Tag Archives: budget friendly

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

Mussels with white wine and cream

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I’ve spent a lot of time around mussels. Serving them, clearing them, tasting them, seeing them be cooked, seeing them be cleaned. Obviously not in that order, but you get what I mean. Working in a Belgian Beer Cafe you see a lot of mussels. Yet, I’m not quite sick of them. I used to think they were pretty gross looking but really, who doesn’t?

I first started to appreciate them in Western Australia when my parents would buy them cold from the supermarket cooked and marinated in a simple olive oil and herb mixture. I had them again in Quebec, Canada covered in garlic and cream and bacon and thought I had died and gone to heaven. And when I started living in Sydney one of my best friends told me I just had to try out this Belgian Beer Cafe where they served blue cheese mussels. Even as a red-blooded American who loves her blue cheese, I was pretty skeptical. But I tagged along- had an amazingly rich and creamy bowl of mussels and funnily enough also landed myself a trial at the restaurant that would become a big part of my life for the next two years. So yeah, mussels and I have had a pretty emotional journey.

Though we’ve been on such great adventures together, I’ve never really cooked mussels at home before. My dad’s played around with them in the kitchen once or twice but I’ve never done it myself. A few months ago Ciaran and I found ourselves at the Taste of Sydney festival and decided to bring home a packet of Spring Bay mussels. We picked up a little recipe card at the same stand and decided to go the simple route and just follow that. It’s a great weeknight meal because it’s quick, simple and low-fuss. Just pair your dish with some fresh, crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine.

Mussels with white wine & cream (Moules mariniere)

Serves: 2 as a main or 3-4 as a starter
Recipe from Spring Bay

Ingredients

  • 1kg packet Spring Bay Mussels
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 2 (30g) purple eschallots or ½ a red onion, very finely diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprig of thyme
  • a bay leaf
  • 100ml white wine
  • 150ml thickened or whipping cream
  • ¼ cup rough chopped continental parsley

Method

  1. Heat a large heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid over a low heat.
  2. Add the butter, when it’s melted add the eschallots, garlic and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the eschallots are clear and soft.
  3. Increase the heat to high, add the thyme, bay leaf, cream and wine and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3 in volume.
  4. Open the packet of mussels and pour into a colander, give them a light rinse.
  5. Pour the mussels into the boiling wine mixture, give them a stir and then quickly put on the lid. Cook for 3 minutes or until the mussels open. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with the cooking liquid, some crusty bread and salad.

Note

  • The mussels will open as they cook, if there are any unopened mussels, remove the open mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Replace the lid and cook the rest for 1 minute longer.

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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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Superbowl snacks

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I love wings and fries as much as the next person- possibly even more. But if you are looking to make some healthier snacks for game day these are two great options. The edamame hummus is really simple- just pop the ingredients in the food processor and whip it up. The buffalo chicken rolls are a bit more tricky but they are definitely worth it. I almost suggest not making too many because they’re super tasty and if you’re aiming for a healthy treat it’s probably not best to eat like ten of them. They are great for a big group as they’re easy to eat and easy to share.

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Edamame hummus

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/8 cup water plus more if needed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend soy beans, tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add more water if necessary until the consistency is smooth. Place in a small bowl and serve with sliced vegetables such as capsicum or carrots.

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Buffalo Chicken Rolls

Makes 12

Ingredients
12 spring roll wrappers (I found these in the freezer section at Coles)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (1 medium chicken breast)
1/2- 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (I found this at my local IGA)
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cole slaw (dry)
Small bowl of water
Nonstick cooking spray

Blue cheese dressing, for serving

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Lay spring roll wrappers on a clean work surface. In a small bowl, stir chicken* (see note below) and hot sauce until well coated, using more or less sauce depending on your spice preference. The meat should be moist with sauce.

Begin by placing one tablespoon of the cole slaw on the diagonal of the bottom right corner of one of the wrappers. Next, place 2 tablespoons of shredded spicy chicken evenly on top of the slaw. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese crumbles over the chicken. Do not overfill.

