Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cake Anyone?

Today I thought I'd try out a recipe posted by "The Everyday Blessings". It was for an Apple and Sultana Cake which after looking at the list of ingredients, I realised I didn't have all that was required. So, I customized it a little and came up with an Apple and Walnut Cake!

I left out the sultanas as I didn't have any and I'm not particularly a fan of them anyway. I didn't have any almonds left so I used walnuts instead and, I also added an extra half teaspoon of cinnamon. In place of wholemeal flour I used white, it was what was in the cupboard.
The recipe has been tried and tested and, I give it 5/5 aprons! Tasted very delicious and very quick and easy! Thanks Nadia for posting the recipe, I think I have a new favourite.
I have cooked two dinners from My Julie & Julia Challenge this week and I shall post about how they went on Sunday.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Challenge begins!

Last week was one of those weeks where the housework got the better of me! Clothes left in the washing machine, greasy baking dishes soaking for days and, our bed was not made once! 
Anyway, my meal plan worked a treat so here I am again to document this weeks meals. I Will be staring My Julie & Julia Challenge this week and have included two meals from the recipe book.

On the Menu

Monday: Shepherds Pie -  Recipe #1 Julie & Julia Challenge

Tuesday: Apricot Chicken - slow cooked

Wednesday: Baked Penne with Kumara and Spinach - Recipe #2 Julie & Julia Challenge

Thursday: Salami, Mushroom and Capsicum Pizza

Friday: Cabbage Soup - Frozen left overs


Sunday, August 19, 2012

On The Menu This Week

At late I have enjoyed reading meal plans of other bloggers, they have given me ideas and tips for my own meal planing.  
So, each Sunday I plan to post my meal plan for the week. And as I will be taking on my Julie & Julia Challenge starting September, you'll all be able to keep up to date with what I'll be cooking for the week. 

Every second week may be very similar to the first as we usually have a lot of leftovers. There are only two of us so I often get two dinners from one meal. On some weeks I may cook every night and freeze the leftovers which, means the following week I may not do much cooking at all. 

On The Menu

Monday: Cabbage Soup

Tuesday: Kangaroo Curry Mince Stew & Rice - slow cooked

Wednesday: Moroccan Lamb Shanks & Mashed Potato - slow cooked

Thursday: Marinated Chicken Wings & Potato Bake

Friday: Beef Stew - frozen leftovers 


Friday, August 17, 2012

1 Week, 4 Meals, 1 Slow Cooker

While I was still pregnant I bought a nice big slow cooker. I thought that it would be handy for the busy work days, particularly when I was feeling tired and unwell. It would also be handy after I had the baby however, I used it once [maybe twice]. That was until last week! 

Over this past week I have developed a new love for my slow cooker! The cooking is long but the effort required by me is quick and easy. At 10 am, whilst Rupert is still having his morning nap, I chop up and prepare the required foods and ingredients to put into the slow cooker. And BAM just like that I have extra time in my afternoon and evening to tend to other things. It really does take the rush and stress out of cooking. Each time I have cooked on low for 8 hours.

I have taken my friend Nadia's advice and tips and I have been very rewarded with most of the dishes cooked in the slow cooker. You can follow Nadia's blog "The Everyday Blessings" here. She posts her weekly meal plans as well as recipes and cooking tips.

Here is what I cooked in my slow cooker this week.

Thursday: Nadia's Beef Stew - The beef very tender but I did forget to add some gravy powder to thicken so it was a little soupy.

Monday: Kangaroo Stew - Again the meat was so tender and almost melted in your mouth. I served this with homemade bread.

Tuesday: Apricot Chicken - My favourite dish! And having slow cooked it made me even more in love with it! I used drumsticks as they were cheapest and, I also took the skin off. Served with white rice. 

Thursday: Spaghetti Bolognese - I found the mince to be somewhat dry, this may have been because I did not add enough water? I shall try again.

If you have some favourite slow cooked recipes you'd like to share than please feel free to! I'm up for trying anything.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Julie & Julia Challenge

Usually we make time for the things we love to do however, it was time that let me love the thing I hated most. Cooking. Not being at work and having more time at home has made a huge difference to my cooking skills, and I am loving it!

