About Me

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Men and their toys and melting moments



The man of the house purchased a blower about a year ago to pick up the leaves outside and being the fanatic he is about his garden, it is out at least a few times a week, after work and then the weekends. People come to stay and the cry we hear is he is out there again…  The noisy thing it is. 

As much as he won’t admit it, I think he enjoys it and it is great to see that he takes pride in his yard. 

With the man of the house away working, I have been relegated to cleaning up the yard, in between keeping the house in order.  I tried to bribe the youngest with extra pocket money to get the blower out but he took one look outside, down the side of the house and it was just a plain “No”.  He is now sweeping the deck, the easiest of the jobs and who can blame him.  The neighbour has grown bamboo against the fence that continues to grow and at the slightest bit of wind drops many many leaves.  I can understand the man of the house’s frustration now at windy days.    I am almost tempted to go next door and ask the neighbour to trim or cut down the bamboo to below fence height and if that doesn’t work after the massive job of picking up all the leaves this morning, getting up at 7.00 a.m. and getting that noisy blower out instead of  the more neighbourhood friendly time of 10.00 am.

At least for now I have a lovely tidy yard, having weeded and watered the garden.  I have the tub out now on the deck to wash the dog and she, I see, is planning her escape route.


Melting Moments


I made these on a whim yesterday and they went down a treat.  I think there is only two left. 

Enjoy x

Ingredients

200 g butter, softened
¼ cup icing sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup cornflour
Butter icing

Method

Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.  Sift flour and cornflour together.  Mix into creamed mixture, mixing well.  Roll dough into small balls and place on tray lined with baking paper.  Flatten slightly with a floured fork.  Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes until cooked.  Cool and sandwich together with butter icing. 

 
Butter Icing

100 g butter softened
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups of icing sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons of hot water

Cream butter until light and fluffy, add vanilla and beat in icing sugar, add water to give a spreading consistency.  Note:  You do need the icing fairly stiff so it doesn't run out when sandwiching biscuits together.



Friday, 9 May 2014

My Mother's Day Pancakes


This recipe is super easy for anyone to make

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla  essence


Mix all ingredients in bowl. Mixture will be quite thick.
Drop big spoonful of mixture onto hot lightly greased  non-stick fry pan (use butter).  
Turn pancake over when bubbles start to burst onto top surface.   
Cook second side until golden.  
Place in oven to keep warm and cook rest of mixture.
To serve place 2 or 3 pancakes on plate and  top with strawberries and maple syrup.  
Serves 4


Enjoy and Happy Mother's Day to all xx

Monday, 21 April 2014

It's raining passionfruit hallelujah!

We have an abundance of passionfruit at home. No sooner do I gather up the passionfruit that have dropped off the vine then there is another lot waiting patiently to be devoured. I have given them away, used them in fruit salads, muffins, and topped banana cakes with passionfruit icing, not great for the waistline I know. I have even wrapped a couple in tinfoil and Easter egg wrappers and given to my boys along with their Easter eggs on basis of a healthier alternative. My eldest couldn't wait to open his and was more than  disappointed that it was not a big chocolate filled egg and did not see the funny side at all. My youngest has carefully placed his with a couple of eggs in a bowl in the fridge. Will wait and see...

I do love though mixing passionfruit with Greek yoghurt for breakfast and it is absolutely delicious topped with strawberries and  bananas on French toast. Yum. I have been  told too that it is healthy and a great source of Vitamin C and A which is definitely a bonus. 

A favourite at home is passionfruit curd. Drop a big dollop in to tarts, on top of ice cream, French  toast or mini pavs with cream. Give this recipe a go.  Enjoy x

Passionfruit Curd
Makes approx 2 cups
6 Passionfruit, cut in half and scoop out pulp
2 egg plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
100 gsm butter, chop into cubes

In a heat proof bowl mix passionfruit pulp, sugar and eggs. 
Place over saucepan of simmering water. 
Whisk continuously for approximately 10 minutes until mixture is thickened and creamy. 
Take off heat and quickly whisk in cubes of butter. 
Pour into sterilised jar/jars. 
Place baking paper over top of jar and cool to room temperature.
Take baking paper off and top with lid. 


Sunday, 6 April 2014

School Holiday Activities Complete with Sausage and Caramelised Onion Rolls. No reason to say "Mum I'm bored"!


School holidays come around all too quick and it  is always hard to keep the kids entertained and active.  It is great that  Easter falls at the end of holidays here which means we have a chance to get away camping for  a few days.  Hopefully the weather gods will be good to us this year!  Well here are my picks for April hols.

