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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Recipe - Chicken Meatloaves

Serves 6-8

- 750g chicken breast
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup dried parsley
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp unpasteurized honey
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp four spice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Coat 4 mini loaf pans with cooking spray, or brush lightly with olive oil. Set aside.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into small cubes and transfer to your food processor. Using the pulse setting, process the meat until it’s completely ground.

3. Transfer the ground chicken meat to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until very well combined.

4. Remove the stems off the mini-peppers, cut them in half and remove the seeds, if any. Place the peppers in a broiler pan and drizzle them with a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

5. Divide that chicken mixture between your reserved loaf pans and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top is nice and golden brown. Note that if you choose to do a single loaf instead, it might require a little longer cooking time.

6. Remove meat loaves from oven and set to cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pans.

7. Slice each loaf into 6-8 slices and serve immediately.


Recipe - Orange and Cranberry Cheesecake

Serves 10

You will need:
23cm springform tin, oiled and the sides lined with baking parchment.

- 100g butter
- 225g chocolate digestive biscuits, crushed
- 800g full-fat soft cheese
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 150g caster sugar
- 4 oranges
- 2tsp orange essence
- pinch of salt
- For the topping
- 2tsp cornflour
- 300g cranberries
- 50g sugar


1. Heat the oven to 150ºC / 130ºC fan / 300F / gas 2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Mix with the crushed biscuits, press into the base of the tin and chill.

2. Beat the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, orange zest, orange essence and salt until smooth. Pour over the base then cook in the oven for 55 minutes or until there's a slight wobble but it's firm at the edges. Remove and carefully run a knife around the edge to prevent cracking. Return to the switched-off oven to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

3. To make the topping, mix the cornflour with 2tbsp water, pour into the pan with the cranberries and sugar. Heat gently for 10 minutes until the fruit has softened. Set aside to cool.

4. To serve, pile the cranberries on top of the cheesecake.


Recipe - Turkey Meat Pie, a healthy Christmas alternative

Makes 2 pies - 10 servings each

Nutritional information based on 20 servings: Carbs 27.3g | Fat 7.9g | Protein 20.4g


- 1½ cup spelt flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white

- 2 whole turkey legs, skin removed
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp grounded black pepper
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- About 6-8 cups water


- 750g turkey breast meat, ground
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp grounded black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground clove
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup dried parsley
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- The juice of one orange
- 2 cups cooking liquid from above turkey legs (or water)
- ¾ cup raw buckwheat groats
- 200 grams chestnuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dried prunes, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

For the crust

1. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside;

2. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, buttermilk and egg; pour this over reserved flour mixture. Stir lightly with your fingers until the ingredients come together to form a fairly smooth dough. If your dough is too soft, add extra flour until you reach the desired consistency. Your dough should be soft, slightly tacky, but not sticky.

3. You will now have to divide that dough into 3 unequal pieces: one which will be approximately ¼ of the recipe; then divide the rest in half to get your other two pieces.

4. Form each piece into a thick disc and wrap individually with plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you work on the filling (or at least 30 minutes).

For the filling
5. Coat a large, heavy pan generously with cooking spray or olive oil and heat over very high heat.

6. While this is happening, mix all the spices together in a large plate. Dredge the chicken legs in that spice mixture making sure that all sides are well coated.

7. Add the legs to the hot pan and sear them nice and good on both sides, until a nice crust forms, about 3-4 minutes per side.

8. Transfer the legs to a large stock pot, cover with water and add the leftover spices that didn’t get used to coat the turkey legs.

9. Bring that to a boil then lower heat, cover partly and simmer until meat falls loose from the bones, about 2½ to 3 hours.

10. Remove the legs from their cooking liquid (but do not discard it) and allow them to cool for a while, until you can safely handle them and remove all the meat from the bones. Discard bones; set meat and cooking liquid aside in separate containers.

11. Cut the turkey breast into small cubes and grind it in 2-3 batches in your food processor, on pulse, until it has the consistency of ground meat.

12. In a large saucepan, cook the onion over medium high heat until it takes a slight golden coloration and becomes fragrant. Add spices (from salt to rosemary) and ground turkey meat and continue cooking until meat turns completely opaque. Add orange juice, vanilla extract and 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

13. Cover loosely and simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 30 minutes.

14. Add meat from turkey legs, another cup of cooking liquid (or water) and resume cooking, stirring from time to time, until meat starts to fall apart and once again, liquid is almost completely gone.

15. Add buckwheat groats, apricots, prunes and chestnuts, as well as another cup and a half of cooking liquid (or water). Resume cooking until all water is absorbed and groats are fully cooked. Stir in pistachios and set aside to cool.

16. Preheat oven to 200ºC

17. On a floured surface, roll out the 2 larger dough balls to form a 25-27 cm disc. Fit into two 22cm deep pie dishes and let excess hang to the sides.

18. Divide meat filling between the two pies and fold excess dough back over the meat.

19. Roll final piece of dough on a floured surface and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter of your choice. Arrange cookie cut-outs in a pretty fashion around the crust and/or in the middle of the pie. To insure proper sticking, you may brush the back of your cut-outs with a tiny bit of water or milk.

20. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust gets really nice and golden brown.

21. Serve immediately… or on Christmas night!


DIY - Christmas Tree

What to do:
1. Lay out four of the five pieces of white foamcore vertically, two up and two down, to form a larger rectangle.

2. Place fifth piece of foamcore at the top of the newly-formed rectangle, horizontally. Make sure that top piece is centered.

