Leftovers – keep them or chuck them out?

How often do you catch yourself serving up enough rice to feed a small country or carving up a large roast bought for 3 but could easily feed 7? Do you try and stuff it in so not to waste or do you think about reusing it in a creative left over way or do you just simply throw it out without a care as to who could have enjoyed your hard labour of cooking?

Up until about a year ago I was terrible for cooking far too much rice. Too much to the point that when feeding 2 I could have easily fed 10. I think it’s more about how small it looks initially and then remembering how much it expands after cooking!

I now know just 1 cup of uncooked rice is enough for me and brad and there will be a little left over in case I over do it with the main dish I am serving up with this said rice and therefore I will be able to box it up and freeze it, or Brad will have a scrummy lunch for the following day.

The problem I am finding now though is I have no care about how much I am cooking because “I will just freeze it” but it has transpired that I have had to buy a chest freezer just to contain the “leftovers”. It’s all well and good, and I do it with the best intentions, but because I love cooking so much I struggle to allow myself to partake in one of these mystery boxes that lurk in my freezer.

Well, half the boxes are still mysteries as I finally invested in a label maker and now label my boxes before they get stuffed away in the freezer so I know when they went in and what is actually in the box. Hint: Always put the label on first otherwise you freeze the box and then try you will have an epic fail! Second Hint: If you are unsure as to what is in the mystery box do not take a stab at what it could be, it’ll only make your husband upset having him believe he is having curry and it turns out to be chilli……

So I am now left with this conundrum, I cook and I do every evening try and think of something different to do. I always over cook what I am doing and therefore have to box up my leftovers and yet I can’t bring myself to get them out of the freezer and eat them as I could/should be cooking as I want to!

Does anyone else have this issue? Do you have a freezer full of food that is slowly getting frost burn because no-one is interested in eating your labours of slaving over a hot stove? Do you intentionally cook more with the great idea that you will eat this at another date and yet never do? Or are you able to cook for two and actually only cook for two, have no stray rice hanging out in the sieve?

Somebody please tell me I’m not in this alone!

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Mourning in a cooking sense

My husband woke me up early yesterday morning. By my request as I had gone out the night before with work and had pulled out my sausages from the freezer.

I had planned to make my slow cooked curried sausages (recipe under beef, pork and lamb) put it in the dish, into the fridge and then whip it out early on Wednesday morning to be able to come home from a long day in work and have my dinner all ready made. When I got home from my pretty alcohol fuelled night the thought of boiling my sausages, stripping their skin and cutting up my veggies was just not there so I requested an early morning call.

I got up with my fresh coffee that Brad had made me and progressed into making our dinner for that night. Previously using my Slow Cooker I had realised that the screen that shows you the time of cooking was fading out – i wasn’t going to rush out and buy myself a new slow cooker when this beautiful machine still cooked.

I assembled the bowl with my onions, peas, potatoes, stock and coconut cream and whacked on the time limit. This time though i saw no numbers. I was dubious that this slow cooker was working but I popped into the bathroom and carried on getting ready for my long day ahead at work.

When i spoke to my husband at 5pm he was heading home and was ETA earlier then me. I requested that he checked the slow cooker as I was a little worried that something wasn’t going to be right. All was confirmed when I got home to find my husband stood in the kitchen with a sad and shaken head look that the slow cooker was still stone cold. Devastated. My slow cooker had finally died.

Now I’m not sure if my mourning is more due to the fact that this amazing slow cooker had just died or because of how I had originally came across my slow cooker. You see, When Brad and I got together we had no money. I was a back packer and Brad had come out of a marriage with nothing. We had no money to rub together but of course enjoyed cooking so we signed up to Robins Kitchen mailing list and started buying all of our kitchen “stuff” through them. One weekend we popped in and bought a load of pots and pans only to be rewards with $30 of vouchers to come back into the store and spend. Being as skint as we were we went in the following week and got a few things – What we weren’t aware was when you spent money in that store this particular week you were entered into a draw to win a slow cooker or a pressure cooked.

