Thursday, December 28, 2006

And Now It's Our Anniversary!

Posted by MANDI at 9:17 PM 2 comments
We have been married 9 years! I know lots of people have been married lots longer but I think it's pretty impressive. Didn't do anything especially romantic but we did spend the day together which was nice.
A quick update:
Christmas was wonderful. Offspring #1 LOVED it! He is amazed by Santa's extreme cleverness, especially how he knew exactly the toys that #1 "weally weally wanted". #2 wasn't quite as impressed and found all the people and noise a bit hard to cope with. They have both been sooooo very good while we have been away. They are completely out of their normal routines, away from home and all the little comforts and being dragged all over the country side to see people they don't know very well or, in #2's case, just can't remember. Poor #1 had a not-so-mini-meltdown tonight after a very long day and some late nights.
The shopping has slowed but not stopped completely. I have grand shopping plans for Saturday and will aim to squeeze in one more good 'shop' before we head back but am rapidly running out of time.
I am just loving this holiday. We have been catching up with friends (generally involving lots of champagne), relaxing and just enjoying our time together.
BIG NEWS FOR FELLOW FOODIES!!! I bought my covection microwave oven today. 44 litres of gorgeous-ness! WOOOHOOOOO!!! I am so darn excited that I nearly can't wait to get back to Red Dirt Central just so I can open it and play with it. Now that's excited!
I had planned to post some Christmas pics but... since I forgot my card reader and I'm using Mum's computer, well you get the idea. Instead I'll have bazillions of pics to post when I get home.
Thankyou for the birthday wishes. I did try to respond to them but Blogger was being painful.

Friday, December 22, 2006

In The Big City

Posted by MANDI at 2:51 PM 2 comments
WooHoo!! It is so excellently excellent to be home for a few weeks. We had a good trip down, the kids were great and coped well with the drive. Arrived Tuesday and since then I have shopped (spent $600 yesterday! oh dear) had my hair done (I am just about totally in love with myself LOL) caught up with friends, and just loved being here. I'm at Mum and Dad's for my birthday lunch at the moment - lots of yummy 'party' food and some lovely presents. I asked for lots of cooking stuff and recieved a new loaf tin, a friand tin, a couple of cook books I was after that I will share recipes from when I return home, a very daggy old CD that I really wanted (I'm too embarrassed to share it with you!).
Anyway, must run and drink some more champagne with Mum before we go out for dinner with the in-laws.
I'll check in next week with some photos of the kids and our holiday.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

See You In A Month

Posted by MANDI at 3:18 PM 5 comments
We're off tomorrow morning for a month long holiday to the Big City! We're going to take three days to drive down, just taking it easy and try to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. We've planned a week or so with each set of parents, a few days down south with a couple of sets of friends, and throughout there will be lots catching up with friends and family and shopping (WOOHOOO!!! that bit is very exciting) and then three days to drive back up. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone, doing some shopping and, of course, Christmas.
Offspring #1 is so excited he is just about bouncing. It's wonderful that he is so excited about seeing Nanny and Pop, Grandma and Grandpa and his friends but it seems that the excitement is taking up space in his head usually reserved for skills like listening, minding his manners and, my personal favourite, following instructions.
The washing is all done and sorted, now I just need to cart it all out to the caravan. The presents, along with several bags of baby clothes now outgrown by #2 and headed for a friends baby, have been stowed in various under-storage areas. The food for the trip has been sorted and needs only to be 'esky-ed' tomorrow morning and I just need to check the first-aid kit and make sure we have baby panadol and bonjella for a teething wee person who is unhappily chewing on anything she can find.
I will try to check in once a week or so and share news and pics of our holiday but will be back for real mid-January.
For now, the House of Red Dirt wishes you and yours a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. See you in 2007.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And The Heavens Opened

Posted by MANDI at 10:40 PM 3 comments
We just had our first rain for the season! Considering how long it is since we have seen rain it was pretty exciting. We got 10ml of rain the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees, then it got humid and steamy. Aaahhh, the wet season in Red Dirt Central. You've gotta love it.
Before the thunderstorm we had the grey skies roll in and this beauty in the sky. If you look carefully you can see the second rainbow too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Posted by MANDI at 12:00 PM 3 comments
I was cleaning the bathroom this morning and decided that the shower needed a good scrub. So I crouched down in the shower to scrub gunge from the corner. I forgot that the shower cleaning stuff makes the floor waaaaayyyy slippery. I scrubbed a bit too hard and my feet shot our from under me and I made a very inelegant dive onto the shower floor landing on one knee, one wrist and one elbow. Nice look!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Special Treat

Posted by MANDI at 7:52 PM 3 comments
I have been longing for some of this cheesecake for ages but couldn't quite bring myself to make one when I didn't have anyone coming to dinner to share it with. While I probably could manage to eat the whole thing (over a few days!) I thought it wasn't the wisest idea. And while I did have people I could invite to dinner trying to find a date that suited everyone, and their kids activities, was near impossible. Finally on Saturday we managed to tee up a date with some friends and I got to make what I think is just about the yummiest cheesecake ever!

White Chocolate Cheesecake
From the Ugly Binder

185g (1½ cups) crushed plain chocolate biscuits
90g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
400g can sweetened condensed milk
200g white chocolate, melted
300ml carton cream
1 tbsp gelatine
¼ cup boiling water
100g dark chocolate, melted

Combine biscuite crumbs and butter. Press into base of 23cm springform pan and refrigerate until firm
Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Beat in white chocolate, then beat in cream.
Combine gelatine and boilng water, stir until dissolved. Beat gelatine into cheesecake milture and spoon over crumb crust.
Swirl dark chocolate through cheesecake mixture and refrigerate until firm.

I used chocolate chip fudge cookies for the base this time round. I have experimented with lots of different types and this is definitely my favourite. I usually make this the night before I need it so it is nice and firm when it's time to serve it up. Hope you like it. Here at the House of Red Dirt it's a firm favourite.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An early birthday gift

Posted by MANDI at 9:00 PM 0 comments

I received an early birthday present this week. It's not my birthday for a couple of weeks but my friend, D, was leaving town and she gave me a birthday/goodbye/sorry-we're-leaving gift. It's a cookie jar in the shape of a cup-cake. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! My old cookie jar was dented and ugly and I said to D a couple of weeks ago that I needed to get another one. She said that was the only clue she needed LOL.

The very gorgeous cup-cake cookie jar

And here is a pic of the cookie-mix-in-a-jar gifts that we made for #1's kindy teachers. As usual, not a great shot, but you get the idea.

Today I was out scrapbooking all day and got a few pages of #2's baby album done. I'm pleased that I finally managed to get her first photos scrapped, especially as she is 15 months old now! Here are some pics of what I got done. I forgot my 'special' pen so they still need the journalling to be done but you get the general idea.

We were out to dinner last night and I made one of my favourite desserts - white chocolate cheesecake. I'll be back tomorrow with pics and the recipe.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Teacher's Gifts

Posted by MANDI at 9:13 PM 3 comments
Tomorrow is the last day of kindy for Offspring #1. What a big milestone. He seems pretty cool with the whole idea but a certain Mummy is feeling a bit sad and sorry! We made Cookie-Mix-In-A-Jar for #1's two teachers for their Christmas gifts. I think they turned out pretty well. We did a test run last week and made a batch of cookies (they are Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies) to see how they turned out and were quietly pleased with them. The main thing I wanted, besides them being tasty, was for the recipients to not have to add too many other ingredients or follow long and complicated steps. Anyway, I got the recipe from a site called Gifts From Your Kitchen that is well worth checking out - lots of yummy recipes to try.
I have tried to post pics of the finished gifts but someone (ie the Hubby!) changed the settings on my camera so the photos are huge and I'm not sure how to make 'em smaller so Blogger will be happy with them.I'll get him to fix them up and post them later.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Posted by MANDI at 8:24 PM 4 comments
I realise it has been awhile since I did a food post so thought I'd best get myself into action. To be honest I haven't been cooking anything terribley exciting, I have been making proper meals and all but they have tended to be family favourites, like spag bol, tuna mornay or lamb cutlets that I have fine-tuned and tweaked to our tastes and don't follow a recipe for anyway. Late last week #1 and I felt like some cookies so had a search through the ugly binder and came across a recipe I had been wanting to try for some time - Snickerdoodles! Yes, I admit it was mostly the name that intrigued me but also everytime someone had spoken of these cookies they told me how much they loved them so of course I wanted to try them too. They are super easy, super crunchy and super yummy! I really loved them dunked in a cup of tea while #1 enjoyed them with a glass of cold milk. The day we made them I was cruising through a number of blogs I read regularly and realised that Ellie, the Kitchen Wench, had made snickerdoodles the same day. Her recipe is a little different to the one I had and I'll be trying hers next time. I also realised that I had taken the same type of photo (although her photo is, as always, terrific and mine is ummm... not) but since we had given half the cookies away to a friend and eaten a large number of the remaining ones I couldn't take another pic. Oh well!!

