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
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
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)

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
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

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)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Classic Roast Chicken with Sage and Onion Stuffing

I spent last week away with work - not something that I do now with my new job role but nice to do something again that I have realised that I really did enjoy doing. After 7 months now working in the Technical division at work, which I find challenging and my reward is paid in knowledge, training is my real passion! Being away again, training and working with other people, has cemented that I wish to return to the training world and have decided that I will do so at my next given opportunity.
While away, I managed to eat well, in fact I always seem to eat well!!  Bendigo has some wonderful restaurants - it's a city filled with a diverse range of food offerings basically a Foodies Paradise.  I enjoyed Italian, Spanish, Mexican and Indian in my week long stay but there was so much more I could have eaten but I did have to work during my stay.  LOL!!
Coming home is always wonderful but by this time I am usually craving something "plain Jane" and comforting - you know that homely meal that just hits the spot.  Roast chicken sprung to mind so that's what we cooked.
I love the smell of a roast chicken especially when it's been filled with stuffing - Sage and Onion is my favourite.  The aroma fills the house and I can say this as chicken is the only roast that I actually cook in the oven.  All of our other roasts are done in the weber.
Crispy skinned, moist and juicy chicken meat served with Sage and Onion Stuffing - perfect.  Accompanied by roasted and steamed vegetables the taste buds danced once again with every mouthful. 
Classic Roast Chicken with Sage and Onion Stuffing
Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 10
1.6 kilogram whole chicken
6 slices wholegrain bread
2 onions, peeled and finely diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried sage leaves
1 egg white, lightly beaten
extra fresh ground black pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Prepare a baking tray with a cooking rack inside.
Clean chicken in cold water, removing any additional skin/fat and inners.  Remove from water and drain.  Place on workbench and pat chicken skin dry using paper towel also wipe out chicken cavity of any extra water. 
Using a food processer make breadcrumbs using the bread.  Pour into large bowl.  Add onion, pepper and sage.  Mix to combine.  Add egg and mix to bind together.
Place stuffing mixture into cavity of chicken.  Pushing in firmly to ensure it stays put.  Tie legs together if you wish with cooking string.
Season the outside of the whole chicken with salt and pepper.
Place chicken on the cooking rack in the baking dish.   Put water in bottom of baking tray.  Cook in the oven for 1 hour or until cooked to your liking and juices run clear.
Serve with your favourite vegetables and gravy if desired.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Creamy Garlic and Chilli Mussels

Tonight we needed something quick and simple to make without too much fuss but as always we wanted maximum flavour.  The first thing that sprung to mind was mussels as they are such a versitale ingredient and cheap here in Australia.
A quick garlic and chilli sauce and we were in business.  One kilogram demolished in no time with some crunchy bread to soak up the juice.

Creamy Garlic and Chilli Mussels
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 8
1 kilogram mussels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons crushed chilli
1 onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low fat cream
freshly ground black pepper
fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Clean mussels removing all barbs and dags from the outer shell.  Rinse.

Heat oil over medium- high heat in a deep frying pan, saucepan or wok.  Add onion and capsicum and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until softened.

Add garlic and chilli, stirring for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add the mussels and toss for 2 minutes.

Add the wine and the cream, stirring until combined completely, season with freshly ground black pepper.  Cover with a lid and let steam for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and transfer to a bowl, if desired, and serve garnished with fresh coriander.

Add extra ProPoints should you wish to serve with crusty bread (bread type depending).

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A 'Better" Burger with the Lot

Well when asked where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner celebrations I replied that I actually didn't want to go anywhere I simply wanted to stay home and have homemade hamburgers.  Little did my family know that I had been eyeing of the recipe in the January Weight Watchers Magazine which allows me to have a "guilty" meal without all the guilty baggage.  Finally they all relented and I got my wish.
A few minor modifications to the recipe and I had, enjoyed and was defeated by my chosen dinner.  It was yummy and oh so filling - it was magnificent. 
We cooked on the barbecue as it was a nice night here in Melbourne but stove top would do just fine. The burger pattie itself was very moist and tasty - the paprika giving it a hint the pattie a hint of smokiness without be as overpowering as liquid smoke or the like. 
But as usual "the lot" component hit the comfort zone perfectly... LOL.

