Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday NOT the menu plan

For those of you not in Eastern Australia, it has been stinking hot bushfire weather. We have a fire far west of us, and the smoke has been coming across the mountains. Today was hot, smoky and windy - not weather for spaghetti and meatballs or mushroom soup (the things left on my plan).
Instead, for $3.75 we had a slight change of plans. The $3.75 bought rice vermicelli, lime juice and coleslaw mix. And we had satay meatballs with rice noodle salad.

Simple Satay Sauce
1 Can coconut milk (mine was light, but it didn't have to be)
1 Tablespoon red curry paste
2 generous Tablespoons peanut butter
Splash of fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and simmer gently until slightly thickened. Add defrosted meatballs and simmer again until heated through.
Serve with rice noodle salad.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Menu planning monday

Back to some routine! Ryan did all the grocery shopping this weekend, and chose the menu, so it's a bit more expensive and creative than usual. But thats ok because we spent so little last week (not being able to get to the fruit & veg markets). He still spent less that $50 at coles, and only $20 at the markets, so our $100 a fortnight food budget is intact.
Here's the plan:
Last night: Salmon and vegetable kebabs on the barbecue (the salmon was expensive, but so worth it)
Monday: Arancini (Italian rice balls). We had oil left over from deep frying the wontons, which was Ryan's inspiration for this yummy, greasy dinner.
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs (from last weeks cooking overload).
Wednesday: Ricotta gnocchi (ricotta also something we don't often buy. In one of my Donna Hay magazines there are instructions to make it, so I might have to try)
Thursday: Quesadilla's (I hope I spelt that correctly)
Friday: Fresh cream of mushroom soup.

I've decided to make it official, and joined OrgJunkies Menu Plan Monday.

I hope you're planning a yummy week too!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pumpkin curry and mushroom wontons

Every so often we have a clean-out-the fridge dinner. On my menu for this friday was curry, but our fridge was so empty it was looking like a stretch. We had half a butternut pumpkin, some left over wonton wrappers, quite a few mushrooms, and a fairly full tin cupboard. So this is what we ended up with.
Pumpkin & chickpea curry
Heat oil in wok. Add curry paste of choice (ours was Thai red), and try not to choke on fumes. Mental note - don't let husband cook and watch TV at the same time. The oil had been heating for quite a while...
When curry paste is fragrant (or the fumes have cleared) add half a butternut pumpkin, chopped. You could add a chopped onion, or any other 'hard' vegetables at this point. I would have added an onion if I had one.
Stir it for a bit, then turn down the heat. Slowly add a can of coconut milk. Leave to simmer until pumpkin is nearly tender, then add a well rinsed can of chickpeas and the remains of a red capsicum, thinly sliced. Leave until heated through and the pumpkin is finally soft.
Absolutely inauthentic mushroom wontons
Finely dice some mushrooms and a generous piece of ginger (we added some garlic too, but I wouldn't do it again). Add enough hoisin sauce to make it all stick together. Place a big teaspoonful in the middle of each wonton wrapper, then use a pastry brush to wet the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper together to make a parcel, squeezing the edges to stick, and squeezing as much air out as possible. Deep fry until golden brown.

Serve with rice and spicy popadums.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cooking overload, and hey - my dinner's cool!

Tuesday was kind of weird. I defrosted some beef mince to make chilli, and some blade steak to make the beef casserole for the next day's slow cooker. Then I realised that I had twice as much mince as I needed - it couldn't go back in the freezer, so I made it into meatballs . I browned the meat for the casserole, and chucked the meatballs in the oven (with the baked potatoes for the chilli).
For somebody who normally only eats one or two meals of red meat a week, it felt strange to be cooking up three or four meals of the stuff all at once!
Eventually, the meatballs went in the freezer to be flash frozen, the casserole went in the fridge for the next day, and the chilli got eaten. I was left feeling like the picture of a domestic goddess.

The beef casserole turned out brilliantly. I used the 'Wine-braised beef with herby dumplings' from Destitute Gourmet, but I had to modify the recipe for the slow cooker. I thought that meant using less liquid (the instruction manual said to halve it) but I won't next time, because it wasn't runny enough to do dumplings. It was perfect though - thick and rich and beefy. I served it with some lovely green beans. And to top it all off, CookieCrumb says casseroles are so retro that they are cool again!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A $21 Challenge - a frugal food fest.

On the SS website (see link over on the right somewhere) there has been a lot of discussion about doing a $21 challenge. The challenge being to spend only $21 on food for the week, and use up everything you have sitting around in the cupboard and the freezer. Seeing as I didn't get time to shop, I guess I'll be doing that this week.
In the freezer, I have three lots of casserole beef, one big bag of mince, some puff pastry, frozen peas and flat bread.
In the cupboard I have tinned tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, cous cous, pasta & stirfry noodles.
(and lots of baking stuff, including 5 types of flour... how did I end up with 5 types of flour?)
In the fridge I have yoghurt, milk, 3 eggs, 5 potatoes, 2 sick looking tomatoes, some cheese, plus the ingredients for the pumpkin and feta pasta I was going to eat last week.
So far, the menu is going to be
- pumpkin & feta pasta (I mean it this time!!!)
- baked potatoes with chilli con carne
- flat-bread pizza
- beef & red wine stew in the slow cooker
- some sort of beef curry that i'll decide at a later date.
And that takes us through to Friday!
I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hiking is really, really bad for you

Camp Cooking

OK, maybe not completely bad for you, but definitely bad for your diet.
The complete list of food I've eaten since friday night:
- burger at icky fast food joint
- muesli with long life milk
- white turkish roll with tuna & that icky 'cow' cream cheese that doesn't need refridgerating
- spui min (oh, sorry, one of those packet meals where you just add boiling water & sit. this one was sweet & sour pork flavour, to give you the idea)
- small plastic container of so-called chocolate mousse (also didn't require refridgeration)
- muesli with long life milk and tinned fruit
- a much better mushroom & onion burger at a much better take away place.

But this leaves out the snacks - half a kilo of trail mix, violet crumble, jelly snakes, shape biscuits... I think that's it.
I haven't cooked a single thing all weekend. I have no idea what we are going to eat this week, and haven't done any shopping. I'm sure I'll figure it out soon. I hope your week has a better start!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pumpkin and feta pasta

This is one of those really flavoury dinners, that you keep doing because it's easy, and it's easy to fudge if you don't have exactly the right ingredients. In theory, it serves 4 people, but I made it for lunch for 5 of us one day, and ended up with around a third left over. Maybe they meant 4 hungry lumberjacks. I originally found the recipe in 'bowl food' from Murdoch Books.

1.2 kg of butternut or japanese pumpkin, peeled & cubed
1 tsp fresh rosemary (I only do this because it grows outside my front door)
4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
500g pasta (i usually use penne, but the bowties work well too)
1 large red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup chicken stock
200g feta, crumbled
100g fresh rocket leaves (I think north americans call it aragula. i'm glad i don't have to pronounce that) I've used baby spinach as well.

Bake the pumpkin, garlic, rosemary & olive oil in a hot oven until the pumpkin is cooked.
Cook the pasta & keep it warm.
Cook the onion (in more olive oil) in the frying pan for a couple of minutes, then add the honey. When the onion starts to caramelise, add the stock and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes, until its reduced a bit.
Add everything to the pasta and stir through, I usually season with lots of cracked pepper.

This dinner freezes ok, it just doesn't reheat very well. Melted feta is pretty rubbery.