Monday, April 29, 2013

Meatless Monday - Cabbage

Welcome to Meatless Monday A-Z
Today's cooking creation is with CABBAGE.

I know that cabbage doesn't always make the 'favourite vegetable' list for most people but I do honestly really like the taste of cabbage! I find it slightly tangy but strangely addictive! I love that it has so much texture and I enjoy it both raw & cooked.

This recipe is a really simply one with few flavours, yet it comes together wonderfully and has so much taste that you'll be surprised it has so few ingredients.

Cabbage Shiitake Stirfry
30g dried shiitake mushrooms (just over 1 cup worth)
1/4 green cabbage
100g snow peas
1 teaspoon molasses
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon minced ginger

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for a minimum of half hour.
Drain and then place in a preheated wok. Add the molasses and soy sauce & let the mushrooms absorb the moisture from the sauces. 
Finely chop the cabbage and add it to the shittake mushrooms. Mix well & allow to cook for 10-15 minutes constantly stirring, until the cabbage has turned a greenish colour and is soft but not completely wilted. You may want to add a few tablespoons of water along the way to stop the cabbage from sticking to the bottom of the wok.
Top and tail the snow peas and chop if desired. Add them to the wok & continue to stir fry for 2 minutes. 
Stir in the ginger. 
(Makes 2 serves)

This challenge is hosted by Better With Veggies why not join in the fun :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pets - A Tribute to Isabel

I had planned to write a post about pets for a few months.
I just never found the words that could adequately describe how I feel about them.

How much you just love them with your whole heart.
How much they truly become part of the family.
How much joy it brings you to watch them play.
How much it makes you feel happy just to see them happy.
How much it feels so wonderful to give them a 'treat' and see them 'smile' up at you. 
How much every ache and pain is diminished the moment you pat them.
How much after a stressful day its amazingly comforting to have them by your side and to feel their company.


How much you cry and cry and cry and cry when they pass....

Which is what happened yesterday :'(
One of my furkids passed away.

RIP Isabel

Isabel was one of my two ferrets. Anabel and Isabel are sisters who came from the same litter. I affectionately referred to them as my "Bellas". I got them at just 8 weeks old. I fell in love instantly. Although I don't like to play favourites, Isabel was definitely just that! She was so easy to train. She was always so affectionate and wanted cuddles all the time. Anabel is just very 'ferrety' and is far more interested in running around finding new smells instead of having a cuddle! 
Isabel would even kiss me when I held her and said "kiss for mummy".

It just felt so very very wrong this morning as I picked up Anabel out of their sleeping hut and moved her across to their play-pen on the other side of our house. I'm used to having my hands full with 2 cheeky Bella's running through my arms! 
These two were always attached at the hip....
.....and always in a funny position!
Having playtime in the garage & after coming back from answering the phone one time this is how I found them!

My husband recently spent a weekend making their playpen into a permanent fixture with tunnels and levels for them to jump up etc. I will never forget their delight as we added each new level for them to jump up onto - oh the fun of chasing each other around!

They often featured on our 'family' Christmas cards:
Poor Anabel - I'm not sure how she'll cope without her sister by her side 24/7.

I'm truly grateful that our parents always allowed us to have pets when we were growing up.
We had dogs and cats and guinea pigs and rabbits and birds and mice and even ducks!
And now as a parent I think its so great for children to learn how to care for animals and also its a great way to teach them about life! There's something about seeing the love a child has for their pet that warms my heart beyond what words can say!

Perhaps you could just say that I'm a pet person!

And so I must not forget my kitty either in this post about pets!

I truly do love all my furkids soooooo much! 
Here's one of my babies:
she sleeps through the night and doesn't need her nappy changed ;-)
She makes great company when working from home:
She makes great company during playtime too:
And although she doesn't overly enjoy cuddles, she always tolerates them!!!
And she understands that when you lose one of your other furkids, sometimes you just need to sit and cry.... and cuddle:
And when she lies on the end of your bed and looks up at you like this:
..... how could you NOT fall instantly in love and feel like she truly is just as precious as your human kids ;-)

So if a picture says a thousand words....
I guess I didn't need to think about what to say all those months ago.... I could of just posted these pictures! 

Question of the day:
Do you have furkids?
Did you grow up with pets or just have them as adults?

