Day 341, December 6th 2016 Part II

Black and White Chilli

Sorry all eleven of my readers – it’s been really busy with the return to work, return to school, and several projects on the go for work.

I will finish up the 365 days that were 2016 over the next couple of weeks and I hope that it was interesting and useful. It was interesting and useful for me, but due to work and family commitments I am planning to finish the blog once I have finished off these last couple of recipes from 2016. Thanks for reading it!

I invented this vegan chilli when making a big batch of chilli to put in the freezer for dinner. I also made a turkey and kale chilli at the same time.

I have to say though that I preferred this chilli. This is probably my personal preference; I have found that the more vegetarian food I have been cooking for my daughter, the more I prefer it to meat dishes. This is to the chagrin of the Resolute Omnivore, who is having to put up with more and more vegetarian dinners.

This is called ‘Black and White Chilli’ because I used black beans and white beans. As I made it, I was thinking of the Seinfeld episode with the Black’n’White cookie (the episode when they had to stop off at the bakery to buy a Babka to take to a dinner party). Look to the cookie, people. And to the chilli.

Image result for look to the cookie

These are the random thoughts I have when cooking – probs best I stop writing this blog…


2 tablespoons rice bran oil – 6 cents

3 spring onions – free

2 cloves garlic – free

1 carrot, finely sliced – 10 cents

1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped – 50 cents

1 can diced tomatoes – $1

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed – $2

1 can black-eyed beans or cannelini beans – $1

5 cups vegetable stock – free

2 teaspoons fresh thyme – free

3/4 teaspoons chilli powder – 7.5 cents

3/4 teaspoons paprika – 7.5 cents

1 large bunch fresh kale, shredded – free*

Heat the oil in a large pot. Cook the onion, garlic, fresh thyme, carrot, and sweet potato on low heat until the vegetables are soft.

Add the drained beans.

Sprinkle the beans with the spices. Stir well and cook for another two minutes.

Pour the tomatoes and stock over the beans and vegetables.

Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat.

Cook until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced. Add the kale and cook until the kale has wilted.

Season to taste with salt.

Serve hot over rice, with guacamole, hot sauce and other burrito bowl fixings, or in tacos or other Tex-Mex delights.

This is vegan unless you eat it with cheese and sour cream as we do.

Total cost: $4.81

Per person (serves 10): 48 cents


*There’s a lot of ‘free’ in this recipe because our garden is ‘paying out’ – every week we have a ton of fresh herbs, onions, greens. Now that it is Summer, we have tomatoes, chillies, herbs, strawberries and we are hoping soon to have a lot of zucchinis, capsicum and eggplant.



Meal Plan Weeks 42-43 2016

These were the beginning of some challenging weeks for us on the home front.As such there are some frozen meals, leftovers, and repetition in our menus from this time up until now — but this is how these menu plans roll; it’s what we eat, messy lives and all.

Week 42, October 2228

Saturday: Bhoona gosht (beef curry), red lentil and pumpkin dal (vegetarian), rice

Sunday: Sticky chicken drumsticks, red lentil and pumpkin dal (vegetarian), rice

Monday: Chicken noodle soup with rolls, Vegan White Bean Soup with rolls

Tuesday: Burrito bowls (vego and non-vego)

Wednesday Worst Day: Burrito bowl reruns

Thursday: Vegetable Lasagne

Friday: Beef curry, dal, rice reruns (thank goodness for freezers)

Week 43, October 29November 4

Saturday: Homemade pizza (vego and non-vego)

Sunday: Roast chicken, tabouli, fuggets (faux chicken nuggets – vegetarian)

Monday: Dinner at my parents’ (bless ’em)

Tuesday: Vegetarian pasta bake

Wednesday Worst Day: BLTs/ELTs

Thursday: Curries from the freezer – Beef curry, red lentil and pumpkin dal, rice

Friday: Monthly takeaway night

Day 254, August 18 2016

The laziest beef casserole in the world

Michael Pollan wrote a wonderful book called Cooked, easily my favourite of his books, in which he writes about spending his Sunday afternoons learning to cook casseroles and other slow cooked dishes like tagines. “When chopping onions,” he writes, “just chop onions.” He is writing about focusing on the process of cooking, and taking the time to be slow in a fast food world.

I am down with this sentiment. I am down with Michael Pollan and his Birkenstock-wearing, locavore, Berkeley agenda. I love that stuff.

