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.

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

img_0521As the warmer weather approaches, so does our tendency to put “BBQs” on the menu for dinner. Mr BBB is usually in charge of the meat, while I take care of the sides – the ‘regulars’ being a green salad or oven baked potatoes.

But recently I went for another potato option…potato salad!

img_0515

An Aussie favourite – that is usually loaded with mayonnaise and bacon. But on this occasion, I created a ‘lighter’ version. Still packed with flavour, yes, however in place of mayonnaise I went with natural yoghurt – and left out the bacon all together. Instead, the salad was given a flavour kick with lots of fresh herbs and another one of my favourite – dill pickles!

It didn’t take too long to prepare, and was far from difficult. With the added bonus  that I could make it in the morning and let the flavours develop throughout the day.

img_0517A nice take on an old classic indeed!

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

  • 1.5kg potatoes (desiree or something similar) I left the skins on, but you could peel them if you prefer.
  • 3/4 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 100g dill pickles, chopped
  • 3 green shallots, sliced thinly
  • Handful chopped herbs (I used dill and mint, but parsley would work nicely too)
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender, then set aside to cool slightly. Dice.
  2. Combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard, and season to taste.
  3. Add the dressing to the potatoes (while they are still slightly warm), along with the remaining ingredients. Stir gently until combined.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge until required.

Mushroom, egg & herb fettuccine

IMG_0035 There is no mistaking, that these last few months have all been about carbs. Comfort food. And while some of it has to do with the cooler weather, I suspect most of it has to do with a very different pregnancy experience this second time around.  I’ve been meaning to post about it, actually, just struggling a little with limited time and low energy. But needless to say – meals like this pasta dish – have been making a regular appearance. IMG_0026 Simply – wholemeal fettuccine- cooked until al dente. Then added to sliced mushrooms, onion, and garlic, that I had softened in a little olive oil. IMG_0039 To that – we added a couple eggs – and allowed them to cook through – and form a lovely little sauce. IMG_0040 Then finished with a good amount of mixed herbs (chopped parsley, basil and a little thyme). Yes, my friends, this was a perfect comfort meal indeed. What about you? What is your favourite pasta combination?

Lemon and herb potato salad

One vegetable that I struggle to use when the warmer months arrive is potatoes. In Winter I wont hesitate in cranking up the oven and roasting some potatoes to perfection. Or creating a creamy mash to serve alongside a rich and hearty casserole. But in Summer, I tend to crave salads and lighter meals, to which potatoes do not generally lend themselves. Or do they? Feeling particularly inspired a few weeks ago, I came up with a use for the bag of potatoes that was feeling rather lonely in our pantry. salad Potatoes – peeled and boiled until tender – then combined with olive oil, a wee bit of yoghurt, lemon juice and zest – and lots of mint, parsley and pepper. IMG_5258 The result being a rather tasty “side” dish to some meat we later grilled for dinner. IMG_5259 And the herb + lemon combination worked just beautifully in keeping this dish feeling light and lovely. IMG_5268 So it seems potatoes do have a place on our menu this Summer! What about you? Any fun Summer potato dishes you’d care to share?

Thai beef steaks with herb salad

I am by no means a green thumb, but I have somehow managed to keep some small pots of mint, basil and coriander alive for a few months now. Actually the mint, in particular, is thriving so much that I am struggling to keep up. IMG_5132 So when I came across this recipe – that called for mint, coriander AND basil – well it seemed to good to be true. IMG_5129 (Picked straight from the garden) As for the rest of the dish, it came along quickly – as most salads do. IMG_5131 Ingredients chopped, and prepped – and steak marinated in chilli jam and lime juice, then grilled to perfection. IMG_5128 Piled high on the salad leaves and herbs, topped with onion, cucumber, spring onions, crushed peanuts and the remainder of the marinade. IMG_5133 And my oh my – what a flavoursome dinner this turned out to be. IMG_5134 I particularly loved the sweetness of the chilli jam – which also had a nice kick of heat. Not to mention the freshness of the herb-heavy salad…. IMG_5135 Just delightful really! And one I will definitely make again. What about you? Any tips for goring your own herbs?

