Monthly Mystery Munchies #25: Baked Orange-Pomegranate Chicken

This month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme was difficult. I felt like a thief… A really confused thief, but I had theeee best time playing around with recipes. Ann from Grubbs n Critters, who is my sweet dear friend and my Monthly Mystery Munchies partner-slash-best-blogging-friend, suggested we do a recipe swap. How much fun!? Too much (there is no such thing!). The idea is to take a recipe the other has made over the last 24 months, and make it our own. I am easily confused, I openly admit, and I suck at making decisions, especially when all the options are fantastic. There were two I wanted to make, but I didn’t have the heart to change the first one in any way, so I decided to make Ann’s baked chicken cutlets in orange-plum sauce. It’s settled.

Or is it? No, apparently not. I made the recipe and I was like, really? How am I supposed to change this? How can I improve it? No pressure! I decided to try orange-pomegranate instead of orange-plum, and I was pretty happy with the results. I swapped Worcestershire sauce with balsamic vinegar, and baked the chicken breasts in the fruit and honey while frying the veggies. I was definitely apprehensive about this dish, because I genuinely didn’t want to change anything, but this is exactly why we do it – to challenge ourselves, and each other, and sometimes my husband, who has to put up with my to-ing and fro-ing and “but do you think it will taste as good?”, or “I’m definitely sticking with this recipe” until 5 minutes later “maybe I should try another one instead?”, the next day “what if I try granadillas instead?”. Bless. He deserves a medal, but since he got several of Ann’s delicious meals over the course of three weeks, I think he’ll be fine.

Ann has undoubtedly produced something amazing. She always does, every month, without fail. Please check it out here. Ann, thank you so much for your wonderful suggestion this month. Although this was the hardest one to date, I enjoyed it immensely!

Baked Orange-Pomegranate Chicken

  • Time: 40 minutes incl prep
  • Difficulty: Dude, it's easy
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Supplies:

For the chicken marinade:

4 boneless, skinned chicken breasts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
80g pomegranate seeds
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon turmeric

For the veggies and rice:

1 onion, chopped
1 green, yellow, and red pepper, sliced
150g baby tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish
Brown and wild rice to serve

Making It Happen:

First check how long your rice will take to cook. Time it so that it’s cooked as soon as the chicken comes out of the oven (30 minutes).

Mix the balsamic vinegar, pomegranate seeds, orange juice, zest, honey and turmeric. Marinade the chicken for an hour or longer. Remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking, and let it come to room temperature. Cook in a preheated oven on 180°C (350°F) for 30 minutes. At this stage, cook your rice.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the baby tomatoes, puree and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper, and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the peppers and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked rice to the fried veggies, and serve with the baked chicken. Garnish with coriander and serve.

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 #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 #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

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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!

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #16: Herby, Fully Loaded Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

Chicken wraps 1

This month I was a tad nervous to suggest this theme to the lovely Ann from Grubbs n Critters. Was it too easy? Not challenging enough? We’ve definitely been pushing our boundaries, happily so, but I felt like doing something that wasn’t time consuming, that I could whip up and serve immediately. My suggestion? Wraps with meat and a dressing/sauce. That was it. Ann gladly accepted, having bought some wraps a few days prior. It was meant to be. I love it when a cooking plan comes together!

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Yes, I said it, “herby, fully loaded wraps”. I kind of threw everything in my fridge into this meal: chicken, butternut, mushrooms, red onion, garlic and then some more garlic, mustard, coriander, Italian parsley, basil, honey, lemon, sour cream… errthang went in. I’m a sucker for fresh herbs. I try to use them as often as possible. There’s just something really cool about cooking stuff and throwing it in a wrap. Love it. I have basil, parsley, limes and lemons in my garden. Picking it makes me feel like I’m on a farm, all organic and fresh. Then I hear hooters and dogs barking, and I remember that nope, I actually live in a city. Still, it’s wonderful to use what I have in the garden. I’d really like a bacon tree. That would be ideal. Strangely, I can’t find any.

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I’m psyched to see what Ann’s come up with this month. No doubt, it’ll be amaze. She has some great stories on her blog, fabulous recipes, and hilarious jokes. Please hop over to her blog and check it all out.

A little less conversation, a little more food action… here we go… all wrapped up:

Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies for the chicken:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
1 handful flatleaf Italian parsley
1 handful basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Supplies for the veggies:

500g butternut, cubed
250g mushrooms, sliced
200g baby spinach leaves
1 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Supplies for the sour cream dressing:

250ml sour cream
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful coriander
1 tablespooon parmesan per wrap, for sprinkling
8 wraps

Making it happen:

Blitz all the chicken ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts. Bake at 180C for 30 – 35 minutes until cooked.

