Sunday, February 26, 2017

Barbecued Cheesy Capsicums

Well now I have started I am going to keep going... yes these will be dishes that we have cooked over the last month or so but I need to do this and I am trying to catch up.  It's very interesting the life that we are all dealt.  Mine changes direction every now and then!  Different situations present themselves with different options and it takes ones focus to complete, fix or defeat.  It's just the journey of life.  I've decided, that while my life often seems full, I need to make the most out of every day from here on in.

Blogging is something that I do really enjoy doing.  It's like being a teacher and sharing your knowledge. We enjoy cooking and eating lots of variety in food - while many of you think that what we cook is way over the top we need you to understand it's all about the flavour not the recipe. Don't get me wrong one of our favourite family dishes is Eggs Beans and Chips, trust me there is pure excitement when that's on the weekly menu planner.  However the majority of our recipes are easy - however some have some interesting elements.  Our aim with this blog is just to share ideas, especially low fat healthy recipes (as we are human - not all are), with you all.  If any of you try the recipes and enjoy the food we do - well that's fantastic.  Let us know -  we would love to hear your thoughts.

Anyhow enough said.....

This dish was something out of left field for my kids.... I will be honest I think there were mixed feelings once I put the platter on the table. My husband and I thought they were great, son enjoyed it but daughter didn't enjoy the texture of the capsicum!! LOL she is 15 and at the moment anything we cooked has the potential of having issues!

The capsicums filled with a cheesy egg mix incorporating corn, cheese and bacon were a much lighter dinner than meat and 3 veg but it made such a refreshing change.  Once prepared, cooked on the barbecue, these served with some rocket and sundried tomatoes made a refreshing change.


Barbecued Cheesy Capsicums
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Make It Fresh)

Serves; 4
SmartPoints per serve: 10

100 grams short cut bacon, fat trimmed, chopped
4 medium red capsicum (about 200 grams each)
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/3 cup low fat grated tasty cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, plus extra to garnish
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
80 grams rocket leaves
100 grams sun dried tomatoes not in oil

Preheat a hooded barbecue over medium heat.  (If you don't have a hooded barbecue, you can bake capsicums in an oven preheated to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan forced.)  

Lightly spray a small non-stick frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook bacon, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until browned and crisp.  Transfer to a large bowl, cool.

Cut each capsicum in half length ways.  Remove and discard core and seeds.  Place on a tray - cut a small sliver off the base of each capsicum if they don't sit flat.

Add corn, cheese and chives to the bacon and mix well.  Divide bacon mixture among capsicum halves.

Pour egg into capsicum halves.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Turn off burners under barbecue flat plate, leaving grill side on.  Place capsicum halves on flat plate and cook, with hood down, for 25 - 30 minutes or until egg has set. 

Remove from barbecue to a platter.  Sprinkle with extra chives and serve with rocket and sun dried tomatoes.







French Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

I might get this blogging caper happening as a regular happening at some stage in 2017 but I cannot believe that 57 days into the New Year and we still haven't stopped being very busy. Oh well I guess this is just life and how fast it goes by. So much has happened since my last blog (in all honesty without looking I couldn't say when that was). Work has been busy, footy training has started and we have already been on a holiday with the Murray side of the family and a road trip to NSW to visit family and friends in a whirlwind 5 day trip that was a MUST to do. We went to visit my Aunty Maureen and Uncle Dave. In just 10 short weeks we have lost someone very special to me and my family to terminal cancer - Aunty Maureen passed late Thursday evening after such a dignified and amazing journey. Both Mam and I will be attending the service on Friday in Sydney.

I first met my Aunty Maureen, Uncle Dave and my 3 cousins, Steven, Michelle and Alison (the Jones) at the age of 18 months. Strangely the first time I met them was on a Greek Ocean Liner called the Elinis. We were all on our way to start our new lives in Australia - this was in 1973. The Jones were coming from Liverpool. It was then that I also met more family - Lars, Pip, Marica and Annette who were from Finland and Rolf, Anchristin, Ingela and Anna from Sweden. Who would have thought 44 years ago that we would have all still remained so close. Distance may be an issue at times but to me growing up with all of these important people infiltrating my life at some stage, and still today, my life has been truly blessed. While we are not related by blood we are still very much family.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because of my Aunty Maureen. Even while she was sick every time we spoke she told me how she follows our cooking adventures on Facebook all the time and that she was always in awe of our food. She often would encourage me to take up a career in food because she knows that I have the passion for it. It's actually because of her that I am making the effort to post this today.

