Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My 3 Favourite Fruit Recipes By Nigella

Hi peeps!

Midweek again and I've been craving fruits and also plenty veggies and .....shockingly enough, chocolate! (I'm naturally more of a savoury person than a sweet so this came as a bit of a surprise crave). I'm also a huge Nigella Lawson fan and due to my cravings and her fantastic recipes that are awesomely simple and delectably delicious; I want to share 3 of my favourite recipes by the stunning and talented Chef Lawson. Take a peek at these tasty jewels:

Butterscotch Fruit Fondue
Ingredients:
45 grams light brown muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
150 grams golden syrup
30 grams butter
125 ml double cream
a splash of vanilla extract
approx. 350 grams cut fruit

Method
Melt the sugars, syrup and butter in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes.

Add the cream and vanilla extract, stirring together, and then take off the heat.

Divide the sauce between two cups or small bowls, and then arrange the fruit on two saucers or on a plate, as you see fit.

No Fuss Fruit Tart
Ingredients
375 grams crumbled digestive biscuits (I use Baker's Tennis Biscuits instead)
75 grams soft unsalted butter
400 grams cream cheese (at room temperature)
240 grams lemon curd (at room temperature)
125 grams blueberries
125 grams blackberries
125 grams raspberries
125 grams redcurrants (or pomegranate seeds)
125 grams small strawberries

Method
Process the biscuits and the butter to a sandy rubble and press into the sides and bottom of a deep-sided fluted tart tin approx. 25cm diameter x 4–5cm deep / 10inch diameter x 2 inches deep with a loose base. Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for about 10–15 minutes.

In a clean processor bowl, process the cream cheese and lemon curd (or just mix by hand) and spread into the bottom of the chilled tart tin, covering the base evenly.

Arrange the fruit gently (so it doesn’t sink in too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner, leaving some of the strawberries unhulled, with their picturesque stalks attached.

Place the tart in the fridge, preferably overnight, though for at least 4 hours. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unsprung and sliced easily.

Strawberry and Almond Crumble
Ingredients:
for the filling:
500 grams strawberries (hulled)
50 grams caster sugar
25 grams ground almonds
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the topping:
110 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75 grams cold butter (diced)
100 grams flaked almonds
75 grams demerara sugar (I use dark brown sugar if I can't find demerara)
double cream (to serve)

Method
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Put the hulled strawberries into your pie dish, I use a round ovenproof pie dish approx. 21cm diameter x 4cm deep (approx. 1.25 litre capacity) / 8 inches diameter x 2 inches deep (approx. 1¼ quarts capacity), and sprinkle over them the sugar, almonds and vanilla extract. Give the dish a good shake or two to mix the ingredients.

Now for the crumble topping: put the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and rub in the cold, diced butter between thumb and fingers (or in a freestanding mixer). When you’ve finished, it should resemble rough, pale oatmeal. Stir in the flaked almonds and sugar with a fork.

Tip this over the strawberry mixture, covering the strawberries in an even layer and giving a bit of a press in at the edges of the dish. Set the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the crumble topping will have darkened to a pale gold and some pink-red juices will be seeping and bubbling out at the edges.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving, and be sure to put a jug of chilled double cream on the table alongside.

By now I'm sure you can tell that I'm pretty much a massive cherry and strawberry fan of note but whether you're a strawberry fan or not so much; I hope you enjoy these Nigella recipes as much as I do. Join me tomorrow for some cool tips on garnishing and plating meals ;-D
Stay perfectly juicy peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Quick Recipes


Hi peeps!

And how are ya'll on this very fine day? Can't believe that Kate and Will's bundle of royal joy arrived last week and that its been 30 years since The Empire Strikes Back premiered. Just take a look at Chewie and Han here............ Where does the time go? Seems there just isn't enough time these days. Here are two recipes that don't take that much time to make but are still yummy to munch:



Worlds Best Chocolate No Bake Bars
Looks so good, I bet you didn't guess they are GOOD FOR YOU!
Made with coconut oil & honey instead of sugar!

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor)
2 cups dry oats (not instant)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9x13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it's set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!

Squash Croquettes
Ingredients
2 cups yellow squash, finely chopped (can also use butternut or pumpkin)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
vegetable oil

Instructions
1. In a large bowl, combine squash, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in flour.
2. In a skillet, heat ½-inch oil over medium-high heat.
3. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into oil.
4. Cook about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown, turning once.
5. Drain croquettes on paper towels.
6. Serve plain or sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. A drizzle of honey or syrup or with grated cheese and finely chopped tomato for a more savoury version. You could also eat them with a dollop of cream cheese and chopped chives or add thinly sliced chilli for a bit of a kick!

These two recipes are worth tagging in your "quick and easy recipes" file!
Got a quick 'n easy recipe to share? Email it to shantsjlucas@gmail.com with two pics of the final product and share some food love. <3

Seems we are out of time for today peeps!
Star Wars Fan Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chocolate Lasagne and Peanutbutter Cheesecake

Hi peeps!

Welcome back to the Chef Mother for another week of awesome recipes.

