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Easy pumpkin soup (only 4 ingredients!)

Easy pumpkin soup (only 4 ingredients)

Isn’t it lucky that we’re never too old to learn stuff.

Important stuff, too, like the fact that Youtube videos on how to cut your own hair make it look deceptively simple. I learned that this week. And that a new mirrored splash back will cause your cat to MELT DOWN as they fight a territorial war with the new cat who has moved into their kitchen (don’t even ask why he’s on the benchtop). And that the end of term is a tiring time for everyone (mummies included).

Thankfully there are salves for all these issues. Luckily my ‘haircut’ looks ok once blowdried in it’s new daringly short style. A squirt bottle of water can keep cats off bench tops. And veggie-filled recipes DO exist that are incredibly easy to make and soothing to eat. Like this one. Perfect for tired kids. Perfect for tired mums.

Easy Pumpkin soup

1 litre chicken stock (salt-reduced)
8 cups (about 1.1 kg) of evenly cubed vegies (you can use all pumpkin, but I like about 800g pumpkin & a couple of big carrots)
1 tbsp Italian herbs
425g can baked beans in tomato sauce (salt-reduced)

Pour the stock into a large pot and bring it to the boil. Add the vegies and herbs and reduce to a strong simmer.

After 10-15 minutes the vegies should be tender (you can easily pierce the pumpkin with a skewer). Tip in the beans and sauce. Stir them through to heat up then remove the pot from the heat.

Use a stick blender to whizzy it all up (or transfer to a traditional blender when cool).

Serve with bread, pumpkin seeds, or last week’s cheese & sweet potato rock cakes.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids.

And if you struggle to get your little kids to eat soup, click over to the Mother & Baby blog where I’m discussing how to make this genre a success with small kids.

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If you like this recipe, why not try…
Roasted carrot & parsnip soup
Pumpkin & red lentil soup
Green split pea soup

***PLEASE NOTE THAT I’M TAKING A BIT OF FAMILY TIME FROM JUNE 26-JULY 7. THE SHOP IS STILL OPEN, BUT HARDCOPY BOOKS WILL BE SHIPPING AND EMAILS WILL BE RETURNED WHEN I GET BACK – THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING ****

If you love slow cooking, you'll love my latest e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

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This lunchbox idea solves soggy-sandwich-syndrome

If you’ve hit mid-year and find yourself all adrift and out of sandwich ideas then this healthy recipe is the rope thrown to you by the lunchbox coast-rescue-guard-lifesavery-people.

A batch of these will brighten up the drabbest lunch bag and keep the kids vaguely inspired for the rest of Term 2. A double batch will do lunch boxes and then can be reheated and served with a soup…. (keep watching listeners, there’s an insanely good recipe for that coming next week).

Can you tell I’ve settled back into the land of the cooking? I have. And quite cheerily, too. There may have even been a bit of humming going on whilst I whipped these up.

And before you say, “AS IF I’m going to BAKE for their lunches”, I’ll just remind you that this recipe is prepared in about 10 minutes, especially if you get a gadget on your side. And the kid’s containers will come home empty, SANS crusts, half eaten bits or slobbery seconds. So, worth the effort, I say.

healthy lunchbox ideas - cheese and veggie savoury rock cakes
Cheese & kumura rock cakes

75g butter, cubed, left to soften
3/4 cup self-raising flour
60g grated cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated sweet potato (kumura)
1 egg
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Let the butter soften in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the flour and use your fingertips to rub it together (usually takes a couple of minutes – you could do this in a food processor if you prefer).

Tip in the cheese and veggies. Mix well.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and mustard. Tip this into the flour mix and combine. The mix should now be ‘dough’ like and should hold together well.

Use your hands to press the mixture into 8 even-sized patties. Place on the tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through

Makes 8.

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How to make it through winter with warm toes….

Welcome to winter, day one. Are you over it yet? The good news is that there’s only about 91 days to go until our feet start to thaw and the little wafty bits of pollen plug up our sinuses.

In the mean time, I’m going to spend the next three months wearing bed socks and cursing the impulsive moment that saw me chuck my old kitchen blinds (I blame pre-renovation enthusiasm rather than stupidity), without checking in the budget to see if I could afford to replace them this year. Winter mornings are gonna be chilly.

Hopefully next week I’ll be back with THE BIG REVEAL – the new kitchen is due to be completed this week! Excited much? Me, yes.

Then I’ll be back onto cooking up these recipes, which are tried and true ways to cheer you up and keep you thriving through the winter…

Warm porridge with this tasty topper

This 1 minute recipes adds oomph & pizzazz to your daily porridge.