3. Using duct tape, attach all the pieces together to form one giant piece. Add a few layers of duct tape on both sides, along the creases. NOTE: Black tape are used in the photos so you can see where its been placed. Your duct tape will be white to blend in with the white boards.

4. Map out the size and shape of your tree with painter's tape or masking tape. Make sure your tape is secure to you boards before moving on to step three.

5. Your tape lines will now serve as a straight edge. You can use a yard stick instead if you'd like, but the tape actually works really well on it's own. Using your cutter, carefully cut your Christmas tree shape.

6. Once your Christmas tree is cut, you are ready to start creating the tree fringe with tissue paper. Cut a full sheet of tissue paper in half. Take one of your half sheets and fold it into thirds, so you create a really long rectangle with three layers. Now it's time to let the fringe begin.

7. Using your fringe scissors, cut fringe, leaving about one inch of room at the top. You will be making a lot of these sheets. Starting at the very bottom of your tree and working your way up, you can now start gluing your fringe.

8. Flip your fringe over, add a bead of glue across the length of the top (where you left that extra inch of non-fringe). And attach to the bottom of your tree. You'll want the very bottom layer to hang off the end of the board so that it can cover your tree trunk, which you'll add later.

9. Depending on how large your make your tree, you will most likely need two fringe strips for each line toward the bottom of the tree.

10. Start your next layer (the second line of fringe) a little higher than the one below it. You want to cover the non-fringey area from below, but just barely. Continue this process until you've covered your tree all the way to the top.

11. Once dry, flip your tree over so the back is upwards. Glue any overhang to the back.

12. Attach a picture frame hook as well, so it is ready for hanging.

13. To create the tree trunk, cut a scrap piece of foamcore into a stubby rectangle that is roughly one fourth the length of the bottom of your tree. Cover in brown craft paper and then cut small fringe strips, just like you did with the tissue paper, with recycled grocery bags. Secure fringe to trunk with glue.

14. Attach trunk to tree with duct tape on both sides (front and back), which will be covered by your tree fringe in the front.

What you need:

- 5 pieces of 20x30 white foamcore or mat board
- fringe scissors
- regular scissors
- tissue paper (at least 30 sheets)
- painter's tape or masking tape
- duct tape (white preferably)
- one bottle of craft glue
- cutter
- marker or Sharpie (optional)
- picture frame hook

Estimated time needed: 1hour 30 minutes plus drying


DIY - Christmas Decorations

What to do:
1. Cut CDs into various small shapes and sizes. It's not the simplest material to cut through, but can be done with a decent pair of scissors.

2. Glue a small dot onto the ornament and press a piece of mosaic on top with the shiny side facing up. Be sure to wipe away any remaining glue from the glue gun. It is much easier to clean as you go then to wait until the end.

3. Continue gluing until the entire ornament is covered. Tip: You can also place the ornament on top of a small cup to hold in place as you glue.

4. Place some ribbon inside the ornament. Since you can see through the glass ornament, this will cover up the glue dots on the inside and the back side of the CD pieces. Tip: Use bright ribbon to add some extra color.

What you need:
1. Glass ornament
2. CDs (choose ones that are silver underneath and not blue/purple. It takes about 1½ to make 1 ornament)
3. Ribbon
4. Scissors
5. Glue gun

Estimated time needed:
30 minutes plus drying


DIY - Santa Hat Chair Covers

What to do:
1. Measure your chair. You need to know how wide it is (at it's widest) and then how tall the back section is. Make sure that it reaches down to about 5cm above the seat section of the chair.

2. Cut the main rectangle shape of your covers to be about 48cm wide and 46cm tall and top edge to have a triangle shape (for the santa hat look), to make about 25cm tall from the top point, down to where the main rectangle shape begins.

3. Then, cut out 2 of these shapes, but add a 1cm on all sides (except for the bottom).

4. Then place them together (with right sides together if you have a fabric with a "right" side) and sewed along all of the edges except for the bottom, using a 1cm seam allowance.

5. Then trim off the 3 points, then turn it right side out and ironed flat (not too hot).

6. Sewed a straight line across the top of the chair cover, right where the triangle shape and the rectangle shape meet. This will keep the chair cover in place and will stop the cover from sliding down the chair.

7. Then, cut a 6cm wide piece of white felt that is the same width as the bottom of the chair cover, plus a 1cm at each end, for the seam allowance.

8. Sewed the two ends together with a 1cm seam allowance then turn it right side out and slipped it on around the bottom edge of the seat cover. (Place the side seam of the white strip right on top of one of the side seams of the seat cover.)

9. Match up the two bottom edges of the white strip and the seat cover and sewed the two layers together, using a 0.5cm seam allowance. Sewed another seam along the top edge of the white strip as well.

10. Cut long strips of the white felt, about 0.8cm. Cut those long strips up into about 10cm long pieces.Use about 45-50 little strips per pom-pom.

11. Wrap a long piece of the upholstery thread around the middle of the felt strips and pull tight. Then wrap a few more times and knotted it several times. Then, fluff up the pieces and it turned into more of a pom-pom shape.

12. You can either hand-stitch each pom-pom to the tip of each hat or you can hot glue it.

What you need:
- red polyester felt (the amount you need, depends on the size of your chairs)
- white polyester felt (the amount you need, depends on the size of your chairs)
- white thread
- hot glue (optional)
- sewing machine
- scissors
- iron
- measuring tape

Estimated time needed: 1hour