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The best home made popcorn

I've made popcorn for years, but, only recently discovered the extra step that gets it to all pop at the same time and virtually eliminates any unpopped kernels.

1/3 cup of popping kernels
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of butter
Icing sugar

Take a substantial saucepan and pop in the coconut oil and let it melt until no white remains. Drop in a couple of popcorn kernels and wait until they pop, then remove the pan from the heat.

The magical extra step - add all the kernels and wait for 30 seconds, then return the pan to the heat. The 30 seconds lets all the kernels heat up to the same temperature and pop at the same time.

Once you hear a few seconds pause between pops remove from the heat.

Remove the popcorn from the pan and add in the butter. Once its melted, pour in the pop corn and stir until its coated. Thenadd a shake of icing sugar and stir - a little goes a long way! If you prefer savoury add salt and stir. Personally my favourite is sweet and salt together.

Chia Seed Pudding

I just love this. Feels like its naughty, whilst actually being reasonably good for you. It's a little trickier, but, if it's just for me I half the ingredients.

Ingredients for 4 portions
2 cups coconut milk (homemade or natural)
1/2 cup Chia Seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (or less) maple syrup (or substitute a different sweetener) - half is 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Topping ideas - pomegranate is my current favourite, blueberry's, granola, raspberry's, melon
Flavouring ideas - almond butter, cacao, fruit puree e.g. apple, banana

Really simple - put everything in a lidded container and give it a shake and leave overnight, or at least 5 hours or so. If you have chance to stir it a couple of times early on that can help it evenly soak up the coconut milk - its fine either way.

I like the texture as it is, however, to make it more like an American style 'pudding' blend it for a couple of minutes. Be warned it will look an oddish grey colour if you don't have a coloured fruit or other ingredient in it. Where cacao has been added the blended version is especially good.

This keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Amy's Getting Better Chicken Soup

Handed down in my friend Amy's family as the staple post illness, full of nourishment and easy to digest meal. We recently had a nasty bought of illness and Amy kindly passed it onto us. We are now firm adoptee's of this recipe.

Ingredients - substitute any of the veg for what you have on hand.
2 sliced leeks
4 diced carrots
2 diced sticks celery (optional)
1 diced large onion
250g pearl barley
4 full chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
chicken or vegetable stock cube
1 cup of peas
pile of shredded cabbage
Bay leaf 

Put the onion, leeks, carrots, celery, pearl barley, herbs and chicken legs into a large stock pot. Add the stock cube and fill with hot water until the chicken and vegetables are covered. Cook for an hour, or until the pearl barley is cooked.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the peas and cabbage and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a tray or large plate. Remove the chicken skin and then, using two forks, pull the chicken from the bones, and pop it back into the pan.


Pulled Beef Brisket (slow cooker)

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket in Ale

At a friends recent 40th Birthday party they served slow cooked beef brisket rolls - they were soooo good. So of course I got hold of a recipe to make it for us. Happily it's a 'hands off' easy recipe to make and is quite similar to the scrumptious pulled pork, but, with less messing about with spices. Be warned - you need to do this the day before or get an early start if you want it for dinner as it takes 8-10 hours.


1.5kg beef brisket joint
salt and pepper
2 sliced onions
3 bay leaves
1 bottle of ale

Optional - gravy powder, corn flour, extra salt and pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt


Pop the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the brisket joint on top. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Drop in the bay leaves and then pour in the ale.

Slow cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Let cool a little and stand / rest then remove from the slow cooker and 'pull' using two forks. 

I like to remove the onion from the cooking sauce and add it back to the beef and then season with a generous amount of black pepper and a little salt. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves. 

Lastly, simmer the remaining cooking sauce in a pan, add a little gravy powder and a half teaspoon of sugar to make a lovely gravy to go with the pulled beef brisket. Thicken with a little corn flour as required. You may want to season it further as well.

Green Sauce or dip or dressing - gosh it's good

Did I mentioned it's green...
Our food processor packed up before Christmas and Santa brought me a new one. Hence some perusing of the internet to find new things to make in one. I found this recipe for '5 Minute Magic Green Sauce'. It has avocado, coriander and line, three of my favourite things and promised to be quick. Sold!

Once the first batch was finished I understood why the blogger (Lindsay, 'Pinch of Yum') that featured it was so excited. I love it and it works loads of different food, from salad to chicken or a steak. If you add more oil it makes a great salad dressing, it super with carrot sticks as a dip or nachos and just topped onto meat.

You can make it garlic free if you have work the next day and vary the amount of chilli depending on your mood.

1 avocado
1 cup packed parsley and coriander leaves (together, to be honest one supermarket packet of each)
1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
Juice of one lime (I looked it up 2 tablespoons of juice from a bottle)
½ cup water
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup pistachios (pine nuts or walnuts work as well)

Snip the larger stalks off the herbs. Pop everything except for the nuts into the food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the nuts and pulse until you have a consistency you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit you. Enjoy.

Baked Aubergine Steak

I ate out a few days ago and saw this on the menu - aubergine steak with polenta chips. Intrigued I gave it a go and very much enjoyed it. Still not a big fan of polenta though, but maybe one day I will find some brilliantly cooked. Here is my homemade version of the aubergine. I served mine with a roasted sundried tomato and mozzarella ball side dish from the deli counter.

1 medium sized aubergine per person
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and pop some foil on a baking tray
2. Slice the aubergine on opposite sides so it has a flat edge top and bottom. I like to trim the green stem back a little as well
3. Score the top face of the aubergine in a diamond pattern - this will give texture and hold the seasoning
4. Place on the baking tray, season and drizzle with a little oil
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

My favourite lemon drizzle traybake is here, however, it's not the right bake for a loaf tin. This recipe is slightly denser and therefore much easier to achieve lovely, thick, tasty slices.

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
175g butter or margarine (the cake in the picture used Lurpak spreadable as it was on hand)
175g  caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp. milk
Grated rind of 2 lemons

1. Prepare your loaf tin (pop in a liner wins my vote) and set the oven to 180 C. Mine is a 1.5lb tin.
2. Pop the flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth
3. Pour into the loaf tin, about 3/4 of the way up the sides if you want a flatter, less domed top. Who doesn't love a spoon of cake mix...Fill her up if you don't mind a craggy muffin top! 
4. Bang the tin on the worktop a couple of times to release any large air bubbles
5. Bake for 50 mins to an hour - until a skewer comes out clean and the top springs back when you press it. Take it out of the tin as soon as you can
6. Gently stab the cake a few times with a skewer or slim knife to allow space for the topping to sink in - don't over do it - you need the cake to stay in one piece
Cake with skewer holes ready for drizzle
7. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a low heat in a pan and spoon over the cake whilst it's still warm. If it dribbles down the sides use the paper liner to encourage it to squeeze back up the sides and soak into the cake

This keeps for about 4 days in a container if not at out house.