Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some Pictures from the big batch cooking

Call me slack, but I thought I'd post some pictures of the big vegetarian cook-up. This beautiful, healthy looking concoction was the Mexican-vegie pasta. It turned out colourful, and satisfying, but it doesn't pack a huge flavour punch. As it was for a new mum, I'm not too worried - I don't think spicy food is supposed to be good for breast milk (maybe somebody else knows better?).

I'm still drooling over all the photos I see on other peoples' food blogs. So when I can steal the camera from Ryan, I've started experimenting with my photos. You can see some awesome food photography at Frugal Cuisine, Milk and Cookies and in any of the Recipe Carousels hosted at Morsels and Musings.

Back to the food. My favourite of our big batches was definitely the slow-cooker dhal. It was tasty, with a lingering spiciness, but all the tomatoes gave it a comforting flavour as well. It's the first dhal I've had that I'm content to eat on by itself. I didn't take any pictures of the finished product, but here's a look at all the colour as it goes into the wok. The onions, spices and tomatoes get a quick simmer before being added to the lentils in the slow cooker. With mustard seeds, cumin and ground coriander, it smelt pretty good too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tandoori-Style Chickpeas

I can take no credit for this recipe at all. But while it's so bright and colourful, and cooking on my stove, I thought I'd tell you all about it.
The recipe is from a really old article from Vegetarian Times. And it was pointed out to me by Tracey C at Simple Savings. It's very simple, very frugal and very healthy. What more could you want in a Thursday night dinner? Oh yeah, taste, well it's not the most complex flavour, but it's satisfying and homey and I suggest you check it out. It's also one of those dishes where you can throw in any sad looking vegies from the bottom of the crisper. So mine 'accidentally' has quite a bit of red cabbage.

Because it was so quick, and Ryan was so late, I was able to experiment. I'm a big fan of blue cheese, and was completely inspired by these beautiful pictures at dessert comes first. I had grapes, and walnuts, so I had to try to to replicate the Red globe grapes wrapped in Roquefort and chopped walnuts. I didn't buy, roquefort cheese, but I did use some of my play money to buy an 'extra creamy' danish blue.
It's not as easy as it sounds.
The walnuts stuck to the cheese easily, but the cheese didn't want to stick to the grapes. I mashed the cheese with a dash of milk, but I think I made more of a mess than anything else.

Tasty mess though.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cooking for others - a new baby!

Special-K's baby arrived early! He weighed in at 5 pounds, and came 5 weeks early (last Saturday). His mum is all fine, but was a bit teary at having to leave her new baby behind in the hospital. Our big cooking plan was a bit behind schedule! So on Sunday, we did a big cook up. And because my parents are here visiting as well, they got press-ganged into the production line!
We were going for simple, nutritious, freezable vegetarian food. And this is what we ended up with:
Spicy mixed-lentil dhal in the slow cooker
Baked pumpkin risotto in the oven
Tex-Mex pasta with black beans
Vegie-tomato pasta sauce.

The chopping took much longer than anything else - but with my mum wielding the big chopping knife, it was all over in around two hours. The dhal was definitely my favourite, but also the most labour intensive. We put them all into single serve glad containers (the ones you can wash or throw away) and threw them in the freezer. Then we gave Mr Special-K half of everything. He was very excited (as well as exhausted).
Oh I should add, Baby-K is all healthy, just early, and will be allowed out when he figures out what the sucking thing is all about.

Menu Planning Monday

This week we are eating a lot from the freezer:

Monday - Pumpkin Risotto (left over from yesterday) & salad.
Tuesday - Tandoori Chickpeas with Cauliflower (was going to cook this yesterday, but didn't get that far)
Wednesday - out to dinner with visiting parents
Thursday - Spaghetti with Tomato Pasta Sauce (Sauce frozen from yesterday's cookup)
Friday - possibly barbecue stuff - i have sausages in the freezer.

We also have about half a kilo of chopped, raw butternut pumpkin in the fridge. Haven't figured out what to do with that just yet....

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

This recipe is modified a bit from one found in a Donna Hay magazine. Simple, vegetarian, very low fat and freezes well.

1 Butternut pumpkin, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 brown onion
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Honey
1 sprig of Rosemary, leaves chopped finely
Salt & Pepper
1L Vegetable Stock

Combine all ingredients except the stock on a baking tray. Bake in a moderate oven until the pumpkin is cooked through. Place cooked ingredients in a big pot with the stock, and use a hand blender to blend to desired consistency.

The original recipe called for 850g of pumpkin, but I generally use a lot more. This time, I used about 2kg, which makes quite a thick soup. It was enough for two dinner sized serves, two lunch-sized serves, and a litre of soup left for our present for Special-K.

Cooking for others - big bold plans!

January brings me three big cooking challenges - ones where I'm not going to be able to eat all the leftovers on toast and pretend it never happened.
Challenge Number 1.
One of my very first Canberra friends (who we shall call Special-K) is about to have her very first baby. As a present, Ryan and I want to fill her freezer with easy-to-nuke, ready-to-go meals. One complicating factor is that Special-K is vegetarian, so some of my favourite freezer meals won't work.
Challenge Number 2.
Another Canberra friend is having her 'Goodbye 29' Party. Otherwise known as a '20-10 Birthday' or the 9th anniversary of her 21st. She is having a party, and together we will do all the catering. A fingerfood dinner for 30 people can't be that hard, can it? That's not until February 20, but we think it's better to start planning soon.
Challenge Number 3.
The scales weren't very kind to me, post Christmas. I weighed 64kg on New Years Eve, and the maximum healthy weight for my height is 56kg. I've signed up with CalorieKing to track how much I'm eating. They have suggested a diet of 1200 calories a day. I'm not sure if I can do that, especially on a budget, but I'll let you know how I go.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

There go the holidays!

I hope everybody had a smashing good time. We drove to Melbourne and sampled the culinary delights of that fair metropolis, and spent a couple days camping & barbecuing at the beach as well. We had such a good time that I managed to gain an extra 4 kilo's, so the food featured here in will hopefully be a little healthier. Happy New Year!!