Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Challenge - Thursday Week 2

Everyone got their own breaky this morning as DD staying here and up early to go to work. DH was up even earlier to check sheep and cart water. I had my usual tomato and avocado between toast. Yucky bought bread from the freezer as no home made left.

Lunch was a wrap with meatloaf from the other night, last of the coleslaw, tomato and cucumber with some egg mayo spread on the base.

I made a loaf of bread today and left it to rise too long in the tin.  It's a high rise loaf, but not normally that high! My DD calls this style of loaf "Bum Bread".

Tea was Chilli Con Carne using the recipe from the Thermomix Every Day Cookbook. I added a few teaspoonfuls of cumin. I didn't have any Red Kidney Beans, so had to use a can of 5 Bean Mix. It was OK, but need green capsicum.
I didn't have any lettuce as I hadn't had time to shop today. So, we had it with corn chips, tomato, avocado, sour cream mixed with yoghurt and grated cheese. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Challenge - Wednesday Week 2

Easy breakfast this morning - tinned spaghetti on toast of home made bread!

Lunch was left over salad and zucchini slice and tea was a bit of a cheat's one as I've been in my Skinflint workshop today.

I made the Quarter Cake from the Thermomix Budget Busters book and put the mixture in patty pans. I couldn't bring myself to use the full 250g sugar with only 250g flour, so reduced this to 190g and the mixture was plenty sweet enough.
These worked out quite well, with a flat top, so good for decorating. My patty cakes usually have a peak and rise a lot more than these. I don't really see this recipe as a budget one with 250g butter and 4 eggs!

Breakfast for tea. There were still some chops from the other night which hadn't been cooked, so

Chops, home made wedges, baked beans, eggs (fresh from a friends 'girls') and bacon:

3 potatoes, unpeeled, cut in half along the flattest part and then into wedges and steamed for a few minutes in the Varoma basket.
Place in a plastic bag with 1/4 cup rice flour, salt, pepper, dash of chilli powder and shake to coat.
Deep fry or spray with oil and bake in a hot oven until cooked.

A dearth of green on the plate, but we had salad for lunch.

No expenditure today.
Total spend for 8 days: $75.09

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Challenge - Tuesday Week 2

Breakfast this morning was tinned spaghetti on toast made with home made bread and bacon.

For lunch, I made a Zucchini Slice with my home grown yellow zucchini and some frozen peas using Elisabeth's Crustless Quiche Recipe. She is known as 'achookwoman' on the Thermomix Forum.
This is a little different from regular Zucchini Slice as it uses milk and cream. It was delicious! Served with left over salads from last night.

Tea was a yummy Meatloaf:
500g Low Fat Mince
1/2 cup breadcrumbs from left over home made bread dried in oven and blitzed in the Thermomix
1/2 kumara, chopped for about 4 seconds on speed 5
1 onion, chopped in Thermomix for around 4 seconds on speed 5
1 Tbsp Mild English Mustard
2 Tbsp Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Wrap in greased foil and place in a bread tin. Bake at 175 C for around 45 minutes. Open foil at top and glaze with Tomato Relish. Increase heat to 225 C and bake for another 25 minutes, or use the grill function of your oven to brown the top of the loaf.
Served with mixed vegies from freezer and mashed potato. Gravy made with Knorr Gravy mix with 3 Tbsp Tomato Relish added to it.

No purchases today.

Total Spend still stands at $75.09

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Challenge - Monday Week 1

Easy breakfast today, cereal and toast from home made bread. When cereal runs out, I'll make muesli.

Lunch was packed for DH - wraps made from the meat of the last turkey wing and salad with bought Dijonnaise that was in the pantry. Sliced bread and wraps are part of a permanent order from my local store. I don't want to cancel this, so will have to add the cost of this to my running total.

Tea was barbecued lamb chops with a variety of salads - Curried Broccoli, Pumpkin and Spinach, Coleslaw, Tomato, Onion and Cucumber in White Balsamic.  No dessert again as I'm not a dessert eater and DH didn't want any. Whew! I didn't make dessert as paperwork took up a lot of my time today.

You can see in the photo two yellow zucchinis from our garden. I'll make a zucchini slice tomorrow for lunch, I think

Total Spend still stands at $75.09. That's pretty incredible for a week as I'm more likely to spend around $200 or $300 in one week on food.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Challenge - Sunday Week 1

Still in Albany this morning, so a delicious breakfast at THE place to have breaky in Albany, Dylans on the Terrace.

