Potato Bake

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This is a recipe I have been making for 20 years. It is NOT an every day recipe. This is something you can have on a special occasion. However if you happen to be my other half I will make a big batch of this for your weekday lunches, maybe once a month or so. He will get baked chicken with it. I think the other half would tell you that this is by far his favourite of all my dishes that I cook.

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You could easily swap out much of the cream for milk if you wanted. You could also steam and then whizz up some cauliflower and put it in with the milk/cream mix to make it stretch further and to add hidden veg. In fact if you were trying to healthy this up and make it a more regular menu planning option, you could probably replace much of the cream and milk with a chicken stock and veg mixture.

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Again like a lot of my recipes, I do not have specific amounts for you to use here. I used all of the lite cooking cream and maybe a cup of milk as this time I was making a huge batch for weekly lunches. This particular potato bake served us for dinner that night, 5 lunches, plus one extra leftover lunch. Into the cream/milk mix for every 1 cup of liquid you add 1 teaspoon mustard powder, i teaspoon chicken stock, and as much parsley and black pepper as you like. You can of course herb as you wish. Turmeric, Rosemary and Dill might be great in here too.

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On the bottom of your cooking dish put in a layer of the cream/milk mix, some bacon, and some leek. Then you will need potato slices to layer on top. The amount you need depends on how much of this you are making. You can also use sweet potato (yams) which I always do. You will need some bacon and leek. I used 6 rashers of short cut bacon and 1 leek chopped up and cooked.

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On top of each layer you add some more milk mix, bacon, leek, then layer again.

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I like to do a potato layer, then a sweet potato layer, then potato, then sweet potato. I keep going until I have layered all the potato.

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When you get to the top, add on some cheese. If your baking dish does not have a lid, I do recommend putting alfoil on top for most of the time you cook it in the oven. How long should you cook it for? I am of the opinion that you make this about lunchtime then put it on at 160C for at least two hours. The longer it cooks the longer all the flavours meld together.

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Before you serve it you will want to put a knife through and make sure the potato is cooked – you might find the outside area has cooked but the middle still needs more time. If that is the case, back into the oven with the whole thing. You might want to make this a few times and figure out how long your quantities take to cook. ;)

This dish is one I take whenever someone asks me to bring a side. Everyone loves it. I do a similar dish with chicken instead of potato, but that is a recipe for another day. :)

recipes

Savory Mince

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This one is an easy and super quick recipe we eat once a week or so. It is usually not the same recipe each time, if I have brussel sprouts in winter I will use those rather than frozen peas, and I will tend to use whatever veg I happen to have on hand.

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Due to The Other Half having high blood pressure, I dilute the oyster sauce with boiling water, which is what you see up top there. I do try to use the most low sodium oyster sauce I can find at the supermarket, which locally happens to be this one at 560mg per 20g –

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Remember I am rural though so you might be able to find one with less sodium than I can. Check the bottles and remember to try to compare the same amounts. The same goes for the soy sauce.

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The recipe is so easy and simple which is one reason I love it. I do not use amounts for this one. You simply sweat the leeks, capsicum and carrots for a few minutes.

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Add in your beef mince to the pan, I always add some red wine here before I put the lid on, for more flavour and to cook the mince slightly quicker. Up to you if you want to do that.

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Once the mince is done, you break it up, mix in the veg, add your soy and oyster sauce, let it simmer for a bit, defrost the frozen peas in the microwave then at the last moment add them in and stir through.

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I top mine with some Grana Padano and Costco Cheese – The Other Half only gets the costco cheese as Grana Padano is too salty for him.

Because there are two of us, we get half each and therefore we do not need to use rice underneath it. You may want to add rice either underneath or to the pan if you have more people to serve. You could add in cabbage if you wanted to make this stretch a little further without rice.

recipes

Awesome Tuna Pasta Bake

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You might think – why is Snoskred posting a recipe for something so simple. In the past I would have used tuna bake sauce from a jar to make tuna bake. Then one day I had the idea to use the bottom layer of Fake Lasagne with things added to it instead. It turned out great so I kept doing it.

