Dinner's last week - Week starting 14 March 2016

After the failure of February's health kick, I'm still trying to be vigilant in March - and yes I admit it, lose those couple of 'Christmas kilos' that are still hanging around.  Before they get compounded by 'Easter kilos'!

I'm also still on a bit of a roll trying new recipes - and still trying to cook a few of the recipes out of the Coles Magazine that I raved about last week.

Driving what I cooked this week was:

  • Need to think of things to do with lamb mince.  I really wanted to try the Middle Eastern Pizza I found in Delicious Magazine years ago, but couldn't find anything smaller than a 400 gram thing of mince. I needed 120 grams for my recipe. I rarely use mince, and have never bought lamb mince, and to be honest find it a little bit fatty, so this proved a challenge.
  • I'm also back on the 'cauliflower-go-round'.  I was doing my usual 'food audit' - e.g. inventory of of the pantry and cupboard, trying to work out what to cook for the week - when I saw the remainder of the cauliflower I had bought for last week's Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Cous Cous.  When I spent half an hour trying do decide whether I really would eat a whole cauliflower or which was on only 50 cents more than the half a cauliflower. (Will save you my rant about the economics of cooking for one - but items like cauliflower are the epitome of it)

Anyway it meant I had to get clever with cauliflower and lamb mince.

Weekly Stats

  • Total number of serves of vegetables - 17
  • % of desired intake-  %
  • Number of different types of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains eaten - 10

Some thoughts about my meals this week

  • Why have I only just now learnt how to make rice paper rolls? They are such a good 'go to' and a great lunch or dinner- especially for a person who hates sandwiches.


Middle Eastern Lamb Pizza with home made flat bread

One pan | one bowl |  1 serves vegetables | 15 minutes

This meal was a revelation - very easy and some great new flavours.

Writing this blog has made me realise how narrow my everyday eating had become - and that it was time to branch out and try some new flavours. Not to mention if I am going to keep tearing out recipes from magazines and newspapers and bookmarking them on the web, I should actually cook some of them!

A write up of this recipe, modified for one person, with pictures, notes and instructions can be found   here

The original version of the recipe comes from a 2006 (!) edition of Delicious Magazine, is by Valli Little and can now be found on Taste.com.au here.

I had always been attracted to the colours, but it contained a lot of ingredients I don't often cook with - but since this is rapidly becoming the year of the dried cranberry - as it turned out I had most ingredients on hand.


Tuesday | Rice paper rolls with Chinese-style Char Sui shredded pork

One pan|  1 serves vegetables | 15minutes | Pork from the freezer

This was another meal that arose from desperado-ness.  Nothing to eat (and another lament as to why I haven't got into the swing of menu planning or weekly grocery shopping - which I am sure everyone is a.) sick of and b.) saying 'it's MARCH' - get with it!)  - BUT I haven't - so it meant trawling the kitchen for something / anything that could become dinner...

This meant reaching into the fridge for leftover pork fillet. The same pork fillet that you have seen as ingredient a couple of times a week since January. (I had 2kg of cooked pork fillet left over from my birthday party in January) BUT this is actually the last of it.  Oddly enough I think I am going to lament this, it has been incredibly handy to be able to pull pulled meant from the freezer.

Lament it as I might, it didn't mean I was actually enthusiastic about eating it - I think I have tried most variations over the last two months. Not to mention probably eating more pork in these last 2 months that I have in my entire life combined!

Soooo what to do - I absolutely couldn't bear another tomato-based recipe, wanted something light as I wasn't particularly hungry - and decided on rice paper rolls. (Yep - me in action - find something new - love it to death!)

Anyway, I think I was trawling Food Gawker when I came upon the idea of char sui or chinese-style pork. This then led to endless trawling of recipes and coming up with a combination of what I had on hand on what recipes most appealed.  Definitely something I would try again and a great way of reinventing the leftover pork.

I've put in quite a few pictures here - because I want to show that this is pretty easy.  It really can be easy to create new flavours and a different kind of dish without too much effort.


Lamb Biryani

Interesting new recipe - lots of flavour and a real 'comfort food' aspect. Quick weeknight adaptation of traditional Biryani recipe

One pan |  2 serves vegetables |

I dread to think how many hours I spent searching the internet for something to cook with the leftover lamb. Once I had the notion of Biryani, I then spent hours trying to find a mince version. Nothing really leapt out. So it is a big stretch to call this Biryani - if it didn't sound so pretentious, 'Biryani-inspired' would probably be a better name!

Anyway, it's a great week night meal with some spice and flavour that can easily be made in in one or two pans and amped up with greens. I only had broccoli to hand, but if you wanted to up your vegetable quota (and the way this week has gone so far, I need to!) then you could easily add peas, chopped french beans, spinach, kale, aspargus to name a few.

