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Spiced Pumpkin Waffles



If you are looking for a simple and yet delicious breakfast to serve for the holidays, look no further!  Spiced Pumpkin Waffles fit the bill on all counts!


Quick and simple to make, these are absolutely the tastiest, and the smell when you are cooking them is amazing!  I don't know about you, but this is the time of year that I love pumpkin anything! 



They are fabulous served for breakfast with some warmed Maple Syrup and homemade applesauce.



I will sometimes add a bit of spice to the apple sauce to give it a bit of flavour, and sometimes I even do a mix of pears and apples which is really tasty!


You can cook some sausages and bacon curls on the side to go with them as well, especially if you are serving them for a holiday brunch!  Yum! 



You could also serve tinned fruits, or a fruit compote on the side. 


I like to warm the syrup   . . .  its really nice warmed, and I always buy amber grade.  It has more flavour.



These are not only great for breakfast however, they also make a great holiday dessert!!


You can serve the warm waffles topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream  (Or maple walnut!)  . . .


and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce  . . .  now doesn't that sound delicious! 



Another great thing about this recipe is you can make the batter up to one day ahead and store it covered in the refrigerator.  Just bring it to room temperature for half an hour prior to using.


If its thickened up a bit upon standing overnight, you can whisk in a bit of milk to loosen it up a bit without any making any difference to the finished result. 



Another thing which makes these perfect for the holidays, or indeed any time is that you can bake and freeze them for up to a month, just taking them out when you want to serve them. 


Smaller sized ones can be reheated briefly in the toaster, or you can warm larger ones in a moderate oven (180*C/350*F) for about 10 minutes to warm them through!  Easy peasy! 


Yield: 4 - 6

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

These waffles are light and airy, crisp on the outsides with a lovely warm spicy flavour.  Serve with some warmed maple syrup and a pot of applesauce on the side for a fabulous holiday breakfast!

ingredients:

350g of plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice (see my sidebar for a recipe
on how to make your own)
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 large free range eggs
100g soft dark brown sugar (1 cup, packed)
180g pumpkin puree, not pie filling (1 cup)
60g butter, melted (1/4 cup)
480ml buttermilk (2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla
non-stick low fat cooking spray

To serve: (all optional)
icing sugar to sprinkle
apple sauce
warmed maple syrup
whipped cream
vanilla ice cream
warm caramel sauce

instructions:


Preheat your oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas
mark 6.  Have a baking tray ready. Heat waffle iron according to
manufacturer's directions.

Whisk together the
flour, baking powder, soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg in a
bowl.  Whisk the eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, melted butter,
buttermilk and vanilla together in another bowl.  Add the flour mixture
to the wet mixture and stir to combine until smooth.

Spray
 you waffle iron with a bit of cooking spray.  Pour in enough batter to
just fill the waffle iron, spreading it out evenly.  Close the iron and
bake until the waffle iron opens easily, stops steaming and the waffles
are golden brown on the outside.  Remove to the baking tray and keep
warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

Serve warm, sprinkled with some icing sugar and your chosen accompaniments.  We like maple syrup and applesauce!

Note
 - You can make the batter up to 1 day ahead.  Cover and keep in the
refrigerator, removing from the refrigerator half an hour prior to
cooking them.  Whisk before using. If the batter has thickened up too
much, whisk in a couple TBS of milk.  You can freeze the cooked waffles
for up to a month, reheating in a moderate oven until warmed through to
serve.

Created using The Recipes Generator



So that's my holiday breakfast sorted  . . . I love this time of year, don't you?  Bon Appetit! 



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Marie Rayner
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Easy Crack Chicken Tacos



I had been eyeballing a recipe on Delish for a while now for Crack Chicken Tacos.  They looked fabulously tasty, but they also looked a bit faffy, with having to bread pieces of chicken breast etc.  The idea of that really kind of put me off.  I want my tacos to be quick and easy. 



Then I discovered these in the frozen food section at our local grocery shop.  Reasonably prices and 100% chicken, and with only green and amber lights, they are fairly healthy.  And so I picked up a couple packs to see if I could do something with them. 
 


The original recipe called for breading chicken breast chunks with egg, flour, panko, seasoning, etc.  You can certainly do all that faffing about if you want to, but I can tell you right now, it's not necessary.  You can have something just as tasty on the table in a fraction of the time and with a great deal less effort. 



