Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Catch Up Recipes From Last Week

From Dinners, Dishes and Desserts, one of our meals last week was Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Red Onion Pizza. It was delicious!  The only changes I made from the original recipe was to use the olive oil from roasting the garlic, instead of butter, to make the roux for the white sauce and I didn't have any thyme so I used Italian seasoning instead. I also divided the Parmesan cheese and put about 2/3 in the sauce and sprinkled the rest on the top of the pizza. I put onions on only half the pizza as the boys don't really care for them and I put extra cheese on their half. The recipe says six servings but we got three, plus one extra piece, and Larry and I both had salad with it.

Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb White Pizza
Recipe and photo courtesy
of Dinners, Dishes and Desserts

The other recipe I owe you is for Mince Rolls. Interestingly, Mince Rolls are unique to Dundee. If you go any where else in Scotland and try to order one, the server will look at you like you are crazy.  I had my first ever Mince Roll at my local pub. The manager serves food during half time of the weekend football (soccer) matches and this is one of my favourite things he makes. Thank you, Paul, for the wonderful recipe!

Dundee Mince Rolls

1 pound lean steak mince
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 Oxo (bouillon/stock) cubes, crumbled
1 (UK) pint (20 ounces) cold water
Pepper to taste

I take the easy way out and prep the veggies in the food processor.  I chop them all into similar size (biggish) chunks then pulse until they are the size I want. I make them kind of small so the kids don't notice them as much. Paul often uses frozen mixed vegetables and that is just as good, no chopping involved.  Brown the mince over medium heat, add the onion and the crumbled stock cubes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the water and cook for 15 minutes. Add the carrots, peas and potatoes.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.  I like to put it in the crock pot/slow cooker after the meat and onion is browned and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low all day or on high for about 4 hours.  If the meat is too juicy you can thicken it up with gravy mix or corn starch and cold water.  I don't usually need to thicken it.  Serve on rolls.  This makes enough for 8 rolls.

Dundee Mince Roll

Monday, 27 May 2013

Menu Planning Monday

It's Menu Planning Monday so here are the meals I have planned for the week.  I know I still owe you some recipes from last week and I will do a post tomorrow with those to play catch up.  

Buffalo Chicken Wraps with home made Blue Stilton Dressing
Apple slices
Buffalo Chicken Wrap Recipe
Photo courtesy of Eating Well

I didn't make the dressing called for  
in the recipe, I made my own Blue Stilton 
dressing (recipe below). To save
on calories, I will have my wrap 
as a salad, with lots of extra 
vegetables and skip the tortilla.

Crispy Baked Basa  with Tartar Sauce
Potato Salad
Green Salad 

EASY Homemade Corn Dogs from chef-in-training.com ...You will be blown away by how simple and quick these whip up! They are delicious and make the perfect after-school-snack! #recipe #lunch
Recipe and photo courtesy
Chef in Training
Carrot Sticks
Chips (Fries)

Not really the healthiest of meals but a treat for my boys.  Corn dogs aren't known over here in Scotland and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I am following some of the tips and cutting the hot dogs in half, skipping the skewers and using honey in the batter instead of sugar.

Recipe and photo courtesy
Chocolate Broccoli
Sauteed Cabbage
Green Beans

Crustless Quiche
Toasted Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Larry and I have a wedding party to go to tonight so it is just something easy for the boys.  I have some cooked shredded chicken breast in the freezer and I am going to put some barbecue sauce on it and put it on rolls.

BBQ chicken on Rolls 
Crisps (potato chips)

The boys are eating at their Dad's tonight.  It will be an easy cooking night because I will just heat up some leftovers.  If there are no leftovers then we will have fried eggs with sharp cheddar cheese on rolls. 

The Blue Stilton Dressing recipe is a revamped recipe I found online.  I cut back on the mayonnaise and the cheese and I think it is just as good for less calories.  The trick is to use a good quality cheese for the sharpest flavour, which is what allows you to get by with less. Once you start making your own salad dressings, and discover how easy it is, you will never go back to the chemical laden store bought!

Blue Stilton Dressing

3/4 cup sour cream 
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise (I used Helmann's Light)
3 ounces (divided) of good quality Blue cheese, Stilton, or Gorgonzola, what ever you like.

