Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! Welcome 2013!

Well Happy New Year.
I'm resolving to post more regularly in 2013. What happens when I get busy is I tend to fall back on tried and true dishes which means I end up with not that much that I think is exciting to post.
I will try harder.
Today is a gorgeous summer day in Sydney.
Dinner here inclueds a few favourites including:
Slow cooker bbq ribs
Creamed Spinach
We're also having corn and potatoes with sour cream.
My lovely daughter got a waffle maker for Christmas so she's on dessert.
We're ahving waffles with homemade triple berry ice-cream I made a few days ago to use up the last of the leftover Christmas berries.
It's a pretty yummy way to start 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cranberry vodka

I am not a woman in possession of a fine estate as Austen might say but I am a woman in posession of several bottles of vokda. How I came to have these is a long and elaborate story that sounds somewhat more interesting when one actually has vodka in hand, but not entirely fasciating even then.
My husband and I have made a few flavoured vodkas over the years including my favourite - vanilla - and his peppercorn. He likes it in a Bloody Mary because he swears that is how they make it at Harry's Bar in Paris.
Many years ago (before GPS and the internet and google) we spent hours searching the streets of Paris so he could take me to this bar, where he had been before because like Hemingway and Sartre he was rather fond of it.
Anyway after seeing some cranberry vodka on Pinterest I decided to try and make my own. All the versions I found used fresh cranberries which are elusive here in Sydney so we used craisins.
Cranberry vodka
1 packet of craisins
1 bottle of vodka (with about 1/4 removed).
1. Step 1 pour the crasins into the vodka bottle.
2. Step 2 - Wait.
Our vodka has now bee steeping for 3 days...and it tastes delish! Check out the colour.
You could either drink as is or strain and remove the fruit.
Here's a shot of the three flavours. That black pepper vodka has an amazing colour and is very spicy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas preparation

Gosh this blog has been negrelcted of late. I have been so busy that my cooking has been much more a collection of old favourites than new adventures.
It does so help to have recipes you can fall back on. Last weekend I went to a friend's booklaunch where I was helping with the food. Mid-week she announced she was having 90 guests.
So bright and early Sudnay morning I was up making four zucchini slices. Simple, economical and delicious.
Sometimes in December you don't have time to re-invent the wheel.
We're hosting our annual Christmas drinks again this year. I worry people will be bored with the same old thing but it appears not. My head count is at about sixty.
This year's menu has a similar structure as last...
People bring finger food and I make some too...I'd like to make something different this year but it could well be the usual fare of zucchini slice, smoked salmon canapes and 7-layer dip.
Baked ham and rolls
Sausage sizzle for the kids
Crockpot meatball and spagetti for the kids (I can pre-make the meatballs and throw them in the crockpot with sauce a few hours out). I like to pre-cook short pasta and have it cold for parties. By the time the kids add the meatballs their food is hot but not mouth-scorchingly so.
My husband's bbq paella
MYO sundae bar
Christmas itself we're hosting lunch for my husband's family and I think that is twenty-four.
I've already made sure all the non-food items are covered such as chairs, table cloths, cutlery, crockery so that in the week before I can concentrate on the food itself.
The menu is done and anything I can get ahead such as condiments, chips and snacks have already been purchased.
I'll be back to post more on the preparatio later.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Asparagus Caprese

Last weekend we were invited to a friend's house for a bbq and I was asked to bring a vegetable dish. I had some baby asparagus and decided to make a twist on the traditional Caprese Salad - you know the one where the tomato, bocconcini and basil are layered.
I already had all the ingredients in my fridge and cupboard and it seemed to me that these flavours would work well together and I was right! This was super simple and really yummy.
Aspargus Caprese (this served 6 as a side dish)
2 bunches aspargus
1 clove garlic
8 basil leaves shredded
8 cherry tomatoes quartered
6 baby bocconcinni cut into chunks
olive oil about 1/3 cup
balsamic vinegar about 1/4 cup
(You could include some olives if you like them!)
1. Bring a large pot of boiling water to the boil. Toss in the aspargus and cook about 3 minutes till just tender.
2. While water is boiling put cold water in a large bowl with some ice-cubes. When asparagus just tender drain and throw in iced-water to stop cooking.
3. Meanwhile combine other ingredients in a bowl, adjust olive oil and balsamic to taste.
4. When aspargus is cold tun onto a platter and top with caprese mix.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Four Ingredient Apple Tart

