Party Food – Homemade Sausage Rolls

When I think of party food, one of the first things that comes to mind are Sausage Rolls.  Now I am a bit of a Sausage Roll snob, they need to have crisp flaky pastry, veggies that you can actually identify in them and of course a yummy flavour.

When it comes to making them, I don’t really follow a specific recipe. It’s more about adding whatever I have in the cupboard and fridge at the time.  In the past I’ve used honey, oyster sauce and steak sauce as ingredients.  The last batch I made was for our big boy’s 2nd birthday, so I added a few extra veggies to help balance out all the cake the kids ate.

For me, the only accompaniment you should EVER serve with sausage rolls is homemade sauce.  Since we didn’t have any ‘bought’ sauce in the pantry, I begrudgingly parted with some of my Mum’s homemade sauce for our party guests to enjoy.

Sausage Rolls

For the sausage rolls pictured above, I followed the below recipe:

6 sheets of ready made puff pastry

500g beef mince

2 carrots – grated

1 zucchini – grated

4 slices of rindless bacon – diced

1 large brown onion – grated

2 eggs – 1 egg for mixture and the other is for egg wash

1/4 cup tomato sauce or tomato chutney

1/4 cup bbq sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sesame seeds to garnish if you wish

– Preheat oven to 200 degrees

– Remove pastry from freezer and allow to thaw slightly.

– Combine mince, veggies, 1 egg, sauces, thyme and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Using a large spoon mix until ingredients are evenly distributed.

– Lightly beat remaining egg into a cup.

– Cut a sheet of pastry in half, then using your hands, place meat mixture in the middle of the pastry sheet and then fold pastry over the top.  Repeat until all of the meat/pastry has been used.

– Cut the sausage rolls into smaller pieces, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish.

– Bake in for approximately 20 minutes, or until pastry has turned golden brown.  The baking time will vary depending on the size of your sausage rolls.

 

Through your eyes – at the beach

When we tell you we are going to the beach, your eyes widen and a huge smile appears.  In the car we tell you we will go for a swim and make sandcastles – and if you are really lucky you might get an ice cream.

We arrive and you announce we are ‘all done’ and start telling us again we are at the beach.

You are patient as we unload the car, slather both yourself and your brother in sunscreen and walk towards the beach.  As we walk through the park and get our first glimpse of the sparkling ocean, you point at it excitedly and keep saying ‘beach beach beach’.

Your excitement is obvious, you want to walk on the sand and help us set up.  You become impatient as you get changed into your swimming gear, and yet another layer of sunscreen is applied.

We pick up your bucket and shovel and you take your Dad’s hand as you drag him towards the water, all the while shouting ‘beach, beach, beach’….. just in case we didn’t know where we were!

I sit in the shade with your baby brother and can feel the cool sea breeze touching my face and the hot sand between my toes.  I feel overwhelming happiness as I watch you pulling your Dad towards the water.

I watch you come to a sudden stop as you get closer to the water, you look up at your Dad with an expression of uncertainty – the water here is different, you are used to the calm stillness of your pool at home.  You tentatively make your way closer to the water, as the first ripples of water touch your feet.  You shriek with delight, your whole face lights up and you look up at Dad to make sure he is still there and has seen it to.

As the water rushes back out, you again call out with excitement, your feet sink into the sand and you find the whole experience to be hilarious.  The waves again roll in and I can see your confidence grow, as you start to splash around in the water.

A larger wave comes in and you tumble over, you quickly get up and after a quick look at Daddy to make sure everything is ok, you cackle with delight and ask for more!

As the time passes, and you become more sure of yourself, you hold onto Daddy’s hand as you begin to explore, stopping to look at shells and rocks on the sand.

You run your hands through the sand, picking up handfuls of it and letting the grains gently run between your fingers.  You help Daddy dig a great big hole, and think it is great when you need his help to climb out.

When it’s time to go, you do protest.  There is so much more you want to experience, but you begrudgingly hold our hands as we walk back up the sand.

beach

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Our Big Boy’s Construction Party

After all the planning and preparation it’s all over for another year. Yesterday our big boy, our rainbow baby turned 2 and we held his birthday party.  To me, a birthday party should be all about having fun……. and the food!

