Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

Quinoa veggies 7Thank you, Joaquin Phoenix. Why, you ask? When I initially read about quinoa, the only way I could remember the correct pronunciation was by saying this sentence: would Wah-keen like some keen-wah? See? It works! So, thank you Mr Phoenix, brilliant actor and moderately strange human being-slash-space cadet, for preventing major embarrassment when talking to my friends about this super healthy grain seed!

In my attempt to eat more vegetarian dishes, I discovered the deliciousness of roasting peppers, onion, baby tomatoes and carrots, and adding it to sautéed whole tomatoes and beans. This meal is protein-rich, full of goodness, and drenched in yumminess.

Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Quinoa roast veg 11 yellow, red & green pepper, halved lengthways and deseeded
1 red onion, halved
250g baby tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled & halved lengthways
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 heaped teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon Greek pesto
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup quinoa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 handful Italian parsley
Olive oil
Salt

Making it happen:

Quinoa roast veg 21. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grill the peppers (skin side up), onion, baby tomatoes and carrots for 15-20 minutes until the peppers have blackened. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg102. While the roasted veggies are cooling, drizzle the olive oil (just enough to cover the surface) into a large pan over medium heat and pour in the drained red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Add the celery, paprika, garlic, lemon juice and Greek pesto, and simmer.

 

Quinoa roast veg 33. While the above is simmering, peel and slice the peppers and slice the carrots, adding them to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg 54. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water. Pour the vegetable stock and quinoa into the pan, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

 

Quinoa roast veg 65. Garnish with Italian parsley.

Monthly Mystery Munchies # 9: Butternut Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

Haaaaaapy New Year! Ann and I ‘met’ last year, and we’ve been doing our Monthly Mystery Munchies since May. It’s been a wonderfully rich and valuable experience – I have learnt so much about food – from ingredients to cooking methods, and it’s one of my favourite parts of blogging. I can honestly say I fervently look forward to it every month, and I avidly check Ann’s blog to see what she’s created. One thing I do know, before seeing her recipes, is that her food is always fun, definitely interesting, and incredibly tasty!

Butternut salad 2So about the New Year. The Christmas holidays were wonderful, albeit very busy, but packed with overindulgence. My hips, tummy and butt are testament – don’t make me show you the evidence. Let me give you a glimpse into the severity: Christmas lunch is always a big deal. Although relaxed, we went all out. I mean it’s the one time when I have a real excuse, so why not? Well, hips. That’s why not. Anyways, there were seven of us this year, and this the meat we collectively made: turkey stuffed with pork and onion stuffing (moi), glazed gammon (my very talented mom-in-law), and, because that wasn’t enough for six adults and one little dude, my brother-in-law did a turducken. That was just the meat! Yeah, uh, time to detox, which leads me to this month’s theme – salad.

Butternut salad 4Before you start yawning from boredom, we decided that it would be a good idea to do something healthy, but not the traditional lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber. Because that would bore that crap out of me. This salad is so tasty. The sweetness of the butternut and peppers is balanced by the baby spinach leaves, and the feta cheese finishes it off perfectly. Natch, I made a vinaigrette. I do love mustard, so I did healthy salad dressing version, no cream or butter, just mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. All super healthy. I feel thinner already. I decided not to add meat to this salad, but you can throw in some shredded chicken or cubed beef – totally up to you. It’s easy and tasty, and in 40C heat, it’s refreshing to eat a cool meal instead of something steaming hot. Ann made an impressive 5-layer salad! Be sure to check it out! And again, happy 2016!

Butternut Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Supplies:

1kg butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubed and steamed
250g baby spinach leaves
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 disc feta cheese

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch paprika
Salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Making it happen:

Steam the cubed butternut, let cool and transfer to a salad bowl/dish. Add the chopped peppers and baby spinach leaves, and crumble the feta over the salad. Mix well.

In a small bowl, mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the salad.

Butternut salad

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 5This traditional French vegetarian dish is not only bursting with flavour, but healthy and easy too. Traditionally, all the vegetables were cooked separately, but nowadays they’re all done in one pan. Ratatouille can be served as a side dish with rice and meat, making it a firm favourite in this home. I use baby tomatoes for their sweetness, but you can use regular tomatoes too. The vegetables are sautéed together, bringing all of the wonderful different flavours to one dish, and the herbs emphasizing its freshness. The olive oil is not only used as a lubricant, but for its flavour. Everything in this dish is fresh, wholesome and delicious!

As a side note: I planned this post before the attacks in Paris. My heart goes out to everyone affected by these atrocities.

Ratatouille

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Ratatouille 101 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 aubergines (egg plants), cut into half-inch slices
6 zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), sliced lengthways and then crossways
2 assorted bell peppers (I used red & yellow), sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 x tin whole peeled tomatoes
Fresh basil
Fresh lemon thyme (you can use regular thyme too)
Flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Ratatouille 61. In a large pan on medium heat, pour in half the olive oil and fry the garlic, onions and peppers for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and sauté until the veggies have softened and the onions are lightly browned, about 5 additional minutes.

 

Ratatouille 72. Add the aubergines (egg plants) and zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the veggies and saute with the lid on for 5 minutes.

 

 

Ratatouille 83. Add the baby tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, 5 basil leaves, a handful of Italian parsley and fresh thyme, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes until the veggies are sticky and sweet. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

 

Ratatouille 9

 

Roast Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes

Artichokes Brussels 2 1Brussels Sprouts and artichokes are both a polarizing food. This is especially true in my in-laws’ home. Mum loves them, Pops cringes are the very mention of them. Fortunately, The Husband and I don’t have that problem. Interestingly, I’ve found that the way these veggies are cooked largely determines their enjoyment factor. I have a love affair with lemon. What goes perfectly with lemon, you ask? Well, butter and pepper. Artichokes are such a treat as they’re ludicrously expensive, but you can make the Brussels without the artichokes, and vice versa. I paired them together because I wanted to give Mum a treat (and they were so good, Pops even enjoyed them!).

Roast Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes

  • Servings: 4 as a side dish
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
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Supplies:

Artichokes Brussels 6 2300g Brussels sprouts
1 x tin artichoke hearts, drained
50g melted butter
Juice of half a lemon (you can also use bottled lemon juice, 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Salt to season

Making it happen:

Artichokes Brussels 7 11. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the artichokes and Brussels sprouts in a baking dish. Melt the butter in the
microwave, add lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. Stir to mix well and pour over the veggies.

 

Artichokes Brussels 12 Bake on the middle shelf for 30 – 40 minutes, until the Brussels are soft. (You might need to cover the dish with tin
foil for the last half.) Serve hot and scoop up the juices from the baking dish, and pour over the veggies once you’ve transferred them to plates.

 

 

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce 4 2Homemade marinara sauce is incomparable to store-bought sauce. The ingredients are perfectly blended to give you a herby, tomato-y sauce packed with flavour, and all of the ingredients are easy to come by. You can add a cup of cream if you like, and I tend to alternate. With ravioli, I add cream. With meatballs and spaghetti, I leave it out. It’s entirely up to you. I use both tinned whole tomatoes and fresh baby tomatoes. When the baby tomatoes burst, they release a wonderful flavour that’s tastier than large tomatoes.

Marinara sauce is versatile and doesn’t have to be limited to pasta. You can use it in casseroles if you want a tomato-based flavour and it makes a wonderful tomato soup. I’ve used it on meatloaf many times, or blitz it in the food processor and serve with a ciabatta as a soup. Once you’ve made this sauce, you will realise its potential to be used in many different dishes and it’s easy! Like, super mission-free and takes a total of half an hour.

Marinara Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Marinara Sauce ingredients500g baby tomatoes
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
7 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
Basil leaves
Fresh parsley for garnishing
Mozzarella for sprinkling (optional)
1 cup cream (optional)
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Salt and pepper

Making it happen:

Marinara Sauce 101. Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the garlic, onion and oregano and fry for 5 minutes.

 

 

Marinara sauce 62. Add the baby tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Turn down the heat, add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes, with the lid on for the first 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
OPTIONAL: Stir in the cream. Top the dish with mozzarella and fresh parsley.

 

Marinara sauce 8 23. The sauce boils down, with the baby tomatoes bursting and releasing their flavour.

 

 

Marinara sauce 1Serve with a variety of food – in this case meatballs and spaghetti.

 

 

 

Crispy Cheese Potato Bake with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 8What’s better than cheese? Crispy cheese. Yes, please and thanks in advance. This dish is quick and easy to prepare and deliciously tasty. Creamy potatoes, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms topped with bubbling cheddar, it requires no cheese sauce. The onion soup powder, when combined with the cream, thickens perfectly in the oven, leaving you with perfectly cooked veggies smothered in crispy melted cheese.

Crispy Cheese Potato Bake with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 14-5 potatoes, thinly sliced
300g Brussels sprouts, par-cooked and halved
200g chopped mushrooms
60g white onion soup powder
1 cup cream
300g grated cheddar
Paprika
Non-stick spray

Making it happen:

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 31. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Turn the heat down to 180°C (350°F) as soon as you put the dish in. Spray a deep casserole dish with non-stick spray. Par-cook the Brussels sprouts until they’re just tender.
Thinly slice the potatoes and place half of the potatoes across the casserole dish. Place half of the mushrooms and Brussels on top of the potatoes.

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 52. Sprinkle half the packet of soup powder over the veggies and sprinkle paprika evenly over the soup powder. Put half the cheddar evenly on top. Repeat.

 

 

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 73. Pour the cream evenly over the dish and bake for 45 minutes until the cheese is crispy.

 

 

 

Crispy Cheddar Veggie Bake 10 1If you’re not into crispy cheese (say it ain’t so), cook for 30 minutes. If you are…

<— This.

 

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

I love roast potatoes. I would happily live on them if I didn’t mind not being able to fit through doorways. They are a staple for any roast, though, and I always add pan drippings but you can make these potatoes without them. Reason? You roast them in chicken stock with rosemary and garlic, and that gives them flavour in abundance! They roast in the stock which boils down and leaves you with crispy, rosemary and garlic-infused potatoes. Don’t turn them halfway through as they will break up. It’s pretty simple – add all the ingredients, pop the roasting tray in the oven and leave until they’re golden brown. Hashtag droolfest.

Note that I didn’t add garlic to this dish because I used pan drippings from my roast chicken, which contained copious amount of garlic. However, if you’re not using pan drippings, add either a tablespoon of minced garlic or 6 crushed garlic cloves.

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

  • Servings: 6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roast potatoes 1Supplies:

  • 2kg potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Leaves from 1-2 rosemary sprigs (1 if large, 2 if smaller)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pan drippings/roast chicken juices (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic/6 crushed cloves (if not using pan drippings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Making it happen:

Roast potatoes 31. Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F).
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Drizzle olive oil over them and stir to fully coat them. Add the rosemary (and garlic if applicable) and thoroughly stir. Pour the chicken stock (and roast chicken juices if applicable) over the potatoes, stir and place in the oven on the middle shelf.

 

Roast potatoes 42. Roast for 1½ hours until they’re crispy and the stock has boiled down. Serve hot.

 

Baked Crumbed Potato Balls

Crumbed potato balls 5 2I love potatoes. Everyone does. Even if they’re on a health kick and say they prefer cauliflower mash (shudder). They’re lying or in denial. The Husband is obsessed with mashed potatoes. I, on the other hand, prefer them roasted. I get bored of plain ol’ mash. There’s nothing wrong with it but I enjoy variety. Enter this recipe. Because the potatoes aren’t enough (when are they ever not enough?) I added cheese, formed balls and crumbed. Clearly that still wasn’t good enough so I drizzled butter over them and baked. I was pressed for time and didn’t fancy the idea of standing in the kitchen frying them while my guests were at the dinner table so I baked them. Try this. It’s easy, creamy, crispy and cheesy.

