Quick Easy Meals

Cheap Ways To Feed A Crowd Of Fussy Teenagers

We’ve created the best teenage hangout on the block, but with it has come the ‘wilder-beast!’ So I’ve had to brainstorm cheap meal ideas to keep our budget in tact while we’re feeding half the neighborhood.

RELATED: The Most Incredible Home-Made Pizza You Will Ever Taste

At first, it was pretty hit and miss, so an awful lot of good food was going to waste. Not to mention hours of my time as I stood in the kitchen preparing. Seriously, I’d never met so many veggie phoebes – and unless it came in a takeaway packet, it just wasn’t getting anywhere near their stomachs!

Baked potatoes

So I’ll start will the crowd favorite and that’s the humble baked potato. I’ve learned to allow 3 medium spuds for each six foot teenaged boy and let them top it themselves (that’s the key). Then they can put as much, or as little, of whatever they like on top. It’s surprising how teens who hate veggies will devour a baked spud topped with baked beans!

All I do is put the oven on high, spike the potatoes with a fork about half a dozen times and wrap them in foil. They take about an hour to cook through properly. While this is happening I prepare the topping. The beauty about this meal is that you can basically use whatever you’ve got or buy toppings specifically for your spuds. I keep baked beans, pineapple, grated cheese, butter and sour cream in the house just in case. However, when I pre-plan the meal, I’ll buy bacon and coleslaw. I cook up the bacon with a bit of garlic and unbeknownst to them, they love it!

Finger food

Another crowd pleaser at our place is finger food. If I’m not expecting the heard, then I’ll put out trays of toasted sandwiches filled with basic stuff like cheese, ham or tomatoes and they literally vanish in seconds. Plus, I always make sure there’s bread and toppings like Vegemite, peanut butter and jam accessible so they can find something to eat 24/7.

Dim Sims are another food staple for this lot. When we’re really strapped for cash, I’ll buy Homebrand dim sims ($4 for 20) and steam them. Surprisingly, even the fussiest eaters will load up on dim sims, so they are great value for money. Other Homebrand products like chicken nuggets, chips and even meat patties are great to have on hand for emergencies – specifically because they get eaten.

Ironically, I used to spend valuable time and money making home made veggie slices and lovingly prepared meals, but they didn’t get eaten by everyone and at least half of my effort was ending up in the bin.

Homemade fast food

Alternately, I make home made pizzas, sausage rolls, pies and fast food type meals which can be made in bulk, in advance and frozen. That’s great when, and if, I have the time (and the cash), but if I don’t, other foods such as bacon and egg muffins and items that can be purchased at McDonald’s also get gobbled up.

Final tip

I’ve discovered that feeding a crowd of fussy teenagers on a budget is pretty easy. It’s simply a matter of providing foods that they will actually eat. Basically, teens live on fast food and takeaway when they are out. So I figure, if I provide similar foods I won’t be wasting money, time or energy preparing foods that will ultimately end up in the bin.

Would I prefer that they eat my veggie slices? Absolutely. But I’d rather prepare it specifically for my teens who I know will eat it, rather than see it end up as scraps.

Image via inkfreenews.com

August 10, 2015

Meatballs With Fettucine And Tomato Sauce Recipe

The big chill has set in and so too has our appetite for warming and hearty meals. What better way to satisfy cravings than with this delicious meatballs with fettucine recipe from Zoey Bingley-Pullin? Containing fresh herbs for antioxidants and a homemade tomato sauce to minimise any nasties, it’s the perfect dinner option to fight off those winter blues.

RELATED: Lamb And Vegetable Samosa Pie With Sweet Potato Recipe

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

Meatballs

500g pork and beef mince

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves

1/4 tsp salt

Pinch black ground pepper

Tomato sauce and fettucine

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, grated

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup roughly torn basil leaves

2 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves

400g fettuccine

Salad

2-3 handfuls baby spinach leaves

1 truss tomato, roughly chopped

1 tbsp shaved parmesan cheese

Dressing of your choice

To serve

1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

2 tbsp torn basil leaves

Method

  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix well. Use clean, damp hands to roll mixture into small balls (about 2 teaspoons per ball). Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large fry-pan on medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add carrot and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir through tomatoes, basil and oregano and bring to a simmer (use the back of a wooden spoon to break up tomatoes). Add meatballs to the sauce, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Turn meatballs once during cooking. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. While the meatballs and sauce are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook fettuccine in boiling water for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain.
  5. Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  6. To serve, spoon fettuccine into bowls, top with a few meatballs and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and basil leaves. Serve salad on the side.

