There is so much food that is delivered to us in convenient form these days. Restaurants, take away, or even quality pub feeds seem to be everywhere. Even at home, microwave meals or meals that are set-and-forget are abundant.
Meanwhile, TV is filled with cooking shows. Chefs attempting to demonstrate their levels of awesomeness. ‘Reality’ cooking competition shows. Showing you amazing food while you eat bread from the bag.
But for many, especially blokes, cooking a meal doesn’t often get more complicated than some Chicken Tonight or the BBQ.
I enjoy cooking. Sure, there are nights when dialling take away is about as complicated as I can be bothered with. And there are some cooking attempts that are probably better classified as failed science experiments.
But I also have a few things I can make that are relatively easy, while still being pretty popular. So I thought I would share.
(Disclaimer: all food pictures are stock photos I found on the net – not representations of my cooking – though mine would totally look at leasts that good)
I actually just tried this one on the weekend after my parents brought me a large pumpkin from their farm. I was pleased with the result. I often look for things to try out in my slow cooker.
· ¾ medium sized butternut pumpkin, skin and seeds removed, chopped
· 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
· 1 red onion chopped
· 1 ½ teaspoons mild curry powder
· Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
· 2 ½ cups of liquid vegetable stock
· 1 cup full cream
· Chilli powder for seasoning
· Place pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onion, curry powder, and stock in slow cooker. Season with salt, pepper and chilli powder (go light on the chilli powder unless you want to call it spicy pumpkin soup). Cook until vegetables are tender (took about 5 ½ hours in my slow cooker)
· Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Use a stick blender to process until smooth
· Stir through cream.
· Warm soup through before serving.
Ghoulash-esque stew thingy
This one is a good winter stew that is way easy adapted from a simple ghoulash recipe.
· 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
· 500g beef chuck cut in to small cubes 2-3 cm
· 200g sliced mushrooms
· 400g can condensed tomato soup
· 300g sour cream
· 1 tablespoon ground paprika
· Small can of garden peas (350g ish)
· Heat around half of the oil in a large frying pan that you have a cover for. Brown the beef.
· Add the remaining oil and mushrooms and stir through
· Add soup, sour cream and peas and stir through until combined
· Reduce heat and cover, allowing to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
· Serve on rice or small pasta like Fusilli, Macaroni, Penne, Rotini or Conchiglie
Alternatively, after combining in the pan, store in the refrigerator overnight and pop in the slow cooker in the morning before leaving for work. Come home to yummy tender goodness.
These are easy and a big favourite. I have mates who ask whether I made any of these whenever I catch up with them. A great party finger food as well.
· Pack of ready rolled puff pastry (thawed)
· Tomato paste or pizza sauce (I use a tomato and garlic sauce)
· Thin sliced short cut bacon, approx 100g, diced (the smaller the pieces the better)
· 100g parmesan cheese
· 1 egg, beaten
· Sea salt to season
· Preheat oven to 180c (fan force)
· Dust a flat surface with some flour. Lay out one sheet of pastry.
· Spread a thin layer of the tomato paste, leaving a 1-2cm gap to the edges
· Evenly spread the bacon and cheese over the tomato paste and lightly season with sea salt
· Starting at one edge, roll the pastry. Try and keep the roll as tight as possible.
· With a sharp knife, slice the roll at a thickness of around your pinky finger
· Lay out the slices on a flat tray and brush with the egg
· Bake for about 15 minutes.
Alternative fillings include:
* Spinach and ricotta (mix these in a bowl and create a thin layer on the pastry
* Pumpkin (thin slices)
* Tasty cheese and Vegemite
Quick Yummy Fish
I make this one regularly and have yet to see a result anything other than grouse.
· White fish fillet (1 per person you will serve). I prefer pink ling fillets.
· Creamy salad dressing. Italian works. I have found a ripper in my local supermarket that is a creamy lime and chilli dressing that is spectacular. But any creamy dressing you like the flavour of will work.
