Ever since I can remember Mum has, at least once a fortnight, fashioned 'pickies' for dinner. Pickies, in our family, means food that we can 'pick' at. Cheese, cold meats, bread, olives - essentially antipasto.
This is by far mine and M's favourite way to eat - it's generous, sharing and just fun (especially in front of the TV with a glass of Dad's vino).
Lately I've been trying to get creative with my 'pickies' and turn it into a fun way to use up left overs at the end of the week. This week, as I've been unwell and not really cooking, I took my feeling-a-little-more-human self into the kitchen to try and use up some of the poor vegetables starting to look sad in my fridge. The results are below...
-- FRIDAY PICKIES --
ON THIS PLATE;
Onion, Apple and Oregano Focaccia Panned Fried Haloumi Grilled Asparagus
Cabbage and Rocket Coleslaw Pan Roasted Pumpkin with Chilli Salt Chilli Oil Tomatoes and Pickled Onions
First step was getting the focaccia going. I always make up my dough as I've done it enough times to know what to do to get different results, but this time I wrote down exactly what I did! GASP! Good blogger.
FOCACCIA DOUGH - - 1 dessert spoon of dry yeast
- 1 dessert spoon of olive oil - 1 teaspoon of salt - A pinch of sugar - 1 1/2 cups of warm water (it must be luke warm or the yeast won't activate - it could be killed!) - 3 cups of plain flour (I only had wholemeal so that's what I used) + extra flour for kneading
METHOD; - Mix all ingredients except the flour and stir - Add flour (using more or less until it comes together as a dough) - Tip onto a floured bench and knead for at least 3 minutes (adding more flour if needed - you almost always do).
- Put back into bowl, cover with a towel and put into a warm place for half an hour or until it doubles in size (I heat the oven a little, turn it off and put it in there - make sure the oven isn't too hot when you put it in - it needs to feel like a summer's day). - Take out, knock some of the air out and knead for about 15 seconds, then roll out ready to top.
(I suggest putting breadcrumbs on your tray base as it always gives an awesome crispy base finish and the tray is super easy to clean at the end with no oil!)
FOCACCIA TOPPING - - 2 brown onions, sliced - 1 granny smith apply, cut into matchsticks - A splash of olive oil - A knob (about a tsp) of butter
- Small handful of fresh oregano
METHOD; - Fry everything except the oregano together until caramelised and gooey (if it starts to dry out add some water instead of oil to keep things cooking and keep it a it lighter but make sure it dries out totally before putting it on the dough)
- After putting the topping on the dough, stir through or spray a little olive oil on the oregano and place on top.
BAKE in a hot oven (200-220c) for about 12 minutes. I finish it under the grill as my oven is useless.
I never understand why people buy pizza bases - they are so expensive and these are so easy and so cheap! Once you do it a few times it really takes no time at all.
You can buy this yeast at any supermarket. This tub of mine has been in the freezer for almost a year and it's still fine.
AND THE REST....
PAN FRIED HALOUMI - cut haloumi into 1cm strips and fry until golden each side. Coat with lemon juice and pepper.
PAN ROASTED PUMPKIN WITH CHILLI AND SALT - Just raw pumpkin slices tossed in dried chilli flakes, sea salt and olive oil before cooking on the pan.
CABBAGE AND ROCKET COLESLAW - Finely shredded cabbage and rocket with about a tsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with a tsp of mayonnaise stirred through.
I don't really like mayo, but when I use it I use this one - available in supermarkets. M is also a fan. In fact, if it weren't for M, I'd just use Greek yoghurt with some salt & pepper in it's place.
I think the rest is self explanatory.
Do you ever do 'pickies' or an antipasto night?
How do you use the leftovers in your fridge at the end of a week?
I try very hard to never throw out food (I throw something out maybe once a month). A huge advantage of learning how to cook is knowing how to put everything you've got to use together. If I see pumpkin going soggy well, we're having pumpkin tonight. If the eggs are getting old I'll use eggs and so on. With a few pantry staples it's easy to use the fresh things you have (and I'll share my pantry staples soon).
