Lamb Stew

Winter is well and truly here now folks. To add to that, it’s been pretty rainy and grim generally. One way to warm things up a bit is to tuck into a warm comforting meal such as my lamb stew!

I got inspired to create a stew after visiting Harris Farm supermarket for the first time ever and discovering their discounted meat and veggie shelves. Picked up a “soup mix”* for $2 which has just enough of everything to make a good base for usually a soup but I adapted a bit and made a stew instead. They also had some heavily discounted lamb about to reach its expiry date (passed the smell test when I cooked it, don’t worry).

Alas, I now had majority of the things I needed to make a warm bowl of delish. There is a little bit of prep in the beginning but this is very much a set and forget dish.

Lamb Stew (serves 3-4)

What you’re going to need

500 g diced lamb (shoulder cut)

2 small potatoes/1 large potato, chopped into medium sized pieces

1 large carrot, cut into 1cm thick pieces

1 stalk celery, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup chicken stock

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon oregano powder

cracked salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. In a large fry pan with a lid, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add in the lamb and onions to brown off.
  2. Once browned, reduce the heat to low and add all other ingredients.
  3. Stir well and then allow to simmer on a low heat for at least 2 hours.
  4. Serve with your choice of sides e.g. grains (rice, quinoa, couscous), greens (beans, broccolini) or on its own with some fresh bread.

IMG_6255

*Soup mix packs generally contains the following ingredients – potato, onion, celery, carrot, parsnip, suede, parsley. I opted to use the parsnip and suede for other dishes as their flavour can be quite overpowering in a dish if used in incorrect quantities.

Pan Fried Chicken in Tomato Sauce

All about comfort food at the moment. Even better if I can make something that tastes awesome with barely any washing up. I’ve made this with ingredients that most people would probably have at home (understanding at the moment, you could have quite an assortment of things based on availability in the shops). Alright it’s a Monday night, long day at work, enough rambling. Straight into the recipe!

Pan Fried Chicken in Tomato Sauce (2 portions)

What you’re going to need

1 chicken breast, chopped into small even pieces

1 medium potato, chopped into small even pieces

1/3 cup kalamata olives

1 tin crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 clove garlic, sliced into large pieces

1 teaspoon sweet paprika (to taste)

1 teaspoon onion powder (to taste)

1/2 tablespoon dried basil (use fresh basil if you have it)

cracked salt and pepper

olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Place the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Whilst the potatoes are coming to the boil, heat up some olive oil in a large fry pan. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and lightly brown it. Once it has changed colour, take out of the pan and set aside.
  3. Back to the fry pan, turn down the heat and add the tin tomato, tomato paste, garlic and spices. Stir until well combined.
  4. Add the chicken back in and olives. By this point the potatoes should be boiling or close to it. Once they have reached boiling point, strain them and then add them to the tomato sauce. Let the tomato sauce simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes.
  5. Serve hot. You could have this with rice, couscous or veg.

IMG_6083

 

 

 

Lamb and Feta Meatballs

It’s been a hot minute since I last wrote and the world has changed. Alas, all this time at home is helping bring back my creative flair. I’ve recently moved house and being home-bound for the foreseeable future, I have plenty of opportunities to cook new dishes.

I had the cravings for meatballs and I picked up some lamb mince during my last grocery shop (let’s be honest, grocery shopping at the moment is a bit of a lottery). These are easy as to make, basically just chuck everything in a bowl then cook ’em up!

Lamb and Feta Meatballs (makes 11-12)

What you’re going to need

500g lamb mince

1 egg

1 slice bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces (less than 1cm squares)

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/3 cup tasty cheese, grated

30g feta

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1-2 tablespoons milk

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for cooking

Method

  1. In a small bowl, place the bread and milk to soak.
  2. Whilst the bread is soaking, add the mince, egg, parsley, grated cheese, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl.  Once all the milk is absorbed/the bread is soaked, add the bread to the remaining mixture.
  3. Mix the bowl contents with your hands (I find this is the best way to mix everything and break up the mince properly. I usually wear disposable gloves for ease of cleaning my hands afterwards)
  4. Once mixed, take a portion of the mince mixture in your hands to roll into a ball shape. Press your thumb into the top to make a hole and place the feta inside. Cover the hole with mince from the other side of the ball. Repeat step until all the mince mixture and feta are gone. Mixture yields approximately 11-12 meatballs.
  5. In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil to a medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook through (~15 minutes depending on size).
  6. Serve hot with your choice of condiments. I chose to have them with hummus and salad for a light dinner.

