Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Fresh Veggies

It’s our second anniversary! Yay, we’re toddlers! It’s been two years since Ann, the hardworking, dedicated, passionate chefsordinaire at Grubbs n Critters, and I, started our Monthly Mystery Munchies, and it’s been an awesome experience. It’s been challenging, exciting, interesting, but, most of all, it’s been a hugely rewarding and positive experience. Ann, thank you for your commitment, enthusiasm, patience and friendship! Here’s to another two years!

This month, the theme was simple: green, yellow and red. That was it. I loved the simplicity of it, but also the wide range. I mean, anything goes, as long as it’s those colours. That’s the fun thing – we could make a meat dish, veggie dish, side dish, main dish, dessert, baked dish, anything! Absolutely anything! And how fun when I made a cold couscous salad, and Ann made a swiss roll! It’s all open to interpretation, which makes it curious and fun!

I chose couscous salad with baby tomatoes, red onions, a trio of peppers, olives and chickpeas. I serve this salad as a main course, and when I say it’s ridiculously easy, I’m not joking. There’s no cooking involved, except for preparing the couscous. That’s it. The whole thing literally takes five minutes – wash and slice the veggies while the couscous is standing in hot water. Mix together. Top with chickpeas. Done.

Ann made a giraffe-inspired Swiss roll and it looks delicious AF. I basically produced a five-minute dish, and she totally pushed the boat out! She added peaches as her ‘yellow’, but the kids weren’t feeling the vibe. I personally think it’s a great addition! Aaand she used red velvet colouring as the base, and stuffed it with so much yesssness (that’s a word, I promise! (I’m looking at you, mascarpone cheese!) The result? Well, check it out for yourself. (It does not disappoint!)

So, if you’re into raw, fresh ingredients, and you don’t have much time to prepare dinner, this is your guy. You can serve this as a side dish, which works well too. No fuss, no missioning, just easy, quick food. YES! However, if you’re looking for a Swiss roll stuffed with all things cream, Ann’s recipe is the way to go.

Couscous salad with fresh veggies

  • Time: Literally 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: My 5 year old niece could ace this
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Supplies:

2 cups cooked couscous (soaked in water and chicken stock)
500g halved baby tomatoes
1 sliced red, yellow and green pepper
1 sliced red onion
Kalamata olives
30g crumbled feta
1 drained tin chickpeas

Making it Happen:

Cook the couscous per package instructions but add chicken stock to the water.
While the chicken stock is soaking, slice the veggies.
Add the chicken stock to a large dish, then add veggies and the drained chickpeas.
Crumble with feta and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #23: Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling Topped with Chocolate Ganache

Yes, the title is a mouthful, but so are these cupcakes! This month’s theme made me so incredibly happy! I mean, I freaking love baking, and I love frosting, and filling of any variety, so let’s play! Ann’s instructions were: something with frosting and/or filling and you can use frosting as filling and vice versa. I mean!! Listen to this: Chocolate cupcakes hollowed out and filled with cream cheese frosting, then topped with chocolate ganache. Hashtag inheaven! When you first bite into the cupcake, there’s a distinct chocolatey taste, swiftly followed by a burst of creamy vanilla, then finished with a creamy ganache. Lots of creaminess, so much of!

Please click your way over to Grubbs n Critters and check out Ann’s delicious offering for this month’s challenge – choux (cream puffs) with Mascarpone cheese filling. The tummy wants what it wants! I have no doubt you will luh it!

Here we go…

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling Topped with Chocolate Ganache

Cupcake Supplies:

1 cup (100g) flour
¾ cup (75g) cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup (80g) white sugar
½ cup (80g) brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons Bulgarian yoghurt

Cream Cheese Frosting Filling Supplies:

100g butter, room temperature
150g plain cream cheese, also room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)

Chocolate Ganache Supplies:

80g dark baking chocolate
80ml cream

Making It Happen:

Cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 180°C (375°F). Whisk the butter and sugar on high until well mixed.
Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt and whisk on low for 10 seconds. The batter will be crumbly.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined, scraping down the sides and bottom well.
Whisk in the yoghurt and vanilla essence, beat on low for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom and give it one last beat, about 5 seconds.

Fill the muffin cups half full and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes our clear. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then refrigerate for half an hour.

While the cupcakes are chilling, make the filling, and then the ganache.

