Sunday, 20 January 2013

Chilli Con Carne

One of the reason I added a recipe challenge to my list was to inspire me to try new foods, but also to try and change the way we eat.  I've recently discovered The Healthy Chef (recommended to me) and I don't think I'll be looking back!!  Awesome array of recipes and all so good for you!

Last night I trialled Chilli Con Carne.  I have never had it, let alone cooked it - I wasn't sure whether it was going to be a winning recipe in our household but the kids ate it and Ty went back for seconds.  Must have been ok!  I doubled the recipe and we have 4 meals out of it :)

Chilli Con Carne

1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 large grated carrot
2 sticks sliced celery
250 g lean mince (beef, chicken, game meat are all great) - I used beef
1 red capsicum, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400 g tomato puree
400 g cooked red kidney or adzuki beans, drained  - I used red kidney beans
125 g cherry tomato, halved
100 g baby spinach leaves
1 avocado, chopped
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 lime
Chopped red chilli to taste
Sauté the onion carrot and celery for 3 minutes until softened.
Add the spices and mince and cook through for 5 minutes until the mince is browned.
Add the capsicum, tomato paste, tomato puree and beans.
Pour over 2 cups of water.
Simmer over a low – medium heat for 30 minutes until thick.
Season with ground pepper and a little salt add cherry tomato.
Fold in spinach and coriander just before serving.
Spoon into bowls,  top with chilli to taste, avocado and a squeeze of lime.
Enjoy by itself or with a side of steamed green vegetables, brown rice or quinoa. - we had it by itself

Monday, 14 January 2013

Easy Cheesy Muffins

I'm always on the look out for simple, tasty and cheap recipes to try out for the kids lunches.  At home we aren't restricted by allergies as to what we can eat, but at daycare there is a total egg and peanut ban due to having kids in the centre with allergies.  My kids take stock-standard, same ol' same ol' lunches to day care - week in, week out.

I stumbled across this Easy Cheesy Muffin recipe in my facebook-trolling today and with 3 simple ingredients that I keep as a staple, I was able to whip them up.

Cheesy Muffins with delicious fresh herbs
For my test run, I halved the recipe (using 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of tasty cheese), and it made 8 good size muffins.  I didn't hold out a lot of hope for taste and flavour with those basic ingredients, and I didn't really have a lot here in the fridge to add to it.   It needed more.  So I raided my herb garden for some chives, basil and thyme and roughly chopped those (about a tablespoon full I'd say) and added them to the mixture.  I also added a teaspoon of tomato relish, although I imagine corn relish would work equally as well.  I felt that the mixture was too wet, but I left it as was and it was fine - it made for a really nice, moist muffin.  Make sure you grease your tray well though as it's a sticky recipe.

Our new house has a shit oven... so I set it to around the 160C mark and baked for about 20 minutes until they were golden and soft and the knife came out 'clean'.  I think one of my biggest problem with making muffins is that I over cook and essentially dry them out.  Keep an eye on them, golden tops are a good indication of readiness.

I didn't actually take pics of the processes as I actually held little hope they'd work/taste any good.  Woops! Rest assured they were yummy, and the kids also liked them.  I'll whip up a full batch this week and will mix break that in to 3 lots and do different mix ins (bacon and cherry tomato, more of these herb ones, maybe mushroom, herb and brocollini).  Then I'll freeze them up for lunches for Ty and the kids.  Can't go wrong!

I get a thumbs up from Lexi for these ones!

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Night of Bowling (73)

#73 - Take Zavian ten pin bowling with Sarah and Craig

When I lived in Canberra, I always went bowling with Sarah and Craig.  When I first took Tyron to Canberra, we went bowling.  They were there when Lexi first went to a bowling alley, because we went when they were visiting us.  I wanted them to be there when Zavian went bowling for the first time, too!

We visited Canberra in October, and stayed with Sarah and Craig - we made a ten pin bowling date and off we went.  Lexi had been before so she was excited, even more so because this time she got to wear bowling shoes as her feet are finally growing!  Zavian couldn't, but he still was quite excited when we got there.  The noise, lights and music - he loved that!

