Spicy lentil stew

It is rather appropriate that I am posting about a slow-cooked stew on a day where the temperature has not exceeded 8 degrees outside (although, if I’m completely honest, it feels more like 2 degrees).

I know this because I took my regular morning walk this morning, and despite wearing thermals, gloves and a beanie, I still returned home with chilled toes and a yearning for a warm bowl of something for lunch. Luckily, I had made a batch of this stew a few weeks back, with extra portions frozen for a later date. So today was definitely that ‘later date’!

Created on a Monday – which is now known as ‘slow cooker Monday’ in our house, this stew was so very easy to prepare. With one pot, lots of vegetables and the benefit of time – a delicious meal was brought to life with minimal effort on our part.

Today I kept it super simple, and served the stew with a side of greens and a sprinkle of parsley. But if you were wanting to make the meal even more substantial, I think a spoonful of yoghurt or sourcream, and a side of toasted flatbread or sourdough, would work just beautifully.

Print Recipe
Spicy lentil stew
Course Main Dish
Course Main Dish
  1. Put the vegetables and lentils in a slow cooker, along with the garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper and stock. Stir to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Just before serving, stir through the lemon juice and season to taste.
  3. Divide into bowls and top with parsley and sour cream / yoghurt to serve.
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Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup

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.

Print Recipe

Thai style pumpkin and cauliflower soup

Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours



Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours



  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper.

  2. Place the pumpkin and cauliflower on the trays and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from oven and set-aside.

  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, and sauté the onion until starting to soften. Add the curry paste, and cook - stirring - for one minute.

  4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the pumpkin and cauliflower and simmer for 15 minutes.

  5. Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Stir in half of the coconut milk and season as necessary.

  6. Divide the soup amongst serving bowls. Tope with an extra drizzle of coconut milk, the wonton strips and fresh coriander.

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Curried sausages

IMG_4004 Growing up, both my parents worked shift work, so it wasn’t unusual for the household chores – including cooking – to be divided up amongst the family members. And, hands down, when it was Dad’s turn to cook – you could be sure that there was curry powder involved. And minted peas tarnishing my beloved macaroni cheese – but we won’t dredge up that horrific memory…. Back to the curry! IMG_3991 One evening, not so long ago, I found myself paying homage to those curry-filled days – with none other than a good ol’ batch of curried sausages. IMG_3993 A one pot meal – filled with flavour and spice. IMG_3996 Although I’m not sure that our childhood version was served with couscous, natural yoghurt and fresh parsley??? IMG_3999 A deliciously spicy, belly-warming tribute nonetheless! IMG_4001 Curried sausages (serves 4-6)

  • 6 thick sausages
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 400g diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1tbs cornflour + 1 tbs water
  • natural yoghurt, couscous and chopped parsley, to serve
  1. Place sausages in a large pan, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 3 minutes. Remove from water and slice.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onion and carrot and cook until starting to soften. Add the curry powder, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the brown sugar, stock, tomatoes – and return the sausages to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the peas, and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Combine the cornflour and water, and add to the sausages to thicken the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve portions of the curried sausages with couscous, natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of parsley.

What about you? What dishes did your Dad love to cook?

Pork, tomato and barley stew

IMG_3988 Friends, the barley obsession continues, as does my love for slow cooked one-pot meals. And this tasty little stew did not fail to please. Pork shoulder, cooked slowly in a gorgeous tomato sauce, with the addition of  barley to really make it something special. IMG_3981 Finished with  rocket and olives, and some crusty bread on the side for dipping. IMG_3984 Yes our bellies were singing the praises of this tasty little mid-week meal, and it has certainly been added to the repertoire. Pork, tomato and barley stew (adapted from Supergrains) – serves 4-6

  • 1kg diced pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100g speck, diced
  • 1.5 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbs honey

Rocket, green olives, parsley and crusty bread to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over a medium heat. Add the pork, in batches, cooking until brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and speck to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sherry and allow to evaporate. Add the tomato, tomato paste, barley and stock, and stir to combine.
  5. Return the pork to the pan, cover, and cook in the oven for 2-2.5 hours (add more stock if the stew is starting to dry out) Stir through honey.
  6. Serve with bread, rocket, sliced green olives and chopped parsley.

