Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chocolate Rice Cream

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 cup milk

1. Combine condensed milk and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously.
2. When the mixture begins to thicken, add rice and milk.
3. Continue stirring over heat for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
6. Sprinkle icing sugar, coconut or chocolate sprinkles on top.

Serve chilled. The consistency will be thick and creamy.

Serves 6

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's been happening at our place

It took me twice as long as it normally does to vacuum the lounge room today since Baby Bee (10 months old) kept trying to climb onto my back. :) I was on my hands and knees vacuuming under furniture and she kept grabbing onto my back trying to stand up and climb on for a piggy-back ride. I normally hate vacuuming but it's a lot more fun now that I have someone to 'help' me.

In other news, we've been spending a lot of time on the kitchen floor lately as that's where Baby Bee is eating most of her meals. She hates the high chair and squeals when I put her in there. I know, I know, I should just persist and require her to eat all meals in there (in fact I think I gave that advice to my sister a few months ago - when I was still exclusively breast feeding haha!). For the most part the kitchen floor works well, except for when she sneezed a mouthful of cauliflower into my lap.
And finally, I'm so excited to announce that Baby Bee has now learnt how to dance. We had some music on this morning and she was bouncing up and down and clapping her hands. Unfortunately though, I think she may have inherited her mother's rhythm.

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

These spring rolls are great for a summer lunch because you serve them cold. They're also much healthier than fried spring rolls.

8 spring roll wraps
50g tin of shrimp, cooked and shelled
3 lettuce leaves, shredded
4 teaspoons minced coriander
1 small cucumber, grated
1 carrot, grated
vermicelli noodles
1/2 an avocado
1. Place one spring roll wrap in cold water until it is soft.
2. Remove the wrap from the water and lay it flat on the bench.
3. Place a small amount of each of the remaining ingredients down the centre of the wrap and fold it over, tucking in both ends.
4. Allow the wrap to dry slightly, then peel off the top side and pull it over again to make it tighter.
5. Make the remaining spring rolls in the same way.
6. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Tip: You can buy the spring roll wrappers from regular supermarkets but I have found that the ones from Asian grocery stores are better quality.

Makes 8 Spring Rolls.

Go to Tammy's Recipes for more yummy things to make.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teddy Bear Pictures

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law gave me an old teddy bear calendar that she found stashed away in a box. The pictures in it were so cute that I wanted to find a way to display them. Then, as I was looking through some things on the bookcase in the study I came across a picture frame that we bought last year but hadn't put up yet. So I cut the teddy bear pictures to fit the photo frame and hung one of them on my daughter's bedroom wall.

As the year goes on I'm going to take that picture down and replace it with one of the other ones.

We have a teddy bears' picnic:

A spring teddy:
A summer teddy:

Teddies reading books:

Teddies playing instruments:

A teddy bear birthday party:

And a teddy bear Christmas:

I'm so happy with how they look! To find out what worked for everyone else this week go to We Are That Family.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few weeks ago I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and for some reason they turned out awful. Well since tomorrow is my turn to host playgroup I was trying to decide whether to make another batch with a different recipe or just buy a packet from the store. Then I came across Geri's award winning recipe. That's right! Geri won first prize in the New Mexico State Fair with this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. So I decided to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did! They look good, they taste great and they have that wonderful slightly-crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside texture that I love.

So, go ahead and give them a try then go and thank Geri for sharing her award-winning recipe.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I resigned.

Six years ago I left a comfortable office job to become a teacher in one of the most "challenging" schools in Sydney. I started half-way through the school year and taught a kindergarten class of only 16 children. They would come to school each day excited to see me and eager to learn. Inside my classroom things were happy and safe.

When I left my classroom I was thrown into the violent chaos that enveloped the rest of the school. Playground duty was the worst as I would regularly have to break up fights between boys who were bigger than me.

The next school year saw that violence and chaos come into my classroom. I would cry each morning on the drive to school and cry on the way home remembering the awful events of the day.

At the end of the first term my friend encouraged me to apply for a position going at her school. It was a private, Christian school and I knew from talking to her about it in the past that it was a great place to work. I told her that I would think about it but in my mind I had already decided that I wouldn't bother. A lot of other people would be applying for the job and I still had six months of study before I would finish my final year of university to get the additional teaching qualification. I also only had 9 months of teaching experience. My husband (who was my fiance at the time) encouraged me to give it a shot and even spent about 3 hours redoing my resume for me.

Well, by an act of God I was given the job to teach second grade. My new classroom had clean, white walls, my own office, a computer room for the children and a wet area with sinks and art supplies. I had a large, noisy class, but they followed the rules and respected my position as their teacher. Playground duty was actually fun as I could walk around and get to know different students. The principal and the staff were caring and supportive and every morning we would gather together before school for devotions and prayers. It was probably one of the best schools in Sydney.

In September last year I left that school to have a baby. I was given 12 months maternity leave with the option of returning to a full-time or part-time position.

Well my 12 months leave is almost up so today I went back to my school and gave the principal a letter, resigning from the second best job I have ever had. I don't want to be a teacher any more because now I have the best job I have ever had. I get to be a mum.

I wake up every morning excited about what the day will bring. I can't wait to hear those little waking up sounds coming from my daughters room as she begins to stir in her cot. I can't wait to pick her up and feel her tiny arms wrap tightly around my neck and feel her soft cheek smush up against mine. I can't wait to see what new thing she will learn how to do today.

Do I miss teaching? Sometimes. If I think of a great lesson or craft idea that I'd love to be able to do with a group of students. But then I remember that in a few more years I'll be able to do it with my own children and it will be even more fun.

Show Us Your Life - Favourite Vacation Spot

I'm joining in Kelly's "Show Us Your Life" party today to share our favourite vacation spots. Our favourite place to go for holidays in Australia is Shoal Bay. We went there for a long weekend and stayed at the Shoal Bay Resort and Spa. We had a beautiful one bedroom apartment so there was lots of space and we could walk across the road to the beach.

This is our apartment balcony.

This is the view from our balcony.

This is the view at dusk.

This is the beach across the road. We took this photo at sunrise so the beach was deserted.

We went on a whale-watching tour and saw some whales....

... and some dolphins.

I have two favourite holiday destainations outside of Australia. The first is Ottawa, Canada. I lived in Ottawa for a few months when I was in my early twenties and it's just the prettiest city. There is so much to see and do there.

There are lots of beautiful buildings, like the famous Fish Market Restaurant.

You can even go ice-skating on the Rideau Canal. I didn't do that because I'm from Sydney where you have to drive five hours to see snow in winter. When I was a kid we did drive for hours and hours to see snow and when we got there all that was left was a tiny piece of ice in the grass. haha!

My second favourite place is Breckenridge, Colorado. I went there for a holiday when I was living in Kansas about ten years ago. It was summer time so there was no snow but the little village had lots of adorable shops and beautiful picnic areas. I didn't own a digital camera at the time and my photos would look terrible scanned in here so you'll just have to go to the link to see what it looks like. Or even better, go there yourself. You'll love it!

Ah, I've had so much fun looking through old photos and walking down memory lane. I really hope we get to go back to all of these places one day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fish Finger Parmigiana

This meal is so quick and easy, and your kids will love it!
1. Place some frozen fish fingers in a baking dish. (You can use frozen, crumbed chicken pieces if you prefer).
2. Bake them in the oven according to the directions on the packet.
3. Just before the fish fingers have finished cooking, take them out of the oven. Spoon some spaghetti sauce across the top and sprinkle with grated cheese.
4. Put them back in the oven and continue baking until the cheese has melted.
If you want some other quick and easy meal ideas, go to

Easy Monster Cake

This cake is very cute and super easy to make.

1.Bake two round cakes, a large one for the body and a smaller one for the head.
2. Let the cakes cool then ice them with green icing.
3. Decorate with various lollies and sprinkles, using two lollipops on the top for horns.