Except I’m a busy working mum of two. Some days, I have time to just chop onions. Some days, I have a deadline, and what I want to do is feed my kids with as little effort as possible without feeding them something with a big Golden M stamped on a box. Because even though I’m not going all Michael Pollan on the onions, I have read Michael Pollan, if you catch my drift.*

This casserole utilised my crockie, a half a kilo of steak from my freezer, and a few ‘bottoms of the jar’ I had in the fridge. As you can see, it turned out alright:


Crockpot Beef Casserole, served with Baked Potato and Steamed Broccoli

It may not have been a slow cooked tagine with locally sourced ingredients, but it tasted good, utilised some things that were hanging around my fridge waiting to be used up, and was pretty cheap for a meat-based dish. Certainly cheaper than a run to the Golden Arches.


600 grams porterhouse steak, trimmed of fat and cubed – $6

1 tablespoon gluten free corn flour – 20 cents

1/8 cup each of: raspberry jam, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce (ketchup), soy sauce, tomato relish – 62 cents**

3/4 cup stock (any kind) – free

Toss the beef in the cornflour and place in the crock pot.

Mix the sauces, relish, and jam together, and place in the crockpot. Mix well with the beef.

Pour in the stock and mix.

Turn the crockpot on low. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the meat is tender and a sauce has formed.

Serve with mashed or baked potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Total cost: $6.82

Per person (serves 4): $1.70


*Not perfect. We still eat at the Big M on occasion.

**I have calculated the cost of 1/8 cup based on 500 ml sauces at average price $2 bottle. If you use gluten free sauces as we do, this dish is gluten free.

Days 239-242, Aug 2-5 2016 – Weekend cooking ahead saves trips to the takeaway

In a recent post I mentioned that we had a week where we dropped the dinner ball because I had not kept up with cooking ahead for the nights where we had unexpected late nights or school activities.

Determined to avoid this the following week, I planned a BDOC (Big Day of Cooking), to fill my freezer with dinners for nights that we would be home late (which seems to be many nights lately). My husband was working that day, so this had to be a well-executed operation. I do spend a lot of weekends cooking, but I wanted to do a lot this time to ensure that we had vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals on hand. I planned:

  • Quick Beef and black bean chilli;
  • Lamb chilli;
  • Meatballs for spaghetti;
  • Vegetarian chilli (we eat a lot of Mexican food);
  • ‘Cheater’s’ Chicken Cacciatore.

They were all cooked on Day 236, and frozen, and eaten later that week, from Days 239-242.

Quick Beef and Black Bean Chilli

I make a very slow-cooked beef and black bean chilli when I have time, using beef on the bone and dried black beans, that is the business. However some days, I don’t have the time, and this day was one of them, as I wanted to make five big pots of food in a single afternoon.

500 grams premium beef mince – $6

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained – $2

1 onion, finely chopped – 10 cents

1 large clove garlic – 5 cents

1 can crushed tomatoes – 99 cents

1 sweet potato – 30 cents

1 red capsicum – 50 cents

2 teaspoons ground cumin – 10 cents

1 teaspoon ground coriander – 5 cents

1 fresh red chilli, minced – free

300 ml dry white wine (optional) – $2.40*

1/2 cup rolled oats  (optional)** – 11 cents

1.5 cups water

2 tablespoons rice bran oil – 12 cents

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat rice bran oil in a heavy based pot (I used my enamel cast-iron pot). Cook the onion, garlic, sweet potato and red capsicum on a low heat until all the vegetables are soft. Add the mince, and cook, breaking up the mince well until it is cooked. Add the black beans and all the spices, and stir well. Cook for another two minutes until the spices are cooked but not burned.

Pour in the wine. Allow to boil away, and then add the tomatoes, oats and water.

Cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chilli is nice and thick and the mince is cooked:

Beef and black bean chilli

How to trick my eldest into eating sweet potato and capsicum. She ‘don’ like capsicum.’

Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

This is great served on tacos, burrito bowls, quesadillas – anywhere you want to stuff or top something with a Mexican flavoured meat sauce. Serve it with salad and cheese on top and it is a healthy meal.

Total cost: $12.72

Per person (serves 12): $1.06

You could make this cheaper if you used a cheaper mince (3 star instead of 5) and skipped the wine. In that case the price would be cut down to $8.32 total, and to 69 cents per serve. I like the flavour of the higher quality beef and the wine but I have certainly made chilli plenty of times without the wine and it is still good.

The next recipe in my BDOC posted tomorrow.


*Some people say don’t use wine to cook with that you wouldn’t drink. Seeing as neither of us drink, we can use cheap wine to cook with. This was a bottle of six buck chuck.

