Words Crush Wednesday – Frank Warren Edition

Every news site is overflowing with images of displaced refugees, people risking life and limb to escape certain death in their home country. Ironic. I cannot imagine, on any level, being a child in that situation. My mind is literally incapable of envisioning it because my life is so far removed from their reality. Every life is worth something; may those children, and all children facing adversity and struggle, grow up and use those horrific experiences to propel them forward and be successful human beings.

Frank Warren

Check out more quotes at Rebirth of Lisa.

Gnocchi Alfredo with Chicken, Bacon and Mushrooms

Gnocchi Alfredo 7This recipe sounds shmancy and a mission. It’s not. While it will impress the crap out of your guests, or just you, it’s not difficult at all. This is the gist: fry stuff. Add cream. Mix stuff. Bake. Drool.

In this house, we are obsessed with gnocchi. And cheese. I blame myself for getting The Husband into it. We all have our crosses to bear. A few weeks ago we went out for dinner and The Husband had penne alfredo and mentioned, in passing, that I should try to recreate it, but with gnocchi. What’s that? A challenge? A pasta challenge? I’m in. I was extremely disappointed when a lot of recipes used pre-bought alfredo sauce. Really? Do you have any idea how easy it it? Don’t tell your guests, because as far as they’re concerned, based on the taste, you slaved for several hours. But really folks, it’s one of the least complicated and most yummiest recipes you’ll ever make. You’re welcome.

Gnocchi Alfredo

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Gnocchi Alfredo 11 package gnocchi (500g)
500g chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 pack shoulder bacon, sliced
400g chopped mushrooms
4 crushed and sliced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour for dredging
250ml cream
Fresh parsley + more for garnishing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
300g cheddar, grated
300g mozzarella, grated
Salt and pepper

Making it happen:

Gnocchi Alfredo 21. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium. Fry the bacon, mushrooms and garlic for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

 

 

Gnocchi Alfredo 32. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks, toss them in the flour and coat thoroughly. Heat the butter on medium and fry the chicken pieces for 5 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

Gnocchi Alfredo 43. Return the bacon and mushrooms to the pan, add the cream and 2 stalks parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

 

Gnocchi Alfredo 64. Heat your oven to 190°C (375°F). In the meantime, cook the gnocchi per package instructions.
Place the chicken, bacon and mushroom mixture in a large dish and toss with cheddar. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake for 20 minutes.

 

Gnocchi Alfredo 8

 

Words Crush Wednesday – RM Drake Edition

Aah, making peace with that which has left you tattered, fractured, possibly decimated, or maybe just shaken and upset. I’ve learnt that everything in life is a process, and trying to expedite it is fruitless. The process, by its very nature, has no concept of time. Once you surrender to it, there is a lightness that comes with no longer trying to control the outcome. There is a stillness for the first time in a while, and it’s a beautiful, comforting feeling that is embraced with welcomed relief.

Drake1

Image credit: Google Images

Please hop on over to Lisa’s site, Rebirth of Lisa, for more Words Crush Wednesday quotes and a host of other cool writing stuff.

Words Crush Wednesday – Walt Whitman Edition

This week’s Words Crush Wednesday is by Walt Whitman. I chose it for various reasons. It’s Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. Well, supposedly, but we’ve had erratic weather. That’s the literal interpretation but more so, I feel the need to practice optimism.

Let me put it into perspective. I got a new phone and I was frustrated because my provider was taking a ridiculously long time to connect it. I was annoyed and frustrated. Woe is me. But then I opened the news and saw people drowning, people literally risking life and limb, carrying little babies, to escape the genocide in their home country. Now, this is largely a cooking blog so I don’t want to get political, but suffice it to say, my phone problems were comparatively an embarrassment of riches. Major FWP (First World Problems). Seeing what other people are going through this very minute is a sobering reminder to be bloody grateful for what I have. It’s a reminder that my life isn’t actually that hard by comparison. It’s a reminder that I live in a loving home, I have food and clothing, wonderful people in my life, safety and stability. So, for me, this tells me to look for the positive, because it is always there, and let go of the negative, because it will only hold you back. My dad always says you can’t move forward if you keep looking back, and that’s so true. I’m looking towards my future with excitement and optimism and letting all the crap fall behind me and stay in the past.

