January 31, 2012
January 30, 2012
Another week, another menu plan! Last week was a bit hit and miss. After coming back from holidays, my husband had a work trip and then a business dinner, so wasn’t home for dinner 3 nights. The menu plan got pushed aside for meals that my kids will definitely eat (pasta). The plan also got rearranged due to the Australia Day holiday.
It’s hard to tell if I’m making any progress in the pantry and freezer. I have managed to empty the freezer of the second fridge, and my grocery bills are down. It still feels like the pantry is full of random ingredients though, so I’m going to keep the challenge going!
The plan this week is to keep running down the meat in the freezer, with a vegetarian brown rice recipe thrown in too. Here’s my plan:
Monday: Tasty Brown Rice
Tuesday: Chicken Parmigiana
Wednesday: Tasty Rissoles with Salad
Thursday: Chicken Kievs
Friday: Pizza (the usual!)
Saturday: Steak and Salad (the usual!) – might try a fancy sauce for a change!
Sunday: Burritos (from a kit – the lazy way!)
Do you revert to the kids’ favourite recipes when your partner is away?
January 27, 2012
As a new feature, the last Friday of every month will be Fav Fabric Friday where I’ll showcase a fabric collection (or maybe 2 or 3…) that I’m dreaming about. (Hmmm, this needs a button – maybe next month…).
Three different colour-ways (blue, cream and green) in lovely (but not so obvious or bright) boy colours. The different colour-ways all go together for lots of variation.
Cogs, animals, spots and stripes – very boy-like, but not cutesy and babyish. I can see my little man in a nice button-up shirt, or using the fabric for the trim on a pair of pants. Here’s the display from Quilt Market with more ideas (photo from Riley Blake Designs Blog):
What would you make with this handsome fabric?
January 26, 2012
When I asked my son what cake he wanted for his third birthday, he told me a smiley face cake. After the choo choo train cake from last year, my first thought was “Woohoo! Too easy!”. I didn’t know whether to believe him, so I asked him a few more times, and it was always the same (actually, it became “a chocolate smiley face cake with Smarties!”)
Note: Australian/Canadian Smarties that are a bit like M&Ms, not the US-style Smarties ;)
Since we got home from visiting my family the day before his birthday, I made and froze a simple chocolate cake ahead of time and just had to decorate on the day. It’s an easy recipe, but the cake is wonderfully moist and with a nice richness.
Icing was a standard buttercream, using Wilton gel colouring. It turned out a little more orangey than I would have liked, but not too bad. I’m also hopeless at getting buttercream smooth, so I fluffed it up a bit (to make it look like my son’s Mr Happy stuffed toy…hmmm, clutching at straws?). I used large Cadbury buttons for the eyes and cut a strip of Willy Wonka Fabulicious Raspberry Twister for the mouth (tastier than liquorice!).
My son loved it (but then, what 3 year old doesn’t love cake)!
Here’s the recipe for the chocolate cake (from Australian Women's Weekly Kids' Party Cakes):
January 23, 2012
After a week visiting family and friends, it’s time to get back in the swing of the pantry challenge (and that’s why I’m calling it week 3!). It’s nice to go out for meals and have others cook nice meals, but I’m glad to be back home in my own kitchen again.
I still feel like I’ve got a pantry full of miscellaneous ingredients and haven’t made much of a dent. Maybe I’ll continue the pantry challenge on into February! Here’s the plan for this week:
Monday: Homemade Chicken Nuggets (a recipe I’ve been meaning to share!) and Chips (Special birthday dinner!)
Tuesday: Ham and Split Pea Soup (and maybe some fresh bread)
Wednesday: Thai Chicken Curry and Rice
Thursday: Soup Leftovers (more fresh bread?)
Friday: Pizza (as always)
Saturday: Steak and Salad (thanks for cooking hubby! (yes, he does read my blog!)
Sunday: Sausages and Salad
Whenever I plan something fancy for Sunday night, it never happens. I always end up exhausted at the end of the weekend. Must be that extra baby around the house, wearing me out! What is your go to Sunday night meal?
January 20, 2012
The mermaiden pattern has been on my list of projects since the book Wee Wonderfuls was released. After making the felt cake for my niece, I had to sew something for her baby sister too. Mermaiden looked like a fun and easy sewing project.
