Saturday, 24 March 2012

Meal For One - Sausage Lentil Casserole

Cooking for one is hard. When contemplating a one off dish I usually end up reaching for the cereal packet as it just doesn't seem worth the effort. Tonight me and the man were invited to a party that I had been looking forward to all week, alas I was struck down by flu, so I kissed my man goodbye and settled in for a night of atrocious Saturday night television and Shreddies. However the Shreddies weren't cutting it, so I went searching the cupboards for something more satisfying. I wanted a no-fuss one-pot wonder with plenty of flavor.  

Adapted from

Sausage Lentil Casserole


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sausages
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp tomato puree
  • 75g Puy or green lentils
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp redcurrant jelly (optional)
  • Parsley to garnish (optional)

1) Heat the oil in a large casserole pan. Throw the sausages in and brown them all over. Remove from the pan then throw in the shallots, carrots and garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the shallots, carrots and garlic cloves have some color. For the last minute of cooking add in the chilli flakes and herbs. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further minute.
2) Pour in the lentils so they can infuse in all of the flavours, then cover with the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Add the sausages back to the pan cover with a lid and let it simmer away for 35 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and serve sprinkled with parsley.
Best enjoyed whilst loudly criticizing the contestants of "Come Dine With Me".

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Lunch Box- Quinoa Avocado Salad

Main: Quinoa avocado salad
Fruit: Some kind of fancy pear from M&S
Treat: The last of the brownie!

I arrived home on Sunday after a week skiing in the Swiss Alps, thankfully still in one piece. However, I'd eaten enough cheese to last me a life-time, so this week's menu has been quite vegetable and wholegrain based, to diminish the considerable cheese hangover.

Quinoa Avocado Salad

Yield: 4 lunch box servings

1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 avocados, diced
2 red capsicums, diced
1 red onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar
Salt and pepper to season

Cook your quinoa for 20 minutes in a large pot of boiling water, or until the seeds begin to unravel. Cool, and add the chopped vege. Thin down the mayo with the vinegar and add. Mix well, season liberally and chill before serving.

You could easily substitute brown rice for the quinoa, and add any vege to hand - some chopped parsley or coriander would work well too.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lunch Box - Chickpea and Lentil Salad

Main: Chickpea and Lentil Salad
Fruit: Fresh mango
Treat: Brownie

I found this recipe via Tastespotting on The Galley Gourmet and have been looking forward to making it all week. Sun-dried tomato, parmesan, garlic and balsamic vinegar - could you get a better tasting dressing? You could cover wood chippings with this dressing and it would taste delicious. You could add just about any salad ingredients you have to hand - I will try it with tomato and avocado next time too - yum.   

Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
Yield: 4 lunch box servings

For the dressing
8 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup olive oil

For the salad
4 cups cold water
1 cup French green lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

In a food processor, puree the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, Parmesan, salt and pepper to a thick paste.  With the motor running, add the oil slowly through the feed tube until the dressing is emulsified. Taste for seasoning; set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the water and lentils to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but not losing their skins.  Thoroughly drain them in a colander then spread them out on a large rimmed baking sheet to cool slightly; transfer to a large bowl.

Add the chickpeas, red onion, bell pepper, and cucumber to the lentils; toss to combine.  Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and toss until the legumes and vegetables are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the basil over the salad and toss gently to avoid bruising the basil.  Taste for seasoning.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature with a drizzle of additional balsamic vinegar if needed.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Lunch Box - Spinach, red pepper and gruyere quiche

Main: Spinach, red pepper and gruyere quiche
Fruit: Green seedless grapes
Treat: Banana and choc chip muffin

Monday, 5 March 2012

Spinach, red pepper and gruyere quiche

Adapted from


For the dough:
150 grams all purpose flour
Salt to season
75 grams cold butter, diced
3 tablespoons iced water

For the filling:
Olive oil to drizzel
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 large handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (I used the jarred variety)
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
100 grams gruyere or any kind of strongly flavored cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to season


To begin make your dough. It's a good idea to run your hands under cold water beforehand, to get them as cold as possible so they don't melt the butter. In a bowl mix the flour and salt, then add the diced cold butter and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the iced water in one tablespoon at a time until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. On a floured surface roll out your dough to roughly a 32 cm circle. Transfer your circle of dough to a 22 cm pie dish and gently press into shape. Beware that the dough will shrink when baked, so make sure you have enough to cover the sides of the dish. Prick the base with a fork and bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, in a pan heat the olive oil then saute the garlic and onion until soft. Add the spinach and gently saute until wilted. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. Add 3/4 of the grated cheese, the chopped red peppers and the spinach mixture. Mix, then pour into your pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes, then take out and cover with the remaining cheese. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the cheese is golden and the pie is well cooked.

