Thursday, December 18, 2014

One Pot Baked Pasta & Meatballs

Let's face it. Who isn't busy at this time of the year? I'm not (ahem, cough, splutter), well I'm not with easy meals like this. Just throw it all into the oven and forget about it.

Make your favourite meatball recipe. I usually add 1 egg, some dried breadcrumbs and a few of my favourite Italian style herbs to ground beef and roll into balls.

Spray a baking dish lightly with oil, place your pasta in the dish and the meatballs on top. 

I used the Barilla fusilli pasta and the Cheese and Tomato Pasta Bake sauce. Barilla have made it easy for family dinners with a larger 540ml sized sauce for quick easy meals such as this. This Cheese and Tomato sauce has all the flavours of your typical Italian style pasta bake with an authentic, rich Italian flavour. (There is nothing but real tomatoes, real onions and real garlic in the Barilla range of sauces. That's why I love them so much.)

Once I poured the pasta sauce over the pasta and meatballs, I added an extra half a jar of water and poured that over the top. Cover the baking dish with alfoil and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, take off the alfoil and give a good stir. You'll find the pasta and meatballs have cooked.

Top with a little grated cheese and return to the oven until melted and golden brown.

Serve with a side salad and garlic bread and dinner is on the table in just on 30 minutes. This could also be done in the slow cooker. A good way to not heat the house up at this time of the year in the southern hemisphere. Buon appetito!

One Pot Baked Pasta & Meatballs
  • 500 grams ground beef
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, to bind
  • selection of Italian style herbs
  • half box of Barilla Fusilli pasta (or enough pasta of your choice to serve your family)
  • 1 x 540ml jar Barilla Cheese & Tomato Pasta Bake sauce 
  • oil spray
  • grated cheese of your choice

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Mix ground beef, dried breadcrumbs, beaten egg and dried herbs.
  3. Form into meatballs.
  4. Lightly spray a suitable baking pan (or slow cooker dish).
  5. Add pasta and meatballs.
  6. Top with pasta sauce plus half the jar of water then cover with alfoil.
  7. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes (or 3 hours on high in a slow cooker).
  8. Remove from oven, take off alfoil and sprinkle with grated cheese. (If cooking in a slow cooker, add cheese and once melted, serve.)
  9. Return to the oven until cheese has melted.
  10. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread.

Disclaimer: I was given a selection of Barilla products to try. All opinions, thoughts and photos are my own.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Choc Peppermint Cake Mix Cookies

What a better way to get something mixed, in the oven and decorated than with a cake mix cookie. I've not really tried them much before, preferring to always make them from scratch but it's so, so easy.

You can bet your bottom dollar, around this time of the year, I'll have a couple packets of cheap cake mix in the pantry as a leftover from the November birthday parties. They are only about 70 cents each. Not the best tasting cake but it does the job as far as a birthday party cake for kids go. They usually only lick off the icing and throw the cake away.

All you need to add to the mix is 2 beaten eggs and 1/3 cup of oil (I used vegetable oil).

The cookies come out light but firm and have a nice crunch. I just topped mine with a bit of chocolate icing and crushed candy canes. I also added 1 tablespoon of peppermint essence to the cookie mix before baking. The different flavour combinations are endless. I'm going to get some vanilla cake mixes to throw in the pantry, just for quick easy cookies. For 70 cents a pack plus the cost of a couple eggs, it's a cheap way to go and everything is already measured out for you.

Choc Peppermint Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 packet of chocolate cake mix
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup oil (any kind will do)
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint essence

  • chocolate icing and crushed candy canes to decorate

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Add beaten eggs, oil and essence to cake mix and stir well.
  3. Drop balls of dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
  5. Once cooled, decorate with a small amount of chocolate icing and crushed candy canes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Hat Jelly (Jello) Shots

Here in Australia we have a saying when you go visiting someone or there is a school break up party and it's called "take a plate". That's not just taking the 'plate'. It's taking it fully loaded with fruit, cookies or something a little different. I was "taking a plate" to a play date at a girlfriend of mine's place and went for something a little different. (I also wanted to trial this recipe to see if it worked as a possible Christmas dessert for the children come Christmas day.)

