Friday, February 29, 2008

Danny's Tuna Casserole

A while back I asked my family for their favourite recipes, to put together a recipe folder for my nephew who likes to cook. What follows is verbatim what I got in an email from my brother's fioncee.

Danny's Tuna Casserole
1 pack of plain chips (crushed)
1 tin tuna in brine (drained)
1 can creamed corn
1 can Tomato soup
Good handful of rice
Good dash of your condiment of choice (if you so desire i.e. Chilli sauce etc etc)

Mix thoroughly, put into casserole dish and into oven till browning crisply on top and hot all way through (typically 30 min pending on depth of dish)

Given those somewhat dubious instructions (no oven temp, no packet/tin sizes), this is what we ended up with. (Oh, I put the oven on 180°C, but it could have been a little higher I think. Try 190°C, and keep an eye on it)

It tastes as appetizing as it looks.

I think it could have standed having only a 1/4 of the sugar in it that it did, needed salt too. Miss Two had one bite, but Master Three was eventually persuaded to eat his. I've had something very similar to this with mushroom soup instead of tomato, and without the creamed corn. That was tasty. This is not one I'll be making again.

DP (who doesn't eat fish) really enjoyed his steak sandwich though.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kids Cooking Thursday: Toblerone Muffins

Mmmmm... muffins

The muffin itself was a bit bland. Needed more cocoa or sugar, or just a lot more chopped Toblerone. Perhaps if I'd chopped it more finely, then used another bar chopped chunky. The chunky bits on top when gooey, then chewy as they cooled down. Very tasty.

It could be from the melted chocolate, but this was the first muffin I've (we've) made that wasn't too dry for my taste. Even if the mix was so stiff I had to blob the mix in the cases instead of pour it. Hence the ugly shapes.

But they were very yummy. We all had two for afternoon tea.

Anyone got any suggestions for Master Three and Miss Two to cook next week?

Oh, and by the way, I'd just like to apologise for the crappy, crappy photos I take. All I have is the dodgy camera on my phone, because that's the only one we can get the photos off. We have an old Kodak digital that takes nice photos, but it doesn't have a usb connecting cable, and DP reinstalled his OS, and now can't get the drivers for it anymore. So until I win the lottery, or someone gives me a brand new camera that either connects via usb or takes SD or MMC cards, you're stuck with crummy phone photos. Sorry. Here's a crummy photo of Miss Two to make up for it.

Isn't she adorable?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not much to say...

We had chicken kebobs. The butcher made them. I boiled some rice. It was tasty, but nothing I'd be bothered to take photos of, or write out a recipe for. So to distract you from another lazy dinner night lack of posting... LOOK! A distraction!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday chicken parmas with chips
Tuesday meat on sticks with rice
Wednesday Steak, spuds & veg with onion gravy
Thursday Microwave mushroom risotto& chicken (with bacon & onion potatoes for DP)
Friday Danny's Tuna Casserole
Saturday Cheesy ham and mac bake
Sunday Egg & Ham jaffles

Since DP shelled out for Pizza on Thursday, the propsed chicken kebobs with rice has been switched to our regular pizza/take-away night. (Day between getting paid and doing shopping). I have a bit of an easy week this week. Only trying out 3 1/2 new recipes. Well, it's really 4, but DP doesn't eat rice, so I have to make him something else on Thursday. Got something really special planned for Kids Cooking Thursday this week too... you'll have to wait and see though!

Oh yeah, and I forgot to take photos of the pizza scrolls I made last night, but they were yummy, even if the dough did taste like scones. I don't like scones myself, but everyone else apparently does, so that recipe is a keeper again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pasta with cheese and chive bread

I'll be the first person to admit that I can be lazy. Ok, that I am lazy. But sometimes I can be lazy in particularly obtuse ways. Take this recipe for cheese and chive bread for instance.

It calls for the butter to be rubbed in to the flour using a food processor. Well, it doesn't say 'rubbed in' precisely, but I knew that's what they were talking about from back in my days of Tech Foods in high school. In a food processor, this would have taken all of five minutes right? Perfect for a lazy person. But here's the thing. I quite willingly spent about 20 minutes using the old fashioned bowl and wooden spoon method, not because I'm a tradionalist, or because we don't have a food processor in the house - we do, our housemate has a great one he never uses. No, it's because I was too lazy to a) clear a space on the bench for the thing, and b) put it all together, but mostly c) then have to wash all the itty bitty parts, instead of using a spoon and bowl I'd be getting dirty later in the recipe anyway. Yeah, it takes effort to be this slack.

