DESTINATIONS: Hat Head Happiness

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When my girls were toddlers, we would often take a holiday during the month of March to a wonderful place called Hat Head on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. I love the simplicity of this place; surrounded by National Park, it has stayed pretty much untouched by tourism and the busyness of many coastal holiday destinations.

I remember floating on our boards down the creek when the tide was running out, jumping over the crystal clear waves on the beach and taking walks across the bridge as the sun would set in the west.

Many other events took place and it was only in 2015 at the end of my husband’s employment with his company, we decided to take a trip back to where we had formed beautiful memories with our family before starting our new ‘work’ adventure.

Hat Head is the place to go when you just want to chill out, rest your soul and dream of possibilities. And going out of school holidays is the real secret. The noise levels are lower and the crowds are few. Taking a walk along the beach, you can find yourself alone and feeling like you are far away from civilization..well until a 4WD comes hooting by!

But what has made these annual holidays so restful has been organizing our meals beforehand and packaging them in microwave proof containers so that all you need to do each night is heat them up. Now that may sound extreme, but actually, it’s smart. If you are conscious of eating wholesome food with the occasional takeaway because you are on holidays, well this is the way to go.

So, weeks earlier, I would cook our meals and cater for 4 servings. We would eat our dinner that night and package the remaining food in the containers and put them in the freezer. I continued this practice for a few days and before I knew it, my freezer was filled with enough food to take away with us – and all I needed to do each night was cut a salad! Now that’s what I call a restful holiday.

Come on, let’s be real here – who wants to cook while they are on holidays? Umm…well actually I do remember cooking while on holidays in Greece and loving it..but that was because I had to get my hands on that Greek freshness and create a meal of deliciousness!! And we always rented an apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen! Unfortunately, the cabins we stay in at the caravan park have limited resources in their kitchen so it does not make it a pleasant experience if wanting to cook up a storm!

Anyway, here is a favourite recipe of mine that works very well as a freshly cooked frozen meal ready to use while on holidays!

Chicken & Chorizo Paella

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 chorizo sausages

500g chicken thigh fillet, sliced in 3 cm strips

1 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 red capsicum, diced

½ cup diced yellow capsicum

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 ½ cups rice

400g diced Italian tomatoes

¼ cup fresh herbs, roughly chopped

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup frozen peas

Salt & pepper, to taste

100g feta, crumbled

fresh herbs, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in paella dish or large frying pan. Add chorizo and lightly fry for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. When cool, slice into 1cm thick discs.
  1. In same dish, add remaining oil. On medium heat, add chicken and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook and stir for a few minutes or until just soft. Add spices, rice, tomatoes, herbs and stock, stirring to combine. Bring to boil before reducing to low heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender.
  1. Remove lid and add peas and chorizo and mix through. Cook for a further 3 – 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with feta and garnish with fresh herbs.