Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

Chocolate-s

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

Actually, my husband! But even Ben loves this cake, declaring it ‘the best chocolate cake he has ever tasted’.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy, moist chocolate cake recipe that can be whipped up as easily as a packet mix but with so much more flavour and goodness – this is it.

It really is as simple as throwing the ingredients in a bowl, mixing together, placing in the oven and baking. Kids and non-cooks will have success with this recipe. So yummy. So easy.

The cake is dense and fudge-y. You could serve it plain, or dust a little icing sugar over the top, but for a real celebration the ganache frosting totally rocks. In fact it dresses up this simple cake so much that suddenly it could be a special occasion cake, a dessert cake, a fancy cake…

I’ve made this very successfully with gluten-free flour too. This recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:

Cake: 1 cup of plain flour (can be wheat flour or gluten-free), 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 pinch of salt, 1 cup of soft brown sugar – lightly packed, 1 large egg, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Chocolate Ganache: 200 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa is great!), 200 grams of cream, 1 tablespoon of honey

 

Method for Cake:

Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa together in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and then mix until combined. Don’t over-beat. You can mix by hand or with a mixer (I dump everything in my Kitchenaid and beat on low speed for a minute or so). The mixture will be thick, and it will seem like the cake can never rise. Don’t panic about that. It will.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Method for Ganache:

Place cream in a saucepan and heat until warm (not boiling). You should be able to stick your finger into the cream without burning yourself. Turn off heat. Break or cut chocolate into small pieces. Add to warm cream and leave to sit for a minute or two until melting. Stir to combine and then add honey and stir once more. Leave ganache to cool until it is thick but still spreadable. You can speed this process by placing ganache in fridge for ten minutes.

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Spread ganache thickly over top of cake. Decorate with sprinkles or other adornments if desired.

Store covered in fridge or a cool place and eat within three days. This cake also freezes well.

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Black Sticky Rice Pudding Recipe – Gluten Free, Vegan, Yum!

black sticky rice

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ”
~ Mich Ehrenborg

 

This is truly one of those comfort-in-a-bowl dishes. Black sticky rice pudding is popular in Thailand and parts of Asia. It can be eaten warm or cold, and makes a delicious dessert, but it’s equally good for breakfast or as a snack.

To serve I use a splodge of coconut cream or coconut yogurt, some fresh seasonal fruit, and sometimes a handful of nuts or seeds as well. It’s endlessly versatile.

Black sticky rice pudding is a great recipe – gluten free, dairy free, vegan and full of fibre, anti-oxidants and nurture-y goodness.  Black rice is a source of amino acids, iron, zinc, copper and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is great for supporting and nurturing the liver and kidneys, two organs/energy centres that get very depleted during times of stress, illness or depression.  It’s great food for people with burnout or adrenal fatigue as it is warm and easy to digest.  Coconut is also good for low thyroid function and boosting slow metabolisms.

I usually make double this quantity and keep some in the fridge.  I reheat in a saucepan with a little extra water, but if you are a microwave user, I guess you could go there…

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Ingredients

1 cup of black glutinous rice (you can find this in most Asian grocery stores or good supermarkets), 2.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar, salt, vanilla essence, 1 cup of coconut milk/cream

Note – If you are sugar-free use Natvia, stevia or your favourite sugar substitute.

Method

Soak the rice overnight (or at least 6 hours)  in the water in a ceramic or glass dish. It’s really important to soak your rice well, so please don’t skimp on that part of the cooking process. The water will go a nice shade of purple – try not to get it on you as it will stain some fabrics. Many people suggest you discard the soaking water, rinse and start over, but then you’d lose many of the minerals and anti-oxidants that have leached from the water overnight.

Transfer to a suitable saucepan and place on the heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook for a further half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.  You need to play this by ear a bit, as you might need to add a little more water and cook longer. It all depends on the rice.

Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of  coconut milk/cream, then sugar to taste. Add in a splash of vanilla essence too. I use about 2 heaped tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you prefer it sweeter, add more.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes until the rice is thick and pudding like. (I sometimes omit the coconut milk as a variation, which gives a nuttier flavour.)

Cool slightly and then serve in bowls with the remaining coconut milk/cream drizzled over the top.  Sliced banana or tropical fruits such as papaya or mango are also good.  In winter I may use berries.  Right now I am using a big dollop of coconut yoghurt (yoghurt made on coconut milk!) from a company called Co Yo, which is divine.

If I have made a less-sweet pudding, I will sometimes also add a sprinkle of palm sugar or a dash of maple syrup when serving.

