Friday, 29 August 2008

Slow cooker cassoulet

1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
300g chopped bacon
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
400g diced lamb
400g diced pork
2 cups haricot beans
1 cup beef stock
1 cup water
140g tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
400g can diced tomatoes
1 bouquet garni

50g butter
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
1/ cup chopped parsley to serve

Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 8-10 hours, stirring halfway through cooking if possible.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry breadcrumbs until golden.

Serve cassoulet sprinkled with parley and toasted crumbs.

Thyme Dumplings - to top a slow cooker casserole

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dried thyme
25g butter
approx 1/2 cup milk

Combine flour, baking powder and thyme. Melt butter and mix into flour. Add milk until a soft dough is formed. Roll mixture into balls and drop onto top of casserole. Do this about 1/2 an hour before the casserole is ready.

Slow cooker - Moroccan Hotpot with cornbread

2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 chicken thighs, cut in half
2 chorizo sausages, cut in 2cm slices
400g can moroccan-style tomatoes
1/2 cup water

Place onions, tomatoes, chorizo and chicken into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
Half an hour before the end of cooking, spoon corn bread topping onto the chicken mixture, spreading to cover. Turn the slow cooker to HIGH and cook for a further half hour.

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp paprika
25g melted butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Mix all dray ingredients together. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Mix together wet ingredients and pour into the well. Mix well to combine.

Slow cooker Minestrone

Serves 6-8

1 c red kidney beans
2 carrots, diced
3 pieces celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 rashers bacon, de-rinded and chopped
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
1/4 c tomato paste
6 c boiling chicken stock
1 bouquet garni
1 c macaroni elbows
1/4 small cabbage, finely sliced
parmesan cheese to serve

Soak kidney beans overnight. Drain and rinse, discarding soaking water.
Alternatively, boil for 15-20 minutes, discarding cooking water.
Place the following in the slow cooker: soaked beans, carrots, celery, garlic, bacon, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and bouquet garni. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours.
Add macaroni an hour before the end as well as salt to taste. Add cabbage half and hour before ready to serve. Serve hot garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese.

***Did you know that red kidney beans, unlike other beans must be presoaked or precooked before using in the slow cooker. These beans contain aflotoxins, which are removed in the pre-soaking.
Don't be tempted to keep the soaking/precooking water you are not wasting nutrients but stopping these toxins making you sick.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Spicy Chickpea Salad

I've been trying to replicate a bought salad, I think this might come close. I've yet to try it as I don't have the ingredients on hand. I'd love your feedback if you try it before I do!

1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved (or you could use 2-3 large ones roughly chopped)
a handful of chopped parley
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together well.
Likewise toss all the salad ingredients together.
Pour dressing over salad, stir well.
leave for at least and hour for flavours to develop.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, before serving.

Makes 2 serves.

Fresh Pear Cake/s

I'm going to try this on the weekend as I have some pears laying around.

150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
150g plain flour, sifted
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 170c
Line a medium 12 cup muffin pan.
Beat together all ingredients, except pears and almonds, in a bowl with an electric mixer - until light and creamy.
Spoon mixture into each cup - lay a couple of slices of pear on top of each and sprinkle over almonds.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

This can also be baked in a greased and lined 20cm springform pan @ 180c for 45 minutes.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Apricot, white chocolate and oat muffins (updated)

These were a bit of an experiment to use up some of the remaining home preserved apricots.
I forgot the oats in the original recipe, but they are here now :)
Makes 24 medium muffins

425g tin of apricots in syrup, drained quickly (I used home preserved ones)
1&1/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup white chocolate chunks, chips or buds
extra white chocolate

Puree apricots (could also use fresh or dried ones that have been stewed).
Stir in sugar, oil and eggs.
Lightly stir in remaining ingredients until just combined.
Spoon batter into lightly greased/lined muffin tins.
Top each muffin with a piece of the remaining chocolate.
Bake 15-18 minutes in 180c /425f oven.
Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
These are awesome when still warm.

Old fashioned rice pudding in a slow cooker

Loosely adapted another recipe to make this - cinnamon was nice but I think next time I would use less or leave it out altogether.

3/4 cup white long grain rice
3 & 1/2 cups milk
3 tbs powered milk
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch salt
3 tbs butter (I grated mine into the mix)

Grease the inside of the slow cooker.
Stir in all the other ingredients.
Cook on high for 2 &1/2 to 3 hours.
Check after the lesser time - it will also keep cooking after the slow cooker is turned turn it off when there is still a bit of liquid - it will solidify on standing.

I'm back!!!

