Spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad

If I was to name one ingredient that I’m a little hesitant to cook, at least with any regularity, it would have to be fish. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating fish, because I certainly do, I think it just takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s the choosing the right type, then storing it the right way, then working out the best cooking method – yes I find it a tad overwhelming.

Silly really.

For dishes like this spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad are are actually pretty simple to throw together. Particularly when I send the husband to the fishmonger (ie. tasking him with choosing a good variety) and then get him to cook it on the BBQ!  My main role was mixing together the spices to coat the fish, then throwing together the rest of the meal – the salsa salad.

For the fish – we used ling fillets. Sprayed lightly with oil, then coated with a spice mixture of garlic salt, paprika, cayenne and a little lime rind. Onto the BBQ for around 4 minutes each side, until cooked through.

As for the salad, well that came together in the kitchen. Starting with corn kernels – removed from the cob and pan-fried until charred slightly- combined with tomatoes, lettuce, sliced sugar snap peas and cooked quinoa. Finished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of coriander.

Yes, friends, this is one fish dish that I must make again!

Spiced fish with quinoa salsa salad (serves 2)

  • 2 fish fillets (we used ling – but you could use any firm white fish)
  • olive oil spray
  • Juice and rind of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • corn kernels from 2 cobs, charred slightly
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g sugar snap peas, sliced
  • lettuce leaves
  • coriander leaves to serve
  1. Lightly spray the fish fillets  with olive oil.
  2. Combine the lime rind and spices in a small bowl. Coat the fish on both sides with the spice mixture.
  3. Preheat a BBQ hot plate – then cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the corn, quinoa, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and lettuce in a bowl. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates.
  5. Top the salad with the cooked fish. Drizzle over lime juice and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

What about you? Are you a fan of cooking fish at home?

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.

Mushroom quinoa “risotto” with roasted tomatoes


While I love risotto, sometimes it feels a little heavy for dinner (particularly if I am eating close to bedtime). A solution? Use another of my favourite ingredients in place of rice..


The added bonus being that it is quicker to prepare and packed with protein (especially if you are opting to otherwise keep the dish vegetarian).

On this occasion, I packed out the ‘risotto’ with mushrooms, zucchini and a good helping of spinach. The overall result was full of flavour, but not too heavy, and it turned out to be quite the tasty midweek meal.

img_1130 Finished with some cherry tomatoes that I had roasted in the oven until soft and starting to caramelise – which added nice little sweet bursts to the dish.

I’ll have to remember this dish for next time I have vegetarian friends in town!

Mushroom quinoa “risotto” with roasted tomatoes (serves 2)

  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 0.5 cups water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 brown onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup tri-colour quinoa
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place tomatoes on a lined backing tray and spray lightly with oil. Roast for 10 minutes or until starting to soften.
  2. Bring stock and water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Lower heat.
  3. Heat oil in a separate fry-pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook for a few minutes, or until starting to colour.
  4. Add the garlic and zucchini, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the quinoa and stir for 1 minute, coating the grains in oil.
  6. Add the warm stock mixture, one ladle at a time. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next. Repeat until all the stock is used and the quinoa is cooked.
  7. Stir through the parmesan and spinach, and stir until the spinach has wilted.
  8. Divide the risotto amongst two serving bowls, and top with the roasted tomatoes.



Easy sausage bolognaise

IMG_2926If your child is anything like mine, spaghetti bolognaise is a clear favourite when it comes to mealtimes. And, to be honest, it is a favourite of ours too! So with the evenings starting to cool down as we make our way into Autumn, it felt somewhat appropriate to have a big pot of bolognaise sauce simmering away on the stove one recent afternoon. IMG_2928 Josie and I took our usual daily walk – ending up at our small local shop to collect the key ingredients. I soon realised they were out of mince (and I didn’t feel like walking to the bigger shops) – so I sought out an alternative. In this case, thick beef sausages from which I could extract the meat. IMG_2922 The rest, well it came together pretty simply. All the usual additions (onion, carrot, celery, passata, tomatoes and wine) – simmered low and slow for a couple hours. IMG_2925 The result being a flavoursome meat sauce! IMG_2931 Served atop a big bed of spaghetti – with a lil’ glass of shiraz for the adults alongside. And, as for Miss C – well she went back for second so I’m calling it a win! Not to mention the leftovers that became a topping for some roasted sweet potatoes the next day! Sausage bolognaise (serves 6-8)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 5 thick beef sausages – removed from skin
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • sprinkle of herbs (I used dried oregano and parsley)
  1. Sautee onion, carrots and celery in a little olive oil in a large pan – until starting to soften.
  2. Add the meat – and continue to cook until browned (breaking up lumps with a spoon).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook slowly for an hour or so. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the desired consistency is reached.