Four Ingredient Apple Tart
This poor blog - so neglected. So unloved.
This last week I made this very yummy very cheaty apple tart. I didn't get a picture but it was super yummy  and very easy so I thought I'd share it anyway.
I adapted it from a recipe I saw on a cooking show. The lovely chef on that show made her own pastry and her own apple sauce from scratch. I did not.
Four Ingredient Apple Tart (or 5 if you count water)
1 pie shell or you could use a sheet of shortcrust pastry moulded into a pie shell
1 apple sauce
3 apples - peeled andsliced (I sliced mine in the food processor so it took about 2 minutes)
2  tablespoons Apricot Jam
1. Bake the pie shell as per the instructions.
2. Cover the base with about an inch of apple sauce
3. Arrange sliced apples attractively on top.
4. Bake till browned...about 30-35 minutes.
5. Meanwhile combine apricot jam with a tablespoon of water in a small saucepan stirring until melted.
6. Brush jam over top of pie for a nice sheen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My poor neglected cooking blog

My poor cooking blog has been neglected of late. I have has some camera issues which have meant when I have cooked something new and interesting the photos haven't worked.
One thing I find when I'm busy is that I tend to fall back on tried and true recipes rather than getting creative and making something doesn't make for such an interesting read.
For example tonight we're having Chinese Style Ribs which I have already blogged about before. Simply because when I saw the right cut of on sale meat at the supermarket I knew it would be a quick (well not so much quick as not labour-intensive) and tasty dinner!
We still like to eat well when we're time poor and that's when planning comes it. I was putting something in my extra freezer today and I realised I had the makings of quite a few freezer meals and that it would be a really good idea to have a freezer cooking day.
The questions is when? It won't be this week...but maybe next. I am thinking food even if not much is happening.
So what have we been doing/eating? I've been focussing on making things that have a duel purpose or get us through two meals
I've taken to poaching some chicken breasts on a Sunday night and making half into chicken salad and half into chicken pasta salad. That's great for lunches. And the pasta salad is the same with pasta, corn and tomatoes...
Last week I made meatloaf so my husband and daughter would get meatloaf sandwiches for two lunches.
I turned last week's roast chicken into soup today which I had for lunch and will again on Thursday.
Chinese-style Ribs

Oh yes and we did make this cake for my daughter's birthday last week. She had an archery party!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yum cha from the Asian Grocery store

One of our favourite meals out is Yum Cha. I believe in the USA it's known as dim sum.

We like it because it's the sort of food we don't eat at home. It's a pretty inexpensive meal out overall but Chinatown yum cha definitely tastes better than suburban yum cha, at least in our part of town.

Today's solution was a trip to the Asian grocery store. For under $30 I got enough frozen and pre-made dumplings, spring rolls, pork buns etc to feed is for yum cha at home three times.

As you can see we fried some won tons and rice noodle rolls and steamed the rest. We already have an Asian steamer. these are available at all Asian grocery stores. They're also great if you want to steam fresh fish.

One of the things I like at yum cha is the simple Asian greens that are served with oyster sauce. So I batch of these as well. Greens lightly steamed, oyster sauce and sesame seed. So simple and so yummy.

This meal wasn't as fabulous as yum cha at The Regal or The Marigold but it was delicious and simple and inexpensive and something different. Now I have enough in the freezer that next time I won't even have to travel to the local shops.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lamb koftas

Last night for dinner we had lamb koftas.

I really like koftas for a variety of reasons. It's a great way to eat lam that's lean and relatively inexpensive. They're a change from an everyday burger, which I guess is exactly what they are in a deconstructed kind of way. Oh yes and they're yummy.

Koftas are essentially a big meatball on a stick.

I served these in Lebanese bread with tabbouleh, lettuce, and Greek yogurt.

Simple and delish.

My camera was having a bit of a moment so sorry the photo isn't so great.

