Thursday, 23 January 2014

cheddar and jalapeno pepper muffins

So what do you do when you're stuck indoors with two poorly children, attempting to work from home, while it's absolutely pissing down with rain? You bake, obviously.

I was looking through the Internet (I like read the whole entire thing when I'm procrastinating) for a grain-free baked good recipe. I was going to make something sweet but as I'm attempting to wean myself off sugar/the need for sugar, I went for something savoury instead. And anyway, healthy substitutes for cakes always taste like a loofah covered in Stevia powder. Don't try to tell me they don't; you're just so ravenous from being on a diet that you think it tastes good. I've been there. I know.

Anyway, I decided to make something resembling cornbread muffins to go with my leftover chilli for lunch. I found this basic almond flour muffin recipe on Elena's Pantry, added some extras, and doubled it: http://www.elanaspantry.com/ratio-rally-quick-breads/ To my huge surprise (see my comment about substitution failures) they turned out to be pretty damned tasty.

They aren't corn muffins because they don't, you know, contain corn. They do have a very similar texture and a little bit of sweetness you'd get with cornbread. They are very passable and tender cheesy muffins that went well with my chilli. And then I ate another just to be sure. It was still good, but I'll have to try another one tomorrow to make sure they're still delicious the next day. Shall keep you posted.

You could add all sorts of things to the basic muffin batter, sweet or savoury. I was thinking of doing a breakfast version with bacon (I know, I know - this will do nothing to dissuade people from posting bacon jokes on my Facebook page), spinach, mushrooms, and cheese or a pizza version with tomatoes, basil, cheese, and pepperoni. It'll just depend on how many deadlines I'm trying to avoid.

Here's the recipe.
Cheddar Jalapeno Muffins
Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins
(Makes 8 large 'Merkin sized muffins)

Ingredients:

8 oz blanched almond flour (approx. two cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shredded mature cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (or more if you want more heat)
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
8 oz eggs (four large eggs)
2 oz honey (approx. two tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan assist/350F. Line a muffin tin, or if you've got a very well seasoned tin like I do, just spray a little oil on it.

Put the almond flour, baking soda, cheese, jalapeno peppers, chilli powder, and sea salt in a bowl and combine. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, and vinegar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well.

Bake for around 15 minutes, until the edges are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

Monday, 6 January 2014

i don't wanna, you can't make me!

Back to real life tomorrow. I'm in the office then the kids are back to school on Wednesday. The extracurricular activities return, gotta make the lunches tonight, meals change back to Stuff Wot I Can Bung Together and Eat In An Hour After I Get Home. After I don't know how many years of never sleeping past 6:30am, all three kids have started sleeping in until 8:00. What a cruel, cruel world we live in.

I don't mind returning to work, especially as my brain has started leaking out my ears. I need some time to myself, focussing on something other than preventing my kids from beating the shit out of each other. What does it say about my life when I consider the office a "nice break"?

So I won't wish today away and won't waste it all pottering about online. Tomorrow, there may be some kicking and screaming. Today, maybe I'll make some soup and glue beads to stuff with the girls.

Friday, 3 January 2014

holey tops, batman!

The other day, I noticed my black t-shirt had tiny little holes in the front, just below my belly button. Annoyed, I chucked it thinking it must have been damaged in the washing machine. Then the second t-shirt got holes in the same spot. Then a third. Either some sort of moth was living in my navel (possible as I can't actually see it) or something else was amiss.

Thanks to Google, I found out that this is a common occurrence when you switch to a granite worktop (counter.) It's caused by rubbing up against the edge and seems to affect jersey tops more than others. I cannot even make this stuff up. 

I suppose this means an apron is needed until I lose enough stomach or grow longer arms. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

aubergine (eggplant) with ragu sauce

I stopped writing about food on this blog because I thought people who were here to read all about my thrilling life wouldn't want to read about the food I make. As only about three of you read this blog anymore and food is a huge part of our lives, the food is back.

