Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

New city, new job and n20140513-202943.jpgew kitchen… I’m back and a lot has changed since my last post. However some things haven’t and our loveof food, cooking and eating hasn’t. This week is a bit crazy at my new job, long hours, lots of politics and the prospect of working on Saturday. I came home from worktonight and really had major chocolate cravings. I was just going to buy some chocolate but instead thought I would bake.

Over the weekend my brother and I stumbled across a slice recipe that our Mum used to make for afternoon tea when we were young. Now, the slice is called Chinese Chews… I have know idea why and there is certainly nothing Chinese about them. My brother thought his Chinese wife would find the name hilarious. So I decided I would make this randomly named slice.20140513-194233.jpg

It was a very easy recipe and one I don’t think I have ever made. In a large bowl I mixed together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup mixed dried fruit, 1 self-raising flour, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 1 tablespoon cocoa. While I was combining the dry ingredients I had 125 grams of margarine melting.

When the butter was melted I added it to the dry ingredients along with an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Then I just mixed it all together. It is quite a stiff mixture so I got my hands in there to finish combining it all.

20140513-194241.jpgI then pressed the mixture into a slice pan that I had lined with baking paper. You don’t need to grease the tin or line it but I did this so I could easily remove the slice. Once evenly and firmly pressed into the pan I popped it into a moderate oven for 20 minutes.

While it was baking I mixed together the butter icing. Check out my recipe here. When the slice was baked I iced it while it was still hot. The icing melts into the slice and makes it chewy and yummy. The final touch was just to sprinkle some coconut over the top.

I let it cool before tucking in… Organising lunches, dinner and cleaning up while it cooled.20140513-194251.jpg

Then it was ready…. One bite and I was 10 again. Chewy, chocolaty and full of fruit! I behaved and only ate one piece and will take a lot into work tomorrow but it was worth the effort of baking just for that one slice of Chinese Chews….

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Sonoran DogWe’ve tried a Sonoran Hot Dog or two in the Phoenix area before but after seeing all the tv shows on El Geuro Canelo, I made it part of my mission to check it out while down in Tucson.
What I like about this place is that they have a small menu that focuses on a handful of items that they do well.  Carne asada burritos/tacos/tortas/caramelos, Sonoran Hot Dogs, and some Mexican-style beverages (aguas frescas, horchatas, cane-sugar Coke bottled in Mexico, that sort of thing).
I stuck with the Sonoran Hot Dogs and got a few to go for myself, including their Sammy, a Sonoran Hot Dog but with 2 bacon-wrapped hot dogs instead of just one.  Without diving in too much on what’s in a Sonoran Hot Dog, just keep in mind that it’s loaded… kind of like a Chicago-style dog.  Bolillo roll instead of a hot dog bun, hot dog wrapped in bacon, then filled with a ton of condiments including beans, mayo, mustard, tomato, and green salsa.
What makes El Guero Canelo great is their condiment/salsa bar.  Cebollas (grilled green onions), grilled jalapenos, red salsa, green salsa, pico de gallo (solid), avocado crema, radish, and limes.
The verdict – this place is solid.  Cheap dogs (a little more than $2 each, a little more than $3 for the sammy) and a quality condiment/salsa bar.  If they were open 24 hours a day, they’d make a killing with the drunk food crowd on weekends.
What am I trying next at this place?  Their carne asada burrito.  I saw someone take it back to their table and it looked like a nerf football.  You think Chipotle makes big burritos… that’s childs play.  I can put two of them down as a snack.  The burrito from El Guero Canelo looked significantly larger than what you get at Filiberto’s as well.
Until next time, do yourself a favor if you’re in the Tucson area to grab a dog from this place.  Especially if you need it to soak up some of that booze in your belly.

Sausage RollsWe are back from Hawaii with many adventures to share and food to write about, just give me a day or two to settle back in to real life! I wanted to put a quick repost in honor of tonight’s start of the NFL season. I now have 16 weeks of Sundays where J. will barely communicate ahead of me but we both love the game and of course the food that comes with it.

