Superbowl snacks

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I love wings and fries as much as the next person- possibly even more. But if you are looking to make some healthier snacks for game day these are two great options. The edamame hummus is really simple- just pop the ingredients in the food processor and whip it up. The buffalo chicken rolls are a bit more tricky but they are definitely worth it. I almost suggest not making too many because they’re super tasty and if you’re aiming for a healthy treat it’s probably not best to eat like ten of them. They are great for a big group as they’re easy to eat and easy to share.

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Edamame hummus

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/8 cup water plus more if needed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend soy beans, tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add more water if necessary until the consistency is smooth. Place in a small bowl and serve with sliced vegetables such as capsicum or carrots.

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Buffalo Chicken Rolls

Makes 12

Ingredients
12 spring roll wrappers (I found these in the freezer section at Coles)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (1 medium chicken breast)
1/2- 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (I found this at my local IGA)
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cole slaw (dry)
Small bowl of water
Nonstick cooking spray

Blue cheese dressing, for serving

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Lay spring roll wrappers on a clean work surface. In a small bowl, stir chicken* (see note below) and hot sauce until well coated, using more or less sauce depending on your spice preference. The meat should be moist with sauce.

Begin by placing one tablespoon of the cole slaw on the diagonal of the bottom right corner of one of the wrappers. Next, place 2 tablespoons of shredded spicy chicken evenly on top of the slaw. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese crumbles over the chicken. Do not overfill.

To fold: Fold the bottom right corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, with the tip of the corner now pointing to the centre of the spring roll wrapper. Fold in the bottom left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.

Repeat with remaining rolls.

Place the rolls on a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet (or just on a greased cookie sheet) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spritz each roll evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls crisp and turn a light golden brown.

Note: To make the chicken, place 200g of uncooked chicken breast in a small pot and fill with enough water just to cover it. Bring to a boil on your stovetop, reduce the heat slightly, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and let cool before shredding with two forks, pulling against the grain of the meat.

Recipe slightly adapted from Can you stay for dinner?

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Tie dye cupcakes

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The word “groovy” isn’t really heard that much anymore. I can’t really say it’s a shame, it sounds outdated no matter how you use it. That doesn’t mean people like Patrick Monahan from Train will stop using it. Despite the fact that they’ve been around since 1994 they’re still trucking on. Anyone remember “Calling all Angels” and “Drops of Jupiter”? Well, their new annoyingly addictive single “Drive By” is all about a groovy little guy trying to get his girl back by driving around in circles and dancing like a four-year old. I dare you to listen to this song and not dance. But if it still doesn’t get you in the groovy mood, these awesome little tie-die cupcakes might just do the trick.

Tie Dye Cupcakes:

Vanilla cake mix in a box and ingredients for that

4-5 colors of food coloring

Mix up the cake mix until it’s ready. Divide your cake batter into four or five bowls. Add a couple drops of food coloring into each bowl of batter and mix. Add spoonfuls of each color to cupcake liners until the liner is ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes according to the directions on the box of cake.

For the frosting:
From http://sweetapolita.com/2012/03/super-duper-vanilla-or-funfetti-cupcakes/

375grams/13 ounces unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3.5 cups (400g/14oz) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (45mL) milk

1 tablespoon (15mL) pure vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for about 8 minutes on medium speed until the butter becomes very pale and creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. It takes a little while but it’s sooo worth it!

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The Fish Shop

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Being an East Coast girl, when I heard Potts Point had a new restaurant that was claiming to be a Cape Cod/Hamptons style fish shop, I had to go check it out.

I’ve never had better fish and chips than the ones I’ve had in Australia, so a restaurant that was trying to create American fish and chips sounded a little fishy.

But it turned out to be pretty good.

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I’d read a review in the SMH saying the decor and theme had gone a little too far and was even entering the land of tacky.

And not just because there were too many tackle boxes.

Couldn’t help myself.

But when I ventured over to Potts Point to check out the quaint little fish shack, I was pleasantly surprised. The place was packed but very inviting and very friendly. The hostess was honestly one of the nicest I have come across and continually checked up on us while we were waiting in the bar for a table. The place is incredibly decked out with fish and fishing gear and oceany puns galore. Even the bathrooms are labelled “Buoys” and “Gulls.” Ingenious.

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It was very lively inside, the waiters are dressed in pirate-esque striped shirts and the food was delicious.

They’ve got a rotating list of specials each night and from my own experience and everything that I’ve heard, you should usually try at least one of them out.

We opted for the mussels, which were bathed in a delicious white wine sauce with roasted tomatoes, a bit of chilli and topped with a few slices of crusty bread.

For our main we split the Fisherman’s Basket which was very good. Honestly, it doesn’t quite compare to some of the fish and chips I’ve had here, one of my favourite places is a little shack in Perth where it’s wrapped up in the day’s newspaper and you can sit right by the water enjoying the fresh, amazing taste as the oil seeps through the paper and you make a mess of yourself trying to finish every last crumb.

