Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Roast Pumpkin, Sage & Pinenut Risotto

I originally saw a version of this recipe years ago on a cooking show where a guest chef made a no stir risotto with pumpkin puree stirred through a the end.  The no stir method appeals to me as there are always a million other things to do at the crazy late afternoon cooking time around here and I usually have at least one child under foot!! As for the roasting element, it adds flavour and with baking paper, it doesn't create extra dishes to wash!

Serves - approximately 6-8, depending on the hunger and age of the eaters! It's enough for the 4 of us to eat for 2 nights.


  • 1 large, or 2 small pieces of pumpkin, cut in to cubes - the recipe is very flexible - I use a lot of pumpkin as it's a good way to get lots of veggies in to my boys, but feel free to use less if you prefer.
  • 2 generous cups of risotto rice* (Carnoroli is my favourite)
  • 1.3 litres of HOT stock of your choice (I use a vegetarian chicken style stock that I prefer the flavour of.)
  • A bunch of sage leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • olive oil & butter for cooking
  • Pinenuts toasted in a dry frypan or in an moderate oven
  • Parmesan cheese 

  • Preheat oven to 180-190 degrees Celsius
  • Scatter pumpkin cubes and sage leaves on 2 trays covered in baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil & add salt and pepper to taste (as I cook for the littlies, I only add a tiny bit of salt and pepper at this point and add more on the adults serves later.)
  • Roast for 30-40 minutes
  • In a large non stick frypan or wok, heat some olive oil and butter until slightly frothy

  • Add the rice and cook for a few minutes

  • Add the crushed garlic and cook for one minute
  • Add all of the hot stock and stir to ensure all the rice and stock are mixed well - keep the heat medium

  • Leave for 10 minutes and then check and give a quick stir 

  • Continue to cook for another 10 minutes and check stock level is ok (add more hot water or stock if you need to)

  • Take the pumpkin out of the oven, reserving half of the sage

  • Roughly mash the pumpkin and the remaining sage

  • Stir through the risotto and adjust the water/stock level if you feel it needs more. Cook for a few minutes and then check if the rice is cooked. Mine cooks in 20-25 minutes, but it will depend on the type of rice you use, the temperature and the size of the pan. So a rough guide is 20-30 minutes

  • Serve with the reserved crisp sage leaves, toasted pinenuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese

* Note -  - I have a very strong preference for Carnaroli rice but Aborio will do fine. I think Carnaroli is has a better texture and is less likely to turn sloppy, but that just may be my cooking abilities and have nothing to do with the rice!!!  As I make enough risotto to have it for two nights, this rice reheats better (keeping it's shape and texture) in my experience.

** To reheat the following day, add some extra water or stock to the risotto and reheat quickly.

Tonight, I'm going use the leftovers try make some Arancini - recipe from the lovely Cat can be found here.  Yum!!!!  

Love Amy xoxo

Friday, 27 January 2012

Pre School/Kinder Lunches

With my little man about to start Kinder and considering he is still a sandwich resister, I have had to start thinking about lunches.  I love cooking up a large batch of kid friendly food and storing portions in the freezer - makes the day to day food selections a lot easier for me!!!  There is a LOT of zucchini and carrot featured here, so I must try some new combinations!  It's partly because we have so many zucchinis in the garden and partly because the boys love these two veggies, so I know they will be eaten. Along with these savoury items, I will also fill the lunch boxes with lots of fresh fruit. Luckily Mr 3 is a big fruit eater so I won't need to make anything fancy to encourage him to eat those!

Mini Quinoa Patties/Burgers
I first saw these on Pinterest and you can see the recipe here.  I didn't use the green onions, sugar or the cottage cheese, but put in 1 mini tub of cream cheese. I also used 4 egg whites instead of 3 whole eggs. Simply because I had made ice cream on the same day and wanted to utilize the egg whites!  I made mini versions for the boys and larger ones for the adults. I LOVED them and so did my 3 year old, but the baby wasn't a huge fan. Not sure why, he usually loves quinoa. Anyway, these will hopefully please the kinder boy and nourish him through his busy day!

Zucchini Pancakes

These are very plain and not very tasty for the mums and dads, but I sometimes do half a batch with feta and mint and lemon zest and salt and pepper for us!  Here is the small kids version.

-1 mug/cup of flour (I use about 3/4 wholemeal and 1/4 white, but you can do all white)
-2 tsp baking powder (or just use self raising flour above)
-1-2 eggs depending on the size of your cup (for a large mug I would use 2 eggs)
-1 mug/cup full cream milk (use the same cup/mug you use for the flour.)
-2 zucchinis grated and all the juice squeezed out of them
-1/3 cup grated tasty cheese (optional)
-sprinkle of dried or fresh herbs of your choice (optional)

-grate the zucchini and squeeze and drain all liquid out
- put flour, eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together
-fold through the other ingredients
-heat a large non stick frypan to med-high heat and add a small amount of good quality olive oil
-once oil is hot, spoon in large dollops of mixture (maybe 1-2 tablespoon size??)
-when the pancakes are bubbling on top and golden on the bottom, flip them over and continue to cook until they are cooked through

I freeze these as well and just pull a few out of the freezer in the morning ready for lunch on the go!  I sometimes add grated carrot too.  I change the size of the batch by changing the size of the cup I use. So long as you keep it consistent for the milk and the flour they work fine. 

