Icecream in a Bag & Pasta Jewellery!

Pretty chuffed to see my tutorial for making ice-cream in a bag featured on the home page  over at Kidspot today!  Head on over here for the deets on making your own.



You’ll also find there another FGB tutorial, featuring the fabulous Frog, on how to make your own coloured pasta jewellery!


Or for more ways to amuse the kids this weekend, you might like to hang out at the FGB kids craft page. 

KIDS CHRISTMAS CRAFT: PASTA ANGELS

In unpacking the Christmas decos last week,
(or was that the week before?!  Life is flying along at a rapid rate at the moment!)
I discovered these cute pasta angels that Goose made last year with her Grandma.  My mother-in-law makes these every year and she is quite the expert, but she tells me it is very easy.  All you need is some pasta, a wooden bead and a hot glue gun! 

 Goose spray painted these with some gold glitter and it looks like some white paint on there too.  They look more gold in real life.

You’ll find a well written tutorial here.  
Although they draw on the hair and face, instead of small pasta as hair.  Both look cute.


For more kids Christmas crafts, you can head over here to the FGB kids craft page.


COLOURED PASTA MADE EASY

When Bear came home from kinder last week with a gorgeous pasta jewellery creation and some annoying bickering ensued (because Frog wanted one too!) we decided that we’d make some more at home.

This time I thought I’d attempt a different way to dye the pasta and it was soooooo easy and the colors were much more vibrant than my previous attempts. So easy in fact that this could be a more regular activity.

EASY PASTA DYING METHOD:
1. Place uncooked pasta into a snaplock bag.
2. Put a few squirts of hand sanitiser into the bag.
3. Put a few drops of food dye into the bag.
4. Zip up bag and shake until colouring has mixed. (only a few seconds)
5. Empty bag onto paper towel or newspaper and dry in the sun.
(or on heater or just on bench)

N.B. Must put sanitiser in first, before food dye, or the color does not distribute evenly.

For making jewellery you will obviously need pasta with holes. We have had lots of fun with different shaped pasta such as dinosaurs, teddy bears, alphabet and farm animals which can all found at the supermarket.

This method works even better when coloring rice as it drys within minutes. Lots of fun can be had with colored rice as you can see here.

For more children’s craft activity ideas you might like to have a look at my Kids Craft Page.



EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS … & lunchbox dilemmas

During a conversation about lunchboxes and Goose’s ‘like it one day, but not the next’ approach to school lunches, it was realised that Mr FGB and I are both actually the same as her when it comes to eating! If a meal is served up twice in a fortnight it just feels a little boring…we are not so enthusiastic. We need a bit of variety. While Mr FGB and I are a little more grown up and will eat it anyway (and Goose needs to suck it up girlfriend and do the same) I feel that it may be time to broaden and expand the mealtime repertoire.

I found this hard for most of last year and just too much pressure as quite frankly, if you’re on your own with three kids, you’re exhausted, your brain feels like mush and you’re trying to do a thousand other things at the same time it is much easier and peasier to prepare something you’ve done many times before and just go on autopilot. Preparing something they might like, as opposed to something you know every one does like, has much more appeal! Now that Mr FGB is around a little more I might be able to manage one new recipe a week. That’s the aim anyway.

With the abundance of basil in our garden, I was inspired this week to make homemade pesto. Super easy and so delicious. Head over to Alice Becomes for simple instructions on how to make your own pesto and ideas on how to use it in different meals. I can still smell the basil in the kitchen as I type and the thrill of using lemons and basil from your own garden is priceless.

I have a few more easy meal posts in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you’re after easy dinner inspiration, and you’ve checked out all of mine, a blog that I like to frequent is Crumbs – they even list recipes by the time it takes to make them. Check out their pesto with a difference in the 5 minute recipe section.

If you’ve written a post about an easy peasy recipe – leave a link in the comments.
How often do you try new recipes?
Do you have any ideas for healthy lunchbox sandwich alternatives?
All suggestions gratefully received!


EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #15

CHICKEN BASIL & LEMON PASTA

250g short pasta
2 small chicken breasts
200ml creme fraiche or mascarpone
1/3 cup shredded basil, plus extra leaves to serve
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
finely grated rind & juice of 1 lemon
200g of one or mixture of broccoli, peas or green beans, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces & blanched.

1. Cook pasta in large saucepan. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, poach the chicken fillets in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain & set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche, shredded basil, parmesan and lemon rind & juice. Season to taste.
4. Combine the pasta, sliced chicken, vegetables & basil sauce in a large bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle with extra basil to serve.
If the almost 2 year old steals more than a few frozen peas during the preparation, all the better.

but if the 3 year old decides to take some funny photos with his Mum pretending to eat straight from the extra large bowl Mum has decided to place ALL of the pasta in so that everyone can serve themselves…….

beware of the ensuing small tantrum because he thinks the giant bowl of pasta is all for himself and the throwing of his own small plastic bowl of pasta all over the floor.
(why do my meals always involve so much mess!)

We compromised with a bigger than usual adult sized bowl on a special table mat designed by his little sister (who of course then needed her own special big adult sized bowl too)…. oh the joys. *

Now it’s your turn!
Share your easy peasy dinner winner down below!
I know you’ve got them – if you forgot to take a photo, just take one of the ingredients, the cookbook or find one on the web. Not sure how many more weeks of recipes I have in me… so now is your time!



* I must add that I am one who likes to stand my ground when necessary, but in this instance it really was not worth it – “Choose your battles” is my common mantra – there are far too many other bigger battles that I fight throughout the rest of the day and the size of the pasta bowl was certainly not going to be one of them! Not today when we were all sick and not feeling our best.

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #13

As embarrassing as this may sound, as it’s not the most gourmet of meals, this is such a favourite of mine that before moving in with my husband one of my previous housemates put their hand on his shoulder and said in the most serious of voices –
“Mate, I hope you like tuna casserole.”
It turned out that he didn’t like tuna casserole!!
What was I to do??
Would this relationship actually work after all??

Thankfully, after going back to the source of the recipe, the good old ‘Cookery the Australian Way‘ from High School Home Economics class, I discovered that instead of just stirring the sauce through the pasta, if you alternated the layers of sauce and pasta and then sprinkled it with some breadcrumbs, (and served it with a little parsley sprig & lemon wedge – he’s sucked in by the presentation that man) that it made all the difference – he LOVED it and we are still happily married almost 11 years later!
I will be forever grateful that my children like this meal also as they may just have been disowned and put out for adoption if they didn’t. What’s not to love?

There are many ways to make tuna casserole, but quite frankly, mine is the best.
TUNA & NOODLE CASSEROLE
(source – adapted slightly by me)

425g can tuna
250ml cheese sauce (see below)
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 tspns lemon juice
1 cup cooked noodles
1 cup frozen peas
440g can pineapple pieces
1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs

1. Set oven at 190C. Brush or spray casserole with oil (I actually don’t).
2. Make cheese sauce (see below).
3. Combine tuna, cheese sauce, pineapple, peas, chopped parsley & lemon juice (I add a bit of pepper here too).
4. Place noodles and fish mixture in layers in the casserole.
5. Top with breadcrumbs, spray with oil. Bake at 190C for 30 mins.
6. Garnish with lemon & parsley.

CHEESE SAUCE:
1. Melt 1 tbs butter in saucepan & remove from heat.
2. Add 1 1/2 tbs flour & stir with wooden spoon.
3. Cook slowly for 30 secs, stirring continuously. Remove from heat.
4. Gradually add 1 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of grated cheese & a dash of pepper.
5. Return to heat & stir until boiling.
6. Reduce heat & stir for 1 min.

It can be made in 20 mins flat to get it on the table, unless you do the full bake version…. which for the sake of marital harmony, we now do!

Now it’s your turn!
Do you have an easy peasy meal to share? We’d all love to know it!

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #12


MACARONI BAKE
1 & 1/2 cups macaroni pasta
4 rashers bacon
1 onion (peeled & finely chopped)
440g tin of tomato soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese

1. Place macaroni in boiling water for 8 minutes.
2. Drain well & put it into an 8 cup casserole dish.
3. Chop bacon & onion and fry gently in frying pan.
4. Stir bacon & onion into pasta.
5. Stir in soup, milk & grated cheese.
6. Bake at 190C for 45 mins.