I recently watched the movie titled "Julie & Julia" and what a fantastic movie it was! I thoroughly enjoyed it and was very inspired to take on my own cooking challenge. If you haven't seen the movie, its about a woman (Julie) who decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Its 525 recipes in 365 days, and she writes a blog of her progress along the way.

So I've decided that I will embark on a cookbook challenge of my own, starting September. I will be cooking from AWW The Retro Cookbook cover to cover. It is a lovely cookbook that was a Christmas gift from my sister in-law Kathleen. It contains 160 recipes that range from the original 1950's AWW (Australian Woman's Weekly) cookbooks to today's. I too will blog of my progress and let you all know how my culinary journey is going.
I would like to complete the challenge before the New Year begins but if things don't quite go to plan, than I have given myself a 6 month deadline.

There are some interesting recipes so, stayed tuned!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Facebook & The Friends That Matter

Facebook, what do we think of it? If I were to ask someone I'd most likely get a negative response, even if that person does in fact have a Facebook profile. It would seem that whilst most people use Facebook they tend to express a lot of frustration and disappointment in having one.
And although we would love to delete our profiles and be free of gossip, statuses with underlining meanings, statuses that were intended to offend, unwholesome pictures and posts, statuses that provoke questions but the author isn't interested in answering them, random friend requests and, baffling friend deletes... we still have profiles.

I love Facebook but for all its good things. I enjoy creating events, keeping up to date with friends and family I love but am far from. I like to share tid bits of my life, pictures, encouraging words and uplifting comments. Its also a great tool for informing a 'body of people' about events etc. and to keep in contact with people regularly. But Facebook needs to be managed. If you don't want to manage it than you may be best without it.

Here are some guidelines I "try" to follow that keep me on Facebook without being continuously let down and frustrated.
  • Only add and accept friends you are willing to view statuses and posts from, that you know personally, and that you would be comfortable with sharing your posts with. 
  • Don't add people if you know your going to be subject to unwholesome pictures and posts. 
  • If you have already friended someone who writes posts you don't like seeing, change the settings with that friend to not have their posts appear in your feed. 
  • Friend only your friends and those that you would be happy to meet with for a coffee. 
  • Avoid friending people just because you want to "sticky beak" into their lives but don't actually want a relationship with and, 
  • make the effort to meet up with those that you want a genuine friendship with.
  • If you have a personal issue with someone don't just delete them. We need to be mature and go to that person and reconcile our differences first. Social media is often the cause of cyber bullying and has tragically led to teenage suicides so, us adults need to set a good example to the  next generation, by avoiding posts and statuses that attack particular individuals and are intended to offend.
  • If you want to avoid random friend requests you can opt to have your name to not appear in name searches.
  • I recommend your profile settings are set to private particularly if you post photos of children. 
  • Ask permission before posting photos of others, especially other peoples children.
  • Be mindful of posting pictures and comments on public (and even closed) groups and pages. 
  • When friending someone we should respect their views and beliefs, we don't always have to agree but we can agree to disagree.
  • When 'checking in' consider whether you are ok with everyone knowing where you are, especially if your profile isn't entirely private. 
  • The person you are in real life, be also on Facebook. Be genuine.
  • Theres a saying "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".
Well, there you have a few tips for managing friends on Facebook but, the main (original) reason for this post was to  encourage people to nurture genuine friendships. To invest in real life 'face to face' time with those we love and care about. Friendships are two way streets so, be the initiator sometimes. Show your friends that you are genuinely interested in 'them'. If you feel that you've endlessly tried to be close with a friend and they don't reciprocate, than thats okay too. Keep them at acquaintance. I often find myself feeling hurt by others because I've opened myself up to people but they weren't willing to do the same. I've often gone the extra mile only to have been left hanging. 

Lets be available to help each other out. Don't let Facebook be the only tool to strengthening friendships. Pick up the phone and let someone know you are thinking of them. Take the time to write a letter in your own handwriting. Arrange to catch up over coffee. Offer a helping hand. Bake a cake. Show your friends you care.

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17