Sunday, 29 April 2012

Skinny Pasta Cabonara

There is one thing I am really bad at.

Drinking water.

I know it is pretty much the number one rule for living a healthy life, but I am terrible at drinking water. Actually, to be honest, I rarely drink it at all. I know this is bad for me.

I realised this when I donated blood earlier this year and fainted. Now this probably wouldn’t have been a problem had I not been standing outside the theatre with friends, and subsequently fainted on the sidewalk, hitting my head, rather hardly, on the concrete.

And I know this should have made me drink more water but I haven’t been. I mostly notice it when I exercise; sometimes afterwards I feel a little lightheaded. Sometimes in summer when I stand up from a sitting position, I get dizzy, and apparently that's from not drinking enough water.

So what do you guys do? Any sneaky ways you get more water into your body? It's not like I drink juice or softdrink or anything else - if I'm eating I'll have water, and I feel thirsty I will drink it. Otherwise, I just can't do it. I feel too sick.

But onto much happier topics - here is a lovely recipe for pasta cabonara - low fat and beautiful. Trust me, scrimping on the cream does not mean scrimping on taste. The pasta is still thickly coated, the bacon still lovingly crisp and the onion adds subtle hints of flavour to the amazing dish. It is very easy, very simple, and best of all, very healthy. This is my go-to recipe when I get home unexpectedly late and want something a little more substantial than cereal, or if I know I will binge on cereal and other unhealthy treats, I will cook this to fill me up. It is very easy; I often throw the pasta in the saucepan, take a quick shower, chop up the bacon and onion, fry it quickly, and the dish is pretty much done. Just make sure to add the egg whites to the pasta when the pasta is hot - otherwise the egg whites will not stick to the pasta and while it will still taste fine, the pasta will not have that creamy texture of cabonara.

Level of Difficulty: Ridiculously easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: spaghetti, egg whites
Occasion: Dinner
Menu Options: Of course feel free to add any other pasta basics to this menu – prosciutto, mushrooms, olives, whatever you like. This is just a very basic recipe which is low in fat. Adding other ingredients will change the nutritional values.  

Serves 4 – though to be honest it could easily serve 6 people. Just make the amount of pasta you usually make for your family, adapt the bacon amount freely and if only serving two people, use 2 egg whites.

What you need:
-          500 g pasta – dried fettucine or penne is what I usually use, but you can use any. I actually haven’t tried this with wholewheat pasta yet, as I only bought my first wholewheat pasta the other day. However I’m sure the recipe is adaptable for those who don’t eat white flour.
-          100g rindless shortcut bacon. I buy Weight Watchers brand, so I know my bacon is high quality, but you can just buy regular, fatty bacon if you wish.
-          1 brown onion
-          3 egg whites
-          Parmesan cheese, to serve
-          Parsley, dried or fresh, to serve

What to do:
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water. Cook according to packet directions or until the pasta is tender. I like my pasta really soft, so it takes me around 20 – 30 minutes depending on how high the heat is.

While the pasta is cooking, spray a skillet with olive or vegetable oil. Dice the bacon and onion into small pieces. Add to the skillet and cook until both ingredients are golden.

Whisk the three egg whites together.

You must do the following step when the pasta is hot. Quickly take the cooked pasta from the stove and drain it, placing the pasta back into the saucepan. Coat the pasta with the egg whites while the pasta is hot, as soon as you can. Stir the egg whites into the pasta with a wooden spoon. The pasta will be slightly covered in the egg whites, and admittedly won’t look fantastic. Make sure all the pasta is covered.

Add the cooked onion and bacon and stir well.

Divide into four bowls, topping each dish with parmesan and parsley. If you prefer other herbs with your pasta, such as basil, add that. Serve while hot. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

ANZAC biscuits

So these are probably my favourite biscuits ever.

Other than cornflake biscuits, of course.

But ANZAC biscuits - something about the chewy coconut, dense golden syrup and slight oaty crunch makes my heart sing and tummy rumble.

And that word 'chewy' is a key word here. I don't do crunchy ANZAC biscuits. Hell, I don't really do crunchy biscuits. I'm not really a biscuit person in general, actually. I know, it's weird not to be a biscuit person. It is one sweet I can almost always pass up - except for chewy ANZAC biscuits.

Now those of you who like crunchy biscuits, as much as I disagree with you, you can still make these. With ANZAC biscuits, the more golden/maple syrup in them, the chewier they are. If you prefer a crunchy biscuit, reduce the golden syrup and increase the sugar. Cool trick, huh.

I'm afraid I can't tell you what to increase it to, but you can try it.

Also, I use the words 'biscuit' and 'cookie' interchangeably here. I say 'biscuit', never 'cookie', but as most the blogs I follow use the word 'cookie', I shall use it here too. But they're really called biscuits.

I made these on Tuesday for ANZAC day on Wednesday, and did have a few. They are absolutely amazing. Admittedly, my roomates haven't had any; they were busy eating the multiple brownie batches I was testing this week.

