DIY Cereal Mix

Our little man is a foodie. He loves his food, there are not many things that he doesn’t like. We are not sure whether it is all in the genes (we’re really into our food), or it was because we started him on “adult food” pretty young. We also gave him the opportunity to choose what he would like to have as often as possible. Most of the times, he chooses good healthy food, though obviously, just like any other 2 year olds, he’d ask for pizzas and “chippies” for breakfast too πŸ™‚

Img src: Woolworth’s Online

One of his favourite fun times is choosing his cereal at the grocery shop. His favourite of all cereals is the Uncle Toby’s Plus cereal “with blueberries!!!”. We have been getting these for a couple of months now, until I realised that we go through the box within a week or so (with Mr E’s help). At $4 a pop, weekly, it certainly does add up. We’re madly saving up for upcoming house renovations and holidays at the moment, so I am trying my best to get the best bang for our buck, without affecting our lifestyleΒ too much πŸ™‚

So here’s what I did recently:

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I made my own “Uncle Toby’s Plus Cereal” as what they really are, are just pre-mixed bits of cereal and dried fruit. Super easy and does not take all that much time for me to do πŸ™‚ I already had the dried fruit in the pantry, so our current “box” of cereal only cost us AUD1. If I had to buy the fruit, it would be about AUD2 max with lots and lots of fruit leftover. If I want to be even more cost-savvy, I could also buy Homebrand “Corn Flakes” and Homebrand dried fruit. However, I prefer Sunbeam dried fruit as they’re still nice and plump and juicy (and Australian grown too) πŸ™‚ There are some things I’d rather “splurge” on but the options are there.

Mr E said that it isn’t the same as the Uncle Toby’s cereal, but still yummy nevertheless. We are already half-way through my premix, so I think the boys really do like it πŸ™‚

What do you guys do to save up that is easy to do? Please share, I want new a bathroom pronto!

Child friendly restaurant: The Austrian Australian Club

The Austrian Australian Club
Ph: 02 6286 5793
Heard St
Mawson ACT

I first went to the restaurant with my Mothers’ Group mums for our first dinner get-together sans kids. It was such an awesome night and I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. I wasn’t sure whether the food was good because I had loads of fun or because the food really was good. I did remember that the chips were amazing though.

Anyway, hearty German/Austrian food is definitely up to Mr E’s alley so I had to take him there and reconfirmed its awesomeness And I did, a fortnight after πŸ˜‰ with Little E in tow, hungry and ready at the door at 6pm (their opening time).

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The decor is a little tired and could do with a bit of refreshment, but it did bring us back to the lovely restaurant we went to in Austria

I had the chicken schnitzel with chips, bread dumpling and pepper sauce on the first visit. On my second one, I ordered the pork schnitzel, again with the amazing chips and mixed vegies (had to order this because Little E was there and I wanted him to have vegies). Oh, and a side of gravy.

A little side note, am I the only mum who ordered healthier food when the little one is around, just so that he eats better too? That just by having him around is actually good for me? Heh.

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Yummy golden freshly deep fried chips...

I digress. Mr E ordered the lamb schnitzel with red cabbage, sauerkraut and an extra side of spetzels (which is noodley pasta thingies). The serving size is very generous, with us three sharing the two orders and we had more than enough. Little E would have eaten almost the entire serve of red cabbage, preferring it on top of everything else, so weird!

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Digging for red cabbage

Just as I remembered from the first visit, the chips were amazing. I would just go back again and again for it. I didn’t like the pepper sauce nor the gravy, but I thought the schnitzels were really yummy. As per the order of prices, the lamb was the best, with the pork coming last.

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The cake was moist and rich and was just delicious!

Though we were really full already, I couldn’t resist not getting dessert as I didn’t get any the first time I was there. We shared a black forrest cake with ice cream, Little E eating and scooping faster than I’ve seen him done before. We think he liked it lol

It took a little longer for our meals to arrive the first time I went, but I would imagine it was because there were 7 orders on our table. The second time around, our meals didn’t take long at all to arrive. I had the same waitress on both occasions and she was really friendly. She was patient with Little E, waiting for his response when she asked him if she could take his plate away. Which he didn’t give for almost a whole minute, out of shyness. When he finally did, she just laughed and didn’t seem to be rushed at all.

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Austrian and German beers are available

We were the first people there, but the place did fill up as the night progressed, mostly with families. The mum friend who suggested the place did tell us that we should book as they get pretty busy. I would recommend the same, most especially if you need a highchair as I could only see one available. Mr E said to me as we left that we’re definitely going back there for their other meals and I have to agree with him πŸ™‚

Child friendly restaurant: Baitong Laos & Thai Cuisine

Woo hoo! A long weekend! For my non-Aussie readers, we celebrate the Australia Day on Monday, making this weekend a 3-day weekend. Hooray!

Anyway, with some time on my hands, I thought I’d post about a restaurant we tried recently. One of the things I looked forward to the most about moving houses was the excuse of trying the “locals”. Be it a restaurant, a cafe, or a playground/park.

