Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pasta with the lot

Why should only pizza get to have all the toppings when pasta tastes great with everything as well? Why not give your spag bol a makeover and clean out your veggie crisper with this delicious pasta dish.

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp crushed chilli
1 kg premium beef mince
400g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1/2 green capsicum, diced
1/2 yellow capsicum, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 Tbsp Sacla Olive and Tomato Pasta Sauce (or pesto)
1 jar Bolognese Pasta Sauce of your choice
400g tin whole tomatoes
10 Kalamata olives, pitted
1/4 cup red wine
pasta of your choice, cooked
parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat large saucepan over med-high heat and add oil. Sauté onions with garlic and chilli until soft.
Add mince and cook, breaking up large pieces, until cooked through.
Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add all remaining ingredients except pasta and simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes.
Stir through cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.


Serves 6

Monday, November 14, 2011

What's in season - November

For all of you Aussies out there find out which fruit and vegetables are at their very best and cheapest in November and get cooking!

Honeydew melons
Red papaya

Monday, November 7, 2011

Perfect mashed potatoes

For perfect mashed potatoes every time get yourself a potato ricer. There are a few different varieties but the common theme is that the ricer incorporates air into the potatoes, making the fluffiest, most luxurious mashed potatoes. But the best thing is that you will never have lumpy mash ever again!

The potatoes are prepared the same as for normal mash:
Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch pieces.
Place in a saucepan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer until fork tender.
Drain the water and place the drained potatoes back into a hot pan to help evaporate remaining water.
Spoon the potatoes into your ricer a few at a time and turn the handle or press down (depending on the design). The potatoes will be pressed through the holes in the die of the ricer (mine came with three different sizes). This is called "ricing." Perform this step over a bowl to catch the riced potatoes.
Continue to add more potatoes to the ricer until you have riced all of the potatoes.
Stir in warmed milk and butter with a fork and season to taste.

- add chopped chives
- add dry mustard powder
- add French Onion Soup packet mix
- make a Root Purée: try using the ricer for mashed summer squash, pumpkin, carrots, turnips, celery root, parsnip and sweet potato

Perfect hard boiled eggs every time!

If you are sick of getting a grey ring around the yolk of your hard boiled eggs give this method a try. You will get lovely yellow yolks without the ugly ring every time.

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1-2 inches.
Bring to the boil and take off the heat. Cover the eggs and allow to sit for 12 minutes.
Transfer eggs to a bowl filled with cold water.

For a quick snack add some sea salt and Dijonnaise (mix of Dijon mustard & mayonnaise) and gobble them up. Yum!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Granola à la Curtis Stone

This morning I stumbled across a YouTube video of Curtis Stone making Granola and decided to give it a go before I polished off all the almonds and dried apricots in the pantry. My kitchen smells divine right now!

Here is my version using a few different ingredients as I didn't have any pumpkin or sunflower seeds..

Makes about 6 cups

1/2 tsp plus 50g butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup (packed) golden-brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 Tbs sesame seeds
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 c sultanas

Accompaniments: plain yogurt or milk, fresh fruit such as peaches, apples or berries

Preheat oven to 170°C / 350°F. Not fan forced..

Lightly coat a large, heavy baking sheet with 1/2 tsp butter.

Combine remaining cup of butter, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Set aside.

Combine the oats, sesame seeds and almonds in a large bowl.

Drizzle the warm syrup over the oat mixture. Toss to coat well.

Transfer oat mixture to the prepared baking sheet, forming an even layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mixture is dry.

Stir in the apricots and sultanas, and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until the granola darkens slightly.

At this point the granola will be soft, but as it cools it will become crunchy.

Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let granola cool completely, I managed to wait about 20 mins before I just had to taste it... It will set into chunks; simply break it up into smaller pieces.

Enjoy with fresh fruit and yogurt or with cold milk.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Use coconut oil or grapeseed oil instead of butter
Other sweeteners like pure maple syrup can be used instead of honey
Substitute or add pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
Substitute or add raw walnuts, cashews, pecans or flax seeds
Substitute or add dried cherries and golden raisins
Try other dried fruit like cranberries, goji berries, chopped peaches or apricots

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This recipe can serve 4-6 but to keep the calories down you would probably want to stretch it to 6 by adding more water with the stock cubes. If you want to reduce the calorie count you may want to look for the lowest calorie bacon and four bean mix.

I usually use green cabbage but I thought that I would try red cabbage this time. But it coloured the soup and had a different flavour so I would recommend sticking to green cabbage..

4 rashers of bacon, diced
1 brown onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 small cabbage, shredded
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin four bean mix, drained and rinsed
1 tin Cannellini beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
1L beef stock
1 cup dried pasta (spirals or shells)
cracked black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Heat oil in a deep saucepan. Cook bacon, onion and garlic until onion is soft.
Add carrot, zucchini and cabbage. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, four bean mix, cannellini beans and beef stock and stir well.
Add pasta and crack some black pepper over the top and simmer until pasta is cooked.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Total: 1767 cal / 7380 kj

Per Serve (if serving 6): 294 cal / 1230 kj

Moroccan Chicken & Couscous

This is a quick and easy chicken dish which I have been making for years. I always have the ingredients on hand as they are all Staple Foods for me.

Serves 2

4 chicken thighs
Masterfoods Moroccan Seasoning
olive oil spray
1 cup couscous
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/8 cup sultanas

Heat griddle pan over high heat.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with Moroccan Seasoning on one side and place seasoned side down in pan. Fill a large clean saucepan with water and place on top of the chicken to weigh it down and create a delicious crust.
*Alternatively, spray both sides and place on a George Foreman Grill*
When chicken is golden brown turn it over, spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with Moroccan Seasoning and again place the full saucepan on top to weigh it down. Don't pour water on chicken!

