?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Berry Avocado Smoothie

After the crazy cooking smoothie challenge I am left with extra smoothie recipes- the ones that were good but not awesome enough to be chosen. This recipe is one of those - an avocado smoothie that is full of berries and other healthy stuff, from a blog called Cara's Cravings. My own version is a little different, modified to include what I had or could easily purchase. I've jumped on the milled-seed bandwagon but instead of hemp I have a mixture of flaxseed, almonds and brazil nuts. It was expensive but if I only use a tablespoon or so a day it will surely last for ages. Instead of just milk I have added some yoghurt, because smoothies should have yoghurt, and I have a freezer full of frozen bananas so I am adding them to all my smoothies. This smoothie was a little tart and tasted most strongly of berries - using frozen fruit is perfect for an icy smoothie on a hot day but if it's not so hot I would recommend fresh fruit instead!

Friday, June 15, 2012

If you like Pina Coladas...

Something very random happened in my blogging life the other day. I was given an award! The Kreativ Blogger Award!
But I had no idea what this award was. I googled it and it turns out that it's sort of like a chain letter thing - a blogger in Norway created it and now it has spread around the world. I was given it by a blogger named Alana at All Is Amazing - she reads my blog and leaves a lot of comments which is awesome. The rules are that now, after thanking her, I must tell you 7 things about myself and then nominate another 7 bloggers. And then, because it is for creativity, I am going to give you a creative recipe! My most recent cupcake invention, in fact - pina colada cupcakes!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Creamy Chicken Alfredo

Sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day at work is imagining what I will be eating when I get home. This meal came at the end of one of those days. I saw it on a blog-hop and placed it in my huge list of things I would like to make one day. Generally, if involves pasta and cream it goes on my list. Especially on awful rainy days. This recipe for light chicken zucchini alfredo popped up when I was thinking about making and Alfredo pasta sauce, but before I could go ahead with this recipe I had to try my hand at a more traditional Alfredo recipe. Which I did. Then I was free to turn it into something else. I adapted the recipe to work with I had on hand, which was chicken, courgettes, evaporated milk and parmesan cheese. The picture that went with the original recipe looked more delicious than mine - there's just something about fettuccine that looks extra-delicious. Spaghetti doesn't quite cut it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chicken Roulades

Because I am mostly feeding only myself I find that sometimes I forget to eat properly. There is nobody else to please so I will just have whatever I feel like and assume that it is enough. However, sometimes I get carried away with baking and eat too many sweet things, which leaves me not at all hungry for real food. Other times I eat a largely vegetarian diet, which can be very filling, but vegetables are often quite low on calories. When I find that I no longer have the energy to go for a proper run I look back on what I have been eating and realise that it has not been enough, so for at least a week or so I try really hard to have a more balanced diet. That is where this recipe comes in. I decided that I probably need more protein and there was chicken on special at the supermarket. Stuffed chicken breasts are always really yummy (even more so when you call them something fancy like roulades), but I often leave them for a treat because they just seem to be more time consuming (they aren't really). I saw this recipe on a blog and now that I have realised that asparagus is not a gross, scary vegetable but actually quite nice I definitely had to try this. The original recipe was for chicken roulades with asparagus, brie and honey but I did not have brie and don't eat a lot of cheese anyway. My version with cream cheese was still very good and I even went to the trouble of flattening the chicken breasts for once, so that it would roll more easily. I had forgotten how good honey and mustard were together - I added it to my mashed sweet potato too and it was so yummy! I really recommend trying this out the next time you want to impress somebody (or just treat yourself like I did).

Asparagus Chicken Roulades

4 chicken breasts
2 bunches asparagus
Cream Cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Wholegrain mustard
Salt and Pepper

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Pound each chicken breast flat by placing it between two layers of clingfilm and bashing it with a rolling pin. It doesn't have to be too flat, just flat enough that it can roll around some asparagus.

Take each piece of chicken and spread with cream cheese and crushed garlic. If your asparagus is small then use it as is, but if it is very chunky you might want to slice it up a little, like I have done with mine. Then lay a few pieces of asparagus on each chicken breast. Drizzle about a teaspoon of honey over each and then grate some parmesan over top.

