Sugar Free – Paleo – Blondies Recipe

blondiesQuite some time ago we embarked on the Paleo diet. I have to say that I feel really great since starting this way of eating which is based on the diet of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era.

When we first started I wondered how we would go with sweet treats but I have been pleasantly surprised at the wide range of tasty treat recipes that are available.

I have been busy over the time making almond chocolate which I love and have just had a go at making ‘Blondies”. this recipe has been adapted from the Paleo Meal Plan Recipe Book. I say adapted because we had to substitute some of the ingredients.

BLONDIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz jar almond butter  – we used peanut butter
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ½ maple syrup – here we had to cheat as I only had about ¼ cup so we topped it up with  golden syrup.
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond butter with honey, maple syrup and eggs. Mix well
  3. Mix in salt and baking soda, followed by ½ cup of the chocolate chips
  4. Pour batter into a well greased 9×13 baking dish and spread the batter oout evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining chocolate chips
  6. Bake for 35 minutes.

These are very tasty and an ideal healthy treat for adults and kids alike.

For this and many other tasty Paleo meals and sweet treats you cant go past the Quick and Simple Paleo Meals recipe book and the 8 week meal plan

blondies-paleo

 

The Breville Automatic Tea Maker & Kettle Review

Breville-one-touch-tea-makerI have fallen in love – with my new Breville Automatic tea maker.

Paula and I went out to our favourite tea store ‘Adore’ in Federation Square. We had run out of our favourite herbal teas –  French Earl Grey Tea and Evening Mist, both very nice blends with a floral hint.

On the counter was this great looking The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
priced at $299.00. I kept being drawn to the tea maker, just as intended by the shop owner of course. I could certainly see a use for this item in my household.

We finished making our tea purchases and headed to the cafe nearby for a milkshake and to discuss whether or not we should buy the tea maker, keeping in mind we would have to buy two, one for each household.  Paula went online and found the same item at David Jones, a local department store, for $249.99. So we  headed off to DJ’s.

The Breville Tea Maker can also be found for $249.99 on Amazon.

We couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. And we were not disappointed.

Getting Started

As with any new appliance – read the directions first. There is a quick start guide included and we simply followed the instructions on that.

So we set the power base onto a flat surface then performed a cleaning cycle with just plain water – no tea.

You do not add the tea basket for this initial clean.

Fill the jug with water up to the 1500ml mark, replace the lid and insert the power cord into the power.

The tea maker has a short power cord that I find ideal as I don’t have to wind up long lengths of cord which has to be tucked out of the way.  The cord also has a unique assist plug, which has a convenient finger hole which makes it easy to remove from the power socket.  If you require a longer cord, these are available from Breville.

The LCD lights on the power base will light up.

  • Press the up arrow to select 100°C (212°F)
  • Press the ‘Hot Water’ button to start.

Once the first lot of water has boiled simply discard it and your tea maker is now ready for use.

Making the tea

Okay, so far so good. Now for the next step – Making the tea.

At this point we hadn’t added the basket but once you start making tea you simply lift the basket out of the glass carafe, by the sides.

Pop off the basket lid and add tea leaves.  There is a plastic measuring spoon included and as I like very weak tea I only add a ½ a teaspoon. But you can make your teas as weak or as strong as you like.

Fill the jug with the amount of water you need. It’s generally only Paula and I having a cuppa so I fill the jug to the 750ml water line, 1200ml is the max recommended fill line.

Slip the tea basket onto the post in the jug and pop on the jug lid.

Now simply select the tea type which helps your tea maker to determine the brew temperature.

Select the tea strength – there are 4 modes:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

Whichever one you choose determines the brew time.

Now press the ‘Tea/Cancel’ button to start the tea making process.

Now this is the really groovy part. Once the water reaches the correct temperature, the tea basket will automatically lower down into the water. Then as soon as the brew time has elapsed the tea basket will automatically rise out of the water and the machine will beep to let you know that your tea is ready.

Then you simply pour and enjoy.

How simple is that?

There is also a Keep Warm button the will keep the brewed tea or the heated water warm for up to 60 mins. Ideal if you are doing something you want to finish before sitting down to have your cup of tea. And because the tea basket isn’t sitting in the brew, it wont become bitter as with a normal teapot.

