Thursday, 10 December 2015

A holiday project...

Living in rented accommodation we do our best to make it homely but one thing we both miss is an open fire. Now there is obviously no way to fix that at this time but J being the creative genius that he is sent the picture below to his sister and tagged it "operation fireplace" unbeknownst to me.

I came home from grocery shopping to find him knee deep in Styrofoam boards plotting.
Obviously at this stage he had to spill the beans...

He wanted to make a fireplace, to enclose the television on which we could put the fireplace channel from YouTube. So clever!! 

He started by boxing in the base and sides, leaving a gap at the back to avoid overheating of course.
I added my two cents and had him make the top higher and to step out the imaginary bricks. He used no more nails for the adhesive and a few screws to keep things in place while it dried.
Once the adhesive had dried, he filled in the screw holes and any little gaps. Then set about marking out the "bricks", used his dremel to create the mortar gaps and roughen up board to give the "brick" some texture as you can see below.

Once the detailing was finished he primed the whole piece twice and allowed to dry over night. The following morning he was up nice and early giving it a top coat. The paint he got as returns that  Canadian Tire where selling off but the color worked out perfectly. Using a lint free mini roller he painted out the bricks, leaving the mortar spaces the base color. 

After two coats she looked like this......

 He went on to add some light touches of black paint along the base and on the inside bricks to give a smoky illusion. Once dry she was given pride of place and we lit the fire.....
Here she is in all her Christmas glory. I cannot tell you much I love this. It adds such a homely feel to our relatively bland apartment. I'm not sure I could allow him get rid of it after Christmas ;-)


Don't forget to check us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Homemade takeout...

One of J's favorite dishes from back home is ginger beef from one particular Chinese restaurant, after some recent cravings we said we would have to give a homemade version a try. I found this recipe and off we went. Almost as good as the take out only difference being we had to make it ourselves ;-)

2 tbsp  rice vinegar
5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tsp chile pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
Beef and stir-fry
1 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 hot chilies,seeded, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups spinach
6 mini sweet corn cobs
1-inch nob of ginger, peeled, cut lengthwise into matchstick shapes
4 green onions, cut in 1/2-inch slices, including the greens
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Chill the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before you slice it, crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. The cut each slice lengthwise into strips. Chilling in the freezer makes it easier to slice the steak.
Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, grated ginger, honey, red chile flakes, and cumin in a small bowl. Add the beef and marinade to a ziplock bag and mix to coat the meat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, over high heat until it is nearly smoking. As the oil is heating up, pat the beef dry and separate it into small sections. Working in batches, sauté the beef until just brown outside but rare inside, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to a bowl.
When all of the beef is cooked, put the chilies and garlic into the pan and stir-fry 30-45 seconds. Add the ginger and cook for 30-45 seconds more. Add the peppers, sweet corn and spinach cook for a couple of minutes then add the beef back to the pan. Add the cornstarch slurry. Add the green onions and mix everything together. Cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and mix in the cilantro.
Once marinated this dish moves very quick so while your beef is marinating prepare your side dish. We had brown rice, cooked according to the packaging instructions in some vegetable stock I had. Then all that's left to do is plate up and enjoy.
We have made this dish a couple of times now and changed out the veg for something different. If so versatile and easy to make.

As always I'd love to hear how your own recipe trails go and don't forget to check us out on Facebook or follow on Pinterest, Instagram , Twitter and Bloglovin for updates.
Michelle xxx

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Baby got snacks...

 We have been busy working on a few projects over here at teach O'Tuama so to keep my creative husband fed and watered I took the opportunity to try some of the snacks I've had pinned on my Pinterest board for some time. I started with some spicy roasted chickpeas which I came across here 

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed + drained
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes 
 ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and drain the tin of chick peas.
Grease a baking pan, make sure your pan has a rim of some sort or your peas may go awry.
Toss chickpeas with the olive oil, chili powder, salt and red pepper flakes together in a bowl and mix well. Spread chickpeas into baking pan. 
Bake chickpeas for 10 minutes turning throughout and then bake for an additional 10 minutes. Check at this time for doneness. If you prefer a crisper chickpea bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container once completely cool.
A tasty alternative to chips and dare I say it just as tasty!!

After the chickpeas I started on something more substantial and made up some pasties with a combination of recipes from here and here. As always I use what I have to hand, the filling recipe calls for chicken thighs and fresh herbs, I don't like brown meat so I used chicken breast and as for the fresh herbs, I cant seem to keep those babies alive so I use dried herbs instead. I also doubled the pasty recipe because I wanted to freeze extra portions.

 To make the pasty you will need
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder 
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tsp. xanthan gum
10 Tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
2/3 cup shortening, frozen
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plain yogurt 
4 tbsp.  water
potato starch for dusting
1 egg white for brushing

To make the dough combine all dry ingredients together and whisk thoroughly.
Add butter, shortening, vinegar and yogurt. Cut the wet ingredients into the dry using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, until you can form it into a ball with your hands.
 Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the filling you will need

1 onion, diced
olive oil
2 skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
1 carrot, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. plain flour
Fry your onion in the olive oil until softened about 8-10 minutes. Add the diced chicken and fry for 5 minutes until brown, then add the chopped carrot, potatoes, garlic, thyme, chili, paprika and nutmeg. Fry for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then pour in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the flour and simmer on a medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the stock has cooked away and you’ve a nice thick gravy. Allow to cool.

After the pasty has been in the fridge for at least an hour its time to get rolling. Divide your dough in half. And return half to the fridge. Then divide the remaining dough in four equal pieces.
Taking one piece at a time kneed your dough on a potato floured surface and flatten into a patty. Between two pieces of parchment paper roll out the dough to about an 1/8 of an inch. I used my Wilton rolling pin guide for this but you can eyeball it. Make sure you use plenty of potato starch for dusting to ensure no sticking.
Cut the dough to your desired size. I wanted ours quite big so I used a bowl, but if you wanted to make smaller ones use a glass or a pasty cutter, whatever suits yourself.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and or line a baking sheet  Lightly coat the edge of half your pasty circle with egg white and place 2 tbsp. of the chicken mixture into the centre of the pasty. Fold the pasty over and press to seal the edges.
Place patties on the baking sheet and brush top of the pasty with some egg white. Bake for 12 minutes then increase temperature to 375 degrees and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes depending on how brown you like them.
I got 6 patties out of a half ball of pasty as I added any cut offs back and I had half the chicken mixture left also which I froze for use another time. I considered going ahead and making up all the patties and freezing them that way but I was concerned how they would hold up. If anyone tries it that way please let me know how it goes. 
 So there you have it some tasty snacks to keep you going. I will get on to sharing the actual projects real soon. In the meantime you can catch up on Instagram or Facebook.
 Hope you have a great week. Happy Hump Day!!
Michelle xxx