Thursday, November 29, 2012

in the mail today

Look what arrived by courier post today. Some very cool stuff from Meghan from the M&Ms blog. I won a "caption this" competition. The photo was a very cool picture of Prince Charlie looking right at her Iphone while he was visiting Wellington recently. Very cool.

Check out her blog for tutorials on making the bath bombs and lip gloss. And the cinnamon stick candle is going to really make our house smell festive this Christmas.
The chocolates were delish and it was my first time trying a "salted caramel"...well anything!
This totally brightened up my day!
Thank you so much Meghan! And yay me for winning such a lovely package.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming...
I've been trying to get myself more organised than usual. Miss Joy's Birthday is the week before Christmas and so usually I feel like I cant get into Christmas until after her birthday. So this year I'm trying to get the majority of it sorted before her big day. Note the finished Advent Calender that I was working on last blog post. The Nativity Scene was an ambitious project I thought I could do...but in the end my Ma in Law came to the rescue. Its good to have the reason for the season right on the mantle piece.
Still so much to and wrap Christmas presents, attend various social events, finish Christmas cards and craft projects. On top of the usual working/family/cleaning cycle. I love this season! 

It seems I'm on Xmas sweets duty this year. Both sides of the family have delegated desserts for me to do. So many ideas going through my head....
I also like to do a Christmas Eve baking drop off to those nearest and dearest....So I best be getting me a 5kg bag of sugar this year.

While I was at the super market a few weeks ago I couldn't resist getting these cute little mini spring form tins. They are as big as your hand. Too cute! Yesterday was the first time I used them for little mini blue berry cheese cakes. I was making a larger one for a friends birthday party and added just a touch more of the ingredients to have a little extra for two mini tins. My kids love cheese cake (I wonder where they get that from?). I was making a my famous Mocha Cheese cake and scooped out a little batter before adding the coffee flavouring. I added a hand full frozen blue berries on the top. And baked them for 25 minutes. They were just too cute! And quite delicious. I will have to try this flavour combination for a larger cheese cake. The tartness of the berries cut through the richness of the cheese cake part.

Mini blue berry cheese cake on a dinner sized plate
We each had half each for dessert. So good.

Here's the finished mocha cheese cake.  I hope it will taste okay. Unfortunately I cant go to her special party because of work tonight :( But I hope some cheesecake will make up for it.

Listening to...
Katie and Brian  Torwalt  and I just bought the latest Jesus Culture featuring Martin Smith CD. So good. Loving having a cleaning session while cranking up my stereo and singing my lungs out to Jesus.

Excited about...

  • Only two more weeks left of school until the summer holidays start.
  • Spring cleaning.
  • Getting some painting projects done...okay watching hubby doing it ;)
  • Summer
  • Barbeques
  • Beach trips

So much to be thankful for....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A productive Sunday.

Today I woke up full of beans. not quite straight away...After Hubby had picked us up our favourite coffee, from our favourite cafe. Then I woke up full of beans. This morning I had to share a little something about our amazing get away to Sista's conference at church. (Kristy has already done a cool blog about it here.) I was a little nervous. Speaking to a bunch  of  people(200)  is a little daunting...but they are extended family, so hopefully it went well. 

I had a sleep day yesterday after my night shift so a more productive day was in mind for today. After a monster clean up of the house, Joe and I got to work and juiced a whole bag of lemons picked from Grandmas. I have this cool attachment to my Kenwood mixer that juices citrus in no time. 
I put some in an ice cube tray for juice when you need it and  decided to make lemonade out of the rest. Normally I would just add sugar and water to the lemon juice. But this time I made a sugar syrup, using 1 cup of sugar to about 1 cup water heating it in a pot until all the sugar was dissolved. I added it to the jug of lemon juice but it was still a bit tart so I repeated the process until the desired sweetness was achieved. It eliminated that dreaded "sugar sink". Will definitely do this again. 

I thought  the kids might like a lemonade  ice block...but I couldn't find the top bits to my ice block molds ..So used a bit of Kiwi ingenuity and improvised with some plastic forks. Yeah...Nah. I think I will dig a little deeper and try and find the real ones next time!

Christmas Advent calendars 
Tracy from "The Scrap Heap" was advertising these on her FB site.  The Left is what came in the kitset...which by the way was way cheaper at Tracy's shop than at Spotlight...just saying. And the right is what it could look like. COULD being the operative word. I'm a little rusty in the crafting department. There were a few times I felt like a five year know when things stick to places they aren't supposed to. Ahem...

I did enlist in hubby's help. This is not just a one afternoon job! Each little box needed to be put together. Its not finished yet though. I do have twelve (!) more days to go until we start counting down until the big day. Better get cracking!

While we crafted I managed to put together the yummiest dinner in ages. Slow Roasted Pork Belly with crispy skin and roasted trio of root vege (spud, kumara and pumpkin) and fresh garden Asparagus and the yummiest "Jus" ever. The pork belly recipe was from Jamie Oliver. And yes....I followed a recipe...okay... mostly.
While I was dishing this delicious dinner up, I was thinking to myself...My kids probably won't appreciate how yummy this dish is at all, my talents are wasted on them...yadda yadda. Boy was I  wrong. They all loved it. Joe said "this was the best dinner I have cooked him in his whole life". A winner then. Restaurants charge loads for "pork belly".  I found a nice sized one for $12 from the supermarket  that fed all 5 of us and it wasn't too hard to make when I followed Jamie's recipe. Give it a try at your place.  

Yep. That was a productive day...and now I need a nap!

Monkey moo...enjoying his lemonade ice block.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baklava cigars

As usual it started with a hankering then a craving...And then of course I had to make it. Today's experiment Baklava. A Mediterranean dessert made with nuts and filo pastry and a sugar syrup.

I googled some recipes and then of course...made it my own (take as *still hates following recipes*).

I have a baby shower  to attend tomorrow and need to provide a "plate" for and I know my pregnant dietitian friend is going to love these. I decided to try a "cigar"  instead for the traditional diamond shaped ones because I thought it would be better for a finger food plate. I used the "nice and natural nuts" product range. I LOVE having a bag of these handy on my night shifts. They just hit the spot and  are super healthy too.

First I had to get over my fear of FILO!
Its so paper thin and I'm so clumsy.
I heeded the advice of the recipes and placed a damp tea towel over the filo pastry while I worked with one sheet at a time.

300g of mixed nuts. I used Nice and natural "Energy" and "Balance" Mixes. Use a food processor until crumbly but not yet fine.
1/3 Cup soft brown sugar
1Tblsp melted butter.

1 Packet filo pastry
Melted butter

Carefully work with filo pastry using melted butter as needed using a pastry brush to keep filo moist and workable. Take one rectangle of pastry and fold in half with a light coating of butter. Put a Tablespoon of nut mix on the top end and roll in to a tight cigar (see pictures ).
Place all the rolls on a baking tray and bake until golden on 180C for  approximately 20 minutes.

Sugar syrup
1 and a 1/2 cups water
4 Tblsp Honey
2 Tblsp white sugar
1 tsp orange or lemon rind
1 tsp Masterfoods mixed spice

Place in a small sauce pan reduce down for 10 minutes. Generously brush all of the syrup over the filo cigars once baked. Let the cigars sit in the syrup to absorb for a few hours.