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
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
- 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.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- 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.
- 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.
Friendship has got to be one of the most precious things in life – just one of God’s many graces, but one of his best. A writer I recently stumbled upon, Katherine Sonderegger, says that for her “…friends have turned each day and season into golden joy.” I can’t help but agree. Years ago, a friend texted to ask when we’d be home from our summer holiday. When we arrived home this Penne alla Matriciana was waiting in our fridge, along with a bottle of milk, and the air-con had been switched on for us so we would arrive home to a cool house. A month ago she did much the same thing for us (and countless times in-between), and tonight when I finally tried this recipe for myself, as they always do when my pantry lacks an ingredient, our champion neighbours provided me with what I needed – this time, a tin of tomatoes. So for me, this authentic Italian recipe from Diane Seeds The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, is all about friendship. And it tastes simply out of this world – so much better than any store bought pasta sauce in a jar, because the high cook temperature produces lovely bit of caramelised tomato that end up running throughout the sauce, giving the whole thing a rich and rustic flavour. And this kid-pleasing dish is so cheap and simple to prepare. Make it for friends new or old, using the quantities below and this classic recipe will feed 6 and cost around $6 to make.
- 500g penne pasta (or whatever you prefer)
- 30ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 250g middle bacon, thinly sliced
- 60g parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat the oil and gently fry the chopped onion and garlic until softened, cover the frypan to avoid browning. Add the tomatoes with their juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cook on a high flame, uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce is reduced and thick, check the seasoning and puree roughly with a stick blender. In the same frypan, fry off the bacon and set aside.
- Cook the pasta following the directions on the packet. Drain the pasta and stir the sauce and bacon through with the pasta in its cooking pot. Serve with toppings of grated parmesan and with a salad or garlic bread as desired.
Whether you need a cheap meal for a crowd, or a slack dinner at home or an easy way to satisfy a Zambrero’s-type craving, these yummy Mexican style jacket potatoes are a great choice. They’re wonderful for satisfying other catering needs too: they can easily be served as vegetarian and are wonderfully gluten free too. Cheap to make, easy to whack together and super yummy, 8 of these fat babies with the ingredients pictured cost less than $10 to make and serves 6 people.
- 8 large and clean roasting potatoes
- 300g streaky bacon, chopped finely
- 4 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 lebanese cucumber chopped finely
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped finely
- 1 can corn kernels, drained
- small tub sour cream
- 200g grated cheese
- 1 red or green capsicum, chopped finely
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prick potatoes all over and par-boil in a large pot of water until soft, (the time this takes will depend on the size of potatoes), drain water.
- Place each potato inside a large roasting dish, and using a potato masher, press down gently but firmly on each one until it squashes/smashes nicely. Cover in spray oil and what in the oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
- Organise whatever toppings you’ve decided on – chop and fry bacon and quickly chop up vegetables of choice.
- Take all ingredients to the table and allow friends and family to assemble their potatoes as desired.
I’m a bit of a sucker for macaroni cheese and have loved it since I was a kid. Recently Steve went away for a week for work, which, for the sake of my sanity, proved to be the perfect time to try this recipe – I made it one of the first nights he was away and then the kids and I ate it every night for the rest of the week. Having long loved mac’n’cheese, I think I can safely say this is my favourite version of it – the ‘secret’ ingredient of chicken soup in the cheese sauce takes this family favourite to a new level. If you’ve got left-over barbeque chicken from Sunday lunch, this recipe is a great way to use it up. Quick and simple to make this recipe makes enough to serve 10 and costs around $12 to make.
- 500g uncooked elbow macaroni
- 3 rashers bacon, finely chopped
- 250g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoon plain flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 2 cups grated cheese + 1 cup extra
- 1 onion
- 1 capsicum, diced
- 1 can of corn kernels, drained
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
- Cook bacon, onion and garlic in a large nonstick frypan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to the boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. Add cheese, capsicum, corn kernels, frozen peas and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta, two thirds of cooked bacon and chicken.
- Spoon mixture into a large roasting or lasagne dish coated with a little cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and extra grated cheese. Bake in oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts, but no longer or it will start to dry out.
Zucchini Slice has got to be one of my favourite money saving meals and it gets a regular workout around here in the summer months. Rather than spending money on expensive meat for a barbeque when having people over, I often choose some good quality sausages to cook on the barbie accompanied by Zucchini Slice and a fresh salad. As well as being so affordable, this little number has two other benefits: first, from dicing the onions to chopping the bacon, to whisking the eggs and grating the cheese, it can all be made using various blades of the food processor. Second, it can be made up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge to avoid cooking stress on the day your guests come over. To make this slice, originally from the Women’s Weekly, using the quantities that follow, costs around $6 and serves 6+. The photo above is a double quantity which neatly fits a roasting sized dish.
