Rice Paper Rolls

Rice paper rolls are a fantastic little bundle of flavour! They are a Vietnamese dish, which are so light, fresh and nutritious. The only negative is the time consuming nature that is rolling individual rolls, especially when making them for more than one. I used to make these every one or two weeks, but since having kids this is the first time we’ve had them. The kids enjoyed them a lot, but theirs did fall apart.

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These rice paper rolls have been made with shredded chicken, but pork or chicken mince works well as does prawns, and they can also be made vegetarian. I also will sometimes include the peanut dipping sauce into the actual roll itself, for a greater spread of flavour, and other times use it as a dipping sauce.

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There is an art to soaking the rice paper and successfully removing it from the water without it sticking to itself. This is something Aaron has always struggled with – this and getting the amount of filling right so that the rice paper doesn’t break :). The key, I have found, is to use hot, not boiling water, so that the rice paper slowly softens and you can handle it in the water without burning yourself. Less is more when it comes to the filling of the rice paper rolls. Too much filling and the rice paper will definitely tear, leaving quite a mess.

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As far as portion goes, for dinner, I will usually have 3-4, Aaron will generally have one more than me, and the kids had 1.5-2 each. If you wanted to reduce the carbohydrate content, you could omit or minimise the vermicelli noodles and pack it out with the salad  and add a bit more of the chicken.

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If you’ve never tried rice paper rolls, please try these – you will not be disappointed!

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Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 1 chicken breast fillet
  • Rice paper rounds
  • 1 small packet rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium red capsicum, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 long red chilli (optional)

Cucumber and chilli salsa

  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs lime juice

Peanut dipping sauce

  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat a medium frypan over medium heat, add ~1tbs olive oil and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Set aside, and once slightly cooled, shred the chicken.
  2. To make the salad, place the bean sprouts, mint leaves, coriander leaves, chilli, sesame seeds into a large bowl and toss to combine.
  3. To make the salsa, place cucumber, chilli, fish sauce, brown sugar and lime juice into a small bowl and stir to combine.
  4. To make the peanut sauce, place sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice into a bowl. Mix to combine. Add the chopped peanuts and stir to combine.
  5. Prepare carrot and capsicum.
  6. Place vermicelli noodles into a medium sized bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit for 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft. Set aside.
  7. To assemble the rice paper rolls, fill a large bowl with hot water. Place rice paper rounds, one at a time, into the water until soft. Remove, using two hands to keep it flat and place onto a plate. Place a small amount of noodles, salad, salsa, a couple of sticks of carrot and capsicum and peanut sauce (if desired) into the centre of the rice paper, being careful not to over fill.
  8. To fold the rice paper roll, fold the side closest to you over the filling, followed by the left hand side then the right hand side and roll away from you. Repeat with remaining rice paper rounds.

 

 

Tuna, Lemon and Dill Fritters

I have been making these fritters for about 6 months now, but for some reason, have not yet posted about them. They came about around September last year when I wanted to make some lunch using tuna. I threw a few other bits and pieces in, cooked them in the pan and we had some fritters, and they were delicious! The only downside is that Aaron doesn’t like tuna, so I don’t make them as often as I’d like to.

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If you haven’t yet realised, I am a little obsessed with fritters at the moment, and here are some reasons why:

  1. They are a great way to get some extra veggies in.
  2. They’re an excellent alternative to a sandwich at lunch
  3. They are suitable for all meals of the day
  4. They also make a great snack
  5. They freeze very well, so can be popped into lunch boxes
  6. They are pretty quick and easy to make
  7. The kids LOVE them

The final point is the most important and also the reason why I am making so many of them at the moment. I figure that while the kids are enjoying them, I’ll keep making them at least once a week because I also enjoy them and if the exposure is regular then they will keep liking them…hopefully!

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Adding tuna to fritters means that they are higher in protein, which helps to fill everyone up. It also provides and excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA (good fats), which deliver many health benefits, such as improved cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced levels of depression and improved brain health. Oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines and cod, should be consumed at least 3 times per week to ensure that you receive adequate amounts of these good fats.

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Which tuna should you use? This is completely up to you. My preferred tinned tuna is the Sirena tuna in oil. I like it because it doesn’t taste too fishy and I prefer the plain tunas over the flavoured ones.

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If you haven’t yet tried one of my fritters recipes, I strongly suggest this one, you won’t be disappointed. The dill and lemon zest really make it as well.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  •  185g tin of tuna
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cob of corn
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped dill
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

  1. Grate the zucchini and squeeze excess liquid out. Place into medium sized bowl.
  2. Remove the corn kernels from the cob of corn and add to the bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  4. Heat and medium sized non stick frypan over medium heat. Place heaped tablespoons of mixture into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Continue with remaining mixture.
  5. To make the sauce, mix the yoghurt, 1/2 tsp of dill and lemon juice together.
  6. Serve fritters with the yoghurt sauce and salad, if desired.

Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters

The inspiration for this meal was literally too many sweet potatoes in the fridge and lots of corn that needed to be eaten, growing in the garden.

