Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pesto Pasta

If you want a really quick pasta to make, this really fits the bill. Not to mention after all the rich Christmas Food something "plain Jane" is something someone wants.. I know I really needed this last night.

Really it's only a matter of boiling the pasta, making the pesto, mixing through the pesto and voila it's done. Pesto itself is rather easy to make and done in a matter of minutes. There was quite a few of us last night eating this comfort dish but you could quite easily half the recipe.

Traditionally linguine is used with pesto but you can serve it with any pasta. Pesto sauce can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Ensure the pesto is tightly packed and seal the surface with some plastic wrap or pour some extra oil over the top to prevent the pesto from going black.

Pesto Pasta
(Recipe sourced from The Essential Pasta Cookbook)

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 7

500 grams pasta of your choice
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Cheese, optional
1/2 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook pasta as per the direction on the packet until al dente. Drain, return to the pan and keep warm.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the pine nuts to a heavy-based pan and stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool. Process the pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, salt and cheeses in a food processor for 20 seconds or until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

with the motor running, gradually add the oil in a tin steady stream until a past is formed. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss the sauce with the warm pasta until the pasta is well coated.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Mince Pies

I have to apologize for neglect as I have just been caught up in the Festive Season and all it's happenings. I did start this post before the jolly man came to visit but honestly haven't had a chance to sit down at the computer until now. Needless to say I am hoping that your Christmas definitely was jolly and now I am going to play catch up with things that we have cooked.

I am not going to boast that this is one of my christmas delights although I wish I could! These lovely Christmas Mince Pies were made by my Mam. This recipe for the pastry especially is one that she has been making for years and these mince pies definitely get requested every year by family and friends. The fact that the filling is just shop bought mince mixture doesn't even get noticed.

Mince Pies
(recipe courtesy of my Mam)
makes 4 dozen
points per serve: 2 (made with regular butter)
points per serve: 1.5 (made with reduced fat butter)

2 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup Self Raising flour.
pinch salt
185 grams butter or Ultra Light Spreadable (70% reduced fat)
1 cup icing sugar
2 egg yolks
a few drops of vanilla
approx. 1/4 cup water
large jar of Robertsons Fruit Mince
icing sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl mix flour, salt and butter until crumbly and resembling breadcrumbs. Add sifted icing sugar, mixing through. Add egg yolks, vanilla and enough water to mix to a smooth dough.

Knead lightly & chill one hour before use.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Once chilled roll out half of the pastry on a flour board and using a 2 1/2 inch pastry cutter, cut out 48 rounds for the pie bottom. Place into greased rounded patty pans and fill with fruit mince.
Roll out remainder of pastry and cut into 48 rounds using a 2 inch pastry cutter. Place on top of mince filled pastry bottoms. Glaze with water and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until tops are golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicken and Mushroom Scallopine

My mam arrived in Melbourne today from Queensland to spend the Festive Season with us. It was great to see her again as we haven't seen her since early May. Unfortunately her arrival was late afternoon which meant I really needed something quick and easy for dinner and something that had her favourite vegetable included - mushrooms! I wanted to cook with mushrooms as a special "welcome" back dinner!!

Chicken and Mushroom Scallopine was the perfect choice. Tender chicken fillets in a creamy mushroom sauce.... mmmmm who could want for more? Everyone enjoyed and it's definitely the perfect dish for a work night or would even be perfect for a dinner party where you prefer to spend more time with your guests than with your kitchen.

Chicken and Mushroom Scallopine
Serves: 4
Points per serve: 4.5
4 chicken breast fillets, skin removed
2 tablespoons plain flour
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, thinly sliced
400 g cup mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup light thickened cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pinch salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Flatten chicken breasts until 1/2cm thick. Combine flour and salt and pepper on a large plate. Lightly coat chicken in flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and leek to pan. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until golden.

Add wine to pan. Bring to the boil. Gently boil for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Stir in stock, cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for 3 minutes.

Return chicken to pan. Cover, cook for 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Potato, Carrot and Onion Bake

This is similar to a bake that my mam used to make when I was little. I love it for the fact that it is low in fat and has an incredible taste even if it is not a creamy based dish that everyone adores. I actually think I like this one better.

Very easy to make although slices the vegetables is a little time consuming but the outcome is well worth the effort. It's a great side dish for any meal especially when you want to have potatoes a different way.

Potato, Carrot and Onion Bake

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 1

cooking spray
8 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
6 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup hot water
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a quiche dish or shallow casserole dish with cooking spray. Using half the potatoes place a layer of potatoes in the dish, covering the base entirely. Next place a layer of carrots, followed by a layer of onion. Top with remaining potato slices.

Mix together the hot water, chicken stock, pepper and parsley flakes. Pour over potatoes slices.

Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove foil spray top with cooking spray and cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.

Alternatively once stock has been added, cover with cling wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Place in oven with out foil and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.

Serve immediately.
Tip: You could easily make this a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock powder instead of chicken.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Veal Campagnola

I cannot believe how busy this time of the year becomes not matter how organised I seem to be. My menu planning is hit and miss - not cooking what's planned and at times starting to stress a little.

However I vowed that tonight's meal would be a healthy happy one - a sit down at the table dish and I fancied something different. I have been on a bit of an avocado rush this last week also... can't seem to get enough of them.

This recipe I found in a Weight Watchers Cookbook and it grabbed my attention the minute I saw it. It had an amazing flavour, even the kids loved it. I served this with a Potato, Carrot and Onion Bake. We will definately be cooking this again.

Veal Campagnola
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Secret of Success 2009)

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 4.5

cooking spray
4 x veal leg steaks (120g each) fat trimmed
1/3 cup tomato salsa
1/2 large avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
4 slices prosciutto (60g)
50 grams reduced fat vintage cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Spray frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium to high heat. Add the veal and cook for 2 minutes each side or until lightly browned. Place veal on a foil lined oven tray.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Top the veal with the salsa, avocado, prosciutto and cheese. Place under grill and cook for 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

200th Post Giveaway Winner!!!

(sorry about the horrid photo!!)

The winner of the Australian Woman's Weekly Cookbook - Christmas is: Country Mum.

Can you please email me your postal address so I can send you your prize.

My email is

Thanks to everyone for entering...... and happy cooking!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Garlic Prawn Pizza

I had to fend for myself last night which is very rare! With two sick men in the house, both in bed with buckets and my princess had her school Christmas concert. As the concert started at 6.30pm I treated her to chicken and chips takeaway beforehand ... plus I needed to sort the "sick" others out prior to leaving.

Needless to say at 8.30pm last night, when we returned home, I wanted something easy, somewhat and full of flavour. I had actually been craving pizza but didn't want a shop brought one as to have it delivered I would have had to order a large (8 slices)! And I didn't need the temptation.

So searching for pizza toppings I came up with one of the tastiest pizza's I have ever made and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Garlic Prawn Pizza

Serves: 1
Points per serve: 7

4 raw prawn cutlets, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x Mission 96% Fat Free Tortilla
1 tablespoon tomato paste
30 grams reduced fat grated mozarella cheese
5 button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red capsicum, diced
1/4 green capsicum, diced
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 brown onion, thinly sliced
40 grams Extra Light Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
coriander leaves, to garnish

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Cut prawn cutlets in half (cuting down the back of the cutlet). In a small bowl mix prawn cutlets and garlic. Set aside.

Spray a pizza tray with cooking spray. Place tortilla on tray and coat with tomato paste. Sprinkle half the mozarella over the tomato paste. Top with mushrooms, capsicum, tomato and onion. Place prawns on top. Dollop small spoonfuls of cream cheese over the pizza and sprinkle with parsley. Sprinkle with remaining mozarella.

Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until cooked through and cheese golden. Garnish with coriander leaves, if using.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

~o0O0o~ ~o0O0o~ ~o0O0o~

Don't forget to enter our 200th post giveaway, click here. Entry closes Monday 14th December 2009 at 12pm (EST).

~o0O0o~ ~o0O0o~ ~o0O0o~

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Picau Ar Y Maen - Welsh Cakes & A Dash of Flavour's 200th Post! (plus a Giveaway)

Oliver and his class have just completed a "World Tour" assignment for school, in his project he chose 5 countries to visit. One of the country's Oliver chose to visit was Wales, my homeland. As a celebration of the class's World Tour, each student needs to take a plate/dish of either a parent's national dish or a dish from a country visited. Needless to say he wanted to take something Welsh for his plate and asked if we could make Picau Ar Y Maen ~ Welsh Cakes.

I was actually born in Wales but emigrated with my parents to Australia as a young child - in fact I have spent most of my life living here. Thankfully my parents, aunties and uncles kept a lot of welsh traditions continuing allowing my generation and future generations to learn a little about the country we were born or where our ancestors came from whilst living in the "land down-under". One tradition that has been hugely focused on was Welsh cooking and the cooking of traditional recipes. Recipes such as swp caws (cheese soup), cawl (broth), tatys popty (roast potatoes especially cooked with lamb bits), taffi triagl (trecle toffee) and not to forget my all time favourite ~ ffagodau a phys (faggots and peas) ~ especially when served with a double serve of mushy peas and lots of onion gravy, freshly ground black pepper and vinegar! mmmmmm!!

Welsh cakes are very easy to make and a favourite snack amongst the young and old. I say snack as they are not really a cake, a biscuit or dessert. Somewhat similar to a scone in texture but resembling a piklet or grill scone in appearance. Usually served with a cup of tea, they are sprinkled with a little caster sugar and maybe served with some butter. My opinion, they are best eaten as soon as the caster sugar is sprinkled and the welsh cake still warm... straight from the pan!

(a typical "old" welsh kitchen)

My nana used to cooked them on a griddle on her hearth (fireplace) as she had the traditional welsh open fireplace in her kitchen. Growing up I remember my aunty Maggie making these in her electric frying pan every time I stayed over. I still recall eating them while warm with the hint of spice and the sweetness of the currants making every bite a taste sensation. Not only do I still love them but my kids love these also.

