Foodie

Cafe Style Carrot Cake Recipe

cafe style carrot cake recipeMy mate Cam dropped off a box of carrots and kiwifruit the other day. I have no idea where he got them from and, frankly, I’m too nervous to ask:  I might get arrested. Suffice to say there were enough carrots in there that I’ve been whipping up enough carrot related dishes to the point I’m wondering if we’ll turn orange.  That happened to my little brother once when he was a toddler. Crack up. Anyway, top on the lists of carrot culinary delights was my tried and tested cafe style carrot cake recipe that I’ve made on and off over the years (more years than I care to admit, cough. Shit. I’m old).  

This is one of those recipes that’s been handed around and I love going to a mate’s house to find they’ve made it (unless it’s better than my version… Then I feel aggrieved).   So if you’ve been on the hunt for a top notch carrot cake recipe, look no further, I’ve got you sorted.

This cake is moist, packed full of flavour and texture and super-filling (I know we shouldn’t be getting full on carrot cake, but good luck with that after you’ve made this).  Yeah, it’s delicious.  It’s also super healthy because it contains vegetables. Snort. Oh, it’s also beautifully decorated, if I do say so myself. As you may know I detest decorating cakes with a passion, so this is cake decorating at its best: Get some stuff and sprinkle it on. Easy and effective. Who can resist a pretty looking cake,  especially when there is no art or skill to it?

Lastly, as with a lot of my recipes, this is definitely one where you can substitute ingredients. Don’t like walnuts? Use chopped almonds. Not a date lover? Use raisins or craisins or even diced apricots. Can’t be arsed with faffing around decorating the cake – just use shredded coconut. Or don’t decorate the cake. Let the icing shine. You get my drift.  

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Cheeseball recipe – Cheeseboard on a budget!

cheeseball recipe

This cheeseball recipe is another one of those recipes that I’ve made on and off over a decade. It’s a recipe I actually got off my Aunty Lois. She’s a great cook and one day I asked her what her best recipe was. She paused and then said ‘my cheeseball’ – naturally I begged for the recipe and lucky she obliged! I can’t help myself, I’ve put my own spin on it over time. It’s become a great ‘go to’ recipe, particularly if we have people call in unexpectedly or at short notice as it’s something you can whip up without too much difficulty for nibbles: I always have cream cheese in the fridge and some salami (that’s a staple in my son’s lunchbox).  Note, in these situations I freeze the ball instead of chilling it in the fridge to speed things up.

Well, we’ve been on a reduced income since I started my new job and subsequently now work part-time, so frankly, pulling out an extravagant cheeseboard groaning with a stinky Kikorangi blue, vintage cheddar, double cream brie, cumin gouda, stuffed baby peppers and a selection of gourmet deli meats is no longer in my budget. That’s a bit of a bugger because a cheeseboard, as odd as this probably sounds for someone who loves cooking, is one of my favourite things to make, as well as eat, noting it’s not particularly conducive to being Weight Watchers friendly at the moment!  Anyway, since we’ve been on a reduced income I’ve totes ditched the cheeseboard and, instead, pulled out this old school favourite cheeseball recipe a few times as a ‘nibbley dish’. It always lands well with the punters and you can serve it up with any cracker, or even a nice loaf of ciabatta, meats, anything goes. I love it on dried apricots tucked into a slice of salami, but I’m a bit random like that.    On that note, there’s a heap of ways you can variate this recipe, be sure to check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe below.

Lastly, as the recipe below makes two balls (snigger… I’m so smutty and immature) I often keep one in the fridge (not rolled in nuts) and then stuff it into chicken breasts a few days later. I wrap the breasts in streaky bacon, pan fry them till they are golden on both sides, then bake them until the chicken is cooked. This is next level stuffed chicken breast – I promise.

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Autumn Salad with Spicy Chicken, Lentil and Pumpkin

Autumn Salad with Spicy Chicken, Lentil and Pumpkin
Since joining Weight Watchers three weeks ago I’ve fallen into the trap of eating more or less the same thing every night (roast chicken with a green salad) and I’m BORED.  This is really silly: There’s an abundance of recipes available through Weight Watchers, I’m usually really creative in the kitchen AND I’m working part-time now and I have ample time to cook dinner.  There’s no excuse for boring, uninspired and repetitive meals.

I made this Autumn Salad with Spicy Chicken Lentil and Pumpkin recipe this week after a being struck by a bit of inspo following browsing on the Weight Watchers member’s only section.  Also, I’d bought a GI-NORMOUS pumpkin from Countdown for $2 and this pumpkin required some serious tucking in. Anyhoo, the result was a warm, hearty, nutritious salad that was packed full of flavour, colour and was ‘viable’ in relation to Weight Watchers SmartPoints.  My hubby isn’t on Weight Watchers (skinny, active, healthy bugger) so I’m trying to up the anti on meals that don’t blow the points budget for me and meals that hubby enjoys. Hubby and I both loved this dish, we had it as a main course and, as there was only two people eating it, there was enough the next night for a repeat dinner performance (needless to say the kid didn’t eat this dish. He had ham steaks with potatoes, carrot and pineapple. Sigh).