In a medium mixing bowl beat together, sour cream, spices and Worcestershire sauce for about two minutes. Add the mayo and 2 ounces of the cheese, crumbled.  Mix for another two minutes or so, until the cheese is pretty well incorporate.  Add the last ounce of cheese, crumbled, and mix again until the dressing reaches your desired texture. We like some chunkiness. Chill in a covered container for at least 8 hours to blend the flavours.

Blue Stilton Dressing

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Crock Pot Refried Beans and Enchilada Sauce

My laptop was in the shop yesterday . . . so not good. I could do almost everything on my phone but I couldn't write a blog post so yesterday's post had to wait until today. Fortunately the computer only needed a new jack for the power cord. And, the computer guy was nice enough to clean the fans while he had it open so now my computer doesn't sound like a jet taking off.  

Yesterday was a milestone day for my son, Cameron.  He had his last exam and is now officially done with secondary education.  He has been offered a place at the University of St Andrews for the term starting in October 2014. We all are very proud of him.  

Last night for dinner we had bean and cheese burritos baked in the oven, smothered with home made enchilada sauce. If you were to order these in a restaurant they would be called "Wet Burritos". They were delicious and so filling. I was stuffed with one and Larry and Connor managed one and a half each. You could put less filling in each and make more of them, but I try to limit the "bread" so I use more filling and only have one tortilla. I made eight, so that left one and a half for Cameron for his lunch today, one for Larry for his lunch today, and one and a half for Connor to have for his Sunday dinner because he doesn't care for mince rolls. I cut up some Granny Smith apples too and we all had more than enough to eat.

"Wet" Bean Burritos

To make the burritos:

8 flour tortillas
refried beans (recipe below)
grated cheese
enchilada sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375f/190c

Heat the beans, put about 1/3-1/2 cup in each tortilla and top with grated cheese.  To roll, fold the two sides in, fold the bottom up to the middle and then bring the top down over that.  Like an envelope.  Line a pan with foil (to make clean up easier) spread some enchilada sauce over the bottom (about a cup) and then put the rolled burritos, seam side down, on top of the sauce. Top with more sauce, about a cup or so, and bake until bubbly, about15 minutes or so.  Top with grated cheese and continue heating until the cheese is melted.  Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with diced onions, salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.

Enchilada Sauce (I doubled it so I could freeze some for another time)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons self raising flour (I don't know why self raising but that is what the original recipe called for so I use it.)
1/4 cup chilli powder, I used half mild and half hot, but we like spicy
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
14 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt if desired

In a saucepan, heat oil, flour and chilli powder until the colour changes to light brown.  Whisk in the rest of the ingredients and cook, while whisking over medium heat, until thickened.  

Enchilada Sauce

Crock Pot "Refried" Beans

1 package (1 pound or 500 grams) of dried pinto beans, washed and soaked overnight.  
8 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup cumin
2 large vegetable stock cubes (to make 4 cups of stock)
1-3 seeded jalapeños, cut in chunks.  Use rubber gloves while you are doing this to protect your skin from the oils.
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in big chunks
1 large red onion, peeled and cut in big chunks
1 tablespoon mild chilli powder

Put the beans along with everything else, except the water, into a crock pot. Add enough water to cover the beans and vegetables. Cook on high for two hours and then put on low until you are ready to serve, at least three hours or, if you are going to be gone all day, cook on low for 8 or more hours.  Use a stick blender to purée the beans and vegetables right in the crock pot or else transfer it to a food processor in batches to do the same.  If you want more texture to your beans you can dice the onions and peppers small before you put them in the crock pot and then use a potato masher to achieve the desired consistency.  This made enough for 8 very full burritos and about 2 cups to freeze for a side dish the next time we have tacos. 

Crock Pot Refried Beans


Monday, 20 May 2013

Menu Planning Monday

OK, Menu Planning Monday is a misnomer. We do the weekly grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday (depends on when Liverpool plays) so I plan my menus on a Thursday. But, the link party is for Menu Planning Monday, so that's the title. It is a good idea to have a menu for the week, I use a desk size diary to keep track of the boys school stuff, birthdays etcetera and the daily menu.  If you can plan for the week, you only shop once so you spend less money in the long run.  It is those little trips into the shops for "just the one thing" that really add up. Now be honest, when was the last time you got only the one thing?