What about you? For those with kids, what is your ‘guaranteed winner’ meal?

Cauliflower macaroni and salad sides

IMG_2783 On Saturday, we had our family around for dinner and a little a lot of rugby watching. It was cold and dark outside, as it is this time of year in Canberra, so when deciding what to cook I found myself leaning towards comfort food. Something filling, something warming, something like this delightful cauliflower macaroni I found in Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals cookbook. IMG_2652 While the recipe allowed for the meal to be put on the table speedily, I slowed things down. I prepared the macaroni and the crumb in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the dish off in the oven until just before we sat down to eat. IMG_2653 And what a lovely little make-ahead meal it turned out to be. You can find a link to recipe here. To start, I cooked the cauliflower and macaroni in a large pot of boiling water until the pasta was al dente. IMG_2703 Then mashed the cauliflower as best I could, stirred through some crème fraiche, grated cheese and garlic, and seasoned well. Then the mixture was transferred to my baking dish. IMG_2701IMG_2704IMG_2705 Next the crumb…. I didn’t have any pancetta – but I did have some lovely smoked ham that I sliced thinly and grilled instead. This was then processed with wholemeal breadcrumbs and rosemary – to create the most wonderful smelling crumb! IMG_2655 Sprinkled atop the macaroni mixture – and it was at this point I covered the dish until dinner time. IMG_2707IMG_2710 (I later baked the dish for about 15 minutes at 200C, allowing the crumb to become crispy and golden brown). Knowing the pasta was quite a hearty and rich main, I wanted to keep the sides relatively simple. First – I made a chunky basil sauce, of sorts, using fresh basil leaves, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil… IMG_2711IMG_2712 Which I stirred through some chopped cherry tomatoes and baby bocconcini. IMG_2713 And, to get some ‘crunch’ factor into our meal, I also made a green salad with chopped cos, mint and sliced zucchini – dressed very simply with lemon zest and juice. IMG_2776 All together now! IMG_2778 Warm cauliflower macaroni, with basil tomatoes and a lemony green salad. IMG_2784 A lovely little meal, shared among family. And most certainly comfort food. I rather enjoyed the macaroni – which had the added vegetable bonus of cauliflower throughout. It was creamy, but not too creamy, and the rosemary crumb was crispy and smoky. IMG_2794 One thing that was obvious, though, was the serving sizes called for in the recipe were huge. I followed the recipe pretty much to the tee, but even with 6 hungry people at our table (and noting the recipe said it served 6), there was almost half of the macaroni dish leftover at the end. Not that I am complaining (everyone was sent home with  leftovers for lunch the following day) – just an observation really! Although perhaps we were just saving room for dessert…. IMG_2643 Details to come! What about you? Tried any tasty pasta dishes lately?

Sundried (oven-dried) tomatoes

Happy Monday lovely people! I want to start the week by sharing with you a fantastic way to use any abundance of tomatoes that you may have. toms For over the weekend, I had just that. IMG_2599 A pile of tomatoes in my fruit bowl that were juicy and ripe, and needed to be used before they turned. Simply, I sliced them in half and placed them (cut side up) on a rack over a baking dish. Sprinkled with a little sea salt and a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil… IMG_2601 Then into the oven at 100C for 10 hours.  Yes you read that correct. 10 hours! But what a delightful sight I was greeted with when I opened the oven later in the day…. IMG_2609IMG_2607 Perfectly dried tomatoes, packed full of flavour. IMG_2611 And while the uses for these beauties are endless, on this occasion I turned to an old favourite….. IMG_2624 Homemade pizza! Tomato paste, basil, mozzarella and of course, those oven-dried tomatoes. IMG_2625 And, true to form, they were the star of the show. And so very easy to make. Win win really! What about you? Ever dried your own tomatoes?