Today we had close friends Leigh and Lauren over for lunch with their two gorgeous daughters, Harlow and Lenni. Funnily they seem more like family to me than just friends. Knowing that they both love cheesecake, I decided to make my signature French Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries (to be honest have no idea why I haven't posted about this cheesecake before?) Harlow helped me to decorate the cheesecake just before serving which was a very special moment for me today.

This French Vanilla Cheesecake is so easy to make, is no bake and the vanilla flavour is to die for. It's not an overly sweet cheesecake and I think that the fresh berries are a perfect compliment to the creamy vanilla center. 

For the base today I used Marie Biscuits however you could actually use any biscuit flavour of your choice.  Depending on your pan and the thickness you press the crumb you may have some left over and that is perfectly fine.  Don't make it too thick or it will be hard to cut.  

The recipe calls for it to set overnight but to be perfectly honest 6 hours is long enough.  If you wanted to make a smaller one in a flan tin just half the recipe.

Do yourself a flavour and give it a go.....


French Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

Serves: 8

500g packet plain sweet biscuits (such as Marie)
400g butter, melted
600ml thickened cream, whipped
6 teaspoons powdered gelatine
3 tablespoons boiling water
1000g cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream, extra
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Fresh berries of your choice, to decorate

Grease a 20 cm round (base) spring-form pan. Using a food processor, process biscuits until fine crumbs. Add butter. Process until combined. Press the biscuit mixture over base and side of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream until thickened. Set aside.

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatine over boiling water in a heatproof jug. Whisk with a fork until gelatine has dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Gradually beat in gelatine mixture until combined. Fold in whipped cream. Pour mixture into prepared pan, leveling top with a spatula. Cover.

Refrigerate overnight or until set.

When ready to decorate, place cream and icing sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until thickened and forming peaks.

Remove the cheesecake from pan. Decorate top of cheesecake with whipped cream and fresh berries of your choice. Serve.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sticky Chilli Barbecue Chicken Cutlets

It feels like a lifetime since we've chatted about our cooking adventures (well it's been many weeks - actually nearly 2 months) and I have missed sharing our experiences on my blog. So here goes my first blog post for 2017. By the way, Happy New Year. I hope that 2017 is kind to you in every way possible.

2016 ended up being the year of unorganised chaos and frantic lifestyle and 2017 has pretty much started off the same way.  But it is what it is and more importantly through all the experiences in the past two months, both good and bad, it has made memories and learnings for all in the House of Murray.  Whilst we have been busy rest assured that we didn't' stop cooking.

So after finally deciding I needed to get my blogging arse back into gear I hope you enjoy this little number we prepared early (well early this evening!)  I say we but in all honesty I made the coleslaw and chopped the potatoes - Noel is responsible for marinating and cooking the chicken.

Sticky Chilli Barbecue Chicken Cutlets, perfect for a mid summers' evening dinner - in fact it tasted that good it would be perfect anytime of the year.  Sticky with a hint of heat and smokiness enveloped the tender juicy chicken - melt in your mouth perfect.

The Chilli component is completely up to your discretion - you can use what ever chilli sauce you like - mild, medium or hot.  Please bear in mind however that using sweet chilli sauce would only add to the sweetness.  We used Maggi Chilli Sauce but you could use Sirracha Sauce, which contains less sugar than most chilli sauces.  Add less sauce for less heat obviously.

Being a "sticky" dish it's quite high in sugars - therefore it's not a meal that should be eaten a lot if you are trying to lose weight but honestly if you want to treat yourself for one meal - this recipe should definitely be on your "to try" list,.  Obviously I will be attempting to modify the recipe to make it more Weight Watcher friendly in the near future.  But in the moment - I really enjoyed dinner tonight.



Sticky Chilli Barbecue Chicken Cutlets
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

Serves: 4

4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 lemon, rind coarsely chopped, juiced
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 (about 1.4kg) chicken thigh cutlets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/3 cup chilli sauce, to taste
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses or honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
5 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine water, salt, peppercorns, lemon juice and rind, thyme and sugar in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add chicken and stir to combine. Cover. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours to brine.

For the barbecue sauce, process all the ingredients until smooth. Bring to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Season. Reserve one-third of the sauce.

