Summer Loving and Healthy Lunches

Summer is just about here! And to celebrate the warmer weather, I like to take full advantage of the beautiful surrounds of St Francis Bay.  The Cape St Francis beach is one of my favourite places to spend time, the sand always forms magical patterns and creates a fairytale atmosphere.

sand patternsshadows

lighthouse from the beach

To celebrate the summer, I thought I would share one of my favourite easy and healthy lunch time dishes.

Spinach, Feta & Mushroom Quesadilla

1 whole wheat tortilla wrap
¼ cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup fresh spinach which has been blanched in boiling water
4 button mushrooms, sliced and cooked in a little olive oil and garlic.
30g Danish feta, crumbled
seasoning
¼ tsp nutmeg
chopped dill

Mix the spinach, feta, mushrooms, nutmeg and dill together.  Season to your liking.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
Place 1 tortilla onto the pan.
When warm, flip it over.
Sprinkle about half the Cheddar cheese evenly over the one side of the tortilla.
Top with the spinach mixture.
Add a little more cheese, fold over in half and press down lightly.
Cook until the bottom gets a little colour, flip over and let the other side also colour.
Slide onto a cutting board, using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, cut into 4.
Serve with a little side salad of your choice.

spinach feta and mushroom

Gluten Free White Chocolate & Roasted Thyme Nectarine Pizza

Being gluten free is a new concept to me, I am still finding my way around all the DO’s & DON’Ts of eating gluten free. I was taking part in a challenge and decided that I would dive deeper into the world of gluten free, but I really had to do my research as to what is classified as gluten…and what isn’t.

Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, now this may sound devastating to most, however there are many acceptable substitutes for wheat. For example almond flour is fantastic as it has a low glycemic index and is a low-carbohydrate alternative to wheat flour. As I learn more and more about this lifestyle change, I will share the information. Until then, try my Gluten Free Dessert Pizza!

Pizza Base

3 cups gluten free flour
1tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
5 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp yeast
1 ¼ cups tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½  tsp Robertson Cayenne Pepper (use more if you like more of bite)

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix the yeast into the tepid water. Add one tsp sugar and whisk, set aside to double in size.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cayenne pepper, baking powder, rest of the sugar, salt and olive oil. Mix until combined.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour the yeast mixture in and mix with a spoon.  Remember this is gluten free so your dough will not be very stiff.
Lightly flour your work surface, top out the dough and knead until smooth, this won’t take long. There are no glutens to work so all you are looking for is a smooth dough.
Place the ball of dough into a greased pizza pan or baking sheet. Shape out the dough working with damp hands, bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

Set aside to cool completely. Remove from dish.

Toppings:

3 nectarines cut into wedges
150ml fresh cream
50g fresh thyme
2 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
70g white chocolate

Place the nectarines on a roasting try, drizzle olive oil over.
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over, bruise thyme and spread over the nectarines
Roast for 30 minutes or until golden and sugar is caramelized. Remove the thyme stalks and set aside to cool completely.
Heat 70mls of cream and add the chocolate to the warm cream.  Slowly melt, creating a Ganache glaze. (leave a little chocolate for garnishing)
Pour the Ganache over the cooled pizza base, place roasted nectarines on the surface, spreading it out.
Grate white chocolate over the top and place in the fridge for the glaze to set (about 30 minutes)

gluten free pizza

Easy Peasy Vanilla Cupcakes

In celebration of Woman’s Day on 9th August, I thought I would share an INCREDIBLY easy cupcake recipe that you can use to spoil the lady in your life. So come on men, get creative and surprise the women in your lives with a special treat.

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Woman’s Day?  It is in no way linked to another “Mother’s Day”. Woman’s Day commemorates the women who participated in a national march in protest against the passing of laws that pro­posed even fur­ther restric­tions on the move­ments of women. This year, we celebrate the 57th year of Woman’s Day.

Easy Peasy Vanilla Cupcakes
serves 12 – 18

heart shapped vanilla cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
t tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
Cupcake liners

Preheat the oven to 180°C
Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners
Cream the eggs and sugar together until the mixture turns pale yellow
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together
Add to sugar mixture
Mix the milk, oil and vanilla essence together.
Add to the batter
Fill up each cupcake cup ¾ way.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  Check doneness by inserting a skewer into the cupcake, if it comes out clean, it is cooked.  If not, bake for another 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely before you ice it.

For the Icing:

250g butter, cubed, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (use milk if you like the icing really sweet)
1 tbsp food colouring of choice

Sift the icing sugar.
Place the butter in a food processor and process until light and fluffy.
Add the icing sugar 1 cup at a time.
Add the lemon juice and food colouring.
Adjust the colour of the icing to your liking.
Ice the cupcakes before you serve.

vanilla cupcakes

Avocado, Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream

I wanted to take this challenge to a whole new level and really show something innovative, without complicating the delicious simplicity of an avocado and more importantly, emphasizing the scrumptious flavour.  I have to admit that when I was approached to do the “More than just guacamole!” Afrikado Blogger Challenge, I was stumped. I needed inspiration to hit, otherwise I would never be satisfied with my end product. Once I found it, I couldn’t stop myself!

I now look at avocados in a whole new light and I am inspired to create different dishes using this super healthy fruit. Avocados are packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds, and fantastic to eat if you want to lower cholesterol levels.

