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Olive oil granola – the lazy way

OliveOilGranola2

I love a good crunchy granola for breakfast, balanced with some tangy yogurt and topped with sweet fruit like strawberries – yum! Making it yourself is not only easy, but means you can tailor  it to perfectly match your taste buds (or adapt it to fit what you have in your cupboard).

There are many recipes out there for olive oil granola and mine is very similar – start with your oats, add a selection of yummy nuts and seeds plus some spice of your choice then top with olive oil and sweetener.

What is different is how I prepare it, in a very lazy way, avoiding extra bowls and jugs to wash as well as keeping my hands clean! I think it’s also a quicker way to get all the granola goodies together and who doesn’t want to save time?

OliveOilGranola1

Of course measuring out ingredients uses bowls, but once you’ve made this once or twice you can be brave and do it by sight without measuring. And this is a recipe where you don’t have to be exact in the quantities.

You can use whatever nuts and seeds you like; stay simple with just a few or add lots of different ones. I prefer almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, but also add cashews and golden linseed sometimes. Walnuts and pecans, broken up a little, work well, as do flaked almonds.

You can also easily add some dried fruit, like raisins, sour cherries or goji berries, at the end to the toasted mixture.

Olive oil granola – the lazy way

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins

300g rolled oats, preferably jumbo
75g skin-on almonds
50g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
100ml extra-virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
100ml sweetener of your choice (I use 50ml each of maple syrup and honey)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 150C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Spread the oats evenly on the prepared tray. Add the almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and cinnamon, and mix with a large spoon or spatula.

OliveOilGranolaPrep

OliveOilGranolaPrep1

Pour over the olive oil, sweetener and vanilla and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly over the tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and mix the granola to keep it toasting evenly.

Put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until it’s golden to your liking.

OliveOilGranolaPrep2

Leave to cool. Break up any large chunks if necessary and store in an airtight container.

Eat with milk or a dollop of yogurt and top with your favourite fruit, or simply devour it as is!

Variations:

  • try different spices like ginger or cardamon
  • add dried fruit such as dried sour cherries, goji berries, raisins, etc after the toasted granola has cooled
  • add a pinch of salt when adding the spices

 

What’s your favourite way to eat granola?

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Chocolate overnight oats

Who wants to eat fluffy chocolate mousse for breakfast? Ok, so there are some (strange) people out there who don’t like chocolate, my hubby included, but I hope most of you will reply with a deafening ‘YES PLEASE!’

I get sick of having the same things for breakfast, but not being a morning person I find it difficult most mornings to even decide what I want to eat, let alone make it. That’s why I love overnight oats. Prepared the night before, all I have to do the next morning is take them out of the fridge and devour them.

For me, this recipe makes enough for three days and keeps well in the fridge in a covered container. I get my chocolate fix first thing and start the day with a filling breakfast. It’s a win-win!

ChocolateOvernightOats

Chocolate overnight oats

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 0 mins 🙂
Makes 2-3 servings

50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
250g (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt
120ml (1/2 cup) your choice of milk
20g (3 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp of your choice of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, etc.)
extra yogurt and chocolate sprinkles to serve (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a lidded container or jar and mix until combined. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, stir and serve with an extra dollop of yogurt and some chocolate sprinkles.

What’s your favourite type of overnight oats?

I’m linking up to Honest Mum‘s Tasty Tuesdays, a weekly list of fabulous recipes.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Greek Chicken Tava

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m super excited that family and friends are coming to us this year. I LOVE Christmas, but have never had the chance to organise it myself.

Of course having family to stay means also feeding them before and after Christmas day, so I’ve been researching, making lists and trying out recipes that easily feed a large number of people. There’s going to be 9 of us to feed for two weeks!

Honest Mum

The gorgeous Honest Mum’s Greek Chicken Tava (actually her mum’s recipe) ticks all the boxes. Quick to prepare, everything thrown into one baking dish (less washing up) and roasted in the oven so you can forget about it while it cooks and get on with other things. And on top of that, it’s delicious, warming and filling, and also easily doubled (or tripled!). The perfect easy (and healthy) family meal.

I also love that you can add pretty much any vegetables you have on hand. Vicki’s mum uses onions, potatoes, courgettes/zucchini, carrots and tomatoes. I’ve made this several times now and also tried peppers/capsicum, parsnip and beetroot. Basically any vegetable that’s yummy roasted is fine to add.

Vicki’s mum uses slices of large fresh tomatoes. I tend to throw in small vine tomatoes (still on the vine) as I love their pops of freshness when you eat them. I also tend to leave out the chilli simply because Nicholas can love spice one day and hate it the next, and it’s still really tasty without it. I also use dried oregano instead of fresh.