It is also finals time for Aussie Rules and NRL back home in Australia so it is fitting for my wonderful Aussie followers also.

So here is a favorite recipe and favorite footy food from Australia – the sausage roll! A delicious savory treat with ketchup, relish or bbq sauce on the side and of course the prerequisite beer.

Check out the original entry here – Aussie Footy Food!

Enjoy the recipe and the football – whatever code or team you might follow!

FatooshOn my final day in Washington DC, I managed to sneak away for a delicious and yummy lunch. The conference I was exhibiting at had quietened down, people were leaving and I had a long night of travelling home to Phoenix ahead of me… a hearty delicious meal (and a couple of beers) were definitely called for.

Recommended by fellow blogger Alina and some great people I met at the conference, Zaytinya was my destination. Only 2 short blocks from the hotel that I was exhibiting in, I wandered down for a late lunch.

Mythos Beer

Taking my traditional seat at the very big bar I was ready for a nice cold beer and some great food. I ordered my Mythos beer, a Turkish beer that I had never tried before and perused the menu. The girls I met at the conference had insisted I try the $25 Mezze Lunch. It was a 4 course meal with multiple choices under each course.

For first course I went with the Fattoush salad, a combination of tomato, cucumber, red onion, green pepper and radish. This had a delicious pomegranate vinegar dressing over it. Given the heat of DC, it was such a light, fresh and yummy start to the meal. The fresh pita bread they kept refilling throughout the meal was a great accompaniment.

ArayesSecond course was a difficult choice for me. I could have had any of the 4 choices but decided to go with the Arayes, a dish I had never heard of or tried before. These were stuffed pita breads, filled with grilled ground lamb and tahini on a bed of garlic yogurt. I don’t think it is possible for me to describe just how delicious this small plate of goodness was. Such flavor but so simple. I could have eaten an entire meal just of those. However, with 2 more courses still to go, I thought I shouldn’t order a second round. I ordered another beer instead.

Spanakopita

For my third course I decided to stay with something traditional, Spanakopita. This was flaky, melt in your mouth house-made phyllo pastry that was then stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. Carefully rolled into a crispy, tasty roll and placed on a spinach puree. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This was possibly some of the best Spanakopita I have every eaten. I couldn’t believe how perfect the phyllo was. I wanted to eat 6 of them, not just 1.

Apricots and yogurtI restrained myself and just sat back with another beer and waited for my dessert. I had chosen to go with the lighter of the 2 dessert choices, Greek Yogurt and Apricots. I actually didn’t read the description until after I had ordered it. It may have been the lighter of the 2 but oh my, did it sound delicious. A small cup came out, looking like a orange and white parfait. There were layers of muscat soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet and pistachio powder. If I hadn’t have been in a public place I would have licked the cup clean! Delicious, light and refreshing – an excellent end to an amazing lunch!

I will go back to this place – I actually would go back to DC just for a lunch here and a dinner at St. Arnolds. My DC trip was great both professionally and culinary! I ate great food that had been recommended to me, found my own little gem on my wanders through the city and got to spend some time in one of my favorite cities on the East Coast.

When in DC next I recommend you try one of the great places I visited or perhaps you will discover a little gem of your own!

Muffin Tin Meat Pies.jpgWe reached a milestone this week… we have over 2500 followers now! To celebrate this great milestone I thought I would revisit a recipe from the early days of the blog.

Also, I have been craving a taste from home and what better way to taste Australia than through meat pies.

These were tasty little treats I made for J. and I during NFL season last year. A nice little snack for watching footy. We did an entire series of Football Food posts last year and with the NFL season only 3 weeks away, I am going to have to prepare some more great snack ideas.

These pies were very easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the pastry instead of making it myself. You could also try all different kinds of fillings but we stayed with the traditional beef and added some spice and chili! You could also make them into a full size pie but these were the perfect size for a tv snack. Beer and a pie – a completely Australian way to watch the football.