Walt Whitman quote

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 21Behold! No, seriously, this is freaking amazing! I had SO much fun with this recipe. I usually make chewy brownies with chocolate ganache but this time I wanted to do a fudgier take on them and, of course, a peanut butter frosting. I used both dark and milk chocolate, the latter to balance the bitterness. When you bite into these babies, you get a fudgy, delicious, creamy, chocolatey taste with fluffy, light peanut butter frosting and crunchy chocolate chips. Yum? Yum.

The top is crinkly, the inside, crunchy (hello, chocolate chips!) and the frosting, well, peanut buttery. I don’t think I need to say anything else!

You can use the frosting for cupcakes, cakes, you name it. If you’re doing this, add extra icing sugar. You might need to add a tablespoon or two of milk if the frosting is too thick, but for this recipe you shouldn’t need any milk.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Supplies:

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 1¾ cup cake flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup butter (120g)
230g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, for melting
200g milk chocolate chips
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or essence
½ teaspoon salt

Making it happen:

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 21. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Line a 9×9 square baking tin with parchment paper, making sure it covers the sides and leaves an overhang. You’ll need this to remove the brownie slab in one go.

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 42. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

 

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 53. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Set aside.

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 64. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate and butter, whisking until it’s fully combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the vanilla and whisk to incorporate.

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 7 (2)5. Slowly add the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

 

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 8 (2)6. Add the milk chocolate chips and stir to throughly combine.

 

 

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 117. Bake on the middle shelf for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clear. The top will be crinkly and the sides will be pulling away. Don’t stress if it has cracks.

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 128. Once cooked, remove from the oven and rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove the slab from the baking tin, lifting the sides of the parchment paper up, and let cool for an hour.
Once completely cool, cut the brownie slab into 16 blocks.

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 179. F̶r̶o̶s̶t̶ smother with peanut butter frosting.

 

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 1910. Add sprinkles (optional).

 

 

 

 

Peanut butter frosting:

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 131 cup creamy peanut butter
60g butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons milk if necessary

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 141. On low speed, beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides.

 

 

 

 

Fudgy choc brownies peanut butter frosting 202. Add the icing sugar, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla essence and beat until well combined. (If it’s too thick, add 2 tablespoons of milk. I did not find it necessary for this recipe but it’s entirely up to you. If you need more frosting, add more icing sugar.)

Meatloaf (The Food, Not The Singer)

Meatloaf 7I would do anything for loaf… An old classic, meatloaf is an easy and scrummy dish that never goes out of style. Why? Because it’s delicious, packed with flavour and cost-effective too. So many people aren’t into it. I was one of them, until I tried my first meatloaf a few years back. I was happy to eat my words, as long as I could have a second helping of meatloaf! Tangy and sweet, you don’t need extra salt because you’re using Worcestershire sauce. Bonus!

Sidebar: When I Googled meatloaf, the singer, Meatloaf, came up. Amusing but not quite what I was looking for. Do we know yet what he meant by “I would do anything for love but I won’t do that“? What is “that“? WHAT? Why are you still doing this to me, Mr Meatloaf? Not cool! It’s one of the greatest mysteries of the modern world. Answers are welcome in the comments section.

Meatloaf (The Food, Not The Singer)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Meatloaf 1500g lean mince
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon hot sauce
¼ cup milk
½ cup ketchup
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 slices dry white bread for crumbing
Olive oil
Non-stick spray

Making it happen:

Meatloaf 81. Heat your oven to 180°C.

In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the garlic, green pepper and onion on medium for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the ketchup and milk and simmer for another 3 minutes.

