Tuesday, August 31

Activity Report: Fire safety fun for the kids

We're going to miss playgroup next year.  OK, maybe I will miss it the most.  With the last two Frills going off to school next year I'll miss our Thursday routine of playgroup.    In this semi-rural community we really do pitch in and help each other - extend friendships to newcomers and although we all may be different in our own ways, we always seem to find a common ground.

Some of these lovely ladies I see daily in the school playground at drop off and pick up and over the years to come more and more will join us at our wonderful local school - that's why I love living where we live - we're so connected by the love of this wonderful place we live - here in the Hills.

Last week at playgroup we had the local fire brigade come to visit and although this is fun based on the  novelty factor alone - living where we do live - surrounded by national parkland, it's an important education too.

Laura was beside herself 'Mummy I'm going to be a firefighter when I grow up!'  I asked Olivia what she thought.  She looked at me with almost a roll in her eye:  "Muuuum.  I'm going to be a Musketeer!!' (like that's even an option...?) Okay then........

The firefighters were fantastic.  They showed us about all of the hoses, explained how the pump worked, and the alarming amount of water they carry!  We they also ran us through safety procedures - what to do if you think your house is on fire, how to call the emergency etc.

And here's their captive audience!

Then all the kids got to have a turn of the hose!  This is my Laura..bless!

And Olivia, she was initially a bit scared but once she was on there, she didn't want to get off! 

The smile says it all! 

They also got to have photos taken 'driving' the fire truck.  Unfortunately my camera died (I sooo need a new camera!) .. I think one of my playgroup mates took a few for me.  Yay.

Do your kids know about fire safety?

Lunchbox Legends: Easy peasy gluten free slice

I'm sure there's some of you out there who are either coeliac or have kids who are.. so I thought I'd try a gluten-free lunchbox legend this week!

Even if you're not coeliac, it's yummy.  I thought my manly husband would turn his nose up at it.  Umm no.  I've had to hide it as he's had 3 pieces in one day!  Don't be put off if you don't have gluten free self raising flour, just substitute the GF self raising flour in this recipe for 1 cup regular self raising.

It really doesn't get any easier than this!  There's no butter in this either - so not-so-much fat.

1 3/4 cups gluten free self raising flour (I used the Aldi brand)
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins (or sultanas or even freeze dried strawberries if you like - get creative!)
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together either with stand mixer or by hand.  Ensure the mixture is thick but not stiff, add flour or milk as necessary to ensure the right consistency. (GF flour can differ depending on the brand)

Pour mixture into greased slice tray.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown on top.  Check if cooked through using skewer method.

Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then slice into desired sizes.  Great with a cuppa too!

Monday, August 30

Cheeki BPA free water bottle giveaway

I've always been a fan of the Sigg bottle but found them a tad on the expensive side, especially when you have daughters like mine who tend to lose them on occasion!  Then last weekend at the Organic Expo I met the lovely people from Cheeki and learned all about their bottles.  Not aluminium like the Sigg - all bottles are made with food grade stainless steel with non-toxic exterior ink.  But also half the price!

What I particularly love about this brand is the lids and the handles for kids.  They are much more kid-friendly and you can buy replacement parts rather than just having to buy the whole bottle again (that IS annoying isn't it!?).   Also they have great optional neoprene covers too - which makes it easier to grip for the little ones and soaks up any condensation, so no sweaty bottles in your bag!

So my friends - Cheeki are doing a bit of a giveaway here this week!

We have FIVE packs to give away valued at $44.85 each!
Simply go to Cheeki's site and tell me which kids design and 500ml design you like the best and you could win one of each complete and insulated cover for the kids' design.

If you want to buy one straight away and hedge your bets on winning extra bottles, you can do so from Shop Naturally (who incidentally have some discounted at the moment, get in quick!).

Boring bits
- you must have an Australian postal address to enter
- one entry per person per day
- I'll need to be able to contact you so if I can't contact you through your linked up blog, please supply an email address
- giveaway entries close midnight Sunday 5th August
- goodluck! 

