Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now That He's 7

Posted by MANDI at 8:57 PM 3 comments
and he has a really cool BMX bike... there'll be no stopping him!

In typical kid style his birthday will last several days. He turned 7 yesterday amid presents, birthday cake at school and special spag-bol birthday dinner. More presents arrived in the mail today and he's having a small party with some school-friends on Saturday. More photos will follow...

Happy Birthday Mr-7! Lots of love, Mum xxx

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Know...

Posted by MANDI at 9:18 PM 2 comments
Brussels Sprouts aren't that bad. Really. Well, they're not that bad so long as you disguise them with potatoes, garlic, mustard and cream, along with a few other things.

Hubby loves Brussels sprouts while the kids and I loathe them. Loathe. Them. However, in the interests of marital harmony I do, on occasion, try to cook things that I know will make Hubby happy and when I saw this recipe in the new issue of donna hay magazine I thought I might be able to kill two birds with one stone. The Brussel's sprouts part would please Hubby's taste-buds while the rest of the ingredients would drown out, or at least lessen the impact of, their flavour. If all else failed I figured I could just pick off the offending sprouts and leave the potato part for the kids and I.

I worried needlessly! This was tasty, the sprouts soaked up the other flavours nicely and everyone in the house ate their whole serving. I swapped around a couple of ingredients based on what was I had to hand but I don't think those changes made much overall difference. We ate this with oven-baked crumbed lamb cutlets and steamed carrots and fresh-from-our-garden broccoli. This dish will be making a repeat appearance at our table. Like I said, Brussels sprouts aren't that bad.

Brussels Sprouts and Potato Gratin
from donna hay magazine, June/July 2009

350g sebago (starchy) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (umm, they were potatoes)*
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
200g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/3 cup single (pouring) cream (I only had double cream so I used that)
1/3 cup chicken stock (the beef stock was already open)
2 teaspoons hot English mustard (I used Dijon)
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Layer potato in a 2 cup-capacity oven-proof dish (I used a pie-dish, it was fine) , sprinkle with thyme and top with the sprouts.** Place the cream, stock, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour over the potato mixture. Place on a baking tray and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the potato is tender and sprouts are golden.

*WA has the most ridiculous regulations about potatoes that can be sold in shops. Until quite recently we basically were allowed to buy one type of potato - we can grow whatever we can get our hands on but we can't buy or sell them. It's crazy, annoying and stupid. But it's what we have so generally I'm using what is sold as "washed potatoes" - yep, huge description there. Look, it's getting slightly better - we have about three varieties of potatoes available now!
* I was running late with dinner and threw the potato, thyme and sprouts in the microwave for 8 minutes to semi-cook then poured the cream mix over and baked it for about 25 minutes. It worked a treat.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet and Healthy

Posted by MANDI at 9:44 PM 2 comments
Here in Australia we don't tend to use pumpkin in sweet dishes. We bake it, roast it, steam it and mash it. We use it in frittatas and vegie slice. We sometimes use a bit of leftover mashed pumpkin to whip up a batch of pumpkin scones but that's about it for sweet stuff. Until now. I made these Pumpkin and Sultana Muffins a week or so ago and they were a big hit with everyone who tried them. My kids loved them and the across-the-roads son told me, very seriously, that they were really delicious and that I should give the recipe to his Mum because she'd like them. A lot. I filled her in and, since she picked up a copy of the same magazine, she's planning to give them a try too.

These were fabulously light and fluffy fresh from the oven but not so fab the next day. I have two suggestions to deal with this. 1. Eat the whole lot the same afternoon you make them. Or 2. Eat what you want then put the extras in the freezer for later in the week.

One minor disappointment was that a lot of the cooked muffin stuck to the paper case. I'm going to try adding an extra tablespoon of vegetable oil next time and see if that helps.

Pumpkin and Sultana Muffins
Coles magazine, Winter issue. 2009

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sultanas
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper patty cases.
2.Combine flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together milk, egg and oil. Add to flour with sultanas and pumpkin. Mix together, until just combined.
3. Fill prepared cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Peach Of A Dessert

Posted by MANDI at 7:20 PM 1 comments
Clafoutis is a French pudding that's usually made with cherries, though sometimes with other fresh fruits. I'm not a big fan of cherries but have made an apple cloufatis before and thought it was nice but this one, using tinned peaches, is about a hundred times better. The apple one was more cake-like and much heavier where this one was like a baked custard in texture. When I decided to try it I was a little concerned after Poh bombed out with a clafoutis on Masterchef this week but I had no worries. It's light, sweet and easy to put together. All I can say is: make this. It's fantastic!