Lamb Koftas
Bamboo skewers (soak for an hour in water to stop sticking)
500g minced lamb
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
zest of 1/2 a lemon
handful of chopped parsley

To serve
Lebanese bread
Greek yogurt
salad of choice eg lettuce avocado etc

1. Combine lamb, onion, garlic, lemon, cumin and parsley in a bowl.
2. Form sausage shapes around bamboo skewers (my recipe made 10).
3. Refrigerate 1/2 an hour.
4. Cook on a BBQ or chargrill about 15 minutes till cooked (I browned mine and then finished them in the oven).
5. Serve in Lebanese bread with salads.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Slow-cooker bbq ribs

I'm not sure how to label this recipe. Basically this is  a recipe pork ribs that you pre-cook in the slow-cooker and then finish off on the BBQ or in the oven. You can skip that step but we like that nice char-grilled taste.

This is a great meal to share with friends. Pork spare ribs used to be a frugal option but now they're a bit trendy so they've gone from $7-8 a kg to a standard $14kg. (I guess they are the pork equivalent of the lamb shank). I tend to watch the sales and buy them then for about $10kg. While they taste great you do need quite a few because there's lots of bones.

As part of a BBQ when entertaining you can add other things that are cheaper to bulk it out (burgers, sausages etc). The way I look at it is ribs at somewhere like Hogs Breath or The Hard Rock Cafe are around $30 a person and we all ate for about $20 plus sides so that's still a good deal.

Slow-cooker BBQ ribs

Ribs (I had about 500g pp)
1 bottle generic BBQ sauce
1 cup brown sugar

1. Put frozen ribs and bottle of sauce and 1/2 cup brown in slow-cooker. I did 3.5 hours on high but 8 hours on slow works too.

2. Remove ribs and pour sauce into saucepan/skillet, add 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Whisk to combine and reduce by half.

3. Then put ribs on the BBQ and cook basting with sauce till browned.
4. Serve with sides. we like corn, baked potatoes and beans with ours. Other times we have cornbread and coleslaw.


Chicken and Mushroom Gnocchi Bake/Mushroom stock

Gosh the weather in Sydney has been dismal. Honestly I think we've had about two years' worth of rain in as many weeks.

It leaves you wanting to eat warm comfort food.

Last night my daughter requested pasta. I couldn't face a bolognese or a spaghetti and meatballs meal. I had some gnocchi in the freezer so I decided on a gnocchi bake with chicken, bacon and mushrooms.

Once I got started I realised I probably didn't have quite enough mushrooms....what to do?

Then I remembered that on one of my favourite cooking TV shows The Cook and the Chef Simon would use ground dried mushrooms to add flavour( though he might have used the word depth) to vegetarian cooking and stock. Well I had some dried mushrooms so I threw them in the spice/coffee grinder and ground them up, added them to some boiling water and made some rich mushroom stock which I added to the sauce. Perfect!

Chicken and Mushroom Gnocchi bake
1 500g pack of potato gnocchi (or make your own)
1 chicken breast diced
1 onion diced
3 slices of bacon sliced
1 cup of mushrooms sliced
Italian herbs (your combo of garlic, basil, rosemary, oregano etc)
1/4 cup of dried mushrooms (ground)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup of cream
1 cup of grated cheese (we used  a Parmesan and tasty/cheddar combo)

1. In a pan soften onion in oil. Add chicken and brown.
2. Add mushrooms and bacon and herbs and cook till bacon cooked but not browned.
3. Combine dried mushrooms and boiling water and stir. Add to the pan and let simmer about 10 minutes till it reduces and chicken cooked.
4. Meanwhile prepare gnocchi as per directions on pack.
5. Add cream to sauce and stir through gnocchi.
6. Pour into casserole dish and top with cheese.
7. Bake in moderate oven about 30 minutes till browned.
(I added some chopped parsley because it wasn't photographing well at all!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Skillet potato topped seafood pie

It's cold, cold, cold here in Sydney this week and last night I raced home from doing a million things with no clear idea of what to make for dinner and when I looked at the meat I had everything was large pieces that would take forever to cook.

Then I found I had 500g of seafood marinara mix (mixed seafood) so I thought of making a seafood pie.  I did not however have the energy to fiddle around with pastry so a potato topped pie was called for. Even better than that aside from a pot to boil the spuds this was a one dish wonder.

Skillet potato topped seafood pie

500g mashed potatoes
knob of butter and a splash of olive oil
500g seafood marinara/mixed seafood
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
2 celery sticks diced
6 mushrooms (all I had) chopped
dried dill (about a teaspoon)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 a cup of cream
1/4 cup each grated tasty/cheddar and Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil and butter in skillet till hot. Add onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, garlic and dill and saute on low heat till onion translucent and veggies softening.
2. Add seafood mix and cook about 5 minutes. Add wine and let cook down by half.
3. Add cream and warm through (don't boil).
4. Turn off skillet and top with mashed potato and grated cheese.
5. Place in the oven and cook till top is browned (about 30 minutes).