Other than that, I followed the recipe pretty much spot on. While it was baking, I threw some leftover chopped chives in a pan with some chopped Australian garlic (the chinese lady at the fruit and veg shop said it was a lot stronger than normal garlic you get, and she's right... perfect for us, as now I only need two cloves instead of four) and some sliced green parts of leek, grabbed from a bag I'm saving for stock for next week's soup. Fried it up with some mince, added a tin of diced tomatoes, and half a jar of pasta sauce, and left that to simmer over low heat for about half an hour. Which was just long enough for me to boil up some water for pasta and do half the dishes. And for once, everything was ready together.

If I'd had had any leftovers of the sauce or bread (or the pasta with sauce mixed through for that matter) I could have frozen it, but the whole lot got demolished. I think I better make two loaves of that bread next time, as DP ate half the loaf by himself! The kids ate about half their slice each, though they both said it was yummy. But then Miss Two only had about three bites of her pasta, which she normally likes, and Master Three only finished his pasta for the promise of fruit salad (ok, tinned, I'll admit it, but what else can you do with a tin of fruit salad?)

The bread wasvery heavy, so maybe that was it. But it didn't feel it till you'd eaten it... it was just so light and crumbly, not at all dense. All in all, not a bad effort for a lazy, unmotivated Saturday.

Friday, February 22, 2008


It's cold and raining. We had fish and chips for dinner, and I'm taking the night off to watch MacGyver.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kids Cooking Thursday: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every Thursday is cooking day for the kids in our house. We made the best biscuits today. They are a bit crumbly, and a touch lacking in substance, but there is no eggs in it, so kids (and pregnant women *grinz*) can eat the dough raw. We got the recipe off the back of the chocolate chip packet and it was so incredibly easy, I have to share. I'd link to the webpage at the bottom of the recipe, and point you to the recipe there, but the page is broken. The front page is there, but not a single link or search works. So I'll type it out for you here.

Yummy (egg free) choc chip cookies
Makes 30

225g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (I think we ended up with more like 1/3 cup though)
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder (or of course, you can do what we did, and just use 2 cups S/R flour)
3/4 cup milk choc chips (we used a whole cup)

Preheat the oven to 190°C (Our is fan forced, and our first batch scorched a little, so I turned it down to 180°C for the rest of the biscuits... adjust as needed for your own oven).
Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl (larger bowl for younger kids... unless you like wearing flour!). Beat in sweetened condensed milk. Cream until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift flour and baking powder. Stir into butter mixture with choc chips (We did this as two seperate steps, as it was getting heavy for Miss Two to stir).
Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Place on a lined oven tray. (Or a slightly greased non-stick tray)
Press biscuits down to flatten. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

These do spread a bit, and apparently the 'squooshing' step is almost as fun as 'mixing with a wooden spoon' (a song off one of the Fairies dvds we've borrowed from the library).

It makes a very crumbly biscuit, no soft and chewy cake like things here. Certainly don't give them to the kids to eat if you are paranoid about crumbs and mess. But just out of the oven, and cooled down only enough to be able to pick them up they are soft, if still crumbly, and very, very more-ish. There's a faint hint of caramel, from the milk, but mostly they taste like butter, not suprising since that's the main ingredient. Could have used more choc chips, though we were pushing the limits the mixture could hold... but there's no such thing as too much chocolate. If I were to make again, I'd probably just tip in the whole bag, since I doubt we have more than 1/4 cup left in the packet. We only managed to get 25, so more chocolate might get us to the 30 point lol.

But, as you can see, the kids liked them...

I can has cookie?
"I can has cookie?" "I gots one!"

DP went and asked Master Three if he could have one, and was refused, until Daddy made it clear he wanted one off the cooling rack in the kitchen, and wasn't intending to steal one off Master Three's plate. Then he was allowed to get himself one.

Very tasty. And, DP has offered to buy pizza for dinner, so I don't have to do anymore cooking today. Feeling very accomplished. :D

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mum's Chow Mein

Tonight was good. The weather has finally eased off a bit, and I had dinner on the table early for a change. Master 3 ate all of his, and came back for seconds. Tonight was the first night in ages he's eaten all his dinner without complaint. Can't go wrong with two minute noodles I guess. And yes, I know they aren't highly nutritious, but it was just a filler anyway.

My mother's fabulous, but probably highly inauthentic Chow Mein
(give her a break... we're dutch)

I'll give you the recipe as my mother told me, then I'll tell you how I do it ;)

750g mince
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cabbage, shredded
3 tbs rice
1 carrot, grated
2 sticks celery, sliced finely
250g green beans, sliced (I use presliced frozen beans, unthawed)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 pkt chicken noodle soup
1 1/2 cups hot water

Brown the onion in a large pan with a little butter, then add the mince. When the mince is no longer pink, add all the other ingredients except the soup mix and the water. Mix the soup and water, and stir into the frypan. Cover and cook for 45 mins over low heat, stirring often.

