Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lobster with Blackbean and Chilli Sauce

The last time we went shopping in Springvale we were lucky enough to get our hands on some frozen raw lobster tails from our favourite Frozen Food shop. They were great value as they were small and 10 tails to the kilogram but unfortunately have been in the freezer ever since.

We decided that tonight would be the night to have them for dinner - maybe a little celebration as today I finished the job I have been doing for the last 8 years and I am moving on within the company as of next week in a new role.

After enjoying the Beef with Blackbean the other week, we knew that the lobster tails would be full of flavour and that their sweetness would compliment the saltiness if cooked in a similar sauce. So the idea of black bean combined with chilli paste was agreed upon as I love chilli and Noel favours the black bean but of course we both agree on the lobster itself!

Lobster with Blackbean and Chilli Sauce

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 5

1 kilogram raw Lobster tails
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teapsoons crushed ginger
1 tablespoon chilli paste, or to taste
1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
1 head of brocolli, cut into small florets
1/2 red capsicum, diced
2 spring onions, sliced
4 tablespoons black bean sauce
100 grams snow peas, trimmed and sliced
100 grams bean sprouts
fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Remove shells from lobster tails, rinse well and cut into bite size pieces. Place on paper towel and set aside.

Coat a wok or large frying pan with oil ensuring the surface is covered. Heat over a high heat and add the garlic, ginger, chilli, carrots and broccoli. Stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.

Add capsicum, lobster meat and spring onions. Stirfry for a further 2 - 3 minutes or until lobster is startting to turn pink. Mix through the blackbean sauce until all is completely coated with the sauce. Add snow peas and bean sprouts and toss through until warm.

Serve garnished with coriander leaves.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prawn Laksa Stir Fry

Once again I have let our life get in the way of blogging and dare I say cooking. Not only have we been very busy (busier than usual) we have been out quite a few nights recently therefore I haven't had anything to blog about. School holidays are nearly over, Noel has returned to work now and I am about to take on a new position in my work so the next week may also be a little spasmotic with regards to sharing our culinary delights!!

Considering how busy we are at the moment dinner tonight needed to be something quick and easy.

We are both fans of laksa, and often enjoy a nice bowl of Chicken Laksa for lunch on the weekends. Today the weather is quite warm so I was leaning towards a stirfry when I came accross this recipe in a new Weight Watchers cook book I had just purchased.

I have to say it was really nice and another quick meal (on the table in under 30 minutes I must add)that I will, no doubt, cook again.

Prawn Laksa Stir Fry
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Cook Easy)

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 6

1 1/2 cups white or brown rice
cooking spray
1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
2 tablespoons Laksa paste
600 grams peeled green prawns
200 grams snow peas, trimmed
2/3 cup Lite and Creamy Coconut Flavoured Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
6 green shallots, thinly sliced
100 grams bean sprouts
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Cook rice in a large saucepan of boiling slated water until tender and drain.

Spray a large wok or frying pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add carrots and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until softened. Add laksa past and stir fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add prawns and snow peas and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until prawns start to turn pink.

Add milk, lime juice, fish sauce, shallots and sprouts. Stir fry for 1 minute or until heated through. Divide rice amongst four bowls and top with stir fry. Garnish with coriander leaves.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork

On Sunday we had a beautiful Roast Pork and was now faced with some delicious looking leftovers that honestly, would have been a shame to throw out.

And although the pork was nice I didn't fancy another full roast dinner so I had to come up with something different. There isn't really a lot you can do with leftover roast pork. It's not like lamb or beef which you can easily turn into a stew or a curry. Which got me to thinking about recipes such as "pulled pork" which I have always fancied.

Anyway an idea was born and I went ahead to created a shredded style meat with a mexican influence which I must say was delicious especially wrapped in a tortilla with fresh salad and cheese which is what we had for dinner. I guess this could be put on a sandwich or a roll, served with rice, made into enchildas or taco's, possibly anything.

Best of all I put everything in the slow cooker overnight, allowed to cool, did the shredding and then reheated just prior to serving. PERFECT!

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 4.5

600 grams leftover roast pork
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 25 gram packet of Taco Seasoning
2 x 400 grams tins diced tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
Cut the pork in large pieces and place in slow cooker dish. Add carrots, onions, taco seasoning, tomatoes and season with black pepper.

Cook on low heat for 8 - 12 hours. Switch off and allow to cool.

Once cooled, remove pork pieces and shred using two forks. Place in a large bowl along with sauce from the slow cooker dish. Add a little water if necessary.

