Category Archives: Eats

Quinoa, Corn & Broccoli Pilaf

Quinoa Corn Brocolli Pilaf - close

I know it’s rather trendy to say but I quite like quinoa. We’ve been on the bandwagon for a while but I don’t mind the rush of people that seem to now be joining the fanclub – it means there are more and more interesting quinoa recipes popping up all over the place.

Quinoa broccoli pilaf

We saw this one in the paper last weekend & and again in Good Taste magazine & again online at Good Taste magazine is one of my favourites & it often makes its way into the basket at Woolies. This issue has a chorizo, chicken & potato pie on the cover… Hellooo!

Good Taste Magazine

While we always shop with a list, the farmer’s markets often have a few somethin-somethin’s that we can’t refuse. Like fresh chorizo for example. Hot, spicy chorizo!


So although this was supposed to be a vegetarian recipe, and would definitely taste great as such, we whacked in this sucker, sliced & diced. And he lived up to his spicy name! There was sweat people!


Other than the addition of the chorizo, we made a couple of alterations to the recipe, one of which included the cooking of the corn. The recipe called for chargrilling which I’m sure would be a whole load of tasty, but we were hungry & wanted to get the food, in the belly, pronto. We boiled three cobs until slightly tender & then sliced the kernels off for a speedy pan fry, along with the chorizo & some yellow capsicum, which was all then added into the other pan the quinoa was simmering along in.

Capsicum Chorizo

We shopped with the recipe in mind but this dish could lend itself to an assortment of flavours & could be a good way to use up leftover meat or lost-in-fridge bits like almost-over asparagus or beans.

Anywhoodle, see below for the recipe & give it a go: follow it straight up if you’re a quinoa newbie or go wild with variants if you’re a bit more sure of the ropes.

Quinoa Pilaf dish

Quinoa, Corn & Broccoli Pilaf

Adapted from


  • Olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 150g (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 500ml (2 cups) water
  • 300g broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 2 large corncobs, husks removed
  • 1 yellow capsicum, diced (optional)
  • 1 chorizo, diced (optional)
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh coriander
  • Low-fat natural yoghurt, to serve
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to serve

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in quinoa. Add water and stir. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and place broccoli on top. Cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly boil/steam your corn cobs until just tender. Set aside to cool & then cut down the corncob to remove the kernels.
  3. In a hot pan, saute the chorizo, capsicum and corn until the corn is lightly browned in places and the chorizo is a little sizzled around the edges.
  4. Add saute mix and chopped coriander to quinoa mixture and combine.
  5. To serve, top with yoghurt and coriander leaves.

Chicken, Fennel & Olive Tagine

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine

The Lad had been wanting to cook something with fennel bulbs for ages & when I came across this recipe on Bon Appetit Magazine’s website, we were both keen to give it a whirl.

Our tagine is tucked away in the designated kitchen appliance corner of the storage room until we move to our new still-being-built unit. (Which hopefully won’t be too much longer if the sunshine can keep on keeping on! It’s lookin’ good!) So it kind of isn’t a Chicken, Fennel & Olive Tagine, more just a Chicken, Fennel & Olive Stew, but it was downright delicious regardless.

Fennel browning

I hadn’t cooked with fresh fennel before, only the dried herby stuff, and it was far more subtle in flavour than I expected.

The only alterations we made to the recipe as it is here, were to use dried chilli flakes rather than cayenne pepper (again due to the cayenne being boxed away for a near-future kitchen) and a little less chicken (4 thighs rather than 6).

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine - stewing

We also went a little over on the olives… We love our olives! (Especially the marinated olives at East End Enoteca where we had the most amazing meal I’ve ever had in the Hunter. A must go!)


This post’s gratuitous photo of the greens

Dished up with brown rice and an extra coriander sprinkle, this was a quick cooking, delicious way of trying out fennel cooking for the first time. I think this recipe will definitely be making some reappearances in both our temporary and near-future kitchens.

