Easy pearl couscous salad


The tree is up, presents are wrapped, and the girls are well and truly in festive mode.

Yes, Christmas is coming, and I must say – I’m pretty excited.

Sure – our social schedule looks a little crazy (actually, the kids’ social schedule looks a lot crazy), and little J thinks its pretty fun to remove all the baubles from the lower half of the Christmas tree on a daily basis, but we are heading into the holiday break with gusto.

And while there has been a lot of eating out (and takeaway on the way home from various events), there have also been some home-cooked meals. One such meal featured this rather tasty salad – when I had a particular craving for this almost pearl couscous.

img_1404And boy was it simple and quick to throw together.

Pearl couscous, cooked for 8 minutes or so, to which I added cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil – to give the dish a little Mediterranean  vibe.

No recipe needed, lovely people. Just add the lemon juice and olive oil to taste, with a little cracked pepper for good measure. And feel free to throw in any other fresh herbs you might have on hand too.

img_1408 Stir, and serve (in a little Christmas bowl if you are feeling so inclined!).

We dished this salad up with some baby spinach and grilled chicken. And it made for a wonderful lunch the next day, when the flavours had developed even more.

A lovely little Summer salad indeed.

Olive and sundried tomato focaccia

IMG_0356 Happy Monday lovely people. I trust that you all had a wonderful weekend. Truthfully, ours was not quite as expected. For the little Miss was unwell for most of it, so a lot of time was spent dozing on the couch – hopefully fighting off whatever bug has been present. We did, however, have a pretty busy week last week. We had guests for dinner not once, but twice, and even went out for dinner another night. And while my pants are perhaps a little tighter for it, we certainly enjoyed quite a few tasty meals. One such evening – it was roast lamb. With all the trimmings – roasted vegetables, a cauliflower bake, greens, gravy….. But besides all that  – I couldn’t resist creating a little bread dish to start. Olive and sundried tomato focaccia to be precise. IMG_0347 I followed this recipe, basically, but added some sundried tomato as well as the olives. IMG_0351 And while the end result was rather tasty – it perhaps lacked a little ‘rise’ but I’m blaming that on a shortness of proving time on what was a cold Canberra day. IMG_0353 We sliced and served the focaccia as a starter – still warm as it was fresh from the oven. IMG_0354 And it was just as yummy the following day – when I used it to make a toasted sandwich for lunch. IMG_0355 This was definitely an apt reminder at how lovely home-baked bread is – and a nudge to get my ‘bread-bake’ on more often! For it really is very simple – even if it does take a bit of prep work… IMG_0360 What about you? Do you like making your own bread?

Bring a plate #1

IMG_5285 Parties with friends, more than often, leads to that age-old request to “bring a plate”. Something to nibble on – perhaps a starter or even a sweet treat to end the evening. IMG_5282 This last weekend, was no different. A cocktail party for some recent birthdays, where good food and good company is never in short supply.  And my “bring a plate” was pretty straight forward, but possibly one of my favourites. IMG_5286 A lovely little antipasto platter – using the best ingredients I could find at the markets. Savoury, no need to heat, and can be prepared in advance = winner! From left to right…. IMG_5279 garlic and herb cheese log, sourdough breadsticks, pastrami, truffle salami (!!), smoked prosciutto, gherkins, marinated feta and some kalamata olives. The ‘hit’ at the party was definitely the truffle salami, which is no surprise because its pretty damn good Smile  IMG_5281 As for me, I will always be a cheese girl, so tucked into the garlic and herb cheese log without hesitation. IMG_5283 Definitely a winner when it comes to bringing a plate – all thanks to our local market! What about you? Any savoury ‘bring a plate’ ideas?

Bring a plate – tomato, olive and boccocini bites

IMG_9839 We were invited to a cocktail party recently and asked to “bring a plate”. Something savoury to share, and soak up the effects of tequila-laden margaritas. IMG_9830 And I think these little bites fit the bill just perfectly. IMG_9834 Pitted kalamata olives, baby boccocini and serrano tomatoes (halved), threaded onto skewers (aka.. toothpicks). IMG_9840 For a ‘dip’, I cheated and spooned some store-bought basil pesto into a small bowl in the middle of the plate. IMG_9841 For we all know that tomatoes + basil are a match made in heaven! IMG_9843 Although these take a little time to put together, they are super easy and rather cute! IMG_9836 A lovely little retro ‘bring a plate’ contribution. What about you? What do you bring when asked to ‘bring a plate’?

Training and….tapenade

Training: Swim(s) As I have a bike ride and run planned for tomorrow, today was all about the ‘other’ leg of triathlon….the swim! I started by hitting the local pool for a morning 2km swim. PB270028 Then, after a few hours babysitting our friend’s two children, I returned to nature’s pool… PB270039   If temperatures are low on race day, wetsuits may be allowed for the swim. After hearing great things about swimming with a wetsuit (buoyancy etc), but not wanting to purchase a new one (due to $$$), I asked around and found someone who wanted to sell theirs. They also kindly let me take it out for a swim to see whether I liked it! My oh my – getting this thing on was quite the task! Particularly with Mr BBB “helpfully” giggling at my efforts…and capturing them on camera. PB270029PB270031 Still going…. PB270034PB270035 Success! PB270038          PB270041 With Mr BBB kayaking alongside me, I completed around 700m in the lake. I was worried that swimming in a wetsuit would be restrictive, but it was actually quite comfortable….not to mention the added buoyancy bonus!  I think with a few extra wetsuit swims between now and race day, I might just get the hang of it (and getting the wetsuit on!). Mystery Box While it may have seemed like I spent most of the day in the water, I did actually get to spend a little time in the kitchen also. Inspired by a Mystery Box ingredient… IMG_2583 Olives! IMG_2542 Did you know? The olive tree is the oldest cultivated tree in existence and can live for thousands of years.  Olives are in a class of fruits called drupes (characterised by a large seed surrounded by fleshy meat) along with apricots, peaches, cherries  and plums. IMG_2543 One of my all time favourite way to use olives is to make olive tapenade. IMG_2538    IMG_2548 IMG_2550 IMG_2563 It takes less than 5 minutes to make, but lasts for weeks. IMG_2564 And, not only is it tasty, it is also super versatile. IMG_2566 Speaking of which, you will just have to check back tomorrow to see how I plan on using this tapenade. IMG_2565 IMG_2573  I am most excited about it already! Olive tapenade

  • 2 cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 1tbs capers
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  1. Process olives, capers and garlic in a food processor until smooth.
  2. With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a slow continuous stream until well combined.
  3. Stir through lemon juice.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Cover the surface with a little more olive oil to keep fresh.

What about you? Do you have any tips for getting a wetsuit with some sense of dignity? I used ‘plastic bags’ on my feet to help the wetsuit slide on, but pulling it up my legs was quite the effort! Happy Baking 🙂