A brilliant dish whether you have a large family to feed or just deserve some more time to yourself instead of slaving over the stove!

Greek Chicken Tava

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Serves 4

750g new or Maris Piper potatoes, unpeeled, chopped into small pieces
8 medium chicken thighs, on the bone and skin on
2 onions, quartered
2 courgettes, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 large tomatoes and/or 400g can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small fresh red chilli, chopped
40ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
40ml red wine (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or dried)
flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C

In a large baking dish or tray, add the potatoes, chicken, onion and vegetables, tomatoes, garlic and chilli. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the wine (if using). Season and sprinkle with cumin and oregano.

Bake for 50 minutes, checking on the chicken and turning if necessary.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014

Pirate Pucco

Ahoy me hearties!

Yo ho ho and shiver me timbers, today be t’ best day o’ t’ year. Arr, aye, today be ‘International Talk Like a Pirate’ Day!

T’ celebrate I made Captain Nicholas a swashbuckling lunch with an extra surprise for snack time. Aye, dressin’ up like a pirate be one o’ his favourite things t’ do, so he was happy with his booty. Later he told he especially loved the jolly roger flag.

pirate lunch

pirate apple - aarrr!

The pirate schooner and sail are cut from a ham, cheese and spinach sandwich with a cheese mast on a sea of lettuce. I drew a jolly roger and the portholes with edible ink pens, and added a side of cherry tomatoes.

I precut the apple to make it easier for Nicholas to eat and put the pieces back together held with a rubber band to stop the pieces going brown. I then drew on the pirate face with an edible ink.

Batten down t’ hatches and happy Pirate Day to ye!

Eats-Amazing-Fun-Food-Friday

I’m linking our pirate lunch up to Eats Amazing’s Fun Food Friday, a weekly round-up of fun and creative food.

 

Frozen fruit pops

Frozen fruit pops

Summer has come and gone in the UK. It wasn’t a bad one at all this year, in fact I got a tan during a British summer for the first time! However I’d be lying if I said I was anything but ecstatic that we’re finally away on holiday enjoying a very hot sun on a wonderful beach.

During our summer at home, Nicholas and I got into a regular habit of going to a park a little way from home that’s much bigger than our neighbourhood ones. For warm days its paddling pool was perfect. Our ritual was paddling pool followed by a lie in the sun, moving to the large sand pit followed by all the other playground attractions. Then we’d go find the ice cream man and have a run round the park before coming home.

Of course a British summer wouldn’t be a British summer without some rain, and not just a summer shower but days of torrential rain! (I wrote my cheeky views of the summer in the UK here.)  When we couldn’t go outside and enjoy an ice lolly, we’d improvise a picnic inside and eat frozen fruit pops to make the day sunnier.

There really is nothing simpler than frozen fruit pops. Well you could just throw some fruit pieces into the freezer, but then you’d be missing the fun aspect of the stick. Why does putting food on a stick much it so much better?!?

You need plastic cake pop sticks or wooden ice lolly sticks. Don’t use wooden skewers as these can be dangerous for little ones and they’re not as easy to hold on to.

Next chop up some fruit into bite-sized pieces. We used strawberries and grapes. You can also use banana, watermelon (cut in chunks or balls), raspberries, blueberries and mango.

Thread your fruit onto the sticks, put on a freezer-proof plate or tray and put into the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once they’re frozen you can keep them all together in a freezer bag.

A healthy fun treat for summer days, or when you’re wishing for the return of summer days.

What were your favourite things to do together this summer?

Aussie saltbush damper

This week’s Great British Bake Off was all about bread, something I have a love/hate relationship with when it comes to baking it.

I used to love baking bread and wasn’t too bad at it, then came a period where it never seemed to go right. The only bread I tend to make at the moment are these bread rolls which are super easy and very slightly adapted from my friend Barbara’s recipe. If you’re at all interested in baking bread you must check our her wonderful blog all about bread and things that accompany it.

I tried to face my bread demons with an attempt at baking an amazingly pink beetroot bread. What I learnt was I must always check the type of yeast I’m using and how it’s meant to be activated! My bread was a fabulous colour but didn’t rise properly and so didn’t cook properly.
My beetroot bread failure

I wasn’t sure I’d manage to try some more bread as we’re going on holidays at the weekend, so there’s the usual pre-holiday panic of packing and getting on top of work. But when I was putting away the Aussie herbs and spices hubby brought back from a business trip quite a while ago, the jar of saltbush caught my eye, in particular when I read the label explaining its use in damper.

Damper is a traditional Australian bread, typically baked in the coals of a campfire and gets its name because the fire is damped to then cook the bread amongst the hot coals. Damper can also be wrapped around a stick and cooked over a fire.