**Rolled oats is a trick that can be used to add extra bulk and fibre to minced meat dishes. However it is not appropriate to use it if you are cooking for someone with a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. Although it is possible to buy so-called ‘gluten free’ oats, oats are still defined as a food containing gluten. To make this dish gluten free, just omit the oats. They are not necessary.

Days 197-199, July 17-19, 2016

Days of soup and curry

I’m going to post two soup recipes I invented for funsies – but no pictures. My iPhone camera and kitchen lighting did not do the recipes justice, and they ended up looking like bowls of dirt (Black Bean Soup) and blood (Borscht), so really there was not much point. I am not much of a photographer at the best of times (what? no!) so for me to not post these must mean they were on the #pinterestfail scale of bad rather than my usual effort.

However, I did make this Jamie Oliver recipe for Pukka Yellow Curry from the Save With Jamie cookbook (my favourite of his books), varying it slightly by adding black-eyed beans instead of chickpeas, because we don’t keep chickpeas in the house (my youngest is allergic). I did take a pic of that:

Pukka chicken curry

Compare my photo to the food stylist’s photo on the Jamie Oliver website and I am sure you will agree that they look EXACTLY the same.

It was one of the best chicken curries I have ever made, and that is because Jamie Oliver is the king of my kitchen. Nuff said.


I made this for funsies because I found bunches of beetroot at the Hilltop that were irresistible – irresistible I tell ya. I have never made Borscht before, but with those lovely maroon globes just daring me to try it, I had to. I never welch on a bet.

5 medium beetroot (1 bunch), unpeeled, trimmed, leaves removed – $2.99

250 grams shortcut bacon, chopped – $2.50

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped – 10 cents

1 stick celery, peeled and finely sliced* – 10 cents

1 small carrot, peeled and finely sliced – 10 cents

3 potatoes, peeled, sliced – 75 cents

3 cups stock (I used pork stock but you can use chicken) – free

2 tablespoons plus one tablespoon olive oil – 36 cents

Place the trimmed and unpeeled beets in a large baking tray. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and bake at 180 degrees C until you can skewer one easily with a wooden skewer. Set aside to cool.

In a deep stock pot, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook until soft. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is fragrant and soft.

Add the sliced potatoes and continue to gently cook, stirring often to prevent sticking.

When the beets are cool to touch, peel away the skins and roughly chop. Add to the pot and stir well. Pour over the stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and let cool.

Puree the soup in batches or using a stick blender. I puree using a Nutri-blast food processor.

Before serving, reheat and check seasoning. Due to the bacon it should not require any salt but if it does, add to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some thick wholemeal bread.

Freezes well. Turns your urine pink, so don’t panic – you don’t have a problem 😀

Total cost: $6.90

Per serve (serves 8): 86 cents

Day 199, Black Bean Soup

This vegetarian black bean soup (vegan if you don’t add the sour cream on top) is my most favourite of all soups, especially when dressed with lots of lime juice, sour cream, and smoky hot sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t have any limes, but this was still great. I recommend eating this in winter by the fireplace with tortillas, and pretending you are Tijuana for the afternoon.

1 onion, peeled and chopped – 10 cents

1 stick celery, peeled and finely cliced – 10 cents

1 carrot, peeled and chopped – 10 cents

200 grams dried black beans, soaked overnight and rinsed – $1.27

1 litre vegetable stock – free

1 vegetarian chicken-style stock cube – 7 cents

2 tablespoonse finely chopped fresh coriander and parsley – free**

2 teaspoons ground cumin – 10 cents

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – 5 cents

2 tablespoons rice bran oil – 12 cents

Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat rice bran oil in a large stock pot, and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook slowly for ten minutes on low heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add the black beans and stir well, coating in the cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with the spices and stir well. Cook for two minutes or until the spices are fragrant. Pour over the vegetable stock and sprinkle the stock cube over. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for at least one hour, or until the beans are so soft, you can squish them easily with the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and let cool.

When the soup is cool, puree using a stick blender, or in batches using a blender or food processor.

Reheat gently to prevent burning, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, and a chipotle-style hot sauce, and tortillas on the side. Sigh with contentment.

Total cost: so cheeeeeeap! $1.91 for the whole pot

Per serve (serves at least 6): 31 cents. And that my friends is why soup is a bargain and why vegetarian soup is the best bargain of them all.



* I always peel celery to remove the annoying stringy bits. You don’t have to, but if you do not, I will think you are a monster. No pressure.

**Some people hate coriander so much they will avoid any recipe that contains it – in that case just use parsley. I love it so I grow it and use it with abandon.


Meal plans, Weeks 25 and 26

‘Write a daily blog,’ she said. ‘It’ll be easy,’ she thought.

