Saturday, April 30

Tell me how you spoil yourself and win $250 to spend at Myer plus $250 worth of Lindt!

Spoiling yourself is so relative isn't it?

I remember spoiling myself would be going on a holiday or buying myself a designer label... going to a three-hatted restaurant.  These days spoiling myself may mean a hair cut, new underwear or a few hours to myself to read in peace.

Regardless of whether you're a mother or not, on a budget or not everyone needs spoiling every now and then - giving yourself permission to be spoiled is a struggle for me at times, but we all deserve it - I think a little bit of spoiling can put things in perspective and make the daily grind 'do-able' again.

So my friends I think you all need a bit of spoiling, and so do Lindt - they've given me a package of a $250 basket of chocolate goodness plus a $250 Myer voucher for you to well and truly spoil yourself.  And friends I mean YOU.  Not new pyjamas for your little one, not a birthday present for your auntie... this needs to be all about YOU.

So to enter you need to:
  • Leave me a comment here telling me how you will spoil yourself with this prize
  • An extra entry if you post a separate comment telling me how you like to spoil yourself for  under $10
  • Enter only once in the above two methods
  • There will other ways to enter too - find out on 16th May!
  • Entries close 31st May 2011
  • Entry open to those with an Australian postal address

Now, if that's not enough, Lindt are also giving away 5 x  1,000 photo sessions with Lindt Lindor for Mother's day. Join Lindt on Facebook  - to submit your entry before 8th May!

Good luck and share this with people you think need some spoiling! xxx

Our local sushi joint and how to make make-shift kids' chopsticks

I love to make sushi but sometimes on a whim or when I have a craving that can't be cured by at home sushi (i.e. shopping and time constraints) we head to our local sushi joint.  It's been there about a year now and I hope it never leaves (an issue with small local shop community).

It has a good lunch trade as I found out and has a cute little 'self service' fridge at the front - I've used this sometimes when wanting to pick up something enroute home for afternoon tea.  But my favourite is eating in.

The first time we visited the waitress 'made' the frills some chopsticks.  They had tried to use chopsticks a few times up until that point, and gave up in frustration. This cured them and now every time we go somewhere where chopsticks are available I whip them up a set.

You need - chopsticks, serviette and rubber bands - something every japanese joint should have!

1.  First of all, tear off 1/4 of the serviette and fold up to a shape almost the same thin-ness of the chopsticks.

2.  Put the serviette between the chopsticks 

3.   Secure it with the rubber band - try and twist it in between and around the tip if you can.

That's the last of our baby cucumber sushi - 6 pieces for $3

Sushi rolls are made on request if you like - I like my tempura prawn sushi without avocado, and with mayo so they make it up for me on the spot.  The prawns are freshly tempura'ed and melty warm inside the sushi - and our girls love teriyaki chicken sushi $4 per roll, chopped up on request.

And we love some spring rolls - these have cabbage, carrots and peas inside. $7 for 8 of them.

What's your favourite local eat-in place or sushi place?

Friday, April 29

Cut out Wills and Kate Paper Dolls!

I think I'm going to print these for the frills today who are SO excited about the Royal wedding...!  
Here's some paper dolls of William and Kate you can colour in AND cut out to make into paper dolls, or just use them for colouring in (and here's the ones you can just cut out if you don't want to colour)

How cute are these?  Disney certainly knows how to do a princess don't they!?

Are your kids excited?

Make it yourself - Chinese five spice

I really dislike it when I'm making a recipe and it calls for a herb or spice and I don't have it.  Especially when it's a public holiday.  But that's not always a reason to despair because sometimes, you might just find you have the contents of this spice mix in your pantry already - you just didn't realise.

And today, I'm showing you a such a situation - I had no chinese five spice for the smoked salmon spring rolls (if you're having a wedding get-together tonight I will suggest those as a posh but easy option). So I got the help of Mr google to help me find a recipe and I found a few, but I kind of mucked about a bit and made it this way:

1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 whole cloves
1 whole star anise

Place in a mortar and pestle, grind well.  Sieve through a tea strainer or sieve.  Store in an airtight container.

So friends, do you make up your own spice mixes?

Wednesday, April 27

Recipe: Easy royal wedding cupcakes

I am a sucker for a royal wedding.  Yes I am.

