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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Stuffed Chicken Breasts w Peppadew Sauce

I know this photo is terrible, I took it in a not very well lit room, on my knee just slightly before I crammed all of this fabulousness down my very hungry throat. You should thank me for taking the time out to photograph it at all.

This was one of those ‘what do I have in the refrigerator’ meals and it turned out amazing.

The chicken breast was stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and feta cheese, smothered in a sauce made of cheese stuffed peppers and then baked in the oven for an hour. The potatoes were just nuked in the microwave and then topped with cream cheese (Philadelphia) and Jalapeno slices (yummy!). The broccoli was just boiled quickly and served, I like broccoli however it comes.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts w Peppadew Sauce

1 small container of stuffed Peppadews (left over from a tapas meal, about 8 or 10 in all)
4 chicken breasts
6 mushrooms, sliced
Fetta cheese
Fresh Spinach leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Blend the peppadews with a little of the marinating oil to make a smooth sauce.
Slice a pocket in each chicken breast.
Stuff each breast generously with some mushroom slices, feta and spinach.
Place in an oven proof baking dish and smother with peppadew sauce.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.


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Spinach Rice with Cheese

I hate to waste food and rice in particular always seems to be leftover in our house. I often make a quick, stove top rice pudding out of it but sometimes there is that much that I need to make a main meal just to use it all up. Being on my own for a few days again I was able to consider using a few ingredients that wouldn’t have been appreciated by my husband, such as an entire bag of spinach (I used fresh because I had it, even though the recipe called for frozen). I also used up a tin of cream of chicken soup that was lounging in my cupboard doing nothing useful but working its way steadily towards the use by date (I hate canned soup on its own but it makes a handy ingredient for a quick and easy recipe or two so I normally have a can or two in the pantry)

It is not necessarily pretty to look at but this could be a tasty side dish with a steak or sausages. I was happy to have it for dinner on its own and it made enough for several meals if you have company or don’t mind eating the same thing for a few days.

Spinach Rice with Cheese

1 1/2 Tbls butter
2 cups cooked rice
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 chopped green onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
280g package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Melt butter. Stir fry garlic, rice and onions until onions are tender, stir often , about 4 minutes.
Add soup and simmer until heated through.
Add spinach, simmer until wilted. Remove from heat, add cheese.


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Easy Salad

I love a good salad and what I mean by good is interesting and usually containing chili marinated feta, just because I like it. Pictured is my favourite go to lunch when I want something super quick.
It is simple, good and even looks nice enough to be a quick addition to dinner if guests turn up.

 

Easy Salad

Baby spinach
Peaches
Chili marinated feta

Lay down a base of spinach leaves (or mixed lettuce if you prefer).
Slice peaches and scatter over spinach.
Add as much feta as you desire and sprinkle with a little of the marination oil.

A little fresh ground pepper over the top is always a good addition too.

I eat a version of this for lunch most days. Today it was cherry tomatoes, mixed lettuce and cucumber with feta, very refreshing. If we have left over meat from dinner the night before then I might heat that up and toss it through for a bit of a more filling meal. If I run out of baby spinach and feta I really struggle to find anything to eat for lunch. If that is a rut then I am okay with being in it.


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Chicken stuffed with Fetta and Spinach

I have mentioned in passing that I was overseas for a period of time recently. I went to South Africa again and travelled around a bit.

Firstly we stayed a few days in a self-catering cabin the mountains in a farming community, beautiful, misty mornings, green grass, cool weather, rocky gardens, horses, dams stocked with bass, just lovely. Not very ‘African’ though, more like England.

We moved on and spent the second half of our visit at a game lodge with much more of an ‘African’ atmosphere. It was called Shayamoya .

Visit the Shayamoya web page!

There were game drives and boat cruises, tigerfish fishing trips or even in house massage available all of which was very enjoyable (except the massages, I don’t go in for all that touchy feely stuff, I am sure if I did they would have been wonderful though, everything else was). The rooms were comfortable and private (with private outdoor showers, which I loved. There is a bath inside if you are not so inclined)

But of course the one thing that I would take note of over all others was the food and it was well worth the notice! The kitchen staff, under their head chef, outdid themselves night after night. Everything that came out of that kitchen was amazing, even on the night that a snake took up residence under the refrigerator and put a real scare into the staff, they danced around it and still managed to prepare a meal fit for kings.

The gardens that the cabins were set in were beautifully maintained and contained a very interesting collection of aloes and other plants, clearly marked with their names and the view over the wetlands was amazing from our balcony.
It was honestly one of the most relaxing and enjoyable holidays I have ever had and I have to shout out a big thank you to Lindy and her staff for making it so lovely and enjoyable. Trust me, I will be telling everyone, if you want somewhere great to spend a holiday that is relatively inexpensive (at least compared to Australia) book yourself into Shayamoya, you won’t regret it for a second. And the food is fabulous!

Chicken stuffed with Fetta and Spinach

2x chicken breasts
Baby Spinach
Chili Marinated Fetta
Parmesan Cheese

Cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Stuff with as much spinach and fetta as it will hold.
Sprinkle with parmesan and pour a little of the fetta oil over each breast.
Bake in a moderate oven until cooked through.

Garlic Butter Beans

Green beans
Butter
Garlic
Salt & Pepper

Cut green beans as desired (slicing them lengthwise is nice if you have the patience)
Boil or steam to your preferred crispness.
Drain and stir in butter and garlic.
Salt and pepper to taste.


