Cold and numbing weather can leave us in often think of comfort food but have you ever wondered how much energy and time it takes to make a roast meal, pasta dishes, and desserts?
Here are few tips to cut down on cooking time and expense this winter while still enjoying comfort food favorites:
Tip 1: Cook with a slow cooker
When the weather gets cooler, pop the ingredients into your slow cooker for a hearty soup. This is a great alternative to a traditional oven that allows you to prepare a meal in advance. Soups, stews and roast meals can all be made in the slow cooker. Here’s an easy recipe for pumpkin soup that will warm you up from the inside:
Pumpkin Soup with a Zing:
Prep Time: 0:45 Minutes
Cook Time: 4:00 Hours
- 3/4 medium butternut pumpkin, chopped with skin and seeds removed
- 2 medium potatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable liquid stock
- 1 cup full cream or evaporated milk (lower fat)
- salt and pepper
- Chili powder to taste, if desired
Place peeled pumpkin, potatoes, onion, curry powder and stock in a large slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Process until smooth using a food processor or a stick blender, Stir through the cream and chili powder (if desired).
Tip 2: Cook with gas
Using gas stove tops are way cheaper than electric stovetops. You have greater control over your cooking, you can immediately reduce or increase the amount of heat as you twist the gas dial. Prepare an Italian dish for dinner in less than an hour.
Prep Time: 0:10 Minutes
Cook Time: 0:15 Minutes
- 375 gm fettuccine pasta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 100 gm short bacon, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 zucchini, sliced thinly into ribbons
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- cracked black pepper, to serve
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 10-12 mins or until tender, drain. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins. Add bacon and thyme and cook 2 mins. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine. Remove from heat and slowly pour in milk while stirring constantly. Return to medium heat and cook for 4-5 mins until thickened. Add zucchini and cook for 5 mins. Season to taste. Stir in cheese and pasta. Serve immediately with cracked black pepper.
Tip 3: Use a sandwich press
Small appliances can make cooking much easier and are often more energy efficient than larger appliances. Love hot, toasty sandwich for a busy lunch?
Ham, Pineapple and Cheese Sandwich:
Prep Time: 0:05 Minutes
Cook Time: 0:15 Minutes
- olive oil cooking spray
- 8 thick slices white or wholemeal bread
- 200 gm shaved ham
- 225 gm can pineapple pieces in syrup, drained
- 200 gm cheese, cut into thin slices
Preheat a sandwich press. Spread oil evenly on 4 slices of bread, one-sided. Place onto a flat surface, oil-side down. Place half the ham onto bread slices. Place pineapple, cheese and ham and season. Top with remaining bread. Spray with oil. Place sandwiches, 2 at a time, into the sandwich press. Cook for 6 minutes or until golden.
Tip 4: Don’t miss the microwave
A microwave is a great way to reheat meals quickly but don’t forget it’s also a great way to cook. Cooking will not only be faster and more energy efficient. Make a fast, easy dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Microwave Lemon Pudding:
Prep Time: 0:02 Minutes
Cook Time: 0:08 Minutes
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 75 gm butter, melted, cooled
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon lemon rind, finely grated
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- Pure cream, to serve
- Icing sugar mixture, to serve
Grease a 7 cm-deep, 6-cup-capacity, heatproof, microwave-safe baking dish. Combine flour and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Make well in the center. Slowly add milk, egg, butter,1/4 cup juice and rind to the centre. Whisk to combine. Spoon mixture into the dish. Smooth top. Add lemon juice, boiling water and remaining sugar into a jug. Pour over the back of a large metal spoon to cover the batter. Position the dish onto a microwave safe rack or a dinner plate, uncovered, on high (100%) for 8 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the edge of the pudding comes out clean. Carefully remove from microwave. Dust with icing sugar. Drizzle with cream. Serve.
Tip 5: Make the most of the heat
If you are going to use the oven to cook your dinner, try and multi-task cooking- cook more than one dish at once! Cook extra and freeze for a later day, you save using the oven twice. Energy, time and money saving.