Monday, February 27, 2012

Creamy Mushroom Gnocchi

Serves 4

1 small garlic
4-5 semi sundried tomatos, chopped roughly
3 large flat mushrooms, cubed
2 teaspoons grain mustard
1/2 glass dry white wine
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder, I love massel
2 tablespoons sour cream
handful of fresh baby spinach
4 large basil leaves shredded

Packet fresh Gnocchi

Follow the packet directions for the Gnocchi. Get the pot of water onto boil.
Fry the garlic, sun dried tomato and mushrooms, in a little olive oil.
Add the mustard, stock powder and wine. Fry that until the wine has evaporated.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water.
Next add the sour cream, spinach and basil. Turn the heat off and set to one side. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take the gnocchi out of the boiling water, as soon as they float to the surface and add it to the creamy mushroom sauce.
I love to eat this with salty and creamy goats feta.
Serve straight away. Add a little more cream if needed, so they don’t stick together.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Banana, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Bread

I love to pack in as much stuff as I can when I'm baking a fruit bread. So realistically I should of called this Banana, Peanut Butter, Date, Chocolate, Nuts and Oats bread! But I decided not too as it was too much of a mouthful :P

I HAVE to always have something in the freezer for snack time. I don't have a slice everyday. Sometimes I will have yoghurt, fresh fruit and nuts. It depends on a) how busy I am and b) what I feel like.

I do have an uncontrolled addiction to baking fruit bread. I love the house smelling like a freshly baked loaf. There are no candle's on earth that will replicate this intoxicating smell.

I make so many bread's and I forget to blog about them all the time. But this one is a winner. I knew from the smell, that this was going to be incredibly delicious.

I had a small, way too hot to eat just as it came out of the oven slice. And even If I say so myself It is hands down my favourite loaf bread so far. I enjoyed it so much I wanted more. And I never do that. I never ever have seconds. It could also have been the fact I was watching Ellen and laughing my arse off, that I was a little distracted, so I didn't savour my food like I usually do.

This recipe would also make muffins. The wonderful thing about both, whether you make muffins or a loaf, they freeze well. So wonderful for school lunches ;)

I apologise the pics I took dont do this bread any justice. I cannot for the life of me get great food pics!

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of wholemeal S.R flour
1/4 cup of mixed chocolate chips, or half a block of dark chocolate cut into chunks
1/4 cup of vanilla caster sugar
1 cup of rolled oats
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/3 cup nuts, whichever you prefer, i used pistachios and almonds

Wet Ingredients

1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil
10 dried dates
2 eggs
1/3 of a cup of peanut butter
2 tablespoons of milk
2 ripe bananas 

Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced.
Place all the dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
Blend all the wet ingredients either in a food processor, or with a hand blender, till mixed. I leave it chunky with the dates.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry, mix until just combined. Pour into a baking paper lined tin bake for about 50 minutes, depending on your oven.

Its serious business eating banana :):):)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vanilla and Oatmeal Goats Milk Soap

I really love making cold pressed soap. My absolute favourite is making goats milk soap. It is so much easier than what I thought it was going to be.

The whole soap process is just like baking. You have all your ingredients measured out and ready to use. Then you add them in the right order and hey presto, SOAP!

Just like my fixation on knowing what I eat, I have to know exactly what goes into my soap products. See I used to have very bad acne...Nothing is worse than having adult acne! Honestly! At least when you are a teenager it is almost expected. I found it extremely embarrassing and I was mortified when my face would erupt.

I tried so many, many products and i must of spent way too much money. The products i tried were chemical filled and would work for a sort time, and i would be so happy. My skin and I would go out and be happy for such a short period. then it would be foul again within a week or two.

Then i discovered a product made in the USA, called Carley's clear and smooth. I was so happy with this product, but it was expensive to ship :(

Finally after doing some research online, i found recipes on making your own cold pressed soap. And it seemed complicated and frightening. I was worried about having to work with caustic soda. I have seen horrific burns made by caustic. 

But I thought it was try this or keep forking out way too much money on having products shipped. With all the right protective equipment I made my first batch of soap, and it turned out perfect! Oh happy days! Since then I have made so many I have had to place them in boxes for future use. Or for gifting, mostly to my family.

450 ml coconut oil
280 ml olive oil
56 jojoba oil
112 grams shea butter
112 mango butter
148 grams caustic soda
333 ml goats milk frozen into small cubes

Weight all the ingredients before you do anything. AND PLEASE BE CAREFUL USING CAUSTIC!!!!!!
Melt the butter and coconut oil together, then add the olive oil and jojoba. Set aside.
Line a mould with wax paper.

Start with putting the frozen goats milk in a large plastic container, and then that in a cold water bath. Carefully pour the caustic over the goats milk. The caustic will start to melt the frozen milk straight away. Stir to make sure it is incorporated.

Pour the caustic/goats milk mix into the oils.
Stick blend until you have a light trace. This is when I add my fragrance oils. Blend again until mixed well, but DO NOT over mix. (I find when using goats milk to make soap it tends to over mix very quickly!)

Pour into the mould. I cover the top with wax paper, then cover the whole mould in a towel to cool it down very slowly. I leave it over night then cut into desired bar sizes.

This loaf has lots of vanilla in it so, it will darken quite a bit, as above. I cure (dry) them for at least 2 months.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ive Been Everywhere Man...

I've been everywhere man.....well not quite but it sure feels like it.

I'm a Sydney girl. I love Sydney, for all it's crazy traffic, stupid house rentals and prices and food! You can get any type of food you can think of in Sydney.

I have lived most of my life in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Paddington to be precise. Paddington, or Paddo as residents like to call it, brings up mixed emotions for me. It is a beautiful suburb, with cafes, shops and the gorgeous Centennial park just up the road.