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Fritters are such a versatile food. They are quick and easy to make and they make a great breakfast, lunch, snack and even dinner. They are a great way to get in a good dose of vegetables and can be topped with a poached egg or bacon or tuna to add a quality source of protein to make a meal. Consider popping some of these fritters in kids lunch boxes as well, they are still quite delicious when cold.

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I have made these particular fritters twice in the past few weeks and the kids have really enjoyed them, which makes me really happy as fritters have been hit and miss in the past. Today Mark said to me “Mum, I love your fritters so much. I want you to make them for lunch everyday”…high fives for me!

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A lot of people aren’t so keen on sweet potato and would rather stick with pumpkin and potato, however, sweet potato has a lot of health benefits. It is a low GI carbohydrate, meaning it won’t spike blood sugar levels like regular potato will, making them suitable for individuals with Diabetes. Sweet potato is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fibre. So, if you aren’t a fan of sweet potato, I recommend that you try it again, starting with these fritters.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 400g sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 corn cob, kernels removed
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 2 tbs coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup SR flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1-2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

Method:

  1. Place the sweet potato into a steamer basket and cook until tender. Mash and set aside to cool.
  2. Place sweet potato, zucchini, corn, onion, coriander, egg, flour and milk into medium sized bowl and mix well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix well.
  3. Heat a non stick frypan over medium heat. Place heaped spoonfuls of mixture into the frypan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  4. To make the sauce, mix natural yoghurt and sweet chilli sauce together.
  5. Serve fritters as they are, with salad or poached egg and bacon.

Fritters will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or will freeze well for up to 6 weeks.

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Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is one of the favourites in this house – guaranteed to be in the top 3 if I ask the kids what they want for dinner.

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Pizza does not have to be an unhealthy option and seeing as the kids love it, I always top them with lots of grilled veggies. For the pizza dough, I use is this simple taste recipe, which makes 4 bases. We use 2 and then wrap the other 2 (as a ball) in glad wrap and freeze for next time.

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Depending on what meat we have available will determine what goes on the pizza – usually one ham and one salami or chicken or fish if we have any leftover. I always put some caramelised onion on the pizzas, except when I caramelise the onion and it sits on the stove and I forget about it when I am assembling the pizza, in which case it gets left off as I inevitably find it after we’ve finished dinner – this happens far too often!

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Our pizzas are always cooked on a pizza stone in the weber. If you don’t have a pizza stone, I highly recommend getting one, you will never go back to cooking pizza without one.

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The ingredients on these pizzas are what we regularly have, but really any meat, cheese or vegetable you like can go on a pizza. If you haven’t tried topping a pizza with kale, I highly recommend it. Once it has been chopped, lightly toss it in about 1 tbs of olive oil. When it cooks, it goes really crispy, adding to the pizza.

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Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced and grilled
  • 1 potato, sliced and grilled
  • 250g pumpkin or sweet potato, sliced and grilled
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced and grilled
  • 6 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 60g ham, finely sliced shredded
  • 60g mild salami, finely sliced shredded
  • 300g grated cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 kale leaves, stem removed, finely chopped and tossed in olive oil.

Method:

  1. Make the pizza dough as per the link above and allow to sit and rise for several hours.
  2. To make the caramelised onion, heat a small saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onion, place the lid on, reduce to low heat and allow the onion to sweat, ~5-10 minutes. Once translucent, add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  3. Grill the eggplant, potato, pumpkin and zucchini in a frypan or on the BBQ. Set aside. The caramelising of the onion and grilling of veggies can be done hours ahead and kept in the fridge until needed.
  4. When ready to assemble the pizzas, preheat the BBQ to at least 200°C with the pizza stone in place (this can also be done in the oven).
  5. While the stone is heating, assemble the pizzas. Role out the dough on baking paper to ~5mm and no bigger than the pizza stone. Mix together the crushed garlic and 1/4 cup oil and spoon this over the bases of the pizza, garlic and all.
  6. Sprinkle and thin layer of cheese onto each pizza, followed by 1/2 the caramelised onion per pizza, then follow as below:

Pizza 1: salami, potato, eggplant, mushroom

Pizza 2: ham, pumpkin, zucchini, mushroom

Then top pizzas with remaining cheese and finely chopped kale, if using. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the base is crispy and topping is cooked.

Creamy Bacon and Cauliflower Soup

Now that Spring is here, our veggie garden has finally started producing some Winter veggies. We have made our way through most of our broccolini, now we have an excess of cauliflower and next week it will broccoli. So, today I made this delicious Bacon and Cauliflower soup and gee it was good!

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Most soups, especially those that are blended, are so easy to make and take only as long as it takes to cook the veggies – usually less than half an hour. They are also a great way to use up excess vegetables, get a bowl full of vitamins and minerals and warm you on a cold day. I’m hoping that this is one of the last batches of soup that I will NEED to make (due to cold weather) this year and that the sun will start shining soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Soups and my kids are always hit and miss. For lunch, Mark will always prefer ‘bits and pieces’, but if I give him some soup as well, he will usually eat it. Claire will either ask for soup when she sees some and eat the whole bowl and ask for more or she will dip a small piece of bread in it, lick it and say ‘all finished’ – consistently inconsistent when it comes to food!

