Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pumpkin Muffins

I have been a little AWOL from the blogosphere with 2 sick kids. The littlest rascal in particular really had it tough - we ended up at Starship last night where she was diagnosed with the uncommon but not impossible combination of croup and pneumonia. Poor little girl! Both she and her sister have really nasty coughs which keep waking them up, and the past 3 nights we have had either one or both of the girls in bed with us which has meant a few sleepless nights for me and hubby! Although we have a super king size bed, it's amazing how small that can suddenly feel when you have a 6 foot tall man, 2 kids who really make themselves at home, and a cold uncomfortable mum clinging on to the edge of the bed for dear life, just trying to make it through the night without falling out!

In amongst the excitement though we have been trying out a couple of new recipes - weeks like this call for a little comfort baking, and a particularly yummy one was the pumpkin muffins we made yesterday. I had a couple of cans of pumpkin left over from Thanksgiving (yes, they've been in the pantry a while!) and decided it was time to do something with them. Of course you could use cooked mashed pumpkin instead as it's really a common ingredient to have in the pantry in the typical NZ household. If you would prefer to go down the road of tinned pumpkin, I got mine from Martha's Backyard, the american store in Mt Wellington. They sell a brand (can't remember the name of it) which is just 100% pumpkin, nothing added.

All mixed up and ready to go...
 Cooked!
Pretty little heart muffins - the kids love novelty muffin tins

Pumpkin Muffins 

(gluten-free, dairy-free)

Ingredients:

2 cups Gluten Free Self Raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut sugar or sugar alternative of your choice. You could use honey or date paste, but may have to modify the other ingredients to make up for the added moisture
1 egg
1/2 cup dairy free milk of your choice (we used almond)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup dark chocolate broken into chunks (this is totally optional, but very tasty for an added treat. I made some of the muffins with and some without the chocolate and the ones without were just as yummy for those who prefer a chocolate free option)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line muffin tins of your choice 
2. Combine flour, salt, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
3. Add egg, milk, oil, sultanas and pumpkin (you can combine these beforehand in another small bowl, or if you're lazy like me you can just put them in on top of the dry ingredients. 
4. Mix well to combine
5. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin tins
6. Cook for around 15 minutes if you have made small muffins, or 20 if you have made larger (you will just need to keep an eye on them - they are cooked when lightly golden and no longer sinking in the middle if you press on them).
7. Try and wait long enough for them to no longer burn your mouth before you dig in - those pockets of melted chocolate are really hot!! These muffins are really good still warm, but also delicious when cooled. I froze these for the kids to take to kindy in their lunch boxes (hence making some chocolate free ones for my youngest who doesn't like chocolate).


x

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Zucchini Brownie and Chicken Meatballs

Cracked it!! Made the brownie again, and this time it worked! Love it when that happens, and love playing around with the options to make it happen. Gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, can be free of refined sugar, and best of all it has hidden vegetables.



It looks as though we are in for a rough couple of days, so it's time to hunker down, drag the slow cooker out of the pantry and fill the house with those wonderful wintery smells of comfort food.

Tonight on the winter menu was chicken and bacon meatballs with cauliflower rice (regular rice for the kids - they love cauliflower, but not in rice form).


Very easy to make, and the meal is gluten free, dairy free, grain free (optional), nut free - pretty much just a gorgeous meat and vegetable meal. Served the meatballs on cauliflower rice, with a side of steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower and brussell sprouts (yes, the dreaded brussel sprout...they can be made tasty!) and a small green salad.

We finally found a lovely bacon available from the supermarket which is proper bacon, free of any nasty chemicals (nitrates, nitrites etc). It tastes great too! Thank you to Hendersons for your yummy hand made original dry cure bacon. 

No longer do we need to make a special trip to the Sunday morning market just to get decent bacon. I love that supermarkets are starting to make more and more real food available. The more this food makes its way onto the shelves, the more I hope that some of the big companies see what's happening and start to change their products to remove some of the chemicals and toxins they so happily pump into many food products.

