Monday, December 20, 2010

Dip recipes

Here are some of my favourite dips that are so easy to make:-

French Onion Dip
Mix together 1/4 sachet of french onion soup mix and one 300 gram carton of sour cream. Refrigerate for a few hours prior to serving.

Corn Relish Dip
Mix together one jar of corn relish and one 300 gram carton of sour cream. Refrigerate.

Feta Cheese and Sundried Tomato Dip
In the food processor, blend some sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and feta cheese together. Drizzle in a little lemon juice. Should come out a lovely orange colour. If you are not a fan of feta cheese (hubby dislikes it immensely), you could use cream cheese instead.

Note: You can vary the French Onion dip by adding in a little blue cheese.
Add onion flakes/finely diced cooked onion to the Feta Cheese dip.

I added a little bacon to my feta and sundried tomato dip. Was VERY nice!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lolly Boxes - Great Christmas Presents to make

To make this lolly box you will need:-

  1. A box/basket
  2. Oasis (grey is better for dry arrangements, but green will work fine for this one).
  3. Assorted lollies (licorice allsorts, candy canes, jelly beans, fruit rings etc)
  4. Wooden skewers
  5. Plastic wrap (cling wrap/glad wrap etc)
  6. Secateurs
  7. Tinsel
  8. Christmas pick

Step 1: Prep your box.

Cut your oasis to fit snugly inside your box. I find it easier to use the box as a 'cookie cutter' and get the size that way.Step 2: Cover the oasis with a little bit of tinsel (to hide the oasis) and put your Christmas pick in the centre.

Step 3: Cut your skewers in half.

Step 4: Lolly time! Make sure you have all your lollies around you as it makes this project much easier (and you have to taste test a couple to ensure your gift recipient isn't getting poisoned lollies!)

Step 5: Cut your glad/cling wrap to size. I use a massive heavy duty roll of cling wrap that lasts me at least 5 years (in the kitchen generally), but any one will do the trick

Step 6: Lolly flowers. To make a 'jelly bean fruit ring flower', you need to skewer 3/4 way through one jelly bean.

Add a fruit ring...

Cover in plastic wrap...

Ta daaaaaaah!

Hint: If you wrap the plastic wrap over the top of the lolly then wind it down the skewer as tightly as you can, it will stay on better. Kind of like florists green tape.  Each lolly you use needs to be wrapped this way.

The end result:

You could wrap the whole thing up in cellophane if you wanted to. I do for ease of transporting it as presents for teachers at school. They look great just as they are, and usually take about 20-30 mins for a box this size.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New 'pinching pennies' site I found

I was looking for something and stumbled across this great site that has some fantastic ideas for home-made prezzies around Christmas time. Just so I could find it again, I thought I'd put the info up here:

I especially love the bath crystal sundaes!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lunch Box Rules

I was given a handy little piece of advice not so long ago about what to put in lunch boxes.

Firstly, I have to say that my children aren't particularly fussy eaters. They will generally eat anything put in front of them at home, will happily try new things and even go so far as to assist me in cooking at home, and suggesting healthy meals for dinner.

My problem is that foods they absolutely love eating at home don't always go down so well in their lunchboxes. Sandwiches for example. Perhaps my children have developed such a keenness of taste that they can only eat fresh sandwiches. Either way, they refuse point blank to eat sandwiches at school however will scoff them down at home.

I have had to come up with varied ways of tantalising their tummies lunch box style.

The lunch box rule is:-

1 fruit, 1 sweet treat, 1 savoury treat and one 'big lunch' item.

The fruit part is easy. My kids have to take crunch 'n sip to school. It's a Government incentive to give kids a 5 minute breather around 10am so they can get some fruit into them and some water. Apparently it rejuvenates them. Teachers have told me it really does work, and they also have a piece of fruit in the classroom and read the kids a book at the same time. They say their classrooms just work so much better with that short break. I also usually give my kids an extra piece of fruit for their little or big lunch (their choice) or a dairy item like yoghurt or cheese.

Sweet. That can be anything from muffins to cookies/biscuits, slices, cakes, fruit bread, scones, pikelets etc.

Savoury can be chips, popcorn, crackers and cheese, rice crackers, savoury scones, cheese sticks etc.

Big Lunch could be a sandwich, wrap, savoury muffin, pinwheel, crackers and cheese and olives, quiches, home made pies, pasties, cold slices of pizza, sausages and bread, foccaccia, damper/mini dampers, bread sushi sandwiches or 'normal' sushi, boiled eggs, antipasto (cheese cubes, ham, pineapple, cherry tomatoes etc), caesar salad, garden salad, cheese scrolls, puff pastry with ham, tomato and cheese baked or dates/celery with cream cheese, cooked pasta with tuna and cheese, tuna pasta with corn and mayonnaise etc.

Some things take a little prep work, but when I thought about it, I realised that I have taught my kids to love food, varied food and of course they're not going to want the same thing every day. I know I certainly wouldn't.

They get to choose their sweet, savoury and fruit and I vary the Big Lunch every day. I make sure they know what must be eaten first (ie yoghurt and cheese generally doesn't like being left in a warm lunch box). I add those mini freezer blocks in if anything needs to be kept cold. Handy little gadgets around these days :)

I have cookie dough and mini muffins ready to go in the freezer for those days when I literally need to throw things in their lunchboxes if we're having a rare 'off' morning. Thankfully they come few and far between.

Here's to happy kids, empty lunch boxes and full tummies :D

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goodbye Mr Slug

I have recently had an invasion of the largest kind. Leopard slugs, they're called. Rotten things are annoying my pet rabbits and making a mess of my veggie patch. Now, according to some web sites, these slimy creatures don't eat your garden, instead they eat pet food and decaying plants. Well I can tell you, my plants didn't even have time to decay before the nasty slimy things started to eat my lettuces and silver beet.

I tried feeding them porridge oats. Made them get mighty fat. Read that oats should make them explode. Unfortunately I saw no sign of exploding slugs. That would have been a sight to behold though.

One night I went out and collected an entire ice cream container full of them. How gross is that!

So I decided that enough is enough. I'm not out there working my butt off in the hot sun just so some molluscs can have a party late at night. I blitzed them with slug/snail killer. Sprinkled some lovely green pellets around the veggie patch last night, and in the slugs favourite hang out, near the strawberries. Low and behold when I went out this morning, there was a pile of shrivelled up slugs.

And you know what? The slug/snail killer was cheaper than Vegemite.

No, this Vegemite:-
I don't drink beer, so I didn't want to make them a beer trap. Only sparrows around here anyway, and I don't mind if they eat poisoned slugs. The blue tongue lizards have all but been chased away by nearby dogs and cats :) I'd rather have the lizards and an intact garden but hey! What would I know.

Have you had slugs or snails in your garden?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

What do you have growing in your garden?
Jacki's sunflower

We're trying to establish some "eating plants". At least that is what my kids call them.

We have a lot of concrete, and are growing things mostly in pots.

We have some lettuce, spring onions and silverbeet seedlings coming up. Have to keep the giant slugs away from them though. Those slugs are gigantic, and it doesn't help when you have a daughter who loves to make them 'pets' and give them food and water. Just makes the rotten slugs more determined.

I have potatoes, sweet potatoes and an assortment of herbs growing. There are so many other things I could plant besides potatoes, but we use the ones that have gone soft and are starting to grow in my potato box (Phil made it for me), and the kids can't really go wrong planting potatoes. Keeps them busy and helps them understand where their food comes from.
We have silverbeet. I call it silverbeet because that's what it said on the packet, but I believe it's also the same thing as spinach? Or at least in the same family. The kids don't know it's a spinachy thing yet and are quite happily watering it and watching it grow :D

Minature beetroot in a pot

Strawberries are so easy to grow in the right position. We have chicken wire around our most prolific strawberries to keep the birds and blue tongue lizards away. Jacki picked all the red strawberries this morning, so here are some she is keeping her eye on.

I love to use fresh herbs in things, especially lots of fresh herb butter on turkish bread lightly grilled. The herbs we have growing in pots are oregano, basil, sage, mint, I think we have an apple mint but I have to check exactly what it is. It was given to us along with another herb I don't use which is probably in the aniseed family, but it's not dill and it's not a herb that my parents grew in their herb garden, so I don't recognise it.

I have two varieties of lavender growing along my retaining wall. I love lavender in the garden, but I don't use it to fragrance anything. I think I've been around lavender for too long and these days it reminds me of toilet air freshener (ewwwww). I much prefer the scent of Lillies and frangipanis.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New challenges for a New Year. Bring on 2010

I was a tad slack in typing up the monthly challenges I had in 2009.

My challenge for January 2010 is to de-clutter and to minimise household chaos.

I'm also going to renew my challenge last year of reading one chapter every night from the BOM. A yearly challenge that one. Successful so far. It's not a very tough challenge though (not as bad as the next one...)

