Tropical Rice Salad

As luck would have it, we have been blessed with some gorgeous Spring weather this week. I’m ignoring the fact that the forecast suggests the temperature is set to dip again this weekend though, instead focusing on the hope that the warmer weather will arrive for good soon.

And in celebration of Spring, let me share with you a tasty salad that featured at our recent Father’s Day linner. On that occasion we served the salad as a side dish, but I think it would easily make for a yummy lunch on its own too.

Packed with wombok, brown rice, tomatoes, pineapple and fresh herbs, and jazzed up with toasted coconut and sweet chilli cashews, this salad sure packed a punch.

I used this recipe as a base – swapping in brown rice instead of basmati – and it was super easy to throw together. I loved the crunch of the wombok and cashews, and the sweetness of the pineapple definitely gave the salad a tropical feel. Definitely a salad that will be making further appearances as we head into the warmer months!

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!!)

Cauliflower and Sausage Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of those dishes that I love, but just don’t order all that often. Instead, I tend to opt for white rice when we are out at an Asian restaurant (or, even better, brown rice if it is available).

Recently, though, we rediscovered the magic that is a good fried rice, particularly when we worked out just how much the kids love it. However I remain mindful of the fact that it can be a little calorific and not something we should order all the time.

That was, until I came across a cauliflower version I could make at home.

Yes – instead of white rice – the base is cauliflower – processed until it resembles grains and stir-fried with a number of yummy additions. On this occasion it was eggs, sausages (we used a flavoured pork variety), coriander and variety of vegetables – corn, shallots, capsicum and onions.  Brought together with a little oil, ginger, garlic and soy sauce.

And after a quick flash fry in the wok – we had ourselves quite the tasty fried rice. Served with a small bowl of chilli sauce for the adults, yet keeping the main dish chilli-free for the kids.

The kids even went back for seconds, so I’m definitely keeping this dish in rotation. It makes for a great meal by itself, and would definitely work as side dish too!

Cauliflower and Sausage Fried Rice (serves 4) – Adapted from Taste magazine

  • 1 large cauliflower, broken into florets and processed until it resembles rice
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 4 sausages (we used pork), cooked and then sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 corn cobs, kernels removed
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 green shallots, sliced
  • Handful chopped coriander
  • Chilli sauce to serve
  1. Heat oil in a wok. Pour in the whisked egg, and swirl until it covers the base. Cook for a few minutes, then remove once cooked through and slice.
  2. Heat a little more oil in the wok and add the vegetables, garlic, ginger and soy. Stir-fry for 4 or so minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.
  3. Add the cooked sausages and cauliflower, and cook for a few minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and the sausage slices are heated through.
  4. Add the sliced egg, soy sauce and coriander, and stir. Cook until everything is well combined and heated through.
  5. Spoon into bowls, and serve with chilli sauce (if using).

Salmon with ‘Mexican’ rice

IMG_4051 Its been a rather creative week in cafe BBB, as I attempt to create dinners using what ingredients we have on hand, rather than stick to any specific menu plan. Not intentionally (for my this ‘plan’ loving girl will always prefer structure), it just seems to have worked out that way. One such meal was this salmon with ‘Mexican’ rice – inspired by some leftover rice from the weekend’s apricot chicken dinner, and upon realising that I had a lovely avocado sitting in the fruit bowl. So into a pan went the cooked rice, garlic, chilli, fresh diced tomatoes and corn. Heated slowly, until the rice had warmed through. IMG_4050 Meanwhile I had some frozen salmon fillets doing their thing in the oven, and 20 minutes or so later it was ready to ‘plate up’! IMG_4054 The spicy Mexican rice, grilled salmon, topped with diced avocado, aioli and fresh coriander. IMG_4055 And, truth be told, I was pretty happy with the result. It looked pretty, was packed with flavour, and helped me use up some leftover ingredients. IMG_4057 A meal that almost certainly should make a more regular appearance! What about you? How do you like to use up leftover rice?

