Seriously Green Sauce

This is a super simple, super fast sauce.

 Light but creamy it is delicious on pasta and zucchini noodles. Or you can drizzle it over chicken or salmon for an extra flavour boost.

  • 75g spinach
  • 15 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 medium avocado, very ripe
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50ml fresh lemon juice
  • Good pinch salt

Pop all of the ingredients into a high powered blender/bullet and blitz until smooth.

If the sauce is too thick add in a splash of water to help it blend.

If you’re using a Thermomix/Bellini or any of their cousins, you’ll need to use speed 6 for 10 seconds, scrape down and repeat and then turn up to speed 10 for 6 seconds at a time, scrape down and repeat as required until smooth

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If macros are important to you, here’s the breakdown for a heaped tablespoon (about 1/5 of the recipe)

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We like to have ours with zucchini noodles.

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Use a spiralizer for the zucchini, then add the zoodles into a hot frying pan. Add in enough sauce to coat the zoodles and stir until warm.

Extra delicious if you top them with some grilled chicken, tomatoes and pine nuts!

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Enjoy 😊

Fragrant Stewed Apples (and the best ever apple sauce!)

Such simple comfort food!

We often wind up making this recipe when the apples (or pears!) we’ve bought are really floury or soft but we don’t want them to go to waste. My biggest little one is very excited whenever this recipe appears. He has Oral Allergy Syndrome and reacts quite badly to raw apple, but cooked he can handle it!!

Like most of my recipes I take the simple (lazy?!) option!

As well as taking less time, leaving  the skin on the fruit is terrific for the added fibre and nutrients. Very simple, and you don’t need to add any extra sweeteners.

  • 6 apples (whichever kind you like)
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/4 cup water

Thermal Cooker Method: Core and slice the apples, place them in the machine, sprinkle over cinnamon and cloves. Then use a peeler to remove the yellow layer only of the lemon. Add the strips to the top of the apples.

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Add in the water and set for 15 minutes, speed 1, ST.

Stove top method: place all of the ingredients into a large sauce pan, cook, stirring frequently, with the lid on in between stirring. Will take about 15-20 minutes on the stove.

If you want a sweeter fruit desert, add in a handful of sultanas during the last few minutes of cooking.

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Place in an air tight container in the fridge and use for up to a week. Remove the peel and cloves before serving.

If you want a most delicious, fragrant, thick apple sauce instead, follow the same steps as above, then remove the lemon rind and either transfer to a blender or set a speed 4 for 15 seconds, scrape down and repeat.

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How can I use stewed apples?

  • Eat them on their own!
  • Mix it with yoghurt for breakfast or dessert
  • Use it as a topping for your soaked overnight oats
  • Add it to your cereal
  • Add in some roasted, crunchy nuts and have it for an afternoon ‘pick-me-up’
  • Serve it as a side to a soft tea cake

And the sauce?

  • Perfect if you’re doing baby food
  • Mix it through yoghurt
  • Use it as an egg or sugar replacer in cakes and baking (check out my Apple, Pumpkin and Oat muffins, or my Maple Cinnamon Weet-bix slice)
  • Use it with you next pork roast or pulled pork burgers.
  • Freeze it in ice cube trays so you can grab it out at short notice
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Delicious with yoghurt for dessert!

Enjoy 🙂

Sneaky pasta sauce (aka Cheesey ‘mato pasta)

I feel like I’m giving away family secrets here …. Sorry Mum!

When my brother and I were little, if Mum and Dad were going out and we were having a babysitter come over (which wasn’t often I should add!) we’d always have an ‘easy meal’ … read; Fish fingers or Cheesey tomato pasta.

Cheesey Tomato pasta was my favourite …. a bowl of spaghetti with a tin of condensed tomato soup stirred through it and a handful of cheese sprinkled over the top so that it would melt as you stirred it …. kid heaven!

Well, these days, our family diet doesn’t look much like that but there are still times when an ‘easy meal’ is required …. ‘cheesey ‘mato pasta’ as it has become known in our house, is a hands down winner. Inhaled every time. Full tummies and a happy, easy dinner time – there’s a lot to be said for that!!