Yes, I'll admit I haven't been around for a has been moving a long at a cracking pace and right now I am finding it hard to keep up some days!
Nothing exceptional to report - just spending more time hanging out with friends and family.
I'll post some new recipes below - at least that is one thing I am doing lots of and trying new recipes.
Enjoy and take care of you all!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Satay Chicken (slow cooker)

This one is loosely based on one that I think came from a FlyLady email.

12 skinless chicken thighs
3 tbs soy sauce
4-6 cloves garlic (crushed)
1tsp powdered ginger
3 tsp oil
2 tbs chilli sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter

Combine all the sauce/marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well - except for peanut butter. Toss halved chicken thighs in mixture to coat thoroughly.
Pour everything into lightly greased slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Remove chicken from dish and stir in peanut butter and
2tbs cornflour dissolved in 2 tbs water.
Return chicken to the pot and cook on high for 30 minutes.
Serves 6 with rice.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Swiss Steak (slow cooker recipe)

Antotehr in my series of family favourites. I think this one came from the aussie slow cookers group on yahoo. Thank you to whoever added it!

Swiss Steak

1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
750g diced beef/steak
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 small (440g) tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 tbs brown sugar

Toss steak in flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.
Saute onion, cerely and carrot together in a frypan (or skip this step if short on time)
Place everything into the slow cooker and mix it well.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.***

Great served with mashed potoatoes and green vegetables.

*** Just remember not all slow cookers are created equal. The latest generation of slow cookers tend to cook hotter and faster than the older models. Make sure you test drive any new recipes on a day that you will be home. Then you'll know what timing and settings work for you!

Pasta Mince Casserole

This is the first in a new series of family favourite recipes - a lot of friends have been asking me for these as well as some of my favourite slow cooker recipes. it seems a few of my friends got slow cookers for Mother's Day and now need new recipes for them.
This one is an oven recipe that my Mum gave me - it is in her handwriting in an old diary. It was one of her very practical gifts to me, early on in my married life.
This one is also great to make up the night before, but don't put it in the oven till the next day. Also makes great leftovers and freezes well.

Pasta Mince Casserole
1 large onion (diced)
500g topside mince
3/4 cup grated carrot
2 medium tomatoes (chopped) or 1/2 tin drained chopped tomatoes
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 cups shell or elbow macaroni (cooked for about 7 mins)
2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 440g can cream of mushroom/celery soup or cream of soup replacement (see below)

Little oil in a pan.
Add onion to meat, stir over high heat until lightly browned
Add carrot, Worcestershire sauce and chopped tomatoes.
Then add can of soup (or substitute), stir until heated through.
Grease a long casserole dish.
Place a layer of macaroni.
Layer of cheese.
Layer of mince mixture.
Continue until you finish with a cheese layer.
Cook for a bout 35 mins at about 180c, until cooked and lightly browned on top.

Not sure which website I got this recipe from but it worked well as a replacement for the tinned soup! Thank you to whoever it was :)

Condensed cream of chicken soup
1.5 cups homemade chicken stock
1 small onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbs fresh parsley (1/4 tsp dried)
dash of paprika
1.5 cups reduced fat milk
0.75 cup plain flour

Boil together stock, 0.5 cup milk and the seasonings for 3-5 minutes.
In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining milk and flour until smooth. Add tot he boiling stock mixture and continue whisking until the mix boils and thickens.
Mixture should be cooled and then refrigerated or frozen in portions.
Make approx 3 cups.
1.5 cups is roughly the equivalent of a 440g tin of condensed soup.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Chocolate Truffles (UPDATED)

I've had these twice over the past month at two separate Tupperware parties. I wanted to just post the link to the Tupperware Recipe page, but seems they are redesigning it right now so I am posting it here instead! Thought these would make a great Mother's Day gift or you could serve them with coffee at a mothers day meal :)



50g walnuts or hazelnuts
300g dark cooking chocolate
100g good quality dark eating chocolate
25g copha (OR BUTTER)

Fudge centre
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs orange liqueur
1/4 tsp finely grated orange rind or few drops of orange essence
1 tbs dessicated coconut

cocoa for dusting


1. Toast nuts on a microwave proof lid/plate in the microwave for 2 mins on 650w (medium high). Set aside to cool slightly. To remove the brown skins of the hazelnuts, place in a clean tea towel and rub together. Roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
2. Place the roughly chopped chocolate into a microwave proof jug. Grate the copha/butter and add to the jug. Microwave for two minutes on 650w (medium high), until softened but not all melted. Keep gently stirring until all the chocolate melts.
3. Place the sweetened condensed milk, liqueur, orange rind, coconut and nuts into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the melted chocolate mix from step 2. Stir well until the mix become thick and fudge like.
4. Carefully spoon just enough melted chocolate to cover the base of your ice cube tray. top with approximately 1/2 tsp of the fudge mix. Spoon over a little more melted chocolate to encase the fudge centre.
5. Refrigerate or freeze the ice cube tray for 15-30 minutes or until set. Twist the tray to release the chocolate. Arrange artfully on a plate and dust lightly with cocoa before serving.


