Monthly Archives: April 2013

Marinade recipes – Chinese 5 spice, Thai satay & Italian herb

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As posted earlier, I got super busy on the weekend and made a heap of marinated meats for dinners. This means that I can go to the freezer and know that there is a tasty meal just waiting to be cooked with minimum effort required.

I made 3 different marinades which are amazing on the usual meats like chicken, pork, beef, lamb – but could also be used on seafood, tofu or vegetables too. Get creative and imaginative – it’s all about trying to infuse as much flavour as possible into the food!

Chinese 5 spice marinade:

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 thumb-size piece ginger, finely chopped

1 hot chilli, finely chopped

4 tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup

4 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

2 tbsp dry sherry, Chinese cooking wine (optional)

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Chinese 5 spice marinade

Thai satay marinade/sauce:

This can be used as a marinade but also as a sauce for satay dishes – so make lots as it freezes well.

Ingredients:

1/2 tin coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 hot chilli

3 cloves garlic

1 thumb-size piece ginger

1 thumb-size piece galangal (I couldn’t get fresh galangal but found a pickled version at my local Asian Grocer)

Stems and roots of 1 bunch coriander/cilantro (save the leaves to add to soup)

2 tbsp palm or brown sugar

Method:

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.

Thai satay marinade

Italian Herb marinade:

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh basil

1/4 bunch fresh parsley

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Method:

Place all ingredients into a blender/food processor and blitz until combined.

italian herb marinade

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Lentil, chickpea and coconut soup – vegan, gluten free

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This soup recipe was a combination of several recipes I’d seen in the past and I decided that it would make for a perfect lunch soup for my work days. Living in freezing, FREEZING cold Canberra means that soups are an essential part of the winter diet – and this one is packed full of protein, complex carbs and veggies, both filling, nutritious and best of all, DELICIOUS! This soup is best served with a big piece of crusty bread. If you have the time it’s definitely worth making the No-Knead bread recipe I have posted – goes perfectly with soup!

Lentil coconut soup

Ingredients:

1 x 400g tin brown lentils, drained

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained

2 x 400g tins coconut milk (light version is fine to use)

1 large brown onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 large stalk celery, finely diced

1 medium red pepper/capsicum, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large thumb-size piece ginger, finely chopped

2 hot chillies (take out seeds if you don’t want it so spicy)

4 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

Salt & pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup tomato paste

6 cups water

2 teaspoons chicken stock powder (vegan)

1 lime

Fresh coriander/cilantro

Natural or greek yoghurt

Method:

In a large pot put olive oil, onion, carrot, celery and capsicum and cook until softened. Add garlic, ginger, chilies, spices and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. (It’s really important to cook off your spices and tomato paste – if you don’t you can end up with a “raw” taste in your soup.) Add lentils, chickpeas, coconut milk, water, stock and salt & pepper to pot and bring to a simmer.

Cook on a low temperature for 15-20 minutes until vegetables and chickpeas are soft. Add the juice of half a lime to the soup once finished cooking.

Serve soup with a big dollop of natural/greek yoghurt, a sprinkle of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, a wedge of fresh lime and some crusty bread (homemade is best!).

Serves: 10

Can be frozen.

Weekend productivity

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Being a single girl and working full time is great and all, but sometimes after a long day at work the last thing I want to do is think about cooking a healthy, nutritious dinner for my lonesome self. I’m desperately trying to save money at the moment, yet still eat as healthy and nutritiously as possible. I decided that this weekend was going to be productive, creative, and money-saving oriented – so I got busy and planned all my meals (yes – breakfast, lunch and dinner) for every single day, all for under $150. Two days dedicated to cooking (torture for some, heavenly bliss for me!) was all it took (you could do it in 1 day, but I liked spreading it out across the weekend) and I’m now organised for the next fortnight! The menu isn’t overly diverse and if you can’t cope with the same flavours/meat several times in 1 week then just alter the plan to suit you. It’s super easy to change a few things around to get a bit more variety into the meals and means that there is no “what should I have for dinner today” moments, because it’s all sorted already. The way to keep this 2 week plan under $150 is to buy seasonally (fruit and veg) or buy what’s on special that week.

Menu:

Breakfast – rolled oats with fruit (I add sultanas or stewed apples)

Lunch – soup and bread (2 soups to choose from (roasted pumpkin, sweet potato and capsicum & lentil, chickpea and coconut) and homemade wholemeal bread)

Dinner – meat (I’ve used chicken and pork this fortnight) in marinade (Italian herb, Chinese 5 spice, Thai satay) with vegetables and rice/potato/pasta (optional)

I divided my meat up into daily portions (I bought a whole chicken and divided it up to save money – $11 for 7 meat portions is awesome!) in zip-lock bags and added my marinade before sealing and freezing. Also froze my vegetables in portions, which means taking the bags out of the freezer and putting them into a dish to cook in the oven. This means low fat cooking – no extra oil/butter and no preparation time.

