Rainbow Steak

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If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this earlier in the week when I originally made it.

It was a roaring success – it tasted EXACTLY like the version we get from our favourite takeaway place, but without all the deep-fried-ness (they deep-fry the steak). Rainbow Steak is Hubby’s favourite takeaway dish, and this passed muster – he gave it 5 stars 🙂

Don’t be scared off by the ingredient list – it looks long and involved, but this is actually really easy to make. The original recipe came from here, but I adjusted it a bit. I used half the amount of meat, but heaps of veges. I also halved the amount of sugar in the sauce.
Also to note – the 1/2 capsicums didn’t go to waste, I used the rest a few days later in another stir fry. You can just use one colour of capsicum if you want, but it won’t look as pretty and colourful. I got a 3-pack of different coloured ones on special at the vege shop 🙂

Serves: 6 (with rice)

Ingredients:

  • 300g steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks (about the same size as capsicum slices)
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Marinade for steak

  • 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Sauce

  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar

Method:

  1. Slice steak and mix together the marinade ingredients. Marinate the meat for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat wok over high heat with a little oil, and cook steak in batches until just browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Cook carrots until beginning to soften, then add capsicum and onion. Cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
  5. Return meat to wok, add sauce and simmer for a few minutes (until heated through and slightly thickened).

Like just about everything I make, this freezes well.

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Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole

You can’t really see the casserole too well – you can just spy it at the top of the bowl, near the fork.

This is really easy to make, and freezes well, so you can have it ready in the freezer for whenever you have a taco craving!

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 cup dried beans, soaked and precooked (use whatever beans you like. I used half black beans and half black-eyed beans)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 tbsp chunky salsa + extra for topping
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Whatever toppings you want! (I used cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, and some extra salsa)

Method:

  1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat with a little oil of your choice (my personal preference is rice bran oil). Cook mince until mostly browned, then add onions and cook until they are translucent.
  2. Reduce heat to med-low. Add tinned tomatoes, stock, taco seasoning, salsa, beans and corn. Stir and bring to boil.
  3. Add rice and bring to boil again, then reduce heat to low. Cook (covered) for 30mins (or until rice is cooked through), stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Rice dries out the older it gets, so if you’ve had your rice for a while (i.e. 6mths+) it will likely take longer than the 30mins.
  4. Serve with whatever toppings you like.

NB: Freezes well

After I made this, we ate it 3 times in the same week! It passed the “Hubby test”, and he gave it 5 stars 🙂 I will be making this again very soon, and I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the finished product before I put toppings on.

Budget Tip!
If meat is too expensive (or you’re vegetarian) you can replace the beef mince with an additional cup of dried beans without losing much in the way of flavour.
Vegetarian note – I use Massel brand stock cubes, which are gluten & dairy free as well as being vegan. They are “beef style” and “chicken style”, but do not contain any animal products – the taste and colour of the different stocks is created using herbs and vegetable extracts.

~K

Tips for Eating Cheap

My Mum is the QUEEN of cheap eating, and she’s taught me how to do it too – so I’d like to pass a bit of that wisdom on to all of you!

Eating cheaply does not mean eating boring!
Cheap eating does not have to be the same thing day in, day out. There are quite a lot of things you can make for very cheaply that use the same ingredients, put together in different ways.

Herbs & spices are a godsend
Herbs and spices are reasonably cheap, and can turn a meal of something like rice and beans from boring to awesome! Different spice combinations can make the same base ingredients taste like a meal from anywhere in the world, which makes meals a lot less boring. Eg – a bit of tomato paste and some italian herbs can turn beans and rice can turn it into something akin to a stuffed capsicum, or add a bit of curry powder and cornflour and make a curry sauce! Beans and rice easily take on the flavour of whatever they are cooked with, so using stock instead of water to cook them can give them a bit of flavour as well.

