Posts tagged beans

So hot back then – nachos from the nineties

I don’t know about you, but back in 1991, nothing said ‘mature’ quite as much as popping out to the new Belaroma Café for a ‘cup of chino’ and a bagel. It was a 15-minute drive away, but cafes were a bit few and far between back then. Sure, there was the Grace Brothers cafeteria, where you pushed your tray along the metal shelf and ogled cling wrapped bits of black forest gateau but nothing competed with the Belaroma in terms of sophistication.

I seem to recall being there ALL THE TIME once I got my drivers license and could meet up with friends at the shocking hour of 9pm on a Tuesday! The freedom was delicious.

But perhaps we overdid it a little. I don’t think I’ve eaten a piece of carrot cake since 1993 and I can’t even say the word ‘nachos’ without a touch of scorn, so cemented is it to 1992 in my memories. But determined to be open minded in my quest for new family food, last week I whipped up a version of the tex-mex classic. Lo and behold, it was a MASSIVE hit, with the light-eating Miss F getting through two whole plates of it. I guess there was a reason why it became so popular, after all.

And it’s another recipe that can be made ahead and then assembled whenever you need.

Enjoy it; I’m off to dig through carrot cake recipes…

Corn chip lures, with all the healthy bits melted on top.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
500g lean beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
3-4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1×2 tbsp tomato paste sachet
1 carrot, peeled, grated
½ green capsicum, finely diced
400g borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
400g can chopped tomatoes
½ cup water

To serve
Corn chips (buy the ones from the health food isle)
Grated cheese

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until golden, stirring frequently. Add in the mince and use the spoon to break up any lumps until it is all browned.

Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, sweet chilli and tomato paste. Mix in the carrot, capsicum and beans and combine well.

Pour over the tomatoes and use the half-cup of water to swish out the remnants of the can. Bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and season if need be.

Set aside, ready to use whenever you need it.

To compile the nachos, either…

Add a few chips to a plate (don’t give them too many!). Spread over a layer of mince, scatter the tomato and avocado, sprinkle with cheese and microwave until it is hot and the cheese just melted.


Make one big family serve on an oven tray (lined with foil) and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden.

Comments (13) »

Quick. Make-ahead. Cheese.

After a far-reaching day on Facebook yesterday that stretched from poo jokes to fat kids, some of you may have concluded that my birthday is not my best day of the year. The day after however is like a renewal. I’ve accepted the new age and am ready to move forward.

With that in mind, let’s stick straight to food today. No pfaffing or spamming, just a delicious, healthy, snacky meal that will come in handy throughout December as life gets more and more frantic.

It’s a good one since you can make the filling ahead and leave it in the fridge for a few hours or a couple of days, then spread it over a tortilla, sprinkle some cheese then either cook in the pan, or just fold one tortilla in half and cook in your sandwich press. It smuggles a bunch of good stuff, is a hearty vegetarian option and has enough oozy cheese to charm even the toughest tiny food critic.

Onions, carrot, capsicum, tomatoes, kidney beans, avocado. YUM.

Bean & vegie quesadillas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
½ capsicum, seeded, finely chopped (any colour)
2 tomatoes, chopped
400g can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained, roughly mashed
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
10 bought tortillas
Grated cheese
Sliced avocado (optional)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Pop in the garlic, carrot and capsicum and continue cooking for 2–3 minutes or until everything starts to soften.

Mix through the tomato, then add the beans, sugar, cumin and barbecue sauce. Cook for another couple of minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave according to packet directions so that they separate easily. Spread some of the bean mix over one tortilla. Top with cheese and avocado. Place another tortilla on top and slide into a warm non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When toasted on the bottom, slide out onto a plate, place your hand on top and flip over. Return the tortilla to the pan until both sides are golden. Repeat with the remaining mixture and tortillas. To serve, cut into quarters.



Like this recipe? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

Comments (7) »

What the kids eat in… Mexico

Rest assured Victorians, I’m not talking about you, but that colourful, warm territory to the south of that big scary country (the bossy one that cruises the world picking fights with little countries, pushing freedom and the right to eat donuts for breakfast, get morbidly obese then craned out of our house by emergency services). The territory of Dora and Frida Kahlo, where there’s a fantastic cuisine that stars in the Vegie Smuggling atlas. It’s healthy, with lots of legumes and salad, often served snugly in tortillas that hide the worst of the healthy stuff and leave the kids seduced by cheese and guacamole.

This Australian/Mexican quesadilla recipe warms my heart for many reasons – 1. It’s quick to make. 2. It’s fun to eat. 3. You can pretty much keep everything you need long term in the pantry, which makes it a perfect last minute/after work meal.

Another factor which makes it a VS winner is that it can be easily adapted to suit various members of the family which means you can get everyone eating the same meal with a minimum of fuss (add chillis or bottled jalapenos, leave out the coriander or add extra cheese).

Here’s a tip – the first time you make it, the flipping can be a bit nerve wracking. Mini tortillas make it much more manageable.

Tuna quesadillas

Dora eats these tuna quesadillas, and so should you!