A "Better" Burger with the Lot
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine January 2015)
Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 14
500 gram lean beef mince
70 grams fresh breadcrumbs (made from 2 slices bread)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
2 tablespoon barbecue sauce
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
125 grams Weight Watchers Bacon
4 eggs
4  slices 50% less fat tasty cheese
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 wholegrain bread rolls. 50 grams each, split
tomato slices
8 slices canned beetroot drained
lettuce leaves

Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, egg white, paprika, tomato and half the barbecue sauce in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well to combine and shape into 4 same sized patties.
Heat a barbecue flat plate and spray with cooking spray.  Cook the patties for 5 - 10 minutes each side or until cooked through or to your liking.  Cook the bacon and the pineapple for 4 - 5 minutes each side or until browned.  Place the cheese on patties to melt.  Cook eggs, to your liking
Meanwhile, spray a saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion, stirring, for 5 - 7 minutes or until lightly golden.  Add the vinegar and cook for a further 1 minute or until the liquid evaporates.
Grill cut sides of the rolls.  Top with lettuce, tomato, beetroot, patties, cheese, bacon, pineapple, onion and egg.  Top with remaining barbecue sauce and roll tops.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jo's Made Up Butter Chicken

After trawlling through many recipes for low fat butter chicken recipes to satisfy a craving I was having and was surprised actually how many there are.  Sadly a lot of them claim to be low fat or healthy but just didn't fit the bill after reading the ingredients list.
I eventually settled on making up my own while using all the knowledge I had gathered.  So here is my very non authentic recipe.
Most butter chickens call for the chicken to be marinated in the yoghurt and spices before hand but I didn't have time to do this as it was for dinner tonight.

To my surprise a nice flavour - well balanced with a mellow hint of sweetness and a tingle of heat.  I personally would have it a bit hotter by adding more chilli but for a first go I was impressed.  The family thought it was pretty good too.

Butter Chicken
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 12

2 large onions, diced
2 tablespoon Weight Watchers Canola Spread
1 teaspoon turmeric ground
1 teaspoon cardamom ground
1 teaspoon garam masala ground
1 teaspoon coriander ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves ground
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed chilli
2 teaspoon crushed ginger
3 teaspoons crushed garlic
1/4 cup cooking cream light
1 cup natural low fat yoghurt
140 gram can tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
800 grams chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed and diced
1 cup raw rice
fresh coriander, to garnish 

In a large saucepon over a low heat melt butter and oil together.  Add onions, cook stirring for 5 - 10 minutes until softened and are translucent. 

Place turmeric, cardamom, garam masala, coriander, cloves and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.

Add the chilli, ginger, and garlic to the onion mixture and stir 1 minute.

Add tomato paste to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add the combined spices to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 - 2  minutes or until fragrant.
Add the canned tomato, sugar, salt and water, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ensure the saucepan is over a low heat and add the cream and yoghurt, stirring, ensuring that it's all mixed through.

Add the chicken into the simmering sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Mealwhile cook the rice as per packet instructions.
Serve with rice and garnished with coriander leaves.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mustard Maple Chicken Fillets (aka World's Best Chicken)

So chicken fillets in hand (well out defrosting for dinner) and I really needed some inspiration.  So I turned to good old Google.  Typing in "Chicken Fillet Recipes" and praying that something would catch my eye and inspire me.
One of the google hits was called 60 Awesome Ways to Spice Up Boring Chicken Breasts (yep of all the eye grabbing titles to choose). Of course me being me that was the first link I clicked on - and gee was I amazed!!  After having a look at several of the recipes via links I got down to number 45 and it was hook, line and sinker for me.  I immediately thought that is what we are having for dinner.
Oven baked with minimal ingredients always is a win win - often these recipes are quick, simple and involve the least amount of washing up.  There was no need to marinate before hand and all the ingredients I had on hand.
The title of "World's Best Chicken" of course is quite bold.  But it's an understatement.  For such a truly easy and foolproof dish the flavour was magnificient.  The chicken was tender and juicy.  The sweet tanginess of the mustard, maple syrup and vinegar combined was out of this world. 
Infact, for the first few mouthfuls the table was silent savouring every mouthful each of us took but at the same time we were looking around the table to see if others were having the same experience....
You MUST try the Worlds Best Chicken....

Mustard Maple Chicken Fillets (aka World's Best Chicken)
(recipe adapted from Rachel Schultz)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 8
cooking spray
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, syrup, and vinegar.

Place chicken breasts into a large rectangle casserole dish or a lined baking dish. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. Make sure each breast is coated. Sprinkle with some more pepper.  Sprinkle with chopped rosemary.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Place fillets on serving platter or individual plates.  Drizzle remaining sauce evenly over chicken.  Serve.

 (Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Turkey Ham and Vegetable Pot Pies

Merry Christmas to you all
and best wishes for the New Year.

Thank you all for your support and patience with me and my blogging in 2014.  As I have mentioned many times it has been a hard year in the Murray house - one of many changes, one that found me time pour and one where I was just lost and finding things very difficult.  I am now at the end of the year and looking forward to a better 2015 and wishing you a prosperous and creative New Year.

My first post of the year is brought to us by the dreaded Christmas leftovers.... everyone has them.  Some us of us end up with lots of them - in our case it was only some turkey slices but a whole leg of ham on the bone.

I love turkey but once it's cooked and served the first time it tends to get dry really quickly.  Ham on the other hand doesn't change when stored correctly but you must keep an eye on the used by date.  My favourite use of left over ham, especially ham on the bone, is Pea and Ham Soup which I normally make a long time after Christmas when the cooler months start to make their way in.  Tonight something different was called for and to be honest everyone in our house loves Pot Pies so it was a no-brainer.

These flavours work so well together - the turkey, the ham, the creamy thyme flavoured sauce and of course being packed so full of vegetables made for a perfect one dish wonder that everyone loved.  All individually portioned up so no there was no arguments over "he got more pastry than I did" - oh the dramas!!

Turkey, Ham and Vegetable Pot Pies
(recipe adapted from

Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 10

cooking spray
150 grams button mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 carrots, peeled and thinly diced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
60 grams Weight Watchers Canola Spread
1/2 cup plain flour
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup light (reduced fat) thickened cream
320 grams chopped cooked turkey
90 grams chopped leg ham
freshly ground black pepper
2 sheets Reduced Fat Puff Pastry
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray, add mushrooms, carrots, spring onion, corn, peas and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes or until carrots have softenend. Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until mixture bubbles. Add chicken stock and wine, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, whisking to remove any lumps. Add the thickened cream and cook for a further minute or until the mixture boils and thickens. Season to taste, then stir in the turkey, ham and mushroom mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, defrost pastry sheets. Cut into quarters.
Divide mixture evenly amongst 8 x 1 cup capacity ramekins.  Spray ramekin dish rims with cooking spray and place 1 piece of pastry on each dish.  Trim if required and use remaining pastry as decoration.  Place on baking tray and spray pastry top with cooking spray.

Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Homemade Guacamole

You really cannot serve Mexican especially Spicy Chicken Nachos without Homemade Guacamole.  It's that perfect accompaniment that pleases the tastebuds along side all the warm wonderful spices that Mexican food is laced with.
One of the major positives about this dish is that it's such an easy side dish to make, taking only minutes and the flavour is just an explosion in your mouth compared to shop brought prepackaged dip.

Homemade Guacamole
Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 2
2 ripe avocado
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
150 grams cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 red bullet chilli (seeds removed if desired) finely chopped
juice of 1 fresh lime
freshly ground black pepper

Cut avocados in half, remove stone and peel.  Dice each half and place in a large bowl.  Mash gently until chunky.
Add onions, cherry tomatoes, coriander, chilli and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix until well combined.

Refrigerate until required.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Spicy Chicken Nachos

We love having people over and there is always something quick and easy we can whip up just to keep everyone's tummies happy while we enjoy the great company.  Mexican is one of those friendly comfort foods that everyone seems to love and I would have to say that Nacho's are high on everyone's favourite food lists.

These Spicy Chicken Nachos are definitely a crowd pleaser served with sour cream and Home Made Guacamole - they were definitely a hit..  So easy to make especially the corn chips being made from tortillas, the mince spicy but not overpowering which can be made with or without the chilli kick.

Please note as we had a houseful I doubled the recipe below.