Meatloaf 32. Remove the crusts from the dry bread and blitz in a food processor until you have bread crumbs. Heat non-stick spray in a pan and fry the bread crumbs on medium until crispy and golden brown. Alternatively you can use ready-made bread crumbs and skip this step.

 

Meatloaf 43. In a bowl, mix the mince, bread crumbs, lightly beaten egg, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix with a wooden spoon, don’t mash it though. Stir until well combined. You can also use your hands, sometimes that works better. Up to you. (You don’t have to tell anyone.) Add the fried veggies to the mince, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Meatloaf 5 24. Spray a bread tin with non-stick spray. Spoon the mince mixture into the bread tin and smooth the top with the back of a tablespoon.

 

Meatloaf 6

 

5.  Bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes and then cut it into slices.

Words Crush Wednesday – Mom’s Birthday Edition

Mom and IIt was my mom’s birthday last week so I wanted to honour her in this week’s Words Crush Wednesday. You see, I couldn’t phone her or bake her a cake; she’s in heaven. What’s better than being an angel? Being an angel who never ages. I had 29 years with her, by no means enough, but in that time she taught me so much about life. Everything I do, I do to honour her. She was my greatest gift in life and we often said we were so glad we chose each other. Even if she had lived to 90, it would not have been enough time. Is it ever, when it comes to mothers (and fathers)?

My mom showed me a love that knew no bounds and had no limits. I am profoundly grateful for that. I know what it feels like to be loved, truly and boundlessly loved, without exception. If I’d killed someone, she would have helped me bury the body. (And then she would have lit a Sambuca and had a cigarette.) She was a strong, wise, deeply loving woman who lived her life helping others. Her death has taught me so much. No one is invincible, as I thought she was. Through her death, I practised the strength she showed me. It’s ironic that I survived the greatest tragedy of my life purely by doing what she would have done, what she showed me through her actions.

If my mom hadn’t died when she did, she would have keeled over seeing me cook. I was horrendous. Really shockingly bad. It was because of her death that I taught myself to cook. I needed a hobby, a massive distraction that would take up a lot of  time, thus I challenged myself to learn to cook. My mom taught me how to make reservations, not cupcakes! The person I am, and the person I will always strive to be, is someone who would make her proud. That is my greatest motivation in life. So, happy birthday, Mama. I’ll have a Sambuca for you, but don’t worry, there are no bodies buried in my garden.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

Crispy Cheese Potato Bake with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 8What’s better than cheese? Crispy cheese. Yes, please and thanks in advance. This dish is quick and easy to prepare and deliciously tasty. Creamy potatoes, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms topped with bubbling cheddar, it requires no cheese sauce. The onion soup powder, when combined with the cream, thickens perfectly in the oven, leaving you with perfectly cooked veggies smothered in crispy melted cheese.

Crispy Cheese Potato Bake with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 14-5 potatoes, thinly sliced
300g Brussels sprouts, par-cooked and halved
200g chopped mushrooms
60g white onion soup powder
1 cup cream
300g grated cheddar
Paprika
Non-stick spray

Making it happen:

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 31. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Turn the heat down to 180°C (350°F) as soon as you put the dish in. Spray a deep casserole dish with non-stick spray. Par-cook the Brussels sprouts until they’re just tender.
Thinly slice the potatoes and place half of the potatoes across the casserole dish. Place half of the mushrooms and Brussels on top of the potatoes.

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 52. Sprinkle half the packet of soup powder over the veggies and sprinkle paprika evenly over the soup powder. Put half the cheddar evenly on top. Repeat.

 

 

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 73. Pour the cream evenly over the dish and bake for 45 minutes until the cheese is crispy.

 

 

 

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 10 1If you’re not into crispy cheese (say it ain’t so), cook for 30 minutes. If you are…

<— This.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #5: Kreatopita – Greek Meat Pie with Phyllo

KreatopitaIf you haven’t had a chance to go over to Grubbs n Critters yet, here’s Ann’s Greek dish – Kreatopia. It’s a meat pie with one of my favourites – phyllo. Treat yourself to this dish – it’s only half an hour of prep time and then wham, in the oven, whip it out and feast! Click on the link for more yumminess.