Roll each piece of chicken up and use toothpicks or skewers to hold them in place. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper to season them.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Brown the chicken on all sides, then place them in a casserole dish. In a small bowl whisk together about 4 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard and pour this over the chicken, leaving a little aside to add to the chicken as you serve it.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. I served mine with mashed sweet potato and carrot, plus the rest of the asparagus, sliced up and sauteed slowly with onion, so that the onion was sort of caramelised. It was so good that I ate way too much and could barely move for the rest of the evening. I will definitely be making these again!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healthy Chocolate Thickshakes

When I first joined the Crazy Cooking Challenge I had to find a recipe for the ultimate chocolate cake, which was a great challenge and really popular. Blueberry muffins were quite good too and I'm gutted that I missed the chocolate chip cookie challenge. This month, however, the challenge is fruit smoothies and it doesn't actually involve cooking or baking at all, which I was quite disappointed about and I was going to just skip it. Then I decided that if I could find a good, interesting recipe I would give it a try, because I get really hungry throughout the day at work so perhaps a smoothie for breakfast would help. I just wish I had a good blender. I had a look around blog land and didn't really see anything that looked overly amazing, so again I was thinking that maybe I just wouldn't bother. But then they had avocados on sale at the supermarket, only 39 cents each, which is really cheap! I brought some and left them on the bench to ripen, but then I didn't know what to do with them. So I went to google and looked for avocado smoothie recipes and I found some! It turns out that avocado is great in smoothies, it makes them really thick and creamy. However, when it comes right down to it, while smoothies are yummy, they're just not that exciting. Plus I find too much fruit a bit overwhelming so by the time I am halfway through a smoothie I am a bit sick of it. You know what is far more exciting than a fruit smoothie? Chocolate. How could I make this challenge all about chocolate? Well, the first avocado smoothie I tried featured avocado, a frozen banana and an attempt at healthy chocolate mousse that never set (recipe coming soon). It was so good, like a really thick chocolate milkshake. Yet it had avocado and banana, so it was a fruit smoothie, right? Then I saw this blog post by This Chick Cooks for chocolate pudding made with avocado and it looked amazing. And chocolate pudding is pretty much a really thick chocolate milkshake, right? So here it is, my take on the ultimate fruit smoothie, disguised as a chocolate thickshake!

Chocolate Avocado Thickshake
adapted from Chocolate Avocado Pudding

1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar (the original recipe called for maple syrup but I had none)
1 ripe banana (this is my own addition, as I thought it needed more flavour. Maple syrup probably would have provided that flavour though)
1 1/2 cups milk

So like all other smoothies this is pretty simple.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or in a large jug if you are using a hand blender. If you want an icy smoothie use frozen banana and avocado instead of fresh.

Blend until smooth.

Divide into two glasses and drink.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pasta Alfredo

Awhile ago I was scrolling through the recipes on a blog-hop as I do whenever I am bored (and hungry) and I saw a recipe for chicken and courgette fettuccine Alfredo. I wanted to make it, but I also wanted to make a real fettuccine Alfredo. I know that the carbonara I make is not quite traditional and I intend to remedy that the next time I feel like a fatty meal, but for the Alfredo I figured that first I would make it the traditional way and then the next time I would make a creamy version. Because it turns out that the first fettuccine Alfredo was just butter, parmesan, salt and pepper on hot pasta. It doesn't really sound like a sauce at all but I tried it and it was so good! It was also really fast to make. I had it with green vegetables sauteed in garlic and butter - hopefully the wholegrain pasta and piles of vegetables counteracted all that butter and cheese.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Roast Vegetable Salad

Here in Ireland it suddenly seems like summer really is on it's way - we've had warm weather all week and the sky is no longer in a constant state of cloudiness. Such nice weather makes makes me want lighter meals,  like salads that are filling and have a bit of everything. But at the same time, I really love roasting winter vegetables like potatoes and pumpkin and sweet potato. This salad combines both, my roast veges of choice being sweet potato, butternut and mushroom, but you could definitely use your imagination. The vegetables are paired with baby spinach because it just seems to have a bit more substance than lettuce leaves. Finally, the addition of nuts adds some crunch and some protein.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

These cookies are my newest invention. I have wanted to make pumpkin cookies for ages and have saved one last batch of frozen pumpkin puree especially for them. I've seen a few recipes around but I wanted to make up my own, yet at the same time I wanted to make perfect cookies first time around. So I based this recipe on Mystery Cookies, because they have a lot of liquid ingredients but still have a good texture. The first time that I ever tried pumpkin pie I was amazed and I loved it - I want these cookies to be just like that. To be honest, it turns out that nothing quite compares to a good pumpkin pie, but these cookies were still really good.