Monday, 24 November 2008

Updates (was going to be quick, but got carried away with the food)

Earthboxes - plants are alive, although I've had some casualties (mostly spinach). It's been bizarre weather, and the snails are rampant, so I will reassess & report again when things settle down.

Meal planning - Week one went fairly well. I stuck with it until Saturday, when it unravelled somewhat (a late brunch, followed by a 4pm 'lunch' of hot chips, and popcorn in front of a DVD at 7.45pm Hmmm ... can I blame the weather?). On the upside, this means I now have tomorrow night's dinner still up my sleeve - the Dutch-style baked beans - which is very handy as I could delay shopping (I have been cocooned all weekend) and it's going to be a busy day tomorrow, so I will make it in the slow cooker.

Despite their input to the planning, the kids kicked up a bit of a fuss over some of the meals, but the husband was pretty keen on the recipes from this book, so we'll use it again.

The verdict on each meal [recipes at the end]:

Simple salad cups & fish - I need fish-cooking lessons :P But despite the fact that it fell apart, it was very nice, and the salad was good too (although Miss Tizz had a little trouble coping with apple in a salad) and I probably could have picked a better dressing.

Sheena's fettuccini with prawns & snowpeas - we were a bit heavy with the parmesan, and it was a really sharp cheese - more than normal parmesan - so it was a bit overpowering and the kids weren't keen. So I got several lunches out of it as well. Not the recipe's fault at all - I will make it again and follow it exactly next time.

Lentil curry & rice - this was very simple and very good. And the husband willingly ate vegetarian food! I had to tone down the heat for the kids (used some of the cream left over from the night before), so would use less curry paste next time, or look for a very mild one.

Chinese noodle salad - loved it! The kids, as usual, complained about & picked out the shallots & capsicum, and baulked at the green stuff (coriander). Wouldn't change a thing though - this was fabulous.

Warm chicken & mint salad - probably the hit of the week. Raw onion isn't too popular around here, so I left it out, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. This one will definitely be repeated, despite the "Ewww! What's that green stuff?!" (it was mint this time).

Sweet & sour meatballs with sweet & sour sauce & rice - we didn't end up serving with rice - there was plenty of food without it, although next time I would do it & probably get another full meal out of it. Managed to use up all the eggs yesterday, so the meatballs were a bit fragile, but otherwise pretty good. I would happily have just the sauce - it's full of veges, & would work as a meal on its own with rice. I haven't typed up the recipe (it's late & I'm tired), but if you want it, let me know.

I only ended up making the Strawberry ricotta cups this week, but there was enough to have this dessert for two nights. Kids were very keen on this recipe, although the husband wasn't thrilled by the slight grittiness of the ricotta.

The verdict on this book: A keeper. The kids will adapt!

The recipes

Simple Salad Cups
1 large carrot, diced
1 large potato, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 red apple, peeled, cored & chopped (I didn't peel it)
1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped
1/4 cup low-joule salad dressing (no idea if it was low-joule - I picked a wild lime & something bottle off the shelf, because I'm not normally into salad dressings. It was creamy, and fairly strong, so I toned it down with mayo. Still not sure about it ...)
4 lettuce leaves

Steam or microwave carrot, potato & peas until just tender. While still warm, toss through apple, pecans & dressing. Spoon into lettuce leaves. Chill before serving.

Sheena's fettuccini with prawns & snowpeas
500g shelled green prawns
1 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
500g fettuccine (the recipe specifies mixed tomato, spinach & plain, but we just had plain)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
200 ml cream
10 snowpeas, topped & tailed & cut into thick strips
ground pepper to taste

Simmer prawns in wine for 3-5 mins. Drain (keep the wine!)
Saute onion in olive oil, add prawns & wine, then remove from heat.
Cook fettuccine in boiling water, drain, then return to saucepan.
Stir parmesan through cooked pasta - keep hot.
Pour cream over prawns & onion - and heat gently - do not boil.
Add cream mixture & snowpeas to pasta. Season to taste.
Serve immediately with a green salad & crusty bread (I managed to make bread rolls, but didn't get to the salad before having to eat & run out the door to a meeting - would have been better with the salad to counter the creaminess)

Lentil curry
3 tblsp curry paste
1 onion, finely chopped
425g can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2.5 cups boiling water

In a medium saucepan, heat curry paste until aromatic, about 2 mins. Saute onion in curry paste until soft, then add tomatoes.
Place lentils in another pan with boiling water. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat & simmer gently for 20-25 mins, or until lentils are soft. Stir regularly to stop them sticking.
Add cooked lentils to onion mixture & stir well.
Reheat until curry boils & thickens.
Serve with rice, plain yoghurt & salad.

Chinese noodle salad
375g Hokkein noodles
1/4 bunch shallots, sliced diagonally
1/4 packet bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber, finely sliced
1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (did them in the microwave)
3 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted (did them in the microwave)

1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

In a large bowl, pour boiling water over noodles to cover. Stand for 5 mins. Drain, then rinse in cld water.
Combine noodles, shallots, bean sprouts, cucumber, red capsicum, carrot, sesame seeds & almonds in a serving bowl.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar & shake well.
Pour dressing over noodles & toss well.

Warm chicken & mint salad
1 tsp canola oil
400g skinless chicken breast or thigh fillets, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (left it out)
1/2 green capsicum, thinly sliced
1 cup lettuce leaves, roughly torn
1/2 cup mint leaves

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add chicken & stirfry until cooked Remove chicken to a large bowl. Toss with onion, capsicum, lettuce & mint.
Put all dressing ingredients in a small jar & shake well. Pour over salad, toss lightly & serve with crusty bread.

Strawberry ricotta cups
2 punnets strawberries, sliced
2 tsp vanilla essence (I use vanilla extract)
6 sachets Equal (no no no! I won't use artificial sweeteners, esp. with the kids. Used castor sugar instead)
500g ricotta cheese
400g natural low-fat yoghurt (we had vanilla, so I used that)
6 whole strawberries & mint sprigs to decorate

Sprinkle strawberries with vanilla & half the sweetener/sugar, then refrigerate for 30 mins.
Beat or blend ricotta until smooth, then stir in yoghurt & remaining sweetener/sugar (didn't use the extra sugar because we had vanilla yoghurt)
Spoon a layer of strawberries into individual serving dishes, top with ricotta mixture, then decorate with strawberries & mint (I gave the mint a miss - not worth more fuss from the kids!)

All recipes from The Diabetes Cookbook for the Whole Family by Melissa Armstrong, Jill Gosper & Eileen Burr, and all the staff of the Diabetes Centre, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.

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