Monday, 14 January 2013

Taking a Break

I have decided to take a break from blogging for a while, busy with work and my family (as you can probably gather from my lack of posting!). Will blog when I get the chance but it won't be regularly, got to focus on other aspects of life this year!
I am thoroughly enjoyed seeing my blog grow, and I love seeing that despite the fact I haven't blogged in far too long, that people are still coming and checking out my previous posts :) Warms my heart.
All the best to my readers for 2013, we are aiming for us to have one our best years yet, lets see if we can make it happen, and I hope you do too :)
Ta ta, for now... it won't be forever, it just won't be very frequent

Friday, 23 November 2012

Exploring Different Tools part 2

The other day I wanted to show the children the effects rain can have on waterfalls. We often go visit the local waterfall at Shakespear Park at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. It has been quite dry a lot of the times we go, so the waterfall can be a bit piddly. So we went and visited it the other day, after we had had some substantial rain. The walk was cool, we got to see some large Kereru (pigeons) in the trees. And the boys had a lot of fun throwing sticks into the water (boys aye! Even hubby enjoys doing that lol, I swear they never grow up).

When we got home, we decided to paint out own waterfalls. And to extend the whole painting with different tools thing, I sought out yet another tool to use - toothbrushes. One of the children discovered you could make different effects with the toothbrush by tapping it on to the page instead of scrubbing it.

Now, their waterfall paintings didn't look much like waterfalls being the kids are only 1 and 2, but I think they did a pretty good job! I had mixed together lots of different shades of blue, a touch of green and some white in there, and used blue paper for added effect ;)

Gala Time!

Our kids school gala is upon us this weekend. One of the stalls for my kids classes is the sweet stall (think fudges, truffles and coconut ice). So I have put my hand up to do a billion batches of coconut ice. I was given a recipe, that granted probably tastes better I am not sure (haven't had coconut ice in a LONG time myself), but was very time consuming and being a cooked recipe I couldn't guarantee it would turn out right! (I have limited success with fudges etc, but that was using my old stove which had some heat regulating issues I think! My new one should be better but I'm a little hesitant to use the members of public as guinea pigs so will save that for another day.

So yeah, as I was saying, I stumbled upon this recipe here which doesn't require cooking! I mean, it's SO quick and easy why WOULDN'T you volunteer to make it?

Well... it turned out quite well. Only hiccup was it was really hard to spread the pink layer on top of the white layer... by pushing it out, I ended up squashing the white layer really really flat, and the pink layer I couldn't manage to squish out to reach the edges! But never mind, I left it to set, and cut off all the excess around the edges (which I then scoffed more or less single handedly... I did share a teeny bit with the kids but it was just before their bedtime that I didn't want them to have tooooo much sugar...).

And it looked fine cut up. A bit flat, but that was my fault. Should have put it in a smaller tin, but I wasn't sure how much it would make (it didn't give any indication of what size tin! Silly recipe). I think double the recipe (make one batch white, then another batch pink) and put it in a standard sized slice tin, maybe a square cak tin, it would come out really good.

Coconut Ice - no cook easy version
Courtesy of
150 ml (half a tin) sweetened condensed milk
250 g icing sugar, sieved
175 g desiccated coconut
2 -5 drops red food colouring or 2 -5 drops pink food colouring
Make this recipe twice, one with colouring and one without.
Line a slice/cake tin with greased gladwrap (cling film).
When making the pink batch, add the food colouring to the condensed milk in a bowl. Otherwise for the white batch do nothing extra to the condensed milk. Then mix in the icing sugar and coconut until it's fully mixed and stiff.
Press one mixture into the pan gently then top and press with the other mixture.
Leave to set then cut into cubes or fingers with an oiled knife.
To store: wrap or layer with waxed or greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Exploring Different Tools

The kids have been right into painting lately. We get a bit bored of the same old paint and paintbrush thing, so we mix it up a bit. Sometimes we paint using water instead! The kids love that, they get to take the paintbrushes, the paint rollers, whatever really, and some water outside and let them go for it. They can "paint" anything they like with water, lately they have decided to paint the deck and railings for me as they need repainting haha. Sometimes we do pictures on the driveway. Good clean fun that keeps the littlies entertained for quite some time, and even the big kids quite like to see how big a picture they can draw before the sun erases it!

Thanks kids, I'm sure the water painted gate will do the trick.... hehe!

Or if we want to get a bit mucky, we get the actual paints out, but may use different tools to the usual paintbrushes. One we did recently was painting using cotton buds. Originally I had hoped they would be keen on finger painting. My own 2yo was very keen on the idea, he gives everything a go. But the other 2 I had with me that day were a bit more hesitant. I had no idea where the paintbrushes had last been stashed after the last bout of water painting (I dare say they are outside still! My big kids had a big water painting session after school one day and I often forget to remind them to put stuff away that they have taken outside). That made me have to be a bit more imaginative than I might have been feeling that day. But suddenly though about cotton buds. Pretty standard item in most peoples houses, and they make for pretty cool painting instruments.