Chicken Fennel & Olive Tagine

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Cauliflower Pizza Base 1

Oooohh pizzaaa! While my mouth thinks there is nothing better than the cheesey, often meaty, delicious shamble that makes up a pizza, unfortunately my belly strongly disagrees. The ol’ stomach doesn’t seem to munch down wheaty goodness quite like it used to & within an hour or two of eating such carby delights, the digestive complaints start, mostly by way of bloat, loud rumbles & swishy-wishyness.

So when I saw this Cauliflower Pizza Base doing the rounds on Pinterest, I thought it might be a tummy-friendly go-er. The Lad thought it sounded terrible. In his opinion, there was no way that cauliflower could ever replace flour & yeast in a pizza base without tasting a whole lot like, well, cauliflower. I do enjoy the occasional floret of cauliflower when it is dished up to me but, I had similar doubts to The Lad – could mushed cauliflower make a pizza base?

Cauliflower Pizza Base 2

The answer, my friends, is a resounding, man-approved YES! And we’ve made it twice since my first foray (I waited til I was cooking & dining alone for the first effort but, after seeing my fridged leftovers, he happily lapped up a slice)

Cauliflower Pizza Base 3

I followed this recipe pretty much to the letter but I only grated (no food processors here!) & nuked (2.5 mins was plenty) the one required cup of cauliflower per base. Also, since the first run, I’ve tried baking the base  both with a little oil & without. With the oil was a little greasy – like a take away pizza – & without the oil was fine & definitely not too dry. I’d recommend going without – the base stays moist enough & the cheese makes it all go nice & golden anyway.

Cauliflower Pizza Base Raw

The base: pre-bake

For the topping, I used Iowa Girl’s Spicy Sausage & Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese Pizza as my inspiration. I used the world’s best pizza topping – chorizo, naturally – diced as the sausage.

Cauliflower Pizza Base Topping

Meats, cheeses & greens – oh my!

It was deeeelicious. This is definitely worth trying out regardless of whether or not your belly can handle wheat! It’s a great way of sneaking extra vegies into your meals and it’s a helluva lot easier & speedier than waiting for standard from-scratch dough to rise. The whole pizza can go from fridge to plate in half-an-hour: while the base has its initial bake, get cookin’ on your toppings & it’s seriously ready in no time at all.

Cauliflower Pizza Base 5

Sesame Orange Chicken

Chinese food is a funny thing. The food I thought of as “Chinese” when I was growing up included spring rolls, beef in black bean sauce and anything else in the bain marie at the local bowling club’s all-you-can-eat.

Scorpions… Crunchy.

When I was in China though, the food was a whole other level of delicious & there wasn’t a soggy dim sim in sight. Peking duck, garlicky choy and every sauced up animal part you could imagine was on offer. While scorpion, testicles & starfish weren’t the most delicious options, they certainly opened up a new world of what Chinese food really has to offer.

Testicles. Yep, testicles.

The discovery of Shanghai cuisine was another highlight – hello to one of my favourite restaurants, New Shanghai. Once you go Xiao Long Bao, you won’t go back.

So given this excitement for what lies beyond the bain marie, it’s taken me a long time to come back for Westernised Chinese food. It’s actually taken me pretty much until this recipe – Sesame Orange Chicken – to attempt to cook it, let alone eat it.

I never deep fry at home (for a combination of health, taste & excessive oil usage reasons) so I ditched the batter end of this recipe & just opted for a good cornflour dredge instead.

Other than that and the addition of some greens though, our stab at Sesame Orange Chicken went pretty much to the letter.

The first time we made it (with lightly steamed beans for the greens), the sauce gathered up so quickly that what should’ve been sticky orange deliciousness turned into a bit of a glug-fest (albeit a very flavoursome one!)

Round One: Glug fest

With the Lad keen to give it another chance, Sesame Orange Chicken made this week’s menu in the hope we could do the recipe justice. This time, instead of the 2 tablespoons of cornflour in the sauce mix, we opted for 2 teaspoons worth. And we added in extra orange zest this round – if you’re going to be a bear, you may as well be a grizzly! This. Was. A. Winner. (A winner winner chicken dinner, if you will!)


The sauce was a ladle-able puddle of sweet yet tangy syrupy goodness. For greens, we went for some almost-faded broccoli (which chirped up nicely in some icy water) and the whole deal was dished out on a bed of white rice.

