Christmas Day Spinach, Chorizo and Yoghurt Puff Pastry Squares

Few! Christmas is over just like that. I have been so busy I haven’t had time to write up any of the posts in my head or finalise any recipes. I didn’t even get to make the little chocolate covered gingerbread dough balls I was hoping to have ready before Christmas as my only token Christmas treat. Maybe next year?

Thankfully I do have recipes my mother and I used on Christmas Day to share with you. I can’t take credit for either of them and will be sharing my mothers pastry squares, they where very easy and very popular at Christmas lunch. The best part is they are designed to be served cold so you don’t have to worry about getting them to your party hot.

 

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I still can’t believe its December 30th and I am only getting around to finishing this post now! The pictures have been sitting in the media file since Boxing Day.

Spinach, Chorizo and Yoghurt Puff Pastry Squares

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 Sheets of Puff Pastry, thawed
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Leek, Chopped
2 Gloves of Garlic, Crushed
1 Tbs Black Mustard Seed
2/3 Tsp Ground Ginger
2 Cups Baby spinach
250 grams Greek Yogurt
1 Medium Chorizo skinned and chopped

Method

Line 2 large baking trays, then cut  the three sheets of pastry into nine individual squares. Before removing them take a fork or a toothpick and trace 1 cm border inside each square being careful not to cut completely through the pastry. Using the fork fill the centre of the pastry (inside the border) with pricked holes.

Once you have your finished squares, coat them with the egg and transfer each square onto a baking tray to cook for 15 – 20 minuets or until golden.

While the pastry is cooking heat the oil in a pan and cook the Leek, Garlic, Mustard Seed and Ginger until soft and fragrant, then add the spinach and cook until wilted. Transfer this too a bowl off the heat and let it cool.

Once you squares are cooked take them from the oven and let them cool. They should have a puffy edge with a mostly flat center like a little basket. If they do not, don’t worry! Take a knife and carefully cut along your border then push the centers down into the basket, no one will be able to tell the difference.

Once cooled fill each square with 1 1/2 tbs off Greek Yoghurt, top with your spinach mix and then sprinkle the chopped chorizo over the top.

Done!

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Now there is just New Years Day to go before everything starts to settle down! I don’t know about anyone else but I am ready for a break from my break.

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The Best Mushrooms on Toast

My biggest problem with savory food is I never measure or write down the ingredients. I am always tossing food into a pot and refiling through the fridge half way through because its just not quite right. For example I have a tomato based pasta sauce I make a lot, every time I make it though I take something that I didn’t love about the last one out and try something else. It’s been pretty amazing a couple of times but I can’t remember how much I put of what in it! Oops.

Of course starting the blog has meant I have had to start measuring things so I can post them.

So thankfully I know what went into this.

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Yup. That just happened.

I used to love mushrooms on toast for breakfast but for some reason I have not had it for a while. When I make it, its not just straight up mushrooms on straight up toast. Oh no. If I am having mushrooms on toast I want it to involve, butter, bacon and garlic. Mushrooms should always involve those things don’t you think?

The Best Mushrooms on Toast

Serves One

Ingredients

1/2 Brown Onion. chopped
1 tsp Butter
25g Shittaki Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Portabelo Mushroom, Chopped
50g Button Mushrooms, sliced
2 Rashers of Bacond, sliced
1 tsp lemon pepper spice mix
Sesoning
1 slice of turkish bread
Butter to spread
Crushed garlic to spread
Parmesan Cheese

Method

Turn on you oven grill to heat.

In a pan melt the teaspoon of butter, stir in the onion and cook for about half a minuet before adding the mushroom and cooking until you mushrooms have started to darken and shrink.

Next add the bacon, lemon pepper and season to your liking, then cook until the bacon is golden and your mushrooms are completely cooked. The mushrooms will be nice and dark.

While the bacon and mushroom mix are cooking slice your Turkish bread in half and pop under the grill. Keep an eye on it, when it’s toasted on one side to your liking flip and then remove once done. Butter the bread and scrap on some crushed garlic immediately so it melts in.

Top the bread with the mushrooms and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Oh My God. Yum

ImageMy favorite thing about this is it’s easy to remember so after you have made it once you can pick up the ingredients from the supermarket without needing a list!

It’s also an easy one for when you have guests over, no trying to poach 8 eggs at once happening here.

Ode to Coffee (Or two recipies to get your fix for breakfast)

I love coffee  I love good coffee.

