Thursday, February 28, 2013

A-Z of Home Cleaning

I'm not posting this to encourage you to do the dishes or the washing more frequently..... we all know when they are overdue and need to be done.
I'm hoping this list can get you a little motivated to look around the home at other areas that are sometimes forgotten about.
Its not a complete list - but just a little something fun to help get the motivation flowing!!!

With March just around the corner, I'm planning to do a letter a day. And finish my alphabetical list just in time to relax before the Easter long weekend.
Everyone always mentions "Spring Cleaning" - well I reckon there's no reason not to clean in Autumn too! No-one wants the home to be un-organised going into winter!!! We need to feel comforted at home when we're stuck inside under blankets ;-)

  • A - Appliances. Yes we all wipe over the kitchen bench several times a day - but how often do you give your appliances a wipe? Today wipe over the kettle, the coffee machine, the toaster, the blender and any other kitchen appliances that need your care.  Did you know that just shaking the crumbs out of your toaster really isn't enough?......To help give it a thorough clean, pour a quarter of a cup of salt into your toaster, let it sit for 10 minutes and then give it a good shake out. 
  • B - Bathroom cabinet. Clean the toilet if you must, but also use today to clear everything out of the bathroom cabinet, wipe over the shelves & replace only those items that you know will be used. Bathrooms cabinets are often a place where items get jammed to the back and forgotten about.  
  • C - Cushions and pillows. When was the last time you washed the couch cushions??? They tend to get forgotten. Today remove all the covers from cushions and pillows, wash and dry them. Wash the pillows if they are washable and if not, then hang them in direct sunlight to give them a freshen up. Give them a nice big fluff before replacing the clean covers.
  • D - Dishes and dishwasher. This sounds boring doesn't it??? Today go through your everyday 'dish' cupboard and sort out which items you want to keep and not. Anything that is broken - toss it out (or find another purpose for it). Anything you no longer want or use, donate to charity. Clean your dishwasher by putting it on the hot cycle with just a jug of white vinegar in it!
  • E -Education. Sort through any college/uni papers. Any school papers of the kids that need organising? Work papers scattered everywhere.... If you have some extra money pay off education loan! 
  • F - Fridge and freezer. Hopefully its a nice hot day when you come across letter F! Remove everything from the fridge and wipe over with vanilla. Sort through containers & put back only what will be used. Toss any sauces, condiments etc that have sat in the fridge unused or are out-of-date. Defrost your freezer and check that nothing has sat in the bottom unused. If you have anything that is still in date but that you don't plan to use - why not cook a meal for your neighbour :-) 
  • G - Garage. Ok I hear you - I know its a man's department. But you can make your hubbie feel really loved if you just give it a sweep and tidy a few odds and ends! 
  • H - Hobby sorting. Most people have an area that is designated to their hobby activites. Whatever that is, craft, sewing, scrapbooking, other - tidy the area up. Sort through any piles that have accumulated and toss out any rubbish.

  • I - Ironing. Ok today is a nice easy one. Yep, just get on top of that ironing pile!!!
  • J - Jewellery and dressing table. Sort through your jewellery drawer & decide on pieces you want to keep/not keep. Sort out the top of that dressing table to have it looking lovely :-) 
  • K - Kitchen cupboards. Most people I know have a kitchen cupboard that they just dread opening! Is it your tupperware cupboard??? Whichever cupboard it is - use today to tackle it. Sort out what you want to keep and what is no longer needed.

