First of all, I would like to apologise for the lack of new posts per say on the blog. As you guys may know, I run Cupcake Couture Lagos and with the holidays here, the bakery is in over drive and there really isn't a moment to think, let alone blog. However, it will back to the frantic pace of the blog in the new year..
In the interim, my new video on the YouTube channel shows how to make an Ofada rice salad that is a wonderful and delicious alternative to traditional side dishes on Christmas Day.
This week's episode on the YouTube channel is all about making sweet candy popcorn.
With the holiday season in over drive, there will be lots of guests popping around, family time watching movies or playing games. This recipe is perfect for serving as a snack. You can make a lot of this and bag in portions and store in the fridge - ready to be popped out when anyone is peckish.
My green thumb project is going so very well. Look what I harvested from my little garden....
Peppers. 2 kinds of peppers. Long green chilies and scotch bonnet peppers. The scotch bonnet peppers are at different stages of the ripening process and this means different flavor and heat profiles. After picking this bowl full, I knew I wanted to blend some and add to some ginger and garlic for a condiment blend for the freezer.
I also wanted to try my hand at making my own hot sauce. Back in the day, hot sauce was red or green and vinegary. Usually found in the US with the most popular brands being Tabasco and Franks. People use hot sauce to add extra oomph to their meals or to coat chicken wings to make buffalo wings et al. While I like heat, I am not a big fan of this overly vinegary hot sauce.
Over the last few years though, an evolution of hot sauce has happened. There are now full of flavor varieties with fruit, or sweet versions or with varying levels of heat using 'handle with gloves only' peppers like the ghost pepper and active hot head movements. There are artisan companies making excellent products and selling at farmers markets or specialty stores giving the bigger companies a run for their money.
I decided to use some of my precious stash in my own recipe - after reading countless recipes online, I took some elements for a starter recipe that I hope will result in me making different kinds using produce from my garden.
In a pot, I rough chopped 1 onion, added 5 green scotch bonnet peppers, 2 red scotch bonnet peppers, 3 yellow scotch bonnet peppers, 10 long green chilies, a tablespoon of blended garlic and 2 cups of water and set on high heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, everything should be getting nice and soft. I added 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Stirred everything together and boiled for another 10 minutes.
I turned the heat off and let everything cool down. Once cool, I added the veggies to a blender and just a bit of the liquid leftover from the boiling process and blitz till smooth. I added a little bit more of the liquid to thin out the mix. Then I transferred to a handy squeeze bottle to be used over everything. Can I just say how delicious this hot sauce is. Its hot but not overwhelmingly so since its the red peppers that pack the most heat and I didn't use a lot of them. The yellow peppers and the long green chilies have a smoky flavor and the addition of the vinegar and sugar balance the flavors out and add a subtle sweetness to the sauce. Delicious.
Using the sauce on grilled chicken and meats - amazing. Even added to some salad dressing for a super salad - fab. I took it a step further by using on something that has been haunting me for months. A friend asked me what else avocados could be used for and I had a few ideas but with the holidays coming and the bakery in overdrive, deadlines looming et al, this blog and recipe testing have suffered. Last Sunday after a visit to my neighborhood farmer's market, I had a ripe avocado to use.
Cut avocado in half and remove center stone. Place both halves in an oven proof dish. Season the avocado generously with salt. Carefully crack an egg into each cavity of the avocado. Its like God created the avocados for this purpose. Perfect fit. Place in an oven set at 350 degrees and bake till egg gets to your preferred level of doneness. Mine - well gone (10-12 minutes in the oven). Hubby's - jiggly and runny (about 7 minutes in the oven).
Once ready, I drizzled that delicious hot sauce all over the avocado egg cups. Holy moly. We went from oh nice to amazeballs.
Absolutely delicious and a lovely start to a lazy Sunday.
With the holidays just round the corner, there are bound to be tons of guests and I like having different mixed drinks in the fridge to serve - better than store bought soda. This week I show how to make a not too sweet mixed drink with an unexpected ingredient to make your taste buds sing.
