Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Roasted Vegetable and Rocket Salad

This Salad looks and tastes amazing. It is great on it’s own for a special lunch or as an accompaniment with roasted or bbq meat for dinner.

(Tsp=tablespoon/ tsp = teaspoon)

4 large zucchini chopped
1.5 kg butternut pumpkin chopped
1 red capsicum chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tsp brown sugar
½ cup olive oil
400g green beans
2 bunches rocket

2Tsp olive oil
2 Tsp balsamic vinegar Combine these ingredients and serve over salad
1 Tsp honey
pinch of salt


Combine the brown sugar, cumin and olive oil in a bowl.
Toss the chopped vegetables in mixture.
Arrange veggies on baking tray and bake @ 200-220 C for 30-40 minute or until cooked
Meanwhile steam the beans.
Arrange rocket in serving dish and top with vegies.
Pour over dressing and serve

Relax with a glass of wine, savor the sunset, if you have children allow their voices to warm your heart, and simply enjoy this simple yet gorgeous salad.

Annie xoxo

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One of our ALL TIME favorites.... Hainan Chicken Rice with Veggies

Okay here is a recipe that is a Sohn family favorite. It also proves to be VERY popular with pretty much anyone I have had the pleasure of serving it to.

I must warn you it may sound 'all that' but it's really easy, SUPER healthy and so, so, so good.


4 Organic Chicken breasts cut into stripes - the stripes should look similar to your index finger (if you can't get Organic just buy what you would normally buy)
3 cups Chicken Stock
2 cloves chopped Garlic
Green Onions/Shallots
Olive Oil

Approx 10 Green onion or shallots (whatever you choose to call them)finely chopped and placed in a bowl.
1 good sized knob of ginger peeled and grated and mixed with onion.
1-1.5 cups Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Set aside in individual sauce dishes or in one dish for the table with a spoon for distribution.

Place chicken in chicken stock and let it poach slowly (you want to make sure you don't dry the chicken out).
Once Chicken is poached place it on a serving plate - if you want to dress the meal up serve it on a bed of lettuce.
Reserve the stock and give each person a bowl of soup (the's so yummy).

The Rice: Cook your rice in Chicken Stock as well (follow your usual rice cooking directions and just use broth instead of plain water).

The Veggies: I use Chinese baby Bok Choy and simply fry it in a little olive oil a lot of garlic (we're a garlic family - don't be scared it's really good for your health and if everyone eats it no one can tell anyone has the dreaded...'garlic breath'). If you don't want to use Bok Choy or your unfamiliar with it then broccoli will do the trick. Just try and stick with something green and something with a nice flavour because the other side of the meal is very easy on the palate.

To Serve:

I put a big platter of Chicken and Veggies in the middle of the table, a platter with the rice and I use Asian dishes simply because I have them on hand. With the Asian dishes everyone gets a bowl of rice, a small plate, an individual sauce dish and a soup bowl plus of course their chop sticks.
If I serve this Western style I put the platter of Chicken and Veggies in the middle I have a nice bowl of sauce with a serving spoon and a platter of rice with serving spoon.

Either way, this meal is absolutely delicious and here's a hint....the sauce tastes even better the next day. This is a perfect meal for a hot summer day because it can be served cold, it's equally as nice on a cold night because the soup warms the soul!

Grocery List:

4 Organic Chicken breasts
Chicken Stock
Green Onions/Shallots
Olive Oil
Baby Bok Choy or Broccoli

I hope you like this as much as we do. Just a hint, keep tasting your sauce whilst your making it, you want it to taste like onion with the ginger coming through. The salt will bring them together nicely. It's kind of a 'taste and see recipe' - till you get it just the way you like it.


Susan xoxo

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Simple Meal Idea for those Hot Summer Nights

The other day Oprah talked about ‘the time’ when she decided to ‘do it all’... the cooking, cleaning, looking after her dogs etc., after a few days or so, she gave up, deciding it was all too hard. She then added “I don’t know how ya all do it; coming up with a different meal every night!” Soon after this confession, Oprah went back to being fed by her army of gourmet chef’s … lucky Oprah! For me though, I’m one of the ‘ya all’ – so I’ll continue to come up with dinner ideas.

Last night, I tried a new simple recipe for hamburgers. An easy meal, that includes salad (so it’s healthy) and it’s great for those hot nights when you can’t be bothered cooking.

The great thing about these burgers is that by adding the blue cheese dressing, the burger becomes a little more gourmet (add some garnish and a glass of wine and you have a simple, yet sophisticated meal).