Avo ice cream

Avocado, Coconut & Lime Ice Cream, served with a Chilli  Coulis
serves 4 – 6

3 ripe avocados – pit & skin removed
200ml lime cordial
½ tin coconut crème
pinch of salt

Place all the ingredients into a blender.  Pulsate until thick and smooth.  The avocado will create a velvety texture.

Place into and ice cream maker and churn.

Place the ice cream into the freezer until you are ready to use. Remember to take it out 10 minutes before you want to use to soften slightly to make dishing up easier.

In my mind, this needed something to really compliment the fresh flavours, and what better than a Chilli Coulis.  You can make a big jar and store, using it with different creations as you go.

250g diced red chillies (including seeds)
2 large red peppers, roasted and skin peeled off
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
seasoning
1 litre of water

Place all the chilli coulis ingredients, except the water, into a thick based pot.
Pour water in, just covering the top of the mixture.
Cook the mixture over a low heat until it has reached a point that when you dip a cool teaspoon into the mixture, and lift it out, your mixture slowly drips off. When the drips join together in a sheet, instead of separate drops, the coulis is ready.
Remove and set aside to cool before using.

 
Please note that this is a blog challenge set up by The Squashed Tomato on behalf of ZZ2. I will be receiving a voucher to the value of R200 from Woolworths for taking part.  The prize is a R2000 Woolworths shopping voucher and a hamper from ZZ2. 

Thai Vegetable Latkes with Citrus Phyllo Crisps & Pineapple-Orange Emulsion

I am currently part of a few blog challenges, which keeps me rather busy, so I thought I would share what I have been up to.

This challenge is called Freshly Blogged – Frozen Assets.

We were given this…

20130630_182752And had to come up with something that would knock the socks off people…

My inspiration behind this challenge was Chanukkah.

Chanukkah came straight to mind when I saw the list of ingredients for this challenge. Memories of making latkes with the kids, during their Chanukkah celebrations, flooded back. Chanukkah is a Jewish holiday, known as the Festival of Lights / Feast of Dedication, where fried foods are eaten to honour the commemoration of the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days in the menorah, which was only suppose to burn for 1 day.

This is a time for family and friends to gather and share special times together whether cooking the dishes or enjoying them around the dinner table.

I love versatility, and this dish lends itself to it. Present these latkes at your dinner party as a canapé; or serve it at the beginning of a heavy wintery meal, or enjoy as a light lunchtime dish with a glass of Chenin Blanc.

 

Thai Vegetable Latkes with Citrus Phyllo Crisps & Pineapple and Orange emulsion

Thai Vegetable Latkes with Citrus Phyllo Crisps & Pineapple-Orange Emulsion
Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

2 packets (500g each) Findus Wok Thai vegetables
½ roll (500g) PnP Phyllo Pastry
6 tsp PnP Cook Additions crushed Garlic, Ginger & Dhania paste
1 pkt PnP 2-minute Noodles – Thai Sweet Chilli Flavour
1 orange
1 fresh pineapple
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp coarse salt
1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
5 tbsp self raising flour
Small bowl of seasoning (salt & pepper)
Small bowl of sugar
Small bowl of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C

Zest the orange and squeeze out the juice, keeping some of the pulp too.
Peel and slice half the pineapple into thin rings, removing the core. Slice the other half into thick chunks.

Mix sugar and water together, with the zest of the orange in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and let cook until a thick syrup is formed. Remove from heat.

On a dry surface, lay out a layer of phyllo pastry, brush the syrup over and place another layer on top. Repeat twice.  Using a sharp knife, cut triangle shaped crisps, place on baking tray and bake for 5 – 7 minutes, just until golden brown. Before plating, brush the crisps with the orange glaze.  Make as many crisp as you want as these are nice to snack on.

Place the frozen vegetables in a colander and pour a litre of boiling water over.  Set aside and let the water drain.

Place the noodles in a mixing bowl, pour 2 cups of boiling water over the noodles, cover with cling wrap and set aside for about 3 – 4 minutes.  Drain and sprinkle the Thai sweet chilli seasoning over the noodles.

Mix the noodles and vegetables together, with the garlic, ginger and dhania paste, add salt & pepper (season to taste), add half the orange juice and half the pulp.  Set aside.

In a small pot, over a medium heat, add the olive oil and vegetable oil.  Heat until the oil reaches 180°C.

While the oil is heating, add the pineapple chunks and left over orange juice into a blender, season and add 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sugar and a dash of the liquid from the garlic, ginger and dhania paste. Blitz until smooth. Set aside.

Using the vegetable and noodle mixture, a heaped tablespoon at a time, roll into balls; gently drop into the hot oil, careful not to splash yourself. Repeat with a few more balls at a time, careful not to overcrowd the pot.  Work gentle with the balls, they are delicate. Cook until golden brown (about 7 – 10 minutes depending on size)

Brush a little olive oil over the pine apple pieces and grill, I used a skillet as I love char grilled look and flavour.

If you like this recipe and wish to vote, please follow this link – PnP Freshly Blogged.

Please note this challenge was sponsored by Findus in conjunction with Pick N Pay for the Freshly Blogged Bloggers Challenge..