Tomato & lentil soup

Love your body with this nutrient-packed tomato & lentil soup.

chicken and tarragon one pot winter warmer by vegie smuggers

Chicken & tarragon (or thyme) one pot keeps everyone happy, from grown-ups to toddlers

Mmwwwwaaaahh aah aah aah aaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Pecan chelsea buns have no benefit, except for the gifting of extreme HAPPINESS to those of us still daring enough to enjoy sugar & flour.

This is my new favourite slow-cooker soup - you'll find the recipe in my new e-book!

This is my new favourite slow-cooker soup – Tuscan minestrone that smells OUT OF THIS WORLD and tastes even better. You’ll find the recipe in my new e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you'll love my latest e-book!

If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

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5 recipes that bring you unlikely (but welcome) dinnertime wins…

Have you noticed that at some point in most magazine articles about musicians, there’s a bit of the interview that goes… “Yeah, I guess my love of [insert hipster genre] music began as a child, listening to my parent’s [Hendrix/Bowie/soul/reggae/early hip hop etc] albums.”

I get a slight wistfulness for a childhood that was, you know, like, cool. Not that my childhood wasn’t lovely, but I grew up listening to Glen Miller-1940s-swing and Tijuana Brass albums. Which I guess is why I write recipes on a blog called ‘Vegie Smugglers’ and am featured in Super Food Ideas Magazine rather than writing ear-worm songs and featuring in Rolling Stone.

Anyway, back to what I do best (click the pic to visit the recipe)…

vegie smugglers beef pho

Vietnamese Beef Pho

Cucur- urdang - Malaysian food for kids.

Cucur udang – Malaysian prawn fritters.

vegie smugglers cauliflower and cashew pilaf

Cauliflower & cashew pilaf. Fun to say and good to eat.

slow cooker pea and ham soup

Genuine ham & pea soup, in the slow cooker.

Salmon mornay. Truly. With a bit of paprika - delicious.

Salmon mornay. Truly. With a bit of paprika – delicious.

And for dessert, why not some chocolate & beetroot brownie!

And for dessert, why not some chocolate & beetroot brownie!

I'mnotslow

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Turning pantry slops into lunchbox gold (and a giveaway)…

Exciting times at VSHQ with a complete kitchen renovation just days away. For the past month we’ve eaten our way through the pantry and now I’m down to the SLOPS. All those supermarket impulse buys and double ups that have me now scratching my head as to just how I’m going to combine water chestnuts, lychees, olives and four jars of seeded mustard into one delicious meal.

Tinned fruit seems to be the single thing I buy, but never use. Here’s what I was left with….

I know, it's a massive shame that the leopard print contact that lines all my cupboard is about to go...

I know, it’s a massive shame that the leopard print contact that lines all my cupboards is about to go…

Yesterday I managed to rid myself of the cherries and pineapple (too easy). The cherries were combined with frozen blackberries and apple in a traditional crumble (use this recipe here) and the pineapple worked perfectly with desiccated coconut (another ingredient I always have too much of) in a lunchbox treat that has the kids singing my praises.

You can win a set of 4myearth snack wraps!

See those alphabet wrappers? You could win some! Read on!

Pineapple & coconut muffins

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw sugar
440g crushed pineapple in juice. Drain the fruit over a bowl – keep the juice.
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or melted butter

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray or line with paper cases.

In a large bowl combine the flour, coconut & sugar. Mix together.

In a separate jug, combine 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice with the egg, milk and oil. Whisk this together thoroughly.

Tip the wet ingredients into the dry. Combine roughly then add in the crushed pineapple. Stir to mix through then divide evenly between your muffins holes.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and springy to touch.

Makes 12
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****WIN!****

The lovely 4myearth food wrap & snack pocket (see the pic above) can be yours! They’re a fab alternative to plastic wrap and the lovely Rebecca, who runs this local Aussie small business has four sets to give away (each worth $21.95). (read all the info on the wrap/snack pocket sets here) To win, simply comment below, with a suggestion on how I’m going to use up my passionfruit, mango, peaches or lychees…. Entries close Wednesday night, 8pm, AEST). COMPETITION NOW OVER – CONGRATULATIONS TO BELINDA, SAM, CARLY & LISA WHO WILL ALL BE RECEIVING THE FANTASTIC PRIZES.

Yes! A new e-book has just arrived in store!

Yes! A new e-book has just arrived in store!

