This month I have decided to participate in Snark Messageboard’s Blogging Challenge. We are choosing some fun topics from one of our member’s list of cool blog ideas: Sarai’s List of Blog Topics

Today’s Topic #10: Your Favorite Recipe

I have so many favorite recipes but one that I’ve been making a lot lately has been Stuffed Pepper Soup. It’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s filling, it’s fast, and it’s absolutely delicious!

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Stuffed Pepper Soup

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked jasmine (or white) rice
500g minced beef
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (400g each) cans diced tomatoes
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
salt and fresh pepper to taste
a few tbsp olive oil
(I like to add a bit of chilli powder to mine to spice it up.)
(I also like to get diced tomatoes that are seasoned with garlic or an Italian flavor.)

In a large pot, cook onions on medium heat with a bit of olive oil.
Add meat and cook until the meat is browned.
Add peppers and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, marjoram, and any salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Cook rice separately while this cooks.
Serve soup topped with rice.

Source: Skinnytaste

Josh and I were in the supermarket last week and as we were walking through the produce aisle we noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. It was an entire crate full of crazy, round, spiky looking things. They were all sitting there as if they had been there forever. It was as if they belonged there next to the apples, oranges, and kiwifruit.

SOMETHING WAS WRONG.

Kiwano

THERE IS AN INVASION!

They were labeled:

KIWANO FRUIT
also known as
HORNED MELON

I decided that I needed to take one home and investigate. I figured I would make sure that this evil looking fruit was indeed a fruit and not some alien life form that has come to take over the world. I brought it home. Don’t worry – I kept my eye on it just to make sure it didn’t try anything fancy while I wasn’t looking.

I have to admit – it took me a few days to decide to try this evil horned melon… if that is indeed its real name. I am keen on trying new things but you have to admit that this melon it pretty darn intimidating. It looks like it wants to attack you. I guess the same thing could be said about a lot of different foods, though. If you had never seen a pineapple before, maybe it would have been just as intimidating. I don’t know. Pineapples are kind of spiky, too.

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I finally cut it open in the end. It was really surprising. Were you expecting THAT? I sure wasn’t. I didn’t know what the heck to expect to be honest. (Although I was half hoping that it was a baby alien and I was really disappointed.) I stared at it for quite some time and then I finally decided to be brave and eat it.

OKay, so maybe I searched Google first to see what it would taste like and THEN I ate it. But hey, I tried it!

It tasted a bit like melon mixed with some other random flavors like banana. The consistency was sort of like a cucumber but it was much more slimy which brought me back to thinking about aliens. That’s when I started wondering if maybe instead of being an alien, it was GROWN by an alien!!

Kiwano

Then I said to myself, “Caity, you’re almost 28 years old. Grow up. It probably just comes from Japan. Kiwano fruit? It sort of sounds Japanese.” So I went back to Google again and found out that it actually originated in Africa. Now it grows in Africa, California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Nothing to do with Japan. Hey, that starts to sound like it doesn’t all add up. Maybe the Aliens just planted the Wiki page

Yesterday, Josh and I made our own popcorn. It’s actually not that hard but it was something that I had never done before. With the convenience of today’s society, so many things that are just as easy to do without technology or fancy packaging go undone.

We currently don’t have a microwave. We haven’t needed one and we actually don’t want one. It works just as well to cook things on a stove and in our opinion the food tastes better. Plus, just about anything you can cook in a microwave, you can cook on a stove or in the oven – popcorn included.

Popcorn!

We just threw in a bit of oil (way healthier than popping it with butter) and in went the kernels. It’s actually a lot more fun this way and takes the same amount of time.

Popcorn!

Shake, shake, shake!
Pop! Pop! Pop!

Popcorn!

We even seasoned our popcorn with some cajun seasoning that we had lying around and it was some of the lightest, yummiest popcorn that I ever had! (And no doubt that healthiest!)

Have you ever popped your own popcorn?
You should! What would you flavor your popcorn with? I want to try your ideas!

Also coined by Josh as the One Percent Burger – because only One Percent of the people who read this will probably bother to actually make it.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Just about anyone can make a burger but it takes a pro like Josh to make a Fancy Arse burger – a burger that just exceeds your expectations. I’m not just talking about throwing a topping or two on top of your mince meat either. Josh makes one of these very special kinds of burgers and we decided to share the recipe with you in case you’re feeling like making something special. It may take a bit of extra work but it’s not too hard and the payoff is well worth the effort, I promise.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Ingredients
500g minced beef
4 strips of bacon
3 mushrooms
2 tomatoes
2 cups lettuce or spinach
1 medium onion
1 beef stock cube
1/2 cup grated gruyere (swiss) cheese
4 slices edam cheddar cheese
1 egg
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
italian seasoning
pepper
salt
tomato sauce/ketchup
mustard (optional)
4 epic hamburger buns

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 1: Combine mince with diced onion, diced mushrooms, chopped bacon, seasoning, salt, pepper, crushed beef stock cube, and egg.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 2: Mix it all up with your hands! Get in there! Have fun! The reason we add egg is to hold everything together and the reason we do not add breadcrumbs yet is because we don’t want it to all clump together.