I got the funniest email. 'Mr Obi' said he was too lazy to click on link to YouTube videos. He asked why I don't have them on the blog. The part about lazy fingers had me laughing for a good 5 minutes. I get the message. I shall post the videos on the blog going forward.
Compound butters are an excellent way to integrate interesting ingredients into butter and enjoy delicious tasting spread on different foods. All you need is butter at room temperature and whatever add-ins you like. This means that the possibilities are endless. You can have sweet versions with honey or chocolate or pureed fruit. Or savory versions with different fresh herbs or garlic or chilies or even boozy versions with drops of Irish cream or cognac.
Pictured below: Corn muffins and strawberry butter - Compound butter made by adding pureed strawberries to room temperature unsalted butter
Pictured below: Garlic herb toast. Compound butter made by mixing pureed fresh garlic and dried Italian herb blend into salted room temperature butter. Spread butter blend generously on sliced bread and put under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. You can use this blend on dinner rolls or baguettes and serve with pasta
You can make different kinds of butters and store in the fridge until the butter firms up. If you are big on frou frou presentation (lol), put the butter blend on cling film and roll. Keep in fridge till the roll firms up. Slice to serve.
I have set myself a challenge for 2015. One of many. But this one is special because.......I am a notorious plant killer. I simply do not have a green thumb. I have tried to grow pretty flowers and they all died. I tried to grow cactus plants and bamboo things - which are supposed to be únkillable'. Well not in my case. They turned brown and turned moldy. I have tried culinary herbs - with limited success but nothing like the flourishing pictures online.
So I just gave up. However, a few months ago, I decided to revisit this matter. In my mind's eye, I see myself growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables. And herbs and flowers. And going from my garden to my food lab or into a pretty vase in the house. As a former management consultant and strategist, I decided to be methodical about this. I wrote out all the terrible things that happened to the plants and what I did to contribute or not contribute to their demise. And I saw some learning points. I went online and have subscribed to YouTube channels, bookmarked home gardening websites and I am ready.
Come January, I will be starting a greenhouse that I plan to grow culinary herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. My challenge is to try to grow as many things as possible including things that people have sworn will not thrive in Nigeria. I also hope to have good enough harvests - even if its 2 purple carrots at a time that I can challenge myself to use in my food lab. I will document this (mis)adventure on the blog and I honestly cannot wait.
In the interim, I decided to plant scent leaf/efinrin/nchawun/African basil as a test case. I use this herb a lot - in peppersoup, egusi soup, I add to yam porridge, white rice, fried stew and even to lemonade so it made sense to start with this.
Look at it!!!! I am so excited. There is hope for me afterall. Its doing so very well and I think this bodes well for my greenhouse project....
Considering that I have run a boutique bakery - Cupcake Couture Lagos for the past 4 years, it is amazing that there is not a single baking recipe on this blog.
There is no better recipe to break the 'no baking recipe on the blog' jinx than this moist and delicious banana chocolate chip muffin one. And to celebrate, its also giveaway time. Oh yaay.
So - banana bread and its variants are very popular with a lot of people around the world. I make a killer banana bread if I say so myself but I am always on the lookout for recipes that use bananas in baked goods in different ways. I was going through one of my many recipe binders that contains printed and torn out recipes from magazines, the internet etc and I found a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins that seemed easy enough. I tried it and while it was nice, I tweaked the recipe - Uzo style and the result is super moist muffins with undeniable banana flavor that is not too sweet which means the kiddies can enjoy this as well.
To make 12 muffins, you will need:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
57g butter at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk - Please see kitchen tip post on how to make buttermilk at home
3 large very ripe bananas - chopped into small pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
12 cup muffin tin
12 muffin liners
Sieve flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside
In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar for about 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add beaten egg and buttermilk.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix
Add bananas and chocolate chips and fold in gently so as not to turn the bananas to mush
Scoop mixture into muffin liners - filling them 3/4 of the way
Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 4 or 400F for 20 minutes until light brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack until ready to eat
I realize that everyone doesn't have chocolate chips or muffin liners lying around - so I am giving away 12 muffin liners like the ones in this picture and 1 cup of real semi sweet chocolate chips - enough for this recipe to 2 readers. All you have to do is: comment on this post, subscribe to www.youtube.com/uzosfoodlabs and follow on twitter: @uzosfoodlabs. Winners will be picked at random and should be able to pickup their gifts from Lekki 1, Lagos.
