My Birthday

Take me back 5 years ago and my birthday meant everything to me! It wasn’t just a day, oh no! It was at least a whole weekend if not pushing it out to a week. Well, when you had as many friends as I did you needed to organise a few more dinners to fit everyone one in to celebrate you turning another year older!

This year was different though. The two months leading up to my birthday were filled with sadness and loss. My mum got diagnosed with cancer and my husband got made redundant. This all happened a few weeks before Christmas and was a big blow to the emotions and wallet!

Over Christmas we had an amazing time and although didn’t go as lavish as we usually would have, still had wonderful food, plenty of drinks and were surrounded by people we love dearly! New year’s came and went and I hurt my neck.

So when I was asked by hubby what I would like to do for my birthday I truly had no need or want to do anything. I am a pretty homely body as it is but this year I just didn’t feel like celebrating!

Luckily for me I have wonderful friends and family who jeered me up.

Walking into my office I found my desk covered in balloons and posters of cakes pined up on my walls! I even had gifts!

It is the responsibility of the birthday girl/boy to provide the cake for morning tea. I understand why they do this it’s so no-one’s birthday is forgotten! Being as I am not a baker and hubby isn’t working I thought he may take the roll of making my cake. Alas, no…..he would not make my cake as he was busy working hard in our back yard. I did opt for a packet mix for the cake base itself but made the icing and decorated it to boot!

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Needless to say after the chocolate coating covered in marshmallows and raspberry flavoured M’n’M’s and the filling being white chocolate, my colleagues were flying high for a good couple of hours!

V decided we had to go for a drink after work so I had luckily planned it with hubby that he would drop me to work and then come back in and be my chauffer.

We were tossing up between the Reserve Wine Bar a newish establishment opened up in the Mall of Newcastle or Les Passe Temp, a French inspired bar/restaurant located at the end of Hunter Street.

Being as someone we used to work with was behind the opening of the Reserve Wine Bar I decided I should go and check it out!

Being as V and hubby were both driving we were taking it easy. V and I opted for the well-mannered Rose, to the nose you got great smells of strawberries and watermelon. On the palate the wine was delicate and slightly dry, with great berry notes and a hint of melon. Delicious to say the least! B went for a Founders Brewing All Day IPA which was really fruity smelling and tasting. He enjoyed it but was only allowed one as driving!

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We ordered the specials to share as well which were the mushroom aranchini balls and lamb empanadas. Unfortunately, we were starving at this point and I completely forgot to take photos. HOWEVER, they were delicious and went down a treat.

I highly recommend a trip to Reserve Wine Bar. Don’t expect your bill to be small but do expect to be wowed by the interior, the serve and knowledge everyone had and the table serve to boot.

Hubby had gone ahead and booked us a table at Pauls Asian Affair. We well renowned restaurant in New Lambton that we had been to a few years ago. We got there and I ordered a Traminer-Riesling. Working in the wine industry I did begrudge paying $28 for a bottle of Rosemount wine when you can buy it for under $10 but this was the cheapest on the menu and the rest were even more absurd!

We opted for a prawn toast to start and a nice big bowl of delicious prawn crackers, not overly Thai inspired but still hit the spot! For the mains we opted for a fried rice, crispy fried chicken with a hot sweet and sour sauce and spicy sate pork.

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We were so full that we didn’t manage to get through half of it but luckily for us we are able to take home both unfinished food and wine! So that was a plus point!

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I recommend Pauls Asian Affair for somewhere with great food and fast table service, but don’t go there to enjoy wine. You will just end up bankrupt!

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A few clean eating moments

Over the last week I have really tried hard to maintain a “clean eating” diet and it’s been received well by Bradley!

The first thing I made last week were my clean eating mini quiches! Brad actually asked “where did you get these from?” when I fed them to him whilst he polished my car. Needless to say I was pretty chuffed with that reaction! Considering they are made from mountain bread wraps, egg and whatever you would like to put into them, they turned out amazing and you can keep them in the fridge for 4-5 days! You can get that recipe here.

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The next dish I wanted to try was a twist on the good old comfort food of meatballs. Well, the only twist is using the super lean meat of kangaroo! These were absolutely amazing (or as the in crowd now say Amazeballs!) The gameyness of the kangaroo went so well with a beautiful rich tomato sauce and was complemented by the selection of herbs. I was going o make spaghetti for Brad and I was just going to have some steamed veggies but I’m pretty hooked on quinoa at the minute so made a little batch of that to go with them. Again, this was a dish that brad enjoyed and even had enough for work the next day! You can check out my kangaroo meatball recipe under the red meat tab!

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The last recipe for this update was a dish that a work colleague got me onto. Chicken with lentils. Of course, me being me, had to adapt the recipe and it turned out amazing. When I told my colleague about the almond meal crust she was adamant that she would use this recipe next time! I’m so please she put me onto this recipe as not only is it clean it’s SUPER fresh and yummy and perfect for a hot summer or warm spring afternoon dinner! This recipe is under my chicken tab.

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I hope you enjoy this first clean eating segment of my blog. There is much more to come like my Parsnip fries for example! Delish!

Clean Quiches Recipe

Clean Kangaroo Meatballs Recipe

Clean Chicken and Lentils Recipe

Polenta – Enough Said

OMG I am slightly addicted to this beautiful ground cornmeal substance!

It was only a few weeks back when I was chatting with Kate, a girl I work with about polenta. She is gluten intolerant and I tend to cook a lot of dishes that are gluten free as my mother is also intolerant. I was telling her about the ready made stuff I used to use in the UK and how amazing it was. You see, I had attempted to make it from powder form and failed miserably. As I’m sure you’re cottoning onto, I don’t do measurements or timing so well and therefore this make it yourself polenta ended up in the bin.

I was super excited two weeks ago when i was just daydreaming down the pasta isle of Coles when I stopped to check a message on my phone and just glanced right and there, low and behold was this ready made polenta!

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Super excited, I snapped a picture quickly and sent it to Kate, I placed the polenta back on it’s shelf and started walking away, only to find myself dashing back to this exciting find and throwing it into my trolley like a little guilty pleasure!

When I got home I popped all my groceries away and then sat and stared at this wonder, wondering what I would make to go with it! You see the ready made stuff, although super easy to use, only as a 3-4 day window from opening the packet and placing it in the fridge. I definitely didn’t want to waste this golden treasure so I started planning meals that I could do that would utilise it all.

The first dish I did I pan fried the polenta in thick steaks trying to achieve the rather difficult black line look. I served this with a T-bone steak, green beans and home made red onion relish. This recipe can be found here.

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I had enough polenta left over to try a very simple polenta and rosemary fries recipe that I just made up. This time, however, I decided to spray the fries with olive oil and sprinkle salt and finely chopped fresh rosemary and then bake them rather then fry them. Although this took around 30 minutes to achieve, the result was mind blowing and I will post a recipe for this as soon as i make them again and remember to take a picture of it!

Last night, I had bought a new packet of this wonderful accompaniment and decided as it was Meatless Monday that I would use some frozen Salmon steaks and build on that. In the end I made a homemade salsa and served the dish with a swirl of Sweet Chilli Sauce. Not the cleanest of eating but OMG it just topped the dish off to a T! You can find that recipe here……

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So my journey with polenta is really only starting. Maybe one day I will venture back to the “do it yourself” kind, but for now, I am happy in the knowledge that sat in my pantry (or fridge when I have opened the packet) is my ready made polenta just waiting to be eaten all up!

#Getinmybelly