Pumpkin Penne

... aka "Experimental pasta #2 (or 3. Maybe 4, 5 or 6.)".

Trying to make something quick and easy, I thought I'd use a can of pumpkin soup as a quick pasta sauce.

I chopped two kransy's and fried them up. I started my penne boiling. In another pot I emptied the can of soup, added 3 Tbsp of both sour cream and cream cheese and about 6 Tbsp of milk. Stir as it heats until smooth. I added a pinch of both paprika and nutmeg.

At the last minute I decided some green in the salad might look nice so microwaved some peas and added fresh basil leaves as well as the sauce and kransy's. Stir to mix. Top with parmesan cheese.

I cooked half of a 500g packet of penne and used half the pot of sauce that I'd made. It tasted fine, the kids liked it, BUT, if you're going to make something similar skip the peas and basil. Add way more kransky (it's really the star of the dish) and parmesan. Toasted pine nuts would be a welcome addition too.

After all that I found something in the fridge that would have been much faster.


Tortilla Pizza

It's hot here today (hot for Wellington anyway) and we hardly feel like doing anything. Solution? Tortilla Pizza. They're not as filling as regular pizza, for obvious reasons, but they're just as delicious. Lucky the heat also makes us less hungry.

Using tortilla's as our bases, I topped our pizza with a half/half mix of tomato paste and sauce (to save on paste and to sweeten it), grated cheese (we buy Edam), sliced Kransky sausage (is there anything these sausages can't do?) and fresh basil leaves (if using again I think I'll add after cooking rather than before. The heat from the pizza would wilt the leaves rather than the grill in the oven shrivelling them). Be careful not to overload your little tortilla base. They're nowhere near as sturdy as a pizza base.

Simple, quick, easy, delicious. Perfect.

Midnight Spaghetti 5 (with a twist...)

Tonight I made midnight spaghetti with a few variations:

Wholemeal Spaghetti
The kids always want to try mine when I serve myself the wholemeal and they have regular so I cooked it up for everyone tonight. It seemed to go down just as well as regular spaghetti with them (don't worry Nat I won't do it all the time because I know wholemeal is more expensive).

Kransky Octopuses
Someone I read (also a friend/relative [if you can have a sister-in-law twice removed]) suggested these through a comment on the blog. Almost every comment effects what I cook, so get commenting. Thanks Mika! I decided on these after looking in my fridge for veges that I could add, after Rachel's suggestion, but we didn't have any I thought were suitable. We did have Kransky's though!

Cream Cheese
I figured Kransky's are cheesy so I added cream cheese to the pan after the spaghetti to try and make it a creamy sauce. It tasted fine but if you want to try it I suggest adding the cream cheese to your sauce/frypan before the spaghetti so that it gets all melted and mixed well first.

Tuna Curry

Today was another day where I look in my cupboards and make what I see. (In my mind) Tin of tuna + coconut cream + rice = Tuna Curry. Despite how it sounds it was not the most disgusting thing ever.

After looking through a few recipes I found that most had chopped tomato (check) and chopped capsicum (no check). And they all varied in methods of cooking. Here's what I did.

Tuna Curry

Put your rice on to cook. Oil in pan/wok. Add chopped onions, crushed garlic and tuna. Add salt, pepper, a couple tablespoons of curry powder, a teaspoon of ground coriander and a couple teaspoons of ground ginger (I'm sure chopped fresh ginger root would be better if you've got it). Give it a stir and cook for a couple minutes. Add chopped tomatoes. Add a can of coconut cream and simmer for a bit (maybe 20 minutes) while your rice finishes cooking. Serve with sour cream or yoghurt if you like (the kids will eat almost anything if it comes with a side of sour cream!). Voila!

Note: You don't necessarily have to add any chili to this curry because there is chili in curry powder. Since I added quite a lot of curry powder and left it to simmer for quite a while (chili gets hotter the longer it's heated) mine had a nice little bit if curry bite.

I thought this was pretty tasty, Theo loved it (ate every last grain of rice) and Sadie enjoyed the first half of her dinner and then only wanted plain rice. So I don't know if it's a repeat recipe but it was good for the evening.

Herb Crusted Lamb Rack

Nat made Gordon Ramsay's lamb rack tonight with fancy potatoes and balsamic shallots.

For Christmas he voiced that he would love to go shopping for delicious treats and not have to worry about what it cost or having to provide enough for the family. So his parents gave him Moore Wilson vouchers and they are just his. The lamb rack was one of his Christmas treats. He did let me have a taste. It was delicious. So tender and flavourful. DELICIOUS I TELL YOU.

Spaghetti and Meatballs 3

I made Rachael Ray's Meatballs again with Ruth Pretty's Tomato Pasta Sauce. I think the Sauce is a keeper. Click on through and take a look.

- I used two cans of chopped tomatoes instead of 14-18 fresh tomatoes. In the future I may use whole peeled tomatoes. You definitely get a different result depending on how you prepare your tomatoes, but it's SO much easier to just open a can and tip it in.
- I didn't have bay leaves. I'm sure the flavour would be a bit different if I did. I used basil a little differently than the recipe calls for.
- I may have over-reduced the sauce.


