Tag Archives: food

Green Tree Cupcakes – Spinach? In a Cake? Really?

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“Interesting.” This descriptor, as you probably all know, is the death toll sound for the experimental baker. It is typically used as a polite, indirect means of letting you know your confections haven’t come out of the oven looking or tasting as pretty as you may have hoped. However, it’s technical dictionary definition is a lot more complimentary to the adventurous amongst us – it’s synonymous with engaging, exciting, attention-catching and mentally pleasing.

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Five Days of Quick, Easy & Amazing: Home Crafted Vegetarian “Fast Food”

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Another ‘normal’ food post – sorry, sugar addicts. I have sweet stuff in the pipeline!  This is a concept I accidentally invented during my undergrad, when I was trying to figure out an easy, cheap but still palatable means of eating well for an entire week, particularly around exam time when it felt like there would be no time for any fun in the kitchen.

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Mango Muffin Apocalypse – The Mango Challenge.

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…Did I mention…Mango…? Because seriously. These are all Mango, all of the time. There’s mango in the cake batter, mango in the curd filling and mango in the butter meringue icing. You may, at this point, have realised that I have a serious problem with mango. I just think it’s the best thing in the world.

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Bacon Apple Cheddar Oatmeal Muffin Cups

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Good Evening! I thought I’d introduce some savoury baking. It’s not something I do often – actually, that’s a mild understatement. This is the first savoury bake-thing I’ve made, ever. I was trawling healthy reciples at sparkpeople and I came across this particular concept. Its creator can be found here for thank-yous. 🙂

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Vegan Cocoa Banana Nut Muffins

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Alright, another write up on a reader-tested creation before this weekend’s batch goes up. These were another scary batch to make (the recipe specifically asks you to curdle almond milk for the batter. Argh!) But they got enough happy feedback that I’m happy with them! Different, in a positive sense.

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Raspberry Orange Peach Berry Fizz

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These happened because some sugar free fizzy Vimto turned up I the aisles of my local Tesco – this is a rarity in Ireland! You British folk have it so easy…

So I got very excited about doing a sweet fruit drink that wouldn’t cost the earth in terms of calories but still has an interesting set of flavours. I bought it and that evening, I came up with this:

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Boston Chocolate Custard Muffins

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Dan Lepard is a man who I believe should be president. Of cakes. At least. This concoction of mine is a direct take from his recipe – all I did was add chunks of Toblerone to the batter. And that only happened because we had too much Toblerone in the house. Innovative, huh?

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Thai Peanut Turkey Stir-fry with Roasted Sweet Potato & Veggies

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Evening, lovely people! Just in case everyone is starting to get the idea that I do very little else besides mainline sugar and alcohol (and I wouldn’t blame them) – here’s an example of what I’d make and live on, a little more typically. If enough people are interested, I can do more stuff like this, and/or give y’all a breakdown of how I actually eat, exercise and stay healthy. (Despite the sugar and the cake. Up to interest, really :))

This is a meal that gets the balance exactly right. There’s no processed or refined carbodhydrate (though I’ll give you that there’s sugar in the peanut sauce). Overall there’s a pretty good balance of protein, good fats, complex carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and general health-building goodness.

I should note that although I give everyone precise measurements for baking (because, em, you have to, sorta), I won’t give precise measurements for cooking. This is because the following:

1. It depends entirely on how many people you’re planning to cook for

2. I’ve cooked for myself and others, a whole lot, since I was 14, and I’ve almost always done it with ideas in my head as opposed to recipe-following. This sounds like a horrible brag, but it isn’t – the real reason is I was too lazy to recipe-check when I started cooking, and it’s become a habit in my adulthood).

3. It’s much harder to go wrong with quantities when you’re cooking than when you’re baking. Honestly. Rely on your eye, and things will work out. If not, call me and I’ll come over and do it for you – I’m nice like that.

Ingredients (very roughly):

Sweet Potatoes

Onions

Broccoli Heads

Turkey Breast Strips

Spinach Leaves

Oil or fat of your choice (sunflower, rapeseed, butter – go wild. Spray for the extra-healthy).