Since I am keeping things ‘simple‘ this year, we decided (I say ‘we’ but really mean me!) to keep things small and just invite his little friends that he sees regularly.  In theory this is fine, but when you then add parents and siblings it can turn into a much larger gathering quite quickly!  Regardless, we had a great day with wonderful friends and great food (well at least I’m hoping everyone liked the food!).

Liam Party 3

 

I may sound surprising, but I like catering for parties/friends and I enjoy sitting down planning menus and working out when everything needs to be done – shocking I know!  This year I was determined I would be organised and keep things simple so I could enjoy the day and not end up stuck in the kitchen.

I attempted to complete the grocery shopping earlier in the week, but when both the boys decided to fill their nappies in the middle of Woolworths (and neither was in a good mood about it), we had to cut our shopping trip short.  I then spent the day before the party, baking Blueberry, Carob and Coconut muffins, Corn, Cheese, Spinach & Tomato muffins, Sausage Rolls and I got started on the birthday cake (I will post these recipes later this week).

Last year I went all out with a two tiered fondant covered jungle cake – however trying to work with icing in the middle of summer is NOT a good idea and I decided to save myself some heartache (as well as $$$ from not running the air conditioner full time to keep the cake cool) and decided to make a good old butter cake.  To jazz things up a little, I made a chocolate swirl butter cake by making one plain butter cake mix and one chocolate butter cake mix (just add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of milk to my recipe) and combined the two together in two separate cake tins.

The hours of my life that I lost to Pintrest paid off. As our big boy is a obsessed fan of trucks, I just had to make him a cake with a truck on it.  To make a construction cake, I cut the two butter cakes in half, and sandwiched then together with chocolate buttercream (just add 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 3 tablespoons of milk to buttercream recipe).

I then (with just a little bit of trepidation) used a knife to cut away a chunk of cake to create the ‘falling rocks’ effect.  I used the remaining buttercream to cover the rest of the cake, and then created the rockfall effect using crushed chocolate ripple biscuits as dirt, and Violet Crumble as the rocks.

Liam Cake

 

I decorated the base of the cake with yellow smarties, and added a toy truck and some construction signs to the top of the cake.

Liam Cake 2

 

Our big boy LOVED his cake (especially the truck on top) and was super keen to try some

Liam Cake 1

 

Again thanks to Pintrest, I got some great ideas for table decorations. I found the two truck I used at K-Mart for $10 each which I thought was pretty reasonable, especially as they already have been given a good workout being driven around our yard.

Liam Party

 

I also made little cars using tiny teddies, smarties and some melted dark chocolate.  These were a big hit with the kids, and while they were a bit time consuming, I made them the day before and just popped them into the fridge.  I found using a toothpick to apply the chocolate to the teddies and smarties to be the easiest way to go.

Liam Party1

 

I may have gotten a little too carried away with the catering, we also had sandwiches, cheese and dip platters, pizza slices and fruit salad boxes…. not to mention chicken nibbles and mini sausages that I forgot to put out!!

All the preparation paid off, I was actually able to sit down and watch our big boy playing happily with his friends and the feelings of happiness and just a little pride were overwhelming.  I think he sensed that it was a special day, he was particularly affectionate towards all of us, and was in a great mood all day.  I admit I’m a little sad it’s over, as it means my big boy is growing up, but I also can’t wait to celebrate many more special birthdays with him.

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Linking up today with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

