Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Urggghhh

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 3 comments
One sick kid last week, the other kid sick this week with a birthday and a big weekend in the middle! I'm totally stuffed and, after a far from restful night with my wee girl, I'll be heading for bed really soon. I'll be back posting properly soon. Promise.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hmmmm

Posted by MANDI at 7:27 AM 4 comments
Well, I did it! With a wee bit of help from Hubby I got the new template to work and I got the blog to work too!! Yeah, I rock. They layout is a bit 'fussier' than I was after but I love the general prettiness of it.

So, what do you think? Is there anything missing, or conversely, anything that you think shouldn't be here? Like it or loathe it, I'd love to know your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oops.

Posted by MANDI at 8:21 PM 2 comments
You know how sometimes you get a bit bored with your house and think that moving the furniture around will make it all look nice and new and pretty? Only sometimes the furniture doesn't actually fit where you'd like it to? And you might end up scratching it? Or leaving a mark on the wall? Ummmm, yeah. I kind of did that to my blog. Again.

Oh don't worry. It all still works fine, it just doesn't look so pretty. But the ever wonderful Hubby is riding to my rescue and hopefully it'll all be polished and sparkly and beautiful really soon. Except Offspring is on twice this week and the second time is tonight which, I fear, may get in the way of the polishing, etc. But it'll still be pretty really soon. Promise!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gratituesday

Posted by MANDI at 12:55 PM 2 comments
I am so grateful to have a fantastic boss. One who understands the problems of being a working mum, who has her own kids and is very familiar with the juggling that can be required. One who, when I get a phone call at 8.45am (a mere 25 minutes after I'd arrived) saying that my boy is sick, doesn't just accept that I need to go but encourages me to and offers assistance to help me be on my way that bit quicker.

It makes a real change from a couple of other places I've worked. Ones where being a mum was seen as something of a handicap, where needing to leave work early in order to collect a child who was vomitting or had a suspected broken bone or was having an asthma attack was seen as a weakness. I totally understand how hard it can be for the boss to have staff who need to leave to deal with kids. I've been one those bosses and yes, it's hard. But it's life and if, as the boss, you can support your staff then that helps keep them happy and makes them more productive so it ends up being a win-win situation.

So, just in case you're reading this... Thanks Boss! I'm really grateful for your understanding and support, especially today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tap, tap, tap. Is This Thing On?

Posted by MANDI at 8:29 PM 1 comments
Hi. I'm here really. Between being worn out last week and not being able to get on the internet a few nights I lost track of the blogging. It wasn't until last night that I realised I hadn't posted since Tuesday. Then rather than actually blog I decided to go dye my hair instead. Yep, I'm vain and sometimes vanity comes first!

So what did we get up to last week? Lots of cooking, lots of running around and the most important thing of all, Offspring #1's birthday party. His birthday isn't until later this week but we had a few 'scheduling issues' (ie, Mum stuffed up) so we had his party the weekend before and told him he could have a week of celebrations! Hey, it sounds good to me and he went along with it. Because he's turning 9 he got to invite that number of kids along - that's one of our house b'day party rules, as many guests as the age you're turning - and we piled them all into the two cars and headed off for a couple of hours of rollerskating. It was so much fun, the kids had HUGE grins on their faces, and even better it wasn't at my place so someone else cleaned up the mess. Awesome. #2 had a blast, which was of course the purpose of the outing, and the kids were kept nicely entertained for the afternoon. Also awesome.

Just a note - I'm currently munching my way through a packet of chocolate freckles that I bought this morning to go on top of the birthday cake for school. Hmmmm... that's what happens when you get nice and organised and buy the lolly stuff you need at the beginning of the week!

This week's menu plan:
Monday: Corned Beef Fritters (last night's roast ended up being Corned Beef, so in an effort to be frugal and make good use of the leftovers...)
Tuesday: Chicken Curry pies with Sweet Potato (if it sounds familiar it was on the plan a couple of weeks ago but I didn't get around to making it)
Wednesday: Tuna Pasta Casserole
Thursday: BBQ
Friday: Birthday dinner - sausage sizzle with the grandparents after footy training
Saturday: we'll be out
Sunday: Leftovers from the freezer - probably mac'n'cheese for the kids and chicken casserole for us.