Tuna Rice Pie

This tasty dish made an appearance at a recent girls lunch I hosted. I wanted something relatively light, that I could make in advance, and well it fit the bill just perfectly. Cooked rice, tuna, sundried tomatoes, onion, baby bocconcini, parmesan, parsley, eggs and spinach. IMG_1836_thumb1 Stirred until combined… IMG_1837_thumb1 Then pressed into a greased springform cake tin. IMG_1838_thumb1IMG_1839_thumb1 Baked for ***, until golden brown. IMG_1850_thumb1 I served the pie on my cake stand, for it really was just like a little savoury cake. IMG_1855_thumb2 And despite being so simple to put together, the flavours were delightful, and worked perfectly for a light ladies lunch. IMG_1858_thumb1IMG_1862_thumb1 We served the pie in slices, along with a fresh garden salad. The added bonus being that it was a large pie – so there were lots of leftovers for the next couple of days. IMG_1893_thumb2 Delicious hot or cold, and you can make it with any ingredients you have on hand really. IMG_1892_thumb1 Tuna Rice Pie (adapted from here)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.5 cups aborio rice
  • 670ml chicken stock
  • 425g can tuna in water, drained, flaked
  • 200g sun-dried tomatoes, drained, finely chopped
  • 200g baby bocconcini cheese, drained, roughly chopped
  • 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 100g baby spinach leaves, shredded
  • handful chopped parsley
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
    1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is soft. Increase heat to high and add rice. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in stock. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
    2. Preheat oven to 190°C. Grease and line base of a round springform pan. Add tuna, tomato, bocconcini, parmesan, spinach, parsley and egg to cooled rice mixture. Mix until well combined.
    3. Press rice mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set and crisp around the edges. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen pie.
    4. Cut into wedges to serve.

    What about you? Do you have a favourite ‘light’ lunch dish?

  • Cauliflower rice

    The other night, this head of cauliflower sat looking at me from the crisper section of our fridge. IMG_5710 Wanting to use it up before it went bad, I turned to the ever-faithful internet for some cauliflower inspiration. And, when I came across various recipes for ‘cauliflower rice’, well I was intrigued. The preparation seemed easy enough. Just cauliflower… IMG_5711 Processed until it resembled ‘rice”… IMG_5712 Then sautéed with a bunch of other goodies… IMG_5714 Garlic, celery, capsicum, rosemary and cumin… IMG_5716 Combined with the cauliflower, and heated until cooked through (around 5 minutes). IMG_5717 IMG_5718 At the last minute, I decided to add some chopped dried apricots. IMG_5721 And, I am pretty happy that I did, as they added just the right amount of sweetness to the cauliflower. While the texture and taste was really nothing like “rice”, it was nice to have a side dish that was a little different, and not as heavy as rice would be. I imagine that it could be a fairly versatile side dish too – substituting any other vegetables or herbs as you please. IMG_5722 On this occasion, I served the cauliflower rice with a side of greens, and topped it with a salmon fillet that I had marinated in maple syrup and ground chilli, then baked in the oven for 10 minutes. IMG_5723 A rather ‘gourmet’ looking mid-week meal, although to be honest, this only took around 20 minutes to put together. What about you? Ever made cauliflower rice?

    Lemon chicken rice

    We are all a tad sleep deprived over here, with Miss Charlotte being a little unsettled throughout both the day and night at the moment. A newborn’s prerogative I believe Smile We have, however, continued to eat well – with a view to keeping our bodies fuelled with healthy and nutritious food during these unsettled periods. Particularly with dishes that are simple and easy to prepare, and that provide lots of leftovers for quick ‘heat and eat’ lunches the next day. Such as this lemon chicken rice. IMG_5444 Just carrots and capsicum… IMG_5437 Basmati rice and stock… IMG_5438 Chicken breast (that I had poached and shredded)… IMG_5439 Frozen peas… IMG_5440 Lemon rind and juice… IMG_5441 Simmered until the rice was cooked… IMG_5443 And our one pot dinner was done. IMG_5444 Simple, easy and healthy. IMG_5445 And the perfect meal to prepare when time is lacking… IMG_5447 Delish! What about you? Do you ever cook with basmati rice? I normally only cook with brown rice, but it was a nice change to use a different variety this time.

    Wheat-free char siew (bbq pork)

    Canberra gave us such a dark and dreary day today, although it was perfect weather for what I had planned. A movie day! OK – I did have to get dressed to venture out into the rain for a morning obstetrician appointment, but aside from that, the rest of my day was spent cuddled on the couch with my two favourite fur balls watching some fairly tragic chick flicks I had stored on the DVR. IMG_0200 (bump cuddles) IMG_0198 Although, on reflection, given that baby BBB is still posterior (and not looking like making her appearance anytime soon), perhaps I should have spent the day standing rather than sitting? My lazy day also looks like turning into a lazy night, owing to a tasty pork dish that I cooked up yesterday. A dish courtesy of Adam Liaw’s cookbook – Two Asian Kitchens (a cookbook that is coincidentally Mr BBB’s favourite at the moment). IMG_4942 Char Siew pork neck. aka BBQ pork.  aka one of my all time favourite Chinese dishes. Before I was diagnosed as being wheat intolerant, I wasted no time in ordering a big plate of this spiced pork whenever we went out for yum cha. Or chowing down on a container-full from our local Chinese BBQ restaurant almost every other week for my Friday night dinner. Sadly in recent years, however, its soy sauce (and therefore, wheat) content meant that store bought versions were no longer possible. So, when I came across Adam’s recipe for char siew, and it appeared that I could adapt it relatively easily to be wheat free, I was most excited indeed. And, what better time to create said dish that when on maternity leave and looking to fill up the day. IMG_4944 I did encounter a small glitch in ‘the plan’ when the first two Asian butchers I visited were closed. Starting to panic a little, I kept trying other butchers, until I came across one on the other side of town that was not only open, but also had some pork neck on hand. IMG_4950 Success! All I had to do was put together the flavourings… IMG_4945 Garlic, ginger and Chinese five spice.. IMG_4946 And some other liquid lovelies… IMG_4947IMG_4949 Pour, cover and marinate… IMG_4951 And wait patiently for 8 hours for the flavours to develop. Then into the oven for 40 minutes or so… IMG_4953 And the aromas wafting through our kitchen soon became undeniably familiar. IMG_4954 Homemade char siew pork neck! IMG_4957 Caramelised in rich spices on the outside, filled with juicy tender meat on the inside. IMG_4968 Served on brown rice and steamed Asian greens… IMG_4967 And finished with a  drizzle of the leftover char siew marinade that we reduced on the stove after removing the pork. IMG_4963 I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed every mouthful of this dish, and how it brought back so many fond memories of yum cha indulgences and char siew dinners past. IMG_4969 Both Mr BBB actually had to stop ourselves from going back for seconds, for we were not hungry – just enjoying the flavours of the dish so much that we wanted to eat more. (I am glad that we did, though, as we now have leftovers for tonight’s dinner). I see this dish making many more appearances in the BBB household. A homemade wheat-free yum cha brunch perhaps??? What about you? Are you a fan of char siew?

    Plate of random – take 4

    I am no stranger when it comes to creating a ‘plate of random’ for dinner.

    These plates generally seem appear when stocks in our fridge are getting low, or when there are leftovers that need to be eaten but those leftovers are not enough to create a full meal. Such as tonight. IMG_4381 Haloumi. IMG_4385 Asparagus and zucchini. IMG_4384 Brown / white rice. IMG_4387 And … cornchips??? IMG_4386 Yes, cornchips. Poppy seed and cheddar cornchips to be precise. For no other reason than the bag was open, and I find them rather delicious. IMG_4382 A tasty, albeit random, dinner indeed! What about you? Eaten anything ‘random’ lately?

    Stir it, fry it

    That was certainly my mantra for dinner this evening. IMG_4379 Mr BBB worked late, then we wanted to fit in our evening walk, so a quick and easy dinner was a must. Rather unsurprisingly, we turned to a stir fry. Starting with rump steak, sliced and marinated in mixture of GF soy, rice wine, garlic and ginger. IMG_4368 For I am trying to include more red meat in my diet after finding our that I am slightly anaemic during my OB appointment the other week. IMG_4370 Stir-fried with broccoli.. IMG_4373 And served with a brown / white rice combination courtesy of our rice cooker. IMG_4374 Topped with green onions. And our dinner was complete. IMG_4376 To time save – we had put the rice cooker on, and had the meat marinating, while we were out for our walk. IMG_4369 Then, when we got home, it was just a matter of throwing the beef and vegetables into a wok and voila. IMG_4380 Dinner in a flash. What about you? Are you as in love with your rice cooker as we are? We bought the one pictured above using a gift voucher a while ago and I am smitten. It has a timer function and will cook my porridge to perfection In love(a big improvement on our last rice cooker that would leave half uncooked and stuck to the pot!)