Wednesday, October 3, 2012

start speading the news, i'm leaving today....

image from here
One of the upsides of having a bunch of "wow...that feels a bit grown-up" milestones that all kind of bunch together - 10th wedding anniversary, the big 4-0 (me, with his just around the corner), the baby of the family starting school, as well as starting a new venture , it gives you an excuse to plan a bit of a once-in-a-life-time trip.

I am just about bursting with excitement because this morning, H-for-Husband & I hand the boys over to the loving (and slightly nervous!) hands of the Grand-mothers and head off to New York.....for almost 3 weeks - yes people! 3 weeks - just us and one amazing, huge, crazy city.

I can't promise to post while I'm gone - but will promise much news upon my return!

Monday, October 1, 2012

monday morning blog crush

Image Copyright Michelle Shoeps Organic
Serious blog crush alert!! The amazing Michelle and her gorgeous blog - yummy yummy food and you will die looking at her shots from her recent trip to Paris - it will make you just want to walk right out the door and get on the next plane to the City of Lights - you have been warned!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

baby steps

A challange I set Son #1 recently was to find a recipe and cook dinner for the family one night - unaided.

I pointed him in the direction of the cook books, made a couple of recommendations as to where to start and said "get back to me with a shopping list".

He settled on one of our go-to favs in this house, Tessa Kiros's Apples for Jam. A gorgeous book, it is filled with a heap of kid friendly/family friendly recipes and is organised by colour.

He selected on Involtini - which was a great one as it is pretty simple and produces a super tasty )and good looking result!

Monday, September 24, 2012

paella season!

One of H-for-Husband's "signature" dishes is doing an absolutely cracking Paella - on our Weber kettle BBQ. We have a pan that fits perfectly within the bbq and it produces the most fabulous tasting paella, complete with the lovely crunchy bits on the bottom (hands down the b.e.s.t. bit!)

H has honed the recipe down over many years now and in no time flat, can produce a fabulous dish for 4 or 6 or 10 people - the seafood version is the current favourite (above, with mussles, prawns, white fish and squid).

We hosted some friends recently to farewell a family who are moving to Melbourne and paired the Paella with Vanilla poached Pears - yummmmm!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday on my mind

At the end of a long & busy week, sometimes you just need to give over to the easiest path and let the kids choose between a Hawaiian or (the scary sounding!) Meatasorus.

So sit back, put your feet up - Happy Friday!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lunch box need a little jazzing up?

I don't know about you guys, but my kids definitely get "sandwich fatigue" from time to time (as do I!). This leads to a bit of experimentation - some successful, some not so successful.

One of the hits has been Lasagna Cups. This recipe has been done the rounds of the web for a while now and I can see why - quick, easy and a good mix-up for the lunch box.

Here how we do ours.

Lasagna Cups

1 pack of won-ton wrappers
Left over Spag. Bol. sauce
Grated Cheese

Get a 12 hole muffin tin and lightly grease.
Line 10 of the holes with a wonton wrapper (wontons usually come in packs of 30 and you need 3 per lasagna cup)
Place a heaped teaspoon of spag.bol. sauce on the wrapper. The sauce should not be over filling the layer or it will squoosh everywhere when cooking. A teaspoon may not look like much when you first put it it, but don't be tempted to over fill!
Repeat so you have two layers of meat. Wet the edge of the wrapper slightly with some water on your finger tip to help the layers seal.
Place the last wrapper on top. Put a teaspoon of ricotta, spreading across the top and sprinkle some grated cheese.
Into an oven at about 180/200 for about 20 mins or until golden on top.

The cooked cups store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.


Monday, September 17, 2012

goodbye winter, hello spring!

A typical Saturday morning breakfast for us during the winter sports season consists of a pile of hot, buttered toast, an egg (or two) and what the boys call "Italian Sausage" - basically the best pork sausages you can find, cooked off in a pan, add in some sliced onion, fresh oregano, passata and a hearty squeeze of lemon - just the thing little boys need to get them through a couple of hours running around a football field on a chilly winters morning.

But with the football boots put away for another year (phew!) and the mornings turning warmer, we can turn to a lighter, fresher start on a Saturday - hellllllllo summer!


Friday, September 14, 2012

crazy hour

Is there a crazy hour in your house?

