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!

IMG_2423

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!

IMG_2373        IMG_2422

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.

IMG_2375 IMG_2379IMG_2380

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!

IMG_2381 IMG_2382 IMG_2383

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!

Advertisements

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.

my pics 002

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!

IMG_0957

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.

IMG_0960

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

Hubby in the Kitchen

As you are probably aware, I do tend to dominate the kitchen. This is really for a few reasons. 1) I love cooking, 2) I have more patience in the kitchen and 3) I hate washing up and the rule in our house is one person cooks, the other person cleans.

This weekend though ended up a bit of a role reversal with hubby taking to the kitchen and making delicious Banana Bread for morning and afternoon teas and his “to die for” Chicken Kievs (this was my recipe which he has now adapted and claimed as his own!) We had his children stay with us this weekend and that is what they requested, so as any dutiful dad will do – he complied!

In our family Brad is definitely the baker and I am the cook. I just have no patience in the measuring cup and spoon department and yet hubby just takes his time and writes everything down to perfect it even more the next time he does the recipe! He does tend to make me pretty anxious when he is in the kitchen though, so I do tend to stay as far away as I possibly can!

order-and-chaos

I must take my hat off to Brad though, I think maybe only twice in 5 years of being together has there been a disaster come out of the kitchen, always still edible just maybe not how he expected it to come out and then that makes him cranky. I love my husband to pieces but sometimes his competitive streak gets the better of him!

I really hope you enjoy both the Banana Bread recipe and the “to die for” Chicken Kievs. Brad is getting more involved with my blog now, so I’m sure we will see even more yummy things coming from him in the future!

Crushed Expectations

You may think I’m being dramatic, over analysing, or just plain fussy but I kid you not, my expectations when it comes to a restaurant, bar or when eating out is ALWAYS crushed should I visit an establishment more then three times, or order the same dish more then once!

Don’t get me wrong this hasn’t only happened to me when it comes to food. Only 5 weeks ago my world came crushing down around me when a hairdresser, I thought had done an amazing job on my hair 6 weeks previously, proceeded to hack away at my hair and obviously was more focused on me saying I was “thinking” about having it cut off for summer, then remembering that she was “thinning” my hair, not leaving my head practically bald in spots and me devastated.

But back to my food conundrum, so last week, on our regular Friday Work Lunch, we decided to head to The Wharf Bar in Honeysuckle, NSW. Secretly inside I was exploding with excitement! The last time we had been there I was attempting a low fat diet and had a grilled chicken burger and no bun. What I secretly longed for though, was the most amazing Reef and Beef pizza with a thick, salty, zesty aioli swirl on top. *dribbles* So on Friday, when I got told this was where we were heading, I knew I didn’t even need to glance at the menu. I was having that pizza. I ordered a beer which by all means was lovely and cold. We all ordered our food and I sat back in anticipation for this beautiful reef and beef pizza (another way of saying Surf and Turf) We were being updated by Kate and Victoria about their separate journeys into buying houses when our food was finally delivered.

Talk about crushed expectations. Although I did not take a photo of my disappointing, flavour lacking pizza, I’m sure the below pictures can relay my disappointment. The first picture portrays the most amazing, flavour filled pizza, carefully constructed to be able to attack each and every taste bud I own, and the second pizza is that pure stingy felt, heart lacking, non-picturesque pizza that was actually delivered.

amazing pizzapizza fail

 

Why is it that you can go and try a new cafe, bar, restaurant out and have THE most amazing experience there and then you get all geared up to go back  only to be disappointed with the lack of service, the quality of food or just the general place itself?

Above has been a long running trend for my husband and I. When I knew my mum was coming to visit from the UK, we searched for the best breakfast place in town that would offer the most extensive Gluten and Dairy free options around. We did and we went there three times before my mum eventually got to us, only to take her there and wait for over 50 minutes to get our breakfasts! Disaster, one because I was embarrassed at how much I had “bigged” this restaurant up and two because I turn nasty when I’m hungry and especially hungover!