You have probably guessed it, we won! Out of the whole of Australia we won! And to make matters even more amazing out email account that was linked to our application had been shut down and Robins Kitchen had even made the effort to ring us after we had not responded to their “you’re a winner” email to make sure we still wanted this product!

I was obsessed with my slow cooker, to the point that Brad had to stop me from entering the kitchen and cooking/slow cooking again as there was no more rom in our freezer!

So yesterday, when I came home to find my slow cooker had died I was devastated, one because it was died and two because my dinner was not cooked. As I rummaged through my pots and pans cupboard trying to find a casserole dish to decant my mixture and blast it in the oven Brad told me to just “put the removable pot from the slow cooker in the oven”

I did question this but followed my husbands “orders” and 20 minutes later I smelt melting plastic. You got it. The lid melted! Luckily I caught it in time, wrapped the dish in foil and continues baking it on high.

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I still can’t believe my slow cooker has died but it has given me the opportunity to go out and buy the new machine that came on the market over a year ago! A slow cooked, steamer, pressure cooker new fandangle thing that it going to be amazing.  Mourning my free appliance is still very real but I look forward to the future where I continue with my cooking!

Men and Meat

The first time I attempted a risotto I chose to keep it easy. As my husband kept saying, “isn’t this the dish that everyone is petrified by on those cooking shows you love?” He had a point, no-one has ever said they “love making a risotto” and no-one on my beloved cooking shows has ever come close to perfection! So it was a big challenge but I felt positive that I could pull it off.

I got everything set up and prepared and gradually added my stock to the rice. One word of advice on this……don’t think about cooking a risotto if you are hungry…..it takes a while!

When I finally got the rice perfect and all my stock had been absorbed, I ladled the risotto into my warmed bowls and served it to Brad. I watched as my husband picked his fork up and progressed to moving the risotto around his plate. After about two minutes I piped up and asked if everything was OK? to which Brad replied “where is the meat?”

Now this leads me into the real aspect of this post. What is it with men and meat? Why are vegetables to foreign to men? Why are vegetarian men deemed weaker then meat eating men?

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I did some research on the cavemen diet. The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet) is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets. In common usage, such terms as “paleolithic diet” also refer to the actual ancestral human diet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet

So what is with this great need for meat with every meal? Even breakfast! Go to McDonalds and your breakfast muffins are egg with bacon or egg with sausage! What about just egg?? Yes, I know you can request it, or even opt for the pancakes and maple syrup but still, when did every meal of the day have to contain meat?

I understand those of you who are going to talk to me about the protein in meat, but I get loads of protein from a hard boiled egg after a work out, I do not need to chow down on a steak!

On the flip side of the coin I am concious that I could not make that decision to become vegetarian, nor could I sustain on just fish. I do love a well cooked T-bone, a succulent plump chicken breast, even that naughty pork roast with all the trimming and the best pork, crackling! I wouldn’t say I crave meat, but I sure do enjoy it when it is popped on my plate, or more likely that I have cooked it up and served it!

If cavemen survived on meat and plants around them, why did it become so horrendous to eat vegetables? Plants that are so good for your health have been branded with a taboo of being disgusting? Why? Why are the good things for us so bad? And why do we have this addiction, this need and reliance on eating meat all the time?

My husband does eat my broccoli and blue cheese soup without mentioning at all the word meat, but then I wonder, “is that because it’s a liquid and therefore his brain isn’t registering that this delicious, satisfying dish contains not one ounce of meat?”

I guess we will never get an answer to this (unless there is some scientific research that I have failed to uncover whilst thinking about writing this post!) So enjoy you meat and three veg, your juicy steak and plump chicken breasts. But remember, vegetable are not the enemy, you just think they are!!

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Crushed Expectations

You may think I’m being dramatic, over analysing, or just plain fussy but I kid you not, my expectations when it comes to a restaurant, bar or when eating out is ALWAYS crushed should I visit an establishment more then three times, or order the same dish more then once!