from The Ugly Binder

150g butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1¾ cups self-raising flour

rolling mix of ½ cup cinnamon scented caster sugar (or ½ cup caster sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 225˚C. Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl, mix in the egg then the flour. Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into a ball then roll it in the cinnamon sugar rolling mix until it's well covered.

Place each snickerdoodle on a greased tray, leaving room for spreading. Press slightly flat and bake for about 10 minutes or until they are just turning golden at the edges. Remove from oven and leave cookies to cool on tray. They will be quite soft but will turn crisp as they cool.

Makes about 30.

PS I haven't had any comments for ages. Is anyone reading this? Please say hi if you've dropped by, even if you don't normally comment. You can even be anonymous if you want LOL.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A Concert Report

Posted by MANDI at 9:05 PM 0 comments
Well the end-of-year concert was a fabulous success! The kindy kids were so very cute - the boys were in surfie shirts and boardshorts or surfie-style shorts and most of the girls wore their swimmers and pretty coloured grass skirts. #1 did a terrific job of remembering the dance - I guess the other kids did too but I wasn't watching them LOL! He danced his little heart out and you should have seen the wiggle when he did "the schnorkel" AKA the snorkel, where they hold their nose and pretend they are under water. Apart from jumping to face the wrong way one time (at least he wasn't the only one and it didn't faze him in the least!) he remembered it all and as you can tell, we were very proud of him.

My beautiful boy all dressed up in his surfie gear

He has come such a long way this year and is so much more confident than he was even 5 months ago. I was so worried that the move to Red Dirt Central would be really hard for him because he was/is such a sensitive little soul who feels things so deeply, but I think it might have just been the best thing for him. He loves kindy and waves me goodbye quite happily every morning. He still misses his friends at home, especially his 'bestest friend' who lived across the road, but has made some new friends easily. That said, he is going to a different school again next year. The new one is closer to our house and I am also far happier with it educationally. I went to collect his book order during the week and got the chance to have a good look around and it is just so much better/nicer/newer/cleaner than his current school. It does help ease the mummy-guilt that most of his kindy class are disbursing and heading off to different schools and that there will be 2 or 3 of his class-mates at the new school with him. But with the growth I have seen in him this year I am more confident that we are doing the right thing for him and that he will cope well with yet another change.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's The End-Of-Year Concert

Posted by MANDI at 3:34 PM 0 comments
School finishes next week and we have the end of year concert and awards tonight. It starts at 6pm and is expected to go until about 9pm. Luckily the kindy kids are up first and are allowed to leave when they have done their piece. The two kindy classes are presenting their piece together and are doing a dance to the Hawaii Five-O music. #1 has shown me bits and pieces of the dance so I'm looking forward to seeing what order it all happens in. Their teacher is a bit concerned that the kids don't really know what they are doing (they have been working on this for about 4 weeks LOL) but I figure that even if they did know what to do once they get on stage they'll either forget, do their own thing or burst into tears anyway!
Anyway, I'm sure it will be very cute and I'm planning to take hundreds of photos - aahhh, I do love my digital camera.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Well That Didn't Work

Posted by MANDI at 11:59 AM 2 comments
I tried a new recipe last night. Nothing odd there. At the moment I try three or four new recipes each week. It sounded good - chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta and prunes. Nothing odd there. It had quite normal ingredients - chicken, ricotta, prunes and some balsamic vinegar and maple syrup for basting. Nothing odd there. It wanted a couple of things not in my fridge so I substituted, just using parsley instead of chives and simple stuff like that. Nothing odd there. Then it cremated itself. The outside was charred - it was bitter and burnt and truly horrible but the inside was still raw. So then I sliced it up and cooked the inside and tried to feed it to everyone for dinner LOL! To their credit every member of the family tried it. Funnily enough we all declared it a flaming failure and decided that it tasted (a) disgusting, (b) a little bit burnt, honey but I'm sure if you did it again it would be terrific, (c) bery yukky and (d) well, no words do justice to the face she pulled but it was a great 'YUK' face.
On the plus side of this, I coped with the failure extremely well and even offered them grilled cheese on toast if they were still hungry (they decided the mashed potato and steamed vegies followed by yoghurt for dessert was fine). Not so long ago I would have been very upset by my failure and probably have burst into tears and yelled at everyone. Last night I just shrugged and gave them more vegies instead. Yay for me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Fish!

Posted by MANDI at 9:27 PM 3 comments
Well it was tuna from a can but I'm sure that still counts as fish!

As some of you may have noticed I have been working my way through my Quiches and Flans cookbook. I have always liked this little cookbook but generally made the same things over and over, like Quiche Lorraine and Vegetable Slice - both firm family favourites. One of the reasons I started my blog was because of Paula aka The Cookbook Junkie, who has so many cookbooks that she decided she should put them to good use and cooks something different just about every single day. I thought I should take a leaf out of her book and start trying some of the other recipes that I had always said, "I'd like to make that one day" or "that looks nice".

I made this Tuna Flan a couple of nights ago and I have to admit that I quite enjoyed it. Hubby thought it was great (gee, it's nice to cook for someone who loves just about everything I make) and #2 polished hers off in record time although #1 was a more difficult critic. Hubby won him over by telling him it was tuna in a pie so this has now been dubbed Tuna Pie!

Tuna Flan (AKA Tuna Pie)
from Family Circle Delicious Quiches and Flans

6 sheets filo pastry
60g butter, melted

425g can tuna, drained
½ cup mayonnaise
4 spring onions, finely chopped Didn't have any so about 12 chives
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cream
½ cup grated cheddar cheese I used closer to 1 cup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Lay out oshe sheet of filo, brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of filo over the first, brushw ith butter. Repeat until all sheets are used.
Brush a 21 x 29cm oblong flan tin (I used my round flan dish instead) with melted butter or oil. Place the prepared pastry sheets in the tin, tucking in the edges.
To make filling: Combine ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Pour the filling into the prepared tin, bake for 35 minutes or until ightly browned and set.