Caprese salad, two ways

IMG_8445 On of my all time favourite salads is the caprese salad.   For with just a few fresh ingredients, a truly delicious salad is born. So this salad has appeared the last few times we have had friends around for a BBQ. The formula is generally the same – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil – but sometimes with a little variation or two. The first time – the original. Gorgeous, sweet tomatoes… IMG_8444 Layered between slices of mozzarella and basil leaves. IMG_8443 Finished with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (not pictured). Not only delicious but also vibrant and visually appealing. But on the second occasion – I did something a little different…. IMG_6228 Kumatoes in place of regular tomatoes, mini marinated boccocini, basil and rocket. Again, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. IMG_6227 Perhaps not as colourful as the original, but still oh so delicious. What about you? Do you have a favourite salad that you like to serve?

Make ahead meal – Chicken Cacciatore

IMG_6236 In keeping with my ‘make ahead’ mantra when it comes to dinners at the moment, this meal was another one pot wonder that I had bubbling away on the stove throughout the afternoon. IMG_6190 Chicken cacciatore. Inspired by this recipe,  but tweaked a little then slow cooked for a few hours. IMG_6186 Chicken, veggies, herbs and pancetta. IMG_6187 Diced tomatoes… IMG_6188 Simmered with stock and olives. IMG_6189 Then come dinner time, it was just a matter of “reheat and eat”. With the assistance of another favourite for the base… IMG_6229 1 minute polenta. IMG_6230 The instant version may be a little more expensive than the regular version – but the fact it literally goes from dry grains to perfect polenta in only 1 minute (with the aid of boiling water), and there are no sticky posts to clean up, well convenience trumps price in this instance. IMG_6231 Topped with the chicken cacciatore (that was now oh so tender after being on the stove for so long) IMG_6232 And a sprinkle of parsley… IMG_6237 And we had dinner on the table in under 10 minutes owing to the afternoon cooking session. IMG_6241 Oh and did I mention that it makes plenty of leftovers? IMG_6239 And can be eaten with one hand (an important criteria when baby-wrangling in the evening….) IMG_6238 Double bonus! What about you? Do you look for good money or  time value when it comes to cooking?

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?

A long Italian lunch…

IMG_2656 I can’t believe that it is Sunday night already. It feels like this weekend disappeared in the blink of an eye, and I would certainly enjoy having another day off before I head back to work. But sadly, no such luck. We had taken a trip to the markets yesterday, in order to stock up on ingredients such as lasagne sheets, ricotta, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. For with Australia playing Italy in the Rugby World Cup today, and hosting our family for lunch and rugby watching, a long Italian-inspired lunch seemed to be a rather appropriate lunch idea. IMG_2585 So, on the menu…. IMG_2658 Gluten-free spinach and ricotta cannelloni… IMG_2650       Regular spinach and ricotta cannelloni… IMG_2660 Caprese salad… IMG_2652 IMG_2653 Mixed greens, with mushrooms, roasted capsicum and pine nuts. IMG_2647 All together now… IMG_2661 And for dessert…. IMG_2634 Rich chocolate wheat-free brownies! Recipes for all the above to follow in the coming days 🙂 _____ Our bellies full after a long Italian lunch (where the only thing missing (for me) was a nice glass of red wine lol) we sat down to watch the Australia v Italy World Cup game. And, happily for us, we cheered the Wallabies on to victory! First game for Australia…. won! And impressively 🙂 Feeling inspired after the convincing win, I managed to overcome my IT issues and finish my remaining ‘hidden’ baby diary entries. So I am now up to date – well aside from this week’s entry lol! You can find links to Weeks 8 to 14 below, or a complete list under the “Baby” tab.

But now, its time for me to hit publish and reheat some GF cannelloni for dinner!!