Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Colin Fassnidge's Lamb Bolognese

Well I have a little obsession with My Kitchen Rules (MKR) and MasterChef.  Obviously people that know me would just roll their eyes into the back of their heads reading this.  I especially love watching the celebrity chefs on both shows, saying this one of my favourite chefs is Colin Fassnidge.

I came across this recipe on awhile ago while doing my second favourite pastime - googling! I don't normally cook with lamb mince but intrigue by the complexity of the flavours but the simplicity of the ingredients.  So it went on my "to cook list".

Menu planning this week, which I do every Saturday morning, I decided this would be our dinner one night.  Ironically I chose Monday night.  Whilst preparing dinner and watching MKR here I stood in the kitchen stiring Colin Fassnidge's Lamb Bolognese only to be watching him on the TV!!!  (Insert school girl giggle here!!)

Anyways I wasn't wrong about this dish... it was magical and such a welcome change from the good ol' spag bol my kids have grown to hate (apparently I have gone overboard in the hiding vegetables category in the normal bolognese sauce).  Everyone enjoyed.  The texture of the lamb mince compared to using beef was a change and the use of fresh herbs lifted the sauce to another level.  A surprise ingredient was a fennel bulb which wasn't overpowering and didn't leave an aniseed taste - in fact I would say it added a little sweetness to the sauce. 

The cooking process was quite simple and once the last ingredient was added all that was left was for it to simmer and thicken.  While this was happening the house filled with the combination of the fresh herbs and tomatoes - you know what I mean - it's that welcoming smell of home cooked goodness!

Overall, a magic pasta sauce which will definitely please anyone and will be cooked again.  Thanks Colin xx

Colin Fassnidge's Lamb Bolognese
(Recipe adapted from

Serves: 6
SP per serve:  9

500 grams lamb mince
2 onions, diced
1 baby fennel, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ bunch each thyme, leaves picked and chopped
 ¼ bunch rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
¼ bunch sage, leaves picked and chopped
100ml white wine
2 cups sugo (or tomato passata)
2 cups chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
400 grams tagliatelle
Grated Parmesan to serve, if desired

Place a large heavy-based pan over high heat. Add mince, and cook for 8 minutes or until excess liquid has evaporated, breaking up larger pieces with a spoon. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pan, add onion, fennel and carrot. Cook 7 minutes, stirring regularly. Add garlic and herbs, and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Return mince to the pan and combine.

Add wine and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add sugo and stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 40 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain.

When sauce is ready, serve, and top with Parmesan, if desired.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Spicy Prawn & Scallop Fettuccine

While hubby and I are absolute self confessed foodaholics there are times (not many) that we are actually over food.  This obvious happens after we have eaten too well for too long.  Every now and then we fancy something plain Jane and easy.  This often includes Eggs, Beans and Chips for dinner which the kids think is actually fantastic by the way.

Tonight, after eating an abundance of good food between Christmas through to Australia Day weekend (last weekend) we both fancied something simple and easy yet full of flavour.  Funnily enough we both fancied seafood but didn't want anything Asian as we had just had lunch in Chinatown the previous Sunday.  Plus we always seem to cook prawns and scallops with an Asian influence.

While googling recipes, my next favourite hobby after cooking, I came across an Aussie blogger and her website Em's Food for Friends.  Let me tell you I am so glad that I did.  A really good read, full of recipes and delicious pictures.  And thats where I found a recipe for Spicy Prawn and Scallop Spaghetti.  From that moment dinner was sorted although there would be a few small alterations.

I didn't cut the prawns and scallops up as I prefer them whole.  I did however remove the shells of the tails of the prawns as that is a PET HATE of mine when you go to a restaurant and order a dish where you use cutlery and you have to battle prawn tail shells.  I am also not a fan of the roe on scallops so I purchase scallops with the roe already removed.  If you like the roe, add that in it too.

Overall this seafood laced pasta dish was magic. Starting with the simplicity of cooking all components right through to eating perfectly cooked seafood and pasta in a chilli, garlic and lemon tomato based sauce.  Both hubby and I were really surprised by the dish we will now also put on our comfort food list especially when we fancy something different.  We will definitely be cooking this again.