Rice, beans, and frozen veges are your friends
So you all know about the rice and beans – but the way I’m talking about is not how you’re used to hearing it. Use legumes and grains to extend your meat (e.g. add beans to taco mince, add cooked lentils or barley to casseroles, put both in soups – there’s more, but that’s some ideas), as well as without meat.
NB: On their own, most legumes (beans, lentils, peas) are not complete proteins. However, grains contain the missing amino acids, so eating them together means that your body can make better use of the protein. Hence the beans-and-rice combo.
If you’re making something that is served with rice (e.g. curried sausages), mix the rice and sauce together before you serve it. This means you can make the meal stretch further, because even though you’ve made more rice, mixing it in together with the sauce first makes it look like you’re getting more food. I think it is because you are looking at a big bowl of something all the same colour, not a little blob of something on top of the rice.
Frozen veges are awesome – they keep FOREVER, they’re just as good as the fresh ones (often better, because they are frozen at peak ripeness), and they’re usually pre-chopped! I always have 3 different bags of frozen veges (corn only, peas only, corn peas & carrot mix), because they are absolutely the most versatile things you can have. They mix well with anything! Add them to literally everything, they’ll extend the meal as well as making it healthier.

Meal planning is the bomb
It may seem like a pain, and I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, but meal planning really DOES save money. I never used to do it when I first moved out, because it just seemed like way too much effort – but after I started doing it, I was amazed how easy it actually was!
It enables you to buy only what you need, so you don’t have food going gross in the pantry/fridge because you didn’t eat it. It also means you can plan ahead a bit, and incorporate a bit of variety into your meals. You can plan to buy a big bag of something this week, which will last a few weeks and frees up a couple of dollars next week for something else.

You really do need freezer space
The best thing you can invest in for cheap cooking is not a slow cooker – it’s a decent free-standing freezer. I have a little bar-fridge-sized freezer in addition to my fridge-with-attached-freezer, and it’s the main thing that makes it so I can keep my meal costs down. It means that you can cook a meal and freeze the extras, so you don’t need to eat the same thing for 3 days straight before it goes off. It’s also often easier and cheaper to cook a meal that serves 4+ people than it is to cook a meal just for one person. You’ll also want to invest in a big pack of those plastic ‘chinese containers’ (you know, the ones that food from chinese take-aways come in). The 6ooml size easily fits a one person serve, and they stack nicely in the freezer. If you’re squeamish about reheating food in them, just get a couple of glass containers with microwave-safe lids.

That said, I do love my slow cooker
Having one means that you can buy the cheaper cuts of meat (particularly red meat) and still make it edible. They’re also great for turning dried beans into perfect-texture cooked ones (except kidney beans. You need to boil those, and a slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough).
A slow cooker is also a god-send for if you are both time- and cash-poor. While you’re doing dinner the night before, you can prep all the ingredients for the next day’s slow cooker recipe (only 1 lot of dishes required!) and chuck it all in the fridge overnight. Then the next morning, dump everything in and let the cooker run while you’re at work/uni/home-but-busy and when dinner time comes around, voila! You have a large pot of something yummy ready to go.
NB: Bigger is not always better for a slow cooker, particularly if you are only feeding 1 or 2 people. A slow cooker needs to be at least 1/2 full to work properly, so get a smaller one (3L-ish) if you aren’t feeding a large group on a regular basis (or plan on making lots of really big stews/soups/roasts). I have a big 6.5L one and a smaller 3L one, and the 3L definitely gets a better workout than the big one – I only use the big one if I’m making big pot of something for a get-together or similar. The 3L is our everyday cooking item.
You can still cook slow-cooked meals without an actual slow cooker, but most of those methods use the stove/oven, which means that you can’t necessarily leave the house while it’s cooking.

As promised in my post last month about meal planning, I will be doing a list of my pantry staples VERY SOON. Hopefully ready for next week’s Tutorial Tuesday (fingers crossed!)

~K

 

Breakfast Burritos

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These are a great, high-protein breakfast. You make them and freeze them, then reheat in the microwave in the morning.

