Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad

I visited my auntie the other weekend and I have always loved her food. She from an Asian country and has a very special way of cooking and preparing food and I think it is just awesome. Everytime we visit with her and her family there would be the most delicious meals on the table combining ‘modern’ food issues such as low-fat, gluten-free or vegetarian and very traditional tastes, cooking methods or ingredients brought over from her home country.
This time I fell for a really yummy salad which I already re-made last week and which makes a really perfect office lunch. It is rich in vitamins and low in fat, it is of course gluten-free and satiable: Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad.

Here’s what you need for appr. 3 lunches:
– 1 large beetroot – cook unpeeled for about 45 – 60 min in water, then peel and dice
– 5 potatoes, cooked and diced – be careful they are not overcooked!
– 3 carrots, diced and cooked for about 7 mins – they should remain al dente!
– 3 pieces of green onion, sliced
– 1 small can of kidney beans, drained and washed
– 6 pieces of gerkins, diced
Dressing:
– olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt / pepper, freshly chopped parsley

The preparation is really easy once you have cooked the beetroot, potatoes and carrots. Of course you can do the cooking in advance, a day ahead or so and then assemble the salad later.
Add all ingredients to large saladbowl, whisk together the dressing and mix with the salad. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. And this is basically it. The salad keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days – but by then it will be gone anyway because it is so yummy. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

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Summerly days behind and a long weekend ahead of us

It has been pretty quiet on the blog – for no better reason than: a whiff of summer. The last couple of days have been so blissfully summery that we just HAD to spend each and every spare minute outside. Though we didn’t manage it down to the beach again we still had a great time and the kids simply loved it. They dug straight into the sandpit or the tree swing or joined me in planting some pots and eagerly watered them. Also getting dressed in the mornings was no longer trouble and fighting – it was quick and easy and done in no time seeing that we only had to take some shorts and shirts on and off we could go.
Today is the first day for the weather to cool off slightly – but that’s ok so we finally get things done inside the house and also here on the blog.
Despite the warmth and long outside hours I managed to try a number of new gluten-free dishes which I will hopefully type in rather sooner than later. I have tried some more Quinoa, a delicious office lunch containing beetroot, red beans and gerkins and a brilliantly moist buckwheat bread, just to mention a few.

For now there lies a long weekend ahead of us, which we will spend visiting dear old friends down in the southwest of the country. This means a pretty long drive in the car – 4 or 5 hours depending on the traffic – with the 3 monkeys in the backseat. I already started preparing some entertainment (a.k.a. taking some long forgotten CDs and books) and yummy provisions. I’ll try sushi rolls for the drive and the first day, which we will most likely spend at the Zoo when we get there. I know hubby, Miss Monkey and I myself just LOVE sushi and I want to leave the rolls pretty big instead of cutting them down into bits to make it more of a to-go-snack than fancy meal. I think of using tuna, avocado, capsicum und cucumber as filling and I hope it makes a good meal for a day on the road. Also, I’m curious to see if the smallest monkey will have it – though this one is a real food machine and normally gulps almost everything. The middle monkey won’t have it as far as I know. He has been a real food-moaner lately and I think this really sucks but so far I haven’t come up with something to do about it and I really don’t want to force food into him. Basically, though, I think he’s is just a lazy eater – too lazy to try out new tastes. Hmm, we’ll see how it goes when we’re away for those days. I will definitely keep you posted.

Mothers’ Day

All you Moms out there – have a happy day today!
Mine started at 5.16 a.m. sharp when the little monkey woke up and was no way going back to sleep again. Not exactly the kind of kickstart for the day I had in mind. It got better though. Shortly after the smallest was up also the two bigger monkeys were wide awake and without discussing agreed to keep an eye on their little brother and keep themselves company and busy so hubby and I could stay in bed for another hour of sleep.
When it was eventually time for me to get up, too, I got spoiled with loads of hand- and love-made presents from my kids:

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It kind of brought me back to those days when I myself was actually making presents for my Mom on Mothers’s Days, instead of just running down to the shops at the last minute to simply buy her something. I know my middle monkey spent a whole afternoon, say 3 to 4 hours, this last week to make my present! All by himself, behind closed doors. Miss Monkey was quicker and more self-dependent but the great card she gave me was all hand- and love-made, too.

Also, I am glad we decided to take our own Moms and also one of my Grandmas out to celebrate today. We drove out to the country with them, took them to a lovely, picturesque, refurbished castle where we had a remarkably delicious brunch all together. It was a glorious, happy morning and it also made my own Mothers’ Day really perfect.

I am especially happy and grateful today because very early this morning I had to learn of the death of a woman I know. I cannot even say we were close friends because we were not. I got to know her when living in Australia; she worked with my husband and we occasionally met. She died this morning after battling cancer. She and her family are beyond brave and positive and strong. They had to bear more than anybody can possibly bear and they never gave up. She was a Mom, too, and she died on Mothers’ Day morning leaving two small kids and a husband, a family, friends, people who knew her and who were happy to have her in their lives. I feel overly sad to know that she’s gone because she of all people would have deserved to win this battle. And I feel grateful and blessed to be here, happy and healthy, with my kids, husband, family and friends happy and healthy, too.

Katja, I know you are up there and keep an eye on your dear ones. I wish from now on, there will only be sunshine for you on every single day, because this is the least you deserve.

The easiest banana-bread ever – gluten-free

Tonight I  threw together a very quick banana bread on impulse. I was sorting out the fridge and groceries as my weekend shopping is due tomorrow and when doing so I came across those 3 very   V-E-R-Y ripe bananas of which I knew for sure nobody in this house will ever eat. Since we’ve been wasting some food, especially overdue fruits, lately, I felt bound to use these poor creatures for something nice. So I was quickly looking up some recipes on the internet but eventually struck the best in one of my older cook books – I just had to convert it to make it gluten-free and there I was: Quickly and overly easy assembling a banana bread. As easy as the prep was as yummy was / is the result. The hardest part of the making was actually the 40-minute-wait while the loaf was baking. 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need for a medium loaf:
3 very ripe bananas
some tablespoons of either maple sirup or pita sirup – really depending on how sweet you like it
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg white, beaten
125g cake’n’bake gluten-free flour
125 g rice flour

Place the bananas, the egg (the whole one… keep the stiff egg white for later), sirup and oil in your food processor and mix until the bananas are broken up and everything is well-combined.
In a bowl, mix the 2 flour types, then add the banana-mixure and stir through thoroughly, at the end add the stiff egg white and blend.
Fill the batter into a loaf pan and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes on medium heat (175 degrees C).

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It will not come up very much and like most banana breads it will stay a little moist on the inside. I think it would also be nice to add some nuts or/and choc-bits. It keeps well in a plastic bag and tastes delicious when reheated / roasted in your toaster. Plus: This one is really low-fat! Voilà! I hope you enjoy.

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’ Recipe

This is a must-try! I added some chicken breast filet for the men in the house 😉 Thanks heaps to http://www.nerdsteak.com

NERDSTEAK

Quinoa 'Fried Rice' Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

If you are not familiar with Quinoa and are looking for a good recipe to give it a try, this is the one! Make sure you prep. all of your ingredients ahead of time, because once it is stir-fry time, the cooking process goes pretty quick!

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onions plus extra for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 cups cooked Incan Quinoa Blend
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sweetened seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat peanut oil in a large sauté pan or wok on high heat, then add yellow onion and carrot. Sauté for about 2 minutes, then add green onions, garlic and…

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Chicken Pie – trying out guten-free puff pastry

When I was browsing the store for gluten-free things the other day I first time noticed they even have a full ‘Frozen gluten-free food’ section there! Heaven! This was really THE discovery of that day. Taking a closer look the frozen puff pastry automatically caught my eye. I LOVE puff pastry, no matter if sweet or hearty and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. So of course I bought a pack even if it was really pricy compared to regular frozen puff pastry. Anyway. I bought it, took it home, stored it in my freezer and started hunting for a good recipe to use the pastry. I found one on the internet, a pie. A chicken pie. I’ve always wanted to make a pie, even when I wasn’t even gluten-free, so this was my chance. Just let me tell you: It was the easiest thing to make and everyone loved it.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

– 500g chicken breast, no bones, no skin, cut into 3×3 cm pieces (approximately….)

– 250g fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced

– 2 onions, finely chopped (so the kids won’t notice…)

– a bit of cream (I used Creme Fraiche), ca. 100g

– herbs, if you like

– 1 sheet of puff pastry – it should be defrosted by the time you need it

– 150g diced bacon

– 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

– 300ml vegetable stock (watch out for gluten-free stock!)

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In a large pan, heat some olive oil and insert mushrooms, onions, bacon and chicken. Let it stew for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a boil. In a very small bowl mix the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water to get an even paste. When the mix is boiling in your pan, add the flour-paste and stir thoroughly, so the sauce will become thicker. Remove from heat and add the cream as well as salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

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Fill the mix into an oven-safe dish and cover it with the puff-pastry, just like a lid. You can now mix an egg yolk and some milk and ‘paint’ the pastry’ with it, it makes a nice tan when the dish is done.

Put in your oven on medium heat (170 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll see when the pastry is done.

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Serve some fresh salad or cooked veggies as side dish and this makes a perfect, quick and easy family dinner. Voilà!

Family favourite: Lasagne

Lasagne is one of the most popular dishes of our family and one that really EVERYONE likes without any fuzzing around. Naturally, lasagne comes with pasta sheets and pasta comes with gluten. 😦 So I’ve been looking around and indeed found gluten-free pasta sheets in the store which I thought I should give a try. So I made a big dish of ‘normal’ lasagna and a smaller one for me and my middle monkey using those gluten-free sheets. I was a little skeptical beforehand as those gluten-free ones demand more prep than the others; you have to pre-cook them but also be careful not to over-cook them so it’s a bit of a tightrope walk. But in the end it turned out to be a really good and yummy substitute. So here’s how “my” home-made lasagne is done:

What you’ll need to feed a family of 5-7:

– 750g minced beef

– 500ml tomato passata

– 1 small can of tomato purree

– 1 onion, finely chopped

– 1 zucchini, diced

– 2-3 carrots, diced

– 1 capsicum, diced

– lasagne sheets, gluten-free if you need to – then cook according to the instructions on the cover.

– 250g mixed grated cheese, I used grana padano and gourd

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In a pan, heat some olive oil and add the beef and onions, stir constantly until the beef and onions get a little tanned. 😉 In a large pot, heat some more olive oil and add the veggies, do not stir too much as they should also get a little tanned and don’t burn that easy anyway. When the beef/onion mix is well cooked, add it to the veggies and also add the the tomato purree, stir thoroughly until all is well-blended. Finally add the tomato passata and ca. 400ml of water (use it to rinse the bottle!) and bring everything to a boil, then season with salt, pepper, rosemary, herbs… whatever you like. Make sure the taste is really hearty, rather take some more salt than too little as the pasta sheets will soak up a lot later.

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Once the filling is done start the layering: Fill in some sauce into an oven pan or your usual lasagne dish so the bottom is lightly but fully covered. Then comes the pasta sheet, then the filling again — keep going until you used up all your filling making sure the last layer is Sauce not pasta! Cover with cheese and put in the oven. It usually takes 25-30 minutes until the pasta is well-done, use a temperature of 180-200 degrees C.

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Cut it up into pieces and enjoy! Voilà!

PS: This is one of the dishes that gets better every time you reheat it … Try it!

Quinoa Salad – Gluten-free office lunch

Hi all, I’ve finally made it and uploaded all the many new recipes I’ve been trying out lately. One of them is this delicious salad. It’s a nice one when still lukewarm but goes well when stored in the fridge, too. Preparation was as easy as it could possibly be since there’s not all too much chopping, dicing and cutting involved. I made this dish as a lunch-to-go for my office days and it was both light AND satiable, so here we go.

What you’ll need for 3-4 meals:

– 150g Quinoa

– 5 carrots, sliced

– 150g snow peas

– olive oil, honey, lemon juice

I topped it up with some yoghurt dressing before serving which made it very fresh:

–  200g plain yoghurt

– 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed

– salt

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Before you cook the Quinoa make sure you rinse it thoroughly under cold water, because it will be pretty bitter in taste if you don’t. Then add Quinoa, 450ml (triple amount of water) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a  pot and bring to a boil. Let it cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the stove, cover the pot and let it soak for 15-20 minutes using the remaining heat from the stove. You will see all the water will be gone by the time the Quinoa is nicely cooked.

Meanwhile, bring a medium sized pot filled with water to a boil, add a generous spoon of salt and when the water is really bubbling, add the carrots and snow peas. Let it cook on high heat for 5 minutes, then pour into a strainer and chill immediately with cold water.

In a small bowl mix 1 tbl. spoon honey, 4 tbl. spoons lemon juice and 5 tbl. spoons olive oil, salt and pepper. In case it doesn’t combine well because the honey is too gooey just heat it up in your microwave for 10-15 seconds, it will blend perfectly after that!

Once the Quinoa is cooked and the veggies have cooled, just add all ingredients to a large salad bowl and mix well, then (if you wish) apportion it into smaller containers if you want to take it out. The salad stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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For the yoghurt dressing blend yoghurt, some salt (little!) and garlic and poor 2-3 table spoons over the salad right before eating. Voilà!