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bear necessities

Updated: 2018-03-19T22:00:48.272-05:00


Salad of Parsley, Capers, Black Olives and Tomatoes on Bruschetta


Well, its that time of year again, where we need to make new year's resolutions and as always, mine is to lose a few pounds. I always do this to myself. I spend the first half of the year being super good, so I can lose all the wight I put on over the holidays, just to over indulge in the last couple of months of the year and then vow to do it all again. Maybe this year, my resolution should be to stay good over the holidays. But for now, that is 10-12 months away and I need to drop the pounds from this past holiday season.

Therefore, we start the year with a salad. No the best time to do this, as its cold and produce is not exactly fresh, however I did manage to find some great tomatoes (surprise) at the wholesale market. Yes, I know they are imported from California, or some such place and have a big carbon footprint, but I couldn't help it...I was just dying for some great tasting veggies.

This recipe comes from Delicious magazine, Volume 4, Issue 10 and was wonderful. I didn't think it would fill me up, but it definitely did and for a bit of protein, I served with a couple slices of deli cut turkey. Not really suited to the frigid cold outside, but it went down a treat in our lovely heated little home and provided just the veggie boost I have been craving :)

Happy New Year!!

Salad of Parsley, Capers, Black Olives and Tomatoes on Bruschetta
(Serves 4)

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
3 ripe tomatoes
1 tbs capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
20 small black olives, pitted
2 tbs olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 slices of ciabatta bread
1 garlic clove, cut in half
soft goat's cheese, to serve

1. Remove the leaves of the parsley and discard the stems. Roughly chop and place in a bowl. Cut up the tomatoes in uneven wedges and add to the bowl. Throw in the capers and olives and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Generously season with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. Broil bread slices for 1 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Rub gently with cut side of the garlic and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

3. Top each slice of toast with salad and dollops of goat's cheese. Serve immediately.

Chicken Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios


This is another salad from the wonderful Bill Granger and Bill's Food and another hit this week. Simple to put together and really tasty. Definitely a winner!

Chicken Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios
(Serves 4)

4 skinless chicken breast fillets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon sliced
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1/2 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
2 grapefruits, segmented

yoghurt dressing
1 cup plain yoghurt
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
salt freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice each chicken breast into three escalopes on a chopping board, put a freezer bag over them and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Place the chicken escalopes in a flat ceramic dish and pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil over them. Distribute the lemon and pepper over the chicken, cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle it with sea salt. Cook in the pan for 1 minute each side or until cooked through and golden.

4. Toss the herbs with the pistachios, onion, grapefruit and remaining olive oil, then season well. Divide this among four plates and top each with three pieces of chicken. Serve with the dressing on the side.

5. To make the dressing, stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Grilled Sirloin with Wild Rocket and Rosemary Potatoes


My wonderful hubby took me away to Philadelphia this past weekend and it was an eating-fest. We dined at lots of wonderful places, then on Sunday spent the day watching football and eating bar food....always fun at the time, but regrettable after the fact. So, I figured I better make something light for dinner tonight to compensate for a weekend of overindulgence.

The first book I turned to was Bill Granger's Bills Food. I love Bill's food because its so light and simple. No fussy ingredients, just simple and tasty. I chose to make this semi-salad as I am not usually one to eat salads in winter. But this one still evokes the heartiness of meat and potatoes, but is still light like a salad. It was the perfect remedy for my expanding holiday waistline!!

Grilled Sirloin with Wild Rocket and Rosemary Potatoes
(Serves 4)

4 sirloin steaks
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 large handfuls of wild rocket (arugula)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
rosemary potatoes

rosemary potatoes
1kg potatoes, cut into 2cm dice
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove steaks from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. Brush with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Sear steaks for 2 minutes on each side, by which time they will be done if you like rare steak. Cook for a minute or two more if you like it medium or medium well.

2. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. While the steaks are resting, put the arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Divide the rocket among four serving plates. Put the steaks on a chopping board and cut each into slices, then place on top of the arugula, pouring any escaped juices over them. Add rosemary potatoes to the plate.

3. To make potatoes, preheat oven to 400F. Place the potatoes, olive oil and rosemary in a bowl and toss. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour or until crispy. Transfer to a serving plate and season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce


These ravioli are a little fiddly to make, but you get a lot and can freeze them for later use. You could even double the ravioli recipe easily as cans of pumpkin tend to be really big. I considered making fresh pumpkin mash, but didn't end up having the time and the canned worked just fine. It is also pretty easy to find this time of year. This is a good vegetarian recipe. tasty and low calorie. Its from the November edition of Cooking Light.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
(Makes 6 serves)

1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 tbs dry breadcrumbs
2 tbs fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced fresh sage
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
30 wonton wrappers
1 tbs cornstarch
cooking spray
1 cup fat free milk
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 tbs chopped hazelnuts

1. Spoon pumpkin into several layers of heavy-duty paper towels and spread to 1/2 inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand for 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper and nutmeg.