Peanut Butter

Coconut Milk

Chilli Powder

Canned Tomatoes

Herbs (to your taste and preference)

Brown Sugar

Powdered Cinnamon

Directions: 

1. The first thing you want to do is cut up your various vegetables. Sweet Potatoes can be diced up or cut into chip-shapes, depending on your patience. Onions should be half ring-cut (for veggies) and dice-cut (for turkey). Make your broccoli into florets. My family love huge florets, you might like them little. Chopping board and a decent knife – get this done first and the hard work is out of the way. Set your oven to about 160 celsius if it’s a fan, 180 if it’s non-fan.

2. Set out a big ol’ saucepan (I use these lovelies), and a frying pan on your stove top. Pour or pat your oil or fat of choice into each (I used peanut oil for the frying pan and butter for the sauce pan). Leave them be for now. Pull out a baking tray and line it with baking paper.

3. Scatter your sweet potato chunks onto the lined baking tray. Grab your oil (I took olive oil for this) and sort of just lace-pour it across the chunks. Yay! Next, scatter over some brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. This turns out like heaven, seriously. Using clean hands, mix around the sweet potato in all the goodness so everything gets a good cover. Ensure all the chunks are relatively flat and even in the tray, and stick it in the oven. They can stay in there for the next twenty to twenty five minutes (after twenty minutes, check ’em – they’re ready when they smell amazing and a poke through them with a fork shows they’re soft).

4. Turn on the rings underneath the frying pan and the sauce pan. Let them warm up, then add diced onion to the frying pan and ringed onion to the sauce pan. Wait for noise and smells to happen. When that’s started up, take your diced turkey breast and throw it in the frying pan, ensuring even distribution. While that starts to brown and sizzle on one side, combine peanut butter and coconut milk in a bowl – a good mix with a spoon should even them up.

5. When your peanut-coconut mixture is all done, go back to your turkey and flip the strips. If they’re looking very happy and brown, turn down the heat. Turn down the heat on the onion rings in the sauce pan, too. Go get your broccoli florets, and tip them into the saucepan, put the lid on. This lets them sizzle AND steam, locking in goodness and flavour simultaneously.

6. Leave things a further five minutes or so before you do anything else (dance it out – I recommend this song).

7. Five minutes up! Go and flip/mix your turkey strips again, and this time pour in the coconut-peanut sauce you made. Sprinkle that with powdered chilli to taste. Monitor the heat – if you’re worried about burning, turn it down. It’s that simple! Place a pan-lid over the frying pan now – if you don’t have one, even a dinner plate will do. The aim is to permit some extra heat and steam to really permeate and soften the turkey and let the flavours sink in.

8. Tip your tinned tomatoes over your onions and broccoli. Lid on and let it do its thing. Leave it until the broccoli is as soft as you (and others) like – you’ll be able to tell by poking it with a fork. I like my broccoli fall-apart soft, but my fam & friends like it al dente – gotta compromise in this house!

9. When you think your turkey and veggies are ready, turn off the heat underneath them and let them sit a further couple of minutes. When your sweet potatoes are ready, pull ’em out the oven, allow a few minutes to cool and then plate the whole lot up

10. Absorb compliments and act like you totally know everything about cookery and food.

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(That’s the outfit I wore makin’ em, cause you totally all wanted to know that). If you want to see more like this, or more health/nutrition stuff, personal or otherwise, let me know!

As a final note:

The healthy amazingness of sweet potatoes

– Why turkey deserves more attention 

– Why peanut butter is actually amazing

– The magic of combining broccoli and tomato 

– I get all my groceries from Lidl and Tesco like any Irish Student. Eating well doesn’t need to be expensive!

Enjoy y’all 🙂

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Vegan Apricot Banana Cashew Sunshine Bars

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Alright – these were another creation inspired by Sally. As you can see, I tweaked this recipe a little bit! I was a little nervous about ’em, being as they represented my first foray into the world of explicitly healthy/specialist bakes. Then I handed them out to people. And was met with a tidal wave of positivity, which made me very happy about telling everyone all about ’em.

Tried and tested on coeliacs, diet watchers, full time vegans, part time vegans and devoted carnivores. Everyone took to these. They’re filling, strangely healthy and that special kind of gorgeous. Did I mention they’re also very easy to do, and they keep a good four to five days after creation…?

