Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Trying to get my toddler to eat vegetables every day is a really challenging. Considering I have been giving her green vegetables every day since she started eating, she still decided that green foods are yucky. I’m not sure how she got so picky, but I guess it’s normal for most toddlers. She also isn’t a fan of chewy her food, so if it’s not soft it comes back up. She also hates anything pureed, since she isn’t a baby anymore. Strangely pasta, rice, meat and biscuits seem to get chewed and never come back up. Despite this not eating vegetables in this house is non-negotiable. So I’m trying to normalising it as much as I can, so it doesn’t become an issue. I try not to hide the veggies, but rather serve them in a way she would prefer. Sometimes that means having something else on the table that she likes and can eat between bites. Other times we reward with stickers or shovel it down while she watches her favourite Disney song clips or TV show.

So this recipe was created to get my daughter to eat her most despised vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli seem to be the most disliked. Green beans get choked on and leafy greens are picked out. Now when I prepare pasta or noodle dishes I try to steam the vegetables first and put them in at the last minute. That way they are soft enough but still retain their nutrients. The crunchy bread top is her reward between eating all her greeny mouthfuls. This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge.

This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge or just want to incorporate many vegetables into one dish. You can add or subtract depending on what you have or like to eat. If you like your cheese you can always add some grated pecorino, crumbled feta or your favourite vegan melting cheese before baking.

Continue reading “Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce”

Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.

dsc01852

Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

dsc01849

Crazy for pasta at Spaghetti House

Recently we visited a restaurant I haven’t been to in a long time. The Spaghetti House Trattoria is a family-run Italian restaurant in Southbank. They were previously situated in West End, which is where we used to frequently visit them.

They offer a great selection of Italian fare, including bread, small share plates, pizza, pasta and main dishes. The dishes are a collection of regional favourites prepared very traditionally. Over the years we have tried many of their dishes and they never disappoint in taste and quality.

Over the past couple of years, they moved from Westend to Southbank on Little Stanley Street. The new location does feel a bit more formal than the previous one and is styled like a modern trattoria. From the polished floors, beautiful rustic table settings, lighting and gold framed mirrors, everything is perfectly elegant, yet cozy.

On the day we visited we were all really hungry and were craving pasta. We all ordered the thicker kinds of pasta with simple sauces. I had the Pappardelle Boscaiola, which had pancetta, porcini mushrooms and olives in a fresh tomato sauce. The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce had a full depth of flavour. My companions had Pappardelle Carbonara and Fettuccini Ragu alla Bolognese. They were also very happy with their dishes. We all ordered the larger size plate, which were generous and very filling. If we ordered more food, I’m sure a small portion would have sufficed.

Continue reading “Crazy for pasta at Spaghetti House”

Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts

I was so inspired by my recent visit to Nodo, I decided to create my own baked donuts. Mine aren’t gluten-free however, they are vegan, soy-free and nut-free. They are also made from mostly spelt and with fresh pumpkin, so they nutritious and easier to digest. Coconut sugar also works beautifully in them, so they are just sweet enough. I hope you like them!

DSC08483.JPG

Continue reading “Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts”

Mothers Day at Jamie’s Italian

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there. This year is my third mothers day. I can’t believe I’ve already had three. Time has gone so fast. This year I got my first present from my daughter. A plant and painted card with a picture of her and a lovely message that she made a Kindy. It was the sweetest thing ever. This year Marco and I decided to have a nice lunch without our toddler. She spent some time with her nonna and we had a relaxing lunch at Jamie’s Italian.

We have been to Jamie’s Italian a few times since it opened. I know it gets mixed reviews, but we have had good experiences every time. The food is always fresh with quality ingredients and cooked well. What I love about this place is that its real food, cooked from scratch. We have only been to the Brisbane location, but you can find the franchised restaurants in most capital cities in Australia and more across the world.

The Brisbane location just off the street level but actually has a second level of seating under the ground. The top level features the entrance bar and a beautiful marble bar with hanging Parma hams, garlic and chillis, where the antipastos are prepared. The lower level also houses the kitchen, so it’s also nice to sit in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen atmosphere. The rest of the decor is very industrial, yet homely. The walls feature exposed concrete and recycled wooden panels and the floors are polished wood. The tables are mostly wooden, with leather booths or red metal seat. The ambience of the restaurant really makes you feel like your in an Italian trattoria.