I have been trying to fuel the other half with better fuel, these past few months. He is a real meat and potatoes guy, because he actually has an allergy to quite a lot of fruit and vegetables where his throat will swell up. Off the top of my head, he can eat potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, cooked carrots not raw, cooked tomatoes not raw, capsicum / red & green peppers, onion, leek, cauliflower, peas, corn, spinach, lettuce, and I often manage to put zucchini into a pasta sauce but only by whizzing it up in the Nutri Ninja first.

For lunches he used to eat a lot of what I consider to be empty calories. AKA things I will not feed the chooks! He likes the most simple of things – a ham and cheese sandwich. If I did not make him a sandwich, he would have 2 minute noodles or grab a sausage roll from the lunch truck.

Nutrition wise, these things are Not Optimal. And he was feeling Not Great much of the time. I spoke to him about trying to add in more vegetables and make lunch healthier. He said he would give it a try. I came up with a plan.

Now, every Sunday I make his meal for the upcoming week. I have been rotating between five different things in winter. They are – Fake Lasagne – Tuna Pasta Bake – Healthy Chicken StripsChicken & Sweet Corn SoupVegetable Soup similar to this one. I will probably be dropping the soups in summer.

Most of these things have recipes already here on the blog, so I figured it was time to share the tuna pasta bake I have been making because it is Not The Normal Thing. It is basically a quiche. This is so simple, I make it in a large batch so it makes 6 serves, and it takes me maybe 20 minutes. 15 minutes of that is pasta cooking time.

I buy all the parts for this from Aldi, except the eggs which either come from our chooks or if they are not laying I use Manning Valley eggs from Coles. You may not have an Aldi so you might have to substitute with your own stuff.. I would usually put freshly chopped and slightly fried brussel sprouts in here however they are over for this year and I can only get frozen ones now. We are eating the frozen ones in dinners but I can’t cut them up small enough for The Other Half to put them into the tuna bake, plus there is a large element of danger cutting up frozen things.

You will need –

2 large tins of tuna
2 small tins of corn kernels
1 leek (missed it this time, whoops!)
600mls cream (I choose the UHT long life cream)
6 large eggs (or 8-10 small eggs)
500 grams uncooked pasta

Spices I use.

mustard powder, parsley, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric – you can add what you like.

You could add –

Other vegetables – carrots, pumpkin, potato or sweet potato, capsicum, zucchini, peas, spinach, tomatoes sliced and laid on top would be pretty awesome. I will try a few of these things over coming months to see if The Other Half likes them in this recipe.

You could modify this entirely and not use tuna and corn. Perhaps you want to use this as a quiche, so you could add in broccoli, bacon, ham, mushrooms, feta cheese, olives, all the things that are great in a quiche.

1. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

2. Add in your pasta to cook.

3. While the pasta cooks, prepare your additions by opening the tins. I usually like to put the tuna on a plate and attack it with a fork so the clumps are smaller.

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4. Place your eggs into a large bowl. Add in the cream. Add in any herbs and spices you might like – I usually put a touch of mustard powder, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. Mix well.

5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and then place it into a large baking dish. I do not bother greasing it first, it always seems to come out of the pan well.

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6. Onto the top of the pasta, evenly layer over your tuna, corn, leek, and any other additions you want to use.

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7. Pour the cream mixture over the top. Mix the cream mixture and your additions through the pasta with a fork. Top with cheese, then bake for 42 minutes at 180-200C.

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And here is the cooked version!

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This might be super simple but it is tasty and full of awesomeness – protein from the eggs and tuna, dairy from the cream, there are carbs in there thanks to the pasta, and a couple of vegetables when I don’t totally forget to put them in.

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And there they all are, packed and ready for the week, with one extra, too! I feel that this is better fuel than a ham and cheese sandwich. The Other Half feels a lot better. That pleases me. :)

recipes

Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup

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I have been making this soup since 1988, the year I first did home economics at school. They taught us how to make this quite simple but soooo delicious soup and in winter I could never get enough of it.