Best eaten in front of your work-mates who are all on diets. Enjoy!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Creamy Curried Carrot Soup

So we're going on holiday next week and I'm determined to get rid of all the perishable goods in my fridge before we go. I'm a bit OCD like that. Anyway, we had an enormous bag of carrots languishing in the vege drawer, so the only answer was to make carrot soup. I'm normally more of a pumpkin soup girl, in fact I've never made carrot soup before, so I was determined to make it really spicy and flavorsome.


700 grams of carrots (about 7 large carrots)
2 brown onions
2 cloves garlic
25 grams butter
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 litre vege or chicken stock
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to season


Dice the onions and finely chop the garlic. Saute in a large pot with the butter until soft. Add the spices and mix well. Add the carrots (roughly chopped) and saute for about 10 minutes. Add the stock, milk and season as required. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, or  until the carrots are cooked through. Leave to cool if you can, otherwise  blend carefully so as not to splash yourself with burning hot soup. It will take about 10 minutes to blend into a smooth creamy consistency. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Best served with buttered soldiers while listening to UB40 on a Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Lunch Box - Focaccia with ham, mustard, cheese and gherkin

Main: Focaccia with ham, mustard, cheese and gherkin
Fruit: Fresh pineapple chunks and seedless red grapes
Treat: Brownie

Amazing yoga session this morning. I found some extra space in my back bends that I swear wasn't there before! Why is it that just as I'm getting into the swing of the week it's over? Happens every time. Never mind, I'm looking forward to some good sleep-ins and general lying about.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Menu 05-03-12

Some people give me a strange look when I mention that I make a weekly menu plan. Did I say some? I meant all. It's a habit which is born out of necessity, rather than a desire to be insanely over-organised. I work 9 hours a day. Combined with daily yoga practice and my commute I'm out of the house for 12 hours per day minimum, so when I get home I don't have the time or energy to ponder what I'm going to make for dinner or go to the supermarket. What I need is a piece of paper which tells me what I'm going to eat, and the ingredients in my cupboard and fridge to make it right away. Did I mention? I get really grumpy when I'm hungry, which R can testify!

So, every week I look online for new meal ideas and recipes (Tastespotting is my favourite site for this). By Friday I have a bunch of recipes to try. I organise them into a menu (as below) then make a shopping list with every ingredient I'm going to need. I then go one step further (this is where it gets crazy, be warned) and organise the shopping list into the order of the supermarket - fruit and vege first, then meat, dairy, and dried foods at the end. It makes our supermarket trip go smoothly and as quickly as possible, and we're not constantly doubling back to get something we forgot, or getting lured into the junk food aisle by mistake.

Lunches Monday-Tuesday

Gruyère, red pepper and spinach quiche
Fruit salad

Lunches Thursday-Friday
Chick-pea and lentil salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette
Banana and chocolate chip muffin (home-baked)*
Fresh berries

Dinner Saturday
Caribbean chicken and rice (freeze left overs for emergency meals!)

Dinner Sunday-Monday
Baked penne with eggplant, zuccini and tomato

Dinner Tuesday-Wednesday
Marinated tofu with vegetable stir-fry and noodles

Dinner Thursday - out

Dinner Friday
Home-made burgers with hand cut spicy potato wedges (no recipe - I just make it up as I go along!)

Banana split with vanilla ice-cream and warm Mars bar sauce (melt a chopped-up Mars bar in a small pot with a splash of milk... that's it!)

*A note on the baked goods. Every time I do any baking I make a large batch - 24 or so biscuits, slices or muffins. I leave a few out for the coming week and freeze the rest for lunches. This way one batch of baking can easily last for three weeks worth of lunches.