Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sesame and Soy Stir Fried Vegetable Noodles

Vegetables can be boring let's face it. 

Add noodles - instant change and makes eating lots of vegetables in one sitting easy.  We always have noodles on hand and these shelf life noodles are perfect for a whipping up a quick meal.  Using fresh noodles would be fantastic but not as practical as these pantry dwellers.

These noodles laced with the aromatic sesame oil and soy sauce were perfect accompanying Noel's Char Siu Beef Kebabs.   The kebabs were full of flavours and these simple noodles complimented them perfectly.  All the different vegetables release their own flavours so there was no need to make this dish overpowering by using different sauces etc.

Sesame and Soy Stir Fried Vegetable Noodles

Serves: 4

1 x 220 gram pouch Hokkien Noodles
1 x 220 gram pouch Singapore Noodles
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 onion, sliced
3 carrots, cut into batons
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
100 grams snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling hot water.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes, loosening noodles occasionally.  Drain.

Place oil in a wok or large frying pan and heat over high heat.  Add garlic, onion and carrots and cook, tossing constantly, for 5 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add capsicum, broccoli and mushrooms to the wok.  Continue to cook, still tossing, for another 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

Add noodles, snow peas, sesame oil and soy sauce.  Toss until well combined.  Cook until noodles are hot and snow peas are just tender.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Char Siu Beef and Vegetable Kebabs

It was definitely BBQ weather tonight so we had our first official House of Murray Summer 2015/2016.

On the menu was Char Siu Beef and Vegetable Kebabs and I decided to team these with a nice healthy serve of Sesame and Soy Stir Fried Vegetable Noodles.

Kebabs can be so much fun. To be honest anything you can eat fork free is fun, right? When I say kebabs can be fun I mean that it just starts as a plain bamboo skewer and you can put anything on it, marinate it, pop them on the BBQ  and voila you have an instant meal on a stick!!
Noel was in charge of the marinating of these bad boy kebabs and they were, as always, delish.  The marinade itself was Asian inspired hence why I felt the need to serve with some noodles.  A Char Siu Sauce base with undertones of garlic, ginger and chilli made the beef and vegetables dance on my tastebuds with every mouthful.

Char Siu Beef and Vegetable Kebabs

Serves: 4

8 bamboo skewers
1/2 cup Char Siu Sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
800 grams beef, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 red capsicum, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 green capsicum, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 onion, cut into 2 cm pieces

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.  Remove skewers from water.

In a medium jug mix together the Char Siu Sauce, wine, garlic, ginger, and sambal oelek.

Starting with a piece of capsicum, thread one piece onto a skewer, then a piece of onion, followed by the beef.  Repeat process 3 times or until skewer is full.  Continue with all 8 skewers.

Place in a shallow baking dish.  Pour over marinade, turning to ensure that the skewers are coated.  Allow to marinade for 2 - 3 hours or overnight if time permits.

Heat a BBQ plate or grill plate and cook skewers, turning occasionally, for 5 - 10 minutes or until beef is cooked to your liking.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boiled Pineapple Fruit Cake

Not many of you may know this quirky fact about me, in fact there are many things I have not disclosed LOL!!!  This fact however was very pivotal my teenage years.  I grew up living on a golf course... yep a golf course.  My parents were caretakers by night, which meant we lived on the golf course and looked after the property outside of business hours.

The golf course itself was an 18 hole public golf course complete with a historic homestead, our house, a golf shop and a cafe.  My mam worked in the cafe which was perfect as she walked out the back gate and into her workplace.

One of the cakes that was baked at Sandringham Golf Course's cafe was a  Pineapple Boiled Fruit Cake and it was always a star in the cake cabinet. No fancy icing or decorations just fruit cake, moist, sweet and delicious and well enjoyed by many a golfer.

I decided to make recreate this cake... I did actually have the original recipe once but it has been misplaced somewhere in my travels so here is my take on what I can remember.

Boiled Pineapple Fruit Cake

Serves: 12 - 16

150 grams butter, coarsely cubed
1 cup brown sugar
440 grams can crushed pineapple
500 grams mixed dried fruit
100 grams candied cherries, chopped
2 tablespoons brandy
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 150 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Grease a 20 cm round cake tin and line the base with nonstick baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, pineapple and juice in a saucepan, then stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Stir in dried fruit and brandy and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl to completely cool.