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The starsign most likely to be a fussy eater is…

starsign-graph

Combining two of the internet’s favourite topics – food and astrology (sadly I couldn’t find a way to also include conspiracy theories) – I recently conducted entirely credible research (on Facebook of course) that drew staggering results as to the connection between sun signs and whether or not your child is likely to be a fussy eater.

Got a child born between August 23 and Sept 22? You have a VIRGO and according to me, they are statistically OFF THE CHART and by far the most picky eater in the zodiac. Of course, you could call my research entirely flawed since the question I asked was, “What sun sign is your fussiest little eater? Mine – VIRGO.” With the benefit of hindsight I realise that this was biased qualitative questioning. But hey, I went to art school and spent three years painting, not actually learning anything useful like how to prepare a credible survey.

But if you removed Virgo, there were still some pretty interesting results. Next fussiest was Leo (Jul 23 – Aug 22) which is a ‘fixed’ sign – known for a certain level of stubborness. Another fixed sign, Taurus, came in next. As you’d expect there was a mid-result clump that was separated by ‘statistically insignificant’ amounts, but the two easiest signs to feed were Capricorns and Librans.

Moving on to another internet darling – cacao nibs – and I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting. The first is a healthy-as-you-like option, a dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, processed-sugar-free, is-there-anything-left cookie that I enjoyed but only got 50/50 approval my my sample study of 6 children.

The second is a pretty regular cookie, with choc chips swapped out with cacao nibs. Between the two options there should be something for everyone.

Free from everything except flavour.

Free from everything except flavour.

The healthy cacao nib biscuits

This is based on a recipe from Joyous Health.

1/4 cup maple syrup 3 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup combined currants & cacao nibs

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Line a tray with baking paper.

Mix everything together and dollop the mixture on the tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on the tray.

Makes 10.

Free from nothing.

Free from nothing.

Classic cookies (with cacao nibs)

125g butter, softened
1 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup cacao nibs
1 cup sultanas

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line two trays with baking paper.

Use hand held beaters or an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together. Cream them well for several minutes until light and flufffy. Add the egg and beat in well. Also tip in the vanilla and salt.

Sift over the flour and fold it in (slow setting on the beaters will be fine). Then stir in the oats, nibs and sultanas. Dollop amounts onto your trays and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Makes 36ish.

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A vegetarian comfort dish to sooth a heavy heart

Is there anything more heart-breaking than the pained tears of a young child experiencing an existential crisis? You know, that moment when it first occurs to them that one day THEY ARE GOING TO DIE. And that their mummy and daddy will pootle off too, most likely before them. And even sooner, it’s likely that their beloved grandparents are going to die, too. And it comes crashing down on them heavily. It weighs their hearts down near the floor and you find them sobbing their grief out, often alone, confused, crumpled and extremely worried.

We’ve just been through a phase of this with Mr M&P and I find it distressing to be unable to protect him from such big realisations – the cuddles help, but they don’t fix the unfixable. On another level, I also find it heartwarming that my little man values this life so much, and that he loves all of HIS PEOPLE so thoroughly. It reminds me to love everyone now, without delay, without squabbles. And to not let a day pass us by without being entirely grateful at all that blesses us. After all, as my little boy sobbed about life the other week, “it’s just not long enough”. Agreed Mr M&P, agreed.

Sooth the heaviest of souls with this meal full of love.

Sooth the saddest of souls with this meal full of love.

Classic vegetarian cannelloni

Let’s let the animals live this week, and enjoy a meat-free, totally delicious, dinner.

200g box spinach leaves, thawed, well squeezed (OR blanch the leaves from one bunch of silverbeet, remove the white stalks & shred)
250g Ricotta cheese (full fat)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 zucchini, grated
1 small/medium tomato, finely diced
1 egg, whisked
1 tsp Italian herbs
1 clove garlic (or 3/4 tsp garlic powder)
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar is fine, a pizza mix is better)
200g box instant cannelloni tubes
700ml bottle pasata (find it in the pasta sauce section)

Heat the oven to 180C. Find a medium lasagne dish (or any ovenproof dish will do). Spray with a bit of oil.

Combine the spinach, ricotta, spring onions, zucchini, tomato, egg, herbs and garlic in a large bowl. Also add in half of the grated cheese. Mix well (hands work well for this!).

Use fingers or a spoon and dollop the mixture into the cannelloni tubes. Lay them into the dish neatly, squished up together. If you need, spread them onto a second layer.

Pour over the whole jar of passata. Make sure you have covered all the pasta (or it won’t cook). Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling (and the pasta is cooked through).

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids (nice served with a green salad).

freeshipping

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