Mexican Rice and Beans

Generally I make up a pot of chili con carne and serve it over rice… but one night, I decided to rather incorporate everything into one pot and which lead to my version of a “Mexican Rice and Beans“.

An easy(ish) mid-week meal that tastes great!

And of course, Mommy’s little helper got in on the action as well 😉

Mexican Rice and Beans

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1Tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
tin of tomato paste
500ml Passata
425g tin of red kidney beans (I like to use the variant that is already in chilli sauce)
1 green pepper – diced
200g tin of sweetcorn
500ml stock (I prefer to use chicken stock – which means that this isn’t vegetarian)
1teaspoon brown sugar
1 and half cups long grain rice

  • Heat frying pan over a medium heat
  • Add cumin, allspice, chilli flakes and paprika and *dry fry* for about a minute to release the flavours
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 2-3minutes
  • Add garlic and rice and cook for a further minute
  • Add the tomato paste, passata, sugar and stock
  • Bring to the boil
  • Reduce the heat and add beans, green pepper & sweetcorn.
  • Simmer, covered for 15-20minutes, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked

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White Mushroom Lasagna

A colleague recently reminded me about the HelloFresh concept (weekly delivery of ingredients & recipes for a certain number of meals for the family) and offered for me to try a box on a *free* coupon that she had been given. I had tried the concept in July last year (read the review here) and thought that the concept was pretty good, but I didn’t like the fact that recipes/website were in Dutch only and that there wasn’t much choice when it came to the meals each week.

The good news is that they have evolved!! Although the website is still only available in Dutch or French, you do get an email that allows you download the recipes in English just before your order is delivered. AND you can choose within 10 menu’s that change weekly! (Another bonus is that I notice that their price has remained the same=> 53€ for 5 meals for 2 people)

We got an original box => 5 meals for 2 people. And I have to say that a few of those meals were portioned for 3 rather than 2… meaning that we have some soup in the freezer and HIM or I could have leftovers for lunch the next day. One of those meals was the White Mushroom Lasagna – which was delicious but very filling & rich!

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I have never made a bĂ©chamel / white sauce like this before – but talk about hiding the vegetables!!

We are currently signed up for a regular original box and I am loving the fact that for a few nights each week, I don’t have to *think* about “What’s for supper?” and the ingredients/groceries required – PLUS it has allowed us to widen our repertoire of cooking (and eating) and increase our vegetable intake. Indeed… we are definitely getting our 5-a-day in now! (I also signed up for their wine box but that is another story :))

This recipe is definitely a make again AND perfect for a vegetarian!

White Mushroom Lasagna
4 portions

1 head of cauliflower
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
200ml single cream
50g cheese, grated
lasagna sheets
500ml vegetable stock
butter
6 Tablespoons flour

  • Cut cauliflower in smaller pieces and using a food processor, make into crumbs
  • Gently fry the onion & garlic & cauliflower in 2 tablespoons of butter for 2minutes in a deep saucepan. Remove from heat
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan
  • Stir in the flour, mixing for 2minutes at a medium heat
  • Add stock slowly, mixing well with a whisk to avoid lumps
  • Bring to the boil, then add the cauliflower mix along with the mushrooms to the sauce
  • Add the single cream and 1/3 of the cheese (along with Salt & Pepper to taste)
  • leave on the heat for 2minutes
  • in an oven dish, layer the lasagna sheets & sauce => repeating until all the sauce is used up
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese
  • Bake at 200C for 20-25minutes

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Roasted butternut and blue cheese frittata

Using up leftovers is a new recipe is always fulfilling – even more so when the meal turns out tasty. However,  I must point out that HIM wasn’t a huge fan as he said the frittata was actually too sweet… owing to the fact that I used deliciously sweet roasted butternut – but I enjoyed it…

A frittata is essentially a crustless quiche… and because there are times when I don’t have store-bought ready-made pastry in my fridge (in fact… almost never) and because I was too lazy to whip up my own pastry on a week night – I figured that a frittata would be perfectly acceptable as a mid-week meal.

Right?

My inspiration came from Woolworths Taste Magazine (online) recipe for a roasted butternut quiche – but I didn’t use the puff pastry or the grana padano… but rather used up some leftover blue cheese (from my birthday afternoon tea).

Would I make it again? yes… but I might add some bacon or something really salty to balance the flavour combinations of sweet (the roasted butternut) and the creamy (the blue cheese). This recipe makes 3 decent sized portions.

butternut frittata

Roasted Butternut and blue cheese frittata

1 peeled butternut, cubed (~500g)
150g blue cheese, crumbled (more or less depending on your own personal taste)
3 eggs
200g cream cheese (room temperature)
Olive Oil
salt & pepper

  • Place cubed butternut on a roasting tray sprinkled with olive oil and salt/pepper – and roast in a preheated oven (230C) for 15-20min, until cooked
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool
  • Place into an oven-proof baking dish with the blue cheese
  • Beat eggs with the cream cheese & pour over the butternut & cheese
  • Place in an pre-heated oven (180C) for 20-30minutes (slightly brown and set)

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Courgette Fritters

We have been so blessed in Brussels with some beautiful sunny spring/summer days. And because of this – I haven’t felt the need to settle down on the couch after putting Little Miss to bed and finishing up the chores… because the sun is still up and shining at 8/9pm at night!

Therefore, I have made a few more recipes and been able to blog a bit more – yippee!

We had a glut of courgette and I am trying to find some different recipes to try out … so when I saw this Courgette Fritter recipe on the BBC Good Food Website – I knew it was going to be on the list!

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As simple as 1-2-3 and delicious served with a side of sweet chilli sauce (I used the bottled variety as I don’t have THAT much energy 🙂 ) – and I added 50g of grated parmesan to the mix as well.

Would I make it again – yes, it took about 5-10minutes to make the batter and the same amount of time to cook the fritters – so if you are looking for a quick and easy snack/side/starter – this is it!

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Courgette Fritters

1 courgette (grated)
50g flour
2 eggs
50g parmesan
50ml milk
seasonings
oil (for frying)

  • Place flour in a mixing bowl
  • Whisk in the eggs
  • Gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth batter
  • Stir in the courgette & parmesan and season well
  • Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan
  • Cook spoonful’s of the batter turning after 2-3minutes until golden

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Goats cheese and chive soufflĂ©

This is probably considered a *cheat* post – but in my defense…  I had watched the same episode of Hairy Bikers making these Goats cheese & chive soufflĂ©’s as my friend… and I was in her kitchen at the time of their making (I even beat the egg whites…before they were folded in) … NOT to mention the speedy consumption of the finished product.

But I have to confess that they were not made in my own kitchen by my own 2 hands, but instead by my wonderfully talented friend Sarah…

The recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website here

And is a definite crowd pleaser! These were made into individual dishes (6 portions) and in my humble opinion was a better idea than in one dish… as they have a tendency to collapse after a certain amount of time – plus plating from one dish isn’t as pretty!

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Goats cheese & chive Soufflé

300ml milk
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of thyme
300g goats cheese
50g butter
50g flour
4 eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons of chives (finely chopped)

  • Using baking parchment paper, create a collar for each of your butter greased ramekins (remember to butter the parchment paper too!)
  • Place milk with onion, bay leaf & thyme into a pot. Bring to a simmer and then leave to cool for 15min. Then strain into a jug
  • Cut the rind off the goats cheese and slice into smallish pieces
  • Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and then gradually add the milk stirring between addition to create a smooth but thick consistency
  • Leave on the heat for a further 2 minutes before stirring in the cheese
  • Whisk egg yolks and stir into milk mixture until smooth
  • Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture (starting with 1 ladleful)
  • Pour into your greased ramekins & bake on a preheated baking tray for 20-25min at 220C

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Zucchini and Potato Au Gratin (SRC)

And it’s that time again… Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! (which means Secret Santa style recipe swaps – for those who don’t know)

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And this month – I got Amy’s Cooking Adventures… a fellow food blogger who loves reading as much as I do… who is also a mommy (two on earth & one in heaven… this story about her little Sarah Catherine who was stillborn really made be blub BIG time…) And not only does this incredible woman do domestic goddess status with style – but she also authors TWO blogs (the other is Amy’s Confectionery Adventures – which showcases some seriously beautiful baking), wife to Hubs & stay at home mum to her 2 boys (affectionately named *dude* & *spud*), she teaches Zumba classes and still finds time to read, scrapbook & sew!

