Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

I get so much joy out of sharing stories and recipes from my kitchen with you and yet, nights like tonight remind me why I am so very thankful you’re not actually here at dinner time with us. 

When I started this blog, I wrote a post called ‘Meal Time Madness’  and although that was nearly 3 years ago now, meal times are still just as mad. 

Here is a list of the most common things I would say on any given night at dinner time:

Your chair has 4 legs for a reason, please put them all on the floor.

Stop touching your brother. 

We don’t say that word in this house. 

Please don’t laugh when your brother says that word, it only encourages him. 

Don’t point a knife at your brother. 

Get out from under the table. 

Get back to the table.

Leave the table if you can’t behave. 

I don’t care if they say it at school, we don’t say it here.

Stop touching your brother. 

It’s someone else’s turn to speak, please listen.

We had your favourite last night. 

Yes, you have to eat all of it. 

There is no dessert.

What assignment is due tomorrow? How long have you known about it?

I don’t think that’s a nice name to call your teacher. 

Stop touching your brother. 

I said don’t swing on your chair. 

You are going to choke, please stop talking. 

Quick, put his hands above his head, someone get him some water! 

Please use your cutlery.

STOP TOUCHING YOUR BROTHER!

It’s a hands off policy at dinner, just like school. 

Don’t wave your knife around, you could stab somebody. 

Shhh, we are listening to how Dads day was.

Can you please help clear the table.

I know you did it last week, but it’s your turn again. 

You are about to spill your drink, please move your cup.

Can someone get the paper towel. 

I asked you to change so you wouldn’t get sauce on your school shirt. 

Please take off your shirt and put it in the laundry. 

One more piece of cauliflower and then you can leave the table. 

Any of those ring a bell with you? 

I truly believe that one of the most important things you need in parenting is PERSEVERANCE.

I love that word, but it conjures up images of sweat, tears, time, repetition, stress and tiredness. 

On any one of these discouraging yet normal nights, I picture going out to dinner with my grown sons in many years to come, enjoying their company, the food and wine and thinking ‘all those nights of the hard stuff was worth it after all.’

Let’s keep persevering friend xx

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
Serves 6
A slow cooked tomato based sauce with tender beef, rosemary and garlic.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 kilogram chuck steak, fat trimmed, cut into chunky pieces
  2. 4 carrots, chopped into small rounds
  3. 1 leek, white part only, washed and chopped
  4. 1/2 cup red wine
  5. 1/4 cup tomato paste
  6. 400 gram tin of diced tomatoes
  7. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  8. 2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
  9. a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
  10. 3 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
  11. To serve
  12. 500 gram packet of dried large shell pasta
  13. Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, put the lid on and cook for 5-6 hours. (If your slow cooker has settings, LOW - 8 hours, HIGH - 4 hours).
  2. In the last 30 minutes, remove the lid and using 2 forks, shred the beef. If it is not falling apart, put the lid back on and cook a little longer.
  3. Cook the pasta according to packet directions, drain and toss into the slow cooker.
  4. Give everything a big stir and serve in bowls with fresh parmesan cheese and a side of steamed veggies or salad.
Notes
  1. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves and rosemary stalks before serving.
  2. The sauce can be frozen, without the pasta in it.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

I have been wanting to create a good slow cooker version of this favourite Indian dish for so long. I am pleased to say I have finally got around to it and it was a hit with the whole family. 

The ingredient list may look long, but don’t let that put you off. Depending on how well-stocked your pantry is, you may need to pick up a few extra spices. All of these can be found in your local supermarket.

Once you have coated your chicken in the yogurt and spice mixture, it’s just a matter of throwing everything else in the slow cooker and letting time and the spices do their thing. 

Serve it with steamed basmati rice, Naan bread and a big pile of vegetables. 

