March 31, 2010

Prawn and couscous parcels

I have been meaning to make these ever since I read armchairchef (a.k.a Bryan's) version a month or so back. Bryan has such a great idea, I thought I would just play around a little and see what I could come up with. If truth be known, I read his blog and thought it a great idea,however, when I re read it tonight I must of mixed my own ideas with his and forgot he used basil pesto; for some reason I thought it was cilantro (coriander)!
I didn't have any pesto in the house, it was a massive day at work, I'd finally arrived home since leaving at 5.15 this morning so I was NOT entertaining the idea of 'popping to the shops!'.
 I was always going to use filo pastry instead of the healthier version of parchment paper but I needed to come up with a flavour filling. In the end I followed Bryans' lead, cooked my couscous, diced my veg and then decided the kids could try theirs with fresh basil leaves and I filled ours with fresh chili, cilantro leaves and lemon juice (this is what I thought I saw).

I love how impressive these look and I also love that I can make these in the morning and serve them for dinner without to much of a thought. Even after a really long day at work and sore feet I was in and out of the kitchen before I knew it.
Hey Bryan, your right, the aroma knocks you over when you pierce your knife inside and open it up. Nic, the kids and I all filled our nostrils with the delights ahead of us and we were not disappointed in the flavour. Max LOVED his with fresh basil but wants to try it again when we have pesto in the house. Nic and I thoroughly enjoyed the Mexican twist, but also look forward to a pesto infusion in the future.

Thank you Bryan for this great family meal, we all loved it (actually Alex hates prawns, which I forgot but he loved the filo, couscous and corn so happy days!), and I'll be making it again- no doubt putting a different spin on the fillings each time.

March 30, 2010

Crumbed silver beet with flathead

Silver beet is an interesting vegetable, I love it. I just feel the health oozing from me when I eat it. Nic thinks I'm silver beet crazy- "you want to put it in everything....." was his reply when he started making a bean and jalapeno stew the other night. I merely suggested its presence in the meal because it needed to be used up!
I bought the silver beet for our night of flat head. If you have never crumbed silver beet then you've been missing out. It is a wonderful way to eat the green leaf, and the 'look' of it gives even the more distrustful 4 year old a reason to at least try it.
It is very simple to make, you crumb it as you would crumb fish or chicken. I use fresh breadcrumbs for a crunchy texture and it absorbs the butter really well. Once it is pan fried, I pop it in the oven on a low temperature while I quickly cook the fish.
It is at this point when I have to admit I DIDN'T cook the meal, I left that in the capable hands of hubby Nic. After preparing the sliver beet I needed to deal with some work bits and pieces so he kindly took over. When dinner was ready it smelt wonderful as he made a delicious lemon and thyme sauce to drizzle over the fish. That matched with crisp pan fried silver beet and oven roasted potatoes..... it was a meal I couldn't help but get excited about.
Max couldn't get passed the green silver beet, but Alex was hooked once he took a bite (I think it was the added butter that made him a fan!). If you're up for an experiment give the sliver beet a try and serve it with fish, chicken or lots of other veggies. I am sure you'll be happily surprised.

March 28, 2010

Lamb chops with wasabi butter

Hiya all, do you like the new look? I thought it was time for a change....

I am still on the family of foodies meal planner but I decided I wouldn't bore you with every, single dish I cook. Instead I am blogging the ones that still linger on my taste buds. I think it is fair to say we ALL make great family meals so why rant and rave about yummy ones when I can show you super dooper yummy ones that will have you wanting it again and again.

On that note I have to mention the grilled lamb chops I made last week. Lamb chops are a pretty quick and easy family meal to prepare. This is one of the reasons why I love them; not to mention that they taste fantastic a-la-natural and the fact that they are about $10 cheaper than their mate the lamb cutlet, what more of a reason do you need to sink your teeth into a juicy chop? (vegos excused of course!)

