Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Noodles with veggies and stuff

In the pursuit of using up everything in my food cupboard, I stumble across some Thai rice noodles.
They are wheat and gluten free, and even the packaging looks inviting.
Combine them with courgette, broccoli and vegetarian sate in peanut sauce and you have yourself an excellent dinner.

One packet of Thai rice noodles
One head of broccoli
One courgette
One packet of vegetarian 'sate' in peanut sauce
One tablespoon vegetable oil

Slice the courgette into 3mm slices, toss in oil and add a bit of salt
Heat up a griddle pan and grill the courgette slices - I usually grill on each side for 2.5 minutes
In the meantime, heat up some water in a pot and add the broccoli
Boil for maximum 8 - 10 minutes, nice and tender but not overcooked
Heat up the sate in peanut sauce for about 5 minutes
Once the broccoli is done, cook the noodles for 3 minutes
When everything is cooked, combine all ingredients and mix it all up together
Serve and enjoy.

You will definitely be pleasantly surprised by this dish - I was!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Pumpkin, carrot and ginger soup - interesting, no?

So I didn't quite make it to the supermarket today... that meant improvising.
Soup for dinner seemed like the easiest thing to do.
In fact, I believe that you can make soup from just about any vegetable.
Today I had some pumpkin and carrots and my husband got childlike excited when I mentioned that the soup is going to be quite orange.

1.5 cups pumpkin
2 cups carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 litre vegetable stock
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
some finely grated ginger

Finely dice the onion and the garlic
Heat the oil and then saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until softened
Peel the carrots and the pumpkin and chop into roughly the same size pieces
Grate the ginger (not much is needed) and make some vegetable stock (I use a cube for about a litre of water)
Add the carrots, pumpkin and ginger to the pan and saute for a minute, then add the vegetable stock.
Let it simmer away for about 30 minutes until the carrots are nice and soft
Blend and serve up with some lovely wholewheat rolls.

This recipe made one bowl each for the three of us... and next time I will double the ingredients so that there is enough for a second helping.

Note: I only used ginger since I happen to have some in the house. In fact, I am not sure if ginger really works with the rest of the ingredients but my husband seemed to really like it. Use it, don't use it - you decide!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Fish & Chips... straight from the freezer

I am really a very lazy cook. Especially when my husband is not home for dinner...
Tonight is raid the freezer night.
And the freezer delivered fish and chips, just pop it into the oven.
It will be ready in 20 minutes and served with a side salad.
Sounds pretty good to me.

1. Oven baked frozen fish - any kind and as many pieces as you want, I will be having only one piece tonight and not only is it a crumbed fish fillet but there is also a tomato and mozzarella sauce inside.
2. Oven baked chips - a handful or two should be enough. I prefer 'Oma Frites' since they are quite chunky.
3. The usual suspects for a side salad. Lettuce, tomato, some green olives which I found in the fridge, half a red onion and anything else you feel like adding.

You might have noticed that capsicum (a.k.a red / green / yellow peppers or in the Netherlands known as paprika) is absent from most meals I make. It is quite deliberate.
I don't like them, thus I don't eat them.
However, that does not stop you from enjoying them in your salad or with your meal.

Switch on the oven to about 220 degrees Celsius (or as per the instructions on the packaging).
Place the fish and chips in an oven dish and bake for 15 -20 minutes.
While the oven is doing the hard work, take out a sharp knife and make a salad.
Season and serve with the fish and chips once it comes out of the oven.

Note - do be careful with sharp knives. I have been watching Masterchef Australia and couldn't believe how many of the contestants cut themselves accidentally!
Easy does it.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Japanese style string beans

We recently were invited for lunch by my good friend Catherine and her lovely family. She made a delicious vegan feast just for us and one of the dishes was japanese style beans.

It is really good and makes a great addition to any meal.

Here is her recipe. It turned out just a tasty as I remembered.

"You need to go to a TOKO and in the Japanese section buy some toasted sesame seeds. They come in thin packets approximately 12cm x 8cm.  About 2 heaped desert spoons are needed - place in pestle & mortar and crush a bit until there is some powder, some large chunks and some whole ones. Then add about a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, a level teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons (30ml) of soy sauce, and the same of water. Cook the beans as required (I boil for 4-5 minutes), drain, cool...then add dressing. Voila!"

This dish can be served hot or cold - versatile and delicious!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pumpkin & Feta Risotto

I love making this risotto. It is one of my very favourite dishes.
We first had it at my friend Tip's  house. She loves entertaining and is always serving us delicious food and baked goods.