Heat a barbecue grill on medium. Drain chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towel. Rub with oil, then season. Cook the chicken, turning, for 10 minutes. Baste with marinade and continue cooking, basting generously with marinade and turning every 3 minutes, for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken with reserved sauce and sides of your choice.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Heston’s Barbecue Chicken Wings

Noel was on a mission recently to cook chicken wings.  This fascination started when we went to the Loch Festival with our gorjus friends Kelee and Dave.  We had the most devine Buffalo Chicken Wings there and the men have been talking about them ever since.

I love the fact that Noel loves to cook and he spends hours googling and reading recipes. However saying this he has been know to create his own marinades - successfully I might add. He recently came across this recipe for Heston Blumenthal's Barbecue Chicken Wings and talked about making them for a couple of weeks.  I have to admit they sounded good on paper but they were magnificent in real life.

To quote the great man himself Heston said "Chargrilled chicken wings slathered in a rich, sticky sauce has got to be one of the all-time barbecue classics. This recipe will have those wings flying off the barbecue faster than you can make them. A little lime marinade to season and soften the meat, a coating of sauce made from the gutsy, punchy flavours and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for a toasted note and some crunch – and you’re good to go. Especially with a cooling, easy-to-make blue cheese dip on the side."


Heston’s Barbecue Chicken Wings
(Recipe adapted from Waitrose.com)

Serves: 4 – 6

For the barbecue sauce
2 cups chicken stock
100 grams white caster sugar
100 mls rice wine vinegar
200 mls tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon mushroom oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce, to taste
2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

For the cheese dip:
300 grams blue cheese
300 ml soured cream

For the chicken wings:
juice of 4 limes
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon oil
1 kilogram chicken wings
50 grams sesame seeds, toasted

To make the barbecue sauce, place the chicken stock in a pan over medium-high heat and reduce until it is approximately 150 ml. Place another pan over medium heat, add the sugar and cook until a medium caramel is formed. Slowly add the rice wine vinegar while whisking until the caramel has dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

To make the blue cheese sauce, removing any rind from the cheese, chop into small pieces and add to a bowl with the soured cream, and use a hand blender to blitz until smooth if desired. Put into a small container and allow to stand in the fridge.

When ready to cook, place the juice, salt and oil in a bowl, add the wings and toss until well coated. Allow to stand in the fridge for 45 minutes. Once the time has elapsed, place the wings on the preheated barbecue and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, turning them every few minutes until cooked through with no pink meat. Once cooked, transfer the wings to the bowl with the barbecue sauce and toss to thickly coat. Remove and transfer the wings to a clean bowl then sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds.

Serve in a bowl with the cheese sauce, celery and any remaining barbecue sauce on the side.







Okonomiyaki お好み焼き - Japanese Vegetarian Pancake

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き o-konomi-yaki?) is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and yaki meaning "grill".

Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with the Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region. Tokyo okonomiyaki is usually smaller than a Hiroshima or Kansai okonomiyaki.

One of Alex's favourite meals is Okonomiyaki. I must admit I love them too.  Either a quick snack or a planned meal they are fantastic. They are jam packed full of goodness and a great way to use up vegetables.

While the traditional Okonomiyaki has cabbage as it's main ingredient and very few others, but you can, in fact, put anything you want into the mix and fry.  Many restaurants offer cooked pork mince, chicken, prawns, bacon, chinese sausage and even noodles - I guess the potential at home is endless.


Okonomiyaki お好み焼き - Japanese Vegetarian Pancake
(Recipe adapted from Okonomiyaki World)

Serves: 2

1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup Water (or Chicken stock)
2 eggs, whisked
Salt
ground white pepper
300 grams green cabbage, cut into strips
1 carrot, peeled and grated
100 grams fresh bean shoots
2 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
cooking spray
Kewpie Mayonnaise
Okonomi Sauce or Barbecue Sauce

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and water until smooth. Add in eggs mixing to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cabbage, carrot, bean shoots and ¾ of the onions and mix, but don't over mix.

Spray a non-stick frying pan cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add half the Okonomiyaki mixture.

Using a spatula flatten and form pancakes until around 1.5cm thick - approximately 30cm across.

After about 3 minutes, flip over pancake and cook for 4 minutes.

Flip pancake again and cook for 3 minutes or until firm and well browned.

Remove to plate and drizzle with Kewpie mayonnaise and Okonomi or Barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with remaining spring onion.

