Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My poor neglected bathroom

Urgh my poor bathroom.  It's not a very big one.  Our home was built in '69 so we don't have the luxury of two bathrooms nor do we have a bath. It's certainly not an ugly bathroom and has reasonably modern fixtures.  It's just small.

And now for a little disclosure eeeek I thought we had cream tiles in the shower!  I clean them weekly and the only thing I notice is the scum build up is less when I clean.  Well either I haven't been using enough elbow grease or the right cleaner.  Today I get into it with a new product and the new hose my hubby 'built' for me (think garden hose attached to the sink with a spray head on it) and scrubbed my butt off!  Actually Matilda commented that my butt was jiggling!! Out of the mouths of babes!!  So this new cleaner is 'amazeballs' because under years, probably decades of ground in soap scum we actually have white tiles!!  Well there you go! 

I also decided the bathroom was also long overdue for a clean out and organising.  Hubby is always commented on how much stuff I have in the cupboard.  But it's one of those things that you notice when you're getting ready in the morning and only remember again the next morning. 

There are no amazing organising tips on offer here but I love a good before and after...

This is my drawer. No need to show hubby's, his is organised! Freak!! 

Ahhhh that's better, cleaner and more organised. The mesh tray was on clearance at Target. I grabbed it not having a specific use in mind but I knew I'd use it somewhere.

No before for these pics, it was mainly in the baskets that needed work.  The small baskets were repurposed from my drawer, gotta love that!


I purged so much when going through the baskets.  Mainly out of date lotions, very out of date hotel shampoos (our Egypt trip where they came from was in 2007!!)  Just by reorganising I found items I'd 'lost' including expensive anti-wrinkle eye serum (that's hard to admit! It means I'm getting old waaah)

I decided to keep some of the hotel freebies for camping.

The cleaning basket includes a free hotel toothbrush which I use to clean the sink drain.

So that's it, no major organising tips, but I can tell you the difference in just accessing everything is worth the time it took to do.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I Menu Plan Part Two

So in part one of Why I Menu Plan I shared why and how I menu plan.  In this part I thought I would 'deconstruct' this weeks menu and show that it really is simple food.  As much as I like love food, I want it fast, fresh and simple.

This weeks menu, I plan Thursday to Wednesday;

Thursday ~ Steak with chilli chips and cafe de Paris butter
aka Steak and chips :-) The butter was a one off roll of flavoured butter hubby made a little while ago and froze.  We just take slices as we want.

Friday ~ Moroccan lamb, roast vegies and pearl couscous
aka a freezer raid! Just leftovers from two different meals and it was the best!

I LOVE pearl couscous, it has a really gentle texture and Matilda loves it too which is great.  We have it as a side dish with no flavouring, we have it full of flavour - think Moroccan spices, sultanas, apricots, or just soaking up the sauces of the dish.

Saturday ~ fresh pasta with prawns and tomatoes
Recipe & image

Sunday ~ Keith Floyd's Rogan Josh
Keith had a special place in our hearts, having watched his shows and remembering his ads in the 70's (I'm sure it was Continental Cup a Soup) He was always known for cooking and presenting with a glass of wine firmly in his hand. We met him on our honeymoon in Phuket where he had a restaurant at our hotel.  His reputation proceeded him and he was known to be a chain smoking, cranky, wine loving man.  We mentioned we had just been watching his channel in the hotel to which he replied that he'd asked them to turn it off in his room because he didn't want to 'friggin' (obviously not his word) watch himself!  
Anyways I digress, this recipe isn't expensive as we use mutton and throw the whole thing in the pressure cooker.

Monday ~ Chicken, chorizo and potato pie
This is so simple it's not funny! The filling is used to make two pies to feed 6. I made the filling and froze half last week. Add some roast pumpkin and tada, simple.  It is really just four ingredients.  Chicken x 2 fillets, Chorizo sausage x 1, Creamy delight potatoes and a leek.  Oh and 1 sheet of puff pastry.  It is meant to look rustic...
  Their version....

My version...
Oh and the chorizo is supposed to be 'crispy' hahaha

Tuesday ~ Sweet leek risonni with roast tomatoes and oregano
Again, sounds gourmet but really simple.  Risonni is another pasta that I love, it's like a cross between rice and pasta and again not a lot of ingredients and all cooked in two pots.  Even with a dishwasher you gotta love that!

Wednesday ~ Date night

So there you go, while it all looks and sounds labour and $$ intensive, they really aren't.

My final part in this 'series' will be how to make shopping easy, fast and less stressful.

xx Bec

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why I menu plan

Do you dread the "what's for dinner" or "what do you feel like for tea" questions?  I did! I'd ask hubby what he felt like, he'd reply with "he didn't know, what did you feel like?"  Grrrr and then you realise you didn't get anything out of the freezer for that night. 