Stir in the eggs.

Then stir in the flours, baking soda and spices, sifted together.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface.

Bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool cake in the tin before turning out.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Herbed Honey Mustard Dressing

Summer is around the corner so begins the Alfresco dining season or as we would say here Down Under it's ""Barbie Time....

I must admit though I do get sick of salads in Summer.... when I say I get sick of them I mean that I get sick of eating the same boring salad with the same boring dressing all the time.  So I do try and jazz it up here and there.

It was a beautiful balmy night in fact the weather has been beautiful here in Melbourne for the last days, hopefully showing us that this Summer will be filled with lush weather, nice temperatures and lots of sun.   We went to our friends last night, Bernie's for I guess our first official BBQ of the season.

My mission was to bring a salad.... which not a hard call but automatically got me thinking ok and "now for the dressing????" whilst I was preparing and platting all the salad up.  Something different for sure.

Move over French or Italian Dressing - hold the mayo!!!   I decided on this Herbed Honey Mustard Dressing to give the salad a zing... and that it did.  

A creamy little sweet, little spicy sauce with a hint of oregano....

Success - it was perfect.... I was happy with my salad!!!  LOL!!!

Herbed Honey Mustard Dressing 

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon American (yellow) mustard
1 tablespoon dried oregano

In a two cup mixing jug combine all ingredients until mixed through.

Put in fridge and allow to stand for at least 2 hours for flavours to develop if time permits.


(Can be stored in a sealed jar in fridge for up to 1 month, stirring/shaking well before use)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Creamy Potato and Prosciutto Bake

As well as experimenting with lasagne recipes I also love tyring different potato bake recipes.  We already have a couple of family favourites already such as Potato, Onion and Bacon Bake (creamy and comforting) and Potato, Carrot and Onion Bake (which is my personal favourite and so full of flavour).


There was never no chance of not trying this recipe - creamy base, layers of potato and sweet potato topped with crispy prosciutto and melted cheese..... heaven in a casserole dish.

I love sweet potato as the flavour is so different than that of normal potato and adds such depth to this dish.  The saltiness of the prosciutto added another element along with it's crunchiness as a topping.

Sadly or maybe not sadly, this decadent potato bake is more like a main meal rather than a nice side dish.  I wasn't complaining though.... as I thought it was perfect just by itself.  It guess it could be a side if you can use portion control.... yikes!

Creamy Potato and Prosciutto Bake
(Recipe adapted from WW Ultimate Comfort Food)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
500 grams potatoes, thinly sliced
500 grams sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
cooking spray
100 grams baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup light evaporated milk
freshly ground black pepper
100 grams grated tasty cheese
100 grams prosciutto slices, fat trimmed, torn
1/2 bunch fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced. 

Heat oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Cook leek, stirring occasionally, for 8 - 10 minutes or until softened.  

Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave potato and sweet potato separately, until almost tender.

Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer potatoes, leek and spinach in the prepared dish, finishing with potato.  Pour over evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with 3/4 of the cheese and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and top with prosciutto, thyme and remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until prosciutto is crisp and golden.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Noodle and Vegetable Salad

Noodles are positively delicious - I love them either hot or cold.  

This Noodle and Vegetable Salad is one of my favourites.  I make a huge batch of it and we can take it to work for lunches throughout the week. Best of all this noodle salad is jam packed with vegetables and lots of Asian-fused flavours.  

The vegetables are of the season so you can really use whatever you wish, therefore it can be basic or as interesting as you wish it to be.  

Ultimately a very easy salad (or side dish) to make.  It can be eaten either cold as intended or even warmed through.  I actually like it both ways.  I have also been known to freeze the salad when we have eaten enough and use for quick and tasty lunch boxes.

Noodle and Vegetable Salad
(recipe adapted from WW Everyday Low Point Cooking)

Serves: 4

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
4 cups cooked egg noodles
4 spring onions, sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
100 grams snow peas, shredded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

In a 2 cup jug mix together the sesame oil, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce and lime juice until combined.

