Sunday, 17 June 2018

Super easy Dip Quiche

It's a bit cold here in south-east Queensland this weekend. By cold I mean less than 20 degrees C. This may not seem cold to many but to me it signals hot lunch.

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So a quick trip to the supermarket and I had the makings of this incredibly easy quiche. I am a woman of few ingredients so during my searches for recipes I found a fabulous book by Kim McCosker. 4 Ingredients: One Pot, One Bowl. 

Her book has many fabulous recipes. This and her other books are available at Dymocks and other good book stores. Check the link on my blog. 

This recipe, like most that choose, has flexibility. Additions and variation can be added.


  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tub (150g) Basil & Cashew Chunky Dip- I used Aldi brand Deli originals. Aldi sweet potato and cashew dip is also delicious.
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese
  • a few slices of ham/salami or 1/5 cup chopped cooked chicken (optional)
  • add anything else you fancy- cooked, chopped vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives.
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Spray a 25cm pie or quiche dish with cooking spray.
3. Cover with pastry.
4. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat well.
5. Stir in dip and 1/2 cheese.
6. Slice or chop any meats and place evenly over pastry.
7. Pour filling into dish.
8. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
9. Bake for 30 minutes or until set.

This is delicious served hot or cold straight out of your lunchbox at school or work. 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Eggless Strawberry Ice Cream

The punnets of strawberries were cheap this week so what better way to soothe a sore throat than with ice cream. 

This recipe contains no eggs. I know that commercial ice cream has eggs but I try not to think about it when I am tucking in to my favourite bought flavour. Making ice cream is however, quite different. The thought of half cooked egg in a chilled dessert just puts me off making ice cream so I have scoured the internet and tried many variations of frozen ice cream and sorbets to find delicious recipes.

This is the simplest recipe for ice cream that you could hope to find. There is also flexibility with the recipe which is great.

Sugar- I use raw sugar because this is what is sitting on the kitchen bench. Plus it also gives a deeper flavour.

Cream and milk- Depending on your preference, all milk, a mix of both or all cream can be used to make 2 cups in total. I tend to use 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream. It isn't as icy as all milk but if you want really creamy ice cream, then use all cream.

Vanilla- I like it but it doesn't matter if you haven't got any. 

Food colouring- If you like really pink ice cream. I don't use it because I think the ice cream is pink enough. 

If you don't have an ice cream maker, do not worry. The instructions for making it without are included. It is worth it!


1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 x 250g punnet fresh strawberries.

1. Warm milk in the microwave until hot to touch.
2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
3. Place mix in refrigerator until chilled.
4. Add milk mix, cream, vanilla and hulled strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth.
If you have an ice cream machine:
5. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and follow instructions.
6. Store in freezer.

If you don't have an ice cream machine: 
5. Place a freezer safe pan or bowl in the freezer when starting to make the ice cream so it is chilled.
6. Transfer your mixture into the cold pan and put it back in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Around that time, check the ice cream. 
7. Once the edges start to freeze, take out the mixture and beat it using a hand mixer.
8. Return the pan to the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, take it back out and beat the ice cream again. Repeat until it is firmly frozen, usually around four or five mixing sessions. Once it’s frozen, the mixture should be smooth and creamy.

Store your ice cream in the freezer. Enjoy!

Another fabulous portrait by John!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

This is one of those super simple recipes.

With only 5 ingredients, it takes just a bit of chopping and then a simmer on the stove.

It is also incredibly flexible so if the recipe looks vague, it is because it is and it doesn't matter. Adjust the recipe to suit your own taste and what you have on hand.


1.5 tablespoons Thai red curry paste- Alter the quantity to suit yourself. This amount gives just a gentle kick.
2 medium gold sweet potatoes. These 2 weighed 1.3kg -  I like the gold ones because of their taste and they are always available and usually cheap. Also easy to grow. 
1 onion- brown or white
1/2 cup coconut milk- This will give a subtle coconut flavour but can be substituted with cream or yogurt.
1 cup water- I like my soup so thick that the spoon almost stands up in it. Add as much as you want to make it as thin as you want
Pepper, herbs to garnish- I used cracked black pepper and continental parsley for this batch. This parsley is the only herb growing well in my garden at the moment so I used it.