Recipe courtesy of My Food Bag

June 2, 2015

Essential Pantry Items To Fix A Quick Meal

Most of us would have had one of those days when we’ve forgotten to defrost something for dinner. Then you look in the fridge to make a quick meal and nothing jumps out at you. This is when having some pantry back ups can really come in handy. Instead of dialing the local pizza bar and waiting an hour for food to be delivered you’ll be able to put something together a lot quicker and significantly cheaper.

RELATED Left Over Cooked Chook: 5 Minutes Sensational Stir-Fry

Baked beans

Everyone should have a can or two of baked beans in the pantry. They are good for you, filling and a great ingredient for a quick health meal. You can load them up on toast, put them inside bread to make a baked bean toasty, add them to Spaghetti Bolognese or even pop the top, grab a fork and eat them hot or cold.

Tuna

Tuna is one of those foods which store well in the pantry and have as a back up. You might be able to scrape a few things together to make a quick mornay, have it on crackers, toast or in a sandwich. Perhaps you could add lettuce and mayonnaise and make a simple salad. One of our family favorites is tuna pasta which is easy to make and is great for school lunches the following day. The only things you need is tuna, pasta (whatever shape), tomato pieces, paste or soup and long life cream.

Long-life cream

One of the most versatile foods to have in the pantry is long life cream. It can be found in the long life milk section of the supermarket and it a relatively new product compared to other food staples. You can do so much with this and turn a quick boring meal into a creamy sensation. For example I add it to pasta dishes and savory mince meals. The trick is to use your imagination and see what you can come up with. There are lactose free and 99 % fat free versions so you don’t need to feel too guilty about adding cream to a meal.

Canned vegetables

These are essential if you suddenly end up with more people to feed. Anyone with teens can probably relate. Corn is a favorite in our house and it’s great for lunch boxes and a quick snack. There’s also pea combinations or solo varieties which are really versatile. Canned tomatoes are a must for every pantry because there is just so much which can be made with them. There are a lot of canned vegetable varieties available now so try some out and see what you think.

Corn and plain flour

These are really handy to make sauces because they thicken natural juices.  It only takes a spoonful to create Asian food like an expert. Plus if you’ve got a pack of frozen veggies in the freezer you can make a quick white sauce and viola, instant meal the family will love.

The idea with pantry staples is to stock up when things are on special and always have something on hand for times when you look in the fridge and nothing jumps out at you. It’s incredible just how much inspiration can be found lurking behind the pantry doors.

 Image twitter.com

May 18, 2015

Octopus With Almond Puree, Garlic, Chilli And Olive Oil Recipe

Cooking octopus can be a challenge, so when Massimo Mele of La Scala on Jersey revealed his secret to cooking octopus in the Electrolux Taste Theatre at Taste of Sydney last week, we knew we had to share the amazing dish that he whipped up using his Nonna’s recipe.

RELATED: Duck Confit With Fennel Salad Recipe

It really doesn’t get much more authentic than this, so enjoy!

Ingredients

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) octopus tentacles

5 garlic cloves, lightly smashed

1 long red chilli, sliced (seeds removed, if you prefer mild hotness)

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf (Italian)

Parsley

1 tbsp chopped marjoram

250 ml white wine vinegar

250 ml mild extra virgin

Olive oil

Extra white wine vinegar, to serve

1 head fennel

1/2 head of raddccio

1 celery heart light green leaves only

Almond tarator

2 slices of sourdough bread

1/2 cup almond meal

2 garlic cloves

1⁄2 cup water

50ml lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil as needed

100ml milk

Method

  1. Place a large saucepan of sea water over high heat and bring to the boil. If sea water is unattainable, add 500g of rock salt to 5 litres (20cups) of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Blanch the octopus three times in boiling water for about 5 seconds each time. Once complete, turn the heat down and add the octopus and potatoes to the same pan. Gently simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Remove the octopus from the pan and set aside.
  4. Once the octopus is cool enough to handle, chop it into 5 cm pieces and put in a non-reactive bowl.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients and leave to marinate for 2 hours minimum in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove the garlic. Season with more vinegar and season with freshly ground black pepper. It shouldn’t need any salt.
  7. For the tarator, dip bread in milk and leave for 15 minutes.
  8. Squeeze dry, Place almond meal in processor with garlic. Add water to make a smooth paste.
  9. Add olive oil, a little salt and pepper, lemon juice to taste. A little extra water might be needed. Consistency should be light and fluffy.
  10. To serve place some almond tarator on a plate, top with marinated octopus.
  11. Finely slice some fennel, radicchio and celery heart and place on top and serve.
March 25, 2015

Tomato, Pickled Radish And Blood Orange Salad Recipe

With the cooler months fast approaching, it’s time to make the most of the salad season while you still can. This blood orange salad recipe is like summer in a bowl: fresh, bright and pairs perfectly with a glass of bubbles!

