A Restaurant Style Meal

A Restaurant Style Meal

Have you seen my “Getting $#!T Done” course yet?
I ask because, part of the challenge is to audit your life in every area and slowly level each area up to a “10”

One area of life is, of course, “Romance / Significant Other”  I have rated this area of my life as a good solid 8 🙂

Nobody is perfect and I don’t know that anybody should actually rate their relationship as a 10.  Let’s face it there is always more to do and some little thing that we are not 100% happy with about our partners (or ourselves).

When I was going through my monthly plan and trying to decide how I could level up this area, I thought one thing we enjoy doing is eating out.  We choose not to spend $100+ very often on a restaurant meal, but we are both capable home cooks and can replicate a restaurant style dish without too much stress.

Anyway, I digress  🙂

In my never ending quest to become a princess and be wined and dined by my prince  I decided that , as I work from home every Friday, I would look through a few menus and have a “fancy dinner” on Friday nights.    I will not shop specifically for this meal, but rather use the menu as inspiration to use what I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry.

This weeks menu came from a lovely restaurant not far from us.  See Restaraunt in Mooloolaba 
I have actually only been there once, and it was with a group of girlfriends for a special lunch.
It is on my list of places to go with hubby, but is is a stretch on the budget.
(A couple would do well to walk out spending under $100 after meals and a couple of drinks)

Scrolling through their menu, this dish caught my eye….
Confit Duck, Spec and Green Pea Medley, Honey Carrot Puree

Yummmmmm, but I don’t normally have duck or spec residing in my well stocked fridge/freezer, but I most certainly do have chicken and bacon!!   This sounded like a winner.

This is what I ended up with ….
Slow Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken, Bacon and Green Pea Medley, Honey Carrot Puree.

I found this recipe on Taste for the Chicken  and made it with a small half bird from the freezer.

The “bacon and green pea medley” is a side dish I often make for guests.. (a similar recipe is here)
In my dish I used frozen peas, green shallots and snow peas and  fresh beans all cut into small pieces about the same size as the peas.

For the honey carrot puree, I sauteed a small chopped onion in a drizzle of olive oil until soft but not coloured. to that I added two medium carrots chopped into rounds, and covered with water, a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of chicken stock.  Simmer this until the water is mostly gone. Be careful, you don’t want it to boil dry.   

To serve, mash or puree the carrots ( I used a stick blender) and spread onto a plate in an attractive pool. Nestle the chicken in the puree and surround with the peas.  Gently spoon over the sauce from the chicken being careful not to “drown” it

As I am a TERRIBLE food blogger, I forgot to take pictures 🙁

Hubby declared the meal a success, and I felt I had boosted my “relationship score” a point or so – at least for the night 🙂

I wonder what I will find next Friday??

Not my picture of chicken 🙂

A Spring “High Tea” Picnic

A Spring “High Tea” Picnic

This weekend was a family birthday, so we packed up the car and ventured out to have a special picnic.

The spring weather here is just lovely, and it is always a great time for a picnic.

I designed a “high tea” type spread with pikelets with jam and cream, finger sandwiches, chicken and vegetables, bruschetta, mini prawn cocktails, cupcakes, brownies and fruit salad cups.

None of the elements of this are difficult. The appeal comes in the presentation.
I arranged most of the food on a large platter around a central upturned lunchbox, upon which I placed the pikelets. This replicated the “high tea” look I was after.

I also managed to do this for under $36 to serve 3 people.  Even if I include the cost of the items I already had in the pantry or fridge, it would still have come in at under $50.

This was our main meal for the day, and we were all satisfied without being “stuffed”

I am happy with how it all turned out. The family felt they had been thoroughly spoilt  🙂

This is what I made ( with recipes where applicable)

Stretching Bread Rolls.

Stretching Bread Rolls.

I picked up a packet of Soy and Linseed rolls at the supermarket the other day.

They were on special and they looked really yummy. 

When I got home and looked at them again, I thought they were quite large.   I am not gluten free, but I do try to keep my bread down as I find I get a little bloated with too much.

I was going to cut them in half like this…

Then I saw an ad on the TV for ( of all things) a MacDonald’s  Big  Mac.
I came up with the clever idea to split my bread rolls into 3!!

Now I have 6 rolls and 6 slices of yummy Soy & Linseed bread for toast under my eggs in the morning.

What a great way to stretch those more expensive “artisan” rolls.

No Fuss – Stress Free meals

No Fuss – Stress Free meals

A couple of months of crazy days have seen us eating some “creative” meals of late.

My main focus has been to feed us reasonably healthy meals that do not require too much in the way of preparation or fuss. Some days there may have been time to do things like cook a roast for a couple of hours.  Other days were “we need to eat in the next 30 minutes” type days.

We very rarely eat takeaway, as mostly we find we can do better at home, cheaper, faster and healthier. We do however look to fast food for concepts.  I have seen some blog/Facebook groups that term this as “Fake-away” or “Takeaway at Home”.

