Day #32 – Nachos

Tonight, as I do every night, I gathered up the components of our dinner-to-be and placed them on to the bench. Princess skipped into room and asked, “Mum? What are we cooking for tea tonight?”. I looked at the array of ingredients and said to her, “Why don’t you try to guess what we are having?”.

Now, we have had nachos a lot in the past, so I assumed it would be a quick and painless game. Of course, one simply cannot assume anything when it involves a 4 year old girl.


Princess leaned on the bench, chin in hand, and tilted her head while she poked and looked through the ingredients.

“Ah-ha!” she exclaimed. “We are having .. a salad!”.

“No, not a salad – the onion is the only vegetable! Try again”.

“I know! An onion pie!” An onion pie? I don’t even want to think what an onion pie would be like. “Try again”

*long, pondering pause, with many hmmms and uuuummmmmms*

“I KNOW! I KNOW! For dinner, we are having a chippie-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese!”

Spot on.

And here you have, Chippie-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese. Or, Nachos, if you prefer.


Corn Chips


Can of Pasta Sauce

Can of Chilli Beans




Sour Cream

Brown the onion (diced, of course) and garlic in a pan for a couple of minutes and then add in the mince. Cook until completely brown throughout then add the tomato pasta sauce. At this point I reserve part of the mixture for the kids, as they don’t like nor appreciate the medium-heat chilli beans! Add in the chilli beans and let the mixture simmer on low heat. The longer, the better! Put the corn chips into an oven tray and cover with grated cheese (obviously I left a part uncovered as I don’t eat cheese). Grill for 5-10 minutes, until the chips are crispy and the cheese is melted. Not too long, mine went a bit black tonight. Whoops. To plate up, put some of the chips onto a plate, and then top with the mince mixture. Add more grated cheese and sour cream if you choose.


Great as always. The chips are a favourite in our house, even buying Chilli and Lime flavour (the only flavour without dairy in it) doesn’t turn the kids away. Plus, they add a really nice taste to the dish. Mr T worked until after 6pm today and when he walked in and saw his towering plate of nachos, his eyes lit up and he said he was drooling.

It’s true what they say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And chippies-to-scoop-up-cooked-meat-with-cheese is the dish for the job ♥


Day #20 – Sweet and Sour Pork

Before embarking on this journey of cooking meals from scratch and not using packets or buying takeaways, our grocery load was more or less the same every week. There were some very basic items that I simply never bought.

  • Onions. I have an intolerance to onions if they are even moderately undercooked, so I tended to avoid them.
  • Herbs and Spices. I started this challenge using the dregs from whatever I had in my pantry.
  • Potatoes. Seems like a strange thing not to buy because they are such an integral part of whatever I’m cooking at the moment.
  • Fresh veges, such as capsicum, courgette, cauliflower etc.

As I was retrieving the onion required for tonight’s meal, I realised that I am nearly at the end of a 1.5kg bag of them. After accusing the kids of eating raw onion (yes, I heard myself too as I said it, but in my defence, BoyChild eats chalk), I realised that I have been using them! In my cooking! Stop it! And, we have no more potatoes left! I’ve used them all. Goodness. This cooking thing must be working. We are also nearly through a bag of carrots, all the capsicums have gone and I needed to pop out to buy Cornflour from the dairy (because, apparently, I don’t own that either).

I have had a tin of pineapple in the cupboard for a long time and Mr T’s favourite Chinese takeaway meal is Sweet and Sour Pork so I decided to cook that up tonight, served on rice (also, nearly run out).

Sweet and Sour Pork


Lean Pork

1 Capsicum

1 Carrot

1 Onion

1 T Soy Sauce

1 1/2 T Vinegar

1 1/2 T Tomato Sauce

1 1/2 T Brown Sugar

1 tin of Pineapple Pieces – reserve the juice

1 T Cornflour

Cut the pork into slices or pieces and stir fry until cooked. Add in the diced capsicum, diced onion and sliced carrot. Stir fry for a further few minutes. In a bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, tomato sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Add in with the pork and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes (until the veges are tender). Dissolve the cornflour and add to the pan, then add the pineapple. Serve over rice. I added Crispy Noodles, because, well, Crispy Noods are awesome.