I have fine tuned the recipe over the years. I took out the cornflour fairly early on because I was not a great fan of the thickness that gave to the soup stock. If I want that kind of consistency I am much more likely to order it in a Chinese restaurant because they do it way better than I ever did. Here is a more traditional version.

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This most recent version absolutely KILLS because of the addition of carrots and brussel sprouts. I know one reader of this blog – Dawn – is not a fan of the brussel sprout, but in this soup they mostly disappear and cannot be noticed. That is a bit of a shame for me, because I love the flavour of them. Anyway, added veg is always a bonus in my opinion. :)

For my current version – which makes about 10 servings – you will need – 

1 leek
1 onion
200g chopped carrots
200g chopped brussel sprouts
1 teaspoon coconut oil, dash extra virgin olive oil
Minced Garlic (I use 2 teaspoons worth, you can use more or less)
400g chicken breast
2 cans creamed corn
4 eggs
1.5 litres of chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Spices –

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Black pepper, parsley, turmeric, white pepper, paprika, chives, cinnamon

Melt the coconut oil in your stock pot, add in a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Add in your garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so.

Add in the onion and leek – stir well. Add in your spices at this time.

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Add the carrot and brussel sprouts – let the veg sweat for 5 minutes. here is where you might add extra vegies of your own – cabbage might work well in this soup, spinach or kale would be good additions too.

Meanwhile, prepare your chicken stock and chicken breast ready to add to the pan. I like to add my chicken breast in large steak pieces. This makes it easier to fish the chicken out once it is cooked, for shredding.

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Once the 5 minutes are up, add your chicken stock and chicken breast. Put the pot on simmer, and walk away for a good 20 minutes.

Once the 20 minutes are up, your chicken should now be beautifully cooked. Your flavours will have co-mingled nicely. Take the chicken out and place on a chopping board, allow it to cool while you perform the next step.

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Turn the heat up to get the soup boiling. Add the creamed corn. Crack your eggs and have them ready to add into the soup. Once the soup is boiling, pour the eggs slowly in while stirring the soup.

Shred or chop the chicken, add it back into the soup. Add in your soy sauce, allow to simmer for another 5 minutes, then serve with crackers, toast, whatever floats your boat. :)

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The egg drop part is my favourite. I love getting that soup bubbling and then pouring the eggs in, and stirring, as the egg is quickly cooked and makes those streaky white lines. I believe the traditional recipe only puts in the whites. Me, I love putting in the whole egg. It is just a shame the yolk does not do that streaky thing, it kinda just vanishes into the soup.

recipes

Savory Beef Mince

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We used to eat Tacos regularly here, until we discovered how much salt is in the seasoning mix. Salt is actually not a problem for me – I have low blood pressure and have been advised to keep my salt intake at a decent level. Salt IS a problem for The Other Half, who has high blood pressure. So Tacos got kicked to the kerb.

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Greenwell Point Chinese Restaurant make a very delicious San Choy Bow, so I thought I would try to replicate that at home to replace tacos. Just one word of caution though – some of the oyster sauces can be very high in sodium, so my advice is to read the package carefully and pick the one which has the least sodium. For us, we found it to be Ong’s Oyster Sauce, though being regional Australia we probably have less of a range to choose from.

You can make this any way you want to, but here is how I do it. For my version you will need –

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500g Beef Mince
100g Brussel Sprouts, chopped
150g Carrots, chopped
10g Coconut Oil (to use in the pan)
18g Oyster Sauce (1 serving)
125mls red wine of your choosing.
Tasty shredded cheese to sprinkle on top.

Spices

Spices –

White Pepper, Turmeric, Chives, Paprika, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Parsley (last 2 not pictured)

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Melt the coconut oil in the pan, and add in the carrots and brussel sprouts. Let them sweat for 5 minutes or so. Then add in the herbs.

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Move all the veg to one side of the pan, and add in the mince. I like to break mine up a little at this point, however The Other Half thinks it is easier to break up if you do *not* do this. Cook your mince, your way! But make sure to pour the red wine over the top and put the lid on so it can simmer. Now put your kettle on to boil and walk away for 10 minutes.