We both enjoyed the Breakfast Stack - mushrooms & onion, spinach, bacon and a poached egg all on toast served with a grilled tomato. DH had his with a sausage. Only criticism is that neither of us liked the onion with this, even DH who loves onion with anything.

On the way home from Albany we called in to IGA and bought some fresh fruit and vegies, soy milk and some EasiYo Greek yoghurt mix. Ooh, and I did cheat, because I bought some bacon. There's only a little bit left in the fridge and I can't live without bacon.

Cost: $59.29, so Total Spend now $75.09.

Lunch was a sandwich of tomato from the garden, avocado and dijonnaise on home made bread.

Since I still had the roast vegies from Friday night and the turkey wings, tea is re heated vegies (steamed in the Varoma),  gravy already made Friday night and some broccoli purchased today. Since the turkey wings were tough, I decided to cook them further. Made a miripoix of carrot and onion, diced really finely thanks to my birthday present - a gorgeous Global Cook's Knife. Saute in olive oil and add deglaze white wine. add a little water. Place turkey wings in liquid and cook on very low for an hour. I used my Le Creuset casserole for this.

Remove legs from pan and place in Thermoserver. Add liquid to Thermomix bowl. Blend on speed 5 for a few seconds. Add the gravy to the liquid and thicken with a little cornflour if necessary. Cook on 100, speed 2 for 5 minutes or so until boiling and any added cornflour is cooked. Remove and pour over wings. This should keep warm while vegies are steaming. I put the beans, which were already cooked, in a small dish in the base of the Varoma and roasted cooked vegies in the top part of the steamer. No need to wash bowl, just add 500 ml hot water.  Have broccoli ready in basket to add to the bowl in the last 5 to 6 minutes of steaming.

No dessert, we don't need it after last night!

Delicious! Very frugal and no little bits of left overs sitting in the fridge.

Total Spend still stands at $75.09

Nut Butter

This is a post I've had sitting in draft format for some time as I was planning to add a photo. Can't find the photo, but I thought I'd post it anyway.

There's nothing more satisfying to me than being able to make something that I would normally buy, and, not only that, but to make it better and much healthier than the bought version.

Today it was Nut Butter, ACP Butter, to be precise. Almond, Cashew and Peanut Butter is delicious and so simple to make in the Thermomix.

To make this, roast 200g almonds in the oven until they're crispy and allow to cool.
Place in Thermomix with 200g unsalted cashews and 100g salted peanuts. Whizz on speed 6 to 7 for around 30 seconds, helping the mixture move with the spatula. Continue blending until the desired consistency is achieved. No need to add any oil unless you like it very chunky. Add 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt to taste.

Store in a jar in the cupboard and use within a few months if it lasts that long!

Healthy Cooking

Another post sitting in draft format waiting for a photo. No photo, sorry!

I love my food and so do my family. However, it can be tricky to keep the healthy balance, so I've decided to see if I can include more whole foods into our diet.

We already eat my wholemeal/rye/white homemade bread with seeds, but it's the cakes and bickies that are the issue. I've been experimenting with the addition of wholemeal flour in two of my regular recipes.
Today I made both American Pancakes and Carrot Cake substituting one third of the flour with wholemeal.

I didn't notice any difference in either finished product. The Pancakes were still light and luscious as was the Carrot Cake.

I try to use brown rice wherever possible and will experiment with wholemeal pasta in future.

I'm also looking at the different substitutes for sugar. I refuse to use artificial ingredients, so have bought some Agave Syrup and Rapadura Sugar.

There's a great article by a blogger friend of mine which explains all about the different sugar substitutes here. Quirky Jo is a mine of dietary information on things such as sweeteners, gluten free flours, dairy substitutes, making chocolate from scratch and other wonderful ideas. She's also a Thermomix addict.

Tonight I'm making Porcupine Meatballs, a recipe that traditionally uses a can of condensed tomato soup. Since I'm not using processed ingredients, I'm making my own 'condensed soup' from a recipe provided by another Thermomix user, Chelsea. I've substituted the frozen raw tomatoes with canned tomatoes (one of the few canned ingredients that I do use) and have added a few more things to the recipe.

