Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Morning kick-start

My name is Emma and I drink coffee.
This makes me the ying to Sarah's tea-drinking yang.
You need balance in the world, right?
Happy Tuesday!
xE

Monday, September 29, 2014

the days are a little slower.....

It's school holidays around these parts at the moment, and while that means that some of the days are a little slower, it does also require a few more circus skills (read: Juggling!) than normal.

The juggle of parents work schedules and kids holidays schedules can be a tricky one.

We managed to sneak in a few days away last week - with our boys, as well as my gorgeous sister-in-law, with her Hubby and kids. With 5 boys and 4 adults, a little bit of planning of the food front went a long way.

Tips are as normal - we had plenty of fruit on hand, as well ample drinks and I must say, I always find a good stash of nuts goes a long way to help with any random-nibble-requirements.

We had split the other staples between us and just kept dinner basic - BBQ fare with plenty of salad and fresh veggies.

Very happy to say that we nailed it with the provisioning and were left with barely a slice of bread or lonely celery stick - result! xE

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vagina Cookies?

Cruising the interwebby this morning, I came across a funny interesting article. 

Here - have a read..

I love that the teacher wanted to reward the kids, and that the parents get involved....but really???? Vagina cookies? I'm more of a cupcakes kinda gal when taking things in for the kids. Or even mini Milky Ways....

What do you think?

xS


New family members...

Meet Thelma, Louise and Laverne. Unfortunately Shirley became poorly and croaked (or clucked?!).


These girls belonged to friends who had to move and couldn't build them a new home. Luckily for us and for them we had a newly built and rarely used cubby house that the Husband happily converted to a lovely chicken palace.

These gals are amazing. They eat just about everything (except onions or chocolate, and who has leftover chocolate?). They are quite partial to bits of bacon or a little steak. Not to mention rice or spaghetti. Scraps from making the salad - to the chooks. Lunch that the fellas didn't eat because they "didn't have time" - to the chooks. Three day old pork roast that you can't bring yourself to eat or to  throw out - here chook.


The amount of rubbish that we are NOT throwing out is amazing. No more full red bin for us! 
Truly worth the noise they make in the morning! And the eggs...that's a whole other post!

Do you have chooks? Any tips for great eggs?

xS



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cheats cookies

Like all busy parents, sometimes I have to cheat a little in order to get some treats out there that have at least a hint of nutrition.

On my weekly crazed dash stroll through the supermarket I discoverated (yes yes, still a word!) a packet cookie mix that had NO NUMBERS on the ingredients list. Totes amazeballs right?

So when I got the packet home and started to make these delicious morsels, I decided to add some more sultanas (for extra goodness) and some chocolate chips (for that special treat).

Awesome! They rocked and I felt all wholesome making them. Go me.

Can you recommend any good 'cheat' ideas for snacks and treats?

xS

**this is not a sponsored post however if the Wholeberry Folk would like to send me some more I'd gladly make them!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Inspiration

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to menu planning for the week ahead. I like to eat different things on a regular basis. I am not a steak on Wednesdays, chicken on Thursdays kinda gal. 

This makes the whole meal planning thing interesting, especially when I just can't be bothered. 

Thank goodness for my inspiration. I go to this shelf every week at shopping list / meal planning time. I have every Donna Hay magazine since she started, a selection of cookbooks from the likes of Jamie Oliver, Kylie Kwong, Antonio Carluccio and more, not to mention a folder of recipes that I have collected from cooking courses, friends and the internet.

This is not my entire collection either. The wonderful Husband cracked it one day and I had to do a major sort out (probably a wise thing to do as the shelf was literally groaning and bending under the weight of them all!). The rest of the books are stored on a bookshelf in a room under the house. Poor books. A friend of mine tried to convince me to throw a stack of my mags out, due to the wonders of the internet and its ability to give you any recipe you want! I couldn't do it. I love nothing more than sitting at the table with a cup of tea and plucking random books and magazines from the shelf and leafing through for ideas.

Right. Time to get planning!

What do you use for inspiration?

xS



Friday, September 19, 2014

Lunchbox love

Lunch box humour - dad style.
Happy Friday everyone - here's to the weekend!
xE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

pinterest

I have been on pinterest for a while now and find it a great place for recipe inspiration.

I love being able to collate a variety of recipes in one place (it's a little bit like being able to put together your own personal cook book!) and enjoy being able to see the eb and flow of the seasons, as they are played out by my pins - stews and braises in the winter months, through to salads in summer (and hmmmm, cocktails, whatever the time of year!)

