30 November 2015

Gluten-free paleo chocolate tart with an extra special secret ingredient

The first time I made this tart I couldn't quite believe just how tasty it was, especially knowing it was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and refined sugar free too! And you'd never guess the special secret ingredient....pumpkin!

I used one butternut pumpkin (the small ones shaped like a pear) and roasted this up the day before. Once roasted, scoop out the flesh and add to the food processor with a tiny bit of water - just enough to turn into a thick, smooth puree.

For the crust:

3 Tbsp coconut oil melted
3  Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6-7 Tbsp pumpkin puree (keep the rest for the filling)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
3 Tbsp tapioca flour or arrowroot

Filling ingredients:

1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (or the rest of the puree you have)
1 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey or other sweetener)
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves, nutmeg, mixed spice

To make the crust:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a pie dish.

Place coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and mix until smooth. Add the coconut flour and arrowroot/tapioca flour and mix well by hand until combined.

Press mixture into a greased pie tin and evenly press up around the walls to form the crust. Use a fork to pierce some holes along the base of the crust to prevent bubbling during baking. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, place all chocolate filling ingredients in the food processor and process until mixture is smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times. Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling into the tart and smooth out the top with a spatula.

Chill tart in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours prior to slicing. It will remain solid (and mousse-like) at room temperature after that so long as it's not too hot where you live, or you can keep it chilled if you prefer.


For other tasty and healthy recipes, visit my Cooking page.

24 November 2015

That carrot and chia seed cake with honey mascarpone cream....{recipe}

I have to apologise for the long delay in posting this recipe since I know a fair few of you were keen to get this a few weeks ago. This is actually one of my favourite gluten-free dairy-free sugar-free muffin recipes which I was really hoping would go equally as well turned into a cake.

Life keeps getting in the way of regular blogging at the moment but I'll just snatch a few snippets of time as and when I can...like now.....so without further ado...that cake!


3 free range eggs
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut oil, olive oil or butter
2 cups ground almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut
150g grated carrots (1 cup tightly packed)
grated zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease/line a 20 cm tin. Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

Optional mascarpone cream icing:

1 cup mascarpone cheese
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

Put the mascarpone, lemon zest and honey in a bowl. Using a spoon, mix until well combined. Gently spoon the mascarpone cream on the top of the cooled cake and spread out evenly with a knife. Sprinkle with seeds to decorate.

Enjoy knowing you're indulging in one healthy yet very tasty morsel!

For more gluten-free, healthy and tasty recipes, visit my Cooking page

18 November 2015

A Home made of Happiness {review of Chelsea Winter's new recipe book}

When I heard that Chelsea Winter had a new recipe book coming out called Homemade Happiness, my heart did a little happy dance. We are already big fans of her previous book Everyday Delicious and so I had high hopes for the new book too. I think the thing I love most about her books is that the recipes are all easy to make and we often find we have all (or most) of the ingredients we need already in the house. In my opinion, there's nothing more frustrating for a parent-chef than a fiddly recipe which a) takes ages to prepare and b) has ingredients in it that I've never heard of.

Despite my excitement it was a longer wait than I'd have liked before it actually arrived... which was entirely my fault for forgetting to change my address on the courier package. But as soon as it did arrive, I found myself entirely distracted from all the things I should have been doing at that moment, and I couldn't but help sit down and thumb through each page - making a mental note of each one that appealed, which let's face it was pretty much every single recipe in there!

After a flying visit to New Plymouth to visit my gran last Saturday for her 90th! birthday, we arrived back to empty cupboards and a dire need to visit the supermarket before any cooking of any kind could be contemplated. Normally we do our shop online on a week night but it was quite nice to sit down with an old school pencil and paper and add in a few extra ingredients for the recipes we'd earmarked to make.

While I was out doing the shopping, Mark couldn't bear to wait and got cracking starting the Sausage and Leek Frittata we had decided on for lunch, and I was then given strict instructions not to take too long with the shopping as the leek and eggs in my shopping trolley were all important ingredients to be able to complete our lunch menu.

After such a full-on day before, it was rather lovely to have a sit-down lunch and Mark and I both commented how we would pay good money in a cafe for such a nice-looking (and tasting!) frittata.