  • 1 small butternut pumpkin (roughly 800g before peeling and seeding)
  • Large zucchini
  • 1 tin chick peas (kidney beans and butter beans work well too)
  • 100ml coconut cream (I like the Aayam brand)*
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4  heaped tbsp of my cheesey sprinkles **
  • Optional: a little hot water
  • Pasta of choice

*We also swap out the coconut cream for 2 tbsp of tahini

**If you haven’t made the cheesey sprinkles you can replace it with 4tbsp nutritional yeast and 2 tbsp hemp seeds

Set a big pot of slightly salted water to boil for your pasta of choice (we use a GF variety).

Peel and dice the pumpkin, then steam until soft – usually a few minutes in the microwave when this kind of dinner is required.

Dice and steam the zucchini in the last couple of minutes with the pumpkin (peel it first if your little people are detectives for any green ‘bits’!)

Place the steamed veg and chick peas with the extra water (if necessary), into your blender/processor/bullet/thermal cooker together with the tomato paste and coconut cream/tahini and blend until smooth (Start on speed 4 and work up to speed 6, for 10 seconds, then scrape down and repeat). Add in cheesey sprinkles and blend again (speed 6, 8 secs)

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Cook and drain your pasta, then return to the saucepan and pour over the sauce.

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Top with a little addition cheese of choice if you like.

Sneaky Pasta
Topped with Bio Cheese

Top with some crispy bacon if you wish – or fried mushrooms to keep it vegan.

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This makes enough sauce for about 3 dinners, just freeze the leftovers.

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You can use this for the sauce in pasta bakes or even double it for shared suppers (and Sunday School dinners in our case!). Add in extra veggies if you like, or throw in some left over bbq chook or sausages.

Enjoy 🙂

Creamy Avocado dressing

Salad dressings are bit of a challenge when you are dealing with food allergies, or if you want healthier options! The store bought variety are mostly loaded with sugars plus stabilisers and emulsifiers that we tend to avoid when possible.

As such, we  have just mostly avoided dressings – when I do use them, a vinaigrette of some description is my normal ‘go-to’, but occasionally the mood strikes for something a bit different and creamy!

This super simple dressing is amazing! Creamy and rich, it holds beautifully to salads that you toss through it and it’s delightful  drizzled on salmon or chicken … maybe even lamb or beef, but I haven’t tried that yet!

  • the flesh of one avocado, very ripe
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped dill
  • a good pinch pink salt flakes
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Optional: If you want a more liquid version of the dressing, add in 1 tbsp of Aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chick peas)

Place all ingredients into your blender/processor/bullet/thermal cooker and process until smooth. (Speed 5, 8 seconds, scrape down and repeat).

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Oops – I forgot to take a photo of the whole batch!

Tonight we tossed a good tablespoon of the dressing through a raw broccoli and beetroot salad and then topped our baked salmon with some more! Divine!

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This quantity of dressing is probably enough for 5-6 people, and lasts a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Enjoy 🙂

Roasted Tomato Confit

We have had such a lovely abundance of cherry tomatoes this year. But then we have had some crazily inconsistent weather – and tomatoes don’t like inconsistent watering …. so we picked a load that had split. Gr. What to do?

I remember my host family in France (from a loooong time ago) had all kids of amazing confit jars (confit is French for preserved) in their cool basement. Lots of meats and veggies to get them through a snowy, regional winter. Since I couldn’t bear to waste these little gems, I decided to have a go at my own confit with my little red gems.

You’ll need:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • fresh herbs (I use basil, rosemary and thyme)
  • garlic olive oil*
  • salt and pepper

*If you don’t have have garlic infused oil, use olive oil and scatter through a handful of crushed garlic cloves.

Wash and pat dry your tomatoes. Remove little stems.

Place in a lined baking dish.

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Tear herbs and scatter around the tomatoes. Drizzle very generously with oil, and season in salt and pepper to taste.

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Place in a preheated 200C oven for about 40 minutes.