Keeping this as simple as possible (we ate them on our 'no time for any fuss' night), I served them with mash potatoes- a favourite of Nic and mine, (however the hated, even detested version of potatoes Max could think of ??) and steamed green veggies. All pretty average and typical in a lot of households I am sure, BUT to make this into a flavour packed dinner I whipped up a very easy wasabi butter to dollop on top of our 'average' meal and it had us all licking our plates!
I know you may think of wasabi as the flavour that can rip nostril hairs from their ends or send you into a screaming mess when you add a little to much to your sushi. However if you dilute it with some butter, dijon mustard, herbs and soy sauce, what you are left with is a fantastic mellow, yet full bodied flavour to compliment everything from lamb chops to fish fillets.
 This is one of those occasions when you don't give butter a doubtful look because you have been told it is bad for you. Throw caution to the wind, drop a big tablespoon of it on your next lamb chop and enjoy it's sensational flavour, and if any of you are reading this in the States, Ireland or anywhere you can buy Kerrygold butter then for an extra flavour bonus mix some wasabi powder with their salted butter and be transported into heaven- I exaggerate not!

March 23, 2010

15minute dinner

Tuesday night's rush hour dinner. Firstly, I have to tell you I was suppose to pre-make basil pesto, however I have set a trend for this week and HAVEN'T prepped anything to make my life easier on the nights I really need it.
Tonight's meal was going to be pesto pasta with roast chicken.....
I went to the shops and bought a delicious pre-roasted chook on the way home from footy practice knowing I had to duck out 45 minutes later to go to pilates, (sadly late work commitments made sure this part didn't happen!). While I had the boys in the bath I decided to boil left over potatoes I had in the cupboard, while making pesto. Two out of three isn't bad; pulling a bunch of basil from the fridge I realised I only had half of it left--not enough to make pesto for four!
Thinking on my feet and remembering a great little pesto Vince my old head chef use to make, I improvised. I threw in two tomatoes, one clove of garlic, a small packet of pine nuts, all the basil I could pick from the dying twigs and push the processors 'on' button. Once everything was all chopped I slowly added extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and kept blending for a few more seconds. The smell was getting me excited, the potatoes we almost done, Nic walked in the door, and the boys splashed out of the bath to the chorus of "dinner ready yet?"
I wasn't so sure if it was really enough for an evening meal even if I did add olives and avocado, however I didn't hear any complaints until after Alex had eaten 90%of his dinner and informed me that he didn't really like the pesto thingy, but the olives and potato were good.
 I am going to make this pesto again for sure, it was so easy, quick and really tasty. It would go well on pasta, fish, potatoes and anything else you could think of. A healthy 15 minute dinner for a busy family; I would definitely recommend this over take out any day.

March 22, 2010

Fish kebabs with polenta chips

I don't know if you remember, but last week I was suppose to serve fish kebabs with my lemon and pea risotto, however I kinda forgot to buy the polenta!
This week I was on top of the shopping and decided to pair the kebabs with chips. Usually I would never have served these two together, seeing as they are both long, and, well long. It doesn't seem right to serve kebobs with chips, but, I got over my hangup and began cooking the polenta so I could get on with it.
Polenta doesn't really take that long to cool so I was able to start from scratch, BUT, if I was a more organised person (when I wrote this recipe I was hoping I'd become this way), I would of made the polenta base the day before and had it ready, then all I should of done was cut and shallow fry. Alas, that didn't happen and yet I managed to get all the preparation ready for when Nic came home and pulled it all together.

It was late in the evening, kids were tired, hungry and I had lots of paper work to catch up on, so Nic came to the rescue. Once the polenta chips were cut, he threaded the fish on sticks, sprinkled with thyme and then whipped up a tomato and basil salsa drizzled in balsamic oil. I always think if you are making dinner and you know one part takes a little time (chips) then do yourself a favour and make the rest really easy.
So, as the last batch of polenta chips hit the oil, Nic cooked the kebabs while Alex set the table.

Such a simple yet novel idea threading fish onto a stick! The thyme really gave the fish (he used ling) a beautiful aroma, especially when char grilled and then biting into hot, crunchy, yet soft polenta was so, so good- especially if you managed to fit a dob of salsa on your fork.

March 19, 2010

Honey chicken and soba noodle salad

Thursday night of week 4 and we are having a very quick, easy, and tasty family meal to prepare.
Usually I'd blanch the snow peas once thinly sliced, BUT, Alex decided to perch himself upon my kitchen bench and 'have a chat', whilst chatting he started nibbling. First it was with something he knew, something he trusted (cherry tomatoes). After building confidence, he asked what the green stuff was 'Are they peas mum?'
'Yep', I said, he then began popping the peas out of the shell. I then explained that you can eat the whole thing, he gave it a try--he liked it but preferred the 'pea'. Thus began my new stance on snow peas; leave them as is, don't touch, blanch or stir-fry, just slice raw and serve.

You can BBQ the chicken thighs or pan fry. When marinated in honey, garlic, soy, and sesame oil, you have a beautiful blend of flavours that compliment the soba noodles, which are drizzled with sweet soy to give them that hint of sweetness.

Seriously, when you have great ingredients you really don't have to exert to much pressure. And with compliments from the family like 'this is really good mum' or 'yumm, what did you do with the chicken?..' you kinda start thinking...simplicity is best when dealing with family meals. It doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen, but if you put a little love and thought into your family meals, you really do reap the rewards.

After all I am on week four of my recipe books meals and not once have I had a real complaint over 'what is for dinner tonight?'. The boys have enjoyed the journey of the past month as much as Nic and I have, and we have all looked forward to our next family meal whether it be fish sticks with risotto, chicken curry or fish and chips. As long as we are all eating it together for that special 20-30 minutes, all is well in the Baker house and what more could I ask for?

March 18, 2010

Whole fish

So far this week, we have dined on pork chops with mango, beef satays and peanut sauce and tonight's dinner was right up there with the best of them when it comes to flavour. However, serving a 4 and 8 year old from a whole fish isn't as easy as it really should be. Firstly you get the 'cool, its eyes look like they are going to burst' to 'open the mouth mum, open the mouth!!' and then reality sets in and they ask what are they having for dinner (like I have meal option number two just bubbling away in the oven, as all good mummys do....and if you are one of those mums then I have nothing to say to you!).

I have filleted my share of whole fish, in fact I think I have filleted more than my fair share thanks to many a customer at Campagnola who would order the WHOLE fish then scream or whimper when it came to the table with the head and tail still attached (shock, horror!). I can fillet a stranger's fish in seconds and have it back out to the table in no time at all but when I was taking the fillets from the boys fish all I could see was bones, bones, bones-- did I get them all out?, will I have to give one of them the upside down shake? To say I panicked a little would be fair. This, of course, did not stop me from serving them their meal but I must confess I did watch them closely, that was until Alex informed me that he '...actually doesn't like this fish, just the ones I can hold and eat, they are real fish'.
After telling Alex I was 100% certain that this beautiful red snapper was a real fish, he then informed me '....well I like the ones with the crunchy bits'- 'oh really' was my only thought.
With that said he decided to admit to liking tomatoes and proceeded to eat all this tomatoes (that had me in a moment of shock), devour his baked potato and leave 98% of his fish. I was sad he didn't like it but not entirely shocked, after all it has taken a lot of grown ups years to master a whole fish, so I decided to let this one go and try again in a few months. Max on the other hand inhaled and the entire meal disappeared, but how can I take that for a compliment, the way he eats right now, I don't think the food even touches the sides!

March 17, 2010

Beef satay with peanut sauce and greens

I think I have blogged this one before....I would of had to, seeing as it is one of my all time favourite satays. Living up in Darwin when I was a kid, I was blessed with mum working at the school fetes with a group of  Malay, Indonesian, Mongolian (and the list goes on.....) mums who used to make the most delicious food and one of the biggest sellers was the beef satay cooked in butter. I know, butter! Who would of thought it?
 But when you marinate the beef in a light curry, garlic and soy sauce then pan sear it in butter, the flavour really bowls you over, and I haven't even mentioned the peanut sauce!
Noises of yummm, oohhh, mmm are about the only ones I hear when these little beauties are served for dinner. The green steamed veg don't even get a groan when the boys smell the satays being cooked. Yep, an all time favourite for the whole family--sometimes Alex thinks the curry is a little to much for him but  he now knows just to add extra peanut sauce and then all is well. I purposely make a mild sauce so Alex can enjoy the sweet, nutty flavour which mellows out the curry flavour, when he gets a little older I'll up the ante but for now this is great as is.
Nine times out of ten I'd say a picture says a 1000 words but in this case the flavour explosion wins hands down........I'm loving week4!

March 16, 2010

Pork chops with mango salad and baked sweet potato

When I was going over our meal selection for this week, I was hoping Monday would be a warm day so I could compliment this yummy combo with a splash of semillon blanc and I was not disappointed. This is a great family meal because while you pop your sweet potato into a very hot oven and forget about it for 40 minutes, you can whip up your salad and then start cooking the chops all in the time it takes for your potato to be ready, OR you can be like me and cook the sweet potato the night before while you have the oven on for another reason completely.
I find the best way to cook sweet potato is to just leave it be. I rub a little oil on the skin to get the temperature rocking but then leave it to it's own devices. The end result- a caramelised spud still wrapped in it's skin and ready to be eaten. When left to cool like this, it is the easiest way to peel, it will last an extra few days in the fridge and can go straight into any salad without wilting the leaves and full of flavour.

Mangos are in full glory here at the moment, so picking up a juicy one for the salad is like buying an apple. For something a little different, I grab my peeler and peel off layers of cucumber, just like ribbons. It makes the salad look a little more exciting and the kids love to see a salad looking like spaghetti....anything to get Alex eating salads really.
Well that is about it, the sweetness of the potato and mango are complimented with the lime juice I use in the dressing and the lovely garlic and rosemary flavour I rubbed all over the chops tie it all together, creating an interesting meal with a common cut of meat.

March 15, 2010

Two yummy dinners unblogged

I promised myself I would start week 4 of my family meals on time and on target. I got myself to the computer on Monday afternoon of week 4 and realised I haven't given my beef and coriander bake from Thursday night and the grilled fish with lemon and pea risotto from Friday, a mention at all!

With that said I am going to start week 4 tomorrow (surprise, surprise!). I am actually going to print my original beef and cilantro recipe (hoping) people who can easily acquire New Mexican chilies will make this dish because I remember it tasting, so  so delicious when it was made with all the original ingredients. Don't get me wrong, it was very yummy not to mention easy when I made it without the chilies, but I kept on wanting that delicious smoky flavour you get when you cook with the New Mexican chillies.

Friday nights Grilled fish and risotto wasn't exactly 100% 'sticking to the schedule'. Fish was on the menu but instead of risotto it was meant to be with polenta chips. The old story of 'I looked in the cupboards and they were bare....' was the case when I went in search of polenta (kinda forgot to buy it!). So being a quick thinker I swapped week fives -fish kebobs with pea and lemon risotto with week fours -grilled fish and polenta chips... no worries.
I didn't make the kebobs, I was in the mood for grilling so we'll do the kebabs with the polenta and really confuse ourselves.
End result was......
a) really yummy
b) really easy and great for a Friday night.
 We could pop open a bottle of wine,(stir the risotto) have a chat about the day (stir the risotto) and slowly bring the meal together while the boys played with lego and kept themselves amused.
 I love Fridays!
So there you have it, the week started with a detox and ended with two really yummy family meals that got everyone in the family excited. The boys even made the comment that 'dinners are yummier lately..' ..'but why don't we have mac and cheese anymore?' (that is what the weekends are for when mum and dad get to have date night!).

Beef and Salsa Bake with Cilantro
This meal is short on preparation time though needs the hours to cook. I advise you to make the main meal ahead of time on the weekend or during the day if time permits. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze until needed- then it really is a 20 minute meal when time matters. The chilies used have no heat, only flavor so they are perfect for your toddlers pallet.