If the wheels are going to fall off around here, it is usually at about 5:55pm. Dinner time for the boys is usually around the 6 to 6:15pm mark, so if things are not going well - peak hunger + tiredness + 3 boy-craziness usually hits just before 6pm.

I have to say the trampoline helps - light & weather allowing, I will usually send them all outside for a quick pre-dinner jump - if the afternoons looniness has been at peak setting some nights will see me eyeing of the wine glass in the cupboard, debating with myself....and then other nights I just say hang it, switch everything off on the stove and go and have a quick jump along with the band of crazies that are my sons.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

new quick-dinner crush

Photo from Dinner: A Love story
Another grown-up-snacky-dinner that is high rotation at the moment of this fantastic recipe from Dinner: A Love story (yes, another one....serious, serious blog crush going on people!)

Check it out - it has even inspired me to make my own tortillas!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Meal Planning Monday

OK - on the cards for this week....

Monday: Crunchy Chicken with Salad
Tuesday: Spaghetti Bol.
Wednesday: Home Made Pizza
Thursday: Lamb Shanks with cous cous
Friday: Pumpkin Soup with toastie dippers

Friday, September 7, 2012

after-school routine

Something I find myself wondering is how do those "smooth" afternoons happen?

You know the ones.....the ones were no one argues when you ask them to empty out their school bags and put their lunch boxes in the sink....they love their afternoon tea and are over joys with whats planned for dinner....and everyone does their home work when asked.....are they all share and take turns on the computer...and no one hits, or pinches, or pokes, or pulls.

What sort of alchemy produces "those" afternoons, when others can be an utter (to quote my father-in-law) fur-line-ocean-going-disaster from "Good afternoon, how was school today" to "Good night, sleep well"?

Is it routine?
Is it the stars?

I don't know what makes them happen, but I do know that if I worked it out, and bottled it, I would have a darn-sight more pennies in the bank!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

it's the bomb

You know when you make a recipe for ages, the kids love it, eat it up every time and then somehow, you're not sure just kind of.....forget about it?

What happens there??

Well, the Bacon Bomb is a case in point!

Bacon Bombs were in pretty high rotation a few years back - small & tasty, they were a great "no cutlery" option for the boys, they were quick and easy to prepare and cook and got devoured every time....and then we just sort of....stooped making them.

From memory, they are a twist on a recipe from a Donna Hay Kids edition, but I think she used prosciutto (which I tried the first time, as wasn't such a hit, so I switched it to bacon).

Bacon Bombs
400g mince (pork or pork & veal are good)
Bacon (depending on the size of the rasher, about 4)
1 egg
breadcrumbs & fresh herbs (for the mince mix)

Combine ingredients for make your preferred mince (I tend to do fresh herbs, a egg, some bread crumbs, a little squirt of tom sauce and sometimes some cooked, diced onion)

Form mince mix into smallish patties, a bit smaller than the size of your palm

Wrap the pattie with a strip of bacon

Cook in non-stick pan over a medium/high heat until golden & crispy (turning once)

Tip: when you first place in the pan, put the patties down on the side where two ends of the bacon fold on each other - this will seal it and you'll then be able to turn without the bacon falling off


Monday, September 3, 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Coming up this week we have:

Monday: Bacon Bombs (more on these shortly!)
Tuesday: Zucchini Fritters with Bacon and Avo plus coriander/lime/Parmesan corn-on-the-cob
Wednesday: Chicken coconut curry with rice
Thursday: Slow roasted lamb shoulder with veggies
Friday: Easy Peasy


Friday, August 31, 2012

we have seen the light!

Having limited storage space in our tiny, tiny kitchen, the purchase of an appliance is something that gets some serious thought action - it's not so much a matter of cost, or ease of use (although these are obviously on the pro/con list) but where on earth will I put it when it's not being used.

Having weighed up all the issues (and eecked out a small space in the cupboard) i finally (finally!!) bought a Breville - yes, that aussie icon of home-based-fast-food (as in super speedy, not super junky) production.

And can I's awesome!!

We have had Jaffles for breakfast, Jaffles for lunch & afternoon tea - I have even sent them to school in the lunch boxes (a step slightly too far for one or two of the boys). We have done Ham & Cheese, we had done Baked Beans, we have done Banana & Nutella - heck, I even got adventurous one Sunday morning and tried Jaffles a'la French Toast (about a 6.5 on the success stakes).

