Cheesy Chicken, Quinoa and Black Bean Bake

Hello Dear Reader,

This is a corker of a recipe from Mel over at "Mels Kitchen Cafe" it is hearty, delicious and easy, all big ticks in my books. I had prepped most of the ingredients days before actually making this wonderful meal, so it came together very quickly. I have tinkered with the original recipe to reflect the ingredients on had on hand.

The weekend before I had roasted a chicken in the BBQ while it was lit, grilling some steaks, I then broke the chicken down and froze down 3 cups of chicken meat (the boys had the rest for lunches). I cooked a big batch of black beans in the slow cooker on that same weekend as well and froze the cooked beans down into 300 gram lots. The quinoa was cooked the afternoon before, ready to go. So by prepping a few core ingredients, well before needed, I was able to have dinner on the table in record time. 

Ingredients for Cheesy Chicken, Quinoa and Black Bean Bake, clockwise from top right-2 cans of Black Beans, drained and rinsed (or homemade equivalent), 3 cups cooked quinoa, 1 jar of salsa, juice of 1 juicy lime, 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, 3 cups cooked chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon chilli powder (more or less depending on how hot you like it), 450 ml of tomato passata and 2 cups of grated cheese of choice

In a large bowl combine everything except the cheese

And give it a good stir

In a greased casserole dish (23cm x 33cm) spoon over half the mixture and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese

Continue layering with other half of mixture and the rest of the cheese on top

Bake in a preheated 190C oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly

There you go, a delicious dinner, that with some prepping, of the core ingredients, was fast and easy. I am totally won over by this fabulous recipe and will be making it again soon.

What do you prep ahead of time to make your life easier in the kitchen?

Have a terrific Tuesday

One Year Ago-Oat, Chia and Yoghurt Breakfast Pots

PS. A little note about the cheese I used in todays recipe. I didn't have any tasty or matured cheese to grate into this dish, like I normally would. I had a block of some really crumbly vintage cheese which just wouldn't grate as it was so crumbly, so crumbly cheese it was. It worked a treat but grated cheese would have been easier­čśĆ


Roasted Tomato and Bacon Pasta

Hello Dear Reader,

I have been making quite a few pasta recipes lately, mainly because we love pasta but also because we have a glut of fine egg noodles. I bought another packet of them when I went up to the "Golden Circle Factory Outlet" a few week ago. They are fantastic value for money and I love that you can take out as many "nests" as you need to cook. One nest in one serving. They also take less that 2 minutes to cook which is fabulous when you are trying to get dinner on the table, fast. 

This is just a throw together recipe really, roasting the tomatoes and bacon on the same oven tray, making up a quick creamy sauce and then combining it all with the cooked pasta. Please don't be frightened of the raw egg in the sauce, when you mix everything together the egg cooks and loses it's "eggy" taste. All you are left with is a light layer of delicious sauce on the pasta.

Ingredients for Roasted Tomato and Bacon Pasta, clockwise from top left-
250 grams of small tomatoes, 350 grams of pasta of your choice, 4 slices of bacon, a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, 1/2 cup of light sour cream, 1/3 cup of grated parmesan and 2 egg yolks

Slice the bacon rashers in thirds, length ways and cut the eye of the bacon in half width ways, or just cut it up so the pieces of bacon are approximately even in size. Lay bacon on a lined oven tray and bake in 200 C oven for 10 minutes

Meanwhile add the egg yolks, parmesan cheese, light sour cream and parsley to a large bowl and mix well. Pop the pasta on to cook, drain and set aside, reserving about 1/2 a cup of starchy cooking water

After 10 minutes of cooking, turn the bacon over and pop the washed tomatoes onto the tray as well, now roast for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Or until bacon is golden and crispy and the tomatoes are just starting to soften. Remove from oven and slice the bacon rashers in to smaller pieces

Add the hot pasta to the eggy sauce and mix gently to combine, adding extra cooking water if needed

Top with roasted tomatoes and bacon and again, mix gently to combine

Serve immediately with a good grind of pepper

This is a super easy and delicious week day dinner that takes very little time to come together. Full of flavour, filling and fabulous. I find bacon makes everything better!

What is your go to, quick and easy weekday dinner?

Have a lovely day


Here and Now 6

Hello Dear Reader,

Here and now, we have finally had some rain, it rained on and off yesterday and we had some big showers overnight, loud enough to wake me up, so we must have had quite a lot. There is something magical about rain, it nourishes the plants and soil so much more than water out of the tap can and I just love it. I also love this monthly check in on how things are going with this "Here and Now" post.

Loving//The magnificent sunset of Friday evening and of course the rain yesterday and overnight

Eating//A few lovely light salads for dinner this past couple of weeks

Drinking//More water and less tea

Feeling//Happy that I have a long weekend. I have tomorrow off as an ADO

Making//A new Chocolate Brownie Recipe today, if it's really good, I will post the recipe

Thinking//How quickly Christmas is coming up and that it won't be long until the tree goes up again

Dreaming//Of a time when I don't have to go back to work, ever. I know I have used that one a lot, but it always seems to be on my mind.

Lovely Sarah from "Say Little Hen" hosts this monthly mindful topic of "Here and Now" why don't you head over to her blog and check out the other bloggers, posting their own "Here and Now's" 

Have a lovely Sunday


What we bought, spent and ate this week

Hello Dear Reader,

And hello weekend! I just love my weekends, I also have Monday off as an ADO, so hello long weekend for me! I have just written up my list for today, things I haven't had a chance to do while at work all week and the usual weekend jobs. Todays list goes like this-

Tidy tupperware(plastic containers) draw
De-hair lounges
Cut up ripe red paw paw
Tidy pantry
Walk dogs
Water garden ( I am hoping for rain though)
Remserv a phone bill (claim on salary sacrifice)

And that should just about do me. Lovely Hubby is away over on Moreton Island, having a catch up with his best mate, so it is just our son, his lovely girlfriend and me at home. As they pretty much do their own thing, dinner wise, I won't really need to worry about dinners too much until lovely hubby comes home on Monday evening. It's like a little holiday for us both.

Now on with what we bought, spent and ate this past week.

What we bought
Meat from Marjax meats and whole chicken from Aldi. While the BBQ was lit on Sunday cooking the steaks, we popped the whole chicken in, as well, to roast. It is a charcoal BBQ and once it is lit it holds its heat for many hours, we thought we might as well take advantage of it. The roast chicken was used for lunches and to go in the Quinoa and Black Bean Bake on Thursday. I just broke the chicken down and froze the meat for later

Shopping from Aldi, Coles and Northside Discount Fruit Barn

What we spent
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$34.60
Marjax Meats-$44.20
Coles-$10.35 + $6.00 later in the week for snow peas 

TOTAL-$137.05-I am happy it is under $150!!

What we ate
Friday-Mexican beans on toast with sour cream and grated cheese. Fridays are our easy night in
Sunday-BBQ with creamy potato bake and Nigellas Upmarket Mushy Peas

Monday-Roasted Tomato and Bacon Pasta

Tuesday-Coconut and Lemongrass Chicken Salad, this made a huge quantity and did us for lunches for two days as well as this dinner

Wednesday-Tempura Whiting with steamed Basmati Rice and snow peas. For some reason we didn't buy asian greens in the grocery shop, so I had to go to Coles on the way home for some green veg.

Thursday-Cheesy Chicken, Quinoa and Black Bean Bake, this is a corker of a recipe which I will be posting soon. It is quick and easy

So that was the week that was at our place, want to join in? 

Have a wonderful weekend


This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

As I mentioned yesterday, I try and live a small frugal life, not allowing too much commercialism into my life. We shop once a week for groceries for the week ahead, making sure everything is used up before shopping again. I find as I am growing older, I need less and less. I am not fashion conscience preferring to wear what I already have in my wardrobe. I have 3 handbags, all of which are  actually, backpacks, I have 10 pairs of shoes, including a pair of thongs and gumboots for the garden, which will do me for quite a while. What I am saying is this is what works for me, I am not telling you this is the way you should live, I'll be me and you be you, okay?

This mindset of frugality has always been with me, always thinking long and hard about purchases, big or small, do I need it and will this enrich my life. Most times the answer is no. Lovely Hubby on the other hand has been a bit of a spender in his life, and there are quite a few purchases that he just had to have, only to find that he didn't need them at all. He is much better with his spending these days, realising that stuff is just stuff and unless you really need it, it is a waste of hard earned money.

Now on to this weeks 5 frugal things-

1. Cooked 1 kilo of black beans in the slow cooker, then froze them down into 300 gram lots. It is such a simple process, just throw the bag of beans into a colander, wash and pick the beans over for small stones and debris. I then put the beans in the slow cooker with water covering them by at least 10 centimetres. Cook on low for 6 hours, let cool and then freeze down for later use. So much cheaper than buying black beans which are about $1.95 a can, where as, the whole kilo of dried black beans is just $3.99. This method cooked up 7 x 300 gram and 1 x 150 gram portions, saving approximately $11.60

2. Cooked a meat free dinner this week, it was a spectacular Roast Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta, no meat but good and filling.

3. Washed the quinoa over a bucket to catch the water instead of it going down the drain. Water here is so dreadfully expensive, I save water when and where I can. Frugal Weirdo? Yes indeed! This water was put onto the basil seedlings, comfrey and passionfruit vine. Quinoa has a coating on it called saponin, which is supposed to make the cooked quinoa bitter. And until yesterday I just never thought NOT rinse my quinoa, well after reading these two articles I may not be rinsing my quinoa in the future

4. Line dried all the washing, I know, nothing new there, but I do love sun kissed clothes. There is such a gorgeous fresh smell that nothing can replicate. 

5. Walked home from work twice this week, to get some exercise and to save the petrol. I will start riding my bike to and from work again by the end of this month, when I am certain the magpies have stopped swooping.  I will take the car today as I have to do the grocery shopping after work, as lovely Hubby is having a long weekend away on Moreton Island visiting his best friend. 

Okay, that's my 5 frugal things, I would love to know what you have been up to on the frugal front, all you have to do, to comment, is to click on the speech bubble at the end of the post. 

Have a wonderful day


What's Normal Anyway

Hello Dear Reader,

I know I live a bit of a different life to what is accepted as "normal". I don't shop just for the sake of it, only buying what food is necessary to last us for the week ahead. I don't look through shop catalogues, only the supermarket ones to see if there is anything we use on special, and then composting the rest.

We are encouraged to buy, buy, buy especially coming into this time of year, the lead up to Christmas, the ultimate silly season. There is so much pressure on families today to provide the latest and greatest toy/electronic device/clothing/gadget for their children that they often over spend, putting the purchases on credit, only to find by the end of January that they are well over their budget and have no chance of paying the credit card bill off in full, starting another year of debt.

What if we stopped buying for the sake of buying? What if we stopped buying into the falsehood that buying XYZ, will make your life perfect/happy/more instagramable? What if we stopped comparing our currant lives with the other, sometimes, fictitious lives portrayed on line and started living a real life. Would we be considered odd?

When growing up, for Christmas, we would receive one gift each and maybe a combined gift for the two of us as well. I can remember when we first moved down from Gympie to Redcliffe to be close to the Princess Alexandra hospital for Mum, we had quite a few, very humble Christmas's, and it didn't scar us for life, we were okay and understood. Mum and Dad just had to make do. We always had what really mattered, a family that loved us, enough clothing, a roof over our heads and lovely home cooked dinners and home made lunches every day.

I love the simple life I live, I don't crave stuff, I don't need stuff and I don't buy stuff to make me happy. I feel I already have too much in my life and am making some good headway with de-cluttering the house. I had set myself a year long challenge of de-cluttering the whole house from top to bottom. How am I going? Well, I have cleared quite a bit of clutter from the home, but I still have a long way to go, so the last thing I need to do is go shopping!

Are you, like me, a bit different, craving less, using less and needing less?

Have a lovely day

One Year Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week


Five Things That Are Making Me Happy

Hello Dear Reader,

I have borrowed todays post title from Kristen over at "The Frugal Girl", 5 things that are making me happy, at the moment. I guess it is very similar to my "Here and Now" posts which occur once a month, around the 17th, where I do a brain dump of things going on in my life at that very moment. But todays post is all about everyday things that are making me smile.

Again it is a form of mindfulness to quiet my brain and focus on what is making me happy, in the everyday. Life is fast, sometimes not fun, stressful and did I mention fast? A day can slip away so quickly without us seeing the beauty around us or giving thanks for what we have.

My 5 things that are making me happy today are-

1. My backpack. I just love it, it is a soft heavy duty cotton, it has loads of room, it is lightweight, it has lovely faux leather straps, a rose gold zipper and it was a gift from my son, just because he thought I would like it.

2. My native bee hive, I go out every morning to see my little bees, taking flight from their hive. A couple of weeks ago, they swarmed, not too sure the reason and I was frightened I would lose all of them as there were so many dead ones on the ground. Things seem to have returned to normal now , though. 

3. A few things in the garden are making me happy too, I visit my Lemon Myrtle tree every morning, grab a few leaves for tea and scrunch them in my hand to release the gorgeous uplifting fragrance, I can't help but smile

The plant below is a type of fig, I "appropriated" it home from a place we stayed at for our 29th Wedding anniversary, last year. They had this striking plant as an indoor plant and there were a few baby seedlings coming up around the adult plant. I carefully removed the seedling and bought it home. And look at it now!

My Pomegranate is starting to bloom again, this makes my so happy 

4. My dishwasher always makes me happy. I love cooking and have to say I am not the tidiest cook. I tend to use every pot, pan, bowl and spoon in the place. Every night it is chock-a-block and every morning, it when I clear it, everything is sparkling clean. Just love it!

5. This fabulous Cheesecake Sponge, the recipe is from Meg at "A Hopeful Nature" it is a corker of a recipe and we have been enjoying it every night for dessert this week. Such a treat

Want to join in? Tell me your 5 things that are making you happy, at the moment.

Have a lovely day

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