Cream Cheese Frosting Filling: In a large bowl, beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese on high for a minute. about 5 seconds. Sift in the icing sugar, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until loosely combined, then beat until fully combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla paste and give it one last stir.

Remove the chilled cupcakes from the fridge and hollow out the centre using a serrated knife, slicing the top off and keeping aside. Using a piping bag, fill the centre of each cupcake with frosting. Place the top back on, kinda like a lid. Refrigerate again.

Chocolate ganache: Heat the cream and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and allow to cool. Once chilled, scoop one tablespoon onto the cupcakes.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #22: Rugelach

rugelach-cooked-1Oh yeah! Pastry filled with peanut butter and chocolate chips, anyone? My hand bolts up! Rugelach – this month’s recipe, is a popular treat in Israel, and apparently America is enthusiastic about it too. Can’t say I blame them! This traditionally Jewish delight was usually reserved for special occasions such as Hanukkah, but it’s become more popular and now it’s made for any occasion. I’m hosting a dear friend’s birthday shindig this month, for 20 people, and I wanted to find something interesting and plentiful to feed the masses. I found this, and I’m hooked! Speaking of hooked, Ann made Bodhi (Fig) Pudding in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Well, I for one heart this recipe! Ann, like me, doesn’t like OTT V Day vibes, so I think making a fig-based dessert is the perfect break from the traditional chocolate treats. I feel ya, Ann!

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Flaky pastry smothered in peanut butter, topped with chocolate chips, rolled up and baked in the oven, literally melts in your mouth. This is a fitting recipe for this month’s theme – a dish that’s derived from a different culture for special occasions. Ann was, as always, down with this. Aah, I love her enthusiasm! No matter what the theme, she is always up for the challenge. Check out her take on this, and prepare to be wowed!

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Rugelach

  • Time: 2 hours chilling, 20-25 minutes baking
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Supplies:

2 sticks/1 cup/230g cold salted butter*, cubed
230g/8 oz cold cream cheese
¼ sour cream
2 cups flour + 4 tablespoons for sprinkling on surface
* You can use unsalted butter, just add ¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg for brushing

For The Filling:

1 cup melted smooth peanut butter divided into ¼
½ cup dark chocolate chips divided into ¼

Making It Happen:

In a food processor, add the flour, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Pulse until the dough is crumbly and coming away from the sides. Do not over-process.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour onto a clean surface and form a rough ball with the dough. Divide it into four pieces, forming a ball for each, cover in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Again, sprinkle flour onto a work surface and sprinkle a bit onto your rolling pin.
Roll the dough from the center out, forming a circle, and until the dough is about 1/8inch thick.
Take a 9 inch cake pan, place it hollow side down onto the dough, and cut the edges off to form a neat circle.

Heat the peanut butter in the microwave until runny, and, starting from the centre, spread it over the dough until it’s about 1 inch from the outer side. Sprinkle choc chips over the peanut butter.
Using a shark knife, halve the circle. Halve it again, and continue until it’s cut into eight triangles. It will look like a pizza. Yum.
Starting from the outer egde, roll each triangle up and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough balls.
Heat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Remove the chilled rugelach from the fridge. Place parchment paper on a baking tray, lay your rugelach down and brush with egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Your can refrigerate this for several days, and freeze it too.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #21: Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

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Delicioso! This month’s theme was chosen by Ann, and wow, it was a goodie! Breakfast, they say, is the most imprtant meal of the day. (Side note: Who exactly are the mysterious”they”? “They” say a lot, but I tend to agree with “them” on this one!) I entered into this challenge with curiosity and muchos excitement. We’ve never done a breakfast challenge for our Monthly Mystery Munchies, so this was an excellent, and challenging, idea.

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See, I frikken love all things spice. And eggs. Gotta love eggs. The result, you ask? Huevos rancheros – a traditional Mexican breakfast consisting of a tomato-y veggie salsa, topped with eggs, and rolled in a tortilla. This dish is flexible though, so I served it on seedloaf. We also had it for dinner last night, and it was bomb! Yummers! I desperately wanted to make guacomole, but ffs, all the avos were hard. Blah. Anyway, we soldiered forth (we = The Husband and I. He loves giving input, because he is the guinea pig, a role he happily, uh, relishes. See what I did there?). Oh, and “ffs” stands for “for food’s sake” – get your mind out of the gutter!

