Crunch plate

IMG_3245 We have been lucky enough to have done a lot of entertaining lately. For with rugby season in full swing (and us having the only Fox Sports subscription), there have been many an evening where our house was bustling with friends and family. And no little get together would be complete without food. Something to nibble on before dinner, while the game is playing and the enthusiasm grows. One of my all time favourite “plates” to serve on such occasions, is this crunch plate. IMG_3244 So very simple, but so very colourful and tasty – not to mention rather healthy! IMG_3246 A selection of crunchy vegetables (I used celery, carrot and capsicum), served with a creamy lemony hummus for dipping. A little break from the usual ‘footy food’ – that’s for sure! What about you? What is your favourite ‘nibble’ plate to serve when entertaining?

Easy sweet tartlets

IMG_2111_thumb “Bring a plate to share”. I am sure you know the brief. I am sure that you also know that it can lead to days / weeks of deliberation as to what you should bring. On this particular occasion, we were invited to an afternoon cocktail party. I knew there would be lots of good food to share, so I didn’t want to go overboard. But I also wanted to try something new. I was limited on time, but not on inclination, and so these easy sweet tartlets came to be. IMG_2126_thumb But I have to confess, I opted for store bought pastry tartlets to cut down the preparation time (and, let’s be honest, my pastry making skills are still in their novice phase). I found these ones at The Essential Ingredient, and although they were a tad on the expensive side ($29.95 for 60 or so), the lady at the shop assured me they freeze well. IMG_2107_thumb All I had to do was think of the fillings. The first one was rather simple. Chocolate orange mousse with candied orange peel. Sounds fancy yes – but it really was rather easy. IMG_2103_thumb2 I made some candied orange zest – by poaching finely sliced orange peel in boiling water for 5 minutes twice, then simmered it in a mixture of sugar and water for another five. Then it was into the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop and the orange to lose any residual bitterness. IMG_2104_thumb1IMG_2105_thumb1 As for the mousse, I cheated (again!) and made up a packet chocolate mousse with the addition of orange essence. IMG_2108_thumb1IMG_2116_thumb The second variety, again, was really simple. Just lemon curd topped with a blueberry. On reflection, if I had had more time I would have topped the curd with some meringue, but time was short so the lemon / blueberry combination was a tasty alternative nonetheless. IMG_2109_thumb1IMG_2117_thumb The third and final variety was a bit of a flop. I had intended to make caramel tarts with a chocolate garnish, but my store-bought caramel was too runny. Instead, I combined it with some whipped cream, topped with a sliced strawberry and a sprinkle of grated chocolate. IMG_2118_thumb And I think the finished result, when the three varieties were put together,  was rather cute… IMG_2110_thumb1 From the right – chocolate orange, lemon curd and caramel. IMG_2114_thumb1 Tasty little morsels that I was pleased to see disappeared rather quickly at the party! IMG_2115_thumb1 A fancy little plate – with fairly minimal fuss… IMG_2121_thumb1 That’s my kinda ‘bring a plate’! What about you? What are your favourites when asked to ‘bring a plate’?

Bring a plate – tomato, olive and boccocini bites

IMG_9839 We were invited to a cocktail party recently and asked to “bring a plate”. Something savoury to share, and soak up the effects of tequila-laden margaritas. IMG_9830 And I think these little bites fit the bill just perfectly. IMG_9834 Pitted kalamata olives, baby boccocini and serrano tomatoes (halved), threaded onto skewers (aka.. toothpicks). IMG_9840 For a ‘dip’, I cheated and spooned some store-bought basil pesto into a small bowl in the middle of the plate. IMG_9841 For we all know that tomatoes + basil are a match made in heaven! IMG_9843 Although these take a little time to put together, they are super easy and rather cute! IMG_9836 A lovely little retro ‘bring a plate’ contribution. What about you? What do you bring when asked to ‘bring a plate’?

Our cheeky monkey first birthday party


Last weekend, we were lucky enough to have all our closest family and friends in town to celebrate Miss C turning 1. We were also blessed with a warm Canberra day, perfect for an indoor / outdoor celebration, followed by a casual BBQ dinner.


And while I am sure there will be lots of pink and princesses in future parties, we decided on a slightly different theme and colour scheme for C’s first birthday – a cheeky monkey party!