*I used the Tupperware ice cube trays for these, but I have made other chocolates using other brands of ice cube trays - just as long as they are deep trays these will work.
* Truffles will keep for up to two weeks in a sealed container, in the pantry. In hot weather it is best to keep them refrigerated.
* Using milk or white chocolates in place of the dark will also work, but be sure to use 500w (medium) when melting these.
* Nuts can be substituted with dried fruit snipped into small pieces. Adding a whole hazelnut to the centre would also be nice.
* We doubled the quantity of orange liqueur and the taste was still very subtle.
* Butter worked well in place of the copha although the chocolates do melt a bit quicker in your fingers, unfortunately this means you will have to either eat them quickly or lick your fingers! How unfortunate!

Be warned you can really only eat one of these, they are very rich and very chocolaty!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Thank you

I just wanted to say a belated thank you to all the people who have visited me in the past week, both the new visitors and also my regular ones (You know who you are - most of your blogs are in my sidebar). All that positive feedback makes it all worth it. Some days I think it is all too hard, but then I remember why I try to live that way I do.
Because it makes me happy and as Rhonda said today I am part of the kitchen sink revolution! Go read her great post here and join us on our frugal and sustainable journey.
I value each and every comment I receive and read them all, even if I don't get time to comment on all of them!
Please keep visiting and leave a comment if you like :)
If you'd like me to add your blog to my favourites list then leave me a comment :) I know there are a lot out there that I read and then forget to add them to my list. Plus if you have any favourites why not share then with us.
I've also got some new recipes to share this coming week so I hope you like them.
Thanks again.

Friday, 25 April 2008

My life, simply

Rhonda Jean of asked all her readers to write about our versions of living a simple life. Here is mine.

I guess I was always brought up in a frugal way, I remember always eating home baked biscuits and my Mum making all our clothes. My Mum only ever worked part time and my Dad was always able to fix things. I can remember many of our bikes being made from parts salvaged from the local tip. We used to joke that Dad would bring home more from the tip than he dropped off!

In my early 20's I fell for all the advertising and keeping up with the Jones'. We had a mortgage and the interest rates peaked at 17%. We had friends over for dinner parties and rarely went out for meals as we couldn't afford it! We commuted over an hour each day to work. We decided to cut our losses and eventually we bought the worst house in a really nice street.
From that point on I started to remember the old ways. We did most of the renovating ourselves and learned lots along that way!
I have always enjoyed cooking and always owned a slow cooker. When I became pregnant with my first child that I really started to look at ways to cut costs. I knew I didn't want to go back to work immediately. My children both had cloth nappies and home made clothes.
Years later following my divorce I spent six months back under my parents roof. They still live the same frugal, gentle life I remember from my childhood.
Being a single parent with 2 children and a mortgage I try to lead a frugal but happy life. We also discovered that my son reacts to a lot of food preservatives and additives (the numbers as he calls them).
I work about 30 hours a week so have learned to be very organised. I have a wonderful boyfriend who helps a lot with meal preparation and planning. My children also spend 50% of their time with their Dad, so I work longer hours the week they are with him and shorter hours when they are in my care. Here is a list of things that come to mind, the everyday of our simple, frugal lives:
I cook from scratch and bake at least once a week, our own biscuits and cakes.
I recycle, I have started growing our own herbs.
This year I started a compost heap.
We collect water when it rains in our old rainwater tank.
I dry my washing outside on the line and have only ever owned one dryer (it came with a house) I always think before I buy something new.
My daughter loves going op shopping with me.
I clean with bicarb and vinegar mostly, using old clothes/towels as cleaning cloths.
I menu plan and stockpile when I see good specials.
I use a cash budget for most items.
I preserve excess fruit to use throughout the year.
I freeze excess veggies as well.
I shop at local markets in order to buy in bulk and then share with family & friends.
I try to buy only Australian foods, but this is not always possible with my budget.
I catch public transport when I can.
My children ride or catch the bus to school most days.
I don't use plastic bags for my shopping - I have green bags and mesh bags for my fruit & veg.
I make my own laundry liquid.
I cook freezable meals in bulk (like bolognaise sauce).
I don't have a dishwasher in my kitchen.
My children attend the local public schools and I try to stay involved in their education.

My favourite thing right now is that I have managed to save enough to take my children overseas this year. I still have my mortgage to pay off, but I figure the memories are worth more than I can put a price on. In a few years my children will miss too much school, so it is now or never.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 13 April 2008


I've been fortunate in the last few weeks to receive a couple of parcels in the post!
I love getting mail!

