Category Archives: Main meals

Mexican Red Chicken

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Mexican Red Chicken

Autumn has begun wet and chilly. Lots of rain and cold winds – and muddy sports grounds!  Days like these you crave big warm flavours and a cosy room to savour them in.  And the kids come home from training damp, dirty and ravenous so they need something hearty and filling.

This dish is the current house favourite. I don’t know if this really is a Mexican recipe, but it is rich and full of flavour, and very easy to whip up.      

Recipe

  • 4 red capsicums
  • Olive oil
  • 8 generous chicken thigh fillets
  • 3 T plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 1 t chilli flakes (adjust for your hotness preference!)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 2 t sweet paprika
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 400 g can diced tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 3 T flat parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 200C.

Lightly oil oven tray.  Roast capsicums for about 35 minutes or until starting to blacken. Transfer to a bowl and cover, and set aside to cool. Remove skin and seeds, then slice flesh.

Dust chicken in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large lightly oiled frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add chicken in batches, cooking each batch for about 3-4 minutes or until sealed. Transfer to a casserole dish.

Add spices, oregano, tomatoes and tomato paste and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to low, and cook for a further 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Fold in capsicum and parsley. Serve on rice with steamed green vegetables.

Serves 6

Adapted from “Pollo rojo”, in Better Homes and Gardens, May 2010, p109.

Red Lentil and Roast Capsicum Soup

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Roast Capsicum Red Lentil Soup

This winter we have had some of the coldest winter nights that I can remember in Sydney.  Lots of beautiful warm sunny days, but some really bitter nights and early mornings.  These are nights on which you crave something warm and hearty with loads of flavor for your evening meal.

For a lot of people that might mean a rich and chunky beef casserole, or a hearty minestrone, not a vegetarian or vegan soup.  This soup is rich and filling and full flavoured.  It leaves you feeling satisfied and warm inside, and in no way craving a hit of meat.

  • 4 red capsicums
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 lg cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lg red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 100 g kumara, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 c dried red lentils
  • 9 c good quality vegetable stock
  • 3 T fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 190C.

De-seed capsicum and cut into about 8 strips each.  Spread 2 T oil over a baking tray and place capsicums pieces on it in a single layer.  Press garlic over the capsicum and mix to distribute.  Place in oven and roast until capsicum is soft.

In a large soup pot on medium heat, sauté the onions and celery in the remaining oil until becoming translucent.  Add cumin, kumara and lentils with just enough stock to prevent sticking to the pan.  Cook for one minute then add remaining stock and bring the pot to a boil. Boil for one minute and then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook until all ingredients are cooked.  Season to taste. Chop capsicum into small pieces (removing skin is optional – with this soup I don’t) and add to soup.  Simmer for 5 minutes, add coriander and turn off the heat.

Serve with thick pieces of fresh bread.  Enjoy!

Spice Roasted Pumpkin

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Spice Roasted Pumpkin

Pumpkins are great vegetables.  You can use them in soups, salads, sweets and more, and they are nutritious and filling.

This recipe is so simple and easy but creates dish so full of flavour that it will be the star of the meal.

Recipe

  • ½ Kent pumpkin (organic if possible)
  • 4 T toasted pepitas
  • 4 T macadamia or avocado oil
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t cumin
  • Sea salt
  • 2/3 c Greek yoghurt
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200C. Brush large oven tray with 2 T of oil.

Deseed pumpkin and cut in 1.5 cm wedges. Place in single layer on tray.

In a mortar and pestle lightly crush the toasted pepitas. Add remaining oil, cinnamon and cumin. Spread spice mixture evenly over the pumpkin pieces.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for around 30 minutes or until soft.

Mix yogurt, lemon and coriander together.  Drizzle over the pumpkin immediately before serving.

For a vegan option you can omit the yoghurt, just sprinkle the coriander and lemon over the pumpkin when you serve.  Still delicious!

This recipe was inspired by one in Better Homes and Gardens, July 2013.

Lentil Rice and Tomato Bake

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 Tomato Lentil Rice Bake

Someone, I think it was Salsa, once told me that the nutritional value of rice and lentils combined is greater than the nutritional value of them both if eaten separately. I don’t know if this is true, but they taste so good together that I choose to believe that it must be!

This is one of my favourite recipes for a quick but filling and healthy mid-week meal. It is equally delicious in meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan mode…

Recipe

Base

  • 4 c cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.  Lightly spray 20 x 30cm baking dish with oil. Spread rice evenly over the baking dish and press down to flatten the surface.

rice base

Second layer

  • finely sliced cooked chicken breast, and/or
  • 8-10 mushrooms, finely sliced, and/or
  • 1 eggplant, sliced and roasted

Layer your choice of ingredients over the rice.

Third layer

  • oil
  • 1 onion, finely  diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2  c cooked lentils
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomatoes

Saute the onion and celery in oil until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool  slightly.  Spread evenly over the previous layer.

tomato lentil layer

Topping

  • finely sliced or grated chedder cheese or
  • 2-3 slices day old wholemeal bread

Spread cheese over the tomato layer, or crumble bread into large-ish crumbs, and lightly fry in oil before spreading evenly over the tomato layer.

Bake at 190C until heated through, and cheese has melted, or breadcrumbs have crisped.

Tomato Lentil Bake

A soup and another award nomination!

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The wonderful summer break is about to come to a close after weeks of sun and surf, boating and seafood, and fun times with friends.  The kids return to school next Wednesday, and  I dread the return to routine (although it’s a pretty shoddy semblance of routine that’s followed in our house!) that must come with the return to reality. But it has been a lovely start to the year.

