Saturday, July 27, 2013

Croatian vegie stuffed capsicum

A big thank you to SJ, the culinary genius from Chasing the Donkey, who inspired this recipe. Get the original stuffed peppers recipe here and follow SJ's blog if you love food and travel or need a laugh.

After seeing SJs meat filled version on Instagram my mouth wouldn't stop watering for days, which is unusual as I do not eat beef. But I'm always looking for new ways to cook vegetables, so I thought I'd rework this into a vegetarian winter warmer for meatless Monday. Plus I wanted to use up the vegies that were piling up in our fridge and some herbs from our garden. This is really one of those meals where you can just throw together whatever you have on hand.

So Monday comes along and as usual I am super organised, haha yeah right! When I bothered to read the recipe properly (on MONDAY night) I realise it's going to take two hours to cook. Crap! Now that we have a child, eating at 10pm on a school night just isn't an option. So unfortunatly we didn't get to make this for Meatless Monday, it was bumped to Wednesday because that's my day off with Ava and clearly I have heaps of free time on Wednesdays. 

There are a few steps in this recipe - stuffing the capsicum, making the sauce then cooking it for two hours. So SJ's two hours would equal minimum three hours for me. And in addition to cooking and prep time I needed to prepare myself mentally...  

As a general rule I like to make things that are quick and simple. Minimal instructions and zero technique, anything more and I end up rocking in the corner. However I am known to occasionally overextend myself (in time and ability) and this was worth the anxiety and the effort. 

Once Ava was tucked up for her afternoon nap I was ready for battle the challenge. I read the instructions multiple times and reminded myself to breath. 


Stuffed Capsicums:
6 capsicums
2 small carrots diced
2 celery stalks diced 
2 zucchinis diced
2 tomatoes diced
1 tsp Garlic 
1 cup Brown rice
1 free range egg
1 tsp Paprika (optional)

1 Celery stalk
1 Carrot
1 tbs GF Flour
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt & pepper
Bay leaf
Mixed herbs (optional)


Start with the stuffing:
  • Carefully slice the top off the capsicums and scrape out all the seeds
  • Wash and set aside - don't forget to keep the lids
  • Chop up the vegies and mix together in a bowl
  • Mix in rice, paprika and garlic
  • Season with salt and pepper 
  • Spoon mix into capsicums, don't overfill them as they will explode (like mine did)
  • Place capsicums into a large pot keeping them close so they don't fall over, but not too squashed as they will fall appart like mine did 
  • Set aside to make sauce.

Make your sauce:
  • Throw celery and carrot in a pan. 
  • You can add onion, however onion and my sensitive belly don't get along so I left it out.  
  • Once the vegies have softened add flour (I use GF) and mix well until browned 
  • Add tomato paste, stock and and herbs
  • Stir well until sauce boils 
  • Pour sauce evenly over the capsicums, making sure they are fully covered
  • Put the lids on the capsicums. 

Cook for 2 hours:
  • Cook on a low heat for 2 hours
  • Check the pot and shake regularly to ensure the sauce is evenly spread so you don't burn them 
  • Add extra stock, water or a can of diced tomatos if you need more liquid - don't let it dry out or the capsicums will burn and fall apart
  • Allow to sit for a while after cooking - like any good sauce the flavours will intensify
  • Serve with mashed potato or rice. 

Initially the multiple steps had me terrified, however I found the process to be more time consuming than difficult. And this is one of those meals you can just throw together whatever you have on hand. Perfect for someone like me who struggles with too many instructions and never remembers to bring a shopping list to the shops. 

The aroma that filled the house was amazing, resulting in the inevitable over indulgence where appropriate portion size is thrown out the window.  And best of all, Ava loved it! Like all new things she did not want to try it at first, but after some gentle persuasion and possibly a little bribery she polished off the lot!  Winning!

What's your favourite winter warmer meal?

It's a neeeeew car!!

We have a new car!! My first ever - brand spanking new car at the ripe old age of 38! Not a demo model like Golfie but a brand new car. Snaps to me and Burnsie, we are so grown up.

Do you know what sucks about having a new car? Burnsie takes the new car every day. Ok, so his office is on the Central Coast so he drives 3 hours per day - hence the new car. First world problem...

I can't complain, I so love having my own car again. It means I don't have to run/power walk from the station to day care to pick up Ava, then race home whilst trying to spot cockatoos, discuss the position of the moon, negotiate riding in the pram over walking while carrying a backpack, handbag, various artwork and a handful of MUST HAVE gumnuts. It means that Ava and I get home by 6 and can leisurely cook dinner together rather than me frantically throw some food into a pan while Ava is planted infront of the TV for 20 minutes before being dragged to the table to inhale her food, then dragged into the bath.

Whilst driving 5 minutes to the station is not my greenest behaviour, it's amazing how much a little extra time can bring so much peace to one family. Call me a hypocrite, but sometimes it's not easy being green.

Friday, July 26, 2013

An open letter to my future teenage daughter

Happy girl!
The other day I asked you, "Who are you best friends at pre-school?" You proudly shouted, "ME!" That made me so proud. That's right sweetheart. You should always be your own best friend, don't be defined by those around you and always love and be true to yourself.

As a teenager you will have so many friends, probably way more that you even know on Facebook or whatever latest and greatest social site is by then. But your true friends will love you for who you are. You will be tested and pushed to the limits of your own boundaries, but I can see such strength and determination in you to walk your own path and to your own beat. I love that about you, even when it frustrates me to tears!

Yesterday you told me you are clever and very strong. You often say that you make us proud and happy, which you do every moment of every day. Probably more than you could ever know. Sweetheart you are a delight!  You are clever, funny, cheeky, witty, inquisitive, strong willed, independent, loving and divine. You make your Dad and I so proud and we are better people for having you in our life.

As a teenager I can only hope that you see yourself through my eyes. Being a teenager can be tough. I was aweful to your Grandma when I was a teenager, and I guess we are bound to have our moments too.  As a 3 year old your stubbornness and determination both frustrate and amaze me. I am thrilled at how intelligent and quick witted you are. However I often get a hint of teenage attitude from you, it frightens me a little as I know the karma train is heading my way!

Today as I was frantically searching for my keys, cursing how late we were you put your hand on my shoulder and said, "It's ok Mummy I'll help you find them." Then you ran to the lounge and pulled them out of the rocking chair where you had hidden them!! I didn't know weather to laugh or cry, so I just praised and thanked you through clenched teeth.

I wish so many things for you Ava. Childhood, play, innocence, imagination, study, friends, parties (with no boys present...I can only wish right), first kiss (at age 35 please), travel, career, love, passion, family.  But I wish more than anything that you stay true to your heart and follow your dreams, don't let others drag you down and never let your gender, age, sexuality or beliefs hold you back. l hope that you can come to us at anytime, no matter what. We love you unconditionally and will never judge or dismiss how you feel.

You can be anything you want to be. At 3 years of age you are already a confident and articulate public speaker. You are amazing with animals and babies. You are incredibly creative and super intelligent. I have no doubt that whatever you set your heart on, whatever fills you with joy and challenges your mind you will achieve. My daughter, I love you.