Here is this week's menu. I'm not going to post all the recipes today, that would make this post a little lengthy, but I will post them throughout the week. 


Swedish meatballs with buttered pasta, and garlic green beans for Larry and the boys.  Sautéed cabbage instead of pasta for me.

The Swedish meatball recipe and photo are courtesy of Gina at SkinnyTaste.  

Skinny Taste Swedish Meatballs 

To make the beans heat a dab of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and then add whole green beans. I use frozen beans but I thaw them ahead of time. Sauté until they are cooked until almost done, what ever that is for you. We like them really well done. Add a couple cloves of pressed garlic or a teaspoon of garlic powder. If you add the garlic too early it will burn and become bitter so fight the urge! Add cracked sea salt and pepper and/or chilli flakes if you like spicy. 


Blackened Tuna Steaks with spinach and home made potato salad.   I always have whole green beans, spinach, corn, and peas in the freezer. Carrots, potatoes, celery, cabbage, salad mix, tomatoes and onions are always in the fridge.  Along with rice and pasta, those ingredients are the basis for all the side dishes/vegetables we eat every day.  If you want to eat real food you have to buy real food!  


Bean Burritos, made with home made refried beans (recipe to follow later in the week), carrot sticks and apple slices. I am making the boys Hot Fudge Pie for dessert this week.  The recipe and photo come from IslandEat. They like to eat it warm with vanilla ice cream on top.


Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Red Onion Pizza (recipe to follow later in the week) with salad.


Gourmet Baked Beans on Toast


Date Night, no cooking.


Mince Rolls (recipe to follow later in the week), Chips (oven-baked fries) and Salad.

So, that's the menu for the week along with some of the recipes.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Pork Fried Rice

Today was a fast day so I made an easy pork fried rice loaded with tons of vegetables.  Because the meat is marinated you have to plan a little bit ahead but it is well worth the effort.

Pork Fried Rice

Pork Fried Rice 

Serves 5 at about 400 calories per serving, depending upon what vegetables you use. I used peas, courgette, onion and orange pepper and cooked up some cabbage separately. You could also exchange the pork for beef, chicken or tofu.

For the pork:
400 grams (about 3/4 lb) lean diced pork (or chicken, beef, tofu etc)
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes and/or black pepper to taste

Combine the above and let marinate for at least a few hours.

For the Fried Rice:

2 tablespoons wok oil, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 bunch scallions (green onions) thinly sliced, whites and green tops separate
450 grams (3.5 cups) cold cooked rice
3 cups very small pieces of vegetables of your choice (peas, carrots, shredded cabbage, onion, pepper, courgette (zucchini), etcetera)
1/2 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder
pepper to taste

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large non-stick frying pan. Add the beaten egg, swirl the pan to make a thin even layer and cook until set. Use a spatula to chop the eggs as they cook, remove from the wok and set aside. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil into the wok and add the pork with marinade and the white parts of the scallion and fry until the pork is cooked through. Add the 5 spice powder, stir to combine, then add the last tablespoon of oil along with the veg. Cook just until the vegetables start to soften but aren't soggy. Add the rice, and the egg. Stir until fully combined and cook until hot. Sprinkle the green tops of the scallions over and serve with extra soy sauce on the side, if desired.

We really enjoyed this and it was a very filling meal for not too many calories.

Pork Fried Rice

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Steak and Guinness Pie, Beer Bread and Snickerdoodle Blondies

Today is a grey, wet and dreary day. Or, as they say here in Scotland, it's dreich, pronounced dreek but with a very wet k sound from the back of your throat, like loch. So, we are having some lovely comfort food for tea.  Steak and Guinness Pie, Steamed Carrots and Beer Bread.  Dessert for the boys is Snickerdoodle Blondies with ice cream.  