When ready, reheat in microwave and use as required.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Microwave Mushroom and Onion Omelette

I have been trying to vary my breakfast and lunches so I don't end up with the same day in and day out. It was then that I realised I don't really write about meals other than dinners with the exception of the occassional dish here and there normally when I am entertaining.... so time to start a new leaf with the blog content.

I have to admit that I am neither a cereal or a plain toast lover for breakfast and tend to have the same breakfast most mornings. Either baked beans or spaghetti on toast with the odd toasted sandwich here or there. Thankfully where I work I can cook all my meals should I choose which means that I don't have to eat something very early before I leave the house.

This morning I was fancying something different and remembered how much I liked having an omelette (although I couldn't really remember the last time I had one!). So ensuring I took enough ingredient with me to work I decided I would cook myself an omelette in the microwave for breakfast. Of course, it would be basic and not as fancy as a nice fluffy stove top omelette but I was looking forward to it.

To cook an omelette in the microwave you do require a microwave omelette maker or a large shallow dish, either works well but I just happened to have an omelette maker at work.

I am glad I made the decision to have something different for breakfast as it was brilliant. I enjoyed every mouthful and it was very filling.

Microwave Mushroom and Onion Omelette

Serves: 1
Points per serve: 3.5

cooking spray
4 - 5 button mushrooms, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
2 eggs
2 tablespoons skim milk

Spray omelette maker or dish with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes in the microwave on high or until mushrooms have softened.

Beat together the eggs and skim milk, season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over the mushrooms (if using an omelette maker split between both sides). Cook on high for 3 - 4 minutes or until egg is set. Allow to stand for 1 minute.

Remove from omelette maker or dish and serve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roast Pork

Sunday is traditionally a "roast" day at our house - no matter how hot it is during summer. There is something about sitting down at the dining table, especially with family, and enjoying a full roast dinner with the trimmings - roast potatoes and pumpkin always loved side dishes.

Jamie and the boys came for lunch today as Grandma is returning to Queensland tomorrow and it was the last chance that my mam would she all her grandchildren together. I know she had been eyeing off the pork roast sitting in the freezer and when I ask what she would like for her farewell luncheon I already knew she would say Pork!!

The piece of pork, all 3.4kgs of it, was boneless and the crackle covered the whole of it. MMMM!! That's another thing we fight over - the crackle.

Anyway there isn't much to this recipe as it's just cooked in the Weber and then eaten but I had to show you the photo's of just how yummy it looked!! Cooking in the Weber is much quicker than in the oven and to be perfectly honest since purchasing our Weber 8 years ago I haven't cooked a roast in the oven!

Roast Pork
Serving size: 100 grams cooked meat
Points per serve: 3
Serving size: 20 grams
Points per serve: 2.5
1 piece of pork
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare Weber as per normal.

Score pork skin if required. Rub pork with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place in Weber and cook basing the timing on 10 minutes for every centimetre in height (so if pork is 10 centimetre at the highest point cooking time would be 100 minutes or 1 hour and 4o minutes).

Noel checking the pork ~ the skewer test!! If the juices run clear it's cooked!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lanttulaatikko (Swede/Rutabaga Casserole)

Lanttlaatikko is a dish that I grew up eating! Not daily but when ever we visited friends of my family who we emigrated to Australia with and our families kept in contact. My family emigrated from Wales and other families, who shared our ship journey and became our friends came from Finland, Sweden and England. There were three families and we still are in contact with them today 36 years later.

When we went to their house we were treated to all the traditional Finnish and Swedish dishes but of course when they came to ours they were introduced to many Welsh and British delights. I have to admit that when faced with roll-mops, herrings and other Scandanavian delicacies I always looked for the Lanttlaatikko or that funny dish that tastes nice!

Lanttlaatikko is traditionally made for the Finnish Christmas Feast and is one of those "must" serve dishes. In fact it is made for any celebration, normally served hot with meat of some sort such as ham, pork, turkey, etc., and I just love it!

Here in Australia the Rutabaga is known as Swede, a vegetable I feel is under rated and overlooked quite often. I have to be honest and say I only buy them to put in a stew or to sometimes make another childhood favourite, Swede and Mashed Potato.

Of course I have changed a few ingredients to reduce the fat content of the dish but it was very nice and got great reviews from everyone having lunch today. We had it with Roast Pork and the very first mouthful brought bake some really good memories of visiting our friends.

Lanttulaatikko (Swede/Rutabaga Casserole)
(recipe adapted from Food From Finland)

Serves: 12
Points per serve: 1.5

4 medium swedes/rutabaga (approx 8 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup reduced fat cream
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons reduced fat butter
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Peel and dice swede. In a large saucepan place swede. Fill with enough water to cover the swede, add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the swede is soft. Drain the swede and set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the cream for a few minutes. Stir in the golden syrup, nutmeg, salt and lightly beaten eggs and mix well.

