Mathematical Protein Soup

I’ve been buying Whey Protein Isolate in bulk from Bulk Nutrients since 2016 now. The quality is excellent. I get the raw flavour AKA totally unflavoured because I like to add my own flavours to my shakes, and if you get raw protein you can add it to soup without even blinking. Yes, soup. Sounds crazy? It actually isn’t, though I suspect I am one of the few people on the planet who do this.

I bought 5kg of protein in December 2017. One serving of protein is 40g though sometimes I use a little less depending on how active I have been and how long it is till my next meal. My protein shake is very filling so if I have left my shake a bit late, I will not be hungry enough for dinner unless I cut down the amount of protein to 30g.

So a quick math workout – 1000g of protein = 25 servings. Therefore each 1kg bag of protein should last me 25 days.

I should have got 125 days of protein out of this last order, right? However on weekends we often both have a shake, which muddles up the maths. There is now a new variable, which is The Other Half having protein shakes for lunch at work. It would be fine maths wise if it were X days a week. But it never works out that way.

What I usually do is wait until I open my last 1kg bag and make another order of 5kg. But this time I did a little maths first.

It costs me $7 flat rate shipping no matter how much I order. Also when you buy more, the price is slightly cheaper. Here is a quick table. OMG listen to me doing maths like I like it! ;)

.10 cents per serving does not seem like a big saving. When you consider there are 375 servings in 15kg, it works out to $37.50. But you also have to consider, if I bought 3x 5kg, I would have to pay an extra $14 in shipping. Suddenly we are up to $51.50 in savings. I’m going to buy the protein anyway, it keeps long term, and I won’t have to order it again for some time, so we bought 15kg.

We’ve worked a rough calculation for how many protein shakes The Other Half might have, and essentially we think this is enough protein for the two of us for 250 days. If that turns out to be correct, I will next need to order protein in December 2018, but I might be able to make it to January 2019, because I only just opened the final 1kg bag from the last order.

Protein Soup

If you do a quick google there are not a lot of places talking about adding protein powder to soup, so it is not Officially A Thing. But I did it all last winter and it worked out great for me. With my present thyroid issues I really feel the cold so a shake with frozen stuff in it is not the most optimal for me on very cold days.

It works best in soups you have whizzed up to a creamy consistency. You do need to stir it in well – whisking might work best but I just use a spatula and stir like a person possessed. You could also use a immersion blender, like the Thunderstick.

If you want to see other places you could squeeze in some extra protein, here are a couple of good articles – 15 Genius Ways to Add Protein Powder to Foods41 Sneaky Ways to Add Protein Powder Into Every Meal.

health, Soup

Chicken Cacciatore

Celery, green pepper/capsicum, my massive jar of garlic which I never thought I would get through which is now 2/3 empty, chopped anchovies, carrots next door to them, zucchini on the blue plate, olives, mushrooms fresh from the freezer.

With The Other Half going camping, this is a great opportunity to use ingredients he does not enjoy eating but I love eating. Chicken Cacciatore is #1 on my list to make when he is away.

Firstly because I can make a big saucepan full of awesomeness. Secondly because I can add in mushrooms, anchovies and olives not at the *end* of the cooking process but in the correct places – as I would have to if making it for The Other Half to consume.

Thirdly because this is the kind of meal that gets better each day it remains in the fridge. Fourthly, I can pack it full of vegetable goodness when nobody is looking.

I added some celery in this time. Not a normal addition to my recipe but I had some in the fridge and the chooks apparently do not like to eat it.

I think everyone has their own version of this – the traditional one has capers but I did not have any of those on hand. Mine has always had anchovies because I love their saltiness.

I always start by frying the anchovies and garlic in a combination of olive and coconut oil. Then I add in all the vegetables to sweat in the hot pan for a good 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

In a separate frypan I poach the chicken in white wine, covering with a lid. One can do it in the same pan as the vegetables. I just prefer to poach the chicken separately to save a little cooking time. I like to do this while the vegetables sweat, then add everything – chicken and remaining white wine – in with the vegetables.

Once the vegetables have had their steam bath – towards the end you can throw in some red wine to make it extra steamy – you add in the chicken then your tomato elements and extra red wine if you like it. Today I used passata and chopped tomatoes, sometimes I will put in some tomato paste as well.