I haven't had a great few weeks eating wise. Therefore I am doing the 10 days of real food challenge from the 100 Days of Real Food blog. It's pretty much just cutting all processed foods out of my diet for 10 days, or for me, 2 weeks. No sugar, white flour, white rice, white pasta, etc. I eat clean most of the time anyway, though I do indludge in a few high sugar treats. This has become far too regular for my liking, so I am only allowing myself to eat real food, which includes treats. It also means cutting out some muesli bars, etc, which do include crazy numbers of ingredients. I am sticking to five ingredients per store bought item, with no sugar. So far, day one, I'm doing pretty well. I also made a deal with Mum that if I ate sugar I would have to walk up and down stairs all day and take no elevators, lifts, escalators, etc. I was supposed to start this yesterday, but ate sugar, so I only used the stairs today (try walking up six flights to your apartment with grocery shopping) and ate real good. I am eating some sweet stuff, but it is my sugarless, whole wheat banana bread (recipe soon) and treats from Chocolate Covered Katie such as the delicious Fudge Babies. In fact, they're the only treats I'm allowing myself. I just need to get myself off this sugar kick and back to eating fruit for sweet cravings.

So, these ANZAC biscuits were one of the last sweet things I had. Mind you, looking at the nutrition values, these aren't too bad for you. In fact, they are probably among the best biscuits out there.

Level of Difficulty: Easy – the easiest biscuits you will ever make
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: oats, maple syrup
Occasion: Snack, dessert. Obviously the perfect treat for ANZAC day for all Australians/New Zealanders out there.
Menu Options: You can replace the maple syrup with honey, but it won’t taste the same, and I think you would need to up the dosage by at least a tablespoon and add in salt. Otherwise, this is one of those simple recipes that shouldn’t be touched.

Makes 12 regular cookies or 24 mini ones. Calorie count based on 12 biscuits.

What you need:
-          125g butter
-          2 tbsp golden syrup / maple syrup
-          1 cup plain flour
-          1 cup rolled oats
-          1 cup desiccated coconut
-          1/3 cup caster sugar
-          1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
-          1 tbsp water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Heat a saucepan over low heat. Place butter and golden syrup in saucepan. Melt the ingredients together, stirring frequently. It is ready to be removed when the butter has melted.

While the syrup and butter melts, sift flour into a bowl and add the oats, coconut, and sugar, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to reject the syrup mixture though – you don’t want it to burn.

Combine the water and bicarbonate soda in a small bowl. Take the syrup mixture off the heat and add the bicarb mixture. It will froth up which is why the saucepan needs to be off the heat.

Once the bicarb mixture has been added to the syrup, pour the still hot syrup into the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Using a spoon or cookie scooper, scoop the mixture into balls. Roll the mixture into balls with your hands, and place them on a tray. Ensure the tray is either well oiled or covered in baking paper. This will make 12 regular sized cookies or 24 mini cookies. If you want mini ones, like mine, I scooped up approx a tbsp of cookie mixture.

Slightly flatten the balls with the back of your spoon. Make sure they are apart, at least 2cm, on the tray as they will spread slightly when cooking.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or as necessary, until the cookies are a lovely golden brown. Swap trays halfway if necessary. Baking at this temp will ensure the biscuits are chewy, not crunchy, which is how I like my ANZAC biscuits.

Allow to stand on the tray for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, or serve warm. Warm is best.

Have a lovely weekend everyone - it's Friday!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

WIAW - carb overload edition

Hello everyone - Happy Wednesday! I love Wednesday's now - it's so great to be involved in WIAW. So again, a big thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayon for hosting this blogger party.

I spent today writing two essays, doing a bit of exercise, and then, after dinner (a new recipe I made up which received rave reviews from the roomates) I was feeling a bit stressed, so I baked. When I get stressed I run and bake. As it was too dark to run, I baked. Brownies - the best ones so far actually. My recipe too, so I had a pretty good day in the kitchen.

So, these eats are from Monday - my last day with my Dad and grandparents. It was definitely a carb overload. Because of that, I've been trying to be good and restricting the carb intake - but it is hard. My Dad also bought me a tennis racket so I've been spending the last few days playing tennis against a wall - on a real-sized tennis court. I love tennis - I actually find it difficult to put into words how much I love and miss the sport. My tennis coach was such an amazing man, a complete inspiration, and probably the reason I am still so passionate about the sport. I follow it religiously - and will argue for hours about which player is better. So being able to play again after a good two years off, is amazing. Of course, one thing does suck. In real games, when you work your ass off to win a point, you feel so gratified when you win. But the wall always win. So I'm always working hard, yet I never win.

Sorry about that rambling - back to the food. Breakfast was a hotel buffet, so I did eat a lot more than usual.

Bread rolls, toasted slightly, with fresh strawberry jam.

These are overnight oats - at least, I think so. I've never had overnight oats because I was scared of them, but if this is what they taste like - wow. Mine had some apple in and toasted almonds on the top. And of course, I coated the oats in honey.

Another piece of toast, this time with honey.

A mix of cereals with skim milk and pear and apricot. Then I was done - this lovely breakfast kept me full for hours of visiting travel agents (exciting news to come soon) and going to see the amazing Mummy exhibition at the museum.

Lunch was at this great little French bistro. I had melted goats cheese and honey baguette, with a side salad with honey dressing. It was fabulous.

Dessert - brownie from Max Brenners - my Dad insisted.

The best dinner ever - something incredibly healthy and easy and light after a few days of heavy meals. Baked sweet potato, fig paste, brie cheese, avocado, pumpkin, pineapple and apple. I got in some extra veggies this week - I think this deserves some applause.

And now I am going to check out all of your fabulous eats. Oh, and how amazing are the pics from my new camera? My Dad is awesome.

