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 and Gluten Free Corn Fritters

Egg Free and Gluten Free Corn Fritters

I love me a good brunch. Sadly Legoman thinks it’s a waste of time. And with a toddler and conflicting work schedules it’s a rare treat. I always, always, always order corn fritters when they are on a menu. Especially if they come with avocado and bacon…. mmmmmm… bacon. I was flicking through my recipe folder and got pretty excited to find a corn fritter recipe with no egg!!

I modified it slightly to try and make it more kiddie friendly (less spices), sadly Possum still wasn’t keen on them tonight but was happy to gobble up close to a whole avocado and a bucket of yoghurt. Legoman on the other hand said it was a keeper.

I chose to make mine little hand size to make for easy dipping, but you can also make them more grown up sized. I reckon they would be even tastier with a little salsa of some kind on the side. Something a little sweet and a little zingy!

Egg Free and Gluten Free Corn Fritters with Mint Yoghurt and Avocado – serves 4

120g chickpea (besan) flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

pinch of salt

200g frozen or fresh corn kernels (don’t need to defrost)

3 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

A big handful or coriander, roughly chopped

160ml full fat milk or water (I reckon coconut milk would rock too)

Sunflower oil for frying 

1-2 Tbsp chopped mint

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup yoghurt (plain full fat)

1 ripe avocado (or more if you love your avo!)

First make up the yoghurt by combining yoghurt, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix in corn, spring onions and coriander. Stir in milk.

Heat 1cm of oil in frying pan to medium high heat. Use a heaped teaspoon amount per fritter, making sure not to over crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side (I left the first batch a little too long and they looked a bit like those old ladies at the beach who could be made into handbags). Remove and drain on paper towel. Keep fritters warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

Serve these Egg Free and Gluten Free Corn Fritters with yoghurt and slices of avocado. Yum!

Corn Fritters

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I want that one…

I have never had to limit my diet (apart from a week without meat recently). I eat whatever I want. Whenever possible. I need to eat regularly to maintain my weight at the moment (thanks breastfeeding!) and to keep my marriage (hello hangry).

Yet, this week we started an elimination diet to help nut out a few thing going on for our dear little Possum. We were pointed in the direction of the RPA Elimination Diet. One post on my trusty Natural Parents Facebook page and I had a copy of the handbook and the cookbook on loan! Thankyou Blue Mountains mummas! Thank goodness I’m now well into the swing of meal planning, so at least planning out our low food chemical dinners were depressing, but organised.

So what are we cutting out? I didn’t think Possum had any serious allergies so opted for the Low Food Chemical elimination diet which meant we were keeping in dairy, gluten, eggs and nuts. However, after one day on this elimination diet and having an egg and rice pie for dinner, poor little Possum broke out in a rash all over her trunk which lasted over 12 hours. So no more eggs for us now. And because of that, at the end of the week, we are going to go the whole hog. Strict Elimination Diet. Words I hoped to never say.

We are keeping a thorough food and symptom diary, which for me basically says “feeling cranky and hungry”. I’m so mopey. I feel a bit like Andy in Little Britain…

Last night we had crumbed fish and roast veg for dinner. If I stuck to the low chemical foods only we would’ve had potato, swede and iceberg lettuce. Wow. So delicious and enticing. But we bent the rules and included green beans, butternut pumpkin and sweet potato. Making the fish involved first dipping the fish in fake flour (gluten free), then fake egg (egg replacer aka potato starch) then fake breadcrumbs (rice crumbs). Tasted pretty good considering.

Tonight was Lamb and Celery Satay which used a sauce made from cashew paste (surprisingly cashews are a low food chemical food and allowed as long as you can eat nuts), citric acid, sugar, salt and garlic. Not bad really.

Tomorrow night is marinated lamb kebabs. And then fish on Friday again.

Sigh.

Only another 28 days to go…

It’s the lunches and snacks that are a killer. Thought I was doing well when I found cottage cheese was on the list, but read the ingredients and it has preservatives in it!!

Anyone else been down this road?

Glad we are doing it though as we have already found one culprit for causing Possum some issues. Fingers crossed it’s just the one!

Bending the spine

I have a lot of cookbooks. Not enough. But a lot. I have cooked something out of 80% of them. But that still leaves a fair few that have been looked at, drooled over and then placed back on the shelf. Part of this whole meal planning thing was to help me get those books off the shelf, and put a crease or two in their spines. This week’s selection was “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant“. It’s a vegetarian cookbook (from the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant) which has a number of whole meal suggestions organised in cuisines. For example there is a Mexican menu, a Caribbean menu etc. It’s a no photo book, so you need to go by title and ingredients lists to get your belly rumbling. The benefit is, that it doesn’t age the same way food photos do. So you can’t tell how long the book has been sitting on my shelf for, phew!