RELATED: Easy Prawn And Avocado Wraps

Ingredients

Salad

1 bunch radish

1 punnet baby radish

50 ml white balsamic

1 teaspoon sea salt

500g heirloom tomatoes, randomly sliced

2 blood oranges

¼ cup mint leaves, picked

¼ cup basil leaves, picked

2 balls buffalo mozzarella

Method

  1. Using a mandolin, finely slice the radish. Halve the baby radish and place both into a bowl with salt and white balsamic. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel the blood oranges with a small knife and remove the segments using a v-cut. Squeeze out the excess juice and retain.
  3. For the dressing, combine blood orange juice, white balsamic, olive oil and season to taste.
  4. Strain the liquid from the radish, combine with tomato, orange segments, and herbs. Gently toss with half of the dressing.
  5. Place onto a serving plate, top with torn mozzarella, remainder of the dressing, cracked pepper and a few more mint leaves.

Recipe via Minchinbury Wines

March 11, 2015

Prawn, Avocado And Pawpaw Salad Recipe

Serves 4

Preparation time 25 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 red capsicum, cut into quarters, deseeded and membranes removed

2 avocados, diced

½ papaw, peeled, deseeded and diced

3 tbsp coriander, thinly sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

16 green prawns, peeled, deveined, tails left intact

Method

  1. Place capsicum pieces under grill and cook until skins turn black. Remove from grill and allow to cool. When cold, peel blackened skins and finely dice.
  2. Mix grilled capsicum, papaw, avocado, coriander and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl to make the salad.
  3. Heat fry pan and add remaining oil. Cook prawns until golden on one side and then turn and finishing cooking.
  4. Place papaw salad in the middle of the plate to create a bed for the prawns. Repeat with three other serving plates.
  5. Place four prawns on top of each salad. Season to taste.
December 18, 2014

Easy Italian Dinner Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

This hearty italian meal is high in taste and low in calories. Spinach and ricotta cannelloni allows you to enjoy the full satisfaction of a rich pasta dish, but not the guilt of a creamy carbonara or meaty bolognese. Spinach is high in iron, while fat-free ricotta is high in calcium and protein. One of the best things about making pasta is the prospect of leftovers for the next day. With cannelloni, you can even freeze the left overs to reheat and eat at a later date.

RELATED: Chicken Breast Recipes: Italian Crumbed Chicken

Ingredients

1lb reduced-fat/skim ricotta

7oz spinach leaves, chopped

1 (large) clove garlic, crushed

8 tubes Cannelloni (or fresh lasagne sheets)

16oz tomato-based pasta sauce

2oz Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 390ºF. Put the ricotta, spinach and garlic into a bowl and mix together well.
  2. Stuff mixture into cannelloni shells. If using lasagne sheets, spoon mixture down middle of sheet and roll into a tube.
  3. Spread a layer of tomato sauce over the base of a medium-large ovenproof dish. Place the cannelloni tubes side-by-side, arranging to best fill the dish. Pour over the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle parmesan on top. (You can add more parmesan at the end if you desire) Bake cannelloni in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is tender.
October 13, 2014

Miso Glazed Fish With Sesame Brown Rice Recipe

Miso paste (or fermented soybean paste) is a staple of the Japanese diet, made up of soybeans, salt and fungus though sometimes barley, rice or buckwheat may be added to alter the flavour.  Miso is a great source of manganese, zinc and copper, essential mineral antioxidants and has been linked to reducing the risk of some types of stroke.

RELATED: Check out these other foods rich in antioxidants

We’re all looking for quick and healthy dinner ideas because we’re working longer days and we don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals, so try this dish that takes less than thirty minutes to prepare and is full of miso flavour and goodness.

Ingredients:

3 tsp miso paste

3 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp orange juice

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp honey

4 white fish fillets

2 Lebanese cucumbers

1 ripe avocado

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups steamed brown rice

2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Mix together miso paste, soy sauce, orange juice, garlic and honey in a large bowl then add fish and coat with mixture.
  2. Cover and leave to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with non-stick paper.
  4. Take the fish from the marinade and place on the baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked through.
  6. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the cucumber into ribbons and place in a bowl.
  7. Peel and de-seed avocado then cut into small cubes.
  8. Combine cucumber, avocado, rice vinegar and sesame oil then toss to combine.
  9. Divide the rice among four plates then top with avocado mixture.
  10. Place fish on top then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Image via taste.com.au

September 21, 2014

Easy Mushroom And Spinach Risotto

When you’re in a rush and want to cook something simple yet tasty for dinner, pull out this risotto recipe that is sure to become a household favourite. Most of the ingredients you’ll probably already have in your panty, so it’s perfect when you’re stuck for ideas.