2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to for a half moon (or triangle). Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat process with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.

3. Fill a large dutch oven with water; bring to a simmer. Add half the ravioli to pan (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying). Cook 4 minutes or until done (do not boil), stirring gently. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray and keep warm. repeat with remaining ravioli.

4. Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts. gently stir in Gorgonzola.

5. Place 5 ravioli in each of 6 shallow bowls and drizzle each serving with 3 tbs of Gorgonzola mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 tsp hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Mum's Minestrone Soup


This is a recipe that I love to make in the winter. It's definitely one of my favourite soups and it comes from none other than my mum. She doesn't like to cook that much, but she does have a couple of stellar signature dishes, and this is one of them. Its a hearty, healthy soup that always last for a few days and is absolutely delicious served with fresh, crusty bread. I made this for dinner tonight and thought I would share with the rest of the world. Hope you don't mind, Mum!! :)

Minestrone Soup
(Makes about 8-12 servings)

1-2 Bacon Bones
1 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 litres (12 cups) of beef stock
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot, chopped
2 zucchini's, sliced
1-2 potatoes, chopped into cubes
a handful of green beans, cut into small pieces
as much broccoli (cut into small florets) that you like
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 -1 cup of small macaroni
grated parmesan cheese to serve
crusty bread with butter to serve

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a little olive oil, then saute bacon bones, onion, celery and garlic over low heat until onions are transparent.

2. Add stock and tomatoes, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Whilst waiting for the soup to boil, add the vegetables, basil, oregano and bay leaf.

3. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 2 hours. Add macaroni 10 minutes before serving, then serve with cheese and bread.

# This soup gets better the longer you leave it. I like to leave it simmering for at least 3-4 hours and it is even better the next day. Enjoy!

Rustic Winter Vegetable Tarts


This recipe comes from this months Better Homes and Gardens. It has some bacon in it, but that could easily be removed if you wanted a completely vegetarian version. I decided to use honey smoked ham slices instead of bacon, as I find the bacon in the States too fatty, but feel free to use whatever you like. You could even do prosciutto.

Rustic Winter Vegetable tarts
(Serves 8)

71/2 cups winter vegetables (such as winter squash, sweet potatoes, red onions, parsnips, carrots, turnips and rutabagas), peeled and seeded as necessary and cut into bite size chunks.
4 slices thick-sliced bacon, cut into pieces
3 tbs olive or canola oil
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 pkg rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 cup crumbled goat's cheese
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
fresh rosemary sprigs

1. In a large bowl, toss prepared vegetables with bacon, tbs of the oil, thyme and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking tray and place in cold oven. Turn on oven to 425F and roast vegetables for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and tender.

2. Meanwhile, roll each pie crust to about 12 inches square. Cut each piecrust square into four free form shapes. Divide between two parchment lined baking sheets.

3.Remove vegetables from oven and stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, vinegar and garlic. set aside. Leave oven on. Divide vegetable mixture among dough shapes, leaving a generous 1 inch border. Fold dough borders around vegetables, pleating as necessary to for tart edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup goats cheese.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, then drizzle with remaining olive oil and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Spicy Turkey and Sweet Potato Gumbo


I'm sorry for leaving my blog unattended for so long, but life and work have been crazy lately and I needed a bit of a break. I hope to be a little better leading up to Christmas.

So to get back into the swing of things, I am putting up a recipe I found on the cooking light website, from December 2001. I had some leftover turkey to get rid of and I found this whilst doing a search for turkey soup. I thought it would be much more interesting and I was right! This was delicious, we both really liked it.

The only change I made to the recipe was that it said to serve it over rice. I wanted to freeze the gumbo, so I just mixed all the rice in at the end. It all ends up in the same place anyway, so no big deal and it still tasted fantastic. It was also really quick and comes in at only 379 calories a serving.

Spicy Turkey and Sweet Potato Gumbo
(Serves 6)

1 (6 oz) box of long grain/wild rice mix (such as uncle ben's)
2 (4 oz) links hot turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups cubed, peeled sweet potato
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 (14 oz) cans fat free and reduced salt chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked turkey (dark, or white, or both)
1/2 tsp hot sauce

1. Cook the rice according to package directions, omitting seasoning packet.

2. remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a dutch oven over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Stir in flour, cook for 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add sweet potato and next five ingredients (through bay leaf). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add turkey and hot sauce, cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and serve over rice.

