Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 117


Welcome to Thriving on Thursdays! A place to link up all your blog posts to help inspire us all. I want to thank you all for linking up and coming back each week.

Monday was Australia Day and a public holiday for us. A day we commemorate the First Fleet arriving on our friendly (or not so friendly back then) shores in 1788. A time for us to reflect on how we live in such a lucky country. We celebrated the day with friends at a local pub with the kids for lunch and a live rock'n'roll band singing classic Aussie rock songs. It was about 35 deg C (95 deg F) with about 100% humidity. We were all very hot but a great day out. Anyway, time to party. Here's my top 3 food and non food posts from last week's party. Don't forget to link up your Valentine's Day posts. I'll be featuring them all in a special post in the lead up to Valentine's Day.


Toffee Oatmeal Cookies


Cushion Covers with an Enclosed Zipper ~ Threading My Way

Turn Your Photos Into Art (the ultimate guide) | The Painted Hive

Feel free to grab a 'featured' button from above if you like. Can't wait to see what you've all been up to this week. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Ironing Chef - What do do with Ham & Pineapple

Welcome to a new monthly feature in 2015, "The Ironing Chef". I came up with the idea, while ironing one day believe it or not, when thinking about what to cook for dinner. I remembered the TV show "The Iron Chef" where they get one ingredient to cook 3 or 4 courses using standard pantry ingredients as well (and they have the really goofy voice overs in the Japanese version of the show). I'm forever making do with what I've got on hand but wanted to share how easy it easy to prepare simple meals using only what you've got. So many times I'd love to run down to the supermarket to pick up those extra few ingredients to make something but hold off and just use what I've got.

Ham & Pineapple Skewers on a Warm Rice Salad

I had some leftover ham from Christmas, which I cut off the bone and froze. Being smack bang in the middle of summer here in Australia, the pineapples are beautiful at the moment so I had half a pineapple that needed using up as well.

The extra ingredients I grabbed from the pantry and fridge were as follows:

(1)  1 cup white rice
(2)  frozen vegetable mix of corn, peas, capsicum
(3)  last bit of wilted English spinach from the fridge
(4)  half a small tub of light sour cream
(5)  6 Butternut Snap Cookies

plus basic seasonings and sauces from the pantry.  Not everyone is going to have these same ingredients but it's about using what you do have. If you have frozen broccoli, for example, use that. Or use leftover cake or biscuits of any kind to add to a dessert. Ice cream, cream, Greek or flavoured yoghurt is also good to use in desserts. Rice or pasta, it makes no difference.

I put the rice onto boil and cut the pineapple in half, saving one half for the dessert and cut the other half into chunks and threaded alternately onto a skewer with cubes of the leg ham. I used my sandwich press to cook the skewers.

Just before the rice was cooked, I added a handful of the frozen vegies plus the English spinach, finely shredded. I dressed the rice salad mixture with a mixture of sweet chilli and soy sauce, two ingredients which are always in my pantry.

Pineapple & Coconut Parfait

We're not usually dessert eaters, except the kids might have a bowl of ice cream or an icy pole occasionally. (Usually they don't eat all their dinner so there's no treats.) I decided to make a dessert using the other half of the pineapple and layer it with crunchy biscuit crumbs and a little sour cream. I wasn't sure how the sour cream would go but you wouldn't believe it. I found one solitary ready made meringue stuck up the back of the pantry which I crumbled into the sour cream. I also added a couple drops of coconut essence to the sour cream (another pantry staple of mine) but you could leave it out if you like or add shredded coconut. Let your imagination go wild. (I'll let you in to a little secret. I couldn't believe my luck when searching the pantry to see what I could use when I found a pineapple jelly/jello. It was my intention to have a layered parfait with jelly, sour cream and the biscuit crumbs. I put the fresh pineapple into the jelly and it didn't set because of the natural enzymes that occur in things such as fresh pineapple, kiwi etc. Bugger! I salvaged the pineapple and tossed the jelly but that's the way it goes. That's not the first time a disaster of that magnitude has happened in my kitchen!)

So, other than preparing the jelly earlier in the day (which didn't work anyway), there wasn't much to preparing this meal. I did make the dessert a little before dinner time and just let sit in the fridge. The meal came together really quickly and was very tasty and filling. Never underestimate what you've got lurking in the fridge, pantry or fridge and how it can be used. Rather than throw it away, think outside the box and use it up. Stay tuned for next month when I go into the deep, dark depths of my freezer and fridge to see what needs using up. 