Win 100%. Mr T was very happy, he said it was brilliant. And, BabyGirl loves pineapple, we learnt today! This particular dish I was pretty proud of, because it was entirely from scratch, healthy and packed full of everything we want/need in a meal. Very pleased with oneself.

I should mention, Crispy Noods is not a typo – I used to work with someone who called them that and, well, the name stuck. Now you will forever call them Crispy Noods as well. You are welcome.



Day #19 – Bacon and Banana Pancakes. For Dinner. Yes.

I’m no Domesticated Goddess. I have never claimed to be even close. My house is a mess on a good day, I feed my kids sweets and have been known to fall asleep while they play quietly (just once or twice, when I was very pregnant). I’m sorry if this pops a bubble of illusion in you – I know, I know, I come across as something a bit like this –


But, to be honest, I’m not. I didn’t even know how to clean an oven until recently, and I had to google the instructions.

So, some days things go up the haywire. I do occasional work which requires meetings with clients at all random hours of the day (*gasp* not that kind of work!) and so things don’t always go as planned at home. Today was one of those days (in fact, these days happen as often as they don’t, some weeks). I had an appointment at 6pm so I wasn’t going to be around for dinner.

I asked Mr T what creative and exciting meal would he like, based around bacon. He said, “Pancakes with Bananas and Bacon“. I said, “No, for dinner”. And he replied, “Pancakes with banana and bacon, please”. So, he and the kids had pancakes for tea. I view it as the lesser of two evils – prior to No Takeaways, they would most certainly have had fish and chips. So, win.



1 C Self Raising flour (we had none so I used regular flour + baking powder)

Milk (I made two lots, one with normal milk and one with soy)

1 egg

1 T sugar

Mix up a relatively thick batter with the ingredients and cook on medium heat until yummy and cooked. These are quite thick pancakes, the way Mr T likes them. We served them with bacon and sliced banana. And Maple syrup.


Win, of course. I mean, come on – pancakes for dinner? Definite win. Oh, and no “cooked meal” picture because the food was wolfed down before I got the chance. Ah, my lovely family. So, here is an artist’s impression of the meal. You are welcome.


note: not to scale


Day #18 – Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

It’s a bit funny when I decide to cook a meal and I refer back to one of my own blogs for guidance. I feel a bit fancy, really. Like this whole cooking-and-blogging thing is actually working! Cooking Roast Beef once more because, as previously mentioned, we have a freezer full of beef and lamb. I used the same recipe that I used on Day #5 because it worked so well the first time. Today, however, I was determined to make Yorkshire Puddings as well. Yum. I mean, just – Yum. And, I added roast kumara in as well (kumara = sweet potato = yummo)

I am not a fan of soy milk. I guess it’s fair to say I’m not really a fan of regular milk either, but I find soy milk tastes a bit peculiar. Having a dairy free little lass means that we are trying more and more soy products. BabyGirl had a soy Fluffy today at the coffee shop (for those unfamiliar, a Fluffy is a little milk drink that kids get when Mums and Dads get coffees. Very cute. Comes with marshmallows and, if you are lucky, a chocolate fish!) and she was not a fan at all. Luckily her little buddy was on hand to drink it!

Milk is a key component of yorkshire pudding so I needed to buy Soy Milk and give it a go. I was concerned that the taste would overpower but I was pleasantly surprised 🙂

Roast Beef, Gravy, Potatoes

Refer Day #5, the recipe is identical except today I used Topside beef instead of Rump. And, I added in kumara. Because, yum.



Yorkshire Pudding


80g Flour

1 egg

125ml Soy Milk

Oil/Fat to cook

In a cupcake tray/patty pan thingamee (highly technical term), fill each little hole with about 5mm of oil. Preheat the oven to 220C and when oven is hot, put the tray in. Heat the oil for 5 minutes. In that time, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl to form a thickish batter. Once 5 minutes has passed, add the batter into the trays and cook until risen (about 15 minutes).



Yum. Win x 1,000,000. This roast was long awaited (due to my meeting taking longer than planned, poor Mr T waited very patiently for me to come home!) and well worth the wait. To quote Mr T, “that meat was exceptional, the potatoes and kumara were splendid, the gravy was awesome and the yorkshire puddings were to die for. Did I mention the meat?”.


So, there you go. And, there are leftovers. Although, I do admit when looking at that picture, the meal was lacking anything of colour! I seem to have forgotten the peas and carrots. Oh well. YOLO.



Day #17 – Curried Sausages

When you are a Proper Grown Up, you tend to have dinner at, say, 7:30pm. 8pm even. When you have children, dinner gets earlier and earlier. And then you go out for dinner with Proper Grown Ups and they say, let’s meet at 7:30. And you stare at them, not quite sure if they mean 7:30am or maybe they mean it’s not dinner but coffee and cake? Because you already had your tea at 4:45pm?

Anyone with children knows how chaotic the household gets from around 4:30pm, so everything is meticulously planned to avoid Complete and Utter Meltdown. At our house, if dinner isn’t served by 6pm, it doesn’t get eaten. It gets thrown and yelled at and cried upon. By me as much as the kids.

I had every intention of cooking roast beef today but some days, today happens. As in, the meeting that was supposed to be half an hour, was an hour. Picking up the kids became a full play date (which I am not  complaining about, I enjoy catching up with my friend while the kids play!). However, we didn’t walk in the door until 4:15pm which is a bit late to cook a roast when you eat by 6pm. So, I peered into the fridge, saw sausages, and made Curried Sausages.

Curried Sausages


6 Sausages




1 t Curry Powder

1 T Brown Sugar

1 T Worcester Sauce

1 T Tomato Paste (I didn’t have any so used Tomato Sauce)

2 Cups Water

Cook the sausages then put aside. Chop the potato, onion and carrot and cook for two minutes. Add in the curry powder, tomato paste, brown sugar and Worcester sauce. Cook for two more minutes then add the water and stir. Add the sausages (I chopped them up at this point) and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.



Win. Really, really yummy. Not at all like what I expected – not even remotely like a curry. Nonetheless, they were very delicious. Because they were packed full of veges etc we didn’t need a side dish. A definite winner, though next time I would be more creative with spices I think.

And now it’s 7:37pm, must be time for supper.


Day #14 – Sunday Night Mish-Mash


As I mentioned on Day #12, I was away yesterday at a fun-filled and relaxing wedding. While my dear mother stayed here and looked after Princess and BoyChild, I expected them to eat takeaways for dinner. In fact, I encouraged it. But no – in order to keep consistent with this No-Takeaway Challenge, they cooked an awesome meal for the kids. Well done, Grandma! And, the food at the wedding was exceptional and homely – the wedding was in a marquee on a farm and the food was home cooked and catered not by fancy caterers but by family and friends. There is a lot to be said for a classic Kiwi wedding with salads, roast chicken and lamb, ham on the bone and potatoes from the garden, followed up by Pavlova and cheesecake for desert. Oh my, I’m drooling once more. Superb. Utterly superb.

But I digress! I got home mid-afternoon and I am completely shattered. I even snuck in a cheeky nap on the couch this afternoon – in fact, I may have stopped mid-sentence and just suddenly fallen asleep. That’ll learn me for staying out till 11pm on a Saturday night *gasp*. Sorry, digressing once more. I think I’ll sleep well tonight!

My mum is visiting my sister and Mr T is at work, so dinner tonight was just the kids, Grandad and myself. And, to be honest, I didn’t feel like much at all. And, to be perfectly honest, the idea of takeaways was discussed. At length. But, I reluctantly dragged my feet to the freezer to see what I could whip up. And thus you have, the Sunday Night Mish-Mash.