So take a trip down memory lane, across the Pacific to Australia with me…. here.

Banana Muffins.jpgJ. and I had a pretty lazy Sunday… we were in the kitchen making ourselves some crepes for breakfast and I noticed that a few of our bananas were looking a little worse for wear… Banana Muffin time!!!

A few years ago my mother discovered (I have no idea where she got them from) a bunch of recipes from the Australian Institute of Sport for low fat (or at least reduced fat) muffins! I love a good muffin and they are so often terribly bad for you so I have loved having this group of recipes. Plus they are really easy recipes to make.

So Sunday was banana muffin time.

In a large bowl I sifted 1½ cups of self-raising flour and 1 cup of wholemeal self-raising flour. If you don’t have wholemeal flour you can just use regular self-rasing for the entire amount. Next I stirred in ¾ cup of brown sugar. This was a little difficult because our brown sugar was really hard and didn’t stir through so well. I figured it didn’t matter so much because it would melt down in the oven.

I made a well in the centre of the dry ingredient and put them aside, set the oven for 350°F and started on the wet ingredients. In a small bowl I melted 2 tablespoons of margarine and then added to it my 2 very ripe bananas and mashed all of this together. I added to this 1 cup of skim milk, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. I mixed this together well and then poured it into the dry ingredients.

Make sure you gently stir the ingredients together – there is no need to beat or whip it together. When it was completely combined I spooned the mixture into my greased muffin pans. I filled each up about 2 thirds of the way. And then into the oven they went for 20 minutes.

When they came out of the oven I let them sit for a few minutes in the pan to cool before tipping them out. We ate some straight away and they were so delicious. The great thing is this recipe makes about 16 muffins so J. and I had them for a snack at work every day this week! Yummy, delicious, and not too bad for you… Gotta love that!

Chutney Gift.jpgThis is just a quick post about the other edible Christmas gifts I gave to friends. A while back I made giant pot of spicy tomato chutney. Being who I am I shared it with a bunch of people including my two soon to be bosses. Both of them took a strong liking to it. Using it with cheese, fish and chicken.

I decided as a Christmas gift for them I would bottle up some of the chutney. I bought some nice decorative looking pickling jars… they only cost $1.50 each so what a bargain is that! I filled both jars up with the yummy delicious chutney, sealed them and decorated them with blue bows.

I played Santa on Tuesday and delivered these yummy gifts. They were so excited and happy to receive them, not to mention surprised. Both of them had plans for the chutney and I am pretty sure it won’t last long. I might have to make a new batch in the New Year when I start my new job.

What an easy, affordable and cute gift… one that was so well received!

You can check out my original blog post here or get the recipe here.

Baileys Chocolate Balls.jpgEvery year for as long as I can remember my mother would make rum balls for Christmas. I would even spend hours in the kitchen helping her make them… getting my hands all sticky rolling the balls and covering them in coconut. When I was young I was never tempted by them and then when I got to an age where things with alcohol in them were mighty attractive I found out I had a bad reaction to rum… (not just from drinking too much). So even after all these years I hadn’t ever enjoyed these delicious bites. This year I thought I was going to make rum balls but make them so I could eat them.

I started this process by checking out what alcohol we had in Fruit in baileys.jpgthe house… bourbon, whiskey, vodka and Baileys… the obvious choice to me was the Baileys, plus it is really the only one J. would like. Yes, I drink the other things. I also had the challenge of replacing weatbix, which mum uses in her recipe, that I can’t find here in the US. I decided to use a plain cookie as a substitute for these. I just picked up some plain butter cookies from Cost Plus World Market

Cookies.jpgNow the problems have been solved… time to cook.

In a sealable container I put 2 cups of mixed dried berries, I used cherries, cranberries and raisins. To this I added 1 cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream and mixed everything together. I then refrigerated this for 24 hours…

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I took the berries out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. In a large bowl I put 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and 1 packet of plain cookies that I had already blitzed in the food processor so it was a chunky crumble. I added the berries and Bailey’s mixture to the bowl and mixed everything together Condensed Milk.jpguntil it was all combined.