  • L - Linen press. Sort out towels, handtowels, bed linen and other items that are stored in your linen press.
  • M - Mending. Today is the day to finally tackle that pile of buttons, zippers, hemming and other mending jobs that have sat around for a few months! If you're not the mending type - then use today to make the trip to a tailor to get it done.
  • N - Notes and notepads. Are you like me and have little bits of paper around the house everywhere? Go around the home and collect all the papers. Designate a proper place for 'notes', and check them weekly to sort which ones can be thrown away. Instead of having lots of little papers, see if you can keep one notepad with everything in it.
  • O - Ornaments. If you are an ornment keeper you'll know that sometimes they can get really dusty! Use today to gently wipe over your collection & decide if you want to continue to keep the items. If you're not an ornament collector, use today to wipe over any decorative pieces you have on display in your home (vases, picture frames etc).
  • P - Pantry! You knew it was coming right??? That's right - go through those shelves and toss old items. Donate items that won't be used. Items that are close to expiry put in a pile somewhere that they can be used in the next week.
  •  Q - Quilts & blankets. Air all quilt and blankets. If you can hang them in direct sunlight that is best as it helps to kill mold spores. Mold can start to develop even before we can see it!  
  • R- Rugs. Are you someone who vacuums over the rugs and forgets to lift it and actually vacuum under it??? I must admit that I'm quite guilty of that. Today lift any rugs off the floor - give them a good shake out and hang them in the sun. Actually vacuum the spot where the rug was before replacing the rug ;-)
  • S - Spray and wipe. Clean over all the clear surfaces in your home. Dust settles so easily and just a fresh wipe makes everything feel sparkly clean. I highly recommend this all purpose cleaner that I use.  
  •  T - Toy attack! With your child's help, sort out toys that are no longer wanted/used and create a pile to donate to charity. Sort the remaining toys into a sensible order that the child can access when wanting to. If you don't have children, I suggest using today to tackle that childhood soft toy collection that you might have! Give your furry friends a gentle wash & then decided if you still want to keep them! 
  • U - Under the sink. Another area very prone to clutter. How many take-away lunch containers do you really need?!? Clear everything out of these cupboards & check for no signs of leaking. Wipe shelves & replace only things that are needed and will be used.  
  • V - Vacuum. Another boring basic day! But just make sure that you do a proper job and use the skinny edge to clean along the skirting boards too! 
  • W - Window sills. Wipe along all the window sills and blinds (if you have them). Cooled black tea is fantastic to use to clean wood.  
  • X - X-tra. Have you found your motivation yet? Or lost it? Is there anything extra that you feel like sorting out in your home - then today is the day :-)
  •  Y - Yard. I am an indoors person so you won't find me out in the yard too often! None the less, when the yard is looking tidy it is a wonderful feeling. Use today to pile up that pile of leaves, sweep over any paved areas and just give the yard a general tidy.  
  • Z - zzzzzzzz. you've worked so hard over all these letter days! Use today to do anything else that you're motivated to clean and tidy - but whatever you do - make sure you get enough sleep tonight!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIAW - Last Week of February

Have you joined the fun yet?

Here's my nibbles for the day:
The chocolate rice pudding was soooooooooo delicious!
You can find the recipe here - thanks to Dreena Burton.

This month on the peas and crayons blog we've been celebrating

Tonight my husband tried sweet potato for the first time! 
Now that is love!
Sweet potato is one of my all time favourite vegetables so the thought of not having it as often as I would like to was devastating! Thankfully he enjoyed it, so now it will feature in our meals more often yyyyaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!!!

Sometimes though its not only veggies that we love.....
Sometimes I love taking pictures of food just because it looks nice or unusual.
So today for "love" I decided to collate some pictures of food I love the look of!
LOVE --> Let me show you the ways:

Iku love - when my husband brings home a meal for me!
Weekend love - pancakes for breakfast :-) Is it just me or do the banana pieces make this pancake stack look like a frog?!?
Couscous love - This confetti salad recipe is just DIVINE! I often make it when we have visitors and it always gets wonderful compliments.
Doughnut love - self explanatory really - especially when home made!
Pancake love  - topped with strawberries and tofu cream to be complete love.
Veggie love - of course I had to include a nice big picture in the middle of a beautiful pile of veggies :-)
Oreo love - much better when turned into pancake versions of course!
Polenta love - sliced into triangles and topped with veggies.
Sandwich love - best served with tofu bacon and salad.
Pizza love - another self explanatory one!!! I love square pizza bases, for no valid reason other than that they are a bit different from the norm - I like different :D No pizza is complete without being topped with my pizza cheeze sauce

What foods do you love?
Do you take pictures of food when you like what it looks like?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lentil, Corn and Tomato Stew

Welcome to Friday!
I hope this week has been kind to you :-)
You know what Friday posts are don't you.....

