Friday, October 31, 2014

Jack O'Melon

One of my son's has a birthday at the tale end of October.

Last year, my Father gave that particular son a whole watermelon for his birthday. I (still!) have no idea how a whole watermelon made it onto the the six-turning-seven-year old's birthday list last year, as that information was deemed "classified grand-father business" by my Dad.

Anyhoo, thus, we found ourselves with a whole watermelon.....which, in all honesty, is quite a.l.o.t. of watermelon.

So we did this - a Jack O'Melon! (if only we knew about the pineapple option, we could have done full fruity display!)

Gave all the Trick-or-Treaters a bit of giggle - Happy Halloween!

xE

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lunch for Dinner


As the evenings get slowly longer and warmer, the dinner options shift a little.

Your classic Steak Sandwich has been popular around here lately and it is a pretty simple, no fuss dinner (and has a pretty low dishes/pots/mess factor - not quite your one-pot-wonder, but not far off).

Thin minute steak (or schnitzel cut beef), caramelised onion, bacon, tomato and greens, all on soft bread, with mustard and a touch of mayo....goes down a treat!

xE


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

easy peasy pouch update


A couple of weeks back I posted about these nifty little pouches by Easy Peasy Pouches.

Well, let me report, in short, they are a H.I.T.

The boys have been love love loving their smoothies.

Even better, they are bringing the pouches home (I had been concerned about the "I have no idea where it went, it was right here, it must have fallen out of my bag" factor!).

The seven year old even took a green smoothie to school last week. Wow.

xE


(ps: wondering what those other things are in my freezer drawer? another super good lunch box tip - I blogged about it here)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Speck makes everything better


Just sayin.......

Life is better fried.
Life is better with speck.

Happy Tuesday
xE

Monday, October 27, 2014

Breakfast love

I am a big fan of breakfast. I am not one of the these have-a-cup-of-coffee-and-I'm-off kind of people - I need to have something to kick start my day, and usually that means something warm.

I guess I got into the habit of this when the boys were small (at pre-school kind of small, not teeny baby kind of small). As H was out the door on any given work day by around 7am, I was on deck, front & centre from pretty much the point when I opened my eyes of a morning.

When the cranky mornings, peppered with 8:30am pre-schooler melt downs were starting to feel like one endless groundhog day, I decided I needed to look at what we were doing, morning-routine-wise and work out what could shift.

Cereal had been quite a big part of the morning meal options, particularly with the kids learning how to "make their own" and I had rolled with it. They loved making their own bowls of muesli / weetbix / just right but as I started to look at our "patterns" a bit more, I realised there were less meltdowns on the morning when we did something like porridge, or eggs.

I am totally not going to evangelise down the there-is-sugar-in-cereal-and-sugar-makes-them-burko path, I just observed over the years that things move along more smoothly when a little less processed-and-in-a-box, and a little more baked-beans-or-scrambled-eggs-on-toast is involved.

So, on any given week, our morning options might look a little like this...

Mushrooms on Toast
Boiled Eggs and Soldiers
Bacon and Scrambled Egg wraps
Porridge
Omelette's
Baked Beans on Toast

xE



Friday, October 24, 2014

Burmese cooking goodness

My sister in law lives in Yangon. She and my brother in law moved back there about two years ago with their little one to take advantage of the opportunities presenting itself in that area. Phyo has a column in the Myanmar Times and makes some amazing fusion recipes. She is an amazing cook and the mother of the cutest little 3 year old (we miss you!)

One of the latest recipes that she has posted is a green chicken curry with snow peas. I think you could add other veges in here to beef up the goodness. Cant wait to try it...I think its a definite on next weeks menu plan.

Check it out!

http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/lifestyle/dining/11599-new-ways-to-enjoy-green-curry.html







Thursday, October 23, 2014

Delicious badness!

A while ago a friend I discovered the BEST. EVER. but oh so naughty treaty snack.

Charcoal salt mixed with Lurpak butter spread on baguette. YUMMM. Party in your mouth!

That is all.

xS


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Best. Food. Ever....well one of them

Its coming into Summer. Bring it on.Warmth, sunshine, BBQ's, picnics, kids in the pool and friends together.

We recently had our first really warm weekend. We invited a couple of friends over to relax in the sun with us. I did a slow cooked lamb on the BBQ, but they brought over the best. Some super fresh oysters and prawns. So simple. So delicious. No need to do anything but serve up with lemon wedges and a quick home made seafood sauce.


Seafood Sauce
2 large dollops whole egg mayonnaise
a squeeze of tomato sauce (about half the amount of mayo)
about a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
Mix and enjoy

xS


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hallo..what?

