Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jazzie's Broccoli Pie

Another challenge from the forums. This was last night's dinner/today's lunch.
Jazzie’s Broccoli Pie - great hot with salad or cold for lunches
1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
1 head broccoli (cut into flowerets)
5 eggs
1 cup grated cheese
1 big cup natural yogurt
2-3 rashes bacon (chopped)

Place puff pastry on pie dish.
Cook broccoli for few minutes – drain & distribute over pastry sheet
Mix eggs, yogurt, cheese & bacon together, pour over broccoli.
Cook in moderate oven for approx 45mts or until top golden brown/set.
You can add chopped mushrooms, onions if you like too.

I made very few adjustments, as I always like to try someone else's recipe on it's own merits. Ok, that's not quite true, I meddle with heaps of cookbook, blog and other web recipes. But when someone challenges me to make something using their recipe, I feel a little wrong changing it too much.

But others in the forum had already made this, so I did as some before me had done, and fried my onions and bacon. Only, I didn't have a spare onion, so I used some leftover spring onions, and a baby leek. Oh, and I fried up the last 4 shrivelled mushrooms from the bottom of the fridge too. I cooked it in a slightly too large tin, so there really wasn't much pastry to speak of on the sides. It was different to my usual quiche recipe. The kids didn't really like it much cold for lunch, probably too yogurt-y, but it was very nice for a (very) late dinner last night with wedges during Num3ers.

I think I'd just add the broccoli to my standard recipe if I wanted something like this again.

Kids Cooking Thursday: Jazzie’s Triple Choc Brownies

A Cooks Club Challenge recipe for this fortnight.

Jazzie’s Triple Choc Brownies - these really are the BEST!
185g (6 oz) butter
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
¾ cup white chocolate chips or roughly chopped
¾ cup milk chocolate chips or roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Place butter and dark chocolate in a
metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until smooth.
Allow to cool. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat with a electric
mixer(or wire whisk) until light and creamy. Add vanilla. Fold through chocolate and butter mixture. Sift the flour and cocoa over the mixture and mix to combine.
Add white and milk chocolate and pour into a 23 cm(9 inch) square pan that has been lined with cooking paper and sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 35-40 mins or until set. Check with a knife. Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

Fresh out of the oven

These are gooey inside, but apparently they set once cool. Mine were still gooey two hours after coming out of the oven, but I'm willing to take everyone's word for it, at least until tomorrow. I must not try any more tonight on the premise of "checking" the centres. I was planning on serving these at the party on Saturday, which I won't be able to do if I eat them all tonight!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lemon Honey Chicken (again)

Ok, so it's another packet sauce meal. I was feeling tired after our holiday still, plus, I'd spent all afternoon mucking around and waiting at the hospital for my usual 2 week checkup. Bubs is fine.

While we were on holiday I picked up three very cheap bunches of bok choy, and hadn't used them yet, plus I had a bag of frozen oriental vegies (thank you Aldi!) in the freezer for this meal. Throw in a few packs of 2 minute noodles, and voila! A meal both kids ate quite happily. And that, I'm sorry to say dear readers, is more important than fancy food or original thought at this point in time. Besides, there was bound to be some nutritious value to the bok choy, if not any in the frozen veg or noodles.

Made a BIG pan full though. Nice to get a big serve for a change.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Lemon Chicken
Tuesday Pizza
Wednesday Broccoli Pie
Thursday McDonalds
Friday Chicken kebobs with noodles
Saturday Quiche and truffles at Master Four's (!) birthday party.
Sunday Ham and Cheese Jaffles

Hope you didn't miss me too badly last week. We left for a holiday on Monday, and I didn't get my menu posted in time. Master Three becomes Master Four on Thursday, so that's why we are having the dreaded McDs. The Broccoli "Pie" is actually a type of quiche with a pastry base, another Cooks Club Challenge recipe. Sorry it's such a lazy week, but I'm 34 weeks now, so you're going to get a lot more simple meals coming up, especially now we have 2 months to move out (!) and will be doing more trips down to Geelong to look at houses.

