Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthier Thai Sweet & Sour Chicken


Bin the take out menus and get cooking rather than dialing!!! When you say sweet and sour chicken, chinese take out normally springs to mind. Chicken coated in a heavy sticky batter in a sickly sweet syrupy sauce! Not good and certainly not healthy!!!
Rather than thinking 'nah, sweet and sour chicken is too unhealthy for me', check out this recipe for a healthy and fresh Thai sweet & sour. A wonderful Thai girl taught me this recupe while on a cookery course on Koh Samui a few years back, and I've been making my own version ever since. (some ingredients have been substituted due to sourcing difficulties).



Ingredients
  • 4 chicken legs on the bone
  • 1 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised and chopped
  • 1 thumb size, peeled and chopped piece of ginger
  • 3-4 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped pineapple chunks in juice
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size
  • 3 tbsp of chopped coriander
  • 3 tbsp of tamarind juice (you can get tamarind paste in M&S)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp of palm sugar (brown sugar can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp of corn starch (corn flour mixed with water)
  • 2 tbsp of hot sweet chili sauce
  • Basmati rice and lime wedges, to serve

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Bake the chicken legs in the oven, in a oven proof dish covered with tin foil. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes.
  3. In a wok, add the oil and stir fry the onion, garlic, lemongrass, chili, and ginger.
  4. Add the lime leaves, fish sauce, ketchup, pineapple chunks and juice, tamarind juice and palm sugar.
  5. Continue to stir fry.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and pour over the sauce.
  8. Return to the oven, and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  9. Serve with basmati rice, lime wedges and a  scattering of fresh coriander leaves.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homemade Italian Inspired Sausage Rolls


The humble sausage roll gets a makeover here, using a few store bought ingredients and  can be prepared in a few minutes work. I was never a huge lover of sausage rolls. The thought of sausage rolls used to conjure up images of soggy, stodgy shop bought tasteless rolls I was given to eat as a child. Usually bought from the deli counter of a gas station. They had all the tastiness of cardboard. So with that said I've not eaten sausage rolls in years. In my mind they simply were not worth the calories. 



Then recently I was asked to make homemade sausage rolls for a tea party, and I got to thinking that homemade sausage rolls would actually be completely open to additions of all types of flavours. You are in charge and you get to decide what goes into the sausage roll. This is where I decided a bit of shop bought organic garlic pesto, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts would transform a potentially bland sausage roll into something really special. I also decided to add a dimension of texture by sprinkling them with some sesame seeds before baking. I must say, since I made these I am completely converted, my waistline will not be happy with me.



Ingredients
  • 1 ready rolled puff pastry sheet
  • 1 lb of good quality pork sausages
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread
  • 3 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp of semi sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of good quality pesto
  • 3 tsp of sesame seeds
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper


Method
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. In a mini food blender, blitz the bread, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes and the onion.
  3. Make a slit in each sausage and squeeze the sausage meat out of their skins
  4. Mix the sausage meat with the blended bread mixture and the dried herbs. Season well.
  5. Roll out the pastry sheets and cut across the middle horizontally so you have two rectangle shapes.
  6. In the centre of each rectangle divide out the pesto and spread it the whole way across length ways
  7. Divide the sausage mixture in two and roll it into a 'sausage' shape to fit the length of each pastry rectangle. Place the sausage over the pesto in the centre.
  8. Beat the egg and brush all edges with the egg wash
  9. Fold one side of the pastry over the sausage mixture to meet the other edges on the opposite side.
  10. Press the  pastry edges firmly together and make indentations the whole way length ways with a fork.
  11. Brush the entire roll with egg wash
  12. Using a very sharp knife  half each sausage roll down the centre, then half those halves and so on. The number of sausage rolls you make depends on the size you want them. You can have 8 large ones from each roll or 16 mini sausage rolls.
  13. Place the sausage rolls on a lined baking tray. Season the tops with freshly ground black pepper and the sesame seeds.
  14. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of sausage rolls you have made.
  15. Remove when golden and cool on a wire rack.
You'll never buy a sausage roll in a shop again.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mother's Day Lemon Drizzle Cake


Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there! I hope your nearest and dearest are looking after you on this special day. If there's anyone out there who didn't nip to the shops for a box of chocolates their moms, fear not, help is here. This is such an easy peasy lemon drizzle cake, you can whip it up in no time and mum will feel super special that you made an effort and baked her a cake.



It's my very first mothers day today, which I think is a big deal, as last mothers day I was two weeks away from giving birth, and I felt cheated that I couldn't celebrate mothers day (for myself, of course I spoilt my own amazing mammy!).