Last thing for the mixture was to add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and stir everything together. This is of course where it gets very sticky and quite difficult to mix together. If necessary get in there with your hands to make sure everything is evenly combined.Ready to roll.jpg

Now it gets really messy. I had to roll teaspoons of the mixture in my hands and then drop them into a bowl of chocolate sprinkles and cover them completely. I found the trick to rolling these successfully was to keep a bowl of hot water next to me that I could regularly dip my hands in to clean them Rolling.jpgoff. So I rolled and rolled and rolled and 70 balls later, yes 70, I had finished.

I put them into the refrigerator to harden and sat down and relaxed! J. was my guinea pig and I gave him one to try. He really liked them, he is not a big alcohol person so this was a success. If he didn’t think they were too boozy then everyone, including people at his office, would be fine with them. I must admit they were really tasty… just tiny, single bites Chocolate Sprinkles.jpgof boozy, chocolaty goodness! These got added to my little boxes and bags of goodies for friends, something decadent and a little different too.

So I finally tasted rum balls, well kind of… I am calling these Bailey’s Chocolate Balls… my favorite new invention!

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Pink Cougar.jpgMe and a new friend and soon to be colleague, S, headed out for some early Christmas drinks last night. We went to a place down the road from my soon to be office called Grassroots. This is a bar, meets gastro pub, meets restaurant. It is a really nice place and so close to work and most importantly their “social hour” has both food, beer, wine and cocktail discounts.

I was in a celebrating mood so for a change I went for a cocktail instead of beer or wine. I got a giant glass of white sangria. I would tell you what was in it but unfortunately the menu stated that it was a secret recipe so I have no idea. But it looked so pretty and festive, plus it tasted super delicious! Is it strange that sangria makes me think of Christmas? My family went through a stage of making sangria during the Wisconsin Burrata.jpgholidays, since it is so warm in Australia at that time of year. I thought I was being very good only ordering a class when I could have ordered a jug for $20! How restrained I was.

S ordered something called a Pink Cougar, this was a combination of vodka, chamomile-lemongrass syrup, lemon and a pink candy wedge. This came in a lovely martini glass. I assume she really enjoyed it… she drank it all. All I have to say is that it wasn’t very pink… I would have liked to see more pink.

I always like to nibble on something when I am drinking, especially if I have to drive so S and I decided to order some of their yummy shared plates. Ok, to be honest I ate enough that I didn’t need dinner when I got home… but that’s ok, isn’t it?

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First up we ordered the Wisconsin Burrata… a plate of yummy goodness. The plate came out with a giant ball of fresh mozzarella, arugula with a delicious dressing, a spicy tomato jam and sea salted crunchy ciabatta. So we spread on some jam and mozzarella and added some arugula to a piece of ciabatta. What a delicious combination and the mozzarella had to be some of the best I had ever eaten!

Next we ordered something called Dad’s Grocery Bag, basically a meat and cheese platter. Lucky for me S. is a vegetarian so I got to eat all of the delicious cured meats, some salami, ham and pastrami! Yummy. Somewhere in there I also ordered a second glass of White Sangria.

Ok, back to the platter… It had 3 different cheese on it, I know one was a goat cheese, another was a sharp cheddar of some kind and the third though delicious, I have know idea what it was. Also on the platter were some mixed nuts, honey and beautifully freshDads Grocery Bag.jpg french bread. This was such a great thing to nibble on while we chatted and drank.

One of the things I have missed about home are having after work drinks with friends at a cool cafe or bar. Just hanging out and chatting over drinks and good food was how I spent many a Friday night back in Melbourne. I am hoping since this Grassroots Kitchen & Tap is just down the road S. and I will have at least a few more opportunities to sample their wares! Sitting out on their heated patio will be a perfect end to a work week. New friends and new jobs… now that deserves another cocktail!