Tuesday, 26 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Chicken or Turkey Casserole

Hello again,

Talking about leftovers then here is a simple recipe to follow and it is makes a very enjoyable meal.

If you cook a roast dinner say a chicken or turkey and there is a lot left then what could be simpler than a Chicken or Turkey Casserole.

3 cups leftover chicken or turkey cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large can low sodium low fat cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon light oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 carrots chopped or diced
1 large potato chopped into cubes
1 cup garden peas
2 tablespoon of chopped parsley and thyme
Pasta shells 2 cups cooked shells
2 cups crushed cereal (cornflakes, rice crispies, or shredded wheat)

Cook pasta shells in boiling salted water until just tender.

In saucepan heat oil and cook the onions, garlic and ginger until soft, add the carrots, potato and continue cooking 5 minutes then add the garden peas cook another 2 minutes.

In oven proof dish place the chicken to it add sauté vegetables, cooked pasta and mushroom soup and herbs. Mix well, sprinkle with crushed cereal and bake in preheated oven 325 F or 150 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Serve with salad, fresh sliced tomatoes or sliced melon.

For added flavour add ½ cup grated parmesan cheese to mixture.

I will use a risotto rice or wild rice rather than pasta, or different types of noodles such as glass noodles.

Friday, 22 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Potato Cakes


A lot of times I will intentionally make extra for a meal just so I can have leftovers.

Especially when I know my next day will be busy and I will be getting home late. I want something that will be simple to put together, and satisfying to eat, and this is easy to do with leftovers.

In a bowl take left over potatoes if not mashed then just crush them up, add any leftover vegetables to is crush them up as well. Add ½ to 1 cup of grated cheese, (low fat) 1 tablespoon flour, 1 small onion finely chopped.

If you want spice add a few drops of Tabasco/Chilli sauce or chop up a chilli pepper or add dried chilli flakes.

In a small bowl mix an egg then add it to the potato mixture and mix well. The egg will help hold the mixture together.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled baking pan or oven proof bowl and cook in a preheated hot over 400 F or 180 C for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with a fresh salad, or slices of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

You can make individual potato cakes, especially if you have children, serve with fresh vegetables cut into stick.

For a potato omelette mix 4 eggs in bowl the same potato mixture (or if you prefer slice the potatoes and vegetables), mix well, it will be sloppy, transfer to lightly oiled baking pan or oven proof bowl and cook as above.

A simple, tasty meal which uses up the leftovers.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Stuffed Beef Slices

Hello again,

Here is another idea for leftovers.

I am giving you these ideas for roasts dinners as these are the types of dinners where you usually have more left than say cooking just small meals such as chicken breast with a baked potato where you make just what is needed.

In this case it will be a roast beef dinner leftover and I will call this Stuffed Beef Slices

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp (tablespoon) olive oil
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 tbsp. milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
8 slices cooked roast beef (about 1/8" thick)
14 oz. can chopped tomatoes, undrained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
½ tsp (teaspoon) chopped basil leaves can use dried
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp honey can use sugar
1 cup cereal crushed, season with 1 tbsp of chopped basil, parsley, thyme or tarragon

Preheat oven to 350 F or 160 C.

In saucepan heat oil and cook onions and garlic until tender. Remove from heat and stir in potatoes, milk and parmesan cheese.

Put a small amount of potato mixture onto a slice of beef. Roll up to enclose the potato mixture. Do this for all your slices of beef.

In an oven proof baking dish cover the bottom with thin layer of tomato sauce. Place beef rolls in pan, seam side down. Mix tomatoes, remaining tomato sauce, basil, salt, pepper and honey and pour over filled rolls. Sprinkle top with seasoned crumbs and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Serve with green leafy salad or vegetables that are in season. How simple is that.

Use grated low fat cheese rather than crumbs for a variation.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Bubble and Squeak

Hello again,

I talked earlier about how a lot of people do not want to deal with leftover. But leftovers can be used up so easily and the meal does not seem like leftovers.

I guess a lot of people think leftovers is just redoing the same meal again with the left over ingredients, rather than use these leftovers for another type of meal altogether.

For example here is a great way to use up left over vegetables and mash potatoes, especially after a Sunday roast. The easiest thing to make is Bubble and Squeak.

1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
Left over mashed potatoes about 3 cups
Left over vegetables chopped about 2 cups
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp (tablespoon) flour
2 tbsp light oil

In skillet heat oil, add onion and garlic and cook until tender.

In bowl mix mashed potatoes, vegetables, cheese and flour add the onion and garlic and form into patties.

Place patties on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in preheated oven 400 F – 200 C for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Rather than make patties, in the skillet after cooking the onions and garlic, mix in the potato mixture and brown on both sides.

Serve with poached eggs, fried eggs or slices of leftover meat.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Food Waste - Tips to Stop Wastage

Hello again,

Today in 1st world countries we tend to waste a lot of food. Why waste food? This could be because we are more affluent today so may feel we can waste what we do not want, as we have the money to do this.

Another reason is we are obsessed with sell by dates. Tend to throw away perfectly good food because it is close to its sell by date or just past. Years ago you knew when something was off, it either, looked off, smelled off or tasted off, didn’t need a date stamp to tell you this. A lot of time the food is not bad when it reaches its sell by date, it just is not as fresh as it could be, but it is still useable.

We also tend to be greedy when food shopping, buy more perishable food than able to use up therefore a lot of it goes into the trash. This is tragic.

The best way to avoid this is to plan ahead a little, acknowledge what you will use and what won’t get used and cut back on your shopping. Make out a list of what you need or want and stick to it, don’t go off track and start buying what looks or sounds good. Can always get a few extras but be careful. And don’t go shopping when you are hungry as you will overspend and buy stuff you don’t need and won’t be able to use up.

If you only do a weekly shop and you happen to know that you will be out 3 evening then don’t buy the same volume of perishable food that you do when you know you will be home 7 evening.

Analyse from previous weeks what you tend to use up and what gets ignored and then tossed. This way you don’t end up wasting what you don’t use, buy what you know you need and will use.

Then there is the issue of leftovers, what to do with them. A lot of people just do not want to bother with leftovers so they just bin what they don’t eat. Is this because when cooking meals, their eyes are bigger than their stomach and tend to make more than they can eat, or is it because they just can not judge how much to make per meal. When ordering in, do you tend to think you are hungrier than you actually are and order far more than you can possibly eat, or get carried away and want to try every dish on the menue or get all your favourites.

If you won’t eat leftover then again work it out, decide before you start how much food is needed to prepare your meal or how many dishes to order in, don’t get carried away.

Here is a general guide I tend to use when preparing my meals. Most people eat 1 medium size potato, about ½ to 1 cup of vegetables and 1 – 2 slices of meat or 1 chop/fillet per serving.

When preparing your meal if there are 4 eating then prepare 4 -5 medium potatoes cut them in half if you are boiling them, or cook just 4 if you are baking them. Prepare about 4&½ cups of vegetables, so if making more than one vegetable dish then do half and half. With the meat if it is chops, steaks or fish fillets, depending on size, it is one each, you really do not need more than 4 -6 oz of meat per serving. If it is a roast most will have 2 good size slices of meat as their serving so you can judge how big a roast you should cook, however most roast are excellent to use for sandwiches or salads the next day. When I say roast I mean roast of beef, lamb, chicken or pork.

Dry pasta it is usually a ½ cup per person or small hand full of spaghetti per person as it swells when it cooks. Most people have about 1 cup of cooked pasta/spaghetti per serving.

Rice doubles in size when cooked so if there is 2 of you eating then use 1 to 1& ½ cup of uncooked rice and this should give you the proper portion of cooked rice. Most people have ½ to 1 cup of cooked rice per serving.

Hopefully this will help prevent food wastage, or if you happen to have trouble judging how much to prepare for your meals and tend to not want to have to use leftovers.

In my next few blogs, I will provide some recipes to give you ideas on how to use your leftovers and they won’t seem like leftovers.

Monday, 18 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Salmon Risotto

Hello again,

For all you Salmon lovers here is a Risotto you are sure to love. I am not sure how smoked salmon would work but you never know unless you try. But I would start by using fresh salmon.

Salmon Risotto

2 tbsp (tablespoon) light oil
1 large onion thinly chopped, or spring onions white part only
½ cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups Arborio or risotto rice
3 cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine (optional)
450 g salmon fillet skinned and diced
3 tbsp fresh tarragon chopped

In saucepan heat oil add onions and cucumber cook until softened, do not brown.
Add rice, wine and stock, bring to boil then simmer for 10 minutes, stir occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Gently stir in the salmon and tarragon and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes.

Serve with a fresh green leafy salad.

Now you have an idea how to cook Risotto you can try various meats and vegetables combinations. Come up with your own ideas just remember to watch the liquid as you do not want your risotto runny or too dry, it should be moist or creamy.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

MaryLee's Healthy Food and Easy Cooking - Seafood Risotto

Hello again,

Here is another Risotto dish I hope you try. This is one for special occasions as it is very rich.

Seafood Risotto

2 tbsp (tablespoon) light oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 clove garlic chopped
1 cup Arborio or Risotto or Carnaroli rice
¼ cup white or red wine (optional)
5 ½ cup fish stock
350g or 12 oz mixed seafood (prawns, mussels, squid, clams)
½ lemon juice and grate the rind
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

In saucepan heat oil over medium low heat, add onions and garlic cook until softened, add rice and stir until evenly coated. Add the wine if using cook until absorbed.
Add ½ cup of stock and continue to stir. Once stock has absorbed add another ½ cup and continue doing so until rice becomes soft about 10 - 15 minutes. Use less stock near the end of cooking time, want risotto creamy not runny.

Add the seafood cook for 3 – 5 minutes then stir in the lemon juice, rind and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper if needed, but the stock should have enough seasoning.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Can buy either fresh seafood just be sure to shell the prawns and remove the beards of the mussels and clams. However, most stores now have ready to use, no cleaning necessary, mixed bags of seafood which work perfect for this dish.

For a really special occasion add lobster or crab meat.