Spicy peanut sauce


I’m not sure how I was introduced to spicy food. Growing up I didn’t eat a lot of spicy food, nor was my family that adventurous when it came time to eat out.  Sure we visited the local Chinese restaurant from time to time, but I recall only ordering mild dishes – such as omelettes or sweet and sour chicken.

But over the years I’ve really come to love spicy food. Perhaps it was the time we spent in Thailand, or having a partner who is definitely adventurous when eating out? Needless to say, aside from a rather random aversion during my pregnancy with Charlotte, I now tend to lean in favour of ‘hotter’ rather than milder, so much so that I will sprinkle chilli flakes on just about anything.

So when I had a hankering for peanut sauce the other day, I couldn’t resist adding a good amount of chilli to the mixture.  Resulting in a rather spicy peanut sauce, that was hot and flavoursome but still a little sweet.  And not to mention being super easy to make and void of lots of the nasties that you tend to find in jarred sauces.


On this particular occasion we used the sauce to jazz up a tofu / vegetable stir-fry – but you could use it in so many other ways. A dipping sauce for chicken skewers comes to mind…

And you could easily tweak the recipe to make it milder, if that’s your preference, or add more chilli If you wanted it even hotter! IMG_8743

Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • 3/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tbs kejap manis
  • 2 tbs hot chilli sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lime
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Water
  1. Process all ingredients (except for the water) until almost smooth.
  2. Add water, a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.




Slow Cooker Bolognaise sauce

IMG_4312 I warned you. I am 100% addicted to my new slow cooker. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. At least not until Spring arrives. The latest creation was a family favourite. Bolognaise. Literally a bundle of ingredients thrown in, lid on, and left to simmer throughout the afternoon. IMG_4305 No browning, no pre-cooking. Just time. IMG_4311 We enjoyed the sauce over a pile of spaghetti, on a particularly chilly Canberra evening. Comfort food in a bowl! IMG_4313 The sauce was rich and had lots of hidden veggies, that Miss C was oblivious to. IMG_4317 Next time I would probably add a little tomato paste, but the overall flavours were still pretty good. With the added bonus that we had load leftover for the following evening(s). IMG_4319 Slow Cooker Bolognaise Sauce

  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 800g tinned tomatoes – oregano and basil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tbs garlic paste
  • 6 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, oregano and parsley
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbs BBQ sauce
  • 1ts beef stock powder
  1. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker, and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

15 minute meal – Pork with Hungarian Pepper Sauce

Slowly, but ever so surely, I am making my way through Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals Cookbook. And my latest meal? IMG_4855 A rather delightful Pork with Hungarian Pepper Sauce. What I loved about this sauce, was how (a) it was packed full of veggies and (b) involved no slicing or grating at all. Well not manually anyway …. IMG_4847 No – instead all the vegetables were thrown into the food processor – and processed until relatively fine. Then into a pan with paprika, garlic, passata and balsamic vinegar. IMG_4849 Cooked until warm and the flavours had developed – and what a lovely sauce it turned out to be! IMG_4850 I grilled some pork medallions, which were served on the pepper sauce and topped with natural yoghurt and some fennel leaves. Alongside the pork I served a pilaf that we had leftover from the day before – and so the dish was complete. IMG_4851 The star of the dish really was the pepper sauce, though, with the added bonus of leftovers = more to eat the following day! IMG_4852 Another winner indeed! What about you? Ever used your food processor to chop veggies?

Tahini yoghurt sauce

IMG_4823 It is no secret that I love to bake. And with the abundance of sweet treats in our household lately, first the doughnuts and then the chocolate torte, you would be forgiven if you thought that is all we ate! Truthfully, I love to save my baking adventures for when there are many mouths to feed. For although I love my fair share of sugar, my waistline and general health probably do not, and it is far less tempting to eat cake for lunch when there is no cake leftover! So to prove it is not all sugar and chocolate in the BBB household, let me share with you another tasty little dish that made an appearance recently. We had a butterflied leg of lamb planned for dinner, and I wanted to make a sauce to accompany it. I can’t quite recall where the inspiration came from, although I think it was probably a cooking magazine, but with all ingredients on hand – we soon had ourselves this tasty tahini yoghurt sauce. IMG_4820 Simply, a cup of natural yoghurt, a generous tablespoon of tahini, a squeeze of garlic paste, chopped mint and chives – seasoned to taste. IMG_4821 The mint + tahini combination worked just beautifully with the lamb, and had me coming back for seconds! IMG_4824 A super easy sauce that I will be sure to make again. And one which completely reaffirmed my love for using yoghurt as a base. What about you? Made any yummy sauces recently?