Zavian takes his first turn - his first time Ten Pin Bowling

Lexi has a turn, too.  They only have one bumper as one is broken!

Too fast for me, Craig!

Zavian watches on as Alexis does her celebration dance

Sarah, Lexi and Craig wait their turns

Zavian has a great time!

Big girl in bowling shoes!

Celebrations for a great bowl!

The kids with Sarah and Craig... not sure what Ty's up to!

Sarah and Zavian - he loves her!

The kids had a combined game, they're under "Warey" with a score of 79

Our little family :)
It was a great night, and as usual, great company.  Zavian had so much fun.  He enjoyed helping Ty line up the stand, and pushing the bowling ball down.  Best of all, he enjoyed when people knocked down pins - and he would laugh and cheer and clap and run up to them to give them a big high five!  Such a champ!

#73 - great fun, great times, great people.  I'm happy that this one came around so early!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Whale Watching (49)

How over due is this?  Well - I scrubbed this one off on October 16th, 2012 :P  Nearly 3 months in the making, this post!

Number 49 on my 101 in 1001 List was to go Whale Watching.  I've always wanted to go Whale Watching, yet despite living on the coast, or near the coast, for a good 10 years I've never gone!  Scoopon offers up some great deals over Whale Watching season, and we took advantage of a fabulous offer from Tallship Island Adventures.  A day cruise that included whale watching, an island stop off for a BBQ lunch and activities and then a cruise back to the marina.  Last year Ty and I did the Island Adventure (second half) of this trip and it was fantastic.

 We had the kids up early, trying to explain to them what we were doing.  Zavian was excited by the boat, and Lexi was excited by everything.  The day had seemed cool to start with so we entirely over dressed!  But it was too late, and in the end we just stripped the kids right down!  We got lucky with clear, lovely weather which made for a smooth boat ride.

The kids eagerly climbed the stairs and we positioned ourselves up the top in a great viewing area.  The boat was packed, so we were lucky to get where we did.  The kids (and us, too) enjoyed a light morning tea as we cruised across the water and then we got to enjoy seeing whales!  It wasn't the greatest day for whale numbers, right at the end of the season.  But it was still great and we still saw a few.  Zavian found it all overwhelming and fell asleep in Ty's arms.  Lexi enjoyed looking out for whales and pointing them out.  She found an elderly lady and made friends with her.  It was so great to take the kids, they really enjoyed the boat and the experience.  I'd happily take them again!  We had a couple of shy whales who didn't do too much, just avoided us really!  When I was starting to think the day was a total flop, a mama and her baby came along and put on a bit of a show for us, breaching and creating lots of splashes.

Looking out over Gold Coast
Ty and the kids wait to get moving

Lexi and her friend discuss how big the whales were

Little man finds the whole adventure a bit too much!

Lexi finds a hidey spot at everyones feet with prime position for viewing

A shy whale!

These two stayed around to play
A mama and her baby show off for us

 After seeing the whale we went to South Stradbroke Island to McLarens Landing.  The area is set up with a bar, a BBQ buffet, heaps of tables in an island set up (it's a great wedding location).  It was right on the waterfront and seeing as we didn't have any other plans and forgot togs, we didn't do any of the water sports or the 4WD tours.  Instead we stripped the kids down and let them swim.  The water was great, there were lots of little kids to play with and one kindly let Lexi and Zavian play with his bucket and spade.  They had so much fun and Ty and I got to chill and enjoy them.

Little show off!

Zavian cops a Lexi-hug

 On the island, the kids had a great time running around and making friends.  They teamed up with a group of Japanese tourists where they posed, danced and ate chocolate with them.  They thought they were the bees knees.  We sat with them on the cruise back too, and the kids played peeka-boo.  I love the way my kids interact with everyone :)  The ride back they were both tired and sunkissed and by the time we got in just after 4 they were ready for dinner and bed, super early!  But we still had a long ride home, and they slept the entire way!  Such an awesome day, so glad to go and do it and SO glad to scrub this one off the list!  Awesome start to my 101!

Back home, what an awesome day :)

Zavian and Alexis approach 2013

Well - talk about the ultimate neglect of a blog!  I have been slack, haven't I?
In my defence it has been a busy few months - we've driven to Canberra and back, we've moved house, I started selling jewellery and between my photography and that I had a busy December.  The Christmas and New Year period was also busy as we settled in, had guests and busied ourselves.

