Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Veggie pasta lasagna thingy

This was supposed to be dinner for 2 for one day, but it made rather more than I expected.  This was a good thing though because it lasted for 2 days.  Soooooo no cooking required on the second day - yeah!

Veggie pasta lasagna thingy is pasta shape of your choice or lasagna, mixed or layered with ratatouille and cheese.  It is delicious.

Here is how I made it:-

Cook one diced red onion in a drizzle of olive oil until soft.  You could add a little chopped garlic, but I faniced a garlic free day.

Add one chopped aubergine and a splash of sherry and water.  Stir together.

Add two chopped courgette's,

about 1 and a half chopped peppers of your choice (yellow and orange for me today),

1 tin of chopped tomatoes,

3 chopped fresh tomatoes, a good heaped teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

Cover and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until all the veggies are soft.

Remove most of the veggies from the pan as this makes the next stage easier.

Add pasta to the pan that has been cooked for about three quarters of the time it says on the pack.  I used 250g dried weight of pasta.  Then return the veggies a bit at a time, stirring into the pasta as you go.

Add two to three heaped dessert spoons of pesto and stir in.  If you are using lasagna, add the pesto to the veggies, then layer lasagna and sauce and then continue as below.

Mix a small tub of ricotta cheese with some sour cream to make it "spready", I added a good grinding of black pepper as well.  You could use milk instead of the sour cream.

Spread this over the pasta and veggie mix. 

Top with some grated cheese and bake in the oven until hot and bubbly.  I used Gouda and Parmesan.  The Gouda melted rather than browning, so if you prefer a browner top I would suggest Cheddar.


Notes and variations.

I didn't add a salad or any more veggies as it had a lot already, but it would serve 6 with a salad and some garlic bread.

You could swap the ricotta for cottage cheese or cream cheese (one with peppercorns is lovely).

It was tasty and easy to cook and as I said, made great leftovers on the second day, which made it even better!

Amended 6 Sept 13 - I use Gluten Free pasta for this as I am GF, sorry, forgot to say as it is habit to use it now.  You can of course use "normal" pasta as well I am sure!


p.s. when I finished writing and adding my photos I went back and read through and checked to make sure I had added the right photos and I just noticed that nearly all of these pictures include a spoon - you must think I am spoon obsessed.  It made me laugh at myself!!

p.p.s I wonder if it is appropriate to include a p.s. on a blog?

p.p.p.s do you think that anyone still uses a p.s. these days anyway?

p.p.p.p.s these are getting silly now, so I WILL stop!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Proper blogging

It seems that I have not been blogging properly.  Apparently I don't reply to comments correctly.  I have managed to sort out my settings in my profile so that I am not a "no reply" blogger, but I have been replying to comments "in the comments" not via e-mail.

Apparently this is "not the way to do it" (use your best Mr Punch voice here!).

I am told that being a "no reply" blogger is a bad thing and being a "not a no reply blogger" that doesn't reply properly isn't good either.  I have no idea if any of this is true or not, but there you go.  I'm just letting you know what I have been told.

So in case I have been doing it wrongly, apologies if you did not know that I had read, published and replied to your lovely comments.  Go back, have a look, I did reply!  I said nice things and I appreciated the nice things that you said too.

In future, I promise, I will do my best to reply properly, and if you comment and don't get a reply back from me in your inbox, go and check your comment on my blog - 'cause the reply will be there.  Promise.

Here is a bunch of flowers to say sorry!

Linda - I will try the bread soon!

I love all your comments and watching the number of views from all around the world going up and I am very thankful to you too.


Weekend baking and cooking

After making the discovery of jam mountain when sorting out my cupboards last week I thought I had to do something about tackling it.

I decided to make some jam palmiers.  Palmiers are normally made with a sugary filling, sometimes they have savoury filling such as cheese.  I decided though to give some jam ones a try.

I had mixed results.  The jam I used was very thick, so it did not spread well.  This meant that I probably put too much on the pastry, so it came out of the pastry and made things rather sticky.  The finished articles tasted good though, and to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling's poem If, it is important to "meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same".

