Posts tagged zucchini

A simple (gluten-free) mix and bake

Is there anything better than a dinner that gets mixed up in one bowl, then pressed into one tin and cooks in one oven? Perhaps only the addition of Bono, sitting up on the benchtop in his onesie, belting out a little acapella version of ‘One’ while I sip one wee glass of vino while I’m wearing my onesie. That’d be nice, if a little weird.

If you’re free Bono, pop over tonight and we’ll whip this zucchini slice up together.

One piece.

Just one piece.

Zucchini & rice slice (Gluten free)

There’s no smuggling going on here really, since pretty much the whole dish IS vegies. Smuggling vegies within vegies…

2 zucchinis, grated
1 carrot, peeled, grated
4 spring onions, finely sliced
125g can corn kernels, drained
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown) – I always make extra rice whenever I’m cooking a stir-fry, so I can make stuff like this the next day
2-3 tbsp fresh chives and/or parsley, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (plus extra for the top)
1/2 cup mild feta, crumbled
4 eggs, lightly whisked

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a 20x30cm slice tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine everything well. Press the mixture into the tin, top with a handful of grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes until set.

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids


Like this recipe? Why not try out my Baked tuna & tomato rice.


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Chocolate, bran & zucchini muffins

Well, there was much interest in these little chocolate morsels when I put up a preview pic the other day over on Facebook. So rather than making you wait, I’ve fast-tracked them onto the blog for you all to bake up this week. Rather than being puritanical about food and healthy eating, I like to acknowledge that the vast majority of us mortals WILL eat chocolate; so the least I can do is pack a bit of extra fibre into the mix to make them just a tiny bit healthier.

They’re nut free and easily made dairy free too, which means that most lunchboxes should cope with them nicely.

Now I know you’re all out there, I can hear you breathing. Well actually, I can see my traffic stats. But none of you ever really comment on here. Why is that? I know we all chat over at FB, but my poor old blog gets a bit lonely from time to time. I always love to hear about if you try out a recipe, how it goes and what variations you need to make for your family.

Don’t be shy. Remember then when you post recipe comments with the posts they get kept for future reference. On FB they just get forgotten in the jumble of cyber junk.

Both you and the kids will be happy with these!

Chocolate, bran and zucchini muffins

1 ¼ cups self-raising flour
¾ cup Allbran cereal (or any type of bran bits)
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
¾ cup milk (soy works great)
¾ cup vegetable oil (I like grapeseed, but canola is cheaper)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 zucchini, grated (fearless VS testers report back that small/medium zucchini will work best, or a large one may need to have liquid squeezed out).

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 12 cup regular muffin tray (I just use spray oil since I’m too lazy to melt and brush on butter).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bran, cocoa, sugar and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the egg, milk, oil, vanilla and zucchini.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, mix gently until well combined. Divide evenly between your muffin holes and bake for 25 minutes or so, until they spring back when touched and a skewer comes out clean.

Makes 12.

Optional extra: a ½ cup of choc chips will make these extra chocolatey!

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Rice v. pasta

My first job was waitressing in an Italian restaurant.

The things I remember most about it were never remembering which way the coffee machine dial turned off (no-one ever told me ‘righty-tighty’), the embarrassment of returning to a table where I’d just been to admit that I’d just forgotten what they’d just ordered and one really busy night, after a quick loo break, running through the kitchen back into the restaurant with the back of my skirt tucked into my stockings.

Generally then, it’s safe to say that I was a crap waitress and the whole experience was vaguely traumatising.

For years afterward I didn’t touch pasta. And if I was held at knifepoint and ordered, “you must choose only one main meal carbohydrate for the rest of your life” I would happily marry rice and leave pasta, cous cous and potatoes behind forever.

Perhaps it’s karma then, for all the incorrect orders that I took, that my kids love pasta. I think nearly every kid in the whole wide world does. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if your kid hates the stuff, they are weird. WEIRD.

Nutritionally, there’s nothing in pasta to get excited about. I’ve even seen it called BAD CARBS. Well said. Mind you, white rice falls into that category too so I guess my argument for rice is baseless and quite prejudiced. Did I mention that my kids don’t care about any of that and that they still LOVE PASTA? They do.