Chicken and Bacon Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

Meatballs:
500g chicken mince
6 rashers of nitrate free bacon
1 carrot, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp thyme (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup coconut flour (or gluten free breadcrumbs if preferred - use about 1/2 a cup)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
half an onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1 tin of tomatoes 
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini sliced

Cauliflower Rice:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
juice of half a lime (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200C
2. in a large bowl combine all ingredients for the meatballs through to the salt and pepper. mix well to combine, then shape into balls of any size you like. 
3. Place balls into a baking dish in one layer. Once the meatballs are in, pour the tin of tomatoes over the meatballs, and top with the mushrooms and zucchini.
4. Cook for roughly 20-30 minutes (this will depend on the size of your meatballs) until the meatballs are cooked through, and the veges on top are softened. I usually take the baking tray out of the oven about 5 minutes before it's ready to come out and give it a good mix up just to get the veges into the sauce and to move the meatballs around for even cooking.

While the meatballs are cooking you can prepare the cauliflower rice and roasted vegetables. If you are cooking plain rice, now is the time to put it on.

To make the cauliflower rice:

1. Place the cauliflower florets into a food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed (do not overblend as you do not want to cream it). If you cannot blend it easily in one lot, do it in a couple of batches. It works better to have smaller lots in the food processor, and it works better if the florets are quite small. 
2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. 
3. Add onion and garlic and fry until softened. I was working too quickly and browned mine which really doesn't matter, but the end results is just more 'brown rice' than 'white rice'!!
4. Add the cauliflower and fry until softened ( a couple of minutes). If the cauliflower sticks to the pan you can add around 1/4 cup of water or stock to loosen it up. 
5. Add lime juice (optional), season with salt and pepper, and you are ready to serve.

To make roasted brussel sprouts: 

This recipe is the same as the recipe I have used in the past to make roasted cauliflower (can be used for any vegetables!). 
1. Prepare about 1 cup of brussel sprouts (take off outer leaves, cut into halves or quarters depending on size). 
2. In a large bowl mix together around 1/4 cup coconut oil, any herb or spice you like (or whatever compliments your meal - for example when I'm making an indian dish I will usually use something like Garam Masala to flavor). For today I used paprika. Add salt and pepper. 
3. Put brussel sprouts in the bowl, and stir to get an even coating of the oil mixture. Place on a baking tray in a single layer, and roast (use whatever temperature you already have your oven set to if you're using it, otherwise about 190C or 200C works well). 
4. Roast for around 15 minutes, but check often as some of the outer leaves may start o get pretty crispy. These can be removed as they are cooked and kept in a bowl until ready to serve. 

The loose leaves that cook before the rest are another dish that you have made all without even trying...brussel sprout chips - Yum!!

Serve the meatballs on the cauliflower rice, with the roasted vegetables, steamed greens and a side salad. You could use anything for vegetables. This is just what the kids eat - our vegetable sides are very strongly dictated by what the youngest members of the house will eat!

 The sides - green salad with lettuce, tomato, radish and yellow capsicum (avocado and cucumber are officially too expensive, saw an avocado in the greengrocer yesterday for $5.49!!!!!)

The other sides - roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower

 The cauliflower rice - ready to go
The finished meatballs - they're not pretty, but they are GOOD!!
Voila - dinner is served!

Brownie recipe to come - I will edit this post to add it shortly. The kids were a bit restless last night so didn't quite get finished, hence finishing this post at half 6 in the morning!

Time to get this brownie recipe written up - I've been talking it up and so far all talk and no action! A few pictures of the process:

 All the ingredients in the pan - ready to mix

 In the pan - time to bake

 Cooked - no sinking spoon here!

Mmmmmmm chocolatey goodness....