Moving was the biggest time-taker, packing, moving and then un-packing and setting up our new home.  5 bedrooms sees us with a room each for the children, a study/spare room and a studio for me.  For the most part we are settled, everything is unpacked.  People were generous, helping us to move and giving us bits and pieces we didn't have.  It was very quiet here, those first few weeks.  Going from living with full house of 10 people, to just the 4 of us.  But it's been great for everyone.  The kids love having their own rooms, I have my own space.  Ty has 100% full reign of the tv when he wants it (except at 5pm - no one can interrupt Peppa Pig!)  We have gone from 3 acres, to a much smaller yard but it's worked out well and we are happier (if not slightly poorer!)

All four of us saw the New Year in, with lovely friends.  I was amazed that my two actually stayed awake past midnight and glad.  I just wish Lexi saw it as an opportunity to sleep in ;)

Lexi - Ready to go out :)
The children are fabulous.

2013 is Lexi's last year before primary school - she started preschool yesterday.  We've kept her in the daycare she was at last year (they're wonderful... and I like the drive, surprisingly).  She loves it there, and she was very excited to go in to the 'kindergarten room', excitedly telling me that she is going to that room because she is a big girl.  We are looking forward to seeing how she develops in this class and how it sets her up for school readiness.  It's bittersweet, my baby is growing up!

Before Christmas, we got rid of nappies all together for her (she was in a night nappy) - a matter of 'forgetful mummy' in that I forgot to buy more nappies.  So we risked it and she stayed dry.  It's been nearly a month, she's had 2 accidents and been completely dry otherwise.  For Lexi, that was the day she was officially a big girl and she's suddenly seemed quite grown up.  And she is growing up so fast, in to a very sensitive, caring, cheeky and fun little girl.  She loves life, and she loves everyone and is just a genuinly bubbly and happy child with so much spunk.  She's just beautiful.

We go in to 2013 with a little madam, she loves to sing, dance, perform.  Her preferred style is tutu's or dresses she can spin, she loves necklaces, crowns and shoes.  Painted nails are the ultimate treat.  Play doh and barbies are big favourites at the moment.  She's such a girly girl, I don't know what to do with her some times!  This summer she's discovered her confidence when it comes to water and she enjoys swimming and water play.  She gets excited when she see's the beach, and would happily spend all day, every day there.

Zavian, almost 2 and full of cheeky grins <3
Then of course there is Zavian!  In February, his 2nd birthday approaches.  I can't believe how close he is to turning 2, I really can't.  It's unbelievable how quickly his first 2 years have gone, and I feel they've gone so much quicker than Lexi's.  Mr Zavian is the ultimate Mama's boy, and yes he makes his Mama's heart melt (also drives me mad at times, too ;) hahah)  He's extremely sensitive.

Zavian is a very switched on child, he observes and listens, he is practical.  He is already very chatty and starting to speak in simple sentences.  He can be very sure of himself and confident in what he wants and needs.  Already he asks me for drinks, and which type (water, milk, juice), he asks for a variety of foods.  He asks to take a shower, or have his nappy changed, or to use the toilet (training will commence soon!)  Walking out side he will tell you that it's "a bit hot!"  He tries to count and he can sing his ABC's and Twinkle Twinkle.  He may also be picking up some Taylor Swift lyrics, like his sister ;)

Definitely a little dude, he's quite the boofy boy.  He jumps off things, climbs.  Is constantly in to things he shouldn't be ;)  He loves cars and trains, dirt and making mess.  He is really in to play doh at the moment, and asks me when he wants to play with it.  He adores, Nemo, Elmo, books and following his big sister around.  Hi best buddy is his Teddy, but he goes to bed with quite the gang of friends, including his dolly.  He's a cheeky boy, with a cheeky grin and happy heart.  He's friendly and affectionate, and just great kid.

This weekend I hope to update my list.  Some goals have been achieved, others are in motion, and I am due a good update of those before I forget!  But I thought a quick update about the babes was in order, so here you have it.

Happy New Year everyone!