Healthy Chips?

Well, step aside deep-fried potato chips, for there’s a new recipe in town and I think it’s here to stay!

Polenta.  Never used it before.  Don’t say I liked it tonnes but I’m impartial to its taste.  I didn’t even know polenta is another term for yellow corn-meal until the colleague grabbed me a packet of these just because I wanted to whip up some corn muffins and needed some yellow corn-meal as the recipe suggested.

So, like I said, this was a first for me.  Cooking Polenta and experimenting with what I could do with it.  And I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was partly because of this recipe by Lianne over from foodmadewithlove that kinda got me all excited about using polenta!  Chips that were sorta healthy?  Well, I’m definitely willing to try!

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And I did just that!  The Man was going to roast a chicken and I was left in-charge of sides again.  Wasn’t satisfied with just greens and grilled portobello mushrooms, so I suggested Polenta Chips.  I had the Polenta and some of the ingredients needed for the recipe, so I quickly got down to work!  An 1 hour later, these golden brown polenta chips popped out on to the dining table, and I was pleased with the results.

Here’s my version of the Polenta Chips!

Polenta Chips (adapted from this recipe over at foodmadewithlove)
[Serves 4, small portions]

Ingredients:
– 100g of polenta
– 400ml of water- 25g of unsalted butter
– 50g finely grated parmesan (I used mozzarella since that was the only cheese I had at home then)
– 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
– salt & pepper, to taste and garnish

Method:

1) Line a tray with grease-proof baking paper allowing 2cm to overhang (I didn’t have sufficient baking paper so I made sure that my dish was well-buttered). Boil 400ml of water in a small pot, then reduce the heat to low. Do note that the amount of water is different for different brands of polenta, so please do check how much water is needed for the amount of polenta.

2) Stir in the polenta in a slow, steady stream, then cook and stir continuously for a couple of minutes or until it has thickened.  You’ll know it’s done when you see the mixture bubbling like a volcano.

3) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and spoon it into the tray and smooth the surface. Press it down and make sure the polenta is really compact. Allow it to chill for at least an hour.

4) Remove polenta from dish and onto a board. Cut it half lengthways, then cut it into 1 1/2 cm thick chips or whatever way you desire.

5) Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. In batches, fry the polenta chips, turning, until golden and crisp.

6) Drain on the paper towel and keep warm in an oven or serve it immediately with a sprinkle of salt.

I served the chips with a Thai Green Chilli dip with Mayo.  We had brought back some awesome and super spicy green chilli from Bangkok.  To dial down the spiciness of the green chilli by a couple of notches, I added some low-fat mayo along with the chilli.  It still tasted superb and went really well with the chips!  🙂

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Baked Salmon Parcel

I’m on a hunt for recipes with Salmon in it and couldn’t be happier with this new recipe that I found over at Bev‘s.  It’s my quick-fix dinner for weeknight when I try to stay away from carbs.

IMG_9749This honestly cannot be any easier to make!  Parcel-wrapped Salmon!

All I need to do is to get a slab of salmon (approx 200 – 300 grams) and place it on parchment (baking paper).  I then use whatever vegetables I fancy for the evening, from asparagus to carrots, peppers (you get the drift).  Then place a couple of cherry tomatoes on top of the salmon, add to that some sliced red onions (for that added sweetness), sprinkle sale and pepper, plus a tiny pat of butter.  Wrap the salmon package up like a bag.  Bev’s receipe called for a tablespoon of chicken stock before you seal and fold over the package tight but I usually omit this step.  Taste just as good.  Bake the package at 210celsius for 11 to 12 minutes and you are done!

It’s important not to go over 12 minutes or the salmon may be over-cooked.  Even at 12 minutes, the fish is cooked with a silky smooth center and it really just melts in the mouth.  Try it for a hearty and healthy dinner

Yummy recipe for keeps!

Woke up to a lower back ache and after an hour of restorative yoga, felt slightly better.  Didn’t want to waste the rest of the weekend, so decided to try out a new recipe for a lazy weekend breakfast.

