Archive for Vegetarian

Vegetarian sung choi bao

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Even my meatlovers enjoy this vegetarian goodness.

One day you wake up and realise that both your kids are in high school. Yes! HIGH SCHOOL. I’m not sure how that happened, but apparently they’ve been touched by the magical ageing fairy who’s in charge of puberty, grey hairs, sore knees and wrinkles. She has been busy at our house in recent times.

Still, the good side of this ageing thing is that the kids are pretty independent, just needing me for the odd chat, regular lifts to far flung places and plenty of cuddles (we’re never too old for those).

My life has returned to being more about me, which is an interesting shock that has taken some getting used to. The workforce has drawn me back and I enjoy the chance to dig back into my career and personal goals. Not that it’s easy – the juggle is real and while I’ve let go of some domestic standards (I mean, their rooms are their business, right?), dinner still remains a priority. Often though, I rely on meals that I’ve made ahead, or that can be cooked quickly. Sung choi bao is a staple. Make it ahead (or not). It’s simple enough that the kids can cook it too. And it’s a social meal – get messy together, and enjoy a bit of face to face time with the growing people who are so often absorbed elsewhere.

Vegetarian sang choi bao

5-6 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (finely diced)
Packet of vegetarian mince, quorn or vegetable protein
1 eggplant (finely diced – if your kids dislike the skin, peel first)
1 zucchini (grated or finely diced)
225g can water chestnuts, drained, finely diced
225g can bamboo shoots, drained, finely diced
4 spring onions (finely sliced)
125g can corn kernels (drained)
2 tsp garlic
2 tsp ginger
3 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp shao hsing wine

Lettuce leaves (iceberg or cos works best)
Chilli sauce, coriander (optional)

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Stir fry the onion for a couple of minutes until golden. Add the rest of the oil. Pop in the ‘mince’ and all of the vegies (except the corn). Cook for a couple of minutes before adding in all the flavourings. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until everything has combined well. Stir through the corn, then pop mixture into lettuce leaves.

Adults might like coriander leaves and some chilli sauce.

Serves 2 adults & 2-4 kids (depending on their size and appetite).

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Pea pea balls

Shhhhhhh. Can you hear that? That’s right…… Listen again……… Got it? Yep. The glorious sound of silence as the kids head back to school.

Just quietly, I might be missing them a teeny bit.

The stretch of free time does allow me some uninterrupted cooking before the end of the day though. These ‘pea pea balls’ are the latest hit snack around here. The fun name has the kids laughing enough that they’ve scoffed a few down before they even think to ask what’s inside.

vegie-smugglers-pea-balls

Pea pea balls. Not poo poo balls.

Pea Pea Balls

2 slices wholemeal bread
1 1/4 cups peas (thawed if frozen)
400g can chickpeas. Rinsed, drained.
1-2 tbsp mint
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sumac (buy from good greengrocers – so delicious and worth getting your hands on – if you can’t find it replace with lemon zest)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Pepper (optional)

Olive oil spray

Serve with yoghurt & sweet chilli sauce

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.

In a mini or full-sized food processor (or a thermy) blitz the bread into breadcrumbs. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until you’ve got a thick paste.

I’d say ‘roll’ balls of mixture, except it’s a sloppier mix than that, really you’re just going to use spoons to shape dollops into bite-sized pieces on the oven tray. Spray with oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip then over and spray again and bake for another 10-15 until golden and firm. Serve warm with yoghurt & sweet chilli sauce.

Makes enough to feed 4-6 people as a snack.

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Rock your BBQ with these bowls of magic…

So we’re about to smack straight into the celebration season. Possibly you’re like me, with a list of weekends ahead that hold the promise of bubbles, nurofen and oodles of food.

Whether you’re hosting or being a guest, there’s no better way to get into the party vibe than with food that looks a bit more fancy and special than usual. So why serve a boring run-of-the-mill green salad when you can shift to colourful and fun dishes like this one.

Fregola is a cute little Sardinian pasta, similar looking to cous cous but more of a hot-cousin version that has been down the gym for a serious work out. Usually it’s toasted and has a slight nutty flavour. If your local shop doesn’t stock it, substitute with wimpy, regular cous cous.

This dish gets more pink as it gets tossed about, which is PERFECT, because, you know… PARTY.

Colourful, festive, impressive AND super tasty.

Colourful, festive, impressive AND super tasty.

Roast vegie & fregola salad

Serve this dish warm or cold. It’s fancy enough to be great with roast meats or a nice change from your usual array of BBQ sides. Crumbled feta is also delicious on top.