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Why did we boil the kettle? I like to dilute the oyster sauce with 100mls or so of boiling water before pouring it in. It makes the flavour go a little further. Just be careful because it will be very hot once you add the boiling water, as you can see by the steam rising here.

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Break up your mince, mix the veg and mince together, pour over the oyster sauce and stir well. You might want to add some soy sauce at this point – we no longer do, as The Other Half seems to be allergic to it. Let it simmer another 5 minutes. You could poach an egg during this time, or fry one, to sit on top and let the gorgeous yolk smoosh into the mince.

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Serve into bowls and add some shredded cheese on top, and you’re done! It might not look gourmet, but it tastes amazing.

You can modify this in about 900 different ways, you might like to add different veg, you might want to try a different kind of mince, different spices, different sauces. It is a quick and easy one pan meal which takes maybe 10 minutes of vegetable prep time, and 20-30 minutes of cooking time. If you wanted to serve this to four people, you could put it over rice, pasta, potatoes or sweet potatoes..

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Supervisor kitty was once again otherwise engaged in front of the gas heater. ;) This is getting to be a real problem for me! I don’t quite know how to manage in the kitchen without my supervisor looking over giving me that “Ok, if you really think that will work, but I have my doubts about this plan” improbable kitty face..

recipes

Healthy Chicken Strips

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Traditional crumbed chicken is something my grandmother taught me to cook when I was growing up. It was one of the very first dishes she taught me. It involves love, time, and a lot of effort, plus plenty of eggs and butter. I can never make it without thinking of her.

Love, time, and a lot of effort are not always something I have on hand. So when I discovered Healthy Chicken Nuggets at Skinnytaste, I thought I would give them a try. They turned out awesomely and The Other Half was a big fan.

Me personally, I wanted a strip rather than a nugget, because I was the one crumbing them. And he didn’t mind what format they arrived in, as long as they got in his belly. I now make a big batch of these on Sundays, and he takes some for lunch each weekday.

I have tweaked the original recipe somewhat. Here is how I make them, step by step with pics. This is not a recipe where I use exact amounts, myself. You will get messy making this!

You’ll need –

Chicken to crumb. I use breast chicken cut into strips.
If we are eating it for one meal I will use 250g of chicken for each person.
Extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the chicken.
Baking trays lined with baking paper to place your crumbed chicken onto.

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For the crumbs –

Breadcrumbs of your choice.
Parmesan cheese.
Parsley.
Black pepper.
Any other herbs you like to add.

Mix these items together on a large plate. Don’t use too much cheese. When you’ve made it a few times, you’ll know how much is best.

Set the oven to 200C and get it warming, while you do the crumbing.

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Place the chicken into a bowl with some olive oil, and then smoosh it around until all the chicken is lightly coated. Take the chicken out of the bowl and lay it on a plate so any excess oil can drain off.

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Add the oiled chicken to your crumbing plate. Turn the chicken over, pushing it down into the crumbs to coat it. Do this to each side of the chicken until all sides are covered.

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Lay the crumbed chicken on your baking tray. Once the tray is full of chicken, place in the oven for 15 minutes, then take the tray out and flip them over once. Return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes. If you like them crispy on the outside, do 20 minutes each side.

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These are great to have in the fridge for a snack, they can be eaten hot out of the oven or cold out of the fridge. I recommend making a double batch each time and saving the other half for lunches. ;) Or making a huge batch like I do each Sunday, for weekday work lunches for The Other Half.

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health, recipes, Snoskred Faves

Adventures With Protein

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Did you know that in Australia, you can visit your GP and ask for a “wellness plan”. This will mean you are given X number of bulk-billed visits to a dietitian, and an exercise physiologist. For non Aussies, bulk billed translates to completely cost free to the patient.

For the first two months of 2016, I was doing pretty well on my own. I lost 10kg. After my diverticulitis adventure, I was struggling a little and I got stuck at 85kg for over a month. Part of that was the enforced “none at all” and then “just a little exercise” directive I was given.