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Beef Olives

All my best recipes come from my mother. Here's another one from the collection.

Beef Olives
Thinly sliced topside beef
bacon pieces
sweet/sour cucumber
salt & pepper

Cut onion, bacon pieces and cucumber very very fine. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the beef, then put the onions, bacon and cucumber onto the beef slices. Roll them up and secure them with toothpicks. Fry them in a frypan with oil or butter until golden brown. Add water and simmer for about 1 hour or until well cooked.

An attempt at a close up of the spiral inside - sorry about my retarded flash mucking that up.

I served with steamed veg, mashed potatoes and a seriously great gravy made from the leftover pan juices. Master Three was dubious, but once I called it spiral steak instead of Beef Olives, he ate the lot. It was a little fussy, but totally worth it just for that delicious gravy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I've been meaning to make pizzas or calzones from scratch for ages, you may have even seen them pop up on the menu plan from time to time. But I never seemed to have bread flour, or the weather was too cold for rising, and I was altogether too lazy. But then pizza was put up for this fortnight's Cook's Club Challenge. Not only that, but the other two challenges were things our household were unlikely to eat. So I felt obliged to finally do this.

Luckily for me, one of the other members of that forum had a new computer arrive on the day she was due to make her pizzas, and having told her family that's what they were getting for dinner, she had to deliver, even though she was running out of time due to messing about with... I mean, setting up, the new computer. So she made her stand-by bread machine pizza dough, and helpfully posted the recipe.

Pizza Dough
3 cups bread mix
1 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp yeast

This of course, was just what I needed. So I whipped that in my bread machine, dough setting, and an hour and a half later, had a lovely tin full of dough. I split it into five sections (later combining two to make DP's, since the housemate decided he didn't want dinner after all), rolled them out into circles, and got to work. The children and I had our standard, vegetarian with bacon. To make this I just spread some tomato paste over half the circle, sprinkled it with rosemary, bacon pieces, chopped mushrooms and capsicum, and some drained pineapple chunks. Topped the lot with grated cheese, then I wet a 1cm border (which I'd left clear) and folded the dough circle in half. I cooked them for about 20 minutes at 200°C and this is what we got:

Master Three's

Miss Two's

DP had his standard pizza topping of tomato base, cheese and pepperoni. All in all, not a bad days work. I've finally got a recipe we like for homemade pizzas, and when I was pounding out my circles, Master Three wanted to help... so I have another kitchen activity we can all do together, and I'm sure I can get him to top his own pizza too! He absolutely adores cooking "real" foods, like when they cooked the quiche for dinner, so this could become quite the family favourite. I didn't cost this out, so I'm not sure how it compares to the $5.95 per pizza we normally spend for myself and the children, or the $9.95 for DP's stuffed crust, but I'm sure the meal cost less than $30, which is the average we spend on a pizza meal once you factor in delivery and garlic bread and a drink.

Ah well, the meal was enjoyed, we were all full (to full for jelly for dessert even!) and I've finally got this meal crossed off my menu plan, and not transferred to the "you need to make this before the ingredients go off" list. Not that I have such a list. I have a place where unused ingredients for the fortnight go - it's called pasta sauce. I do however, have a list I consult when writing my menu plans for the upcoming fortnight, and that has sections for our favourite meals, new meals I've tried and we liked wnough to make again, and meals I'd like to try out. Calzones is one I can transfer from the "try" side, to the "make agains" side, and that's something at least.

Kids Cooking Thursday: Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Pkt Marie biscuits (or other sweet plain biscuits)
1 cup Dessicated Coconut + extra for coating
1 1/2 Tbsp Cocoa

Crush biscuits finely.
In a bowl add crushed biscuits, cocoa and coconut. Mix well.
Add condensed milk. Mix.
Roll mixture into balls and roll in extra coconut.
Put in fridge to set.

