Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cauliflower and Parmesan – Soup for the Sick

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I know my beautiful 6 month old is going to grow into the most giving of souls as he had no qualms about giving me his cold this week.

One ridiculously happy, but sick, baby.

After feeling sleep-deprived and fragile after a few ordinary nights dealing with his illness, I woke up yesterday feeling like I had been hit by a bus!

As the weather here in Brisbane is slowly getting colder, soup for dinner was almost a sure bet, but with an illness, it was a must.

I thought I would try something other than the usual pea and ham or pumpkin soup and found this recipe for cauliflower and parmesan soup.  It was simple and required very few ingredients; onion, garlic, cauliflower, parmesan and milk, all of which I have on hand most of the time.

The whole thing cooked up in no time and made the smoothest soup.  It was quite thick so I chose to dilute it with some vegetable stock and therefore I ended up with the biggest pot of delicious soup.

The flavour was quite subtle but very nice. Everyone in the house loved it.

I have frozen the left over soup in small one person serves in ziplock bags.  By laying them flat to freeze, they take up hardly any room in the freezer and they are quick to defrost.

I’m glad I tried this recipe.  I am now on the lookout for other soup recipes to try this winter.

Organising with Plastic Divider Boxes – Batteries

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Organising with Plastic Divider Boxes – Batteries

I adore these plastic divider boxes!  I love that everything can be laid out so neatly and that you can see what is inside without having to open the lid.

I use these in a whole host of situations in the house but today I thought I would share with you my battery box.

It has only been in the last year that I have endeavoured to keep a supply of batteries on hand.  Previously I would find that something had died and I would search high and low for batteries and more often than not, end up making a trip to the store to buy some.  Once home I had no real place to store the batteries remaining in the pack and they would undoubtably become lost and untraceable in the next dire battery situation.

I decided at that time to centralise the batteries in a drawer in our living room.  However, while I could now find them when I needed them,  I hated all the different sized packets taking up too much room in my drawer.   I also found that the batteries often spilled out of their packets and rolled around in the drawer.

Enter the plastic divider box and the problem was solved.

Ta da!

Unable to leave things as is, I prettied up the box with some decoupage paper on the bottom.

Now they are kept together in a compact fashion and are no longer clinking about the drawer bottom.  At a glance I can see what batteries I have on hand and can easily tell when it is time to restock.

Pop by later and see what other things I organise in plastic divider boxes.

Entertaining Kids When Out and About

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My 3-year-old is full on.  There does not seem to be an off switch.  This means that when we are out he wants to look, touch and be involved in everything.  Obviously this is not always possible like in trips to the doctors or when we go out for a meal.

To keep him sufficiently entertained and in one spot when we head to special events we pack an activity bag.  I discussed this briefly in my post about my command centre here

In the command centre I keep his activity bag – you can see his red satchel bag hanging in the right of the picture.   Before we head out he collects his bag and fills it with fun activities from the box in the bottom left of the picture labelled ‘Oliver’s Toys’.

In this box I rotate a variety of mostly quiet and interesting activities for Oliver to do when we are out. 

At the moment the box stocks:

  • his portable dvd player and a collection of dvds
  • a travel Thomas the Tank Engine track and trains
  • a small bead maze
  • crayons, colouring and sticker books

As I said before, we don’t pack this bag every time we head out.  I don’t like cluttering up the car with unnecessary items.  If for some reason we end up heading somewhere unexpectedly and I need a quiet activity to entertain Oliver I have my Ipad.  I have downloaded a variety of games that are educational and creative that hold his interest.

If I want to avoid lugging anything with me to entertain the boys, I deliberately choose to patronise child friendly businesses.  There are a lot more around and I have found a few websites listing and reviewing child friendly businesses in my hometown.  For those in Brisbane, Queensland I suggest you have a look at Brisbane Kids.  For all areas in Australia have a look at Eatability or Kidspot.

How do you keep your kids entertained when you are out and about?

