Homemade Taco Sauce

Have you noticed we like Mexican inspired foods?  I know, every other recipe here is Tex Mex or something similar.  It's what we eat, so it's what I share.  My daughter loves taco sauce. I'm more of a salsa gal.  But Danielle loves taco sauce. We always seemed to be buying it.  Then we caught on to how easy it is to make it!  

She's the one who makes it now.  Sometimes we cheat and just use some homemade Taco Seasoning.  Danielle likes it pretty mild but you can change up the spices and make it as spicy as you like. 

Homemade Taco Sauce

15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup water, more for desired consistency
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (less if you don't want it spicy)

Mix all together and blend in a blender or food processor. Add water until it is at desired consistency. Cook in saucepan to heat up the flavors.  Taste and season as desired. 

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****Chicken Fiesta Salad

This was probably one of my most favorite salads.  It's not just any ordinary salad.  It's like a flavor explosion in one salad bowl.  Trust me on this one, it's amazing!

It even makes an awesome snack just as a dip with chips!  Seriously tasty eats! 

Chicken Fiesta Salad Recipe

1 cup Chicken Fiesta Recipe
Organic romaine lettuce or any greens
2 tbsp. Guacamole
2 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. Garlic Aioli
2 tbsp. Taco Sauce

Fill bowl up with tasty greens.  Top with remaining ingredients.

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Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Melting fast!
A couple of Christmases ago, my daughter gave me an electric ice cream maker. On sweltering days like today (41 degrees C) it is a godsend.

For dessert tonight I made a very dark, very rich chocolate ice cream.  With ingredients including 70% cocoa dark chocolate, cream and eggs (from our chooks), this ice cream is hardly a dieter's treat.  Yet because it is so rich, one is inclined to eat less, so perhaps it is not quite so naughty after all.

This is a traditional ice cream made from an egg custard.  You could adapt the recipe to make vanilla ice cream by eliminating the chocolate and adding a crushed vanilla pod to the milk and cream prior to heating.

Please note: this dessert needs to be planned ahead because the chocolate custard must chill fully before being churned in an ice cream maker.  I recommend preparing the custard the day before churning, if possible. Also, depending on your ice cream maker, you may also need to freeze the metal bowl ahead of time.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream 

1 Cup (250 ml) milk
1 Cup (250 ml) cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa, sifted
150 melted dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa chocolate)

  1. Whisk eggs, sugar and sifted cocoa together until well combined.  
  2. Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan and heat to scalding point (very hot to the touch but not quite boiling).  
  3. Pour milk mixture into egg mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly.  
  4. Return mixture to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.  It is important not to let the custard boil as the eggs will curdle.
  5. Gently stir in the melted chocolate.
  6. Pour the finished chocolate custard into a bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled.
  7. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  
  8. If you don't have an electric ice cream maker, freeze the chocolate custard in a metal cake tin until nearly frozen, then transfer the custard into a bowl and beat with electric beaters until smooth.  Freeze again until firm. 
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Cooking with the Tadka Girls- Pasta in lemon pepper sauce!

Few weeks or maybe a month ago, I read a blog post by a friend in which she had mentioned this book "Around The World With The Tadka Girls [Ruchira Ramanujam, Ranjini Rao]".We spoke about the book to a point where she mentioned it was a good book to have, not only were the recipes good, they were easy to make and the ingredients were all simple ones [most of which we would have around the kitchen]

Two weeks ago,I was at a bookstore, when I called this friend asking about the title of the book. Another friend who was with me exclaimed on seeing the book in my hand. We decided to buy a copy and share the book! 

Day before, when I was wondering what to make for dinner, I decided to refer the book. Spotted a Fettucine and prawns recipe, read through it and went ahead to tweak the recipe a bit [since am a vegetarian, i chose to replace prawns with vegetables].. It turned out beautiful, took less than 15mins to cook and I loved the tangy peppery flavours.

The Recipe!