I had a lot of fun putting together the dessert table for the party – using yellow and aqua as the main colours. Featuring – rocky road, lemon meringue pies, bananas, blue jelly beans, lolly pops and Miss C’s favourite – banana milkshakes!


As for the cake – I was inspired by the Martha Stewart monkey cake (link here), and the idea grew from there. This ended up being a HUGE cake, but was a lot of fun to put together.


I also made a smaller monkey to use as a “smash cake”, although he ended up being a little haphazard….


When decorating the rest of the house, we kept things relatively simple. Some bunches of yellow and aqua balloons scattered around the house, along with fresh yellow lilies and colourful lanterns lining our deck.


So how did the party go??? Food was eaten, the bubbly was flowing, songs were sung, cake was smashed, presents were opened and many cuddles were had.

IMG_8504IMG_8473IMG_8480IMG_8445IMG_8510IMG_8516IMG_8527IMG_8543IMG_8553IMG_8579IMG_8607IMG_8629IMG_8634IMG_8638IMG_8687IMG_8735IMG_8748  IMG_8750IMG_8780IMG_8805IMG_8797IMG_8616IMG_8591IMG_8603IMG_8624IMG_8792

And we were again reminded how very blessed we are to have such a close and loving family Smile

Party details

Since Father’s Day, life seems to have hit me at full speed – with work, a presentation to give (work), 3 challenges completed in TOH 20 day challenge (details later this week), a baby not sleeping very well at night, a new business ‘idea’ that is probably crazy but I am thinking about it anyway and, you know, just life in general. But thankyou for all your sweet comments about our Father’s Day lunch. I thought I would share some of the details with you. IMG_0728 Decorations Starting with my favourite decorations – fresh blooms. A bunch of yellow lilies and some other yellow flowers -  that I placed in some recycled jars I had on hand. IMG_0670IMG_0676 I found this print online (somewhere?) and popped it in a frame for the dessert table. IMG_0625 Finished with the addition of some homemade bunting – and of course – the cake. IMG_0662 The bunting was rather easy – created simply with some leftover scrapbooking paper,  ribbon and double sided tape. The menus and cake label were created with the help of – printed onto paper then glued to some cardboard. IMG_0628IMG_0669 Simple, cheap, yet effective. Food As for the food – the markets were my saviour. Between the deli, the butcher and the greengrocer – the produce spoke for itself. Starting with the antipasto platter – which came together in 5 minutes (or less!) IMG_0701 Prosciutto, truffle salami, stuffed olives, marinated bocconcini and some crackers. While the side dishes were made in advance inspired by these recipes – Carrot and chickpea pilaf – brown rice used in place of white. IMG_0664 Eggplant, walnut and feta salad – the key being good quality feta! IMG_0682 And of course, the main meal, cooked by my two trusty BBQ chefs… IMG_0712 Butterflied leg of lamb – that I had marinated in olive oil, garlic and cumin overnight. IMG_0727 And finally – the star of the show – that ever impressive kit kat cake! IMG_0628 Two GF vanilla cakes, layered between chocolate butter icing. Finished with the kit kat edging and a ribbon, and topped with M & Ms. IMG_0644 Again – an easy yet impressive addition to our lunch! But I don’t think you can go too wrong when it comes to that much chocolate. Between my trip to the markets, and the assistance of some items I had at home (glass jars, ribbon, paper etc) – this party really came together with not a lot of fuss. And I certainly had a lot of fun planning and preparing it (although I am a little strange like that!) What about you? Do you like planning parties?

Party Food: Coleslaw with a ‘difference’

Wowza! What a day.

I left home this morning at 5am, and didn’t get home from my Brisbane work trip until after 8pm! A long day indeed. While I enjoy travelling for work, it can be quite disruptive to my routine at times, particularly with respect to training. But hey, I guess there is always tomorrow right???

Rather than bore you with pictures of the toasted ham/cheese/tomato sandwich I threw together for dinner (which was exactly what I felt like for dinner – but was rather dull from a blogging perspective) I thought I would share with you another one of the salads we served at the recent birthday party.


But not your average coleslaw – a coleslaw with a difference.


Natural yoghurt, dijon mustard, fresh dill, white wine vinegar and lemon juice combined…


To make a rich creamy dressing without the usually calorific mayonnaise!