1 1/4 cups dried fregola (toasted if you can find it – I get mine at the local posh greengrocer)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice (about half an orange)

5-6 baby beetroot
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 4-5 cylinders
Olive oil (to drizzle)
1 red onion, cut into thick wedges
1 baby fennel, cut into thick wedges
1/2 punnet small tomatoes (any type will do)
1 red capsicum, cut into large squares
salt & pepper
Juice & zest 1/2 lemon
Parsley

Cook the fregola according to packet directions. Drain, pop into a salad bowl and toss through the combined oil, vinegar & orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Wrap the beets in foil. Pop them in the oven for about 45-50 minutes until you can easily pierce them with a skewer. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile (use a second shelf in the oven), chuck the carrots in a small roasting tray. Pour over some olive oil and salt & pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and mix in the onion wedges and fennel (add oil if looking dry). Return for 20 minutes then add in the tomatoes and capsicum and bake for another 20 minutes.

Peel the beetroot (kitchen gloves are a good idea). Cut into easy-to eat size pieces and add to the fregola. Also tip in the veggies and mix everything through including the parsley and lemon juice.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

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Other salads that will do the schmancy party trick….

Asian noodle salad

Asian noodle salad

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

vegie smugglers panzanella

So delicious, the kids might just join in for this one.

There’s a bunch more salad & side recipes in the ‘Entertaining’ section of Vegie Smuggler’s Kitchen Collection. And if you use code ‘xmas2015’ you can buy it right now for 10% off. Valid until Nov 31, 2015.

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This dinner WINS nutrition (and the kids love it)

Walnuts are generally considered to be a pretty fantastic nutritional addition to the modern diet (unless, you know, you’re like anaphylactically allergic to them, in which case they’re a deady-bones type addition and worth avoiding). They’re full of awesome quantities of most stuff that’s good for you including omega 3 fatty acids and a range of minerals.

General consensus seems to be that introducing nuts to non-allergic kids is safe from 12 months. Serving kid-friendly pasta like this recipe is a good way to reap the health benefits without choking your little loves on whole kernels.

Also, this dish is like ‘Where’s Wally?’, except in a ‘Where’s zucchini?’ kind of way. If you have one of those fancy contraptions that will turn vegies into pasta twists then feel free to swap out all the pasta in this recipe. However my kids do love the tooth feel of a bit of traditional pasta and I find the zucchini just melts through effortlessly.

As is, this recipe is a total win-win-win at my place, but as always, I won’t take offence if you change it up to suit your household.

Herbs and capers 'adult' this dish up to schmancy levels.

Herbs and capers ‘adult’ this dish up to schmancy levels.

Broccoli & zucchini pasta with walnut sauce

This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 1/4 cups whole walnuts (toast them in a dry frying pan if you have a few minutes, but don’t fret if you can’t be bothered)
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how stinky you like to be)
1 slice bread (no crusts) – soaked in 1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
250g dry linguine or spaghetti
1 head broccoli – cut into dainty florets
2 zucchinis – use a peeler or mandolin to slice them thinly lengthwise then use a knife to cut them into long strips that are a similar size to your pasta.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Add the walnuts, garlic, soggy bread, milk and oil into a food processor (my little mini one just manages to fit everything). Season well and blitz to form a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. BUT – add in the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of cooking and then add the zucchini 2 minutes before the end of cooking.

Drain the pasta & veggies. Return to the cooking pot and tip over the walnut sauce. Mix through well. Season super well (this dish really does need tonnes of salt & pepper).

Mix through the parmesan. Serve the kids as is – adults might like to add some torn basil, parsley, anchovies or capers.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids (this portion size is dainty as the dish is rich – serve with a side salad).
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Ohh! It's called

Ohh! It’s called “Kitchen Collection”

There's a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items...

There’s a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items…

Then it's the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often...

Then it’s the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often…

I've converted a bunch of recipes so that there's oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions...

I’ve converted a bunch of recipes so that there’s oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions…

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family....

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family….

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

CLICK TO VISIT THE SHOP

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The sauce of all knowledge….

Every now and then I post a perfect recipe… I know, I’m blowing smoke up my own arse (a favourite phrase of mine that I’ve just discovered derives from the 1700s when doctors did actually blow smoke up people’s arses)… but if there’s one recipe that should really be in your repertoire then I’m pretty sure it’s this tomato sauce. It’s so simple to make, using all fresh ingredients. You can prepare it as you need it, have it in the fridge ready to go or make a triple batch and freeze some for a night that’s not going so well. It’s a prime example of how easy it is to choose fabulousness over supermarket blah. It suits babies, toddlers right up to oldies and even the most annoying food snobs. The secret is all in the presentation.

Whip up the base sauce. Serve it mixed through pasta for the kids – top it with just cheese or add some ham. A bit of grated carrot is good, and also some chopped grape tomatoes are a nice addition. Adults can add in a bunch of basil and parsley, extra pepper, olives, capers and some posh-as-you-like prosciutto.