Gourmet Garden – Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup

When I heard that Gourmet Garden were having a “Blog Off / Cook Off” competition, well it took me oh about about 2.4 seconds to  sign up. blog The challenge? Experiment with Gourmet Garden’s range of herbs, spice up some everyday meals and blog about them. Sounds right up my alley?! Not long after signing up, a nice courier dropped off a collection of herbs at my doorstep. IMG_6892 And I wasted no time in getting to work, with Mother’s Day providing the perfect opportunity for me to spice up my first meal using two of the Gourmet Garden herbs. IMG_6893 Garlic and thyme. On the menu… soup Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup. The dish itself could not have been any easier to make. Just sweet potatoes, carrots, lemon and onions, flavoured with the garlic and thyme, and simmered with vegetable stock and water until tender. Then pureed into a luscious thick soup. IMG_6935 And when drizzled with a little cream, and served alongside some chewy spelt sourdough I picked up at the markets over the weekend, we had ourselves quite a tasty Mother’s Day lunch. IMG_6958 IMG_6937 I was pleased to discover that the thyme and garlic added just the right amount of flavour to the soup, without overpowering the naturally delicious sweet potato and carrot. IMG_6945 I only wish that I had made a bigger batch, for there was not a drop left after lunch was finished. IMG_6950 (ie. no leftovers for my mid-week lunches!) IMG_6951 Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup (serves 8)

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1.5kg sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1.5 tbs Gourmet Garden chunky garlic paste
  • 1 tbs Gourmet Garden thyme paste
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1L water
  • Cream to serve *
  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add sweet potato, carrots, onion garlic and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add lemon zest, juice, stock and water and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until soft.
  3. Process soup until smooth.
  4. Divide among serving bowls and drizzle with cream.

Stay tuned for my other “Gourmet Garden- inspired” meals. I have a few in mind to share with you throughout the week!

Nacho Sunday

Its been another productive day in the BBB household, with more things being crossed off my ‘waiting for baby’ to do list. By afternoon I was starting to feel a little stir crazy being cooped up inside, however, so I was very grateful when the rain stopped allowing me to get outside for a walk. Gotta stay active! And, while I have a very tasty dish marinating in the fridge for tonight’s dinner, I thought I would share last night’s carb fest with you. IMG_4938 aka. Nacho Sunday! But not just any nachos… IMG_4931 Herbed, bean and tomato nachos. IMG_4934 (chopped tomatoes, coriander, parsley and kidney beans). So very simple to make. Just layer…. IMG_4935 On layer… IMG_4936 On layer… IMG_4937 And into the oven… IMG_4939 Eaten picnic style from the coffee table, of course,  while watching the latest episode of Homeland. IMG_4940 A perfect carbed up Sunday night really Smile  What about you? Do you have a favourite nachos topping?