Quick and easy again, breakfast for dinner. We had scrambled eggs, toast, kransky sausages (frankfurters for the kids. Save the good stuff for people who care), peas and corn.

Midnight Spaghetti 4

We had the same old midnight spaghetti tonight. But I've included photos from over Christmas when my siblings and I and our families all gathered at my parents place. This is what midnight spaghetti for 19 people looks like.

Tim (brother-in-law) is stirring the enormous pasta pot. Nat is stirring the shrimp in the frypan. We had to tip the shrimp/shallots into the pasta pot because I don't think there is a frypan in the world that could hold all the pasta we needed.

A frypan full of shrimp and deep with oil. At this point we didn't know if we had the increased amounts of everything right. How often do you multiply your recipes by 10?

The pasta pot. Can't see much through the steam but it was big and full. Immense amounts of spaghetti.

Ready to serve. Looks the same as usual...

The pasta pot on the table so you can get an idea of scale.

On the plate. Just like at home. It was great.

Burritos 5

Topped with sour cream, mince mixture (onion, mince, cumin, worcestershire sauce, beef stock, salt, pepper, baked beans, corn), cheese, salad, grated carrot, chopped tomato, more cheese. Delicious!

Chicken legs

Tonight we had chicken drumsticks with potato, tomato and basil. You're meant to add garlic as well but we're out. Served with rice and salad. It's easy as. Ours was a bit overcooked, so hopefully yours wouldn't turn out as dark (read: charred).
I know you don't need potato and rice in the same meal, but our family (stemming from my husbands side) seems to need it that way.

Chicken legs with potato, tomato and basil

6-8 large chicken legs
olive oil
salt and pepper
a handful of basil
2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved/4-6 large tomatoes quartered
6 garlic cloves (we use a whole bulb)
chili finely chopped
3-4 large potatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Season chicken with salt and pepper and put in a large roasting pan. Add chopped potatoes and cherry tomatoes (or chopped large ones like ours) whole peeled garlic cloves, chopped chili to a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Mix around a bit with your hand. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, turning potatoes and tomatoes and adding basil leaves at halfway.

Chili 3

It's meant to be summer. And yet I'm dressing my children like this:

So I made chili for dinner tonight. Much like the recipe I've already posted but with some alterations.

- We had no garlic. It was still delicious.
- I doubled the measures for the spices.
- I added a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
- I used an extra can of chili beans, hot, salsa flavoured.
- I added 1/2 a can of water.
- I added a good 1 1/2-2 cups of frozen corn.
- It simmered away for a good half hour.
- We added chili flakes at the table to increase the heat. Since we were serving it to our kiddilicks it wasn't very hot in the pot. But a couple shakes of chili flakes increased it to the perfect amount of heat. Enough to heat up your mouth and get your nose running by the time you finish the bowl, but not so much you can't taste your food or get through two bites in a row.

It's nice with sour cream and bread, or tonight we had the last of my most recent batch of delicious home made bread rolls or as the recipe calls them:

Nice Buns

1 1/4 cups warm water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast (dry, granules)
1 Tbsp cooking oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Dissolve sugar in water. Have the water at a temperature so that it is still luke warm after the sugar has dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture, add oil and stir briefly.

Leave mixture to stand for 5 minutes or until it has become foamy. This works best if left in a warm place.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Knead for a bit. When smooth (takes 5-10 minutes of kneading) you can leave the dough to rise for 30 mins (recommended) or you can bake it straight away.

Divide mixture into 10-12 buns. Cook in hot oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.


In my personal preparation, after I have divided the mixture into buns, I pull the dough from top to bottom, squeezing all the air bubbles out underneath and form it into a rectangle shape. Then I slice it lengthways down the middle, not all the way through, with a sharp knife, then press it back together and place on the tray. The buns turn out round or sometimes square, and with a line down the middle that makes it easy to break in half. These are the business.

There you go Nicole!


A great Friday night meal, with hardly any preparation required. Here's how I make it:

Fry onion and garlic in a pan. Add mince and brown. Add seasonings (my personal taste - salt, pepper, cumin, beef stock, occasionally a splash of soy sauce/malt vinegar/worcestershire sauce. Not all at once but one or the other). Add a can of chili beans and stir to combine and heat through.
WATTIE'S Mild Chilli WATTIE'S Mild Chilli Beans

WATTIE'S Mild Chilli Beans is New Zealand's favourite chilli bean. The combination of WATTIE'S secret spices and a rich chilli sauce makes an irresistible meal for any time of the day. WATTIE'S Mild Chilli Beans include quality red kidney beans, capsicum and onion, making a tasty meal on its own or a delicious accompaniment to a variety of recipes.

Available in 420g cans.

When I'm really in a hurry I don't even cook mince, I just use the beans straight from the can. Also, if your adding a can of seasoned beans rather than just straight beans, you can probably skip seasoning the mince too.

Pour your corn chips in some sort of oven proof vessel. Top with mince and beans mixture and grated cheese. Bake till cheese has melted. You can then grill if you want, but I've found that grilling alone doesn't heat it through, so bake it for a bit first.