Sesame Orange Chicken, adapted from

2 chicken breasts sliced into bite-sized chunks & seasoned with salt & pepper
enough cornflour to fairly decently coat the chicken pieces
peanut oil for shallow pan frying
steamed greens

¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon sesame oil
the juice of ½ orange
zest of one orange
sprinkle of garlic powder
sesame seeds

Step 1: Dredge chicken in cornflour & pan fry. Remove from pan when browned & cooked through.
Step 2: In a bowl whisk together sauce ingredients and pour into the wok to cook until thickened and bubbly.
Step 3: Add chicken & steamed greens back to the pan & heat together until everything is coated in syrupy sauce.
Step 4: Load up your bowl and say it with me “Oooooh yeahhh”.

Shallot & Turkey Rissoles with Soy-Ginger Glaze

Feeding three hungry post-gym mouths (Hello BodyAttack – major session tonight!) is no mean feat but this variation on a Smitten Kitchen recipe was A Winner.

Turkey Rissoles

Served up with a mini-mountain of brown rice and an improvised garlic, mint, bean and mushroom dish, Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze were made man-size & doused in this delish glaze. We pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except for subbing in the rice wine vinegar & sugar combo for the mirin in the glaze recipe – it worked perfectly though. Oh Em Gee the syrupy glaze…

Syrupy glaze

Definitely make these suckers – whether you go rissole style like we did or meatball style like the original, they are absolutely deeelightful.

To make the green bean-centric side dish, I plonked a pile of green beans (topped, tailed & halved), the rest of last night’s sliced swiss browns and a little handful of chopped up fresh mint into a pan with a couple of spoons of peanut oil & around 2 tsp of minced garlic. After everything gets a bit browned around the edges & the deliciousness all mingles together, I poured around half a cup of water into the pan to help steam the beans a bit further into tender submission.

Totally a recipe worth repeating – gotta love it when a throw-together-hope-for-the-best makes even the anti-mushroom housemate get a little excited.


Ah greens, I love thee. Is it surprising that my car is also green?

Chicken Lettuce Wraps + Smashed Spuds

The Lad is a big fan of San Choy Bao and while I’ve never hated the dish, it’s not one I was keen on re-creating at home. I’m all done for the Asian-y, mince-y, meaty good times but the lettuce always gets a bit warm and limp and just makes me wish it was a pile of capsicum or noodles or something else that would stay snazzy with warm mince.

BUT when I came across Spoon Fork Bacon’s recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps I thought I might be on to a winner that would keep both me & him happy. Something about the deliciously thick and saucy chicken breast pieces stirred up with shallots and mushrooms was too good to refuse – even with the presence of lettuce leaves!

Pretty Lettuce Photo
We pretty much made the recipe exactly as it was here except we omitted the chestnuts & bamboo shoots (keepin’ it simple) & used swiss brown mushies (on sale at Woolies – hello!) instead of shiitakes.

Saucy chicken

Thick, sticky & delicious

Being inspired by the thought of a barbecue on stinking hot days such as today (and tonight – it’s gotta be about 30 degrees C still I reckon!) we opted for the pot luck randomness of a little potato side to accompany our chicken lettuce combo.

Delicious Potatoes

Based on a recipe Iowa Girl Eats posted sometime back, these carbolicious lip-smackers are an easy alternative to roasted taters but just as tasty. Boil the suckers up whole & then, when they’re done nicely (still firm but not crunchy), put some slice marks across the top to resemble a noughts & crosses board & then give them a gentle squash down with a masher/spatula/textbook. Lay out on a tray & give a good sprinkle with S&P, garlic powder & decent olive oil. Stick them under the grill and let them get niiiice and crispyyyy around the edges. Delish!

With bellies full of sticky chicken, lettuce leaves & spuds, we’re going to attempt to hit the hay despite the humidity… C’mon cool change!

“It’s so damn hot, milk was a bad choice!” 

Orange-spiked banana bread

While The Lad & I have been co-habitating for sometime now, this week brought with it the moment our stuff had to also co-habitate. Moving all of my furniture, many clothes and many more shoes, jewellery and other assorted accessories into the house The Lad’s shares with a mate, has meant that beloved old commemorative polo shirts, toy model cars and similar boy accoutrements have been boxed up and shifted to the spare room.

