Saturday, February 28, 2009

I've done it

Okay, I've planned my next week's meals and shopped accordingly *yay*

I did go over budget by way too much ($160) and it means I only have $40 for the following week but I'm hoping that now I have some of the ingredients it means I won't have to buy that much anyway.

I did similar the last fortnight and it worked out with me having $20 left over so maybe this is how I'll shop. Shop up big week 1 and then small week 2.

We'll have to see.

Wait for Monday when I post my first ever Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Five Food Groups Series - Number 1

Vegetables & Legumes

Drizzle olive oil over chick-peas, rocket and roast pumpkin for a hearty summer salad! Get the morning off to a great start with a zesty carrot, celery and coriander juice. Or throw some skewers of colourful fresh veggies basted with chilli on the barbecue!

There are simply endless ways to enjoy vegetables. Packed full of valuable nutrients, they form an essential part of a healthy diet. And the good news is they can be absolutely delicious - particularly when in season and prepared the right way.

Why is this group good for me?

Vegetables are full of fibre, which is good for your digestive tract. They also provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals essential for normal growth and health.

If you're watching your weight, fresh vegetables are great for both meals and snacks – as some of them contain few kilojoules.

Vegetables are also versatile, easy to prepare, and add colour and flavour to any meal - perfect if you're catering for a hungry family. Try to cook vegetables as lightly as you can and as close to serving time as possible to get the full nutritional benefits.

What is a serve?

Try to have at least 5 serves of vegetables or legumes a day. A serve is generally ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw or salad vegetables. Some other examples of a serve include:

* 1 medium potato
* 1 medium carrot
* 1 cup of fresh bean sprouts or leafy vegetables
* 2 florets of broccoli
* 3 sticks of celery
* 3-4 button mushrooms

Fresh Food Tips

By cooking vegetables in different ways, you can explore all sorts of varied flavours and textures.

Steaming is fantastic for retaining colour, taste and nutrients - ideal for delicate vegetables that can be enjoyed firm and slightly crunchy, such as broccoli, asparagus, carrots, zucchini or squash. Also great for potatoes, pumpkin or yams. Serve steamed asparagus or broccoli topped with sunflower seeds and slivered almonds for some extra taste and crunch.

Boiling is useful for those times when you can't steam your veggies, but it results in the greatest vitamin losses. Be careful not to overcook - so the veggies retain their flavour. After boiling, drain the water into an airtight container and freeze as a healthy, natural vegetable stock to use in soups, casseroles or stir fries.

Blanching is used to soften the edges on vegetables or to remove their skins prior to freezing or grilling. Blanched snowpeas and fresh green beans are fantastic in salads, especially combined with other soft textures such as goat's cheese or roast pumpkin. Blanch vegetables by steaming or boiling for 1 minute and then plunging into cold water. Drain after a couple of minutes cooling.

Roasting works to intensify the flavours and natural sugars within vegetables so they become caramelised. Oven-roasted tomatoes can be made by halving Roma tomatoes, brushing them with garlic, mixed herbs, olive oil and some cracked pepper, and cooking them in a slow oven for an hour. Roasted tomatoes are great served for breakfast with fresh bread and ricotta cheese. Other vegetables that roast well include small whole potatoes, chunks of peeled sweet potato or pumpkin, whole carrots, small whole beetroot (peel after roasting) and peeled and halved parsnips.

Stir-frying is another quick and healthy way to prepare fresh vegetables as it uses very little oil, and helps retain their natural crispness and taste. Stir-fried vegetables are delicious served with rice or noodles and topped with coriander and sunflower seeds.

Barbequed vegetables are quick, easy and quite unique in flavour. Sweet potato slices on the barbeque give an interesting edge to steak and sausages. Simply slice a sweet potato into thin circular slices, place on the grill, and cook until crispy and brown on the outside, and soft on the inside.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Menu Plan Mondays

I've wanted to do this for awhile but for me it was always like a Wednesday due to when my money came in. Now I get my money on Fridays so can then plan my menu and grocery shop on the weekend.

My friend Bonnie has been doing this for ages. Bonnie's MPM

So I hope to follow in her footsteps, get my act together and start planning out the meals for my house :D

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Savoury Steak

I first made this meal when I was in Grade 10 doing Home Economics. Boy! That is a really really long time ago now hahahahaha

Anyway, I loved it when I first made it and I still love it now and luckily, so do my family so this is a favourite of ours.

Next time I make it I'll take a photo for you.


