Monday, April 30, 2012

Thriving on Thursdays Recipe Roundup # 4

I'm a little late in getting this week's Recipe Roundup from last week's Thriving on Thursday post up. Last night was just one of those nights, when you get to the end of your tether and you just don't have any energy for anything else. Not saying the kids were misbehaving or naughty, but you just get tired of hearing them, dealing with them and being switched 'on' all the time. No time out. The time out for me did eventually happen, around 9pm last night, but by then I was exhausted. Anyway, all good now so here's the beautiful recipes that were linked up at last week's Thriving on Thursday. Thank you everyone for taking the time to link up.

Appetisers, Salads & Snacks


Sweet Treats






My Saturday night homemade pizza of pepperoni, olives, mushrooms and fresh tomato with mozarella
April has got away from me and I'm missing a few 'Baking' posts I would've liked to have posted for my "THRiVING" feature. I feel a sense of satisfaction as soon as I turn that oven on to bake something. One such thing I get a lot of enjoyment from, that is in the baking and the eating, is PIZZA. As a lover of Italian food,  pizza is just one of those things that can be made with anything at any time of the day or night and costs next to nothing to make. Even if you don't have pizza dough or pizza bases, you can make a pizza out of just about anything.

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Sure, the pizza takeaway chains have some pretty good deals but what about the taste? I really struggled to find a photo of what they really look like when you open the box. They never look like they do in the pictures at the store and half the time you don't know if you're eating the pizza or the cardboard box it came in. Nothing can taste as good as one you've made yourself and it'll save you so much money.

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This is the recipe for pizza dough that I like to use. To save on kneading time, I make it in the breadmaker, roll out and then freeze in individual portion sizes.

Breadmaker Pizza Dough
  • 1.1/4 cups water
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1.1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast
  1.  Add all ingredients, in order listed above, into breadmaker pan.
  2. Make in breadmaker up until cooking stage.
  3. Can be frozen into small balls and use as required.
  4. When ready to make pizza, roll into desired shape, top with favourite toppings and bake in a hot, 220 deg C oven until cheese has melted.
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 If making pizza bases isn't your thing, something as simple as making pizzas using bread is an easy option. I've done this many times. Here are some more varieties on how to make pizza. Just think of anything suitable enough to hold the toppings like Lebanese bread, low carb cauliflower crust, bread rolls, flat bread, Turkish bread. The choices are endless.

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Puff Pastry Pizza

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Pizza Scrolls (use pizza dough or puff pastry)

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As far as pizza toppings go, I like to keep them simple and use whatever I have on hand. I nearly always have mozarella cheese in the freezer and if I don't, I use plain cheddar cheese. I always have pepperoni, ham or bacon in the freezer. Any meat works well. Use whatever vegetables you have in the crisper like capsicum (bell peppers), onion, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, olives. If you don't have pizza sauce or passata to top your pizza bases, use plain old tomato sauce (ketchup) or spruce it up with herbs or spices and/or chilli.
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Whichever way you go, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, wholegrain, all meat, no meat, using a substitute for the pizza base, using ricotta cheese on top, pizza is a quick, cheap, tasty snack or meal that is easy to put together and easy to have on hand in the freezer, either partly made or made up ready to pop in the oven.

Domesblissity: THRiVING - Thrifty Living

This post is part of domesblissity's THRiVING - Thrifty Living feature.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm bringing back the dessert - Individual Pear Tarte Tatin

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des·sert (diˈzərt)
1. A usually sweet course or dish, as of fruit, ice cream, or pastry, served at the end of a meal.
2. Chiefly British Fresh fruit, nuts, or sweetmeats served after the sweet course of a dinner.

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Here in Australia, a dessert is the last course of a meal, usually lunch or dinner, which consists of sweet ingredients. Dessert, pudding, sweets, tart, cake, pavlova, parfait, blancmange, crepes, cheesecake, ice cream, jelly, fruit, crumble, custard, whatever you want to call it, I'm starting a campaign to bring it back.
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I grew up having sweets/dessert every night for dinner whether it was something as simple as jelly, ice cream and tinned fruit or a hot pudding. We never had weight issues as kids. To me, it balanced off a meal. It doesn't have to be high in calories. There are many low calories choices for example yoghurt, fruit, low fat ice creams, low sugar etc .
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Every Sunday, I plan on sharing an old fashioned (or modern) dessert recipe that the whole family will enjoy.
To get you started, here's a recipe from last year for Individual Pear Tarte Tatin. Tarte Tatin is a French upside-down apple tart in which the apples are caramelised in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. You can use any fruit for this and making an individual serve, you can control the serving size.  These can be stored in the fridge (or frozen) for another night.
Do you have any dessert memories from your childhood?