Of course, I am almost incapable of sticking to the exact letter of a recipe, so we make it a little different, but not really any different than Mum has done herself on occasion.

For starters, 750g mince? Not likely. I use around 400g for the four of us, mainly because that what size blocks I freeze. 500g for a standard family would be about right. And I never use 1/2 a cabbage. That is a *lot* of cabbage. I use a 1/4 cabbage, and it still is plenty. The last change to the ingredients we make is to use 2 packs of two minute noodles instead of the rice, because my DP can't eat rice.

(See over stuffed pan size?)

I cook it much the same as Mum, although I have refined the process a little due to not having a frypan the size of hers. After browning the mince slightly, I add the curry powder (or else add it to the hot water and soup later). Then I add the cabbage in small batches, letting it sweat down before adding the next, otherwise my pan would overflow from the start. Then I add the noodles, trying to put them as close to the bottom of the pan as possible. Then everything else gets tipped in, mixed around, and then noodles pushed to the bottom again. All this is done on high heat. Then I tip in the soup/water/curry powder (if not already in) and bring that to a boil before turning down to a simmer. I don't have a pan, so I might add more water occasionally. I don't simmer for 45 mins either... just till the cabbage is soggy, and the beans are cooked. That's the great thing about using noodles instead of rice... they cook in two minutes!

I cooked up a batch for dinner, while that was simmering I sliced all the vegies for a second batch, and after dinner made a huge big bag to go into the freezer. Yes, this freezes well, just tip into a large pan to reheat, or freeze it in microwave proof containers, and reheat straight from the freezer.

Freezable goodness!

Coming up tomorrow, Kids Cooking Thursday (we're making a biscuit recipe off the back of the choc chip packet)

This has been an entry for my very first blog event Monthly Mingle - One-Dish Dinners

***EDIT*** Round up is here

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chicken & Vegetable Pies

Ok, so a 34°C day wasn't the best scenario to make pies. Not reading the recipe all the way through properly since having seen it the first time wasn't a bright idea either. Consquently, I had no chicken stock or tarragon, and no wine (not that I'd had used that anyway though).

And I only started 45 mins before dinner was due. Needless to say, dinner was late. By almost over an hour. But it was worth the wait. and since we only ate half the pies, I get to freeze some before I have to melt in the kitchen again.

It really wasn't that hard though. I just should have either made the filling last night, or not started preheating the oven till the filling was done. Our oven is fanforced, so that meant the entire time I was frying and stirring, I had 200°C air blasting at the top of my legs - like I wasn't hot enough!

On the plus side, my frozen puff pastry defrosted without a problem. On the minus side, it got far too hot by the time I needed it, and I had to very carefully coax it into pies, without it falling apart and stretching to nothing.

But, miracle of miracles, the oven forgave me all this, and somehow managed to produce some lovely pies. The overstretched, misshapen blobs I placed in, came out as lovely, puffed, flaky, rustic looking pies. Of course, everyone was starving by the time they were done, but since they were so piping hot, we still had time to admire them a bit before eating.

Finished off with a bowlful of homemade strawberry and passionfruit ice creams, I think for once my family got a great meal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week's meals, complete with links when applicable.

Monday Mini Meatloaves, mashed potatoes
Tuesday Chicken & vegetable pies
Wednesday Chow Mein
Thursday Chicken kebobs with rice
Friday Fish and Chips
Saturday Pasta with toasted Cheese & Chive bread
Sunday Ham, pineapple & cheese scrolls

We had the mini meatloaves tonight. I forgot to take a photo, but I must say I was unimpressed. DP doesn't like meatloaf, but I thought we'd give it a try anyway, since it was so different from his mother's recipe. Turns out, he just doesn't like meatloaf. But Miss Two and Master Three weren't all that enthused either. So many of the reviews lauded this recipe as a sneaky way to get the kids to eat their vegetables... I would have done better to serve carrot and zucchini in recognisable forms, as they are two of the favourite vegetables in the house. Aside from that, thesse were bland, and crusty/crunchy dry outside, while being rather too moist in the middle, falling apart at the drop of a hat. A pity I was trying to be smart and made a double batch, now we have a whole meal's worth in the freezer. Still, better than having to resort to toast in extreme circumstnces I guess. At least the mashed potatoes went down with no hassles.