15 minute meal – steak with mushroom sauce

Some meals, you really shouldn’t judge by their appearance. For although they may not be the prettiest of meals, they can still be rather delicious. IMG_1951 Take this Jamie Oliver steak with mushroom sauce recipe, for instance. My end-result  was nothing really special to look at, but it was quite the tasty end to a long day. Mainly because of the delicious mushroom sauce that was served alongside the steak – mushrooms, jazzed up with garlic, brandy and cream… IMG_1953IMG_1954 Then blended into a rich, creamy sauce… IMG_1958 Served with steamed greens, potatoes and extra oyster mushrooms…. IMG_1964 And well I was not complaining one bit! IMG_1966 Not so pretty to photograph, but delicious to eat! What about you? Are you a fan of ‘pretty’ food?

Roasted tomato sauce

IMG_5324 When I glanced into my fruit bowl the other week, I noticed that we had accumulated quite a few tomatoes – all of which were at the perfect stage of ripeness for immediate use. IMG_5313 And although I do enjoy a tomato / cheese sandwich, even I wouldn’t be able to get through this lot before they spoiled. IMG_5314 The solution? An oven baked tomato sauce. IMG_5315 A delicious, delicious, oven baked tomato sauce. That was so very easy to make, and made our house smell amazing! IMG_5316 Just chop the tomatoes, and place them in an oven-proof dish with sliced carrots, onion, garlic, red wine, olive oil and fresh basil. IMG_5317 Give it a good stir. Then bake at a low heat for 4 hours. Until your tomatoes look something like this…. IMG_5319 Tender, sweet tomatoes and aromatic vegetables. IMG_5320 I don’t have a food mill, so I simply pureed the whole batch – skins and all. And suddenly we had ourselves a luscious tomato sauce (that I had to stop myself from eating by the spoonful straight out of the bowl). IMG_5323 What I particularly loved about this sauce is that you don’t need to sit by the stove stirring it. Rather, just place it in the oven on low, and get on with your day – returning hours later to find that the oven has done all the work for you! IMG_5324 We have used this sauce in a couple of dinner since, but my favourite would have to have been the pasta dish we created. Nothing fancy, just rice fettuccine, baby bocconcini and fresh basil from our garden. IMG_5326 Simple, yet spot on for flavour. IMG_5327 Especially with the little salty bursts from the bocconcini. IMG_5328 Finished with a glass of vino, and I felt like quite the Italian Nonna. IMG_5330 Delish! IMG_5331 What about you? Do you make your own tomato sauce?

Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins (GF)

Tonight we turned to our freezer for dinner inspiration, given that we seem to have collected a variety of frozen meats that need to be used up. So, while Mr BBB headed out to the BBQ to cook up a batch of sausages, I looked in our fridge to see what else I could make to fill out our dinner plates. I found a bunch of asparagus, a capsicum and some of the lovely eggs from my boss’ farm, and it wasn’t too long before an idea popped into my head. IMG_3874 Frittata! But not just any frittata… IMG_3883 Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins! I started by chopping 3 asparagus spears and half of the capsicum into small pieces. IMG_3875 I then gave Mr BBB the remaining asparagus, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with lemon pepper, to grill on the BBQ. IMG_3885 But back to the frittata muffins. I combined three eggs, milk (I used almond milk because that’s what I had in the fridge), gluten free SR flour and grated cheese…. IMG_3876 I divided the vegetables among a well greased 6 hole muffin pan.. IMG_3877 Topped with the egg mixture… IMG_3878 And baked for about 30 minutes, until the egg mixture had set. IMG_3881 IMG_3883 And we had ourselves pretty little frittata muffins! IMG_3884 Then it was time to put our dinner together. IMG_3886 Sausages, frittata muffins and grilled asparagus. IMG_3887 And, in true Aussie style, let’s not forget a good dollop of tomato sauce on the side. Mr BBB and I both started with 2 muffins, but each went back for a third…. IMG_3889 So they cant have been too bad. Actually, they were far from bad – they were light and fluffy, and rather moreish. I think they would also make a nice addition to a breakfast or brunch table, or be a portable snack to take to a picnic. And, don’t feel that you have to use asparagus and capsicum, I am sure that other vegetables and herbs would work easily as well. The possibilities are endless! Asparagus and capsicum frittata muffins (makes 6)