Gold Coast City Council always have a great "Active & Healthy Holiday Program" running each day over the holidays for all ages. Visit www.gcparks.com.au and click on "check out program here" link. There are a lot of fantastic activities this year for everyone.  There is "surfercise" yoga based surfing exercise to help those budding surfers improve their balance and fitness, sedgway rides, stand up paddling, circus training,  film making, crafts and lots of outdoor fitness and Ausrec sports training  for very little cost if any (a lot are FREE).  There is something for everyone to try and for the older teens there is the Youth Vibe program. 

Head to Gold Coast Iceland  and strap on a pair of skates.  Great prices and great in the fact that you only pay if you are skating.  Remember to bring warm clothes and for the adults not skating - grab a Zarraffas takeaway coffee just down the road. www.goldcoasticeland.com.au

Gold Coast Compound is the skateboarders and scooters paradise.  3 hours of jumping off ramps into foam pits is just heaven for some. www.gccompound.com


Create, explore and interact - The Queensland Museum in Brisbane has some fantastic interactive exhibitions these school holidays including Cavern of the Curious, It's Atomic, Deep Oceans and I Spy tours.  Go to www.qm.qld.gov.au/Events+and+Exhibitions/Events/2014/04/April+school+holidays#.U0DqPzkSSyd  and  for more fun and interactive stuff  at the Museum such as learning to move objects with your mind  at the Science Fiction, Science Centre  or for more cool interactive stuff at Action Stations go to  www.sciencentre.qm.qld.gov.au/  When enough is enough head to Southbank Parklands  for a swim in the lagoon and a much needed cuppa.


For a fantastic day out in Brisbane hire a bike and see the sights around Brisbane city.  You can hire a bike from City Cycle bike stations www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/sports-leisure/cycling-brisbane/citycycle-bike-hire
You must be 17 to hire a bike but pop the kid's bikes and helmets in the back of the car, pack a backpack and off you go, a great way to see the city.

For the creative ones they can create a collage masterpiece at Mrs Red's Art Room. These classes look like so much fun.   The pictures look absolutely amazing.  I would love to join in and have a go myself. Cost includes all materials and pictures are ready to hang when finished  Go to http://mrsredsartroom.com/dec13jan14-holiday-program/ to book.

"Flip Out" is  a massive trampolining playground at Tweed Heads.  Full of trampolines everywhere, this will get the heart rates pumping.  Heaps of fun. www.flipout.net.au

If it is beautiful and sunny,  pack a picnic lunch, swimmers  and head on down to Currumbin Rock Pools.  Peaceful and relaxing, plenty of grass for the kids to run around and of course the  rock pools to cool off.  It is just off Currumbin Creek road.  Another option is the  Tallebudgera Creek, a nice  spot for swimming and kayaking. www.gcparks.com.au/park-details.aspx?park=1610

At the end of a day, here is a great recipe from Superfood Ideas (Claire Brookman)  that the kids will love and it is quick and easy to prepare. For the younger ones you can swap the sausages and onions with fish fingers (this used to be a favourite after sports training nights).  Serve with bake at home fries. Enjoy xx

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 extra lean beef chipolata sausages
  • 20g butter
  • 3 red onions finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 16 bake at home dinner bread rolls
  • 1 cos lettuce, leaves separate and torn in half
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways and thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook sausages, turning, for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a heatproof dish. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat butter and remaining oil in pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Add sugar and vinegar. Cook, uncovered, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until caramelised.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Place rolls on trays. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden.

Halve the rolls lengthways, leaving 1 side joined. Place 1 piece of lettuce, 3 cucumber slices and 1 chipolata sausage in each roll. Top with onion mixture. Serve immediately.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Love is in the Air; Be Spontaneous on Valentine's Day

Get out there and enjoy the moment! I myself am not a big fan of Valentine's Day as I believe that we should treasure what we have. Being  thoughtful and giving time, showing our loved ones we care and are there for them regularly I feel is more important. Something  as little as making a cup of tea, taking time out to talk and listen to each other  and giving each other a big hug and and a meaningful  "I love you" doesn't cost anything but it says and means a great deal.

But with Valentine's day falling on a  Friday this year it is just perfect to be spontaneous and create wonderful memories. Whisk  him/her away to a concert, show or the gold class movies, sports game or jet off for a quick gettaway - Jetstar  have flights going at great prices - www.jetstar.com/au/en/special-offers.

