Saturday, June 4, 2016

Starting Again - Chicken Soup for the Blog

Where in the world have I been? I seriously did not realise how long it had been since I blogged here. What a disgrace. You have no idea how many food photos I've taken with the clear intention of blogging and then I very clearly have failed to do just that.

I'm truly sitting here blown away that so much time has passed. Life's like that I guess but it's time to change that. I'm back and I'm planning to blog here weekly at least for the rest of 2016 and beyond.

I have a few recipes ready to go and I'll be focussing on easy to make and budget friendly food because that's what most of us are looking for. It's winter here in Sydney right now (pouring rain today) and there's nothing nicer than knowing there's a warm pot of food bubbling away on the stove. So let's start with this one - Chicken Leg Soup.

This recipe came about because I found some super cheap chicken legs a week or so a ago. 4 chicken legs cost me $1.50. A container of UHT chicken stock is $3. A bag of chicken necks was $3. And so I bought the legs and made my own stock and soup.

This soup was also a great way to clean out all the veggies from the fridge....the lame celery, the sad carrot, the lone potato, that bruised zucchini...

Chicken Leg Soup
Ingredients for stock:
4 chicken legs
1 onion (peeled and quartered)
1 carrot (Cut in chunks)
1 whole garlic clove
The leafy top of a bunch of celery (I like using the leaves because they have a peppery flavour and it's less waste but a stick or two works fine).
Throw all these in the pot with 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until meat is falling of the bones (about 1 hour)
Strain through a fine sieve. Separate chicken meat from veggies and bones and reserve.
Chicken Soup
1 Onion
1 1 carrot diced
2 celery sticks diced
veggies of your choice - 1 potato diced, 1 zucchini, green beans, frozen peas, spinach about 2 or 3 cups if you have fresh herbs like parsley or basil they work well too. (if I use frozen peas save to add with chicken).
reserved meat
Soften onion, carrot and celery in a little butter or olive oil. Add other veggies and toss to coat. Add stock and cook until firmest veggie (eg potato) is soft. Return chicken (and peas) and warm though.
Serve with crusty bread.
I got 8 serves easily from this recipe. It was delicious and very economical.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Menu planning Monday

Well, here I am again. The world's most sporadic blogger is back.
I used to regularly post a weekly menu plan. I'm a person who never gets take-out and tried very hard to keep her food/grocery budget in check. Still, we're people that love our food. That requires planning. Lots of planning actually.
So we menu plan.
Here's this week's -
Monday - roast chicken and veggies
Tuesday - stuffed peppers
Wednesday - zesty chicken enchiladas (leftover roast chicken)
Thursday - corn fritters, bacon, avocado cream
Friday - pizza
Simple enough.
Our other  meals and snacks include -chicken sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, lentil burgers, zucchini slice, lemon curd muffins, quesadillas, hummus & crackers , wholemeal banana carrot cake. 3 people, 3 meals a day and snacks.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A year in pictures

Goodness I've been a slack blogger this year.
I hope to improve that in 2015. I have great plans for my kitchen this year. We spent half of the year renovating the kitchen. My husband did it himself and it seemed to take forever. It certainly meant I didn't cook as many things worth sharing as I might usually have.
Anyway here are a few images from the year from summer picnic food to over-l0aded nachos.
I look forward to sharing my culinary exploits with you in the year ahead.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mum, you're probably over-thinking dinner.

I am the world's worst food blogger. I suppose I could just show you an array of food photos I've taken and intended to share over the past months but what would be the point? Okay I'll do it anyway.

The truth is we've been renovating our kitchen which has taken an impossibly long time. It seems to have created chaos which has seeped in to all corners of our life. My husband has been a DIY renovator and as soon as he would get a run on the work would come in. he's self-employed and the motto of all self-employed people is "never say no to work." 

Anyway we're nearly done. We're still working out what goes where in the pantry and we still need to re-paint the entire interior of our house.and it's open plan so once one starts one must continue unless one wants to be surrounded by furniture covered in ghost like sheets. (That project looks like it is a week away, at least).

Meanwhile I haven't been entertaining and our culinary efforts have been simplified. I'm pretty sure the only person in the family bothered by this is me - which leads to the topic "Mum, you're over- thinking dinner." 

Tonight we're having tuna noddle casserole (the American) or as my daughter calls it (the Australian) tuna pasta bake. This is not now nor will it ever be a high point in my kitchen career. I don't hate it but if I never eat it again, that's just fine with me.

Kids on the other hand love it. My daughter and her friend were in the car not long ago discussing favourite foods. I announced we had one in the freezer and my daughter could have it for dinner. Her 
friend said "You're soooooooooooooooooooooooooo lucky." As if she had a new iPhone.

