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!

 

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!

10 Things To Do With Leftover Roasted Vegetables

Winter leads itself to warm roasts. But if you are like me and always cook too much (must the the caterer in me!) what can you do with the leftover veggies? There’s definitely no need to throw them away. Leftover vegetables can save you time in preparing for your meals the next day. Let me show you how, I’ve got 10 great tips on how to use them:-

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Saute some onions, leeks & fresh thyme. Mix in your leftover veg. Beat eggs, a dash of cream, salt & pepper. Mix all together, pour in into a non stick saucepan and bake in the oven. Voila!

Vegetarian Lasagne

Turn your veggies into a family favourite sans meat.

Vegetable Tart

Who doesn’t love pastry? Use your veggies to jazz up a tart, serve with some slow roasted  cherry tomatoes, rocket and pesto on the side. Lunch is served.

Pureed Vegetable Soup

Heat your leftover veggies in a saucepan, add some vegetable or chicken stock and some fresh herbs, then puree into a creamy full-of-goodness soup.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Chop your veggies into small cubes, mix in some kidney or pinto beans. Wrap them up with a tortilla, smother with sour cream & grated cheddar. Bake in a hot oven then serve with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa. (and maybe a Margarita!)

Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wraps

Smear a wrap in homemade or store-bought hummus, add baby spinach, your leftover veggies and crumbled feta and you have a 5 minute meal. Done.

Roasted Vegetable Curry

I have a homemade curry paste kept in a jar in my fridge so that I can make a curry in a hurry! Saute off the paste, add coconut milk, my veggies, a squeeze of fresh lime. Steam some rice and top off with fresh coriander.

Vegetable & Feta Pizza

Purchase a pizza base from the supermarket (pita bread will do too!). Top with passata or tomato paste, sprinkle with oregano. Then add your veggies, feta cheese, grated mozzarella and fresh basil. Buon Appetito!

Breakfast Omelette

For a great start to the day, use your veggies in an omelette. Serve with slow roasted tomatoes and mushrooms.

So maybe next time you cook a roast or even just when you have the oven on cooking something else, you can consider adding a few extra veggies….

 

Confetti Fair 2016

Confetti Fair was so much fun! Filled with all things party, the Inglis Stables was an explosion of colour, creativity & craziness!

There were cake decorators, photo booths, stylists, face painters, florists, even mobile ceramic painting…

Figmint showcased our ever popular grazing tables. Vibrant, healthy and a feast for both the eyes and the stomach.

We got the chance to introduce more people to The High-Heeled Hostess – Mastering the art of entertaining at home and it was really well received. I had a lady purchase a copy and have her photo taken with me which made me truly feel like an author!

I also did my first ever demo. I made two canapés from the book and discussed some of our party planning secrets.

Thanks to Claire and the rest of the stall holders for such a successful day!

Baked Ricotta Peppered Beef Spiced Cauliflower Grazing Table Baked Trout with Fennel & Smashed Peas Char-grilled Zucchini & Mint Confetti Fair 2016-3192 Confetti Fair 2016-3193 Confetti Fair 2016-3188

 

Credits: Flowers by Petal & Fern, Photos by Live Photography

How to make your party memorable

Twotablesportraitladiesluncheon copyAny one can invite people over and serve them drinks and food, but is that enough to have your guests raving about your party or event? There are many boring events out there, don’t let yours be one of them. You want your guests to feel special and doing this can be easier than you think.

It doesn’t have to be something huge to make your party or event memorable it can be the little touches that can make all the difference.

Many people enjoy this part of the party planning process as it can be fun and you can let your creative juices flow.

Some key tips to help you make your party memorable:

Choose a theme. When planning a party and to make it memorable it helps to choose a theme. This doesn’t mean all of your guests have to dress in white or as their favourite movie stars – a theme can be discreet. Such as a particular color or cuisine. A creative theme can make your party feel special without adding too much to your budget. It will also help you come up with ideas for food, refreshments and decorations.

Be creative with the invitation. The best way to start to make your event memorable is in the invitation. You can be really creative here and it’s a really great way to get people excited about your party.

E-vites or electronic invitations are becoming much more popular these days. You can create intricate invitations using many web sites and programs or you can even use a social networking site to send an invitation or reminder to people on your guest list.

Think outside the box if you are considering posting an invite to your guests. You can make your invite stand out by using texture or smell. You can shape the invite to suit your theme or send something three dimensional. Place items inside the envelope to represent your theme like a casino chip for a poker night or a mini thong for a pool party.

