Italian Stuffed Eggplants

Italian food is so dear to my heart. I love the taste and flavours but mostly I love the stories, memories and family comforts it brings. I grew up with my Nonnas cooking the Italian favourites whenever we would go to visit and as I get older the nostalgia becomes so much more important. It resonates with more than just eating, if you have ever had the pleasure of eating at an Italian family feast you will know exactly what I mean.

I love the fact that food brings life around the table and Italian food is the epitome  of this. The love and time that is put into cooking and serving the most satisfying plate of pure home cooked food is evident with the smiles and loud chatter that evolves just by enjoying this type of food.

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Whole Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Beetroot Hummus & Quinoa Flatbread

Have you seen the latest trend which seems to be making an appearance on many foodies blogs, plates and social media?

I’m talking about the new obsession with whole roasted cauliflower. It’s the vegetarian version of the meat lovers lamb roast. Many healthy wholefood cooks have been seen making different versions with Jamie Oliver also jumping in on the new idea.

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And like all new trends I just couldn’t resist in trying it out for myself to see what all the hype was about.  I often roast it in florets with turmeric and spices on a weekly basis so what was so special about this?

If I have to be perfectly honest it tastes exactly the same as the way I always make it though the cauliflower turns out very tender inside and the spiced yoghurt gives it a nice crusty coating on the outside. It also does look a whole lot nicer too and makes for an awe-inspiring centre piece to wow dinner guests.

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Fish for dinner? Baked Fish with Fennel, Leek & Tomatoes

The husband felt like fish for dinner the other night so true to form he can not just bring home some fillets of fish liked asked he had to bring home a tasting assortment of the entire seafood shop..

Anyone who knows him well would know how big of a seafood lover he is. Fishing/crabbing is in his blood, it is his passion, hobby, his way of unwinding. It is his ultimate, he thrives on it. Same goes for the love of seafood. If I asked him what is something he couldn’t live without or what would his last meal would consist of it would most definitely, 100% be Seafood. So when I agreed for him to buy some fresh fish fillets for dinner as he hasn’t been out to fish in a while, naturally he comes home with 1kg green prawns, 2 dozen fresh oysters, 4 squid hoods and the fillets of fish that he went in for. Just can’t seem to help himself like most men at Bunnings hareware store. For now it has turned into a mid-week seafood extravaganza!

To start off with I hadn’t prepared anything so I got him working. “Right you’re on the calamari for the kids start crumbing, then onto the garlic prawns for the wok. Make an avocado salsa and top the oysters with lemon and ponzu and let me get this fish in the oven.” I said in an assertive tone. We were in full gear. “kids fix the table and then get out of the kitchen!”

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imageFor the fish I love a simple pairing of sweet fennel and leek, the sourness of lemon, the hit of chilli and juiciness of blistered tomatoes to compliment the delicate flavour of the fish without over powering it. The aromas that emerged from the oven were ones of sweet sensations, adding the fish for the last 7-8 mins delivers the most perfectly cooked soft flesh that just break apart and melts in your mouth. Combining all the flavours of leek, fennel with the lemon, garlic and thyme marinade you have a simple, healthy meal that is fit for a king or to impress any posh seafood connoisseur.

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We could not indulge in such extravagance without going all out and popping a bottle of Moet champagne to top the night off.

So there we sat on a Thursday night sipping on Moet, eating our entrée’ of Oysters with avocado salsa with ponzu, wok fired garlic and chilli prawns. Main of Baked Flame Tail Snapper with Leek, Fennel & Tomatoes whilst the kids enjoyed their home cooked crumbed calamari and garlic prawns.

The pressure was on but with a little team effort we pulled it off!

Needless to say I turned to hubby and said I’ll be getting the fish from now on.

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Baked Fish with Leek, Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

4 pieces boneless white fish fillets ( I used local flame tail snapper)

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

fresh thyme sprigs or parsley

1/2 red chilli sliced (optional)

1/2 leek top removed and sliced

1 fennel top removed and sliced

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200’C
  2. Cut fish in half to make 8 smaller pieces
  3. In a medium size bowl combine, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest only, salt and pepper and thyme. Mix well
  4. Place the fish pieces in the marinade and coat the fish. Set a side
  5. In a lightly oiled baking dish place fennel and leek evenly over the base of the dish
  6. Drizzle with half the lemon juice toss through. Top with the cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook in the oven for 30 mins
  8. Add the fish pieces to the baking dish pouring over any remaining marinade and cook for a further 7-8 mins until fish is just firm and cooked through
  9. Remove from the oven pour over remaining lemon juice and serve with baked leek and fennel

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Mexican Black Bean & Quinoa Lettuce Burgers

Have you ever tried lettuce instead of bread buns?

I like to switch it up and use lettuce as a healthier alternative to burger or Mexican night. This vegetarian burger version is packed with the goodness of quinoa, we all know how much I love quinoa. It is such a versatile ingredient to use instead of rice, meat, pasta and makes can be used in so many dishes. Now who would have thought even a quinoa burger. Black beans, capsicum, paprika, hint of chilli gives it that Mexican flair with the addition of avocado you seriously can’t go wrong.

We love quick easy dinner choices during the week and Mexican or burger nights the kids get super excited about. Quinoa burgers are still a stretch for my boys so I made them homemade lean beef burgers with hidden veggies. They do like lettuce so I’m lucky though the fresh bakery bread rolls are hard to pass up.

Quinoa patties are also convenient to take to work with a salad too and keep well in the fridge for a good few days. Add the sides you like smashed avocado and natural yoghurt works so well with a squeeze of lemon or lime to top.

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Creamy Braised Lentils with Mushrooms and Kalettes

After a huge weekend, actually I should say this week of party celebrations. It was nice to get back to healthy eating and to kick off the week with a meatless Monday dish of braised lentils was just the thing I needed.

As I become more in tuned with my body and health over the past few years, I honestly do enjoy meat free meals more and more. I cannot say I am a totally converted vegetarian, though I have cautiously reduced my intake on red meat. My digestive system has notably changed for the better.

There are so many different "diets" "labels" of lifestyle these days. Apart from ethical reasons I believe you don't need a label to live your life the way you want, you know your own body and what makes you feel good and works for you. If you are eating a high quantity of protein and iron enriched foods from other sources such as lentils, brussels sprouts, other legumes and leafy greens then reducing or cutting out your red meat intake won't hurt you contrary to what we have been lead to believe over the years. Increasing your intake of plant-based foods you are providing your body with not just protein and iron but an array of vitamins and minerals that support a healthy, functioning body.

Whatever your dietary requirements this meal will make your taste buds sing and dance, leave you feeling full yet less sluggish and provide you with the protein your body requires. Enjoy on it's own as a meal or as a side with your meat or fish of choice if you prefer.

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