Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chicken Satay - Restaurant Quality

Mel's satay - tastes EXACTLY like the take away!! If you purchase your soy sauce gluten free this whole recipe is perfect for the gluten free people in your family.   


700g diced chicken
5 tablespoons of ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
Marinade for at least 1 hour or even overnight.
You can then pop your chicken on to skewers or leave as is, and grill, bbq, or fry in oil until cooked (approximately 20 mins).
While chicken is cooking make your sauce.


1 red (Spanish) onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlice
2 tablespoons ketjap manis
3 heaped tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (or smooth if you prefer)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
1 cup water.
Fry onion and garlice in a saucepan on medium heat until onion is sof.  Add other ingredients.  Turn heat down low, simmer, stirry occasionally until thick (about 5 minutes).

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Sugar Cookies - Best Recipe

This is a perfect cookie recipe.
They hold shape incredibly well and I have cut out dinosaurs, snowflakes, all manner of weird and wonderful creatures with it.
Also, they taste FANTASTIC!  Combine this with royal icing to decorate and yum yum yum!
First you can see some I made like tiny bacon and eggs - sitting in my little girls toy frypan on her play kitchen just too cute!  They loved taking these to school.  The kitty cat ones I just cut in simple circles and decorated with different coloured royal icing with little cats for a friend's birthday.  Use toothpicks to do skinny decorating bits!
Who doesn't love a home-made gift?  Especially one you can EAT!

This recipe makes approximately 50 regular sized cookies.


3 cups plain (all purpose flour) sifted
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (225g) (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened for about 20 minutes at room temp
1 cup (400g) white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
a little squirt of lemon juice.
In a large bowl sift together flour and salt - set aside.
Preheat your oven to170oC
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale (about 5 mins) - add in egg
Add flour and mix on low speed till combined.
Add vanilla and lemon
Remove 1/2 the dough from the bowl, make a ball, place on a big piece of plastic wrap, press down with the palm of your hand and made a big disk, wrap with disk.
Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Chill both disks for about 45 minutes (while you clean up!)
Remove a disk, remove plastic wrap - roll between baking paper or on a lightly floured surface.
Rolling will take a bit of work for the first few minutes to soften up the dough.
Roll to an even thickness (usually around 3mm)
Cut into desired shapes and place on a paper lined cookie tray / baking tray.
Bake for for about 10 minutes or until just lightly golden on the edges.
The only thing you MUST do is chill the dough - or else they DON'T work - they will spread and be blobs.  In fact, if you have time, you can even chill the dough after rolling, then again after cutting shapes!!!  But I usually work quickly and not bother.


1 egg white
1 cup pure icing sugar
Mix together well.
Cover until using and pop in the fridge if you want to use it later.
Will set hard so perfect for decorating cookies.

Other designs I've made
Bacon and eggs for the kids to take to school - CUUUUTE
 eyeballs - good for halloween!
 little koalas for my son's class at school studying Australian animals

Vanilla Cupcakes - Excellent Basic Recipe

I have made a LOT of cupcakes over the years, seriously a LOT.  I have come across recipes I've liked and others I use again and again, others that haven't been so great and even some packet mixes that are ok.  This recipe I only discovered this year and it just seems to work perfectly every time.  It is delicious, moist, easy and makes about 24-26 cupcakes.  You can decorate with anything - a good buttercream (recipe below!!), or as I have here with mini marshmallows, cut diagonally, dip in coloured sugar and set on a buttercream base.  Soooooo yummy.


Basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.

2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
  • Preheat your oven to 170oC.
  • Line your cupcake trays with papers.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Cream butter in your mixer (or labouriously by hand)
  • Add the sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition until mix is light, fluffy and sugar almost dissolved.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add one third of flour mix to creamed mix and beat till combined.
  • Add half the milk
  • Repeat
  • Add last third of flour and beat till JUST combined.  Don't overbeat or your cakes will be tough.
  • Spoon mix into papers about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 18-20 mins or until bounces back at touch and lightly golden.
  • Remove from trays immediately and cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream Icing.

  • cream 100g unsalted butter for 2 minutes
  • Add 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 tablespoon vanilla and 4 cups of icing sugar
  • Beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy - add food colouring as desired.
  • (this recipe doubles perfectly if required)

Princess Tea Party

Party Number 2:
Princess Tea Party.
Each of the little princesses invited received a plastic tiara with a note in a pink envelope inviting them to the Royal Tea Party at our place on the party day.  The crowns were then placed on a pretty paper wrapped cardboard disk and encased in clear cellephane with a pink ribbon.