Saturday, May 26, 2012

This week in the kitchen and in life

This week the big news in our kitchen is that we bought a new oven and it will be arriving tomorrow.

It's really just the modern version of our old oven a 90cm Blanco. This one has an electric oven while the old one has gas. Sadly we couldn't afford a split system when we built the house and installed the original.

Our oven hinges were dying (no one wants a hot oven door to fall on their feet) and the seals as well. It was time.

As I type my daughter is making weetbix slice in the old oven. That along with a turkey hindquarter I will roast for dinner (and sandwich meat for the week) will be the oven's last service.

It has served us well. We've hosted countless birthdays, Christmas, Yulefest, bridal showers, baby showers, bucks and hen's and even one perfect Christening with that oven (Someone tell me why I thought catering for 70 including making 7 pies with an eight week old baby was a good idea?!)

When we built the house I insisted we get a a big oven, that and a corner spa bath were my only real requests and I don't regret either. (In fact I advise people get a big oven and get a spa bath when building or renovating but!)

This week we ended up eating crockpot beef casserole, chicken and mushroom casserole, some killer nachos and homemade pizzas on Friday.

I will include a photo of the new oven for those who may be interested.

On an un-foodie note I have written a book that will be available on Amazon as a e-book this week. I will post details here. There is a little cooking in the book but mainly they just cook up some romance. In will provide the link when it is live. Anyway if my food-related posts are scant this week it may be oven related but more likely it will be book related.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicken pies

A couple of weeks ago I did a big freezer cook-up. Sadly we've eaten most of the contents now and I need to start fresh.

Anyway one of the things I made was chicken pies. I made a chicken and mushroom and a chicken and asparagus. These were very cheaty pies because I bought frozen pie shells and used pre-made puff pastry.

I cooked the basic mix - chicken, onion, herbs and separated it adding mushrooms to half and asparagus to the other. Then I sprinkled in flour, a dash of wine and cream.

The filling for two pies took about 20 minutes. I filled the pre-made pastry cases. topped with pastry, brushed with egg and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Each pie cost about $3-4. The local chicken shop sells the same size chicken pies at $12 each.

Chicken and asparagus pie
Chicken and mushroom pie

It's a simple method rather than a recipe that anyone can follow.

And when dinner time rolls around a couple of weeks later it's a very quick and easy job to throw the pie in the oven and add some sides.

Monday, May 21, 2012


The last week was totally nust at my place.
There was just too much going on and when I did make a lovely meal I kept forgetting to take photos.
For example on Saturday night I made tea poached pears and homemade vanilla bean ice-cream but we had visitors and I was busy chatting and didn't get a picture of either the pears or the ice-cream.
I did make mixed berry muffins last week using the Universal Muffin Recipe.
The Universal Muffin recipe is from the Tightwad Gazette put out by Amy Dacyczyn that allows you to alter ingredients of muffins to suit your ingredients. This blogger explains it well.
Here are some I made last week using oatsa and frozen berries.
Oatmeal and berry muffins.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

This is a busy week for me. I run a small business and we are on deadline. Later in the week is the Sydney Writers' Festival and I will be there all day Thursday and Friday so I need to be organised.

These are the weeks I find a menu plan really serves me well.

Monday - My husband is fishing today. If he catches anything then fish if not (and it's cold and windy so that seems likely) honey mustard chicken legs, potato bake and creamed spinach
Tuesday - Stuffed calamari (a new recipe)
Wednesday - homemade sausage rolls and veggies
Thursday - Spinach stuffed shells and salad
Friday - homemade pizza or chicken pie from the freezer

Hopefully that gets us through. I really need to bake some treats for the lunchboxes so that might be a good project for this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cake batter donuts - a pinterest recipe

I used to have a pretty lethal donut addiction. When I turned 21 I was given no less than four dozen donuts from Annie's in Bathurst (where I went to Uni) for my birthday. Clearly my friends knew me well and I did share don't worry.

I was an RA at college and my apartment on campus had the coffee flowing and the donuts on tap. They were my naughty addiction. Everytime I walked down the hill into town I came back with donuts. Those were the days when I could eat anything and it had no impact on my body or my health.

