Salmon & Quinoa Salad with Lime Mint Dressing (gluten free)

I love a protein packed salad for lunch at this time of year. Especially one that is easy to prepare, or can be prepped in advance for you to take to work. 

This one uses a tin of pink salmon and some cooked quinoa for your midday protein hit. If you’re not in a habit of eating protein at lunch, give it a try and see how much it keeps your afternoon hunger and the 3pm slump at bay. 

Add some avocado and veggies for all round goodness and throw on a slurp of your favourite dressing, store-bought or homemade, whatever works for you. 

The quantity below made enough for my lunch for 2 days. I just added some more avocado and the dressing on the second day. 

Keeping tins of tuna or salmon in the pantry and cooking a few cups of quinoa at the beginning of the week, will mean you have your main ingredients ready to go each day. We all know that the secret to eating a good lunch or dinner is in a little advance thought and preparation. 

I am looking forward to making a huge bowl of the this the next time a friend pops in and perches at the bench for a quick lunch.

 

Salmon & Quinoa Salad with Lime Mint Dressing
Serves 2
A simple, fresh salad packed with protein, raw veg and a zesty dressing.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup cooked tri-colour Quinoa
  2. 185 gram tin of salmon or tuna
  3. 1 small cucumber, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 avocado, flesh diced
  5. 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  6. Lime Mint Dressing
  7. 1/4 cup good quality extra virign olive oil
  8. 1/4 lime juice (approx 2 limes)
  9. 1 tablespoon honey
  10. 1 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.
  2. For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid, and shake well to combine.
  3. If making in advance, leave the avocado and dressing out and add just before eating.
Notes
  1. Cooked quinoa will last in the fridge for 3 days, covered in an airtight container.
  2. The dressing will last in the fridge for about a week, but the mint will lose it's colour and flavour over time. It is best used on the day it's made, or alternatively, leave the mint out and add to the dressing just prior to using.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

 

 

Spanish Rice with Chorizo and Veg

I love this kind of recipe. You know the one that mostly uses ingredients you’ll find in the pantry. Rice, stock, tinned tomatoes – building blocks for so many simple dinners.

Throw in some spices for flavour, veggies, either fresh or frozen, for goodness, and top with golden chorizo – for no other reason that it tastes brilliant and always gets the kids over the line with any meal. 

“What is this green bit?” one child might say, staring at his fork. 

“Yum, isn’t this Chorizo amazing!” I will reply, hoping to distract the enquiring child from realising I did indeed put asparagus in AGAIN! 

The original recipe is a Bill Granger classic from Delicious Magazine October 2012. 

I have left out the marinated roasted red capsicum simply because that is a more expensive item that won’t always be in a normal pantry and I added more vegetables, of course. 

Once again, don’t be a slave to the recipe. If you hate beans or don’t have any asparagus, use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or freezer. 

We are a family of Chorizo lovers, but if you don’t have any or don’t like it, just simply leave it out.  It will then become a fragrant vegetarian rice dish. 

Spanish Rice with Chorizo and Veg
Serves 5
A frangrant rice dish, with mixed vegetables and chorizo.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  3. 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika and coriander
  4. 1 1/2 cups (300gm) basmati rice
  5. 400gm tin crushed tomatoes
  6. 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  7. 200gm green beans, cut into 3-4cm lengths (frozen works well too)
  8. 1 bunch of fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 3-4cm lengths
  9. 250gm (2) chorizo, cut into thin rounds
  10. fresh coriander or parsley, chopped to garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in rice and mix well.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes and 3 cups chicken stock.
  5. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  7. You will need to check it a few times, and give it a stir to prevent it from sticking. If the stock is all absorbed and the rice isn't quite cooked, add more stock, 1/2 cup at a time.
  8. Add the beans and asparagus, and cook for a further 5 minutes until they are slightly soft, but still bright green.
  9. In another frying pan, over medium heat, cook the chorizo rounds until they are golden brown.
  10. Throw the chorizo and fresh herbs on top of the rice and serve straight from the pan.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine Oct 2012
Adapted from Delicious Magazine Oct 2012
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Choosing to Be Still

Sometimes the list of what we can’t do or fix for our families is much longer than what we can. 