 Soak chilies 
Make salsa
 Make beef
Boil potatoes 
Make salad

2 New Mexico Chilies 
1 garlic clove
1/2tsp salt
1c fresh tomatoes, diced 
1Tbsp lime juice
1.Heat a small fry pan on HIGH heat for 1 minute. Add chilies and turn to color for about 2-3 minutes. Once skin is dark and ‘puffed’ remove. Place in a small container and pour boiling water over chilies- soak for at least 30 minutes. You will need to put a weight on the chilies to stop from floating.
2. Once soft, remove from water, discard seeds and stem then place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse for 40 seconds, until well combined.
3. Leave to one side until needed

1Tbsp olive oil 
1.5lb sirloin tip steak, 11/2” cubes
 1tsp salt and pinch pepper
 2Tbsp tomato paste
 3 shallots, sliced
 2 carrots, halved lengthways, sliced 1/4-inch pieces 
2 celery sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
1c green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces, top and tailed 
2c chicken stock
 1c salsa
 1/2c cilantro leaves
 1 avocado, peeled

1.Preheat oven to 450. In a 3QT lasagna dish place- oil, steak cubes, shallots, salt, pepper and tomato paste, mix to coat steak cubes. Place in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered to brown.
2.Remove from the oven and add remaining vegetables and stock. Mix to combine making sure the meat is just covered with liquid. Reduce oven temperature to 350, cover and bake for a further 50 minutes. 3.Remove from the oven. Add salsa, stir to combine, recover and place back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.
4. Just before serving add cilantro. Serve with sliced avocado on the side or mixed in with beef.

1lb new potatoes
1tsp salt
Place potatoes in a saucepan and fill to cover with COLD water. Add salt and put on to boil-uncovered. Once boiling let them coo for 5 minutes, remove from the heat, strain and serve.

Cucumber salad
 1 lg cucumber, peeled and seeded
 2Tbsp lime juice 
1/4tsp salt 
1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients into a serving bowl, toss to combine well and serve with beef and potatoes

March 11, 2010

Last day of detox

Day three is DONE! I did it, and I didn't slip, slide away on that slippery slope of giving in at the last moment which I use to do in my younger years (I guess I didn't really have much self control in my 20's and that is probably why this is my first real detox, cleans EVER).

I mentioned in my last post that I was to give a cooking class on my last night of detox and I have to say it was a struggle to stay on track when some of my all time favourite smells keep wafting up my nose--garlic, coriander (cilantro); beef searing with onions (has to one of my all time faves) and not to mention the absolute delight on my students faces as they are digging into their feast of fajitas with tomato salsa, freshly made guacamole, soft beans with melted cheese and corn tortillas. I sat there talking a mile a minute and sipping my water when my mind started to linger on the steaming food in front of me. I have made a note to myself NEVER to book a class when on detox it just makes it all the more difficult!

As I sit back and reflect on the past three days, I think it has made me more aware of my body and what I put in it or in my case, don't put in it. Drinking 6 large juices a day is quite a feat and makes you very aware that you really can survive on very little. When I finally started consciously drinking water I noticed I wasn't as tired and had more energy. The fact that I wasn't only just downing fruit and vegetables also made the cleans that more enjoyable. I have a new found love for almond milk and have made a mental note to see other ways I can use it in cooking.
If there was one thing I would say I missed most in the last three days it would be chewing food. I love to chew!
 I think the detox was worthwhile and I might even do it again.....maybe after Christmas when I know I have had way to many bottles of plonk and more than just my liver will be needing a break.

 So, today is my first day back in the land of chewing and I feel a little lighter, more alert and ready for a good meal, therefor I am ignoring Schkinny Maninny's advice on just having fruit and vegetables and 'try to leave it as long as possible before eating red meat...' because I have a delicious beef and coriander bake on the dinner programme tonight and I am not missing it for quids!