Eat quickly before someone near you takes your portion.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chicken, Cranberry and Pistachio Terrine

Once again,  I have tried to recreate a recipe from our favourite place, Green Olive at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula.  The description on the menu is Chicken Terrine, Pistachio, Cranberry, Garden Herbs and Farm Made Fruit Chutney.  And it is to die for......

My version is Chicken Terrine, Pistachio, Cranberry, Thyme, Parsley, Mustard and served with Green Olive Farm Made Fruit Chutney.

The verdict.... it was very nice. Compliments from hubby, Noel, and even from daughter Alexandria, who prior to trying it kindly told me "you know I don't like cold meat".

I used chicken breast fillet which I processed myself as I am not a fan of chicken mince. Never have been - to be honest there is just something about it and I do not like the smell of it at all. Therefore I have always processed my own.

This terrine was easier to make than what I thought it would have been.  The flavours worked well together (I guess they have to or Green Olive wouldn't serve it either).    

 
Chicken, Cranberry and Pistachio Terrine
(recipe adapted from taste.com)
 
Serves: 4 - 6
 
cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
750g chicken fillets, fat trimmed
140 grams fresh breadcrumbs, made from wholegrain bread
1/2 cup unsalted pistachio nuts , shelled
1/2 cup craisins, reduced sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
 
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, parsley and thyme and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are very soft. Cool slightly.
 
Place chicken in a food processor and blend until minced.
 
Combine the onion mixture, chicken mince, breadcrumbs, pistachio nuts, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and use your hands to mix well.
 
Overlap the long sides of a loaf pan with two 50cm lengths of foil by 8cm.  Line with baking paper and spray with cooking spray.
 
Place the chicken mixture into the baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.
 
Remove from the oven, pull back the foil and then drain off the juices.
 
Re-cover with the foil and then place the terrine in the fridge until cold.
 
Remove the foil and cut into slices and serve with the fruit chutney or relish of your choice.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Honey Sriracha Chicken Pizza

Saturday night "fakeaway" was blown out of the ball park tonight.
 
We have had quite a few pizzas of late so tonight I needed to find a different topping.  So I sat down with my favourite friend, Google, and proceeded to search for that something different.  And OMG when I found this recipe I knew it was what I was having for dinner.  My tastebuds exploded just reading the recipe.
 
Sriracha Chilli Sauce is quite hot and some people find it rough. It's a sauce that I have only predominantly used in Asian cooking.  The chicken mixture was very interesting - actually not too  sweet and not too spicy.  So to spice it up a little more I added jalapeños to the mix.   The bacon complimented the chicken so did the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. 
 
Every mouthful was a flavour burst - all combined together was magnificent.
 
Go on.. be adventurous give it a go!


Honey Sriracha Chicken Pizza
(Recipe adapted from tablespoon.com)

Makes: 1 large pizza

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sriracha chilli sauce
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
cooking spray
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
4 slices rindless bacon, cooked and chopped finely
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced jalapeños
8 baby Bocconcini balls or 1/4 cup grated mozzerella

In a small saucepan combine the honey, soy sauce, orange marmalade, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons sriracha. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Once the sauce is thickened, remove from the heat and add the chicken. Toss well.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius or light pizza oven.

Spray a non stick frying pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook over medium to high heat until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat.

Spray a pizza tray with cooking spray.

Shape dough onto pizza tray.

Cover the pizza with tomato paste.  Sprinkle with grated tasty cheese. Evenly spread with the chicken mixture.

Top with bacon , tomatoes, jalapeños and Bocconcini (mozzarella) over the top.
 
Cooked for 10 - 15 minutes or until base is crispy and cheese is golden and melted.
 
 

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Chicken Carbonara Pizza

Yes this can only be from a teenager.... Alex hates pizza but adores Chicken Carbonara Pizza! Go figure?  Normally Alex will eat everything else but pizza.  When we said we were having pizza tonight before she could complain I said do you want your Chicken Carbonara Pizza?  The answer was yes!
 
Having said this - it's one of the easiest pizzas to make!  Very few ingredients equals one happy teenager.  So as far as I am concerned it's a win-win.
 
We obviously use a home made pizza base but you could use a pre brought pizza base or pita bread - that's up to you.
 
I guess pizzas are great as you can choose your own toppings - but who can go wrong with juicy tender chicken smothered in everyone's favourite creamy cheesy bacon carbonara?
 
