24 Feb 2015

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos

I know, I know. I'm a little Mexican obsessed.
Firstly I made those Taco Dipping Hearts and now I'm making tacos left, right and centre! So I understand if you're rolling your eyes and being all "She can't pull off a sombrero" which is probably true, but I sure as hell can make Mexican food.
These Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos are perfect for a gathering. They're filling and tasty and customisable. You can pop all sorts of fillings into these babies and they'll be delicious.

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Don't know about you but I love recipes where it's a base recipe and you can add extra little bits to make it into something different than it was before.
If you have a handful of these recipes, you can make pretty much anything and make yourself look fantastic doing it. People will be amazed at how you come up with these brilliant ideas. Trust me.

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

That means that the tacos I used here are basically the Taco Dipping Hearts from Valentine's Day. They've just been rolled out to taco size and shape and fried as normal. Then the cajun chicken comes into play and life is good.
You can make these tacos in bulk (for a gathering) and serve them cold or you could heat them up slightly in an oven but make sure they don't dry out.

Crispy Cajun Chicken

2C Plain Flour
4TBsp Cajun Spice Mix
2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
2 Eggs
Olive Oil

1// Cut your chicken thighs into thin strips. You want them about 1cmx1cm thick but don't worry if they're a little bigger than that, they'll just take a little longer to cook.
2// Beat the eggs with a dash of water until they're pale yellow.
3// Put the flour and your Cajun Spice Mix into a bowl and mix thoroughly. I used the Cape Herb and Spice Louisiana Cajun Seasoning. This is actually a product from South Africa but you can buy it at Pak 'n Save amongst a few other places.
4// Put a frying pan on the heat with a drizzle of olive oil and let it get hot.
5// Dip your chicken strips into the egg and then into the flour mixture, coating the whole piece. Then put the coated strips into the frying pan to cook. Use more oil if you want a crispier chicken and less if you're being health conscious.
6// Allow the flour to brown before turning the chicken to cook on all sides. You may want to slice into the chicken to see if it's cooked in the middle before serving.
7// Put the cooked chicken strips onto a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain and crisp up further.

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Serve this with the tacos you made earlier and fillings of your choice.
We had lettuce, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, cucumber and guacamole.
If you're making this dish for your vegetarian friends then you can cut up some eggplant or courgette and coat it in the spice (before your chicken goes in obviously) and cook it up the same way. It'll be just as tasty and ensures you don't have to make 5 different dishes to suit every guest at your gathering.

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

Crispy Cajun Chicken Tacos PlanetBakeLife

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. I had two and I literally could not eat anything else if you paid me. They are super filling and cost very little to make. It's a dinner party dream.
Also I apologise about the dark photos. I've tried to lighten them up without losing quality but I was losing light on the day. I still really wanted to post this recipe though because it is damn tasty.

18 Feb 2015

8 Steps to Leaving Quality Blog Comments

Welcome to Part 3 in my New Years Blogging Resolutions Series.
Today we're talking comments.

Now I know how you feel when you get a new comment on your blog because I get exactly the same way. You get a little tingle, you giggle and get a little excited, sometimes you're at work and you can't wait to check the comment and reply but you can't because you're super busy fixing everyone else's mistakes and it kills you inside...ok maybe that's just me.
But it is super exciting.
We all know the general blogging rule that if you comment you're likely to get comments in return. Unfortunately this has encouraged a lot of people to leave comments like "Cool shirt!" or "OMG I love doughnuts too". These are not the comments we want people. We want quality and constructive comments.

What's the best way to do that?
I'm so glad you asked!
I've put together a few guidelines for you when considering leaving a comment on someone's blog and I hope they're helpful. I like to always keep one rule in mind: you get what you give. That means that the more quality blog comments you give, the more quality blog comments you're likely to get.

1// Read the whole post
Yeah it sounds super simple and a bit of a "duh" moment but people rarely do this. How can you expect to leave a quality comment if you don't really know what you're commenting on? This is especially important when you're commenting on hot topics or conversation pieces.

2// Only comment if you have something to say
While it's lovely to get comments saying "Love this post", it's even better to get a comment telling you why the post was loved.
Try to put forward something constructive. And as sad as it may sound, if you haven't got anything to say, don't say anything at all. Wait for a post where your input will be valued and appreciated.