Baking: Apple and Butterscotch Sponge Pudding, Chocolate B'day Cake, Mini Quiches.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Darn Interweb! And Random Mumblings.

Posted by MANDI at 7:46 PM 1 comments
I couldn't get in to post yesterday - actually last night I couldn't get onto the internet at all. Very frustrating! I had the time all set aside between getting the kids to bed/dishes done/house tidied and the start of Offspring sometime later. I love Offspring. I love Asher Keddie. I wish that Chanel 10 had left it on Sunday nights though, I get all happy on Sunday thinking it's going to be on then settle down to watch it and remember it's on Monday nights now. Luckily Downtown Abbey is on Sunday nights instead. I'm loving that too. And Grey's on Thursday nights. But I've always loved Grey's so nothing really new there. Are you loving anything on tv at the moment? Or hating anything? I'm totally over Masterchef. Haven't even watched it in weeks.

I gave the slow cooker a good workout yesterday. I had a bunch of manky vegies in the bottom of the fridge. You know the ones. They're still okay, but only just, but it's shopping day and you're about to run out and buy lovely fresh crunchy vegies. What to do, what to do? I was ready early and had a bit of time to spare before school drop off (don't worry, it never happens so isn't likely to again anytime this year!) so grabbed all the vegies out, chopped them up fairly roughly and threw them all in the slowcooker with some chicken stock and some water and brewed up a lovely bit potful of vegie soup. All while I was out dropping the kids at school  and collecting the drycleaning and doing the food shopping. I had some for lunch with a fresh crusty roll and it was lovely. I had more for lunch at work today, with another fresh crusty roll, and it was equally lovely. Apart from the fact that I was at work and it was freezing. Seriously, it didn't get above 12C there today. Brrrrrr!

Kaz asked about the pizza muffin recipe. I knew I'd posted it here somewhere but had to go search for it - here's the link for those of you looking for something different for the lunchboxes. Click on the 'nibblies' link if you're looking for a couple of other ideas.

And here's my (now late) Menu Plan Monday post:
Monday: Slow Cooked Curried Sausages
Tuesday: Fish, chips and steamed vegies
Wednesday: Meatloaf, mash and veg
Thursday: Slow Cooked Lancashire Hotpot
Friday: Soup - there's some of the vegie soup in the freezer, along with some pea and ham soup I made a couple of weeks ago and Miss Fussy can have tomato soup from a can (the only kind she'll eat!)
Saturday: Homemade hamburgers
Sunday: Slow Cooked Corned Beef with roast vegies

And while I'm raving on.... If you've made it all the way down here I'm going to do some shameless begging and ask you you to go 'like' my Facebook page. It's here and if you like it you'll get news on the latest posts as well as extra bits and pieces. You'll also get my undying love, affection and gratitude. Just in case you wanted them.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whizzzz.... And There Went The Weekend!

Posted by MANDI at 8:31 PM 2 comments
Gosh this weekend seemed to be gone quicker than I could blink.We helped celebrate our youngest niece's 1st birthday, did lots around the house, did even more washing and house cleaning, cheered #1 on at his footy match and, of course, I managed to make time for some baking. What would a weekend be without some baking? Probably pretty normal for most people but it'd be a sad one for me.

I found this recipe for cookies over at fatmumslim and took it as something of a personal challenge. When the recipe is called 70 Cookies you know I'm going to have to try it just to see you really do get that many. For the record. I got 78. (And I swear it was called 70, not 80, when I looked the other day. I'm pretty sure she's changed the title!) It's so easy, they taste great and I've got about 60 of them in the freezer. One of my favourite things about the recipe is that after you've got the cookie dough ready you can split it into batches and make a bundle of different cookies. I think it would be perfect for something like a class party, a birthday party or a cake sale kind of event.




Last week I made mini pizza muffins for the kids lunchboxes and they were a big hit. They asked for them again this week but I wasn't falling into that trap - so sooner would I have mixed up another batch than they would have been sick of them and wanting something else. Yeah, been there, done that! Instead I made some yummy ham and cheese scrolls that have both kids looking forward to tomorrow's lunch. I rather suspect one might even make its way into the lunchbox belonging to the Daddy of the house...


