Monday, April 23, 2012

she bakes....part one.... there are lots of birthdays and cakes!!!!

well over the years I have baked a LOT of cakes and I mean A LOT of cakes.... this is how my food love started I guess, it was after my eldest son turned one and I SUCKED and his cake... it went in the bin after my husband and dad tried to hep fix it the morning of his first birthday party...I had to dash buy a store cake and smile between my heavily pregnant tears... my boys are close REAL close!!! You see I was trying to make an ELMO cake well it looked  like a deranged alien...... I have never forgiven my self for sucking quite so badly... so I have tried to make it up to my kids and give them birthday they will remember forever.....

so here are a few....

Lukes 2nd birthday, dorothy the Dinosaur.... an epic adventure involving, me, Mark, my mum and step dad Ken.....

Alex's 1st birthday Whale cake! the book is still blue!

Lukes 3rd birthday Thomas.....

Alex's 2nd birthday - captain Featherswords ship... complete with wiggles and deck hands...

Luke's 4th birthday - dress up party... mums cheat spiderman cake....
Alex's 3rd Birthday
the count down!

a much easier dinosaur thanks to womans day kids party cakes!!!
Lukes 5th borthday..... now this is where I came into party decorating and LOVED it all!!!

Alex's 4th birthday

Lukes 6th Birthday.....

more to come....

looking at these makes me teary... cannot believe I have big boys now... these parties and memories seem just like yesterday...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

pot stickers, gyoza, dumplings.... what ever you want to call them they are YUM!!!

Now this is yet another meal inspired by a good friend, utube and google!!!! Now I have to fess up not all of my family love this meal, but 3 out of 4 ain't bad......hehehehe great song! Now initially the thought of cooking these scared me, I thought there is no way I can cook them, I don't have that kind of skill, well boy was I wrong! they are fiddly - sure, time consuming - you betcha, delicious - YES!!! I really think anyone can make them and as proof here is my nearly 8 baby helping me make them......
He loves to help in the kitchen....both my boys do, I honestly have always found that cooking with my kids not only opens up lines of communication (gee there have been some funny conversations especially as they are getting older), but cooking with my boys has helped with them eating anything and everything, of course they have things that they prefer not to eat, but if its all that's on offer they eat it with minimal fuss, but will always try new things. Mr nearly 8 loves cooking and is developing into a real foodie like his mummy.... from a very young age he has had a palate unlike his peers, blue cheese at 18months was a firm favourite.... strange I know! He loves to try new things and I can never slip away to a farmers market without him because he has quickly learned that there is a LOT of taste testing of delicious foods on hand for him...Mr 9 while the boys loves to eat, he has a more simple palate.... similar to his dads, simple honest food  are their favourites....So I am constantly stretching their repertoire of foods but keeping them happy with their favs too.....mums Lasagna is a weekly winner.

Now back to the Gyoza, I have tried these at a few different places and I have to say I kind of like mine best so far..... Now I have only made one filling I am going to give this a go with vege ones soon, will post that at a later date,


2 chicken breasts, minced (I mince my own in my small food processor, I prefer this, not sure why just do)
1/4 wombok cabbage, thinly shredded
Shitake mushrooms ( I buy mine from woolies and buy a punnet), thinly dice these
1 tube of 'Gourmet garden Thai season'
2 packets 'goo gee' wrappers (buy these in the cold section near the fresh pasta)

To Start:

 Prepare veges

Place minced chicken on frypan and cook until cooked through, continually break up the lumps as you want this to be as fine as you can, I struggle with chicken mince, its so sticky!

Once mince is cooked add veges and stir fry until they are starting to soften then add the tube of seasoning (now I have used half or the whole lot and I have to say I like the whole lot but either is nice) continue stir frying until veges are cooked. Then set aside into the fridge to completely cool... and I MEAN COOL..... you can make the mixture ahead, I always have some frozen in a zip lock bag in case we feel like some for lunch!!!

