We are well into the last month of circuit breaker, and while staying at home has had its own challenges, we’re looking forward to stepping into better days as our world starts to recover. That being said, if you’ve done all there is you’ve wanted to do at home, and need a little more inspiration to help get you through this last lap here are some ideas and activities the V&VPR team have put together to help you survive – and even enjoy – the remaining weeks of lockdown.
Keep Positive by Practicing Gratitude
Need some perking up to help you stay afloat in all this gloom and doom? Spend some time focusing on the things you know you’re grateful for. As mentioned in our previous blogpost on Wellness in the time of Coronavirus, practicing gratitude is an amazing way to overcome feelings of anxiety and helplessness in this current climate. Keep a journal and write down three things you’re grateful for every day, or even take it one step further and write gratitude letters for friends and loved ones that you appreciate which you can send via snail mail to make their day.
Declutter Your Home
There’s no better time to reorganize that mess in your house you’ve been putting off for a while now. Whether it’s that dusty old guest bedroom you need to clear or the mountain of items you haven’t used in more than two years – now is the perfect time to declutter. Do you really still need ten different coffee mugs or that old skirt you’ve been keeping since your university days? If it doesn’t spark joy, toss it out! Maintaining a tidy home can turn it into a sanctuary that will make rest and relaxation a breeze whilst also giving you more time, space and energy to focus on other priorities.
Learn How to Prep Healthy Meals
Once the circuit breaker is over, one of the most important skills you can step away with is learning how to throw together healthy, nutritious meals to help you support a healthy immune system. If you don’t usually cook, the next few weeks is the best time to pick up your pots and pans and get cracking in the kitchen. Check out these 3-ingredient recipes from Shape magazine, ranging from Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon to Quickie Crab Cakes that you can whip up in a heartbeat – these are great to take along to work as well when it’s time to head back to the office.
Sweat it Out
If you’re feeling restless from staying indoors or looking to tone up and get some ab definition for when pools and beaches are back open, consider taking on fitness challenges or virtual workout sessions that you can carry out from indoors. For beginners, check out Chloe Ting’s trending 2 Week Shred Challenge ranging from just 10 to 40 minute workouts a day – it’s absolutely free, and all you need is a fitness mat to help you get closer to your goals. Take it up a notch with Kayla Itsines famous 12 week Bikini Body Challenge which you can find on her SWEAT app, boasting affordable subscriptions starting from just $0.33 USD a day.
Also consider supporting local businesses by joining in on their virtual fitness classes, so you can do your part to help the economy whilst staying at home! We recommend signing up for F45’s 45 Day Challenge where you’ll have access to daily 45 minute workouts; UFIT’s daily live 30-minute long virtual classes with programmes ranging from Stretch, Pilates, Build and Burn; and WeBarre’s enjoyable hour-long classes that range from $12/class or $35/week.
Explore the World from Your Armchair
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you’re completely cut off from the wonders of travel. With the help of today’s technology, there are plenty of ways to see the world that are available at just the touch of a button. Take part in amazing virtual experiences offered by some of the world’s top hotels, resorts and destinations such as Singita’s virtual game drives where you can get up close with some of Africa’s incredible wildlife; the Sydney Opera House’s digital initiative – From Our House To Yours, featuring full-length performances and talks; and Capella Ubud’s Jamu-making tutorial video based on the all-natural, anti-inflammatory juice that has been a known tonic in Indonesia for centuries.
Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
Finally, make the best of the time you have with friends and family. Whether you’re cooped in the same house, or miles and miles apart, an opportunity for quality time like this is unlikely to come by again soon. Binge an entire series on Netflix together, take part in quizzes and virtual games, solve a 1,000-piece puzzle – the possibilities are endless. Need a few games to get you started? Create your own quiz to play with loved ones on Kahoot!; check out Skribblio – our favourite multiplayer drawing and guessing game or get whisked away to stunning NSW landscapes and adorable wildlife with these virtual jigsaw puzzles.
For more inspiration to get you through this circuit breaker, check out the rest of our blog here.
On days where nothing seems sure, there’s nothing better than stepping into your kitchen and whipping up your favourite comfort food knowing with absolute certainty that you won’t be disappointed.
We’ve gathered top no-fail recipes from each of the V&VPR team members to provide you with cooking inspiration that will warm your spirit.
Charissa’s Pick: One Bowl Chocolate Cake
“Who doesn’t like chocolate?” – Charissa
This simple chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen is fuss-free and takes less than an hour and a half to make.
- 1/2 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (190 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (60 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- Heat your oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a standard loaf pan. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan.
- Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if you’re feeling fancy.