Often our version of fast food turns into a “clean out the fridge special”.  Some “recipes” for Clean out the Fridge specials are…

  • A packet of mince ( which we buy in bulk and freeze in 250g pieces, whatever veggies are in the fridge simply chopped and fried together with a bit of beef stock made from powder and a dollop of tomato paste gets a tin of tomatoes added and simmered for 15 minutes or so while some pasta cooks. This creates a satisfying meal on the table in well under 30 minutes and reduces wasted food.
  • A similar dish can be done with veggies and a cheese sauce added to a tin of tuna and pasta or rice.
  •  Veges sauteed with a bit of butter or oil and add some chunks of beef, lamb or chicken. Pour over 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of gravy powder, add any herbs you like and simmer until the meat is pull-apart tender. This one might take about 50 minutes to an hour.

Other ideas for “Fake-away” meals include..

  • Make your own pizzas. This is great for using up leftover deli meats.  You don’t even need a “proper” pizza base for these.  Put two pieces of bread in the toaster together so that just one side of the bread gets toasted.  Spread some tomato paste or sauce onto the untoasted side.  Pile the toast nice and high with yummy toppings and sprinkle over some tasty cheese.  Pop them under a hot grill until the cheese is melted and brown.  Cut each slice of “pizza” into 2 and serve.
  • Fish and Chips are a good standby to have in the freezer. Frozen crumbed fish fillets and frozen chips are simply put in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes and “voila” dinner in half the time it would take to drive to the takeaway, wait for the order and drive home.
  • Burgers are easy to make with either rolls or bread. Serve with chips from the oven

While all of these ideas are fast and affordable, the easiest way to have superfast meals ready to go is to always cook far more than you need and have meals ready to go in the freezer.  We have always got something for those days when we really just could not bother.

What are your favourite “Fast, Fuss Free” meals??

Stroganoff Meatballs

Stroganoff Meatballs

Cheats “sort of” Strog.

We are in the process of running down our freezer in preparation for 3 weeks away.    (while we are away, I will unplug the freezer and let it completely defrost, then give it a good clean out in the new year)

I have been trying to mix the contents of the freezer around a little, so we don’t end up with sausages for 7 days straight 🙂    We had a fair bit of mince left in the freezer and I was looking for something a bit “different” to do.

I came up with the idea of a Beef Stroganoff type dish with little meatballs – but not a “Swedish Meatball – Ikea” dish.

Obviously, by the look of this plate, it was a hit.

So without further ado.. here is my recipe for

“Stoganoff Meatballs”

250 g Minced Beef

 1 tsp Mixed Herbs

 2 tsp Tomato Paste

 Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil

 1 Large Onion – finely diced

 Garlic Cloves ( as many as you like)

 Fettucine, Spaghetti or other pasta

 2 Large Mushrooms – sliced

 ¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce

 1 Beef Stock Cube

 ½ cup Sour Cream

 ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese ( plus some for garnish)

 Parsley for garnish

1: In a bowl combine Mince, Herbs, salt, pepper and ½ the tomato paste.

Mix very well until combined. (I use my hands)

Using a teaspoon, scoop out heaped spoonfuls and roll them into balls.
( I make mine about the size of a large marble)

Place the meatballs in the fridge to firm up.

2: In a non-stick pan heat a tablespoon of oil and sauté one large onion and a garlic clove (or 3 if you love garlic as we do) until just starting to caramelise. (You don’t want too much colour on them or your sauce could be a little bitter)

Remove the cooked onions and place them aside.

3: In the same pan, add the pre-prepared meatballs and gently fry until cooked almost through. (Drain any excess oil as the mince renders it out.)

4: When the meatballs are cooked, remove them from the pan and put them aside with the onions.
At this stage, put a pot of salted water on to boil and cook whatever pasta takes your fancy (we had some curly fettuccine noodles in the pantry)

bike pump tutorial

5: Still in the same pan, add 2 sliced mushrooms and sauté until softened and golden.

Turn the heat down to medium and add ¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce, one beef stock cube and the other 1/2 of the tomato paste.

Stir gently until the sauce comes to the boil.

Make sure you scrape all the lovely tasty bits off the bottom of the pan.

6: Add in ½ cup of sour cream and ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and melts.

7: Return the onions and meatballs to the sauce and simmer until everything is heated through.
Finally, stir through the cooked pasta.

8: Serve onto plates, sprinkle over some chopped parsley and a few shavings of parmesan.

Light Healthy Breakfast.

Light Healthy Breakfast.

I have (again) decided I need to lose a few kg’s.

I really do not bother too much about my weight, and do stick to a fairly healthy diet, but I know I have been a bit slack lately.  Tripping up and back 400kms to see my Mum has seen me not eating the best.

Yesterday I thought I did not want my regular eggs on toast, but still wanted eggs.  I came up with this yummy little omelette on salad.

It is a simple dish that is made by gently beating just one egg with a fork until just fluffy add some chopped onion and a bit of grated cheese. I then lightly greased two egg rings and cooked until the egg was cooked through and golden brown.

I then placed them on a bed of store bought salad leaves with a bit of chopped tomato, onion and capsicum. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar and breakfast was ready.

Who says dieting has to be boring?  🙂

Ps. Balsamic Vinegar is a fabulous addition to your pantry. A quick drizzle elevates any dish to “restaurant” quality.