And so it’s been sneaking back into the house over the last few years. It’s still only once a fortnight or so, but now even I am a bit partial to a bolognaise or smoked salmon, dill & lemon or this spaghetti carbonara. On the scale of smuggling success, it’s fairly low, there’s little room to hide anything, but I still cram in spring onions and long strips of zucchini which just meld in(to the bacon fat).

It’s worth sharing, as it’s pretty much the only dish I’ve trialed this year that resulted in TWO EMPTY BOWLS, which is my version of THREE HATS, only better, cause there’s nothing to scrape before stacking the dishwasher.

vegie smugglers spaghetti carbonara

The pasta will win tonight.

Spaghetti Carbonara

3 eggs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
400g spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
250g bacon, rind removed, large areas of fat removed, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 spring onions, sliced
2 zucchinis – use a peeler to slice into thin pieces, then cut vertically so that you have long spaghetti-like strands (whether you leave the skin in or discard it is up to you and what you need to do to get your kids to eat it).

Whisk the eggs in a small jug, mix through the cheese. Set aside.

Now do two things at once…
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook spaghetti according to packet directions. Drain, drizzle over half the olive oil and mix through (tongs makes this easier).

2. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan, add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the spring onions, garlic and zucchini and stir until the zucchini starts to wilt (about 2 minutes).

Return the drained pasta to the saucepan, pour over the vegies and use the tongs to mix a bit, then pour over the egg & cheese mixture. Combine quickly, season and serve, topped with optional parsley, pepper and extra parmesan.

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Something a bit fishy (and why my life resembles ‘The Block’)

The great Australian dream of home ownership is truly great, isn’t it? Somehow wrapped up in nonsense about freedom and opportunity we end up enslaving ourselves to ridiculous mortgages and weekends spent cruising Bunnings trying to find a parking space amid all the other folk pursuing their own Aussie dreams.

Our dream has just had a nightmarish phase as the simple sale of our flat coincided with US debt default worries, downgrades and stock market ‘volatility’ which made for some gut wrenching weeks as buyers fled the market and we were left with two mortgages, sleepless nights and a skin breakout that had me reaching for the concealer stick as though I was 14 all over again.

But thankfully we found just one person willing to pay at least something for our place. Let’s just say we weren’t in a great bargaining position and I could totally empathise with the contestants on ‘The Block’ who were barely able to mask their disappointment even under 8 tonnes of TV makeup and some pretty dresses.

But with everything signed and cooling offs cooled, the move is back on after a delay of several weeks. Which explains why my posts have been a bit all over the place. Too stressed to be inspired, I’ve been digging through the files to find pictures and old post ideas. My camera is buried in a box (hopefully) somewhere safe, so my only photography method is my iPhone which makes me as modern-as-tomorrow but not exactly precise.

So if you’ve thought there’s been something fishy with my posts – you’d be right! We’re nearly back on track though, so as a tribute to all things dodgy and cobbled together, here’s my ‘something fishy’ fish burritos recipe to enjoy.

vegie smugglers fish burritos

Adults might like some bottled jalapenos to add a bit of kick.

Something fishy burritos

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
125g can corn kernels, drained
400g skinless, boneless firm white fish fillets (try barramundi)

To serve:
10 bought tortillas
Lettuce, chopped
Tomato, chopped
Avocado, chopped
Grated cheese
Mayonnaise (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the onion, zucchini, garlic, cumin, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, or until starting to soften. Tip in the corn and keep everything mixing around for another 2–3 minutes or until the vegies are lovely and soft. Remove and set aside.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and black pepper and add whole to the pan. Cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Squeeze over a little extra lemon juice. Remove from the pan.

Warm the tortillas according to packet directions. To serve, pile up the vegie mix, break off some fish and add lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and mayonnaise (if using). Roll up to serve.



