Delicious Dinner

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Yesterday I worked from home so I had a larger window of opportunity for preparing dinner than I normally do on a weekday.  I even had time to take some step-by-step photographs.

As with many of the meals I make, there is no specific recipe, however, my inspiration came from this video which was posted on Facebook.  I did plan to make the enchiladas but had no way to satisfactorily slice the zucchini thinly enough to be able to roll it easily.  So, I made a lasagne.

This is the remainder of the last of the giant zucchini.

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I sliced the flesh as thinly as possible and discarded the seeds.  Some have been saved for next year’s crop.

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Next, I sliced one chicken breast fillet.  It was still mostly frozen which is useful because I find it easier to slice when semi-frozen.  When I need cooked chicken for a recipe, I steam it by placing the chicken on a cake rack over a large frying pan of boiling water.  I then place the domed lid over the top and it cooks quite quickly.

One onion (diced), 1/2 capsicum (diced), 3 birdseye chillies and a lime were the next things I prepared.

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Saute the onion and chopped chillies then add the capsicum and cook until softened.  Add the lime juice.  I only used half a lime as they were large and very juicy.

Add the shredded, cooked chicken and 1/2 can crushed tomatoes.

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Line the base of a small, rectangular dish with zucchini slices then add layers of chicken mixture, grated cheeses (I used parmesan and cheddar) and zucchini.  I also added the remainder of the can of tomatoes as I layered the dish.

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The topping is parmesan and cheddar cheese mixed with flaxseed meal for some added crunch and keep the dish gluten-free.  If this is not an issue you could use dry breadcrumbs with the cheese.

Bake in the oven until heated through and browned on top.  Alternatively, you could microwave for 10 minutes and then crisp the top under the griller.  This is what I did to avoid turning on the oven.

The meal made 3 generous adult serves from one chicken breast fillet and part of a giant zucchini which would otherwise have gone to waste.

Meals with Mango

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I like to make the most of seasonal produce.  Using what is in season means reduced costs as well as minimal transporting and often there is less packaging.

It is even better when it is grown in your garden or immediate locality.  Thanks to the generosity of some neighbours, I currently have access to an abundance of mangoes.

We have been eating them fresh but there are many ways to incorporate them into meals, too.  Here are a couple.

The other night I made mango sorbet.

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Here is the link to the recipe.  I have also added it below with some slight variations to the instructions to suit myself.

Ingredients

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
4 medium mangoes, flesh removed, peeled
1 egg white

Method

Stir the sugar and 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water in a small saucepan over a low heat until dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place mango flesh in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and add the cooled syrup. Cover and freeze, stirring with a fork occasionally, for 2 hours.

Use an electric beater to beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold into the mango mixture. Freeze for 3 hours, until just frozen. Place in a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the pan and freeze for another 3 hours or until firm.

Tonight I made mango salsa.  The ingredients are what I happened to have on hand.  You can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Ingredients

1 large mango, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
1/2 can corn kernels, drained
Juice of 1 lime

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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I served the salsa with grilled chicken and brown rice.  The salsa was an interesting combination of sweet and hot which we like.  This may well be too hot for your liking so you could try finely chopped capsicum (bell peppers) instead or just a pinch of chilli powder.
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Something Different

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We usually eat salmon once every fortnight.  It is cooked the same way each time – GMan grills it on the barbecue.  I vary the accompaniments – sometimes it is kale salad or coleslaw and sweet potato fries, other times it is a a bed of sweet potato mash or wilted bok choy plus other vegetables on the side.

The other day I came across this link on Facebook.  So, I decided that I would try one for a change from our normal grilled salmon.

I made the Tomato Pesto Salmon and this is what it looked like once I had assembled it.

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Cooked, served and ready to eat.

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Even better, was the fact that the basil, tomatoes, zucchini and sweet potato were all from the garden.

I know that fresh salmon is not exactly a budget meal but with almost everything else home-grown it means that we can splash out a little on good quality meat and fish.

Dinner – Tuna Mornay

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Here is another dinner recipe and as a bonus, my version is gluten free.

I don’t remember tuna mornay being a meal we ate when I was a child but GMan certainly ate it when he was growing up.  So, I learned how to make it.  About 4 years ago I changed to a gluten free diet so tuna mornay was off the recipe plan.

After various experiments, I have managed to make a very satisfactory white sauce, therefore I can make tuna mornay as well as bechamel sauce for lasagne and cauliflower in cheese sauce.

Now, on to the recipe.

TUNA MORNAY

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 heaped tablespoons chickpea flour
2 heaped tablespoons potato flour
2 cups milk
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon herb salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 large tin tuna
1/2 tin corn kernels
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Here are my ingredients assembled and ready to begin.

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Method

Melt the butter over a low heat, add flour and stir until it combines to a stiff paste.

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Cook for about 1 minute, making sure it does not burn.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.

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The gluten free flours will not combine and thicken as nicely as regular wheat flour so my secret weapon is my hand-held stick blender.