 
Chicken Carbonara Pizza
 
Serves: 2 hungry teenagers (LOL)
 
cooking spray
1 chicken fillet, diced
tomato paste, optional
425 gram tub of LaTina Creamy Carbonara
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius or light pizza oven.
 
Spray a non stick frying pan with cooking spray.  Add chicken and cook over medium to high heat until browned and cooked through.  Remove from heat.
 
Spray a pizza tray with cooking spray. 
 
Shape dough onto pizza tray.
 
Spread with tomato paste if using.
 
Top with cooked diced chicken.,
 
Smother with Creamy Carbonara Sauce.
 
Sprinkle evenly with grated cheese,.
 
Cooked for 10 - 15 minutes or until base is crispy and cheese is golden and melted.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)





Incredibly Easy Pizza Dough (or Bread Dough)

Noel is normally the pizza dough maker.  In fact I have to say the patience he has had experimenting with all types of pizza dough recipes has been great - I am sure that he has cursed the fact that we brought him a pizza oven for his birthday!  LOL!
 
Anyways, we tried this recipe the last time we made pizzas and it was really yum as a pizza base. The recipe doubles as bread day also, which I must say is great also.
 
It is a very light pizza base, once cooked.  A little sticky to work with - but Noel swears by the fact that the wetter the dough the better the pizza base.
 
 
Incredibly Easy Pizza Dough (or Bread Dough)
(recipe sourced from Poh's Kitchen)
 
Makes: 4 pizza bases or 2 loaves of bread
 
600 grams plain white flour (best to use good strong baker's flour - higher in protein)
4 teaspoons dried yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
400ml water

Mix one tablespoon of flour, the sugar and yeast with a couple of tablespoons of tepid water and allow to stand for 20 minutes.
 
In a large bowl mix flour, one tablespoon of olive oil and salt.
 
Add yeast mixture and enough water to make up a firm dough and mix well.
 
Cover bowl with damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.
 
Remove dough to a floured workbench and knead for five or six minutes.
 
Divide dough into 4 and shape onto pizza trays.  Top with your favourite toppings and bake.
 
To make bread:
 
Divide dough into two, knead each into a loaf shape, put in oiled bread tin, cover with damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.
 
Before baking, sprinkle surface of each loaf with flour.
 
Bake in moderately hot oven (200°C) for about 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bottom is light brown. Tap the bottom, it should sound hollow.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pork, Artichoke and Spinach Meatloaf

Meatloaf - just an easy dish to prepare and everyone loves it!  But the great thing about meatloaf is that you can honestly use any meat and any flavourings and it is always delicious.
 
Normally when we cook meatloaf we always use beef mince... not sure why?  Just seem to always do.  Well this time was totally different as I had found a recipe for a pork meatloaf that really intrigued me.
 
Pork mixed with spinach, home roasted capsicums, artichoke hearts - what a flavour combination.   The subtle hint of lemon and thyme gave the meatloaf a nice touch but the sticky topping finished the dish off perfectly.
 
As usual we had some beautiful soft bap rolls and accompanied with our favourite Creamy Coleslaw Supreme.
 
Quite simple to make, this dish can be cooked either in the oven or the slow cooker and I am sure your family will enjoy.
 
 
Pork, Artichoke and Spinach Meatloaf
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Real Food Slow)
 
Serves: 4
SmartPoints per serve: 8
 
cooking spray
2 red capsicum
500 grams lean pork mince
1 1/2 cups fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs
1 brown onion, finely chopped
300 grams artichoke hearts in brine, drained
100 grams baby spinach, chopped finely
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
 
Preheat grill.
 
Line a baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray.
 
Cut capsicum into quarters and deseed.  Place on baking tray skin side up.  Grill until black.  Turn off grill and remove capsicum and place in a plastic bag to sweat.  Allow to cool.  
 
Once cooled remove all the blackened skin from capsicum.  Chopped finely and place in large bowl.
 
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
 
Add mince, breadcrumbs, onion, artichoke, spinach, rind, juice, thyme and 2 tablespoons chilli sauce to capsicum.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix until well combined.
 
Line baking tray with cooking paper.  Shape mixture onto tray into a 20 cm x 10cm loaf shape.
 
 
Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
 
Combine remaining chilli sauce and tomato sauce in a small jug and spoon over top of meatloaf.
 