Olivia’s Pick: Shrimp Saganaki
“It’s super easy to make but makes me feel like I’m on vacation when I eat it!” – Olivia
This savoury dish is so good, it’ll be on your mind for days after. Follow Olivia’s mouthwatering recipe for Shrimp Saganaki here:
- 300g raw king prawns (ideally with the heads & tails on)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tin tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 handful fresh dill
- 1 glass of white wine
- 1 handful of feta cheese
- Chili flakes, dried oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil
- Warm a frying pan on a medium heat, add oil and crush the garlic into the pan
- Once the garlic has started to brown slightly, throw in the prawns, chilli flakes, oregano, salt and pepper
- Once the prawns have turned pink and just start to curl, take them out and place to one side
- Add a glass of wine to the pan and simmer away
- Throw in all of the cherry tomatoes, leave to reduce for 1-2 mins and then add the tinned tomatoes
- Stir and leave to cook for a couple of minutes
- Tear up the dill and add to the pan
- By the time the cherry toms are soft and cooked, the whole thing should be ready
- Pop your prawns back into the mix and stir around
- Crumble over the feta cheese and serve
Samantha’s Pick: Basque Burnt Cheesecake
“My motto this circuit breaker is Keep Calm & Have Cake. This cheesecake is so light and fluffy, it goes perfectly with a good cup of coffee to perk you up in the morning.” – Samantha
Butter Milk Pantry’s recipe for Basque Burnt Cheesecake is quick and easy and will leave your house smelling like a bakery.
- 430g cream cheese, room temperature
- 120g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 270g heavy cream
- 20g cake flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Line 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.
- Beat sugar and cream cheese together on medium until smooth and you can’t feel the sugar granules any longer. Scrape the bowl.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium until smooth. Scrape the bowl again to ensure that nothing sticks to the sides for even mixing.
- Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just mixed.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour and cream until smooth.
- Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture whilst the mixer is beating on low until mixed through. Increase speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds just to ensure it’s all combined.
- Bake at 240C for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give the pan a jiggle.
- Let cool in the tin fully on a wire rack to allow the cheesecake to set.
- Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.
Rosie’s Pick: Tomato Curry
“This is my comfort food, as I know the recipe off by heart. I don’t have to think when I’m throwing it together and it’s pretty quick to make – great after a long day. I love the mixture of tomatoes and veggies and how wholesome and warming it is.” – Rosie
A good bowl of curry is like medicine to the soul. Rosie’s tomato curry recipe an amazing pick-me-up to have any time of the week.
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped/crushed
- 750g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 2 handful’s spinach, washed
- ¼ cup of red lentils
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- Dash of chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- Fry onion and garlic together in a pan until translucent
- Add in cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes and stir
- Add in 1 cup of water and red lentils
- Add in chilli powder, chilli flakes and turmeric powder
- Stir well and leave to simmer for approximately 10 mins, stirring from time to time
- Add in spinach and season
- Take off heat when lentils are fully cooked through and serve with brown rice
Tiffany’s Pick: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze
“I have regular cravings for any baked goods that feature cinnamon and this recipe might just be my favourite one. It uses the natural sweetness of sweet potato to get that delicious syrupy flavour, making it less guilty than most cinnamon bun recipes. The process of kneading the dough is also incredibly therapeutic – almost as good as eating the end product!” – Tiffany
Pillowy-soft cinnamon buns are just a short bake away with this recipe by Samantha Seneviratne from Food52.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for bowl and skillet
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup roasted and puréed sweet potato flesh (from 1 potato)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, if necessary
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pepita filling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 ounces pepitas (2/3 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
- Prepare the dough: In a small pot, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pot to melt. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool to 110° to 115°F. (It should be warm to the touch, but not too hot.) Add the egg and sweet potato purée and stir to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine the flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm milk mixture and mix just until incorporated.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed (or knead with your hands) until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a buttered bowl, cover it, and leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
- Prepare the cinnamon filling: Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and mash to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Prepare the pepita filling: Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pepitas and salt and cook until lightly browned and popping, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar has melted and coated the pepitas, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and let cool.
- Butter the cast-iron pan. Tip out the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 12 x 11–inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the surface. Break up the sugared pepitas into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the cinnamon filling. Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the top seam closed. With a serrated knife, cut the roll crosswise into 10 equal pieces. Set them in the pan, spirals facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest until the dough has almost doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown and puffed and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 185° to 190°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Cook the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the freezer until cool and just beginning to solidify.
- Beat the chilled butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is exactly as thick as you like it.
- Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then top with glaze. Let cool slightly before serving.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of comfort food recipes. Check out the rest of our blog here for more ideas and inspiration to get you through quarantine.