Poached Chicken Salad with Lemon Herb Dressing

We’re into Week 2 of lighter lunches. So far, so good. Getting enough flavour in there to keep me entertained.

I’ve always been a big fan of poached chicken. I tried it for the first time a few years ago at work funnily enough (yes, sometimes office catering is decent) and I really liked it! As someone who always quadruple checks that my chicken is cooked properly, i feel this is a pretty foolproof way to cook it properly and have it taste good. I do use breast meat but it still stays incredibly juicy even if you feel like you may have poached it for too long.

I have used similar ingredients to my other salad (sweet potato was $2.50 per kg on the weekend!) and I am obsessed with the Coles brand Marinated Danish Feta so that made a comeback.

Alright, let’s get stuck in.

Poached Chicken Salad with Lemon Herb Dressing (makes 3 lunches)

What you’re going to need

Salad

2 chicken breasts

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup quinoa

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into small, even pieces

generous handful baby spinach

30g feta

Dressing (rough estimates, adjust to taste)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano, sage and parsley)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, place the chicken stock and breasts on a medium heat to poach. (Note: Cooking time will vary but if you are using fresh not frozen chicken, it will take at least 30 minutes. Ensure you have enough liquid to cover the chicken. Add tap water to adjust.)
  2. Whilst the chicken is cooking, roast the sweet potato in the oven with olive oil and salt to season. Cook until you can stick a fork through and it comes out easily.
  3. While your chicken and sweet potato are cooking, prepare the dressing. In a jug, add all of the dressing ingredients to taste. Whisk well and store in a jar/reusable container.
  4. After the chicken has finished poaching, remove from the saucepan and set onto a chopping board. Keep the liquid as this can be used to cook the quinoa.
  5. Cook quinoa as per packet instructions. (Note: I personally find quinoa pretty bland and tedious to cook. However, I have found cooking smaller quantities in the microwave works wonders. Added bonus, use the chicken stock to add more flavour.)
  6. Once everything is cooked and cooled slightly, you can start to assemble. Slice the chicken into even pieces. Place into a large bowl.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix well. If serving straight away, add as much dressing as desired. If storing for later, add dressing each time you serve it to avoid the dressing sitting at the bottom of your salad.

 

Pasta Salad with Greens

It has been way too long since my last post. Life got busy but I am so glad to be back.

I’ve had a bit of a change with my meal prepping routine for work lunches. Have shifted from fully loading my freezer to prepping fresh food for at least 3 meals of the week and then I can delve into my freezer stash.

I’m a big believer that a salad should always have carbs (don’t @ me). These can be any carbs you want, whatever makes you feel happy. I chose pasta this week but mixed it in with plenty of other tasty stuff.

I absolutely loved this salad and I hope you do too.

Pasta Salad with Greens (makes 3 lunches)

What you’re going to need

3 cups pasta

generous handful baby spinach

100 g green beans, chopped into smaller pieces

3 slices prosciutto, chopped into smaller pieces

handful kalamata olives

20 g feta (or as much as you like…you do you)

juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

cracked pepper

Method

  1. Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
  2. Whilst pasta is cooking, cook the prosciutto and beans in a fry pan with a small amount of olive oil. Remove pan from the heat once cooked.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, place the pasta in the pan with the prosciutto and beans. Add in the spinach and olives and stir well.
  4. Add in the lemon, olive oil and cracked pepper to taste. Top with feta.

IMG_5543

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

‘Tis the season to get sick unfortunately. We’re fast approaching winter, it’s getting chilly in the mornings but at least it’s still warm during the day. I’m a big soup fan but they can be quite time consuming to make in order to get the depth of flavour you want. However when you’re sick, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking up a storm for hours just to get that perfect broth.

Alas, I have a possible solution. A lot of the time, simple is best. And for me when I can barely breathe through my nose and I’m coughing up a lung, all I want is a nice flavoursome broth and some carbs. So think – broth and noodles. To make this a bit more substantial, I added in some chicken. Sounds like it’d take hours right? Wrong! I made this delicious soup in 30 minutes. Here’s how you can too.

