Monday, July 6, 2015

Guy Grossi’s Mammas "Tweaked" Classic Italian Lasagne

Well my mam brought me a new lasagne dish as she knew that I had sadly broken my extra-large good ol’ favourite one that I had used for many years. Needless to say my first night home cooking after a massive week away and it only seemed sensible to make a lasagne… not just our normal lasagne but I thought I would try one of Melbourne’s famous chef’s recipes. Guy Grossi, is a leading Australian chef, presenter and media personality. He owns and is head chef of 3 restaurants here in Melbourne - Grossi Florentino, Grossi Trattoria and Merchant Osteria Veneta.

Guy Grossi shared his mum's recipe for a classic Italian lasagne on SBS Food Safari, which is where I happily found the recipe. The aromas coming from the kitchen during the preparation of the Sugo Bolognese and then the cooking in the oven were just amazing – the fresh herbs filling the air and tantalising ones senses made cooking this recipe a simple pleasure.  Obviously I tweaked the recipe a little to lower the fat content and make it a little more waist friendly without changing the flavours or the recipe too much.

Once cooked the flavours made my taste buds dance, enjoying every mouthful. With layers of fresh pasta, bolognese and bechamel sauce, it was definitely a hit around our table and makes it's no wonder diners in his Melbourne restaurants keep coming back for flavours like this!


Guy Grossi’s Mammas "Tweaked" Classic Italian Lasagne
(Recipe adapted from Food Safari)

Serves: 10
ProPoints per serve: 14

Sugo Bolognese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
4 cloves, ground
a little freshly grated nutmeg
800 grams minced beef
100 grams minced pork
100 grams minced chicken
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
handful of basil leaves, crushed to a paste with a little olive oil
200 grams tomato paste
200 mls red wine
2 litres chicken or veal stock, or water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, finely grated
3 zucchinis, finely grated

Besciamella (béchamel sauce)
80 grams Weight Watchers Canola Spread
80 grams plain flour
1 litre skim milk
½ small onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 clove
a little freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt
ground white pepper

500 grams fresh lasagne sheets for 6 or more layers
250 grams parmigiano reggiano, grated

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, chilli, ground cloves and nutmeg for 4-5 minutes, until soft and lightly caramelized.

Add the meat and continue to cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the herbs, including the basil paste, and continue to stir until the meat is well browned and broken up finely (about another 5 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Pour in the wine and boil to reduce by half.

Add the stock or water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if required.  Add carrots and zucchini.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-4 minutes, taking care not to let the paste colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the milk, onion, bay leaf, clove and nutmeg in another saucepan and heat gently until simmering. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.

Strain the warm milk onto the cooled paste and whisk together. Bring to the boil, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Ladle a small amount of sugo into a large baking dish and cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Ladle more sugo over the sheets and drizzle over some besciamella, then sprinkle some of the grated parmigiano reggiano. Continue to layer in this way until you reach the top of the dish (aim for at least 6 layers of lasagne). Add the grated cheese every second layer. Finish with a layer of cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through and cheese is golden.

Serve with a little extra sugo and more parmigiano reggiano if desired.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Beijing Beef

Everyone who knows me will tell you I am definitely addicted to trying new recipes - especially those that are not known down here in Australia.  I have fallen in love with a food web site, Rasa Malaysia, which has given me some inspiration of late to get back into the kitchen and cook new meals, instead of the same good ol' favourites we love.

There are so many taste tantalizing recipes within the site and Bee, the site's author continues to do an amazing job.  We have already sampled a few and one of our new favourites is Sweet and Sour Pork, it was incredible and has been made several times.  This dish, Beijing Beef, was of an equally high standard.

I am not familiar with the origin of this recipe as it's claimed to be a Panda Express Copycat recipe.  Googling I have found that Panda Express is one of America's largest chain of Chinese takeaway stores, starting with their first store in California opening in 1970 they are now branching out to other countries worldwide including the Middle East - not here in Australia yet but I am guessing we'll just give them some time.

We all loved the dish - the flavours were great and the beef was nice and tender. A little spicy and a little sweet the flavour zinged while eating leaving the taste buds craving more and more.  There are a few elements in this dish but to be honest it's well worth the effort.  Like the Sweet and Sour Pork, this dish now gets cooked on a regular basis.


   Beijing Beef
(recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 11

500 grams steak, rump, porterhouse or skirt, cut against the grain into 1/4 inch slices
4 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onions, sliced
1 medium-sized red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cornflour, to dust beef for deep-frying
Salt and sugar to taste

Marinade:
2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Beijing Sauce:
8 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
6 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1-2 teaspoons crushed chili peppers (taste dependent)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare the Marinade in a bowl and mix well. Marinate the beef for 15 minutes.

