What We Ate ~ Week 19 ~ 2012

My husband has had to go away for work for 10 days !  Sunday night we took the kids to the beach to get fish and chips as a bit of a going away family treat.   It was dark by the time we arrived and though there was light on the playground, it was very dim on the picnic blanket ... it was lovely, but I didn't attempt a photo !

Buffalo Boneless Chicken with Roast Potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin, Onion and Garlic 

And I made whole wheat garlic bread sticks. I cheated though, I used my bread maker to make the dough and then just rolled them out, let them rise and baked them. Easy. And they were yummy !

Two Minute Noodles
Some days a Mama just can't cook a proper dinner !
(Did I mention my husband is out of town ?!)

Subway Sandwiches 
Sometimes it happens two days in a row ... 
and so we go out !


Saturday was the hardest day without Rory here.  During the week we are busy with school, work, sports, music lessons, etc ... But Saturdays, we are used to spending the whole day together.   I was feeling a bit like we all needed something FUN on Saturday afternoon so we rugged up (it's cooling off here in Sunny Queensland) and headed out to the sushi go round !  We had a lovely dinner, just the three of us.  We followed our sushi with big hot chocolates from the coffee shop across the bridge from the sushi shop ... to warm us up !

I'm planning a menu for this coming week ... need to be a bit more disciplined or our savings from the freezer pantry challenge will be $0 !!  Didn't do too bad this week though ...  (even with our eating out)

What I had to buy this week: 
(and how much I spent)

Butter, Organic, 250g x2 ... $8.98
Eggs, Barn Laid 12pk ... $4.00
Feta, 600g bucket ... $11.99
Chips, Salt and Vinegar, 175g ... $2.99
Chips, Red Rock Deli Sea Salt, 185g ... $3.48
M n M's, Coconut, 200g ... $3.89
Salami, 18 Slices ... $4.75
Cheese, Tasty, 500g ... $3.99
Bread Rolls, 6 ... $1.35 (ON SALE !!)
Egg Nog, 600ml ... $2.69

SUBWAY sandwiches ... $20 something
Total .... $48.11 (+ subway)

  $350 weekly budget
- $68.11 total spent this week

$281.89 saved this week !

Our pay week goes from Friday to Friday so the Sushi will come out of next weeks budget ...

Eating From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge Begins

Today I start the Eating From The Pantry & Freezer challenge ....  I'm pretty excited to be taking part in this.  I did take an inventory of EVERYTHING in my fridge, freezer, & pantry.  I was going to write it all out and share it with you but that was going to take a LOOOOOONG time and I decided I'd rather spend the rest of my day off finishing my book ... it was so great ... I'd recommend it to EVERYONE !  Which book ?  Read my review to find out !

But back to the challenge ... 

Here's how I've decided to do it.  Instead of telling you what I do have, I'll tell you, in my regular weekly WHAT WE ATE posts what I prepared for that week.  I will tell you, for each meal, what I had to buy and give you a total of what I spent.  I mentioned in my original post telling you about this challenge that our grocery budget is $350 a week.  I nearly died when I read in Keeper of the Home's post that she spends $450 a month !!  I always forget how much more expensive food is here in Australia !!  But, it is what it is and my goal (even though Stephanie who is hosting the challenge says we shouldn't make this our goal) is to spend as little as possible for the next four weeks.  

I have a fair bit of meat in the freezer, I have a little bit of fish, I have flours and sugars and rices and pastas.  I have spices coming out my ears.  I have a garden full of herbs.  I have a few cans of beans and tomatoes.  I have one loaf of bread in the freezer and then I'll start making my own.

Alrighty then, here we go .....

Poppy Seed Muffins

I modified these today. I've decreased the amount of sugar necessary and I've substituted whole wheat for the majority of the white flour. Next time, I'll try even less sugar until I can use as little sugar as possible and still be happy with the muffins. On a side note, I forgot to put the eggs in today and these muffins were still fine. I'll put the eggs in next time and then decide if they are even necessary.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

1 and 1/2 cups canola oil
3 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
1 cup white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups milk
2.5 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract

Mix all ingredients 'til lumps of flour are gone. Pour into muffin tins. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. I always bake about 10 minutes, then check them every 5 minutes after that til they are done. (when a toothpick inserted into the middle of them comes out clean !)

These are so amazing ! Love them !!! Perfect for breakfast ! Perfect to go in lunchboxes ! Perfect for an afternoon snack after school ! Perfect for dessert after dinner ! The options are endless !!

Makes 24 muffins.

