Thursday 31 December 2020

Stuffed Giant Pasta Shells on Bolognaise - the roast dinner leftovers version!

As we make our way through the no man's land between Christmas and the New Year, we plough through leftovers and try to remember what the day is.  Making the most of festive leftovers is always fun.  I always make plenty of nut roast because there is nothing like thinly sliced cold nut roast on a salad sandwich.  My mum also gave me some of her leftover roast potatoes and pumpkin.

We always have a roast dinner at Christmas and I take along a favourite nut roast.  However roast dinners are a regular meal in my family so this is not just for Christmas leftovers.  I was inspired to add the leftovers to pasta by Sylvia's request for mac and cheese for tea.  I had jumbo pasta shells and had wanted to try stuffing them with mac and cheese.  It seemed the right thing to do to cook the shells on a tomato sauce.  And bolognaise sauce with chunks of nut roast is a favourite of mine.

Some people find leftovers annoying but I consider them a win.  Sadly I did not come home with any leftover cauliflower cheese but if I had, I would definitely consider stuffing these jumbo pasta shells with cauliflower cheese, diced roast potatoes and peas (if they are leftover too).  As I only had a few roast potatoes and Sylvia wanted mac and cheese, I used this for the stuffing, with a few diced roasted potatoes.  

Sylvia had loved a cute dinosaur in a snow globe at the shops that day so we used the dinosaur pasta in the mac and cheese.  I lazily put the dinosaurs and the jumbo shells in the same pot rather than cooking separately.  I had thought I might need to cook the shells more but they were cooked enough, though rather toothsome.  Considering they cooked more in the oven I thought this was fine though they did dry out slightly as they were sitting on top of the sauce rather than in it.

The stuffed jumbo shells were The bolognaise sauce was one of my regular tomato sauces that had onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes, maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and tomato paste.  I added diced nut roast and diced roast pumpkin.  If I had leftover gravy I would consider using this in the sauce - probably by adding some fried onions and tinned tomatoes. I am still not sure where the cranberry sauce comes in but I always have some leftover!

The next day, my brother visited.  He has finally been able to come from his interstate home to see family and friends in Victoria after borders were closed most of the year.  It was nice to have him to lunch.  I made sourdough flatbreads and stuffed them with leftover bolognaise sauce and cheese.  Leftovers just keep giving!

Then we headed off to see Wonder Woman 1984 which was a fun movie.  As is pretty standard in Covid days, we had to book.  I don't mind booking most of the time.  It has helped me get the pool more because once I have booked I am locked in, rather than just finding myself too busy to go.  But at this time of the year when I can't get the day or date right, it has been a bit challenging.  I have had confusion when booking a bike service, a car service, lunch with a friend, and even a sales consultant appointment at the Apple shop to look into buying a new laptop. Yes my laptop is driving me a bit crazy and turning itself off without warning too often.  But it is not just me.  I visited a friend today who did not know it was New Year's Eve!

I started writing this post a few days back but as it is now New Year's Eve, it is time to bid good riddance to 2020.  In our state of Victoria, we have just had the 6 new Covid diagnoses - the first community transmitted cases for 60 days!  I am glad we are bunkering down at home tonight and was not planning or attending a party for 30 people. Just this morning we were told that permitted numbers in a private home were reduced from 30 to 15.  I don't know if it would be worse to tell people we can't fit them in or to be one of the people rejected from a party.  I hope that you have a fun and safe New Year's Eve and that 2021 is far better for everyone.

More Pasta recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cheeseless mac and cheese sauce
Hurry up pumpkin alfredo
Macaroni cheese
Macaroni cheese with broccoli

Stuffed cheese and spinach jumbo pasta shells
Vegan pasta bake with cashew cream
Vegetarian bolognaise

Stuffed Giant Pasta Shells on Bolognaise for Leftovers
I haven't specified amounts as I find that when dealing with leftovers, it is harder to have control over quantities.  I wrote about my family roast dinner years ago and recommend you go there if you want recipes for roast vegies, cauliflower cheese or gravy.  My standard macaroni cheese and some other versions of the mac and cheese recipe are linked above.