PS: It is stinking hot up here. Last night it was still 35˚C (that's 95˚F) at 11pm!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

To Market, To Market

Posted by MANDI at 8:21 PM 0 comments
I had the Christmas Craft Market today. After a slow start and a higher cover price than I had been told I was feeling a little disappointed (okay, pretty fed up actually) but I ended up doing quite well. I sold a bunch of star albums, some card packs and all of the Christmas Embellishment Packs that I had made up (on the spur of the moment and at the absolute last minute!). I gave out lots of business cards and might even get a workshop booking out of it.
So, after a frenzied fortnight of making stuff for the market I'm sitting back and relaxing tonight. Then I have to finish the rest of my Christmas cards so I can get them posted out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

An Unexpected Dinner Guest

Posted by MANDI at 9:42 PM 333 comments
Time: Yesterday afternoon, about 4.45pm
Place: My kitchen/dining room
Scene: #1 and kindy friend are playing in the lounge room, #2 and kindy friend's older sister are playing in the dining room, kindy friend's Mum and I are fighting to be heard above the ear-drum-shattering noise when the phone rings. It's strident electronic tone silences everyone... momentarily!
Brrring Brrring, Brrring Brrring (that's the phone ringing!!)
Me: Hello?
Other end: It's me!
Me: Hello me. What's up?
Other end (who I now know is my old friend and colleague, T, currently living in Port Red Dirt): I was wondering if you wanted to drink champagne with me?
Me: Absolutely! Where are you?
T: At the (name of motel accomodation). I'm down for a conference. I thought you might feed me dinner too????
Me: Absolutely! What time?
T: Hmmmm, I'll be with you in about 45 minutes.
Me: Excellent! See you then.
Current guests realise the time and decide to head home to start their dinner prep and then I make a mad dash through the house depositing bucketfuls of toys in their sort-of rightful places.
Luckily I already have dinner cooking on the stove - spaghetti bolognaise - and it's easy to stretch to feed an extra one or two people. I phone Hubby who is at the shopping centre having a haircut and request garlic bread and a bottle of champers and I'm ready for the next sitting!
The funniest part is that when we all worked together at Red Dirt Tiny Town, 6 hours away and 9 years ago, I used to feed T (along with several others) spag bol on a quite regular basis. I could cook many other things but it was always so easy to whip up a big pot when everyone decided to come to our place for dinner and it didn't matter if 4 or 24 turned up to eat, I just added a few bits and pieces and dinner stretched - although some nights there was rather more spag and rather less bol LOL!
Anyway, we had a really nice evening. The kids were on their best behaviour, dinner was good, the champers was better and we caught up on all the news. Yay for unexpected dinner guests.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm Popeye The Sailor Man...

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 PM 0 comments

or not LOL!

I made Florentine Rolls for dinner tonight and they were delicious. I was suprised that both the kids really tucked into them (I had baked beans in a can for backup). My food processor got a work out - it made easy work of finely chopping the spinach and the semi-dried tomatoes. But my microwave died in the middle of cooking #2's vegies so now I am researching microwaves. I'm thinking about getting a convection one - my reasoning being that it is so hot up here for the majority of the year that I could use the microwave and still cook 'proper' meals (never got the hang of microwave cooking for real meals!) without heating up the whole house or having to resort to BBQ's for 7 months of the year. Anyone have one/had one/used one? Any thoughts or suggestions? All comments would be gratefully received.

Anyway, back to the recipe! The original recipe suggested Florentine Rolls as an entree but I made them for mains and we had a salad with them. In hindsight I think they were maybe a bit rich for dinner. I served a larger portion as the main meal than I would if I was serving them as an entree and I think a smaller serving would be perfect. That said, I will definitely make them again.

Florentine Rolls
from The Ugly Binder

1 bunch English spinach, trimmed, leaves washed I used half a bag of Silverbeet - it was all I could get hold of
200g fresh ricotta I had a 250g tub and used the lot
1½ teaspoon ground nutmeg I only used 1 teaspoon and that was enough
4 green shallots, thinly sliced
100g semi-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced I had a 140g tub and used the lot
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1½ sheets ready-rolled frozen puff pastry, thawed I used two sheets because of all the extra bits I added
1 egg, lightly whisked

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add spinach and cook for 1 minute or until wilted. Drain and refresh in cold water. Use your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture from the spinach and finely chop.
Preheat oven to moderate, 180˚C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place ricotta in a medium bowl and break up with a fork. Add green shallots, tomatoes, spinach, nutmeg, salt and peppe, and mix to combine.
Lay sheets of pastry on a clean surface. Cut whole sheets in half lengthways. Spread about ½ a cup of ricotta mixture down the long side of each pastry half. Brush other long side with a little whisked egg and roll pastry up lengthways, pressing to seal. Trim edges. Brush tops of rolls with whisked egg and cut each roll into 4 pieces, Place on lined tray and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Catching Up

Posted by MANDI at 8:11 PM 0 comments
Here are the recipes I have been trying to post for the past little bit. Hopefully my computer, Blogger and my not-so-great technical ability will all have a postive meeting and this post will work!

First up, the peanut butter cookies I made last week. This recipe was chosen simply because I had all the ingredients on hand and I didn't need to use the electric beater - a big bonus when #2 is napping. They weren't that great the day they were made but were quite nice the next day - the honey flavour had developed and made a tasty cookie. I probably won't make then again, they were fine and everyone enjoyed them but there are so many other peanut butter cookie recipes to try.

Peanut Butter Cookies
From Family Circle Step-by-Step Biscuits and Slices

1 cup plain flour
½ cup self-raising flour
1 cup rolled oats
125g unsalted butter
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped

¾ cup icing sugar
25g butter, softened
1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Brush two baking trays with melted butter or oil.
Sift flours into a large mixing bowl; stir in oats.
Combine butter, sugar, honey and peanut butter in pan and stir over medium heat until melted. Add to flour mixture. Using a metal spoon, stir to just combine ingredients. Roll heated teaspoons of mixture into balls. Arrange on prepared trays with room for spreading and press lightly to flatten. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Cool cookies on tray.
To make topping: Combine icing sugar, butter and water in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Dip tops of cookies into topping and then into nuts. (I dipped them into the topping but didn’t add the extra nuts.)

We had fish for dinner one night last week (does everyone else have the problem of all the days blurring together? We don't even have much of a social life but we sure have been busy lately!) I'm not a big fan of fish, usually it tastes just too fishy. Everyone laughs at me for saying that but I hope you know what I mean. I find some fish to be quite mild in flavour (like shark) while others (just about anything else!) has a strong 'fish' flavour. Anyway, the ladies at the deli counter at the local shop helped me out and sold me some basa fillets - I've never heard of it before but it was boneless and they assured me it wasn't 'fishy' tasting. I am so glad that I tried it - it was delicious - the kids scoffed it down, Hubby loved it (he loves seafood) and I really enjoyed it. I even ate the whole fillet - very unusual for me.

Herb-Crumbed Fish Fillets
From the Ugly Binder (I think it came for
good taste magazine originally)

1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill I used much less dill, about 1 tablespoon - it's not a favourite
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless fish fillets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the breadcrumbs, parmesan, dill and chives in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Dip each piece of fish into the breadcrumb mixture and use your fingers to press the crumbs firmly onto the fish.
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter melts and begins to foam. Add the fish pieces and cookd for ¾ minutes each side, or until light golden and the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with steamed potatoes and asparagus and lemon wedges. (We had ours with steamed potatoes with salad instead.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ahoy, me hearties

Posted by MANDI at 6:13 PM 4 comments
I had grand plans to blog on the weekend with all the things outlined in my last post but... once again real life got in the way and Blogger conspired against me at the same time. This is a very short post with a pic to keep my dedicated readers happy!

My beautiful boy in his pirate costume.

And "Aaarrr-ing" like the best of 'em!

The birthday party #1 attended was great fun - 8 little boys running around pretending to be pirates. I'm sure you can take a guess at the noise level LOL!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bad Blogger!!

Posted by MANDI at 3:53 PM 1 comments
I did post yesterday but for some reason Blogger sent it off to who-knows-where? instead of putting it into Blogland where it belonged. As well as being unable to post yesterday I can't add photos to my posts at the moment! Grrrr, bad bad Blogger!
Anyway, we made peanut butter cookies which I will post pics and recipe for over the weekend. I also cooked fish for dinner last night - a rare event in this house. But it was spectacular - if I do say so myself! Again, pics and recipe on the weekend.
#1 and I are off to a 5th birthday party for one of his kindy friends - a pirate party. He looks so cute and I have taken some really lovely photos (yeah, you'll see them on the weekend too). Then I'm off to an all-night scrap - if I can stay awake. Tacos out of a box for dinner - slack, I know!
So, ahoy me hearties and we'll see you on a day that starts with S!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The House Needs Some Work!

