Archive for Ham/pork

May giveaway time

Quinoa salad, made Mr M&P friendly with SAUSAGE.

Quinoa salad, made Mr M&P-friendly with SAUSAGE.

Forget the bowlo meat raffle – this month my giveaway PUTS IT TO SHAME. The Peppercorn Food Company are giving one Vegie Smugglers reader the chance to have the ultimate meat-fest with a prize pack crammed full of their sausages, rissoles and meatloaves.

They sent me a pack a few weeks back and it was good to remember that sometimes beef sausages taste like beef and pork ones taste like pork etc etc. I baked a beef meatloaf and we ate it sliced thin and cold on sandwiches, the pork one was cut up and chucked through fried rice. Some of the sausages were yummy on my quinoa salad (pic above, but I’m still tweaking the salad recipe) and the Italian ones were great in this sausage goulash. Don’t be scared of such a daggy sounding dish – it was a huge hit with the kids and anything that cooks in one pot is always a huge hit with me, too.

To enter, just comment below and let us know how you like to cook sausages for your family. Make sure you’re a Vegie Smugglers subscriber and also swing by the Peppercorn Food Facebook page (tell them I sent you).

Please note, that since the prize is perishable and needs careful refrigeration, the winner needs to lives in the Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth metro areas. Entries close 8pm AST, Sunday May 26. ***CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER DABECS! NICE SUGGESTIONS ABOUT A GREAT SAUSAGE & PASTA RECIPE. HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR MEGA MEAT TRAY!

Not too daggy for hungry kids.

Not too daggy for hungry kids.

Sausage goulash (no truly)

Usually in these saucy dishes, I’ll grate the carrot and zucchini, but I don’t recommend it here as it makes the texture a bit weird.

8 Peppercorn Food Italian sausages, thickly sliced (or if slicing raw sausage grosses you out, cook them whole and slice afterwards – takes longer but same result).
1 brown onion, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 button mushrooms, very finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced (peeled first if your kids hate green bits)
1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
800g can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
Handful green beans, top & tailed & cut into 3cm lengths

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced sausage and cook, stirring regularly for 10 minutes or so until cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Add in the onion, carrot and celery and saute for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Add in the garlic for another minute then also add the mushrooms, zucchini and capsicum. Cook the vegies, stirring constantly for another couple of minutes until they are all softening down nicely.

Scatter over the paprika. Stir and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Return the sausages to the pan then carefully pour over the tomatoes. Rinse out the can with about 1/4 cup of water and add that along with the sugar. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover and leave simmering away for about 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the beans. Taste and add pepper if you fancy it. Simmer for another couple of minutes then serve on pasta.

Serves 2 adults and 4 kids.

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Do your kids take you for granted?

Last year I was working two days a week, but since the closure of that magazine I’ve been home full-time. Luckily I have this business and a bit of freelance design work to keep me afloat.

I’d like to say the extra time at home makes me a better parent, but it doesn’t. I’m still snappy and impatient, although the house IS usually full of baked goods and the lunchboxes are a bit fancier.

Somehow I’m still just as busy, but the tasks I’m caught up in are more mundane. School canteen last Friday, netball gala day on Saturday, play dates over the weekend, parent supervisor at band yesterday and reading groups volunteer today. Apparently, once upon a time, there was a stack of mums to share all these tasks around. But these days we’re a bit slim on the ground, so out of obligation you pick up more and more (although I’m strongly resisting the P&C).

I don’t mind, I quite like it and maybe one day my kids will look back with affection at everything I did for them. It’s fair to say though, right now, they’re pretty comfortable taking me for granted and just expecting the house slave to be at their beck and call.

Being regular kids, they’ve phased in and out of periods of rudeness and have never been particularly thankful for my presence (perhaps that shows what a great job I’m doing at creating a secure environment). In the past I’ve not been bothered about it. When you’re working out of the home you have other stuff to think about. But when you’re parenting full time it’s hard not to take it all bit more personally. Finding job satisfaction at home can be difficult.

It’s the small signifiers that show me when I’m doing well, like when a meal disappears. Which this stir-fry has done every time I’ve made it. It’s really easy too. You can marinade the meat all day and have everything chopped ready to throw together at dinnertime.

Which is good, since we’re out three afternoons a week. The kids having lives and me being their taxi driver and chief spectator. Sigh.

I never take an easy, tasty and popular meal for granted!

I never take an easy, tasty and popular meal for granted!

