Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Avocado, cherry tomato, quinoa & bean salad

If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll know I pin a lot of recipes. I don't make a lot of them but every now and again a recipe pops up and that's all I can think of. I'd been pinning a lot of quinoa recipes but this one just looked so delicious (probably more so than my photo) from I've made a few quinoa salads and there really is not much taste to quinoa but with the addition of lemon zest in this recipe, it was really delicious.

There was a large amount so I had it for lunch and dinner. Its one of those 'throw anything in' kind of recipes that I love. What made it so delicious was the mix of spinach, coriander, lemon juice, dijon mustard and quinoa that coated each salad ingredient. I'll be making this one again for sure. Good on its own or as a side.

Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Quinoa & Bean Salad
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 block frozen spinach (or fresh which has been steamed and rinsed under cool water
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch chopped coriander (or 2 tbs coriander in a tube)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • dash of salt and pepper
  1. Soak the quinoa in a pot in the vegetable stock for about 15 minutes. After that, turn on the heat to medium high and let the quinoa come to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium/low and let quinoa simmer. Stir every so often, and cook quinoa for about 20-25 minutes just until the liquid absorbs. You don’t want it completely dried out, so when there is just a TINY amount of liquid left in the pot, remove it from heat and put a lid on it. Set it aside, and make the rest of the salad.
  2. Combine avocado, cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, onion, spinach and garlic.
  3. Make dressing. Add quinoa to salad and pour over dressing. Mix to combine.
  4. Allow to stand before serving to allow flavours to combine.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Awesome Awards & cake (with coconut oil)

Don't be fooled by those mesmerising eyes or that cute button nose. He can be pure evil sometimes. Well, not really. He just has a hard time handling his emotions for a 6 year old. I've been reading a lot about it and it can be quite common with 5 to 6 year old boys (and girls for that matter). They have a hard time recognising their emotions and feelings and act up like they're having a 2 year old tantrum. It can become very tiring, especially on my own.

I try everything. Catching him before it escalates, time out, rewards, deep breathing, a kind approach, distraction. You name it. One morning last week culminated in being dragged to school, this time in his clothes. (There was a time recently he was dragged in his pyjamas.) It is so, so draining. The next morning he went off to school fine and I decided to reward him (and his sister, for different reasons) with an 'awesome' award (and cake).

PDF Online

I decided to also whip up a quick batch of small cupcakes but didn't want to use the small amount of butter I had left so tried it with coconut oil instead. The cakes turned out beautifully with a delicate, light crumb and the faintest taste of coconut. I made the cakes in heart shaped moulds and topped with vanilla buttercream sprinkled with jelly crystals.

I haven't had too much trouble since. He is definitely getting better and able to calm down if he gets upset or can't get his own way. I don't want him to suppress his anger or not let me know he's angry. He's just got to keep it under control. I think both of my kids are pretty awesome most of the time. Sometimes I think I just need to remind them.

Now to work on his sister, the drama queen!

Plain Cupcakes (made with coconut oil)
  • 60g coconut oil (or butter or margarine)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • Vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Mix oil and sugar together.
  2. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Add flour and milk and mix lightly until incorporated.
  4. Spoon mixture into cake moulds or cupcake papers.
  5. Bake in a 170 deg C oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Top with your favourite icing and sprinkles.


Monday, October 29, 2012

A well deserved (re) treat

Ahhhhhhh! Hear that? That's called serenity.  It was shortlived because once I got home and got back into the swing of things with the kids, it was over but good while it lasted. In an attempt to start doing things for me, in a positive light, I'd been googling meditation classes and this one day workshop just happened to come up. A one day meditation/yoga workshop in the Tweed River/Gold Coast hinterland. So I booked and went on the weekend.

Conducted through the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga, Nadia Retreat is located in Bilambil, about 15 minutes from the Coolangatta airport on the Gold Coast. A private residence with a meditation room located at the front of the property, you might be fooled into thinking you were in Bali or Thailand with the beautiful tropical gardens surrounding the property.

Space was limited to an intimate group of about 25 people and we started with a meditation class. I'd been trying to get the 'hang' of meditation these last couple of weeks. I'd always successfully managed deep relaxation methods over the years but didn't quite 'get' what meditation was all about. I'd hoped to learn all about it at this retreat and that I did. I'm not sure if it was a 'spiritual awakening' or the planets were aligned that day or whether or not I was just susceptible to spiritual guidance, but I definitely felt like I'd 'got' it.

We were mid way through the meditation class on what started out as quite a warm, humid day. There was a lovely soft breeze blowing through the room and then there seemed to be quite a large gust of wind come across my my face and body as I felt total relaxation and peace in my mind. It was such a beautiful experience. Meditation is all about breathing and focusing on that. You're never going to 'empty' your mind but practising these breathing techniques we learnt, you're able to step away from those thoughts and breathe positive energy or 'chi' into your body. It's quite an indepth subject and I'd like to learn and practice it some more. This state of relaxation lasted until about 1:00pm yesterday afternoon and I'd just about had it up to my eyeballs with the kids but I don't think I let it get to me as I'd done in the past. I think this workshop really helped me to keep relaxed and less stressed.

After a basic demonstration class of Qigong, an ancient Chinese practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation, we headed back for a lesson in Mantra Meditation and a bit of yoga. This was also very relaxing and a beautiful experience. A vegetarian banquet was then served. We could smell it cooking all morning and we were all well and truly starving by this stage. The food was beautifully prepared with gorgeous, fresh ingredients and was all very tasty. I hit the cooks up for the recipes on a couple dishes and will try to replicate them.