If you don’t like the look of my recipe, or you want some other ideas, just google “breakfast burritos”. You’ll seriously come up with a million different ideas, these things seem to be very popular.

I’m still working out the best way to wrap them so that they’re easy to reheat – I’ve heard of microwave-safe plastic wrap from American cooking blogs, but I can’t find the stuff over hear in Australia, so I’m still playing around. I’ve found that using baking paper is great for microwaving, but I’ve had trouble with freezer burn because it doesn’t seal quite so well. Alfoil and plastic wrap are easy at the packaging end, but a bit of a pain at the reheating end of things. If anyone has a suggestion, I’d be happy to hear it!

The amounts in this recipe will make 6 burritos

Ingredients:

Standard Ingredients (for me):

  • 1 cup taco mince
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (cooked – this is about 1/4 cup dry ones. Just make sure you cook them correctly)
  • 1/4 cup chunky tomato salsa
  • 6 eggs (1 per tortilla)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • 6 tortillas (depending on how many you will be making)

Other stuff:

Add anything else you would like! Often I add a couple of cubes of frozen spinach to the pan and defrost them before I add the eggs, but I didn’t have any left this time. You can LITERALLY put anything into these. Some of my common additions:

  • sausages – I boil them then dice them up, and cook them in the pan so they get a bit toasty on the outside
  • spinach – a couple of cubes of frozen spinach goes really well with the eggs
  • any “mexican-style” filling can replace the taco mince – mine are generally taco or chicken enchilada mix, because that’s what I make a lot of
  • avocado – haven’t tried this when freezing them (only when making fresh, or putting them in the fridge for the next day), but it does taste very good
  • refried beans
  • rice
  • roasted potatoes (make them small cubes before roasting for best results)
  • roasted sweet potato (see above)
  • capsicum (I think Americans call them “peppers”)
  • BACON

The list could go on. That’s just the things I’ve personally put in mine before.

Method:

  1. Sort out your mince/meat mixture: Put the taco mince, tomatoes, beans & salsa in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Next, the eggs: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk (you’re making scrambled eggs essentially). Season to taste. Heat a pan over medium heat, and cook your eggs until they’re just cooked. You don’t want to let them get dry, or they’ll be chewy when you reheat your burrito. Remove egg pan from heat once they’re cooked, and stir through cheese.
  3. Spoon all your fillings into your tortillas, then wrap and freeze.

PS the wrapping takes a bit of a knack, don’t worry if they don’t look as pretty as the ones you see on Pinterest – they’re not going to be that way for long anyway, you’re going to be eating it before anyone gets to see it in the “pretty” state.

There are 2 ways that I generally heat these up – either in the microwave or the sandwich toaster. If you’re using the microwave, just make sure whatever wrapping you use is microwave-safe (or just unwrap it). Ditto the sandwich toaster, but if your burrito is still frozen it may not heat through properly without burning on the outside.

~K

Easy Stewed Apples

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This is the recipe for stewed apples that my Nan makes to put in apple pie, so I learned how to make this when I was about 4 years old.

I’ve never made stewed apples any other way, and it’s sooooo yummy 🙂

I got 2kg of “ugly apples” at the shops this week for quite cheap – they were not so nice for eating normally, so I decided to cook them up instead.

Makes: a lot – 2kg is usually enough to fill 2 family-sized apple pies.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 kg of apples (any sort)
  • 1L water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • cinnamon (as much as you like)

Method:

  1. Peel, core, & dice all the apples. You want the pieces to be approx 2cm square (1/2 inch). This will take a while, put on a tv show or something while you do it. A good thing to do is to have 2 large bowls in front of you, 1 for the diced apples and 1 for the rubbish.
  2. Once you’ve diced your apples, put them in a large-ish pot. I usually use a 2.5L pot for 1.5kg of apples (If I have more apples, I’ll use my big 5L soup pot). Add the water, sugar & cinnamon to pot, and stir gently. The water will not cover the apples completely, it doesn’t need to.
  3. Cover pot and bring to boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft enough for your liking. I usually cook mine until they’re about the texture of tinned pears.
  4. Take pot off heat and allow to cool for about 15mins, then drain off the water. Apples can now be used for whatever you like!