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I use this to combine the milk and flour mixture and it quickly thickens as required.  Add seasonings and mustard to taste and then the drained tuna, drain corn kernels and peas.

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Break up any large pieces of tuna and stir the tuna and vegetables through the sauce.  Cook gently for a few minutes and finally add the grated cheese and stir through.  The mornay is ready to serve with rice and/or vegetables.

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There are many ways you can adapt this recipe.

I use powdered skim milk for cooking and make up 2 cups of milk before starting the cooking.

If you do not need it to be gluten free, simply use regular plain flour.

I choose to use a mixture of chickpea and potato flours as I find it gives the best result.  The potato flour can be a bit like glue and the chickpea flour has a nice savoury flavour which offsets this.

You can also use this mixture as the base of a pie and top it with mashed potato – like a shepherd’s pie.  Use as a filling for crepes or burritos for another variation.  You may wish to use a bit less milk in order to create a stiffer mixture for these options.

Tinned salmon, leftover shredded chicken or a selection of vegetables could also be used.

I generally prefer to have more vegetables in my meal but this will not hurt you every now and then.  It is a great last minute option as all of the ingredients come from the pantry and refrigerator.

Dinner – BBQ Salmon

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Some of our meals are very inexpensive, particularly those based on eggs (from our own chickens) or vegetables and dried legumes.  At the other end of the scale, tonight’s meal might seem quite extravagant.

We had salmon which GMan cooked on the BBQ.  I buy the salmon from a large fish and chip shop in Caloundra and pay about $36/kg for it.  I buy 4 large pieces at a time and freeze them.  It works out at about $10 per piece, however, 1 piece is sufficient to serve the two of us.

Tonight I served it with sweet potato chips, cherry tomatoes and a creation which I call Waldorf coleslaw.  It is shredded cabbage, chopped apple and chopped walnuts tossed with some mayonnaise.

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The sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes are free from the garden.  I mean totally free – they cost nothing to plant – both came up self-sown in the compost and they receive no supplementary water or fertiliser.  If I allowed $2 for the coleslaw I would be being generous.  So, we end up with a meal that cost $6 per serve.  While that is relatively extravagant compared to many of the meals I make and possibly out of reach for someone on a really tight budget, I am very pleased with the quality and content of this meal.

Dinner – Risotto

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Tonight I want to share another dinner idea with you – risotto.

In no way could this be described as a recipe but more of a method.

Risotto is arborio rice cooked gently in a small amount of liquid.  Keep adding liquid and stirring regularly unto the desired tenderness of the rice is reached.

I use my large flat-bottomed wok to make risotto.

Quantities for 2 adults (sometime there is enough left for 1 lunch).

1/2 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon stock powder
3/4 cup arborio rice
Water

This will make the basic mixture to which you can add whatever you like.  I used asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Fry the onion in a little oil.  Add the rice and toss to coat thoroughly.  Add some water and the stock powder.  Simmer and stir until the water is almost absorbed and add a little more water.  Continue to do this until the rice is cooked and almost creamy.

I also added 2 teaspoons of powdered dried tomato with the water.  Finally, I stirred through some sun-dried tomatoes and fresh asparagus cut into pieces and cooked for 1 minute in the microwave.

Serve immediately with a little grated cheese if desired.

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Pumpkin and bacon, broccolini and capsicum (peppers) or sweet potato and caramelised onion are some other winning combinations.  You can experiment with different flavours but I would advise only using 2 or at the very most 3 ingredients or otherwise the flavours become overwhelmed.  The only thing I do not use in risotto is mushrooms – they turn the mix a fairly unappealing shade of grey!

 

 

Dinner – Braised Steak and Onions

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When I mentioned in a Facebook group that I was preparing some meals for later in the week this one caught some attention and I have been asked for the recipe.  Well, like many of my meals, recipe is a bit of a joke but I will do my best to explain my method.

2 large pieces of gravy beef in the slow cooker
1 onion, sliced spread on top of the meat
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
200ml water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Add all of the ingredients, cook on high for about 6 hours or until beef is tender and can be broken with a spoon.

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I then divided the meat and gravy into 2 containers as this will make 4 serves – 2 meals for GMan and I.  It is now in the freezer and will be added to the menu plan at a later date.

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I usually add a little more water when I am reheating to make the gravy a bit thinner.

Now I will share what I really did.

The onion was frozen onion rings that I had done from a large bag of onions I bought some time ago.  I used a handful which was roughly equivalent to one onion.  Worcestershire sauce was not measured – just a splash of homemade worcestershire sauce and the tomato sauce and 200ml of water was achieved by rinsing out various almost empty bottles of homemade tomato sauce.

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Finally,  I tossed in a tablespoon of powdered dried tomato which I made from some of our glut of cherry tomatoes but tomato paste would be equally as good.

I am sure this ‘recipe’ would horrify the purists but it tastes great and when served with mashed potatoes and some other vegetables of your choice makes a hearty meal.