Say Goodbye to Dinner Dilemmas – HelloFresh 2 Month Review

I’m a firm believer that meal kits are one of the greatest, most convenient marvels of modern living – at least for parents lol – we are hooked! However, choosing between the various subscription box options we now have in New Zealand can be a bit daunting. Our family has tried 90% of them but after purchasing HelloFresh since September it’s time to dish!

Before I get into it, HelloFresh have hooked you guys up with a discount code so you too can experience the convenience, variety and peace of mind that this awesome service had brought to our dinner table! For $35 off your first HelloFresh order, CLICK HERE – I can’t recommend it ENOUGH guys so give it a whirl!

Dinner doesn’t get any more convenient than this

I really can’t emphasise this enough. Our delivery arrives on a Monday, ready for the week ahead. Because we are not meal planning each week and shopping for dinner is excluded from our weekly shop, we are saving time (and stress) in other areas of our life – not just at 5pm every day when the “what’s for dinner/I forgot to get the meat out!” panic kicks in.

One point of difference between HelloFresh and its competitors that Dave and I LOVE is the colour coded paper bag system. Everything you need for each meal (except the chilled ingredients) is in ONE recyclable paper bag, saving time 2 ways;
I don’t have to unpack 5 meals worth of ingredients when our delivery arrives, I just pop the bags straight in the fridge.
Secondly, when it’s time to cook, I don’t have to refer to the recipe card and collect all the ingredients needed for the meal – everything is in the bag! Love it.Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Those of us who are responsible for preparing dinner for either ourselves or others have our go-to meals that pop up again and again, week after week – inspo is hard to come by at 5pm when everything is happening at once right? Guys, there is no need to exaggerate how amazing it is to flick through the HelloFresh recipes each week and literally be so stoked at the variety that you can’t decide which meal to make first. Not even joking.

The kids LOVE it!

I’m loving saying goodbye to second-guessing whether the meals arriving each week via a subscription service will be liked by the kids. If you’re a Classic or Family Box customer, it’s super easy to jump onto the HelloFresh site or the app and switch out recipes if they’re not quite right for you. The boys are also loving HelloFresh as the recipes are perfectly suited to family meals. In Mum-Speak, I’m not having to recreate every dinner to suit the tastes of our finicky five-year-old and stubborn teenager.

Rediscover the joy of cooking!

Our HelloFresh subscription has incidentally removed any barriers (real or perceived lol) that had been preventing Ethan (our 14yo) from getting more involved at mealtimes. He loves to cook, but stress levels in our kitchen around dinner time often mean that Dave and I don’t have the capacity to guide him through dinner prep or cooking. The HelloFresh recipe cards provide step by step instructions complete with photographs, that allow E to get started on dinner prep when he can and jump in and assist us on those busy days when another hand in the kitchen is always welcomed.  

My Recommendation…..

All in all, we are loving HelloFresh – can you tell?! Cooking, eating and sharing meals together as a family has chilled out so much over the past couple of months since HelloFresh arrived in NZ and in our kitchen – I can’t imagine life without it anymore. The service and quality of ingredients are outstanding considering how well priced the deliveries are and don’t forget, I’ve got a code to share which makes it even better value!

Try HelloFresh for yourself and you’ll definitely see what I’m talking about. Don’t forget to use the code BESTNEST for $35 off your first order and find a little more time in your day and out of your kitchen!

Creating a Healthful Morning Routine

I’ve been working hard on improving my morning routine over the summer and I’m happy to share it with you in conjunction with Harraway’s new Oat-activ® range.


As we welcome autumn in New Zealand, we are well past the heady, New Year’s enthusiasm of resolutions, good intentions and well-meaning but (perhaps expensive?) ‘motivational’ purchases of workout gear, gym memberships and fitspo apps. Taking stock of which habits have ‘stuck’ over the summer months and which ones can be filed as a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ exercise is an excellent way to move into the season ahead and clear out mental clutter (and any associated guilt lol).

So how do you introduce positive life changes and healthy habits in a way that will ‘stick’?

I have NO idea.

Literally, I got nothing for ya lol.

What I do know is that I’m a 38 year old work-in-progress, constantly battling age, injury – and my old mates’ white toast bread and wine! Dividing my day into morning, afternoon and evenings has helped tackle the massive ‘overwhelm’ that is often associated with implementing any kind of lifestyle change. Putting some thought into small, positive changes I can make to my routine (or lack thereof) across the day has given me the headspace to realise what’s important at various key times, and how awareness leads to positive, lasting change.

