Category Archives: Lunch

Pea and haloumi fritters with tomato salsa

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This is a great meal for lunch or dinner. I made it for lunch one day when I was running low on cash to go grocery shopping and decided to just make something with whatever I could find in the fridge. Luckily I had some frozen peas, a bit of haloumi, some red onion, plus eggs and flour. I’ve done variations of these fritters since- one with zucchini, corn and haloumi which has actually turned Ciaran on to eating haloumi. I never thought I’d see that day. All you really need for these fritters is some eggs and flour to make the base and then your choice of veggies. The haloumi is also essential because other cheeses will melt too much and you’ll have a puddly mess of dairy and veg. If you’re using veggies that you have to chop yourself, basically anything other than peas and corn, make sure you cut the pieces very very small or your fritters will be very ugly and fiddily.

Recipe from Vegie Project

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cooking time: 10 min
  • Servings: makes 12
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 red onion finely diced
30g haloumi cheese finely diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup self-raising flour
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to shallow fry

Tomato salsa:
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/4 red onion finely diced
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of chilli flakes

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To prepare the tomato salsa just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Place the frozen peas in a small saucepan with water and boil them for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

To make the fritters simply combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Drop tablespoons of the fritter mixture into the pan (about 2 tablespoons will make one fritter). Flatten the fritters slightly with a spatula. Cook the bottom side for about 3 minutes until a crust forms, then using a spatula flip the fritters over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve with the tomato salsa.

-A

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Coconut crusted chicken tenders

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Just wanted to let you all know that we’re still here. Surprisingly, even though we’re no longer students we still find ourselves quite busy. But just in case you needed some weeknight meal inspiration this week, here are some delectable coconut crusted chicken tenders. Perfect for a simple dinner with a side salad and easy to take on the go for lunch the next day.

Enjoy!

-A

Coconut Chicken Tenders

Recipe from Can you stay for dinner?

(serves 4)

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts, sliced into long, 1″ thick strips
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Create an assembly line for easy coating of each tenderloin: Place all chicken strips on one plate. Next to that, place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Lightly whisk eggs in another wide, shallow bowl. Combine panko, coconut, salt, and pepper in a fourth and final wide, shallow bowl. Now, take one chicken strip and toss it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Then, dredge the floured strip in the egg bath. Next, gently toss the chicken strip in the panko/coconut mixture, pressing to coat on each side. Place the coated strip on a plate or cookie sheet until you have finished coating all of the chicken.

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on your stove top. Add one tablespoon oil, swirling to coat. Add half of the chicken strips in a single layer, leaving space between each one. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the chicken to a foil lined baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Add the remaining one tablespoon oil to the pan and then the second half of the chicken strips and cook for 3 minutes per side. Remove that second batch and place on the baking sheet. Set it in the oven for 10 minutes, so that the chicken tenders can cook through.

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Chicken tenderloins with baby beetroot and ricotta

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Beetroot was always a touchy subject in my house. My brothers and I have been shipped back and forth from Australia since we were each just a few months old so we’re no stranger to things like Vegemite, sausage rolls, pavlova…your typical Aussie classics. We pretty much all eat Vegemite, a feat we should all be proud of. And there was never any debate when sausage rolls or pavlova were in the house. But beets were different. I believe we were introduced to them in the best way possible, not mushed up as a side dish, but placed gently on a beautiful stacked burger. We used to have ‘make your own’ burger nights and it would be a little buffet of things to top your meat patty with. Everything from cheese to ketchup, lettuce, mustard, tomatoes, chutney, etc. And in the assembly line there was always one bright pink bowl of beetroot, poured ever so gently from a tin can and pre-sliced for general ease. Dad would always load up his burger with just about everything but he avoided those beets like the plague. I don’t remember my brothers being too wild about them either but I don’t think they ran away quite so quickly. I, on the other hand, was happy to slap them on watching my bun and my fingers turn a nice fluro rose colour. Now that I live in Australia I figured it was time to experiment with beetroot in other dishes. And that’s exactly how I came upon this easy little salad recipe. It’s quick, low-fat and simple. The anchovies are optional in my opinion, I personally love anchovies so I was happy to put them in at first but I felt like they added a strange flavour amongst the acidity of the beets and the richness of the ricotta. Also when I had the salad the day after I totally forgot they were in there and was pretty thrown off by one bite that was particularly fishy. I also left out the red wine vinegar because I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle for just one tablespoon and used really nice olive oil instead.

Chicken tenderloins with baby beetroot and ricotta
Recipe from Taste.com.au
Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 12 chicken tenderloins (about 90g each)
  • 2 tsp olive oil, plus 1 tbs extra
  • 2 tbs shredded basil leaves
  • 8 canned baby beetroots, drained, halved
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 80g baby rocket leaves
  • 2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbs (60g) fresh low-fat ricotta
  1. Combine the chicken, olive oil and basil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick frypan over high heat and cook the chicken for 2 minutes on each side or until it is golden and cooked through.
  2. Combine the beetroot, onion, rocket, anchovies, red wine vinegar and extra oil in a large bowl. Divide the mixture among plates and dot with teaspoons of ricotta. Serve topped with chicken.