It is easy to cook obsessively, not so easy to document it. Somehow there’s always something else to be done. IKEA to visit, for example, which I did this morning, joining the ranks of suburbanites looking for Swedish-designed homewares at reasonable prices. I took my eldest daughter, whom I have never been able to get inside the place before, and she was rewarded, as is the law, with a hotdog at the end. I was just happy to get out of there having bought only what I intended and nothing more. 

Plus coat hangers and batteries.

Point of the story is that time flies when you are buying vitemolla, and blogs do not write themselves. I know all seven of you are desperate.

Week 25

Saturday: Black bean burrito bowls (vegetarian)

Sunday: Chicken and sweet potato pie, salad

Monday: Dinner @ my parents’ (bless ’em)

Tuesday: Beef burgundy (non-vegetarian) and rice, quorn bourger for the vego

Wednesday Worst Day: Spinach omelettes (vegetarian)

Thursday: Pasta bolognese (non-vegetarian) and vegetarian bolognese 

Friday: Cooking fail night – Pie and chips (non-vegetarian), veggie roll and chips (vegetarian), peas

Week 26

Saturday: Election Night Homemade Pizza Party – this is how nerds geek it up, baby 🙌🏻🙌🏻

Sunday: Leftover pizza

Monday: ‘Masterchef’ lemon crumbed fish goujons and wedges

Tuesday: Vegetarian pasta

Wednesday Worst Day: Haloumi burgers (vegetarian)

Thursday: Honey soy chicken drumsticks and rice 

Friday night: Takeaway night

Day 162, June 13 2016

After five – yes, five – days of lying in bed nursing a sore back, I’m about ready to go bonkers. I’ve watched multiple docos and the whole first season of How To Get Away With Murder on Netflix. What I have learned from that show is that legal ethics classes are apparently sorely lacking in US law schools.

This curry was very unusual for me because I am not a ‘sweet and sour’ flavours person. I prefer sweet things to be sweet, and savoury things to be savoury. I’ll eat pineapple on a pizza if that’s what’s going, but it’s definitely not my preferred option. The Pork and Apple pie I made recently was definitely outside the box for me, but apple and pork are a tried and true classic flavour combo, so I gave it a whirl. A pineapple and chicken curry is something I have never made, and aligns in my mind with Apricot Chicken and all those other whacky 70s dinner party dishes that you find in old Women’s Weekly Cookbooks. These are probably not actually whacky to many people, but my mother was not a ‘sweet and savoury’ cook either, and I don’t think I ever tasted Apricot Chicken until I was an adult – when I did, I did not enjoy it. 

So why did I make this? I had some leftover diced fresh pineapple, I was bored and wanted to cook something new, and myhusband does enjoy sweet and savoury dishes on occasion. He and my eldest really enjoyed this. Me? It was tasty, but not my preferred option.

Don’t make this with canned pineapple, it will be terrible. The dish succeeds because of the firm, tart-but-sweet, fresh pineapple. Pineapples are plentiful and cheap in Australia because they are grown in Queensland pretty much all year round, and we can usually buy them for about $2, even in winter.

We served with rice and a vegetarian curry. 

Garam masala is an Indian spice blend. It can’t be substituted for anything else.

Pineapple Chicken Curry

500 grams chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm chunks – $4.50

1 tablespoon rice bran oil – 6 cents 

1 onion, peeled and finely diced – 10 cents 

3 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded – 30 cents 

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped – 4 cents 

4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed – 5 cents 

1 bay leaf 

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – 2.5 cents 

1/2 teaspoon turmeric – 2.5 cents 

1.5 teaspoons garam masala – 7.5 cents 

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon – 1 cent

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin – 2.5 cents 

1/2 teaspoon salt – 1 cent

1 cup diced fresh pineapple – 75 cents 

1 cup water

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan, and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, bayleaf and cardamom pods. Cook for two minutes, stirring, and then add the chicken to the pan. Cook for ten minutes until the chicken is golden:

Sprinkle with the ground spices and stir well. Cook for another two minutes. Add the fresh pineapple:

Stir well. Pour in the water and add the salt. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 35 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has reduced. Check seasoning and serve.

Total cost: $5.95

Per person (serves 4): $1.48

Day 154, June 2 2016

Pork, Apple and Caraway Pie

We cooked a pork roast on day 153, using the Jamie Oliver Mothership Roast Pork recipe from the Save With Jamie cookbook. We were out of fennel seeds, so we used caraway seeds instead. We do not eat pork often, but I cooked it because I wanted to make this pie. 

