Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fruits in Salad: Chicken, Orange and Fennel Salad

Cook Meter: Amateur
Cost Meter: $$

As it's summer I have noticed a trend in everyone adding a bit of fruit to their salads. Typically I do not like mixing savoury and sweet.  But in an effort to add a bit of variety to my salad life I decided to step out of my food comfort zone and start incorporating more fruit.

The first time I ever tried this salad it was made by my dear friend Zen. She has a penchant for vegetarian dishes and "hippy foods" whereas I love an overabundance of meat.  So when she made this salad for me I thought she was crazy.  That was until I put it into my mouth.  The sweetness of the orange and the aniseed of the fennel go remarkably well together. Add some feta and fresh mint and you have a winner.

Chicken, Orange and Fennel Salad


400g Chicken Breast thinly sliced
2 cloves of Garlic
1 sprig of Rosemary
Sea Salt
1 tbsp Oil

2 Oranges, 1.5 cut into segments and the last half saved for the juice
1 bulb Fennel
100g Feta
Handful of mint leaves
2 spring onion sliced
Green salad leaves, I used the Coles 4 leaf mix, but any sort of salad greens will do.


  1. Marinate the Chicken in oil, garlic, rosemary and salt for at least 30 mins.
  2. Cut the Oranges into segments, slice the fennel thinly and toss with the spring onion, crumbled feta and salad greens
  3. Pan fry the chicken on a high heat until it has just cooked.
  4. Dress the salad with the juice from the left over orange and place the chicken on top.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spicy Chicken Salad

Welcome to 2014 everyone! No doubt you all enjoyed your summer, a little food, a little wine, lots of quality time with friends and family.  Or maybe you were like me and you overindulged?

Now that I am back to reality in Mackay it is time to start thinking about getting back on track health wise. Two weeks into my "healthy eating regime" (I refuse to call it a diet as just the word diet makes my skin crawl) and I must be honest I am over the salad fest that has become my life.

Cook Meter: Amateur
Cost Meter: $$

So I decided to spice it up with this healthy salad made on the BBQ.  The chicken and corn are cooked on the BBQ, so have a nice chargrilled taste, you could do it on the grill as well.

The beans helped you feel full for longer, and the the flavours are spicy and fresh.

Spicy Chicken Salad

2 x large chicken breast


1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Smoky Paprika
Juice and rind of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
Pinch of salt


400g can of cannellini beans
2 Corn Cobs (chargrilled) and kernels cut off
1 long red chilli finely diced
1/2 bunch of Coriander
1/2 cup Cucumber
1 Ripe tomato Diced
1/2 red onion finely sliced
Juice of the other half of the lemon


1. Slice Chicken in pieces, mix marinade ingredients together and coat chicken. Marinate for at least 1 hour, but the long the better.

2. Place corn on the BBQ and cook for 20mins, you want some pieces to be blackened to give it that charcoal taste

3. Mix the salad ingredients together, and then cook the chicken on the BBQ, cooking time will depend on how thick you cut your chicken.

4. Toss the chicken and salad together and serve.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Dispensary - Mackay

It's coming to the end of the year and it's time to celebrate, with birthdays, Christmas parties or just a social catchup with friends.

Perfect timing for Burp to be opening its adjoining bar, the Dispensary in Mackay.

The Dispensary, is a welcome change from the doof doof nightclubs and league clubs in town.  Its sophisticated atmosphere and industrial feel suits those in the twenty-five and up age bracket or anyone looking for an after work tipple from its cavernous bar. And with the food coming straight from the delectable Burp kitchen, you know it will go far beyond the average bar snack.

Although I usually as a rule stay away from bars or restaurants in their opening week to give them some time to iron out the wrinkles, after peeking through the windows I could not wait to go and visit.  My husband and I walked through the wrought iron front gates on a thursday night to immediately experience the space of the front bar.  We walked the length of the downstairs area to find booth seats on one side and two other seatings areas towards the back. Exposed brick, varying reclaimed wood and leather finishes, that conjured images of whiskey, cigars and Don Draper standing in the corner.

We sat down and ordered a bottle of red and peeked into the bar snacks menu. Starting off with a cheese plate, we sat down and enjoyed the atmostphere.  It's the kind of place that you can hear each other talk and conversation seems encouraged. After cleaning up our cheeses, we ordered pork sliders and southern country chicken.  Both fresh and flavoursome, and a perfect accompaniment to our wine.

We spoke to the manager who was brimming with pride and eager to talk about how the Dispensary fits into the local market and the kind of atmosphere they are trying to create. We unfortunately didn't get a chance to experience the outdoor terrace bar upstairs or the live music or DJ they hope to have every weekend. However it's all the more reason to visit again.

So the next time you find yourself pondering what to do on a balmy Mackay evening I highly recommend going to the Dispensary, especially if you are already a fan of Burp, it won't let you down.

Dispensary Bar and Residence Lounge
82-86 Wood Street
07 4951 3456

Monday, July 1, 2013

Smokey Chilli Braised Beef with Cheesy Cornmeal Dumplings

Cook Meter:  Professional (time wise only)
Cost Meter:  $$

I am a fan of comfort food, winter warmers and all things slow cooked.  However living in a tropical climate means we get about a month's window when it is actually appropriate to make these things.  That month has officially begun and now that I am back at work I have been making the most of my days off and slowly braising meats and infusing them with rich tomato flavours.