Lightly steam or microwave the asparagus pieces until tender.  Rinse in cold water until cool.

Place asparagus, noodles, spring onion, capsicum, carrot and snow peas in large bowl.  Drizzle with the sauce.

Toss gently to combine all ingredients.

Place into four takeaway containers (if desired) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jo's Tex Mex Beef Burger

Every now and then all one craves is a Burger and not a tacky takeaway mass produced like McDonald's or Hungry Jacks one either except of course in a hungover state they are indeed pretty comforting.

This burger was made even better by the fact that we minced our own beef to create the patty.  The patty itself was so different being freshly minced with nothing added to it except for some salt and pepper.

A soft bap, some coleslaw, guacamole, sliced cheese, onion, grilled pineapple, jalapenos, and a dollop of homemade Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce and to be perfectly honest I was in Burger Heaven!!!!

This now has to be my all time favourite burger even if I made it up myself.

Jo's Tex Mex Beef Burger

Serves: 4

1 kilogram diced chuck steak (or minced beef)
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1 brown onion, sliced
1 ripe avocado
440 gram tin sliced pineapple rings, drained
4 soft white Bap rolls or rolls of your choice
4 slices tasty cheese
1 cup coleslaw
sliced pickled jalapeno's to taste

Using a grinding attachment to the mixer put the diced chuck through the grinder on the rough (thickest) blade first.  Then change blades to the finer setting and push the meat through again.  In a large bowl season the mince with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Mix well.  Form into 4 round balls and place on a plate.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes.

Cut avocado in half, remove stone, and scoop flesh out of each half.  Place in a medium bowl.  Add the taco seasoning and mix well.  Place in fridge.

Heat grill or large frying pan.  Add oil and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5 - 10 minutes or until onions are softened.

Place burgers on the grill and flatten to desired thickness.  Cook over medium- high heat for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through, only turning once.

Place pineapple slices on the grill or in frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side.

Cut bap rolls in half and place on individual plates.  Place two tablespoons of avocado mixture on the bottom bun and spread over to cover.

Then assemble the stack with the beef burger, onions, cheese, jalapeno's and pineapple.  Dollop with 1 tablespoon of Chipolte and Molasses Steak Sauce, top with 1/4 cup coleslaw and the bun lid.

Grab in both hands and enjoy...... have napkins ready.

Noel getting his mince on..... LOL!!!  The key is to mince the meat twice.  Put it through the rough setting first and then through the finer grinding blade.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ricotta, Mixed Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagne

As Garfield once said "Once again I'm saved by the miracle of... lasagne!"
I have to agree... one of my favourite pastas to experiment with is Lasagne sheets.  We have tried making so many different lasagnes and they have all been yum!  To be honest I just think it's all about the layers.  Layers and layers of fillings, sauces, flavours.....
This one, a vegetarian delight, is very simple to make.  Not as many ingredients in this one as I have used in others, but I was really happy with the outcome. 

To be honest, being a meat lover, I was a little worried about this dish while I was assembling.  Putting in it in the oven I prayed that all of us would enjoy dinner or it would be frozen meals of our own choice.  Surprisingly... it was nice.  The flavours of the mushrooms and the zucchini noticeable throughout each layer, with the slight hint of chilli and herbs.

Very enjoyable and such a nice change to the normal meaty lasagne.

Ricotta, Mixed Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagne
(recipe adapted from WW Program Cookbook 2015)
Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 9
cooking spray
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
400 grams button mushrooms, thinly sliced
400 grams Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 x 400 gram can diced tomatoes
1 - 2 teaspoons crushed chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper
4 large zucchini, coarsely grated
1 kilogram reduced fat fresh ricotta cheese
2 egg, lightly whisked
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 lasagne sheets
1 cup grated reduced fat tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Lightly spray a large ovenproof dish with oil.

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.  Remove half the onion mixture and set aside.  Add combined mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or untl tender.

