Budget Meals

Spicy Pumpkin Bread

Friday, August 21st, 2009

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Nick loves making breads… Naan bread, tortillas, bread rolls… and I love eating bread!!!! Therefore, I would say we work very well together 🙂

So when Nick said he wanted to make some pumpkin bread, I was all for it!

He was a little suspicious that it was an actual bread due to the exception of yeast… can you really have a bread without yeast? Maybe…

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Either way, it is a lovely savoury pumpkin bread (or loaf) with a brilliant orange colour, great flavours of spices and works especially well for morning tea or with a meal.

Spicy Pumpkin Bread
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste.com.au

Melted butter, to grease
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mild chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
450g (1 cup) mashed cooked pumpkin
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
60g butter, melted, cooled
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush an 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Place the pumpkin, milk, butter and egg in a jug, and use a whisk to stir until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, and stir with a large metal spoon until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle evenly with pepitas.

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Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven. Set aside in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

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Note: You’ll need to steam about 500g peeled, deseeded, chopped pumpkin for this recipe. This bread is great for sandwiches and as an accompaniment to a chargrilled lamb salad.

Fajitas and Tortillas

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

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Now when it came to making some Fajita’s and homemade Tortillas, we went straight to the internet to see what advice there was and how easy tortillas were to make (we had made naan bread before, so were interested to see how it compared).

We found a great set of videos on youtube by Chef Jason Hill, which were very detailed and are brilliant for anyone wanting to learn how to make either fajitas and fajita marinade, tortillas, guacamole, salsa and many more recipes.

The tortillas were a lot easier than we were expecting. With only four ingredients and a few steps (mix, rest, roll, cook) it was easy and quite cheap to make and tasted much better than the bought tortillas.

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The fajita marinade was full of great flavours and extremely fresh and lovely. We’ve already made this twice, but it’s certainly on the list of meals to make again and again…. Hope you all enjoy!

The meat for the fajitas takes a while to marinate, therefore start making that first.

Fajitas and Tortillas
Recipes adapted from Chef Jason Hill on youtube

Tortillas
Makes: 12-16 (Serves 6-8)

4 cups plain flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup vegetable shortening or butter (113g butter)
1½ teaspoons salt
1–1¼ cups warm water

Put flour, baking powder and shortening or butter together into a bowl. Work together with hands for a few minutes until you get a coarse meal.

Mix the salt in with the warm water and then add it to the flour mix. Mix it to form a dough – add the extra ¼ cup water if need be, I found this to be necessary. Work together to form a ball. Cover and rest for 20 minutes.

Break into 12-16 little balls. Preheat fry pan or crepe pan to medium heat.

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Roll out balls on lightly floured work surface until a thin round tortilla is formed. Place on preheated saucepan and cook until the underside starts to brown 15-30seconds. Turn over and cook the other side.

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Once cooked, place on half a tea towel and cover with the rest of the tea towel to keep warm, cook the fajita filling at this stage.

Fajitas
Makes enough for 12-16 tortillas

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g steak (we used rump), sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 red capsicums, deseeded and cut into strips
1 green capsicum, deseeded and cut into strips

Guacamole
Sour cream
Grated Cheese
re-fried beans (see recipe below)


Fajita marinade

1 cup water
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
pinch cloves, ground
4 cloves crushed garlic
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Small bunch of cilantro/coriander
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange

Put water in a bowl; add juices to water, then all other ingredients except the olive oil. Whisk in the olive oil slowly. Let it sit for 30 minutes before using.

Marinate the meat for 30minutes – 1 hour.

Heat a wok or pan to medium high. Place oil in pan and add onions, cooking for 5 minutes, until slightly translucent. Add a few tablespoons of the fajita marinade. Add capsicums and cook for 5 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl.

Add the marinated meat in a few batches and cook until just browned. Keep cooked batches covered while you finish the cooking. Remove all the meat and add the remaining marinade, cook until bubbling. Add vegetables to warm up and absorb some marinade.

Place a tortilla on a plate, add some of the meat, vegetables, grated cheese, guacamole and sour cream in a line in the centre, leaving room at one edge to fold up. Once the bottom is folded up, fold in the sides and eat.

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Re-fried Beans
Nick’s recipe

1 can (400g) red kidney beans (or whole Pinto beans, if you can find them), rinsed in water
1 onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cook the onion in olive oil until translucent, then add the garlic. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the beans. Heat through, then use a potato masher and mash the beans until it forms a thick paste-like mixture. Serve with fajitas.

