Lessons learnt in the Kitchen…

So, after a week or two of baking and cooking, I have learnt a couple of things about food, and even more things about myself as a cook, and as a person!!

1 ) Appreciate a good meal : putting a tasty meal together isn’t easy. It takes time, patience, and a good understanding. Respect chefs out there for the hours that they give everyday to making a living. And also give thanks to your mother for slaving over the hot stove when she gets home from work (now I know why she was always so grumpy)…because without her you would go hungry.

2 ) Wear an apron: something I never did. Now I realise why all chefs do! Guess I need to learn how to wash my clothes next…

3 ) PREPARE: there is nothing worse than having heated up the stove, cooked your veggies, then you realise that the chicken is still frozen…hello defrost button 😦

4 ) Clean as you go: I have discovered that I am the messiest person in a kitchen. Keep an empty bowl next to you as your mini bin, just so that everything stays semi-clean.

5 ) Understand your cooking environment: Every oven works differently. Every kitchen has different tools and utensils. Learn your home kitchen well, and also learn to adapt to others, and make the best of that situation.

6 ) Never open the oven door to check: NEVER!! haha still doesn’t stop me..I get too impatient and excited 🙂

7 ) Expect failures : sometimes food doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. Even if you follow a recipe exactly, sometimes things go wrong, and its ok. Learn from your mistakes. Go back and look at what you might have done wrong, and do it better next time. And if its your family you’re cooking for, then they’ll love whatever you’ve made, no matter what 🙂

8 ) Give yourself credit : if your meal comes out exactly how you hoped, don’t be shocked! Be proud and happy that you achieved your dish!

9 ) Don’t be scared to try something new: stray from a recipe, it won’t hurt. Maybe add a few different spices where you feel the need. Or some extra ingredients where you can. The more you do that, the braver you become. Therefore the more you learn, the less you need to rely on a recipe for help.

10 ) Have fun : as cheesy as that sounds, its true. Give your food love, and enjoy the cooking process. It makes it all worth while 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to view this blog, and also to my family and friends who have supported my dishes, tasted them and enjoyed them!! You’re all wonderful 🙂

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Fruity Jam Buns

My last meal before my blog is due 😦

I decided to make a favourite treat in my family…its one of the first sweet things I have ever made and it has been super succesful at tea times with the family 🙂 JAM BUNS!! Such a messy tea time treat, but well worth the cleaning up and flour covered clothes 🙂

Ingredients:
225g self-raising flour
100g margarine
100g castor sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
jam for filling

1) Turn oven onto 200 Degrees Celsius. Grease a large baking tray and sprinkle with flour to avoid buns sticking.
2) Sieve flour into a large bowl, and add cut up chunks of marg into flour bowl. Rub the chunks of marg together with the flour with your fingers (the messy part) until they look like fine bread crumbs. Then stir in the sugar.
3) Break the egg into a seperate bowl, and add the milk. Whisk them together, then stir them into the flour mixture.
4) Sprinkle a large clean surface area with flour. Press the mixture into a large ball, and put onto flour area.
5) Cut the ball in halve, the cut each half into 3 pieces. Then cut each piece in half again. Roll each piece into a ball about the size of a golf ball. (Make sure they are no smaller than that otherwise the jam won’t stay inside).
6) Roll each piece into ball shapes, then flatten onto the baking tray. make a small dent/semi-hole in the middle of each circle, and fill with any desired flavour of jam!
7) Bake the bums for 10-15 minutes, unitl they rise and turn golden brown. Lift onto a wire rack and let them cool before serving 🙂

This is one of my favourite biscuit type of recipes, because it is easy, and also because they are crunchy yet so moist and soft to eat! And also because the jam spreads through the biscuit and makes it gooey!! They are super tasty served warm, and just as good the next day served cold! Delicious to dip into tea/coffee 🙂 But I really need to learn how to be a bit neater when it comes to making food…

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Camembert and Cranberry = OBSESSED!!

If I am at a restaurant and I see anything on the menu, and I mean anything, that includes camembert and cranberry as a topping, then that’s me, sorted 🙂 I have eaten camembert and cranberry on pizza, croissants, even breakfast omlettes. So last night I decided it was time I attempted my own camembert and cranberry dish…

I went to my dad’s house for dinner, and after much debate about what to do for dinner, I eventually convinced him that gourmet burgers were the way to go. He wanted pineapple and cheese burgers, but I persuaded him that my idea was better!!

Ingredients:
Ostrich meat patties (much healthier than beef, and really tasty)
Whole cranberries in sauce
Camembert cheese (in slices)
Seeded health rolls
(And even add caramelised onion rings or bacon strips for some more variation, but I decided to keep it a bit more plain)

Grill the patties until cooked, then slice up the camembert and let them melt in the oven under the grill. Heat up cranberry sauce, spoon over patty and cheese, and serve on a health roll 🙂

I don’t think my dad was too convinced. he still was persistent that pineapple is better! But I loved it, just like I enjoy any meal with those two juicy and delicious elements…

Mmmm…..

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Moroccan Chicken

Oh wow it was so cold yesterday, and one of my best friends came to visit…I didnt have much at home to work with except some veggies, left over chicken breasts from the previous night chicken, and found a box of cous cous in the cupboard!! Awesome, easy lunch = done!!

Ingredients:
Chicken strips
Roasting veggies
Cous cous
Feta

I cut up the chicken breasts from the night before into thin strips. They had been spiced with some curry powder, salt and pepper.
I cooked the cous cous according the box instructions, which was to add 125 ml of hot water to a packet of dry cous cous. Leave to stand then stir with a fork to seperate the granules.
The veggies are what took up the longest to cook…I used butternut, potatoes, red onions, baby marrows and red peppers. Cut them all up, put them in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them in an oven and bake at 200 Degrees Celcius for about 40 mintues. Once dished altogther on a plate, crumble the feta on top of the meal. Feta just makes it even better!

