Archive for ‘Cooking’

Sunday, May 9, 2010

‘Nothing in the house’ lunch boxes

A lot of the people I work with spend a lot on buying ‘fresh’ salad boxes and sandwiches, mostly with the excuse that there’s ‘nothing in the house’. Well, here’s my ‘nothing in the house’ lunch for tomorrow:

‘Clear out the fridge’ Pasta Salad –
Time to prepare: 15 mins.
Put pasta shapes on to cook. In a bowl mix mayonnaise (i use low fat), 1/2 a teaspoon of mustard, a dessert spoon of white vinegar (i use the stuff from the pickle jar!). Taste, and add more mustard/vinegar if you feel it needs more flavour. If i have it lurking in the fridge i add a teaspoon of pesto. Finely dice whatever veg you have to hand, ie: red or white onions, (bell) peppers, carrots, celery, courgette, mushrooms, chives or spring onions, tomatoes, cucumber, etc. This is great for using up leftovers – today i used some raw veggie sticks leftover from lunch on friday, 1/2 a red onion that was lurking in the fridge, a chunk of courgette. You can also add things like peanuts (really!), apple, or pickled cucumbers, all chopped up fine. And of course meat if you eat that sorta thing ;). When cooked, drain the pasta and add to the mayo mixture, stir well, then add the veggies. I usually add a couple handfulls of frozen sweetcorn or peas if this is for the next day.

Carrot Cake:
Ingredients – Flour, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Carrots, Eggs, Cinnamon and a handful of (optional) dried fruit.
Time to Cook: 20 mins to mix everything together, and then about half hour in the oven.

So i spent about 40 mins to make lunch for the next couple of days, and carrot cake snacks for a while (can be frozen too).

And people ask me what on earth I eat as a veggie ;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photo Catch-up!

Well, my computer gave up the ghost a while back, and I’ve been using my ancient laptop, hence no picture posts (I couldn’t be bothered to install photoshop, and it would probably throw a wobbly if I did). However, we got a new power supply for the pc today, which has hopefully fixed the problem, so here’s a few pics to make up for it!


A random piece of wire/bead work – quite large, might make a nice suncatcher type decoration? (looks darker than it actually is – the beads are semi-precious stones and glass).

An apron I made myself, with gorgeous fabric from the swedish shop in the local town – lined and everything!

A button tortoise, made of felt – I added an inner pad with beans to the design to give him some weight. He’s imperfect but I still like him ;)

Chocolate cupcakes! With sprinkles!

A necklace/bracelet set I made to match a particular top… very happy with it :)

A bracelet made today – another one I’m happy with :)

And some gratuitous cuteness :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Relaxing Sunday

My sunday plans:

~ Late brunch of avocado, cajun tofu, fresh coriander and salsa wraps, with a little chocolate ;) (this is just for me, Chris hates both avocado and tofu). This also makes the hamsters happy as they REALLY like avocado!

~ A cupcake practice run (for the upcoming Think Pink charity cake sale) – pink cupcakes! (hopefully)

~ Scrabble with a friend. Because we have decided to give up trying to be cool kids and embrace our inner geek ;)

~ And maybe a little crafting – either making things for Warhammer or starting a sewing machine cover!

I hope you all have a nice Sunday!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well, I have FINALLY taken MSE‘s advice and got myself a 0% balance transfer credit card deal. For the past year I’ve been getting the 11.9% staff rate on my card, but it occured to me (while lying in the bath this morning, of course) that a) that would end when I leave my job, and b) it would likely be hard or impossible to get a new card while unemployed. So I got off my arse this afternoon and applied for a Virgin credit card, which gives me a nice 15 month 0% deal on the £1200 I’m transferring. Thankfully, it was accepted… and thankfully when they ask if you’re employed and what your wage is they don’t query if you’re keeping that wage beyond the next few days ;)

On that note, I am actually managing to slightly decrese that balance. At it’s highest, it was about £1600 – I’ve knocked about £400 off that, which is hard work on almost-minimum wage. Frustratingly, I work with someone who pays in £200 a month to his card – but he lives at home and pays £30 a week rent and utilities!