My pick for our dinner was a Mexican Kettle Stew. A simple one dish wonder full of veggies and I added an extra 400g tin of 4 bean mix to plump it up a bit. Oh, and some capsicum.

Possum liked it and even ate some of the legumes. Legoman loved it and would eat it again. I loved how easy and tasty it was. Our vegetarian dinner guests gobbled it up too. As my Dad says… “it looks like everyone’s kicked a goal!”.

Kettle Stew with Rice

Affordability : Excellent. Loads of cheap veg and tinned staples.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is super quick and easy but the potatoes do take a bit of time to cook thoroughly.

Complexity : LOW. I love a one dish meal like this. And very few steps.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Anything with sour cream AND cheese must be delicious.

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot for the stew and one for the rice.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Everyone was very full afterwards, though I did go back for seconds.

Possum Friendly? YES. Especially good once bub has developed a pincer grasp as all the beans, chickpeas and corn provide plenty of practice!

Would I make it again? Yes, and will do before the cold months are over.

Here, taste this! It’s vegan…

That sentence makes me want to turn and run rather than open my mouth and chew. But after I got a text from Legoman at work this week that said “Friends for dinner. Can you please make a vegan, gluten free dessert?”, I didn’t really have an option. I have one vegan dessert in my brain as an emergency. A friend made it a while ago and it was surprisingly delicious. It was Vegan Chocolate Mousse! She refused to tell us what was in it until we started eating it. A great way to instil confidence in your dinner guests… “What’s this?” “I’m not telling until you eat it” “I’m scared”. But the brave (hungry) souls we are, chowed down and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her version used avocado. The one I found (thankyou google!) was a 4 ingredient, one dish wonder that can be mixed together in 5 minutes or less! And it is (kind of) good for you!!

What was that? You’d love the recipe? Sure! Here it is 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Mousse (taken from I Quit Sugar)

  • 400 ml can coconut cream.
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder.
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup.
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds.

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Serve into 4-6 glasses then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

I only had time to refrigerate for around 90 minutes between getting home from work and eating dessert with our guests. But it was still delicious and really rich. The chia seeds just hadn’t had time to get their jelly thing happening. So was a mousse with texture. Our fireman meat eating friend finished his entire serve, so clearly wasn’t an issue. This was a recipe that I just happened to have all the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge at the same time. Hurrah! Food that was meant to be 🙂

I forgot to take a picture before serving… But here is one after!

Vegan? Delicious!

Vegan? Delicious!

Moussaka without Eggplant?

Apparently you can still call it Moussaka. It’s a good word to say. Moussaka. Moussaka. Moussaka.

This week’s meal plan has gone out the window a bit. Legoman came down with some tummy bug which left him with no appetite for multiple days, plus we had a friend make us some lasagne… so I haven’t been cooking a huge amount this week, but the freezer has a little breathing spacenow.

Tonight I did get to try out one of my intended meals though. Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka. I think it was the lamb and feta that made it a moussaka, otherwise it didn’t really resemble the dish at all (in my opinion). Well whatever it was, it was easy and yummy. And Possum thoroughly enjoyed it. It is becoming more and more apparent that my daughter won’t eat just plain vegetables. They need to be in something. Unless it’s roast sweet potato, then she will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this was a good meal to get her veggie count up for the week.

I love the internet! No need for me to write out recipes, even this one which I found in a book from the library! So here is the recipe!

The book I found the recipe in is called “One Pot Wonders“. A year ago I would’ve walked straight past this book, and straight past the other three books I borrowed along similar lines (“What’s for dinner?“, “Three Good Things” and “Everybody Everyday“). My how times have changed. It’s not so tempting anymore to borrow the amazing niche recipe books that seem to pop up every week. Even my taste in food magazines has taken a massive shift. As I was unpacking my cookbooks and food magazines this week (they had been in storage), I wondered when I would need to cook anything from my lovely collection of Gourmet Traveller magazines… one day.

My Friends!

My Friends!

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Affordability : MODERATE. Used lamb leg steaks (zhoojed in the food processor) instead of lamb mince. Better flavour and texture but about twice the price. Veggies are cheap filler though. I’d stretch it further and serve with rice and maybe some steamed greens on the side.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is quick and easy but takes about 15 minutes on the stove top and then an hour in the oven. And the carrots were still pretty firm after all that!

Complexity : LOW. Straight forward one dish meal. I always find it a bit more difficult the first time I use a new recipe though.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Was yummy and belly filling. Possum loved it, hurray!

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder! The book didn’t lie!

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. I would’ve liked some carbs of some kind with it.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Preference for the lamb, then the zucchini, then the carrot. Was a bit crazy messy though as the yoghurt sauce top disintegrated all over her high chair.

Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add some eggplant 😉

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

And a little extra… After realising I buy a whole heap of stuff that I really don’t need, I am trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on crap in my life. So today, I happily unsubscribed to a whole heap of emails that keep telling me to buy things, that unless I opened the email, I wouldn’t even know about! And then this image popped up in my Facebook feed, very timely indeed. I am going to print it out to stick on the fridge as a reminder that there are many other ways of meeting needs. I hope it sparks a thought in your mind as well.

And the meat is back!

Oy, I just watched the second Hunger Games movie and need to unwind… Those films really get to me. Hopefully blogging will help.

Meat Free Week was a great success in our household! New recipes were tried and thoroughly enjoyed, and the meat wasn’t missed (that much). But I am glad to have some meat back on the menu this week. It’s good to know the huge variety of meat free recipes out there that are easy, quick and delicious. So if you’re on a budget or your conscience is getting the better of you, maybe try a meet free week for yourself and see how you go.

To finish off the week, we had roast vegetable frittata with oven baked risotto. First time I’ve made frittata and I had a bit of a frittata fail. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t prepare my pan enough and it ended up sticking. And then I scraped the crap out of the pan trying to get it out. Here’s the photographic proof.

Frittata Fail

Frittata Fail

The risotto is a recipe I tried a few weeks ago and is now firmly placed in my Pink Folder of Wonder (where all my fav print out recipes go). This time I thought I would try a combination of arborio rice and millet. What is millet? Apart from being one of the main ingredients in bird food (sounds so tempting right?), it is a low allergenic grain which is a good source of many nutrients including magnesium, copper, phosphorous and iron. I’ve used it before to make some tasty millet, ricotta and mint patties. First time in a risotto. Super happy with the result. It offered a great mix of textures with the rice. I used 1 cup rice to around 3/4 cup of millet (I over poured and couldn’t get it back in the container…). I would recommend you add some variety to your grain cupboard with some millet and give it a go.

Tonight’s meal was a leftover of the risotto, some steamed veg and a quick bit of chicken. Here’s how I did the chicken…

Herby Lemon Chicken, Serves 2

Take one chicken breast. Cut a criss cross pattern on the underside.  Season with salt and pepper, a good helping of fresh lemon zest and some fresh thyme (or whatever herb takes your fancy). Lay it between two pieces of baking paper then pummel with either the bottom of a heavy pan or a heavy rolling pin (I have a solid marble rolling pin which is perfect for tasks like this. It’s also my home security system). Heat some olive oil in a pan (I used the hot plate on our stove top, but a BBQ would be perfect). Cook for a few minutes either side then let rest before slicing and dividing into two serves.

Herby Lemon Chicken

Herby Lemon Chicken

Herby Lemon Chicken with Vegetables and Risotto

Affordability : MODERATE. Splitting one chicken breast between two offered plenty of meat while cutting down cost. The risotto makes a large amount and can be frozen for another day. A good variety of veg on the side and you have yourself quite an affordable but delicious meal.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Thankfully the risotto was leftovers tonight and only took 2 minutes in the microwave, but originally take about an hour from go to gob. I cook my corn in the microwave, little trick I learnt at work. Using a leftover bag you use from your fruit and veg shopping (the clear super light ones), pop your corn and a spoon of water in the bag. Tie a knot in the top then microwave for 1.5 minutes. Ta Dah! Easy work snack and super easy dinner side.

Complexity : MODERATE. I choose to make my own tomato sauce for the risotto (recipe is at the foot of the main recipe). But you could make this more simple by using a store bought sauce (though I doubt it would be a delish).

Deliciousness : MODERATE. To be honest, the chicken let the team down a bit tonight. Breast meat has a tendency to get dry. Next time I would stick to using thigh meat like I normally do. But the risotto is delicious and I love fresh corn on the cob.

Mess : MODERATE. An oven pan, two saucepans, a grill pan and some microwave container for the veg.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Great mix of veg, carbs and protein means I am nicely full and stayed full.

Possum Friendly? YES. I didn’t make enough chicken to give to her tomorrow, but would be an excellent way to offer some simple meat. Possum loves this risotto recipe. She isn’t too happy with plain steamed veg. Tonight I gave her some ocean trout (which she gobbled up at lightning speed) and some fried capsicum, with grapes and yoghurt for after.

Would I make it again? Yes. I think I’d try some other things before doing the chicken breast again, but it was a great quick way to flavour and cook the meat. It made me want to make schnitzel though.

Herby Lemon Chicken and Vegetables with RIsotto

Herby Lemon Chicken and Vegetables with RIsotto

In other news, Possum is on the mend. And crawling!! Very proud mummy 🙂

Will post my meal plan for the week tomorrow.