Dinner twist

I must admit I was intrigued.
The concept is a box of groceries with all the ingredients for three mystery recipes.

I was a bit concerned that they wouldn’t really be ‘our style’. We can both be picky eaters about certain things. We both don’t like spicy food, I hate bananas, he doesn’t like rice. Sure the rice thing knocks out a whole heap of dishes, but pasta is an easy substitute.

So we got a box of mystery groceries and three recipes. All three were things I wouldn’t usually think to cook.
One was salmon with mustard baked carrots, a pork curry, and a salami, cottage cheese pasta.

All three meals where delicious in their own way.
But the best thing about it is being able to choose how you want to cook them.

Given that the Mister doesn’t like rice we had the curry with pasta instead. We got spicy Hungarian salami so we swapped it (with a work mate) for some less spicy salami.

Let’s see what we get this week!

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Best tuna bake ever

This is the comfort food that comfort food eats when it feels down.

And to think I very nearly didn’t put it in the oven.

Let me step back. Zomg! Tuna bake.

So I took a couple of chances, and used what was in the cupboard.
There’s three key differences between this and my usual tuna bake.
I still haven’t got any cream and was low on milk so I used evaporated milk to make the sauce,
I added ravioli into the pasta mix, and nutmeg into the sauce.
If I was only cooking it for myself I would have added pineapple but that’s neither here nor there (I’m dating a lunatic, albeit a lovable one).

And I have explicit instructions to write this one down so I can make it again, and again, and again.

the recipe
Cook the pasta. I used fusilli and cheese ravioli.

Empty 3/4 tin of evaporated milk into a pot and slowly bring to the boil.
Add a tablespoon of cornflour to the remaining 1/4 tin of evaporated milk. Whisk well.
Once the evaporated milk starts gently bubbling add the cornflour/milk mixture. Whisk until it thickens.
Add nutmeg (probably more than you think – i accidently tipped in more than I would have and it worked a treat), a small tin of corn, two small tins of tuna, and about a cup of grated cheese.
Whisk some more until the cheese has melted.

Drain the pasta, and pour into a lasagna dish.
Pour over the sauce.
Top with salt, pepper, a drizzle of garlic olive oil, and more grated cheese.

Bake in the oven (about 180deg) for half an hour.
You know when the cheese goes all crispy and slightly burnt but ridiculously delicious? Yeah that’s how you want the cheese on top to be.

Serve with some fresh parsley and a good episode of Grand Designs.

(They restored a sea rescue house and it was right on the shoreline, Kevin wore a nautical striped suit and the house was all round and it had pretty red window frames. It was a very relaxing house.)

I think this would be a perfect camping recipe. It’s mostly in tins and uses dried pasta. And would go very nicely baking on an open fire.

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Pasta to keep vampires away

This was my signature dish when I was studying. It was during my teenage rebellion because it’s always had too much garlic in it (which I had to buy myself, as garlic was never in the house).
It’s not healthy but it will keep the vampires away. (Assuming your vampires subscribe to the common trait of disliking garlic. I like vampires that don’t like garlic.)

Step 1
Put grated cheese, crushed garlic, herbs, salt & pepper in a bowl.

Step 2
Cook angel hair pasta

Step 3
Add pasta to cheese & garlic using the starchy water as a sauce.

Step 4
Eat – preferably with white wine and big bang theory.

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chorizo macaroni

This is a recipe made up of leftovers. The leftover macaroni was cooked as a result of a macaroni flood (I tipped the bag a little way and it all came flooding into the water). The chorizo was the only meat that was in the fridge (it’s almost shopping day), and all the other ingredients are all things I always have in the cupboard.

The Recipe

½ chopped onion
½ stick Chorizo chopped in slices and then in halfs.
400g tin Tomatoes
1 glug Worcestershire sauce
2 glugs Tomato sauce
½ cup peas (I used frozen)
Fresh parsley
3 cups cooked Macaroni
Cheese to garnish

The Method
Fry the onion and chorizo in hot oil.
Once that’s cooked, add the tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire, and tomato sauce. Let that bubble away before adding the frozen peas.
Add the chopped fresh parsley (or whatever herbs you have).
Add the macaroni (it doesn’t need to be heated, the sauce will heat it through).

Once the macaroni is warm, serve in bowls with grated cheese over the top.

Serves 4
One serve went as is for the Mister.
One serve went over steamed frozen vegetables for myself.
One serve went in the freezer for another day.
And the final serve went towards my lunch.

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Mad Monkey and Hollowmen

A night at home with mad monkey.

I had a really late lunch (2:30!) so I wasn’t really hungry, and feeling very lazy.
So we ordered in. I had a Greek salad,with a garlic And rosemary pizza crust for carbs.
Mr Polka-dots had a Tom-Tom which isbacon, mushroom, creamy sauce with fettucine.

The salad was really fresh. It absolutely hit the spot. And I may have sneaked a couple of forks of pasta (and one sneaky dip of pasta on top of the pizza. One of the joys of eating at home). The pasta was pretty good. Nothing I couldn’t have made myself, but I didn’t want to cook now did I.

I have this weird thing about not watching sport whilst i eat (I always spill it, or end up not eating, or generally don’t enjoy it as much) so we always turn off whatever sport we’re watching and watch some entertainment.

Mister had an RDO today so he was home when I got home and was watching The Hollowmen. (Before I reminded him that there was a Chicago game taped and he promptly started watching that.) So once dinner arrived on went The Hollowmen again.
It’s an Australian comedy about Aussie politics. A bit like Yes Minister but dryer. It has some laugh out loud moments in this household, but it only lasted two seasons.

It revolves around the team behind the Prime Minister and the way they spin and make decisions for the country.
Here’s a clip, but I’m not sure it’s a program that really translates.
But then this household also loves Parks and Recreation which runs a similar premise.

Plan B – courtesy of Leggos

Well plan A was going to be a chicken pasta. However as I was defrosting it there was a strange smell eminating from the microwave so I decided not to risk it.

And there was nothing else in the freezer. Really must set a reminder for that.

So I sorted through the tins in the pantry to figure out what to feed a hungry man.

Fortunately I had a tin. Of spaghetti sauce. From a camping trip I overcatered for (why me?!) last year.

It’s doesn’t make for a bad sauce. Certainly with some bacon it was meaty enough. Some fresh herbs to add some flavor, and a dash of worcestershire sauce for good luck. Some olives for me and bobs your Aunty.

Dinner was served.

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Piccos on Peninsula Rd

On a hungover Saturday, the Mr dragged me out to dinner and away from my tracky daks and tea (hangover essentials).
The promise was pasta and pizza. The place was Piccos. I didn’t even know where it was, even though it’s just 2 minutes up the road. Turns out I used to run past it all the time.

The location isn’t idyllic, but the attention to detail inside more than makes up for the location.

From the handwritten menu on the wall, to the table numbers, to the umbrella stand, every little detail had been thought of and executed beautifully.

We were unprepared as usual, so it was water only for the table but we’ll know for next time (and there will be a next time).

After the promise of pizza and pasta, we had to choose. The pizza menu had so many delicious items, but I couldn’t go past the bbq chicken, with capsicum and onion. It’s one of my favourites.

Mr Polka-dots&Sparkles, had the linguini cabonara.
The food was good, just what I felt like. And we were able to take the rest of the pizza home (which is great because I can never eat a full pizza).

But looking around at all the different foods around us, next time I think we’ll be a little bit more adventurous.

I really wanted to take photos of everything, the whole place was just so cute.

It’s a keeper.

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Piccos Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Chicken tastes better when it’s drunk.

Or smothered in white wine as the case may be.

Using up the lasagne sheets I had used for the lamb pasta, and some chicken that I had in the fridge, comes this favourite.

Chicken and bacon cooked, then covered in white wine, then chicken stock and cream to bubble away and reduce.
At the very last minute snow peas and spinach leaves for some green and crunch.

Just the ticket.

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A soup and a pasta

Mondays can either go one of two ways.
Either I get home from work completely spent, uninspired, and want nothing more to collapse on the couch watching Project Runway.
Or I get home inspired, ready to clean the house, cook dinner, finish knitting projects that I was previously bored of, and take over the world.

Last night was the latter.
After an unenthusiastic day at work, I came home, did the grocery shopping, did a vague meal plan for the rest of the week, paid some bills, started the head of another minion, and cooked a two course meal. I even did the dishes afterwards (a rarity) so there isn’t washing up left over.

I borrowed a recipe from the blog of Food On Paper. It’s a delicious blog with food photography which I aspire to.
She posted this Mint, Pea, and Yoghurt soup a while back and I squirreled it away for a night like last night.

I was planning on trying to recreate the roasted lamb pasta which I had at the Royal not so long ago. So into the oven went a little lamb roast and some diced potatoes, carrots, and parsnip.

As I knew dinner was going to be late (roasting in the oven takes time) I thought I’d make a soup.
I’m always a bit ravenous when I get home and a quick soup seemed just the ticket.

See the recipe here.

The only variation was I didn’t have any mint! It’s a total disaster to not have an ingredient which is in the title, but it still worked. It would have worked better with some mint, but the only mint I had in the house was chocolate mint drinking powder. I decided against putting that in.

I served it up with the prescribed dollop of greek yoghurt which really made it something special. Accompanying it on the plate was some (store bought!) scones which had gone in the sandwich press to melt the parmesan cheese over the top.

To be honest that would have been enough. If I didn’t already have the roast in the oven I would have been quite content with just the soup and scone.

But the lamb was in the oven so once that was cooked it was rested until it was able to be sliced.
Into a hot pan went some garlic olive oil closely followed by some chopped onion. Then went the sliced lamb and the roasted vegetables.
On top of that went a bottle of passata, (I thought it was the closest match for what I had tasted at the royal), and then some water which rinsed out the jar.
That then came to the boil and then simmered until the pasta was cooked.

For the pasta, I used fresh lasagne sheets which I tore into rustic looking sheets.
I know why I don’t always use fresh pasta (it involves going to the shops more often) but oh how I love fresh pasta.
One of my dreams for when I have a bigger kitchen is a pasta maker.

Delicious! Even though he wasn’t hungry, Mr Sparklesness went back for seconds.
It’s a lamb roast, in a bowl, hugged by pasta.
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