What We Ate ~ Week 18 ~ 2012

Spinach and Feta Pull Apart Bread 

2 Minute Noodles


Thai Chicken Soup

This is a soup that everyone needs to try at least once in their life !  Of course, once you've tried it, you'll want it again and again !

When I originally posted the recipe, I didn't do it with measurements or anything ... In fact, here is what I said "Ok ... for those of you who like exact measurements, this recipe is not for you. Actually, I am a person who likes exact measurements but I've made this a number of times now from these instructions my sister gave me and I haven't messed it up yet !!"

But last night I made it again and I wrote down measurement so that you could have them and feel a bit more confident about trying to make this.  I also took photos of each component so you can see what you are aiming to make ! 

I cooked for four of us last night.  Two adults and two kids who love this soup and eat as much as the adults.  We each had two bowls.  There were no leftovers.  (except of the stock, lime juice and spring onions!)

Here's what you need:

8 Cups Chicken Stock or Chicken Stock Cubes (Stock = Boullion)
5 Pork Ribs or Pork Stock Cubes
6 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons + 1/4 cup Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce
2 Chicken Breasts
3 Limes
Thai peppers or 2 Teaspoons Chilli Garlic Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sugar
4 Cups Rice (I use sushi rice but you can use what you like)
Fresh Cilantro (Aussies - Coriander)
Green Onions (Aussies - Shallots or Spring Onions)
2 Heads of Garlic (more or less depending on you !)
8 Tablespoons Olive Oil

So, I usually start with the stock because it needs to simmer for a while !

I use 8 cups of already made chicken stock (in the box from the supermarket), although last night I didn't have any and just used water and stock cubes and it was great.  Add 6 more cups of water and a couple of chicken stock cubes and the pork ribs (or pork stock cubes if you can get them, I can't.)Add 1/4 cup Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce and 2 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce.   Boil for at least an hour.  Although, if you are using the pork stock cubes, you probably wouldn't need to boil it for that long ...

What is this Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce ?? Don't know exactly but here's what the bottle looks like. When we were in Colorado, Ellie used one called Gold Label ... I found it in a little Asian shop here. Ellie says it's Thai or Vietnamese. I'll give you the ingredients. That's how I made sure I had the right thing .. It's soy bean sauce, water, sugar salt and food enhancer ...

The chicken. Cut the breasts into small pieces. Ellie says bite sized but I think she did them a bit smaller than bite sized. I guess it's your preference. You can see what size I do mine in the picture above.

Marinate the chicken in 3 Tablespoons Golden Mountain, I usually marinate while I'm getting a few other things ready and then fry the chicken towards the end.  Just with a bit of oil in a fry pan ... 

I put my rice in the rice cooker and forget about it. If you are cooking it another way, you may want to wait til later to cook it so that it is still warm when you eat.

For the funky lime sauce. In a bowl add the juice of 3 limes and a bit of Golden Mountain (oops, I forgot to add this last night ... I'd say add about a teaspoon), 4 Tablespoons Fish Sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4 Tablespoons water and some chopped up Thai Peppers. I can't get those so I use 2 teaspoons chili/garlic sauce out of a jar.

Ellie said to use about 1/2 the amount of fish sauce as you do lime but I think that's a bit too much fish sauce so I don't put as much in.  You should adjust it to your taste !

Press the garlic through the garlic press. I do two or three heads of garlic but we are garlic freaks around here. So - you choose how much but press your garlic and set it aside. Heat the oil.  I use olive oil and last night I used 8 Tablespoons.  I have a small rectangular pan that I cook this in.  You should use the smallest fry pan you've got and if it's bigger you'll need to adjust the oil.  Ellie told me to use enough oil so that the garlic floats when you are cooking it. So ... get your oil real hot and then add the garlic. Cook it til it starts to brown. But don't burn it !! :)

Chop the cilantro (coriander), put it in a bowl and set it aside. 

Same with the spring onions.

To serve -- put all of these on the table -- the stock, the rice, the funky lime sauce, the garlic (in it's oil), onions, cilantro and the chicken. I also put the chili/garlic sauce on the table in case anyone wants to make theirs spicier.

To eat -- everyone needs to put this into their bowl -- Ellie does it in this order ... Rice, chicken, garlic, green stuff ( cilantro and onions ) funky lime sauce and finally the stock.  I've discovered that I prefer this order ... Rice, chicken, stock, funky lime sauce, onions and top it off with garlic and cilantro (coriander).  No matter what order you use, get all this stuff into the bowl and eat it.  You won't be sorry !!

