Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - No theme.... 'cept veges

As you all should know, this is my year of eating better.  I have been.... ummmm.... wavering a little in the heat! 

And my other writing projects have taken over my computer time (sorry)... And my house is being painted (does the work EVER end?)

But, here was my muffin tin:

1.  Beetroot umbrellas
2.  Corn on the Cob (with retro corn handles)
3.  Carrot sticks
4.  Cucumber sticks
5.  Hummus dip (with sinking man.....)
6.  Mini-salad (with cherry tomato plants.....)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Banana and Apple Pancakes

This morning I felt like banana pancakes.... but I got a bit carried away with the making.... and actually, these are better.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dried apple


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mash bananas, and mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and dried diced apple.
  2. Mix flour mixture into wet mixture.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat. Pour the batter onto the pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.
Next time I will use brown sugar instead of white. 

So, what's going on???

It's been busy around here in the last week.  Busy in a good way.

The garden is back in shape after the jaunt to New Caledonia.  I'm not sure why all the berries decided to stop growing while we were away, but methinks the sister who was meant to do the watering probably forgot.  The lettuce went to seed, the peas turned to straw, the berries stopped fruiting and all the roses needed trimming.

But, we are back on track.  The cucumbers are doing better than ever, we are about to be inundated with tomatoes, the radishes are almost done, the chili's are growing faster than I can harvest them (I think this would be a brilliant cash crop if we didn't eat them all on a yearly basis!).  Yesterday I planted more peas, lettuce and celery.

Grapes, growing nicely, looking forward to them ripening


And in the category of cooking.... the garden has been great.  I made fresh spag bol the other night using only lamb mince from a friends farm and things from the garden.  I stopped sort at making my own pasta, because being without a pasta machine means that I stubbornly make it by hand.... which is labourious and not so attractive afterwards. 

On the sweet and tasty front, I've been trying to create the perfect apricot ball.  After reading all my recipe books, which is no small feet, and checking out internet recipes, I tried the most popular one (which had condensed milk, cocunut, apricot and caster sugar.)  This was too sweet, and too coconutty for me.  I tried a version with malt biscuits broken in, but were still too sweet and cocnutty.  But, I think that I shall have the perfect apricot ball recipe by the end of the weekend.  I was going to upload a picture, but.... I kinda ate them all before photographing..... :D

With school back in 2 weeks, I have just a fortnight to get all sorted for the mad-morning rush!  So, after sorting out my bento cupboard, again, I went and bought a whole load of plastic containers for storing my cups, mini-cutters, picks, etc.  Tomorrow's task is to sort of the drawer.......... which is bulging at the seams.  And what happens to all the bento bands?  I seem to lose them.  But, I have a plan, which I will post out to all my readers once I have sorted out.

I do have a question for my readers...... I have LOADS of zucchini/courgettes.  We are now at the stage that we are sick of eating them.... what recipes or ideas do you have for using them?  I've been making lots of vegie fritters, grating them into dishes and generally trying to think of something fun to do.  What do you do with them?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Iskender for tea

I ordered the Easy-Lunchbox last year, and the set arrived while I was away.  I thought it was time that I gave them a whirl.

Last night I put some leftover rice in the large compartment.  With tabbouleh in the fridge, a Turkish iskender was totally on the menu.

While the falaffels were dry-frying, I harvested lettuce and cucumber, grated a carrot, and popped it all in the lunchboox with a little beetroot.  In the small containers, hummus and a little left-over natural yogurt.

When the falafels were done, dinner was ready.  And did I mention, I have tabbouleh and cooked falafels left-over for tomorrow.  I did say I was the master of the letover... :D

I was impressed with the depth of the compartments in the easy lunchbox, it held enough for my dinner, which was nice, as I still treat this as the largest meal of the day.  A little difficult to eat from cross-legged, but I could infact eat at a table.... (Being a Drama teacher often means I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor with my food.....)

Dahl toasted sandwiches

Well, I am the master of the left-over and a lazy cook.....

Yesterday's dahl become lunch for my husband at work (one that travels well and he does not complain about) and toasted sandwich fillings for me.  There is nothing greater than something that is warm, and takes less than a minute to prepare... :D

Muffin Tin Monday- Blue Fru Fondue

This morning is a wee fruit fondue (of sorts).

In the centre is low-fat, natural yogurt.
In the other muffin cups are diced orange, pear, watermelon and sliced kiwifruit and banana. 
The blue obviously comes from the picks, plate and cups.... :D

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Tabbouleh

I love tabbouleh.  But, I do tend to find that most recipes make too much of it for me to eat in 3 days... so I have adapted my standard tabbouleh to something more user-friendly, producing a more workable amount of the salad for myself and my lunches.  It also has a larger proportion of the fresh ingredients, and less wheat.  :D

Easy Tabbouleh

1/4 cup bulgar wheat
3/4 cup boiling water
juice of one lemon
Handful of fresh parsley
A few sprigs of mint
1 firm tomato

In the container you plan to story the tabbouleh in (I warned you this was easy, did I mention it is also the lazy version?) place the bulgar wheat and boiling water.  Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
Cut up mint and parsley to a reasonable size... I don't like it too fine, but go crazy if it is your style.
Dice the tomato.
Add into the container with the wheat.
Squeeze over the juice of the lemon.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you wish.
Refrigerate and use as desired.