These little plastic shot cups are just the right size for a little mouthful, for both children and adults alike. They're not as fiddly as you might think either. Just allow for a bit of time to set in between layers and you'll be done. As it turns out, I didn't have a packet of red jelly crystals in the house. I had every other flavour so I picked the lemonade flavour and added some red food colouring.

The white layer is just condensed milk with a little diluted gelatin mixed in. Refrigerate that for about an hour or until it is set and then just add the red jelly layer, after it has cooled slightly. Top with a squirt of whipped cream (or cream in a can) and you're done. If you want to make an adult version, try adding a little Bailey's Irish Cream or similar to the condensed milk layer and maybe some vodka to the red layer.

Santa Hat Jelly Shots

  • condensed milk
  • 1 tsp gelatin dissolved in half a cup of hot water
  • packet of red jelly crystals (made according to instructions on the pack)
  • whipped cream to decorate

  1. Depending on how many jelly shots you need to make, dissolve the gelatin into half a cup of hot water. I was only making 10 small cups so once the gelatin was dissolved, I only used 2 teaspoons of the liquid into about 1/4 cup of condensed milk. If you were making up the whole can of condensed milk, I would use about 3 teaspoons of gelatin dissolved into the 1/2 cup of hot water.
  2. Pour gelatin infused condensed milk into the bottom of the shot cup (or glass).
  3. Allow to set in refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. Make up jelly as per the instructions on the pack but don't add the extra water.
  5. Once cooled slightly, pour carefully into the shot cup. (I tilted the cup as I poured the jelly liquid into the cup.)
  6. Allow the red jelly layer to set.
  7. Top with whipped cream to finish.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#startandendyourdaywithdairy and be @Legendairy

I was thrilled to be invited to a recent blogging event organised by Louisa from Brand Meets Blog where I got to meet up with some of my favourite Brisbane bloggers and learn all about starting and ending my day with dairy products from Dairy Australia.

On arrival, we were handed a pair of gorgeous, comfortably soft, faux fur, cow print slippers to wear. So much more comfortable than heels and it set the tone for an easy relaxed night learning about how to incorporate more healthy dairy products into our diet.

Also, as I entered the Hemingway Room of the Alfred & Constance, I noticed the table to my left, heavily laden with a gorgeous array of desserts. It was after all, all about celebrating dairy. There's cheese in cheesecake, right? (All in moderation of course!)

My wonderful blogging friend, Amanda from Cooking for Busy Mums, started off the evening telling us all about how she incorporates more dairy into her family's diet. (Rockin' the cow print slippers Amanda!)

Besides the wonderful staff on hand from Dairy Australia, we were treated to a special visit from "Mr Cheese" himself (previous contest on My Kitchen Rules) from Hunter Belle Cheese.

There was also plenty of cheese to go around.

Did you know, if you’re a woman over the age of 50, four serves from the dairy foods group are recommended every day. A serve from the dairy foods group is a cup (250ml) of milk, three-quarters of a cup (200g) yogurt, two slices (40g) of cheese, half a cup (120g) of ricotta cheese or alternatives. (Source)
I could quite easily incorporate that into my daily intake of dairy. Milk, yogurt, cheese and ricotta are some of my favourite foods.

I love to start my day with muesli and yoghurt and this Apple & Cinnamon yogurt from Maleny Dairies we received in our goodie bag was just gorgeous.

My kids love dairy products (thank goodness) so this is easy to incorporate into their daily diet. I always try to start and end their day with dairy with breakfast cereal with milk or toast and a smoothie, yogurt or cheese cubes in their lunchbox and a dairy dessert after dinner.

We received heaps of other cool stuff, courtesy of Dairy Australia, including some great recipe books and a range of beauty products from Milk, a company started up by Australian champion swimmer Michael Klim and his wife Lindy.

It was a great night and just the reminder I needed to keep up my dairy intake. Stay tuned for some lovely recipes featuring dairy products and a back to school giveaway coming up in January.

