August 26, 2012

Lemon and White Chocolate Shortbread

I entered the housing market almost four years ago.  At 23 I did the scary (and not so popular thing for my age) house purchase.  I lived first with a friend, and then by myself.  Soon I will be giving up that ‘freedom’.  No longer will I have the private time to do those girly maintenance things that you wouldn’t be caught dead doing in front of a boy.  Who knows how I will deal with it, but I know that living on my own has been awesome, but the next stage of my life will be even better!

I love my house, I do, but there are so many things I want to change, and up until now, I’ve never had the funds to actually do anything (er-hrmm..  pro’s to being made redundant shining through).  This morning I went and officially planned my new kitchen.  I am excited beyond words.  Here’s why…

My current kitchen.  Well, it’s pale green and beige.  The green laminate bench top is stained, chipped, and peeling off.  The cabinets, draws and panty, gross.  Laminate is peeling everywhere!  My oven, oh my god..  whenever I write a baking recipe you might notice I have a variant of 10 – 30 minutes in baking times – that’s cos my oven takes forever to cook something!  Stovetop = rank.  Floors, even more rank.  Sink.  Not going to talk about it.  It’s bad.  I hate it.  And I seriously cannot wait to take a sledgehammer to it.  Now that’s exciting!

It’s going to be a slow process cos I’m actually going to build the kitchen myself (yeah, I know).  But it should be fun!

I leave you here with a delicious little shortbread recipe.  I initially wanted to make earl grey and lemon shortbread, but last minute decided to divide the dough and make some with white chocolate - so much yummier!  These are great little biscuits to have lying around, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  They last really well too, becoming softer the longer you leave them.

1 cup (225g) butter, softened
¾ cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 cups plain flour
1 cup white choc chips (mini ones if you can get a hold of them)
Icing sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, cream the butter and lemon zest.  Add the vanilla and icing sugar and continue beating.  Add the flour and salt and beat gently, until the mixture resembles crumbles.  Add the choc chips, mix well, then pour the mixture onto a clean surface.  With your hands, bring the dough together until you have a nice firm disc.  Cover the dough with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  You can either roll the dough into small golf ball size balls and flatten, or you can roll the dough out and use a cookie cutter.  If you have large choc chips, I advise rolling into balls as I found it difficult to get the cookie cutter through the chips.

Place the biscuits on a tray and bake for 20 minutes or until they form a very slight golden tinge.

Allow to cool on a baking tray before dusting with icing sugar.

Makes around 40 mini shortbread.

August 12, 2012

Pea and Ham Soup

I find that I’m constantly book-marking recipes, making lists, saving webpages.  And then forgetting about them.  It’s a bad habit I have.  To be honest, I have the worst short-term memory.  I need to constantly make little notes to myself in order to get things done.  It’s frustrating, but sometimes I find it humorous – at least I’m aware of it!

When it comes to seasonal cooking I tend to want to make things for winter when it’s summer, and summer things when it’s winter.  I have so many recipes put aside for peach / apricot / plum desserts, but it’s not stone fruit season.  I book-marked all these winter recipes months ago, that only now have found.  Pea and ham soup was one of them.

I’ve always been a fan of this soup, but never made it myself.  I came across this one in the slow food annual cook book from Gourmet Traveller.  The recipe is so simple and there are few ingredients – my type of recipe!  I altered the recipe slightly as my pot wouldn't fit 4 litres of water.  But I found that with less water is a thicker soup, which I like.  You can adjust the water amount to how you like it.

40g butter
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ham hocks (1.5kg total)
2 – 3 litres of water
500g dried split green peas
400g frozen green peas
Salt and pepper

In a large pot over a medium heat, add the butter, a splash of olive oil, and the chopped onion and garlic.  Saute for 10 minutes until soft.  Add the ham hocks and top up the pot with water (around 2-3 litres).  Simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours until ham hock meat is tender.

Remove the ham hocks and set aside to cool slightly.  Shread the meat and discard the bones and fat.

Add the dired split peas to the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, or until soft.  Add the frozen peas and cook for a further 5 minutes.  When soft, puree the soup in batches.  Taste and add salt accordingly.

To serve, pour the soup into bowl, add the shredded meat and some fresh peas.

Serves 6.

August 4, 2012

Oats and Almond Milk Muesli

I’m not a big breakfast eater, as I may have mentioned in previous posts.  I don’t know, when I get up during the week, I prefer to hit snooze 15 times (literally too, my boyfriend gets irritated by this) than get up, make a healthy breakfast and then get ready.  In my head I think “hrrmm sleep in an extra 15 minutes or make breakfast??”.  Sleep wins every time.

I know I should eat breakfast.  On those odd occasions that I do, I usually feel better.  To try and overcome this I have bought cereal, taken it into work and ate it at my desk.  Seeing I can’t really do this anymore, I have found another solution.

A couple of weeks ago my wonderful friend Anj made breakfast for me for my birthday.  Well, when I got to her house it turns out her mum had cooked, and put on a feast!  We started with this oat dish that after one mouthful I knew this was my new breakfast.  It was so yummy and slightly sweet, only from honey and almond milk, and healthy that it was ideal!

Lorraine, Anj’s mum had put this little beauty up on her blog, so after getting a hold of the recipe I made it one night, left it in the fridge overnight, and since then have been eating it every morning. 

You can mix it up, add different nuts and dried fruit.  You could add some flaxseeds to the mix to make it super healthy!  Actually, I’m going to add that to my next batch.

It lasts the week in the fridge, and makes around 8 – 10 servings.  You don’t need a big serving cos this guy fills you up quickly!

3 cups plain oats
1 cup shredded coconut
3 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Serve with
A large spoonful of Greek yoghurt
Dried almonds
Dried cranberries
Drizzle of honey
Sliced banana

In a large container with a lid, add the oats, coconut, almond milk, honey, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Give it a really good stir so all ingredients are well combined.  Place the lid on and leave in the fridge overnight.  

When serving, add about one cup of the muesli to a bowl, and top with your favourite healthy toppings, be it banana, dried fruit, nuts, honey and flaxseeds.

Serves 8 - 10.
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