beef sausage lasagna bake with orecchiette

One of the things I so love about cooking is finding inspiration from items I have in my fridge or freezer. A simpler version of lasagna using beef sausage, vegetables and orecchiette pasta, this dish cooks a little faster than your traditional lasagna as the pasta is cooked before adding it to the meat sauce.
Because sausages are packed with so much beautiful flavour I always remove the casing to enhance the dish. I used orecchiette pasta but any other pasta like penne, rigatoni or fusilli are great alternatives.

Serve this comforting meal with a simple garden or avocado salad and shavings of parmesan.
A delicious, budget friendly family meal!

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
600g beef sausage
1/2 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150g button mushrooms, quartered
2 zucchini, grated
1t dried oregano
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
2T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1T paprika
2T brown sugar
1C cherry tomatoes, whole
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1t salt
good grind of black pepper
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
2T olive oil
1T butter
2C grated cheddar
3C orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package intstructions

white sauce
35g butter
4T flour
2.5-3C milk
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 190C/170 with fan.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large, ovenproof skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until glossy. Remove the sausage meat from the casings by pressing it out, into the hot pan, like little meatballs. Discard the sausage casings and brown the meat all over. About 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the grated zucchini, rosemary, paprika, oregano, sugar, salt & pepper, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the crushed tomato into the pan and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cherry tomatoes, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the parsley through the mixture. Set aside.

make the white sauce
Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat. Add the flour and mix using a wooden spoon.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the milk while rapidly whisking. Place the pot back onto the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Leave to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick. (You must have a pourable sauce.)
Season with the salt & pepper.

assemble
Spoon the cooked orecchiette pasta onto the meat sauce. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and top with the grated cheddar cheese and thyme leaves.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until browned on top.




porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







vegetable fried rice

I have very fond memories of delicious rice dishes in both Thailand and Bali during my travels. Unlike my mother, I love rice and can eat it with almost anything.
This is a delicious, healthy meal and a great way of using any leftover rice and extra vegetables you may have in your fridge. Perfect fried rice is best when using cold, leftover long grain rice. A very hot wok is ideal but a large skillet will also do.

To simplify things and ensure even cooking, I like to grate some of the vegetables that would normally take longer to cook.
Great on its own or served as a side dish, you will most definitely return for seconds.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2C long grain rice, preferably a day old
2T olive oil
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1c broccoli, florets
1c mushrooms, sliced
1/2c frozen peas
2t grated ginger
1/4c soy sauce
1T sesame oil
2t fish sauce
1/2t red chili flakes, optional
3 eggs, beaten
1/2c spring onion, sliced diagonally
bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
salt to taste
black pepper
sesame seeds, garnish (optional)

how to
Heat olive oil & butter in a large wok or skillet. Fry the onion until glossy. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the carrot, zucchini, broccoli & mushrooms and cook for three minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the ginger & soya sauce, toss and cook one minute.
Add the rice, stir and toss as you cook for a further three minutes, then adding the peas, fish stock, sesame oil and chili flakes if using. Toss to coat and cook for three minutes.
Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Leave the eggs to cook for about a minute and then gently start folding the vegetable mixture through the eggs.
Season with salt & pepper and keep folding while the eggs cook.
Once the eggs are cooked, remove the wok / skillet from the heat.

Stir the cilantro through the mixture and garnish with the sliced spring onion & sesame seeds.

Serve warm.









mutton & tomato stew

Mutton is meat from older sheep; about three years old. The meat is an intense color of red and quite fatty with a strong, gamey flavor. The fat makes it the perfect cut for this stew giving it big, bold flavor. Exactly what I had in mind.
Very similar to the traditional South-African tomato ‘bredie’ this stew is perfect for a cold, wet winters’ night.
Your freezer is your friend…leftovers are perfect for mutton ragu that you can use for a future pie, to toss through pappardelle or on an open pulled mutton sandwich.

Serve with a side of rice, mashed potato, roasted sweet potato or butternut mash.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1.3kg stewing mutton, bone in
1/2C flour
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper
3T olive oil plus more for browning meat
1T butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, cut into big chunks
2T paprika
3 bay leaves
2T tomato paste
1.5t dried oregano
3 rosemary stalks, leaves only
1.2C red wine
1 can crushed tomato
3C beef stock
2T brown sugar
1t salt
1t black pepper
2T fresh parsley

how to to do it
Mix the flour, salt & white pepper and dredge the meat in the flour mixture and shake excess flour off. Discard any leftover flour. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the meat in batches, adding more oil as needed.
Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of oil and the butter to the pot without cleaning it and saute the chopped onion until glossy, stirring occasionally. About three minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for one minute. Pour the red wine into the pot to de-glaze. Cook for about two minutes to reduce.
Add the paprika, rosemary, garlic & dried oregano and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and stir to coat. Pour the crushed tomato into the pot and add the bay leaves, sugar and seasoning. Stir and cook for two minutes.
Pour the stock into the pot and give it a good stir. Lastly add the meat. Stir everything together and bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat down to low for a gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours, stirring a few times during cooking. Now add the carrots, place the lid back on the pot and cook for a further 1.5 – two hours.

Check the meat, which should be fall off the bone tender. If you prefer it falling off the bone completely, cook for a further 30 minutes to one hour.
Carefully remove the lid, increase the heat to a moderate simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered to thicken the sauce if desired. Take care not to burn the bottom of the pot by occasionally stirring during cooking.

Once cooked, stir through the chopped fresh parsley and serve with a side of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



easy creamy chicken & tomato

Another great dish if you have leftover chicken from a roast or if you have chicken breast in abundance lurking in your freezer!
I cooked a de-boned, rolled chicken two nights ago and was left with about 600g of beautifully tender chicken meat, which was recycled into this very tasty dish that i served with brown basmati rice.
It really only took a few simple ingredients and about half hour to whip up an amazing dinner that was not only perfect for my taste buds but also that of my toddler.
Easy. Quick. Delicious. The perfect comfort food that fits a busy schedule.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
600g cooked or uncooked chicken
2T olive oil
2T butter
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 punnet / 160g mushrooms, sliced
2T paprika
3T sun dried tomato pesto
1T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1/2C chicken stock
3/4C cream
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1T brown sugar
1/2C rosa tomatoes, whole
50g plain goat’s cheese (optional)
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper
handful fresh parsley, chopped

brown or white basmati rice to serve – cooked according to package instructions.

how to
If you are using uncooked chicken, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same skillet, heat a little more olive oil, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent. Add the paprika & tomato paste and cook for about one minute until fragrant. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and cook for about five minutes on medium heat.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet, stir and cook for one minute. Add the sun dried tomato pesto, salt, sugar, pepper & thyme, stir to combine and then add the chicken stock.
(If you are using uncooked chicken, add it now.)
Place the lid on the skillet and simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.
Lift the lid, add the cream, goat’s cheese (if using) the cooked chicken & cocktail tomatoes and leave to simmer until the tomatoes have popped and the sauce has thickened.
Sprinkle the chopped parsley into the skillet and stir to combine.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x