Cupcakes and Pinwheels Party

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Cupcakes and Pinwheels Party

Last week we had an afternoon tea birthday for my niece who turned 5.  We gave the party a pink, yellow and blue colour palette and a cupcakes and pinwheels theme.  It was a small family affair and an unexpected surprise for the birthday girl.

Today I thought I would share with you some pictures of our little party as a follow-up to the decoration tutorials for the paint chip garland and pinwheel table runner I shared with you previously.

We set up the dining room table with hot pink table wear  and the cutest pink polkadot napkins.    The table was finished off with the pinwheel table runner.

Since making these pinwheels I have so fallen in love with them that I made more to hang on the wall.  I clustered them in an abstract fashion behind the table.  It looked really effective and cute.  I will certainly be remembering this decoration idea for the future.

Taking pride of place on the table was a giant cupcake cake.  It was my first go at one of these and despite running short on time it turned out quite well and it was fun to make.  Master O had fun helping to decorate the top with Smarties.  The cake was decorated to match the pinata that the kids couldn’t wait to demolish.

We also had a few jars of lollies and biscuits set up to tempt the taste buds of the adults while they had their afternoon tea or coffee.  I put up the paint chip garland in the background here as well as a few half pinwheels.

Even though it was a small family affair, giving the party a theme and adding a few cute decorations made it special.  Well worth a little extra effort.

Linking up with some of these fun parties
Monday: Singing Three Little Birdies, Add a Pinch, I should be Mopping the Floor, Polly Want a Crafter?, Cherished Bliss, The Gunny Sack, Skip to my Lou, Craftomaniac, It’s so Very Cheri, Keeping it Simple, Creating Really Awesome Free Things, Between Naps on the Porch, Alderberry Hill, Its A Blog Party, A Pinch of Joy, Making the World Cuter, Mad in Crafts, Moms By Heart, Sew Can Do, Bringing Beauty, Sugar Bee Crafts, Tip Junkie, New Nostalgia, Ladybug Blessings, Permanent Posies, My Favourite Finds, Jillify It, How to Nest for Less
Tuesday: Coastal Charm, Today’s Creative Blog, Not Just a Housewife, A Bowl Full of Lemons , DIY by Design, Funky Polkadot Giraffe, Home Stories A to Z, Hope Studios, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Organising Homelife, Raising 4 Princesses, Celebrating Family, Carolyn’s Homework, The Blackberry Vine, The Kurtz Corner, Sassy Sites, A Little Tipsy, Gingersnap crafts, Time Warp Wife, These Creative Juices, The Thrifty Home, Its a Very Cherry World, Reason to Skip the Housework, Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night, Rook No.17, Cornerstone Confessions, Naptime Delights, Type A Decorating, A Diamond in the Stuff, Rae Gun Ramblings
Wednesday: Oopsey Daisy, My Girlish Whims, Uncommonly Yours, Creations by Kara, Raising Homemakers, The Thrifty Home, Twin Dragonfly Designs, A Creative Princess, Sugar and Dots, Seven Thirty Three, Fabric Bows and More, Someday Crafts, Handy Man, Crafty Woman, Night Owl Crafting, Passionately Artistic, Trendy Treehouse, Women Living Well, We are that Family, The Mommy Club , Raising Homemakers, Sew Much Ado, Somewhat Simple, 3 Four and Under, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Beyond the Picket Fence, Free Pretty Things for You, DIY by Design
Thursday: House of Hepworths Delightful Order Saved by love Creations Its a Keeper, Thrifty Decorating, The Frugal Girls, The 36th Avenue, Raising Mighty Arrows, Thrifty 101, A Glimpse Inside, Brambleberry Cottage, Bear Rabbit Bear, Michelle’s Tasty Creations and Crafty Ideas, Shabby Creek Cottage, Goings on in Texas
Friday: The Shabby Nest, Chic on a Shoestring Decorating, At the Picket Fence, Whipperberry, French Country Cottage, Thirty Handmade Days, Creation Corner, Finding Fabulous, Stuff and Nonsense, Fingerprints on the Fridge Naptime Crafters, While He Was Napping, My Romantic Home, Bacon Time With the Hungry, Hungry Hippo, Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons, Remodelaholic, Happy Hour Projects, Simply Designing, Simply Sweet Home, Tidy Mom, Kojo Designs, Young and Crafty, Serenity Now , Life as Mom, At the Picket Fence, Tatertots and Jello, Craft Junkie Too, A Little Knick Knack, Blissful and Domestic
Saturday: The Organised Housewife, Be Different Act Normal, The Girl Creative , Funky Junk Interiors , A Vision to Remember, Positively Splendid , Its Overflowing
Sunday: Ask Anna, A Rosie Sweet Home, I Heart Naptime, Under the Table Dreaming, DIY Showoff, Nifty Thrift Things, Sumo’s Sweet Stuff, Homemaker on a Dime, DIY Home Sweet Home, Embellishing Life

Weekend Baking – Banana and Raspberry Bread

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Weekend Baking – Banana and Raspberry Bread

I pulled out an old favourite for my Saturday morning bake-off, Banana and Raspberry Bread.  I hadn’t made it for a longtime.  I think I got out of the habit of buying bananas ever since Cyclone Yasi destroyed the crops a year and a half ago and the prices skyrocketed.

This morning the Farmer’s Market had lovely Lady Finger bananas so cheap I had to buy some for the boys and to make this great bread.

Whenever I make it I am reminded of my first days as a new mum.  My Sister-in-Law baked this for us to have for afternoon tea and I think it was the only thing I ate uninterrupted by  a nappy change or feed in that first week.

Ingredients

  • 150 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius (fan-forced oven).  Grease and line a standard loaf pan

Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. 

As it is so cold here at the moment there was no way my butter was going to soften anytime soon.  I used the George Colombaris’ tip of grating the butter first and it worked well.  

Add eggs, beating well.  Stir in banana.

Sift flour and baking powder on top of mixture and then add milk. Stir until combined.

Gently add raspberries to the mix

Place mix into the pan and bake.  The recipe states it takes about 45 minutes, but I find it is so big and dense it take about 60 minutes in my oven. I keep an eye on it an use a skewer to test that it is cooked through.

Leave to cool in the pan for a while before turning onto rack to cool completely

Serve warm or cold.  You can spread it with butter for an extra special treat.

This is lovely with a cup of tea.  I have in the past frozen it for school lunches and it holds up pretty well.  I recommend this as a must try recipe.

Take Me There Today

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I am having a ‘blah’ day.  The weather is dull and dreary and I am so tired.  I feel like being somewhere pretty,  sipping on good coffee and  indulging in sweet treats.  There is always one place in particular I would like to be on days like this….the bakery from the movie,  ‘It’s Complicated’.

The moment I saw that in the film I was in love.  I rushed home and gushed about it to hubby ( he wasn’t as enthused as me) and then sighed that there was nothing to compare to it here in Brissie.  I want to sit at one of the stools at the counter and breathe so unhygienically all over the tasty teats openly displayed on the counter.  I want Meryl Streep to serve me coffee while I get to eat the chocolate croissants that she has made by hand.  Ahhh to dream.

Where do you wish you were on your ‘blah’ days?

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemon Curd

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The mountain of lemons picked from my parents yard is slowly dwindling thanks to a meal plan focused on their citrus-y goodness.  One would think you would get  sick of them but I have quite liked everything I have made (You can read about my lemon delicious slice and hummus).   The other day I added lemon curd to my list of concoctions after my success with my passionfruit curd not that long ago.  I must say I am loving it and I highly recommend you give it a go if you have a few lemons spare.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  • Place everything except the eggs in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in eggs and return the bowl to the saucepan.
  • Continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat.
  • Set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Strain into hot, sterilised jars.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.

My 3-year-old is in love with this curd and has been having a spoonful of it on homemade natural yoghurt as a treat.    I love that I know exactly what is in this snack, that it is fresh and pesticide and preservative free. So much better for him than the sugar-ladden kids yoghurt you buy at the shops these days.

What are you making from your own home grown goodies?

Pinwheel Table Runner

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I saw a cute DIY table runner featured on Tip Junkie last week from the blog, Green Wedding Shoes.  I thought this would be adorable as a table runner for my niece’s afternoon tea birthday party.

Picking out a few pieces of pink, yellow and blue paper in various sizes to match the paint chip garland I made the other day, I got a folding.

I followed  Jen’s easy tutorial, although I found that I needed more paper than she suggested to make a full pinwheel.  All in all I made five pinwheels, two of which I used alternating colours in.

After having a little bit of a play with them on my table, I really like them as a decorating idea.

I think these would look cute at a whole host of occasions.  It would look gorgeous in patterned and textured papers for a more adult affair.

Tune back in a few days to see it laid out for my niece’s birthday celebration.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make a Vodka Lemon-Lime and Hummus!

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When Life Hands You Lemons, Make a Vodka Lemon-Lime and Hummus!

TGIF! What a week this has been here in the Crooked household.  I am absolutely exhausted, especially after Master C decided that sleep was overrated last night.  It is for this reason that I thought a drink and a few nibbles were on the agenda this evening.

As I wrote about yesterday, my parent’s garden is producing copious amounts of citrus.  After collecting another handful of limes today I thought I would make some Hummus to snack on while I sip my vodka lemon-lime.

Hummus is really quick, cheap and simple to make and tastes just as good, if not better, than the store-bought dip.

While it is really a recipe that should be adjusted to an individual’s taste and the sourness of the lemons you are using, here is the recipe I use as a guide.  It contains a lot less fat than many of the recipes out there:

Ingredients

400g can chickpeas

1/4 cup lemon (or lime) juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp tahini

1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on taste)

1 tsp cumin

Salt and Pepper

Paprika to sprinkle on top.

Method

Combine all of these in a blender or food processor. 

Add water, a tablespoon at a time, processing between each addition until you get a smooth consistency.

Place in a bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with vegetables or crackers.

I hope you have something nice planned to slip you into the weekend.

Linking up with: For the Mommas, A Southern Fairytale, Mrs Happy Homemaker

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemon Delicious Slice

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When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemon Delicious Slice

A little while back, I told you about my parent’s bumper crop of passionfruit.  I had to make about eight batches of passionfruit curd and indulge in some yummy cocktails to get through the glut.  Well now it seems like their citrus trees are going wild.  There are so many lemons, limes and oranges ready to be picked, we are again scrambling to find recipes to use up the crop.

I turned to my favourite recipe site Taste for some inspiration.  I love this site as there are thousands of recipes collated here from all manner of recipe magazines.  By far the stand out feature for me is the review section.  People who use the recipes can write a review and their information is invaluable to help choose, alter or improve a recipe.

My first baking session to rid me of the lemon pile was double batch of Lemon Delicious Slice I made earlier today.

The recipe was simple.  Mix melted butter, sugar, vanilla and flour and press into a slice pan and bake.

While the base is set aside to cool, whisk eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest and lemon juice, then pour over the base.

Bake. Cool. Cut into portions while watching your slice fall apart. ‘WHAT ?” I hear you say.

As I was removing the slice from its tray it began to split and the curd-like topping began to slide a little.  Once I started to cut it, the base began to crumble.  While most of the slices were salvageable, there were a few shocking ones and a couple that were completely obliterated.

As hurdles like these are often thrown at me when I am baking, I didn’t have a hissy fit (this time).  It tasted great so I know it will be eaten dispite the less-than-pretty appearance of most of the pieces.  As for the destroyed slices, Hubby is getting a very special dessert tonight - Deconstructed Lemon Delicious Slice.

It doesn’t look like much at the moment, but add a little custard and he will be as happy as a pig in mud!

Linking up with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage