Sunday, October 31, 2010

Apple fritters on a Sunday Morning

Well.... I was going to make waffles.... but after all the cleaning from making naan bread last night, it was certainly time for something that used less bowls and cups and measuring spoons.  So back to the quest to make the best apple fritters in the world.

Mum used to make great apple fritters back-in-the-day, but they were the kind that was filled with butter, sugar and very little apple!






The picture makes them seem more golden than they were.  Oh well.

Basically thus....

1 apple - cut into small cubes
1 egg
1t baking powder
1T honey
1/2 c flour
Milk- dash thereof to turn into a batter.

Basically mix into a bowl from the top of the list down.
Fry in a dry non-stick pan
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

Success rating?  Well...... they were ok.  Next time I think I will use yogurt instead of the milk, for a creamier fritter.  Other than that, pretty darn tasty.  Finally I have the apple to the size and shape that cooks well in a short time.  Just have to sort out a way of making them even tastier..... :D

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday... lunch in a hurry

With music lessons to get to, and reports to be dropped into school, lunch had to be a rush.... shame I left my sewing machine at school..... I wanted to try something this afternoon with it.






Divided platter, with:
1.  Pear, nectarine and strawberry slices (Giant strawberry actually!)
2.  Gingernuts - chocolate and regular for comparison.  Prefer the regular.
3.  Fruit of the Forest yogurt with M&M's... must get rid of them!  Grrrrrr.
4.  Bagette rings with cheese and Indian Chutney.

Thursday..... ARGH!

The day of the school Cultural Awards evening... so it was going to be a MAD day setting up the auditorium, checking certificates, polishing trophies etc.... sigh.






This was designed to be snacked on at the big table where we were organising the certificates....

Bottom layer.... nectarine, pears and mini M&M's.  In theory, a good idea.  However, the M&M's melted.......... and the blue ones stained all my fruit...... I am not a fan of the mini M&M's anymore.  I shall go back to the peanut ones that don't seem to run like that......

And in the top layer, cowboy eggy with his herd of almonds, in the pizza corral...... yes.... I was ready for a show-down! 

(The awards went off reasonably well...... but I misplaced my iPhone.... hence the lateness of the current blog entries......... finally found the phone in the sound booth.... weird.)

Wednesday.... food in a box....


A particularly wonderful lunch, I may add.  Noms all round.  In the green tupperware container- 2 vegie wraps, an apricot yogurt tub.  In the bottom bento layer, waffles with peanut butter and cashew pieces with a run of grapes (which in retrospect should have little legs to become ants or something... time for ones thinking cap)..... and in the top layer, pear and nectarine slices.   All eaten while delivering a tutorial.  :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Easy like Tuesday morning?

I wish!  Yesterday was a public holiday here in good ol' New Zealand.... so the day was a total relax-fest.... not.  With gardens to overhaul and school reports to write, there was not a lot of time for chillaxing in the sun.

And on Tuesday morning.... well.... it's rubbish day, so out goes the wheely bin, and I start morning duty early.  Oh, and did I mention reports are due?

So this was lunch.... I was impressed anyway.






Here in my gorgeous wee pink strawberry bento we have.... pizza bites on a bed of lettuce (vegetarian), an assortment of grapes, almonds and mini-toffee pops for snacking on during lunchtime tutorial sessions... and some ambrosia on the side.  All pretty in pink.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review #2: "School Day Lunches"

Ah, here was a book that held great possibilities....



However... after reading through the beginning part about making sure foods would stay safe to eat, and some good advice about keeping food cool, then the recipes began.  After reading many recipes with the phrase, "looks like cake, tastes like pizza" or "looks like soup, tastes like pizza".... or the dreaded "tex-mex flavour".  I am a keen Tex-Mex fan, but the recipes left out all of the spices that would normally flavour the dishes, leaving them bland.

Another of my concerns was that the recipes were so similar, with a lot of things wrapped in cheese or bread, and using a lot of pastry.  There was also plenty of ingredients that I thought were just unnecessarily included.


This was the ranch style avocado dip with wedges.  This was one of the few vegetarian recipes in the book (along with jelly that had zucchinis in it).  However, the avocado dip could easily have been made with just the avocado and lemon juice- the sour cream and ranch dressing were totally surplus.

So, my opinion:
Information:  2/5 points
Recipes: 1/5 points
Originality: 1/5 points
Pictures: 2/5 points
Overall: 2/5 points

8/25.  Maybe a little harsh, but the information was average, the were no recipes that were original and still appealing... the pictures were accurate, but not overly appetizing.  I just felt let down really, as the book had too many recipes that did not travel well, or were uninspiring at the least.

Muffin Tin Monday - Halloween

Ooooo... spooky.  Now, I have never really been a Halloween kinda gal.... so I had to google Halloween to find out more about it.  And in the end, this is what I settled on.


At the top:
1.  Caramel sauce and apple slices
2.  Dragon toenails (okay, so they were potato wedges)
3.  Toxic ooze complete with Zombie.  (Avocado dip and skeleton pick)

On the bottom:
1.  Wicked Witch Waffles with yogurt and bats (That was totally the name of the recipe... sans bats)
2.  Evil ghost eggs
3.  Giant insect lavae (grapes......)

Waffles... I made waffles!

So, I got a waffle maker, and I finally got up the courage to make them.  As the whole concept of separating eggs terrifies me, I kept looking for a recipe that had nothing to do with it.

And then I was given the greatest cookbook ever.........

 The Wizard of Oz Cookbook.....
 The waffles have yogurt and honey.... and no butter.
 Eventually I mastered them....
And they were tasty with no toppings.  All the yogurt made them all light, and the honey made them sweet and tasty.  Yum.

Waffles

A Friday lunch

This was a revelation... I actually managed to make lunch on a Friday!  Whoopee!


In the top bento are slices of Turkish bread with baked beans and cheese with spring onions.  In the middle, 70's cocktail skewers with mini toffee pops and 2 marshmellow ducks.  In the bottom, a boiled egg nomming his way through cucumber and carrot sticks to get to the hummus on the other side.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bento for Beginners

And yes, I am now a free-lance writer.  Will this be the cash-cow that brings in the millions?  Probably not, but what I am hoping for is a little paypal "mad-money" to buy more random bento's!

So I have now published 2 articles on suite101.  The first was on my experiences cruising on the Pacific Sun.  Here is my effort about bento-ing for beginners.

Bento for Beginners

Please follow the link and check out the article.  I would love your feedback and guidance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And now for something sorta different

Well, in the mail came a new bento!  I have an obsession, I KNOW!  Here is todays lunch.  THe top layer has a baked, stuffed potato, handful of grapes and some crackers with cheese cut into little flowers.

The bottom layer has capsicum hummus with cucumber and carrot sticks and a boiled egg (with dinosaur/eggshell set).....
And it was put in the new baggie..... that is my ol' drink bottle, that is AWESOME.  It cleans easy as, and the water stays cool.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Zen Whales....

Well.........  I tried doing the whole cucumber eye thing.....

These were my Zen-like-whales, being all yin yan in my lunch.... made of whole grain bread, with rocket, cucumber, hummus and cheese (which is on the top there).  And the bottom layer were orange slices and kiwifruit flowers.  The whales were made with the critters Lunch Punch thingy.  I was pleased to see that 2 whole sandwiches (4 slices of bread) could be made into a salad sandwich and arranged to fit in the ol' bento.  Choice.  Simplified for busy mornings.

I now have a set of crayons cooling in the kitchen.... and will drop some off for my niece in the morning.  I think her mother may not appreciate me encouraging her to eat crayons...... but it is not the worst thing I've done!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - No theme, just "leftovers"





No theme- just leftovers in the fridge....

