Alfabeto and Cheese

Like macaroni and cheese only...

Well there's one way to make dinner five times longer than it needs to be.

Midnight Spaghetti 2

Just the same as the first time, but at least this time I followed Erika's presentation advice. Check out this photo.

Burritos 3

Burritos. Again. Much like the first time. Pretty much exactly the same as the first time.

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pie

This was one of my "inventions" as Nat calls it. I made the pastry from the MasterChef Australia recipe. It didn't turn out too great as we don't have a food processor, only a blender. And size 5 eggs rather than what looked like 7's or even 8's. Too dry. I thought the filling was tasty though, and the texture of the bottom of the pie was great. I enjoyed it.

Nat said "It's not disgusting" and he had seconds. He said he hates potato cubes like that unless they're roasted.

Because of all of this I'm not going to bother posting a recipe.

Creamy Bacon Spaghetti

Nat cooked dinner tonight. It was delicious. He told me that "Creamy Bacon Spaghetti" should be what I call what he made. It was really good.

Nat's recipe:
2 slices rindless middle bacon
2 Tbsp olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
a knob of butter
1 tomato
handful of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup cream
a few grinds lemon pepper

Put water on to boil.
Cook chopped bacon in a pan with first measure of oil and lemon. Remove from pan when crisp and drain on absorbent paper.
Add salt to boiling water. Put your spaghetti in to cook.
In the bacon pan heat second measure of olive oil. Add salt. Cook chopped shallots and chopped garlic. Add butter and let melt. Add chopped fresh tomato and crush with a wooden spoon. Add basil and let cook. Put bacon back in the pan. Add cream and lemon pepper. Cook for a couple minutes.
Add cooked spaghetti and more fresh basil to pan and stir to coat.

This doesn't need any parmesan cheese when served because it is sooo delish! I tried some on it but I didn't think it improved it at all.

Terakihi fillets with fried potatoes

Or "fish and chips" if you like. Nat made perfectly crusted terakihi with delicious and also perfect fried potatoes for dinner tonight. And fried basil. And carrots as the token vegetable.

Roast pork

Dinner at my in-laws again tonight. Again no photo sorry.

Roast pork
Roast potatoes, kumara and shallots
Rice, lightly curried
Bok Choy

It was super delicious tonight, with perfect crackling! I'll have to start getting photos at their place.

Bacon and Eggs

Very little inspiration tonight. Nat's working today and so we didn't go shopping, so also very little "fresh" in the house. Thus. Bacon and eggs on toast, with canned fruit for dessert.

Homemade Pizza

I had some leftover bread dough and so made pizza for dinner. A pizza base recipe is definitely better, but they were still nice. Our toppings: half tomato paste/half tomato sauce mixed, brushed on, chopped onion, chopped mushroom, chopped tomato, chopped rindless middle bacon, grated cheese.
Theo ate a whopping 4 pieces.

Cheese, Tomato and Spinach Quiche

I went to a cooking group this morning and came home with this. It made a lovely dinner served with salad and fresh home made bread rolls. I get excited thinking about all the possibilities of fillings for my soon to be made quiches.

"Spanish Rice" with Bacon and Cheese

I went to my sister Erika's house for dinner tonight. She made this rice dish that she makes sometimes that's really nice, but I don't really know what to call it. Here's an approximate recipe.

Erika's Cheesy Tomato and Bacon Rice
For 2-3 servings

1 onion
2 slices middle bacon
1 400g(ish) can tomatoes
2 - 2 1/2 rice cups of rice
Chilli powder
1 can water (rinse out the tomato can and use that)
Probably more water than that

Chop onion and bacon. Cook in butter/oil. Add tomatoes (chop them first if you're using whole peeled), rice, chilli powder and water and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until rice is cooked. Add more water while cooking if you need to. When rice is cooked add cheese and stir/cook until cheese is melted.

We ate it with carrot and celery sticks. Not mixed, but the were present as part of the meal. You know what I mean.

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake

I used this recipe for creamy tomato pasta sauce, didn't drain the tomatoes and added an extra can of water to make it a pasta bake. And I added frozen mixed veges to try and make it healthier, mistakenly thinking they would be sufficiently disguised in the finished dish. I ended up picking them all out of my 2 year olds dinner so that he would eat it anyway. Oh and I wouldn't recommend the recipe through the link. Not the best. For a pasta bake anyway. I guess it might be okay on top of fettuccine like the recipe calls for.