Its the one thing I allow myself every day without feeling guilty, is it good for me? Who knows. Is it bad for me? Not as long as I am sticking to  a cup or two a day. A work collegue of mine was telling me recently that she had to cut down her coffee intake, apparently she was drinking 9 cups of black coffee a day. She would brew a big plunger first thing and then microwave it when it got cold (If I had emoji emoticons right now you would be seeing a little horrified face… actually wait a sec…)

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There we go, thanks google. I think I actually made that face when she told me this story, I might have even gone blue from the forehead to my eyebrows.

In the end this collegue of mine started getting migraines and heart palpitations. Which in the great big list of ‘signs your coffee habit is killing you’ is up there with a big flashing sign over your 9th cup. Don’t even get me started on the dehydration that must go hand in hand with that, yikes.

Anyway, back to how much I love coffee. In moderation, we are talking two cups at most.

Another thing I love are rolled oats. Which I have been told is very very boring as far as things to love go but rolled oats are probably one of the most versatile bases for breakfast I have come across. If you can drink it, you can probably turn it into porridge, if you like cake, you can probably make a baked oat version, if your in a hurry first thing overnight oats work a treat. Basically I am saying oats are the god of breakfast food… At least they are in my kitchen. I’m thinking about having a little shrine, do you think my housemate would mind?

Recently I have been mixing these two things together to make a wonderful breakfast of chocolatey, coffee goodness. Its all the enjoyment of a Mocha plus the added benefit of lasting you till your mid-morning snack.

ImageMocha Morning Oats

Serves One

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Brewed Coffee
1/2 Cup Milk of Choice*3 Medjool Dates
1/2 tsp Vanliia Essence
1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
2 tsp Chia seeds
1 tbs of Cacao Powder
Pinch of Salt

Method
In a blender combine the coffee, milk, dates and vanilla essence. Blend them until the dates are mostly chopped and mixed in. If you don’t have a blender you can chop the dates up very small and mix it all together, all the blending does is ensure even distribution of sweetness.

In a pot add the oats, chia seeds, cacao powder and salt then pour the coffee mixture in and stir. Turn you stove top on medium high and cook until most of the liquid has cooked in and it is quite thick.

This will re-heat quite well if you want to take it to work in the morning.

Note on Milk: I find with oats that the kind of milk you use will effect how sweet the recipe is. If you are using a non-sweetened almond milk or even a full fat dairy milk you may want to add and extra date. I was out of everything except soy when I made this so that is what I used and the soy milk we have is quite sweet on it’s own.

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The second recipe is based on an old love affair of mine. In Australia we have a coffee house chain called Gloria Jeans, it basically destroyed Starbucks hopes and dreams of successful business down under. I honestly didn’t even know we had Starbucks until I came across a store in the city a couple of years ago.

In year 12 I had an obsession with Gloria Jeans Iced Coffee. I think I had myself convinced it was better for me then the frappes somehow even though it tasted like someone had dumped 1 cup of sugar into every glass.

Now I drink my coffee black. No sugar, no milk, just black. Earlier this week however I had a craving for something sweeter and decided to re-create a healthier version of my old Gloria’s favorite.  You will notice similarities between these two recipes, like I said, if you can drink it, you can turn it into porridge so feel free to do that with your iced coffee.

 ImageNot Gloria’s Iced Coffee

Makes One Large Iced Coffee

Ingredients

3/4 Cup of Concentrated Coffee (I’ll explain bellow)
1 Cup Almond Milk (Or milk of choice)
4 Ice cubes
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
4 Medjool Dates

Method
To make the coffee concentrate I combined three heaped tablespoons of ground coffee with 2 cups of boiling water in a jar overnight and then poured it into a plunger so I could filter out the grains before pouring it back into the jar to keep. Your brand of coffee and how much you use will affect the taste of this drink so you may need to play with that. I did not want mine extremely strong.

Once you have your concentrate, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend very well. It may take a while for the dates to break up. It will help if you soak them overnight.

Then pour into a glass, add some ice and drink.

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I have decided that brown food is very hard to photograph.

Particularly with such pour lighting in my apartment and a very old camera….

Also at some point my neighbors are going to notice me taking photographs of my breakfast on a chair, with a shoebox on it in out little courtyard at 6:30 in the morning. You can only work with what you have right? hahaha! Image

Summer Green Smoothie

The first time I came across green smoothies I was more then a little skeptical… You mean you want me to put veggies in a blender with fruit and drink it…? Thankfully the post I found them on oh she glows blog almost two years ago now managed to convince me to at least give it a shot. Many green smoothies later I am still very much hooked, their tasty and I get to feel all good about getting a serving of veggies in first thing.