P.S. Today is ANZAC Day in Australia - probably the most important day in our history. So to all Australians and New Zealanders out there - I hope you all had a wonderful day and remembered those fallen men and women. Lest we forget.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Steak and Mushroom Pies

Bread. Potato. Pasta. Rice. Cheese. Honey. Cereal (Weetbix, Coco Pops, Cornflakes, Sultana Bran, Oats, Just Right, Special K, Lowans Muesli). Dark chocolate.

These are my vices.

And these pies of course.

Things you will never hear me say are my vices: cheesecake, lemon tart/pie/slice, white chocolate, ice cream, alcohol, cookies, soda, fruit juice.

I am not including in this all the healthy things I love: yoghurt, every fruit in the world minus watermelon and blackberries, sweet potato, spinach, wholemeal wraps, etc.

Sorry for the unintentional blog break there, but I spent all weekend with my grandparents and dad, and then was too exhausted to write anything. I had such a lovely time with them - it was great to see them all as I hadn't seen them in ages. We spent the weekend eating and going to see the Brisbane Roar - who won the A League final for the second year in a row - scoring both goals in the last eight minutes of the game!

This week's WIAW includes a day of the lovely eats I enjoyed when they were here. And in a further exciting note, these are the last pictures on my blog with my old camera. My wonderful father bought me a new one - a proper one, which takes absolutely brilliant photos. I am so excited about this!

Oh, and in a quick side note, today I got my first Healthiful Balance newsletter, which was really good fun to read - so congrats to Shannon and the rest of the team - it's great fun to get!

So back to the steak and mushroom pies. These are my mum's pies. I remember eating six or seven of them in one sitting and feeling absolutely awful, but eating another six or seven for lunch the next day. The tomato paste is thick, the mushrooms soft and the beef wonderfully tender. These pies are brilliant when straight from the oven, but even if you take them to work or school cold the next day, they taste just as delicious.

Level of Difficulty: Easy – a little time consuming but no difficult techniques are required. I recommend waiting for a rainy day, then having a Friends/Harry Potter/New Girl/Doctor Who (or whatever tv show/movie you like) marathon while making these. The house will smell delicious.
Average Cost: $
Occasion: dinner, lunch, snack – they’re fantastic anytime
Menu Options: If I make a big pie I serve it with mash potatoes and some steamed or baked veggies. If I make mini ones, I pretty much just eat them.

Makes 24 muffin tray size pies – 6 sheets shortcrust pastry, 4 sheets puff pastry
16 mini loaf tray size pies – 4 sheets shortcrust pastry, 2 sheets puff pastry
12 muffin tray size pies and a big pie (family size) – 3 sheets shortcrust pastry, 2 sheets puff pastry for the muffin pies; 1 sheet of each for the big pie
8 mini loaf tray size pies and a big pie (family size) - 2 sheets shortcrust pastry, 1 sheet puff pastry for the mini loaf pies; 1 sheet of each for the big pie

What you need:
-          1 tbsp vegetable oil
-          750 g cubed beef
-          1 large onions, chopped – dice these very finely
-          200 g button mushrooms (can or fresh) – if using canned mushrooms, drain the water and do not get mushrooms with sauces. I buy ‘always fresh’ mushrooms in plain water
-          2 tbsp plain flour
-          1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-          1 x 375 g bottles tomato paste
-          2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – is it two teaspoons or tablespoons
-          1/2 cup beef stock
-          ½ cup water
-          Salt and pepper to taste
-          Puff pastry – for amount see above
-          Shortcrust pastry – for amount see above
-          1 egg, beaten

What to do:
For the pie filling:

Heat two-thirds of oil in a large saucepan/frypan on medium to high heat. You will need a large saucepan to make the gravy, but I use a frypan to brown the meat.

Brown beef, in batches if you have to, transferring beef to a large bowl to wait for rest of cooking to be done.

I changed from using a frypan to using a large, heavyset saucepan, with a little oil, on medium heat. Add remaining oil and onion and fry for three minutes over medium heat.

Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, or until soft. Return beef to saucepan.

Add flour, nutmeg and tomato paste. Stir for about one minute. If you don’t like a very thick tomato gravy, then add half a cup of tomato paste. However I recommend trying it with the thick gravy.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and the stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the half cup of water. The flour will make the mixture very thick, so the water is needed to thin it out. Be careful, you don’t want too much water because the mixture is going to go in pies.

With the lid on the saucepan bring the mixture to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce the heat. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1 hr and 15 minutes with lid on saucepan. Stir regularly.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Defrost the pastry you are using. Do this about five minutes before you need to make the pies.

To make the pies:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Grease muffin tin holes/mini loaf pans with butter or oil. Do this liberally as we want the pies to come out easily. Line each muffin/loaf hole with shortcrust pastry up to the rim. I use a cup that is a cm or so bigger than the muffin holes to cut circles into the pastry. The cup will cut through the pastry and you can peel it away to line the tray with. If doing this in mini loaf pans, measure the mini loaf size and, adding a cm either side of the rectangle, rule out on the pastry the size of the pan. Using a knife cut out a rectangle and line the tray with the pastry.

Spoon filling into muffin/loaf holes.

Cut circles/rectangles of puff pastry to fit top of pies. Press puff against shortcrust pastry to seal each pie.

Brush pies with beaten egg and make a small hole in centre of pie to release steam (poke with a fork).

Bake pies for 10 mins.

