Monday, May 31, 2010

101 update

I have completed 12 of my 101, failed 9 and have lost interest or no longer need to do about half. I mentioned earlier I would be re-evaluating it, seeing how many I could do by today, 31st May. I didn’t get many more completed but I did get a bunch more started. So I am going to continue on with a few minor modifications on ones I had failed at or have lost interest in. I have already donated the money to charity, so I am not cheating, just improvising.

A few things I had planned were to do every month. Since I have failed most of them, I decided to switch it to do it 33 times, as there are 33 months in this thing.

To see what changes I have made click here. I have bolded the ones I have done, italicised changes and hopefully should be able to mark a bunch more off soon. If you have one of these lists link to it in the comments below!

Chicken, feta and avocado pasta



On Saturday I had a pot luck dinner to go to. I had no idea what to make. I nearly went out to buy a roast chook to use to make enchiladas and just as I went to step out the door, it started bucketing down with rain! Then I remembered this challenge and decided to see what I could make. Here’s what I came up with.

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chicken (from my freezer)
1 onion
1 cup cream
1 packet pasta
1 avocado, diced
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pine nuts

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and put back in saucepan.

Fry the onions in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the cream.

Add the chicken mix to the pasta, along with the avocado, feta and pine nuts. Mix to combine and serve.

Can you believe it was all leftover things from my fridge/freezer and pantry? And it seems so gourmet. I was so happy with the result. Thanks Katiegirl! You save me $11 on a chook I didn’t need and got me to use up what I had!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Katiegirls challenge

Over at Katiegirls blog she is having a clean out your pantry comp where you can win a free $21 challenge book. I did a quick glance the other day and made something, then today did a proper clean out and look. I obviously really like tinned tomatoes I discovered! Lol.

So for the next few weeks I am going to see what amazing things I can invent from ingredients I forgot about. Here’s some of the things...
Polenta – I thought I threw this away, because I wasn’t going to use it. Obviously I didn’t, which is good because I now have a recipe in mind!
Easi-yo drinking yoghurt sachets – I got these on clearance a while ago, even though they weren’t near expiry. I’ve already made muffins which I will post about soon. I have a few more ideas for it too.
Tinned passionfruit – I never use it, so why did I buy it? It will go to good use though I am sure.
Mixed nuts – I have had these for a while sitting in my Tupperware container. Tonight I crushed the almonds for a recipe I have in mind tomorrow and I have 3 more ideas for the rest of the nuts.
A 3kg tin of peaches – I remember when I bought these my SIL asked what I would do with that many peaches without them going off. I remember them being so cheap I said I would work it out! Lol. So I will be using this entire tin in this challenge. I have decided to call it “Peach Week” and will be posting about it on my other blog here.

So I have a few things to use in this challenge and by the end of it i will have saved money and have more space in my pantry! Awesome challenge Katiegirl! Thanks.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rainbow chard pizza



Last night I finally got around to making the rainbow chard pizza. I used the calzone base recipe from my book 26 Ingredients.

For the topping
2 Tbsp tomato sauce (I had no paste)
Mozarella cheese
A little bit of crumbled feta cheese
1 rainbow chard leaf roughly torn
A few slices of ham roughly chopped
A sprinkling of pine nuts

I spread the sauce on first, followed by the mozzarella.
The I sprinkled the rest of the ingredients on and baked it in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.
It was delicious. The rainbow chard tasted just like spinach, so you can use either for any recipe that called for either.

It was a nice, quick easy dinner that used up some little bits and pieces in my fridge.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A necessary evil



My daughters have both been bottle fed. I am not against breast feeding, I just couldn’t do it. I admire those women who can and who it is easy for. My 1st daughter lost weight at birth which is normal but did not get back to birth weight until she was 6 weeks old. We had a lot of problems breast feeding and I was advised by all medical persons concerned to go with formula.

Personally I did not enjoy it so was rather relieved. I had a lot of milk, but it did not fill my daughter or giver her any nutrients as even when I expressed and she had a bottle full of breast milk, she was still not full.

So for me, bottles and formula were necessary, but it is a NIGHTMARE if you can’t find a single one and your baby won’t drink out of anything else.

My 1 year old is pretty good with drinking out of cups during the day and doesn’t always wake at night. This week I was down to 1 bottle. How that happened I have no idea. I know there was one at her dad’s house and one here, but where the others disappeared to is beyond me.

Earlier this week we went for a walk to the shops. She had the bottle on the way down, and walking around the shops, but somewhere between the shops and home it disappeared. Usually I don’t let her sit there with one, but I was hoping she’d sleep as she was laying down and was tired.

Oh, well I thought. It won’t matter. She can have a cup during the day and a dummy should suffice for the night as she has a lot to eat and drink during the day. I was WRONG!!

NOTHING would settle her. I resorted to my 2 year olds drink bottle, so she would at least drink something. There are 2 problems with this. 1.) She cannot lay down to drink, so she ends up waking up fully. 2.) If she does fall asleep it leaks everywhere.

This has resulted in me having pretty much no sleep this week which has been no fun. I thought after a few days she’d be alright. I didn’t have much trouble weaning my first daughter. This one though, wow, she doesn’t want to give up.

Well, yesterday her dad came over with her bottle and you should’ve seen her bouncing around she was so excited. I was going to persist, but when it is a choice between decent sleep or no bottle, I will pick a decent sleep.

If i had been able to breast feed this would not have been a problem!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Productive frugal day

I have had a rather productive day today. I’ve consolidated my freezers. I have 2 and yesterday I realised I only have enough stuff for 1 so I may as well switch the other one off. I defrosted the big one an as I was packing its contents into the other freezer I took note of everything I have.