 
Return meatloaf to oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until cooked through.
 
To cook in slow cooker:
 
Shape mixture into 20 cm x 10 cm loaf shape in a 4.5 litre slow cooker. 
 
Combine remaining chilli sauce and tomato sauce in a small jug and spoon over top of meatloaf.
 
Cook, covered, on low for 6 hours (3 hours on high).
 
Serve with a salad, if desired.
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chicken with Walnut Sage Chilli and Lemon

Work has been so busy of late that my meals this week have been planned with two words in mind... quick and easy.  This recipe covered both quick and easy.

Plain Jane chicken fillets covered in a topping I would never have thought of cooking,  That is until I saw the recipe of course.

The chicken was tender and juicy while the crumble style topping was bursting with flavour.  The nuttiness of the walnuts combined with the garlic and chilli complimented each other with a burst every now and then from the crispy butter soaked sage leaves.

On the table in under an hour with the use of one baking dish and one frying pan.... a recipe perfectly made for mid week cooking.


Chicken with Walnut Sage Chilli and Lemon
(Recipe adapted from WW Eat Well Diabetes Cookbook)

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per serve: 8

700 grams baby potatoes
cooking spray
sea salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 x 150 gram lean chicken breast fillets
2 teaspoons reduced fat butter or spread
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1 long fresh red chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Spread potatoes on a large baking tray and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake, turning once hallway through cooking, for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden and tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cooked for 5 - 6 minutes each side or until cooked through.  Transfer to a plate.  Cover with foil and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Melt butter or spread in the same pan over medium heat.  Cook walnuts, garlic, sage and chilli, stirring for 5 minutes or until walnuts are golden.  Add juice and stir until heated through.  Season with black pepper, to taste.

Top chicken with walnut mixture and serve with baked potatoes and other steamed vegetables of your choice.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Creamy Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Enchiladas

There are two dishes I really definitely enjoy experimenting with - the first is lasagne and the second is enchiladas.  The potential for flavours is endless.

Lasagne and enchilada fillings can consist of anything... here are a few of our other creations, just to name a fewm, that have been enjoyed in the past.
This dish was no exception.  The flavours really complimented by a creamy white sauce smothered in cheese.  Yes this will also appear on the comfort food list as it really was so good.

Start by slow cooking the pork in the sauce and once cooled enough, shred and roll in the burrito wraps.  Very simple!  Without including the slow cooking time, this meal will be on the table in under 1 hour.

Strangely enough, there was no taco seasonings were used and you really wouldn't even realise that when you are eating it.  A combination of garlic, chilli and capsicum is the basic flavourings - to be honest it's amazing.


Creamy Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Enchiladas
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Eat Well Diabetes)

Serves: 6

cooking spray
500 grams lean pork neck or shoulder, fat trimmed
1 brown onion, diced
1 green capsicum, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
400 gram can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup corn kernels
30 grams low fat butter
30 grams plain flour
2 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
white pepper
6 low fat burrito
100 grams reduced grated fat tasty cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Lightly spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook pork, turning, for 5 minutes or until browned all over.  Remove from heat and place pork in slow cooker vessel.

Add onion, capsicum, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and apple cider vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.
Stir to combine.  

Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours or until pork is tender.  Leave to cool.

Once pork is cool, remove pork from sauce.  Using two forks, coarsely shred he pork apart.  Return pork to the sauce and add corn kernels.  Mix well to combine.

In a heavy based saucepan over medium-heat add butter.  Heat until melted and using a wooden spoon add flour, stirring continuously, until you form a roux.  Remove from heat.  Add milk and using a whisk, stir until roux is dissolved.  

Place saucepan back on stove over heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.  Lower heat, add mustard and season with white pepper.  Continue stirring until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat. 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.

Take one burrito and lay flat on chopping board or bench.  Top with 1/6 of the pulled pork mixure.  Roll up and place in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining burritos.

Smother the buritto rolls with white sauce.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and smoked paprika.

(Yes I doubled the recipe and made 2 - oops)

Place in oven and cook for 30 - 40 minutes until cooked through and cheese is melted and golden.

Enjoy with a leafy salad, if desired.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Brocollini

We hadn't had pasta for a while, or at least it seemed like it had been a long time.  I thought I would try a diabetes friendly creamy pasta dish.  Sounds to good to be true, right?