We don't really do Halloween here in Australia. Not like they do in the US. Although the idea of asking strangers for lollies doesn't quite gel with me I do like an opportunity to dress up...so why not.

I've never done the house decorating thing myself, but some houses in our area really go to town. I've thought about the pumpkin carving thing but for some reason the cost of a whole pumpkin seems to quadruple around this time of year.

So I found this. What a top idea.

I'll let you know how I go!

xS






Monday, October 20, 2014

What's a Mug Cake you ask...

Yes. Your heard it. A mug cake. A tiny cake cooked in a mug in the microwave. YUM. 

Ive seen a few recipes and recipe books on these little gems recently and remembered a recipe that a friend had sent me. This makes two mugs (great if you have two kids, or even one child and a chocoholic husband!). 

I have to say it worked a treat, didn't explode in the microwave and got the thumbs up from the household!

Ingredients
(you need to split this into two mugs!)
4 tablespoons of self raising flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons Nutella
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable or rice bran oil
1 egg (to split you beat into a bowl then pour half/half into mugs)

Method
Combine all the ingredients (don't be tempted to use in one large mug!) into two mugs. Beat together with a fork until all combined and fairly smooth.
Cook in microwave for about 1min15sec. This will depend on your microwave but start with a minute if you are worried!
Your cake will rise to the top of the mug but drop as soon as it comes out.
Top with ice cream or double cream!
YUM!

xS





Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yummy boy made pasta

One of my recent recipes for the week was for home made tortellini. I adapted a recipe  from the fabulous Donna Hay's latest issue (77)for a pea pesto and goat's cheese ravioli. 

My wonderful son number 1 was more than happy to assist with the video of how to make the actual pasta! 

Happy viewing and happy cooking!

INGREDIENTS
100g goats cheese
250g fresh ricotta
1 packet store bough round gow gee wrappers
8 slices proscuitto
50g butter
sploosh extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 cups frozen peas
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
salt & pepper
1/2 cup white wine
grated fresh parmesan
pea pesto
1 1/2 cups frozen peas - thawed
bunch basil leaves
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
glug extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

METHOD
Firstly make the pea pesto. Place all ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until mostly smooth. Transfer this to a bowl and add goats cheese & ricotta. Mix together until well combined. Place a heaped teaspoon onto the centre of a gow gee wrapper (see video!) then fold.
Heat a non stick frying pan over medium heat and cook the pancetta until nice and crispy. Set aside on paper towel to drain a little. Melt the butter and add olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic and good gently until starting to go golden. Add the peas, lemon rind, wine, salt & pepper and mix. Lightly crush the peas under a wooden spoon whilst stirring. 
Whilst this is cooking, boil a large saucepan of salted water. Cook the tortellini for about 3 minutes or until it has risen to the top of the boiling water. Remove carefully and drain.  Divide the pasta between bowls and top with the pea mixture. Serve with freshly grated parmesan & proscuitto.

YUMMO!

Check out his cleverness here:






Friday, October 17, 2014

17 - it's the magic number


Mentors come in many guises, and staying open to finding Mentors in all the various different paths and "tribes" that make up your life can be very handy. From the paths of your professional, social or home lives, the tribes you gather around you from your life-before-kids, your life-after-kids and your life-when-the-kids-are-at school.......Mentors can be found in every pocket and fold of the circles life forms around you.

One of my mentors is a gorgeous, gorgeous lady and she too, is the the mother of three boys. Her youngest is the age of my eldest, so she has been, in many ways, my "rock" of advice and guidance as my boys have navigated their school years.

One of the earliest tips was....you guessed it....meal planning. But not just that, she said that 17 was the magic number. 17 is the number of meals you need so you can rotate a meal plan, without getting into a "Soup on Monday, Chicken on Tuesday....." rut.

She also admitted that she doesn't always stick to it, but that she found it very helpful if she could see that the family was heading into a particularly busy stretch and she knew she was going to have everything running very well!