Quick Gnocchi with Tomato & Basil Sauce

After Rachel commented that she'd had Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce, I looked up what gnocchi is and decided to make some. We had some friends over for dinner, one of which has had plenty of gnocchi and she said that mine stacked up against the rest well for a first time making it. Our other guest said he thought it was good whether or not it was my first time. But I don't think he's had much gnocchi experience, so he might have just been complementing his host.
I used this recipe, which uses instant potato flakes, to save time. I used fresh crushed garlic instead of powder and fresh basil instead of dried parsley. I don't know if I'll ever try this recipe, which starts with potatoes, but I did use a lot of the technique described in that recipe, and so I think it's a useful read.

Here you can see (clockwise from 1 o'clock, amongst other things) gnocchi that has been cut and curled, rolled out in a "snake" waiting to be cut, and still in chunks waiting to be rolled out.

We ate the gnocchi with the tomato and basil sauce that we normally have with spaghetti, because one of our guests wasn't too keen on cheesy sauces.

I curled most of the gnocchi but my friend said she didn't remember the gnocchi she's had being curled, so cooked some without curling as well. They're mixed on the plate here. I didn't really notice too much of a difference, so in the future I'll probably curl them for fun if I have the time, and eat without curling when I need this meal a little quicker.

We had salad as a side, which was actually really nice to eat with the gnocchi because it gave it a bit more texture, and the Paul Newman Balsamic Vinaigrette was appreciated of course too.

Roast lamb and Japanese chicken curry

We had Sunday roast with all the trimmings at Nat's parent's place tonight. One of Nat's cousin's and his wife, three children and Japanese home stayer also came. The enormous spread included:
Roast lamb
Roast potatoes, kumara and shallots
Rice (slightly curried)
Green beans, cooked from fresh
Avocado, cucumber and tomato salad
Japanese chicken curry
Carrots, celery and rice crackers with salmon/cream cheese dip

With dessert of:
Homemade apple pie
Ginger and pear self saucing pudding
Ice cream

I didn't have our camera with me so Nat took photos on his parents camera for me, but forgot to email them over. Sorry but you'll just have to imagine how delicious it all was.

Beef porterhouse steak with creamy mushroom sauce

Beef porterhouse steak with creamy mushroom sauce, chips, roasted tomato and peas and corn. In all my preparation of the steak and mushrooms (my first time cooking this) I didn't prep anything else. So the rest of the meal came together as quickly as possible as soon as I realised. But realistically most of my meals look like this, because those sides are two-year-old friendly (my two-year-old anyway).
I overcooked the steak which was a shame, but the creamy mushroom sauce was great. As you can see I made a lot of it, because I knew I would love it. Also, I was making this for one and so just estimated measurements. If you're doing the same, make sure you're not too heavy handed with the mustard. I would recommend this recipe.

Midnight Spaghetti

(what you make when you wake up at midnight hungry, or in this case, you need dinner real fast and it's the day before shopping day)

A good splash of Olive oil (maybe... 4 Tbsp for anyone wanting a measurement)

1/2 tsp salt

A few grinds of pepper

2 shallots, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced/chopped finely/crushed

Optional - 1-2 chillies (dried or fresh), chopped finely, or chilli flakes

Optional - Up to 1 cup of Shrimp/Prawns (if we're having, which is rare, we normally have 2-4 prawns each)


Chopped Italian Parsley

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Do all your chopping. Heat oil in frypan. When oil is hot and about halfway through pasta cooking time add salt and pepper and shallot to oil and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and chilli to shallot and sautay until pasta is cooked. If adding shrimp/prawns add cooked shrimp/prawns to frypan and sautay for 2-3 minutes. Spoon pasta straight from cooking water in to frypan and stir till well coated.

Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese and chopped Italian Parsley, or whatever fresh herb you have on hand (we had basil tonight). Great served with dinner rolls (carbs and carbs, I know, but we love it).