When Charles and Diana married in 1981 I was ten years old and I had my hair cut like Princess Diana.  It's nice to see that fantasy play out for someone.  When Mary married Fredrick - Eloise my eldest was three weeks away from being born so I stayed up that night drinking copious amounts of banana smoothies, sobbing with hormonal joy.

Now I have three little princesses of my own.

And they are excited.  It could have something to do with all the television coverage.  It could have something to do with Mummy talking about it with her friends all the time.  It might also have something to do with the little cupcakes I'll be making them to eat whilst they watch it on Saturday.

Mummy's going to watch it with her friends in a posh hat, a champagne and these cupcakes too.

Whilst I'm all about Australia becoming a republic one day, simultaneously I believe I'm a royalist.  My heritage is somewhat British and when I was 21 I left Australia's beautiful shores in the middle of summer and landed myself in London.  It was a balmy two degrees when I arrived.  But the cold never bothered me.  I won't lie I did wear a t-shirt the day it peaked over ten degrees, and laughed when my mates at the local pub declared it a 'heatwave' when it hit twenty nine degrees.

I still miss London so very much.  I did all the touristy things in the year that I lived there - Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, War Cabinet Rooms, Victoria and Albert Museum and of course - Westminster Abbey.  In fact I visited Westminster Abbey the day I landed.

So whilst I am an Aussie through and through a part of my heart will always live in London. 

Onto the cupcakes!

You'll need: 
  • 12 cupcakes of any sort you like - I made some using my basic vanilla cake recipe
  • 300g ready to roll or orchard icing (fondant)
  • Icing sugar
  • Blue food colouring
  • 4 raspberry lollies (that's red jelly candies of any type if you're not Australian!)
  • Silver cachous
Ensure your cupcakes are cold.

Take 200g of your ready to roll icing and add a tsp of blue food colouring.  Using gloves is advisable, unless you want to look like a smurf in reverse (i.e. blue hands). Don't follow my lead .. still trying to get it out of my fingernails. Ahem.

If the icing gets a bit sticky, just add some icing sugar - use like flour to pastry... roll out and cut with a glass/cutter just a little bit bigger than the top of your cupcakes, place on top and tuck in the edges.

Next, roll out the plain white icing then use a bottle top or in my case I've used an icing tip to cut out three small circles.  Place this on the cake, then add a small strip of icing cut with a knife.  

Lastly add some raspberry/red jelly lolly/candy and three cachous on the strip.  I cut raspberry lolly with a sharp knife on an angle to give it a 'jewel-like' quality.  

Food Mag Files - May 2011

Hello food/magazines (or food magazine) addicts!  All the magazines are about carbs this month - hardly surprising given we all love a bit of comfort food as the weather gets cooler.  I never cease to be amazed by the craftmanship of each issue - the photography, the layout, the content, the cohesion of an issue is a truly a work of art in itself - and I know we're talking about magazines here and not works of fine art but since going behind the scenes, I am looking at these magazines now with fresh pairs of eyes.  

Now onto the issues this month!

Good Food

This magazine for me is going from strength the strength - again with a large celebrity contingent like last month - and sharing achievable - homestyle recipes - it's a winning formula.  The photography style of this magazine is fresh without being clinical.

I know some of you love souffles - Manu shows you all about souffles this month and there's a number of variations too.  The cover recipe is Gary Mehigan's minestrone, which inspired me to make my own this month too.

My favourite spread in Good Food this month is the focus on almonds - not only as a dessert but in mains and a great alternative for those gluten free folk.  I adore almonds (I think you may have worked that out right?) so there's a few recipes there I'd like to try - most notably the flourless coconut and almond cake.

Donna Hay - Autumn issue

I love Donna Hay and the magazine but I have to say this issue feels a bit weak to me.  Gosh those donuts on the cover totally have me salivating but the issue as a whole left me a bit luke-warm. Can't quite put my finger on it - though there's nothing bad about it I just expect more 'wow' these days.

There was a lot of recipes that seemed more about styling than taste .... it could be as simple as that (and I'm such a visual person!)  but the recipes that stand out to me is the series on steamed puddings.... I'm so doing at least one of these!