Fresh Vegetable Barley


It seems like getting more fibre and whole grains in your diet is all the rage at the moment, so much so, that in the October edition of Cooking Light they had a whole section on recipes that would give you a fibre boost. I was actually very happy about this because I have recently discovered the joys of eating more interesting grains such as barley, quinoa and bulgar wheat. These are my new favourite grains, as I love the taste and the texture...and getting an added boost of fibre doesn't hurt either. Oh, and they are lower in calories than rice, which makes them super foods in my book.

Anyway, I was surprised to find this recipe in the Autumn/Fall edition of Cooking Light as the ingredients are distinctly summery. And as my summer CSA subscription has now finished, I had to purchase supermarket tomatoes and zucchini for the first time in almost 6 months...the horror!!!

But it turned out ok. This dish was very tasty, almost risotto-like in texture and great as a vegetarian meal. Even my meat eating hubby enjoyed it very much. At 177 calories per serving, you can't go wrong!

Fresh Vegetable Barley
(Serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (about 1)
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs crumbled feta cheese
chopped fresh parsley

1. heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add barley and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, over and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Stir in zucchini, tomatoes, salt and pepper, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Ladle barley mixture into bowls, then top each serving with 1 1/2 tsp of feta cheese and parsley.

Brunswick Stew


As I sit here looking out my window at a cold, windy and rainy afternoon (it looks like 7pm at 4pm), I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe that I made at the start of the week. This stew, is kind of a cross between a soup and a stew and is very satisfying for a wintery day like today. The chicken makes it very hearty, but with loads of veggies, this is a low calorie and extremely tasty dinner, that's good for you too. And its served with garlic bread, my fave!! yum!

The recipe is from the October edition of Cooking Light.

Brunswick Stew
(Serves 6)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tbs peanut oil
1 tbs all purpose flour
1lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups fat free, less sodium chicken stock
2 tbs no-salt added tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1 10 oz package of frozen corn, thawed
1 10 oz package of frozen Lima beans, thawed
6 slices Italian bread, toasted
2 garlic cloves, halved

1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan in cooking spray, then add bell pepper, onion and celery to pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oil to pan. Combine flour and chicken in a bowl, tossing to coat. Add chicken to pan and cook until lightly browned. Gradually stir in stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through to Lima beans) to pan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Rub toasted bread with cut sides of garlic bread and discard garlic. (Optional: I also like to add a bit of olive oil to the bread before rubbing the garlic, but this adds a few extra calories). Serve 1 slice of bread with each serving of stew.

Chicken Risotto


In putting this recipe on my blog, I almost feel like I am giving away one of my trade secrets. This is a recipe that I reserve for special occasions and it has never let me down. My husband asked me to make it this weekend, so I will pass it on and hope that if you make it, that it might become one of the weapons in your cooking arsenal, too.

This is one of those recipes, that when you look at the ingredients, you think it can't possibly be that good, yet when they come together, it just blows your mind. This is definitely my favourite risotto recipe and I have many of them....risotto is one of my favourite foods. This one always surprises me in its simplicity and tastiness. I can't stress enough how flavourful this dish is. You'll just have to try it for yourself.

Unfortunately I can't take credit for inventing the recipe, it comes from a book I bought years ago called the practical encyclopedia of potato and rice. Enjoy!

Chicken Risotto (Serves 6)

2 tbs olive oil
8oz skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp saffron threads
7 1/2 cups simmering chicken stock
2oz prosciutto, cut into thin strips
2tbs butter, cubed
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley to garnish

1. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring until it turns white.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft. Stir in the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the rice is coated in oil.

3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Stir saffron into simmering stock, then add ladlefuls of stock to the rice, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next.

4. When the rice is three-quarters cooked, add the prosciutto and continue cooking until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy.

5. Add the butter and Parmesan and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve risotto sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley.

Apple-Cheddar Soup


This has been a crazy week weather-wise. We started off in the 90's and today was in the low 60's! A nice excuse to make some soup though. This recipe comes from this month's Better Homes and Gardens in a section on apple's. I have never even heard of apple-cheddar soup, but thought it would be fun to try...and I'm glad I did. This soup was actually delicious. Almost like having cheese fondue (one of my favourite things) for dinner, but not as bad for you!!