Like way-too-many people right now, my cold has escalated to more of a flu. I've been at work most of the week but am home today as there was no way I could get myself out of bed before 11am this morning. Pretty gross. So now I am all alone at home, sick of eating toast and seriously have no energy to stand in the kitchen for more than about 2 minutes. Fast food is a must.
Vermicelli rice noodles are great for quick lunches and insanely cheap. To prepare them all you have to do is sit them in boiling water for about 2 minutes (or until tender) and drain. That's it! They are super plain though so they do need some flavour (they are, after all, just rice).
Today I slothed into the kitchen, prepared my rice noodles (about 1/5 of a packet of the Wai-Wai ones available in major supermarkets and grocers) and opened the fridge and pantry to see what I could add.
--TUNA AND ROCKET RICE NOODLE SALAD --
Before I jot this down please note that quantities and the ingredients of the below are not the point of this post. If you don't have rocket, use spinach, shredded lettuce, peas.. if you don't have tuna use a boiled egg, left over meat, legumes.. if you don't have cabbage use snow peas, carrot, bean shoots, capsicum... It is easy to make fast food if you just have a go and don't be scared. Use some common sense (raw eggplant won't taste great, for example) and just throw things in trust that some dressing will bring it together. Food isn't only meant to give us the nutrients we need - it's also meant to be fun to eat and prepare.
INGREDIENTS; - Rice noodles (about 1/5 of the Wai Wai packet above)
- A handful of fresh rocket - A handful of finely shredded red cabbage - 1 fresh red chilli - 1 can of John West 'light' tuna (I prefer Serena or Safcol, but Max is a John West fan and this is all we had) - A splash of Tamari (about a dessert spoon - this is a reduced salt organic soy sauce, if you use regular soy sauce I'd suggest using a little less)
- About 4 drops of sesame oil (it has a super strong flavour)
METHOD; - Pretty self explanatory - chop everything (finely shred the cabbage; don't underestimate the difference textures and the size of your chopping will make to a meal). Wash the rocket, slice the chilli and add everything to a bowl. - Prepare the rice noodles, drain, then add to the bowl with the vegetables while still warm (helps them warm a little). - Add the sesame oil, tamari and tuna (drain the tuna well), and toss.
That's was all I had to do to have a proper lunch.
If you have some sesame seeds you can be bothered toasting, some spring onions you can be bothered slicing or some fresh herbs (mint or coriander would be especially nice) I'd sprinkle them on top - would definitely add to the flavour.
Other dressing ideas - - Orange juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and chilli (or chilli sauce - and go light on the fish sauce, keep tasting it) - Melt a little peanut butter and sweet chilli sauce into some orange juice and water - A little coconut milk with some salt, chilli (or chilli sauce) and fresh mint would be yummy too.
I can make this, with the flu, in 3-4 minutes. Much less time than it would take me to pop to a drive through and bring something home #healthynothard
At the moment, the way I see it, there are two sides to the 'healthy' fence; 1 - The nutrition fanatics cramming as many nutrients into their dishes and their days as humanly possible, often eating with nutrition as first priority and everything else secondary (think kale chips, cake made of watermelon and 'super-simple' protein truffles made of 10 super-expensive elements).
2 - The other side; the people not currently as healthy and strong as they could be and wanting to get there. Often they'll be on a meal delivery or points program, buying the low fat / low calorie items in the supermarket, trying to go for walks, buying the latest diet book and definitely reading some of the nutrition nut blogs and getting totally overwhelmed by the idea of moving from their weekly pizza fix to a cauliflower and kale impostor. I see too often these people copping flack on the internet but they really do have the best of intentions, just not the best knowledge or skills and who can blame them? Health, nutrition and especially weight loss is big money-making business, there's a lot of confusing information out there.
When I was 18 I at fast food at least 4 times a week, never did any exercise and was 20kgs heavier than I am now. When I was 23 I never ate starchy carbs, obvious fat (cheese, cream - anything) or sugar, I was vegetarian (I eat fish now) and worked out daily (mostly twice a day). I was 7kgs lighter than I am now.
Today I am very happy being somewhere in the middle.
This blog is focuses on that middle ground.