500g of lean mince
Small onion
3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of mustard
4 teaspoons of egg mayonnaise
100g of blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Blend together mince, parsley, onion, egg yolks, salt and ground pepper. Shape mixture into burger sized patties. Spray a non-stick pan with oil. Cook burgers until browned and cooked through.

Mix together mustard and mayonnaise and then fold through cheese. Serve the burger with lettuce, sliced onions, tomato, beetroot and whatever else takes your fancy.

For adults and older children add the blue cheese sauce, for the little people, add tomato sauce and a little whole egg mayo.

Fun Family Tip:
Turn your kitchen into a hamburger joint with all members of the family making their own burgers – then set up a judging panel. The biggest or spiciest burger wins the award. The younger ones get bonus points for actually eating it!

Grocery List:

500g lean mince (this can be beef or chicken if you prefer)
1 Onion
Mustard (can be prepared or dry mustard)
Egg Mayonnaise
100g Blue Cheese
Hamburger Buns
Lettuce – for a crisp salad and on the burger

Enjoy and remember to have fun!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Recipe from Annie - you'll love this one!

I love soup, it’s hearty, comforting, economical and healthy. My family loves this recipe. I generally serve it with garlic bread.

1Tsp olive oil
1 Tsp grated ginger
1 onion chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 kg carrots washed and chopped
4 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup red lentils washed
½ cup coconut cream

Place oil in large saucepan over medium heat
Saute onion and ginger for two minutes
Add cumin, carrots and lentils and chicken stock
Place lid on saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes
Blend using stab blender and stir through coconut cream

2 french sticks
30g softened butter
2 Tsp oil
pinch of salt

Combine and spread on to bread. Wrap in foil and bake @ 180 degrees for 20 minutes

Grocery List:

1 Small knob of Ginger
1 Onion
Ground Cumin (if you don't have already)
1 kg Carrots
Chicken stock
Red Lentils
1 can Coconut Cream
2 French Bread Sticks

Enjoy! This will become a family favorite and it's a great way to get some vegetables into everyone.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Dining Table Recipe #1 - Shepherd's Pie

Here is our first (of many) Tried and True recipes that will make your make your Dining Table Experiences a HIT! Every recipe that we put together and provide for you are what we, at thefamilyroom, like to call 'Tried and True'. Most are recipes that have come down through our family trees plus new ones that we know work. All recipes have been given thefamilyroom tick of approval.

Not only are we providing you with a meal idea but we will give you a grocery list and ideas that can accompany your meal really well. This is all done in an effort to make life that little bit easier for you - all you have to do is copy, paste and print. So, at the end (or in the midst) of a busy day, jump on thefamilyroom blog spot scroll down on the right hand side and look for our Recipes, Meal Ideas and Grocery Lists section. Simply click on whatever tickles your tastebuds at the moment and GO FOR IT! Why not share this spot with your friends and help make their days a little easier as well.....

Shepherd's Pie:
This comes from my mum (so you know it’s good!). It is a family favourite and it’s a great way to use up leftover lamb, roast beef or if you’re from my family venison. It can be doubled or tripled easily depending on how many you are cooking for.

One of the great things about this meal is that you will most likely have all the ingredients in your home. It’s a simple, low maintenance, high satisfaction meal idea.

2 cups cold cooked lamb or beef (or you can buy and pre cook). You can also used mince beef in this recipe.
2 cups vegetables (chopped carrots and peas or use frozen veggies)
1 large onion chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
½ - 1 cup left over gravy (below is a quick and easy recipe for gravy if you don’t have left over)
2 TBSP Tomato Paste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Potatoes, cooked and mashed. Make sure you have enough to put an inch cover on the top of the mixture.

In a fry pan add 1TBSP of olive oil, sauté onions and garlic. Add gravy, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce vegetables, meat and salt and pepper (to taste).

Heat the oven to 400F (200C). Grease a 1 1/2 - 2 quart baking dish or casserole.

Place the mixture in the casserole dish and cover with the mashed potatoes, forming peaks and valleys, as you would do with a meringue.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown. It takes about 20-30 minutes.

Simple Gravy Recipe
In a jar with a lid put 1/2 cup of beef or chicken stock. Sprinkle 2TBSP. flour over the broth. Cover the jar and shake until the flour is blended into the stock. Pour it into a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Stir in more stock to make medium-thick gravy. Taste and add a ½ cup of beef consume until it reaches the flavour you desire.

Serve this meal with a simple crisp green salad!

Grocery List:
Beef or lamb pieces (if you don’t have left overs)
Carrots/Peas or frozen veggies
Tomato Paste
Lettuce for salad

Enjoy and remember to laugh lots and take mental photos of everyone around the table, these are the moments you will remember forever.

