Friday, January 9, 2015

3 exciting adventures to take your children on these holidays

Even if your holidaze are cruising along at a relaxed, cheerful clip, I bet you are still on the look out for a few interesting things to mix it up a little, am I right? Or, if your holidays are a bit like mine and there is not enough coffee to cope with bored, bickering children and all your plans have been derailed by unexpected weather, are you looking for a few things to divert the little blighters from killing each other and/or burning the house down? Do you fall somewhere in the middle? Lucky you!

1. Go see Disney's INTO THE WOODS at the cinema. 

This well executed movie combines several fairy tales into one cohesive story, and is filled with enough big names in award worthy performances to keep even the most jaded parent interested. Meryl Streep is an excellent witch, and is going to win a lot of awards for this role. Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Tracey Ullman and the rest of the star studded cast seamlessly stitch together the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Baker and his Wife in a musical comedy drama where the main message is about taking responsibility for your actions. My boys really enjoyed watching this, and I think it would be perfect for anyone who is ready to move on from Frozen. If you still need convincing, let me tell you that Johnny Depp plays the wicked wolf. 

Opened 8th January 2015
In cinemas nationally. 

2. Go to the theatre and see The Wind in the Willows

This is a one man play, with the hugely talented Luke Carroll (from Play School!) performing the well loved characters of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The play goes for 60 minutes, which is perfect timing for younger children. There is a lot of audience participation to keep everyone involved, and most excitingly for my junior toads, the characters occasionally run through the audience!  My boys are familiar with the story of The Wind in the Willows, but the little girl next to me was not, and she had a fantastic time as well. I hadn't been to La Boite Theatre before, but was pleased to find it was almost like Sydney's Her Majesty's Theatre on a more intimate scale, which is conducive to a very atmospheric performance. I'm sure there is a technical term for this style of theatre that I am unaware of. Just goes to show you can still enjoy this theatrical production without knowing much about theatre. 

Showing from 7th - 17th January 2015 at La Boite Theatre, Brisbane. 
For tickets go to the

3. Go and experience High Country Legends at Australian Outback Spectacular

I've saved the biggest and the best for last. The Australian Outback Spectacular is definitely the biggest night time dinner show in Australia, with hundreds of animal and human performers providing a uniquely amazing display of outback Australia. This new line up raises the bar on the already impressive display of horsemanship, and aims to tell the '..the greatest stories never told'. Australian culture has many historic tales that highlight the importance that horses have played and continue to play, and this new show tells these stories impeccably all while you sit back and enjoy a gourmet campfire feast. Clancy of the Overflow, Mountain Brumby, and Cattle Muster are what you might expect, but also be prepared for the Ghost Coach of Omeo (spooky!) and the story of May Zinger-Wirth, the 7 year old girl sold to the circus who became the worlds greatest bareback rider; as well as many displays of outback life. The show goes for about 2 hours and combines sophisticated technology (a huge imax screen with a massive arena showcases the spectacle perfectly; it actually snows inside; fog, light and sound all intermix to make your experience....well, spectacular) with talented performers (many musical numbers performed by the experienced cast, as well as impressive trick riding, racing, an amazingly talented dog and the worlds cutest donkey.) The arena holds over 1000 people and they are all served dinner within 8 minutes - a spectacle in itself. Oh, and you get a free hat. GO. You will LOVE it. 


For further information including show times and ticket sales, visit the website here.

Happy Holidaze!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bring back the Dinner Party! But first, a giveaway.

This post is bought to you in collaboration with Corelle.

I might be showing my age here, but back in the early '90s Mr BC (then fiance C) and I would host many dinner parties. We would crank up the Sade, and treat our guests to a pre-dinner cocktail followed by several courses of rich, overly prepared, adventurous courses all matched carefully with wines because we were utter wine snobs. To finish, there would always be chocolates and port, accompanied by an argumentative game of Pictionary into the wee hours of the morning. Ahhhh, good times!

I tell you this because Corelle have released a YouTube series called 'The Tipsy Hostess' and I thought it was an absolute crack up!  Tiffany is the hostess with the mostess. It reminded me of several episodes of bad behaviour, (probably from me) but also from one notoriously childish grown up. He complained loudly that his spoon was Not A Proper Soup Spoon, and flounced off to the kitchen to throw the offending spoon into the sink before selecting a new spoon and returning to the table to slurp his soup in huffy indignation. He had selected the spoon we used to feed the cat, a fact neither the fiance or myself offered as we sat there in smug silence and let him enjoy his soup.

Here is episode 1, but make sure you also catch episodes 2 and 3. Hilarious!