Pork stir fry

400g pork fillet (you used to have to go to the Chinese butcher for this cut, but I’ve seen it in regular supermarkets now – see here)
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
1-2 tbsp peanut oil
1 red onion, sliced in half moons
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 carrot, peeled, cut into thin diagonal slices
Handful of green beans, trimmed
Handful of snowpeas, whole or in strips
Splash extra of shaoxing wine

Rice & coriander to serve

Slice the pork into thin, 5mm strips. Toss in a bowl with the 5-spice and sauces. Cover and refrigerate for as long as you’ve got (I do this in the morning and leave it all day)

Prepare all your vegies before you start cooking.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat (as hot as you dare).

Add your oil (do not leave the kitchen!). Cook the pork in batches, stirring often until totally browned but not quite cooked through. This will take 1-2 MINUTES. That’s all! Keep it undercooked. KITCHEN TIP: Do cook the meat in batches – it is so quick to cook that it only takes a jiffie and will be about 10 times yummier than stewed, overcooked pork.

Remove the last of the meat and set aside. Reduce the heat slightly, return the pan and add more oil if needed. Stir fry the onion for a minute or so then add the ginger, capsicum and carrot. Keep it all moving for another minute before adding the beans and returning the meat and all the juices.

Cook everything for another minute, adding the shaoxing if the pan gets too dry.


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The want-a-thon

Miss Fruitarian wants a turtle. And a hamster. She wants real wings, a DS and pony called Sparkle.

Mr M&P wants the Harry Potter Lego game for (my) iPhone. And a second console for the PS3 (for daddy) and as much Chima Lego as he can get his hands on (even after seeing only one ad).

I want a nanny, a saxophone with a ‘silent’ switch, no cellulite and a daily foot rub from Hugh Jackman.

Mr VS is diplomatically coy about his desires, but I suspect he wants an extra hour in each day, children (and a wife) who know how to tidy up after themselves and a few hours alone with Megan Fox.

The kids also both want broccoli that tastes like chocolate, a mum who doesn’t insist on quite so much fresh produce and a new system of eating that involves the couch and interlocking straws.

Meanwhile, when I put this dinner down in front of the kids the other night, they didn’t really want it. It’s brown. But luckily we have the ‘two bite’ rule – that is, if I’ve bothered to make them dinner, then they need to show respect and take two big bites. Then, after genuinely trying, if they still don’t like it, I’ll give them some bread, a banana or extra yoghurt instead.

Turns out after two bites, they did want this after all. Because it’s yummy and two bites was all they needed to discover that.

slow cooker pea and ham soup

Tastes great with last week’s cheese muffins.

Slow cooker pea & ham soup

1 1/2 cups green split peas, rinsed well
1 brown onion, roughly diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 potato, peeled, diced
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
1 kg ham hock
8 cups water
3 tbsp parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen peas

Place the rinsed split peas in the bottom of your slow cooker. Layer the vegies over the top. Add in the bay leaf and plonk the ham hock in the middle. Pour over the water, cover and set to cook on low for 7 1/2 hours.

Remove the hock, transfer to a plate and shred off the meat. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Use a stick blender to make the soup a nice creamy consistency.

Return the shredded ham to the cooker along with the herbs and frozen peas. Leave for another half hour until the peas are bright green.

Serves 2 adults and 4 kids


If your family likes soups, try out these….
Pumpkin Corn & Lentil
Witches Stew
Chicken & Udon


Comments (8) »

You’re vegetarian, but the kids aren’t

So you’ve been a vegetarian for years, happily sitting on the bacon sidelines and letting the world of steaks, mince and roasts pass you by. But then you have a baby, who after a delightful vegetarian life reaches the 8-9 month mark and is ready for a bit more protein. What do you do?

Perhaps your reasons are ethical, environmental or just plain taste-based, you now have a bit of a dilemma about how to feed your family and do the best thing for your kids’ health.

There is no reason why you can’t raise vegetarian children. It does mean that you need to pay special attention to their diet to keep it nutritionally balanced. There’s a good article here and resource here to help guide you.

Kids need much less protein than we often think. Here’s a link to just how much they require. Often you can fill their need for animal protein with milk, cheese and eggs. Ideally though, you should take a visit to a nutritionist or dietician to ensure there is no deficiencies anywhere in your eating plan.

Possibly the biggest battle you’ll face is the opinions of concerned grandparents and friends who really can’t fathom that your little lovelies can survive without the occasional chop. And perhaps they have a point. Unless you’re being really vigilant, then it might be a good idea for the kids to get a little dose of animal protein and iron a couple of times a week. If you’re ok with this, then here are a couple of ways to do it without you having to handle meat too often.