I’ve done a little stock take of my fridge and pantry to plan my meals for the next few weeks. I have enough for about 3 ½ weeks, possibly 4 weeks. I should only need to spend about $40 on fresh fruit, some toilet paper and pasta.

I have done some cooking, banana cake, peanut butter cookies, chicken soup, cooked up some chevaps and fried some sad celery for a soup I’ll make tomorrow.

I am consciously going through my house and everything I do to see where I can save money. I know I have been pretty slack lately and I really need to save some money. I am going to be re-reading my frugal books and placing reminders up around my house to help me.

I did save petrol today. I walked to our local shops and back to post a package I sold on eBay. I have about ¼ tank left and I want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it as far as I can. I have been slack and just driven to the shops when I needed something, and they are under 2kms away! By forcing myself to walk I think twice about what I “need” to get.

I am so glad we are in winter now, because my girls love soup. It’s cheap, filling and warms you up on a cold night. I made cauliflower soup last night which fed us all for under $2. Tonight’s dinner is under $2 for all of us too. That’s the whole meal cost $2, not per person. Tonight’s dinner is chicken soup in the slow cooker. I put in some celery, carrot, corn, skinless drumsticks, stock I had in the freezer and have just slow cooked it all day. We’ll be having it with some of the rolls I made today. I got the drumsticks for $2kg and won’t even use them all tonight.

There are so many soups you can make and they are a great way to use up vegies. If your family think of them as more of an entree than a main, they make a great afternoon snack or an entree for a simple meal instead of dessert afterwards.

I also love the fact that in winter you can rug up to get warm, whereas in summer it is harder to get cool. I have all the blankets out. My daughters sleep in fleece all in ones which keeps them nice and warm. We also have fleece sleeping bags and feather down doona’s to keep us warm.

I had the heater on a few nights ago and found with all those blankets, we didn’t need it, so I am trying not to turn it on.

I’d really like to get our electricity usage down. It’s not as high as many people’s but I know I leave things on standby too often and my freezer has not been full for some time. There are so many little things I could be doing, I’ve just been lazy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Berry puff tarts



These were so good and SOOOO easy!

Ingredients
Puff pastry
Frozen berries
Sugar


Cut the puff pastry into 4 squares.
In the middle of each square place some frozen berries.
Gather the corners of the pastry to form little packets, like you can see in the picture.
Sprinkle each one with a bit of sugar.
Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, until they are golden.
Serve with cream or ice-cream.

They took pretty much no time to prepare, weren’t messy and were so delicious. We’ll definitely be having them again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Free Spinach

When I went to Sydney we went to my mother in law. She has a thriving vegie garden and gave me some spinach, rainbow chard and shallots from it. I was so grateful. I hadn’t had time to do anything with them yet. When I got back from Sydney, I washed it all and place it in my trusty Tupperware containers.

Finally yesterday I had a chance to do a bit of cooking, but what was I going to do with it? We don’t eat spinach usually; I have never used rainbow chard, shallots I use a lot so they were ok. I decided to start with sautéing the spinach.

I place 4 cloves of crushed garlic and one diced onion in a frying pan for a few minutes. I added the spinach and about 1/2 cup or less of chicken stock. I didn’t measure it properly. I stirred it occasionally whilst simmering it on low for about 5 minutes.

First off I made some spinach and ricotta rolls.




I mixed some of the spinach with some ricotta (probably 1 cup spinach and ½ cup ricotta) and 1 egg. I mixed it well to combine then spread it over a few puff pastry sheets.

I rolled the sheets up and pressed the ends together. I baked them in a moderate oven for 20 minutes until they were nice and golden.

Next I made a spinach and ricotta frittata/crust less quiche thing.




I don’t know exactly what I did, but here’s roughly what I threw in...
¾ cup cooked spinach
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup ricotta approx
1 cup mozzarella cheese

I mixed it all together, placed it in a pie dish and baked in a moderate oven for 40 minutes until it was golden brown.




Finally I made a few spinach and ricotta puffs with some of the puff pastry. I had a little ricotta and spinach left, so mixed it together and put it in the middle of some puff pastry squares. I folded them in half and pressed the edges together. I put them in the oven for 2o minutes, turning once.

In the next few days I will use the rainbow chard. I have a few ideas, hopefully they work!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hectic

My life has been so hectic at the moment. I have been trying to organise to get our car repaired. It has been in 2 accidents recently and a little light has come on that needs to be fixed quickly. So I’ve been dealing with smash repairers and mechanics and insurance.

I have also been organising things with my book, the sale of my house, de-cluttering more, had church things and the list just never seems to end!

I am very excited though. I have had the afternoon to myself and have been able to complete the bedroom, kitchen and am about to do my laundry/bathroom. In about 1 hour, I will be dropping bags of stuff off to the second hand shop again.

I truly cannot believe how much stuff I have been getting rid of. Where did it all come from? Why did I think I needed it? I am in a 1 bedroom place; seriously there was no room for this stuff. I was wasting so much space.

So I am extremely happy that I have almost completed de-cluttering my house. One thing that I think has helped a lot is knowing I am not having any more kids I have been able to bag up baby stuff and get rid of it.

Another thing has been realising that just because I liked clothes I used to fit, doesn’t mean they will sit on me well now or as I continue to lose weight or that I will even still like them. I have gotten rid of bags of that sort of thing, along with maternity clothes.

It is so freeing to just get rid of what is not being used and to have space. In my bathroom I have many items not opened or used once that I don’t want. They’ll all be going. I will have space in my drawers again! Woo hoo.

Well, I better go off and do it. Have fun.