Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pumpkin Prune cake

I just love all things pumpkin and I love this cake recipe.  Somehow I forget that I have it and only bake it once or twice a year.  It is such a lovely moist cake with no need for icing. It is so yummy straight out of the oven with the golden rich yellow colour and flavour.  However we didn't have any prunes so we used sultanas/raisins instead although I know the prunes would give it a good extra sweetness.

Pumpkin and Prune Cake

250g butter
      1 tsp grated orange rind
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup cold mashed pumpkin
 I used a Jap pumpkin (or Kent), it's suggested not 
  to use butternut pumpkin
1/2 cup finely chopped prunes or sultanas
2 cups plain flour
4 teasp baking powder
1/3 cup milk

Turn oven on to 180°C/350°F.
Cream butter, orange rind and sugar together until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in orange juice, pumpkin and prunes, then sifted flour and baking powder, alternately with enough milk to give a soft consistency. Spread into greased deep 20cm round cake tin with base lined with paper, bake in moderate oven (180°C/350°F) for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, stand 5 mins, turn onto wire rack and cool. But not too much because you want to eat it when it's hot, especially with butter.  Mmmm sweet and salty, enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For a quick and easy meal you can't go past spaghetti and meatballs.  Firstly you must buy some gourmet sausages, thin spaghetti and a bottle of pasata.  Do not, I repeat, do not buy thin cheap pork sausages made out of pigs bits and bread meal.  You need delicious flavoursome sausages that you can actually see the meat in them.  I used lamb, mint and rosemary sausages from our lovely butcher down the road.  They make a most beautiful range of gourmet sausages, my favourites are chicken and sweet corn and pork, leek and roasted garlic, which I often use for my spagetti and meatballs.  These sausages have a flavour all on their own and only need a little back up....the passata, a cooked tomato concentrate.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

7-8 gourmet sausages your flavour of choice
1 700g jar passata
thin spaghetti noodles
extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan
side salad of your choice
balsamic vinegar

Slice down one side of your sausages with sharp knife and peel off the sausage skin.  Heat pan and add a dash of extra virgin olive oil.  You won't need too much oil as the sausages will have their own fat to add to the pan.

When pan is hot break off chunks of sausage and drop into the pan.  Let the sausage brown a little then shake the pan up a bit to brown the other side of the meatballs.  You want them cooked through but not burnt and sticking to the pan.  You may need to drain a little of the fat out of the pan, but leave some as that has flavour in it.  While these are cooking boil a large pot of salted water for your spaghetti.  

Pour in the whole jar of passata with the meatballs.

Mix it up a little and let bubble and simmer while your spagetti cooks

When your spaghetti is cooked, drain serve it up on a plate topped with the meatballs and sauce.  Finish it up with a little salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle a little fresh grated parmesan over the meatballs.

Your kids will thank you and say "this is a great dinner mummy"......"I love this dinner mummy"......and then this will happen...

.....there will be none left and they will be singing "On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed......".

Full lyrics go here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scone Cookies

This is the first time I've tried this recipe.  They are supposed to be rock cakes but as soon as Donald saw them he said they looked like little scones and they taste a little like them too.  So that is what I've christened them as they are far from rock cakes.  The recipe is taken from another Australian Womens Weekly cook book: babies and toddlers good food.  I changed the recipe a little again as I preferred my method of mixing.  You can also adjust the amount of baking powder so they don't get that baking powder spiciness in them, you know how it makes your teeth squeek, so just add a little less if you want.  I made half of the batch with sultanas and the other half with chocolate chips as one of my boys doesn't like sultanas, I try to please every one.

Scone Cookies

3 cups plain flour
5 tspns baking powder
1/2 tspn cinnamon
135g butter, chopped and softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas/or 1 cup choc chips
3/4 cup milk approx
2 eggs
sugar extra for sprinkling on top

Turn oven on 190°C/375°F.  Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into bowl.  Mix butter and sugar together then stir in flour mixture and a alternate with a little milk and add the eggs.  Mix in sultanas or choc chips.  Drop tablespoons of the mixture on a lined baking tray a few cm's apart.  I rolled them in my hand to round them off before putting on the tray, it got a little sticky though.  

Sprinkle extra sugar over top of each cookie and bake in a moderately hot oven for 11-12 minutes or until browned lightly.  Makes about 45 cookies. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Welcome to my new cooking blog.  Aptly titled, because that is what I hear everyday.  What's for dinner Mum?  I am a mum to 3 hungry boys and coming up with miracles every day to please every child as well as a husband and myself is hard work.  So I have been accumulating a few recipes and to help you take some of the guess work out of thinking up dinners or snacks or deserts I will be sharing them with you.  This blog will eventually be a cook book for when my boys leave home and they can take it with them where ever they may be.  I know that's a long time away but I thought I'd get started now.  I've been posting recipes on our family blog earthwalkerfamily every now and then so I'll be transferring those recipes here, so don't feel duped if you've seen it all before.

A special big thank you to Donald for conjuring up my new header, if only I looked that good every day.

Chocolate cup cakes

I thought I might start the new blog off with a lovely chocolate cup cake recipe.  I spent last week baking 5 dozen of these for school cake day and Mother's day morning tea and topped them off with a glossy chocolate icing with a sprinkling of hearts.  This recipe comes from my trusty old Best Recipes from the Weekly (Australian Women's Weekly) cookbook.  It's an old one and I picked it up second hand in a bookstore in Chilliwack, BC Cananda back in 1997 for $5.50.  I've tweaked the recipe a little to suit me but it's pretty much the same as in the book.

Chocolate cup cakes

185 g butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
  2 tspn baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Chocolate icing

60g dark chocolate melts or choc bits
15g butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tblsp milk

Turn oven on to 180°C/350°F. Mix sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, add eggs.  Sift dry ingredients and mix together and add chocolate chips.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients together until the mixture becomes lighter in colour.

You can either pour all of the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake for approx 30 mins in a moderate oven until a skewer comes out clean, don’t over cook, you want to keep it a moist cake.

Or you can bake as cup cakes and put desert spoons of the mixture into lined cupcake pans and bake for approx 16 mins. The cup cakes will bounce back when ready when you press them, don’t over cook.  Cool cakes completely before icing.  Unless of course you like hot cup cakes with gooey chocolate icing running down your fingers then it's entirely up to you.  If you can wait, here's the icing recipe.

Chocolate Icing:  Melt chocolate and butter in a small pan over low heat, stir in sifted icing sugar and enough milk to soften the mixture.  If you prefer to melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water that is fine. Take off the heat and mix in more icing sugar or milk depending on how thick you want your icing.  I like to get that shiny glaze and smoothness to the icing before I put it on the cakes so when it sets they look smooth and glossy.  If the icing starts to roughen up or harden add a little milk and put on stove for a minute to loosen it up.

Flat Roasted Chicken

I published this recipe as a celebration of my 300th blog post on my family blog.  This is a quick and easy way of preparing a tasty roast chicken in a hurry.  If you don't have the fresh herbs, dried will do fine.  I think this is one of Donna Hays recipes from The Instant Cook book.  She has some very simple recipes that are very easy to cook.  I just love a good simple chicken dish with fresh herbs, I have a few up my sleeve.  I hope you enjoy this one.

Flat roasted chicken

1 whole free range chicken
1 lemon sliced
handful of thyme sprigs
handful of oregano sprigs, you can also pull the leaves
off the stalk of oregano and thyme if you prefer it that way.
8 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200°C (390°F)

Prepare your roasting tray, lay half of the garlic cloves unpeeled, half the lemon slices and half of the thyme and oregano into the bottom of the tray.

Cut the chicken either down the breast bone or the back bone and open up the one cut side. You'll need a big sharp knife or kitchen scissors for this. Turn the open side down into the tray on top of herbs and garlic, press on top to flatten the chicken. Rub olive oil all over, season with salt and pepper and place remaining thyme and oregano over top, with the rest of the garlic cloves tucked in under the wings and in crevises. Lay the remaining lemon slices over top of the herbs and chicken.

Now depending on how quick you want to eat your chicken you can put it straight into the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, or you can turn down the oven to 180°C (350°F) and cover the tray with aluminium foil and cook it a little slower for an 1 hr 10 mins or so (this keeps it lovely and moist) and then take the foil off and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so until it browns up a little. I've tried it both ways and have loved it either way.

If you want quick roast vegies too, pre-boil some potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots, drain then sprinkle with olive oil and salt then put in the oven on another tray for about 30 mins. Keep and eye on the chicken and vegies as I have a slow oven and yours may be quicker, you just don't want the chicken to dry out.

Retain the juices from the pan and some of the cooked garlic, squeeze the garlic out of the shell and mix up a little gravy, add some flour, chicken stock and water and bring slowly to the boil. It is a lovely, lemony chickeny, garlicy flavour, delicious poured over the chicken and any roast vegies.

Sorry I forgot to take photo's of the finished product but I was so eager to dig in and eat it, so you'll have to make do with partial shots of the roasted chicken.