Welcome to My Kitchen

My personal blog and an account of my adventures in the kitchen. I am a stay at home mum of my two youngest kids, both teenagers. I have four adult children and four grandchildren with one on the way. We live in country NSW, Australia and we love our country life.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weet Bix Slice

This is a healthy slice that travels well for school and work snacks, and is lovely with a cup of tea.  You could even serve it warm with a bit of custard for dessert.  Even though the fat used is reduced fat spread it's still quite a lot, as is the sugar content, so this is a "sometimes" food.

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
4 crushed Weet Bix (or any wheat breakfast biscuit)
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup sultanas (I'm going to try it with fruit medley too)
6 level tablespoons low fat spread
1 level tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 cup icing sugar
1 level tablespoon lemon juice
1 level tablespoon skim milk
Preheat oven 180C (fan forced)
Coat a slab tin with cooking spray.  I crush the Weet Bix by putting them in a freezer bag and using a rolling pin.
Combine flour, Weet Bix, sultanas and brown sugar.  Melt spread in the microwave for 30 seconds, add the molasses and milk and mix together then pour over the dry ingredients and combine well.
Press into the slab tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned.
Sift the icing sugar and mix with the lemon juice and milk and pour over hot slice.
Leave to cool before cutting into 15 squares, or bigger if preferred.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kick Arse Slow Cooker Curried Sausages

I have been searching for a decent "made from scratch" recipe for the old fashioned family dish, Curried Sausages, for years, as opposed to the recipe bases that can be bought in the supermarket.  My mother used to make it with curry powder and *gag* put sultanas and apples in it!  And she wondered why I never liked "curry".  I finally decided to make up my own using curry paste.  For us, it was perfect.

8 good quality sausages of medium thickness (Macs Meats, Junee have the best!)
1/4 cup plain flour
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray or olive oil
2 carrots, one diced, one cut into rings
2 large potatoes (or 4 small) chopped into chunks
2 onions, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 tbs Massaman curry paste
3/4 cup beef stock
green beans, about 100g or more to taste

Put the flour into a plastic bag, season with the pepper and add the sausages and coat with the flour.
Spray pan, or slow cooker insert if suitable, with cooking spray.  If the sausages are very lean (like our wonderful Junee sausages) you may need some olive oil.  Fry in batches till browned, set aside.
Add the vegetables and fry until slightly browned.  Add the curry paste and mix into the vegies and fry until fragrant.

Add the sausages then pour over the stock and mix it in.  Put slow cooker insert into base or add mixture to slow cooker.  I cooked it on low for just five hours and it was enough, you will know your own cooker.  About half way through cut up beans into pieces and add to the cooker.

Serves 4 as a complete meal.
If you cooked this on the stovetop it would only take around 40 minutes until the vegies were fork tender.
You could leave out the potatoes and serve it with rice, but the potatoes add heartiness to the dish and serve to thicken the sauce up a bit.
I didn't photograph the finished dish, will do so next time.

Crab Cakes

I would have tizzied them up for the photo but this was part of dinner last night and I had a hungry family waiting!  Panko crumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs which can be found in most supermarkets in the Asian food section.
Approximately 240g (8 oz) drained crabmeat
(I used fresh meat from a 170g tub and made up the difference with chopped cooked prawns)
3 spring onions, finely sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves shredded, or zest of one lime
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped, or 1/2 tsp dried crushed chilli
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 eggs (if small one more may be needed for crumbing)
2 tsp mayonnaise
1 + 3/4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp garlic salt or 1/4 tsp salt and some garlic powder
1 cup oil for frying

