Monday, September 28, 2015

Creamy Potato and Prosciutto Bake

As well as experimenting with lasagne recipes I also love tyring different potato bake recipes.  We already have a couple of family favourites already such as Potato, Onion and Bacon Bake (creamy and comforting) and Potato, Carrot and Onion Bake (which is my personal favourite and so full of flavour).


There was never no chance of not trying this recipe - creamy base, layers of potato and sweet potato topped with crispy prosciutto and melted cheese..... heaven in a casserole dish.

I love sweet potato as the flavour is so different than that of normal potato and adds such depth to this dish.  The saltiness of the prosciutto added another element along with it's crunchiness as a topping.

Sadly or maybe not sadly, this decadent potato bake is more like a main meal rather than a nice side dish.  I wasn't complaining though.... as I thought it was perfect just by itself.  It guess it could be a side if you can use portion control.... yikes!

Creamy Potato and Prosciutto Bake
(Recipe adapted from WW Ultimate Comfort Food)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per Serve: 9

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
500 grams potatoes, thinly sliced
500 grams sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
cooking spray
100 grams baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup light evaporated milk
freshly ground black pepper
100 grams grated tasty cheese
100 grams prosciutto slices, fat trimmed, torn
1/2 bunch fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced. 

Heat oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Cook leek, stirring occasionally, for 8 - 10 minutes or until softened.  

Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave potato and sweet potato separately, until almost tender.

Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer potatoes, leek and spinach in the prepared dish, finishing with potato.  Pour over evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with 3/4 of the cheese and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and top with prosciutto, thyme and remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until prosciutto is crisp and golden.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Noodle and Vegetable Salad

Noodles are positively delicious - I love them either hot or cold.  

This Noodle and Vegetable Salad is one of my favourites.  I make a huge batch of it and we can take it to work for lunches throughout the week. Best of all this noodle salad is jam packed with vegetables and lots of Asian-fused flavours.  

The vegetables are of the season so you can really use whatever you wish, therefore it can be basic or as interesting as you wish it to be.  

Ultimately a very easy salad (or side dish) to make.  It can be eaten either cold as intended or even warmed through.  I actually like it both ways.  I have also been known to freeze the salad when we have eaten enough and use for quick and tasty lunch boxes.

Noodle and Vegetable Salad
(recipe adapted from WW Everyday Low Point Cooking)

Serves: 4

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
4 cups cooked egg noodles
4 spring onions, sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
100 grams snow peas, shredded
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

In a 2 cup jug mix together the sesame oil, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce and lime juice until combined.

Lightly steam or microwave the asparagus pieces until tender.  Rinse in cold water until cool.

Place asparagus, noodles, spring onion, capsicum, carrot and snow peas in large bowl.  Drizzle with the sauce.

Toss gently to combine all ingredients.

Place into four takeaway containers (if desired) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jo's Tex Mex Beef Burger

Every now and then all one craves is a Burger and not a tacky takeaway mass produced like McDonald's or Hungry Jacks one either except of course in a hungover state they are indeed pretty comforting.

This burger was made even better by the fact that we minced our own beef to create the patty.  The patty itself was so different being freshly minced with nothing added to it except for some salt and pepper.

A soft bap, some coleslaw, guacamole, sliced cheese, onion, grilled pineapple, jalapenos, and a dollop of homemade Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce and to be perfectly honest I was in Burger Heaven!!!!

This now has to be my all time favourite burger even if I made it up myself.

Jo's Tex Mex Beef Burger

Serves: 4

1 kilogram diced chuck steak (or minced beef)
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1 brown onion, sliced
1 ripe avocado
440 gram tin sliced pineapple rings, drained
4 soft white Bap rolls or rolls of your choice
4 slices tasty cheese
1 cup coleslaw
sliced pickled jalapeno's to taste

Using a grinding attachment to the mixer put the diced chuck through the grinder on the rough (thickest) blade first.  Then change blades to the finer setting and push the meat through again.  In a large bowl season the mince with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Mix well.  Form into 4 round balls and place on a plate.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes.

Cut avocado in half, remove stone, and scoop flesh out of each half.  Place in a medium bowl.  Add the taco seasoning and mix well.  Place in fridge.

Heat grill or large frying pan.  Add oil and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5 - 10 minutes or until onions are softened.

Place burgers on the grill and flatten to desired thickness.  Cook over medium- high heat for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through, only turning once.

