Archive | March, 2012

Home Cooked Happiness!

I know it might sound totally INSANE but my life changed quite considerably recently, thanks to a slow cooker! For those of you who already have a slow cooker you will probably know what I mean and for those of you who don’t, hear me out, you seriously have to get one!

On the outside it is what it says it is a slow cooker. A big shiny pot that plugs into the wall and sits on your worktop. You literally chop up the ingredients and slow cook at a low heat for around 4 – 8 hours depending on the recipe. However, it is a whole lot more than that…

Imagine arriving home from work tired and hungry after a long day. You open the front door and it hits you… the whole house is filled with a wonderful aroma of hearty, warming, home cooked food. Food that nourishes the body and gives it energy, food that takes you back to your childhood days and those wonderful Sunday lunches that were prepared for you and not by you.

You walk into the kitchen and there is your perfectly cooked dinner waiting for you and your family. It has been bubbling away slowly all day, what a wonderful use of time. There is nothing else that you need to do other than grab a plate and serve up…

Aside from the tastiness and convenience aspect of this wonderful little pot, there are many other benefits to this form of cooking too. Due to the fact that the ingredients are being cooked at a slow temperature for a long time they become extremely tender and juicy and as there is little evaporation they won’t dry out.

Also very importantly the natural juices from the meat and vegetables are retained in the slow cooking pot meaning that the cooked food is extremely nutritious too.

The slow cooker is also very inexpensive too, I think ours was around $40 and no mounds of washing up afterwards as all you have to wash up is one pot!

Anyway, enough of my rambling, it’s time to put words into action! Here are a few great recipes to try using the slow cooker.

Beef Goulash Soup

1 kg of chuck steak

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

400 g tinned tomatoes

750 mls (3 cups) chicken stock (I used vegetable stock and it worked fine)

350 g butternut squash, chopped

1 green capsicum, halved seeded and cut into thin strips

2 tables spoons of natural yoghurt to serve

What do to…

Put all of the ingredients except for the capsicum into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4.5 hours, until beef is tender and butternut squash is cooked through. Stir in the capsicum and then turn the cooker up to high and cook for a further 1 hour with the lid off. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the yoghurt before serving.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Basque Chicken

1.8 kg of chicken pieces

1 onion, cut into 2cm dice

1 red capsicum, 2cm dice

1 green capsicum, 2cm dice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g chorizo sausage, sliced

150 ml white wine

80g tomato paste/puree

90g black olives

1/4 preserved lemon

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

What to do…

Put all of the ingredients (except the basil, parsley and lemon) into the slow cooker. Rinse the preserved lemon well, remove and discard the pulp and membrane and finely dice the rind. Add to the chicken and cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the basil and serve with sprinkled chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Slow Cooked Chicken, Lentil and Pumpkin Curry

2/3 cup of dried brown Lentils

2/3 cup of dried red Lentils

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large brown onion (200g) chopped finely

2 garlic cloves crushed

2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger (10g) grated

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1 fresh long red chilli chopped finely

3 cups chicken stock (750ml)

1kg of chicken thigh fillets chopped coarsely

400g canned diced tomatoes

500g butternut pumpkin chopped coarsely in medium pieces

1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk

155g baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander

Plain yoghurt for dressing

What to do…

Rinse lentils under cold water until water runs clear; drain. Heat oil in large frying pan; cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices and chilli; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add stock; bring to the boil. Pour stock mixture into 4.5 litre slow cooker; stir in chicken, undrained tomatoes, pumpkin and lentils. Cook covered on low for 7 hours. Stir in coconut milk; cook, covered on high, 15 minutes, stirring once. Stir in spinach and coriander. Season to taste. Top with plain yoghurt.

Serves 5-6

Source: http://www.mouthwateringmunchies.com/?p=4701

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Sunday Night Comfort Soup!

Don’t we all have those lazy TV dinner moments when all we want is a film and some good old comfort food?!

Rob and I had one of those moments last sunday evening. We had taken the dog out for a run and it had started to tip down with rain half way round. By the time we got home we were drenched and were craving something warming and comforting but also healthy, nutritious and guilt free! In other words a food that would make us feel good!

After a moments deliberation we turned to good old Delia, in my view the queen of comfort eating! We came across this awesome recipe for Lentil Soup from ‘Delia’s Complete Cookery Course’. It is extremely easy to make and a great way to use up those left overs in fridge.

The recipe includes lentils which are packed full of filling, muscle building protein plus they are full of fiber and have significant amounts of folate, iron (for energy) and magnesium (which helps keep your heart healthy). The soup is so yummy and really is a meal on its own, it honestly keeps you feeling full for HOURS afterwards!

Give it a go and let me know what you think…

Ingredients:

8 rashers smoked bacon (rind/fat removed)

175 g of Puy lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots chopped

2 medium onions, ch0pped

2 celery stalks, sliced

225g tin of tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 pints bouillon vegetable stock

225g cabbage, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large cooking pot and fry the bacon in it until the fat begins to run. Then stir in the prepared carrots, onion and celery and, with the heat fairly high, toss them around to brown them a little at the edges. Now stir in the washed, drained lentils plus the contents of the tin of tomatoes followed by the crushed garlic then the stock.

As soon as the soup comes to the boil, put a lid on and simmer, as gently as possible, for about 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the end add the cabbage. Taste and season. Just before serving stir in the chopped parsley

Source: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/soups/smoked-bacon-and-lentil-soup.html

Please note: I made a few minor changes to the original version. I used organic bouillon vegetable stock instead of homemade for speed. I also used back bacon instead of streaky and a few extra slices to increase the protein content.


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