March 10, 2010

Zucchini, lemon & basil pasta for them; detox day 2 for me

To be truthful, I woke up on day 2 of detox a bit foggy, and I'm not sure if it's from the recent stints of 5.30am wake up calls for work or if this is a side effect from the purifying process--maybe it is coffee separation anxiety? Whatever it is, I bee-lined for my green leap frog juice, just after I did my first delivery of breakfast to the city.

I was reading the info they give you regarding the detox and it bought up all the symptoms you could be feeling--I was feeling none of them, was I abnormal? I put it down to just to busy to notice...that was until about 1pm and then the slight headache kicked in and the 'woopsy' feeling kept dropping in and out.
"DO drink 2 litres of water" it said. Hmmm when was the last time I drank water? I think that was yesterday, I even got a loofah to remove dead skin and rejuvenate the body, salts to soak in, tea to drink as a pick-me-up and do you think I have done any of it?
Ohh to have 5 minutes in the day for ME!
 Ok so I haven't loofahed, no salt soaking or taking quiet strolls by myself (like they tell me to) but I HAVE started drinking the water!!
I AM still enjoying the juices, not really missing food, have noticed I smell everything from the dirty oil in the takeaway shop fryer two blocks away to the sweet smell of chocolate up to a kilometre away but that is OK, I am doing just fine while out and about. The hardest part is when the family sits down to eat but so far I have managed to miss another family dinner. While I left Nic to make delicious zucchini and lemon pasta, I headed off to pilates to work out my days stress and bad energy (that is what my very calm and low stress yoga/pilates teacher told me anyway).

I do love this pasta. I grate the zucchini as my kids really dislike the vegetable--what is there to dislike I ask? I think it has something to do with the colour green??? Anyway when you grate it and slowly cook it down with some butter and garlic, it turns into the yummiest sauce; especially if you add a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a slurp of pasta water (you need the starch from the water to help thicken your sauce), further simmer and then add a handful of basil leaves when adding the drained pasta. With lashings of finely grated parmesan cheese on top the kids eat it up in do I when I get the chance.

So with Day 2 at an end I only have one more day to go before I am cleansed and ready for another year of debauchery. I am happy to say I can do it. I WILL remember to drink water before my head feels like it is going to fall off and I will also try to avoid yet another supper, although that is going to be tricky in the final hours of my last day seeing as I am teaching a class on fajitas!!! It is going to take all of my determination for this one.....missing dumplings and pasta will be a walk in the park compared to fajitas.

March 9, 2010

Day one of detox & chicken and veggie dumplings

Well, not the best start to my new day of detox, health, and wellbeing but it was the start I had, so there you go!
Instead of waking up to my juice being on my front doorstep I told Schkinny Maninny to leave it at work so I could have it first thing as I am usually there around 6.30am. All well and good for MOST days but I had a last minute order to deliver early into the city and I had to leave from home so I didn't end up getting my first juice until 8.45am and by then I  was well and truly ready for it.
First juice out of the esky (cooler) was the Schkinny Leap Frog- bright green and everything you would think a 'detox' drink should look like. First taste- AWESOME, it was cold, light, sweet and extremely refreshing with kiwi fruit, spinach, parsley and a few other bits to get me going.
 My mid morning bottle (I was wondering if I had enough time in the day for this one as I was so late with my first!) was Pine Grapple, a light, refreshing burst of mint, pineapple and  a few other bits and pieces, which tied me over until 1.30pm when lunch was calling.
I got to turn it up a bit and heated the spicy tomato and lentil juice (soup) which actually felt like a real treat.

Verdict so far....I was really impressed. I didn't feel hungry, if anything I felt full as it is more than I usually eat when I'm at work (which is NOT good, I know, I know). After lunch I still had three more juices to get through and I have to say by the time I got around to my nutty almond milk and brazil nut concoction I was well and truly full! Something I really wasn't expecting to feel.
Because I was by myself most of the day it was pretty easy not to think about food but I must say when I was whipping up the chicken and vegetable dumplings for the family I did want to sneak one- alas, I was strong and busy, too busy in fact to sit down with the family for dinner and I think that was a blessing in disguise as I didn't have to watch everyone chew!

