Monday, November 25, 2013

Birthday Breakfast - Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Icing and Candied Bacon

It was recently my birthday, and given there’s not currently an actual law allowing me to not be at work and still be paid…I thought I would at least make sure I had a decent breakfast. I may have stated on a few occasions that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I often eat breakfast at my desk at work, as I get in pretty early, and so I wanted something different for birthday morning. Something delicious. And something easy to prepare and eat. Which meant I needed something with maple syrup. With bacon. And something I can just pick up and chomp on. This has the benefit of being pretty darn healthy, too. Wholemeal flour, pumpkin, greek yoghurt, no extra butter or oil and no processed sugar. Until you add the icing, anyway. And bacon doesn’t count as being bad for you. Especially not on your birthday.

I cross my fingers that one day, Melbourne Cup Day becomes an Australia-wide public holiday so that every time it falls on my birthday I get a day off work. Until then, there are these muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Icing and Candied Bacon
½  cup wholemeal flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2/3 cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼  tsp salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup Greek yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup honey

5 tbsp icing sugar
2 drops aromatic bitters
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp milk (+ more if required)

Candied bacon
4 bacon middle rashers, fat removed and very finely diced
3 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch black pepper

Fry the bacon pieces until coloured and slightly crispy. In a small bowl, mix the cayenne pepper, black pepper and maple syrup. Pour in the bacon, stir to coat well. Spread out onto a lined baking tray. Don’t allow it to clump too much.

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C). Line a muffin tray with papers.

In a bowl whisk all the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl whisk all the wet ingredients together until well combined.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Spoon the batter into the patty pans.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden on top. Put the bacon into the oven at the same time. Bake for 10 minutes or so, until the bacon gets crispier and the maple syrup gets a toffee like consistency. Allow to cool completely.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tray before putting onto a rack to cool completely.

Whilst waiting for things to cool, sift the icing sugar into a separate bowl, then add the maple syrup and milk. Whisk until smooth. If necessary, add more milk to thin out. Add the bitters and mix very well. Be careful not to add too much bitters, you really only need 2 drops.

Drizzle a little on each muffin, then sprinkle some candied bacon on top and leave for the icing to ‘set’.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

I recently entered a Summer Bake-Off competition run by Nestle to win a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I’m sure I’ve said a bunch of times how much I want one, so the competition was just too good an opportunity to not enter! It’s currently in the judging stages, so I’ve crossed everything that I win…but in the meantime, this is the recipe I entered. I recruited some votes from work colleagues, so as thanks, I brought some in to work for them to try. And then charged them a gold coin donation to go towards my work’s Movember team. If you don’t know about Movember, check out their website, and all of the great work they do for various Men’s Health Charities.

Please note, the filling here makes more than enough for the biscuit recipe – but it’s difficult to halve a tin of sweetened condensed milk. So either make a few batches of the Snickerdoodles, or cheat and use pre-made biscuits to use up the rest of the ice cream filling. I normally use Arnott’s Malt-o-milks. Make a layer on a baking tray, spread the filling over the whole lot, top with another layer of biscuits and then freeze. When frozen, they ‘snap’ into individual biscuits.

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Ice Cream Filling
600mL whipping cream
1 can Nestle sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp Nestle malted milk powder

Follow the recipe in the link for the Snickerdoodles – making sure you flatten the biscuits well when shaping. Allow to cool completely.

In a bowl, use a hand beater to whisk cream until fluffy peaks form. Add the malt powder and beat further until fully incorporated. Then mix in the condensed milk.

Gently spread a decent amount of the ice cream mix onto a biscuit and place on a baking tray. Lay a second biscuit on top to make a sandwich. Continue until all the biscuits are used up. Freeze for at least 4 hours to set the ice cream. Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Midweek Meals - Chilli Prawn & Grape Tomato Tacos

On the days I have to head to the grocery store on the way home, it takes me forever to decide what to cook that night. Knowing that my options are limited only by what the store has sends my tastebuds into a frenzy. What do they want for dinner? Friday I spent pretty much the whole day changing my mind about what to eat. I wanted steak and chips. I wanted curry. I wanted pasta. I wanted burgers and chips. By the end of the day I was incredibly hungry. And tired. And I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops on the way home anymore. I just wanted to be home and eating. Brainwave. Prawn tacos. I have a few packets of prawns in my freezer for just this occasion. About half an hour in water while you prep everything else and they are thawed and good to go. I have a slight taco addiction too, so there is generally a few packets of tortillas in the cupboard ready to go.

My taco love also includes hot sauce love. In New Orleans, my favourite store was The Pepper Palace – a hot sauce mecca. Given the weight limit on suitcases, my husband and I tasted all of the sauces there and narrowed it down to 10 bottles. All unique and wonderful. The sauce I chose to go with these prawns was a sweeter style as it’s made with peaches. I realise that isn’t available here, so any other hot sauce or salsa you have is good if you want an extra kick – but the flavour of the prawns is enough that it doesn’t really need it.

Chilli Prawn Tacos
300g prawns, shelled
½ tsp chipotle chilli powder
½ tsp ancho chilli powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp raw sugar
juice from 2 lemons
250g Punnet grape tomatoes
1 red capsicum, julienned
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 sprigs coriander, chopped

Put a pan over medium heat, add the tomatoes, capsicum, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and chilli powders. Stir fry for a few minutes. When the tomatoes soften, pop them with the end of your spoon/spatula. Add the sugar and mix well.

Add the prawns, cook until pink – around 5 minutes, then stir through the parsley and coriander.

Serve with warm tortillas, greens, pickles, hot sauce of your choice (I went for a sweet style) and a crumbly, salty cheese like fetta