Here we have some pebbles, cucumber slices, fettucine, apple slices, almonds and cheese and crackers.  Simple and nom.

It's a Cat and Mouse game....

Well... today I tried making it all a little more awesome....


The top layer was a simple green salad with cat shaped cucumber slices....

While the mice hid on the bottom layer with some smaller food to "nibble on"......

And what is lunch without a mid-morning snack of some sworded cheese cubes, with grapes and pineapple.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review #1: "The Lunch Box"

Ah, I started with a really basic lunchbox recipe book..... and now it has a total of 8 post-it flags attached to it.  This is "The Lunch Box" by Glenda Gourley.  This was published here in New Zealand by the National Heart Foundation in 1991.


I bought this secondhand from trademe.co.nz ..... for like $3.... so I felt like it was never going to let me down.  Here are some of the things I made from the book today:

First I made "Banana Tree Stumps".... these are basically peanut butter and honey around a piece of banana, then rolled in chopped nuts.  They were totally tastey... but... there was not a lot of guidance about HOW to do this.  I discovered that those corn-handles worked well, and a light covering of the peanut buttery stuff was the least messy method.... and then sprinkling the nuts on top.  I think if I was going to put them in a bento, I would make them and freeze them overnight before taking to work.  Interestingly, banana slices out of the skin stay yellow in the freezer.


These were called "Three blind mice".... I did not put 3 on a half slice of toast, but made 1/4 slice pieces that would fit in my lunchbox.  The mushroom ones above looked right, while the pineapple slices looked like a piece of pineapple under a layer of cheese..... And in the picture in the book, well, the chives were fresh and not all toasted from the oven like mine are.  Otherwise the finished product matched the picture.

And then I made this......
But I will mention that you will see the other potato later this week........

So to allocate the scores:
Information:  4/5 points
Recipes: 3/5 points
Originality: 3/5 points
Pictures: 4/5 points
Overall: 4/5 points

This gives it 18/25 points, so not bad.  I think that a second edition would be nice, as a lot of the information could use overhaulling around breads and stuff.  The recipes are easy to do, though not all the instructions are there... there are plenty of good ideas for lunch, and even lists of ingredients that work well together for sandwiches.  No recipe has really expensive or rare ingredients, and nothing seems to take too long to prepare.  There are handy boxes of tips and guidelines included.  There is a section on the food pyramid, and whole pages on what to watch out for in store-bought snacks.

Basically, I was impressed.  The mice will be in my bento tomorrow..... :D

The Great Lunch-box Cookbook Review

Well......  Those of you who know me well, know my obsession with cookbooks..... sadly, the obsession does not extend towards being a good cook..... or even trying all the recipes.... but there is nothing better than curling up on the sofa (in winter) or in the hammock (in summer) and reading a good cookbook.  Nigella Lawson, I could read her recipes for hours.... failed at making a few.

Those people will also know of my insane knack of making fun activities more than a little OTT ("If something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing").... I will be armed with post-its..... flaggies.... pens and pencils.... and my iphone for notes.

So here is my plan.  I am going to read the cookbooks I have that are designed for lunches..... then slowly add in some of the others as I feel the need..... and I will be looking specifically at the following things.  I want to look at the information given, the simplicity of the instructions, the pictures, and how well the recipes hold up over the workday.

There will be a ranking system with points.... :D

So, marks will be allocated as follows:
General information about foods/lunches etc:  5 points
Ease of understanding and cooking recipes: 5 points
Originality: 5 points
Pictures, appeal and accuracy: 5 points
Overall gut feeling: 5 points

Why have I broken the points down like this?  Well..... I want information.... because the more I read about food, the less likely I am to eat takeaways..... the longer between recipe book readings, the shorter the gap between drive throughs.  I want to be able to understand and cook the food.  My skills are low-average........ and I tend to get sidetracked easily.  I'm not concerned about the ingredients, because I am unlikely to make something that has overly expensive ingredients or out-of-season ones.... because that is just the way I roll.