The sauce is amazingly simple.  You just warm together some of your favourite BBQ sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and some garlic powder. 



I cut all the quantities of the original recipe in half and found that it was more than plenty! 



The original recipe called for simply rolling the finished chicken in the sauce before putting it into the tortillas.


That could be why they needed more sauce.  I coated the chicken chunks in it 5 minutes prior to the finished bake time and returned them to the oven to actually cook in the sauce for a few minutes, which really enhanced the flavours of the sauce, so you needed a lot less of it for a larger flavour impact. 


The original recipe also called for a simple bed of shredded cabbage to sit the chicken on in the tacos.  I felt I could do much better than that. 



I added a shredded carrot and some sliced spring onions and a couple TBS of Ranch dressing to make it into a coleslaw.


This worked beautifully as a wonderfully tasty bed for those delicious chunks of chicken.


All that needed to be done after that was to drizzle them lightly with some more ranch dressing and sprinkle some chopped coriander leaf on top! 



Oh boy but these were fabby do!


Really FABBY DO!!


The flavours were fantastic! 



They were quick and easy to make! 



And they provided us with at least one of our five a day!  You can't go wrong!

Yield: 4

Easy Crack Chicken Tacos

prep time: 10 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 25 mins
Probably some of the tastiest tacos you would ever want to eat. Quick, easy and delicious!

ingredients:

350g pack of frozen battered chicken breast chunks (12 1/2 ounces)
4 soft flour tortillas, or tortilla boats

For the sauce:
125g BBQ Sauce (1/2 cup)
50g soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup)
2 TBS lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the salad:
1/2 small head of cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely shredded
2 TBS ranch dressing

You will also need:
freshly chopped coriander leaf for sprinkling (Cilantro)
ranch dressing to drizzle

instructions:

Preheat your oven to the temperature designated on the package of
chicken.  Line a baking tray with foil and pour out the chicken pieces
onto the foil.  Bake in the oven according to package directions.

To make the sauce, gently heat together the BBQ sauce, sugar, lime juice and garlic powder.  Keep warm.

To make the salad, mix the vegetables together in a bowl along with the ranch dressing.

About
 5 minutes before the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and toss
it with the sauce.  Return to the oven for the remaining cook time. 
Heat your tortillas according to package directions.
To
 serve, divide the coleslaw salad between the warmed tortillas, top each
 with 1/4 of the coated chicken pieces.  Drizzle the chicken with some
ranch dressing and sprinkle with coriander leaf.  Fold over and serve
immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator 


I used this Essential 5-in-1 vegetable shredder to do my carrots for the salad.  It is so easy to use and comes with a handy bowl that you can shredd your vegetables into.  I just mixed up my coleslaw in that same bowl.  Its a really handy kitchen tool.  Easy to use, clean, store and maintain.  I love it and use it a lot.  You can find out more here




We both really enjoyed these tacos.  They fit the bill on all counts and fulfilled my kitchen motto, which is for most of what I cook to be quick, easy and delicious!  Love, Love, Love! Happy Weekend! 



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Marie Rayner
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Maple Mashed Butternut Squash



One vegetable which I really, really, REALLY love is Butternut Squash.  Actually I quite like any Winter squash, but I love butternut squash most of all.  Kind of funny really because when I was growing up my mom couldn't get me to touch squash with a ten foot pole, and now it is one of my favourite things! 



Butternut Squash is sometimes known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin or gramma. It is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine, with a sweet, nutty taste which is quite similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the bottom. I always


Its a pretty essential ingredient for autumn dishes and a must for the holiday table. It’s a big player in comforting soups, stews and sautes, but finding the right one can sometimes be difficult. If it’s underripe, the squash won’t have developed its signature taste. If it’s overripe, it may be dry, mushy or flavorless. Follow these tips the next time you’re at the grocery store or farm market to find the perfect recipe-ready butternut squash.

