Posts Tagged ‘food’
I had a pretty heavy post planned for today, but have decided to put it off for now. Enjoy the sweetness and light…
It’s easy to succumb to fast food when you’re busy, stressed and pressed for time. But seriously. Here are three takeaway foods you can just as easily make at home; it’ll taste better – and be better for you.
Tomato paste/puree/sauce – or BBQ sauce – or whatever you prefer
Toppings of choice (suggestions: mushrooms/tomatoes/pineapple/capsicum/salami/ham/cheese
I think everyone makes their dough slightly differently. A friend uses self-raising flour and milk in hers (???!!!). But you can’t go wrong with a basic dough of flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil. Don’t forget the oil! It gives it a nice smooth texture and will make it easier to knead and roll out.
Start with the dough, and once you’ve got your bases ready, smear them with tomato paste. Arrange your cut-up toppings over the top, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes or until cooked – when bases crisp up and toppings are bubbling.
Tip: shake things up by mixing a couple different kinds of cheeses, or new vegetable combinations – I’m a big fan of eggplant on pizza.
- Burger patties (or if you’ve got minced meat on hand, mix with an egg and a little flour and make your own)
Sauce of choice (tomato, BBQ, aioli, mayonnaise…)
Vegetables of choice (lettuce, tomato, beetroot…)
There are really only two steps. Cook patty, then assemble.
To make it a little more interesting, try adding a fried egg, hash brown, bacon strips, or some caramelised onions.
- Corn chips
Beans (red kidney, black, or a mix of types)
Brown the mince. Add in the tomatoes and beans, bring to a boil, then simmer until the mixture thickens. I like to add a few squirts of pure ketchup into the mix, and sometimes a dash of paprika, cayenne or chili powder.
Take it to the next level with toppings: sour cream, cheese, spring onions, fresh herbs. You win.
What fast foods do you recreate at home?
Tags: cooking, food, recipes
Believe it or not, I did not used to like any of the following vegetables. But I’ve seen the light. And I’m including a recipe for each to whet your appetite.
My brother still refuses to touch this beautiful vegetable. What he calls slimy, I call succulent.
This Smitten Kitchen recipe for roasted eggplant with tomatoes is ace (I don’t like mint so exchange it for other herbs).
Until recently, I only ever ate carrot when grated up into a coleslaw (or perhaps a couple of carrot sticks at a time, coated liberally in hummus or dip).
But my absolute favourite way to enjoy them now? Roasted, of course. You can’t go past a tray of succulent veggies crackling away in the oven. The Perfect Pantry suggests sea salt, EVOO and balsamic vinegar to accompany along the journey.
Beans and chickpeas
It took me until my 20s to discover the likes of couscous, chickpeas and beans. Really.
Rachael Ray’s chickpea salad with celery and capsicum is a quick way to get some legumes into your belly. But I suggest you add a soft cheese. Cheese makes everything better.
Are there any foods you converted to late in life?
A tad extravagant for a Saturday lunch? Perhaps…
I’ll be honest: duck doesn’t really do it for me. It was the veggies – mushrooms, onions and basil – that I really wolfed down. And the sauce! Oh, the sauce. After a couple of wildly unsuccessful guesses, T shared with me exactly what went into it:
- Tomato paste
- A dash of oyster sauce (yes, really)
How about you – are you a duck fan?
It’s funny how your eating habits as a child can shape your eating habits as an adult. I’ve grown to like certain vegetables I would previously never have touched with a barge pole (a subject for an upcoming post…) but by and large my tastes have remained the same. I don’t do green salads and I don’t really know how to deal with solid hunks of meat (we grew up eating stirfries). I think rice pudding and bread and butter pudding are two of the strangest concepts ever. And I’m just not into raw foods in general. At all.
We didn’t eat a lot of pork, either, but it’s something I’ve gotten more used since to living with T. That boy could eat bacon every day, but he also loves crackling, pork chops and roast. I’ll willingly go along with it, as long as he’s cooking – though as I’ve learned, pork can substitute for other meat in practically any dish (here’s one site to bookmark if you’re ever looking for pork recipes).
