Sweet Chilli Chicken Soba Salad

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?

Spicy Chicken Tacos with Avocado Dressing

I’m sure it will come as no surprise when I tell you that our evening routine is a little “unpredictable” at the moment. Nothing too dramatic, just a bit more on the relaxed side as we settle into life as a family of 5. Miss Maggie tends to want to nurse, pretty much non-stop, from around 5pm – which coincides with the other girls’ dinner and bath time, and the time I’d usually be spending working on dinner for the ‘grownups’ too.

But we all need to eat, and I am trying to avoid takeout where I can, so I’m pleased to report meal planning is still in full force. Actually, if anything, meal planning is probably a tad stricter than ever at the moment as ducking to the supermarket with three kids in tow is not all that appealing. I’m doing the bulk of our grocery shopping online, and loving being able to sit down and order groceries from the comfort of the couch after the bigger kids have gone to bed. Not to mention having a weeks worth of fresh ingredients literally delivered to my kitchen at a time that suits us!

The meals themselves, however, have generally been quick and easy to prepare. Leftovers are then tucked away for a quick lunch the following day, or frozen for future dinners when cooking one-handed is inevitable.

One of our favourite meals, lately, has been tacos. The kids prefer the crunchy shelled tacos, generally filled with some sort of savoury mince and vegetables. While I tend to go with soft tortillas, filled with whatever we have on hand.

On this occasion, I found inspiration in a Healthy Food Guide magazine – in the form of spicy chicken tacos. The added bonus being that they came together in no time at all.

Chicken – spiced and grilled in the sandwich press – piled high onto wholemeal tortillas and topped with pre-cut coleslaw. Actually the only real effort, if you could even call it ‘effort’, was blending up the avocado/ yoghurt dressing to serve alongside.

Definitely a winner all round!

Spicy chicken tacos with avocado dressing (serves 4)

  • 500g chicken tenderloins
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbs lime juice
  • Bag of pre-cut coleslaw
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • Warmed wholemeal tortillas, to serve
  1. Combine the spices, oil and 2 tbs of the lime juice. Add the chicken and toss to coat well.
  2. Pre-heat chargrill pan or frypan over a medium heat. Grill chicken until cooked through. Place on a plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the avocado, yoghurt and remaining lime juice in a small bowl, and stir until smooth. Season.
  4. Fill the warmed tortillas with the chicken, coleslaw and avocado dressing.

 

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Healthy Ranch Dressing

There have been a lot of salads for dinner in the MCP kitchen of late, but the warmer weather brings with it my general craving for salads. Something cool and crunchy, with an added protein, and a nice homemade dressing – yes nice healthy end to the day when I don’t feel like turning the oven on.

This recipe for a Buffalo Chicken Salad that I came across here caught my attention. A spicy chicken, served on a bed of lettuce, carrots, celery and crunchy gala apples.But instead of going with a store-bought ranch dressing, I decided to make my own – with a couple healthy tweaks.

Greek yoghurt in place of mayonnaise, spiced up with garlic powder, mustard powder and a bunch of fresh herbs. And after playing around with the ingredients for a while, I soon had a blend that I will be sure to make again.

Tangy from the yoghurt, and packed with flavour owing to the fresh herbs, this is one versatile dressing! I think you could quite easily use it as a dip too – just add a little less water…

Healthy Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, chopped dill and basil)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs water*
  1. Combine all ingredients with 1 tbs water. Add more water if you would like a thinner dressing (or keep it thicker if you are using it as a dip).
  2. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Honey miso chicken meatballs

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Meatballs are one of those dishes that I really enjoy, but rarely make.  This is, until, a recipe captures my eye, or a particular craving strikes.

Both happened recently, when I saw a recipe for honey miso meatballs in Taste magazine . I knew I had half a container of miso paste in the fridge, and the flavour combination really appealed to me, so needless to say the dish was added to our weekly meal plan without hesitation.

img_8399 I relied on this recipe, but made a few changes along the way. I used chicken mince in place of turkey mince, and added  baby spinach leaves for some extra green.  I had a bag of frozen edamame in the freezer so there was no problem there (although I can never seem to stop myself from snacking on edamame before it is added to a meal…yum!)

The result? Delish!

I really enjoyed the new spin on an old favourite, and was left wondering why I had not gone with an ‘Asian’ style meatball before. The miso shone through, and I loved the sticky honey and ginger glaze.

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Even the kids jumped on board, and were more than happy to gobble up the leftovers the next day.

Well the meatballs and noodles, at least. The greens….yeah not so much.

 

Warm Chicken and Quinoa Salad

If I needed any reassurance that we are a long way from Summer, the fact it was minus 4 on my morning walk was proof enough. Crunchy white grass met me as I stepped outside, and the neighbourhood cars were covered with a thick layer of frost.

I was pretty warm with my 4 layers of clothing on (plus gloves and beanie), admittedly, although my nose wouldn’t stop running and I returned home with a nice ‘red cheek’ glow.  And my cravings throughout the day were a long way from the salads I normally have for lunch. Instead I opted for a big plate of comforting pasta, without a moment’s hesitation.

Although salads do tend to lose their appeal in Winter, this one was still a winner. The fact it was warm probably helped, and the quinoa added a nice feeling of ‘bulk’ to what was, in all reality, a rather light dinner.

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I opted to oven-bake the chicken (free house heating!), although you could quite easily pan-fry the chicken too – if that is your preference.  And feel free to play around with the ingredients – depending what you have on hand!