Such a simple recipe, yet there are always requests for second helpings in this house! My sisters and I loved this as children and now my children (and even my husband) love it. My sister Lou cooks it for her family regularly also.


I used to feel a little guilty about the lack of vegetables in this dish, but then again, it does have onion… and onion is a vegetable.


HEALTH BENEFITS of the ONION…

Onion is a powerful anti-septic that is rich in vitamins A, B and C. It is a potent source of folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chromium, iron and dietary fiber.

Ancient records reveal that onions have been used as far back as 4000 B.C. as a cure-all for many illnesses. Even now, we find many medicinal properties from this dynamite bulb.

For an amazing and extensive list of the onion’s beneficial properties as an anti-coagulant, anti-infammatory, anti-septic, in treating anemia, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and many other health benefits, including that the onion is a potent aphrodisiac, see here.

You can always serve this meal with some salad or vegetables on the side if you’d like to add to the magical properties of the marvellous onion!

P.S. While researching the onion, I discovered that if you put it in the fridge for an hour before you cut it, it will not cause as many tears! Also, to get rid of onion (or garlic) smell that hangs around on your hands, rub your hands on stainless steel (like your kitchen tap) and it magically goes away! It’s true!



Now it’s your turn!
Link your easy peasy dinner winner below! Dessert, main meal, side dish or snack, I’m not fussed.

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #9

Thanks so much to all of you who joined in last weeks inaugural
I was so excited that people actually linked up!

I’d like to tell you that all of my meal times are now easy peasy as well, now that I have so many fantastic recipes – & they are fantastic! But to be honest, I am still struggling. As of yesterday my husband has started a new 6 month rotation at work where he will be rostered on from 6am – 8pm every week day. That means “dinner, bath & bed” routine on my own 5 nights a week (and more when he works a weekend every 6 weeks). So I’m dragging a little in the enthusiasm for preparing dinner at the moment. Sometimes I do wish I had not decided to serve my children (somewhat) healthy homemade meals every night and to not use the prepackaged, highly processed stuff…

I have high hopes for some improvement though. Thanks to Kim from Cuggles!Creations I am now armed with some ideas to have a fortnightly menu rotation thing going on that also links up with the shopping list. I will try to make the meal earlier in the day and I will try to allow myself to acknowledge that I’m still a great Mum even if there are meals of omelettes, sausages in bread or a jar of pesto stirred through some pasta on more than the odd occasion.

Did manage this yummy easy pasta this week though…

My eldest said “Mum, is this easy?” When I replied “Yes”, she answered “Well, it’s a winner! You should definitely put that one on your blog!”
Now that put a smile on my face!


CREAMY CHICKEN, BACON & SPINACH PASTA

1 tbspn olive oil
175g bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup of thickened cream
(or light evaporated milk)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 small BBQ’d chook, meat shredded
100g baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
375g pasta of your choice

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan on high. Add bacon & onion and cook, stirring, for 4-5 mins or until onion is tender.
2. Add peas, cream & stock, then bring to boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 mins or until the sauce is reduced and thickened slightly. Season to taste . Stir in the chicken, spinach & parmesan.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When cooked, return pasta to pan.
4. Toss sauce through pasta and serve.

MY OWN ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS:
- light evaporated milk has much less fat. I use this as I always have tin in cupboard.
- I just boil a couple of chicken breasts & shred it. Healthier & more readily available in my freezer.
- I ran out of spinach (& my kids pick it out anyway), so none in this photo!


Now you can get in on it too! Take a photo of your dinner tonight,
or sometime this week & link your easy peasy recipe down below, so that we can all give it a go! Don’t forget to link back to here in your post so others can join in the fun and have access to some great new easy dinner recipes!
Alternatively, feel free to just link up an old post that you’ve written if it contains what we’re after!


* As there are so many great recipes being linked in now, I have decided to no longer include the guest recipe section.