An interesting aside: pork cuts are getting new names in the US, ostensibly to lift flagging sales. (I don’t think we have the same problem here, as I haven’t seen any NZ Pork ads recently, though Beef + Lamb seems to be doing a bit of a push.) Personally, I always make a beeline for the leanest, cleanest ones – when you’re as noobish of a cook as I am, simple is best.
Are there any foods you’ve learned to like over time?
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there’s nothing shameful about admitting the truth. RIGHT?
T outcooks me in every possible way. He even makes better Chinese food than I do.
All I can really say is: Noodles. Mushrooms. Beef strips. Garlic. Spring onions. Coriander. And some kind of sauce (play around with soy/oyster sauce/fish sauce/vinegar/cornflour?).
Sorry to those of you who like detailed recipes, but we’re both pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants types, especially T. I don’t understand how he can just conjure up meals out of nowhere. Just like I don’t understand people who can bust out amazing musical solos off the cuff. Maybe it’s a skill that can be learned, but I think I’ll leave it up to him.
Also, what am I gonna call this series once we’re married? Husband in the kitchen just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have lingering linguistic issues with the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, so it may take me a while to adjust to them. Then again, I imagine we won’t be doing much impressive cooking on the road, so there’s a while to figure it out.
Tags: food, recipes
I like to batch recipes. Got a bunch that use lots of the same ingredients? Group ‘em and make them all in the same week or month.
With the end of summer fast approaching, I thought it was high time I got onto all the berry/lemon baked treats lying neglected in my Delicious folder.
Mini blueberry cream cheese tartlets
His words, not mine. Because third-party validation always carries more weight.
I was pretty sure that this was going to bomb from the very start. For one, I didn’t have anywhere near enough fruit, so I cut Poor Girl Eats Well’s recipe by about 2/3 and turned this into mini tarts/bites rather than a pie. (Things usually go haywire when I do this). I eyeballed everything, more or less, and totally winged the pastry part. It seemed way too wet for its own good, and came out a little delicate and crumbly, but overall, a win. Here’s the original recipe.
For the crust
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
For the cream cheese filling
- 250ml package of cream cheese (normal or spreadable, softened)
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the blueberry topping
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1/2 c sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix flour and baking powder in one bowl. Separately, cream butter and sugar.
Add the flour gradually, then press dough into muffin tins.
Bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Remove and set aside to cool (I actually popped them in the fridge briefly.)
Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese in a food processor until it’s soft and pliable, then add condensed milk and give it another whirl until incorporated. Finally, add the lemon juice.
For the blueberry filling: Combine the cornflour and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix. Then, in a saucepan, cook the berries and sugar over medium heat until the berries start to release their juices and break down slightly. Add the lemon-cornflour slurry and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the berry mixture starts to thicken. Remove and set aside in a bowl to cool completely.
Once the crust is cooled, pour in the cream cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (I skipped this second step).
Finally, spoon the cooled berry mixture over the top to make a pretty layer. Cover and refrigerate again until ready to serve (or just dive in, like me!) at which point you can add extra fresh berries (I didn’t have room on the tarts, nor did I miss them).
Frugal factor: average. I happened to already have condensed milk at home, but berries ain’t cheap (I don’t know about where you live, but a cup’s worth runs me about $3, and can’t be found out of season at all. Still a big ouch value-wise, but hey, we live to eat, not vice versa), nor is cream cheese.
Lemon berry yoghurt slice
Molly at These Little Moments made this loaf last year. I gave it a spin this month. Just look at that glorious glaze atop it!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I skipped this)
- 2 containers of 5.3oz organic Greek yoghurt (I kind of guessed at the amount here, and tipped in all the yoghurt left in the container)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs (I used two; after the yoghurt, it seemed plenty moist enough)
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used a little less; again the mixture was pretty wet)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a small loaf pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
In another bowl, whisk yoghurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet.