Spicy Chicken Nachos
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers 1 Recipe 3 Ways Cookbook)
Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 11
4 x 40g extra light flour tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
500 grams low fat chicken mince
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teadspoon ground coriander
300 gram jar chunky tomato salsa
1 cup water
1 - 2 teaspoons chilli flakes (if desired)
1/3 cup extra light sour cream
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

Preheat oven to 200 degress Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan-forced.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.  Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges.  Place on prepared trays and lightly spray with oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden.  Cool.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add mince and cook, breaking up any lumps for 3-5 minutes or until browned.  Transfer to a bowl.
Heat remaining oil in pan.  Add onion, capsicum and carrot.  Cook strirring for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add cumin and coriander and cook stirring for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Return mince to the pan with salsa, water and chilli flakes if using and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 - 12 minutes or until thickened.
Place tortilla chips into serving bowls.  Top with mince mixture , sour cream and coriander. 
Serve with a 0ppt salad, homemade guacamole and some grated cheese if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Asian Pork Cutlets

This meal had to be one of the easiest that I have prepared EVER!!  And the outcome was a really tender pork cutlet flavoured with all the spices of the orient.

I have to be perfectly honest that I am not a fan of cooking small pieces of meat in the oven (baking) in fact I don't even cook large peices of meat in the oven as we cook all of our roasts in the Weber.  So this itself was an interesting exercise for me and thankfully with success.

The flavour was full considering the marinating time was very minimal making these Asian Pork Cutlets a perfect midweek wonder.  The kids loved the flavour - somewhat sweet but with the underlying tones of cinnamon, star annise and soy added character to the plum sauce base.

Overall a terrific dish which I am sure will be on the menu again very soon.

Asian Pork Cutlets
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers 5 Ingredients Cookbook)
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 12
1/2 cup plum sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teapsoon chinese five spice powder
4 x 200 gram pork cutlets, fat trimmed
1 bunch broccolini, ends trimmed
1 cup white rice
Combine the plum sauce, soy sauce and five spice in a shallow glass or ceramic bowl.  Add pork, turning to coat.  Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line a baking dish with baking paper.  Place cutlets on the baking tray, reserving any marinade.  Bake cutlets for 25 minutes, basting with marinade every 10 minutes.  Cook until pork is cooked through and golden or to your liking.
Meanwhile cook rice as per packet instructions. 
Place remaining marinade in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce heat, simmering until sauce slightly thickens. 
Steam broccolini for 2 minutes or until bright in colour.
Place cutlets on serving plates with rice and broccolini.  Drizzle with sauce and serve.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chicken Leek and Corn Crepes

This dish definitely is at the top of the Comfort Food list - it's creamy, flavoursome and a definitely "can I please have some more?" meal.    In fact this dish has 'Comfort' written all over it. There was not much left of this dish at all (and I had planned to freeze some as I had doubled the recipe). 

While this sounds like a recipe that involves a lot of elements - it would if you cooked them all yourself but making this mid week is easy when you can by already made crepes.  Here in Melbourne you can find them in the freezer section at supermarkets near the pastry).  Defrost them before use and away you go.

The creamy chicken, leek and corn filling is easy to make and with all the ingredients prepared before hand is completed in 20 minutes allowing a little extra time for it to cool. 

Overall, a perfect dish...

Chicken Leek and Corn Crepes
Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 12

cooking spray
1 leek, finely sliced
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
400 grams lean chicken breast fillet, fat trimmed, cut into 1 cm pieces
2 tablespoons water
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Weight Watchers Canola Spread
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernals, thawed
8 French-style frozen crepes, just thawed
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan-forced.  Spray a 28cm x 20cm x 3cm ovenproof dish with cooking spray.
Lightly spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add leek and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until browned.
Heat spread in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Combine milk, stock and nutmeg in a jug.  Gradually add milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until  smooth.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 2 - 3 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  Stir in chicken mixture, corn and parsley.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture.  Lay crepes on a flat work surface.  Divide remaining chicken mixture among crepes and spread evenly along 1 edge.  Roll crepes to enclose filling and place, seam side down, in prepared dish.  Spoon reserved filling along centre of crepes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Served sprinkled with a 0ppt garden salad if desired. 
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giant Vegetable Rosti with Cheese, Spinach and Poached Eggs

Sunday's are so busy during the football season and we rarely get the day to ourselves so when the season is over we try to make the most out of our Sunday.

