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?

Quinoa salad with tahini dressing

IMG_3111 After a weekend of sunshine, snoozes, yoga and relaxation, I woke up feeling rather refreshed this morning. Certainly a far cry from the illness that knocked me around last week, that’s for sure. I also continued my attempts to get in as many vegetables as I could over the weekend, particularly as my appetite started to return with a vengeance. Starting with a tasty little quinoa and vegetable salad that made an appearance for lunch. So simple, yet oh so delicious. IMG_3121 And a perfect "pantry" cleaner. I cooked a cup of quinoa in a mixture of water and vegetable stock, until the quinoa had softened and absorbed the water. IMG_3102 Then it was simply a matter of combining the quinoa with a variety of vegetables I had on hand. IMG_3103 Capsicum, cucumber, tomato and baby spinach. IMG_3106 To finish, I made a simple tahini dressing to pour over the salad. IMG_3108 And so lunch was served. IMG_3105 Fresh, healthy, tasty…. Vegetarian and gluten free. IMG_3116 And a tad addictive. Especially with the luscious creamy tahini dressing. Quinoa salad with tahini dressing (serves 2-4)

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 green capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and diced
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs tamari
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 1tbs water (or more or less to get desired consistency)
  1. Cook quinoa in water and stock, according to packet directions. Set aside to cool slightly, then stir through the vegetables.
  2. To make the tahini dressing: Whisk all ingredients together, adding more or less water to get your desired consistency.
  3. Divide salad among serving dishes and top with tahini dressing to serve.

What about you? How do you like to use quinoa?

Sweet Sherry Sundried Tomato Sauce

With only 3 sleeps until our overseas adventure, tonight’s dinner was very much a mish mash of the ingredients we had left in the fridge. A delicious mish mash nonetheless. IMG_0027 And made all the more delicious by a sweet sherry sundried tomato sauce. IMG_0026 How’s that for a little dinner alliteration 😉 I found inspiration for the sauce from a recent edition of Good Taste (although sadly it seems that I threw it out before making note of the recipe). I do recall that it consisted of onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes and a good splash of sweet sherry. Simmered until thick, then spooned atop a grilled chicken breasts. IMG_0027 Add a bed of quinoa (cooked in chicken stock)…. IMG_0029 And a pile of brussels, broccoli and asparagus, IMG_0034 And we had ourselves quite the tasty dinner.  IMG_0035 But the sauce……oh the sauce. Sweet, sticky and “lick your lips” worthy. Note to self – must find the recipe  asap so I can share it with you! What about you? What is your favourite sauce to serve with chicken?

Turmeric quinoa pilaf

Last night disappeared in a blink of an eye. So much so that I didn’t have time to share our tasty Friday night dinner with you! I had no real dish in mind, so turned to the Mystery Box for some inspiration…. IMG_5764 Turmeric! IMG_5833 Turmeric is also known as the ‘golden spice’ . Not only is it rich in colour, turmeric’s active ingredient (curcumin) is a known antioxidant and helps stabilise inflammation. In India, turmeric is also used in wedding rituals, whereby a turmeric-based paste is applied on the bride and groom to beautify and enrich skin complexion. While I was tempted to attempt said ‘turmeric-paste-skin-enrichment’, I decided that I would use the spice in a more traditional way instead. And, with an abundance of rice, spices and veggies left in the pantry and fridge, a turmeric pilaf seemed to be the most logical choice! Starting with quinoa and brown rice… IMG_5834 Carrots, spring onions and asparagus.. IMG_5837 Cooked all together, with the turmeric, spices, sliced sausages and baby spinach. IMG_5841 Topped with flaked almonds. IMG_5850 I loved the crunch of the quinoa and almonds…  IMG_5846 And the turmeric added a lovely rich colour to pilaf.  IMG_5847 IMG_5851 As far as easy “one pot” Friday night dinners go, this was a winner! IMG_5853  Turmeric quinoa pilaf

  • 4 sausages, cooked and sliced
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups brown rice (cooked)
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1/2 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbs ground coriander
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, sliced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • flaked almonds to serve
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Add spring onions and spices, and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  3. Add carrots and asparagus, and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add sausages, quinoa and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add rice, and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, stir through spinach, and divide among serving plates.
  7. Top with flaked almonds to serve.