To fold: Fold the bottom right corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, with the tip of the corner now pointing to the centre of the spring roll wrapper. Fold in the bottom left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.

Repeat with remaining rolls.

Place the rolls on a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet (or just on a greased cookie sheet) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spritz each roll evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls crisp and turn a light golden brown.

Note: To make the chicken, place 200g of uncooked chicken breast in a small pot and fill with enough water just to cover it. Bring to a boil on your stovetop, reduce the heat slightly, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and let cool before shredding with two forks, pulling against the grain of the meat.

Recipe slightly adapted from Can you stay for dinner?

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Tie dye cupcakes

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The word “groovy” isn’t really heard that much anymore. I can’t really say it’s a shame, it sounds outdated no matter how you use it. That doesn’t mean people like Patrick Monahan from Train will stop using it. Despite the fact that they’ve been around since 1994 they’re still trucking on. Anyone remember “Calling all Angels” and “Drops of Jupiter”? Well, their new annoyingly addictive single “Drive By” is all about a groovy little guy trying to get his girl back by driving around in circles and dancing like a four-year old. I dare you to listen to this song and not dance. But if it still doesn’t get you in the groovy mood, these awesome little tie-die cupcakes might just do the trick.

Tie Dye Cupcakes:

Vanilla cake mix in a box and ingredients for that

4-5 colors of food coloring

Mix up the cake mix until it’s ready. Divide your cake batter into four or five bowls. Add a couple drops of food coloring into each bowl of batter and mix. Add spoonfuls of each color to cupcake liners until the liner is ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes according to the directions on the box of cake.

For the frosting:
From http://sweetapolita.com/2012/03/super-duper-vanilla-or-funfetti-cupcakes/

375grams/13 ounces unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3.5 cups (400g/14oz) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (45mL) milk

1 tablespoon (15mL) pure vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for about 8 minutes on medium speed until the butter becomes very pale and creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. It takes a little while but it’s sooo worth it!

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Guest post: Super easy breakfast tarts

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Living with two girls who turn out to be fantastic cooks has its apparent advantages. I can no longer count on two hands how many times I’ve wandered into the girls’ apartment to smell something amazing being baked/cooked/fried/prepared, roughly ten seconds before platters of food get shoved in my face accompanied with inquisitive stares that scream “what do you think? (and don’t you dare say anything bad about it!)”. Despite this pressure, these girls know how to cook and I can’t remember ever having anything bad to say about any of their creations. There’s definitely nothing more amazing than coming home after an epic night bartending and seeing an aluminium (sorry Allie, ‘aluminum’) foil-wrapped plate full of goodies waiting to be heated up and consumed at record pace. So I can’t really have anything to complain about right?

Unfortunately, skilled as Allie and Kahina are, there is one hugely embarrassing downside. Any time I attempt to create something of my own, it’s inevitably followed by ‘so-you’re-really-going-to-try-putting-those-ingredients-together’ stares, and two pairs of waiting eyes watching to see what my next culinary disaster will yield.

Take for example the last time Kahina made crepes. She is a genuine whizz when it comes to these things, I’m pretty sure making crepes is as inherent to French DNA as making pastries or appreciating fine wine. Anyway, Kahina was making us all breakfast and I, attempting to get in the spirit of things said “why don’t I try making my own?”. Cue raised eyebrows. Five minutes later what can only be described as a crepe batter explosion is all over the pan and surrounding benches and Kahina and Allie in stitches as I try to repair the damage to my breakfast. Crepes 1, Ciaran 0.

So my latest experiment was also something of a disaster. Both the girls were out and I figured I’d try to quickly cook up something before running off to Uni. We had a fair amount of puff pastry and some eggs left in the fridge from a previous cooking adventure, and having seen something about baked eggs in puff pastry on Masterchef, I thought I’d give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? Allie came home as I was finishing removing them from the oven and immediately I got the “omg-what-were-you-thinking-it’s-just-eggs-and-pastry” looks. Needless to say it was extremely embarrassing and yielded weeks of “Ciaran and his egg tarts” jokes. But this time I was intent on proving I could do something with the idea, and came up with these awesome breakfast tarts. I’ve seen variations of them at cafés all over the place and they’re just so easy that anybody can whip them up in a matter of minutes to impress even the most intense and critical foodie. Enjoy!