Also a bit shout out to Ellie, at Almost Bourdain, who made Welsh Cakes the other day and they looked delightful!

Needless to say I spent the evening making Welsh Cakes, the first batch out of the pan were quickly gobbled up by two little monsters...... thankfully Oliver has some to take to school.

Welsh Cakes

makes approximately 40
points each: 2
250 grams self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
125 grams butter
90 grams caster sugar
90 grams currants
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
additional flour
cooking spray
butter for greasing
additional caster sugar for dusting

Sift the flour, baking powder, spice and salt together. Rub int he butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and currants. Add the beaten egg and enough milk to make a firm paste.

Roll out on a floured board to the thickness of 5mm and cut into rounds using a 2 inch pastry cutter for smaller cakes or a large cutter if you wish.

Coat a thick frying pan with cooking spray and a little butter. Cook the cakes over a gentle heat for three minutes on each side or until golden brown. Cool and sprinkle with caster sugar.

~~o0O0o~~ ~~o0O0o~~ ~~o0O0o~~

Before I finish for this post.... although it is already long enough can you imagine my delight that this is in fact not only a lesson in me and my heritage but my 200th post? I was really excited about my 100th both but this goes without saying!! I never imagined my nerdy hobby that I kept a secret would become as big as it is not to mention be visited and followed by as many of you who have been kind to do so. I really appreciate you taking the time to pop in and I especially love the comments and the feedback that I receive. Thank you all so much......

To celebrate reaching the big 200, I have a cookbook to giveaway! It's the Australian Woman's Weekly Christmas, another Australian Woman's Weekly Publication - as I have mentioned before a Woman's Weekly is a household name here and well worth reading.

The Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) is an institution in itself here in Australia, a monthly magazine that covers all aspects of life - current topics, celebrities, beauty, fashion, health and of course cooking. The AWW have released countless cookbooks and seasonal magazine specials on specific cuisines etc. To be honest I own quite a few, okay a lot, of AWW publications.

All you have to do for your chance of receiving this cookbook is:
~stop by my blog
~ post a comment introducing yourself, your background
~ describe your favourite traditional family dish - one from your heritage/background - you know that one that you cook passed on by your mam or your grandmother or one that you have taken on as your own traditional country dish.
Your comment must be received by Monday 14th December 2009 by 12pm EST (don't forget that's my time here Down Under!!) so I can hopefully this to you by Christmas. Good luck!

~~o0O0o~~ ~~o0O0o~~ ~~o0O0o~~

Note: If you are not a registered blogger user you can still leave a comment anonymously but please email me (houseofmurray@bigblue.net.au) your contact details and copy of your comment just incase you are the lucky winner.

Lamb Skewers with Satay Sauce

Something extra tasty and always a winner in our house was on the menu tonight. Skewers! Doesn't matter what meat is on the bamboo skewer but the fact that it's on a stick and nine times out of ten serve with satay sauce they are always devoured normally ending in an argument as to who is having the last one.

Tonight we had lamb skewers, marinated in a combination of prepared satay sauce and dry sherry, then barbequed. They taste brilliant by themselves but are accompanied sensationally by homemade satay sauce.

Lamb Skewers with Satay Sauce

Serves: 8

Points per serve (2 skewers): 2
Points per serve with sauce: 3

16 bamboo skewers
500 grams lean lamb strips
1 tablespoon prepared satay sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons prepared satay sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lite and creamy evaporated milk
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornflour

Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (this will prevent them from burning).

In a glass bowl add lamb, satay sauce and dry sherry. Mix well to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile add oil to a small saucepan and over medium heat cook onions until transparent. Add curry powder and saute for 1 minute. Add satay sauce, soy sauce, sherry and sugar and cook for a further 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add the evaporated milk, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat until meat is cooked.

Heat the bbq flat plate or large frying pan. Spray with cooking spray and cook skewers for 2 - 3 minutes on each side or until cooked for your liking.

Reheat sauce and add combine cornflour and water. Stir constantly until thickened slightly. Serve with skewers.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spiced Orange Roast Chicken

I must say that I am enjoying experimenting with marinades at the moment especially using fruit and fruit juices. So with orange in mind this time I must say that this dish had a nice sweet citrus flavour with the element of a hint of indian spices.

The other great thing about this dish is that it is quick and easy not only to prepare but to cook. I would recommend marinating overnight but even if you only have an hour to spare you will still enjoy the flavour.

Spiced Orange Roast Chicken
Serves: 4
Points per serve: 5.5

4 x chicken breast fillets, skin and visible fat removed
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teapsoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced

In a jug mix together the orange juice, honey, oil, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper. Place chicken fillets in a snap lock bag or casserole dish. Pour marinade over, seal bag and toss to ensure chicken is fully coated. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight if time permits.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Coat a shallow casserole dish with cooking spray and place chicken in a single layer. Place the orange over the top of the chicken. Cover with marinade. Roast in the oven, basting with pan juices, for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Place on a serving platter and top with spring onions to serve.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)