Valentine’s Day – A 3-Course Dinner

Valentine’s Day – A 3-Course Dinner

Earlier this week it was Valentine’s Day.

Hubby and I rarely go out on Valentine’s Day, as we have found in the past that restaurants are usually too busy and hence the staff overworked and really don’t want to be there. We found the service rushed and the food not at its

We may or may not go out for a meal on the weekend.

However, for Valentine’s Day itself, I decided to prepare a three-course meal -of course on a budget- from my “Special Occasions” cookbook.

Have you seen it yet here’s the link to it

It will help you create easy special occasion meals without breaking the budget anyway back to our meal.

For starters, I cooked a Chicken Ravioli in Pumpkin Soup, which is such an easy way to make a restaurant look super simple. Most supermarkets and butchers sell gourmet sausages in various flavours, so pick one that takes your fancy. As this is a starter you only need one sausage per person and use wonton wrappers as the ravioli.

Take the sausage meat out of the casing and divide into three portions from each sausage, place onto the wonton wrappers place another piece over the top, press it down firmly to seal and cut out into a nice shape. I use an egg ring and it came out the perfect size.

While you are making up your ravioli, have a big pot of water on to boil. When you’re ready to go pop in the raviolis and simmer them for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.

While the ravioli is cooking. Boil the kettle and put two sachets of cup-of-soup into a heat proof jug. When you’re ready to serve make up the soup, pour into some bowls, add the ravioli and top off with some chopped parsley or shaved parmesan.

While the ravioli was boiling, I started on the main course, a chicken version of duck à la orange.

Before I get to the recipe, I must tell you the story of the chicken breast.  I went into our local Woolworths trying to get to skin-on chicken breasts as I wanted the skin to go nice and crispy, but the deli didn’t have any at all but only had skin off. I had to look at the packaged meat department and again only skin off.

Then I noticed that they had small chickens on sale for just $5.00/kg so I bought a chicken and when I got home, simply removed the breasts and cut off the Maryland portions and popped them in the freezer for another meal.

Anyway, back to the Chicken.  I have made this recipe before, but not for quite some time and I have forgotten how simple it actually is. The most time-consuming part is waiting for the sauce to reduce.  It is a lovely recipe and we must have it again soon. As a special freebie, I have included the recipe here for you to download.

Dessert was a real supermarket cheat I simply bought Wicked Sister Strawberry Pannacotta, a punnet of fresh raspberries (only because the strawberries looked really ordinary, and I didn’t think they were worth the money) and a small tub of dollop cream.

Keeping a few raspberries aside for garnishing, it was a simple case of popping the raspberries into the blender with a tablespoon of icing sugar and blitzing into a smooth sauce. I did find I needed to add a couple of tablespoons of water as it was quite thick.

The pannacotta was just placed onto a small plate with a dollop of cream, fresh raspberries and sauce. A final dusting of icing sugar finished it all off nicely.

None of these dishes were difficult or costly.  I worked out the entire meal cost well under $50 for the two of us and I have the chicken marylands and the wonton wrappers left for another day.

To go with our dinner, I made our favourite Mocktail of the moment a “French Martini” if you look up the ingredients for a proper French Martini, you’ll find it is Chambord, pineapple juice and vodka.  Chambord is a Raspberry Liqueur and Bickford’s Raspberry Cordial works well as a substitute. To make the Mocktail, I use a protein shake shaker, 1 part of cordial to 2 parts pineapple juice and give it a good shake. You want it to be nice and frothy on top. Pour into a glass and I like to top it up with soda water. It really is a very refreshing drink.

 I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day and were spoiled appropriately.

Download the Special Occasion CookBook Now for $4.99 and have your next restaraunt worthy dinner sorted.

Special Occasion Entertaining

Special Occasion Entertaining

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, I started to consider what I might do for a special dinner.

We rarely go out on the actual day as we often find the food and service are less than perfect, as the entire staff is overworked and very busy.

I was talking to my friend about it and she sighed and said, “I miss going out to our favourite restaurants, but the budget just doesn’t seem to stretch that far”

I know many people have decided that dining out has become a luxury that is just not happening right now.