As much as choosing one recipe was a challenge, this one is not only a fiery start to the day, but it’s easy to boot. Fry up some sweet peppers, chillies, garlic, and tomatoes. Add egg. Top with coriander. I mean! See, easy, yes? Yes! I played around with this recipe and the final result is, in my opinion, muy bueno! I’m pumped about Ann’s recipe – “Hearty Breakfast Quiche“! QUICHE, people! #BeStillMyBeatingHeart #QuicheForBreakfastIsTheNewBlack! Ch-ch-check it out at Grubbs n Critters, and feast your eyes (and tummies) on her latest offering and so much more.

Happy New Year folks, and may it be a year filled with gastronomical delights!

Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

  • Time: 20ish minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy (or over-easy)
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Supplies:

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
Mixed sweet peppers, I used yellow and red, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced (I leave the seeds in for an extra bite, but you can remove them)
1 teaspoon dried cumin
2 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Tortillas/toast/whatever you want to serve it with
Fresh coriander to garnish

Making It Happen:

Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and fry until softened and lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the cumin and chillies and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the peppers, tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry your eggs to your liking (I perfer them with runny yolk but solid whites). Scoop the salsa onto your tortilla/bread/whatevs, place your egg on top, garnish with coriander and remember to remove the bay leaves.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #20: Marinated Ostrich Fillets

ostrich-fillet-3-2Caaaaan you even believe it – Ann and I are four recipes away from our two year anniversary! I am as excited and enthusiastic about our monthly blog challenge as if it were recipe number one! Oh yeah! So you may have noticed that it’s the end of the year (where tf has time even gone?). It’s a time where everybody feels exhausted, over it, and soooo ready for a break. This month for our Monthly Mystery Munchies, my criteria was simple: marinade meat, either on the barbeque, or grilled in or on the oven/hob. You see, it’s braai (BBQ) season in South Africa. Actually, we braai in the rain too; we’re that committed. However, the sun is out, summer is here, and the fridge is stocked with beer (his) and white wine (mine) in anticipation of this quintessential South African pastime.

When I was tossing ideas around, The Husband happily agreed to oblige me because beer. He loves nothing more than standing around open flames, talking about whatever, having a beer (six pack) and enjoying the weather. Marinades are easy, delicious, and fun to play around with. The reason I chose ostrich fillet is because it’s something different. Although grossly expensive, it’s such a treat. It tastes like beef but it’s the healthier red meat alternative. It’s not fatty, on the outside or inside, and it’s just yuuuum.

Ann and I were on a roll. We have our Monthly Mystery Munchies specs planned until March. So much excitement. Ann always comes up with the best challenges, like her satay medley for this month. That’s right, not one, but two types of meat – chicken and beef. It’s winter in her neck of the hemisphere, so barbeques are no bueno, but she never shies away from an idea. Never ever. I adore her. Always game and enthusiastic! Ya know what? Head over to her site anyway… She has sheet loads of awesome recipes, jokes, anecdotes, you name it.

Here we go with marinaded ostrich fillets. Easy and delicious, the way it should be!

Marinated Ostrich Fillets

  • Time: 6 minutes
  • Difficulty: I mean, monkey easy
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Supplies:

500 grams ostrich fillets
125ml red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Making It Happen:

Mix all ingredients. Pour over ostrich fillets, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Fire up your barbeque or griddle pan and remove the meat from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking it.

Cook for 2 minutes per side, and serve immediately. See? Monkey easy. 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #19: Chilli Hummus with Roast Veg

hummus-1058003_1920Hummus! This is what came to mind when Ann gave me the outline for this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies challenge. A minimum of three veggies and one non-meat protein. Hummus is something I’m slightly obsessed with, particularly with added chillies. Side note: The first time I made hummus, I used three chillies. You know, because I’m badass and I love spicy food, thinking “oh, I can totally eat this, watch me!” I cried. I literally cried. I hadn’t finished blitzing the hummus in the food processor when I had a taste, and I took a mouthful of half a chilli, seeds and all. Mouth on fire, I washed my hands and then rubbed my eyes. Bad move. Really bad move! Apparently the chilli oils cling to the skin, so washing your hands ain’t gonna be enough. Just so that you know.

veg-hummus-3-2So what exactly is hummus? It’s easy and delicious, that’s what. It’s an Egyptian dip or spread made from chickpeas, tahini (ridiculously easy to make), garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Blitz everything together until smooth and serve with veggies. You can serve it with raw veggies, like carrots, celery, peppers, etc, or cook them, as I did. What I did in the case of cooked veg is I mixed the hummus with the veggies once they’d cooked. The leftovers I used as a dip for a barbecue. You can leave the chilli out, or add it for a zing, just don’t touch your eyes!