Posted by MANDI at 7:29 AM 2 comments
I didn't get to post last night because Hubby had a meeting for work and I had a friend round to do some scrapping. By the time Hubby headed off, the kids were organised and dishes were done J had arrived and then we scrapped (and chatted, gossiped, laughed and ate chocolate!) until about 11pm. A late night for me! I did try to jump on and blog then but the connection was playing up - again - and I was too tired to fiddle around and get it all working.
I have a craft market coming up at the end of the month so have been busy making items to sell. Yesterday I got 4 star albums finished, a couple with a Christmassy look and a couple of 'pretty' ones, and I got started on an accordian album. I'll post some pics of them a bit later. I only managed to get so much done because #1 was at kindy and #2 had the biggest sleep in the history of... well the history of #2 LOL. The house has been sadly neglected so, in between a play-date and swimming lessons, I really need to do some housework today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm Here Really!

Posted by MANDI at 8:25 PM 3 comments
No, I haven't forgotten my blogging duties. Real life just got in the way for a little bit. Thankyou for emailing me Chantalle - it was very sweet of you to be concerned about #2. I did try to blog on Satuday night but the computer was being temperamental and then I found out that my ISP was having a few problems so I didn't get far.

#2 is FINALLY better. She did just have a virus but it was a doozy and packed a real wallop to the poor little thing. We spent a fairly sleepless Thursday night with #2 burning up, refusing to drink anything, and refusing to doze anywhere except on me. Nothing like a 10kg heatpack firmly attached to your neck! In the end I took her to bed with me and she lay on top of me and we both dozed, on and off, for a couple of hours. Hubby took over at about 3.30am and I got a couple of hours sleep before our day started for real. Her temp stayed around 39.5 until Friday afternoon and then her fever seemed to break. Or so we thought. I had a workshop Friday night so left Hubby home with the kids. He was fine but #2's temp went up again and I got home at 10.30pm to a very hot, very sad baby and a very tired and somewhat stressed Daddy. Another sleepless night and she finally cooled down the next morning. She was grumpy as hell but she was cool. She has spent the last couple of days catching up on sleep and I really hope she gets back to her usual happy little self soon. I have had just about all the whinging I can cope with. #1 was an absolute trooper the whole time - he played quietly and kept himself amused, bought #1 toys and drinks and whatever else she so much as glanced at and was just a great big hero the whole time. I made sure I gave him lots of hugs and told him what a fantastic help he was and how proud I was of him. Of course, now that things are getting back to normal he is being somewhat less helpful and somewhat less fantastic too, but I guess you get that.

I had a market on Sunday morning and then went to scrapbooking for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Hubby was lovely and told me to have a break and enjoy it. I sure did!

Today was #1's first day of swimming lessons. He has done a few lots of swimming lessons in previous years but they have never been particularly successful - he hates getting water in his face (can't really blame him!) and spends more time whining and thinking of excuses to get out of the water than he does learning anything. But, without wanting to jinx anything, today was great. He hopped straight in the pool, joined in all the activities, kicked with the kickboard and had a great time. He didn't want to put his face in the water, and the teacher didn't make a big deal of it so he was fine. We have lessons twice a week for the next 5 weeks and #2 and I will have a swim in the big pool then play in the babies pool while the lesson is on. Fun for (nearly) the whole family!

So, now that thing are getting back to something that resembles normal for our household I have been back in the kitchen. I had two 'kitchen firsts' today - I finally used the steamer that I got for my last birthday, some ten-and-a-half months ago (shhhh, don't tell my Mum after I begged for it!) and I cooked with fresh asparagus. I have only ever used asparagus out of a jar/tin. OMG! What a difference. I am now officially an asparagus lover. This quiche was really easy (especially because I used pre-made pastry!) and so delicious. It was a hit with the whole family, although #1 did pull the asparagus out towards the end and tell me he didn't want any more of the "green stuff" because it was "ewww". I will be sure to make this one again.

Asparagus Quiche
Adapted from Family Circle Delicious Quiches and Flans

Okay, so I need to work on getting all the spears to meet neatly in the middle!

2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 bunches fresh asparagus
2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to moderate, 180˚C. Spray 20cm quiche/flan dish with cooking spray and line with pastry sheets, cutting around the edge of the dish. Prick all over with a fork then blind bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden.

Instructions for asparagus
Wash spears in cool water to clean any residual soil or sand from the tips.
Bend the spears and they will snap at the natural breaking point, to remove the woody bottoms. Steam asparagus spears for about 5 minutes, immediately rinse them under cool water to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green colour. Asparagus is done if it bends a little as you pick it up, and when the thicker end can be easily cut. reserve 8 spears and chop the rest into 2.5cm (1 inch) lengths.

Heat oil in a frying pan and cook onion over a medium heat until soft.

Place cream. milk and eggs in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.

Place onion, cut asparagus and cheese into pastry shell then pour in egg mixture. Arrange reserved spears on top.

Bake 40 minutes, until golden and set.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Now It's #2's Turn

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 2 comments
I just got back from the Emergency Department at the local hospital. Now it's time for #2 to get sick. Nothing serious, just a virus apparently, but this mummy had a slight panic at how fast her baby's temp was going up and how red she was getting and decided that a quick trip to the E.D. was better than a terribley sick baby. She was slightly warm before dinner and very grumpy but she'd only had one sleep today - she's deciding if she still needs two sleeps a day (my vote is YES!!) or just one - so I put it down to being tired and using up lots of energy perfecting the art of walking. But, while we were eating dinner her temp went up and up and up and we watched her poor little face turn bright red, then her chest and belly and then her arms and legs. Then she started getting splotchy and then... well, I admit it. I went into panic mode. The staff at the hospital were very lovely and checked her out thoroughly - yes her temp was very high at 39.2˚C/102.5˚F, the blotchiness was fading as she cooled down so was a result of being too hot rather than anything sinister, her ears and throat were fine, and although she was obviously not very happy she was alert and responsive. There was some talk of Parvo Virus, also known as 'slap face' because that's what it looks like, but as she cooled down a bit her cheeks lost some of the redness so they decided against that. They sent me home to give her some Baby Panadol to try to relieve her temp and help her settle down a bit and now she's asleep with the air-con on. I think we are in for a fairly unsettled night but I'm relieved that it doesn't seem to be anything more than a virus. I'm off to bed to try and get some sleep in before the Baby Panadol wears off.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Have Legs, Will Walk!

Posted by MANDI at 2:07 PM 0 comments
And so says #2! She is up to about 7 steps at a time and is hugely proud of herself. We all clapped and cheered when she first started taking a couple of steps at a time. Now she claps and cheers for herself! Too cute.Here she is ready for action.

The drunken stagger is cute, the bruised forehead not-so-much! I'm sure her head will survive but I'm not quite as sure about some of my furniture LOL!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Some Craft Projects

Posted by MANDI at 7:38 PM 2 comments
I have been experimenting and trying out a few new scrapbooking/papercraft ideas. I made a tiny little gift bag, it's about 7cm tall (almost 3 inches) so would be perfect for small sized gifts, maybe jewellery and stuff like that.

I also made a cube that opens out to show photos. This was an experimental attempt so it just has a few pics from #2's birthday. I thought I might make one for each of the kids as their Christmas ornament for this year. I usually make something with their photo that can be dated and hung on the tree each year. If I do that I'll put the photos on the outside and maybe some journalling about the year on the inside. Of course, I'd use bright Christmassy colours and ribbons.

Monday, November 6, 2006

A New (to me) Easy Dinner

Posted by MANDI at 7:37 PM 0 comments
Offspring #1 is feeling much better today and, so far, the rest of us appear to have escaped this particular bug (Thank Goodness!!). Last night I was looking for something easy for dinner. I had cooked some rice for #1 to have for dinner as it would be nice and gentle on his recovering tummy and didn't want to have to make three different things for dinner - rice for him, something for Hubby and me and something else, or at least a different version of ours, for #2. As any resourceful Mummy does, I turned to the world wide web! I had rice and a tin of tuna and I figured I could find an easy dinner recipe with those ingredients fairly quickly. How true that was and an hour later we sat down to a Tuna Rice Casserole that I had cobbled together from about 4 different recipes. Not something I would have thought of making but as far as an easy dinner with next-to-no-prep, it was fine. I added some vegies and we pretty much had the food groups covered!