My Healthful Morning Routine

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Starting your day off right and figuring out how to do this is a goal across the board I’m guessing? Though this is going to look vastly different for everyone, I’ve found a couple of key tweaks and behaviour mods that have had a lasting impact on my mood, wellbeing and productivity throughout the day.

  • A great day actually begins the night before. Saying no to another episode on Netflix and spending time on a bed-time routine to actively unwind from the day improves my sleep immeasurably.
    What does this actually look like? For me that means TV off and device down at 9.30pm, 500ml of water + magnesium and vitamins, time spent removing makeup (mentally washing the day off), treating my skin with a night serum or cream, brushing my teeth, reading or a sudoku puzzle.
  • Rising early. Getting out of bed has never come easily to me I’ll admit, but over the past 4 months, I’ve discovered that initiating an earlier wake-up time using my phone and Fitbit alarms is paying dividends. I’ve got some mental space to myself before the boys wake-up, an extra 30 minutes does wonders for my productivity and waking of my own volition as opposed to a body slam to the head via Nixon works wonders on my mood! 
  • Getting breakfast right. Sometimes the wheels fall off throughout the day so starting as you mean to continue is an invaluable mental tool. I’ve long been a fan of oats for breakfast, they are delicious, satisfying, inexpensive and easy to prep. The latest oats to hit shelves, Harraway’s Oat-activ® range, can also add cholesterol reducing to their impressive list of health benefits with the combo of added LDL reducing plant sterol + the beta-glucan found in oats. Cholesterol is important to our cells but too much LDL, low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Harraways Oat-activ® hits bad LDL cholesterol with a plant-based ‘double-action’ attack; beta-glucan forms a gel in the digestive tract, binding to excess LDL, blocking the re-absorption of bile acids and removing the mixture as well, while phytosterols extracted from plants are added to the Oat-activ® range in powder form get to work preventing absorption of LDL in the intestines. Busy brekkie is an understatement, right?
    Why stop at breakfast? We’re all privy to a little afternoon nibble, so I like to keep Harraways  Oat-activ® on hand for a convenient, nourishing snack or smoothie booster. For the best results, it’s recommended that you have two Harraways Oat-activ® sachets per day to lower your cholesterol*, so it’s a win-win in my book.
  • Water before coffee – ALWAYS.  My morning coffee is one part of my morning ritual I really look forward to but two tweaks I adhere to now are; 500ml of water before I even lift my coffee mug! Non-negotiable. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of milk so passing on the flat white and saying yes to a long black is now routine and I feel much better for it. 
  • Get outside in the am.  Natural light is the cornerstone of our daily rhythms and contributes massively to our physical and mental wellbeing. Late last year, after a couple of weeks of walking every morning, I noticed how amazing I felt – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was energised (sunlight triggers cortisol), I was happy, my anxiety had disappeared (serotonin stimulation lifts our moods), productivity was up and I was sleeping like a babe as exposure to sunlight was suppressing melatonin expression until I needed it in the evenings. Winning all round!

So that’s what’s working for me so far in 2018.  Five little steps that are easily accessible, require zero subscriptions or outside influence and combined, result in an easy, healthful morning routine that sets me up for the days of working and parenting.

Available in selected Pak N Save & New World supermarkets now in oat singles packs, Harraways Oat-activ® is available in Original or Original with Cranberry flavours. Find out more about the healthful benefits of Oat-activ® here.

*As part of your daily intake of 3g beta-glucan or 2g of plant sterols.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Breakfast Oats

This post was sponsored by Harraways Oat-activ®

Recipe for Summer – Fruit and Ice Cream

Waitangi Day is the line in the sand when it comes to New Zealand summer I reckon.  The big stuff all happens ‘Pre-Waitangi’; the massive 6 week school holiday kicks off for the kids, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, road trips, tropical cyclones………….

Come Feb and the return to school – ‘Post-Waitangi’ summer kicks in.

