Archive | October 2011

easy healthy eats for a weekend away

I thought I would kill two birds with one post and recap some weekend fun with recipes for our weekend eats.

I’m telling fibs with the following pretty picture, as these Cheesy Corn Fritters were actually consumed cold on the ferry as we made our way to Stradbroke Island.  Intended as a snack for Misty, Viper ended up eating at least half of them.

Cheesy Corn Fritters:

(Egg, gluten, nut and soy free)

(If you are making these just for adults totally crank up the seasoning, add some chilli flakes and extra salt/pepper/herbs for bite)

  • 1/3C sweet corn kernels
  • 1/3C root vegetable puree (I used sweet potato, but pumpkin or potato would be fine)
  • 1/3C grated cheese
  • 2T flax
  • 3T milk ( I used rice milk)
  • 2T brown rice flour
  • 2T chickpea flour
  • 1/8t baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/8t ground coriander
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1t fresh or dry herbs (I used fresh chives)
  1. Mix ground flax seed and milk together.  Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together, and combine with flax ‘egg.’
  3. I cooked these by the spoonful in a hot pan for 2 minutes either side, then placed them on a lined baking tray.  10-12 minutes at 180 degrees C helped them to firm up nicely.
  4. Serve with a nice dollop of sour cream or guacamole (sweet chilli sauce is great for grown ups).
The weekend was a chance to hang with our favourite people –  friends and family including Misty’s cousin who was born just 2 hours before Misty entered this crazy world.  I was literally mid-push when we found out that Viper’s brother and wife had had a little girl.  Pretty crazy stuff – I love random life quirks like this, always a fun story to share.
2 brothers, 2 identical strollers, 1 of each flavour baby.  Crazy.
We call them Misty and Mopsy.  They are destined for some grand adventures together I’m sure.
I made up a batch of ‘Snozzies’ for a vegetarian option on the barbie.  Misty ended up chowing down 1 and a half of these for dinner, he’s just started walking, so must have worked up an appetite.
I also used my new favourite cabbage dish in a salad combination.  I chucked in a bunch of asparagus spears in the last 5 minutes of roasting, and added some thawed edamame and cooked sweetcorn.  The whole lot together, chilled, with a dollop of Sweet Potato Mayo for luck, was pretty delish as salads go.
Yes, I know you’ve seen this before, but trust me – when you wake up feeling a little ‘dusty’ (read: one too many red wines) this cereal at the very least wakes up the taste buds.
This trip away was a little different for us – it’s a bit of an adjustment being responsible for another human being; there’s definitely a lot more planning involved these days.  I used to be able to get away with wallet, mobile and lip gloss in my bag – plans were never concrete and would spontaneously change at the last minute.  Didn’t matter, I was a pretty talented couch surfer.  Now it’s more like ‘Have we got enough nappies?  Wipes?  Bottles?  Rusks?  Toys? Changes of clothes?  Sunscreen?  Hat?  Pram? Car seat? ‘ (!)  Yeeeesh.
There are no more ‘half-day-and-night-long’ sessions at the pub – we have to be home for dinner, bath and bed before 7:30pm.  Let me tell you childless folk out there a little something: there is no such thing as a hangover once you have offspring – it doesn’t matter how blurry around the edges you are the next morning, you gotta get up and be a parent – no ifs or buts about it.  That little smiley head is enough to have me leaping out of bed at 5am anyhow –  way more effective than a couple of Panadol and a serving of grease.
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stunner of a stay

Short but oh so sweet.

A weekend island getaway, complete with family, friends, babies, beer and music (among other things).

Straight out front.

These were sampled, smooshed and smeared.

Stairs were discovered.

Sandy times.

Smooches.

Sweet ride.  Real sweet.

SNACKS: (vary seasonings according to your tastes)

Balsamic Baked Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 t sea salt + extra salt for seasoning after baking
  • 1-2t garlic granules (optional)
  • 3-4T balsamic vinegar (I like it vinegary)
*If you marinate the chickpeas over night, the flavour is much better, but no stress if you don’t plan ahead.

  1. Toss chickpeas in vinegar, salt, garlic.
  2. Place on a baking tray that has been misted with olive oil spray.
  3. Bake for 1 hour at 150 degrees C – keep and eye on them and stir/rotate every 10 minutes or so.
  4. After 1 hour, turn off oven, leaving chickpeas inside to cool completely (helps dry them out further)
  5. Sprinkle with more salt (mmm) and a crack of black pepper for luck.

Munchies sorted.

Strange beachy plant specimens.