This is the basis of it here:

1 large brown onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 green apple, cored and cut into eighths (I don't bother peeling)
2 x 410g cans crushed tomatoes in juice
50g red wine vinegar
150g rapadura or around 130g brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
3 tsp dried bell peppers (available from bulk food stores), substitute with 1/4 red capsicum chopped with the onion and apple
1/4 tsp mixed herbs

Place onion and apple (and capsicum if substituting) into Thermomix bowl and chop for 7 seconds on speed 5. Add all other ingredients and mix for 10 seconds on speed 4.

Cook for 40 minutes on Varoma temperature, speed 2.

Blend for 1 minute, slowly turning dial to 9 making sure MC is in place.

Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. Turn upside down for 10 minutes to complete sealing process.

Use wherever a recipe calls for a can of tomato soup.

The Challenge - Saturday Week 1

It was my birthday on Saturday and I had a wonderful trip to Albany where I was 'gonged' at the Sandalwood Factory and then tea with friends at the Wild Duck.

The Wild Duck had a Five Course Degustation Menu (simply a fancy way of saying Set Menu) for $85 which a few of us chose to have with the matched wines for an extra $35.
The dishes were all small, delicately presented and brought out on enormous plates. The boys all thought they were going to starve. Boy, were they wrong!

The first course was a delicious cauliflower soup served with a seared scallop (just one, mind you) and some sort of decorative herb. We're not sure what it was, but it was a deep maroon colour. Don't remember what wine we had with this as I'd already finished it by the time the soup was served. (Well, it was only an 80ml serve of wine!)

Next, came a 15-hour cooked belly of pork with crackling, again with a seared scallop on a bed of Persian mash. This just fell apart, was wonderfully tasty and there was no fat as it had all been rendered out in the cooking process. Served with a light Sauvignon Blanc, I think, that I felt was a bit sweet. I wouldn't have served seared scallop twice, perhaps a prawn with the soup. One of the guests was allergic to seafood, but it wasn't an issue for the kitchen.

A Raspberry Sorbet came out in between here which was presented on a tiny plate and was a perfectly shaped quenelle. A bit sweet for my taste, but with a delicious hint of something aniseed, perhaps basil. The men thought it was hilarious, but ate it.

Course three was braised beef cheeks served on a corn puree with caramilised onion jam. An equally delicious dish, very rich and filling. By this stage, I was feeling quite replete.  The wine was a Cab Sav and was great match for the dish.
Instead of the beef, I would have appreciated a vegetarian dish here as we'd had no vegies to speak of up to now.

Next, my favourite, crispy skin duck breast on a pumpkin puree with spinach, baby carrot (one! DH said our carrots must be ready to pick) and pea puree. Absolutely superb and I was glad to see some vegies! A Pinot Noir came with the duck, not my favourite and not something I'd serve with duck.

Finally, a Lemon Tart that wasn't tart at all, but very sweet with a crunchy sugar topping. I didn't eat mine as I was already coming down with acid reflux and had raided the kitchen for some antacid tablets. Dessert was served with the most sickly wine I've ever tasted. A "Cane Cut" Reisling. Not one of us could stomach it.

All in all, a very tasty, but very expensive meal. I loved the presentation and service and, of course enjoyed the company. I wouldn't bother doing the matching wines again, but it was a good experience to try this.

No expenditure on food for home today, so Total Spend still stands at $15.80. Not bad for four days of three meals a day.

The Challenge - Friday Week 1

Breakfast again was poached egg with some left over Hollandaise Sauce on toast.
Packed lunch as off to school for a day of relief teaching. Just a salad and left over lasagne. Dear Husband packed it for me, so it was a huge piece of lasagne and an unusual salad with carrot and pickled onions.

On the way home from school I bought some milk, pumpkin, potatoes and kumura to have for tea - $12.00.

Tea was some Turkey Wings from the freezer, roasted with potatoes, pumpkin and kumura and left over french beans from the previous night. As the oven was going, I baked a loaf of bread for tomorrow's breakfast.

Since it was my birthday the following day, I went to the pub with a girlfriend and my daughter for a couple of drinks. Therefore, by the time I got home it was too late to eat, so tea went in the fridge to be resurrected for another night's meal. Dear Husband said it was nice, though the Turkey Wings were a bit tough.

Best Cooked Mayonnaise

This was originally my Mum's recipe and many would recognise it from days gone by. I've adapted it as it had a tendency to separate and was a little bit runny for my liking.

