Orecchiette with Tofurky Sausage and Broccoli

Orecchiette is one of my favourite pasta since I was a child. It actually means ‘small ears’ and originated from the Italian region of Puglia (the heel of the boot). It is traditionally paired with rapini (Orecchiette alle cime di rapa) or a tomato based sauce with horse meat (Orecchiette con ragu’ di cavallo). However, since these ingredients are rarer and/or not appetising, I often see it paired with sausage, broccoli and chilli.

This is a veganised version of a recipe by Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, which was adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe found in  Lidia’s Italian TableI used Tofurky Sauage in place of Italian sausage as well as a salted organic vegan butter and vegetable stock. Jenn also uses Pecorino Romano, which is my favourite Italian cheese, but I held back, as I’m trying to go completely dairy free right now. There is plenty of flavour in this dish, so you really don’t need cheese or even a vegan cheese substitute. Of course, I tested this recipe on my meat and dairy loving partner, who approved of the flavours and didn’t add any sneaky cheese when I wasn’t looking. This recipe is quick and easy and of course delicious as well.

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Ginger Anzac Biscuits

Last Wednesday we celebrated Anzac day in Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates and remembered the soldiers fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It also celebrates all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Biscuits originated from WW1, as these biscuits were originally made by women’s groups and wives and sent to the soldiers. They were specially made with ingredients that would travel well, which typically included rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and desiccated coconut. It still remains a tradition to make Anzac Biscuits for this national holiday, but they are also popular to consume throughout the year as well.

Anzac biscuits are usually quite hard. I have never been a huge fan of them, as I prefer softer biscuits that don’t break a tooth. Homemade Anzac biscuits are a little softer then the hard commercial ones, but they do have chewy whole oats, which I’m also not a fan of. Most people do love them though, so I guess its a preference for me.

I never make Anzac biscuits myself, but we were having a BBQ with the family for the day and I really wanted to make something sweet. My intention was to use up the Buderim Crystallised Ginger, which I bought by accident when I was looking to replenish my Buderim Naked Ginger snack stash. I have been addicted to dried ginger since Marco’s Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. They are a great substitute for late night chocolate cravings and nobody likes them except me, so win win. I asked the kids if they prefer muffins or cookies and cookies won, so when I was looking for some inspiration I thought why not spike some Anzacs with a ginger infusion.

My recipe is a little different to the original. Most modern recipes call for butter, whole rolled oats, boiling water, golden syrup or treacle, and white or brown sugar. I wanted mine to be soft and chewy, but without raw oaty flavour and overly sweet taste. So I grind the rolled oats, skipped the golden syrup and traded regular sugar for coconut sugar. I also added some ground ginger and crystallised ginger, which gave a pleasant ginger flavour, that even the kids liked since the baking took away the ginger burn. These are also vegan, which is you can share with your vegan and dairy intolerant friends. I’m pretty happy with this recipe so I think this will be a tradition that I will continue every year.

 

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Coriander Pesto Noodle Bowl

We aren’t huge fans of coriander in my household. It’s not a herb we cook with a lot or use as a garnish. One way that I do like to use it is when I make Coriander Cashew Pesto, to serve with potatoes (eg. Roasted Potato Salad with Coriander Pesto Aioli). Something magical happens when you blend it with cashews and the taste transforms into something really different delicious. Another way I love to have it is with noodles and sauteed vegetables.

This is a delicious 15-minute meal that you can make when you hangry and need to get some healthy greens in your body asap. I whipped this up last night after my toddler was put to bed and I finally had some peace to make something without complaints. After it was made and eaten I figured the rest of the family would probably have enjoyed this too. I just won’t mention its coriander next time…

You can make this dish gluten-free, by changing the noodles. I really like the crunch of green beans and bok choy, but you can use any quick cooking greens. If you don’t have cooked or can chickpeas,  swap for tofu or some whole cashews. The Coriander Pesto can be made ahead of time. I also used this batch for in a chicken schnitzel and salad sandwich, on top of brown rice crackers and dollop on homemade veggie pizza.

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Mini Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Jam Frosting

For Octavia’s 3rd birthday this year, I made some special cupcakes for her big party, with her favourite fruit of the moment, blueberries. These mini cupcakes are a great size for little people and dessert tables with a few options.

This recipe is similar to the cupcakes I made last year for her Trolls 2nd Birthday. This year I changed the fruit, shrunk them down, used less sugar in my frosting and organic butter inside of Nutlex. I found that the butter did better in the heat since Nutlex seems to melt and separate. If you have a better dairy-free butter alternative in your country then feel free to make them vegan. If you can’t get a good quality vegan butter then an organic grass-fed butter is the healthier option if you really want to include the frosting.

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Pasta with Lemon Cashew Cream Sauce, Mushroom and Zucchini

This recipe was not meant to be the star of lunch today. It was just meant to accompany the Roasted Carrot Hummus from my new amazing cookbook, Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan, however, it was just so delicious I had to share it.

 

 

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Turmeric Spiced Couscous Ratatouille with Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki

What do you do when you’re so hot and hangry and there seems likes there’s nothing to eat for lunch. Well, nothing except some leftover couscous and a few veggies in the fridge. Salad would be my usual go-to, but my little girl doesn’t eat salad. I thought about a warm salad with beans and veggies, but I had no canned beans. So this lunch was created in 15 minutes using whatever I could find on hand.