Place pineapple slices on the grill or in frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side.

Cut bap rolls in half and place on individual plates.  Place two tablespoons of avocado mixture on the bottom bun and spread over to cover.

Then assemble the stack with the beef burger, onions, cheese, jalapeno's and pineapple.  Dollop with 1 tablespoon of Chipolte and Molasses Steak Sauce, top with 1/4 cup coleslaw and the bun lid.

Grab in both hands and enjoy...... have napkins ready.

Noel getting his mince on..... LOL!!!  The key is to mince the meat twice.  Put it through the rough setting first and then through the finer grinding blade.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ricotta, Mixed Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagne

As Garfield once said "Once again I'm saved by the miracle of... lasagne!"
I have to agree... one of my favourite pastas to experiment with is Lasagne sheets.  We have tried making so many different lasagnes and they have all been yum!  To be honest I just think it's all about the layers.  Layers and layers of fillings, sauces, flavours.....
This one, a vegetarian delight, is very simple to make.  Not as many ingredients in this one as I have used in others, but I was really happy with the outcome. 

To be honest, being a meat lover, I was a little worried about this dish while I was assembling.  Putting in it in the oven I prayed that all of us would enjoy dinner or it would be frozen meals of our own choice.  Surprisingly... it was nice.  The flavours of the mushrooms and the zucchini noticeable throughout each layer, with the slight hint of chilli and herbs.

Very enjoyable and such a nice change to the normal meaty lasagne.

Ricotta, Mixed Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagne
(recipe adapted from WW Program Cookbook 2015)
Serves: 8
ProPoints per serve: 9
cooking spray
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
400 grams button mushrooms, thinly sliced
400 grams Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 x 400 gram can diced tomatoes
1 - 2 teaspoons crushed chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper
4 large zucchini, coarsely grated
1 kilogram reduced fat fresh ricotta cheese
2 egg, lightly whisked
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 lasagne sheets
1 cup grated reduced fat tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Lightly spray a large ovenproof dish with oil.

Heat oil in a large non stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.  Remove half the onion mixture and set aside.  Add combined mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or untl tender.

Add tomatoes and chilli flakes and bring to the boil.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Squeeze excess liquid from zucchini.  Combine zucchini, ricotta, reserved onion mixture, eggs and oregano in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon one third of the mushroom mixture over based of prepared dish.  Top with 1 lasagne sheet.  Spread with one third of the ricotta mxture.  Continue layering with remaining mushroom mixture, lasagne sheets and ricotta mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. 

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing

While purchasing Stout for another recipe, my husband was questioned by the Irish salesman if he was planning to drink the stout. 

My husband replied "No we are using it to marinate pork ribs in."

The salesman said "oh the best cake I have ever eaten was a Chocolate Stout Cake".

Of course Noel came home and told me of this conversation and then, needless to say, I was on a baking mission.....  Chocolate Stout Cake!!

As usual Google produced so many different versions of this cake so I ended up combining a few ideas from here and there.....

The result - MAGNIFICENT!!  A little fiddly to make but definitely worth the effort.

Even hubby sent me a Facebook message telling me "this is one of the yummiest cakes I have eaten and is in my top 5 of all time favourites, so moist and a great balance  of chocolate flavour without the sugar overload and icing/frosting marries perfectly with the sponge, would it work with vanilla sponge?  Another reason why I love you so much xxx :)"

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing

Serves: 12
1 cup Stout or Guinness beer
350 grams butter
100 grams cocoa powder
400 grams caster sugar
2/3 cup lite (fat reduced) sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
500­ grams sifted chocolate icing mixture
100 grams sifted icing sugar
250 grams reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream (or to taste)

Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray and line a 23cm (9") spring form pan or cake tin.

Melt 250 grams butter into the Guinness in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and take the saucepan off the heat.

Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined, than add to the beer mixture.

Whisk in the flour and bicarb until combined.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for an hour. The middle of the cake may still be slightly wet when you take the cake out, but it will firm up as it cools down.  Leave to cool completely in the tin as it is quite a damp cake and could collapse.

To make the icing cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.  Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated.

Add in Baileys. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.

