Food & Recipes
With winter comes the onslaught of casseroles and comfort food in our house. Nothing like a great bread sopping up meal (not so great for the waistline however).
I have not made this recipe for quite sometime, and it was high time for a change from the usual beef and red wine casserole that lurks in our freezer when I cook up meals. I find the kids really like this one because of the addition of the scones – who doesn’t like a good scone.
1 kg chuck steak
1/4 cup plain flour
3 tablespoons oil
4 medium onions chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/3 cup plum jam
1/3 cup brown vinegar
1 cup of beef stock
2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce
2 cups SR flour
30 g butter
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to moderate 180 degrees. Toss meat in flower and brown in a heavy based fry pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, then drain on absorbent paper. Cook meat in batches.
Heat remaining oil in pan and cook onion and garlic until soft. Combine meat and onion mixture in casserole or oven proof dish (I use my slow cooker at this point).
Add plum jam, vinegar, stock and chilli sauce and mix well. Cook for 1 hr 230 mins until beef is tender. (If I cook in slow cooker I then transfer to casserole dish for scone stage)
Uncover dish and turn up oven to hot 240 degrees and place scones on top of meat, bake uncovered for 30 mins till scones are golden brown.
To make scones – Sift flour into a bowl, rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in chives and parsley, then add milk and stir with a knife until just combined (cut thru it rather than mix). Turn onto lightly floured surface and need till smooth and press out dough to cut 4 cm thick rounds.
[Recipe source: Family Circle Favourite Meat Recipes]
I return to paid employment this week – eeek. It has been over 4 years since I left the house, went to a job, and was paid for it, and I am a bit nervous on how I am going to cope. I was really enjoying the freedom that came with having 2 1/2 days per week that the kids were at school, all to myself to get everything done. But what I would consider my dream job came up, I managed to get it, and they are allowing me to work flexible hours, so what more could I ask for?
So I have literally been stuck in the kitchen the last couple of days to fill up my freezer so that on those first few days when I am bound to be tired, all I need to do is pull something out, chuck it in the microwave and dinner is sorted. Plus I have been busy making a few meals for my parents when they return from the big smoke, hopefully this week.
I found these containers in IGA, and they are just great. They are Black & Gold brand and just perfect for a meal for one. I usually use the foil ones as they are perfect for Brad to take away with him as they fit nicely in his cooker.
My list of meals I have made to freeze are:
Chicken & Vegie Soup
Tomato Macaroni Cheese
Mince mix for spag bog
2 batches of muffins (blueberry & banana)
Beef & Red Wine Casserole
Still to finish off this arvo:
Chicken & Spinach lasagne
And then there is the lunches for tomorrow that need to be made (including mine) and uniforms to get ready, and more importantly look at my cupboard and think what am I going to wear, I don’t have work clothes anymore!
Last week our sister Marnie was about to head off for a couple of weeks for a trip, so brought along a salad to the family BBQ she called “everything in the bottom of my fridge salad”. It was delicious, so today I decided to try my own version and it went a little something like this:
Everything is finely diced up:
Sprout combo (not sure what they are called, those knobbly ones before they sprout)
Tin of chick peas
Tin of kidney beans
Tin of 4 bean mix
Because I decided to add so many beans to mine I decided to make a dressing to put over the top. Sometimes the kids can be a bit funny on to much of a raw kidney bean taste, so thought a nice dressing might help.
For my dressing it was a mustard vinaigrette and went a little something like this
about a tablespoon of dijon mustard
about 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
teaspoon of sugar.
Bit of a pour of olive oil.
bit of garlic crushed
Give it all a whisk up and pour just enough over it to taste (I didn’t use all of my dressing). Make sure you give it all a really good toss and Bob’s your Uncle.
Next on the list is some chicken meatballs to go with the salad.
I have a fear of cream sauces, they make me gag, even just the smell, so in our house as I am the Chief Cook, it means a white sauce free zone. Everyone in my house loves Macaroni Cheese, except of course me. I have tried those packet Mac N Cheese ones you find in the supermarket, which quite frankly when you add that orange stuff it freaks me out thinking what is in it – so thankfully in steps an old Mum recipe Tomato based macaroni cheese – win win all round, everyone gets mac and cheese and I don’t have to suffer through white sauce.
