Easter

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The celebration that was Easter has been and gone since my last post.  The lead-up here was pretty low-key.  In fact, it was Wednesday before I really even gave much thought to the family lunch on Sunday.

Our menu ended up as follows:

Hummus with rice crackers and vegetable crudites

Cold Chicken Curry
Brown rice tossed with french dressing
Tossed green salad
Baby spinach, roast pumpkin and feta salad

Mango sorbet

Whilst we are far from self-sufficient I do like to include some of our own produce and this time I was able to make use of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocadoes, pumpkin, mangoes and eggs.

The Cold Chicken Curry is a family favourite and usually makes an appearance at most family get-togethers.  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo but I will add the recipe to the recipe files later in the week.

We had a quiet and peaceful weekend spent with various family members visiting and staying overnight.  It was relaxing and enjoyable and I hope your Easter break was, too.

Yesterday we managed to spend some time in the vegetable garden and I will show you the results of our efforts later in the week.

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.

Cooking From the Cupboard

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My last port focused on using fresh, seasonal produce – mangoes in my case at the moment.

Tonight I am sharing what I cooked today.  Using mostly ingredients that I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer I had a big cook-up and made the following:

Bolognaise sauce
Choc fruit and nut balls
**Pizza bases (gluten free)
**Refried beans
Chilli con carne
**Muesli (gluten free)
**Mexican quinoa

We had Mexican quinoa for dinner and have enough for our lunches on Monday.  The bolognaise sauce and zucchini noodles will be for dinner tomorrow and there are 4 serves (2 meals x 2 people) in the freezer.  6 pizza bases are are par-cooked and frozen.  8 serves of chilli con carne are in the freezer.  3 dozen choc fruit and nut balls in the freezer and ready to be added to lunchboxes.  The muesli container is refilled and will last mea couple of months.

The items marked with ** have already been covered in previous blog posts and the links can be found by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog “Recipes – Food”.

Here is the recipe for the bolognaise sauce.

BOLOGNAISE SAUCE

250g mince
1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Frozen cherry tomatoes + dried tomato powder
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons vegie stock powder
1/3 cup red wine

Pour boiling water over lentils – allow to stand for at least 2hours. Saute onion and garlic, add mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

You could use canned tomatoes plus tomato paste. Mine are from the garden.

I use a large soup ladle to portion up the mixture.

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The chilli con carne is the same basic mixture but I omit the mixed herbs and add the following.

2 cups kidney beans (I soak and cook my own but you could use canned ones)
1 cup refried beans
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Tabasco sauce to taste

I will add the recipe for the Choc fruit and nut balls in the next day or so.

 

 

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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A Family Favourite

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As promised yesterday, here is the recipe for cold curried chicken.

Cold Curried Chicken

3 – 4 chicken breast fillets (around 800g)
1 onion, finely diced3 tablespoons butter
3 – 4 tablespoons flour
900ml chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
150ml cream
Salt and pepper

Cold cooked rice
French dressing

Steam the chicken and shred into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a shallow serving dish.

Melt butter, add onion and cook until soft.  Add curry powder and cook for 5 minutes.  Add flour and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.Gradually add the stock and stir until blended well.  Bring to the boil while stirring then simmer for 30 minutes.  Add lemon juice and red currant jelly.  Mix well and allow to cool.  Stir in cream and season to taste.  Pour over the chicken and chill before serving.  Toss the rice in a little french dressing before serving.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs at present although I may add some in the future when I next make this recipe.

I have successfully made this gluten-free by using gluten free flour to thicken it.  You may need a bit more flour if using gluten free.  I also substituted evaporated skim milk instead of the cream.  You can make your own evaporated milk using equal parts of milk powder and water.  If you want it a bit creamier just add more milk powder.

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.

My Favourite Salad

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Does anyone else take notes on the ingredients and structure of dishes which you enjoy when dining out?

During our recent trip to the USA and Canada we ate at ‘Antique Taco’ in Wicker Park, Chicago.  We discovered it because it was rated as one of the 10 best tacos in the USA by Fodor’s Travel.  After reading the email containing this information, it was an absolute must-do when we were in Chicago and we were not disappointed.

The kale salad was amazing and I have managed to create something similar at home.

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This is what was left in the bowl after dinner tonight and using some for lunch tomorrow.

There are no specific quantities for the ingredients.

Curly kale (thick vein removed and finely chopped)
Finely chopped red onion
Diced capsicum
Dried cranberries (chopped)
Spiced peanuts (I buy raw peanuts and toss them in a bit of oil, chilli powder, cumin and sea salt)
Dressing

Lime juice
Red wine vinegar
Pomegranate molasses
Olive oil
Herb salt
Black pepper

Use the dressing sparingly.  Tos salad well to ensure that all surfaces are coated.

Unlike most salads, I think this improves after standing for 6 – 12 hours.

If you decide to try this, please let me know what you think.