Happy Wife, Happy Life…

Over the weekend my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!

Every time I think about it, I have to pinch myself, 40 years… thats a life time.. thats longer than my life time… Mr Lid and I just celebrated 8 months of marriage- my parents have been married 50 times longer than us!

So for such a special occasion we had a family picnic on the beach, not just any beach, it was the beach where we as kids spent most of our summers as it was where my Grandma and Granddad used to live, on the hill over looking the water, it is a place that has such strong memories for me, family, summer, food… Which really made it a lovely afternoon, the kids running in the water and playing in the sand (well crushed up shell), the adults drinking bubbles, catching up and eating way too much food.

For such a relaxed Summers day I thought what better sweet treat for dessert than a Hazelnut meringue.

Light and slightly chewy, smothered with a layer of dark chocolate to give a bit of bite, soft juicy slightly tart Strawberries and lashings of vanilla whipped cream- layer it all together and you have a wonderful dessert to share with friends and family.

Hazelnut Meringue

5 Large Egg Whites at room temperature (I like Free range egg whites)

275g Caster Sugar

2tsp Cornflour

160g Toasted Hazelnuts- (shells removed, cooled, chopped)

Heat oven 120-130c fan forced

Prepare the trays for the meringue before starting- I drew two large rectangles on baking paper to fit my trays, lightly grease trays and place baking paper drawing side down (you will still be able to see the outline- you just wont get pen/pencil in your meringue)

Whisk whites in a large clean dry bowl till firm/stiff peak (when the whisk is removed the whites should stand to a peak without falling over).

One Tablespoon at a time whisk in the sugar, till glossy, when rubbed between two fingers you should no longer feel any graininess of the sugar.

Fold in cornflour and Chopped Hazelnuts till well combined.

Once the meringue is ready divide onto the two paper lined trays and gently push mix to the edges of your drawn outline.

Make sure the meringue is even.

Bake 40 minutes then swap the trays over so that they cook evenly, bake for another 40 min, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly open and leave to cool. I keep my meringues in the oven till I need them- just make sure the kids don’t play with the knobs, or your husband doesn’t try to make you dinner and ruin your meringues!

To finish off my meringues I melted some dark chocolate and covered the two flat sides of the meringue (carefully turn the meringues over, peel off the paper)

Next layer vanilla whipped cream and sliced strawberries (or any berries) carefully place the second meringue chocolate side down on top of the other meringue. Cover the top with more cream and berries and chocolate if you like.

This is great for a crowd or if you are feeling fancy you can make individual meringues and layer them for a amazing dinner party dessert (if making small meringues the cooking time will vary).

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Did you say Avocado?!?

So the Girls are coming for dinner and seeing as it is spring and summer is just around the corner a decadent chocolate dessert may be just what we feel like but not what we need if you catch my drift… so vegan and almost raw it is, and it doesn’t get much better than this. There are a million recipes on the web, this is my version, serve it with some cointreau macerated orange segments for a real doozy of a boozy dessert.

Vegan Orange and Chocolate Mousse

2 Ripe Avocados

3-4Tbs Agave Nectar

2Tbs Homemade Marmalade

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

Blend all ingredients together- if the mousse is too thick add some liquid (rice milk, almond milk or any liquid you like)
Taste- adding more of individual ingredients till you think its the best tasting thing ever.

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If you could eat Debbie Harry… I bet she would taste like this…

Sometimes inspiration is found at the weirdest times…

On Friday we are heading away on a wee holiday, some real relax time before I start back at work the start of September.
Looking through the fridge today I know I have to use up all the odds and ends before we go because our house sitter won’t clean out our fridge- that’s my job – sad face

There has been 3/4 of an avocado just sitting there for around two weeks now- I have tried to entice MrLlid to have it on his toast in the mornings with marmite but alas he is a butter fan…

So again it’s up to me..

Mmm fudgie brownies is what I have a hankering for but alas no dark chocolate in the house- for a change! Typical!