As mum’s, it knocks the very air out of our lungs when we realise that by our sheer will, determination, or the pure force of our mother’s love, we can’t actually change things.

Over the last little while, I haven’t been able to fix challenges at school, stop nighttime fears, solve friendship struggles or even stop bleeding noses. I haven’t been able to get in front of the technology battles, or solve an ongoing issue with our youngest who is due to start school next year, but is just not ready. I haven’t been able to get a child to drink 10ml fluid from a syringe, so watched a drip rehydrate him instead. I haven’t been able to stop a nasty illness ravage my boys body, or answer his ‘Why mum?’ at 2am in the morning when nothing could relieve his pain. I haven’t been able to get homework done without arguments, or succeed in forcing everyone in the house to just LOVE EACH OTHER. 

I haven’t been able to get to church for weeks due to sick kids, stop the possums from ravaging my garden or the mould from growing in the shower. On some nights, I have not even managed to get a simple meal on the table. And I have a food blog that is supposed to help mum’s like me with exactly that. Seriously.

I am not on top of the tax paperwork, family birthday cards and gifts from months ago remain unsent on my study desk. 

You know the season I am talking about? You have had one or been in one too. 

Outside of my walls, there are marriages I can’t fix, illnesses I can’t take away from loved ones, depression I can’t lift and suffering in the world I can’t eleviate. 

On the bathroom floor at 2am, beside my sick boy in the bath, I determined that today would be the day I would take this Very Long List of Things I Cannot Change or Fix and give them over to the One I profess to trust and follow with my life.

I am laying down my arrogance and pride that says it’s up to me to make everything right. 

I am thanking God for his goodness and faithfulness in my life and those I love and trusting what it says in Romans 8:32 that He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

The term give us all things is not referring to a sprinkling of fairy dust that mends every broken thing, heals every sickness and gives me everything I want for a stress free, totally perfect existence. 

No. If you keep reading a few verses down, you see that it goes on to say in verse 35:

Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger or sword….No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced, that neither death nor life, neither angels of demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That’s the good stuff right there. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not A Thing. We are not alone, we are not forgotten and we are not left to try and figure it all out in our own strength. I don’t have to get it all right, earn it, work for it or achieve it. 

I am resting in that promise today and hope friend, you may too. 

My natural tendency when faced with a long list of challenges is to get my boxing gloves on and gear up for a fight. I want to DO STUFF, keep busy, keep moving, research, plan, make lists, make appointments because my human nature says ‘You need to make this right.’

There is a time and place for all of the doing, but I am going to do the opposite today.

Choosing to Be Still in one way means actually physically stopping, but I’m mainly referring to choosing to quieten the voice in my head that says it’s all up to me. 

I’m so thankful for a Heavenly Father who did not in his wisdom, leave it all up to me to solve or fix. 

Today, I will be present for those I love and meet their needs, I will ‘show up’ to do what is required of me. But I will leave the fear, stress, anxiety, unknowns and burdens at the feet of the cross of my saviour. 

One of my current favourite songs, from Hillary Scott & The Scott Family is Still. It sums up all of my ramblings perfectly. I hope it encourages you, wherever you’re at and whatever season you’re in, to join me today in being Still.

 

Blueberry and Blood Orange Muffins

I always find a little extra time to myself on the weekend of the Bathurst V8 Supercars race. It’s not often my boys sit still for long periods of time, but when it comes to that race, all 4 of them manage to be glued to the screen for many many hours. 

I am not complaining. No-one noticed when I slipped away to read a little of my book on my bed. That generally doesn’t happen in daylight hours…ever. 

Even though I could have happily read all afternoon, I knew school was starting back the next day and so I headed to the kitchen to start thinking about another week of lunch boxes and dinners. 

