Category Archives: recipes

Zucchini Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes

My eldest girl is a generally picky eater…my middle girl will wolf down anything – as long as it doesn’t have meat and below is a photo of an essay that Imogen wrote in Kindergarten that pretty much sums up her eating habits.  This does not make my life easy and at the moment they are young enough for me to impose my will and pretty much cook what I want, but the day is rapidly coming when Jojo at least will refuse all meats…

"I love cows. They give us steak and milk."

So often I make vegetarian for the whole family and this recipe was a surprising success…it is also  a Weight Watchers meal so you can pretty much guarantee it is low-fat and healthy.

Yummy

3.5 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken – just don’t tell Jojo)

1/2 cup tomato juice (I used V8 – a favorite drink of Jojo!)

1 table-spoon olive oil

6 shallots, finely chopped  (I used spring onions – easier to hide from the carnivores in the family)

4 medium zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

16 sun-dried tomato halves (not oil packed), finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram ( this means 1/2 teaspoon dry, trust me)

2 tablespoons parmesan, grated

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

chopped parsley for garnish

1. Combine stock and tomato juice in pan ; bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.

2. Heat oil in non stick pan, sauté shallots until soft, about 2 minutes.   Add zucchini and wine; cook until zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes longer.  Add the rice; cook, stirring about 1 minute.

3. Add 1 cup of stock mixture, the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and marjoram; cook stirring, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until stock is absorbed before adding more, until rice is just tender.  The total cooking time should be about 25-30 minutes.  Stir in the cheese and pepper, serve at once garnished with parsley. 

Serves 4 – 368 cals.

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Rachel Ray’s 30 minute Shepherd’s Pie

This is a photo from RR's website not my photo.

 

This is a great recipe.  Firstly it only takes 30 minutes and secondly everyone loved it.  In  fact ,the following day I opened the fridge to give the girl’s shepherd’s pie leftovers for lunch, but Andy had got there before us.  Ho hum. 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

 

Directions

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth. 

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas. 

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve. 

 I did add some butter to the potato as it didn’t taste right without it, but apart from that I followed the recipe exactly. 

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Disappointing Pigs and Yummy Strawberries

I have been really looking forward to making Pig in a Pot!  It’s not just because I love the name and I do. It’s not because it came from the weird tv series ‘Come Dine with Me’ which I love, but because it looked yummy.  I was disappointed…I think I used the wrong part of the pig, because on tv it all fell apart wonderfully on the fork and mine didn’t.   Andy and the kids loved it though so maybe it was just me.   The red cabbage was good! 

Pig in a Pot 

Serves 4 

Ingredients 

  • 25g butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium swede, peeled and cut into roughly 2.5cm pieces  (I don’t like swede so I conveniently forgot about this bit….)
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple sauce
  • 4 lean pork steaks
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves

For the red cabbage 

  • 25g butter
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small red cabbage, halved, cored and finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 2 eating apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. The red cabbage is best made the day before eating. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, cabbage, sugar and plenty of salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes, then pour over the vinegar and stir vigorously. 

2. Add the vegetable stock, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring now and then. Remove the lid, stir in the sliced apples and simmer the cabbage for a further 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool, then cover and chill until required. Reheat gently, adding a little extra stock if necessary. 

3. To prepare the pork, melt the butter in a flame-proof casserole or shallow, ovenproof saucepan and gently fry the onion and swede until beginning to soften, stirring regularly. 

4. Add the wine, sugar and apple sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. 

5. Push the vegetables into a pile at the edge of the pan, add the pork steaks and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes. Pour over the stock, add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with a lid. Put in the centre of the oven and cook for 1¾-2 hours at 170°C/gas mark 3.   (I stuck mine in the crock pot). 

6. 10 minutes before the pork is ready, reheat the cabbage, stirring regularly. Divide the cabbage between four warmed plates. Top with the pork and vegetables, spooning over the hot vegetable liquor, and serve. 

At this time of year the strawberries are fantastic and I like to dip them in chocolate.   I know chocolate is not very healthy but there is relatively little on the fruit and the fruit is healthy right?  Of course I like to triple dip my strawberries…. 