Chocolate Zucchini Brownie 

(Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut butter (directions below)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup honey
1 cup chocolate chips (divided in 2)
1.5 cups zucchini (about 2 zucchini depending on the size), grated and squeezed to remove some of the excess moisture
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C (170 fan bake). Grease and line with baking paper a square cake tin
2. In a small saucepan, melt honey, coconut butter and half a cup of the chocolate chips over a low heat until combined. (Please note, this mixture is incredibly delicious so please try and refrain from eating the whole lot before you get to finish the brownie. Alternatively, make double so you can make the brownie and still eat the coconut chocolate honey mix...have your cake and eat it too!!)
3. In a large bowl place the zucchini, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut flour, other half of the chocolate chips and egg. 
4. Add the melted chocolate mix to the bowl and mix all ingredients until well combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth down with a spatula.
6. Cook for around 20 minutes or until no longer soft in the middle.
7. Cool in the tin, then turn out carefully onto a cooling rack. Alternatively scoop out the brownie while it's still warm and serve as a warm gooey cake. This brownie is one of those rare ones that is better if made ahead of time. It helps it to set and it becomes more manageable. 

Coconut Butter


Note: Coconut butter is available from most specialty health food shops, but it is very easy to make, and so so much cheaper. Basically you just need a bag of desiccated coconut (I use Sunfood or Pams as they are 100% coconut with no preservatives). Pour about half the bag into a high power blender and blend until it is liquid (about 5-10 minutes). It should come out looking a little like this....














Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Sweet and Savoury Crepes

There are days when everything works out in the kitchen, and then there are those days that you just have to laugh and try again....today was one of those days!!

I found a recipe for a flourless zucchini brownie which sounded delicious. It used almond butter as one of the main ingredients though, and I was hoping to make a nut free version that I could keep in the freezer for the kids lunches (nut free policy at Montessori).

Realised this morning that the freezer stash was running low, so thought it was about time to stock up and a brownie that had the hidden goodness of zucchini seeemed the perfect idea. Anyway, I digress! Back to the kitchen dramas... In place of the almond butter I thought I might use just regular butter.

For those of you who know us, you will know that although we are dairy free due to pretty much all of us reacting to it in various ways, we do use real organic butter in place of any other form of butter type spread. This is a personal choice as we find that as long as we are only eating a small amount of butter it does not affect us, and there are just so many additives and other nasties in most other spreads that we would rather eat the real thing, or go without. In general in cooking I prefer to use coconut oil, but for some types of baking, it just really is 'better with a little butter'!!

Ok ok I am off topic again... what a muddled post!

So, back to the disastrous brownie. I whipped up the batch as per the instructions, but with the butter instead of the almond butter (not at all similar really in terms of how they affect a recipe, but thought it may work!).

I had my suspicions that without adding any form of flour it would be hard to make it work, but thought I'd give it a shot. Long story short, after 20 minutes in the oven, all I had was chocolate soup...DELICIOUS chocolate soup, but certainly not a brownie (a fork should NOT sink into a cooked brownie!!!)


  After tasting to see if it was worth trying to fix, then tasting it again, and a few more times (just to be sure!) I decided to try adding some coconut flour to see if that would work. So dumped a few spoonfuls into the molten mixture, gave it a mixup and threw it back in the oven for another 15 (at least the fork is sitting on top - a good sign!)



Pulled it out, still pretty soft, but after leaving it for a couple of hours it actually worked out ok! It was still very much more like a fudge than a brownie, but very very tasty. I am going to try it again this week and see if I can improve the recipe enough to actually put it in to print.


I'm thinking of experimenting with using coconut butter instead of butter, and adding a little more coconut flour. Watch this space to see the next installment in the brownie saga! I will be sure to give the options of gluten free, dairy free, grain free and refined-sugar free. The one I made today had some sugar in the chocolate and butter, but I will show all the options to make everyone happy :)

I guess after all of that it must be time to share a recipe that actually does work! How do gluten-free dairy-free delicious crepes sound?



I made these for the girls for lunch the other day and they worked really well. After watching The Food Truck (SO cool!) and seeing him make crepes I decided to look up the recipe, then tinkered with it to make it suitable. Thank you to Michael Van De Elzen for the inspiration.

