Our Festive Celebrations for 2013

Well hello there!!! Welcome back lovely readers.
Happy New Year to you all!!!
I can’t believe it’s now 2014. Christmas is all done and dusted for another year. Thank goodness Christmas only occurs once a year, I love it, but physically, financially and mentally I think once a year is more than enough for everyone (I believe the next 12 months is to recover).
We had a fantastic festive break, sharing it with beautiful family and friends. I feel truly blessed to be part of such a special network of people. I did promise a post-Christmas Blog Post so rather than waffle on (like I usually do) I think I will let the pictures do more of the talking today.

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It was a group effort putting our Christmas day feast together. This was some of the kitchen action on Christmas Eve. Zasister, Zagrandma and Zakidlets all doing their bit. Zadada was doing plenty behind the scenes, taking these pictures, tending to the outside maintenance and keeping Zakidlets entertained.

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I love a pretty Christmas table. This year I used a mirror as part of my centre piece on the table (an idea I found on pinterest). I was really happy with how it all turned out.

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Tradition in The Zamamabakes household is to attend Mass on Christmas Eve. We managed a quick bite to eat before hand, the kids request of course, but it was lovely to just sit and have a few moments as our family of 5.

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We had to leave some treats out for Santa and his Reindeer. The banana and strawberries on the plate was my attempt to Christmas Brekky a little (some more pinterest inspiration).

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I love watching the kids discover their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

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This was our group for Christmas lunch. Zasister, Zagorgeous Aimee, Zabrother, Zadada, Zamama (me), Zapop, Zagrandma and of course Zakidlets our little cherubs Alani, Blake and Ella. Missing from the picture is Zauncle Jim, he was behind the camera for this shot.

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Some yummy morning appetizers! I made sure I had that glass of champagne (a Christmas gift from Zasister last year). We had a delicious Cheeseball Zauncle Jim made I intend on sharing the recipe as soon as I can.

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This is some of what was on offer for lunch, dinner and lunch again on boxing day!! So much food, so delicious.

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Zakidlets table and the rest of us.

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Dessert was scrumptious another great group effort.

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And just in case you felt like something else sweet we had Zanan’s Trifle, Zagrandma’s fruit cake and a tray of yummy homemade chocolates.

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It’s not Christmas without a spot of cricket, I chose to spectate and ensure the electric fence was switched off!!!

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How could we forget Zapuppydog!! Blake found this dog shirt at the reject shop before Christmas, wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree for Locky. It was a little on the tight side so it was on long enough to take a picture. I think Zapuppydog needs to lose a little weight, (his New Years resolution perhaps).

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Boxing day brought some motor biking action.

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As well as some construction action.
Lots of fun was had by all involved.

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For Christmas Zagrandma and Zapop, Zanan and Zapop as well as Zadada and Myself all put in to purchase a climbing fort for Zakidlets. The only thing was it came flat packed.

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The day after boxing day we had a working bee that went for 12 hours (I happened to be in at work for 8 of those hours). I still managed to lend a bit of a helping hand when I got home (I think) for a few brief moments at least (I fitted in the fort a little more comfortably than Zadada), they even let me loose with the drill!!!

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The finished product with some very happy owners!!
Thank you to Zanan, Zagrandma, Zapop and Zadada for making this happen all in a day!!!
For those interested we purchased the climbing fort from climbingframes.com.au the ceder climbing frame specialists. See details here. We are extremely happy with it so far.

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We also managed a beach trip during the festive break. We had a great day!!!

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Before we knew it a week had passed and a new year was almost upon us. We stayed at home sharing New Years Eve with some lovely friends.

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New Year celebrations are not complete without Dessert!! In fact no celebration is complete without dessert!! I made an easy Chocolate, cream and berry log, it’s a bit of a cheats dessert, great when you are a little time poor and is always yummy!!

I am looking forward to sharing some recipes from the festive break soon.
While the kids are on holidays things may be a little hit and miss, I will do my best.
It’s great to be back, stay tuned.