Our Rainbow

I have sat down countless times over the past two weeks trying to write this post.  There have even been a couple of times when I have felt I had nearly nailed it, then after a further read it just hasn’t sounded right.
This weekend, our big boy, our ‘rainbow baby’ turns two.
What I wanted to write about was the journey that led us to his arrival.  The utter devastation we experienced when his big brother was born sleeping and his big sister passed away in my arms.  The anxious journey we then went on during his pregnancy, the countless hospital admissions, scans and tests, each of which seemed to bring more bad news – further complications and bigger hurdles we would have to jump, in the hope of bringing him home.  Then there was the journey we experienced during his six week NICU stay and the challenges we faced bringing a premature baby home.
I wanted to talk about how hard it was to bond with him whilst I was pregnant, and then when he was born as I’d spent my whole pregnancy convincing myself I would again be burying our child – even to the point we did not order the headstone for our twins grave, just in case we needed to add another name.
I wrote about how I struggled with anxiety for the better part of his first year, constantly worrying he was not reaching milestones, not gaining weight, looking for any potential health problems because of his prematurity and the fear he would fall ill and return to hospital.
I tried to put into words the emotions that ran through my head (and still do) every time someone would ask ‘Is he your first?’
I attempted to write about the expectations I felt others now had of me – I now had a baby, I should be ‘fine’ and no longer grieving the babies we had lost.
When I tried to tell this story, the way it deserves to be told, it just didn’t sound right.  So instead:
Happy 2nd Birthday to our precious, special man.  You will never know the love and light you have bought to us, or how much you are truly treasured.  Your rainbow continues to grow and shine brighter each day.
We love you xx
***A rainbow baby is a baby born after experiencing the death of a child/loss of a pregnancy.  It can mean many things to different people, I like to think of it as an acknowledgment that the beauty of a rainbow doesn’t erase the damage of a storm a family has experienced and continues to deal with, instead it means that something beautiful and full of light and happiness has emerged from amongst the darkness of the clouds.  The storm clouds may still linger, but the beauty of the rainbow provides light and hope to help counterbalance the darkness.

Muesli Cookies

Since returning home from our holiday, we have been trying to eat well in an attempt to lose the unwanted Christmas gift of a couple of extra kilos.  There are still times though when we do feel like something a little special, and these cookies fit the bill.

I’ve been giving Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2 a bit of a workout over the past week. It had been awhile since I’d sat down and really read through it, and there have been quite a few recipes that have jumped out at me to try.  As always, I have made a couple of substitutions and additions to the original recipe.  To start with I reduced the sugar content, and used wholemeal spelt flour instead of plain flour.  I also just used what I had in the pantry, the recipe suggest 1/4 cup dried apricots and 1/4 cup dried apples – both chopped and 1/4 cup sultanas.  I debated whether to add the malted milk powder, but went along with it and I ended up with a yummy, chewy biscuit – which I do love.    As always my big boy was happy to be a taste tester and has also given them his tick of approval.

Muesli Cookies

1/2 cup rapadura sugar (recipe suggest 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup caster sugar)

125g butter – softened

1 egg

1/2 cup malted milk powder

1 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour (you can use plain flour instead)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons wheatgerm

1/4 cup currants

1/2 cup goji berries

1 teaspoon cinnamon

* Preheat oven to 170 degrees

* Beat together the sugar, butter and egg in a bowl until smooth – if using rapadura sugar you will see some small sugar crystals throughout the mixture.

* Add all other ingredients and mix together until combined.

* Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, place onto baking trays and flatten slightly.  Make sure you leave room for the cookies to spread.

* Bake for 15 minutes until beginning to brown on top – cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

 

My Mug List

We’ve all heard of ‘Bucket Lists’ – so what is a Mug List?

Last week a friend and I enjoyed the luxury of catching up without kids for a coffee.  It was an odd feeling leaving the house without my boys, and not having to think about the logistics of where the pram would fit, availability of a highchair and kids menus was  refreshing.  It’s also amazing the amount and depth of conversation you can cover when you aren’t interrupting each other with comments such as ‘don’t eat the butter, please sit down and don’t pinch your brother’.

Over coffee (of course) we got to talking about an all too familiar topic for me… That time on a Sunday afternoon when you look back over your weekend, the precious couple of days you have with your whole family, and realise you haven’t really done anything.  I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who are in the same boat – well I’m going to tell myself that anyway!  I’m guilty of telling myself, and my husband, that I am going to do this, we must go there – but all too often everyday life gets in the way and it’s easy to find an ‘excuse’ not to go somewhere or do something.  We both vowed that this was going to be our year to not just talk about what we were going to do – but to actually do it.

This gave us the idea of making a list each month of things we wanted to accomplish – whether it be something we wanted to do with our kids, or a personal goal.  We agreed the  name ‘bucket list’ wasn’t really appropriate, and as we were having a coffee (and I was drinking from the biggest mug available), we decided to name our idea The Mug list.

