29 July 2014

Vegetable quinoa soup

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Thus hubs has been struck down with ‘man flu’. Or so it seems. So in order to get him back on his feet as soon as possible – or at least attempt to – I’ve been focusing on veggie-rich meals. Lots of vitamins, and nutrients, and lots of garlic.

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One such meal – was this vegetable quinoa soup. Comprised literally with whatever vegetable I could find in the fridge, and pulled together with some herbs, stock and a secret ingredient….quinoa!

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A one pot meal – that successfully warmed us from the inside out. Full to the brim with tasty vegetables, bulked up with quinoa for some added protein.

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Served with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, but I think other fresh herbs would work just as nicely too.

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Vegetable quinoa soup (serves 3-4)

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1/4 cauliflower – broken into small florets
  • 1/4 pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 L vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Water as required
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the leek, garlic and spices – and heat, stirring, until the leek starts to soften.
  2. Add the vegetables, and stir well to coat with the leek/spice mix.
  3. Add the stock, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the quinoa, and cover. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.  Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Ladle into serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of parsley.

What about you? Tried any new soup combinations lately?

22 July 2014

Honey mustard chicken salad

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I do hope you’ll bear with me, as I transition through a very busy few months. Work “time” has taken a necessary precedence over “play” time – which has basically seen me flitting from meeting to meeting and spending too many hours with my head in the books. And, despite my best intentions, my favourite kitchen time has taken a back seat.

For the moment, at least.

But I am here, still cooking, still creating….when time permits. And I do hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that will see me back in the kitchen on a more regular basis. Back to cooking for pleasure, and not just ‘convenience’ – and back to embracing the calm that time in the kitchen inevitably provides.

For when meals like this find their way to our table, I am happy.

They are not difficult, or complex, but homemade and make my tummy sing.

Honey mustard chicken salad.

Chicken – enclosed in foil – and baked alongside a big tray of sweet potatoes.

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Piled high on a bed of lettuce and avocado, and drizzled with a homemade honey mustard dressing.

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Simple to prepare – yet packed with flavour. And a ‘warm’ option to keep our Winter cravings satisfied – along with a hint of heat from the hot mustard.

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Not to mention healthy!

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Honey mustard chicken salad (serves 2)

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • 1 sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • mixed lettuce leaves
  • 1tbs seeded mustard
  • 1 tsp hot English mustard
  • 1tbs honey
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Place the sliced sweet potato on a lined baking tray.
  3. Meanwhile, lay the chicken breasts on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with a little oil and season. Enclose, and place into the oven after 10 minutes. Continue cooking the chicken / sweet potato fir a further 30 minutes – or until both cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile – combine the mustards, honey, vinegar and olive oil – and whisk until well combined.
  5. Place salad leaves and avocado in a bowl. Top with sliced chicken, sweet potato, and drizzle with the dressing to taste.

What about you? How do you relax when life gets crazy?

19 July 2014

6 things Saturday

1. Unfortunately the little Miss is still under the weather, with her seemingly innocent cold tuning into bronchitis and an ear infection?!

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2. So needless to say our week has been spent in the warmth of indoors – and involved a lot of this…

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Her new favourite…Tinkerbell!

3. It has also involved a lot of this, for C…

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(being the one food she will reliably eat when her appetite is lacking….)

4. And this for me…

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Caffeine. Yep we are well and truly loving the convenience of our new Nespresso machine.

4. Illnesses aside, we managed to fit in a few salads this week. I think I was trying to forget that it was zero degrees outside – and bring back memories from warmer summer days….

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(warm chicken, sweet potato and avocado salad – with a homemade honey mustard dressing)

5. Another ‘lovely’ from the week?

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These gorgeous roses brightening up our living room.

6. Well we are braving the cold tonight (sans Miss C) to watch the Brumbies play! Here’s hoping they can bring home a win!

What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

16 July 2014

Pesto pasta with broccoli and sundried tomatoes

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Yes, lovely people, the title pretty much sums up this tasty little pasta dish we enjoyed recently.

The weather was dreary, and we had a hankering for carbs.

So pasta it was.

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Simply – linguine – cooked until al dente – then thrown into a pan with steamed broccoli, basil pesto, sundried tomatoes and garlic – then allowed to heat through.

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Topped with a good amount of parmesan cheese – and served alongside a garlic baguette – and our hankering for carbs was well and truly sated.

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Yes I cant help but feel our tastebuds have been hibernating this Winter. Long gone are the salads and BBQs of summer. And in their place sit hearty stews, comforting pasta and firer curries.

Even the little Miss got in on the pasta action!

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(Actually I think she preferred the garlic bread…..)

What about you? Have you got a favourite pasta combination?