These days I don't actually eat desserts or cakes or for the most part sugar -so they are a rare treat.

On Pinterest I have noticed several recipes for cake batter donuts and then I noticed in the Mother's Day Avon catalogue (which I get from a friend each month) there was a mini donut tin. It felt like the universe was speaking to me.

I got my donut pan yesterday and made these donuts yesterday:

When they were done we tossed the first ones in cinnamon and sugar like the local donut shops.

The final batch I added rainbow chocolate sprinkles so they were a tad chocolatey.

My daughter took the remains in her lunchbox today and declared them a hit!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chinese style Pork ribs

A funny thing has happened in the last few years. Some of the cheaper cuts of meat have become the expensive cuts. Hello lamb-shanks, hello pork spare ribs, I am talking to you.

About five years ago pork spare ribs were $7kg and now they are double that. We love American style spare ribs but we tend to eat them less than we used to. A great alternative is slow cooked pulled pork roast. You get the flavour of ribs but no bones.

Pork rashers are another cut that fall into this same category. They are like a boneless rib. You could easily use spare ribs or even beef ribs. When I think about it pork rashers are just pork belly roast cut into strips so I suppose one could make them that way. I didn't.

We like them baked with a hoisin based sauce. They would be great on the table as part of a Chinese feast but we just had them for a standard Tuesday night dinner with rice, carrots and asparagus. I actually tossed the carrots in with the pork for the last ten minutes or so. They got the yummy sauce on them but were still firm.

Chinese style pork ribs/rashers
1.2kg pork ribs
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup manis
ground black pepper
a dash of olive oil.

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to marinade as long as possible - you can do this the night before if you like.

2. arrange in a single layer in a well greased baking dish.
3. Bake about an hour or until golden and a bit crispy.
4. Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blender Bernaise

This week at the supermarket I bought a peppered beef roast on sale. It is the perfect size for our little family.

I don't like food too spicy and neither does the 11 year old so I was wondering what I could serve with the beef to take the edge of the pepper. Then it hit favourite of all sauces - Bernaise.

I love Bernaise sauce. I love the texture and  the slight acidity. I love that I associate it with fine dining at 5 star hotels with my parents in the 1980's. Really I love everything about it.

So I sought out a recipe for Blender Bernaise and decided upon one by American chef/cook Ina Garten. All my American friends swear by her recipes so who am I to question their wisdom?

Here is a link to her recipe. The only thing I altered was that I halved it because we were low on butter and really we have tons for 3 people with 1/2 the recipe.

Ina Garten Blender Bernaise

It doesn't photograph that well but it tastes divine and was super easy. I've put off making my own mayonnaise - my favourite condiment - forever but this experience has made me think I will do it this week.

Make some Bernaise and enjoy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cheeseburger and fries casserole

This is a classic twist on the has-brown casserole. We are really not huge casserole eaters but they freeze well and sometimes they are just plain handy to have ready to toss in the oven.

I had some leftover hash browns and so on my freezer cooking day I made this. It is quick, simple and easy.

8 hash browns
500g beef mince
1 onion
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
1/2 cup mustard sauce or American mustard
1 cup grated tasty cheese

1. Soften onion in olive oil in fry pan. Add ground beef and brown.
2. Add tinned tomato, tomato sauce and mustard and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes until cooked through.
3. Line base of baking dish with hash browns (mine took 6). Cover with sauce.
4. Slice remaining hash browns into french fry shapes/sticks. Place on top of meat mix. Cover with cheese.

5. Freeze or bake 30-40 minutes. (As you can see mine went in the freezer).


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick Apple Cake

I had a friend stopping by yesterday and I wanted to make something quick, simple and not too heavy for afternoon tea.

Additionally we had quite a lot of apples that really needed to be used up so I decided on an easy Apple cake. This recipe is from Stephanie Alexander's, The Cook's Companion. If I could only own one cookbook this would probably be the one I would keep.

It really is a beautiful book. After basic techniques and explanations on a variety of things from custard to pastry to stock  it then runs through ingredients alphabetically providing a range or techniques and recipes to use them. It's very comprehensive and while it looks a but intimidating many of the recipes such as this one are actually very simple.

I followed her recipe entirely except I used vanilla vodka where she recommended apple brandy or rum.