Super Food Ideas

It's the Italian issue this month and what I love about Super Food Ideas is how it can cater to so many but at the same time cater to minorities.  The gluten-free focus on Italian is a great example of this.  I am also giving the smoked fish and corn chowder a try... :)

Masterchef Magazine

Well I suppose it's the last ditch effort to put Callum and Adam on the cover because there will be a whole bunch of fresh faces next month when Masterchef resumes.  I'm undecided if I will continue my subscription as I can't relate to 80% of the recipes in the past few issues.

I'm hoping the inclusion of Matt Moran as a new judge hopefully injects some more relate-ability for me - if his recipe for chocolate and pear tart this month is anything to go by - I'm hopeful.

Recipes +

This issue is consistent - it's got attractive recipes and they are quite easily relate-able - but not a lot with wow factor - the recipes that caught my eye was the upside-down cake feature with pineapple, coconut and rhubarb.

Australian Good Taste
Australian Good Taste are taking us on a culinary journey around the world this issue - lots of recipes for those of you with tagines (and even if you don't you can easily adapt) and overall I have to say if you love flavour - this is an issue you'll use a lot.

My favourite (and this would be no surprise to my long term readers!) is that that HOORAY... there is a 'how to make your own curry paste' feature.  How I have waited for this!  I make mine where I can and I'm always on the hunt for more paste recipes!  Thank you Michelle! xx
 And next month - I'm in Australian Good Taste - I can't wait to share the issue with you - I went to the cover shoot last month and I tasted the cover recipe GOOD!

Do you have any favourites this month?  An issue you've got your eye on or a recipe you've tried?

Tuesday, April 26

Thank you for visiting... a little bit about me...

I'm Melissa, but everyone calls me Liss.
Well that's unless you're one of my kids (aka 'The Frills') they call me Mama or Mummy.

I don't do things by halves
One week after I got married to my GSH (Gorgeous Sexy Husband) we discovered we were going to be parents.

At our first anniversary lunch, 3 month old Eloise came along!
She helped me understand what life was all about.

We didn't go out for our second anniversary, because I was too tired - that happens when you have a 15 month old and are 6 months pregnant with twins doesn't it?

Our (very) spontaneous fraternal twins Laura and Olivia arrived 18 months after their big sister.

So, needless to say, parenthood has been a little intense. 3 babies under 2 is enough to well and truly break your spirit but I'm pleased (and proud!) to say it made us stronger as a couple and although a little intense at the beginning, it is now starting to pay off dividends - meaning the frills share similar interests from an early age and we are not waiting for the 'baby to grow up'. It gives us much more freedom these days.

Today our frills are almost seven and five.  Eloise started school in 2010, and I've just farewelled my 'bebes' to school this year. (whaaah!)  They are all our pride and joy.

I love to cook - 
I used to hold regular dinner parties, social barbeques, gatherings. Dinner parties are not so frequent but I do still love to cook for people. It's an extension of who I am. I love great produce. I love experimenting. I involve my kids in my cooking and hope they grow up with the love of food like I have. Largely due to both my parents being amazing cooks themselves and exposing us to all types of cuisine and eating experiences.

I love trying new things. Luckily, so does my family because I they don't get a choice. I'm a self-confessed cookbook JUNKIE. I buy all the cooking magazines. It's not a problem..... (unless you ask my hubby)

and to that end.... I love to eat. I love that we grow our own vegetables and that our kids have a firm understanding about where food comes from. We shop directly at farmgate for produce and abbatoir for our meat, and other than that try to buy all Australian produce. It's not always possible, but where there's a choice, there's no choice.

Hubby and I love to eat out, we used to do it alllllot.  We're slowly reintroducing ourselves to restaurant and 'grown up' outings... it's been a long time coming!

I cook where I can from scratch - I have an innate need to know what I'm eating, what's in it, where it comes from and find much joy in creating something I'd usually buy and not only save money doing so, I can then make it when I feel like it!

Why 'Frills in the Hills'?..

In June 2007 we moved here to Terrey Hills. We needed some room to grow with three little girls and hubby was a country boy yearning to get out of the 'Big Smoke'. Terrey Hills was a great compromise as I am the 'city girl' and was still close-ish to the city and work opportunities and we now have a country-town atmosphere for the kids to grow up in. It's a wonderful community.