3// Be constructive but not rude
Sometimes people get a little confused as to what constructive means. It does not mean tear the person a new one or list all the things wrong with their post/face/argument etc.
Have you ever heard of a compliment sandwich? It's where you sandwich criticism between two compliments. You may think that sounds stupid but it's actually two fold. Firstly, it means you have to find two good things to say for every one negative thing you have to say (not that constructive criticism needs to be negative in every instance but most of the time it sounds negative whether you intend that or not) and secondly you will find that you feel better about the comment when you haven't just torn someone down.

4// Don't make comments personal
Please do not tell bloggers that they're ugly or stupid or anything else that is unnecessary and cruel. Making a comment such as "I love your blog content but sometimes I find all the widgets distracting" is fine. "I love your blog but sometimes I think you could make more of an effort to cover up your ugly" is not fine.
Bloggers are people, they have feelings and you should be respectful. It's a tough thing to put your life online so try to make it a little easier by not being a dick.

5// Don't leave your URL
This sounds counter intuitive as a blogger because we're incredibly good as self promotion (you have to be) but it's really off putting when you leave a blog URL in your comment. If you're signed in with Disqus or Google+ or you've left your information in Wordpress' required fields then you don't need to put your blog link in your comment. Allow the comment to stand on it's own and to be appreciated on it's own.
Leaving your URL can look spammy and unprofessional.

6// Personalise your comments
Bloggers have names.
It's a nice touch to mention them by name in the comment that you leave. It's personal and touching and it means that you actually read their post. Likewise, make sure the comment relates to their post and it's not just a blanketed "Awesome post!" that could easily be classed as spam.

7// Ask a question
The easiest way to engage someone is to ask a question. When you leave a comment (using the sandwich compliment) consider asking a question at the end. Like their shirt? Ask them where they got it (if it's not mentioned already in the post). Don't know where to get an ingredient? Ask if it can be substituted.
These simple questions invite conversation and interaction, something that is vital when it comes to blog comments. Chances are that a blogger will visit your blog if you take the time to ask them something and engage with their content.

8// Be chatty
Don't be afraid to leave a long blog comment. I really like getting comments that give me a lot to reply to or something to think about. I encourage this kind of comment on my content and really appreciate it when it comes my way.

Is there something that you do when you comment that you find is really effective? Let me know in the comments section and don't forget to share this post with all your blogging friends.

This is part of my New Years Blogging Resolutions Series. You can follow the series with the tag New Years Blogging Resolutions.

9 Feb 2015

Valentine's Day Heart Rosemary and Black Pepper Tortilla Chips

That's a crazy long title people.
But Valentine's Day is approaching and it's time to start making things heart shape. All the things.
These tortilla chips are so easy to make and they're heart shaped and they had rosemary in them. Basically, they're delicious and amazing and they'd be the Chris Hemsworth of tortillas if that was a thing. Which it now officially is.
So if you're single this year you can tell everyone you're spending the night with Chris Hemsworth and it's technically not lying. Kind of.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

These are really easy because you just kind of chuck everything in a bowl and smush it around for a bit. Yes, smush is a technical term for the Chris Hemsworth of the tortilla world.
You're welcome.

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

I got these pretty heart shaped cookie cutters for $2 at Kmart and they're genius. I have rounds and squares too because they vary in size and can be used for a huge range of things.
If you don't already have them, get on it.

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

This recipe calls for fresh rosemary but don't worry if you only have the dried stuff, that's cool too. We happen to have a huge rosemary bush in our garden and my aunt showed me how to get rid of the awful ivy crawler that was strangling it and now it looks young again and I feel like I administered the plant world's version of botox. My aunt ain't half bad!
I did get Michael to go into the garden with a pair of kitchen scissors and grab me some rosemary because I hurt my back recently and definitely can't make it down the stairs. I asked for a bit too much and now our whole house smells like rosemary. I'm totally not complaining.