Miss Two and Master Three had a ball making these. Not quite literally, since they haven't gotten the hang of rolling balls in the palms yet - Miss Two was either making logs or just squashing them into patties, but Master Three tried, he just kept using his fingertips instead of his palms. I got confused when measuring out the ingredients because I'd just used my tbsp measure for something else, so used my tsp measure instead. Include my dodgy maths skills, being 33 weeks PG, and having two toddlers yell at me from the kitchen door wanting to start cooking, and somehow I ended up with 3 tbsp of cocoa instead. That could have been quite disasterous if we were using strong, dark, dutch cocoa, but luckily we were all out of that, and using Cadbury instead. So instead of bitter truffles, we've got very chocolate-y truffles. It was all I could do to get Miss Two to even try to make balls, and not just eat the mixture. Can't say I blame her though - I "cleaned" my palms off once we were done, and it was tasty.

Makes 47 of varying sizes. Probably more if no one eats the mix as they go along.

This is going to be one of the activities for Master Three's birthday "cooking" party. So we had to test the recipe, right? I'm thinking for 9 kids, I'd probably make a double batch. Then they could have a few to take home too. If the adults at the party don't eat them all first!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Individual Beef Wellingtons

Recipe here.

I didn't use the pate listed in the recipe, but it tasted great all the same. Served with steamed carrots, potatoes, and just crisp broccoli. I also made some onion gravy, but the photo I took that had gravy in it didn't look as nice ;) But look! I even did the fiddly bits! (ie, there's a pastry leaf on top of the wellington)

Because I had an extra sheet of puff pastry thawed, I whipped up a quick dessert too. Sliced the sheet into 5 strips, sprinkled the lot with brown sugar (but should have used honey as well, or at least a lot more sugar), and then scattered frozen raspberries and blueberries on top. Then I rolled each strip up like a swiss roll, sealing the edges shut.

Two strips left, before rolling. Please excuse the glare from the flash - that blue plastic stuff is deceptively shiny

Like I said, they could have used more sweetness, especially where the raspberries were, but they must have been pretty good, because they were snaffled up before I could get a 'cooked' photo, and nobody complained!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


To be more precise, it was Fusilli with Creamy tomato, mushroom and pinenut sauce, served with baby spinach that had been panfried with bacon and onion.

As complicated as all that sounds, it wasn't. The sauce was a Leggo's stir through sauce, thinned out with a bit of pasta water, and a healthy (or not so healthy, as the case may be) dollop of cream. Which was added to the pan after I fried some onion and bacon until golden and crispy respectively, then I added the baby spinach.

The kids love baby spinach. Even though Master Three insisted on calling it bok choy, and wanted to know where 'the rest of it' (the white stem part) was. Ah well, he ate the whole plate full without any prompting, threats of withheld dessert or anything. That happened with the Lemon Honey Chicken we had too... which had bok choy in it. Perhaps I should try serving more leafy green, instead of green beans or peas. Miss Two is wild about broccoli, and that's coming up a lot in the next two weeks, because I've been wanting it, but Master Three can be hit and miss with that.

Apart from bok choy and spinach, does anyone know of other green leafy vegetables? Preferably autumn or winter foods, since it's starting to get cold here, and I am trying to eat more local food, to increase shelf life, vitamin levels, and reduce the carbon footprint. That, and in season food tends to be a bit cheaper. Leave a comment, let me know!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chicken Schnitzels, with beans, mushrooms, and DP's favourite double-cooked potatoes with bacon and onion

Fairly simple meal tonight. Just a chicken schnitzel, served with green beans, sauteed mushrooms, potatoes and gravy. What made it stand out though, was that I made DP's favourite side dish, double cooked potatoes. First I boiled them (normally I microwave steam them, but the microwave was in use). Then I fried them with finely chopped bacon and onion. Delicious!

And now I'm going to snuggle up with DP on the couch with some dark chocolate, and watch GNW, even though he hates Paul McDermott... he's so sweet when he does stuff like that for me!

