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Goodbye Winter and HELLO Spring! Who does not love it when we get to farewell Winter for another year! Spring in North Queensland would have to be one of my favourite times of year. The mornings are still cool, the days are warm, the humidity is low and basically that is perfect weather!


Spring is also the time to ease yourself out of winter comfort food and start dreaming and thinking about quick and light summer meals. I am a big salad fan whether it is as a side dish or a complete meal. They are quick, easy to make and with such an abundance of fresh produce available in Australia the possibilities with salads are endless.


When my husband and I first met he told me he had the best Thai Red Prawn Curry recipe ever and he was not far wrong, years of experimenting with the curry sauce it was pretty much spot on. Over the years we have used that recipe as the base for some amazing curries including fish, chicken, pork and duck with zero complaints from those who eat it.


The other night with the kids requesting chicken and noodles I hunted around the pantry and fridge to find something for the adults to eat that did not result in me being in the kitchen for a significant amount of time.


With some fresh salad ingredients in the fridge and some coconut milk and curry paste I decided to adapt my husbands Thai Red Curry to a salad. When you search the internet for salad recipes as a main meal you will often find that many of them are "fiddly". I do not like "fiddly" 530 in the afternoon when juggling sport, arguing kids, homework and dog walking. I like simple and straightforward.


The reason I say they are "fiddly" is that they often call for you to marinate your protein which involves you making the marinade. Then there is the chopping for the salad and finally aside from cooking the protein there is the need to make an additional dressing for the salad. It does not seem like a big deal but when you factor in busy house life, a day at work who seriously wants to do all that? Not me that is for sure!


This recipe calls for the chicken to be marinated in a quick marinade with 6 ingredients that are found in your pantry and fridge and that marinade then doubles as a the dressing. Some further "hacks" and this meal, aside from 30min marinade time, is done in 25 minutes from start to finish and best of all you do not need to stand over a stove.


The curry sauce has depth of flavour of spice, sweet and sour and marry that with the crunch of the fresh salad and the fresh coriander you really do feel like you have just created an amazing at home Thai meal.


This is the perfect spring/summer lunch or dinner meal and because it tastes so good the perfect way to spend more time entertaining friends and family than being in the kitchen.


Prep 10 min // Cook 25 min


INGREDIENTS

2 chicken fillets cut in half length ways to make 4 fillets

4 tbs Thai Red Curry Paste

2 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp raw sugar

1 tbs minced ginger

2 tbs minced garlic

1 cup coconut milk

1 head of lettuce (I used an oakleaf lettuce but any will do )

1 pack ready made coleslaw

1 cup of fresh coriander

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 continental cucumber sliced

1 red onion sliced


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

  2. In a container mix coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, minced ginger, minced garlic and 2 tbs red curry paste until combined.

  3. Place chicken fillets in container and marinate for 30 min.

  4. Take chicken out of the marinade and place in a shallow roasting pan and smear 1 tbs of curry paste over the top.

  5. Gently pour the marinade around the chicken fillets and place in oven and cook 10min. After 10 minutes turn the chicken and smear the remaining tablespoon over each fillet and cook for a further 10 min.

  6. While the chicken is cooking assemble the salad ingredients on a platter.

  7. After the chicken is cooked turn the oven to a high grill and grill for 2-4 minutes to char the top.

  8. Remove the chicken and slice thickly and place over the top of the salad.

  9. Drizzle a little of the curry sauce over the salad and place remainder in a jug.

  10. Serve immediately with the remaining curry sauce.

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With Father's Day coming up this weekend what better way to celebrate Dad than with a quick and easy dessert that the whole family will love. In our house apple pie is a big favourite and my husband loves a creamy thick custard so to ensure he got the best of both worlds on his special day I teamed the two together and made this thick, moorish pie.


Last year I got into the pie maker craze and on one of my trips to Melbourne jumped at the chance to pick up one of the Aldi family pie makers. It is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets because making pies just got that bit easier.


So this week I got my trusty machine out and within 20 min I had made not only my fillings but the pie and there was great excitement at dinner when I said the family had to be my taste testers for this recipe.


The kids being 6 are not the best critics but you know the dessert is good when the bowl is empty and they ask for more.