We do however have white chocolate- of which I am not the biggest fan- too sweet… unless… its mixed with peanut butter… Light bulb moment!

Love those!

White chocolate and peanut butter blondies with avocado instead of butter! Drool

White Chocolate & Peanut butter Blondies

125g Coconut Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

100g Mashed Avocado

150g Peanut Butter- I used crunchy

165g/ 1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup

2 Eggs (large)

1tsp Vanilla

100g White Chocolate- cut into chunks

As easy as mixing everything together, putting into a lined 8″ square tray, smoothing out and baking.

170c 25-30min

I melted about 100g of White Chocolate and mixed in 2Tbs Peanut Butter and smeared this over the brownie- yum.

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Better than Bread.

I am unsure of anything that is better than a deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange.

I am sure that a healthy gluten free deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange that uses up last nights cooked Quinoa is better.

Thanks right, its full of good protein, great fats, no gluten or dairy and packed full of flavour!

Quinoa Chocolate and Orange Fudge Cake

2 cups Cooked Quinoa

5 Eggs

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Agave nectar (if you don’t have any use Honey)

1 cup Orange pulp

(left over from making orange juice- or boil whole oranges for 2hours topping up water regularly cool in the water, strain and blend)

1/4 cup coconut oil melted

1/4 cup Rice bran oil (can use Coconut oil instead)

1 cup Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

1Tbs Baking Powder

pinch Salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl till well combined. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake 180c 45-60 min. Best to check after 45min- if skewer is not coming out clean bake for longer- I trust you)

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Almost better than sex

I Love chocolate bars.

In saying that, they hate me, so I never buy them.

Those boxes of bite size bars are fun and a great way to just have a taste, if you can stop at just one.

I have really been enjoying trying out recipes for making chocolate bars at home- healthier versions.

I came across this homemade Twix recipe and WOW I can not stop eating them- although it tastes more like a caramel peanut crunchy chocolaty thing than a Twix.

It keeps great in the freezer- and when eaten frozen it is chewy and wonderful.

Bars of yumness

Base

1/4 cup Rice Syrup (found in a health food store)

2Tbs Peanut butter

1tsp Vanilla essence

Pinch of Salt

1 1/4 cups Puffed Rice Cereal

Mix all the wet ingredients together and heat till it bubbles and is melted together, add the Rice Cereal and mix till well combined.

Tip into a grease proof paper lined tray, with wet hands spread to cover the base of the tray. Put in the freezer to firm up.

Date Caramel

1 1/2 cups Pitted Dates (if hard, cover in hot water till soft then strain)

1Tbs Peanut butter

1Tbs Milk/ or Almond milk (you may need more)

Pinch of Salt

Place all Caramel ingredients in a food processor (or you can use a blend stick) and blend till rather smooth- you may need some more of the milk to help it blend, carefully spread over the base and put back in the freezer.

Chocolate topping

2 Rows of Chocolate (I like to use Dark 72%)

1tsp Melted Coconut oil- optional

Melt on medium power in the microwave till smooth- use the back of a spoon to spread over the Caramel layer.

When the Chocolate is almost set cut into small bars. Store in the freezer and eat, everytime you walk past the freezer.

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http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/25/homemade-crispy-twix-bars/

Mmmm Cheesecake

Everyone loves cheese cake, but to be honest they are a pain to make on a whim to satisfy 3:30itis or when you get a phone call for a last minute catch up with friends.
They almost always call for a dash to the shop to get cream, or a tonne of cream cheese, or biscuits for the base.
So my mission this afternoon, was to make a cheese cake without leaving the house. Mr Lid and I just had a slice after dinner- so it’s quick.
It’s not overly sweet- almost mouse like and it’s delicious! Unlike normal baked cheesecake that leaves you feeling a tiny bit ill, very rich and overindulgent this leaves you wanting more, and then a bit more, and a little bit more after that.