In a food processor blend swede until smooth. Add the breadcrumb mixture and mix thoroughly.
Spray a casserole dish or baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the swede mixture to the casserole. Using a fork or spoon, pattern the casserole top as desired.

Spray top with cooking spray and bake uncovered for 1 hour, or until the top is lightly browned. Serve hot.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pomegranate and Lime Champagne Cocktail

I love a champagne cocktail and will use any excuse to make one so when I received a shipment of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice.

I love pomegranates just as a fruit and confess that while I haven't used this wonderful product in a recipe as yet (only because I have been drinking it) I knew I would be mixing it with Champagne at some stage!

This is a quick and easy twist of having champagne - making a champagne cocktail makes just when drinking something nice is required.

Pomegranate and Lime Champagne Cocktail

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 1

ice cubes
1 475ml (16oz) bottle POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice
1 fresh lime, cut into slices
juice of 1 fresh lime
1 bottle (750ml) sparkling white wine or champagne

In a large jug place ice. Pour in the bottle of pomegranate juice. Place lime slices and lime juice in jug. Slowly top with sparkling wine or champagne. Gently serve to mix.


(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

A favourite Chinese meal of Noel's is Beef in Black Bean Sauce so when I mentioned we had some beef strips that needed using and that we could have Black Bean Sauce his eyes lit up!

To be honest I think you either like Black Bean or you don't. It's a strongish, salty flavouring and not overly sweet. Luckily, even Alexandria our 8 year old loves the flavourings also.

Black Bean, or Douchi as it's known, is made from fermenting and salting soyabeans. This process turns the beans black, soft and mostly dry. We however used a premade version in a jar, called Black Bean Paste (made by Lee Kum Kee) which is just as nice as soaking the beans yourself.

Beef in Black Bean Sauce
Serves; 4
Points per serve: 4
cooking spray
500 grams lean beef strips
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 red capsicum, sliced
1/2 green capsicum sliced
300 grams button mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons black bean paste or sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons cornflour
300 grams snow peas, trimmed and sliced on diagonal

Spray wok or large frying pan with cooking spray and cook half of the beef until just sealed. Remove to a plate, repeat with remaining beef strips.

Respray wok with cooking spray and add garlic, onion, carrot and broccoli. Stirfry for 3 - 5 minutes or until carrot is tender. Add capsicums and mushrooms. Stirfry for a further 2 - 3 minutes.

Return beef strips to pan along with black bean paste and sugar. Toss through sauce. Add combined cornflour and water, bring to the boil stirring until mixed through and slightly thickened. Add snowpeas and stir through.

Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Triple Cheese and Mushroom Lasagne

I could not believe the flavour of this lasagne and it's meat free... it was delicious!! Not to mention light and healthy something I needed after the Christmas Food Festival that's for sure. I am sure that you all understand what I mean.

The serving sizes looked small but to everyone's surprise it was very filling. An easy lasagne to prepare especially as there was no Bechamel Sauce to make. Full of mushrooms and a nice not overpowering tomato sauce I could eat a lot of this.

Triple Cheese and Mushroom Lasagne
(recipe source: WW Secret of Success Cookbook)

Serves: 6
Points per serve: 6.5

cooking spray
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 finely chopped red capsicum
300 grams button mushrooms, sliced
400 gram can diced tomatoes
140 gram tub tomato paste
1 cup water
1 vegetable stock cube or 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
250 grams low fat cream cheese
250 grams low fat cottage cheese
250 grams packet dried instant lasagne sheets
100 grams low fat grated tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a 25 cm x 18 cm (base measurement) baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and heat over a medium heat. Add onion, garlic and capsicum and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, water and stock cube. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.

Beat cream cheese and cottage cheese until well combined. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make the mixture easier to spread.

Spread 1/3 tomato mixture over the base of the dish. Top with a single layer of lasagne sheets and half the cheese mixture. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, half the remaining sauce mixture, and remaining cheese mixture. Make a final layer of lasagne then the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 50 minutes of until pasta is tender and top is golden brown. Cover with foil if top is browning too much.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jamaican BBQ Chicken

I love experimenting with marinades and we also are the proud owners of a new coal barbecue with we are loving to experiment with also. Needless to say tonight's dish was brought to you buy "experiments!"

I have always yearned to visit Jamaica and the flavours of any food from the Carribbean has always intrigued me... normally the tastes are a balanced blend between spicy and sweet but it's always a taste that leaves your mouth happy, sometimes wanting much more and more importantly leave you with a pleasant memory of that dish.