This week I was unable to find butternut in the supermarket so I bought a nice little orange pumpkin and it worked really well. However, if you can find it then I suggest you use butternut.

One shallot or medium sized white onion and one clove of garlic
Two to three tablespoons of safflower oil
Two teaspoons ground cinnamon
Butternut / pumpkin (I used about two thirds of a medium sized pumpkin)
200 gram Risotto Rice (Arborio or whatever you prefer)
700 ml Vegetable stock
100 gram Feta cheese (feel free to use more since Feta cheese is very more-ish)
Chives - a handful will do
These ingredients is enough to feed two hungry adults.

Switch on the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius.
Peel the pumpkin and chop it up into even bite sized pieces.
Place in an ovenproof dish or roasting tin and drizzle some oil over the pumpkin.
Add the cinnamon and mix through the pumpkin - use your hands if necessary.
Place in the oven to roast for 30 - 40 minutes (this depends on the size of the pumpkin pieces and your oven)

While the pumpkin is roasting away and your kitchen becomes filled with the gorgeous aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon, start working on the rest of the dish. Try and time it so that your pumpkin comes out of the oven before the risotto rice is cooked.

Chop the onion and garlic finely.
Heat up the oil and add the onion and garlic.
Saute for a minute or two until the onion softens.
Add the risotto rice and stir for two minutes until it becomes translucent.
(follow the instructions on the risotto rice packaging - they all differ slightly so do what you know works best for you)
Add the vegetable stock bit by bit while stirring continuously.
On a medium heat simmer the rice for about 17 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and remember to stir every minute or two. Also add more liquid if you see that the rice is becoming too dry.
Taste to check that the rice is cooked as you like it - arborio rice tends to be a little chewy.

Now chop the Feta cheese into little bite sized pieces.
Add both the Feta and pumpkin to the risotto rice and mix well.
Serve onto plates and add the chives on top.
I usually cut the chives with my kitchen scissors - snip, snip, snip. Trust me, the chives are an essential ingredient since it just brings the whole dish together.

It might sound like a tedious dish to make, what with all the stirring involved in cooking a risotto. You will be surprised at how easy it is and even if you do find it tedious then just keep your eye on the prize and know that this meal is a real reward at the end of the day.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The lazy dinner

Sometimes you just need to make something that requires no effort at all.
The most strenuous activity should be opening the packaging.
Here's last night's dinner: Vegetarian fillets with potatoes and asparagus.
I bought the potatoes already peeled and sliced - how is that for lazy.

4 Vegetarian fillets stuffed with spinach
A bag of 500 gr peeled and sliced potatoes
Asparagus - trimmed and ready for cooking
safflower oil - probably 2 tablespoons, maybe more

Switch the oven on (200 degrees Celsius)
Drizzle some oil on the potatoes, season and pop into the oven for 30 minutes
Place the asparagus in a oven proof dish. Drizzle oil and add a pinch of sea salt. Place into the oven about 15 to 20 minutes.
Lastly, add the vegetarian fillets to the oven for about 10 minutes
Dinner should be ready in 30 minutes - not very exciting but oh so easy.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Vegetarian 'bolognese' pasta

The plan was to make some soup for dinner.
The plan changed at about 5:30pm.
Pasta just felt like a better idea, plus I had some quorn (vegetarian mince) that was about to expire. Lately I am making a real effort to eat the stuff in my fridge before they expire.
I am guilty of wasting a lot of food and that has to stop.

So, back to the pasta.
This is kind of like a bolognese sauce, but vegetarian.

One packet of quorn
One onion
One carrot
One courgette
A handful of mushrooms
One jar of Jamie Oliver pasta sauce - tomato & chilli
One tin of chopped tomatoes with garlic
One tablespoon of safflower oil
One teaspoon sugar
Seasoning (salt & pepper)
250 gram penne pasta

Dice the onion, carrot and mushrooms then grate the courgette.
Heat up the oil in a large pot or casserole dish.
Add the onion, stir for a few minutes until softened.
Add the carrots, mushrooms, quorn and courgette. Stir together and then add the pasta sauce and tomatoes.
Remember to season and also add a litlle bit of sugar, if necessary.
Bring to the boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
While the sauce simmers away, make the pasta.
I usually add pasta to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until al dente.

Once everything is cooked, drain the pasta and combine with the sauce.
Last but not least - enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bijenkorf blues

Now I remember why I avoid the Bijenkorf (a Dutch department store).
I want just about everything I see in there.
Of course I cannot actually afford much since I haven't had a salary in two months...  at least looking is free.

For a few minutes I was in appliance heaven.

Then I remembered :
1. I already have a super cool food processor (thanks again Dad!)
2. My kitchen is so small that even if I wanted more gadgets there would be absolutely no place to put them.

Like a good girl I left the Bijenkorf empty handed, albeit a little blue.

It's a wrap!

Tortilla wraps stuffed with salad and mozzarella sticks... delicious.

Easy and fun for the adults and kids alike.
Although the main ingredients for Heidi's wrap were chicken and ketchup. All that matters is she ate it!

Salad leaves, tomato (sliced), cucumber (finely sliced), one red onion, bean sprouts, sun dried tomatoes
(I suggest using any vegetables you have in the fridge or even in a can - peppers would definitely go well with this dish)
Tortilla wraps (bought from my local Rio de Bio)
Sweet chilli sauce
Variety of vegetarian 'sticks' - I used a sweet chilli filled as well as mozzarella sticks

Preheat the oven as per the instructions on the vegetarian food container. Once the oven is ready, heat up your vegetarian sticks - I popped mine in for about 10 mins at 200 degrees Celsius.
In the mean time slice up the salad leaves, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, etc.
Heat up the wraps in the microwave as per the instructions on the packet.
Serve up with the sauces - fill the wraps with whatever you like!
Yummy yum yum.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Banana, honey and peanut butter toast

My favourite breakfast is toast.
Toast with jam, toast with eggs, toast with cheese...
But my favourite topping of the year has to be banana, honey and peanut butter.
It is sweet and delicious and healthy too.

Needless to say this is a very child friendly breakfast - Heidi loves it and is always very eager to scatter the banana slices on the toast. She also tries to spread the peanut butter with her Ikea plastic knife but more often than not she ends up eating it straight from the jar.

2 slices of wholewheat toast
margarine (optional)
a tablespoon or two of peanut butter per toast
one banana
a drizzle or two of honey

Spread the peanut butter on the toast
Slice the banana and place the banana slices on the toast. Scatter them, make a pattern, get your kids to help.
Drizzle the honey on top of the bananas and enjoy your breakfast.

Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day :-)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rhubarb muffins on a Sunday afternoon

Walking around the local grocery store I came across some rhubarb.
I am ashamed to admit that I have never used rhubarb before today. Growing up in South Afica where there is an abundance of exotic fruit, rhubarb just never featured.
So, standing in the Albert Heijn, I decided to buy rhubarb and use it for the very first time.

Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time browsing the Internet looking for recipe ideas.
It was hard deciding what to make but eventually I decided upon muffins.
I found a Jamie Oliver recipe and modified it to work with what I had in the house.

Here is a link to the original recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins

Here is my version... slightly tweaked.

• 350g whole wheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 325g dark brown sugar
• teaspoon lemon juice
• 250ml long life milk
• zest of 1 orange
• 1 piece of stem ginger, finely grated
• 1 large egg,
• 100g butter plus 1 tablespoon extra, melted
• 300g rhubarb, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line a muffin tray with muffin cases.

In a small pan, heat up the rhubarb with a little bit of boiling water and some sugar. Only for a minute or two. Drain excess water and let it cool down.

In a large mixing bowl place the flour, baking powder, salt and 225g of the brown sugar. Mix, then make a well in the centre.

Add the lemon juice into the milk and set aside for a couple of minutes. Place the orange zest, half the stem ginger, the egg, 100g of melted butter and the milk mixture into the bowl and beat thoroughly. Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling each one to the top.

In a small bowl place the remaining 100g of brown sugar, the extra tablespoon of melted butter and the rest of the stem ginger. Mix until it looks like a crumble topping, then sprinkle over the muffins. (I didnt quite manage to make it into a crumble topping... But it melted just fine on top)

Bake for 25 minutes so the sugar turns golden and crispy and the muffins are cooked through. Serve warm with custard or crème fraîche for a lovely pudding.

The batter yielded 18 medium sized muffins. They were delicious.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Smoked Tofu and Basmati Rice

Yet another excellent way to use vegetables.
Stir fry them!

I am not that good at stir fries so my husband usually 'assists'.
Its teamwork - I slice and dice vegetables and put on the rice, he does the stirring and the frying.

Tonight we had vegetable stir fry with smoked tofu. It was very tasty.
To tell the truth... Tofu does not really appeal to me. But prepared well it is a great addition to the meal. Smoked Tofu is definitely the way to go.

Basmati rice
Brown mushrooms, one red onion, tauge (bean sprouts), Chinese cabbage, one 'slab' of smoked tofu, 3 carrots, one cup of pineapple pieces
One tablespoon safflower oil
One tablespoon soy sauce
One tablespoon sweet chili sauce
Seasoning (salt & pepper)
Optional: Add a delicious vegetarian spring roll

Firstly, make the basmati rice. I usually make enough to serve three people - just follow the instructions on the box. I add the rice to boiling water, simmer on medium heat for 8 minutes then drain the water. Let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes and its ready to serve.