There was a fried rice, tamale pie, chilli con carne, grilled corn on the cob, nachos, salsa, coleslaw and the most gorgeous dish of a baked ricotta smothered in a red and green chilli and oven roasted cherry tomatoes. That's the one that makes me salivate thinking about it.

After a full belly, we teamed up with another person and gave each other an aromatherapy face massage. It was just beautiful. (Have I used the word 'beautiful' enough in this post?) Another mantra meditation and afternoon tea of a wholesome carrot cake muffin and mug of freshly made hot chai tea before heading home in the pouring rain. It had got quite windy and cool by this stage but I didn't care. I was so relaxed. I collected the kids, had dinner, movie night and managed to doze before the eldest one went off to sleep. It was an early night for all of us. Last night I gave each of my children a face massage and listened to rainforest music before they fell asleep, with only a little bit of talking. I think I may have them hooked as well because they want to do it again tomorrow night.

I highly recommend checking out your local area for meditation classes if you're looking for a way to relax and calm your mind and body. Let's face it. Who isn't these days? I hope to keep it up but will get to one of these retreats again as soon as I can.


Australian School of Meditation and Yoga
Nadia Retreat Centre
323 Hogans Road
Bilambil  NSW


Saturday, October 27, 2012

24 + ways to use oats

When your mind is not on the job, you sometimes lose focus. I always thought of myself as a very savvy grocery shopper. Only stocking up on my basic pantry list and getting those items that were needed. How on earth did I end up with three 1 kilo bags of oats? You could say my mind has been elsewhere these last few months and that's my excuse. Now, just to use those oats up. Here's a good start. Recipes pinned from Pinterest.

Source: via Cathy on Pinterest

Overnight refrigerator oats

Microwave banana oat cakes

Cinnamon oat pancakes

Chocolate oat chews

Chocolate oat squares

Quinoa oat bread

Source: via Carole on Pinterest
40 + Granola and granola bar recipes

Carob oat cookies for dogs

Quinoa oat cookies

Apple oat cookies

Oatmeal sandwich cookies

Oatmeal sandwich bread

Oat meatloaf

Turkey & oat burgers

Source: via Anne on Pinterest
Nut & Cheese vegetarian sausage rolls

Lemon tart with ginger oat crust


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 39

Welcome back to my lovely, thrifty followers of frugality! It's been nearly a month since my last linky party (sounds a bit like a confession). I do feel a little guilty that I haven't been running the party for these last few weeks but I'm glad for the break and the time to clear my head a little. Not that putting the party together is a lot of work. Its just one less thing I had to think of. But I'd like to get it started again. With Halloween next week, Thanksgiving in a little while and then Christmas, I'd love to share all the wonderful, creativeness that exists in the blogosphere right here in this little space. I really do find a lot of inspiration in what everyone links up. I might just quickly recap the most hit links from the last party, both food and non food related.
plum crumb bars

Thank you so much to each and every one of you for linking up your wonderful ideas. If you've been featured, feel free to take a 'featured' button from the menu above. I would love to see what you've all been working on these last couple of weeks. If its something Halloween related, all the better. I know so many of you enjoy the Halloween holiday and love putting together related recipes and crafts. Even though I don't do it, I love seeing them all. Now, onto the party!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cherry & Walnut Cookies

I have to confess, I haven't been doing much baking lately. I'd fallen into the bad habit of picking up 2 for $4 packets of biscuits from the supermarket for the kids just so I had something in the house for them. Most days they'd have crackers and cheese or a couple of bikkies and a glass of milk. Mother guilt had set in and I'd beat myself up for it. Now, I realise it got me through a bad patch and after all is said and done, $2 is a pretty good price for a packet of biscuits but I don't believe you can get that same taste as you can from a homemade biscuit.

Looking for inspiration, I dug around through the basket filled with dried fruit and nuts and grabbed the small packet of glacé cherries and a small amount of walnuts left in a packet. Cherries and walnuts are perfect together. I used the usual biscuit recipe I love so much given to me by my friend Claire in Tasmania. Just mix dry, mix wet and mix together. Melt and mix. That's my kind of recipe. Even Miss Fusspot ate these. If she knew there were cherries and nuts in them, she'd freak. I told her the little red things were lollies.

Cherry & Walnut Cookies

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
185g butter - melted
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup glacé cherries, chopped finely
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 160 deg C. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Mix together. Bake for approx 15 mins or until golden.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Only 64 days until Christmas!

Source: via Athena on Pinterest

Well, surprise, surprise. I'm no more organised for Christmas this year as I was this time last year or the year before that etc. This year, I don't really care. What does it mean to be organised for Christmas anyway? Spending time with your family? Yes, I can do that. I don't have to be 'organised' to do that. I'll be doing that anyway. There won't be any fancy Christmas dinners. Just quiet, fun times spent with the kids. I'll probably have a family get-together before the actual day. Given the year I've had, I'm happy and looking forward to another festive season all the same.

For your interest, I've put all of my Christmas ideas from 2011 under their own "Christmas" tab above. If I get around to anything between now and the big day, I'll add them. In the meantime, here's a few fantastic ideas I've been pinning from Pinterest that I hope I get around to.

Wrapped candy bars

Straw Christmas tree card

DIY Candy Cane ric rac
Reindeer Gingerbread cookies
Upside down ice cream cone trees
Source: via Anne on Pinterest
Lemon, Pistachio & Cranberry Wreath Cookies
Christmas tree cheese platter
Magnetic tin advent calendar
Baked cinnamon ornaments for the tree
Bite sized cranberry bark
Wordsearch gift wrap
Reindeer sandwiches
Christmas scent
Washcloth reindeer
Elf doughnuts from Cheerios

You can check out many more ideas on my "Christmas 2012" board on Pinterest.

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