Enjoy,

Allie

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Caprese salad pasta

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Lots of people have a go to dish when they’re not feeling great. Chicken soup, congee with leftovers, scrambled eggs and toast, anything simple and comforting. You’re not supposed to eat anything dairy or acidic while you’re feeling ill. So this dish isn’t exactly ideal but it still seems to make me feel better. It’s one of my favourite dishes while I’m home too. It takes all of half an hour and five ingredients. A perfect weeknight meal or cozy feel-better dish when you’re sick.

Caprese salad pasta
Serves 5

500g pasta (bowtie or penne)
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
250g mozzarella, diced
3/4 cup basil, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions. While the pasta is cooking dice the tomatoes, the mozzarella and the basil. Just after the pasta is done cooking and you’ve drained it return it to the pot and add a drizzle of olive oil and then add the tomato and mozzarella. Mix them in and then let the pot sit with the lid on so the cheese melts and heats through. After about five minutes add the basil and stir through. Serve immediately.

Enjoy,

Allie

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Superbowl snacks!

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So the Superbowl is here again. That one magical Sunday built for beer-loving, wing-loving, football-loving people around the world. Well, mostly just in America but I’ll be one of the die-hards trying to stream the game at 10am on Monday morning.

Unfortunately we don’t get to appreciate the whole package that is Superbowl Sunday down under. But I won’t complain that much about early morning beer.

To be honest, I do find it strange that I am actually looking forward to this, and NOT just for the buffalo chicken wings. I promise.

I am actually a bit excited to see the game. I bet you anything my brothers are sniggering as they read this.

I used to loathe football. I thought it was single-handedly the MOST boring thing to watch. At a NFL game, a college game, my brother’s game, on the couch in front of the TV. Except for maybe golf, golf is so boring.

I never understood the rules and it always just looked like a group of tall, wide men running into each other. And then stopping and standing in a line. And starting. And stopping again, maybe watching the grass grow a bit. The games seemed to take forever and I used to look in awe at my father and grandfather sitting there for an entire day watching game after game. How were they not bored to tears?

The worst part about football happened in November every year. Every year I was dragged (not brought, dragged) to the Harvard vs. Yale game. Quite a few men in my family attended Harvard University and apparently a Harvard man never misses the rivalry game. So whether it was in Connecticut and we simply drove to the game or in Boston where we stayed at my uncle’s for the weekend, we went every year. I would sit there, in the freezing cold, twiddling my thumbs until it was time to leave. I used to try and get out of it, believe me. I would fake being sick, Ferris Bueller-style, I think I even tried to hide one year. Those hours sitting hunched up in about seven layers of coats watching these men run back and forth were not a highlight of my childhood.

But then something changed. I started to realize that there was a bit more to the Superbowl than the amusing ads every few minutes. I actually started to pay attention to the rules and understand them. It’s actually not that complicated a game when it comes down to it. And now I kind of ENJOY it. What the heck happened? I still haven’t really been able to put my finger on it, but I think it’s a homesick thing. Watching the football does remind me of home, of making snacks for game days or drinking a beer with my dad. It’s comforting and I never thought I’d see the day.

I’ll still never go to a Harvard Yale game though. I’m sorry but that game is too damn cold.

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Edamame hummus

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/8 cup water plus more if needed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend soy beans, tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add more water if necessary until the consistency is smooth. Place in a small bowl and serve with sliced vegetables such as capsicum or carrots.

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Buffalo Chicken Rolls

Makes 12

Ingredients
12 spring roll wrappers (I found these in the freezer section at Coles)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (1 medium chicken breast)
1/2- 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (I found this at my local IGA)
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cole slaw (dry)
Small bowl of water
Nonstick cooking spray

Blue cheese dressing, for serving

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Lay spring roll wrappers on a clean work surface. In a small bowl, stir chicken* (see note below) and hot sauce until well coated, using more or less sauce depending on your spice preference. The meat should be moist with sauce.

Begin by placing one tablespoon of the cole slaw on the diagonal of the bottom right corner of one of the wrappers. Next, place 2 tablespoons of shredded spicy chicken evenly on top of the slaw. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese crumbles over the chicken. Do not overfill.

To fold: Fold the bottom right corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, with the tip of the corner now pointing to the centre of the spring roll wrapper. Fold in the bottom left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.

Repeat with remaining rolls.

Place the rolls on a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet (or just on a greased cookie sheet) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spritz each roll evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls crisp and turn a light golden brown.

Note: To make the chicken, place 200g of uncooked chicken breast in a small pot and fill with enough water just to cover it. Bring to a boil on your stovetop, reduce the heat slightly, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and let cool before shredding with two forks, pulling against the grain of the meat.

Recipe slightly adapted from Can you stay for dinner?