Originality..... well.... I want new ideas so that I don't resort to a bar, or some fries, or something equally bad.  The pictures are what makes me want to cook something, and when it all turns out to look NOTHING like it, I get grrrrrrrrr about it.  And the overall gut feeling gives me a chance to vent about whether all the recipes are good, cost of the book, etc, and should balance out the older books in comparison to the shiny new ones. :D

Each review will be accompanied by a recipe from the book made and photographed.  (This is the bit that makes me do the cooking).

And at the end (whenever that is), I shall declare a winner.  For all that means.  :D

ARGH!!!!! Where did the week go????

Well.... I notice that Wordless Wednesday was the last post I was able to get set with......... WHOA!  It's now Sunday morning.....

Since Wednesday we did 5 performances of "The Wizard of Oz" and that is basically it...... I have been baking for the cast.... painting faces..... washing costumes..... yelling at people..... generally throwing my weight around.  I have no clue what I have eaten.  There is a huge advantage of the ol' Bento blog.... having some idea of what I ate.

I do know that part way through I made lentil wraps (yum as)..... basically a tortilla with cucumber, tomato, lettuce... whatever other vegies were in the fridge, and leftover lentils from tea just piled in there.  I thought they might be a bit soggy, but actually, they held together and tasted great.

And I made a great big slab of ginger bread, so lunch included pieces of gingerbread.....

But the rest is a blur.....

Will post later..... life again on track.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A flap and a hassle

Well... with today being a total flap and hassle and stress-fest- I have decided to burn the candle well and truly to get a less busy start to the day.

I have now done my first EVER made-the-night-before bento.... and made lentils and fishcakes for my husband's lunch tomorrow.  Going like the clappers..... even made a gingerbread cake for my cast... though in my hast to get it out of the tin, have broken it.... but the BEST thing about teenagers- they EAT anything!.. ....

So here is tomorrows lunch- stay tuned to see if it lives.... :D


It's the hamburger bento again.... salad on the bottom layer.  Boring as.  Top layer has flamingo sticks of cheese, pineapple and grapes (my salute to Grandma's luncheons).... kiwi fruit slices, a thingy of almonds and a marshmellow with apprehensive face drawn on.  All the picks are birds, and the salad dressing is in a bird bottle---- my salute to flapping!  It had me smiling anyway. 

:D

The crepes make a comeback

Today was the first performance of "The Wizard of Oz" (damn, did EVERYONE have to pick this year to re-do Oz.....) but anyway- headed off to school in a rush.... but I managed this.


The bottom bit has orange segments, the top has a basic salad of avocado, grapes, rocket, and cucumber, with honey mustard in the piggy.

Hidden in behind in the snoopy bento are 3 crepes, rolled and cut with raspberry jam and cream cheese centres, and a piece of chocolate cake.  I ended up sharing my crepes.


The best part- the whole lunch fitted in the baggie! 

And btw.... hello and welcome mommyof2girls. :D

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Pumpkins

Well, I have been looking forward to this all week.... thinking... planning... good times.  The best part is knowing what to have for dinner on Monday night!  Yus.


From the top:

Pumpkin and kumara hummus with carrot sticks.
Pumpkin shaped banana cake (I cut this out free-hand with my knife.... then iced etc)
Pumpkin and sweet chili soup with sour cream, cheese and parsley
Pumpkin coloured m&m's (they were the peanut ones...... so that is slightly better..... :D)
Pumpkin seed and paprika mini-bagel with tomato, lettuce and avocado (I had 2 more on the side also)
Pumpkin seeds.

And it was all nom nom nom. :D

Bagel Bento

This morning was a total rush..... crazy.... but I got myself out the door and lunch made and to work etc.  Yay.  Here was my bagel bento....


