Friday, June 12, 2015

Beijing Beef

Everyone who knows me will tell you I am definitely addicted to trying new recipes - especially those that are not known down here in Australia.  I have fallen in love with a food web site, Rasa Malaysia, which has given me some inspiration of late to get back into the kitchen and cook new meals, instead of the same good ol' favourites we love.

There are so many taste tantalizing recipes within the site and Bee, the site's author continues to do an amazing job.  We have already sampled a few and one of our new favourites is Sweet and Sour Pork, it was incredible and has been made several times.  This dish, Beijing Beef, was of an equally high standard.

I am not familiar with the origin of this recipe as it's claimed to be a Panda Express Copycat recipe.  Googling I have found that Panda Express is one of America's largest chain of Chinese takeaway stores, starting with their first store in California opening in 1970 they are now branching out to other countries worldwide including the Middle East - not here in Australia yet but I am guessing we'll just give them some time.

We all loved the dish - the flavours were great and the beef was nice and tender. A little spicy and a little sweet the flavour zinged while eating leaving the taste buds craving more and more.  There are a few elements in this dish but to be honest it's well worth the effort.  Like the Sweet and Sour Pork, this dish now gets cooked on a regular basis.

   Beijing Beef
(recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 11

500 grams steak, rump, porterhouse or skirt, cut against the grain into 1/4 inch slices
4 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onions, sliced
1 medium-sized red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cornflour, to dust beef for deep-frying
Salt and sugar to taste

2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Beijing Sauce:
8 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
6 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1-2 teaspoons crushed chili peppers (taste dependent)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare the Marinade in a bowl and mix well. Marinate the beef for 15 minutes.

In a seperate bowl, mix all the Beijing Sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Place cornflour in a bag/bowl. Toss marinated beef in cornflour, coat well and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat up enough oil over high heat. Coat beef slices with cornflour again, making sure the beef slices are well coated. Shake off the excess cornflour from beef slices. Prepare to deep-fry beef (in small batches). Drop in the beef slices and deep-fry for 1-2 minutes or until light golden brown. Dish out, drained on paper towel and set aside.

In a wok, heat up the oil over high heat. Stir-fry the onion and bell pepper until fragrant and slightly charred, add in the garlic and continue to stir-fry for 10 seconds. Remove from wok.

Heat up wok over medium-high heat, pour in the Beijing Sauce seasoning. Bring it to a simmer or until it thickens. You may adjust salt, soy sauce, water, etc., to taste.

Toss in the deep-fried beef and stir-fried onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir well for 1 minute or until the beef is completely cooked and the sauce is absorbed.

Dish out and serve with hot steamed rice (add an additional 3ppts per 1/2 cup).

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pies with Prosciutto and Vegetables

With the colder evenings approaching nothing beats this particular comfort food... Pot Pies. We are huge fans of them and we love trying different flavour combinations.  While a beautiful thick gravy tender meat pie is a perfect winter treat nothing, absolutely nothing, can overshadow this Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pie with Prosciutto and Vegetables.

Not made using the usual white sauce base this sauce consists of chicken stock, white wine, cream cheese and mustard all laced with fresh thyme.  Taste buds dancing from the first mouthful that's for sure.

These are quite a large serve so you could easily stretch the recipe to make 12 - 16 smaller pies if you preferred.  Freezable, once cooked and cooled, these also make a perfect quick dinner for those nights when we are time poor (for us... most nights LOL).

Creamy Chicken and Leek Pot Pies with Prosciutto and Vegetables

Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 14

cooking spray
800 grams chicken breast, skin and fat removed, diced
100 grams prosciutto, all visible fat removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch fresh thyme leaves, stalk removed
3 tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons water
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
250 grams reduced fat cream cheese
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups mixed frozen carrots, peas and corn
4 sheets reduced fat puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat, in batches, until browned.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add the prosciutto to the same pan and fry stirring for 2 - 3 minutes or until starting to brown.  Set aside with the chicken.

Add the oil to the same pan add leeks and thyme.  Cook over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 - 8 minutes or until leek is golden and soft. 

Meanwhile mix the cornflour and water together in a large jug, ensuring it's completely blended.  Add chicken stock, wine and mustard, mixing well.  Place in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat.  When heated through add the cream cheese, stirring, until completely blended. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken and prosciutto to the leek mixture.  Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour sauce mixture over chicken and mix well.  Remove from heat.

Prepare ramekins or pie dishes.  Spoon mixture dividing evenly between each dish.

Cut pastry in half and place on top of each dish.  Spray with cooking spray and place in oven.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and crispy and chicken is warmed through.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash

With our long weekend finishing yesterday - sadly it was back to work for me. Noel on the other hand had another day off with him taking one of his RDO's (Rostered Day Off). I have to officially say that I hate, absolutely HATE, going to work when he is lying in bed and I have to leave, a quick kiss goodbye then it's out the door.

As most of you know, I am an avid menu planner - avid I say - control freak Noel would say. But working full time (both of us) it's been a necessity for the past 20 odd year especially with having the two kids. I sit down normally on a Thursday evening and plan both the menu for the next week along with the shopping list.  I write the cookbook and page number next to the meal so realistically I remember where the recipe to follow is so we are super organised when it comes to cooking dinners nightly.

