Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas bits & pieces

My apologies for lack of posts lately!

I'm actually enjoying some off-line time!

And thoroughly enjoying being crafty ;-)

Here's what I've been up to:

Making Christmas cards

Sewing bits and pieces:
 I adore this little ribbon tree set! Debating making it in adult size for myself!

Now I must admit that this stocking advent calendar was just a pre-made cut out kit that I bought. None the less, I think it is just SO cute! :-)

And of course,
I felt it necessary to show you my 'going out hair-do'....

Because there's always one crazy person at every party..... and that person is usually ME!

I am hoping to share a few more recipes in the next week that are quick & easy, but also nutritious. Much needed at this time of year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Potato Chop and Bake

I love a meal that is easy to prepare. 
This requires a bit of chopping but no 'cooking' other than putting it in the oven.
This can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge til its time to bake.
So tasty for something so easy :-)
Serves 4
5 medium potatoes
1 can chickpeas
1 leek
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/3 cup nutritional yeast 
2 garlic cloves
2 cups plant milk

Chop the potatoes into 2cm cubes. Spread over the base of a large baking dish.
Drain the chickpeas and pour them over the potato cubes, followed by the chopped leek, chopped mushrooms and frozen peas.
Sprinkle the nutritional yeast evenly over the vegetables.
Combine the cloves (crushed) in a jar with the milk and pepper (as much as desired). Mix together.
Pour the milk mixture over the vegetables and nutritional yeast.
Cover with foil and place in a preheated 200C oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until potatoes are soft and milk is absorbed.

Question of the day:
Do you prefer meals that require lots of chopping, or lots of hands-on type cooking?

Monday, December 9, 2013

In My Kitchen - Red & Green

December is often a time when the kitchen, and the whole house really, gets filled with bits and pieces lying everywhere, and the colours red and green seem to be everywhere! My kitchen is just that! 

Let's start with some lovely red and green produce picked from our garden! :-)
Such a delight to finally get to pick a few pieces. 

Our lovely tomato plant is growing strong. Lots of green tomatoes, and a few red ones. I don't actually like fresh tomato, but I'm looking forward to making lots of sauces.

In my kitchen is this packet of red chips! They are a new product available at Woolies. What a great alternative to regular corn chips. We don't regularly buy corn chips and I won't regularly buy these either, however there were a nice treat. Extremely tasty, but a bit salty for my personal taste.

When we were doing some Christmas shopping I simply couldn't go past this DIY gingerbread house kit. I love to do Christmas time baking and a gingerbread house is no exception. Often the ready-made kits have dairy &/or egg in them, or if there are vegan options that are full of junk. Will be great to create a gingerbread house that has fresh wholesome ingredients and without the hassle of making a paper template to cute out pieces.

Our kitchen is slowly getting filled with napkins, tissues and various other Christmas supplies.
I've also been going through our storage area and retriving all the Christmas platters!

Also in my kitchen is some new milks. 
I prefer to make my own soymilk for use in sauces, on cereal, in smoothies etc however for my morning coffee I have always favoured store-bought milk.
I have been trying various forms of milk to see if I can find a substitute for my favourite coffee milk that has changed. 
This Pure Harvest brand pictured below is one that I tried. The big red letters grabbed my attention in the store and also for my red & green post!

Very sad that my favourite 'green milk' is no longer available in the same form it was before. Although very similar, the new 'green milk' has no added fibre. Not that I'm worried about getting enough fibre in my diet, but it does mean that this new milk is not as thick. It still taste quite nice. This was my go-to milk for my morning coffee.
The only difference in the ingredients list between the old and new is that dietary fibre.
And of all the milks I've tried I must say that I'll still be sticking with Vitasoy for my regular coffee and fall back milk when I haven't had time to make my own!

What's happening in your kitchen at this time of year? Is it filled with red & green too?

Link your kitchen up on the Fig Jam & Lime Cordial blog.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pasta with Greens

If you've followed my blog for some time it will probably come as no surprise to you that I'm a pasta lover! In fact our whole family is! I am very pleased that I have finally got my husband to be a pasta eater too now!
I love to serve pasta in ways that aren't always just a standard red sauce and this is one of those alternative ways :-)
The little kick of sweet chili sauce adds a lovely touch without too much heat - don't skip it! 