Fold in the oil, then mix in the berries.
Pour into pan, and bake for about 50 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
Once the cake is done, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. The glaze went solid as I made it right after putting the baking tin into the oven, so I heated it up again at the end to re-liquefy it in order to pour over
Frugal factor: high. You don’t need many berries for this one, and you probably have everything else in the pantry (plain yoghurt might be the only one that trips you up).
Blueberry butter cake
I actually started my berry craze with this cake recipe found via the Joy of Caking. I also wanted to make this buttermilk bundt by Smitten Kitchen (mainly because bundt is an awesome word!) but quite honestly, it looked too hard and this cake seemed pretty close.
I am, sadly, a poor excuse for a food stylist. Rest assured that despite the presentation (I have never been able to make pretty food – this cake was lopsided, for goodness sake) it was moist and palate-pleasing.
- 1 cup of butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Generously grease your cake tin.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and milk until well mixed (I used our food processor).
Add flour and baking powder, then the vanilla extract.
Pour half of the batter into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle blueberries on top. Pour remaining batter over the berries.
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from pan.
Frugal factor: high. Just the basics of baking ingredients, plus half a container of sour cream and a punnet of blueberries (expensive, as above).
Got any berrytastic recipes to share?
Tags: baking, food, recipes
While I groan every week when grocery shopping time rolls around, I actually kind of enjoy taking my time to browse through the pickings and selecting stuff myself, especially fresh produce. And although it’s a pain, making an extra stop to take advantage of the crazy cheap Asian markets is always worth it (of which there are many in my neighbourhood).
That’s why I’ve always shunned online grocery shopping and home delivery boxes. But after the launch of My Food Bag, fronted by MasterChef’s Nadia Lim (just to be clear, I haven’t tried it myself) I’ve been rethinking that stance.
Background: My Food Bag provides delivery of ingredients and recipes for 5 dinners to your door. I don’t think My Food Bag is for me at this stage; it only has two options: a gourmet option for couples at $139 a week (which is just over our entire weekly grocery budget) and a ‘classic’ option for families of four at $179. Side note: I’m pretty sure we will never be able to afford to procreate.
But what about fruit and veggie delivery boxes? Would that make life easier and help during those food ruts we all fall into?
We have a ton of companies providing this kind of service in Auckland. Here’s a few from Google:
Ooooby: Has about eight different kinds of fruit/veggie boxes. The one we’d probably use would be the $28 original box with five veggies and three fruits
Produce Delivered: Has about four types of packs. We’d probably use the couples pack, which is $30
Foodbox: Does about five varieties. We’d probably use the Appetiser, which is $33
Mobile Produce: Does about eight packs. We’d probably get either the $20 singles pack or $30 combo pack
A couple of misgivings:
- I am incredibly, INCREDIBLY picky about fruit. I eat citrus, apples, bananas, berries, kiwifruit, and melons. That’s about it. Most places allow you to veto certain items, though, which probably eliminates that problem.
- They all sound slightly on the pricey side. I would say we generally spend less than that (the bulk of our grocery budget consists of non-produce, like bread, eggs, cereal, dairy, meat, snacks). But maybe these actually offer quite a lot of vegetables (we definitely don’t buy/eat as many as we could).
Conclusion: Still undecided. Maybe it’s worth a shot – try everything once, right?
Do you use food delivery boxes? What have your experiences been like?
Tags: food, money
Is there anything worse than restaurants that don’t allow you to split the bill?
I was out to yum cha with a group of friends from university the other day – one of those slightly awkward situations where we were all brought together by a central friend, the spoke in the wheel, so to speak. I wouldn’t really have hung out with any of the others of my own volition, but she was our mutual connection and our glue. And it was surprisingly fun.
Come time to leave, we lined up at the counter to settle the account. The person who was up first went to pay her portion (let’s call her H) but after being told the policy was one bill per table, paid for the entire lunch. I had cash because I’d anticipated this might happen, and so did one of the others – yet despite us practically throwing our $20 bills at her, H wouldn’t accept any of it. “You guys can get it next time!”
