Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes

To accompany the Chicken Parmesan Bake I decided that as I had already broken the mould of the traditional Chicken Parmigiana I may as well go all out and not serve it with hot chips.  

Instead I decide that I would take some baby chat potatoes and toss them in some herbs, bake them in the oven and voila a really nice and tasty side dish.  Everyone loves oregano and crispy potatoes - who doesn't love potatoes anyway?  I decided to add some chilli sprinkles to give them a little lift.

Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes

Serves: 6

1 kilogram baby Chat potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl combine potatoes, oil, oregano, chilli and salt.  Mix well.

Lay in single layer on baking tray.

Bake in oven for 30 - 45 minutes, turning several times, or until crispy and golden.

Serve immediately.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

It's no secret in our circle of family and friends that both my kids (and even my son's girlfriend) are massive fans of Chicken Parmigiana - every time that we go out for dinner to a bistro it's almost instant when I ask have you decided what you want for dinner the instant reply (unless something really catches their eye) is Chicken Parmigiana, Chips and Salad.  

I am going to be totally honest here - I am not a fan of Chicken Parmigiana!  Yep!  I find the deep fried crumbed chicken fillet at times greasy along with the generally rather large amount of melted cheese on top too much for me.. too much grease on some occasions.  Sadly I just don't get the phenomena!! And I sasy phenomena as it seems to be people's most go to dish when they are out for dinner.

So with this in mind, I came across an American recipe for Chicken Parmesan Casserole.  After a little more reading I actually found many different versions of the same casserole (as we do with most American recipes depending on with US State you live in).  Many different versions from whether the tomato sauce is on the top or the bottom, whether you crumb the chicken and fry it beforehand or whether you use croutons in the topping..... so in my quest to please the family I morphed a few recipes together and came up with "my" version (like Jo has never done that before - I can see my family rolling their eyes in the back of their heads LOL).

I have to say that this dish is absolutely amazing.  For a start it was very easy to prepare not to mention cook.  I am not overly fussed with plain tomato passata so I add the element of making a quick tomato sauce to top the chicken fillets with.  If you want to use a jar or two of plain or herbed passata or pasta sauce please go right ahead. That will only make this recipe even easier.

Yes it was cheesy - the gooey mozzeralla layer laced with fresh basil was soft and comforting.  I know the cheese is a major component to the parmigiana.  And for those who do like the crumbs, they are not omitted completely.  Panko breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and parsley make a beautiful crunchy topping - completing the dish perfectly.  

Even though I did not serve with the traditional hot chips - I served it with Oregano and Chilli Crispy Potatoes and salad, I do have to say this dish was a hit at the House of Murray and I am sure that it will be when served at yours also.  You may just want to double the recipe - just like I did!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Serves 4

cooking spray
1 onion, finely diced
1 bottle tomato passata 660 gram
1 can diced tomatoes 440 gram
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
4 skinless chicken breast fillets, visible fat removed
ground white pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
20 grams fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheeses
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and heat over low heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened.  Add passata and tomatoes.  Season with black pepper.  Simmer until thickened and liquid has slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.  Place olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes in casserole dish and stir to combine.  Ensure this is spread around the surface of the dish.  Place chicken breast fillets in a single layer in the dish.  Season with salt and pepper.

Evenly spread the tomato mixture over the chicken fillets.

Top with mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle basil over mozzarella.

In a bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Spread evenly over the mozzarella.

Bake in oven for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Beef and Mushroom Casserole with Parmesan Dumplings

Another winter warmer to make an appearance on this blog is Beef and Mushroom Casserole with Parmesan Dumplings.  

Who could want more on a colder evening that fills you to your toes? A nice thick rich beef casserole with mushrooms and thyme as the main stars with secretly hidden carrots and zucchini complimented with nice soft dumplings laced with Parmesan cheese.  

This recipe was slow cooked in the oven but could easily be cooked in a slow cooker for those that need to be prepared (normally I have the slow cooker on at least 3 times a week in our house).

Beef and Mushroom Casserole with Parmesan Dumplings
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)

Serves: 8

1.5 kilograms gravy beef, cut into 2cm chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onion, chopped
10 bacon rashes, chopped
500 grams button mushrooms, halved
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
2 cans 400 grams chopped tomatoes
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
4 carrots, peeled and grated
2 zucchini, grated
freshly ground black pepper
75 grams butter
3 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup fresh parmesan grated
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Brown diced beef in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Transfer to plate.

To the same pan add onion, bacon, mushrooms, garlic and cook until soft. Stir in flour.

Add beef stock, red wine, tomatoes, thyme and smoked paprika. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add carrots and zucchini.  Return beef to the mixture and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon into a large ovenproof dish.

Cook covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally or until beef is tender.

Increase oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl rub butter into self-raising flour. Stir in Parmesan and milk. Bring together. Roll into 24 balls. Place on casserole mixture.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Alternatively slow cooker directions:

Place in beef mixture in a slow cooker vessel and cook on low for 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Transfer mixture into a large oven proof dish.