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Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tray and then scoop into a sterile glass jar, including all the juices. Top with a little extra oil before sealing.

Store in the fridge for up to a month.

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Roasting the tomato really intensifies the flavour so this confit is a great addition to many things – Serve on crunchy toast as a bruschetta, spread it on a pizza base, or add a few good scoops into your tomato bases sauces for pasta, bolognese or lasagne.

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We gave some away as a gift – and this is how my gorgeous SIL used hers! Yum!

Enjoy 🙂

Salmon and broccoli salad with avocado pesto

I found myself singing Powderfinger’s ‘My Happiness’ while I was making this for dinner  last night!! And I think, probably, if I was Julie Andrews I’d be singing ‘My favourite things’ about most of the ingredients in this dish –  salmon, seeds, spinach, broccoli and avocado!!

Such a fabulous combination, loaded with fibre, great fats, calcium, iron, vitamin C, E, Magnesium …. and the list goes on!

It is a really lovely subtle flavour  – and I’m very happy to be anticipating the left overs for lunch!

As much as I’d love to be making this with a large slab of fresh, wild caught salmon …. our food budget doesn’t often stretch to that, but the benefits of salmon are great and we try to eat it regularly – so tinned it is! Try to buy a wild caught and sustainable brand, and choose one that is tinned in water, rather than loaded with oils and other additions.

  • 3 tbsp my basil and spinach nut free pesto
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped and steamed
  • 400g tin salmon, skin removed, flaked
  • pinch pink salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Mix together the pesto, lemon juice and avocado until well combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Remove the skin from the tinned salmon and the large bones – but leave in the tiny bones as they mash up well and provide and extra boost of calcium (really important for our little miss who is deficient).

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Stir the pesto mix through the chopped broccoli, while it is still hot, then stir through the salmon.

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I am very happy to eat this as a meal on its own – but the kids …. not so much! So I stir theirs through some pasta. And tonight I added a handful of left over roasted veg to mine as well.

 

I also enjoy this salad with raw broccoli and I add in grated raw beetroot.

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Enjoy 🙂

 

Spinach and Basil Pesto

Pesto is such a yummy addition to so many meals, but with pine nuts and parmesan being a standard in most recipes, it’s normally not an option for us.

But this year my both my basil and my spinach are growing great guns so I was inspired to make a pesto that would use our fresh produce and be safe.

  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 packed cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt flakes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (50g)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (40g)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds (40g)
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil

Dry fry the seeds in a hot frying pan. Keep a close eye on them, stirring regularly, as it only takes a couple of minutes for them to go golden brown.

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Add all ingredients, except the olive oil to your blender/processor/thermal cooker and process until quite fine (speed 8, 6 secs, scrape down and repeat).

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Process again as you slowly drizzle the oil through the top opening of the machine (speed 4). Process until oil is well combined.

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Use immediately or freeze in ice cubes for future use. Makes about 1 cup.

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Some ideas for use:

  • Rub onto chicken pieces or salmon before baking
  • Add in a handful of sun-dried tomatoes at the processing stage and stir through pasta (Especially awesome if you top with some crispy bacon and home made garlic croutons!)
  • Fold through some cream cheese (soy based or dairy) or a ripe, mashed avocado as a great dip.
  • If you enjoy the Parmesan flavour that a lot of pesto has, add in a tbsp of Nutritional Yeast

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Enjoy 🙂

Roasted Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

  • pumpkin (approx 900g before peeling and de-seeding)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 400g tin chic peas, drained (but keep the brine ‘aquafaba’ as an egg replacer)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup hot chicken or vegetable stock (I used Massel)
  • 1 tsbp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream (optional)

Peel, de-seed and cut up pumpkin into small pieces. Try to keep them roughly the same size.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of oil plus the salt, pepper and thyme over the pumpkin and toss well to coat. Place into a large baking dish and spread out evenly.

Place into a pre-heated hot oven and roast for about 45 minutes, tossing after about 25 minutes.

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In a large pan, heat the remaining oil. Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the oil, and cooking, stirring until translucent.

