Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

When I was pregnant and lacking sufficient protein inspiration – my dietician suggested roasting chickpeas and enjoying these as a snack (instead of crisps). Although I didn’t do it at the time – I did find this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2016 issue supplement) and decided it was HIGH time to finally try them out!

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These spicy snacks are more-ish (aka – you want to eat more…) but I probably should have left them in the oven for 5minutes more to get them super crunchy!

Would I make them again? yes… for a healthy snack, they are great – PLUS they are consider one of my 5-a-day and are vegan friendly.

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

400g can chickpeas
1 teaspoon sunflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander

  • Tip the drained & washed chickpeas into a bowl along with oil and spices
  • Toss well until chickpeas are well coated
  • Place on a baking tray
  • Bake for 35min at 180C, moving them around the tray halfway to ensure they dry out evenly

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Blueberry Pie (SRC)

OMG… how is it SRC time again? This month as zoomed by at an amazing rate… with Monkey teething (top 2 are starting to make their appearance (and presence) known… and felt), plus a whole lot of training at work and travel on the cards (combination of a weeks holiday in Portugal with HIM and Monkey… and then work trips to Helsinki and Amsterdam in the next few weeks… and THEN… our big holiday in South Africa.. woohoo). Anyhoo – I digress…

This months Secret Recipe Club (SRC) reveal showcases the lovely Wendy of “A Day in the Life on the Farm“. She and her husband are retired police officers who decided to trade in the hustle & bustle of city life for a more quiet existence on a farm. HA! if you read her blog – you will quickly realize that quiet is not a word to be used lightly! Wendy is a busy lady! Up until recently, she looked after her 94 year old mom (who sadly has dementia) but has taken to living in a care home with ease. She is also a granny!!! An avid reader, blogger, gardener. hiker and scuba diver… to name a few… I am not sure where she has all this time!!

I loved her blog… and found it VERY difficult just to choose one recipe… I wanted to make the Tangerine Honey white bread, the Jamacian Me Hungry Muffins, the cherry strudel, or the coconut prawns (to name a few)… but eventually decided to make use of the abundance of blueberries by (re)creating this Blueberry Slab Pie!

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Easy as Pie… ha ha… no, seriously… using store-bought pastry made my life SO much easier (and thanks for that tip Wendy) and of course the taste… YUMMY! (FYI – I reduced the quantity by half …). I made this pie using shop-bought circular pastry… therefore no longer a *slab* and took it with to our Church Meet-n-Greet where it went down a treat! By the time HIM got to the table, there was only 1 slice left!

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Blueberry Pie

3 cups of blueberries
2x store-bought pastry
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg beaten

  • Combine berries, sugar, cinnamon & lemon zest in a bowl and leave to rest while you prepare the pie dough/crust
  • Roll out the one portion of pastry onto a greased baking tray
  • Evenly spread the blueberries across the pastry
  • Top with the 2nd portion of pastry
  • Crimp the bottom & top pastry together
  • brush with beaten egg
  • Cut vent holes with a sharp knife (very important)
  • Bake for 30-40min at 200C

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Eat! Brussels Drink! Bordeaux 2016 edition

That is right folks… today is the first day of Eat Brussels! Drink Bordeaux! 2016 edition – which is currently in its 5th year!

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Once again it is being held in Parc Royal (which was a huge hit with me last year… read 2015 review here) – this year however, the concept has changed (sad face :() but I have been assured that it will still be VERY tasty!

Previously – you bought a package with X number of tokens and each restaurant stand would have a selection of starters, main courses and desserts with their own price (set # of tokens) – sometimes you could get a hamburger for 10tokens (10€) and sometimes you paid 12 tokens (12€) for a fancy-schmancy starter. While this year, the concept is simple – several dozen great Brussels chefs will take turns to offer you a signature dish from their restaurant each day (which is at the set price of 9tokens (9€)).

Therefore – if you buy a Solo Pass – you get 2x signature dishes along with your Wine Pass.

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Which brings me to my favourite part (and the part I had to miss last year because I was pregnant)… the Wine Pass for a mere 18€ – you get an engraved wine glass, wine glass pouch (which is super handy as it hangs around your neck while you stand and eat), a tasting book for 11 wines (hallelujah!); 1 session at wine school & a Duvel beertasting! I know many people who purchased one of these and came back over the course of 2 or 3 days last year… so a REAL bargain indeed!

I know that I will be heading there on Saturday… will you?

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for more details – check out the website here (and don’t forget to pre-purchase your passes, although they can be bought on the day)

Courgetti Bolognese

I recently decided to eat less carbs at night… Now, don’t you worry… I am not going paleo on anyone… but rather eating my carbs in the morning for breakfast & at mid-day for lunch. This has meant some mindset changes – especially as I have had a tendency to have salads for lunch (because I am at work) and big hearty dinners (when I am at home).

Last week – I knew that I was going to make a pot of bolognese sauce… but instead of teaming it with conventional noodles or spaghetti – I decided to read up a bit about zoodles (zucchini noodles) or courgetti (courgette spaghetti).. which is when you make a “faux” noodle out of courgettes. I especially enjoyed reading Elana’s Pantry recipe and pretty much followed her cues for a bowl of warm courgette zoodles.

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Essentially – using a spiralizer made the job super quick and easy.

Make again? Yes… in fact, I did it again the following evening too!

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Courgetti Bolognese (feeds 4)

3-4 large courgettes (1 per person)
olive oil

400g mince (pork/beef mix)
500ml passatta
180g tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 grated carrots
salt/pepper/dried herbs

  • To make the bolognese sauce, I heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and then add meat
  • Once browned, I mix in the passatta, tomato paste, sugar, carrots, garlic and seasonings
  • Reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-30minutes
  • For the courgetti, spiralize the courgette.
  • Salt it and leave to sit for 20minutes
  • Rinse & drain the courgetti, and pat dry with paper towels
  • In a frying pan, heat a dash of olive oil and then ‘fry’ the courgetti for approx. 5minutes
  • Serve

As simple as that

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Lemon Icebox Pie (SRC)

Yippee yeah, yippee yeah… it’s SRC (Secret Recipe Club) monthly reveal time again!

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For those who haven’t been up to speed on what SRC is – it is a Secret-Santa blog swap, whereby each blogger receives another bloggers website to check out & make a recipe from – then the entire group reveals their post on the same day at the same time… TA DA!

This month, I got A Spoonful of Thyme – how brilliant is that name??? I love the playfulness of Thyme versus Time🙂 especially when we talk about a cooking blog! Kate follows in her Grandma’s (and mothers) footsteps by embracing the kitchen and cooking for others with her whole heart. And I love how Kate says as a child she was given the “important job” of sitting on the porch swing to watch her Grandma’s pies cool down – something she took very seriously. I have to be honest… I couldn’t be trusted around my Grandma’s baking… I used to steal her fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits and go & sit (ahum *hide*) in the backyard tree to eat them… hee hee… So KUDU’s to Kate!

Did I mention that she has been part of a *gourmet group* for 33years?? *RESPECT*

I had so much fun reading her blog and scouring her recipe index – wondering if I should make her coconut cream bars (because I also have a lifelong love affair with coconut), sprinkle pudding cookies (because I have never even considered using pudding in a cookie!!), this beef & beer pie (because the picture alone had me drooling) and cheesy stuffed pull apart bread (aka crack bread) – because who doesn’t love bubbly melted cheese, bacon & bread, eh?

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But I finally decided on making her Lemon Icebox Pie… because this warm summer weather in Brussels has me screaming for fresh, tangy types of desserts… and also because I am a sucker for any lemon based desserts as well🙂

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Lemon Icebox Pie

130g crushed biscuits (Marie or digestive)
9 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cream
1 tin (340g) sweetened condensed milk
2 large lemons, juiced (& zest of 1)

  • Line in a loaf pan with greased parchment paper
  • Combine biscuits and melted butter in a bowl and press into pan to make a base and place in fridge
  • Beat the cream until you have stiff peaks
  • Add condensed milk, lemon juice & lemon zest & mix well
  • The mixture will be thick (as the lemon juice reacts with mixture)
  • Pour over the crust
  • sprinkle more lemon zest over the top
  • Cover & refrigerate until set (at least 2hours)
  • Cut into squares and serve

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Banana upside down cinnamon cake

Our latest fruit and vegetable delivery was a bit disappointing with all the fruit at the peak of ripeness on the day of their arrival. This meant that we had to think (aka eat) quickly before items were beyond saving.