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But it was still very good. The basket came with pieces of blue eyed cod, cuttlefish, oysters and crispy chips. We were full after the two courses but the meals at The Fish Shop aren’t as big as your local chicken shop. The prices are cheap but the portions are small.

The cocktails looked like they were on the tiny side as well so we stayed away from those and had our meal with some crisp sauvignon blanc. Maybe they’re incredibly tasty, but I couldn’t justify the price for the size.

All in all, I was very satisfied with this little slice of the American East Coast nestled in Potts Point, they do their fish well and they show you a good time. Highly recommended.

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The Fish Shop

Monday – Saturday
Kitchen, 12pm – 11pm
Bar, 12pm – late
Sunday
Kitchen, 12pm – 9pm
Bar, 12pm – 10pm

22 Challis Avenue
Potts Point, 2011

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Tio’s Cerveceria

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How often do you go into a popular bar in Sydney and approach the bar only to be asked by the bartender how your night’s going?

And for them to genuinely care.

100 points for Tio’s.

And then for them to ask how they can make your night even better?

An extra 50 points.

I asked for a bag of their FREE chipotle and sweet-paprika flavoured popcorn.

Plus 5645186486 points.

Safe to say that’s a win for Tio’s.

It’s quite a different bar than the Baxter Inn or Shady Pines, it’s a bit more laid back and definitely a bit cheaper than the other two. We went in on a weeknight which was an excellent choice since there were free tables and space at the bar so that we didn’t get pushed around or even have to wait for drinks.

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There’s not much that’s right next to Tio’s but it’s close to Oxford Street which makes it a good place to start or end your night out (if it happens to be a quiet one since it’s only open till midnight). The bartenders are very hipster chic and the decor is pretty chill as well. With a theme like Guatemalan Owl bar, how could it not be?

And to top everything off, they’ve got a list of ten cocktails for ten dollars. Students all over Sydney can rejoice. Throw on your sombrero and come party with the owls, tequila in one hand and a bag of free popcorn in the other.

4-14 Foster Street, Surry Hills 2010

Mon-Sat 4pm-12pm

Sunday noon-10pm

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Guest post: Super easy breakfast tarts

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Living with two girls who turn out to be fantastic cooks has its apparent advantages. I can no longer count on two hands how many times I’ve wandered into the girls’ apartment to smell something amazing being baked/cooked/fried/prepared, roughly ten seconds before platters of food get shoved in my face accompanied with inquisitive stares that scream “what do you think? (and don’t you dare say anything bad about it!)”. Despite this pressure, these girls know how to cook and I can’t remember ever having anything bad to say about any of their creations. There’s definitely nothing more amazing than coming home after an epic night bartending and seeing an aluminium (sorry Allie, ‘aluminum’) foil-wrapped plate full of goodies waiting to be heated up and consumed at record pace. So I can’t really have anything to complain about right?

Unfortunately, skilled as Allie and Kahina are, there is one hugely embarrassing downside. Any time I attempt to create something of my own, it’s inevitably followed by ‘so-you’re-really-going-to-try-putting-those-ingredients-together’ stares, and two pairs of waiting eyes watching to see what my next culinary disaster will yield.

Take for example the last time Kahina made crepes. She is a genuine whizz when it comes to these things, I’m pretty sure making crepes is as inherent to French DNA as making pastries or appreciating fine wine. Anyway, Kahina was making us all breakfast and I, attempting to get in the spirit of things said “why don’t I try making my own?”. Cue raised eyebrows. Five minutes later what can only be described as a crepe batter explosion is all over the pan and surrounding benches and Kahina and Allie in stitches as I try to repair the damage to my breakfast. Crepes 1, Ciaran 0.

So my latest experiment was also something of a disaster. Both the girls were out and I figured I’d try to quickly cook up something before running off to Uni. We had a fair amount of puff pastry and some eggs left in the fridge from a previous cooking adventure, and having seen something about baked eggs in puff pastry on Masterchef, I thought I’d give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? Allie came home as I was finishing removing them from the oven and immediately I got the “omg-what-were-you-thinking-it’s-just-eggs-and-pastry” looks. Needless to say it was extremely embarrassing and yielded weeks of “Ciaran and his egg tarts” jokes. But this time I was intent on proving I could do something with the idea, and came up with these awesome breakfast tarts. I’ve seen variations of them at cafés all over the place and they’re just so easy that anybody can whip them up in a matter of minutes to impress even the most intense and critical foodie. Enjoy!