Please head over to Grubbs n Critters for Ann’s interpretation of this month’s theme. I love our Monthly Mystery Munchies challenge, and Ann is theeee best partner. She is always game, always keen and enthusiastic, and always inspires me!

Chilli Hummus

  • Time: 5 - 7 minutes
  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Supplies:

2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and 4 tablespoons reserved
2 tablespoons tahini (see recipe below to make your own)
2 garlic cloves
1 bullet chilli
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh basil or coriander for decorating (optional)

Making It Happen:

Using the metal blade attachment, blitz the garlic in the food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients plus the 4 tablespoons of reserved chickpea liquid, to the food processor and blitz until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

Optional: Garnish with fresh herbs and some toasted seeds.

It’s literally that easy.

For the roast veggies:

Lay 4 chopped red peppers, 400g broccoli florets, 300g halved zucchinis, and 300g green beans in a roasting dish. Drizzle olive oil over the veg, crack some black pepper and salt, mix, and roast on 200C (400F) for 20 minutes. Mix hummus with the roast veggies and serve.
Alternatively, serve hummus with raw veggies.

Tahini

  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Supplies:

1 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil

Making It Happen:

In a non-stick pan, toast the sunflower seeds on medium for 2 minutes. Toasting the seeds will make the tahini ‘nuttier’ like me.

Using the metal blade attachment, blitz the sunflower seeds for 3-ish minutes. Add the olive oil and blitz for another 2 minutes.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #18: Bloody Good Tomato Soup

mmm-tomato-soup-halloween-1

Double, double, toil and trouble! This month, my Best Blogging Friend, Ann (Grubbs n Critters) and I decided to do a Halloween meal. But who knew there were so many options? A spidery cake was really appealing, but because I suck like a Cullen at decorating, I did a spicy tomato soup, complete with freaky eyeballs.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

This reminds me of a scene in the Addams Family, where Gomez and Mortitia are looking at baby Pugsley in the crib. Gomez: He has my father’s eyes. Morticia: Gomez, take those out of his mouth. Hashtag DEAD! In honour of one of my favourite movies, I added ‘eyes’ to the soup.

This was all a bit of fun, the soup ‘decorating’. (You can see what I mean when I say decorating ain’t my forte!) This recipe is totally amazeballs when served under normal, non-Halloween circumstances. Simply blitz all ingredients, slice the prosciutto and mozzarella, chop up the parsley, add some halved olives and a few dollops of sour cream, and you’re good to go! But if you want to vibe it up, here’s my unfortunate attempt:

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My dearest Ann’s bewitching kitchen treat this month is the friendliest ghost, Casper’s Pannekoek (pancakes). It’s a hit with kiddies and adults alike, so please check this ghoulicious delight out!

Bloody Good Tomato Soup

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: dead easy
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Supplies:

2 yellow onions
2 red onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
1kg large tomatoes
2 red and 2 green bullet chillies
1 red, yellow & green pepper
1 x tin 400g whole peeled tomatoes
240g tomato puree
1 cup veg or chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 pieces prosciutto
6 mozzarella balls
Sour cream
Italian parsley

Making It Happen:

Heat the olive oil and add chopped onions and garlic. Fry for 2 minutes, then add the chillies and peppers. Fry until soft and the onions are translucent.

Chop the fresh tomatoes and, with the canned tomatoes, add them to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the tomato puree and vegetable (or chicken) stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to your liking. Blitz in a food processor until smooth. Pour into bowls, then carve a hole in the mozzarella balls, place the olives in each hole, then wrap in prosciutto. Place in the soup and add a dollop of sour cream.

Alternatively, if you want a more normal-looking soup,blitz all ingredients, slice the prosciutto and mozzarella, chop up the parsley, add some halved olives and a few dollops of sour cream, and you’re good to go! Dunzo. It’s dead easy!