With no rest for the wicked, we made the most of a rare rainy day and also cooked the Kiwi Shepherd's Pie recipe for dinner. It's a 'Kiwi' version due to the fact it has lamb inside and kumara on top rather than potato. It may have been more appropriate to use a purple kumara as it's more like a potato but we are especially fond of orange kumara so went with that instead. Mark had cooked a combination of lamb shanks and lamb chops in the slow cooker all day so the meat was super moist and just fell apart before it even got baked in the pie. It was such a warming, hearty dish and the cheesy topping really added to the flavour.

Weeknights for us are a bit of a mission, we have activities on with the kids most nights around dinnertime so spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing tasty family dinners is a big ask. But one of the things I do love about Chelsea Winter's recipes is that none of them involve hours slaving in the kitchen. So for our Monday night meal we'd decided on Sneaky Rissoles with Potato and Leek Smash. Mark prepared the rissole mixture in the morning and stored it in the fridge all day, as well as cutting up the leek and potato for me so that all I had to do was cook the rissoles and leek/potatoes and we were good to go. We also added some sauteed asparagus and green beans (can't get enough greens into the kids!) but the sneaky rissoles also had grated courgette and beetroot in too so they got way more vege that night than they even realised - ha ha!

Tuesday night was no less busy with swimming lessons and Pilates smack bang after each other, so with Moroccan Chicken and Apricot Salad on the menu Mark was able to prepare the chicken marinade in the morning, cook up the apricot mixture and also made the dressing too. It meant that all I had to do in the afternoon was cook the couscous for the boys / cauliflower rice for me and then BBQ the chicken on the Weber in the short window between arriving home from swimming and dashing out to Pilates when I left Mark in charge to plate it all up. So in the end, I had to wait an extra hour to eat which was nothing short of torture when I saw it all going on the plate. Fast forward an hour, and I raced in the door - I could hardly wait to sit down. If you ask hubby (he will attest that this is no lie), he'll tell you I raved and raved and raved some more about this as I was eating it. I do eat a lot of salads so I like to think I can tell a bad salad from a good salad and a good salad from a phenomenal one. And THIS salad is most definitely in the latter category. In fact I made a very big call and said this could quite possibly be my new favourite Chelsea Winter recipe. I cannot wait to make this one again.....and soon.

Last but not least, I wanted to make the boys a healthy treat for the week. Mark is still sugar-free (6 weeks and counting!) and we are trying to limit how much sugar the boys are having too so the Crispy Apricot and Chocolate Muesli Bars appealed as they only had honey to sweeten and we switched out the dark chocolate for 3 tablespoons of cocoa and voila! a tasty treat that will last all week (it made about 20 slices). I especially loved Chelsea's stroke of genius to include rice bubbles in the muesli bars for some extra crunch. So not only do I have happy boys enjoying a great refined sugar-free energy boost - which was very important with athletics day falling this week at school, but there will still be enough left for me to take along to the Year 1 and 2 school sleepover on Thursday night as well - yes I am that silly mum who volunteered to sleep with 30 other children on a week night - what was I thinking?!

I think I'll need a quiet weekend after that - and if I have anything to do with it that will also include more time in my happy place - at home in the kitchen with some more new Homemade Happiness recipes.

Homemade Happiness is published by Penguin Random House and is available from all major booksellers in NZ.

RRP: $50.00

I was provided a copy of Homemade Happiness in exchange for my review. I am not being compensated in any other way. 

16 November 2015

A Kiwi Christmas Gift: Hidden Gems of NZ 2016 Calendar

The horrifying fact is that it's less than 40 sleeps till Christmas and that's enough to send me into a bit of a tailspin, not to mention when I consider how little Christmas shopping I've actually managed to do thus far. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has grand plans about what to get their nearest and dearest and then 3 weeks later I'll be the same one standing in a queue at Farmers late night shopping in a mad rush grabbing something just for the sake of it - tell me I'm not the only one?!!

Over the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to photography some incredible locations around NZ - many of them hidden in remote countryside like The Three Sisters rock formations at Tongaporutu, the secluded, wild beach at Waikawau which is accessed only by a foot tunnel carved out of the rock 100 years ago, the Archway Islands reflected in Wharariki Beach near Farewell Spit, and the walk to Baring Head lighthouse on the south coast of Wellington.