Ingredients:

1 litre salt reduced chicken stock

Olive oil

1 tsp crushed garlic

2 shallots, finely chopped

250g mushrooms, finely sliced (button mushrooms are fine but for more flavour use Portobello)

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

150g baby spinach

¾ cup finely grated parmesan

30g butter

Method

  1. Put stock and one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and keep hot.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan over a medium-high heat then cook shallots and mushrooms until shallots are soft.
  3. Add rice and garlic then cook for a further 2 minutes whilst stirring.
  4. Add wine and cook for 30 seconds or until wine has been absorbed.
  5. Add ½ cup of stock mixture to the rice, hen leave until stock has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  6. Repeat step above with the remaining stock mixture until the rice is tender.
  7. Remove the pan from heat and stir in spinach, parmesan cheese and butter.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

For a slightly different flavour try adding some chopped cooked bacon and shredded leftover chicken.

Image via taste.com.au

September 14, 2014

Easy Chicken And Leek Pot Pies

Sometimes we all need some good comfort food and these chicken and leek pot pies are just that.  Perfect for a cold day, they’re ready in less than 40 minutes and are full of flavour.  Don’t mess around with tricky pies – these are super easy, so give them a go!

RELATED: Looking for another easy dinner recipe?  Try this Greek-style lamb chop recipe that’s super easy too!

Ingredients

Olive oil

600g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and diced

4 rashers shortcut bacon, diced

1 medium leek, trimmed, halved and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves

¼ cup dry white wine

1 ½ sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tsp cornflour

½ cup chicken stock

¾ cup thickened cooking cream

200g broccoli, finely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat then cook chicken for five minutes or until brown.
  3. Add bacon, leek, garlic and rosemary and cook for a further five minutes or until leek is soft.
  4. Add wine then bring to the boil.
  5. Meanwhile, using a cutter, cut 6 x 8cm rounds from the pastry and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  6. Brush pastry rounds with egg and bake for ten minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden.
  7. Place cornflour in a jug then add two tablespoons of stock and stir until smooth.
  8. Stir in remaining stock then add to the frying pan with the cream.
  9. Bring to the boil, add broccoli, season with salt and pepper then reduce heat to a simmer.
  10. Simmer for five minutes until chicken is cooked and sauce has thickened.
  11. Spoon chicken mixture into 6 x ramekins then top with pastry rounds and serve.

Image via taste.com.au

August 21, 2014

Easy Pierogi Recipe

Pierogi is a traditional Polish dumpling dish. The dumplings can savory – stuffed with meat, or cheese and potato – or sweet. Here, I’m focusing on the cheese and potato pierogi, often called ‘ruskie’, or Russian, pierogi. They’re a cheap and relatively easy meal to make, and the product can be frozen for reheating in the future. Serve boiled or pan-fried.

Makes 40 dumplings

Ingredients

Filling

1 lb potatoes (red potatoes work best)

8 oz Farmer’s Cottage Cheese

4 onions

4 oz butter

Dough

2 ½ All-purpose flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup warm water

Salt to season

Serve with dill and sour cream

Method

  1. Cut the potatoes into quarters, place in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender. Drain the water and place potatoes in a large bowl. Mash until smooth.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook until golden, stirring when necessary.
  3. For the dough, pour flour into large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt. Combine egg and warm water with flour, adding more water if needed. The dough should not be sticky. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into three parts, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 15 minutes to rest.
  4. While the dough is resting, add cottage cheese to mashed potatoes and stir in a quarter of the onion-butter mixture. Mix well using clean hands. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dust work surface with flour and roll out dough until paper thin. Using a 3.5 inch pastry cutter, cut as many dough circles as possible (it should be around 8). Place a tablespoon of potato mixture in the center of the circle. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush around the edge of the circle and fold over to enclose filling. Make sure there are no air pockets.
  6. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook pierogi in batches of 4, for 3 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain  excess water.
  7. Reheat the rest of the onions in the skillet, add pierogi and lightly fry until golden and crisp on the outside. Serve with dill and sour cream, if desired.
July 28, 2014

Leftover Cooked Chook: 5-Minute Sensational Stir-Fry

If you are looking to turn last nights cooked chook or roast into something scrumptious, this very versatile recipe is for you. You can use up whatever type of left over meat or poultry you have, add whatever veggies you like and it’s a fast, healthy meal. 