Part of that was struggling to replace some of the foods that I was using to help me lose weight – eg nuts are mostly out other than softer nuts like macadamias and pecans, anything with seeds are mostly out eg tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, cucumber. I ended up replacing these better foods with things that were around the same amount of calories but much less nutritional value, like hot cross buns! I won’t lie, I love a hot cross bun.

Lunches were the most difficult to fix, because I was mostly having the same thing every day and it involved tomatoes. I’m someone who likes to stick to something, when I love it and it works for me.

So my doctor recommended the wellness plan option, and scheduled an appointment with the dietician, and the exercise physiologist – hereafter known as trainer, because that is too long to type, lol.

The weekend before the appointment we happened to be at Shellharbour and I wanted to visit the health food store there and get some advice about protein. I usually steer clear of these places because my experiences with them have been Not Great, Bob. Usually the ones around here are staffed by muscly, burly blokes who are not the brightest bulb on the tree. And this place was no exception to the rule. I’ll now recreate the discussion for you.

Me – “I want to get some protein. Just protein. I don’t want anything else in there. No stevia, no sweeteners, no extras. Just protein.”

Him – “Ok, well generally the reason they put those things in there is because protein tastes pretty bad on its own.”

Me – “It won’t be on its own, I will be flavouring it myself. With something like this.” (holds up powdered peanut butter which I already had found and was intending to purchase) “Or with cocoa powder, maybe a little maple syrup if it needs sweetening.”

Him – “Ok, then you could try this one. But I am warning you now, you will not like how it tastes.”

Me – “Is there maybe a smaller packet I could try, to see if I like it?”

Him – “This is the smallest size.”

Ok then, armed with 1kg of Whey Protein, and the powdered peanut butter, I left victorious. Momentarily. Because I really was not sure what I should do with this stuff. However I had my dietitian appointment coming up and I figured she could clue me in.

Of course the first thing I did when I got home was open the packet and taste this stuff. I can now tell you how protein tastes to me. Like absolutely nothing. It has no flavour at all. You could add it to anything and I would say the only thing you will notice is the occasional grainy, gritty texture. Because it does have a bit of a texture to it.

The second thing I did was make a shake with the peanut butter powder. OMG it tastes incredible. And I discovered you can get it at Coles, too! Which is good because I am going to be buying a lot of this. If you like peanut butter or peanuts, you will LOVE this stuff.

So I took these things along with me, plus my MyFitnessPal records for the past 3.5 months along to see the dietitian. She asked me a lot of questions and then she gave me absolute gold in return. Here are the goldest nuggets –

1. Beetroot would work well with ham and cream cheese on a rice cracker, for lunches. It is EPIC, I’m telling you. But she would like me to try and add tomatoes back in, because I had tolerated them fine for 40+ years, plus the seeds are pretty soft.

2. Protein shakes are best to have around 30 minutes after exercise. If I use 1 cup of milk that is a good place to get one of my daily serves of dairy. To begin with I should start with half a serving (15g = 13g protein) and see how that goes. If I feel like I need more, I can work my way up to 30g. The peanut butter powder has 4g protein for 1 tablespoon. So in one small shake, I get 17g protein.

She gave me some suggestions to try with the shakes, eg add greek yoghurt, freeze some bananas and add them in, strawberries and other berries should be fine if my blender is good enough.

Here is the protein shake recipe I am loving a lot.

15g Naked Whey protein powder
1 tablespoon PB2 – Peanut butter powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
35g-40g frozen banana – I break them into pieces and freeze.
1 cup milk.

Sometimes I will leave the cocoa powder or the cinnamon out, depends how I am feeling that day. I find the banana sweetens it enough, but I have added a touch of maple sugar once to see what that was like. It wasn’t really needed.

Usually I have my shake between 3-4pm and it leaves me feeling very full. I end up needing less dinner as a result, which is also an epic win.

I was looking for a small cup blender specifically for these shakes because the better you blend them, the less texture of protein you notice. I ended up with the Nutri Ninja and I bought a couple of extra cups for it. The awesomeness I will be whizzing up in this thing is endless!

How Am I Now?