Meanwhile, steam or boil the butternut until cooked, about 6-10 minutes. Fry the mushrooms and onion on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked butternut, and the baby spinach leaves and stir well until all the veg are full mixed.

Blitz the first seven our cream ingredients until fully mixed. Cook the wrap per instructions, and then spoon some veggie mixture into the centre of the wrap. Layer the chicken on top, scatter some reserved parsley and coriander, drizzle with sour cream and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of parmesan over everything. Fold the wrap and serve.  

 

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #15: Mini Tartlets with Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Curd, and Homemade Custard

Grapfruit tarts 1

Figs, lime, and rosemary. These were the three ingredients Ann chose for this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. However, she was kind enough to give me some leeway when I couldn’t source fresh figs. I settled on grapefruit, because I’ve never cooked with it. The second instruction: it can’t be in a main course. This thrilled me, because I’ve been jonesing to get my bake on for a while, but I needed a good excuse. So, now that I have afore-mentioned excuse, why not make pastry? Cool, good idea. Why stop there, you ask? Indeed, I agree. Homemade custard. It’s too easy. I mean, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and how absolutely delicious it tasted. See, I’m obsessed with custard. I blame my gran. She used to give me one (two) bowls every Sunday after lunch. “Don’t tell your mother”. Bless her heart.

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This month, we have mini tartlets with grapefruit and lime curd, infused with rosemary, and drizzled with custard. I’m so ready for this! Ann and I are clearly on the same wavelength, as she made figs, rosemary and lime-drizzled scones with lime curd. How. Freaking. Delicious! Also, she very recently emigrated to Holland, and she’s still waiting for all her kitchen equipment to arrive. She’s only been there for a few weeks, during which time she, her husband (Silver Bullet) and their kids moved from their temp base at her in-laws into their own house. She’s got both kids into school. She’s furnishing the house from scratch, and she’s looking for a new job. No biggie, right? Pffft! I am incredibly impressed that, in the midst of all this chaos, she managed to do this blog post. Major kudos! Ann is tremendously dedicated to our monthly cooking challenge, come rain or shine, Thailand or Holland, work stress or… work stress. Please head over to Grubbs n Critters and check out her blog.

I’ve broken this recipe into two parts: grapefruit curd and pastry, and custard, for your convenience, in case you only want to print out one of them. Here ya go…

Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Tartlets

For the curd:

1 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
Zest of ½ grapefruit
Juice of ½ lime (3 tablespoons)
Zest of ½ lime
1 cup white sugar
8 strained egg yolks
½ cup butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 sprigs rosemary, each about 3 inches long

Pour the strained grapefruit juice, lime juice, grapefruit and lime zest, strained egg yolks, and sugar into a pot.
On medium heat, simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon every minute.
Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain to remove any cooked egg pieces.
Mix in the butter, stirring until melted. Add the rosemary, and allow to set, about 1 hour.

For the pastry:

2 cups flour
2 ½ sticks salted COLD butter
½ cup ice cold water

Put two ice cubes into a cup and add tap water, enough to make 1/2 cup including ice cubes. Wait until the ice cubes have just melted.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces.
Sift the flour into your food processor fitted with blades. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until mixed, about 10 pulses. Add the rest of the butter, pulsing until the dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-pulse it, make sure that once it’s formed a rough ball, you stop pulsing.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out and form into a rectangle. Place one piece of plastic wrap until the dough, and one piece over it, and, using a rolling pin, roll until flattened into a large rectangular piece.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn the dough over onto your floured counter. Fold the dough down by a third, then, at the bottom piece, up by a third. Then roll the dough over from the left-hand side, until it’s all rolled up. Form into a square, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the tartlets:

Remove the pastry from the fridge and, on a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin, quite thinly. Measure how much pastry you will need to fill each tartlet cup, covering the bottom and sides. Cut out enough pastry then press the pastry into the bottom, then work it up the sides.

Remove the rosemary from the curd and set aside. Fill two-thirds of the tartlet cup with grapefruit curd, then top with one piece of grapefruit, and wedge in some rosemary.

Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Heat your custard, either in a pot or microwave, and pour over the tartlet.

Homemade Vanilla Custard

250ml cream
250ml milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, castor sugar and cornflour until well mixed. Set aside.

Pour the cream and milk into a pot and simmer gently over low heat until it’s hot but not boiling.
Very slowly, pour the hot milk and cream into the cornflour bowl, stirring with a whisk as you pour. Make sure you do this slooooowly.
Once it’s all mixed, add the vanilla to the custard mixture, and wipe the bottom of the pot.
Return the custard mixture to the pot and simmer gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened.

(You can reheat the custard in a pot over low heat, or in the microwave.)