People are happier and healthy with pets!
It's now a proven fact that people who own a pet are less likely to suffer from depression and loneliness. Pet owners also tend to have higher self-esteem. Children who grow up with pets are less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies. Pets are also somehow linked to a reduced chance of suffering from a fatal heart attack!!!
If you don't believe me then check out these links for further reading:
So this Friday - be healthy.... and adopt a pet :-)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Healthier ANZAC Biscuits

For my international readers who may not know - today (25th April) is a day of remembrance for our troops who have fought at war. We call is ANZAC day (Australian New Zealand Army Corps).  

I really enjoy making ANZAC biscuits each year. 
The story about these biscuits (or so I'm told) is this: the wives used to send these cookies over to their hubbies and they were a recipe that kept well and had no milk or eggs in them! 
Most of the recipes we see these days do contain eggs and or butter even though that is not how traditional ANZAC biscuits made.  
Obviously I don't make them with butter - but this year I took it up another notch & ditched using oil too! I like to make all my recipes as fat free as possible. 

These worked out really really delicious & so much like traditional ANZAC biscuits that I will never go back! 
In fact, who said we just have to have them on ANZAC day - I think I'll have them all year round!

You'll need:
1 cup oats
1 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/3 cup brown rice malt syrup
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 Tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, coconut & brown sugar.
In a microwave jug combine the rice syrup with the apple sauce and microwave on high for 30 seconds. The rice syrup will be soft & easy to mix. Stir together well.
Combine the bi-carb soda with the boiling water & mix well. The bi-carb soda will froth.
Add the 2 wet mixtures into the dry & stir well.
It will look like its not wet enough but just keep mixing and it will come together.
Wet hands and roll tablespoons of mixture and place on a lined baking tray. Press down.
Bake at 180C for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 16 cookies

Inside the cookie - so deliciously light and fluffy yet just the right amount of crispness on the outside:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WIAW - Mexican Tofu Hash

Happy Wednesday everyone!

What did you eat today?
Add your link to What-I-Ate-Wednesday on the Peas & Crayons blog.

   Here's my eats of the day:
Recipe links:
Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Mexican Pizza - slices sandwiched together.
Lentil Pie - just made in the slow cooker instead and sliced potatoes in place of mash.
Tofu Hash - recipe below -->

Mexican Tofu Hash

When I think of a meal called "hash", potatoes come to mind! But who said you can't make a hash with tofu instead?!?!? You can always substitute the tofu for potatoes if you want a traditional hash!
I love coloured cooking!

You'll need:
1/2 cup black beans
100g firm tofu
1/2 red capsicum
1 spring onion
1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, cumin, oregano, chili
1/4 cup salsa

Chop the tofu, capsicum and onion into little cubes. Add to a dry preheated frying pan.
Add the herbs. Stir and add spoonfuls of water as needed to stop the mixture from sticking to the fry pan. Cook for approx 10 minutes or until veggies are soft. Stir in the salsa.

Serves 2.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In My Kitchen - April

Better late than never right???
I wondered around my kitchen last week hunting for things that were new or different from what was in my kitchen last month!

Here's what I found In My Kitchen for April:

A rice cooker! A new one!!!
I had a rice cooker many years ago but every time I used it water would spill everywhere. It drove me crazy so I went back to cooking rice on the stove. 
I'm now ready to give another rice cooker a go! I'm yet to use this one but hopefully it works out better than the last one did!
The first lot of the Australian season that I've bought. They are so wonderfully sweet and delicious. 

I often have these date and prune spreads in my fridge. I love them so much. They are just mashed up dates and prunes - no additives. They are great for cooking with or spreading on sandwiches.
This month I also have this sunflower seed spread in our kitchen. I have never tried it before. My daughter calls it 'fake peanut butter'! I got this for her to take on her sandwiches to daycare because they don't allow peanut butter (much to her disappointment!).

 A mould
I can't exactly call this a chocolate mould since I have no intention of making chocolate with it but instead I want to make fruit balls without having to roll them in my hands! 
I picked this up earlier this month for the bargain price of $1 on eBay. I wonder how long it will last ;-)

Not a new one, but one that I've pulled from the shelf and put tabs through it of all the recipes that I want to cook out of it! I wonder how far I'll get - so far I've made about 7. I'm really enjoying it and definitely recommend adding this to your collection.

What's in your kitchen that is different this month?
You can link your kitchen on the Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog. Thanks again to Celia for this wonderful idea and hosting! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Monday - Blueberries

Welcome to another edition of the Meatless Monday A-Z challenge hosted by Better With Veggies.
Today I'm creating with blueberries!