Disclaimer:  I was gifted a bag of dairy related and beauty products by attending this blogging function courtesy of Dairy Australia. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Zoom! Bang! H (for heroes)

Please forgive me in advance if you think I may be talking in jibberish but that's exactly what I thought my son was doing when he mentioned he wanted a "Zoom! Bang! H" party for his 8th birthday last Sunday.  A couple of months ago, the Minecraft addicted boy of mine wanted a Minecraft party. Even though I know nothing about Minecraft, I would've find more than enough inspiration on Pinterest. But Zoom! Bang! H?

Upon further investigation and explanation, Zoom! Bang! H refers to a club that my son and his mates from school created. It's all about a group of guys who were mining (I think that might be a Minecraft reference) and forgot to close the top of the mine one night. Lightning struck the diamonds that were left out and turned them into blue, red and yellow gems of power (another Minecraft reference, I think). When the boys have these gems, it gives them super powers and they are able to conquer the world and arch villainesses Purple Lips, Rosie, Pink Lips, Abigail and Dragongirl. Superhero names include Ice Boom, Fire Slam and Golden Slang. There are other characters in different dimensions and realms. I can't really keep up with it. So popular is this game that my son's sister even knows about it and she goes to another school (and is 2 years older)!

I'm so over kid's birthday parties, honestly. I kept everything so simple including using a packet cake mix (which I usually do for birthday cakes) decorated with a few lollies, party pies, sandwiches, chips and lollies. I created the "Zoom", "Bang" and "H" wording in Microsoft, printed it out, laminated it and stuck it to skewers into the cake. Party bags were brown paper bags with the same wording on it and a few simple things thrown in like a balloon, bubbles, an eraser, pencil sharpener and some sweets.

Who can forget the stress that went with the great combined Jake & the Neverland Pirates birthday party of 2011?

Or the Barbie Princess party of 2012?

I didn't want to put myself under any due stress with birthday parties again. I was lucky that my daughter's birthday fell on a weekend she was at her Dad's so he and his new wife organised that. I decided he could have a 'play date with cake' and he invited his Zoom! Bang! H members over for some jumping on the trampoline, an impromptu water fight, a bit of party food and, well, cake.

I love my baby boy so much and can't believe he is 8 years old now. He had such a fantastic time and there was no stress on my part at all. As far as Zoom! Bang! H goes, if you happen to see the TV show in coming years or a Playstation game for it, just remember, you heard it here first and I'm now living the comfortable life created by my now millionaire 11 year old game creator son. Happy birthday darling boy! (Gosh a group of 8 year old boys are rowdy!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Spice Pinwheels + Giveaway

Ho! Ho! Ho! It's that time of year again, when the weather here in the southern hemisphere is hot and sticky and we decide to crank up the oven and get baking Christmas gifts. Anyone would think we're quite mad but there's nothing like a good, old fashioned home made cookie, especially made with love. Since I was a small child, Mum (and Nanna) would always be busy, baking up a storm, making tins of biscuits for teachers and neighbours. These days, you can buy them from the store, if not cheaper than what you can make but I think if they are homemade, they taste so much nicer and the recipient of the gift appreciates them more.

I was sent a gorgeous array of McCormick Christmas spices to add to my pantry and the first thing I thought of making was some sort of spiced cookie. These pinwheels are so easy to make. (Note to self: don't try working with butter or chocolate on a really hot, humid day. Leave it until the evening.) I don't make a Christmas cake because I'd be the only one who ate it. These cookies deliver the same gorgeous taste as a Christmas cake but in a crispy cookie. The cookie dough is your regular sugar cookie dough and I can't be bothered don't have enough time to be using cookie cutters to make shaped cookies.

Once you've got your cookie dough ingredients mixed, allow 30 minutes to chill in the refrigerator. If it's a warm day, cut the dough into thirds and use one third at a time to roll out.

Rolling out the dough is a breeze. This is something you can get the kids to help you with. Place the ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. Once rolled, trim the edges, sprinkle with your choice of McCormick spices mixed with sugar and, using the baking paper as a guide, roll the cookie dough into a log.

I chose nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cinnamon. You could crush some whole cloves to add more flavour.

Once rolled, wrap in cling film and chill in the freezer compartment for approximately 30 minutes until quite firm. Slice into 1cm (1/4 inch) slices and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated 170 deg C (350 deg F) oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden.