First pick it up to feel its weight. A ripe butternut squash should be hard and heavy for its size. Use your own judgement and pick up other squashes to get an idea of the average weight. If a squash is too light, it’s not ripe enough yet. You can also do the tried-and-true knocking test. Tap the outside of the vegetable. If it sounds hollow, it’s ready to eat. I also like to pick squashed that have large thick tops or "Necks",  necks that are almost the same size as the bulbous bottoms.  You get much more squash for your money.  The bottom is mostly seeds, so most of the flesh will be in the upper part of the squash. If you get one with a tiny neck, you are really missing out!!

Examine the skin colour The deeper the hue, the better. A butternut squash should be dark beige. Green spots or streaks mean the squash isn’t fully ripened. Look for one with a matte finish, with colour that’s even across the entire surface. The thickness of the shell is also important. Use your fingernail to try to gently prick the surface. If your nail goes through easily, it’s not a good squash. You want one with a really hard exterior.

Stay away from any squash with obvious cuts, gashes, or soft spots that might lead to rot or mold. Brown marks, usually caused by frost, are a sign the squash won’t last as long or will have an undesirable texture.


The skin on the butternut squash is very tough and it can be somewhat difficult to cut. If you want, you can pop it in the microwave before you start preparing it for a couple of minutes which will help to make it softer and easier to remove.  If  you are slow roasting the squash, you can just leave the skin on as it is quite edible and gets softer when baked. 

How to cut and peel your squash 
 
Hold the squash steady on your chopping board and use a sharp knife to trim off the top and bottom.  This will make it easier to stand still. Once you have done that, split the squash in half at the point where the long “neck” section meets the round base section. If you want to remove the skin you can either use a Y shaped or swivel blade vegetable peeler or a knife. Once the skin has been removed, cut the base section in half to expose the seeds. Scoop them out using a spoon, and discard. Now you can slice the prepared butternut squash into wedges, chunks or small cubes, depending on what you plan on doing with it.


For this dish, I peeled the squash and cut it into wedge sized pieces, each about 1 inch thick.  These were tossed in a bowl along with some olive oil and maple syrup, along with some salt and pepper for seasoning.



You place them onto a lined baking tray that you have sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  Its important that you line the tray unless you want a stuck on mess to clean up. 


This then gets roasted in a moderate oven until the pieces of squash are fork tender and just beginning to caramelise a bit.  You don't want them to get too dark, or burnt, but the roasting really helps bring out the natural sweetness, and also helps to keep the vegetable dry.  Cook squash can often be very damp, even too damp, if you boil or steam it.



Oh yes, I also added a few sprigs of thyme to further flavour  the squash while it is roasting.


Once its all tender you just tip it into a bowl and mash it until it is fairly smooth along with some butter.  You decide how much. 



You will want to taste it and see if you need any more salt and pepper. And if you need or want any more maple syrup, now is the time to add it.  I sometimes add another small drizzle.  Its just soooo good!


Stir in a bit more fresh thyme, chopped . . .  the leaves only, and your beautifully flavoured mashed squash side dish is a fait accomplis!

Yield: 8

Maple Mashed Butternut Squash

prep time: 10 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 40 mins
This is a delicious way to prepare your holiday side of Butternut squash.

ingredients:

2 lbs. butternut squash flesh (after peeling and de-seeding)
a small handful of fresh thyme stalks (about 8)
1 TBS olive oil
2 - 3 TBS maple syrup
3 - 4 TBS butter
salt and black pepper to taste

instructions:


Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a
 baking tray with aluminium foil.  Spray lightly with non-stick cooking
spray.  Slice the butternut squash into wedges.  Toss together in a bowl
with the olive oil, maple syrup and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Scatter
onto the baking sheet with the thyme stalks.

Roast
 in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender and just beginning to
caramelise.  Remove and tip into a bowl, discarding any stalks of
thyme.  Mash together with butter to taste and the fresh thyme.  Taste
and adjust seasoning as required.  Keep warm until ready to serve.
Note - This can be made several days in advance.  Cover and refrigerate and reheat in the microwave when needed.
Created using The Recipes Generator



Another thing I really, REALLY like about dishes like this, is that you can make them up well ahead of time and just reheat them in the microwave at the last minute.  It can really save a lot of time and hassle on the day you plan on serving it, especially during the holidays when you have about a bazillion other things to do!  This is just so delicious!  Never soggy and always perfectly cooked!  This is a winner in every respect and goes very well with all kinds of roasted meats and poultry! Nom Nom!  



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Marie Rayner
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