500gm Steak (I use Rump)
1 Onion, sliced (I substitute Onion Powder)
1 cooking Apple, grated
1 tbs Brown Sugar
1 tsp Mustard
1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
1 cup Water
1 tsp Salt
Seasoned Flour


1. Roll steak in seasoned flour. Fry lightly to seal edges and place in a casserole dish.

2. Saute other ingredients in fry pan. Bring to boil then pour over meat.

3. Bake in a moderate over 1&1/2 - 2 hours (or until tender)

For variations try using chicken pieces instead of meat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Five Food Groups Series

Whether it's the rich aroma of a tender steak cooking on the barbeque, a warm loaf of freshly baked bread, or the first slice of mango in summer, there's nothing quite like the taste, texture and variety offered by fresh food.

To help choose foods with the right mix of essential nutrients, the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines recommend basing your diet on the Five Food Groups. To stay healthy, it's recommended you eat a certain number of serves from each of these five groups every day.

Thanks to the Woolworths website, I'm going to do a little mini-series on the Five Food groups that we should all be using. I say the collective "we" but really, the finger is definitely pointed at ME!!!!

1. Vegetables & Legumes
2. Breads, Cereals, Rice, Pasta and Noodles
3. Fruit
4. Milk, Yogurt & Cheese
5. Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Nuts & Alternatives

So on Friday, I'll start with number 1.

Prawn Laksa

200g rice stick noodles (medium thickness)
100g bean shoots, ends trimmed
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup prepared laksa paste
2 x 270ml cans Woolworths Select Reduced Fat Coconut Cream

3 cups chicken stock
200g snow peas, trimmed
125g Australian Sweet baby corn, halved
1 carrot, sliced
500g green banana prawns, peeled and deveined
2 limes, quartered

1. Place noodles into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 10 minutes until soft. Soak bean shoots and coriander in iced water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add laksa paste and cook for 2 minutes until aromatic. Stir in coconut cream and stock and bring to the boil.

3. Add snow peas, corn, carrot and prawns and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes until prawns have changed colour. Divide noodles between serving bowls. Ladle over soup, prawns and vegetables. Top with bean shoots and coriander and serve with a wedge of lime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Caramel pudding


2 egg whites
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup apple sauce (in jar)
3/4 cup mashed banana (2 medium bananas)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups water


Preheat oven to 180 C fan forced.

To make pudding: In a medium size mixing bowl beat egg whites and sugar for 1 minute using an electric beater. Stir bicarb soda into apple sauce (it will froth) then add to bowl. Add mashed bananas and combine. Gently fold flour into mixture in one go, DO NOT BEAT as this will make the pudding tough. Pour pudding mixture into a casserole dish (8 cup capacity).

To make caramel sauce: Sprinkle 1 cup of brown sugar over top of mixture and then gently pour water over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes or until firm to touch in centre.

Think I'll have to try this one out soon :D

Monday, February 16, 2009


And not the sweet variety :D

Tonight's meal is bacon and egg muffins with cheese. Yum! So easy to make and so good to enjoy!

Homemade are much better than the ones sold under the golden arches lol.
For Gary I might scramble his eggs though, add some baked beans and put the muffins on the side.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Cook and the Chef

This is one of my favourites shows. It started back tonight *woohoo* on the ABC at 6.30pm. I love the cook - Maggie, and the chef - Simon, together. They are a really great team and I so enjoy the bantering that goes on between them. Neither of them are pretentious either.

This was my pick of the recipes from tonight's show.

Pavlova, Macadamia

Ingredients - Makes 1 large, 6 servings

4 egg whites, at room temp
180 g caster sugar
½ cup macadamia nuts roasted & roughly chopped
1 pinch cream of tartar

To assemble the pavlova:
3 ripe bananas sliced
¾ cup crème fraiche
¾ cup whipped cream
Pulp of 6 passionfruit

Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form, add cream of tartar. Add the castor sugar slowly in 3 additions beating well after each addition. Make a 20 cm circle then begin adding the nuts. Continue to process until glossy. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, spoon the meringue into the centre of the paper and gently spread out into a rough circle. Place in an oven (not fan forced) previously heated to 180C and immediately turn the heat down to 140C. Cook for approx. one hour and a quarter. Turn the oven off leaving the door slightly ajar and allow the pavlova to cool.

To Assemble:
Mix the crème fraiche through the whipped cream. Divide this mixture between the pavlova bases or all onto the top of the large base, top with the sliced banana and then with the passionfruit pulp.
The Cook and the Chef

Monday, February 9, 2009

Roast Beef Dinners

I cooked a roast beef today with roasted potatoes and other vegies. I really enjoy a good roast on so many different levels.
  1.  I love meat
  2.  I love roast vegies
  3.  I have fond memories of family lunches and dinners where my mum had cooked a roast dinner with the trimming.
From as early on as I remember, we always have a day that was family dinner. Originally this was Sunday lunch as dad worked his own cab and this is the time that fitted in. At this age, there were only 7 of us, my parents, two brothers, two sisters and myself.