Quick Apple Cake
2 cups peeled chopped apples
2 tablespoons apple brandy, brandy or rum (I used vanilla vodka)
140g unsalted butter (I used salted because that's what I had)
160g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 eggs
120g castor sugar

1. Soak fruit in alcohol for 1/2 an hour. (I think you could soak in apple juice).
2. Preheat oven to 200C. Butter a 24cm ring tin or 24cm round cake tin.
3. Melt butter and allow to cool.
4. Beat eggs and butter until thick and fluffy, fold in flour gently.
5. Drizzle in melted butter then fold in. Fold in apple and any liquid.
6. Spoon into cake tin and cook for 40 minutes.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Freezer cooking wrap-up

I thought I'd update you on my freezer cooking day last Friday.

I had one of those days where although I was home thinking I would be cooking I ended up having a million things to do so I didn't do as much as I planned but:

- made extra Spinach stuffed shells (1 meal for the freezer)
- made a Middle Eastern Flourless orange cake for a function on Saturday.
- poached 1kg of chicken breasts
- used 1kg of mince/beef to make 50 meatballs
- used .5kg of mince/beef to make a Cheeseburger and Fries casserole (recipe to follow)
- used .5kh of mince/beef to make browned beef with onion (when I need it I can add to spaghetti sauce or taco seasoning for a fast dinner.
- roasted eggplant and used it in Eggplant and White Bean Hummus

- turned poached chicken into a Chicken and Mushroom Pie and a Chicken and Asparagus Pie (recipe to follow)
- made chicken salad for school sandwiches

All in all not a bad effort.

Pies ready for the oven.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What to do with 3 Japanese eggplant or eggplant hummus

On Friday in the midst of a big cook-up I found 3 sad looking Japanese eggplant in my fridge.

I decided to throw them in the oven with a little olive oil and roast them.

When my husband arrived home and announced he hadn't had lunch and would like a snack I remembered reading a recipe of eggplant and white bean hummus on the Giarda De Lorentiis page over on the Food Network.

I didn't check the recipe I just threw the ingredients in the food processor and blitzed it.

I guess I remembered it pretty well because mine was exactly the same except I served it with crackers. You can visit the site for the recipe.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spinach and ricotta stuffed shells

When my daughter was young I used to make this dish a lot. It's a great meal to make ahead and freeze. it's also a great vegetarian option if you are having a buffet or a party.

For some reason the shells themselves became hard to find. So I stopped making it. I use the same filling in cannelloni but cannelloni doesn't go as far as when it's in the shells.

Anyway I found a version of them at Harris Farm Markets the other day and they were two bags for$6.
Considering each bag makes 2 trays or enough to feed about 6 people that's still pretty good value.

I don't usually price food out on this blog but this is a great dish for a party or for feeding lots of people cheaply.

Here's how I'd do it for entertaining a group:

1 wheel of ricotta $8.99
2 bags pasta $6
3 boxes frozen spinach $2.70
1 bag shredded mozzarella $5
1 bag shredded Parmesan $4
2 eggs $1
herbs & garlic
Spaghetti sauce 4 jars or big batch homemade $4

Total: About $32 that would feed 24 people, maybe more...or $1.33 a serve. Add some bread and salad and that is some bargain entertaining.

I happened to buy silver beet fresh and use that this time but that's more work and I wouldn't do that for a group.

Spinach and ricotta stuffed shells
1 bunch silver beet, stems removed and finely chopped
1 500g bag pasta shells
500g ricotta
1 cup Parmesan
2 garlic cloves
1 onion diced
teaspoon mixed/Italian herbs
1 egg
2 jars spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 baking dishes lightly sprayed with oil.(I used one regular and a foil one to freeze the second batch)

1. Place silver beet, garlic, herbs and olive oil in a large sauce pan and stir fry till wilted.
2. Combine ricotta, egg and Parmesan in a large bowl. Stir in wilted silver beet.
3. Spoon ricotta mix into shells and place filled shells in a single layer in baking dishes.

4. Put spaghetti sauce in large saucepan and dilute by rinsing jars with hot water to get all sauce out. When warm pour over shells. You want the shells submerged.
5. Sprinkle with mozzarella. (can be frozen at this point).
6. Bake in a moderate oven 30-40 minutes. (You can tell it's done when you can stab a knife through the shells).
7. Serve with a nice salad.