Don't forget to add you healthy link on these blogs:
carrie on vegan                    veggie nook                    greenthickies

Here's my recipe submission for the week.
Lentil, Corn and Tomato Stew - which has all of those things in it, plus zucchini because I just love it!
This stew is really easy to make and is very tasty.
It keeps well and is easy to reheat so it makes for great leftovers too.

You'll need:

1 cup green lentils
1 cup frozen corn kernels (you can use canned or fresh if you'd rather)
1 x 800g can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each oregano and marjoram
1 cup water (more or less depending on your cooker - you want everything to be just covered with water)

Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on slow for 6-8 hours.

If you don't have that much time you can cook it on high for 4 hours.

Don't have a slow-cooker, don't stress! This can also be made over a stovetop. Just place all the ingredients in a stock pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 hour. 

Kids Lunchbox Club - Quick and Tasty Noodles

1 cup udon nooodles (or other noodles of choice)
1/2 cup frozen vegetables of choice (I used carrots, peas and corn)
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soysauce
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce

Place the noodles and vegetables in a bowl that either has a lid or can be covered.
Pour boiling water over the top until the noodles are completely immersed.
Cover with a lid and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Drain and add the sauces and peanut butter.
Stir well.

Pop into a container for your little one!
Don't forget something to eat them with!!

 If your school doesn't allow nut products - you can always replace the peanut butter with tahini for an equally delicious lunch.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Green and Gold Tofu Scramble

When I first went vegan I was so nervous to try tofu scramble! I kept reading about it but I couldn't convince myself to give it a try. The great news is that when I finally got up enough courage to give it a try, I never looked back!

There are so many different variations to tofu scramble out there. 
This is how I enjoy it the most.  Maybe because the colours make me feel like I'm being a true "Aussie" ;-)
I love to add lots of veggies to the mix and a few flavourings. 
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

To serve 2:
300g firm tofu
4 button mushrooms
4 kale leaves
1 shallot
1/2 large capsicum (any colour you choose)
1 Tablespoon soysauce
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast

Chop the tofu into bite size pieces and place in a frying pan. Put just enough water that the tofu doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan but not so much that the tofu gets soggy - that may be a few tablespoons, depending on your pan. 
Chop the mushrooms, shallots and capsicum and add to the pan.
Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems. Break into small pieces and add to the pan. You may want to add a little water along the way just so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Top the mixture with the soysauce, turmeric and nutritional yeast and stir well. 
Stir frequently for about 5 minutes until all the veggies are tender.

Serve over toast or by itself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIAW - Veggie Love

Welcome to HUMP DAY everyone!

Do you call Wednesday's Hump Day?
The saying 'hump day' relates to the working week being like climbing a hill. It originates from feelings that Wednesday can be the hardest day of the week, the day that can feel the most exhausting & that we have the least amount of motivation because we've finally exhausted ourselves to get to the top of that hill! But at least after today it's a downhill run!!!!!!

Today I definitely felt like I was on the top of the hill!

Being up a touch earlier than usual meant that I was out the door without any rush. We had an office meeting for several hours, which is always great because I love my fellow workmates so much. This afternoon I had my first trip to Costco. The drive home this week on the freeway was only ONE HOUR!!!!!!!!! Wooooo-hoooooo :D And I was welcomed at home by a parcel of bras I'd ordered online *cheap* - my favourite brand!
Seriously - does a day get any better than that??????
Well stocked with dates, rice, tofu, passata and...... bras!!!!!

Here's my munchies for today:
I had a nectarine and apricot for afternoon tea and I also must admit that I did have a Macro bar on the way home..... it was a precautionary step that I took leaving one in my handbag just in case the drive home was bad..... but even though it wasn't I ate it anyway ;-)

This month on the peas and crayons blog veggies are getting a special mention!
WIAW followers are joining in love your veggies month!
If you ask me, veggies are definitely worth loving!
As I sat and thought about which veggie I would want to share the love of, I really couldn't decide!
I loooooooooove red capsicum....
   but I also loooooooooooooooove cauliflower............
        and I can't forget how much I looooooooooooooove snow peas, and shallots and mushrooms and............
Well you get the point!