PS ... we let the children decide what they put in theirs.  Jono does everything but the lime sauce and cilantro.  Alia only has chicken, rice and stock.  If we are under the weather, I make her have garlic too !  She told me last night (and it was a night that I made her have garlic) that this is her FAVORITE SOUP !

Quinoa Patties

My sister gave me this recipe. I've been meaning to try them for a white but just got around to it last night.  I wish I had tried them earlier !!  They are sooooo yum.  One might be tempted to call them Quinoa Burgers but I have been forbidden to call anything not made out of beef, a burger !  Burgers are NOT made out of beans or grains or tofu or a fake substance pretending to be meat, according to my husband.  He'll eat whatever I put in front of him ... as long as I don't call it a burger, if it isn't !

I made a few changes to the original recipe ... here's what I did.

Made 15 patties using a 1/4 cup scoop.

2 cups cooked quinoa (instructions HERE if you have never cooked quinoa before)
3/4 cup shredded mexican cheese (or cheddar)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 medium carrot, finely grated 
1 zucchini, finely grated
3 eggs
3 tablespoons wholemeal flour
2 spring onions,
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Olive oil for frying

Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl.  Heat the olive oil in a fry pan over medium-low heat. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop up mixture and press firmly into measuring cup.  Carefully tip measuring cup upside down, shake out the mixture gently into the fry pan and lightly flatten to 1/2 inch thick.  Fry until golden-brown, about 4 minutes on each side.   

I served with sliced of avocado, sweet chilli sauce and greek yoghurt mixed with lemon juice, minced garlic and fresh chives.


A New Challenge & Pearl Cous Cous

I mentioned in my post on Sunday that I was going to start feeding us out of what we have here.  I said it like this:

Every now and then I decide that we need to try and eat out of our pantry, freezer, fridge and garden. There are often a few factors that go into my deciding this. One is that sometimes when we are extremely busy, I feel like planning a menu and then going to the grocery store could send me over some sort of imaginary 'edge' ! Two is when we've made a large purchase (like putting solar panels on our house!) and not shopping for a week would help pay for them. Three is when I look into my pantry and freezer and see that what's in there could probably feed a family in Africa for a month. And so, I get creative .... 

Then yesterday I was looking around on the internet and I stumbled upon this challenge ! It starts Monday and I'm going to join them !  It goes for four weeks and basically it's about eating out of your freezer and pantry in an effort to save money.  Tomorrow I will make an inventory of what I have in the house ... I will share that with you.  At the end of each of the weeks (I'm going to do the whole four week challenge) I will share with you what we ate (as per usual) but I will also share with you what I had to buy (I do plan to keep feeding my family fresh fruit, veg, milk etc ...)  and how much I spent each week.  My grocery budget, including toiletries, is $350 a week.  I do pretty well keeping within that most weeks.  I'm very interested to see how much I can save over the four week challenge !  And also what interesting meals we will come up with ...

Tonight's meal was just something I threw together in a hurry.  It was nice.  Simple. Easy.  I had all of the things in my fridge, pantry and garden.  I made it in the afternoon and refrigerated til we were ready to eat.  It was only the kids and me tonight.  Had Rory been here, I probably would have grilled some chicken to go with it.

Pearl (Israeli) Cous Cous
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped small
1 Tomato, chopped small
1 Spring Onion, sliced
A couple spoonfuls of sliced black olives
A small handful of salted capers
Garlic, chopped,  to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more to taste)

Boil cous cous according to package instructions.

Sautee garlic in olive oil til golden brown. (maybe 1/2 tablespoon of oil)

Drain cous cous.  Mix cous cous with other ingredients, including oil you cooked the garlic in.  Squeeze lemon juice on top and mix. 
Can be served hot or cold.

PS ... If I'd had feta in the house, I would have put that in too ...

Egg Curry and Chutney

I am re-posting this recipe because it needs to be at the front of the blog again, (and also because I finally got a photo that I'm happy with !)  Have you tried this yet ? You need to !!  Just a little side note, I used wholemeal flour in this tonight and there was no difference to taste !

My Mom sent me her recipes for these when I was first married. I have cooked both of them many times since. They are both passed down long time family favorites !

For the Egg Curry:
1 cup white sauce per person
1 hard boiled egg per person and one for the pot
curry powder to taste (start with 1 teaspoon per cup of white sauce)
garlic powder to taste
a little salt
generous black pepper
generous pinch of cumin per cup of white sauce (adds heat and punch but is optional)

Make white sauce.
Add sliced eggs.
Serve over rice.
May add green peas to rice, if you like peas ...