The recipe for this cake came from The Australian Women's Weekly Kids' Bithday Cakes book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This was the beautiful sunrise I saw from my kitchen window yesterday morning.

And look at this cool feature on my new camera. You select panorama and it automatically takes three photos and stitches them together to make one wide photo.

It's freezing cold and drizzling with rain here today. We're not going to playgroup because Baby Bee still has a cold so we're just going to stay inside and snuggle up all day. I've got a loaf of fruit and spice bread baking in the oven, warming up the kitchen and making the house smell yummy and I might just have to make some hot chocolate to have with it for morning tea :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Visiting Family and Apple Pie

Last Friday, Baby Bee and I went down to visit my mum, sister and grandparents for the day. My mum and grandparents had just returned from a holiday in Queensland and they brought back lots of souvenirs and presents for us all. I got some gorgeous earrings, a recipe book and some Australian animal cookie cutters. I think will be good for play dough as well when Baby Bee is old enough to use it without eating it all :)

We had such a nice lunch with risotto, veal and vegetables and chick pea tabbouleh. I made an apple pie for desert and this was the first time I'd ever tried making a pie with the lattice top and it was so worth the extra effort. Look how pretty it turned out.

If you click here you can see a cute, little video review from Sugar Pie Farmhouse of a Pyrex pie dish, which is what I used to make this pie in.

My husband couldn't come with us because he had to work so I made him his own little apple pie the night before so he didn't miss out :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

"Hello, Cupcake!" is one of my favourite cake recipe books. It has so many original ideas for cupcake decorations, with easy to understand instructions. Each recipe has a full-page photo (I love to see how the recipe is supposed to turn out) and there are some extra photos showing you how to do different steps in the method. At the back of the book there are recipes for different flavoured cupcakes and frostings and tips on how to create different effects.
There are six sections in the book showing cakes for birthdays, animals, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special occasions. If you're looking for some really fun and creative ways to decorate cupcakes then I think you will love this book.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Iron-On Embroidery

Have a look at this iron-on emroidery that Katie did for her little girl. You'll have to scroll down a bit to find the little green dress with the letters on the top. That's what I'm hoping to make. And I love the matching green shoe with the white ribbon. So adorable!! I bought some white ribbon when I bought the emroidery the other day but my little girl won't keep shoes on her feet yet so I'll have to wait until she's a bit older :)

I have to say also that I only found Katie's blog a couple of weeks ago and she is just the sweetest girl. I left her a comment with a question and she sent me back two long emails with so much information. She's a busy mama of two little ones so I really appreciated the time she took to help me.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Drinks

Following on from my earlier Summer Menu posts, here are some of my favourite drinks for summertime, and some that I can't wait to try when the weather gets warmer.

Banana Milkshake

2 cups milk
2 bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Put all ingredients into the blender and mix. Serve in a tall glass.

Tropical Frappe

6 fluid ounces fruit juice
2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 ripe banana
6 large ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until the ice is crushed and the mixture is thick. Serve in tall glasses with a straw. Sprinkle ground nutmeg or cinnamon on top and garnish with fresh fruit.

Fruit Punch

3 litres of fruit juice
1.25 litres lemonade or soda water
1.25 litres ginger ale
800 grams tinned fruit salad or diced fresh fruit
fresh mint leaves (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large glass bowl and serve cold.

Mango Lassi

3 glasses of yogurt (use a glass you will serve the lassi in, to measure)
1 glass of crushed ice (measure as above)
1 glass ripe mango pieces or pulp
Sugar to taste/unsweetened fruit juice or pulp
a dollop of thick cream for each glass (optional)

Put the yogurt, mango, ice and sugar/juice/pulp in a blender and blend till smooth.
Pour out into glasses, top with a dollop of cream.

