Tag Archives: cheap

Jamie’s coconut buns with chicken stir-fry

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This is another recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s latest books 15 Minute Meals. So far none of them have been close to the fifteen minute mark but they’re quite tasty nonetheless. After the success of Jamie’s seared tuna with jiggy jiggy greens I decided to give another recipe a go. This one stood out due to the lack of complicated ingredients and I was really curious to see how these coconut buns would come out. I simply followed the recipe and made the dough in a food processor and then steamed them and surprisingly they came out looking pretty profesh if I do say so myself.

However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste- I did use all the coconut milk but they didn’t have a very strong coconut taste. They were a bit bland and I didn’t feel like there was enough sauce to scrape up with the buns. When I make this recipe again I think I’ll do the chicken stir fry with Jamie’s coconut rice instead and see how that goes. Overall it was a good weeknight recipe and I loved the simple flavours of the stir fry.

I used an adapted version of Jamie’s recipe that stir fries the chicken and veggies instead of steaming them.

Coconut buns with stir fried chicken and veggies
Serves 4
See the recipe here

Ingredients:

For the coconut buns:
270g tin of light coconut milk
Use the empty coconut milk can to measure out two cans worth of self-raising flour

For the chicken:
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, thinly cut
100g mushrooms, I used shiitake and button
1 bunch of broccolini, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons oyster sauce, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
Lime wedges, to serve

Directions:

1. For the coconut buns: Pour the coconut milk into a food processor. Use the empty tin to measure out the self-raising flour, you’ll want two tins worth of flour. Add the flour and 1/2 tsp of salt to the food processor and process until a dough forms. Lightly knead the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then roll out small balls of dough. I was able to make about 9 small buns. If the dough is too sticky just add some more flour to your workspace and your hands.Place the dough into large muffin cases and place, in a single layer, into a steamer basket with a lid. Put the steamer over a pot of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.

2. For the chicken: Place a wok over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When hot, add the chicken in pieces and stir until the chicken is browned, about 3 minutes.

3. Place the broccolini in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 50 seconds.

4. Add the broccolini and mushrooms to the wok with the chicken and stir for 1 minute. Add the oyster sauce and stir until the chicken and veggies are coated and heated through.

5. Serve the chicken and vegetable stir-fry with the coconut buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top.

 

 

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Scrambled egg muffins

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Some people are morning people. I am not one of them.

My morning routine takes about an hour and if it starts before 10am, I’m usually not in a good mood during it. And that long routine doesn’t even include making breakfast.

Another one of my resolutions is to start eating breakfast. I’m one of those people who will just grab the $5 coffee and croissant deal from the cafe downstairs while running to work, one of those people who eats some Cheez-its out of the box for breakfast because pouring cereal and milk is way too much work, one of those people that thinks cold pizza in the morning can most times be better than hot pizza (but not in Australia, sorry guys but pizza here kind of sucks), one of those people who constantly seems to have expired milk in the fridge…you get what I mean.

So breakfast is always a struggle. Though I still think Cheez-its or Goldfish make a great breakfast. Alas, I have tried to stop eating cheese flavoured crackers for brekkie and make sure I eat a suitable breakfast food at a suitable breakfast hour instead. And since I’m constantly running out the door in the morning, I wanted something I could make in advance and eat for a few days. Enter the scrambled egg muffin, a genius of good ingredients, portable size and awesome-ness! I realize making scrambled eggs takes all of fifteen minutes but then you have to wash and sit down and use a fork and it’s all just a massive process in my world. So I decided to take all of that and put it in the shape of a muffin and make lots so I could eat them ALL WEEK. Genius? Why, yes I think so.

Scrambled egg muffins
Makes 10
6 eggs
1/2 onion, diced
2 pieces streaky bacon, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup reduced-fat tasty cheese
Salt, pepper and olive oil

Preheat your oven to about 170C. Chop the onion, bacon, spinach and mushrooms to have them ready. Saute the bacon and onion in a frying pan with a teaspoon of oil on medium high heat. After two minutes add the mushrooms. Saute until the bacon is a bit crispy and the onion and mushrooms are soft. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes so it doesn’t cook the egg right away. In a big bowl scramble the eggs together. Throw in the onion, bacon, spinach, mushrooms and cheese. In a muffin tin coated with cooking spray or with little muffin cups (like the ones in the picture). Spoon the mixture evenly between the muffin cups. Put them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

These are quite small so I usually had two per morning but I think Ciaran could have had three per morning so it’s up to you. This is adapted from a recipe where the muffins were 133 calories each and this version just has more vegetables so the calorie count shouldn’t be too far off that.