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #3

Please do not think that you need to be some perfect 1950′s housewife to be cooking these meals, in fact, quite the opposite! I just liked the picture. This weeks recipes are, as per usual, easy peasy! I got this one from adelicious magazine years ago and often pull it out when I can’t be bothered putting too much effort into dinner, but the husband is always impressed. It’s all about presentation, baby – a sprig of parsley and a shave of parmesan can go a long way ;-)
TOMATO & OLIVE SPAGHETTINI

500g pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
250g black olives
2 tbs pesto or 1 tbs baby capers or 2 tbs olive paste (optional)
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
freshly grated parmesan.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large frypan over low heat, then add garlic & cook gently for
about a minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato & olives, increase heat to medium, season to taste & cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until warmed through.
Toss the pasta with the tomato sauce, then add any of the optional ingredients (I use pesto & I use more than 2tbs sometimes), parsley & parmesan.


GUEST RECIPE:

BOUNTIFUL MEATBALLS
from Tracee at Bountifully.

Get a simple tomato sauce going by chopping an onion and garlic, frying gently then adding 600ml passata (or chopped tinned tomatoes if that is all you have), finely chopped carrot (I do mine in the food processor) and a good splog of white wine. Bring to a gentle simmer and get on with the meat balls.

Grab about 400 g each of pork and veal mince (I make my own veal mince from veal schnitzel as it is cheaper and less fatty), mix with about a cup full of fresh bread crumbs, a quarter cup of grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, whatever herbs you have about (I used oregano and parsely tonight), and an egg. Mush it all up together with your hands, then roll into balls and plop into your simmering sauce. Allow it to all simmer together for about 15 min or so, or until the meat balls are cooked through. You can serve them up with pasta, couscous (nice with a bit of mint tossed through) or Italian bread. This is one of my favorite fugal food recipes!



For some great meal ideas for fussy eaters check out Sonia’s post at Light Shade of Green.

I’ll need a guest recipe for next week, so if you’ve got one – send it this way!

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #2


Here is my second post containing easy peasy super quick, yet healthy dinners for those week nights when you just need to get something on the table! Nothing fancy here. Please don’t think that I am some super – absolutely love to cook, kind of Mum – I am VERY over cooking dinner at the moment! I do it out of necessity. I cook dinner 6 nights a week and on the seventh day I rest – and we do takeaway (or on the very, very odd occasion my husband will be home in time for dinner & he’ll cook). So I thought I’d share with you some of the easy things that I have done as a way to get some from you! How do you cope with getting dinner on the table every night? Do you slave away in the kitchen all day cooking gourmet feasts or do you get home from work and whip something out of the freezer? Or something in between?

I got this one from my friend Agatha and it is her husband’s recipe. Although it has a long cooking time, it has a very quick preparation time….
JOHN’S CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS
preheat oven to 180 degrees
wash chicken legs (skin on) & put into oven roasting dish
sprinkle with salt, pepper & dried oregano
turn over in dish & sprinkle other side with salt, pepper & dried oregano
Very quick drizzle with olive oil over legs
cook in 180 degree oven for 45mins -1hr
Take out of oven & squeeze lemon juice over legs
serve with plain rice and steamed vegies.


MORE DRUMSTICK IDEAS:
Just as yummy, we have tried – Cornflakes on Chicken Drumsticks or rolling them in flour, egg then breadcrumbs and just serving with some vegies. I often cook this Roast Lemon Chicken (pictured below) as it only has a few ingredients, is quick to prepare and loved by all.


GUEST RECIPE:

GINA’S BROCCOLI PASTA
from Gina at Clutterpunk

Steam broccoli pieces (the more the better) over pasta pot. Meanwhile melt some anchovies in a pan with a good lug of olive oil, add chilli flakes, garlic and lemon zest if you’ve got it. Chuck the broc in once it’s tender and saut√© for a bit. When the pasta is done add it in too with some pasta water and/or more olive oil to ensure it’s moist. Sprinkle with toasted pinenuts/almond flakes and Parmesan cheese.

Please keep emailing your recipes in and I’ll add them in the weeks to come!



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