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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penne with Sausage and Kale

Pasta is such a great ‘go to’ meal for those rushed mid-week nights. Most kids love it, it’s inexpensive and in most houses, a pantry staple.

For those watching their carbohydrate intake, keeping pasta meals to a minimum and using wholemeal varieties means you can enjoy pasta as a part of a balanced diet.  We also live in a time where there are many wheat-free pasta options available, so if you are steering clear of wheat, you can substitute brown rice pasta or gluten free pasta in this recipe. 

This recipe, from Curtis Stone’s cookbook Good Food Good Life, is quick to make and full of flavour. I love the way he has added Kale, (often disliked by children due to it’s bitter taste) and made it a part of a very tasty dish. This dish got the thumbs up from the whole family, even the kale part!

As a busy mum, I opted for the 500 grams of pork and veal mince in this recipe, even though Curtis suggests you use the meat from inside good quality sausages, removing and discarding their casings. That just felt a little too hard for me after arriving home late from soccer training on a Tuesday night and needing dinner on the table PRONTO.

As another school term begins and we hit the downward run to Christmas (did I just really type that?) you might be able to add this to your menu for something a little different. 

Penne with Sausage and Kale
Serves 5
A tomato-based pasta dish with sausage meat, kale and parmesan cheese.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 pork sausages, casings removed OR 500gm pork and veal mince
  2. 1/2 bunch Kale, trimmed and roughly chopped (approx 2 cups)
  3. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  4. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  5. 1x 500gm jar pasta sauce (tomato based)
  6. 400gm penne, (wholemeal or gluten free pasta options work well too)
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. shredded parmesan cheese to serve
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Add the penne and cook according to packet directions.
  3. While the penne is cooking, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sausage meat or mince, and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon as it cooks.
  5. Once it is golden brown, add the chopped kale and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the kale starts to wilt.
  6. Add the wine and jar of pasta sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes or the liquid is slightly reduced.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of it's cooking liquid.
  8. Toss the penne into the sauce and add a little of the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.
Adapted from Good Food Good Life
Adapted from Good Food Good Life
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

Pumpkin & Pancetta Pasta Bake

Move over Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

This creamy pasta bake, finished with a crunchy, cheesy, spinach topping is just so good. Even the almost-5-year-old-very-fussy-at-the-moment-eater gobbled it up. 

The leek, pumpkin, pancetta and pasta cook together in a mix of stock and coconut cream. Once cooked, it’s poured into a baking dish before topping with a finely processed mix of breadcrumbs, baby spinach leaves, lemon zest and cheese.

IMG_8853

This is my version of a recipe from Delicious Magazine, August 2009. I subbed the macaroni for wholemeal penne, the cream for coconut cream, the onion for leek, and instead of parsley in the topping, I used spinach for colour and extra goodness.

You can easily make this a vegetarian dish, by leaving out the pancetta and using vegetable stock.

If you’ve been making the same pasta dish over and over for years now, I hope you’ll give this one a go! 

Enjoy x

Pumpkin & Pancetta Pasta Bake
Serves 6
A creamy pasta bake with pumpkin, pancetta, leek and rosemary, finished with a crunchy cheesy spinach topping.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 leek, white part only, washed and finely chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  4. 100 grams pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  5. 800 grams pumpkin, peeled, cut into small cubes (to give 3 cups)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  7. 3 cups chicken stock
  8. 300 grams wholemeal penne
  9. 300 ml coconut cream
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  11. 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  12. Topping
  13. 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  14. zest of 1 lemon
  15. large handful of baby spinach leaves
  16. 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large frying pan.
  3. Add pancetta or bacon, leek and garlic and cook, stirring until leek is softened.
  4. Add pumpkin, chilli flakes and half the chicken stock.
  5. Cook for 6 or so minutes or until the pumpkin softens.
  6. Add the penne, coconut cream, rosemary and remaining chicken stock to the pan.
  7. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes or so, until the penne is al dente (just cooked) and the pumpkin has fallen apart and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
  8. Stir through the cheese.
  9. Pour into a medium size baking dish.
  10. Combine all the topping ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely processed.
  11. Cover the pasta with the topping and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

 

Avocado and Lemon Pasta

This dish is known as ‘Green Pasta’ in our house, and when the kids find out we are having it, they fist pump the air and say “We love Green Pasta!”  I find this quite amusing as all 3 don’t like avocado. Please don’t anyone tell them that’s the main ingredient!

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients

500gm pasta, we use fettuccine

2 ripe avocados

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic

3-4 tablespoons of lemon infused olive oil (or plain if you don’t have it)

1 tablespoon of basil paste or a small handful of fresh basil leaves

a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

While your pasta of choice is cooking, place the flesh of the avocados, the lemon juice, garlic clove and basil in food processor and blitz until smooth.

While the motor is running, add the olive oil slowly. Taste and season with salt and pepper and add more olive oil if you wish.

Drain the pasta and toss it through the avocado sauce.

Serve with cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.