Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chilli and Brandy Beef with White Beans

Now the name of this recipe caught my attention for sure. I was very intrigued by the flavour combinations and knew that I would just have to make it and test it for myself. Being a slow cooker recipe it had already scored points with me as there is nothing better than walking into the house that is filled with the aroma that just screams dinner is ready!

Tonight was no different - the house smelt wonderful. As usual the beef was tender and covered in a nice thick sauce with chunky tomatoes and the afterkick of chilli. Served with crusty bread it was a perfect mid week one pot wonder.

Chilli and Brandy Beef with White Beans
(recipe adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Slow Cooker)

Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 8

cooking spray
1 kilogram diced beef
2 brown onions, large dice
1 fresh long red chilli, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablepsoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock (made from stock powder)
1/4 cup brandy
freshly ground black pepper
400 grams canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup coarsley chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and over a high heat brown beef. Add to slow cooker bowl.

Add onions, chilli, garlic, tomato paste, stock and brandy to the beef. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.

Add beans, cook, covered, on high setting for 20 minutes or until hot. Stir in parsley.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Corn Parcels

As a lover of pastry I have been craving pastry for a few weeks now. So to satisfy my pastry craving I decided to make some filo parcels for dinner last night.

The filling was creamy and tasty with a somewhat homestyle country taste and smell about it - nothing fancy infact quite plain Jane but it was delish. A mixture of chicken, mushrooms and corn bound togther with a creamy sauce laced with a hint of mustard and thyme.... typing this I could eat another one right now!

Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Corn Parcels

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 9

cooking spray
500 grams chicken breast fillets, diced
1 brown onion, diced
200 grams button mushrooms quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 cup chicken stock (made with stock powder)
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained
freshly ground black pepper
12 sheets filo pastry
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and cook chicken, onion, mushrooms and garlic until chicken is browned and just cooked.

Add thyme, mustard and chicken stock. Bring to the boil stirring and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.

In a small jug combine milk with cornflour, mixing well. Add to chicken mixture and stir until thickened slightly. Stir through corn and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Working with one sheet of pastry at a time place first sheet on your workspace longways away from yourself. Spray with cooking spray and place another sheet on top. Repeat this with the third sheet of pastry.

Place a quarter of the chicken mixture at one end of the pastry, fold over ends and roll to enclosed. Place on a prepared oven tray. Repeat to make four parcels.

Spray parcels with cooking spray and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cook in oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until heated through and the pastry is golden.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits are such an Australian Tradition - infact I think every domestic goddess has cooked them at one time or another.

These crunchy (and cheap to make) are an Australian favourite becoming poplular during World War 1. Sent in food parcels to the troops known as the ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps).

No fuss, quick to make and super delicious.

Anzac Biscuits

Serves: 36
ProPoints per serve: 2

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bircarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Mix together oats, flour and sugar.
Mix golden syrup, soda and boiling water. While frothing add melted butter and pour into dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Drop in spoonfuls on to a prepared baking tray allowing room for mixture to spread.

Bake for 18 - 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Chicken Vegetable and Pasta Soup

With winter approaching I always get the hankering to make soup, especially a nice chunky soup that I can mop up with fresh crusty bread.

This Chicken Vegetable and Pasta Soup is something that my mother cooked all the time during my childhood and I still love it today although I am not convinced my version is as good as my Mam's was!!

The addition of the pasta makes it extra filling and like all good dishes it is jam packed full of vegetables. Funnily not much is added to this recipe by way of herbs or spices, the flavours of all the vegetables and the poaching of the chicken makes it just superb and is just so simple. And another bonus is that it is freezable making it perfect for work lunches.

Chicken Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Serves: 12
ProPoints per serve: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
600 grams chicken breast fillet, all visible fat removed and cut in half
4 litres of chicken stock (made with stock powder)
freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, sliced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
250 grams pasta spirals
2 medium zucchini, diced
110 gram tin corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water

Heat oil is a large saucepan over medium heat and add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is tender. Add chicken pieces and stock. Season with pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock and allow to cool.

Add the carrots, capsicum, parsley flakes and pasta spirals. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile shred the cooled chicken into chunks. Return to the soup along with the capsicums, corn and peas.

In a small bowl mix together cornflour and water and stir through soup until thickened slightly.

Pesto Prawn and Spinach Pizza

Back from another week of travelling and having to work Saturday morning (something I haven't done in a long time) I really needed something easy for dinner not to mention tasty. Living out of motel rooms was nice for the first month or so but I can tell you I am over it. Most are nice and have restaurants so I either don't have far to travel for dinner or I can get room service but I am sick of the vague descriptions on some menus or getting meals that don't resemble the description of the dish.

Anyhow as you may know by now we love having home made pizzas as it gives us all a chance to be experimental with flavours. This is one that I put together last night and surprisingly it was very yummy. This Pesto Prawn and Spinach Pizza had a very clean flavour.

From the first mouthful you tasted the bold basil pesto and then the delicateness of the prawns, amongst the fresh flavours of the spinach and tomato. I used minimal cheese as I thought it wouldn't need it and it didn't! Even Noel thought it was delicious.

Pesto Prawn and Spinach Pizza

Serves: 2

ProPoints per serve: 9

250 grams peeled raw king prawns
cooking spray
1 large Lebanese Pita Bread (100 grams)
2 tablespoons Basil Pesto
60 grams reduced fat grated tasty cheese
100 grams baby spinach
1/4 onion, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Devein prawns, rinse and pat dry with paper towel.

Spray a pizza tray with cooking spray. Place Lebanese Pita Bread on tray.

Spread pita bread with pesto evenly. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.

Top with spinach leaves, onion and capsicum. Place prawns and tomato halves on pizza and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cook in oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until prawns are cooked through.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beef Ribs with Stout and Caramelised Onion

We are really enjoying Beef Ribs at the moment especially as they are quite cheap in the butchers. They have so much meat on them and are full of flavour. I buy the ribs as individual peices not as racks as they seem to be more tender when they are cooked.

I tried an old style recipe with this batch - slow cooking cooking them with stout. Although the ingredients weren't overly fancy the aroma that filled the house was such a homely smell, reminding me of when I was a child coming home to the aromas of my parents cooking for which I would excitedly and patiently waited (sometimes impatiently) to be put on the table at dinner time.

The stout wasn't overpowering but noticable and this combine with the sweetness of the caramelised onion made for a delicate sweet and sour experience followed with a hit of fresh thyme, a powerful yet delightful herb to add to meat dishes.

Beef Ribs with Stout and Caramelised Onion
(recipe adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Slow Cooker Cookbook)

Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 12

2 kgs beef ribs with bone, visible fat trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water 4 medium carrots, sliced thickly
1 x 400 gram can diced tomatoes
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup beef stock (made with stock powder)
1 cup stout

Place ribs in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and place in slow cooker basin.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and add onion. Cook onion, stirring until soft. Add sugar, vinegar and the water, cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until onion caramelises. Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker basin.

Add the carrot, undrained tomatoes, thyme, mustard, stock and stout to the ribs and stir through. Cook covered on low for 8 hours. Sprinkle with additional thyme leaves when serving.