In a seperate bowl, mix all the Beijing Sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Place cornflour in a bag/bowl. Toss marinated beef in cornflour, coat well and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat up enough oil over high heat. Coat beef slices with cornflour again, making sure the beef slices are well coated. Shake off the excess cornflour from beef slices. Prepare to deep-fry beef (in small batches). Drop in the beef slices and deep-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden brown. Dish out, drained on paper towel and set aside.

In a wok, heat up the oil over high heat. Stir-fry the onion and bell pepper until fragrant and slightly charred, add in the garlic and continue to stir-fry for 10 seconds. Remove from wok.

Heat up wok over medium-high heat, pour in the Beijing Sauce seasoning. Bring it to a simmer or until it thickens. You may adjust salt, soy sauce, water, etc., to taste.

Toss in the deep-fried beef and stir-fried onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir well for 1 minute or until the beef is completely cooked and the sauce is absorbed.

Dish out and serve with hot steamed rice (add an additional 3ppts per 1/2 cup).



(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pies with Prosciutto and Vegetables

With the colder evenings approaching nothing beats this particular comfort food... Pot Pies. We are huge fans of them and we love trying different flavour combinations.  While a beautiful thick gravy tender meat pie is a perfect winter treat nothing, absolutely nothing, can overshadow this Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pie with Prosciutto and Vegetables.

Not made using the usual white sauce base this sauce consists of chicken stock, white wine, cream cheese and mustard all laced with fresh thyme.  Taste buds dancing from the first mouthful that's for sure.

These are quite a large serve so you could easily stretch the recipe to make 12 - 16 smaller pies if you preferred.  Freezable, once cooked and cooled, these also make a perfect quick dinner for those nights when we are time poor (for us... most nights LOL).


Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pies with Prosciutto and Vegetables

Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 14

cooking spray
800 grams chicken breast, skin and fat removed, diced
100 grams prosciutto, all visible fat removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch fresh thyme leaves, stalk removed
3 tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons water
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
250 grams reduced fat cream cheese
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups mixed frozen carrots, peas and corn
4 sheets reduced fat puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat, in batches, until browned.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add the prosciutto to the same pan and fry stirring for 2 - 3 minutes or until starting to brown.  Set aside with the chicken.

Add the oil to the same pan add leeks and thyme.  Cook over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 - 8 minutes or until leek is golden and soft. 

Meanwhile mix the cornflour and water together in a large jug, ensuring it's completely blended.  Add chicken stock, wine and mustard, mixing well.  Place in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat.  When heated through add the cream cheese, stirring, until completely blended. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken and prosciutto to the leek mixture.  Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour sauce mixture over chicken and mix well.  Remove from heat.

Prepare ramekins or pie dishes.  Spoon mixture dividing evenly between each dish.

Cut pastry in half and place on top of each dish.  Spray with cooking spray and place in oven.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and crispy and chicken is warmed through.






Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash

With our long weekend finishing yesterday - sadly it was back to work for me. Noel on the other hand had another day off with him taking one of his RDO's (Rostered Day Off). I have to officially say that I hate, absolutely HATE, going to work when he is lying in bed and I have to leave, a quick kiss goodbye then it's out the door.

As most of you know, I am an avid menu planner - avid I say - control freak Noel would say. But working full time (both of us) it's been a necessity for the past 20 odd year especially with having the two kids. I sit down normally on a Thursday evening and plan both the menu for the next week along with the shopping list.  I write the cookbook and page number next to the meal so realistically I remember where the recipe to follow is so we are super organised when it comes to cooking dinners nightly.

Needless to say, today Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash was on the menu along with a committee meeting for the local Junior Football Club that we are involved in - meaning a HUGE evening of kitchen work and then the meeting. 
 
Thankfully, Mr Murray stepped up to the mark and made the Cottage Pie for tonight's dinner.  OMG the relief and the appreciation..... 
 
This cottage pie was a quite different to my normal gravy based minced and vegetable combination.  The meat mixture was of a tomato base but still jam packed with vegetables which I love - "sneaky vegies" are my favourite vegetables.  Now the topping.... where do I start.  I thought it was brilliant - not stodgy and heavy like a normal full potato mash.  The cauliflower made it so light and the was no overpowering cauliflower flavour. 

 
Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash
(Recipe sourced from Weight Watchers Double-Up Dinners)
 
Serves: 8 (4 if freezing half)
ProPoints: 8
 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 kilogram lean pork and veal mince
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
600 grams potatoes, chopped
1/2 large cauliflower, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus extra to garnish
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
 
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook onion, carrot and celery, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and paprika.  Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
 
Add mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add paste, stock, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until thickened.
 