Spicy Prawn & Scallop Fettuccine
(Recipe adapted from Ems Food For Friends)

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per Serve:

300 gram fettuccine or pasta of your choice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
400 gram tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup reduced fat cream
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
freshly cracked pepper
600 grams raw green prawn meat, cleaned and patted dry
400 grams scallops, without roe, cleaned and patted dry
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Cook your pasta according to packet instructions.  When almost al dente, drain and set aside.

Heat a large fry pan and add a little olive oil. Lightly fry the garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes for approximately 1 minute.

Pour in the lemon juice and wine.

Allow to reduce for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cream and sugar, season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer.

Fold the scallops, prawns and 2 tablespoons parsley through the simmering sauce.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer.

Add the pasta to the pan.

Toss well to combine.

Place in a large serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve immediately.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Baked Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken

Welcome to 2019!  Yes I am aware that it is nearly the end of January so I am a little behind.  To be honest, January has been a very hard and busy month with some days being unforgiving and others allowing us to create some beautiful memories.

As many of you may know, we moved house at the end of October so the last few months of 2018 were kind of busy especially working full time and trying to unpack a house in time for Christmas.  Christmas, my favourite time of the year, was held at our house this year.  It was extra special with several family members arriving from interstate and staying with us.

My mam nearly didn't make it as she is battling (and kicking arse) with Breast Cancer.  She was diagnosed in August and has several operations to remove the tumour, which we have been told was a success.  To ensure that all the gremlins are out of her body her doctor advised that she undergo Chemotherapy more as a preventative measure rather than a treatment.  The chemo sessions were fast tracked and she actually didn't know if she would get to spend Christmas in Melbourne with us.  However mam underwent her first chemo on the 19th December in Brisbane and arrived in Melbourne on the 20th.  She looked fantastic, she was in good spirits and somewhat good heath during her visit.  The chemo didn't really hit her that hard (as you hear horror stories from other people's journeys) but her visit was only short due to having to return to Queensland for her 2nd chemo session on the 7th January.

Not only was my mam with us for Christmas and the New Year but as was my gorgeous sister Clare and niece Charlie.  They live in Sydney and came down for a few weeks, spending most of the time with her's and Noel's parents, but as she does every year celebrates New Years with us.  We also had the pleasure of having my Aunty Maggie, who lives in Anna Bay (near Newcastle, NSW).  Aunty Maggie and I are both January babies with her birthday being on the 7th and mine being on the 8th.  This special year my Aunty turned 80 and even though we haven't celebrated our birthday's together for many years - we did this year and it was beautiful to be able to do so.

Needless to say with everything going on in December and January, I have had to focus on me and my family.  A little selfish but I am sure, totally understandable.  Saying this the house as we know it is starting to return to some sort of normality and while I didn't stop cooking during our absence I am truly looking forward to getting back in to trying new dishes and sharing them with you all.

This said, I had been dying to try this recipe not only due to simple mention of a Jalapeño Poppers but because it's ingredients including several of my favourite foods - bacon, cheese and Jalapeños!  Not to mention it being stuffed chicken dish.  I love cutting into a chicken kiev or really any stuffed chicken dish and watching the fillings ooze out... mmmmmm.

Speaking of Jalapeño Poppers here a few of our favourites:
This dish, as mentioned, is flavoursome due to the bacon, two types of cheese and the ever popular Jalapeño.  The flavours literally melted together and produced this creamy filling the tantalised the taste buds. The coating was crisp and laced with mixed herbs.  I used Gluten Free rice crumbs but you could use normal bread crumbs or even Panko for extra crispiness.  To get the coating to stick to the chicken a combination of lime juice and olive oil did the job perfectly.

Jalapeños, like all chillis, are very interesting as you never know the intensity of the heat that they will produce.  Removing the seeds and the membranes does reduce the heat associated with chillis but then sometimes you just get a bloody hot chilli with or without the seeds and membrane!

Rolling up this parcel of goodness was a little fiddly.  To be honest I probably put too much filling in considering a few of my chicken breast fillets were a little small.  But overall not upset as I created a nice sauce also to serve on the side.