Baked Crumbed Potato Balls

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients for the mashed potatoes:
2kg potatoes, peeled and boiled
100g butter
⅓ cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the potato balls:
2kg mashed potatoes (see mash recipe below)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
75ml milk
100g corn flake crumbs
100g melted butter

Directions for the mash: 

Peel and boil the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes in the microwave. Drain and mash. Add the butter and stir. Pour in the milk and sour cream, mix well and mash again. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Give it one last good stir. It’s easier to work with the mash if it’s cold, so refrigerate it for an hour.

Directions for the potato balls:

Crumbed potato balls 1 21. Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Once the mash has cooled, add the grated cheese and mix well, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Put two heaped tablespoons of mash in your hand and form into balls.

 

Crumbed potato balls 3 22. Mix the eggs in a bowl and add the milk. Stir to combine. Put the bread crumbs in a separate dish. Dip the potato balls into the egg mixture on all sides and roll in the bread crumbs, covering the whole ball. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the mash.

 

 

Crumbed potato balls 4 23. Put the balls into a large dish, heat the butter and drizzle over them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve fresh and hot. No one likes cold balls.

 

Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Shiitake mushrooms add a woody flavour and meaty texture to a traditional creamy mushroom soup so if you’re looking for a little something extra, this is your guy. It involves frying and simmering and I use the same pot so it’s low on cleaning. I like the convenience factor! Delicious as a soup, this recipe can be used as a sauce too because when it boils down, it’s thick enough to pour over a juicy steak or tender chicken breasts. Versatility and convenience plus it takes half an hour and doesn’t require you to monitor it throughout, just the occasional stir once it’s simmering.

Prep time: 5 minutes     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Shiitake Mushroom Soup Ingredients120g shiitake mushrooms
400g white button mushrooms, chopped
6 leeks, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
750ml (¾litre) low sodium vegetable stock (1 stock cube/sachet to 750ml water)
250ml (1 cup) cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Shiitake Mushroom Soup 1 2Cut the shiitake mushrooms into quarters and chop the white button mushrooms. Slice the leeks. On medium-low heat in a large pot, fry the leeks and shiitake mushrooms for five minutes. (You may remove half of the shiitakes at this point for garnishing if so desired.) Add the white button mushrooms and garlic and fry for another 10 minutes on medium-low. Pour in the stock and add the thyme, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

 

Shiitake Mushroom Soup 8 2Pour the contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the cream and simmer for five minutes. Splash in the lemon juice and flavour with salt and pepper. Garnish with the remaining shiitake mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

Shiitake Mushroom Soup 7 2 3

Crispy Roast Potatoes

No roast is complete without roast potatoes. Getting them to crisp is so easy, but it is time consuming. If you have some time to spare, I would definitely recommend this recipe.

Crispy Roast Potatoes

Servings: 4     Prep time:     25 minutes     Cooking time: 40 – 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 large potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Water for boiling
Method:
Preheat your oven to 220°C. Pour the oil into a roasting tray and heat it for 15 minutes.
While the oil is heating up, peel the potatoes and halve them. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and boil the potatoes for 10 minutes on high. After 10 minutes, drain them in a colander and shake the potatoes around in the colander to “rough up” the edges. This is one factor that contributes to their crispiness.
Once the oil has heated after 15 minutes, add the potatoes to the oil in the roasting tray. Roll each potato around in the oil so that all the sides and covered with oil. This is the other half a factor to crisping them. Sprinkle with salt and return the tray to the oven.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until they have browned nicely and crisped to your satisfaction.
Enjoy!