Don’t get me wrong this hasn’t only happened to me when it comes to food. Only 5 weeks ago my world came crushing down around me when a hairdresser, I thought had done an amazing job on my hair 6 weeks previously, proceeded to hack away at my hair and obviously was more focused on me saying I was “thinking” about having it cut off for summer, then remembering that she was “thinning” my hair, not leaving my head practically bald in spots and me devastated.

But back to my food conundrum, so last week, on our regular Friday Work Lunch, we decided to head to The Wharf Bar in Honeysuckle, NSW. Secretly inside I was exploding with excitement! The last time we had been there I was attempting a low fat diet and had a grilled chicken burger and no bun. What I secretly longed for though, was the most amazing Reef and Beef pizza with a thick, salty, zesty aioli swirl on top. *dribbles* So on Friday, when I got told this was where we were heading, I knew I didn’t even need to glance at the menu. I was having that pizza. I ordered a beer which by all means was lovely and cold. We all ordered our food and I sat back in anticipation for this beautiful reef and beef pizza (another way of saying Surf and Turf) We were being updated by Kate and Victoria about their separate journeys into buying houses when our food was finally delivered.

Talk about crushed expectations. Although I did not take a photo of my disappointing, flavour lacking pizza, I’m sure the below pictures can relay my disappointment. The first picture portrays the most amazing, flavour filled pizza, carefully constructed to be able to attack each and every taste bud I own, and the second pizza is that pure stingy felt, heart lacking, non-picturesque pizza that was actually delivered.

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Why is it that you can go and try a new cafe, bar, restaurant out and have THE most amazing experience there and then you get all geared up to go back  only to be disappointed with the lack of service, the quality of food or just the general place itself?

Above has been a long running trend for my husband and I. When I knew my mum was coming to visit from the UK, we searched for the best breakfast place in town that would offer the most extensive Gluten and Dairy free options around. We did and we went there three times before my mum eventually got to us, only to take her there and wait for over 50 minutes to get our breakfasts! Disaster, one because I was embarrassed at how much I had “bigged” this restaurant up and two because I turn nasty when I’m hungry and especially hungover!

Even friends of ours, Daisy and Christian, had raved about a local breakfast place that was close to us and that we had to try out. Again, the service was atrocious and my sweetcorn fritters with a side of Smoked Salmon came out (very late) as a soggy pancake and a pile of smoked salmon. (not complaining about the amount of smoked salmon, but it was evidently apparent that the amount of salmon on the plate was the reason they could charge $18 for this mess). Our poor friends were mortified. We have however discussed this further and are aware they have usually gone there for brunch and we were there in peak 9.30am breakfast time. But still it’s that crushed expectation when you have in your mind how amazing this experience should be.

Am I the only unlucky one who has been unfortunate enough to experience this? Is there a particular reason why this happens? Are your expectations raised after the first amazing visit and therefore you are your own worst enemy? But aren’t expectations there fore a reason, should you not strive to reach perfect of culinary expertise, or enjoy a comfortable clean environment or in fact not walk away from a salon with half your head of hair missing? Will i ever learn?

 

Cooking with Quinoa

Have you ever felt like a right prat when someone has had to correct you in your pronunciation or use of word?! Well I have on numerous occasions and on Monday it was no different. In fact it was the radio presenters fault for pronouncing this particular word wrong, I heard him say it, I knew it was wrong and yet something inside me proceeded to tell my colleagues, Victoria and Kate, that I too had a packet of Qwin-oh-ah at home that i was going to attempt to cook with.

Now of course all you clued up foodie/hip people out there know that the actual pronunciation of this Quinoa is Keen-Wah! WTF!? Qwin-oh-ah is a much better phonetic way of saying this grains name!!

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I found out yesterday that this grain/seed has been the staple food for Peru and other such countries but because of the increasing popularity among “celebrity chefs” the demand on this super food has increased that much that the staple food that once was, is no longer. Now, this did make me feel a little bad about buying a packet of $3 pre-flavoured quinoa from the shops – well, that was until I ate it. OMG delicious! This is going to become a staple food for my husband an I, however, I will just be buying the unflavoured bags in the future as this one was WAY too salty!

