Roast Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Soup

A cold Winter’s day call for a nice bowl of warm, filling and nourishing soup, and with Cauliflower in season, what better soup to make than a Roast Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Soup.

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I do already have a Creamy Bacon and Cauliflower Soup on my blog, which is very popular, and super delicious, but if you are looking for a wholesome meat free cauliflower soup, then this is the one for you. The addition of the cannellini beans adds a quality source of plant based protein, helping to increase satiety and assist with muscle repair and growth, as well as being a rich soluble fibre source. Legumes, pulses and beans are often a forgotten group of foods, especially for meat eaters, which is a shame as they are a nutritional powerhouse. I am trying to include these into my cooking and our meals on a more regular basis.

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Cauliflower is a vegetable which belongs to the brassica family, the same family as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage. It is very low in calories and a good source of fibre, which is important for digestive health, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system and improve heart health. By roasting the cauliflower prior to making this soup, enhances the flavour of the cauliflower and provides a deep caramelised flavour, which pairs really well with the parmesan cheese that is added at the end.

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We have had this batch of cauliflower soup with some Pumpkin, Cheese and Rosemary Scones, a Not Quite Nigella recipe, which is linked here. These scones are light, fluffy and oh so flavoursome – definitely worth a try. If you’re not into scones, a nice crusty piece of bread with some butter works nicely, or even the soup on it’s own makes a great meal.

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The kids ate some of this soup. I wouldn’t say they loved it, but they ate it (except Elise, who threw her bowl on the floor…she is only 17 months, so I won’t take it to heart)! Despite this, I will continue to make soups like this and keep offering to the kids, and one day (hopefully) they will really enjoy them, and ask for a second bowl. Persistence and food exposure is key when it comes to kids.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 tin cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets into a bowl, drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil and place onto the baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, add remaining olive oil and onion and cook, stirring regularly for 6-7 minutes or until soft, translucent and golden brown. Add garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the roasted cauliflower, broccoli florets, stock, cannelini beans, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Allow to cool slightly.
  5. Using a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth. Add the cheese, milk, nutmeg and lemon juice and blend until incorporated.
  6. Serve topped with some fresh chives.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

With the weather starting to cool down again, I have pulled the slow cooker out for some wholesome, hearty meals that require very little preparation.

I have only had a slow cooker for a few years and I really don’t know what I did before it.  I particularly find it very useful for the days that I am working, as I can get everything ready that morning or the night before and then turn it on before I go to work, then when we return home, not only does the house smell amazing, but dinner it ready – just like going to a restaurant, right!!??! 🙂 On the days that I work, I finish between 5-5:30pm, and by the time I pick the kids up from childcare and after school care, we don’t get home until around 6pm, and we like to have the kids in bed at 7pm, which leaves little time for meal prepping.

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Once I got home, I added the cannellini beans to the Moroccan Vegetable Stew while the kettle was boiling for the cous cous. Once the kettle boiled I cooked the cous cous, and while this was cooking, served up the stew (in which time the cous cous was pretty much done), topped with yoghurt, preserved lemon and coriander, so we were eating around 6:05pm. Win!

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The kids enjoyed this, which was great as it had a variety of vegetables and beans/legumes for a protein source. If you wanted you could definitely add some chicken or lamb to this at the start if you wanted it to be a meat containing meal.

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If you didn’t want to serve this with the cous cous, you could leave it out and have it as a soupy stew or with some fresh crusty bread to mop up the juice.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 300g pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • Cous cous, to serve
  • Natural yoghurt, to serve
  • Preserved lemon, finely chopped or squeeze of lemon juice, to serve
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cinnamon, saffron, harrisa and turmeric and mix to combine.
  2. Into the slow cooker, place the onion, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, pumpkin, chickpeas, spices, honey, stock and tomatoes. Mix gently to combine, place the lid on the slow cooker and set to low and cook for 8 hours.
  3. When ready to serve, add the cannellini beans and spinach and mix to combine, allowing to cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the cous cous into a bowl, allowing ~1/3 cup of uncooked cous cous per person, and cover with equal amounts boiling water. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Divide cous cous between bowls, top with the stew and serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt, lemon and coriander leaves.

Pesto

Pesto is a super easy way to add some serious flavour to a whole variety of dishes.

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In my first trip overseas as an adult, I went to Italy and stayed in a little town on the Cinque Terre coast…take me back! While I was there, I did a cooking course, which involved making pesto, Italian style. All the participants made their own version of pesto, using the same 6 ingredients, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and salt, just adding our own quantity of each ingredient. We then tried everyones pesto, and they were all so different, it was incredible. I have no idea what the quantities of my pesto back then were, but this recipe outlines the quantities I use now.