IMG_8147 Warm Chicken and Quinoa Salad (serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked per packet directions
  • 2 x small chicken breasts (or one large)
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon + extra
  • 1 tbs olive oil  + extra
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1tsp minced lemon grass
  • chopped sundried tomatoes and pitted kalamata olives (as many as you like)
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • The kernels from one corn-cob
  • 1/2 avocado (or more if you like), sliced
  • a handful of chopped parsley and coriander + extra to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, zest, oil, ginger and lemon grass in a small bowl.
  3. Place chicken and  in a baking dish, and pour over the oil mixture. Turn to coat well. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients, and divide among serving bowls. Top with the sliced chicken and remaining herbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

What about you? Do you crave salads in Winter?

Chilli lemon chicken Banh Mi

I *could* bore you with stories about our lack of sleep this week, owing to a teething (?) bub and a generally overtired pre-schooler. But instead I want to take a delicious trip down memory lane, when this delightful little dinner made an appearance in our household. Chilli lemon chicken Banh Mi. Try saying that 5 times fast Winking smile  A quick and easy dinner, thrown together in under 10 minutes. I kid you not. IMG_4566 Roast-chicken, reheated with a little oil, lemon zest and a tablespoon of chilli sauce. IMG_4567 Piled into a baguette spread generously with mayonnaise (jazzed up with a teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic and a little squeeze of lemon juice). Then topped with a carrot pickle (shredded carrot, 1/2 red onion, 1 tbs vinegar, 1tsp sugar and a pinch of salt). IMG_4568 Finished with a good amount of fresh coriander and some mixed lettuce leaves. IMG_4574 And dinner was served! I loved the lemony-take on an old classic, with the chilli chicken flavour shining through too. Definitely a great meal when short on time! What about you? What is your favourite sandwich filling?

Blood Orange and Frangelico Marmalade & a recipe

IMG_4345 The lovely guys at Red Belly Citrus surprised me with a big box of blood oranges recently. And while most got put to good use as juice and afternoon snacks, and some were gifted to fellow orange-lovers, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at marmalade. For I am quite partial to the citrus-based spread, and I knew that it would be a welcomed addition to our pantry. IMG_4332 I followed this recipe – and well it was pretty straight-forward to prepare. Blood oranges, sliced thinly and soaked overnight in water…. IMG_4333 Simmered for about 45 minutes, before adding the Frangelico and jam setting sugar. Then boiled until setting point. IMG_4335IMG_4338 So much marmalade goodness! IMG_4342 This yielded a lot of marmalade. I bottled some – and used the remainder for a sticky marmalade chicken.  Simply – chicken thighs, thrown into the slow cooker with 1 cup marmalade, 2 tbs water, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp minced garlic and 1 tsp minced ginger – and cooked on low for 6 hours. IMG_4355 Served on quinoa, with a side of vegetables. IMG_4353 Sticky, sweet and delicious! What about you? Do you make your own jam or marmalade?

Tahini chicken caesar salad

IMG_2991 Yes, friends, my love for tahini is ever strong. Particularly when it comes to adding a little nuttiness to dressings and sauces – you will always find me grabbing for the tahini. IMG_2985 On one such occasion, quite a while ago now, I had a craving for caesar salad. But not the usually calorific caesar salads you will find in the shops or on the cafe menu. Nay – a lightened up version. IMG_2986 With tahini and yoghurt as the main dressing ingredients, jazzed up a little more with the addition of garlic, dijon, lemon juice and worcestershire sauce. IMG_2987 And, as for the rest of the salad, the chicken was given a little citrus kick with another favourite ingredient of mine – lemon pepper! IMG_2983 Grilled then piled upon a bed of dressed crunchy cos lettuce and cucumber. Finished with a sprinkling of parmesan and a boiled egg on the side. IMG_2988 I loved the tangy dressing – of which the tahini was key. Coupled with the zingy grilled chicken…delish! IMG_2989 So easy to put together – and a lovely healthy take on the original. Tahini Caesar Salad Dressing  (serves 2)

  • 2 tbs natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Add a little water if the dressing is too thick. Season to taste.

What about you? What is your favourite homemade dressing?

Warm chicken and pumpkin salad

Some meals require very few words. They come together easily, almost haphazardly, but result in a little taste sensation that is worthy of a blog post. IMG_3756 Yes,  friends, this was my attempt at keeping salad-cravings alive, despite the cold weather outside. And boy has it been cold lately – suggesting that we are in for a killer of a Winter. But I digress…. Simply – chicken breasts – roasted and then shredded. Piled atop a bed of lettuce and made all the more hearty with the addition of roasted pumpkin, avocado and tomatoes. Finished with a drizzle of caramelised balsamic vinegar. IMG_3757 Dinner, is served. IMG_3759

Kitchen sink salad

IMG_3306 Happy Monday lovely people! Let me start this week off by sharing with you a favourite meal from the weekend. Not a meal that was *planned* – rather it was a chance to use up some leftover ingredients we had in the fridge. A ‘kitchen sink’ salad, if you will. For protein – we baked a chicken breast,  grilled a few rashers of bacon, then decided to also boil some eggs at the last minute. IMG_3300 For salad – it was whatever I could find – lettuce, tomato, cucumber and snowpeas. To finish – we threw on some roasted cashews and coriander – and drizzled the lot with a ‘dressing’ I made using ketjap manis, sweet chilli sauce and sesame oil. IMG_3299 Did I mention it was random? IMG_3303 Proof again – that sometimes the tastiest meals can be those that are not planned at all! IMG_3304 What about you? Have you come up with any ‘random’ dinner combinations lately?