Changing the subject. This weekend Chris is away at The Gathering, which means I’ve had the house to myself since friday morning. Apart from being really strange and quiet, it’s been quite nice, and, amazingly, very productive. I’m in the middle of a whole-house cleaning spree (sorely needed) – especially concentrating on the spare/my PC/crafting room as an engineer is coming tomorrow to try and figure out what’s wrong with our internet connection (aside from Virgin’s network being overloaded, that is!)

This morning I also popped down to Asda and, a rare occurence, I managed to get some bargains in the reduced sections – avocados for 10p each, corn cobs 10p each, rocket salad and blueberries for 20p each, chestnut mushrooms 20p, and a large bag of fairtrade bananas for 40p. All in excellent fresh condition as well! I also bypassed the crowds around the sweet red peppers for 50p each display and picked up a bag of 6 ‘value’ peppers for £1.30 – all red and orange. Sometimes it’s worth that bit of extra hunting :) A lot of the veg (peppers, mushrooms, plus some other bits I had already) will go into a vegetable lasagne with salad this evening, and I was thinking about doing some fresh sweetcorn fritters with sweet chillli dip for an evening snack/ treat. The blueberries will either go in yoghurt, or I might make a batch of low fat muffins tomorrow.

My last day at work is on Wednesday, and I’ve yet to find another job! Surprisingly though, I’m not panicking. Something will come up, even if it’s a temp job at one of the many places advertising for Christmas staff. And, I have to say, I am really, really looking forward to walking out of there!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Veggies harvested from the garden, 28/07/08.

Despite my neglect, I managed to collect this little lot yesterday – green and yellow courgettes, fine beans, red and white onions, garlic, mini red peppers, cucumbers, baby carrots, large chillies for stuffing, and small aubergines. Everything has been grown in containers on the patio, which I think proves that with some proper care you could get some great results from container gardening.

The aubergines (‘Calliope’) have to be the most impressive – growing in this summer’s terrible cold, wet weather, sometimes indoors, but always in far-too-small pots. I’m going to try and pot them up this week, but no promises!

(unfortunatly, the cukes turned out to be bitter – I’ve now been educated about taking off the male flowers!)

And, from last month, the first jalapeno harvest – pickled with onions, carrots, spices and vinegar for some hopefully delicious ‘nacho rings’. I’ve never bottled anything before so hopefully I’ve done it right!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grilled Vegetable / Apple and Cinnamon Tarts

While in the supermarket today, the premade puff pastry caught my eye. I’ve thought about trying this before but have never got round to it… I should have done though as it was very quick and easy.

Grilled Vegetable Tarts
Slice a selection of vegetables thinly and grill until soft. Cut circles out of the rolled out pastry – I cut mine to fit a large yorkshire pudding tin I had. Top the circles with a teaspoon or so of red or green pesto, followed by a few vegetable pieces, and if liked a slice of mozarella. Cook at 200*C for 15-20mins.

Cost to make: veggies 70p, pastry 40p, pesto 20p, cheese 25p – £1.55 for 4.

Apple and Cinnamon Tarts

Instead of vegetables, top the pastry with a few slices of cooked apple (I used canned, but if you have the will and fresh apples you could cook your own), a sprinkle of brown (or white) sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Cost to make: apples 40p, pastry 40p, sugar/cinnamon 5p – 85p for 4.

Absolutely delicious :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Success with Tofu

Yes! I have finally cooked REALLY GOOD tofu.

I used to hate tofu. Then I had some good stuff in a restaurant, and decided I liked it when it was made by pros (aka, deep fried ;). I’ve been playing with it on and off for a while at home – my first efforts were inedible crap (the stuff you get vacumn packed does not stir-fry well!). But I have been gradually getting better, and at the same time i’ve been learning to use less oil – tofu is easiest deep fried, as it gets crispy without falling apart in the pan. I’ve learnt to buy tofu from the oriental food shop (fresh, water packed, firm tofu), to drain and press it between kitchen towels, how best to fry it (gently, pressing it to squeeze the water out) or to grill/oven bake it (both good, but hard to get just right). Then last time I found out you can freeze it to produce a firmer texture.