Jumbo pasta shells
Bolognaise sauce (add leftover gravy if leftover)
Nut roast
Roast Pumpkin
Cauliflower Cheese or Mac 'n' Cheese
Roast Potatoes
Peas (optional)
Sesame seeds

Cook jumbo pasta shells.  Mix bolognaise sauce, diced roast pumpkin and diced nut roast.  Spread on the bottom of an oven dish.  Mix diced roast potato and peas into cauliflower cheese or mac and cheese.  Stuff this mixture into the pasta shells.  Place on the bolognaise sauce.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and breadcrumbs (or more grated cheese).  Baked in a moderate oven (180 C) for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

On the Stereo:
Kylie Christmas: Snow Queen Edition: Kylie Minogue

Sunday 27 December 2020

Christmas eating

Hasn't it been an odd Christmas!  Covid has made us so aware of how others are doing around the world.  It was not a pretty sight.  I consider myself lucky to have be able to attend Christmas parties and celebrate Christmas day with extended family out of town.  Nothing is taken for granted in this pandemic.  Gathering with colleagues and friends.  Going out of town to see family.  Swimming in the sea,  These are precious freedoms.  Sadly the year has not left me with much blogging energy but a week into my month of annual leave, I am hoping to post a bit more while I have more time.  Above is my Christmas day lunch - a roast dinner and punch on a mercifully mild day.

This is a Strawberry and Lemon Soda (muddled strawberry, lemon and cranberry shaken with house-made rhubarb syrup, garnished with fresh mint. $8) at the Rooftop Bar at the end of a work Christmas party.  I had a lovely Christmas party with my Centre at Fitzroy North Bowling Club, the Edinburgh Gardens and Panna Thai, followed a week later by a Christmas lunch with my team at The Arbory Bar and Eatery, which ended up at the Rooftop Bar.

I didn't take photos but I ate well.  The lunch of corn, sweet potato and chickpea patties and the roast portobello mushrooms stuffed with quinoa, roast vegetables and pesto were both fantastic at the bowls club.  The desserts platters were even more impressive with bite sized brownies, macarons, slabs of cheese and seasonal fruit.  (I was so delighted to have cherries instead of boring old watermelon!)  I was pretty full but still enjoyed slurping noodles in my Pad Thai in the evening before riding my bike home just as it was darkening.  Then at the Arbory we had lots of delicious finger food such as hummus and bread, pea arancini and chips before getting stuck into what I could of a huge green risotto. However the drinks were pretty ordinary if, like me, you didn't fancy alcohol.  So I was pretty happy to find mocktails at the Rooftop Bar.  And it was just lovely to spend time with colleagues face to face after working from home most of the year.

There was very little baking before Christmas.  I didn't seem to have either time or energy for it.  When we went to my parents to help decorate their Christmas tree, Sylvia and her cousin Ashy had great fun on the bunjee trampolines at Geelong's Eastern Beach and decorating gingerbread.  We stayed the night and the next morning I walked at the water's edge of the beach in Torquay with my brother and nephew, followed by a swim at the pool with Sylvia.

It was only on Christmas eve that my baking mojo returned, though I could have done with a bit more energy.  Making familiar recipes is always easier.  I made some of my favourite Christmas recipes: nut roast, panforte and cranberry nut rolls.  When I took the above photo, I had made fruit mince but not yet started the panforte.  You can also see some pizza dough so I could make pizza for dinner to have with lime spiders.  Sylvia was keen to make and decorate cupcakes so we made a favourite vanilla cupcake recipe with added mixed space and choc chips. 

Sylvia's plan for the cupcakes was to leave some out for Santa.  He was quite spoiled with cupcakes, gingerbread, a mince tart, all washed down with spiced ginger beer.  The carrots were for the reindeer!


On Christmas morning, Sylvia, E and me had a festive breakfast of cranberry nut rolls, swiss cheese, cherries, and orange juice combined with spiced ginger beer.  As always it was not a meal to relax over as we had to leave for Geelong to arrive in time for the present opening!

Christmas lunch is never early so my mum often has nibbles about to keep us going.  Crackers, nuts popcorn, gingerbread, marshmallows and turkish delight.  Washed down with punch.  Great while opening presents.