Red Dirt Mummy's Tuna Rice Casserole

1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen peas and corn
pepper to taste

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat. Saute onion and celery. Put all ingredients into a greased casserole dish and mix them together. Bake at 180˚C/350˚F for one hour.

Sunday, November 5, 2006


Posted by MANDI at 10:15 AM 2 comments
Offspring #1 has gastro and we have been up most of the night with him. He has had a raging temp, up to 39.7˚C/103.4˚F, for a couple of days but is cooler today and is slowly starting to feel better. He's even started asking for something to eat - a good sign. Meanwhile Offspring #2 has sprouted another tooth so her inner-monster has been more visible than normal. On the up-side of that though, only one more molar to go and then we're done. Well for a few months anyway! He is on the couch watching videos and she is asleep so I have a bit of time off.

I thought I'd share a couple of recipes from Donna's birthday party. The Olive and Parmesan Palmiers were originally a very interesting recipe that called for you to make your own olive tapenade chock-full of yumminess but since I rarely have enough time for stuff like that, and there was a note at the end of the recipe stating that you could buy ready made tapenade instead, I took the easy way and went with the bought stuff !

Olive and Parmesan Palmiers
Adapted from a recipe for Olive and Almond Palmiers in Family Circle Fabulous Finger Food

They might not look too pretty but they taste fine!

1 tub of ready made olive tapenade
¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ cup milk
Preheat the oven to moderately hot, 200˚C/400˚F. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Spread one sheet of puff pastry with half of the tapenade mix. Sprinkle half the parmesan cheese evenly over. Fold two opposite ends to meet in the centre. Fold the same way again. Brush pastry with milk. Repeat the process with the other pastry sheet and remaining ingredients.

Cut into 1.5cm thick slices. Shape the slices into a V-shape, with the two sides curving out slightly. Place the shapes on baking sheets and bake for 15-50 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature

Makes 24

Mascarpone Filled Butterfly Cakes
From a few different clippings in the Ugly Binder then put together to make these special little cakes.

Cup Cake Mix
1¾ cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
125g butter, melted
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to moderately hot 200˚C/400˚F. Line patty tins with paper cases. Place flour and sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Combine melted butter, milk eggs and essence. Stir into dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
Spoon batter into each patty cake cup, no more than two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly pressed with fingertips. Remove from oven and stand on a wire rack to cool completely.

Mascarpone Filling
250g mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g golden syrup
10g icing sugar
Spoon the mascarpone into a bowl and beat in the vanilla, then the golden syrup and icing sugar.

To assemble cakes: Using a small sharp knife cut out a shallow cone from each of the cupcakes and cut it in half. Fill the cavity with the vanilla cream. Set the 'wings' into the vanila cream at an agle, tips uppermost. If you wish you can use a dob of strawberry jam as a 'head'. Sprinkle with extra icing sugar. Set aside in a cool place.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Happy Birthday Donna!

Posted by MANDI at 10:18 AM 0 comments
Yesterday was my good friend, Donna's birthday. We have known each other for close to 20 years but have been been friends for the last 10. We actually ended up being friends when we were posted to the same school here in Red Dirt Central and have both ended up back here because of our husbands and their current jobs. We decided that we should do something nice for her birthday. There's not much worse than having your birthday on a weekday, at home with two small kids, in a town a thousand miles away from friends and family. She decided on an afternoon tea with lots of nibblie-style finger food and champagne (now you know why we ended up friends after all that time LOL!). The kids could all play and we could enjoy the afternoon before husbands arrived and then we would order Chinese for dinner. What a great plan. What a great afternoon. And what a lovely evening.

Some pics of the party table.

Clockwise from centre top:

Olive and Parmesan Palmiers, Mascarpone Butterfly Cakes, Curried Egg Sandwiches, Fruit Platter, Cheese Platter, Choc Caramel Tarts, Basil Dip, and in the centre is Sushi.

A close up with the Choc Caramel Tarts in the foreground. (I really just like this picture!)

You'd never guess there were only 4 grown-up guests to the afternoon tea from the amount of food. And yes, we did manage to consume vast quantities of it, although the husbands and the second shift of guests did assist when they arrived!
We enjoyed Watermelon Champagne Spritzers as our drink of choice through the afternoon. I forgot to take photos of them but here is the recipe, which originally came from an episode of Better Homes and Gardens a couple of years ago. They taste like summer, all zingy and bubbly and fresh and ginger-y! Yum!
Watermelon Champagne Spritzers
Remove the skin from a quarter of a watermelon. Cut the watermelon into cubes. Place the cubes in a mixing bowl and ad half a cup of green ginger wine. Give them a gentle stir and then let them sit for15 minutes or so to soak up the wine. Place the watermelon cubes in a single layer onto a baking tray. Cover with plastic wrip and place in the freezer for a couple of hours.
To serve: Place a few cubes of watermelon into each well-chilled champagne flute. Top each flute with pink champagne (or sparkling wine if you want to get fussy about origins of wine and the correct names and labels).

Thursday, November 2, 2006

A Birthday-Tea Party

Posted by MANDI at 9:19 PM 1 comments

Caramel Chocolate Tarts
Adapted from a recipe in the Ugly Binder

1 cup (150g) plain flour
90g butter, chopped
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
400g can sweetened condensed milk
30g butter, extra
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g dark chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to moderate (180˚C). Grease two 12-hole 1½ tablespoon (30ml) mini-muffin pans.
2. Blend or process flour, butter and sugar until ingredients just come together. Press level teaspoons of butter mixture into each hole of prepared pans. Bake in moderate oven about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk, extra butter and syrup in small saucepan; stir until smooth. Do not boil.
4. Pour hot caramel filling over hot bases; return to oven about 3 minutes or until caramel begins to brown around the edges. Allow to cool slightly (5-10 minutes) then, using a pointed vegetable knife, gently remove tarts from pans. (Don’t panic if they look a bit ‘damaged’ when you remove them from the pans, you’ll hide the worst of it with the melted chocolate! You'll also get better with practice) Cool on a cooling rack.
5. Spread top of cooled tarts with melted chocolate, stand until set.

Makes 24
This recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate, covered, in an airtight container.

For those of you at ‘home’ these are the caramel tarts that I made for #2’s christening last December. They are delicious and have been a hit each time I have made them. I have to admit that the first time I made them, for the aforementioned christening, I over-reacted somewhat (who, me??) when they didn't come out of the pans looking 'strore-bought' and 'professional'. Bursting into tears and declaring that the whole event was ruined may seem melodramatic to some but to the hormonal mummy of a 12 week old who was being christened the next day, followed by a self-catered lunch for 40, it seemed a fair reaction. Luckily said child's calm and sensible Nan stepped in, handed me a tissue or seven, passed me the melted chocolate to finish the tarts and assured me we that we still had time to hit the bakery if we needed to. Today's effort was far less Oscar-worthy, and having done a taste test (well, I needed something to go with my cup of tea!) I can tell you that they are just as delicious!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Offspring Stories

Posted by MANDI at 9:55 PM 2 comments
An Offspring #1 Story

#1 is very interested in numbers at the moment. He wants to know what particular numbers say, like "Mum, what is a 1 and a 7?" I have to ask if he means 1 and 7 together or 1 and 7 next to each other and then we usually have to have both answers and much discussion follows. He also likes to know 'how much' everyone is. Like he is 4 and #2 is 1 and Mummy and Daddy are 34. Anyway, yesterday he wanted to know 'how much' his kindy teacher is. I said that I thought she was 30 or 31. He thought about that for a minute. Then his eyes got really big. Then, "Wow! That's really alot. That's nearly 60!" I tried not to laugh and said, "Really?" and he replied, "Yeah, or maybe it's nearly 20. I'm not really sure." I'm pretty sure I know which one Miss Kindy Teacher would prefer LOL!
An Offspring #2 Story, in picture form.