I also tried a new Macaroni Cheese recipe from the current issue of Australian Good Taste. It was a winner with the whole family and, because the recipe said it would feed four but it would actually have stretched to eight very easily, I've got a couple of containers of that in the freezer too.


And now the dishes are done and the ironing is calling. And that's what we in the know call the end of the weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Menu Plan Fail

Posted by MANDI at 8:44 PM 0 comments
We hit mid-week and my well thought out and carefully organised menu-plan completely fell apart and the joy of the kids never reading the plan, despite it being stuck on the front of the fridge, is that each night dinner comes as a total surprise and if I decide to change it they're none-the-wiser anyway!

 I really wasn't in the mood for spaghetti last night, and then when I was late back from work with less time to sort anything else I ended up running into the shop to grab a chicken pie. The pie was very tasty and, served with some steamed fresh vegies, a good last minute meal but it kinda threw a kink into the plans for tonight's meal which was supposed Chicken Curry Pies. So a quick rethink, some website browsing and voila... something new for dinner.


This Chicken Scaloppini was full of flavour. I think it's the tastiest thing I've had for a while and I absolutely loved it. I knew the kids wouldn't like the tomatoey-olive sauce so I just left it off their plates and they hoovered up the chicken. Yes, even Miss Fussybum! I have discovered that lightly steamed fresh baby carrots are a big winner where the fussy one is concerned. Apparently they're 'very cute' and, as that is always a consideration when presenting food, I'm  happy to go with that if she's going to eat at least part of her dinner without a fight.

Chicken Scaloppini
adapted slightly from a recipe at recipefinder.ninemsn.com.au



2 chicken breasts
seasoned flour, to dust
olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
6 (or so) slices of cheese (mozzarella would be good but cheddar worked just fine!)
3 (or so) slices of ham, cut in half

1. Slice each chick breast in two, horizontally, through the centre. Place each piece on a board, cover with cling wrap (or baking paper) and hit it with a rolling pin till it's about 1cm thick. Dust with the seasoned flour.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken, in batches, on both sides until cooked through. Remove and set aside.
3. Add more oil to the pan (if you need to) and cook the crushed garlic for one minute - just till it's soft, not letting it change colour - Add the tomatoes and olives, season with salt and pepper and simmer on medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
4. Preheat grill to high. Pour the sauce into a shallow baking dish and place the the chicken pieces on top. Top each chicken piece with ham and cheese. Place under grill for a few minutes until the cheese melts and browns slightly.




Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gratituesday

Posted by MANDI at 8:48 PM 1 comments

And who could need more than this happy little face to be grateful, thankful and smiling? (Except maybe her big brother's equally gorgeous grin.)

What's rocking your world this week?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gotta Love A Long Weekend

Posted by MANDI at 8:23 PM 5 comments
Especially if you happen to live in WA and have just had one! I've had a lovely, cruisy, relaxing, baking, socialising, kinda long weekend and enjoyed every minute of it.

I baked a butter cake with a zingy passionfruit icing, made mini pizza muffins, put the slow cooker to good use with a batch of pea and ham soup and also a delish beef hotpot and cooked up a batch of dog food (and laughed at my Dad when he asked me what I was cooking because it looked good - okay, it was essentially human food of mince, rice and some vegies but it was still funny)

I caught up with an old school-friend on Saturday and had fun gossiping the afternoon away and getting to know her kids (gorgeousness in bucketloads!), Sunday we tootled off to another friends place to help with his low-key 40th birthday celebrations and today we had a last minute lunch invitation that was too good to turn down. I loved that the phone conversation with the lovely friend who issued the invitation, the former Mrs-Across-The-Road, included the line, "I know you have a hard time with the spontaneous stuff, so if it's too hard don't feel bad saying no." I laughed and laughed, then did some mental reorganising and declared we'd love to come to lunch! Then I made this delicious Beer Bread, grabbed some quince paste from the fridge, bought cheese from the deli on the way out and threw the whole lot on a serving platter when we got there. Yum. I am so making this again - super quick and seriously yummy, it's a winner for me.