While I admit that we are in the first blush of Jaffle-love and I fully expect the action to settle down, what I am loving (aside for the speedyness and tastyness) is that it has sparked a great response from the boys in coming up with their own combos, making their own jaffles - in other words, it has engaged them in the process of thinking about and making a "meal" - all bit it a quickie - but hey, what a great spring board into the world of "hey mum, I made this!"


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

what are we (the grown-ups!) going to have for dinner??

H-for-Husband tends to work slightly crazy hours - often not getting home until 7 or 7:30 in the evening...which means that during the week, we don't often manage the "every-one-sit-down-together" type of meal.

I tend to cook dinner for the boys and sit with them, chat about their day and do the general de-brief, before hurling them through a shower and getting them sorted for bed.

This also means that most of the time, we end up coming with two dinners every night -  hmmmmm.

Any hoo - the up side of this is that we have quite a array of quick, go-to light meals that are super tasty and great if you need "just a little something" but don't want to run around at 8pm and cook a whole, serious "dinner".

A current favourite is Pan fried Halloumi with Tomato & Lemon.

You slice the Halloumi Cheese and fry in a non-stick pan, turning once, until golden on both sides. Place a slice of cheese on a slice of Tomato, squeeze lemon over the top - hey presto! Super tasty "snacky" dinner!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Meal planning Monday

This week for dinner we have:

Monday: Ravioli and Salad
Tuesday: San Choy Bao
Wednesday: Shredded Beef Tacos
Thursday: Pumpkin Soup with cheesy jaffle dippers
Friday: Butter Chicken with Rice

Busy week around here - lots of freezer-love action!


Friday, August 24, 2012

for the love of a good lettuce cup

In the midst of the time-poor-run-around-doing-a-million-things-at-once bonanza that is currently our lives, San Choy Bao has been popping up a bit on the meal plans.

It a fast-to-prepare and cost effective (read: cheap!) way to get a good amount of protein AND fresh veggies into the boys in one sitting and with minimal complaint. In the past, I have been a shunner of packet mixes & ready-made-sauces, but I must confess, I have become a convert to this (photo above) little packet of joy - the bang-up tasting, super easy San Choy Bao mix made by Lee Kum Kee.

All the making of a tasty dinner!

Tip: I have found that using baby cos lettuce leaves works really well with the kids - they find them easier to handle than ice-berg cups - and are a heap easier to wash & prep!



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crunchy Chicken

Another recent return to our meal plans has been what the boys call "Crunchy Chicken".

It is a Nigella recipe that she calls "Ritzy Chicken Nuggets" and we have long loved it in this house hold for it's ease and flexibility (and freezability!).

I have used the recipe for nuggets, schnitzels and tender strips. Nigella's name of "Ritzy" nuggets comes from the fact the you use crackers (in her case, Ritz crackers) as the crumb coating.

And the best thing of all - you bake them on the oven, so they are a great no-fuss option.


Select and prep your chicken
(you can use thigh for nuggets, breast or tenderloin for schnitzel or strips)
Marinade chicken in some butter milk for up to an hour.
Remove pieces from butter milk and coat in crushed crackers (I generally use Jatz, but Ritz are great too)*
Place in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at about 180/200 for 20 to 25 minutes (turning once) or until golden and crispy

* The chicken can be frozen this point. Layer it in a plastic container with freezer film - it can go straight in the oven from frozen and comes up a treat!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Meal planning Monday

Whats on the menu this week?

For dinner we have.....

Monday - Veggie Fritters with Pumpkin Soup and Toasties (bit of a meat-free-Monday vibe going on!)
Tuesday - Chicken stir-fry with rice
Wednesday - Spaghetti Bolognaise
Thursday - Slow cooked chicken with salad
Friday - McMums with home-made fries


Friday, August 17, 2012

blog love

Photo from Dinner: A Love Story

Check out this great post of dinner: a love story - the summer of self sufficiency - all about letting kids cook, and learn, in the kitchen.

Love it!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

the eb and flow of the plastics draw

Our "plastics" drawer is definitely happiest during school term time.

During term, there is a happy medium within the drawer - room for the plastic jug, enough space to fit a stray lunch box, stacked storage containers sit comfortably, waiting to be filled and placed in the freezer. A ready selection of different sized boxes at your finger tips.

School holidays are a different story.