Similar to last week, I decided to combine some flavours that I hadn't tried together before to see how it worked out!
And also similar to last week I can say that I'm in love with the result!
I love how these muffins are like a sweet & sour flavour.
The tang of the lemon combines wonderfully with the unique flavour of blueberries. Definitely a winner! :-)
Makes 12 muffins
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - your choice)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 1/4 cup plant milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of half a lemon

Mix the flax seeds with 2 Tablespoons water and mix well. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar. Stir well. 
Add the blueberries making sure to coat them in the flour (this helps them not stick together in the mixture and also to help them not sink when baked).
Make a well in the center of the dry mix and stir in the milk, lemon juice, and flax mixture. Stir well. Add the zest.
Pour batter evenly into into a muffin baking tray that has been either oil-sprayed or lined. 
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 30 minutes until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Oven times will vary for each oven and also depending on the size of your muffin top ;-)  
Optional: Sprinkle the tops of your muffins with more lemon zest.

Blueberry Tip: 
Although blueberries are on the dirty dozen list, I often find it difficult to source organic ones. 
Did you know you can remove a large amount of pesticides by washing your produce?
I recommend washing your blueberries in a mix of 1/2 cup white vinegar to 2 cups water. Sit for 5-10 minutes and then rinse them off. You can dry them in a salad spinner. 

This can also lengthen the life of your berries - if they last in your fridge, they never seem to hang around long at our place ;-)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chickpea Pie Stew

As you've probably worked out by now I like to be the 'easy queen'.
This is another quick and easy meal that is great for those evenings when you're walking in the door a little later than you might have liked, but still need to get dinner on the table.

This is a bit like a stew and a bit like a pie. That's why its called 'pie stew'.
The bottom half reminds me of a chickpea stew and by adding the sweet potato on the top it reminds me a bit of shepherds pie!
None the less, whatever it is, the simply flavour combination tastes amazing.

Mix together in a large baking dish:
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can drained chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Bake 200 for 15 minutes.
While the 'stew' part is baking, peel one large (or 2 small) sweet potatoes and boil til soft (your choice microwave or stove top).

Mash the sweet potatoes and spread them over the top of the chickpea mixture. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve. Goes well with a side of steamed veggies or salad.

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WIAW - On a Tuesday

Happy Wednesday to all my readers :-)
I hope you've had a great today.

Add your link to the Peas & Crayons blog.

Today I have chosen to share with you What-I-Ate-Tuesday! My Wednesday meals are always so similar so that is why I'm given you some insight into other days of my week. This week's Tuesday was particularly exciting because it was 'burger day'. Each holidays my daughter and I have a day where we have a fry's burger :-) They sure are tasty and great for a treat but we don't eat them regularly since they aren't exactly 'health food'.

So here is what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast --> So incredibly tasty. I really enjoy eating quinoa for breakfast.
To make quinoa porridge, simply boil quinoa in milk and a touch of vanilla. Blend with a stick blender & add desired fruit.

Lunch --> a holiday treat! Lots of added veggies too :-) I love a good veggie burger.

Dinner --> I really enjoy Asian food but my husband does not, so while he was away for dinner this evening we made the most of it and enjoyed a tasty stir-fry. 
A frozen Asian veggie mix with rice noodles. Sauce was just soy sauce, sweet chili sauce & a tablespoon peanut butter. Absolutely delicious :-)

Question of the day:
What is something that you enjoy eating that your partner doesn't? 
When do you get to eat that food?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meatless Mondays A-Z Avocado

Have you ever heard of the Meatless Monday campaign?

I think its such a wonderful idea! As the website says "Good for you, good for the planet." 

I'm also joining in the Meatless Monday A-Z challenge hosted by the Better With Veggies blog. Each week I'll post a recipe for the food letter! You can read up about it here.
I missed the official start so even though this week is blueberry week I'm playing catchup and sharing my avocado recipe.

Check out what's in store for April:
Better With Veggies

I don't often eat avocados. So it was a nice change to buy one this week to experiment with.

As I walked through the fruit & veg shop thinking what I would create I remembered a time when I saw sliced avocado served with sliced mango. Even though it was plain is was delicious. I wondered if oranges would taste as yummy with avocado too so I decided to experiment. 

I was honestly surprised at how delicious this was! Don't be scared of the vinegar - it creates a wonderful sweet & sour taste that is just divine!

Avocado & Orange Salad

1/2 avocado
1 orange
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper

Peel and slice the orange. Slice the avocado. Serve in a dish & pour over the balsamic. Sprinkle with the pepper and serve.

