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.


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
  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
  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.
  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









Taco Soup

One of last years most popular recipes on cook fast eat slow was Taco Salad. You can find the recipe here, Taco Salad

Today I am sharing with you the winter equivalent, Taco Soup. 

Hugging a warm bowl of this on a chilly night is very comforting, and often takes me back to my childhood, where it was a family favourite.

This is my version but be as creative as you like with your toppings. We usually have all the toppings on the table so everyone can ‘dress’ their soup with whatever they like. Our favourite toppings are natural corn chips, guacamole or plain avocado, grated cheese, sour cream and capsicum.

Taco Soup
Serves 6
A beef and bean based soup, topped with corn chips, avocado, sour cream and cheese.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 500gm beef mince
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 spanish (red) onion, peeled and finely diced
  4. 2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
  5. 2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  6. 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  7. 1 green capsicum, de-seeded and finely diced (some set aside for the topping)
  8. 2 x 400gm cans diced tomatoes
  9. 1 x 400gm can tomato puree
  10. 1 x 750gm can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  11. 3 cups water
  12. To serve, use toppings like natural corn chips, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese and reserved capsicum.
  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add beef, breaking up the lumps, and cook till brown.
  4. Add all other ingredients and place the lid on the soup pot to bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Turn the heat down and allow to gently simmer 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls and allow people to do their own toppings.
  1. The soup base will freeze as it is.
  2. Defrost and reheat and then add toppings.
cook fast eat slow

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


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!


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
  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
  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.
  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
Adapted from
cook fast eat slow

Thai Beef Salad

This Thai Beef Salad was the first meal I made after we got home from our holiday.

Along with our watches, phones and schedules, ‘meal planning’ went out the window for our holiday.

We went back to simple and no frills this time around. A basic cabin, a beach, some bike riding and bush walking, card games, slow mornings and late nights.

Like all family holidays, there were fights, tantrums, storms and torrential rain, power outages, laughs, hugs, big waves and beautiful sunsets. There was on any given day a million compromises to be made between 5 people who all wanted or expected something different.

Just like normal life, but in a different location.

It was a chance to be away from the rush and noise and endless demands of the business we run, home and school life. The biggest joy was having my husband with us, relaxed and engaged.

I did lots of reading, which is my other great love that I often don’t make time for when at home. Reading on holidays is starting to get a little easier now that the kids are getting older.

Even in it’s imperfect moments, we were together, making memories, good and bad ones and refilling our tanks before a new year begins.

When it comes to food on holidays, I find the break from thinking ahead and making all the decisions on my own about food quite liberating. Having another person around to share in that process is so good, not to mention the break from the dishes!

It means our eating habits change too, but that’s part of the novelty of the holidays. Way too many hot chips, ice-blocks, cereals the kids get to choose from the ‘normaly banned list’, treats in the car while travelling, christmas leftovers and more. There are pretty much no rules.

My husband and I share a love of cheese and wine and so that became our holiday ritual after a day on the beach. That’s one of the things I already miss the most. I told the wheel of Brie I saw in the shops the other day that we will reconnect at Easter. It’s not that long away is it?

I digress.

Back to the Thai Beef Salad.


Now that we are home, salad and protein in different forms pretty much makes up our summer menu.

This is my kid friendly Thai Beef Salad, with no raw onion or spicy sauce. Just fresh and flavoursome and super quick. And just as I thought, vegetables that would otherwise be left on the plate, were gobbled up in this salad. It shows you what a little added flavour can achieve.

I hope you are having a great summer break and your re-entry back into your ‘normal’ isn’t too painful.

E x

Thai Beef Salad

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 5m
  • Total Time: 15m


  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ginger paste
  • 600 grams rump steak
  • 100 grams baby spinach or mixed salad leaves
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1/2 capsicum (red, green or yellow), thinly sliced
  • 100 grams snow peas, raw, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, a mixture of basil, coriander and mint or whatever you like. (If you can get it, vietnamese mint works perfectly with asian salads)


  1. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake to combine. Set aside.
  2. If you have time, bring your meat to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Brush both sides of the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a non stick frying pan (or BBQ) over medium to high heat and add the meat.
  5. When blood rises to the surface, turn your meat. Continue cooking and turning until your meat is cooked to your liking. You can press the meat with your finger to test how cooked it is. The firmer it feels, the more well done it will be.
  6. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate to rest. Don't skip this step.
  7. Once rested for a few minutes, slice thinly.
  8. Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.
  9. Add the steak and pour over the dressing. Give it a big toss.
  10. Place on the table with servers and bowls and let everyone help themselves!





Warm Beef Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing

If you’re a little bored with ‘meat and 3 veg’, then shake things up a bit by layering your veggies and meat on a plate, drizzling it with a dressing and calling it a salad!

Warm Beef Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 30m


  • 500 grams rump steak
  • 1 medium size sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin rounds
  • 1 bunch broccolini, cut in half
  • 50 grams goats cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted
  • 2 large handfuls green beans, topped and tailed
  • 1 handful snow peas, de-stringed
  • Creamy Balsamic Dressing
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 heaped teaspoon tahini paste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a jar with a lid. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  3. Place sweet potato rounds on a baking tray, lightly spray with olive oil spray (or use a small amount of oil to coat), sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 mins or until soft and slightly golden. Set aside.
  4. While the sweet potato is roasting, steam the green vegetables lightly, in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. Set aside.
  5. Brush each side of the rump steak with olive oil and season with pepper.
  6. Heat a non stick pan over a medium to high heat and add the piece of steak. When you see blood start to rise to the surface, turn the steak over. Cook for a few minutes on the other side or until cooked to your liking and then remove from the pan. Place on a plate, and cover with foil to allow to rest.
  7. Assemble together all the ingredients, layering the green vegetables on a plate, followed by the sweet potato.
  8. Thinly slice the steak and place on top of the vegetables.
  9. Sprinkle with goats cheese and pepitas and drizzle over the dressing.