Bits and Pieces

I hate it when you have people over for a BBQ and there isn’t any room in the fridge for a big salad, yet you don’t want to make it and leave it out at room temp on a stinking hot day, and you also don’t want to miss out on having a cold drink with your guests because you are stuck in the kitchen making the salad.
What to do!? What to do?!

Or coming home from a long day at work and having to pull everything out of the fridge to make that salad you crave?
Yet a pre made salad never lasts more than a day- wilted lettuce, soggy tomato.. What to do?! What to do?!

Make a bag of bits.
Easy!

I like to cut all the goodies that go in my favourite green salad, keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge, all ready to be layered with the greenery of choice to make a fresh, crisp, delish salad…

Ideas for bits:
Radish
Cucumber
Courgette
Capsicum
Spring onion or red onion
Tasty cheese (feta is a bit too soft for this- but easy to add after)
Mung beans
Whole cherry tomatoes (cut tomatoes are too messy- best to add later)
Carrot
Raw broccoli or cauliflower
Just to name a few!!Cut everything into salad size pieces, put in a plastic bag, mix around and keep in the fridge till you want to make your salad. All you need to do is layer the bits with your favorite greens- or not- after all the bits are the well best bits 🙂

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Keep calm and Curry on…

The thing I love about making salads is that they are quick, fresh, filling, easy, a great way to use up anything in you pantry/fridge and there are no right or wrong ways! Salads are wonderful for anytime of the day and if there are left overs its even better.

They are a great way to experiment with new ingredients as you can add to them playing with flavours and textures.

There is something about a curried Kumara salad that makes my mouth water, I like to add lots of dried fruits and spices that marry perfectly with the sweetness of the Kumara, eaten warm or cold this is wonderful as a side dish at a BBQ or as a quick lunch, even in a sandwich with some leftover corned beef, chicken or haloumi.

Curried Kumara Salad

Red Kumara (boiled or roasted- depends if you like it a little crunchy or soft and creamy)

Red Capsicum- diced

Sultanas/Raisins

Dried Apricots diced

(I also like diced Dates)

Celery- diced leaves and all

Spring Onion

Baby Spinach- to serve

Dice Kumara and either roast or boil making sure you season with salt and pepper either way.

Cut up remaining ingredients and add to cooked Kumara. I like to leave the spinach out till I serve it otherwise it tends to go a bit soggy. This is also yum with a handful of toasted walnuts/ pumpkin seeds.

(Bacon would also be AMAZING in this salad)

Curried Mayonaise Dressing

Mayonnaise

Lemon Juice

Turmeric

Ground Cumin

Ground Coriander

Pinch of Cayenne pepper

Ground Ginger

Crushed Garlic

You can use your favourite curry spice blend or you can add equal quantities of the spices above.

Add around 1/4tsp of each spice to 1cup mayonnaise (adding more if needed to balance flavours- I like a bit more Cumin and ginger)

Add remaining ingredients and season to taste.

Mix dressing into the salad ingredients and leave flavours to mingle for a bit in the fridge.

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Warm you from the inside

Spring has sprung down here in the Southern Hemisphere. The days are getting longer and the sun is warming up.

Although the other day I was enjoying the beautiful Vitamin D on the deck when BAM the sun disappeared and it was freezing.

Sometimes I wish I could have my own little sun shining down on me like it does on the comics… alas no such luck.

To me Spring is the time to start eating for summer- you know when your meals get lighter and healthier in preparation for that Summer wardrobe.

But when it is cold and Wintry and you are torn between the seasons what is a better way to warm you up than a curry?

But not just any old curry a Detox curry that is tasty and warms the cockles of your heart but isn’t full of creamy coconut. Trust me its yum- and you can add anything you like..

Detox Vegetable Curry

1tsp Ground Coriander

1 1/2tsp Ground Cumin

1 1/2tsp Garam Masala

1 1/2tsp Fennel Seeds

1 1/2tsp Curry Powder

Small knob of Ginger

1 Clove Garlic

Onion

1Tbs Tomato paste

1 Large Tomato

Blend Onion, garlic and ginger into a paste. Add to a pan with some oil and the spices- cook out till mix starts to brown and dry out.

Add tomato paste and cook till it caramelises- add diced tomato.

Add water (about 2 cups) and turn onto a low heat- at this stage add vegetables- anything and everything- its a great way to empty the fridge of straggly vegetables.

I added carrots, parsnips, leek and kumara.