OMW I had such a laugh at Akira last week Thursday night... she's a total martial arts freak and adores kung fu type movies and pretty much anything to do with martial arts. Having said this; Akira decides she's going to be a female Bruce Lee and practice kung fu kicks outside......here I add that I was quite entertained watching her try to kung fu the hell out of my old mop (Idve been quite upset if it had been my new mop even though she was struggling to connect her foot to the old one anyhow)....UNTIL - she finally connected the kick and turned to look at me triumphantly and goes "YES! Mom; I DID IT!" At which time the mop decided on its revenge while her back was turned and fell forward; landing squarely on her head like a weird spaghetti type wig;(*SNIGGER SNIGGER*) she screamed like someone was attacking her,(*LOUD CHUCKLE*) farting quite loudly out of pure fright while flailing her arms wildly at the mop's clever sneak attack and simultaneously shouting at me: "Its not funny, mommy!".(*HILARIOUS GUFFAWS OF MIRTH*)

By this time I thought I was going to die from lack of oxygen on account of me literally ROTFLMAO. Through the hiccups of my laughter I still managed to ask her (with tears running down my cheeks): "what kind of fighting style is that?". To which she quite cheekily (and sulkily) replied: "Its Martial Farts; mommy!". I laughed so loud I thought I'd cracked a rib. Aaah well; she's earned a whole new respect for mop's for sure...you should see the way she gives it a beady eye and a wide berth whenever she's playing outside now. Bet that mop is smiling pompously under its sneaky spaghetti wig ;-D

After this nice anecdote I also want to send a shout out to my aunt Judes and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU with a big hug and kiss and a God Bless too! Mega love aunty Judes and enjoy this special day; love to you. <3
And with that; here are today's flippen awesome recipes:

Chocolate Lasagna
INGREDIENTS
1 package regular Oreo cookies (Not Double Stuff) – about 36 cookies
6 Tablespoon butter, melted
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cold milk
1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
2 – 3.9 ounce packages Chocolate Instant Pudding.
3 1/4 cups cold milk
1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
1. Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. I used my Manual food processor for this, but you could also place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or meat mallet. When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.
2. Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
3. Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the oreo crust.
4. In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.
5. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Frozen Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Ingredients
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Directions

1 In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for about a minute or until melted. Stir together until combined. Add crispy rice cereal and stir well to coat.
2 Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. You could use a pie pan but I've found that a springform pan is much easier when it comes to removing slices. Place in the freezer to chill while you make the filling (about 10 minutes).
3 In a large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
4 Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix until combined.
5 Gently fold in the whipped topping. Pour filling into the prepared crust.
6 Heat fudge and peanut butter in two small separate bowls for 20-30 seconds or until warm. Drizzle over filling.
7 Freeze for 4-6 hours or until pie is firm. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving to make cutting easier. Garnish with peanut butter and chocolate candy bars.

Just what we need to get this schweeeet week on a role eh!
See ya'll tomorrow peeps

Chef Shants (mother of the Kung Farts Master) xxxxx

Friday, 26 July 2013

Friday Fun: Ugly Cakes!

Hi peeps!

First of all; tomorrow is a big day for Marclynd and Michelle. I know your wedding day is going to be absolutely fabulous and we wish we could be there to share it with you. God bless you both on this new chapter in your lives together and many; many happy years ahead. So much love to both of you and welcome to the "ballandchain" years lol. MWAHZ and HUGS!!!!

What a fabulous week its been and we have covered quite a few recipes too! From red velvet cheesecake to south african paptert and even pizza balls and what to do with Tarragon. I think we have worked quite hard this week and deserve a bit of down-time and a few solid chuckles. Oh, I gotta share this joke with you; if you've heard it before: good for you! Just skip the next few lines and continue gawping at these really frikkinugly cakes I found while surfing the web. If you haven't heard it; then I hope it makes you chuckle before you also take a gander at these really frikkinugly cakes I found while surfing the web.

"A wealthy man was having an affair with an Italian woman for a few years. One night, during one of their rendezvous, she confided in him that she was pregnant. Not wanting to ruin his reputation or his marriage, he paid her a large sum of money if she would go to Italy to have the child. If she stayed in Italy, he would also provide child support until the child turned 18. She agreed, but wondered how he would know when the baby was born. To keep it discrete, he told her to mail him a postcard, and write "Spaghetti" on the back. He would then arrange for child support. One day, about 9 months later, he came home to his confused wife. "Honey," she said, "you received a very strange postcard today." "Oh, just give it to me and I'll explain it later," he said. The wife handed the card over and watched as her husband read the card, turned white, and fainted. On the card was written "Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti. Two with meatballs, one without."
*hahahahahahahahahahahaha* - ok; I couldn't help myself! I thought it was pretty funny! Right; well on to the ugliest cakes I have ever seen:




















And that's a wrap; folks! Enjoy your weekend with your family and I'm going to enjoy my time with my three spaghettis too (which happen to be one with meatballs and two without - hahahaha*) - will be thinking of you two tomorrow, Marclynd and Michelle!!! <3
Take it easy peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Herbs - Tarragon

Hi peeps!

