Monday, June 24, 2013

Kids Lunchbox Club - Muesli Cookies

My daughter is a big fan of making muesli. But she doesn't like to eat as much as she likes to make! 
Thankfully muesli is great to cook with so it's not really a problem!

I asked her this week if she was going to finish eating the last of the muesli so we could make another batch & her idea was to make cookies with it instead.
So muesli cookies were born in our household!

You'll need:
3 cups muesli (any type you like)
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground flaxseeds mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup plant milk of choice

Mix all the dry ingrredients together til well combined.
Make a well in the middle and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold to combine. Mixture will be sticky & will hold together. 
Shape into flat balls and place on a lined baking tray. Gently press down with a fork to flatten.
Bake in a preheated 200C oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Cool on a rack.
 Makes 12-14 cookies.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Basic Lentil Patties - Create your own flavour!!!

I love love love having bean patties. Any kind, any flavour. I just love them.
My husband on the other hand is not a fan at all.
These ones however, he tolerates!

You'll need:
2 tins lentils
1/4 cup besan flour  (chickpea flour)
1 teaspoon mixed italian herbs
2 Tablespoons tomato paste

Drain the lentils and mash them well.
Stir in the other ingredients.
Shape into patties and bake at 200C for 20-25minutes until browned, turning half way through cooking.

These patties are really versatile. Not only are they really quick & easy to make but you can use this mixture as a base and add other veggies or spices as you desire.

Optional extras (pending husbands approval):

Chopped mushrooms, spinach pieces, onion, garlic, capsicum.
Using BBQ sauce or curry paste in place of the tomato works really well too & creates a slightly different flavour for these patties.

Great on burgers, added to salads or by themselves.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In My Kitchen June

Welcome to In My Kitchen for June.
This was a super easy month for me to find items to take pictures of because I got lots of birthday goodies at the end of last month that made it into my kitchen! 

We welcomed a new napkin holder into our home at the end of May. I love how slim this one is. It doesn't take up too much room on our tiny little dinner table, and it holds napkins quite neatly.

I was hugely excited when I was given this ultra cute kitty mug for my birthday from one of my friends! I love kitty's - especially grey kitty's. It is now officially my favourite coffee mug. Its the perfect size for a coffee too :-)

My husband got me this veggie chop for my birthday! I spend hours chopping vegetables each week so this came with great relief for me! It took me a bit of time and experimenting to work out how to use it but now, already it gets a great work out.

This rocket blender was given to me on Mother's Day. Prior to our blender breaking.....
Its such a practical size for making 'yogurts' or sauces/dressings. And the cups that are used to blend also come with lids so the item can be stored in the fridge. Not to mention that all the bits are dishwasher safe :-)

Our oven trays were black.... So now we have nice new pink ones. Thanks to a clearance at Woolworths! I swear cookies taste so much better being baked on pink trays ;-)

Yay for aprons! I was only thinking for my last post that I don't have any aprons! A pink one from my hubby to match the pink trays! The purple one came all the way from America! I'm tickled 'pink' to think that my friend would know how much I enjoy cooking & send me an apron! Its so very very beautiful - I wonder if I could wear it as a dress instead ;-)

I mentioned in a previous month that we had got a new rice cooker. So this month I'm showing you just how well it worked! I'm soooooooooo happy with it. It doesn't bubble over (like my previous one did) and it cooks rice so perfect. It cooks other grains too which I find really handy. I loved the way it cooks brown rice. Not gluggy or mushy and not still hard, but just perfectly done! :-)
Perfectly cooked brown rice

And last but not least - we got this blender to replace our verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry old one! I'm yet to use it. We were deciding if we needed a full size blender not with the rocket blender - however last weekend I missed green smoothies too much to live without a blender!

What's new in your kitchen this month?
Link your kitchen post up to the Fig Jam & Lime Cordial blog.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Butter-less Garlic Bread

I love garlic bread. 
But I don't buy it. 
I don't even buy the vegan-versions that are available.
Too fatty.
I don't make garlic bread at home using dairy-free spreads either....
But I do make garlic bread.....
Because I've come up with a way to make it fat free!
And it tastes just as good :-) 

You'll need bread in whatever form you choose to use! 
I love using a nice big unsliced loaf that is a few days old.

Use about a 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic per slice and spread it evenly round the slice.
 Then pour a tablespoon of soymilk on top of each slice over the minced garlic.

