A crowd-pleasing menu + recipes for the AFL grand final.

Whether you’re rooting for the Swan’s or the Bulldog’s this Saturday, you are going to need some serious fuel for the game. Just beer doesn’t cut it.

 

As one of Australian’s largest sporting events, the AFL grand final is well known as being one of the most difficult events to obtain tickets for. So chances are, to see the game, you will be joining in excess of 2.5 million other viewers and watching it on a screen.  If your not heading down to your local, and are choosing the comforts of your own home to enjoy the game, I have the perfect menu for you.

 

Finger-licking pork ribs, sweet potato wedges, a crunchy slaw & grilled corn with a smoky lime butter. Sounds good huh?

 

Well, the ribs will take a bit of preparation (sooooo worth it!), but you can make the marinade and cover them with the spice rub the day before and then just pop them in the oven before the game. There will be nothing quite like smelling the cooking ribs while watching the game. In the final stages of cooking you can turn the oven up, and add your sweet potato wedges. The slaw ingredients can be prepared in advance, (just dress just before serving), as can the smokey butter. And you can char the corn while you are plating up the other components. Oh yeah, not only is it super tasty, it’s fairly healthy too.

 

Sticky BBQ Pork Ribs

 

1.5kg American style pork ribs

 

Spice Rub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup smoked paprika

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Marinade

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup minced onion

3 cloves garlic, diced

240 ml tomato Sauce

180 ml tomato Paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

pinch of black pepper

 

To prepare the ribs: Mix all of the ingredients for the spice rub together. Using your hands massage the rub all over the ribs. Let marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the marinade: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, until nice and thick.

Preheat oven to 150C (130C fan-forced). Transfer the ribs into two baking dishes, spreading in a single layer. Baste with the marinade all over then roast, tightly covered and basting occasionally, until tender (3 hours). If the marinade looks as if it is sticking and starting to caramelise on the bottom of the baking dishes, add some water and remember to cover tightly again after basting.

Once tender (the meat will come away from the bone easily) turn the oven up 200C (180C fan-forced) and cook uncovered until until glazed, charred and sticky (15-20 minutes). Slice ribs and serve hot.

 

Sweet Potato Wedges

 

900g sweet potato, washed

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 200C (180C fan-forced). Place a heavy large baking tray in the hot oven for 10 minutes to preheat.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil (if solid) in a small saucepan, and the seasonings and pour into a large bowl. Cut the sweet potato lengthways into wedges (you may need to cut longer potatoes in half first), about 2-2.5cm thick, tossing in the oil mixture as you go.

Arrange the sweet potato wedges, cut-side down, in a single layer on the hot tray.

Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato wedges are golden brown on the bottom. Using a metal spatula, turn the sweet potato wedges over. Continue roasting for about 5 minutes, or until the sweet potato wedges are golden brown on the bottom and soft in the centre.

 

Crunchy Capsicum Slaw

 

1/8 white cabbage, thinly sliced

1/16 red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 medium sized carrot, grated

1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced

1/2 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced

1/8 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup firmly packed fresh coriander, chopped

 

Dressing

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

Juice of 1 fresh lime

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper

 

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Season to taste.

Add the slaw ingredients to the bowl and toss them to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow it to chill for 1 hour before serving, tossing occasionally. Stir in the coriander and toasted almonds just before serving.

 

 

Grilled Corn with Smoky Lime Butter

 

4 ears fresh sweet corn

 

Smoky lime butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 lime

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

In a small bowl combine the butter, zest from half the lime, juice from the whole lime. Stir in the coriander, salt, smoked paprika and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat your BBQ or stove top grill plate to medium-high. Grill the corn on all sides until lightly charred and tender(8-10 minutes).

Place onto a platter and dollop with the butter mixture.

 

I hope that you enjoy these recipes and that the game keeps us all on the edge of our seats!

 

How to spring clean – chemically free

spring-cleaning-without-chemicals-2

 

I am a big believer in doing as much as we can to look after our beautiful planet. I know we can’t be perfect all of the time, but we can all try to do our best. We can all recycle. We can all make as much of our food from scratch as possible to avoid processed foods and  save on the amount of packing that needs to be disposed of.

 

We can also make our own cleaning products for around the house. Chemical laden commercial products have a huge impact on the environment. They pollute our planet in various different ways. They are sprayed into the air, flushed down toilets and washed down sinks, thrown into the trash and dumped into the ground. All the while releasing their toxins, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, polluting our water, contaminating our soil and harming animals, fish and plants (and us!).

 

We all know the saying “we are what we eat”  but we need to consider that we are also what we digest and absorb.

 

Personally, I can’t stand the smell of commercial cleaning products and I’m certainly not happy about the fact that they can be absorbed into my body through inhalation or absorbed via my skin. If I there is an ingredient that I don’t recognise, or a strange word that I can’t even pronounce, I don’t want it near me, my house or my planet.

 

There are plenty of natural cleaning products on the market today and many homes are using them but you can just as easily make your own with everyday household products that you probably already have at hand.

 

Here are some recipes for various cleaners you can use around your home. (Remember to purchase only 100% pure essential oils, and to keep all cleaning products stored safely from children and pets).

 

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner (not for stone or granite surfaces)

 

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

10 drops Eucalyptus Oil

10 drops Tea Tree Oil

10 drops Orange Essential oil

 

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before spraying.

 

Stone & Granite Cleaner

 

3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon Castile soap

10 drops eucalyptus oil

 

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before spraying.

 

Peppermint Glass & Mirror Cleaner

 

2 cups water

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

5 drops Peppermint essential oil

 

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray and wipe with a soft cloth.