Stirred through purple and green cabbage, carrots and celery…


Crunchy and creamy. Just how a good coleslaw should be. And, with the added bonus of having extra flavour but minus the calories.

Another healthy take on an old classic if you will 🙂

Coleslaw with yoghurt dill dressing

  • 1/4 green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 purple cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 bunch celery, sliced finely
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • handful of chopped dill
  1. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the yoghurt, dijon, vinegar, lemon juice and dill.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad and stir until well combined.

What about you? Do you have a favourite coleslaw recipe?

Happy Baking 🙂

Party Food: Pesto Pasta Salad

IMG_7207 Thankyou all for your kind words about the ‘day at the races’ party we threw for my parents in law last weekend. As may of you guessed, it was a combined party for my mother and father in law as they both turn 70 within a few months of each other. One of the salads that disappeared quickly was the pesto pasta salad. Made, of course, with fresh basil pesto. IMG_7161 Which is a convenient addition to any party given that it can be made in advance. IMG_7162 IMG_7164 IMG_7167 Stored away until needed…. IMG_7168 Then stirred through a bowlful of pasta resulting in a super easy, super tasty, party salad! IMG_7207 A vibrant accompaniment to any BBQ lunch… IMG_7208 With the wonderful abundance of fresh basil. Pesto pasta salad

  • 1 pkt penne (GF or regular) , cooked to al dente then drained and rinsed under cold water
  • 1 cup well packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs pinenuts
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • frozen peas, refreshed under running water
  • extra pine nuts to garnish
  1. To make the pesto, process the basil, olive oil, garlic, pinenuts until almost smooth. Stir through the parmesan.
  2. Place the pasta, zucchini and peas into a bowl. Pour over the pesto, and stir well to combine.
  3. Garnish with extra pinenuts before serving.

____ And in other news, a couple of you have asked about my upcoming race schedule. While the season has largely finished in Canberra – I did come across the Batemans Bay Triathlon Festival scheduled to take place this weekend. And, seeing as I was going to be ‘down the Bay’ at the weekend for a wedding anyway, it seemed to good to be true. A little Enticer race to start my Sunday morning?? Sounds like fun to me! Happy Baking 🙂

An afternoon at the “Races”

Training: Mountain Biking 17km Hi there! Yup I am still here…just recovering from a busy weekend. The star of which was, of course, the big birthday party to celebrate my parents (in-law) turning 70! misc2 Fact: My father-in-law loves horse racing and even has quite a few race-day hopefuls down at his farm. misc77 So, when looking for a theme for his 70th birthday party, ‘a day at the races’ theme immediately sprung to mind! IMG_7197 Which meant…most importantly……race fashions! Frilly dress and fascinator?? misc4 Don’t mind if I do 😉 There was a great turnout at the local Bowls Club (that we had hired for the afternoon) as over 100 people arrived to join in the celebrations. IMG_7241 IMG_7243 And, in the spirit of the day, there were so many wonderful hats / dresses and fascinators. misc7misc6   misc3misc9 Adorable! misc10misc8 But sunshine, fun and fashion aside, we had over 110 mouths to feed! And while the guests had the beany beetroot dipIMG_7108 And roasted capsicum hummus to nibble on at the start…. IMG_7155 It wasn’t long before we had to set the salad table , the idea being that the the guests could load up their plates before heading out to collect some meat being cooked on the outdoor BBQ. IMG_7218 And what a spread it ended up being. IMG_7219 Tamari rice salad… IMG_7204 Pesto pasta salad (recipe to follow)… IMG_7208 Dijon Coleslaw (recipe to follow)… IMG_7206 Roasted pumpkin and beetroot salad…. IMG_7203 Also added to the table was a greek salad, and a cranberry and apple green salad… IMG_7201 Finished with a potato salad (unfortunately un-pictured) The salads disappeared quickly and surprisingly we had very little left. And, not long after clearing up the salad bar, it was time to re-stock it with the sweet stars of the show. We actually made 3 birthday cakes – all of which just barely survived the warm car trip to the venue (eeeeeeek!). The main cake was a layered black forest cake, with cherry brandy cream and maraschino cherries…. IMG_7210 (Sadly ending up with a car-travel –induced crack…..!) IMG_7225 And chocolate shards to decorate the outside…. IMG_7213 (which  sadly also struggled to survive the warm car ride to the venue) IMG_7214 And topped with an edible icing image of Mr BBB’s parents’ first winning horse! IMG_7190 (An “in progress” picture to show it without the car-induced crack!) On the side, we also had his and hers "70" cakes. Both were vanilla, topped with lemon buttercream. One decorated with smarties…. IMG_7226 While the other was decorated with mini marshmallows. IMG_7224 While I was unable to partake in the cake eating (only cake making) as they were not wheat free, there was barely a slice leftover so they cant have been too bad! Overall, it was a fun afternoon spent ‘at the races’, and a testament that prior preparation and planning can make catering for over 100+ people not too stressful. misc99 Car rides with melting cakes on the other hand….. I will be posting my thoughts on the planning process very soon, but right now this filly is having an early night 🙂 What about you? Have you ever been to a theme party? Happy Baking 🙂