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Chicken schnitzels with beans, mushrooms, and bacon & onion double cooked potatoes
Tuesday Fusilli with creamy spinach sauce
Wednesday Beef Wellingtons with broccoli, carrots, spuds & onion gravy
Thursday Calzones
Friday Chicken burgers
Saturday Chow mein
Sunday Cheese and Chive bread

I've been meaning to make Calzones, or some type of homemade pizza for a while, and keep getting lazy or scared off by the whole making of dough by hand thing, but it's for Cooks Club Challenge, so now I have to make it.

On Sunday my niece is having her 18th birthday party, but as that goes from 3pm till 6pm, I'm not sure if food is provided, and if it's going to be real food or just afternoon tea (even though the party ends at dinner time). We'll either eat there, or we'll have a light dinner of toasted Cheese and Chive bread with salad.

As usual check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of other menu plan blog posts.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Basil & Cheese sausage rolls

Sausage Rolls
2kg sausage mince or 50-50 mince meat
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 large onions
4 celery sticks
2 cooking apples
1 large potato (opt.)
1 tbsp mixed herbs
dash pepper
dash garlic salt
1kg pkt puff pastry sheets (6 or 7 sheet pkt)

Place onions, celery, apples and potato in a food processor and mince very fine.
Place in a large bowl with the sausage mince, add breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly.
Cut pastry sheets in half and roll out a bit thinner, place sausage mince on pastry.
Wet it one side and roll into a large sausage. Cut into required lengths and bake in 220c oven for 35min.

That's the basic recipe. I've made these before, so I felt justified in tinkering a little. Not that they aren't very nice on their own mind you. But, you know me. I left out the optional potato, because we didn't have any, and used about 2, maybe 2 1/2 tbsps of chopped basil from a tube, to use it up. I skipped the mixed herbs. Then after mincing the vegetables, I realised I didn't have any breadcrumbs, so I made some with two slices of the bread I baked this morning. Fresh bread isn't ideal for breadcrumbs, but it seems to have worked ok. I also added a cup of grated cheese to the food processor while I was chopping the breadcrumbs, just for a change (and because it was in the fridge). A word of warning too - unless you roll the pastry enough (which is hard if the sheets are still too frozen, and harder if they've thawed to soggy stage) you'll need more than 6 sheets for this recipe. I used 8.

I baked my first trayful for the full 35 minutes, but I thought they were a bit dark, so the next lot came out after 23 minutes, and DP said they were too light. So the next lot I cooked for 28 minutes, and they were just right. This made 72 of varying sizes. We only ate 16 between the four of us for dinner, so the rest are going into the freezer for snack type foods and emergency dinners.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Meat on sticks...

You might call them Honey Soy Chicken Kebobs, but in our house, it's meat on sticks. A favourite I really have to serve around once a fortnight, whether with rice or noodles, or I get in trouble from Master Three. The butcher marinated them, I just threw them under the griller. Oh, and I put rice in a pot with water and seasonings. Yup, I went to real effort with tonight's dinner.

Yes I know it's Thursday, but the kids didn't cook today. I hit the 32 week mark today, and haven't been sleeping well lately, so I just didn't have the energy. We were going to make this for the MasterBaker's Easter challenge, but like I said - no energy, and the kids are just as happy eating the eggs plain to tell you the truth. It's sad, because we really don't eat a lot of homebaked goods in this house, even though the kids love cooking them. I hear that if we move back to the town where all my family live, then my nephew is going to be coming around to experiment cook with me, and apparently his family are happy to eat the food, they just don't give feedback. Ah well, at least it won't go to waste then!

Excuse the poor photo quality tonight... I'd already started eating so couldn't be bothered setting things up just perfect. Plus, that also meant it was on the dining table instead of in the kitchen where the light quality is infinately better.

