Mediterranean Pizza

The roots of our perennial favorite, Pizza, lie in the Mediterranean, and traditionally, pizza never has pineapple, chicken or any of the other "fancy" ingredients we've come to think of on it. But that doesn't mean it has to be either boring OR expensive!!

Make your own tasty mediterranean pizza at home for a cheap, tasty meal that the whole family will love.

Mediterranean Pizza

Your favorite pizza sauce**
Half a cup or so of grated cheese - use your own favorite, but LastPenny uses any brand of Tasty
1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
Baby spinach leaves
Fresh basil leaves
Store-bought pizza base!

Heat oven up to 200C. Spread your pizza sauce on the pizza base, top with baby spinach leaves and basil leaves, a sprinkle of cheese and tomato over the top.

For extra flavor, add sliced mushrooms or chopped bacon.

**LastPenny's Quick and Cheapy Pizza Sauce

1 tin Watties Pasta Sauce (any flavour)
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon mixed herbs

Bring gently to the boil on the stovetop, stirring often, and cook for 10 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken and reduce.

This makes heaps: refrigerate in glass or plastic for use. You can also freeze it in single-serve (about 3-4 tablespoons) portions!

Great for a quick and easy dinner, for entrees, or weekend lunches.

Try making it on a pita bread, and folding it over to take to work for lunch!

Chickpea Salad

Summer's coming, and with it, you often dont feel like a hot meal in the evenings. Here's a tasty, filling vegetarian option!

Chickpea based, so it's packed with protein and best of all cheap; and most kids love it.

Chickpea Salad

4-5 button mushrooms, or 1 large flat mushroom (omit if mushrooms are disliked)
1/2 small red onion
1 Yellow or orange pepper
1 large chopped tomato (or use halved cherry tomatoes)
large handful fresh green beans, chopped**
300ish gram tin of chickpeas, drained
1 bunch chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 small lemon

Non-vegetarian option: 2 rashers bacon. OR, delicious with Sanitarium Rashers (vegetarian bacon) - these are optional

Quarter the mushrooms, slice the bacon or rashers if used into short thin strips, and chop the onion and pepper into small chunks. Heat up a small pan and lightly fry the mushrooms, bacon and veg until they're soft - about 3-4 mins in general. If using bacon, ensure it's completely cooked. I use Canola cooking spray for this.

Put your drained chickpeas into your salad bowl and add the tomatoes and the chopped parsley. You can also use coriander. Drizzle with lemon juice and mix gently (dont crush the chickpeas.)

Add the warm ingredients, stir through, and set aside to cool.

Serve with balsamic dressing.

**TOP TIP: If money's tight or you dont have them to hand, use frozen beans, peas or my personal favorite: Mixed Veg!

Serving suggestions:

On the side at barbecues, in place of a regular green salad, or as a light meal on it's own. Very tasty and filling.

Baked Bean Hash Pie

Cheap and Easy!

Baked Bean Hash Pie

1 - 2 tins baked beans*
4 - 6 hash browns
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese
Bacon or saveloys - optional
Spring onions - optional
Fresh parsley or dried mixed herbs - optional

Roughly line a casserole dish with the hash browns. Top hash browns with baked beans - optimally about half an inch to an inch thick. Sprinkle over chopped spring onions, finely chopped bacon, or thinly sliced saveloys - optional.

Beat together eggs and milk, salt and pepper, and pour over.

Cover with layer of grated cheese if desired. Garnish with chopped parsley or dried mixed herbs.

Bake at 180C for 35 mins.

Serving Suggestions

* For kids' teatime with buttered bread
* As a special brunch, with baby spinach salad on the side

Leftovers can be served cold like an over-moist frittata - very tasty!

* Use budget or home brand or whatever's on special!

Affordable and excellent car rental

Just the other day, one half of LastPenny got her car written off - a week before moving day! Oh noes!!!

But never fear, we took the opportunity to rent a station wagon to assist with the move - there are always *more* things than you think that you want to take in the car, right?

I got in touch with A2B Rentals in Auckland. They have a huge range of high km, older vehicles for rent for those of us who are budget-conscious.

Not only were they able to let me have a lovely big station wagon for the pricely sum of $26 per day INCLUDING GST, they allowed me to transport my cat (in her carrier), in the car, when I requested that this be allowed.

This is km-inclusive, standard-insurance inclusive, no hidden extras.

They were able to let me have the car a day early when the movers wanted to come early, and at all times they were pleasant and excellent to deal with.

The only trouble is they only have locations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

I recommend A2B as a great option for the LastPenny traveller!

And now that we're all moved in, you can look forward to a return to your regular tkips and recipes from LastPenny!

Rugs: A cheaper, beter way

You probably know the expense involved in buying rugs for your home. Hundreds of dollars buys you something synthetic or thin, while the nicer ones go for the high hundreds or even thousands!

But there is a better way! You can purchased old carpet in a pattern you like - axminster is a favorite of LastPenny! or in plain colours, for often next to nothing. Cut to the size and shape you want, and have them latexed.

Latexing is a carpet treatment that's not talked about much. It involves latex being painted on the underside edge of the carpet to prevent fraying. It's a much cheaper option that overlocking or binding, and has a lovely natural look which allows the carpet pile to fall to the edge.

And best of all? It's around a tenth of the price!

Check out suppliers in your area - many will also cut to size for you. We just had a huge piece done for the princely sum of $7.20.

Moving: A success and two recs!

We've moved successfully and so you can look forward to your regular LastPenny updates again!

The move went really well, and that was in large part due to the wonderful moving company we employed.

We used Matamata Furniture Movers, who gave us an absolutely excellent price. They brought their very large truck and trailer for our load (which was very large!) but due to the wonderful packing skills of Gary they got everything in the truck alone.

They got us loaded in record time, and everything made the trip safely - except the keys to the desk and the china cabinet which I've put somewhere *safe*. I expect to find them around 2011...

I got in touch with Matamata Movers, (who work nation-wide) or rather they got in touch with me, via Backload Movers, a wonderful website I blogged about back here. Suffice it to say I can't recommend Matamata Movers or Backload Movers enough!

The only minor hiccup was that Gary couldn't get any staff to help unload at our new property. But we fixed that via *another* LastPenny trick! We called up Massey's Student Job Search, and they sent two wonderful young guys out to help. They arrived within 45 minutes of our call and did an hour's work each, and at the end of that time we were unloaded! (Gary and I had done a good bit before they arrived).

Student Job Search, for those not in the know, is a service for students who are looking to earn some extra cash. You can list anything from skilled, ongoing part-time jobs to one-off casuals like what we did, and every time I've used them, I've been eminently satisfied.

It's a great way to find affordable assistance with projects, whether it's household cleaning, gardening, removals, or office work such as data entry or phone-manning.

Annies - Healthy Food and on special this week

Annies is one of my favorite places to buy snacks for lunchboxes from. They make all natural dried fruit products, nut products and seed products, amongst other things. I urge you to sign up their newsletter for great email specials.

Delivery is often overnight and very reasonable.

This week, on special are Mrs Mays Nut Crunch products. Go and check it out.

These products are an excellent, healthy alternative to sweets in the lunchbox, and are great for car trips where fresh fruit is often too messy to indulge in too often.

LastPenny recommends products we use ourselves. We receive no payment or other benefits from these recommendations nor for visits to websites we recommend in posts.