Saturday, April 28, 2012

My 6 top tips for shopping at the Farmer's Market

I had some free time on my hands and an empty fridge so I took myself off to my closest 'farmer's market' to stock up on seasonal produce and have a look around last weekend. Now, I think the term 'farmer's markets' might be over used a bit these days because these markets I went to were definitely not full of stall holders who grew the produce and came to market to sell it. So what is a farmer's market exactly? According to the Australian Farmer's Market Association:

A Farmers' Market is a predominantly fresh food market that operates regularly within a community, at a focal public location that provides a suitable environment for farmers and food producers to sell farm-origin and associated value-added processed food products directly to customers.

The whole purpose of me visiting these markets was to save money and buy only fresh, seasonal produce. By the time I opened my purse a couple of times, $50 soon disappeared, defeating the purpose. Many market entrepeneurs are calling these markets 'farmer's' markets in the hope of attracting a steady stream of regular Sunday shoppers and making a lot of money. This particular market I went to had more craft and food stalls than fresh produce so definitely a lot more to spend your money on.

In order to get the most out of your 'farmer's' market experience and hopefully save a few dollars, here are my top 6 tips for your next trip to a farmer's market.

1.  Stick to a budget

If you've got $50 allocated to spend at the markets, buy what you want. Buy what you need first and any money left over you can use on scented candles, coffees, crafts or a big fat German sausage (which always smell so good).

 2.  Is it really cheaper and fresher than the local greengrocer?

Do your homework before venturing out each week to a farmer's market. They might be a bit further from home and the stall holders may just be people who go to the large central fruit and vegie market and resell at the farmer's market (which is what I tend to think happens at the market I went to). Sure, there are produce growers there who are selling what they grow but there are many others who source their produce from the same place as the local greengrocer or supermarket. The produce has probably the same shelf life as what you'd expect from the supermarket/greengrocer and the prices would be very similar.

3.  Don't be tempted by things you can't afford

Like the siren's song, I'm always tempted by a beautifully scented, handmade soap or soy candle melt but I show restraint when I know that I'm only buying fruit and vegies today so no money for these little luxuries. Sure, treat yourself from time to time but really, when a cake of soap that resembles a slice of cake costs $7.50 each, is it really worth it? I think I might eat it for that price!

4.  Don't necessarily stick to a list

Make sure you check out what's in season before you go but don't be bound by a list. I had no intention of buying a lettuce on my last visit but when I saw the hydroponic range of lettuces at a particular stall, I just couldn't resist. One lettuce was only $1.50 and it was HUGE and crisp and fresh. I just quickly thought about my menu plan for the week and that's when I came up with the Salad Rice Paper Roll idea. For more information of what's in season, check out these web sites for your area:

5.  Use the farmer's market to try new and exciting seasonal produce

The above dragonfruit was so tempting to buy. I overheard a lady saying she wanted to have one cut open to see what it was like inside and wanted to know more about it. I think they were $3.50 each or 3 for $10. If you do come across a seller who is just selling dragonfruit, they probably grew them. I'd blow the budget and buy one for $3.50 if I so desperately wanted to try it.

6.  If you're after a bargain, go just before closing time

If you just want cheap produce and aren't sure of exactly what's going to be left by the time you get there, go just before the markets are due to close. Stall holders will sell it at next to nothing so they don't have to take it home with them but be prepared for not much variety and not necessarily the things you wanted this week. I've been to markets over the years where the banana grower has sold out of his bananas at 7am.

I sometimes buy a coffee when I go out and then sometimes I don't. I don't fancy standing in a queue for 15 minutes for an overpriced coffee. On this day, I opted for a freshly squeezed juice of orange, pineapple and apple which was delicious but at $5 was a little expensive. Nice though.

I believe there are true farmer's markets out there that just sell cheap, locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables with some homemade goodies but there are also 'marketeers' who try to cash in on the name and the fad who sell everything including the kitchen sink and these are the ones, where if you're not careful, will finish up costing you a fortune. Here are some more photos from my morning out.

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