I spiced the veggies with Turmeric Latte spice blend, which has been neglected lately in back of the cupboard. The Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki was also a nice refreshing side that helped cool the meal down. Octavia won’t swallow cucumber, so she got yoghurt and with a dash of honey on the side, so everybody wins.

What is your go-to dish that you can whip up in a jiffy in times of hangriness?

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Serbian Slava Celebration

Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.

I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.

Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic,  you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.

  • Why do you celebrate Slava?

We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.

  • Who is your families patron saint?

Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.

  • What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?

We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did. 

  • What are some typical dishes served on Slava?

Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised. 

  • Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?

We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.

  • Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
You can pick up a Slava. I think it would be great to keep the tradition going. Marco’s slava is St Luka, that Victor’s father (Marco’s grandfather) used to celebrate. Zoran (Marco’s uncle) in Serbia celebrates St Luka as the oldest son and Dusan (Marco’s cousin and son of Zoran) will continue on. Victor (Marco’s father) could have here but he never really thought about it. It is on 31st of October and it’s called Luke the Evangelist in English, you can search it up
  • How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year? 

We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best. 

 

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Vegan Ricotta and Veggie Lasagne

All this recent celebrating has left me feeling heavy and tired. It all started with Marco’s birthday Feast of the Seven Kingdoms, continued with Christmas, New Years and Serbian Christmas. All that delicious food was meat and dairy heavy, which are the two things that I don’t run well on. They were also not great for eating during the heat of summer. So as part of my New Years goals, I am going to start eating lighter. I still wanna enjoy my favourite homely dishes, but I need to modify them a little.

This lasagne is a quite light and guilt free. It has no dairy and is packed full of protein and flavour. Tofu has been used in place for real Ricotta. I adapted the ricotta recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Rockin Ricotta. The blend of ingredients doesn’t have that typical soy flavour. It tastes light and bright. There is no need for cheese substitutes either.

Feel free to make alterations to the lasagne sheets or vegetables. Gluten-free pasta can be used instead if semolina pasta doesn’t agree with you. Shredded carrot, shaved broccoli or baby spinach would all work nicely.

I made this dish for my daughter and her little cousin, who is seven. Octavia gladly gobbled it up because lasagne and tofu are her favourites. My niece, however, isn’t a big fan of tofu, but she still gave it a try. She was very happy with it. The only thing she complained about was the mushrooms, but since there weren’t many she agreed to eat them. I admit it’s not the prettiest lasagne, but if the kids liked it, mission accomplished.

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Green Split Pea and Broccoli Pasta

I am always trying to find quick and nutritious ways to cook broccoli and legumes in an interesting way for my daughter. Broccoli is probably the only vegetable she will outright say is yucky. However recently she has been saying she wants to eat it in between meals. I’m not sure if she is joking or shes finally coming around due to the daily exposure. Legumes have also been a challenge to serve in their whole form. Split peas and lentils are great introductory legumes for little people because they are small and soft when cooked and don’t have that skin that can get stuck in their throat (like chickpeas). I like to add them to pasta sauces, lasagna, curries and stews, for more fibre and protein.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and it has gone down without a fight. I have left the option of adding organic free-range ham, for carnivores or flexitarians. My daughter loves ham, which she discovered at Kindy. My local organic butcher makes their own leg ham, so it’s the only one I let her eat occasionally. She would seriously choose ham over sweets any day. If you’re a grown-up vegan you could use some liquid smoke or vegan ham. Although this recipe is delicious and healthy without these additions. If you still don’t use salt in your toddlers’ diet, you can always skip the liquid stock or just make your own salt free version. I use to do this and freeze them in baby freezer pods. You could also use the first part of the recipe of green split peas mixture as a healthier alternative to potato mash.

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Roasted Potato Salad with Coriander Pesto Aioli

Do you hate coriander (cilantro) or just not that fond of it? I am not crazy about it myself and my partner really hates it. However, there is one way that we love it. When blended into a creamy pesto sauce, the taste transforms into something else.

We love coriander pesto drizzled over roasted potatoes. I usually serve it over roasted kipfler potatoes or roasted sweet potato mash (flesh removed from whole sweet potato).

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Vegan Tuna Salad: 3 ways

Tuna is something I gave up long ago. I was wanting to avoid BPA, Mercury and was trying to follow a plant-based diet. Fast-forward a few years later and I still remember the delicious taste of tuna but it’s not so tempting anymore. I came up with this recipe a while back I found that it really fixes my tuna craving.

This mock tuna is primarily made with chickpeas and get’s its fishy taste from the umeboshi vinegar and nori. You can enjoy it in a salad, on a sandwich or wrap it in a nori roll.

 

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Carrot Ginger Mojito

Now that it’s starting to warm up again juices are back on the menu! I love this recipe. Its refreshing, healthy and a little bit fancy.

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Carrot Ginger Mojito 

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

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the sparkling water in a juicer.

2. Place the juice in a tall glass or large jar and top with some sparkling water and some mint leaves to serve.

*Serves 1

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