I am so chuffed to announce that Uzo's Food Labs will feature on the Konga Nigeria Blog on Mondays and Fridays writing on home and food matters and just having a blast. Please follow and leave your comments and questions.
The good people of Konga put up an introductory post...
I am so excited to announce that the official YouTube channel for Uzo's Food Labs is now live. I look forward to sharing recipes, tips and home projects on the channel with new episodes up every Monday.
The first episode shows how to make a super easy but flavor packed condiment blend.
Please subscribe, leave comments and spread the word.
I am not one to celebrate Fridays or weekends usually. As an entrepreneur, weekends and public holidays really mean nothing to me since I work pretty much round the clock. However, this weekend is so different. I am so glad its the weekend because I have a pretty special Sunday planned and I simply can't wait for Monday because it is the beginning of something very special to me and a possible game changer. I will share details on Sunday....So keep everything crossed for me :-)
Weekends also tire me out more than usual because the hubby makes those days family time. Which is great. But it also means more meals and snacks have to be planned and made than during the week. And sometimes, I just don't want to. I said it. LOL
This simple 4 ingredient wrap is so easy to make, satisfies my boys - big and small and by tweaking 3 of the ingredients, it is transformed into a different palate experience and can be had several times a day.
You will need:
Cream cheese - plain or jazzed up with anything from mixed herbs to spices and even dried fruit
Lettuce - washed thoroughly in vinegar and water mixture and patted dry with a kitchen towel
Deli meat - I used salami
On a flat plate, spread your cream cheese mix on a flour tortilla. Be as liberal as you want or skimp if you want. Place lettuce leaves on tortilla and top with deli meat slices.
Roll and slice and serve
That is how simple it is. I will say it again - I love to play around in my food lab but sometimes, I really am just too exhausted to make elaborate things. This wrap is an example of simple, fast and tasty and of course - pocket friendly.
I would love to hear what variations of this you try :-)
My favorite Nigerian soup in the world is Okro. Plain Okro and fiery hot stew. Followed by íla asepo'. Which is the kind of okro that's mixed with palm oil and all sorts of yumminess and with some pumpkin leaves (ugwu) added. Comfort food at its finest for me.
A close second is Ogbonno soup. With Okro.
Do you see the trend here?
I find that I usually plan to make soups so its a pretty elaborate process for me. Making sure everything is just right. A few weeks ago though, I had a craving for okro and ogbonno soup. The kind of craving that had to be satisfied immediately. I opened my freezer. I had no dried fish. No yellow pepper. 6 okro, or is it okros? Or is it pieces of okro? (hmm). I was not going to be deterred. I forged ahead with my mish mash of ingredients.
I started with some 8 pieces of lamb I had languishing in a Ziploc bag that I had planned to grill. Threw the pieces into a pot. Seasoned with salt, a stock cube, my condiment blend (blended onions, garlic and ginger) , added some water and let the meat boil. I know some people will clutch their pearls in horror seeing the garlic and ginger added here - especially as I will not be straining the stock - clutch said pearls and hold on to your hearts....LOL. The base of any good soup (no matter what kind of cuisine it is from) is stock that should be full of flavor and able to hold up to the ingredients that will be added to it.
Once the lamb was almost cooked through, I added some ground Cameroonian pepper, some locust beans and ground crayfish. Added a dash of palm oil. Some salt after tasting and the ground ogbonno. By this time, the reality of my soup hit me. This would be pretty uninteresting. I grated my okro and set aside and opened the freezer. I found some uziza leaves that I had cut and had leftover from a yam porridge recipe. And some seafood mix - which had shrimps, mussels and octopus. Dare I add to my soup?
Without thinking too hard, I threw the okro, uziza leaves and seafood mix into the pot. Stirred everything well and crossed my fingers.
Oh yumminess. First of all, adding uziza leaves to anything elevates it from ordinary to pretty freaking spectacular. The seafood mix while unexpected just made the soup sexier. I have never had ogbonno mussels or octopus but it worked just fine adding that óbstruction' to the soup that we Nigerians like and wonderful texture too.
The moral of this post: food made in a hurry can be a lot tastier than planned out labored pots. Try introducing the unexpected to regular fare - it might just work.....
A few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a call from the good people of Google Nigeria, requesting to meet with me to discuss an innovative project that they were about to go live with.
I was told about Google House, Nigeria. This concept has been done in France, Germany, the UK and in the United Arab Emirates. A space is taken over by the Google team and converted into a totally cool 'Google House' with several 'rooms'. The idea was to show select invited guests how Google apps made everyday life in these rooms a breeze. I was asked to be a part of this project and give demonstrations in the kitchen as well as show how to make simple but yummy treats that would be tasted by the group. After viewing the other houses online and then having the 'Googlers' in Lagos show me how the Google voice app made life in the kitchen a breeze, I was a convert.
The Google House Nigeria was set up on the 6th floor of Churchgate Tower in Victoria Island, Lagos and was the first in Africa. While whole house was super cool, my favorite room in the house was - say it with me - the kitchen. It was colorful and quirky. A lot like me. -)
It was such a wonderful experience for me. I am a people person and the opportunity to meet people and share my passion of not only cooking and sharing food but also incorporating 'foodie smarts' was one right up my alley.
I had the chance to finally meet the uber cool and fun Chef Eros who is as talented as they come. We talked food and food dreams, shared the kitchen space at the end of the event making little treats for the wrap party, took some goofy pictures and even danced a little bit.
In between demo sessions, I had a chance to be interviewed for a docupiece for The Economist by the very talented Ema Edosio.
All in all, it was a fun 2 days. Even though I couldn't feel my feet a day after, I would do it all over again.
I got tired of the scrawny scotch eggs sold at fast food places and made my dinosaur scotch eggs that I had with a salad for a complete meal. The recipe went out with our last newsletter. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.
Have I said it before? I am not a food Nazi or a food purist. I am not one of those ít has to be homemade or I will surely lose my desire to live' kind of people and I definitely don't look down my nose at people that use convenience foods. If I do that, its probably because my nose is itching or something. Just a little caveat.
I will say though that some convenience foods need something extra- a little oomph to pass muster in my book. A little bit of this and a little bit of that and a can of something can be transformed into deliciousness.
A jar of pretty good medium salsa in my fridge. I get food gifts from friends and this jar of salsa was one of those gifts. A pretty good specialty salsa to be honest. But it lacked a little something for me.
I chopped up some spring onions/scallions - white and green parts, opened a small can of sweet corn and added some ground coriander.
Stir everything together and serve with some corn chips. As simple as 1,2,3 but definitely not your average salsa.
I know I am not the only one that rolls her eyes when a recipes calls for adding precise measurements of sticky ingredients like honey, peanut butter, molasses et al. I have no issue with the ingredients themselves. Shucks - I even steal a taste - some into mixing bowl, some into my mouth.
My issue comes with getting everything out of the spoon or cup into the bowl and then washing up afterwards. Baking is pretty much a science and everything has to be exact so incomplete measurements can change your results. Then I read somewhere that coating your measuring spoon or cup with oil makes the ingredients slide right out. I tried it and I haven't looked back since. The ingredients slide right out and also make washing up a lot easier.
I like to play around with making my own salad dressings. They are so easy to make and once you get the hang of it, you will never look at store bought dressings the same way again. I should do a whole series on salad dressings shouldn't I?
Anyway, after this Sallah break, I had a big bowl of vegetable salad - carrots, pasta, cabbage, spring onions, tomatoes, boiled egg and some lettuce in the fridge courtesy of my friend Amina. I decided to play around with making a light vinaigrette using Wilson's Old Fashioned Lemonade. The way I saw it, that could add just a hint of sweetness and oomph to my dressing. After a few tries, I finally got this super easy and delicious vinaigrette right. It was so good that hubby used it as a dipping sauce with some pieces of warmed up French baguette.
This recipe can be multiplied in and you will need:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Wilson's Old Fashioned Lemonade
1 teaspoon Sriacha hot chilli sauce
Salt to taste
Pour the olive oil, lemonade and hot chilli sauce into a bowl and whisk furiously until well combined
Taste dressing and add salt as needed
You can put this dressing in the fridge but remember to whisk again before serving to make sure all ingredients are combined.
I don't know where this insane idea came from. Okay. Let me see....
I got some low sugar non alcoholic malt drink from a friend who works at the company that makes the stuff. I like the intensity of this drink when it is very cold. It has caramel, nutty undertones and one day I thought I would play mad scientist and see what would happen if I intensified the flavor.
I got a can, emptied it into a sauce pan. Set it on high heat and just watched it. It began to thicken and look like motor oil. Like sludge. I stirred it a bit and tasted it. OMG. OMG. I was in absolute shock. This malt drink tasted like caramel on steroids but with some nuttiness and bitterness to balance it out. I let it reduce some more - total time on heat 25-30 minutes and turned the heat off.
What to do with this black gold? My taste buds were singing. My heart was beating so fast. I kid you not. I instantly rustled up some buttermilk pancakes and drenched them in this sludge. OMG. Then hubby who was as stunned as I was suggested drizzling some over vanilla ice cream.
By the time we were done, I was licking the bowl and he was licking the spoon. Then we both went for the sauce pan and took turns licking that as well. With comments like 'why are you licking your finger twice. Its supposed to be one lick per person'. I kid you not.
This is my secret - well not so secret syrup.
Try at your own risk. I guarantee you will act a fool but in a good way.
The story of this accidental' meal started with an inventory of my home store.
I have been taking inventory of my store which is really a converted room with shelving and different storage solutions that holds everything from supplies for the bakery, to household stuff to dry foods to make room for new stuff coming in. I found a box full of wines and spirits. See, we get bottles of liquor as gifts from people. I don't like to drink wine and hubby is more of a social drinker which means he doesn't drink at home. Every time we get a gift of alcohol, I put it in this box. So this box contained 57 bottles of wines and spirits. I kid you not. I was in shock.
The first thing I did was sort through the bottles. I got all the non-alcoholic stuff and set that aside to be given to the security guards. That still left me with 50 bottles to deal with. Fast. The holidays are in 3 months and of course we will get more bottles of assorted alcohol as gifts. So I have challenged myself to use up this mish mash or red and white wines, whiskey, cognac, champagne et al before then.
The white wine used in my previous post for the Wilson's Pink Lemonade Sangria took care of 1 bottle. 49 to go.
Enter my idea for a red wine marinade for the pork chops in my freezer. I make variations of wine marinades a lot but I figured it was time to create a new version. My plan was to make the boozy pork chops and serve with a sexy rice pilaf and honey glazed carrots. I made the marinade the night before and got the pork chops in there to take on all the flavor overnight.
The problems began when it rained over night and into the morning. That Lagos rain that makes every where dark and keeps you firmly under the covers. By the time I got myself together and came downstairs, it was 1pm. Lunch time and too tired to make my fancy planned meal. It had to be something quick and require no effort.
Fried plantain (dodo) and eggs are a favorite but I wanted to make the meal look special.
That's the back story to this meal and it was a huge hit.
To make a cup and a half of red wine marinade which can be used for pork, beef and goat meat, you will need:
1 cup good quality red wine
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon dry mixed herbs
1 teaspoon salt
I stock cube
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
Add the meat and cover bowl and marinade in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Overnight is best
Preheat oven to Gas mark 4
Transfer the meat to an oven proof pan and bake till meat is done to your taste
During the baking process, baste the meat with the left over marinade every 15 minutes turning over as you do so
To make the egg cups, you will need to have a muffin/cupcake baking tray. Each cavity will hold approximately 1 egg.
Chop into fine pieces, a selection of vegetables. I used red onions and tomatoes.
Crack the eggs over the vegetables and whisk to combine. Add salt to taste
Fill each cavity with the egg mix and bake in an oven at gas mark 4 for 10 minutes or until eggs are cooked through
The eggs will puff up in the oven like a soufflé but will deflate to some degree once you take them out of the oven
These egg cups can be made with any combination of ingredients. Try adding ham and cheese, or spring onions or even a dash of garam masala for a more interesting taste hit.