We chose Baitong as it is a Thai (and Laos) restaurant, and Thai is one of my inlaws’ favourite cuisine. I was a little worried when we first entered the place as it was rather empty. Being 6.30pm on a Saturday, I had expected a few more people. An empty restaurant on a Saturday night? Uh oh.

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Unbreakable dining set

As soon as our waitress saw we had Little E, she gave us a booster seat and a pile of kids dining set. What a nice touch πŸ™‚ After a whole day of painting (on Mr E and my inlaws’ part), we were starving, so we almost over-ordered.

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Crying Tiger Beef, Duck red curry with lychee, prawn salad and sticky rice

I would have to say that we liked every.single.dish we ordered. Oh, except for the weird steamed bamboo dish which was our attempt at having “vegetables”. My dad inlaw liked the restaurant so much, he said repeatedly that we definitely have to go back to try them again “just to be sure” πŸ˜‰ My favourite was the Crying Tiger beef. While, Little E’s was definitely the duck red curry with lychee. A few reviews suggested that portion size was on the smaller side, perhaps they were when the review was written but we definitely had enough. However, we did order a dish each plus some entree.

I am extremely pleased also that as we ate, the place started filling up. Even better, most of the patrons were Thais. At least, they spoke a language that sounded like Thai and the waitresses understood them. Yummy and authentic πŸ™‚

Just as we left, we eagerly took one of their takeaway menus. It is almost dangerous knowing that they do free delivery to our suburb πŸ˜‰

Baitong Laos & Thai Cuisine
Ph: 02 6287 7735
Shop 13, Cooleman Court Shopping Centre
Brierly Street
Weston Creek
Baitong Laos & Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

HealthIER Chocolate Fudge Brownies

If you can’t tell already, I am an emotional eater. When I feel down and sad, baking is my escape. I try to give away most of my baked goods, just so that we don’t eat them all ourselves. Last night, I tried a new recipe I found online and tweaked it to make it slightly healthier.

Healthier Chocolate Fudge Brownie

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Ingredients:
1 well mashed avocado
3 beaten eggs
1 cup of self raising flour (can use Gluten Free option)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla essence
300g dark chocolate chips (can use Lactose free option)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar

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Method:
Preheat oven to 180C.

In a pot, heat coconut oil and chocolate chips until well combined, take off heat.

In batches, add flour, sugar, essence and baking powder, continue stirring the whole time.

Stir in avocado until well combined.

When mixture is cooled, stir in eggs.

Pour into baking tray then in the oven for 25 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes before serving πŸ™‚

The original recipe uses almond meal, but I didn’t have any. You can’t taste the avocado at all, but it must add moisture in the brownie. I love having a piece of the brownie warm, Mr E said that when cold, it is more of a fudge texture πŸ™‚

Enjoy!

Fussy little eaters: Slow Cooked Sweet Soy Pork

I cooked this recently and gave a dear friend some to try. It is a dish that I grew up with, though we would have it with sausages and intestines instead πŸ˜‰ Mr E would never eat that so I used pork shoulder instead.Β My friend liked it so much that she asked for the recipe. Since I had to write it down for her, I thought I’d post it as well, in case you would like to try it out too πŸ™‚ My little one liked this dish as the meat is very tender.

Slow cooked Sweet Soy Pork

Ingredients:

  • 4 stalks of shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 6cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 600g pork shoulder, trim most fat
  • 4tbs kecap manis (Indo sweet soy sauce, you can get this at any supermarket now)
  • 2tbs soy sauce
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 1 long green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • Any vegetables you like, I added about 4 potatoes (halved)

Method:

  1. Pan fry garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add shallots and chilli until tender.
  2. Quickly brown the pork then add all the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Once all of the sauces are combined, put everything into a slow cooker for 6-8Β hours.
  4. Serve with rice, stir fried vegies and a dollop of sambal (Indo chilli paste)

You can use chicken or even tofu for this dish. When I’m feeling ultra extravagant, I also add in peeled boiled eggs into the slow cooker. The eggs will end up soaking the juices, making them sweet and spicy and eggy. It is definitely one of my comfort food dishes, I normally make this when only food can make me happy πŸ˜‰

Happy cooking (and eating)!

Ps. Let me know if you would like me to post the recipe on my Indo chilli paste. That one is definitely not child friendly! πŸ™‚

Fussy little eaters: Two-ingredients Pizza Base

Here’s our dinner tonight!

The simplest, fastest and “healthiest” pizzas we could make from scratch. Little E ate his whole dinner, with no fuss!

Two-ingredients Pizza Base

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Ingredients:

  • 1c plain Greek yogurt
  • 1c self-raising flour (we’ve tried GF flour before, it worked out fine)
  • Our toppings tonight: cheese, chicken breast pieces, slices of capsicum, grated carrots, BBQ sauce, mixed herbs and garlic

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Mix both ingredients, then knead until they come together into a ball (adjust the flour if the dough is too wet. Unfortunately, different yogurt has different water content)
  3. With a rolling pin, roll outΒ the dough to about 1cm thin
  4. Put toppings on top then into the oven for 15-20 minutes

Voila! Dinner for the entire family! πŸ™‚ Easy peasy.