Frozen Fruit Smoothie

1/2 cup orange juice (or other juice)
1 large banana
1/2 can peaches, drained
1 cup whole frozen strawberries
1/2 cup pineapple, drained

Whirl in blender until smooth. Makes two big servings. You can add your own variations, such as fresh peaches, papaya, or coconut milk for a tropical taste. The essential elements are a banana, the whole frozen strawberries, and some juice.

Strawberry Ice Cream Soda

strawberry jam
crushed fresh strawberries
heavy cream
strawberry ice cream
soda water
whipped cream
more berries for garnish or cherries

For each ice cream soda, put a heaping tablespoonful of strawberry jam and a heaping tablespoonful of crushed fresh strawberries in large (16 ounce size) glass. Add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and a big scoop of strawberry ice cream. Fill up to 2/3 full with soda water, then add another big scoop of strawberry ice cream. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a garnish of chopped berries, if desired. Serve with straws and a long iced teaspoon.

Strawberry Smoothie

1 package (10 ounces) frozen strawberries, thawed
4 cups milk
1 pint (2 cups) strawberry ice cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

In an electric blender, combine half of the strawberries, milk, ice cream, and lemon zest. Blend at high speed for 1 minute; transfer to pitcher or tall glasses. Repeat for second batch. Strawberry smoothie recipe makes about 8 cups.

It can add such a nice touch to serve cold drinks with colourful ice cubes, so I have included some ice cube recipes below.

Strawberry Ice Cubes

Servings: Makes 1 to 2 trays

1 lb strawberries, halved (3 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth; strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass measure. Freeze in ice-cube trays until solid, at least 4 hours.

Add 2 or 3 cubes for a glass of lemonade.

Lemon Ice Cubes


1 medium lemon
1 qt. cold water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Cut each lime into 1/4-inch-thick slices; cut each slice into 4 wedges. Stir together 1 qt. cold water and 1/4 cup lime juice. Fill each compartment of 3 ice cube trays evenly with lime juice mixture. Place 1 lime wedge in each ice cube compartment. Freeze 8 hours or until firm. Makes 42 ice cubes

Watermelon Ice Cubes

1 large watermelon

Cut watermelon into workable pieces. Remove the seeds and the rind. Puree the watermelon in a blender or food processor. Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Dinners

Since we're at the end of July there's only one month left of Winter. Which means that Summer is practically here!! Okay, so that's a bit of a stretch but it's been a really long winter :) Anyway, I've been thinking about some foods that I love to eat in Summer. Here are some great Summer recipes for dinner.

BBQ or Grilled Shrimp

This is a simple recipe involving olive oil, paprika, garlic salt, seasoning and lime. Alternatively, shrimp can be marinated in a Cajun or teriyaki sauce before being placed on the skewers. It can also be nice to add some pineapple, tomato and red pepper chunks to the skewers.

Tandoori Chicken

This recipe explains how to make the tandoori sauce from scratch. My mum makes the best tandoori chicken wings and drumsticks I've ever tried and she just buys the sauce ready-made in a bottle. She marinates the chicken in the sauce for a couple of hours then bakes it in an baking dish for about 40-50 minutes at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). If you want to make the recipe from scratch without all the ingredients, use 1 cup plain yoghurt, juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon tandoori paste, 1 clove crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix and pour over the chicken, marinate then cook.

Fish and Chips
My favourite recipe for fish batter is to mix 1 cup of flour, 3 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 cup water. Cut the fish into pieces, pat dry, dip in batter then fry in a fry pan with oil for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

My husband is the best chip maker in our house. He peels and cuts some potatoes and fries them in some oil. Just before taking them out of the pan he sprinkles them with salt or chicken stock powder. Yum!!


This is a yummy recipe for a hamburger beef patty. I like to add cheese, tomato, a pineapple ring, some beetroot slices and ketchup to the bun as well.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
Served cold, these healthy alternatives to spring rolls are a delicious starter or main course. This recipe includes a dipping sauce.

Salmon Steaks
This is a delicious and simple recipe for a very healthy meal.

Image courtesy of