Chicken Noodle Soup (serves 1)

What you’re going to need

2 cups chicken stock (I used 1 Chicken Stock Pot )

1 cup water

1 small onion (skin on), roughly chopped

1 clove garlic (skin on), roughly chopped

1 small carrot (skin on), roughly chopped

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 portion dried noodles (I used Chang’s Long Life Noodles but you can use any instant noodles)

a handful shredded BBQ chicken

olive oil

Method

  1. In a medium non stick saucepan on a medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic and carrot. Fry until onions and garlic begin to soften and brown.
  2. Once mixture in the saucepan is fragrant, add the chicken stock, water and peppercorns and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. During the last 5 minutes of simmering, cook your noodles as per packet instructions (ideally have noodles that cook in a bowl of boiling water so you can set and forget)
  4. Remove the broth from the stove top and strain your liquid into a heatproof jug.
  5. Add the strained liquid back into the saucepan on a low heat. Add in the noodles and chicken and stir well. Keep on the heat for 2 minutes and then serve immediately.

Chicken Noodle Soup

 

Lamb ragu with fettucine

I am very much a Summer baby but I am enjoying the fact that it has started to cool down so I can start doing my low and slow dishes! Last time I tried doing a ragu it unfortunately didn’t turn out very well so I was put off a while… (a year or so) but I appeared to have redeemed myself with this one because the meat was succulent, pulled straight off the bone and the sauce was rich as.

I find that with a lot of good tomato based sauces you have a few staple ingredients and it’s just about alternating the ratios to switch over the dominant flavour. This time, I really wanted the tomato flavours to sing through and so you will see based on the measurements below that that is the result you will yield if you follow my recipe.

I chose to serve this dish with pasta but you could easily serve it with mash, roasted veggies or even on a burger.

Lamb ragu with fettucine (serves 6-8)

What you’re going to need

Roasting the lamb

2kg lamb shoulder (bone in)

2 cloves garlic, roughly sliced

5 sprigs rosemary

5 sprigs thyme

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

1 cup chicken stock*

1/2 cup red wine

cracked salt and pepper to season

olive oil

The sauce

2 rashers of middle bacon with fat on, sliced into small pieces

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 carrot, finely grated

500ml Passata

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup chicken stock*

handful fresh basil, roughly chopped

cracked salt and pepper to season

olive oil for frying

For serving

500g fettucine, cooked per packet instructions (I used Barilla’s Collezione range for this recipe found here)

*I used chicken stock in this instance as it was all we had at home at the time. If you have a preference to beef, lamb or vegetable stock feel free to switch it out. 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. In a large baking tray that can hold liquid, place the lamb shoulder inside, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and the herbs. Place the stock and wine in the tray around the meat. Throw the garlic and onion into the liquid. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the outside has browned.
  2. After 45 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and cover with foil (caution, tray will be very hot!). Return the tray into the oven and reduce the temperature to 120-130 degrees Celcius and cook for at least 5 hours. (if you have time to cook it longer, do so!)
  3. Once the meat has cooked in the oven for at least 5 hours, remove the tray from the oven and transfer the meat to a clean chopping board so you can begin shredding. Using two forks, begin to shred the meat (removing any excess fat) until you have collected as much of the tender meat as you can. Set aside.
  4. In a large fry pan or casserole dish, heat up some olive oil on a medium heat. Add in the bacon, garlic and carrot and fry off until fragrant and bacon has changed colour. Add the passata and shredded meat and stir well.
  5. Once the passata and shredded meat are bubbling, reduce the heat and add the wine and stock. Mix until well combined and leave on a low simmer for at least 30 minutes. (The ragu will be quite thick already so this is more about building extra flavour into the meat)
  6. With 5-6 minutes to go, cook the fettucine and add in the fresh basil into the ragu. Serve immediately to ensure best results.

 

 

Spinach, Rocket and Basil Pesto

Went a bit crazy on the weekend and cooked an entire packet of pasta for meal prep. I ended up splitting the mix into six generous sized portions. For quick and easy pasta dishes, I like doing an oil base with cherry tomatoes, basil, feta/bocconcini, olives etc. Unfortunately those items don’t freeze very well alas, pesto made an appearance once again in my kitchen.

Unfortunately due to the seasonality of basil plants, the one in our garden was looking a bit sad. There was enough on there to give me the basil flavour I was after but had to pump up the mix with something else. I had recently bought a mixed bag of baby spinach and rocket and completely forgot about it in the fridge. It had just enough life left that I could still freeze it and use it later. Figured it was a good way to get more veg into my dish so went with that.

I love the versatility of pesto. I have used it in a pasta dish but you can also use it for salad dressings, steak toppers or even on toast.