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
Serves 6
A mild slow cooker version of one of India's favourite chicken dishes.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 kilo chicken thigh fillets
  2. 1/2 cup plain greek or natural yoghurt
  3. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  4. 2 teaspoons garam masala
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground chilli powder
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cardamon
  8. 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  9. 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  10. 100 grams unsalted cashews
  11. 1 brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  12. 400 ml can tomato puree
  13. 400 ml can coconut cream
Instructions
  1. Place the whole thigh fillets (they stay more moist if you don't chop them) in a plastic bag.
  2. Add the yoghurt and all of the spices and ginger.
  3. Give the bag a big shake, coating the chicken well in the mixture.
  4. Place the contents of the bag into the slow cooker.
  5. Using a food processor, grind the cashews until finely ground, before they become a paste.
  6. Add the cashews, onion, puree and coconut cream to the slow cooker.
  7. Place the lid on and cook for 4 hours, 6 hours if using a low setting.
  8. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to slightly thicken the sauce.
  9. The chicken fillets will have fallen apart slightly.
  10. Ladle chicken and sauce into bowls with basmati rice, Naan bread and vegetables.
Notes
  1. For vegetarians, try using eggplant, cauliflower or other vegetables instead of chicken.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

Pick-me-up Pumpkin & Ginger Soup (vegetarian)

It seems like our extended summer in Sydney has finally come to an end.

As I type this I am looking out to my front yard where leaves of many colours and sticks of many sizes are dropping to the ground, covering our lawn and driveway. The wind is strong and cold and it looks like winter might well and truly be here.

I don’t know many who love this season we are about to enter, but dear friends, it’s coming anyway, so we may as well get out our scarves and hats, throw some extra blankets on the beds and start making soup. 

It’s days like these that make me happy to be at home, on the couch holding a mug of this Pumpkin Soup. 

Made in the slow cooker, it’s a little more ‘pumped up’ than your normal pumpkin soup. 

There is a beautiful sweetness from the fennel and apples, and a gentle heat from the ginger and turmeric. A mixture of sweet potato and pumpkin add the rich earthiness that brings it all together.

Turmeric is such a super spice that actually belongs to the ginger family. It is considered to be one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory’s, while also being an anti-oxidant and an infection fighter. 

Including ginger and turmeric in your diet over the winter months will help in keeping your immune system strong.

Weekends are a perfect time to bung these ingredients in the slow cooker, let it bubble away and then you’ll be set up for lunches or dinner the following week. 

Stay warm friends x

Pick-me-up Pumpkin & Ginger Soup (vegetarian)
Serves 5
A slow-cooked soup made from pumpkin, sweet potato, fennel, apple and spices.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 800gm pumpkin, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  2. 400gm sweet potato, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  3. 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  4. 1 small fennel bulb, white part, chopped into large chunks
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  6. 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  7. 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
  8. 5 cups water (or 5 cups of ready made stock)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, put the lid on and cook for 5 hours, (or on low for 6 or high for 3)
  2. When all the vegetables are soft it is ready.
  3. Allow to cool slightly before pureeing with a stick blender or in batches in a food processor.
  4. Serve on it's own or with greek yoghurt, sour cream or cream fraiche and fennel fronds.
Notes
  1. If you don't own a slow cooker, you can use a large soup pot and gently boil it till all the vegetables are soft.
  2. It will freeze well without the toppings.
  3. It will keep in the fridge, covered for 5 days.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

Slow Cooker Massaman Beef

If there is a dish my husband almost always orders when we indulge in Thai takeaway, it is Massaman Beef Curry. 

So that we didn’t only enjoy it on the odd occasion we had takeaway, I gave myself the challenge of finding a good recipe we could make ourselves at home, and ideally, one the boys would eat too.

I have played around with a recipe I found on TASTE.com

IMG_8162

What I was looking for was a recipe that wasn’t too spicy for the kids, that didn’t have a whole lot of palm or brown sugar (most Thai restaurant dishes do), a sauce that wasn’t too runny and a dish that had more veggies than the one you normally get in a Thai Restaurant. Also, a one pot, slow cooker version was essential too!

IMG_8169

Happy to report, this is the winner right here.