I decided to serve it with cheddar roles that I got from Shawnda at Confections of A Foodie Bride. My only problem was, I ran out of bread flour, so had to substitute one of the cups with some whole wheat flour. This made the roles a little heavier, but still delicious. A nice accompaniment to the soup.

This was a very "fall-inspired" recipe, that was great for a windy, autumnal day....enjoy!

Apple-Cheddar Soup
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1tbs butter
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups apple cider
1tsp snipped fresh thyme
1/2tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 medium cooking apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
fresh apple slices
green peppercorns

1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped apple and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or until potato is tender.

2. In a small bowl combine milk and flour. Stir into soup and cook until bubbly. Slowly add cheese, whisking until cheese is melted. Divide evenly among serving dishes and top with apple slices and peppercorns.

Korean Beef Salad


This recipe comes from a New Zealand magazine that I found the other week in Barnes and Nobles called Dish. I haven't seen this magazine before, but it is fabulous....certainly on par with Donna Hay. This particular recipe was in a section entitled "meals for every night of the week", so it was nice and quick. The recipe was delicious and healthy and I would definitely make it again.

Korean Beef Salad
(Serves 4)

2tbs soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
5cm piece ginger, grated
2 scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced
1tsp sesame oil
2tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1tbs sesame seeds, toasted
1lb sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1tbs sesame seeds, toasted
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2tbs rice vinegar
2tsp soy
1tsp sugar
1tsp freshly grated ginger
1tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch of chilli flakes - optional
400g thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, peeled julienned
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup snowpeas, blanched and julienned
1 red capsicum (red pepper), thinly sliced
shredded mint leaves
2 tbs sesame seeds, toasted

1. Combine the soy, garlic, ginger, spring onions, sesame oil and sugar in a bowl. Grind the salt and sesame seeds together in a mortar and pestle. Add to marinade along with beef and mix well. Leave for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

2. For the dressing, grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and combine with remaining ingredients.

3. For the salad, toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with the dressing.

4. Heat a wok or large fry pan with 2tbs of vegetable oil until very hot. Add the beef and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, or until just cooked. Either toss the beef through the salad or divide salad between serving bowls and top with beef. Sprinkle extra toasted sesame seeds to serve.

Turkey Spinach Toss


Wow, its been a little while since I updated my blog and I apologise. This has mainly been due to being out of town, being sick and then not cooking anything blog-worthy for a while. This doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, but nothing has really grabbed me in the last couple of weeks.

However, this recipe tonight was actually pretty good, so I thought I would share. It comes from the recent edition of Better Homes and Gardens, of all places and was in their section on autumn dinners. It was fast, tasty, healthy....all the things I love in a recipe. Felt a bit more summery than autumn I thought, but seeing as we are still getting 90 degree days, I think its fitting.

Turkey Spinach Toss
(Serves 4)

2 8oz turkey breast tenderloins, halved horizontally (I couldn't find any, so just used turkey breast chops)
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbs butter
2 oz thinly sliced deli ham, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup orange juice
2 10 oz pkgs of fresh spinach
1 orange cut into wedges

1. Season turkey with pepper. In very a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook for 12 minutes, or until no longer pink. Turn once.

2. Remove turkey from skillet, slice into strips, cover and keep warm. Add ham to skillet, cook for about 1 minute or until heated and starting to crisp. With slotted spoon remove from skillet, add juice and bring to boil.

3. Add spinach, half at a time, to skillet. Cook 1 minute or until just wilted. Add orange wedges with second batch of spinach. Using tongs, remove from skillet, divide among plates sprinkle with slat and pepper. Top with ham and turkey. Drizzle with remaining juices from the skillet.

Stuffed Eggplant


Here is yet another recipe of my own creation designed to clean out my fridge. I am doing great though, and have almost used all of the leftover produce, cheese and other accoutrement's that I had. So hopefully, I can get back to making other fun stuff in the next couple of days.

This is also our fourth vegetarian meal in row! Not bad considering hubby is an avid meat eater. I wanted to stuff my eggplants with rice, but all of the recipes I could find used some sort of mince, or had indian spices...that is, they were stuffed with a pilaf. This would be fine, but I didn't think that would allow me to use my tomatoes, herbs and mozzarella. So, I devised this recipe after looking through tons of others. Again, I'm not going to write it out carefully, as I threw in whatever I had and didn't measure anything. Feel free to omit or add anything you like.