At the top of the post I have a picture of the main course for Christmas lunch.  Of course it doesn't stop there.  Afterwards we had pavlova, cheesecake, Christmas pudding and this amazing cheese platter that my aunt brought with her.  Kudos to my aunt and oldest brother for doing the dishes for a big meal for 20 people after the dishwasher broke on Christmas Day.

I am back home now with leftovers of pizza, nut roast, roast vegies, panforte and Christmas cake.  Above is some of my presents.  We are in that odd time of year when not much happens.  Actually in 2020 you might say that not a lot happened all year.  I have much to catch up on before the end of year: swimming, cinema, bike service, cleaning rust off the verandah and mopping the floor.  And on and on and on.  I hope there might be some blogging too.  I hope you had a good Christmas and have a relaxing and safe break as the end of a difficult year is in sight.

Saturday 12 December 2020

In My Kitchen - December 2020

And finally December comes around.  It does not bring much festive cheer this year.  There seems to be less socialising and more cancellations than usual.  I consider myself lucky to have two work Christmas parties and live in Melbourne that has had over a month of no diagnoses or deaths from Covid.  We have had the edict on masks eased so yesterday I had my first Christmas party in the sunshine, without masks, sharing a bbq and drinks, catching up with colleagues I hadn't seen for most of the year moving from lawn bowls to the park to a Thai restaurant. Today we had our first cinema outing since lockdown and put up the Christmas tree.  But I am still not in the mood for Christmas shopping and there are no carol services.

At home it has been mainly easy meals but Sylvia has been enjoying a bit of the festivities.  Above is a rice, vegetable and hummus bowl I made for dinner recently.  Now that we are getting some warm days, I am enjoying more raw vegetables.

We had our first department store shopping out of lockdown on the weekend that we went to Geelong to visit my family.  It was busy on the road between Melbourne and Geelong because the "ring of steel" that stopped Melbournians getting out of town for months was finally down.  After marvelling at escalators and realising how long it was since I was on one, thanks to lockdown, I bought this Grazing Collection in a supermarket to nibble on. 

Miso soup is a favourite of mine.  I know mine is not traditional.  It is always full of vegies.  It is full of flavour, chewy dried mushrooms, soft slurpy noodles and lots of healthy veg.  It both comfort food and what Nigella calls "temple food". 

I have also been eating quite a few wraps lately.  Above is one that has some of the salad from a pesto and veg pasta salad I made to last most of a warm week.

This wrap had some leftover tempeh black bean taco filling that I mixed with corn and tomatoes and piled on hummus and spinach.  It made a really filling lunch.

I was intrigued to find this vegan vanilla brownie ice creams.  It was ok but not much in the way of brownie pieces.

Sylvia made this cute snowman pizza (it looks a bit like Daddy Pig off Peppa Pig).  The snowman is made of mushrooms, olive eyes and buttons, carrot nose and chive arms and hands.  The actual pizza is a tomato sauce, egg and cheese one that she makes quite often now.

Here we have the cooked snowman.  The mushroom outlines have darkened.  The light part is where the egg has cooked in the oven under the cheese.

More of Sylvia's Christmas touches around the house.  This is her desk which has been made rather festive.

We bought Christmas sprinkles.  So when Sylvia made a chocolate mug cake with a nutella topping she finished it off with the red, green and white sprinkles.

With the arrival of summer, the garden is thriving.  Strawberries and flowers are appearing.  Parsley and johnny jump-ups are moving around the pots.  Shadow is enjoying the catnip.  Sadly the rosemary and blueberries are looking brown and dead.

We have purchased a few festive goodies.  Gingerbread biscuit chocolate, Nutella in a festive glass and Festive gingerbread shapes.  I always thought that gingerbread and chocolate were a great combination but it hasn't been doing it for me this year.

Sylvia made this reindeer cheese on muffins with pretzel antlers, olive eyes and round tomato slices for the nose.  The pretzel antlers were added after the cheese was melted.

I am not a huge fan of outfits for pets.  Animals do not want to dress up but they do look cute.  Sylvia had made him wear a santa hat and beard for Shadow that she found in the Christmas decorations.  It has disappeared now!

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to check out her cute hand drawn festive banner and visit more kitchens.