The first one was part of Lightening's Smiley Saturday where we had to swap something pink.
My swap partner was a lady called Lizzie who also lives here in Adelaide - we had plans to meet and perhaps we still will but here is a pic of what she sent me:
(did someone tell her I was into scrapbooking and baking???)
Thank you Lizzie your pink parcel made me smile :)
My second parcel was part of the shopping tote swap organised by the girls at down to earth - mine came from Kelly who lives in the USA - Thank you Kelly I really do feel spoilt! For those of you who haven't tried the Reece's Peanut Butter cups - you are missing out! And I'm not sharing! YUMMMMM!

Swapping is a great way to make new friends! Do try it if you get the chance!

You Cheer Me Up

I have to admit I am feeling a little overwhelmed of late. Time seems to be passing too quick and I seem not be keeping up. One of the things I have tried to cut down on is my computer time, to allow more more time to do the things I need to do. This means I don't get to post as often, but I promise I will try at least once a week to get on here and share some pieces of my life, recipes and pictures.

Thank you to Tracy for this award!

Here are the instructions for this award:"If you are a recipient of the "You Cheer Me Up" Award, please find the blogs that cheer you up, copy the code to post on your sidebar and pass Ethel and Lucy across the blogosphere. You can use what cheers you up in your post, or copy this one, but please send your award recipients back to the original post on A Nice Place In The Sun to get a copy of the award code, post the image and read the instructions. I want to try to maintain a page of original and ongoing award recipients, so feel free to let me know if you've received an award when you pick up the image code."

Friday, 4 April 2008

100 posts!

100 posts is something I never thought I would reach when I first started writing out my favourite recipes and thoughts here. Where has all that time gone? This is actually my 101st post, cause I missed it entirely in the grand scheme of my life!
My families favourite recipe for this week is apricot squares and also a great recipe to use up all the jars of preserved apricots I have stored from the summer before last! I can see this one becoming a regular item at my house over winter!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Birthdays and more birthdays...

Well I think I went into hibernation with the heat here in Adelaide and now I am finally coming back out. Here is what I got up to in March!
I had a birthday back on 8/3 and was given very practical/frugal presents.
My BF refinished the bench tops in my kitchen which were peeling badly.
New timber on top (I bought some tongue & groove floorboards a few months ago) and then two coats of stain/lacquer and 3 coats of polyurethane later. They look fab - will hopefully post a pic on my blog soon!
My parents got me a torch to put in my car (my request) and it doesn't need batteries! BONUS! It is a wind up one. Also has a built in radio, siren and adaptors to do an emergency charge on your mobile phone. How cool is that! They also gave me some $$.
My best friend had me over her house for dinner and bought me two things that she had, that I had been eyeing off. An awesome circulon dish brush - every time I have used hers I kept asking her where she go it! The other thing is a non-stick Mat for the BBQ - this is like a silicon sheet that you put on the hotplate of your BBQ - especially good when you are cooking marinated items as they don't burn or stick. When it cools down you just remove it and wash it in the sink, ready for next time!
My workmates gave me a cute card and more $$.
Why the $$ you may well ask - well I am taking my family to BALI in August this year - so most people have been giving me money to buy stuff I need for the trip or to add to my savings a/c (I have a separate one) for spending when I get there.
I saw a great digital camera in the K-Mart catalogue last week ($149) with really cheap SD memory cards (1GB for $15) so I put one on lay-by as well as two memory cards.
So there goes all my birthday money
On a side note my other camera which is 4 years old will go to my son so he has a camera for Bali too!

My son's birthday was on Easter Sunday.
All my son wanted for his birthday was a copy of Mario Kart for his Nintendo DS!
I tried to be frugal with my shopping so we ended up with the following:
- Mario Kart for his DS - I finally found a second hand copy for $40 at the local gaming store (after I had walked two larger shopping centres looking for one).
- a small backpack for our holiday and when we go on family bike rides - it was marked down for $16 to $12.
- one of those large "how to draw" folder/collections. There were on special at Big W for $14.95. My son loves drawing and I have realised that even in high school they still need to draw stuff on their assignments.
- some really cool black and white board shorts off the clearance rack at best & less for $5.
So all up I spent about $72 - He was quite thrilled with all his gifts and they were all things I know he will use :)
I made mini choc chunk muffins which he took to school last Thursday - much easier than a big cake.
On the morning of his actual birthday, I made two birthday cakes and some sausage rolls. We had lunch with my parents ( microwave butter cake and sausage rolls) and then dinner @ my ex's house (his Dad) - where we consumed a small part of cake number two - boiled chocolate cake with lashings of cream!
Enough of the calories and birthday - on top of all the Easter chocolate I am trying to inspire myself to exercise more by watching the biggest loser - the trouble is I sit on the couch every night and watch them doing exercise! D'oh!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Food Porn Meme

Katrina has tagged me for this one, which originally started with Rosanne.
Here are the really simple rules.
Answer each of the five questions.
Tag five bloggers you would like to pass the meme to.
Have them link back to you and to this post as the source meme.
You and they can take the graphic from here if they like.