Verdict on the dumplings and rice.......delicious, the boys ate it all up, Alex even managed yoghurt after dinner which isn't very common these days, while Max insisted he ate at least 7 dumplings!
Feeling full and ready for bed was not a combination I was expecting which made me wonder if I was detoxing properly- I was sure I was meant to be starving or maybe that starts tomorrow?

March 6, 2010

Fish & chips, pizza and a detox anyone?

I ended this weeks meals with a home run and it was not entirely planned. Writing a menu plan from a list of recipes covering two months is a lot of meals and I think I must of got a bit excited in the beginning because somehow I put fish and chips back to back with homemade pizza. To say I was looked at tenderly by my 4 & 7 year old is putting it mildly!
Alex may not be a big meat eater but he makes up for it with fish, and since Max was knee high to a grasshopper he has made it very clear pizza is his (or in the top ten) number one food. For take away meals I must admit that fish and chips is my favourite, while homemade pizza is a close second-- a great 'taking it easy' dinner, perfect for  Friday night if you ask me!
Don't worry, I get serious again next week with dumplings, beef and cilantro bake and grilled fish just to name a few.
 I have also decided to do something I never thought I'd do.......I'm going on a three day detox (just writing it is making me feel weak).
Since moving to North Sydney I have met a great lady who has started her own business and her business is all about body cleansing. I see her day in and day out juicing all her raw fruit and vegetables, pouring them into  bottles and packing them off to her clients. Of course at first I thought good for her, and then when I dug a bit deeper a few months later I was curious as to how I would feel if I packed my body with nothing but raw fruit and vegetables, nuts legumes and water.....could I do it?

So starting Monday I am detoxing for the next three days while still sticking to my menu planner for the rest of the family (nothing like testing my self control!). I never thought I EVER go down this road believing I do eat a healthy diet but I'm telling you, if you saw Schkinny Manninny, you'd want to give it a go as she is the epitome of health and I want to have me some of that!

March 5, 2010

Steak tagliata

When I started planning our weekly dinners this week I knew I had to come up with something meaty after asking the boys to eat vegetable burgers the night before. You see I am not as mean as my kids would like to believe.
I knew Max would be right on  my heels Wednesday night when the dinner hour came around. I think it was just after I picked him up from school that I got my first cross examination regarding dinner.
'Wait and see' I said with a smirk on my face. (I know I shouldn't play with his emotions but wheres the fun in giving in so easily?).
Steak tagliata is one of my all time favourite ways to eat steak. When we were lucky enough to dine out while living in Florence a few years back, (thanks to family and friends coming to visit and offering to babysit two little boys, who we later found out cried for hours after we left the house; however, no one told us this until a year or two later!) I would order this nine times out of ten. Simple presentation, basic ingredients combined with excellent produce equals awesome meal in my books.
Steak tagliata is steak (doesn't really matter what cut, however, in Florence you'd usually get rib eye) cooked on a BBQ, rested then sliced into thin strips and served with a beautiful rocket and parmesan salad on top of your sliced meat. Like I said, a very simple meal but truly delicious!

Because I was cooking for the family I needed to add a few vegetables so I roasted off some pumpkin, beans and potatoes to serve with the steak and salad. I bought some lovely pieces of new york strip steak from our butcher and proceeded to make dinner in less time it took the boys to tidy their room and set the table (I don't know about you but room tidying in this house is painful for all involved!).

Needless to say we all licked our plates clean! Nic and I ended up eating all the pumpkin as I didn't want any more dramas with vegetables this week, and the boys polished off the roasted green beans and even asked for seconds.
Serving pre sliced steak to Alex is the best way for him to eat meat, he doesn't have to chew for hours on end and will even eat a bit of the salad because it has nothing but parmesan cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette served with it. I will always come back to this meal as it brings back memories of our brief time in Italy, pretending we really did fit in with the locals.

