Miso chicken salad

Do you ever get stuck in a cooking rut? Using the same recipes, same cooking methods?

For a long time, grilling was my cooking method of choice when it came to chicken. Or possibly even oven baking. But then I discovered poaching, and boy has it been a game changer. The meat is tender, there are no messy grills to clean, and there is usually enough leftover for sandwiches through the week.

It is also a great option to add to salads.

Sometimes I poach the chicken in stock, other times water – with a bunch of herbs, ginger and garlic.

On this occasion, I poached the chicken in stock with a little miso paste. I then shredded the chicken and used it to create a Japanese-inspired miso chicken salad. With wombok, cucumber and radish for crunch, drizzled with a miso / mirin / soy dressing, and finished with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

We served this for dinner a little while back, and I’ve also had it for lunch on multiple occasions since then. I love that it can be thrown together easily, with minimal fuss, and that it is a little different than my regular salad styles.

Definitely a winner in my book…and a great reminder to get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen!

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Miso Chicken Salad
Course Salad
Keyword salad
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Dressing
Course Salad
Keyword salad
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Dressing
Instructions
  1. Place stock and miso paste in a small saucepan. Add the chicken (adding some additional water if necessary to cover). Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, then cover and set aside in the poaching liquid. Allow to cool a little, then shred.
  2. Meanwhile, divide the salad ingredients amont two serving bowls. Top with shredded chicken.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk together the miso, mirin, soy and sesame in a small bowl. Drizzle over salad, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
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Pumpkin and carrot soup

As I sit here typing, the rain is falling steadily outside. It was, of course, raining most heavily right at the school drop off – where I am sure my attempts to wrangle 3 kids, 3 bags and 3 umbrellas was met with more than a few laughs.

But I have well and truly warmed up after tucking into a big bowl of soup that I had stashed away in the freezer. A perfect go-to lunch on days such as this, when the day is dreary and the temperatures have lowered.

I actually made this pumpkin and carrot soup a while back, but realised I never shared it on the blog. And what a shame that would be – for what a soup it is!

Simply – onion, garlic, carrots and pumpkin, simmered with stock and given a golden hue by the addition of turmeric. Finished with a dollop of natural yoghurt, and a sprinkle of pepitas and parsley.

And, as is always a plus with dishes such as these, the recipe yields enough to store some away in the freezer for easy re-heatable lunches on days such as this!

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Pumpkin and carrot soup
Course Soup
Keyword soup
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Keyword soup
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and stir until starting to soften.
  2. Add the pumpkin, carrots and turmeric, stirring to coat in the spice mixture. Add the stock and 500ml water, and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Puree the soup using a stick blender until smooth. Divide among bowls, and top with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of pepitas and parsley.
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Roasted Pumpkin Hummus

Miss J is proving to be quite the fussy eater at the moment. She loves banana smoothies, but wont go anywhere near an actual banana. Apples and pears are eaten by the bucket load, but grapes and watermelon are nothing short of offensive. Pasta is a firm favourite, as are prawn dumplings (!), but getting her to try new things is generally difficult.

So when she came home from day-care boasting a new love for celery (!) and hummus – well that was a combination I could embrace with gusto!

Since then, I’ve been making a batch of regular ol’ hummus most weeks. Although, recently I thought I would be a little clever and sneak some veg in by adding roasted pumpkin.

Did it work? Not even close. She turned her nose up at the combination, preferring her usual hummus instead.

On the plus side, though, we now had ourselves a lovely recipe for an appetiser to contribute at a recent lunch with friends.

We topped the hummus with parsley, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and olive oil, and served it alongside toasted pita chips, cucumber and olives. Unlike Miss J, we loved the roasted pumpkin addition – and the chilli added a little extra zing!

But I guess it will be back to regular ol’ hummus for Miss J next week…

Print Recipe
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
Course Appetiser
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
Course Appetiser
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Place the cubed pumpkin on a lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with cumin.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Place the pumpkin, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, salt and chilli in a food processor - and process until smooth. Add water, as necessary, to reach desired consistency.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl, and top with parsley, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and a little drizzle of olive oil.
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BLAT Salad

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.

Slow Cooker Pea and Ham Soup

There are some dishes that, despite their humble appearance and ease to make, are really something special.

The ones that make your belly full, and heart warm, and undoubtedly earn a star place on the regular meal plan.

Well, friends, I think I’ve found another of these dishes – as this Pea and Ham soup was rather delicious indeed. It is one of those dishes that I’ve always enjoyed eating, but never actually made, and I had to laugh at my ignorance when I realised that it contains split peas, not green peas!

With simple ingredients, and created easily in the slow cooker, the result was a hearty dinner soup (with lots of leftovers for lunch and for the freezer too). We served ours topped with natural yoghurt, shredded ham from the hock and a sprinkle of parsley. Even the kids loved it – particularly Miss Maggie – who ate bowl after bowl with gusto!

Inspired by this recipe.





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Slow Cooker Pea and Ham Soup

Course Soup

Servings
people


Ingredients

Course Soup

Servings
people


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a small frypan over a medium heat. Add the onions, spices and garlic and cook for a few minutes - until the onion softens.

  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a slow cooker. Add the ham hock, parsnips, apples, split peas and 8 cups of water. Stir well, cover, and cook on medium for 8 hours.

  3. Remove the ham hock and shred the meat (discard the bone and fat). Blend the soup using a stick blende until smooth. Stir through the lemon zest and juice, and season to taste.

  4. Divide the soup among serving bowls, and top with some of the shredded meat, natural yoghurt and parsley.


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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
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.