It’s just my opinion but this is where the best summering happens as we all begin to savour every last sunshine-y Sunday, every after school beach-dash and every balmy BBQ dinner.  Shaking every last grain of sand out of summer in New Zealand is our duty as Kiwis.  Much like our ‘no man left behind’ attitude to summer stonefruit or our ‘eat ALL the berries’ culinary philosophy, making the most of these golden days is in our blood and helps me survive the extreme hardships of winter……in Auckland :::::::shudder::::::

Forget your kiwifruit or Navel Oranges, or any other fruit growing without a stone, bramble or vine.  I’m a summer fruit girl from way back.  As such, a snatched glimpse of a laden Christmas Plum or Golden Queen tree has always been a bit of a trigger for me (I’m sure many of you can relate right?).  I can remember a very blurry summer holiday when I was around 12 and had the good fortune to be invited away with my besties family.  The bach we were staying at had a marvelously overgrown and steep backyard that wound its way uphill towards the neighbouring fence line.  Exploring in the shade of the afternoons once we returned from the beach yielded a marvelous discovery – a Golden Queen peach tree, surely as ancient as the Kauri, (I mean, it was definitely as BIG as a Kauri wink wink, I was 12 remember!) literally groaning under the burden of its fruit.  The dilapidated fence separating us from our golden prize was merely a challenge, and not of the moral kind, unfortunately.  The lack of houses in any direction simply reinforced the fact that this ripe token of summer was ours for the taking, and besides, pilfered fruit always seemed to taste a wee bit better when you were 12!

Fast forward more than 20 years and some of the first things I purchased when we bought our house were fruit trees.  One Golden Queen peach tree, one heritage black plum and one nectarine tree.  To be honest, my mini-orchard was on the back-foot from day one with its care in my decidedly less-than-green hands so we are struggling, but, I’m picking the 2019 harvest will be a beauty, ie we might get some fruit we can eat!  My lack of peach-prowess could, of course, be due to the fact that we do not live in the Hawkes Bay.  They’ve got that peach growing on lockdown there which is why another kiwi fave of mine, Tip Top, keeps it local and uses real fruit grown by real NZ farmers in their Peaches & Cream Ice cream – no dodgy fence jumping going on here either, tsk tsk 12yo Melissa lol.  When we’re growing so much amazing produce right here in NZ we should absolutely expect that our local suppliers are sourcing FRESH ingredients from those growing it locally.  Combining one of our most beloved summer fruits with the goodness of New Zealand milk and cream is a taste of summer I hope my boys will remember as synonymous with growing up in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Tip Top Ice Cream

The iconic Boysenberry is another kiwi fave that takes me back to pinching fruit from the vine on my Nana’s farm. Its incarnation into the multiple award-winning Boysenberry Ripple ice cream from Tip Top has made boysenberries a generational obsession in our family.  If there was a momentous stop for a scoop of ice cream when I was a kid,  I don’t remember my Mum ever (ever, EVER) selecting any flavour other than Boysenberry.  Habit or heritage, whimsy or some other romantic hankering for the past, the fruit and flavours of New Zealand are freaking awesome and play a huge role in how I remember the 38 summers of my life.

Nelson farmers have taken up the reins and for years have been supplying Tip Top with enough kiwi boysenberries to keep that famous ripple in the freezer year round – but I reckon ice cream always tastes better in summer, yeah?

Keeping it real and, real kiwi is a big deal to Tip Top, one of the bit-players in each of my summers.  Recognizing the importance of legacy ingredients in our lives, it’s rad to see that using REAL fruit grown right here is just as important to the big guys as it is to would-be-backyard-mum-orchardists who might one day grow enough peaches for each of us to have one simultaneously.

This post was made possible by the good peeps at Tip Top!

PS Find our waffle recipe here

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Tip Top Ice Cream
Ethan and one of his best friends planned a Waitangi Day Waffle cook-off and nailed them! They were pretty stoked when I whipped some surprise toppings out of the freezer – Peaches and Cream and Boysenberry Ripple ice cream from Tip Top.

Cook, Eat: Twice Baked Sweetcorn and Bacon Potatoes Recipe

Vegetable prices here in New Zealand are absolutely ridiculous this summer.  If mortgaging your house to keep up a steady supply of the green gold aka, avocados is not your jam, then you’ll be looking to purchase in-season produce whose price point reflects the fact that it’s IN SEASON lol.

And that brings us to corn.