Reduce oven heat to 160 degrees Celsius and bake for 20- 25 minutes. The top of the pies should be flaky and a lovely golden brown. Be careful not to burn the pastry. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

English Muffin Bread

Today was crazy busy.

Of course it is the time of the semester when the second lot of assessments are released and due in a few weeks. It is the same time my Dad and grandparents are coming down and I intend to spend Saturday afternoon/night, Sunday and Monday with them and not working. Which I am really looking forward to. Except for the load of assessments uni heaped on me this week.

Granted, these aren’t due for another few weeks, and doing them next weekend certainly won’t hurt my grades, but I’m a little neurotic about things like this, and I pretty much do all of my assignments as soon as possible. I get the task, then I spend one day each weekend on one assignment. I may have to spend one day researching, one writing, but usually, two assignments can be drafted in a weekend. I like writing, so it comes easy. 

I will wake up, have a great breakfast, start by 7:30. I will have a proper lunch, and finish work at 5. I will then exercise and spend my night doing something – movies, dinner with friends, etc and usually in bed early-ish to do lots of work the next day. Yes, it is not the typical life of a uni student. But I get everything done and then in a few weeks time, when everyone is stressing, I feel great about taking half a day off to do some baking, or going out at night and sleeping in, because I don’t have tons of work. 

So the reason why today was so busy was because I got an assignment yesterday that is due next week. We have to rhetorically analyse Obama's speech to the Australian Parliament in 1,500 words. 40% of our grade. So I did that all day, taking a break to eat a small lunch and exercise (I exercised right before I left for the city, and it was a quick 30 minute run, which I cut short because I was paranoid I wouldn’t make it to the city in time). Then I went into the city for an art exhibition by young refugees which I wanted to write about for my journalism class. After that was over, I came home and ate some cereal while writing up references for my assignment.

Now I am going to finish this blog post, and go to bed early so tomorrow I can write the story before meeting my family. Talk about full on!

So I chose to talk about this bread because it is very easy to make. There is four ingredients, no kneading, and is the perfect yeast bread for beginners! I have made it a few times now, and the second changed I adapted the method slightly, and found it worked even better. Sure, it does take a while as the bread has to rise twice. But the result is bread that tastes exactly, if not better, than store bought English muffins. You have to toast this bread. It’s ok not toasted, but like proper English muffins, they are only amazing when toasted. The crust is crunchy, while the middle of the bread is soft, thick and warm. Whatever you chose to put on, I can guarantee you will be satisfied. 

If you want an interesting breakfast, with bread free from preservatives, sugar and sodium, try this. It is easy, relatively painless and absolutely beautiful. You can freeze the bread (remember to place in plastic – I use a freezer bag and tie like store bought bread), but once unfrozen I would eat within three days and probably not refreeze. As it is proper bread, it will go mouldy quicker. I usually freeze for a day or two, leave to defrost overnight in the sink, and wake up to perfect bread. Then I slice it up, and place the leftovers in a freezer bag in the fridge until eaten. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy – perfect for the first time bread maker – no kneading!
Average Cost: $
Recipe adapted (very slightly) from: One Good Thing
Occasion: Breakfast, snack, hell – whenever the carb craving hits
Menu Options: This tastes just like, if not better than, the store bought muffins. So PB and banana, honey, maple syrup, bacon and eggs, whatever you usually pair a muffin with, pair with this bread. As we all know my obsession is with honey, I absolutely drench mine in honey.

Makes 1 loaf of 15 slices – but if you slice it thinner/thicker it will change

What you need:
-          1 1/3 cups water
-          3/4 of one packet – 1 packet of dried yeast (note that if you use rapid rise yeast as opposed to regular yeast you do not need to let the mixture rise in the bowl, simply place your mixture straight into the pans)
-          1/2 tbsp salt
-          3/4 tbsp white sugar
-          2 3/4 cups of bread flour
-          Cornmeal for sprinkling (optional)
-          1-2 tsp butter, melted

What to do:
In a large bowl mix the ingredients together (not the cornmeal). You can use a stand or handheld mixer with dough attachments, or use a wooden spoon. This dough is very sticky so it will be difficult to clean off the attachments! Make sure the dough is somewhat wet – if it appears too dry add more water as necessary – but be careful not to add too much. You want a very sticky mixture.

Leave bowl in warm spot and allow the mixture to rise until it has doubled in bulk. This takes over an hour. For me, it took around 1 hour and 15 minutes. I let mine rise a little more than double, until mine reached the top of the bowl it was in, just to be on the safe side.

Grease the loaf pan (just a regular 9 x 5 inches is fine) with a little oil. Cover the sides and bottom of the loaf pan with cornmeal – this gives the outside that lovely golden crunch of English muffins.

Spoon the mixture into loaf pan. This will be difficult as the dough will be very sticky and not want to leave the bowl. Then, leave to rise again in the pans. This will take less time – mine took somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. It will be ready when you can look at the top of the loaf pan and the dough has risen above it by a little bit (perhaps even when the dough is in line with the top of the pan, but the middle of the loaf has risen above the top of the pan).

While the yeast is rising, preheat an oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes. Keep an eye on yours – mine takes around 25 minutes. You want the loaf to be on the verge of golden brown when you take it out, as it does need another 10 minutes in the oven. Take the loaf from the oven and liberally coat the top of the loaf with melted butter. Place in the oven for another ten minutes. This will give the bread a nice crisp top.

