Friday, 7 October 2011

Best Mushrooms Ever!

We just finished an overly yummy dinner and the starring feature was mushrooms. Not just mushrooms but flavour packed little bundles - "sensational" declared LA.

"Write this one down. Have you taken a photo for your blog?" he asked. Looks like he's getting the hang of this blogging gig. Hang on, who's getting the hang of this?

Anyway, I have to share my home-devised recipe for stuffed mushrooms, which I tried to keep pretty healthy with feta and just a touch of tasty cheese. Then at least I'll have a record of what I did for next time LA is in the mood for "sensational"...

Sensational Stuffed Mushrooms

-Remove stalks from 6 flat Portobello style mushrooms, brush with oil and bake at 180 for 10 mins.

-Saute 1 chopped red onion and 4 cloves chopped garlic. When soft add sprinkles of Worcester Sauce, Oregano, Thyme, Chilli flakes, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder.

-Add 2 big handfuls of spinach to pan and continue to saute until wilted. Empty spinach onion mix into bowl and allow to cool a little.

-Mix feta, panko bread crumbs and a dollup of hummous into cooled spinach mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

-Heap mixture onto mushrooms, top with a sprinkle of tasty cheese and bake at 180 for about 7 mins until cheese is bubbling.

I didn't use exact measurements in this recipe, when I'm creating new things I often do things by eye. This recipe is one to tweak and put more or less of things depending on your taste and how healthy you'd like to make it!

Made a delicious dinner served with a little piece of steak, salad and guacamole. Would be enough just to have as a vegetarian dish with salad though, it was definitely the star of the plate!


Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Beginning of a Beautiful Greenthumb...

After a trip home to Christchurch this past week I returned to Melbourne with a new goal to complete by the end of the school holidays.  And today I completed it... TICK!
I have some pictures and news about Christchurch and how it is looking these days, six months on from the huge earthquake that rocked it in February this year.  But that stuff, albeit interesting, is also kinda depressing, and i'm not in the mood for depressing today!  So I will share that stuff later.  Back to my goal...
As I went to visit various friends in Christchurch I noticed a few things about their homes that I took away with me.  They were all lucky enough to enjoy living in spacious properties with huge back yards and miles of storage space.  Now I don't know about you, but since the day I turned 30 storage has meant everything to me... I'm kinda in love with the stuff. 
Some of my friends owned their houses and others were renting, but the difference between living in a huge metropolis like Melbourne, and in a smaller city like Christchurch is certainly evident.  Don't get me wrong, I love our little townhouse 4kms from the centre of Melbourne, but we just don't have the space that is available in Christchurch. 
Now for my goal.  Along with the large backyards I soon discovered that every single one of my friends was partaking in... Gardening!  Shock horror.  It's not that weird, I know, but they were all so into their wee veggie gardens - toiling away, tending with care, drinking less (or more?) beer.  I got jealous. 
So today I did my research, visited Bunnings (with two trollies and a lot of muscle needed) and created my Wine Barrel Garden.  LA had been talking about building some containers for veggies for a while now, he also mentioned attaching them to the fence, or on a pulley system....   when I realised that wasn't going to happen this century but Spring surely is going to creep by us, I had to act.

   My three half wine barrels, filled with some gravel in the bottom for drainage.

The loot.

My attempt at planting garlic - some cloves bunged in a pot - we'll see!?

My master plan!  I researched long and hard to ensure my veggies were

I used these little gems to power-up the potting mix that I put into the barrels.

The little green beauties waiting to go in.

The finished product. 
Left barrel:  White Zucchini, Silverbeet and Beetroots.
Middle barrel:  Tomatoes, Basil, Capsicum (seeds) and Rocket.
Right barrel:  Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Spring Onion (seeds).
Tub at front:  Mint and Coriander. 
Plus random Marigold that didn't fit, bought to ward off bugs. 

I checked several websites so that I kind of knew what I was doing...sort of....  It was a chunk of money to spend and I want to get it right!  The best walk through I found was here - Thanks Kim. 

I will keep you all updated on my wee garden's progress!  Now just to remember the watering...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thai Chilli Basil Mince

I love cooking.  I find it theraputic and I usually only choose things to cook each day that I really feel like cooking.  I love looking at cooking books, websites and blogs to get recipe ideas (my fav food blogs are Oh She Glows, The New Healthy and The Food Pornographer).  Tonight however, I had a request from LA.  This doesn't often happen, he usually waits for me to dish up whatever I have decided to make.  Possibly because he has got used to me saying, "Um, I don't really feel like cooking that tonight..."
LA's favourite of all my dishes, Thai Chilli Basil Mince was his request tonight.  And I decided to oblige!  Here is my tried and true recipe.

Thai Chilli Basil Mince
  • 3 red and 2 green chillis, sliced (adjust to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 500g mince
  • 4 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 3Tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Palm Sugar
  • 1 cup fresh Basil, shredded
  • Steamed rice, cucumber and tomato to serve.

Chop all the vegetables
Fry brown onions in a little oil until slightly browned
Add mince and fry until browned
Add chillis, garlic, fish and oyster sauce, palm sugar and stock.  Bring to boil.  Add spring onions and cook on medium heat for 4 mins.