I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t love fresh, kiwi grown sweetcorn.  It’s the perfect summer vege, it stays fresh in its husk in the fridge, travels well and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

After travelling in Japan for 2 weeks, we had been missing our kiwi fruit and vegetables like crazy so every meal at the moment revolves around salad and veges.  Last night I whipped up some Twice Baked Sweetcorn and Bacon Potatoes using fresh as, LeaderBrand sweetcorn and spinach.  We’ve got a winner here folks, these corn taties and variations on them will be a menu regular in our house from now on.  Sub the bacon for a hearty Meat Free Monday Meal, or switch your protein and dice up some leftover bbq sausages etc.  This is a super easy recipe to get creative with and prep early so you’re not rushing at dinner time.

I wish I could take credit for this amazing recipe but I can’t lol.  For more yummy, fresh ways to eat NZ sweetcorn, check out the recipes section over at www.leaderbrand.co.nz

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe

Twice Baked Sweetcorn and Bacon Potatoes
Print

Ingredients
  1. 4 large potatoes, washed
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 2 cobs LeaderBrand sweetcorn kernels, cut from corn
  4. 6 rashers bacon cut into small pieces
  5. 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  6. 1/2 cup cream or milk
  7. 1/2 cup sour cream
  8. 1/2 pack LeaderBrand spinach
  9. 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  10. Salt and pepper to season
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat over to 180℃.
  2. 2. Place potatoes on lined baking tray, poke holes in them, bake for 45 mins or until soft through. Remove from oven, allow to cool.
  3. 3. Meanwhile, cook bacon pieces for 2 minutes, add corn kernels and stir for a further 2 mins. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  4. 4. Cut a large flat slice off the top of baked potatoes. Using a tsp, scoop out the insides into a large bowl being careful to leave a thin layer of potato around the skin so it doesn't tear.
  5. 5. Add corn, bacon, sour cream, milk or cream, chopped spinach and parsley to the bowl and mix with potato. Season with S&P.
  6. 6. Using a tsp, fill the potato skins with the bacon and corn mix and place back on the oven tray. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven for 20mins or until cheese is melted and golden. Serve immediately.
http://www.thebestnest.co.nz/

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe

The LunchBox Refresh – 5 Days, Zero Sandwiches

Week one, Term 3.

Uniforms, PE gear, homework, bus money, making lunches…………..it’s THAT time again!

Because we’re all about keeping it real, it’s totally ok to admit that you’re already tired of packing the lunch-boxes after just one week back at school.  My bet is the kids are probably getting sick of eating them too!  School lunches are tricky; what my boys will devour one day is returned untouched the next in a seemingly random, arbitrary lottery of lunch-time success or failure.

But, the answer is right there ^ VARIETY.  Some of us are creatures of habit and prefer the same lunch, eaten at the same time each day – many children are like this too, in which case, find what they love and stick with it.  Nixon prefers the predictable but Ethan would be happy to never see another ham and cheese sandwich in his lunch box ever again.  I feel ya son!

So, I challenged myself to come up with some different school lunch options, NONE of which included a sandwich.  Not as difficult as it sounds, plus, I know Ethan loves leftovers so that’s always another option.  I figure that by alternating a normal lunch with a ‘sandwich free’ lunch, we’ll stave off lunch-box fatigue – at least for a little while this term.  These also tick the box for Nix as there is a familiar fave, a ‘constant’ in there each day, in this instance, a Dole Fruit Bowl which he loves.

 

Pikelets & Peanut Butter

Who doesn’t LOVE pikelets???  Next time you’re standing over the frying pan, whip up a double batch and freeze half for lunches.  If you freeze them on the baking tray they won’t stick together when you transfer them to a sandwich bag or container for storage : )

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On the menu: pikelets, peanut butter, apple, dried cranberries, Dole Fruit Bowl – Tropical Fruit & Juice.

Frittata & Friends

I was a bit stumped for my next idea so came up with the idea of packing lunch based upon a colour scheme!  This would be fab for picky eaters whom you are trying to gently encourage to experiment a little more.  Everything looks better when it’s colour-coordinated after all!  I based this lunch around yellow and orange food, but there are so many options.  Totally easy and do-able once a week.

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On the menu:  Ham & cheese mini-frittata, banana yoghurt, banana, carrot sticks, Dole Fruit Bowl – Mango & Custard, popcorn.

A Sausage Roll for Lunch!

This was def Ethan’s favourite, and the kiwi classic sausage roll tastes almost as good cold as it does hot (at least according to a bottomless pit, 12 year old boy!).

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On the menu: Sausage roll, pear, watermelon slices, bliss balls, Dole Fruit Bowl – Blueberries & Custard.