 

Disinfecting Toilet & Bowl Cleaner 

 

1/2 cup baking soda

1/4 cup vinegar

5 drops Tea Tree oil

5 drops Lavender essential oil

 

Add the oils to the vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the inside of the toilet bowl with the vinegar mixture, and then sprinkle on the baking soda. It should be fizzy; if not, spray with a bit more vinegar.  Let sit for 10 mins or so, scrub with your toilet brush and flush.

 

Lemon Microwave Cleaner

 

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 cups water

 

Put the water and squeezed lemon with juice into a bowl and place inside the microwave. Run the microwave until the water boils (3-5mins). Let rest for a few minutes, remove the bowl and wipe clean.

 

Mould Remover

 

1/8 tsp Clove essential oil

1 litre of water

 

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray on anywhere you have mold issues; e.g mold in shower, grouting, sink, walls, outdoor shade sails and furniture, umbrellas and even clothes, canvas shoes etc.  Wearing gloves is recommended when cleaning with clove essential oil.

 

Tile, Grout & Sink Cleaner

 

1/8 cup Castile soap

1/8 cup water

½ cup baking soda

10 drops Eucalyptus essential oil

 

Mix all the ingredients together. You can add more water depending on how thin or thick you want the mixture to be. Paint on with foam craft brush (or your hand if you want to). Let sit for 15 – 20 min. Get it wet with a spray bottle, scrub with a scouring pad, and wipe clean with a wet cloth.

 

 

Credits: cleanmama.netwellnessmama.com

5 Common Fears about entertaining at home

For some, the simple thought of entertaining guests in their home, brings them out in a hot sweat. Whether your worried about making everything perfect, having the house spotless or are concerned that people won’t enjoy themselves, most of these fears around entertaining are misplaced.

Part of the trouble is that you are focusing your energy in the wrong place. The reason for entertaining is to spend quality time with loved ones. You are offering your home, as a place to enjoy food, beverages and conversations.  The style, shape or form of those offerings doesn’t really matter as long as everyone feels comfortable and is well looked after.

It’s not about having the latest dinnerware or being able to cook the most amazing meal, its about connection. The sooner you can put your perfectionism aside and forget your fears and inhibitions, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the art of entertaining!

 

Here is a list of 5 common fears and how to overcome them:

 

1. Finding the time. Most of us tend to live fairly busy lifestyle’s and if you wonder how you will find the time to organise everything, rest assured you can. You just need to plan ahead. Prepare as much as you can in advance to avoid doing everything last minute. Decorations, snacks and beverages can all be bought in advance. You can set your table one or two days before your dinner party or arrange your furniture, set up the bar area and hang props a few days before your big shindig. You can even prepare menu items in advance with thoughtful planning.

2. Expecting your party to be perfect. Stressing yourself out too much over specifics and trying to make everything perfect will mean that you won’t enjoy yourself as much as you could. You don’t want to spending all night fussing, you want to be having a great time with your guests. Thinking your house isn’t good enough or you can’t cook a michelin starred meal is just holding you back from sharing some special moments with people that are important to you. Go easy on yourself. Allowing yourself to relax will help your guests to relax too.

3. Lacking confidence. You may feel a bit shy or inexperienced to entertain guests. You may like the idea of entertaining but not know where to start. So start out small and simple. Invite a small group of close friends over and ask them to bring their favourite dish. This will take the pressure off having to cook everything and will also be a conversation starter as each guest can proudly talk about their dish. Ask a more experienced friend to help you host if it will make you feel more at ease.

4. Worrying that your guests won’t have a good time.  You simply need to look after your guests to make them feel comfortable. Feed them well, have plenty to drink and engage with them and they will be sure to have a good time. Remember you are inviting your friends and loved ones and the common bond they have is YOU. Once you have introduced them to each other, they will generally happily chat amongst themselves. Consider inviting a friend that enjoys being the life of the party, they will be sure to help keep your guests entertained.

5. Getting overwhelmed by stress. This all-consuming fear is probably the most common. Will people come? Will I forget anything? Will I enjoy myself? The best way to combat this is with preparation. Rely on checklists to stay organised. Ticking off the list as you go will remind yourself that you have everything under control. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Give friends or family tasks to complete to lower your tasks and help eliminate stress.

 

As you can see, whether it be inexperience or perfectionism that holds you back from entertaining at home, there is a solution to help you along the way. You can be assured through careful planning, asking for help and truly considering your guests’ comfort, that you are more than capable of hosting a special occasion in your home that both you and your guests can enjoy.

If you have a celebration on the horizon and would like more party planning advice, you can purchase a copy of Julie’s book – The High-Heeled Hostess – Mastering the art of entertaining at home. It features a step-by-step guide that helps you plan, execute and most importantly, offers the reader the assurance that they will have a good time too!

Looking forward to Spring + recipes!

Zucchini Tart - Blog PostSpring has finally arrived and with it some of my favourite fruits and vegetables. You tend to see lots of the greens come into season. Asparagus, Peas, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Kale, Silverbeet, Spinach and Zucchini start to flood the market along with Mangoes, Blood Oranges and Strawberries. It’s great time to cleanse before summer, whether it be bring spring cleaning your house, your office or your body.

This week I have some lovely spring recipes for you try…

Featured above is a beautiful Zucchini & Herbed Ricotta Tart. Served along side a crisp Rocket & Cherry Tomato Salad, this is a lovely spring lunch or light dinner.

Leek Pasta - Blog Pic

I also have a Leek & Brussel Sprout Pasta dish for you to try. Super simple & delicious.

Lamb with Pea Risotto - Blog Post

Spring is also a great time to buy lamb, so for something slightly more fancy, try my Lamb Cutlets with Pea Risotto.

I hope you enjoy!