As the texture of the bread is like an English muffin, it is rather soft inside. Let cool completely before slicing. It is best if you toast the bread anyway, so it doesn’t matter about leaving it to cool completely. 

And in final, sad news - my favourite character died on a favourite tv show of mine the other day. I got my roomates hooked on the show as well, so when he died (very suddenly) yesterday, we all kind of sat there crying for a while. It was a brilliant moment for Australian tv. 

In less sad news - happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Happy Wednesday!

This is actually a ‘what I ate last Wednesday’, as my Mum was in town so we did all these lovely exciting things together. As usual, a big thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for putting this all together. Again, I failed at the extra serving of veggies.

Breakfast was my homemade English Muffin Bread (recipe coming soon), which was amazing. I hope my mum was suitably impressed. I had three slices – one with apricot jam and the other two smothered with honey. As you will learn, I smother everything in honey. Especially cereal.

We knew we were going to have high tea later that day, so we decided to have a really small lunch around 11. We went to the Shingle Inn, which is always great. We both had a ham and pineapple melt. Pineapple makes everything better – pizza, salad, sandwiches, desserts. It was just one piece of thick bread with ham, pineapple and cheese. Yet, absolutely amazing.

We pretty much just went shopping in the city all day until high tea at the GOMA at 2:30. Which was beautiful. There were five sandwiches – egg, chicken, roast beef, salmon and ham. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the egg or roast beef, but I made up for it by eating my Mum’s salmon sandwich. This was followed by meringue nests with raspberries and juice. It was amazing – neither my Mum or I like meringue but it was fantastic – the best thing there probably. Then there were four macaroons – I had the coconut and strawberry ones while my Mum had the coffee and pistachio ones. They were also fantastic. The lemon and chocolate tarts were a little disappointing – not as great as I had hoped. The scones – a fruit and a regular one – made up for it. And the strawberry jam was to die for.

Neither of us were hungry after that for dinner, as it was such a filling, amazing meal. So I had an unpictured bowl of pasta with my grandma’s homemade sauce which she sent down with my Mum. And then a bowl of Weetbix, coated with honey of course. Both of these were very small, and pretty much only because I was tired, not really hungry (which is an awful habit and not one I indulge often).

This wasn’t eaten that day but the next day we had lunch at the Bavarian Bier Cafe – warm, giant pretzels and schnitzel was eaten. My schnitzel was veal and in a mushroom sauce. Let’s pretend you can’t see all the oil in the sauce. My side was ‘sautéed potatoes’ – pretty much bacon, onion and potato. You can see my Mum's meal in the background - schnitzel with ham and cheese. I also had an unpictured apple strudel – I ate it well before I thought to take a photo.

I had such a fantastic three days with my Mum – we just ate and went shopping and cooked. We spent Friday morning cooking her famous meat pies before we went to a late lunch. That recipe will also be coming soon. 

I would like to say, this was an off day for me. My life has been so crazy lately, and full of some really great food, that I just want to show you the great days, not the boring days full of oatmeal, salad and chicken. 

Today was so crazy for me. I woke up early to get to my internship on time, so breakfast was at 5:30. Then, because I had to go hand in my uniform because I quit my part time job, lunch wasn't until 1:30. I was hysterical - the crying kind of hysterical. And I felt awful. I don't think I ever go that long without eating. Never again.

But on a good note - I did my first ever official interview! I interviewed an Australian fashion designer tonight - the interview lasted for about half an hour, she was incredibly lovely and she even said I covered everything. It was a good, albiet stressful day.

And in other news - earlier this week I won the beautiful Shannon's giveaway - which I keep thinking and can't wait for. If you want to be inspired to eat healthily, but eat a good range of foods, and still maintain a great work/life balance - you should check out Shannon's blog - her blog is easily the one I look forward to reading most.

And now I am off to check out all the other WIAW's. This is such a good day of the week. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes

I have a ton of recipes planned for the next few days. Tons of actually healthy recipes.

However, I figured I may as well just post the final chocolate recipe for a while. Besides this recipe is perfect for this time - a couple of weeks after Easter and you have leftover chocolate - you can do this. My chocolate wasn't leftover - everyone knows I am such a huge fan of Ferrero Rochers that I got an insane amount for Easter. So I found a great way to use 12 of them!

You can sub the Ferrero Rocher for other hard shelled chocolates - but Ferrero is undoubtedly the best choice.

So what is new with me? Well, I got a journalism job! I was asked to write two articles for the next issue of a magazine - I get to interview two fashion designers and then write the articles! I've been studying journalism for seven weeks now, so this is incredibly exciting news! It makes me feel pretty good about my career choice - I've always been terribly worried that I am not a good enough writer to make it as a journalist or writer. Knowing that at least someone out there likes my writing, makes me feel a lot better. I just can't imagine doing anything else with the rest of my life - as long as I am writing, I will be happy. I would love to have a novel published one day - getting two articles published in a magazine is a great step towards that.

So, enough about me.

These cupcakes are absolutely lovely - the Ferrero Rocher doesn't quite do what you expect. The chocolate on the outside of the ball melts,the small hazelnuts meld into the batter, the crisp shell softens a little, the chocolate inside the shell remains hard and the hazelnut inside provides the perfect crunch. The batter seems a little sweet when you first taste it (as you will undoubtedly do, like me), before being baked. But trust me, leave it as it is. When combined with the rich chocolate of the Ferrero Rocher, the mixture is perfect. And the hazelnut - the perfect crunch in an otherwise soft and sweet cake.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: chocolate and Ferrero Rochers!
Recipe adapted (slightly) from: Gninethree
Occasion: Snack, dessert
Menu Options: I would bring this as a treat to parties – or maybe make a bunch of these adorable cupcakes for a friend’s birthday instead of a large cake.