 Place in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until crusty and lightly browned.
(Time will vary depending on the bread you choose to use.)
 Yummy tasty garlic bread without fat :-)

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

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Shopping Trip

Today I had a different experience whilst doing our regular weekly grocery shop.
I wasn't alone.
Its nice to have some social time at the end of a week working at home!
No, I wasn't shopping with a friend or family member!
I was shopping with someone who works for Woolworths & was getting some customer feedback!
Although there are a few products that I particularly like at other grocery stores, I do prefer to shop at Woolworths and so most weeks I drive that little bit further out of my way to shop there (and no I wasn't paid by Woolies to say that!).

I never knew it could be so fun to explain what you buy & why, what you like about a shop & what you'd improve!

After explaining my preferences to this ever so tolerant man (believe me I did a LOT of talking!) I thought it might be a fun blog post... something a bit different!

Our grocery shopping is not always the same week in and week out. I tend to buy certain foods when they are on special & 'stock up'. I largely stick to a shopping list & I check what we already have at home prior to shopping in order to not over-buy too much.
I have our budget for shopping & I try to keep within those limits.
I aim for each weeks grocery bill to be under $150 for our family.

So here's what ended up in our trolley this week:
Freezer section
I couldn't live without frozen spinach. It makes its way into many of our family meals. I find that some brands of chopped spinach are in tiny little pieces and I don't particularly like that. So Homebrand gets my tick of approval for its pieces that are cut into strips rather than little tiny flakes! We regularly make red lentil sauce for dinner served over potatoes or pasta. Its my husband's favourite meal actually - only now we also add frozen corn to the recipe & often use frozen spinach in place of fresh.
Frozen broad beans - so wonderful, so versatile. They make great dips & are also a fantastic addition to meals. I love using them in my Asian lunch salad.
Bakery items
Pita bread makes for great pizza bases. My daughter loves these flavoured wraps for lunch. And our home in not complete without a loaf of bread for the week. We don't eat a lot of bread - about one loaf a week, but I do like it to be a nice bread, and always wholemeal of course!
Cold section
I don't buy a lot of products from the cold section but I never leave without milk. When we were shopping I was asked if I am brand loyal and at the time I couldn't think of any brands that I am loyal to. However driving home I realised that yes I am brand loyal - to Vitasoy :-) Its the only type of plant milk that I'll buy.
I also buy tofu regularly. I love to make tofu nuggets with the organic firm tofu shown. It really holds its shape well. And soft tofu makes a lovely mousse.
I also reallllllllllllllllllllllllly love the new range of Macro Vegetarian products. They have such a wonderful variety of tofu available and as all vego's will know, not all tofu is the same! For an occasional treat I enjoy their new burgers, sausages and meatless balls too. I have tried many of the flavours available and so far LOVE them all.
Canned goods
We use quite a lot of canned food - particularly legumes. I love that Woolworths Select beans come in a "No Added Salt" variety. And also they don't add their own flavour (tomato paste etc) which is a big issue for me because I like to add my own flavours when cooking with legumes.
Sauces and other
We regularly use passata and tomato paste. We use red lentils every week without fail. I love that they don't need to be soaked prior to cooking. 
Cinnamon is added to most bowl of oats & cookies
St. Dalfour is the only variety of jam that I'll buy because it is sweetened only with grape juice concentrate. Yep another product I'm brand loyal to! 
These Heinz beans are a new product. I usually prefer to make my own sauces/flavours to accompany beans but I'm also a big fan of trying new products at least once! We regularly have mexican meals in our home so I'm looking forward to trying this bag of mexican beans.
Baking and other
Oats for breakfast mean we go through quite a lot of them. They also regularly end up in our baked goods. Talking of baked goods, wholemeal flour ends up in our trolley every week! And every week that these Macro Raw Food Bars are on special they end up in our trolley too!!! 
My daughter makes random comments that everyone takes packaged food to school except her so she gets an occasional treat of muesli bars or rice crackers when she isn't enjoying treats from the kids lunchbox club section!
And today I also bought some containers that are clear because my husband commented just last week that when leftovers are put into containers that aren't see through he never knows they are in the fridge!!!
Produce - last but not least!
I don't have an issue buying produce from regular grocery stores. However, I will not buy produce that comes from overseas EVER. I always make sure that what I'm buying comes from Australia. I buy some produce organic and other things not. I like the idea of the dirty dozen/clean fifteen list however I can't always find everything organic that I would like to. I have however made a regular habit of vinegar washing our produce.    
The produce I bought today is smaller than I usually buy, however I was mindful of what was not consumed last week that is still in the fridge! No use over buying items that will not keep! I always buy lots of bananas to make sure we have enough not only for snacking but also for ice-cream and baking with.

