Salty Almond Praline

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Sooo has anyone else realised that all 6 seasons of Xena are on Netflix? I’m still on the first season but my crush on Lucy Lawless is well underway. I’m also in disbelief that it was aired right after school in the afternoon, so many sexual references! Xena and Hercules are also fun to watch because of the number of Australian and New Zealand actors who played bit parts before they got famous (and before they could act, ZING!).

Of course Xena has nothing to do with this praline, I’m just spreading the good word. I have doubled the original recipe because you need half for you and the other half for making friends, bribes etc. Sprankle over ice cream, fold into brownies or eat straight from the oven tray. Bonus points for being vegan and gluten free.

Salty Almond Praline

Recipe hardly even adapted from Salty Maple Almond Praline over at The Sugar Hit.

2 cups whole almonds

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 tbsp maple syrup

4 tbsp brown sugar

sea salt to taste (I started with 1/2 tsp)

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl, taste and adjust the flavours to your preference.

Spread evenly onto your prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 8 minutes.

Remove the tray and mix the nuts, spread out evenly and bake for another 6 minutes.

Remove from the oven, give the nuts a final stir and set aside to cool completely.

Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

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Malted Nutell-Oat Smoothie

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I’m on a smoothie rampage, after drinking the same thing for breakfast err-day suddenly I’m obsessed with trying every smoothie recipe that comes my way. I’m a creature of habit, though, so that means a Mango Passionfruit Smoothie to start the day and a new recipe to take to work (I’m convinced that my daily smoothie is what’s keeping my immune system going even though I’m having trouble sleeping). This recipe in particular has everything I want in a milkshake but the addition of banana and oats makes it feel more nourishing. I figure as long as I’m getting some fibre and nutrients with my sugar I’m all good. Banana also has the magic property of keeping your smoothie thick even after sitting for a while, although you have to give it a stir to incorporate the oats having a rest at the bottom. I’m not a major banana fan but there is enough going flavour-wise to keep it in the background, although the sweetness it brings to the party is welcome. A smoothie to get you past 3 o’clock without getting into that family size bag of Malteser’s that keeps looking at you.

It still tastes great without the malt (not that I would ever sanction leaving out malt) but don’t pass up the vanilla extract and salt. Experiment and add more or less milk to change the consistency.

Malted Nutell-Oat Smoothie

Adapted from Nutella Oatmeal Cookie Shake over at How Sweet It Is.

1/3 cup oats (any kind)

375 ml milk

2 bananas, peeled and frozen

1/4 cup ice

4-5 tbsp nutella

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp malt powder

pinch of salt

(If your blender needs a little help getting the oats smooth, combine oats and milk in the blender, allow to sit in the fridge for 1 hour).

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until combined.

Taste and add more Nutella if desired, blend again if adding anything.

Serve immediately.

Honey Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Swirl

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The last few months have been hectic but satisfying. I’m working more which makes me really appreciate my leisure time. The way I’m choosing to spend my down time at the moment is basking in the glory that is Bridezillas. Watching crazy people makes me feel normal by comparison and I can’t help but point out to The Boyfriend how happy he should be with me. My immersion is getting to the point that hysterically yelling “I’m calling off the wedding!” is becoming the normal response to any kind of opposition. The best part is definitely the passive aggressive narration, it really is a cut above normal reality show standards. It has also strengthened decision to never, ever help anyone to plan and execute a wedding (sorry, Sarah).

With less time for recreational cooking I have to get my priorities in order and with the humidity that the citizens of Brisbane are subjected to on a daily basis, ice cream is very much at the top of my list. I’m still working my way through Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home and loving every minute of it. I had all of the ingredients for this in my fridge and pantry, my favourite kind of recipe. Whenever I try to drip chocolate into ice cream to create freckles, it reaches a critical point where the chocolate starts clogging up the spinning blade in my machine. Rather than blow my motor I find that it’s easier to layer the rest of the chocolate in the tub with the ice cream. If you have a fancier ice cream machine than me you might not even run into this problem (and if having your ice cream machine jam up with chocolate isn’t a first world problem, I don’t know what is).

Honey Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Swirl

Adapted from The Buckeye State Ice Cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

2 cups milk

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornflour

3 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter (if using salted, omit the salt from the recipe)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups thickened cream

2/3 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp glucose syrup

2 tbsp honey

115g dark chocolate

2 tbsp coconut oil

In a small bowl mix together 3 tbsp of milk with the cornstarch to create a slurry, set aside.

In a bowl large enough to hold the finished mixture whisk together the cream cheese, peanut butter and salt (if using) until smooth, set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, glucose and honey, bring up to a boil over medium heat and boil for 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, return to the heat and stir for 1 minute until mixture has thickened.

Remove from the heat and gradually whisk into the prepared peanut butter mixture until smooth.

Cover the mixture with cling film, pressing it down on to the surface to prevent a skin forming.

Chill overnight in the fridge.

Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the mixture is churning, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together, stirring until smooth.

In the last minute of churning, start drizzling in the chocolate mixture (if the chocolate starts jamming up the machine, layer the chocolate in the tub with the ice cream instead).