Can create different effects to what you do with paint brushes, can make the paint swirl more etc. I also took the opportunity to shows the kids how mixing 2 colours together you can create a different one. Throw in a learning opportunity when ya can! And got some pretty pictures at the end of the day :)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bring a plate? No worries!

Lately there have been many times that I have had to bring a plate to various events, or having people over last minute and need something quick and easy to throw together. I try to also have some sheets of puff pastry in the freezer, as they are so handy! I have even thrown a variation of these together before kindy once when one of the kids had a shared lunch I had forgotten about (and I only have about an hour from waking to getting the kids out of the house in the mornings!).
Puff Pastry Pinwheels. They are YUM. My fave adult version using ingredients I always have on hand are Pizza Puff Pinwheels. I shall share with you the recipe below.
Pizza Puff Pinwheels
Puff Pastry Sheets (2 or 3 is a good amount)
Tomato Paste
Bacon (cooked first, brings out the flavour more) or Ham, or Salami
Grated Cheese
and optional - crushed pineapple
Thaw the pastry sheets (or heck if you are really clever, make your own... so far I'm not that clever.. actually, I've just never tried!)
Spread tomato paste over the entire surface. A good thick amount for flavour.
Layer on the bacon/ham/salami leaving about an inch gap at the top free. Repeat with the cheese (and pineapple if you are doing pineapple).
Then roll the pastry from the bottom to the top, trying to keep the rolls as tight as possible, using the tomato paste to help stick it together at the top. Slice thinly (about 1cm), lay flat on a baking tray and bake at approx 200*c for around 10 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through.
Vegemite and Cheese
Cheese and Onion
Jam with a sprinkling of Sugar
Cream Cheese and Herbs
Frankly, the list is endless with different variations you can try. The ones above are just ones I am more likely to throw together because of their quick and easy - and cheap - ingredients. If you Google I am sure a whole world of puff pinwheel recipes will be revealed!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Another recipe from the back of my cupboard

So I really couldn't be bothered baking last night but the kids had nothing yummy to put in their lunchboxes today (normally I at least have a box of muesli bars in the cupboard for when we run out of baking, but I forgot to buy some on my last supermarket trip!). So I had to force myself up and to do it, and I remembered I had not long ago bought a new slice tin (previously I have used various other non slice tins to bake slices in haha) so I decided I must make a slice. This is my favourite slice recipe I think, have been making it for a few years, grabbed it out of a magazine. It's easy and really yummy. Downside, I cannot stop eating it!
Oh, and as an aside - YAY I finally bought myself a new (second hand, because I keep breaking them) camera! Much easier to take pics and do blog posts now woohoo!

Chocolate Chip Slice
Courtesy of NZ Women's Weekly

125g butter (or dairy free alternative)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c choc chips

Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Mix in the flour, baking soda and chocolate chips until all combined.
Bake for 15mins at 180*c in a slice tin (I scrape the mixture into the dish, then using wet hands I flatten it and even it out).
Once cool, ice with chocolate icing (see below)

Choc Icing

2 cups icing sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa
25g butter / marg, melted
2-3 tsp hot water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with enough hot water to make a firm icing. Spread over cooled slice.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What to bring for morning tea?

Went to visit my friend the other day (well, the other week now, this blog post has been sitting in my drafts too long!) who had recently had a baby. I LOVE baby cuddles. Wanted to take something along for morning tea/lunch and it had to be dairy free both for her and two of my kids. And I just really didn't feel like making anything sweet. But grocery day was approaching (and I only shop fortnightly so by the end of the fortnight, supplies start dwindling), and I wasn't feeling very inspired. So I was flicking through my trusty old Watties cookbook and came across the recipe for sausage rolls. I had never made my own sausage rolls before. I do have a friend who regularly makes them, and I'm a sucker for them, but for some reason I just never made them myself.
I compared the recipe in that book to some more recipes I googled and decided I would keep it simple and use the recipe from the book - it doesn't contain breadcrumbs as fillers for starters, and I had all the ingredients on hand. If wanting to make them dairy free, make sure your pastry is dairy free. The Pams low-fat flaky puff pastry is, that is what I use.
And as per usual lately, the photo is crap - taken on my phone, and also just a quick snap before the last couple of sausage rolls were snapped up, but better than no photo right? Or is it? haha
Sausage Rolls
courtesy of Watties Kiwi Favourites Cookbook
3 sheets pre rolled flaky puff pastry
450g sausage meat
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 220*c
Cut each pastry sheet into 2 pieces
Place sausage meat in a bowl and mix together with the herbs and onion. Divide the sausage meat into 6 portions. Form each portion into a sausage shape and place on a piece of pastry.
Brush the edge of the pastry where it will join with beaten egg. Roll the pastry over to make a long roll. Cut into 5 sausage rolls and place fold-side down on a lined baking tray.
Make small cuts on the top of each sausage roll or prick with a fork, then brush tops with beaten egg.
Bake for 12-15mins or until cooked and golden.