Homeward bound… sleepy time.

see ya real soon (maybe)

I’m excited.

We’re going here tomorrow:

North Stradbroke Island.

Just lush.

Last time we went here, it was a tad different (read: no child).

(read: many beers)

You don’t need beer goggles to appreciate that this place is beautiful.

I’ve been cooking like a crazy woman, creating a little stash of goodies for us to take along.  This time we are not going to survive on beers alone.

Yes, that’s right – I’m going.  I’m going, and I’m leaving you with just these photos for company.

When I get back from the white sandy beaches, warm blue waters…having had my fill of delicious food, cold beers and reggae tunes, I may fill you in with some recipes.

If I decide to come home.

I’m not sure what we were doing either.

mon petit chou

One of the maybe 3 things I can say in French.  I think the other 2 are inapropriate.

Cabbage is one of those strange vegetables.  It’s pigeon-holed a little bit (well, it is in my brain).

…Coleslaw

…Sauerkraut

…?

I’m not allowed to eat raw cabbage.  I love it, but it does not love me.  Viper has banned me from it.  You join the dots.

I love sauerkraut, but it’s more of a condiment than a ‘dish.’

I got excited by Katie’s idea of roasting.  I managed to score a whopping sugar loaf cabbage from a sweet lady’s organic vege patch on an afternoon meander with Misty.  60c.  Wicked.

This was 1/4 of a monster cabbage – it cooks down to about 2C worth.

  • Sliced cabbage
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 4T water
  • 1t sea salt
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 1t wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2t onion powder/granules
  • 1/2t garlic powder/granules
  • 1t olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Spread on a baking tray and roast at 200 degrees C for around 25-35 minutes.  Give it a good mix around every 5 minutes until it’s tender, browning and getting little crispy bits (or however you like it)
  3. Season with extra salt and pepper.

I cranked up the grill for the last 2 minutes so it got lots of little crispy bits going on.

Viper was afraid.  He knows what happens after I eat cabbage.

Good news!  No unfortunate after effects (cooking the cabbage is the key.  Still banned from coleslaw) and delicious.

Gives the humble old cabbage a bit of sex appeal.  mmm sexy cabbage.

blueberries for Babe, not bacon

*Warning* The follow post contains content that may disturb/offend vegans or vegetarians.  Sorry.

I’m not a vegan.  I would really really like to be, but there are a couple of things in my way.

  • Yoghurt (tastes delicious)
  • Salmon (tastes delicious)
  • Leather (couches, handbags and shoes.  No comparison)
  • Honey (tastes delicious)

Only 4 things, so it’s not all bad – but it doesn’t help my conscience.

I stopped eating pigs because I had a childhood obsession with them – countless stuffed animals, trinkets, books – name anything pig related, and I probably had it, or was pining for it.

la la laaaaaa

My old boss and manager (see picture below) also loved pigs – so much so they called themselves the “Pig Sisters,” and committed themselves to eating pig every.single.day.  Not quite the same philosophy I had, but I couldn’t penalise them for their dedication.  My boss even created a fictional character “Piglet Swiggins,” whom she painted fairytale-esque portraits of and penned whimisical tales of his adventures.  Bacon was renamed ‘strips of Piglet Swiggins’ on the menu, which needed to be explain every time.

Yes, that is a pig on a spit.  It took 11 hours to cook.  It was amazing.  For the first time in oh, probably 15 years I ate pig (I was 4 months pregnant here, and it was my birthday, can I blame it on either of those somehow?)

This is the creator of Pigglet Swiggins; that is the actual snout.  She later ATE the snout too.  Bless.

I went back to eating meat when I was pregnant.  I’m not really sure why, it just kind of happened.  I craved meat, and I was severely anemic, so I just went with what my body was telling me.  I don’t feel bad about it; I had a pretty much perfect pregnancy, labour and birth.

I made this recipe today (maybe I needed to create something vegan to make myself feel better.  Who knows?)

A variation, naturally.

  • 1/2C coconut milk
  • 1/8t guar gum
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped of it’s seeds (vanilla extract is fine)
  • 1T agave syrup
  • Pinch of pink sea salt
  • 1/3C frozen blueberries
  • 1 date
  • Splash of water for blending
  • Toasted coconut shavings (optional)
  1. Blend together blueberries, date and water.
  2. Combine coconut milk, salt and vanilla in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, add guar gum, stirring until it thickens.
  4. Add in blueberry paste, reserving a little for topping off the servings.
  5. Pour into bowls and chill in fridge.  It gets to a yoghurt sort-of consistency.
  6. Garnish with reserved blueberry, and toasted coconut shavings if desired.