I had 2 small white eggplants, which I pierced and then boiled for about 20 minutes. I then cut them in half and scooped out the middle flesh. In the mean time I cooked some basmati rice, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup and sauteed some onions, garlic and some peachy momma hot peppers. I then added the onion mixture to the rice, then added some lemon juice, chopped heirloom tomatoes, bread crumbs, an egg, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and some fresh herbs (thyme, oregano and basil). The eggplant halves were then stuffed with the rice mixture, placed in a baking dish and covered with pasta sauce (I used jar marinara/napolitana), but you could use fresh. I just wanted to use up what I had), some slices of fresh mozzarella and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese. Baked for about 20-25 minutes at 375F, then served with arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Really tasty. Even better than I expected. I think this is quite a good vegetarian recipe and you could use the stuffing for anything. I had some left over and used it to stuff a tomato, but you could also do a pepper or a squash.

Ratatouille Risotto


I love risotto. I love to eat it and I love to cook it. I think it is very hard to make a bad risotto and I love that you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want and it never fails to please. Its my ultimate comfort food. I can even get my hubby to eat things he hates like salmon and mushrooms if I put them in a risotto. Its also great for cleaning out the fridge, which is why I came up with this recipe tonight.

I mentioned yesterday that I have an abundance of squash this week, but I failed to mention that I also have loads of eggplant. I think I got five this week!! These are not your regular purple type, I got white ones, green ones and mauve and white ones. All a lot less bitter than the regular, which makes them a bit easier to cook.

Obviously squash and eggplant are the basis of most ratatouille's, hence the name for this one. I won't put up an in depth recipe as I think most people know how to make a basic risotto and really, you could omit or add anything you wanted to, to this one. I have to say though, this tasted even better than I expected, it was really good.

So, in short, I cut up some onion and sauteed with some garlic in olive oil. I added the arborio rice and then some white wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Then I put in a small can of diced tomatoes. I could have used fresh, but I don't have that many this week and want to use them for something else. Once the liquid had been absorbed, I started to add my chicken stock. You could use vegetable if you wanted it truly vegetarian.

In the meantime, I sauteed the squash, eggplant and a large, fresh ancho pepper for a bit of kick. These veggies were added to the risotto just before the last of the stock had been absorbed. Then finally I tossed in some fresh herbs from the garden (oregano, thyme and basil). I served hot with some crumbled goat's cheese on top. Delicious!!!

Curried Squash Soup


I found this recipe in my Good Food, Fast cookbook by Martha Stewart and I decided to try it to get rid of some of the excess summer squash that I got from my CSA this week. The original recipe is for zucchini, but I had crookneck and courge longue de Nice.

I found that the soup was a little watery for my taste. I think if I made it again I would use less water. So, depending on how you like your soup, you may want to play around with the amount of water. Because I found it watery, I added a small amount of single cream at the end to give it a bit more body and I think this was a nice addition.

I wouldn't rave that this was the greatest soup I ever had, but it was pretty good (although hubby didn't like it). However, it was a good way to use up your excess squash. I think this makes more than the 4 serves that Martha suggests.

Curried Squash Soup
(Serves 4-6)

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
course salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 pounds squash, sliced 1 inch thick
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup single pouring cream (optional)
1/3 cup sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a tbs of salt. Cook, stirring constantly until onions are soft, then add garlic and curry powder. Cook for another minute, stirring, until fragrant.

2. Add squash, potato and about 4 cups of water (less if you want it thick). Bring to boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

3. In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot to warm through, then stir in the cream if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Baby Shower Bash


A colleague of mine is having a baby sometime around the 15th of this month (well, his wife is having the baby) and so we decided to throw him a baby shower on Tuesday to celebrate. It was my job to bring the sweets so I made two different types of cake. The first is a peach upside down cake from I made this to get rid of some peaches I had picked up the other day that I hadn't eaten in time and everyone absolutely raved about how wonderful this cake was. I also thought it was very good. The link above is to the recipe and I followed it exactly, so I won't republish here. I did want to make them individual, but having never tried this recipe before, I didn't want it to be spoiled and inedible for my coworkers, so I just stuck to the recipe as it was, however if were to try again, I think I would give the individual ones a go.I will say that I used a candy thermometer to measure the sugar, as I can never tell by eye whether or not it is at caramel stage or hard crack stage etc. This is the most accurate way I know of to do that, so make sure that your sugar is really caramelized properly in the first step, or I don't think it will work so well. This is about 338F or 170C. Do make sure you watch it carefully though, because the time from caramel to burned is only a couple of seconds. I learned this the hard way as I turned my back on the first batch I made for just a few seconds and it burned. Its not easy getting super heated sugar out of your pan and clean up is a bitch, so try not to do this if you can avoid it!!The second dessert I made were s'mores cupcakes. I made a hybrid of a bunch of different recipes I had seen for these to come up with this recipe and I think it turned out really well. Hubby thought they were great, as did everyone at my work. There was none left, so that has to say something.The only thing I will say about these is that I decided to make s'mores cupcakes so I could use my new kitchen torch (a super cool and super nice gift from my parents), however I quickly learned that butter and flame don't mix very well. I didn't think about this at first as the majority of the icing is made from marshmallow. I thought I could "roast" it under the kitchen torch, but the small amount of butter in there was not having a bar of that. So, the marshmallow topping went un-roasted....kind of a if you wish to roast yours if you make these, then omit the icing and just stick a real marshmallow on top and roast away!! These still turned out great and the icing was yummy, so whatever floats your boat, it will be great either way.S'mores Cupcakes(makes 24)graham cracker base2 cups graham cracker crumbs from actual crackers, not the box ones (I used teddy's)1 stick of butter meltedchocolate cakeany chocolate cake recipe you like (I used betty crocker for this one due to lack of time)marshmallow icing1 stick butter, room temperature1 cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar)1/4 tsp vanilla1/2 tub if marshmallow fluffteddy grahams for decorationgraham cracker crumbs for decoration (can be from box)1. Place the crumbs and melted butter for the base in a bowl and mix. Spoon a small spoonful of the base into the baseo f greased cupcake patties and press down with the back of the spoon.2. Prepare your cake mix and divide evenly among the cupcake patties (about 2/3 full each).3. bake for directed amount of time in the chocolate cake recipe, then remove from the oven to cool. Peel away the patty liner.4. Cream the butter for the icing until fluffy. Add confectioners sugar a 1/4 cup at a time and beat until fluffy each time. Beat in the vanilla until in[...]

Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Just when you thought all of the summer squash was gone, along comes another wave!! Yes, that's right, I am once again drowning in squash from my CSA, with an enormous, nearly two foot long, courge longue de Nice as well as a bunch of yellow crooknecks and other squash. I need to do something other than ratatouille and other sauces, so I decided to do a chocolate zucchini cake. I guess this can not "technically" be called a zucchini cake as used half of the courge longue de Nice squash, but it is in the same family, so I am not being nit picky about it.

The recipe actually comes from Clotilde over at Chocolate and Zucchini, so I won't repost the recipe. However, I did not use her nutty topping, instead going with a chocolate fudge icing. The cake is moist and you can't taste the squash at all, so its a good way to use it up if you have a lot. It makes the cake nice and moist. The recipe for the icing is below, but I will say I only made a half batch and that was enough for one cake.

Chocolate Fudge Icing

1 stick butter
1/2 c. cocoa
1/3 c. milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla

Melt butter, add cocoa and boil 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread while warm.

Salmon Burger with Avocado Salsa


This is my last Thursday evening of eating my favourite foods, as hubby has his last class tonight. I usually use these nights alone to eat things that he doesn't like, such as indian food or seafood, so I won't be able to do that any more. These yummy goodies will be relegated to when we eat out....very sad!

Tonight I made a recipe from Delicious magazine (vol 4 issue 7) and it certainly lived up to that name. This was a really simple and quick recipe that was very fresh and great for warm weather, especially if you like salmon.

Salmon Burger with Avocado Salsa
(makes 4)

600g fresh organic salmon fillet, skinned
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 small egg white
1 tbs olive oil
2 english muffins, split in half
1 cup watercress sprigs
avocado salsa
2 ripe avocado's
2 tbs lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 long green chilli, seeds removed and chopped
2 tbs chopped coriander leaves

1. Roughly chop salmon into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor with the shallot, parsley, mustard, egg white, salt and pepper. Pulse very briefly, only 3-4 times until the fish is roughly chopped but not pureed. Divide the mixture into 4 and with hands, form into large patties. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes to help them 'set'.

2. For the avocado salsa, place all the ingredients, except the lime wedges, in a bowl and gently combine.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sear the burgers for 1-2 minutes each side, turning carefully, until cooked to your liking.

4. Meanwhile, lightly toast the muffin halves. Top each with watercress, a salmon patty and a spoonful of avocado salsa. Serve with lime wedges.

Barbecue Chicken


This is a Martha recipe from Good Food, Fast and was actually pretty good. I served this with the quinoa salad I made a few weeks ago, which has become a bear household favourite. This recipe was quick and easy and very tasty. This was also my first time cutting a whole chicken and my technique leaves a little to be desired, but it did not affect the taste.