Although they didn't turn out quite as I would have liked, it was fun making them and they tasted great.

This is how I made them, next time I will use a thinner jam and slightly thicker rolled pastry.  I have a pot of lavender sugar in the cupboard, so I might try making some more another day using that sugar.  I'll let you know how they go if I give them a try.

I used 250g of ready made all butter puff pastry, which was half this amount.

Rolled out very thinly.  I think a little thicker would have worked better.

Then I spread the pastry with blackberry and apple jam.  I used a whole jar!  The lumps are the blackberries which were still whole.

One side rolled to the middle.

Then the other side.

I cut the roll in half to allow me to move it to a baking sheet.  This went into the fridge to chill for about half an hour.

Then they were cut into slices before chilling again.

I put 9 to a cookie sheet, and then into the oven, set at 200 degrees C for about 13 minutes.  Keep watching them though as you don't want burnt jam.

The final product after cooling down.  A bit sticky, but tasty none the less.

These were smaller than I would have liked, so instead of rolling in the long sides, you could try rolling in the short sides to get bigger palmiers.

I had better luck with the other 250g of the pastry.

Rolled out less thinly than before.

Cut into two rectangles.  A border is scored about 1/2 inch in from the edge.  I didn't want to use an egg just for this, but you could brush the border with a little beaten egg to make it go shiny after baking.

They were then spread thinly with pesto, topped with sliced tomatoes and olives, a little salt and pepper.  Into the oven at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes.

All done.

A very tasty lunch indeed of Pesto, Tomato, Olive Tarts!  If you are having them as they are they serve one per person, or if you add a salad you could serve one between two.

I hope that you had a lovely weekend doing something fun.  Thank you to those who have left lovely comments for me.  It is great to know that you are out there reading and to hear what you have to say.


Friday, 26 July 2013

red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue

'Cause I am old now (I feel it even if others tell me not), I remember things from decades ago, not just years ago.

I know that I am old because when I talk to the bright young things of the future who are at Uni they are so different from me, and are still idealistic and have none of the knowledge of all the pitfalls and downfalls of life.  How I wish that I could still be like that.  I feel the same in myself, but I know that life has knocked off some corners and taken away some of the shine.

One of the things that I find myself remembering sometimes when I am doing things around the house like baking or gardening are little snippets of songs.

Yesterday when I was feeling very knocked and not shiny this song came to me.  I think the words go something like this:-

Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue
I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow true

Listen with your eyes, listen with your eyes
Sing everything you see

I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow
Sing a rainbow true

My Mum used to sing to us all the time when we were children and I remember her singing this song.  I am not sure if it is English or Australian, as we used to have rather a strange mix.  Kookaburra sits in the old oak tree anyone?

This got me to thinking (sorry, my grammar is going downhill fast this week!), could I photograph something beautiful in each of these seven colours.

What do you think?  I had fun taking these photos and they made me feel shinier again.

Perhaps I am not so old, I still like to do these funny little things and sing songs to myself like a 5 year old does.

I just need to repair my bent corners and give myself a buff up and polish (sorry, does that sound weird, I don't mean it too!)

I hope that you are feeling young and idealistic and that your corners are intact and that you are feeling bright and shiny.  If not, go and spend some time with yourself and give yourself a break and do something fun to brighten your day.

Thank you to all those people who have been reading this blog.  Did you know that you are spread all over the world.  People are reading in places that I never even thought about people reading me.

It is great to know that you are interested in what I have to say, so THANK YOU, and I love ya'll.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How did this happen

I like to think that I am fairly organised.

Look.  This isn't bad.

So, what on earth happened here.

Same kitchen, less than 10 feet apart.  What is going on.

The ONLY rational explanation is that the mess bunny has struck.  He must have (note the mess bunny is a boy.  A girl would NEVER do anything like this!).  It can't have been me just stuffing things back in the cupboard.

Tin of beans falling on your head anyone?

I took everything out and put it on the bench.  Clearly, the only way is to start again.

I'm running out of space.  I better move the kettle.

Halfway there.

Done!  What a lot of stuff in such a little cupboard.

Look what I found.