Source: Monthly Mystery Munchies #5: Kreatopita – Greek Meat Pie with Phyllo

Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb Kleftiko 11It’s the fifth installment of my and Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies and this month we went Greek. When scouring the internet and cookbooks for ideas, I settled on lamb kleftiko. Why? I freaking love a good roast! Also, the story behind it is so amusing and that endeared me. ‘Kleftiko’ means ‘stolen’ in Greek. Back in the day, bandits would thieve cattle and cook the meat, sealed in a pit oven and covered with sand, to prevent their opponents from seeing the fire. They would leave the meat buried in the ground all day and return to a slow-cooked meal at night. Genius. I’m not an advocate for theft but I like the initiative these dudes showed. (Please buy your meat with actual money!)

The dish is encased in layers of tin foil and/or parchment paper (unless you happen to have a pit oven). Here’s where it gets even yummier: it’s marinated overnight in garlic, fresh herbs and lemon juice. Then, when you’re ready to cook it, it’s surrounded by veggies, topped with thickly sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with seasoning and drizzled with olive oil. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Think of it as your one-stop roast pot. Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before you’re ready to roast, cook it on low for 4-5 hours depending on how you like it, and when you take it out of the oven, you have everything you need. Beautiful, succulent, falling-off-the-bone lamb, and potatoes, onions and carrots that have been absorbing all the tasty lamb and herb juices. No missioning with extra veggies. Carve it, dish it and you’re good to go. Amen. Let’s do this, but before we go ahead, make sure you mosey on over to Grubbs n Critters for my BBF (Best Blogging Friend) Ann’s take on this month’s theme.

Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Supplies:

Lamb Kleftiko 11.8-2kg leg of lamb
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stalk
1 sprig lemon thyme, leaves removed from stalk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 garlic cloves, crushed and halved
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and halved
4 carrots, sliced lengthways
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
Freshly cracked black pepper & salt

Lamb Kleftiko 21. Crush and halve the garlic cloves. Put all the herbs in a bowl, add the garlic and olive oil and stir well.

Lamb Kleftiko 3

 

 

 

2. Make incisions in the lamb, 2-3 in a vertical row and repeat across the meat. (Don’t cut all the way through to the bottom.) Stuff the holes with the garlic and herb mixture. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice with black pepper and salt and pour over the lamb, rubbing it in with your hands, and rubbing the underside of the meat too.

Lamb Kleftiko 53. Put the meat in a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 2 hours.

 

 

 

Lamb Kleftiko 74. Remove lamb from the fridge and let it rest for an hour before you cook it. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Lay a long piece of tin foil down, lengthways, and lay a piece of parchment paper over it. Lay another piece of foil horizontally, and again lay a piece of parchment paper over it. (You’re creating a cross.)

Lamb Kleftiko 85. Cut the onions into quarters, positioning one onion in the centre of the cross. Halve the carrots lengthways (I never peel them, I’m too lazy, but I wash them thoroughly) add 6 halves to the onions. Peel and halve your potatoes, placing 6-8 halves with the onions and carrots. What you’re going for is a mixture of veggies at the bottom of the dish, but not all of them. Drizzle some olive oil over them (about 2 tablespoons)and grind some black pepper and salt over them. Place the lamb on top of the veggies and drizzle more olive oil on top of the lamb. Sprinkle with salt. Position the rest of the chopped veggies around the lamb. Place 6 tomato slices, cut thick, on top of the lamb.

Lamb Kleftiko 96. Bring all of the foil/parchment paper sides together. What you’re going for is a very well-sealed effect. Put the parcel in a deep roasting dish put the dish in the middle shelf of your oven. Roast at 160°C (320°F) for 4-5 hours (4 hours for rare, 4½ for medium and 5 for well done).
Lamb Kleftiko 10

7. Remove the roasting tray from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before opening it. Carve the lamb, add veggies to the plate and dig in!