- 375g zucchini, grated
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 rashers of bacon, sliced or chopped
- 1 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 1/2 cup oil (I use rice bran oil)
- 5 eggs
- salt and pepper
- Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, SR flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.
- Pour into a well-greased or baking paper lined lamington tin 16cm x 26cm, bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned.
The other night I was in need of a quick dinner option that would use what I already had in the fridge/cupboard and save a trip to the shops. Taste.com.au came up with this answer and having never before made Carbonara properly, that is, traditionally – I decided to give it a go. The whole family chowed down on this dinner and asked for more. This yummy ‘sometimes’ dinner would be an easy end to a day gone wrong or a simple, achievable meal for a large group. Total cost $3 and serves 6+. Enjoy!
- 500g spaghetti
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, bruised
- 150g piece pancetta or bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 40g (1/2 cup) grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve
1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 125ml (1/2 cup) cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pancetta, and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until both are light golden. Discard garlic and remove pan from heat.
3. Whisk eggs, parmesan and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper in a bowl (don’t add salt as cooking water and pancetta are salty). Add reserved hot cooking water and whisk until well combined.
4. Return frying pan to medium heat. Working quickly, add hot pasta and toss for 2 minutes or until well coated with oil and pancetta. Remove pan from heat, add egg mixture, then toss for 1 minute or until egg mixture is creamy and warmed through (the heat from the pasta and pan will cook and slightly thicken the egg mixture without scrambling it).
5. Divide carbonara among plates and scatter with extra parmesan. Serve immediately.
I really can’t tell you how much I love this cheap, versatile and easy recipe. These cheese and bacon savoury muffins are flavoursome, light and fluffy and quick as can be to make. I have used this recipe for a variety of purposes, including: a sugar-free and filling morning tea for the kids’ lunch boxes, mini-muffin sized ones for church morning teas and regular muffin sized numbers to pull out of the freezer to eat with soup (they freshen up beautifully after a few minutes in the oven). Unlike lots of savoury muffins these aren’t heavy and scone-like, they’re puffy and light. If you’d like to add other things such as grated carrot and zucchini, this recipe can certainly handle it if you add a little more milk to your mixture (the mixture should be quite a wet mixture that’s not over-mixed). When I made the ones pictured, I had little bits of un-eaten cheese in the fridge (cast-offs of swiss cheese, parmesan etc…) and so I used them all up to total the cheese component. The end result was a yummy mix of cheese flavours that would have otherwise ended up in the bin. These work really well as plain cheese muffins too, just leave out the bacon.
- 1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
- 200g bacon, thinly sliced
- 2 cups plain flour
- 4 teasp baking powder
- 1/4 teasp salt
- 1/4 teasp dry mustard (if you don’t have dry, just use dijon or whatever you’ve got in the fridge)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
- chopped herbs such as spring onion, dill or parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a 12 hole muffin pan using cooking spray
- Place grated cheese and bacon in a large bowl. Sift in flour (or not, if you couldn’t be bothered), baking powder, salt, mustard and pepper. Add herbs and sesame seeds if desired (or save the seeds to sprinkle on top).
- Lightly beat eggs and milk together in a jug. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the eggs and milk. Mix together gently using a knife with a cutting action so as not to over-mix.
- Place one heaped dessert spoon of mixture in each muffin hole and bake for 12-15 mins until muffins spring back when lightly touched. Makes 12.
A friend made this dish for both our families for dinner last year and since then I’ve made it lots. The thing I remember about dinner that night was that my friend wasn’t caught up in the kitchen preparing dinner for the 9 of us- she was hanging out with us almost the whole night. Despite this, dinner was so delicious. This was a recipe I had to have! This super fast pasta is no stress at all to make and it’s the sort of food that brings people together as they munch down on these comfort carbs. A great recipe for inexpensive catering, and probably only a ‘sometimes’ dinner, but very, very yummy! Serves 6.
- 300g bacon or ham, sliced into thin strips
- half a bag of mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 leek or 1 small onion or 6 chopped spring onions
- 300ml cream or sour cream
- 500g packet of pasta such as spirals or penne
- salt and pepper
- handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped (if you have it)
- Put water on to boil in a pot large enough to cook the pasta.
- In the meantime, cook onions, mushrooms and bacon on high heat in a wok. Add cream and simmer on low heat until pasta is cooked.
- Drain cooked pasta and add to the wok. Toss the sauce and pasta together, season with salt and pepper and throw in the parsley. Enjoy!