You'll need:
250g pasta of choice
1/2 bunch kale, chopped into little pieces
8 large broccoli florets, chopped into little pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained

1 cup soymilk
1 Tablespoon cornflour
1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for recommended time. With 3 minutes spare, add the kale, broccoli and chickpeas.

Drain the pasta and vegetables.

While the pasta is draining, use the pot to make the cheesey sauce. 
*Remove the pot from the stove*
Combine all the sauce ingredients (soymilk, cornflour, sweet chili, nutritional yeast, garlic) in the pan and whisk together til cornflour and nutritional yeast has dissolved and the sauce in smooth. *This won't work properly if the pot is on the heat still as you need to dissolved cornflour in COLD fluid.

Return to the heat and continue to whisk until slightly thickened. Approx 3-4 minutes. 
Pour the drained pasta and vegetables back into the pot and stir well until all pasta has sauce over it.

Serves 3

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mixed Bean Burgers

I am a BIG fan of bean burgers! I'm yet to find a type that I don't like. But these ones were particularly tasty. Even my hubby who is not a bean burger fan thought these ones were ok.
Mixed Bean Burgers

You'll need:
2 cans lentils
1 can butter beans
1 batch okara -or other plant milk pulp (approx 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 Tablespoon garlic
1 Tablespoon Italian herbs

Drain all the canned beans & combine in a large mixing bowl.
Mash the beans together and then add the remaining ingredients.
With wet hands shape the mixture into patties and place on a lined baking tray.
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 40 mins until golden brown and firm.
These burgers need to cook for longer than other burgers as the okara adds quite a bit of moisture to them. Don't worry they won't dry out being in the oven that long - they will just brown nicely and be cooked through and won't fall apart.


Alternatively you can fry them in a frying pan. Approx 7 minutes each side. Be gentle when flipping.

Makes 12 burgers

Monday, November 25, 2013

Filo Potato Pie

I love a good pie. Even better when there's not too much pastry!
I don't regularly use filo pastry but when I do its a nice treat. 

Here's how I used up the last of the filo pastry I had in the fridge since making strudel.
We all love mashed potato and when we have some leftovers I love to add it onto the tops of pies!  
Its amazing what a fantastic dish can be made with a few leftovers & a few household staples!

You'll need:
4 sheets filo pastry
1 leek
1 can cannellini beans
3 cubes frozen spinach
1 teaspoon garlic
1 x 400g can tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in  1/4 cup water

1 cup mashed potato

Lightly spray a pie dish with oil.
Line the dish with the sheets of filo pastry. Place the sheets in the middle of the dish and allow the excess pastry to hang over the edges.
In a frying pan, combine the chopped leek, drained cannellini beans, spinach, garlic, herbs and tomatoes.
Cook until the leek is soft and the spinach has completely defrosted, approx 7 minutes. 
Stir in the cornflour mixture and stir straight away. The sauce will thicken.
Pour the mixture on top of the pastry.

Top the veggie/bean mixture with the mashed potato (you can either use leftover mash or make a new batch).
Fold the ends of the pastry over the filling and mash.
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Slice and serve :-)


Question of the day:
Do you prefer your pie topped with pastry or something else like mashed potato?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Veggie & Rice Bake with Cauli-Sauce Topping

This bake has a lot of layers & takes a bit of time, but its not at all hard.
In fact once the layers are put together it simply bakes in the oven.

We have had this many times and its always a winner. I love how big the meal is so that makes plenty of leftovers!
Its incredibly tasty & although it's just 'one' dish, it really is a complete meal by itself.
I especially love the cauli-sauce topping because I can't get my husband to eat cauliflower unless its hidden like this!!!! ;-)


Makes one large baking tray - Serves 6-8
You'll need:
Bottom layer: 

2-3 cups cooked brown rice
1 can lentils, salt free
1 onion
1 cup mushrooms
1 can tomatoes

1/2 green capsicum
1 can corn
1 carrot

Cauli sauce:
1/2 head of cauliflower
2 Tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoons minced garlic

Black pepper

Spread the pre-cooked brown rice into the bottom of a large baking dish.
Drain the lentils and spread the evenly over the rice, followed by the chopped onion & the chopped mushrooms. (Mushrooms shown only on one side of the bake here to keep hubby happy!)
Pour the canned tomatoes over the onions and mushrooms. Spread so evenly distributed.


I find the putting the tomato in the middle helps to keep the bake moist while its cooking instead of just on the top.