If you make tabbouleh a lot, you will notice I have left out the olive oil and spring onions, as well as the step de-seeding the tomatoes etc.  This way I can have tabbouleh with very little effort, just 30 minutes of standing time (which today I used to make the dahl). 

Watch this space for tabbouleh in my food tomorrow.... :D

Red Lentil Dahl (Curry)

Well, there was a change of plan for dinner tonight.  Normally Mondays mean leftovers for him, and I have a muffin-tin.... but tonight, just 30 minutes before he was due home, I discovered that he did not have a lot of his lamb curry left in the fridge.  Never fear, for the easiest curry in the world came in to save the day.

On a quick side note, it may be worth mentioning that he is an Indian meat-lover, and I am a Kiwi vegetarian.... which often makes mealtimes interesting.

If I am putting on a full Indian meal, with a number of curries, this is always one on the menu.  Though it is not the prettiest dahl in the world, it is tasty, quick and cheap.

Usually I make it hotter, but tonight I worked it to be more lunch-friendly.  Curry is always SOOOOO much better the next day.

Here is the recipe:

1 Tb olive oil
1 medium to large onion (depending on how much your like onion....)
2 cloves garlic (or more if you prefer... or less for that matter)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp chilli-powder
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp black mustard seeds (these can be left out, but I like the flavour they give)
1 cup red lentils (brown and black work well too, but take longer to cook, and create a much darker curry)
2 cups water
2 vegetable stock cubes
1/2 tsp salt
Handful of chopped coriander (cilantro)

The cooking process is simple.

In a fairly large saucepan, heat the oil.  Dice your onion while this is heating, and throw it in the pot.
Crush and chop your garlic, throw that in as well.  Stir.  Make sure your saucepan is over a REALLY low heat, or things will burn to the bottom....
Add the 2 bay leaves, stir.
Measure and throw in the spices in order as above, stirring between each one.
When the onion is clear (or yellowy-clear from the turmeric), add 1 cup of water.
Add a cup of red lentils.  They do not need to be rinsed first, but other sorts will need the rinsing.
Add the second cup of water.  Crush the stock cubes into the pot.  You can use liquid stock (2 cups) instead, but I tend to have stock cubes on hand.
Add the salt.
Keep stirring occasionally, making sure the lentils don't stick to the bottom.
The whole thing should be cooked in 20 minutes.

When the lentils are soft, remove the bay leaves, and add the chopped coriander.

Serve with rice.

As a main, this will serve 4.  I tend to use half for dinner for 2, putting the rest in the fridge for lunch on the next day.  He likes to take it to work with rice.  I like to have mine as a toasted sandwich filling....

When making a full Indian meal, I tend to use this along with a lamb curry, and a chicken curry, with sides of Bombay potatoes, a really lovely cucumber dish, and a selection of breads (naan and roti).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Bento discovery

During my recent jaunt to Auckland, I stumbled upon a magnificent store on Queen Street.  The $3 Japan store had all I could dream of.... and more.  I was disappointed with myself for finding it so late in the evening, so my purchases had to be made at speed, before my bus arrived, but I felt good about my haul.  I managed to find a terrific headband, hair ties, origami paper, pens, a book, and then my bento goodies.

I managed to get a red 2 tier bento, a one layer yellow bento to match a 2 tier one I have, 4 bear silicon cups, and a set of picks. 

On returning home, I discovered that the store has a website.  Though it seems to be limited at present, I hope they get the bento supplies uploaded for purchase before too long.

$3 Japan store website

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday ... errr.... I mean Thursday

I blame jet-lag... or New Years Idiocy.... or something.  But here is my really last minute, feeble effort for the week.

1.  Fresh peas in pods from the garden
2.  Mini crackers with swiss cheese feet
3.  Orange segments
4.  Carrot sticks
5.  Hard boiled, free range egg
6.  Cucumber, also from the garden

I call this "Stuff I had on hand" and the picks were ones I bought the other day in Auckland, so I wanted to use them. 

Nouvelle-Calédonie.... bon appétit

Wow!  After a wonderful trip to New Caledonia, I am inspired to eat!

Sort of.

There were a couple of things I discovered early on in my journey. 
  1. I can read French reasonably well... better than I had even imagined possible.
  2. And the worst part, the French don't really do much for vegetarians.
This second realisation meant that I was put into a smaller category of people who remove ham from bagettes, or people who eat things covered in chocolate.

I love chocolate.

I did however discover some wonderful French dainty desserts.  Yummo.

Raspberry and Ginger tartlet

Coffee filled almond topped donughty thing

One thing I did learn was portion sizes.  French portions are TINY!  Bagettes were huge, but sparing on things like cheese.  The sweets were so rich, eating more than one was a challenge in itself.  But I am so glad to be home, where I don't have to point and gesture, or try to add large numbers in my head (Pacific Francs are crazy to work with, a bagette was like 350 Francs, a can of "Solo" was 280 Francs, and my ability to count aloud in French is to 20.......)

So, getting back on track, thank you Nouvelle Calédonie for a magnificent time.

Wordless Wednesday - Nouvelle Calédonie

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Resolutions

Happy 2011 bloggers!

This year should be fantastic, but don't they all sound brilliant at the start of the year.

After a totally busy November writing, and December traveling, it is so time to get my gastronomical life back on track.  So here are my New Years Resolutions for food:
  1. Cook one new recipe a week.
  2. Eat better (more fresh food and less junk)
  3. Watch my portion sizes
As well as this, I do hope to keep this blog updated more frequently than in the last 2 months!