I can be little predicable when it comes to soup. Pumpkin is a family favourite, as is chicken or vegetable soup when there are sniffles in the household. Potato and leek is a regular go-to, as is tomato (with fond memories of childhood family lunches where the soup was mopped up with slices of freshly baked bread).
But a soup in a recent Woolworths (?) magazine caught my attention. Not only did it have one of my favourite ingredients (quinoa) it also included a packet of crunchy sprouts. Something I had never thought of including in a soup before!
The soup was flavoured with fennel and mustard seeds, along with garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry powder. Aside from the sprouts and quinoa, I also added zucchini, celery, carrot, tomatoes and capsicum. Served with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of coriander.
What a truly tasty and hearty meal this turned out to be! I loved the spiciness and the crunch of the sprouts, and we readily went back for seconds when our first bowls disappeared. A perfect little addition to our regular soup regime indeed.
When catching up with some friends the other day, the subject turned to food. More specifically, kids and food. And just how much the little ones can put away.
There were furious nods of agreement when we mentioned that a loaf of bread can disappear in a single afternoon. When only going through 8 litres of milk in a week is considered a ‘good’ week. And when the “I’m hungry” calls start from the moment they arrive home from school.
And while my three girls are no different, I feel as if I’ve gotten off a little more lightly (at least for now) than my friend who has the voracious appetites of three teenage boys to deal with.
We then reminisced about the great banana crisis of 2011, when Cyclone Yasi destroyed over 75% of Australia’s banana crops. Bananas were in such short supply that it was not unusual to see them selling for $3 each! The community was outraged and anyone that walked into work with a coveted banana had their salary questioned!
The irony being that we generally do not hesitate to fork over at least that amount for a single avocado.
$3 for a banana? Outrageous!! $3 for an avocado? Bargain – give me 2!
I had to laugh, for I am most certainly someone that loves avocadoes and they feature quite regularly on our weekly meal plan.
Take this BLAT salad, for instance. Which was thrown together for an easy, speedy weeknight dinner.
Bacon, crunchy lettuce, boiled egg, tomatoes, sauerkraut and cucumber. And, of course, avocado. Which in this case was sprinkled with black chia seeds.
From memory, the avocado was “on sale” for $2.50 and, thinking it was a bargain, I of course grabbed two! Questionable frugality aside, it was a lovely addition to this tasty little salad.
You can find the recipe I used for inspiration here.
Yes, friends, Summer is feeling like a long time ago (and a long time to come around again).
Our hats have been replaced with beanies, shorts with warm pants and I am well and truly wearing layers and gloves on my morning walk. My car’s windscreen is already icy in the morning (having given up my spot in the garage to a cubby house that has been under construction for far too long), and the kids have been asking for hot chocolates instead of their usual smoothies.
So I guess it is no surprise that hearty, comfort food has returned to our weekly meal plans. The slow cooker is generally on my kitchen bench, or a stew slowly bubbling away in the oven. And, when I am feeling particularly needy of a cosy meal, a soup will almost certainly be on the stove top.
This Thai-style pumpkin and cauliflower soup made a welcomed appearance a little while ago. The vegetables were roasted, then combined with red curry paste, onion, chicken stock and a little coconut milk. Cooked and blended to perfection, then topped with fresh coriander, a drizzle of coconut milk and some fried wonton wrappers.
Hearty and delicious! With a great yield too so we had lots leftover for lunch and dinner the following days.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Miss C – who started Grade 1 this year, and has been delivering her first ever school projects. The focus last term was on healthy eating and lifestyles (something we are only too happy to embrace!) and saw the students do 3 presentations on various topics.
The first project required the students to cook a healthy meal and present it to the class. When tasked with the project, Miss C had no hesitation in suggesting that she make her healthier fried rice – aka something that my kids request quite often for lunch or dinner. Sure it has a little bacon, but the remaining ingredients are healthy, and the method is simple, making it a rather perfect meal for kids to help create and share!
Miss C had so much fun measuring out the ingredients, and setting up her cooking equipment. She then created a poster, outlining the various steps – as follows…
Get your ingredients. On this occasion it was brown rice, peas, corn, bacon and a little soy sauce. We’ve also used carrots, zucchini and eggs on previous occasions. 2. Grab a pan and heat a little oil over a medium heat (with the help of a grown up of course!).3. Add your ingredients, heat and stir.
4. Serve and Enjoy!My little budding chef and her grand creation. And I’m told she did beautifully in presenting her project to the class also (proud parent moment right there!!)
We tend to have at least one meat-free day a week. It isn’t necessarily ‘planned’, as such, it just tends to work out that way when we are deciding what our dinners will be for the week. Be it tofu, or perhaps beans, the choices seem to be relatively endless.
One vegetarian product that I always make sure we have in the freezer is edamame. For not only are they great as a snack, or tossed through a salad, but I love using them as ‘base’ in recipes that call for beans. On this particular occasion (which in the interests of full disclosure, was a month or so ago now) edamame starred alongside chickpeas to create some tasty felafels.
And not only were they tasty, they were oven-baked – meaning that they were a healthy version too.
Simply – edamame (defrosted and podded), combined with chickpeas, pistachios, lemon zest and juice, garlic and some spices. Shaped into balls and baked for 30 minutes or so – or until golden brown and lightly crispy.
We served the felafels with wholemeal pita pockets and salad, with a good amount of natural yogurt and hummus on the side- resulting in a rather tasty vegetarian dinner.
I’ve been back at work for around 6 weeks now, working 3 days per week in the office. Slowly but surely we are working out what is to be the new ‘normal’ – with the 3 days I’m in the office being referred to by the little members in our house as the “rush days”.