Ciaran

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Ingredients – Makes 4 medium sized Breakfast Tarts

2 Sheets Puff Pastry

6 Eggs

2 Rashers Middle Bacon

1 Tomato (Alternately you can use Cherry Tomatoes)

100gms Button Mushrooms

Rocket to Garnish

Salt

Pepper

Butter

Sauce of your choice

Method:

Try to use a muffin tin or something similar. Fortunately I managed to use the girls pie tins which turned out to be perfectly sized for these tarts. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave to defrost. Fry the bacon until crispy and then leave it on the side. Slice the mushrooms thinly, cook in a pot until soft and then set aside in the pot. Grease the muffin/pie tin with butter and then arrange the puff pastry so that you make a small bowl in the tin to hold the eggs. Add one full egg and then more egg white if required to fill the pastry bowl you’ve made. This can vary depending on the size of the bowl but be mindful the pastry and the egg will rise so try not to overdo it. The bacon can be cut up a number of ways, I tried to break it into pieces so it was all through the tart but I’ve seen it done as a long single piece so its really up to you! Toss a few of the mushrooms into each of the tarts. Dice the tomato and throw a few pieces in as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the tarts at 180 degrees for about 15-20mins and take care not to overcook them as they’ll dry through the centre. The yolk should be just turning that lighter yellow when you take them out to rest for 5 minutes. Overturn the tins and gently remove the tarts. They may take some encouragement so I found it easier to run a knife around the edge first to make sure you get them out cleanly. Serve each tart with a little Rocket on top to give them a little extra colour and flavour. Add salt, pepper and sauce to taste.

 

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Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

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Stuffing meat is a somewhat controversial subject.

I’m an American so I really have no problem with it. You’ll notice that most meat stuffed dishes originated in the US of A. I originally thought Chicken Cordon Bleu came from France (sorry Kahina) but it turns out, it’s an American creation. First referenced in the NY Times in 1967.

Other countries seem to be okay with stuffing their meat, however apparently Belgium is not one of those places. One of my Belgian friends recently told me she had never eaten stuffed chicken until she came to Australia.

One of my favourite pubs in the Rocks actually serves stuffed burgers, which are pretty awesome. The most awesome part, they’re stuffed with more meat.

One comes with a beef burger stuffed with pork and is possibly even topped with bacon, the other is beef stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella. A cannibalistic explosion of happiness.

While I do like stuffed meat occasionally, and this stuffed chicken is pretty damn good, I don’t think I could ever go so far as these atrocities.

Anyone remember the HIMYM episode where Ted makes a tur-turkey-key.

And did you know that stuffing a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey is a real thing? Oh Paula Deen. Only in America.

You can rest assured that this meal will cause you way less traumatisation than three different types of birds shoved inside each other. It’s a simple stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach dish, it takes a little bit of time (around 40 minutes) but it’s very simple and extremely tasty. Plus it’s a great leftover food for tomorrow’s lunch.

Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

Serves 4

Takes about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 cups of spinach, chopped
½ cup goat’s cheese, softened
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
Some kind of Italian or Mediterranean seasoning, I just used Gourmet Garden’s Parsley and Garlic mix
400g couscous

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Mix together the spinach, goat’s cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper. With a paring knife slice a pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Stuff the goat’s cheese and spinach mixture into each chicken breast. Drizzle some olive oil on the top, season with salt and add the seasoning.

Heat a large skillet on high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Turn over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a baking dish and put the chicken breasts in the oven until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. While the chicken is in the oven make the couscous according to the package directions. When the chicken is cooked let sit for a few minutes and then plate with the couscous.

 

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Spinach, chicken and pecorino risoni

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Working in a bar/restaurant means nights with late hours, dinner at odd times and much less time to cook. Sometimes I’ll be super organized and cook something for lunch and bring extras to have after my shift, other times I’ll grab one of the $5 special meals on my way to work and eat before I start. And other times there may be a sneaky trip to Maccas or Pie Face.

One of the other challenges with working in hospitality is that when I do get a chance to cook, sometimes I go a little bit overboard. Sunday night dinners at Ciarans parent’s house tend to be one of those times. In the past I’ve made chicken schnitzel with mash and creamy jaeger sauce, meaty lasagna, beer braised chicken, a lot of heavy meals. So this time I was gently instructed, no red meat and no cream. Which actually wasn’t too much of a challenge. Delicious dinners definitely don’t need a bunch of cream or butter to taste great. I remembered this dish from a small dinner party my mum held ages ago and spent a while tracking down the recipe. It’s simple, fresh and keeps well for leftovers. The tomatoes may not keep as well, but they’re a fancy little accompaniment for a nice sit down dinner.

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Chicken, spinach and pecorino risoni

Serves 4

200g cooked warm risoni

400g shredded bbq chicken

1/2 cup finely grated percorino (also known as romano)

50g shredded baby spinach

1/2 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of crushed garlic

Cook risoni and set aside in a warm pan. Shred a store bought bbq chicken. Add the chicken, pecorino, spinach and basil to the risoni. In a separate bowl combine the lemon juice, oil and garlic and toss through the pasta. Serve warm.

Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine

Tomatoes roasted with pesto

2 to 2 1/2 pounds large red tomatoes

3 tablespoons good olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pesto (store bought or home made)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) arrange on a sheet pan.  Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with the pesto, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the parmesan cheese is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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