Add tomatoes and chilli flakes and bring to the boil.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Squeeze excess liquid from zucchini.  Combine zucchini, ricotta, reserved onion mixture, eggs and oregano in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon one third of the mushroom mixture over based of prepared dish.  Top with 1 lasagne sheet.  Spread with one third of the ricotta mxture.  Continue layering with remaining mushroom mixture, lasagne sheets and ricotta mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. 

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing

While purchasing Stout for another recipe, my husband was questioned by the Irish salesman if he was planning to drink the stout. 

My husband replied "No we are using it to marinate pork ribs in."

The salesman said "oh the best cake I have ever eaten was a Chocolate Stout Cake".

Of course Noel came home and told me of this conversation and then, needless to say, I was on a baking mission.....  Chocolate Stout Cake!!

As usual Google produced so many different versions of this cake so I ended up combining a few ideas from here and there.....

The result - MAGNIFICENT!!  A little fiddly to make but definitely worth the effort.

Even hubby sent me a Facebook message telling me "this is one of the yummiest cakes I have eaten and is in my top 5 of all time favourites, so moist and a great balance  of chocolate flavour without the sugar overload and icing/frosting marries perfectly with the sponge, would it work with vanilla sponge?  Another reason why I love you so much xxx :)"

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing

Serves: 12
1 cup Stout or Guinness beer
350 grams butter
100 grams cocoa powder
400 grams caster sugar
2/3 cup lite (fat reduced) sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
500­ grams sifted chocolate icing mixture
100 grams sifted icing sugar
250 grams reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream (or to taste)

Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray and line a 23cm (9") spring form pan or cake tin.

Melt 250 grams butter into the Guinness in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and take the saucepan off the heat.

Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined, than add to the beer mixture.

Whisk in the flour and bicarb until combined.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for an hour. The middle of the cake may still be slightly wet when you take the cake out, but it will firm up as it cools down.  Leave to cool completely in the tin as it is quite a damp cake and could collapse.

To make the icing cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.  Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated.

Add in Baileys. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.

Spread over top of completely cooled cake.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ratatouille with Eggs

Eggplant - aubergine - eggplant - aubergine.....
What ever you call this sexy purple little number it's definitely a winner.  Eggplant, I have since found out is actually a fruit.  It's a species of nightshade grown specifically for it's edible fruit which is widely used in cooking, most famously as one of the key ingredients in Moussaka and Ratatouille. Eggplant is low in fat, protein, and carbohydrates but sadly it contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals.
The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Eggplant, due to its texture and bulk, can be used as a meat substitute suitable for vegan/vegetarian recipes. The fruit flesh is smooth, as in the related tomato (hahaha another fruit) and the skin is edible.  From chutneys, curries, baked dishes or even meat filled eggplants are such a versatile ingredient used in the cuisine of many countries.

But for a vitamin packed brunch (breakfast) we had this veggie and "fruit" medley - definitely the perfect start to Sunday morning.  Eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onions and herbs enveloped in tomato sauce served with eggs and turkish bread.... mmmmmmmmm!!!

Minus the eggs (and toast) this Ratatouille is the perfect side dish for barbecue meats etc..... just saying!!

Ratatouille with Eggs
(Recipe adapted from WW Double Up Dinners Cookbook)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 fresh or dried bay leaf
6 fresh thyme sprigs, with extra to serve
2 medium eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes
500grams zucchinis, sliced in half lengthways and thickly sliced
2 red capsicums, cut into 3cm cubes
200 grams button mushroom, sliced
2 x 400grams can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 - 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
12 eggs

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-hight heat.
Cook onion, garlie, bay leaves and thyme sprigs, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add eggplant, zucchini, capsicums, mushrooms, tomatoes, oregano and chilli flakes.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and mixture thickens.  Discard bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Heat a non stick frying pan over high heat.  Fry eggs to your liking.  Top ratatoille with eggs and extra thyme. 
Serve with toasted bread of your choice, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Goan Chicken Curry

Ooohhh la la.... "spice kick central"!!  The aroma's, the flavours, the heat......This chicken curry dish was magnificent.
I have probably mentioned this before but I love making curries from scratch.  Not a fan of premade jar pastes... there is something very therapeutic about the whole proccess of measuring, mixing, blending and cooking with the outcome so fresh, fragrant and worth the effort.