Crispy duck and noodle salad & nesting

IMG_4300 Donna Hay again provided inspiration for tonight’s dinner, in the form of a crispy duck and noodle salad. IMG_4290 Funny thing is, like the lamb cutlets we had the other night, duck is also one of Mr BBB’s favourite meats – but certainly not one of mine. I think someone is trying to win the ‘best wife’ award 😉 My grand plans for this duck salad were initially thrown into disarray when a search of my local shops and butchers revealed none of the star ingredient. That is, no luck on the duck. An emergency dash into Civic proved successful, however, and I returned home with two little duck breasts, all set for their salad glory. IMG_4291 The duck was sliced thinly, then coated in a mixture of water chestnut flour, salt and pepper. Given my chilli tolerance is pretty much non existent these days (thanks to pregnancy?), I left out the ground chilli that the recipe called for, and added some extra ground pepper instead. IMG_4293 While Mr BBB gave the duck a quick shallow fry in the wok, I finished up the remaining salad ingredients. Rice vermicelli noodles, sliced carrots… IMG_4292 And an abundance of fresh herbs… IMG_4295 Basil, coriander and my favourite….mint! Combined, and dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. IMG_4294 Classic flavours really. IMG_4296 Piled high… IMG_4297 And finished with fresh lime and some sliced chilli (that I promptly picked out after sampling one mouthful….too spicy for me!). IMG_4299 This was a delightful summer salad that although being light on ingredients, was packed with flavour. IMG_4300 Funny thing is, Mr BBB thought he overcooked the duck and wasn’t the biggest fan. I actually preferred our version to how it comes normally, as a lot of the ‘fatty’ flavour that duck traditionally has had melted (?) away. IMG_4298 Another bonus being how quickly this dish came together – less than 15 minutes from start to finish. IMG_4302 A winner indeed! ps. want to know what else a gal who is 31 weeks pregnant decides to do when she gets home from work? IMG_4303 Re-oil the front and back decks it seems… IMG_4305 nesting much? IMG_4306 What about you? Are you a fan of duck?

Herbed quinoa salad

While the weather may not be indicative of the fact that it is Summer in Australia, I have been choosing to ignore the cooler temperatures that have taken us by surprise recently, and opted to make some of our favourite Summer meals nonetheless. IMG_3771 Think BBQs. Think salads. IMG_3777 Think herbed quinoa salad to be precise. I’d write down the recipe for you, but there really is nothing to it. I started by cooking 1.5 cups of quinoa on the stove, then set it aside to cool. IMG_3764 Then the rest of the salad came together in no time at all. Just mint…. IMG_3765 Parsley… IMG_3766 Chopped finely…. IMG_3767 Coupled with a diced cucumber… IMG_3770 Thrown into the cooked quinoa… IMG_3771 Stirred through with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil. IMG_3772 And our herbed quinoa salad was complete. IMG_3773 I loved how fresh and flavoursome this salad was, and it was a tasty addition to our BBQ dinner. The added bonus being that it can be made in advance, and dressed just before serving. IMG_3779 A salad that is packed with fresh herbs and flavour, and comes together in no time at all. I think this one will be making several appearances over Summer (assuming Summer does in fact arrive!) What about you? Do you have a favourite Summer salad?

Dukkah lamb cutlets and herbed quinoa salad

Happy Friday lovely people! I am currently somewhere in Sydney where, hopefully, my day has not been too crazy work-wise. Given I expect to arrive back in Canberra rather late, and will probably head straight back out again for pad thai at my favourite local Thai restaurant, I figured I would share with you one of my favourite dinners from during the week. Dukkah lamb cutlets, with herbed quinoa salad. Oh so simple, but oh so tasty. Just how I like my dinners to be really! While I had a cup of quinoa cooking on the stove in 1.5 cups water, and Mr BBB was outside grilling up a few lamb cutlets,  I got to work on the other parts of the salad. IMG_3713 Coriander, parsley, green onions, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. I also put together a simple dressing. Starting with bush spice seasoning… IMG_3714 Combined with olive oil and the zest / juice of one lemon. IMG_3715 Poured through the quinoa once it had finished cooking, combined with the salad ingredients, and part 1 of our dinner was complete. IMG_3717 Mr BBB returned from the BBQ not long after, with 3 lamb cutlets grilled to perfection – and “laid out especially for my photo” he tells me. IMG_3718 Topped with a sprinkle of pistachio dukkah… IMG_3716 And dinner was ready! IMG_3719 I loved the citrus in the quinoa salad, and the freshness of the herbs throughout. IMG_3720 The crunch of the dukkah also added a nice finishing touch to the lamb cutlets. IMG_3721 It certainly felt like one of those meals that looks fancier and more complex than it actually was.  A good one for summer season. What about you? Are you a fan of dukkah?