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Squid en Papillote

A tasty poached squid casserole in a package that I discovered when trying to conform to a 250 calorie meal on the 5 2 Fasting diet. This dish is approximately 250 calories per portion and you can freeze portions so they are always at the ready and there is no excuse not to have a low cal meal on hand. Plus it’s delicious !!! If you are not dieting serve with crusty french bread, or baby boiled potatoes which you can dunk into the broth. Another option is to add a handful of warmed cannellini beans to the broth when u serve it.

For each serving:

125g baby squid cut into 5mm rings
35g red capsicum, sliced into matchstick strips
35g yellow capsicum, sliced into matchstick strips
35g zucchini, sliced into thick matchstick strips
35g baby eggplant,finely diced
40g cherry tomatoes (approx 6)
30g semi dried tomatoes
tomato concentrate, water and lemon juice to make sauce
20ml kalamata olives
1 small clove garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
basil, parsley, oregano and chives to taste
lemon zest and lemon juice

  1. Make a greaseproof paper or foil package.
  2. Add all ingredients starting with squid. Drizzle top with a little olive oil.
  3. Close and seal package. Freeze at this stage.
  4. When ready to eat, defrost and bake in oven at 180C for 13-15 minutes till cooked. If you do not defrost, add an additional 10-12 minutes cooking time.


Liz’s Beef and Vegetable Soup for the Last of the Cooler Days

The days are warm already this year with the garden thinking that spring has arrived. However, the nights are still cool – time to enjoy my hearty homemade soup one last time before the warm spring evenings are upon us. This recipe is cobbled together from watching my mother and grandmother making soups with leftovers from the pantry and the fridge. It tastes wholesome with friends and neighbours always asking for some – it’s one of those dishes that never finishes as each day you add a little more water to top up what you ate the previous day !!!

Serves 8.

2 pieces veal osso buco
1 cup dried Italian Soup mix – you want the mixed beans and lentils with no barley
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sticks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 medium desiree or kestrel potatoes, peeled and sliced
mixed herbs – whatever you can find; Bay leaves, Rosemary, parsley stalks, thyme, and the light green celery leaves from the heart of the bunch of celery
1/4 cabbage, shredded
800g(2lb) can diced tomatoes
2 Beef stock cubes
4 cups water
miscellaneous vegetables from fridge to add at the end; I like sliced zuchinni and green beans

  1. Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
  2. Now saute the onions and garlic. When soft add the herbs to bloom – sautéing in oil releases far more flavour than adding the herbs to the liquid at the end.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Now add the soup mix, beef stock cubes, canned tomatoes, water and the browned so buck. Bring to the boil. Turn to a low simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
  6. Remove the osso buco. Add marrow from bones to the soup. Remove fat from the meat and shred it. Return shredded meat to the pot. The soup should be thick but if u think it needs more liquid add some now – add half cup water at a time so that you don’t end up diluting soup too much. Bring back to boil. Taste and add seasoning as required.  It is best left for a day at this stage to improve flavour but of course can be eaten immediately.
  7. Just before serving add miscellaneous vegetables on hand; Green Beans, sliced zucchini, etc and heat. Boil for no more than one minute to keep vegetables crunchy.
  8. This soup can keep for up to a week if you reheat it every day. Reheat slowly so as not to burn. Add additional water if it gets to thick BUT add water when soup is hot. The soup thins up as it heats so you cannot be sure how much water is required.
  9. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Goulash Soup for those Cold Winter Nights

A hearty and delicious soup for even the diehard anti-soup individual. As a child my son, Sven, refused to eat soup – it was all those vegetables he abhorred. One day I found this meat based soup to convert him. It’s seriously good – try it. If you’re wanting a few more vegetables add cubed carrots at the same time as the potatoes. This soup does NOT freeze well.

Serves 6 as a meal.

1kg(2lbs) gravy beef or blade steak, trimmed and cut into 1cm(1/2 inch) cubes
2 Tablespoons paprika + 2Tablespoons extra
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 Tablespoons plain flour
1 cup dry red wine
3 onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2x400g (1lb) cans tomatoes
60g butter
4 cups beef stock
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

  1. Marinade beef cubes in 2 tablespoons of the paprika and wine in the fridge overnight.
  2. Heat butter in large saucepan, add onions, garlic, caraway seeds and additional 2 tablespoons paprika and salute until onions are soft.
  3. Add beef. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Then add undrained crushed tomatoes and beef stock. Mix well. Bring to the boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for an hour.
  4. Add cubed potatoes and cook a further 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked and meat is soft.
  5. Just before serving blend flour into sour cream or yoghurt, and stir into soup. Cook around 5minutes till soup has thickened.
  6. Servie sprinkled with parsley. Yum.


Vegetarian Lasagne

This vegetarian version of a lasagne is wonderful but absolutely huge. Divide into two large lasagne dishes and freeze one. If you wish to make it low-cal replace the lasagne sheets with slices of zucchini and the cheese sauce with blobs of low fat ricotta. It tastes just as delicious and has far fewer calories.

Serves 12-16.

Vegetarian Filling
6 eggplants, cut into 5mm(1/4 inch) rounds
1.25kg (2.5 lbs) portobello or brown mushrooms
4 carrots, grated
2 x 470g (15 oz) cans whole tomatoes
3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup sherry

  1. Sprinkle eggplant rounds with salt. Drain after 30minutes and brown on each side in griller.
  2. Saute sliced mushrooms with garlic in butter until limp. Add 1/2 cup sherry and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Saute onions till soft and golden.  Add 1/2 cup sherry, 4 grated carrots, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer about an hour.

Cheese Sauce/Alternatively use blobs of Ricotta
120g (4oz) butter
8 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
pinch nutmeg
125 g (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese

  1. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour; cook gently, stirring, 1 minute.
  2. Gradually add the milk, stir until sauce boils and thickens.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg. Add cheese last.

Assembling the Lasagna
250 g (8 oz) lasagne noodles or Zucchini slices, 5mm(1/4 inch) thick
1 cup grated cheese or 1 cup ricotta
pumpkin kernels for crunch(optional)

  1. Using 2 lasagne dishes each 33cmx22cm(9x12inch), repeat the following layers: Grilled eggplant, mushroom mixture, onion  and vegetable mixture,  lasagne or zucchini slices, then cheese sauce or ricotta blobs.
  2. Repeat layers two or three times depending on depth of lasagne dish finishing with lasagne or zucchini slices.
  3. Sprinkle top with any remaining cheese sauce and grated cheddar cheese. Alternatively use blobs of ricotta and pumpkin kernels.
  4. Bake in moderate oven 20 to 25 minutes till hot and bubbling.

Lentil Soup – Good Old Fashioned Eating

This is real winter comfort food – warm, filling and full of flavour. I used to make a pot of soup on Sunday and we would enjoy it for lunch and/or dinner throughout the week. It’s also a healthy after school snack. Just add a little water when it thickens up and you can keep going for days. Reheat over medium – not high – heat and stir frequently to ensure it does not catch at the bottom of the pot.

Serves 8-10.

½ ham hock (omit if vegetarian)
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
500g(1 lb) uncooked brown or puy lentils
1x800g(2 lbs) tin tomatoes, pureed
2 beef  or vegetable stock cubes
6 cups water
chopped parsley to serve

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours stirring from time to time.
  3. Add another cup of water if it becomes too thick.
  4. Serve garnished with parsley.

Caramel Sauce – A change from Chocolate Sauce

This is a lovely, rich dessert sauce. Serve it warm or cold over ice-cream or fruit.image3

Makes 1½ cups.

125g(8 oz)butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons golden syrup or honey
1½ Tablespoons cornflour or Maizena
¼ cup cream

  1. Combine butter and sugar in saucepan, stir over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves and mixture turns to thick syrup
  2. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 3 minutes
  3. Combine water, golden syrup and cornflour, mix until smooth
  4. Add to brown sugar mixture, stir until smooth
  5. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes
  6. Remove from heat, stir in cream serve warm or cold

Tuna and Mushroom Pasta satisfies the whole Family

A quick and easy sauce to prepare – perfect for busy work days or lazy Sunday evenings.  I usually used thin spaghetti  or tagliatelle as the pasta and my favourite tinned tuna is the Sirena brand.