The cake took me FOREVER to make.  But thanks to the Wilton Romantic Castle Kit (which I happened to get on sale) it turned out adorable!  Everyone loved it particularly my little birthday princess.  We added the little mice as mice always make princess dresses in Disney movies.
The first instruction on the cake kit was to make 100 flowers!!!  Well, I just bought mine already made from the supermarket. 
Next time I'll make my own cake from scratch - this one tasted awful - pink betty crocker mix and canned butter frosting.
It was thick though and held the turrets all together and the cones on top.  I cut a piece out of the top cake layer to shove the tallest turret in it.
I covered the cones with buttercream icing and rolled them in sugar mixed with pink food colouring.

The food was all pink, pretty, dainty, yummmmm
Pink marshmallow mushrooms made by my son!!! (he is 15 and helped me make them for real!)
Cheap marshmallows, then royal icing (1 cup pure icing sugar, 1 egg white) keep aside a little of the plain white for glue for the stalks and for the dots...colour the rest pink (or red) and dip the marshmallows in it.  When set, add the stalks and the dots.  Arranged these on platters with cherries.

 We made flowers with balloons (two of one colour, five of the other) - simply tie together and twist around each other.  We decorated the house simply with these and lots of pretty twisted crepe paper streamers.  Really pretty and cheap.
Pink, purple, big straws, and big pink square plastic platters.   You can also see the mini gelato cups in the background.

When the girls arrived we had face painting (done by my 18 year old eldest daughter - she did an amazing job). and colouring with a competition - the girls coloured and added glitter.  All done outside.

 For food we had chips, nuggets, sausage rolls, mini frankfurts, fresh fruits, marshmallow mushrooms and fairy bread cut in love heart and butterfly shapes.  Drinks were just fruit juice, water or apple juice.
 After cutting the cake we gave each girl a piece of cake and a sugar flower in a gelato bowl and I had two tubs of my home-made ice-cream - strawberries and cream and cookies and cream flavours.
 We always plan about six games for a party to fill the time properly.  Besides eating time, arrival activities (face painting and colouring) and cake time we had three hours of party to fill in.  There is nothing worse than kids sitting around with nothing to do.
 We played pin the kiss on the frog (so cute)
Pass the Parcel
Going on a dragon hunt (singing in the garden, actions and meeting our big doggie!)
Fairy hunt (printed off hundreds of little tinkerbells and hid them in the garden)
Four corners princess style (four pictures placed around the room - when music stops girls rush to one corner - guests eliminated by drawing from the hat)  We just printed off pictures of princesses from the internet.
Tiara painting

Playing pass the parcel.
Very "Australian" game - layers of newspaper wrapped.  When the music stops you stop passing and open a layer to reveal a small prize (chocolate or sweet or something).  The last layer is pretty paper and contains a special prize.  Make sure you have enough layers for every child to open at least once.

The cake when lit.

Little ones enjoying the colouring activity upon arrival.
We provided cups of new marker pens and new glitter glues - we printed off a big selection of colouring pages of princesses from the internet.

Marshmallow flower cupcakes.
My own cupcake recipe with mini marshmallows cut in half and dipped in to coloured sugar to create tiny flowers - glue on with a blob of buttercream (home made is best).  Even my four year old could help made these!

A beautiful photo of my little birthday girl with all her friends and family

The gift bags (bought on sale) that she helped me decorate.
We had them in the hallway on arrival.
On our hall table we simply put a cute cut piece of pink paper, some pretty candlesticks and some fresh flowers (these are actually my leftover flowers from mothers day!!!)

More of the decorations

All in all a lovely party and very economically done.
The girls all had a ball and our birthday girl said it was the best day ever as we all watched Disney Brave that night together as a family.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Minecraft Party

We have a plethora of birthdays over the May/June/July period in our home.  Well, with six children it always seems to be somebody's birthday!
This year we gave in and let three of our children have birthday parties.
Unfortunately for us, due to the ridiculously extravagent and over the top organisation, decorating and intense attention to detail of previous family parties...the expectations were high high high!!

Party 1:

Lukey's Minecraft Party.

This party was going to be super fun.  Lukey was turning 10 and hadn't had a party in at least four years.  The latest craze for him is Minecraft.  An online building/creating game.
First things first...


The minecraft windows. 
These were made using white electrical tape.
Simply cut the tape into strips and little squares and stick on your looked AMAZING.
Took ages though!! 
It peels off easily enough...but after a few days leaves a bit of a sticky residue.  Found this came off ok using a bit of cream cleanser and a sponge then cleaning with paper and window cleaner.

Creeper balloons
Ok, everything in minecraft is supposed to be squares...but hey, these looked super cute over the party table
Simply draw on creeper faces with black permanent marker.
I hung little 3M removable hooks on the ceiling and hung the bunches of balloons.  The windows behind you can see had "minecraft" windows stuck all over them... the blinds were opened for the party
The table had a simple green plastic cloth,
square plastic green plates and cups and giant fat green straws.  We only had 10 kids so sat them all at places at the table.