This particular recipe came about while I was hanging around yesterday waiting to be picked up from the hairdressers. Across the road there is this amazing grocer with all sorts of yummy speciality foods. Normally when I walk in there I leave with a very particular bran of haloumi cheese and a flavor of macaron from their little in store patisserie. This time though I was in the mood for something involving mangoes… which may or may not have had something to do with the giant crates out the front of the store.

This green smoothie requires a little preparation in the form of freezing the coconut water but it is worth it for the refreshing start to the day. Or end to the day, or middle of the day whatever you want really.

Make sure you pick a mango from a good grocer, so many of them are frozen prior to ending up on the shelf and they loose their flavor. Its very distressing.

ImageSummer Green Smoothie

Serves One

Ingredients

1/2 Ripe Mango
1/2-1 Cup Baby Spinach (depending in preference)
1 Cup Almond Milk
8 Coconut Water Ice cubes

Method:

Add everything to a blender, making sure the spinach has something heavier on to of it and blend till smooth. It will be this enough to add some berries on top if you like. If you want to make overnight I would add a teaspoon of chia seeds to the mix to ensure it stays thick.

ImageDoes anybody else love the color green in food like I do? Something about it is so fresh and light. Just like summer right?

Christmas Present for the Broke

Does anyone else feel like Christmas snuck up on them this year? I swear it was June a couple of weeks ago and suddenly I am stressing over what to get people for Christmas and dreading going to the shops to battle out the crowds. Time and cranky, stressed out people in large numbers aside there is also the tiny little issue of discovering that paying rent/living out of home and Christmas Present shopping are not friends. At all.

Mum, dad, I might need to steal all the Christmas lunch left overs till I get paid at the end of January. Hope that’s cool.

With the help of some friends suggestions I am putting together a little list of ways to make your friends and family smile this Christmas without breaking the budget, this time of year is a squeeze for everyone and even if keeping costs down isn’t a big deal for you something different can always be nice.

– The Baked Gift: I did this for all my friends a couple of years ago and it was great. All I needed to do was cook and then pack them away in some cute but cheap noodle boxes decorated in Christmas ribbon.
This is also a nice option if you want to give something small to your boss or maybe one of your kids teachers. Just be careful when your picking what to bake, there a quite a few people out there who don’t like Christmas cake (WHAT?!).

– The Arty Gift: I am doing this with an old friend this year, it was her suggestion actually. We all like to dabble in a bit of scribbling in our spare time so this year we are scribbling something special for one another.
If you can’t draw there are other ways to play with this, if your friend or family member likes to have journals or diaries try printing some cute photos and turning a blank journal into a memorable keepsake or if you like to write and you have kids you could make up a children’s book using family photos.

– The Craft Session: About 15 minuets away from me there is one of those plastcine painting places where you can take kids grown adults for a day of fun. One year I would love to take my friends or family there for a kind of Kris Kringle.
Everyone pulls a name out of the hat and then paints a plasticine figurine especially for the person. Alternatively everyone can pitch in to buy a big box of Chritmas decorations or cheap blank teapots and some paints and go nuts at home. Its a bit silly and a bit fun with a keepsake for everyone to take home at the end.

– The Kris Kringle: Speaking of Kris Kringles this one is an olde but a goody, particularly if you have older children who know all about how Santa is completely and totally real and definable doesn’t dip into their parents rapidly shrinking wallets to produce gift they had to have. They will probably also appreciate not having to figure out how to stretch their own part time job money across everyone.
Set the cost cap, pick the names, everyone gets something and your Christmas list just got shorter. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to break the rules and buy everyone a gift after this is agreed, it will make people feel guilty.

– The Pitch In: In case you have been living under a rock  not noticed Xbox and Playstation have launched new consoles, shiny shiny new toys to tempt us. If your in a living situation that allows it and everyone is slathering over the idea of a new gaming console (or tv, or coffee machine etc) but no one person can afford it split the cost and make it your Christmas gift to one another.
Again if your a parent with teenage kids who have no idea what to buy there sibling and both have a pricy gadget on their list this could be a way to keep everyone happy.

Most people know that Christmas isn’t about gifts, its about time, laughter, family, friends and FOOD. That said I think most people in part enjoy the feeling of buying things for the people they care about, even if it’s something small. Something that says ‘thanks for being in my life and I hope you have a great year next year.

Now I just have to summon up the bravery to face the Christmas hordes at Westfield….

Side Note: Managed to get the tree up this week! It’s themed and everything (I’m sad I know)

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