Its been awhile since we took a look at the world of herbs and spices. So far we have done Rosemary and Thyme and I'd like to bring Tarragon into the limelight for today. Here's some info about this herb; followed by a delicious recipes incorporating it into the dish.

Tarragon herb or dragon wort is a very popular culinary herb used as flavoring agent, especially in the Mediterranean cuisines. This aromatic perennial growing plant is rich in phytonutrients as well antioxidants that help promote health and prevent diseases.
Botanically, tarragon belongs within the family of Asteraceae of the genus: Artemisia and known scientifically as Artemisia dracunculus. The herb is thought to be originated in Central Asia; probably Siberia.
Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides) is a more robust; closely related species. It, however, is quite inferior in flavor to its Mediterranean counterpart and hence, less preferred in cooking. This herb is small shrub featuring slim woody branching stems that reach up to a meter in height. It grows well in rich sandy soil with adequate sunlight. Its leaves are smooth, dark green with pointed ends.

Health benefits of Tarragon herb:
This exquisite herb is rich in numerous health benefiting phyto-nutrients that are indispensable for optimum health.
The main essential oils in tarragon are estragole (methyl chavicol), cineol, ocimene and phellandrene. Tarragon has been used as a traditional remedy to stimulate appetite and alleviate anorexic symptoms.
Scientific studies suggest that poly-phenolic compounds in this herb help lower blood-glucose levels.
Fresh tarragon herb is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. Its total measured ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value is 15,542 trolex equivalents (TE) per 100 g.
Laboratory studies on tarragon extract shows certain compounds in them inhibit platelet activation, preventing platelet aggregation and adhesion to the blood vessel wall. It thus helps prevent clot formation inside tiny blood vessels of heart and brain protecting from heart attack and stroke.
The herb is very rich source of vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A as well as B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, etc., that function as antioxidant as well as co-factors in metabolism.
Tarragon is a notably excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration (co-factors for cytochrome-oxidase enzyme) and blood cell production.

Medicinal uses of tarragon:
Tarragon herb has been used in various traditional medicines for stimulating the appetite and as a remedy for anorexia, dyspepsia, flatulence and hiccups.
The essential oil, eugenol in the herb has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local-anesthetic and antiseptic for toothache complaints.
Tarragon tea may help cure insomnia. (Medical disclaimer).

Selection and storage:
Tarragon leaves are available fresh during late spring and summer season. Growing tips may be gathered for fresh use. Oftentimes, the herb is grown in the backyard, and fresh leaves are readily available for cooking. Leaves may be harvested at flowering time for drying slowly under gentle heat. Dried tarragon can be available in the herb stores the year around.
Try to by buy fresh leaves whenever possible for better flavor and nutritional benefits. Look for the herb that is rich in fragrance. Avoid those with shriveled, discolored old stock. Once at home, wash the leaves in clean running water, pat dry with absorbent paper and store inside the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for immediate use. Dried tarragon, however, should be stored inside airtight container and stored in cool dark place where it will stay for up to six months.

Preparation and serving methods:
Fresh tarragon herb should be washed before use in cooking. In general the herb is added in small amounts to recipes at the last moment in order to retain flavor and taste.

Culinary uses:
Generally, the herb is added at the last moment to recipes in small amounts in order to retain flavor and taste.

Here are some serving tips:
Fresh tarragon is used in green salad.
Fresh as well as dry leaves may be used as flavoring base (in marinade) to fish, lamb and poultry.
Tarragon herb is one of the main ingredients in French béarnaise sauce, a hot emulsified butter sauce made of clarified butter, egg yolks, shallot, chervil, peppercorn and tarragon vinegar.
Furthermore, it is used as flavoring base in traditional Christmas breads called potica.

Monkfish and Mussels with Tarragon
Ingredients
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 600g/1lb 5oz monkfish tail, cleaned and cut into 4 pieces
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 50g/2oz unsalted butter
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 40g/1½oz shallots, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- 200ml/7fl oz white wine
- 1.5kg/3lb 6oz mussels, beards removed
- 110ml/4fl oz double cream
- 200ml/7fl oz hot fish stock
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
2. In a bowl, mix together the curry powder and the salt until well combined. Dredge the monkfish pieces in the powder, then season with freshly ground black pepper.
3. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat, add the monkfish pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until just golden-brown on both sides.
4. Add half of the butter to the pan, then transfer to the oven and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the monkfish is cooked through. Remove from the oven and squeeze over the lemon juice.
5. Heat the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
6. Add the bay leaf, thyme, tarragon and saffron strands and stir well.
7. Add the white wine, stir well and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by half.
8. Add the cream and the fish stock and bring the mixture to the boil.
9. Add the mussels, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 4-5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed.
10. Remove the mussels from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue to simmer the cooking liquor until it has thickened slightly.
11. Add the mustard and the chopped tarragon and stir until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and continue to simmer the mixture for a further 1-2 minutes.
12. To serve, slice each of the monkfish pieces into two medallions. Place two of the monkfish medallions into the centre of each of four serving bowls. Remove half of the mussels from their shells and divide them among the bowls. Divide the remaining mussels between the bowls. Spoon over the tarragon and mustard sauce and serve immediately.
- recipe by BBC FOOD.

