Creamy Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

Lately my eldest son has been so busy with school activities that when he gets home in the afternoon he’s absolutely famished. I buy Greek yogurt in the huge Costco size tubs and we haven’t been finishing them off before it goes bad so I’ve been menu planning this week around using it all up. That’s when I remembered the first ever online recipe that I tried that really, isn’t much of a recipe at all. And it takes care of both the above problems.

I love PopSugar’s website and I especially love their fitness and food sections. This creamy peanut butter fruit dip has been in our lives for 5 years now and every time I make it the kids are fighting over who gets to lick the bowl clean. And it is stupidly simple. All that you need to do is mix together some Greek yogurt, peanut butter, sweetener (I swap the maple syrup for honey cos peanut butter and honey belong together, hello!)  and a pinch of cinnamon. Then you just get dipping with whatever fruit you want, today we had apples, bananas and mandarins, but really any fruit goes well with this dip.

And the best part of this is – it’s a healthy, protein packed, low fat, low sugar snack that isn’t processed prepackaged salty junk food that doesn’t fill you up but keeps you craving more. I can’t believe I’d forgotten this great recipe!


Appetites: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes and book review

This right here is a heart attack on a plate…so bad for you, but so good you don’t care!

When I saw Anthony’s description of the meatloaves in his life, from his mom’s, to school cafeteria, to TV dinners, I knew this was going to be something special and could not wait to try it. It does take a lot longer than my go to meatloaf recipe, so I’d call this more of a labor of love than your average midweek family meal.

He starts off by cooking some chopped onions and celery with some herbs and then mixing that with some minced meats, eggs, bread crumbs and seasoning. This gets packed into a loaf pan and covered with foil and baked for an hour before the foil is removed and tomato paste is brushed over the top and it continues to bake until it reaches the appropriate temperature.

Meanwhile you make a mushroom gravy and the accompanying mashed potatoes. The gravy is simply enough – cooking some chopped shallots and mushrooms and mixing in a roux made from butter and flour then adding in stock and cream and seasoning. It is the most amazing mushroom gravy and I am definitely going to be using this again!

The Robuchon style mashed potatoes is where things really get interesting. Anthony obviously loved Joel Robuchon’s mashed potatoes so much as to try to recreate them on his own which he did by adding an obscene amount of butter and heavy cream. Í’m not gonna lie, this was by far the nicest mashed potato recipe we’ve ever had, but there is no way we are eating this on a regular basis or making it our go to recipe. There was 450g of butter for 1 kg of potatoes used!

While the meal mightn’t look the most appetizing it really was delicious. I personally disliked the tomato paste topping on the meatloaf. The tomato paste taste doesn’t really cook off and so it becomes a bit overpowering. I’d probably add tomato sauce instead. The other take away I had from this recipe was that I wasn’t burping it for the rest of the evening like I normally do with our meatloaf. Thinking this was because I precooked the onions, but it’s really hard to know.

It is with a heavy heart that Food52 Cookbook Club added Anthony Bourdain’s books to the list for June. I’m really glad I had quick access to Appetites through our local library and that I had a chance to pay tribute to him through our cooking this month. While I’ve only had the chance to scratch the surface of this book, it has already won us over with the best Egg & Bacon Rolls ever. We have seriously made them 4 times already since discovering the recipe. And there is so much more I want to try.

I will say that for some reason I was not prepared for the rough language in the book. I know he would swear, but I thought this was going to be more like Gordon Ramsay’s books which don’t show signs of his penchant for swearing at all. My 12 year old thought it was most hilarious when he saw the “F” word in big bold writing as I was looking through the cookbook. Never mind that, I just read it away from the 6 year old who is absolutely fascinated with that language atm.

RIP Anthony. Thank you for sharing your love of food and culture with the world. You certainly left your mark on us all.

To see my other two posts on Appetites, click on the links below:

Throwback Thursday: Croque Madame from My Paris Kitchen

Throwback Thursday to one of my favorite cookbooks, My Paris Kitchen, which Food52 Cookbook Club covered in July last year and one of my favorite sandwiches, the famous Croque Madame! This thing is like a grilled cheese sandwich on steroids, and it is worth every extra cent and second that is put into it compared to your average grilled cheese.