Heat up the spring rolls - any which way you like. I popped 4 cooked spring rolls into a preheated oven for about 10 minutes and timed it to be ready with the stir fry.

Slice the mushrooms and chop up the rest of the veggies and tofu
Heat the oil in a wok pan (if you have one, if not then just use a regular pan)
Add the onions and stir fry until slightly soft
Add the carrots, add the mushrooms, add the pineapple, add the tofu
Add the soy sauce, seasoning and sweet chili sauce
Stir fry for a few minutes then add the Chinese cabbage and lastly the bean sprouts.
Stir fry until the veggies are tender but not overcooked.

Serve with the basmati rice and enjoy!

Next time I think I might add some peanuts or cashew nuts...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Leek and Celeriac soup

Soup is good.
It is easy and healthy.
Some days it is the only way I can get Heidi to eat her vegetables. She loves her soup and I love it when she eats vegetables.

Celeriac is an interesting vegetable.
Let's face it. It is ugly.
You almost feel sorry for it.
Even the teenager working behind the till in the supermarket didn't know what it was...
Don't let its looks deter you from using it though, it is great in soup or roasted or mash it with potatoes for an excellent twist on mash potatoes.

Here is my recipe for leek and celeriac soup.
Try it, modify it, do whatever you like but have some soup!

One big leek, one celeriac, two cloves of garlic, 3 carrots, one medium sized potatoe
600 ml vegetable stock
Seasoning (Salt & pepper)
One tablespoon of safflower oil

Peel the celeriac and carrots, wash the leek.
Chop up the vegetables in even sized chunks - don't let the celeriac sit peeled too long since it will colour.
In a large pot (I use my casserole dish) heat up the oil and add the leek. Stir for a minute or two.
Add the carrots, celeriac and seasoning.
Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
Let it simmer covered for 40 to 50 minutes.
Once all the veggies are soft and the lovely aroma fills your kitchen, let it cool down slightly and then blend. I use a handblender - it should become silky smooth.

Serve with delicious wholewheat bread.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Roast vegetable couscous

I have a big box of couscous and I'm gonna use it.
Mix some roast vegetables and couscous and voila! dinner is served.

One courgette, one eggplant, 4 carrots, some brown mushrooms, one onion, two garlic cloves and pine nuts
Seasoning - salt, pepper, dried herbs, fresh herbs - whatever tickles your fancy and happens to be nearby
Couple of tablespoons of safflower oil
(The ingredients above make enough for two adults and some leftovers - adjust as needed, depending on how many mouths you have to feed.)

Chop the vegetables and toss them in some oil.
Place in an ovenproof dish, season and roast until tender. I usually roast my veggies at 200 degrees Celsius for about 50 minutes.
Prepare the couscous as per the instructions on the box.
I use the 'ready in five minutes' type - it is dead simple. Just boil some water, add the amount of couscous based on your needs and bring it back to boiling point. Remove from the heat, drain excess water and then leave covered for about 5 minutes.
Once the veggies are ready mix them into the couscous and add the pine nuts.

This dish can be served hot or cold.

If you want to serve it as a salad then let everything cool down and mix later. I suggest adding some raisins to give a bit of sweetness to the salad.

It is also a great accompaniment to meat - for example, serve it as a side dish at a barbecue, or with some roast chicken.

Of course my three year old daughter isn't quite into couscous, thus Dora pasta was on the menu for her. Too cute for words.

To end our meal tonight I made an apple crumble with rolled oats.
Sweet ending.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Purple rain, purple rain

It's becoming a theme for me.
Finding pretty flowers along the way.
Heidi had her 'dance' class yesterday so I took Stella for a stroll while waiting for the class to end.
I walked past the most beautiful purple flowers.

I have a Prince song playing in my head.

Purple rain, purple flowers and gray skies today.

Cheating... Just a little bit

Pasta is definitely a weakness of mine.
Since my huband wasn't home for dinner, I decided to cheat.
Bring on the dairy and some bacon while I'm at it.

My version of oven baked "macaroni" and cheese:
250gr penne
Small tub of sour cream
2 eggs
100gr grated cheese
As many strips of streaky bacon as you like
The ingredients above are enough to serve 2 adults and one child.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Boil the penne until al dente
Whisk the eggs and sour cream together, add some seasoning (salt, pepper, whatever!)
Drain the pasta and put it into an ovenproof dish
Pour the egg mixture over the pasta
Sprinkle the cheese on top and mix some into the pasta
Lastly, layer the bacon on top and pop into the oven for 20 mins to half an hour, until the egg mixture sets

While the pasta is baking you can put together a quick salad to serve with the pasta. I just use the usual suspects - lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onions.