Remove from heat and stir through shredded basil. 
Serve over steamed jasmine rice...
with a side of cooling cucumber and tomato slices.

My new secret ingredient in Thai cooking is the use of Palm Sugar - little cubes that you grate into dishes to add a thick sweetness in the sauce.  This was an ingredient I often left out of Thai recipes, substituting for brown sugar usually.  I always wondered why my sauces never obtained the thick sweetness that I loved in Thai stirfry dishes when we ate out.  The day I tried Palm Sugar was the day I solved this issue.  Being a cheap and fairly easily to find ingredient, I highly recommend you try this out of you haven't already. 
I hope you enjoy this recipe, if you try it please comment and let me know what you think! 
Thanks food friends!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Melbourne Tattoo Expo and Chef Lagenda

Yesterday we attended the first Melbourne Tattoo and Body Art Expo at the Exhibition Centre. LA is thinking about getting a Japanese style tattoo, and so we wanted to go and see what Melbourne has to offer for that style of tattoo all under one roof. 
Adam Kitamoto's work - amazing!
We knew about Ten-Ten Tattoo in Camberwell and were hoping to see Adam Kitamoto at work. We were at luck, as he was working on an Akuza style half sleeve for a girl and we were able to see that his work is amazing.  Luke is seriously considering going with Adam for his tattoo now.

Later we stopped in at Chef Lagenda, a local Malaysian favorite right near our house in Kensington/Flemington. I ordered the Curry Laksa, a staple for us.
Curry Laksa from Chef Lagenda.  Inside the coconutty broth was chicken, prawns, tofu, eggplant, beansprouts and egg + rice noodles. 
It was fantastic as usual! I highly recommend Chef Lagenda for Laksa, at $9.90 you just can't get better value or a more delicious meal. It was filled with soft chicken, bouncy prawns and delicious fried tofu. My favourite part though is the fried eggplant on top - so good!
LA wanted to try something new so he went for the Seafood Tom Yum noodles soup. 
Seafood Tom Yum Noodle Soup

He absolutely raved about this and said he will be getting it again!
Overall a delicious, cheap and authentic Malaysian experience and oh so close to home!
We are lucky....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

I made it!

I am pleased to report I had my first successful trip biking to work on my new Trek Allant WSD today!  YAY!  It was fantastic, hard, a long way, hard, energising, mainly uphill and hard.  Oh, and hard.  I mean, great.  You know how it is with exercise... In truth the 10+kms route I have to take to work was beautiful and it was so nice to be outside in the fresh air and good weather.  But I did break out WAY more of a sweat than I remembered and when I was battling up the hills I was thinking it was all a little too hard.  Especially when a runner passed me... (unfortunately I'm not joking).  The high I was on all day more than made up for it though!  I'm looking forward to many more bike days starting with next Monday.

Tonight I adapted a recipe for dinner from Angela at Oh She Glows - one of my all time favourite daily blog reads.  And boy did it go down well!   Angela's makes a really healthy recipe for a decadant, creamy pasta here.  I added a few things to make it a little less... well a little less vegan!  The addition of tasty cheese made the creamy sauce delish.  It is still a MUCH healthier way to make a cream sauce.  Easy too... and LA declared "Its my new favourite, is there any left?"
Creamy Tomato Basil pasta, adapted from Oh She Glows
  • Cook pasta of your choice
  • Steam broccoli florets and frozen peas
  • Blend 1/2 cup raw cashews, 2 tomatoes, 1 Tbs tomato paste, 1/4 cup water
  • Saute 2-3 minced garlic cloves in a little oil, add sliced mushrooms
  • Add blended mix to garlic, stir over low heat.  Add tasty cheese and melt.  Add chopped prosciutto
  • Remove from heat, add chopped basil and salt/pepper.
  • Mix sauce through pasta.  Top with a little parmesan and serve!
  • With a glass of red, of course!
    Happy Thursday people!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

It's here!

So I just have to touch base with a pic of my new beauty before I hit bed... no basket as of yet, and that is a must for the commute to work but I will hunt for one locally this weekend.  Sorry about the homestyle image but at least you can see that I actually own her!


Bike Time!

I'm so excited!  So, today LA picked up my new bike for me - one that I ordered and payed for over 4 weeks ago!  I haven't even seen it yet, but it will be waiting for me when I get home from work... I can't wait!  Until I can take my own pics, here is one for you to look at... its a Trek Allant WSD 2012:
The Trek Allant WSD 2011 - isn't she pretty?

I'm really looking forward to riding it to my workplace in Thornbury.  From my home in Kensington, Melbourne, it is about 11kms each way.  I take the Capitol City Trail nearly the whole way - we are so fortunate for our bike paths here in Melbourne. 

I bought the bike from Cecil Walker in Fitzroy - they seemed to offer the best price around, $599.  They took longer than they said to get the bike in, but I guess that was out of their hands, as they pointed out.  It was apparently up to the Trek rep.  Anyway, I'm happy with my new toy.  Or at least I hope to be once I see it when I get home tonight!

Have a lovely night petals!