You start off with some really good quality country style bread, which you spread with a bechamel sauce that you’ve made and then you layer on prosciutto and grated Comte or Gruyere cheese. You sandwich it together and butter the outsides before toasting it in a nonstick frypan. After the underside has toasted, you flip it over and put some more grated cheese on top so it becomes nice and melty. In another frypan, cook a sunny side up egg to place on top of the sandwich, season with salt and pepper and serve.

One of my favorite quick meals!

Tessa Huff’s Milk and Cookies Cake

Our youngest son turned THREE this month. Where has the time gone?! I knew I wanted his birthday cake to be something super special and we looked at lots of kids cakes together on Pinterest at bedtime to see which he liked the best. And since he loves Sesame Street, this Cookie Monster cake was the winner.

But the look of the cake is only one aspect of a good birthday cake – it has to taste incredible. And so trying to work out the flavors ends up taking a lot longer. Until I remembered that there was Tessa Huff’s Milk and Cookies cake that if we made a few small adjustments to, could easily be adapted to look like Cookie Monster. I thoroughly enjoyed sending people the recipe because her cake looks NOTHING like our Cookie Monster cake. But they truly are the same.

The cake is a basic white cake with a whipped vanilla frosting and a cookie dough filling which is to die for. I spent over an hour piping melted chocolate chips into a mini version because I wanted the texture of the chocolate chips in the filling to be just right. I am super pleased with the result.

To Cookie Monster it, I simply added blue food coloring to the frosting, found some packaged miniature Oreos and chocolate chip cookies to line the bottom, made the chocolate drip from another Tessa Huff cake recipe, and constructed the eyes with halved full size Oreos, brown M&Ms, 2 wooden skewers and some melted chocolate.

The birthday boy was very pleased with his Cookie Monster cake and I made sure he had a nice helping of “brown and white” ice creams to eat it with.

Four birthday cakes down for the year, two more to go!

Golden: Burekas and book review

It was really hard to decide what our third bake from Golden would be. Sweet? Savory? Pastry, cake, bread, or jam? Then I saw these bad boys, realized they were vegetarian and similar to a sausage roll and knew that these would definitely make the cut!

Bureka dough is a weird concoction which includes your normal butter, flour, salt, baking powder with the addition of cream and cream cheese and egg. This is mixed in a stand mixer or food processor until it forms a ball, then shaped into a disc and refrigerated for an hour. It makes twice the amount you need for any of the filling recipes, but since we were having it for dinner we made the full amount and tried two different fillings.

For the fillings we made the burnt eggplant filling (which contains cooked eggplant, garlic, parsley, feta, Parmesan and egg) and potato and oregano (which contains baked potato, oregano, sour cream, Parmesan, feta and egg). You roll the dough into a rectangle and the cut the dough into 6 inch squares, 8 for each filling. You divide the filling onto the squares and then fold them into triangles for the eggplant and rectangles for the potato. You pinch the ends together, brush with eggwash and then put sesame seeds on the eggplant version and poppy seeds on the potato version. Bake for 25 minutes and get ready to experience one of the most comforting foods on the planet!

Seriously, these are like cheesy buttery pockets of deliciousness. I bought a BBQ chicken in case there wasn’t enough food to qualify as dinner but we were plenty full from eating one of each of these. My older two are looking forward to having some more for lunch tomorrow, and the younger two, well they ate some BBQ chicken.

Golden has been a delightful book to explore – the cheesecake was divine, I’ve been itching for an opportunity to make the vegan date & ginger loaf again and I’m seeing so many people try the various jam recipes in the Facebook group that it’s making me super jealous that it’s the middle of winter here. I’m looking forward to trying some of the more sophisticated looking desserts in the book such as the tahini sandwich cookies and the bleeding hearts. I predict that this book is going to quickly become one of my absolute favorites and will be featured on here again and again as I work my way through it. Definitely one to add to your bookshelf!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from Golden this month, click on the links below:

Appetites: Macaroni and Cheese

We had a stack of leftover pulled pork from Aaron’s birthday party this week so I thought I’d throw together an American bbq dinner of sorts with the leftovers as a quick midweek meal. We had the pork and the coleslaw, so to it I added a batch of cornbread and Anthony Bourdain’s macaroni & cheese from his book, Appetites.