Each of these locations are breathtaking in their own right and all for quite different reasons. What appealed to me most about including them in my 2016 calendar is that very few of these locations are typical 'NZ calendar' shots that you might see if you pick up a commercial calendar in a shop.

This year's calendar is a generous size - A3 spiral bound printed on gorgeous glossy card by a Kiwi owned company - I do love being able to support NZ businesses with my photography too!

Grab a little slice of NZ paradise for you or your loved ones' walls this Christmas with a limited edition Hidden Gems of NZ 2016 calendar.

Calendar costs include free shipping worldwide:

$30 for 1 calendar (NZ)
$50 for 2 calendars (NZ)
$35 for 1 calendar (Australia)
$40 for 1 calendar (rest of world)

Email me on photos at meghanmaloneyphotography.co.nz to place your order today, leave a comment below or visit my Photography Page to pay via Paypal.

Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement of my wee photography business - it means so much!

10 November 2015

So where was I? Ah yes...life lately...

How has it been 3 weeks since I last blogged?! I feel like I have sat down to try and write almost every day since then and I haven't even made it to the login button with so many other things taking priority every time I've tried. But I'm here now and that's what counts, right?!

Somehow the days are just flying by as we are in the middle of a very busy time with the house build, and already thinking about packing up for the move in six weeks time. It's also term 4 of school which is busy at school at the best of times let alone with hip hop, swimming, Cubs and cricket also on during the week. Throw in a long weekend away, a big walk to the Blue Spring, firework action for Guy Fawkes, phone book delivery for Cubs and it has made for a busy household - some days we don't know whether we are coming or going!

Over Labour weekend (a while ago I know) we spent a couple of days in Auckland with my oldest friend Andrea and her family. We've been friends since Intermediate so that's a cool 25 years of friendship right there...wow! We took the kids to Motat since the weather was a bit pants on Saturday, and then had a cruisy morning at home on Sunday after we all got up for the All Black semi final at 4am and were feeling a little jaded. Then we headed to Butterfly Creek for the afternoon which wasn't cheap but was a really fun family day out. The boys loved the butterflies landing on them, and were wowed (and also scared out of their wits) by the opportunity to get up close with a tarantula.

There were also two very cool crocodiles there, a dinosaur kingdom as well as a very interactive farm park - Noah and Mark got more than they were bargained for when they saw a very frisky goat jump the fence right in front of them.

After we got home, the following day (Labour Day) we went on an impromptu walk to the Blue Spring with friends Tracey, Dayne and kids. It was nearly two years since our last adventure there, and I was surprised how much the track had changed and become more commercial and how many people there were on the track (Elizabeth from To Find a Silver Lining and her family for a start - although we actually missed each other on the walk somehow!).

One Saturday the boys had 300 phone books to deliver as part of the annual Cubs fundraiser which took a few hours - but it felt good doing something for the community nevertheless. We'd already spent an hour and a half helping pack up the 10,000 phone books the night before as well!

The boys have started Friday night cricket, and what a way to start it was with a glorious sunny warm night last week. It's a lovely atmosphere with families pitching up with picnic blankets They'll be playing in a school team against other schools down at the beautiful town square which looks as much like an English county cricket club as any in the northern hemisphere.

We got together with Sam and Alesha at mum and dads and had a few (read MEGA LOADS) of fireworks last Saturday night - the joys of having left overs after selling them in the Evo Cycles shops. There were a few random ones that gave us a fright the way the wind kept blowing them back towards the house but we enjoyed getting together for the fun of it all. It's hard to believe that this time last year we came up to see Nic and Kim the same weekend (and had fireworks then too!) and it was pretty much the beginning of our journey to moving here. It's so wonderful to be able to fast forward a year and see this God-given dream has been fulfilled.

Can you see Mark's back-to-front 'I love you'?

And one of these days I will finally get around to sharing the ins and outs of the house build like I have been meaning to do for weeks with all the plans and designs etc if I can just find a few spare hours hanging around waiting for me during the day - ha ha not likely - so I'll have to just figure out a way regardless!


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