Party Food: Roasted Capsicum Hummus

Well it is all busy busy busy in the BBB household as we finalise the food for tomorrow’s party. Salads….check. Cakes…check. Dressings….check! And more dips…. IMG_7158 check! If yesterday’s preparation was all about Beany Beetroot Dip, then today was all about Roasted Capsicum Hummus. Ie. not your normal Hummus – but one that is taken from fab to FANTASTIC with sweet roasted capsicum. And, which served as a further reminder of how homemade dips really are too easy. IMG_7141 Into the food processor went chickpeas and roasted capsicum, IMG_7142 Garlic, paprika… IMG_7143 Tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and water.  IMG_7144 Processed until smooth.  IMG_7145 And voila!  IMG_7148 A vibrant dip…  IMG_7151 Packed with spice…  IMG_7152 And flavour 🙂  IMG_7153 Not to mention super easy 🙂  IMG_7157  IMG_7159 Packed up and ready to go! IMG_7160 And the baking continues…. Roasted capsicum hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200g roasted capsicum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tbs paprika
  1. Process all ingredients until smooth.

What about you? Do you have any ‘secret’ ingredients in your hummus? Happy Baking 🙂

Party Food: Beany Beetroot Dip

Training: Body PumpIMG_7108 Holy moly – today was a busy one. Lucky I went to the gym before work (Body Pump) as the rest of my day was "go go go" pretty much from the time I got up until bed time. Although, I must admit, when things are hectic the super-organiser in me appears. So my day might have been busy, but it was certainly productive. Part of the reason today was so fill was that after work I hit the shops to buy the necessary ingredients for the party this weekend. And, rather unsurprisingly, the ingredients to cater for 110+ people are quite the fridge … IMG_7131 (The crispers are also jammed packed full) And bench fillers! IMG_7133 Yes those are (shamefully) packet cake mixes. But all will be revealed over the coming days 😉 While making the party salads were not on the cards tonight, the appetisers certainly were. After all, one of the keys to stress-free parties is making what you can in advance. So, dip I did. IMG_7099 While I would normally spend time roasting fresh beetroot, given I was short on time (and wasn’t really in the mood for a hand-staining) I opted for tinned baby beets instead. Or, as I like to call them…convenience in a can. Into the food processor went beans and spices. IMG_7100 Beetroot and lemon juice. IMG_7101 Yoghurt and fresh dill. IMG_7102 Processed until combined. IMG_7103 With a little texture remaining. I really love how vibrant this dip is! IMG_7107 The flavour was sweet from the beetroot, yet there was also a lingering tartness from the yoghurt. IMG_7114 And a creamy texture owing to the beans. IMG_7106 Seriously, why buy store bought when homemade is this fuss-free!? IMG_7113 IMG_7125IMG_7121 I transferred the prepared dip into an air tight container – and will keep it in the fridge until Saturday’s party. IMG_7126 It doesn’t get any simpler than that 😉 Beany Beetroot Dip This vibrant dip is easy to make, and delicious to eat, and would make a welcomed addition to any party. Serve it with crackers or vegetable sticks , or even use it as a sandwich filler!

  • 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can baby beets (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until combined and you have reached your desired consistency.

What about you? What is your favourite dip? Happy Baking 🙂