Oven Baked Brisket

Doing oven baked brisket was just one of the family events from the past several weeks. It’s been an emotional roller coaster what with our daughter’s graduation high school, our son’s birthday and my husband’s parents staying with us for a few weeks. I managed not to embarrass myself with too much crying as our daughter received her diploma but watching her drive off for her summer job of a camp councillor was tough. She is completely ready, us? Not so much. But we’ll adjust.

For our son’s birthday, I thought it would be fun to have a BBQ of grilled corn on the cob, mashed potato and a brisket. My in-laws don’t have much BBQ back home so I wanted to treat them as well. The thing is, it’s hard to keep the grill at a set temperature for 20 minutes, never mind the 10 hours needed to do a brisket on the grill. Plus, I didn’t think the propane would last. So the oven it was.

While it may not be traditional, you can get a very tender and flavourful brisket in the oven. You also don’t have to stand by the grill all day.

Technique for Oven Baked Brisket

As this isn’t Texas, I wasn’t able to find the Texas size brisket but that’s ok as we’re fans of portion control.

The only downsize to a smaller piece of meat is you don’t have a lot of fat on it. Make up the dry rub. Spread stone mustard all over the cut of meat, then rub the dry rub so the meat is well covered. This will help the brisket keep moist.

Cover and keep in the fridge overnight. An hour before you put it into the oven remove it from the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

Wrap the brisket well in tin foil, you don’t want any moisture escaping into the oven. Bake until the brisket is fork tender. For the 1 1/2lb of meat I used, it was about 2 1/2 hours.

Spread with BBQ sauce of your choice. I used my Fresh Peach BBQ Sauce for this. Broil on high for a couple of minutes to heat the sauce and crisp up the outside of the brisket.

Allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Slice and serve with your favourite sides.

I got a thumbs up from my son who enjoyed his birthday dinner very much. Success!

Oven Baked Brisket

Oven Baked Brisket is a tender and flavourful addition to a summer BBQ.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Oven Baked Brisket
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 3 hours
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb brisket
  • 1/4 cup stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

The night before

  1. Mix the dry rub ingredients together. Spread the mustard on all sides of the brisket. Cover the mustard with the dry rub. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The day of cooking

  1. Remove the brisket from the fridge and preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

  2. Cover the brisket completely with tin foil. Bake until the meat is fork tender, for meat this size, about 2 1/2 hours.

  3. Uncover the brisket and spread the BBQ over the top. Broil for a few minutes to heat up the sauce and crisp the outside of the brisket.

  4. Rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

  5. Serve with your favourite BBQ sides.

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Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken

I start grilling as soon as the grill can hold its own in the cold weather, usually when the temperatures are hovering round freezing. When the heat and humidity kicks in, the grill goes into overtime. Since it will be a few months before I get tired of salads I made a Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken for dinner and my food bowls.

To be honest, when I do get tired of salads, this would be great with rice noodles and the like. Plus you can make this with pork or fish.

For the dressing, there are many different Asian inspired ones you can choose from but I confess my guilty pleasure is salad cream. We tried to explain it to our stateside friends and they were like is it mayo? No! There were many guesses so I think we’re going to have to share our stash. Luckily, it isn’t hugely price prohibitive to get it delivered. Not like Marmite, where you have to mortgage your house to get it here. Fortunately, my in-laws are coming next week and they are bringing that with them.

Technique for the Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken

I’m not sponsored by any of these but choose the brands you prefer.

The chicken should be marinated for at least a couple of hours. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Before adding the chicken check the flavour of the marinade to make sure the balance of the flavours are as you like them. With the honey, you want to make sure the sweetness comes through but doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. As the marinade sits, the volume of the sweetness increases. So at the start have the honey just making the marinade a bit sweet.

Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise. Aside from lessening the cooking time for the chicken it makes it easier when cooking with honey. When using honey, you need to keep the temperature at medium on the grill. I always find that food photography that shows dishes with honey glazes still honey colored deceptive. Honey will brown when cooked. You do have to be careful as it will catch and burn very easily.

After marinating for at least a couple hours, grill the chicken making sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch and burn.

I have new cooking grids coming this weekend, can’t wait!

Prep the salad and top with the chicken.

Who says healthy eating has to be boring?

Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken

A honey ginger marinade for a healthy meal.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Keyword Honey Ginger Grilled Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken breast, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Add the chicken. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Grill the chicken on medium heat. Cube and top on salad. Serve.