My little princess loves this pasta dish... Especially with some tomato ketchup on the side.
Tomorrow I will be good again (promises, promises).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Beans in tomato sauce on toast

My current favorite lunch is beans on toast.

Open a can of Heinz Beans in Tomato Sauce.
Pop two slices of wholewheat bread in the toaster.
Heat up the beans in the microwave.
Generously dish the beans over the toast.

Gotta love the simplicity and goodness of beans!

Flowers on the way

Walking my daughter to her playgroup on a Wednesday morning.
Makes me happy.
Even though we often rush like crazy because dressing a three year old is not quite as easy as I'd like it to be.
Here are some flowers I came across on the way back home.

Flower power is exactly what I need today.
Oh, and some inspiration on what to make for dinner of course.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Chocolate Guinness Cake... need I say more?

This post is dedicated to my sister in law, Deirdre.
A long time vegetarian and fellow lover of food.

While browsing through a Delicious magazine, I came across this chocolate guinness cake recipe. It haunted me. I had to make it. It turned out pretty good.

I love this magazine, they are really making an effort to include more vegetarian recipes. Have a look at the Delicious Magazine website.
Here is a link to the recipe: Chocolate Guinness Cake

Ironically I did not use Guinness in my version of the cake... the supermarket didn't have any and the liquor store was already closed. So I just grabbed a brown beer in the supermarket which looked similar to Guinness. Bit of a risk but it worked really well.
Of course a friend pointed out to me later that I live around the corner from an Irish Pub.
Yes, how did I miss the obvious? I do not know...

This cake tasted even better the next day, so if you can resist, then wait a day before eating it. Your patience will be rewarded. Trust me.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Monday night pitas

Definitely the best way to start the week - make something easy.
Pita bread stuffed with salad and vegetarian 'meat'.
It's healthy and really simple.

Wholemeal Pita breads
Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, avocado
Vegetarian gyros (bought this at the health store - aka fake meat)

Pop the pitas in the toaster. Really.
Heat up the fake meat.
Slice the veggies.

To serve just stuff the pitas with above mentioned ingredients. I suggest a dash of sweet chilli sauce on top. Lekker.

Vegetarian "Lancashire" Hotpot

Food is an obsession for me. It makes me so incredibly happy at times, and so incredibly frustrated too.
How does one remain trim while there are so many glorious food temptations out there?

In my constant quest for new dinner ideas, I made an excellent vegetarian hotpot. Very easy and very tasty.

Vegetables, lots of vegetables...
I used a head of broccoli, 2 white onions, a clove of garlic, one fennel bulb, 4 carrots and 700 grams of peeled potatoes
about 500ml of vegetable stock from a cube
a splash of soy sauce
a tablespoon or two of safflower oil
a tablespoon of maizena (cornstarch) mixed with cold water
seasoning (salt, pepper, dried herbs from my cupboard)

Heat the oven to about 180 degrees Celsius.
Then start by gently frying the onion and garlic (which I chopped finely) in a casserole dish.
Add the rest of the vegetables (roughly chopped) and keep two thirds of the potatoes for the topping.
Add the stock and let it simmer away on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
While the veggies are simmering, slice the potatoes (or if you have the tools, feed them through a vegetable slicer) in to thin round discs. I would say about 3 - 5 mm thick at most.
Add the maizena mixture and stir the stock until it thickens up.
Dont forget to season the veggies.
Take your pot (casserole dish or whatever) off the heat and arrange the sliced potatoes on top. Make a pattern, or not.
Gently brush some oil on top of the potatoes, add some more seasoning. Then pop it into the oven, without the lid.
Leave it in there until the potatoes on top are cooked and starting to brown.  This can be anything from 45 mins to an hour.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

This recipe can be made with any vegetables you have in the house...  and if you dont feel like potatoes as a topping then a nice doughy crust (ready made pastry) is pretty good too. Experiment and adjust to your taste, that is after all part of the pleasure of cooking.

A first time for everything


Inspires me and makes me so happy.

I had to write about it, share my experiences and recipes with anyone who cares to listen.
Needless to say, I am new to blogging so please be patient with me.

What shall I make for dinner? The question I mull about endlessly throughout the day.
My husband and I are trying to be healthy and lose some weight.
Cut out the meat and diary products.

Easier said than done.

I can but try...
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