And that about finishes up our blog for today. See ya'll tomorrow for some fun on a Friday!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

South African Porridge Pies

Hi peeps!

In South Africa we absolutely love to braai. (Have a barbeque over an open flame) and our SA women have out done themselves with ingenious and tasty braai meat accompaniments. Besides your average garden salads; beetroot; toasted cheese,tomato and onion sandwiches (also done on the braai by the way); three bean salad, potato salad and sweet 'n sour noodle salad; we also have something called "pap" (pronouced like "pup"). This is traditional maize meal that has been either made into a smooth porridge ("pap") or a crumbled porridge ("krummelpap" - pronounced "crimmelpup").

Paptert is also known as Polenta Pie (this being the Italian version) or Porridge Pie. It is part of the staple diet of us peeps here in Africa. I know; it sounds weird that we eat a porridge with lunch/dinner (depending what time you're eating your braai meat; lol) but I guarantee you there is no other bbq meat accompaniment that tastes better than this! Let's move on to today's two recipes - one using the smooth porridge and one using the crumbly porridge.....

South African Paptert
Ingredients:
3 cups Ace or Nyala mieliemeal (maize-meal)
6 cups of water
1½ tsps salt
1 bottle biltong melrose
250ml cream
1 tin creamed mushrooms
250g breakfast bacon
2 onions
Some grated cheddar cheese
Method:
Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a baking dish. Cook your mieliemeel till it is done. Chop your bacon and onions and fry together till done. Mix together the fried bacon and onions, melrose, cream and creamed mushrooms. Now layer it into the baking dish: cooked mieliemeel then the onion mix and keep layering till dish is full now sprinkle generously with the grated cheese and bake till the cheese is melted.
Serve with your braaivleis! (Braai meat or bbq'ed meat)
-Anita Marsili Booyse

South African Krummelpaptert with a Twist!
Ingredients:
A lekker big pot of "krummelpap" nice and stiff with big crumbs that can easily be rolled into balls (cooked and half cooled down)
2 cups bread crumbs
3/4 cup melted salted butter
3 packets of shoulder bacon
1/2 cup of milk
6 eggs; seperated
1 tin creamed mushrooms
1 tin sliced mushrooms, drained
2 lekker full cups of grated cheddar cheese
170g tin evaporated milk
350 ml sour cream
5ml salt
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a baking dish. Cut the bacon into bits and fry till crispy; keep some aside for garnish. Mix the krummelpap; bread crumbs and salt together then add the melted butter and mix well. Now add the bacon too. Beat your egg yellows together and pour in with the mushrooms and half the grated cheddar cheese. Add this to your pap mix(the mixture can be made stiffer with more krummelpap or thinner with some milk). Now roll lekker balls out of the mixture and place them in the greased baking dish; sprinkle the rest of the cheese and bacon over the top and pour over the sour cream and evaporated milk. Bake for +- 45 minutes and have a feast!
-Annetjie Cilliers

Hmmmmm; a little taste of my home <3. I like eating foods from across the world but I gotta say that I LOVE eating our food right here at home. South Africa.....we rock!

Proudly South African Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Three Milk Cake and Red Velvet Cheesecake

Hi peeps!

As promised I had my cuppa tea early and it washed away said grumpiness from yesterday.
Today's two recipes are sure to get your sweet tooth drooling. We learn how to make Three Milk Cake and Red Velvet Cheesecake today; the cheesecake is quite a long recipe; so let's get started!

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three Milk Cake) ...

INGREDIENTS:
6 eggs, separated
1 cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed
milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup whipped cream (optional)
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Grease a 10x15-inch baking dish.
3. Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form; gradually beat in sugar until mixture is glossy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, combining each yolk before adding the next. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, to the mixture, beating continuously; beat in baking powder, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cake cool for 15 minutes.
5. Pour 1 cup cream, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a blender and pulse several times until well blended. Pour three-milk mixture evenly over the cake. Refrigerate cake until cold and the milk mixture has soaked in, at least 1 hour.
6. Cut in squares and top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a few sliced strawberries. Refrigerate leftovers.