Beef and vegetable spiral pie

Who can believe it's nearly spring?  Wow!  I love spring!  

Well this one is good hot or cold, so good to put in the menu plan for any time of the year.  It's a great way to use up leftovers too.  You could substitute the filling I've used with curry, casserole whatever you like!  Just make double and set half aside as this filling (or make smaller individual pies for lunch if you like!)

The great thing about this is it really doesn't take a lot of time and the results look fab - plus it's an 'all in one meal' no accompaniments needed!

2 tb olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 large potato, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
5 medium sized mushrooms, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or tsp dried)
1 large tomato, diced
2 tb barbeque sauce
1 tsp gravy powder
1/2 tsp pepper
500g minced beef
1 egg
3 pieces frozen puff pastry

egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 tb milk

Place oil, onion, carrot, celery, potato, peas, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and chopped rosemary into a saucepan - heat over low heat until the carrots and potato starts to soften.  Set aside.

Set out your three pieces of puff pastry side-by-side and join edges together once slighty defrosted.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees c

Place beef and egg into a bowl with pepper, gravy powder, bbq sauce and the cooked and cooled vegetables.  Mix together with hands.

Place the mixture onto the pastry in a sausage-like shape.

Tuck inwards the ends...

And then roll up the pastry until it becomes a long sausage.

Roll into a coil and place on a greased tray.  Brush with egg wash.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Serve with your favourite sauce or chutney!

Don't forget to drop by this afternoon, I have a cool giveaway happening!

Sunday, August 29

Sunday Baking Project: Cafe style banana bread

When we go out for coffee/afternoon tea we regularly buy the frills banana bread.  It's good to break up and share, a lot of the time it's the lesser of all evils when you are faced with choices of chocolate mud cake and caramel slice.

I have to tell you - this one is the real deal.  I can't stop raving about it!  I'm never having this at a cafe again if I can help it - it costs approx $5.00 a loaf to make (probably less actually) rather than than the $3.00 a slice I've been paying for it... I'm loving how easy it is to make too!

Personally I love it with toasted with butter, but a good friend of mine loves hers toasted with nutella... each to their own!.. What about you? Banana bread fan?  Toasted?  Butter? Honey? Peanut butter? Or is it...nutella?

Cafe Style Banana Bread
(adapted recipe from Donna Hay)


1 cup raw caster sugar (fine raw sugar - you can use regular but the raw gives it a nicer taste I think!)

1/4 cup brown sugar,
4-5 medium sized bananas
125g melted butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups self raising flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c

In a food processor, place sugars, bananas, butter, eggs, cinnamon and sour cream.  

Process until smooth.

Add flour and process for a further 1 minute until silky smooth.

Place into a well-greased loaf tin and bake for 55 minutes - 1 hour 5 mins, check by using the skewer method.

Cool on tray.  When completely cooled, slice and store in an airtight container for 5 days or up to 2 months in the freezer, defrost 1 slice at a time.

Saturday, August 28

Party Palooza #5 - Layered birthday cake - Guest post by Danielle from Danimezza!


Danielle is a self-confessed packet mix queen.  But like a lot of Mums when her baby approached his first birthday she felt it was time to take that rite of passage - make the cake from scratch!  (I remember is well!)  

Danielle shows us in this guest post how to make this very impressive layered cake!

Danielle writes:

I've admitted on my blog that I'm a glorified cake mix queen, I love me some Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake (I even made a 2 tier wedding cake using it) but for Aidan's birthday I wanted to add some homemade love.

Donna Hay is one of my main go-to girls when it comes to recipes (besides Liss of course!)  and it didn't take much to be inspired by her latest Kids Annual Issue. I decided to make her "Basic Melt and Mix Vanilla and Chocolate Cake".

2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1 3/4 cups (275g) caster sugar
250g butter, melted
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

Buttercream Frosting
4 cups icing sugar
100g butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 160 degrees.

Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla in a large bowl and mix until well combined. I separated the mix into two bowls, 1/3 in one bowl (add 1 teaspoon blue food die) 2/3 in the other, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa.