Goa is an Indian state located along India's west coast.  It is a tropical climate which means that the spices and the flavours are intense.  Chicken, lamb, seafood, coconut milk rice and  spices are some of the main ingredients in the Goan Cuisine.
I will have to admit there is quite a bit of heat in this saucy little number... a bit too hot for the boy but hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed.  There was a hint of coconut in each spice filled mouthfull which definitely left the tastebuds jumping for joy.
And yes it was way better the next day - just like all good curries should be.

Goan Chicken Curry
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 7
30 grams shredded coconut
3 long dried red chillies
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 garlic cloves
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup chicken stock
500 gram lean chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed, halved
fresh coriander leaves

Cook coconut ina medium non stick frying pan over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden.  Set aside.
Reduce heat to low and using the same pan cook the chillies, cloves, star anise, corriander seeds, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, tumeric and cinnamon, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Remove from heat.
Place coconut and spice mixture in a mortar and pestle and grind until very fine.
Place garlic and half the onion in a food processor and process to form a paste.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook remaining onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add coconut mixture and onion paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add stock and chicken and bring to the boil.  reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, turning chicken once, for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Transfer chicken to a plate.
Simmer sauce for 8 minutes or until thickened,.  Return chicken to pan and cook until heated through.  Serve with fresh coriander and steamed basmati rice, adding 3 PPTs for 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce

Nothing beats a chargrilled steak except of course a chargrilled steak with yummy sauce.  I found this recipe on another foodie site, Flanboyant Eats, and instantly knew I had to try it.

Unlike most sauces this one had NO cooking - using a premade sauce as it's base and the addition of few other ingredients - voila I had a steak sauce made in 5 minutes.

I liked it... a nice hint of heat from the Chipotle combined with the already existent flavour of the HP Sauce and added niceness of cumin..... 

Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce
(recipe adapted from Flanboyant Eats)
Makes: 1 cup 

8 tablespoons HP Sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Chipotle hot sauce
1/2 teaspoons cumin
pinch salt

In medium jug add HP sauce, molasses and Worcestershire sauce and stir with metal whisk.

Add remaining ingredients and whisk until molasses is well incorporated.

Set aside until ready to use or bottle for later use.

Broccoli, Mushroom and Onion Medley

I love broccoli but not normally as a side dish. Why? I hate the fact it goes cold really quickly (so does cauliflower) on the plate when it's sitting there waiting to be eaten.

We had char-grilled steak for dinner and I wanted to incorporate this stunning vitamin packed vegetable into our meal.. And we did!

I will admit I enlisted the assistance of Google and of course my friends on Facebook and received lots of good suggestions. I especially loved my Uncle Poppy's suggestion of putting it in a plastic bag, microwave it and then eat it from the bag!! I guess it would go cold on the plate then LOL!

I settled on a medley, a quick stir fry, of broccoli, mushrooms and onions! So simple - quick, easy, and super tasty!!

And more importantly - it stayed warm!!!

Broccoli, Mushroom and Onion Medley

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
200 grams button mushrooms, quartered
1 red onion, sliced

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Add garlic, broccoli, mushrooms and onions.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender.

Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spicy Pork, Black Bean, Eggplant and Mushroom Hot Pot

We are sneaking in a few meals this week using different ingredients as our daughter is away on holidays in Japan.  Yes we are cooking with foods she's not a fan off.... LOL!!  Generally I will boast that both my kids have very cultured palates but we are still working on a few ingredients that sometimes don't get to be cooked due to dislikes.  Eggplants and mushrooms are two avoided vegetables with her.  Apparently it's a texture thing.

Needless to say I thought this dish was wonderful.  Full of flavour and easy to make.  I was actually surprised that it was prepared in a flash and cooked in the oven.
I am not a fan of premade black bean sauce so I did use salted black beans (which I purchased at an Asian food store) making the black bean flavour a little more subtle and not as harsh in my opinion. 

Teamed with steamed Choy Sum and plain noodles I nearly thought I was in Asian for a moment.

