Each weekly menu plan is different in our home. I try to be organized as much as possible, prepping on the weekends, shopping every 3 days, so ingredients are fresh but sometimes the weekend is full of friends and drinks, and so creativity and spontaneous menu planning can often occur. There are a few go-to meals that are often on the menu in our home. We love frittata and the ingredients used change every week, dependent on what we have or don't have in the fridge. Sometimes it's halloumi cheese as the topping (cause we have it) other times its cheddar, feta or even brie. We are frittata crazy, plus I love that Ryan can make this one on his own, yippee!
This week on one of my crazy unplanned meal nights I used up random ingredients left in the fridge to create something truly beautiful, a warm salad.
It was a winner, so quick and easy to make and so delicious, which is why I want to share it!
Pumpkin, chorizo & chickpea warm salad
I used half of a whole small pumpkin
Roast pumpkin, skin left on (I used Jap pumpkin because that's what was in the fridge but butternut would be awesome too)
1 can chickpeas
2 stalks of rosemary finely chopped
2 cups baby spinach
Homemade croutons (Use old crusty bread, wholemeal or sourdough is perfect option, tear into small chunks and pan fry in olive oil and salt till light brown)
1 garlic clove
2 chorizo sausages
Preheat the oven first to 180 degrees. Chop pumpkin into chunks (your preference) and place onto a tray already covered in olive oil and salt then sprinkle chopped rosemary over the top. Give the pumpkin a good toss in the oil, salt and rosemary. Bake the pumpkin in the oven for 30 minutes or until browned slightly and cooked through (try not to overcook and make the pumpkin mushy). Cook the croutons in the pan; I used a clove of garlic to give the croutons some extra punch. Allow cooling once fried. Start to cook the chorizo sausages in the pan straight after. Add baby spinach, chickpeas, croutons to a salad bowl. Once the sausages and pumpkin are cooked, add them into the salad and mix it all up. My salad was warm when I served it and it was perfect. I had it again the next day at work cold and still awesome, so you could make it in advance and have it cold. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!
I think the title gives it away but I'll type it again just for fun, I'm getting married!! Yipppeeeee
Little did I know that Ryan was planning on popping the question on our Japanese adventure. (I literally did not see it coming) Friends and family thought it was coming, we have been together coming up to 5 years now, live together and of course I love him to bits, still I was genuinely so surprised when he told me to shut my eyes and when I opened them he was down on one knee. So I have so much more to tell you about Japan, now that my exciting news is out there- here are some of the details you must know about the snow.
1. Make sure there is snow! The first day we arrived, looked around the small cute village, umm where's the snow?? Luckily the mountains were covered in the stuff, so we could still ski, it just meant there was no beginner slopes open down the bottom (lucky me, not). My confidence had to improve rather quickly, with intimidate runs, advance and expert being the only options. The last 2 days of skiing were amazing the snow had started Christmas Eve so by boxing day the village, the trees and cars were all covered with the stuff, making everything around look magical.
2. The transport to get there is synch! You can buy the unlimited rail pass-which I mentioned in my last post is great; gets you around most places with that. Another option is to just buy a single or return train ticket on the day depending on your plans. It's a good idea to reserve the seats a few days in advance- not wing it like us on New Years Eve and try and get back to Tokyo (that was a mission). From Tokyo it is about 1h40m to get to Nagano station. You can stop here have lunch, walk around, shop, there's things to do and see, or just jump straight on a bus to head to the slopes. The busses here go to quite a few different ski areas in the region, and most run on the hour. Hakuba covers a large area of mountains and village at the snow, so make sure you know what spot yours is, so you get the right bus. Our stop was the last at Happo bus terminal, right near the Happo gondola and ski slopes. This was an additional hour from the station. Once we arrived in Happo Hakuba we were a 5 minute walk from the bus terminal, at Hakuba Springs Hotel. So within 3 hours we were in the snow and ready for some action.