There is no WOW factor in this dessert. It does not look amazing, it does not have fancy ingredients or a fancy name what makes this dessert is that it is just good old fashioned flavours and ingredients that work together well and everyone loves.


Each mouthful you get a crisp pastry, sweetened stewed apples and thick vanilla custard really what more do you need in life! Top it with some cream and my family was in pie heaven?



A little slice of heaven for Dad


Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there I hope you get spoilt rotten and eat and drink your weight in calories.


A special shout out to my Dad who is enduring like many Melbournians stage 4 lockdown thanks for being the best Dad and Poppy in the world, keep safe and healthy and we cant wait to see you soon!


Prep 10 min // Cook 20 min


INGREDIENTS


Pie filling

1 sheet of shortcrust pastry

6 Apples peeled, cored and diced

3 tbs ground cinnamon


Custard

2 eggs

3 tbs cornflour

4 tbs white sugar

3 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla


Method

  1. Place apples in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water and 2 tbs cinnamon and stew on a medium heat stirring occasionally until the apples are just soft.

  2. Heat your pie maker and then cut the shortcrust pasty to fit the pie maker and set aside.

  3. Add custard to the apple mixture and mix well.

  4. Place the pastry into the pie dish and top with the apple mixture.

  5. Cook in pie maker until the pastry is crisp and the custard has firmed.

  6. Remove from the pie maker sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and serve hot with fresh cream.


Custard

Place milk, eggs and cornflour in a saucepan and whisk over a low heat until the mixture becomes smooth, thick and cream.

When the mixture is thick remove from the stove and whisk through the sugar and vanilla until combined.


Note

If you do not have a pie maker, preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a pie dish with pastry and add apple mixture and cook until the pastry is crisp and custard just set.

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Who does not love a fantastic beef strogannoff? I grew up eating this wonderful retro dish often cooked in the slow cooker and served with pasta.


As a family we would more chicken than red meat so I decided to swap out the beef for chicken with a thick, creamy and full of flavour strogannoff sauce and served it to my family with mash potato and vegetables.


The sauce is absolutely the star of this dish its full of flavour and while it might seem time consuming cooking the chicken then the mushroom in batches it gives you the beginnings of a sauce that has depth and layers of flavour. I love this sauce so much that I could make the sauce and have it with vegetables on its own!


I do suggest using breast fillets in this recipe but if you prefer using chicken thighs then feel free to use that instead.


There is a second reason I like this recipe so much - lunchboxes! Like most parents making lunchboxes is often a tedious chore that no one looks forward to doing. Lunches come back uneaten, kids say they are bored with their lunch or as can be the case in my house you forget to do the lunch the night before and there is a mad rush to get them done in the morning.

Leftovers from a meal you know your kids love is your savior! The following are some ideas to use the leftovers for kids (or adults) the following day:

- Quesadilla

- In a wrap cold with some cheese and spinach

- Make some quick mini quiches with wraps and top with cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes

- sausage rolls

- mini pies

- microwave some quinoa or rice and send it hot in a thermos


I hope you enjoy the dinner and lunch ideas!


Prep 10 min // Cook 30 min


INGREDIENTS

2 Chicken breasts cut in half to make 4 chicken breasts (use more if you have more than 4 in your family)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to season

3 tbs flour

2 tbs olive oil


Sauce

2 tbs butter

1 onion diced

6 cloves garlic minced

2 cups mushrooms sliced

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup liquid chicken stock

1/2 cup cooking cream (or you can use the traditional sour cream)

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce


METHOD

  1. Season chicken fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.

  2. Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and oregano in a small and season both sides of the chicken breast.and then dredge in the flour

  3. Heat some oil or butter in a pan and when hot sear the chicken on both sides for 2-3 min and remove from pan.

  4. Melt 2 tbs butter in pan and saute the onions and garlic for 2 minutes.

  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden. Add in the mustard and paprika and mix well.

  6. Add in the wine and let reduce for a 1-2 minutes.

  7. Add in remaining sauce ingredients and let is simmer gently on the stove until the sauce thickens.

  8. Return the chicken to the pan including the juices and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

  9. Serve immediately with pasta (or mash and veggies or rice)


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