You can funk the salad up even further by adding fried haloumi, diced feta, also some olives would also be a delicious addition!   Or even, for those not on the ‘trying to shrink bandwagon’,  chorizo would be a scrummy addition!  This recipe, if I do say so myself, is ‘friends-over-for-dinner-worthy’. On that note, I’m taking it sans chicken to my next pot luck dinner as a side salad. (more…)

Stacked Eggplant with Roast Tomato Feta and Pesto

stacked eggplant with roast tomato feta and pesto

We headed down to Ohariu Valley in Wellington over Easter to have a long (and very overdue) with our extended family. The good news for me is that the majority of the whanau are foodies, and they have a dream kitchen, with views of the countryside that are to bloody die for. One of the first questions I’m usually  hit with when I arrive is “what shall we cook?” Oh yes: That’s one of my favourite questions…!  For Easter Sunday dinner I made these stacked eggplant with roast tomato, feta and pesto. They were supposed to be the accompaniment to a huge leg of roast lamb, but the positive feedback received would suggest that this eggplant concoction was the hero of the meal and the lamb should step aside!

I’ve made these stacked towers of goodness in the past for as a main course (with a side salad), suffice to say they always go down a treat and it’s a good dish to have up your sleeve if you are feeding vegetarians.  This is the first time time I’ve coated the eggplant with panko breadcrumbs and fried ’em, but it was a total winner and I’ll be doing it again – when I’m off Weight Watchers though! A lighter version, and how I usually do them is to simply brush the eggplant with olive oil and grill them on the BBQ. They are delicious done this lighter way, but the fried panko version was next level because of the nutty crunchy dimension!  Besides, everything tastes good fried in olive oil, eh?  Sigh…. No wonder the clothes in my wardrobe are pulling me the birdie!

Note, it looks like a long winded (read, labour intensive recipe) but I did this in stages throughout the day. Made the pesto the day before. Roasted the tomatoes – set these aside. Went for a quad bike ride. Cooked the eggplant, prettied my face up before visitors arrived. Assembled the eggplant stacks when the lamb came out of the oven and was quietly resting on the bench.  Seemed like no trouble at all…

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Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

cookies and cream cheesecake

Right.  This isn’t my recipe, let’s get that out of the way. Nope, this mega morsel of delicious-ness was the brainchild of my nine year old son (albeit with a little bit of help from his Mumma). He’s been on a cheesecake creation bender for the last month and he’s been churning out all sorts of cheesecake concoctions. This Cookies and Cream Cheesecake is the best cheesecake yet!  Being a child that was raised well (ha),  he’s happy to share his recipe.  Enjoy. 

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Muhammara Dip (Red Capsicum and Walnut Dip)

 

Muhammara Dip RecipeOriginally a Syrian recipe, this Muhammara Dip (red capsicum and walnut) is often found as part of a meze platter.  My friend Marie introduced me to this heavenly concoction and I instantly begged her for the recipe. I’ve played around with the recipe a bit (I can’t bloody help myself) and the result is this creamy red capsicum dip, with a hint of tartness and sweetness from the pomegranate molasses. If you like hummus, get cracking and make this, it is, if I do say so myself, phenomenal, and it’s wayyyyyy nicer than any hummus I’ve tried.  It’s so good, I’ve made three batches of this in just over a week (!) and we are having it with everything:   It goes beautifully with my morning poached eggs on toast, mixed in with yogurt as a creamy salad dressing, as a side sauce with roast veges, it’s also amazeballs with BBQ chicken. Oh, and it’s shit-hot in sandwiches in the place of mayo or sugar-laden relishes and chutneys.   

I’ve made my Muhammara dip in my Nutribullet, and it works perfectly. You can, of course, use a food processor (I try to avoid using mine as much as possible because I’m lazy: I detest washing it up and putting it away in the cupboard!).  Having looked at some other versions of the recipe online, I’ve noted the more traditional methods of making this dip is actually in a mortar and pestle, so the result is a dip that’s got a coarse, pesto-like, consistency. Yum, I’ll give this more authentic method a bash at some stage.

Note, If you don’t have pomegranate molasses – don’t fret, just leave it out, it’s not a deal breaker. In fact, I only just included pomegranate molasses in my latest batch as I only just made a trip to Vetro to get some more.  Up until then I’d added a couple of dates for sweetness and a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar in an attempt to get the sweet/tart hit (it worked well and I high-fived myself on my Kiwi cooking ingenuity).  Similarly if you don’t have any smoked paprika, or cumin (etc), just leave it out.  Feel free to add in a handful of fresh mint (I tried that – thumbs up). If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a big fan of ‘making do’ in the kitchen, it’s such fun and some of my best recipes have come as a result of improvising. Get your creative on! (more…)

Best Ever Chunky Guacamole Recipe

guacamole recipeI’ve been hit up by a couple of friends over the summer holidays pointing out that my chunky guacamole recipe isn’t on my blog. Opps!  Best I fix that!  It seriously is the best ever guacamole I’ve ever tried. Yes, I know that’s a big claim!

This guacamole recipe is reasonably well known across several groups of my friends:  I’ve been making guacamole in my Napier circle of friends since sixth or seventh form (I’m old skool – I still think of school years in ‘form years’!).  As for my Rotorua buddies, they first had this in Ohope three or four years ago.  It made such an impact I dished out the recipe and the name got a rebrand: They call it ‘Holy Moly Ohope Guacamole’, LOL. It’s slightly more sexy than plain old ‘Guacamole’, I guess.  Anyway,  lots of my friends tell me they now make guacamole using this recipe which chuffs me to bits. However, it turns out I’ve been a bit lax by  not sharing the recipe on my blog. Suffice to say I’ve kicked myself up the bum!  So, here you go, embrace the rest of the avocado season here in the Southern Hemisphere! (more…)