Mini Ghasts
These sobbing little ghosty creatures were hanging in our living room which we created to be the portal the kids had to walk through to get to the party room.
They were made from any little empty square boxes we had, painted white.  used black electrical tape and coloured in with lead pencil the tears.  simple crepe paper streamer strips underneath.  Hung with string to the light fitting.
The portal was a zillion strips of purple crepe paper streamers from our doorways so the kids had to walk through it.  I stuck EVERYTHING with 3M poster strips and hanging stuff so it was all easily removable and left no marks

 Minecraft torches
So these are important because they keep away zombies!!
Made these just with bits of old boxes, white paper, yellow paper and bits of red and orange.
You could just print it off if you wanted to...
I just folded it together and then 3M'd them to the hallway walls and they looked amazing!.

Minecraft Pinata
This was ridiculously easy to make.
You can buy crepe paper already fringed like this.
All I had to do was secure a wire hanger to the top of the box with thick tape,
then completely covered the box with two layers of paper mache (newspaper strips, flour and water glue).  The added the white paper layer and decorated with little strips of black, grey, a black square on the bottom and white streamers.
Cut a teeny flap in the top and filled with glow in the dark bouncy balls, wrapped lollies etc.

We also printed off minecraft TNT pictures and covered little boxes,


The games we had were:

1. Chocolate Mining

The kids sat in a circle and in the centre we had two family size blocks of chocolate that had been in the freezer for 2 days (so they were SUPER hard)
a knife
a enderman head (a box with a printed picture on the front)
and a dice
The kids took turns rolling the dice and if they rolled a six, they quickly put on the head, and tried to chop chocolate into little squares and eat it.

2. Mining for treasure

Circle again...
Press flour into a bowl and carefully flip over on to a big board so you have a dome of flour.
Place a ring on the top
Provide a big knife.
Good to put on an old washable blanket or cloth.

The kids take turns in the circle to gently slice a sliver of flour from the dome.
As the dome gets smaller and smaller they get more nervous, so funny...MUST NOT let the ring fall in!
When the ring tumbles in to the flour, the child that let it fall in has to get it out...with their TEETH!
So, funny, flour everywhere

The child receives a prize.

3. Ghast Pinata

4. Wolves and Bones

Divide the kids into numbered pairs
a big piece of rope
four chairs
four pencils or similar

The kids separate themselves so that one half of their team are at one end of the garden, the other at the other end.
If their number is called they both run to the other end of the garden and retrieve a pencil off one of the chairs, run to the other end and throw it on the chair, repeat.
Then they run to the centre and grab the rope .... hence tug of war... (will try to find the photos so this makes more sense) - first to their starting point gets a point for their side.
Prizes for the winning team

5. Treasure Hunt

My husband is the king of treasure hunts.
We printed off heaps of pictures of minecraft swords and put a coloured dot for a team on each one
He wrote clever clues to lead the kids in their teams all around the garden.  At each point they had to find their sword with their coloured dot and return to him for the next clue.
They loved it and all worked well together.
The winning team received prizes each.

6. Four Corners

Placed four pictures around the room, one of a minecraft sword, one of a creeper, one an enderman and one a ghast (you can use this game for ANY party)
Play music, when it stops kids rush to one of the pictured corners and a piece of paper is drawn from a box (a tnt box in this case).  Whichever picture is written on it, they are eliminated.  Until only one child remains and receives a prize.


This was so much fun and really made the party!
Basically, we just looked online and made food to match the game.
The game has chicken and potato so we just ordered a bunch of KFC chips and chicken as the kids all love that.
Additionally, we made rice krispie treats coloured black for coal.
Green jelly slice decorated with sour straps for creepers.
Marshmallow mushrooms.
Torch cookies (sugar cookies shaped like minecraft torches dipped in white, yellow then orange icing)
and finally the minecraft cake (which could have been a lot better, but the kids loved it) - simple chocolate mud cake, double layer with white fondant icing and painted fondant squares.

I like these because you can see some of the food we had.  We basically planned
all the foods to match foods in the game, watermelon slices, chicken and potato (kfc cause boys love that at age 10 better than crummy ol nuggets)
Simple black cloth, square plates, green cups and giant straws
Here you can see the green jelly creeper slice and the mushrooms and cookie torches.
The cake of course was similar to the cake from the game (my frosting skills leave a lot to be desired!) and making the mushrooms (super easy, keep for a week in a container - easy make ahead food)

Prize Suggestions:
This was probably my biggest dilemma...10 year old boys...prizes had to be pretty good!  But still cheap...
So, we had
Handballs (they loved these as most of them play at school)
Individual lego mini-figures
Mini racer cars
blob monsters (it's a putty stuff and you stick the plastic monster bits in and the monster melts)
We made sure that every boy received at least one prize.

The gift bags to take home were just green paper bags with creeper faces stuck on with electrical tape.
Filled them with candy pigs/cows/sheep (from Coles supermarket)
bouncy balls, pencils and individually wrapped lollies