Spinach, Rocket and Basil Pesto

What you’re going to need

100g baby spinach and rocket mix

generous handful basil leaves

6 walnuts

20g grated cheese

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – adjust if necessary

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. In a pulse blender, add all ingredients.
  2. Blend until mix is well combined and at a desired consistency (I like mine a bit chunky)
  3. That’s it! Use immediately or freeze in portion sizes to use later on.

file-17

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad

It’s probably too late to be saying “Happy New Year” since it’s past the Australia Day long weekend but will say it anyway. Happy New Year! Hope you are all feeling refreshed and ready to give your best in 2019. As January seems to be a time when people decide to form a list of resolutions that they will keep for two weeks, I figured there was no better time than now to share a wonderful healthy recipe for you all.

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist but there is definitely a good balance of flavours and food groups here – protein, carbs and the good types of fat.

It is also good enough that you can eat it for lunch multiple days in a row! (where normally I strongly dislike doing this in order to avoid having FOMO when someone has a better lunch than me in the office)

The challenge I’ve had in the past with eating salad for lunch is the lack of feeling full afterwards. Turns out if you put enough grain and carby vegetables in, this issue is alleviated.

Alright, enough blabbing. For those who are feeling the whole “new year, new you” mentality or even the “new year, same you” mentality, this salad is for you.

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad (makes 3 lunches or 4 side dishes)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 medium sweet potato chopped into small, even pieces

3 baby beetroots (sold in a pack at the supermarket), roughly chopped

50g feta cheese, chopped into small cubes

handful walnuts, roughly chopped

6 basil leaves, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the sweet potato, 1 tablespoon of EVOO and salt. Bake until soft and slightly more golden in colour
  2. For the quinoa, I cooked it in the microwave as per the packet instructions. Simply rinse the quinoa in a strainer, then place in a heatproof bowl that fits in the microwave with 1 cup of water (1:2 quinoa water ratio). Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Stir and then pop it back in for 2 minutes. Leave to stand with the lid/plate still on until most of the water has absorbed. Strain remaining water and set aside.
  3. Once the quinoa had cooled down a bit and the sweet potato is ready, place these plus all the other ingredients into a bowl. Mix well until all flavours are combined. Add seasoning where appropriate. Note: if you’re storing this for work lunches, keep the beetroot separated so the colour doesn’t run through the whole salad. 
  4. Serve immediately at a warm temperature or eat cold later on.

quinoa sweet potato salad

 

 

 

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce

I just love the versatility of using a tomato based sauce. It works beautifully on its own as simple passata with seasoning or you can amp it up and throw a heap of veggies in, or pretty much any kind of meat and maybe even some cheese!

So the Sunday night ritual continues and the dilemma of how can I make an amped up sauce that suits one who doesn’t like cheese, one who won’t eat a non meat dish and the other who wants more than “just” bolognese.

I’ve over killed it with mince at the moment so decided not to use it and went with chorizo instead as the meat option. I love the flavour it gives the dish and it’s a bit more substantial than bacon or pancetta. I also used Barilla Napoletana Sauce as my tomato base and added in a heap of veg to make it an even more nutritious meal.

To make this a complete dish, I used Barilla Egg Tagliatelle as the base and to mix through the chunky sauce! I love the texture it has and it holds the sauce really well. It also cooks really quick (5 minutes in boiling water).

So if you’re salivating and to want to give this dish a go, keep on reading for the recipe!

Tagliatelle with Napoletana Sauce (serves 4-5)

What you’re going to need

250g pack Barilla Egg Tagliatelle

1 jar Barilla Napoletana Sauce

125 g chorizo, sliced evenly (1 sausage)

3 medium cup mushrooms, sliced thinly

generous handful baby spinach

1/3 medium zucchini, finely grated

1/3 medium carrot, finely grated

handful pitted kalamata olives

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Prepare a large saucepan with salted water and place on a low heat.
  2. In a large frypan, add the olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. Once hot, add the carrot and zucchini and fry for 2-3 minutes. Once softened, add the napoletana sauce. Before discarding the jar, half fill with water and shake with the lid on to get the extra sauce stuck to the sides of the jar. Add the water from the jar to the sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, add the sliced mushrooms and spinach and reduce to a low heat.
  4. In a small frypan, fry the chorizo until cooked. Drain on some paper towel and set aside.
  5. Once water is boiling, cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, add the chorizo and olives to the sauce. With 1 minute to go, add the basil.
  6. Serve immediately on warmed plates. (your choice if you want to mix the pasta through the sauce or serve the sauce on top)

Disclaimer: The Barilla Pasta and Napoletana Sauce were provided as a gift. I only support and endorse products that I have used or cooked with myself.