Do check out my new blog "Claire's Party Supplies". From now on all party supplies and current offers and discounts will be featured here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SRC: Strawberry Oat Smoothie

This month for my SRC reveal, I was assigned Leslie's blog, La Cocina de Leslie. If you haven't visited her blog yet, let me ask to go over right now and check it out. Don't worry, this post will still be here when you get back. I was amazed at the collection of delicious recipes on her blog. I found myself drooling at all the Mexican fare on her blog. I can't wait to try a few of them out. The way things worked for me was there were a few things at play - work is super busy at the moment, that coupled with the usual chores at home, I haven't have the time to stop and breathe. At the same time, the weather has warmed up quite a bit at the moment. We seem to have jumped from winter to summer in about a week. I would've liked a longer Spring. But this means we have lots of delicious berries to work with. I needed something yummy and quick to make. So when I saw Leslie's post on Strawberry Oat Smoothies, I knew I had to try it.

Usually my husband is the one who whips up the smoothies in our house. I have also consciously started taking some juice or a homemade smoothie to work over the last couple of weeks. Its been a nice change and has helped me lay off the coffee and give me a burst of energy that I need. I just made a couple of changes to the recipe for this smoothie like leaving out the cinnamon and I also cut down the honey to half. You could adjust the sweetness to your liking. I would like to try it soon with the cinnamon and see how that turns out. Let me tell you a little about this smoothie. Even though it didnt have any cream, yogurt, ice cream or avocado, it turned out nice and creamy and that was a pleasant surprise. I reckon I have the oats to thank for that. They also give the smoothie good substance and a glass of this great stuff will keep you going for a while. I have a punnet of blueberries that I will use to make another batch of these smoothies. Thanks Leslie for introducing me to a great new twist on the smoothie. :)




Strawberry Oat Smoothie
(Makes 2)

1 1/2 cup cold milk
12-15 strawberries
4 tbsp. dry oats
2 tbsp. honey

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree till smooth.

Pour out into a glass and enjoy!!!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

SRC: Coconut Pie

What a crazy month it has been! My last post was for last months SRC reveal. Heaven only knows where the whole month went. I can't complain though, its been busy with work as well I have a new project in the pipeline that I am so very excited about. I can't wait to share more about that soon. Stay tuned!!!

Today, I'm very excited to share with you the recipe I picked and recreated for the reveal. I was assigned Ilona's Kitchen. I was excited when I learned I was paired with this wonderful blog and on spending some time going through the wonderful recipes here, I wasn't disappointed. Ilona's blog is choc full of yummy recipes. She has a ton of citrus desserts. I love citrus desserts and I have a few of her recipes earmarked to make soon. But when I saw her post on a coconut pie, I was sold. I love coconut in all its many forms in chutneys, coconut based curries, in my veggies and of course in the sweet form. If you love a Bounty bar or a Cherry Ripe (minus the cherry, of course), you will love this. This recipe reminded me of a Goan recipe for coconut cake, which I happen to love and will share on this blog soon. I stuck to the recipe but just made one little change, it wasn't a choice, but a little bit of a necessity. You see I thought I had some frozen shortcrust pastry in the freezer, but it turned out I didn't. I did however have some puff pastry and decided to give it a go and see what happened. Oh and I used unsweetened desiccated coconut, because no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find the sweetened version.

With the ingredients on hand, this pie is a dream to put together. It is simple and quick with no fussy process involved. Of course, I could barely wait for this to cool. I didn't get a picture of a cut piece of this pie. But it was so very good. The pastry was flaky and crispy and the filling was just right. Using the unsweetened desiccated coconut worked well and the filling wasn't cloyingly sweet. My husband really liked the pie, but he didn't care for my puff pastry base and I agree. The next time I make this, it will have a homemade shortcrust pastry base.

If you'd like to make your pastry from scratch, you can refer to my shortcrust pastry recipe here.



Coconut Pie

For the filling - 

1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essense
1 tsp white vinegar

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl till frothy.

Add the sugar and stir well.

Add the melted butter and stir to incorporate.

Add the vanilla and vinegar and stir well.

Add the coconut and stir till well incorporated.

Here's what it looks like just before going into the oven


For the pie - 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the pastry in a pie dish and pour the filling in the unbaked pie base.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!!!

Notes:
1) I left the edges of the pastry on since it was just for us at home, you could trim the edges if you'd like
2) Also, I think I've let this bake for a couple of minutes more than I should have, so it looks darker than golden brown. We tend to like our pastry a tiny bit over. Feel free to take the pie out of the oven when you are satisfied with the color.



Sunday, August 3, 2014

SRC: Blueberry Muffins

I've just about recovered from a bout of fever, and while the fever seems to have left me, what I seem to be stuck with are the blues. So while I was researching my assigned blog this month, Love and Flour, I came across LeAndra's post on Blueberry Muffins. Oh they looked good! Imaging my surprise when I read her post and realized that she whipped these up on a day when like me, she was a little blue. I loved the idea of the warmth that the ginger and cinnamon added to the recipe. So I decided, then and there, that this was going to be my post for the SRC reveal this month.

