Sunday, August 23, 2015

What We Choose To Remember

I love photographs. And I find them particularly wonderful as a Mama to three children. Because parenting can be tough. A minefield of unplanned occurrences and dramatic incidents. But it can also be lovely. Happy and spontaneous, in the most beautiful of ways. These tend to be the moments we capture, as parents. And why not? We don't care to remember the 16 month old's half hour meltdown, pre nap time. Or the hour and a half we took turns waiting in a queue in the hot sun, so our boys could experience 5 minutes on a bungy trampoline. Or the 879 times we were asked for an icecream...before lunch, during lunch AND after lunch. Or even breaking a shoe whilst wrangling a toddler, pram and bag of snacks. No Siree! These here are the memories we want to have and to hold. They are the ones that warm our hearts and will make us smile. Forever. Just a fun family day, at our local racecourse, in the toasty August sunshine. And my baby girl patting a little piglet...without a doubt the highlight for this Mama.

Friday, August 21, 2015

JJ's Chicken Pasta

Occasionally, I stumble across a winning meal by throwing together a random selection of available ingredients. My most popular example of this to date, is the dish I like to call JJ's Chicken Pasta. And I'm sure this recipe has been done somewhere in the world before my accidental discovery...and I'm certain it has a much better, more enticing name. But hey, I just know that I love it and my family loves it and that's enough for me. Especially with two boys who can NEVER agree on the meals they both like and a burgeoning Miss 16 month old, with a healthy appetite...but who will no doubt have fussy pants at some point in the not too distant future also. It's super quick and easy to prepare and only has a few ingredients, so chances are it's something that can be whipped up at short notice.

JJ's Chicken Pasta

2 tablespoons Olive oil
600g chicken tenderloins, chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 cup baby spinach or rocket (2 cups if desired)
1 190g jar of Leggo's sundried tomato pesto sauce
500g pasta 
(penne or trivelle are my faves, but any pasta or spaghetti will be fine)
Grated parmesan for garnishing 
(I use Millel parmesan, but any cheese will do nicely)

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.
Cook onion until soft and translucent.
Add chicken and stir until cooked through.
Spoon contents of pesto sauce into saucepan and stir until chicken is coated.
Add spinach or rocket 
*another tasty addition at this point is a handful of cherry bocconcini for an extra cheesy flavour*.
Cover saucepan and allow to simmer on very low heat or until spinach/rocket leaves have softened.
Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
Stir cooked pasta through chicken.
Serve with grated parmesan and cracked pepper.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Cherished Moments

As a child my greatest fear was something happening to my parents. And due to our incredibly close connection, more particularly, something happening to my Mum. There has been no one as constant in my life as my Mum, for as long as I have lived. This year has been the toughest and most confronting to date, where my parents are concerned. Times like these force me to look deeper than I ever thought possible, for strength and guidance. For what to do next. And for who to be, now that I am officially and without question, the adult. The unwavering responsibility I have taken on as Mama to my own babies, now has an added element to it. An overwhelming urge to protect and nurture and just be there. They're unchartered waters I'm sailing. They're deep and dark and rough, at times. And I'm absolutely certain I have no idea where they begin, or where they end. So I get up each day and just navigate my way, as best I can. And I thank time, for giving me these irreplaceable moments between my Mum and my girl. Or as Nana calls her "my girl".  

Walking Eden Gardens with Nana in July for her 76th birthday. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cottage Pie

Yes, this is the new and improved attitude towards menu planning for me. I am endeavouring to diverge from the stock standard mince meat meals that everyone is comfortable with and eats...but are completely bored silly to the eyeballs with. I'm looking at you lasagne, meatballs, spag bol, tacos and the like. So I mixed it up with an old fashioned favourite in this Cottage Pie recipe. The boys whinged about various aspects. One doesn't like potato much (potato? who even is this child?!) and the other didn't like the inclusion of peas to his diet. But overall this one went down well. Hubs and I loved it, so it will be returning somewhere in the meal rotation on a regular basis. Oh and the aroma this dish creates is reason enough to give it a try, anything is delightful where fresh herbs are involved. 

Cottage Pie

2 teaspoons olive oil
600g mince beef
1 brown onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, sliced finely
1 celery stalk, sliced finely
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup (70g) tomato paste
400g can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup (60g) frozen peas
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese 
(I actually used grated parmesan & it was delicious!)

Potato Topping
6 medium potatoes, chopped coarsely
60g butter
1/4 cup (60ml) milk


Preheat oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees fan-forced)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat.
Cook beef and onion, stirring for 5 minutes or until browned.
Add carrot, celery, thyme, stock, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomatoes.
Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. 
Add peas, cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until peas are tender and the liquid has thickened.

Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave potato until tender; drain.
Mash potato with butter and milk. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Spoon beef mixture into a 2.5 litre (or 10 cup) ovenproof dish.
Spread potato topping over beef mixture.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until topping is golden.
Serve sprinkled with extra thyme, if desired.