Avocado Tip:
You can store avocados in brown paper bags to make them ripen quicker.
Remove the button from the bottom of the avocado to tell if its ripe. If the flesh showing is brown then its overripe, if its green then its ready to eat.

Kids Lunchbox Club - Bit-like-cake Sandwich

Kids Lunchbox Club 
 Bit-like-cake Sandwich

No more boring sandwiches here!
Just fun ones.
Ones that taste like cake :-)
Carrot cake is the sandwich here.....

This is a great one for getting the younger kids involved too as each slice of bread has a spread, a topping & a sprinkling. You can show them on one slice and they can prepare the other slice!

         What you'll need:

Spread one slice of bread with sunflower seed spread, grated sultanas & cinnamon.
Spread the other slice of bread with soy cream cheese, grated carrot & nutmeg.

Slap together & cut.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What happened this evening.....

I hope you've all had a wonderful weekend.
I have :-)

This evening we decided to take a walk along a local beach & get a meal.
We walked up and down the road for quite some time thinking about what we would have.
We sat down in a pizza place & perused to menu..... then decided we didn't feel like pizza. 

~So we got up and left.~

Then we went to a mexican restaurant. Excited by the thought of beans in a burrito we proceeded to order. We made our dietary preferences known..... only to discover that they fry their beans in butter and therefore nothing on their menu was vegan :-(

~So we got up and left.~

We went home then.

I cannot believe how quickly we made up this mexican feast all from the pantry! 
It was so incredibly satisfying!

In a baking dish we piled corn chips & then topped them with a can of Coles Mexican Chilli Beans.
I then made a 'cheeze' sauce.
I poured into the blender 1 cup soymilk with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of cornflour. Blended til well combined then poured into a microwave safe jug & microwaved for 30 seconds. The sauce thickened. 
I poured the sauce over the corn chips and beans & baked for 15 mins.

Perfect vegan nachos:

We also made tortillas.
In a frying pan I combined a chopped onion, 1/2 chopped capsicum, 1 can corn, 1 can red kidney beans, 1/2 chopped green capsicum, 1 chopped zucchini. 
I added a packet of taco seasoning mix and put a lid on to let it all cook through.
I then stirred in a jar of salsa.

Perfect vegan wrap filling:
 We warmed up the tortillas and then added our filling along with lettuce, grated carrot & avocado. My husband put his one in the sandwich press - but I prefer my wraps soft.

 And together they made for the perfect home-mexican meal:

Question of the day:
What items do you regularly keep in your pantry that can be used as fall-back meals?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Inside the Actors Studio

I've recently been enjoying watching a few episodes of Inside the Actors Studio.
It's a show where actors are interviewed. Its amazing to see them as real 'people' instead of 'characters'. 
There is a set of questions that is asked at the end! The questions actually originally came from a French series called "Bouillon de Culture".
Now I don't want to be an actor, but I've always wanted to answer these questions!!! 
So here goes:

1. What is your favourite word?
Quinoa. I just love how exotic it sounds. I often walk around the kitchen doing a little chant "keen-wah, keen-wah, keen-wah" - much to my husbands delight of course ;-)

2. What is your least favourite word?
Hmmm, I have to think about this one - I've never really thought about not liking a word! I feel childish if I say the name of some body parts but truly they do have some bad names ;-)

3. What turns you on?
Watching my husband mow the lawn!

4. What turns you off?
The whole low pants thing..... No-one wants to see strangers undies.

5. What is your favourite curse word?
Dam it. But I'm often found using other ones more regularly in place of this.....

6. What sound or noise do you love?
Its pretty lovely to hear my daughters giggle - it warms my heart <3 
And the sound of my ferrets as they rumble each other has got to be the cutest thing ever!!!

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
Lawn mowers - see above!

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would like to study naturopathy but I think my dream job would be a play school presenter. Imagine all the fun you could have doing craft, singing and dancing all day but not having the kids there!!!

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Gynecologist - self explanatory really!

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"Well done my good and faithful servant."

So there you have it!

Now I have a question for you:

If your child was given this much chocolate for Easter - what would you do?

Would you just let them eat it but in small doses? Is it rude to throw them away? Are they even mine to throw away? Is it better to give them away? 
Obviously I don't approve of my daughter eating dairy but I've never forced her to avoid it either :-/
And I reallllllllllllllllllllllly don't like the way Easter has been commercialised to be all about chocolate.....