Enjoy ♥

sticky rice 3

sticky rice pudding

 

 

Green Goodness Sauce Recipe

green sauce

“She pulls on her heavy boots and carries the water bucket past the rose bushes, past the herb garden, and back to the barn behind the house. Her steps kick up the scents of herbs: thyme, mint, and lemon balm. The plants send up new stems each year from the roots that survived the winter and grew up again along the path. The perfumed walk is a mystical part of her world. Walking here is her favorite part of mornings. Sometimes, this is the highlight of her day.”
J.J. Brown

 

One of the simple pleasures of my life is to grab a handful of herbs from one of the pots or vegetable gardens at my back door to use in our evening meal.

This green sauce recipe takes just a minute or two to whiz together, and it elevates all kinds of meals to a new level of yum.

The sauce itself is vegan. It’s also sugar, dairy and gluten free.

I love the versatility of this sauce. I often use it as a dip with chopped up vegetables, or I fold it through a little yogurt (use coconut yogurt if you’re dairy free) for a creamier version – it’s also good with chunks of fresh bread or crackers.

You can spoon this sauce over steamed or baked vegetables, toss it through a bowl of pasta, add it at the end of a risotto dish, or serve it with fish, chicken or any kind of meat.

It’s a fabulous accompaniment to barbeques. I’ve even used it as a salad dressing.

I’ve given you this recipe base upon parsley and basil, but you can experiment with whatever other soft herbs and edible leaves, including bitter greens, you have to hand. Just a caution on bitter greens – use only 1/4 to 1/2 of your total herbs as bitter ones or the sauce becomes a bit too bitey. This recipe makes about a jar’s worth of sauce.

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Ingredients:

An equal-ish mix of parsley and basil leaves to make three cups. (If you have a little mint, thyme, chives or dill feel free to chuck a bit of that in too!) Up to three cloves of garlic. Juice and zest of one lemon, a tablespoon of gherkins, a tablespoon of capers, up to one half cup of extra virgin olive oil, pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper, half (or one small) red salad onion.

Method:

Tear the leaves off the basil and add in the tops of the parsley. It’s okay for there to be some parsley stalk – don’t be too particular. Rinse if necessary.

Keep one cup of leaves aside and chop roughly. Dump the other two cups in a food processor or blender.

Add the peeled garlic, gherkins, capers, lemon zest and juice and 1/4 cup of oil in your processor or blender.

Whiz until combined and smooth.

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Spoon the green sauce into a bowl.

Add the chopped herbs and finely diced red onion to the sauce and stir to combine. This gives a lovely contrast of textures. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

If there is any sauce left over it will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to one week.

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The vegan version – green sauce spooned over roasted cauliflower and sweet potato with a fresh garden salad.

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The meat-arian version – green sauce served over barbecued sausages with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato with a fresh garden salad.

green sauce

 

(Tip – if you have sausages left over, use them the next day in pasta – slice sausages and add to the green sauce then stir through pasta)

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Easy Mango Mousse #dairyfree #glutenfree #vegan #yum #paleo

vegan mango mousse

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
~ Susan Polis Schutz

 

Mangoes are finally in season here in Australia. This is a super-easy and yummy mango mousse that tastes of summer and is something you can make all year round, even if you can’t access fresh mango. I’ve made this before with frozen mango and canned mango too. Perfect if it’s winter in your neck of the woods but you’re craving a little sunshine.

I’ve adjusted an old recipe of mine that called for cream and loads of sugar, and converted it to a recipe that is dairy-free and refined sugar-free. You can make this as a vegan or a paleo dessert – and it’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast!

All you need to make this is a blender.

Ingredients:

270ml can of coconut cream – chilled (or use one cup), cheeks of three fresh mangoes, or the drained contents of an 800 gram can of mangoes or 2 cups of frozen mangoes, 1 tablespoon of agar agar (or use 1 tablespoon of gelatin if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian – this is a great option if you follow a paleo diet), 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice – natvia is a favourite of mine for sugar-free but coconut sugar also gives a great flavour (if you’re not vegan you could also use honey), a squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice if you have no limes!

Method:

Chill the can of coconut cream in the fridge for an hour or two or until when you shake it there is no liquid sloshing. If you’re in a cold climate it may already be like this at room temperature, but you need your coconut cream cold or it won’t whip.

Slice up your mango flesh or drain canned mangoes.