Put crabmeat (and prawns if using), kaffir lime leaves, chilli, fish sauce, oyster sauce, 1 egg, mayonnaise and 3/4 cup panko into a food processor.  Process to combine.
Form into cakes, adding more mayo or panko as needed to keep cakes together, about 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Mix 3/4 cup panko crumbs with the garlic seasoning, in another bowl mix the eggs.
Dip the cakes first into the egg then the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok until a bit of panko sizzles.
Lower the crab cakes into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes each side until golden and crispy, cooking in batches if necessary depending on the size of the pan.
Drain and serve with sweet chilli sauce and mayo.
Serves 6 as an appetiser.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Aussie Meat Pies

The humble meat pie is an Aussie icon.  Just the right size to hold in one hand at the footy, a quick and easy lunch on the run from the bakery or even an easy dinner served with mash and veg.  I decided to try a healthier version.
This meat mixture makes enough for six smallish sized pies, about the same as you'd get in a bakery or pie shop.  If you're serving less you can freeze the rest of the meat for later.

500g gravy beef, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup plain flour
black pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely (I used four!)
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
(I added some diced mushrooms that I had leftover)
beef stock (about 3/4 cup for slow cooker, 1 cup for stovetop)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
More freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 sheets frozen reduced fat puff pastry
2 sheets reduced fat shortcrust pastry
olive oil cooking spray
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 200C (390F) or 180C and 370F fan forced.
Put flour and freshly ground black pepper into bag and add diced beef, shake to coat.

Spray pan with cooking oil and saute vegies and garlic for a few minutes until soft.  Remove, spray pan again with cooking spray and heat, add beef in batches and brown.

Add vegies back into pan and add the tomato paste, stirring it into the meat and vegies to cook off the rawness.  Add stock, sauce and herbs.  Cover and simmer on stove for about 2 hours or until meat is very tender.  I cooked mine on low for about eight hours in my slow cooker.  It doesn't matter if the meat starts to break down and go mushy, that's what you want in a proper meat pie.
I used disposable foil pie tins but any little dish with sides could be used.
Put dish upside down on shortcrust pastry and cut around to make the bottoms.
Lightly spray some cooking spray into the tins then line with the pastry.
Put some baking paper on top of the pastry and fill with baking beads.  I use split peas and return them to the jar to use again, you can use rice or lentils or specially made ceramic beads if you want to get fancy (but it is an Aussie meat pie after all!)  Blind bake in a hot oven (about 200C) for ten minutes, remove the beads and paper and bake for another five minutes or so.  Fill pie shells with meat mixture that has been cooled slightly.  Cut rounds out of the puff pastry, if you're careful you can get three discs from each sheet of pastry but this depends, of course, on how big your pie tins are.  Crimp the pastry down onto the bottom shell, cut a little hole in the top with the tip of a sharp knife and brush with beaten egg.

Bake in a hot oven, about 200C for twenty minutes but watch them carefully.  I left the kitchen and got sidetracked and caught the pies just before the tops burned too much to be palatable!
We had them with oven fries and salad.

Yesterday I made pies with the rest of the meat and added chopped fried bacon and some grated light cheddar cheese onto the top of the meat and a little on the top pastry.  I froze one and Phill thawed it out and heated it up in a slow oven for lunch and said it was very good.
Of course they must be served with tomato sauce (Ketchup).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pea and Ham Soup

2 onions, sliced
300g split peas
1 ham hock
10 cups water
2 carrots, diced
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced celery
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbs lemon juice

Put onions, thyme, bay leaf, peas, pepper and ham hock into saucepan with water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
Add carrots and celery and simmer for a further hour.  Remove thyme and bay leaf.  Take out the ham hock and remove the meat, chop and return to the pan.
Add lemon juice.

Serves 4.