Naan Bread

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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A lot of trial and error has gone into making naan breads at our place. Salt quantity, rising time, trying to figure out how to cook naan bread in an Australian kitchen…
We have tried two ways to date, cooking under the oven grill and cooking on the grill on the BBQ. Both ways work quite well, resulting in a nice, soft bread which is slightly crunchy on the outside. It’s served with a small amount of butter rubbed on top, which melts into the bread.

It is just fantastic with all the curries we make, so get in there, tear a bit off, use it to grab some curry (with rice if you like) and enjoy yourself!

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Naan Bread
Recipe adapted from VahRehVah

Makes: 6

3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon oil
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup milk (approximately)

Add warm water into the dry yeast and sugar, set aside to allow yeast to be activated.

Sieve flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil to water and yeast mixture and mix well, then add to the flour, mix and add milk to make a soft, sticky dough. Use a bit of oil on your hand if it starts to stick. Lightly flour a clean bench. Knead the dough until smooth. Break dough into six portions and knead lightly. (You can let it stand for a while to prove if you like, although we found it didn’t make much difference to the overall texture).

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Heat the grill on very high (approximately 220°C). Stretch each ball into a naan shaped piece of dough (roughly 20-30cm long and 10-15cm across). Place two naan on the grilling tray and cook, watching constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn, and turn when the naan has browned in patches.

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Brush some butter on top of the naan and serve with curries.

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Cucumber Mint Raita

Monday, July 13th, 2009


I love Indian Food!!!

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As I’m not fond of hot and/or very spicy food, many people were quite surprised to find out that I do love Indian food. Although I’m not suggesting that I actually make traditional Indian food, I probably tend to eat more Westernised Indian food.

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Many of the dishes are easy to prepare, especially since once you’ve bought a few bags of spices, they sit in the cupboard waiting to be used and you don’t have to go and buy fresh ingredients as you need to do when making some other curry pastes. This is one of the reasons that an Indian banquet is one of our favourite meals.

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Over the next few blogs I’ll describe all the preparations and dishes to prepare a great feast for all! I have never tried any Indian desserts or sweets before, but the ones I found on the internet were definitely a winner.

First off is the Cucumber Mint Raita
This Cucumber Mint Raita is lovely served with pappadums, cooked in oil as the pack says (I have heard of people cooking them in the microwave, but haven’t tried that yet).

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It has many flavours throughout, made primarily with plain yoghurt, the addition of mint and cucumber make it quite refreshing and a great entrée.

Cucumber Mint Raita
(Recipe slightly adapted from epicurious)

Serves: 8-10

1 Lebanese cucumber
2 cups plain yoghurt
½ lemon, squeezed
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons caster sugar

Finely grate the cucumber and dab with a paper towel. Whisk yoghurt, lemon juice, mint, cumin, paprika, salt and sugar in a medium bowl to blend. Add cucumber and toss to coat. Season with more spices, as desired. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (It can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Sprinkle with a pinch of paprika and serve with pappadams.

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Fried Rice

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

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Looking for something easy, quick, tasty and reasonably cheap? Well, fried rice is a good way to use up whatever is left in the fridge and easy to alter the recipe by adding fresh ingredients.

Easy Fried Rice
Recipe from Taste.com.au

Serves: 4

1 cup long grain white rice
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 bacon rashers, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 shallots, trimmed, finely sliced (I used a sliced onion)
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus extra to serve
I added a few sliced mushrooms too, when cooking bacon and onion (capsicum would also go well in this dish)

Cook the rice in a large saucepan of boiling water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and leave to cool.

Using a whisk, lightly beat eggs in a small bowl. Heat oil in non-stick wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add eggs. Swirl over base to form an omelette. Cook 2 minutes. Turn over. Cook 2 minutes until set. Transfer to a chopping board. Set aside to cool slightly. Cut into short strips.

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Add bacon to wok. Cook 4 minutes until light golden. Add carrot. Stir fry 1 minute. Add shallots, peas and rice. Cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes. Add egg and soy sauce. Stir until heated through. Serve immediately, with extra soy.

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Almond and Vanilla Porridge

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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We all know “someone”, who can’t go past a freebee. Who goes around and around to people handing around free samples just so they can collect as much as possible…

Well I know a couple of those people, and I can certainly relate to it, especially when I see something that looks particularly appealing. And let’s face it – it’s the best sort of bargain out there – you get something for nothing!

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Even though I’ve never liked porridge that people have made (I’ve found they tend to be a bit plain, and since I don’t like dried fruit, it doesn’t even add an extra element that would entice me), I picked up a few samples of porridge in new flavours or a different brand being handed out. One had dried fruit, the other Vanilla and Almond Porridge. Well, the later actually sounds nice, so after trying it, I realised I would have it again. But samples don’t last long… they’re samples. And not finding them in the shops meant I would try and make it myself (and it’s likely to be both cheaper and healthier – as you know exactly what goes into it).

