31 July 2014

Tween Fashionista - Skirt

It's true. It's another simple skirt. She loves them. She wears them all the time. Why not make more, right?

30 July 2014

Spinach and Basil Pasta Salad

Spinach and Basil Pasta Salad
 from allrecipes.com

1 (16 ounce) box bow tie pasta
6 ounces spinach leaves
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces prosciutto, diced 
salt and ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
Toss the spinach and basil together in a large bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the garlic in the hot oil for 1 minute; stir in the prosciutto and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add to the bowl with the spinach and basil mixture; toss to combine. Pour in the drained pasta and retoss. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts to serve.

29 July 2014

Around Wellington - Te Ahumairangi Hill

Staying a little closer to home this time - taking in the walk up to our own Te Ahumairangi Hill in Northland (formerly known as Orangi Kaupapa). From the view point we can see down over the greenbelt to the city and the harbour. We also had a perfect view of Dad's office building. 

We started out pretty lively, here we are heading  up Northland Road past Northland School. The pathway we take to the hill is an old track that was used in the 1820's by the local Maori to access their gardens, as well as access through to Karori and on to the coast at Makara Beach. The track was also supposedly a popular route for sailors deserting their ships in Wellington Harbour, who would hide out in the bush until it was safe to reappear in town.

Starting to slow down a bit. It was pretty much up hill ALL the way from our house. It's nice to hitch a ride now and then.

Nearly to the top. This stop is Stellin Memorial Park, dedicated to an airman who crashed his plane near a French village during WWII.

Now we head up through the bush on one of the many Town Belt walking tracks, next stop: Te Ahumairangi Lookout.

Lots of native bird and plant species can be seen here at the top of the hill. Starting after a hurricane force storm in August of 2004, exotic plant species were removed and replanting began, using only native plants. After 10 years, the bush is coming back strong and healthy.

It's a relief to run DOWN hill, finally.

Homeward bound and very ready for lunch!

28 July 2014

Menu Plan Monday




Roast chicken
Potatoes, carrots


Pizza Night


Crock pot Sloppy Joes






Soup Night  - YSA dinner
Broccoli Cheese

25 July 2014

Friday Favorites

I am a huge fan of lemons. When we moved to New Zealand, I quickly discovered how easy it was going to be to satisfy my cravings for all things lemony. One of the first things we tried was L&P Soda. It's a unique, lemon flavored soda described by the company as "world famous in New Zealand." I liked it. Then I found L&P Sour. Seriously the best soda I have ever had. I should qualify this by mentioning that I am not a huge fan of soda. I really, really don't like Coke or Pepsi, so if I can't find Dr. Pepper or perhaps Thomas Kemper root beer, I will be happy to drink water. Or L&P Sour. I wonder if this will ever make its way to the USA?

23 July 2014

Quick and Easy Thai Wraps

One of my family's favorite meals is the Thai wrap. My husband and teenager just like it because it's lots of food, my two younger kids like it because they don't have to eat the parts they don't want. I like it because it's quick, easy and delicious. It's one of the few meals I make with packaged ingredients, but all of these things can be made from scratch if you want. It just won't be quick.

We don't really have just one version, but all you need are a few basic ingredients. Meat, rice, coleslaw, peanut satay sauce, sweet chili sauce and something to wrap it all in.

Get rice cooking in your rice cooker or on the stove top. Marinate the meat for about 30 minutes in your favorite marinade - something with ginger and soy sauce, maybe a little rice wine vinegar. Cook it until it is done, but not dried out. Mix up the coleslaw. We really like the pictured version from krispkut. The dressing gives a really nice flavor with the other sauces we use. We usually use regular tortillas for these wraps, but sometimes we will use spring roll wrappers as well. Use whatever you like.

To serve, layer rice, meat and coleslaw on the wrap, top with peanut satay and sweet (or hot) chili sauce and wrap it. Eat up! It's healthy and delicious.

22 July 2014

Around Wellington - Red Rocks Walkway


The Red Rocks are ancient pillow lava formed by undersea volcanic eruptions. Iron oxides give the rocks their distinctive colour.

Maori folklore explains the colour of the rocks with the story of Kupe -a famous Polynesian explorer. He was gathering paua (shellfish) here when one clamped his hand. He bled and stained the rocks red.