Sometimes, everyday foods just need a new twist to make them seem more interesting.
This series will be all about using Nigeria's first and only all natural lemonade in different ways with surprising yet totally delicious results.
To kick off the series: When life gives you Wilson's Lemonade make Pink Lemonade Sangria.
Sangrias are great drinks to make that use extra bottles of wine you have lying around. Perfect to go with all kinds of meals and you can make pitchers in advance and keep in your fridge and relax with your guests rather than mixing cocktails to order. The addition of different kinds of fruits in whatever quantities and combinations that you like creates a different taste every time. What's not to love?
This sangria is made using Wilson's Pink Lemonade which has hibiscus flowers added to the original version. What you get is a pretty pink lemonade that is not as tart as the original.
To make enough sangria for 2 tall glasses, you will need:
2 cups Chardonnay
1 300ml bottle of Wilson's Pink Lemonade
1 large apple - cored and sliced
6 large strawberries - sliced
In a jug or pitcher, add all the ingredients. Stir well and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Serve in tall glasses.
I like to make sure some of the fruit gets into each glass so there is a bonus at the bottom of the glass.
Double or triple this recipe to make more Sangria.
If you would like to get your hands on some Wilson's Lemonade, send an email to email@example.com and tell him Uzo sent you :-)
It annoyed me so much to go to stores to get self raising flour for recipes and have to pay more than regular flour for these little bags. After paying more for the umpteenth time, I knew there had to be a more cost effective way. Off to the internet I went. I felt so silly after reading how easy it is to make self raising flour at home.
All you need is to add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to every cup of flour. That's it.
To make life easier for me, I make huge batches of this each time. I would rather measure out flour and baking powder than waste money.
One of my favorite things to do is to mix drinks. Non-alcoholic versions or adult only versions. I think there are so many wonderful things that can come out of a blender or a pitcher if you just let your imagination run wild.
I especially love frozen/slushy type fruity cocktails. They just make me so happy especially when served in interesting glasses. They make me think of vacations, with no cares in the world, not having to drive home....
I will admit that sometimes, cocktails can be over the top sweet for me and I end up diluting with water at restaurants. This mango daiquiri is not that type of cocktail. Its sweet but not cloying and the sweetness is cut by the addition of ginger which also gives the daiquiri a more exotic twist.
To make enough for 2 tall glasses, you will need:
3 ripe mangos
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
A few hours before you want to serve this, peel mangoes, cut into chunks and place in the freezer
In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Mixture should have a slushy like consistency. You can add ice cubes if you would like it thinnner
I have never met anyone that does not like ice cream. Well love. I know a lot of people that try to avoid ice cream for many reasons.
Let me come clean: I keep my home free of ice cream just because once I descend on a tub, the aftermath is not pretty. However, I love setting up ice cream stations for movie days or girl's nights at mine.
All I have to do is keep the ice cream in the freezer and have the accompaniments on the dining table and let people help themselves.
I have droned on and on about my issues with texture. I love crunch and ice cream is a good way for me to satisfy my 'inner crunch desiring monster'. Rather than spending tons of money in stores on imported cookies or chips and things, I would rather spend the money on a premium tub of plain vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Or both. Why not? If you are going to have ice cream, you might as well go all out. No half measures here.
My crunchy toppings of choice are pocket friendly and local.
Chin-Chin - those crunchy fried balls of deliciousness. Good chin-chin can be addictive and seeing as these goodies are fried - they really should be enjoyed sparingly. Theoretically. Put some chin-chin in a Ziploc bag. Get a rolling pin and bash away. Take all your stress away. Bash awayyyyyyyy. Okay, clearly I have some anger management issues. But you get the point. I like to leave some chunks and not make the chin-chin too fine. Pour crumbs into a bowl
Coconut flakes: local, nutty, natural and pocket friendly. A good source of fiber too. So that adds a healthy component to your ice cream station. Although, that might get lost in all the calories here. Who cares? I certainly don't. I am sticking to the fact that I am including fiber to the ice cream station
Cereal: any kind of cereal you like.