Step 3: Add the breadcrumbs and mix it all together.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 4: Make some patties out of that mixture. Using baking paper makes it a lot easier especially with the egg but you do what works for you.

Step 5: Start grilling the burgers. Just a side note, even though you may like your burgers on the rare side, you won’t want them rarer than medium well here because of the egg.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 6: While they are cooking, you can start preparing where the burgers go by preparing the buns and the rest of the things that will go on the buns. Chop the lettuce/spinach (chop it finely so it covers the burger more evenly), tomatoes, and prepare the cheese because that cheese will soon need to go on the burger so it melts on nicely. Don’t forget the tomato sauce and the mustard if you’re Josh and you like yucky mustard on your burger.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 7: When they’re ready, put the cheese on the burgers so they melt nicely. Layering the gruyere (swiss) and then the edam cheddar is our favourite but if you don’t like one or the other then you can use that.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Step 8: Finally, you can put the burgers where they go. It’s pretty self explanatory from here.

Josh's Kick Ass Burgers

Josh took this last dramatic shot of his meal with his favourite beer on his own domain right before he ate it.
I hope you enjoy! Let us know if you try Josh’s burgers and what you think of them.

I know you have all been begging me for the recipe for the stuffed mushrooms that I posted but I have to confess that they were Josh’s handy work too and he won’t give me his secret recipe (which I believe actually means he made it up as he went along and doesn’t actually have a recipe to share with you – sorry).

However, in place of the stuffed mushrooms I will offer you something else. I was sitting at work on my break the other day and was flipping through a magazine and something caught my eye. It was this huge meatball sub topped with cheese and jalapenos and other sorts of epic goodies. It was on a rustic wooden table on a thick cloth napkin next to a basket of fries and a tall glass of beer. I looked up at the title: Boys’ Kitchen! “Josh would love this,” I thought. What I actually meant was, “Josh would love to cook this for us!”

So I brought it home in case the mood struck my amazing cook of a husband who did seem to like the idea of cooking these amazing meatball subs for us one night. I’m sure you already can guess that Josh decided to make these epic meatball subs. I am also sure you can already guess that I will share the recipe with you because I love you all so much and want you to have some epic meatball subs.

meatball subs

EPIC MEATBALL SUBS
makes 4 subs

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
100ml milk
500g mince
1 onion, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tomato passata (or tomato paste)
2 fresh jalapeno chillies
pinch cinnamon
1 avocado, thickly sliced
cheese of your choice to melt on top (we used mild cheddar)
4 sub rolls

1. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for 5 minutes then combine it with the mince and the onion. Season and use damp hands to roll the mixture into 24 meatballs. Place on a tray, cover, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frypan over medium high heat. Cook the meatballs in a frypan for 6-8 minutes, turning until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the frypan and cook the garlic for 30 seconds, stirring until fragrant. Add the tomato passata, one whole jalapeno, cinnamon, and meatballs to the pan and stir to combine. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and thickened.

5. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Make a slit in the bread rolls lengthwise then toast under the grill for 1 minute or until golden brown.

6. Tuck avocado slices and 6 meatballs into each bread roll. Spoon over a little sauce then top with cheese and jalapeno slices. Grill for another 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

7. Enjoy!

an awesome dinner

The Mousse Master

Josh has been doing all sorts of nice things for me lately to show me how much he appreciates how hard I’ve been working. After I made some banana ice cream, he got an idea to make it even better. He was going to invent a brand new dessert for me that was a real treat after a hard day.

BANANA CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!

Josh's Banana Chocolate Mousse

Do you want to make some too? Well today is your lucky day. Josh is letting me share his super awesome dessert with you.

Continue reading »

Ever since I started my new job, Josh has been trying to make things easier for me around here. He knows that I have been trying really hard to adjust to working again (especially working in a new country) and he knows that I have been absolutely exhausted while my mind and body are in the shock of suddenly having to do something besides revel in the beauty of NZ and pretend I’m on vacation. I keep having to remind myself that I actually live and work here now instead of just pretending to be a tourist and going around taking pictures and going on adventures… although I still plan to do those things as much as possible.

Meatballs!

Josh has dinner ready for me every night when I get home. Before my schedule changed (which is only starting this coming week) I actually got home quite late so it was really nice to have a nice meal waiting for me. So far he has made me a pasta bake, a green curry, lamb chops, and yummy chicken with a big salad! One night he even had meat pies warming up in the oven for me. If there’s one thing I love about NZ it’s meat pies. I wonder how I ever lived without them before!