And when I wasn't doing anything else, I also  looked through cookbooks and magazines and came up with this week's menu plan:
Monday: Slow Cooker Beef Hotpot
Tuesday: Baked fish with steamed vegies
Wednesday: Spaghetti Bolognaise
Thursday: Chicken Curry Pies*
Friday: Macaroni Cheese*
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole with mustard and tarragon*
Baking: Choc Chip Cupcakes* and more quince paste
*new recipes

What are you cooking this week? Trying anything new? Revisiting old favourites? Got anything worth sharing? Leave me some comment love and let me know what's going on in your kitchen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Q is for Quince. Part 2

Posted by MANDI at 12:57 PM 3 comments
I fiffled and faffled about making my own quince paste. I mean really, how could you ever beat Maggie Beer's stuff? Then again, hers is a wee bit pricey which makes is a once-in-a-while treat rather than a just-because kind of thing. Then I figured I had so many quinces that it would be almost crime to not have a go.

After much googling I decided on this recipe from taste.com.au, but I reduced the sugar by 150g or so and it's still plenty sweet enough. This is time consuming but not actually difficult and the end result is AMAZING. Totally, totally, totally worth doing yourself!



So, sorry Maggie. I adore you, love your products and very much enjoy experimenting with your recipes but... I'm never gonna buy your quince paste again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Q is for Quinces...

Posted by MANDI at 5:17 PM 2 comments
Which are really quite queer!

A colleague has a quince tree that is positively groaning with fruit and she brought some in for another workmate during the week and offered me some as well. I accepted fairly eagerly, telling her I'd never tried them and would be keen to. Well, she took me at my word and the nest day brought me a big bag of them - about fourteen or so absolutely huge specimens!


Last night I stewed up a couple and we had them with icecream. Offspring #1 and I thoroughly enjoyed them, Hubby thought they were okay but wasn't particularly enthusiastic, commenting that they tasted like something someone's Gran would cook. #2 provided her usual verdict of "Yuk!" so nothing really new there.

The uncooked quince is creamy-white in colour and the flesh is quite similar to that of of an unripe pear. The thing that's really special about them is that they turn the most gorgeous pinky-orange colour when they're cooked. Lovely.


I peeled and cored the quinces, sliced them up (in the same way you'd slice up apples for stewing) and put them into a saucepan. I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of sugar over the top and added enough water to reach the top of the fruit. On advice from the quince-giver, I stewed them over a very low heat 'until they turned pink' which ended up being about an hour and a half (you might need to add more water while they're stewing), and by then they were lovely and soft and the water had combined with the fruit to turn into a delicious sticky syrup. Perfect for topping some icecream or, as I found out from facebook friend a little later in the evening, a Quince Cwumble.

After some serious googling my big plans for the long weekend are turning the rest of my booty into quince paste and quince jelly!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Banana Bread. With A Twist.

Posted by MANDI at 9:08 PM 1 comments
No massive intro here, just an instruction: Make This Now!

This banana and raspberry bread is out-of-this-world delicious. I've made it a few times and it gets gobbled down so quickly that I've not yet managed to have any left for lunches the next day. Although that's not all bad. It tastes good when it's cool but it's fantastic when it's warm. We've  enjoyed it for morning and afternoon tea and I think it would go down a treat for breakfast (or brunch) if you were up and functioning early enough to throw it together.

I know bananas here in Australia are hideously expensive at the moment but, if you have any lurking at the back of the fridge and you're cursing the kids for wasting them, curse no more. Or if not, put this recipe to the side and come back as soon as the banana prices go down!

Banana and Raspberry Bread
from Thrifty Kitchen by Suzanne Gibbs and Kate Gibbs



2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups plain flour'
1\ 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 cups frozen raspberries
butter, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 160C and butter a 21cm x 14cm loaf tin. Line the base and long sides with baking paper.
2. Combine the egg whites, mashed banana, sugar and oil in a bowl. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda, and fold together until just combined. Fold through the raspberries, then spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 1 1/4 hours, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice, toast and serve with butter.
 

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