Cheese & Bacon Twist

This is an easy-to-bake idea that glams up plain old bread.  Try this calzone recipe and tweak the filling to suit your kids tatses.  Yum!

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On the menu: Cheese and bacon calzone, kiwi fruit, mandarin, Dole Fruit Bowl – Tropical Fruit & Juice, marmite and cheese bagel crisps.

Roast Chicken Sliders

We usually have a roast chicken on the menu each week and there’s always leftovers so I’ve repurposed them into a kid-friendly lunch option on a tasty, soft slider bun.  Nix struggles with full-size bread rolls so sliders work really well for him. I was expecting to find these in the bread aisle but I picked these up from our local supermarket, baked in-house!

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On the menu: Roast chicken sliders, kiwi fruit, pear, Dole Fruit Bowl – Tropical Fruit & Juice, bliss balls.

Hopefully, these ideas will give you some lunch-box inspo, and may even eliminate at least one of the #schoolrunsighs I know we can all relate to on a daily basis!  Finding your kid’s go-to snack like the Dole Fruit Bowls, that’s easy to slip into lunch-boxes and after school activity bags can be a life-saver when you’re in a hurry and running out the door.


This post was sponsored by Dole, thanks for helping to keep me writing!

Midwinter Mexican – Sizzling Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

Faa-heaters.

Fajitas.

Yay!

Now that you can pronounce fajitas, let’s figure out exactly what we’re talking about before we dive in and get cooking.

My first fajita experience was in a popular Tex-Mex chain restaurant in the US.  Piles of sizzling sliced meats, sliced, sauteed capsicums and onions served to the table in a HOT cast iron skillet with warm flour taco tortillas (tor-tea-aas), salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and sour cream served on the side.  It’s a sight to see and the fun of assembling your fajitas makes eating a really tactile experience.  Fajitas are also great for a family meal as the platter presentation works perfectly for sharing and keeping picky eaters happy.

The difference between tacos and fajitas?  Assembly and toppings.

The term fajitas actually refers to the filling and means ‘little strip’, referencing how the meat and vegetables are cut and cooked.  Tacos are served pre-filled, whereas fajitas are a DIY experience at the table, tacos generally have fresh, raw toppings whereas fajitas are served with sizzling veggies in the pan.

I love them both, like, I LOVE THEM BOTH, but let’s cook some Farrah’s fajitas!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

 

Sizzling Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

Sound a bit tricky??  Fajitas are super easy, check out the 1 min video below if you need some convincing : )

Ingredients

500gm raw shrimp cutlets

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to season

2 capsicums, different colours, cut into strips

1 red onion cut into strips

1 x Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix (available in the Mexican aisle at your supermarket)

1 x pack of Farrah’s Taco Tortillas (available in the Mexican aisle at your supermarket)

To Serve

Prep shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese on a platter

Lime wedges to serve

Cilantro, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce to serve.

Method

Heat oil in cast iron skillet or pan.

Add garlic and shrimp.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir through half the pack of Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix.

Cook until shrimp exterior is pink with red tails and the flesh is slightly opaque and a little “white” in color.

Remove shrimp from skillet and de-tail if you haven’t already.

Add capsicum and onion to skillet with the remainder of the Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix.  Cook, stirring until veggies are just softening.

Return shrimp to pan, bring back up to temp.

Serve straight to the table, taking care with the hot pan.

Enjoy fajitas with warm Farrah’s Taco Tortillas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce to serve.

I guarantee your family will love this meal and it’s SO quick and easy to whip up, get the kids in the kitchen to prep the cold toppings while you take care of those delicious shrimp!

I actually could eat this meal every day.  The fajita mix from Farrah’s is an amazing, smoky blend of spices that pairs perfectly with many different proteins.  Don’t forget the squeeze of fresh lime on these, you’ll be thanking me!

Enjoy!


Mexican dishes are on the menu in our house every week and I’m so keen to get you guys excited about trying some new dinner ideas that I have 5 amazing prize packs to give away thanks to Farrah’s!

  • 2 x Main prize winners: Farrah’s Mexican Range; including Farrah’s taco tortillas + spice mixes across the range. Enough to share!
  • 3 x Runners up: Fajita Mexican Pack; including new Fajita Spice Mix + Farrah;s Taco Tortillas.