For these particular days, bags are packed and clothes are set out the night before, and I spend time preparing as much as I can for lunches over the weekend. I’m generally up at 4.30am to fit in a walk before the household wakes, then it is home to shower, make breakfast, feed the baby, throw smoothies at the biggest kids, wrangle everyone into clothes and into the car – so that we can leave the house by 7.30am to get to the various daycare / school drop offs and (finally) head into work.
Yes “rush” would be an understatement.
So I’m sure that you can understand that by the third rush day everyone’s energy levels are starting to wane and tempers are running a little high. The kids (and I!) start to get a bit more cranky, and getting out of the house takes a little more gentle persuasion than on the first rush day.
Constant throughout this new ‘normal’, however, is our preference for easy and speedy midweek meals. Actually, not just a preference – a must. Something healthy and that is full of flavour, to keep our batteries recharged.
Take this poached chicken and coleslaw salad for instance. Pulled together with relative ease in no time at all.
I poached chicken breasts in chicken stock, with some peppercorns, ginger and garlic. Shredded then added to a coleslaw salad, made with mesculin, shredded purple cabbage, carrots, spring onions and a little corn I had leftover in the fridge. Dressed simply with sesame oil, soy and lemon juice, and finished with sliced red chilli and a good amount of coriander.
Easy, fuss-free and healthy. Not to mention SPEEDY – giving us more time to prepare for the rush day ahead.
My love of spicy foods has definitely grown and developed over the years. So much so that aside from a brief abstinence during my first pregnancy (when all spicy foods randomly lost their appeal) many of our dinners will include some sort of chilli or heat-inducing spice.
I’ve also been known to snack on carrots dipped in chilli sauce, but that’s a story for another day…
Needless to say, a recipe for green chicken curry meatballs in a recent Taste magazine edition caught my attention. You can find the recipe here.
The chicken meatballs were made using mince, coriander, ginger, garlic and spring onions. Lightly fried, then added to a spicy green curry mixture. Served with rice vermicelli noodles, bamboo shoots and spinach, and finished with some fresh coriander and cucumber (and a good amount of lime juice). Resulting in what can only be described as a rather tasty (and spicy!) mid-week meal.
If I had to name my top 3 grains, couscous would definitely be right up there. For not only does it taste good, it is really quick and easy to prepare (aka. the two winning factors in my dinner-making book).
I generally reach for the couscous when I have something spicy or herb-filled on the menu. For it seems to lend itself to Mediterranean-style meals, adding some ‘filler’ without adding too much flavour to what is already a bold-flavoured meal.
So when I had a big batch of vegetables and spicy chorizo roasting in the oven a while ago, it was little surprise that I made a bowl of couscous to serve alongside. Flavoured simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh herbs.
A dinner bowl packed with flavour – with the couscous being the star accompaniment for sure!
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a roasting dish with baking paper, and spread over the chopped onion, capsicum, pumpkin and chorizo.
Combine the oil, honey, harissa and cumin, and pour over the vegetables and chorizo. Bake for 30 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and zucchini to the baking tray, and continue to roast for a further 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place couscous in a bowl with 1.5 cups of boiling water. Cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until cooked. Fluff the grains with a fork, and then stir through the lemon juice and herbs.
Serve the couscous with the roasted chorizo and vegetables, along with some mixed lettuce leaves.
Lately, I’ve really mixing things up when it comes to the ‘carb’ part of our meals. Brown rice and quinoa are undoubtedly the regulars, or polenta if I’ve made a stew, but when it comes to salads I often go with noodles!
On this particular occasion it was soba noodles that added some carbohydrate to our dinner. And given they only require a couple minutes cooking time, it’s no surprise that I find them handy to have in the pantry.
The salad itself was pretty easy to prepare too. I used some leftover shredded chicken – warmed up with a splash of soy sauce and a good amount of sweet chilli sauce. The salad was then built with crunchy lettuce, shredded carrot and cabbage, cucumber, snowpeas, coriander and some extra red chilli for a little heat. Basically whatever I had leftover in the fridge!
From thought to plate in under 15 minutes = winning!
What about you? Are you a fan of noodles in salad?
Father’s Day is becoming quite the event as our girls grow. Homemade presents are in abundance (thanks to School and Daycare), and the girls seem to be at that perfect age and have a wonderful time spoiling their Dad on his special day.
After a relaxing morning filled with presents and cuddles, our annual Father’s Day tradition continued with a family lunch. And, as is the case each year, we selected an international theme for the meal.
This year – it was all things Greek! Starring freshly picked lemons and rosemary from our garden to give the table a Mediterranean feel.
We actually opted for a late lunch (linner), as it works well with the girls’ nap times and means that they can join us for the meal. Although as is the case each year, linner soon turns into dinner, as we chat and eat our way through the afternoon and into the evening.
On the menu this year?
Spinach and feta pinwheels to start – that I made the day before and reheated just before serving. Washed down with a pre-lunch cocktail – of course – a Santorini Sunrise.
Made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.
For the main course – we served chicken souvlaki skewers, keftedes, roasted lemon potatoes, a burghul salad and a green salad. With homemade tzatziki and a fig and olive relish on the side, along with some flatbread.
And for dessert? This rather impressive-looking baklava cheesecake (recipe here).
A lovely baked vanilla cheesecake, with a honey / nut crumble and enclosed in filo pastry. Served with a honey cinnamon syrup. YUM!
And so another Father’s Day celebration came to an end, with full bellies and lots of laughs.
Adding another country to our list of Father’s Day lunch destinations too!