Everyone enjoyed the combination of flavours, the textures and the overall dish.  Every mouthfull was creamy, smoky, and spicy laced with lime and herb crumbs.  Well worth the effort - thank you Gina for sharing this and many more "Skinny Taste" recipes.

Baked Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken
(Recipe adapted from

Serves: 4
SmartPoints per serve: 6

cooking spray
100 grams center cut bacon
4 skinless chicken breast fillets
2 spring onions, finely sliced
3 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds for milder)
85 grams reduced fat cream cheese, softened
110 grams reduced fat grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup Gluten Free rice crumbs
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1 1/2 juicy limes, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Place one chicken fillet between two pieces of grease proof paper and using a kitchen mallet or rolling bin flatten until each is of an even thickness.

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Spray with cooking spray and cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan to cool.

Finely slice spring onions.

Finely dice jalapenos, removing seeds and membranes if you prefer a milder heat.

Place cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapeño and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.

Mix well to combine.

Lay chicken fillets on a working surface and evening spread the cream cheese mixture on each fillet.

Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.

Place breadcrumbs and mixed herbs in a bowl.  Mix well.

In a second bowl combine olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Dip chicken in lime-oil mixture.

Then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish.

Repeat with the remaining chicken.

When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray.

Bake 22-25 minutes, serve immediately.

Serve with 0 SP salad, if desired.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sticky Oven Barbecue Ribs

If you really want to see 2 kilograms of ribs disappear really quickly - I suggest you cook this recipe!

Saturday night feast had us smacking our lips and licking our fingers with this Sticky Oven Barbecue Ribs recipe.  And to say it beats restaurant or takeaway ribs is a total understatement.  Once you cook these I am guessing that you will hesitate to even order ribs at a restaurant or as a takeaway again.

One thing I do love is preparing and cooking easy yet flavoursome food - and to be perfectly honest this recipe was very easy to prepare taking about 15 minutes in total.  Slow cooked, giving me time to do other things, however devoured in minutes!  

I seasoned the pork ribs with a magic combination of herbs and let them rest in the fridge for around 8 hours (you can just rub the seasoning in and cook straight away).  Smelling these cook low and slow in the oven made coming into the kitchen irresistible as the aroma was very inviting.  Hints of garlic, cumin and chilli filled the air - definitely couldn't wait to eat these.

The sticky barbecue sauce, added to the ribs towards the end of the cooking time, was super easy to prepare also.  Add as little or as much cayenne powder to suit your palette (we added a fair bit but we like spicy) pop them back into the oven for 10 minutes and your fork free dining is ready.  Slice them or serve them as full racks with or without chips, salad!  So many choices.... just have serviettes or napkins on hand.

I am sure that these ribs won't last long - they didn't at ours!  

Sticky Oven Barbecue Ribs
(recipe adapted from Cafe Delites)

Serves: 4 - 6

2 kilograms American Style pork ribs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Cayenne powder or chilli
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (500ml) barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 - 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (optional for heat)
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine together garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin and chili or Cayenne. 

Sprinkle seasoning over ribs on both sides.  Place in a glass casserole dish cover with cling film and marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours - longer if time permits.

Place on a baking sheet or tray lined with foil and baking paper.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  

Cover tray with foil and bake for 2 hours, turning over once during the cooking time.

Mix together remaining ingredients to make the sauce.

Remove ribs from the oven, remove foil and spread the tops of the ribs with the barbecue sauce mixture.

Increase oven temperature to 240 degrees Celsius.  Return ribs to the oven, uncovered, and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Rest for 10 minutes before slicing or serving.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Chilli and Tomato Mussels with Basil

Well we are still busy at the new place - to be honest it looks like an episode of hoarders however with having only been there just over 3 weeks we have made some progress. Rooms are slowly being set up, boxes are getting unpacked one by one or targeted if we desperately need something (that's if we remember which box it's in) and it is starting to feel like home.  However needless to say we are all extremely exhausted and running on empty.and at times enthusiasm.  This year is Christmas at our house and a few important visitors in December so we need to be consistent with our unpacking and organising. 

