This meal is one of my go to’s when I’m stuck for ideas. Its nothing fancy, but it’s tasty, nutritious and wholesome and most of it can be prepared in advance, leaving minimal work at witching/hunger hour (5-6pm). Quinoa is a gluten free grain, so is suitable for individuals with Coeliac Disease. It is a good alternative to cous cous and is a good source of fibre, protein and carbohydrate. Cooking quinoa is really simple and quite similar to the cooking of rice.
Today, I cut the veggies for roasting up just after breakfast and kept them in the fridge. Then at lunchtime, I roasted them and marinated the chicken, then all that was left to do in the evening was to make the quinoa and cook the chicken (I could have also cooked the quinoa at lunchtime and just reheated at dinnertime).
If I had pine nuts, I would have used those in place of the roasted chickpeas, but I had some leftover roasted chickpeas from my Roast Pumpkin and Beetroot Salad (see link for how to roast chickpeas), so I used those instead, both options adding some extra protein, which helps to make this meal more nutritionally complete, especially if you are vegetarian and choosing to omit the chicken.
- 1 chicken breast
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 medium zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 small sweet potato
- 300g pumpkin
- 1 small beetroot
- 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
- 2 handfuls of rocket leaves
- 1/4 cup roasted chickpeas
- 50g danish feta
- 2/3 cup white quinoa
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- To marinate the chicken, cut chicken into strips and place into a small bowl. Add 1/2 the orange juice and reserve the remainder for the dressing.
- Chop the eggplant into 1-2cm cubes and place in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt to remove bitterness.
- Cut up remaining vegetables for roasting (all but broccoli) into 1-2 cm cubes. Place in a plastic bag or container with a lid, along with the eggplant and add 1 tbs of olive oil and shake to coat.
- Place onto baking tray and cook for ~45 minutes or until golden.
- To cook the quinoa, rinse in water, then place in a small saucepan with 1 1/3 cups of water. Bring to the boil with the lid on, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Add broccoli florets and continue to cook until all water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork.
- To cook the chicken, heat 1 tbs of oil in a frypan over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken, draining off excess juice. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Place quinoa, broccoli and vegetables into a serving bowl, add the rocket, chickpeas and crumbled feta. Add reserved orange juice and gently stir to combine.
- Serve onto plate and top with chicken.
Pikelets are one of the snacks that have truly stood the test of time. You can find a recipe for them in any CWA or equivalent cookbook. I have fond memories of pikelets from my childhood – Mum would often make us kids a batch for afternoon tea and we would normally have them with golden syrup and whipped cream (still my favourite). I do remember one or two occasions (when Mum wasn’t home) where the leftover cream may or may not have been used for a cream fight with my 3 siblings. We did, however, manage to cover our tracks quite well as it was many years later that Mum actually found out about this!
My kids now love pikelets as well, they are simple, can be made in 15-20 minutes and will keep well in the fridge or freezer. Most traditional recipes will use sugar, but when making them for the kids, I will add fruit of some sort, apple, pear, banana, berries, etc, and they love them. They usually just eat them plain, but today I treated them with some jam and natural yoghurt.
Mark will usually help me to cook them (and eat the mixture) and if his attention span is long enough, he has also mastered spooning the mixture into the pan and flipping them (without burning himself). Claire likes to join in the helping, but at nearly 2 she is definitely more of a hinderance and it usually results in flour going everywhere.
Makes 15 pikelets
- 1 1/2 cups wholemeal SR flour
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- Place flour and cinnamon into a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
- Add apple, egg and milk. Mix until well combined.
- Heat non stick frypan over medium heat. When hot, add heaped spoonfuls of mixture and cook until pikelets start to bubble.
- Flip and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Serve as is or with jam or golden syrup and natural yoghurt or whipped cream.
This one is for you Mum – enjoy!
I love the combination of beetroot with pumpkin. The colour combination is fabulous and the sweetness of the pumpkin really helps to balance out the slight bitterness of the beetroot. This salad would make a great lunch or accompany to a meat based dish at dinner, particularly a Middle Eastern style lamb or chicken.
The chickpeas are not required, but really make it by adding a great little crunch as well as a protein source. The chickpeas can be prepared in advance and stored in an airtight container. These are also great as a snack! Seasoning, such as salt and pepper or spices such as paprika or cumin can be added to add some excitement if eating these as a snack. Feta is something that I would normally add to this salad, but didn’t have any on this occasion, so went without.
These majority of the ingredients in this dish are from our garden. Below is yesterdays harvest – we pulled all the pumpkins out so we could reclaim our backyard and make room for our Winter veggies.
This salad can be served warm or cold. If serving cold, add rocket, chickpeas dressing just before eating to prevent rocket and chickpeas going soggy.
Serves 4 as a side
- 400g pumpkin
- 2 medium beetroot
- 2 handfuls rocket leaves
- 1/3 cup roasted chickpeas
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 60g danish feta (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- To roast the chickpeas, drain and rinse tinned chickpeas.
