Saturday, October 01, 2016

Cherry tomatoes!!

Last weekend my son turned 18 years of age. 18! Can you believe it?

For those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time, he started out as the boy, and then was the little chef but I guess now he's an adult (legally anyway) and so I should call him something else. Maybe the young man or something.








We had a family event for Sunday lunch and it was a veritable hit list of dishes that I have posted as part of Weekend Cooking over the years but there were a couple of new recipes too.

This is the menu:

Barbecued chicken (marinated in lemon and olive oil)
Sausages
Greek style roast beef
Roasted vegetable salad
Apple and custard crumble

And my sister did another amazing job with the cake.



Anyway, the title of this post is cherry tomatoes, so I guess I should talk about the delicious red orbs that are cherry tomatoes.

If there is one thing that I love the flavour of it is cherry tomatoes. I like them in salads, not only because they are so easy to chuck in a salad (I don't even chop them up) but my favourite way to eat them though, is cooked, say in a recipe like Pasta Pomodoro but  especially roasted. There's something so delicious about taking a bite and have a burst of deliciousness fill your mouth as you get the full roasted flavour. I have been known to roast them just by themselves, but also as part of a bigger dish.

Whilst I did go back to some of my favouirite recipes for the barbecue I did also want to try a couple of new recipes and so when I saw that this recipe was for a salad that included cherry tomatoes, I couldn't resist. Because I was making a few other dishes I only did half the vegetables. 

I was trying to be very organised and not stressed for this lunch, so in the end I roasted all the vegetables the night before and just cooked the ricotta that day but I would say if you are going to do this it is probably best to also make the dressing the night before as I suspect the garlic mixes in a bit better if it is still warm. There is a note that this salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Salad


2 red capsicums, cut into chunks (peppers)
2 large zucchini, cut into chunks (courgette)
1 eggplant, cut into chunks (aubergine)
2 red onions, cut into thin wedges (red onions as far as I know!!)
2x 250g punnets cherry tomatoes
3 Tbspn extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head garlic
200g piece low-fat ricotta, drained overnight in the fridge on paper towel, covered in plastic wrap
Olive oil cooking spray
1 Tbspn balsamic vinegar
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 190C (fan forced). Line 2 large roasting pans with baking paper. Divide vegetables between prepared pans. Drizzle over oil and toss to combine. Wrap garlic in foil and add to 1 of the pans. line a small ovenproof dish with baking paper. Add ricotta and spray with cooking spray.

Roast vegetables and ricotta for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from oven and set aside. Continue to cook ricotta for a further 15 minutes or until ricotta is golden brown around the edges. Set aside.

To serve, squeeze garlic into a small bowl. Add vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk to combine. Drizzle over vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter, crumble over baked ricotta and serve.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.










Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Mini strawberry tarts

I am feeling very pleased with myself today! I did something today that I have never done before which is make a version of jam,  and it turned out amazing. A-MAZE-ING!!

One of the things that I do quite regularly when I am feeling relatively strong mentally in relation to eating properly is spend time looking through cookbooks and magazines, specifically the ones that are for weight loss or have a focus on being diabetic friendly. Often I am looking at the recipes and seeing all the same ones I have thought I might try but every now and again a new one jumps out. In this case, it not only jumped out but I also got a hankering to actually make it and make it soon. This recipe comes from the September/October 2015 issue of Diabetic Living.

The only problem was that when I did go to make the recipe I realised that I didn't buy enough strawberries and I didn't have any lime so in the end I had to improvise a little. So instead of using all strawberries I used half strawberries and half blueberries, and I used juice from a lemon I just picked off the tree.  And oops!! I also used the puff pastry I had in the freezer rather than shortcrust pasty. Only just realised this!

The other issue I had is that I have only got a mini muffin tin and a muffin tin, not the patty cake/small cup cake tin mentioned so my pastry cases were a bit littler. I think next time I am going to use bigger circles from the pastry so that I can get a more gently curved larger pastry cases. And I will be doing it again. I think I will be making these to take to work for morning tea in a couple of week's time.

The jam is actually so good, not only did I use it for this recipe, but we also had it on pancakes this morning, served with vanilla flavoured greek yoghurt. I am also thinking it will taste really good stirred through oats or through yoghurt for breakfast. The last week I have been having roasted rhubarb with oats or yoghurt. This week, it will be this jam. Luckily, there is a lot left over.



