Cookbook Club – Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals – Trapani-style Rigatoni

Rigatoni 3

I’m back!

My little boy is now eight months old and is a lovely, friendly smiling little boy most of the time (though we are teething at the moment so we have a lot of Jekyll/Hyde moments). I’ve recently found myself doing quite a lot of cooking that then gets pureed or mashed and frozen for him, but not so much cooking that involves trying new recipes for me.

However, I have been taking part in a cookbook club that I started with a few friends after we were inspired by this article (click here to read). What is a cookbook club? It is a group of friends (or a group of people who love to cook and/or eat) who meet up regularly to share food they have cooked. At each meeting, everyone brings along a dish cooked from the same cookbook (chosen in advance so you don’t replicate dishes). It is a great opportunity to try dishes you might otherwise not have cooked, as well as using the cookbooks you own (or discovering new ones). You also get to meet new people (friends of friends) who you already know have a shared interest in food, cooking and eating! click here to read more

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Chicken, leek and mushroom casserole

Chicken leek and mushroom 2

The last four months have just flown by in a blur of recovery and sleeplessness, but more importantly complete joy and love for my little boy. There hasn’t been a lot of time to cook although I’m starting to get in the kitchen a bit more now, and using my slow cooker for the first time (recipes to come soon). It is hard to believe my little boy is almost four months old. I have to say having my freezer stocked full of ready to eat or ready to cook meals was really handy. I ended up having to have a C-section and it took me a while to recover from that. We also moved a few weeks ago so it has been all go here. I’m much happier with the kitchen in our new place, I actually have a gas cooktop for the first time in about 8 years and a pantry! Makes things so much easier (and quicker).

This is one of the recipes I cooked for my freezer before my little boy arrived. I hadn’t cooked this for quite some time, but in the colder months it is a nice warming/filling recipe and it is one of my favourites. It is also a great recipe when you have guests over, as most of the cooking time is spent in the oven.

Leftovers are also great the next day with the chicken shredded up with pasta (which is how I froze it). Or it would make a great pie filling.

Click here for the recipe

Slow braised pork shoulder with cider and parsnips

Pork cider and parsnip casserole My freezers are now full with lots of pre-cooked (or ready to cook) meals that I have made in the last few weeks preparing for the arrival of my first baby, including this recipe. I love cider but even before I was pregnant, I couldn’t drink alcohol as it always gave me a migraine no matter what I drank – even one glass. The drink that I miss most is cider, so I’m always interested in new recipes that include cider as an ingredient. This is a great dish for winter, it takes a little time but the oven does most of the work for you. Depending on the size of your pork and vegetable pieces, it could take a bit longer to cook than the recipe states. The original recipe results in a very thin sauce, even after I reduced the amount of liquid in it. So if you want a thicker sauce add more flour at the beginning or a bit less liquid. However I didn’t mind as it was soaked up in my mashed potatoes. Potatoes were one of the few things I could eat during the first four months of my pregnancy. You’d think I’d have had enough of potatoes after that but they are still one of my favourite things to eat. Click here for the recipe

Date crumble slice

Date slice 2

While I was still pregnant I was browsing Facebook and one post caught my attention. It was a comment about a past tradition catching up with their Mum each week with a date slice that was missed since they had moved to another state. Finally finding the date slice in their new home had brought back memories of these catch-ups. It got me thinking about how  certain foods are more than just something we eat. They can evoke feelings and memories in us.

This left me craving date slice, so I went looking for a recipe to make some. Dates seem to be one of those ingredients that people either love or hate, I am definitely in the love category. They are very sweet however and I can only eat a small amount.

This slice is quite easy to make and as long as you like dates, it’s pretty tasty. If I make it again I might try putting some citrus zest in with the dates and/or some spices in the base/crumble mix for something different, but it was delicious as is and satisfied my craving.

Click here for the recipe

Lamb, mint and haloumi sausage rolls

Sausage rolls 4It is hard to believe that almost nine months have passed since I discovered I was pregnant, yet here I am counting down the days until I welcome my first child to the world. Despite the pregnancy symptoms and constant fatigue, time really has flown by surprisingly quickly.

Part of the reason for that is that I did over commit myself during my pregnancy (first timer mistake). Before I found out I was pregnant, I had applied for an online postgrad university course which I was accepted into and decided to start the first unit in my second trimester. So during my second and most of my third trimester, not only was I working full time while pregnant, I was also studying at home. To say I found it difficult (writing reports all day at work then coming home to uni reading and writing assignments) would be an understatement. But I have finished my first unit (with pretty good grades on all my assessments) and have finally slowed down to prepare for my new life as a mum (besides all the appointments that seem to fill up the week).

Part of my preparation has included filling up the freezer with lots of ready cooked (or ready to be cooked) meals. I think winter is a great time to be in the later stages of pregnancy. Besides not melting in the Australian heat, it is quite mild but also a great time for soups, casseroles and oven baked foods that freeze really well. Some of the recipes I have made have been some old favourites, but I have also tried some new ones so there will be a few new posts to follow with those recipes.

But first here is the recipe for some very tasty sausage rolls that were made for me for my baby shower. They were so good I begged the recipe off my friends and made a batch for last night’s dinner (with half the batch going into the freezer and the rest as leftovers for today). I would have liked trying to freeze half of the batch before cooking, then defrosting and cooking later, however as I was using lamb mince that had already been frozen, I couldn’t do this. I may try this another time and will update the post then.

If you don’t like mint, this isn’t the recipe for you, but mint is one of my favourite herbs and I really like the combination of flavours in this recipe, something a little bit different from your usual sausage roll. However you could try replacing the mint and mint jelly with another herb and chutney or jelly. That is the great thing about recipes, you can experiment and adapt to your own taste.

Click here for the recipe

Cooking Class – Café Style Cakes

Steamed Cheesecake 2I’m back! Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I do have a good reason, I promise! I am pregnant with my first child which is just wonderful. Unfortunately along with the pregnancy came severe “morning sickness”. I have to say that whoever named it “morning sickness” is just cruel, as for me it was months of 24 hour sickness where I struggled to eat anything, let alone cook, think or write about food.

Although not completely gone, I am feeling a lot better and am able to finally cook and think about food again, so it’s time to get back to blogging, starting with the last cooking class I went to.

In November last year, I attended the Café Style Cakes cooking class at Sweet Artist Academy that I had booked before I was pregnant. I had organised the timing of the class so that I could then take the cakes in to work for morning tea for my birthday. Seeing as I was in the early stages of my pregnancy and trying not to tell anyone, and everyone in my team knew I had booked the class to provide for my birthday morning tea, I still went to the class. I have to say it was a struggle, but Patrick was a great help when the smell and nausea got too much for me (I told a little white lie and said I had eaten something the night before that made me feel sick). I did do most of the cooking and decorating myself, however Patrick helped me cover the mud cake with ganache as well as get the cakes out of their tins etc. Thank you Patrick!  Click here to read more