It was really nice, albeit a bit different from my usual macaroni & cheese, though the method is virtually the same. It had an extra 2 cups of milk and 8 oz of cheese! The seasonings were familiar, cayenne and mustard (I used paprika instead of cayenne) and instead of just using cheddar like I normally would, it contained 4 different cheeses – mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere (I substituted monterey jack for the Gruyere because that’s what I had on hand).

The feedback on his version of macaroni & cheese was mixed. The younger two refused to eat it (I think the Parmesan on top was too strong a flavor) but the rest of us thought it was great. Will I change my recipe and use this one instead from now on? Nah. I am open to seeing if there is a better recipe out there, but this one ain’t it. But it was quite close and it was creamy and delicious!

Throwback Thursday: Black Forest Torte from Classic German Baking

Aaron is predictable when it comes to birthday cakes. Black Forest Cake. Same cake, every year. For the longest time I refused to make them because I thought the ingredients would cost more than just buying the cake at the shops. Until I found Luisa Weiss’s recipe in Classic German Baking when Food52 Baking Club was going through it back in June 2017 and saw just how easy it was. So now, when his birthday rolls around, I know exactly what I’m making.

The recipe is actually quite straight forward. It’s a chocolate sponge cake, reminiscent of a proper English sponge, with lots of eggs in the batter. You start off by whisking egg whites with salt and sugar and then when it becomes nice and frothy you beat in the egg yolks and then fold in the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa and cornflour. You put this into a 9 inch cake pan and bake it for 25 minutes.

And now for the razzle dazzle – the cherries are a jar of pitted sour cherries that you heat in saucepan with some cornflour to thicken the juice into more of a cherry pie filling. You need to whip some cream with a bit of sugar to ice the cake, and I bought a lot of chocolate flakes that I crumbled apart to cover the cake.

To assemble you cut the cake into thirds horizontally and brush eat layer with some kirsch. Then you begin the layering process with cake layer, whipped cream, cherries, cake layer, whipped cream, cherries, cake layer and whipped cream over the entire outside of the cake. Then you simply cover it in the chocolate flake crumbs and add a few reserved cherries to decorate the top.

Don’t tell Aaron but this is one of the easiest cakes I make! And the results are always spectacular. Happy birthday, Ay-ay-ron!

Appetites: Bodega Sandwiches

Food52 Cookbook Club has added two of Anthony Bourdain’s cookbooks to this month’s club choices. This recipe, which Aaron made for dinner tonight, comes from Appetites: A Cookbook.

There’s fewer things that I (and many others) think are necessary for a perfect breakfast than bacon and eggs, and a good bacon and egg roll is worth its weight in gold. Well, maybe not quite, but it’s still a pretty good way to start the day. A good bacon and egg roll is finger food. You have to be able to eat it with your hands. Maybe even while driving.

The trade off here, of course, is that the perfect egg has a runny yolk. A runny yolk is not conducive to finger food, and especially driving. So the best bacon and egg rolls I’ve had have been eaten with a knife and fork, on a plate.

So when Jen showed my Anthony Bourdain’s Bodega Sandwiches and I saw he, rather than frying the eggs, makes more of an omelette, I said – ‘that makes perfect sense!’…omelettes are the perfect way to have non-runny eggs!

Bourdain’s recipe is simple, fast and amazingly delicious…and clean. Cooking bacon is messy with all the fat, but this recipe makes sure you clean the fat up after cooking the bacon. I did this on our flat grill, and then took the sliced hamburger buns and toasted them on the inside in the bacon fat. Then I whisked the eggs together as you would for an omelette and cooked them in the bacon fat and when they were almost cooked, simply laid American cheese slices on top to get all melty. Then it was just a matter of assembling the four ingredient sandwich.

So, if you’re after a quick breakfast (or brunch, or brinner, or anytime!), this recipe will get you one of the nicest bacon and egg rolls I’ve had. We’ll definitely be adding this to the menu! RIP Tony.