I wanted it to look fun – I think it’s important for kiddies to be excited by their food – nature provides us with so many amazing colours, why not milk it?  Beetroot, pumpkin, peas – beautiful colours that just jump out and smack you in the head with their vibrancy. I don’t know if Misty gets this quite yet (he’s more into eating cardboard, mmm) but it makes cooking creative for me.

I’ve found my thrill.

It’s not on a hill, but it IS blueberry.

Oh so pretty.

Kind to the creatures too.  Hooray.

i eat sunshine for breakfast

I know I keep going on (and on) about the glorious Spring time weather (and the delicious produce that comes with it) that I am experiencing in sunny Queensland at the moment.  I love warmth.  I love sunshine.  I love the beach.  I do not like being cold.  I get angry when I am cold (half the reason I left New Zealand; it sure is pretty –  but damn it’s nasty in the Winter).

I even wear these in Summer

If you are like me, and need a little sunshine in your life, I can help.
For those who are in the middle of “Fall-Fever,”  or you just live in a cold place (NZ anyone?) you can still experience a taste of the tropics.
With the right accessories (see end of post) you can even create a complete tropicana-style experience.
It all started when I found these in my local bulk health food store:
Organic dried pineapple and mango.  Not those horrible ones that are soaked in sugar, pumped up with fake colours and dried, these are the real deal.  So amazing.  I think I need a dehydrator so I can make my own.
Inspiration tweaks… I decided to make some sort of roasty toasty cereal.  I wanted to make a quinoa style granola again, but alas was completely out of quinoa.  I was actually considering bundling myself and Misty into the car and doing the mission to purchase some more, when I reminded myself to practise what I preach.  Use what you have on hand – scrape that fridge/pantry.
Sunshine Cereal:
  • 2/3C coconut flakes
  • 2/3C buckwheat groats
  • 1/2C hulled millet
  • 1/3C sunflower seeds
  • 3/4C whole oats
  • 1/4C oatmeal
  • 1/2t sea salt
  • 1/3C sesame seeds
  • 1/4C dark agave syrup (or honey, rice syrup etc)
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 1/3C orange juice
  • 1 mango
  • 1/2C chopped dried pineapple and mango

  1. Mix dry ingredients together, except dried fruit.
  2. Blend together mango and orange juice.
  3. Melt coconut oil, combine with agave and mango mix.
  4. Mix everything together and place on lined baking trays.
  5. Bake at 140 degrees C for 50 minutes, rotating trays and stirring every 10.
  6. Turn oven off and leave trays in there to cool down completely.
  7. Mix in dried fruit.
Set the scene.
It’s more fun when you eat out of a pineapple too.
On a stolen (from Misty) Haiwaiian themed bunny rug/quilt thing.  I didn’t have any ukelele luau music which was disappointing.  Viper made me a grass skirt once (out of bamboo, which doesn’t make sense and was really scratchy and uncomfortable, even when worn over clothes).
Don’t even ask.
I’m just going to eat the cereal.

Lord of the Bars

So, you’ve seen the movie.

I only remember the first one.  The other 2 are a bit of a sleepy daze… I think I fell into a sugar-induced coma after eating too many lollies.  I don’t really dig the fantasy genre.  Or science fiction.  Viper loves both.  We make it work; it can’t always be rose petals and sweet guitar serenades (particularly as he can only play 3 songs on the guitar, which he repeats and repeats and repeats, ah bless).

At least now, if someone has no idea about New Zealand, you can just say “Lord of the Rings,” and they will know what you are talking about.

The movie does look nice, but the real New Zealand is better:

Green is good.  Makes me happy.

I reckon this tree is older than Yoda.

Tiny man or huge rock?  You decide.

Way better than the movie.

According to Viper, to explore this wild and unspoilt land, you need much sustenance to fuel your intrepid journey.  He likens the satisfying power of this next recipe to that of “Hobbit-food” whatever that may be.   See the movie, now eat the bar.

Oaty Fruity Filler Bar:

My slightly more interesting version of these Friendly Fruit Bars – again, these would be very suitable for kiddies, just omit nuts if you are giving them to a baby/toddler (choking risk).

This recipe is kind of fool-proof.  You can make it how you like it.  Super fruity?  Blend extra fruit and have a nice thick fruit filling layer.  Like it a tad nutty?  Just add more nuts, it’s really that simple.  Don’t be afraid to play around – I would call myself an intuitive cook (just a fancy way of saying that I can’t stick to a recipe) Mistakes are good in the kitchen – it gives you the opportunity to work out a different flavour combination, method or technique.  Learn by DOING.