Serves 4

Ingredients

1-2 cups left over cooked chicken, chopped or broken into small pieces

6 cups of frozen or fresh stir fry veggies

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons chicken stock powder

1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Heat non stick pan on high until it’s hot and add your veggies. Toss veggies for a couple of minutes as they cook and then turn down heat to medium.
  2. Add ginger, garlic, chicken stock and water. Stir though and place the lid on. Continue to toss veggies until they are about 2/3 cooked. The time will depend on whether you are using frozen or fresh.
  3. Add chicken and stir through veggie mix. Add soy sauce and replace lid. Cook for about 2 minutes and serve.

By Kim Chartres

July 19, 2014

Cucumber Salad With Orange-Coriander Dressing

Want a simple and quick dinner recipe that ticks all the healthy boxes and gives you a boost of energy all in one. The Cucumber Salad with Orange-Coriander Dressing is delicious and nutritious!

Ingredients

1 large cucumber

1/4 avocado

1 tablespoons sesame seeds

Dressing

1/2 bunch of coriander chopped

1/2 cup of Meko 100% Pure Coconut Water

1 orange peeled

2 tablespoon tahini

1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp maple syrup

salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Slice the cucumber length-wise using a peeler and place in a bowl. Top with sesame seeds.
  2. Using a hand blender mix the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  3. Serve together and enjoy.
May 29, 2014

Stir-Fried Asian Greens With Tofu Recipe

The method of stir frying has a lot going for it because it is super fast – with most being prepared in less than 15 minutes. It is also super easy and healthy to boot. Stir frying allows lots of ingredients to maintain their nutrients.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 cup tamari (wheat free)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

1 block firm tofu, cut into 2cm cubes

Olive oil spray

1/2 cauliflower, chopped

1 bunch broccoli, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 spring onions, chopped

1 red capsicum, sliced

1 cup snow peas

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

Method

  1. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together tamari, lemon juice and ginger. Add tofu and marinate in the fridge for at least one hour.
  2. Spray a heated wok with oil and toss in cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onions, capsicum and marinated tofu, and cook over high heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Add snow peas, mushrooms and marinade from the tofu. Stir frequently. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until vegetables are tender, but not soft. Dish up with a spoonful (1/2 cup) of brown rice.

Recipe via The Healthy Mummy

May 23, 2014

Mediterranean Haloumi Salad Recipe

What’s for dinner? Something quick. Check. Healthy. Check. Easy to prepare. Check. Child-friendly. Check. And, most importantly, tastes good. Check. This Mediterranean-style salad will fill the hungriest of bellies on hump day.

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced

100g chargrilled red capsicum, sliced

100g chargrilled zucchini, sliced

Handful of small black olives, halved and pitted

1/2 small red onion, finely sliced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

250g haloumi

Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Combine tomatoes, chargrilled capsicum, chargrilled zucchini, olives and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with half the olive oil, season well and set aside. Divide between 4 bowls.
  2. Thickly slice the haloumi. Heat a frying pan over a high heat and cook haloumi in batches for a minute on each side until golden.
  3. Add the cooked haloumi to each bowl, drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle over basil.

Recipe via The Healthy Mummy

May 21, 2014

Black Bean Burgers Recipe

These aren’t so much burgers as tasty, Southwest-accented black bean sandwiches. The patties get nicely crisp on the outside but remain soft on the inside. Top with grilled onions, arugula leaves, avocado and salsa.

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/2 small tomato, plus additional sliced tomato for serving

1/4 small red onion, plus additional sliced onion for serving

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp packed fresh oregano leaves

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

3 cups cooked, well-drained black beans, divided

Fine sea salt to taste

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 hamburger buns (sprouted wheat, gluten-free, vegan, or other preferred type), cut sides lightly toasted

Wholegrain mustard, for serving

Green or red leaf lettuce leaves, for serving

Sliced avocado, for serving

Method

  1. Cover a baking sheet or large platter with parchment or waxed paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and half of the beans and pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining beans and salt to taste. Divide the mixture equally into six balls, arranging them on the prepared baking sheet or platter.
  3. With dampened hands, flatten each ball into a patty about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in each of two medium skillets over medium heat. Carefully add three patties to each skillet (it helps to use the parchment or waxed paper to flip a patty into your hand, one at a time, then carefully place it in the skillet). Cook until well browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Serve the burgers with mustard, lettuce leaves, sliced onion, sliced tomato, and sliced avocado. Serve hot.

Recipe by Jared Koch with Jill Silverman Hough.

May 19, 2014

Famous Gnocchi Recipe By Matt Moran

Celebrity chef Matt Moran needs no introduction. Since opening his flagship two-hat ARIA Restaurant in Sydney in 1999, the entrepreneur has gone from strength to strength. A highlight was 2012 with the opening of two new venues, CHISWICK restaurant in Woollahra and Riverbar & Kitchen in Brisbane. Oh, and did we mention he was also awarded GQ magazine’s Chef of the Year.