Barbecue Chicken
(Serves 4)

1 tsp hot sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tbs dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cut-up-chicken (3lbs)
1 tbs vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat grill to medium. Simmer hot sauce, vinegar, sugar, molasses, mustard, garlic and ketchup in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups (5-7 minutes).

2. In a large bowl, toss chicken with vegetable oil and season well with salt and pepper.

3. Place chicken on the grill. Cover and cook, turning frequently until chicken registers 165F (about 10-15 minutes). Uncover the grill, continue cooking and basting frequently with the sauce until chicken is glazed thoroughly (3-4 minutes more). Serve with remaining sauce.

Dominican Chimichurri Burger with Poppy Seed Fruited Slaw


Growing up in suburban Melbourne, I did not really come into contact with a lot of Latino food. In fact, the closest I came was at our local Taco Bill, but later in life, that was more for the Margarita's than the food. Therefore, I am not that familiar with a lot of Latino foods and don't cook it very often, if at all. So, I was kind of disappointed when I picked up the September edition of Gourmet, to find that it was dedicated to Latino foods, but I decided that it would be good for me to learn more about this exotic (at least to me) food.I was fortunate enough in the last two years to travel around central and Eastern Mexico for two weeks and to try some authentic Cuban in NYC and Miami. I am still getting used to the flavors, but decided to dip my toe in the water (so to speak) for tonight's dinner and make these Dominican Chimichurri burgers from the September Gourmet edition. They were very nice, but were extremely messy!! Just make sure to have loads of napkins handy.I decided to serve this burger with the poppy seed fruited slaw from the September 2006 edition of cooking light. Both hubby and I are not huge fans of coleslaw, but this one was pretty good. I don't think you need as much dressing as the recipe provides, but that's just my taste. Enjoy!Dominican Chimichurri Burgers(makes 4)1 1/4lb ground beef1 medium onion, finely chopped1/2 red bell pepper, diced2 garlic cloves, minced1/3 cup cilantro1 tsp dried oregano2 tsp soy sauce1 tbs Worcestershire sauce4 hamburger buns, split2 cups thinly sliced cabbage1 carrot, coarsely grated1 small red onion, cut into rings1 tomato, sliced 1/4" thick2 tbs ketchup2 tbs mayonnaise1 tbs yellow mustard1. Mix together beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, oregano, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Form into patties.2. Heat the grill, then cook the patties (about 8 minutes) turning once. Toast buns.3. Meanwhile, cook cabbage and carrot with 1/4 tsp salt over medium high heat, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Oil pan again and sear onion and tomato until slightly charred.4. Mix ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Place burger, cabbage mixture, tomato and onion on the burger bun. Top with sauce and remaining bun. Serve with salad.Poppy Seed Fruited Slaw(Serves 6)coleslaw1/2 cup orange sections1 cup halved seedless red grapes1 package of cabbage and carrot coleslawdressing1/4 cup sugar1 tbs minced onion3 tbs cider vinegar1 tsp poppy seeds4 tsp canola oil1/2 tsp dry mustard1/4 tsp salt1. To prepare coleslaw, chop orange sections. Combine oranges, grapes and coleslaw in a large bowl.2. To prepare dressing, combine ingredients and whisk until sugar dissolves. Add to cabbage mixture and toss well. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.[...]

Lamb with Grilled Ratatouille


I haven't posted much lately as I have been drowning in tomatoes and cucumbers and there are only so many tomato and cucumber salads one can post. However, the summer bounty from the CSA is coming to an end and I am now getting more manageable amounts. Although, I do have a lot of eggplants. This is the reason I made tonight's dinner, which allowed me to utilize some of my tomatoes, eggplants and late summer squash. The ratatouille comes from Cooking Light Grilling and I decided to serve it with lamb chops, although you could serve it with anything you like, including rice or pasta for a vegetarian dish. It was very tasty and healthy and great for utilizing that late summer produce.

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille
(Serves 8)

1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise (I used a small white and a small green eggplant)
1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise
1 medium green bell pepper, halved
1 medium red bell pepper, halved
1 medium red onion, quartered
cooking spray
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp herbs de provence
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove minced

1. Prepare grill. Salt eggplants if bought from the supermarket as they can be bitter, but if using fresh picked eggplant, they do not need to be peeled or salted. Coat eggplant, squash, peppers and onion with cooking spray and grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

2. Coarsely chop vegetables, place in a large bowl. Stir in salt, tomatoes and remaining ingredients, stirring until blended. Serve with lamb, chicken, beef, pasta or rice.