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Easy Prawn Salad

So, summer is here. While a large portion of the planet is moving into its winter period and seemingly the entire internet along with it. All recipe sites are suddenly geared to winter, slow cooker and casserole ideas and everybody seems to have snowmen, snowflakes and jolly men dressed for artic conditions bearing presents all over their websites. Here I am in the West of Australia looking out on my very parched lawn wondering, if I go on holiday for a week, will the garden be completely dead when I get back home and hoping that my sisters air conditioning will cope with the weather on Christmas day and all the extra bodies in the house so we don’t all dissolve into a puddle of tinsel stained sweat and discarded paper underneath the tree.

Christmas in Australia rarely involves a hot meal these days, unlike my childhood when we all bowed to ‘tradition’ and had a roast meal with all the trimmings. The days when women tried in vain to keep their makeup on their faces in a kitchen whose temperature had long ago surpassed the safe working conditions guidelines and guests used their napkins primarily to mop sweat from their brows whilst pretending to crave second helpings of food that actually got hotter on being removed from the oven and reaching room temperature. Nowadays air-conditioning is standard in most houses as is the common sense that enables us to realise that traditions that make perfect sense in countries that have a foot of snow outside on Christmas day make absolutely no sense at all in a country where the bitumen on the road is reverting to its liquid state and ice for drinks spontaneously melts immediately upon being removed from the freezer.

These days it is all about seafood, served cold, barbeques if cooking is really required, cold meat platters, salads and frozen desserts. I think that is progress on a national level, learning that we all need to come to terms that we don’t live in the ‘old country’ anymore and we should really learn to make our own traditions based on our current home and living conditions. It has been a few hundred years since the tradition Christmas was introduced to this country so it hasn’t been the fastest learning curve but I understand that people don’t like change so I am just grateful that we have come this far.

There is a long way to go with a lot of social issues but this one tiny unimportant thing is changing so I guess there is hope for us as a country, at this rate it will take eons but hopefully the more things change the more quickly changes will progress.

Well, that morphed into a social commentary fairly quickly, an actual thoughtful insight that took me completely by surprise. Sometimes I surprise myself with an in-depth thought or two.

In keeping with our newfound ability to eat sensibly in response to our own weather patterns my own diet has morphed into something that includes a lot less rice, pasta and heat and a lot more fruit, salad and seafood. More of my meals look like the above picture, below ‘throw together’ recipe. Maybe the Northern hemisphere friends can bookmark these recipes for use the next time I am eating casseroles and roast dinners.

Prawn Salad

3 handfuls of raw prawn meat
Good bunch of baby spinach leaves
½ avaocado chopped into chunks
Few spoonfuls of chilli marinated feta
Pepper
Bacon fat for frying (if you have some handy)

Throw the spinach into your bowl along with the avocado and fetta.
Heat a pan and melt the bacon fat (you can use oil, butter or oil from the fetta if you prefer), fry of the prawns until pink.
Season well with pepper (and salt if you are not using salty bacon fat).
Toss the prawns in on top of the salad leaves.
Enjoy!


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Cannelloni Con La Ricotta

Cannelloni, the world’s most fiddly dish to prepare (possibly this is an over exaggeration but it is sure the most fiddly one that I bother to make regularly) I Love it!

This is one of those meals that waits until my husband is travelling. He isn’t keen on the spinach. Personally this is a meal that I could eat every day, so long as I had unlimited time to cook, or a chef to prepare for me (if I had a chef I’d probably have him cook other foods though, no point in wasting a good resource)

I have tried cannelloni with other fillings but I keep coming back to this tried and true favourite. Sometimes I will use a store bought sauce in place of a freshly made one and I always mix the cream into the sauce before pouring over the cannelloni.

Cannelloni Con La Ricotta

Serves 5-6

250g spinach, cooked
225g ricotta or cream cheese
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
pinch pepper
10-12 tubes instant cannelloni

Sauce
2 Tbls oil
1*425g can tomato puree
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 200c.
Mix spinach, ricotta, egg yolks, garlic, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper together. Fill the
cannelloni tubes. Heat oil in a frying pan, add tomato puree, basil, salt and pepper and
bring to the boil. Remove from heat. In a greased ovenproof dish, pour a thin layer
of sauce. Place the cannelloni in the dish and cover with the sauce and cream.
Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-35 mins until cooked.


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Mushroom Parcels

This was last night’s dinner, whipped up with help of imagination and a recipe that wasn’t really anything like this but got me thinking…

As you can tell, my mushroom and vegetable phobic husband is not at home so my daughter and I are indulging in vegetable laden meals all of which include mushrooms. True to my belief that anything tastes better if you wrap it in pastry, this turned out a treat and used up some ingredients that were getting toward their use by dates.

Mushroom Parcels

2 sheets of puff pastry
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 button mushrooms
3 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 cup ricotta
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt
freshly ground black pepper
milk

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Cut each pastry sheet into 2 large triangles.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the spinach and heat gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste, turn off the heat and then stir in the ricotta and cheese.
Spoon the mixture on to one half of each pastry triangle, brush edges with milk, fold over and press open sides closed. Brush tops with a little milk.
Place in oven for 20mins or until golden and crisp.