Now the tricky part, at least for me. I like to let this simmer on the stove for a good couple of hours before eating. This would be easier if it did not smell so awesome. If like myself you cannot resist, a small bowl of this topped with parmesan may tide you over until the flavours have merged together.

This is not really a traditional recipe because I am not giving you amounts or telling you exactly what to put in here. This is the ultimate in fly by the seat of your pants cooking.

Add in what you like in the amounts you like, and it will still work. Don’t like anchovies? Just fry garlic then add in the vegies. Don’t like X vegetable? Don’t add it in. Don’t like to cook with wine? Don’t use it. Don’t want chicken? Add in the meat of your choice, or no meat at all if you prefer. Find the tomato sauce a little thin? Add in tomato paste.

Happy Making It Your Own! :)

recipes

Good News Protein

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I do not “preach” about many things in life. Sure, I can suggest solutions on a myriad of subjects based on my personal experiences, and I do that here on my blog.. Travel. Eating out. How to avoid scammers. The importance of booking directly with a company rather than a via third party website. How to go from not running at all to running 5kms at a time without stopping – these are either already written posts or they are posts for another day.

I have struggled with my weight all my life. Guess what? It is no longer a struggle for me, and a big reason for it is my lunch time protein shake.

When I talk about protein shakes, I sometimes feel like I am trying to spread the good news and often folks just aren’t buying it. I want to be very clear about this.

Protein shakes changed my life forever

When I mention protein shakes to folks who ask me how I lost my 25kg (55 pounds), I will hear the same things over and over. They sound like this –

“I had a protein shake and it tasted terrible”

Yes, it probably did. I’m guessing you had a pre-flavoured protein shake. Those shakes contain artificial sweeteners and they all taste bad as a result. I do not know why flavoring must = sweetener, but apparently everyone involved in protein thinks it must be super sweet to make people drink it.

MY FIX – I buy raw protein without flavouring. I add my own flavour. I could serve my shake in a milkshake glass with whipped cream on top and you would have no idea that you were drinking a protein shake. You would think you are getting a frappe from Starbucks or Gloria Jean’s.

But unlike the frappe from Starbucks or Gloria Jeans which on average contains 30g of sugar, my shake has just 2 grams of sugar, which comes from the frozen banana. I do not add any sweetener to my shake because I feel the banana gives me all the sweetness I need, but if I did need to add some I would go with a touch of maple syrup.

Their shake might have between 6-10g of protein – mine will have 37g of protein. Their shake will have around whopping 30-40g of carbs, mine has just 13g. Their shake will be 300+ calories. Mine is 220.

“I can’t just have a shake for lunch”

Actually you can. I do it all the time. I tell you, if I drink the shake and wait 20 minutes, I will no longer be hungry and I will remain not hungry for at least 2-4 hours after I drink the shake, maybe even longer.

And you don’t have to just have a shake if you don’t want to. You can add healthy snacks on the side. My go-to snacks are usually olives, hommus with carrot sticks, or nuts of some kind. However all the nutrition you need is more than likely right there in that shake, and adding snacks adds extra calories.

“How can I do a shake at work?”

Preparation is key. If you are like me and you don’t mind taking a bag or box in with you, then you can take your Nutri-Ninja with you to work. I measure out my protein ahead of time and have that in small containers and I take a small freezer pack with my 1/2 frozen banana and frozen coffee ice cube. I drink my shake right out of the cup, rinse it in the sink when I am done, take everything home with me when I go, then wash the cup and blender attachment at home that night.

You could buy two Nutri-Ninjas and keep one at home and one at work, or you could invest in some kind of cheap second blender to keep at work.

“Shakes are so boring”

Shakes certainly do not have to be boring. I can drink a different flavoured shake every day of the week if I want to and I can get a little creative about it. Because my shake is so low in calories I do not mind adding something decadent to it once in a while.

I might throw in some dark chocolate to give an extra dimension. I like to add peanut butter powder for a bit of extra savory flavour and if I don’t have any PB2 on hand I might add in a scoop of peanut butter. I sometimes treat myself on weekends by adding a few teaspoons of whipped cream. Salted caramel sauce is a good way to add extra taste.

The bottom line is, I love how my shake tastes and I don’t see any need to change it. I am a big coffee lover, I love chocolate, I love cinnamon, put these things into my shake and I am happy.

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I wrote back in 2016 about my adventures with protein. My current shake recipe looks like this –

40g RAW flavour WPI protein powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
35g-40g frozen banana – I break them into pieces and freeze.
100mls almond milk.
100mls brewed espresso coffee
1 frozen espresso coffee icecube.
(instant or filtered coffee will also work)

food, health

Freezing Mushrooms

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As part of the No Spend Days I have added into my Year Of Buying Nothing challenge for this year, I wanted to give freezing mushrooms a try. I have never frozen mushrooms before, but I have become a lot more creative in the freezing things department since our deep freeze arrived.

I freeze a lot of fruit which gets used in protein shakes plus espresso coffee shots, most of our meat is purchased in bulk and frozen, sometimes for up to 6 months if the deal is a good one. I even freeze watermelon rinds for the chooks to enjoy on a hot day.

Sometimes these challenges can actually create super awesomeness. If I could manage to freeze the mushrooms, I could do a big bulk cook up every so often, whack them in the freezer, and every Thursday take out a packet for use on Friday. If I can do it in one hit, on a day that is not Friday, while listening to music or a podcast, and then have mushrooms for 2 months.. Wow that would be so great! Even greater would be if I can stock up when they are on special.

I have been pre-cooking my mushrooms for our weekly pizza for some years now, after one of my home made pizzas became very soggy and waterlogged due to mushroom moisture. There is a LOT of moisture in mushrooms.

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How much moisture? I had two punnets of 375g bbq flat mushrooms from Aldi. I prepared them and cooked them in the oven. I then weighed them to find I now had 375g total of mushrooms – I had lost an entire 375g in the cooking process!

Mushroom preparation has been the annoying part of my Fridays for a long time now, and sometimes an annoying part of Thursday or Wednesday or whatever day I remembered that I needed to get fresh mushrooms for Friday and would head off to the supermarket *just* to get mushrooms. And while I was there, I would tend to buy other things – maybe things we did need like milk or vegetables, and sometimes things we did not need.

The part I least like is having to rinse them before chopping, but they do grow in soil and manure, so that is always going to be something I do, to satisfy my germophobic brain.

So I knew the moisture factor could be a problem when it came to freezing them. I did some reading and found that pre-cooking was recommended before freezing, so I just followed my normal steps –

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rinse mushrooms, chop & lay them out on baking paper on a tray, cook for 12 minutes @ 200C (395F)

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then blot with paper towel to remove excess moisture, and lay out on paper towel to drain.

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Normally this is where the mushroom meets the pizza base. But not today. Today we have some new steps. Foodsave the mushrooms, then place them in the freezer. There is still quite a bit of moisture in these mushrooms even after cooking and draining, and that is the brown liquid you see in the next photo – which was taken after the mushrooms have been frozen.

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The foodsaver is the best thing we ever bought, it saves us enormous amounts of money because I can buy food when it is on extreme special and when I freeze it I never have to worry about freezer burn.

Then on Thursday night, I take the mushrooms out of the freezer and place them in the fridge to defrost. On Friday when it is time to build the pizza, I open the packet and place them on some paper towel to drain – as there will still be some mushroom moisture trapped inside the packet.

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This process is 100% a keeper for me. I tried two different types of mushroom – Aldi calls them “whole” and “bbq flat”. The next time mushrooms are on special, I will buy up and freeze. And now I am thinking of other things I can bulk prepare and freeze – capsicum is next on our list, just last night I froze some leeks.

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Every week I make pizza and it is the best pizza I have ever made, since last week. This time was no exception to the rule. I use the Aldi pizza bases, topped with pizza sauce, pizza cheese, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, capsicum, feta cheese, ham, bacon, pepperoni, more cheese, then an egg is poured over the top.

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It was just far easier, having done the mushroom preparation a couple of weeks beforehand.

2018yobn, food

Meal Planning Presently

At the end of 2016 The Other Half had a health scare which led to us completely re-vamping how we eat. Most everything is made from scratch in our house now and this is due to the large amount of sodium found in processed foods, whether it is tinned, frozen, jar sauces of most kinds or even things like bread can be incredibly salty.

Rather than draw up a meal plan each week, for the last year or so we have been sticking to a fairly regular 7 day rotation. It goes like this –

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Monday – Cottage Pie

I make a very large tray of this – it is essentially my savory beef mince recipe doubled with low-sodium gravy instead of soy sauce and then topped with sweet potato mash and cheese. The 4 remaining serves become lunches for The Other Half for the remaining 4 days of the week.

