In our house, we tend to eat oats for breakfast very often. Sometimes, this can prove difficult, because we’re running late or its summertime and I can’t bear the thought of turning the gas on to make us porridge. Not to mention, eating hot porridge on a hot day, only makes things hotter. So once I tried refrigerated overnight oats, I was really happy. If you’ve never tried overnight oats, you really should. Oats are healthy and when combined with some chia seeds, fresh fruit and nuts, it is a really healthy breakfast. The best part is, this is a make ahead recipe and requires no cooking. Which can be a blessing during hot summers. This is a versatile recipe and you can add your favorite fruit and nuts to top it off. So I hope you try this out as a breakfast option and let me know what you think.
Vanilla Overnight Oats
(Makes 1 portion)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 – 1/2 vanilla extract
Maple syrup, to taste
2/3 cup almond milk (you can use soy milk or any other milk of your choice)
Fresh fruit and nuts of your choice (I used some strawberries, grapes and slivered almonds)
In a mason jar, add all the ingredients except the fresh fruit and nuts that you’re using to top off the oatmeal with.
Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight. (You can make a larger batch and use it through the week)
In the morning, add the fresh fruit and nuts of your choice. Serve up.
It is especially at times like this that I love big salads. While I’m quite happy to put together a tossed garden salad a few times a week, I think I need to add a few new salads to my repertoire. We’re trying to cut down our meat intake and substitute it with as much vegetarian food as possible. So salads like this Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato & Almond Quinoa Salad are perfect. Its all vegetarian yet hearty, involves minimal cooking and so very tasty. And its not just my opinion, my husband had a second helping of this salad for dinner.
I have tried cooking with quinoa before, but it was a total fail. So I was very skeptical about trying it out again. But I decided that trying something once and never trying it again, wasn’t giving it a fair chance. So on my last trip to Costco, I just picked up a bag of quinoa. Now that I have this great big bag of quinoa, I was going to have to use it. So recently when I was looking for a salad recipe with Italian influences to pair up with my eggplant patties, I decided to look for one with quinoa in it. And when I stumbled upon this recipe, it sounded perfect. There was just one problem. I didn’t have any parsley at home. So I just used the next best thing, coriander leaves. Personally I love the flavor that coriander leaves add to any dish and I thought it worked very well with this salad. But I also know there are folks out there that cant stand it. If you are one of them, feel free to use parsley instead. I can’t wait to try it out with parsley the next time. I’m very happy to have another wonderful salad to include in my meal rotation now.
Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Averie Cooks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked lack pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (I used the ones bottled in oil and drained them before slicing)
2 tbsp coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
1/2 cup roughly sliced almonds
1 tsp red chilly flakes (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
Add the onions and cook till the onions have softened and have just started browning.
Add the quinoa and stir. Let it toast for about 30 seconds.
Now add the water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the rest of the ingredients.
Place the quinoa in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.
Taste and add more salt or pepper or lime if needed. If, at this stage, you find the salad too sour, add a tiny bit of sugar to balance it out. I just stuck with the quantities listed above and I didn’t need to add anything at this stage.
It stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This can be served either as a warm or cold salad.
Serve up this salad either as an accompaniment at a meal or a slightly larger portion as a meal in itself.
I tried out this amazing Avocado Pasta Salad over the weekend and it was a big hit. There is a little stove time involved to boil the pasta and to fry the bacon, but the end result is so good, I’d say it was well worth it. I can’t wait for the next potluck or picnic, because I know that this salad will make an appearance.
The dressing is an avocado based one and is super easy to make. If you have an immersion blender, you life will be even easier. If not, just use your regular blender and you’ll be sorted. Basically all the ingredients for the dressing get blitzed together and ta-da …. you have yourself a salad dressing. I love recipes that are as easy as this. The ingredient list for the salad is just an approximation of what I used. Feel free to adjust as needed.
Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves 4 (as Main Course)
Adapted from: Spend with Pennies
2 cups uncooked Macaroni
1/4 onion, finely chopped (use a sweeter onion if you can’t stand the heat from a raw onion. You can also use a couple of spring onions, finely sliced)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup boiled / roast chicken, shredded
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 avocado, diced
4 rashers of bacon, fried till crisp and chopped / crumbled
1/4-1/3 capsicum (I used green because thats all I had. You can use red or yellow too, or even a combination of them.)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the dressing –
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (use the leaves and the stalks)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Boil the pasta till al dente, following the package instructions. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process and to cool the pasta down. Drain and set aside.
Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling, salted water till it is a vibrant green, about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how crunchy you like your broccoli. Immediately drain and immerse the broccoli in ice cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process. Drain and keep aside.
In the same pot of boiling water, boil your sweet corn kernels till done. Drain and set aside.