Mushroom and Feta over Salad

I do seem to be on a mushroom kick, not just the vegetarian kick. Growing up, the only mushroom I was really exposed to was the button mushroom. Not to knock it, because that type is fine, but there really is such a variety to choose from. Different “meatiness” and flavours which can make dishes exciting. We were at the library a few weeks ago and my husband found a cookery book by Yotam Ottolenghi called Ottolenghi Simple. I love his approach to food. His recipe featuring mushroom and feta caught my eye so here is my version. It’s not too different from his though I adjusted the amounts of the ingredients a little here and there. I also added garlic because I love it paired with mushrooms and thyme.

When making this dish, try to find as many different varieties of mushrooms as you can. It should celebrate them. I was unlucky as when I went there wasn’t any variety! So strange as I can usually find about 5 types.

Technique for Mushroom and Feta

I think I found the smallest shiitake in the world!

Prep the ingredients prior to starting to cook, including the bulger wheat, as it does not take long to cook. The original recipe calls for adding salt and pepper to the bulger before soaking but I decided not to do that. I’m a huge lover of salt but I knew there would be plenty of that flavour from the feta and I seasoned the mushrooms as they cooked.

In a skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the onions for several minutes until they soften and begin to caramelise. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Stir and keep an eye on the seeds. You don’t want them to burn but you do want them to brown. Remove the onion and seeds, set aside.

If need be, add a bit more olive oil and then sauté the mushrooms. Once they begin to brown add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add another 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed and the thyme. Again cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. This will reduce and absorb quite quickly. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the onions, and let warm through, about a minute. Spoon over mixed lettuce and garnish with more fresh dill. Serve immediately.

We really enjoyed this dish and I’m going to add this as a choice for the food bowls we do for lunch. Hopefully I’ll have better choice with the mushrooms.

Mushroom and Feta

Mushrooms flavoured with thyme and dill, accompanied by feta over lettuce.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Mushroom and Feta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup bulger wheat
  • boiling water, enough to cover the bulger wheat
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sliced mixed mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups mixed lettuce

Instructions

  1. Place the bulger wheat into a bowl and cover with boiling water until the water is an inch over the wheat. The bulger wheat will expand by quite a bit. Keep covered by a tea towel until all the water is absorbed.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet and add the onion. Cook until it starts to soften and caramelise. Should take about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. Cook, careful not to burn, until they are nicely browned. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside.

  3. If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Heat on high and add the mushrooms. Because the olive oil has a low smoke point, keep an eye on it and lower to medium-high if it starts to catch. When the mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for a few minutes.

  4. Add the thyme and the rest of the cumin seeds. Stir well and again cook for a few minutes.

  5. Add the balsamic vinegar while stirring. This will reduce and absorb quickly. Add all the other ingredients including the onion mixture. Allow it to warm through.

  6. To serve, divide the lettuce between 2 plates, top with the mushroom mixture and garnish with fresh dill.

Mushroom Leek Pie

I’ve been on a bit of a vegetarian kick lately when I’ve been looking for new recipes. I came across a Mushroom Leek Pie with a creamy gravy, though Attachment Mummy’s recipe was vegan. I’ve no problem, obviously, with vegan dishes but I’m not a fan of dairy substitutes so I decided to go just with vegetarian for this dish. And since the hill towns in our area saw snow this week, comfort food is all the range round here!

We did manage to start to get some plants in that won’t do well in frost. I may have been tempting fate but we’ll see. We’re going to have a bed for edible flowers and then a bed for cut flowers. Any suggestions for what to plant would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, if all goes well this summer there will be some recipes inspired by the edible flower bed.

Technique for Mushroom Leek Pie

Chop up all the ingredients. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and mushrooms.

Depending on how much butter the mushrooms soak up, you may need to add more butter when it comes time to make the roux. They can be quite the sponges!

When the mushrooms start to brown add the oregano and leeks. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and mustard.

I like my gravies in pies to be thick so I added the 1/3 cup of flour. If you don’t like it overly thick go with a 1/4 cup. The mixture will get thick and a bit stiff. Stir while cooking for a few minutes then add the white wine. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil while stirring. You don’t want a roiling boil and keep an eye as it can boil over quickly if you aren’t paying attention. Add the parmesan cheese.

Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. You want to make sure the mustard and oregano come through the milk. Make up the pastry and roll out thinly. Spoon the mushroom and leek mixture into ramekins. Cover with the pastry. Use a knife to pierce the top and brush milk all over.

Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is flaky and golden brown.

Serve immediately. If you save some of this for another day, go with the 1/4 cup flour as it does get even thicker as leftovers.

Mushroom Leek Pie

A creamy pie with a lovely flaky crust.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Mushroom Leek Pie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour 70g
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Mushroom Leek Filling

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-8 mushrooms (depending on size), sliced
  • 1 cup chopped leek
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Pastry

  1. Using a pastry fork or fingers, blend the butter, salt and flour until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs.

  2. Add the water bit by bit to the mixture, using your fingers to incorporate the water into the pastry. You may need more than 2 tbsp but add water until the dough comes together.

  3. Roll out thinly and using a cookie cutter, cut to the size you need.

Mushroom Leek Filling

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the leeks and oregano. Cook for a few minutes.

  2. Add the flour and mustard. Stir while it cooks for a few minutes so the flour is cooked thoroughly.

  3. Add the white wine then season with sea salt and pepper. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Don't have it a rapid boil or it will boil over. To finish add the parmesan cheese.

Constructing the pie

  1. Fill four ramekins with the filling. Top with the cut pastry. Use a knife to put slits in the pastry and then brush the pastry with milk.

  2. Bake at 400F/200C until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

I’ve discovered, in our local co-op, a sweet potato called Hannah Sweet Potato (sometimes called a yam) which has a lovely flavour without being overly earthy like the normal sweet potato. I found a recipe for Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato by Simply Quinoa that looked interesting. Something easily adaptable to what I had on hand.

I was struck, as I made this while watching the rain come down for weeks on end, how lucky we are to have readily available ingredients. If we have a bad season in the garden it isn’t make or break. I’ve been watching Wartime Farm on YouTube which is a documentary about what the farmers had to go through in the UK during WWII. The historians living as they did in the ’40’s struggled with the wet weather. During wartime it would be catastrophic. If you like history and/or homesteading, it’s a fascinating 8 part series.

I do wonder how many people would thrive or survive in those conditions now. We live in a time of buying one use items, fast food, fast fashion etc. I do hope the trend of getting back to basics continues. There are a lot of skills that shouldn’t be lost.

Technique for Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

Here is my version of this dish based on what we had and what we like. But that’s the beauty of this dish, very versatile.

Roast the sweet potatoes and cook the quinoa according to the directions. Rinse the black beans and drain. Chop the veg. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet.

Start by sautéing the garlic, scallions and mushrooms.

Add the beans and corn. Cook for several minutes as the corn is frozen when tossed in. Add the spices and lime juice.

Near the end of cooking add the pepper. I always add the pepper so it just cooks but still stays crunchy. I really don’t like mushy peppers.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through cut them in half. Combine the quinoa, tomatoes and veg together. Spoon over the potatoes and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Add a dollop of sour cream and serve.

It’s a very inexpensive, very filling and very tasty meal.

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

An inexpensive flavourful vegetarian meal.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 2 Hannah sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and cooked
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp habanero flakes optional
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream to top

Instructions

  1. Bake the sweet potato at 400F/200C in the oven until tender. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sautè the garlic, mushrooms and scallions for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the beans and corn along with the spices, lime juice and cilantro. Cook for several minutes then add the pepper.

  4. Once the potatoes are cooked, slice them in half. Combine the veg, quinoa and tomato then spoon over the potato halves. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Serve while hot.

Tabouli Salad and Resolutions

We’ve forgotten what the sun looks like in our area. Mother Nature has taken the April Showers bit very seriously, enough to continue into May. Really hope there will be a plethora of flowers soon! Even though the weather calls for a lot of comfort food, sometimes bright light food lets me pretend it’s a lovely spring. Tabouli Salad fits the bill with the fresh ingredients and flavour.

I’m not one for resolutions. We all know how long they can last, we’re lucky if it’s the end of January. But after several years of working on my mental health, injuries, etc, it was time to work on the physical stuff and lose the weight I gained from meds I was on. A big key was doing food bowls with various healthy choices to mix and match so I wouldn’t get bored. Tabouli salad is a great addition to this.

For this version I went heavy on the bulger wheat as some of the ingredients are quite strong and if I was going to be in a small cubicle with clients I couldn’t have dragon breath. I mean, dragons are cool if you are in Games of Thrones but not when you want clients to come back. The recipe will reflect the usual balance rather than what is shown in the photos.