Spicy Pork, Black Bean, Eggplant and Mushroom Hot Pot
(recipe adapted from WW Program Cookbook 2015)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 11

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
1 red onion, finely chopped
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
500 grams lean pork mince
4 tablespoons drained salted black beans (or 2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce)
1 cup water
440 gram packet egg noodles
2 bunches choy sum, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Heat half the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over high heat.  Cook eggplant, stirring, in batches, for 2 - 3 minutes or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining oil to the dish.  Cook onion and mushroom, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic, ginger and chilli.  Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.

Return eggplant to pan with black beans and water.  Bring back to the boil.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or until pork mixture is thick and eggplant is very tender.

Cook noodles as per the packet instructions.  Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile boil, steam or microwave choy sum until tender.  Drain.

Serve hot pot with choy sum and noodles.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Springtime Alfredo Pasta with Bacon

Finally it's Spring (well officially it has been for 14 days now).  It's a beautiful time of the year!

I love Spring - new flowers growing and blooming, warmer weather, longer light hours (daylight savings is around the corner) and the new season fruit and vegetables are starting to appear in the supermarket produce section.

Everyone's favourite is pasta - such a fabulous comfort food especially creamy pasta.  Alfredo is one of my daughter's "to die for" sauces and to be honest if asked it would be a toss up between Alfredo or Carbonara every single time if I allowed her to choose the sauce for the pasta dish.

Now you may see a few changes with the blog and I am pleased to announce that we will be moving over to a website in the near future.... change is good though.  I am working on it so that's a positive.  The other change is that I am no longer a member of Weight Watchers for a variety of reasons and therefore loose access to the online tools where I build in many recipes to receive the ProPoints per serve.  Where I can I will try and add them to the recipes but don't stress I will still endeavour to post healthier options of recipes etc.

Springtime Alfredo Pasta with Bacon

Serves: 4

250 grams fettuccine or pasta of your choice
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
250grams reduced fat bacon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red capsicum, chopped
400 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthways and sliced
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 x 375ml can light evaporated milk
1/3 cup extra light cream
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water as instructed on the packet or until just tender. Drain and return to pan.

Meanwhile steam, microwave or boil broccoli until just tender.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and bacon, cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until onion is softened.  Add garlic, capsicum, mushrooms, zucchini and water.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes or until capsicum is tender.

Place cornflour and 1/4 cup evaporated milk in a jug and whisk well.  Add remaining evaporated milk to jug.  Add to the vegetable mixture and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens.  Add the cream, parmesan and the broccoli and stir until heated through.

Add the vegetable mixture to the pasta and stir gently to combine.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Balinese Chicken Curry

Well it's been another quiet spell for me blogging our cooking adventures and as per usual it's the same excuse... TOO BUSY!!  Finally the football season is over all bar a couple of functions and then that is it for 2015.  Now to resume the off season normality and focus on my other passions... A Dash Of Flavour being one of them.

Balinese Chicken Curry can only be described in one work - LUSH!!  It was magnificent, easy and moreish.  The curry paste was made from scratch (my favourite type of curry paste) and all up I would say it was on the table within the hour.

Bursting with flavours this curry did remind me somewhat of a Thai curry.  The chilli wasn't overpowering, great considering the kids were eating with us) but you could easily make it hotter to suit your tastes.  I loved the zing of the kaffir lime leaves combined with the creamy coconut curry and the melt in the mouth chicken.....  mmmmmm.
This has been requested to be cooked again.. so it must have been ok?

Balinese Chicken Curry
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 7

1 red onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons roasted unsalted peanuts
1 large red chilli or 2 small fresh red chillis (depending on heat), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
2 teaspoons sunflower or canola oil
400ml can light coconut milk
4 x 150g lean skiness chicken thigh cutlets, fat trimmed
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
Process onion, garlic, ginger, peanuts, chillies, ground coriander and tumeric in a food processor until spice mix is smooth. 
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook spice paste, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Stir in coconut milk and bring to the boil.
Add chicken and lime leaves.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens.  Serve topped with coriander.
If desired, serve with steamed Asian Greens (0 ProPoints ) and 1/2 cup steamed rice (4 ProPoints).

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

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
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
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.