Zucchini, Carrot & Corn Slice
I used a combination of Retro Mummy & Liss from Frills in the Hills Zucchini Slice/Cake recipes. You can find those here and here.  I didn't use onion or bacon but added in grated carrot and frozen corn kernels.  It was very yummy and a winner with both of my boys.

Zucchini, Spinach & Ricotta Rolls
Not following an actual recipe, I threw together some grated zucchini (juice squeezed out), a huge bag of baby spinach and sauteed them together for a couple of minutes with lemon zest and garlic. I drained the extra liquid out and allowed it to cool and then added 300 grams of fresh ricotta, 2 eggs and some finely chopped mint. I cut 3 sheets puff pastry in half and spread the filling along the middle and brought the edges of the pastry in to create two long sausage rolls per sheet. I then cut those into 4 pieces, brushed with egg yolk and sprinkled with sesame seeds and cooked at 210 degrees until puffed, cooked and brown.  Served with tomato and capsicum relish for the adults and as is for the little boys.  Both of my boys were happy to eat these cold so this was a lunchbox success!!! 

Vegetable Muffins
I've made another big batch of vegetable muffins - recipe found here on my previous post.  

Celery Boats
Just a little attempt for something interesting for the lunch box. Mr 3 happily ate the peanut butter, cranberries and pepitas and chucked the celery! Oh well! His friend who was over for a play the day I made these loved them though!

To get Mr 3 ready for Kinder, I've been packing his gorgeous little lunchboxes that I purchased from Lark  filled with yummy food each day to make sure he can manage the boxes and that he actually likes and eats the fillings!

If you have little ones starting preschool or school this year, I wish you and them happy days ahead!

Love Amy xoxo

Thursday, 26 January 2012

What I've been cooking lately - Part One - Savoury

Hello there,

I've been even less of a blogger lately as I've been busy with my little ones.  My 3 year old starts kinder next week and I feel like the clock is ticking on our time together so I've been busy love bombing him and going on big adventures!

I have also recently discovered Instagram and am addicted!!!!

I thought I would share some photos and links to what I've been cooking lately. When I started drafting this it became such a long list that I needed to split it in to two posts.

Starting off with Savoury:

Zucchini, Lemon, Mint, Garlic & Pastina Summer Soup
This one was a bit of a chuck together number using up garden bits and pieces. Chop zucchini finely and saute with the garlic and finely grated lemon zest for a few minutes. Add boiling veg stock & the pastina and cook for a few minutes until the pastina is cooked through. Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper and lunch is served!!!

Salt and Pepper Tofu with Sticky Eggplant
I was inspired by the lovely Cat to make tofu and eggplant but I didn't have the right ingredients for her recipe. So I tried this one.  With the eggplant dish I changed a few things.  I didn't have Shaoxing Rice wine and I can't stand ginger so I left those elements out and I used Mirin to replace the wine. It was delicious!!!  The tofu was quite good too, but the eggplant was incredible!!!  Next time I'll try Cat's recommendation of this recipe.

"Mexican" Tortilla Stack
Inspired by Nigella's recipe found here. Using the Taco Spice mix by Liss at Frills in the Hills which you can find here.  Chicken mince, garlic, the spice mix, grated zucchini and carrot, frozen corn kernels, 1/2 a bottle of passata and some garlic made in a large fry pan, then layered up with tortillas and cheese (I used a new Kraft Mexican combination that was ace!) I layer it up in a spring form cake tin and then bake it in a 170 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing in to wedges. Serve with sour cream and a simple lettuce and tomato salad.

Spaghetti with Pangrattato, Roasted Cauliflower & Zucchini
Using up leftover sour dough, zucchini from the garden and pantry items.  Drizzle small cauliflower forets with olive oil  and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes. Process 1/2 a loaf of stale bread in food processor until it's in small chunky crumbs and some larger chunky pieces.  Meanwhile start cooking pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Heat olive oil in frypan and add bread crumbs and fry until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Wipe out pan and heat some more oil. Add half moon slices of zuchini and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 2 cloves of garlic and 2 anchovies (optional!) and some lemon zest and chilli flakes or powder.  Add the drained, cooked pasta, cauliflower and mix through half of the toasted bread crumbs. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and extra toasted bread crumbs.

Baby Brioche Burger Buns

I LOVE these buns!!! Recipe by the lovely Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim can be found here.  As I'm not great at making dough by hand and as the recipe says to be careful not to add too much flour, I made this using my kitchen aid and dough hook and it was easy and a success!

Serve with your choice of beef burger, veggie burger or chicken tenderloins. I made sweet potato chips and TGI Friday's honey mustard dipping sauce to go on the side. I could seriously drink that sauce - it's incredible!!! (Trashy I know, but I LOVE it!!!!)  I found the recipe for it here.

Stay tuned for Part Two of what I've been cooking, the sweet post very soon!

Love Amy xoxo

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Raspberry & Nectarine Slice

This is my favourite summer fruit baked item. I love that it's easily adaptable and that I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  It's currently over 30 degrees here and I really should not have turned the oven on, but my 3 year old wanted to bake and I couldn't resist!

This is a Bill Granger Recipe. His recipe uses peaches, but I mostly use nectarines as usually have them at home from friends and family's gardens.  I've made it before with the addition of coconut to the second half of the process and that's really yummy too. If you like a crunch, add a sprinkling of demerara sugar to the top of the slice just before baking.  I also regularly half the recipe when just making it for our family so we don't have too much!!! In the photos below I had halved the recipe and just used a loaf tin instead of a larger pan.

1.5 cups plain flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder, plus 1/2 teaspoon extra for the second stage of the mixture
125g butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup golden castor sugar (or regular castor sugar)
2-3 ripe nectarines, peeled and sliced into slim wedges
3/4 cup raspberries
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or natural vanilla extract)
1 egg, lightly beaten
185ml milk

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius
  • Grease and line the base of a 20×30cm baking tray
  • Put the flour and the 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder (sift if you like!) into a large bowl and then rub in the butter gently with your fingertips
  • Stir in both the sugars
  • Press half the mixture over the base of the lined tin
  • Lay the nectarines and raspberries over the top

  • Add the vanilla extract, extra baking powder, egg and milk to the rest of the base mixture and stir well - don’t worry about a few lumps
  • Pour evenly over the nectarine and raspberries and bake for 1 hour(If making a half batch, bake for approximately 40 minutes)
  • Allow to cool partially in the tray and then cut into squares to serve 

Happy hot weather baking!!! 

Love Amy xoxo

Monday, 2 January 2012

Crumbed Zucchini & Eggplant

We currently have more zucchinis coming out of our new veggie patch than we know what to do with!  I've made lots of wholemeal zucchini pancakes for my little boys and stocked the freezer full of them ready for lunches on the go. I've also made a few yummy pasta dishes with them. My favourite being pan fried sliced zucchinis with crushed garlic, lemon juice, mint, basil and goats fetta.

This is a dish that I ate when we were travelling around Italy. The best ones we had I remember vividly; it was a gorgeous sunny Sunday morning in a town called Todi in the Umbria region.

I am lucky enough to have an Italian mother in law who also makes these. She knows that whenever I arrive at her place and there is a plate of these freshly made, that I will devour them, even instead of her freshly baked cake - these are THAT good!

Here is my version.  Apologies that this is more of a direction of how to make these rather than an actual, accurate recipe!

  • Thickly slice eggplants and or large zucchinis.  If the eggplant is homegrown or very fresh and young, I don't bother salting them as they won't be bitter.  (I sliced up about 1 large green zucchini, 2 small white zucchinis and 1 small eggplant for this batch of crumbed veg.  The extra zucchinis I roasted and pureed for my little boy.)

  •  Gather 3 separate flat bowls or plates and put 3/4 cup of plain flour in one, 2 eggs in another and 2 cups of panko bread crumbs & 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and ground pepper in the last. I didn't have enough of the breadcrumb mix for this many veggies - I probably needed another half a batch of the crumb mix to finish this amount of sliced veg.  

  • Dip a slice of veg in to the flour

  • Dip in to the egg - hold up to ensure any drips, drip out before you move on to the crumbs

  • Place veg slice in to the breadcrumb mix and lightly pat crumbs on to all sides

  • Repeat until you've finished all slices of veg

  • In a large frypan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Allow the oil to heat up quite a lot before you add pieces of the veg.  I used a small burner, but had it on high to cook the first side.

  • Cook for approximately 3 minutes, depending on your pan, heat etc.  You're looking for a nice golden colour.

  • Cook for about 1 minute and then turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid for about 2-3 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them at this stage though as you don't want them to burn!  Adding the lid helps to make sure the veg are cooked through and are lovely and soft inside.
  • Drain on paper towel and repeat until you've finished the whole batch (adding extra oil to the pan as needed.)
  • Season with sea salt for adults, or as is for the kids.

  • Serve with a rocket salad, or this roast beetroot, walnut & goats cheese salad or in  bread roll with grated carrot, cheese and tomato or eat them on their own one at a time until they are all gone!

We are really enjoying having a veggie patch in full bloom at the moment! This is only our second summer of having a garden and last year it was very much trial and error!  My husband and 3 year old are in charge of growing the veg and my 3 year old and I are in charge of cooking it all! 

If anyone gets around to trying this, I'd love to hear how you go. Hope you enjoy it!

Love Amy xoxo