Technique for Tabouli Salad

The bulger wheat needs to be prepped first. You can either boil the wheat for 12-15 minutes or add boiling water to the wheat, cover and let steam for 45 minutes. I tried both ways and they work but the steaming gives it a better texture.

Add the wheat to a bowl and add boiling water until it’s about 1/2in/1.5cm above the wheat. Cover with a tea towel and let steam for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

While the wheat is steaming prep the fresh ingredients. I used parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint and scallions. You can add other ingredients such as celery or garlic. For the tomatoes discard the seed pulp. Chop all the ingredients into small bits. Mix the dressing and toss the ingredients and set aside until the wheat is ready.


Rinse the bulger wheat with cold water and drain. Toss with the other ingredients. It’s ready to serve but when not serving keep it covered and chilled in the fridge.

I enjoyed it with a soft boiled egg and smoked salad. Brain food!

Tabouli Salad

A fresh flavourful salad is a great choice for dinner or food bowls.

Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Tabouli Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Bulger Wheat

  • 1 cup bulger wheat, coarse
  • Boiling water, enough to cover wheat

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions

Bulger Wheat

  1. Boil water.  Pour over the wheat until it’s covered by about 1/2in/1.5cm.  Cover with a tea towel and let stand for 45 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.  Rinse with cold water and drain.

Fresh Ingredients and Dressing

  1. Mix the fresh ingredients and dressing together.  Set aside until the wheat is cooked and drained.  Toss everything together.  It is ready to serve.  Store in the fridge covered.  

Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

It’s official, our daughter has chosen where she is going to university, deposits paid, and so begins the journey. We’re excited for her but will miss her very much. It’s time though, she’s ready to fly. Now that tax season is over we’ll be going over any gaps in her knowledge with recipes, budgeting, etc. She actually is pretty good with this stuff but she has a list of things she wants to make sure she knows. Trust me, we are not sending our kids out into the world without knowing how to write a check or do laundry.

A big thing as she heads out into the world is knowing how to cook cheap and delicious meals. The kids had mentioned an idea of Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese that they were playing round with at the other house which would fit the bill. As it is a cool and rainy spring, we’re still in the comfort food season which makes this meal perfect.

Making the Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

This can definitely be made on the cheap. Use chicken thighs instead of breast, lemon juice instead of white wine, etc.

Marinate the chicken a few hours beforehand. Whisk the ingredients together and add the chicken. Cover and chill in the fridge.

Grill the chicken until just cooked. It will then be cooked more in a skillet and oven so you don’t want to end up with rubbery chicken. It’s bad enough as a strange toy but awful when eating! I discovered I was out of propane for the grill so inside it was. We use our cast iron griddle constantly. Pity it’s so heavy!

While making the sauce cook up the pasta. Melt the butter and add the onion. Cook until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic and mustard. Bring to a simmer, careful not to let it catch. Add the flour and whisk thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes while whisking, Then add the remaining marinade, wine and milk. Keep stirring until it comes to a boil but don’t boil over! With milk it can happen in a blink which creates quite a mess.

In goes the cheese, chicken (cubed) and ham. Simmer until the cheese has melted and you have a creamy thick mixture.

Pour into the baking pan with the pasta and mix well. Top with panko bread crumbs.

Bake until the top is nice and golden.

It is ready to serve as soon as it is out of the oven. We did carb overload with fresh baked bread my husband made. It’s so good with butter! It went quickly as I found when I went to have some for lunch and it was all gone!

Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

Comfort food with a twist.  Grilled chicken with corden bleu flavours.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Marinade and Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast 16oz/454g
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Mac and Cheese

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp brown mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 2 cups shredded jarlsberg cheese
  • 3-5 slices ham, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta
  • Panko Bread crumbs to cover top

Instructions

Marinade and Chicken

  1. Whisk the ingredients together.  Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  Coat and cover the chicken with the marinade and chill in the fridge for a few hours. 

  2. When it’s time to make the dish, grill the chicken until just done.  Cube and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/175C

  2. Cook the pasta

  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic, mustard and sea salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes then add the flour to create the roux.  Cook additional few minutes.  Add the remaining marinade, wine and milk.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Next add the chicken and ham.  

  4. Add the pasta and sauce to a baking dish.  Top with the panko bread crumbs. 

  5. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden.  Then serve.  