The drawer heaves under the burden of out-of-service lunch and recess boxes. Items that play happily together in term time, argue with each other for space and jostle of attention when ever the drawer is opened. Lids can not be found and the container you want is always sitting underneath many others, calling for you to disgorge half of the drawers contents to get to it.

H-for-Husband finds the plastics drawer intimidating during holiday time. The children are reticent to open it. I tend to avoid it and revert to using snap-lock bags (unless of course, I am embarking on a school-holiday-get-ready-for-term-time-cooking-fest).

Come Week 1 of term though, and hark, peace is resorted. The plastics are happy once more. The universe is again in balance.

Welcome back to school everyone :)


Monday, June 25, 2012

meal planning monday

This week we have:

Monday: Satay Chicken with veggies and rice
Tuesday: Quiche & Salad
Wednesday: Ravioli with Bacon & Tomato sauce

Short week you say?

The boys break-up from school on Thursday and have a disco on at school that evening, so dinner will be something light, and with Friday being the first day of the holidays, we'll just take it as it comes and enjoy the break from the school-week routine.

I generally print out 2 copies of "the plan" - one goes on the fridge and the other in my diary. This way the kids can keep an eye on whats coming up and I know what I need to have prepped for the following day etc and can work the required shopping/cooking into my day. Aside from the financial savings associated with efficient grocery shopping, the most dramatic effect of the weekly meal plan is the way it cuts down on the general whinging that can go around meals and food in general.

I tend to include breakfast and afternoon tea, as well as dinner, in the plan. This means that the kids know what is coming up during the week (if one of them isn't that mad on whats for dinner one night, then they can see that they really like what is coming up the next night). It also means that in the mornings, they can get up and check whats on the plan for breakfast (and sometimes they even get a start on getting it going!).

Dinners are generally planned around the various after school activities as well as my work commitments and planning also means I can balance out what the meals consist of and avoid last minute stop-gaps (like pasta) happening 4 nights out of 5! At the moment, I am trying to go meat-free for at least one dinner a week, as well as trying to work in some fish to the plan once a week (not being met with such a great response!).

Happy planning!

Friday, June 22, 2012

the most dangerous recipe in the world

One of the things my boys love love love for afternoon tea is Creamed Rice.

It goes something like this....

Heat about 1.5 litres of milk in a heavy based saucepan.

Once it's warm, sprinkle in about a cup, maybe a cup & a half of alborio rice.

Turn the heat down as low as possible and leave the lid on, just slightly ajar.

Keep an eye on it over the next hour or so, stirring occasionally, while the rice swells and absorbs the milk

Once it is all looking pretty thick, but still quite soupy, and the rice is cooked through (but not fall aparty) take it off the heat and let it sit for about ten minutes.

Then....and here is the dangerous a tin a sweetened condensed milk and pour it in and give it a stir. (Don't worry if it is looking runny, the mixture will usually thicken up a bit once it cools down).

The reason WHY this is the dangerous bit, is that, even though I am not a massive sweet tooth, I have a mental battle with myself each and every time, and it is only through great mental strength that I manage to stop myself from putting my finger anywhere near the edge of the tin to get the last little bits give me that funny-fear-based-tummy-flip even thinking about it....everyone knows you shouldn't put your finger near the edge of a tin....but, mannn, it is sooooo tempting!!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

More 'Glamping'

So, we met up with some friends and took the family camping down near Wisemans Ferry in Sydney. It had been POURING some days beforehand but luckily it cleared for us.

So Mr TJ is a bit of a camper. Loves it. Loves to cook over an open fire. So he volunteered to do all the cooking. For our weekend.

The best ever and also easiest meal is Camp Fire Roast Chook!

All you need is a whole chicken, some mixed herbs (those nifty ones in the tube), some oil and some veges. Rub the mixed herbs on the chicken. Place in your camp oven with your chopped veg (potato, carrot, pumpkin etc) and sit in a really hot fire for about an hour and a half. Hey presto. Yummy dinner.

freezer love

I love my Freezer. I really do.

A well stocked freezer is most definitely one of the things that can help make life run smoothly around here.

At the moment in the freezer we have:

Pork Mince - can be used in San Choy Bao or Chinese Dumplings (both speedy favs of H-for-husband)
Meat Balls
Frozen Ravioli
Frozen Peas
Soup - Chicken and veg, as well as Pumpkin
Crumpets - weekend breakfasts
Bananas - cakes/ smoothies etc
Yogurt squeezing things (for lunch boxes)
Pastisis - afternoon tea fodder
Pizza Bases
Butter - for those last-minute-help-i-have-to-make-a-cake-moments
(a'hummmm) vodka

All of which means that I know that when I am having an attack of the "really? i really have to cook dinner again tonight??" I know that there is a quick, easy meal at my finger tips, somewhere in the freezer.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Berry Yummy Muffins

With all the things that life throws our way such as work, soccer training, sports days, music practice etc etc etc....time can be a little on the poor side when it comes to baking delicious treats for my precious ones.

Voila...this easy and delicious muffin recipe. Easy to throw together, quick to cook, delicious to eat. My kids (and my fella) always manage to get their hands on one straight out of the oven! (feel free to substitute blueberries with any other frozen berry):

2 Cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
125g butter - melted and cooled a little
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180degreesC & line muffin tin with cases
2. Sift flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl
3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, melted butter & milk until well combined
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently until just combined (mix will be lumpy)
5. Gently stir through frozen berries.
6. Fill muffin cases approx 3/4 full.

Makes 12 regular muffins OR try a Texas muffin tin. Makes 12 of these whopping ones. Perfect for hungry sports fanatics!

the joy of a good pasta bake

My guys have never been that keen on pasta bake - which, if I am completely honest, has always kind of annoyed me. It just seems like the perfect kind of easy-throw-it-in-a-dish-bake-it-for-a-while-meal (ie: the sort of thing that I can sort out at some point during the day while working from home, but before the after school run around, that can then happily be put in the oven during home-work zone).

But a'ha!! You may have noticed on my last meal planning post, pasta bake was on the list. Lovely-sister-in-law has struck on a recipe that my boys love and it is now part of the rotation and is all the things I thought a good pasta bake would be (see above sentence!).

The recipe originally came from a Donna Hay Kids magazine and goes like this:

Squiggly Pasta Bake by Donna Hay (via Lovely-sister-in-law).

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
400g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes
sea salt and cracked black pepper
300g cooked spaghetti, warmed
1/2 cup pouring cream 125ml
2 cups grated cheddar
3 cups grated mozzarella

Heat the oil in a non stick fry pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add the garlic and beef and cook, breaking up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add the paste and tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180c. Combine pasta, cream and cheddar.  Place half the pasta in a 3.5litre capacity baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and half the beef mix.  Repeat with remaining pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining beef.  Top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 25mins or until golden brown.  Stand for 10 mins before serving. Serves 4-6

You can make the pasta bake with just about any pasta - the spaghetti is great (and is where this recipe gets it's name, from all the squiggy pasta heaped in the pan), but I recently used this pasta, which had the added benefit of when cooked, looking like large witchetty grubs - which caused much mirth among the boys :)


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guz - a new word for your dictionary.

Chicken Guz. A favourite sandwich filling in this house. Not only is it great for the kids, but perfect for entertaining. Kids get brown bread cut in triangles. Guests get white bread without crusts cut into fingers.

"So what is this Guz stuff" I hear you ask? A great idea for using leftover chicken - be it roasted, poached, BBQ'd etc...

This recipe is approximate Im afraid....but will give you a fair idea of what to use.

2 chicken breasts poached and shredded (or use any leftover chicken)
3 large tablespoons egg mayo
2 teaspoons baby capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
zest of half a lemon
salt & pepper

Mix all together and add more mayo if needed.

Thats it.

Awesome Eggs

My mum emailed me this picture. What a great idea for breakfast…and one that the kids will eat too!

Im going to try it out on the weekend...

Friday, June 15, 2012

let them eat cake - part 2

As I mentioned a little while ago, June is a pretty busy birthday month around these parts - in particular, Myself and Son #2 have our celebrations within 2 days of each other.

This year, the birthday weekend was a tad crazy (I was celebrating the big 4-0, Sport'o guy was playing on all-three-days of the long weekend in a sports comp, Son #2 was very excited about turning 9 and the Little-guy fell in a heap with tonsillitis - mannn!). So I did something I realised I hadn't done before - I enlisted the help of said birthday boys' Grandmother to be on Cake duty - and boy, did she deliver! She excelled herself with an abundance of chocolaty goodness that was decked out with about as many candles as it
could carry!

