Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pizza-Inspired Salad

A healthy salad inspired by pizza? Strange concept I know, but true. The other night I was having dinner with friends at an Italian pizza place here in Galway, called Milano's. My favourite pizza was one my friend got, featuring rocket (which I think is also known as aragula?), proscuitto, walnuts and maple syrup. That alone may not have been enough to convince me to combine those flavours as something else, but that week I also tried a recipe that I found online for spinach and parmesan quinoa, which I ended up not really liking at all. The problem, I think, was that the spinach was added to the hot quinoa and allowed to wilt and cook, which to me made it taste sort of bitter. So I thought, how could I change that recipe to better fit my tastes? Well, by letting the quinoa cool and making a salad of course. But just spinach would be boring. Why not add rocket, toasted walnuts and crispy maple-syrup bacon? Now that sounds like a good salad. Plus some shaved parmesan, in addition to the grated parmesan stirred into the quinoa.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Frosted Cupcakes

It has been a whole week since I have posted, and just as long since I have baked! How have I continued to survive without baking I don't know. I guess for one thing, last week's flapjacks lasted all through the weekend and the beginning of this week, to satisfyy sweet tooth. Then last Sunday I was at a friend's house for dinner where I learnt that green jelly from Germany is not lime flavour like everywhere else! It is woodruff flavour and really yummy, especially when you eat it with a very generous drizzle of sweetened condensed milk! However I really can't just continue not baking, especially when a friend of mine is off to America for an exchange programme and by the time she gets back I will have gone back to New Zealand. Before she goes she had to have one last cupcake from me. So this week's creation is for Autumn and Halloween - chocolate fudge cupcakes with spiced pumpkin buttercream! Which, coincidentally, fit into this month's #chocolateparty, but I wish I could take better photos for these blog-hops and linky-parties.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oatmeal & Raisins

Today brings us yet another improv challenge from Frugal Antics and this month's ingredients are oatmeal and raisins. Now I already have plenty of recipes featuring these two ingredients but I guess another won't hurt. British flapjacks are oatie cookie-bars and must be about the easiest thing I have ever made. Which is perfect because at the moment I really just don't have the time. I have a thesis to finish and a deadline (a self-imposed one) of two months. Because after that I am flying home for Christmas and I would really like to not have the thesis looming over my head at the point. Needless to say, I am currently under a lot of pressure and so stressed that I feel sick in my stomach most of the time. Which means that for the next couple of months the blog posts might be few and far between, and perhaps short like this one. I can't wait until it is all over. And I'm really looking forward to getting some NZ summer, after the non-existant summer that Ireland had this year.

Anyway, on to the recipe...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Apple Pie

Last week was crazy cooking challenge time again and I completely forgot. After the woe of finding out that it was finishing the maker of the challenge relented, because nobody wanted to let it go, including herself. I missed last month because it was homemade ranch dressing, which is a very American thing and I don't know anything about it nor have an immediate reason to eat it, though I do have a recipe set aside that I'd like to try. This month, however, was something that I am interested in making - apple pie! And then I went and forgot to join in. So I am making my chosen entry a week late. Apple pie is not so common at home, or at least not for me, where it is all about the apple crumble and maybe an apple shortcake, while here in Ireland they call it an apple tart (though it has pastry on the top as well as the bottom so I think that makes it a pie). Which means I don't already have a great apple pie recipe. The recipe that I'm going to try today has been on my list for a long time. I saw it on a blog hop and now that I have Pinterest it is sitting there on one of my boards. And since I have mentioned it, I just want to say that I have very quickly grown to love Pinterest. I like it far better than twitter. Before Pinterest I had been saving links in a file to the dozens of recipes that I see online and want to try. Now all of those links have become pins and there are pictures to go with them! It makes it so easy to know what I want to make. And terribly tempting.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Banana Friendship-Bread Muffins

Most of my posts lately have been about sweet things. That's not because I am only eating sweets, it's just that the normal food I am cooking is nothing new and special. Though it might also be because I am eating too much junk food. I'm now determined to cut down on the sweets and be healthy again. I guess I will just have to share even more of what I bake so that there is less left for me. Today I have gone back to my Amish friendship-bread starter, which I now keep in the fridge so that I don't have to use it so much. The problem with making a loaf of sweet bread is that it is too easy to have a second slice, and then a third slice, and before you know it you have eaten it all. So today I have made Amish friendship-bread muffins. It worked perfectly and now my friendship-bread is already divided into controlled portions, so hopefully I can stick to my one-treat-per-day rule. This version of the friendship-bread features bananas and it is delicious! The outside is sort of sugary and crunchy and the inside is soft and full of flavour.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stuffed Crust Pizza

Last night was a girls' night featuring homemade pizza, wine and a rom-com called Date Night. Not only was there pizza, it was a stuffed crust pizza. It's easy to make your own stuffed crust pizza and so much better than anything that you can get from pizza hut. You make a thick cheese sauce and add some mozzarella so that it's all stringy. I haven't had pizza hut in a long time but the last time I checked the cheese in the crust is sort of tasteless and congeals really quickly. This is so much better.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chewy Golden Syrup Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with a friend and she made this amazing cookie slice for dessert. The mixture was like a stiff dough, which was shaped into two long logs. When they were baked they flattened out and came out of the oven all golden and crispy. They were sliced into rectangles - the outside was crispy and the inside really chewy and I just couldn't stop eating them! So I asked for the recipe, which we had to translate into English as I copied it down, as my friend Salla is Finnish and this is clearly some sort of Finnish recipe. She told me they were called 'Wilhemina's' but when I googled it to double check the recipe I didn't find any sort of cookie slice with that name. So I estimated everything, on account of my scales being broken and the dry ingredients of Salla's recipe being in decilitres. Do people actually measure stuff in decilitres? Well luckily I had taken a nibble of the unbaked mixture and watched as Salla rolled the dough so I had a rough idea of what taste and texture they should have. I got my dough to the right texture and then rolled it into cookies. Then came one of my usual excessive additions to make a really cavity inducing treat - I made them into something like thumbprint cookies with a dollop of caramel in the centre. It was really not necessary because these cookies are amazing plain, but it definitely didn't do them any harm. It may do my waistline harm though.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chocolate Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

It's cupcake day again, and this week my excuse was a friend's birthday. I wanted to do something special, something that would taste amazing and look really pretty. So I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with strawberry buttercream, a combination I'd been thinking of for awhile. Only I wanted there to be a little something extra. So this week I bring you surprise cupcakes - chocolate cupcakes with a dollop to caramel in the centre and pink strawberry buttercream on the top. I used my large 1M frosting tip to make a flower shape by simply holding the tip straight above the cupcake, only about a half centimetre away from the surface, and squeezing until the frosting had spread out around the tip, then lifting the tip quickly to make a point. If you had something circular like decorative sliver balls or some sort of small round candy (like M&Ms maybe) you could place it in the centre to make it really look like a flower. I think I'll have to try that next time. For now I have to find people to eat these cupcakes so that they are not sitting there tempting me to have another one.