For years we had this family meal and for years we had the after-squabble over the dishes lol

As we started to grow older, the roast was moved to Sunday night, then Monday night. By this time our family had grown to 12 people around the table with 3 kiddos coming along not much after. 

It was always such a joy to have all the family together. We would laugh and talk and disagree and start laughing all over again. We had a kitchen clean-up roster so no-one could argue who's turn it was. We were all very organised.

The next thing we knew there were now 20 people around the table to be fed :o How did we get so big so fast. But you know, everyone just fitted in as they could and still came every week.

Eventually, the family Monday dinners slowed down to the once a month get togethers. As the children started to grow up more and kept the parents b
usy, our roast dinners together became non-existent. My younger sister and I didn't have any kids at this time so I sure she, like me, missed the gathering of our family.

Now though, we have our own brood, 3 for her and 3 for me, to add to the mix. Trying to get 26 people around a table is near impossible if you're not at a restaurant. And we would always have an extra seat for nan whenever she came over too.

So now, I've started my own ritual. Saturday nights are our family nights. Literally we only have 1 night a week together as a family so I see this as a very important time in our lives. I generally try to have a roast of some kind cooked and ready to go for our dinner. Sometimes, like last night, and we get to go somewhere else for dinner, my roast waits for the following day. But that's okay! 

Last Saturday night was the first time that my entire family (less 1) was able to come together for a celebration and it was fantastic. Everyone had such a great time. Lots of laughter and no tears.

Ahhhhhhhh the memories!
Our first Roast Dinner after grandchild #1 was born

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

Don't you just love a good shepherd's or potato-top pie?

I do! My boys absolutely love it. My parents were making this for dinner tonight so they invited us over. There are never any complaints when this is on the menu.


500 gms Minced Beef
1 onion finely chopped (I omit this and use onion powder instead)
2 carrots chopped
1 cup peas (or beans)
1 large tomato chopped
1 large tomato sliced
Soy Sauce
1 cup water
Gravy powder
6 potatoes - cooked and mashed
2 cups grated cheese


Cook onion in saucepan until clear. Add mince and brown. Add carrots, peas, chopped tomato, soy sauce and water. Mix together. Bring to boil. Put on lid and simmer until cooked. Thicken with gravy powder.

Pour mince mixture into baking dish. Layer sliced tomato over mixture. Put mashed potato on top and sprinkle cheese over.

Cook in moderate oven (180 C) until top is golden brown.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Left-overs Night

I love left-overs night. It means I don't have to cook *yay*

Just pop it in the microwave and its ready :D

But of course the boys don't want left-overs but that's okay they settled for pizza toast.

Toast 2 slices of bread
Add thin layer of sauce (pizza or tomato)
Sprinkle grated cheese
Top with meat, pineapple, onion (whatever you want)

Into the microwave for 1 min (time depends on your mic) and its ready to eat.

Very easy and everyone satisfied.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I feel like ......... hmmmmm

Tonight's dinner will be Chinese Beef and Hokkien Noodles.

I love hokkien noodles and will quite happily eat them by themselves but I also like the chinese beef so they will go well together.

Again, I am cheating and using a bottle sauce that I just have to add the beef and whatever vegies I decide to use, to.

Will try to remember to take a photo of it :D

Poppy Seed Muffins

Thanks Toni, for the invitation to publish to your great new cooking blog !!
I thought for my first post I'd share these amazing muffins that we made together yesterday !!

1. Preheat the oven to 160 fan forced. (maybe go about 180 if it's not fan forced)

2. Mix the following ingredients 'til lumps of flour are gone ...

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups milk
3 cups sugar
2 Tbls poppy seeds
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract

3. Pour into muffin tins.

4. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. I always bake about 10 minutes, then check them every 5 minutes after that til they are done. (when a toothpick inserted into the middle of them comes out clean ! )

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bangers & Mash

Don't you just love the sound of that?

Bangers & Mash! Bangers & Mash!

I do!

So that is what tonight's meal was supposed to be, bangers, mash & greens.

Well I got the bangers made, then the boys asked for them to be put on bread with cheese & sauce so I did that for them. Then for Gary I gave him chips, bangers and baked beans. He was happy with that so all is good.

Tomorrow I trying to decide to have a roast or chinese beef hmmmmm..............................