Pulled pork lasagne

Ok. Its official. My tastebuds have moved from salads to slow cooking and I don’t see this changing, at least in any significant way, until Winter passes. Particularly not when dishes like this are on offer… Pulled pork lasagne. I’m pretty sure I found the recipe in the latest Donna Hay magazine… IMG_3837 One chilly afternoon, I got to work putting the dish together – starting with the sauce. And while it was far from a speedy dish (it probably took close to 4 hours all together), there was very little ‘hands on’ required. To make the sauce, the pork was browned then combined with a bunch of other ingredients – onions, garlic, paprika, malt vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, tomatoes and stock. IMG_3838IMG_3839 Into the oven for 3 hours at a slow temperature, turning the pork from this… IMG_3840 Into this! IMG_3843 And I knew this was going to be good when I couldn’t even get the pieces of pork out of the pan without it breaking between my tongs. Yes, it was one tender pot of pork – that shredded with ease. IMG_3845 Back into the pot with the other goodies, and we had ourselves one of the best lasagne sauces I’ve created! IMG_3846 And, while I had initially planned to add some kale or other green, I ended up keeping it simple. Lasagne sheets, meat sauce, grated provolone and mozzarella, topped with a homemade béchamel sauce. IMG_3848IMG_3849IMG_3850IMG_3851 Into the oven for a further 40 minutes, until brown and bubbly on top. IMG_3852 Served simply with a side salad, and well I was sold on this pulled meat lasagne variety. The pork was rich, and the cheeses made for a rather indulgent finished product. IMG_3856 Definitely one to be added to the ‘list’! Next time, I may return to a beef base – but will be trying out the slow cooked / pulled method again for sure. What about you? Are you a fan of lasagne?

Jamie Oliver Pork Ragu

IMG_0723 The final meal in our ‘Jamie Oliver roast pork week’ came at a perfect time. For comfort food was craved, and nothing speaks comfort more than a big bowl of pasta. IMG_0722 And a slow roasted pork ragu nonetheless. Although, all the hard work had been done earlier in the week – when we slow roasted the pork shoulder for 5 hours! All I had to do, on this fine occasion, was turn that meat into a sauce. Onions, carrots, rosemary and garlic… IMG_0718 Sautéed in a little olive oil until soft. IMG_0719 Followed by the pork and some fresh cherry tomatoes (my addition), along with fennel seeds and chilli flakes. IMG_0720 Finished with passata and a splash of water, then allowed to simmer for 20 minutes or so. IMG_0721 Piled high on a mound of linguine, and enjoyed with gusto! IMG_0728 The pork was, as expected, rather wonderful. And my comfort craving was certainly satisfied! IMG_0730 Overall – I enjoyed this ‘leftover’ week more than I thought I would (and I still have probably another 2 servings of the roast pork in the freezer!) It was definitely a cost-effective means of cooking – and one that would be quite handy for houses where there are more mouths to feed. What about you? What is your favourite pasta dish?

Chicken, bacon and potato bake – thanks to Pialligo Farm Smokehouse

Earlier this week, I collected some  bacon that I had generously been gifted by the Pialligo Farm Smokehouse.  Although considering it had just been judged ‘Australia’s BEST artisan bacon’ during Australian Bacon Week –- I am not surprised that they wanted to share the bacon love! (you can read more about it here). IMG_0237 Truthfully, I don’t know a great deal about smoking meats, but I do know that I like the end result! And I can’t help but be allured to  Pialligo Farm’s assurance that it takes a sustainable approach to the smoking process (using premium French oak wine barrels recycled into smoking chips), without any preservatives, colourings or artificial flavours are used. 219e393f9d3270cd91e7af50b2e89de2 And while I am a little late to the bacon party, I declared it bacon night in the BBB Household the other night, keen to taste and create something delicious with the Pialligo bacon. IMG_0238 The weather was far from mild outside, so I had only comfort food on the brain. I also had back to back meetings, and wanted something I could throw in the oven when I got home, and not really worry about, so that I could spend some time with the little one before she went to bed. Enter, this chicken, bacon and potato bake. Where the only real effort was in slicing the various ingredients, and part-cooking some. IMG_0241IMG_0239 Then, all I had to to was layer… IMG_0243IMG_0244IMG_0245IMG_0246 And pour over a ‘sauce’ mixture – which in this case, was skim milk, seeded mustard and a little vegetable stock. Topped with cheese, then into the oven for a couple hours (covered) until beautifully cooked through and golden brown on top. IMG_0248 Yes, my friends, this is comfort food in its purest form. And the Pialligo bacon absolutely shone through. Salty and smoky – and just pretty damn delicious really. A big thankyou to Pialligo Farm for the sample! So… tasty + preservative free + LOCAL = this product was a big winner in my book! What about you? What is your favourite ‘bacon’ meal? Pialligo’s  products are available at IGA (in Campbell and Ainslie), Deli Planet at the Fyshwick Markets, TwentyOne Café and Grocer at Nishi, More than Meat butchery at Westfield in Belconnen, and Essential Ingredient in Kingston – if you are interested!