5 jars of jam.  What am I doing with all this jam.  We hardly eat any jam.  Perhaps once a month.  Literally.  Where did it all come from?  Why did I accept 3 jars from my Mum's stash.

I looked in the fridge where I keep open jars.  There was more in there too.

The Damson Jam is wonderful by the way.  If you buy some can I suggest hiding it, as others will try and steal it from you.

All these beans.  We love beans.  But 6 cans.  For two people!

A lot of seeds.  Why so many?  Plans for bread that are not going well.

All sorted out now though, and plans made for it.  Well, apart from all those seeds.  Not sure what to do with them.  My no knead bread is NOT going well so far.  I had planned to add them to the top, but I am reluctant to waste them when my bread is not working.

I cannot show you a picture of the bread.  It was so horrible I didn't even photograph it.  I just checked back through my pictures.  Not one snap.  It must have been bad!!!

All neatly put back in the cupboard.  Probably not perfect.  But not so precarious and all the same sorts of things grouped together.

I hope these photos will remind me not to let this happen again.

Now, what to do next.

Some sort of cake is needed for the jam mountain.  I think I have a recipe for some cake bars with a layer of jam in the middle.

Also, more practice on the breadThen we can spread jam on our bread.

Bean salad or chilli for all the beans (probably salad given the heat we are having).

I am off to research recipes.  What do you think of jam flavoured palmiers.  There is some puff pastry in the freezer...  I'll let you know how it goes!


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Fill your house for free with furniture for free

I am just watching Kirstie Allsopp's new television programme Fill Your House For Free.

If you are inspired by this, may I remind you of the table that we made this weekend FOR FREE, FROM NOTHING!

Sides and middle come together

Add a top

Paint it up

Ready to go

We don't need Kirstie to inspire us, we have already had a go!

Should you be inspired to have a go, I hope that you have lots of fun and make something that you love as much as we love our new FREE TABLE!

The sides were free, the middle was free, the top was free, the paint was free, the bolts were ... free!!


Monday, 22 July 2013

New Royal Baby

Just so I cannot be accused of cheating in case I am right!  Now that the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour I thought that I would declare my guesses for baby names.

For a girl, I think that either Elizabeth or Victoria could be good choices and for a boy I like George or Alfred.

We will have to see if I am right or wrong.

What do you think, what are your guesses.  Let me know if you turn out to be right or wrong.


So, now we know that it is a BOY!  Congratulations to their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son at 4.24 this afternoon.

I wish all three of them all the happiness and joy that a new birth brings and many many happy times together.

UPDATE 18.22 24 July 2013

Well, I made a good guess there on George!

May I wish you a long and happy life Your Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Something from nothing

We all love something for nothing.  Well this is something from nothing.

Several years ago, whilst clearing my in law's garden my husband and I rescued the various parts from the base of an old treadle sewing machine.

We painted some of the smaller decorative parts and put them on the wall in our garden as decoration.  The other parts have been waiting to do something more interesting.

They have held down furniture covers in the winter, propped open the shed door, stopped the cover of the compost bin from blowing away.

But this weekend they had their day.  Finally.

After much deliberation we had decided what to do with them.  Make a them into a table to use when we are barbecuing.  You can never have enough space to stand things when you are grilling.  You need plenty of space for your drink!

The two sides came together with the old treadle frame as a support for the two sides.

Then a top was added.  This was free too!

It is made from the leaf of an old table that we gave away.

Once it was screwed to the base, we had a great table.


Then a coat of paint was added to compliment our other metal garden furniture which is also green.

Now there is a new table in the garden.  For free.  The screws and bolts were already in the shed left over from other projects, the table leaf was left over from the table we didn't need, and the base was rescued from rusting away.

As you can see it made our barbecue dinner really easy to prepare and cook.

This has to be a good thing.  Something from nothing!

The chicken and steak were marinated in olive oil and Old Bay Seasoning.  I have just discovered that you can get Blackened Old Bay Seasoning.  When I give it a try I'll let you know what it is like.

Our chicken and steak were incredibly flavourful and the table certainly helped with the cooking!

An easy dinner of chicken, steak and salad.  Made easier with our something from nothing table.