1. Heat curry paste in large saucepan on medium heat until it becomes aromatic
2. Add onion and fry for a couple of minutes 
3. Chop sweet potato and add to pan
4. Add water and cook until sweet potato is tender
5. Turn stove off
6. Add coconut milk
7. Blend using stick mixer or blender
8. Add more water if too thick
9. Ladle into a bowl and garnish as desired
10. Serve with buttered toast. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

Gluten-free Peanut Slice

This recipe re-emerged when I gave an old recipe book to Catherine. The day after I gave it to her she presented me with an envelope of hand written recipes that had been lost within the pages of the book. I had forgotten all about this incredibly simple, gluten-free delight.

Here is the recipe for the peanut base. It can be topped with any sort of chocolate topping that you want. A thin layer of melted chocolate or a frosting would be great. I have included a link below for a simple and old fashioned icing made with cocoa. This is a good one if you want the icing to set so the slice can be cut and packed in layers in a plastic pot for travel. 


375g raw peanuts     
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (white or raw)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Mince peanuts in food processor
2. Add baking powder and whiz to mix in
3. Beat eggs until thick and creamy
4. Mix in sugar and beat again
5. Combine egg mix and peanuts
6. Line base of brownie or slice tin (27cm x 17.5cm x 3cm) with baking paper
7.Spread mix in tin. Smooth surface

8. Bake at 180celsius for 35 minutes 

9. Take care not to overcook as it can easily become dry and hard to cut.  
10. Ice while still warm in tin
11. Once cool, tip out of tin and cut
12. Store in an airtight container. 

Click here for a Simple chocolate icing recipe.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Modern DIY Garden Sculpture

I like garden art but not the sort that I used to see out of the Vauxhaull window when I was a child. Concrete gnomes and tyre swans are not for me. Neither are grecian ladies with urns or little boys relieving themselves in a pond. 

My style is much more ecletic. I also was born with the "diy" gene so I spend hours pouring over others ideas trying to convince myself that I too can make them with my very limited skills. But I have to be optimistic and have had some success in the garden art department. I have always had  passion for Japanese lanterns; the stone variety, not the paper ones. When we decided to build a Japanese lantern at our current property I had to have a lantern. Australia is not very much into this so purchasing one proved to be not only very costly but almost impossible. So I made one out of concrete. 

Once we had worked out the shape and containers it was a simple job. Inside the light box is a lamp which is wired into the string of garden lights that runs the length of the garden. 
The question is, should we dig this up and take it with us or make another one? 

I am collecting ideas for garden art that I will be able to make myself. To be included in the list, they have to have most of the following criteria:

  • simplicity
  • 'gentle' in the landscape
  • a bit quirky
  • easy to make. 

This simple sculpture from Sprawlstainable adds height, colour and also provides illumination at night. The instructions make it look easy. 
The spikes are made out of pvc piping which have some bend in them when they are long. 

The use of metal piping would provide greater sculpture capability. Copper is an expensive metal to use but has a quality about it that it irresistible. 

This copper coil from Suzy Homefaker shows just how much potential there is with copper. 

This Raintree Sprinkler is divine. It isn't however for us. Care to conserve water will be required and this tree is not very appropriate. A large proportion of the water would be blown away in the breeze as it is a long distance from the ground. 

In keeping with the metal theme, these  tubes would create some height in a new garden. They are simple and show off the unique succulents beautifully. What a lovely metal garden edge they would create. 


I love 'round.' It avoids the need for sharp and accurate corners. These concrete spheres create simplicity and a feeling of tranquillity. The garden glove has instructions for these and many other spherical garden features. 