Add to  locked 

3 Tbs plain flour
2 Tbsp dry mustard
1.5 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup sugar - can use less
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup (100g) bland tasting oil -  I use macadamia or light olive
4 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
2 tsp lecithin (optional)

Mix on speed 4 for 30 seconds, then speed 6 for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, measure out 2 cups (410g) milk and 1 cup (230g) brown vinegar.  Add both slowly while continuing to mix on speed 2-3.
Cook on 90 degrees C for 20 - 25 minutes on speed 3.

This is a very versatile mayonnaise. It's excellent in sandwiches and wraps and as a base for other salad dressings. It makes great potato salad dressing on its own or with additions below.

To make Coleslaw Dressing:
Mix mayo with some of the juice from a can of pineapple - add the pineapple to the coleslaw

Ranch Dressing
Mix equal parts mayo and sour cream. Add some chopped parsley and dill

Potato Salad Dressing
Mix equal parts with either sour cream or yoghurt and add some chopped gherkin and mint

Curried Salad Dressing
Mix equal parts with cream or sour cream and add 1 tsp curry powder and 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Keeps for ages in the fridge, though it may separate. Just give it a shake. If you like it thicker, add another Tbsp flour.


Friday, February 18, 2011

The Challenge - Thursday Week 1

Breakfast this morning was a Croissant again with bacon, cheese and tomato.

Lunch today, was left over Lasagne as I was called in to school for the afternoon and didn't have time to make anything.  Lasagne was delicious. Rather than layering the grilled vegies, I just chopped them up and added them to the bolognaise sauce.  I made a little white sauce and added ricotta, parmesan and cheddar and spread over the top. Delicious!

Tea was some Barramundi that was in the freezer. Coated in wholemeal flour with salt and pepper added and lightly fried in a mixture of butter and oil. Served with simple mashed potatoes, french beans and carrots that were forgotten the previous night!

I made a yummy sauce for the fish:

Lemon Sauce
Mix and heat in microwave or Thermomix:
Juice and rind of one lemon
2 Tbsp homemade cooked mayonnaise
1/2 cup fish stock (water and powdered fish stock)

Thicken will a little cornflour.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Challenge - Wednesday Week 1

Breakfast this morning was easy as I had the croissants that we received for free from the Spirit Radio guy in Bunbury.

Bacon, Cheese and Tomato Croissants

No need to provide a recipe for these as they're simple!

Left over Pizza Subs from Tuesday Week 1

Lasagne and salad
There is a tub of ricotta in the fridge which needs to be used, so I thought of Lasagne as I make my cheese sauce with ricotta. On checking the pantry, I had two packets of lasagne sheets.
I make my lasagne with a simple bolognaise recipe using tomato passata (made yesterday), tinned tomatoes and tomato paste (got all those!) and add in grilled Mediterranean vegies. I have squash, zucchini and eggplant.

No purchases today as I have lettuce in the fridge and tomatoes & cucumber from the garden. I have plenty of Tangy Lemon Dressing.

So expenditure still stands at $3.80


The Challenge - Tuesday Week 1

On our way home from Busselton, my sister and I stopped in at Spotlight in Bunbury only to find a man in a ute calling out "Free Stuff!"

Spirit Radio were giving away free bread, rolls and croissants. Well, foraging is allowed, so we grabbed a loaf of bread, croissants, a packet of Turkish bread and some knot rolls. What a fortuitous start to our Freezer and Pantry Challenge!

Another quick stop in Collie to pick my sister's vegetable garden of all it's bounty. Fresh beans, baby eggplant and some roma tomatoes added to our purchases made at the Busselton Markets on Sunday.

Cream of Tomato on Toast with Bacon - affectionately referred to as Cat Sick by various family members.
Serves 3
2 x ripe tomatoes - peeled & diced. (make a light cross in the bottom with a sharp knife and place in a tall jug. Pour boiling water over and let sit for 30 seconds. Refresh with cold water and then peel)
2 eggs
1 Tbs sour cream (normally I use cream, but there wasn't any in the fridge)
3 slices bacon

Fry bacon in pan, remove and keep warm. Add tomatoes to pan, season and fry. Beat eggs with cream.
When tomatoes are cooked, add eggs and stir around until cooked. Should look like cat sick.

Serve on hot buttered toast with the bacon.

