Foodie Friday – A Takeaway Alternative


Friday is the end of the working week and it could be very easy to slip into the ‘routine’ of takeaway on a Friday night.  It was not a tradition at home when I was growing up but I know for many families takeaway is a Friday night staple.  In order to avoid succumbing to takeaway on a Friday (or any other night) it is important to have a meal planned.  As part of my menu plan I often factor in an easy meal for Friday night.


Tonight was no exception – we had nachos.  It is about as easy as you can get and there are only 4 ingredients.  There are no quantities – just use as much as you need.


Corn chips
Refried beans
Grated cheese

Layer the corn chips on a tray or shallow ovenproof dish, add dollops of tomato and refried beans then sprinkle with grated cheese.  Repeat the layers until ingredients are used.  Bake in the oven at 170C for 12-15 minutes.

To make things a bit fancier you can serve with sides of sour cream or good-quality natural yoghurt and guacamole.  A green salad is another option.

I make my own refried beans in the slow-cooker and freeze them in 500g tubs.  You can find the recipe here. I have used canned tomatoes, diced fresh tomatoes or home-grown tomatoes that have been cooked down to a pulpy mixture.  Some extra chilli can be mixed into the tomatoes if you prefer a spicier dish.

This recipe is vegetarian but you can add a small amount of minced beef mixture or shredded cooked chicken if you wish.  However, I would recommend that you try the vegetarian version on the carnivores in your household as the beans make a substantial and tasty meal.

Do you have alternatives to takeaway?

Filling the Freezer


I am putting the disaster of my photos behind me and moving on.

This week is going back to the basics of the things I do.

We have a refrigerator with a freezer section as well as a small upright freezer which is the size of a bar fridge.  It has been turned off and not used for a couple of months as I simply did not need it and it seemed pointless to be wasting electricity when I could fit everything in the other freezer.  However, I turned it back on last night as I opened a large, catering-size tin of crushed tomatoes and divided them into portions to freeze.

Frozen tomatoes

I also cooked a quantity of refried-beans in the slow-cooker.

Re-fried beans

Tonight I removed the frozen blocks of tomatoes from their containers and placed them in a double bag.  These are old bread bags that have been washed and re-used many times.

Frozen tomatoes - baggedThe containers were then re-used to freeze the refried beans.

Refried beans - ready to freeze

There was some leftover quiche which I portioned up for my lunches and 2 pieces are ready for the freezer.

Quiche to freeze

The plastic sheet to separate the slices is from cereal packaging.  I rarely buy prepacked cereal of any kind but these have been saved and rewashed many times.  I store them in a bag in the kitchen drawer when they are not in use.

The freezer is not full yet but I will be working on that over the coming days.


Of course, there are many other things in the freezer such as meat, cooked rice, spreadable butter, grated cheese and sliced bread.

What is in your freezer?

Who Needs Meat?


Although we are not vegetarian we do eat a range of non-meat meals and when we do have meat it is quite a small portion.

Why do we do this?  It is partly driven by cost because I would much rather have a small portion of locally-produced, grass-fed or free range meat occasionally than the cheapest I can find just to serve meat every day.  However, more and more it is because we have access to a range of home-grown vegetables.  These are grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertiliser.  I know how they have been produced, there is no transport involved and they are picked at their peak.

Here is some of what I picked today.

2011-08-28 01I had already given 1 head of broccoli and half of the snow peas to a neighbour before I took the photo.  The broccoli weighed just over 3kg and that is only about half of the plants.  There will also be all of the side shoots for a couple more months at least.  I expect that based on today’s harvest that I will probably reap about 8kg in total.  That is not a bad return for a $2.50 punnet of seedlings.  I should be more accurate in my calculations of the value of what I plant.  Jennifer Lorenzetti from Fast, Cheap and Good has the right idea when it comes to calculating the value of what she grows and other things such as jam-making and preserving.  As well as the broccoli and snow peas there is another cabbage and some spinach.

With all of that fresh broccoli it had to be incorporated into the meal.  Tonight we had Mexican Bean Pie with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms.  The mushrooms are still growing prolifically from the bags of mushroom compost we got a couple of months ago.  The cool, damp weather of the past couple of days means that there is yet another crop that have popped up in the last 24 hours.

2011-08-28 02Mexican Bean Pie is a really fancy name for something I whipped up one night and it has now become a favourite of ours.  I use the Crockpot Refried Beans and mix about a cup of bean mixture with cooked rice until it is a fairly stiff consistency.  Spread into a pie plate, top with a little grated cheese and heat through until cheese is melted.  This can be done in microwave, oven or under the grill.