Monday, June 25, 2012

meal planning monday

This week we have:

Monday: Satay Chicken with veggies and rice
Tuesday: Quiche & Salad
Wednesday: Ravioli with Bacon & Tomato sauce

Short week you say?

The boys break-up from school on Thursday and have a disco on at school that evening, so dinner will be something light, and with Friday being the first day of the holidays, we'll just take it as it comes and enjoy the break from the school-week routine.

I generally print out 2 copies of "the plan" - one goes on the fridge and the other in my diary. This way the kids can keep an eye on whats coming up and I know what I need to have prepped for the following day etc and can work the required shopping/cooking into my day. Aside from the financial savings associated with efficient grocery shopping, the most dramatic effect of the weekly meal plan is the way it cuts down on the general whinging that can go around meals and food in general.

I tend to include breakfast and afternoon tea, as well as dinner, in the plan. This means that the kids know what is coming up during the week (if one of them isn't that mad on whats for dinner one night, then they can see that they really like what is coming up the next night). It also means that in the mornings, they can get up and check whats on the plan for breakfast (and sometimes they even get a start on getting it going!).

Dinners are generally planned around the various after school activities as well as my work commitments and planning also means I can balance out what the meals consist of and avoid last minute stop-gaps (like pasta) happening 4 nights out of 5! At the moment, I am trying to go meat-free for at least one dinner a week, as well as trying to work in some fish to the plan once a week (not being met with such a great response!).

Happy planning!

Friday, June 22, 2012

the most dangerous recipe in the world

One of the things my boys love love love for afternoon tea is Creamed Rice.

It goes something like this....

Heat about 1.5 litres of milk in a heavy based saucepan.

Once it's warm, sprinkle in about a cup, maybe a cup & a half of alborio rice.

Turn the heat down as low as possible and leave the lid on, just slightly ajar.

Keep an eye on it over the next hour or so, stirring occasionally, while the rice swells and absorbs the milk

Once it is all looking pretty thick, but still quite soupy, and the rice is cooked through (but not fall aparty) take it off the heat and let it sit for about ten minutes.

Then....and here is the dangerous a tin a sweetened condensed milk and pour it in and give it a stir. (Don't worry if it is looking runny, the mixture will usually thicken up a bit once it cools down).

The reason WHY this is the dangerous bit, is that, even though I am not a massive sweet tooth, I have a mental battle with myself each and every time, and it is only through great mental strength that I manage to stop myself from putting my finger anywhere near the edge of the tin to get the last little bits give me that funny-fear-based-tummy-flip even thinking about it....everyone knows you shouldn't put your finger near the edge of a tin....but, mannn, it is sooooo tempting!!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

More 'Glamping'

So, we met up with some friends and took the family camping down near Wisemans Ferry in Sydney. It had been POURING some days beforehand but luckily it cleared for us.

So Mr TJ is a bit of a camper. Loves it. Loves to cook over an open fire. So he volunteered to do all the cooking. For our weekend.

The best ever and also easiest meal is Camp Fire Roast Chook!

All you need is a whole chicken, some mixed herbs (those nifty ones in the tube), some oil and some veges. Rub the mixed herbs on the chicken. Place in your camp oven with your chopped veg (potato, carrot, pumpkin etc) and sit in a really hot fire for about an hour and a half. Hey presto. Yummy dinner.

freezer love

I love my Freezer. I really do.

A well stocked freezer is most definitely one of the things that can help make life run smoothly around here.

At the moment in the freezer we have:

Pork Mince - can be used in San Choy Bao or Chinese Dumplings (both speedy favs of H-for-husband)
Meat Balls
Frozen Ravioli
Frozen Peas
Soup - Chicken and veg, as well as Pumpkin
Crumpets - weekend breakfasts
Bananas - cakes/ smoothies etc
Yogurt squeezing things (for lunch boxes)
Pastisis - afternoon tea fodder
Pizza Bases
Butter - for those last-minute-help-i-have-to-make-a-cake-moments
(a'hummmm) vodka

All of which means that I know that when I am having an attack of the "really? i really have to cook dinner again tonight??" I know that there is a quick, easy meal at my finger tips, somewhere in the freezer.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Berry Yummy Muffins

With all the things that life throws our way such as work, soccer training, sports days, music practice etc etc etc....time can be a little on the poor side when it comes to baking delicious treats for my precious ones.

Voila...this easy and delicious muffin recipe. Easy to throw together, quick to cook, delicious to eat. My kids (and my fella) always manage to get their hands on one straight out of the oven! (feel free to substitute blueberries with any other frozen berry):

2 Cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
125g butter - melted and cooled a little
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180degreesC & line muffin tin with cases
2. Sift flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl
3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, melted butter & milk until well combined
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently until just combined (mix will be lumpy)
5. Gently stir through frozen berries.
6. Fill muffin cases approx 3/4 full.

Makes 12 regular muffins OR try a Texas muffin tin. Makes 12 of these whopping ones. Perfect for hungry sports fanatics!

the joy of a good pasta bake

My guys have never been that keen on pasta bake - which, if I am completely honest, has always kind of annoyed me. It just seems like the perfect kind of easy-throw-it-in-a-dish-bake-it-for-a-while-meal (ie: the sort of thing that I can sort out at some point during the day while working from home, but before the after school run around, that can then happily be put in the oven during home-work zone).

But a'ha!! You may have noticed on my last meal planning post, pasta bake was on the list. Lovely-sister-in-law has struck on a recipe that my boys love and it is now part of the rotation and is all the things I thought a good pasta bake would be (see above sentence!).

The recipe originally came from a Donna Hay Kids magazine and goes like this:

Squiggly Pasta Bake by Donna Hay (via Lovely-sister-in-law).

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
400g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes
sea salt and cracked black pepper
300g cooked spaghetti, warmed
1/2 cup pouring cream 125ml
2 cups grated cheddar
3 cups grated mozzarella

Heat the oil in a non stick fry pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add the garlic and beef and cook, breaking up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add the paste and tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180c. Combine pasta, cream and cheddar.  Place half the pasta in a 3.5litre capacity baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and half the beef mix.  Repeat with remaining pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining beef.  Top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 25mins or until golden brown.  Stand for 10 mins before serving. Serves 4-6

You can make the pasta bake with just about any pasta - the spaghetti is great (and is where this recipe gets it's name, from all the squiggy pasta heaped in the pan), but I recently used this pasta, which had the added benefit of when cooked, looking like large witchetty grubs - which caused much mirth among the boys :)


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guz - a new word for your dictionary.

Chicken Guz. A favourite sandwich filling in this house. Not only is it great for the kids, but perfect for entertaining. Kids get brown bread cut in triangles. Guests get white bread without crusts cut into fingers.

"So what is this Guz stuff" I hear you ask? A great idea for using leftover chicken - be it roasted, poached, BBQ'd etc...

This recipe is approximate Im afraid....but will give you a fair idea of what to use.

2 chicken breasts poached and shredded (or use any leftover chicken)
3 large tablespoons egg mayo
2 teaspoons baby capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
zest of half a lemon
salt & pepper

Mix all together and add more mayo if needed.

Thats it.

Awesome Eggs

My mum emailed me this picture. What a great idea for breakfast…and one that the kids will eat too!

Im going to try it out on the weekend...

Friday, June 15, 2012

let them eat cake - part 2

As I mentioned a little while ago, June is a pretty busy birthday month around these parts - in particular, Myself and Son #2 have our celebrations within 2 days of each other.

This year, the birthday weekend was a tad crazy (I was celebrating the big 4-0, Sport'o guy was playing on all-three-days of the long weekend in a sports comp, Son #2 was very excited about turning 9 and the Little-guy fell in a heap with tonsillitis - mannn!). So I did something I realised I hadn't done before - I enlisted the help of said birthday boys' Grandmother to be on Cake duty - and boy, did she deliver! She excelled herself with an abundance of chocolaty goodness that was decked out with about as many candles as it
could carry!

Thanks Nonnie!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Facts

Having one child in year 4 and another in kindy, their brains are constantly working overtime. Some of the questions that I get regarding food are interesting to say the least ("who was the first person to ever try lettuce?", "why do apples grow on trees and not in the ground?")
So...for those questioning little are a few fun food facts. Some are good to do experiments with...especially if you want to get your kids interested in food...
* apples are made of 25% air, that is why they float (a great experiment)
* apples, onions, and potatoes all have the same taste? Try the test: Pinch your nose and take a bite out of each.
* carrots were originally purple in colour, changing in the 17th Century to orange with newer varieties. – you can get purple carrots from some good supermarkets or fruit & veg stores – try them roasted....yum!
* corn always has an even number of ears.
* orange does not rhyme with any other word – go through the alphabet and test this one!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Easy Peasy Bananna Cake

So. Yet another week has gone by when one of the kids has decided that they don’t “like” bananas anymore. Apparently the tastebuds in the mouths of small boys “just don’t like it today mummy”. I never realised that tastebuds were so discerning on a Monday!

Anyway, with an excess of banana (in the freezer as well as in the fruitbowl) I went to my friend Google and found this. Melt and mix banana cake. Pictured below...

Easy. Delicious. I have made this several times. Even added sultanas on occasion for a sweet change and halved the sugar. Perfect for my little sugar bunny (a story for another time!).

Enjoy! Sx

Monday, June 4, 2012

meal planning monday

We are back in the groove of meal-planning in these here parts (phew!).

On the cards for dinner this week is:

Monday: McMums (Home-made burgers & chips)
Tuesday: Shredded Beef Tacos
Wednesday: Squiggly Pasta bake
Thursday: Easy Peasy
Friday: Home Made Pizza

We have a busy, busy week ahead, with two family birthdays, a State Championship Rugby Comp and a Junior Band Eisteddfod on top of all the usual craziness!