Sweet and Savoury Crepes 

(Gluten-free, dairy-free, free of refined sugar)

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tbsp brown (or white) rice flour
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or rice milk)
coconut oil (to cook)

Directions:

Place sifted dry ingredients into a large bowl then, using a whisk, add eggs and milk and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. You can now either cook as per the instructions below if you just want a plain crepe, or split the mixture into 2 and add savoury and sweet elements to spice things up a little!


To make savoury, add:
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt and pepper

To make sweet, add:
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence

To make the crepes, using a small frying pan, heat a small amount of coconut oil (about 1 tsp). Add a enough crepe batter to cover the bottom of the pan and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook for another minute or so until cooked through. This batter does produce a very delicate batter, so flipping them may take a couple of goes to perfect. The first few that don't work out are perfect to use to make sure the flavour is right... very important to taste your food as you go ;)

To assemble, lay the crepe out on a plate, add the filling of your choice over one half, fold over, then fold again to form a triangle. We used a tuna filling in the savoury one, and sliced banana in the sweet, but the world is truly your oyster as far as fillings go. Use your imagination and put in anything you like.


x


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Coconut Lemon Macaroons and Pork Nachos with Coconut Coriander Sauce

The re-creation of leftovers...take what you have in the fridge from a meal 2 nights ago, add a few new ingredients, and Voila a new meal is born!

I have 2 new recipes for today. Finally cranked out a little sweet treat and remembered to take a photo before they all got eaten. Doesn't happen too often! Then for dinner we had mexican again (nachos!) inspired by what was left after Tuesday nights Fajitas. Always thought that nachos were pretty much off the menu being dairy free in particular (sour cream and cheese generally being a large part of nachos), but these ones were delicious! Hubby had a try and claimed he thought they were as good as the ones he had had at a local Mexican restaurant recently and he didn't even notice the lack of dairy products. Yay!

The macaroons were all gone in a very short time, as the kids thought they were


Coconut Macaroons - the nice version...

Coconut macaroons - the naughty version!

Gluten free, dairy free nachos - love the 'family style' plating where everyone shares from the plate. A novelty for the girls!


Coconut Lemon Macaroons 

(gluten free, dairy free, soy free, grain free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cups desiccated coconut
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp raw honey
2 tbsp coconut flour
Zest of half a lemon 
1/8 cup dark chocolate (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 150C 
2. In a clean bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form using an electric beater (or a whisk if you want a really good workout!)
3. Add vanilla and honey and continue to beat until well combined. 
4. Gently fold in coconut and coconut flour. Mix until just combined
5. Roll mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (I made out from this quantity)
6. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until a light golden color is achieved. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray. 
7. If you want to make them a little naughty, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cooled macaroons. 

Notes:

Pork Nachos with Coconut Coriander Sauce 

(gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, grain free)

Ingredients:

Nachos
1 tbsp coconut oil
500g pork mince (or mince of your choice)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
half a red capsicum, sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a cup of peas
1 cup vegetable stock (or stock of your choice)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chilli
salt and pepper to season

1 tomato diced
1/2 an avocado, diced
fresh coriander to garnish 

3 corn tortillas cut into triangles

Coconut coriander sauce

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp arrowroot/ tapioca starch
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp chilli sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a frying pan heat your oil over a medium heat and fry garlic briefly until you get the heavenly garlic smell. Also, preheat the oven (180C) to make your chips
2. Add pork mince and brown gently. If the pork sticks to the pan, add a little of the stock to deglaze the pan.
3. Add vegetables (capsicum, mushroom, peas) to the pork along with the ground coriander, ground cumin, tomato paste and chilli and cook until softened. 
4. Season to taste. Remove from heat. 
5. On a baking tray lined with baking paper, arrange the triangles of corn tortilla. You can spray them with a little oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt if you prefer a crispier chip
6. Bake for around 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and arrange them on a large plate.
7. While the chips are cooking, make the coconut sauce. Over a low heat, melt the coconut oil.
8. When just melted, add the arrowroot and whisk to combine. Add the coconut milk in a steady stream while continuing to whisk. The sauce may seem to seize (totally freaked me out when it went all gluggy!) but if you keep whisking vigorously you can get past this and it becomes a thick sauce. You may need to add more coconut milk if it is too thick.
9. Add in the fresh coriander, chilli sauce, cumin and coriander ad whisk to combine. Season to taste

Top the chips with the mince mixture, followed by the coconut sauce, then the tomato, avocado and coriander. Dig in!






















Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Kumara Topped Fish Pie

Great news - our heat pump that we bought from Christchurch has arrived in Auckland - hopefully it will be delivered tomorrow! We have one, but it stopped working (just in time for the cold weather...ironic!) so we have been keeping warm with those delightful energy sucking oil heaters. They  are an easy fix to a cold room, but soon the power bill will be here and we will be selling our souls to pay for it!

We have to keep warm though - amazing how things change when you have kids. Pre-kids we would just put on a million layers and carry on, but with the kids around we need to keep things warm - especially given their penchant for the nudie run at bath time!

Anyway, totally off topic for a blog about food. No post last night...my ear infection seemed to have realised it missed a side, so switched to the left. Bed was the only way to feel better! Dinner last night was pretty simple in keeping with how I was feeling. Baked whole potatoes with turkey mince, roasted beetroot and steamed vegetables. The mince was flavoured with Ras El Hamout which is a gorgeous middle eastern inspired spice mix. 

Tonight we feasted on fish, winter warmer style. Yup, it was fish pie - the gluten free, dairy free, grain free, soy free version. I have used this recipe a few times now and I think I almost prefer it to a classic fish pie. I came up with it after struggling to find a good recipe that ticked all of the boxes for us. I've played around with a few of the ingredients, and I think this recipe is pretty good. Still creamy, fishy, and moreish, but jam packed full of goodness. 

 All mixed up and in the baking dish

 Final touches before the topping

 Kumara mash to top, and into the oven

 The final product - hot, steamy, creamy juicy fish pie...mmmmmmm!

 Not the most attractive thing to serve on a plate - have to work on plating skills!

The full meal - pie, roasted broccoli and zucchini, salad

Kumara Topped Fish Pie:


Ingredients:


Pie Filling:
500g White fish (smoked or plain) cut into bite size chunks
400g Prawns (optional) peeled, tails off
100g Salmon (optional) cut into bite size chunks
3 tbsp Coconut oil
1.5 cups Coconut milk
3 tbsp Tapioca flour (arrowroot) to thicken sauce
Salt and pepper
½ tsp Wholegrain mustard (or mustard powder)
1 cup Vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 Onion
1 cup Peas
2 Carrots (diced)
2 sticks Celery (cut into 1cm slices)
2 Tomatoes (whole, fresh - sliced into wedges)
3 Boiled eggs (each cut into 4 wedges)

Topping:
2 large Kumara (or pumpkin or potato if desired), boiled or steamed until soft
1/4 cup Coconut or Almond milk
1 tbsp Coconut oil (or butter if preferred)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp nutmeg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. In a large pan, heat the coconut oil over a low heat. 
3. Once melted, add the arrowroot and mix well. 
4. Add the coconut milk slowly, whisking as you go to get rid of any lumps. It seems to work better to do this with the pan off the heat, just so the heat doesn't make things happen too quickly.
5. With the pan on the heat add the stock, mustard and parsley and continue to whisk until a thick creamy sauce is achieved. 
6. At this point add the onions, carrots, celery, lemon zest, lemon juice. Allow to cook for a few minutes until vegetables start to just soften. If the mixture becomes too thick add some more stock or coconut cream depending on what you have on hand, or even a little water if that's most convenient.
7. Add the white fish, salmon and prawns and peas. Cook for a couple of minutes to combine. It doesn't matter if the fish isn't cooked through yet, as this will happen in the oven. Season to taste.
8. Pour mixture into a large ovenproof baking dish
9. On top of the filling mix, arrange the tomato and egg however you like. 
10. Once the filling is ready, quickly mash the kumara up with the milk, oil and nutmeg. Season to taste
11. Spread kumara mash evenly over the fish mixture
12. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden. 
13. Serve with steamed green vegetables and salad.

