Oven Baked Pumpkin, Leek and Millet Risotto

oven baked risotto

As a working mumma, my favourite part of my working day is coming home. And not because I’m getting to leave work (which some days I can’t wait to get out of there!), but because as soon as I step through our front door I hear… “Mummy’s home!!! It’s Mummy!! Hello Mummy!!” and have a little bundle of curls come running with her arms wide ready for a big cuddle. Not much can beat that. I have friends with bubs much younger who can’t crawl or talk or who are literally one week old and it’s like knowing that the awesome scene in a movie is coming up in a room of first time watchers. Smiling on the inside and the outside knowing that so much awesomeness is ahead for them.

How that relates to tonight’s recipe I have no idea. But to all you mums who may be having a hard time at the moment, the craziness will pass. The feeling overwhelmed isn’t forever. One day that little face is going to say “I love you Mummy” or you’ll be dancing together in the kitchen, shaking maraccas and trying hard not to cry at how freaking awesome being the mum to YOUR child is.

Now the feels are out… here is some warming autumn food to fill your belly with love.

Oven Baked Pumpkin, Leek and Millet Risotto – Serves 4

1/2 cup arborio rice

3/4 cup millet

500g piece of pumpkin peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1cm pieces

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 leek sliced into 1/2 rings and well rinsed

1 Tbsp butter

Zest 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup grated parmesan + extra for serving if desired

1L vegetable stock (I used 1.5 stock cubes to make this up)

Preheat oven to 200°C fan forced or 220°C conventional.

Place pumpkin, dried herbs, salt and pepper with a good glug of olive oil in a baking dish (you will use this dish to hold the whole risotto, I used a large pyrex baking dish). Stir to combine. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, cook stirring until soft and golden ~ 5-8 minutes. Add rice and millet, stir to coat grains. Add hot stock. Bring to a simmer. Take off heat and stir in parmesan.

Add rice mixture to the roasting pumpkin. Stir to combine. Cover with foil and return to oven. Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes, then remove foil. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, the excess liquid will soak up and the top will get just a little crunchy. Enjoy!

My little bundle of awesomeness xxxx

My little bundle of awesomeness xxxx

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Egg-Free Cinnamon and Apple Muffins

Egg Free Apple and CInnamon Muffins

What makes a tired toddler happy? Fresh out of the oven muffins made by mum! You know that something is going to be delicious when the raw batter smells AMAZING! This afternoon scrummy yummy was destined for my belly. We are very fortunate to have a beautiful and productive Jonathon Apple tree in our backyard. This year we have picked bucket loads of beautiful crispy, juicy apples. The season is all finished now and the final fruit were picked this week. They aren’t the prettiest of apples and some never really grew up, bit like little Peter Pan apples. They were even a bit green. These apples were perfect for this Egg-Free Cinnamon and Apple Muffin recipe. Possum has been our quality control master, testing each apple… with just one bite.

Our final apple bounty

Our final bounty, with bites taken out by our dear Possum (human!)

Egg-Free Cinnamon and Apple Muffins – makes 16 mini muffins

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water

200g full fat plain yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup milk

50g butter melted

3 small apples, peeled and chopped (or 2 medium)

Preheat oven to 200°C fan forced or 180°C standard. Grease a mini muffin tray (i always use butter).

Soak your chia seeds in water and leave for 15 minutes.

Once chia seeds are ready (they should look a bit like frog spawn…), mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I like to add all dry first to combine then all my wet ingredients. Just personal preference.

Spoon mixture into the greased mini muffin tray. Bake in your preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.

Allow to cool on cooling rack, or just gobble them up straight out of the oven!

You can thank me later for how amazing your house will smell 😉

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Patient Possum

Patient Possum

You gotta know when to hold ’em

If you’ve got any style or class, I’d like to think the title of this post was sung in your head. And just kept going with the rest of the song! I have fond memories of playing poker as a teenager with my then boyfriend and his mates. They all tended to drink a lot of beer, at that age I hardly drank at all. This was my secret weapon. Play safe until they all get totally drunk then take them all to the cleaners! Booya! Unfortunately we were all so poor (we were only 18) that we never bet with real money, just their parents shrapnel bowl (coin collection, not actual shrapnel. That would be deeply disturbing.). Otherwise I could be driving something a bit more swanky than a Honda Jazz….

And what does poker have to do with baby led weaning and meal planning??

Well tonight’s delicious meal is Leon’s Poker Night Chilli. Taken from the 4th book in the Leon Restaurant cookbook collection (I am missing only one, hint hint Legoman). If you are a new here, I love Leon. If you’re a more frequent reader, nothing new.

Leon: Family and Friends, Book 4

Leon: Family and Friends, Book 4

Legoman has told me which meals don’t really tickle his fancy… minestrone soup, chilli con carne, most meals without meat. I am pleased to report that when I made this for the second time in a week Legoman was delightfully happy and stated “Is that what you made the other night? I really like that one. Like, a lot.”.

So do click on the link for the recipe and have an equally happy husband in your house too!

Leon’s Poker Night Chilli

Affordability : EXCELLENT. For a meal super high in protein, this can be made very cheaply. Beef mince comes in differing quality/cost levels and is often in the clearance section at my local Woolies. You could easily make a double batch for under $15.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep takes about 10 minutes and cooking takes about 50 minutes from start to finish. My one gripe about the printed recipe is that up the top where it states number of serves, prep time and cook time, it states the cooking time is 10 minutes. But then the recipe says “simmer on low for 30-40 minutes”. Fail. I think it’s the Virgo in me that gets really irked by mistakes like that.

Complexity : LOW. Lovely and straight forward. The second time I made this, I hardly looked at the recipe. That, is a good recipe.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Lacks vegetables, but that is half the joy. The other half is the Mt Everest pile of cheese on top. Mmmmmmmmmmm. One little hint would be to brown off your mince well. And don’t scrimp on the simmer time, let it thicken up nicely.

Mess : LOW. One pot wonder. First night I used a saucepan, second night I used a large frypan. Both worked very well.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Try and not be full after a big bowl of meat, beans, rice and cheese. I dare you. Double dare even.

Possum Friendly? YES. An excellent meal for a bub with a pincer grasp. It’s a shame that Possum has totally shunned mince meat. She did put some in her mouth the second night. I held my breath. 5 seconds later it was spat out. Baby steps. She did eat about 6 red kidney beans out of the tin while we were cooking. But then refused to eat any in the actual meal.

Would I make it again? Yes, this is saved in the go to list in my head as it uses easily accessible ingredients, most of which are in my cupboard as a state of permanency.

Leon's Poker Night Chilli

Leon’s Poker Night Chilli

And I just want to make a little shout out for The Australian Climbing Festival which is going to be held in the Blue Mountains next weekend. Another great reason to come visit the Blue Mountains!!

Meat Free Week #2: I’d pay money for that

We are certainly off to a good start this week! Tonight’s Space Curry is a real winner! I knew we were onto something good when Possum wanted seconds, and thirds. Legoman said “I don’t even care there’s no meat!” and “I’d pay money for this!” as well as “I’d serve this to guests, especially *insert vegetarian friend’s name*!”. The way to a woman’s heart? Multiple compliments on her cooking. I sat there, my shirt covered in Possum’s snot, my hair half pulled out (thanks Possum), my teeth not brushed, I can’t remember if I showered today. But I was smiling.

Thankyou Meat Free Week!

The snot fest that is my daughter continues. And with it comes horrendous cabin fever. I had had enough today and so we ventured out to soak up the wonderful sunshine and for me to soak up some human contact (even if it is just with the lady that makes my coffee). Made the world of difference and Possum slept on my back on the way home. Added bonus was running into two mummy friends, a lovely benefit of living in a village.

I will apologise for the lack of food piccies tonight. Just as I had served dinner and was about to take the photo, my phone battery died. And I wasn’t going to wait for it to charge enough to take a piccie before eating. But picture this… A bowl of golden rice gently spiced with cardamom, coriander, cumin and turmeric. The rice cradling a rich curry with warm autumnal colours of garnet, terracotta and deep aubergine. A burst of freshness on top with a few leaves of fresh coriander. Contrasted with a tangy dollop of fresh yoghurt.

Or I could show you a picture of Possum’s dinner (whoops!).

Space Curry

Space Curry

Space Curry

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Cheap vegetables, canned chickpeas and some store bought curry paste and chutney. Made up a large batch and will absolutely be making this again and making use of the curry paste (I used Tikka Masala) and mango chutney.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Chopping and prep was pretty quick today (hurray!). I chose to cook this a bit longer than it said to in the recipe (I like curries the longer they’ve cooked for generally).

Complexity : LOW. A nice simple curry to make. I realised though that the recipe asks for spices and lemon rind but then doesn’t say what to do with them. So I googled the original recipe and found the answer. It goes in the rice! Here is the original recipe for your reference.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. This is a winner, a keeper, a recipe to share. Legoman was super impressed. He normally makes his views against chickpeas well known whenever I make something with them in it. Tonight, not a peep.

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder and a rice pot.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I guarantee you will either go back for seconds despite bursting at the seams or be sensible but happily satiated.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Especially the eggplant and the chickpeas, which surprised me. She also had a bit of yoghurt with her curry too (an essential addition I think).

Would I make it again? Yes, will have to invite some vegetarians over to show off this winner of a recipe.

***BONUS QUESTION! Did you miss the meat? Not at all.

To make up for the lack of food piccies today, here is possum attempting her escape… to get the magpie in the garden. She worked out she can slide the screen door open (not that hard really, might need to lock it soon…).

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Best. Salmon Patties. Ever.

I am part of a natural parenting Facebook group here in the Blue Mountains. It’s an amazing online community. Most of the time everyone talks about food. Or sleep. But mostly food. Someone said they were making Paleo Salmon Cakes for dinner out of roast sweet potato, salmon and coconut flour. I googled Paleo Salmon Patties and came up with this.

Oh my goodness. I like salmon patties, who doesn’t. But I never knew they could be this good! How good is that moment when you take the first mouthful of something and your expectations are exceeded! I will most definitely be making these again, many times.

There is always something which isn’t fab and with tonight’s dinner it was having to pull the bones and skin off the tinned salmon. There is no doubt that the fish in those cans came from the sea. It stank. It’s pretty easy to forget that you’re eating an actual animal when you have tinned fish, but this really hit home that a few salmon had been squeezed into those tins. A bit sombre but an important thing to remember in this day and age of over consumption.

We had a good friend come and lend a hand tonight and she magically finished off the final stages of construction. Her patties were a darn sight neater than mine ever would be. The recipe called for hot sauce (an american recipe). We have a bottle of Indonesian tomato chilli sauce which has a big kick to it, which was added to the mix. Just the right amount of heat in the final patties. Also got a chance to use the cast iron hot plate. Worked really well with some ghee heated (ghee is great for cooking at high temperatures).


Paleo Salmon Patties with Cous Cous and Vegetables

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Salmon for 4 people for $10. Bargain. Next time I think I would make double the recipe and freeze half.
Time Factor : MODERATE. I opted to roast the sweet potato instead of using the microwave. You could save some time and some stinky fish hands by buying the salmon that is already skinned and boned, it would just cost more.
Complexity : LOW. Mush everything together. Mould. Fry. Would be a fun one to do with bigger kiddies as they could mix and shape the patties.
Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. I would pay money for these (well I guess I did…). You know what I mean! If these were in a local cafe I would tell people to order them. And then buy them every time I went there. Delish! Who would’ve thought something paleo, gluten free and dairy free could be that awesome!
Mess : MODERATE. I initially typed low. But then remembered the fish skin and bones. Glad I’m not pregnant!
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Super full and don’t even need ice cream tonight.
Possum Friendly? YES. I reckon she would gobble these up! They have almond meal in them which people should be aware of if they have a history of allergies. Tonight she inhaled her bolognese sauce. Literally, I found some up her nose at bath time.

Would I make it again? Yes, yes, yes. This is going into the Pink Folder of Wonder for another week. An absolute keeper.


Misty Mountain Goodness

Today was a perfect Blue Mountains Sunday. Terrible for the tourists who’ve come for the view. Perfect for a lunch of hot pies from the bakery and spending the day at home with my little family.

The view from my driveway today.

The view from my driveway today.

Tonight’s dinner suited the weather perfectly. The baked risotto was delicious, with super tasty crunchy bits around the edge and a zing of lemon zest and fresh oregano on the top. The lamb loin chops grilled to yumminess. The asparagus crunchy with a slight tang of balsamic. I don’t think I came up for air until my plate was empty. Then I stood over the baking dish of rice eating more. That’s when I realised one important question was missing from my nightly rating. “Would I make this again?” Tonight, absolutely!

Baked Risotto

Baked Risotto



Oven Baked Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables:

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Chops are a tasty and affordable cut of meat. Buy seasonal veg which will be tasty and cheap. And rice, a little goes a long way. I love rice!
Time Factor : MODERATE. ~30 minutes prep plus 45 minutes oven time. Thankyou Lego Man for continuing cooking while I put Possum to bed. The risotto was baked in a square cake/slice tin. Worked perfectly.
Complexity : LOW – MODERATE. I managed to time everything well tonight, but it would be the kind of meal where the risotto could sit in the oven a little longer, the chops could grill a little longer. You just don’t want over cooked veg.
Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Simple tasty goodness. Lego Man brought chops back into my culinary life after we got engaged. Sure the first time he cooked them for me they may have caught on fire. But you can’t kill a chop with a bit of flame. It actually makes them taste better!
Mess : MODERATE. A few pots but dishes didn’t take too long after dinner.
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I piled Lego Man’s plate a little too much for him, but was not quite enough for my bottomless pit of a stomach.
Possum Friendly? MODERATE. She loves chops, and has already had risotto before. Will see if she likes asparagus tomorrow.

Would I make it again? Absolutely. This recipe is a keeper! I couldn’t find any farro today when I was shopping so I just used arborio rice. Next time I will try farro though (if I can find it!).

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg

Baked Risotto with Chops and Veg