Impressive…

But not only is her life impressive, but so is her blog… with a whole range of yumminess, I didn’t know where to start… Well, I did… the same way you eat an elephant… one bite at a time 🙂

Recipes that had me drooling include her Rosemary Pan Bread, carrot cake cookies, and Pumpkin Banana Muffins but finally decided on her Light Zucchini & Potato Au Gratin (I substituted the bechamel sauce for cream and added bread crumb Parmesan topping. but everything else was the same)… and it was SO GOOD!

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Zucchini & Potato Au Gratin

250ml cream
450g potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 and half cups of grated cheese mixed with a cup of breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

  • Alternate rows of zucchini & potato (salting gently between) in an ovenproof dish, with 1/2 cup of cheese and a 1/3 of the cream
  • Repeat until all ingredients are used up
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45-60minutes at 190C until potatoes are tender
  • Remove the foil and leave the top to crisp for a further 10minutes

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Healthy Vegetable Samosas

My recipe choice is often based on the food I have in the fridge… so when my lovely Greek colleague (who saved my bacon by being my replacement for 4months while I was on maternity leave) gave me the contents of her fridge/cupboard before she returned to Athens… I decided to find a recipe to use up the Filo Pastry that was included in this goodie bag!

I have a whole range of Weight Watchers cookbooks (even if I don’t follow the program) and found this recipe in one of them (but you can also find it online here).

I adapted it slightly by using a teaspoon of medium curry powder mixture instead of their mix of cumin/coriander/chilli/turmeric… etc . And I do love the idea of oven baking as opposed to frying… and for any purists out there… I am well aware that filo pastry is not the pastry normally used for Samosas… so these aren’t traditionally Indian, but they sure do taste good!

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Would I make it again? Yes – especially when I have wonderful Sous Chef’s like M and Tabs who rolled and made the gorgeous triangles … while I only added value by making the mixture 🙂

Healthy Vegetable Samosas

2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 medium carrot, peeled & diced
1 onion, finely chopped
50g peas
1 heaped teaspoon medium curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 sheets Filo Pastry (or until you use up all the mixture)

  • Boil carrots & potatoes in a pot of water until softened
  • Drain & partially mash
  • In a frying pan, cook onion, garlic & peas
  • Stir into the potato mixture along with the curry powder
  • Cut filo pastry into strips
  • Placing a tablespoon of the mixture on one side, fold over and over to make a triangle
  • use a bit of water to seal the mixture when you come to the end
  • Bake at 160C for 30min

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Oven Baked Zucchini Fries

On one of my last days of maternity – I looked into the abyss that is our fridge and decided that I needed to add a few more veggies to our diet 🙂

PLUS I had been inspired by one of my favourite tv shows called My Kitchen Rules (an Australian based reality tv show showcasing home cook pairs vying for fame, fortune and of course tv notoriety!)

Anyway – I digress… I saw one pair cook up some of these on one the episodes, so I did a bit of a google search and find the following recipe on All Recipes. They can be served as a nibble, starter or as an accompaniment to a meal.

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A definite make again…. not quite the same as deep-fried potato chips… but juicy, tasty and super easy (plus a great way to get in some veggies!)

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Oven Baked Zucchini Fries

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
2 zucchini, washed & sliced into strips
2 eggs, beaten and in a shallow dish
cooking spray

  • Line a baking tray with foil & spray with cooking spray
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan in a shallow dish
  • Dip the zucchini strips into the beaten egg and then into the crumb mix
  • Place onto the baking tray
  • Bake at 220C for 20-25minutes

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Aubergine Caprese Salad

As already mentioned… our lives have changed recently with a new arrival in the family (a gorgeous baby girl… and even though we know that we are biased about her beauty… our friends & family seem to agree with us :))

But this is also means that I am on maternity leave… and learning to live with a whole new schedule… which includes being awake around 4am…

Now most of you would be encouraging me to go back to sleep… but for some bizarre reason, I can go to sleep at the same time as her at 9pm.. and back to sleep instantly after the midnight feed… but after the 3am feed, I am normally WIDE-AWAKE… so I thought I may as well make the most of this time … right??