1. What food do you consider the best “date” food? In other words, what meal or food item do you think is sexiest to eat in the company of someone you would like to look sexy around?
I can never pass up a good risotto, cooked by someone passionate about food like say...err Jamie Oliver?? After all he was the "naked" chef :P

2. What well-known person would you like to share a meal with—with or without clothing. (saying whether or not clothes are involved is optional).
Didn't I just answer this in question one?

3. What does your perfect breakfast-in-bed look like? (Food AND the details, please. Candles? Music? Flowers? Hot tub? Dancing girls?
One of those cute tray with legs, a single rose, oozy scrambled eggs on toast, milky freshly brewed coffee in a mug and a kiss from my gorgeous BF. Jammies on of course as there is hot food/liquids involved.

4. What do you consider the best application of whipped cream to be?
If it is homemade then definitely on a chocolate cake or on the side of good piece of cheesecake. Please don't give me the stuff in a can, that isn't whipped cream.
5. Oh-God-No, Biff, the yacht is sinking! You are sent to the galley to retrieve the food. What luxury food items do you snatch first? The champagne? The caviar? Smoked Salmon? Truffles? Chocolate? Or something else?
Water, dry biscuits, anything non-perishable - leave the fancy stuff to sink with the ship!
I tag the following folks, passing on Rosanne's own bit of circulating nuisance nonsense.
If you are dying to do this meme feel free to pick it up and run with it.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Has it really been that long?

Wow, when I finally logged in here this morning my blogger tells me that my last post was on 10th February 2008 - 6 weeks ago. So where have I been, what have I been doing...nothing special of note. Celebrated a few birthdays - mine, my dear friend Jo and my son T who turned 12 yesterday. I can still remember the day he was born. I worked full time for a week or two which really threw my life inot chaos! I also helped another friend say goodbye to a very special Lady in her life. She puts it way more eloquently than I ever
Apart from these things I have basically been living my life, doing things with my family and friends and remembering what is really important to me. Along the way I have still been trying to be frugal and mindful of what resources I am consuming.
I've still been reading all my favourite blogs, but I think I most likely need to update my blog roll a little...anyone want me to add them?
Thank you to those who noticed my absence and left me messages to ask me if I was okay. I appreciate that you all care.
I have some great new recipes to share and I'll try to do that in the next few weeks, unless my life gets all crazy again!
Hoping you all had a safe and Happy Easter. Take care of you all :)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Shoestring Sunday - Leftovers

Today we had a bbq lunch, as a belated celebration for my boyfriends birthday. After the bbq I had to decide what we were going to eat for dinner. Leftover from lunch I had 1/2 a garden salad and two pieces of marinated steak that had been barbequed.
I thought for a while and then decided I would make a thai beef salad with what I had on hand.

Thai Beef Salad

1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp powered ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs finely chopped mint

2 pieces cooked steak, sliced into thin strips
200g pkt grape tomatoes
1 continental cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally
1 capsicum, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, sliced inot thin rings
1 red onion, halved, cut into thin wedges
mixed salad leaves

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients.
Place the steak in a bowl and drizzle with half the dressing.
Combine the salad ingredients together and then add the meat.
Toss again and then divide inot bowls for serving, drizzle each with some of the reserved dressing.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Oriental Mince

Oriental Mince

This is my version of savory mince, with an asian twist on the sauce.

500g minced beef
1 onion, finely diced
2 tbs oil
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms)
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 beef or vegetable stock cube (I used 1 tsp vegeta)
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sugar

Brown mince and onion together, in half the oil. Remove and keep warm, add remaining oil, vegetables and cabbage and fry until cooked through/softened to your liking. Add mince back into pan. Stir to combine. Mixture will still be quite wet, if not add about 1/8 cup water. Make a well in the centre of the pan and add remaining ingredients, combining with pan juices. Then mix together ensuring that everything is coated in the sauce.
If the remaining sauce is too thin, add 1 tbs cornflour dissolved in some water and add this to thicken.
Serve over rice or noodle or by itself is nice too!