Matt Moran’s Famous Gnocchi

Ingredients

360 g gnocchi

½ butternut pumpkin, peeled

½ bunch sage

30 g pecorino, grated

30 g salted butter, diced

30 ml vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Gnocchi

1 ½ kg pontiac potatoes

150 g plain flour

2 egg yolks

rock salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. To prepare the gnocchi, spread the rock salt on a baking tray and lay the potatoes on top. Place the tray in the oven for approximately 40 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and scrape out the inside of the potatoes. Mash the potato and then pass through a sieve. Combine the flour, eggs and salt with the potato and work into a dough. Roll the dough in a sausage shape (approximately 2cm in diameter). Cut the dough into 2cm wide discs.

3. Add the gnocchi to salted, boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi rises to the surface and then scoop out and refresh in iced water. Drain the gnocchi and then toss with a little bit of olive oil. Peel and deseed the butternut pumpkin and then dice into 1cm squares. Blanch in salted, boiling water for approximately 3 minutes, refresh in ice water and then drain.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and then add in the pumpkin and seasoning. Cook until the pumpkin is caramelised and then remove. In the same pan, add in the gnocchi and caramelise until golden. Season to taste. Stir in diced butter until it starts to turn into a nutty brown colour. Add in the sage and remove from the heat. To serve, arrange the gnocchi and pumpkin on a plate. Drizzle over the nutty butter and then garnish with the sage leaves and freshly grated pecorino.

April 8, 2014

Best-Ever Pesto Pasta Recipe

When it comes to easy dinner recipes,pesto pasta is one of the easiest Italian classics (and one of the most delicious!). The sauce consists of just five basic ingredients – here’s how to make the best-ever pesto pasta.

Serves: 2

Ingredients

Large handful of fresh Basil

1/4 cup of Olive Oil

1-2 cloves Garlic (peeled)

Parmesan Cheese, to taste

2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts

Method

1. Cook your chosen pasta in boiling salted water. Meanwhile, make the pesto. After gathering the fresh basil, strip the leaves from the stem and throw them into a food processor with the olive oil, the garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and a pinch of salt. Grind it down into an oily green paste. If it seems too dry, splash in a little more olive oil. Taste – does it need more salt? A little more Parmesan?

2. Drain the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Stir the pesto through the pasta, adding a little cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Keep tossing to coat all the pasta.

3. Pesto is great to have on hand not just for pasta, but as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables, marinade for fish or meat, or a spread in sandwiches.

March 22, 2014

Easy Lamb Roulade Recipe

Are you looking for delicious and easy dinner recipes to reinvigorate your weekly meal plan? This easy lamb roulade has only 5 ingredients and makes the perfect mid-week meal.

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

120g fresh goat cheese

2 250g lamb loins

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

120g baby spinach

1 Tablespoon chopped or minced garlic

Method

1. Heat 2 Tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat.

2. Add the garlic and sauté for 10 seconds then add the spinach and sauté until the spinach is lightly wilted.

3. Set aside to cool.

4. Butterfly the lamb loins until they lay flat.

5. Season the loin with salt and pepper.

6. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach and spread evenly over the lamb loin.

7. Split the goat cheese lengthwise into four equal portions. (If you have it on hand, cream cheese could be used, but goat cheese is a healthier alternative to with almost twice as much protein and half the fat and cholesterol of regular cream cheese.)

8. Place 2 pieces of the goat cheese end to end on each prepared lamb loin.
Tightly roll the loins and truss with butcher’s string. (String works best, but other options such as toothpicks will work in a pinch.)

9. Preheat oven to 170°G.

10. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sear each loin for 3-4 minutes on all sides. (Do not skip this step. Searing the meat caramelises the sugars and browns the proteins in lamb, resulting in more appealing colour and flavour.)

11. Roast lamb loins in the oven for 10 -12 minutes until an internal temperature of 120°F is reached. (Be mindful that you do not overcook. Lamb should be served slightly pink on the inside.)

12. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. (Loins will continue to cook and the internal temperature will rise slightly as they rest.)

13. Remove string and slice into medallions.

14. Divide between 2 plates and serve.

Tip: Like most easy dinner recipes, the right choice of wine to compliment can elevate the meal to an even greater gourmet experience. A nice red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot pairs nicely with lamb loins.

March 17, 2014

Bahian Spiced Chicken & Beans with Yucca Mash Recipe

This rustic Brazilian chicken and bean casserole features a fragrant seasoning and is topped with your new favourite twist on mash – yucca, also known as cassava.