Makes 12 – actually there is a LOT of batter and you could make around 16. Calorie count based on 12.

What you need:
-          1 cup white all-purpose flour / self raising four
-          1/4 cup cocoa powder
-          1/3 cup caster sugar / granulated sugar
-          1/2 cup brown sugar
-          1/2 tsp baking soda
-          1/2 tsp baking powder
-          1/4 tsp salt
-          1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
-          1 egg
-          1 cup buttermilk
-          1 tsp vanilla essence
-          12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (if using a fan forced oven).

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a large bowl. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients and stir well.

In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together until well combined using a handheld or stand mixer.

Add the wet and dry ingredients together. Mix slightly with a wooden spoon, then using the mixer, beat until well combined.

Using a spoon, place a drop of the mixture into lined muffin tins (I prefer to line my muffin tins with silicone cups, but if you don’t, feel free to simply drop the mixture into a muffin tin). Just place enough to cover the bottom of the top. Add an uncovered Ferrero Rocher chocolate to each muffin tin. Cover the chocolate with remaining batter. I would make twelve cupcakes first and then use the rest of the batter to make any remaining cupcakes.

Bake for twenty minutes or until tops are firm. A toothpick inserted into the cake, not in the middle, as the chocolate is there, should come out clean.

Cool slightly, but I would advise to eat them warm as they are amazing!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Chocolate Balls

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately - my Mum visited me for three days and we were so busy shopping and eating I barely had time to do anything. She arrived this Wednesday, and you already saw the lovely food we ate. On Thursday we spent the day in the city, and you shall see those eats on the next WIAW. Friday we spent the day making her homemade pies - the recipe will be up soon. Then we had lunch at the Bavarian Bier Cafe - we both had warm pretzels, schnitzel and apple strudel. It was an amazing three days and I miss her horribly already.

But in other good news, my Dad and grandparents are arriving next weekend. The Brisbane Roar are in the grand final of the soccer, so my grandparents are flying down and bringing my Dad with them. How sweet of them is that? So I intend to have another lovely weekend full of great food.

In other good news, I am back to eating healthily and exercising after an extended break over Easter. It feels great to be working again. My friend came over to have dinner with me last night and he said I looked like I was healthy, so that was great news.

Now, these chocolate balls. They are kind of like rum balls, but without the rum. So you could add rum to them if you wish, but not being a rum drinker, I have no idea how much you should add. My grandmother made these at Christmas, as like a snack for us prior to lunch. I don't know how much lunch I ate because I had so many of these before hand.

I would never make these as a snack to keep in my house. I would make these for a party, to bring when you are told 'not to bring a thing'. They are easy to make, and, being small and already in portion sizes, are a perfect party treat. I would make them to have at Christmas or Easter parties, or even for children's parties for something different. Also, they would make a great housewarming gift for neighbours. I might make them if we went on a picnic (a large group of us), but it is not something I would make just to have in the house. As fantastic as they are, no one needs that temptation.

I know lately all my recipes have been chocolate ones. I swear this is not what I eat on a daily basis. I'd be lucky to eat one or two of these. They were demolished by roomates and visiting friends. I do not eat the sweet stuff on my blog most of the time - maybe a little of it, but often it is made for the purpose of giving to roomates or friends as gifts.

As you can see, I do love my chocolate and coconut. They go so well together. Trust me, this recipe is perfect for party snacks. It's also so easy I feel bad claiming it is a recipe.

Level of Difficulty: Ridiculously easy. So easy I feel bad posting the recipe on here.
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: Chocolate and coconut
Occasion: Dessert or Snack – and obviously, Easter
Menu Options: Perfect as a present for someone, or as a snack to bring to a party – perfect for when you’re told ‘not to bring a thing’.  
Recipe from:  White Wings

I couldn’t actually check the nutritional value as the recipe calculator I use didn’t recognise the biscuits. Using various other biscuits the value was between 70 and 100 calories for an individual chocolate ball.

Makes approximately 30 small balls.  

You will need:
-          1 packet / 200g of Chocolate Creamies by White Wings. These are an Australian biscuit. They are pretty much two chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with whipped chocolate cream in the middle. You can use other chocolate biscuits with regular cream in the middle, but I would add more cocoa.
-          1/3 cup desiccated or shredded coconut
-          1 tbsp cocoa
-          1 cup sweetened condensed milk (I use the light version)
-          1/2 cup coconut (optional)

What to do:

Crush the biscuits in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Place them in a large bowl with the coconut, cocoa and condensed milk and mix well.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 - 4 hours.

When the mixture is suitably hard, spoon the mixture into balls. I used my hands to roll them into balls.

This step is optional: coat the balls in coconut after they are shaped.

Place in a container and refrigerate overnight. Serve slightly chilled, although it doesn’t really matter if they are served at room temperature.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


My mum is in town for three days! Therefore I decided this week’s WIAW really would be what I ate on Wednesday. Again, a huge thanks to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting this awesome event.