After another big weekend Sunday's supper needed to be quick and easy.  I knew it would be supper as we had gone out for a Yum Cha lunch at Maxim Saigon, Springvale, with our good friends Kelee and Dave.  While out shopping Saturday morning I noticed mussels in the fish shop and with not having them for such a long time possibly due to seasonal reasons I knew exactly what we were having.  I had all these big plans for them but literally I had hit the wall by the evening.

Thankfully my husband took the reigns and made supper a success. It was a magic dish - mussels with a splash of wine, laced with chilli and tomatoes with flavoursome basil tones.  Noel's creation was on the table within 30 minutes and the majority of the time was spent doing preparation.  If you love mussels you should definitely give this dish a try.

Chilli and Tomato Mussels with Basil
(Recipe courtesy of Noel Murray)

Serves: 4
Smart Points per serve: 5

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 red cayenne chillis, sliced (deseeded if preferred)
2 green cayenne chillis, sliced (deseeded if preferred)
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
6 truss tomatoes, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch basil, stalks removed
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
1 cup dry white wine
2 kilograms mussels, cleaned (debearded and rinsed)

Add olive oil to a large pan or wok and heat over medium heat.

Add the onion, chilli, garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring regularly, for approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until onion has softened. Season with black pepper.

Stir through the basil and cook until starting to wilt and the mix is fragrant.

Mix together the water and chicken stock in a small jug. Add chicken stock and wine to the pan, stir and bring to a simmer.

Increase heat to high and add the mussels. Give it a quick stir and cover with a lid. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3-4 minutes until all have opened.

Remove from the heat and serve with some nice crusty bread if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Braised Beef Cheeks

We are back.... not that we really went anywhere!  More a case of being uber busy and overwhelmed with life.  Jobs (both hubby and mine) have been very intense of late - mine has been all year.  We have a teenager living out her last year of high school and in the midst of exams as I type and to top it all off we decided to move house.

Moving house has brought it's ups and downs. The ups being a bigger house, including an extra bedroom and a swimming pool, along with a bigger and brighter kitchen.  The downs obviously being packing and moving everything given that we were at the last house for 10 years.

The kitchen is pretty much sorted however the rest of the house looks like an episode of Hoarders.  Needless to say I manage to cook over the weekend which I was determined to do as I am totally over takeaways after the previous weekend.

Armed with my trusty slow cooker (well one of the four that I own) I decided some tender Braised Beef Cheeks and Garlic Mash would fit the bill nicely for an easy dinner.  And I wasn't wrong at all.  The beef cheek melted in your mouth not to mention the herb and chilli infused sauce married with them perfectly.  I left the seeds in the chillis I used as I have not been finding them to have a high heat rating of late but you can deseed them if you wish.  The trick for a richer sauce is to ensure that your brown the meat well.  The darker the tones on the cheeks at this stage, the richer the sauce will be.

Beef cheeks are something that you definitely need to cook low and slow - so obviously the slow cooker is perfect for this.  However the original recipe was cooked on a stove top (both instructions for cooking are below).

Braised Beef Cheeks
(recipe adapted from Good Food)

Serves: 4

freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large beef cheeks
1 brown onion, diced
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 long red chillies, deseeded (if desired) and finely chopped
2 tins diced tomatoes
560 ml bottle red wine
½ bunch rosemary, finely chopped
½ bunch thyme, finely chopped
½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

Season the beef cheeks, both sides, with salt and pepper.

Put a large cast-iron pot or large heavy based frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil, add the beef cheeks and brown them in the pot. Remove the cheeks from the pot and place in slow cooker vessel.

To the same pot add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes, red wine, rosemary and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Add the tomato sauce to the beef cheeks, put the lid on and cook on low for 8 - 9 hours.

Serve with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.

Stove top instructions:

Season the beef cheeks, both sides, with salt and pepper.

Put a large cast-iron pot or large heavy based frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil, add the beef cheeks and brown them in the pot. Remove the cheeks from the pot and set aside.

To the same pot add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes, red wine, rosemary and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Add the beef cheeks, put the lid on and simmer on the stove for 2-3 hours.

Serve with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)