Susan xoxo

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back to the Dining Table - Part Two

I hope you enjoyed our first part of ‘Back to the Dining Table’.

Today I want to give you a few suggestions when it comes to the babies/toddlers in your family, teenagers, adult children, fussy eaters, the clean up (yikes!!!) and that ever disappointing news……"Honey, I won’t be home for dinner, start without me”.

Let’s get right into it – below are some very helpful hints that WILL make a difference in your home as you begin to establish your dining table as the central nervous system.

The babies/toddlers – we have a 20 month old and she is a huge part of our family. She is at dinner with us, her highchair is pulled up to the table. Part of our dinner enjoyment is watching how much food ends up in her mouth and/or on her head. There have, of course, been a few nights when dinner was pushed back (for whatever reason) and tiredness hit our beautiful baby. When this happens, a nice bowl of porridge and tucked into bed is the best solution. This however is the exception; the rule is dinner with the family.

The fussy eater - this is a hard one because it can be frustrating however I want to remind you to stick to making one meal for the family. Do this unless of course there are medical reasons for doing otherwise. You must remember you aren’t running a canteen - this is your home. Find out what your children like, work around that and add a few new things once a week or once a month. Remind the little ones that their tastebuds renew themselves every 7 to 10 days (bet you didn’t know that….).

The teens - let them have a go at preparing dinner one night. Let them choose the menu; you become their kitchen hand and have fun. I promise you’ll be surprised at what the night will look like. Conversation will naturally flow during the prep and enjoying the meal together. This also gives them a glimpse of exactly what you do to keep their growing tummies satisfied :)

The adult children – if you have adult children who are busy working take a moment and email them during the day and remind them how much you’re looking forward to seeing them in ‘their spot’ at the family table. Think about asking them if there is something special they'd like for dinner or a nice bottle of wine, perhaps they'd like to bring someone for a 'home cooked' meal.

The clean up - give everyone a chore to do and before you know it dinner dishes are done, the kitchen is tidy and everyone is that little bit closer.

The call – Here’s a tip for the long days when hubby/partner calls and he/she is working late. Turn a possibly frustrating situation into something great and have a candle light dinner with your children……they will love it and so will you. It's amazing how candle light can even make baked beans feel special.

Finally, remember that the dining/kitchen table is not simply wood and varnish rather it is a place where much is learned, manners are taught and life’s lessons are heard and seen.

Love each other and enjoy every minute even when it gets hard. Remember to smile through everything because the world looks better through smiling eyes. Tomorrow jump on and get some of our great meal ideas and grocery lists.

Susan xoxo

Monday, January 22, 2007

Back to the Dining Table (this may look a little long but keep's great!)

I have a quick question for you today…..

What is your dining table used for?
Is it he stacking ground, the laundry table, the homework table or, is it doing what it’s designed to do…. host countless dinners, surrounded by laughter (at times tears), a place for conversation and relationships to strengthen. Is the dining table the central nervous system of your family?

You see we live in a climate of busyness, everyone is busy, schedules are jammed packed, and families are coming and going. We are so busy that we don’t even get time to sit and relax. Time seems to be moving at an all time high speed, days are turning into weeks, weeks in to months and months into years.

My friends today I want to encourage you to use your dining table to it’s full potential. If you haven’t enjoyed a meal together at the family table for awhile I encourage you to dust off the table, let everyone know that dinner is at 6pm, prepare a family favourite and watch everyone enjoy each others company - you will be amazed. If this is something you do regularly keep it up and why not invite someone over and share the time together. Enjoy!

thefamilyroom top tips for the dining table:

1. Clean off the table. If it’s been used as the ‘dumping ground’ grab 1 basket/box for each person in the family and distribute everything accordingly. Give everyone 1 week to put their stuff away and if it’s not done in that time let them know that it will go in the bin.
2. Choose a night to begin your evening meals and let everyone know (make sure you check everyone’s schedules) so they can all join.
3. Decide on your menu – don’t go over board make a family favourite and keep it simple.
4. Present the food well don’t just pop a pot on the table, put some effort in (but don’t go over board). This simple act lets everyone know you care.
5. Turn the home phone, mobile phone, TV and computers OFF!
6. Bless your meal – we all hold hands whilst we give thanks.
7. Ask everyone at the table what the best thing that happened in their day was.
8. Tell a joke
9. DON’T RUSH – this is one time in the day when you’re able to come together and calm down and get to know each other better
10. Laugh lots and repeat the next night or what works with your family.

I can’t encourage this enough. Family meal times are worth fighting for,
worth organising schedules to make it work. Studies prove that families who eat together around the table (not in front of the TV or the computer) are healthier, stronger families.