Health wise I am back to where I was at the end of February. I am starting to feel more comfortable exercise wise and I’m ok with pushing myself a bit harder now.

The weight loss has started back on a downward trend, I’ve seen the number 84 on the scales now. My goal is 70kg by October however I am not sure how 70kg will work for me. We’ll wait and see.

My nutrition is a LOT better, and I find I do not want things I used to want. The closest I will get to a potato chip now is Vege Chips – and if you have not tried those, you should.

I’m still a shitty blog friend – and a shitty blogger – right now, and I am still deeply apologetic for that. On the other hand, I am a lot more fit and active than I was back when I was a good blog friend and good blogger, and that is something which is very important to me right now, especially with a general anesthetic for the colonoscopy in my near-ish future. I can’t be sorry about that – it is what I need to do for myself right now. :)

exercise, health, recipes

The Bolognese Of Snoskred

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Otherwise known in our household as “red sauce pasta” or even “awesome sauce”. I’ve mentioned it in the Fake Lasagne post but I have never posted how I make it here on the blog..

Over the years, I’ve made this sauce many different ways, chopping up the various vegetables and so forth. My most recent version involves blending carrot and zucchini in the blender and this makes the sauce extra awesome in my opinion, plus, it is a lot simpler vegetable preparation wise. I’m making it in quite large batches so I can make 3x dinners and 3-4 lunches out of one very large pot of sauce.

I don’t have a strict recipe or amounts, but here is what I usually put in it when making the large batch – I’ve put notes in for how much I use when making a smaller batch.

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2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped leeks – many spices eg paprika, cinnamon, basil, parsley, oregano – sweat these together for 5-10 minutes in olive oil then remove from pan. Remove 1 leek if making a small batch (eg using 500g mince instead of 1 Kilo)

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2 red capsicum (pepper) chopped – sweat this for 5-10 minutes in olive oil then remove from pan. (Use 1 if making a small batch)

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1kg mince – you can choose what kind of mince you prefer. I like beef and chicken or just beef. I place this in the pan, break it up, then cover with red wine plus a dash of white wine, then put on the lid and allow it to simmer well for 15 minutes. If you have used chicken mince you will find it takes on the colour of the red wine via this method. (500g for small batch)

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Add back in the capsicum, leek and onions. Stir well.

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Add in 4-5 large carrots and 3 small zucchini – this I puree well in the blender, but if you prefer it chopped you can do it that way. I just peel the carrots and chop them and the zucchini into large chunks and add a little water to make blending easier but if you don’t mind the skins on the carrots, that is your option and you can skip the peeling step.. 2 carrots, 1 small zucchini for small batch.

You can also add other vegetables if you like – me personally I would add mushrooms and olives but the other half does not like them, so I tend to add those in when I am reheating a small serve of sauce for myself.

I find the puree adds extra awesomeness to the sauce. Stir well and allow all of the added ingredients to simmer together for 10 minutes.

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Now add –

1 x jar of tomato paste
1 x jar of Basilico pasta sauce
1 x jar of Passata – not for small batch
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes (today I used another jar of passata as we were out) – not for small batch
1 x jar of red peppers pesto – not for small batch

Stir well, then leave the sauce to simmer on a smaller burner for an hour or more, stirring occasionally..

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When the sauce is simmered together until it forms an awesome sauce, you can use it however you like.

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I will usually prepare this in the morning, have a little sauce over boiled and mashed potato for lunch, and put the rest of the sauce into containers and into the fridge for later use. We would usually have red sauce pasta for dinner that evening. I would also make Fake Lasagne with this sauce, and Ricotta, Spinach and Bacon cannelloni, which will appear here as a recipe at a future time. :)

cooking, recipes, things to remember

Spice Time

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Twice a week, I receive my email from Aldi that tells me what the upcoming specials will be. On the 9th of April I spied with my little eyebulbs spice sets. I used the Aldi system to send an email to The Other Half about this and I said if they were still there the next time we shopped I would like to get them.

With Aldi you are taking a huge risk if you do not go on the day something is advertised to arrive. These spice sets were due to be out Wednesday the 15th of April and we did our fortnightly shop on the 12th of April, so our next shopping trip was not due until the 26th of April.