2013 Summer Break

Adding to my sense of well being receiving another nomination for blog award!  Always very exciting and validating. It’s a funny thing, but each award nomination I have received has come while I have been having fun at the coast.  I must go down there more often…!

Because this is actually my second time nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, I thought that rather than formally accept it, I would like to share some thoughts on the blog / blogger who nominated me.

The nomination came from Feed the piglet… . I have followed this blog for some time now.  I have to confess that I started to follow it because I couldn’t resist the name, but there are lots of lovely and healthy recipes to be found, entertaining tales and really fabulous photos. I go to this blog often when I am seeking inspiration.  The recipes are generally easy with ingredients that you have to hand or are easy to obtain, but often have something a bit different in them – some unusual or unexpected combinations of flavours.

I have added a number of his recipes to my ‘must make’ list – next is the Eggplant and Mushroom Pate, which looks mouth wateringly good.  The other day I made the Leek and Parsley soup (version 2), and it was delicious.  What really grabbed me was the idea of combining the soup with melted brie on toast.

Leek and Parsley Soup

Recipe, (as slightly modified from Feed the piglet…)

  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed and washed well
  • 200 g salad potatoes, washed
  • 1 stalk celery and 1 zucchini, chopped (not in the original but I needed to use up!)
  • 700 ml water
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1/2 t chilli powder / flakes (I omitted this so that my little one would eat it)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • single cream to serve

Saute the leeks, potatoes and celery for about 15 minutes on a low heat, then turn heat up to medium.  Add zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Add water, stock cubes, chilli, bay leaf and about half the parsley.  Bring to the boil, and cook until all vegetables are fully cooked.

Remove from heat.  Take bay leaf out and blend the soup til smooth. Taste to see if any salt or additional parsley are required.  Blend again if necessary, and return to pan. Re-heat to serve.   Add the cream to thin the soup if necessary – the cream is optional, it tastes lovely without too.

I served with the brie on toasted ciabatta and the combination was magic!

So thank you to Feed the piglet, for the nomination and the inspiration!

Haloumi Pecan Salad

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One of the best things about having the Christmas holiday season during the summer heat is that after a day or two of serious indulgence you start to yearn for a big cool crunchy salad. I haven’t decided whether this compensates for the lack of snow, but it does make it a bit easier to curb that excess!

Haloumi Pecan Salad

This salad is great as a side dish or a main meal.  I only use bacon in it when it is the main, but it is an optional extra.

Recipe

  • 150g peppery rocket / baby spinach mix
  • 1/2 small red onion very finely sliced
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 100g haloumi
  • 2 rashers bacon, chopped (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1 t seeded mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the greens into a large flat bowl.  Fry bacon until just crisp and spread over the greens with the onion. Cut pomegranate in half.  Pull the outer  skin away and gently tease the seeds away from the inside pith. Layer seeds and pecans over the salad, reserving some for garnish.

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside until needed.

Once all other ingredients are prepared, it is time to prepare the haloumi.  I have found a new brand of haloumi that I love. This is saltier than other brands that I know but it has a lovely flavour and texture. As with any haloumi, you need to serve it as soon as it’s cooked or it will toughen (although if you do find it has toughened up before you are ready to serve, you can zap it quickly in the microwave to soften it up again).

Haloumi Alambra

Cut the haloumi into 1/2cm thick slices.  Fry in dry non-stick frypan on medium high heat until beginning to brown. Flip over and cook until the second side begins to brown.  The second side will cook more quickly.  Remove from heat immediately and cut into 1cm wide strips. Add to salad.

Give the salad a quick toss with just enough dressing to moisten, garnish with pecans and pomegranate, and serve immediately. For a main meal I serve with lebanese bread that has been lightly oiled, sprinkled with herbs and crisped in the oven. Delish!

Haloumi Pecan Salad2

Simple Chicken and Broccoli Tandoori with homemade Tandoori Paste

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I love tandoori.  It has to be one of the best inventions of Indian food (and there are so many).  So many thing taste good with tandoor, and it is also so easy to prepare – even when you make your own paste.

I found this tandoori paste recipe on http://refashionista.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/recipe-all-purpose-tandoori-paste/, and it is quick and incredibly delicious.

Tandoori Paste Recipe

  • 1 t saffron strands
  • 2 T boiling water
  • 2.5 T fresh garlic, finely crushed
  • 1/4 c fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/8 t cayenne powder (you can play with the chili and cayenne depending on heat tolerances)
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 2 t salt

tandoori_ingredients

Soak the saffron strands in boiling water for 10 minutes. Combine with remaining ingredients, and grind using mortar & pestle (or small blender) until smooth.

Tandoori Paste

Chicken and Broccoli Tandoori

I wouldn’t claim that this is an authentic recipe! but it is fresh, healthy, tasty and quick!

  • 1 large double chicken breast, cubed
  • 3/4 c Greek style yoghurt
  • 3 T tandoori paste
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 med head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 150 g green beans, chopped
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 3 T fresh basil, finely chopped

Place chicken, yoghurt and paste in bowl and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.

tandoori_chicken_marinating

Saute onions in a large pot until just becoming translucent.  Add vegetables and saute for further 2 minutes.  Add chicken and cook on low heat, stirring frequently.  Add water if necessary.  Keep tabs on the chicken because the breast meat cooks quickly and will dry out even though it has been marinated.  Add basil just before turning off the heat.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.

tandoori_chicken