I used wool blanketing fabric for her hair (which I’d bought for another project and never got around to it!). Her face is a cream quilter’s cotton and her tail is scraps of River View in Candy Store Pink from the City Weekend range by Oliver and S (from one of these baby tunics).
I didn’t follow the pattern exactly for how I quilted her hair, but tried to make it look more like a part and a crown.
I haven’t done a lot of embroidery, but am quite happy with how her face turned out. I just used 4 threads of normal sewing thread rather than embroidery thread because that’s all I had. Looking at the photos now, I can see her mouth is a bit lop-sided, but I’ll call that part of her handmade charm!
I also only stuffed the end of her tail (and her body) so that her tail could swish about.
My sister-in-law sent photos of her little one playing with her mermaid, so I hope she likes it as much as I liked making it!
You can download a free copy of the mermaiden pattern here.
January 16, 2012
This week is all about visiting friends and family, so I don’t have a menu plan to share today. Instead, here are some of my Mum’s recipes. They are comfort food for me, taking me back to my childhood.
It will be a quiet week here at Cook Clean Craft, but I look forward to sharing more fun projects with you next week, and maybe even a tutorial. I hope you have a great week!
January 13, 2012
The next Christmas present I have to show you is a Pretty Pink Felt Cake made for my 2 year old niece.
It’s from the book Big Little Felt Universe, that has the cutest felt toy patterns (and something for everyone).
I’m not a big fan of hand-sewing, and there was no way around it with this one. It was too cute not to make. The book is a little light on details for the inexperienced hand-sewist, but thankfully there is the blogosphere to help me out! After I’d sewn for a while, I started to get my rhythm and it went quickly.
I have enough felt to make one for my kids too, but at the rate I’m going, it probably won’t be done until my daughter’s birthday in October (actually, that sounds like a reasonable goal with everything going on in my life at the moment!).
The cake from the book included almost every fruit under the sun to top the cake, but that was way more than my crafting time allowed. I think my niece likes the cake though - she brought every piece over to show us the last time we chatted on Skype!
What is you favourite felt food creation?
January 12, 2012
Time for another sweet treat, although this isn’t as sweet as my usual desserts!
I discovered the tradition of eating Galette des Rois on January 6 when we lived in Paris. It celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings at the birth of Jesus, and a trinket or dried bean is baked into the cake, and the person who finds it is the King (or Queen), gets to wear a crown and choose their Queen (or King).
We bought one from a French supermarket to take to a friend’s house that year, and what a mistake! (With all the patisseries in Paris, I don’t know what we were thinking… Actually, it was probably that we didn’t have to speak French if we just picked it up off a shelf…) It was a bland, dry and slightly chewy.
For some reason this galette popped into my head over Christmas, and I decided to bake one. This was a MUCH better experience than the supermarket version (and now I understand the tradition a little bit more!). Flaky puff pastry with a smooth, creamy, nutty (and not too sweet) filling.
Here’s the recipe:
January 11, 2012
I started with the very classy plastic bag filled with lots of plastic bags. I then moved on to fabric bag holders. You know the type – long cylinders with drawstrings that you stuff bags in the top and pull out at the bottom. But something about them always annoyed me. They’re too squishy, they bang against the door if you hang them in the pantry. My kitchen mostly has drawers too, and they just didn’t work for me. They just weren’t neat enough (yes, the engineer in me is just a little obsessed with order and neatness).
Then I found an old wooden tissue box cover that I wasn’t using, and a light bulb turned on. So I present to you my neat and tidy in-drawer plastic bag holder:
It’s also a drawer divider, stopping my paper towel from rolling away – double tidy duties, even better.
I have no idea why it is painted a bright blue. I can’t remember where I was originally using it. I probably should pretty it up a bit, but it’s not high on my priorities.
Does plastic bag messiness irritate you? (I can’t be alone in this, can I?) How do you store your plastic bags?
January 9, 2012
Last week didn’t go totally according to plan. We went out for dinner after a lovely afternoon on Monday with a CityCat (ferry ride) to Southbank in Brisbane. It was a great way to spend the last day of my husband’s Christmas break. Saturday night ended in takeaway too – just one of those days.