Once mixture is cooled completely you will need to set up your will need a small bowl of water to seal your dumplings.Lay your goo gee wrappers out on the bench, add a teaspoon (not too much!!!) of mixture into the middle, run your wet finger around edges of wrapper, fold over your dumpling pressing the edges together sealing it using a pinch pleat.....

 after you have quite the collection of dumplings on your plate, they will feel sticky...heat a pan with a tight fitting lid, I use my stainless steel scanpan.... drizzle oil over pan, place dumplings in pan giving a little wiggle, being careful not to break them, fry them for 2 mins... now set your timer!!!

while they are frying get your self a cup of water.... you will need some co-ordination and speed here.... you need to add about 2 cm of water to the base of the pan, quickly put on lid and listen to the sizzle for 2 minutes SET THE TIMER!!! It is VERY loud!

Using a spatula remove dumplings once buzzer goes off place into dish.... they will look like this.....

I use a dipping sauce of soy and fish sauce...not too much fish sauce..... now we have eaten these as a meal, snack, lunch, nibbles sharing with friends... (as nibbles  it is hard because you are busy, its noisy and the cook sometimes misses out).....I have served these as a part of an Asian fusion dinner..... ok so I felt like these and sushi... that's Asian fusion right?????

hope you enjoy as much as this little guy

Happy cooking xx

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leonie's attempt at eggplant parmigiana

For those that don't know, I am a teacher, I teach children with special needs, I LOVE  my job, it is rewarding, tough, fun, challenging, and at times very painful, physically and mentally. I have been at this job for a long time now, teaching children of such a diverse range of needs, I really love it... seriously I do.... even if I whinge!!!!

Now at the end of a a really tough first term this year, now this is a term where it saw my family move interstate, start new schools and jobs, me move from part-time to fulltime so LOTS of changes........I was EXHAUSTED!!!!

Well to reward myself I travelled to an old stomping ground the Capital of the country.... Canberra a much loved destination.... I met with fabulous friends, drank many, many cocktails, eating wonderful meals and giggling until I cried.... an absolute blast! A weekend of pure mummy indulgence! Well, while in the countries capital we ventured to an exccellent Italian resturant, "Italian and sons", we ate and ate and ate some more, it was fabulous! oh not to mention wonderful champagne and wine!!!

While we were there we shared some wonderful dishes... one of them being eggplant parmigiana..... OMG it was to DIE for! seriously sooooooo good! so I knew in an instant my family were going to be my guinea pigs while I perfected this recipe.... now below is a 'good' recipe my boys and I loved it, but it is still missing something, so I have decided to share but may update if I can discover that missing ingredient.... That all said this is an original recipe...... OMG fall over!!!! all MINE!!!!! hope you like and can make sense of it all....

2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 red onions finely diced
2 eggplants, sliced 1/2cm thick
5 cloves garlic
1 finely dice red capsicum
250g ricotta cheese
1 tub mozzarella sliced (if you cannot get a hold of mozzarella 1 tub of bocconcini works just the same)
2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
fresh basil
1/2 cup red wine

prepare all vegetables, in a thick based pan, I love my LeChasseur red cast iron pot.... I use it at all opportunities!!! splash some olive oil and heat pan, sweat off garlic, capsicum, and onion, until soft, add paste and cook off for 1-2 minutes, add red wine and cook for one minute to cook out alcohol. Add the tomatoes and nutmeg and turn down to a low simmer and leave for about an hour, the sauce will thicken and send a divine smell throughout your house! I promise it smells fantastic!!! now while this is cooking you need to sprinkle each peice of eggplant with salt (not too much!!!!) I then place in a colander put a plate on top to cover then weigh down to extract the water from eggplant.

Leave eggplant for at least 1/2hour. Once suace is thicker, sprinkle with some fresh basil thinly sliced, rince and dry eggplant between paper towels.
Its time to start layering....... start with tomato sauce, eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella then repeat until the dish is full, finishing with tomato and grated parmesan cheese. Bake in an oven at 180 for half an hour, I served it with salad..... Honest to goodness this did turn out great! kids and Hubby loved it and no one knew it was a vege meal!!! SO I challenge all to a Meat free Meal once per week..... ours is generally Mondays!!!

happy cooking xx

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

holiday baking!