I started the day off early at 6:30 with baked banana oatmeal. It was cold and I needed a pick me up.

I was tired but attempted to do some exercise – this resulted in 20 minutes of half hearted Pilates before I gave up and waited excitedly for my Mum to arrive. When she did we went shopping at the shopping centre next door (literally 100 m away, and I actually mean ‘literally’). I went a little crazy buying baking tins and goods. Then, as Mum had an early flight and I ate earlier than usual, we had a second breakfast at 10:30.

We went to this French cafe/bistro in the shopping centre, where the waiters actually speak French. I had a homemade and warm croissant with jam and a hot chocolate (I don’t drink coffee). 

We then continued shopping until we had pretty much bought every item a baker would need. We came home and went for a long walk in the park nearby, which was a lot of fun. The sky was a really light blue and kids were absolutely crawling all over the park equipment – it was such a lovely, family day. We got peckish around three and pretty much polished off a bag of beautiful red grapes. 

Then it was my turn to cook for Mum. I made lemon, parmesan and fetta chicken with a rocket, pear and potato salad with lemon dressing. It was actually really delicious and the chicken was really well cooked (if I do say so myself).The little chicken looking things on the salad is actually just fried eggs and breadcrumbs - the leftover eggs and breadcrumbs from the crumbing stage where simply fried with the leftover oil after the chicken was done.

For dessert I had an Old Gold chocolate egg and a Ferrero Rocher. I have a real obsession with Ferrero – everybody knows this, so I got a lot of them for Easter. I've been good though - only like one a day! (except for yesterday when I had three)

Overall it was such a lovely day and I really enjoyed the food. I can’t wait to see what you guys ate!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Chocolate Coconut Rough Slice

Firstly - Happy Easter everyone!

Secondly - do you guys remember Golden Roughs?

My parents and grandparents used to own a newsagency in my small hometown. It was an incredibly successful business, but I saw how hard they worked. Every day someone would go to work at 4 in the morning to open the shop and the last person to leave usually left at 6 or 7. They worked incredibly hard for over 20 years - and I think that's where I learned the value of hard work. We didn't have a lot of material possessions, and some of my best childhood memories were spent in the back of the shop, as we spent a lot of time there, but having seen how successful my family is, I know the hard work is always worth it.

And this leads me to one of those childhood memories. Every Friday afternoon my brother and I were allowed a special treat from the shop. We would walk from school to main street, where the shop was, which wasn't very far, but always felt so grown up. When we would get there we each got a drink, a chocolate and got to read a magazine. It was our weekly chocolate treat. I always got an Oak Iced Coffee and a Golden Rough. Shaun always got an Oak Chocolate Milk and a Cherry Ripe. And we read Archie Comics.

I still obsess over Archie Comics. They epitomize my idea of America. Especially, small town high schools in America. And I love them all - particularly Betty and Veronica. And a malt shop? If I ever get to go to one, I will be the happiest person ever.

I don't obsess over Golden Rough's anymore. But my grandmother makes a slice that equals the mass produced chocolate in taste (the crunch and coconut is brilliant), but with less calories. I mean, not many less calories, but the point stands.

So this recipe is my grandmother's - and I dedicate this post to her and my grandad - two of the most inspirational people in my life, who are the hardest workers I know and who are such amazing people.
(Love you Nonno and Nonna - if you are reading this).

Level of Difficulty: So easy.
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: Coconut and condensed milk and a lot of sugar.
Occasion: Great to bring to a party as a treat

Makes 20 very small slices. I make my slices very small so I don’t eat much and it is automatically portion controlled. Also, the slice tends to last longer then, as I restrict myself to one slice a day. In all honesty, I would usually cut this into 24 slices, but it is completely up to you how to cut it.

You will need:

For the Base:
1 cup self raising / all purpose flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 dessertspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut
 100 g butter

For the Topping:
3 tablespoons condensed milk
28 g butter
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 cup coconut
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

What to do:

Preheat oven to moderate/180 degrees Celsius.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar, cocoa and salt. Mix well.

Melt the butter and add, with coconut, to the mixture. Mix until a thick wet batter is formed. It will be very thick and difficult to press into a pan.

Press the mixture into a greased pan (I greased mine with coconut oil, simply to keep the coconut theme going). My tin was 20 cm x 28 cm, but you can make a smaller and thicker slice if you want.

It is difficult to press the mixture into a pan, as it is very thick and coconut-y. I used my, well washed, hands to ensure it covered the whole pan.

Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes. Watch carefully after 20 to make sure the edges of the slice do not burn (you can always cut them off if you do).

Take the slice out of the oven. You should make the topping while the slice cools. I usually spread the topping on the slice after it has cooled for 10 minutes – you don’t want it too cool.

To make the topping, simply combine all the ingredients.

Spread this over the slice. This is even more difficult to do, as the mixture is very thick and sticky this time, so it sticks to the spoon/your hands. I used my hands, which seemed to work best. You have to just press and move the mixture around as best as possible. Try to get the topping to cover the entire slice, including the corners. If it looks messy, it doesn’t matter – it’s called chocolate coconut rough!

Allow slice to rest so topping hardens slightly. This is about 20-30 mins at room temperature. The slice can be kept in the fridge or frozen for use later. If freezing slice, simply put in the fridge a day before you want to eat it, and it will be fine to eat. 