OMG it was yummy!  The flavours just burst in your mouth.  Heaven in a bowl - the comfort of a creamy sauce, tender chicken and soft pasta.  

I found the combination of lemon and rosemary really flavoursome - I was a little worried that it would taste more like a dessert with using the lemon but it was balance perfectly.  The chicken was moist and tender and the broccolini was just cooked to perfection.

Overall, this pasta dish was enjoyed by one and all.


Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccolini
(Recipe adapted from WW Eat Well Diabetes)

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per serve: 13

250 grams fettuccine pasta
2 bunches broccolini, coarsely chopped
cooking spray
500 grams lean chicken breast fillets, fat trimmed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
375 ml can evaporated skim milk

Cook fettuccine in a large saucepan of boiling water, following packet instructions, or until just tender.  Add broccolini for last 2 minutes of cooking, drain.

Meanwhile, stray a deep non-stick frying pan over high heat.  Cook chicken, stirring, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add garlic, lemon rind and rosemary and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a small jug combine cornflour, stock powder and 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and mix until smooth.

Add remaining milk to the pan with the chicken and bring to the boil.  Gradually stir in the cornflour mixture.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes or until mixture slightly thickens.

Add pasta and broccolini to pan with chicken and toss gently to coat in sauce and pasta is heat ed through.

Serve with a 0 SmartPoint salad and if desired freshly grated parmesan cheese (SP point value depending on quantity).

Blueberry Coconut and Banana Muffins

I'm pretty sure that these will be the last of the banana muffins for awhile as I have decided due to the lack of interest in eating them (my kids are on a non fruit vigil at the moment I am certain) I've decided to stop buying them for a while.  However saying this everyone at work has been enjoying my recently baked muffins, although I have been told that the Banana Crumble Muffins are still the favourite.

I really enjoyed this combination  - the juiciness of the blueberries combined with the added sweetness and nuttiness of the coconut added perfectly to the subtle undertones of the banana and cinnamon.  Personally I think this one is a winner!


Blueberry, Coconut and Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
Smart Points Per Serve: SP Warning

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium, ripe bananas
1 egg
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 grams frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add egg, oil, milk, cinnamon and vanilla and mix well.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until it just comes together

Fill prepared muffin tins evenly.

Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Nothing tastes better than making something at home that you normally buy premade at the shops. This is always the case with dressings, sauces, marinades and flavour mixes. Free from all the preservatives and nasty ingredients hidden by the manufacturer to ensure their product stays edible for what can at times be up the 3 or 4 years. I look at some labels and think to myself that there are more additives in some foods than there is actual real ingredients.

Tonight I decided to make some Ranch Dressing to go with our chicken fillets and salad.  Of course another perfect chance to use some of the wonderfully fresh herbs we have been growing.

This recipe is super easy and seriously you will not believe the difference in taste from it's bottled counterpart.  It will keep well in the fridge in a sealed jar for up to a week - that's if it lasts that long as it honestly tastes so good.


Homemade Ranch Dressing
(Recipe adapted from foodiecrush.com)

Makes: approx. 1 cup

6 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 tablespoons buttermilk
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoon champagne or white vinegar
2 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Add more buttermilk for desired consistency.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)


(home grown Italian Parsley)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Roast Tarragon Chicken with Creamy Sauce

Sunday is our roast day normally... sometimes it doesn't happen though more so during the winter months when it is Football season. So I try and ensure we have a roast once a week other times of the year.
 
Tonight we had Roast Tarragon Chicken with Creamy Sauce.  I was actually quite worried how this would be received as I am every time I cook a non Traditional roast.  No gravy - a creamy sauce instead.  No stuffing anywhere to be seen. Only lots of tarragon, lemons and roasted vegetables (even these were different to the norm).
 
Saying all of this, the chicken was absolutely tender and full of flavour.  Tarragon adds such a distinctive flavour, it is slightly bittersweet and has an aroma similar to anise.  One of it's most popular uses is in the well known Béarnaise Sauce.  The lemon added acidity but the overall taste was quite balanced.

It was really nice to have different vegetables roasted - all the flavours went well together.  And the creamy sauce.... well what can I say?  It was yum and possibly my new found favourite when it comes to serving with chicken!  Move over gravy.....


