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Food inspiration

DIY Smoothies

You might have seen these Smoothie Cubes in the frozen section at your local supermarket.

I’ll admit, when I saw them, I squealed with excitement. I love smoothies and fruit juices but I’m always too lazy to make them myself because I never have all the fruits and veg handy at the same time…and I just cant be bothered.

These cubes are pureed fruit packed with nutritional goodness- antioxidants and omega 3s and all that good stuff and come in different flavours. So I bought a packet of each to try them, enchanted by the concept of just adding milk and having a delicious fruity treat.

The premise is simple, you just blend 2-3 Smoothie Cubes and 200ml of milk or juice.

My favourite combination is 2 Tropical cubes and 1 Berry Antioxidant cube plus a few little extras.

These little cubes are a tad on the pricey side so I probably couldn’t keep buying them weekly, so this is the part where the little light bulb pings above my head and I have the great idea of making my own smoothie cubes so I can stockpile all these delicious cubes of fresh fruit goodness. YUM.

I’m going to stock up on fresh and frozen fruits, go on a pureeing frenzy and freeze them into ice-cube trays (albeit they will be smaller in size than the supermarket ones which will mean you will probably need a few extra per smoothie).

You can blitz them up with milk, sorbet, yoghurt, fresh fruit juice, fresh fruit, honey or even use them in cocktails.

Tropical Berry Smoothie

  • 2 Tropical Smoothie Cubes
  • 1 Berry Antioxidant Smoothie Cube
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 150ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

So easy and it literally took 1 minute. AWESOME ūüôā

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Strawberries

I might have mentioned in the past that a few years ago, my husband and I abandoned the city lights for the green pastures and permanent smell of cow dung of country living and I honestly believe it’s one of the best decisions we have made. We’re not completely out in the sticks, not living in some ramshackle farmhouse and completely isolated from society (although sometimes I wish we were).

We live in a small town, population 2000. We have one little supermarket (who lack a lot of¬† basic stock that was a given back in the city, but impressively had some beautiful marscarpone cheese in the chiller, so they can’t be too bad). The region I live in is known as for its gourmet food, it’s cheeses and its wines and it’s beautiful fresh produce.

The view outside my back window is of rolling green hills and bushland. The skies are so blue, it hurts my eyes. Not the manky, grey skies of the city I had become used to. Just down the road is farmer’s market, where the locals contribute their fresh fruits, vegetables, freshly baked artisan breads, wines, creamy cheeses, pickles, relishes and preserves. It’s any gourmand’s paradise and the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

My work keeps me late most nights, so my weekends are spent recovering from the past week and preparing for the one ahead.

So deciding to head off to the market with my husband was the perfect way to wind down from the past week and fondling fresh vegetables, inhaling beautiful fresh fruits and marveling at the freshness of nature’s gifts and talents of local bread and cheesemakers was just the right way to start the weekend.

Particularly captivating were the strawberries we picked up from the local organic berry farm. They were plump, sweet still had that tantalising tang that prickles your tongue. We were like naughty little children, eagerly getting the berries to the car where, had espresso not lured us away, would have happily buried our faces in the strawberries and just feasted.

We did enjoy the strawberries though, later at home, with just a little whipped cream (no, nothing kinky)- they were that perfect that it felt like desecration to do anything else with them.

If you ever get the chance to visit a farmer’s market, even if you have to make a day trip out of it (a good drive, some beautiful scenery, a good lunch and glass of wine as well as coming home with a car full of beautiful, fresh produce- what’s not to like!), I really do encourage it. It’s great to be able to talk to the person who grew the vegetables you’re about to eat, or lovingly crafted the bread and cheese you will later be enjoying.

Here’s a few facts about strawberries:

  • Strawberries are well known for their high nutritional value and medicinal properties.
  • Just eight strawberries daily provides more than 20% of the daily recommended folate intake for expectant mothers, Folate is also important for protein metabolism and formation of red blood cells.
  • They are also rich in Vitamin C and silicon making them very useful for aterial and all connective tissue repair.¬† It is interesting to note that strawberries help strenghen the teeth and gums and help remove tartar.¬† Source
  • Strawberries should be eaten as soon as possible. Do not wash until you are ready to consume them. If you must store strawberries, place them on a paper towel in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. They may also be frozen whole or in pieces. To freeze, wash and hull, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar, and toss gently with your hands. Place in freezer containers or zip-top bags. Use within 1 year. Source
  • Strawberries are one of the few sources, along with grapes and cherries, of ellagic acid, a compound which has been shown to prevent carcinogens from turning healthy cells into cancerous ones. Source
  • Apart from the obvious health benefits, a recent study by Dr. Gene Spiller, Nutrition and Health Research Center, has shown that eating one serving (about 8-10 strawberries) a day can significantly decrease blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies showed additional benefits: Strawberries are found to reduce risk of cancer, enhance memory function and rheumatoid arthritis. Source

Some recipes featuring strawberries on my To-Try list:

Strawberry Croissants

Strawberry Tiramisu

Yoghurt, Rosewater & Strawberry Cheesecake

Strawberry Martinis

Strawberry and Lemon Pancakes
Watermelon, Peach & Strawberry Granita

Strawberry Amaretti Tarts

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2010 in Ingredients 101, Inspiration

 

Monday to Friday Work Lunches

I recently had one of those big lightbulb moments that we all have once in a while.