My FOOD LOVE board is slowly building and is becoming my first go-to place when I am stuck for ideas.

Here is my favouite food pin at the moment, can't wait to give this one a try!

xE

Monday, September 15, 2014

love a quickie

Life has been F.L.A.T. S.T.I.C.K. around here lately - a ton of zigging and zagging, kids, work, family, friends - you name it, it's been happening.

At times like this - these sorts of little gems come into their own - they can be prepared ahead of time (or even frozen once assembled) and can be a quick lunch, a light dinner or a hearty afternoon tea ahead of sports training.

Served up with a "mandolin" salad (1 x carrot, 1 x zucchini, 1 x cucumber cut into fine match sticks on a mandolin, popped in a bowl, with a good blob of our go-to Japanese sesame dressing) and some tomato relish, they are unbeatable!

INGREDIENTS
Pork mince (aprox 400 grms)
1 x egg
Bread crumbs
Half an onion (finely diced and gently fried until soft and golden)
Fresh herbs
Puff Pastry
1 x egg extra (beaten - used to seal pasty seams and to egg wash sausage rolls once assembled)

METHOD
Pre-heat oven to 180c/200c
Lay out 2 sheets of frozen puff pasty on bench, to start to de-frost
Place mince, egg, bread crumbs, cooked onion and fresh herbs in a bowl and combine using hands.
Season with salt and paper (and a quick squirt of tomato sauce doesn't hurt).
Cut the sheet of pastry down the middle so you have two long rectangle
Place mince length ways down each rectangle and roll - you should end up with a pasty seam overlap of about 1.5 cm.
Repeat until you have used all mince mixture/pasty pieces
Cut each "roll" into 4, lay on baking tray, lightly coat with egg wash
Bake in oven for aprox 25 minutes, or until golden and puffed

Enjoy!
xE






No buttermilk? No problems!


Just last week I was baking an extremely tasty looking chocolate cake, and the recipe required buttermilk. Wellthis isn’t an ingredient that I usually keep in the fridge, so the best solution was to make my own!  

Thirty seconds asking Mrs Google and I discoverated (yes, thats a word!) a substitute:
         1 cup milk
         juice of half a lemon
         Mix together and let sit for about 5 mins.

Done.

Do you have any sneaky tips like this? Please share! 


xS



Friday, September 12, 2014

Soups Yum!

Sydney weather has been rubbish lately, however that means that I can still get away with soup at least once a week for dinner. Not only can this be made in advance, but it is also great to take to work for lunch. Two birds, one stone...

Hellooooo Bean and Chorizo Soup!

This has the yummy smokey flavour of the chorizo combined with the warm vege goodness of any good soup. PLUS it takes only about 25 mins to cook from start to finish.




INGREDIENTS
1 x tablespoon olive oil
1 x chorizo chopped
1 x onion sliced
2 x clove garlic crushed
1 x carrot diced
2 x celery stalks diced
2 x teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
2 x tomatoes diced
1 x litre chicken stock
2 x 400g tins of beans rinsed and drained (preferably white beans such as cannellini – although I have made using 1 x tin cannellini and 1 x red kidney beans!)

METHOD
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish on medium heat. Add the chopped chorizo and cook for a few minutes until browned.

Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the pan and cook, stirring for about 7 minutes or until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with warm crusty bread.

Yum!

What's your go to soup?

xS

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mid week Celebration? Why not!

My mum is a great help to me now that I am working full time, and comes over every week to help wrangle the boys. She picks them up from school, helps with washing overload if there is any (ha! of course there is!), supervises homework etc..


This week she had a celebration - the foundation that she does some work with have recently attained some accreditation for something that took them ages and ages and hours of pouring over paperwork - a long hard slog for something worthwhile (ok - they were granted ‘approved organisation’ status by the Minister for Foreign Affairs which basically means that when people make a donation to JSF the donation is tax deductible)

She mentioned that she wished she'd been able to celebrate the good news with someone as she'd received the call over then phone when at home, and I just so happened to have a bottle of bubbles in the fridge..so..POP! Nothing like sipping down some ice cold bubbly mid week as a treat!


Have you had any good news recently?


xS









Monday, September 8, 2014

Flower Love

I love flowers. Who doesn't? However I am rarely given any and don't buy them for the house myself often enough. 