I have noticed the menu has changed over time to keep up with the current trends. However, the heart of Italy still shines through with their handmade pasta, classic antipasti and some traditional secondi dishes.

 

Continue reading “Mothers Day at Jamie’s Italian”

Nodo

I can’t believe I only just found out about this great little cafe in Newstead.  I had actually seen Nodo donuts at Pando Cafe in Brisbane city, but I never stopped to try them. I have been a bit out of the loop since my daughter was born in 2015, which is probably why I never knew Nodo opened their own location in October that year. Then a friend who recently returned to Brisbane told me about this cafe with amazing gluten free donuts. After seeing his Instagram I knew I had to try this place.

Nodo cafe has two locations, in Newstead and the CBD. Although they are known for their amazing gluten-free baked donuts, they also make a variety of other gluten-free baked goods, brunch and lunch dishes and drinks using wholesome ingredients.

I visited the Newstead location, which is quite contemporary and minimalistic in style, yet very inviting. The corner location is flooded with natural light from large windows and features pale timber furnishings and polished concrete flooring and counter. The indoor plants also give the space a fresh and welcoming vibe. Patrons can choose to sit outside, or inside along the windows or upstairs.

The front counter features all the beautiful freshly baked donuts, as well as other baked goods, raw treats and cold-pressed bottled juices. Their menu features a selection of gluten free breakfast and lunch dishes, both savoury and sweet. There are burgers, salads, smoothie bowls and eggs, all featuring super healthy ingredients. The drinks include coffees made from their own house blend, specialised coffee drinks, teas and a variety of super natural shakes. They don’t just cater this menu for gluten-free, but also dairy-free, refined sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan and carnivores. So there is something for everyone.

20170511_10514620170511_105151

Continue reading “Nodo”

Winter Potato topped Bean Casseroles

Winter seems to have come early in Brisbane. So it’s time for winter casseroles to warm these bones. I love topping casseroles with creamy mashed potatoes or sliced potato. It just gives a casserole another yummy layer and a bit more heartiness. I prefer to use Dutch cream potatoes, as they mash well and soften well when cooked. These two casseroles are easy to put together but need a bit more time to prepare the ingredients before baking.

 

Continue reading “Winter Potato topped Bean Casseroles”

The Velo Project

Recently we took a short trip to the Sunshine coast to have some family time together. Unfortunately, the weather was dreadful so we didn’t get much beach time. We still made the most of it, exploring rock pools and collecting shells when it wasn’t raining.

Untitled.png

The second day we were forced to go home because of storms, but we wanted to have breakfast before we left. Marco found this hidden gem in Mooloolaba.

The Velo Project is a cafe housed in a garage amongst suburban homes.  They are all about high quality, sustainable food, sourced from local farmers and producers.

DSC07987

DSC07986

The decor was very quirky and vintage, yet homely. The furnishings and accessories are secondhand and the front counter looks to be made from repurposed materials. On the tables, there were old fashioned games to play while you wait for your food. The menus were old books with the selection of dishes stuck inside.

We didn’t just come here for the decor though, we came for the coffee and the food. The menu offers fresh baked good, smoothies, a variety of eggs dishes, salads, heavier dishes with meat and buckwheat crepes with different toppings. There are options and modifications for gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian and vegan dishes. So if you a person with dietary requirements, you have more than one option to choose from.

For drinks, Marco ordered a cappuccino and I ordered the chai latte made with cane sugar, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, star anise,  and tapioca. The coffee was spot on and my chai latte nicely spiced was exactly what I needed on a cold rainy day.

For breakfast, Marco ordered the Bacon & Egg Turkish which had free-range ‘sunvalley’ bacon, fried eggs, rocket & housemade tomato chutney. It looked really nice and he enjoyed it. I decided to get something to share with O, so I got the Buckwheat crepes with roasted spiced pumpkin, grilled zucchini, red onion, goats cheese, toasted seeds & basil oil. The crepe itself was really nice and fluffy and didn’t have a bitter taste from the buckwheat. The toppings, although a little tricky to eat, were all really fresh and the flavours worked well together.