I realised that I have been spending in excess of $100.00 a week just on buying lunch at work…and multiply that by two because my husband and I work at the same place.

Young, dumb, more money than brains, who knows why, but I was happily oblivious to this little fact until the account balance was $0.00 and I wanted to go clothes shopping.

So this time I decided that I really needed to stop having lunch at the cafe every day- not only was it ridiculously overpriced, but the food was boring and it wasn’t even tasty….just convenient.

So I have set myself a challenge, to take my lunch to work everyday for the next week. I tried to start this last week, but failed twice, ending up at the cafe for a mini Bailey’s cheesecake ‘for lunch-dessert’ and another time for a drink….and of course while I was there, why not some ravioli? Grrrrr!!!

So here’s my lunch plan for the week. Hopefully I can stick to it, save myself a few kilos and actually get to clothes shopping on the weekend!


MONDAY-Haloumi & Avocado Salad

Grilled haloumi slices, sliced avocado, rocket, salad leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, mushroom, toasted pine nuts and a mustard-Balsamic dressing.

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TUESDAY- Teriyaki Rice Paper Rolls

Shredded teriyaki chicken, vermicelli noodles, iceberg lettuce, carrot, snow peas with Hoi Sin dipping sauce.

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WEDNESDAY- Cumin grilled chicken strips with Tabbouleh salad and toasted Turkish breadChicken tenderloins marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and cumin seeds overnight, then grilled with a salad of chopped parsley, tomatoes, burghul, mint, olive oil and lemon juice with a slice of toasted Turkish bread to scoop up that delicious salad.

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THURSDAY- Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls


Poached chicken in sesame oil, soy sauce, caster sugar, garlic and a dash of fish sauce, green onions, shredded carrot scooped into a crunchy roll.

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FRIDAY: Potato & Leek Soup

Potato, leek, onion, garlic, vegetable, stock, cream. Make up a big pot and take the leftovers to work. Yum!

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And just so you know, I’m blaming WordPress for the formatting of this post…not the wine.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2010 in Inspiration, Luscious Lunches

 

Ham, Camembert & Cranberry Toasted Sandwich on Turkish Bread

I struggle with lunch. Especially taking lunch to work, which I know is the right thing to be doing instead of blowing $80 a week on crap from the cafe, which I know is going to be shit before I buy it, but meh, up shit creek without a paddle and all that kinda stuff.

To be honest, the last thing I am thinking about at 7am is putting together something delicious for lunch-it’s usually something more like “What can I get away with wearing that looks the closest to ironed?” and “Shit, I smudged my mascara. Maybe if I rub it with a cotton bud, people will think I am going for the smokey eye look.”

Shh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I should make my lunch the night before work.

Well, I would if I wasn’t so exhausted by the bombsite that is my kitchen, folding a mountain of laundry, having a domestic with my husband and trying to find the TV remote control, I’d consider it. But then I’d have to put something together that could endure a night in the fridge and still be appetizing the next day.

Then came my love affair with Turkish bread. So delicious and moreish, you could put practically anything between two slices of Turkish bread and I would consider eating it. And let’s be honest, I am going to leave the fancy pants ingredients for other bloggers- as much as I would love to eat a Turkish roll with some amazing, exotic ingredients, I’m all about keeping it real and attainable… and quick.

Ingredients

1 Turkish roll, halved lengthways

2 slices honey ham (you could also use turkey, or chicken breast)

3-4 slices Camembert (or Brie) cheese

Cranberry Jelly

Mesclun lettuce

Method

  1. Spread cranberry jelly over bottom half of roll.
  2. Lay out the slices of Camembert cheese, top with ham slices.
  3. Pop the top slice of the roll on, spray with a fine mist of oil spray and put in the sandwich press for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bread is crispy. If the smoke detector goes off, it’s too late and you should just slink away to the cafe and shell out another $10.00 for a salad.
  4. Once you’ve removed it from the sandwich press, and allowed it to cool down, stuff it silly with your lettuce mix and eat it. A last minute squirt of mayo is also yum, but you didn’t hear it from me!