This week I tried a Donna Hay recipe that I found on pinterest.  The smokey flavours of the casserole are enhanced by the cheesy coriander in the cornmeal dumplings.  I have never had a dumpling in a casserole before so this was a great first recipe and definitely one that will go into the books. "Meal of the month" Nick called it and a great way to get back into the swing of things.

The only thing that I find is that it is hard to make a casserole look beautiful, for this is doesn't matter and is definitely worth making it to taste those flavours. I also changed the recipe to use ingredients that I could find readily in Coles.

Smokey Chilli Braised Beef with Cheesy Cornmeal DumplingsAdapted from Donna Hays recipe

2 tbsp olive oil
1.5kg Casserole Beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 long red Chilli
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
I also added 2 drops of very hot sauce that we have as we love it spicy
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
2 cups beef stock

cornbread and coriander dumplings
1½ cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup instant polenta (I used the standard polenta in the supermarket and it worked beautifully)
1½ buttermilk
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, chopped


  1. Heat tsbp of oil in a heavy based pot. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in the pot. You may need to do this is batches, then set aside
  2. Add the rest of the oil and saute the onion and garlic for five minutes.
  3. Add paprika and fresh and dry chilli and cook for a further minute
  4. Add the beef back to the pan along with the remaining casserole ingredients (brown sugar, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and stock) then bring to the boil.
  5. Turn the temperature to a low heat and cook for 3 hours with a tight fitting lid
  6. At 3 hours I found the casserole was not as thick as I wanted so while preheating the oven to 200 degrees celcius I took the lid off the casserole and reduced the liquid for 20 mins.
  7. Add all of the dumpling mixture into a bowl and mix to combine.
  8. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the casserole (I made mine quite large, a tbsp of mixutre is probably enough and will be quicker to cook) bake in the oven with the lid for 25 - 30 mins until the dumplings are cooked through.
  9. Serve with green veg and a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm out of Hibernation

For those of you who didn't know and were wondering where all of my annoying facebook updates with recipes had gone to, 6 months ago I had a baby. And as parenting isn't something that comes naturally for me I went into hibernation and ran from my responsibilities.

It's funny how when I became a housewife, it changed my drive to do things. I managed to catch up on every single TV show that I have ever watched in my lifetime (which was at least 4 hours of TV watching every day), cared for my beautiful son (who is a happy little guy so I must have done an OK job) and tried to become a domestic goddess (which I failed at dismally) I HATE CLEANING.

At the beginning of June I went back to work part-time and took up a fitness challenge.  I find the busier I am the more motivated I become to get things done. So it's time to get back into the kitchen and get cooking new recipes again. 

I'll be posting my first recipe for you all tomorrow and it will be the perfect recipe for a chilly Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy xx

Monday, October 29, 2012

Something Different with Mince

Cook Meter: Amateur
Cost Meter: $

I buy alot of mince, because it's cheap and there are a few different things that I can cook with it.  But it's one of those things where you naturally gravitate towards a few set recipes and never break away from it (spag bol, nachos, burritos. shepherds pie etc)

When faced with an almost empty fridge and only mince in the freezer sometimes you have to get a little bit creative.  So try this recipe out for size. It's definitely better than 2 minute noodles and surprisingly delicious.

Mince and Noodle Stirfry.

 400g beef mince
1/2 brown onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet thai chilli sauce
1/2 pack of vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Your choice of leftover vegetables (I used frozen beans and corn, and half a capsicum I had left over in the fridge)
1 fried egg for every bowl.


  1. Finely chop the garlic and onion and cook in a wok until soft. Boil some hot water.
  2. Brown the mince and add the chilli flakes, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce
  3. Pour the hot water over the vermicelli noodles until covered and leave for 5 mins till they soften.
  4. Add vegetables and cook until soft.
  5. Stir through the cooked noodles and peanuts
  6. Serve into bowls and top with fried egg, make sure the yolk is still runny.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scalloped Potato...Potato Bake...Potato

Cook Meter: Intermediate
Cost Meter: $

Do you remember the scene from Forrest Gump where Bubba tells Forrest about all the different ways to make shrimp? I play a game with one of my friends with potatoes. You take turns naming all the different types of potatoes, you get a free pass each if you get stuck where you can just say Potato. We can honestly play this game for hours, because seriously, think about all the different ways to cook a potato

 The most versatile of vegetables the one that I rate at the top is the humble best of all the side dishes - The Potato Bake (for you aussies) or Scalloped Potatoes (what I call it at home)

Everyone usually has their own recipe, and this is mine.

It can turn out a little different each time depending on how thick you cut your potatoes and it's a fine line between getting the potatoes cooked just right and not over cooking the glorious creamy sauce so that it's too thick.

You can fine tune it, take things out, add things in (like bacon).  But its a great base recipe and sure to be loved by everyone.

Potatoes - I use nadine potatoes, they are the best all rounder potato, great for mashing, roasting all things spud, enough to fill your dish
2 cloves garlic
150g grated cheese
300mls cream

  1. Heat Oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Thinly slice the potatoes, and finely dice the garlic.
  3. Place a layer of potato on the bottom of the dish, sprinkle some garlic and cheese.
  4. Place another two layers of potatoes, sprinkle garlic and cheese.
  5. When you get to the half way point on your dish, pour over half of the cream.
  6. Repeat steps 2-3 until you get to the top, pour over the remaining cream.
  7. Place in the oven, check at 45 mins, if you can smoothly place a fork through the disk take it out, otherwise cook for a further five mins and check again.  You want the potatoes to be just cooked through. Cook it for too long and the sauce will be too thick.