Spread over top of completely cooled cake.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ratatouille with Eggs

Eggplant - aubergine - eggplant - aubergine.....
What ever you call this sexy purple little number it's definitely a winner.  Eggplant, I have since found out is actually a fruit.  It's a species of nightshade grown specifically for it's edible fruit which is widely used in cooking, most famously as one of the key ingredients in Moussaka and Ratatouille. Eggplant is low in fat, protein, and carbohydrates but sadly it contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals.
The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Eggplant, due to its texture and bulk, can be used as a meat substitute suitable for vegan/vegetarian recipes. The fruit flesh is smooth, as in the related tomato (hahaha another fruit) and the skin is edible.  From chutneys, curries, baked dishes or even meat filled eggplants are such a versatile ingredient used in the cuisine of many countries.

But for a vitamin packed brunch (breakfast) we had this veggie and "fruit" medley - definitely the perfect start to Sunday morning.  Eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onions and herbs enveloped in tomato sauce served with eggs and turkish bread.... mmmmmmmmm!!!

Minus the eggs (and toast) this Ratatouille is the perfect side dish for barbecue meats etc..... just saying!!

Ratatouille with Eggs
(Recipe adapted from WW Double Up Dinners Cookbook)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per serve: 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 fresh or dried bay leaf
6 fresh thyme sprigs, with extra to serve
2 medium eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes
500grams zucchinis, sliced in half lengthways and thickly sliced
2 red capsicums, cut into 3cm cubes
200 grams button mushroom, sliced
2 x 400grams can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 - 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
12 eggs

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-hight heat.
Cook onion, garlie, bay leaves and thyme sprigs, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add eggplant, zucchini, capsicums, mushrooms, tomatoes, oregano and chilli flakes.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and mixture thickens.  Discard bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Heat a non stick frying pan over high heat.  Fry eggs to your liking.  Top ratatoille with eggs and extra thyme. 
Serve with toasted bread of your choice, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Goan Chicken Curry

Ooohhh la la.... "spice kick central"!!  The aroma's, the flavours, the heat......This chicken curry dish was magnificent.
I have probably mentioned this before but I love making curries from scratch.  Not a fan of premade jar pastes... there is something very therapeutic about the whole proccess of measuring, mixing, blending and cooking with the outcome so fresh, fragrant and worth the effort.

Goa is an Indian state located along India's west coast.  It is a tropical climate which means that the spices and the flavours are intense.  Chicken, lamb, seafood, coconut milk rice and  spices are some of the main ingredients in the Goan Cuisine.
I will have to admit there is quite a bit of heat in this saucy little number... a bit too hot for the boy but hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed.  There was a hint of coconut in each spice filled mouthfull which definitely left the tastebuds jumping for joy.
And yes it was way better the next day - just like all good curries should be.

Goan Chicken Curry
Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 7
30 grams shredded coconut
3 long dried red chillies
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 garlic cloves
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup chicken stock
500 gram lean chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed, halved
fresh coriander leaves

Cook coconut ina medium non stick frying pan over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden.  Set aside.
Reduce heat to low and using the same pan cook the chillies, cloves, star anise, corriander seeds, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, tumeric and cinnamon, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Remove from heat.
Place coconut and spice mixture in a mortar and pestle and grind until very fine.
Place garlic and half the onion in a food processor and process to form a paste.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook remaining onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add coconut mixture and onion paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add stock and chicken and bring to the boil.  reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, turning chicken once, for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Transfer chicken to a plate.
Simmer sauce for 8 minutes or until thickened,.  Return chicken to pan and cook until heated through.  Serve with fresh coriander and steamed basmati rice, adding 3 PPTs for 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce

Nothing beats a chargrilled steak except of course a chargrilled steak with yummy sauce.  I found this recipe on another foodie site, Flanboyant Eats, and instantly knew I had to try it.

Unlike most sauces this one had NO cooking - using a premade sauce as it's base and the addition of few other ingredients - voila I had a steak sauce made in 5 minutes.

I liked it... a nice hint of heat from the Chipotle combined with the already existent flavour of the HP Sauce and added niceness of cumin..... 

Chipotle and Molasses Steak Sauce
(recipe adapted from Flanboyant Eats)
Makes: 1 cup 

8 tablespoons HP Sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Chipotle hot sauce
1/2 teaspoons cumin
pinch salt

In medium jug add HP sauce, molasses and Worcestershire sauce and stir with metal whisk.

Add remaining ingredients and whisk until molasses is well incorporated.

Set aside until ready to use or bottle for later use.