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Oh and just in case anyone out there was wondering, with my rice and beans mention earlier, I just meant I wouldn’t be eating solely beans and rice, because while it would save me lots of pennies, I know we are creative enough to be able to make the rice and beans into delicious things like enchiladas or tacos or chilli! And I highly recommend you make Kahina’s chilli for Superbowl Day as well, I definitely will be!

Enjoy,

Allie

 

 

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Bowties with chicken sausage, yoghurt and zucchini

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I don’t like saving. I haven’t even really started saving yet but I already hate it. That’s right, Allie is officially on a budget. This may suck. But it’s for a good reason, as saving usually tends to be. Ciaran and I are planning a trip to Europe later this year, we will both be recent university graduates and we are both currently jobless so it seemed like a good time. Things may change, we know that, but for now we will prepare as if we are both still free in September and will whisk away to sing showtunes in the hills in Austria and lounge on the beaches in Greece and eat nothing but carbs in Italy and see new places and faces and explore. Sounds pretty ideal. I think I just have to keep repeating that to myself when I’m about to order another drink at the bar or step into Dotti or Sportsgirl ‘just to check’ what they have in store.

Luckily, food is generally an easy area to save a few bucks. I’ve been doing much better at eating on the cheap this year but I think I can push it even further. But don’t fear, there will be no beans and rice posts on this blog! Ick. I’ll just have to find ways to use cheap ingredients and stretch my food further. So far this year it has been going very well. The other day I made corn, pea and haloumi fritters with a tomato salad using only ingredients that I already had! Such a win. Another lucky thing in this whole saving my pennies plan is that pasta is cheap. And man do I love pasta. So I will use that excuse to eat those pillowly carby little bites but only topped with healthy ingredients. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Enjoy,

Allie

Bowties with chicken sausage, yoghurt and zucchini
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 4-6

500g bowties
4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), coarsely shredded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
300g chicken sausage (we used kid’s chicken sausages since they were cheap 🙂 )
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the farfalle until al dente; about 1 minute before the farfalle is done, add the shredded zucchini to the pot. Drain the farfalle and zucchini, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium frying pan over medium high heat and cook the sausage until browned and cooked all the way through. We took off the casing and separated the sausage into small chunks or you can cook it whole and chop it up after.
  3. After the sausage is done, place it on a paper towel to drain and use the same frying pan to melt the butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Greek yogurt and the 1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and season the yogurt sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the bowtie, chicken sausage, zucchini and reserved pasta water to the saucepan and cook over low heat, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta; transfer to warmed bowls and serve with the extra cheese.

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Lighter sesame chicken

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There’s only a handful of food items that I really miss from the States.

Crispy bacon, good bagels with cream cheese, Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee and greasy Chinese food.

You can still get Chinese food here, obviously, but it’s not quite the same. Somehow they don’t really overload it with oil and grease and MSG and all other gross things like in America. Which is probably a good thing. No, definitely a good thing.

There were always certain occasions when I would get Chinese takeout back home. On lazy afternoons at boarding school we used to order delivery and eat our paper cartons of shrimp lo mein while sitting out on the grass. In New York City we used to order delivery when we were too lazy to leave the apartment and really didn’t want to have to brave the four floors of stairs in order to eat food. For $10 I usually got a big container of crispy fried rice accompanied by beef and broccoli. Then we’d also get egg rolls, sometimes they’d throw in some steamed dumplings. And at home with my parents Chinese takeout was usually called in when we were too lazy to cook. It would usually be a Sunday night and we’d all move into the television room and unpack all the savoury goodness onto the table, shrimp fried rice, Szechuan dumplings in spicy peanut sauce, steamed pork dumplings, spring rolls, golden nuggets, shrimp lo mein, sesame chicken, shrimp and chicken Thailand style (whatever that was), chow fun. There wasn’t really anything on that menu that I didn’t like, except the hot and sour soup. I was never fan of that one. I definitely miss those nights and more than anything I miss coming home the next day to see the leftovers still in the fridge ready to be made in to the ultimate afternoon snack.

The only real problem with that food is the awful way you feel as soon as you finish. While you’re eating and mopping up the sauce with your extra rice, dipping the spring rolls in that delicious sweet duck sauce, scraping for the last dumpling, you feel divine. And as soon as you’re done you feel the need to lie down and usually down a gallon of water from the sodium overload. That’s probably why we usually ate on the couch at home. But this isn’t the part I think about when I’m missing this breed of strange Chinese-American food, I miss the flavours, the convenience and the excuses we used to order it. Instead of going all out and trying to put myself in a sodium induced coma, I decided to satisfy my cravings with a healthier version. The chicken is lightly sauteed in oil instead of  being deep fried and the sauce isn’t quite as sweet as usual leaving you with a filling, healthy meal. And I was still very excited to see the leftovers in the fridge the next day.

Lighter sesame chicken
From MarthaStewart.com

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced
  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.
  4. Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.

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Mix together the sesame sauce in a medium bowl.

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