I did not make a special trip, I just hoped they would still be there. And as it turned out, there were some left.There are 30 spices in all – 2 packs of 15 and not a single double up which makes for great variety.

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Chicken Salt – Garlic Salt – Coriander – Nutmeg – Ginger – Parsley – Cinnamon – Oregano – Mixed Herbs – Basil – Paprika – Rosemary – Cumin – Turmeric – Chilli Flakes – Hot Chili – Mustard – White Pepper – Thyme – Garlic – Curry – Mixed Spice – Spiced Up Salt – Celery Salt – Chives – Garam Masala – Whole Cloves – Cinnamon Sugar – Steak Seasoning – Vanilla Sugar

Luckily, due to my recent meat buying of some very cheap but excellent chicken breasts plus Aldi have been selling larger bulk cuts of steak which we have bought, cut up, and foodsaved at half the price we normally pay for those same cuts, this week we did not have to buy any meat at all. Not even bacon. I have 2kg diced up and stored in the freezer in perfect amounts for cookery.

So there was room in the budget to buy these spices and I am deeply thrilled to have new combinations to try out with our regular meals.

I did a chicken and bacon pasta on Monday. When I put in the garlic, onions and leek, I added some garlic salt, chives, basil, parsley, white pepper and nutmeg, plus cinnamon and paprika which I always use. The results were truly epic, in particular the chives, white pepper, and the garlic salt gave it a nice kick.

I rarely add salt to our meals when cooking them as The Other Half has high blood pressure, though I do keep a Himalayan Pink Salt grinder handy for myself to use on the completed food if I feel like it. That was also purchased at Aldi. :)

The dinner I made tonight, well, there was a spice incident. I was making vegetable soup and I had in mind a soup Vilis Cafe used to cook which had a lot of awesome Hungarian pepper in it. I keep a jar of Chili in the fridge and I’d added some of that, plus some cayenne powder, and then I went to add white pepper and more flew out than I’d intended.

When the soup was done cooking, I took out a potato and ate it while I waited for The Other Half to return from the mancave. It wasn’t very spicy to be honest, and I was wondering where all my spices had gone. Well, somewhere in the whizzing the soup process, those spices came out to play, and even after adding cream and cheese, my eyes were watering with every mouthful, my lips were burning..

I went in to the other half and said I thought maybe I had gone too far with the spices, and he wholeheartedly agreed. I love it spicy but this was a bridge too far!

So if you have an Aldi, you might want to keep an eye out for the spice sets next time you visit. They are excellent value – the spices Aldi regularly have in stock sell for $1.99 per container, and here you get them for $1.33 per container. Some of these spices are rarely seen at Aldi, though sometimes they do have a few flavours as special buys.

Do you like it spicy? :)

Let me know in the comments! Also let me know if you know any special powers these spices are known to have. For example, Turmeric is said to be excellent for your eye health. I add it to things quite often now – I love the colour – and I do notice a reduction in those eye floaters.

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Food Obsessions – Potato & Egg

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I love reading food blogs. Food blogs often make me hungry for very specific things and oftentimes these will be things I would need to go to a supermarket to recreate, so in general I’ll just bookmark a recipe to put on the next food plan..

In the past few weeks it seems like there has been a fried egg thing going on across the various food blogs. Somewhat unfortunately, I always have eggs in the house, so for lunches I went on a little fried egg spree.

Then one day, the stars aligned in the universe and I had a strange thought about adding an egg to that nights dinner as I was deeply craving a fried egg.. much deliciousness was the result. Now, I don’t know how I will ever eat this particular meal without one or more fried eggs on top.

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Potato with bacon and onion has been in our meal rotation since I was a teenager, though my sister was usually the bacon and onion person and I would put on all kinds of exotic concoctions, from fresh cooked capsicum, mushroom and bacon, right up to bolognese sauce, chicken cacciatore or tuna mornay.

Recently we switched out onion for leek in almost every meal we use onion in. Trimmed leeks are available 2 in a packet from Aldi for $2.99 and we much prefer the flavour of leeks.