Zamamabakes

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What’s cooking at Zamamabakes house on Christmas Day?

The fact that we are only 4 days out from Christmas, I thought what better way to sign off on 2013 then to give you a little insight into a Christmas hosted by the Zamamabakes household.
This year we are doing things a little simpler (I think??).
Zagrandma (my Mum) always comes to join me in my kitchen on the day of Christmas eve, we play Christmas carols, dance around and do lots of Christmas cooking together. Its busy and lots of work but we love it. We usually manage to fit a festive drink in there somewhere too.

We will have a variety of guests Christmas day including Zagrandma, Zanan’s, Zapop’s, Zaaunt’s, Zauncles, Zachick, Zacousins.
Like most we make Christmas lunch our main meal of the day and for lunch I am expecting 8 adults plus 3 Zakidlets!! 2 Years ago we had 24 for lunch, it was hectic but lots of fun.

Tradition is to have a cold buffet of salads, ham, prawns, chicken and whatever other meats we decide to have sometimes turkey, sometimes pork it just depends on how complicated and time-consuming we want to make things ha ha. All the dining guests usually get delegated a dish or 2 to bring along which works out perfectly giving us a great selection of food to enjoy!

Zakidlets usually start their day with a ‘sometimes breakfast’ of Coco Pop’s, note the SOMETIMES!!!! They love them for a treat. I am also planning to surprise them with some fresh fruit candy canes made with real strawberries and banana’s.

Our guests will start to arrive around Mid-Morning which will hopefully give us enough time to get the house respectable after a morning of Santa Claus Surprises!!

This is our basic line up of food for the day,
Starters:
Cheese platter, including an amazing cheese ball (courtesy of Zagreatunclejim).
A few savoury snacks including a serve of my ‘Nuts and Bolts’ to nibble on.
I am hoping to make a serve of the delicious looking Prosciutto and bocconcini skewers pictured below. I found the idea here at taste.com.

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A glass of bubbles is a must and always goes down a treat in the lead up to lunch.

For Main the plan is:

Fresh cooked prawns
Chicken (this year I am trying a smoked chicken from our local butcher, he does his own smoking). Zagrandma is going to bake up a chicken roll (the ones you get at the supermarket with the stuffing inside)
Maybe a Roast Pork with apples and cider see recipe here, will just depend on whether or not time permits.
Christmas Ham (you can’t do Christmas without ham)

Salads and Sides
Roast Pumpkin Rocket Salad (I have not done a post on this recipe yet, sorry ūüė¶ so stay tuned for it in my early Blog posts in 2014)
Potato salad being made by Zaauntkayla see recipe here
Wombok crunchy noodle salad (you’ll find the recipe on the back of a pack of Chang’s refried noodles) being made by Zabeautiful Aimee.
Cherry tomato, cucumber and green bean salad see recipe here
Beetroot Salad (Baby spinach leaves, tinned baby beets drained, feta crumbled, creamy garlic dressing from the supermarket, topped with chopped walnuts)
Fried Rice (ZaPop’s specialty, he even puts twiggy sticks in it)
Seafood Salad (Zaunclebrad’s favourite, he has this task)

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Dessert (Yum)

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Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Tart recipe here.

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Persian Love Cake (delegated to Zabeautiful Aimee) recipe here.

Zagrandma is making a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake (one of my favourites) I’ll post recipe 2014.

A nice fresh fruit platter is always a good option to have on hand.

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Then you just have to have a selection of yummy treats to snack on in case you’re still hungry!!!! Rocky Road, Truffles, White Christmas, Chocolate caramel balls, Christmas Jellies (I get these at the kids Christmas Tableau and freeze til Christmas). Zagrandma always makes a delicious Christmas cake which goes perfectly with a cup of tea.

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I think that is just about everything covered!!! The added benefit of an indulgent Christmas feast is eating the leftovers for a few days after Christmas. I’ll be sure to give you a report of how things go in a few weeks time, NEXT YEAR!!!!