Today I decided to share with you some EGGPLANT love <3.
Yes, I love eggplant too! (Also known as aubergine!)
Yesterday I made an Eggplant Moussaka recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. Clearly our eggplants needed to be used soon ;-)
I had never tried a moussaka before but had always wanted to so I was very excited. 
The recipe has 3 parts - lentils, eggplant & sauce. Each part is made from scratch. 
I really enjoyed the whole process!
And it was amazingly tasty! :-)

Do you have a favourite vegetable?
What's your favourite way to cook with it?
Have you tried any new recipes with it lately?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kids Lunchbox Club - Mighty Pillows

My inner health freak was cringing at the thought of sending this to school for my daughter. But then the mother side of me who wants her to grow up enjoying vegan food said that it was ok for a special treat! I don't want her to grow up feeling like vegan food is boring & plain or that she's not allowed a treat. 
With that thought in mind I proceeded to make her day by allowing this to sneak into her lunchbox!
This is easy enough to make in the mornings (well not those rushed mornings!!).

Lay a sheet of puff pastry out. Cut it into 4 strips lengthways.
Spread each strip with vegemite or other yeast spread of choice.
Cut a slice of tofutti cheese into 4 long pieces.
Layer 2 pieces of the cheese on each strip of pastry.

Fold the pastry over and over until it reaches the edge. Press the sides down well til they are mashed together. 
The pastry treat will look like a little 'pillow'.

Place on a lined baking tray and bake at 200C for 15-20mins until golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly before putting into your kiddies (or your own) lunchbox! ;-)

Don't like vegemite?
You can make these pillows with corn relish instead! Equally delicious I promise!

Potato Lattice Pizza

This has become a favourite for my hubbie recently.
Its such a great way to top a pizza! I love making vegan pizzas that don't use processed vegan soy-cheese.
The smell of this cooking is just so delicious!

Top a pizza base with tomato paste.
I love the Bazaar wholemeal bases.
Sprinkle with torn fresh oregano leaves & chopped spring onions.

Cut a few roasted potatoes in thin slices. **
Layer on top of the pizza.
Squeeze BBQ sauce over the top of the potato slices in a lttice shape.

Bake at 200C for 20 minutes.
Of course you can add other toppings underneath the potato if you desire!

** I find it really handy to roast some extra potatoes when I can and leave them in the fridge. They can be used for so many different things if they are already cooked.
Options like this - potato salad, chopped and added into a leafy salad, they can be warmed up quickly and topped for an easy lunch too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A new take on Nacho's & Valentine's Day

A very Happy Valentine's Day to all my viewers!
I hope you've had a wonderful day regardless of if you are partnered or not!

The truth is, I've never really been a fan of Valentine's Day at all. I've always thought of it as just a department store revenue raiser!
Now don't get me wrong - yes my wonderful hubby does spoil me every year even though I see no need for it. 

Just today though, I found out the truth about Valentine's Day!
I think I nearly had a little tear in my eye about how beautiful the story was.....

The origin of Valentine's Day comes from a Christian saint, Valentinus. Soldiers were forbidden to marry and Saint Valentinus performed wedding ceremonies for them. This landed him in prison!!!

With that in mind I decided that instead of costly gifts for my husband - this year (and future years) I intend to make "Valentine's Day" be a day where I do 'acts' that show him I love him and believe in the value of our marriage.

Today that included some cooked treats, a sewn gift, a crafted gift, and decorations! 
Chocolate brownies

I decided that we should have a special meal together. 
As I considered the options I thought that it would be nice to eat off the same plate together!!!! Hahahahaa I don't really know why I thought of that, it just seemed romantic!

So, here's what we had:

Except a much lower fat version to the traditional nachos.

Here's how:

Replace corn chips with rice crackers!
They stay wonderfully crispy in the oven despite my piles of toppings!

Layer rice crackers in the bottom of a lined oven-proof dish.
Sprinkle over chopped vegetables of choice and a few 'squirts' of tomato paste.
In a bowl, mash together a can of refried beans with half a jar of salsa. 
Pour spoonfuls of the refried bean mixture over the rice crackers and veggies. Top with more tomato paste if desired.
Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

Question of the day:
Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Why/why not?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Red Lentil & Spinach Sauce

Nervously my husband sat awaiting this meal. 
He wasn't convinced he would like it. 
He reminded me how much he's not a fan of trying "new things".
He took his first bite & I hear a squeal of delight "WOW - that sauce is so yummy!"
Both him & I were overjoyed!
"I'd even take that to work heated up" he said! WOW - it really was a winner in our house!