I invented the recipe because one of my Facebook friends was having a pie fundraiser at her kids’ school and a pork and apple pie was on the list. Unfortunately she lives four hours away. I admit that I was tempted to drive the 8-hour round trip to buy a stack of pies, but even I had to admit that was bordering on the cray-cray. Therefore, I had to come up with my own, or go without – this was of course, unthinkable.


1 tablespoon olive oil – 12 cents 

1/2 leek, white parts only, finely sliced – 50 cents 

2 cups roast pork, chopped – free (leftovers, baby)

1.5 teaspoons caraway seeds- 15 cents 

10 sage leaves, halved – free

1 teaspoon chicken stock powder- 10 cents 

1 cup cloudy apple juice – 50 cents 

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons plain flour – 10 cents 

1.5 small pink lady apples, peeled and finely sliced – 30 cents 

1 blind-baked pie crust – $1 (guesstimate)

1 sheet puff pastry – 50 cents 

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy based frying pan, and sauté the leeks and sage leaves gently for ten minutes or until soft and pale golden. Add the roast pork and the caraway seeds. Toss with the leeks, and then sprinkle over the flour and the stock powder. Toss well to coat. When the flour has cooked for two minutes, pour in the apple juice and water. Stir well and reduce the heat. Let the sauce thicken and reduce, taking care to stir so that it does not stick. When the sauce has reduced to a glossy sauce, remove from the heat.

When the filling has cooled slightly, place it in the pie crust. I used the pie crust I made not super successfully the week before and froze ahead for those well-known pie emergencies, or pietastrophes. 

Arrange the sliced apples on top of the pork filling, like so: 

When I say ‘arrange’ the apples, I really mean, ‘bung em on’

Top with the puff pastry. Glaze with some milk or beaten egg white, and sprinkle with poppy seeds if you like them. Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden.

Hello my precioussssss

Total cost: $3.27

Per person (serves 6): 54 cents 

Meal Plan, Weeks 22 and 23 2016

Now that uni has finished (and I passed, yay!), I am going to try to catch up. So here are our meal plans for Weeks 22 and 23. Luckily I keep a record of what we are going to eat on my iPhone Notes app, so I do know exactly what we did eat. I have also started recording my recipes on my handy iPhone, so my recipes are becoming more precise than ‘about a cup of’ or ‘roughly a teaspoon of.’ You might even see ingredients weighed and accurately measured (don’t all gasp at once).

With all my new found spare time, my husband and I did a lot of cooking over the weekend and made up big pots of chicken cacciatore, curries, beef burgundy, and soups. These served us well over a couple of weeks.

Week 22

Saturday: Caraway Pork Roast with roast vegetables (non-vegetarian)

Sunday: Pork, Apple and Caraway Pie (non-vegetarian)

Monday: Dinner at Mum & Dad’s (bless ’em)

Tuesday: Chicken curry, vegetable curry & rice (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Wednesday Worst Day: BLTs/ELTs (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Thursday: Sloppy Joes (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Friday: Monthly takeaway night

Week 23

Saturday: Meatloaf and salad (non-vegetarian), vegetable rolls (vegetarian)

Sunday: White winter soup (vegetarian), homemade pizza (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Monday: Chicken curry, vegetable curry, and rice (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Tuesday: Beef burgundy and mash (non-vegetarian)

Wednesday Worst Day: BLTs/ELTs (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Thursday: Chicken cacciatore and couscous (non-vegetarian, vegetarian schnitzels and couscous (vegetarian)

Friday: Soup and rolls (vegetarian)


How to fail at pastry (while really trying hard)

I’m still trying hard to improve my homemade pastry, and can I tell you that I am still failing? Maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe yet. I’m so obsessed that I now have not one, not two, but five different pie plates – I’m convinced that if I just have the right pie plate, all my troubles will be over. At least, those troubles that are pie-related. That is, Homer-troubles. 

I even bought gimmicky tins that have speed holes in them, that supposedly enable the heat to circulate around the crust, thereby reducing the horrible soggy pie effect. I should not be allowed to enter The General Trader with a fistful of dollars and no escort. I’m likely to stand in the baking section and ask the assistant: “What can you give me for this many?”

Did someone say ‘magic beans’?

Anyways, this latest attempt was what I would call a ‘low pass.’ We still ate it, but and the pie filling was delish, but truthfully the pastry I bought from the supermarket freezer was a lot better and cheaper than this.

You can tell from looking at it that it was a bit tough:

I give it a P2 at best

Back to the drawing board. I made this before I got my fancy speed holes pie plate. Maybe I will have better luck once I use that. I’m not a sucker at all…