Just beautiful...

 

The smile says it all

 

don't tell her it's healthy

 

Bruce Willis wants to be healthy too...

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Crock Pot Heaven

I promised Dawn over at The Moiderer that I would let her have some more Crock pot recipes as she has just discovered their existence.  Obviously she has been living up a tree or in a Tibetan Monastery or summut.   Here are a few that I have made, not necessarily the healthiest, but all of them tasty in their own way. 

The first is Pulled Pork.  There are many, many recipes with special spices etc.  My favorite?  Go get yourself a big lump of pork and a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  Pour one over the other (in the pot, Dawn, in the pot.)  Turn the thing on and come back several hours later.  Voila!  Health warning: BBQ sauce has a lot of sugar in it. 

I recently tried Chicken Adobo – I like adobo recipes…if you don’t like the very strong taste of vinegar and soy sauce, this is not the recipe for you.   All of my kids like it though and it does freeze so it’s a favorite in this family.  It is also low-calorie. 

I sliced onion 

4 cloves garlic, crushed 

½ cup soy sauce 

½ cup vinegar 

1 cup chicken broth 

1-2 pounds chicken breasts 

Throw everything into the crock pot stick it on low for 6-8 hours 

Serve over rice. 

as delicious as it is ugly

 

Finally a recipe that I serve up every time someone comes over from the UK to visit us – I throw it into the crock pot and when we get back from the airport I can serve up a dish that looks like I trained with Gordon Ramsey…which why I also swear a lot in the kitchen. 

Chicken Las Vegas 

6 chicken breasts 

1 can mushroom soup (here in the South many recipes have mushroom soup in them, I think General Lee must have liked it.) 

½ pint sour cream 

1 jar of dried chipped beef (I actually prefer to put in a packet of bacon bits meant to go over salad.) 

Stir together the last three ingredients. 

Pour them over the chicken and cook on low for 5-6 hours. 

Serve with whatever the heck you like – I’ve served it with potatoes, rice and noodles – it was great with all of them.  The only healthy ingredient in this recipe is the chicken which is why I don’t serve it too often!

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The Mysterious Disappearance of Great Uncle Kristof or Goulash

The weather is glorious here…it makes me hot and sweaty and I feel vaguely tropical as I listen to the cicadas and watch the fireflies in the back yard.  Sheer bliss!   

So what did I make for supper?  Gazpacho, I hear you cry, or salad served with iced tea – and you would be completely wrong.   

I made goulash, warming, rich, perfect for winter weather goulash.  Apparently the word goulash comes from the Hungarian word for cattle stock man, but I am unclear as to why it’s called that.  I get that beef is used in the dish and cattle stockmen by definition have a lot of beef handy, but why not goulash stew?  After all we don’t say shepherd, we say shepherd’s pie…it makes me kind of uneasy that I have misunderstood what the original ingredient may actually have been.   I have visions of some Hungarian peasant woman smiling to herself making stew as her family look for great-uncle Kristof who has disappeared….  

If I haven’t put you off here is my recipe for Great Uncle Kristof stew…and he freezes too.  

Ingredients  

1 or 2 pounds of cubed beef – whatever you have lurking at the bottom of the freezer.  

1 onion, chopped  

1 green bell pepper chopped, traditionally this should be a red bell pepper , but I only had a green one, what can I say, I’m a rebel…  

Garlic – lots, because I like it.  

1 jar or can of tomato sauce, I used spaghetti sauce – Hungary/Italy same continent, that’s good enough for me.  

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained  

Some small new potatoes left over from the fragrant sticky chicken you made a few days ago…  

Paprika  

Salt and pepper  

Pasta of your choice, cooked.  

 1. In a large skillet, cook beef with onions until beef is browned and onion is tender, add garlic and paprika.  Drain well.  Add green pepper, tomato sauce, and un drained tomatoes.  Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes to blend flavors.  

2. To thaw and reheat: Thaw overnight in fridge.  Pour into skillet and add ¼ cup water if necessary.  Heat mixture until bubbly and serve.  

