Category Archives: Pasta and rice

Sausage stuffed zucchini boats

This recipe from Skinnytaste.com has easily become one of my favourite weeknight recipes. It’s a combination of a few of my favourite veggies plus meat plus cheese. All that equals a great meal. And to top it off each boat is only 153 calories. The recipe is pretty customisable and I often try to add less cheese since I’m aiming to eat less dairy lately. Smothering the boats in oozy, melted mozzarella is really delicious, but the flavour is still there even if you skimp on the cheese.

The first time I made the zucchini boats I was pretty rigorous about sticking to the recipe and I actually do recommend you do that. The second time I made them I didn’t measure out the amount of tomato sauce or the amount of cheese, plus I’m pretty sure I added double the amount of sausage, and they were pretty messy. The third time I made them I only really glanced at the recipe and forgot to put the zucchini in boiling water for a minute before adding in all the ingredients. Without that step the zucchini don’t get quite as soft and melty as you want them to be. So maybe for the first few times, perhaps the first five, you should really follow the recipe (if you’re as forgetful as me). It’s delicious every time but you’ll actually know the nutritional value if you do and they’ll look much neater.

I usually serve the boats with orzo which works really well. The first time I made the dish I ended up with too much of the filling so I just mixed that in with some extra orzo the next day which was delicious. After you’ve tried these out there are a couple other variations on the site including taco stuffed zucchini boats and chicken enchilada stuffed boats. I think I know what I’ll be making later this week.

For the recipe, head over to Skinnytaste: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/07/sausage-stuffed-zucchini-boats.html

Enjoy!

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Filed under Beef, Pasta and rice, Recipes

Pork kebabs with cold peanut-sesame noodles

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This ‘Asian cookout’ style meal is great for summer. The pork definitely has a kick from the sriracha but it’s also got a great sweet balance from the soy sauce and brown sugar. The noodles are really easy as well- all you have to do is cook the noodles, slice up the carrot and cilantro and the rest is the addition of the sesame-peanut sauce. They keep well and are served cold so they’re perfect for leftovers. Unfortunately I was still recovering from wisdom teeth surgery when I made this meal and it took a whole lot of restraint not to chow down on the pork kebabs. This can be a great weeknight dish if you make the noodles ahead of time- otherwise it’s a great dish to have outside on the weekend with a cold, crisp bottle of white wine.

Spicy pork kebabs
Serves 4
Recipe from: Domesticate-Me 

Ingredients:
1½ lbs pork tenderloin, sliced into ½ inch rounds
Bamboo or metal skewers (if using bamboo soak them in 20 minutes before cooking)
For the marinade:
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
For garnish: (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Preparing your spicy pork skewers:
-Start by mixing all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Set the marinade aside while you prepare your skewers.
-Slice your pork tenderloin into ½ inch rounds. Thread the rounds onto the skewers.
-Place the skewers in a large Ziploc bag (or a shallow baking dish) and pour the marinade over them. Refrigerate for at least an hour. The longer you can marinate, the better.
-Remove your skewers from the Ziploc bag and place them on a lightly oiled grill or grill pan. Grill for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
Cold peanut-sesame noodles
Serves 6
Recipe from Food Network
Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces flat Chinese egg noodles
3/4 cup strong brewed green tea
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup roasted peanut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for topping
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 small clove garlic
2 carrots, finely grated
Chopped fresh cilantro and peanuts, for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs, then drain.Meanwhile, make the sauce: Combine the green tea, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and peanut oil in a blender. Add the sesame seeds, chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt; process until smooth.

Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce and carrots in a large bowl. Chill about 1 hour. Top with cilantro, peanuts and more sesame seeds.
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Filed under Lunch, Pasta and rice, Pork, Recipes

Vodka pasta

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This is my first two-way post! So you can feel free to take the fancy or the frugal option, for whatever fits your mood. The vodka pasta was made for a birthday since it’s creamy and unbelievably rich and awesome. But it does require quite a few ingredients, plus vodka. Which down under is a little pricey. So if you don’t have the time or the funds you can make a simple creamy tomato pasta. It’s all up to you…

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Vodka Pasta

Adapted from Cook Like A Champion
Who heavily adapted it from Williams-Sonoma

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves,
minced medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup vodka
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil, plus additional for serving
1 pound penne pasta
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving

Directions: Cook pasta in well salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.

Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in frying pan, remove the casings from the sausages, break into small pieces and cook until browned on the outside and cooked through. Drain on a plate covered in paper towels and reserve for later.

While the pasta and sausages are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute more. Stir in tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste and vodka. Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, at least 5 minutes. Stir in cream, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in basil and cheese.

Add pasta and sausage to skillet and toss to coat, adding pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Serve topped with additional basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

And for the frugal option…
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup  of pasta
1 tablespoon of cream cheese
1/2 cup of pasta tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1/2 cup of frozen prawns, defrosted
sprinkle of parmesan
olive oil

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. While you’re cooking the pasta heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. Put the defrosted prawns in and when they’ve cooked add the tomato sauce, cream cheese and tomato paste and stir until everything melts and becomes a nice creamy sauce.

Pour the sauce with the prawns over the pasta, mix in and sprinkle with parmesan.

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Filed under Pasta and rice, Recipes

Spinach, chicken and pecorino risoni

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Working in a bar/restaurant means nights with late hours, dinner at odd times and much less time to cook. Sometimes I’ll be super organized and cook something for lunch and bring extras to have after my shift, other times I’ll grab one of the $5 special meals on my way to work and eat before I start. And other times there may be a sneaky trip to Maccas or Pie Face.