Spiced Candied Bacon

The inspiration for Spiced Candied Bacon struck as we were on a little escape to see Mumford and Sons in Providence, Rhode Island. I was at a loss of what to blog about this week as the show was this past Wednesday night, the night I usually cook something up for my blog. The bar at the hotel came to the rescue! We ordered a charcuterie plate that had some candied bacon. It was so good with a hint of spiciness. I just had to make it.

For my husband’s birthday, our kids bought him a ticket to Mumford and Sons. The band is amazing live. Great harmonies, fantastic music and they just interact with the audience really well. A fabulous break from the dull winter.

Technique for Spiced Candied Bacon

Mix the dry rub ingredients together. For this recipe I used 2 tablespoons of brown sugar but if you want it less sweet, you can reduce the sugar by up to a tablespoon. Or increase the spices. You just need to make sure you have enough rub for the bacon.

Evenly coat the bacon and then bake on convection/fan. Keep an eye on this as you don’t want it suddenly to get overly crispy. It takes 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness. Set aside when done.

As it’s probably not a good idea, though they wouldn’t protest, to just feed your kids bacon I made a southwest veg topping with panko crusted chicken and pepper jack cheesy potato and parsnip mash. I cooked up corn, mushrooms, onion, garlic and pepper with a bit of chicken stock, habenero flakes, lime zest, chili powder and cumin.

Layer the mash, chicken, veg and the bacon and serve. I’ll definitely be making this bacon again. It’s so easy to do and would go with so many different kinds of dishes. Thank goodness for inspiration!

Spiced Candied Bacon

A quick and easy recipe balancing heat and sweet for entrees and starters.  

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Southwest
Keyword Spiced Candied Bacon
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 8 Streaky bacon rashers
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • zest from half a lime
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp habanero flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 350F/175C.

  2. Mix the dry ingredients well then coat the bacon rashers.  Lay out the bacon on a metal cooling rack and place that onto a baking rack.  Bake for 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t crisp up too much.  

  3. Serve with entrees or starters, or by itself!

Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

Unlike these Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes I made, blogging consistently the first few months of the year doesn’t seem to be my jam! With the craziness of tax season and the inevitable germ fest I get caught up in, life just gets nutty and I always seem behind. I realised it had gotten bad when I had only managed one journal entry for this month in my bullet journal.

I had this past Sunday off and it was time for grooving to good music and bake in the kitchen. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was wonderful to take a break from the stress and just enjoy myself. On deck was the Fruit Cake that my husband loves. But I wanted to make another treat for him. He loves Jaffa Cakes and it’s one the of treats his mum packs when she visits. I get the McCoys and he gets Jaffa Cakes, it’s lovely! His mum had clipped a recipe for Jaffa Cakes from the iNews paper for us. I made a few adjustments to the recipe because I wanted to use blood oranges and it calls for 40g of butter, which is great except it said to set aside 30ml for the recipe and use the remainder for greasing the muffin tin. There wasn’t any extra butter so I used spray oil.

Technique for Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes:

This is not a difficult recipe to make but it is time consuming so it’s a perfect weekend bake.

The Jelly:

Such a gorgeous red.

Squeeze the two oranges and set aside. Combine the water, sugar and orange peel in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liquid has reduced about 50%. This will take 10 or 15 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a bowl.

Add the gelatin powder and stir until fully incorporated. Make sure the syrup is still quite warm. I found it cooled off too quickly and didn’t incorporate fully. It still worked but at the end the centre was more set than the edges. So make sure you can keep it warm enough.

Pour then orange juice into the syrup and mix well.

Line a 18cm/8in square pan with cling film and strain the mixture into the pan.

Chill in the fridge for at least two hours so it sets properly.

Baking the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Brown the butter in a small saucepan.

This part can be tricky. The butter can quickly go from a golden colour to full on brown. Don’t panic, as long as it doesn’t taste burnt and keeps the toasted, nutty flavour. Let the butter cool while getting the other ingredients together.

Sift the sugar and flour together.

Using a whisk, incorporate the almond flour and orange zest into the flour and sugar.

Lightly beat the egg whites. Add that along with the salt and butter. Mix well with the whisk.

Spoon the batter into a 12 hole muffin tin that has been lightly greased. Bake 9-12 minutes until golden round the edges and is springy to the touch. Cool completely before turning the cakes out.

