Let the meat free games begin!

Day one of meat free week! Oh the buzz! The excitement! The anticipation! I must say, I had a lot of fun finding recipes for this week (thankyou Blue Mountains Natural Parents for your bevy of wonderful ideas, I really need to figure out how to print that thread!). I’m not sure which night I’m looking forward to the most… which one would you choose?

We have started on a good note. Hurray! Tonight’s Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach was a success. Lots of good noises from Legoman and he even thinks I should make it again (normally I just get a shrug of the shoulders when I ask). Personally I would’ve liked a bit more flavour in there, maybe in the form of anchovies. This was Possum’s first experience of ravioli and she loved it. She even started clapping after her first one! Was pretty darn cute. Wasn’t so cute when she wouldn’t eat any broccoli unless I tore it up into tiny little pieces. Poor thing is still sick though, so I’m just happy she ate.

Possum's Dinner

Possum’s Dinner

The fudgy choc-orange bars I made yesterday are super amazingly yum. Will be making those again for certain! Legoman ate his at work but didn’t want to tell anyone else about them in case they wanted some. A good sign 🙂 It was great being able to eat one of these instead of chocolate when the afternoon came around today. Much more satisfying too, and no yucky feeling like I sometimes get after eating sweets.

Leaning tower of choc fudgy goodness

Leaning tower of choc fudgy goodness

May the good food vibes continue!

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

Affordability : MODERATE – EXCELLENT. The ravioli cost $5 from the local fruit and veg. You could use any ravioli for this dish, a nice pumpkin one would be a winner (though would probably set you back around $10). Half a kilo of broccoli and some frozen spinach are nice and cheap and super healthy.

Time Factor : MODERATE. I thought this sounded quick, but took a bit longer than expected.

Complexity : MODERATE. I really should read a recipe right through before choosing to make it on a weeknight when I have a sick baby at home. This recipe has 22 steps. Yes, 22. After a while I just started staring blankly at my printed page. Thankfully Legoman came home and we finished cooking together. As they say on Sesame Street, things turn out better when we work together.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Legoman’s comment… “You know what this needs? Bacon!”. And he’s right. Some kind of meaty saltiness would really boost this dish. I think anchovies would work better personally. We both really liked the browned cheesy bits on the top. Super tasty.

Mess : MODERATE – HIGH. I felt like this used many pans and bits and pieces. While it was in the oven, we got to work on the dishes. A frypan, a saucepan, a steamer insert, a baking tray, two graters, a whisk. Plus lots of renegade bits of broccoli and spinach sticking to everything.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Full as a tick.

Possum Friendly? YES. I didn’t bother trying to make the white sauce for Possum, instead I just stirred through a teaspoon of cream cheese with two pieces of ravioli (they are big ones) and some broccoli. Pretty tasty combo! You could save time and effort and do the same for the whole dish. Was hoping she would eat some more of the garlicky greens to help make her better, but she thought it was more fun dropping her broccoli over the side of the high chair.

Would I make it again? Yes, but would jazz it up a little bit.

Cheesy Baked Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

Cheesy Baked Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

And I just wanted to share with you this terrible photo of a stick insect. They are bloody hard to take a photo of on your phone!! Kind of looks like he photo bombed the picture!

Stick Man!

Stick Man!

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Meal Plan 22/3 – 28/3 a Meat Free Week Special!!

This week I am attempting a meat free week for my little family, to raise awareness to how much we over consume meat and how easy and delicious it can be to cut down (or out). When I told Legoman what I was doing with our meals this week his first reaction was “I think I’m working late all week….”. Doubt he will be saying that after he sees what we are actually eating. Check out this for a delicious menu!! I’m hungry already!

MONDAY / shower or two 16

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

TUESDAY / a few showers 16

Space Curry

WEDNESDAY / shower or two 17

Veggie Fajitas

THURSDAY / shower or two 18

Cashew Curry

FRIDAY / shower or two 19

Frittata with toast and salad

SATURDAY / no weather forecast available

Pumpkin, Tomato and Lemon Baked Risotto

Tomorrow is my first alone shopping day in a couple of weeks and boy am I looking forward to it! Who would’ve thought grocery shopping could bring so much joy. I might even go and have a coffee. On. My. Own.

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous and a Little Lunch Time Curry

***This is one of my most popular blog posts, so to make life easier… here is the link to the chicken cous cous recipe… CLICK HERE****

Today our wonderful little Possum turned 10 months. Double digits already! They always said it would go faster than a blink of an eye, I never really could comprehend it, but wow. It has gone so fast. Today we celebrate by staying at home, quarantined with snotty noses, hanging out in our flannelette pyjamas. I felt like a mum today, “Come here so I can wipe your nose”. Yup, definitely a mum.