  • 1/2C dried fruit
  • 1C whole oats
  • 4T apple puree
  • 1T cinnamon (I’m crazy for the stuff, feel free to use less)
  • 1/4C walnuts
  • 1/2t sea salt
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
Chose your dried fruit.  I went with what I had on hand (no, really?) apricots, prunes, fig.  Admittedly, not the most attractive when blended (see evidence further down) but tasty nonetheless.
Blend
Scrape out blended fruit “paste” and set aside.
I always blend the fruit first, as you don’t need to be too picky cleaning out the food processor – any bits of fruit left will just be blended back in the the oats (mmm fruity oaty).
Pulse your oats, apple, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and baking powder in a food processor.  The finished texture is up to you; a few oats left a bit chunky is nice for texture.  You could blend 3/4C oats, and fold in 1/4 cup of whole oats if you want, that’s the beauty of it, play around.
Spread half of your oaty mix into a lined baking tray.  Push down firmly.  Spread over your fruit paste.
Sprinkle over nuts.
Spread over remaining oaty mix, push the whole lot down firmly.  As it is a pretty crumbly mixute, I just sprinkle over the rest of the oaty mix, and kind of squash it together.  It doesn’t matter if you have gaps or holes – this is not a fussy appearance-driven bar, it’s all about taste.  This is what I like to call “rustic” food (this was a trick used in the cafe I used to work at – if something wasn’t perfect looking, we would just call it “rustic” – covers a multitude of sins).
Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
This recipe was made in a 20cm by 10cm loaf pan.
I think Gollum is angry, ‘cos I won’t give him any of MY “precious” bars.  Ha.

a not so dangerous dinner

The kitchen is quite a dangerous place.  Sharp blades, steam, hot plates, gas – really, it’s not the best place for an accident-prone, impatient, careless, and dangerously silly person like myself.   Over the years I have sustained many injuries from my experiments.  The top of the blender popping off as I was blending up boiling hot soup (let it cool down first, Lou – I’m so impatient) was a particularly good one.  Burns are not fun.  Porridge (oatmeal) burns are the worst, it’s so gluey that it sticks to your skin and just keeps on burning.  Great.

My finger tips will never be the same.  Bits chopped off, multiple singes from using them to turn stuff on the hot plate (tongs, Lou, tongs) it’s all part and parcel.  One bonus nowadays is that my hands are kind of de-sensitised, so I can just shove them into the oven with reckless abandon.  Makes me look so tough.

I think it was Anthony Bourdain (man I love that dude) that said the sign of a cook was ugly hands – it was his mission as an aspiring chef to get that knarled and disfigured look which equates to kitchen kudos.

I didn’t even notice that I sliced the top off my finger this morning as I was hacking up a bit of beef for Boosty’s weekly meals.  All the red stuff over my shopping list was a little clue.  Gross.

I’m not the most careful cook – my technique, although fast is not exactly “safe.”  My Mum would always cringe watching me use a knife.

What’s been your worst cooking related injury?

Seeing HEAB‘s post on homemade apple and sweet potato purees, I remembered I had some of each in the fridge that needed using up.  Misty doesn’t really dig the whole ‘puree’ thing – he’s an independent man, and likes to feed himself.  Balls seem to be the way to go (and get good distance as a tasty chaser for Boosty).

Having purees on hand is kind of useful – they  add a certain something (yeah, the M word) to baking, extra flavour to sauces and soups, and are great mixed in with cereal or yoghurt.  If you have too much, just freeze and use at your leisure, what could be easier?  I also think eating pureed food is quite comforting in a ‘reverting back to childhood’ kinda way.  Maybe that’s just me.

I’m still on my sweet potato kick, so made these to involve Misty in the madness.

Misty’s Millet Munchies

(Gluten free, nut free, egg free, dairy free, soy free, vegan)

  • 1/4C sweet potato puree
  • 1/4C apple puree (or just use all sweet potato)
  • 1/4C millet
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon and ginger (approx 1/8t of each)
  • 1/2C water
  • 1/2C rice milk
  • 2T ground flax
  • Sesame seeds for coating (substitute with wheat germ, coconut, quinoa flakes, whatever you have).
  1. Combine everything except ground flax in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and wait until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed (around 20 minutes, it may be longer).
  3. Turn off heat and stir in flax seed.  Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and let the flax work it’s magic.
  4. Roll into balls, and coat in sesame seeds.
Bake at 150 degrees C for 15 minutes, roll balls over and continue cooking for another 10-15.  Turn off oven, leaving balls inside as it cools down for 10 minutes or so – just so they firm up a little more.  Use your judgement; every oven is different.