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I like to use pesto as a dip, to mix through pasta, vegetables or risotto or even to make scrambled eggs more delicious (see recipe below). One of my favourite dishes to use pesto in is my Roast Tomato and Pesto Risotto, a lighter risotto that is great for warmer nights.

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Nutritionally, the pine nuts in pesto provide a good source of protein and healthy fats. The olive oil is also and excellent source of healthy fats. Garlic is from the allium family and has a great deal of health benefits and can help boost the immune system, decrease blood pressure and it is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium. The basil itself, which makes up the majority of the pesto, and actually belongs to the same family as mint. It is a potent antibacterial that contains antioxidants, including polyphenols flavonoids and anthocyanin. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties.

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Pesto, is something you can make and store in the fridge. It will keep well, provided it isn’t exposed to the air. Covering the exposed pesto with a layer of olive oil will keep it fresh.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large handfuls of basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (toasting optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Begin by toasting the pine nuts in a small frypan over medium heat, until they are golden brown. This step isn’t necessary, but it gives the pesto a deeper flavour if you do toast them. Allow them to cool completely.
  2. Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan into the food processor, process for~1 minute. With the motor running, add the olive oil and process until smooth.
  3. Set aside until needed.

 

Pesto Scrambled Eggs:

  1. To make the pesto scrambled eggs, combine 1-2 eggs per person into a small bowl, along with 1 tsp of cream per person, 2 tsp of pesto, salt and pepper. Beat well to combine.
  2. Heat a small non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbs of olive oil and gently pour the egg mix into the frypan. Gently move the eggs around the pan with a spatula, until just cooked and glossy.
  3. Once the mixture is glossy, turn off the heat and serve the eggs.

 

Apple, Blueberry & Coconut Muffins

This is the first time I’ve posted on here in a while. It’s been a busy start to the year and to Mark’s schooling life, and I’m in the very early stages of starting to write my cookbook, so wanting to keep some recipes for that.

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Anyway, here’s another muffin recipe, mainly because you can’t have too many different flavoured muffins.

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When making muffins, I like to make sure they are high in fibre to help with digestion, contain some protein to increase satiety, and some fruit for a good source of vitamins and minerals. I baked these muffins today with the intent to freeze them, ready for school lunches next week….4 are already gone. The rest are in the freezer, so hopefully they last!

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These muffins are made with wholemeal flour and rolled oats, providing the kids (and adults) with and excellent source of low GI carbohydrate and fibre. I had some leftover coconut cream from making butter chicken the night before, apples in the fruit bowl, as well as frozen blueberries in the freezer, which is how these muffins came about.

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The final product was a delicious, fruit filled, moist, nutrition packed muffin, which took about 10 minutes to prepare and about 15 minutes to bake. They are a great option for snacks, kids lunchboxes, work lunches, even as a breakfast muffin.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Makes 18 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 135g butter, melted
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 apple, skin on, diced
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare muffin tray.
  2. Place flour, oats, toasted coconut, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Place eggs, coconut cream, cooled butter and vanilla into a bowl and lightly mix to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  5. Chop the apple and mix into the batter until evenly distributed. Add blueberries and gently mix to combine, without over mixing.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared tin, allocating about 1/3-1/2 cup per muffin.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool completely then store in an airtight container for 4-5 days, or freeze.

Easy Summer Salad

A salad with some BBQ’d meat is one of the quickest and easiest meals you can have.

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Yesterday, we had some great friends over for an easy BBQ dinner and I threw this salad together. A salad doesn’t need to follow a recipe, and can use literally whatever ingredients you have in the fridge. There are just a few key things that take a salad from good to amazing:

  1. A combination of cooked and raw vegetables. This gives the salad an extra dimension. Common veggies that I will include in a salad are roast pumpkin, blanched broccoli or beans and grilled zucchini.
  2. Some crunch, and I’m talking more than just the crunch of carrot or lettuce – some form of nut or seed, preferably toasted works really well.
  3. Fruit. Some people will disagree with putting fruit in a salad, but I love the sweet pops that you get in a salad that has fruit. Apple, pear, pomegranate, stone fruit and mango all work really well.
  4. A well balanced dressing. Think sweet, salt, acid. The dressing is what brings the whole salad together and while many people believe that salad dressings are unhealthy, that is often not the case, and when made from scratch they can be a great way to add some essential fats to the salad in the form of quality oils.
  5. Protein. This can be some form of cheese, legume, nut or seed, or if you’re looking for a more substantial salad, a meat, chicken or fish.

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Before making this salad, I knew I was going to use lettuce, some of the tomatoes from our garden, roast pumpkin and feta. As a started putting it together, all the other ingredients were just what was in the fridge, and in the end it came together to be quite the delicious salad.