Jamie Oliver's Nan's Peach Clafoutis
delicious. June issue

1/4 cup plain flour

5 tablespoons caster sugar (preferable golden)

3 large (70g) eggs, beaten
450ml milk
1 whole nutmeg, for grating (I used ground, from a jar. About 1/2 tsp)
50g unsalted butter
400g can peach halves in juice, drained (I could only find peach slices)
good quality vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Preheat your oven to 220C. In a bowl, add the flour, 3 tablespoons caster sugar and a pinch of sea salt to the beaten eggs. Mix well, then put aside. Warm the milk in a saucepan until lukewarm, then stir this into the egg mixture. Grate in about 1/4 of the nutmeg.

Grease a shallow baking dish with butter, put the drained peaches on the bottom, them pour the egg batter over them. Dot the remaining butter on top in little knobs.

Pop the baking dish in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until the egg has set but still has a slight wobble to it. Sprinkle over the remaining caster sugar and serve with a good spoonful of ice-cream on the top. Absolutely delicious!

*Please ignore the slightly crazed layout of this recipe. It's Blogger, not me. Honestly!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Posted by MANDI at 7:18 PM 0 comments
Hubby was working in the yard today when he heard a massive "crrrrr-ACK!" and then the ominous sound of branches falling. He raced past the back door checking that I knew where the kids were as last he'd seen them they'd been playing all over the yard. After assurances that they were safe and sound in their rooms playing he headed down the back to investigate.

A tree that is technically the neighbours but overhangs both yards had had enough of the rain and wind and literally split in half. Half was in the neighbours yard and the other half was draped artistically across the woodshed.

So Hubby did what he loves to do - solve problems - and used used one of his favourite 'toys' to do it - the chainsaw - and cleared away the mess. And, if you look hard, you can see his little buddy was there to lend a hand.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Almost A Convert

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 1 comments
As a kid I hated corned beef. Also known as silverside, I thought it was just about the most disgusting, revolting meal that could be served up. Okay, sausages were pretty high on that list too but corned beef well and truly won in the "I'm not eating that and you can't make me" stakes. Mum always made plenty of white sauce to go with it and that was about the only thing that got me through.

But as prices rise and paychecks don't spread quite as far I'm starting to look for more economical meals. Corned beef is mentioned in just about every article on cheap cuts of meat, economical eating and cutting costs on groceries but I managed to ignore them and work out a whole bunch of other meals instead. One night I asked Hubby about his thoughts on corned beef and when he confessed to loving it (but never actually mentioning that in the 12+ years I've known him!) I finally gave up and caved in. I found a recipe for corned beef in the slow cooker and figured I'd give it a whirl.

This was fantastic! I really enjoyed it, which surprised the heck out of me, and so did the rest of the family. I made a really cheesy white sauce to go with it (just in case I still thought it was disgusting but had to pretend to like it for the kids) and some vegies to go along with it. See the broccoli in the photo? It's from our garden. Superb!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef
from the recipe pamphlet for the George Foreman Slow Cooker

1 silverside roast (1-1.5kg)
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
200ml beef stock
3/4 cup tomato juice
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
sprig of thyme ( I used dried thyme)
4 cloves, to taste (didn't have any)
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare vegetables. Trim the meat of excess fat. Heat oil and butter in a large pan and brown meat on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker. Add vegetables to the pan and saute for a few minutes, add the stock and tomato juice and bring to the boil. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Add the vegetable and stock mix to the slow cooker and add cloves, herbs and salt/pepper.
Cook on high for 7 - 9 hours or low for 8 - 10 hours (my slow cooker is not a George Foreman, I cooked the meat on high for almost 10 hours). Slice meat thickly and serve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

(Not Exactly) Work Boots

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 1 comments
But she loves them. Mostly she loves them because they're pink. I love them because they're just darn cute.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Something Different

Posted by MANDI at 8:49 PM 1 comments
One of the big supermarket chains puts out a free quarterly magazine with recipes, product reviews and the odd discount coupon. I actually do enjoy reading each issue and usually find a recipe or two that sound okay but I rarely get around to making them. Generally it finds its way into the bag of unwanted mags that I give to school or day-care and I move onto the next foodie mag that comes my way. The current issue however changed all that. I picked it up last Saturday and flicked through it that afternoon, circling a bunch of different recipes and plotting when I would make each one. A week and a half later I've made three. Each one a success that will be served up again. Soon.

