Monday, March 5, 2012

Couscous and Rucola Salad

There's something so refreshingly creative about mixing together random ingredients and coming up with a wonderfully tasting dish.

Last week, some of my friends and I were having a small picnic among one of the many grassy lawns in our university. I needed something that was filling and quick to make. Albeit this a wasn't picnic-friendly dish what with having to use bowls and forks, it was still fun to eat. And make.

I looked through my refrigerator and cabinet and lined up random ingredients on the kitchen counter. I chose couscous as the central ingredient for my dish and decided to pair it up with ingredients that would complement it. It's amazing how starting off with a central ingredient can build up a great, unique dish.

I recreated it today at home for lunch and everyone loved it.

1.5 cups couscous
1 cup boiling water
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
4 cups rucola leaves
3 tbsp pitted black olives
2 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
40g snow peas
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp basil pesto

20g crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Place the couscous in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Cover the top with a plate and leave to rest for 5 minutes. After that, fluff up with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.
Mix in the rucola leaves and stir until thoroughly combined.
Next, stir in all the ingredients apart from the last five.
Make a paste by combining the olive oil and basil pesto and stir through.
Scatter the crumbled feta cheese and cranberries over the top and mix well together.
Add the balsamic vinegar and gently toss through.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peanut Butter, Nutella, and Cheesecake Pudding

Helloooo everyone! I can't believe it's been more than a month since I posted.. I think this is the first time I've skipped an entire month of posting ever since I started blogging. 

Things have been quite hectic- I started my final semester at university four weeks ago and also moved in on campus. Prior to that, I was out of town for a while. 
It's the first time that I've lived away from home and I am learning quite a bit about myself. Especially how OCD I can be when it comes to cleaning. I can't seem to relax if I haven't scrubbed the sinks, made the bed, sweeped the floor, done the dishes, and generally made sure everything's clean and tidy early in the morning.

I've also had to be extremely resourceful when it comes to meals. I haven't relied on any recipes and make up my lunches and dinners from whatever is in the fridge (often a very creative process that I enjoy). Our dorm room also aren't equipped with ovens so I'm making a lot of scrambled egg and raw vegetable salads and crudites which I quite like. I've made it a goal that I don't want to order in any food while I stay on campus and I've stocked up my cabinets and fridge with things like wholewheat pasta and couscous, Greek yogurt, cherry tomatoes, capsicums, eggs, and baby spinach leaves.

I'm sure many of you must have read the "no-oven" part and thought, "Wait, what's SHE doing without an oven?" To tell you the truth, I do miss the transformative nature a baked good has while in the oven, and I miss the aroma of freshly baked cakes wafting through the kitchen but this has given me the chance to delve into something I've always wanted to try more of: no-bake desserts! 

I love no-bake desserts because they're quick and easy and creamy and just the perfect thing after a meal full of solids. I've invented some interesting things during the past few weeks and I have a slight feeling that the cashier at the university's mini supermarket thinks I'm insane because all I seem to buy are chocolates, cream, Nutella, biscuits, and sweetened condensed milk...

The other day I invented this layered trifle, pudding, dessert, or whatever you want to call it. Everyone seemed to like it although I do think it's akin to a calorie-bomb in a box.. 

So here's the recipe, adjust things as you see fit, this mainly works by instinct. (Plus, my version saves a lot of washing up.. just one bowl, a whisk, a spoon, a pan, and the actual serving dish used)

100g digestive biscuits
80g butter, melted
300g cream cheese
250g heavy cream
200g sweetened condensed milk
200g nutella
200g peanut butter
12 Oreos
4 sticks of Kit Kat
1 packet Maltesers

Take a deep 9"x6" serving dish and place the Digestive biscuits at the base. With the back of a glass, crush the biscuits and stir in the melted butter. Press the butter-biscuit mixture down all over the sides of the dish. 

In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, a quarter of the sweetened condensed milk, and a third of the cream. Spread over the biscuits evenly. Next, separate the two halves of the Oreos and place each half over the cream cheese mixture. 

In the bowl, mix together the nutella, a third of the cream, and half of the sweetened condensed milk. Spread over the Oreos. Break up the Kit Kats into tiny pieces and scatter over the Nutella mixture.

In the bowl, beat together the peanut butter, the remaining cream and remaining sweetened condensed milk and spread over the Kit Kats. Scatter Malteser's on top. 

Refrigerate around one hour before serving. 

Sorry for the picture quality- I only have a phone camera with me!