Monday, February 23, 2009

Magazine Monday: My First Time!

Posted by MANDI at 8:22 PM 1 comments
One of my favourite blogs is Cream Puffs in Venice. Yvonne creates dishes I can only dream of, she's a Daring Baker, heck she's one of THE Daring Bakers and she takes the most gorgeous photos of her creations. I can frequently be found drooling over her creations. She's also the creator of Magazine Monday which, according to Yvonne, is more of a self-help tactic than anything else and a way of actually cooking and baking rather than storing recipes for all eternity.
I've been wanting to join in with Magazine Monday for ages. Probably since about.... when it started. But I never quite manage to get myself organised. Yes, I do pick up lots of recipes from magazines and I do get around to cooking an awfully high number of them. I even blog about the majority of them but blogging about them on a Monday eluded me for some time. I made this dish towards the end of last week and knew that, finally, I could join in with.... drumroll please... MAGAZINE MONDAY.
We all enjoyed this pasta dish, my only complaint was that it needed a little more sauce but this is probably due to it being assembled on Thursday night before sitting in the fridge until I cooked it when I got in from work the next night. And as usual, though the recipe says it serves 4 it did my family twice over. I'm sure the purists will be horrified by the simplicity of this recipe but we thought it was fine. I've made cannelloni before and this is the easiest version I've come across and it pleased the palates of the four who sit at my table so, once again, it's a winner for me. Sadly, we were in such a hurry to eat on Friday night that I've just searched my camera and realised that I didn't take any pics so I'll just say that it looked like any other cannelloni dish - pasta tubes, filled, and covered in tomato and cheese.
Baked Chicken Cannelloni
from Australian Table, August 2008
Serves 4
12 cannelloni tubes
1 1/2 cups tomato passata
1/3 cup chicken stock
Chicken filling
500g chicken mince (ground chicken for you Americans and Canadians)
1 cup (200g) ricotta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 cup grated parmesan
1. Cook cannelloni in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water according to packet directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside. (Seriously??? I have never done this. I bought the smaller cannelloni tubes because that's what I could get when I raced into the shop. I used the whole packet and because they sat overnight they were appropriately 'soggy' upon serving).
2. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Grease a 30cm x 20cm ovenproof baking dish. Combine passata and stock in a large jug. Pour half of passata mixture into prepared dish.
3. To make filling, combine chicken mince, ricotta, oil, parsley and half of parmesan in a bowl and season. Fill cannelloni tubes with mince mixture, using a piping bag or teaspoon (I used a ziplock bag and snipped the corner off). Arrange in a single layer in prepared dish and spoon over remaining passata mixture, Sprinkle with remaining parmesan, Bake for 40 minutes, until bubbling and golden.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kid Food

Posted by MANDI at 9:54 PM 3 comments
This is one of the recipes I made a while ago but hadn't got around to blogging. It's definitely not gourmet but the kids enjoyed it and, just quietly, the adults in the house did too. It's fun, it's easy and it was a hit. That makes it a winner in my books.

Mini Meat Pies
Fast Kids Food

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g lean beef mince
425g can crushed tomatoes
220g can baked beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 sheets ready0-rolled puff pastry, thawed
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to very hot 240C and put a baking tray on the top shelf. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the beef mince and brown, breaking up any lumps with the back of a fork.

2. Add the tomatoes, baked beans and tomato paste. Boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly.

3. Meanwhile, lightly grease 6 x 1-cup muffin holes (my muffin tray has half cup muffin holes so I made 12 min-mini meat pies).

4. Using a 14cm sauce as a guide, cut 6 circles from the pastry sheets . (Adjust the size of your pastry circles according to the size of your muffin holes). Cut a small 'V' starting from the centre of each circle to the edge, about 2cm wide at the edge. Overlap the cut out section to fit the pastry into each tin and press the join together firmly.
5. Spoon the mixture into the pastry and divide the cheese between the pies. Place on the baking tray in the oven and bake on the top shelf for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and the pastry is cooked.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just Because

Posted by MANDI at 8:32 PM 4 comments
Because he's my gorgeous boy. Who is funny. And cute. And cuddly. And trying so hard to grow up before I'm ready to let him. And I love him with every little bit of my being.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Conversation in Confusion

Posted by MANDI at 8:34 PM 5 comments
Scene: Red Dirt Mummy and Offspring #2 are leaving the local library after story-time. Today's stories have been about various forms of transport and the children have made an aeroplane as their craft activity.
Offspring #2: (while being helped into the car) Me did make a good plane.
Red Dirt Mummy: Yes #2, you did make a good plane.
#2: Me did make my own plane
RDM: Yes, but we say I not me sweetie. I did make a plane.
#2: Noooo, me did make the plane.
RDM: No honey, I did make the plane.
#2: No Mummy! ME did make the plane.
RDM: Yes, but honey remember? We say I made the plane.
#2: No Mummy No! We don't tell that you maked it! ME DID MAKE THE PLANE!!!!!!
RDM: (exhausted) Okay honey.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Catching Up On All The News