(In a Thermal cooker, blitz the onion and garlic on speed 5 for about 8 seconds, then add oil and cook on steam temp, speed 1 for about 3-4 minutes with the m/c off).

Place the pumpkin, chic peas, nutritional yeast, stock and onion mix to a processor and process until smooth.

(In a Thermal cooker, add the pumpkin, stock, nutritional yeast and chic peas to the onion mix, then process on speed 5 for about 20 seconds, scrape down and repeat until smooth, combined consistency is reached).

Add coconut cream if using and mix to combine (Speed 4, 10 seconds).

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Stir through your favourite al dente cooked pasta.

I love to add a large handful of baby spinach and top with a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts or toasted sunflower seeds.

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Yum – Enjoy 🙂

 

Preserving Chilli

There’s not much nicer in the kitchen than being able to cook with the food that you have grown only metres away!

Our chilli plants have been very productive this summer and these are a couple of the ways I have used them.

Chopped/Minced Chilli – use 1 flat tsp in place of 1 fresh chopped chilli in any recipe.

  • 150g chilli
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar.

Place whole chillis and vinegar in your processor and process until well chopped. (Speed 6, 10 seconds).

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Of course, if you don’t have a processor you can just finely chop by hand and then stir through the vinegar.

Store in small, sterilised glass jars.

Chilli Infused Olive Oil – use in place of regular olive oil in cooking to add a bit of extra bite, or as a dip for some delicious crunchy bread.

  • 400ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 small chillis (mine were the size of my index finger)

Slice chillis lengthways and place in a saucepan with the oil.

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Bring to a gentle simmer  (100C, Speed 1, about 4-5 minutes) and then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Pour into sterilised glass bottles, through a sieve to remove the seeds. Then add the remaining chilli flesh into the bottles and seal.

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Enjoy all year ’round 🙂

Gravy

You have probably read about my Mum being a fabulous cook many times on this blog. I’m always hopeful that I can come close to approximating her meals with our dietary limitations.

However, as a kid, I only remember gravy being made in instant form from powder in a packet (Sorry Mum!)… most probably because it was much quick and less fatty. So as an adult learning how to make gravy has been a bit of a challenge for me…. and it seems I’m not alone! It was always a little hit and miss until I recently saw a very old episode of ‘Good Eats’, hosted by Alton Brown. His method for making gravy was to thicken with a roux (fat and flour), so that the flour has already cooked out before it combines with the meat juices. And now we get great gravy every time.

I tend to cook in bulk, and gravy is no exception. This recipe makes about 3 cups of gravy. I pour into reusable squeezey containers and freeze. It means when I cook a leg of lamb that does us for 3 meals – I have the gravy ready to go for each of the following meals too.

  • 3 cups Meat juices (I get about this from a large leg of lamb that I have slow cooked)
  • 2 tbsp fat (either from the meat or Nuttelex)
  • 2 tbsp flour (I use either spelt or a GF flour mix)

A general ratio of 1 tbsp fat, 1 tbsp flour to each 1.5 cups of liquid.

After I have removed the meat, I strain the meat juices and reserve the liquid.

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Sit the liquid in the fridge for a couple of hours so that the fat separates and solidifies on the top. Then I scoop off the fat.

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In a medium saucepan warm the juices back up – they will be quite jelly-like after cooling.

In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, melt your fat of choice, either the fat scooped off the top of the top of the cooled meat juice or use Nuttelex.

Then add in your flour. Whisk it to combine well. This is your roux and it needs to cook for about 4-5 minutes, whisking regularly, to allow the raw taste of the flour to cook out.

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Then add 1/2 a cup of the warmed meat juices at a time into the roux, whisking whilst you add, and waiting till all combined before you add the next 1/2 cup.

Cooking, whisking regularly over a very gentle heat until you see the mixture come to a very slight simmer. Remove from the heat and serve with your meal.

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Silky smooth!

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Mixtures thickened with flour will continue to thicken on cooling, so try to serve as soon as possible. You can add a little boiling water if you wish to have runnier gravy.

Of course, you can use this method for all meats and add extra flavours to intensify those already in the juices.

Enjoy!