Make sure you have a 20 by 20 or so cm baking tray for these babies. Apparently you can get sixteen bars out of these, but, uh, I cut big…I got about nine. Depends on your size preference 🙂

Ingredients: 

225g Rolled Oats

60g Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky to taste)

1 Large Banana, mashed up

125g Cashews (or more, to taste)

75g Soft Dried Apricots, chopped

75g Golden Raisins

230g Golden Syrup

1 Tsp Cinnamon

Directions: 

1. You want to preheat your oven – about 150 fan, or 170 non-fan. When it’s hit temperature, grab your nuts, quit giggling and throw them onto a baking tray. Shove ’em in the oven. You’re gonna toast them that way, which brings out their flavour much more. Give them ten minutes.

2. While all that’s going on, combine your banana mash, peanut butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Attack it until it’s an even mixture. Please don’t literally attack it. You’ll make a mess.

3. Add in the oats to the mix and really mix them in thoroughly to get a complete combination – you’ll find that oats are evil and tend to hide in dry pockets in a mix. Be very diligent and get them all moistened and combined. If you’re finding your mix is a little too dry you can always add in some more maple syrup or peanut butter. The drier you do your mix, the crunchier you get your bars. Very moist mixes make gorgeous but rather impractical bars. Up to you really. I try and find the happy medium.

4. Remove nuts from oven. Assure them that everything will be okay. Now stir them into the oats. Add the chopped apricots and golden raisins. Please note that at this juncture you could add practically anything else that you want in here, along the healthy theme – dates? dried mango? vegan chocolate? There’s very little that could go wrong.

5. Press the mix into your baking tray. You may want to line it, you may not. Depends on how new your tray is 🙂 Make it even and bake for twenty five minutes. Dance while it bakes. Why not? Cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares – I left them for two, they turned out angelic.

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Enjoy!

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White Chocolate, Greek Yogurt & Mango Banana Bread

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This stuff is what you want to eat before you die. For reals. All credit goes to the amazing, incredible and oh so wonderful Sally at sally’s baking addiction– everybody needs to go and tell her they love her for bringing joy to the world. At least once.

The recipe you’ll find here is modified only to convert some of the suggested flour, and the measures from cups to grams so us european folk can make sense of it. Go, make (or order from me, I love any excuse) – enjoy!

Ingredients: 

240g Whole Wheat Flour

3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

150g White Sugar

60g Butter

2 Large Eggs (Free-range, organic, save the hens, etc)

3 Over-ripe Bananas

100g Greek Yogurt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

150g white chocolate chips

1 medium sized ripe mango, chopped to cubes

2 Tablespoons shredded sweet coconut

2 Tablespoons sweet diced mango (try Forest Feast)

Directions:

1. You know the drill, ladies and gentlemen. Preheat that oven – 160 celsius with fan, 180 without. find yourself a loaf ban that’s about 9 by 5 inches and line it with baking paper (or grease it, it’s your preference but I find the baking paper line trick to make an easier tin extraction from experience!)

2. In a medium bowl, get the flour, baking soda and salt all mixed together.

3. In a large bowl, cream room-temp butter and sugar together with the sheer power of your wrists (ahem) or an electric mixer, whatever you prefer. When they’re looking smooth, add the eggs in one at a time, blitzing ’em in smooth after each addition. Now the banana, yogurt, and vanilla – toss ’em in and beat ’em up til it all looks pretty uniform.

4. This is the (very literally) tricky stage. Add the flour mix to the wet mix and get it exactly to the stage where things have JUST combined evenly. Then you need to STOP beating that mix – it doesn’t deserve it and you’re a terrible person if you keep the violence up. Ha, erm, no, the reason for that is that an overbeaten sweet bread mixture produces a terribly crumbly post-bake product. Wise people say. Mind yourself now.

5. Final step pre-bake is to fold in the white chocolate chips and gently, gently stir in the chopped mangoes. Tip it all into your loaf pan – dot some chocolate and dried mango onto the top for aesthetics then stick it in the oven for 40 minutes.

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6. Forty minutes up? I hope you kept yourself entertained. Grab it out the oven, and sprinkle with that shredded coconut stuff. Hell yeah. Not done yet! Stick it back in again for a further 15 to 22 minutes (you’re allowed make yourself a drink, for patience). It’s all finished when a cake-poke comes out clean from the centre of the bread. Let it cool down completely before you cut it or you’ll end up with gorgeous-but-messy slice. Learn from this girl’s mistakes. I couldn’t help it, mango and I have a problem.

Enjoy!

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