Put on lid and let simmer till cooked.

before the veg are almost cooked- I like to add peas and  I had some broccoli. Add these last as to not over cook.

The Photo does not look glamorous or styalised- but it does look hearty, comforting and heart warming…

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And I’m Spent… Grain

Over the weekend Mr Lid had his first attempt at a full brew of beer, this meant several hours of crafting equipment needed to extract malt sugars from a selection of grains for his beer instead of buying it in a tin and adding to water.

Long story short we were left with what is called spent grains. For anyone reading this who is not an all-grain brewer, spent brewers grains are the residue left after the sugar has been removed from the grains in the wort-making process. This is almost always malted barley, but can also include corn, wheat, rice, or other cereals. It consists primarily of grain husks, pericarp, and fragments of endosperm, and mainly consists of proteins and carbohydrates.

This stuff is great for compost, or making dog biscuits- but seeing as we have three cats and not dogs I wanted to find another way of using up this stuff.

After googling ‘spent grains’ I found a million recipes for bread, but over the weekend while Mr Lid was brewing I was baking bread and I was over the kneading and eating of the stuff!

I had a play and ended up with these most yummy things…

Apricot and white chocolate cookies- full of grains there keep you full for HOURS.

Spent grain ANZAC cookies

I also mixed some into a tomato pasta sauce I had made to use as a meat substitute for Lasagna- it was hearty and oh so filling!

Apricot & White Chocolate Cookies

1/3 cup Peanut butter

2 Tbs Oil

3/4 cup Golden syrup

1/3 cup Milk

1 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 cups Spent Grains or Cooked Quinoa

2 cups Flour

1tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1/2cup Dried Apricots (you can use anything)

100g White Chcolate (2 rows, you can use dark choc, nuts more fruit)

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Form tablespoons of the mix into balls and place on a grease proof paper lined tray.

Bake 200c 15-20min till slightly golden, cool on wire rack.

These are yummy and very filling- great for the kids lunch boxes!

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Spent Grain ANZAC cookies

190g Spent Grains

125g Flour

115g Desiccated Coconut

200g Brown Sugar

60g Golden Syrup

125g Butter

1tsp Baking Soda

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt butter and golden syrup in the microwave. Mix golden syrup mixture with dry ingredients.

I like to bake in a tray at 140c for 40min, then I cut it into fingers and turn over to caramelise other side for another 30min, cool on wire rack.

You can bake as round cookies 140c 40min (they do spread)

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Its no Bula…

So it is almost back to work time for me- it has been a wonderful three months writing and sharing my passion for good old home style cooking!

Mr Lid and I are off on well deserved Holiday this week, and rather than spend my days writing the blog I will be drinking cocktails and eating as much raw fish as I can stomach!

Have NO FEAR tho- seeing as I knew I would be heading away I have come up with this post. It is long and for four different recipes- they are super easy and oh so yum. You can choose to read this all at once… or split it up over the week… or read it EVERYDAY! I hope you enjoy this as much as I had fun making all these dishes…

I hate getting stuck in a rut. Some times I find that if I have the same ingredients in the fridge I find myself automatically making the same thing week in week out. Which is frustrating if someone in the family likes but does not love this particular dish.

I also find that if you make too much of said same old dish the left overs are never eaten with such enthusiasm as they should be.

What if I told you I have a great combination of items that you can make many a meal out of. All of them different.

All you need to do is make a big batch, split it into however many of the following dishes you want to make and viola you have made several different meals out of one base dish.

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Spinach, pumpkin & Two cheeses

Pumpkin- Diced and roasted

Spinach- Fresh or Frozen (if frozen defrost and squeeze out the excess water)

Equal quantities Cream cheese & Cottage cheese

Pinch Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

Mix everything together- season to taste and eat!

You can add some chilli, paprika, fried onion, garlic… anything you like.

Seriously I love this stuff cold, hot, warm, on a cracker or transformed into the following dishes…

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Fritters

Take some mix

Add Egg and mix well.

You can add cumin or other spices to your desired taste.

Fry till golden on both sides and finish in the oven till firm.

These are great as a lunch, or as a canape for a party- just garnish with more cream cheese or sour cream

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Mix

Mushroom

Simple really- stuff the mushroom with some of the mix, you can top with some tasty cheese if you like.

Bake in the oven till top is golden and the mushroom is soft.

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Meatballs with a spiced Carrot and Tomato sauce

Beef Mince

Mix

Cumin, Ground Coriander, Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

(I would have added some Cinnamon if I remembered to buy some)

Fry a little mix in a pan to test the seasoning.