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

The Tortillas
The recipe for these tortillas was found here originally and adapted in my kitchen.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2tsp Cracked black pepper
2TBsp Fresh Rosemary (1TBsp dried)
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup warm water

1// Clean your rosemary if it's fresh and break the leaves from the stalk. Use a half moon or a knife to cut the leaves into small pieces.
2// Put your flour, black pepper, rosemary, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Put the salt and baking powder on opposite ends of the bowl (not touching) and then use a whisk to mix it all together. It's the easiest way.
2// Add the vegetable oil and warm water to the mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine everything as much as you can.
3// Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and start to knead gently. It doesn't take much and you only need to knead the dough until it comes together and looks smooth.
4// Put the dough back into your mixing bowl and cover with a slightly damp tea towel or cloth and leave for 15 minutes. 
6// After 15 minutes, pop the dough onto a floured surface and cut into quarters. It's easier to roll it out thin this way. You can make them even smaller if you don't have enough room (like myself). I made mine pretty thin, until I could almost see through them before I cut my shapes out of them.
7// Stack the shapes on a plate or tray while you continue to cut out shapes.
8// Heat a large frying pan (mine is non-stick and didn't need any added oil but if you do need some, make it olive oil and use sparingly) to high heat and then pop your shapes into the frying pan. Put as many as you can in one go into the pan and wait a minute or two.
9// Using tongs, flip the shapes over when there are a few brown spots starting to show and let the shape brown again on the other side before removing from the pan. If they start to swell or develop bubbles, don't worry about it.
10// Pop your shapes into a serving bowl and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or Kiwi dip.

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

I want to talk about these photos if that's cool with everyone. You'll notice there are a lot.
I'm trying to get my photographer groove on which means you'll be seeing loads more photos from me. I hope that's ok.
Also, Michael wanted me to note that in addition to rosemary collector, he also played photographer for the "action" shots.

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

Rosemary and Black Pepper Valentine's Day Heart Tortilla Chips

These went down so well!
They're super filling, not like chips where the salt makes you super thirsty and you can't stop munching on them. I served these as a pre-dinner snack so I only used a quarter of the dough. The rest was packed into a ziplock bag and put in the freezer. It'll be de-frosted for next week's recipe.

2 Feb 2015

Iced Coffee in a Heat Wave

Damn it's hot, y'all.
I know, I'm not American or Southern or anything that excuses the use of y'all but there it is and I'm not taking it back. It is so hot that I give zero fucks about letting my inner soul diva bust out of her cage and smash you in the face. Too aggressive? Sorry, it's the heat.

Now if you don't know (and you should) New Zealand is a little bit coffee mad. Like more bonkers than the mad hatter and we all know he was hopping on a serious caffeine high. Personally I feel Kiwi coffee is too strong and too bitter but each to their own I say. Also I'm hoping the majority of you don't know where I live and won't be hunting me down for that statement.
Instead, I'm likely to stick my head into the chilled section of the coffee shop and come away with an iced coffee, preferably with a lot of cream on top thanks.
So today I'm bringing you my version of an iced coffee that you can sip on pool side, at the beach or in your lounge. I prefer the lounge with a fan and as little clothing as possible. Sometimes I pretend I've got a Cara Whatsherface body and a lion tattoo on my finger and I get a little too sassy when answering text messages.
None of this is a side effect of the coffee, it's just me.

Iced Coffee

100ml Kokako Cold Brew Coffee
2TBsp Runny Honey
15 Ice Cubes

1// Pop your ice cubes, cold brew coffee and honey into a food processor or blender. I used my George Foreman Mix 'n Go because I am super efficient (read lazy) and it's so easy to use.
2// Top up with milk. If you like weak coffee then quite a bit of milk will do but if you're a strong independent woman who will drink her coffee as she pleases then you go right ahead and do so. This also goes for men, you can beat your chest and roar if it makes you feel better.
3// Blend until ice cubes have been broken down and you are happy with the consistency. You can add a little bit more milk if you want it runnier or hold off if you want something like a slushy.
4// Top with whipped cream and chocolate or sprinkles.

Pro Tip: Wet the rim of the container with water and roll it in sprinkles then use a funnel to get the iced coffee into the container without messing with those awesome colours.

These cute milk bottles were purchased from Kmart in a six pack for $6 and the straws came with them. Everyone benefited a little the day I bought these on a whim in the queue.
You can still grab a pack for yourself but be warned, you will try to serve everything in them and people will get mad.

What's your go to summer drink?