Category Archives: Mains

Oven-baked Bolognese

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This bolognese sauce is my new addiction. My friend Corinne made dinner for the kids and I last week saying “We’re just having bolognese, I’ll bring some over.” But there’s nothing “just” or ho-hum about this bolognese, which is hinted at by its somewhat random ingredients list, and twice cooked methodology. But man, is it worth it. Corinne’s bolognese is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. I think perhaps she was well aware of our family’s penchant for Weetbix and porridge dinners, especially when dad’s away. But we so appreciated her kindness in sharing with us some of what she and her family were having for dinner that night, which just so happened to be amazingness masquerading as ordinary. To me, this best ever bolognese is called Bacony Kindness Bolognese, and I thank God for my friend and for hers. First published by Delicious Magazine, (photo credit too) this lovely gluten free and freezer friendly recipe costs under $20 to make and easily serves 10.

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g bacon, any kind, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g each beef and pork mince
  • 2 cups (500ml) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry red wine (I just use a cheap clean skin)
  • 800g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500ml) beef stock (I use powdered, but use a gluten free variety if needed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until it starts to crisp. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef and pork mince and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned.
  3. Add the milk and nutmeg and simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the milk evaporates. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until combined, then add the wine and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stock and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, then cook in the oven for 2 hours or until thickened and reduced. Skim any fat from the surface, then serve with pasta.

Carrot & Tomato Soup

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Carrot & Tomato SoupMum & Dad's View

Last week our family came home from holidays with a gastro bug, my dear husband suffering the worst of it. Overwhelmed and tired after a terrific break, but a long return journey, we were feeling rather ordinary and just so thankful to be home. Our weary hearts were made even more thankful by the countless expressions of care we received – more than one friend brought meals around for the days ahead in Vomit Land and we had countless offers to pick up milk and food for us, as well as prayers offered to our Heavenly Father on our behalf. On one hand, things like this happen pretty frequently among all sorts of people, but I’m still just struck by the fact that these kinds of everyday miracles are just how God rolls. Whether or not we realise it, he cares for us and provides what we need through the people he’s made us to be. In his letter to the scattered early church, James writes:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:7

God is good, though it’s sometimes hard for me to see. He doesn’t change, he isn’t moody and I don’t need to catch him at a good time. He gives good and perfect gifts. One of them was this flavoursome and refreshing soup provided that night by our friends Ben & Renee for my green-feeling husband. It hit the spot. Renee shared the recipe with me which has come in handy this week, cause some of us are sick again, this time with colds and flus. Oh well, that’s life. But this yummy comfort food is also just what we feel like at the moment: It’s autumn, the weather has turned crisp and the kids and I are using up some school holidays visiting family in the Snowy Mountains (check out the view!). Not a bad time and place to be sick and snuggly with soup. This recipe is freezer friendly and a great option for those with special dietary needs (just use gluten free stock and leave out the cream if need be), and cheap to cook costing less than $5 to make more than 2L. We’re having it tonight with oven-ready bread and real butter. Thanks, Ben & Renee for the soup, and much more. 

  • 125g butter (half a block)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g bag carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I use powdered, reconstituted with water)
  • salt, pepper and pinch of sugar
  • cream for drizzling, if desired
  1. In a large soup pot melt butter and saute onion until golden. Add carrots and cook until soft and golden (this preliminary cooking step add lots of extra flavour to the end result).
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cream) to the carrot, butter and onion mixture, and simmer for 45 mins.
  3. Blend with a stick blender in the cooking pot and serve with or without drizzled cream and crusty, buttery bread. Serves 8.