Holiday: Queenstown in Detail

The drive to Queenstown were relatively easy. Little E slept most of the way and when he was awake, he was happy looking around. The only “exciting” thing that happened was a hawk flew at us, hitting the windscreen then scratched the whole of the roof. We found out later that a group of our friends had similar encounter too. Silly hawks.

We made a lunch stop at Cromwell, as Mr E wanted to check out the motorcar park. Owned by a man from the Gold Coast, QLD, the place reeked of fancy schmancy cars and revheads. Interesting indeed, but Mr E liked it and the food were delicious (though pricey).

Another quick drive through was to Arrowtown. We went just as some sort of cycling event was finishing so the whole place was hectic and crazy. Definitely not something I wanted to deal with after a long drive. Arrowtown was beautiful though, a quaint little town with little shops. It is an option for something to do while in Queenstown πŸ™‚

Queenstown

Now, onto Queenstown. I won’t go into details of each day we were there, just to keep this post unrambly.

Activities we did and liked:

  • A walk through the botanical garden and its playground – Little E absolutely loved the playground, so did we, as it is right by the water with the beautiful Queenstown backdrop. We visited it each day we were in town. The garden makes a nice stroll, one experience we enjoyed was watching a group of children having a race of what looked like boats made of recyclable materials (ie. Old milk bottles etc). You can’t help feel as excited when watching little people being excited πŸ™‚
  • Eat chocolatey dessert at Patagonia – a must do! Their churros were really delicious.
  • A walk around the Queenstown main shops – lots of pretty and fancy shops. There’s a children’s clothes shop that I really had to leave very quickly as I wanted too many things and we really couldn’t spend that much money in one shop. I wish I did purchase something though.
  • Appreciate the beauty of Queenstown by the water. It reminded me of the equally scenic Switzerland but less cold πŸ˜›
Milford Sound Flight

A view from up above – Milford Sound Flight

  • Milford Sound – we did the flight/cruise/flight as I couldn’t do 9hrs+ in the bus with Little E. It is so much cheaper doing the bus but I just couldn’t do it. I cannot say that the trip was worth the money though. I enjoyed parts of the flights, when it wasn’t bumpy, and I liked the cruise, but only when I was outside (I get motion sickness). We saw a lonely penguin having a snooze and a few seals, though after our tour in Dunedin, it wasn’t as special πŸ™‚ Both my boys enjoyed their time so I guess it was worth it for me to go.
A view from the gondola ride at Queenstown Skyline

A view from the gondola ride at Queenstown Skyline

  • The reason we were in NZ was for our friends’ wedding as Little E was the ring bearer. I loved the wedding and had heaps of fun at the reception. Held at the Queenstown Skyline, we went on the gondola ride, marvel at the beauty of Queenstown view from up high and had a fab buffet meal. The food was absolutely delicious, so I would assume that the food served at the restaurant would be of the same quality. Yum! The Skyline is definitely a must do while in Queenstown πŸ™‚
  • Cookietime – delicious but expensive warm cookies, so make sure you keep an eye out on their Happy Hour times πŸ™‚
  • Fergburger – a must eat place. Deliciously awesome burger place but not exactly child friendly. Limited seats, definitely no high chairs, long queues but worth it.

Tips:
Make sure you organise the Milford Sound flight on the first day you’re there as it will get cancelled if the weather isn’t right.

Suggested activities that I would have liked to do given the opportunity and/or other activities available:

  • The luge rides at the Skyline
  • Putt Putt golf – a great rainy day activity as it’s indoor
  • Kiwi Encounter for the bigger kids
  • Gold panning in Arrowtown
  • The many variety of water activities, such as jet boating, whitewater rafting, parasailing etc.

Accommodation

The Whistler Apartments
15 -17 Gorge Rd
Queenstown
ph: +64 3 409 0394

Loved this one bedroom apartment that our family friend suggested. It had a full kitchen, which we made use of as Queenstown is expensive! Close to the main part of town but still away from the noise. You can walk to the other supermarketnot in town for cheaper grocery πŸ™‚ The apartment also comes with a washing machine and a dryer. The perfect family accommodation πŸ™‚

Of all the cities/towns we went to in our trip, Queenstown has got to be myΒ favourite! A definite must-go city when you’re in the country πŸ™‚ Though probably the most expensive, everyone we met was happy and friendly, the atmosphere welcoming and fun. We were there for 4 nights, 3 days and I felt like it gave us enough time to explore the place and do the things we want to (and can) do at a leisurely pace πŸ™‚

On a separate note, here’s my photo for day 12 of 100.
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Little E loved the chicken dish I made that he hardly made a mess even though it came with rice and he fed himself! He ate all the chicken pieces I gave him. All.of.them! An absolute success in my books! In this photo, he was being impatient for seconds πŸ™‚