What about you? Do you have a favourite way to use turmeric? Happy Baking 🙂

Laps and lasagne

Training: Swim / Run Today’s training was all about laps. 20 laps in the pool this morning (2km) followed by laps of the oval after work. While I have been running consistently over the last 6 months or so, I haven’t done any interval training. Wanting to train my body to pick up the pace, I headed to an interval training session with the triathlon club. We started with an ‘easy’ 1km run to warm up, then practiced ‘run throughs’ focusing on various aspects of running technique (high legs, looking forward, controlled yet relaxed arm swings etc). Following this it was on to the main ‘interval’ set – 7 x 600m, with 200m recovery. Overall we covered around 8km – all done in the rain. It was heart pumping and energising – and a great change of pace. Dinner I have had lasagne on the brain for a while now. It has been so dreary and cold the last few days, that comfort food is a must. After seeing some fancy GF lasagne sheets at the local supermarket over the weekend, I decided to make a quinoa and vegetable lasagne for dinner last night. Actually, I made so much that we are having it again for dinner tonight and Mr BBB’s dad got to take several portions with him when he headed to the coast this morning. IMG_1843 Gotta love those layers. I made the ‘mince’ mixture using cooked red quinoa, tomato passata, diced tomatoes, garlic and dried herbs. IMG_1806 And a ‘bechamel’ sauce with a mixture of low fat ricotta, egg and parmesan. I also sliced zucchini and pumpkin. IMG_1802 IMG_1801 Then it was time to layer. IMG_1809 Lasagne sheets, ricotta, quinoa. IMG_1811 IMG_1813 Steamed pumpkin, zucchini, fresh basil. IMG_1816 Baby spinach and a sprinkle of mozzarella, Repeat. Covered in foil and baked for an hour, then for an extra half an hour with the foil removed until the top layer is golden brown. IMG_1828 Layer upon layer of tasty lasagne goodness. IMG_1839 Next time I would probably add some tomato paste to the quinoa mixture, and perhaps a little more garlic. The flavour was nice, but it lacked that rich tomato flavour that I love in lasagne. But as far as lasagnes go, this one is on its way to being a winner! IMG_1844 Don’t be put off by the seemingly large ingredient list. You really could make this with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Quinoa, vegetable and ricotta lasagne (10 serves)

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup passata
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (+ 2tbs tomato paste)
  • 1 tbs mixed dried herbs
  • 600g light ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 shaved parmesan
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced lengthways
  • 1/2 pumpkin, cut into slices and steamed for a few minutes to soften
  • 100g baby spinach
  • Fresh basil
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Grated mozzarella
  1. Sautee the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until softened. Add quinoa, tomato passata, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and dried herbs. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, eggs and shaved parmesan in a separate bowl until well combined.
  3. In a large baking dish, layer lasagne sheets, 1/2 of the quinoa mix, 1/3 of the ricotta mix, 1/2 the zucchini, 1/2  the pumpkin, 1/2 the baby spinach, basil leaves and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Finish with another layer of lasagne sheets, the remaining ricotta mix and a sprinkle of mozzarella.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 200C for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through.
  7. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Yes – this makes a ridiculously large lasagne – but as I said, we got 10+ servings out of it! Not too bad for a few hours work in the kitchen…. What about you? Do you have a favourite lasagne ingredient? Mine would have to be fresh basil. Lots of fresh basil 🙂 Happy Baking 🙂

Needing it NOW

On my flight home from Brisbane today, I had a light-bulb moment. I didn’t have any work that needed to be done during the flight, and I didn’t bring a book, so it  was the perfect time just to sit. And to think. IMG_5994 I started making a list of things that Mr BBB and I have going on at the moment, and what a list it turned out to be:

  • My half ironman training is stepping up a notch
  • My job is really busy at the moment and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon
  • Mr BBB has moved into a management role in his job and is also busy with increased work hours (and responsibility)
  • We have a wedding to attend in a few weeks, and I am helping make the cupcakes
  • We are almost arriving at the ‘party season’ with work and other functions starting to make their way into my diary
  • I need to do our taxes – or should I say – I ‘must’ do our taxes
  • We are living at Mr BBB’s parent’s house – with our ‘life’ essentially being still packed in boxes
  • Our new house is scheduled for completion in 5 weeks or so.
  • We need to spend a fair bit of money on a new fridge and bedroom setting (amongst other things)
  • We need to organise to have the fences built and carpets / vinyl laid
  • We need to make arrangements for the move
  • We need to landscape the gardens (something I said I would take care of)
  • I need more hours in the day!