Place the jelly with the cling film on the counter and using a 4cm/1 1/2in cookie cutter. Place the cut jelly onto the centre of each cake.

Melt the chocolate and spoon it over the top of the cakes.

Let the chocolate set and enjoy! The only bad thing about this recipe is that it only makes 12 cakes!

Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

A traditional recipe with a twist.  

Course Dessert
Cuisine English
Keyword Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 12 minutes
Servings 12
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Blood Orange Jelly

  • 60 grams caster sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • orange zest from 1 blood orange
  • 1 packet powdered gelatine
  • 100 ml blood orange juice

Cake

  • 40 grams browned butter
  • 60 grams icing/powdered sugar
  • 20 grams all purpose flour
  • 40 grams ground almonds or almond flour
  • orange zest from 1 blood orange
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • a pinch of salt

Chocolate to top the cake

  • 120 grams dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

Blood Orange Jelly

  1. Bring the water, sugar and orange zest to a boil.  Simmer until the liquid has reduced 50%.  Takes about 10-15 minutes.  

  2. Strain the syrup into a bowl and add the gelatine.  Mix until dissolved.  Add the blood orange juice.  Line a 18cm/8 in square pan with cling film.  Strain the mixture into the pan.  Chill for 2 hours.  

Making the cake

  1. Preheat the oven 190C/375F.

    Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

  2. Brown the butter and let cool.

  3. Sift the sugar and flour together.  Whisk in the almond flour and orange zest. Add the egg whites, salt and browned butter.  Using the whisk, incorporate the ingredients well.  

  4. Spoon the batter evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

  5. Bake 9-12 minutes until the edges are golden and the sponge is springy to the touch.  Allow to cool completely before turning out of the muffin tin.

Assembling the Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

  1. Using the 4cm/1 1/2in cookie cutter, cut out the jelly and place on the cakes. Melt the chocolate and spoon over the cakes.  Let set and serve.  

Cider Sage Pork

Just like any food blogger that has been doing this for several years, I find inspiration and motivation for new recipes ebbs and flows. I love it when it flows, no surprise there but when life gets crazy the brain cramping definitely increases. When the imagination is sparking I make lists but sometimes ideas show themselves when you aren’t paying attention.

I was in the queue waiting to pay for my weekly food shop and I spied a magazine with a pork dish on the cover. The title for it said Cider Sage Pork. If the magazine wasn’t $10 then it would have left the rack and been perused. But it stayed. I figured I could come up with my own recipe and keep the $10!

Sweet apple is lovely with garlic and sage

We’re lucky that our co-op carries delicious sweet apples like gala or pink lady. First thing is to prepare the marinade so the pork loin can marinate for several hours. If you don’t have the time, try to marinate for at least an hour. Give the pork a chance to take on the lovely flavours. The cider I used was apple cranberry as there was a special on and I’d thought it would be fun to add the tang of cranberry to this dish. But obviously regular cider works. I should also note, the cider is non-acoholic, not the hard cider.


When it is time to cook dinner, finely chop the apple, onion, garlic and sage. Set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/175C. In a skillet, heat up the olive oil and brown all sides of the pork loin.

Finish off the pork in the oven while making the sauce. Add the onion, garlic and apple to the skillet. Cook for several minutes until the onion starts to become translucent.

Add the remaining marinade and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and add the mustard, sage and thyme. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Simmer the sauce to reduce by a third. When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and let is rest for 8-10 minutes.

To serve, slice the pork loin and top with the sauce. To keep the dish light we had roasted potatoes and corn as sides.

I was very happy to find this inspiration while patiently waiting in a queue. I’m definitely keeping my eyes open!

Cider Sage Pork

A flavourful pork loin with apple cider, onion, and sage.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Cider Sage Pork
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork loin (about a pound/16oz

Marinade

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cranberry cider 4oz
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (used to brown the pork)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 4oz
  • marinade used for the pork
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1-2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Marinade

  1. Mix the ingredients together and marinate the pork for several hours in the fridge.  If you are pressed for time, marinate for at least an hour.  

Pork Loin

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown all sides of the pork and finish cooking in the oven.  Once cooked, rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing.

Sauce

  1. In the skillet with the olive oil used to cook the pork, add the onion, garlic and apple over medium heat.  Cook until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the marinade and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the sage, thyme and mustard.  Season with sea salt and pepper. Simmer until the sauce reduces by a third.  

Serving

  1. Slice the pork and top with the sauce.