Rachel from the Pleasure Monger recently contributed this recipe over at ‘A dollop of me’ Kitchen Exploits series.  These 2 lovely women run an amazing food/photography/styling/family blog separately and their blogs are fall under my ‘must-reads’.  If you haven’t already checked their blogs out, do so and bookmark them immediately.

Back to breakfast!  Didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand but a quick walk out to the supermarket nicely did the trick and within an hour or so, my belly was oh-so-happy with these yummy fritters.

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You can hop on over for the full recipe but here’s my slight adaptation to suit portions for 2-3 pax.

Corn and Bacon Fritters with Avocado Salsa
Recipe for the Corn and Bacon Fritters:
Ingredients (yields about 8 – 10 pieces)
  • 195g tinned corn kernels soaked in water (got the Waitrose brand)
  • 120g streaky bacon, diced (about 6 slices – you can use more if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions (used a mixture of white and red onions)
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 tablespoon fresh milk
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil, for pan-frying

Method:
1. Sautéed onions and bacon until bacon bits are crispy. Set aside and let them cool slightly
2. Drain corn kernels and discard any liquid. Set aside.
3. Add bacon bits and finely chopped onion to corn kernels. Then, add flour, eggs and milk to the corn mixture, and season with black pepper (to taste). Mix thoroughly and form patties that are about 3 inches in diameter and 0.5-1cm thick. I simply spooned the batter and gently placed them into the hot frying pan.
4. Generously grease a non-stick frying pan with some olive oil, and pan-fry the patties on medium heat, until both sides are golden brown and slightly crispy to touch. This should take a few minutes.

Recipe for the Avocado Salsa (Guacamole)
Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 0.5 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced, plus extra for garnishing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander, plus extra for garnishing
  • 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce (you can omit if you are worried about the heat)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
Method:
1. Mash everything together with a fork. For a chunkier bite to the mix, you do not need to mash the avocado too fine.
2. This goes really well with the corn and bacon fritters, so serve them together.  And if there are leftovers, you can serve your nachos/ pita chips with it.
IMG_0583Superbly yummy and pretty simple to whip up too!  The Man doesn’t fancy avocados but pairing them with the fritters, that’s another story.  🙂

Seriously yummy corn muffins!!

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When I first saw this post from Sherie over at Maameemoomoo, I bookmarked it almost immediately!  Corn muffins were something that I’ve always enjoyed especially the ones from Kenny Rogers which I used to order – best eaten when dunked with the sinfully good mac and cheese.  I made a mental note to must bake these corn muffins one day.

Then I saw this post by E over at missusC’s reverie and I was really itching to make me some of them corn muffins!  So I did.  Turned out it wasn’t that difficult.  Although I did experience some difficulty in trying to look for yellow cornmeal in the supermarket but turned out, yellow cornmeal is actually polenta!  Colleague of mine got some for me while doing her grocery run. 🙂

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Sweet Corn Muffins
(makes 10 muffins)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (or polenta)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
113g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
120g corn

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line muffin tin with muffin liners.
2. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until pale and fluffy.
4. Slowly drizzle beaten eggs into the mixture, beating until fully incorporated.
5. Reduce mixer speed to low, add one third of the flour mixture and half the milk. Repeat with flour, then milk and then finish with flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and batter is smooth.
6. Add corn and stir to distribute evenly.
7. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin tin. Bake for 10 minutes.
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes, until the muffins are golden in color or when the cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.

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These were soo good that we couldn’t resist popping one into our mouths the moment they popped out of the oven.  I had to stop the Man from eating them all before I took a photo of them.  Hehe..

And like what E said, this recipe is definitely for keeps!  I can see myself making them over and over again!  🙂

Granola Snack Attack

I’ve been trying to perfect my granola recipe and after one failed batch and one somewhat successful batch of maple granola, I was itching to make more.

So over the long weekend, I did just that. I experimented with another new recipe for I wanted my granola to be in a cluster form. This recipe from Kitchen Simplicity seemed fairly simple and one that I could hardly mess up.

