Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatless Monday - Vegetarian Cottage Pie

Now I don't want to stir up any trouble but it seems there has always been a bit of confusion about the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie. To me, a shepherd's pie is a savoury mince mixture topped with mashed potato. A cottage pie on the other hand has a pastry shell topped with savoury mince and mashed potato. See? Worlds apart.

I have always loved cottage pies and they were my first choice at the school canteen back in the day.

If you're on a low-carb diet you will definitely want to skip this one!

Food.Baby's Vegetarian Cottage Pie

Shortcrust Pastry
265g plain flour
125g chilled butter, diced
1 egg yolk
2 tbs iced water

To the bowl of a food processor add the flour and butter. Using the dough blade (the plastic one) pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of the water and pulse again until it combines. The mix will start to clump and pull away from the sides. Stop immediately and turn the dough out onto a floured board. Press roughly together and put into the fridge to rest for at least 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough to about a pencil thickness, enough to cover the base and sides of a 25cm pan. Press into the pie dish and use a knife to trim away the excess. Patch any holes with the scraps. Place into the freezer for 30 minutes while the oven is preheating to 190 degrees Celsius.

Bake for 15 minutes. Don't worry if it shrinks a little as there should still be enough space for your fillings.

Or skip all this and use bought shortcrust pastry.

Savoury Mince Filling
1 x 300g packet Quorn veggie mince
1 can lentils, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can water
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
2 tbs oil

Over medium-high heat, fry the onion and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the veggie mince and lentils and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a fast simmer and cook for around 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a pie-filling-like consistency.

Mashed Potato Topping
1kg potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
50g cheese
20g butter
Milk or hot water

Place the chopped potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling cook for approx 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and tip back into the saucepan. Add the butter and a splash of milk and mash until smooth. Season to taste.

To assemble
Pour your mince filling into the prepared pastry shell. Top evenly with mashed potato. Sprinkle top with grated cheese and bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad and plenty of tomato sauce!

Serves 6.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Baking - Lunchbox Biscuits

Is it just me or does this picture look like it came straight out of a 1970s Woman's Weekly magazine?? Not quite sure how I managed that but conveniently this is a pretty retro recipe so perhaps it was meant to be.

These are simply called Lunchbox Cookies and everyone seems to have their own variation. I found this one online at Best Recipes and made a few changes. These are wonderful warm from the oven but hubby has been taking a few from the freezer every day to have with his morning coffee at work and really enjoyed them.

Lunchbox Cookies
Very slightly adapted from Best Recipes

1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup milk powder
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup dried dates, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
150g melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 ts cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and beaten egg and mix well to combine. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on a lined baking tray, allowing some room for spreading. Flatten each biscuit with a fork.  Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on tray for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Makes approx 18.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TWD BWJ - Lemon Loaf Cake

I hate leaving things to the last minute but I have to admit I only pulled this beauty out of the oven at 8am this morning! Of course that meant the kids wanted cake for breakfast :)

I adore citrus and definitely prefer fruit based cakes/desserts to chocolate ones, so this Lemon Loaf Cake was perfect for me. It was wonderful warm and just as good cold the next day. That to me is a sign of a great cake!

Of course I did make a few substitutions because we had run out of certain ingredients. I used light olive oil instead of butter and mango/passionfruit yoghurt instead of cream. So this isn't really a pound cake like the recipe at all. You can see the bubbles in each slice which I think is typical of a yoghurt cake.

But whatever you call it, it was delicious! Light, moist and full of lemony goodness. A simple icing sugar and lemon juice glaze was the perfect topping.

Our hosts this week are Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life. You will find the recipe for this gorgeous cake on their blogs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatless Monday - Easy Pumpkin Soup

We've had some lovely cool nights and mornings and to me that signals the beginning of soup weather. However my husband hates both pumpkin AND soup so it's no surprise the boys and I had this for lunch instead of dinner!

This is just about the easiest soup you could possibly make. Just chop, throw it all in a pot for a while then blend and eat. Yum!