Serves 10

Ingredients:

Yuca Mash:

900g mashed yuca or cassava*

75g butter, softened

75ml whole milk, warmed

½ tsp McCormick Sea Salt

¼ tsp McCormick White Pepper Ground

Bahian Seasoning (Tempero Baiano):

1 tsp McCormick Cumin Ground

1 tsp McCormick Oregano

½ tsp McCormick White Pepper Ground

¼ tsp McCormick Chilli Flakes  Crushed

Chicken & Beans:

75g butter

675g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5 cm cubes

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2 tsp garlicpaste

1 Tbsp  tomato purée

1 Tbsp Bahian Seasoning (Tempero Baiano)

75g  flour

1 litre (1000ml) chicken stock

400g tin black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

225g pitted black olives, chopped

4 tsp McCormick Coriander Leaf

1 tsp McCormick Sea Salt

2 Tbsp  Romano cheese, grated*

Method:

  1. For the yucca mash, bring a large pot of salted water to boil on high heat.  Add yuca, return to boil. (Adding more boiling water if needed to cover the yuca completely).  Reduce heat to medium, boil 30 minutes or until yuca is very tender.
  2. To make the Bahian seasoning, combine all ingredients together in a bowl, then set aside.
  3. For the Chicken & Beans, melt butter in large saucepan on medium-high heat.  Add chicken, cook and stir for 5 – 7 minutes, or until browned.  Add onion, pepper and Garlic.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until vegetables soften.  Stir in tomato purée and Bahian Seasoning, sprinkle with flour and mix well.  Add stock, black-eyed peas, olives, 3 tsp of the Coriander and the Salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened, stirring frequently. Spoon into a baking dish. Place baking dish on baking sheet and set aside.
  4. Drain yucca, remove and discard fibrous core from center of each yuca piece using 2 forks.  Gently peel off any other fibrous layers that may cling to yucca, then return yuca to large saucepan.  Add butter and milk and mash with potato masher to form a sticky and chunky purée. Season with Sea Salt and White Pepper, then spoon yuca mash around edge of the Chicken & Beans, leaving the center visible. Sprinkle Romano cheese over the mash.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and cheese is golden brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with the remaining Coriander Leaf.

*Cooks tip: As an alternative to Romano cheese try using Parmesan cheese. If yucca / cassava is unavailable try using a mixture of half regular and half sweet potato mash.

What’s your favorite South American recipe?

March 14, 2014

“Street Truck Style” Chicken Jalfrezi Recipe

A classic Indian chicken dish gets a modern food truck makeover.  Serve as a handheld sandwich wrapped in naan topped with a minty yoghurt raita sauce to ignite all of the senses.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 Tbsp  flour

2 tsp McCormick Garam Masala

2 tsp McCormick Cumin Ground

1 tsp McCormick Chilli Flakes Crushed

450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced

2 Tbsp  ghee (clarified butter)

1 red pepper, cut into chunks

1 green pepper, cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp sugar

75ml plain yoghurt

1 tsp McCormick Mint

8 tsp lime pickle, divided

4 naan breads, warmed through and halved

McCormick Sea Salt to season

 

Method

1. Combine flour, Garam Masala, Cumin and Chillies in a bowl.  Season with a little Salt then add chicken and toss to coat.

2. Heat the ghee in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat.  Add chicken and any remaining flour mixture, cook and stir for 6-7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Add peppers, cook and stir for 2 minutes then add the tomatoes and sugar.  Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes are softened and form a thick sauce.

3. Combine the yoghurt and mint in a small bowl.  For each wrap place 1 tsp of the lime pickle in the centre of each naan, then divide the chicken and pepper mixture equally between them.  Drizzle with the mint and yoghurt raita, then serve.

Cooks Tip: Ghee is an Indian style clarified butter, if this is unavailable you can use butter.

What is your favourite Indian dish?

March 13, 2014

Grilled Tandoori Prawn Salad with Mango Dressing Recipe

Similar to the tandoori oven cooking method, these Indian-spiced prawn skewers are roasted on high heat on the grill and added to a salad packed with bold sweet and sour flavours. A fresh mango dressing adds a splash of fruitiness and colour. Plus it’s ready in 30 minutes, making it one of our favourite quick dinner ideas.