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Tuesday – Rotating Random Day

This will usually be some form of chicken with vegetables. It might be garlic parmesan chicken (pictured above) or sweet and sour chicken. It could be pepper steaks – chicken for me, beef for The Other Half – with vegetables. It could be chicken kievs with cheesy potatoes. It could be chicken and bacon pasta – though that is fairly rare for us these days.

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Wednesday – Fish and Chips

We buy fish fillets already crumbed and frozen. We like the Sealord Hoki fillets but if something else is on special and looks interesting we will try those. I do make the chips from scratch – sweet potato for me, normal potato for The Other Half – and I have created my own spice mix to go on them now. I often have a big bowl of baby peas with parmesan sprinkled over the top with mine, and the other half has carrots, corn and peas.

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Thursday – Muffin Tin Meatballs

This is one of our most favourite meals of the week and it is incredibly simple to make. You just put carrots, a leek, baby spinach or brussel sprouts into a food processor, add in your meat, a couple of eggs, put it into a muffin tray, sprinkle some cheese on top and cook.

pizza

Friday – Homemade Pizza Night

My pizza is awesome. I usually pre-cook my mushrooms in the oven for 12 minutes to take some of the moisture out otherwise you end up with a soggy pizza. Some of you may know I have been on a quest to try freezing mushrooms and I will tell you all about that on Wednesday.

My pizza has mushrooms, capsicum, ham, bacon, olives, feta cheese, pineapple, pepperoni, and right before it goes in the oven I pour an egg onto it smack bang in the middle of the pizza. If you have never had egg on a pizza, you need to try this the next time you make one. It slowly oozes through all the other toppings while the pizza cooks in the oven in a deliciously eggy way, fluffing up and holding everything together beautifully. In pizza houses they call this the “Australian” pizza but it usually just has ham, cheese, tomato sauce and egg.

Saturday – Leftover Homemade Pizza Or Out

Our pizza makes 6 slices so we usually eat 3 the first night and 3 the second.

Sunday – Roast Or Random Things.

It might be a roast of some kind if we found one we like on special. It might be Hayden’s pies from the freezer heated up. It might be Vili’s pasties. If we went out on Saturday night, we might eat our leftover pizza.

Breakfast & Lunch

For breakfast The Other Half likes crumpets with cheese and vegemite. I usually have a small bowl of cereal or a mini quiche. Lunches for me are always my protein shake these days – it is gorgeously cool in summer – but in winter last year I did experiment with adding protein to our vegetable soups and I loved that just as much as the shakes, so I will be doing that again this year. The Other Half has cottage pie, tuna pasta bake, fake lasagne or healthy chicken strips.

The Plan For 2018

This year I will be trying to add in even more vegetables to our meals. The big problem I have is – the other half has an allergy to cellulose. Certain vegetables and almost all fruits he cannot eat, and this is a great shame as he loves apples and watermelon but cannot have them. He can have pineapple cooked on a pizza or in sweet and sour chicken but usually not raw.

Some vegetables he can eat as long as they are cooked – these include carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, spinach, capsicum, tomatoes, swedes, turnips, parsnips, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, leeks and onion. We do pretty well when winter vegetables are in season and he gets a big serving of at least two usually three or four vegetables in his cottage pie lunches. In autumn, winter and spring I often make a big pot of vegetable soup each fortnight from whatever is left in the fridge.

I also want to try and mix in some new recipes on our random Tuesdays, and I also want to focus in on making the meals I bulk prepare for lunches of The Other Half the best they can be. I will be looking for some new recipes to try out here, too.

One of our biggest problems has been finding oven baking trays which are reliable long term. Sure, they all start out nice, but before you know it the non-stick coating is peeling off and then the tray underneath begins to rust. Ceramic ones have never been that great for us, they eventually crack and break and they are not always easily available in Holy Sheeyit! Are You Really Cooking This Much At Once size. :)

I’m going to look into this some more, in particular the kinds of pans used in commercial cookery because that is essentially what this is, just on a slightly smaller scale, but if anyone has ideas I would love to hear them.

cooking

The Treat Factory, Berry

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Hidden out the back of Berry is a rather fabulous place called The Treat Factory. I only discovered it thanks to a local Facebook group where someone was looking for some pickling salt, and another member suggested to look in the downstairs area of the Berry Treat Factory.