We have been enjoying a great holiday break.... but boy can my BOYS EAT!!!! It is forever heard in my house, 'I'm Hungry'.....they are always starving... so to combat my holiday munchers and save my food bill from skyrocketing I bake and I bake and I bake...... this is usually done daily..... anyone that visits is usually able to grab a baked treat from the cake stand.....

this holidays we have had favourites....

mini m&m brownies using the recipe I posted here instead of oreos we put a tube of m&m's scattered along the bottom of the tray and a tube on the top!!! these were super gooey and apparently DELICIOUS!!! I LOVE the colours!!!

we have also made numerous batches of muffins, using this recipe here, the ones below are blueberry and white choc... now I can tell you they were great!!!! we have made many varieties, banana choc chip, mixed berry.... today apple crumble is going into the oven......

anyone reading what have you baked???

happy cooking


Saturday Lunch

It is such an easy dish to prepare, serioulsy most of us have the ingredients at hand......
now for the ingredients:

your favourite long pasta I love Barilla.....
Flat leaf ( italian) parsley
rind of 1 lemon
olive oil
red onion
1 clove of garlic sliced thin
1/2 - 1 teapoon dried chilli flakes (depends how hot you like it)

cook pasta as per packet directions, -( time it, its easy, 9 mins generally for barilla pasta my favourite although nothing beats FRESH homemade!!!!)
While pasta is cooking start the sauce, with a good lug... hmmmmm not accurate I know but its how I roll..... of olive oil heat your fry pan, once pan is warm fry garlic, onion and chilli flakes, once onion has just started to soften add parsley and lemon rind. add the juice of lemon and keep warm.... add a little olive oil if looking a little dry.... throw in a good handfull of parmesan cheese finely grated and toss through cooked pasta. Use a little pasta water if needed, then serve and enjoy.....

honestly its easy, quick, fresh and packed full of flavour! enjoy recipe number 1!!!!!! OMG I cannot believe I have finally started this.... onwards and upwards to my very own recipe book to share with my boys, family and friends...... this is the beginning of acheiving my 12 in 2012!!!!! look out I may just share the other 11.....This is a delicious quick and easy lunch.... I hate the old sandwich on a weekend.... I find them boring and am fanging for flavour and love having the time and opportunity to cook. So while the boys in my house love a good sanga, I started to cook me something tasty....

Now to be honest this is a dish that has been adapted from the bestest neighbour ever Sarah...... she and I together would share, trade, and help ourselves to ingredients in each others fridges and pantries. We would also regularly entice eachother and compete for that perfect recipe or presentation.... friendly of course..... so I will aptly declare that the name of this recipe is 'Sarah Spaghetti mark 2'..... just wait for number 1!!!!

Leonie's mexican pancake stack

Now this recipe is mine all mine but the original idea came from one of my besties....Jane!

This recipe is fantastic and easy..... its also impressive for the kids.... It's a wonderful use for leftovers....the original is calls for Burrito flavoured mince, but for my twist and a smiggin of originality I use left over chilli mince..... I cooked it here thanks to Nigella ... now I purposefully made a large double batch with this recipe in mind as I knew the week was going to be crazy and I was feeding at least 8 on one night....

so here goes....

1 quantity of Nigella's chilli
1 quantity of pancake batter.... seriously I do not have a recipe..... I make as I go......
but will give it a try.

2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk (seriously I add milk until I get a nice smooth runny consistency(I like them flat and large!!)
1 egg
1 cup grated tasty cheese (I often use what ever I have in my fridge, this time I used Red Leicester, cheddar and some parmesan)
Using a wisk, wisk like a crazy lady until batter is smooth, add cheese

cook the panacakes in a non-stick pan, now I always throw the first one in the bin.....I sure hope everyone else does too.... they always look so awful! cook until bubbles appear flip and cook other side...... stack pancakes on a plate until all batter is done. Now this makes a LOT of pancakes.... my boys love them!!!! they eat them for an after school snack as I am cooking, honestly there is nothing better or easier than a cheesy pancake on a cold afternoon!

then honest to god is it so simple, layer the mince - pancake - mince - pancake until you have no more, finishing with a pancake and topped with cheese.... seriously it is THAT easy!

now I often make this through the day... well ok I did when I was a stay at home mum....but now I just do it when I have time, but you can make ahead then just pop into the oven for about 40 minutes, until it is heated through and chesse has melted and browned... now I leave foil on for the first 30  minutes then remove for cheese to brown....

to serve this we would often eat it with sour cream, guacamole and a simple salad..... its yum simple honest cooking that anyone could do!

Happy cooking xx