At the beginning of each month, we will write a list of things we want to do or achieve.  It can be anything – activities with the kids, personal goals – the possibilities are endless.  The idea is to display the list somewhere you can see it (and most importantly remember what’s on it!) and you can then make off your items as the month progresses.

For me, 2014 is a year of keeping it simple….  enjoying the simple, everyday moments of life, and trying not overcomplicating things.  That’s why I decided to kick off my list with what I hope will be easy, achievable goals.  I decided to share my list in an attempt to make me accountable for following through, and I’ll share my shortcomings success at the end of each month.

Feel free to join me, what will you put on your Mug List for January?

January MUG list

 

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Surviving a road trip with a toddler & baby

It’s now been a week since we arrived back home after our 4500+km road trip.  The holidays are over, our bags are all unpacked, new toys and books have all been put away, and we have returned to a somewhat modified routine, as Daddy has still been on holidays.

In what may seem like a strange turn of events… we not only survived our trip, but we were still speaking to each other at the end of it, and even enjoyed ourselves just a little bit!  My husband even commented that he was ‘surprised’ we were not at each other’s throats during our travels- should I be a little concerned that he thought we would be?!?!

It’s just now on this thankfully cool Sunday morning (seriously the weather in Brisbane has been crazy – even the water in our pool was hot yesterday), that I’ve had a chance to sit down and put together my top tips for car travel with kids.  By no means do I consider myself an ‘expert’ but considering we travelled 1700km each way down to Victoria with an almost two year old and a seven month old and not only did we survive, but we have said we would do it again – I figure I should share some tips on what worked for us!

  • Dry Erase Board – we had a lot of fun drawing pictures and writing our names on the boards.  The crayons were a great size for our little man to hold and draw with.  It was also an opportunity to learn about different colours and shapes that we drew.

car travel 1

  • Board Books – easy to handle/turn pages for the little ones.  You  can also pack a few of them as they don’t take up too much space.  the ones that come in a little box/suitcase are great – Just as much time was spent pointing out all the trucks/cars/diggers etc on the box the books came in as was spent on the actual reading of them.
  • Food…..  Our big boy likes to think he is eating at a buffet ALL OF THE TIME….  so having little bags filled with different foods was great fun for him.  We had grapes, strawberries, apple, dry biscuits, vegemite sandwiches and fruit bars.  Also the squeezie yoghurts were a big hit.  I also made sure to have food handy for our little man, so I could feed him whilst we were travelling.
Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop.  Bribery again at its best!

Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop. Bribery again at its best!

  • Audio Books and Kids Music – I’m not sure what it is about the Wiggles, but everytime we put it on the boys would go into a daze and inevitably fall asleep.  It was amazing, our big boy could be on the brink of a meltdown but as soon as he heard the opening line of Hot Potato he would instantly chill out!  We think there must be some subliminal message behind the music that adults don’t hear!  The Roald Dahl audio books were also a big winner, especially the us – we really enjoyed listening to stories we had also grown up with.
Thank you Wiggles!

Thank you Wiggles!

  • Bribery… All I will say is that this worked a treat!!!  Especially when our big boy would just start to lose it when there was only 20kms or so to go.
Bribery - this is what you get if you are a good boy.

Bribery – this is what you get if you are a good boy.

  • Lastly, and maybe most importantly – Don’t have a plan.  This was a hard one for me since I always like to be super organised.  We had vague ideas as to where we’d like to stop for breaks and stay overnight, but we really let how the boys (and us) were feeling dictate where and when we stopped.  If they were asleep, we would keep on going, if they were starting to get cranky we’d stop.  I spent a lot of time sitting in the back with the boys, which whilst it was a bit cramped, I really did enjoy.  We had a mostly great time singing songs, reading and just being silly to help pass the time.
Even our little man got in on the action!

Even our little man played silly games with us!

What are your top tips for travelling in the car with kids – safe travels to everyone on the roads over this holiday period x

PS…

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my illusion we wouldn’t need technology to keep us amused on our trip. The iPad did come in handy a couple of times times (a big thanks to The Multitasking Mummy for her kids app recommendations), as a distraction when we were getting back in the car – our big boy has a strange fascination with ‘Daddy’s keys’ to the point he becomes quite obsessed with getting his hands on them.  The iPad was a great way to distract him for 10/15 minutes until we were on the road again and he would move on to something else.