Pour batter into lightly greased and lined round cake tins. (I also use bake even strips, they really are magic and help keep the layers of the cake an even height). 

Bake cakes in preheated oven for 25 minutes (blue cake) and 45 (chocolate cake) or until cooked through. Cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. 

Mix the butter, milk and icing sugar together to make frosting.

Cut the chocolate cake into 2 layers and lay the first layer on a platter.

Cover first layer with frosting and lay the blue cake on it then cover that with frosting and place the last layer of chocolate cake on top.

Now you're ready to do the crumb layer, which is just a thin coat of frosting to keep those annoying bits of cake crumb ruining your pristine finish. I usually let it set in the fridge for a few minutes then I cover the whole cake in frosting.

I chose to use the smallest drop of blue food dye in the frosting so it matched the blue layer of cake.

Once the cake was fully frosted I covered the it with little white chocolate buttons from Aldi and wrote "Happy Birthday Aidan" with a tube of white chocolate fudge (You can get the fudge tube in the cake aisle at the supermarket. The slender candles are from BigW and the number 1 candle from spotlight in the craft aisle)
Voila! Here is the masterpiece!

And Master Aidan enjoying it!

I know I'll have requests for choo-choo train and Spiderman cakes in the future but right now I'm proud of my efforts and everyone at his party gave the cake rave reviews... especially the birthday boy!

Thanks so much Danielle!  Guys head over to DaniMezza to catch up on more of Danielle's daily adventures including Aidan's birthday pics and official birthday report!

Friday, August 27

Frugal Fast Food: American style corn dogs

I know, I know, you're thinking 'why didn't she do the battered sav?' Right?

Well I do love me a battered sav but I've had one of these once and thought it was a nice change. It's not as 'dough-y' either.  I like the taste of the cornmeal (polenta) too.  It takes literally about 10 minutes to make 6 of these.  They would be great for birthday parties or a grand-final party I reckon (few of those coming up!)

(cost - approximately $4.50 for 6 corndogs)
6 long frankfurts - uncooked
6 sticks/thick skewers - you could use some unstained wooden chopsticks too.
1 egg
1/4 cup fine polenta
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tb caster sugar
1 pinch salt

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Place your sticks/skewers in some water (this will prevent them from burning when cooking later)

In a jug mix egg, polenta, flour, milk, sugar and salt.  Stir well with a fork until well combined.  Pour into a tall glass.

Place the oil in a large frypan or saucepan and begin to heat.
Pierce the end of your frankfurt with your stick and move at least 1/2 way through the length.  Place frankfurt side down into the glass with the batter in and collect as much batter as you can.   You may need to use your fingers to move around the batter evenly, but it will stick.

Place in hot oil for about 1 1/2 minutes on one side, turn over and for another minute on the other side.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with sauce of your choice (just don't wear it all like my Laura seems to like to!)

Nice for a treat right?

It's been a bit of musical chairs around the blogsphere lately.  
Yesterday I blogged over at Childhood 101 - about how to plan and put together a small herb garden with the kids.
Today I have posted at Fat Mum Slim about my little frills.
Tomorrow I have a guest poster doing some Party Palooza with us.
Sunday baking project is going to be very popular I think - can't wait to show you all!

Have a wonderful weekend all! xx

Season Savvy Challenge Week 13 - Mushrooms

Wow, that's 3 months of season savvy - a whole season!  We've linked up 169 recipes!  I hope you've used at least one?!

This week we're onto mushrooms - my girls love mushrooms.  I know, it's weird for a kid to love mushrooms, but hey, they love brussel sprouts too - what can I say!

So get a-linking my friends!

What is Season Savvy?
I'm all about using seasonal produce. When it's good. When it's plentiful, when it's cheap.

Each week I'm challenging you to use a particular piece of produce that is SEASONAL. Now if you're in a different season to me, don't panic. Maybe you have cooked something before with this ingredient, add it and play along....