When making your next salad, don’t over complicate it, use what you have on hand and follow my five tips above (or this recipe) and you’ll take your salads to the next level.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6 as a side

  • 250g pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes, roasted
  • 1 tbs EVOO
  • 4 large handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
  • 1 large handful of rocket leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 12 green beans, blanched and cut in half
  • 1/2 an avocado, cut into cubes
  • 50g feta cheese
  • Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped

Dressing:

  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • Leaves of 2 thyme sprigs
  • Handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the chopped pumpkin into a small bowl, add olive oil and mix to coat. Place onto the tray and cook for ~35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  2. Top and tail the beans and place into a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Run under cold water to refresh, cut beans in half.
  3. Make the dressing by placing all ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine. Set aside.
  4. Place lettuce leaves and rocket into a large bowl. Top with chopped tomato, pumpkin, beans, avocado. Just before serving, dress salad and gently toss to combine. Top with pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and toasted almonds.
  5. Enjoy.

Honey Mustard & Rosemary Roasted Carrots

We have a lot of carrots growing in our garden this Summer, so they have made a very regular appearance on our plates, and as a result we have excellent night vision!! 😉

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Do carrots actually help us see in the dark? Not directly, but Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a progressive eye disease called xerophthalmia, that can damage normal vision, leading to night blindness. So, by eating your carrots, you’re less likely to become vitamin A deficient, and less likely to have reduced ability to see in low light.

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Tonight, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and make a modern take on the good old honeyed carrots. When I was thinking up this dish, I knew I wanted honey, but was tossing up between honey-rosemary or honey-mustard, so rather than choosing, I thought I’d give the honey-mustard-rosemary combination a go, and it worked really well. If you don’t have baby carrots, you can use normal carrots, just cut them into thick sticks.

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Carrots are a very versatile vegetable that can be readily eaten as they are raw, with a dip, roasted, in a casserole or muffin, in a salad or as part of a juice. They are a great source of fibre and contain beta carotene, which is absorbed and converted to vitamin A. They also contain the antioxidants, carotenoids, which reduce free radicals in the body, providing a protective effect against cancer.

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The kids really enjoyed these carrots, most likely because they are sweeter than the normal carrot, but I’m ok with that. I’m lucky that our kids happily eat raw and cooked veggies without too many sauces or dressings, however, if I had a fussy eater, I would be tossing carrots in honey regularly if it meant they would eat them!

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These are a great accompaniment to a meat or fish dish or even to go with a BBQ.

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Serves 4 as a side

  • 12 baby carrots, leaves trimmed and washed
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs honey, slightly heated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper

Dressing:

  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbs rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Wash and scrub the carrots and place into a large bowl. Add in the oil, rosemary, honey, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread out onto prepared baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes or until carrots start to caramelise.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by placing all ingredients into a small bowl and mix well until combined.
  5. Once the carrots are cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly for ~5 minutes. Place into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Gently toss to combine.
  6. Place onto serving plate and drizzle remaining dressing over the top if desired.

Peach and Blackberry Muffins

We love muffins in this household, and with an array of amazing Summer fruits currently available, it makes the flavours of our muffins new and exciting!

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I bought a whole heap of peaches this week, as they are cheap as chips, with the intention of stewing them. Aaron then took Brian for a walk the other night, and came home with a bucket full of blackberries, from the wild blackberry bushes that we have growing in the reserve not too far from our house, and so these muffins were born.

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Elise, who is now one, is an absolute animal when it comes to eating. She will often eat more that Claire in a day, so I wanted to make these muffins suitable for her, yet still delicious for the rest of the family, so I have kept the sugar to a minimum, but added more blackberries than I might have otherwise.

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The first batch of these I made with the intention of sending the to school with Mark during his first week, but they disappeared within a few days. Luckily, we still had peaches and Aaron picked some more blackberries so I could make some more and perfect the recipe. I have kept this second batch in the freezer and they freeze/defrost really well.

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If blackberries weren’t readily available, fresh or frozen raspberries would work really well. The original muffins I was planning were peach and raspberry until the blackberries appeared on my kitchen bench.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

Makes 15 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 75g coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 peaches, 1 diced, 1 sliced for on top of the muffins

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare muffin tin.
  2. Place flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb soda, brown sugar and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Melt the butter and coconut oil in the microwave or in a saucepan and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Place the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, milk and lemon juice into a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
  5. Add the egg mix to the dry ingredients and mix, then add the melted butter and oil and mix well.
  6. Gently fold in the diced peach and blackberries.
  7. Spoon into prepared muffin tin, top each muffin with a slice of peach, and bake for 15 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing muffins from the tin.