Get your salad ingredients ready.
For the dressing, simply blitz all the ingredients together.
Toss the salad in the dressing and refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.
Pin now and try later!!!
One of the best things about the onset of spring and the weather warming up, is the abundance of fresh fruit and veg in my part of the world. This year we’ve already seen an abundance of beautiful strawberries in the market. And the blueberries are close behind. I’ve only just come to realize that I haven’t baked much with fresh fruit in a very long time. So during the last grocery run, I picked up a few punnets of strawberries. Though I think the best way to enjoy them is eating them straightaway, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to try baking with them.
I was glad to have tried out smoothie bowls recently. They were my saving grace. Healthy, full of flavor and their amazing ‘cool you down from the inside out’ quality made them a regular occurrence in my kitchen. The first one I tried was this Mango Smoothie Bowl and this blueberry version was really delicious too. I had some blueberries that I should have finished sooner, but I didn’t want to waste them so they went right in the bowl for some color. If you love blueberries, this treat is a must try if you are looking for a healthy summer cooler.
A few ingredients and a minute in the blender and a bowl is all you need to whip up this bowl of deliciousness, so I do hope you try it out.
Blueberry Smoothie Bowl
1 ripe banana, frozen
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup milk
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
For the topping –
Sweetened coconut chips
Place the banana, blueberries, milk and yogurt in a blender and blitz on slow at first.
Scrape down the sides and blitz till you are left with a soft serve sort of consistency.
Pour this mix into a bowl.
Top with some sweetened coconut chips, fresh blueberries and almonds.
Leave to set in the refrigerator till firm. I left mine about 8 hours. You may be able to cut into this sooner, but make sure that the Jelly has set firm before you cut it up. This dish can be made ahead of time. So plan for about 8 hours to set at this stage.
Since this is my first smoothie bowl, I kept it simple. It is so easy to make and so refreshingly delicious, I know I’m going to be making more than a few more of these All you need is the fruit of your choice, milk and a little yogurt. Onto the toppings. You could use your choice of cereal, granola, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips pretty much whatever you feel like.
So go ahead and give these bowls a try. They will be a hard summer option to beat. You know you’ll be seeing a few more of these. Oh, have I mentioned these just take a couple of minutes to make. Its a winner all the way.
Also, I have news. I have finally been bitten by the Instagram bug. I hope you can join me there. My Instagram username is @TheAspiringHomeCook. You can find the recipes from this blog making an appearance there at #theaspiringhomecook. Have you tried a recipe from this site. Post a picture on Instagram with #theaspiringhomecook and tag me in the picture to be featured in my feed.
Mango Smoothie Bowl
1 cup frozen mango cubes
1 banana, frozen
1 cup milk
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
For the toppings –
A few fresh blueberries
Peanut butter granola
Place the mango, banana, milk and yogurt in a blender and blitz on slow at first.
Scrape down the sides and blitz till you are left with a soft serve consistency.
Pour the smoothie into a bowl.
Top off with fresh blueberries and some granola.
For this reveal, I was assigned Michaela’s blog – An Affair from the Heart. Michaela is a girl after my own heart. She doesn’t just cook up some amazing food, she used to have an online scrapbooking business. She enjoys family time and loves having extended family around. Her latest creative outlet is in the form of entertaining. You will find loads of ideas on her blog. I was tossing between these Pizza monster sandwiches, Double Chocolate Banana Muffins, S’mores Yogurt and a Pineapple Kiwi Smoothie. I went with the smoothie. It will be perfect as a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast or an after school snack. When its hot outside, nothings better than a nice tropical smoothie. Or if you are like me and live in the Southern Hemisphere and are waiting eagerly for Spring to get here, this smoothie is bound to take you straight to summer atleast for a few minutes.
This smoothie is easy to make and is full of fruity goodness and only used natural honey as a sweetener. That’s a win in my book. It was a glassful of deliciousness and I was truly amazed at how thick it turned out. I must admit, in my house it is usually my husband who whips up smoothies for us. Irrespective of what he puts in them, he always manages to make a perfect smoothie and I usually dont have results as good as he does, so I just leave it to him. But after making this smoothie all by my lonesome, I am eager to try out new combinations now. Thank you Michaela for my new found smoothie mojo. I couldn’t wait to use my new milkshake glasses and though I know this is a smoothie and not technically a milkshake, I still wanted to use them.
Pineapple Kiwi Smoothie
2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 – 1 cup of pineapple juice (depending on how thick you want the smoothie)
2 tbsp raw honey
Blitz everything in a blender.
Use the pineapple juice to get everything started. Start with about half a cup and add more depending on how thick you want the smoothie.
If you are using fresh pineapple pineapple, add some ice to the blender.
Serve up in some pretty glasses.