No injuries were sustained in the making of these balls.

you CAN do it

I’ve got issues.  Sweet potato and mango issues.  I’m just going crazy with both of them.  Soon I will go over the edge and start COMBINING the two (hmmmmm).

I know that most of you will not have access to mangoes right now, but I don’t care.  I have mangoes and I’m going to eat them, cook with them and smear them all over myself.

The lovely thing is (apart from me, ah the lovely Lou) that you can sub pretty much anything into these two recipes.   I think berries (fresh or frozen) would be delish, and canned fruit would work just as well.  I love apricots from the can, especially on cereal – it makes the milk at the bottom of the bowl go all sweet and tangy.  Sometimes, I hate to admit it, I think I almost prefer canned apricots; fresh are amazing, but they are always so hit and miss.  Either too hard and bitter, or way too soft and floury.

What fruit or vegetable do you prefer frozen or canned?  Or am I the only one willing to admit to it?

I really hate those little cherries. The grapes make me gag. Fruit salad from a can? Not so much love from Lou.

Coconut Mango Custard (Serves 3)

(Gluten free, dairy free, nut and seed free, soy free, egg free, vegan)

  • 3/4C coconut milk
  • 1/2C mango puree + additional puree for topping if desired (a few T per serve)
  • 1t lime juice
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 2T agave (or to taste, depends how sweeeeet you like it)
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 1/4t + 1/16 guar gum
  • Toasted coconut and mint for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients except guar gum in a small saucepan.
  2.  Bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, stir in guar gum until thick.
  4. Pour into glasses or bowls and put in the fridge to chill and “set.”
  5. If desired, top with additional mango puree, toasted coconut and mint.

Mango Cashew Cream 

(Gluten, dairy, egg, soy free.  Vegan)

  • 1/4C raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/3C mango puree
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt (approx 1/8t or to taste)
  • 1/2t lime juice
Blend all ingredients together.  Chill and use however your imagination sees fit.
I piped it into a little oaty crust I made (single serve – none for you Viper – ha!)

a surprise inside

Can you guess what’s inside this little gem?

I’ll give you a hint

No, it’s not a  sinfully rich cream, butter and sugar concoction (heart attack anyone?)

It actually contain both fruit AND vegetable, if you can believe it.

It can also be served like this: (with Spiced Pumpkin Granola)

It is suitable to feed one of these:

If you can catch him.

Give up?

Ok, ok it’s:

Sweet Potato Custard

  • 3/4C soy milk (dairy/almond/coconut would work)
  • 2 Medjool dates
  • 2T maple syrup
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 1/3C cooked sweet potato (or pumpkin)
  • 1/4t guar gum
  • 1/4t sea salt
  1. Chop up your dates finely, and place in the food processor with maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, sweet potato and sea salt.  Use a little of the milk for lubrication and process until smooth.
  2. Transfer into a small saucepan with the remaining milk.
  3. Bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer, and add the 1/4t guar gum.  Stir until thick.
  5. Spoon into bowls, either eat warm or let it set into more of a ‘pudding’ in the fridge.
If you want to use it as a pie filling, I made a simple nut crust (dates, almonds, sea salt pulsed in a food processor and pushed into a pie tin).  Pour in the sweet potato custard, chill in the fridge.  Once it has cooled and set slightly, pour this glaze on top:
(I made a single-serve pie – a 3 inch diameter dish – and this made too much for that.  Oh damn, what am I to do with all this leftover chocolate?)
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 t maple syrup
  • 1t organic cacao powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Chopped nuts for sprinkling
Melt coconut oil, mix in everything apart from chopped nuts.  Pour glaze over pie, sprinkle over nuts and chill in the fridge until it sets.
If you’re not into the sweet (what’s WRONG with you?!) than here is something savoury utilising my mate, old champy champ Mr. Sweet Potato (has no offiliation with Mr. Potato Head, that guy is just annoying).

Viper would LOVE this. Geek. Star Wars. Yawn.

Sweet Potato “Mayonaise”
If you want a thick dip, instead of a dressing/sauce – omit water.  Makes approximately 1/2 cup.
  • 1/3C sweet potato puree (can sub pumpkin instead)
  • 1T nutritional yeast
  • 1t tahini
  • 1/2 t wholegrain mustard
  • 1t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4T water
  • 1/2t lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together.
Use however you feel appropriate – salad dressing, sauce, dip, body paint – I’m not one to judge.