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.
Oh my goodness life is busy at the moment. My five year old has started school and there’s so much to get my head around (news, library books, computers, home readers, buddies, making friends at the school gate, getting out the door on time and the endless cycle of making lunches – I could go on). The uni year which has been amping up began to reach one of its crescendoes with O week which started today (exciting times!). There’s been lots of slack dinners lately but thankfully my friend Belinda shared this recipe with me and it lasted us three nights in a row – economical on both time and money. And it’s a sensational tasting dish too. This mexican beef and pasta bake was scoffed down by my kids (perhaps because it wasn’t Weet-bix?) and us grown ups loved it just as much. And don’t worry, it’s not hot in the spicy sense at all. The pictures above represent a double quantity and using those listed below this dish will set you back between $10-12. Serves 6. Thanks Belinda – this one’s already part of our family.
- 200g spiral pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion
- 1 red capsicum
- 400g beef mince
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30g packet Taco Spice Mix (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup water
- 400g can diced tomatoes (generic is fine)
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 400g can red kidney beans, drained (generic is fine)
- 310g can corn kernels, drained (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees or 160 degrees fan-forced. Lightly spray a 2L oven-proof dish with oil. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until softened. Add mince and cook, breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Stir in taco spice mix and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini and 1/2 cup water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender and mixture has thickened. Add pasta, beans, corn and mix to combine.
- Combine mixture into prepared dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden.
When I stumbled across this recipe, I was so excited to try it because I’d not much cooked Greek style food before and the whole thing promised to be easy, yummy and affordable, which is just what this blog is about . It proved to be excellent and I’m thrilled with the nutritional value of it too. This recipe was originally published in Good Taste magazine and it scores a fantastic 4/5 stars on taste.com.au. Enjoy the fact that the veggie components mean it can be eaten on its own or serve with a side salad and some crusty bread. Depending on the cost of eggplant (worth a trip to the grocer for this one!), this dish, which serves 6-8 will cost around $12 to make.
- 105g (1/2 cup) risoni
- 125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
- 1 large (about 450g) eggplant, thinly sliced lengthways
- 1 tbs olive oil, extra
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 500g beef mince
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried or fresh oregano
- 250g Greek-style natural yoghurt
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- Ground cinnamon, to dust
- 2 tbs chopped fresh mint (if you have it)
- Cook the risoni in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 3-4 eggplant slices and cook for 3 minutes each side or until tender and slightly golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Repeat, in 3 more batches, with the remaining oil and eggplant, reheating the pan between batches.
- Heat the extra oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and cook for 4 minutes or until soft.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5-6 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Add the tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add the tomato and oregano, and stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the risoni.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread the mince mixture over the base of a 2L (8-cup) capacity ceramic baking dish. Arrange the eggplant, overlapping slightly, over the mince mixture to cover. Combine the yoghurt and egg in a bowl. Pour over the eggplant and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the yoghurt is just set. Dust with cinnamon. Sprinkle with the mint to serve.
My friend Julie contributed this lovely mild curry recipe and I’m so pleased with the result! Originally from Charmaine Solomon’s Hot & Spicy Book, the whole thing was very easy to make and so tasty. It cooks on the stove for quite a while but pretty much uses just the one pot – and it was no trouble to do other jobs around the place while this yummy curry simmered away. The recipe that follows cost around $25 to make but made no less than 3L, which, served with rice serves approximately 15 people. This recipe is delightfully freezer friendly and can be made in advance for church dinners, weekend hospitality or keeping in the freezer. Thanks for sharing, Julie!
- 2 kg of chuck steak, cut into chunks
- 2 tins of coconut milk
- 5 tbsp massaman curry paste
- 10 baby potatoes or 1kg potatoes peeled and cubed, whole OR 1 kg of pumpkin peeled and cubed
- enough small onions for one per person or 4 large, cut into chunks
- 4 tabs fish sauce
- 4 tabs lemon or lime juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp palm sugar (at all Asian grocers) or 4 tabs brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted peanuts (easily left out in the case of allergy)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
1. Put chuck steak in large saucepan or stovetop casserole pot with one tin of coconut milk and one tin of water. Add more water if the steak is not covered. Simmer on very low heat with lid on for one and half to two hours, until steak is almost tender. Remove beef from saucepan and set aside. Keep all the liquid.
2. In the same pan heat one tin of coconut milk until thick and oily and slightly reduced. Add curry paste and cook until fragrant.
3. Add meat and liquid back in with sauces, sugar, onions and potatoes and cook approximately 45 mins until potatoes are cooked and liquid has reduced and thickened slightly (If using pumpkin, don’t add until 20 minutes before serving).
4. Add peanuts and basil leaves just before serving. Serve on rice with green beans or broccoli.
We’d spent the day packing boxes, cleaning and packing a moving truck and at the end of it all we were emotionally and physically exhausted. Some dear friends had invited us for dinner that night, knowing that we would otherwise be having takeaway. As we wearily sat up at the table, this yummy meatloaf by Jamie Oliver is what they served up. Man, did it hit the spot! The filling meatiness energized us again and the warm, content feeling it gave was so very comforting. Over dinner, these friends allowed us to just be ourselves and didn’t expect anything of us after such a full-on day. We reminisced, and laughed together despite the tiredness and sadness we were feeling. It was one of those special times of togetherness expressed by these friends in humble generosity and it’s a memory that I treasure dearly. The meatloaf itself was the best I’d ever had and now whenever I make this dish, I think of that evening of genuine hospitality. Everything in this meal can be made ahead of time, so it’s perfect for having people over. The recipe that follows is mostly the original, though I’ve fiddled a little with the quantities to maximise size and affordability. Total cost, $10 and it serves 6.