It does take about 45 minutes to cook, but a lot of that is cooking not doing time, so it really isn't very onerous to make at all. A great summer to winter transition dish.

Finally a note about quinoa. Traditionally Biryani is made with rice - and oh how do I love it when it is made this way - but for this version I used quinoa. I really am convinced it has higher nutritional value than for things I consider important than rice, white rice in particular - so since this is a week night meal, when my main priority is the nutritional value - I opted for quinoa. However it would work equally as well with rice.

Also see the detailed recipe post for step-by-step pictures and notes about the recipe.


Warm Salad with Salmon with 5 serves vegetables

Easy dish to add lots of vegetables to and up your vegetable 'quota' for the week

One pan |  5 serves vegetables | 10 minutes

It's kind of funny that I sort of followed a recipe for this dish. As I mentioned it was an ad for John West Salmon - and it looked simple and inviting - and after a couple of weeks of trying new things I wanted simple. However after starting it, I laughed to myself - if you look through many of the weeks of dinner - this is pretty much a dish I cook every week or couple of weeks - e.g. tinned salmon or tuna, vegetables and grains: easy, no fuss, one pan, economical, good for you and a way of using up any leftover vegetables and of packing maximum vegetables into one meal. The recipe suggested a dressing which I didn't do - I didn't want the extra fuss or calories.

For a detailed write up of the recipe with pictures and notes, see here.  For a simple list of ingredients and instructions see

As you can see from the half bits of everything, it's a great way of using up vegetables lurking and feeling unloved in the veggie crisper!

That's the thing about cooking for one - if you want variety, it is rare to use whole vegetables in any dish, so you end up with lots of half chopped, a little sad looking vegetables littering the bottom of the vegetable crisper.


Ratatouille with chicken and cauliflower rice

Not my favourite flavours, but felt very virtuous about using up remaining bits of zucchini and tomato.

One pan |  x serves vegetables | 10 minutes

Oh my gosh - I really feel that someone should have given me a medal for making this dinner!  It's full of my least favourite flavours. Though the power of my economy drive and doing this blog (where I share the contents of my fridge each week) I didn't want to throw out half a zucchini - which I possibly might have done in the past - because it doesn't go with a lot of things I enjoy eating.

Plus my kitchen was a bomb site as I was messing around with my camera, trying to get better at this whole food photography thing - so that fact that not only did I cook something I'm not mad about, I persevered in the face of diabolical kitchen really did make me feel VERY virtuous!

Anyway, what I call a truly functional meal - nutritious, easy, quick, used up existing ingredients - just not particularly inspiring. Plus the light was fading really fast, so it photographed dreadfully!

AGGHHHH - I soooooooo long for more bench space!



Chicken and corn soup

One pan |  2 serves vegetables | 15 minutes

Possibly you are getting bored of reading about this soup - but my love affair with it continues! I love the flavours - though it is a while since I've made the proper, full flavoured Anneka Manning version - however it's still a great go-to recipe that you can play around with based on what you have on hand.

This time, I was determined to minimise all washing up - so even poached the chicken in the same pan I cooked the corn in. Also I didn't have creamed corn, but wanted more of a cream-y vs broth type soup, so cooked half the corn and then used my stick mixer to turn it into 'creamed corn'.

This is the sort of meal I really like - and think anyone cooking for themselves should be familar with - it's a basic recipe that you can adapt to suit what you have on hand.

Amping up vegetables and greens. In the ideal world, i.e. if I had actually got to the supermarket and had any vegetables on hand I would have added in some greens - peas, spinach, asparagus, rocket etc.



Shepherds pie for one with lamb mince

A desperado dinner turned comfort food wonder (Thanks again to leftover birthday salsa)

1 pan |  2 serves vegetables |  15 minutes with ready-made salsa

Shepherds pie, or a pie with mash on top is a great way of adding a bit of oomph and appeal to a meal - it's also a meal that is usually associated with families and large numbers - yet I think it translates into a great meal for one person.

As I mentioned at the beginning I was on a mission to try and use up the lamb mince as well as the vegetables in the crisper. This is was once again a meal that was saved by being able to pull out a packet of quickly defrosted tomato salsa from the freezer. (The salsa I made the HUGE vat of for my birthday, that I had about 15 frozen packets of!)

Anyway, it meant that all I really had to do was brown off the mince (I didn't even have an onion to hand) then add the salsa, cook down then top with mash. I put parmesan cheese out with the ingredients, as orginally I intended to make a cheesy top - but in the end I couldn't be bothered turning on the oven and decided I could live without those calories.

Unfortunately the photos don't do it justice. I'm trying to make the most of the last days of daylight saving and went for an early evening paddle, so once again found myself cooking in the fading light.