Today's total came to $137.
That's a fairly big shop for us. Most weeks we're under $120 with some weeks not even making it over $100. But I'm pleased that I was still under our limit!
Don't get me wrong - I'm not against spending money on quality food, and in particular some items - but largely speaking I don't think the cost of good food is a lot. I just know that if I'm coming close to our limit then I have purchased an oversupply for the week and that is not necessary.
So to be honest when I hear people comment on how expensive groceries are these days - I really can't relate! 

And don't forget to take your green bags when you shop too! 
I recently purchased an "Animals Australia Make It Possible" one.

Items that didn't make it into this week's trolley but that I buy as needed:
--> Dates (both medjool and dried) - my favourite food and as such I have a BIG tub in the fridge!
--> Brown rice - currently still working our way through a 5kg bag
--> Wholemeal pasta - I buy a few packets when its on special
--> Other grains - quinoa, couscous, barley, polenta
--> Spelt flour, oat bran, baking soda, coconut & other baking goods
--> Nuts, seeds, nuts spreads & dried fruit
--> Tomato sauce, salsa, herbs & spices, vinegars (for cleaning as well as eating)
--> Frozen berries (anyone know where you can source Australian ones???) and other frozen vegetables

Questions of the day:
Do you have a particular store that you prefer to shop at?
Does your grocery list vary from week to week or look relatively the same?
Do you feel like groceries are expensive these days?
Have you tried any new products lately that you really enjoyed?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kids Lunchbox Club - Choc-Oat Slice

I think its quite possible that "Kids Lunchbox Club" needs to be re-named....... 
because whenever I make something for my daughter's lunchbox - it usually ends up going to work in my husbands lunchbox too!  
So feel free whenever necessary to call these treats "Husbands Lunchbox Club" ;-) 

Whatever you call them though, I guarantee everyone in your home will love this Choc-Oat Slice. It is so delicate, with a hint of coconut flavour but without the added fat of coconut. Sweetened just enough to satisfy yet so very rich and tasty.

You'll need:
1 cup oats
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup brown sugar
50g dark chocolate (optional)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup plant-milk (can substitute water if you prefer)
1 teaspoon coconut essence

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, wholemeal flour, cocoa, and brown sugar.
If using the dark chocolate chop into little pieces, and stir through the dry ingredients.
Pour the brown rice syrup into a microwave safe jug and warm for 30 seconds until the syrup is slightly runny.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the rice syrup, apple sauce, milk and coconut essence. 
Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. 
When mixture is just combined, pour into a 20cm square baking pan.
Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to slice into squares.

 (Makes 16 squares)
Maybe I need to remove the no grown-ups allowed bit ;-)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mexican Casserole

A twist on Mexican!
A great tasting dish for something that is rather effortless to make.
It takes a bit of time & preparation but its not hard.
Everyone in our home really loves it!

You'll need:
1 pack corn tortillas
2-3 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans           (or 1 cup home-made pre-cooked)
1 can red kidney beans   (or 1 cup home-made pre-cooked)
1 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
1 zucchini
1 onion
1 can corn
1 can tomatoes
1 red chili     (or to taste)
1/2 cup salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coriander

Chop the tortillas into bite size pieces.
Place on a lined baking tray & bake at 200C for 10-15 minutes until just firm but not yet brown. (Cooking times with vary depending on the tortillas you use and your oven.)
Drain the canned beans, and canned corn. Chop the onion, zucchini, capsicums and chili. Combine all of these into a large casserole pan or baking dish. 
Add the rice and spices. Mix well. 
Stir through the tomatoes and salsa.
Spread evenly around the pan.
Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 30minutes in a preheated 200C oven.
The tomatoes will be bubbling hot when you take the dish out of the oven.
Spread the baked tortilla chips over the top and gently press them down into the mixture.
Return the dish to the oven and continue to bake for a further 10-15minutes until the chips are browned on top.
Serve and enjoy!
Perfectly satisfying by itself or you can add mashed avocado or tofu sour cream if you like.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WIAW - Split Pea & Leek Stew

Happy Wednesday everyone! :-)
I hope you've all had a wonderful day.
Its been a few weeks since I did a What-I-Ate-Wednesday Post.
Over on the peas and crayons blog, June is sensible snacking month. I find that winter is definitely a time of year when its easy to sit and snack, so its a nice reminder for me to be mindful that I'm only snacking if I really need to eat something. Today I had an apple when I was driving home from work at 6pm. I think that definitely falls into the category of 'sensible snacking'. 