Pizza Subs

Made tomato passata with added herbs from the garden (bay, oregano and basil) in the Thermomix.
Use as a pizza sauce on Turkish bread halves. Top with diced onion, chorizo, ham, pineapple, champignons and top with a mix of grated mozzarella (in my freezer), cheddar & parmesan cheeses. Bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes.

Baked Chicken Pieces with Lemon
Serves 4

1 packet Ingham's Frozen Chicken Pieces, defrosted
1 Tbsp capers (Whew! I had some in the fridge)
 Photography by Mark O'Meara

1 lemon cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, chopped (forgot these, not enough wine)
3 small onions, cut in half (didn't need them)
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock (I used water and 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch thyme (recipe said Lemon Thyme, but Rambo had dug it up)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Arrange chicken pieces, in a large ovenproof dish. Top with lemon wedges, capers and garlic. Whisk oil, stock and wine together and pour over. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and spread thyme sprigs on top.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Increase oven temperature to 200 degrees C and bake a further 30 minutes or until chicken is golden.

Served with mashed potato, fresh beans and baby squash. Forgot the carrots sitting in the Thermomix, too much wine.

Steamed Apricot Pudding
This is best done in a Bessemer Dutch Oven. We ended up having to bake this as I used the Le Crueset Casserole Dish.

1 large tinned apricots, drained
4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 batch cake mixture (or can use a packet cake mix if one in pantry)

Melt butter in pan and add sugar. Cook until bubbling and sugar dissolved. Add apricots in a single layer and cook a little. Pour over cake mixture and place lid on pan. Cook on top of stove on very low heat for 40 minutes or in oven with no lid if the pan has no steam vents.
Serve with fresh cream.

Purchases today: Onions and Cream - $3.80

The Freezer & Pantry Challenge

A chance comment to my sister has led to a month long challenge of frugality. I mentioned that my pantry and freezer were so full I figured I could live on them for three months if there was a nuclear holocaust. She suggested I try it for a month. So, I am and I will record each day's meals, snacks and food purchases.


1. You cannot purchase anything that is able to be easily frozen and kept. e.g. bacon.
2. Only staples of milk, eggs, cream and fresh fruit and vegetables may be purchased.
3. You must make bread if you have bread flour in the pantry and yoghurt if you have yoghurt mix.
4. No packaged, canned or frozen food is allowed to be purchased.

The next post will be about Day 1. It wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Panko Breadcrumbs

Panko Breadcrumbs are a Japanese product that's become popular, due in large to TV Shows like Masterchef. I refuse to buy it as it contains palm oil which I try to avoid in my food. It's also overpriced and so easy to make at home.

My mum used to make  dried breadcrumbs from left over white bread and no one thought it was anything special, so why is Panko so?

I found a really interesting video on YouTube from UpperCrust Bakery somewhere in the US. Panko simply means small pieces.
The history of Panko isn't thousands or even hundreds of years. It was developed during WWII when the Japanese were fighting the Russians. They wanted to bake bread without heat, so created a method that used electric current.

The bakery in the video makes it this way today, using only electric current which has little heat, but still cooks the bread. The dough is risen three times.  It comes out of the special ovens white and crustless, before being air dried for 18 hours and then made into breadcrumbs.

Fascinating! I bet the original Japanese version didn't have palm oil as they wouldn't have had access to it. I imagine they would have used something like rice bran oil.

The reasoning behind Panko's popularity is the fact that it's flaky rather than crumbly, so doesn't soak up as much oil as regular crumbs. It lacks any flavour, so is a good vehicle to carry other flavours.

I'm sticking with Mum's tried and true slow dried breadcrumbs from ordinary white bread. I don't eat white bread, but buy it for my husband. Why is that most men prefer white bread? To me, it's like glue.

Anyway, I have some crumbs in my oven right now.
Lightly blend (speed 4 or so and check after a couple of seconds) crustless bread in the Thermomix and spread the crumbs on a tray to dry out on very low heat - around 100C. If you leave the bread out on the bench for a few hours to dry out before blending, it will take less time. Normally, it takes about 3 or 4 hours. Store them in a large coffee jar in the cupboard.

The classic use for Panko is to crumb fish and chicken for either deep or shallow frying.  They're very versatile.  You can make a great crusty casserole topping by adding some grated parmesan or ordinary cheddar cheese and a little melted butter.  Cauliflower Cheese takes on a new dimension when topped with buttery, crispy breadcrumbs.