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE
Ingredients:

For the Cheesecake:
32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Red Velvet Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons red food coloring (liquid)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Make the Cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and then tightly wrap the outside with heavy duty foil. (I find that double-wrapping helps prevent leaks in a water bath.) Put a pot of water (or a tea kettle) on to boil.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or so after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract, and beat until completely incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the springform pan; place the springform pan into a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and pour the boiling water into the larger pan until the water comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
4. Bake until the cheesecake edges are set but the middle still jiggles a bit, about 45 to 55 minutes. Turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 1 hour. At this point, remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place the springform pan on a cooling rack to cool to room temperature. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Make the Red Velvet Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with a parchment round, butter the parchment paper, and then flour the pans.
6. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about a minute after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
7. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
8. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining buttermilk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
9. Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.
10. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from the pans and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
11. Make the Frosting: Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
12. Assemble the Cheesecake: If needed, level the tops of the red velvet cake layers with a serrated knife or cake leveler so that the tops are level and not domed. Next, slice the cheesecake in half horizontally to create two layers. Place one layer of the red velvet cake on your serving plate. Spread a very thin layer of the cream cheese frosting over it (it creates a type of glue so that the layers stick together and don't slide around). Top that with one layer of the cheesecake, and again top with a very thin layer of frosting. Repeat, adding the second red velvet layer, and then placing the second cheesecake layer on top, with a layer of frosting between them. Using the remaining frosting, cover the cake in frosting and decorate as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and refrigerate any leftovers.

Omw, the pic of this cheesecake made me want to lick the screen for just a quick taste....*sigh* ; now that looks nommies. Even this three milk cake looks good enough to not be able to resist a second slice.

Hopefully these have also made your day that much sweeter :)
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 22 July 2013

Easy Recipes

Hi peeps!

Another week begins and I hope your weekend kicked butt! It was my mom-in-law's bday on Saturday and; mom....hope you had one fantastic day!
I haven't quite had my morning cup of tea yet so the brain doesn't have time for complicated stories and coz its Monday I reckon we stick with these two easy recipes for today; whaddya think?! Sound good? Sounds great! LOL. K; so here they are:

Pizza Puffs of Paradise

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups water
1/3 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
3/4 cup finely chopped pepperoni (3 oz.)
3/4 cup finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese (3 oz.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 jar pizza sauce

Preparation:
Grease 2 large baking sheets and set aside. In a large saucepan combine water and shortening. Bring to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pepperoni, cheese, parsley, garlic powder, and pepper.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 450°F for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with pizza sauce for dipping
- Cindy Thomas
(Ps: for us other peeps, we don't really get shortening so use butter instead)

Cheddar Puffs ...

Be sure to cook the water, butter, flour mixture until it's difficult to stir and it forms a ball-like mass.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 to 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
10 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar (about 3 cups)
6 large eggs
Paprika

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F. (200C)
Combine butter, water, sugar, salt and cayenne in a large saucepan. Cook until butter melts. Add 2 cups of flour all at once. Reduce heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture is stiff and forms a ball-like mass, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Pour into mixing bowl; using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat 1 minute at medium-low speed to cool the mixture. Increase speed to medium; add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate before adding the next. Batter should be firm, not runny. If necessary, blend in an additional ½ cup flour. Fold in cheese. Drop by tablespoons onto baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake 10 minutes, turn the pan, and bake 10 more minutes. Leftover puffs can be frozen.

And I also wanted to add this pic here:
How cool is this idea?! Absolutely wonderful way to serve your eggs methinks. Its colourful; tasty and ingenious.

Well this is all we have time for today. I will make sure I have my tea early ;-P. See ya'll tomorrow for something on the sweet side ;-D

Chef Shants whose now having her cuppa tea xxxxx

Friday, 19 July 2013

More and More and MORE Fan Recipes!

Hi peeps!

So we are "Eating Like" some of our fans this week; lol. Check out these tasty treats!
I had a request for these yummy cookies! Simple and easy to make!

Pecan Coconut Praline Cookies

Ingredients

2½cups sugar
½cup evaporated milk
½cup corn syrup
½cup butter
1teaspoon vanilla
2-2½ cups chopped pecans
2½ cups grated coconut

Directions

1. Set pecans, cocnut, and vanilla off to the side
2. Mix sugar, evap. milk, corn syrup, and butter in large saucepan.
3. Bring to a rolling boil & boil for 3 minutes.
4. Remove from heat & add pecans, coconut, and vanilla
5. Stir for about 4 minutes.
6. Take a spoonful of batter and place on wax paper. Let it sit until batter has hardened.
7. Remove from paper and enjoy.
- Maria Hernandez

Dump Cake

Original recipe makes 1 - 9x13 inch cake
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 ounces chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter

In a 9x13 inch pan mix cherries and pineapple. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pineapple, and cherry mixture stir until just combined. Then sprinkle walnuts over top. Drizzle top with melted butter or margarine.
Bake in a 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven for 35 or 40 minutes or until golden brown.
-Steven Nichols

Baked Alaska Meat Loaf

Ingredients
1 package McCormick® Brown Gravy Mix
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons McCormick® Onions, Minced
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper, Ground
1 teaspoon McCormick® Chives
4 servings instant mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix Gravy Mix, ground beef, minced onion and pepper in large bowl. Shape into a loaf, 2 inches high, in shallow baking pan.
Stir chives into prepared mashed potatoes. Spread over meat loaf. 3. Bake 55 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 2 minutes longer or until cheese melts.
Peggy's Skinny Friends -Peggy Roberts Way

And that concludes another week filled to bursting with delicious recipes. I also wanna send a huge shoutout to my mother in law; Eve. Happy birthday for tomorrow mom and hope you have a great and blessed day and you get spoiled rotten! We love you lots.

