Thursday, July 31, 2008

Venetian Beef

Tonight's dinner was the easiest slow cooker recipe I've tried yet. I got it from Tasty Crockpot Recipes and the only 'effort' (if you can call it that) was chopping up the beef.

It made the house smell fantastic, and I'v got enough to make a small pie leftover... going to have break out the pie maker that we got left along with the furniture at our last house! Next time I think I'd use a little less oregano, or I'd make a 'double' batch by adding 1/2kg more of meat, and an extra tin of tomatoes. Still, was great as is too.

Kids Cooking Thursday: 'Eat Me' Cookies

Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Cookies

I saw this recipe over at Apples and Butter and thought it looked so easy, it would be a good recipe to use to start up Kids Cooking Thursday again. I underestimated the stiffness of peanut butter dough, but they had fun eating the chocolate chips at least. Once these came out of the oven, I realised it hadn't said anywhere in the recipe to flatten the balls, and that almost a cup of peanut butter just won't cut it with these cookies. They turned out very crumbly and tasting of over-browned brown sugar, but that hasn't stopped me from eating 3 out of the 12 already. The choc chip bits are sort of chewy though... it's like a salt crust baked choc chip cluster, only instead of a salt crust, it's a sugar crust. Very nice, very rich, and very moreish, but I don't think we'll be making these again, it's really no good for my teeth!

Indigo over at Happy Love Strawberry is turning 18 soon, and asked for themed food for her (Alice in) Wonderland party. I was thinking about making little mushrooms out of meringues, complete with gummy caterpillers, but we don't eat meringue that often, and it's a lot of effort to go to when you aren't going to the actual party ;) But the first thing that popped into my head when I found this recipe was to make "Eat Me" cookies using the chocolate chips. I actually only made one like that, the rest I stabbed in with a tip of a knife, but the writing didn't show up too well once they cooked.

Close up of chips

***View the Round Up for more crazy recipes.***

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cheese, Capsicum & Broccoli Bake

Cheese, Capsicum & Broccoli Bake

300g macaroni
2 heads broccoli, broken (or chopped) into small florets
250g cottage cheese
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g char-grilled capsicum slices, drained
grated tasty cheese

Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan forced).
Cook pasta until slightly firm, (about 7 minutes) then add the broccoli and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
Mix together all the other ingredients except the grated cheese.
Pour sauce into cooked, drained pasta, and place in a casserole dish. Cover with cheese.
Cook for 20-25 minutes or until cheese has melted and gone golden.

(Adapted from a low-fat recipe in the latest (August) issue of Recipes+)

This was a no brainer. Really simple to make, fairly cheap (except the capsicum) and very filling. The kids loved it, but then, I think I could almost serve dog food with broccoli and they'd eat it. Well, they'd pick the broccoli out and eat that most likely. So ok, the kids liked this for more than the broccoli. But it's hard to go wrong with a cheesy pasta dish really. The original recipe, apart from using all low-fat alternatives, called for 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, but I didn't have any so I substituted the tarragon instead. I also used garlic salt instead of fresh garlic, simply because I was running so late, and I don't have a crusher.

See Miss Two attempting to steal mine while I took the photo?

So there you have it... by popular demand, the most requested recipe on my blog ever!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Calzones
Tuesday Chow Mein
Wednesday Cheese, Capsicum & Broccoli bake
Thursday Venetian Beef (slow cooker)
Friday Dutch Pea soup with h/made rolls
Saturday Homemade sausage rolls
Sunday Crumpets

We've been so busy lately, meals keep getting switched around and put off... thank goodness for freezers and Tupperware! I'm trying to be more organised though. Tonight we are having the Calzones I didn't make last night because Miss Two had gastro. It's most likely that we are going to DP's parents place for lunch on Sunday, so it's a light tea for that night, as no one is hungry much after the 1 1/2 hour drive home again.

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pizza Scrolls


Here's another tried and true recipe I've done before, but this time I thought I'd try something different. Somewhere in the multitude of reviews on the recipe at, someone mentioned they'd made this with puff pastry instead of using the scone-like dough in the recipe. This idea appealed to me, as I liked the concept of these rolls, but not the actual dough, although DP quite likes them. Also made them a lot quicker to make too.