This recipe freezes well, I like to freeze the apples in muffin trays (see this post for instructions) so that I’ve got convenient 1/3 cup serves of the apples to add to porridge or whatever. They’re also great to eat on their own like you would with normal tinned fruit.

I’ve successfully used these in recipes that call for “tinned pie apples” – just use the amount stated in the recipe.

One of my favourite desserts is some the apples, heated up, with a little bit of vanilla ice-cream – tastes like apple pie, but without all the fuss 🙂

If you want to use the apples for pie/crumble, cook them a little less so they keep their shape and texture once baked.
If you are wanting to make this into apple sauce, leave out the cinnamon and sugar and blend/mash up the apples once you’ve drained them.

~K

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake

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I’d already started dishing up before I remembered I should take a photo! Oops…
Also, the picture is of the batch I made when I didn’t have any frozen peas, so it doesn’t have them in it. The other two batches of this I’ve made over the last 2 months had peas (anything to up the vege content!)
It also tastes fine without the bacon (ran out of bacon the last time I made it), if for whatever reason bacon is off the list.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 250g dry pasta (I generally use spirals or penne)
  • 500g diced chicken
  • 1 brown onion (or a leek if you’re feeling fancy)
  • 3 bacon rashers
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 tbsp chives
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Cook pasta until tender and drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat. Cook chicken until browned, then transfer into a heatproof bowl.
  3. Add onion (or leek), bacon and garlic to pan and cook until onion (leek) is softened. Return chicken to pan, and add stock cube and 1 cup of cold water. Bring to simmer, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through.
  4. Stir in sour cream, corn, peas, and chives. Add pasta to pan and toss/stir to combine. Pour/spoon mixture into an 8-cup baking dish and top with grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 30mins or until golden on top.

NOTE – I use a large frying pan for this, and it is JUST big enough to combine the pasta and chicken mix before transferring to the baking dish. If you are worried about your pan not being big enough, use a bigger pot for the pasta and combine it in that, or even in the baking dish itself.

This got the 5-star approval from Hubby 🙂 This recipe freezes well, so is great for bulk-cooking.

“Hidden Veg” variation
If your kids/partner/siblings/housemates/whatever will eat veges if they’re covered in a creamy cheesy sauce, just add diced/small bits of whatever to the recipe. Carrots, broccoli, peas, beans, corn, and cauliflower work best in my experience. You don’t really want to use potato, because there’s already carbs from the pasta, and pumpkin and sweet potato tend to just turn to orange mush.
If they’re prone to picking out veges whenever they find them, cook up half a cauliflower, mash it to death (even use a blender!) and add it at the same time as the sour cream. They’ll never even know it’s there!

~K

Beef Stroganoff

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This is an easy one to make, and it contains heaps of veges 🙂 This is a favourite in our house!

Serves: 8 (If you have big eaters, you may only get 5-6 serves. Neither myself or Hubby are big eaters)

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef strips
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 450g jar roasted capsicum, sliced (or 2 fresh red ones)
  • 200g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Method:

  1. Toss beef with flour and paprika to coat. Allow to sit while prepping other ingredients.
  2. Heat fry pan over med-high heat, and cook beef until just browned. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook onion and garlic until softened, then add other veges. Cook until mushrooms are softened.*
  4. Return beef to pan and add stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Add sour cream and stir through, then remove from heat.

*If you are using fresh capsicum, add them when you add the onion.

This can be served with just about anything – I usually do it with pasta, but you can also use potatoes, rice, quinoa, couscous, just about ANYTHING that vaguely resembles a white carbohydrate!

Make sure that you do follow the directions as they are – if you don’t brown the beef then set it aside to rest, it can get VERY tough and chewy, particularly if you are saving money and getting the cheaper cuts of meat.

