Friday, September 3, 2010


Ahhh this time of year starts to wake everyone up again. Blue skys and fresh air (albeit sometimes chilly) just makes me want to open the windows and invite everyone over for a dinner on the deck!
(Obviously not talking about the mini hurricane in Adelaide today)

entertaining HAS to be one of my favourite things and licence to try out new recipes - I have heard sooo many times that you should *never* try out a new recipe when you have guests.....pfffftt! I rarely do the same thing twice, but I do have a few favourites that I will share with you.
Prawns Saganaki is one of my all time favourites to share with friends - love the fact it uses seafood (Australia has the best of course) it can all be pre-chopped and just requires one pan and takes 10 mins to cook!
Another is what I call 'french chicken'. It is basically a sauce I invented, which is French inspired

"French Chicken"

4 chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic (you actually need cloves for this one)
1 onion, quartered
Mushrooms, chopped (not neatly they are just for flavour)
Tub of Creme Fraiche (think about 300g??)
Dry white wine
Can add herbs, I like sage or thyme OR add a bouquet garni

In very large fry pan melt a tablespoon of butter, add onion, garlic and mushrooms. When onions soft, add chicken breasts, brown both sides. Add about a cup or two of white wine, simmer to reduce (just a little). Add tub of creme fraiche, salt and pepper to taste, simmer until chicken cooked through.
Place chicken breasts on serving plates. Strain sauce through sieve, into jug. Pour over chicken.

Best served with green beans and carrots.

Another one dish wonder to 'share' at the table
"Pasta bake with Pumpkin, Feta and Lamb"

1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (or tblspn minced garlic)
500g lamb mince
2 tsp ground cumin
1-1 1/2 cups, diced tomatoes (or use whole can, diced tomatoes)
150g baby spinach leaves
200g Home Brand dried bow tie pasta
1 Butternut, cubed (approx 2cm pieces)
100g - 200g feta, crumbled
Sprinkling shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat a splash of oil or butter, in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the mince and cook, break up any lumps, until mince changes colour. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato.
Meanwhile, reserve 40g (1 cup) of the spinach. Place the remaining spinach in a large colander in the sink. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin half way through cooking. Pour the pasta mixture over the spinach in the colander to drain. Return the pasta mixture to the pan.
Add the mince mixture and half the feta to the pasta mixture or vice versa (depending on how big each pan is!). Stir until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a 2L (8-cup) capacity baking dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan and remaining feta. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Top with the reserved spinach.

And for those who love olives and chicken married together...
"Mediterranean Chicken"

6 small (about 600g) chicken drumsticks

6 (about 1.5kg) chicken thigh cutlets
1kg chat (small coliban) potatoes, halved
2-4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
95g (1/2 cup) kalamata olives (or more depending if you like them)
2 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced (or 2 tblspns minced garlic)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat oil or butter in a 3L (12-cup capacity) metal roasting dish, over medium heat. Add the chicken drumsticks and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the chicken thigh cutlets.
Add a little more butter if needed then add the potato to the dish and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat.
Add the chicken to the potato in the dish and top with tomato, olives and garlic. Sprinkle with rosemary. Pour over the wine. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and potato is tender. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

bout time I put a dessert up! Bread and Butter Pudding (not the soggy one)

Back to basics - bread and butter pudding (not the soggy one)

8 slices of bread, buttered
1/2 cup sultanas
3 level tablespoons caster sugar
Ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Heat oven to 160 degrees. Cut each slice of bread and butter into 4 triangles. Arrange bread in the base of a lightly greased baking dish. Add the sultanas between the bread slices (so they don't get burned). Sprinkle with the sugar and dust with some cinnamon.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together. Carefully pour over the bread. Sprinkle on a little more cinnamon (if required/desired).
Let stand for half an hour. Don't worry if the top pieces of bread are not submerged under the milk - these are going to be the nice crispy bits. Bake until the "custard" has set and the pudding is golden brown on the top. this will take about 40 minutes.

Variations: The sky is the limit really - replace sultanas and cinnamon with whatever takes your fancy, just member to be aware of protecting any fruit that may burn in the oven. Here are some ideas:

Raspberry and White chocolate
Banana and walnut/pecan
Apple (tinned cooking apples), walnut and cinnamon
Marmalade, jam or lemon curd on the bread slices
Something I haven't tried but might work - melted chocolate in the egg mixture with Kahlua, mmmm
Coffee to the egg mixture with whatever between the bread!
Any fruits from tin and nuts or chocolate.
Basically what ever you want - add alcohol, add chocolate, add nuts, add fruit, add spices!

So I bought a bike

green pedal power PLUS exercise!
funny story though as I can't actually ride a bike - apparently I learnt (sort of) as a kid and in my Mum's words "sucked" at it.
So I have gone all out and bought a beautiful bike that I was unsure if I could actually ride - but how hard could it be?
I *can* ride a fitness bike, right?
That was a joke which had a very dear friend in fits of laughter, we used to go to the gym together and one day told her I couldn't ride a bike - she just about we herself laughing as I got on the stationary bike offering me helmuts to crash mats...just in case I fell off. Who needs enemys when you have friends like that! ;)

So I have this lovely bike which my dad helped me select (he is an avid cyclist) and we are on the street teaching me to ride - jokes about training wheels aside - my poor Dad is holding the seat of the bike and pushing me up the hill till I get some momentum mumbling "this brings back memories"

I am off! Up the hill, doing fine, shit...I have to turn around.
I look back for cars and see the terrified faces of my Dad and Stepmum as I wobble turn the bike around (without falling off!) YAY!!! does that mean I am a pro yet?

Long story short I *can* now ride a bike (I had faith in me!) just need a bit of practice before I hitch the kiddies trailer on the back and start riding to the library or the shops.
Good thing about taking the kids in the trailer is, if they are under the age of 12 you can ride on the footpath. Much safer for us....and any vehicles *I* am likely to hit

Monday, August 30, 2010

fallen off the rails

All up shit creek without a paddle for me. I have slipped back into junk food and not cooking - this has had dire consequences! 7kgs but I can't just blame this on junk food I stopped breastfeeding and the weight has crept on.
Urgh! Well what to do?
Motiviation boost! Reality check!
I am going to get off my ass and cook! This is ridiculous I have plenty of food, plenty of recipes so what is the problem? Why do I keep heading to junk food? Convenience?
I can't stand the thought of my daughter ever eating it - so why am I happy to eat it myself?
Monkey see, monkey do - time for me to wake up