Sweet potato, chickpea and cauliflower curry

IMG_0215 The weather in Canberra recently has been far from mild. Icy-cold winds and rain – the effects of being only a few hours from the snow-fields I presume. And with a lingering cold / lurgy, I’ve been craving comfort food. Something to warm me from the inside out – but something that doesn’t take too long to prepare. And this sweet potato, chickpea and cauliflower curry was just that. IMG_0209 Found in a recent edition of the Healthy Food Guide, I loved how speedy it was to prepare. Simply – coconut milk flavoured with tikka curry paste and ginger… IMG_0204IMG_0207 Into which I threw some sweet potato, cauliflower and chickpeas. Simmered until the vegetables were soft, then piled high on some rice noodles and topped with coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. IMG_0210 Yes, my friends, that would be pure ‘comfort-in-a-bowl’. IMG_0212 Perfect for the chilly wintery night on which it was served. What about you? How have you been staying warm this Winter?

Chipotle pork with roasted corn salsa

As I mentioned yesterday, our weekend was relatively lacklustre. All things considered. But there was one particular shining light, which came in the form of our Sunday night (and Monday night!) dinner. IMG_8462 Created in between time spent cuddling our sick little one on the couch. Making our house smell amazing, and warming us all from the inside out. IMG_8438 Inspiration for the dish came from an old Women’s Weekly casserole cookbook. Changed up to account for ingredients we did or didn’t have…a little BBB stamp if you will. IMG_8430 Diced pork, onion, jalapeno peppers, capsicum, spicy salami, garlic and paprika… IMG_8431 Mixed with crushed tomatoes and chicken stock… IMG_8435  IMG_8436 And cooked low and slow for around 5 hours! Until this happened…. IMG_8455 Rich tomato ‘melt in your mouth’ pork….. IMG_8459 And as for the sides….well they completed the dish just beautifully. I grilled some corn cobs…. IMG_8439 Until nice and charred, then mixed the kernels with fresh tomato, onion, coriander, avocado and lime juice. IMG_8442 Piled high with some extra diced tomatoes and coriander, and finished with a wholemeal tortilla… IMG_8470 And well we couldn’t get enough of this pork dish that was packed with smokiness and spice! IMG_8474 Perhaps not a kid friendly meal (this dish was spicy!!!!) but the avocado / corn salsa worked just beautifully at cutting through some of the heat. IMG_8475 Definitely a meal I will be making again – that’s for sure! And so simple too! Chipotle pork with roasted corn salsa (serves 4 generously)

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1kg diced pork
  • 3 chipotle / jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1 spicy salami (or you could use chorizo), sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 green capsicum, diced
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 800g canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup coriander
  • grated rind of 1 lime
  • Flour tortillas to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over a medium/high heat, and add the pork. Cook until browned all over then set aside.
  3. Add the salami, onion, capsicum, paprika and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the onion starts to soften.
  4. Return the pork to the pan, along with the crushed tomatoes and the stock. Stir to combine, then cover and place in the oven for around 2-3 hours.
  5. Remove the lid, and continue cooking for another hour or so (add some more stock or water if it is drying out too quickly).
  6. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, coriander and lime zest and set aside.
  7. Serve the pork with the tomato mixture, roasted corn salsa and warmed tortillas.

For the roasted corn salsa – Grill 3 corn cobs until browned all over, then combine the kernels with 1/2 diced red onion, 1 chopped avocado, a few halved cherry tomatoes, the juice of 1 lime and a 1/4 cup chopped coriander. What about you? Tried any fun spicy dishes lately?

Slow cooked lamb casserole

Ever so slowly, but perhaps still all too quickly, I can feel the seasonal change in the air. The mornings are darker, the evening light is shorter, and I have favoured pants over shorts for the last week or so. IMG_7477 And while I have no doubt this blog will feature may stews and casseroles over the next 6 months, I couldn’t help but sneak one in early. IMG_7462 For with a bit of hectic work travel recently, we went in search of a meal that would be easy to make – and yield enough for at least a couple meals. Enter this delightful slow cooked lamb casserole. IMG_7464 Which filled my pot to the brim with lamb, crushed tomatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and celery. Combined with stock, herbs and red wine – and a good amount of seasoning – then left to do its thing in the oven. 4 hours later (or was it 5???) IMG_7474 Served simply with polenta, salad leaves – and a couple slices of olive sourdough…and well this was one hearty meal. IMG_7489 The casserole was, as expected, meltingly tender – and the flavours only improved when we reheated it for dinner again the next night! IMG_7486 An insight into the meals of the upcoming wintery months I suspect! IMG_7490 What about you? Are you a fan of dishes that you can get a few meals out of?