Master Four polished off his, and half his sister's (she made up for it by stealing half his soup) and asked for more. Normally he'd nibble at one and then leave the rest, so perhaps this is a better way of doing things. Next time I'm going to try using bread dough made in the bread maker, either cooking scrolls in the oven, or squishing them together in the bread maker's pan and cooking as a pizza bread loaf - that might be interesting! I'll be sure to post it either way, and keep you all up to date with the best way to Pizza Scroll!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Easy Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Mmm... soup!

This was incredibly simple to make, but tasted so authentic, even though I skipped out the ginger.
This was a recipe, and took a total of about ten minutes to cook! There was enough leftover for me to freeze so all of us could have another bowl some other night. I"m leaning towards the 8th, in honour of the games - tacky huh?

Miss Two's appropriately themed bowl

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chicken & Vegetable PIes

I've made these before, several times actually, but this time they turned out awesome. Partly because the oven here worked great for a change and gave a great colour and crispness to the crust, but mostly because I finally got around to buying some Tarragon. Can I just say, if you have been like me and just skipped it because you had none, go buy some! It really makes this dish, and I'm sure I'll be finding many othe dishes to sneak this great herb into. Seriously, it makes this dish!

Look at how golden these are!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hawaiian Casserole

We have a doctor's appointment in Melbourne this afternoon, so I got in early with this slow cooker recipe from Best Recipes. I had dinner cooking, and my washing being hung out, and for a brief moment I fet like a lady of leisure... until Master 6-Week-Old wanted a feed, and the older two decided they wanted lunch as well, and the house went from peaceful and super organised to noisy and running behind in three seconds flat.

Dinner cooking

DP hanging out the washing

***EDIT*** But all that effort was worth it when we got home. Wasn't particularly sweet, just nice, even stone cold - which is how I ate mine an hour after everyone else, once I'd fed the baby! I even had enough leftover to be able to make into a little pie tomorrow with spare pastry.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bolognese ala SilverMoon

I went totally overboard with quantities, both with sauce (which I sort of planned, so I could freeze some) and the pasta itself. I ended up with enough pasta and sauce for tonight's meal and one full meal for all four of us to freeze, plus enough sauce to freeze for another meal on top of that.

Sauce level after serving dinner

Sauce level after putting aside leftover fettucine

Dinner is served!

Master Four gives it the Chin Seal of Approval

Miss Two wonders why her fingers are orange

Sauce for freezing

I don't know how I ended up with quite so much sauce, enough for three meals, when all I did was double my standard recipe

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Bolognese ala SilverMoon
Tuesday Hawaiian Casserole (slow cooker)
Wednesday Chicken & Vegetable Pies
Thursday Chow Mein
Friday Easy Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup (with h/made rolls)
Saturday Pizza Scrolls
Sunday Calzones

We have a follow up check for Brandon at the RMCH on Tuesday, and it will be nice to have a real meal after that for a change. Even when we were living in Melbourne, I couldn't cook after going there, because we'd never get home until around 5:30pm. This will probably extend to 6pm with the extra travelling, but with the slow cooker on low, I won't have to resort to McDonalds at least.

We'll have to see how we go on Thursday, whether I actually get the Chow Mein made, as I will be out in the morning and have no idea how long it will take to get home on public transport. This will be going for 6 weeks, so I rather suspect Thursdays will become Slow Cooker night, much like Friday Soup night, and seems to be becoming Wednesday Chicken night lol. I didn't consciously arrange Wednesdays like by the way, it just sort of happened.

Sunday's Calzones is a carry over from Saturday just been, as we had to go shopping and I forgot to start the dough before we left.

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beef Stew with Bacon, Onion, and Sweet potatoes

Recipe here.

The best thing of course, about a slow cooked meal, is the way the house smells of yummy food smells all day.

I added about a cup of chicken stock to the beef stock, because my slow cooker is a 6L one, so the liquid level always needs adjusting, but other than that I followed the recipe.