I swear I actually do eat healthily by the way. I actually have been so busy lately my eating has been all out of whack, which has been making me stress, and the eating gets worse. Especially with Easter, and eating chocolate, I have been worrying a lot about my food consumption. Which is silly, I know, so I am trying to stop. But this slice, if eaten in small doses, is not incredibly unhealthy. Sure, the sugar is in there in copious amounts, and if you don't eat sugar, this is not the treat for you, but if you don't mind the sugar, eating one or two of these slices will be fine.

I ate one slice of this - this is a welcome home present for my roomates. It was going to be a surprise, but they may read this (hi guys) and if they do, well, no more surprise. I got home from work this afternoon and really wanted to cook, so I went a little crazy. So they have plenty to look forward to when they get back - I hope its soon, it is a bit lonely and quiet here without them.

Buuuttt - my Mum gets here on Wednesday! So there will be a few lovely posts about eating out in Brisbane as all we intend to do for three days is eat and shop. Who doesn't want to do that.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


It’s been one of those weeks.

You know the ones – where you are so busy you feel as if you have no time to breathe, let alone cook, clean, exercise or get anything remotely important done. Fortunately the week fell at a good time – all of my current assessment is completed. I had to work 18 hours, including over this Easter weekend. As a casual, this is too many hours for me to handle, especially as I rely on public transport and that means that today and tomorrow my travel hours are super long.

I am going to visit my grandparents tomorrow and Sunday, which should be nice. Then, when I return I have two busy days of work and uni assessment before my Mum arrives for three days – which I seriously cannot wait for. I don’t even feel like I am getting an Easter ‘holiday’ – it’s like a break to study, not vacation.

So this week I barely exercised. I did not eat well. I ate a lot of carbs. Particularly of the bread kind. What can I say – I was stressed.

Yesterday one of my tutes was cancelled so I had a massive four/five hour break between classes, and then work until 11 that night. I decided to skip my lecture at four and relax at home for a bit. Now I say that like I always skip lectures – as if I am cooler than I am. I hate skipping lectures. I get all sweaty and nervous thinking about it. And I am going to listen to this one when they upload the audio online anyway. I am not cool.

So while I was watching Happy Endings and drooling over food blogs, I decided to make these pikelets. I had intended to make them for breakfast today, as a treat for Easter, but I wanted to pretty much just do schoolwork today and didn’t want to cook. So I decided to make them early. This recipe is my mother’s, and it is brilliant. I have these memories of spending all day in the pool with my next door neighbours (who are pretty much brother and sister to me and my brother) and then Mum would make us these for lunch sometimes. We would drench them in peanut butter, maple syrup, apricot jam – whatever we wanted. It is one of my favourite childhood memories.

My other favourite childhood memory is of me and my best friend (the girl next door neighbour, her name is A) convincing my brother (S) and her brother (W) to come picnicking in the backyard with us. These pikelets were pretty much all we ate.

The recipe is simple, versatile and is automatically portioned controlled (if you can stick to just a few of these, you won’t totally hate yourself – and it is easier to convince yourself you have eaten enough, because you will have eaten four, not just one big pancake, for example).They're actually not all that bad for you, and if you are looking for a treat breakfast, this is a relatively good one to splurge on.

Level of Difficulty: So insanely easy.
Average Cost: $
Main Ingredients: Sugar and flour
Occasion: Breakfast, but warmed up they make an amazing snack throughout the day. Even cold they are a nice snack.
Menu Options: I pretty much smother mine in pure maple syrup. If I’m binging on them, I’ll have some with syrup and the rest with apricot jam, but really, like pancakes, anything goes.

Makes 12 or 13, depending on the size of the pikelets.  

You will need:
1 egg
½ cup low fat milk
2 teaspoons butter
1 cup self raising / all purpose flour
Salt (pinch - 1/2 teaspon)
3 tablespoons sugar

What to do:
Whisk the egg, sugar and half of the milk in a large bowl. It was make a golden/orange liquid.

Sift the flour and salt into the mixture. Mix well, adding the remainder of the milk until the batter is the consistency of thick cream. You may need to add extra milk – this is up to you. The batter should be pretty thick, but rather smooth. I mixed by hand, but a mixer won’t harm the recipe.

Melt the butter and add it to the mixture. I used a handheld beater here, just because I was lazy, but you can mix the mixture by hand. Make sure the butter is completely added and the mixture is very smooth and slightly thinner. The mixture should still be thick though.

Preheat and grease a frypan – I use coconut oil to grease, purely because I like the flavour.

Using a large spoon, scoop a spoonful of the mixture onto a frypan. If the heat is high, this won’t take very long. When the surface of the mixture is bubbly, turn the pikelet over to cook the other side.

Repeat this step to make 12 pikelets.

Remove from heat when cooked and serve immediately. It won’t take too long to cook – my heat was very high and it took about 2 minutes on each side. Be careful when flipping the pikelets, the mixture will already be mostly cooked and you don’t want to leave it on the heat for too long or it will burn.

I also want to mention how awesome my two roommates (Y and M) are. I told them about how I always celebrated Easter on Friday, not Sunday, because my parents always worked Sunday. And this year I was going to be all alone for Easter Friday. Both Y and M have gone home to their families for the holidays, and Y left early this morning. So when I woke up, there was the most adorable little Easter basket of goodies at my door. It was such an amazing surprise – especially as it was full of dark chocolate, which is a total weakness for me. So you guys, if you’re reading this, you are the best roommates a girl could ask for!