- Place chickpeas on prepared baking tray, drizzle with ~1/2 tbs of olive oil and toss gently to coat. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until chickpeas are dry. If making in advance, allow chickpeas to cool in the oven.
- While the chickpeas are cooking, peel and cut the pumpkin and beetroot into 2-3cm chunks.
- Place into a plastic bag or a container with lid and add 1/2 tbs olive oil and shake to coat. Place onto baking tray and cook for 45 minutes or until starting to brown and beetroot is tender.
- To prepare salad, place rocket, roast pumpkin and beetroot, chickpeas and feta (if using) into a medium sized bowl and toss gently.
- To make the dressing, heat 1 tsp of honey in the microwave until runny (10-15 seconds). Combine this with 1 tbs of olive oil and stir vigorously. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat.
Although dips are readily available at supermarkets, I still love being able to make my own, knowing exactly what goes into them. A dip is actually really easy to make (especially if you have a food processor). They make a very nutritious snack if served with veggie sticks, are great to throw on a platter as a starter with some crackers and can conveniently be spread on wraps or bread and make part of a sandwich.
Roasting the carrots, although time consuming, adds a delicious caramelisation flavour to this dip that you wouldn’t get if you were to steam or boil the carrots in order to tenderise them. So, go to the effort, pop them in the oven and keep yourself busy for an hour and they will be ready before you know it.
I first made this roast carrot dip close to a year ago when we had too many carrots coming out of our garden and they were so sweet and small, so rather than bothering to peel them, I decided to wash them, roast them and blend them. The sweetness of the carrot really makes the difference, so if your carrots are a bit flavourless, add some honey when roasting them (which is what I have done this time).
Makes ~500g of dip
- 4 medium carrots
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 4 heaped tbs natural yoghurt
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Peel and roughly chop the carrots, then place into a plastic bag or container with a lid, add the oil and honey and shake to coat.
- Place carrot onto baking tray and cook for ~1 hour or until the carrot is tender.
- Allow carrot to cool completely.
- Once cool, place carrot, garlic, cumin and yoghurt into the food processor and blend on high until smooth. You made need to stop the food processor to scrape the sides.
- With the blade still running, gradually add the lemon juice and blend until combined. If you are after a more runny dip, add some more lemon juice or some water.
- Serve with veggie sticks, crackers or grilled pita bread
- Will keep for ~4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
NOTE: this batch makes 500g of dip, so if you can’t see yourself getting through that quantity in 4-5 days, then try halving the recipe.
Fritters are an amazingly versatile yet simple creation. They are suitable for pretty much any meal of the day and are also great for a snack. I find that the kids love them (most of the time) and they can be varied depending on what you have in your fridge and pantry.
Last week, we received 4 zucchinis in our fruit and vegetable box, so to make room for this weeks delivery, fritters were on the menu. I’m a big fan of corn and wherever it fits, I like to include it, hence its appearance in these fritters. It also adds a bit more colour and excitement to the batch.
Adding a poached egg helps to make this meal more of a main meal and more nutritionally balanced, adding a good quality protein source that is otherwise lacking in a vegetable based fritter (despite the 2 eggs for a batch of 18, which equates to less than 1g of protein per fritter). Adding the cumin gives these a bit of a Middle Eastern feel, but it can quite easily be left out if that’s not your thing.
Poaching eggs is something that is actually really simple! It’s only been in the past year or so that I have actually discovered the ease of creating such amazing eggs. Don’t be scared of it, give it a go – I outline below how to poach eggs simply at home. And don’t aim for them to be perfectly poached like you would get at a restaurant, you’ll be disappointed, but they will still taste good!
One of the really convenient things about fritters, especially when kids are involved is that they freeze REALLY well, so can be ready in 2 minutes for a quick meal or snack for little hungry mouths.
Happy frittering 🙂
Makes 18 fritters
- 2 medium zucchini, grated
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced
- 1 corn cob, kernels removed
- 2 tbs chopped coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup wholemeal SR flour (white flour is fine too)
- 1/4 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbs white vinegar
- Natural yoghurt – 1 heaped tbs per person
- 1 poached egg per person
- 1 handful of rocket per person
- Combine grated zucchini, corn, onion, coriander and cumin in a medium sized bowl and mix.
- Add eggs, flour, milk and salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
- Heat non-stick frypan over medium heat. When hot, add heaped spoonfuls of mixture (~5cm diameter) to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Flip fritters and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining mixture.
- If serving with a poached egg, bring a small saucepan full of water to the boil with 1 tbs of white vinegar.
- While the water is boiling, arrange fritters on plate (2-3 per person) with rocket and natural yoghurt.
- Crack one egg into a small dish. Once the water is boiling, gently pour the egg into the boiling water and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, check the egg after 2 minutes, by gently lifting it out of the water and testing the consistency of the yolk by pressing it gently with your finger.
