Israeli Pilaf

I’ve been inspired by the flavours of the Middle East for years. I’ve cooked countless Moroccan themed dinner parties and experimented with spices and ways to bring a beautiful meal to the table in a short amount of time.

One of my favourite dishes to bring to the table is an Israeli Pilaf. Every culture in the Middle East serves this dish in their own way. Today I’m giving you a recipe in my own way also…. coming from the ‘Mother of 5, get it done’ recipe! Ha!

What got me feeling good about this recipe was that I could add my housemade Vegetable broth to the dish! Game changer…. I sat there with a winning smirk on my face as my children ate up all it’s goodness.

For the chicken:

1 organic Chicken (save skin and bones to make a broth later).

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp parsley

For the Rice:

2 Tbsp olive oil

400g basmati rice (wash and soak for 1 hour)

300g Organic Lamb mince

700g Vegetable or chicken broth (housemade is best)

1 brown onion

3 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp all spice

Salt and pepper to taste

50g butter

30g blanched almonds

30g pinenuts

1 pomegranate

1 bunch of Coriander

1 bunch of Parsley

500g Greek yoghurt

150ml Veggie broth

2 garlic cloves

After shredding the chicken toss in the cumin and cinnamon. Cover and set aside.

Heat oil in the pan, slice onion and cook until golden. Add in the garlic and spices. Stir for 1 minute.

Add in the mince and allow it to brown.

Place the rice into the pan and coat it in the oil and spices.

Carefully pour the broth in and season.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once cooked allow to stand for a further 15 minutes.

In this time add yoghurt, broth and garlic in a bowl. Mix and set aside.

Place chicken in a pan and reheat quickly with parsley.

Melt butter in the pan. Cook almonds for a few minutes. Add pine nuts and cook until all golden brown.

Assemble rice on a large platter. Place chicken on top.

Then the nuts and melted butter.

Parsley and coriander.

Finally organically throw your pomegranate jewels on top.

Serve with yoghurt drizzled on top and on the side with Lebanese bread.

Enjoy.

Jennifer X

Have you thought of everything when preparing for baby?!

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant with our fifth child! It’s all getting so close now. It’s all so exciting… the kids are buzzing, heck mum and dad are buzzing. I’ve finally set up my birthing area and it feels quiet and cosy. I have my diffuser with oils, candles, towels, soft mats and Bible Verses scattered around my room to provide me with the assurance I need. I look at my birthing space multiple times a day and know soon I will be there. I picture myself in that little area. I can see me breathing through each surge- preparing to welcome our baby. 

I find the more times I prepare for the arrival of each of our children the more prep I do. I add another idea, something to make our lives easier or healthier or manageable. Just little things to keep our family strong while we are in that little newborn bubble of love. And let’s face it. We are a large family. These little tricks done early enough bring about the peace and quiet time I cannot wait for. A time where we just be together, not doing, just being. No distractions, slowing down.

So here it is, my list of ideas provided you’ve already got all the baby essentials and your hospital bag packed. (See here for my baby essential ideas).

The month or two before bub arrives I make litres and litres of broth and chicken stock (if I’m in a hurry). I then create soups, stews, bolognese And lasagnas out of the rich nutritious broth! We pack all these into the freezer in containers. And it lasts us months! Mama gets a break and daddy has the pressure taken off him also. 

I will say here, be kind to yourself and pick recipes (because you are heavily pregnant) that is slow cooker friendly or where you can leave it simmering without watching over it! Summer babies are a little easier with food preparation. We had plenty or fresh salads and BBQS!

So, you’re food is sorted. Let me ask you, when was the last time you changed your bedding? Technically we should be doing it once every two weeks. And we certainly try to. HOWEVER, right about now is a good time to strip the beds and wash them. You want to do this one or two weeks before baby is born. 

Try your best to use low to no toxins in your wash. It can be incredibly harmful for you and your children’s skin. Pick a sunny day to dry them out on the line if you can. Sunshine is a natural steriliser. It kills germs. When you make your new baby’s bassinet/cot up with bedding, don’t make it too early. It becomes a dust catcher. You will know when it’s a good time, do so and then cover it with another sheet. That way the sheet catches the dust and you can wash that easily, not worrying about setting up the bed all over again…. I know, you’re welcome 😉 

I’ve linked the wash I use here. (Check out my gorgeous friends Essential Oil page. Well worth it!). 

My friend, if I can make time to make this simple, pure, clean wash then I know you can. Try it out!

HOLD ON!!!! Before washing those extra clean, soft sheets you need to do something hardly anyone I know does! Clean you washing machine and dryer! Look at your user manual… get it out and read about how to clean these machines. If not, call the manufacturer and ask them to email you a copy. It’s worth it. As for the barrel and where you place your washing detergent this is how I like to clean it. 

  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons of bicarbonate Soda
  • 6-10 drops of lemon essential oil 

Then put a small amount of this recipe into where you place the detergent and fabric softener. 

Click the self clean cycle, or your longest cycle. I like to have my water nice and hot also! Easy peasy! Don’t forget to drain out your pipes to clean out that dirty water also. All this takes us 5 minutes! Then we come back 2 hours later to a sparkling and fresh smelling washing machine. 

Ok, we’ve washed the sheets. CHECK. Made the fresh beds up (who am I kidding, I can’t do anything at this stage in pregnancy when it comes to manual labour. Find someone to help you! James makes the beds in our house.) 

We also use these last few weeks to get a check up at the Drs. The whole family goes. We don’t want to pass any little germs onto baby. They go through enough with labour. It’s their time to get strong and chub up!

Besides the food, bedding and doctors we buy those yummy little chocolate worming tablets…. um, no, I’m happy to report we’ve actually never had worms (maybe it’s the homeschoolers environment, not surrounded by tonnes of kids. Ha) but we try to remember to do this at least twice a year. And also one week before baby is born. 

Tick!! That’s another strange thing we do that not many people think about. 

If you have other siblings for baby, think about what you would like them to wear for those first precious photos. Have a place where they are packed away and ready for daddy to dress the kids. That way there’s no confusion and you’re not bombarded with questions right after birth like ‘what do I put the kids in? Is it warm enough? Where’s such and such’s pants?

It’s a good idea to show the kids what they will be wearing too. So they are on board and there’s no tantrums etc. 

We also disinfect everything. I make a simple spray using EDENS GARDEN Guardian and Fighting Five. I also have a spray to cleanse the rooms where I just buy it. I don’t make this one myself. Click here

Have all your vitamins and healthy kits ready to go for when bub arrives. So everyone is building up a strong immunity. We are about to purchase our very first homeopath kit. I’m so excited! And begin to make incredible Elderberry Syrup. I’ll add my recipe to the blog in the next few weeks! I promise it will be easy. 

Now let’s talk mama to be. What will help you most to be ready to endure labour? Exercise, plenty of water, meditation, reading? All these things I believe are vital! Do them! And do them as often as you can.

I’ve been meditating on God’s promises to me through His word. This is strengthening my mind for the road ahead. Drinking lots of water and Red Raspberry Leaf Tea! Giving my body the energy stores it needs. Taking the right tablets for my body, trying to sleep (damn insomnia) and one week before baby girl is due I have my hair booked in, mani, pedi and a lash treatment! (I know!!! I won it with the best in the biz. Genesis of Nellie and Ellie! I keep saying this will be my most glamorous labour haha). But seriously, be ready the way you want and need to be. Talk to your partner about what you need and how he can support you best. Talk about your birth plan and how you would like it to go. They are your biggest support. After all, you are carrying their child 😉 

Talk often as a family and pray together about your life and the new baby. Chat to your children about what you expect from each of them. According to their age and what they can manage. At the moment Noah has the idea baby will be sleeping in his room (at 3am I will be wishing ha ha) and Scarlet thinks she will be wearing her all day when she is playing and schooling. Aquila acts out where she will sit on my bed to rock the bassinet! It’s all soooooo cute! And I adore them with all my heart for thinking like this- and they can do some of those things. Just not to the full extent. Welcome it, explain how important they are in this family and how much you appreciate their help daily and even more once baby arrives. But also remind them, they too are your babies and you love them just as much and want to dote on them also! Allow for those moments too… probably when baby is sleeping!

And that’s it from me… for now! Just a few little extra things you can do to prepare and to be the best for your family. You can feel ready for baby to grow and thrive. 

I would love to know if there is anything out of the box you do to prepare for a new baby? Something no one ever talks or thinks about! 

Here’s to preparing your home now to reap the rewards later. Breath, and be in the moment. In the present, with your whole family.

Jennifer X

Breakfast Popsicles

Entertaining for Breakfast doesn’t have to be a stressful event. In fact it is probably the best time to entertain. You’ve got the most energy of the day, it doesn’t take all day to prepare and guests don’t stay on until all hours of the night. Speaking honestly here, what sells it for me is it’s probably the most cost effective meal to entertain.

If you follow my little blog or instagram you’ll probably know just how often I say that the key to a relaxed, happy hosting experience is to prepare beforehand. I like to think outside the box for breakfasts. Things that aren’t your usual ‘bacon and eggs’ or croissants… oh wait, let’s be real here! Nothing beats a fresh baked croissant. But if you want your guests to feel totally spoilt think of a few easy things that will work together. An easy example is my cute little menu this morning as we entertained 6 adults and 8 children.

It looked like this:

Breakfast popsicles

Breakfast grazing board

Israeli Shashuka served with fresh sourdough.

Drinks:

Champagne and fresh Orange Juice

Passion fruit Kombucha

Cold Drip

Really friends it was so simple to do. Once we put the kids to bed last night we set the table, I cooked up the shashuka to a point where I know the next day all I had to do was fry the eggs in the delicious mixture. As for a grazing board… I’m sure most of you have made them in your time. But this was really fun. Hop onto Pinterest and literally type the words in. You’ll be met with a wealth of ideas to create your own style. Finally I wanted to have something ready for upon arrival. Something that took a few seconds to put together and gave a wow factor. And here the recipe (embarrassingly) is!!

Ingredients:

500g organic plain coconut yoghurt (or any type you like)

Slices of fresh figs.

1/3 cup Organic honey

1/3 cup Organic granola or muesli

Popsicle moulds

Keep fresh fig slices aside. Mix other ingredients.

Place a fig gently into the mould. Build the mixture around it, place one more sliced fig into the mould. Completely fill mixture to the top.

Freeze.

Serve on a platter of your choice with scattered nuts and a drizzle of honey.

Come on! You can’t possibly go wrong here.

Enjoy.

Jennifer X

The Best Lasagna You Will Ever Make!

Boy oh boy I sure do love a good lasagna. the classic beef, chicken, vegetarian and one of the most decadent to date was Jamie Oliver’s Duck Lasagna! It was everything warming, silky smooth and the flavours were off the charts good. BUT it takes 4 hours to make! Something I’ve made only twice as a special celabratory meal. In 2010 I had the brilliant opportunity to travel through Italy with my girlfriend. We ate our way around the country for 3 weeks. And my goodness we came rolling home a little wiser on the culinary delights of Italian cooking. So I started cooking the Romans famously known lasagna, however I was still adding the classic Aussie beef. Fast forward a few years later and I met James, he was working with a lovely Italian lady. She invited us over for a party and naturally served us huge lasagna’s. They tasted just like the ones back in Tuscany. Light and delicate. How is a good lasagna supposed to look on a plate? Actually like a hot mess! Not thick and clumpy, not hard. Oozy and once it hits your mouth it’s almost as if you don’t need to even chew. Different parts of Italy make lasagna slightly differently. But in my humble opinion the way I’ve perfected mine is the best (like most nonnas ha!).
If you want the best lasagna you need to make your own lasagna sheets. Now, please don’t be scared! We’ve shown quite a few people how to make pasta now and they are surprised at how simple it really is!

So folks, this is as authentic as an Italian Lasagna can get (except I’m a mother so I add as many vegetables as possible and broth…. I love watching my children chow down on veggies they normally don’t eat).

Ingredients:

  • 800g grass fed, free range any red mince meat. Pork, Veal.
  • 800g grass fed, free range beef mince.
  • 5 Garlic cloves. (only buy fresh garlic thats Australian grown. Why? (Click here and see why…)
  • 2 onions.
  • 2 carrots.
  • 2 zucchini’s.
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • (Now add anything else that might be about to turn or you’ve been dying to feed your kids… eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms etc)
  • 4 cans of Italian crushed Tomatoes (buy the ones from Italy)
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine
  • 2 Tbsp of dried Italian herbs
  • 2 cups of my housemade broth
  • A generous handful of fresh herbs;
    • Basil, Thyme, Rosemary
  • ALTERNATIVELY: If you can’t find any of these fresh herbs or they aren’t in season and a little pricey, you can use your oils.
    • 2 drops of Oregano
    • 2 drops of Basil
    • 2-3 drops of Rosemary
  • 150g Pitted Olives
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Blitz the veggies to almost a pulp except the onion.
  3. Dice the onions.
  4. Add a tablespoon of butter and Olive Oil to a large saucepan. Allow to melt.
  5. Add Onions and cook until transparent. 
  6. Add the crushed garlic, cook for 2 minutes. 
  7. Add the blitzed up veggies and cook until darkened in colour.
  8. Place the meat into the saucepan. Allow to brown. 
  9. Now add the tins of Italian Tomatoes, Broth, Red wine, Fresh Herbs, Dried herbs, Olives and the juice if you are using them. 
  10. Bring to the boil.
  11. Season well.
  12. Bring it back, cover and simmer for 3 hour hours.
  13. Once cooled add a little more fresh herbs so keep it vibrant in colours. 
  14. This is now ready to use for Bolognese or Lasagna. It makes a huge quantity for the freezer.
  15. Bechamél Sauce is the easiest thing in the world to make. Really you can find any easy recipe anywhere. James is a wizz at making the stuff. He says the perfect amount of nutmeg makes for a brilliant lasagna!
  16. To layer the lasagna use any size tray, we like to use lots of the disposable foil trays so it’s portioned perfectly and an easy pre made meal for those who are in need! No washing up necessary. 
  17. What you want to do is begin with a layer of meat sauce, pasta sheet, Béchamel and a good grating of cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano. Layer 3 times and top with the cheeses.
  18. Cook until golden and bubbly on the outside.

* note: this will make you multiple lasagnas. They freeze brilliantly for someone in need of for those busy sports evenings 😉

Jennifer X

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