How to Make White Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter (or oil as I discovered out of necessity last time I made this !)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk

Melt butter (stir in spices if using for curry)
Stir in flour. Stir til all lumps are gone and there is only a smooth past.
Slowly add milk and stir constantly until sauce thickens and then boils. (use med-high heat)

For the Chutney :
1 pound of canned tomatoes and the juice (mush them up with your fingers so there are various sizes)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger or 10 thin slices fresh ginger
1 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
generous 3/4 cup vinegar
as many raisins as you like (this recipe would call for 1/5 of a pound)

Throw everything into a pan except the raisins and cook for about 1.5 hours, or til it's dark brown and looks like chutney (not too runny) Turn of the fire and thrown in the raisins. Let cool in the pan so the raisins plump up.

You can freeze this chutney.
You can also keep it in your fridge from now til kingdom come.
But ... it won't last that long ... it's too yummy !

What We Ate ~ Week 17 ~ 2012

Every now and then I decide that we need to try and eat out of our pantry, freezer, fridge and garden. There are often a few factors that go into my deciding this. One is that sometimes when we are extremely busy, I feel like planning a menu and then going to the grocery store could send me over some sort of imaginary 'edge' ! Two is when we've made a large purchase (like putting solar panels on our house!) and not shopping for a week would help pay for them. Three is when I look into my pantry and freezer and see that what's in there could probably feed a family in Africa for a month. And so, I get creative .... Part of this week has been like that and part of next week will be like that too !

Calamari, Salad (Rocket and Cos Lettuce out of our garden !), Kalamata Olive Sourdough Bread

Rory's Salmon, Rice (with a mushroom gravy sauce), steamed broccoli

We went to a potluck dinner ... I brought sushi.  Everything was SOOOOO good !

Salad ... with greens from our garden again ... and garlic bread leftover from the potluck.

Potato and Leek Soup ... with leeks out of our garden !!!

Rory went to the Footy last night.  The kids and I rented "We Bought A Zoo" (cute movie) and ordered calamari and chips from the fish and chips shop down the road.  Fed three of us for $11 ... not bad ! (unless you are considering the nutritional value of the food ... then it's bad, very bad)


For every season there is the perfect cookie. Molasses for fall, Mint for winter...etc. Today I found the perfect one for spring! An easy recipe with a delicious taste.

 You will need:
- One stick (8T) softened butter
- One cup sugar
- One egg
- One Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- One teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour

And 1/2 cup powdered sugar to roll the cookies in before baking.

 Preheat oven 350. In a stand mixer (or hand held) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrap the sides of the bowl and beat again for another 30 or 40 seconds. Next, add the dry ingredients: salt, baking powder and soda, flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Scoop dough into rounded balls, maybe a little bigger than a rounded tablespoon.(Don't worry if the dough is sticky.) Roll them in the powdered sugar and bake for 9-11 minutes. You want them to be golden brown on the bottom but not the top! Perfect for afternoon tea!

What We Ate ~ Week 16 ~ 2012


Salad with Grilled Chicken
From memory, this salad was cos lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, black olives, pine nuts, a bit of cooked bacon and salt and pepper chicken grilled on the BBQ.  I cooked up some whole button mushrooms with salt, garlic powder and Italian herbs on the side ...


Simple fried rice with cashews and "Dancing Peppers"

The greens are from our garden.


We found this frozen ravioli at one of our favorite shops the other day and decided to try it.  It was delicious !   We made our slow roasted tomato pasta sauce (without the meat) to top the ravioli.

The next night we used the leftover pasta sauce and just put it over some curly fettuccine.   I forgot to take a photo ....

Sandwich night.
Mine was ham, provolone, dill pickles, avocado, seed mustard, mayo ... toasted.

We wanted something EASY on Friday.
We went with hot dogs.


Yeah, we eat lots of sushi here.  It is my favorite thing.
I would eat it everyday if my family would allow.

Lemony, Garlicky, Cuminy Grilled Eggplant

I picked our first eggplant out of our garden the other day. I got this recipe over at Fine Cooking. I changed it a bit. Omitted a few steps and ingredients. Here's what I did ...

For the vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of a small lemon
1 small shallot, very finely diced
1.5 tsp sugar (may not need this but my lemon was very, very sour)
3 TBLS olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

For the eggplant:
1 eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Olive oil
Kosher salt.
Feta cheese
Fresh cilantro 

Make the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients and adjust to taste.  Set aside for flavors to combine.

Grill the eggplant: Salt both sides of eggplant.  Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill fire. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil.  Grill 3 to 4 minutes each side.

To serve: Top grilled eggplant slices with vinaigrette, feta, and herbs.  Serve immediately.