PS. I'm not much of a meal planner. I have done it over the years but I've developed a knack of looking in the fridge that morning and working out what we'll be having for dinner. Either way, whatever works for you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lemon Myrtle Scones with Finger Lime Marmalade & Cream

Happy Australia Day! Today is the day we commemorate the landing of the First Fleet in Australia in 1788 and an excuse for a public holiday. What a better way to celebrate then with scones with jam and cream. I've added an Australian bush tucker theme to my scones this time with the addition of the native Australian spice lemon myrtle and a finger lime marmalade.

Scones served split open and spread with jam and then topped with cream have become an Aussie tradition. (We just so happened to steal it from the British and their Devonshire Tea.)  Scones are usually plain but can be filled with sultanas, dates or flavoured with pumpkin. Jam is traditionally strawberry but I've gone for a real Aussie theme and tried the finger lime marmalade I had in the fridge and they were absolutely gorgeous! I spread some with strawberry jam for the traditionalists among us (and the kids).

I used my lemon myrtle spice mix lurking in the pantry, just waiting to be used, and my favourite scone recipe from Lady Flo Bjelke-Peterson, former Premier of Queensland Joh's wife who is very famous for her pumpkin scones. I love her recipes.

Scones are such an easy thing to bake and made with pantry staples. My dough was a little wet so I added a bit extra flour to the board before cutting out. You might have your favourite recipe which makes a light fluffy scone but my secret is not to overwork the dough. I learnt from my Nanna, a master scone maker in her day, who told me to always mix the dough with a knife which will eliminate overworking and only just bring the ingredients together until a dough forms. Lightly press onto a floured board to your desired thickness and either cut into squares with a knife or use a cutter to cut out scones.

I very rarely pick up super bargains from major department stores because I don't normally shop at them and I'm never there at the right time but I was the other week. I picked up a beautiful green biscuit tin (complete with choc chip cookie mix, which I threw out because it was made in China and I was a bit suspect about that) but it came with this beautiful ceramic biscuit press and cookie cutter. It only cost me 10 cents! Can't wait to try out the biscuit press.

Once the scones are cut out, brush with a little milk and bake in a hot oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Wrap in a clean tea towel once baked until ready to use. 

Cut in half, spread with jam and top with whipped cream.

I'll definitely be looking for new ways to use my lemon myrtle spice. It added a lovely, subtle lemon flavour to the scones and the finger lime marmalade was luscious. Hope you all have a lovely Australia Day no matter how you're celebrating.

Lemon Myrtle Scones with Finger Lime Marmalade & Cream
(based on "Classic Country Collection" scone recipe by Flo Bjelke-Petersen)
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp lemon myrtle spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • extra flour for rolling & cutting

  • Finger Lime marmalade or jam of your choice
  • fresh cream, whipped until thick

  1. Preheat oven to 220 deg C.
  2. Mix spice and salt into flour
  3. Add melted butter and milk and mix with a knife until just combined.
  4. Sprinkle board or bench top with extra flour.
  5. Put dough on floured board and press out until approx 1.5cm (1 inch) thick.
  6. Cut dough into squares or cut out shapes with a scone/cookie cutter which has had the edges dipped into flour to avoid sticking.
  7. Place on baking tray lined with baking paper.
  8. Bake for approx 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Wrap in clean tea towel until ready to serve.
  10. Slice each scone horizontally and spread with jam and top with a teaspoon of whipped cream.

Friday, January 23, 2015

DIY Asian food at home with Chang's

I feel so blessed to live here in Queensland, Australia. Such a wonderful climate all year round and access to a superb range of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially a lot of different varieties of Asian vegetables and herbs. We are so closely located to Asia and have been influenced over the years by the many cuisines in Asian countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, for example.  They've certainly got it worked out how to get good, fresh, easy meals on the table in minutes.

Chang's are one such company that are making things easy for us in the kitchen.  Chang's have been in Australia since 1968.  In fact, there really was a Mr Chang. He was C.H. Chang, China’s Consul General to Australia in 1968. He began importing authentic Asian flavours and serving them up to us Aussies, hungry for new and exotic oriental food. Today, Chang’s is a household name, still sharing delicious dishes.

With Chang's range of shelf-fresh noodles, you needn't worry about not having the ingredients on hand. From hokkien noddles to a gluten free range of wok ready Pad Thai noodles, Chang's has you covered. No need to keep them refrigerated.  Just store them in the pantry for a quick mid week or weekend meal. Great for the kids. Even my Little Miss Fusspot loves noodles.