Pizza!

Even on my day off tonight, Josh insisted on cooking. He made us some awesome pizzas because that is what I had a hankering for. I brought home some pizza crusts that were on sale at work a few days ago saying that I wanted to make a pizza and so Josh got some other things that go great on a pizza and made an awesome pizza tonight.

Not only does my husband cook for me but he’s a fantastic cook!
Oh, and he even did the laundry, too! I didn’t even have to ask!
Am I spoiled or what?

I’m sure that most of us have a memory of a favourite baked good, maybe made by our mothers or grandmothers, that will stick with us forever. One of those fond baked memories for me is my Grandmother’s Snickerdoodles. Today I was home alone (Josh and my mother in law are at work) and I started feeling a bit nostalgic. I thought about my Grandmother’s Snickerdoodles and said to myself, “Man, if I had those Snickerdoodles I bet I would feel a lot better.” Then I realized, “HEY! I can make my OWN Snickerdoodles!”

You should be laughing right now.

I ran to my friend Google and found a snickerdoodle recipe. They looked exactly like my Grandmother’s Snickerdoodles and my excitement grew. Luckily, my mother in law bakes quite a bit so I found everything that I needed in her cupboards and cabinets.

That’s when it went downhill.


What I learned from making Snickerdoodles:

  • A chunk of butter right out of the refrigerator is not an easy thing to whisk. Or mash with a potato masher. Or try to use your eggbeater on. When you get frustrated and mix it with your hands, it makes your hands gross and greasy.
  • Eggbeaters are harder to control than they look.
  • 350°F is NOT the same thing as 350°C. New Zealand uses Celsius. Get used to it, Caity.
  • Little pieces of egg shell are really hard to get out of your batter once they accidentally fall in.
  • Remember that the inside of the stove is hot. At least I know how to treat a burn.
  • Caity’s Snickerdoodles do not taste like Caity’s Grandmother’s Snickerdoodles. Cakey Snickerdoodles are no match for crunchy ones.

My fail Snickerdoodles.

At least I have Snickerdoodles.

We all love some sort of candy, right? I used to love waking up on Easter morning and running downstairs to find my basket full of Cadburry Creme Eggs, milk chocolate bunnies, and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Having been a vegan for almost nine months now, however, my tune has changed a little bit.

cupcakes (by leighish29)
This photo is by by friend Ashleigh. She makes the most beautiful cakes and cupcakes that I will always want to eat even if I’m vegan forever (even if I can’t)!

I bet you’re wondering what I can eat on Easter this year being that all the favorites contain things I don’t eat anymore. Well, I decided that I would make a list of all the common candies that are vegan for you. You know… in case you wanted to buy me or some other vegan an Easter present!

Continue reading »

Josh loves squash. He decided that he was going to cook dinner tonight since I was sick with a fever and was home from work today recovering and resting. Not only was he going to cook, but he was going to make up his own recipe and invent something to make me feel better! How awesome is that? Well, it turned out to be really awesome so I wanted to share it with you!

I asked Josh to write the recipe down exactly as he did it. Some of it made me giggle, like his ingredient called “fake chicken” which of course us vegans of course would call something like textured soy protein or a meat substitute. Anyway, I am going to write the recipe exactly as Josh did! If you try it, let us know if you like it!

SQUASH AND MUSHROOM THINGIE

Squash and Mushroom Thingie! (by caitysparkles)

Ingredients:
1 green squash (zucchini)
1 yellow squash
half onion
punnet mushrooms (chopped)
half cup soymilk
fake chicken
cup chopped stringbeans
2 tsp margarine
vegetable stock cube

Directions:
Heat large saucepan, melt margarine into saucepan, add mushrooms and 1/4 cup soymilk. Whilst mushrooms are cooking, cube squash, chicken. Add all at once to saucepan. Dice beans, add to saucepan with remainder of soymilk, add veg cube. Dice onion, add to saucepan, cover, simmer for 25-30 min over low heat.

I have been in such a soup and stew mood lately. Today I made African Peanut-Potato stew. It was so incredibly tasty. I can’t even believe how good it was. I wanted something warm and hearty (and healthy – we’ve been eating a LOT healthier lately) and oh my goodness it was perfect!

African Peanut-Potato Stew! (by caitysparkles)

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 14.5 ounce cans chopped or diced tomatoes
2 14.5 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8oz green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup natural peanut butter

    Directions

  1. In a large pot, mix 1/2 cup water, onion, jalapenos, ginger and garlic on medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  2. Add cumin, cinnamon, salt, red pepper and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans, vegetable broth, and peanut butter.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium/low heat and cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Let it cool, then eat and enjoy!

I cooked it a bit differently and altered the ingredients a bit.
You can also use a pressure cooker but I prefer to use a stovetop.
Source: fatfreevegan.com.