I want to help people see that you can be healthy without it being hard (#healthynothard)
You can get healthy ingredients from your local grocer or supermarket and they don't have to cost the earth. You don't fail because your husband and your 3 year old want spaghetti that isn't made out of zucchini or water soluble fibre (hi, slim noodles, I am talking to you and I am definitely not eating you). You don't have to spend $14 on a bag of flour that will make you 1.5 cakes. If you can, or want to - great, go ahead, I do sometimes and I really admire these people that never want a big cheesy pizza (power to you!) and stalk their instagram as much as the rest of us, but there is an in between. There is a way to not have a huge grocery budget and still eat healthy. All you need is a little knowledge and to learn to cook. That's it and that's what I hope to give you a tiny bit of here.
Today is the start of Spring and I had big big plans. This is my absolute favourite time of year - the longest possible time until winter arrives again, my birthday, M's birthday, our anniversary, a lot of family birthday's, Christmas, NYE, Summer's down the coast, day light savings and this year at the end of it all, I will get married. But today is not at all what I thought it would be! Last week M had a nasty cold and I was flouncing around in my work out gear all smug that I didn't get it...
Yesterday I woke up with such a sore throat I couldn't talk or swallow. That'll teach me.
So I didn't get to do anything I had planned for Sunday and I'm at home with a head full of bricks (I'm sure that's what's in there) and no appetite. Not very fun.
What do you do when you have a cold? I make orange and ginger juice. Pretty easy - squeeze oranges and, as I don't have a juicer (I looked into it a while back but really I just don't want one), I use the microplane to get some ginger in straight from the freezer (where I keep my ginger so it doesn't go soft).
Joining my juice this morning was a bowl of overnight oats with cinnamon, berries and pomegranate (just in water). I never eat any dairy when I have a cold - not because I think it generates more mucus, but because it just adds to that 'heavy' feeling I get in the stomach when I'm all stuffed up.
This Australian Beer Festival cup I got two years ago is the perfect size for the juice of two oranges.
I also take super hot baths, keep myself insanely warm and drink a lot and a lot of water. If it gets really bad, I swallow whole cloves of garlic and don't get out of bed.
Sadly, like the rest of the world, I still haven't found the cure... if you have, you have to let me know!
I'll be back with my plan for my healthiest summer ever as soon as I feel like I'll actually be able to action it.
Hope you've all had a better start to Spring than I have!
So I discovered Pinterest a few weeks ago. All the stuff I love will go there now. Every Sunday I try to get some food prepped for the week as many of us do.... Today, my throat is super sore and I am exhausted (hooray for colds! I thought I'd escaped) so I only got one meal out. The point with doing something like this is if you have a few good base flavours, you can throw any vegetables you have in, a protein and then some rice/qinoa/pasta - whatever is taking your fancy that week. Healthy, not hard.
WORK LUNCHES // MEXICAN RICE
So pretty much if you have these ingredients in your pantry (even then you can cut out the beans and chilli), you can make something tasty.
Chop up that onion and clove of garlic to fry them off (and chilli if you like it), toast the paprika for half a minute before adding the tomatoes and the oregano.
Then add whatever vegetables you have lying around... I always try to get some corn in as M likes it, and I think capsicum and paprika are tasty together.
I added some brocolli as I had an aging head on my fridge top shelf.
(exact quantities I used were - - 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp smokey paprika
- 1 fresh red chilli with seeds
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 can peeled chopped tomatoes
- 1 can of kidney beans (use black beans if you have a choice, much tastier with this)
- 1 capsicum - 1 cup of frozen corn kernels
- 1 head of brocolli - 1.5 small mugs of uncooked basmati rice (for 2 generous servings (M) and 2 mid-size servings (me)) - I added a handful of peas at the end)
Leave it to cook for at least 20 minutes (I go longer and add water at intervals so it doesn't dry out - I prefer canned tomatoes to be cooked a while). Add salt to taste.
If you want to use chicken, beef etc - I'd fry it up with the onions. If you have pre-cooked beans like I did, rinse them super well and add for the last 2-3 minutes.
Boil up some rice/quinoa/whatever you like (M is a cous cous fan but I like basmati rice) and layer it up in containers.
I thought this would be a great come back post but it was actually a little too simple.
Perhaps that's where the focus on healthy food needs to return to - simplicity.