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When it comes to soup and bread, my advice is have bread if you want it, but keep it to one slice and if you want some more, have a bit more soup, you’ll get more nourishment out of the soup that you will out of the bread. Often a good sized bowl of soup without bread will leave most people satisfied.

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I topped this soup off with some parmesan and thyme crisps, which were literally parmesan cheese grated onto baking paper with some thyme sprinkled over the top. I cooked it under the grill for about 5 minutes until it started to turn golden brown. Once cooled, I broke it into pieces and sprinkled it over the soup – a nice touch!

Enjoy xx.

Ingredients:

  • 4 rashers bacon, fat trimmed, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-1.5 heads of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2L chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream (this can be milk also if you wish)
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, add the bacon and cook for ~5 minutes.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the cauliflower, stock and bay leaves, bring to the boil, then reduce to a light boil and cook with the lid ajar for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. Remove bay leaves and blend using a stick mixer or blender until smooth. Add milk, cream and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  5. Serve into bowls, top with parmesan and thyme crisps, if using, and serve with bread or toast.

Roast Pumpkin, Beetroot, Kale and Goats Cheese Quiche

I find quiche to be one of the most versatile and relatively easy meals to create, and the best thing is they can be very impressive. This one, I literally threw together with what we had in the fridge and it wasn’t until I was about to cook it that I realised what a great combination it was….hence the lack of progress photos.

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We had spent the day down at Point Nepean going for a picnic and a bike ride with the kids. When we got home, I needed to cook something for dinner that night and for the following night after work…enter quiche! I knew I could make the pastry, let it rest and finish it off once the kids were in bed. I had bought some Meredith Goats Cheese with Ash for our picnic, so the rest of that needed using, we had some beetroot in the fridge that I had boiled the day before, pumpkin that needed using and some kale in the garden – what a winner!

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When I have a little bit of time to make pastry, I always will, especially for a quiche, it’s much nicer, but you can always use bought puff pastry or filo pastry or no pastry and make a frittata. My go to recipe is Stephanie Alexander’s Shortcrust Pastry.

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Whenever I serve a quiche to the kids, especially if it is slightly different, they will always start off saying “yuck” or “I don’t like it”, but the rule in our house is no dinner, no yoghurt for dessert, so inevitably, after ignoring their negative comments about the delicious meal I have just made, they eat most of it. So, I won’t say that a quiche is a guaranteed incident free meal with them, but I will say that they enjoy it, but they also enjoy trying to get a rise out of me!

Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

Makes a 24-26cm quiche

  • 1 x Stephanie Alexander’s Shortcrust Pastry OR 1 sheet of Puff Pastry
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 500g pumpkin, cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and cut int 1-2cm cubes (or you can used boiled beetroot)
  • 75g goats cheese
  • 6-8 large kale leaves, stalks removed and chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and line baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place chopped pumpkin and beetroot into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and mix to coat. Place onto baking paper and cook for ~30-40 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and cook until translucent. Add chopped kale and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until wilted.
  4. Line pie dish with pastry of your choice (ensuring that shortcrust pastry has been blind baked as per Stephaine’s recipes). Add roasted pumpkin and beetroot to the pastry, crumble the goats cheese over the top and top with kale and onion.
  5. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and bake for ~40 minutes or until the centre is firm.
  6. Serve as is, hot or cold, or with a side salad.
  7. This is a great meal that can be made one day and reheated and eaten the next.

 

Lamb Shank and Vegetable Soup

Lamb shank and vegetable soup has been a soup that has been in my life since I was a kid and it is awesome. It is so wholesome, nourishing and warming on a cold winters day. It freezes really well and it keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days. So, if you don’t have anything planned for lunch this weekend with the forecast looking bleak, add these ingredients to your shopping list and make some of this delicious soup.

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I think the thing I love most about this soup (other than the lamb shanks) is the fact that it is a nutritionally balanced soup. It has a protein component (lamb)…tick, a grain/carb component (pearl barley)…tick, and it is packed full of vegetables…double tick! I also love that the kids love it, especially when they get some bread that they can dip into it and they ask for multiple bowls….TICK!

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Pearl barley is a great grain. It is a fantastic addition to soup and it is predominantly carbohydrate, but also contains protein and is a good source of fibre. If you are wanting the soup to be a lower carb soup then the pearl barley can be omitted without changing the soup too much. You will just need about 500mLs less water.

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Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2-3 lamb shanks
  • 1 brown onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5L water
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 swede, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 large stick of celery, diced
  • 250g pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil and lamb shanks and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side to brown the meat. Add onion and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the peppercorns, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme and 3L of the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook with the lid ajar for at least 1.5 hours.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables, stock cube, wine, tomato paste, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pearl barley and remaining 2L of water and bring to the boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat.
  4. Remove the lamb shanks from the soup, remove the lamb from the bone and roughly chop if needed. Return the lamb to the soup.
  5. Add the mixed herbs, baby spinach and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve into bowls and eat as it is or with some crusty grain bread if desired.