Undoubtedly, the secret to a good Asian meal is in the sauce. Two sauces I recommend having on hand in the pantry, to recreate authentic Asian cuisine at home are fish sauce and light soy sauce. Mixed with other sauces you have like honey or tomato sauce, for example, you're well on your way to serving some delicious meals to your family. Fish sauce is one of the defining ingredients in authentic Thai cuisine and you can create your own Thai curries or fresh stir fries at home easily with a few basic ingredients.

The Chang's web site has an excellent Recipe Finder where you can choose by sauce, noodle or meat and find heaps of Asian meal ideas to try at home. The recipes are also sorted into categories such as BBQ, Beef, Kids, Vegetarian or Gluten Free options, for example, just to make finding your recipe with what ingredients you have that little bit easier. If you follow Chang's on Facebook, they're always sharing new recipes and handy ways to make the most of the great range of Chang's products.

I can't wait to share some quick, family friendly, cheap, Asian cuisine at home with you. Stay tuned for heaps of recipes. Be prepared by stocking up on some Chang's products, available from over 500 stores Australia wide and most products can be found on your local supermarket shelves. Here's a couple recipes to get you started.

Disclaimer:  I was given a selection of Chang's noodles and sauces to try. All opinions and ideas are my own.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 116


Welcome to Thriving on Thursdays and another week of inspirational blog posts from all around the world. A place to share your food, craft, saving tips, sewing, gardening and anything else goes blog posts, just to help save a few dollars. 

Somehow I don't think my "Pima" and "Pico" puppies are this happy on a school morning.

This week is crazy busy with back to school organising. Nothing like leaving it until the last minute to purchase the kid's school books. Plus, there'll be hair cuts today, a good wash on Monday night, school shoes spit and polished and one will be out the door Tuesday and the next child on Wednesday. If you hear a huge 'sigh', that'll be me on Wednesday morning at about 9am when I'll be listening for the serenity! (Only kidding. They've been pretty good kids these last 6 weeks or so.) So, onto my favourites from last week's party. Here are my top 3 food and non food blog posts from last week.



I-cord Rug - Teppich aus Strickschn├╝ren

How to Make Chores Work in Your Family and End the Chore Battle

Before and After: The Ugly Vintage Lamp

And that my friends is a 'wrap' for this week. Feel free to grab the 'featured' button from my drop down menu above. I can't wait to see what you've all been up to this week. Don't forget, I'll be featuring all Valentine's Day posts in a special feature a bit closer to the big day. Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade Gozleme

The Italians have calzone, the Mexicans have quesadillas and the Turkish people have gozleme. It's amazing what you can do with just flour, oil and water. These tasty little treats take barely no time to whip up and you can fill them with whatever ingredients you have on hand. In this case, I used some English spinach I had wilting in the fridge and a little feta cheese. I made a mushroom and cheese gozleme for my son and a garlic and cheese one for Little Miss Fusspot.

This recipe, from Gourmet Wog has no yeast so no waiting around for it to rise etc. It's a very basic dough that needs to rest for just a couple minutes while you prepare the filling. They can be cooked on the barbecue, on the stove top in a frying pan or, as I did, in my sandwich press so they were cooked in no time.

The dough forms into a lovely, silky smooth ball and is easy to work with and to roll out.

Let your imagination go wild with the fillings. The Turks also love to make a spicy lamb mince filling and fill in between these deliciously, light, crispy flatbreads.

It's just a matter of putting one layer of dough on the pan, top with the filling and place the second layer of dough on top and fry until golden. With the use of the sandwich press, I was able to cook both sides at once. If you cook it on the stove top, you'd have to be a dab hand at flipping the gozleme but once the filling melts and sticks, it's pretty easy. Gozleme make a lovely alternative to boring old sandwiches for lunch or, served with a salad, a light and healthy evening meal.

Homemade Gozleme
  • 2 & 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • olive oil spray or extra olive oil to brush pan

Spinach & Feta filling:
  • handful of spinach leaves (I used English spinach and wilted in the microwave for about 20 secs)
  • 100 grams feta cheese crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg to combine
  • salt & pepper

  1. Add salt to plain flour.
  2. Make a well in the middle and add olive oil and water.
  3. Mix until dough forms a ball.
  4. Knead for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is silky smooth.
  5. Allow to rest for 20 minutes and prepare your filling.
  6. Cut dough ball into 4 sections.
  7. Cut each of this sections into 2 and roll into a round shape of similar size and very thin.
  8. Place one piece of rolled dough into a well greased pan, on a barbecue plate or sandwich press and place the filling on top.
  9. Place the other piece of dough on top.
  10. Cook over a medium heat until dough has cooked and flip to cook the other side.
  11. Brush with extra olive oil if desired.
  12. Cut into wedges to serve.