  • 3 spears asparagus, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non dairy)
  • 2tbs gluten free SR flour
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 190C, and grease a 6-hole muffin pan well.
  2. Divide vegetables evenly among the 6 holes.
  3. Whisk eggs and milk, then add grated cheese and flour, stirring to combine.
  4. Pour over the vegetables.
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the eggs have set.
  6. Allow to cook for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

What about you? Are you a tomato sauce fan?I am a tomato sauce / mustard gal for sure. Although you can keep your BBQ sauce bleh!

My favourite bolognaise sauce

Ahh what a lovely evening it has been. I well and truly got my ‘walk on’ today, with a 5km walk around the lake with a friend after work and then a 1km walk to dinner.  A new pregnancy walking distance record yay! Then rewarded, rather happily, with a big plate of GF pad thai noodles from my new favourite Thai place down the road. It was actually nice to have the night off cooking. And rather necessary as the spoils of our weekend ‘cook up’ had finally run out. See, with the unavoidable feeling that I am not able to fit as much into my day as I would like to (partly due to pregnancy fatigue making my ‘awake time’ shorter and partly due to trying to fit too much in!) I have been trying to make dishes over the weekend from which we will get a few meals. Or at least parts of meals throughout the week. This was exactly the reason behind my decision to make a big batch of bolognaise sauce last weekend. So very tasty – and so very versatile. And not too much trouble to make at all. Our lovely local butcher ground a combination of beef, pork and veal mince that I used as the base to my sauce. Then, when coupled with tomatoes, herbs and some vegetables…. IMG_3414 And with the patience of time…. IMG_3417 Our house was soon filled with the amazing aromas that only slow cooked dishes have the ability to generate. IMG_3420 A BBB tratttoria if you please 🙂 The next question being….what does one do with a big batch of bolognaise sauce and a desire to keep hungry mouths fed for a few days at least? IMG_3422 You will just have to wait and see…. BBB Bolognaise Sauce (Serves 6 to 8)

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 500g beef mince
  • 250g veal mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 700ml tomato passata
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium high heat Add onion and garlic, and cook (stirring) until the onion has softened.
  2. Add the carrots, oregano and rosemary, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add mince, and cook until the mince has browned. Use a spoon to break up the mince as best as possible and remove any large lumps.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cover.
  5. Cook for 1.5 hours. Remove lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

What about you? Do you have a ‘secret’ bolognaise ingredient? I like to add lots of herbs – thyme, oregano, rosemary….you name it!

Long Italian lunch – Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Remember when I mentioned that we indulged in a long Italian lunch last Saturday while watching Australia take on Italy in the Rugby World Cup? IMG_2656    Oh and remember when I promised you some recipes??? I sure do! And I haven’t forgotten. So let me begin shall I? Being a lunch ‘party’, I wanted to keep the dishes fairly light, something that Italian food is often not renowned for. So, I decided to steer clear of the usual lasagne or pasta route, and try something new. Cannelloni to be exact. And seeing as I really love ricotta, but ‘the books’ say that I should avoid it during pregnancy unless it is cooked / heated…. IMG_2601 I decided that spinach and ricotta cannelloni would be a fun lunch option. Coming together in 4 fairly straightforward parts. Part 1 – the noodles I am in no way qualified/inclined/talented enough to make my own pasta sheets, so I picked up this box of gluten free cannelloni tubes last week. IMG_2618IMG_2619 I have, however, had mixed success when it comes to dried GF pasta (particular when baking it – ugh crunchy lasagne anyone?!), so I decided to also have a safe option for my non-allergy family members and purchased some fresh lasagne sheets from the markets also… IMG_2612 (ps. I thought that purchasing the fresh sheets at the market would be cheaper than at the supermarket. They weren’t. Woolworths stock something similar for almost half the price. Food budget fail?! Although small business win perhaps?) Part 2 – the filling IMG_2600 With the noodles sorted, it was time to think about the filling. I found 3 big bunches of spinach on sale at the market, and after removing the leaves, washing them, blanching them in boiling water and then squeezing out as much water as I could, the spinach was ready to go! IMG_2606 Combined with ricotta, parmesan, pan fried mushrooms, basil and oregano, seasoned to taste… IMG_2609 And our cannelloni filling was complete! Part 3 – the sauce IMG_2582        I had originally planned to use jarred passata, but decided to jazz up some peeled tinned tomatoes instead. IMG_2585 So into a pot went the tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, roasted capsicum and sundried tomatoes, IMG_2587 Simmered for half an hour, then pureed until smooth. IMG_2593 The result? IMG_2595 A rich, vibrant and flavoursome tomato sauce, which makes me wonder why I have never done this before! IMG_2594 Sauce complete! Stage 4 – the construction With the noodles, filling and sauce all ready to go, it was time to put this lunch together. Starting with a layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of two baking dishes (one for the GF pasta, and one for the ‘regular’ pasta). IMG_2611 I  stuffed the gluten free shells with the ricotta mixture first, to avoid any chances of contamination by their wheat-filled counterparts. This was rather messy work, but after a little effort, I had myself a baking dish filled with the GF cannelloni. IMG_2620 Laid side by side, and finished with another layer of the tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of grated mozzarella. IMG_2624 Covered with foil and into the oven for 45 minutes, with an extra 5 minutes uncovered to allow the top to brown slightly. Then,  it was on to the ‘regular’ cannelloni. As I was using fresh lasagne sheets, and not dried sheets or tubes, I spooned about 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture along one of the short edges of the sheet, IMG_2614 Then rolled the sheet up around the filling to form a tube. IMG_2615 Placed seam side down in the other baking dish… IMG_2617 and repeated until we were out of both the lasagne sheets and the ricotta mixture. IMG_2616 Again, finished with the remainder of the tomato sauce, IMG_2622 And a sprinkle of mozzarella. IMG_2623 As this version used fresh lasagne sheets, and not dried pasta, I baked the dish for 30 minutes only, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking also. And the result? One big baking dish of ooozey cannelloni, that would keep even the biggest cheese lover happy! IMG_2660 And, while I can’t personally attest for the taste of the wheat version, I am calling it a success given that everyone went back for seconds 😉 IMG_2661 And, as for the gluten free version, I was pleasantly surprised that the noodles had softened, yet retained their shape, making them a decent GF pasta substitute. IMG_2662 So what are my post cannelloni thoughts?? While there was certainly a bit of effort involved in making the dish, it could put together in advance, making it a perfect ‘heat and eat’ option once my guests had arrived. And, when combined with a couple salads or side dishes, we had ourselves a relatively simple yet tasty meal for all appetites. Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (makes 14+)

  • 14 fresh rectangle lasagne sheets (or equivalent GF cannelloni tubes)
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce (*see recipe below)
  • 800g ricotta
  • 2-3 bunches spinach, leaves removed, blanched and shredded
  • 6 button mushrooms, diced and sautéed for a couple minutes
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated mozzarella (or more / less depending on what you prefer)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce into a large baking dish and spread to cover.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, parmesan, oregano and basil until well combined. Season to taste.
  4. Working with one lasagne sheet at a time, spoon approximately 1/3 of the ricotta mixture along the short edge of the sheet, and roll to enclose. Place the roll, seam side down in the prepared baking dish. If you are using GF cannelloni shells, as best you can, spoon or pipe the ricotta mixture into the tubes.
  5. Repeat with the remaining lasagne sheets, until you have a full tray of cannelloni.
  6. Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the cannelloni, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes if using fresh lasagne sheets, or 45-50 minutes if using dried shells.
  8. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking, to allow the cheese to become golden brown and bubbly.

Homemade tomato sauce (makes 3 cups)

  • 800g peeled tomatoes (tinned is ok)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1small roasted capsicum, sliced
  1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and use a stick blender to puree until smooth.

But cannelloni aside, stay tuned for part 2 of our long Italian lunch……there are salads and brownies involved!! What about you? Ever made your own cannelloni? What is your favourite cannelloni filling?

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?