Serves 4.

500g pasta
1 onion, chopped
100g button mushrooms, quartered
2T tomato paste
1x384g tin tuna
300ml cream
chopped parsley to garnish

  1. Boil pasta in a large saucepan until al dente
  2. In the mean time sauté onion in a frying pan over a medium heat
  3. Add mushrooms and toss lightly
  4. Stir in tomato paste, tuna and cream and bring to boil
  5. Toss sauce through drained pasta

Chicken Pasta Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing for those Hot Summer Days

This is a light healthy meal in one dish that serves equally well for lunch, a light dinner or a picnic. Leftovers are perfect for school lunch boxes. Using a bought barbecue chicken saves time.

Serves 4-6

3-4 cups (300g) spiral pasta
1 cooked chicken, broken into bite size pieces
½ red capsicum, finely diced
125g (4 ounces) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
1 small oak lettuce
¼ cup grated parmesan

Dressing (mix together):
2 teaspoons sambal oelek chilli paste
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup olive oil

  1. Boil pasta following packet instructions until just tender. Drain and cool.
  2. Arrange lettuce in a shallow serving dish.
  3. Add cooled pasta and remaining salad ingredients excluding parmesan.
  4. Toss with half the dressing.
  5. Sprinkle with parmesan and remaining dressing.

Savoury Mince when you have run out of ideas and don’t feel like thinking

Everyone loves savoury mince so it’s a great backup when you are too tired or busy to plan anything. Serve it with rice and a salad. I used to make double quantities as it’s great on sandwiches and a favourite addition to school lunch boxes.IMG_0620

Serves 4

500g topside mince
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder or vindaloo curry paste
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup frozen peas
1 large potato, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes. If the cubes are too large they won’t cook in time.

  1. Sauté onion in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and curry paste and stir till fragrant.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the mince ensuring that the onions end up on top of the mince so that they don’t burn.
  4. Brown mince for a few minutes, stirring to keep it loose.
  5. Add tomato puree and potatoes. If necessary add a 1/2 cup of water so that there is enough liquid for the potatoes to cook BUT you want the finished result to be dry so only a LITTLE water.
  6. Put lid on. Lower the heat and simmer about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  7. Add peas and after they have defrosted, about 3 minutes, serve with rice, sambals and a green or tomato salad. if I don’t have frozen peas, I often use green beans.

Tuna Salad – Quick and Easy for a Light Lunch or Supper

Use a quality canned tuna like Sirena and, with the simple ingredients and fresh flavours, you can’t go wrong. This version of a Tuna salad takes minutes to put together, is really healthy and will be loved by the whole family.

Serves 4

125g baby English spinach leaves
1x375g tin cannellini beans
1x384g tin Sirena tuna in brine, drained
1 lebanese cucumber, sliced into wedges
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

  1. Layer baby spinach in a shallow salad dish
  2. Add remaining salad ingredients
  3. Combine oil and lemon and spoon over the top of the salad
  4. Grind over some black pepper and serve with crusty bread

Bacon and Egg Pie – Easy, Tasty and Perfect for every Picnic or School Lunchbox

This is the family’s most popular picnic and bushwalking food – of course it is wonderful for brunch and a very special treat in a school lunchbox.  I used to bake it early in the morning and wrap in foil as it came out of the oven.  It would still be slightly warm when we ate it.  Nothing tasted better after some exercise – something about simple flavours.

Serves 4

3 rashers bacon, diced
5 eggs
2 sheets puff pastry

  1. Heat oven to 200°C
  2. Layer 1xsheet of puff pastry in a 23cm diameter pie dish.
  3. Cook bacon until crispy in microwave or frying pan.
  4. Drain all fat and scatter cooked bacon evenly over puff pastry.
  5. Break eggs over bacon being careful to keep yolks whole.
  6. Top with second sheet of puff pastry and crimp edges.
  7. Brush top of pastry with egg white.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is browned.
  9. Serve at room temperature or cold.
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