Tag Archives: Kitchen Experiments

100 Days of Breakfast – It’s a Wrap!

Day 19a Remember when I wrote this way back when? Nope. I don’t blame you. It was ELEVENTY BILLION LIGHT YEARS AGO. OK. Slight exaggeration. It was 100 whole days ago (and a little more, since I’ve been slack in sharing this). So, how was 100 days of breakfast?

Well, in the name of honesty, I kind of hated this project. Kidding. Sort of. Lets just say, my life is FULL and I completely ran out of steam, each day, when it came to uploading my pic to  the website ect. That side of it, for me, was a little blah. As was having to find my phone every morning to snap my breakfast. As was having to hunt through the cupboard to find a non-ugly chipped bowl. As was the realisation that biscuits don’t qualify as breakfast. As was the realisation that I was having these realisations 30 days in and there was 70 DAYS TO GO! But surely, there were good things too, you ask? There were!

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On Breakfast

Hey, guess what, breakfast and I are top pals now! I learnt some awesome things on this project! I learnt how to poach eggs (I’m improving). I made muesli. I discovered what I need to do in order to face the brown mush on Mondays (eat it while you’re still unconscious).

So what’s the deal with liking breakfast? Its a mindset. Its autopilot. One day, about 30 days in, I got up in my haze of sleepiness, stumbled into the kitchen, flicked the jug on and reached for the Weet-Bix without a thought. Boom! There it was. In a nutshell, I discovered three things. Breakfast is a habit. You need to plan in advance (actually have stuff to eat). And you need to mix things up occasionally. Interestingly, it took about 30 days for breakfast to become semi-habitual. I honestly think that if you struggle to eat breakfast, you should force yourself to do it for a month and by the end of it, you’ll probably have established a routine. There were a few things that came into play with me not eating breakfast pre-project and the biggest one was time. I would never make time to eat breakfast in the a.m. But on the project I realised that breakfast doesn’t take that long to eat (unless you want a slow, leisurely Sunday-type feast). I actually had fun with some things, like finally learning how to poach eggs and realising that its part luck. I learnt that muesli is super simple! And that this buckwheat porridge is one of my favourite things to eat. I also made this pancake recipe a lot.

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On Doing a Super Long Project

While I have no regrets about doing the project, it was certainly harder than I thought it would be. The hard part for me was keeping a record of my project and uploading the photos to my computer and to the website each day. It’s about a five minute job but it felt like walking up a steep hill. I wrongly assumed that this would be simple, because I do this kind of stuff all the time as a blogger. Because of this I would simply not do it each day, then I would have to do five or six days at a time which took ages. Don’t do that!

I totally recommend doing a huge project to get excited about something and form new habits. It’s great for challenging yourself and getting some perspective. Do think long and hard about what sort of project you’ll do. If I do 100 Days again, I will pick something a little more creative and stimulating. You can see my entire project here. Thousands of people did the project and there were some incredible results. (Many participants were artists, crafters and photographers.) I highly recommend checking out the 100 Days Facebook page or trawling through the other projects here!

Day 54

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

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I imagine that that title conjures up images of rich, gooey, indulgent cookies that you have to eat in secret by the fist-full. Sorry to disappoint but these bikkies, despite their star ingredients, are closer to a digestive than a Toffee Pop. However, I promise you’ll like them and you can eat them publicly, shame-free. I don’t think a biscuit is meant to be ‘healthy’. Its a biscuit. But I set out to make a biscuit that was a bit less heart attacky and a bit more substantial. Something that you could take for your morning tea at work or on a tramp. It had to be delicious and simple and so I turned to some of the most tried and true ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. They’re brothers from another mother and man do they make good biscuits when they’re in cahoots.

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I love biscuits. Who doesn’t? When I make a batch, they tend to last less than two days and I don’t need to be convinced that this a less-than-healthy habit. I think one of the reasons that you can power through biscuits is because they are a lot of sugar and not a lot else. To make this biscuit recipe, I looked at classic biscuit recipes and decided I would try halving the sugar. I have a theory, though I’m not remotely an expert on the matter, that brown sugar is nicer than white and therefore you can use less. So in this recipe, I used only half a cup of sugar. They’re plenty sweet. I decided to use wholemeal flour and coconut in an attempt to make them more filling. This is the result! I hope you try them. They’re a lot good!

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Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

125 grams of butter, softened
12 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
A generous 12 cup of crunchy peanut butter
1 12 cups of wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of cocoa
12 cup of coconut
100 grams of good quality dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
(I use and recommend Whittaker’s Dark Block, 50% cocoa)

Makes about 30 biscuits. 

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Prepare two oven trays. 

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. (I used electric beaters). Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally. Add the peanut butter and beat in to combine.

Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the flakes left in the sieve, we’re only sifting to aerate the flour not to remove lumps. Then sift in the cocoa (leaving out the lumps!). Add the coconut and chocolate and fold together until well combined and you have a nice dough.

Roll heaped tablespoons of dough into balls and place on an oven tray. Press down on each biscuit with your fingers or a fork to flatten slightly. I bake my biscuits in two batches, one tray at a time. Bake for about 12 minutes (all ovens are different, they may need a little longer. I always flip one biscuit over and check for a nice brown bottom). Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They’ll keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

Winter Salad with Brown Rice, Orange & Yoghurt Dressing

IMG_1474If you know one thing about me, know that I love salad. Not a pile of sad looking leaves bathing in oil with one pale tomato wedge. Nope. A real salad. With lots of STUFF. A meal in a bowl. There aren’t many riveting options in the depth of winter, so I basically found everything available and jammed it all together. You know what? Not too shabby at all!PicMonkey Collage


Winter Salad with Brown Rice, Orange & Yoghurt Dressing

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 400 gram can chickpeas
2 carrots
1 teaspoon of honey
12 tablespoon of oil
1 orange
2 loose handfuls of baby spinach
2 – 3 spring onions
Salt and pepper
Dressing: 3 tablespoons of plain unsweetened yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of mayo or ranch dressing, the zest of an orange, 12 teaspoon of paprika

Cook the rice according to packet directions (add two cups water to a medium sized pot with rice, bring to boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until tender). When cooked, allow the rice to come to room temperature as you prepare everything else. You can leave it in the pot and stir occasionally, or if you’re wanting to speed things up,  tip the cooked rice on to a plate and spread out.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Wash and dry spinach. Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Peel and chop carrot into similar sized chunks. Spread on a baking tray and drizzle over oil and honey. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through and starting to brown. Then remove from the oven and set aside.


Make the dressing. Get as much zest as you can from the orange and combine with the yoghurt and ranch or mayo in a small bowl. Add paprika and stir well. 

Peel and cut the orange into small chunks. Finely dice the spring onions.

Add the rice to a large bowl or serving dish and stir in the chickpeas, roast carrot, orange pieces, spring onions and dressing. Combine well. Fold in the spinach leaves.

Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to two days. This was a main for us and we had leftovers for lunch the next day. I would say that it serves four smaller sized mains or makes plenty to take along if you go to a dinner party. Or you could have it as side with some chicken. Enjoy!

100 Days of Breakfast!

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Here we go! Starting today, I’m joining hundreds of others around NZ (and possibly the globe) in the 100 Days Project. What’s that, you ask: it’s a crazy pursuit of doing one creative thing every day for 100 days straight! The projects range from writing lyrics to sketching to photographing people with big hair.  I’m starting at, well, the start and honing in on the first meal of the day, and in my opinion, the crappiest. I have a love-hate relationship with breakfast. For God’s sake bring me some blueberry pancakes, stat! On the other hand, at 7am, I can barely bring myself to feed the cat and make a cup of tea let alone stare down the barrel of a big bowl of brown mush. So therein lies my challenge:  to make and eat a half-decent breakfast every single day for 100 days. On my days off I’ll be jamming to Cold War Kids and whipping up a batch of French toast with a side of big warm socks, Frankie magazine and at the minimum, three cups of tea. And on Mondays…well, we’ll have to wait and see. Its me versus the brown mush. I hope that by day 100 (hello spring!) I’ll be a breakfast connoisseur who can make pancakes in a flash, in the dark while simultaneously pulling on a suitable attire and taming that bed-head. If you want to follow along (or assemble at the sidelines with your big ‘L’ shaped banner) I’d be most chuffed. I might even make you breakfast.

Poached Chicken: An Experiment

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I love experimenting in the kitchen and trying new cooking concepts. This weekend was fun: I made tabbouleh, poached chicken and pizza dough – all firsts for me. I had high hopes for my chicken. I’ll be honest, this was primarily due the fact that it looked so pretty. OK chicken’s don’t look pretty, ever. But all of the fresh herbs, lemon slices, crushed garlic. It had to be great.

The verdict: I was less than excited. I enjoyed the process and honestly, having chicken in the fridge that you can just throw into a meal (see below) and home made stock is kind of the best. But next time, next time I think I’ll just roast. I’m undecided. Have you poached a chicken? I think I’ll do it again and play around with the flavours. For now, I’m just enjoying the end result.

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Last night I made pizza which kind of made all other food moot. It. was. good. Real good. Chicken, capsicum, Camembert. I’ll make that again. For sure. And there is still plenty of chicken left.

I used this Rachael Ray recipe and this Jamie recipe for inspo for my poached chicken. I used Elise’s pizza dough recipe which was great!

Happy Monday! I hope you had a relaxing weekend before getting back to the grind. I have a big marketing test this week. Its cool. Totally cool. I’m not freaking out. I have eaten 5 peanut brownies. But its cool. Right?

I’ve got a bunch of posts planned but if there is a mysterious lull on the Happy Pantry front its because I’ve glued my head to a text book.

Have a great week!

Banana Blondies with Caramel Bits

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Hello! I’ve been doing some experimental baking. That’s fast becoming one of my favourite hobbies. I’ll be honest, it kind of makes me feel like a scientist. I love brownie but I felt like mixing it up. I wanted to try those new caramel bits that Nestle has put out. So this is what I made. Its not quite blondie, not quite cake but its extremely delicious. If you’re much of a brownie blondie fan, you’ll know that there are kind of two camps that recipes and fans fall into: gooey brownies and cakey brownies. I myself love a really chewey but not too moist brownie. I feel like this banana blondie is smack-bang in the middle. Its pretty good! So I’ll share my recipe. I plan to keep experimenting and one-day present the perfect blondie. This is OK by me in the mean-time!

Re the caramel chips, I enjoyed using them (they smell amazing!) but the end result wasn’t quite caramely enough for me to justify spending that much again. Next time I might use regular ol’ chips, but if you want to try them, go forth!

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