Here's what I ate for meals during the day:
Breakfast - blueberry 'yogurt' and oats.
Lunch - mexican rice & beans with spinach on a grain wrap.

Dinner was Split Pea & Leek Stew - courtesy of the slow cooker!
I reckon I could just about call my WIAW posts "Slow-Cooker Wednesday" since our slow cooker is used almost every Wednesday. Its such a wonderful kitchen appliance for my late-home day! 

Here's today's recipe: 
Split Pea & Leek Stew
1 cup green split peas
1 leek
1 onion
2 potatoes
approx 1 1/2 litres of stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Chop the leek, onion and potatoes. Place in the slow cooker with the bay leaves and garlic. Pour over the stock (you'll need enough to just cover all the vegetables).
Put the lid on and set to high for 5-6 hours.

Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

Optional: stir through a tablespoon of tomato paste if you like tomato flavoured stews!

 Delicious served with warm crusty bread.... but then again, what meal isn't!!! ;-)

I have been making our own stock lately. Its really easy to make and amazingly tasty. I don't buy veggies to make it because I find that the expense of doing that adds up really quickly. Instead, I save all our 'off cuts' - meaning the ends of carrots, capsicums, zucchinis, celery, beans, broccoli and any other vegetables that would otherwise be thrown in the bin. All the end bits truly make an amazing stock and I'm yet to find a vegetable that seems to spoil the stock! What a great way of making the most of 'all' the vegetable!!!
I just keep the pieces in a container for 5-7 days and then pour them into a large stock pot and cover with approx 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours. Strain the mixture and then its ready to use. The stock also freezes well.

Questions of the day:
Have you ever tried making your own stock?
Do you call it a "slow cooker" or a "crock pot"?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Meatless Monday - Eggplant

Welcome to another edition of Meatless Monday A-Z
 Today's food is Eggplant.
 I love eggplant. But I must admit that I'm not overly familiar with a variety of ways how to cook it. I find it can either have a great texture & be amazing or else it can be terribly undercooked & taste awful.
And I really like don't like it when eggplant is just completely soaked in oil & you can't really taste the eggplant itself.

So even though my eggplant post is a week late, its something I've cooked up myself that is easy to get the right texture for eggplant so you can actually taste it!

You'll need:
1 medium eggplant
1 medium sweet potato
1 teaspoon stock powder
1 cup passata cooking sauce
1 teaspoon Italian herb mix

Peel the sweet potato. Slice both the sweet potato and the egplant into 1.5cm thick slices.
Place the stock powder into a flat dish & add a cup of boiling water. Stir well until the powder is dissolved. Soak the eggplant in the stock for 2-3 minutes, turning once.
Place the soaked eggplant and sweet potato slices onto a lined baking tray & bake in a preheated 200C oven for 30 minutes.
Once cooked, alternate slices of eggplant & sweet potato onto plates.

Pour the passata into a microwave safe jug & place in microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir in the herbs.

Pour the tomato passata over the stacked vegetables.
Of course you can roast as many other varieties of vegetables as you wish.

Did you know?
Eggplant contains high amounts of potassium, folate and manganese. It also has a large range of other vitamins in little amounts.

Question of the day:
What's your favourite way to cook eggplant?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kids Lunchbox Club - Pizza Sandwich

All kids love pizza right?!?

But they aren't exactly the most convenient thing to take to school the next day when there is leftovers...
That is...... until you make a pizza sandwich!

I know this isn't a real recipe - its more of an idea! A great idea if you ask me! 
The kids will love it and its far less messy!

Slap two slices of pizza together (make sure they are roughly the same size) and then wrap them up ready for the lunchbox!
They won't bring this 'sandwich' home from school uneaten that's for sure ;-)