Notes:

  • You can play around with the types of fillings you use, as always - you're the boss! For a super easy meal, just use white fish and a some frozen vegetables. Alternatively go all out with a seafood fiesta - prawns, salmon, scallops, mussels...so many options!
  • I was in a rush (what's new!) to get this in the oven, so I just threw the mash on and chucked it in the oven. If I was going to make it a little more beautiful, I would add a row of sliced tomato or sprinkle some (gluten-free) breadcrumbs mixed with herbs over the top to help it to crisp up and look a little less orange. If you are not concerned about dairy, a sprinkling of parmesan or some grated cheese would also be good


x








Monday, 10 June 2013

Chicken Fajitas

Feeling heaps better today - thank goodness! It was such a gorgeous day that it was hard to not feel better...a little sunshine makes the world a better place.

We decided that with all the bugs we have all had it would be a good opportunity to have a day at home and just get a few things done around the house. Mission on! The decision was made to attack the spare bedroom - you know the one, the room that everyone has where everything gets put 'just quickly until we find a better place for it'...well we had so many of those things we had quickly thrown in the room that it had come to the point where we could barely step in the door. Time for some serious work!

After all of that hard graft it was time for an easy dinner, so tonights meal was a quick little mexican number. A chicken fajita type of thing, made with a corn tortilla, cashew cream, fresh avocado, lettuce and tomato, topped with coriander and a side of lime. Easy to make, tasty to eat, and not many dishes... the perfect meal!


Chicken 'Fajitas'


Ingredients: (All quantities are rough guidlines, and can be adjusted to taste)

Chicken Fajita mix:
1 tbsp coconut oil
600g chicken (I used tenderloins, but any chicken meat will do)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 can organic black beans
1/2 of 1 large red capsicum
8 button mushrooms
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp coriander (fresh or dried)
1 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
1/4 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper

Toppings:
1 cup chopped lettuce leaves
1 large tomato chopped into chunks
1 avocado, chopped into chunks
a generous handful of fresh coriander
1 limes, quartered

1 pack of corn tortillas (or cauliflower tortillas, regular tortillas, large lettuce leaves depending on your dietary choices)

Cashew Cream: (recipe adapted from Dr Libby Weaver - The Real Food Chef)
1 cup raw cashew nuts
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over a medium/high heat. 
2. Add chicken and cook until just brown. 
3. Add onions, garlic, capsicum and mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add beans, tomato paste, coriander, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, chilli and oregano
5. Cook until chicken is done, and vegetable are softened. Season to taste
6. While chicken mixture is cooking, make the cashew cream. In a blender, combine all ingredients and process until a smooth paste is formed. This is essentially a replacement for cheese which is so often used in mexican cooking, so you want it to add some moisture and not be too dry). 
7. Heat tortillas according to directions on the pan
8. To construct these tasty delights, layer them up. On the plate goes the tortilla, then a generous dollop of the cashew cream spread across the middle of the tortilla. On top of this goes a large spoonful of the chicken mixture, then the lettuce, tomato, avocado and finally the coriander. 
9. Serve with chunks of lime on the side of the plate to add as you wish.

Recipe serves 4 adults



x




Sunday, 9 June 2013

Red Pineapple Curry with Pork

Yuck! I have well and truly caught the bug that the girls had - voice is all but gone, chest is tighter than a tight thing, have lost the hearing in one ear and it's throbbing horribly, and my nose just won't stop streaming! It's one of those horrible cough/cold combos where every time you talk your throat catches and you cough. For someone who talks as much as I do it is not ideal!! Grrrr!!

To try and combat it, I made a nice spicy red curry for dinner which went down very well. The kids love the fresh pineapple in it, and the bamboo shoots are always very popular (Panda food!). We got so excited about eating it that I forgot to take a photo...will just have to make it again soon. I will post the recipe though, it's so simple and so easy to play around with.