Here's some ideas I found (on the Simple Savings website - see 'links') to de-clutter:-

A – architraves, archiving, address book, appliances, appointments
B – banisters, brooms, brushes, batteries, books, blinds, beach gear, belts
C – cornices, cook-books, coffee mug collection, candles, cushions, coasters
D – draught-stoppers, dishwasher filter, dust-buster, dress-ups, drinking glasses
E – eiderdowns, egg cups, emails, earrings, eye-glasses
F – filing, frames, fans, fridge shelves, footwear
G – garden tools, globes, games, glove-box
H – hats, hairdryers, hampers, hoses
I – iron cleaning, ice cube trays, invitations
J – jars, jelly moulds, jewellery, journals
K – key collections, knitting patterns, knick-knacks, keyboards, keyrings
L – laundry cupboard, linen, light-fittings, lampshades
M – moth balls, mouldy bits, moving furniture, make-up, medicines, maps, menus
N – necklaces, notices, naps in the afternoon
O – ornaments, open packets,
P – piles of paper, pens, piles of piles, purses, platters, pet stuff, peg basket,
Q – quilts, questions
R – Rsvp’s, recyclables, recipes, rugs, receipts
S – sewing supplies, skirting- boards, sports equipment, stamp collections, suitcases
T – telephones, trays, toys, tickets, toiletries, tax stuff
U – underwear, umbrellas, under anywhere, utensils
V – vases, vanity cases, Venetians, vegetable gardens, vinyl records
W – warranties, wallets, worm farms, wrapping paper
X – Xtra time for ourselves
Y – yards, yarns,
Z – Zzzzzzzzzzz ( napping, see N)

An entire alphabet dedicated to de-cluttering and cleaning. You tick off the things in the list you have sorted through, and decide whether or not to keep said items, clean them, find a home for them etc.

A motivational help to get me some organised chaos (except I'm having a break on Sunday):-

(Sung to the tune of A Partridge in A Pear Tree)

On Monday 4th of January, ClutterCath said to me:
One load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Tuesday 5th of January, ClutterCath said to me
Two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Wednesday 6th of January, ClutterCath said to me,
Three dusted shelves or cupboards, two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Thursday 7th of January ClutterCath said to me,
Four cleared surfaces, three dusted shelves or cupboards, two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Friday 8th of January ClutterCath said to me,
Five sparkly windows, four cleared surfaces, three dusted shelves or cupboards, two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Saturday 9th of January ClutterCath said to me,
Six things decluttered,. five sparkly windows, four cleared surfaces, three dusted shelves or cupboards, two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing will help you to have OC

On Sunday 10th of January ClutterCath said to me,
Seven new recipes, six things decluttered, five sparkly windows, four cleared surfaces, three dusted shelves or cupboards, two clean floors, and one load of washing and ironing …………and now you all have some OC!

Zucchini Slice

I know that Zucchinis will be out in full swing soon, and wanted to have this recipe to hand:-

Zucchini Slice

500 gms zucchini grated
1 onion
3 slices bacon, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup cheese, grated
½ cup oil
1 cup SR flour
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients together. Stir well. Place into deep flat pan. Cook in moderate oven for 35 mins.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What else to do with strawberries...


500g berries
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar

Hull berries and place in large dish with lemon juice. Cook on high for five minutes or until soft. Stir in sugar, cook on high 20 minutes. Stir after every five minutes to ensure sugar dissolves. Check on cold saucer to ensure it jells. Pour into hot jars, cover and seal.


2 punnets strawberries washed and hulled and sliced in half
1 cup raw sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Microwave strawberries in a tall sided m/wave safe bowl for 1 minute on 100%.
Stir in juice and sugar then microwave 100% for 10 minutes, check that it doesn't boil over (if it looks like it is going to, stop machine for a few seconds then continue) stirring every 2 minutes.
Cool then serve over icecream. Delicious!


Doughnut toast:-

2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60 mls milk
8 slices of bread (we like the thick toast kind)
oil for light pan frying
a flat plate with enough caster sugar to dip cooked bread onto

1. Beat eggs, milk and vanilla in a shallow, wide bowl.
2. Dip bread, both sides, into egg mixture.
3. Put bread straight into hot oil in pan. Fry until lightly golden and crunchy.
4. Dip cooked bread lightly in caster sugar.
5. Drain on absorbent paper.

You want to eat this drizzled with Strawberry Coulis:-

In your food processor blitz 1 punnet strawberries, about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a few tablespoons icing sugar until desired taste

Strawberry Pie

'Tis the season to be strawberried...

A friend gave me this recipe. My little peoples adore it:-

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 packet strawberry jelly
2 tablespoons corn flour
2 cups strawberries
1 baked pie crust pre-made (or pack of crushed biscuits - snap lock bag and whack with a rolling pin - with enough melted butter to hold together, pressed into pie plate)

1. Mix sugar and corn flour. Add water, bring to the boil and cook until clear and thick.
2. Add strawberry jelly and let cool.
3. Add fresh strawberries and mix (or place strawberries on pie crust and pour jelly mixture over top)
4. Refrigerate until set. Top with whipped cream.