I had to feed Master 6-Week-Old so I didn't get a photo before everyone demolished it, but it tasted nice (even stone cold an hour later, when I got to eat!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sugar High Friday: Straw/Blue Berry Turnovers

Straw/Blue Berry Turnovers (served with double choc ice cream)

I didn't follow a recipe for this, just made it up as I went along, so some of the measurements aren't exact. You'll need two thawed sheets of puff pastry. Well, I wanted 8 pastries, to serve 4 people, but you can adjust this as needed. Slice the pastry into square quarters, but leave on the blue plastic for easier handling.

I found it easier to score a line about 1cm in from the edge, all the way around the whole sheet, to show where my 'seam allowance' (to borrow a sewing phrase) was, and to lightly score a line down the diagonal centre of each quarter piece, to show the fold line. That way I had a neat triangle shown for where the filling went, making the next step heaps easier.

Get some Strawberry Philly with Fruit, and with a knife or the back of a spoon, smear a liberal layer inside the triangle area. Don't go into the 'seam allowance' or the pastry won't seal properly and you'll get a mess during baking. Then top generously with frozen blueberries. Fresh if you can get them I guess, but I'm not paying $7 for a 200g punnet.

Take one corner of the pastry square and fold it over, creating a triangle, and seal the edges with a fork. Bake at 180°C for around 15mins or until golden. Be thankful you don't have to sit in front of the oven holding the gas knob for the whole time to keep your oven lit like I had to tonight. Then take out, and serve hot with ice cream. Chocolate works well, or you could use a berry flavour, to really get that berry overload happening for ya.

Ready for baking

This has been an entry for Sugar High Friday #45: Berries! hosted this month by Susan at Food Blogga.

Sugar High Fridays was dreamed up by Jennifer at The Domestic Goddess

***Round up is here***

Chunky Potato, Corn & Bacon Soup

Chunky Potato, Corn & Bacon Soup

I didn't change anything from the recipe, except I didn't add the parsley at the end.
DP said he liked it, when questioned, and Miss Two ate most of hers (left quite a few piece of potato in the bowl though). Master Four had to be bribed with a combination of the mention of dessert, and a counting of mouthfuls to earn said dessert to get him to eat his, but it didn't seem like he didn't like it, just that he was feeling stubborn and he knows it pushes my buttons if he doesn't eat any dinner. Mostly I think it was he just wanted to leave the table to go back to the Diego game I rented from the video shop for him (DP's brother just gave us his old PS2). Needless to say, there was no more playing of games after dinner was served, even after he finished his dessert - by then it was past bed time. My oven is evil and wouldn't stay lit, severely lengthening the amount of time it took to cook the rolls.

Eventually they were cooked...

Dessert is coming up in a seperate post, for means of simplicity.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Another recipe from a forum, this time from BellyBelly, a pregnancy and gentle parenting website I used to visit a lot when pg with Master Four. This was posted by Lucy.

Crock Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken

4 chicken breasts boneless and skinless
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 tablespoon cornflour
Spray cooking oil
1 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup white wine

~ Wash chicken and dry on paper towels.
~ Combine oregano, salt and pepper & cornflour in a small bowl. Sprinkle on the chicken and rub it into the chicken breasts
~ Fry the chicken breasts until browned with the spray cooking oil.
~ Transfer the browned chicken to the crockpot.
~ Combine the stock, lemon juice, wine, garlic and add to the crock pot.
~ Cover and cook on High for 3 hours or on Low for 6 hours.
~ Remove chicken onto plates to serve
~ Add cream to the remaining liquid and stir well and heat in a small pan to serve over the chicken

This was a collaborative effort between DP and myself. I made the sauce mix, and he made the rub and browned the chicken. I served this with rice, as we didn't get out to do the shopping today, but it would have been nice with something green alongside, perhaps broccoli or baby pak choy, though I tend to lean towards my initial thought of green beans. I will be making this again, because I want to try adding the cream at the end - I didn't buy any last night because it wasn't in the ingredient list. I guess that serves me right for not reading the steps thoroughly. I liked it regardless, as did DP and Master Four, but Miss Two wasn't so sure. I think it was a little too sour for her tastes, so next time I'll make sure I have cream. Very moist and tender chicken.

I really, really, really love my slow cooker!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Perfect Pasta

My first Cooks Club Challenge recipe for a while, but it seemed so easy I thought I could jump back in with this, no problems.

Here is the recipe as copied from the forum.