I still enjoy more exotic options on my potato and will usually add in things like mushroom at a minimum but the other half is all about simplicity and he loves bacon and leek.

If you have never made potato with toppings, here is my most recent recipe. :)

Potato with Bacon, Leek, Mushroom & Egg

I’m going to give you more than one way to do each step because that is how we roll here and I have prepared this a multitude of different ways.

Prepare The Potato –

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My first choice would be – peel, chop and then boil the potatoes. You do lose some of the potato goodness this way.

My second choice would be – peel the potatoes first, roll them around in a little extra virgin olive oil, add a few herbs – Paprika is a must for me! – plus salt and pepper. Then bake potatoes in a roasting pan preferably one with a lid. This option mostly keeps the potato flavour and goodness within the potato. I do like to add a splash of white wine to this, as it will steam up when the pan gets hot and permeate through the potatoes for extra flavour.

My third choice would be – wrap potatoes in alfoil and bake. This definitely keeps all the goodness inside the potato however, if you do not like the skins you will have to remove them from a hot potato which is not optimal.

I’ve also done baked potatoes and then you open them up and take out the innards, mix the potato and fillings together and then stuff it back into the potato. This is fiddly and time consuming and to be honest, I am not a huge fan of potato skins. I would do this if we had people coming over and I wanted to make something relatively simple but special. But if stuffed potatoes is your preference, you’re eating it, so go to it and enjoy. :)

Prepare Your Toppings

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First choice – chop bacon, mushrooms, onion/leek, add a tiny bit of butter to a a non stick frypan, fry toppings until cooked the way you would like them.

Second choice – chop bacon, mushrooms, onion/leek, add butter or margarine, cover, and microwave on medium heat until cooked to your preference – this usually takes approximately 3-4 minutes on 600w with my microwave

Third choice – chop bacon, mushrooms, onion/leek, in a saucepan put in some butter or margarine, half a teaspoon of garlic, add in the bacon, mushrooms & leek, stir about and allow to cook a little. Then add in 1/2 cup of white wine and an extra touch of butter, allow to simmer and cover the saucepan. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and it should be done.

Mash The Potatoes

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Once the potatoes are cooked your way, add them to a bowl, add in a little butter and cheese, and smoosh them up some with a fork. We are not talking a perfect mash here, you want them a little chunky. Sprinkle a little cheese on top

Prepare Your Egg(s)

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First choice – fry eggs in a frypan until they are cooked how you like them. Mine, I like to flip, but sunny side up would work too.

Second choice – poach your eggs in your egg cooker or poacher.

Third choice – soft boil the eggs. Peel eggs – this can be difficult with soft boiled eggs which is why this is a third choice.

Fourth choice – scramble the eggs. You can also add back in your bacon and leek with a little cheese. The only downside to this choice is – no gorgeous yolk to ooze into your potatoes.

Assemble Your Meal

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Add your topping mixture to the potato mash, put the eggs on top, cut into the eggs with a knife and allow the yolk to ooze, and you are done.

It is time to eat!

Now bear in mind, you can take this recipe and make the ingredients your own. For protein you might prefer to use chicken, sliced beef, pulled pork. You might be out of bacon so you could use ham. You might have leftover turkey and so you might slice it and cook it in a frypan and then top with some cranberry sauce and you might use sweet potato or yam as your base. Some people like to put avocado, bacon and prawns or shrimp. You might want vegetarian bacon or no meat at all.

You might even want to use mashed cauliflower, broccoli, turnip, pumpkin, sweet potato, swede, baked mushrooms or even a combination of these instead of potato as the base. You might not want leek or onion – some people have a bad reaction to those.

You might have leftover pasta sauce which you can heat up and pour over some freshly cooked potatoes. As I mentioned above, I love to put chicken cacciatore or tuna mornay over potatoes.

The only limit is your imagination, ingredients on hand, and your preference of what flavours you prefer together.

Over to you!

What do you like to put over the top of potatoes? I’d love new ideas if you have any. :)

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