Easy Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4

1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
20g butter (or coconut oil for dairy free)
800g pumpkin (peeled weight), roughly chopped into 3cm pieces
approx 1 litre water or vegetable stock
salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
cream (or coconut cream) to serve

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and the butter. Roughly chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan when the butter has melted and is starting to foam. Cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened. Add the chopped pumpkin and toss to combine. Add enough water or vegetable stock to cover the pumpkin, place the lid on the pan and bring to the boil.

Once boiling remove the lid and reduce the heat down to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and cooked through. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add a splash of cream.

You can blend the soup using either a stick blender in the saucepan (off the heat) or by pouring the soup into a food processor.

Serve with another swirl of cream, a grating of fresh nutmeg and lots of crusty, buttered bread. Delicious!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TWD BWJ - Pizza Rustica

Well I was all set to make pizza only to discover this is not actually a pizza at all! At least not as we know it. Think of it more as a quiche but with pizza-ish fillings.

I stuck to the recipe as written so used prosciutto, pecorino and parsley in the filling. It was really easy to make and I was so looking forward to trying it.

The taste test ...

Unfortunately I didn't love this. Normally I enjoy a sweet-salty combination but the crust here was just too sweet for me and it really detracted from the overall flavour. It looked pretty but the taste just didn't win me over. The kids each had a bite then just picked off the crust and left the rest.

I can definitely see the potential though with less sugar in the crust and some veges in the filling it could be a winner.

Don't let my lukewarm reaction put you off though, hubby loved it and took leftovers for lunch the next day!

For the recipe make sure you visit our hosts - Emily at Capital Region Dining and Raelynn of The Place They Call Home. And to check out what everyone else thought visit the LYL section here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meatless Monday - Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Sauce

I'm sure I never ate curry when I was 2 but luckily both my kids are big fans!

This was a hit at our place this week and in spite of the name it's basically a curry with a rich tomato hit from both tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. It's also one of those dishes where you will likely have all the ingredients on hand already and can whip this up easily for a mid-week dinner.

Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Recipe Source - Cheap & Cheerful from The Australian Woman's Weekly, p68-69

2 tbs ghee (I used rice bran oil)
2 brown onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
20g piece fresh ginger, grated
2 ts cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
1tbs coriander
1 ts turmeric
1ts cayenne pepper
2 tbs tomato paste
2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes
2 cups water (I used vege stock)
2 x 420g tins chickpeas, drained
1 large sweet potato (500g) cut into a small dice
300g spinach, chopped coarsely
(Salt, pepper and sugar to taste)

Heat ghee in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is soft, stirring often. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

Next add the sweet potato and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring well to coat in the spice and onion mix.

Add in the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato is cooked through. Just before serving, add in the chopped spinach.

Serve on basmati rice.

I didn't make many changes to the recipe but you can see them marked above. I always use vege stock in place of water in these sorts of dishes, and I added a teaspoon of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.

We'll definitely make this again!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Baking - Milo Muffins

In a few years I'll be baking treats for my kids' lunchboxes, but for now I am baking for the big kid in my life aka the hubby! We are trying to cut back our spending and making sure he takes lunch with him every day is a big part of that.

We have been planning our dinners pretty carefully for a while so that there are always leftover meals for his lunch, and now I am baking every Sunday so there is something sweet to have with his coffee as well. I'm such a good wife! Ha!

I stumbled across these Milo Muffins on the Essential Kids website but they are actually from one of my favourite bloggers, Melissa at Frills in the Hills.

Milo Muffins
Recipe very slightly adapted from Essential Kids
Makes 12 small or 6 jumbo muffins

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cup milo
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
60g butter, melted
Chocolate sprinkles to decorate

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Pour into muffin papers until 3/4 full. Cover each with chocolate sprinkles and bake for approx 20 minutes.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Suitable to freeze.

I made 6 jumbo muffins which meant 1 for me and 5 for hubby's lunches. He did forget to take one one day and I got a text with sad face that morning!
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