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For now I would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my beautiful reader’s. I wish you all a very safe and enjoyable festive season.

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Zapuppydog sends his best Christmas wishes too!!!

Until 2014

Zamamabakes xxxx

Oven baked risotto with chicken and chorizo

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Zacousin Michael supplied me with the goods for this fantastic recipe. Like myself Michael enjoys collecting recipe clippings, but he was unable to remember which magazine this recipe came from. From now on when I tear out a recipe from a magazine or newspaper I am going to write down on the back of it where I found it so I can give the source the credit they deserve. I am guessing this recipe may have come from a New Idea or Woman’s day because they always have fantastic recipe’s in them.
When I served this up on Tuesday night Blake our little boy virtually inhaled it, that is always a good sign, I feel like I blink sometimes and his plate is empty!! Ella enjoyed it too but at a slightly more ladylike pace. Alani the 2-year-old mmmmmm yes well at the moment unless it’s spaghetti bol or fish and chips I can pretty much guarantee her reaction of ‘I don’t want this’,(sigh), a challenge we are trying to deal with at the moment, but that’s a whole other story!!
Now Getting back to this risotto recipe I will give you the basic recipe as I was given and then I will tell you what substitutions I made. It is a very flexible recipe as you will see.

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You will need:
1 litre chicken stock
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3(400g) chorizo sausages, sliced thinly
400g chicken thigh fillets cut into 2 cm pieces
2 Large(400g) brown onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 large(300g) red capsicum, sliced thinly
2 cups(400g) Arborio rice
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

How to:
1 Preheat oven to 180c (160c fan-forced)
2 Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan
3 Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a flameproof dish over a high heat. Add chorizo, cook until browned all over. Remove from dish, cover to keep warm. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the dish.
4 Add chicken to same dish, cook stirring until browned all over. Remove from dish.
5 Heat remaining oil in same dish, cook onion and garlic, stirring until soft. Add capsicum, cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add rice and paprika, stir to coat in onion mixture. Add wine, simmer, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated. Add the hot stock and chicken, cover with lid. Cook in oven for about 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir once halfway during cooking. Return chorizo to the dish, stir until heated through.
6 Sprinkle with parsley and serve with parmesan, if desired.

SUITABLE TO FREEZE

NOTE: If you don’t have a flameproof dish with a lid, start the mixture in a frying pan on the stove, then transfer it to an ovenproof dish with lid (or you can just firmly cover dish with foil if you don’t have a lid).

SUBSTITUTIONS I MADE (whenever I can manage it I try to get as many veggies into a dish so I know the kids are getting the most out of a tasty meal).
1 I only used half an onion as I don’t like a lot of onion, but added 3/4 cup mushrooms instead.
2 I didn’t use Capsicum, instead I used 1 small zucchini, and carrot diced finely.
I also added 1 cup of fresh baby spinach leaves mixed through at the same step as the chorizo sausage.

This dish served us for 2 nights running, great for a work night when you can just reheat leftovers. Blake asked me last night if there was anymore of that nice rice left, he was obviously prepared to eat it 3 nights running! I’ll take that as a compliment.

I will be putting this dish on the rotating meal plan hahahaha….I wish I was that organised!!! It’s definitely on the favourites list for a repeat appearance.
Thanks Michael, I love using recipes that are tried and tested!!!

An Outdoor Adventure as a family of 5 plus 1 furry friend

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We are very fortunate to be bringing up our 3 beautiful children on acreage in Northern NSW. Last weekend for the first time together all 5 of us including Zapuppydog¬†Locky¬†went for a bush walking adventure on our property. I have to say I’m not usually a bushwalking, adventuring Zamama, but I know how much the kids love being outside just like Zadada¬†so I thought right make the effort Zamama so I did and I am so glad I did because we had a great morning.
I think sometimes we get so wound up with life in general that we forget to really appreciate what is right under our nose.
It was too good a day not to share some pictures with you all. I will treasure this little adventure forever, you may not be able to go back in time but photo’s are great for taking good memories forward.