So what do I know? Not much apparently. I'm pretty sure I could serve the following menu on rotation and never hear another complaint:
- tuna pasta bake
- pizza
- tacos/nachos
- butter chicken
- spaghetti and meatballs
- Florentine stuffed mushrooms
- risoni
- meatloaf
- roast chicken
- ribs
- pulled pork
- breakfast for dinner

I'm not doing that because I'll go out of my ever-loving mind but maybe we/parents should give ourselves a break and relax into these "family favourites". I guess they're favourites for a reason.

There's no recipe for Tuna Pasta Bake - I'm pretty sure everyone knows how to make it.

I hope to be a better blogger from now on...meanwhile if you're interested stop by my writing blog - Monique McDonell - author.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Back to school - lunchbox treats

All over Australia children are putting on uncomfortable school shoes, scratchy uniforms and backpacks and heading back to the classroom.
The irony that they head back as  we inch towards February, traditionally the hottest month of the year, is lost on no one. Not the teachers, the kids or their parents.
It makes filling lunch boxes all the more challenging.
We like to vary our lunch boxes a bit. I'm not the mother who makes her kid's sandwich into art work but I'm also not the one who sends the same thing every day year in year out.
Some of the favourites staples here are:
- homemade sushi
- pasta salad
- chicken salad wraps
- meatloaf sandwiches
- leftover sausages on a roll
- leftover meatballs on a roll (aka a meatball sub)
- savoury muffins
- homemade scrolls
I'm big on protein so I try and ensure there is plenty for young minds to work to capacity...and older ones too as my husband also takes lunch...I work from home so my options are wider.
Our lunch boxes always contain fruit. One of the best summer fruits are frozen orange segments. They help keep the lunch cold and well they're refreshing. Just be sure to cut them up before you freeze them!
Other additions we like vary:
- homemade weetbix slice
- homemade mini muffins - 2 make a nice sized snack (banana nut, banana choc chip, apple, orange poppy seed, lemon curd) (Here are some frozen and ready to grab in the morning)
- dip and veggies or crackers (hummus or guacamole usually)
- banana bread
- wholemeal banana carrot cake
Last year I relied too much on pre-packaged snacks. This year I'm trying to
move back away from that both for cost and nutrition.
I'll be posting more recipes and options over the coming weeks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Summer food - lamb koftas

It's always amazing to me how differently we eat in summer to winter. It's not just what's in season, which of course has an impact, but it's also what looks good to us.
Soup in the middle of a heatwave? Not so appealing.
Here are a few things we've had this last week or so - Asparagus Tart. To me this is summer on a plate.
Caprese salad - the Italians sure know a thing or two about food and there's a reason this dish is a summer classic.
Hummus - this is actually a white bean hummus because I was out of chick peas. It was super yummy and I think less work for my poor old food processor than grinding chick peas. I made this to take on a picnic. And I ended up with two tubs worth so I kept one for later. I had some dukkah so I sprinkled some on top. Those sprinkled dips are very popular now in the deli and supermarket.
Finally last night we had lamb koftas. This was a great way to use up the rest of the hummus. I also made some tabbouli to have with them and we wrapped them in Lebanese bread with homemade tzaziki.
Lamb koftas
700g of lamb mince
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 egg
dash of tomato sauce
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed.
8 bamboo skewers (soaked)
1. Combine above and mix together really well (You do need to use your hands. If you're squeamish wear disposable gloves).
2. Form lamb into sausage shapes and shape around bamboo skewers.
3. BBQ or grill until done.
4. Enjoy on their own with tzazkiki or like we did in Lebanese bread with salad.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 New Year for blogging and some goals (and a recipe for Simple Salmon Dip)

Somehow the end of 2013 got a little crazy and my time  and ability to blog evaporated, it seems.
I would make something new and forget to take a photo or realise I was making the same old things  to save myself time and energy so it didn't seem blog-worthy.
I have a few goals for 2014 for the blog and my kitchen. Hopefully they are simple and manageable.
1. Blog weekly (hopefully more).
2. Waste less food
I read an appalling statistic about Australians and how much food we waste. When you consider how many people go without, the affect on the environment and the personal economic cost well it makes sense to waste less.
This isn't the article I read but it sure makes the point.
3. Buy less pre-prepared food.
Some of the things I buy for convenience I could just as easily make myself and this would help with the food waste issue as well.
I've already started on this and I'm doing pretty well so far. Below is an example. We were heading out on our boat and we wanted to take some snacks. I often go buy some nice cheese or dip but instead using some things lurking in my fridge I made this yummy dip which was as nice if not nicer than store bought and I was able to use up some things that would have ended up being tossed otherwise.
Simple Salmon Dip
50g smoked salmon
1/2 tub of leftover cream cheese (about 100g)
1/2 tub of leftover sour cream (about 100g, you could easily use natural yoghurt)
1 teaspoon of fresh dill (dried would work)
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 dill pickle diced.
1. Place ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth.
2. Enjoy!
(Not the best picture or presentation but boating can be a bit rustic!)