I deliberately did not specify how much paprika, but I will tell you that I used 2 teaspoons.  The reason why I am being unusually shy is that spices change when frozen and can get stronger in flavor, you have been warned.  

Uncle K never looked so good

 

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Muffins Mmmm

Gosh I can’t believe I have abandoned this post and my efforts so easily!  I have had a heck of a busy few weeks with all the end of school year activities and all my efforts have gone to waste – sort of.  My weight is up to 169, but that is only 2 lbs. and I am very aware of the health of the food that is going into my mouth if not the quantity!

Today I made Diane’s breakfast muffins – and again I moved too slowly to photograph them!  I find it humbling to see how quickly my girls gobble up good healthy food.  They loved these despite the oats which I thought would put them off…

Try them – they are really good and allegedly can be frozen, but not in my house – they don’t last that long.

Must clean the damn pan next time...

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Would you like that with or without boobs?

I have decided that since I am better endowed than most of my peers and that I don’t mind the size of my boobs, I should take their weight off my overall weight.  So this morning I slapped them on the kitchen scales and I discovered 2 things, first my right boob is 8 oz heavier than the left and between them they weigh roughly 5lbs.  So I don’t really weight 167lbs, I weigh 162lbs.  See, how easy was that to lose a little weight?!    

Weird thing is that I am 17lbs heavier than I was on my wedding day, but I can fit into my wedding dress – except for my boobs – they will not squish into that bodice anymore!  Sad thing is that because of my back, it really is not just about health and appearance any more – it  is about what the scales say…including my boob weight.  

Today I had enough and unsubscribed from Martha Stewart’s cookie-a-day emails.  Really Martha, I am trying to lose weight and you are sending me emails that say, ‘Rocky Ledge Bars  – These delicious bars are loaded with chunks of chocolate, marshmallow, butterscotch, and caramel.’  Enough is enough Martha, I banish you.  

Now if I could just work out what to cook for supper that is clean, good and satisfies everyone’s tastes…yeah, and pigs will fly.  

I think we are going to have this – it looks good and is nice and healthy – I also mysteriously have all the ingredients in the house… It’s from Jen at Girl Heroes.  

Simple Mediterranean Chicken  

I don’t think eating healthy has to be bland and boring all the time.  Granted it’s not cheesy calzones and Fettuccine Alfredo but food doesn’t have to taste like chalk. Or maybe I’ve just trained my taste buds over the years to think sawdust tastes good.  Regardless, here is one of my all time favorite recipes. I’ve messed with the ingredients for over 2 years to get what I think is a perfect mix of flavors.  I ate this chicken ALL THE TIME when I was prepping for my figure competition and I still love it.  I would cook up 8-16 breast and freeze them in baggies.  Then I’d stick them in the toaster oven when I needed them. It’s really simple to make and it’s healthy.  

Simple Mediterranean Chicken  

2.5 lbs of chicken breast (about 8 5oz. breasts)
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil
1 cup Kalamata olives (pitted)
¼ cup pine nuts
1-2 tbs of fresh basil leaves
  

Put tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and basil in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Rub mixture all over chicken breasts leaving a thick layer on top of each breast. Put chicken in an lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.  

Makes 8 servings.  

Approximately 230 calories, 35 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fat (it’s good fat!)  

Serve with palm sized portion brown rice and a big old pile of steamed veggies or on second thought who wants to eat “old” veggies?  Nasty. Veggies are already hard enough to get down.  If you prefer, a huge salad with balsamic vinegar also goes well with this chicken. You will probably want to pass on an oil based dressing b/c of the fat from the nuts and olive oil in the chicken.  

    

Update:  We did have it and it was delicious!  However Niamhy didn’t eat it, because she hates peanuts…THEY WERE PINE NUTS NIAMHY, P.I.N.E.  sheesh…..  

Jojo wouldn’t eat it because the chicken was ‘pink’ and she doesn’t trust me..it was not pink and at times like that she is wise not to trust me…..  

So here is a photo of my raw chicken and peanut surprise….  

smothered breasts, better than a photo of my 5lb. breasts

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