So, one trial for the recipe and I was pretty happy with the result (even more so than the original product, after being given another sample and doing a taste-test comparison)! This is great for our cold weather (and unfortunately weather that is going to get colder and rainier).

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Almond and Vanilla Porridge

Serves: 1 small serving, feel free to double the quantity

1/3 cup rolled oats, blitzed in a food processor until chopped slightly (or Quick Oats)
1 tablespoon blitzed roasted almonds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
2/3 cup milk (approximately)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the vanilla with the milk and pour into bowl. Mix together and microwave on high for 1 minute (Be careful, this will be hot). Stir mixture and cook on high for another 30sec – 1min, until as thick as you like. Add more milk depending on the consistency and temperature you like your porridge.

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Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I’m not the best person at remembering to send someone a recipe they’ve asked for. Unless I get reminded or leave an email in my inbox marked as “unread”, it’s unlikely I’ll get around to it, especially if I haven’t had a chance to type it out. So I felt a bit bad when a friend of mine asked for a Bruschetta recipe and I still haven’t emailed it to her.

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Well here is the Bruschetta recipe I use. It’s nice and quick, with lovely flavours… even for someone who doesn’t like eating raw tomatoes… now who could that be? 😉 De-seeding the tomatoes reduces extra liquid which will cause the bread to soften and go soggy, so make sure you serve very soon after spooning the tomato mix onto the bread.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

(Recipe from Super Food Ideas)
Serves: 4

1 loaf day old sourdough bread
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 large tomatoes, quartered, deseeded
4 basil leaves, shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Slice bread into eight, 1cm thick slices (traditionally straight across the bread, not diagonally). Lightly toast (under grill) both sides bread until crisp on outside but soft on side. Cut garlic cloves in half lengthways. Rub cut side of garlic over 1 side of hot bread.

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Drizzle 1½ teaspoons oil over garlic side of bread, Season with salt.

Cut tomato quarters in half again and dice. Place in a bowl. Add basil, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Spoon onto toasted bread and serve.

Variation: Replace the fresh tomatoes by combining 1 cup chopped semi-dried tomatoes and ½ cup chopped feta-stuffed olives with the basil.

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Pumpkin Soup

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Now after all the baking and rich dinners that I cook, it’s only reasonable that once in a while we make something which doesn’t contain loads of carbs or sugar. Many of you may not think this is an appropriate recipe to add to my blog, but it’s more put up to remind people of easy, budget meals (especially in these times) that anyone can make any time. It fulfils a lot of requirements for dinner:

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Cheap – I was able to buy a 3.7kg Kent pumpkin @ $0.98/kg = $3.65 for the entire batch of soup– if this serves 8 people it’s 46c per serve – Bargain!
Not many ingredients required
Low in Kilojoules – If you’re on Weight Watchers it’s 0 points!! (as long as you don’t add cream or eat bread with it)
Easy and Fast
Able to freeze (Just thaw and reheat)

What more could you want?
You only really need two ingredients a pumpkin and some chicken or vegetable stock, or stock powder – for those who won’t use up the rest of container of stock.

You can refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and reheat in the microwave or on the stove (it may form crystals when frozen, but once mixed through it’s fine).

Pumpkin Soup
Serves: 8 or more

3.5kg Jap or Kent Pumpkin (any other pumpkin will do e.g. Butternut, etc)
1 teaspoon chicken or vegetable stock powder (or one cup stock)

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Peel and de-seed pumpkin. Cut in small pieces (4 x 4 x 1.5cm) and place in a large pot. Add enough water to almost cover (1-2cm below) the pumpkin pieces. This will make a thick soup, so you can add more water now or after blending if you prefer it thinner. Add the stock and heat over medium heat until the pumpkin is soft and a cake tester or sharp knife goes in and comes out easily.

Stir occasionally to make sure all pumpkin is cooked evenly

Stir occasionally to make sure all pumpkin is cooked evenly

Use a hand blender to blend up the pumpkin.

Blend then serve

Blend then serve

See – I told you it was easy!
Now you can eat your cake or a lovely decadent dessert and not feel so guilty! 🙂

Variation:
You could always fry up one finely sliced onion before adding the pumpkin, a bit of cream after it’s blended to add some more taste and serve with tasty herb bread. Of course the bread and cream make this a bit less healthy, but it certainly tastes great!

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