Even though it is my first mother's day, I actually don't think I can now visualise what life was like without being a mom. It's the most important thing in my life and equally my mom is one of the most important people in my life and I always try to find ways to tell her how much I appreciate her and how much she means to me and my little girl.  The old saying 'where would we be without our mothers' comes to mind, and I think never a truer thing has be said.



So here is my lemon drizzle cake that I just made up really as I went along. With all my cakes I am using my basic cake mix quantities that I owe thanks to Donna Hay for. Then I tweak it to make different types of flavour cakes. My cake cracked a lot on the surface and normally I would be very upset about this, but it suited my lemon drizzle cake perfectly as it means that the sugary lemony syrup gets to travel down throughout the cake permeating the cake with yet more lemony fragrance.

Ingredients

  • 225g of self raising flour
  • 165g of caster sugar
  • 120ml of milk
  • 5ml of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of sicilian lemon extract
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g of butter




Drizzle

  • 85g of caster sugar
  • juice of 1 large lemon
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees celsius 
  2. Prepare your cake tin. I'm using a silicone cake tin, for an easy life. I think they are great!
  3. In a food mixer, sift the flour and sugar into the bowl. Add the zest.
  4. In a jug add the egg, juice and milk. 
  5. Melt the butter for 1 minute in the microwave.
  6. Add the butter and the lemon extract to the jug and whisk to combine.
  7. On a slow setting in the mixer, mix the flour and sugar and slowly add the wet ingredients.
  8. Mix only until combined, do not over mix.
  9. Add the batter to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  10. When the cake is baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack
  11. When the cake is cool, make the drizzle by whisking the caster sugar and lemon juice together.
  12. Pour over the cake, ensuring it leaks into all the crevices of the cake.
  13. Serve with a hug and a cup of tea.
Happy Mothers Day!!!!!!!!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Perfect Valentine's Day Cakes



I was so indecisive this year about what to bake for my hubbie for Valentine's Day, and picking up some gimmick 'valentine' cake moulds in my local Lidl supermarket didn't help me with my choices. So I decided to just make two cakes. Valentine's falls on a Friday this year so we will worry about the diet on Monday.



I used the same basic cake recipe for both cakes, the recipe is adapted from an earlier blog from my Donna Hay adapted recipe http://serenasmediumrare.blogspot.ie/2013/04/quick-apple-blueberry-almond-cake.html




The first cake is a pink and white chocolate rose shaped cake, using a flower cake mould; and the second is my Triple Chocolate Heart cake. I think you will agree the heart cake totally stole the show. Here's how I made both cakes; they are surprisingly easy to make, and it was made start to finish during baby's morning nap!

Pink White Chocolate Chip Rose Cake


Ingredients

Cake Mix
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 125g soft butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 drops of red food colouring
  • 100g of white chocolate chips
  • icing sugar to dust




Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease the cake mould with some butter.
  2. In a food mixer, add all the dry cake mix ingredients and mix on low for a couple of seconds.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave for a minute. Add the butter to a jug with the milk, eggs, vanilla, and food colouring.
  4. With the food mixer on slow, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, do not over mix.
  5. Scrape it into the cake mould and level it out evenly
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 mins.
  7. Check that the cake is fully baked with a skewer before removing from the oven (Insert skewer to centre of cake if it comes out clean it's done, if not bake for a further 5 mins and try again)
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the mould until completely cooled.
  9. Invert the mould onto a plate to dislodge it from the mould and dust with icing sugar.



Triple Chocolate Love Heart Cake

Ingredients

Cake Mix
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 125g soft butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 25g of cocoa powder
  • 100g of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 can of Dr Otker Chocolate flavoured cupcake buttercream
  • 50g of raspberries
  • Icing sugar to dust




Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease the cake mould with some butter.
  2. In a food mixer, add all the dry cake mix ingredients and mix on low for a couple of seconds.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave for a minute. Add the butter to a jug with the milk, eggs, vanilla.
  4. With the food mixer on slow, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, do not over mix.
  5. Scrape it into the cake mould and level it out evenly
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 mins.
  7. Check that the cake is fully baked with a skewer before removing from the oven (Insert skewer to centre of cake if it comes out clean it's done, if not bake for a further 5 mins and try again)
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the mould until completely cooled.
  9. Invert the mould onto a plate to dislodge it from the mould.
  10. Frost the cake with the ready made chocolate buttercream, decorating however you like. I scattered the raspberries in a heart shape in the centre for the extra 'cheezy' factor.
  11. Dust with icing sugar.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rachel's Chocolate Mousse Cake



I ADORE this recipe from Rachel Allens's Easy Meals book. She says in the book that you have to make it to believe it and I 100% agree. For a cake that simple to make, it really has the WOW factor for a dinner party. There are hardly any ingredients and its made start to finish in 30 minutes. What more could you ask for. 



This cake has the added appeal of being gluten free. I'm often asked to cater for girls who need a gluten free diet at my Fancy Pants Tea Parties, and I'm totally confident that this cake delivers that little something special. You don't have to follow a gluten free diet to enjoy this cake, it vanishes in what seems like seconds. 




This is not my recipe, but its so delicious and impressive and most importantly, easy; I just had to share it with you!!! I highly recommend Rachel Allen's Easy Meals book, fantastic recipes for everyday life, with some great recipes that have a little pizzazz! The only thing I did differently is topped the cocoa powder with a little icing sugar and pimped it up with some pomegranate seeds, to make it really girlie.



Ingredients
  • 300 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces, or dark chocolate drops
  • 150 g butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 20cm (8in) diameter spring-form/loose bottomed cake tin
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line the base of the cake tin with a disc of baking parchment and grease the sides with butter.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Place the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl and, using a hand-held electric beater or electric mixer, whisk for 7–10 minutes or until the mixture forms a light, pale mousse.
  4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs until fully combined, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20–22 minutes or until the cake is almost set. Allow to cool down completely in the tin before removing, then dust with cocoa powder and cut into slices to serve.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spicy Asian Beef Salad


The month of January is all about detox detox detox!! Gone are the mince pies, the selection boxes and the over indulging on Irish Cream Liqueur. Now tis the season to be healthy! Healthy for me doesn't have to mean boring. This Thai inspired beef salad is an exciting combination of fresh flavours, that is so tasty and satisfying you forget that its healthy.



The salad dressing is from Saba restaurant's cookbook. If you are ever in Dublin and in search of a great Thai/Vietnamese Restaurant, then you got to check Saba out. Everything on the menu is delicious. The recipe calls for 4 birds eye chilies in addition to everything else. I've left these out as I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to chilies, but feel free to add them. I'm content with my chili flakes.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Beef

  • 1 steak, fillet or sirloin
  • 2 tbsp of mirin
  • 1 tbsp of palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped



Salad

  • 1 stack of rice noodles
  • 1 carrot
  • 50g of chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 tbsp of chopped coriander



Salad Dressing

  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp of coriander stalks
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of chili sauce
To serve
  • 1 tsp of chopped peanuts
  • 1 tsp of freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 lime cut into wedges



Method

  1. Firstly, you must marinate the steak. Combine all the steak ingredients in non metallic bowl and place the steak in the bowl. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Pour Boiling water over the noodles and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Then drain and rinse in cold water and drain again.
  3. To make the salad dressing, simply add all ingredients into a mini food blender and blend until liquidised.
  4. Heat a frying pan on high, get it really hot then add the steak. Cook for 3 minutes each side and then set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and cook on high heat until its thickened and reduced.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the noodles with the rest of the salad ingredients. Pour over all the salad dressing and mix really well so that everything is coated.
  7. Divide the salad into 2 bowls.
  8. Cut the steak against the grain into strips as thinly as you can. Divide the steak pieces on top of each noodle bowl. 
  9. Pour over the thickened reduced marinade.
  10. Scatter with some more crushed peanuts, sliced spring onion and freshly chopped coriander. Serve with lime wedges.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Homemade Irish Liqueur Cream



I got this recipe from the BBC Website and I must say its absolutely awesome! I love Baileys, but this homemade version of Irish Cream Liqueur wins hands down and all my family and neighbours who received a bottle from me this Christmas agreed.  I brought the bottle to neigbours when visiting instead, and I also added to my homemade gift hampers for my mother and mother in law.




But this is not just a drink for Christmas, its way too tasty to reserve it for just once a year. It's a fabulous treat at the end of a meal at a dinner party, or even drop a sneaky bit into a coffee. Bliss!!!

 Here's the recipe, which I tweaked a little to my own taste, unable to source coffee syrup I used a cold strong espresso shot from my coffee machine and I added more chocolate sauce.


Ingredients


  • 350ml/12fl oz Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp Camp coffee essence/or an espresso shot cooled if you cannot source the Camp.



Method

  1. Sterilise the bottles for the liqueur: wash in very hot water or on the hot cycle of a dishwasher. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. 
  2. Place the bottles on a baking tray and dry in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
  3.  Leave to cool.
  4. Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. 
  5. Add extra Camp or chocolate to taste.
  6. Pour into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge. (The liqueur will keep for up to two months.) Shake well before using.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...