We’re preparing for the silly season by making some homemade gifts for loved ones this Christmas.
I have teamed up with Countdown to use their own-brand products to make share my legendary walnut tarts. We crack these out every year, and they go down a treat!
They are so easy to make, I’ve used walnuts but you can use any nuts you like walnuts, pecans, cashews oh the options are endless.
The best thing about these is they aren’t just a crowd favourite, they make a perfect gift. Get creative with cellophane, pop them in a fancy festive dish and if you’re running short of time (which let’s face it who’s not?) you can make ‘em ahead of time and freeze them #xmashack
This recipe make roughly 24 mini tarts.
I always double the recipe and make them till I’m out of filling 60+ tarts. A big ol’ bag of walnuts also means you won’t run out!!
60 gm butter
1 free range egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups of walnuts (or nuts of choice)
2 packets of sweet shortcrust pastry (you can also use the sheets – I find rolling them out makes them go further!)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Melt butter in a saucepan.
Cool slightly and add egg, sugar and vanilla.
Roll out pastry and cut to the size of your tart pan.
Lightly grease pan.
Fill pan with pastry and add a walnut.
Add filling until ¾ full – don’t overfill.
Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden.
Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.
Countdown are rolling out the carpet so to speak. You will be pleased to know that Countdown are making the switch so their Pork is 100% free farmed.
What exactly does this mean to us as consumers?
Patoa farms have been independently assessed by the SPCA to certify them to be free farmed.
It means no crates, no stalls and the piggies are bred outdoors in the North Canterbury air. Local farms and NZ pigs. Countdown is committed to supporting and sustaining local produce here in Aotearoa.
100% free farmed pork is now available to all kiwis at no extra cost.
Higher welfare is ALWAYS the best option and Countdown is the only supermarket retailer in NZ that is 100% free farmed pork.
Now pork for me has always been one of those meats that gives me the heebee jeebees. Not because I don’t like it it’s because I am always terrified I am going to undercook or overcook it.
Countdown has given me the challenge to create a delicious and easy family friendly meal cooking with their 100% free farmed pork loin.
Moroccan pork loin with spring vegetable couscous salad.
600 gm Pork loin
2 tbsp Moroccan paste ( I used me ol’ fav Pepper & Me )
Salt and Pepper
Coat pork loin in moroccan paste.
Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
Score the pork fat.
Massage in a little oil and salt and pepper.
Reduce oven temp to 180 degrees or 160 degrees if using fan bake.
Cook for 50-60 mins.
Pork should be tender and slightly pink in the middle.
At 60 minutes remove the fat and crank the over up to max.
Cover the pork loin with tinfoil and rest for 15 mins.
On the tray lay out the cracking and cook for 10 mins or until it’s crispy and golden.
Slice the pork and the crackling.
Reserve the pork juices.
1 x Bunch of asparagus
1 x Eggplant
2 x Courgettes
1 cup Couscous
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper
Slice and grill the courgette and eggplant.
Half and grill the asparagus.
Roast the tomatoes in a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper for 10-15 mins.
“Cook” couscous as per packet instructions.
Combine the veges and couscous.
In a separate bowl add pork juices, vinegar, mustard and sugar.
Season with salt and pepper if required.
Dress salad with the dressing.
Serve the pork loin slices with the salad.
A wise person once said “humanity runs on coffee”.
They were not wrong.
Sunbeam sent our family the new Sunbeam Barista Max Espresso Machine with Integrated Grinder to try.
Oh and did we try!!
This bad boy is the newest kid on the coffee block for Sunbeam.
This coffee machine retails for $699.00.
This machine is really a one stop coffee shop. It’s got a built in grinder which can be tailored to your very own grinding needs. Pop the cafe head into the tap and go cradle, push down and your grinds fall directly into the head. Tamp down and select from single or double shot. It really doesn’t much easier than that. Head to the right and get your foam on. The powerful steam wand heats milk in a jiffy.