I’ll get to putting up the recipes for all food in the next couple of days, as well as the shopping list and quantities etc. for the fortnight.

I just want to add, making this bread is ESSENTIAL! People think that baking bread is hard work – it’s NOT! The recipe for the bread I make is super easy, and not that time consuming once you get your head around the concept. It is cheap to make your own bread, you know exactly what ingredients go into it, it tastes AMAZING – best bread I’ve ever eaten, and you can easily add ingredients to change the flavours. If you don’t take anything else from this, please please PLEASE give the bread recipe a go – it’s awesome! (https://miairby.com/2013/04/29/no-knead-bread-delicious-and-easy/)

I guess this is proof that with a little bit of forward planning you can save money, eat healthily and know that what you are eating has no added preservatives, colours or flavours. Oh, and everything is packed full of flavour – being organised and cutting out unhealthy fats and additives doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice flavour…I love food that tastes as amazing as it looks, especially when it’s great fuel for my body too!

No-knead bread – delicious and easy

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For a while now I’ve been making my own bread. A lot of people remark at how difficult it is and how dedicated I am to cooking…but that’s not necessarily true. This bread recipe is super easy, requires no kneading, and can be altered to change the flavours. So far I’ve cooked a few wholemeal molasses loaves as well as a caramelised onion, spinach and parmesan loaf – all of which have turned out amazing! I accidentally discovered the secret to getting this bread so light and fluffy on the weekend, and that was because I left my dough to rise the second time around longer than usual…the result?! Fluffy, light and airy bread with a delicious crunchy crust. At a glance it might seem that this bread-making process is complicated and time consuming, but once you’re organised it’s easy and can fit into a daily or weekly routine. This isn’t one of those “Oh I have 10 minutes spare time, I’ll whip up a loaf of bread” recipe – you need to plan ahead – but trust me, totally worth the effort! (original recipe from: http://www.frugallivingnw.com/frugal-homemaking/amazing-no-knead-bread-step-by-step-recipe/)

Bread ingredients

Ingredients:

6 cups plain flour (I use half white/half wholemeal)

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 2/3 cup water

2-3 tablespoons molasses (optional)

Method:

Put all dry ingredients in bowl (and molasses if using it) and slowly add water to combine. The mix should be quite wet, so if the dough is too dry add a little more water (be careful –  a little goes a long way).

Bread dough unrisen

Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave on kitchen bench for 12-18 hours to rise.

Once risen, pour dough onto lightly floured bench-top and tuck edges underneath so you create a smooth ball on top with gnarly bits underneath. Place back into bowl to rest for a further 2 hours (dough should almost fill bowl again once risen second time around).

Bread dough risen

Preheat oven to maximum temperature; half an hour before cooking time place a cast iron pot with lid into oven to pre-heat. Once pot is hot, tip bowl of dough into pot smooth side down so the gnarly bits are now on the top of the loaf. Put lid on pot and return to oven to cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour of cooking time remove the lid and return to oven for a further 10 minutes.

Wait until bread is cooled completely before cutting. Bread is best if left until the day after cooking to cut and eat. I keep my bread in the cast iron pot with the lid on, as this keeps the bread from going soggy or drying out. Delicious with sweet or savoury toppings…or my favourite – toasted with butter…YUM!

finished loaf

Alternate versions:

Why not add some dried fruit to your molasses dough base to make a delicious fruit loaf?

Add 1 cup of chopped black olives and a couple of stems of chopped rosemary for a yummy savoury loaf.

Add 1/2 cup caramelised onions, 1/2 cup wilted spinach & 1/4 cup parmesan cheese for another savoury version.

Choc-peanut butter health slice (healthy, vegan, & a gluten free option available)

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Choc slice

 

I found a recipe on Pinterest the other day for a no-bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal slice (original recipe here: http://amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/best-recipe-ive-ever-messed-up.html)  that looked absolutely delicious. I decided to give it a try on the weekend, but of course had to add my own spin to the original recipe. This is quick and easy to make, and the taste is simply amazing…you won’t be able to stop at one bar that’s for sure!

 

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup coconut oil

– 200g block 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into pieces

– 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

– 2/3 cup raw honey

– 2 cups rolled oats (use puffed rice or quinoa here if you want to make a gluten free version)

– 1 cup dried fruit – I used dried apricots, dates, craisins and sultanas

– Desiccated coconut to sprinkle on top

 

– Place coconut oil, peanut butter and honey in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Add in broken chocolate pieces and microwave for a further minute. Take out mixture and stir – the chocolate should be melted and all ingredients should be incorporated. Add dried fruit and oats to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined. Press mixture into a greased and lined lamington tray, sprinkle with desiccated coconut, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove slice from pan and cut into bars (my tray made 24 pieces of slice – cut 6 x 4). Keep slice in airtight container in fridge for up to a week.