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)

Spice Roasted Pumpkin and Ricotta Brushetta

OMG I don't think I have ever mentioned on here that my favourite place to go to enjoy fresh farm produce and wine is Green Olive at Red Hill, right here on the Mornington Peninsula.  Noel and I actually attended a sausage making class there and enjoyed ourselves so much that we often go there just to enjoy their tapas style menu and sit, relaxing, enjoying the views which look over the winery,  the paddocks normally full with sheep grazing and the dam with the ducks waddling about.  (I have added some of our recent photos after the recipe.)

Why is this bruschetta so enjoyable?  To be honest I would never have strayed away from the traditional bruschetta made with tomatoes, red onion and feta until we went to Green Olive.  Roasted Pumpkin with cumin until tender, slightly mashed and served on crusty bread with ricotta.  It makes your taste buds dance - trust me!

Now the chefs at Green Olive actually serve this magnificent treat with Salsa Verde but we did not have this one hand (or the ingredients) so I improvised and drizzled balsamic glaze over the toppings.  It was still very nice (however if you live near the Mornington Peninsula do yourself a flavour and visit Green Olive).


Spice Roasted Pumpkin and Ricotta Brushetta
(recipe adapted from Green Olive)

Serves: 4

250 grams Jap pumpkin, peeled and diced large
cooking spray
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
8 slices crusty bread
olive oil
100 grams rocket leaves
100 grams fresh low fat ricotta
balsamic glaze, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 189 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spray with cooking spray.  Place pumpkin on baking tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with cumin seeds.  Spray pumpkin with a light layer of cooking spray.  Cook, turning once, for 20 - 25 minutes or until tender.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat grill.  Brush with olive oil and place under the grill until lightly toasted.  Turn over and repeat with other side of bread.  Remove from grill.

Mash pumpkin lightly, retaining some shape and texture.

Place bread slices on serving plate or individual plates.

Place the rocket leaves on the bread slices.

Top evenly with pumpkin. 

Sprinkle ricotta randomly over the pumpkin.

Drizzle balsamic glaze over the bruschetta.

Serve immediately.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)





Saturday, October 8, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Our princess Alexandria will eat pasta every day if we let her.  She enjoys pasta more than anything in the world.  As a special treat I thought I would cook one of her all time favourites - Mac and Cheese.  Of course, there had to be a twist.  I added bacon and onion to the mix to make it a one pot dish for her dinner.

This has to be one of the easiest pasta dishes to make - it's creamy and gooey texture screams comfort food with every mouthful.  The soft pasta is so tender it almost melts in your mouth and being enveloped with the cheesy sauce is just a perfect partnership but made more so tempting with bacon pieces scattered through the mix.  OMG - normally more than one serve is eaten.  Trust me you will be going back for more than seconds.....

Please note that you want to make more than the recipe - just simply double it.  Please resist adding more pasta and cheese!  Please resist the urge to add more pasta to stretch the recipe. You need a lot of sauce with that pasta.  As this is baked after both the pasta and sauce is cooked the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid while baking.  If you want a cheesier Mac and Cheese sprinkle more in between layers of pasta and on top - do not add extra cheese to the sauce as it will change the consistency in a bad way.


Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
(Recipe adapted from Kitchen Treaty)

Serves: 6 - 8

250 grams macaroni or pasta elbows (or pasta of your choice)
cooking spray
1 brown onion, finely diced
150 grams bacon, diced (or more if desired)
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top
2 1/2 cups skim milk
3 cups grated medium cheddar cheese

Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside.

Spray a frying pan with cooking spray.  Heat over medium high heat.  Add onion and bacon.  Cook, stirring, for 5 - 8 minutes or until onion has softened and bacon starting to crisp.  Remove from heat and drain on paper towel.  Once cooled add to the pasta.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour, salt, mustard, pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika. With a wooden spoon or whisk, stir constantly for three minutes.

Add the milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Continue to stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat and add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss gently until all of the pasta is coated.

Add half the pasta to a large casserole dish (I used a 20cm x 30cm baking dish). Sprinkle on half the cheese. Add the rest of the pasta. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, then dust lightly with the smoked paprika.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the mac and cheese starts getting a slightly dry and a tiny bit brown on top.

Serve or eat straight from the casserole dish LOL.


(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Chilli Con Carne Tortilla Stack

Mexican is always one of my go to comfort foods but then again so is Chinese, British - oh who am I kidding most food is my comfort food!!  What can I say as you have probably gathered I love food, not just eating but cooking whether its following a recipe and making it up as I go along.
 
With that being said let me start this again...
 
Mexican is one of my go to foods when I want to cook something so full of flavour and something that is generally quick and easy.  This Chilli Con Carne Tortilla Stack is a recipe that covers both taste and fits perfectly into a midweek wonder.
 
Layers of the soft flour tortillas and a slightly spicy sauce filled with meat, vegetables and kidney beans make for a different dish rather than taco's or burritos.   I use our Homemade Taco Seasoning, which is hotter than the packet mix, which needs to be half the packet amount.  You can however, use more and enjoy a spicier version.
 
This simple yet flavoursome meal will definitely please and will have your family asking you for more.... mine enjoy it that much that I actually make two every time.