Even friends of ours, Daisy and Christian, had raved about a local breakfast place that was close to us and that we had to try out. Again, the service was atrocious and my sweetcorn fritters with a side of Smoked Salmon came out (very late) as a soggy pancake and a pile of smoked salmon. (not complaining about the amount of smoked salmon, but it was evidently apparent that the amount of salmon on the plate was the reason they could charge $18 for this mess). Our poor friends were mortified. We have however discussed this further and are aware they have usually gone there for brunch and we were there in peak 9.30am breakfast time. But still it’s that crushed expectation when you have in your mind how amazing this experience should be.

Am I the only unlucky one who has been unfortunate enough to experience this? Is there a particular reason why this happens? Are your expectations raised after the first amazing visit and therefore you are your own worst enemy? But aren’t expectations there fore a reason, should you not strive to reach perfect of culinary expertise, or enjoy a comfortable clean environment or in fact not walk away from a salon with half your head of hair missing? Will i ever learn?

 

First weekend of July

The past 24 hours have been pretty awesome! After my wonderfully boozey and steak filled lunch on Friday, I decided that for me to go home and cook for a hungry husband and two hungry, fussy children would not be the way to go about my Friday afternoon and start to the weekend.  So I rang my husband and advised I didn’t want to cook and he was the one who suggested Mr Foongs – our local Chinese takeaway! Now Chinese takeaways have been a bit hit and miss in every town I have lived in, but randomly on a little street in my suburb, Mr Foongs does a pretty awesome Chinese dish. The usual order consist of Satay Chicken, Mongolian Lamb and Spicy beef which this time around I ordered extra hot !! (and it didn’t disappoint!)

I rang through at about 6pm and as always the beautiful Chinese daughter, who would only be about 8 years old, answered the phone and took my order, polite, professional and understood everything. The order was made in Bradleys name as I knew he would go and get the food later on. $48.80 later we have 3 dishes, one bag of prawn chips and a rice to boot and we are all cowing down on our Chinese with, might I add, chops sticks!

IMG_0413

Now, don’t get me wrong this hasn’t always been a love/love relationship with Mr Foongs, when we first moved into our house we were craving a good old fish cocktail and chips. Mr Foongs also advertised that there was another take away in their establishment called “Peters Takeaway”. So we thought, “well the Chinese is pretty good lets go there for western food”. Boy, were we wrong! The cocktails were something that had been cooked and left for a good few hours, the batter soggy not just soft and the fish completely dry inside. There was no flavour throughout and the chips lacked their vavavoom of shop bought chips. an overall disaster.

Anyway, everyone loved their Chinese treat. As I’ve said before I always try and cook my step children something healthy and nutritious as I don’t believe they get that at home. So when I sit back and let take away get ordered they are pretty excited! As the kids washed up, Brad and I sat back on the lounge and chilled out after our long week of work.

IMG_0420

For Saturday a colleague of mine Victoria, had organised a “pamper afternoon” where a consultant of a company came in trying to flog their wares and we all got to have a play with it all 🙂 I asked Victoria if it was all good for Katie to come along too. All was fine. With me driving and Katie only 12 I decided to invest all of $8.69 into a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne as I knew the rest of the girls would be drinking proper champagne! To be completely honest, although the Cuvee was a little on the sweet sick it was actually pretty scrummy! I’m surprised not more pregnant woman aren’t opting for this?! I was drinking bubbles, out of a glass and the best part was I didn’t wake up with a hangover this morning!

IMG_0427

We left a little late but we weren’t too concerned as Bradley and Mitchell had opted to cook dinner for us all that evening! Great! So we all drove the 1 hour journey home and was greeted with a big kiss and a large glass of shiraz! Yummy! Brad has perfected his pizzas and I will eventually get a recipe for you for his bases as they came out AMAZING this time around. Brad made three different pizzas for us, a pepperoni with extra, extra pepperoni, a surf and turf and my favourite a creamy based chicken and mushroom! YUMMY!!!

IMG_0424 IMG_0426