Hot Cheesy Dip

I’ve made versions of this over the years and it’s one of those things you basically can’t f*ck up. Much the same as my no-fail muffin recipe, you can use this and change it up with whatever ingredients you have on hand, or whatever tickles your fancy.

You’ll need:
Cast iron pan (I have a medium-sized dish with a wooden trivet I use for this and shakshuka dishes – seriously get yourself some cast iron and it will last a lifetime)
Onion (as finely chopped as you can get it, or stick it in a blender)
Fresh garlic (use more than you think you’ll need, don’t be stingy with this)
Vegetables – I used spinach, portobello mushrooms and broccoli. (Chopped up roughly, into pieces about the size of your thumbnail)
250g cream cheese (leave it out so it softens a little, otherwise it won’t combine with the other ingredients)
125g feta (you can go wild and use the lot, but you don’t need it, I’m saving the other half for shakshuka/ baked eggs for Sunday brunch)
50g finely grated fresh parmesan (for the love of God, only use fresh, if you have that fake stuff in your house I want you to throw it in the bin now, that stuff isn’t even food)
Fresh lemon – you just need a small lemon wedge for some fresh juice before you serve the dip, the citrus cuts through the richness of the cheese and lifts the flavour, it’s a small thing but important.

Combine ingredients, pop in your cast iron skillet, into the oven on high for about 20 mins, take it out and stir part way through.

Best served with lightly toasted baguette or your fav bread for dipping. Don’t feel you need to cut the baguette – it’s more fun to rip pieces off and dip in…

I use little square plates when I make dishes like this, otherwise it can get pretty messy.

A note on veggies: you can stick everything in a blender if you like, it’s faster for sure. Ive made this both ways, but prefer the look and texture of roughly cut veggies in this dip.

Rarotonga Feasting: Moonfish in Pawpaw

Just a quick note/update, as there’s still much relaxing to be done in Rarotonga… Last night I whipped this dish up with local ingredients and it was easy and super fast. No exact measurements – I’m on holiday after all you gotta go with the flow!


Into two double layered tin foil boats, combine

Half an onion, thinly sliced, three gloves freshly minced garlic

Two teaspoons fresh chillis

Fresh salt & pepper

Two medium Moonfish fillets over the top of the onion/ chilli mixture (any NZ fav fish would work, but non-gamefish will flake apart rather than hold together, so needs less cooking and should be combined with other ingredients much more gently)

1.5 tablespoons coconut milk spread evenly over the fish  pin the two packets

Small handful finely cut coriander over the fish

Seal up into packets, and put in a medium oven to poach the fish in the mixture and juices


Cut up a handful of fresh green beans, put this on the stove in a pot with about two teaspoons of coconut milk, and half a teaspoon of the same chilli used on the fish, cook on low until a little more tender (but still with some crunch)

Cut up baby bananas, add to the beans, add more coconut milk (another teaspoon) take off the heat and let is rest with the lid on..


Halve a a ripe pawpaw, and scoop out the seeds, then create a deeper ‘boat’ in the pawpaw.


Take the poached Moonfish out of the oven, use a big spoon to add it to the beans and bananas, combine, perhaps add a little more coconut milk if it needs it, then add another small handful of freshly chopped coriander.


To serve, add to a plate with rice, and spoon the mixture into the pawpaw….. we had ours with champagne but I’m sure a nice mild Pinot Gris would pair just as well.


Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

A vegan/dairy free take on a modern classic dressing – this takes around 10 minutes from start to finish, and will keep in the fridge for up to a week… but I doubt it will last that long!


2 large cloves garlic

Juice of 2x medium lemons

2x gherkins

1x teaspoon olive oil

1x teaspoon apple cider vinegar

A handful of frozen baby peas

A handful of fresh parsley

1/2 Ripe avocado

Pinch of black pepper

2-3 teaspoons of water for the consistency you desire


Simply combine all ingredients in a food processor in the order stated above, until you reach the consistency you want – I used this as an alternative to my usual tahini-based dressings on a buddha-bowl with bulgur wheat base, steamed winter veg of broccoli, cauli, green beans and carrots, and spicy potato wedges to zing up the dish for a weekday work lunch. All up this took about 25 mins of prep and I had dinner and two huge bowls for lunch.


Buddha Bowl w/ Spicy Miso Coconut Dressing

This is a fabulous way of preparing and eating food with a INTENT. Food that nourishes body, mind and spirit.

As we move into a new calendar year, it’s a great opportunity to start that ‘diet’ you’ve been chastising yourself about… but instead of some ridiculous calorie restricting monstrosity that people very rarely if ever stick to: how about trying to just eat a natural, largely plant based diet?

Buddha bowls are a great way to do this…. You can cook quinoa in bigger batches, and it lasts 2-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container, and cut veggies will also last up to 3 days covered in a damp handy towel and wrapped airtight. Like most things that are worthwhile doing, it takes a little prep but it’s more than worth it.

For this bowl I’ve put together a combination of the below listed fresh veggies, and made a new fav dressing (which can also be used as a dipping sauce for crudités or drizzled over pita breads on a nibbles platter)

Organic quinoa base (I used Ceres Organics but you can’t see it on this pic)
Roasted garlic pepper cauliflower (I had a whole cauli in the fridge that needed using, so I mixed organic sesame oil with fresh garlic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and roasted for 25 mins on 180 till it started to golden on top… Don’t cook any longer or it loses it’s crunch completely)
Red cabbage – finely cut
Fresh parsley (from the apartment deck-garden)
Snow peas cut length ways
Julienne carrots
Julienne cucumber
Sunflower seeds (suggest toasting these if you have time)
Julienne yellow capsicum

Layer the quinoa on the bottom, and then lay the cut veggies in rows across the bowl… this prep and layering is an important part of putting the intent and energy into your bowl, and its the part of the process that makes the selected ingredients look beautiful and appetising. Once everything is layered, I drizzled this with my newly perfected spicy miso coconut dressing – which I have included below.

Spicy Miso Coconut Dressing [or dipping sauce]
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
4 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 thumb-sized nub of fresh peeled ginger
1 medium cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (or agave syrup or organic honey)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 Tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Harissa chilli

Blend ingredients until smooth, add water at the end.
** If you want to use as a salad dressing, simply add another tablespoon of water.

Gluten-free, Organic Blueberry Muffins (w/ Dark Choc Buttercream)

NB: always go for organic blueberries – even frozen, unless these are certified organic, they can be covered in pesticides and nasty chemicals

2 cups ’free from gluten’ self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt (two medium pinches!)
1 large egg
1/2 block Whittakers Dark Cacao Chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup plus 3 Tbsp unsweetened Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh ORGANIC blueberries


  • Remember to save about 1/4 of a cup of smaller blueberries to place on top of your muffins
  • Put cupcake holders into your muffin tin and put this to one side.
  • Preheat the oven to around 220 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl or in a mixer whisk egg for 20 seconds.
  • Add sugar and whisk until smooth and thick.
  • Add oil and continue to mix.
  • Add sour cream and mix till smooth.
  • Slowly sift in the gluten free flour, add berries and stir in until evenly distributed.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula.
  • Do not overmix.

Scoop the batter with an ice cream scoop (or two tablespoons) into the muffin tins. Melt 1/2 large bar Whittakers Dark Cacao Chocolate in a double boiler – then drizzle through the muffin mixture to create chocolate `streams` in the muffins) Bake the muffins for 21 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean.

Cool on the bench. Perhaps test one whilst they are warm tho, just to be sure… 


Chocolate Buttercream

  • 60g butter
  • 2 cups of Chelsea Icing Sugar
  • The other half of the Whittakers Dark Cacao Chocolate, melted in a double boiler.

NB: literally just throw the butter and icing sugar into your mixer, and when it starts to `cream` drizzle in the melted dark chocolate.


Once your muffins are completely cool you can SCHMEAR this on the top of each muffin, and add a blueberry to the top… I doubled the mixture above, and these still went in around 30 minutes… they are a wonderfully moist delicious treat.



Quinoa Salad: Two Ways

We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Quinoa over the past few years, and it has a well deserved reputation as a ‘super grain’… it doesn’t have to be a pain to make this in your salads, and one of the best ways to prepare the grain of use is through utilising your trusty rice cooker.

Today I made two salads from the same double batch of red Quinoa:

  • Spicy Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
  • Fresh Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Feta, and Spinach Salad


Spicy Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
2 cups of organic red quinoa, rinsed in fresh water, drained, then cooked in a rice cooker covered in 4 cups of fresh cool water for 15 minutes. (this will give you soft fluffy quinoa with minimal effort)

  • Put this into a large bowl and let it cool.

In a separate bowl, add the following ingredients:
Finely diced 1/2 onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Juice of two limes
Circa 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1x finely chopped green capsicum
1x tin of drained black beans
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons of the hot sauce of your choice
Finely chopped coriander
3/4 cup finely diced celery

Once the Quinoa is cool, stir through the mixture, combine, add salt & pepper liberally and serve. I also added a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves (always try and use up what is fresh in the fridge where possible)


Fresh Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Feta, and Spinach Salad
Prepare the quinoa as above, then in a bowl, combine the following:

Finely diced red onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1x medium sized diced cooked & cooled butternut squash*
Finely diced celery
Circa 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or sub for white or red wine vinegar at a pinch – not balsamic as it will over power the flavour)
3/4 cup finely diced capsicum
One large handful fresh parsley chopped very finely

Crumble in around 150g feta then add to the cooled quinoa and stir through.

Add to this 3-4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves before serving. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper – and if you think it needs a kick – squeeze a little lemon or lime juice and toss through as this makes the flavours come alive.

  • Dice the butternut squash finely, into 1cm cubes, coast in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven on 18 for circa 18-20 minutes or until cooked.



Sunday Muffins: Zucchini, Mushroom, Onion & Feta

Since I had bought these amazing portobello mushrooms, I was determined to make as many yummy things with them as possible (hence the stuffed mushrooms of Friday morning, and the Brunch Bake with mushrooms today)

We are HUGE fans of my savoury muffins, and they don’t last long around here… I thought that I had actually already posted a recipe for my (literally award winning) muffins before because I have shared this one so many times… turns out, no.. and now (since going through my nutritional healthcare course) I have made a few subs to most things (in particular for this one, subbing out white self raising flour for certified organic wholemeal flour – yus!)

You can literally use this muffin recipe and sub in and out your favourite things – the key binding ingredients and the stuff that makes them moist and delicious just must remain the same, in the same quantities:

2 cups organic wholemeal flour
2 eggs (beaten lightly with a fork)
1 cup light milk
1/2 cup sour cream or aioli
2 cups grated cheese

You literally just combine all the above and add what you want for the unique flavours… for these ones I added:

Finely diced onion
Finely diced streaky bacon
Roughly diced portobello mushrooms (remember that mushrooms naturally shrink when you cook them)
Finely diced zucchini
150g crumbled feta
Cracked pepper, and circa 1/2 teaspoon salt (most people don’t season their muffins, bread etc and it makes them BLAND.. trust me, this makes a HUGE batch and therefore it’s not a lot of salt given the size of the mixture)

I combined the above, stirring till fully combined, and then used two spoons to put into the muffin cups.. when full to the top (remember – there is no raising agent so fill them to the top) I put a small handful of pumpkin seeds on top (these toast beautifully and add a crunch and butteriness to the muffins) I have also used pine nuts and sesame seeds before.

Best to TRY and let them cool down, as they are quite gooey when they come out of the oven… these should be baked around 180 for circa 12 minutes or when they go golden brown on top.

This combo NEVER FAILS. I have made muffins with chorizo, with carrot, sausage, you name it – whatever flavour combos you love can be combined and this mix will make them MOIST and delicious.


Easy Breakfast Bake

After consuming the better part of an easter egg for breakfast this morning, I decided we needed something a little bit more nutritious for brunch… this took circa 5 mins prep (chopping, fetching ingredients) 7 mins in the pan, and a further 10 mins in the oven (which was ample time to get the vogels into the toaster!)

Finely diced 1/2 medium sized onion
Circa 100g streaky bacon sliced finely (helps it cook faster)
1x large zucchini diced evenly

Toss this all into a large frypan, start heating through…

5x medium sized portobello mushrooms (diced about the same size as the zucchini) thrown into the pan, continue heating through
Add circa 1.5 teaspoons of basil pesto
Then crumble around 100-150g feta and fold in (don’t stir as you want this chunky as it melts)

Pour everything into an oven proof dish (which you will serve it in) then make two ‘wells’ in the dish – crack in two fresh eggs into the wells, and pop the whole dish in the oven on high…

This is the part where you clean as you go… the vogels goes in the toaster, you wrap up/ store/ refrigerate any ingredients not used, wipe your benches, and then put out the cutlery and finely dice fresh parsley for your garnish.

Serve with cut and buttered toast on the side, little plates, spoons for digging in – and don’t forget to pop a wooden chopping board underneath the dish!

Enjoy 🙂


Spicy Thai Chicken & Basil Mince on Cous Leaves

So I found a recipe for this dish, which I LOVED in Thailiand… and I changed it, this traditional dish is called LARB.

500g Chicken Mince
3 cloves minced garlic
2x thumb sized nubs of fresh ginger chopped as fine as you can get them
4x teaspoons crushed chilli
2x small pinches of kaffir lime leaves
2x tablespoons oyster or fish sauce
circa 1x teaspoon minced lemongrass
2x tablespoons chicken stock (powdered)
1x tablespoon brown sugar
3x spring onions roughly chopped
small handful coriander roughy chopped
Large handful of fresh basil roughly chopped (which goes in right at the end)

Add the garlic, ginger, chilli to a wok with oil, once this softens, add the chicken mince and turn to high. Cook through and as this is cooking add the stock.

Slowly add the remainder of the ingredients – stirring continuously: fish sauce, brown sugar, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, spring onions, coriander… just before you are ready to serve, add the basil so it’s fragrance will be one of the first things you smell…

I then spooned this mixture onto washed/rinsed cous lettuce leaves, onto a platter and you’re ready to serve.

This was my first time trying the dish and I have to say, it was AMAZING.. as with anything, follow your instincts, taste as you go, and don’t forget that thai dishes are all about balancing your sweet, sour, freshness, crunch, and spice…

This took about 10 mins to prep, 15 to cook in the wok and 3 mins to serve up…


Chickpea & Blue Cheese Summer Salad

Another quick & delish easy salad combo to share….

300g reduced salt tinned chickpeas
Two large handfuls mix lettuce leaves
Circa 150g creamy blue cheese cut into squares
Handful fresh picked green beans cut roughly the size of your thumbnail
1 red capsicum, cut same size
Small 1/3 handful of pumpkin seeds (toast them in a pan for extra nutty-ness)

This is super-quick to throw together, and great with a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar… perfect for a filling healthy late summer lunch…