While still warm, I sprinkled with a little McCormick Vanillin Sugar. (I cooked the end bits for the kids, and me.)

Christmas Spice Pinwheels

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 250gm unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Spice Mix

  • 1/4 teaspoon each of your favourite Christmas spices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • vanillin sugar for sprinkling (optional)

  1. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  2. Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add egg and vanilla to melted butter and beat well.
  4. Add to dry ingredient mix and once mixed together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  6. As per the pictures above, roll out one third of dough into a rectangular shape between two layers of baking paper.
  7. Trim ends and sprinkle with spice/sugar mix.
  8. Roll into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
  9. Roll remaining two thirds of cookie mixture and repeat rolling steps.
  10. Remove cookie log from freezer and slice into 1cm (1/4 inch) slices and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  11. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Sprinkle with vanillin sugar or more Christmas spice/sugar mix.
  13. Allow to cool and store. 
  14. Bake remaining cookie dough from freezer as required.

If you'd like to give a gift to someone who already bakes, you can put together one of those gifts in a jar with all the cookie dry ingredients in it, adding all the Christmas spices into the mix. Just add a tag, listing the wet ingredients and layer the dry ingredients in a jar. This makes a lovely gift and a lovely cookie. For the ingredient's list and how to layer, click here.

For your chance to win one of three McCormick Christmas spice packs PLUS a Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter set, tell me in the comment below what your favourite Christmas cookie is. Don't forget to add your email address in the comments so I can get back to you if you've won.

Competition closes 12pm (Brisbane time) Friday, 12 December 2014

Congratulations to Claire, Mary and Nicole. You are the winners of the 
McCormick Christmas Spice Gift Pack. Your prizes will be out to you in the mail shortly.
Thank you to all who entered.

Terms & Conditions
  1. This is a game of skill.  
  2. This competition is open to Australian Residents only.  
  3. The prize is ONE McCormick Christmas Spice Pack plus a Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter set. There will be three winners drawn.  
  4. This prize is not redeemable in cash.
  5. This competition is open from now until midday, Friday, 12 December 2014 AEST.
  6. The winner will be announced on this blog,  Domesblissity Facebook page and Twitter accounts and I will contact you via email.  
  7. The winner will have 7 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be redrawn.
Good luck!

Disclaimer:  I was gifted a selection of McCormick Christmas spices plus a Festive Cookie Mix in a Jar. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Double Choc Cookie Cups

Oh my goodness! It seems like forever ago since I made these. I'm so far behind on my blog posts. I was downloading photos from my phone when I stumbled across these then remembered I hadn't blogged about them. I've also been having no end of trouble with phones and cameras and photos not being downloaded. It's been one thing after another with technology for me lately.

Anyway, that's enough of a rant from me. As you already know, I'm a Pinterest fan and love the recipes that come flooding through on my Pinterest feed. Another such recipe I've been seeing a lot of recently is for cookie cups. It's all about baking your cookie in a muffin pan and filling it with all sorts of delicious things.

This was my first attempt so I didn't want to get too adventurous with ingredients so used my basic biscuit recipe from my high school home economics cookbook, "Day to Day Cookery" and added a bit of cocoa to the recipe.

These delicious (and "devilishly" as it says on the packet) individually wrapped dark chocolate squares were on sale so I picked up a few bags (quite a few - they were used in another recipe, honest).

It was just a matter of rolling balls of cookie dough and then pressing them into a well greased (excuse the excess use of oil spray in the above photo - I wanted to make sure they didn't stick, and no, they didn't) muffin pan. Then you just press the chocolate into the centre.

After this successful attempt I can't wait to try different flavour combinations. The possibilities are endless. You can check out some recipes that I've pinned on my Pinterest feed here.

Double Choc Cookie Cups
(From "Day to Day Cookery"
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup Self Raising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 150gm butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • dark chocolate squares

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. 
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together, melt butter and add to dry mixture. 
  3. Add beaten egg. 
  4. Mix together. Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls and pop into a well greased mini muffin pan.
  5. Press chocolate squares into mixture until a 'cup' forms.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 mins, approx.
  7. Makes approx 24 min cookie cups.