This does not mean that I am baking or cooking at this hour… but it does mean that I can get some writing time… and I can also go through my “must make”  recipe pile!

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I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (July 2013 issue) – although they called theirs “melting middles aubergine parcels” with focus on BBQ cooking & eating. The only difference to my interpretation is that after constructing the parcels – I didn’t put them back on a grill to melt the mozzarella – mostly because HIM looked at me strangely and said “But Caprese salad is eaten cold??”. (FYI – Caprese salad = mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil salad). And of course – I used ready-made pesto as opposed to making my own (why? Because I have a 2week old baby to look after … so short cuts are my favourite thing in the kitchen at the moment :))

This is a yummy tapas, starter, vegetarian or main meal kind of dish and would definitely be made again in our house!

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Aubergine Caprese Salad

2 aubergine, sliced long ways
olive oil
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 mozzarella balls, drained & sliced
basil leave
ready-made pesto

  • Brush slices of aubergine with olive oil and either grill or fry them (I fried mine)
  • spread a small amount of pesto onto each cooked slice of aubergine, add a slice of tomato & a slice of mozzarella and then using a toothpick – wrap the aubergine slice around & secure
  • You can either add the basil to the wraps or on the plate
  • Season with salt/pepper to taste and a good drizzle of olive oil is an added extra!
  • Serve either warm or at room temperature with extra pesto

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Asparagus Risotto

This dismal winter weather that is setting in, makes me crave comfort food!

And what better comfort food is there…than Italian!!! The cheese & carb combinations of this wonderful country make me smile 🙂 From Pizza to Pasta to Risotto (to name a few) – this cuisine choice has flavour written all over it! Taking simple (but good) ingredients and turning them into a bowl of YUM!

I re-created (& adapted) Francesco Mazzei recipe that was in the Delicious Magazine – by replacing the prosecco with white wine (it was wine from Puglia that we had bought from Olivetus – so I knew it was still QUALITY!). And I used Arborio instead of carnaroli rice.

Arborio:  is the most widely available risotto rice, typically wider & longer, & not as starchy . But the downside is that it absorbs liquid a little less well.

Carnaroli: Variously hailed as the “king” or the “caviar” of all Italian rice. It’s said to produce the creamiest risotto, yet it’s more resistant to overcooking than arborio. Normally available in specialty shops.

Would I make it again? yes…  it is full of flavour – doesn’t require a lot of work & is ready in less than 30min. It does however require your full attention during this time – as stirring and slowly ladling in stock is essential!

Asparagus Risotto

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200g asparagus
350g Arborio Rice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
35g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
125ml white wine
800ml-1l stock (if you use chicken stock like I did – this is obviously no longer vegetarian)
Fresh nutmeg
30g parmesan – grated
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped

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  • Trim the tips of the asparagus off & place to one side
  • finely slice the stems
  • Heat a large pan with the dry rice – until gently warm, stirring – do not let it brown
  • In a large pot, heat oil & 5g of butter – fry onion for 4-5min until soft
  • Add warm rice – stirring until translucent
  • Add white wine & boil to evaporate alcohol
  • Add stock – one ladle at a time – stirring continuously.
  • Only adding the next ladle of stock when the previous one has been absorbed
  • after 10min – add asparagus stems
  • In another pan, heat 5g butter & little olive oil & fry asparagus tips with a grating of nutmeg until tender
  • When rice is done, switch off the pot, place a lid on top & leave to rest for 5-10minutes
  • Add rest of the butter, parmesan & herbs & give one more stir
  • Serve topped with the asparagus and little bit more parmesan (because no one said no to a bit more cheese – right?)

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