As more and more things were added to the list, with a mental calculation of free weekends over the next few months, I could feel a ball of anxiety start to build in my chest. But it was the last few things on my list that made me stop and reflect. Sure, these are all things that will eventually need to be done, but why am I telling myself that they need to be done now? I did not have an answer to this question. It is my ‘need it now’ attitude that means I can be my own worst enemy at times. While I am not an outwardly stressful person, I have this nasty little habit of letting things build up on the inside. Which is not good for a multitude of reasons. So, I decided to make a new list (hey I am a list gal!), to see me through the next few months:

  • My half ironman training is stepping up a notch, but I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself if I miss a scheduled workout. Consistency and FUN are the key!
  • My job is really busy at the moment and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon. I have juniors that I can delegate too if needed.
  • Mr BBB has moved into a management role in his job and is also busy with increased work hours (and responsibility). We need to make sure that we schedule some ‘us’ time at this busy time.
  • We have a wedding to attend in a few weeks, and I am helping make the cupcakes. This will be fun – and I am sure there will be plenty of people to help if needed.
  • We are almost arriving at the ‘party season’ with work and other functions starting to make their way into my diary. I shouldn’t feel obliged to attend all of them.
  • I need to do our taxes – or should I say – I ‘must’ do our taxes. I am going to sit down and do them this weekend!
  • We are living at Mr BBB’s parent’s house – with our ‘life’ essentially being still packed in boxes. It is only for 5 more weeks – and it will be like Christmas when we get to open all the boxes and unpack our belongings! 
  • Our new house is scheduled for completion in 5 weeks or so – which is so very very exciting!
  • We need will have to spend a fair bit of money on a new fridge and bedroom setting (amongst other things). All in good time. This is the house we plan to spend the next 20 years in – so big decisions re furniture don’t need to be rushed.
  • We need should look into organising to have the fences built and carpets / vinyl laid. A simple phone-call should be able to get this underway.
  • We need should be prepared to make arrangements for the move. But be patient – we don’t even have the actual completion date yet. 
  • We need will have fun landscaping the gardens (something I said I would take care of). But there is no need to rush.
  • I need would love more hours in the day – but the 24 we have will do just fine! 

Now THIS is a list that I can live with. Priorities and planning = a stress free environment. P4210303 One thing I did need today, or should I say my legs did, was a rest day. And I loved every minute of it! I cant stress enough how important rest days are when training – and not just for the body, but also for the brain. I also took a rest from cooking – when I discovered that I had leftover quinoa salad and tofu in the fridge.  IMG_0966  Combined with a toasted sandwich on the side (oops unpictured), it ended up being the perfect ‘easy’ dinner.  IMG_0968 Now I believe some Commonwealth Games watching is calling my name. For what better way to finish a rest day than by watching finely-tuned athletes do their thing! What about you? Are you a “need it now” person? What are your strategies for keeping sane (and happy!) during busy times? Happy Baking 🙂

Training and Tahini

Training: Bike 31km/ 1 hr 15 I am absolutely  loving my ‘bike to / from work’ days, and today was no exception! Not only do I get a heart pumping start the day, I also get to sweat out any lingering work stress on my ride home. Having spent the day with my head in a pile of paperwork today, however, I didn’t get the memo that it had turned into a beautiful Spring day outside! Let’s just say that my bike outfit (think leggings, thermal, jersey and vest) was a little too much for the warm evening ride home 😉 Dinner After showering I headed to the kitchen with one thing in mind. A huge cold green monster. IMG_0909 Spinach, soy milk, ICE and protein powder. This. hit. the. spot. Sufficiently hydrated, it was then time to get dinner started. And I must say that I was pretty excited about tonight’s Mystery Box ingredient… IMG_0820 Tahini! IMG_0906 Did you know? Tahini is a paste of ground unhulled sesame seeds, and is a major component of hummus and other Middle Eastern Foods. When I came across a recipe in my new favourite cookbook for a Quinoa salad with tahini dressing, I couldn’t help but think it sounded just perfect for a quick Spring dinner. IMG_0917 While I had a cup of quinoa cooking on the stove, I made the tahini dressing by blending tahini, tamari, olive oil, water and lemon juice until smooth. IMG_0921 Next I chopped a variety of salad veggies – carrot, capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, spring onions and a handful of parsley. IMG_0914   Then it was simply a matter of throwing it all together. IMG_0935 Veggies, quinoa and tahini dressing. IMG_0924 Piled high on a plate… IMG_0923 And topped with oven baked tofu slices… IMG_0938 And drizzled with a little extra tahini dressing. IMG_0936  My oh my this was a fresh and delightful dish. The tahini dressing was full of flavour, a little nutty and a little salty, ah so wonderfully creamy. If you are looking for a super easy dish – this is certainly one to remember! What about you? How do you like to use tahini? I normally use it when making hummus, but I really must use it in dressings more often! Well – time to go pack. Between an early morning swim and a work trip to Brisbane, tomorrow is sure to be a big day! Happy Baking 🙂