Hopefully this way, we can use this as a bit of inspiration/education and show off what you can cook, and save some moulah!

So what do you need to do?
1. Find a recipe you love or a way you love to eat and cook with mushrooms - it doesn't need to be the main ingredient, but it needs to be in the dish.. and it doesn't need to be fancy either!
2. Make it or find the link
3. Photograph it and/or share the recipe
(it doesn't need to be-step-by-step photos!)
4. Post your link down there with the Linkytool down below
5. Get visited, and visit other people's recipes!

Thursday, August 26

Winner - cookware.com $60 voucher!

Thank you everyone who entered!  What a lovely lot of entries!  I've been so inspired you've had me cooking out of my cast iron ware nearly all week - I love it so!

So without any further a-do - the entry my lovely Olivia picked out of a bowl today was...

Herbs anyone?

I know it's been aaages since I did a garden update, I promise there will be one soon!

In the meantime pop on over to Christie's place (Childhood 101) where I've blogged today about starting a herb garden - it doesn't matter how much space or how black your thumb is - there's some inexpensive and practical tips!

Let me know what you think!

Simple decadence - chicken pot roast

I'm a bit pot-roast crazy at the moment aren't I?  I've never tried it with a chicken and I'm surprised at how well it turned out - this is even less work than the usual roast chicken (i.e. stuff, bung it in the oven, make gravy etc) because there was no peeling of vegetables, no making gravy.  It all happens for you.  I expected leftovers with this one, but it was not to be, hubby and the kids had 2nd helpings!

Chicken (I used a Lilydale size 18 chicken)
2 bread rolls
2 tb chopped fresh or 1 tb dried sage
1 tb chopped fresh or 2 tsp dried parsley
125g salted butter
2 large brown onions, peeled and halved
1 leek, chopped in 1 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, chopped in 1 inch pieces
5-6 small new potatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
Few sprigs thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Find a pot with a lid that you chicken fits in comfortably.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees c

In a food processor process bread rolls until becomes breadcrumbs.  Add 1/2 chopped onion, sage, a good lashing of pepper and 80g of the butter.  Process until sticks together.

Stuff into cavity of chicken and place in pot.

Separate the skin from meat on the breast of the chicken with your fingers - Place 30 grams of butter under the surface of the skin.  Rub remaining butter on top of your chicken.

Place cut vegetables and bay leaves around the chicken and then pour the wine over the top, and 3/4 cup of water.  Lastly sprinkle thyme on top of chicken and put lid on, place in oven.

After two hours take the lid off and return to oven for 25 minutes to crisp up.

Serve!  The self-made gravy will be on the bottom of your pot - and the chicken is very soft and the vegetables take on the wonderful flavour of the gravy.  Serve with some steamed beans or greens of your choice.

Wednesday, August 25

Back to basics - Banana cake

Have you noticed how cheap bananas are getting at the moment?  I got a couple of kilos the other day when they were SIXTY-NINE-CENTS a kilo! I freeze bananas if I can't eat them - so I knew they wouldn't be wasted but I needed a make-and-stash-cake.

What's is that you ask?

I like having a cake either cut up for school lunches or hubby's morning tea - or one whole wrapped in a good amount of glad wrap in the freezer.  It's easy to pull out, defrost overnight, and ice in the morning.  Perfect to take to a morning tea or for a last minute play-date.  I love me a make-and-stash-cake.

I made this one in the food processor - it does make it a bit fluffy and I'm really pleased with how it turned out!  Make it with beaters though if you don't have one - it will still work!

110g butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
5 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 tsp bicarb soda

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c

In your food processor, place the butter and sugar in the bowl, fix the lid and process until creamed.  The butter will go a pale yellow.

 Add eggs one at a time and pulse until all combined.  Add bananas, then flour and process for about 1 minute until smooth.
Lastly add the bicarb to the milk, and pour the milk into the processor.  process for 20 seconds until well combined.

Pour into a well-greased baking tin and bake for 40 minutes - test using skewer method.

Isn't licking the bowl the best part?


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