· ¼ cup of shredded cheese. Cheddar preferred.
· 1 cup of potato chips (a single serve pack will easily cover two fillets). You can use Salt and Vinegar flavoured chips also.
· Coat the fish fillets with the dressing and sit in the refrigerator.
· Preheat your oven to 200c (fan forced). Prepare a greased baking dish and line with baking paper.
· Combine the shredded cheese and chips (or crisps for our international readers) in a bowl and smoosh together (technical term).
· Place the fish, coated with dressing, in your baking tray. Top with the cheesy/chip mixture. Discard the left over dressing/marinade.
· Baker, uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until the fish can be flaked with a fork
Often the great yawn of home cooking, but done well and with a good gravy and roast veggies, Om nom nom.
· 500g lean beef mince
· 500g sausage mince
· 1 packet powdered French onion soup
· 1 packet powdered cream of mushroom soup
· 1 ½ teaspoons ground Paprika
· 1 egg
· BBQ sause (I use HP Sauce)
· Optional: 1 small can of peas, kidney beans
· Get a big old bowl. Add the beef and sausage and create an indentation in the centre. Add the egg, soup mixes, paprika and if you are adding peas and kidney beans, add them too.
· Wear thin rubber gloves if you don’t love gooey hands, then get in there and smoosh the whole lot together until the beef and sausage are evenly mixed
· Grease a large pan and shape the meatloaf. If roasting vegetables with the meal, allow enough space along the sides of the loaf
· Brush the outside of the loaf with BBQ sauce
· Bake for 45 minutes. Then remove from oven. Re-apply BBQ sauce to help build up the crust. Bake for another 15 minutes.
· Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting up and serving
· Optional (make gravy in the baking tray using remaining meat juices for extra flavour
Stores well and makes an interesting sandwich.
Low Cholesterol Home Made Pizzas
I experimented with home made pizza recipes for years, always searching for the best tasting outcomes. I had landed on a yummy savoury and a pretty good seafood pizza option when I had a wake up call regarding my cholesterol. Well, the first thing I did was work on a home made pizza option that I could eat without feeling guilt (NB: I have lost around 25kg since that wake up call).
I was experimenting with home made bases when the cholesterol news came in, but since have settled on pre-made wholemeal pita bread style bases.
· Wholemeal pita or pizza base. Thin.
· Garlic pizza sauce / tomato paste
· Italian herbs, pizza topper and ground chilli for seasoning
· Low fat shredded cheese. You don’t want a strong flavoured cheese on a pizza, but most low fat cheeses will take care of that for you. You should be able to find something >= 6g of fat per serve.
· Hot Salami low fat. There is one made locally by Don that is 2.7g of fat per serve but has great flavour and comes in mild and hot (I like it hot). It comes in slices that I cut in to thin (0.5cm) strips.
· 1 small green pepper (you can have red pepper, but green has better presentation)
· 100g sliced mushroom
· Optional: Anchony flat fillets
· 100g red kidney beans
· Preheat oven to 200c (fan forced)
· On a pizza tray (or pizza baking stones work great) lay out your base and spread pizza sauce, leaving a 1-2cm gap from the edges
· Season with pizza topper (moderately), Italian herbs (lightly), and ground chillis (very light).
· Spread a thin layer of cheese over the sauce
· Spread salami, anchovies (if used), and mushrooms
· Slice green pepper in to thin rings, removing heart and seeds. Cut rings in to quarters and spread over pizza
· Spread red kidney beans over pizza
· Bake for 15-20 minutes
Before I started caring about my cholesterol, kidney beans only appeared in Mexican food. Now I have them everywhere. My pizzas at that time included pitted kalamata olives, baby red peppers stuffed with feta, and diced bacon.
For a list of pretty cool kitchen tricks, here is a link to a buzzfeed article.
One thing I have tried many times but never had it come out in a way I have been happy with is lasagne. So perhaps I should try the approach by the crazy meataholics at Epic Meal Time.