It was too easy to cook, it felt amazing as you ate it and it didn’t leave us feeling one ounce bloaty! Friends of mine had apparently been eating this super food for some time  – which lead me to ask the question “which rock have I been hiding under not to know about this delicious, versatile, super food?” and more importantly “why is this a super food?”

Nutritional Value:
Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations.[15] Today, people appreciate quinoa for its nutritional value. Quinoa has been called a superfood.[14] Protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Quinoa’s protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats.[27] Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.[28][29][30] Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.[31] Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.[32]Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content.[33] In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat.[34] This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the seeds, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa
Another great positive for this “super food” is that it is actually delicious and Gluten Free! Now there is not much out there on the market that is good for you and delicious at the same time, ESPECIALLY being gluten free!!!

I started browsing the search engines for more information on this super seed, I wanted to know recipes, could I get it all year round? I was consumed with finding the right way to cook the small round seed. Then is dawned on me…….just put your own twist on this!! So that’s what I did. I marinated two large de boned chicken thighs in lemon juice, oil and fresh thyme for about 30-50 minutes (the chicken started turning white), i roasted my favourite veggies and cooked up this Quinoa for the first time ever. You can find the very straight forward yet amazingly awesome recipe under Chicken.

Thank you world for allowing us to par take in eating this beautiful and delicate seed that is not only going to enrich my life health wise, but has opened up more doors for my cooking adventures to follow!

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Lovely Lasagne

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Last night I attempted my first ever lasagne. Pretty crazy considering I’m 28 years old and I love cooking all different things but I think that is where I was at with a good old, trusty, winter warming lasagne. To me it was just boring.

I have watched my husband on a couple of occasions attempt this mean feat of a lasagne where he has had the meat and sauce bubbling away for hours, the white sauce is measured to perfection and tweaked and sprinkled with nutmeg and only the best parmesan cheese was to be used! My darling husband does not react well when things he makes goes wrong. I have told him on so many different occasions that I am the cook of the house and he is the baker! I have NO patience what so ever to measure out exact amounts of flour to ratio’s of sugar or even to the point of separating egg yolks from whites…….but I can however create a wonderfully tasty, satisfying and amazing dish from taste testing the whole way through and making it my own.

So last night I decided to take on the lasagne. Reason, if I’m completely honest, was that I needed something to cook all afternoon to warm my house up and we had both lamb and Angus beef mince in the freezer so I was already winning!

I defrosted the mince and chopped up the onion and garlic. I just LOVE the smell of frying onion and garlic together so delicious and gets those sense tingling! In went the meat and following that pretty much everything else! I measured the wine out at one cup and then decided it could do with a glug more – this was after I had had a glass to myself!! I simmered it away until all the liquid had disappeared and I made my white sauce along side on the stove top.  

I used gluten free lasagne sheets which was lovely but needed more cooking time and therefore I would just suggest using normal sheets unless your gluten intolerant and if that’s the case leave a little more liquid in the sauce it’s self so I can cook through!

I added a whole bag of baby spinach and wilted that down in the meat mixture as I knew Brad would decline veggies with his lasagne.

It was pretty delicious and I’m pleased I can now add lasagne to my repertoire!!

You will find the recipe under Soups, breads and pastas tab J

Work Lunches

When it’s summer here in Australia its so easy to dig into a great salad with some fresh prawns or even a bbq’d chicken. Sometimes all you want is a fruit salad, but in winter all that healthy, refreshing, wonderfully fresh eating goes out of the window when we start craving, warm, satisfying, tastes naughty, kind of food.

Trying to get my wedding, love weight off (i have put on around 12 kilos in 4 years of being with my wonderful hubby) the last thing i want to do is fall into that trap of comfort eating through winter. You can’t get away from the cravings but I am managing to stay away from the trusty toasted sandwich with great soup recipes to satisfy that need.

I have just added into my pasta, soup and bread tab a beautiful and SUPER easy carrot and ginger soup. This soup came about because I had an abundance of carrots in my fridge and they were about to turn.

It’s thick, scrummy and all about healthy and flavour! Give it a whirl!

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