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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Muesli bars are so last year…

Well we are about half way through Sober September. You can look at it one of two ways… we have around 15 days to go… or we have successfully detoxed for 15 days.. the good ol’ glass half empty or full.

It is amazing how much money we have saved over the last three weeks! I have been making a big pot of vegetable soup for Mr Lid to take to work instead of popping down to the shop to buy a salad or a sandwich usually ending up in  quick $15 spent without the bat of an eyelid.

We face a few challenges this weekend with Mr Lid away for a night on a work conference (poor man, with all that temptation of a breakfast buffet, fancy dinner and free alcohol) We have a mates 30th on the weekend which is dinner and drinks then a catch up Lunch with friends to round out the weekend… sometimes it is easier to hide away but man does it get boring! Don’t get me wrong I love spending time with Mr Lid I also like to talk to other people too!

One thing I find hard about detox is when the clock hits 3:30 in the afternoon, the dreaded three thirtyitis sets in and sugar cravings start, day dreams of chocolate and naughtyness.. mmmm

But I have made the yummest bar of goodness that is chocolaty and jam packed full flavour and it keeps you full till dinner time- and to make it even better (how can it get better I hear you say?!) it is naturally sweetened, gluten free, vegan and oh so goooood

Energy bars

2 cups Dates (chopped)

1/2 cup Prunes

1 1/2 cups Water

Bring above ingredients to a simmer in a pot till the water is almost gone and the fruit is mushy, you can use the mix like this or blend till smooth.

1 cup Ground Almonds

1 cup Raw Cashew nuts (roughly chopped)

1 cup Desiccated Coconut

1 cup Mixed Seeds (Sesame, Pumpkin, Sunflower)

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries (or diced Apricots)

3/4 cup Cocoa Powder

Put everything in a bowl and mix. Add Date and prune mix to the bowl and mix well- you can knead with your hands if easier.

Put into a paper lined tray and press down till flat and even. Leave to set in the fridge. Cut and eat. You could also roll into truffel sized balls and roll in coconut for a snack on the go or to have for a more fancy afternoon tea.

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Everyone loves a good strapping…

Family is very important to me, and so are Birthdays, who doesn’t love a day dedicated solely to them?!

Growing up my Mother has made sure that we are always surrounded by Family, and Birthdays always had a big deal made about them, a party for friends and then a gathering of the Family, this is definitely something I want to carry on with, with Mr Lid.

The other day was my Mums Birthday, and it broke my heart to know how much she misses her Family, with only a Brother left who now lives in Australia with his lovely wife and Awesome kids, we miss them so much. It kinda makes special occasions bitter sweet, but with a little extra effort the day can be wonderful.

My mother has never been much of a foodie, she loves wine and cigarettes leaving food to take a back seat… In saying that she loves to graze, crackers here, gherkin with cheese there, salad, toast, eggs she loves eggs!

So when it came to mums birthday having brunch followed by afternoon tea was obviously the right decision.

So that is what we did, afternoon tea full of her favourite things- cheese scones, a selection of egg and cheese and onion finger sandwiches, peanut brownies, cupcakes for the kids and a black liquorice toffee for the adults all washed down with a glass of bubbles- perfect!

I looked long and hard for ages to find a home made recipe for liquorice- surprisingly it is not a thing many people make at home- it is a bit of an effort but for the last week I have been unable to walk past the container without breaking off a piece of tooth shattering salty black beauty…

Black Liquorice straps

120g Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
½ cup Dark corn syrup
½ cup Sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup Blackstrap molasses
⅛ tsp Salt
¾ cup Plain flour
1½ tbs Anise extract
1½ tsp Black food coloring

Line a square baking dish with parchment- I lightly sprayed mine with cooking spray.

Bring butter, sugar, syrup, milk, molasses, and salt to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer until temperature reaches 130c.

Remove from heat and stir in flour, extract, and coloring; pour into pan. Chill until firm, 30–45 minutes.

Invert onto a cutting board, peel of paper, and cut into thin ropes; twist to shape. Place on baking sheets; chill 20–30 minutes until set.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Homemade-Black-Licorice

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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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/

Pucker up

I thought I might do some nice baking for Mr Lid. So I asked what his favourite was, seeing as he is not the biggest sweet tooth I was not surprised by his answer. Lemon slice.

Well he didn’t specify lemon slice- he just said ‘something with lemon’ gee oh so helpful!

So my mission today was to make my darling husband a healthy Lemon slice, coconut flour instead of regular flour, coconut oil instead of butter and honey instead of sugar- the result is an amazingly tart Lemon slice that is to die for. With subtle hints of coconut that goes so well with lemon, and honey… yum fresh honey- no sore throats in this house!

Lemon Slice

Base:

2Tbs Coconut oil melted

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

2 Eggs

1Tbs Honey

Pinch of Salt

Mix everything together in a mixer or by hand- just make sure there are no lumps in the coconut flour.

Press into a small square tin lined with baking paper.

Bake 10min at 180c

While the base is baking start the curd.

Lemon & Honey Curd:

4 Eggs

1/4 cup Honey- you can add more if you want a sweeter curd

Zest 1 Lemon

1/2cup Lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)

6Tbs melted Coconut oil

1/2 Sheet leaf gelatine- soaked in cold water

Put Lemon juice and coconut oil in a pot and bring to a simmer.

While it is heating up whisk remaining ingredients together.

Once Lemon juice mix has started to simmer whisk in egg mix- continue whisking till the mix thickens and bubbles.

Taste- add more honey if needed. Stir in soaked gelatine till dissolved.

Pour onto Base and let set.

(I like sheet gelatine but you could use 1tsp powdered gelatine if you like.)

This is a great Lemon curd recipe, just omit the gelatine and pour into a sterile jar ready to eat on toast, or for a dip with fruit, or just with a spoon.

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This is a lovely site I found the Lemon curd recipe on…

 http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/05/tangy-lemon-curd-honey-sweetened-and-dairy-free.html

Just like crack cocaine

So I have a friend, she came to work with me to help out one day and I accidentally introduced her to something I shouldn’t have, she got addicted, she got it bad, craving every waking moment, begging to get a fix, she resorted to blackmail and bribery- anything she could do to get the next hit… How was I to know she would fall so bad for balsamic caramelised walnuts…

Actually I do know, they are crunchy, kinda sweet, salty, sorta vinegary, nutty little mouthfuls that are great on their own with a beer, yummy in a summer salad of nectarines and blue cheese or on a cheese board…

Balsamic caramelised walnuts

Walnuts (70g)
Brown sugar (1/3 cup)
Balsamic vinegar (1Tbs)

Toast walnuts in oven. While they are toasting heat sugar and vinegar in a pan (non stick- but I mean good non stick is awesome for caramel)
Heat caramel, testing by dropping in a glass of cold water or dripping onto a cold plate- you want The caramel to set firm.
When caramel is ready mix in nuts and stir to coat nuts. Pour onto grease proof paper, separate nuts with a couple of spoons as it will be hot hot hot. Lightly salt and eat… All of them.

Balsamic caramelised Walnuts