We all left very satisfied and will have to visit The Velo Project next time we’re back up north.

Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes

Have you seen tempeh in the supermarket, heard of its wonderful health benefits but not known what to do with it? Or have you bought it, tried to cook it and vowed never again? That actually did happen to me the first time I tried it. But then after cooking it again using some trusty recipes I feel more comfortable cooking it.

All these recipes are Italian inspired, cooked in rich tomato sauces. I found this is my favourite way to cook tempeh, as it has a very meaty in texture but it needs strong flavours to make it tasty. Chickpea or Fava tempeh should also work for these recipes.

What’s your favourite way to cook tempeh?

Continue reading “Tempting Italian Tempeh Recipes”

Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

Now the weather is cooling down its time for stews, soups, and casseroles. This is one of my favourite casseroles. It’s easy to make and I just love the Cheddar Dumping Topping. You can swap the beans for cannellini beans or chickpeas. You ca also empty the vegetables from your fridge and use what you have on hand.

dsc06788

Kidney Bean Casserole with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

(vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large brown onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 bunch shallots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 can good quality tomato pulp

2 zucchini (diced)

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dumplings:

200 g self-raising flour

100 g grated Cheezly White Cheddar Style/vegan or organic cheddar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

6-7 tablespoons ice cold water

5 tablespoons vegan butter

 

Method:

1. Heat a large oven proof pot with olive oil. Then add onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and as it starts to brown, add celery and shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2. Add carrots, capsicum and white wine. Continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.

3. Add the paprika, liquid smoke, lemon thyme, bay leaves and parsley.

4. Saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato pulp. Continue to cook until the carrots start to soften

5. Add the zucchini, kidney beans, liquid stock, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then leave to a simmer for 30 minutes.

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

7. Before placing the stew in the oven, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl add flour, cheddar, and parsley. Then add the butter and mix it through with your hands. Then add cold water one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

8. Roll the dough into about 12 balls.

9. Top the stew with the dumplings on the outer edge.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve.

*Serves 6

dsc06792

Trolls Party

Over the Easter weekend, we had Octavia’s 2nd birthday Party. The theme was Trolls since it’s her favourite movie at the moment. We all had a fantastic day and I’m so happy how everything came together. Everyone seemed to have a great time and enjoy the food. Octavia loved her cake and received some really nice gifts.

When I was planning the party I did a little research to see what other people did for their Trolls Parties. It’s amazing what people come up with. I had limited time looking after a toddler that keeps bringing home new bugs from kindy. We also were only expecting about 25 people so the day was going to be low-key, with only a handful of children to entertain.

DSC08258

DSC08238DSC08243DSC08219

Continue reading “Trolls Party”

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

Today was my beautiful girl’s 2nd birthday. I can’t believe that this little person has been in our life for such a short time but has brought us so much joy. I couldn’t imagine life without her now.

She was so excited about her big day. Ever since it was her father’s birthday she knows that birthday equals cake. She was extra bubbly and a little bit cheeky and frustrating at times, but nothing took that smile off her face. I had grand plans of getting her a build-a-bear, but after she rearranged the store we reconsidered. She was still very happy that she got to sushi train and that her cousins came to visit.

Octavias birthday.png

I wanted to make something special for her big day. I also wanted to trial my recipe before her big troll party on the weekend. These strawberry cupcakes feature a surprise strawberry center and the frosting is spiked with strawberry jam. According to the family, they were delicious. Octavia really enjoyed her as well. The only thing I may change before the big day is to use white sugar instead of coconut sugar. This is only to allow the natural food colouring to change the colour of the cupcake. I did try a bit in the batter but that caramel colour would not budge.

I also made a batch of mini cupcakes for Octavia’s kindy class. I used the same recipe but just cut the strawberries in halves or quarters and cooked the 36 cupcakes for only 12 minutes.

DSC08123

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

(vegan, nut free)

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups unbleached plain flour

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt

1 cup soy milk or other plant milk

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

12 frozen strawberries

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegan butter

3 cups powdered sugar

½ cup smooth Strawberry jam

natural red food coloring (optional)

100’s & 1000’s (natural coloured, optional)

Continue reading “Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting”