Zoë’s Kitchen

Smoothie Review

I learnt to cook by following recipes to the T. If I was missing even one ingredient, I would ditch it and find an alternate. Now, I am comfortable switching up ingredients and adapting recipes based on what I have on hand and how I want it to taste. It rarely turns out wrong anymore.

For some reason, when it comes to smoothies, I haven’t ever followed this process. I throw everything in the blender, hit the highest blend button possible and drink whatever comes out.

This morning, my oldest daughter, said she was swearing off my smoothies “because they all taste the same”. I have to confess she’s right. They all look the same too, a muddy, blah colour.

So I’m off to find a recipe and I’m going to learn how to make some yummy – but most importantly – different smoothies.

Watch this space!


Fruit Strike

My 5 year old has taken a turn against fruits and vegetables. Vegetables, yes. That’s been going on a while. But fruits?? Seriously? This was the girl that could eat fruit from morning to night and she’s adamant she won’t eat any. Except those that come in a squeegee packet or an applesauce container.

Thankfully the local farmers market kicks off this weekend so I hope I can take her there and tempt her with some fruit.

In the meantime, it was time for a Zoe’s Kitchen blog. She requested alphabet pasta (to be fair, she’s been asking for the last 3 days but I keep forgetting). So she was pretty happy to hear it was on the menu tonight. Together we made a chicken soup. It was tasty and she actually ate it, although I did end up blending it because she was picking out the vegetables. I tell her I’m going to strain it but I blend it in the Magic Bullet while she’s not looking. That trick has been working for years.  And as long as I have a separate dining room and kitchen, I don’t see why it shouldn’t continue.

She watched me cut up the chicken to make the stock and declared she wouldn’t eat any of the meat. She didn’t. Then she watched as I cut up the vegetables for the soup and declared them “gross”. I think they look pretty.


Anyway, it’s enough to make you run for the nearest package of something she will eat but I’m more stubborn than she is so I push on.

She heats the pan, adds the onion, the leeks and the garlic. Good enough. She freaks when she needs to put the carrots and mushrooms in. It goes in anyway. Then the stock and she calms down as she can’t see the veggies as much. Once it was boiling, she added the good stuff – alphabet pasta. Some seasoning and few minutes while it cooked and then she was ready to dig through the soup looking to spell her name.

It’s a tough gig but it usually works out in the end. And by the way, the soup was yummy! Recipe below.

Chicken and Mushroom Soup

 Chicken and Mushroom Soup

5 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced

2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup small alphabet pasta

Heat oil in a soup pan and add onion. Cook until transparent, then add leeks and garlic. Stirring, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until vegetables have softened and reduced slightly.

Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add pasta, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer until pasta is cooked.



Zoë’s Kitchen – Fajitas

Eating as a family has been studied and proved to increase children’s vocabulary, concentration and behaviour. It’s also a great form of downtime where everybody can enjoy each other’s company and feel connected.

Even though we eat dinner every night together, engaging the kids in their meal can sometimes be a challenge. So building their own food gives even the Zoë’s Kitchen concept a further step forward.

Fajitas are always a favourite with kids. Simple to prep, they do the legwork at the table and keeping them occupied cuts down on the whining that often comes with dinner.

Whether it was the autonomy or the recipe, I don’t know. But I’m not sure I care too much. This dinner was a hit!

Chicken Fajitas

Zoe's Kitchen - Fajitas

4 large tortillas
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp each of: sea salt, cumin, chili pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
Sliced peppers, red, orange or green
1/2 can black beans dressed with vinaigrette
Mixed greens
Sour cream

Marinade chicken strips in onion, oil, lime juice, spices and cilantro.

In a skillet, sauté chicken and onions until cooked, 5-10 minutes. Warm tortillas in skillet (keep the chicken warm) or in an oven. Prepare toppings in individual bowls.

Fill each tortillas as desired. Roll up and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog

A Day For Hot Chocolate

It’s been another day good for being outside. During the holidays, that calls for some hot chocolate. But you don’t need to buy a chemical concoction or a calorie laden version from a coffee shop, it’s easy to make at home.

For each cup you want to make, mix 1 tbsp cocoa powder with 2 tbsp sugar and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix in a tbsp or two of milk to create a paste.

Bring 1 cup of organic milk to a gentle simmer and add the chocolate mixture. Using a whisk, keep stirring until it’s all dissolved. Add a 1/4 tsp per cup of vanilla extract and pour into serving cups.

The protein in the milk provides all you need to use this as a satisfying mid-meal snack.

Zoë’s Kitchen – Fruit Bottomed Yogurt

Zoë loves yogurt. The sweeter it is, the fruitier the bottom, the better. Don’t even think about mixing it.

Sure, she’s 5 but do any of us actually grow out of that?

Since school started, she loves her little tubs of yogurt in her lunch, it’s all part of the appeal. But I struggle to find something I am happy with her eating on a regular basis and usually end up with the expensive organic vanilla pots.

So I bought her some stainless steel containers, the same size as a yogurt pot, and started making my own. From a container of 2% plain organic yogurt, I mix a few spoonfuls with honey and a sprinkling of flaxseed. Not too much as it coagulates over time. I add some applesauce, raspberries, sliced banana or chopped pear to the bottom of the container and add the sweetened yogurt over the top. Occasionally, I will buy the vanilla flavoured greek yogurt – she goes crazy for that but I don’t recommend it for adults on a weight loss mission. It’s very high in fat and way too delicious to keep for more than 1/2 hour in your fridge!

I wish I’d taken a photo as I was doing this because this doesn’t look super appetizing but trust me, it is. And easy to do too. For anybody.


Zoë’s Kitchen – Caprese Salad


Zoë, being 5, isn’t a salad’s biggest fan. But she will do quite a lot for a piece of cheese. Especially a creamy mild mozzarella, like Bufula Mozzarrella. Willing to experiment with tomato and basil, I introduced her to the concept of a caprese salad.

She was all over it. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes or so for her to make it which suited her attention span perfectly. She proudly presented it at dinner with the correct name and told her father she made it all herself. Which, aside from me slicing the cheese and tomatoes, she did under my instruction.

It was such a simple dish using the best tomatoes of the year, homegrown ones and it created many smiles that night.

I’m not sure it warrants a recipe, it’s so simple. We used a tub of fresh buffalo mozzarella, a beefsteak tomato from the garden, some torn basil leaves from our herb box, salt, pepper and a good quality olive oil. The post from July 14th (The Truth Behind Olive Oil) can give you more information on finding a good quality oil.

After slicing the cheese and tomato, Zoë arranged them in an overlapping pattern on the plate. She then tore some fresh basil leaves and sprinkled them over top. Some seasoning with sprinkled sea salt and ground fresh pepper, she then carefully drizzed the olive oil over the entire plate.

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Zoë’s Kitchen – Smoked Salmon Fettuccine

I could have guessed it would be pasta but at least the sauce is a new idea by Zoë. Smoked salmon isn’t something I buy a lot since it’s so high in sodium but I wanted to fulfill Zoë’s request and I just didn’t add salt to the sauce.

Here’s what we did:

Smoked Salmon Fettuccine

Zoe cooking salmon pasta

6oz fresh or homemade fettuccine
2/3 cup fresh peas

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp zest
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small package wild sockeye smoked salmon
1 tbsp fresh dill

Cook the fettuccine in fast-boiling salted water for 5 minutes or according to package directions. For the last 2 minutes, add the peas.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, add pine nuts and cook over medium heat until lightly browned and toasted. Remove immediately and set aside.

Add 2 tbsps of preferred cooking oil (I like 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp grapeseed oil) to the skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of white wine, lemon juice and zest and cook to partially evaporate. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Set aside.

Chop the smoked salmon into small pieces and finely chop the dill.

When the pasta is ready, drain (reserving about a 1/2 cup pasta water in case extra liquid is needed) and toss all ingredients together until combined and warmed through.

Serve immediately.