Mind you, with a blog like Love and Flour, LeAndra has a ton of recipes that will take you by the hand, lead you to the kitchen and urge you to make them. Before I decided on these muffins, I was considering the Banana Rum Cake, Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Quick Bread, Tiramisu Bread Pudding (I still intend making this soon), or on the savory side this Corn Pudding and these Crab Cakes. I was torn between these choices so I was really glad when the Blueberry Muffins spoke up :)

The muffins were easy to make. The batter came together really quick and then all it took was 20 minutes in the oven. I pretty much stuck to the recipe except for the cinnamon powder. I used it but just reduced the amount compared to what the original recipe called for. I couldn't seem to figure where it went, so I just added it to the sugary topping mix. Another thing I noticed was that the ingredient list had white sugar mentioned twice, I considered that a typo. Also, something I was really excited about was, for a change, I managed to get the actual yield that the recipe suggested. Happy days!!!

On another note, check out these cupcake liners I picked up at the supermarket a couple of days ago. They look like so much fun. I baked the muffins in these liners and I think it would be a fantastic way to add muffins to a kids birthday party dessert spread.



Back to the muffins. These blueberry muffins were amazing. They weren't too sweet, just the way I like it. I loved the flavor that the ginger and cinnamon added. And those bursts of delicious berries with the light crunch of the sugary topping were something else altogether. In all, I'd consider this the perfect muffin. Its everything I look for in a muffin and so much more. Do yourself a favor and make them soon.

And don't forget to hop on over to LeAndra's blog and say Hi.


Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon, divided in half
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients - 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon powder and half the lemon zest.

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients - the flour, brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and 1/2 the zest.

In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - the milk, oil and egg.

Stir in the dry ingredients till combined.

Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tin, filling almost to the top.

Sprinkle with the topping mix.

Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or till a toothpick pierced through the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy!!!



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crusty Italian Bread

I've always been a bread lover. In my book, nothing beats warm bread fresh out of the oven with some butter on top. If like me you like good bread and you ever are in Hong Kong, please stop by this Italian restaurant called Fat Angelo's. The food is phenomenal, but their bread basket is out of this world. I consider their bread, the best I've had till date, ever.

On to my experience baking bread from scratch. In the past, using yeast overwhelmed me. I tried my hand at bread a few times a couple of years ago and each time ended up with blobs of unrisen dough resulting in brick hard bread, no, you could definitely not call that bread. Later on I learned that I wasn't doing anything wrong. Infact, I was using a brand of yeast that was known to fail; only I didn't know that. So if any of you reading this are based in India and have tried baking bread using Bluebird yeast, without much success, you know why. Please change your brand of yeast.

This Crusty Italian Bread is something I am so proud of. Once you get the hang of making bread, its actually a lot of fun and very satisfying to see a beautiful loaf emerge from the oven. The flavor and texture was fantastic. My husband isn't overly fond of bread, but he went back for seconds. He liked this bread so much that he had a slice after dinner with some butter. I was elated. I knew that I had done something right. I can't wait to make this again.




Crusty Italian Bread
Recipe from: Let's Feast

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 heaped tsp instant dry yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the yeast, salt and sugar.

Add the oil and the water and mix it well till the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough well. Add more flour gradually if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough for about 7 minutes. The dough should be well knead, soft and not tacky or sticky.

Smooth it out into a ball and place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Keep the bowl in a warm place for about 60 minutes or until double in size.

Remove the cling film and punch the dough back to knock out the air.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten the dough with your hands. Roll it to form an oval shape. It should be rolled tightly and press the seam well. Repeat the process again. You should end up with an oval loaf with slightly tapered ends. Place it onto a lightly floured board and cover loosely with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven and your baking tray to 220°C.

When the dough is ready to be baked, remove the tray from the oven, sprinkle some semolina and place the loaf of bread over it, to add some crunch to the base.

Using a sharp knife, make a couple of slits on the top of the loaf about 1-2cm deep.

Spray the loaf with water and place it in the oven for 3 minutes. Repeat this step 2 more times, leaving the dough to bake for about 40 minutes after the last spray.

If you think the bread is browning a little to much or too quickly, place some aluminium foil loosely on top.

When the bread is done, take it out of the oven, turn over and tap the base of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done.

Leave the bread on a cooling rack. Once it has cooled, slice and enjoy!!!





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cajun Chicken Wrap

Chicken is a protein that we eat most frequently at home. Whether it is a curry or fried, roasted or in a salad, we love it. What I also love about it is that is easy to prepare and cooks fast. One of many new edible ingredients that I've had access to in the last year is a Cajun spice mix. A lot of the spices I use are Hoyt's including this one.

 
This is the first brand of Cajun Spice that I tried and enjoyed it a lot, so I've just stuck with it. And moreover, it is a 100% Aussie family owned company; I try to buy local whenever possible. I know there are loads of folks who make this blend at home and sometime in the future, I fully intend trying my hand at making it myself. For now, I'll stick with what I have easy access to.