Is she dreaming about winning a race in the Olympics of taking part in Australian Idol?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not So Slack

Posted by MANDI at 9:45 PM 2 comments

Home-style Chicken and Vegetable Pie
Adapted from a recipe in the Ugly Binder

White Sauce
30g butter
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons flour
300 ml milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 rashers bacon, chopped
500g chicken breasts, cubed
200g pumpkin, cubed
1 cup frozen peas and corn
1 zucchini, sliced
150g broccoli, cut into florets
150g cauliflower, cut into florets
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 220˚C. For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the mustard and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until golden. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan, Add the onion and bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the chicken and pumpkin, Cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Add the vegetables and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine the chicken mixture and the white sauce. Set aside to cool. Line the base of a lightly greased 23cm pie dish with a sheet of puff pastry, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Brush the rim with lightly beaten egg. Spoon the cooled filling into the pastry and top with the other sheet of pastry. Seal the pastry using a lightly floured fork. Trim off any excess and cut a steam hole in the top.
4. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Serves 6

I took chicken out of the freezer for yesterday's dinner then went with leftovers instead so needed to use the chicken breasts for tonight's meal. After my very slack attempts in the kitchen lately I purposely went looking for a chicken recipe that I hadn't made before that also had ingredients readily available in my fridge/pantry. I did pretty well, only had to ask Hubby to stop and pick up a zucchini for me. I did make a few changes to the original version of this recipe, mostly because of what I had, or rather did not have, in my fridge tonight. The end result was delicious. With a bit more seasoning (and maybe a splash of wine!) it would be a really lovely 'grown-up' dinner but as it stands, it was a very tasty and enjoyable family dinner. Offspring #2 scoffed the lot, and then tucked into some gorgeously juicy watermelon. I'm hoping this 'must eat everything in sight' will lead to a developmental spurt that includes walking! Meanwhile, Offspring #1 declared it "a bery nice dinner". I know, I really have to correct him when he mispronounces his v's as b's but it is so darn cute!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mmmm, Leftovers

Posted by MANDI at 8:16 PM 0 comments
Vegetable Patties (with a little bit of diced roast lamb!)

No recipe today, well not a real recipe anyway! I cooked lots of extra vegies with last nights roast so that we could have vegetable patties for dinner tonight. I used some of the leftover lamb in there too (a way of tricking my non-meat loving Offspring 1 into eating some meat). Basically I mashed up all the leftovers, chucked in some diced lamb, swirled a fork through to mix it all up and then rolled heaped tablespoons of mix in breadcrumbs before cooking it over a medium heat in a fry-pan. YUM! That, along with the leftover Cauliflower/Brocolli Cheese, made a delicious, nutritious and easy dinner. Everyone enjoyed it and the ice-cream cone for dessert finished it off nicely. Aaaahhh, I do enjoy being slack on the odd occasion.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Post Number 50!

Posted by MANDI at 8:33 PM 2 comments

Wow! I know lots of other bloggers have been going for so much longer than I have but I'm pretty chuffed to have hit my 50th post.

We had a yummy lamb roast, with all the extras, for dinner tonight. I was going to take a pic, just for fun, but the temptation to dig in was too great. I made an Apple Sponge Pudding for dessert but it didn't quite work out so I'm planning to do a bit of tweaking and see if I can't make it as good as it looked in the recipe book. When I read the recipe it seemed to have an awful lot of "wet" ingedients and a very small amount of flour and my suspicions proved to be correct upon cooking. The sponge topping just wouldn't cook/set and I ended up having to cook it for an hour to get it to an edible point. So less butter, a bit more flour and we should end up with something light, fluffy and apple-ey. I can almost convince myself it's good for me because it has fruit!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Welcome, baby Samuel

Posted by MANDI at 8:28 PM 0 comments

My friend, Maria, had a baby boy on Thursday night and I got to see him this morning. He is so tiny and so very lovely to cuddle.

Baby Samuel, 2 days old

Maria's husband has been travelling lots with work in the past few weeks and I was the back-up labour partner if he was too far away to get back in time. If he's not here he is generally in a town 6 hours away and her first labour was three weeks early and only lasted 3 hours so she was a little concerned. Luckily her hubby arrived home Wednesday night, she went into labour Thursday morning and baby Samuel arrived Thursday night. The kid's already got his timing organised!
In updates from Red Dirt Central:

Still hot, just getting hotter! No rain yet, although it has looked promising a couple of times this week.

Offspring #1 is doing well with the war on thumb-sucking. His thumb does still creep in from time to time but that taste reminds him and he comes rushing into the kitchen begging for a drink to wash the yukkiness away.

Offspring #2 has more teeth. Last week she got 3 teeth over 4 days and yesterday another one popped through. That makes 4 teeth in 10 days and two of them were molars - OUCH!! She's also had a cold the past few days so has been a right little monster! Thursday night I got 3 hours sleep - but not all at once! Can you say, "Mummy's a wreck"? Hubby didn't do much better then he had meetings all day, poor thing. He came home absolutely destroyed.

Have booked the dog into the kennel for our trip to Perth over Christmas (WOOOHOOOO!!! , yeah I'm kinda excited) Have also bought car DVD players to keep the kids amused for at least some of the very long drive. I wasn't totally for this but after speaking to a few of the other mums up here I changed my mind, somewhat, and gave Hubby the go-ahead. Also got #1 a cheap version of the old 'stable table' so he has something to lean on and he can play cars, draw, etc, a little more easily while travelling.

Now I'm off to watch a DVD with hubby, and I might just have to eat some popcorn and pretend it's a date!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Vegetable Delight

Posted by MANDI at 10:26 AM 2 comments
Vegetable quiche
from Family Circle's Delicious Quiches and Flans, © 1993

Preparation time: 40 minutes + 20 minutes refrigeration
Total Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 4-6

I used pre-made sheets of shortcrust pastry for the base of the quiche. Last time I made it I used regular sized pastry sheets and needed 1½ sheets to cover the dish I was using but yesterday I found jumbo sized sheets and they fitted perfectly.

100g broccoli, cut into small florets I added another 100g of cauliflower too
2 small zucchini, cut into 2cm slices
150g pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes
2 teaspoons oil
1 small red capsicum (red bell pepper) cut into 2cm squares
1 medium onion chopped
50g butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
130g can corn kernels

Preheat oven to 180˚C / 350˚F.Grease a 20cm fluted flan tin with melted butter or oil then line base and sides with pastry. Trim to fit. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper large enough to cover pastry lined dish. Cover the pastry with the paper and spread a layer of dried beans or rice evenly over the paper. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and discard paper and beans. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

To make filling:
Steam or microwave broccoli, zucchini and pumpkin (and cauliflower) until just tender. Drain. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook capsicum (red bell pepper) and onion over a medium heat until soft. Set aside. Heat butter in a small pan then add flour and stir over a low heat until flour mixture is just golden. Add milk gradually to the pan, stirring until mixture is smooth. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat in egg yolks until mixture is smooth, stir in cheddar cheese.

Place the cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Drain corn and add to vegetables along with pepper is required. Pour hot sauce over and stir to combine. Pour vegetable mixture into pastry shell and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden. Serve hot.

I have made this before and was pleased with how it turned out. Hubby had put in a request for me to cook it again to I thought I'd see if it turned out as well second time round. It did!

I made two of these last night, one for the pregnant couple from Hubby's work and the other for us. As it turned out we went to a work colleagues of Hubby for dinner so I took it along as our contribution and it was warmly welcomed and heartily enjoyed. It's always nice to have something you cook so appreciated.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Two Christmas Presents Done...

Posted by MANDI at 9:44 PM 3 comments
Umpteen more to go!

I have nearly finished the Christmas shopping but am only just starting on the plethora of home-made gifts that need to be created. As we have a three-day drive to reach the festivities this year, gifts from the kitchen have been ruled out and I have instead turned to my hand to crafty pursuits. Unfortunately I suck at craft! Luckily, as you are aware, I have discovered scrapbooking and while modestly prevents me from boasting (nah, not really!) I am better at this than any other crafts I have tried.

I have finished the Christmas presents for the Great-Grandma's. I made them both the same thing - a mini accordian album with photos of the kids. Basically it's card that is cut and folded, and where needed pasted together, to make an accordian fold then thicker cardboard is used for the front and back covers and then you decorate at will (or random, whatever your prefer!).