Tomorrow I will post thoughts and tips for the babies/toddlers in the family, teenagers, adult children, fussy eaters, the clean up and that ever disappointing news…..I won’t be home for dinner, start without me. And, following that our ever popular familyroom meal ideas and grocery list!!!!!

You can do this……and, as always, remember to smile because everything looks better through smiling eyes.

Susan xoxo

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rise and Shine!

We are all familiar with this great morning welcome, "Rise and Shine".
To me it encapsulates what life is all about. We need to remember to start the day determined to rise above the daily challenges we encounter (with a little help from our friends at thefamilyroom!).

Life isn’t just about getting by or making it through. Life is about finishing each and every day knowing that you shone. Did you know that we can shine for a neighbours by inviting them in for a coffee, by simply smiling at a stranger we shine or by doing something extraordinary for our family.

We all have amazing potential to impact those around us for the better. I want to encourage you today, as you throw back the covers each and every morning, Rise and Shine friends and trust me, you won’t be disappointed!


Saturday, January 20, 2007

FOUR Words that change lives....forever!

Recently I have had a few things on my mind that I thought I would like to share with everyone and one of them I just couldn’t shake…….so instead of ignoring it I thought I would take a step and share it with everyone. I hope you enjoy.

I want to share, with you, four of the strongest words I know. Four words I believe can and will make a difference in the life you are currently living.

These words hold incredible power and the ability to verbalise them is life impacting. Not only are these words powerful when spoken but unspoken they seem to obtain the same amount of power. These four words have the ability to soften the hardest of hearts and situations however at times they seem to be the hardest words for all of us to get out…..

Without keeping you in any more suspense allow me to tell you what the words are. The first two words of the four is THANK YOU! It’s amazing how something a simple as thank you can change everything. A thank you can diffuse an argument, it can ease a load, and it can warm a heart. Thank you has the ability to make the impossible seem possible regardless of the situation or circumstance.

The other two words are just as easy and hold just as much weight and they are I’M SORRY! I am continually amazed at how an I’m sorry can heal a wound, can change an atmosphere, can mend a relationship and can heal a broken heart plus do so much more in just two, very simple yet extremely challenging words.

As you read this I know you understand what I’m saying. I know most of you (much like myself) are thinking how you need to say these words more often whether it be to our children, our partner, our parents, our siblings or our friends. It’s interesting how these four words require each one of us to be bigger people both on the inside and the outside. You see, in order to say these powerful, life-changing words you have to resolve that firstly, you will soften and that you will be the one who initiates the pending reconciliation and/or change.

Friends, I encourage each on of you to increase these words in your vocabulary and watch the world around you change. Use them at home, at the local park, in the supermarket, in the car park or on the roads (now that’s a challenge for some). Use them with your teenagers, your little ones, use them with your partner and see your relationship grow. Change may take time but it starts the moment you step out with a grateful and honest heart.

I believe in you and know that the future of your family will be stronger simply because you took the time to read this little thought.

As always, remember that the world (and every situation) looks better through smiling eyes.

Take care and love each other more today than ever before!!!!!!

Susan xoxo

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pantry Make-Over

When the team from the family Room arrived to give my pantry a makeover, I was a little cynical. You see, I had lived with my messy pantry for the past three years. It didn’t bother me that much. My pantry, like my toenails got little attention. And believe it or not, I did have a system: chuck it all in and hope you can find it the next day.

Armed with black t-shirts, pink rubber gloves and a little bottle of disinfectant, the girls from thefamilyroom set to work clearing the old, to make way for the new. In the process, a few pantry moths and weavels were evicted from their homes.

To my disbelief, and disgust, I had things growing in my pantry. Cobwebs, mould, spiders and weavels, mixed with the occasional rat pooh pellet. I even had herbs dating back to 1986 and an old ice-cream bucket still containing the original spoons.

Each time the girls made a gruesome discovery in my pantry, they’d shriek in horror, capturing each horrible and at times, embarrassing moment on video (to be played at the next familyroom LIVE event).

We are not a dirty family, in fact, we live in a nice home and on the surface everything looks fine – except for those hidden places, accommodating that accumulated mess.

I guess the reason for my cluttered, out of date, moth ridden pantry was simple: it was a big job and perhaps too overwhelming. Besides, I made sure the doors were closed, when anyone came to visit.

Today, the doors are open for all to see.
My pantry is clean, tidy, minimalist, ordered and everything is in its place.

Personally, I feel more in control of my life. My pantry won’t solve world poverty, but it will help to bring some order and peace in my sometimes chaotic world. As of today, I have also overhauled my fridge, laundry and spare room. I feel great!