Last night I tried a dish that wouldn't normally appeal to me at all. It ticks a bunch of "I don't like it" boxes for me but... I knew hubby would like it so I compromised, cooked it and was pretty impressed with the results. I used half the curry paste listed and will increase it next time. This was tasty, filling, and something out of the ordinary for me. It was also riduculously easy to make which certainly added to the overall dish. Hubby liked it, and was pleased to let his tastebuds have a run at something different, I enjoyed it (and was pleased to have done so!) and Mr-Six loved it. Little Miss has a cold and isn't into eating dinner right at the moment so we'll just skip over her non-opinion.

Indian-Style Curried Lamb Shanks

Coles magazine, Winter issue

1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 lamb shanks (I used 4 HUGE ones)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup Rogan Josh Curry Paste (as noted above, I used 1/4 cup)
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
coriander leaves and yoghurt, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Heat the oil in a 10-cup capacity flameproof casserole dish. Brown the shanks in 2 batches over high heat on stove top; set aside. Add onion to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until very soft and brown.
2. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil. Return lamb shanks to the pan, cover tightly and bake for 2 hours in oven, until the mat is very tender.
3. Top shanks with coriander and serve with yoghurt.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Love Where We Live

Posted by MANDI at 8:39 PM 1 comments
It's true. I love where we live. Not just our little house but the street, the block, the neighbourhood, the whole darn hill. I love the trees. I love that the neighbours tend to be, well, a little bit more neighbourly than where some of my friends live. I love the peace and quiet - except for the incredibly noisy kookaburras playing in the front yard this morning. Scratch that. I love that we live somewhere that the incredibly noisy kookaburras play in the front yard.

And I love that when the kids yell at me to grab my camera because there is something amazing in the street I know what's getting them all excited and comply with their wishes.

Doesn't mean I'll get the shot though!

Still didn't get it but at least you get the idea...

And then we ran like lunatics down to the gate to try for some pictures of the amazing-ness.

Yep. Horses go down our street. Quite regularly. But it still gets the kids 19 different kinds of excited. Love it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Winter Warmer

Posted by MANDI at 9:45 PM 2 comments
The food side of things has been a little slack around here lately. And by 'around here' I mean both here on the blog and here in my house. Oh we've been eating all right. Lots of chocolate mostly! Seriously. LOTS of chocolate. But real food? Hmmm...

When I found this recipe I planned to tweak it a little and do it in the slow cooker but between the school run, a trip to the chemist, painting Mr Six's bedroom and a hair appointment the morning kind of got away from me. With not enough time to do the slow cooker thing I ended up having to... get ready to gasp in horror... follow the recipe!

This was fabulous. I don't tend to have fantastic results with stove-top cooked casserole type dishes but this turned out perfectly. It was delicious, tender, filling and just all round good. And the scones on top were a big hit. I didn't have any fresh thyme so I made mine Rosemary Scones instead. Fabulous. Yep, it's another to add to the repeat list.

Beef Hotpot with Thyme Scones
from Good Taste magazine, August 2008

2 Tbsp olive oil
800g beef chuck steaks, cut into 2cm pieces
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp plain flour
250ml (1 cup) beef stock
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled, halved, thickly sliced (I added about the same amount of beans)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Thyme Scones
225g (1 1/2 cups) self raising flour
30g butter, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
125ml (1/2 cup) milk

1. Heat half the oil in a flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with the remaining beef.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Heat the remaining oil in the dish. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until onion softens Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add the stock. Stir with a flat-edged wooden spoon to dislodge any bits that have cooked onto the base. Add the beef, tomato, carrot (and beans) and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender.
4. Meanwhile, to make the scones, preheat oven to 190C. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the milk. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until just combined. Use your hands to bring dough together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
5. Arrange the scones on top of the beef mixture. Bake in oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown. Serve immediately.

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