The Front Covers

I left the insides fairly plain. I used paint and ink to add character to the 'pages' then just a few bits of ribbon and some small bits and pieces but the main decorations are the photos of the kids (or in this case, the great-grandkids).

One of the albums laid out flat

I'm pleased with the finished result and am fairly confident that Mumma and Great-Grandma will be happy with them too.

The album on display (standing up)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Breaking The Habit

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 4 comments
My name is Red Dirt Mummy and my child sucks his thumb!
There, I said it! I have admitted that we have a problem and that is the first step to recovery. Can you tell I have watched way too many soap operas in my time?
Offspring #1 is a thumb-sucker. When he was little that was fine, it was even kind of cute. I thought it was better than a dummy (pacifier). At least when he crawled or played his thumb had to come out so he could use it to do other stuff. We knew other kids who had dummies firmly stuck in their gobs 24 hours a day. "No dummies for us!" we gloated, somewhat smugly. But somewhere along the way things changed. #1's thumb sucking took on a life of it's own and, if he sat still for more that 3.2 seconds, the thumb found it's way in. We started gently reminding him. Fat lot of good that did. Then we had a talk about how he was getting to be a big kid and big kids didn't need to suck their thumbs. Hmmpphhh! Next we put a band-aid over his thumb as a reminder not to suck it. It didn't remind him. He just worked the band-aid down so that he could suck the very tip. Finally we pulled out the big guns and bought some of the foul tasting stuff that you paint on fingers to stop thumb-sucking and nail-biting. This had some success but we (that should probably read I) stopped putting it on too soon and he went straight back.
Operation Cease That Filthy Habit (No, we don't really call it that!) has commenced today. #1's thumbs (yep both of them, I'm not taking any chances) will be painted every morning and every evening for three weeks. That is the time that I have set. At the end of three weeks I am hoping that he will have broken the habit of putting his thumb into his mouth. The thumb finds it's way in when he is worried, bored, happy, sad, in trouble, reading a book, any time at all. He does seem able to settle himself just fine so I am convinced it is the action that has become a habit rather than the act itself being comforting.
I am in no way suggesting that he doesn't derive comfort from it but at 4, and heading for pre-primary (full-time school) we need this habit gone. There are a number of reasons I think he should stop (1) I really don't want him to get teased at school because of it, (2) Who know what he has been touching and then sticking his finger in his mouth? and (3) because we know a couple of kids who are several years older and still committed thumb-suckers. It is playing havoc on their teeth and Mum and Dad are already footing the dental bills to correct the damage in one case. It also stops being cute and, to me, looks a little off once they get past a certain age/height/developmental stage.
So wish us luck and, without flaming me please, offer up any suggestions or advice you might have.
PS Yes #2 has a dummy, for bed only. I was adamant that she wouldn't get one and caved the first night home from hospital when she was still awake and screaming at midnight! About 4 minutes of gentle rocking later she was fast asleep and peaceful for the first time that day. No doubt we will have to fight our battles over that later but we have learnt a few things along the way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Fine Mess!

Posted by MANDI at 6:53 PM 4 comments
Anzac Biscuits

½ cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup flour
125g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 level teaspoon bi carbonate soda

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and golden syrup over medium heat.
Add soda to boiling water then add mix to the melted butter. (be careful, it froths up)
Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients, mix well.
Drop into small pieces on an oven slide lined with baking paper.

Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. They will be quite soft when they come out of the oven, don’t worry, they’ll crisp up.

I have no idea what I did wrong. I wouldn't normally follow a recipe to make these as I have made them so many times but after yesterday's humiliation I checked and rechecked each ingredient. At the end it all looked good but still wouldn't hold together to make nice biscuits, just crumbly blobs that fell apart on the baking paper. I figured I would do the same as yesterday and turn it into a slice. It turned out fine, I just cooked it for a little bit extra, although it's kind of crumbly. But it was very nice with an afternoon cup of tea and even better with some ice-cream after dinner.

I know this isn't exactly the post to inspire you to rush and make these but I'm going to have another go in a week or so and see what I have been doing wrong so hopefully I'll be able to post pictures of gorgeous golden Anzac biscuits. I'm also going to buy new bi carb because I have a sneaking suspision that what I have is quite old and maybe it's time to get some "fresh" stuff (*Does bi carb go 'off'?).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A "Head-In-The-Clouds" Day!

Posted by MANDI at 8:54 PM 0 comments

Potato Bake
from the back of the soup can!

1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1x420g can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
¾ cup milk
Black pepper, to taste
½ cup fresh or ¼ cup dried breadcumbs
½ cup grated tasty cheese

Preheat ovent to 220˚C. Lightly grease an 8-cup ovenproof, microwave safe dish
Evenly layer potatoes in prepared dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.
Meanwhile, combime soup, milk and pepper. Pour evenly over the potatoes, gently shaking the dish to allow the mixture to run through the potato layers.
Combine cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and golden.

We had a BBQ for dinner and I wanted something to pep it up just a little bit. Meat and salad gets a bit boring after a while. I remembered I had a can of soup of in the pantry and .... here we have something a bit tasty for dinner.

I feel like I am cheating badly by blogging this super-easy, straight-off-the-back-of-the-can recipe but what I had planned to blog didn't quite work out. I attempted to make a batch of Anzac biscuits (cookies for the Americans). "What?" I hear you cry. "How can you mess up Anzac biscuits?" Let's just say my head wasn't quite where it should have been. The funniest part is that I couldn't work out what was wrong with the mix. Did I add too many oats? Did I need more butter to bind it all together? There was no way that mixture was going to stick together to make biscuits so I improvised and put it into a baking tray to make an Anzac slice. It came out dripping butter and although quite tasty wasn't quite right. About an hour later it hit me - I forgot to add the flour! How can you forget to add flour to a recipe for biscuits? I don't really know but I'm fully prepared to blame the offspring for lack of any better excuse LOL.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Vegies for dinner

Posted by MANDI at 1:52 PM 1 comments

Vegetable Lasagna
from Healthy Eating for Kids by Anita Bean ©2004

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red capsicum (red bell pepper), chopped
60g mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini (courgette), chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil I had fresh basil so used that
salt and pepper
1 tin (400g) red kidney beans
400g passata (smooth sieved tomatoes)
85g mature cheddar, grated
9 sheets instant lasagna I used fresh lasagna sheets

Pre-heat oven to 180˚C.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion for 3-4 minutes. Add other vegetables and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Add basil, salt, pepper, kidney beans and passata. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.

Lay a layer of lasagna sheets at the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Cover with one third of the bean mixture. Continue layering finishing with bean mixture.

Sprinkle over with cheddar and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Serves 4

I fully admit that the photo of today's dish is shockingly bad! I acutally fogot to take photos until I had served dinner and none of the plates looked 'pretty' enough to photograph so I resorted to taking a photo of what was left in the baking dish.
I found this recipe in a cookbook I recently borrowed from the library. While I wasn't particulary impressed with the cookbook I did grab a couple of recipes to try. I'm sure that Italian traditionalists would be horrified by this particular recipe but it was easy to make, reasonably quick and quite tasty.

I made two of these last night. Hubby's work colleague has a wife in the early stages of pregnancy and suffering badly from all-day morning sickness. Having been there myself I have much sympathy for what they are going through. They already have two kids, aged 5 and 2, and poor H is sick all day and all night. B is doing the best he can juggling everything but the emergency troops (his mum, from the US, for a few weeks and then her mum, from 10 hours north of here, for as much longer as is needed) don't arrive until next week. I offered to cook them a few meals but have to admit that them being vegetarian did kind of stump me. I do know (and make) some lovely vegetarian dishes but they tend to be "make and serve" kind of dishes rather than make and deliver for reheating some time later. Then I remembered this one. I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn't made it before but figured it sounded okay and I'd just see how it looked/smelt while I was making it. Anyway, B was so pleased when I dropped it off and then rang after dinner to thank me for it and let me know how much they had all enjoyed it. His kids ate it with no complaints and H even managed a small serving and said to tell me how nice it was. Next week I'm planning to make a vegetable quiche for them (and for us too!).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just for Jen

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 2 comments
After last night's post Jen requested (okay, demanded LOL!) pics. I attempted to take some nice photos of my 'pretty' girl tonight after dinner but... let's just say I wasn't real successful. But, just for Jen, here are some pics of Offspring #2

An action shot! Not what I intended but she thought it was pretty funny.