And thats it 🙂 super simple, just takes some time to prepare the veggies, but you can also buy them prepared and just shove them in the oven! Perfect meal for a cold day, along with a glass of red wine to finish it off 🙂 yummmmm

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Apricot and Lemon Chicken Breasts

After a long, unhealthy and fatty weekend, I decided we needed a bit of a healthy detox dinner…and hopefully that will carry on through the week!! I worked all day yesterday, got home tired and lazy, so I had to find something that was simple, quick, but still healthy and delicious!!

Ingredients: (for 4 people)
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1tsp curry powder

Sauce:
1 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Salad:
shredded lettuce
slices of cucumber
cherry tomatoes
spring onion

So easy to do…put togther the salad ingredients on a plate. The chicken will be served on top of the salad mix.
Mix together the salt, pepper and curry to make a dry seasoning, and rub all ove the chicken breasts. Cook on a well greased pan.
On a seperate pan, add the apricot, lemon juice and water, let them melt together and stir until smooth. Then pour onto the chicken breasts in the pan and let the chicken absosrb the juices.
Dish the chicken on top of the salad, pouring more sauce over the chicken and the salad, as a salad dressing too. Decorate the breasts with spring onion on top.

This meal is so light and tasty, and makes you feel healthy 🙂 and it forces you to eat the salad! I will defintely be eating this again…

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Rum Sultana (not) Cheesecake

I had my first fail…EPIC FAIL!! haha

It all started with a lovely idea…an easy looking recipe that would please a large group of people. We are still down the coast for the weekend, and last night another family made a delicious chicken stir-fry! Then we were all nibbling on a cheese and biscuit platter, and my home-made baked cheesecake was going to be the perfect end to the evening. And 2 of the children in the house were very keen to give a hand, which is hard to say no to. So lets just say cleaning up was interesting!!

It went wrong from the word go…I forgot to buy the correct amount of ingredients, so made 2 trips to the shops. The house we are staying in doesn’t have an electric beater, nor a rolling-pin, and not even a measuring jug! So it was all a bit of estimation and improvisation.

Ingredients:
75g sultanas
5 tbsp rum (but I used more)
300g crushed ginger nut biscuits
40g melted butter
800g cream cheese
200g castor sugar
2 tbsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs

The recipe I followed said I needed a springform cake tin to put it in, but alas, no cake tin lying around either, so I used a glass baking dish instead!

1) Soak the sultanas in rum in a bowl for about 8-10 hours.
2) Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius. Heat a deap pan on the stove, melt the butter and add the biscuits togther so that they mix and get sticky. Line the bottom of the cake dish with the mixture, pushing it down(with your hands is easier). Keep it in the fridge to cool and harden.
3) Whip the cream cheese with an electric beater (which I did not have – instead the 2 other kids and I used a fork each and stirred like crazy). Once softer, add castor sugar, and carry on whisking. Add the salt and vanilla essence and beat more.
4) Slowly add the eggs one at a time, and mix.
5) Add the soaked sultanas, and stir them into the mixture. I added all the excess rum too, just for some real taste, because the sultanas didn’t seem to soak up enough rum in the 8 hours. Then pour the mixture into the dish lined with the biscuits.
6) Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to cool. Then cut up and serve.

Well it was baking and smelling so good. I turned the oven off and let it cool. But everyone was impatient and wanted dessert immedietely, so I served the “cheesecake” warm. Clearly it wasn’t cheesecake…more of a warm kind of cakey dessert. The only thing it needed was some custard, ice-cream or whipped cream. And it was actually quite tasty, even though it was not cheesecake.

I left the little bit left over in the fridge over night, and took it out this morning to taste…ok ya definitely not edible cold. So instead of eating it cold I have decided it is now a warm dessert 🙂 haha

I don’t know if it was a terrible fail. At least it was still edible, just not the way it was supposed to be!! If you wish to give it a try, then I hope for you it works out and tastes good cold. But I am glad everyone was impatient and that I served it warm…cos it was much better that way!! just saying 🙂

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Margaritas on the Beach

This weekend my family and I went away down the coast for the Easter weekend with some friends! Each family has to take turns doing meals, so Friday night was our turn! My mom sat down chilling with her friends while I did the cooking, along with all the enthusiastic kids! We decided to do a mexican burrito evening…along with Margaritas too 🙂

Its a simple dinner just lots of prepping involved!

Ingredients:
Mince
Onions
Baked beans
Chilli con carne sauce
Shredded lettuce
Tomato salsa
Grated cheese
Sour cream
Avo guacamole
Tortilla wraps

Started with frying the onions in a pan and then adding the mince. Once cooked I added the chilli sauce, beans and more spicy stuff for flavour! That was the easy part! (Minus me crying from cutting the onions).

Grating the cheese – check
Shredding lettuce – check
Tomato salsa – chopped up tomatoes into small chunks, add some onion pieces and coriander. Didn’t add chilli bits because there were kids who had to eat
Avo guacamole – mushed up avo with a fork, added salt and pepper, and lemon juice. We didn’t have vinegar so the kids thought it would be funny to add a shot of tequila instead!
Whipping sour cream – not as easy as it looks and very messy

That’s about it hey! And then the rest is up to everyone else to choose their toppings and make it themselves! Fold and enjoy 🙂 Its a messy and fun food that everyone really enjoyed, especially the kids! Haha 🙂

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