Honeycomb cheesecake

Base
Seeing as I didn’t have a packet of bikkies to crush I improvised with a mix of dried fruit and nuts, anything goes…
50g Desiccated coconut
50g Soft Dates
100g Walnuts
50g Coconut oil
Blend dates, coconut and walnuts- you don’t want this too fine. Melt coconut oil and add to mixer, mix till combined.
Press into lined tin- I used an 8 inch tin.

Filling
Now this may put you off- please don’t let it- make a dry caramel by putting castor sugar into a pan, non stick if you have it. Heat on a medium heat- do not stir, just leave to melt. Once the sugar starts to melt you can move it with a rubber scraper till its all golden- do not stir too much or you will incorporate too much air which will crystalise the sugar.
Once lovely and golden, take off the heat- add some salt and pour onto grease proof paper to cool. Once cold, break up and blitz in a blender to turn it back into sugar. I like to make around 300g caramel sugar at a time, it can be used in so many ways.

150g Salted Caramel sugar

18g Cornflour

250g Cream cheese

155g Sour cream

2 Eggs

125g Milk

55g Coconut oil- melted

Mix together Sugar, cornflour, cream cheese and sour cream- till almost lump-less.

Mix in 1 egg at a time, lastly add the milk and the warm/hot melted coconut oil.

Pour onto prepared base and bake 120c 1hour 30min or until when wobbled the middle is almost set.

Leave to cool down then pop in the fridge to firm up before unmoulding and cutting to eat. I made extra caramelised sugar and sprinkled it on top, which made this cheesecake almost creme caramel like.

This cheese cake is like no other, it is rich but not overly sweet due to the caramelised sugar. It is quite lite because of the milk and coconut oil. If you do not have coconut oil you could substitute butter.

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Warm and sticky

Mr Lid has three Dads.

Dad one is his real father.

Dad two is the father who raised him.

Dad three is Dad because he is currently married to Mr Lids Mum.

In all the time I have known Mr Lid I have met Dad one twice- once to say hello, and the second time was at our Wedding. He is a lovely man, very typical kiwi, still in his stubbie shorts sitting in his shed watching sport on T.V drinking beer.

He lives miles away, up the top of New Zealand with his wife (Mr Lids step mum) needless to say Mr Lids family table at the Wedding was Fun Fun Fun.

We are heading up there tomorrow, and in true newly wed fashion I can not turn up empty handed and I have to impress!

There seems to be a bit of a theme with me and baking- I bake not what I want to, but I bake what the ingredients in my house will let me… racking my brain for recipes or going on the net and typing in what I have in the cupboard and adapting/substituting where I can.

Luckily today I could make a recipe I had without changing it too much- it is not the chocolate chip cookies I wanted to make though.. but I am sure this Sticky Date Cake will be sure to blow their socks off!

Sticky Date Pudding Cake

280g Dates

380g Water

1/4tsp Cinnamon

1/4tsp Nutmeg

1/4tsp Ground ginger

1tsp Vanilla essence

Bring to the boil until the water is NEARLY all gone, pour into a big bowl adding…

280g Brown Sugar

90g Butter at room temperature

Mix to combine, next add..

3 Eggs- one at a time mixing well after each addition

Lastly stir in..

280g Self raising flour

1/2tsp Baking soda

You can make this into individual puddings by pouring into dressed molds (by dressed I mean lightly butter and flour the molds) or you can make into a cake.

Bake 170-180c dependent on size you decide to make and what your oven is like, adjust time… small check after 15min, big check after 30-40min

 I would recommend making double the recipe- so you can freeze one cake for when people pop over and you want to impress.

Butterscotch sauce

300g Brown sugar

180g butter

1tsp Vanilla essence

 300g Cream

Put in a big pot and bring everything to the boil- boil 5min.

This will keep in the fridge for at least a week (if you have that much self control) just heat in the microwave and stir well when ready to serve.

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