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Dinner photos

Last night ended up being really fun πŸ™‚ I think I have definitely grown up a lot in the last few years – I don’t get as anxious about things like having people over, and am much better at relaxing and enjoying myself. Both are good shifts I think! They certainly make life easier, even if I still have a less good day sometimes.

I snapped photos of the various dishes pre-people arriving, but this is what we ended up with…

Kebabs (still marinating, no post-grilling pictures I’m afraid):

Sweet chilli and soy chicken and vegetable kebabs

Sweet chilli and soy chicken and vegetable kebabs

Tandoori chicken and vegetable kebabs

Tandoori chicken and vegetable kebabs

The kebabs had sweet pepper, zucchini, mushroom and onion, in different combinations and amounts. I put more vegetables with the sweet chilli and soy ones as I knew that would be the flavour I’d want to eat myself πŸ˜›

The vegetable and noodle stirfry had carrot, bok choi, baby corn, green beans, water chestnuts, rice noodles, and a mix of garlic, hoi sin sauce, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. I can’t say it photographs all that well, but nonetheless:

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Vegetable and noodle stir fry

Mediterranean cous-cous also looks pretty boring in a photo…I should have snapped everything together instead of separately πŸ˜›

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Mediterranean cous-cous

Of course, the most exciting part of any cooking effort is the dessert…

Strawberry tarts

Strawberry jam tarts

Strawberry and blueberry tarts

Strawberry and blueberry chocolate tarts

All together...

All together

I should perhaps note that I did cheat on the pastry cases…I bought empty ones to fill. I don’t think homemade ones by me would ever look so even!

Last but not least, the icecream with mix-ins…

Icecream

Icecream

I had 2 of the sweet chilli and soy kebabs, some of the vegetable/noodle stir fry and a big serve of the green salad someone brought for my main meal. I had mostly fruit salad (also brought by someone else) for dessert, plus a chocolate truffle out of a selection someone brought as a gift. I am going to try one of the tarts at some point though – half of the 12 are left so I’m going to keep one of each flavour to try and take the rest over to my parents/siblings later today. I’m sure my brother and sister will be happy!

It’s a public holiday here today so I’m also going to enjoy an extra non-work day πŸ™‚

xx Kari

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I’m having some people to dinner tonight so today is going to be a busy day! On the main menu are:

  • Sweet chilli & coriander chicken and vegetable kebabs
  • Tandoori chicken and vegetable kebabs
  • Vegetable cous-cous
  • Vegetable stir fry (lots of Asian style vegetables, thin rice noodles, and a mix of chilli, soy and hoisin sauce)

Some of the guests (there are 5 people coming, 3 are bringing food and 2 wine) are bringing a green salad, bread and dips for beforehand, and a fruit salad to go with dessert.

The dessert menu is:

  • Mini chocolate tarts, with strawberries and blueberries
  • Plain (low fat, although it will end up very high fat!) vanilla icecream with mini marshmallows, crushed up choc-honeycomb and choc-wafer pieces, and chocolate sauce mixed through

Hopefully it will all go according to plan and I’ll have some nice photos to upload later πŸ™‚

My Saturday yesterday was pretty low-key; I had thought to get a start on the cooking but somehow didn’t quite get to it. I did do all the necessary grocery shopping, plus picked up some photo frames and other household things I’d been meaning to get, and went for a long run. I missed this last weekend with being away, and it was great πŸ™‚ I did 60 minutes and about 10km…not the best pace, but it felt good nonetheless.

I’m off for a quick gym workout now and will then rev myself up for cooking and cleaning (I’ve learnt from experience that it’s best to wash my kitchen floor after I do lots of cooking…otherwise I just have to do it twice. lol.)

xx Kari

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Nostalgia

I am feeling kind of sad this afternoon. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here before or not, but I’m in the process of wrapping up an assortment of part-time positions in preparation for starting one full-time job in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to the new job, and it will be great to be based in one place instead of moving around all the time, but I’m not always very good with good byes and changes and the next week and a half is going to be full of them! Today was my last day at a place I’ve been working casually for over 5 years…in many ways this is the least sad good bye as I know I’ll still have ongoing contact with these people, but it’s still strange to think I won’t actually be working there any more.

I think in some ways this is also a double hit for me, as one of my current positions is at the university where I studied for 8 years – 4 years undergraduate and 4 years postgraduate – so finishing up there means I cut official ties with the uni too. I know I’ll get over it though, and of course the new job is exciting…I’m just not a huge fan of sad 😦

On other topics, I used some of my market-fresh vegetables last night to make tuna-stuffed-pepper. It was a pretty simple mix, but it tasted great! I had bok choi, some cooked celery (I love it cooked!), carrots, cherry tomatoes, and half of the big red pepper filled with “sundried tomato” tuna (I didn’t snap the tin):

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Lots of colour!

I had my carbohydrate as a separate meal πŸ™‚ A bowl of special k advantage with a few tsps of skim milk (I was in the mood for crunch) and some frozen berries:

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I also had a great interval-training run at the gym this morning. I did 25 mins on the cross-trainer to start, and then did 25 mins on the treadmill with the speed set at 12km/hr for my “work” speed and 7km/hr for my “rest” speed (both with 2.5% incline). The running time didn’t equate to much all up (half of the 25mins) but the speed felt good!

I have a presentation to practice for work tomorrow (one of the jobs I haven’t finished lol) so I think I’d better go and do that now πŸ˜›

xx Kari

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This has ended up being seriously late! I did manage to pull my act together last night though. Dinner ended up being what I am going to christen chickpea stew. It doesn’t really deserve an official name as it’s basically just tinned food and vegetables thrown together, but I figure I should call it something πŸ˜›

The ingredients:

  • Chick peas
  • 1/4 tin diced tomatoes
  • Carrot
  • Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • 1/2 pepper
  • ~ 1 tsp curry powder
  • ~ 1 tsp chilli powder

I had it with potato on the side.

Chickpea stew with potato

Chickpea stew with potato

Mr potato before going in the microwave

Mr potato before going in the microwave

I can’t remember what this version of potato is called but it’s my favourite.

I think in future I’ll leave out the curry powder – or at least use less – but I figure this mix must have been better for me than cereal. I did satisfy my cereal urge later in the evening though, with a bowl of special k advantage (one of the cereals I specifically buy for dessert/snacks) πŸ˜›

xx Kari

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I have made a lot of progress since the start of this year in buying/eating real food instead of pre-packaged, processed pretend food.Β  But for some reason, when I was at the supermarket last week, I bought a lean cuisine ‘prawn risotto in a bowl’ meal. It looked nice in the picture (lol) and the lean cuisines were on special and I figured it might come in handy one night. Plus, the ingredient list didn’t look too bad for a packaged meal.

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Well, the punchline is probably clear from the title of my post…I had this meal for dinner tonight (with extra vegetables) and it definitely left something to be desired! I really didn’t enjoy it very much at all. I have never made risotto in my life, but I’m sure even I could improve on this without too much difficulty!

I think in future I’ll stick to soup or a tin of tuna with potato if I want a quick easy meal…

xx Kari

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Baking part 2

I had such a fun time yesterday afternoon πŸ™‚ It was really nice to catch up with my friends and truly relax and enjoy it.

I think my baking ultimately turned out ok.

The brownies (I left them uniced):

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and,

the cupcakes:

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I was going for drizzled icing here, but I have to admit that it wasn’t one of my best efforts!

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I warned my friends that the brownies had aΒ ‘twist’ to them (I thought it was only fair lol) but none of them guessed it was beetroot. The closest anyone got was rhubarb πŸ™‚

It’s got me thinking about whatΒ other vegetables might go into baking…besides the ones already tried and tested. Something to experiment with in the future I guess πŸ˜›

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xx Kari

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I have to say, 6 months ago I would never have predicted that I might one day run longer than I intended. Yesterday morning I planned to do 2 laps of a 3.5km circuit near my house…a bit shorter than my last two ‘long’ runs, but it was a completely flat route and I thought it would be a good chance to practice moderating my pace without hills to make me do so. Plus, as I wrote about here, my last 2 runs resulted in serious swollen-ness the next day. I’m not planning to stop/ cut back on running because of this, but I kind of didn’t feel like dealing with it this weekend. So, 7km was the plan. Problem is, the two laps took 38 minutes. I am someone who likes even or ‘neat’ numbers, so running for 38 minutes didn’t really appeal to me.

I was still feeling ok, so I thought I’d go to 40mins to even it out. Then I stretched it out to 45mins. And then I was a quarter of the way round the circuit so I figured I’d just run it another time πŸ™‚ So I ended up running 10.5km after all – but of course my time still wasn’t even that way, as the extra lap took me to 57 minutes. I found myself thinking ‘maybe I’ll just go on to make it an hour’, but I made myself stop…I might still be running yet otherwise. lol.

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For this afternoon, I decided to make strawberry cupcakes and brownies with a twist. Uniced cupcakes:

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These are just a basic vanilla cupcake recipe with tinned strawberries added to the batter. I find that fresh strawberries don’t bake so well, and I’m not a huge fan of frozen strawberries. They just don’t seem to take to freezing like other sorts of berries do.

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When I bake, I always end up with one cupcake/cookie/item that isΒ a bit…demented. I usually refer to it as my ‘practice’ item. For this batch, the demented cupcake is in the top left of the above picture…I had a bit of trouble getting it out of the tin and one side kind of collapsed.

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The brownies with a twist:

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I’ve made these once before, after being inspired by Angela’s chocolate beetroot cake. Yes, that’s where the twist comes in πŸ™‚ I remember my mum making a chocolate beetroot cake when I was younger, and I dug out the recipe for that. In her version though, there’s still lots of butter and the recipe doesn’t look too healthy. I took Angela’s list of ingredients, threw things together in a way that I thought might work, and hoped for the best πŸ™‚ It did work out, but in my version you can almost tell there is beetroot in there. If you were looking for it, you definitely could. I don’t mind this too much as the flavour is hidden by cocoa and I personally like the taste, but I think perhaps I haven’t got the ingredients/balance quite right yet.

In my version there is (approximately):

  • 1.75 cups plain flour
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar (I didn’t have regular so I mixed 1/2 cup brown with 1/2 cup icing…not sure I’d recommend this usually!)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 (425g) tin beetroot drained and blended
  • 1 tsp almond extract.

I’m undecided about whether to ice this batch, so we’ll see what I decide on later today πŸ™‚

xx Kari

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