(Thanks for the photography Nat)

Lentil Stew and Leftovers

My mum made a chicken, onion and lentil stew in her slow cooker for dinner today. We had that and leftover pasta salad for dinner.

Pasta Salad

Tonight we had pasta salad made with shells, ham, cheese cubes, mixed veges, boiled egg. The dressing was actually a dip that I make when I need to take a plate somewhere on short notice. It's great for vegetable sticks. As a dressing I thought it really lacked and would be vastly improved with salt and pepper (or a splash of Paul Newman's balsamic vinaigrette).

Emergency Dip

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp - 1 Tbsp mustard (mild american)
Crushed garlic to taste, about 1 clove

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir till combined. Tastes better if left to chill for about half an hour, the flavour matures a bit.


So for dinner tonight (at my parents house) we had:

Lemon pepper fish
Brocolli with cheese sauce
Mixed veges

I promise I will do photos again once I go back home at the end of the week, because this is super boring without them. (Don't you think?)

Burritos 2

Burritos. Again. But they were a bit different tonight, at my parents place.

Wholemeal tortillas, sour cream, mince seasoned with fajita seasoning, cheese, mexican spiced baked beans, home grown lettuce, tomato and taco sauce.


Chicken and Rice Risotto

I'm at my parents place for the week, so photos might be a bit harder to do. But tonight we had chicken (slow cooked), rice risotto (chinese flavour, from a box), asparagus (steamed), coleslaw and mixed veges.


The day I'd been dreading. The first day, and I guess any subsequent days, where I have no inspiration at all in terms of cooking. No motivation. So tonight it's KFC. I did say I would post in all my embarrassment.

(Erika, in the end I just told Nat I wanted KFC for dinner so he went and got it.)

Lamb ribs

Nat made dinner tonight. He made lamb ribs, potato dauphinois, roast tomatoes and broccoli (not pictured). Although Nat seasoned the ribs deliciously, I wouldn't recommend getting lamb ribs because they are just too fatty. As in, there is more fat than meat. Also, potato dauphinois is like Nat's pet at the moment. Delicious.


It was nice to have my sister Erika and her kids over for dinner tonight.

Store bought tortillas filled with what we had on hand: Mexican spiced mince, salsa chilli beans, grated cheese, grated carrot and chopped tomato. We normally also have salad or lettuce and sour cream, and not normally carrots.

Chicken Cacciatore

Nat made dinner tonight from a recipe that he got at a cooking class at the Mediterranean Warehouse. The recipe might be copyrighted. So sorry, just a picture today. They recommended the Chicken Cacciatore be served with pasta, but I felt like rice.

Tomato and Basil Spaghetti

1 400g can of chopped tomatoes (Italian are best)

1/3 cup Olive oil

6 cloves of garlic

25+ basil leaves

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Optional - Up to 1 cup Shrimp/Prawns (if using we normally have 2-4 prawns each)

Chop or crush the garlic and add everything to a saucepan.

Cook on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking and burning.

Meanwhile cook enough spaghetti pasta for your needs according to the packet directions. If adding shrimp/prawns put cooked shrimp/prawns in with sauce for about 2-3 minutes. When pasta is cooked spoon into the saucepan and stir to coat. (Or strain pasta and return to pot, then add sauce, if your saucepan isn't big enough).

Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Hints: Measurements can be altered to suit your taste. We like to chop our garlic very coarsely, as we find it delicious after it's been infused with the tomato and basil flavours at the end of cooking. But lately I just crush it to save time. Excess sauce can be reserved for up to 2 days covered in the fridge, and needs only to be heated to simmering then added to cook pasta, alternatively you can serve more sauce with less pasta for a very strongly flavoured dish. We mostly use this sauce for 2 1/2 servings of pasta (2 adults one child) but have used it for up to 6 adult servings. We usually use all the basil leaves off of one of the small $2 plants that you can buy from the supermarket.

Dinner Inspiration

I always struggle to come up with ideas of what to cook for dinner.

So I'm going to start a blog about it.

Every day I'll post what I'm having for dinner, in all my embarrassment. Hopefully it will give me more motivation to really feed my family well, and maybe it will help someone else answer the question of what they're having for dinner.

Please leave a comment telling me what you're having, and feel free to leave a link to a recipe or post of your own. It's all about inspiration people!
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