In the meantime place chicken stock in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour in couscous, stir and cover. Allow to sit for 10 mins.

Dry fry pine nuts in a small fry pan until golden and toasted. Set aside.

Fluff up couscous with a fork and add olive oil and butter and fluff up until no clumps remain. Stir in pine nuts and sultanas.

Remove chicken from pan and slice on an angle.

Divide couscous between serving plates and top with chicken.

NOTE: Any leftovers are great heated up for lunch the next day or mixed in with salad.

My staple foods

I'm sure that every foodie has a standard selection of foods that can always be found in their pantry, fridge and freezer. I love to test out new recipes but when I'm in a rush or haven't planned anything for dinner it's great to be able to whip something up with what I have on hand. Here are some of my staple foods that I always make sure I have:

Cans - Diced Tomatoes, Whole Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Cannellini Beans, Coconut Milk or Coconut Flavoured Evaporated Milk, Tuna, Corn Kernels
Rice - Basmati, Brown & Arborio
Couscous - a great alternative to rice, here are some Couscous recipes for you to try
Dried Chickpeas, Lentils, Pasta & Noodles
Sugar - Brown, Palm, White, Caster
Sultanas, Dried Apricots & Dates
Pine Nuts, Almonds & Unsalted Roasted Peanuts - for a great Massaman Curry, unless I eat them all first...
Oils - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Olive Oil Spray, Sunflower Oil, Macadamia Oil - great for baking my Macadamia white chocolate and raspberry muffins
Sauces - Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Fish Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Kecap Manis
Vinegar - White Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar
Peanut Butter - smooth & crunchy for Satay Sauce or Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce and my Protein Balls
Pasta Sauce & Pesto
Plain & Self Raising Flour
Cocoa, Baking Powder, Bi-Carb Soda
Breadcrumbs - Panko are the best for my Panko-Crusted Eggplant Parmesan and Panko crusted veal schnitzel
Stock powder - Chicken, Beef & Vegetable
Herbs & Spices - Sea Salt, Black Peppercorns, Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Chinese Five Spice, Fennel, Garam Marsala, Curry Powder, Moroccan Seasoning, Tuscan Seasoning, Turmeric, Chilli, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Cloves, Bay Leaves, Oregano, Saffron

Free Range Eggs
Cheese - Tasty, Parmesan, Laughing Cow
Dijon Mustard & Seeded Mustard
Redcurrant or Cranberry Jelly - for turkey sandwiches & my Redcurrant & Rosemary Pork Cutlets
ETA BBQ Sauce - the best BBQ sauce!
Tomato Sauce
Lemon Juice & Lime Juice
Curry Paste - Red, Green, Massaman
Minced Garlic, Ginger & Chilli
Fresh Veggies - Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Capsicum, Green Beans, Snow Peas, Cucumber, Potatoes (I've discovered that in Brisbane you have to keep your potatoes in the fridge or they sprout super fast), Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin

Chicken Thighs
Premium Beef Mince - split up into 500g lots and squash flat before freezing. This will reduce thawing time significantly.
Chicken Pieces and Marylands - for a quick roast spray Chicken Marylands and some potatoes/sweet potatoes with Olive Oil Spray and sprinkle with Tuscan Seasoning and roast for 30-40 mins at 180C
Frozen peas and corn
Frozen berries - for a quick and easy smoothie
Grated Cheese - perfect for topping pasta bakes

Italian Parsley
Lettuce & Baby Spinach
Snow Peas
Onions - Red, Brown & Spring Onions

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red Chicken Curry

Last night I was craving a curry so I raided the fridge, freezer and pantry and found enough elements to whip up a delicious red chicken curry. I have been using coconut flavoured coconut milk lately to save on calories but of course you could substitute coconut milk.

Serves 2

1 Tbsp coconut oil
2-3 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
25g ginger, grated
2 chicken thighs (approx 300g), thinly sliced
250g cauliflower, broken into florets
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, halved and bruised
375ml light & creamy coconut flavoured coconut milk
1 Tbps brown sugar (or palm sugar)
1 cup hot chicken stock
1/3 red capsicum, thickly sliced
1/3 green capsicum, thickly sliced
1/3 yellow capsicum, thickly sliced
10 cherry tomatoes
2 dried kaffir lime leaves, sliced and soaked in warm water, drained
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
100g rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in warm water and drained
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
50g bean shoots, trimmed

Heat oil in wok on medium high heat. Add curry paste and ginger and cook, stirring over medium heat, for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Add chicken and cook, stirring over high heat for about 5 minutes.

Add cauliflower, carrots, lemongrass, evaporated milk, stock and sugar. Bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Add capsicum, tomatoes, kaffir lime leaves and half of the chilli. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Add noodles, fish sauce and lime juice and mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Garnish with bean shoots and the remaining chilli. Serve.

Vegetable Rice

Here is a quick and easy recipe using your rice cooker. It can be adapted to use up any vegetables that you have on hand. I only had green capsicum, cauliflower and frozen peas & corn so that's what I used. But this made it predominately green and gold - a great Aussie dish but it would look much better with some red capsicum to liven it up a bit. Swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock if you want to make this a vegetarian dish. You could also cut up some chicken thighs and toss them in as well.

Serves 2

1/2 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 green capsicum, diced
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2-3/4 cup basmati rice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot ground chilli (optional)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup frozen peas & corn
1 spring onion, sliced to serve
fresh green herbs to serve

Place all ingredients except spring onion and herbs in your rice cooker bowl and stir to combine. Switch to the Cook setting.

When it switches to the Warm setting remove the lid and fluff up. Spoon onto plates and top with spring onion and any other green herbs of your choosing.