This is also to help keep me on track with the Not Eating of the Crap. If I blog about the Not Crap I'm eating, I might actually not eat Crap. (I really need to get back to work; my brain has obviously packed it in.)

Yesterday was all about carbs thanks to too much bubbly the night before. And Pringles. And chocolate cake. I made a big batch of spaghetti bolognaise last night, and the world seemed a slightly better place. A little leftover sauce made a healthier lunch for me today, with the addition of one small aubergine and mozzarella balls. I'm feeling all smug and virtuous now. I've stuck to my diet for 6 1/2 hours so far. BOOYAH.

Oh Christ, I'm annoying. Here's the recipe.

Aubergine Bolognaise With Mozzarella
(Serves 4, or less with extras for the next day)

For the bolognaise:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 onion, oh you get the idea. Cut everything up small.
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g beef mince/ground beef
1 glass of red wine
1 tin plum tomatoes
1 box (about 2 cups) of passata/tomato sauce
Dash of worcester sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh basil

For the aubergine/eggplant base:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 aubergines/eggplants, thinly sliced
250g fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil to garnish

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan over medium heat. Fry off the beef until it browns - try not to move it around too much so you get some nice crispy bits (rather than boiling it.) Remove the beef from the pan.
Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic to the pan, and stir until it starts to soften.
Put the beef back in the pan along with the glass of wine. Let the wine bubble and reduce a bit, then add the tomatoes, passata/tomato sauce, worcester sauce, and salt and pepper.
Let it simmer, covered, for at least half an hour but ideally 1-2 hours. This can also be left to simmer in a slow cooker, or cooked ahead and frozen.

For the aubergines, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Toss in the aubergines and cook them off until they brown a little. Add the sauce and heat through. Just before serving, tear up the mozzarella and add it to the pan, and let it melt a little. Garnish with fresh basil if you like that sort of thing.

it must be that time of year again


If it's January 1st, it must be time for my annual post. I can save you some time by letting you know that I am still fat, still writing, and my house is a bit tidier. If you've got a moment to spare, the longer version follows.

I don't do resolutions. You should just aim to be a better person all the time and sort your shit out if/when you can. I guess what I put together each year is a wish list of things I hope to sort out, but if I don't, hey that's okay. There's always next year. 

My goals for 2013 were:

  • Again with the house decluttering and making bigger thing. The mess. Oh god, the mess. Make it go away.
Well excellent, we did manage to sort out this one. Making it out the other side of renovations has been cathartic. It was incredibly stressful but it was a great to get rid of a lot of things we didn't need, pass them along to others, and find space for the things we do need.
  • Stick to the damn diet. 
Holy crap, am I bad at this or what? Here we go again...
  • Keep writing. 
Still writing, although I didn't go for any new publications/sites last year.
  • Do something interesting.
I didn't do anything of interest because I was too damn tired and choking on plaster dust.
  • Spend less time online. 
I am very bad at this, too. It doesn't help that one of my gigs involves social media management.

And now, my goals for 2014, because everyone loves bulleted lists:
  • Learn when to say no (and yes.) I'm terrible at delegating; my first instinct is to say yes to everything. On the other hand, I'm not always good at accepting social invitations and sometimes my instinct is to find an excuse not to go - then I do end up going and having a brilliant time. I suppose I just need to think a little more before giving anyone an answer. 
  • This year, I WILL learn how to use my camera properly and do a photo a day: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisadurbin/sets/72157639300084926/
  • Okay seriously now, get that weight off. This is getting silly.
  • Figure out what to do for our 10th wedding anniversary.
  • Continue with the organising and purging, starting with the mahoosive pile of paperwork that's been shoved in drawers in the spare room.
  • Get back into knitting. Because I'm wild like that.
  • Get my veggie plot going again.
Things I don't need to do this year:
  • Stress about things that aren't actually happening and things I cannot change. What the hell does this accomplish? Nothing. Move on.
  • Go outside of my comfort zone/do something daring or that I would never think I would do. I like being comfortable. And that's okay.
  • Think too much about what I see on Facebook. Because it's Facebook, you know? Real life is over there ----->