It didn’t feel like I got through much of my pantry inventory, so I’m trying a few new recipes to use some different pantry ingredients (with a couple of easy meals thrown in too.). On the plus side, it was a quick and cheap grocery shop. I got some good exercise too. All the shopping fit in the bottom of the pram, so I had a nice walk to the shops.
Here’s the plan for this week:
Monday: Sweet corn, Tomato and Haloumi Risotto
Tuesday: Red Lentil Burgers
Wednesday: Beef Rogan Josh in the slow cooker (didn’t happen last week)
Thursday: Marinated Chicken Drumsticks and Salad
Friday: Pizza (I really do have to share my pizza recipe!)
Saturday: Steak and Salad (A Saturday night semi-tradition cooked by my darling husband)
Sunday: Dinner out
January 6, 2012
I never thought I'd sew a Christmas present for my Dad, but I was inspired this year! When my parents came to visit a few months ago, my Mum was complaining that my Dad's summer cotton bathrobe really needed a wash, but he didn't want to put it in the wash as his spare was a satin one that made him too hot. The idea of sewing him one popped in my head.
I already had a half yard of the tools fabric in my stash (from the Suburbia range by Robert Kaufman), and I hunted around and found just enough blue quilter's cotton too. I was going to draft my own pattern from my husband's robe, but I couldn't find it (robes don't get much use in this house, and it must be in a box somewhere!). I then spotted Kwik Sew pattern 2325 in my drawer:
Yes, it's a ladies pattern, but hey, a bathrobe is a bathrobe! I made it in extra large and cuffed the sleeves with my feature fabric instead of lace.
I also added some pockets.
Apologies for the average photos – I only finished this on the Monday morning before Christmas and I had to post it off that day. The photos were taken in a rush (and I couldn’t find the belt I’d made, but it was found before I posted it!), so they didn't turn out very well. I’m off to visit my family soon, so maybe I'll get some photos of my Dad wearing it!
I was happy to be able to given a man in my life a handmade present. It feels so much more special as they are so hard to sew for! Did you make any manly Christmas presents?
January 2, 2012
It’s time for the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats. I’m an accumulator of ingredients. When I go to the supermarket, I see all sorts of interesting food that I’d like to try cooking. I buy things and they go into the pantry, never to be seen again.
I’m also a fan of buying meat in bulk and keeping the freezer well-stocked, to save trips to the butcher and make it easier to find something to cook for dinner. But once again, there are a few things that get pushed to the back of the freezer and are forgotten.
So to start this pantry challenge, I’ve taken stock of what food I have. Oh my, do I have lots of options. Let’s just start with rice: I have brown rice, white rice, Arborio rice, sushi rice. Move on to noodles: rice vermicelli, Singapore noodles, Pad Thai-style rice noodles. Other dry ingredients include chickpeas, red lentils, green lentils, yellow split peas. Not to mention the different sauces, curry pastes and canned foods. This is getting embarrassing, so let’s just stop there!
After writing a list of all the staples I have, I’ve realised I can go hard-core with this challenge. The only thing I’m allowed to buy this month is fresh fruit and vegetables, and bread (I’m not doing my bread challenge this month!).
So here is my first week’s menu plan:
Monday: Turkey and salad (yep, we’re still getting through our turkey!)
Tuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry
Wednesday: Beef Rogan Josh
Thursday: Cold Meat and Salad (again!)
Friday: Homemade Pizza night
Saturday: Steak and Salad
Sunday: Sushi hand rolls
It’s a simple menu plan to ease me into the challenge and the New Year (except for the sushi hand rolls). I’ll have to get more adventurous later in the month!
January 1, 2012
This may be a little late, but I’ve put together a monthly planner.
I’m using this planner as my blog editorial calendar and as a place to jot down goals, ideas and tasks. I’m using it primarily to keep my blogging on track, but you could use it for menu planning, as an ordinary calendar.
It’s set up to print double-sided and then fold all the pages in half to make a booklet. Download your free copy from here.
Please let me know if you use the planner and if you have any suggestions for it.
Edited to add: If you'd prefer not to make a booklet, you can download this version to just have a page for each month.