Cheesy Chorizo and Potato Bake

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Chorizo and potato bake

Recently my friend Ruth and I have found ourselves sitting together in the stands at basketball a couple of afternoons a week, watching our boys play and getting to know each other while talking food, kids, faith and life in general. She recently shared a couple of recipes with me, the first of which was this lovely Spanish take on the old Potato Bake. Our whole family really liked it as a main meal, though my husband enjoyed pairing it with leftover pulled pork for lunch for a number of days afterward as well. Chorizos are frequently on half-priced special at the Woolworth’s deli, and when they are I tend to buy lots at once and freeze them in pairs, which makes each bundle about 200g, just the amount needed for this recipe. Even when using full-priced Chorizo this yummy dinner costs less than $10 to make and serves 6, even more when serving as a side dish. Thanks for sharing this lovely wintery recipe, Ruth.

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 200g chorizo sausage, sliced

• 1 red onion, sliced

• 1 red capsicum

• 1 kg potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced

• 1 cup cream

• 200g grated cheese – any is fine, but Gouda, Edam or Cheddar work well

• salt and pepper to taste

• Paprika, for sprinkling

1. Heat oil in a fry pan and fry chorizo, onion and capsicum together until golden and soft.

2. Overlap half the potato slices in the base of a large quiche or lasagna dish.

3. Layer with half the chorizo mixture, half the cream and half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Repeat layers with all ingredients except other half of the cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake at 200°C for 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

6. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake a further 30 minutes until golden brown.

7. Serve sprinkled with paprika if desired.

Cauliflower Bake

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Cauliflower Bake PlatedCauliflower Bake

Well here in Australia, my favourite season – winter – has arrived. For me, winter is all about boots and soft socks, jackets, warm jumpers, snuggly evenings on the couch and having people over to enjoy comfort food. The downside is only that these yummy dishes are often carb-heavy and and high in fat, and well, over the course of winter, the old jeans can get a bit tight. So I thought I’d share this recipe with you cause it’s been getting a bit of a workout at our place lately and while it’s definitely a treat-like comfort food (it’s no low-calorie salad!), it is very low carb. And it’s so versatile – we use it as a side as well as a main and the whole family devours it. It’s also great for lunches made on Sunday afternoons for the working week ahead or as an easy meal to give away. This yummy, wintery dish that serves 15 people as a side, 8+ as a main, costs $28 to make if you buy your cauliflower and all the other ingredients from a supermarket (I’ve calculated this based on current Woolworth’s pricing), but almost half that if you’ve got time to swing past a fruit and veg shop. Similarly, Coles has recently released an excellently priced and packaged You’ll Love Coles cream cheese product, and streaky bacon from Aldi is always a good price. A little shopping around makes the whole meal quite affordable. Happy winter, everyone!

  • 2 heads fresh cauliflower
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 bunch spring onions sliced finely, white stalk to mid-green length (chuck away dark green part)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated finely
  • 10 slices of streaky bacon (though any kind is fine), fried off and crumbled
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Boil the cauliflower covered in water in a large pot. Drain the water completely and mash to a pulp in the pot you cooked it in.
  2. Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, spring onions, parmesan and ¾ of the bacon.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly into a large lasagne dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and reserved bacon. Bake for 30-35 mins until hot and bubbly. Enjoy!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Red Onion, Cheddar and Bacon Muffins

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baconcheddarmuffins

Although I hear that some people don’t like bacon, to me, it’s a food group all of its own, along with Diet Coke and good coffee. What follows is another delightful recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the third and final in this series for summer hospitality and easy back to school non-sandwich lunches. These cheesy, bacony, and very pretty muffins are fluffy and so eatable. The recipe below produces 12 and costs less than $6 to make.

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 100g streaky bacon, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, finely diced (I used a regular brown one)
  • 250g wholemeal self-raising flour (I used plain white flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 200ml buttermilk (replace with yoghurt, sour cream or ordinary milk if need be)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives (optional, I like chives so put in 3 tablespoons)
  • 150g strong cheddar, grated
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
  2. Warm the oil over a medium heat and fry the bacon in it until just crisp. Lift the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. In the same fat, sauté the onion until just softened, about five minutes, then set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  4. In a jug, whisk the eggs, butter and buttermilk, stir them into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined, then fold in the cooled bacon, onion, chives, if using, and two-thirds of the cheese until just evenly distributed.
  5. Spoon or scoop the mixture into the muffin tins, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, and bake for about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Carrot, Spinach, Cumin (and Fetta) Muffins