Enter menu planning.  I've being doing it now for four years and wouldn't change a thing!  I love knowing what we're having & I know what meat I have to get out of the freezer that morning.

It did take a bit of getting used to at first.  And there are some days when I don't feel like what's on the menu for that night and on occasion I'll swap meals around.  That's the beauty of it, it doesn't have to be set in stone.  If we go out on a night we've planned for, I'll simply move that meal to the next day.

I find menu planning does a few things for us ~ there is no waste, just leftovers.  I buy exactly what we need for that recipe.  There's no real impulse purchases, don't get me wrong, treats definitely make it into our trolley and help me if I go shopping hungry!! And the best part ~ it saves my sanity and saves us money.

So what do I do?

I sit down (most times at the local coffee shop ~ two birds with one stone) with the latest food magazines, flick through them checking out the pictures and deciding what looks yummy.  I then look at the recipe, see what we have in the cupboard already and add the items we don't have to the shopping list.  Easy! 

Our menu might look fancy but really I am lazy and if it has too many ingredients I'm not interested haha.  Hubby on the other hand enjoys cooking and puts on music or the food channel, has a glass of wine and will make sauces, pastes etc from scratch (yes I'm lucky he enjoys cooking)  He cooks Friday to Sunday nights.  We have date night every Wednesday.

Now Miss Matilda does eat most things we make, and what is too spicy etc we'll just make her a separate meal from staples we already have in the cupboard.  But really she eats cous cous & loves the Moroccan food Daddy cooks.

Here's one of our recent recipes

This one was crazy easy.  I had found pumpkin and sage ravioli at Coles for $2 a bag so I bought a heap to freeze.  I googled looking for a sauce, and found a really simple creamy truffle sauce and et voila!  Yummo

In part 2 of this post I'll share our latest menu plan and the recipes we'll use.

xx Bec

Monday, April 16, 2012

Daddy & Matilda time

Miss Matilda and Daddy spend alot of time outside together, it's 'their' thing.  The second he get's home Matilda is at the door greeting him, he gets about five minutes to himself before she pushes him outside to play ball or play hide and seek. 

Their current fav thing is spending time in our herb garden.  Matilda loves 'helping' Daddy water (thankfully he doesn't give her the stinky fertiliser water) and eating the strawberries they planted together.  She's always out there checking the progress of them, watching them grow from a flower to something she can eat, seriously cute!

I'm so glad they get to do this together and I love that it gets her outside and she can learn not everything comes from the supermarket.

Our crazy herb garden includes just about everything. Kaffir Lime leaves, Thyme, Tarragon, a Bay tree, Thai Basil, you name it, it's in here.  The secret to its success is it's all on drip retic.

Daddy with the stinky water!! Thankfully it's what makes all this grow!

 Matilda harassing the strawberry patch.  They don't really get a chance to grow the poor things.

Relaxing after their hard work.

The fruits of their labour.  This is a 54L tub.  We keep what we need and give away the rest. 
James also makes pesto with all the basil leaves which is just delish esp being so fresh.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hubby's Birthday

Today is my crazy. annoying wonderful husbands 43rd birthday and last night I invited our family over for a birthday dinner and also a pre-Easter catch up.  We generally have an early catch up if family members are away at Easter or Christmas.  In this case it's his Mum who is heading to Bali for Easter.

So I cooked spaghetti bolognaise for 8 adults and 5 kids.  Now I'm not a fan of 'spag bol' because I just don't love the tomato-y flavour.  But I have found a really yummy recipe, we do omit the livers, actuallly I omit the chicken livers but if hubby is cooking he'll add them according to the recipe. 

We are lucky enough that our herb garden is going crazy so the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and parsley in the recipe garden were super fresh.

Here is the recipe; it's from the delightful Maggie Beer, we love watching old episodes of The Cook and the Chef.

Maggie Beer's Spaghetti Bolognaise (image from Maggie's recipe)

I also picked up a really yummy cake and we shared Easter eggs for desert.

Happy Birthday Habibi, we love you xx

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kids meals

We are really lucky that Matilda isn't a fussy eater.  I've always said you don't have to like everything but you have to at least try it (I used to do this with my boy who is now 19!)  There are things I don't like and won't eat (can't stand peanut butter or peas) so I won't force food onto her. 

Her absolute favourite meal whether it's lunch or dinner is a little mini buffet of cucumber, cheese, crackers and some sort of meat and some fruit. 

Because she has this whenever it fancies her I like to mix it up a bit and go a little crazy with the fondant and cookie cutter, the oohs and wow's tells me that she loves it! 

Here's hubby's version of hamburgers. Cute effort.

And some special Easter lunches this week.

I bought the cookie cutters from Target, 30 cutters for $10 and great timing because there are about five bunny shapes..