The banana’s however were well-ripe on day 3, and with 4 left on the bunch (after both of us eating one each day prior to that) – I knew that it was time to make this recipe!

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The BBC Good Food Magazine (May 2016 issue) had a recipe for “sticky upside-down banana cake”. I made a few changes by omitting the ground ginger and using buttermilk instead of soured cream in the cake mix and all in all, it turned out pretty well. HIM happily devoured a few slices and said it reminded him a Portuguese Honey cake.

This is a DEFINITE make again kind of cake… something that I was able to whip up relatively quickly with a 10month old sitting on the floor next to me playing with plastic containers… and I had it in the oven before boredom rolled in for her!

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Banana Upside down cinnamon cake

80g butter
150g muscovado sugar
4 bananas

240g flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g caster sugar
120g butter, softened
3 large eggs
150ml buttermilk

  • Place butter (80g) & sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat until melted & combined
  • Pour into greased cake tin
  • Cut bananas in half and arrange on top of the caramel
  • To make batter, beat together sugar and softened butter, adding eggs one at a time
  • Then add flour, baking powder, cinnamon & buttermilk and continue to mix/whisk until smooth & evenly combined
  • Pour batter over bananas
  • Bake for 50-60min at 180C

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C O C O Donuts in Brussels

I had already been stalking checking out their Instagram and Facebook feeds for a while, drooling over their donuts and begging HIM to visit to fulfill my donut craving…

So finally… while Michelle of Very Hungry Explorer was visiting us in Brussels for a day… we finally made our way to Petit Sablon and settled down outside the shop on some outdoor furniture to devour their sugary goods and sip on their homemade lemonade.

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C O C O Donuts was started by 2 ladies, Chloé & Candice who thought up the idea while in Sydney, Australia. They make the most of organic & local ingredients and bake their donuts Tuesday to Sunday in their workshop.

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Salted caramel, chocolate and berry donuts for us

Offering conventional flavours like lemon, sugar & cinnamon, salted caramel, berries or chocolate to more adventurous flavours like maple syrup & bacon, pistachio & white chocolate, oreo or peanut butter & jam… there is something for everyone!

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We enjoyed them so much that we bought a box of 4 for HIM to take to work to share with his co-workers… (Image below: top left in clockwise: pistachio & white chocolate, lemon, speculoos & crunchy chocolate)

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So yes – you can pop into the shop, sit down & enjoy the sugar rush right there and then, or you can purchase to take away (either in store or order in advance via their website, email or telephone). Cost for 1 donut is 3,50€, or you can buy a box of 6 for 20€ or a box of 9 for 30€. They even offer a delivery service (for a fee)

Wondering about the name? C(hloé) O C(andice) O with the “O”‘s being Donuts… pretty clever, eh?

Visit them….

C O C O Donuts

address: rue de Sainte-Anne 36, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 498 57 43 16

email: cocodonutsbrussels@gmail.com

website: http://www.cocodonutsbrussels.com

Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday: 12h00-19h00 (or until they are sold out!)

Chocolate chip cheesecake with Dr Oetker

Just in time for the Belgian National holiday (21st July) – I was spoilt with a goodie box of Dr Oetker baking goodies.

The Challenge was simple enough – “Belgian National Holiday”… so I started brainstorming Belgian foods… Frites (although tasty… I am not sure that baked in a cake would suffice); Beer (a great bread ingredient… but in cakes… I am not so sure.. unless we are talking Guinness Chocolate cake); cheese (I know that they say that French cheese is the best… but if you saw what was on offer in Belgium, you would also smile)… which left me the well known Belgian Chocolate…  because, who doesn’t love Belgian Chocolate? And what better way to celebrate the National day than with one of the worlds favourite Belgian foods!