Big batch and freeze it

Make double batches of bolognaise, fajita mince or chilli and freeze them in small portions. These lamb sausage rolls are also good. That night the kids can have their meat fix and you can enjoy your Indian-style tempeh all by yourself.

Versatile dinners

Heaps of dinners can be made to a point, and then modified to suit the meat and non/meat-eating members of your household. Cheesy pots can be customised easily, as can rice paper rolls (cookbook 2) and pasta bake (just make individual ones).

This recipe for Chinese meatballs is perfect too. Make a double batch and freeze them. Then next time you whip up a stir-fry, add a few reheated meatballs on top of the kid’s serve.

Remember, if handling meat is a problem for you, maybe ask the concerned grandparent if they wouldn’t mind whipping up a meatball care parcel for you from time to time. I reckon they’ll be so relieved that they’ll be happy to help.

vegie smugglers plum sauce chinese-style meatballs

Serve meatballs on whatever vegies and noodles you like. Top with another dollop of plum sauce and some coriander.

Chinese-style plum sauce meatballs

Canola oil spray
1 slice bread (any flavour)
1 large clove garlic
½ tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 zucchini
500g veal/pork mince
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp plum sauce
Sprinkle white pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with foil and spray with the oil spray.

Use a food processor (I like my mini-one) to blitz the bread up into breadcrumbs. Add in the garlic and 5-spice and blitz so that all the crumbs are a garlicky-aromatic source of yum. Add to a mixing bowl.

Pulse or grate the zucchini and add the bowl. Also add in the mince and all the flavourings.

Wear kitchen gloves and mix this all together well (or you can do all this in a large food processor if excessive handling of meat makes you queasy). Roll into bite-sized balls and place on the oven tray.

Spray meatballs with oil spray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, use tongs to carefully turn over, spray again and bake for another 10 minutes until cooked through.

Makes 30ish.

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The best way to smuggle… fennel (is in sausage rolls, of course!)

egg glaze for sausage rolls

Hide the sausage (roll).

So perhaps spring isn’t this vegie’s best time of year, but due to the supermarket’s supernatural powers, there were some good specimens staring at me the other day and I was inspired. Fennel is a divisive and often little loved vegie that even many adults baulk at. Not everyone loves the aniseed flavour. Which is a shame. When used well, it adds the best little dash of ‘noice & unuuuusssssual’ to a range of dishes.

After some thought, I decided the best way to entice you all to use it is to combine it with my most popular recipe of all time – sausage rolls. Consistently a winner with even the fussiest kids, a bit of puff pastry can hide a multitude of things – in this case it’s fennel, combined gorgeously with pork (which I don’t cook with often), apple, onion and carrot.

My kids were licking the plate at the end of this dinner, which is a rare and joyous occasion (last time it happened was this spaghetti carbonara). Anytime such a miraculous event occurs, I thank the gods and quickly dash to the computer to jot the recipe down. Et voila, a new family favourite to add to your repertoire.

Since the recipe only needs a cup of fennel, you’ll have leftovers. While the kids might not be so keen on it raw, I’m happy enough to eat it up sliced in green salads. And it’s also delish in this beef cannelloni.

vegie smugglers pork fennel apple sausage rolls

Smells fantastic and are seriously delicious.

Pork, apple & fennel sausage rolls

5 sheets puff pastry
500g pork mince
2 slices wholemeal (or white) bread
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 small Granny Smith apple, quartered & cored
1 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 red onion, peeled, roughly chopped
1 egg, whisked, for sticking and glazing
Sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer. Separate out 5 sheets. Score down the middle with a sharp knife and snap into two long rectangles. Set aside to thaw while you mix the filling.

Add the mince to a large mixing bowl. Use a food processor (I use my mini one) to make this prep really quick. Add the torn up bread and garlic to the processor and blitz to make lovely garlic breadcrumbs. Add to the mince. Blitz the carrot and add to the bowl. Repeat with all the vegies. (I do them all separately as they need different amounts of chopping time – eg, the carrots can handle a good blast, but just pulse the apple, to avoid everything turning into pulp).

Sprinkle everything with a stack of pepper, then use your hands (wear kitchen gloves) to combine the mixture really well. Roughly divide into 10, to give you a idea of quantities, then shape into sausages and place down the centre (lengthwise) of your pastry rectangles. Make sure the filling goes right to the edges so that no-one gets ripped off!