She was there a second ago! As I pressed the button #2 sat down in a hurry.

The 'best' shot out of about 20. You can't see the tooth she got Tuesday night (it's next to the front right) but you can see the one that came through today! To be honest, and admit to my poor mothering skills, I just thought she was being a grump because she tired as her morning nap was interrupted. It wasn't till I looked at this photo on the computer that I saw the new tooth. Oops!

And yes, she does have her two bottom teeth, they are just hiding.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Posted by MANDI at 9:38 PM 1 comments
Last night Offspring #2 was having a hard time settling down for the night. She went off to bed as usual: she had her bottle, I changed her nappy(diaper!) , she had both dummies (pacifiers!) -one for mouth and the other for her hand. No problems. But 20 minutes later she was crying and needed re-settling. This went on every half hour or so until about 11pm when I was ready to call it a day and give her some baby Panadol - there was obviously something hurting, I just couldn't work out what it was. As I was reaching this decision whatever was bothering her seemed to stop and she settled into a proper sleep and we didn't hear from her again until 6am this morning - horrifically early but wake up time in the house of Red Dirt. Yay, no medicine needed and we all got some decent sleep. Anyway, I was getting her dressed this morning when she gave me her usual big goofy grin. I grinned back and then realised... there was an extra tooth in that smile!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bland and Boring

Posted by MANDI at 3:41 PM 4 comments

Crunchy CousCous-Coated Chicken
From the Ugly Binder

1¼ cups (250g) couscous
1¼ cups (310ml) boiling water
600g chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk

Combine couscous with the water in a large heatproof bowl. Cover; stand 5 minutes or until water is absorbed, fluffing with a fork occasionally.
Toss Chicken in flour; shake away excess. Dip chicken in small bowl containing combined egg and milk. Toss chicken in couscous; place on tray. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Heat oil in large non-stick frypan; cook chicken in batches until browned both sides and cooked through. Serve with salad.

Serves 4

This is another recipe that has been sitting in the Ugly Binder for some time. I have looked at this so many times and thought that it looked good but the reality was.... well, not quite so good. It was bland, it was boring, and the bits that weren't in direct contact with the fry-pan were wet and squooshy - cooked but not pleasant. As Hubby said, "It seems like you went to an awful lot of effort to cook something that tastes the same as if you hadn't done anything to it!". Needless to say, I won't be making this one again but I am glad I tried it.

On the positive side of things, I have an empty space in the Ugly Binder that needs filling so now I have an excuse to read more foodie magazines LOL!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We Entertained!

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 1 comments
At home we often have friends over for a Sunday lunch, a bbq, drinks and nibbles, an early dinner on a school night, etc, but since moving here we haven't really had much opportunity. It's not helped by the fact that we don't know too many people. Anyway, Offspring #1's teacher, J, is an old 'drinking buddy' from when Hubby and I were up this way last time round - she arrived in Red Dirt Central around the same time as us. Her partner was transferred up here and at the same time an extra teacher was needed in town so it all worked out rather nicely. We were both pleasantly surprised when we met at the school's Information Session for the new class that had been created. Anyway, I had promised to catch up with her over the holidays and of course the holidays finish tomorrow... so I rang Friday morning and asked if she and her partner would like to come over for a drink that night.
We decided that rather than cooking dinner I'd do nibblies but make them reasonably substantial. Have I mentioned that I love cooking? It makes me happy. It relaxes me. And it's even better when I get to make a bunch of little bits and pieces. Sorry, no photos today - we ate it all way to fast to stop and take pics LOL. I made herbed meatballs (which we had with sweet chilli sauce), bacon and leek spirals and a focacia to go with the olive tapenade I had in the fridge. I bought some marinated chicken wings and also did a cheese platter. Those of you who know me well know that I don't really need an excuse for dessert, and it's even better if I can work chocolate into it.Since we were only having nibblies rather than a proper meal I had to give this some serious thought but finally came up with... choclate fondue! I found a new recipe so we tried that and it was an absolute winner - 250g block of chocolate, half a bag of marshmellows, half a cup of thickened cream. It was delicious! To top it off we enjoyed some very nice WA wines too.
The kids were angels and went to bed with no arguments, we enjoyed some 'grown-up' company and I felt like a normal person instead of a tired mummy with no social life. Yay for entertaining.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anyone For Pie?

Posted by MANDI at 7:56 AM 1 comments
Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pie
From the Ugly Binder
(torn out of
The Australian Women’s Weekly, July 1999)

1 medium leek, sliced
60g butter
¼ cup plain flour
200g button mushrooms
only had about 130g
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley didn’t have any so I left this out
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk, extra
3 sheets of pre-prepared puff pastry I used store bought frozen stuff

To prepare leek, remove dark green top and root end; cut leek in half lengthways. Hold leek under running water, opening leaves to allow water to flow between leaves and rinse away grit. Or swish in a bowl of water until clean.
Heat butter in large pan; cook mushrooms, stirring, until browned lightly. Add leek, cook, stirring, until leek is soft. Stir in flour and stock powder, stirring, one minute. Gradually stir in milk, then mustard; cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, chicken and pepper, cool. (I didn’t let mine cool, I just went straight on)
Place chicken mixture in an oiled 1.75 litre (7-cup capacity) ovenproof dish. Brush rim of dish with a little of the combined egg yolk and milk. To make a double edge of pastry for the pie (this gives the pastry a bit more puff) cut a strip about 1.5cm (about ½ and inch) and long enough to fit the top of the ovenproof dish. Gently press pastry strip onto the rim of the dish; brush pastry rim with water.
Place remaining pastry over pie; trim edge with sharp knife. Scallop the edge of the pie, if desired, by pressing an upturned teaspoon into the pastry. Brush pastry top lightly with more egg yolk mixture.
Using a sharp knife, mark the sides of the pastry so it ‘puffs’ more during baking. Place dish on an oven tray, bake in very hot oven (240˚C/500˚F) for 15 minutes; reduce heat to moderate (180˚C/350˚F), bake further 10 minutes or until browned.

Serves 4-6
Suitable to freeze
Not suitable to microwave

I tried a new recipe last night. I had a bunch of chicken mince (ground chicken) that I wanted to use up and had also scored 3 leeks for $1 on the clearance veg trolley at the supermarket so decided to make this pie and serve it with some vegies. I just cooked the chicken mince first and put it aside until the recipe called for it. Despite the huge amount of instructions this was actually easy to make. I was having a bit of a panic because Offspring #1 and I had been out to visit a kindy friend and arrived home a little later than I had planned but this was done inside an hour, from the beginning prep to on the table! I was pretty impressed with that. I have included the leek prep instructions for those of you who said you hadn’t cooked with leeks before – maybe armed with this info you might be willing to tackle them.

This was a hit with the whole family - Hubby was very vocal in his appreciation, Offspring #2 scarfed the lot and Offspring #1 declared that the black bits were yukky but the rest was okay (once I removed the offending mushrooms from his serve all was well with the world).

As a special treat I brushed the leftover pastry with water and sprinkled it with raw sugar then baked it for about 15 minutes. The pastry “wafers” cooled while we ate dinner then we had them with vanilla ice-cream and fresh juicy sweet strawberries. #2 just got strawberries (what a mean Mummy!) but she thought they were pretty darn fine and they quickly disappeared. We know she’s enjoyed something when we can’t find any remains in her highchair LOL.

And no, I don’t generally keep recipes torn from magazines for 7 years before trying them! I found this in an old magazine about a year ago and I have made the recipe on the reverse page (for bacon and egg pie) a few times.


On The Sunny Side Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Emocutez