Top with sour cream and serve! I'm sure you could add other things like salsa, corn in the mince mixture, chives or spring onions on top but I normally do the minimum.

Spaghetti and Meatballs 2

I made Rachael Ray's meatballs again tonight. It's a winner recipe (stay away from the sauce though). Served with our tomato and basil sauce through spaghetti, also over mashed potato which was nice too.

Also delicious home made dinner rolls. Yum. I can't stay away from these.

Tuna Melts

I sat at the park today for 40 minutes trying to come up with something for dinner that required zero effort from me. My brainstorm:

- Order in Hell Pizza. I have a free delivery voucher.
I don't really like their pizzas and they're too expensive.
- Stop by the fish and chip/chinese/pizza place on the way home.
I didn't bring my wallet. Guts.
- Midnight spaghetti.
Too much effort. Don't feel like pasta.
- Cheese toasties.
Maybe. But Theo had a sandwich for lunch.
- Open grilled cheese like mini pizzas.
Doable. I have ham and tomato and cheese.
- Tuna melts... Tuna melts!

Every now and again I remember tuna melts and that they actually taste good. Then I forget them for another 6 months.


The quiche was slightly better today, cold, as leftovers. Slightly.

Quiche 2

I made a quiche tonight. It was what I'll call "not the best". But it was from scratch, and edible, and Theo liked it. I modified this pastry recipe and tried to remember how it was made at the cooking group I went to ages ago, rather unsuccessfully. I also used this recipe for reference.

In a food processor put 2 cups of flour, 150 grams of cold butter cut into cubes and blend until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add an egg and blend again, adding 1-2 Tbsp cold water as needed to bring the dough together into a ball. Turn out and lightly knead a few times to bind the dough together. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. (I decided to use wholemeal flour to try and be healthy)

Roll out the pastry then lift and press in to a greased quiche pan. Bake blind at 180-200 degrees C for around 20 minutes maybe longer. (This is one of those times that you really do need to weight down your pastry.)

Cook chopped onion and ham (and any other ingredients that need to be cooked eg. bacon, garlic, shallots, mushrooms) in butter, then add flour and milk to make a roux sauce. (This roux sauce turned out to be too thick! So try for a bit more milk in yours. Then again it might have acted as it did because I used wholemeal flour instead of white)

Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork (I forgot to do this) then spoon the roux evenly in.

Lay out sliced tomato (or any other ingredient that needs to be laid out eg. spinach leaves, sliced rather than chopped mushrooms)

Whisk 5 small eggs (or 4 large), 3/4 cup milk, salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg (optional. I didn't use it). Pour over tomatoes. (It would probably be good to add some grated cheese in to the egg mix I reckon. Just a bit.)

Cover with grated cheese and cook at 180-200 degrees Celcius until the centre is just set. (Mine took an hour since it was so tall)

Realise just after you've put the quiche in the oven that you forgot to put the brocolli that you chopped and cooked into the egg mixture.

As you can tell from that last photo, this wasn't a winning recipe. So don't follow it without making MAJOR alterations.

Mistakes I made that you can now avoid:
- Don't just substitute in wholemeal flour as you please. It really acts differently to white flour. If you want to make your own wholemeal pastry find a proper wholemeal recipe. You could possibly do half wholemeal in a white flour recipe but I'm making no promises that it will work out.
- Weight your crust when you blind bake it. Mine caved in because the wholemeal flour doesn't hold the same way white does. I had to re-press it with a spoon, luckily I caught it before it had cooked enough to harden. I've seen the white crust bubble up in the middle but that didn't seem to be a lasting issue, once the filling was on it all came right. But to be on the safe side, weight it.
- Don't use a straight sided, tall tin. The pasty can't grip those tall, straight sides very well.
- Don't use the whole pastry recipe. Unless you have a very large pan, this pastry recipe is just too much. I used the whole recipe and it was much too thick. Use 3/4 of the recipe rolled thinly, and use the reserved pastry in muffin tins to make mini quiches for lunches.
- Don't make your roux sauce too thick. In the quiche that I had at my cooking group, the roux was what really made it taste like quiche instead of omelette. But my roux was totally separate from the egg mixture because it was too thick. Another time that wholemeal flour doesn't act as white.
- Put a tray on the next shelf underneath your quiche to catch any overflow. It's so much easier than cleaning the oven!

Barbecued Scotch Fillet

Getting back in to the swing of things I forgot to take a photo today. Nat has told me numerous times that no one wants to look at a food blog that doesn't have pictures so I've decided that from now on I'll only post when I get my photo. So I must remember!

The last picture-less post:
Nat barbecued beef scotch fillets (cooked in garlic and butter) and kumara chips for us, which we ate with rice, peas and corn. Whenever we have steak we give the kids sausages, that's one way that we afford it. They don't seem to mind too much.

Stir fry with prawns 2

Happy New Year!

A quick and easy meal tonight. It was a bit less flavourful than last time, less seasoning, but that made it more palatable to the kids.
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