Roast Tarragon Chicken with Creamy Sauce
(Recipe sourced from Turn Up The Flavour Cookbook)
 
Serves: 4
SmartPoints per Serve: 9
 
1.2kg whole chicken, fat trimmed
cooking spray
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves, plus extra 2 teaspoons chopped for sauce
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
500 gram pumpkin, cut into 4 cm pieces
2 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 4 cm lengths
250 grams cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup light thickened cream
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan forced. 
 
Place chicken in a baking dish and spray with cooking spray.  Place 1/3 cup tarragon leaves in the chicken cavity.  Sprinkle chicken with remaining tarragon leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add lemon halves to dish.  Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.  Transfer chicken and lemon halves to a plate.  Cover with foil and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.  Reserve cooking juices in pan.
 
Meanwhile, line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Spread pumpkin, zucchini, asparagus and cherry tomatoes on tray.  L:ightly spray with cooking spray and cook with chicken for 40 minutes or until golden and tender.
 
Skim and discard fat from cooking juices.  Drain juices into a small saucepan.  Add cream and mustard and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.    Stir in extra chopped tarragon.
 
Sprinkle chicken with zest and drizzle with juice from the roasted lemon halves.  Serve with vegetables and sauce.
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Chunky Apple Sauce

We had Crumbed Pork Cutlets for dinner and of course, during cooking I realised that I didn't have a jar of Apple Sauce in the house.  It was too late to run down the shops and buy some and to be totally honest the thought of going to the shops for one item NEVER appeals to me especially at night.
 
Thankfully there were apples sitting in the fruit basket and I decided they would become our Apple Sauce!  Apple Sauce is a really simple and quick sauce to make.  After quickly Googling many recipes it can also be as Plain Jane or as decadent as you wish.
 
This recipe is a simple one - 4 ingredients plus salt and pepper if you desire (however I didn't use any). As there wasn't a large amount of sugar compared to some recipes it wasn't overly sugary yet it was naturally sweet from the apples.  I also prefer a chunkier style Apple Sauce but you can easily puree it in a food processer to be smooth.
 
Beats shop brought Apple Sauce any day......


Chunky Apple Sauce
(Recipe sourced from Taste.com)

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

2 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt, if required
ground white pepper, if required

Place apple, sugar, mixed spice, lemon juice and 1/4 cup cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until apple is tender.

Season with salt and pepper, if required.

Allow to cool and serve.

If you prefer a smooth apple sauce place mixture in a food processor. Process until smooth.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Creamy Coleslaw Supreme

One of my favourite side dishes is Coleslaw but have to be perfectly honest I dislike the usual shop brought bottled Coleslaw Dressing as it just tastes so dull (not to mention it's full of preservatives and nasties).

The best Coleslaw is homemade.   Crunchy salad ingredients smothered in a creamy mayonnaise.  Every mouthful exciting the tastebuds and full of flavour.  I add other vegetables into the mix rather than just the normal red and green cabbage - extra bonus adding to the flavour.

I have to admit that I like to dress this salad as close to serving as possible to ensure that it is super crunchy but it does stay crunchy for quite a while if mixed to take to a picnic or to a bbq.  I love it on burgers - in fact I make it nearly every time we have homemade burgers.

Once you have made this coleslaw you will never buy it from the deli again.  And best of all it's very easy to make.


Creamy Coleslaw Supreme

Serves: 6 - 8

3/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and grated
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 cup corn kernels

Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, black pepper, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until homogenous. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, sugar, and/or vinegar if desired.  Refrigerate until required.

Combine cabbage, carrot, spring onion and corn in a large bowl.  Mix well.

Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Banana and Double Choc Chip Muffins


When you have over ripe bananas there is no need to bin them... use them!!  In fact the "over riper" they are the better... and looking over at my fruit bowl I could see my bananas had hit that category.  Obviously the only thing to do was to make a batch of muffins...
 
My favourite muffin recipe to date using bananas is Banana Crumble Muffins, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed including work colleagues. This muffin recipe is one of the easiest to follow so I just adapted it to make this latest creation of Banana and Double Choc Chip Muffins.  Why double choc chip?  Because I used a mixture of dark and milk choc chips (actually 2 whole bags of each).
 
As per usual they were moist and light with the added sweetness of the chocolate randomly appearing with every mouthful....


Banana and Double Choc Chip Muffins
 
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium, ripe bananas
1 egg
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200 grams dark choc chips
200 grams milk choc chips
 
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
 
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
 
In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add egg, oil and vanilla and mix well.
 
Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until it just comes together
 
Fill prepared muffin tins evenly.
 
Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)