3. Pre-book your restaurants once you get there or even before you arrive! There is so much information online that you can plan ahead. This time I didn't because I didn't know what to expect, which meant we had to book things last minute, so we missed out on a couple of hot spots in the area. Although every place we ate at was excellent too, Japan really does food so well. Recommendations include: Mimi's and Sharaku
4. Rent ski gear-depending on how much of an avid skier or snowboarder you are will affect your choice but the equipment including googles, jackets, boots etc, were really reasonably priced in the area. We thought it would be extortionate like places in Australia are for skiing, so we brought jackets, pants, boots etc, but we really didn't have to. You can travel so much lighter if you don't, which is awesome if you are moving around different parts of Japan.
5. Get your partner to ask you to marry them!! It truly was such a special occasion, like everybody says. Wherever you get engaged is going to be special and I love that mine was on Christmas morning, with the snow finally starting to fall outside, still in my pyjamas, just the two of us :) I am one lucky girl taking my sparkly snowflake with me on my finger forever.
Where do I start, umm, well.. let me tell you, that JAPAN is absolutely amazing! FOOD, people, shopping, transport, mountains, wildlife, scenery, buildings, colours and language are just mind blowing. It was an unforgettable trip, and I'm not just saying it because I got engaged!!! Ekkk
So, I am going to start with Tokyo the largest city in the world full of madness and so much excitement, not smiling isn't an option! We landed bright and early from a night flight in Tokyo Haneda airport at about 8am Saturday morning. My first completely Japanese experience happened in the bathroom, where I was greeted with a warm seat for my tush, harmonious music to tune out any unfortunate bathroom noises and a ridiculous amount of buttons to play with. Flush was the last one I was going to use, before wash, blow dry, heat- I think the only button missing was vibrate :)
Our next adventure was to make it to bustling Shibuya, which we thought would be easy ( I liked our confidence, you need it there). The train system is frightening when first given the map and told your stop is somewhere in the middle, with 20 different coloured lines running in different directions, I was wondering if we could just get a taxi!? DON"T!!! It is all apart of the experience + taxi's unlike other Asian cities, taxi's are extremely expensive, comparative to US, UK or AUS prices.
Standing at the airport train station, with mount Fuji visible form the window was the first of many breath taking moments on the trip! Nature just takes my breath away. Seeing as everything was in Japanese we thought we would ask around for anybody that speaks English??? (Not many people do, but they will still help) This kind elderly man (who spoke next to no English) said he knew where we wanted to go and would show us. (Now imagine, you're in Sydney, London, or New York city and you are trusting a complete stranger with 0 English to guide you half way across the city-shall we go for it?) Well, there wasn't many other options, so we followed the kind man onto the next train and onto our exciting adventure!
After this kind soul had taken us onto the right coloured train line to get to our stop (given us the number of stops till our destination) he thought we would be ok to continue the rest on our own. Glad he trusted us too! :) We arrived in Shibuya before lunch and made our way straight to the AirBnB apartment we had booked in advance, it was such a lucky find. The inside of the apartment was nothing to rave about, but the location was close to the best restaurants, shops, night clubs, bars, coffee stops and train station -so we were over the moon. We dumped our bags, put a couple more layers on (because it was freezing) and set out for food!!!
The apartment owner suggested a local ramen place, and we were in! We made our way down the streets, till we found the hidden gem and stepped inside a tiny room seated with about 12 spots for the lucky people that were able to snag one. As we walked in we were greeted by every staff member in the room with a shout いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) it means 'welcome'. Almost every Japanese restaurant does this, I loved this! You pay before you eat, and you order and buy your meal through a vending machine at the entrance; this was a completely new experience. We, being tourists had no idea and needed a little assistance from our new other non-English speaking friend. He gave us a dummies menu in English with some basic words and pictures. As soon as we saw a picture with noodles, we knew that was the one. This was the first of many warming ramen dishes, which should be an essential on a winter Japan trip. Soy sauce ramen soup was my favourite, but salt ramen was also delicious, just a stronger flavour. If it is your first time trying ramen, go for soy sauce, our western taste buds seem to fancy it more.
My life really does revolve around food! I love learning about produce, reading new recipes, trying to create my own. Here are some of my food, travel and creative journeys, I hope you find them interesting or just delicious!