Don’t worry, I’ve also downsized to help the squeeze in – three pairs of shoes and a couple of tees, dresses and other bits will be soon hitting the shelves at the local Salvo’s op-shop! In a bid to soften the blow of cushions entering The Lad’s man cave, I not only put his big trophies on display atop the bookshelf, I also made his favourite: this banana bread, subtly spiked with orange zest.

Orange-spiked Banana Bread

I’ve seen some criticism of this recipe on the interwebs due to people’s dislike of the orange factor but it’s the orange flavour that give it so much cred in this house. In tonight’s brew, I went against the recipe & also added a little handful of shredded coconut. I’ll totally do it next time too – big thumbs up.

Zest is best

Orange-spiked Banana Bread
(Recipe slightly adapted from Marie Claire’s Kitchen by Michele Cranston – seriously my bible in the kitchen)


  • 90g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Once zested, slice & reserve the orange


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius & get a loaf tin ready. I used a silicon loaf pan – my pick for non-stick
  2. Throw all the ingredients except the reserved decorative orange slices in a mixing bowl & combine. I’m old school & prefer a wooden spoon – the original recipe recommends a food processor but whatevs you got, I say!
  3. Once combined, pour into the loaf pan and fan your decorative orange slices across the top. I baked this loaf covered with foil for about half the cooking time to keep the oranges from going too toasty around the edges.
  4. Place in the oven for one hour, or until an inserted skewer/knife/poker-of-some-sort comes out clean.

Chocolate & Raspberry Tartlets

In an attempt to minimise the food in the fridge/freezer/cupboard before moving house this weekend, I made these Chocolate & Raspberry Tartlets… </thinly veiled excuse to eat more chocolate>

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets

I cheated with the tart cases – they were from a frozen packet wedged in the back of the freezer. The raspberries were also frozen but once those suckers defrost, they don’t taste too different to the real fresh deal (as long as you buy the good frozen ones at least!)

For the “cream” in the mix, I used this new Philadelphia Cream for Desserts. While it freaked The Lad out a little that I planned to put something that looks a lot like a tub of cream cheese into his dessert, a quick swipe through the thick deliciousness convinced him otherwise.

I put the below pic on Facebook via Instagram while I was making these and was met with frustrated excitement from a heavily pregnant mate who’d obviously run out of tasty snacks in her neck of the woods.

Spoon-lickin' good

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets

Makes 6-8 tarts (depending on how much ganache you end up with & how choc-heaped your tarts end up!)


  1. Blind bake the tarts as per packet instructions (usually in a moderately hot oven for 10 minutes or so) Let cool pretty much completely.
  2. Melt chocolate down slowly – I won’t tell anyone if you use the microwave to do it. Just promise you’ll nuke for 20-30 seconds at a time (no longer!) and stir well between repeats.
  3. Once the chocolate is completely melted down, stir in around 2/3 of the cream. Make sure you work fast as the cream will thicken the chocolate quickly.
  4. Put scoops of the ganache in the tart cases & then lick your delicious chocolatey spoon while decorating the tarts with the remainder of the cream & the raspberries.
  5. Leave the tarts on a tray in the fridge for as long as you can bear. I recommend making them before dinner & refrigerating for at least an hour. We managed to hold out for two hours & they were perfectly set.

Too easy. Too dangerously easy.

My not so secret ingredient

After becoming a little infatuated with the Kung Pao Chicken recipe I found on Iowa Girl Eats (one of my most favey-faves) I decided tonight to mix it up a bit and make what I’ll call “Kind Of Kung Pao Chicken”. Which brings me to my not so secret ingredient…

…Cornflour! It completely changes chicken in stirfry/Asian-inspired dishes & adds a beautiful coating which, when combined with a good salt & pepper sprinkle & then lightly fried off in a combination of sesame & peanut oil, is bloody delicious!

So for this evening’s Not Quite Kung Pao, we did the cornflour/s&p dredge, followed by a light browning in the pan & a rest on a plate when done.