Thanks Nonnie!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Facts

Having one child in year 4 and another in kindy, their brains are constantly working overtime. Some of the questions that I get regarding food are interesting to say the least ("who was the first person to ever try lettuce?", "why do apples grow on trees and not in the ground?")
So...for those questioning little are a few fun food facts. Some are good to do experiments with...especially if you want to get your kids interested in food...
* apples are made of 25% air, that is why they float (a great experiment)
* apples, onions, and potatoes all have the same taste? Try the test: Pinch your nose and take a bite out of each.
* carrots were originally purple in colour, changing in the 17th Century to orange with newer varieties. – you can get purple carrots from some good supermarkets or fruit & veg stores – try them roasted....yum!
* corn always has an even number of ears.
* orange does not rhyme with any other word – go through the alphabet and test this one!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Easy Peasy Bananna Cake

So. Yet another week has gone by when one of the kids has decided that they don’t “like” bananas anymore. Apparently the tastebuds in the mouths of small boys “just don’t like it today mummy”. I never realised that tastebuds were so discerning on a Monday!

Anyway, with an excess of banana (in the freezer as well as in the fruitbowl) I went to my friend Google and found this. Melt and mix banana cake. Pictured below...

Easy. Delicious. I have made this several times. Even added sultanas on occasion for a sweet change and halved the sugar. Perfect for my little sugar bunny (a story for another time!).

Enjoy! Sx

Monday, June 4, 2012

meal planning monday

We are back in the groove of meal-planning in these here parts (phew!).

On the cards for dinner this week is:

Monday: McMums (Home-made burgers & chips)
Tuesday: Shredded Beef Tacos
Wednesday: Squiggly Pasta bake
Thursday: Easy Peasy
Friday: Home Made Pizza

We have a busy, busy week ahead, with two family birthdays, a State Championship Rugby Comp and a Junior Band Eisteddfod on top of all the usual craziness!


Monday, May 28, 2012

smoothie joy

We love a good smoothie 'round these parts.

They are the perfect just-before-you-walk-out-the-door-to-school top up, as well as a great welcome-home-afternoon tea. And as an extra bonus, you can hide all sorts of goodies in them that the kids don't notice.

They are great with a frozen banana or two (or any other frozen or fresh fruit you have), you can add yogurt, juice, milk - even a spoon or two of protein powder - honey, an egg - you name it! I have even added some LSA on a particularly brave day! (this was met with some grumbles, but drunk none the less!).

In summer we have also been known to make frozen-smoothie-pops - the boys think it's extra special (not to mention a little bit naughty!) when I offer them a smoothie-pop before school - "ice-creams" before school? Wohoo!


Friday, May 25, 2012

treat time

What is your "little pantry treat"?

This is mine.

Sugar cubes.

Yes, I know - sugar cubes. Pretty boring huh?

But, I just can't properly discribe the happy feeling I get from looking at the glass jar on my counter, full up with these little uneven, golden coloured cubes of joy.

Prohibative pricing means they are not on the weekly list, but the box lasts us a while, so the monthly budget can most definately be tweeked to allow for a box every now and again!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lunchbox Tip # 3

Just a few more tips to making lunch boxes easier:

Cut up veggie sticks the night before when cutting up the vegetables for dinner and put in a tub ready for the lunchbox.

Ask your little darlings to list their top 10 sandwich fillings and put the list on the fridge, this will help if you are stuck one morning and need to make something in a hurry.

Combine chopped apple and oranges in a container. The orange will help prevent the apple going brown

And…just for a bit of fun, check this out

Is that a banana in your freezer........

Now, it may seem like an unlikely thing to do with a banana,  but if you find yourself with a fruit bowl inhabited with a bunch of un-loved-un-eaten-and-on-the-turn bananas - don't throw them out - chuck them in the freezer!

The frozen banana is  great thing - it is perfect to throw in a Smoothy, and it can be defrosted and added at just about any muffin/cake/pancake batter for that extra bit of yummy goodness.

Just put them in the freezer as their skin. If adding to a smoothy, cut the skin off with a sharp, cerated knife (after softening the banana a little under warm, running water). To use in a cake, they will need to be defrosted - place them on a plate and either leave them in the fridge or out on the bunch top - a small word of warning, once defrosted, the skin turns completely black, and some liquid comes out of the banana - all good though, just remove the top and the defrosted flesh can just be squeezed out.