When creating your invitations, ensure that all important details are included, like location, time, date, dress code, and so on. Providing directions can also be a great addition, especially for clients who have to travel some way to attend the party.

Quality vs Quantity. If you are going for a low key affair, but still want it to be memorable, make sure that you think high quality. Serve beautiful cocktails and splash out a bit more on spectacular food.

Something surprising. If you want to add a bit more pizazz to your event you may want to think of a surprise act. Maybe a contortionist inside a clear ball, that floats in your pool, or some fire jugglers. You could hire some glow furniture and a cocktail bar. Or transform your back yard into a middle eastern lounge with piles of cushions, low tables and colored glass lanterns. You could do something elegant and simple such as a pianist playing a grand piano on the balcony.

Be creative. You can really let your imagination run free here, and we haven’t even gone over decorations! Candles, flowers, balloons, banners, lights etc….

How to make sure you enjoy the party

What’s the point in going to all of the effort to throw an amazing party if you don’t get to enjoy it yourself? Here are some tips on how to get ready for your special occasion, how to look your best, feel relaxed so that you can join in on all the fun!

The pre-party primp

The host should always be the star of the show. Everyone is coming to spend time with you, right? You should look your best. Take this chance to look and feel fabulous. No doubt you spend most of your week in your jeans and t-shirt or work clothes, so why not let tonight be your night?

  • Struggling to decide what to wear? Think of a style inspiration. Find a role model. Look at magazines, trawl the Internet and find someone whose style you like. Study them and find an outfit you would love to wear and mimic it. Ask a stylish friend to help you shop for a second opinion. Do this well ahead of your party in case you find something that needs to be altered. Most hemlines can easily be adjusted and sleeves can be shortened.
  • Flaunt your assets and play down your flaws. Ladies – if you’ve got great legs, wear a short skirt or a dress with a fabulous slit. If you’re a larger lady, consider quality shapewear. Why not? Celebrities do!
  • Ladies – Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. Highlight your chosen outfit with dazzling jewels and killer heels.
  • Lads – Take this opportunity to dress it up a notch. Dress in an outfit that makes you feel good and confident.

Planning

Being organised is really the key to being a relaxed host. Follow the experts, have checklists and use them. Tick things off as you go. It helps you track your progress and it will help you feel confident that things under control. Plan well ahead, and shop for any non-perishable items well in advance.

Asking for help

Don’t feel as if you have to do everything yourself. Ask your friends or family to help. Give them shopping lists or allocate duties to them. If you have a friend with a great CD collection ask them to organise the playlist. If you have a friend who’s great at decorating ask them for some practical ideas. Invite a close friend to come by early to help you with the finishing touches and share that first drink together. Assign your partner to set up the bar and to do the ice run.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Many of your friends would love to help and it makes them feel part of the evening. Be sure to thank them by raising a toast to them during the night.

Time out before the party

Take time out before your guests arrive. Have everything organised well in advance so you can take some time to get ready and pamper yourself. This will help you to be relaxed and ready when you greet your guests. You definitely don’t want to still be racing around tidying up or still hanging decorations.

Ladies – book in to see your hairdresser and get them to blow dry and style your hair for the evening. Beautifully styled hair makes us all feel fabulous. If you have something special in mind, take in a picture of the look you are after.

Why not get your makeup professionally done, too? Ensure you take a picture of something that you like or the look you are wanting to recreate. If you are wanting to go for something other than your normal makeup or look, and you’re doing it yourself, make sure you practice beforehand. If you are like me, anything more than foundation, mascara and lippy gets frightening. Practice is very necessary. You don’t want to look like a bad painting (…or the joker!).

Men – Why not book in for a professional shave, lock in a massage or get your hair styled too?

Key tips to make you feel like a guest at your own party

  1. Make your first priority to have fun. A happy host equals happy guests.
  2. Don’t try to perfect everything. Your guests are there to see you and have fun, not critique on how you have styled your house or set your dinner table.
  3. Plan well ahead. It really will help you to feel calm and relaxed if you’re 100% ready for your guests when they arrive.
  4. Give some of your guests stuff to do (they’re your hospitality team). Most people like to play an active role at a party. Assign someone to pouring drinks or clearing plates.
  5. Hide dirty dishes and glassware in the laundry or somewhere out of sight. Deal with them after the party.
  6. Holding a bigger party? Hire outside help, such as a caterer, or wait staff, to take the pressure off.