December 26, 2014

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu

Christmas Eve excites me, it's a time when I can pull out the crystal glasses, linen napkins and plan the perfect menu.

Using the Thermomix I made a soup and butter for entree and caramlised onion for one of the sides. The  poached turkey breast and cauliflower dish both Donna Hay recipes were pulled off without a hitch and after two disatorous attempts at panna cotta I finally got it right with a layered dessert consisting of mousse, sponge fingers and berry coulis.

Poached turkey prior to stock being added

Cream of mushroom soup


Cream of mushroom soup
Dinner rolls
Garlic, chive and truffle oil infused butter


Poached turkey breast with lemon and thyme gravy
Crispy garlic and sage roast potatoes
Cauliflower, caramelised onion and fontina gratin
Pan fried asparagus


Layered white and dark chocolate mousse with rum sponge and berry coulis
Egg nog

Cauliflower, caramelised onion and fontina gratin
Layered mousse with sponge fingers and berry coulis and Egg nog

To dress the table I used a white table cloth, tied the napkins with red and white twine and a sprig of thyme and placed white crepe myrtles into two glass jars.

Napkin dressed in twine and thyme
Entertainment for the night included Santa trivia, various items left outside for Santa and his reindeers, a Very Muppets Christmas followed by the Carols in Melbourne and a stroll around the neighbourhood to check out the lights. 

December 18, 2014

DIY Homemade Christmas Gift - Lolly jar

Here is a quick DIY Homemade Christmas gift that you can make in no time with minimal fuss, using jars, an assortment of lollies, ribbon, tags and stickers.

After thoroughly cleaning and drying the jars I divided the lollies and placed them in the jars. Once full I screwed on the lids and tied gold ribbon around each neck. To add extra sparkle I placed a sticker on each lid.

Alternatively if your lid gives you enough space you can place a customised Thank you or Christmas message sticker onto the lid or you can thread a tag through the ribbon.

December 16, 2014

Decembers Red Pawpaw box

Yesterday I was delighted to find my December Red Pawpaw box sitting by the door.

The box contained: 

• Two Mount Franklin bottles of light sparkling water in lemon and lime
• Snapple peach tea
• Praise zero fat balsamic and herb dressing 
• Seven Sundays nutty museli
• Be Natural delux nut bars
• Adriano Zumbo salted caramel Tim Tams
• IXL raspberry jam
• French's classic yellow mustard
• Up and Go oats 2 go

I'm looking forward to sampling the peach tea by Snapple and the Seven Sundays museli, two products I haven't seen instore. 

The IXL jam contains Australian raspberries, a positive for Australian farmers.

December 11, 2014

Throwback Travel Thursday - Guano Point, Grand Canyon

Below is a favourite shot of mine taken almost three and a half years ago at Guano Point, Grand Canyon.

At Guano Point you will find remains from the Bat cave guano (bat dung) mine.

From memory we took a bus tour from Las Vegas to the west rim of the Grand Canyon. It took several hours to reach the Grand Canyon. Thanks to little sleep the day before this time was used to sleep.

The tour included a quick stop at Hover Dam. We were given a few hours at the Grand Canyon  to visit several sites including Eagle Point where you will find the Skywalk and a Native American village, Guano Point and the Hualapai Ranch.

If your planning on visiting Las Vegas, make sure you keep a day free to visit the beautiful Grand Canyon.

December 8, 2014

Let the festivities begin!

The food, the drinks, the parties, the presents, the warm weather, the celebrity chef television specials, Christmas is here!
Ornamental rocking horse and tea light candle holders
 To start the festivities, last week I decorated the inside of the house.

Gold glittery baubles and wooden Pinocchio's that slightly resemble the Elf on the Shelf.
My Christmas collection isn't that big, every year I add to it by buying a piece or two usually before or after Christmas when stock is half priced.

Some of the items in my collection weren't intended from Christmas. The wooden Pinocchio's which slightly resemble the elf on the shelf are left over souvenirs from a trip to Sicily a few years ago. On the same trip I bought the wooden Mary and Jesus ornament from a cute little shop in Berlin.  As for the doves they are salt and pepper shakers, a bombonierre from a cousins wedding. It's amazing what you can turn into a Christmas decoration.

Trinket box and doves

Keeping the main living area traditional I have placed red, green and gold ornaments around the fire place.

Another thrifty decoration is the below lambs tongue foliage from the garden placed in a used jar with some twine wrapped around it.

Twine wrapped around a jar

The rest of the house has been decorated using various shades of blue and a a touch of pink.

Duck egg blue bells star

Angel, Mary and Jesus wooden ornament, left over baubles in a vase

The Christmas tree

December 6, 2014

Pink and gold glitter first birthday party

Last weekend we held Gabby's Pink and Gold glitter themed first birthday party.
With approximately fifty guest and never having held such a large party at home I will admit it was hard work which involved many hours of planning, shopping, decoration making, cooking and cleaning.