My advice to you: If you feel overwhelmed and ‘out of control’ – check your panty. It might just need a make-over.

By Nicky Partridge
Although I’m too embarrassed to admit that it’s me!

Note: You can see Nicky’s pantry make-over on the big screens at the next Family Room Live Event.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hello from the USA......

Yes, I am writing this from my hotel room in San Diego. My lovely hubby is here working and so the children and I are with him and we are having a great time. We are however missing the Aussie sun, endless summer bbq’s, a simple wardrobe of thongs and something light thrown on, sunscreen and of course our incredible friends….we’ll be home soon and we’ll have a lot of ‘making up to do’.

I thought I would take a moment and update the blog. We’ve relaxed a little over the holiday, giving everyone a much needed break however we are back on track now, full of vision, thoughts, dreams and excellent ideas, tips and great strategies that will help your family live the strong, confident lives we all desire.

So friends my thought for today is YOU CAN DO IT! I want to remind you that we (thefamilyroom) totally believe in you and know that the family life you dream about is right ahead of you. I would like to encourage you to write down a few thoughts and hopes that you have for your family this year and over the next few weeks begin to think about how you can make these thoughts and hopes a reality.

For those of you who know me you know that I like to live by lists and I’m constantly writing things down. I do this simply because it keeps me on track and gives me ‘breathing space or thinking space’. This much needed space allows gives me the opportunity to make a plan and stick to it. When I do this I am continually amazed at the things I/we are able to achieve. So go ahead, make your list and be amazed when you discover that you have also achieved great things – through this your confidence as a parent, partner, friend (whatever your place in life is right now) will increase and you will find yourself standing tall both on the outside and the inside.

Enough for now I think! I love you all, totally believe in you and hope that you enjoy everything we place on this spot for you.

Susan xoxo

Ps – remember everything looks better through smiling eyes so SMILE friend…..

Monday, January 08, 2007

To family

Hello everyone and happy new year to you all! I hope you have had a great start to the year and my prayer is that the days, weeks and months ahead will exceed all your expectations.

I personally have had a great start to the year - a start that I know will benefit not only myself and family but thefamilyroom as well........ I have had the opportunity to start the year relaxing with my parents and children. As some of you know we reside in Sydney, Australia and my parents live in Canada however this Christmas brought us to the US and my parents were able to come across and be with us. Actually not only my parents but my sister and her family as well, which for me is like medicine to my soul!

I love spending time with my family - it is like being cradled in the arms of your father (some of you may know that feeling when you were a little child and you pretended to fall asleep in the back of the car just so your mum or dad would carry you in - that's the feeling I'm talking about). Through thefamilyroom I hope that we all will endeavour to build strong families that become safe places for those in our care, for those in our world and for ourselves.

Be happy, be strong and be committed to one another. Remember to laugh lots because everything looks better through smiling eyes!

Take care my friends and stay connected through this spot. Make sure you make comments and keep the conversation going.

Have the best day!

Susan xoxo

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Annie's Holiday Diary

Hi Family Room Friends.

Don't you just love Christmas Holiday time?
Ours started with a relaxing family camping holiday on the NSW north coast. We packed our station wagon to groaning capacity, borrowed an e-bay exclusive tent from friends and were off.

All was going swimmingly, perfect weather, nothing but the great outdoors to distract our three children and a host of grey nomads to get acquainted with. The bargain tent had not come with instruction but that did not hinder my husband, he erected it as if he had designed the thing. It looked like a tent and we all fitted in! Unfortunately freak gale force winds pounded the tent for two days. The bargain broke. With the help of our neighbourly eighty year olds we regrouped and moved to another part of the camping ground in the hope of less wind. As it happens a queen bee had the same idea and set up nest in the tree adjacent to our tent.

The children are now quite intimate with the social infrastructure of a newly located bee hive. In between we managed
games of Monopoly, our eldest son learnt to body surf, my husband read Charles Dickens to us at twilight. We learnt to appreciate the simple things, waking up to the birds, cimbing under a soft sleeping bag in complete darkness, the sound of our children playing, watching pelicans fish for their supper.,sausages for breakfast and cereal for dinner. It was fun.

Our final disaster occurred on the trip home, our car turned up its toes at a petrol station. We caused quite a line up and I apologise to anyone in the vicinity of Bulladellah at the time.

So, Susan often encourages us that there is a blessing and a lesson in many of our experiences. She's right! We now have our very own 8 man tent (with instructions) a fully screened shade house and a new car. Best of all we have learnt to laugh in the most ridiculous of situations and keep them as memories for life.


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