This is such an easy and simple soup to make.  If I'm busy I often just put the whole lot in first go and just cook it for a couple of hours.  Also if it's left to sit overnight or for a few hours it tends to thicken up.  The flavour is wonderful with no stock needed, it all comes from the hock and the vegies.  It freezes beautifully.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chicken and Mushroom Crepes

400g skinless chicken breast, chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup light evaporated milk
2 tsp cornflour
splash wine
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onions chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
50g extra light cheese, grated (Bega)
2 tsp light butter
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
white pepper
4 ready made frozen crepes (Creative Gourmet)

Add the cornflour to the evaporated milk and whisk.
Coat a non stick frypan with cooking spray and cook the chicken until brown and just cooked through.  Remove from pan and add the mushrooms and butter and saute till soft.  Return the chicken to the pan, add the garlic, spring onions, milk, stock, tarragon, wine and pepper.
Bring to the boil and simmer until sauce thickens.  Add salt if you think it needs it.
Divide mixture between four crepes and roll up, place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray, scatter the cheese evenly over crepes, and put under the grill or in the oven, until the cheese is melted.
Serves 4 @ 8 ProPoints.
The flavour of these crepes was wonderful.  I only made three as it was only the kids and I tonight, but I froze the other portion of sauce which will make a quick and easy meal for someone with a thawed crepe and a bit of grated cheese.  We had ours with a big mixed salad.  We have all sorts of ideas for crepes now, both sweet and savoury.  I'm going to try them with prawns in a garlic cream sauce.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Satay Chicken

600gm skinless chicken breast
(or 6 pork butterfly steaks)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
(I used eschallot because I needed to use them up but they have a more delicate flavour as well)
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup coconut flavoured light evaporated milk
(or plain with 1 tsp coconut essence)

Cut the chicken, or pork, into strips and thread onto twelve wooden kebab sticks.
Coat griddle pan with cooking spray, heat to high and cook chicken skewers, in batches if necessary until browned and cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and saute the onion and garlic for two minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients.  You might need to whisk it a bit to break up the peanut butter.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cook for a few minutes till thickened.  Set aside, sauce will thicken a little more on standing.

Serve chicken skewers with sauce spooned over.  Garnish with some fresh coriander if desired.
Serves 6 @ 6 ProPoints.

Everyone enjoyed this tonight, I think next time I would add more chilli powder or some minced chilli into the sauce.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peppered Steak

4 x 125g fillet steaks
2 tbs canned green peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine the steaks, peppercorns and brandy in a small bowl.  Marinate overnight.  (I put mine in in the morning and they were ready for dinner).
Drain, and reserve marinade.
Coat a non stick pan with cooking spray and heat, cook steaks until cooked to desired tenderness.
Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Combine the reserved marinade and buttermilk.  Add to the pan and bring to the boil.  Pour over steaks just before serving.

Serves 4 @ 7 ProPoints per serve.

My sauce split for some reason, I don't remember that happening before.  Next time I might add the marinade to the pan and heat before stirring in the buttermilk.  It still tasted great though.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

1 cup onions, chopped (about one and a half onions)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups water
2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled (or two tsp chicken stock powder)
480g pumpkin, diced
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
chopped parsley or coriander, to serve.
Coat a saucepan with cooking spray, saute the onion until transparent. Add cumin, coriander and nutmeg and heat until aromatic, stirring constantly.
Add water, pumpkin and stock cubes and simmer for ten minutes.
Add tomatoes and simmer a further ten minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Cool a little and process in a blender or processor until smooth.

Serve with a swirl of yoghurt or light sour cream and garnish with fresh coriander or parsley.

Serves 4 @ 0 ProPoints.

This is a recipe that can be tweaked according to your taste.  You could add some crushed or chopped fresh garlic, and cauliflower is great in soups it adds a creaminess that belies its zero points value, just add a bit more water.  This soup freezes and reheats well.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chilli Lime Chicken with Rosti and Salsa

This is an old bbq recipe that we've been using for years, but it's a great Weight Watchers dish because all you count is the chicken, the rest of the marinade is point free.
4 x 125 chicken breasts, pounded to even size if necessary
1/3 cup lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs grated ginger, fresh or bottled
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tbs soy sauce
2 spring onions, chopped

Mix all marinade ingredients in a shallow dish and add chicken, turning to coat.  Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Cook on a bbq or griddle pan until brown and tender. 
Serves 4 @ 5 ProPoints each. 