The bottom layer as kiwifruit slices, seedless grapes and a piece of banana cake.  The top layer has cheese and carrot sticks with 2 mini bagels- both with avocado, lettuce, tomato and mayonaise.  All eaten during dress rehearsal.  Yay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rainy day lunch

Well.... it's back to school/work tomorrow.  The weekend is never long enough.... or perhaps it is, but I end up doing things I feel like, rather than the things that need doing.

As we replaced the panini press recently, and the weather is cooler than it has been... Toasties were again in order.

The husband was less than impressed with his one (not toasted sandwiches again.... ) whereas mine was perfect to snack on while I typed. :D

In the first bit are seedless grapes and orange segments, centre has baked bean toasties on whole grain bread, and the last segment has cucumber slices and carrot sticks with hummus.

Avoidance of things that should be done...

Well.... I should be painting the spare room.... but I lack enthusiasm for the next coat.  Sigh.  Will do that tomorrow after work. 

So I wanted pancakes for breakfast, but am out of maple syrup (how do I only remember these things when I am NOT in the supermarket....).... I do however have ample lemons growing on the tree outside.  So I made crepes!


Not the prettiest crepes ever made- but they have loads of fresh lemon juice and only a teaspoon of sugar... so I was kinda impressed with myself there.  And.... I have extra crepes for bento's later on.  :D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mini-Bagels.... nom nom nom.

Well, Bagels are stupidly expensive, but I loves them so..... when I have time (or more like when I have LOADS to do but am avoiding it all) I make my own.  Here is my recipe for mini-bagels- adapted from a cookbook I have, so that the bagels can fit in a bento.

Mini-bagels

Ingredients:
- 2t sugar
- 1 1/2 c warm water
- 3t active yeast (not the baking kind)
- 4c flour
- 1t salt

- 1 egg and water for the glaze

- 3/4 cup sugar and 2 jug-fulls of boiling water for dunking the bagels in


Add the sugar and the yeast to the water, and cover with cling wrap.  I do this to keep nasties out (like beagle fur) and all the warmth in.  Let it get all fluffy.... and frothy.  This will double the liquidy stuff in size- and then some- so make sure to use a large container!


See......  I like to use a 1 litre jug because it makes the pouring easier in the next bit.



In another bowl, sift the flour and salt.  Add the frothy yeasty liquid.  Kneed into a dough and make a large ball.

This is when today I decided to make 3 types.  I left just over half as plain, about a 1/3rd as cinnamon and currents, and the last wee bit as pumpkin seed and paprika.  Basically I just made a ball, flattened it a bit, sprinkled the ingredients on top of the flattened ball.... and kneeded them all in.


There's the big wad of plain, medium wad of cinnamon and small wad of pumpkin seed.  Let the dough sit and double in size.  I usually just do some dishes at this point....

When bigger, start boiling the jug and get a large pot ready to boil water on the stove.  Throw the 3/4 cup of sugar in the pot, and boiled water to speed things up.... have the pot blasting away.


Roll the bagels into balls... and place on a rack.  They will keep expanding somewhat, but it saves time doing it this way.  I tend to leave the hole out of the bagel as the hole is just annoying!  I always end up covered in fillings that have escaped.


Drop the bagels with a slotted spoon into the boiling water for like 30 seconds, rolling them over every 10 or so seconds.  Please ignore my shocking temporary stock pot.... my sister borrowed my lovely one, and somehow managed to break the handles off of it.... so this budget model that burns with anything thicker than water is just tying me over until I find a nice one I like.  Take the bagels out after 30 or so seconds and place on the cooling rack.


Glaze the bagels with an egg wash (whisked water and egg) and give the left over egg-wash to the eagerly awaiting beagles.


Throw them on a baking tray (I use baking paper because I don't like the sticking or the clean-up) and bake for like 20ish minutes at 200 degrees C..... or until they are golden brown.  I don't like an over cooked bagel as I will toast them before eating anyway.