I love this recipe as it makes heaps, and so as in the case of today, I have enough to freeze for meals for the man who has another week of working away. Here is my mac cheese alternative recipe (for any other white sauce haters out there). I apologise in advance for the old measurements I have been making it so long I know what to do, so don’t need to convert them and never have – sorry
6 oz Macaroni
3 oz butter
1/ 4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/3 pint of milk
6 oz of cheese grated
1 x tin of tomato soup
couple of rashers of bacon diced
1 green capsicum (or red is fine if you have none, I used this today)
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until tender and set aside in a large bowl. Then fry onion, bacon and capsicum lightly and then I add this to the macaroni and toss through.
Meanwhile melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and add in flour and seasonings and mix together well. Return to low heat and cook for approx one minute. Then add milk in gradually stirring the entire time until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add grated cheese and tomato soup and mix well. Gently return to heat to warm through, do not boil.
Then add the sauce to your bowl of macaroni and mix well. Then pop into an oven proof dish and top with grated cheese and bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.
Voila – my family food compromise, which will be awesome as today I picked up some tasting mini cheesecakes from local business TLC Cheesecakes – yumbo. Now to sort out my dislike of Seafood and it will be one happy home.
Today whilst looking for a recipe to use up some Mangoes that were fast approaching their use by date I came across this recipe from The Witches Kitchen. Not only did it use up some of my leftover mangoes, but it is also perfect for school snacks, so we have cut it up and frozen it ready for when school goes back.
As mentioned on The Witches Kitchen site seems like it won’t work but it does and great to find a recipe that does not use bucket loads of butter and sugar. It got a thumbs up in our kitchen.
MANGO LUNCH BOX CAKE
450 gm chopped up mango and juice. (This will be about 2 large mangoes or 3 smaller ones.)
500 g mixed dried fruit – the kind without cherries or peel.
½ cup water (or a little more if your mangoes are not as juicy)
1 ½ teaspoons bicarb
1 ½ cups wholemeal SR flour
Put the mango, fruit and water in a stainless steel or enamel pot, bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for two minutes. Allow to cool while you grease a 14cm x 23 cm loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Lightly beat two eggs and sift the bicarb and flour together. Mix with the mango and fruit, pour into the pan, and bake in a moderately slow oven (160C) for 45 minutes to an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.
It has been a while since we have blogged, life and Ollie Rose has been busy and the blog always gets put the back pile on the thousand and one things to do list.
I have barely baked or tried new things over the past two weeks, I think with my super bake for Brad’s trip away I was completely over cooking, however I really need to get back into it all again, so sat back down today and prepared my meal and plan and shopping list for the week. And as I can think of nothing constructive to write about at the moment, my meal plan will have to suffice for blog posts.
THURSDAY - Chicken Cacciatore with polenta- am trying out a new recipe for this http://aww.ninemsn.com.au/food/791028/chicken-cacciatore
FRIDAY – Sizzling Beef with rice
SATURDAY – Pork Cutlets with a leek, apple & pear sauce, beans, carrotts and potato
SUNDAY – Chicken scrolls with capsicum, spinach & feta and steamed vegies
MONDAY – Steak & Veg for us, and sausages for the kids
TUESDAY – Spaghetti with capsicum and salami
WEDNESDAY – Chicken & Leek Casserole with mashed potato
Baking – Peanut Cookies, Cheese & Corn Scones, Pumpkin Bread, Banana Muffins, Coconut Brownie Slice
I usually make a baking list so that I have ingredients, but rarely do I actually get around to making them all. By making my list however, if I do manage to get the urge I at least know I have everything I need hiding in the cupboard.
At least now back on track with meal planning I won’t have 5 pm panic of what is for dinner.
I need a weekend away from my weekend!
I wish I could say all of this weekend was about me being one of those super organised folks getting all ready for the week ahead, but alas that is not the case. All the work this weekend has been out of necessity.
You see Brad is off to deliver a nice big boat to Broome. Normally it wouldn’t take that long to get up there, but because they are oversize it means only being able to drive in certain hours, so a few day trip suddenly becomes a lot longer. For me this means spending our weekend cooking all meals that will be needed for him and getting ready. We need to allow for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks along the way over at least 5 days. By doing this we avoid the huge cost which comes with eating in roadhouses – plus home cooked food is always nicer. He has a small cooker in his truck which he just pops the containers in and it slowly defrosts and heats them.
So this is my freezer – two shelves full. As I was cooking meals for him, I did ours as well for the time when he is away. We have family sized and Brad sized meals all labelled in containers.
Tomato based macaroni cheese, bolognese sauce, mince chow mien, spinach & ricotta cannelloni and curried sausages for dinner. As well as snacks of chicken satay pies, apricot pies, egg and bacon pies. Pumpkin Bread, banana bread, two types of muffins, choc chip biscuits, and I am yet to finish making another pumpkin bread and some coconut and chocolate brownies which I will do tomorrow.
To say I am exhausted is an understatement, as this was all done on top of a busy weekend shed clean out, both lawns mowed (we have huge lawns), a vegie garden weed and patio clean down that all were required to be done before he went and I was stuck doing them on my own. But no one will starve around here and if Brad gets lost in the bush that should keep him alive for months till they are rescued.
One thing that has been a saviour is the copy of Frost Bite I picked up recently. I have used a few recipes out of this book and it gave me some new inspiration aside from the old favourites - fabulous.
I think every family has a dish that is their cannot be bothered dish. One that requires little effort and you always have the ingredients for.
Our cannot be bothered dish is Omlette in a Bag. I find this a good one for the kids as they can be involved in putting what they want in their bag.
All you need to do is cut up whatever you have to go into the bag. Tonight we have capsicum, red onion, ham and cheese. Another favourite is left over chicken with vegies and zuchini. I just pop a small handful of everything into the bag, we then add 2 eggs per bag (3 if hungry, and 1 for the kids). Close it up, squeeze some air out and shake like mad to make sure it is all mixed in well and the egg is beaten.
On the stove is a large pot of hot water, once boiled let it go to low, as you may find it it is rapid boiling the bags may split. Place the bags in and leave them their for approximately 8-10 mins until the egg is cooked to how you like it.
You then just open up the bag and slide onto the plate and voila – a quick and easy omlette with little fuss and little mess.
Last week week we got to try out the casserole I had made previously and frozen in batches. I was a bit concerned on how it would all turn out with the vegies, but I am pleased to report it worked - hip hip hooray!
Although it was a bit of prep work the day I made the frozen batches, when it came time to using them it was very easy. I just put the frozen bags out to thaw just enough to remove from the bag and the put the meat and vegie bag into my slow cooker together with some stock and then put it on a slow cook for the day.
Whilst I don’t find most slow cooker meals overly time consuming this took me literally a minute to put all in the pot and put on- no last minute morning chopping to get ready, so we will definately be doing this again. The great thing is I already have some vegies prepared for any other meals I may make this week already frozen.
If you follow along on our Facebook page you may have caught post I did after seeing this done on a blog post via Pinterest – http://mamaandbabylove.blogspot.com/2011/04/freezer-cooking-with-slow-cooker.html. I thought it was a good idea, so have decided to give it a go.
After a bit of discussion on our Facebook wall on whether it is safe to freeze meat and vegetables together and not being able to find a definitive answer thanks to Mr Google I decided to play it safe and freeze them seperately.
On our meal plan this week is Beef & Red Wine Casserole and also a Chicken & Leek Casserole. Before I began I did a quick search on the best way to freeze certain vegetables and found this handy post on Disabled World that gave you a list of lots of vegies and how best to freeze them.
The whole process is a little fiddly so I decided to do a large batch of vegies as well for various other things rather than just my casseroles. I tend to use base vegetables of onion, celery and carrot in quite a few meals (curried sausages, soup, casseroles, mince & pasta bake), so this way I can use those frozen vegetables for other meals as well. I felt it was too much work to do for just one or 2 meals.
I blanched the vegetables that needed blanching and put others such as mushrooms on trays in the freezer as advised in Disabled World. I also did pat dry all my blanched vegetables with paper towel before popping them into zip lock bags.
I then put my meat into another bag together with some flour and coated it. I also added in my herbs and some stock powder and red wine. I am hoping that this will all infuse the meat a little bit (it is currently sitting in the fridge awaiting some more red wine).
My theory is then to just pop my bags into the fridge to thaw for a tiny bit on the day I need them (just enough so you can remove them from the bag), and then put the frozen lumps in my slow cooker together with some water and extra stock on a slow cook.
Fingers crossed it does work, as it feels great knowing I have a heap of vegies ready to go.
Of course I have not tried this just yet,so will have to report back on how it all went and what the overall taste was like compared to cutting it all up and putting it straight in slow cooker.