You'll need:
1 brown onion
1 cup red lentils
3 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon veggie salt
100g baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup tomato paste

Finely chop the onion and place in a dry frying pan. Water sautee for 5 minutes. 
Add the red lentils. Pour over the boiling water and add the veggie salt. Stir. 
Cover with a lid and leave for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed into the lentils and the lentils have become mushy. Stir in the spinach leaves. Stir well - cover and leave for another 5 minutes. The spinach leaves will wilt.
Stir in the tomato paste until it is well distributed.

Serve over pasta, potatoes or other grain of choice.
Makes 4 serves. 
Shown here over black bean spaghetti.

Have you tried this spaghetti?

I believe its fairly new to the market. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago at a health food store. It makes for a great pasta substitute. I didn't think it was too expensive. Just a few dollars for this packet which I felt would comfortably serve 4-5. It seemed to go so much further than regular pasta. It cooked really quickly too. It doesn't really taste like regular pasta at all though. I felt that it tasted quite similar to soba noodles. I enjoyed the taste and will definitely buy them again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In My Kitchen - February

Thanks to Kari from Bite Sized Thoughts I have found another great blog party that I've decided to join!
Thanks to Celia from
Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog for coming up with such an awesome idea as In my Kitchen!

I TOTALLY love this idea.
Probably because I'm a kitchen lover!!!

So for February there is-

A nearly empty packet of Tetley Tea for Soy - not because I've suddenly become a big tea drinker, but because I've discovered that black tea makes for an awesome hair conditioner! 
Sounds funny I know - but seriously give it a try! Brew a cup of black tea & allow it to cool. After shampooing (either with regular shampoo or an alternate "no poo" method), dip the ends of your hair into the tea cup to soak up some of the tea. Rinse it through your hair. Pour the remainder of the tea onto the top of your head too. This will leave your hair really shiny and smooth and will make it easy to brush :-)

There is also purple kitchen items

I was so excited when I individually unwrapped each of these purple gadgets at Christmas from my husband.
I'm quite particular about my favourite kitchen gadgets and which ones to use for each different purpose. But I must admit that these are rapidly becoming my favourites!
I have used all of these things except for the cookie cutters & I LOVE them all.

It took me a while to decide that purple was my favourite colour! You see I had a lot of trouble deciding which I liked better between pink or purple!
But yes, purple has come out on top. I think when I decided to have the decorations for my birthday party last year in purple that was official confirmation!!!

Simon Bryant's Vegies Book -

I am a big fan of the TV series "The Cook and The Chef". Simon & Maggie are great to watch! You can definitely tell that Simon loves his vegies! This guy is awesome! All his recipes are so different. Such creative ways of serving foods! I love the paper in this book - hahaha is that weird - I don't know how to describe it - its just so woody and exactly the way a cookbook should be. The pictures are amazing!

There is also an Electric Wok
Our amazing neighbours so generously gave this to us! 
IT IS AWESOME! Our kitchen has an electric stove top which makes using a standard wok quite hard - this electric wok works amazing!!!!
Don't be fooled by all the wrapping and think that I haven't put it to good use - that's just there to keep it looking nice & new all the time! I tend to do that with kitchen appliances - keep them in their box or wrapping to try and preserve their life a bit!

Easy Kale Lunch Wrap

It occurred to me this morning as I was thinking about what I would have for lunch that I have had this for the last 2 weeks on Friday and was planning on having it again today. Sounds like a perfect contribution to Health Vegan Fridays if you ask me!!!

You can add your link to Health Vegan Fridays on either of these blogs:
   -  the veggie nook
   -  carrie on vegan 

Thanks ladies for hosting :-)

Place in a warmed frying pan 4 sliced button mushrooms, torn leaves from 2 kale stems, 1/2 chopped red capsicum & 1/2 cup water.
Cover with a lid & allow to heat for 10 minutes.

Serve in a heated wrap with BBQ sauce & a sprinkling of nutritional yeast!

Roll up your wrap & eat - YUM! 

So simple and yet so incredibly tasty! :-)