My blog is my outlet

My blog started as a new year's resolution in early 2009 - one year earlier I had experienced a near death situation.   I realised that had I died, my frills probably wouldn't remember me. Bit sad right?  I wanted to record the things that I wanted them to know about me - what I thought, how I spoke, my favourite recipes. I never expected it to become to mean so much to me - it's grown into not only my legacy, but my community (facebook and twitter is an extension of that).

I have also have been able to experience some amazing things and meet wonderful people because of this blog - I am so grateful.  It is my personal cookbook, my nostalgia and also a place in cyberspace to have a 'brain dump'. I hope you don't mind!

The one where I admit my hubby was right: Oven baked smoked salmon spring rolls

Well as I was scouring the internet last week looking for a use for some extra smoked salmon I had (I bought a good amount for blinis I'd made but had leftovers) and I came across these - and I was a little dubious but as I called it out to hubby he was very enthusiastic:

'They sound yummy' he said
'You really think so? Fish in a spring roll?  In the oven?'  I wasn't so convinced.  Ironic given I'm the fish-lover in the family.

So hubby went out to the garden and picked some spring onions and coriander and I popped the oven and got chopping. 

Well my hubby was right (If he reads this I'm sure he'll print it for future reference....!) these are delicious and definitely would be fabulous for a canape or entree or just a treat.  Really delicious.

Ingredients: (makes 24)
250g smoked salmon, roughly chopped
2 tb mayonnaise
2 sprig coriander, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
pinch of chinese five spice
8 sheets filo pastry
50gr butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c

Mix together the salmon, mayonnaise, coriander, spring onons and five spice together, set aside

Melt butter in a small bowl or cup in the microwave

Wet a teatowel with cold water and wring out the excess, have on standby.

Layout your pastry on the bench and cut into thirds lengthwise.  Carefully wrap 2/3 of the pastry in the teatowel to keep the pastry moist whilst you make the spring rolls.

Brush each piece with the melted butter and place 2 tsp of the mixture towards the end of the pastry...

fold the pastry inwards to cover the ends..

Then roll up to make the roll shape.

Brush outer with butter... and place on some greaseproof paper-lined tin.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden... serve with some soy sauce and eat when warm and crispy!

Do you admit when your other half is right?  Do they take delight in it and vice versa?

Monday, April 25

Creamy, Cheesey and totally easy (and not totally sinful) beef cannelloni

Well I'm well and truly getting into the comfort food but I'm also trying not to go overboard actually.  This looks mega-creamy and mega-cheesey but infact, not so bad.  I've used low fat ricotta, mozzarella and tasty cheese.    So eating it you can totally fool yourself that you've done something very bad, but you actually haven't.  I really do equate the quality of a cannelloni to the amount of cheese - specifically ricotta. I want it to melt in my mouth.  I want to feel comfort and joy.

My hubby who is not really a fan of cannelloni said this one was the best one I'd ever made and he had seconds - so that gave me some extra joy - I hope you get comfort and joy from this recipe too.

300g beef mince
400g low fat ricotta cheese
2 tb fresh grated parmesan cheese
Handful baby spinach, roughly chopped/torn
1 packet pasta sheets or 1 quantity of homemade pasta
400g tin diced tomatoes
6 large basil leaves or 2 average stalks of basil
2 stalks fresh oregano
1 clove garlic
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup light tasty cheese
1/2 cup light mozzarella cheese

In a bowl mix the mince, ricotta, parmesan and spinach with a bit of salt and pepper.

Layout pasta sheet (I actually cut 1/3 of mine off because you want it to just overlap a bit not a lot) and spread a sausage like line of mixture in the middle.  Roll and lay in a greased baking tray.

Continue until you run out of mixture.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees c

In a blender or food processor - blend tomatoes, basil and oregano until liquified, set aside.

In a saucepan, fry onion and garlic until translucent.

Add the puree and the evaporated milk, bring to a boil and then pour sauce over your cannelloni.

Sprinkle tasty, mozzarella and remaining parmesan, cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

It's sooo melty in the mouthy!

So friends, what's your comfort food?  Chocolate? Soup? Something creamy or cheesy?


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