On one side, the sea, and on the other, beautiful native plants and visual proof of the active seismic zone that is New Zealand. 

This is a 4 km walk each way, longer if you have to stake a claim on the pinnacle of every rock and poke a stick in every single tide pool you find. If you go, make sure to set aside a good half a day. It's worth it.  We went at mid-day, and as you can see, much of the walk, we were in the shade. The walk is fairly gentle, but rough terrain. Sand, rocks, stream beds to cross and the occasional off-road vehicle are some of the challenges - or adventures - you will encounter. 

Usually from May to October, the fur seal colony is populated by bachelor males, however, this trip we did come across a small group of females and pups. Lucky us!


18 July 2014

Friday Favorites

I never thought I'd say this, but Weird Al just made a song for me and some of my other geeky friends. It's going to have to be a Friday favorite. I'm not saying that I haven't appreciated his satire over the years, just that a very little Al goes a very long way. Those of you whose children have passed through a Weird Al phase know what I'm talking about. 
In spite of the photo, I don't mean Tacky, although I quite enjoy that song. The song I really want to share with you is Word Crimes. 



16 July 2014

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cookies (Eggless)

½ cup butter
4 Tbsp. oil
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
6 Tbsp. water
¼ tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Beat butter, oil and sugars together until creamy. Add water 1 Tbsp at a time and continue beating until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix well.  Form into 1” balls and place on baking sheet. Bake at 177 C or 350 F for 9 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. *These cookies will be vegan if you substitute vegan margarine for the butter.

15 July 2014

Around Wellington - Chocolate Fish

Chocolate Fish is an iconic Wellington cafe where the atmosphere is relaxed and all the food is grilled. Yep, ALL of it. There is a variety of grilled fish items, with the most popular being grilled fish sammies with garlic aioli. Kids are very welcome and the front of the restaurant is populated with trikes, scooters and other small vehicles for kids to play on while their parents relax and enjoy the waterfront scene. The kids menu includes grilled cheese sammies, cheese and bacon sammies, burgers and cocoa pops. 

The Reuben

 Grilled cheese and bacon sammie - chocolate fish on the side

We loved the atmosphere and the food, and we'll be going back one day soon. 

14 July 2014

Menu Plan Monday




Chicken Satay


Broccoli Cheese Soup


Thai Noodles and Veggies






Crock pot Salisbury Steak
Mashed potatoes

11 July 2014

School Holidays!

Have you missed me this week? All 9 of you? lol. It's the school holidays, and I've been running around playing with my kids. This first week of the holidays has been gorgeous. Warm, sunny and no wind or rain! I can hardly believe it's winter. I can't wait to share with you some of the fun things we've been doing. 
I'll be back to my regular schedule on Monday. See you then!

04 July 2014

Friday Favorites - Redhead Express


I love these girls! They have the energy and the talent to make it big. They love what they do, and you can feel it! Take some time and listen to more from this amazing group of sisters. 

Subscribe to Redhead Express on YouTube so you can follow their road to fame.

02 July 2014

White Bean, Ham and Kale Soup

Crammed full of Veggie goodness, this ham and bean soup is the ultimate comfort food. It takes hardly any time to make as well, which makes it the perfect go-to recipe for a rainy, busy day. The recipe calls for kale, but that wasn't available here, so I used Silverbeet, which is a member of the Chard family.
This is also a great way to use leftover ham. After New Years or Easter (the two times a year that we may have ham) I dice up the leftovers and freeze them for those days when I need a quick soup.

White Bean, Ham and Kale Soup

1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. savory herbs (thyme, rosemary, etc.)
2 cups diced, cooked ham
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cans of navy or cannellini beans
3-4 cups water
A bunch of Kale  - 3-4 cups chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Dice up the onion and celery and cook in the olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Add the savory herbs, bay leaf and the ham, and cook together a little longer. Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced carrots, the beans and water. Bring back to a simmer and reduce heat, simmering on low for half an hour or until the carrots are soft. Salt and pepper as needed to flavor the broth. About 10 minutes before serving, chop the kale into bite size chunks and add to the soup. Let cook until wilted and remove from heat. Serve with scones or crusty country bread.