If that's not your scene here are some of  my other picks:
  • Get a gift that gives years of enjoyment and colour. Buy a rose bush or flowering shrub to plant in the back yard.  Bunnings have a wonderful selection of plants.
  • Plan a picnic at the beach or park under the stars. Pack a picnic basket, rug and a great bottle of wine.  Take a star chart and look for stars that you know.  Choose a star  for just the two of you.
  • For someone who has everything.... have a star named after them. Go to www.starregistry.com.au and select a constellation and register a star. 
  • Make love coupons or vouchers containing promises that range from the mundane to the downright sexy.  Make a large heart from construction paper and attach as many coupons as you are willing to give e.g. "This voucher is good for one massage in a bubble bath. Any time day or night"  Let your imagination run wild and have fun!
  • Get organised and pack the car up with camping gear, kids and dog and get away and spend some quality family time over the weekend.   The kids do go to sleep eventually and you too can have some quality time, chilling out with a nice glass of red.
  • An absolute treasure, Coolabah Charms create personalised hand stamped gold or silver pendants, a unique and special gift. www.coolabahcharms.com/
  • Whether you want something invigorating, relaxing or just romantic , Red Balloon have some awesome gifts, ideas and experiences for Valentine's Day www.redballoon.com.au/valentines-day-gifts
  • For something totally left field and for someone who loves the tropics and creativity - book a trip  to Fiji. Paradise Courses have yoga, art/painting, snorkelling, and writing getaways at Daku Resort in Vanua Levi, Fiji. http://paradisecourses.com/2014-courses-2.
  • Lastly, have  a special evening at home. Dress  up, fill the house with candles, beautiful music and create a meal  followed by a dessert that is wickedly delicious - my chocolate mousse.  Enjoy. 

Wishing you  a Happy Valentine's Day xxx


Chocolate Mousse


  • 300g quality dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 300ml thickened cream plus extra whipped cream to serve
  • Grated chocolate to serve


Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water  Stir chocolate until melted. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters for  approximately 5 minutes, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. With spatula fold in cooled chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.

In a separate bowl, whip cream until thickened (be careful not to over-beat). Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, keeping the mixture as light as possible. Spoon into 6 serving glasses and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving,  top with extra whipped cream (optional - you may not need extra cream as this recipe is super rich) and grated chocolate to serve.





Friday, 24 January 2014

Australia Day wouldn't be the same without BBQ Lamb and Pavlova!


We all love to celebrate Australia day with family and friends.   Lamb is a firm staple on Australia Day and this lamb recipe is super easy for the Barbie whether you cook it  at home, the park or  down on the beach.
           

Lemon, Mint and Oregano Lamb

  • 12 lamb mid-loin chops,
  • tzatziki dip, to serve


Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon each of fresh oregano and mint


Combine oil, garlic, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, oregano and mint in a dish.
Add lamb to marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or if you have time, overnight.
Preheat bbq plate on medium-high heat. Remove lamb from marinade. Barbecue lamb, basting with marinade, for 6 to 8 minutes on each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Remove to a plate. Cover and let  stand for 5 minutes.

Serve lamb chops with tzatziki, green salad and potato salad.




To finish off the day, my favourite....

Giant Pavlova with Berries and Salted Caramel 



The idea is to put this in the centre of the table and give everyone a spoon to dig in. This is a recipe from Valli Little’s "Love to Cook" cookbook and an   awesome dessert for Australia Day.  If you are planning a picnic ensure that you make the pavlova to fit into a container etc and most importantly … have plenty of spoons for everyone.



  • 6 eggwhites

  • 350g caster sugar 

  • 1 tbs white balsamic vinegar 

  • 1 tbs cornflour, sifted 

  • 1/3 cup (50g) icing sugar, sifted 
  • 
600ml thickened cream 

  • 500g mixed berries



Salted caramel

  • 2 1/2 cups (550g) caster sugar 

  • 300ml thickened cream (at room temperature) 

  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste


Preheat oven to 150ºC. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Place eggwhite in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks. Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be beaten well, whisking until mixture is glossy.
Reduce speed to low, then add balsamic, cornflour and icing sugar and continue beating to combine. Spread mixture over the baking paper in a round or oblong shape, making a slight indent in the centre.

Reduce oven to 130ºC and bake meringue for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave meringue in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1-2 hours until cooled completely. Remove from oven and place on a platter or serving board.

Meanwhile, for the salted caramel, combine sugar with 1/2 cup (125ml) water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and cook, without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush, for 8-10 minutes until a golden caramel forms. Remove from heat and pour in cream (be careful, as mixture will bubble, then seize).

Return pan  to low heat, add salt to taste and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until smooth.


To serve, whisk cream to soft peaks, then spread over meringue. Scatter over berries and drizzle with salted caramel.
Enjoy and happy Australia Day x



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