Gabby's outfit: Cotton On , My outfit: Tokito dress,Mimco gold glitter headband

I kept the decorations simple by making most of them myself. Using gold flecked twine and pink and gold cardboard cut with a craft punch I made about four meters of garland which I strung to one of the marquees outside.

Each month over the year I have taken a photo of Gabby, in most of these photos she is lying next to a toy which she has quickly outgrown. These photos were displayed using twine, light pink painted wooden pegs and a tab showing the month.

Photos hanging from twine

I stuck pink painted letters spelling ONE on gold glitter bunting from Typo and hung it at the front of the candy buffet.

Candy buffet with Gold glitter and pink letter bunting
Planning the menu was exciting. To ensure the food was perfect there were many practice rounds of mini mac cheese balls, pulled pork and birthday cake leading up to the day.

  Starter platter
Hommus, rice crackers, carrot sticks, celery, capsicum, chips.

Mini toast topped with spinach dip, sun-dried tomato and boccocini
Mini macaroni, cheese and spinach balls
Chicken sausage rolls

Red and white cabbage, carrot and apple slaw
Green salad with pumpkin, avocado, cherry tomato's and feta
Crunchy iceberg, shallot and noodle salad
Vegetarian lasagna
Potato bake
Pulled pork
Red Rooster chicken
Bread rolls

Pavlova topped with passionfruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries and blueberries
Fruit salad - watermelon, strawberries, mango, green grapes
Malteser slice
Mini milk and white chocolate mousse
Birthday cake - vanilla and strawberry sponge with jam and cream filling and pink butter cream icing
Magnolia cupcakes topped with pink butter cream

Candy buffet
Caramel buds
Rocky road
Pink jelly beans
Pink musk sticks
Pink smarties
Starburst baby lollies

Appletiser with slices of lime and blueberries
Beer, wine, soft drink, water, juice

From top: Crunchy noodle salad, green salad, coleslaw, potato bake

Cake, cupcakes, Pavlova, Fruit salad

Birthday cake, four alternating layers of vanilla & strawberry sponge, jam & cream filling, pink butter cream & pink smarty topping

Mini milk and white chocolate mousse, Malteser slice
Our young guests had fun playing with Gabby's toys and having a game of pass the parcel. Being such a hot day some of them enjoyed playing with the water table outside, whilst others enjoyed the swing (pictured below).

Table and chairs from DancePartyHire
A big thank you to my mother, mother in law and sister in law for their lovely dishes, DancePartyHire for the table, chairs and marquees, Belinda for taking photos of the day and to all the guests for their lovely well wishes and gifts for Gabby.

December 3, 2014

Rocky Road

Over the weekend we celebrated Gabby's first birthday by holding her a party.

Being a lover of sugar it was the perfect excuse to make lots of sweet treats which included mini mousses, Malteser slice, cupcakes, cake and my favourite the Rocky Road.

Wanting to stay clear of peanuts which aren't friendly to all I choose to fill my Rocky Road with Oreo biscuits, Starburst mixed berry lollies and marshmallows.

To begin I lined a large baking dish with grease proof paper. I than spread the marshmallows, lollies and crushed Oreo's throughout the dish.

In a stainless steal bowl over a pot of simmering water I melted three bags of Cadbury milk chocolate melts. I than poured the melted chocolate into the dish and placed it in the fridge to set.

To easy and yummy too!

December 2, 2014

Creamy sundried tomato and chicken fettucine - Thermomix

Using left over cooked chicken, tonight I whipped up this quick, easy and delicious pasta in my Thermomix.

1 brown onion
1 clove garlic
4 sprigs parsley
65g sundried tomato
1 medium sized zucchini, chopped into large pieces
30g olive oil
125g cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
300g water
200g pouring cream
1 tbsp vegetable stock paste
250g fettucine
Parmesan cheese to serve

1. Place onion, garlic and parsley into mixing bowl and chop on speed 7 for 3 seconds. Scrape side of bowl.
2. Add sundried tomato and zucchini and chop at speed 5 for 3 seconds. Scrape side of bowl.
3. Add olive oil and saute for 3 minutes at 120 degrees at speed 1.
4. Add cherry tomatoes, chicken, water, cream and vegetable stock and cook for 10 minutes at 100 degrees at speed 1.
5. Halve dried fettuccine and add to bowl. Making sure fettucine is submerged in liquid cook for 8-10 minutes at 100 degrees, reverse soft speed.
Note: pasta may require an additional 1-3 minutes cooking time.
6. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Note: Pre cooked chicken can save an enormous amount of time when cooking, however it is important to be safe and avoid any unnecessary illness by following the recommended storage and reheating guidelines. Guidelines can be found on the NSW food authority website.