This dish did exactly that.... excited the mouth and the tastebuds, had a great aftertaste and I know I will talk about this one in the future so therefore leaving me a great memory.

It's not a traditional Jamaican recipe, I can claim this as my own but I did stick in line with many of the ingredients used in Jerk Chicken, although I just added a few of my own desired bits and pieces.

Jamaican BBQ Chicken

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 7

4 small chickens
1 onion, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons crushed chilli
1/2 cup fresh coriander
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 limes

Cut chickens in half using chicken scissors, clean and towel dry.

In a food processor add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and combined.

Place chickens in a snap lock bag or large casserole dish and pour over marinade. Place in the refrigerator and leave for 4 hours or overnight if time permits.

Heat a bbq grill and brush with oil. Cook chickens 5 - 8 minutes each side or until no longer pink and cooked to your liking, basting with remaining marinade several times.

Pea and Ham Soup

Pea and Ham Soup would have to be my favourite after product from Christmas... made with the ham bone and what remaining ham is on it, it is definitely one of my favourite soups and I must say would top my "comfort" food list.

I remember as a child my mother making this soup every year after Christmas and it was always something that I looked forward to. In fact anytime my mam made this I looked forward to it. This year she has made this batch for me and I have to say I follow mam's recipe everytime I make it.

Not only is this a soup full of flavour and taste it is quite easy to make even though it does take a fair amount of time. Time that is well worth spending on making this soup.

Pea and Ham Soup
(Recipe courtesy of my Mam)

Serves: 12
Points per serve: 4.5

1 ham bone
1 brown onion, diced
2 litres water
2 brown onions
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 kilogram green split peas
additional water, if required

Cut the majority of the ham off the bone and set aside.

In a large saucepan place ham bone, onion and water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat, simmering for 1 hour. Allow to cool.

Once cool drain bone from stock - keep all the stock in a large saucepan. Remove any meat from the bone that comes off easily. Add ham pieces.

In a food processor, chop onions, carrots and celery until finely chopped. Add to stock along with split peas. Bring to the boil and simmer for several hours until peas are softened and soup is thick.

If soup is too thick add small amounts of water until desired consistancy is reached.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken (Low Fat)

I know this is a repeat post but it is a favourite dish with us, which I must say took me a while to master to an acceptable standard as I have previously mentioned. BUT I have actually revamped my original recipe to become a healthier version so I can still enjoy this while trying to lose weight.

The original or traditional way of cooking this calls for a huge 1 cup of oil to cook with, I have removed this and replace it with cooking spray. To make the sauce a little thicker I also added some hoisin sauce - which is a western addition to this dish that I have read during my research for this dish.

The changes I think made for a nicer dish especially without the layer of oil and knowing that it was healthier for us all!!

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 5

500 grams boneless chicken breasts, skin and fat removed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cold water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon black or red rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chicken broth or water
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
a few drops sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornflour
cooking spray
6 to 8 small dried red chillies, or as desired, seeds removed for less heat
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 spring onions, sliced on diagonal
1/2 cup skinless, unsalted peanuts

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix in the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, water and cornflour. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, chicken stock, sugar, salt, sesame oil and hoisin sauce, whisking in the cornflour last.

Spray a wok with cooking spray and over a high heat add half of the chicken cooking for about 1 minute, until the cubes separate and turn white. Remove and repeat with remainder of the chicken.

Respray the wok and add the chillies and stir-fry until the skins starts to darken and blister. Add the garlic and spring onion. Stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the chicken back into the pan and toss until chicken is heated through, then push up to the sides of the wok and add add the sauce in the middle, stirring quickly to thicken. Stir in the peanuts. Stir fry for a further 1 to 2 minutes or until everything is coated and hot.

Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Prawn and Vegetable Spaghetti Fritters

I am not quite sure where the idea for these fritters came from - maybe from the fact that I am so over Festive Food at the moment and I really wanted something different or the fact that I had some left over cooked spaghetti sitting on the bench staring at me. Where ever it came from though I am glad as they went down a treat.

Very easy to prepare and cook, these were full of prawns and vegetables and overall very tasty. In fact several of the household had seconds so that must be a good sign. Nice by themselves or serve with a sauce of your choice such as kecap manis or tomato.

Prawn and Vegetable Spaghetti Fritters

Serves: 8
Points per serve: 3

2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
200 grams cooked small prawns/shrimps
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked spaghetti
2 tablespoons oil

In a large bowl mix together eggs, parmesan, prawns, spring onions, capsicum, carrot, flour and parsley until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Mix through cooked spaghetti.

Form into 8 patties, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan and cook the fritters, in batches of 4, over a medium to high heat until golden brown. Continue with remaining oil and fritters. Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)