Farfalle pasta- 1 cup
Onion- 1
Garlic- 3 pods
Thyme/mixed herbs- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Black pepper- 2 tsp
Oil- as much as required
Butter- 1 small cube
Water- enough to boil the pasta in
Vegetables- mushroom, baby corn, carrots and capsicum [green, yellow & red]
Lemon/lime juice- 1.5 tsp
Lemon/lime rind/peel- 1 tsp

In a pot, add water, salt and oil- add the pasta and allow it to cook. I added the baby corn to this as it takes a while to cook.Strain and keep aside. Dont throw away all the water, keep 1/2 cup aside. 

In another pan, add the butter and oil, saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes. 
Add the chopped vegetables and saute till they cook
Now, add the salt, black pepper and herbs
Once the vegetables are well done, toss in the cooked pasta and mix well.
Squeeze in the lime juice and add the lime ride/peel[either grate it or chip finely]
Add 2 tbsp of pasta boiled water and turn off heat when all come together.

Serve hot!

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****Breakfast Nachos

This pile of supreme awesomeness was my breakfast. Oh yea.  I love breakfast burritos.  This is the same taste as a burrito but better with a crunch! 

Keeping this meat free I used Chipotle Beans on it.  This gives it a wonderful smokey flavor that is great with the eggs.  I also used our homemade taco sauce.  So much better than the bottled stuff!  I wish I had my Guacamole or Avocado Aioli in the fridge but I was out. Hubs bought some 100 calorie packs of guac so I just used that. Not as good as mine but it worked!  

Breakfast Nachos

Tortilla chips, couple of handfuls
2 eggs
1/3 cup Chipotle Beans
2 tbsp. Taco Sauce
Grated cheese for the top, I used colby jack
Guacamole or Avocado Aioli, optional for the top

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17th Birthday Dessert Night


For her 17th birthday my daughter requested a dessert night for herself and around ten of her best friends.

I have rarely enjoyed organising a party so much, largely due to the active involvement and assistance of my beautiful daughter.  Em had very clear ideas about the look of the party and the food to be served, and we worked together to bring her ideas to life.

Rather than a one or two-coloured palette Em wanted 'rainbow colours'.  After visiting several homewares stores for ideas we discovered the cloth napkins below at Bed, Bath N' Table, which Em immediately felt were perfect.  The bright pastel colour scheme was continued with colourful balloons and streamers and even multi-coloured cachous on the cupcakes. The table was set with a pale lemon tablecloth, white plates, dessert spoons, the pretty napkins and real glassware.  Colourful solar lights lined the garden beds and  a string of coloured light bulbs shone overhead.

The menu of dessert finger food we prepared included:
  • white and dark chocolate-dipped strawberries
  • vanilla cupcakes with piped pink buttercream icing (you can find the buttercream recipe here; we added a few drops of cochineal to the basic recipe) and a sprinkle of multi-coloured cachous
  • little chocolate eclairs filled with chantilly cream and iced with dark chocolate
  • little lemon meringue tarts filled with home-made lemon curd
  • tiny melting moments
  • chocolate brownies
  • hot chocolate with marshmallows
We had a busy day cooking and getting the house ready, but the enjoyment of the girls who attended (and especially the birthday girl) made all the effort worthwhile.

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Mounds Bars

Mounds or Almond Joy?  

Hubs likes dark chocolate so he prefers Mounds. I love nuts so I prefer Almond Joy. 

These are kinda the best of both worlds. No almonds but there are ground pecans in there.  Hiding, but they are in there. 

Smothered in dark chocolate.  Yup, best of both worlds.  

Dark chocolate AND nuts. 

Seriously good stuff. They don't last long, trust me. 

Mounds Bars Recipe

3 cups finely chopped pecans
1 lb. sweetened coconut
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Dark chocolate chips, about 12 oz.

Mix everything in a big bowl.  Form into logs, I got 4 logs. Wrap the coconut logs in wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.  These actually last in the freezer for a long time if you happen to only make 3 logs worth of Mounds Bars and forget about the 4th one for about 6 months and then open the freezer to a nice surprise.  Ahem. 

Melt dark chocolate. Cut coconut logs into chunks, not to thin.  They are pretty easy to cut with a big knife. Dip the coconut chunks into the chocolate until coated, place on wax or parchment paper.  We used some handy dandy plastic dipping tools but a couple of forks work just fine. Cool completely and devour.  

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