Serves: 6
Prep Time:  25 minutes. Cook Time:  5 minutes

Ingredients
Mango Dressing
1 large ripe mango, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon McCormick® Ground Red Chilli

Tandoori Prawn Salad
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon McCormick® Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Chilli Powder
500g large prawn, peeled and deveined
1 large ripe mango, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
100g mixed baby greens
1 cup halved small heirloom or specialty tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Method
1. For the mango dressing, process mango in blender or food processor until pureed (about 1 cup puree). Add lime juice, oil, garam masala, salt and red pepper; process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. For the tandoori prawn salad, mix 1/4 cup of the mint, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, honey, garam masala, ginger, salt and chilli in small bowl. Thread prawns onto skewers. Brush with mint mixture. Thread mango onto skewers. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Grill prawn skewers over high heat 4 to 5 minutes or just until prawns turn pink, turning once and brushing occasionally with mint mixture. Grill mango skewers 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly charred.

4. Arrange greens, tomatoes and onion on 6 serving plates. Top with grilled prawns , mango and remaining 3 tablespoons mint. Drizzle with 1/2 of the Mango Dressing. 

Tip: Store remaining mango dressing in refrigerator. Serve over salad greens, grilled or broiled prawns or chicken, or toss with couscous or quinoa.

What’s your go-to quick dinner recipe using prawns?

 

March 5, 2014

Turkish Chicken With Apricots and Pistachio Recipe

Karen Martini’s Turkish-inspired chicken with apricots, ginger, saffron and pistachio nuts is one of our favourite easy dinner ideas that’s packed with incredible flavour.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients 
1.4-1.6kg free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt flakes
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
100g fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, bruised with the back of a knife
2 green chillies, split
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp chilli flakes
2tsp ground cinnamon
2tsp ground coriander seeds
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tsp ground turmeric
2 pinches of saffron threads
5 sprigs of thyme
200mls white wine
400g Goulburn Valley Apricot Halves, drained
50g dried apricots
1 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated
2tbsp honey
2 chicken stock cubes
400g Ardmona Rich & Thick Classic
2 handfuls of shelled pistachio nuts, plus extra to serve
Couscous to serve
Handful of mint leaves to serve
Plain yoghurt to serve

Method
1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, season and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli and all the spices to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add the tomato paste, saffron threads, and thyme and cook for another minute. Add the wine and the drained and dried apricots and bring up to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and zest, honey, and stock cubes, stir and add back the browned chicken pieces. Tip the tomatoes over the chicken and add enough water to just cover.

3. Cover with a lid and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10–15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through, and the sauce is slightly reduced, check the seasoning and then stir through the pistachio nuts. Garnish liberally with mint and pistachio nuts and serve with cous cous and plain yoghurt.

What’s your favourite easy chicken dinner recipe?

February 20, 2014

Smoky Baked Beans, Prawns and Chorizo Recipe

Celebrity chef Karen Martini’s Spanish-inspired baked beans with prawns and chorizo is the perfect easy dinner idea that’s ready in under 30 minutes. Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the delicious flavours.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients
2 x 400g SPC 100% Aussie made baked beans
400g Ardmona Rich & Thick Classic
120ml extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
2 red chillies, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
3 tsp sweet smoked paprika, plus extra to serve
2 tsp ground coriander
Salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
250g hot chorizo sausage, sliced
10 green prawns, deveined, tail on
¾ small (approx. 150g) jar of jalapeños
3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 large bunch of coriander, leaves picked (reserve some for garnishing)
3 limes, 1 juiced, 2 to serve

Method
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, chilli and half the garlic and stir through. Add the bay leaf, paprika and ground coriander, season and cook for around 4 minutes. Add the baked beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. Crush some of the beans with your spoon, mix through and set aside.

2. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the sliced chorizo and fry until crisp. Season and toss the prawns through some oil to coat, add to the pan with the remaining garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the jalapeños, stir through and take off the heat. Transfer the prawn mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the spring onion, parsley, coriander, remaining olive oil and lime juice.

3. Spread the smoky beans on a platter and top with the prawns and chorizo, pour the juices from the bowl over and finish the plate with a little extra paprika, coriander leaves and lime pieces.

What’s your favourite way of eating baked beans?

February 18, 2014

Chilli and Prawn Spaghetti Recipe

Pasta is one of our favourite quick dinner ideas, and this delicious chilli and prawn spaghetti is ready in under 20 minutes.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

375g Vetta Smart Pasta Cholesterol Lowering Spaghetti #1
2 tbsp olive oil
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 long red chilli (seeds removed), finely chopped
¼ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
16 prawn cutlets, deveined and tails intact

Method

1. Cook pasta according to packet directions in a large pan of salted, boiling water.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan. Quickly cook prawns until pink. Remove from pan and add onion, garlic and chilli; cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

3. Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup cooking liquid.

4. Return the cooked prawns to the pan; add cooked pasta and 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Add the parsley and serve immediately.

 What is your favourite quick pasta recipe?

February 17, 2014
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