Soak your agar agar in 1/3 cup of water so it swells. Do the same if you are using gelatin. It’s fine to use the juice from canned mangoes or any squeezed pulp if you prefer.

mango1

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Place the chilled coconut cream (omit any liquid), mango flesh and agar agar mixture (or gelatin) into a blender or food processor. Whip on high speed until combined and fluffy. The time for this will vary depending on the speed of your motor, but really it should only take a minute or two.

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Now taste your mixture. Some mangoes are so sweet that they will need little extra sweetening. Add the quarter cup of sweetener (less if you feel it only needs a touch) and the squeeze of lime to freshen the flavour, pulse or blend quickly to combine and then taste again and add more sweetener if necessary until you are happy with the levels.

Pour into individual serving dishes or one larger bowl and refrigerate til set. You’ll need at least one hour for this.

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You can eat the mousse on its own, or garnish with more mango pieces. It’s also fabulous with a side of gelato or ice-cream, or a few gingersnaps.

I had a friend coming for dinner and I wanted to make pretty, so I chose a dollop of coconut yoghurt, some grated dark chocolate and a few fresh blueberries as my garnish. The nasturtium flowers made it feel completely celebratory.

The result?

Mango party for your mouth! ❤ So very yum. 🙂

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Green Goji Bliss Balls

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“Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.”
~ Joss Whedon

 

I often whip up a batch of these healthy, yummy snacks. Green Goji Bliss Balls are packed full of nutrition, and the lemon gives them a lovely fresh tang.

They are incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a good food processor or blender.

This recipe is high in good fats and protein, and in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is also vegan and gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free. A couple of these Bliss Balls and a fresh juice make a satisfying lunch if you’re on the go, and a great snack anytime. Don’t let the green colour put you off – they are absolutely delicious and lemony.

Note: Broccoli sprout powder is super-nutritious and helps to detox the body of heavy metals, as well as metabolising estrogen, normalising DNA methylation and working as a potent anti-oxidant and immune booster. But it’s fine to omit or to substitute for something else. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup pepitas, 1/2 cup brazil nuts, zest of two lemons, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup of unsweetened coconut, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup goji berries, 2 heaped teaspoons spirulina, 1 heaped teaspoon broccoli sprout powder, 3 tablespoons of maple or rice malt syrup . Extra coconut for rolling.

Method:

Zest your lemon and then squeeze the juice.

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Use a food processor  or spice grinder to chop the almonds and brazil nuts until they are finely chopped. Do this in a couple of batches if you need to. It’s fine for there to be a few larger chunks. Don’t process until it is a paste – you are looking for a crumbly, chopped texture rather than goo!

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Add all the dry ingredients and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix well with a spoon.

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Add the lemon juice and mix the entire lot together with a clean hand. You could use a spoon but your hand will do a better job!

When the mixture is well combined, roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. Drop the balls into a small container of coconut and cover them well. Place into the refrigerator to set (about thirty minutes).

These bliss balls will keep for a week refrigerated, if they last that long. Enjoy!

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Two-Hour Economical Chicken Soup Recipe

two hour chicken soup

“There is no dignity
quite so impressive,
and no independence
quite so important,
as living within your means.”
~ Calvin Coolidge

 

I lived on this soup when I was a university student, back in my sharehouse days, and then again when I bought my first house and every spare cent went on the mortgage repayments.

I used to make this soup because it was yummy, filling and cheap.

Then I began to make it because it was yummy, filling and so easy to prepare from just a few frugal ingredients – great when I was busy and time poor.

Then I made it because it was wholesome and health-promoting, and even on my worst health days I managed to be able to put the ingredients into a pot somehow.

This is a hearty soup, and by the end of cooking the meat will be falling off the bones, and the bones will have given all their goodness to the broth. This is the fastest way I know to make a bone broth!

Over the years it has become an important recipe in my kitchen. It’s one of the soups I’ve made in bulk and frozen, for Ben to reheat for me when I come home from hospital. It’s easy enough that when we run out of frozen soup, Ben will have no trouble in whipping up a fresh batch for me as I talk him through it.

Let me show you how easy it is, so that you can make it too.

 

Ingredients:

750g to 1kg chicken wings, 1 large onion, 2 large carrots, 1 large potato, 3 cloves of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar, 2 large sticks of celery, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 chicken stock cube or one teaspoon of stock powder, 2 litres of water, 1 cob of fresh corn (optional but really good!), fresh parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper

* Note – organic chicken wings, like all chicken wings, are always heaps cheaper than the more expensive cuts of chicken! o if you’re going organic, this is a budget friendly way to do so.