Corelle is the original break and chip resistant dinnerware, known for it's legendary toughness. I can see it has a lot in common with Tiffany! You can follow Tiffany's exploits here, she has plenty of tips for hosting the perfect evening! Corelle dinnerware is perfect for flighty dinner guests, fractious children, camping disasters, and maybe even tantrum throwing hosts. It's also very reasonably priced if you are just starting out on your dinner party journey.

Corelle would like to give away a dining set to the person with the best tip for hosting a dinner party, entry is via Rafflecopter below. If you can't think of any tips, just tell me something you would cook for your ideal dinner party, or a story about a dinner party you've hosted, or attended. The winner can choose from either South Beach or Ruby Red, and Corelle will ship it to you directly; hopefully in time for your next dinner party! The winner will be drawn on Monday 22nd December. 

South Beach or Ruby Red? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is not sponsored, but Corelle did send me the South Beach dinner set to try, and I absolutely love it. It is fresh and summery, and I don't have to worry about the monkeys breaking it or teenage daughter chipping it as she angrily unloads the dishwasher. Thanks Corelle!

Monday, December 8, 2014

In the Sack: 15 Ideas for stunning Christmas Canapes

Today I am blogging for Agent Mystery Case's In The Sack series, which is all about making Christmas easier and surviving the silly season, hopefully with your sanity (and dignity!) intact. Pop over to Agent Mystery Case for some great giveaways! 

Do you like a fancy hors d'oeuvre? Me too. I know Christmas is all about the feast, and you certainly won't need anything extra to nosh on prior to lunch; it's just that an impressive little mouthful goes a long way to set the scene for civilized frivolity; I kind of think it encourages people to be on their best behaviour. Besides, it soaks up the pre-lunch cocktail like no one's business. Here are 15 ideas to add some pizzazz to your Christmas day, and keep the rellos out of the kitchen while you slice the turkey. All can be prepped the day before, with just a few moments needed to serve - even the ones that require hubs to man the BBQ.

Sweet potato with spinach salad
Cut small rounds of sweet potato, roast until crispy in a hot oven. Chop fresh spinach or silverbeet with some feta, shallots and salt and pepper, set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve, quickly pop the sweet potato in the oven to heat up without going crispy, remove from the oven and arrange on a serving tray, top each sweet potato disc with a spoon of salad. Prep the day before, assemble just before serving.

Spoons with an oyster, seaweed salad and flying fish roe.
I first had this in a fancy restaurant and it was amazing, considering it is basically just assembly. Place Chinese spoons on a serving tray. In each spoon place an oyster (use freshly shucked oysters that you get in a jar for this, don't bother with the half shell.), a small amount of (bought) seaweed salad, and top with a small amount of red flying fish roe, you know the stuff used in sushi. Delicious! Assemble on the day, a few hours before serving.

Marinated prawns on skewers
Peel and remove poop chute from raw prawns, leave the end of the tail on. Place length ways on a skewer so they look like long fingers with tails on the end, and place in a shallow dish. Mix up some lemon juice, turmeric, crushed ginger and fish sauce, pour over the prawns and leave to marinate overnight. When you are ready to serve, send your husband out to BBQ them for a few minutes, turning frequently. Do NOT overcook, they are already cooked a little bit by the lemon juice.

Scallops wrapped in bacon
Wrap a Tasmanian sea scallop in a small piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick or skewer. Continue until all the scallops are wrapped. If you want, marinate in some olive oil, finely chopped fresh rosemary and garlic. Leave overnight, then send Hubs off to BBQ them when you are ready to serve. They won't take long at all.

Honey lime chicken skewers
Use chicken thigh fillets to make some skewers, marinate overnight in a mixture of lime juice, lime zest, honey and crushed ginger, do this the day before. BBQ when ready to serve. The honey will make them burn quite easily, so warn hubs to set the BBQ to medium.

Rudolph pies (made with venison)
Excellent for shock value! You can make the filling a few days or even weeks earlier, it freezes really well. Saute some chopped carrot, garlic and onion in olive oil until soft. Toss diced venison in seasoned flour, add to the pan and cook quickly to ensure the outside is seared. Stir in half a cup of stock, and half a cup of wine, simmer over very low heat until thickened. This is your filling! Use a well greased mini muffin pan to make the pies, I used shortcrust pastry for the bottom and puff pastry for the lids. Cook about 30 minutes in a medium oven until pastry is cooked, serve with a wicked grin. Make the pies the day before and cook on the day.

Lettuce rolls with spicy noodle salad
Mix cooked udon noodles, thinly sliced red capsicum and bean shoots with some bought satay sauce. Clean and dry iceberg lettuce leaves. Put a large spoon of noodle salad into each lettuce leaf, roll up like a spring roll and refrigerate until ready to serve. Feel free to add chicken, tofu, or whatever you like to the noodles. Make the salad the day before, wrap in lettuce leaves about an hour before serving.Serve chilled!

Pico de Gallo with tortilla chips
Mix together chopped ripe tomatoes, spring onions, red onion, a big handful of parsley and coriander, the juice of 1 large lemon and 1 lime, a drizzle of olive oil, 3 big pinches of salt and one of sugar. Add fresh or jarred chili to suit your taste and let sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to develop, sits well in the fridge overnight as well. Serve with good quality tortilla chips, also tastes great on the Christmas ham.

Sesame duck salad tartlets
Use bought tartlet cases, and fill with a mixture of bought shredded BBQ duck, chopped coriander, parsley, shallots, red capsicum, and some tiny shavings of wombok cabbage. Dress the salad with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds before assembling the tartlets. Drizzle with a little extra sesame oil just before serving, and if you like, a drop of chili jam. Make the salad the day before and assemble just before serving.

Chicken meatballs
In the food processor, mix 500g of chicken mince, 1 chopped spring onion and a teaspoon of crushed ginger. Using wet hands, form into smallish meatball. Place in a frypan, cover with glad wrap and put the frypan in the fridge overnight. On the day, remove the glad wrap and whack the fry pan on the stove over medium heat for 15 -20 mins until cooked. Serve on a fancy toothpick, with some chili jam for dipping.

Corn pancakes with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and chives
Use your favourite pikelet recipe, add a tin of drained corn kernels, dollop a tablespoon at a time into your frypan to make smallish pancakes. You can do this the day before but make sure they are packed in between paper towels in a tightly lidded Tupperware container. On the day, arrange on a platter and when reasonably cool, top with some smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche, and dust everything liberally with finely chopped chives for an impressive presentation.

Mini beetroot rostis topped with smoked salmon and sour cream
In a food processor, grate 1 large fresh peeled beetroot and about 4 large potatoes. Place in a colander and stir through a large pinch of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes then use your hands (wear gloves) or a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Mix through 3 tablespoons of melted butter, form into small patties and place on a lined baking dish, bake approximately 1 hour. Do this the day before and pop them into a hot oven for 10 minutes to crisp up on the day. Cool slightly and arrange on a serving platter, then top with smoked salmon and sour cream, mix some horse radish in the sour cream if you like! sprinkle with shopped parsley or chives.

Bloody Mary gazpacho served in a shot glass
This refreshing soup is much better served cold from the fridge, in individual glasses and is much better made on the day, but it is super easy and won't take long. Break some sourdough into smaller pieces and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Puree with some chopped ripe tomatoes, a clove of garlic, chopped and seeded red capsicum, a chopped cucumber, chopped spring onions, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, and finally a few tablespoons of olive oil in a thin stream. Add chili if you  like! Pour into shot glasses with a small drizzle of vodka, and top with a cooked prawn for extra points.

Individual prawn and avocado cocktail
This is a great way to include prawns in the Christmas feast when your budget needs to stretch. Arrange crisp lettuce, a few peeled prawns, and thick slices of avocado into shot glasses, drizzle liberally with seafood sauce. Serve with cocktail forks if you have them.

Chicken liver pate on Melba toasts
I love pate, and chances are your older relatives will too. You can buy it but it's super easy and impressive to make your own. Clean, (trim any yucky looking bits) wash and dry the freshest chicken livers you can find. Gently fry the livers in  1 tablespoon of butter until cooked on the outside but pink in the middle. Remove to a plate, then without cleaning the pan saute half a finely chopped white onion until soft, and add to the livers. Deglaze the pan with a quarter of a cup of brandy, then throw the whole lot in a blender with some salt and white pepper. Blend until very, very smooth, pour into a Tupperware container (or something fancier) with a lid and refrigerate overnight. Serve with Melba toasts. SO. YUM.

If your guests arrive super early, a small glass of chopped fruit, Greek yogurt and home made muesli might be appropriate! All of these can be at least partially prepared in advance, leaving you plenty of time to get on with the day; or save them for the afternoon, when your second wave of guests arrive!

Please pop over to the other In The Sack Bloggers, and see what wisdom they have for you when it comes to surviving the Christmas season. We are a varied bunch, and there is sure to be something there to suit everyone!

Merry Christmas to you xx

Kylie Purtell – A Study In Contradictions
Shannon – How Can I Wear That
Driumme – Snippets and Spirits
Sarah – Style Unearthed
Kristie – Elements at Home

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