What would your list of 17 look like? When she first told me 17, I thought "Man, I don't think I even KNOW 17 different dinners".....well, now, years down the track, our list of 17 looks a little like this:

Homemade (HM) Sausage rolls with salad
Zucchini fritters with Haloumi and Corn-on-the-cob
Tomato Soup with boiled egg & chunky croutons
Pork lemon tomato Braise with cous cous
Homemade Pizza
Spaghetti Bolognese
Spanakopita
Kylie Kwong Chicken & Cucumber Stir fry
Nachos
Fish Pho Boys
Satay Chicken Skewers
Easy Peasy (More on this one later!)
Lemonie sliced steak with potato bake & salad
Gnocchi with pesto
Crunchy Chicken
Homemade Sushi Rolls with dumplings
Fish cakes

Just remember, 17 - it's the magic number!
xE

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tomato soup - with a simple twist


My boys have always been a little hit & miss with "Soup" as a meal. Pumpkin soup used to be the only one they would happily eat and it has been a major task to expand their soup horizons in any other direction. You name it, I can pretty much guarantee we have tried it.

Something that has become a firm favourite over the years though, is home made Tomato soup. Hayden grew up with a family tradition of placing a sliced-in-half boiled egg in Tomato soup (which was very much a N.E.W. idea to me) but I must say, it rounds the meal out perfectly.

Simple and quick, it is a great mid-week or it's-sunday-and-wow-am-i-over-cooking Dinner.

Home made Tomato Soup - MacKellar Method
Recipe (to serve 4) as follows:
2 x tins Crushed Tomatoes
Half an onion, diced
1 x stick of Celery, diced
1 to 2 cloves of Garlic
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup of Chicken or Vegetable stock (depending on preference)
1 x boiled egg per person

* Warm a good glug of olive oil and small knob of butter in a saucepan
* Soften onion, garlic and celery in oil/butter
* Add tins of tomato and stock
* Bring to boil and then turning temperature down, simmer gently for 10-15 mins.
* Season to taste and depending on preference, you can with blend or leave the soup with a chunkier consistency.

Serve with sliced boiled egg, grated Parmesan (or cheese of choice) and chunky-style toasted croutons.

Options/Variations:
Add some chilli flakes
Bacon goes very nicely, thank you very much (hello fellow bacon lovers!)
A little bit of cream
Baby basil leaves sprinkled on top

Enjoy!
xE



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

hey there, lets get social!


Did you know that Alphabet Soup is also on Instagram and FaceBook?

We would love you to check us out and follow along :)

Check out our Instagram feed and FaceBook, we'd love to get to know you!

xE


the.best.lunchbox.idea.....ever!


Stop the presses!

I have just discovered these fantastic little pouches and let me tell you, they are dead set one of the best lunch box helpers e.v.e.r!

New-to-me, Easy Peasy Pouches hit the market earlier this year and are the brain-child of Sydney Northern Beaches mum Carly Howarth. I discovered them while fussing around on Instragram one night and found the on-line ordering and delivery to be smooth & speedy.

I have been making smoothies for the boys, freezing them and popping them in their lunch boxes. They replace the need for a freezer pack and have been a great way to get a bit of variety into the lunch-box routine. And even better, they have been met with a major thumbs-up from all three boys.

The pouches are re-usable and can go in the freezer, as well as being dish-washer safer. Carly has some great ideas (and recipes) on her instagram feed, as well as the web site. Check them out!

xE


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Words to live by

Life with kids & family & work can get hectic.
It's very easy to feel the pull of the undertow and find it hard to grab those little moments (the little ones that need to be held onto tight).
Those moments that let you feel the lightness and enjoy the moment.
It's a sign - if you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.
xE

Monday, October 13, 2014

sunday routine

One of the key things I have made into a bit of a habit (as I know S has, and I am dead-set sure that we are not alone in this!) is to spend sometime on a Sunday, getting ready for the week ahead. A small amount of time spent on Sunday can help make the week run just that little extra bit more smoothly!

Part of the process for me usually involves a large dish of baked veggies. which then go on to be the basis of most of my weekly lunches.

Chopping up everything from Potato, sweet potato, carrot, adding in leek, cauliflower, onion - basically whatever is in the fridge, or was looking good at the markets - a good swissle of olive oil, herbs, seasoning, and a knob or two of butter and topping everything off with stock (enough to fill the baking dish by about two thirds) and placing into a pre-heated oven at about 180 - you are well on your way to baked veggie goodness!

Allow to bake long enough to cook down most of the stock and for the veggies to start getting golden on top.

Sometimes I then top the baked veggies with cooked cous cous or quinoa, that soak up any remaining stock. Pop it in the fridge and lunch is good.to.go!

xE

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Mojito anyone?

I have just come back from a weekend away with the girls. Apart from gallons the odd glass of bubbles, one drink I discovered on Pinterest is the Apple Mojito. I have tweaked the recipe a bit, but it rocks.

Yum.

Fresh, tasty, and HAS to be good for you with all that mint and apple juice right?