Mixed Berry Steamed Pudding



This recipe comes from Donna Hay Magazine, issue 32 and was originally supposed to be a blackberry steamed pudding. However, I was unable to find any frozen blackberries, so settled on mixed berry instead. This dessert looks gorgeous and tastes just as yummy. I love pudding and I love berries, so this was a perfect combination for me. Not a lot of effort, but super tasty...yum!

Mixed Berry Steamed Pudding
(Makes 6)

75g unsalted butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup self raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup milk
berry syrup
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tbs water

1. Preheat oven to 355F. To make syrup, place mixed berries, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes until syrupy, but berries remain in tact. Spoon berries into lightly greased 3/4 cup capacity cups, reserving syrup. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Place butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Add flour, almond meal and milk and beat until well combined. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mixture into each cup and place in a baking dish. Pour enough hot water into dish, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove cups from baking tray and invert puddings onto plates. Spoon over the syrup to serve.

Sausage Rolls with Heirloom Tomato Salad


One of the things I love from home is sausage rolls. Its not something I can get in the US and every time I go home I always make sure to try and get one. So, when I was browsing through Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners this past weekend and saw a recipe for his sausage rolls, I had to try them. These are not the good ol' Four & Twenty from Oz, but they were certainly delicious.

As usual in the Jamie Oliver way, there aren't really any quantities in his recipe, so I will give what I used, which was enough to make 8 rolls, with 2 per person.

The heirloom salad came from the same book and was great with our CSA tomatoes this week. I couldn't find any fresh horseradish, so used some chillies from my garden to give it a kick.

Sausage Rolls
(Serves 4)

3 sausages
handful of mixed herbs (I used rosemary, sage and thyme)
1/4 apple, chopped finely
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped finely
2/3 packet frozen puff pastry
1 egg

1. Take the sausages out of their skins and mash together with herbs, apple and hazelnuts. Roll out puff pastry until its 8" wide and about 16" long. Cut puff pastry in half lengthwise, so that you have 2 x 4" wide pieces. Divide stuffing in two, make into a sausage shape and place lengthwise on the pastry. Egg wash the pastry, then roll up the pastry into a tube, then seal with a fork. Cut each roll into four equal pieces and egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425F, or until golden and crisp on the outside.

2. These can be frozen before baking for later use.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
(Serves 6)

4 large handfuls of mixed heirloom tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
1/2 clove of garlic, grated
2 tsp fresh horseradish, grated
a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely sliced

1. Cut bigger tomatoes into slices. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them in a colander for 30 minutes. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and dress with enough olive oil to loosen them and about 1-2 tbs vinegar. Toss around and check for seasoning. Add the garlic and then horseradish to taste. Throw in some parsley, then serve.

Fettuccine with Salami, Olives and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes


Tonight's dinner comes from the September 2007 edition of Bon Appetit and was very yummy. I saw the photo for this meal last week and new I just had to try it....and soon. Its in the quick menu section and was also served with a great salad. This meal didn't take a lot of time to prepare and was delicious. I just love salami, but don't eat it very often due to the high fat content. But I think its ok every once in a while to have a treat.I apologize for not writing too much on my blog lately, but it was difficult to find the time whilst my parents were visiting. Unfortunately for me, they have gone home to Australia, but for my readers, it will free up my time to work a bit more on my blog. I hope you enjoy this recipe :)Fettuccine with Salami, Olives and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes(Serves 4)2 12oz packages cherry tomatoes (or heirloom if you have them)2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided8oz spicy Italian salami3 garlic cloves, minced1/3 cup dry white wine1/2 cup black pitted olives1/3 cup drained capers1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped12oz fresh fettuccine1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1tbs of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until slightly wrinkled and starting to split, about 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven and set aside.2. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbs oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add salami and minced garlic, saute 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl. Add wine to same skillet and simmer until slightly reduced (about 3 minutes). Stir in roasted tomatoes, olives and capers, toss to coat. Bring mixture to simmer, remove from heat and stir in salami mixture and parsley. Set sauce aside.3. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, add sauce to pasta and toss to warm through. Serve with salad.Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts(serves 4)1 1/2 tbs tarragon vinegar2 1/2 tbs plus 3/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled6 tbs olive oil2 tbs water2 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped6 cups mixed greens1 cup toasted walnuts1. Whisk vinegar and 2 1/2 tbs goats cheese until smooth. Gradually whisk in oil, then 2 tbs water and fresh tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Add greens to bowl and toss with dressing. Top with remaining goat cheese and walnuts.[...]