Actually everything is just up the road. You can walk to the city, or get a bus to Bondi Beach or Junction. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Paddo. Being so close to pubs, where all the cool kids go when your in your 20's, is pretty spoilt. And I know a lot of people that would be very jealous of my old address. Mostly I don't get why. For all the wonder that is Paddington, the markets on saturday alone make me want to move back there, it is quite seedy and cramped, and loud.

There was a party on all the time. You could never sleep in Paddo. The houses are terrace style, you  live so close to your neighbours, you can hear them breathe. The party's are killer, they don't stop at midnight, they go on for days! I had so much damage done to my car while living there too :(

A few more moves inbetween, Hubs and I ended up in the ACT for a year. Thank goodness it wasn't longer than that. Canberra depressed the heck out of hubby and I. I don't know what it was. We found it so difficult to make friends there, people seemed to be in these little cliques, and they were soooo difficult to get into. This is also where I was first pregnant and lost the baby, so we also put our dislike of Canberra down to that.

We then moved to the beautiful Nelson Bay. Wow what a stunning part of NSW to live in. The only problem, it was a retirement place. there was not much to do, besides eat very good produce. Which we love, but no hospital, we had to drive to Newcastle about an hour or so, so i could have little G, and for all the appointment etc.

We loved it in the Bay, but ended up having to move again, this time back to Sydney, all for hubby's work.

I now live in the West. Now for a girl who live her whole life in the east, it was a bit of a shock. I thought it was going to be horrid, what was i thinking. I am loving it. Property's are soooo much bigger, food is cheaper. So far I am loving it to bits. I went grocery shopping and picked up some loose salad leaves and a cucumber, and the guy charged me 1 DOLLAR! YEP 1 DOLLAR!!!!!! 

It is still very confusing for me, whats with Bankstown Centro? My god the worst shopping centre ever. I can't seem to navigate around there!!! It is way too confusing, and many people are horribly rude. Then again, my sense of direction is very bad. I get lost ridiculously easily. To the point of having to plant the night before exactly where it is I'm going, so it doesn't induce a full blown panic attack and the day of navigating. Thank you GPS! where were you when I started driving!!!!!

But lately I have been feeling very disconnected from Sydney. I don't know if it is cause I'm STILL living with the IN-LAWS. Or the fact that, we just want our own house. Something with a little backyard, nice and simple little brick home to call ours. Living in a room with a 7 months old is crap. Sydney is increasingly expensive. It is getting to the point where Hubs and I are thinking about another move, possibly Victoria? We both love it there. We are just not sure if it is the right fit for us.

Will we miss our families too much?
Can Hubs get a decent job there?
What are the hospitals like? 
Housing prices?
Everyday expenses?

So much to think about and more. I feel like im going to explode from all this thinking. I have been baking this morning like a mad woman, normally I find it soothing, doesn't seem to be working today. I think I need to take a breath have a cuppa tea and a slice of peanut butter banana bread.

Recipe for the banana bread to come soon! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuna Pasta Sauce

For some reason, tuna in pasta has never appealed to me. I have never really been a fan of anything but prawns in pasta. But tuna, oh BLERG! I really don’t know why!

When I was pregnant last year and eating the whole house clean and bare, I made a tuna pasta out of sheer desperation to eat something filling and substantial and at least healthy. I am so so happy I tried it.

Tuna gives the pasta a sort of meatiness without using meat, which I don’t like to eat a lot of. Meat without meat? Silly…

What Im trying to say it is makes it a little more filling and delicious. Especially if you use a really good quality tinned tuna. I tried the Coles tuna, big mistake, it is super salty and it is like cat food. I will never buy that brand again.

I also always add grated zucchini, and a big handful of baby spinach. Then whatever else I have in the freezer, which is usually, peas and corn, it gives it a sweetness.

This really is a yummy pasta to try, I will never understand why I didn’t try it sooner.

Tuna Pasta Sauce

½ small red onion
1 garlic chopped roughly
2 tins tuna, in olive oil
2 teaspoons grain mustard
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
½ glass white wine
2 tablespoons, light Philadelphia cream cheese
2 zucchini’s grated
½ lemon zested
handful of baby spinach, I used English cause it was fresh from the garden
¼ bunch dill, finely chopped
¼ bunch parsley, finely chopped
broad beans, peas or even corn, optional

Start with gently frying the onion and garlic in a little of the tuna tin oil.
Next add the mustard, stock and white wine. Simmer until the wine has evaporated.
I turn the gas off and add the rest of the ingredients, with a little of the pasta water, the cream cheese helps to bind everything together. And seriously, I hate using anything “light” but the light philly is delicious. If you really don’t like using it, use sour cream instead.
Toss through whichever pasta you prefer. I always seem to make spaghetti with this sauce.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jan Photo a Day. DAY 21-31

Day 21: Reflection. This is the reflection off my NEW CAR!!!!

Day 22: your shoes. I am almost always in sneakers. I know it isn't fashionable, but I don't care.

Day 23: something old. My mum gave me these to wear on my wedding day. They mean the world to me.

Day 24: guilty pleasure. I always have to have chocolate in the house. Especially if it's dark.

Day 25: something you made. Pear and Strawberry bread, recipe link.

Day 26: Colour, OPI nail polish 

Day 27: Lunch, this is my typical quick lunch.

Day 28: Light. The sunlight this day, was glorious, so little G and I spend a lot of time outside.

Day 29: Inside your fridge. I had to do freezer as I dont have a fridge.  This is the only space I get at the IL's place...

Day 30: Nature

Day 31: Me , Again.
I skipped this one...I'm actually kinda shy and hate having my pic taken, let alone showing it on my blog.