March 4, 2010

Tuesday night Veggie burgers

I love veggie burgers, and my husband enjoys a good veggie burger but when I was asked what Tuesday nights meal was from Max (a very hungry almost 8 year old) I was greeted with "Wahhh mum, you know I'm a meat eater.....I NEED it to survive!"
After explaining that is good for the body to have other sources of protein in the diet, he looks at me like I have gone completely mad and comes out with "What are you trying to do to me? just PLEASEEEEE make beef burgers".
I stuck to my guns and promised he would love them--just wait and see (with that you know all I got was an eye roll and the longest face you've ever seen!).
I wasn't sure how I was going to proceed as my original recipe didn't really excite me anymore (I was in a peanut butter phase at the time). I had just finished a big day at work and needed to rush off to pilates within the hour but needed to get dinner on the go before I left. I have to confess I almost abandoned the burgers but then Nic asked earlier in the day if we could have the potato and lentil ones I made for a function last week as they smelt fantastic....
Great idea but I wasn't quite sure what I did? I know I pre cooked potatoes, peeled them and then re cooked them with oil infused with spices.
In the beginning it sounded like too much work (seriously, I was really tired) but decided while the pots were cooking the first time I'd get everything else ready so when I refried them with spices all I needed to do was throw it all together in the end.
Another way of saving time was to grate my veg (carrot, zucchini), shred a corn husk and add frozen peas (no effort at all!). By the time potatoes were ready and I had mushed them up a bit, heated the olive oil, added spices and onion I was ready to go with everything else. I placed all the raw veg in a big bowl, added my hot potato mix followed with a cup of drained lentils (from a tin), added an egg then mixed it all together.
The smell was wonderful and I was starting to get excited that it might actually work! Just before rushing out the door I crumbed the burgers so they would have a lovely crunchy coating of bread crumbs (always have some in the freezer) and also hoping this would entice the boys into thinking they were good enough to eat.
 Nic got home just as I needed to leave; something that happens way to often in our house lately so I yelled out directions on cooking and serving burgers while trying to find my yoga mat. With that done I left him to feed our hungry boys.
When I got home I was starving and looking forward to MY burger.
"How did the veggie burgers go down?" I asked
"Well Max ate all his, salad as well but made sure he told me it was ONLY because he was so hungry and we better be having meat tomorrow night". Alex ate half, decided that was enough and agreed with Max that it really isn't a burger if it doesn't have meat! (a classic really seeing as he doesn't even enjoy meat that much).
Ok so I didn't serve them in buns but I think they are still classified as a burger, it tasted delicious and to my surprise I did manage to make them in under an hour from scratch and that included crumbing them so I am going to work on this recipe and tweak it a bit more then swap it over....or dare I have two veggie burger recipes?

March 2, 2010

Week 2 of Family meals......Monday's chicken curry

Of course I had the best of intentions to blog yesterdays weekly menu folks but then I got a late order for scones, tarts and platters to be made for a very early morning delivery, so I was busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen instead of clicking on the keyboard. Today however I have a child free hour while dad takes them to football practice and I am making the most of it.

We started the week off with one of my all time favourite comfort foods- curry. My mum first introduced me to this delicious chicken curry many moons ago and I haven't looked back ever since. In fact when I gave this recipe to my tasters they all agreed that it was a fabulous recipe, great for young and old and doesn't make you spend all evening in the kitchen. When serving it for the four of us I remove the extra chilli from the dish but still leave in the curry power in it's full glory because it's rich flavour is tempered with cinnamon, coconut milk and tomatoes (fresh chillies get thrown on top of ours just before eating).
To really make this meal a family favourite I serve it up with bananas rolled in coconut (the sweetness always gets Alex back for more), crunchy pappadams that get devoured in seconds and some steaming rice.

Max can handle a bit of heat but Alex still has  4 year olds taste buds so all I need to do is give him his own little extra dish of natural yogurt and then he is as happy as a bee. I think introducing flavours from all over the globe to the weekly menu keeps meal times interesting for all, just as long as you don't have to spend hours on the preparation. Actually this weeks meals are very multicultural, I could of gone for over kill but I think the pizza on Friday will save me from any grief I'll get about tonights lentil and veggie burgers...I'll let you know how I go tomorrow!