Brush egg down one side then use the plastic backing to help you ease over the pastry. Peel back the backing sheet and seal edges together firmly.

At this stage, I cut the backing plastic down the middle and wrap it around the rolls to protect the pastry from drying out while I finish off. Work quickly on the rest. Set aside what you need for dinner tonight, then roll each of the remaining ones in a layer of cling wrap and pop into the freezer. (I freeze them on a tray, then transfer to a zip lock bag for even more protection against freezer burn).

Cut tonight’s up into whatever lengths you like, place on the oven tray, brush with egg and sprinkle over sesame seeds (if using). Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Serve with salad and these chips.

Makes 10 sticks (about 40 pieces).

DEFROST THESE: for 24 hours in the fridge, then once totally thawed, cook as usual.

NO FOOD PROCESSOR? Then buy breadcrumbs from the shops, grate the apple, carrot and onion and super finely dice the fennel and celery.

If you LOVE sausage rolls, check out this lamb sausage roll recipe too.

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Over-run with ninjas and a prodigy cat.

Exhibit A (by boy)

I’m thinking that I should contact the Guiness Book of Records to see if my pet might just qualify for the ‘most prolific use of a texta by a feline’ category. He’s been busy, my cat. Diligently studying the penmanship of Mr Meat&Potatoes, he’s now able to replicate my boy’s ninja drawings with spooky accuracy. They’re everywhere. On the outside of any available cardboard box, littered throughout my ream of office paper and also on the wall right next to Mr M&P’s pillow on his new bunk bed. It’s uncanny.

Exhibit B (by boy)

I was complimenting the cat, noting the intricate line work and attention to detail when Mr M&P decided to set me straight. He disputes that Oscar the golden tabby is quite so clever. He says that whilst the cat shows an amazing amount of talent, most of the pictures are actually his. In fact, ONLY the ones drawn directly on the wall were done by the cat. So perhaps my call to the Guiness book folks will be to find out if there’s a category for ‘best duplication of ninja drawings (in biro) by a rescue pet’.

Exhibit C (by boy)

I’ll keep you posted on what they say.

Exhibit D (by cat)

Perfect for light fingered ninjas, these low-mess meals can easily be gobbled by kids on the run (from the truth)…

Tuna bites recipes smuggles zucchini

A perfectly mouth sized dinner.

Vegie Smuggling chicken sausage rolls

Known to be a ninja favourite.

Okonomiyaki recipe

And they’re bound to love these.

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Divide and conquer with minestrone

Imagine if Australia was as fiercely food-parochial as Italy. Or maybe we are? In the same way that you’ll never get a risotto alla Milanese in Naples, you’ll be hard pressed to find a souvlaki in Sydney and you’d NEVER find a chiko roll in Bondi. Unless you were being cool retro, in which case you’d be having to eat it whilst wearing Le specs, your favourite pair of Okanuis and it would probably we served on a bed of shrimp foam. Hmmmm, ok, it might happen.

Anyway, regional food division is FIERCE in Italy, never more apparent than in their minestrone recipes. For me, being a bit of a bogan Australian, I like a classic winter-time thick soup – a cuddle in a bowl that warms my toes.

Controversy surrounded this soup in my house – both husband and daughter were unimpressed by the addition of cabbage. She thought it ‘gross’, he thought it ‘farty’. Mr M&P loved it all and so did I. So I’m leaving it as an optional ingredient and you can make the judgement call for whatever will suit your household.

Buon appetito!

Minestrone Soup

Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
150g pancetta, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g can crushed tomatoes
1 ½ litres vegetable stock
1 zucchini (optional – they’re not great at this time of year)
Handful green beans (again optional, due to seasonality)
¼ small cabbage, sliced thinly (optional – see above)
½ cup peas
400g tin borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
¾ cup soup pasta (like rissoni)

Heat a large pot on medium heat. Add the oil and the onion, fry, stirring regularly for a couple of minutes. Add the pancetta, carrot and celery and continue to soften for 5-6 minutes.

Toss in the garlic for another minute, before adding the paste, tomatoes and stock. Stir well, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Add in the zucchini (if using), cabbage (if using), peas, beans and pasta and cook for another 8-10 minutes until everything is tender and delicious.

Season well with salt & pepper. Scatter over parsley and parmesan and serve with breadrolls.

With all the vegies, this makes enough for 2 adults and 4 kids.

Comments (3) »