IMG_8304This time round, I threw in candied fruit (you know those orangey bits in hot cross buns?) into the mix for I really liked them. Also in my granola were Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts and Sunflower seeds.

I did cheat a little for I wanted my granola mix to be a little crunchy and I realised that even though I toasted the oats with the nuts, it wasn’t as crunchy as I liked it to be, so I popped it into the oven for about 15 minutes. But it still wasn’t as crunchy as the other batch that I baked, so I took it out and let the granola cool down before storing in.

How did I like this batch compared to the previous one? Well, this batch of maple granola was a tad bit too sweet for my liking. Even though the recipe didn’t have oil added to it, the sweetness from the maple and the candied fruit was a too much for me. I’m sticking with the other recipe for now and maybe tweak it a little further the next time.

Stay tuned for more granola adventures to come. 🙂

 

An attempt to eat healthy

It’s been a while since I’ve baked anything.  Grateful for the mid-week public holiday, I was kinda desperate to get busy in the kitchen.  In an attempt to try and eat healthy, I thought of baking granola.  Been seeing loads of pictures by instagrammers and recipes on the www, so I was really tempted to try my hand at making some.

IMG_7773I eventually settled on using this recipe from E over at missus C’s reverie.  I figured that the recipe looked relatively simple and something I could manage.  Well, I was wrong…. 😦

Breakfast Granola
adapted from missus C’s reverie

Ingredients:

  • 5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Handful of sliced almonds (I used whole almonds)
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1-2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line an 18×13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together maple syrup, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and salt. Fold in rolled oats and nuts (except sliced almonds). Mix until the dry mixture is thoroughly coated.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly to form an even layer.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes until mixture is golden brown in color. Stirring every 10-15 minutes. Add in sliced almonds and dried cranberries at the last 5 minutes of baking.
  5. Let granola cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to one month.

Granola - 0While the granola was slowly baking, my kitchen was filled with a lovely maple scent.  I was so excited thinking that ‘I did it! I’m going to make an awesome batch of home-made granola good enough to share with friends!’

Turned out I was wrong.  The nuts that I added into the mix?  Well, some of them got burnt along the baking process.  Despite this baking boo boo, the granola still tasted great (enjoyed with yogurt/ ice-cream or on its own as a snack).  So, I had the burnt nuts removed and kept the rest stored away.

I’m not going let this little mishap stop me.  I’m going to try to whip up another batch of these bites.  This time round, I’m going to keep stirring the granola during baking to prevent the nuts from burning and put the baking tray a little lower from direct hit.

Send some luck along my way, wont’ you?

And E, if you are reading this?  Maybe it really is time for you to send me a batch of your granola to try? ;p  Hehe…

A simple Feast with these easy recipes

Thought I better get round to posting some of these recipes of the dishes that we whipped out during our simple Christmas feast for we will definitely see most of these back on our dining table when entertaining at home.

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The starter was these really delicious stuffed portobello mushrooms with chopped mushroom stems, prosciutto ham, onions, parsley, rosemary, thyme and since we didn’t have any bread left at home. The helper crushed some crackers and I threw them into the mix. Pan-fry the ingredients and then stuff them into the mushroom caps. Drizzle a little olive oil and pop them into the oven. After approximately 20 mins, these babies should be done.

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Next, we always need a side of veggies to make our meal a little more wholesome. This is simple to put together. We got some pumpkin, broccoli and corn for the roast. All we did was to drizzle the olive oil liberally, add some salt and srigs of rosemary and thyme. Pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove broccoli and pumpkin from tray, pop the tray with the corn into the oven for about another 10-15 mins and it should be done.

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Highlight of our meal has got to be this Truffle Butter Roast Chicken recipe that I got off from Lavishley. Simple yet extremely flavorful! This is definitely making a comeback at our parties! 😉

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Last but not the least, the Man’s favorite molten chocolate lava cake with salted caramel ice-cream that I got from Marks and Spencer.

Hope these simple recipes would inspire you to cook more for the coming year. It definitely has inspired us to come up with a New Year menu.