One of the other challenges with working in hospitality is that when I do get a chance to cook, sometimes I go a little bit overboard. Sunday night dinners at Ciarans parent’s house tend to be one of those times. In the past I’ve made chicken schnitzel with mash and creamy jaeger sauce, meaty lasagna, beer braised chicken, a lot of heavy meals. So this time I was gently instructed, no red meat and no cream. Which actually wasn’t too much of a challenge. Delicious dinners definitely don’t need a bunch of cream or butter to taste great. I remembered this dish from a small dinner party my mum held ages ago and spent a while tracking down the recipe. It’s simple, fresh and keeps well for leftovers. The tomatoes may not keep as well, but they’re a fancy little accompaniment for a nice sit down dinner.

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Chicken, spinach and pecorino risoni

Serves 4

200g cooked warm risoni

400g shredded bbq chicken

1/2 cup finely grated percorino (also known as romano)

50g shredded baby spinach

1/2 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of crushed garlic

Cook risoni and set aside in a warm pan. Shred a store bought bbq chicken. Add the chicken, pecorino, spinach and basil to the risoni. In a separate bowl combine the lemon juice, oil and garlic and toss through the pasta. Serve warm.

Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine

Tomatoes roasted with pesto

2 to 2 1/2 pounds large red tomatoes

3 tablespoons good olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pesto (store bought or home made)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) arrange on a sheet pan.  Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with the pesto, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the parmesan cheese is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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Filed under Chicken, Pasta and rice, Recipes

Spicy pork and mushroom noodles

Pasta is a great and easy option for weeknight dinners but that doesn’t mean it is always the best option. It’s easy to make a bit too much and it’s also very tempting to put creamy sauces or heaps of cheese on. So if you’re looking for a weeknight meal that’s easy, cheap and healthy it’s great to have some hokkien noodles in the cupboard. They’re super easy when you want a quick dinner- you don’t even have to cook them and they’re pre-packaged so you can keep track of portions and nutrition info. This is one of my favourite stir fry dishes to make with the noodles. It’s pretty versatile and you can use pork or turkey mince- whatever you have on hand. When you’re cooking the meat with the mushrooms and sauce it will seem like there is a bit too much liquid but once you simmer for a couple minutes and add the hokkien noodles they will soak up the sauce. Hokkien noodles are available at most grocery stores and at Costco you can often get a big box for just a couple dollars.

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Adapted from this recipe
Serves 4

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
4 servings of hokkien noodles
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces lean ground pork
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
4 lime wedges

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.

Add pork to pan; sauté for 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add mushrooms and saute 2 more min or until brown. Add the green onions.

Stir in chopped onion, and salt; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in cornstarch. Gradually add stock; bring to a boil. Stir in soy sauce and sriracha; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the hokkien noodles and stir to combine. (Some hokkien noodles will need to be softened in boiling water- check the instructions on the package). Divide the noodles and and pork mixture among four shallow bowls. Serve with lime wedges.

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Filed under Pasta and rice, Recipes

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

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Ah, tuna steaks.

The steak for those lacking a barbecue. Or those lacking the knowledge to actually use a barbecue.

Either way, they’re basically the low-cal, low-cost distant cousin of your basic porterhouse. Pretty distant, like twice-removed, third generation half-cousin, but the similarities exist.

I got these hefty little chunks of tuna goodness for four bucks each, and the rest of the ingredients were pretty low-cost as well. To make the meal a bit more interesting I decided to add some Soba noodles on the side. As a sidenote, if you’re searching for soba noodles in an Asian grocery store, they’re actually called buckwheat noodles, this will probably save you the ten or fifteen minutes of frustrated foraging that I had to endure.

This recipe does take about an hour but it’s fresh and delicious and I’ll bet most of you college students out there haven’t been adventurous enough to throw a hunk of fish into your weeknight dinner, so now that you’ve got the recipe, what are you waiting for?

Pan-seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime
From the Food Network ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/pan-seared-tuna-with-avocado-soy-ginger-and-lime-recipe/index.html)

Serves 2

Ingredients:
3 big handfuls of fresh corriander leaves, finely chopped
1 red jalapeno, sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic clove, grated
1 1/2 limes, juiced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 (6-ounce) blocks of sushi-quality tuna
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and sliced

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper.  Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 the corriander mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining corriander sauce drizzled over the whole plate.

Soba Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce
From http://www.simplyreem.com

Ingredients:
1 9 oz packet of soba noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup corriander, chopped
2-3 tablespoons Sesame oil/any neutral oil
2 teaspoons chilli oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, check for the seasoning. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavours develop.

Boil the soba noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Add the sauce, sesame seeds and toss the noodles well, check the seasoning one last time, give it a final toss and enjoy.

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Filed under Pasta and rice, Recipes, Seafood

‘Mexican’ style rice salad

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Chorizo is a great ingredient that I never really started using until I came to Australia. For some reason I seem to encounter it a lot more here than I ever did in the States. When you get it from the supermarket it’s usually pretty inexpensive if you don’t use too much. I’d have to say my favourite chorizo recipe is creamy pesto pasta with sliced chorizo and roasted cherry tomatoes (a simple but delicious recipe my boyfriend and I came up with). But this easy salad is a close second and it keeps really well for work-day lunches.

Mexican Style Rice Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6
Recipe from Coles

2 cups Long Grain rice, boiled until tender, rinsed and cooled
2 chorizo sausages, sliced into half circles
250g punnet grape tomatoes, halved
310g can corn kernels, drained
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lime

1. Cook chorizo in a frying pan for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned. Add tomatoes, cook 2 minutes to warm through.

2. Combine rice, chorizo and tomato, corn, avocado, coriander and chives together in a large bowl.

3. Combine dressing ingredients and toss through salad. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under Pasta and rice, Recipes