To enter, leave me a comment below sharing your favourite way to enjoy the Farrah’s Mexican range.

Comp closes 27th July 2017, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

Sundays are for…………..family.

One Sunday morning at 4am the sun was not up, but into the bed came a very wriggly and very hungry little boy.  He started to look for some food, but Mum and Dad were still sleeping.  Last week they survived; 1 professional exam, 1 swimming lesson, 1 basketball game, 1 basketball practice, 1 committee meeting, 4 rugby practices, 2 GST returns, 1 rugby Club Night, 1 science project,  1 missed meeting with the bank (the bank manager may not have survived this one!), 2 PR events, 1 EMS workout, 4 blog posts, 1 All Blacks test……………and they were still tired.

Needless to say, Mum and Dad were very much looking forward to Sunday.  Until they remembered Ethan had rugby rep trials at 11am ::::::::::sigh::::::::::

Many are beginning to lament the innate ‘busyness’ of modern family life, and to be honest, last week just about broke me but, our family are joiners, participants, volunteers.  We like to get involved, put down roots, contribute and get to know our little community – something that doesn’t happen simply by virtue of being a ‘neighbour’ anymore.

The flip-side of this is that ensuring we have family ‘down-time’ sometimes becomes a mindful miracle of scheduling.

Eating helps.  Eating together nails it.

This Sunday, breakfast became early afternoon tea for Nixon (he woke at 4 remember!) and some combo of breakfast-brunch-lunch for Dave and I and our beautifully bed-headed preteen.  Keep in mind this is intentionally NOT a cereal breakfast ala Monday through Friday.  This is a ‘real food meal’ that takes time to eat so we can spend as much time as possible together, around the table without anyone on a device or rushing off .

The menu varies, it could be waffles, pancakes or crèpes but this week it was freshly made cheese scones, bacon, and omelets to share.  Of course, we have to be a little bit prepared, a mindful meal begins with some mindful shopping, or at the very least making sure there are some flour, milk, and eggs on hand!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Organic Milk

The way modern families shop for food and consider their purchases is as much a dynamic process as our hectic day-to-day lives.  Food innovation now often (ironically) takes the form of simplification.  As parents of a 12.5-year-old, we want to know where he is, what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with.  Similarly, I want to know where my food is coming from and who is producing it, but is it realistic to expect this from supermarket staples?

Surprisingly, the answer is YES.  The milk we used for our Sunday breakfast this week came from a single organic farm located in Manawatu, farmed by the Flipp family.  Four generations live and work on the farm along with their 600 cows and I didn’t have to drive 6.5 hrs to the farm gate to pick it up! 

Kapiti Single Farm Organic Milk was in the chiller, at my local New World 5 minutes from my house.

Mindful family routines and meals begin with mindful shopping – grocery or otherwise.  Investing in a product that is the end result of the Flipp Family’s 3-year journey to achieve organic certification is definitely a brand story that I’m happy to have at my table every day.

For this post, I partnered with Kapiti Single Farm Organic Milk which is now available from Supermarkets nationwide.

  • 1.25L Homogenised/non-homogenised RRP $5.49
  • 750ml Homogenised/non-homogenised RRP $3.50

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Organic Milk

 

Crock-Pot Poached Pears Recipe

This could be my most favourite recipe EVER posted on The Best Nest Blog.  I probably need to make it again, over, maybe, seven consecutive nights (I love it THAT much), just to be sure, but we’ve definitely got a hands down stunner here!

And it’s probably the easiest dessert ever.

The very best part is that your Crock-Pot does all the hard work so you can get other things rolling; maybe relax (I jest!), hang out with your dinner guests (or fold the laundry, feed the dogs, cook the fish fingers for the kids)…………whatevs, just chuck the foodie stuff in the Crock-Pot and four hours later you’re a Masterchef.

Let’s get into it;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Crock-Pot Poached Pears Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Ingredients

4-6 pears, I used Beurre Bosc

¾ Bottle of red wine – I used a Merlot and it was beautiful

1 cup of water

1 slice of lemon peel

Juice of one lemon

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp sugar (approx 50gm), + 2 tsp for syrup

1 Cinnamon quill

3 Cloves

3 Black Peppercorns

1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract

3 tsp cornflour

Blue cheese, walnuts and crackers to serve.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

  • Combine wine, water, lemon peel, honey, sugar, cinnamon quill, cloves, peppercorns and vanilla in the Crock-Pot.  Cook on high for 30 minutes.  
  • Peel pears and cut a slice off the bottom so they can stand upright.
  • Coat in lemon juice
  • Lay pears down in Crock-Pot so they are covered, or if you’d like a red and white stripe, stand them upright.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • Remove 1 cup of liquid from Crock-Pot.  Bring to the boil in small saucepan, add 2 tsp of sugar and cornflour dissolved in water.  Simmer until syrup reduces and thickens.
  • Serve with rich, blue cheese, walnuts and water crackers.
  • Pour wine syrup over pears and enjoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Win a Crock-Pot® Crock-Pot Traditional – CHP200 worth $119.99!

If you want to get inventive in the kitchen with your own amazing Crock-Pot then you’re in luck as I’m giving one away – actually I’ve already given TWO away, so this is your last chance to win!  (Crock-Pot Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe here, Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe with Dukkah Chicken)

> To win the Crock-Pot® Traditional – CHP200, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 6/7/17, NZ residents only.

Thanks to Crock-Pot for making this post possible.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

Is Macaroni Cheese the unofficial king of comfort food? The champion of family-friendly, fill-you-up deliciousness?  

Absolutely. There are few challengers who would take on the magical combination of cheese and pasta, plus, throw in some bacon and there’s just no contest.

Made in the traditional way, Macaroni Cheese can be a multi-pot explosion of dishwashing.  One pot to make the cheese sauce, one to boil your pasta, the colander to drain it and the baking dish to throw it all together in (from which you can expect to still be scrubbing burnt cheese off 3 days later).

Move on from the sink and get creative with this easy-peasy Crock-Pot recipe for Macaroni Cheese.  It’s a total 1-pot winner in which you add the ingredients and get on with your day……..for 2.5 hours at least!

This recipe makes a pretty jumbo sized batch, so get ready for a cook-once-eat-twice meal – I love it when this happens!

Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

For the Macaroni Cheese;

1 x 500g bag of macaroni elbows

50gm butter

3 ½ cups hot milk

1 small onion finely chopped

300gm chopped bacon

½ tsp paprika

1 ½ cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 pack of Tatua cheese sauce

For the Dukkah Chicken;

Diced chicken thighs/breast as much as needed for your family

1tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tsp olive oil

Pepper & Me The Mother Dukkah to coat the chicken

Method

Combine all ingredients for Macaroni Cheese in your Crock-Pot.

Stir well.

Cook on high for 2.5 hours.

Dice chicken.

Toss in Worcestershire/soy sauce.  Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Add oil and chicken to pan, shake over The Mother Dukkah to coat and cook until chicken is ready.

Serve with some fresh chopped red capsicum and enjoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Win a Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450 worth $159.99!

If you want to get inventive in the kitchen with your own amazing Crock-Pot then you’re in luck as I’m giving one away – actually I’m giving THREE away, so keep you eyes peeled for two more posts in my Crock-Pot series and two more chances to win!  (First post here)

Thanks to Crock-Pot for making this post possible.

> To win the Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this innovative Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 11/6/17, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker Macaroni Cheese Recipe

The Best One Pan Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Best Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Forget everything you thought you knew about Macaroni Cheese.  This is the easiest, quickest, most delicious Macaroni recipe you will ever make.  One pan.  One step.  Forget about boiling pasta, making a sauce, draining the pasta, combining the ingredients, baking……………this is too easy! Dave and I whipped this up in 20 minutes, seriously.
Press play to watch the 1 min video and check out the recipe below.

Enjoy!

The Best One Pan Macaroni Cheese Recipe
Print

Ingredients
  1. 1 x 500gm bag macaroni elbows
  2. 4 cups chicken stock
  3. 1/2 cup warm water (if needed)
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, chopped
  6. 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  7. 1.5 cups grated cheddar or mild cheese
  8. 2-3 slices of cooked bacon
  9. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in the pan you intend to use for the macaroni. Remove bacon from pan, add chopped onions and garlic. Sautee in bacon grease until soft.
  2. Return chopped bacon to pan.
  3. Add macaroni elbows. Stir to combine.
  4. Add chicken stock. Stir to combine.
  5. Place lid on pan. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes until stock has reduced (not completely) and pasta is cooked but still firm.
  6. Add cheeses, stir to combine. Add additional water at this time if you need more liquid to form the cheese sauce.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Garnish with chives and serve.
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