Easy Lemon Chicken

Easy Lemon Chicken

2 tbs oil
500g boneless chicken, sliced into strips
3-4 cups finely sliced vegetables (can also use a packet of frozen stir fry veggies)
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled
2 tbs dry sherry
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs chilli sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 cup warm water

Add one tablespoon of oil to wok and fry chicken pieces, until browned and cooked through.
Remove and keep warm. Add remaining oil to wok and add vegetables. Keep stiring until vegetables are cooked to your liking. Meanwhile combine all the remaining ingreients in a jug, stirring until well combined. When vegetables are ready, add chicken back into wok and pour in sauce. Keep stirring until sauce thickens and all ingredients are hot.
Serve by itself or with rice or noodles.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Since I have moved my budget from weekly to fortnight, I am trying to only do one large shop each fortnight. Now I have to menu plan for a fortnight and I have to admit it is a bit tougher than I first thought. I have written it "restaurant style" as was originally started by Lightening! :)

1. Tender portions of veal, lightly crumbed in our fresh chunky style bread crumbs. Served with a lean gluten free beef sausage. Served with a selection of seasonal vegetables. (Beef schnitzel & sausages & veggies)

2. Our pizza dough is lovingly prepared from scratch, topped with a simple tomato puree and then served with a choice of the following toppings - grilled chicken, pineapple, gourmet beef sausage, ham off the bone, marinate mushrooms. Topped with our special cheese blensd and individually baked on a stone.(Gourmet homemade pizzas)

3. A portion of a whole chicken, marinated and rubbed with our secrte spice blend. Then lovingly baked slowly, to leave the chicken moist and flaouvsome. Served with baby roast vegetable and zucchini & tomato bake.(Sticky Chicken)

4.Tender minced beef simmered gently in a tomato and vegetable based sauce and served with a mixture of wholemeal and wheat pasta.(Spaghetti Bolognaise)

5. Finger sized strips of chicken, lightly crumbed in fresh breadcrumbs and pan fried. Served with cheesy potatoes baked in a creamy sauce.(Chicken Schnitzel & Potato Bake)

6. Tender thight fillets thinly sliced and sauted with a selection of seasonal vegetables, served in light asian inspired lemon sauce (Easy Lemon Chicken) recipe below

7. Lightly salted beef, lovingly cooked with brown sugar and other seasonings. Served with a creamy mash of potato and pumpkin and lightly steamed broccoli and zucchini.(Corned Beef)

8. Finely minced beef, stir fried with our specail vegetable mixture simmered in a sticky asian style sauce. (Oriental Mince) recipe below

9. Homemade beef and vegetable patties, presented in a fresh bread roll with baby spinach, tomato, avocado, cheese and beetroot relish (Gourmet Beef burgers)

10. A season selection of fish, prawns and other seafood with a side of our specail spicy home style fries. (Fisherman's Basket)

11. Tender strips of beef, marinated in our chefs specail sauce and seved on skewers with a spicy peanut sauce and fluffy basmati rice. (Beef satays with peanut sauce)

12. Tasmanian salon fillets, lightly marinated in chilli, ginger and soy all served an a bed of seasonal vegetables (Salmon steaks with veggie stir fry)

13. It's your birthday so your choice of any dish the chef is able to make :) (birthday dinner for my boyfriend)

14. Organic shaped fluffy tortillas served with delicately pan fried chicken, garlic and zucchini. Presented with a platter of seasonal salad vegetables, for a wrap your own feast for four. (chicken strips, tortillas and salad)

That should keep me busy for a few days huh?
Only really have to top up on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as supplies for the birthday dinner.
I can feel another cheesecake recipe soon :)
I'll post the recipes separately to make them easier to find later :)
I apologise for any spelling mistakes, but google doesn't want to spell check for me anymore :(
I've also joined Menu Planning Monday over at I'm and Organising Junkie - follow the link and get some more great menu ideas! :)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Menu Planning and More!

Well, who would have believed that I had been on holidays all this week! I thought I would get heaps done and I did manage to achieve a few things, but not everything on the list in my head.
I did manage to fit in some exercise, a few swims at the beach, a couple of visits with my parents, helped a friend move house, visits from the electrician and the freezer seal guy and spend part of one day with my best friend (zoe's mum) for her birthday!
I also managed to lose 2.2kg :)
I don't feel so bad now I have listed all of that!

Tuesday I am back at work so I need to organise the following before then:
- Ironing school and work uniforms
- finish a scrapbook for a 40th I am attending tonight
- make sausage rolls for above party
- make biscuits/muffins for lunchboxes
- cook freeze up glut of veggies remaining from my shopping on Sunday (mainly zucchini, mushrooms & plums)

I did manage to menu plan and grocery shop, but since it is already 2.30pm and i really need to get the album finished I will blog tomorrow about it!
Hope you are all having a great weekend :)

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Shoestring Sunday

Well it is that time of week again, so in keeping with my frugal theme this morning I did my fruit & veg shopping at the Torrens Island Markets.

I spent a grand total of $15.20 and my best buy of the day was a 3kg box of Swiss brown mushrooms for $6 ($2kg, can't go past that).

I also sewed myself some of those net produce bags to transport some of the smaller items.