We have been enjoying this seasons blood oranges, their bright pink juice and slightly bitter taste a refreshing change to a normal orange. 

I had a hankering to use them in a recipe, so alas, this simple and relatively healthy muffin was born. Ordinary oranges will also work in this recipe.

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I used Rapadura Sugar for these muffins. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s an unrefined cane sugar that has a lovely golden brown colour and a caramel taste. It is produced using minimal processing so it’s nutrient content is preserved, as opposed to most refined sugars. It is one of many on the market at the moment that has been deemed ‘healthy’, but remember….at the end of the day, sugar is sugar, so whichever type you choose, use it sparingly. You can replace it with ordinary raw sugar or brown sugar in this recipe. 

The fresh blueberries available at the moment are cheap, plump and delicious, so I used fresh. Frozen berries are also perfectly fine to use when baking muffins, just don’t defrost them first. 

As I was offering them around that afternoon, my Mr 5 looked up with big eyes and said in a quiet voice “Did you really put blood in these muffins mum?” as his hands hovered over the top of the plate.

After a big family laugh, he had a quick lesson on blood oranges and then happily gobbled one up. 

Blueberry and Blood Orange Muffins
Serves 10
A moist blueberry muffin sweetened with the juice from blood oranges.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 200 grams (approx 1 1/2 cups) wholemeal plain flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1/2 cup rapadura sugar (raw or brown sugar also fine)
  4. 1/2 cup rice bran oil
  5. 1 egg
  6. 3/4 cup milk
  7. juice of 1 blood orange (approx 1/2 cup)
  8. 200 grams fresh or frozen blueberries (approx 1 full cup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsuis.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon.
  3. Make a hole in the centre and add all of the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir gently until combined and then carefully fold in the blueberries.
  5. Place in muffin tins lined with paper cases and fill to 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 muffins, or until risen and golden and they spring back when lightly pressed.
Notes
  1. These will last for 2 days in an airtight container or can be wrapped individually and frozen.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

 

 

Penne with Sausage and Kale

Pasta is such a great ‘go to’ meal for those rushed mid-week nights. Most kids love it, it’s inexpensive and in most houses, a pantry staple.

For those watching their carbohydrate intake, keeping pasta meals to a minimum and using wholemeal varieties means you can enjoy pasta as a part of a balanced diet.  We also live in a time where there are many wheat-free pasta options available, so if you are steering clear of wheat, you can substitute brown rice pasta or gluten free pasta in this recipe. 

This recipe, from Curtis Stone’s cookbook Good Food Good Life, is quick to make and full of flavour. I love the way he has added Kale, (often disliked by children due to it’s bitter taste) and made it a part of a very tasty dish. This dish got the thumbs up from the whole family, even the kale part!

As a busy mum, I opted for the 500 grams of pork and veal mince in this recipe, even though Curtis suggests you use the meat from inside good quality sausages, removing and discarding their casings. That just felt a little too hard for me after arriving home late from soccer training on a Tuesday night and needing dinner on the table PRONTO.

As another school term begins and we hit the downward run to Christmas (did I just really type that?) you might be able to add this to your menu for something a little different. 

Penne with Sausage and Kale
Serves 5
A tomato-based pasta dish with sausage meat, kale and parmesan cheese.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 pork sausages, casings removed OR 500gm pork and veal mince
  2. 1/2 bunch Kale, trimmed and roughly chopped (approx 2 cups)
  3. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  4. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  5. 1x 500gm jar pasta sauce (tomato based)
  6. 400gm penne, (wholemeal or gluten free pasta options work well too)
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. shredded parmesan cheese to serve
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Add the penne and cook according to packet directions.
  3. While the penne is cooking, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sausage meat or mince, and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon as it cooks.
  5. Once it is golden brown, add the chopped kale and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the kale starts to wilt.
  6. Add the wine and jar of pasta sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes or the liquid is slightly reduced.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of it's cooking liquid.
  8. Toss the penne into the sauce and add a little of the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.
Adapted from Good Food Good Life
Adapted from Good Food Good Life
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