So I asked her. ”What if I told you you can bring the restaurant experience to your own home and have that special Valentine’s Dinner that you really wanted?”

Her reply was “It is all too hard to cook nice things at home. I never have the time and the ingredients end up costing more than just going out.”

I set off telling her all sorts of ways to have a romantic dinner with not too much hassle or spending at all.

When we had finished chatting, she said to me “You should write a cookbook”

So… I did !

In this eBook, you will find restaurant worthy meals that won’t break the budget.

Using basic ingredients easily bought from any supermarket, you don’t need to be a Master Chef to whip up a delicious meal.

Gaining inspiration from restaurant menus, it is often reasonably easy to put together a dinner spread that would rival the best bistro.

You may not qualify for a Michelin Star but your bank account will certainly thank you.

Included in the book are multiple ideas for all three courses of a sumptuous dinner and you may well find that the entire meal will cost less than one starter at a fancy restaurant.

So how can you get this awesome eBook?

It’s simple – click here and purchase now for the special price of just $4.99 and it will be in your inbox quicker than you can make a reservation.

I’m confident that you’ll love this cookbook and can’t wait to see the delicious meals you create.  So what are you waiting for?

Click now, make that shopping list and dinner is sorted, all you need to do now is splash out on a nice bottle of wine, organise a babysitter and turn your Valentine’s Dinner into something really special.

Holiday Time :)

Holiday Time :)

Any travel through this CoVid time is a challenge, but we had decided that we did need a break but we would need to stay within our home state of Queensland.  At Easter we usually are able to take the Thursday before and the Tuesday after Easter to create a nice 6 day break.

For this trip we chose Rockhampton as it had been a long time since either of us had been in the area. A quick “Google” showed lots to do and see, but on further investigation I could not find any suitable accommodation.

I knew Yeppoon is the beachside locale of Rockhampton so decided to look there… Still not a lot available but I knew Easter would be a very busy time. I finally found “Salt Yeppoon Apartments“, a newish resort right on the oceanfront. It promised that every room has an ocean view. A few clicks and we were booked in a 1 bedroom apartment for 5 nights.

You can read all about our holiday on my travel blog here

Eating “Out”

Eating “Out”

Although in Queensland, we have been lucky to not have had the heavy lockdowns of some places, hubby and I have not been go out as much as usual.

This weekend though I felt like a “Cafe” breakfast and a Picnic lunch 🙂

Rather than going out, we decided to look at what we already had.

My usual go to menu item in Eggs Benedict. It really is quite easy to prepare.

A slice of sourdough bread, spinach, ham and a poached egg.
To finish it off, I have a great “cheats” hollandaise sauce that I found years ago on a website.

  • 2 tsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

In a bowl, cup or small jug, microwave the butter until melted
Mix in mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard and heat until warm.
Whisk until smooth. and add in salt and pepper to taste.

For our picnic lunch, I used two cold roasted chicken pieces and a selection of fruit, vegetables, cheese and nuts from the fridge and pantry.  Served simply on a board, it made for a simple but abundant meal overlooking the nearby beach.

Making “Budget” Food High Class

Making “Budget” Food High Class

Part of the appeal of eating out is often, for us ladies, the fact that we don’t have to cook.

Luckily hubby and I enjoy cooking so that is not such an issue for us.   We tend to look for “something different”
Different flavours, different pairings, different view.

We were wandering along our local restaurant strip recently and neither of us felt the compulsion to try anything (and subsequently spend $100 for a “blah” experience).    One restaurant has “Italian Lemon Chicken with Garlic Beans”  I have had this dish before and it is nice so when I pulled some chicken Maryland pieces out of the freezer for dinner, I thought that is what I will make.

The other appeal of a meal out is the beauty of the meal on the plate.  We all eat with our eyes first and it does make a difference to the most basic of meals if you take just a little time to present it on a plate with care.

I like to look at Instagram or Pinterest for plating ideas.  The rise of “FoodPorn” Instagrammers means there are loads of examples of beautiful plates of food.  You don’t need to copy them verbatim, but take some clues as you why a dish takes your fancy and keep it in mind when serving your meals.