On the weekend the Husband was dispatched to the shops (it was a choice of stand by the sidelines in the cold or do the groceries!). When I returned from one successful game and one not so successful game, I was delighted to find a bunch of sunflowers ready to be put in a vase. I then went to our room and was even more delighted to find these gorgeous things addressed to me lying on my pillow.

Lucky me. He is learning!


xS







Sunday, September 7, 2014

Breakfast Muffins

We have a new cook in our canteen at work, so I am getting to try all kinds of new and tasty things. Last week he had some breakfast muffins with the goodness of egg, bacon and baby spinach. Perfect for school lunchboxes. Easily frozen, and even reheated in the microwave for a breakfast on the run (such as the days when we have to be at school by 7.45am for band practice!). 

So, of course, I asked for the recipe. Due to the nature of bulk baking, it had some quantities such as 1kg of flour and other parts of the recipe had zero quantities - such as just "eggs". Hmmmm….so, today I got baking. Thought I'd do a bit of trial and error. Its really good to make this on a Sunday after you have had a big breakky, as it uses already cooked eggs and bacon!


And it worked! Hooray! 


Here is my version (makes about 15 muffins):

INGREDIENTS

3 cups SR flour
4 eggs - lightly whisked
6 shortcut rashers of bacon chopped (use 1 x small packet from the supermarket)
Large handful of baby spinach roughly chopped
1 ½  cups grated cheese (mix of Parmesan and mozzarella or plain old cheddar)
salt & pepper
2 cups milk

METHOD Heat oven to 180 degrees.

Cook the bacon for about 10 mins until cooked. Add the spinach at the end and stir for a couple of minutes until it has wilted.


Put flour, cheese, salt & pepper, scrambled egg and bacon & spinach in a large bowl. Add the milk and stir until just combined.


Fill muffin tins that have been lined with cases with large dollops of the mix - ensuring each muffin hole is full.


Bake for abut 25mins or until browned on top.


Yum. I dare you not to gobble one straight from the oven!


Do you have a quick and easy recipe for breakfast on the run?





Friday, September 5, 2014

the best gnocchi recipe in the world

This is best and the easiest gnocchi recipe we have come across. The kids love getting involved and the pieces of gnocchi are beautifully light and fluffy.

Tonight, we will be serving it with a variety of sauces & toppings - roast tomato pesto, fresh basil & toasted pine nuts, chilli flakes, parmesan - it's a mix & match kind of vibe.

We originally found this recipe in Gourmet Traveller, but there are a bunch of variations out there. This is what we have found to work really well:

INGREDIENTS
1 egg
500g (Firm) Ricotta
60g freshly grated parmesan ( a good handful)
150g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
Nutmeg (optional)

METHOD
Lightly beat egg
Combine Ricotta, Parmesan and egg in a bowl
Gently mix in flour, until mixture is just coming together
Turn out onto floured surface and lightly knead until dough comes together
Cut dough into quarters and then roll each into long "sausages"
With a sharp knife, cut into small "dumplings"
Cook quickly in batches, in boiling water - cooked gnocchi will rise to the surface
Eat immediately with topping of your choice!

Recipe variations:
Fresh herbs, chilli or spinach can by added to the dough when coming ricotta mixture with flour.

Can't wait for tonight!
xE



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dinner time bingo

So - this is how is goes down here at dinner time (far more often than I would like to admit)...

please sit down
yes.....sit down
um, excuse me, you have cutlery, can you use it please?
yes, you can have a drink, once you have eaten some dinner
please sit down, don't eat standing up
ok, so, you have a mouth full, please chew everything up before you talk
the stool, yes? please don't swing on it, just sit
remember...yes.....cutlery?
if you are still eating, sit.....on your bottom......on the chair

No kid - dead set - just about e.v.e.r.y n.i.g.h.t
(and yes, when I get to the fifth "sit down", I have been known to jump up with a hearty "BINGO!)

xE

Monday, September 1, 2014

meal planning a'go go


It's Monday (welcome to the week!), and around here, Monday means meal planning.

This week looks a little like this:

Monday:
Chicken & Cashew nut Stir Fry
(this is a Kylie Kwong recipe from her SIMPLE CHINESE book and is the single best recipe for turning round any cucumber doubters out there!)

Tuesday:
Spinach Pie
I use Stephanie Alexanders receipe - it's fail proof

Wednesday:
Pumpkin Soup
(A long time favourite round here!)

Thursday:
Pork Fillet with crunchy salad

Friday:
Italian Night!
For this, we will be making the . worlds . easiest . and . tastiest . gnocchi  - bring on friday!

xE