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cumin muffins

fetta

Having more of a savoury than a sweet tooth, I’ve long enjoyed a good savoury muffin. Aside from the wide variety of possibilities when it comes to flavour, they are a terrific option any time of year – another alternative to sandwiches for kids heading back to school, or a yummy accompaniment to a BBQ dinner or a bowl of soup (with a bit of real butter on the side too). They can also be a just meal of their own. Savoury muffins are healthy, tasty, filling, very forgiving when you have to fudge the quantities, inexpensive, and best of all, freezer friendly. I love how easy it is to grab one of these from the freezer, and place once more in a warm oven for 5 minutes – bringing them pretty much back to newly baked awesomeness. Julie Morrow has contributed a couple of wonderful recipes that you’re sure to enjoy, each first published by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in The Guardian Australia. She suggests, and I wholeheartedly agree, adding 100g of fetta to the top of each muffin, and my hot tip for this (discovered by my thrifty husband Steve) is the Coles brand of Marinated Danish Fetta – pictured above. It’s EXACTLY the same as the South Cape variety (even the jar is the same), but costs $5.40 per jar, as opposed to almost $12). First up from Julie are these fluffy, moist, flavoursome and vegetarian friendly babies. This recipe makes 12 and costs less than $5.

  • 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 10g for frying
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 150g spinach, tough stalks removed and very finely shredded (I used baby spinach salad greens)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 275g whole milk yoghurt (but sour cream, diet yoghurt or regular cream will do)
  • 150g carrots, grated
  • 100g fetta cheese
  • 40g pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional, I used sesame instead)
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
  2. Warm the 10g of butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin, stir for a minute, then add the spinach and stir until wilted and soft. Cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  5. In a jug, whisk the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour and stir with a spatula until just combined.
  6. Fold in the cooled onions and spinach, the carrots and seeds.
  7. Spoon into the cases crumble the fetta evenly atop each portion.
  8. Bake for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Bolognese Pasta Lunch Muffins (or a low-bar, guilt free alternative to sandwiches for bored kids and parents)

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Bolognese Lunch Muffins

Unless you’ve been living under rock, you’d know that the last week (at least in Australia) has been all about back to school. And for some precious little ones its meant heading to school for the first time. I’m not generally a sentimental kind of person but there’s something about it all that makes my heart stop and pause as the page of life turns. All this, as well as the good holiday break, somehow gives me at least a small spurt of energy for school lunches at the beginning of the year. Now generally, all those posts in the blogosphere about how to make school lunches organic, healthy, fun, dinosaur shaped and immaculately presented for our little idols, I mean, children – send me into a tailspin. And I’m glad to have mostly avoided them this back to school season. But level-headed suggestions from level-headed friends are always welcome and this recipe brings together two that recently came my way: one friend mentioned she feeds her kids pasta for lunch because it’s more filling than sandwiches and much easier to prepare in batches. Another suggested this recipe she found in Fresh Magazine at Woolworth’s. These pasta ‘muffins’ were painless to make, froze and thawed out well (so you can get a good fortnights worth done at once) and cost around the same price to make than the same number needed of ham and cheese sangas, approximately $5 for 24. I’m sure when the kids are tired of these we’ll head back to sandwich land, but these yummy numbers (adapted a little – I left out all the veggies) are a welcome option around here.

  • 500g macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 large 700g jar home brand passata
  • 1 cup grated carrot (optional)
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (optional)
  • 2 eggs lightly whisked
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line 2 x 12 hole muffin tins with paper cases.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the cheese in a bowl, and divide mixture evenly among muffin holes. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Top each muffin of pasta with grated cheese, using it all up.
  4. Bake in oven for 15 mins or until cheese has melted. Allow to cool before freezing them ready for school each day.