So we needed food to help make us better. Spices, vegetables and garlic were in order!

Lunch was this lovely Broccoli Cauliflower and Pea curry, which was tried and tested before. A possum favourite.

Mum and Possum Lunch

Mum and Possum Lunch

It makes me a happy mumma when Possum gobbled up all the broccoli first.

Broccoli Snot Monster

Broccoli Snot Monster

Dinner tonight was a favourite of mine, Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous. I have spoken before about how wonderful the Leon chain is and their super fantastico cookbooks. This recipe is from the first book (the best of the bunch). It is one I make often when friends are coming over as it’s tasty and simple. This was a good way to use up some of the chicken stock in the fridge that I made last week. I managed to find another blogger today who gushed over Leon with the same amount of love I feel for them… here is her post. It includes the recipe for the couscous. I do a few little tweaks. Instead of raisins or sultanas, I used chopped dates. I also like to add some vegetables in with the couscous. Tonight it was cauliflower and zucchini (chopped kale is another good one). I have made it with wholemeal couscous too which was still very tasty. I made a little blunder tonight and added over a litre of stock instead of just 500ml. It was a bit wet compared to normal but still a great combination of flavours.

Chicken couscous

Chicken couscous

The recipe calls for garlicky tomatoes to be served with it (as well as mint, coriander and pine nuts). All of which I feel are essential to turn a good dinner into an awesome one. To make my life easier, I roasted some sweet potato “wedges” in the same tray for Possum’s dinner (they’re her favourite thing at the moment).

Garlicky Tomatoes

Garlicky Tomatoes

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Cous Cous

Affordability : MODERATE. Uses a whole box of cous cous plus meat and herbs. We have mint in the garden but I had to buy coriander. I managed to score a tray of mini roma tomatoes on quick sale which made this a bit cheaper. I always have a jar of pine nuts so didn’t have to buy some just for tonight. The recipe makes plenty, you will have leftovers for certain.

Time Factor : MODERATE. You will need to peel and chop 10 cloves of garlic all up. A little bit time consuming. A little hint is to squash the cloves with the side of your knife before attempting to peel. This will loosen the skin and make it much easier and faster. The two trays were in the oven for 35 minutes.

Complexity : LOW. A bit of chopping and marinating but fairly straight forward.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Feel good, garlic laden, comfort food. Always a winner. Plus Possum loved it, though she did get a chilli flake on one of her pieces of chicken and wasn’t too happy about it.

Mess : LOW. Two pan wonder. Plus a bowl to marinate the chicken.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. The ratios were a bit off tonight with the stock mix up plus not buying enough chicken. But Lego Man and I were still both pretty full afterwards. We did enjoy a bowl of ice cream with my homemade strawberry jam/syrup on top though.

Possum Friendly? YES. Salt kept low by using homemade stock plus no extra salt added. Spices didn’t seem to be as strong as usual (didn’t measure as I had a baby on my hip at the time) but flavour was lovely. Possum gobbled up her serve, but wasn’t super keen on the cauliflower.

Would I make it again? Yes, most certainly.

Leon's Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza

Gluten free is a label that doesn’t instil alot of confidence in what I’m about to eat. Especially when it’s a baked product, like a pizza base. But making the whole thing grain free, well there’s a novel concept which just makes me curious. I recently bought the I Quit Sugar For Life cookbook, it’s filled with some pretty awesome looking food. But this “pizza” caught my eye, which used cauliflower to make the pizza base. A friend had given this idea a test run a few months back but wasn’t impressed with the outcome. But I just had to try for myself.

The base is made by grating cauliflower (using a food processor or by hand) into “rice” which you then cook. This is then mixed with cheese and an egg then shaped and baked. The grating alone was a pretty satisfying experience. The texture of the cauliflower afterwards was quite unique. The smell of the base cooking was like cauliflower cheese.

Grated Cauliflower

Grated Cauliflower

The recipe in the book makes the pizza a Nicoise like pizza, with toppings of anchovies, tuna, egg, olives, capers, red onion and broccoli. The sauce is a mix of yoghurt and curry powder. It was a bit of a salt overload, and I thought it a bit OTT to see they suggest finishing off the pizza with a bit of salt and pepper. Either way, this is going in the mental bank of cool things to do with cauliflower (that list seems to get longer and longer!).