Apple Mojito

Ingredients (makes a small jug)
3 cups apple juice
1/4 bunch mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
200ml vodka
juice of 1 lime
250 ml mineral/soda water
ice

Method
Put the apple juice into a saucepan and simmer on medium heat until reduced by half (about 20mins or so). Allow to cool.
Put the mint leaves and sugar into a jug and "muddle" - well bash together, not too vigorously, with the end of a wooden spoon. Add the lime juice, reduced apple juice, vodka, fizzy water and ice. Mix together and taste. Add more lime or soda to taste.

Enjoy!

xS
thank you lovely people for your recipe and pic!



Friday, October 10, 2014

Bwwaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkk!

That must be the noise one of my chooks makes when laying these whoppers. 


Yes. That is an 88g egg. No wonder she is so noisy in the morning! Must be all the lovely scraps that they are getting. We are managing two eggs a day at the moment from the three girls. Its so nice to go out and get them in the mornings...lovely and warm from where maybe Thelma has been sitting on them!

Oh boy do they taste nice too.

xS

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jammy Muffins

Many many moons ago (like about 12 years or more) Em and I decided to start up a small catering business to keep us 'busy' while we had our kids (being first time mums I don't think we realised how busy we could be with a baby!).E's little one was about 17 months old and I had about a month to go until my first was born when we started planning. 

Great timing huh?

Our first 'customer' was a local personal training studio and we provided healthy and low fat muffins and soups for them to sell to their clients. We used to substitute things such as apple sauce for butter and lower the sugar content. One of the favourite's was a jam filled muffin. 

I have tweaked this recipe a bit over the years to make it a great one to put in the kids lunch boxes - its healthy but the yummy jammy centre makes it seem like much more of a treat than it actually is!

What's your have lunchbox treat?



INGREDIENTS
2 cups of plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
125g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
jam of your choice
fresh (or frozen) berries of your choice

METHOD
Fill muffin tin with paper cases. Preheat the oven to 180degrees C. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl then mix in sugar. In another bowl beat the eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla until combined. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (mix will look a little lumpy). 

Dollop a dessertspoon of batter into the muffin cases. Using the back of a teaspoon make little dents in the batter. Add about half a teaspoon of jam into the dents and then the berries, pressing the berries in a little. Top with the remaining batter, each muffin case will be almost full.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy lovely and warm from the oven or room temperature. To freeze, wrap each cooled ,muffin well in cling wrap then foil. Great on a summers day to pop into the lunchbox straight from the freezer...it will be thawed by recess!

Enjoy!

xS

Whats for dinner?

I get asked this question my Mr B every day, the very moment I pick him up from school. Every. Single. Day.

I do have the weekly menu written up on the chalkboard on our fridge for him to look at whenever we are at home, and we only so occasionally veer off course, so it gets kinda frustrating. No "how was your day mum" or "I had a great day at school, I love you mum, thanks for giving me life " (ha ha).

I now ignore him change the conversation until we get home whereby I then point him towards the fridge.

This was last weeks menu.

How many times a day do you get asked questions like these?

xS





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bad mummy..forgetful mummy!

I used to be a list person. Lists for everything. Shopping lists, packing lists, lunch lists, whats coming up this week lists. It made life so much easier and organised. Now that I am back to work full time, I seem to have lost my list habit. I think I need to get back into it again.

First day back at school today. As we get out of the car J saw some kids in his year in sports uniform (he was NOT wearing sports uniform). I frantically looked up the last newsletter on my phone. Whoops. Turns out they have swimming today. Oh well.

Ooops. Bad mummy. Didn't remember to put that one on the calendar! 

xS






Lunch time!

This is my lunch today. Summer is on its way and its time to shake the winter layers (flab not just clothes!). 

I have found the yummiest hot smoked salmon that goes perfectly with avo, boiled egg, lettuce and tomato drizzled in balsamic vinegar. Sounds boring but its fantastic! Healthy and yummy lunch.

Whats your go to health and delicious meal?

x S

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sundays - this is how we roll

Some Sundays I feel quite inspired to get ahead in the cooking/baking for the week. Saying that, some Sundays I feel like doing diddly squat (and often do!).

This weekend I was feeling particularly enthused, partially to do with the fact that I had the house to myself for a few hours. I knocked up a muesli slice, some Thai pumpkin Soup, some Jammy muffins and the boys helped by making some dumplings that we were going to have for dinner that night (so easy...will post recipe later!).