Now all this is easy once you get the hang of it.
Luke took it upon himself to watch a few YouTube videos on the techniques of the barista. So we all know now that he is an expert!!
I will put it out there …… he makes coffee 100% better than me now!!
We had a few teething problems – but only because we were too scared we would burn the milk. So after a few lukewarm lattes we nailed the milk shenanigans and now we have a perfect cuppa joe.
This is a good looking machine that deserves a place on the kitchen counter. It’s not big and bulky so it doesn’t dominate the bench. Easy to wipe down and clean.
This really is a great machine. Easy to use and easy to clean. Oh and most importantly is makes a bloody good coffee.
Because we don’t get enough of a coffee hit with a morning mocha I tried to make a delicious breakfast alternative to boring ol’ french toast.
I give you my friends …….
Tiramisu French Toast
½ cup milk
1/3 cup espresso
1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Large sourdough loaf – cut into thick slices
1 tsp Pepper & Me Baker’s Grind
Add milk, eggs, espresso, vanilla, cocoa powder, Baker’s Grind and half the mascarpone in a food processor until well combined.
Add the sliced bread in a large dish. Pour over milk mixture. Set aside, turning halfway, for 20 minutes to soak.
In a fry pan add a knob of butter and a dash of oil melt over medium heat. Cook bread, in 3 batches, turning, for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Repeat with the remaining butter and bread, wiping the pan clean with paper towel between batches.
Serve layered bread on a plate with the leftover mascarpone between the slices. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with berries if wanted.
If your looking for a coffee machine that is easy to use, easy to clean and looks great in your kitchen checkout the Sunbeam Barista Max Espresso Machine with Integrated Grinder.
You shan’t be disappointed.
Now team you all know we have been making small changes as a family in our plastic bag use.
It’s not been hard but it definitely makes you reassess your plastic.
For us by getting our online groceries packed in boxes our plastic bag use has decreased to almost zero!
BUT we were still getting some of our fruit and veges packed in plastic fruit and vege bags.
So it got me thinking …. What can we do to stop this?
Here is where Munch Reusable Produce Bags come in.
Munch have packs of produce bags which firstly are very deceptive. These stretchy, colourful and New Zealand made bags can hold up to 2kg of produce (perfect for the potatoes). The airflow can circulate around your fruit and veges because of the perforated fabric. Perfect for stopping the potatoes and onions sweating and getting stinky!!
Each bag comes with a bungee like drawstring which once pulled keeps your bits in and not rolling around the bottom of your trolley or fridge.
In the Munch pack you get a set of 3 bags (2 small and 1 large).
The large is perfect for the large veges like potatoes, kumara or onions.
The smaller bags were perfect for literally EVERYTHING else!!
This set retails for $19.99.
They are easy to use at the self service checkouts too and don’t cause the virtual shop assistant to have a moment with your oranges!!
Munch Reusable Produce Bags will be well used in this whare and I am so happy that I can keep reducing our plastic use as a whanau.
By having 2 sets of these we can drop our produce bags and shopping bags off at our local supermarket and when the online shopping is done we can have our shopping packed almost plastic free!!
Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker
Let’s face it we are all time poor.
If we want to maximise our time away from the kitchen I am all for that. We just need to think smart. But let’s not be martyrs we need a little help.
We are all about maximum family time.
A time for being together.
For our whanau sitting down at the end of each day and having dinner is probably the only time during our hectic schedule where we all stop and see how everyone is doing.
By having less time in the kitchen and more time together as a family we are winning right?
Here is where Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker comes to the party.
The new Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker is a one stop shop.
Don’t have 8 hours to cook that stew?
Use the pressure cooker function.
Done in 1 hour.
At work for the day but need dinner done when you get home?
Use the slow cooker function.
Need to brown off your meat before slow cooking?
Use the brown/saute function.