Tuna Quesadillas

185g can tuna in springwater
185g can tuna in olive oil
125g can corn kernels, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
125g can four bean mix, rinsed, drained
¼ red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
Black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar or mozzarella
10 ready-made tortillas

Drain the tuna in springwater and place in a mixing bowl. Add the undrained tin of tuna in olive oil and the rest of the ingredients except for the tortillas. Mix until combined.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

Carefully separate the tortillas (heat for a few seconds in the microwave if they are sticking). Place one on a chopping board, cover generously with the tuna mix and top with another tortilla.

Slide the tortilla sandwich carefully into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, ease out of the pan onto a large plate, hold the top with your hand and flip over. Carefully place back in the pan to cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining mix and tortillas.



Like this recipe? Check out my cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

Comments (3) »

I could have eaten Kermit…

G’day. I’ve been out in the bush. Super tops out there in the real Australia. Lots of drivin’, visitin’ stuff and good wholesome country fare…

Well actually the driving bit is true, about 1000 kms which in a country this size is nothing, but with two kids under 6 in the back it can be a challenge. I didn’t quite reach the stage of needing to place a wooden spoon on the dashboard, but it did get close. The travelling CDs I’d made worked quite well at keeping them entertained. I’ve been training the kid’s ears at the same time as I’ve been training their pallettes. They like everything from Steve Aoki to the Beach Boys. Although most of the time is spent clarifying song lyrics. “No mate, he’s actually singing ‘message in a bottle’, not ‘message in a bottom’ and, no, Johnny Cash walks the line, not a lion.

And visiting stuff, well lordy, did we what! We rode bikes at a zoo, saw model trains, visited massive adventure playgrounds and slipped into quite a few wineries for mummy and daddy’s sanity. And we spent a full day at a farm field day, learning about straw bale houses, composting, fencing systems and butchering entire animals. It was GREAT! Super-good fun for us city slickers.

But the good wholesome country fare… well, some good, some great, some bad. But SO much meat. Out and about it’s all meat with chips, or meat with potatoes, or meat with pastry. Obviously my little Mr Meat and Potatoes was pretty thrilled with the whole arrangement, but me? I would have killed for something green to munch on.

Perhaps getting roadside kiosks and bakeries to love lettuce is asking too much, but what about next time they whip up a meat and bread option, they try these little rissoles? Just so that we can sneak a few vitamins in while we’re devouring half a sheep.

Rissoles with yummy stuff smuggled inside!

Come home to these when you realise the grass isn\’t always greener.

Spicy lamb & bean rissoles

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cloves garlic, crushed
2 slices multigrain bread
400g can four bean mix, rinsed, drained
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
500g lamb mince
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

To serve
Flatbread or burger buns
Cream cheese
Tomato chutney
Cucumber, sliced

Dig out the big food processor to make this recipe quick and easy.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the cumin, coriander and garlic and fry another minute. Set aside.

Blitz the bread in the food processor into breadcrumbs. Remove and set aside.

Add the four bean mix and carrot to the food processor and whizz well. Add the onion mixture and lamb and blitz. Add the egg and breadcrumbs and blitz further until combined.

Use wet hands to form 5-6cm rissoles (warning – remove the processor blade before you handle the mixture!). Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the rissoles for 4-5 minutes each side until cooked through.

Spread flatbread with cream cheese and chutney. Top with rissoles, cucumber and lettuce.


Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.

Comments (2) »

Tired parents and stuffing vegetables into vuvuzela

World cup fever has gripped the household and since we’re not sipping mint tea in Morocco or frappes in the Greek Isles, the hours are proving challenging. First game starts at 9.30pm and goes through till morning. Shame the kids aren’t joining in the fun, but keeping strictly to their sun-up to sun-down regime, Australian time.

Getting the right atmosphere for the fun though is proving much easier with it occurring to us that we have our very own vuvuzela here at home in the guise of a 3 year-old boy who manages to make incessant noise without the use of many words (except poo, poo-head and idiot). The noise starts up right from the tweet of the earliest birds. The occasional lull is just long enough for a sigh of relief before the blasting starts up once more all the way till bedtime.

Lucky he’s cute and lucky he’s funny. And looking on the bright side, we’ve got a little African souvenir without needing our passports.

Our parenting regime has slackened somewhat in our sleep-deprived state and dinnner-time has shifted to the rug in front of the TV. On the menu? These little bean and vegetable balls are fun to eat, get popped straight into the mouth and don’t make too much mess.

Vegie dots

Bring silence to the noisiest vuvuzela with this vegie dot recipe

Vegie dots

400g can four-bean mix, rinsed, drained
1 cup mashed potato or pumpkin (or a mix of the two)
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 zucchini, grated
2 spring onions, finely diced
Sprinkle of garlic granules or 1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg, lightly whisked
½ tsp dried Italian herbs (optional)
Salt & black pepper
Dry wholemeal breadcrumbs
Canola oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Place the four-bean mix in a mixing bowl and mash using a fork or masher. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the breadcrumbs and cooking spray and mix thoroughly (hands work best for this job).

Roll bite-sized portions into balls, toss in the breadcrumbs until coated evenly and place on the baking tray.

Spray balls lightly with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove tray, gently roll balls over, lightly spray again and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until golden.

Place a bowl of your desired dip in the centre of a plate (tzatziki, hummus or even tomato sauce), surround with the vegie dots, crudites, breadsticks and cheese.


Comments (10) »