Only thing is, if there IS a next time, it probably won’t be for another couple of years. I literally had not seen her since graduation.
That said, among those of us there that day, she outearned us all by far. I mean, I don’t know how much she makes, but I would say anywhere from $15-25k more than the best paid among the rest of us (journalists are poor! She may not be using her degree, but she started on a much higher income straight out of uni, and she certainly earns the most money now). In comparison, she’d have been best placed to afford it.
Some of my closer friends often do the same on a smaller scale (picking up a $10 meal or covering a drink or two, that kind of thing). Lunch for four of us, though, would probably have been between $50 and $80 (I wasn’t keeping a close track of what we ordered). I would definitely have accepted the cash.
How big of a tab would you willingly pick up for others? Acquaintances? Close friends?
Tags: food, money, personal finance
The best days of all are the days when you come home to freshly made dinner. All you have to do is sit, chew and swallow. Life’s good.
You’ve probably noticed a bit of a pattern here. The trend is that of meat + veggies – a classic formula.
Here, there’s lamb rack cooked to crispiness, with a fresh salad of capsicum (bell pepper for Americans), red onion, feta, coriander and courgettes.
The courgettes were boiled, and the rest of the veggies rested in some vinegar in lieu of cooking. Mixing through the cooked courgettes = steam for further cooking and an interesting mix of temperatures.
Tags: cooking, food
I used to be an emotional eater. I used to be a whole lot more emotional, really, back when teenage life was just one looooong neverending drama. And to cope, I turned to one of my biggest loves (I don’t know whether food can beat out books, but I suppose given I need one to continue physically existing, it has the edge).
No, these days I’ve become someone completely different. Someone I would probably hate, actually. When I’m super on edge, I’ll do two things: start writing a ranty blog post in my head, then start itching for a run. Yes, a RUN. As in physical exercise, lace on your shoes, foot in front of the other, sweating it out.
While I can’t intellectually understand eating disorders (I mean, I understand psychologically it’s about control, but I cannot imagine ever purposely depriving myself of food. Ever) I can actually imagine becoming somewhat addicted to exercise. The endorphin high really is something. And it feels good after, unlike when you’ve stuffed yourself silly with Tim Tams and feel like making sad whale sounds while curled up on the couch. I often finish up a run feeling I could have gone on for longer, wanting to go on for longer. When I take too long a break between runs, I find myself wondering “Why didn’t I do this before?!” in the first minute after leaving the house. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
That said, I don’t know if I can really call myself much of a runner. I run. But the reality is … Twice a week, if I’m good. More than half an hour, if I’m good. Close to an hour, if I’m REALLY good. Lots of the time I just do a few blocks. I’ve done a couple of 10k races and done well, and I’m sure I have it in me to do longer runs – but as much as I’d like to say I’d done a full or half marathon, I don’t really want to. Proper long distances and me aren’t on super buddy buddy terms.
I try to mix it up and incorporate a sprint into most runs. As T says, I’m kind of fit now that I run regularly. But it’s a fun thing for me; I don’t push myself, because I don’t really want to and I don’t see the need to. I’m keeping it light and enjoyable. Is that such a bad thing? Do you push yourself physically, or do you take exercise pretty casually as well?
But back to food. I still eat for pleasure, but I no longer use it as a comforter or a crutch (though I kind of wanted to this weekend). Over time, I’ve also stopped stuffing myself at dinner time and learned to eat more slowly. It’s a strange feeling, not being uncomfortably full at night (and sometimes I underdo it and find myself hungry again before bed). But it enables me to actually DO things after dinner, rather than being so drained of energy and motivation that I just want to veg out with a book or New Girl before rolling my ass into bed.
Do you have a healthy relationship with food? What did it take for you to get there? And, what’s your exercise style?
Tags: exercise, food, life, reflections