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. 

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