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
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  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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Cooking with Kids: Healthier Fried Rice

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…

  1. 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!!)

Poached chicken and coleslaw salad

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.

Radish, Feta and Grain Salad

You might think that all we have eaten lately is treats. Sure we have had our fair share of slices, sweet treats and cocktails, but I can assure you that we have been balancing out the indulgence with lots of tasty summer salads too. Or attempting to, at least.

This pretty little salad was inspired by one I came across in a recent Taste magazine edition – you can find the recipe online here.  Immediately I was drawn to its vibrant colours, and the fact it included a current love of mine (radishes) was also a big draw card.

I slow cooked the lentils and pearl barley as directed, with the bonus of lots of leftovers to use in lunches and dinners the following days. I swapped rocket for baby spinach, for that was what I had on hand, and used feta in place of goats cheese. The result being a tasty salad, that was packed with flavour and crunch.

On this particular occasion we served the salad as a side dish. Although I think it would have made a tasty meat-free meal on its own too – with the grains offering lots of substance.

And did I mention how pretty it was??

Fancy Fruit Platter

With the festivities of the Christmas season now in full swing, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite additions to the family breakfast table.  For when the sun is shining, and day ahead is filled with family and celebrations, we like to keep things light and simple at breakfast time (no doubt saving all important calories for later in the day).

Namely – a Fancy Fruit Platter.

Put a bowl of whole fruit in front of me, and I will look at it with relative ambivalence. But slice the fruit and make it into a salad or a fruit platter? Well you won’t keep me (or the kids!) away from it.

On this occasion we filled the platter with all the wonderful seasonal fruits the market had on offer.  Mango, melon, pineapple, pear, passionfruit, kiwi fruit, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, grapes and blueberries.

Served with some lovely vanilla bean yoghurt and honey granola, and we had ourselves quite the delicious start to the day.

My favourite Lemon and Coconut Slice

When asked to “bring a plate”, I often lean towards creating a sweet treat. Rocky road is usually my “go to” sweet, and is generally well received, but on other occasions I like to bring a plate of lemon slice.  For it is easy to make, requires no baking, and the leftovers keep really well too.

Recently I offered to make a couple slices for a birthday party. I had a few chocolate based ones in mind, and figured my favourite lemon slice would work beautifully as a nice flavour contrast to those. And with some lemons leftover from the peach and lemon cake, well it was a no-brainer really.

So one dreary morning, my helpers and I got to work. Lemons were juiced and zested, biscuits were crumbed and condensed milk and butter were heated. And before too long we had ourselves a big tray of lemon slice, sprinkled with coconut, and ready to be sliced and served.

This was a great slice to make with the kids too. They had a lot of fun turning the food processor on and off, and stirring the coconut and melted ingredients into the biscuit crumbs. Bowls and spoons were licked not long after, and coconut was liberally sprinkled over the iced slice (and most of the kitchen benchtop, but let’s not talk about that…!)

Print Recipe
Lemon and Coconut Slice
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Baking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
slices (or more depending on the size)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl, add the coconut, lemon juice and zest, and stir to combine.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a saucepan. Heat slowly, over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the biscuit mixture, and stir until well combined. Press firmly into a slice tin (that is lined with baking paper), and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the icing sugar and extra lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the ingredients have combined. Spread over the chilled slice, and sprinkle with extra coconut. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or overnight) then slice and serve.
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Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burgers

With the warmer weather having (finally) arrived, I expect you will see more and more BBQ-cooked meals on the menu at our place. For why mess up a pan and heat up the kitchen, when you can cook dinner on the BBQ outside instead!

And while I enjoy the ease and simplicity of throwing some steak or sausages on the BBQ, those dinners can get a little meat-heavy when repeated throughout the warmer months. Instead, it’s nice to change things up a little from time to time –  and these vegetarian sweet potato and quinoa burgers are just perfect for a meat-free BBQ meal.

Combining sweet potatoes, chickpeas and rice / quinoa, you can easily make these burgers in advance and keep them in the fridge until it is time to grill. Throw some extra vegetables on the BBQ too – and you will soon have yourself a tasty meal with very little fuss!


Print Recipe
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burgers
Course BBQ
Cuisine BBQ, Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course BBQ
Cuisine BBQ, Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Steam sweet potato for 5 minutes or until tender. Mash, then set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Place cooked sweet potato, chickpeas, paprika and cumin in a large bowl, and mash until well combined. Stir through the rice / quinoa and egg, until well combined.
  3. Shape the mixture into 4 large patties, and place on a plate covered with baking paper. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm.
  4. Cook patties on the BBQ or a large frypan (sprayed lightly with oil) for 10 to 15 minutes (turning as required), or until golden brown. Serve with salad and toasted Turkish bread.
Recipe Notes

I served these patties with salad, but you could easily serve them 'burger-style' in a bread roll too.

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Green Chicken Curry Meatballs

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.

What about you? What is your favourite curry?

Vegetable and Bean Chilli

I spoke a little while ago about make ahead meals. Ones that I can prepare in advance, then reheat when dinnertime arrives. Well the other advantage of these meals is that you often have leftovers too – which can be portioned and frozen for future meals.

And so with the husband making his way back from Sydney the other day – I dove into the freezer and pulled out two portions of this vegetable and bean chilli. Reheated on the stove top, and kept warm until he walked in the door. Served with quinoa, and finished with some fresh parsley.

 This vegetarian chilli is packed with beans, spices and vegetables. In fact, it is so filled with flavour that you don’t miss the meat component at all. And while on this occasion I served the chilli with quinoa, you could easily substitute the quinoa for rice or even tortillas. The addition of fresh avocado or some  natural yoghurt or sour cream would also work beautifully if you had any on hand.

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Bean Chilli
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add the spices, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
  4. Add the vegetables, and stir to coat with the spices.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans and water, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir through the spinach, cacao powder and parsley, and heat for a few minutes, Season to taste.
  7. Divide and among serving bowls, and serve with quinoa or rice and extra parsley.
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Mango and Lime Salsa

While I am 100% on board the ‘fresh is best’ wagon, sometimes ingredients may not be in season, or may be too expensive.

Such was the case when I had a craving for mango recently, and wanted to create a fruity salsa to serve alongside some spicy chicken and beans. With not a fresh mango in sight, however, I turned to tinned mango instead – which meant that we could have a summery dish even though the temperatures were still in single digits outside.

Combined with cucumber, spring onions, lime, red chilli and fresh mint – we soon had ourselves a lovely sweet and spicy salsa.  I think avocado would also be a nice addition…next time perhaps?

Although this was a relatively simple dish, it was definitely a hit, and will almost certainly be making further appearances when mangoes come back into season!

Print Recipe
Mango and Lime Salsa
Course Side dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Side dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and season to taste.
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