Steak and Guinness Pie

Steak and Guinness Pie

Oil or butter for browning the steak and onions
750 grams (1.5 lbs) steak cut in chunks, cut off any large bits of fat
1/4 cup seasoned flour I used garlic and chilli seasoning in a grinder which has salt in it too.
2 medium onions, diced
3 beef Oxo (bouillon) cubes
500 ml boiling water
1 can Guinness or any strong flavoured beer
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 package all ready rolled puff pastry or your own recipe
corn starch and water or Bisto granules if desired to thicken gravy
egg wash for pastry

Dredge meat in the seasoned flour and brown in the oil or butter in a hot pan. Don't over crowd the pan or you will steam the meat instead of brown it.  I did mine in three batches.  Remove browned meat to slow cooker/crock pot. Brown the onions, adding more butter or oil if needed, then add to the meat. Pour the boiling water into the pan and add the Oxo cubes. Using a spoon or a scraper to get up all the lovely crispy brown bits, dissolve the Oxo in the water.  Pour over the meat and onions in the crock pot.  Add the beer and seasonings.  I added more chilli and garlic seasoning as well but you could add plain black pepper if that is more to your taste.  We like spicy.  Cook on high heat until the meat is fork tender, about five hours.  I start mine on high for about two hours and then put it on low to continue cooking for the rest of the day. When the meat is tender, thicken the gravy with cornstarch and water, or Bisto granules, if needed. 

There are two ways to finish off your pie.  I pour the hot beef and gravy into a baking dish and cover with pastry.  You can either put one big top on, cutting vents to release steam, or individual rounds of pastry, one for each person. Following the directions on the pastry package, brush with the egg wash and bake the pie in the oven until the pastry is done.  Or, if you want an easier way, cut the pastry into serving size pieces, brush with the egg wash and, again following the directions on the package, bake on a tray until done. Portion the beef and gravy onto plates and top with the baked pastry.  You may wonder why I used small rounds of pastry instead of covering the whole top of the pie. as most would.  Well, there are millions of calories in puff pastry and that is my way of cutting the calories down while still enjoying the pie.

Beer Bread

Beer Bread

375 grams (13 ounces) self-raising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
330 ml (12 ounces) strong flavoured beer of choice 
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Generously butter bottom and sides of a bread pan.

Mix flour and sugar together, add beer and mix until combined. I used a honey ale this time but often I use Guinness.   Pour into buttered pan and let rest for about 30 minutes.  Bake in preheated oven (375f/180c) until browned on top and tester comes out clean. About 50 minutes.  Once you have taken the bread out of the oven, brush with the melted butter while still in the pan. Leave in the pan on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes then remove from the pan and allow to finish cooling. Serve warm with honey butter for a real treat.

Snickerdoodles are just sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking. I'm all for bars over cookies however and decided to try making Snickerdoodle Blondies.  The recipe and photo come from Lisa at My Own Sweet Thyme. They turned out great and we all loved them.  Very sweet though so if/when I make them again I might cut the brown sugar down just a bit.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Yoghurt and Parmesan Baked Basa and Iced Oatmeal Cookies

This week has had some easy meals, hamburgers with chips(fries) and salad, macaroni and cheese with chorizo sausage, beef and bean enchiladas with salad and apple slices, and oven baked Basa with roasted potatoes and carrots.  Dessert for the week is spiced iced oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream. The burgers and enchiladas were fast day meals so I skipped the bun, the chips and the tortilla.  I put my enchilada toppings on salad instead. Yummy!  

I'm going to share the recipes for the Basa and the cookies.  The original Creamy Crunchy Baked Basa recipe and photo are from Kara at Kara's Favourite Recipes.   Basa is a member of the catfish family and is very mild flavoured.  If you can't find it you could substitute regular catfish or any thin white fish fillets you prefer.

Photo credit to Kara Heald

I changed the recipe up a bit because I hate mayonnaise, which I may or may not have mentioned a time or two before.  Here is my version:

Yoghurt and Parmesan Baked Basa

1 pound/500 grams Basa fillets 
1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan plus 1 tablespoon reserved
2 tablespoons softened butter, I used my homemade spreadable butter
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, I used freshly ground
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil 

Preheat oven to 400f/200c

Line a baking dish or tray with foil.  Oil the foil using olive oil or pan spray. Lay the fish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I used garlic and chilli salt that comes in a grater and no extra pepper.  Mix the yoghurt, 1/4 cup parmesan,  butter, basil, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon juice and zest together.  Spread the mixture evenly over the fillets.  Sprinkle the reserved parmesan over the top.  Mix the bread crumbs with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly over the fish.  Bake in heated oven until fish tests done, about 15 minutes.  You can then place the pan under the broiler/grill for a few minutes if you want the crumbs crispier.  

