Tag Archives: healthy

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

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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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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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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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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Haloumi with mushrooms and asparagus

For a while I really wasn’t sure what the fuss was over haloumi. Honestly I hadn’t even heard about it much before coming to Sydney. Over here though you can find it everywhere. I guess it has taken over the place of feta or goat’s cheese in salads across the city. To be honest, I just kept seeing the name everywhere and for ages I thought it was a type of mushroom…not a type of cheese. But turns out, it is a cheese and it is darn tasty. So I decided to cook some for myself. This recipe is probably best done on the grill, haloumi has a very high melting point which makes it ideal for grilling or frying, but I don’t own a grill so I pan-fried this salty little treat. I simply seasoned it with some lemon juice, salt and pepper and paired it with some steamed asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. Simple, easy, done. And it’s under 500 calories.

Enjoy!

Haloumi with mushrooms and asparagus
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
Cracked black pepper
400g button mushrooms, quartered
250g haloumi, sliced
18 asparagus spears
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Method

1. Preheat grill pan or barbecue.
2. Combine oil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Toss through mushrooms and haloumi.
3. Place mushrooms and haloumi on grill pan or barbecue and cook, 5 to 7 minutes, turning regularly to prevent haloumi from burning.
4. Steam asparagus, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Arrange mushrooms, haloumi and asparagus on serving plate and scatter on lemon zest and almonds.

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Asian noodles with shrimp and edamame

As a self-professed pasta lover, I’ve found it hard to find a suitable replacement now that I’m toning down my carb intake. Rice is definitely not the same, and if you’re eating a bunch of white rice it’s still not very good for you either. I’ve tried hokkien noodles and udon noodles for stir-fries and they’re okay. Now I’ve been experimenting with soba noodles and they seem to be doing the trick.

In some cultures soba just means noodles but usually soba refers to buckwheat noodles. Buckwheat noodles are naturally gluten-free and usually about 98 per cent fat free. Buckwheat is deceptively named, it is related to the rhubarb and doesn’t contain any wheat. As opposed to udon which is a thick wheat noodle. At many shops that sell Asian noodles you will often get the choice between udon and soba, I’m surprised I never previously knew that one contained wheat and the other didn’t. I’ve experimented with soba noodles in the past, once with a peanut sauce and another time with a lime, soy and honey sauce. However, this dish has proved to be the best so far. It is a bit involved so I recommend making a bit more so it will last you for a few meals.

Asian noodles with shrimp and edamame
From the Food Network
Takes 25 minutes
Serves 4

  • 10 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian chile sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
  • 1/2 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or scallions

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs, adding the edamame during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the noodles and edamame.

Meanwhile, puree the garlic, ginger, Sriracha, 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons water in a blender. Mix the lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt; add to the pan and cook, turning, until just pink, 2 minutes. Add the Sriracha mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture, noodles and edamame, herbs and the reserved cooking water and toss. Divide among bowls and drizzle with more sesame oil.

Per serving: Calories 485; Fat 14 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 86 mg; Sodium 483 mg; Carbohydrate 64 g; Fiber 8 g; Protein 27 g

Enjoy!

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