Have one fantastic weekend peeps and see ya'll on the flipside!!!

Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Yup! Even More and More Fan Recipes!

Hi peeps!

Oh man! This week's recipes are fantastic and I've had so much fun with them. Thanks again; fans and peeps who've been sharing! Its much appreciated. These are today's recipe choices....

Biscuit Cinnamon Roll
Wow! These look delightfully simple and delicious! Can't wait to try them!!

Here is the recipe with my results in pictures: (hopefully it tempts you to try it!)
Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring
2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 C. pancake syrup (any brand you like, I used Mrs. Buttersworth)
1/3 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, optional
1/4 C. chopped almonds, optional
Instructions:
Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired). Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top. Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring. Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter and enjoy!
** I ended up using 1 1/2 tubes of the Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits (1 tube didn't seem like enough) and baked it for about 30 minutes. It needed a bit longer to bake since I used more.
-Crystal Johan Radfar. (American recipe; measurements and oven temps)

Banana bread brownies. these are unbelievable
Ingredients:
Banana Bread Bars:
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1-3/4 (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Brown Butter Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375F. Grease and flour 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. For the bars, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.

2. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, for frosting, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately.
4. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting). Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars (the frosting will be easier to spread while the bars are still warm).

*Donna*

Big thanks to Crystal and Donna for the recipe shares; keep up the yummy work ladies!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Even More Fan Recipes!

Hi peeps!
We've made it halfway through the week and we are sticking with our Fan Recipe theme. I am absolutely loving these recipes and how simple and tasty they look. So let's get to it and take a gander at today's featured recipes...

Cream Cheese Mints Recipe ~ sweet, minty, and melt-in-your-mouth creamy!
Ingredients:
8 ounces soft cream cheese
6 tablespoons soft butter
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (NOT mint extract)
2 pounds sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops red food coloring

Combine and push mint mixture into a pastry bag, icing syringe or squeeze bottle with a decorative tip. Create desired shapes for mints. Let set 1 hour.

And an american biscuit recipe using Bisquick:
Bisquick, sour cream, 7-up and butter!.... These are excellent!!!! So easy and soooo good! Recipe is hard to find so here it is:

7 Up Biscuits

4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7-up
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix bisquick, sour cream and 7 up. Dough will be very soft - don't worry Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit / cookie cutter. Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or 9x13 casserole dish. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown at 425 degrees,
(Ps: its farenheit not centigrade fyi)

Hope these have tickled your tastebuds today!
Till tomorrow peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

More Easy Fan Recipes

Hi peeps!
 
Sticking with fan recipes today..... These recipes are shared by peeps on pinterest; facebook and on sites online. Thanks for the shares coz I'm sure all of us at one stage have been like: "hmmm! What to make for dinner?". Its awesome to share easy recipes; here are two more:

Fully loaded potatoe casserole
A must try!!!!
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 slices bacon, cooked, chopped, divided
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced

Place potatoes in saucepan, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cook until tender, then drain well.

Preheat oven to 375° degrees F.

Transfer potatoes back to the saucepan. Masher with a potato masher until almost smooth. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, salt and pepper. Continue mashing until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and half the bacon. Spoon mixture evenly into a lightly oiled 3-quart casserole dish. Use a spatula or fork to make an irregular surface

Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, bacon and green onions. Bake for 5 more minutes to melt cheese. Serve immediately.

WOW!!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!
GARLIC & LEMON CHICKEN W/GREEN BEANS & RED POTATOES!
(Gluten free, Low Carb, Diabetic Friendly and so simple to make)

(Please SHARE so that it saves to your timeline. You can refer back to recipe later!).
For more great tips, recipes &/or weight loss motivation, join us at: SkinnyTown USA

INGREDIENTS
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound trimmed green beans
8 small red potatoes, quartered
4 chicken breasts (bones left in, with skin, about 3 1/4 pounds)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.

Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet. Place the beans and potatoes back in oven for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender. Place a chicken breast on each of 4 serving plates; divide the green beans and potatoes equally. Serve warm.

Thanks again fans for the shares! Nothing brings people together quite like food does :)

Have a terrific day; peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 15 July 2013

Fan Recipes

Hi peeps!

Hope your weekend was awesome :). Thanks to all who voted in the Food Wars last week Tuesday.....and the winner is..........Australia's Strawberry and Cream bread! Woohoo! Congrats Australia :)

Thanks also to peeps who have sent in recipes that they have found online and some of their own recipes too. For this week I will be sharing fan recipes and maybe one or two other things as well. And without further ado....... Here are two recipes shared by Cathy Matthews:

WEIGHT WATCHERS EASY PEACH COBBLER

Ingredients
2 lb frozen peaches
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can(s) diet 7up or sprite

Directions
1 Spread frozen peaches in Pam sprayed 13x9 pan.
2 Sprinkle dry cake mix over peaches.
3 Pour 7up over cake mix.
4 Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
5 Uncover and bake for 40 minutes.
6 ENJOY!!

