This last few weeks have been pretty busy. With friends visiting us, us visiting Copenhagen, work deadlines, preparing for moving, city trips and Christmas planning I haven’t been cooking much. It was all about salads, soups, sandwiches and eating out lately.
I love to cook and love to eat the meals we prepare at home. So I really look forward to calmer weekends after New Year’s when we will be in our new flat. The flat with an oven so I’ll finally be able to bake. I have a long list of cakes and cookies to try and cannot wait.
Even on busy schedules I try to cook at least when we are at home on weekend. I almost never cook anything labor intensive, but sometimes even the basic meals can feel fancy.
That’s the case of this Italian style risotto. This recipe is much easier than traditional recipes for Italian risotto. It’s not necessary to constantly stir the rice. It has ton of flavor, is creamy and delicious.
I cooked with coconut milk for the first time about five years ago and I think it was some version of a coconut curry. Since then I tried a few curry recipes and at the end I settle on this vegan version. To this day this coconut curry is our most frequent use of the can of coconut milk.
I make my life easier with using store bought red curry paste but I usually cook chickpeas from scratch. I also found a shop where they sell a good quality canned coconut milk. And by good quality I mean a coconut milk which contains only coconut, water and citric acid. Some other brands of coconut milks (which are more widely available in stores) contain different kinds of thickeners, emulsifies and stabilizers.
If you are a busy person, overnight oats are your new best friend. You can prepare big batch of it one evening and next few mornings you don’t need to worry about your breakfast. They are also great to take with you to eat while commuting or to enjoy as a mid-afternoon snack.
I usually prepare it when I know I’ll be in a hurry next morning, or when I know I want to sleep in next day, but still have a good breakfast. Also when we travel early in the morning I want us to have a healthy, filling breakfast so I prepare this overnight oats and store them in jars. In the morning we just take it with us and eat in a train, bus or at the airport.
What’s the weather like in your city? Here in Belgium it’s definitely fall. The temperatures went down significantly, central heating started to work and the days are shorter and shorter. It’s just the right time to cozy up at home with something hot and delicious. Something like this warming carrot and red lentil soup!
Some years ago we started to add chili to lots of recipes – soups, stews, dhals. Gradually I got accustomed to it. And in cooler weather I crave hot chili meals. Chili also helps the body to fight inflammation, clears a stuffy nose, improves body’s circulatory system and boosts immunity.
This carrot and red lentil soup is absolutely perfect for upcoming seasons. It warms you up, fills your belly and comforts you in case of bad weather. Basic ingredients, available year around make it easy to prepare this soup anytime. And thanks to great combination of ingredients this soup is rich in vitamin E, A and C, iron, as well as fiber.
This Asian noodle bowl was an attempt to recreate a dish we tried years ago in Madrid. While walking the streets of the city we spotted a take-away Asian chain restaurant called Wok to Walk. First time, we had no idea whether the food will be good or not, but we really like the idea of customized Asian noodle and rice bowls, prepared from fresh ingredients right in front of our eyes. Since we saw the whole process of preparing these bowls, we had no problem to recreate them at home.
Today I will share with you our version of the Asian noodle bowl with chicken and vegetables. We played with different combinations of ingredients and liked this mix the most. They are available at every store, year around and I love how colorful the final noodle bowls are. We prepare each portion separately. It takes a bit more time, but we can each prepare it according our preferences.
Take our recipe as a suggestions because the variations you can come up with are endless. You can use whatever ingredients you like in stir fries and if you need an inspiration check the menu of Wok to Walk on their website.
For the past few weeks we have been preparing smoothie jars almost every day. We would have them as an afternoon snack at work around 3 pm when sugar cravings usually hit.
These jars are very easy to make and there are countless possibilities and combinations for the layers it in a jar. We have a few combinations we really like and prepare most often, for example chocolate smoothie + yogurt + fresh strawberries or granola + yogurt + strawberry & mint smoothie or this cookie dough smoothie + blueberries (recipe below).
You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Fresh or frozen fruits and berries, yogurt, granola, oats, nuts and seeds or quinoa puffs are what we use most often.
What I like most about these smoothie jars is that they feel like a treat because they are sweet but are much healthier than any cookies or chocolate bars. They satisfy my afternoon sugar cravings and are packed with fiber, good fats and vitamins.
Cookie dough smoothie jars
Servings: 2 jars (about 330 ml each)
Ingredients for smoothie:
200 ml almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon almond or cashew butter
¼ cup oats (optional)
½ – 2/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
oats or granola (optional)
Place the milk, bananas, cinnamon and nut butter to a blender and blend for couple of minutes. If you want your smoothie thicker you can add 1/4 cup of oats.
Put blueberries on the bottom of a jar so they reach to about ¼ or 1/3 of the jar. Next add oats or granola if you are using them. And pour in the smoothie.
I recently shared this picture with my friend. I was actually showing her our new plates but she was more interested in the food served on them and asked for the recipe. I decided to share the recipe also with you.
This chorizo & pepper jambalaya recipe is one of our favorites and we prepare it quite often. On the day I sent my friend the picture I was actually preparing it for the next day’s lunch. Well, that was the intention. Reality was that we couldn’t resist the fantastic smell that lingered in our apartment and ate our next day’s lunch right away as dinner. So in case you plan to have some leftovers double the recipe.
Everyone has favorite recipe websites. One of ours is BBC Good Food. We often look there for an inspiration for weekend lunches and some of the recipes are on rotation in our kitchen ever since we found them. This jambalaya is definitely one of them. It’s easy to prepare, it tastes awesome and with more than 600 positive reviews on the BBC Good Food website we were sure we won’t be disappointed.
I almost always change the recipes based on our preferences or the ingredients we have on hand. This recipe is no exception. I use wholegrain rice instead of white rice, I don’t add chicken because the chorizo has much better and stronger taste and I never have chicken stock just waiting to be used so I use organic powdered bullion instead. The original jambalaya recipe is from the BBC Good Food website and this is our version:
1 cup wholegrain rice
80 – 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 – 3 tomatoes, diced
½ yellow pepper, thinly sliced
½ red pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon powdered bullion or ¼ teaspoon salt
1 – 2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
Place the rice, 2 cups of boiling water and bullion or salt into a pot. Bring to boil then lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. The time depends on the rice you use. It can take anywhere between 40 to 70 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan. Once heated add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes. Next add the chorizo and sauté for additional 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add pepper and garlic (optional) to the pan and sauté for few more minutes. Set aside.
Check the rice. If it is almost cooked, add the diced tomatoes and Cajun seasoning. Mix well and let cook for additional 10 minutes.
If the rice is ready add the onion, chorizo and pepper mixture to the rice and mix well. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before serving.