Jamie Oliver’s chicken challenge

Blackened Chicken and San Fran Quinoa Salad

This week I took the plunge and decided my kitchen needed to get messy. So I tried a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. Oh hells yeah! I decided to bring it.

Did I manage it? Eh…. no.

Now, I love Jamie as much as the next person. His recipes are delicious, no nonsense and always work, but I’m not too sure what he’s at with this everyone-can-cook-faster-than-the-speed-of-light malarkey. Honestly like. I know there have been about 20 bazillion blog posts written about how it’s nigh-on impossible to make any of his meals in either 30 or 15 minutes, so I’m not going to go there again; but I do think it’s a shame he’s made such a rod for his own back. I get the point he’s trying to make: food can be quick, easy and tasty if you’re clever about how you prepare it. However, I think that people in general are pedantic and once they can’t make something in the allotted time limit they will immediately call the whole venture a failure.

Well, this beautiful salad took me longer than 15 minutes to make, and afterwards my kitchen did look like a bomb had hit it; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, in fact I urge you to. The mix of flavours, texture, spice and sweetness is incredibly yummie and it’s pretty healthy to boot. It’s definitely one worth waiting for!

Blackened Chicken and San Fran Quinoa Salad

Blackened Chicken and San Fran Quinoa Salad close up

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Holiday-substitute chicken pilaf

Finances feeling a bit tight? Recession starting to bite? If you’re living in Ireland or the States, I imagine you might be able to relate.

Not the Australians, I’m pretty sure the Australians don’t even know how to spell the word recession.

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice

There might be no recession in Australia, but finances are a still a wee bit tight here in Chez Yumbolicious. A large tax bill, coupled with saving for two possible trips home next year, car insurance, wedding presents, vet bills and other BORING stuff mean we’re not going on any exotic holidays this year. Oh well.

So if you’re not going to make it on that dream-trip to South America this year, fear not mes amigos, make this and bring South America to you instead.

Cumin-spiced yoghurt

It a recipe adapted from one of my very favourite books: falling cloudberries by Tessa Kiros; and I am deadly serious, it genuinely tastes like something you’d eat on your holidays in Peru or someplace fierce exotic like that. Coriander, chilli and cumin-spiced yoghurt blend together for a fiesta in your mouth. Sounds pretty good, right?!

Perfect with a cerveza in the back garden.

¡Buen viaje!

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice with cumin-spiced yoghurt

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Pad thai challenge

Near where The Fella and I live in Sydney, there is a tiny little place that sells chicken pad thai noodles for $5 a pop. Five dollars? I hear you all shout. Yes my friends, just five, small, shiny little dollars

Needless to say, my frugal Fella thinks this place is the bees knees.

While I don’t mind the noodles from Glebe’s $5 Pad Thai, they’re not outstanding; but then for five bucks you wouldn’t expect them to be. A few weeks back I made the mistake of expressing this opinion to The Fella, who immediately issued me with a challenge. The general gist of which was: well little-miss-food-blogger, if you’re so smart you should make better pad thai for less than five dollars. I accepted the challenge, with gusto.

I’m not going to count this one as a fail. I might not have managed to stick to the ridiculous budget, but I maintain that my noodles taste far better, and that’s what really counts, right?

Chicken pad thai noodles

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Haloumi salad

Is there anything in this world better than fried cheese? Really? I’m pretty sure it’s virtually impossible to beat, even with a super-long-great-big stick.

I actually wonder what was going through Mr Haloumi’s mind when he was inventing it? I like to think the thought process went something like this:

Mmmmmm, cheese really is some kind of super food, totally healthy and not at all packed with fat. No, no, no. So how could I make it appeal to the non-healthy eating market? … conundrum … I know, let’s FRY IT! Whoop!

Genius.

So to counteract it’s many health benefits, I’ve paired the Haloumi with super fresh, calorie-free veggies in a yummie salad of my own inventing (that sounds so way better then admitting these ingredients were all I could find in the fridge).

I know there are the Haloumi haters out there, who think it’s too chewy and salty and just plain weird. Well I just say bah to them, the less they eat, the more there is for me, right? But I did cook my Haloumi with a squeeze of lemon juice, just to cut through that saltiness, then paired it with a little lemon dressing and Bob’s your Uncle, you have yumness on a plate.

Haloumi salad

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Yumbo feta and chickpea salad

Salads: Love them? Hate them? Nothing them?

Mmmmm? This is a difficult one.

When I was a small child, I don’t remember ever having salad. Then at some point in the latter half of the eighties, Ireland must have discovered iceberg lettuce. And thus began the many crimes against salad that my poor home country is so guilty of. Wet. Limp. Tasteless. Familiar to anyone?

“Eat your salad, it’s good for you” my mam would growl across the dinner table; leaving my brother and me with the firm belief that anything good for you couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, taste nice.

Then the nineties rolled around and with them the Celtic tiger. We were suddenly awash with such foreign goodies as sun-blush tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Things in the salad department were suddenly starting to look up. And in fairness, we’ve come a long way since then: like Iarnród Éireann, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.

These Australians on the other hand, they have this whole salad-making lark down. They know their stuff and they are not afraid to flaunt it. This recipe was given to me by The Fella’s sister; she’s a great cook and always willing to share her secrets. I think this salad actually started out as a way to serve feta from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. But, it has now morphed almost beyond all recognition into a hearty dinner salad (yes, a salad can be hearty!). Just serve with a crispy bread roll on the side and you’ve a super tasty meal for two.

I know some of you will be tempted to skimp on the garlic, but don’t be afraid of it! It totally makes this salad. You’d do it an injustice by skimping, and salads have been done enough injustice already.

Yumbo feta and chickpea salad

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