I found this image of a nice chicken dinner to provide some inspiration for my “Italian Chicken”

With just a little bit of “foodie” style elevated what could have been a standard Chicken and Mash dinner into something that felt much more like the experience of a meal out.  A glass of my new favourite sparkling wine certainly helped too.

Italian Herb Chicken

 2 Chicken Maryland pieces
 1 tbsp Butter
 1 tbsp Olive Oil
 1 tsp Mixed Italian Herbs
 2 Tomatoes cut into pieces ( or used halved cherry tomatoes)
 2 Mushrooms sliced finely
 1 Onion diced finely
 1 Clove of Garlic Crushed
 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
 ½ cup Chicken stock, water or white wine.
 Shaved Parmesan Cheese for Serving.

Lemon Garlic Green Beans

 1 Green Beans trimmed to similar sizes
 1 Clove of Garlic Crushed
 1 tbsp Butter
 1 Zest and Juice of a small lemon

Parmesan Potato and Cauliflower Mash

 1 Potato (medium)
 1 Cauliflower piece approx the same size as the pototo.
 ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
 2 tbsp Butter
 ¼ cup Milk

1: Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Melt the butter in a heavy based, oven proof frying pan, adding olive oil to prevent the butter burning.

Add onion and sweat until almost translucent, Add garlic, herbs and Chicken Drumsticks. Fry until the chicken is lightly golden all over.

Pour over the chicken stock, wine or water, cover and place into the oven for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Check that the pan does not dry out. Add more stock if needed.

2: While the chicken is cooking, steam the green beans and boil the potato and cauliflower.

3: When the beans are tender, place into a small pan with butter, garlic and lemon juice. Melt to coat the beans. Keep warm until ready to serve.

4: Mash the potato and Cauliflower together with butter, milk and parmesan. Keep warm until ready to serve.

5: When the chicken is cooked, place the pan on the stovetop after removing the drumsticks to rest. Add the Tomato, Mushroom and tomato paste, stirring to pick up all the bits off the bottom of the pan. bring to a simmer until the mushrooms are tender.

6: Plate up carefully and serve with shaved parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Friday Night “Eat In”

Friday Night “Eat In”

You may remember that last Friday, I made the decision to create a restaurant style meal each Friday night.

I had the week to think about it and ponder over what was in the fridge and freezer.  This what I came up with.

Salmon Wellington with Lemon Butter Green Beans and Carrots

see the recipe below

Would I  make it again?

Yes…. but. The pastry did go a little soggy, so if I was do it again, I would place baby spinach leaves on the pastry to try and combat some of the moisture.  It would have been nice with some flaked almonds added to the vegetables too.

Overall though, it was a success.

Salmon Wellington with Lemon Butter Green Beans and Carrots

4 Button Mushrooms ( medium)
 1 Onion (small)
 1 tbsp Thyme
 1 tbsp Butter
 1 tbsp Olive Oil
 2 Salmon Fillets with our without skin
 2 Puff Pastry Sheets
 1 Egg
 2 Carrots (cut into sticks)
 2 Serves of fresh Green Beans cut to the same size as the carrots
 1 tbsp Butter
 1 Lemon (Juiced)


1: Pre Heat your oven to 180C or (160C Fan Forced)

Remove the Pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw.

2: Finely chop the Mushroom and Onion

Melt together the Butter and Olive Oil
Add the mushroom, Onion and Thyme and
sautee until soft and fragrant.

3: Place Salmon Fillets onto the pastry skin side down

Spoon over the mushroom mixture and drizzle over any pan juices.
Fold over the Pastry to envelope the salmon.
Brush with egg wash.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is deep golden brown.

4: While the Salmon is cooking, boil or steam the carrots and Beans until tender.

When cooked drain well and quickly add butter and lemon juice.
Swirl gently to coat the veges. (be careful not to break the carrots)

5: To plate up, place the Salmon parcels on one side of the plate and arrange the vegetables to the side.

Pour the butter/lemon sauce over the veges.