Originally made by stockman who might be in the outback for weeks or months with only basic provisions, it consisted simply of flour and water without any raising agent. Now people tend to use self-raising flour or add baking powder, as well as add butter and milk to the dough.

Saltbush is a very hardy long-living shrub that doesn’t mind droughts and is very common in the dry inland of Australia. As its name suggests, its dried leaves have a salty ‘herby’ taste which were used in the past along with the ground roasted seeds by indigenous Australians mainly to flavour damper.

I decided to do a dairy-free take on a modern damper recipe using the saltbush for an authentic outback flavour.

dairy-free

AUSSIE SALTBUSH DAMPER

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30-35 mins
Makes 8 servings

250g plain self-raising flour
200g wholemeal self-raising flour
2 tsp saltbush
1 tsp salt
100ml oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
300ml cold water
1/4 tsp saltbush, extra

Heat the oven to 200C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a food processor, combine the plain and wholemeal flours, saltbush, salt and oil until the oil is fairly evenly distributed.

With the motor running, pour in the water a little at a time until the dough has just come together in a ball (you might not need all the water).

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and very briefly knead (about 1 minute) then form into a round shape.

Place the dough onto your prepared tray. Dip a sharp knife into flour and score the top in a star pattern to create 8 wedges. Sprinkle the extra saltbush over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden and when you tap the bottom it sounds hollow.

Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.

Best eaten warm as a large chunk in your hand, with lashings of butter and perhaps some good cheese or a bowl of soup on the side.
dairy-free damper bread

Variations:

  • omit the saltbush (difficult to get outside Australia) and replace with chopped fresh rosemary
  • sprinkle with Parmesan before baking
  • add chunks of cheese to the dough when kneading for a cheesy damper
  • use beer instead of the water to get a yeasty flavour
  • use your hands instead of the food processor to mix the dough (great for little ones to get involved)

Please share some of your easy/foolproof bread recipes so I can beat my bread demon!

I’m joining in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off. Visit Mummy Mishaps to see some more successful attempts than mine at leavened bread!
gbbo-badgesmallI’m also linking up to Supergolden Bake’s #CookBlogShare party.
cookblogshare

Cheesy spinach crackers

Week two of the Great British Bake Off was all about biscuits and this was the perfect excuse for me to revisit making savoury crackers.
the crackers say it all!

I don’t make these Wholemeal Wheat Thins nearly enough, especially when we’re all big cracker fans, and since I first made them I’ve wanted to try adapting the recipe to use olive oil instead of butter to be a bit healthier.

I’ve made these crackers using both fresh and frozen spinach with the same great result. If you’re using frozen spinach, run it under cold water for a minute or two to defrost and then squeeze as much liquid out as you can before putting it into your food processor.

The preparation is super quick and easy – just throw everything into your food processor! What will take up most of your preparation time is rolling and cutting.

cheesy spinach crackersThe secret to getting a lovely crisp cracker is to roll out the dough as thinly as possible (2-3mm is ideal).

Nicholas and I had lots of fun cutting out different shapes – small letters, circles and wavy rectangles. Small fiddly shapes can be time-consuming (although kids will love them), but even cutting random straight lines across the dough will give you some fun shapes.

If you get sick of rolling and cutting, the dough freezes very well!
cheesy spinach crackers

CHEESY SPINACH CRACKERS

Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 5-10 mins (depending on the size of the crackers)
Makes about 120 Ritz-size crackers
Store in an airtight container for up to a week

100g spinach
200g grated cheddar
150g wholemeal plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
60ml extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Put the spinach into a food processor and blend until evenly broken up.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until the mixture comes together into a ball.

Take the dough out of the processor and divide it in half. Roll out one half of the dough as thinly as you can (I put the dough between two pieces of cling film to avoid it sticking to the bench or rolling pin, which saves on cleaning up time!). The thinner you can roll it, the crisper your thins will be.

Cut out shapes using a cookie cutters or a pastry wheel.

Place the shapes close together on your prepared tray and use a skewer or toothpick to poke some holes into each one to stop them puffing up.

Bake for 7 – 10 mins until golden brown and crisp (keep a close eye on them as they cook quickly).

Variations:

  • use white plain flour for a lighter textured cracker
  • omit the cheese for a dairy-free cracker
  • add onion or garlic powder to the mixture
  • add some dried herbs such as thyme, sage or rosemary to the mixture

Tip: if your stored crackers start getting soft, pop them back into the oven to crisp up for a couple of minutes.

To join in the Great Bloggers Bake Off or to see the other baking efforts, visit Mummy Mishaps.
gbbo-badgesmall

I’m also linking up to Supergolden Bake’s #CookBlogShare party.
cookblogshare