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
 
Boil, steam or microwave potatoes and cauliflower until just tender.  Drain.  Mash in a large bowl with chives until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.
 
Lightly spray two 1.25 litre capacity ovenproof dishes with oil.  Divide mince mixture between prepared dishes.
 
Top with mash and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.  Serve sprinkled with extra chives.
 
If freezing do not bake.  Cool and wrap dish in a double layer of plastic wrap.  Wrap in foil.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Defrost in fridge overnight and bake as per recipe above. 
 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Low Fat Raspberry Jelly Swirl Cheesecake Slice

Some of you may have noticed a few problems occurring on my blog this last week or so..... I am not 100% sure what happened but I think I have fixed all the problems and at the same time thought I would update the look...... I hope you all like it.
 
Moving on from my IT issues, here in Australia we had a long weekend... so I got to spend some precious time with my family and also in the kitchen.  Lots of things were made, eaten and more importantly enjoyed.  From Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings to Homemade Chilli Tomato Ketchup and of course, these little tasty, sweet treats.

Not a heavy cheesecake - in fact very light and fluffy.  The raspberry jelly added a nice texture and was a beautiful replacement to a fruit sauce or a jam.  I am guessing that you could actually use any flavour jelly as long as you think that the flavours would work well with cheesecake.

Very easy to make - practically in the fridge setting in around 40 minutes and to be honest gone in about 5 minutes.



Low Fat Raspberry Jelly Swirl Cheesecake Slice
(Recipe adapted from Taste.com)


Serves: 24
ProPoints per serve: 3


250g packet Marie biscuits
100g reduced-fat spread, melted
9g sachet low-kilojoule raspberry jelly crystals
2/3 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons gelatine powder
500g light cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 cup reduced-fat thickened cooking cream
250g reduced-fat vanilla yoghurt

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
 

Grease a 3cm-deep, 17cm x 27cm (base) slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 5cm overhang at long ends.

Process biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add spread. Process until just combined. Press mixture evenly over base of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Place jelly crystals in a small, heatproof jug. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Using a fork, whisk until dissolved. Add 1/2 cup cold water. Stir to combine. Pour jelly into a shallow, heatproof dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (jelly consistency should be similar to thickened cream).

Place remaining 2 tablespoons boiling water into a small, heatproof jug. Sprinkle over gelatine. Using a fork, whisk until gelatine dissolves. Set aside.

Process cream cheese, sugar, cream and yoghurt until smooth and combined. Fold gelatine into cream cheese mixture.

Pour mixture over base. Using a tablespoon, dollop jelly over mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl together. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Cut into 24 slices.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Don't panic we have been cooking and eating... in fact eating too much - especially quick, easy, tried and proven recipes due to the hectic lifestyle we are currently living. It's footy season again in Australia, and this is our last year involved with Junior Football, Both kids are playing their last junior year. Oliver is in Under 17's and will be a senior next year and Alexandria, well as she's 14, after this year she can no longer play football with the boys. If she wishes to continue her football career she will need to join the girls league.

But YAY I have finally sat down and managed a blog.... I am in my element - doing something I love about something I love!!  FOOD!!

This meal is tasty but yet so easy to make. Realistically it will be on your table within 30 minutes. Using precooked barbecue chicken and only a couple of other ingredients including one of my favourite things, cream cheese laced with our homemade Taco Seasoning these Chimichangas brought a welcome change to the usual common Mexican dishes we have at home.  Of course you can use shop purchased Taco Seasoning but why when it's so easy to make and has a lot more flavour?  Just saying....

Anyway I think your family will love you for it. Ours did.



Baked Chicken Chimichangas
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Quick 6 Ingredients Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 12

1/2 cup (120 grams) light cream cheese
3 teaspoons Taco Seasoning
400 grams shredded skinless barbecue chicken breast
3 green shallots, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
8 x 40 gram Mission Lite (98% Reduced Fat)tortillas
cooking spray
2/3 cup chunky tomato salsa


Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine cream cheese and seasoning in a large bowl. Add chicken, capsicum and shallots and stir to combine.

Spoon chicken mixture into centre of each tortilla. Fold in opposite sides and roll to enclose filling.

Place seam side down, on prepared tray. Lightly spray with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes or until gold and crisp.

Serve Chimichangas with salsa, coleslaw (add 1 ProPoint per serve), warm refried beans (add 2 ProPoints per 100 grams) and low fat sour cream (add 1 ProPoint per tablespoon).