Transfer the mixture into a 1L capacity container and freeze overnight.

Raw Choc Chip Cookies

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I’ve had more days off than usual lately, and unfortunately/fortunately that means more opportunities to cook. I’ve got baked goods coming out the wazoo and not a whole lot of it is healthy. I’m not a health nut but I do my best to keep things balanced (please ignore the kilo of Doritos that I got from Costco yesterday) and these Raw Choc Chip Cookies caught my eye. Another bonus is that they don’t require any kind of heat to make and that is kind of essential this time of year, all my homies in Queensland will know what I’m talking about. There is a large list of things that become an absolute no-no in summer which includes but isn’t limited to turning on the oven, leaving the house, eating soups/stews, moving beyond the limit of your fan and any unnecessary movements in general. As a result I’ve been collecting recipes that don’t need the oven, as well as watching every possible thing on my hard drive (had an all day Back to the Future Marathon, dayum that is an awesome trilogy).

If you want them to be gluten free then you will need to track down some gluten free oats. Oats are naturally gluten free but commonly gluten-tainted from being processed.

Adapted from Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies over at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

1 cup rolled oats

10-15 dates, pitted

1 cup nut butter ( I used peanut butter)

2 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp water

5 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used honey but that makes them not vegan)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup raw vegan chocolate, chopped

Blend the oats in a food processor until coarsely ground.

Add in all other ingredients (except for the chocolate) and pulse until the mixture starts sticking together in a dough.

Pinch the mixture between your fingers, if it sticks together easily it is done, if it is crumbly add more liquid sweetener 1 tbsp at a time and pulse until it does stick together.

Tip the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir through the chocolate.

Roll tablespoon sized balls (or press into a tablespoon measure and slide the formed cookie out like I did) and place on a tray lined with baking paper, chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Slice (No Bake, Gluten Free)

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The recipe that I adapted this from required the peanut mixture to be rolled into bite sized balls but I got about four done before I threw in the towel. I decided to improvise by turning it into a slice but it looked a little naked once I pressed it into the slice tin, so on went the chocolate topping. And you know what? They accidently taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except that they have more texture (which I like) and there is no sugary centre that sets my teeth on edge (which I love). This can be made vegan by using agave instead of honey and vegan chocolate for the topping. I have whipped this up a few times now and it is so quick and easy but big impact flavour-wise. You would get serious brownie points if you gave this to any chocolate-peanut-butter-lovers.

Peanut Butter Slice (No Bake, Gluten Free)

Adapted from Peanut Butter Bites over at Sprouted Kitchen.

1 cup almonds

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1/2 cup peanut butter

2-3 tbsp honey (or any kind of liquid sweetener)

big pinch of salt

1/2 cup dark choc chips

2 tbsp coconut oil

Line a slice tin with baking paper.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they become a rough meal.

Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, peanut butter, honey and salt, pulsing until it reaches an even consistency and sticks together when you pinch it (if it doesn’t, keep adding honey 1 tablespoon at a time and pulsing until it does).

Press the mixture evenly and firmly into the prepared slice tin.

Gently melt the chocolate and coconut oil together ( I use the microwave) then spread evenly on top of the peanut butter mixture.

Chill in the fridge until the chocolate is set then cut into small pieces.

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

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A savoury recipe? Whaaaaaaaaaat. Don’t worry, I’m not ill, I just had a bunch of zucchini’s to use up. As soon as these bites were cool enough I tried one, then another one, then just one more to be completely sure that they were DELICIOUS. These would be great for picnics, lunchboxes and as a savoury snack in general. You can flavour them any way that you like, just make sure you don’t add anything with too much moisture. I have dreams of doing a feta and mint version, how rad would that be?

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

Adapted from Baked Cheesy Zucchini Bites over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

3 cups grated zucchini, packed (about 3 medium zucchini’s)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 tsp garlic powder

6 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 C and line a large baking tray with baking paper, spray it lightly with oil.

Place the zucchini in a kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible (do this over the sink).

Mix together the zucchini with all of the other ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and slightly flatten them using your hands.

Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the edges start to brown (this depends a lot on your oven).

Allow to cool on the tray, eat warm or at room temperature.

Almond Brownies (Gluten Free)

almondbrownie

New favourite brownie recipe (you can have more than one favourite, right?). Super easy but makes the moist-est, fudgiest brownies in the known universe. They’re like eating brownie batter but this way it’s socially acceptable. It just takes one saucepan and minimal elbow grease. If you don’t need them to be gluten free then just replace the almond meal with plain flour.

Almond Brownies (Gluten Free)

Adapted from Sarah’s Cocoa Hazelnut Brownies over at The Sugarhit.

150g butter

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fine salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup almond meal

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160 C and line an 8 X 8 baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on low heat then mix in the sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt, allow to cool for 5 minutes off the heat.

Beat in the eggs and almond meal then fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer to the prepared baking tin and spread evenly with a spatula, sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, allow to chill completely before cutting into squares.