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And that’s how I enjoy my morning.

Enjoy!

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Pea and haloumi fritters with tomato salad

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This is a great meal for lunch or dinner. I made it for lunch one day when I was running low on cash to go grocery shopping and decided to just make something with whatever I could find in the fridge. Luckily I had some frozen peas, a bit of haloumi, some red onion, plus eggs and flour. I’ve done variations of these fritters since- one with zucchini, corn and haloumi which has actually turned Ciaran on to eating haloumi. I never thought I’d see that day. All you really need for these fritters is some eggs and flour to make the base and then your choice of veggies. The haloumi is also essential because other cheeses will melt too much and you’ll have a puddly mess of dairy and veg. If you’re using veggies that you have to chop yourself, basically anything other than peas and corn, make sure you cut the pieces very very small or your fritters will be very ugly and fiddily.

Recipe from Vegie Project

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cooking time: 10 min
  • Servings: makes 12
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 red onion finely diced
30g haloumi cheese finely diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup self-raising flour
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to shallow fry

Tomato salsa:
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/4 red onion finely diced
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of chilli flakes

To prepare the tomato salsa just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Place the frozen peas in a small saucepan with water and boil them for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

To make the fritters simply combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Drop tablespoons of the fritter mixture into the pan (about 2 tablespoons will make one fritter). Flatten the fritters slightly with a spatula. Cook the bottom side for about 3 minutes until a crust forms, then using a spatula flip the fritters over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve with the tomato salsa.

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‘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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‘Mexican’ quesadillas

Following the excellent advice of comedian Jim Gaffigan, instead of giving these a more descriptive name, I think Mexican quesadillas works well.

“My favorite food is Mexican food, I used to be a waiter in a Mexican restaurant in Indiana. Now that’s where you go for Mexican.

Mexican food’s great, but it’s essentially all the same ingredients, so there’s a way you’d have to deal with all these stupid questions. “What is nachos?” “…Nachos? It’s tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Oh, well then what is a burrito?” “Tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Well then what is a tostada?” “Tortilla with cheese, meat, and vegetables.” “Well then what i-” “Look, it’s all the same shit! Why don’t you say a spanish word and I’ll bring you something.”

Mexican food is great, but it is all the same, it’s almost a conspiracy. It’s almost like they had a meeting 200 years ago in Mexico City and one guy stood up and he was like, “Hey, the reason I got everyone here is pretty simple, I figured we could rename this one entree seven times and sell it to the North Americans. The French said it would be a good idea.” “Who’s in on it?” Then some guy in the back was like, “Wouldn’t that be dishonest?” “Well, if you’re quiet we’ll name one of the entrees after you, what’s your name?” “My name’s Chimichanga.”

-Jim Gaffigan

http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/pymif1/comedy-central-presents-bottled-water

Love that guy.

This is a super simple dish that can be made as a wrap or as a quesadilla. I recommend having it as a wrap if you want to bring it with you to work or uni since it’ll be fresh and if you’re staying at home, toss it in a frying pan and make it into a quesadilla. This recipe is for one but you can easily double, or triple it.

Mexican quesadilla:

Tortillas (I used sun-dried tomato flavour)
1 can Mexe-beans, (though you’ll only use a few tablespoons)
1/4 cup tasty cheese
1/3 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
Cos lettuce, chopped

You can also add ingredients like sour cream, tomatoes or meat but I chose to keep it super simple.

Place all the ingredients in the tortilla, either roll it up like a burrito or fold the tortilla in half, warm up in a frying pan and enjoy as a quesadilla.

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Lighter sesame chicken

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There’s only a handful of food items that I really miss from the States.

Crispy bacon, good bagels with cream cheese, Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee and greasy Chinese food.

You can still get Chinese food here, obviously, but it’s not quite the same. Somehow they don’t really overload it with oil and grease and MSG and all other gross things like in America. Which is probably a good thing. No, definitely a good thing.