14 July 2014

Olive and sundried tomato focaccia

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Happy Monday lovely people. I trust that you all had a wonderful weekend. Truthfully, ours was not quite as expected. For the little Miss was unwell for most of it, so a lot of time was spent dozing on the couch – hopefully fighting off whatever bug has been present.

We did, however, have a pretty busy week last week. We had guests for dinner not once, but twice, and even went out for dinner another night. And while my pants are perhaps a little tighter for it, we certainly enjoyed quite a few tasty meals.

One such evening – it was roast lamb. With all the trimmings – roasted vegetables, a cauliflower bake, greens, gravy…..

But besides all that  - I couldn’t resist creating a little bread dish to start.

Olive and sundried tomato focaccia to be precise.

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I followed this recipe, basically, but added some sundried tomato as well as the olives.

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And while the end result was rather tasty – it perhaps lacked a little ‘rise’ but I’m blaming that on a shortness of proving time on what was a cold Canberra day.

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We sliced and served the focaccia as a starter – still warm as it was fresh from the oven.

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And it was just as yummy the following day – when I used it to make a toasted sandwich for lunch.

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This was definitely an apt reminder at how lovely home-baked bread is – and a nudge to get my ‘bread-bake’ on more often! For it really is very simple – even if it does take a bit of prep work…

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What about you? Do you like making your own bread?

10 July 2014

One pot meal - Smoky pulled pork

IMG_0327Over the weekend, I sent out a “help me” to my fellow Canberra foodies. For I had pulled pork on the menu – that called for a tin of chipotle chillies, but no idea where to find them. My fellow foodies were ever helpful, and it wasn’t long before I had a tin of these beautiful peppers in my hot little hand.

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(FYI - I found them at The Essential Ingredient in Kingston, and am also reliably informed that the Asian Grocer at the Fyshwick Markets stocks them also).

My inspiration came in the form of a recent Donna Hay magazine, and with a few adjustments, we soon were on our way to pulled pork heaven.

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What I loved about this dish, was that it was really a ‘one pot’ meal. No browning of the meat, no separate cooking of the ingredients required.  Literally it was one of those “throw it all in and walk away” meals – that still impresses on flavour.

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Covered, cooked on low, and we were greeted by beautifully tender pork a couple hours later….

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A word of warning - this dish yielded a lot of pulled pork. So much so – that it would easily feed 10 or so if you were to serve it with some side dishes.

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As for us – well we put it to a couple uses. First – and perhaps most delicious in its simplicity – the pork was served in toasted Turkish rolls with coleslaw.

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The second night – when the heat had intensified even more (yes those chipotle chillies sure do pack a spicy smoky punch), I made some cheese and pickle scones – and also served the pork with a side salad.

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The third night…..well you get the picture!

Let’s just say this is definitely a dish we will make again – but probably when we have occasion to feed many mouths!

Smoky pulled pork (serves 8-10) (adapted from Donna Hay)

  • 2kg boneless pork shoulder, skin removed and cut into 8cm pieces
  • 1 orange – rind grated + juiced
  • 2 cups orange juice - extra
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tbs sweet paprika
  • 200g can of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
  • 400g can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 extra tomatoes, diced
  1. Place the pork in a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover tightly, and simmer on low for 2 hours.
  3. Remove the lid, and continue cooking for a further 30-45minutes – stirring as required.
  4. Remove the pork pieces, and shred using two forks.
  5. Return the pork to the pan, stir well to combine, and reheat gently.

What about you? Are you a fan of pulled pork?

08 July 2014

Quinoa and roasted vegetable “risotto”

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This meal, enjoyed some time ago, was certainly a winner. But then again, when there are roasted vegetables involved – you can’t really go wrong can you?

It was called a ‘risotto’ but you had to keep an open mind. For it didn’t have the creaminess of a traditional risotto – but it did have a lot of flavour.

First – the roast vegetables. In my case, I used pumpkin, capsicum and a couple mushrooms. Drizzled with olive oil and baked for 20 minutes or so.

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Meanwhile РI saut̩ed some garlic in a little olive oil Рthen added a cup of quinoa Рallowing the grains to be coated. Next, some vegetable stock, and cooked on low until the quinoa had absorbed the liquid.

To finish – it couldn’t be simpler. In went the roasted vegetables, a good amount of baby spinach and thyme leaves, a little parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

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Piled high on a plate – and topped with a little extra parmesan.

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We really enjoyed this vegetarian meal. Simple to prepare – and packed with flavour, I quickly declared that it was being added to “the list”.

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And with quinoa as the base – you could really flavour the dish with whatever vegetables you had on hand. I think sweet potato or semi dried tomatoes would also work beautifully….

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What about you? Cooked any ‘winners’ recently?