Avocado and Red Onion Salsa
1/2 avocado chopped
Red onion to taste, chopped (I used about a quarter)
Handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped
Juice of half a lime.
Freshly ground black pepper.
A little salt.
 Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Sit for a while as you cook the chicken.
Serves 4 @ 1 ProPoint each.

Potato Rosti
320g potato, peeled
1 spring onion chopped
1 clove garlic (or more to taste)
1 small egg white, beaten
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil

Par boil potatoes, whole or cut in half if large, until just starting to soften on the outside.
Leave to cool, then grate coarsely and mix with other ingredients.  Heat the oil in a medium pan to a fairly high heat, heap four equal spoons of mixture into pan then flatten with an oiled spatula.  Cook until brown, don't be tempted to turn them too soon or they might fall apart.  Turn and cook the other side until brown.
Serves 4@ 3 ProPoints each.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crunchy Nut Chicken

4 125g chicken breasts, pounded to an even size
2 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 egg white
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/4 cup skim milk
cooking oil spray

Preheat oven (fan forced) to 180C
Crush macadamia nuts, I do them in the small bowl of my stab blender, or you could use a small food processor.  Crush the cornflakes in the same way or even in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.
Add the chicken stock powder and mix well.
Beat the egg white with the milk.

Dip each breast into the milk mixture then the crumbs, pressing on to coat each side.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spray with cooking oil spray.
Place the crumbed chicken onto the tray and spray liberally with the cooking spray.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Serves 4.
9 ProPoints per serve.
You wouldn't believe how something cooked in the oven with so little oil could be so crunchy outside and succulent and juicy inside, this is a real treasure of a recipe.
I made a healthy salad dressing with some organic apple cider vinegar, honey (I used health giving Manuka) crushed garlic, tahini and a little freshly cracked black pepper.  Everyone loved it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Caesar Salad

Or my version of it. 
I baguette (French bread stick) I used about two thirds of a day old loaf, sliced thinly
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic or to taste

Mix the oil with the garlic, let it stand for a bit if time permits so the garlic infuses the oil, then lay the bread on a baking tray and pour over the garlic oil and mix them about, turning them to coat.  Bake in a 150C oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

4 anchovies, patted dry with paper towel
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coddle the egg by placing it into fast boiling water for a minute, then remove immediately and leave to cool.
Put all the ingredients, except the oil, cracking the coddled egg and scraping out the contents,  into a small food processor and process until smooth.  Gradually add the oil in a slow stream and blend until it thickens and emulsifies.

1 baby Cos (Romaine) lettuce
4 rashers of bacon, or more!
2 eggs, just hard boiled
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Shaved parmesan

Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain and break into pieces.  Hard boil two eggs, cool and quarter.

2 chicken breasts, or more if you're hungry
garlic powder
mustard powder
white pepper

Rub chicken breasts with a little garlic powder and mustard powder and sprinkle with white pepper.  Spray a griddle pan with cooking oil spray and char grill, then lower heat and cook through.
When cooked, rest for a few minutes before slicing .  Mine were thick and I didn't pound them so I finished them off in the oven.

Tear lettuce into pieces and put in a serving bowl, top with chicken, grated parmigiano, then add the dressing and toss.  Top with bacon, croutons, eggs and toss again, then top with some shaved parmesan and serve.
I was so nervous about this recipe because I never make up my own, but the family polished it off and said it was great (and I didn't have to pay them this time).  There was none left.  You could use less chicken, or more, no eggs, and no shaved parmesan.  The dressing is the key here.  You could also put the grated parmigiano into the dressing, I sprinkled it onto the salad. 
It really is worth buying the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, it's expensive, but I wrap mine in foil and put it in the freezer and when grated like that, a little really goes a long way.