1) Drain the water from the tofu, put the block in a sandwich of kitchen towels (paper or really clean cloth), cover with a board and some heavy stuff – jars, cans etc, and leave for half an hour at least. Changing the paper/cloth halfway helps too.

2) Slice – I prefer about 1/4″ thick slices – too thin and it falls apart.

3) Wrap in clingfilm, then place in the freezer for however long – the last batch were in there a few weeks.

4) Defrost (24 hrs in the fridge works fine).

5) Top with sauce/marinade (the stir fry sauce you get in 2-person sachets works nicely), and grill both sides til golden.

Result… AMAZING tofu. Tonight’s batch is intended for lunchtime sandwich tomorrow :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tofu + Veggie Curry

Yep, another foodie post :)  (I’m gradually teaching myself to cook, so I’m dead proud when I cook something that looks gorgeous ;) )

This time it’s a slightly modified curry from an ‘Easy Indian’ book I have. The original recipe is just courgettes, onions, coconut milk, and spices (fantastic for the grower’s inevitable courgette glut) – this time around I changed the veggies, but not the sauce, to suit what I had. I started by pressing (laying between kitchen towel with something heavy on top) the tofu to remove the extra water, slicing, sprinkling with soy sauce and baking in the oven. Once that was done I sauted a small chopped onion, then added the  tofu with some courgettes, mushrooms, and broccoli, with a 1/4 tsp each of turmeric and hot chilli powder. A few mins later i dumped in a couple of spoons of canned chopped tomatoes, a pinch of fennel seeds and a clove of garlic (both smushed up in a mortar and pestle), stir fried them for a minute, then added a small (160ml) can of light coconut milk and simmered it for 5 mins. Served with wholewheat egg noodles.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pancake Day

I’m not one to turn down an oppurtunity to eat pancakes ;)


American-style pancakes, topped with butter and drenched in maple syrup.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I’m loving my new little ‘pantry’. It obviously hasn’t made much of a difference in what I eat but having everything easily accessible means I can see easily what we have in, and what we need to get before it runs out. It’s also encouraging me to stockpile as I have plenty of room – unfortunatly due to the lack of car there’s only so much of this I can do (I can’t lug back 40 cans of canned tomatoes on special, however good the offer is!). It is encouraging me to eat more pulses, which is a good thing :) I’m off work next week so I may make a trip to asda and load up on cheap canned stuff, without he who likes to shop for 2 days at a time!

On that note, I was thinking about what to take for lunch tomorrow. We’re out of regular bread that I like (I detest the pappy long life sliced rubbish), nor do we have any hummous to dip the pitta into. I don’t want pasta, as that was my dinner tonight. We don’t have many fresh veggies (a trip to the grocers is needed) for me to fill myself up on. Cue a quick look in the pantry…

Out came a can of refried beans (about 50p a can, made with just beans and seasoning, no oil – fantastic veggie standby), a chunk of courgette, half a green pepper, and a small onion.  The veggies were diced and sauteed (just a teaspoon of olive oil for the onions) til soft, and then the refried beans were thrown in the pan and the whole lot roughly stirred together. The result is a quick filling for tortillas or pitta that has a serving or two of veggie, some carbs and some protein.

I’ll also take along some fresh pineapple, and a couple of cookies or a piece of chocolate.

Oh yes, and I’ve spotted some pots for my patio tomatoes – Wilkos have some of a suitable size, glazed terracotta, for £4.99 each. I need 3 or 4 so it won’t be too expensive, and they should last a long time.  Unfortunatly their website doesn’t have them, so I can’t get them delivered. I may have to enlist Chris’ help to carry them to a taxi home (terracotta pots are HEAVY).