There were always certain occasions when I would get Chinese takeout back home. On lazy afternoons at boarding school we used to order delivery and eat our paper cartons of shrimp lo mein while sitting out on the grass. In New York City we used to order delivery when we were too lazy to leave the apartment and really didn’t want to have to brave the four floors of stairs in order to eat food. For $10 I usually got a big container of crispy fried rice accompanied by beef and broccoli. Then we’d also get egg rolls, sometimes they’d throw in some steamed dumplings. And at home with my parents Chinese takeout was usually called in when we were too lazy to cook. It would usually be a Sunday night and we’d all move into the television room and unpack all the savoury goodness onto the table, shrimp fried rice, Szechuan dumplings in spicy peanut sauce, steamed pork dumplings, spring rolls, golden nuggets, shrimp lo mein, sesame chicken, shrimp and chicken Thailand style (whatever that was), chow fun. There wasn’t really anything on that menu that I didn’t like, except the hot and sour soup. I was never fan of that one. I definitely miss those nights and more than anything I miss coming home the next day to see the leftovers still in the fridge ready to be made in to the ultimate afternoon snack.

The only real problem with that food is the awful way you feel as soon as you finish. While you’re eating and mopping up the sauce with your extra rice, dipping the spring rolls in that delicious sweet duck sauce, scraping for the last dumpling, you feel divine. And as soon as you’re done you feel the need to lie down and usually down a gallon of water from the sodium overload. That’s probably why we usually ate on the couch at home. But this isn’t the part I think about when I’m missing this breed of strange Chinese-American food, I miss the flavours, the convenience and the excuses we used to order it. Instead of going all out and trying to put myself in a sodium induced coma, I decided to satisfy my cravings with a healthier version. The chicken is lightly sauteed in oil instead of  being deep fried and the sauce isn’t quite as sweet as usual leaving you with a filling, healthy meal. And I was still very excited to see the leftovers in the fridge the next day.

Lighter sesame chicken
From MarthaStewart.com

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced
  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.
  4. Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.

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The ‘everything starts with C’ salad

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Okay not everything, but it’s pretty close.

Living so close to the CBD in Sydney there never seems to be a shortage of available pubs for lunch. And luckily for me and my student budget, most of them do $10 meals during lunch on Monday to Friday. Which is really quite generous and also makes a lot of sense, because who else is really going to be at a pub at 1:30 on a Tuesday?

Students.

But we love it. I have my old local, the Abercrombie,  my new local, the Paddington Inn, my local that’s a little bit further away, the Imperial, my local when I’m in the mood for food with a more Mexican flair, the Norfolk…and the list goes on.

At most of these pubs the $10 lunches are really nice as well, the other day I had a haloumi salad with chickpeas and cherry tomatoes. (I told you I was on a haloumi kick). At the Abercrombie you can get chicken schnitzel, a plate of nachos, tropical calamari salad and peri peri chicken. It’s not like they simply dredge up some food that they wouldn’t normally serve because it’s being sold at a cheaper price. We feel the love from the pubs offering these lunchtime specials, and clearly we love them right back.

Even though a $10 lunch in Sydney is a great deal, it can be even cheaper. When I was having lunch at the Norfolk a while ago I had a delicious Mexican Chicken Salad and made a note of the ingredients in my iPhone. And the other day when I was craving it again, I decided to just head to the grocery store, buy all the ingredients I had listed and re-create it myself. And I realized I could make it for only $4.16 a serve. So the next time you’re down at your local enjoying a great meal, whether you’ve scored a sweet $10 deal or are paying regular prices, just jot down the ingredients in your phone and try to re-make it at home. It’ll most likely be cheaper, healthier and it’s a great way to get inspiration for meals during the week.

Enjoy,

Allie

The ‘everything starts with C’ salad
Serves 6

1/2 red cabbage
1 medium carrot
1 can of sweet corn
1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1 packet of Taco Seasoning
2 chicken breasts
50g of cashews
1 avocado
1 lime

Sprinkle about 1/4 of the taco seasoning over the raw chicken and rub it so it coats both breasts evenly. Cook the chicken on a pre-heated barbecue until cooked all the way through.

While the chicken is cooking, and don’t forget to check on it, cut the cabbage into small pieces. You can cut it length-ways into strips and then continue chopping until all the pieces are bite-size. Put the cabbage into a large salad bowl. Use a grater to grate the carrot into small pieces and add to the bowl. Drain the corn and add to the bowl. Add the cashews, cheese and diced avocado. Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice over the salad and mix all the ingredients together. When the chicken is cooked cut it into strips and place it on top of the salad.

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