Making Cajun chicken my way, couldn't be easier. I use smaller pieces of boneless chicken. Sometimes I use thigh fillets, other times I use breast fillets. I almost always buy the whole bird and then portion it out and cut it up at home (that is husband's department though). You could use whatever cut you like. Its nice to leave the chicken to marinade for about half an hour, but at times, when I've been pressed for time, I've made it after just 10 minutes and it still turns out pretty good. This is not a recipe as such, more of a guide to some yummy chicken.




Boneless chicken pieces
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
Cajun spice blend, to taste
1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Take off the skin and trim the fat, if any, from the pieces of chicken.

Sprinkle the salt and cajun spice mix over the pieces of chicken. 

Squeeze the sour lime juice over the chicken. I think the lime juice is what brings out the wonderful flavors of the spice blend. Its definitely not the same without the tang from the citrus juice. If you don't have lime juice at hand, you could use lemon juice too, you'll just need to use a little more. 

Toss the pieces well to ensure they are well coated. Rubbing the spices into the pieces of the chicken works really well. Leave the chicken pieces in the spice rub for about half an hour.

Heat the oil in a pan. Carefully place the pieces of chicken in the pan and fry on both sides over medium heat till done. Depending on the number of chicken pieces you are frying, you may need to cook it in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. You may need to use a touch more oil for each batch. (Tip: I start on a slightly higher heat to seal in the juices and then lower the heat to cook it through.) If you have a grill, I'm pretty sure this would taste fantastic grilled too.

You could serve these chicken pieces as they are with a salad for a fantastic quick weeknight meal. Or you could do what I do - cut up the pieces and use them in wraps and take them to work for a great packed lunch option. Here's how a put the wraps together. 



For the Wrap -  

Flour tortillas (I used store bought)
Iceberg lettuce, chopped
Cheese slices, optional
Cajun chicken pieces

Lay the cheese in the middle of the tortilla and place some lettuce on top. 

Top that with the the chunky guacamole and lay the chicken pieces over it.

Carefully, roll the tortilla to make the wrap.

Tip: If I'm eating the wrap straightaway, I warm the tortilla before making the wrap.

Enjoy!!!


** This is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing with you a product I really enjoy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chunky Guacamole

Have I told you about how much I love avocados? Ofcourse not, because before we came to Australia, I'd never tasted one. But when I tried my first one, I was in love. I've had a few avocados since then and have loved every bite. My favorite way to enjoy an avocado is in the form of this simple, yet fresh and vibrant Guacamole. It is a chunky version so its nothing more than chopping up a few veggies, mixing and seasoning them. I can actually eat this by the bowlful. I serve this as a side like a salad, as a dip for some corn chips and so much more. Stay tuned for more.



Chunky Guacamole

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green chilly, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
Sour lime juice, to taste

Mix all the veggies in a bowl, add salt and lime to taste and toss well.

Serve.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

SRC: Fruit & Nut Balls

This month for my SRC reveal, I was assigned one of my long time favorite blogs, Baking and Boys by Katrina. Ever since I started blogging back in September 2010, when I joined some awesome bloggers for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Challenge, I have been a big fan and follower of Katrina's blog. She always, ALWAYS, posts some absolutely delicious treats. Everytime, I visit her blog, I find myself wishing I lived next door to her, that way I might've been able to sample some of them (much easier than making them myself ;) ). She has so many options for Chocolate Chip Cookies, I almost made a batch. But realized that I had just picked up a bag of chocolate chip cookies on impulse just before the assignments got out.

These days, Katrina has made a few dietary changes and I found so many treats on her blog that are healthier than the regular ones but equally delicious. I decided I had to try out one of those. I've been looking out for recipes for little snack like options to take to work. Something no-fuss, tasty and that will keep me going for a while. I found just the thing - her Cranberry Almond Date Balls. These were so simple to put together and super delicious. My husband could not believe that they didn't have a grain of sugar in it. I was really happy that I decided to try these out and I look forward to taking them in to work over the coming week. Thanks Katrina :)

I pretty much stuck to Katrina's recipe and added all the optional add-ins. The only difference being, I used almond meal instead of whole almonds since I had it at hand. Also, instead of mixing the coconut with the rest of the ingredients, I just rolled the little fruit and nut balls in it. I love the fact that these have no sugar in it and everything in it is wholesome. In my books, that makes it a healthy snack. With the cranberry peeking out from under that snowy looking coconut, these remind me of Christmas :)  I think it would look pretty on a platter of Christmas treats. These are slightly on the larger side and are snack sized, but when I make them next, I intend making them a little smaller.




Fruit N Nut Balls

1 cup almond meal
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pitted dates
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
1-2 tbsp desiccated coconut (unsweetened)

Chop up the dates roughly.

Put the dates, cranberries and almond meal into a food processor and blitz till it chops everything up nice and fine and mixes it through.

Add the honey, vanilla and salt and pulse it to bring everything together. At this stage it will start to clump a little.

Add the chocolate chips and pulse it a couple of times to mix it through.

Divide the dough into walnut sized portions and roll to form balls.

Place the coconut in a small bowl or plate and roll the balls in the desiccated coconut.

Leave it to set for a little while. Store in an airtight container.