Spiced Iced Oatmeal Cookies 

Preheat oven to 350f/170c

2 cups porridge oats
2 cups flour
2/3 cup dessicated coconut, medium
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups powdered/icing sugar
5 tablespoons milk (or enough to make the icing drizzleable . . . yes that's a word)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, pulse the oatmeal until it is a coarse meal, not finely ground.   You want to be able to tell it's oats.  Mix the processed oatmeal with the flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each addition until fully incorporated. Beat another couple of minutes until pale golden.  Beat in the dry ingredients. Drop rounded balls of dough, about a heaping tablespoon, onto a greased cookie sheet/baking tray.   I use a reusable liner instead of greasing the pan.  Leave plenty of room between the cookies as they will spread a lot.  Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let sit on the pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once the cookies are done cooling you can ice them.  Don't overdo it, you just want a thin layer of icing that will harden.  Once the icing dries, store the cookies in an airtight container.  Because we like fresh cookies, and since I allow the boys only two a day (along with a scoop of ice cream), I usually bake up half the batch and freeze the rest of the dough for another time. Put the remaining icing in a separate bag in with the cookie dough.  Thaw completely before baking.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Fast Day Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Beer Chicken

The original recipe for this came from LaaLoosh.  After reading the reviews, which I always do, I decided to make some changes.  Here is my version of the recipe which you can compare to the original and decide how you want to go.  We really enjoyed this.

Crock Pot Beer Chicken
Photo credit to LaaLoosh

Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Beer Chicken (5 servings with 250 calories per serving, if you eat only one thigh then it will be 150 calories)

1 can Guinness or any beer that has a deep flavour
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons French mixed herbs (mine has rosemary, thyme, savoury, marjoram and basil)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (depends on your tolerance for spice, we really like it)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I didn't add much salt because I planned to thicken the broth with gravy  mix which has a lot of salt in it.)
1/4 cup dried minced onion
10 chicken thighs, skin removed

Mix all the ingredients, except the chicken, in the crock pot.  After mixing add the chicken.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Remove the chicken from the crock and add some boiling water (I added about 2 cups) and enough chicken gravy mix to thicken.  If you prefer, you can use chicken stock and corn starch to make the gravy.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Add the chicken back to the gravy until you are ready to serve.  Optional: remove the bones from the thighs before you return them to the gravy.  I do this because I have Mr. Picky (my son) who hates bones in his chicken.  I served it over mashed potatoes with green beans on the side.  As yesterday was a fast day for me, I had mine over sautéed cabbage instead of mashed potatoes.  Delicious!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Tunisian Cod in Tomato, Olive and Caper Sauce

I have a great fish recipe to share with you today.  The original inspiration and photo came from I'm Counting UFOS

baked cod

Here is my adapted version of the recipe:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 400 gram can of diced tomatoes (just the normal size can in US sizes)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
black olives to taste, quartered, I used about 10 olives
capers to taste, I used about 3 heaping tablespoons
2 Tablespoons Harissa paste
500 grams (1 pound) frozen cod fillets

In a large non-stick frying pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil until lightly browned and then add the tomatoes, vinegar, olives, capers and Harissa paste.  Simmer until the sauce is reduced by about half.  Add the frozen cod, cover, and continue simmering until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes or so.  The added water from the ice glaze on the fish will thin the sauce out so if you want it thicker you can remove the fish and reduce again.  We liked it thinner and I served it over bow tie pasta with a salad on the side.  Larry and I absolutely loved it!  This amount made two dinner and two lunch sized portions.  If you are having this on a fast day, skip the pasta and serve the fish over steamed cabbage or cauliflower.

You can buy Harissa paste in any Asian/Halal/African market.  You can also buy it on line.  If you don't like spicy foods, or can't find it, you can easily replace the Harissa with  chilli flakes, garlic, salt and black pepper to taste.

Harissa is a Tunisian spicy paste made from
red chilis, garlic, coriander and  caraway.