This is a Weight Watcher recipe. You can use any frozen fruit and any lemon lime diet soda. 4 pts. per serving

EASY CROCKPOT POTATO SOUP RECIPE:
Ingredients:
1 (30 oz.) bag frozen hash-brown potatoes (I use the squared, southern style)
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1/2c chopped onion
1/3 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (8oz) package cream cheese (softened)
Garnish: minced green onion

Directions:

1. In a slow cooker, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper.

2. Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours.

3. Stir in cream cheese, cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined.

4. Garnish with green onion.

Loving both these awesome recipes! Thanks Momma Cat :)
You can have your recipes featured too if you send them in accompanied by no less than two pics of the finished product. You can send it to shantsjlucas@gmail.com.

Hope your day is peachy-keen peeps!
Chef Shants and fans xxxxx

Friday, 12 July 2013

Eat Like Avril Lavigne

Hi peeps!

Congrats to Avril on marrying Chad Kroeger from Nickelback just recently. This is her second marriage and hopefully a more successful one too. Heres some background on this punky rock chick:
Avril Ramona Lavigne was born in Belleville, Ontario. Her father, Jean-Claude Joseph Lavigne, named her "Avril" after the French word for the month of April. At the age of two, she began singing church songs with her mother, Judith-Rosanne "Judy" (née Loshaw). Judy recognized her two-year-old daughter's talents after hearing her sing "Jesus Loves Me" in church.
 
Lavigne has an older brother, Matthew, and a younger sister, Michelle,both of whom teased her when she sang. "My brother used to knock on the wall because I used to sing myself to sleep and he thought it was really annoying.". In July 2006, Lavigne married her boyfriend of two years, Deryck Whibley, lead singer and guitarist for Sum 41. The marriage lasted a little over three years, and in October 2009, Lavigne filed for divorce. Whibley and Lavigne continued to work together, with Whibley producing her fourth album, as well as Lavigne's single, "Alice", written for Tim Burton's film Alice in Wonderland. Lavigne married Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, in 2013.

Her favourite food is mushroom pizza with load of olives and beer; her fav colours are hot pink; black; red; green and blue. Interesting facts about her are that she is ADHD; she has her own clothing line called Abbey Dawn and already has quite a fews perfumes out on the shelves. Her fav song is Iris by Googoo Dolls and she always gets matching tattoos with peeps that mean lot to her.

Mushroom and Olive Pizza
Ingredients:
1x large ready made pizza base
Tomato puree
Garlic
1/2cup sliced olives
1 punnet sliced mushrooms
1 cup grated mozarella cheese
1cup grated cheddar cheese
Four bay leaves
Black pepper

Method:
Evenly spread tomato puree and garlic over the base; sprinkle over the other ingredients ending with the mozarella cheese.
Bake in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for 10 minutes
Cut in slices and garnish with black pepper.

Easy as pizza! Lol! Enjoy peeps and see ya'll on Monday!!!

Rock on \m/
Chef shants xxxxx

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Kicking The Habit!

Hi peeps!

Today is officially Day 28 in my own ultimate battle against the cigarette. No; this is not me demanding you give up smoking too. Whether you smoke or not is entirely your right and your choice. What most peeps forget (or probably don't know) is that smokers are totally aware of the dangers and risks of smoking...and basically smoke anyway. And if a smoker who is not ready to bomb the smokes for themselves gets bombarded with "you must stop smoking!" comments the whole time; it does nothing but irritate the shizz out of them and make them rebel and smoke even more. To stop smoking is entirely a personal choice and one only the smoker can make once he/she is ready and really serious about dropping the habit for themselves.

Having said this; if you are trying desperately to kick the habit; like me; then I'd like to say two things to you. Firstly; CONGRATS on taking this very brave step; peeps who have never smoked before will never quite understand just how truly difficult and sucky it is to try kick the habit; and Secondly; DON'T GIVE IN! I am fully aware how bad the cravings can get - 21 days ago my 3 girls took my box with 9 smokes plus my lighter and bombed them in the bin after I swore to give up smoking (meaning to smoke less at least; I was smoking +- 40 a day) - and since that Wednesday; 3 weeks ago, I've been cold turkey and smoke-free and I've been chowing like a Hoover!!

Make no mistake; this has been HARD! And I've found I've put on a few extra kilos coz of a serious case of the munchies and yeup; I had to do some googling and find out what the heck is happening to my body and which would be the best foods to munch that will help me (and you) win the battles against smoking and putting on the extra padding too.
The moodiness can be exceptionally overwhelming and, hopefully, by reading this blog; your friends and family can better understand what it is you're going through and can now support you better too. Here's an article I found by Abby who also gave up smoking:

Your body is addicted to nicotine, and nicotine completely clears the body within 72 hours. This means, the first 72 hours are a real beast. You will notice first of all the insane starving feeling you get in your throat- that is your brain saying it needs a nicotine fix- pronto. You'll actually drool for it, and begin eating other things to satisfy a craving that can't be satiated. You'll find yourself dizzy and unfocused, and this is partly due to stress (which makes the nicotine leave your body even faster- why do you think you always smoke when you're stressed out? Nicotine leaves your body faster, so your body/mind "needs" a fix), and partly due to the physical response to not smoking.