This morning, after a small sleep in, I decided that a yummy brunch was now on the menu.  The weather is warming up and it was perfect this morning to sit outside and enjoy some precious time together.  Saying this I did not want the usual big breakfast (you know bacon, eggs, beans, toast, etc.)

I had seen this recipe for a 'Giant Potato Rosti' several times and had always thought that it would be a winner with us foodies.  I added some thyme to the potato and carrot mix plus used tasty cheese instead of the feta.  And it was yummo!!!

Not that easy with all the different steps involved but worth the effort.  A crispy rosti topped with cheese, fresh spinach and a runny egg... perfect for a mid morning brunch.

Giant Vegetable Rosti with Cheese, Spinach and Poached Eggs
(recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 7 

1200 grams potatoes
6 large carrots
sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
cooking spray
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
100g baby spinach
6 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degress Celsius.

Peel the potatoes and carrots, then grate them coarsely. Add a good pinch of salt, toss and scrunch it all together, then leave for 5 minutes.

Put olive oil into a large bowl and add a good pinch of pepper and thyme leaves.

Handful by handful, squeeze the potato and carrot mixture to get rid of the excess salty liquid, then sprinkle into the bowl. Toss in the oil and pepper until well mixed, Spray a large baking tray with cooking spray and then evenly scatter the potato mixture in tray. Roast for around 35 minutes, or until golden on top and super-crispy around the edges.

Meanwhile, boil a large saucepan with water to cook your poached eggs.  Just before your rosti is ready, with the water gently simmering, crack in the eggs, poach to your liking, then carefully remove with a slotted spoon.  Or cook your poached eggs using your usual method.

Remove rosti from the oven sprinkle with grated cheese.  Top with baby spinach and poached eggs.  Add a side serve of Weight Watchers Bacon for 1 ProPoint per 2 slices.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Moroccan Chicken Pie with Sumac Yoghurt

Its definitely not been a long time between drinks for me but it's been a long time between blogging.  To be honest time is poor for me once again with many things happening outside these website walls consuming too much of my time.  I have to sit back and decide what I need to dedicate my time to and what is just wasting my time.  One of the things that gives me the most enjoyment is this blog "my nerdy hobby" I started for fun until my family started telling others about it and word got out.

So with that in mind and tasking myself with learning the art of prioritising I am moving forward.  And one of those things to assist is to cook.....

This Morrocan Chicken Pie not only tasted great but the house was filled with an aroma, sweet and spicy, that was entising and very pleasing on the nose.  Everyone was automatically drawn to the kitchen commenting on how good this smelled.

The taste was not disappointing either - with the pie being devoured by the whole family.   The balanced spices definitely laced the chicken with a Middle Eastern flavour combined with the sweetness of the apricots.  I removed the sweet potato from the original recipe as my family don't seem to do potatoes in pies unless it's Grandma's Curry Pie (made from left over stew) and added some extra vegetasbles. 

It must have been good I have had a request to make pot pies from this recipe so the individuals (you know who you are) can have them for lunch or for a snack after school.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!

Moroccan Chicken Pie with Sumac Yoghurt
(recipe adapted from WW Eat Well Diabetes Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9

500 grams chicken thighs, visible fat removed, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
400 gram can diced tomatoes
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoon fresh coriander chopped
1 sheet Pampus reduced fat puff pastry
1/2 cup low fat natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground sumac

Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan-forced. Lightly spray a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof pie dish with oil.

Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add chicken and cook, in batches, stirring, for 3–4 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil in same pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, ginger, cumin and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Return chicken to pan with apricots, tomatoes, stock, carrots and capsicum and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir cornflour and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir cornflour mixture into chicken mixture and simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in coriander.

Spoon chicken mixture into prepared dish. Cut pastry into eight 3cm-wide strips. Top chicken mixture with pastry strips in a lattice pattern. Trim excess pastry and press edges to seal. Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.

Meanwhile, combine yoghurt and sumac in a small bowl.

Serve pie with sumac yoghurt.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

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