Way back in September I took part in Sugar Free September. The whole low/no sugar movement is gaining momentum and I thought I’d give it a whirl. The Executive Summary of that story is: I did it, I feel great and fast forward now, We’ve stayed sugar free (mainly) because we feel GREAT.
Sure, there’s been a couple of what I call ‘Relaxing Moments’ but they aren’t biggies by any stretch of the imagination. What am I relaxing on? Wine mostly – Pinot Gris to be precise, my tipple of choice when the weather gets warmer. In context though, as someone who had a serious weakness for chocolate at 3pm, it’s nothing short of miraculous that I’ve eaten four squares of chocolate since late August. That’s it for the extent of my ‘sugar deviation’ not bad, right? I’m staying sugar free because I feel amazing. But I won’t witter on about that here because I went on about it here.
Anyhow, one of the things I enjoyed most about Sugar Free September was trying out new food and recipes and I thought it would be fun to share my favourite recipe from September. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen this before as I shared the recipe for Pecan and Caramel Bark from the Cave Girl blog which, frankly, is a recipe of pure genius. So, with Cave Girl as my inspiration, I made up my own barky version and… YUM! Both bark recipes are so good that, even if I fall well and truly off the sugar bandwagon, I’ll still whip this up. Now, while I shared the recipe on Facebook, those little buggers at Facebook are playing mind games with me as some of my posts on my Facebook just vanish – like POOF! Gone! I have no idea why (if anyone knows – please enlighten me as this palaver drives a woman batty). So, for prosperity, here’s the Coconutty Bark recipe I posted on Facebook here on the blog: Now it’s kept safe for us all to enjoy! (more…)
Eggs benedict. Asparagus with Hollandaise. The thought makes me go weak at the knees and my mouth water. Everytime I make this sauce for visitors they are wowed that I’ve made it from scratch. The thing is, I’ve bought pre-made Hollandaise sauce and I’ve been really underwhelmed – it just doesn’t compare to the homemade version.
Unfortunately, lots of people are intimidated by making Hollandaise because it’s known for being finicky and temperamental, or to be more precise, splitting. I’m pleased to report this easy Hollandaise sauce recipe has never split on me, far from it: It turns out perfect everytime, the only problem is reigning in how much you eat! It’s also easy – it takes two minutes for the sauce to come together, which I like, I’m not known for having the best attention span in the North Island. I think the secret with this fool-proof recipe is that it contains less butter than most other Hollandaise recipes. Before you starting high-fiving me thinking this is a calorie friendly sauce, hold fire: It’s not. But it’s delicious. Give it a go! (more…)
I put a call out on my Facebook page a while back to see what recipes you lovely blog readers would like to see: Speedy savoury dinners seemed to be a bit of a popular theme! Well, you said, I’m delivering.
This speedy meatball recipe totally fries my burger as I can get this dinner on the table within 25 minutes, while multi-tasking with those those tedious domestic activities like supervising homework and getting lunches ready for the following day. This recipe is also really versatile: Haven’t got pesto? Add a sauce (sweet chilli sauce, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, hell, tomato sauce if you like). Don’t like/haven’t got cheese? Leave it out. If you want to speed things up, use a pre-made pasta sauce (I make pasta sauce in bulk from scratch and keep it in the cupboard in sterilised jars… Since Operation Sugar Reduction I find pre-made pasta sauces like Dolmio far too sweet).
Lastly, here’s a tip: Make double the meatball recipe (get the kids to help you with the rolling) and keep them to cook the next night. Stuff them into wholemeal pita breads, or roll them up in tortillas. Add salad and your favourite sauces/dressing (mayonnaise, pesto, hummus, sweet chilli sauce, you get the idea). This is another speedy, popular, tasty and healthy mid week dinner.
One of the main reasons I’ve really enjoyed #sugarfreeseptember as it’s forced me to try out new recipes. I know you probably think I try out lots of new things, but, to be honest, I often churn out the same thing: Tried and true family favourites. It’s been good to get out of my comfort zone this month.
Anyway, I’ve struggled a little with ideas for baking to satisfy my Husband’s super-dooper sweet tooth. I struck gold when I chanced upon a recipe in Taste magazine which was a recipe from Auckland’s Wilder & Hunt cafe for their bestselling Morning Glory Carrot mini cakes. Being sugar free these looked right up our alley. I modified the recipe a little to suit our taste buds, as well as to comply with what was in the pantry! The result were these glorious Carrot, Date and Nutty Muffins that’ll absolutely make again! (more…)
I stopped buying mayonnaise a couple of years ago once I discovered Annabel Langbein’s Speedy Mayo recipe – which is essentially: Biff all ingredients together and blitz it with a handheld stick blender in a timeframe that’s (nearly) quicker than you can say “Bob’s your uncle”. I couldn’t even get to my local dairy and back in an emergency to buy mayo as fast as I can make this. Did I mention that it tastes utterly delicious? As I type this I have a huge craving for a plate of crayfish, a side of this mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon. Bring on summer. My mouth is watering. But, I digress. My recipe below is similar to Annabel’s, but with my own spin on it (I much prefer my recipe, but don’t tell her that, thanks).
On another note, having got used to this homemade goodness store-bought mayonnaise tastes awful: Sweet, artificial – not my think (except Best Foods Mayo – that’s the schizzle).
All you need (ingredients aside, doh) is a handheld blender (called an immersion blender in some countries).
This Red Lentil and Chorizo Gumbo (because ‘gumbo’ is a much sexier word than stew) is the perfect mid week meal requiring approximately seven minutes preparation – and a slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker in your life, cooking this in a heavy based pot on your stove top would work just fine, I reckon it would need about an hour to cook the lentils to perfection. (more…)
A classic Greek Moussaka is made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling and topping it off with a creamy bechamel sauce (I’ve called it a cheese sauce here, I’m not that flash), which is then baked until golden. YUM. I first had this dish in Italy and I’ll never forget that first mouthful: Heaven on a plate! (The memory is possibly firmly entrenched by the romance of the quintessential Italian restaurant complete with red and white tablecloths and the hot Dutch guy I was hanging out with at the time…)
So, here’s my version of Moussaka, which probably isn’t terribly authentic, but it is the kind of dish where everyone asks if there’s any leftover for seconds!
Note: The price of lamb mince would have required a home remortgage, so I used beef mince instead. Tasted great. Secondly, as I’m doing #sugarfreeseptember I made a few tweaks as I’m taking it seriously and having zero gluten. Accordingly I substituted the cheese sauce with cauliflower puree and it was DELICIOUS. I actually preferred it to how I usually make it (i.e. with a traditional cheese sauce made with flour). Our friends at the dinner party scoffed it blatantly oblivious that it contained a ‘cauliflower puree sauce’. If you are looking for a gluten free option (or want to up your vegetable intake) I’d definitely recommend using cauliflower puree instead of cheese sauce. The recipe is here. Just make sure you drain out about 1 cup of milk before you puree the mix, otherwise the puree will be too runny. Add extra Parmesan if you like it cheesy…
Note – in the photo I had doubled the recipe as I was feeding a large group!