An ode to oranges

Wow I was really impressed by your cardamom suggestions! There was Hannah’s desire to make cardamom icecream, Phil’s tip to use the pods to infuse rice when preparing it in a rice cooker and Carol’s thoughts to use it in a pear cake.  S uses cardamom when mixing chai spice for her chai cheese frosting, and Lorraine adds cardamom to her Norwegian pancakes – both of which also sound positively delightful! Training: Bike Wednesday’s are commuting days, so I was up at around 5.30am and on my bike just before 6.00am. It was actually quite a struggle to get out of bed this morning, and it took a fair while for my legs to warm up on the ride. The ride home was a lot better – and I completed the 31km round trip in approximately 1hr 20. Followed immediately by a ‘sludge’ monster, made with spinach, oat milk, frozen cherries, chocolate protein powder and a spoonful of peanut butter. IMG_0538 Which despite all appearances was pretty damn tasty.  Kinda like a choc-cherry thickshake, minus the calories but rich in nutrients! Mystery Box I have two meals remaining on this week’s meal plan but I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to cook this evening. After much deliberation, I decided on the first of the two – pork with orange and harissa. Which had been inspired by the Mystery Box of course… IMG_0509 Orange! IMG_0537          Did you know? Oranges originated in Southeast Asia,  and are hybrids of ancient cultivated origin, possibly between pomelos and mandarins. IMG_0542 When I drew Orange from the Mystery Box, I initially had grand plans of making something exotic like ‘duck a l’orange’. But then I remembered that I don’t even really like duck (unlike Mr BBB who would eat it for every dinner if he could), so I went in search of an alternative recipe to showcase this delicious fruit. It didn’t take me long to find a recipe that was both exotic and did not involve duck! As directed, I removed the zest from the oranges and placed it into a saucepan with stock  – and set aside to infuse. IMG_0540 Rather than use couscous (for obvious wheat reasons) I added quinoa to the orange infused stock and cooked it as normal. IMG_0541 I also made a marinade using the juice of the oranges, mixed with harissa, garlic and parsley. IMG_0543 In went the pork cutlets, which I then allowed to marinade. IMG_0547 IMG_0548 After 15 minutes or so, I heated a little olive oil in a frypan and cooked the pork with some of the marinade for 2 minutes each side, then placed in in the oven for 5 minutes at 180C. IMG_0551 IMG_0555 Just before serving I added pinenuts and parsley to the quinoa. IMG_0553 And then it was ready to serve! Presenting … pork with orange and harissa. IMG_0564 Served with orange infused quinoa. IMG_0561 And a side of veggies – because no meal is really complete without some green! IMG_0562 My oh my – I really enjoyed this dish. The pork was juicy, and had subtle citrus flavours from the orange and a good amount of spice from the harissa. The ‘crunch’ of the orange infused quinoa also added a nice texture to the overall dish. What about you? Do you like to cook with oranges? Happy Baking 🙂

Happy Days

IMG_9508 I have been wandering around the city recently, in awe of the gorgeous flowers that have started to bloom. IMG_9507  And, nothing says "Spring" more than wonderful blossom trees! IMG_0127 Breathing life back into the trees, after the cold Winter stripped them bare. IMG_9504 Excuse me if I am getting a little sentimental, but I am not a fan of Winter and the signs that warmer weather is on its way makes me happy. Very happy 😉 IMG_9506 Perhaps I am also happy because I fit in another great workout today. On the agenda was a bike ride – and not needing my car today, I biked to and from work! The return trip is around 32km with a nice mix of ups, downs, bike paths and busy roads. And, now that spring has sprung, it was not too cold when riding to work this morning. It was a little soggy on the ride home, but let’s not dwell on that… Perhaps another reason that I am happy today is that I had an easy peasy dinner waiting for me after I rode home. Leftover quinoa lasagne – that was possibly even better the second time around. Served with a mixture of veggies and a glass of red wine. Spring blossoms, a great training session, a delicious meal to end the day and weekend plans that will take us to a different city….how could I not be happy! I hope you are all having a happy evening too! I’ll see you on Sunday with a full recap of our weekend adventures…. Happy Baking 🙂