So off we set up over our rolling hills on a beautiful blue skied day.

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It was somewhere between the photo above and the next below that Zadada¬†spotted a snake, slithering away from us and with that the not so brave Zamama¬†was very ready to turn around and run home, but assured by her husband that the snake would not be interested in gobbling up any of her family members or herself she continued on. I must add at this point not one of our three children flinched at the fact that a snake had been sighted, they stopped in their tracks when Zadada told them to stop but they certainly did not share the anxious fear and racing heart that I did. I guess that’s the difference between being brought up as a child on the land as opposed to being introduced to it at the age of 29 like me (but more on that another time, I may have lived here now for almost 6 years but I am still learning the ropes of out-of-town living).

I don’t know about the rest of you but we can’t take Zakidlets anywhere without their little tummies rumbling. We found a beautiful little spot in the rainforest and set up for a little morning tea picnic.
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Once those little and big rumbling tummies had been satisfied it was time for some exploring , splashing in the creek and listening out for all the amazing sounds you hear when you are in a rainforest. It gave Zadada and I great pleasure to watch our 3 little munchkins taking in everything that was around them.

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I should add it was not all smooth sailing, we did have one little family member decide they need the bathroom!!!!!!……….fortunately we managed to make do with what the great outdoors had to offer and everyone was ok.

Middle munchkin Ella thought that because she was ready to go home (in other words she had no more food left) everyone else should be ready to go home too. Eventually she got her wish but not before everyone was ready (that girl needs to learn a little more about being patient and courteous, ha ha maybe one day in my Zamama dreams!!!).

So we packed up and headed for home which was only about 20 minutes walk away and that includes walking with a 2 1/2 year old who did extremely well for her first real bushwalking adventure.

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Our adventure ended with a bit of clay wall climbing for the kids.
I would love to say a big thankyou to our fantastic tour guide, AKA Zadada. You are one very patient man and I appreciate everything you do for our little family.

My advice to everyone whether you live in the city or the country is get out in the sunshine and fresh air as much as you can, it really is good medicine and helps to refresh the soul.

Crunchy Salmon Casserole

This recipe is a great comfort food dish for the whole family to enjoy. It’s a fishy take on macaroni and cheese I guess. My beautiful Mother-In-law was the person who originally shared and served the crunchy salmon casserole recipe to me. It’s actually one of Zadada’s favourite dishes, he enjoy’s it best the next day when the cheese has flavoured the dish just that little bit more.
It keeps in the fridge for a good 3 days and reheats really well. It’s not a fancy dish but its easy and it gets gobbled up by everyone in our family.

We are a family of 5, the quantities below easily feed us all for 2 separate meals with more to spare.

Here are the ingredients you will need:
2 1/2cups (400g) uncooked macaroni pasta
250g¬†packet Arnott’s¬†Cheds biscuits, roughly crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
415 g tin pink salmon
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
Salt and Pepper to season

Method

Lightly grease 22cm x 30cm x 6cm baking dish.Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Meanwhile pop a frying pan on medium heat and add butter and 12 cheds biscuits, stir to evenly distribute melted butter with biscuits. reduce heat to low , add milk followed by 1 cup of cheese and salmon ( I slice thru the salmon to break it up a bit before adding), continue heating through until cheese has melted. Season salmon mixture with salt and pepper, remove from heat.

Preheat a moderate oven.

Place cooked, drained pasta into prepared baking dish. Pour or spoon salmon mixture over pasta and stir a little to evenly distribute in dish. Use another 14 crushed cheds biscuits and scatter over the salmon pasta mixture. At this point I usually push some of the biscuits down into the mixture as well as leaving some lightly on top. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese over the top of prepared dish. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until cheese has melted and is lightly golden. Serve with a garden salad or some steamed vegetables.

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