Voila!

Voila!

I also made a capsicum tabouleh to have on the side which was some fresh lemony relief from the salt of the “pizza”. I was way too full though to appreciate it. One to make another day. We have a great big lot of parsley growing in our garden, so an easy thing to make at the last minute. The recipe uses quinoa instead of cracked wheat. The one thing missing was some kind of onion, thankfully I always have spring onions in the fridge so I chopped one up and chucked it in. Just the right amount.

Capsicum Tabouleh

Capsicum Tabouleh

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza and Capsicum Tabouleh

Affordability : MODERATE. Cauliflower ain’t cheap at the moment! And thankfully I have a well stocked pantry/fridge with plenty of salty condiments.  To make this tonight I only had to buy the cauliflower and broccoli for the pizza and the capsicum for the salad.

Time Factor : MODERATE. If you didn’t have a baby this would be alot faster as you could just plonk yourself in the kitchen for the evening. I took my time and spread out the tasks through the afternoon. The base is a little time consuming with the grating, then cooking the cauliflower, shaping the base then baking the base for 30 minutes. Once baked and topped the pizza is then in the oven for around 10 minutes.

Complexity : MODERATE. Just a bit fiddly and a few steps initially. If you had bigger kids they could help with making the base or topping the pizza.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Was really impressed with how this turned out. Just don’t expect normal pizza. It doesn’t really taste like pizza but it seriously is delicious. The edges of the crust especially. Lego man suggested we make them donut shaped next time to get maximum crust value. I will be suggesting this to my gluten free friends.

Mess : HIGH. As soon as a food processor is involved I just think mess as all of a sudden your sink is full of plastic bits and bobs. The cauliflower managed to wedge itself into the crevices on my food processor too, will need a blade to get it out…

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Oy, I’m so very very full. Afterwards I double checked the recipe and it said 4 small serves… but we ate it all…

Possum Friendly? YES. The base yes, the toppings tonight no. Way too much salt for anyone really! To make it Possum friendly a topping of broccoli, tuna and onion would suffice.

Would I make it again? Yes, gone into the mental bank.

Not So Nicoise Cauliflower Pizza

Not So Nicoise Cauliflower Pizza

Freezer Surprise

Ah sweet freezer surprise. You are always welcome in my home. As I sat with my baby and patted her to sleep, my mind wandered to my stomach. And to the silence coming from the kitchen meant Lego Man wasn’t cooking up a solution to my quandry. The kitchen is not the natural habitat of Lego Man. Outdoors, yes. Man Cave, yes. Office, yes. But this week was a week of no plans. No recipes on the counter. No plan on the fridge. Back to old ways. Back to eating somewhere between 8 and 9pm. Thank goodness for freezer surprise.

And behind Door Number 1………..!

Stuffed Eggplant Mousaka and Tuna Pesto Pasta. Not often freezer surprise is a two course feast. In order for the eggplant to be defrosted we did need to press “Auto cook” on the microwave about 15 times. I remembered they weren’t fab first time round so added some things that would hopefully help. Salt, pepper and cheese. It helped enough to make it much easier to eat. I thought I had a photo of the meal for you but one was really out of focus and the other my finger is taking up half the photo… this is what happends when you’re a hungry mummy!

Thank goodness tonight is planning night.

The plan and weather is looking a bit like this:

MONDAY/ rain 21 

Baked Farro Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables

TUESDAY/ early shower 22

Winter Veg and Tofu Korma with brown rice and quinoa

WEDNESDAY/ partly cloudy 26

Broccoli Crunch and Salmon with brown rice and quinoa

THURSDAY/ sunny 20

Grilled Chicken Salad with pineapple, macadamias and chilli (taste Magazine Jan 2014)

FRIDAY/ partly cloudy 17

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

SATURDAY/ weather forecast not available yet…

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

Thankyou to my facebook page (just search for pea fritters) for the baked risotto idea. I was trawling one of my favourite sites, 101 cookbooks, when I saw she had a baked farro risotto. Perfect! Thursday’s chicken salad is a dish I made a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing. Will write out the recipe for you later in the week.  I’m also hoping to make a Brown Butter Spice Loaf to get us through the move. It’s spicy buttery goodness.

No scale for tonight’s dinner sorry.

Though here is a cute photo of Possum’s happy feet while she ate her dinner of Possum Love Puffs, avocado and apple. She and I had a lovely time at baby wearing yoga today.

Happy Possum Feet

Happy Possum Feet