Needless to say, today Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash was on the menu along with a committee meeting for the local Junior Football Club that we are involved in - meaning a HUGE evening of kitchen work and then the meeting. 
Thankfully, Mr Murray stepped up to the mark and made the Cottage Pie for tonight's dinner.  OMG the relief and the appreciation..... 
This cottage pie was a quite different to my normal gravy based minced and vegetable combination.  The meat mixture was of a tomato base but still jam packed with vegetables which I love - "sneaky vegies" are my favourite vegetables.  Now the topping.... where do I start.  I thought it was brilliant - not stodgy and heavy like a normal full potato mash.  The cauliflower made it so light and the was no overpowering cauliflower flavour. 

Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Parmesan Mash
(Recipe sourced from Weight Watchers Double-Up Dinners)
Serves: 8 (4 if freezing half)
ProPoints: 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 kilogram lean pork and veal mince
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
600 grams potatoes, chopped
1/2 large cauliflower, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus extra to garnish
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook onion, carrot and celery, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and paprika.  Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add paste, stock, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until thickened.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Boil, steam or microwave potatoes and cauliflower until just tender.  Drain.  Mash in a large bowl with chives until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.
Lightly spray two 1.25 litre capacity ovenproof dishes with oil.  Divide mince mixture between prepared dishes.
Top with mash and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.  Serve sprinkled with extra chives.
If freezing do not bake.  Cool and wrap dish in a double layer of plastic wrap.  Wrap in foil.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Defrost in fridge overnight and bake as per recipe above. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Low Fat Raspberry Jelly Swirl Cheesecake Slice

Some of you may have noticed a few problems occurring on my blog this last week or so..... I am not 100% sure what happened but I think I have fixed all the problems and at the same time thought I would update the look...... I hope you all like it.
Moving on from my IT issues, here in Australia we had a long weekend... so I got to spend some precious time with my family and also in the kitchen.  Lots of things were made, eaten and more importantly enjoyed.  From Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings to Homemade Chilli Tomato Ketchup and of course, these little tasty, sweet treats.

Not a heavy cheesecake - in fact very light and fluffy.  The raspberry jelly added a nice texture and was a beautiful replacement to a fruit sauce or a jam.  I am guessing that you could actually use any flavour jelly as long as you think that the flavours would work well with cheesecake.

Very easy to make - practically in the fridge setting in around 40 minutes and to be honest gone in about 5 minutes.

Low Fat Raspberry Jelly Swirl Cheesecake Slice
(Recipe adapted from

Serves: 24
ProPoints per serve: 3

250g packet Marie biscuits
100g reduced-fat spread, melted
9g sachet low-kilojoule raspberry jelly crystals
2/3 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons gelatine powder
500g light cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 cup reduced-fat thickened cooking cream
250g reduced-fat vanilla yoghurt

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Grease a 3cm-deep, 17cm x 27cm (base) slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 5cm overhang at long ends.

Process biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add spread. Process until just combined. Press mixture evenly over base of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Place jelly crystals in a small, heatproof jug. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Using a fork, whisk until dissolved. Add 1/2 cup cold water. Stir to combine. Pour jelly into a shallow, heatproof dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (jelly consistency should be similar to thickened cream).

Place remaining 2 tablespoons boiling water into a small, heatproof jug. Sprinkle over gelatine. Using a fork, whisk until gelatine dissolves. Set aside.

Process cream cheese, sugar, cream and yoghurt until smooth and combined. Fold gelatine into cream cheese mixture.

Pour mixture over base. Using a tablespoon, dollop jelly over mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl together. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Cut into 24 slices.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Don't panic we have been cooking and eating... in fact eating too much - especially quick, easy, tried and proven recipes due to the hectic lifestyle we are currently living. It's footy season again in Australia, and this is our last year involved with Junior Football, Both kids are playing their last junior year. Oliver is in Under 17's and will be a senior next year and Alexandria, well as she's 14, after this year she can no longer play football with the boys. If she wishes to continue her football career she will need to join the girls league.

But YAY I have finally sat down and managed a blog.... I am in my element - doing something I love about something I love!!  FOOD!!

This meal is tasty but yet so easy to make. Realistically it will be on your table within 30 minutes. Using precooked barbecue chicken and only a couple of other ingredients including one of my favourite things, cream cheese laced with our homemade Taco Seasoning these Chimichangas brought a welcome change to the usual common Mexican dishes we have at home.  Of course you can use shop purchased Taco Seasoning but why when it's so easy to make and has a lot more flavour?  Just saying....

Anyway I think your family will love you for it. Ours did.

Baked Chicken Chimichangas
(Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Quick 6 Ingredients Cookbook)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 12

1/2 cup (120 grams) light cream cheese
3 teaspoons Taco Seasoning
400 grams shredded skinless barbecue chicken breast
3 green shallots, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
8 x 40 gram Mission Lite (98% Reduced Fat)tortillas
cooking spray
2/3 cup chunky tomato salsa

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine cream cheese and seasoning in a large bowl. Add chicken, capsicum and shallots and stir to combine.

Spoon chicken mixture into centre of each tortilla. Fold in opposite sides and roll to enclose filling.

Place seam side down, on prepared tray. Lightly spray with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes or until gold and crisp.

Serve Chimichangas with salsa, coleslaw (add 1 ProPoint per serve), warm refried beans (add 2 ProPoints per 100 grams) and low fat sour cream (add 1 ProPoint per tablespoon).