Red Pineapple Curry with Pork


Ingredients:

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
2 Tbsp red curry paste
500g trim pork, cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion, sliced
1 eggplant, diced into 2cm cubes
2 cups of pumpkin, skin off and chopped into roughly 1cm x 3cm sticks
2 zucchini, sliced
1 can bamboo shoots
1/2 a fresh pineapple, skin and core removed, and chopped into 2cm chunks
1 cup chicken stock or water (or stock of your choice)
1 large or 2 small tins of coconut milk or coconut cream
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Juice of half a lime (or lemon)
Fresh coriander to garnish

Directions:

1. In a large pan heat oil on medium heat. Add curry paste and cook until aromas are released (be warned this creates spicy fumes in the kitchen that may induce sneezing or coughing!).
2. When curry paste is cooked off (should be only a minute or 2) add onion, pumpkin and eggplant along with about half of the stock or water just to stop the curry paste from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Put the lid on the pot and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the pumpkin and eggplant have started to soften.
3. Add the pork and cook until pieces are no longer pink on the outside.
4. Add the zucchini, bamboo shoots, pineapple, rest of the stock or water, and the coconut milk or cream.
5. Simmer until pork is cooked through and flavours are well developed (about 5 minutes)
6. Stir through the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste the curry and if adjust quantities accordingly (Not salty enough, add fish sauce. Not sour enough, add lime; not sweet enough, add a little bit of sweetener of your choice). If the curry is too spicy you can add more coconut milk until it brings the heat down, or if it's not spicy enough you can add some more curry paste. Play around with it until the flavour is perfect for you.
7. Remove from the heat and serve in a big bowl over steamed rice (or accompaniment of your choice). Garnish with coriander.

Notes:
  • This dish can be made with any protein you like. I usually make it with chicken, but tonight we had pork in the fridge, so pork it was. 
  • You can use tinned pineapple instead of fresh if that's what you have in the cupboard. You can add some of the juice from the tin in at the end as a sweetener if the curry needs more sweetness. Personally I prefer mine more on the salty/spicy/sour end of things, with less of the sweetness so I would leave it out. 
  • Red curry paste is readily available from your local supermarket, however do try to look for one that has little or no additives, preservatives or unnecessary extras. If you are very clever you could make your own - not hard, it just requires a few more ingredients.
  • Likewise with coconut milk...there are many options readily available in the supermarket but they are not all created equal. I use the Ayam brand as it is just pure coconut milk or cream with no preservatives added. The cans are smaller, so you may need 2 cans for the recipe, but it is worth it for the flavour and health benefits. 
  • The vegetables I have used are a guide only. It is a delicious combination, but the great thing about a dish like curry is that it is so adaptable. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. 


x





Friday, 7 June 2013

Green Soup with Broccoli Croutons

Another big bowl of green soup for dinner tonight - if that doesn't deal to this cold nothing will!! (see recipe below)

The kids ended up having the old fallback dinner of buckwheat (ridiculous name for something with no wheat in it!) pasta, tinned tuna, minted peas and oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower. They cannot get enough of the stuff, and it makes a nice change from plain old steamed. Cook the pasta, mix in the tuna and peas (still frozen - the pasta thaws them a little, but my kids prefer them still mostly frozen...odd children!) and serve with a big side of cauliflower and broccoli. Easy, nutritious and yummy. The whole meal took about 10 minuted to prepare, and including cooking time was on the table in around 20.

The broccoli and cauliflower require little more than chopping off a few florets, drizzle with coconut oil and spices of your choice (used turmeric and paprika tonight) then cook for around 10 mins.

The green soup came about as a result of wanting to make some soup combined with wanting to use up some seriously dodgy looking veges in the 'other' fridge.

We have 2 fridges, and the main one in the kitchen has all the stuff we use every day - veges, leftovers, milk (almond or rice), sauces...that sort of thing. The one in the laundry is the beer fridge which, much to my husbands disgust, has very little beer and a lot of other stuff like meat, veges, and just the general overflow from the things I can't or won't have in the main fridge. This is also the fridge where vegetables go to die!! Often times I will see veges such as leek or celery at the supermarket and have grand plans for them, but then they are too big for the main fridge so I put them in the backup fridge. Pretty much as soon as they go in there they are forgotten about until one day I check the vege draw and realise there are some lonely, limp looking little specimens that need dealing to pronto. I HATE to waste food, so the only way I can come up with to use these is soup...