Here is another quirky way to present succulents and add height with these concrete spheres on stilts.
A mystical glow is created with these hollow gold candle holders

Terracotta pots are fabulous. Cheap and cheerful, they can become much more than a single potted marigold. The instructions for this dome and a sphere are on iCreative Ideas
I love the simplicity of this couple that I found on ARCHITECTUREHD.
If I am to have a birdbath this is what I would like. Made by the very talented  Toni Armeni 

 Need a bit of quirk? These tin can owls are simple to make and are a creative way to use up pet food tins and containers that usually go to waste. Anyone could make these. 

 Everyone needs somewhere to sit in their garden and take in the view. Instructions are hardly needed for this concrete block and timber bench.
This ostrich, created by John Doll is almost 2 metres tall. 
I love scrapyard animals. The pieces used create a personality. Here are a couple of birds made out of shovels, reo and other left overs. 
All I need to do now is decide which one to make first. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

We have broken ground!

We are off and digging! What more could we ask for. There is a sign, a portaloo and a water tank full of water. 

Here is a bunch of photos and a video so you can watch the build with us and give us lots of ideas about landscaping. 

Majestic piles of dirt perfectly frame the portaloo. 

It was a glorious Autumn day which shows off the portaloo nicely.

View from the top of the driveway. It curves to the right as it descends down the hill.

Dirt, glorious dirt! 

The view is amazing. 

My mind is in overload with landscaping questions. The block is naked so I have free reign. Well not exactly. John has a fear of gum trees crashing through the roof and fruit trees that are too large to harvest. I will collect some ideas for trees and ask you all for your opinions. 

Progress report coming again in a couple of weeks. Please follow my blog so you don't miss an episode. 

Trust me, I am not doing the earthworks. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

Colour selection for a new home

We have been "working" on this house build for many months now but alas, no start date as yet. The weather in south-east Queensland has been particularly unfriendly this week that little would have been done on the build even if construction was underway. 

The decisions have all been made so we can relax a bit and just wait. 

Here are some of the colour choices we have made.

Roof. Our current home has a black roof. It looks fabulous but I have always been a bit suspicious that it doesn't help the house stay cool in the summer so it's a "no" for our new roof. I wanted a colour that will blend into the landscape and there will be a lot of roof visible from the road so why not go green? Green roofs seem so out of date so it's also a "no" to green. When there has been little rain for weeks the block looks more like a sandy green so after much discussion, internet looking and samples arriving in the mail, we have settled on COLORBOND Surfmist ®. This will also be the colour of the rendered external walls.

According to the Colorbond website, Surfmist "embodies qualities of freshness, purity, timelessness and independency. Snow, the mist from the sea and surf, pure white sand, and the billowing sails of yachts all remind us of this colour." Yes OK, today I am going with snow.
Gutters. We wanted a contrasting colour to create lines and liked the idea of black so COLORBOND Monument®
it is. A "strong, confident colour that is unashamedly a city colour." Yes, very sheike. As you can see by the photo, a whole roof would look brilliant and also feel brilliant if living in a southern state or close to the arctic circle.  

John and I love timber. It's look, feel and smell. We will have big wooden pillars on the porch and verandah posts. There is something about timber that is raw and natural yet defined. 

We are also practical. Our current home has a floating wooden floor. Looks great but we continually worry about the scratches. It also gets mopped with steaming, soapy water. Something that should never be done as it opens the pores, just like a steam room. 

The tiles we have chosen for the hall, dining, lounge and kitchen are timber look. Is this cheating? Um, maybe but they are also beautiful.

I have taken a photo from National Tiles to demonstrate just how beautiful timber look tiles can be. The photo does not do them justice, but this is Nordic Latte, our chosen colour. 

There is not much more to say about colour. The rest of the house will be the modern, 'on trend' colours of nothing really. Off-white, black benchtops, white cabinetry, black bathroom floor tiles. 

Let's hope next week is a bit more interesting than this week has been in house building world. 

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