That’s funny, I thought. I did not know they had a downstairs area. It turned out after over 10 years of living here I had never been to the REAL Berry Treat Factory which is way off the main street and hidden away behind the train station, at the very back of some commercial units.

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So on a weekend not long afterwards, we made the trek to the Treat Factory and discovered so much awesomeness. Above you see their famed downstairs area. You can find all kinds of magical things here, everything from actual Australian dried apricots to hot sauce.

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We have been back several times to buy many of their made-on-site goods, which can also be found at the Berry Markets where they often have a stall and in various shops. I took some photos to share with you.

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They have gluten free and regular pastry in rolls and blocks, frozen pasta, cheeses, free range eggs, muesli..

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The treat factory has all kinds of goodies for sale, including lots of chocolate covered nuts and chocolate treats, many of which would make great gifts to take home for friends and family. They also have some samples of the things for sale that you can try.

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My personal favourites are the lime aioli and the tomato relish. The dark chocolate coated nuts – particularly the almonds – are a regular purchase for us, and the dark chocolate covered coffee beans are must buy if you like that kind of thing. We will continue going back and trying different things until we have tried them all. ;)

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They have local honey, too.

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The large bags of lollies are excellent value in my opinion at just $9.50. They are super huge!

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On this trip we bought tomato relish, dark chocolate coffee beans, belgian chocolate mini frogs, a large bag of dark chocolate almonds and the wicked hot chocolate chai flavour for me, a small bag of the almonds plus some rock and jams for a gift for someone else.

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Thanks to a different Facebook group, I found out they had opened a milk bar with gelato made on site right next door to The Treat Factory, we have now been there twice and I will post about that on Wednesday.

Berry, food

The Flagon

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As much as I love my Beerenberg tomato sauce, I do kinda resent having to pay $4.45 for a 300ml bottle which last us maybe a week in sausage roll season.

And because we have chosen to take sausage roll season into the summer this year with our meatballs in a tin, which is essentially sausage rolls without the filo pastry, we have been consuming quite a lot of sauce.

When a family member travels to RADelaide (yes that is what those of us who lived there but left do call it, because we do still love it) we make one small request.

Can you visit the Beerenberg factory shop and pick us up a flagon of tomato sauce? Pretty please?

And our wishes were granted.

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300ml VS 2 litres. This should last us a short time! ;) I have no idea how much the flagon was as I did not buy it. But you better believe we will enjoy every single drop of it. If you have not tried Beerenberg tomato sauce, I highly recommend it. I think what makes it so incredible on the tastebuds is the apple they add.

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They make a large range of products and I have never had a bad one yet. The jams are lovely, too. The one thing I do not love are the labels with random names on them. At least they changed the tomato sauce one back to a normal one.

food, Happy Snoskred

Fruchoc Me

fruchocs1a

Those of you in South Australia can think yourselves lucky. And you are incredibly lucky, but maybe you do not recognize it the way those of us who are formerly South Australian know and understand it. Yes, we can sometimes get a Vili’s pasty. In fact I buy boxes of 12 pasties at a time, from a local cash and carry type place.

Yes, Farmers Union Iced Coffee is available in other states now, even in a 2 litre container in the supermarket. Yes, some Beerenberg products can be found by us on various shelves around the place from time to time.

strawberrydonut

But the list of things we cannot experience unless actually present in your state is long. I would love a proper Vili’s sprinkled donut SO MUCH. I miss the soup of the day at the Vili’s Cafe. I miss my Barnacle Bills. Crazy as it might sound you cannot get anything comparable here in NSW. My go-to was the two in one snack pack. Fishettes, I miss you! And those sweet, juicy prawns.

twoinonesnackpack

Until a year or so ago, I could easily get a Fruchoc here. But with Coles recent booting of many items from the shelves and other stores revising their ranges, it became harder to find them. One recent weekend I tried everywhere I could think of, only to fail. The reason I was looking was because I had found a site with a recipe for Fruchocs and I was hungry for them, but not hungry enough to actually make them myself. Or so I thought.

