What to make for dinner?…Just make it all…!!!

Beef Casserole with Mushrooms and Leeks and Tomatoes, Red Capsicum & Zucchini Stuffed with Herb Rice.

Beautiful, warm but a bit breezy today and I was up way too early for a Sunday after having gone to bed after 2am last night. This morning I was doing the right thing and dropping my parents off to a friend’s place. My dad is getting a bit old and shouldn’t really be driving too far so I did my good deed for the day. I try not to do many good deeds as people might just start getting the wrong idea – thinking I’m a good person and all that – I have a reputation to uphold you know!

I must be getting old too as I am forgetting lots of things lately. Such as the night before Halloween when I got up from the couch to make cup cakes to go into my great looking bat decorated Halloween muffin cases and ended up making two big square cakes instead! From the couch to the kitchen – only a couple of feet away I had totally forgotten what I was going to do. So, the cakes went into the freezer for my dad’s birthday and I made the cup cakes when I got home from work the next day on Halloween night…crazy batshit business!

Yesterday I bought 4 red capsicums, 6 vine ripe tomatoes and a few zucchinis in order to stuff them with a dill and parsley rice to go into the oven. This is what the Greeks call ‘Yemista’…it means ‘to fill or stuff’…and I haven’t made a tray of these for a long time but I absolutely love them! So, just before I went to bed last night I pulled out some beef from the freezer to defrost and this morning I made a great beef casserole with red wine, mushrooms and leeks! It wasn’t until I was getting out the parsley that I noticed a great big bag full of my ingredients for the stuffed veg/tomatoes…Shit bricks!…Oops! I did it again!

So I made them as well!

By lunch time I had two main meals ready and the rest of the day was mine and by that I mean after dropping off my daughter at friend’s place to study and picking up my parents and then picking up currants, raisins and prunes for my Christmas cake and buying my coffee, the rest of the day was mine!…and by that I mean, sometime after 3:30pm.

Now to more soothing things…Pomegranate Vodka coming right up! Can’t get enough of this stuff!

The mystery of my memory loss may lay somewhere in the line directly above this one…I don’t know…just guessing!


6 medium perfectly-ripe yummy tomatoes

4 medium red capsicum (peppers)

2 zucchinis

3/4 cup olive oil

2 – 3 cups rice

1 large onion, chopped fine  and spring onions

3 garlic cloves, minced very fine

1/4 cup fresh dill (use mint if you don’t like dill)

1/2 cup chopped parsley,

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste plus the tomato pulp from the fresh tomatoes

salt and pepper


Cut off tops of tomatoes (retain tops) and carefully scoop out flesh (retain this as well).

Cut off tops of red capsicum (peppers) – (retain tops) and remove seeds and membrane.

Slice zucchinis in half, lengthways and scoop out flesh so you are left with little canoe like things.

Place tomatoes, capsicums and zucchini in a pan large enough to hold them comfortably and give each veg a tiny dash of sugar with the tips of your fingertips (I really think this is important!)… also coat them in oil.

Take tomato flesh and process it until pureed.

Add olive oil, rice, onion, spring onion, garlic, dill, parsley, tomato flesh, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or season to taste) to a pan and add water to half cook the rice…don’t cook it totally as it will get another blast of cooking in the oven.

Stuff the vegetables and tomatoes evenly with this mixture.

Replace tops of tomatoes and capsicum.

Combine 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup olive oil with an even tablespoonful of tomato paste and a little salt and pepper and pour this around the veg.

Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 1 hour (vegetables should pierce easily and be slightly blackened in parts).

Turn off oven and leave in for another hour to’mellow’ before serving.

This is best served slightly warm or at room temperature but I have been known to have these cold for breakfast or lunch the next day.

These are wonderful eaten along with little bites of feta cheese and a cool glass of white or rose.

It will also have yummy juices begging to be mopped up with bits of crusty bread.

In my mums’ version, she also used 3-4 medium-sized potatoes, cut them into big wedges, tossed in a little olive oil with salt and pepper to taste, and’planted’ in the spaces amidst the vegetables… but I didn’t do that but you could (it’s yummy!)

PS: I’m not posting a picture of the casserole because I wasn’t supposed to make it in the first place and have posted it before.

Luscious Leeky Pasta

Loving Leeks with Pasta

It’s Monday and already the marking of papers for school has piled up. My senior kids had a practise written assessment task for English this afternoon and I must get them back to them by tomorrow so they can prepare for the actual graded task next week. It’s called a SAC – School Assessed Task – and they are pretty important as it is the SAC grades that they see on their mid year reports. The kids get pretty stressed and I get pretty stressed about marking them.

I still had to feed my family, my cat and my dog. I still had to help my daughter with her own studies as she is in her final year of high school and the pressure is incredible. She had her own English SAC today and she came home trying to work out how she went and I knew she was a little stressed. We all needed to be fed well but hours in the kitchen was not an option.

I do love pasta. Last week when I complained that I didn’t want to make pasta, it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, but that I had chicken and Leek pie stuck in my head. In fact it was the Leek I craved more than the chicken.

I love Leeks. They are versatile and taste wonderful and give any food you pair them with a great colour. Used with creme fraiche and stirred through any type of pasta is wonderful. Top with parsley and a good quality parmesan cheese and you have a wonderfully rich but easy Monday night meal.

This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe. I will post the recipe with Pancetta and mushrooms however tonight as I was unable to stop on the way home from work to buy pancetta, I left it out. When I got home I realised that I didn’t have enough of the same type of pasta left in the pantry and as I had chicken tenderloins in the fridge I added that instead to bulk up the meal.

This is why I love cooking. Recipes for me are a guide. If you don’t like a particular vegetable substitute it for something you do like. There is nothing more depressing than not making something because you don’t have a particular type of pasta or you prefer a tomato based sauce to a cream one. Just do what you like. Cooking is about eating what you love not being stressed out and not trying things and experimenting with food.


  • 300 g pasta shells conchiglie
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 125 g pancetta sliced
  • 2 medium Leeks trimmed and finely sliced
  • 250 g chestnut Mushrooms trimmed and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • Flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese to serve


Add the pasta shells to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the pancetta. Fry for a few minutes until it is golden brown, then add the leeks, mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. Stir over high heat for 6–8 minutes until the leeks are tender.

Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the pancetta, leeks and mushrooms. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter over the chopped parsley to serve.