Other topping ideas for Turkish rolls:

  • Chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables– you could chargrill the vegies ahead of time, or simply buy them from the deli. Spread your base with a tasty tapenade or capsicum relish or even onion jam and layer your vegies with some sliced bocconcini cheese before putting in the sandwich press or under the grill.
  • Chicken, brie, mango chutney and baby spinach – one of my favourites, I crave this one frequently. Use a poached or roasted chicken breast, sliced finely. Spread the base with a generous amount of mango chutney, then add your Brie and baby spinach before putting it into the sandwich press. Thank me later.
  • Tandoori chicken, baby spinach & Spanish onion with cucumber yoghurt– Marinate your chicken breast in tandoori sauce or alternatively you can use a tandoori curry paste. Once the chicken has cooled (I’d recommend in the fridge for a few hours to really let those flavours intensify), slice thinly. Layer generously on your roll, top with finely sliced Spanish onion and baby spinach, then put in the sandwich press. While that is crisping up, mix a small amount of yoghurt with some grated cucumber (not quite a raita, but close enough for lunch on the fly). You could make this ahead of time and take to work in a separate little container. Once your sandwich is ready, remove the top slice and apply your dollop of yoghurt, then put the slice back on, let it all smoosh in and enjoy.
  • Roast beef, seeded mustard, Swiss cheese & onion relish with rocket– spread the seeded mustard on the top slice of the bread, spread the onion relish on the bottom slice. Add the roast beef slices, then the cheese- grill until the cheese is melted, then add your rocket to serve.
  • Prosciutto, pesto, sundried tomato & mozzarella– you can use pesto or fresh basil leaves on the bottom slice of bread. Then apply the mozzarella (sliced or grated), the sundried tomato and then top with prosciutto before putting in the sandwich press.
 
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Posted by on December 12, 2009 in Inspiration, Luscious Lunches

 

7 Day Challenge: Dinner on the table in under 30 minutes- Sunday

Chicken, Leek & Potato Pie

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, washed, sliced
  • 400g coliban potatoes, peeled, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small barbecued chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (see note)
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • 1 sheet frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed
Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220¬įC. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and potatoes. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until leeks are tender but not coloured.
  2. Sprinkle over the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually add stock, stirring. Return to medium heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture comes to the boil. Add chicken and cheese. Season with salt and cracked black pepper.
  3. Spoon chicken mixture into a 5-cup capacity, 26cm (top) ceramic pie dish. Place pastry over filling. Press edges to seal. Trim excess pastry. Cut a small cross in the centre. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Stand pie in dish for 5 minutes. Serve.

Notes & tips

  • You will need 2 cups of shredded chicken for this recipe.
 

7 Day Challenge: Dinner on the table in under 30 minutes- Saturday

Stroganoff Steaks

Skillet Steaks:

  • 4¬† (about 4 ounces each) beef cubed steaks
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon(s) coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2¬†teaspoon(s) vegetable oil

Stroganoff Sauce:

  • 1¬†teaspoon(s) vegetable oil
  • 10¬†ounce(s) sliced white mushrooms
  • 1¬†small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2¬†cup(s) chicken broth
  • 1/4¬†cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon(s) Dijon mustard
  • 1/8¬†teaspoon(s) coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1¬†tablespoon(s) chopped fresh dill

Method

  1. Prepare Skillet Steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper.
  2. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add steaks and cook 5 to 6 minutes for medium, turning steaks over once. When steaks are done, transfer to platter with any juice; cover with foil.
  3. Prepare Stroganoff Sauce: In same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add mushrooms and onion and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is tender and all liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth; heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute or until slightly reduced. Remove skillet from heat; stir in sour cream, mustard, pepper, and dill. Return steaks with their juice to skillet; heat through.

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Posted by on December 11, 2009 in Delish Dinners, Inspiration

 

7 Day Challenge: Dinner on the table in under 30 minutes- Friday

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, halved horizontally
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches asparagus, woody stem removed
  • 4 middle rashers bacon

Method

1. Lightly flatten the chicken breasts with a mallet or rolling pin. Coat in the flour, egg mixture and combined breadcrumbs and parmesan.

2. Heat a large frying pan and add olive oil. When hot, add chicken schnitzels in batches and cook for 3 min each side, until golden.

3. Divide the asparagus into two bunches and wrap one in bacon. Heat a separate frying pan over medium to high heat, add the asparagus and cook for 4-5 min, turning until tender. Serve the chicken schnitzels with asparagus bunches. Alternatively you could also serve with crisp green beans and mashed potato for a hearty tummy-filler.

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Posted by on December 11, 2009 in Delish Dinners, Inspiration

 
 
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