Once I failed at finding them on the shelves, I had no choice. I had to make them. But even that was more difficult than I expected. The recipe called for dried apricots and pears. Dried apricots are somewhat easy but I did not want ones from Turkey as I find them to be flavourless, I wanted Aussie dried apricots and not a single store I went to had those. Dried pears seemed to be an absolute impossibility. I tried Aldi, Woolworths, IGA, Coles, the local fruit and veg shops, nothing. Though I did find some yoghurt covered fruit bites at IGA which satisfied my craving momentarily.

berrytreatfactory

Imagine my surprise when the answer to all my searching was the Berry Treat Factory. Like many unexpected answers it arrived as a surprise in a local group where someone was looking for some pickling salt, and another member suggested to look in the downstairs area of the Berry Treat Factory.

That’s funny, I thought. I did not know they had a downstairs area. It turned out after over 10 years of living here I had never been to the REAL Berry Treat Factory which is off the main street and hidden away behind the train station, at the very back of some commercial units.

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Did they have Fruchocs? No, that would have been too much to hope for. They did have a lot of chocolate covered items like sultanas and nuts. Most importantly in the famed downstairs area they did have Aussie apricots AND dried pears, which I had almost feared I would never find anywhere. They also had a huge range of all kinds of awesome treats. We will be going back, time and again.

This recipe seemed easy but it is the most difficult thing I have ever made. There are no photos of the process, I was too busy! I need a better food processor. I need something that can chop up dried fruits without needing liquid added. I ended up giving up on my food processor and using a blender. Unfortunately this did not work especially well, even with melted coconut oil added. I tried adding water to get these two ingredients to blend together and all that happened for the most part was the dried fruits soaked up the water. This was a happy accident to be honest because the end result is so deliciously juicy. I would definitely add water to the dried fruits again!

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I also used Nestle dark cooking chocolate mixed with some Aldi dark chocolate with sea salt, melting the two together to make an unbeatable combination of awesomeness. Next time I would double chocolate coat them. And once we were done coating fruchocs, we coated some caramel peanuts and some of my Wasabi and Seaweed Macadamia nuts which turned out great.

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It would have been easier and probably cheaper to just order some Fruchocs and have them shipped to me. It seems you can now get them in a dark chocolate coating and that would be my pick I expect.

I did once try to enquire if it would be possible to purchase some Barnacle Bills prawns in a frozen state so I could cook them for my mother, for her birthday. Nobody ever replied to my email. This is probably a good thing because if I could get them I would order several trucks worth.

recipes

Almost Chicken Kievs

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Warning – this post contains some images of raw chicken, a bit further down in the post! My apologies but I wanted to show you the chicken pocket. ;)

Sometime in the later half of 2016 we did a run to Lenards at Warrawong to pick up our big order of chicken. We would usually order 12 mini roasts, a bunch of kievs and filos, and other assorted things. We would bring it all home, foodsave it, put it in the deep freeze, and cook it over the following three months.

When we arrived to pick up our order, they informed us they would be closing at the end of October. When I went online to check other locations, I discovered there was nothing nearby and the closest location would now be Menai in Sydney. We did run up in February or so and grab a bunch more chicken, but since then we did some experiments and created our own version of the Chicken Kiev.

Though our version is not a real chicken kiev by any stretch of the imagination. If you do want to make a “real” one, I suggest this video of the Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ours are not crumbed. My kiev does not contain any garlic at all. The Other Half gets a Jamie Oliver inspired bacon and garlic butter with cheese which I wrap in ham. My kievs are seaweed, wasabi, olives and feta cheese wrapped in ham.

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How do I make the Bacon and Garlic butter filling? I cook the bacon in the oven first then chop it. I use ground garlic and minced garlic to cover all the garlic bases and I use proper butter but you can feel free to use any kind of margarine spread you like if you prefer. I put the ingredients into a bowl and mash them together. With the butter I do suggest taking it out of the fridge ahead of time and if it is particularly cold as it was on this day, you may need to pop it into the microwave for a short burst before attempting to mash it.

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With the feta mix, you can use seaweed and wasabi of any kind. I like to use the Danish style feta as it holds together once you have mixed it, the Greek style is a bit more crumbly and difficult to work with for this recipe. I am lucky because I have a wasabi and seaweed powder which I have sourced from a local nut roasting company, so my powder mix also has macadamia nut oil. I chopped up some olives to add in, as well.

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Then I lay out the mix onto a couple of pieces of ham, roll these up, and stuff this into the chicken pocket.