For Princess and BoyChild – “Egg Soldiers”. That is, a soft boiled egg with toast cut into strips (the “soldiers”) for dipping. And, an entire carrot each. Because .. well, because.

For BabyGirl – Cooked egg yolk, toast and watermelon. All schmooshed together and flung from here to eternity.

And, for Grandad and myself – Steak, eggs and potato rosti.

Steak was simply seared in a pan until medium-well done. Eggs were fried and deliciously gooey.


Potato Rosti



Peel the potato and then grate into a bowl. Try to get as much liquid out as possible – the best way to do this is to use paper towels but we didn’t have any so I had to rely on squeezing it in handfuls while the liquid seeped away. Once the potato is relatively dry, mix in the egg. Fry in batches until cooked on both sides. These make lovely little fritters which I adore.


Well, the kids loved their meals of course. The potato rosti was *ok*. I’m not going to call it a win because, tonight, they didn’t really hold in the pan so it was more “fried, grated potato” than “fried little fritters”. But, I shrug because I still liked them. Grandad says they were very nice which is fine praise from him!

On the plus side, Princess is getting very good at peeling potatoes, she loves it. And, she helped to grate the potato as well, on her mini grater. She watched with amazement as I drained the “water” from the potatoes and exclaimed – “Is that yellow potato water? I’ve never seen yellow water! I don’t think I want to drink YELLOW WATER, MUM!”. Bless.

Tomorrow, I’ll be well rested (*ahem* BabyGirl, I’m looking at you) and all set for another cooking week 🙂


Day #10 – Chickpea and Lentil Patties with Homemade Chips

Some days I have plans from the get go about what I’m going to cook. I can say, with 100% certainty from the moment I get out of bed, exactly what would be for dinner. Today was not one of those days. I left the house at 10am today and didn’t get home until after 3pm. As I walked in the door, a little voice said to me, “What are you going to cook for dinner?!”. Truth be told, it wasn’t a little voice. It was a surprisingly big voice from a perpetually hungry 4 year old girl. And, it was more like, “Muuuuuuuuuuuumm! You’re hoooooooooooooome! What’s for TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEA?” (remembering, of course, that it was only 3:15pm). Captain Sigh.

So, what was I going to cook? I opened the pantry and (because, well, it was just one of those kind of days) a can of lentils literally rolled out and hit me on the foot. Followed closely by a can of chickpeas. I decided two things – 1. BoyChild really needs to stop stacking cans in the pantry, and 2. Chickpea and Lentil Patties for tea.

Being that they are kind of burger-y, I decided to attempt to make hot chips. Not oven fries from the freezer, real ones. Like, from potatoes. Wow. Stop it. As seems to be the norm right now, Princess was ready and waiting, apron and all. And, I am proud to say, once again she more or less entirely made the chips. She painstakingly peeled the potatoes (asking that I not peel mine so fast because I was making her potatoes sad), sliced them carefully with the knife and did everything bar putting them into the oven. It’s hot, she informed me. Fair call.

Chickpea and Lentil Patties

1 can Chickpeas (drained)

1 can Lentils (drained)

1 Egg

1 T Curry Powder

1/2 Onion (diced)



1/2 C Breadcrumbs


Combine the egg with the can of chickpeas and put into a food processor until smooth. Mix in a bowl with the other ingredients. Form into patties and fry until golden on both sides and cooked through.

Homemade Chips




Peel the potatoes and slice into chip-shaped pieces. Put into an oven tray and sprinkle flour over, shake up until all the chips are coated. Drizzle on oil and once again ensure they are completely coated. Cook in the oven until chips are golden and crispy.