Mini strawberry tarts


1 sheet 25% reduced fat shortcrust pastry
1 1/2 Tbspn vanilla bean yoghurt, to serve

Quick strawberry jam

375g strawberries, chopped
3/4 cup Equal Spoonful (sugar replacement)
80ml (1/3 cup) water
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large lime

To make quick strawberry jam, put strawberry, Equal Spoonful, water and lime juice in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over a high heat. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes or until mixture has reduced and thickened to a jam-like consistency. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C (fan-forced). Lay pastry sheet on a flat surface. Using a 6.5cm round cutter, cut 12 rounds from pastry sheet, discarding excess pastry. Use rounds to line 12.30ml (1 1/2 Tbspn) patty pans. Prick bases using a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, to chill. Add to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cook for 10 minutes.

To serve, spoon strawberry jam evenly between pastry cases. Top each tart with 1/2 tspn of the vanilla bean yoghurt. Serve.



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Party time

I finished a book!!!! Actually, I have finished two in the last 10 days. And started two more.


That is all!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekend cooking: Chicken Burrito Bowls

I am always looking for new ideas for lunch. Whilst I can live with eating the same thing most days for breakfast, I am not so good at eating the same thing over and over for lunch and dinner. Most of the time I will have chicken and salad sandwiches, or chicken and salad, or tuna and salad or leftovers. Rinse and repeat. So when you see something that is advertised as a lunch box idea I certainly pay attention. So it was this week when a friend shared this recipe on Facebook.


 

Not only does it look tasty, I made it today and I confirm that it was actually really easy. I had a friend around for lunch and they went away saying that they were going to try and make it themselves! I call that a winner.

I think that the idea is that you eat this cold but if you don't put the cheese in until last I am thinking that it is easy to reheat and eat warm as well. And while we are at it, there's no reason why this can't be a dinner meal. Tasty, pretty quick and pretty healthy.

I do wonder how it can be a burrito without, you know, the burritos, but whatever!!

Chicken Burrito Bowls 

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 bell peppers, any colour, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 jar salsa
3 cups cooked brown rice, divided
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lime, sliced into wedges
Fresh cilantro (coriander) to garnish

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
3. Place the chicken, peppers, and onions onto the baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
4. Sprinkle the taco seasoning evenly over both sides of the chicken breasts.
5. Salt and pepper the peppers and onions, tossing to coat.
6. Top each chicken breast with a generous pour of salsa.
7. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. 
8. Rest chicken for 10 minutes, before slicing into strips.
9. Add a base of brown rice to 4 food storage containers. Top each with a scoop of black beans, corn, additional salsa, cheddar cheese, cooked peppers and onions, and sliced chicken. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.
10. Store in the refrigerator (and enjoy any extras immediately). Can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.


You can find the original recipe here.


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Curried Sausages with Herbed Mash

I don't know why it is, but every time I say I am making this recipe the reaction I get from whoever I am talking to is I love curried sausages but I haven't had it for ages. And, to be fair, it was the same for me. I first made it and enjoyed it just over a year ago and then completely forgot about it. It was only after I spent some time going through all the magazines I had that I rediscovered the recipe and made it again Now, I want to share it here so that I can find it easily when I want to in future.


I have actually shared a couple of recipes from this particular issue (Pulled Pork Ragu and Green Chicken Curry Pie which is one of my regular dishes now). Just like with the pulled pork my son wasn't all that keen on the posh mash potato but it still tastes good with normal mash

Curried Sausages with Herbed Mash


2 tspns olive oil
1 brown onion, cut into thin wedges
375g packet of low fat beef sausages
2 tspn curry powder
1 tspn salt reduced chicken stock powder
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
1/2 x 400g can no-added salt tomato puree
200g carrots, halved lengthwise, diagonally sliced
8 brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved or quartered**


1kg low GI potatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
130g (1/2 cup)low-fat Greek-style plain yoghurt
2 tbspn chopped chives
2 tbspn chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbspn chopped dill
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon


** I can't stand brussel sprouts so I generally use broccoli cut into florets



Preheat oven to 180C (fan-forced). Heat oil in a large heavy based stoveproof and ovenproof dish over a medium heat. Add onion and sausages to pan and cook, stirring often for 4-5 minutes or until sausages are browned. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes

Add combined stock and water, tomato puree, carrot and brussel sprouts to pan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add pan to oven and cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender

Meanwhile, to make herbed mash, put potato and garlic in a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water Cover and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until potato and garlic are tender. Drain. Mash until almost smooth. Add yoghurt, herbs and lemon zest. Beat with a wooden spoon until well combined

Divide mash between serving plates. Add sausage mixture. Serve.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Will I ever read again?

So given how few posts there are on this blog, it is obvious that I am not blogging much at the moment and haven't been for quite some time. However, the problem goes deeper than that. I'm actually not reading either. Oh, I might start a book and read a couple of page then I will lose interest and just stop. It doesn't matter if we are talking about reading new books, rereading favourites, paper books, ebooks and even audio books. And this is a long term issue. My reading has become non existent over the last couple of years to the point that I haven't actually finished a book since March. Shocking I know.