Now, the soup was a tricky one. My youngest is NOT a liker of pumpkin. Its the only thing he absolutely doesn't like. A couple of years ago I realised that it wasn't just him trying to exercise his will....we ordered pumpkin soup at a hotel we were in, told him it was carrot....and he gagged. Almost lost it all over the lovely hotel bed. Hmm.. Must have been that nasty chef getting it wrong!

Anyway, I am a fan of trying to get the boys to try things again that they haven't liked (or said that it wasn't their "cup of tea"!) in the past. Taste buds change, our palate changes..blah blah blah.

I was impressed today. Got him to try my "Thai Soup" (notice I didn't mention the "P" word!). Asked for his comments ...."hmm...its not bad mum, quite nice". Ta daaaaa!!! Pumpkin is back on the menu people! Well...maybe.

Still haven't told him its pumpkin yet though....

What do you do to hide things in your kids food?

Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe - my version of.

INGREDIENTS
Rice bran oil (or olive oil)
1 onion
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/2 bunch coriander - stems chopped, leaves left to the side & chopped
3/4 Kent (or any type) pumpkin - seeds and skin removed and chopped into large chunks
water
1 vegetable stock cube
1/2 tin coconut cream
1 tablespoon fish sauce

METHOD
Heat up a large saucepan with a splash of the oil on medium heat. Roughly chop the onion. Add the onion to the pan and stir. Once starting to soften (about 10 mins) add the ginger and the curry paste. Stir for a few minutes until the paste is starting to release its lovely fragrance.
Throw the pumpkin, coriander and stock cube into the pot, stir to mix all together then add enough water to cover the pumpkin. Simmer until the pumpkin is soft and falling apart.
Blitz the soup until all combined with a hand blender. Add the coconut cream and fish sauce and stir, letting it simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the coriander leaves and stir.

Feel free to serve at once, with some packet roti or naan bread, or freeze for later.

Enjoy!

xS


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Little redecorating?

Now that son number 1 is about to enter his teens, I wanted to give his bedroom a bit of an upgrade. One that took him away from that "kiddy" feel to a more boy look without the dollars and within the confines of us living in a rental.

Hellooo Pinterest....have started this board for inspiration.

Do you have any ideas to redecorate on a budget?

xS



Friday, October 3, 2014

if i had a dollar for every time.........

I don't know about your kids, but wow....around here these days..........hello eating machines!

When the boys were little, if I had a dollar for everytime, upon learning that I had three boys, people would immediately launch into tales of the food-agedon that was to come, I would be able to feed them on fillet steak every night! I would be regaled with stories of boys eating entire loaves of bread in one sitting, packets of pasta would be gone in a flash, no bag of corn chips was safe!

And I while I stood, and nodded politely.....I though to myself "surely it can't be quite like that......" well, I can report peeps, that yes, all of those people were right.....totally, completely, entirely right.

While we aren't quite at the stage of needing 5 loaves of bread to get us through the week, and an afternoon tea of yogurt & fruit will still hit the spot, I am noticing that increasingly, I am needing more fruit....and more yogurt to fill the gap........I am starting to think that we aren't far off food-agedon!

Happy Friday everyone xE

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Freezer suprise!

wow - you know those sundays that just kind of....creep up on you.....and suddenly it's 5:21pm and you realise, as if it's just struck you for the first time ever "oh man, thats right, I am going to have to feed everyone......and soon!).

this is where "freezer surprise" comes in.

yes that's right - freezer surprise.

Freezer Surprise is basically anything you have in the freezer....mini party pies? pizza? dumplings?
See, it can pay to have a small stash of (as-healthy-as-possible!) go-to meals that can be prepared quick smart, add a plate of chopped up veggies, or a quick salad - and surprise! dinner is ready!

xE

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

get beats got

While driving around of an afternoon recently, I happened upon a fantastic talk on the radio regarding using the word "get, instead of the word "got".

I get to pick up the kids from school, rather than I've got to pick up the kids from school.
I get to go to work today, instead of I've got to go to work today.

and even one for the kids...
I get to do homework, not I've got to do homework

It's amazing how such a small word-tweak, can completely turn on it's head the way you approach something.

Very fortuitously, I had son-number-one in the car at the time, as he was on the way to do his weekly paper round. He had not been feeling the love for his paper-run that afternoon, he was tired and wanted to spent the afternoon flopping about.

We ended up having a really good conversation about using get instead of got and he turned his thinking around, realising how lucky he was to be able to have his paper round, to earn a bit of money each week....that that opportunity was something that was open to him....an opportunity that many kids, all over the world, don't have.

I have to say.....it's my current favourite thing.....give it a go.....choose get, instead of got.

xE