Voila!  Mini bagels ready to go.... or maxi bagels... whatever size you like really.  I like them to be different sizes, so that they look homemade.... and then I can brag about my kitchen exploits... :D

Lunch with friends....

Well, not friends as you would call them, but they are good friends of mine- cheese toasties!


Well, with my best friends baked-bean and cheese toasties in the corner (with faces attached) are the nibbles I am eating as I type.... cucumber slices and cracked pepper hummus.  Nom nom nom.  Just what was required to chase the rain away.

Breakfast on a rainy day

Well, after a blissful week of sunshine and warm weather, we have another rainy, cold, windy day.  Sigh.

So here is breakfast:






Here we have wholemeal porridge with a grape and bananino face to cheer up my morning. :D

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dinner without fanfare

Well, busy is an understatement around here.  With "The Wizard of Oz" in performance next week, it's all costumes and rehearsals and props and panicing around here!

So this was dinner. 


Here we have 3 portions.  One.  Cucumber slices and celery sticks with falafel.  Two.  Leftover vegetarian spaghetti bolognase.  Three.  Kiwifruit and bananino slices.

The Spag Bol is my specialty.  I am a vegetarian (and have been for 14 years now)... the bolognase is simple and easy to make and high in iron- which I find essential.....

I'll share my secret.... shhhhh.

Vegetarian Bolognase Sauce
1.  1 tin baked beans
2.  1 tin chili beans or 1 cup of red kidney beans
3.  5 tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes off season)
4.  Lashings of basil, oregano etc to taste
5.  1 onion

Dice onion, and saute in a saucepan until clear.  Add all the other ingredients..... and salt and pepper of course!  Boil gently.  Blitz with a stick blender until a runny, but kinda chunky consistency.  Serve with spaghetti and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

It is such a joke of a recipe that I should not brag about it.... but I do.... it is tastey, easy to make and reheats nicely.  I use the same sauce when I make lasagna... but that is another story. :D

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Divided dinner...

Well, after the fun of Muffin Tin Monday, my tiredness was no match for my desire to have a pretty dinner......  Bento's just seem silly for tea, so I am going with the idea of a divided dinner.... in the vain hope that I will eat healthier and eat less.

Here is the first divided dinner ever....


This is my "salute to stuff growing in the garden"...  The large divided area is an all green salad with mixed greens, avocado, lashings of parsley, cucumber, spring onions and drizzled in honey mustard dressing.

On the side are some carrot and cheese sticks, and kiwifruit flowers.  I made little butterfly picks from toothpicks and stickers, which help with my garden theme..... but next time I think I will use larger stickers. :D

Monday, October 4, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday- Circus!

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth



Now, when I first figured out that Muffin Tin Monday could be joined in on, I was keen.  Then I saw the topic and was totally excited!  Tomorrow my students and I are performing our Circus tricks for primary students.... and teaching them the skills as well.  :D

Here is my first ever Muffin Tin Monday:


And from the top:
Top left:  Cheese cut and coloured into big-top shapes!
Top centre:  Cranberries (red clown noses)
Top right:  Strongman weights (carrots on toothpicks) on a bed of hummus
Bottom left:  Banana cupcake topped with a lion head
Bottom centre:  3 rings of 3 rings!  (I was giggling over this one... 3 ring circus..... ha ha ha)
Bottom right:  Elephant bread.

I made little sandwiches with the elephants, egg, cucumber and cheese..... used the crackers in the dip... ate the carrots with the picks... and finished off with the cake and cranberries. :D

Rehearsal snack lunch

Today we are one week from performance!  ARGGGHHH!!!!!

So lunch was all stuff I could eat whilst frantically directing and complaining about stuff... :D






Here we have on the bottom layer 2 sliced kiwifruit (easily eaten with the fork), top layer almonds, cheese sticks and a banino (little tiny bananas I found at the supermarket and was stoked about.  One square meal bite on the side.  The cast thought it was a cute lunch.... :D