If you have other vegetables you’d like to throw into the soup, go right ahead. It’s a very accommodating recipe.

Method:

Using a sharp knife cut the wings into thirds. If you’re lucky you may even be able to purchase your chicken wings already chopped into these smaller portions. (I always put the very ends of the wing tips aside to feed to my dogs as a treat, or to go into my stock pot for later.)

Place a slug of oil in the bottom of a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Brown the wings until they are still raw, but have taken on a nice golden colour. You may need to do this in batches. Remove wings from pot and set aside.

chicken wings

While the wings are browning, chop your onion, celery and carrot into a small dice. Mince the garlic or chop finely. Cut the potato into slightly larger chunks so that it doesn’t fall apart in your soup.

chicken soup ingredients

Place the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into the pan and stir on medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and beginning to brown slightly.

Add the chicken pieces, bay leaves, potato, and oregano into the pot and then pour the water over. Add a grind of pepper, a pinch of salt, your stock cube or powder, and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a dash of vinegar – about a tablespoon is good).

It won’t look very exciting yet. It takes time for the magic to happen!

chicken soup fixings

Bring to the boil, stir, and then turn the heat down until the liquid is simmering on a very slow boil. You still want to be able to see some action in the pot. Don’t turn it down so low that nothing is happening! Place a lid on the soup but make sure it is vented. I usually place my lid cocked on the rim, so that it is partially covered but steam can still escape easily and the liquid will reduce a little.

If you want you can vent your lid like this:

Photograph by Donna Curry at www.seriouseats.com

Photograph by Donna Curry at www.seriouseats.com

Or, leave the lid off, but watch your soup so that the liquid level doesn’t drop too low. If it does, no drama. Just add a bit more water.

Leave the soup to simmer for about two hours. Do check it occasionally in case you need to stir it or add a little more water. About ten minutes before serving use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob of corn. Add the corn and freshly chopped parsley to the soup. Let this cook for ten minutes and then taste. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Another little squeeze of lemon juice can also really lift the flavour.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy.

chicken soup made with wings

two hour chicken soup

Strawberry Coconut Chia Pudding #dairyfree #glutenfree

strawbs

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck

 

I could call this delicious pudding ‘dessert’.

But I have also been known to call it ‘breakfast’…

This creamy strawberry pudding is a versatile and healthy option as a snack, a meal or as a sweet treat at the end of a more substantial savoury offering.

I’ll show you how to make a ‘fancy’ offering with a choc-dipped strawberry garnish, good if you are entertaining or celebrating. Of course you can always just make the pudding without the garnish. It will still taste scrumptious – it just won’t look so ‘party’!

The pudding is grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy free. It’s high in protein, good fats, vitamin c, and antioxidants.

It’s also dead easy to make. So easy that #EvenBenCouldMakeThis

(I thought if I hashtagged my easy recipes, I may fare better during my recovery after surgery. It’s the best plan I’ve come up with in ages!)

 

Ingredients to serve 4:

500ml (2 cups) of warmed coconut milk. (I used a 270ml can of coconut cream and then added warm water to make up the rest of the volume), 250 grams (1 cup) of fresh ripe strawberries, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup maple syrup or up to 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweetener, 4 squares of dark Lindt chocolate 70% cocoa or higher, 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, coconut yoghurt or coconut cream or ice-cream to serve.

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Method:

Place the coconut milk into a jug or mixing bowl. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the top and then stir in well.

Keep 2 strawberries out. Hull and puree the rest. If you don’t have a blender, chop finely and then squash through a sieve (or just chop finely if you can’t be bothered!).

Add the pinch of salt, strawberry puree and maple syrup to the chia mix. Stir well and allow to stand for ten minutes, stirring every so often to distribute the chia seeds which will begin to swell and thicken.

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If you need your pudding to look fancy, divide into four serving glasses or place in one pretty serving bowl. Otherwise place mixture into a plastic storage container with a lid.

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Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on low until liquid but not hot. Allow to cool slightly. Have the remaining strawberries and dip the cut side into the chocolate. Place on baking paper to cool and pop into fridge. If you have any chocolate left over feel free to give them a second coating once the first one has set.

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chia pudding

Drizzle a little of the remaining chocolate onto the puddings and then place in fridge to thicken and set.

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To serve, add a dollop of coconut yoghurt/cream/ice-cream on top of parfait and add chocolate-coated strawberry. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon or cocoa if you feel inclined.

Or, simply spoon some into a bowl and demolish!

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