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The other half gets some cheese added in because he likes it that way.

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Probably the hardest part of this entire recipe is making the chicken pocket. If you do not cut enough of a pocket you can’t fit everything in. If you cut too much, you might create a hole where you do not want one. But once you have done it a few times, you become a bit more confident. On this day we made 18 kievs in total – we like to do this job in bulk.

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The kievs were then paired up into foodsaver bags, vacuum sealed, and then placed in the freezer.

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There is no reason to stick to any kind of kiev rules here, folks. I once had a chicken kiev which was filled with black cherries and Camembert. I’ve thought about doing strawberries, balsamic vinegar and feta, perhaps wrapped in spinach. The only limit is your imagination and what flavours would go well with chicken. I believe almost any flavour suits chicken. In summer I might try mango and avocado salsa of some kind.

Doing this job in bulk – which took us an hour and a half but we also cut up chicken strips during this time – means that we can eat kievs for the next 9 weeks and all I have to do is take them out, defrost them a little, pop them into the roaster, cook them for 42 minutes, and prepare some vegetables to go along with this great dinner. :)

recipes

Sausage Rolls Of Your Choice

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Oh S**t, said I, one Saturday evening as we were preparing to make sausage rolls. We forgot to get more tomato sauce. On checking the bottle in the fridge, there was not enough. We will have to run to the shops. No, said the other half. I will just go without sauce. ARE YOU CRAZY, said I. If you don’t want to go, I will just do a quick run to IGA. You can start shredding the veg then add in the mince and the egg, if you like. And so he did.

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But of course IGA was out of stock, so was Coles – this was the first time I got a hint they had removed it from their range of products they stock. But they still had Beerenberg chutney so I was able to grab that. It is almost the same as the sauce, just chunkier. Luckily Nowra Fresh stocks it and they were stocking the shelves when we arrived for a bulk meat buy-up, so I now have 3 spare bottles in the cupboard plus one in the fridge and I will grab more when I next see them.

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Any South Australian who has ever experienced Beerenberg tomato sauce knows that you cannot settle for a lesser sauce. I normally keep two bottles on hand and replace one when we use the first one up, but we have been enjoying a lot of pasties, sausage rolls and pies just lately. It is winter, and I made a huge batch of chicken sausage rolls a few weeks ago. We ate some, most went into the freezer, where they keep being retrieved and eaten for small lunches or dinners.

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Have you ever seen how much sodium is in the shop bought sausage rolls? I have, and it is unlikely that The Other Half will ever be allowed more than a very occasional one now that he has to watch his sodium. We do have some Vili’s in the freezer for emergencies, but at 649mg of sodium when his daily goal is 1000mg.. that leaves him very little for other meals.

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And the best thing about making our own – I can pack them full of vegetables. We usually put in carrot and zucchini – this time we added in leek and brussel sprouts as well. I do not use any filler at all – zero breadcrumbs – and the recipe is super simple – it is purely mincemeat of your choice, one egg per 500g of mincemeat, then the vegies. Plus an extra egg for the egg wash.

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I take a sheet of puff pastry, cut it in half, lay it on my baking paper, egg wash one side and place the sausage mixture on the other side. Then I use the baking paper to roll the sausage up into the puff pastry. I hand it off to The Other Half, who cuts it up into 4. These get placed into a baking tray lined with baking paper and egg wash the top.

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We even make our own chicken mincemeat these days. We just take chicken breast and put it in the food processor. Things are getting very back to basics around here! But in the case of beef mince, I usually get the 5 star from Aldi and it is excellent. We will make our own one day just to try it.

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Any leftover mince meat can go into a muffin pan. Just spray the tins with cooking spray of your choice, top them with a little cheese, and they make great meatballs. If you are not feeling like the puff pastry deal these meat and vegetable muffins can be a very easy dinner. Just put everything into the food processor, spoon it into the muffin pan, top with cheese, cook for 30 minutes and dinner is served. Since we tried these muffins we have made them a few times, so easy, quick and so tasty!

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If you want to make a non-meat “sausage” roll version, a mix of ricotta and feta with the vegetables would be awesome. I would add in some olives and also some spinach. Maybe mushrooms but lately I have been part cooking them first before putting them on pizza and draining them on paper towel as they seem to be full of excess moisture.

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