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Thank goodness Dr Oetker makes baking so simple… everything was in the box mix, except for cream & cream cheese (for the filling) and 25g melted butter (for the biscuit base)… and of course, I added my own chocolate kick… nutella and chocolate chips! AND they even supply the baking “tin” (a cardboard cutout) – so even the washing up isn’t a problem!

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Belgian Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

1 Dr Oetker Cheesecake Box Mix
500g cheesecake
200ml cream
25g butter
2 Tablespoons Nutella spread
3/4 cup of chocolate chips

  • Make cheesecake base according to the box instructions
  • After making the base and putting it in the “tin” – spoon on your nutella
  • Make cheesecake filling according to the box instructions – adding the chocolate chips
  • Bake according to instructions

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It couldn’t have been easier!

Berry Popsicles

When I was pregnant with our little Monkey (not a real monkey, mind you – although sometimes her 9.5month mobility activities do have me wondering…), I developed such a sweet tooth! I couldn’t finish a day without having an ice-cream or a piece of chocolate before bed. Sadly… this habit has extended into my post-natal life as well. Which means that I need to get savvy when it comes to sweet things, otherwise my jeans will never fit again…

And of course, with the mini heat wave that Brussels has had over the past weekend… Ice-cream seems to the be preferred choice. (Don’t worry – I am not complaining about the heat – only making the statement that we have had it🙂 and hopefully this is just the beginning of summer!) I had previously make a “fake” cheats berry ice-cream, so this a bit of a take on this … but in popsicle format!

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Simple, healthy and tasty… no more guilt! hurray! The addition of the banana’s and the yoghurt give it a more creamy texture and this time, there is no need to freeze the fruit before hand! I used baby yoghurt (found in the local Delhaize) so that I could share this treat with her without worrying about additives, sugar, etc. She pulled a funny face with the first mouthful – probably because it was a lot colder than she anticipated – but she still managed about a dessert spoon full (brain freeze face with each mouthful… hee hee… but that didn’t stop her from baby-bird mouth open for the next morsel!).

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I got these moulds from Ikea… cheap, colourful and cheerful… and trust me… every shop in Brussels seems to be selling something similar at the moment!

Berry Popsicles

100g raspberries
100g blueberries
100g yoghurt
1 banana

  • blitz everything with a hand held blender (or whichever method you prefer)
  • Pour into popsicle moulds
  • Freeze for a few hours
  • In order to get the popsicle out of the cover, hold the cover under warm running water to melt it a little bit (just enough to loosen the cover)

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White chocolate chip cookies

Just before I was knocked down with a 2nd bout of tonsillitis (don’t even ask – but I was seriously not a happy camper) – I managed to whip up a batch of these delicious white chocolate chip cookies!

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Firstly – I found the recipe in the Olive magazine (July issue) – but theirs called for caramelizing the white chocolate. Now, anyone with a mobile 9month old is not going to be working with hot chocolate for an hour while their Monkey is crawling around their feet … right? So I didn’t do this – but followed the rest of the recipe and they turned out great.

My only negative (and my own fault for not caramelizing the white chocolate) is the cookies looked a bit bland and colourless (even if they tasted great!)

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Would I make it again? Yes – the recipe is easy and quick – but next time I would use milk chocolate chips OR colourful sprinkles – maybe nuts & cranberries… Hmmm! The opportunities are endless!

White chocolate chip cookies

100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
150g butter, room temperature
150g sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
220g self-raising flour

  • Beat butter & sugar until light & creamy
  • Beat in egg
  • Add vanilla extract & milk
  • Mix the flour in
  • Add chocolate chips & mix in
  • Line & grease a baking tray (or 3)
  • Place a teaspoon ball of dough on the tray (evenly spaced). Don’t worry about flattening out, as they will do this while baking
  • Bake for 10min at 190C
  • Rest for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool

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