Some of the fruit and veg was a similar price to my local bulk fruit & veg but other items were cheaper. There were other bargains to be had, but not being in the mood to preserve food I restrained myself from buying one of the cheap boxes of tomatoes on offer.

So what did I end up with:

Apart from the 3kg box of mushrooms, zucchini (courgettes)for $1kg, capsicums (peppers) for $1.99kg, carrots for $0.80kg, a whole red cabbage for $1.50, nectarines $0.99kg, beans for $2.00kg, satsuma plums for $1.99kg, eggplants (aubergines) for $0.99kg.

If you want to shop at the markets, here is my frugal guide to getting a good deal:

- Know your prices at your local shops (are you really getting a bargain?)

- make sure you pick your items carefully (check the bottom of boxes if you are buying a whole box, sometimes the produce at the bottom is rotten)

- take your own shopping bags and a trolley if you have one

- get some friends together and form your own informal food co-op - shop in bulk and save even more (lots of Google links on how to do this!)

- arrive early and talk to the stallholders

-have fun!

Hope you are all having a great long weekend (for those in Oz)!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Lisa's List

I love visiting other websites and sometimes I stumble across some really cool stuff. I notice a few other bloggers share their cool links too :)
Thought I might share a few of my favourites each week:

Found this sticky chicken rub that might make it onto our menu for this week (you have to scroll down a bit as it is at the end of the post.) Even better that it can go in the slow cooker :))

Love this idea, not sure I will get time to make one, but this pencil roll is a great back-to-school project for all the sewers out there. (This one is made for crayons, but could be easily adapted for textas or pencils).

These yummy calzones are a nice variation on pizzas for dinner and a great way to use leftovers up. They can also be frozen and reheated for a quick meal later.

Also thought I might try this yummy recipe for a vegetarian pad thai, which looks very frugal :)

And last but not least I made this couscous salad last week with some leftovers form dinner the night before. It got good reviews.

Let me know what you think?

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Shoestring Sunday Reworked

It's been a while since I did a shoestring Sunday, but this week I finally have something important to write about.
Don't let your freezer get like this...

I'm loathe to admit that my freezer has been like this before and instead of getting the seal replaced then, I just defrosted it and started again...meaning to get it done at some point!
Right now I am enjoying 2 weeks annual leave so one of the jobs on my list was to defrost and get the seal replaced, BEFORE I turn it back on. I am also fortunate to have a friends fridge/freezer stored in my garage at the moment so I am using that space to store what was in my freezer. Tomorrow mornings job then is to find someone to replace it and at a reasonable price. Yes, it will cost me money to replace it, but at the same time it has been working very hard producing all that ice so in the long run it will save me money on my electricity bill and cut greenhouse gas emissions by replacing it.

Do you have something that you have procrastinated about that has cost you money?

As an added bonus has a great article about running an energy efficient freezer. Amy also has lots of other great articles on her site as well as some yummy recipes on her other blog The Aldi Queen.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

WARNING!!!! I take no responsibility for any calories gained from reading, making or eating this cheesecake! This ones for you Mark :P
And for the all the people who called me evil when I posted the honeycomb cheesecake recipe...this just confirms you were right :)


1 c. graham cracker crumbs (I used milk arrowroot biscuits)
1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. sugar
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. hot coffee

Cream cheese adds a rich texture to this delicious and unusual cheesecake.
Combine crumbs, brown sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter.
Press into bottom and halfway up sides of a 9 inch springform pan.
Beat peanut butter, sugar, cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter and vanilla in large bowl of electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Beat cream until soft peaks form.
Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture.
Spoon into crust.
Refrigerate 6 hours.
Melt chocolate with coffee in double boiler over gently simmering water.
Spread atop filling.
Refrigerate until firm.

N.B.I have never actually put the choc/coffee glaze onto the cheesecake as it seem rich enough already without it.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Three Gifts Challenge

Rhonda @ down to earth started this challenge last week and here is my contribution.
1. Always taking my bags with me to the supermarket (I also carry a small zip up bag in my handbag) - for those who forget their bags - PUT YOUR SHOPPING LIST IN THEM! That way if you get inside the supermarket you will have to go back for the list and the bags too :) If you leave them at home I can't help you with that one :)

2. Trying to buy items with the least amount of packaging, in recyclable packaging or buy in bulk where possible if it has to be in plastic.

3. Making myself some of the net produce bags and putting them with my grocery bags in the boot of my car (Immediately after I have unpacked them)

I'll also be continuing to try and use more public transport to work and riding my bike for errands. i haven't been doing this as much as I would like, but I have been trying to combine multiple errands when I am out and about :)

It's not too late to join up and spread the word - click the link and go join -oh and leave me a comment to let me know you have joined :)

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Beetroot relish

I can't remember who asked me over a week ago for the link to this recipe, but here it is again and also have reproduced the recipe for those who can't get the link to work.