I'm not sure this is a terminal problem though because even though I am not reading I am still happy to engage in conversations with people about books. Last week at work there was a conversation happening about starting a book club and I was quite keen about the concept even though I know that it is highly unlikely that I will actually read the chosen book. Luckily my actual book club doesn't really seem to care if I read the book or not. I haven't actually been to that book club for the last couple of months because I have been working late but I know when I do go back they will be glad to see me. I also know that when I say I haven't even read the synopsis the reaction will be okay and then ask if I want a party pie or sausage roll (to which the answer is obviously yes!!)

This weekend was the launch of the Melbourne Writer's Festival and despite my lack of reading mojo, I did end up buying tickets to a couple of sessions and also attended a couple of free sessions. I was reminded that bookish things are actually good for my soul and also a couple of other things.

Unlike previous years where I took copious notes so that I could blog in depth recaps of the sessions I attended, this year I have just sat and listened and just enjoyed being in the presence of authors whose books I have enjoyed previously.

The four sessions that I attended were:

Justin Cronin
YA Superstars featuring Rainbow Rowell and David Leviathan
Australia Through Time featuring Anita Heiss, Tricia Stringer and Kate Mildenhall
Wickedly Funny featuring Liane Moriarty and Rosalie Ham

All four sessions were really interesting and I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the free sessions that were on offer. Both Australia Through Time and Wickedly Funny were free sessions and they were full houses. I only just got into Wickedly Funny even though I went and lined up half an hour before. They probably turned out away an equivalent of 50% of the crowd. The session was just that popular.

One of the things that I have taken away from this weekend is that maybe this might be a long break from reading but I don't think I am done forever and ever. Whilst I don't expect to go back to reading 200 plus books a year, I also don't expect to stay at reading less than 10 books in a year. Somewhere in the middle would be good.

I also came out of the sessions and a trip to a nearly bookstore I was reminded of a few things. Firstly, there are a number of authors who I used to wait avidly for each new book from and they have at least one and maybe two books out that I still haven't read yet. In other words my TBR list continues to grow even though I am not reading. Secondly, there were a number of books that I really wanted to read a couple of years ago that I still haven't read yet and thirdly, that there are any number of books that I wouldn't mind rereading at some point.

My reading life might be flat lining but it hasn't quite been declared dead yet. There's still a glimmer of hope. Just.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Open Cannelloni with Pork Meatballs

We love a good lasagne in this house, but unless you buy a pre-prepared one, it is a bit of work so it is more a weekend kind of meal, with plenty of leftovers for during the week. Making it from scratch, there's the making the meat sauce, and the white sauce and layering it up and cooking it. It is something that I do semi-regularly using a lower fat recipe which is quite tasty but I have also tried a couple of different recipes for making during the week. One was a slow cooker lasagne which I don't think we need to say much more about because it was truly awful. This recipe, whilst not technically lasagne, is a fair substitute and doesn't take too much time or effort to prepare.

The recipe once again comes from an issue of Diabetic Living, but this time is from a celebrity chef by the name of Michael Moore. Now, to be fair, I don't remember hearing about Michael Moore before, but there was a bonus lift out in the March/April issue. There weren't a lot of recipes that I could try because he used a lot of almond meal in his recipes which don't work with our allergy issues but I was impressed with how simple this seemed and then when I had made it, with how tasty it is.

I would say to make sure that you spread your sauce enough to ensure that the lasagne sheets all have sauce on them otherwise you end up with some crunchy bits. Unless you like crunchy bits of course!

No idea why there is so much talk about lasagne in this post when it really isn't a post about lasagne at all!

Open Cannelloni with Pork Meatballs
Serves 6


485g lean pork mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tspn crushed black peppercorns
Sea salt
1 egg white
Cooking spray
300ml bottled Napolitana pasta sauce
350g fresh egg lasagne sheets
60g grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Mix mince with garlic, onion, black pepper, salt and egg white in a bowl. Dip your hands in cold water. Roll mixture into 14 even meatballs and set aside.

2. Grease a large baking dish and spoon a little Napolitana sauce over the base

3. Trim lasagne sheets into squares and place a meatball into the centre of each one. Place into baking dish; repeat with remaining lasagne and meatballs.

4. Pour over remaining Napolitana sauce to cover and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake in over for 45-50 minutes.

In other news, I had to make chocolate cake this week (yes, had to) but wanted to do something a bit different than just ice it. I made my standard chocolate cake, but rather than using icing I bought a couple of tubs of low fat chocolate mousse from the supermarket and stirred it until it was smooth and then used that as icing! Sprinkle with a crushed up Flake or grated chocolate and voila.

Have to say, I will definitely be doing that again. Easy and very tasty!!



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

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