Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WCW- White Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mousse


Sometimes you need a delicious dessert that you can make, leave in the fridge, and then serve and still feel like a domestic goddess. This recipe does it for me!

A white chocolate mousse with salted caramel and buttermilk undertones- this dessert is guaranteed compliments but it is deceivingly easy.

Sugar, cream, eggs and white chocolate make the basis of this recipe, and my two special ingredients of Whittaker's West Coast Buttermilk Caramelised White Chocolate and Dollop Salted Caramel Sauce take this dessert to the next level.



After beating the eggs and sugar, melted white chocolate and whipped cream is folded in to create a light and fluffy mousse.



The magic happens when you drizzle salted caramel sauce on top of the mousse, then add shavings and squares of the buttermilk chocolate.



This mousse is all about decadence! Perfect for potlucks and this will definitely be on my table for Christmas Day dessert.





print recipe

White Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mousse
Ingredients
  • 400 grams white chocolate melts
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 600ml cream
  • 1 bottle Dollop Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 block Whittaker's Buttermilk White Chocolate
Instructions
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt, then set aside to cool. Beat the eggs and sugar together with a hand held electric mixer until thick and pale and the sugar has dissolved. Fold through the cooled melted white chocolate until well combined. Whisk the cream in a seperate bowl until slightly thick and soft peaks form. Fold gently into the mousse. Place the mousse in a serving bow, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Serve with salted caramel sauce poured over top and sprinkle with chopped chocolate.
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Friday, November 25, 2016

Getting started with The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf phenomenon has been steady in America for the last few years, and recently this cute tradition has found its way into New Zealand. Unlike other overseas traditions that I am less than thrilled about, this is one I can actually get on board with!



So, what is The Elf on the Shelf?
The official Elf on the Shelf toy is a sweet elf who reports to Santa each night, letting him know if the children in his assigned household have been naughty or nice. Every morning, he appears in a different location at your house so that the children can have fun finding him.

Does the Elf have a name?
Each family can choose a name for their Elf- register it online and get an official adoption certificate.

How do I explain his appearance?
The official set comes with a beautiful storybook, telling the story of The Elf on the Shelf. This means that all the explanations are done for you!



Isn't this just a way to get kids to behave?
I hope this Elf will encourage good behaviour in my children, but I think the best part about this is the fun that your children will have trying to find your Elf. For me, the whole of December is full of fun things for my kids to do and I really hope that this will be the start of something that they will remember as part of their childhood. Children only have the magic of Christmas for a short while, and so I want to encourage their imagination while they are still little enough.

Do I have to do elaborate scenes?
Only if you want to! Sometimes, the simplest things are the best- Tall, Short, Tiny and a Pickle has some great simple ideas  and Pinterest is full of ideas that do not involve any effort. I know that Christmas can be a busy time, but this way I hope my children will get out of bed on time every morning so that we can start the day, as December can be quite full on with the end of school and there have been grumbles in the past. Even something simple like placing him in the fridge with the milk can be fun and doesn't require any props or settings.

What if someone touches the Elf?
Part of this tradition is that the Elf loses his or her magic if touched. However, there are kits you can buy to re-magic him, as well as a reminder not to touch the Elf again!

What kind of props can I use with my Elf?
You can buy so many accessories, outfits and pets for your Elf! How cute would this tutu be for a little ballerina, or even a reindeer to keep your Elf company. I have some Elf PJs for our elf to wear when he brings Christmas pajamas for the boys.



Where do I get my Elf from?
I got my Elf from Smartypants, a fabulous local shop that sells New Zealand wide. I try to support small, Kiwi businesses where possible and this shop has some fabulous Christmas ideas, dress ups and even a pocket money zone instore, as well as great Elf on the Shelf accessories.

I love this idea, how do I get started?
Your Elf can arrive at any time- the most popular are the day after Thanksgiving, 1st December or the 5th December. He can arrive in stealth mode, in the morning, or at night, whenever suits you and your family. Creating your own traditions for the arrival, goodbye and daily mischief is all part of what makes this so fun!

I need some more ideas!
The past few years, there have been Instagram posts using #kiwielfontheshelf - to share ideas, inspire and keep the motivation up! Every Monday in December I will also be sharing our elf's weekly antics, so please check in to see what he is up to and get some ideas for your own Elf.

NB: I was not compensated for this post, however I have provided links (non-affiliate) for ease of shopping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

WCW- Chicken and Corn Spaghetti



Hands up who loves frozen vegetables? I alway have a pack (or three) in my freezer so that I can quickly add vegetables to my stews, soups, casseroles and stir fries.

Today's recipe relies on standard mixed vegetables, as well as a few delicious extras to make a hearty family meal.

Gather everything together- I use chicken breasts for this recipe but feel free to use thighs if prefered. My secret ingredient is a good quality chicken and corn soup- this makes the base of this recipe a breeze!



Everything simmers together in the same pot and then you just need to add cooked spaghetti, which makes clean up minimal. Always a plus in my book!



You can even add some toppings to this spaghetti dinner- I had some grated cheese and sesame seeds lurking in my fridge and so they were piled on top.



Creamy coated spaghetti, tender cubes of chicken and the family-friendly vegetables combine to make this dinner. Perfect for all the members of my family as our version is gluten free, but you can use standard spaghetti and soup bases if you do not have those dietary requirements.



Even better, this recipe can be made in the slow cooker by placing all of the ingredients apart from the pasta into the slow cooker on high for four hours-  then cook the spaghetti and add to the crockpot for the last half hour.




