Cook this: quick & healthy – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink omelette

This isn’t so much a “recipe” as your friendly Monday morning reminder that healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated, or time consuming. By Monday morning, most of us have probably enjoyed a bit of weekend indulgence (I know I did, after attending a gorgeous wedding with amazing food!), and we’d like to get back to eating something a bit healthier and lighter. But the thought of eating a boring salad sends most of us back to the heavier food we’d indulged in to start off with; it’s a vicious cycle.

This is one of my go-to recipes when…
a) I’m craving something healthy and lots of veggies but I don’t want a salad
b) I’ve got leftover veggies and rice that are at the end of their lifespan in the fridge and want to use them up rather than wasting them (and more money on more food)
c) I’ve got other delicious odds and ends in the fridge or pantry that I want to use but can’t think of another dish to tie them all together
d) I can’t really be bothered working too hard to get a healthy meal on the table

Eggs are also a pretty great source of protein, and it’s not a bad idea to give your gut a break from digesting meat all the time. With my food intolerances, beans and legumes are sadly off the table for me now, so eggs are the perfect back up option (they’re also pretty cheap compared to meat). Aaaaand if you double to recipe, you’ve got dinner for 2 and leftovers for lunch!

Ingredients:
– 2 large eggs
– cooking spray oil
– salt & pepper & your favourite dried herbs
– whatever else you want to throw in! I used (for this omelette) a cup of (cooked) brown rice, leftover roast red capsicum and zucchini, a few cherry tomatoes, a handful of baby spinach leaves and a few Kalamata olives. I’ve also used everything from leftover roast vegetables, antipasto mixes and cheese left behind from weekend platters, even leftover stir fried vegetables and noodles in an Asian style omelette!

Method:
1. Preheat your grill to high and leave it waiting.

2. Whisk the eggs together, season with a little salt, pepper and dried (or fresh, if you have them) herbs, and stir in everything else you want in there.

3. Heat a large, non-stick fry pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil, making sure to coat it well (otherwise you’ll leave half the omelette behind in the pan).

4. Pour in the omelette mix, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until you start to see the egg getting whiter rather than translucent. At that point, you can flip it, but I prefer putting it under the grill to slowing cook through from the top and forming a nice golden crust. This is also a good time to sprinkle some cheese on top, if you’re that way inclined.

5. Once cooked through, let it cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan, slicing up and serving – a little sauce on top is always a good touch, and we use everything from mayonnaise to mustard to hoi sin sauce to chili paste; anything goes!

Photo essay: an Italian family tradition – tomato sauce making day

There’s actually not all that much I want to write this morning; I’d rather the photos do the talking. Last weekend heralded our family’s annual tomato sauce making day at my grandparents’ house, something I’ve been meaning to capture on film for a few years now. As you may have notices from my blogging habit, recording memories is important to me, and I wanted to share some of the pictures I took to give others a bit of an insight into a centuries old Italian tradition that continues in the backyards of countless emigrants in Australia today…

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Cook this: “check every bulb” Christmas cupcakes

We’ve all got Christmas traditions. Some are pretty normal, like our tradition of baking scones on Christmas morning before taking Marley to the park for a run around. Some are not so normal, like watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation over and over and over again (not my tradition, originally, but husband has converted me). I didn’t like the movie much at first. But year after year, it’s been screened at our house on the 1st of December, and then almost every night thereafter until Christmas. Now I actually love the stupid movie. I find myself reciting the lines along with cousin Eddie and Clark. Damnit.

Anyway, we had our first family Christmas even for the season on a few weekends ago, and I took up the dessert task. I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places – the scene where Clark needs Rusty’s help to unknot some Christmas lights. Pinterest gave me a good idea on how to put them together. And I added my own touch by giving a few cupcakes “knotted” lights. It made me laugh. Simple things, I know…

Anyway, they’re pretty easy to put together! For the cupcakes, use your favourite recipe; I went with a thick chocolate brownie mudcake concoction. Then for the frosting:

Ingredients:
– 120g white chocolate
– 4 tbsp milk
– 50g butter
– 3 cups icing sugar
– m&ms and black writing icing to decorate

Method:
1. Combine the chocolate, milk and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, and stir witha wooden spoon until combined.

2. Remove fromthe heat amd cool for a few minutes, then sift in the icing sugar a cup at a time, beating with an electric mixer as you go, until you have a thick, smooth frosting.

3. Pipe or simply spread the frosting onto the cupcakes in a cone shape, and use a black writing icing pen/tube to swirl circles up each frosting cone. Pop m&ms in at intervals as the bulbs.

And that’s it! Super easy and very do-able 🙂 Nothing like a Pinterest win to get you into the Christmas spirit…

Cook this: Olive bread

Husband never used to like olives. Until he tried them again a while ago. And he discovered he actually did like them, a lot. He noticed a handsome looking olive loaf last weekend at a bakery we stopped for tea and coffee at, and requested I make a loaf; far be it for me to say no, so I threw together a quick easy loaf, and it turned out pretty darn good. Pretty easy to make, as well…

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf):
– 500g plain flour
– ½ tbsp salt
– ½ tbsp dried yeast
– 1 heaped tbsp dried rosemary
– 475ml warm water
– 1 cup pitted olives of choice – I used kalamata

 

Method:
1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and rosemary in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the warm water. Once combined, mix in the olives.