So here it is -



Green Soup with Broccoli Croutons 

(gluten free, dairy free, grain free, vegan optional)

Ingredients:

Soup:

1 tbsp coconut oil (or whichever oil you prefer to cook with)
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 medium leek, finely sliced and washed
1 cup peas (I used plain, but minted would be great too)
1/2 cup fresh herbs - optional (whatever you have in the garden or fridge - I used basil and coriander)
1/2 head of celery, chopped into 1-2cm lengths
2 large handfuls of baby spinach (or regular spinach, silverbeet, kale - anything green and leafy)
2 cups stock (I used vegetable but you could use any stock you have on hand or have a preference for)
1 cup water
juice of one lemon or lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Croutons:

1 head broccoli cut into small florets
1 spring onion finely sliced
1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil if you don't like the sesame oil taste)
1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat then add the garlic, onion and leek. Cook until softened (approx 5 minutes). If it catches on the bottom of the pan, add a little stock or water.
2. Add celery, peas, stock and water and simmer for around 15 minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
3. Add roughly chopped herbs and simmer for another couple of minutes until wilted
4. Remove from heat and add seasoning and lemon juice
5. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency - less if you prefer a few chunks, or go all out if you prefer a smooth blend.

6. While the soup is simmering you can be preparing the broccoli croutons. In a pot bring some water to the boil. Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes until just cooked and still green. In the last few seconds of cooking, add the spring onions just long enough for them to wilt, or you can leave them out of the cooking and just throw them on top of the soup raw. Once the broccoli is cooked drain the water and run under cold water for a couple of minutes to stop the cooking. drizzle with oil and salt.
7. Serve soup in a bowl topped with broccoli and spring onions. If you prefer something a little more creamy, you could add a swirl of coconut milk or cream.

The great thing about this soup is that is so versatile. I used the vegetables that I had in the fridge, but you could add anything (preferably green in keeping with the theme of the soup!). Zucchini would be great in here, kale, silverbeet, lots of different herbs. Play around with the flavours and quantities until you find the combination that works best for you! If you would like to make this a meal and put a protein element into the dish you could add chicken, chickpeas or beans to make it more complete.

Here's to a hearty, healthy winter meal!


x





Thursday, 6 June 2013

Yay! I'm so excited! I have been working on getting this blog linked to a website name that was more relevant to the name of the blog and it has finally happened. After a frustrating time trying to be clever and link the websites myself by going WAY to far into the depths of web programming than I will ever be interested in being, and then waiting for some tech support people to get back to me to fix the errors of my ways, it has been a long haul for a relatively simple procedure. But I'm there!

So now onwards and upwards and I can get back into posting recipes for you all to enjoy. I have been taking pics, and stashing a few ideas away so that I can do a bit of a blitz now that things are running smoothly.

It has been a manic month of celebrations, and this month it just keeps on coming, so I apologise if the next few posts contain nothing but treats and cakes!! Feels as though that's all that we've been eating around here...but we've managed to keep relatively on track with eating good food, although chocolate consumption is at an all time high!!

We are currently all at home with every heater I can find set on high trying to keep warm while we all cough and splutter all over the place. Kaylah was the first to go down, then Mia, and my body finally caved yesterday - so far hubby is resistant to the bugs, but no doubt when he caves we will have a serious case of man flu on our hands. These poor men really have it tough getting such bad doses of all of the bugs that go around! :P All week I have been sucking back on Vitamin C like it's going out of fashion, and my body put up a really good fight, but hanging out with 2 sniffly little rascals is enough to test even the greatest immune system!

To try and get past this bug as quickly as possible I made a big pot of green soup with lots of garlic - so simple to make, and very yummy. Keep an eye out for this recipe and a few more of the tasty bits and pieces we have been trying out.

Right now, I am about to go and wrap my hands around a warm cup of tea and consider what to make the kids for dinner - not feeling very inspired tonight!!