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 4 comments
Not that there's too much to catch up on! And I'm not sure what I've already told you...
Did I tell you that we finally got a referral for Offspring #2 to see a specialist about her asthma? And we don't even have to wait too long till the appointment, it's in about a month. The doctor is a paediatrician who has a special interest in asthma and allergies and, while I've heard conflicting reports on his manner, I'm so pleased that we might get some answers.
Did I tell you that Offspring #1 had a fantastic start to the school year? His new teacher is older, experienced and appears to be totally on-the-ball. She held a parent-teacher information session so I've signed up to help out with reading one morning a week - partly because I actually want to and partly because it gives me a chance to see how the classroom operates and what she's like as a teacher. She's already okay in my books: she took me aside to say how impressed she was with #1's manners and that he is beautifully behaved. Of course I was very happy to hear this!
Did I tell you I started my new job? I started a few weeks ago - it's still in education, specifically vocational education but working with schools rather than in schools. I've cut down to two days/week. Actually that's a little misleading, I wanted to cut down to 2 days/week and this position ended up being that so it worked out rather nicely.
I just told you I'd cut down to working 2 days/week but did I tell you that I'm loving only working 2 days/week? LOVING IT! I've got both kids doing swimming lessons, we have time for after-school play dates and #2 and I are able to attend Story-time at the local library. My house is clean, I'm caught up on the washing and I don't feel guilty when I take some time to bake or read or have coffee with a friend. I feel like I've got some control back over my life and I'm running it instead of running after it!
Hmmm... that's all the news.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Posted by MANDI at 1:57 PM 3 comments
At least that's what I think she was telling me. What a shame I wasn't listening...

Score? Mum: 1 / Offspring #2: 0

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back In The Kitchen

Posted by MANDI at 9:31 PM 0 comments
I actually have a bunch of recipes that I've tried lately, been impressed with and not quite got around to blogging about yet. They're coming, I promise.

I tried a couple of new but very very easy ideas with dinner tonight. They both came from my new Donna Hay book and they were both a big hit. The first one was ridiculously simple - dried porcini mushrooms with some sea salt, crushed/processed/smashed to a fine 'dust'. You simply sprinkle whatever meat you're cooking with the 'dust', cook it however you like and, if you wish, once it's cooked give the meat an extra sprinkle. We had bbq-ed steak and it was great. We'll definitely be doing that one again.

The second recipe was just as simple and just as tasty. I'm not a big fan of coleslaw generally though Offspring #1 would consume vast amounts daily if I let him. This slaw recipe doesn't have the bite of a regular coleslaw and that suited me just fine. This will also be gracing our table again, and probably soon.

Apple Slaw
from No Time To Cook by Donna Hay

1 green apple, coarsely grated
1 cup shredded white cabbage
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey

Combine the apple, cabbage and chives. Mix mayonnaise and honey together, pour over the slaw and toss to coat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good News

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 4 comments
In the middle of the devastation of the Victoria bush-fires we have heard from various family members through the state. The farming cousin lives in Taggerty, not one of the worst hit areas but still suffering from loss of houses, property and lives. The fire burnt right up to his fenceline but his farm and house were saved and all of his family are safe. The girlfriend of a cousin on the other side of the family, though now living in the city, is also from Taggerty and her family's farm has been destroyed. The land is burnt and the house is gone but the family are safe.
We have been watching it all on the news and I keep crying as I see the destruction and loss and hear the stories of those who have survived. It is being reported that 5000 people are homeless and 181 people have died so far. If you're in Australia you'll already know that there are lots of different appeals for people affected. Most of the banks are taking donations, the Red Cross has set up a hotline for donations, there's to be a celebrity-type appealathon later in the week, churches are taking donations of goods and Coles has announced that all profits from this Friday's trading will be donated. If you're in a position to help, no matter how small you think the assistance is, please do. Hubby and I decided that we'd donate the amount that we would have spent on flowers, presents, a nice meal, etc for Valentine's Day. I figure we'll be together in our own house, safe and sound this Valentine's Day and it seems the least we can do.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Posted by MANDI at 9:03 PM 2 comments
We've been out on the boat today and I was planning a happy and light post about our day but since arriving home we've watched the news and seen the updates on the fires in Victoria and I'm kind of not in the mood to post light and happy anymore.
The death toll is up in the 80's now, there are so many fires burning and so many homes lost. Entire towns have been destroyed. The enormity is overwhelming and this is something that's happening all the way on the other side of the country. One of my cousins over there is a fire-fighter - he's fine but knows people who have lost family members in separate fires. Another cousin has a farm up in one of the areas where we know other farms and houses have been destroyed and we are waiting to hear of news from him. An elderly aunt is in a town that is being used as an evacuation centre, we're waiting to hear from her too but at least we figure she's safe there. It's predicted that the death toll will rise, particularly as areas that have been inaccessible are searched. The high temperatures and strong winds have whipped the fire up into an uncontrollable force but the very worst thing is that most of the fires were deliberately lit. I'm not normally one for capital punishment, or torture. But, I can't think of anything shouldn't be done to the people responsible for this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hooray Hooray

Posted by MANDI at 1:59 PM 2 comments
School is back today! After seven weeks of summer holidays Offspring #2 is at school.
I love school holidays - truly. I love long lazy mornings. Not rushing to get everyone out of the house. Staying in my pj's. Not worrying about a few (or more!) late nights. LOVE IT!
But, gosh. It's nice to get back to normal and I'm really looking forward to the return of some routine around this place.

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