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon, Fresh Herbs and Veg


What a really easy delicious Roast Chicken Dinner this was.  And a mid week treat that's for sure. 
 
Normally our Roast Chicken is very traditional - being a Classic Roast Chicken with Sage and Onion Stuffing but today I thought I needed something also full of flavour but easy to prepare - you know minimal fuss.  Now my good friend, Mr Jamie Oliver, provides a bevvy of these kind of meals so I went straight to his website and never doubting him, he came up with the goods and this recipe was on the screen for all the world to see... oh well me as I was the only one looking at the screen.
 
Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon, Fresh Herbs and Veg - it was decided!!!  That's how are chicken would be sacrificed tonight - well a few tweaks here and there - but it was sorted.
 
No stuffing this time - no need.  Filling the cavity with fresh herbs and whole lemon gave the chicken the same if not better flavours and aromas of a full herby breadcrumb stuffing plus with a lot less fuss.  The vegetables were perfect - taking on the flavours of the chicken and one dish later - it was all done.  Except for the saucepan to make the gravy of course.
 
The chook we served up tonight was perfectly cooked - juicy, tender with a yummy crispy skin.....


Perfect Roast Chicken with Lemon, Fresh Herbs and Veg
(recipe adapted from jamieoliver.com)
 
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 12
 
1.6 kg whole chicken
6 medium potatoes, halved
2 medium onions, quartered
4 carrots, large slices
2 bulbs garlic, halved
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
1 small bunch fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture
2 tablespoons Chicken Gravy powder
2 tablespoons cold water

Take your chicken out of the fridge 1 hour before it goes into the oven.   Remove packaging, rinse and drain.  Pat dry with paper towel. 

Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Celsius.

Pile all the vegetables and garlic into the middle of a large roasting dish and drizzle with half of the olive oil.  Pour in 1 cup of water.

Drizzle the chicken with remaining olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird. Carefully prick the lemon all over, using the tip of a sharp knife or a skewer. Put the lemon inside the chicken's cavity, with the bunch of herbs.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting dish and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the heat down immediately to 200 degrees Celsius.  Cook the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the veg look dry, add some more water to the roasting tray to stop them burning.

Check to ensure chicken is cooked by poking with a skewer through the thickest point - it's cooked if the juices run clear.  take the dish out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a board to rest for 15 minutes or so. Cover it with a layer of tinfoil and a tea towel and put aside.

Transfer pan juices to a small saucepan leaving vegetables in the roasting dish.   Return vegetables to the oven to keep warm and crisp up. 
 
Mix gravy powder with water and stir through pan juices in the saucepan.  Place saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil and cook until slightly thickened, stirring continuously.  Place in jug or gravy boat.
 
Cut chicken into pieces. Remove vegetables from the oven and place chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.  Serve with the gravy and extra ProPoint free vegetables, if desired.
 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders with Slaw

This was a wonderful feed, especially with it being school holidays here in Victoria and we had a house full of extra children sleeping over.  Fork free dining is always a treat for the kids and adults a like and this was definitely a meal that was a relaxing event - even cooking it was easy.

A piece of Pickled Pork drowned in a thick aromatic marinade slow cooked for 9 hours, shredded apart just before serving and then served with the sauce, coleslaw and nice fresh buns.... every meal should be this easy.


Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders with Slaw
(recipe adapted from Just A Taste)
 
Serves: 12
ProPoints per Serve: 9

1 kilogram Pickled Pork or boneless pork shoulder
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup blackberry or raspberry jam
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon crushed chilli
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornflour
3 tablespoons cold water
1 x 200 gram packet coleslaw kit (with dressing included)
12 slider-sized buns or  dinner rolls

Trim any excess fat from the pork shoulder and place it in the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with onions.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, balsamic vinegar, jam, hoisin, chilli, chicken broth, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over the pork shoulder.

Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork shoulder on LOW for 9 hours until it is no longer pink and is cooked through.

Using tongs, remove the pork shoulder from the slow cooker (reserving the liquids) and place it on a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the pork shoulder into smaller pieces. Place the pulled pork in a large bowl.

Meanwhile remove all liquid from slow cooker into a saucepan, draining the onions out if preferred.  Place over medium heat, slowly bringing to the boil.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornflour with water.  Whisk through the cornflour, mixing well.  Bring to full boil and cook until it reduces and has thickened slightly for about 5 minutes.  Put into a serving bowl and set aside.

Make the coleslaw as per the packet directions using the sauce included.

Halve the buns. Divide the pulled pork between the buns, drizzling sauce over the pork and serving with some slaw.