1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
340g rigatoni or penne
450g favourite sausages
30g bread
30g cheddar cheese

1. Set the oven. Peel the onion and chop finely. Peel the garlic and crush it or chop it finely. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
2. Cook the onion with garlic over a low heat until soft, then add the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree and stir well.
3. Let the pasta sauce simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Then season it with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
4. Boil some salted water in a saucepan. Add the pasta, cook it for about 12 minutes until just soft, then drain it in a colander.
5. Meanwhile, turn on the grill. Prick the sausages with a fork, then grill them on all sides for about 10-12 minutes until brown.
6. Remove the sausages from the grill, leave them until they are cool enough to handle, then cut them into chunky slices.
7. Grate the cheese for the topping. Grate the bread into breadcrumbs, or else make the breadcrumbs in a food processor.
8. Stir the cooked pasta and sliced sausages into the tomato sauce, then spoon the mixture into a baking dish.
9. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and grated cheese over the pasta. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the topping is crisp.

After going out for a very last minute shop, I wasn't very impressed with myself to come home and find what I thought were onions in the cupboard were actually lemons. So I had to skip the onion, but I replaced it with a slice of finely chopped slice of bacon. I used pre-made breadcrumbs, and pre-grated cheese, and the sausages I bought were Chicken, Cheese and Garlic ones from Safeway. Also, the tomato paste I used was one of those flavoured ones, with basil and oregano in it.

I was trying to save myself some washing up, so I used the fry pan instead of the grill to cook my sausages, but forgot to prick them, so all the filling oozed out all over the pan. In the end I gave up on chunky sausage slices and resigned myself to lumpy chicken mince pieces. Still tasted good though, even though the top of mine didn't go crispy, just sort of cheesy with breadcrumb-y bits.

It was nice enough, but I don't think we'd make this again. We are not a huge fan of sausages in this household, as almost all that you can buy are too fatty for DP and my tastes (the kids don't care) and DP won't eat kangaroo, so that cuts out the only truely non-fatty sausage type I know of. Still, it was very easy, and perhaps with a few modifications I might make it again, perhaps with leftover bbq chook or something.

On a lighter note, here is Master One-Month-Old:

OMG! I'm Cute!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday Pizza
Tuesday Perfect Pasta
Wednesday Lemon Garlic Chicken (slow cooker)
Thursday Chow Mein
Friday Chunky Potato, Corn & Bacon Soup (with h/made rolls)
Saturday Calzones
Sunday Beef Stew with Bacon, Onion & Sweet Potatoes

We still haven't finished unpacking, but at last our freezer (which bit the dust while we were moving) has been fixed, so I can start buying bulk food again, and cooking extras for those lazy nights. There will be a lot of slow cooker meals in the next few weeks, because I finally tried mine out and I'm in love! It's great for Winter, and with the little one still very little (3.1kg today!) and needing lots of attention, it's great to 'set and forget'.

I've been longing to get menu planning and bulk shopping again, because I am heartily sick of asking every night what everyone wants for dinner, and then having to go out and buy ingredients.

I'm cheating tonight because I'm behind in my menu planning, shopping and kitchen unpacking, plus I have to feed Master One-Month-Old, and it's almost dinner cooking time already.

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

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another quick note....

Just jumping on here between feeds to let you all know I haven't forgotten about you. Our freezer bit the dust during the move, so I've not been doing any meal planning, or much "real" cooking at all. We've had internet for ages, but I've not had the time to sit down much and play, what with around 5 years of my life in boxes still - some of which haven't been opened since I moved out of my ex-husband's place over 4 years ago. And both my boys were in hospital last week. Master Four spent 4 and a half days in with asthma again, and Master One-Month-Old spent 4 days in because he was having weight issues. So I was in hospital for almost a whole week - 6 days of hospital food, or cafeteria food or cheese and biscuit snacks. I think I need to rethink the snacks packed in the hospital bag.

Oops, sounds like my leisure time is up. Will make an effort to post something food related soon, if not this week.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My monthly reads - June

The Silver Crown - Robert C O'Brien
Dragon Heat - Allyson James
Must Love Dragons - Stephanie Rowe
Displaced Person - Lee Harding