Been rewatching The Sopranos

So I thought is take a stab at Baked Ziti!

Following this recipe, it’s pretty elaborate so I’ve split it over two days. Today I’ve made the Sunday Sauce and we’re having the meats and a bit of the tomato sauce on polenta. Mixed in a few frozen peas for colour and serving with creamy cauliflower soup.

Will let you know tomorrow how the baked ziti works out!

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Update the next day…

In the morning I was talking with the hubby about how elaborate making this baked ziti was and wondered if it might be easier to just use tomato sauce instead of the fancy many-meats Sunday Sauce. Well, that was before we tried a bit of the cold Sunday Sauce while I was assembling the Baked Ziti.

“It’s like liquid meat,” he exclaimed.

It was that good. Then combine it with pasta and three kinds of cheeses – wow.

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The under-appreciated Leek

Every year it seems there is another trendy food: like coriander/cilantro, tarragon, pomegranate, coconut anything, etc. I’d like to nominate the humble leek. Lately I’ve found that many of our favourite recipes contain leeks and if I leave it out, the meal is bland.

I make a mean creamy chicken mushroom casserole that is flavoured with tarragon and mustard but it is the leek that really nails it to make this one of our faves. Leeks can be added to pretty much any soup (butternut pumpkin with leek is a personal favourite). I love this chicken pot pie recipe, with leek of course. And of course a straight leek soup is heavenly.

But tonight I tried a new recipe where I was surprised to find leek: Moroccan Lamb Eggplant Stew. Now I haven’t tried this recipe without the leek – but it was so good as is that I don’t this I’ll mess with it! I served it with couscous and we both loved it so much that we polished our plates before I had a chance to think about taking a photo. I don’t think miss 2 will be as big a fan as the adults are – a bit too spicy for her your taste buds, but we’ll try tomorrow anyways.

What’s your favourite leek recipe?

Coconut sugar cookies

My first attempt at actually including my almost two year old in the baking process was making these sugar cookies. Somehow, we didn’t make too much of a mess, the cookies turned out great, and she learned a new word : cook.

The recipe I loosely followed is based on a healthy sugar cookies recipe found here, but I tweaked the ingredients:

    Sift together

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
    Beat

  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
    Add to sugar/ butter and beat

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
    Combine wet and dry, form into two balls and chill for at least an hour.
    Roll out dough, cut into shapes.
    Bake in 180 C oven for ~10 min.

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Review: One to Ten and Back Again

I love it when our local library rhyme-time introduces me to a book I’m not familiar with. Especially a fun one like One to Ten and Back Again by Sue Heap and Nick Sharratt.

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Not just a simple counting book, it is really a lovely story looking at the friendship between a boy and girl. My almost 2 year old loved it, especially reviewing all the things we counted on the last page.

I’m familiar with Nick Sharratt from Shark in the Park and the illustrations here are done in the same fun simple style.

I’m not immediately adding this one to my collection but we’ll definitely borrowed it from the library now and then.

Modified Jamie’s 15 min gorgeous greek chicken couscous chicken

When my second baby was born I received the Jamie Oliver cookbook 15 Minute Meals, five and a half moths later I’ve finally had a chance to try one of the recipes.

I made a few changes to the recipe to make it easier (because Jamie’s 15 min is more like 60 for me) and to suit my tastes. It worked out so well and the whole family were fans so we’ll definitely be trying this again and others in the book.

Earlier in the day I marinated 2 chicken breast with the juice of 2 lemons, oregano, allspice, olive oil.

At dinner time, while the chicken was on the BBQ, I chopped up a couple of capsicum (red and green peppers), a small chili, and some spring onions.

I didn’t want to think about flavouring the Couscous so I bought a package of seasoned feta cheese instead of dealing with herb choices. Lazy, I know, but the book’s version of this recipe called for dill and I’m not a huge fan.

Mixed together: couscous, chopped veggies, cooked frozen peas, feta, and chopped BBQ chicken. Topped with store bough tzatziki (seriously Jamie, if I’m going to try and make a meal in 15 min I’m not going to make my own tzatziki!)

Delish!
If only is remembered to take pics before we ate it. Next time…

Attention to detail

I hate it when I don’t pay attention and order a US edition of a book that has different words than I’m used to.

I’d borrowed A Bit Lost from the library recently and both C and I enjoyed it so I figured I’d buy a copy. For whatever reason, the hardback edition was only available under the title Little Owl Lost which should have been a give away that it wasn’t the UK edition. But I didn’t think about the wording changes! Now it’s nothing major (Mommy instead of Mummy and cookie instead of biscuit) but it still irks me.

Of course, irony is that it doesn’t bother me because it uses US English, since I have plenty of books like this, but rather it bothers me because it is different than the edition I am familiar with. I had the same thing happen with Charles Fuge’s I Know a Rhino, except in that case I prefer the US English because that’s the version I read first.

So, lesson learned? Apparently I neither pay attention to detail nor adapt well to change. At least when it comes to picture books. Sigh.

Review: Knuffle Bunny Series by Mo Willems

It was a few years ago when I read my first Knuffle bunny book, and I didn’t get it at the time. But I didn’t have kids yet either.

Last year we got the first Knuffle Bunny book for C (then 16 months) and we’ve all been huge fans of it since. The premise is simple, the illustrations a brilliant combination of photographs and cartoon drawing, and the message was bang on for her age. A child’s beloved toy is lost and she is unable to communicate what is wrong, causing frustration both for her and her parent. Anyone with a preverbal toddler knows that frustration!

Since we loved the first so much I thought I’d get Knuffle Bunny Too and Free to have on the shelves for when the girls are ready.

Knuffle Bunny Too follows a similar storyline to the first, just for a slightly older audience. I think this could be pulled off the shelf and enjoyed right away. C does like series of books so I’m sure she’ll appreciate the follow up to the first book.

Knuffle Bunny Free made me cry. The girl in the story has grown up so much and I can’t help but think about how quickly my own are growing up. My girls are still far to young to appreciate what is happening in this story so it’ll stay shelved for a few years yet. But I may sneak it down every now and then simply to enjoy the poignant end to the Knuffle Bunny trilogy myself. Although the girl featured in this book is older, I think this book will be good for around age 5. When starting school and needing to learn about leaving your baby toys behind and growing up.

Overall, each one of these stories can stand on their own but as a set they are brilliant and I’d recommend to anyone whose child has a prized toy/possession that they’d be lost without.

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