And now I'm off to go pack my labour bag. I've got 6 things packed in it so far. That's taken me 6 hours (which includes cooking/eating dinner time, and putting kids to bed). Now I have to pack a bag with baby stuff, and a bag of things for me for my actual stay. Sure, I could fit the lot into one bag, but it's easier not to have to dig through towels to get to my energy snacks or water, and likewise with baby gear, or clothes later on. Plus, this way I get to write 3 lists instead of one. I like writing lists. It's the only virgoan thing about me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cook's Club Challenge - Lasagna

My last challenge food for this fortnight is... lasagna! Here is the recipe pcmitcho posted for us to try:

Oil and butter (enough to cover the base of the pan you are using)
1 med to large carrot diced
1 med to large onion diced
Couple of sticks of celery diced
500gms beef mince
2 to 3 anchovy fillets (don’t mention these to anyone)
½ a 700gm bottle of cooking sauce (whatever flavour....I use Leggo’s)
Couple of tablespoons each of chopped fresh parsley and sweet basil
Fresh lasagne sheets
50/50 mix of grated whatever cheese you have and parmesan cheese (grate enough to generously cover the top of the dish to your liking)

Bechamel Sauce
60gms butter
1/3 cup plain flour
2 ¼ cups milk
½ teaspoon nutmeg (I grate it fresh)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180°c
Heat the pan and melt the butter and oil. Add the vege’s and cook until softened. Add the mince in batches and brown breaking up the lumps. Sneak in the anchovies and break up. They will dissolve.
Mix in the cooking sauce, herbs and season to your liking. Cook simmering for about 20 to 30 minutes and then set aside off the heat.
To make the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. I use a whisk from here on. Return to the heat and bring to the boil stirring constantly until it is thick enough that when you stir it you can see the bottom of the pan. (I can’t explain it any better than that. I hope you know what I mean.) Season well with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Brush a dish with oil and spread a thin layer of the meat mix, then a thin layer of sauce and then cover with the lasagne sheets. Repeat this a couple of times. Continue the layers finishing with lasagne sheets topped only with sauce and the cheese.
I use a glass dish which is about 27 x 18cm and about 40cm deep and I get 3 layers of meat.
Bake for about 35 – 40mins or until golden brown on top.


I'd never made lasagna before, so I couldn't say how much nicer it is with fresh sheets. I didn't use the anchovies, because we don't have any in the house, since no one eats them. I was willing to give it a try, but I couldn't see the point in having the leftovers hang around until I clean out the fridge next. I also used basil from a tube, the pre-chopped kind, because I couldn't find any fresh (not suprising at this time of year) but I didn't bother with the parsley, unless you count the bits from the butcher display that got stuck in the mince.

I served this with store bought garlic bread, which I jazzed up with the leftover shaved parmesan. The kids liked this, but didn't seem to eat much of it. All the grownups in the house agreed that regardless of what the recipe said, and the packet instructions said, the pasta should have been soaked. Or else I shouldn't have put lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan to try and make it easier to serve. Now I think maybe my sauce could have had a touch more moisture, and let the whole thing cook for longer, even though I cooked it for over 40mins as is. I got two layers of meat, in a large square tin.

My Monthly Reads - March

Ashling - Isobelle Carmody
The Keeping Place - Isobelle Carmody
The Stone Key - Isobelle Carmody
Asterix and the Golden Sickle - Rene Goscinny
Frost Bite - Susan Austin
The Perfect Scoop - David Lebowitz
Danny the Champion of the world - Roald Dahl
The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook - Kimberly Mathai
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore
Cupcakes Galore - Gail Wagman

I didn't get many books read this month. I've been busy getting Master Three's birthday party ready, and getting baby things ready (8 1/2 weeks to go - eek!) an getting ready for a holiday we are going on with DPs parents in two weeks. I did manage two off the 1001 list, bringing me up to 35 - not a great total, but slowly chipping away at it. Maybe I should have a month where I read nothing but 1001 books and the odd cookbook here and there. We're going on holidays in a few weeks, so if I can get some 1001 books from the library, I'll bring them with me, and there won't be as many distractions.