Enjoy x

 

 

Slow Cooker Massaman Beef
Serves 6
A mild beef curry, slow cooked, with carrots, potato and cauliflower
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
5 hr 45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
5 hr 45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1kg gravy beef, fat trimmed, kept in large pieces (the meat stays more moist like this)
  2. 1 brown onion, peeled, thinly sliced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  4. 1 cinnamon stick
  5. 6 cardamon pods, (bruised with the back of a knife to open up)
  6. 1/4 cup massaman curry paste
  7. 2 kaffir lime leaves
  8. 400ml can coconut cream
  9. 1/4 cup fish sauce
  10. 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  11. 1/2 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  12. 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped (this will go all mushy, thickening and flavouring the sauce)
  13. 3 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  14. juice of 1 lime
  15. fresh coriander and chopped cashews or peanuts to serve
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients, except lime juice, in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook for 5 hours. If using a low setting, cook for about 7.
  3. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes. This will thicken and reduce the sauce.
  4. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods.
  5. Stir through the lime juice.
  6. Using a fork, roughly shred the beef into smaller pieces if you wish.
  7. Serve with Basmati rice, coriander and nuts.
Notes
  1. This dish freezes really well. Just leave the coriander and nuts out before you freeze.
  2. This is a very mild, kid friendly, version of a traditional Massaman curry. Add more curry paste if you would like it more spicy.
Adapted from TASTE.com
Adapted from TASTE.com
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

Champagne Risotto with Asparagus and Snow Peas (vegetarian)

It’s Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

If you rolled your eyes as you read that, this post is for you my friend.

I know, another commercial day where we are forced to buy over priced flowers BLAH BLAH BLAH…..I’ve heard it all before.

I’m just going to jump out on a limb and state an observation from among my fellow middle-age, too weary and too busy friends who are raising kids right now.

No-one I know is suffering from TOO MUCH ROMANCE.

It’s been a while since a girlfriend has complained to me over coffee that her husband is JUST ALWAYS BUYING FLOWERS and holding her hand while they watch TV and enough already!

It’s rare that I hear my peers whingeing about TOO MUCH TIME TOGETHER, talking and dreaming over a meal and candles.

I could count on one hand the people I know who are getting this right and balancing home/parent/work life with a side of romance and spontaneity thrown in.

Back to Valentine’s Day.

Half the hard work has been done for you my friend.  The day is set aside. It even falls on a weekend this time! Flowers and cards and small gift ideas are available every where you look. It’s going to be hard NOT to pick up a card and your partners favourite chocolate. Not that I recommend service station flowers, but if that is your only option…JUST DO SOMETHING.

It doesn’t have to be big or expensive or flashy.

And those little cherubs you are so busy trying to raise right?

They’re watching and listening…..ALL THE TIME. Every short word, eye roll, huff and puff and tense discussion, they don’t miss any of it.

So let’s change it up a little and show them that even THEIR mum and dad still actually love each other and it’s a good idea to make a fuss about the other person every now and then.

IMG_7979

This Champagne Risotto is not a mid-week meal. You are not supposed to make this while juggling tantrums, baths and homework.

This one is designed to be made after the kids are in bed, or are otherwise preoccupied.

Start with opening the champagne and pouring yourself and your partner a glass. Light a candle, turn on Norah Jones and if you are cooking, make sure there is a stool or chair nearby for your partner to sit and chat while you stir.

It’s not hard, it just takes a little patience. A bit like a good relationship really. And the results are worth it. It tastes just beautiful, especially with a glass of your favourite wine and sitting beside your favourite person.

The original recipe is from delicious. cookbook Simply the Best by Valli Little.

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Champagne Risotto with Asparagus and Snow Peas (vegetarian)

  • Prep Time: 5m
  • Cook Time: 30m
  • Total Time: 35m

Ingredients

  • 30 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300 grams arborio rice (approx 1 cup)
  • 1 cup Champagne (or white wine)
  • 1 liter (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock, heated
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends chopped off, then chopped into small pieces
  • a handful of snow peas, top and tailed and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley to serve

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a low heat.
  2. Add the leek and cook gently until soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook further for 1 minute.
  4. Add rice and stir to coat the grains.
  5. Increase the heat to medium and add the Champagne, then simmer for 1-2 minutes till almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Stir in the stock one ladleful at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Test that the rice is cooked, it should have a slight bite, but not be chalky.
  7. Towards the end, stir through the asparagus and snow peas and allow them to soften slightly.
  8. Stir through the parmesan and mascarpone.
  9. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley and more parmesan cheese and ground pepper.