Note: I have allowed 3 ProPoints per roll (35g each).  You could also serve with a 0ppt salad on omit the Coleslaw at 1ppts per serve.



(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slow Cooked Thai Beef Coconut Curry

As winter approaches the nights getting cooler and day light savings is just about to leave Victoria for another year it signals it's nearly slow cooker season..... I know that there is no ruling on what time of the year that you can use your slow cooker - however my five (yes I own five) seem to get a work out during the colder months.

Curry is one of the best things to cook in a slow cooker in my opinion - two reasons.  One the flavour has more time to develop and the beef (or the meat) becomes so wonderfully tender due to the slow cooking process.

This recipe I found on a Facebook page "Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families" and immediately knew we would love the flavours.  A little tweaking to suit us and voila - a mild curry with a hint of Thai flavourings that we all enjoyed.  I hope you do too.


Slow Cooked Thai Beef Coconut Curry
(Recipe Adapted from Tricia King on Facebook Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families)

Serves: 8
ProPoints per Serve: 8

1 tablespoon oil
2 large onions, diced
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1kg of gravy beef, diced
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons crushed chilli
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup beef stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cans of Lite coconut milk
4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red capsicum, large dice
1 green capsicum, large dice

Add oil to a large frying pan and place on medium heat.  Fry onion, garlic and ginger till soft. Add beef and cooked until browned. 

Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, fish sauce chilli, sugar and stock.  Stir well and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Place the beef mixture in the slow cooker vessel.  Add carrots.

Stir through the coconut milk and cook on high for 4 - 5 hours and on low for 8 hours.

Add capsicum to curry when you have approximately 1 hour remaining on your cooking time

Serve with steamed rice (4ppts for 1/2 cup) and garnished with chopped coriander, if desired.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Redcurrant Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Shanks

I know Summer has only just left us here in Australia and technically it's not even winter but I was fancying lamb shanks in a super yummy sauce obviously accompanied by a "comfort food" size serving of creamy mashed potatoes... and guess what - I got it.

Laced with redcurrant and fresh herbs the flavour that developed after slow cooking for 8 hours was magnificent.  The lamb, as you can see, just fell of the bone and was so tender.

Not much more to say really except for ... YUMMO!!


Redcurrant Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Shanks
 
Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 12
 
6 x 300 gram lamb shanks, all visible fat removed
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch fresh rosemary, stalks removed
1 bunch fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 onions, diced
6 carrots, large cut
100 grams redcurrant jelly
8 cups hot water
2 tablespoons beef stock powder
4 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons cold water

Season lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a large frying pan heat oil.  Brown 2 lamb shanks on all sides and place in slow cooker bowl.  Repeat with remaining shanks.

Cover with rosemary and thyme followed by the onions and carrots.

In a large jug mix together the jelly, hot water and stock powder.  Pour over lamb shanks.

Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or until the lamb is tender and almost falling off the bone.

Removes shanks and vegetables from the slow cooker bowl and place in a large serving dish, reserving the sauce.  Cover with foil and keep warm.

Place remaining sauce in a saucepan.  Mix together cornflour and cold water.  Stir through sauce and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sauce thickens.  Pour over lamb shanks and serve.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Zucchini, Bacon and Thyme Slice

There are so many Zucchini Slice recipes available all with their own little twist or that one extra ingredient but I guess it's a case of each to their own taste buds. 

I love this recipe for two big reasons....

Number One - it's super easy.  All mixed together in one bowl and then baked in the oven.  No extra pots or pans just a food processor or a hand grater... that's your choice. 

Number Two - my family love it.... vegetables and all.  LOL!!! 

The fact it is jam packed with vegetables and is wonderfully laced with thyme and a hint of garlic makes it a wonderful treat for breakfast, lunch or after school snack either hot or cold.  Although I haven't as yet served this for dinner I wouldn't hesitate to do so accompanying it with a nice garden salad.  And I have to be perfectly honest with you I NEED to double the recipe to ensure I get at least one piece.

  
Zucchini, Bacon and Thyme Slice
 
Serves: 12
ProPoints per Serve: 3
 
2 zucchini, coarsely grated
1 carrot, peeled, coarsely grated
1 small red capsicum, seeded, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250 grams Weight Watchers bacon, finely chopped
1 cup 50% reduced fat grated tasty cheese
1 cup self-raising flour
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan and line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper.

Place the zucchini, carrot, capsicum, spring onion, thyme, garlic, bacon, cheese and flour in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg, milk and oil and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 40 mins or until firm to the touch. Set aside to cool slightly. Cut into 12 squares.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

South West Chilli

There was a moment where I swear we must have all woken up after a siesta with the taste of Mexico because there seems to quite a few dishes being cooked in the House of Murray with the Tex Mex flavours.  Don't get me wrong we LOVE it... Mexican food can be so simple to prepare yet so complex in flavours always making the taste buds dance. 
 