Other fish recipes to try:
Family fish pie
Salmon bites
Baked tuna & tomato rice

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Eat with your eyes (and get food in your eyebrows, on your lap and in your hair)

One of my kids has always been a grotty little thing. A bit like a walking diary – remnants of the day gather in layers on their clothing and are smudged in stripes around their head (and my house). I can see layers of morning tea underneath the milk from 2.30 and the after dinner biscuit adds a decorative element to finish the day. The fingers have permanent texta stains and I have, more than once remembered Pig Pen and wondered if we’re related.

Dirt is apparently good for kids, which might explain why this child is very healthy. But at dinner I’ve been driven to the point of total frustration and have now had to instigate two new rules.

1. If there is cutlery set out, then we MUST at least TRY to use it before we start picking through dinner with our fingers. And;

2. NO TONGUES at the table. I DO NOT want to see your tongue at any stage. We do not lick our gnocci clean. We do not lick the seasoning off baked vegies. Our tongue stays in our mouths at all times and if at all humanly possible we try to keep our mouths closed while we chew.

Of course, it’s a bit of an uphill battle, but one I feel the need to revisit every time someone else’s child has been here and displayed stunningly good manners. Recently a little friend came over. She sat still all dinnertime. When her plate was clean (and there was NOTHING on the floor around her) she brought her empty bowl to me in the kitchen, unprompted. I was so shocked, I forgot to say ‘thank you’.

I like to think that my kids can turn it on when they’re visiting elsewhere, but I’m not sure.

Some nights I have the strength to tackle lessons in etiquette and correct usage of utensils. But other nights, if my mummy-patience is more than a little frayed, I just make these salmon bites and avoid the flashpoint entirely.

Salmon bites recipes smuggles zucchini

See, they\’re mouth sized, in the hope that your child can play \’fit the shape\’.

Salmon & zucchini bites

Don’t worry about this mix being quite ‘wet’. Rolling the balls in flour gives them a nice crunchy coating and ensures that the inside stays nice and moist.

185g can pink salmon, drained
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 zucchini, grated (you can peel the skin off first, if your kids are absolutely green-phobic)
1 egg, lighten whisked
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp canola oil, for cooking
Lemon wedges, to serve

Combine all of the ingredients except the flour in a large mixing bowl.

Squeeze into gold ball sized patties. Toss in the flour and coat evenly.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the patties in the oil for 3-4 minutes each side until golden.

Remove and drain on paper towel.

Sprinkled with lemon juice and serve as a snack or place in a wrap with salad and light mayonaise.


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“This dinner is so bad, even Jesus wouldn’t eat it”

Recently a friend’s facebook status included her daughter’s critique of her cooking. “Mum, this dinner is so bad even Jesus wouldn’t eat it”.

There’s nothing quite like the straightforward criticism of a child to discourage your valiant efforts at feeding the family. Being demoralised by preschoolers sucks.

My poor kids are subjected to a fair share of kitchen experiments. Usually it’s pretty obvious if a dish is a winner, but sometimes when things are being picked at in a ‘so-so’ way, I have to put myself out there and pry for truth in the name of research. Miss Fruitarian is now a big school girl and conscious of not hurting my feelings too much but without Jesus on her side her criticism is generally straightforward. Last week I’d made fishballs in a curry sauce. “What do you think of it?” I asked tentatively.
“Oh mum, you’ve done great. Great cooking!”.

Good girl, I’m thinking, but of course she wasn’t finished. “But I just don’t like the flavour of the red stuff or the feel of the lumpy things”. Scratch that one off the list then.

Try not to be discouraged when your kids reject stuff. It is entirely irksome to have to throw good food away. Try to be Zen about it and maintain optimism that you’re one meal closer to one they’ll love! Here’s a recipe that endured a couple of rejections, but this version was a total winner.

Even Jesus would love to munch on these

Even Jesus would love to munch on these

Tuna, rice & zucchini puffs

Canola oil cooking spray
250g packet microwaveable brown or white rice
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp finely chopped dill or basil
1 cup grated cheese
1 large (or 2 small) zucchini, grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Black pepper
185g can tuna in olive oil (drained)

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with cooking spray and line with paper cases.

Cook the rice according to packet directions, then set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients (including rice) and mix until combined. Divide evenly between the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until golden.

Serve immediately or reheat the next day, topped with chives.


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