You're dizzy and unfocused- why does quitting smoking do this? Simply because now all of a sudden you are getting normal amounts of oxygen in your body, lending to the weird dizzy and lightheaded feeling you have (it's the same feeling you get when you hold your breath for a long time and then let it out). Your body isn't used to getting normal amounts of oxygen, so you get dizzy in response. Another fun side effect of being able to suddenly get normal oxygen (and blood) flow? Blood circulation in the hands and feet make them warmer and tingle like they are almost falling asleep. In fact, you may feel tingly all over, and like you just might pass out...

Well, lack of nicotine causes this as well. Welcome to low blood sugar. When you smoke (or chew, whatever), it's normal to not feel hungry and miss a meal. You don't notice your blood sugar plummeting because you have nicotine to pick you up. When your nicotine levels are depleted and natural hunger strikes, your blood sugar drops to the point of pure fatigue. Now that you no longer smoke, you really feel the effects of not eating. Sip some juice or grab an apple or fruit to pick you back up and keep you from passing out.

Suddenly, your coffee doesn't seem to wake you up as quickly as it did before. Nicotine, oddly enough (or not), actually speeds the body's metabolism of caffeine (and foods in general), so when you quit smoking your body's response to caffeine slows down as well. And you really need that coffee because suddenly, another fun side effect of quitting smoking- you can't poop!

Why can't you poop? Sheesh! You're dizzy, hungry, tired, and now constipated? Well, nicotine is both a natural laxative and a boost to the whole body, speeding everything up beyond normal. Your heart rate, digestion, etc responds to nicotine by going into overdrive, so when you quit smoking, well, your digestion slows down as well. For a few weeks, you'll notice lots of gas and constipation while your body adjusts to functioning without stimulation...drink tons of water and get your fiber to help your bowels out.

But you're so bloated that you can't even think about water! You feel like a balloon everywhere- your pants don't fit! You feel like you've gained about a million pounds in like 4 days, and in fact, you've actually gained around 5 pounds of water weight. Your body reacts to nicotine withdrawal by retaining as much water as possible, and it's actually the main culprit behind that nasty connection between quitting smoking and weight gain. Keep that water coming, drink some green tea, and in a few weeks, you'll go back to your healthy size.

Everything smells and tastes different- well, this is because your sensory organs have started to wake up in response to lacking nicotine. You find yourself with a sweet tooth you've never had before, another lovely withdrawal symptom of nicotine. Relax, and enjoy that spoonful of sugar in your coffee (when you normally like your coffee black). Your body is adjusting to its healthier new ways, and you should let it.

Within a few weeks, your body should adjust to the lack of nicotine in your system, and learn to function normally. The dizziness, hunger, bloating, tingling, and sweet cravings will fade, as will the constipation and gas. The brain and body are remarkable things- it only takes a little under a month for the brain to "rewire" itself to almost forget what nicotine is, and the body doesn't take long to begin functioning as it should. You'll also begin to cough up the nicotine from your lungs; this can leave you feeling nauseous; especially in the mornings and headaches and sinus can occur too. Moodiness is a biggie! You'll feel bitchy; violent; weepy; hungry; very easily irritated and very, very tired.

Tricks to help you crack the cravings:
- make ice and chew ice blocks
-cut cucumber slices and munch on those; or carrot sticks or celery sticks
- drink a glass of water every time you crave
- chew on a breath mint
- munch an apple or fruit of your choice
- drink a cup of green tea
- cinnamon and honey also help
- keep your hands busy and keep your mind occupied. Read a good book (I've been reading awesome Terry Pratchett novels and I've also read The Rise of the Exile Queen too - click the link on the right to purchase your copy today)
-take a brisk walk
-play pc/ps/nintendo/wii/board games with friends and family. (I've been shooting the sh#t out of monsters in Diablo 2; working out puzzles in Hidden Object games and playing Skylanders Giants on ps3)
- take your dog for a jog or play with your pets
- take up an art and craft
- take up a new class; eg: yoga
- eat a bowl of high fibre cereal or a bran muffin/ health rusk
- pack your ashtrays away and put lighters away in a kitchen drawer
-wash your curtains; bedding; carpets, etc to remove the lingering nicotine smell from the house and same with the interior of your car.
- request that visiting smokers please smoke outside your house and don't allow peeps to smoke in your car.
- play your favourite music loud while cleaning the house.
-and remember this: Don't Give Up! Don't Give In!! You're doing the right thing!!
All it takes is the initial 72 hours; thereafter it takes 10 days to break the habit and 4 weeks till you're home free!!

We can do this, peeps! We can kick the shizz out of these ciggie butts and we gonna be proud and healthier for it too. Good Luck and STAY STRONG.

*One huge encouraging hug*
Chef Shants xxxxx