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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

  • 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

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

School holiday project- skateboard deck design ready to ollie, kick flip or pop shove it!

Have an old skateboard? This is a great project during hols.  Kids can create their own art masterpiece and turn it into a tramp board, shelf  for bedroom (with or without wheels) or just  a piece of art.

You will need

  • Old skateboard - if you can't find any old ones floating around, you can buy cheap ones at Kmart for $8. You can also pick old ones up at garage sales etc
  • Screw driver 
  • Sandpaper
  • Pencil and paper
  • White or Black acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rags
  • Posca paint pens (awesome pens to paint with, buy at newsagents or art shop. Eckersleys art have a great supply, www.eckersleys.com.au
  • Clear  spray sealer

Grab an old skateboard.
Unscrew trucks and wheels.
Lightly sand skateboard deck.
Wipe dust off 
Decide on design and practice drawing on paper. Google images are a good source. If you like graffiti style there are some fantastic ideas. Let your imagination run wild. 
Paint board in white or black paint acrylic paint and  let dry. You will need to give it at least a couple of coats. 
Once dry pencil or chalk in design. 
Paint design using Posca paint pens. These pens are easy to master and give good coverage. 
When finished spray with  2  coats of sealer. 
End result - your own original masterpiece to ollie, kick flip and pop shove it!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Refreshing Taste of Summer - Watermelon Salad

Summer is my favourite time of the year. With holidays and beautiful weather it is a good time just to enjoy the sunshine, go to the beach, take a walk, swim, catch up with friends over a BBQ or just laze around with a good book and an ice cold drink.

And with so many great fruits in season it hard to pick one. Watermelon is a big favourite in our household. It is fantastic on its own or in salads, drinks or ice blocks. Try this salad for a tantalising dance on your taste buds, the refreshing taste of watermelon, saltiness of feta cheese and the beautiful aroma and freshness of mint, along with the coolness of cucumber.

Watermelon Salad

  • 1/4 watermelon, diced
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 200 g feta cheese diced
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint shredded
  • Red wine vinegar - optional
Mix all ingredients except vinegar in serving bowl, drizzle with red wine vinegar. 

This salad goes wells with home made fish and chips -  Serves 4. 
 Turn oven on to 200 degrees celsius.  Dust 6 fish firm white fish fillets in plain flour, dip in egg, and coat in a mixture of breadcrumbs, lemon pepper,shredded Parmesan  cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside. 
Slice  8 potatoes  into 1cm thick fingers. Toss in olive oil and lay on lined baking tray. Season well with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 mins then  add fish fillets on tray, lightly drizzle with oil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. 
Serve fish and chips with Watermelon Salad and Homemade Tartare Sauce. 

To make home made tartare sauce, mix together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, chop finely 2 dill pickles, 1/2 lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon capers rinsed and chopped.

Enjoy xx
Ps.. Try this combination - for a great entree serve sliced watermelon and with grilled/bbq haloumi and mint, it is delicious. Or for a healthy dessert the kids will love...thread diced watermelon, strawberries and pineapple on skewers and serve with yoghurt.

Would love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

School Holiday Activities Recipe for Success , Just Add Fun, Family and Fondue!

Another Christmas over and done and dusted.  Then there's is the dilemma of keeping the kids entertained and active over the school holidays.  Here are my picks.

Gold Coast City Council 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 on what is on offer here".  I was really surprised, there are a lot of fantastic activities this year for everyone for very little cost if any (a lot are FREE) from art workshops to skateboarding and slack lining and the new and "parkour" (great for my eldest who loves to run and jump obstacles) at the Southport Broadwater  Parklands to Sushi making, film making, bongo drumming, tie-dying and group fitness.  There is also a parents bootcamp twice a week.  My youngest, the budding master chef, is sushi making tomorrow.

"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

Gold Coast Iceland is the place to go to cool down.  Strap on a pair of skates and off you go.  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 heaven. www.gccompound.com

Jigsaws are an awesome rainy day activity.  Kmart have 500 piece jigsaws for $1.00. Lay them out on the dining table and the whole family can enjoy the moment as they stop and place their pieces in the masterpiece.

Doodle Art is a great idea. A hive of busy activity these posters are.  I wouldn't know where to start.  They come with poster, and pens and keep kids busy over time. Eckersleys at Labrador, www.eckersleys.com.au have a good supply.  A vibrant store full of  arts and crafts supplies.  They do run workshops there as well.

Fishing, my favourite.  Grab a couple of fishing rods, bait and pack a picnic.  There are so many great fishing spots on the Gold Coast.  Pack swimmers and towels for a swim afterwards.

With beautiful weather and many of us going back to work  it is nice to catch up at the end of the day.  
Grab that esky, picnic rug and head to the park with skateboards, footballs  and dog etc in tow.  Pack some wraps, cooked chicken and salad and drink.  It is a beaut way to relax at the end of the day.   And for dessert, bring along fondue set with tea light candle (these can be bought at many kitchen shops or department stores).   Have the kids chop up strawberries, marshmallow, banana bread and of course bring along the chocolate to melt.  Enjoy xx

Chocolate Fondue

1 250 g good quality milk or dark chocolate
1/3 cup of thickened cream 
Strawberries, husked and sliced
Bananas or Kiwifruit, sliced
1 packet of marshmallows
Banana bread cubed

Place chocolate and cream in fondue bowl, light burner and stir until smooth.
Dip strawberries/marshmallows/banana bread in chocolate, yum (make sure you have plenty of forks!)

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