While this is happening, we got some quinoa & water in a saucepan along with the juice of half a lemon, a good sprinkle of dried red chilli flakes & a sprinkle of fennel seeds. For two super-hungry post-gym bellies, we shared 2/3 cup of dry quinoa which cooked up with 3 x 2/3 cups of water. Let that boil up & get all fluffy & delicious – just like rice but with plenty more nutritious goodness!


Back to the oily, chickeny pan remnants, add a chopped red chilli & couple of garlic cloves. Sauté until fragrantly fabulous & then add in whatever veg you’ve got on hand. We opted for half a head of broccoli, a zucchini & a couple of handfuls of chopped beans. Once you’ve got the veg all in, throw the chicken back in and give it all a stir.

To that, get saucy with a few tablespoons of a) Chinese rice wine vinegar- about 4tbls b) soy sauce- about 5tbls and c) oyster sauce- a good little glug to the middle of the pan. We also threw in a solid handful of fresh coriander for good measure. Stir it all around until everything is combined, the chicken is a little saucy & the veggies have softened a little, or until it looks a bit like this…


Mmmm!! Once it’s all cooked, get it on the plate & get eating! Deeeelicious!

Cumulus for breakfast

Today’s post is coming to you live from a huge king-size bed at the luxurious Sofitel in the “Paris” end of Melbourne’s CBD.

We’ve been here two nights already (read: two whole shopping days!) and I probably should go home now before I spend any more money. Our flight however, is not booked until Saturday afternoon so if one must carry on with such frivolity, one must do what they have to do (& put all salary for next month into one’s dwindling bank account). Stay tuned for a purchases round up!

The most excellent thing we have found so far here (other than the Veronika Maine sale at DJs…) is an eating house called Cumulus Inc. On a recommendation from my younger chef brother, we hit the Flinders Lane spot for breakfast yesterday morning… And will no doubt return again this morning & possibly every morning until we fly out.

Incredibly Melbourne with attentive service even with the absolute deluge of New Year clientele, Cumulus lived up to the “must go” status the brother gave it. Offering far more than a choice between a Bircher & a Benedict, the menu is full of creativity & flavour at a sensible brunch-style price point (we got outta there at sub-$45 anyway!)

We were bar-seated looking into the kitchen which suited us just fine. It’s always interesting to see the preparation of other ingredients, as well as the interplay between the assortment of kitchen staff.


I opted for the Cumulus Breakfast which included a perfectly boiled egg, toast, assorted preserves, a pot of yogurt with poached & fresh fruit and, wait for it, coffee AND a fresh orange juice. Twas perfect for girls like me who always want a smorgasbord selection but whose eyes are often to big for their belly.

The lad’s breakfast was The Full English & he barely looked up until it was fully demolished. With a supporting cast of 2 sunny-side ups, thick slices of bacon and toast, the star of the show was a dark & rich blood sausage. Soft but full of texture, the sausage was made up of pig’s blood, pear & a band of other treats.

He also gave the thumbs up to the coffee on offer opting for an espresso and a double ristretto.

We are going there again. Right now.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins

Now do I have your attention?

Ha! The Gluten Free Goddess appears to have had a little makeover and I needed a re-visit after a long day spent recovering from a gluten hangover (Well if I have to eat your pizza, I have to eat your pizza!)

While I was looking for dinner inspiration, this recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins quite obviously distracted me. Definitely one to print off & try!

Summer gazpacho

Along with a leopard-print blouse, lilac nail polish & a $39 glass of Veuve, today I purchased lunch at Sydney’s 3-hatted Est. restaurant: workplace of my chef brother Josh (@mrniland on the Twit).

While I only ordered 2 dishes (salt cod beignets & the mulloway fillet with witlof & agro dolce – both of which were awesome, especially the beignets) the kitchen also sent me out these two dishes:

The prettiest, daintiest gazpacho ever…

Scallops served with ribbons of cured tuna belly…

Needless to say, after eating the majority of Sydney’s seafood quota for lunch, I was ridiculously full & could only manage 2 of the 5 delish petit fors served with my dear-lord-please-help-me-digest-this-feast peppermint tea.