While I cannot take credit for this recipe - it's not a "hand me down" family recipe full of secret ingredients - it's actually a combination of internet researched (yes thank God for Google again) recipes and flavours that we like.  I must say that researching Chilli came up with some interesting information.  Many bloggers, especially those located in the Southern USA have their own take on what makes the best chilli - is it the heat?  Is it the texture? Beans or no Beans?  As you can imagine there are many, and I mean many, versions of this dish all differing slightly but all sounding delicious.
 
My favourite Chilli making tip that I stumbled across is to toss a grating of bitter chocolate into chili to give it body and mellow the flavours however I did not do that on this recipe.
 
I do agree with this tip - for maximum flavour, cool chilli and refrigerate overnight so flavours will develop.  It's similar to the fact that curry always tastes better the next day.
 
This is just a perfect meal in a bowl but if you wish you could serve with steamed rice, mashed potato or even boiled pasta.  It's great by itself though and you will be wanting seconds so no real need to fill up on the carbs!!


South West Chilli

Serves: 12
ProPoints per Serve: 8
 
cooking spray
1 kilogram lean beef mince
2 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chilli powder or to taste
2 x 700 gram jars Passata or tomato puree
2 x 440g tins diced tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
salt
freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
2 x 440 g cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green capsicums, diced
2 red capsicums, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
 
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray and sauté ground beef, onion, and garlic until the meat is browned.
 
Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, Passata, tomatoes, and beef stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, approximately 3 to 4 hours, stirring often. Additional beef broth, water, or wine may be added as needed.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
 
Add honey, beans, capsicum and corn.  Continue to simmer another 30 minutes, testing and adjust seasoning to taste if required.

Serve topped with 1 tablespoon of reduced fat sour cream (additional 1 ProPoint) and 15 grams grated 50% reduced fat tasty cheese (additional 1 ProPoint).
 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel

A few weeks ago to my surprise I won two tickets to The Testing Grounds where they do cooking demonstrations as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival called Outdoor Essentials.  The Chef of the Day was Mr Paul Wilson who would display his culinary techniques and knowledge.  The package I would also provided me with two copies of his new cookbook Cantina, Recipes from a Mexican Kitchen, which I have to say has recipes in it that made my mouth water from the day I received them in the mail. .    I decided to take Alex, my 13 year old daughter who has already decided that she wants to be a Food Scientist when she grows up!! Yep she's already decided.
 
Alex and I had such a lovely day in the city - it was a girly day, an adventure, something that the two of us girls for some reason rarely do but both always desire to spend mother and daughter time.
 
In such a small space of time, Paul Wilson cooked 3 amazing dishes, passed around foods for us to taste and smell, answered questions and just made everything look so perfectly easy.  We were then treated to one of the dishes he cooked for lunch.  After lunch Alex and I took the opportunity to get a photo taken with this remarkable chef... whom then inspired our Mexican infused dinner later in the evening.
 
Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel, in my opinion takes Schnitzels to another level.  I must admit I am not a fan of a plain Chicken Schnitzel nor can I say I really enjoy Chicken Parmigiana unless they are 100% homemade.  The mixture of homemade taco seasoning and panko breadcrumbs forms a crunchy coating with enough flavours just to serve on it's own.  However, served with a fresh crunchy coleslaw and Oven Baked Spiced Sweet Potato Chips this meal was complete and enjoyed by one and all.
 

Tex Mex Chicken Schnitzel
(recipe adapted from WW 6 Ingredients Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9 using Homemade Taco Seasoning
ProPoints per Serve: 10 using Packet Taco Seasoning
 
4 tablespoons plain flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
100 grams panko breadcrumbs
60 grams homemade taco seasoning or 2 x 30 gram packets Taco Seasoning Mix
4 x 220 gram skinless chicken breast fillets
2 tablespoons canola oil

Place flour on a plate.  Whisk egg with water in a shallow bowl.  Combine breadcrumbs and seasoning on a plate.

Place a chicken fillet in between baking paper and place on chopping board.  Using a mallet or rolling pin pound the chicken until the whole fillet is an even thickness.  Repeat with remaining chicken fillets.

Coat each chicken fillet in flour, then egg mixture and breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a plate.

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add chicken fillets in pairs, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.

Serve with Coleslaw and Oven Baked Spiced Sweet Potato Chips if desired.

 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

General Tso's Chicken

Keeping on the Chinese theme, here is another new dish that I had to try.  It's a very popular dish in Chinese restaurants in America, which of course made me very curious.
 