What’s even better is you do it all in the one pan.
We all hate extra pots and pans to wash.
There is literally nothing this bad boy can’t do.
We… I say we it’s actually Miss Teddie who is into naming all household equipment and furniture has christened our Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker ….. Carl.
Carl can do many things other standard crock pots can’t do.
He can steam (perfect for steamed puds), he can keep things warm (for when kids are home at different times), he is a rice cooker AND he is a yoghurt maker!!
Crockpot gave me the challenge to come up with a great winter warmer recipe using their new Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi Cooker or as we call him Carl.
Mexican Beef with Creamy Polenta.
Serves 4 (or 3 adults and 2 small people)
1kg beef (chuck or stewing steak)
4 tablespoons Pepper & Me Mexellent paste (or any other mexican recipe base paste)
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can water
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1 cup of polenta (quick cook)
3 cups cold water
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup parmesan grated.
Cut beef into 2 cm cubes and season with salt and pepper. Using the BROWN/SAUTE feature brown the meat in batches. Once all the meat is browned add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the Mexellent (or what you are using) paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes and water.
If you are wanting to add other vegetables you can add them here.
Switch to the SLOW COOK function and slow cook for 6-8 hours OR
Switch to the PRESSURE COOK function and cook for 1.5 hours.
Bring the water to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Use a wire balloon whisk to stir the water. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the water (whisking ensures the polenta is dispersed through the liquid as quickly as possible). Don’t add the polenta too quickly or it will turn lumpy.
Reduce heat to low. BE CAREFUL IT CAN SPIT AT YOU AND BURN!! Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft.
Add cream, butter and parmesan mix with a wooden spoon until melted and season to taste.
Chinese style Glazed Pork Belly with Fry Bread BaoThis is a fun kiwi twist on the traditional Chinese dish.Prep Time 20 minutesCook Time 1 hour 30 minutesTotal Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Chinese Glazed Pork Belly
- 1kg pork belly chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves whole
- 2 spring onions chopped in half
- 1 chilli whole
- 1 litre water
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 6 tbsp light soy sauce
- 6 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 6 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
- 1 star annise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 500 ml water
Fry Bread Bao
- 1 tbsp yeast I use the granules
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 4 cups plain flour you will need extra for dusting bench
- 2 tbsp oil
- oil for frying
Chinese glazed Pork Belly
Chop your pork belly into 1 inch pieces.
Bring the 1 litre of water to the boil with garlic, chilli and spring onion.
Add pork and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Remove and drain on a paper towel lined bowl.
In another pan (or use the same one - without the water!) add oil and brown pork on high until golden brown. Be warned it will spit and splatter. Be careful.
Once the pork is brown add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is melted and coating the pork - reduce to low.
Add the soy sauces, rice wine and spices cook until the sauce is reduced by about half.
Add the 250ml water cover with a lid and cook for at least 45mins. Check every 10 minutes if it's looking dry add a little more water.
When the 45 mins is up check the sauce. If it is still runny (you want a thick glossy sauce) remove the lid and cook further until sauce is where you want it.
Fry Bread Bao
Add sugar, yeast and warm water together stir and set aside for 5-10 mins to bubble.
In a bowl add flour, oil and yeast mixture.
Set aside for 30-40 mins to rise.
Once risen the texture should be too wet to handle.
Dust bench with flour and flatten out.
Cut into squares or circles (however big you want them and whatever shape floats your boat)
In a shallow pan or electric fry pan add 4-5 inches of canola or rice bran oil.
You don't want the oil too hot or your fry bread will burn on the outside and still be raw in the middle. Test a piece.
Dust off flour and fry on each side until golden.
Drain on a paper towel.
Serve with mung bean sprouts and kewpie mayonaise.
If you don't have star annise or cinnamon just leave it out.
It's REALLY important to use both the dark and light soy for flavour and colour of the dish.
Can also be served with steamed rice and green onions.