Ciaran

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Ingredients – Makes 4 medium sized Breakfast Tarts

2 Sheets Puff Pastry

6 Eggs

2 Rashers Middle Bacon

1 Tomato (Alternately you can use Cherry Tomatoes)

100gms Button Mushrooms

Rocket to Garnish

Salt

Pepper

Butter

Sauce of your choice

Method:

Try to use a muffin tin or something similar. Fortunately I managed to use the girls pie tins which turned out to be perfectly sized for these tarts. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave to defrost. Fry the bacon until crispy and then leave it on the side. Slice the mushrooms thinly, cook in a pot until soft and then set aside in the pot. Grease the muffin/pie tin with butter and then arrange the puff pastry so that you make a small bowl in the tin to hold the eggs. Add one full egg and then more egg white if required to fill the pastry bowl you’ve made. This can vary depending on the size of the bowl but be mindful the pastry and the egg will rise so try not to overdo it. The bacon can be cut up a number of ways, I tried to break it into pieces so it was all through the tart but I’ve seen it done as a long single piece so its really up to you! Toss a few of the mushrooms into each of the tarts. Dice the tomato and throw a few pieces in as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the tarts at 180 degrees for about 15-20mins and take care not to overcook them as they’ll dry through the centre. The yolk should be just turning that lighter yellow when you take them out to rest for 5 minutes. Overturn the tins and gently remove the tarts. They may take some encouragement so I found it easier to run a knife around the edge first to make sure you get them out cleanly. Serve each tart with a little Rocket on top to give them a little extra colour and flavour. Add salt, pepper and sauce to taste.

 

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Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

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Stuffing meat is a somewhat controversial subject.

I’m an American so I really have no problem with it. You’ll notice that most meat stuffed dishes originated in the US of A. I originally thought Chicken Cordon Bleu came from France (sorry Kahina) but it turns out, it’s an American creation. First referenced in the NY Times in 1967.

Other countries seem to be okay with stuffing their meat, however apparently Belgium is not one of those places. One of my Belgian friends recently told me she had never eaten stuffed chicken until she came to Australia.

One of my favourite pubs in the Rocks actually serves stuffed burgers, which are pretty awesome. The most awesome part, they’re stuffed with more meat.

One comes with a beef burger stuffed with pork and is possibly even topped with bacon, the other is beef stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella. A cannibalistic explosion of happiness.

While I do like stuffed meat occasionally, and this stuffed chicken is pretty damn good, I don’t think I could ever go so far as these atrocities.

Anyone remember the HIMYM episode where Ted makes a tur-turkey-key.

And did you know that stuffing a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey is a real thing? Oh Paula Deen. Only in America.

You can rest assured that this meal will cause you way less traumatisation than three different types of birds shoved inside each other. It’s a simple stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach dish, it takes a little bit of time (around 40 minutes) but it’s very simple and extremely tasty. Plus it’s a great leftover food for tomorrow’s lunch.

Stuffed chicken with goat’s cheese and spinach

Serves 4

Takes about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 cups of spinach, chopped
½ cup goat’s cheese, softened
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
Some kind of Italian or Mediterranean seasoning, I just used Gourmet Garden’s Parsley and Garlic mix
400g couscous

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Mix together the spinach, goat’s cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper. With a paring knife slice a pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Stuff the goat’s cheese and spinach mixture into each chicken breast. Drizzle some olive oil on the top, season with salt and add the seasoning.

Heat a large skillet on high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Turn over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a baking dish and put the chicken breasts in the oven until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. While the chicken is in the oven make the couscous according to the package directions. When the chicken is cooked let sit for a few minutes and then plate with the couscous.

 

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Filed under Chicken, Recipes