For me, I call this a win. The chips were pretty fantastic, not as crunchy as deep fried ones but no less tasty. I really liked the patties although next time I might be more creative with the seasonings. BabyGirl loved the patties as well, she ate two entire patties. For Mr T and the other kids? They loved the chips but weren’t too sold on the patties. Mr T says they were “nice enough”. Princess picked all of the onion out of hers then declared it “ruined” and left the table. Shrug. Perhaps something I will make one night for just BabyGirl and me – maybe they would be more popular served in a bun. Will definitely make the chips again though 🙂


Day #6 – Shepherd’s Pie. With Marmite. Stop it.

This evening, as I was preparing this meal amidst the usual chaos that is our house at 5pm, I was thinking about this blog and my “30 Days Without Takeaways” challenge. I came to the realisation that, as with many things, it often takes merely not being allowed to do something to stop oneself from doing it. In other words, I have challenged myself and am writing this blog as motivation to see the challenge through, and therefore I simply am not allowed to buy takeaways. And so, we are not. Today would have probably been an ideal fish and chip night – I spent a large part of the day working, Princess spent the day at a birthday party and Mr T is still under the weather. And, there is a cyclone looming, apparently. But, takeaways wasn’t even floated as an option. Because, quite simply, we are not allowed.

And thus I made Shepherd’s Pie.

This is another of the meals that Mr T mentioned when I asked him earlier in the week about meals from his childhood. Shepherd’s Pie (according to me, anyway) is just savoury mince topped with mashed potato. In some form.

Mince meat is one of those grocery items you buy every week, regardless of meal plans. Because it is so versatile, so cheap and so easy to cook – we always have at least one or two lots of mince in the freezer. I didn’t use a recipe as such for this dish because, as with many mince dishes, it really is a case of throwing things at the frying pan and hoping they taste good. I mean, any mince is tastier than what my flatmate used to cook when I was flatting as an 18 year old – he aptly named it Salty Mince because it contained mince and salt. Only mince and salt.


Which brings me to Marmite. Marmite? Shut. The. Front. Door. Are you crazy? Well, yes. But we already know that! For those of you blog followers who don’t know what Marmite is, it is a black spread similar to the famed Australian Vegemite, only slightly sweeter. Very slightly. You either love it or you hate it. Oh, it is also very different to British Marmite, as we discovered when the NZ Marmite factory was closed for two very long years after the 2011 earthquake.

Shepherd’s Pie





Mixed Vegetables

Worcester Sauce

Beef Stock

Herbs and Spices

Potatoes (plus ingredients needed for mashing. We are dairy free due to BabyGirl’s allergy so we use margarine and olive oil to mash potatoes).

*You might like to top your pie with grated cheese as well. As above, we are dairy free so don’t but it is a nice addition


Potato Pompoms (Now, these weren’t part of my plan but while I was waiting for the potatoes to boil, I found half a bag in the freezer. I love them, I absolutely adore these, so I decided to put them on top of the pie. This meant I didn’t need as many potatoes as well)

So, the method is pretty simple – as I said earlier, I just throw things at the frying pan. Not literally. Most of the time. Chop the onion and cook with the garlic, add the mince and cook until it is brown. Add the Worcester sauce, mixed veges and stock. Cook some more. With the Marmite, I put about half a teaspoon of it into about 1/4 cup of boiling water and stirred until it had mostly dissolved, then added it to the mince mixture. Trust me, it’s delicious.

While this is going on, peel and chop the potatoes then boil them until ready to mash. Mash potatoes.


Once the mince mixture is cooked to your liking, put it into an oven-proof dish and top with pompoms or potatoes or whatever combination you have chosen. Top with cheese if ya’ll like. Put into the oven just until the potatoes are nice and crispy (about 10-15mins).


Win. On a windy, stormy evening nothing is better than hot comfort food. Appearance wise, it looked like prison food but it tasted amazing. Smothered, of course, in tomato sauce. We didn’t need any side dishes because the pie itself is so jam packed with meat, potato and veges. There was enough left over that I can use it to create something for dinner tomorrow night.


Here’s a question Mr T had for me today – are we allowed Takeaways if they are bought for us by someone else? Hmmm, I’m not sure. Food for thought!