Really, how good is a basic dish that will please everyone. It’s a rare and completely wonderful thing.

vegie-smugglers-summer-pasta-sauce

Summer pasta sauce

2 red capsicums
3 large tomatoes, halved horizontally
3 cloves garlic – leave whole and in their skins
3 tbsp olive oil (the better, the better)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (use white wine vinegar if that’s all you have)
Pepper & salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200C

Slice the cheeks off the capsicums and place under the grill. Leave them to completely blacken (this lifts the skin off so it’s super easy to remove the skin). Leave to cool, remove the skin.

Place the tomatoes and garlic in an oven tray. Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes or so until the garlic is squishy and the tomatoes have softened considerably.

Tear the capsicum up and pop it into a mini food processor or blender. Squeeze in the centre of the garlic and the tomatoes (peel off the skins as you tip them in).

Add everything else and blitz. Done.

Serve mixed through pasta of your choice with whatever toppings suit your family. My suggestions are parmesan, fresh herbs, prosciutto (yes, I’m one of them annoying food snobs), olives and capers.

Recipe makes enough to top a meal for 2 adults and 2 kids – it also makes a great pizza sauce.

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Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

It’s a deadset crappy day outside today – which seems to happen a lot during school holidays! So we’re making the most of it by doing bugger-all. Miss F is reading on the couch. Mr M&P is fluffing about – a bit of reading, a bit of drawing evils guys with crossbows and a little bit of doing a lovely portrait of mummy.

My boobs aren't looking so great, but at least I'm smiling.

My boobs aren’t looking so great, but at least I’m smiling.

Thankfully my kids are pretty calm little people. They can handle a day of doing nothing – they relish it as much as I do. I’ve always thought that a bit of nothing time is essential for the spirit. Creative juices get to flow about, minds can wander over and around all sorts of random topics. Often we end these times recharged and ready for life. But I guess it is a chicken or egg thing – are my kids calm because I give them lots of calm times, or are we able to have calm times because they’re calm people? I can’t decide.

I can decide that these little frittatas have been a massive hit around VSHQ lately. Peas (my favourite vegie of ALL TIME) with haloumi flavour bombs, all padded out with potato making them almost Spanish omelette-like.

Back to my book.

vegie-smugglers-pea-potato-haloumi-frittata

Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

These gluten-free little tasties are great hot, but also delicious cold, making them a great lunchbox item, too.

2 large potatoes, peeled, cubed into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
225g block haloumi cheese, in 5mm cubes
1 small carrot, peeled, grated
7 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff)
3 tbsp fresh herbs (any combo of chives, mint, parsley is good), finely chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.

Par cook the potato cubes by either steaming or microwaving them until barely tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine everything (complicated recipe, I know).

Divide between your muffin holes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and puffy.

Serves with salad.

Makes 12.

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Living in a cheese-lover’s paradise

For some reason I’ve had ‘Gangsta’s Paradise‘ stuck in my head all week. And boy, doesn’t accidentally singing that out loud in Woolies make you look cool! Especially when you’re a white Australian woman on the elegant side of 40. SO authentic – I mean, the things I know about livin’ in da hood!

Possibly in another 15 years I’ll be up-to-date enough to be humming a bit of Kanye on my way into hospital when I’m arriving for my hip replacement.

All I do know is that even the toughest gansta would love a bite of this ultimate macaroni cheese, since it contains not one, but FOUR types of cheese. It’d be good for them too, since it’s packed full of white vegies, making it the most versatile colour-gang food, especially designed for particularly fussy eaters.

Word to your mother. Homies.

vegie smugglers four cheese macaroni cheese pasta bake

Macaroni cheese times four!

4 cheese pasta bake

250-350g macaroni (depending on how many you’re feeding)
50g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk (warm the milk up in the microwave for a bit)
1 small head cauliflower
1 zucchini, grated
1 parsnip, peeled, grated
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Baby bocconcinis

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a lasagne dish with spray oil and set aside.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Par cook, by steaming or microwave for a couple of minutes. I then pop it onto a large chopping board and hack away at it with my kitchen knife until it’s all in tiny pieces (you can also grate it).

Pop a large saucepan onto medium heat. Melt the butter then tip in the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir it for a minute or so until it turns fragrant (it will start to smell like cooking biscuits). Gradually tip in the milk – really slowly at first and stir well the entire time. Initially it will form into a paste, but keep adding milk and stirring and it will loosen back out into a lovely thick sauce. For the best result, take your time and give your tuck-shop-lady arm muscles a bit of a work out. 🙂

Turn the heat off. Add the cheddar and parmesan. Use the residual heat to melt it through. Mix in the vegies and ricotta. Combine well and tip into your oven dish.
Smooth the surface. Press bocconcinis into the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or so until bubbling and the top is golden.

Serves 2 adults & 4 kids

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