Chilli Con Carne Tortilla Bake

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500 grams extra lean beef mince
15 grams homemade taco seasoning or 30 grma packet taco mix
2 x 410 gram can diced tomatoes
420 gram can red kidney beans, drained
1 cup water
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
½ cup frozen corn kernels
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
8 extra light flour tortillas/burritos
200 gram jar mild taco sauce or salsa
1 cup grated reduced fat tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.

Add mince and taco seasoning. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until browned.

Add tomatoes, beans, water, capsicum and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until capsicums are soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line a 22cm deep spring form pan with baking paper and spray with cooking spray. Place one tortilla at the base of the spring form pan. Place two ladleful's of the beef mixture in pan. Top with another tortilla. Continue until the top layer is the last tortilla.

Top stack with taco sauce or salsa and sprinkle with cheese.

Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted and golden. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Place on serving dish and remove spring form pan sides.

Serve with mixed salad leaves, sour cream and extra salsa if desired.


(Click here to get a printable copy of this recipe)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I love baking - it's wonderful to be able to get lots of different ingredients and put them in a big bowl, make a batter and cook only to find the outcome to be a moist soft cake that just screams homemade. I can walk passed cakes in shop windows but seldom manage to resist something that has been freshly baked with love and effort.

On a recent trip to Ikea in Springvale Alex was upset that there was no longer any carrot cake in the cafe - it was one of her (and my) favourite treats from the cafe.  We have to stop at the cafe which is half way (it's actually half way in every Ikea store) as it's really hard work shopping at Ikea.  This time she had a princess cake after her meatballs so she was still happy.

I decided, after reading so many versions of carrot cake over the years, that I give it a go and treat Alexandria to her favourite cake of all time.  Unsure on which was the best recipe to use as there are so many different ones out there strangely a recipe popped up in my Facebook news feed and thought this is the one that I am meant to cook.  So thanks to Canadian Living Magazine I present to you Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

The cake is so moist - every mouthful was a pleasure to eat.  The combination of carrots, pineapple and walnuts mixed with the cinnamon and the nutmeg was heaven and actually reminded me of days long ago when I was visiting my gorgeous friend Debbie and her family in Mississauga, Canada.  Ahhhh memories......

The velvety cream cheese icing was delicious with a hint of real vanilla.  I don't ever use the imitation vanilla essence. I always use Queen Natural Vanilla Concentrate Extract.  It is a lot stronger and half the quantity is only needed.  It has a nicer and more noticeable natural vanilla taste than the artificial flavour of the essence.  Once you use it in baking you will not use the essence again.

Sprinkled with some more crushed walnuts and you will really enjoy treating yourself to this delicious cake..... 


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
(Recipe sourced from Canadian Living Magazine)

Serves: 10 -12

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup drained crushed canned pineapple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if preferred)
250 gram package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup crushed walnuts for decoration (if desired)

Grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin (or 2 smaller ones) set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together granulated and brown sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth; pour over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake in center of 180°C oven for 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack.

In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in icing sugar, one-third at a time, until smooth. Spread over top of cake.

Sprinkle with crushed walnuts for decoration.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Oven Baked BBQ Beef Ribs

To say that we really enjoy pork ribs is an understatement - this house goes mad for them.  However there is also a sneaky admiration for thick cut beef ribs (or short ribs as they can be known by). There is nothing more enjoyable than slow cooked beef ribs that are tender and melt in your mouth.  Now normally I would marinade them in an Asian influenced style sauce and slow cook for 8 hours in my trusty slow cooker but this time I decided to try an American BBQ based recipe and I am so glad that we did.

Half way through making the dry rub, when I realized that I didn't have any Cajun Seasoning and had to make my own (lol a recipe within a recipe), I knew just from the combination of the herbs and spices that these beef ribs were going to have so much flavour not to mention a little kick of heat with having both chilli and cajun seasoning in the mix.  I marinade these overnight to allow the flavours to develop.

Slow cooked in the oven on a very low temperature for 4 hours ensured that these nice plump beef ribs were tender and fell off the bone.  The addition of the BBQ sauce in the last step not only added the sweetness but also the stickiness that gave you a reason to lick your fingers to ensure you savour every mouthful.

It was the AFL Grand Final today and these ribs would be our dinner after watching the match. Not really an traditional Aussie meal (we ate party pies during the game) but OMG I enjoyed these ribs, and so did the others, and will definitely be cooking them again.     


Oven Baked BBQ Beef Ribs
(Recipe adapted from Diva's Can Cook)

Serves: 8

2 kilograms meaty beef ribs
 2 - 3 tablespoons Liquid smoke (optional)
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoon cajun seasoning
4 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon paprika
4 teaspoons oregano
 4 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ Sauce

Rinse ribs and dry with paper towels
.
Douse dry ribs with liquid smoke if using.

Lightly coat ribs in olive oil.

Mix together seasoning and sprinkle generously over ribs, front and back.


Massage the spices into the ribs, adding more olive oil to help distribute the spices well if needed.


Place the ribs in a large ziplock bag or covered bowl and marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.

Place the ribs on a foil lined baking tray in a single layer.

Add another piece of foil on top to create a pouch for the ribs to cook in. Be sure to seal the edges of the foil so that it's tight and steam won't seep out.

Bake on the middle rack of 3½ -4 hours. Check on it after the 3½ hour mark.


When the ribs are done to your liking, drain off the excess fat.

Brush the ribs with desired amount of BBQ sauce.

Grill until the sauce is sticky.


Serve with oven baked potato wedges and coleslaw.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)