Sprinkles: well. sprinkles make everything better in my world
Scoop ice cream into a cup or bowl and add the toppings in any mix and as much as you want. And settle down in front of the TV and watch Big Bang Theory or Under The Dome or TLC....
I have major issues with mushy food and squishy textures.
The thought of all that weirdness in my mouth just grosses me out. Which is why I loathe fruit salad. All that moisture and softness. *shudder*
Since I started my weight loss journey a few years ago, I know all too well that fruits are vital to my success. It gets so boring crunching apples or grapes all the time and while I love blending all the mushy fruits I don't like, sometimes I just want to chew. You know that feeling right?
I decided to play around with ways to make fruit salad different, yummy and not squishy so I can have more fruit in my diet, let the hubby have fruit salad which he loves and let my little man expand his food repertoire.
The addition of crunchy elements makes a world of difference and playing around with plain and flavored yogurt takes fruit salad from blah to give me more'' territory.
To make this interesting fruit salad, you will need
A mix of fruits of your choice. Seeing as budgets must be considered in my book, I use the common, pocket friendly ones: seeded and chopped watermelon and pawpaw (papaya) and peeled pineapple.
Cashew nuts - I love cashew nuts and they don't break the bank. I have used almonds and some expensive macadamia nuts (that I got as a gift) but cashew nuts are still my favorite to use
Toasted coconut flakes - the local type that costs about N200 for a small tub
Plain /greek style yogurt. I use vanilla low fat yogurt sometimes as well
Add all the fruit and nuts in a bowl and stir to combine. Use as little or as much of each ingredient as you prefer
Add the yogurt a little at a time. The yogurt should just coat the fruit and nuts and not become a pool of white stuff at the bottom of the bowl
Vampires beware! You will be incinerated just by reading this post :-)
Anyone that doesn't love garlic will not like this dish. Which is a shame.. Cos the whole world needs to love garlic.
Garlic adds flavor, makes proteins get tender quick and it has health benefits. What's not to love? The smell on the knife and cutting board? Use lemon wedges and some salt afterwards on the utensils used to kill the smell. The smell on your breath? Brush your teeth, chew some minty gum, suck on some breath mints after. My lover won't kiss me after a garlicky meal? There is love in sharing including garlicky breath.
Now that all excuses are handled, on to this meal.
I stumbled on a recipe for 40 clove of garlic chicken a few years ago and I have seen variations of it since then. This is 20 clove version to ease people in gently. Here is something a lot of people don't know. When garlic is cooked in a particular way, the flavor becomes mild and it becomes sweet. One of these methods is to get whole bulbs of garlic, cut the tops off, smear with some oil and put in the oven in a dish and bake it till the garlic gets soft, gooey and brown. Squeeze out the garlic mush and use in marinades or tomato sauces. Amazing stuff happens. I will do a post on that some time.
Another way to get garlic mild and sweet is by using it whole like in this recipe.
I added a dash of cream at the end of cooking this sauce and I love how it ended up. Feel free to do without the cream. This sauce can be served with potatoes, plain rice or plain pasta.
To make enough for 4, you will need:
8 pieces of chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
20 cloves of peeled garlic
2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
I like to use bone-in chicken pieces for most of my recipes because the results are almost always moist. Feel free to use the breast but watch cooking times because they can dry out very quickly
You can find Shaoxing cooking wine and light soy sauce at most well stocked stores
Place the dry chicken pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with the pepper, salt and flour and toss. Make sure all the chicken pieces are evenly coated.
Get a large pan very hot over high heat and add the oil.
When the oil gets very very hot, turn the heat down to low and add the chicken pieces. Brown both sides - about 15 minutes total cooking time
Remove the chicken pieces and drain the pan completely of all the oil
Return chicken to the pan and add the garlic
Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Stir constantly so nothing burns
Add the cooking wine, soy sauce and stock/water
Cover and braise the chicken till it is tender. 20-30 minutes should do it depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Remember that the heat should be turned as low as possible
Once the chicken is tender, turn the heat up and add the frozen vegetables. Stir and cover and cook for another 5 minutes
Add the cream and stir and cook for another 5 minutes - just enough for the vegetables to be cooked through