Chop the carrot & capsicum. Spread them over the tomatoes along with the drained corn.
To make the cauli-sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend til smooth and thick.

Pour the sauce over the bake and spread til all the veggies are completely covered.

 Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper.
Bake in a preheated 200C oven for  45-60 minutes. The vegetables will be tender but not completely soft after 45 minutes, they will be soft by 60 minutes - so the choice is yours! Please note, these times are for my oven and ovens can vary! Baking for 60 minutes will definitely brown your cauli-sauce but not to the point of being burnt. If you are worried about the browning you can cover the dish with foil.
Shown here baked for 1 hour.
So I must admit that this is not the 'prettiest' food to photograph! The pictures don't do it justice of how yummy it is! 
Definitely a home-style meal & not for photographic purposes!!!!

Submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday.
You can add your recipe at these blogs:
carrie on vegan

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In (and out) My Kitchen - November


Well this is a bumper edition that's for sure!
I not only have several things IN my kitchen to show you, but also several things that have gone OUT of my kitchen!

I have been attempting to reduce our clutter & with that comes parting with some kitchen items that no longer are used as frequently as they should be.

These include a bread maker and a yogurt maker (to name a few):
I never had much luck making dairy free yogurt despite several attempts.

And so that brings me to a few new food items that I have in my kitchen to try:
One being coconut yogurt.
This is a new product available at Woolies.
Its delicious! But quite high in fat and a bit costly. 

Unrefined sugar to cook with - replaces raw sugar in recipes. Not necessarily a "new" thing for me, but I do tend to refer to 'raw sugar' in recipes even when I'm using an equivalent unrefined sugar.
I picked up this range of McDougall Right Foods from Coles. I was soooooooo excited that they stocked them! I LOVE that these have no added oils. I haven't actually tried any yet. My husband tried the lentil soup and said it was ok. Again, on the costly side but worth it to have healthy convenience foods for when they are needed. I have the remaining items in my drawer at work for one morning when I don't make lunch!
And peanut butter cacao spread which I also picked up from Coles. 
To be honest, I would much rather just have plain peanut butter. This didn't tickle my fancy! But my daughter LOVES it.

I also have a bag of Mrs Mays snacks. These are soooooooooo delicious. Made using whole ingredients these are a healthy snack and although they look small, just 2 pieces is actually quite filling, so I'm very pleased with how long this bag has lasted us!
In my kitchen is this vegan Christmas pudding that is waiting til next month when it will be devoured! Also purchased from Coles & especially marked "vegan" - gotta love that!!!
Its nice to have a little one for our family when it is time to share a Christmas meal with our extended family. I'm sure I will have enough other food I need to make without adding Christmas pudding to the list!!!!

In My Kitchen is a range of new teas that I have purchased and am looking forward to trying:

In my kitchen is this bag of rocket seeds that I'm waiting to plant. We are running short of pots in our yard. I feel a Bunnings trip coming up soon! 
On my kitchen window sill is this little basil plant that we've grown from a seed :-)
It is due to be transferred to our garden anytime soon, where it can joint the other basil that is growing!

Our pot of basil!
Which brings me to some other things OUT of my kitchen that will hopefully one day come IN!
Capsicum plant
We have several edible items growing around our garden at the moment. Since we don't have any lawn they all need to be in pots. I can take NO credit whatsoever for our garden because I do not have any green thumbs on my body at all! My hubbie does all the gardening work! I'm quite proud of his effort! Its so incredibly exciting to see the produce actually beginning to grow and not just having a plant full of leaves!
Here's some others that we currently have growing:

Tomatoes - if these succeed they will become tomato sauce because none of us actually like eating fresh tomato!
Lemon tree - I really hope this one takes off. I miss having a lemon tree.
Kale - however, it seems that we just can't keep the bugs from enjoying these leaves - then again, I can't blame them! We have been trying to get this to work for over a year now! We have a new cover to put on it and see how we go!

Last but not least, in my kitchen I have some new Norwex cleaning cloths.
For those of you who are not familiar with Norwex products, they are a company that make products that reduce the need for chemicals in cleaning. This includes  a large range of anti-bacterial clothes that use silver particles that only need water for cleaning.
I'm all for cleaning without chemicals so I'm eager to use these more and see how they go. So far I'm really really pleased with them.


Link your kitchen up on the Fig Jam & Lime Cordial blog.