Broccoli, Mushroom and Onion Medley

I love broccoli but not normally as a side dish. Why? I hate the fact it goes cold really quickly (so does cauliflower) on the plate when it's sitting there waiting to be eaten.

We had char-grilled steak for dinner and I wanted to incorporate this stunning vitamin packed vegetable into our meal.. And we did!

I will admit I enlisted the assistance of Google and of course my friends on Facebook and received lots of good suggestions. I especially loved my Uncle Poppy's suggestion of putting it in a plastic bag, microwave it and then eat it from the bag!! I guess it would go cold on the plate then LOL!

I settled on a medley, a quick stir fry, of broccoli, mushrooms and onions! So simple - quick, easy, and super tasty!!

And more importantly - it stayed warm!!!

Broccoli, Mushroom and Onion Medley

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
200 grams button mushrooms, quartered
1 red onion, sliced

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Add garlic, broccoli, mushrooms and onions.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender.

Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spicy Pork, Black Bean, Eggplant and Mushroom Hot Pot

We are sneaking in a few meals this week using different ingredients as our daughter is away on holidays in Japan.  Yes we are cooking with foods she's not a fan off.... LOL!!  Generally I will boast that both my kids have very cultured palates but we are still working on a few ingredients that sometimes don't get to be cooked due to dislikes.  Eggplants and mushrooms are two avoided vegetables with her.  Apparently it's a texture thing.

Needless to say I thought this dish was wonderful.  Full of flavour and easy to make.  I was actually surprised that it was prepared in a flash and cooked in the oven.
I am not a fan of premade black bean sauce so I did use salted black beans (which I purchased at an Asian food store) making the black bean flavour a little more subtle and not as harsh in my opinion. 

Teamed with steamed Choy Sum and plain noodles I nearly thought I was in Asian for a moment.

Spicy Pork, Black Bean, Eggplant and Mushroom Hot Pot
(recipe adapted from WW Program Cookbook 2015)

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 11

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
1 red onion, finely chopped
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
500 grams lean pork mince
4 tablespoons drained salted black beans (or 2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce)
1 cup water
440 gram packet egg noodles
2 bunches choy sum, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Heat half the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over high heat.  Cook eggplant, stirring, in batches, for 2 - 3 minutes or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining oil to the dish.  Cook onion and mushroom, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic, ginger and chilli.  Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.

Return eggplant to pan with black beans and water.  Bring back to the boil.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or until pork mixture is thick and eggplant is very tender.

Cook noodles as per the packet instructions.  Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile boil, steam or microwave choy sum until tender.  Drain.

Serve hot pot with choy sum and noodles.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Springtime Alfredo Pasta with Bacon

Finally it's Spring (well officially it has been for 14 days now).  It's a beautiful time of the year!

I love Spring - new flowers growing and blooming, warmer weather, longer light hours (daylight savings is around the corner) and the new season fruit and vegetables are starting to appear in the supermarket produce section.

Everyone's favourite is pasta - such a fabulous comfort food especially creamy pasta.  Alfredo is one of my daughter's "to die for" sauces and to be honest if asked it would be a toss up between Alfredo or Carbonara every single time if I allowed her to choose the sauce for the pasta dish.

Now you may see a few changes with the blog and I am pleased to announce that we will be moving over to a website in the near future.... change is good though.  I am working on it so that's a positive.  The other change is that I am no longer a member of Weight Watchers for a variety of reasons and therefore loose access to the online tools where I build in many recipes to receive the ProPoints per serve.  Where I can I will try and add them to the recipes but don't stress I will still endeavour to post healthier options of recipes etc.

Springtime Alfredo Pasta with Bacon

Serves: 4

250 grams fettuccine or pasta of your choice
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
250grams reduced fat bacon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red capsicum, chopped
400 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthways and sliced
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 x 375ml can light evaporated milk
1/3 cup extra light cream
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water as instructed on the packet or until just tender. Drain and return to pan.

Meanwhile steam, microwave or boil broccoli until just tender.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and bacon, cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until onion is softened.  Add garlic, capsicum, mushrooms, zucchini and water.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes or until capsicum is tender.

Place cornflour and 1/4 cup evaporated milk in a jug and whisk well.  Add remaining evaporated milk to jug.  Add to the vegetable mixture and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens.  Add the cream, parmesan and the broccoli and stir until heated through.

Add the vegetable mixture to the pasta and stir gently to combine.