Yummy Beetroot Relish
Chef: Leanne Arfuso
In a Pickle's Leanne Arfuso makes relishes and chutneys an artform.
Beetroot is easy to grow and in this relish, delicious to eat!

You need:
1 kg beetroot – raw, peeled and grated
750 ml white vinegar
Bring to the boil in a wide mouthed pan. Cover and simmer for 10 min.
1 kg cooking apples - peeled, cored and grated
500 g onions – chopped
5 garlic cloves - diced
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp Spanish paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
500 g brown sugar
Method:Bring mixture back to the boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Simmer uncovered 1 ½ hours or until relish has thickened.
Stir vigorously every 10-15 minutes, more often as the vinegar cooks down.
Bottle into warm clean, dry, sterilized jars.
Screw clean, sterilized lids into place while still hot.
Although bottles can be recycled, lids should always be new with every batch of pickles, chutney or relish.

This recipe makes about 4 jam sized jars of relish :)

Monday, 7 January 2008

Decluttered Dresser

As promised I have taken an after pic (now that I have found my camera).

My next mission is my scrapbooking cupboard & desk - have remembered to take before photos this time.

Will report on my progress later, off to tackle it some more and stop procrastinating!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Decluttering & Smiley Saturday

Weight loss is a form of decluttering...It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. After all in reality it didn't appear overnight so it won't disappear overnight either. Life would be so much simpler if we could lose weight as easily as we put it on, but that is not the case. It takes hard work, discipline, commitment and a great support network. Can I just say I have a fantastic group of family, friends and workmates, who are supporting me and some are joining me in my weight loss journey! One of my best friends & I are both following the Kate Morgan Plan, she has already lost quite a few kg so I am hoping to also do the same. I have been doing a little bit of exercise, but I have to say the excessively hot weather we are having right now has not really given me the enthusiasm to want to do too much.
In the mean time I have also been working on decluttering and cleaning up various parts of my house. Yesterday I totally cleaned my bathrooms (yes, I have two!) following mostly Rhonda's instructions for Green cleaning over at her blog Down to Earth. If you are not already a huge fan like I am, after one visit and reading her beautiful words you will be .
Yesterdays other mission was my dressing table/dresser top.
I started by taking everything off and giving it a good wipe over to remove allt he bust bunnies and everything else on it. I also changed the cover I have on it from a Thai woven purple and gold one with cute fringing to a white batternberg (sp?) lace one. Then I looked at all the items I had taken off and decided which ones I wanted to remain. The criteria was, is it something I either:
(a) use regularly
(b) love to look at or
(c) belongs with its friends who are on of the above.
My camera seems to have gone AWOL, but I will add a picture to this post of the finished product when I figure out where it is! Suffice to say it makes me smile each time I walk into my room, as does my semi-sparkling and decluttered bathroom. Hence I have linked to Lightening's Smiley Saturdays. Go here to see more!
Today list of things to do:
(a) declutter and re-organise my scrapbooking supplies
(b) make ice-cream using excess cream from Christmas
(c) make more beetroot relish - this is seriously good stuff if you haven't tried it you should! The recipe I used last time is here, but this time I am going to omit the cinnamon.
Okay enough blogging for today, off to have my breakfast and tackle the above list!
If anyone needs a bit of weight loss motivation I am happy to email support, just leave ma comment :)
Any other questions, thoughts etc...I love reading them :)
Take care of you.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Years Resolutions

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, will post about how mine all turned out with photos in a few days!
It seems like everyone else in blogland I too have been thinking and reflecting on 2007, as well as thinking ahead to 2008. Rather than make a resolution as such I tend to pick a word to remind me of my direction for the coming year. I think i originally got this idea form a scrapbooker I admire...possibly Heidi Swapp?
In 2007 my word was "ENOUGH"
in 2008 I am going with
To me it means:
- less petrol consumption (use public transport at least twice a fortnight, maybe more)
- less weight (I have a friend for us to keep each other motivated)
- less shopping
- less stuff (decluttering)
- less food (consume less, grow a little of my own starting with spring onions, herbs and salad leaves)
- less chocolate/cheese (two of my greatest weaknesses - not going to give them up, just limit the amounts I consume to being a "treat")

I'm sure other things will come to me throughout the year and I hope to blog at least twice a week to keep you informed of my progress on all these goals. My friend and I photographed each other in our bathers and no I definitely won't be posting that photo on here! Just one more tool to keep us motivated.
I value everyone's feedback and comments. So please feel free to comment.
What resolutions have you made for 2008?
Anyone else going on the weight loss path with me?
What would you like to see on my blog this year?