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Chicken and Corn Spaghetti
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable mix
  • 400 grams chicken and corn soup
  • 1/4 cup trim milk
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 250 gram packet spaghetti
Instructions
Heat the sesame oil in a large pan and add cubed chicken breast. Cook for 5 minutes, until chicken is mostly cooked.Add the frozen vegetables to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes.Pour in the soup and milk, and season to taste. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet directions. Stir through the chicken mixture and serve in bowls.
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Monday, November 7, 2016

Life Lately

Things have been pretty quiet on my blog recently, and I thought I would let you know I am still around! I have been dealing with a few health issues, which have taken their toll on my energy level, and I also have a new job so I have been doing training for that. With longer daytime hours, social events, days where I am in a lot of pain and also day-to-day planning of our family calendar, time to sit at the computer and type has been rare.

Here is a quick overview of what I have been up to- and I would love to hear what you have been doing as well!

I celebrated my birthday at the end of October, which meant a long overdue dinner date with my other half. We went to a local restaurant that has superb gluten free food, and then met up with some friends for the local quiz night.



I also spent Labour Weekend studying up for a fundraiser quiz night, which my team won! Quiz nights have become my new thing since my drama rehearsals have finished, and the bar tabs help!



Since I have a new job, my morning playgroup has finished, which I am really sad about as Adam and I loved going. He was happy with his dragon face paint on his last day, and he was very spoilt with a lovely goodbye gift and chocolate cake.



I got into the Halloween spirit with a group of friends, heading to the local pub for a dress up evening with great music, bar tabs up for grabs, and Halloween themed drinks. I went along as a Day of the Dead Senorita and enjoyed a few skeleton cocktails, as well as having a good boogie.



In the weekend we also took the the time to celebrate Guy Fawkes with a BBQ and sparklers! My boys have been very hesitant about fireworks in the past, but this year they loved making shapes in the air with sparklers and watching the fireworks when it got dark. I enjoyed sitting back and watching my kids play with the other children, and it was so nice to catch up with one of my goo friends who has also been unwell.



As you can see, I have been focusing on family and friends over the last month as the weather warms up. Having a health scare has made me realise what is important, and making memories is a huge priority for me.

My health is still not 100% and I have a few more investigations planned, but in the meantime I am looking forward to preparing for the Christmas rush, Lucas' birthday, getting comfortable with my new job, and finally sharing more blog posts!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Virtual Book Club- Owl Babies

The book for this week's Virtual Book Club was Owl Babies by Marin Waddell.

I had the pleasure of reading this book to a group of preschoolers in the holidays when I was running a craft area in the mall, and we did a cute owl activity using black, yellow, brown and orange paper, cotton wool, stick on stars and googly eyes.



The branch was stuck across the black paper, and I helped to cut beaks and feet from the orange paper. Big blobs of cotton wool became the owls, and we added the eyes to each baby owl.

The finishing touch was adding the stars and moon to the night sky, and I had some happy parents and preschoolers!

This book is such a great one to share with children who have separation anxiety or simply love reading about animals. Our version is a small board book, great for little ones to look through by themselves.

For more owl activities, check out this post!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WCW- Chicken and Chorizo Rice Pot


Even though Spring has arrived, we are still having some chilly evenings and there is nothing I like better than some warm comfort food in a bowl!  Even better if there is minimal prep and clean up. This rice pot is perfect for family dinners when you want something without much effort that still tastes delicious.

White wine, chicken stock, chorizo, chicken and rice pair together perfectly in this combination. You can also use shrimp in place of the chicken if wished.



The chicken is cooked first, then the chorizo is cooked to allow the oils to release. This gives the red pepper such a depth of flavour, and allows the flavour of the chorizo to permeate through the entire dish.



Cooking everything in one pot means minimal clean up- always a bonus in this house!



As this mixture simmers, it emits a beautiful smell and makes my whole house smell welcoming and homey.



Best served in a bowl with some mixed vegetables (either mixed through or on the side) and some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. This goes great with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine for a dinner date, and is just as welcome during a busy weekend or cold evening.



print recipe

Chicken and Chorizo Rice Pot
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 500 grams chicken breast fillets
  • 1, finely chopped red capsicum
  • 2, sliced chorizo sausage
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Tuscan seasoning
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups white rice
Instructions
Heat oil in a large frypan. Cook chicken for 5-6 minutes until browned. Transfer chicken to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add capsicum to casserole dish and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Add chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, until chorizo has released some of its oils. Stir in tomato paste. Return chicken to the dish with Tuscan seasoning, wine and stock. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Add rice and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes until the rice is tender. Remove from heat and stand for 10 minutes.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Eric Carle inspired Mosaic Spider


My four year old has really enjoyed The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle, so we thought we would make our own busy spiders! I love the mosaic-like look of the spider in hues of blues and greens, so we set about creating our own blue and green spider.

My son started out by sticking some green and blue scraps of cardstock to an 8x8" piece of white cardstock.



We kept layering the blues and greens until he was happy with the pattern.



I then took a side plate and traced around it, and cut out a circle from the mosaic pieces. I also glued down any loose pieces.



We added some googly eyes, and Adam chose the colours of popsicle sticks for the spider's legs.



Our finished mosaic spider is complete!



This was such a great activity for hand-eye coordination as well as an understanding of what a mosaic is. Of course, there was also the ever important practice with glue and scissors!
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