Happy Bananering!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

blog crush: dinner - a love story

One of my favourite reads is Dinner: a love story and I am loving this list Jenny recently posted - I think my favourites are #4 and #11!

15 Sorta Kinda Truths About Dinner

  1. Shredding bagged lettuce makes it taste fresher and better. It doesn’t matter what kind of lettuce — romaine, iceberg, endive — Last night I made some chili-rubbed chicken and placed it on a bed of shredded spinach (pictured above; recipe below), which I usually find chewy in its whole raw form. Not the case with the shred. Along the same lines, the fine chop of anything as it pertains to a saladex summerus will almost always upgrade it.
  2. When it comes to entertaining: Each kid under eight years old is the equivalent of five grown-ups in terms of volume and space and mess generating.
  3. Heat is the great equalizer when it comes to bagels. I’ll take a just-out-of-the-oven bagel from Missoula over a cold outer-borough bagel any day. (Please do not forward this to my Bronx-born Jewish father.)
  4. Dinner will taste twice as good when it’s eaten outside. It will taste three times as good when eaten in an outdoor space surrounded by white string lights. Four times as good when eaten in an outdoor space surrounded by white string lights and with a view of any body of water.
  5. Magic Formulas Worth Committing to Memory: Melon + Salt; Mint + Peas; Peanut Butter + Fudge Brownies; Bacon + Brussels Sprouts; Bacon + Eggs; Bacon + Maple; Bacon + Bacon; Bacon + Shoe Leather
  6. The quality of dinner at a restaurant is in converse proportion to the number of words on that restaurant’s menu. For instance, Tom Colicchio’s menu at Craft. This is how it reads: Mushrooms. Potatoes. Braised Short Ribs. A menu like that is always going to win out over the one listingPork chops marinated in brandy and pomegranate juice with sweet potatoes and miso-mango chutney on a bed of shaved salsify and butter lettuces. (Another red flag: the pluralization of lettuce.)
  7. Kids are able to tap into deep wells of resourcefulness with remarkable efficiency when it comes to assembling the ice cream, the peanuts, and the chocolate sauce for sundaes.
  8. You won’t find a single parenting expert who endorses using bribery to convince a kid to eat.
  9. You won’t find a single parenting expert, who is a parent, who hasn’t used bribery to convince her kid to eat.
  10. Food eaten on sticks has a 40% higher rate of consumption with kids. Food served in conjunction with dips: 20%.
  11. Pop Tarts, Apple Jacks, Toast-R-Cakes, and other usually verboten breakfast foods possess nutritional merits when consumed on vacation.
  12. Everything tastes better on vacation. It just does.
  13. Anything braised tastes better the next day cold, eaten right out of its leftover dish with a fork, while standing in front of the refrigerator.
  14. Be wary of people who say they enjoy radishes dipped in salt.
  15. It’s practically the law that the phone call from the client  – the one you’ve been dying to check off your list all day — always comes five minutes before you are leaving the office to make it home in time for dinner. Don’t question it. Don’t fight it. Don’t try to control this phenomenon or — worse — allow it to control you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

when the wheels fall off

Last week was one of those weeks when I really should have followed my own advice.

For what ever long and varied bunch of reasons, I just didn't get around to doing a meal plan......and geeez, was I kicking myself by the end of the week!

Last week, of all weeks - two of the boys had NAPLAN tests, there where multiple sports training sessions, not to mention games (son #1 - we shall call him Sport'o Guy - is currently on two seperate rugby teams and plays soccer for his primary school) - oh, and of course band practice, home work...ummmm, what am I leaving out.....oh, work! thats right, I was trying to squeeze work in there too! One of the lovely people I work with broke her foot :( and has been on crutches, so I have doing alot more hours than I said, why universe, why, did I not meal-plan last week??

We managed to stumble through - endlessly thankful for the various meals stashed in the freezer, as well grabbing ingredients while on the run - the boys even got their all time f.a.v.o.u.r.i.t.e meal mid-week...the meal that has been dubbed Easy-Peasy.

Easy-Peasy consists of:

1 x tin of Baked Beans
1 x tin of Tinned Spaghetti
1 x serve of 6 egg Scrambled Eggs
Avocado (token veggie)

Needless to say, they don't get this nearly as often as they would like - and heres to getting the wheels firmly-back-in-place this week!