Do we think it is a worthwhile purchase – yes we do.

So what do you get in the box

  • One Power Base
  • One short Power Cord
  • One German Made Schott stain resistant glass kettle
  • One jug lid with stainless steel scale filter
  • One tea scoop
  • One stainless steel tea basket and lid

The Power Base

The power base has all the function controls to make the perfect cup of tea.

  • Auto Start
  • Keep warm
  • basket

Tea Type Selection Button for the following tea types

  • Green
  • Black
  • White
  • Herbal
  • Oolong
  • Custom

There are buttons that allow you to override both  the preset brew temperatures and the preset brew times.

The back-lit LCD displays both the brew temperature and brew time.

The Tea Strength Button has preset times for:

  • Strong
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Custom

There is a Hot Water/Cancel button

  • This allows you to use the tea maker as a variable temperature kettle.

The Tea/Cancel

  • This button activates the tea brewing cycle

You can purchase this great appliance from Amazon and take advantage of their Free super Saver Shipping.

Need to see it in action?  Here are a couple of videos to help you see how great this appliance is.

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Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

popcorn-butterscotch-squaresNow that the kids are back at school its time to start thinking about lunchbox fillers. Mind you that isn’t as hard as you think if you have the Australian Women’s Weekly Little Squares & Slices cookbook on hand

My friend Tammy makes amazing slices for her family of 5 children to pop into their lunch boxes and for after school snacks and this is one I am sure you will all love.

 


 Popcorn Butterscotch Squares

Prep + cook time 30 minutes (+ refrigeration)
Makes 24
Store squares in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Ingredients:-

• 250g (8 ounces) butternut snap biscuits
• 125g (4 ounces) butter, melted
• 395g (12 ½ ounces) canned sweetened condensed milk
• 30g (1 ounce) butter, extra
• 4 cups (40g) air-popped salted popcorn
• ½ cup (40g) toasted shredded coconut
• 185g (6 ounces) milk eating chocolate, melted

Method:
1. Grease 20cm x 30cm (8-inch x 12-inch) rectangular pan; line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper 5 cm (2 inches) over sides.

2. Process biscuits until fine. Add butter; process until combined. Press mixture firmly over base of pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

3. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk and extra butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan; cook, stirring, over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until mixture is a caramel colour. Remove from heat; quickly stir in the popcorn and coconut.

4. Working quickly with wet hands, spread and firmly press popcorn mixture over base. Spread chocolate over slice. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set before cutting.

the-australian-womens-weekly-little-squares-&-slicesThe recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘little squares & slices’ cookbook.

I doubt there is a household in Australia that doesn’t have a copy of at least one of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks.

They have an amazing range of cookbooks that cover every type of cooking that you can think of. The recipes are always easy to follow.

Each recipe is clearly photographed so that you can see what the finished dish should look like. The recipes aren’t complicated and  because they are all tested before publication, they work – every time.

 

Healthy Home-made Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes – Couldn’t be easier

We both recently started making our own bread. One reason for this is that we are eating more and more organic foods and growing our own veges so making our own bread was just one more step towards knowing what we are eating. Commercial bread is full of additives and preservatives.  We know exactly what goes into our bread.

The bread recipe we use is from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking recipe book by Jeff Hertzber and Zoe Francois, which is available in both hard copy and kindle.  We have both, but I like to work from the Kindle app on the iPad.

Now what is so great about this bread recipe?

Well it takes only 5 minutes to make, there is NO kneading required and the mixture keeps in the fridge for around 14 days so you can just pull off a lump of dough to make a fresh loaf when you need it.

The book has around 100 recipes so that you can make different kinds of bread but we generally make the basic dough mix which makes enough for four 1 pound loaves.  Although you can double or halve the recipe to suit your family’s requirements, we find that the standard recipe works well for two to four people.

Master Recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (equivalent to 2 packets). I no longer use packet yeast but loose yeast granuals
  • 1½ tablespoons Kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 6½ cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong)
bread-making-ingredients

bread-making-ingredients

Method:

Preparing Dough for Storage:

1.. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.

2. Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket.  I use a large Tupperware rectangular modular mate container.

Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

adding-the-yeast

Adding the Yeast

yeast-added-to-warm-water

Yeast Added to the Warm Water

3. Mix in the flour and salt – kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement.

Use-scoop-and-sweep-method

Use Scoop & Sweep Method

Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. I have just started using my Cuisinart hand mixer which also did an admirable job.

If you’re hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead, it isn’t necessary.You know the dough is ready when everything is uniformly moist, without any dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

stir-in-the-flour-into-the-yeast-mixture
Stir the flour into the yeast mixture
mixing-bread-dough

Mixing the bread dough

4. Put the dough aside to allow it to rise. Cover with lid (I just sit the lid on top of the container and don’t seal it otherwise it could explode from the trapped gases). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes as longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.

bread-dough-rising

Bread dough rising

 

5. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.

On Baking Day:

1. You can bake this bread in a prepared loaf tim, tray, or whatever you’ choose to bake it in or on. I simply use a Pizza Stone. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (approximately 1 lb), using a serrated knife.

2. Hold the dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.

stretching-the-bread-dough

Stretch the bread dough

3. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.

bread-formed-and-ready-to-rise

Bread formed into roll

4. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes. I use a small round board sprinkled with Polenta, which I find helps stops the dough sticking and helps it to easily come free when transferring it to the pizza plate.
Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.

5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

6. Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.

bread-floured-and-sliced

Bread dough floured and slashed

7. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.

8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

9. Eat with your favorite topping – yummo

baked-bread

Baked bread with a golden crust

Sliced-bread-enjoy

Sliced bread ready to enjoy

9. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.

This is the standard bread. There are loads of variations – both savory and sweet – in the book. I also have the Kindle version of their Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.

Making bread has never been easier. Forget all the fuss and bother of kneading and resting the dough for hours on end, which is how my mother used to make her homemade bread. She would have loved this recipe.

 

Choc-Honeycomb Ice Cream Pudding – Delicious for Celebrations or Anytime

Paula and I decided to cook dinner for her brother Wal for his birthday. For the menu we cooked wild Alaskan Salmon, a favorite of ours,  with new potatoes in parsley butter, carrots and beans from  Paula’s garden, and dessert was a delicious choc honeycomb ice cream pudding.  This dessert was taken from the Super Food Ideas magazine and believe me it is delicious.

choc-honeycomb-ice-cream-puddingChoc-honeycomb ice-cream pudding.

Ingredients:-

  • 1½ x 300g packets of chocolate sponge roles. (we used a chocolate cream filled sponge roll from Coles)
  • 2 liters hokey pokey ice cream – softened
  • 2 x 55g Violet Crumble bars, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup of dry-roasted hazelnuts, chopped

Topping:-

  • 180g block white chocolate, chopped (we used Cadbury’s Dream White Chocolate)
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • strawberries – halved,
  • white chocolate curls ( I made the chocolate curls using a potato peeler)
  • silver cachous, to decorate (optional)

Method:-

Line an 8 cup capacity pudding basin with plastic wrap. (Good luck doing that, I found it to be a bit fiddly).

Cut the chocolate rolls into 1 cm thick slices. Reserve 4 slices. Line the base and side of the prepared pan with remaining cake slices, trimming to fit.

Place the softened ice cream in a bowl. Fold in the roughly chopped Violet Crumble and the chopped hazelnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, Level the top with a spatula and arrange the reserved cake slices over the top of the ice cream, pressing slightly to secure.

Cover with plastic wrap, then foil and freeze overnight.

Topping:-

Place white chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50%) for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring with a metal spoon every 30 seconds. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.

Decorating:-

Turn the pudding onto a plate. Remove the plastic wrap.

Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate sauce over the pudding. Stand for 5 minutes.

Decorate with strawberries, chocolate curls and cachous. Serve with the remaining chocolate sauce.

I didn’t read the last part of the recipe and so added all the topping instead of just 1/3 , but it turned out fine and it tasted fantastic.  The topping is not too sweet and the hidden bits of violet crumble and hazelnuts certainly add a touch of pizazz to the delicious hokey pokey ice cream. We also served it with extra strawberries and cream.

I will certainly make this dessert again.

Many thanks to Super Food Ideas Magazine.