- 2 medium onions
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
- 12 plain crackers, such as water crackers, Jatz or Clix
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1kg beef mince
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ – 1 fresh chile, to your taste (leave out if you don’t like a little spiciness)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 x 400g can of chick peas, drained
- 2 x 400ml cans of diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (dried is fine, if that’s all you’ve got)
- 6-8 slices of bacon
- 1 lemon
To make your meatloaf
- Preheat the oven to full whack.
- Peel and finely chop one of the onions—don’t worry about technique, just chop away until fine. Place in a large frying pan on a medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fry and stir ever 30 seconds for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden, then put into a large bowl to cool.
- Wrap the crackers in a kitchen towel and smash until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands. Add to the other bowl of cooled onions with oregano, mustard and ground beef. Crack in the egg, and add another good pinch of salt and pepper.
- With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well. Move the meat mixture to a board, then pat and mold into a large football shape. Rub it with a little oil. You can either cook it straight away or put it on a plate, cover and place in the refrigerator until needed.
- Place the meatloaf in a Dutch oven-type pan or baking dish, put into the preheated oven, and turn down the temperature immediately to 200 degrees celsius. Bake for a half an hour.
To make your meatloaf sauce
- Peel the other onion and chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Peel and slice the garlic. Finely slice the red chile. Place the onion, garlic and chile in a large pan on a medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika, and a pinch of the salt and pepper.
- Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until softened and lightly golden. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chick peas, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.
- Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer for 10 minutes.
- Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.
To finish off and serve your meatloaf
- Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and put them into a little bowl. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour all the fat from the pan over the rosemary leaves and mix up well.
- Spoon your sauce around the meatloaf. Lay the slices of bacon over the top of the meatloaf and sauce. Scatter over the rosemary leaves.
- Put the pan back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bacon turns golden and the sauce is bubbling and delicious. Serve with a mashed potato and steamed veg and some wedges of lemon for squeezing over—this will add a nice sharp twang.
Here’s another slow cooker recipe to get you through the winter months. Our family really enjoyed this because the sauce isn’t too spicy, yet it has a definite satay flavour. This satay sauce can be used with your choice of beef or chicken such as drum sticks or diced thigh fillets. Doubling this recipe will almost fill a 5.5L slow cooker and will provide you with extra meals for no extra hassle. After researching my local area, I found that Coles had the best price for chuck steak ($8 per kilo), though I have seen it cheaper on special at various places. Quantities given below serve 6+ people and costs around $12 to make.
- 1kg diced beef (chuck or rump works best)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into half moon shapes
- 1 400g can lite coconut cream
- 1 tab ground cumin
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander flakes (or fresh if you have it)
- 2 tabs soy sauce
- 2 tabs lime juice (I use squeezie from the fridge)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 250 grams good quality peanut butter, (homebrand won’t do in this case!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place beef or chicken in the slow cooker along with the onions, carrots, spices, lime juice, garlic and peanut butter. Mix well to coat the meat in the flavours.
- Pour coconut cream over the seasoned meat and again, mix well.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Check the flavour and season according to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on rice or mashed potato with steamed snow peas, broccoli and capsicum.
Beef Stroganoff is a winter staple in our house. It’s a great choice for warming up on a cold night and it’s the sort of dish that stretches easily to accommodate others at the last minute. The recipe that follows started out as a Woman’s Weekly recipe from the 80’s but has morphed over the years into something that works in the slow cooker and takes my family’s tastebuds into account (we like it quite tomatoey). Please know that this recipe copes well with the addition of veggies such as carrots and green beans, which stretches it even further and improves the nutritional value – simply throw them in the slow cooker about an hour before serving. If you don’t have a slow cooker or need to make this in the late afternoon, simply halve the amount of beef stock and cook the whole thing in an electric frypan. The only catch is, that you will need to let it simmer away for no less than 1 hour to ensure the beef is nice and tender. Finally, a couple of comments about slow cookers: remember the versatility of using a slow cooker. I’ve often made this recipe after dinner when there’s less disruption and let the stroganoff cook overnight on low. In the morning it’s ready to divide up and freeze, refrigerate until dinner time or even give away to someone who needs it. Also, it’s important to know that getting something like this going in the slow cooker can take a good half an hour (though, that’s all it will require of you), so consider increasing the quantities to completely fill it – providing you with lots of meals for the future and the most economical use of your time. Doubling this recipe completely fills a 5.5L cooker. With the quantities listed below this dish will cost under $15 and serves 8.
- 1kg beef – rump (dearer) or chuck (cheaper) steak, diced or cut into thin strips
- 3/4 brown paper bag mushrooms, peeled and quartered
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- half cup plain flour or cornflour
- olive oil for browning
- 2 cups beef stock
- half a large jar tomato paste
- half cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss strips of beef in flour and brown in a frypan on very high heat, a little at a time until the whole batch has been browned.
2. Add sliced onions, garlic, mushrooms, stock, tomato paste and stir well. Allow to simmer for a few hours or put it all in the slow cooker on LOW for around 8 hours.
3. Just before serving, stir through the sour cream and serve on either rice or fettacine.