Doing some research (once again thank goodness for Google) this simple chicken dish became more intriguing as it seems that this dish named in honour of a Qing dynasty general from Hunan, General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, has no known connection to him.  The food has been associated with his name  even though] the dish is found neither in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, nor in Xiangyin, the home of General Tso.  And even more interestingly - apparently descendants of General Tso who still live in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish. 
 
Further reading there are many versions of where this dish originated but I am guessing it was in the early '70s in New York rather than in the 1800s when General Tso lived.  Obviously linking this dish with a famous man adds to the intrigue when ordering meals outside of ones culture!!

This dish itself, was very much like one of our all time favourites, Nice Chicken, although I didn't find it as spicy.  Using the dried chillies added a different texture, and a direct heat upon eating but I would keep the seeds in next time to increase the heat.
 
Anyhow this is our take on the dish that I found on Rasa Malaysia, fast becoming one of my favourite food sites.


General Tso's Chicken
(recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
 
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 12
 
600 grams skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons ginger, finely crushed
2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
8 - 10 dried red chillies, rinsed and deseeded
4 spring onions, cut into 2 cms lengths

In a bowl marinate the chicken with 1 tablespoon of rice wine and salt for 15 minutes.
 
In a jug place rice vinegar, soy sauces, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornflour.  Mix well and set aside.

Coat the chicken generously with the remaining cornflour. Add oil, reserving 1 tablespoon, to a wok or frying pan. When oil is hot cook the chicken, in batches, until they turn light brown. Remove from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Heat up a wok with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add the minced ginger, garlic, and dried chilies into the wok, stir-fry until the chilies are fragrant. Pour the sauce into the wok. When the sauce boils and thickens, add the chicken, stirring to ensure all is well combined. Add the spring onion and stir 1 - 2 minutes. 
 
Place on a serving platter or dish and serve immediately.
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sweet and Sour Pork

This would have to be my children's "always order" dish at any Chinese restaurant.  They love the crunchy batter on the pork pieces smothered in the famous sweet and sour sauce that everyone is familiar with.

Some Sweet and Sour sauces can be too sweet or too sour which obviously spoils the meal for the consumer but not this one.  This homemade sauce does nothing short of elevate the delicate tender pork to a point where tastebuds explode at the moment of the first mouthful.

Melt in the mouth pork, crunchy vegetables, sweet pineapple enveloped in lip smacking sauce I think I would be allowed to cook this every night if my family had their way.......


Sweet and Sour Pork
(Recipe adapted from RasaMalaysia.com)
 
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 16

2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
2 tablespoons cornflour
500 grams pork tenderloin, diced
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoon plum sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 small pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup water
1 cup canola oil
4 clove garlic, crushed
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
4 spring onions, cut into 2cms lengths
425 gram can sliced pineapple, drained and cut into small pieces

In a large bowl combine soy sauce, rice wine and 2 teaspoons of cornflour.  Mix well.  Add pork and marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sweet and sour sauce by combining the ketchup, plum sauce, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, cornflour, sugar and 4 tablespoons water.  Mix well and set aside.

Sift the flour, the remaining cornflour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Then add in the egg, water, and 2 teaspoons of canola oil to form a thick batter.

Transfer the pork pieces into the batter and make sure they are well coated. In a deep skillet, add in the cooking oil enough for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the pork pieces, in batches, until they turn golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

Heat up a wok and add remaining oil. Add in the garlic and stir fry until light brown, then follow by the capsicum and pineapple pieces. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes and then add in the sweet and sour sauce. As soon as the sauce thickens, transfer the pork into the wok and stir well with the sauce. Add the spring onions, tossing through well and then place on a serving platter or dish.
 
Serve accompanied with steamed rice, if desired.
 

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns

Valentine's Day has come around again, it's actually the 23rd one we have shared together.  While there is still lots of love between us we don't necessarily go all out with the publicity hype that has turned a day of romance into a money making opportunity that is obsessed over by millions.  So as we have done every year we gave each other some simple cards with beautiful words written inside them and had a special feast..... well they do say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

I decided that we would have a spicy prawn entrée followed by some Crispy Asian Pork Belly for main.  Alex was having a sleep over so it was good to have spicy and pork as she is not a fan of either.  Oliver is getting better with spice but doesn't like prawns.  But their taste buds are still changing and discovering so it won't be long before they realise what they are missing out on.

The Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns was a recipe I stumbled across.  I found the recipe on the SBS website and as you can imagine, the recipe instantly drew me to putting it on the menu straight away.  The Mekong Delta region in south-western  Vietnam and it is Vietnam's most important fishing region more importantly it is well known for its prawn farming.  This recipe uses fresh prawns marinated in a mixture of sauces and spices and then quickly cooked for delicious meal.
 
The flavours were amazing, intriguing our tastebuds with every mouthful.  Spicy but delicate, a little sweet and a little sour.  Very interesting combinations of spices which produced a dish that was fragrant and had just the right amount of heat.  As an entrée I just served on a bed of lettuce leaves but served with steamed rice this dish would also be a perfect main meal.

 

Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns
(Recipe adapted from SBS)
 
Serves: 4
ProPoints Per Serve: 6
 
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon dry sherry
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
500 grams large prawns, peeled, deveined, tails removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 spring onion (scallion), cut into 2 cm lengths
1 tablespoon water
lettuce leaves, to serve
1 long red chilli, finely sliced

In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, cinnamon powder, cumin powder, sherry, black pepper and curry powder. Add the prawns, cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pour oil in a large wok or frying pan on high heat. Fry the garlic and red onion until fragrant and stir fry prawns for 2 - 3 minutes until changed colour and cooked through.

Add the spring onion and water and toss for a further 1 minute.

Place lettuce on to a serving plate, transfer prawns to the plate and garnish with sliced red chilli.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vegetarian Noodles

To my delight the House Of Murray is still a very busy place at the moment and YES there has been lots of food consumed.  Needless to say I have a backlog of recipes to share with you.  So my mission is to of course share these with you as well as the food that we are eating now.

This dish is one of my all time favourites either served by themselves as a sneaky comfort food or served with some barbecued meat or fish.  These noodles however have a flavour that tantalises the taste buds and there is normally none left for leftovers the next day.

A simple meal to prepare and cook but one that everyone enjoys.



Vegetarian Noodles


Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 5


440 grams hokkien noodles
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cm peice of ginger, grated
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 red capsicum julienned
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
100 grams bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped



Fill a large bowl with hot water and soak noodles as per packet directions. Drain and set aside.

In a small jug mix together sweet chilli sauce, kecap manis, soy sauce and water.

Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, onion and carrots tossing until onion starts to soften - add a little water if vegetables start to burn. Add capsicum and mushrooms. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes.

Add combined sauce and stir through. Add noodles and bok choy tossing to combine.

Stir through bean sprouts and corinader. Serve immediately.


(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chorizo and Smoky Beef Enchiladas

I went back to work for 3 days this week and now I am on leave until next Thursday - it's a hard life really LOL!! I promised my nephew Wesley over Christmas that he could come over when I was on annual leave to sleep the night and to do some cooking with us. He is only 11 but has the passion to be a wonderful cook or chef should he choose to follow that profession. So Wesley didn't forget about my promise (I hadn't either) and made sure his dad rang me to confirm.. bless him.

Tonight he was picked up by Uncle Noel and was patiently awaiting my return from work so he could start his adventure. Although he is only young I knew Wesley tends to bake a lot of sweets and cakes so it was my mission to cook different foods so I decided to start with a Mexican dish for dinner.

This dish was very easy and I know that Wesley enjoyed making it. A few new techniques for him but he did very well. We all enjoyed the flavour (even Grandma who says she hates Mexican due to her first experience at a Mexican restaurant where apparently it looked like slop!) The smokiness of the paprika teamed with the subtle spiciness of the Chorizo was perfect enveloped in a tortilla and baked smothered in tomato sauce and melted cheese - what is there not to like.

Any way as you can see by the photos my little nephew was in heaven in the kitchen at the House Of Murray.


Chorizo and Smoky Beef Enchiladas
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 15
 
1 chorizo sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 kilogram reduced fat premium beef mince
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
400g can kidney beans, drained
8 Mission 96% fat free Tortillas
200 grams 50% reduced fat tasty cheese, grated

Place a large frying pan over high heat, add oil, when hot and chorizo, cook for 3 minutes or until chorizo is caramelized then turn the heat down to medium and add onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes.

Add mince, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt to the pan, break up the mince and cook for 5 minutes, or until mince is coloured.

Add half the amount of tomato paste and one can of tomatoes, and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Finally add red kidney beans and stir to combine.  Allow to cool.

When you are about to start making up the Enchiladas preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Fill the end of a tortilla with beef mixture, roll to form a log shape, then place in a baking tray, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beef mixture.

Mix the remaining tomato paste and can of tomatoes together in a bowl, spread over the top of the tortillas and sprinkle over grated cheese. Bake in middle level of the oven for 30 minutes or until heated through and  cheese is golden.




(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)