This freezes well, but the sauce can sometimes separate a little during the defrosting process (this is due to the sour cream).

~K

Chicken Lasagne

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This was the first time I’d made lasagne myself – and as much as the recipe said to use a 2L dish, I think I will be using a larger one next time – this is a 2L dish, and it BARELY fitted!

Very yummy recipe, not a quick cook, but reasonably easy. If you don’t feel up to personally making the white sauce, buy a bottle of Béchamel from the supermarket and use that.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500g chicken mince
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 400g mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 packet of lasagne sheets (fresh or instant – whatever you prefer)

White Sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup (25g) finely grated parmesan, with extra to top lasagne

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)
  2. Heat a little oil in a largish pan, and cook onion and garlic until onion is softened. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, and sugar, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) for 5mins. Stir in basil, then pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook mushrooms and zucchini in the pan until softened. While you’re doing this, start the white sauce.
  4. White Sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 mins, still stirring. Season to taste. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
  5. Line base of ovenproof dish with lasagne sheets, trimmed to fit (as much as possible). Top with 1/3 of chicken mixture, half the vege mix, and 1/2 the white sauce. Put down another layer of lasagne sheets, top with half the remaining chicken mix, then the remainder of the vege mix. Put down a final layer of lasagne sheets, remainder of the chicken and as much white sauce as it takes to thickly cover the lasagne without overflowing the pan. Top with additional parmesan.
  6. Put ovenproof dish on a cookie sheet before placing in oven.* Cover dish with foil, and bake for 20mins, then uncover and bake for a further 30mins (or until lightly browned). Stand for 10mins before serving.

*This will catch any over-spill that might happen during cooking, and it’s much easier to clean a tray than it is to clean the bottom of the oven.

As is typical of lasagne, it is almost impossible to serve it up nicely while it is hot. This is what happened to my serve:

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Can anyone say lasagne splook?

If you let it cool in the fridge overnight, it serves very nicely!

This also freezes well (both cooked and uncooked). Freeze it uncooked if you’re pre-cooking for a large family, and freeze after cooking and portioning if there’s only a couple of you. Or, split it into multiple smaller dishes! (e.g. 3x 1L dishes for 2-serve lasagnes, or make baby ones in 500ml ramekins!)

~K

Garlicky Lemon Chicken

I once again forgot to take a photo of this… but I’ll try to remember next time I make it, and update the post 🙂

This was a new recipe, and it’s a hit! So quick and easy, and sooooo tasty! 1 portion of the recipe ingredients will coat up to about 2 breast fillets worth of chicken (3-4 serves with sides). If you’re feeding more people, just double it.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (diced/fillets, breast/thigh, whatever floats your boat)
  • 2 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 3 gloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

Method:

  1. Put chicken in pan, along with all other ingredients. Cook on med-high heat until done.

It really is that easy. This will also freeze well once cooked.

Simple, but oh-so-good. The recipe comes from the “Australian Women’s Weekly Superfast Recipes” cookbook.

~K

Zucchini Slice


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This is how I used one of the enormous zucchini I got this month.

It’s a fairly easy one to make, and it tastes good. It’s great to have in the fridge for lunches.

You can make it as a slice, or in muffin tins for easy pre-portioned serves. The other benefit of making it in a muffin tray is that all of the pieces have nice crispy cheesy edges 🙂 I made this batch in a slice pan because my muffin pans were in use at the time.

*Edit* I ended up eating all of this, Hubby didn’t have a single piece. He’s not a big fan of quiche-like things, so I guess he didn’t even bother trying it. Wuss.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bacon rashers, diced
  • 4-5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup grated cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease baking pan or muffin tray.
  2. Fry bacon until browned and slightly crispy. Cool slightly.
  3. Combine bacon, zucchini, carrot, cheese, and flour in a bowl. Add eggs and milk, and mix until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and level the surface. Bake for 30 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cheese is nicely browned. Stand in pan for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These will also freeze well 🙂 It’s easy to make these vegetarian, by leaving out the bacon.

~K