2. Cover the mixing bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. When you’re ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

4. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, grease a loaf tin and place the dough into it (alternatively, line an oven tray with baking paper and shape the dough into a free form loaf). Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until baked through; the easiest way to test it while it’s still in the tin is to tap the bread – if it has a hollow sound, it should be baked through.


I’d highly recommend serving it fresh out of the oven, topped with prosciutto and fior di latte cheese. Amazing!

Cook this: Roast sweet potato, date & olive salad

In my precious Evernote app, I keep a folder of recipes that I continue to add to every time I see something delicious online that I plan to try at some point. One of those came from Little Market Kitchen last year in the form of a roast sweet potato, olive and date salad, and I kinda forgot about it… until now!

With Melbourne’s weather finally starting to turn a little warmer (sort of, in spurts…), it seemed the perfect salad for us – a good combination of fresh and roasted, substantial enough to call a meal, and with a brilliant twist of roasting not only the potato, but the olives and dates as well. I put my own twist on it, and here’s what I came up with…


Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 large chicken breast
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
– 1 heaped cup of pitted dates
– 1 heaped cup of pitted olives (I like kalamata, but you can use any you like)
– olive oil
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp seeded mustard
– baby spinach and rocket (as much or little as you like)
– a handful of crumbled feta cheese (or more, if you really like it)
– a handful of slivered almonds

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and spray a small baking dish with a little cooking oil. Add the chicken breast and drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it. Into the oven to cook for around 20min, or until cooked through. Once it’s done, let it cool enough to be handled, then roughly chop it and set it aside.

2. Once the chicken is cooking, line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

3. Spread the cubes of sweet potato over the tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes – you can do this at the same time as the chicken if your oven has enough room.

4. Take the tray out, add the dates and olives to the sweet potato, and roast for another 10 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool a little.

5. That’s the hardest part! To make the dressing, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil and mustard. To put the salad together, layer the baby spinach and rocket, followed by the roast potato, olives and dates, then the chicken, and finally the feta, almonds and dressing. Enjoy 🙂

Cook this: mini matcha balls

One of my favourite Instagram feeds belongs to Matchaeologist; purveyors of high quality matcha, and sharers of the best matcha recipes online. The last recipe I tried from their feed was this batch of oddly coloured but VERY delicious matcha white chocolate muffins. Yesterday morning,  another one of their recipes caught my eye. With a little tweaking, I give you these ridiculously simple to make and full of goodness matcha balls.

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Not only do they require very few ingredients, they can very easily be made gluten free. They’re lactose and fructose free,  too. They take all of 3 minutes to put together before a quick bake in the oven. They come out like delicious little biscuit balls on the outside, with a soft, moist centre. Stop reading,  start baking.

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Ingredients:
– 80g plain flour
– 5g matcha
– 25g caster sugar
– 20g almond meal
– 2 tsp vegetable oil
– 4 tbsp water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then stir in the oil and water.

3. Roll into small balls and place on the oven tray. Bake for 18 minutes, then transfer to a metal rack to cool.

4. Once cooled to room temperature,  dust with icing sugar and serve.

Cook this: iced animal cookies

Last weekend, we celebrated my delicious little niece’s first birthday! Which was totally depressing, because it made me feel so old… but also super exciting, because I love being able to celebrate with everyone 🙂

Because I’m pretty useless with kiddy stuff like games and what not, I got put on cookie duty (yay) and the order was brightly coloured animal cookies.

I’m gonna be honest – I probably had more fun making these than the kids had eating them. They’re actually incredibly easy to make; you just need a fairly steady hand, a bit of patience, and plenty of space to spread everything out in the kitchen… it gets a little messy…

Anyway, having seen how much some bakeries charge for these types of cookies, I thought I’d share how easy they actually are to make with you guys 🙂 For the cookies themselves, something plain and basic like these tea cookies (you obviously don’t need to add the tea leaves in there – leave them out for a plain vanilla cookie) will work perfectly.

For the frosting, there are a few things you’ll need. The first is some writing icing tubes. I just use these from Queen, which are nothing fancy, and available for a few dollars at any supermarket. You may also want some decorations, like sprinkles, sparkles, flowers, etc. Again, all pretty easy to get your hands on in the baking aisle of your local supermarket.

Then, to make the coloured frosting, the easiest thing to do is just DIY royal icing! All you need to do is combine 1 egg white with around 200 – 250g powdered icing sugar. That’s it! With those two little ingredients, I made enough frosting to cover my 2 batches of cookies 2 or 3 times over, so a little goes a long way. Once you’ve made that base mixture, divide it between smaller bowls, which you can colour individually depending on what you need for your cookies. Stir in your coloured food dye, and mix them all in evenly.

Once that’s all done and set up, take a cookie and a tube of writing icing. Outline the cookie with the writing icing, which will act as a guard for the royal icing when you add it later. Let the writing icing dry a little before you move on – you may want to outline a few at a time to give them a chance to dry.

To fill the cookies with the coloured royal icing, add a few drops of water the the icing you’re using, and stir it in. You want the consistency to be runny enough to drip off the spoon, but not so watery it looses colour. Add a little of the icing to the centre of the cookie, and use a small spoon or knife to spread it out to the edges of the writing icing border. Decorate your cookies as you wish, and lay them out to dry for at least a few hours before packing them away to take to party central – the frosting will dry hard, so you’ll be able to carefully stack them up in a container if you need to.

That’s it! So easy! And if you need an excuse to practice, Halloween is just around the corner, so get those pumpkin and cat cookie cutters out 🙂