Roll into balls and pop in the fridge till the sauce is ready.

Carrot & Tomato Sauce

Grated Carrot

Grated Celery

Grated Onion

Grated Garlic

Tinned Tomato (chopped)

Tomato paste

Smoked Paprika, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Nutmeg/Cinnamon

In a splash of oil fry the grated vegetables and spices, once soft and fragrant add the tomato paste and cook out- about 5 min. Next add the tinned tomato, cinnamon quill and a splash of water.

Taste, checking seasoning- might need a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity in the tomatoes.

Next pop in the meat balls and cover with a lid. On a medium- low heat cook for about 40min turning meatballs every so often.

If sauce is getting too thick add more liquid- either stock or water, if its getting too watery take the lid off and let reduce.

Serve with couscous and cheese. I made cauliflower rice which is a great way not to have carbs.

Cauliflower Rice

Head of Cauliflower grated

Steam your grated cauliflower with, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of water with the lid on for a few minutes, until the

cauliflower is tender but not soft. Drain any excess water and taste for seasoning. You can add a little bit of oil or butter.

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Vegetarian Lasagne

Make your favourite tomato sauce add cooked Quinoa to make the meaty layer, use the pumpkin spinach mix to form the white layer. Layer as you would a lasagne- red, pasta, white, pasta, red etc- cover with grated cheese and parmesan and bake.

I cover mine with paper and then tin foil, Bake at 180c 30min uncover and bake another 30min till golden and bubbly.

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Are you are a dunker, or not?

On a cold afternoon sitting at home drinking a warm cup of tea is almost perfect. Almost.

Whether you are a dunker or not a cup of tea and a bikkie  go together like a match made in heaven.

Although packet biscuits are full of processed sugars and cannot compare to home baking.

What is better than home baking, that uses up leftovers from dinner the night before?! NOTHING!

As a twist on the classic ANZAC biscuit using a mixture of cooked Quinoa, Coconut oil and Almond meal make these biscuits chewy, nutty and almost good for you.

Quinoa & Almond cookies

100g Cooked Quinoa- cooled

70g Flour

70g Almond meal

100g Brown Sugar

30g Golden syrup

60g Coconut oil

1/2tsp Baking Soda

Mix all dry ingredients together. Heat Coconut oil and golden syrup till melted. Mix golden syrup mix with dry ingredients till combined.

Drop spoonfuls on a lined baking tray spaced far apart- as these spread- alot.

Bake in a preheated oven 140c for 40min till golden. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack.

I had none at home but if you substituted a gluten free flour blend for the flour these would be gluten free.

Eat wrapped in a blanket on the couch with a hot cup of tea.

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I am entering this in Sweet New Zealand which is just something I stumbled across and think is a great idea!

This month it is hosted by Sweet and Brains a lovely blog which can be found here- http://sweetsandbrains.wordpress.com/

 http://sweetsandbrains.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/sweet-new-zealand-25/

Wish me luck!!

Hash cake- the other kind.

Making something yum out of leftovers is so satisfying, I have said it before. Last nights leftovers are no exception and the dish I am going to make is great for any time of day, especially brunch.

Super quick and delicious corned beef hash cakes served with a soft poached egg, its golden heart oozing bringing a richness to the dish.

Corned beef hash cake

Last nights leftover cooked corned beef shredded

Finely sliced spring onion

I also added some brussel sprouts, you could also add cabbage or any other greens you like.

Potato- semi cooked and grated- I love Agria potatoes.

When cooking the potato make sure they are dry and not too wet- cook by putting the whole potato in the oven or microwave- if boiling, once the water is strained off leave to steam to dry out a bit.

Mustard to taste- you could use relish or mayonnaise – any flavour you like

(you could add cheese if you like)

Salt and Pepper

Combine everything in a bowl and mix well- form into patties (I use a ring cutter to help shape the cakes) pressing together firmly.

Let sit in the fridge till ready to cook.

In a pan or on the BBQ melt a knob of butter over a medium/low heat as you want to brown each side slowly so that the center gets hot- or you could brown each side and finish in the oven. Be careful with these as they could fall apart- if they are very crumbly you can bind the mix with an egg.

I am serving these with a soft poached egg and some brussel sprout slaw- finely slice the raw brussel sprouts, add dried sour cherries and toasted almonds- mix with dressing of your choice- I am using a balsamic honey and mustard dressing.

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