Make dumplings as above and place on casserole mixture.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve with steamed vegetables.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Well it's definitely been a long time between posts for me and to be honest I have so many recipes backed up it's kind of embarrassing.  We at the House of Murray have been ridiculously busy with life in it's entirety.... work, school, junior and senior football, etc., that by the time we sit down we fall asleep.  Oh well, I guess a busy life is still so much better than no life, correct?

I have been eyeing off carious recipes for sometime as we have been experimenting quite a bit with Chicken Wings over the last few months with one of our favourite recipes being Heston's Barbecue Chicken Wings and of course, the recipe that started our wing obsession off Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing.

This recipe not only lives up to it's name with the stickiness of the sauce but the wings are also mega crunchy.   Baked in the oven makes them a win win in the fat stakes also but they could easily be deep fried if preferred.  I liked the fact that the wings are quickly tossed in the sauce just before serving and that the wings were not cooked in the sauce as then they would not have that crispy crunch.  The sprinkle of crushed peanuts and spring onions over the top added to the texture and the flavour which only made the dish even yummier.

We were lucky enough to buy nice sized wingettes (no wing tip or drumstick) but you could use the full chicken wing if you prefer - that's totally up to you and wouldn't change this recipe at all.

Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Serves: 6
SmartPoints per serve: ?

2 kilograms chicken wingettes
1/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
cooking spray
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 tablespoon chilli sauce (such as Maggi)
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped roasted peanut
2 spring onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Rinse and pat dry chicken wings with paper towel.

In a large snap lock bag combine flour, salt and pepper.  Add chicken, seal and toss until chicken is covered with the flour mixture.

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.  Spray with cooking spray.  Line the chicken wings on the tray in a single layer and spray with cooking spray.  Cook in oven for 20 minutes, turn over and increase oven heat to 220 degrees Celsius.  Continue to cook for a further 20 minutes or until crispy.

In a small sauce pan, combine the garlic, ginger, chilli sauce, tomato sauce, honey, and soy sauce together. Simmer on lower heat until thickened and slightly sticky.

Toss the chicken wings and coat well with the sauce.

Transfer the chicken wings onto a serving platter, top with peanut and spring onions.

Serve immediately.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spicy Pork Meatballs with Spaghetti

Pasta is one of those dishes that even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy... ultimately pasta is a comfort food for many.  In our house it is definitely held in high regard when you just want to eat something for the soul and to make you feel better about everything.

Today, with having a full day of football ahead, I knew that we need a quick easy dinner that when we got home from football.  Knowing all I had to do was to make the tomato sauce and cooked pasta, this ensured that we had an hearty Sunday night dinner but I wasn't spending all evening in the kitchen.  While I made this recipe today in halves - in total it would take less than 45 minutes to take this dish from kitchen to table so it would be a perfect weeknight wonder also.

I quickly made some yummy bite size meatballs, pork laced with thyme, chilli and as usual, hidden vegetables.  These were baked in the other rather than fried in an effort to reduce the fat content of adding extra oil.    The meatballs themselves, can be cooked at an earlier date, cooled and frozen in preparation for this dish or another.

The tomato sauce, in this instance, was a very easy mix very similar to a Marinara Sauce.  Tomatoes, simmered with onions until thickened laced with a little sweetness to compliment the herbs and spices in the meatballs.

Serve with a pasta of your choice.  In our house it's Meatballs with Spaghetti - just like in that memorable Disney movie Lady and the Tramp.  Whichever pasta you choose I am sure this will become a favourite on your menu.

Spicy Pork Meatballs with Spaghetti

Serves: 8

cooking spray
1 kilogram lean minced pork
2 onions, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 zucchini, grated
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed chilli or sambal oelek
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 brown onion, finely diced, additional
2 cans diced tomatoes 
2 cup water
1 tablespoon white sugar
freshly ground black pepper
spaghetti or pasta of your choice
grated Parmesan Cheese, for serving
dried chilli flakes, optional

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Spray with cooking spray.

Place pork, onions, carrots, zucchini, garlic, chilli paste, tomato paste, pepper, thyme, parsley and paprika in a very large bowl.  Mix, using your hands, until well combined.  Shape pork mixture into 48 evenly sized meatballs.  

Place meatballs on a baking tray in a single layer.  Bake in oven for 30 or until browned, turning several times during cooking.

Meanwhile spray a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add tomatoes, water and sugar. Season with salt black pepper. Bring to the boil, stirring, reduce heat to a simmer.

Remove meatballs from oven and add to the tomato mixture carefully.  Stir gently to mix through and simmer until thickened and liquid has slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is simmering, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook spaghetti or pasta as per the directions on the packet.  Drain.

Serve spaghetti or pasta topped with the meatballs and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and additional chilli flakes, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

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
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
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
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.