- When the yolk is of desired consistency, remove from water with slotted spoon and place on top of fritters. Enjoy!
I love pies, as the pastry is essentially a jacket for whatever filling or leftovers you have to put in them. They are so versatile and can be sweet or savoury. They can be individual or family sized. And you can make the filling one day and then place it in the pastry the next day if you are short on time.
Pies are a favourite in our house, yet we don’t seem to have them as often as we should seeing how easy they are. Usually, when I make pies, I will make a double batch of at least 6-8 so I can freeze half and have a second meal at a later date. Having said that, this time I made one batch, which gave me four pies.
For Mother’s Day last year, I was given a pie maker, which is essentially just a toasted sandwich maker with pie shaped holes in it – one of the best additions to my kitchen ever! And the best part about it is to reheat the pies, you simply microwave for a few minutes to ensure the filling is warm, then pop the pie back in the pie maker to crisp up the pastry, cos let’s be honest, a pie isn’t the same without crispy pastry.
I like to use the reduced fat puff pastry, but you can use the full fat variety if you wish. I personally don’t think there is too much difference in the taste between the two. If you are opting for a lower fat approach to this meal, rather than making individual pies, make a family pie, this will result in a great filling to pastry ratio, or even better, a family pie with pastry only on top. Serve with a nice garden salad and you have a tasty balanced meal.
Makes 4 individual or 1 family pie:
- 400g chicken thighs, chopped
- 3 leeks, white part only, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cut into 1-2cm cubes
- 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 1/2 tbs plain flour
- 3/4 cup reduced fat milk
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 4 sheets of reduced fat puff pastry
- If not using a pie maker: Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a 24-26cm pie dish with baking paper.
- Heat large frypan over medium heat. Add oil, and when hot add the leeks and fry, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- Add pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
- Add chicken and broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is browned.
- Add flour and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Add the milk and the mustard and stir to combine. If the mixture is a bit dry add some more milk or water.
- Turn off the heat, add some salt and pepper to taste and mix.
- If making individual pies, cut the appropriate sized top and bottom, place the bottom in a prepared pie tin or pie maker, add 1/4 of the filling and add the top piece of pastry (If not using a pie maker: prick fork holes in the top to allow air to escape). Repeat with remaining pies.
- If making a family pie, place bottom piece of pastry into dish, add the filling and place the top piece on top. Prick some fork holes in the top to allow air to escape.
- Cook family pie for 30 minutes or until pastry has browned. Smaller pies will only need ~20 minutes.
- If cooking in a pie maker, cook until pastry is browned and crispy.
- Serve with a side salad.
Risotto is one of my favourite things to make and although it is time consuming, I quite enjoy the process of stirring it and it’s often a challenge making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Although, when I’m time poor, I will make risotto in my pressure cooker, which takes 6 minutes of cooking, yes, 6 MINUTES!
Our garden is currently full of pumpkins, we are down to 15 out of 20, so pumpkin is in most meal these days, which is fine by me as it’s delicious and SO versatile.
When making risotto, I like to make sure it is full of veggies, as one of the big downsides of risotto is it’s often difficult to keep the portion control right – 1/2 plate veggies or salad, 1/4 plate protein and 1/4 plate carbohydrates. So, if you have more veggies in your risotto, you can have more of the risotto as the veggies help to ‘dilute’ the portion of carbs. Or, if you choose not to fill it with veggies then keep the risotto portion to ~ 1-1.5 cups and have a side salad as well.
If you are making risotto for adults and kids and want to have your dish hot and the kids’ less hot, try adding some frozen peas to the kids bowls when dishing up. It not only adds some extra veggies to their bowl, it also cools down the risotto while cooking the peas! Genius!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 -3 cups butternut pumpkin, diced into 1-2cm cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 leeks, white part, sliced
- 2 cups broccoli, cut into small florets (optional)
- 1/2 cup sage leaves
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine – Sauvignon blanc or chardonnay
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tbs pinenuts
- 1 tbs butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C and line tray with baking paper.
- Place butternut pumpkin into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and mix gently to coat. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add leek and 1/4 cup of sage leaves, finely chopped, and cook, stirring until translucent.
- Add garlic, lemon zest and arborio rice and stir for 2-3 minutes.
- Add white wine and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes.
- Add roasted pumpkin and stock, one cup at a time, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When the stock is almost absorbed, add the next cup.
- Continue this process until the rice is cooked to taste, using more stock if needed.
- When down to the last cup of stock, add the broccoli.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter and add remaining sage leaves and cook until butter starts to brown. The sage leaves should be crispy – remove from heat.
- In a small frypan, add pine nuts and cook over medium heat, stirring for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat.
- Once rice is cooked, turn off the heat and stir through lemon juice, parmesan and salt and pepper.
- Serve ~ 1.5 cups per person and top with pine nuts and crispy sage.