Sunday, 8 September 2013

Frozen Bananas

I'm back again. Sorry about the sporadic posting. It's been a bit busy here as I have six weeks left of uni! I can't believe it but at the same time, this semester has been dragging by and I cannot wait to finish.

My Dad came down last weekend to run Bridge to Brisbane with me, which coincided with his birthday and Father's Day. It was a great weekend - we ate a lot, I ran my first ever race (only a 5K) and in general enjoyed having some family time. It was great to spend time with just my Dad - usually in my family I hang out with Mum and my brother hangs out with Dad. It was a shame my Mum couldn't make it down this time, but both my parents will be visiting again in three weeks.

So today I am back with what can't really be called a recipe, especially because I forgot the precise ingredients I used. Sorry about that. I'm not winning any awards for being a good blogger at the moment.

These frozen bananas were, obviously, inspired by Arrested Development, which if you haven't seen, do so (though not season 4, feel free to skip that one). You can pretty much do whatever you want with these - dip the bananas in any kind of chocolate you want (or peanut butter or yoghurt) and roll them in nuts, sprinkles, choc bits, coconut, etc.

I also want to thank my lovely friend Annie for making these with me. We actually made these about two months ago but I never got around to posting the recipe on the blog. I thought now would probably be a good time - it's the end of summer in the other half of the world, and over here (on the right side of the world) it's spring and the temperature is pretty much perfect at the moment (mid 20s). So everybody - get busy.

What you need:

5 bananas
Dark/Milk/White melting chocolate
Crushed peanuts
Or any other toppings you want
Popsicle sticks

What to do:

Cut the five bananas in half, so you have 10 half-bananas, sliced lengthways in the middle.

Insert the popsicle sticks in the flat (cut) end of the bananas. Make sure the popsicle sticks are wedged tightly into the banana so the banana will not fall off.

Melt the chocolate you are using. While it is melting (do it over the stove so the chocolate melts evenly and stays warmer for longer), lay out desired toppings on a bench near the melted chocolate, so it easy to do the following steps. Place a tray covered with baking paper near the toppings.

Dip a banana into the melted chocolate and then roll in your desired toppings. Carefully place decorated banana on the tray. Repeat for remaining bananas.

Place tray with decorated bananas into freezer for at least half an hour. Keep bananas frozen and serve cold.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Life Lately 3

I wish I had more 'life' things to discuss when I do these posts but at the moment all I have been doing is working for uni, writing and watching tv (Underemployed anyone?). Therefore this will be the usual mashup of thoughts I've had throughout the week.

Products I'm loving lately:
Cocopure Chocolate Coconut Butter
This stuff is totally amazing. It's rich, thick and absolutely amazing. They have a whole range of coconut butters but I have a feeling this one would be my favourite.
Lindt Excellence with Sea Salt
This is probably my favourite Lindt block of chocolate - I love the rich chocolate combined with the intense salt. It's amazing.

Philadelphia Chocolate Cream Cheese
I'm sensing a pattern. But this stuff is also amazing - with fruit, on bread, by itself. I am crazy about it.

Posts I'm loving lately (oh look, they're like all related to books):
I'm sure you've seen it already, but if you haven't, this post about what would happen if Disney princesses had Instagram is brilliant.

In other book character posts - I feel like this is incredibly relevant to me.

17 problems only book lovers understand - this is my life. Also, number 2 is probably what I relate to most. Also, the gif of Colton Haynes yelling 'you ruined everything' is legitimately terrifying.

Signs you're addicted to books - 11, 15 and 18 are particularly relevant.

I feel like I should read these books. I do tend to judge books by their cover, and I know it's not always right so I'm going to make an effort to read more books with bad covers.

Here is a list of things people want to do in high school. I did practically none of these. What about you guys? Did you do any of these crazy things in high school? (Also, the movies referenced in this post are AMAZING). 

And that is all I have time for today, because I have a seriously busy week of uni before my first 5k this Sunday. Better get running.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Caramel Biscuit Brownies

I do not even want to mention how many times I have made these brownies since my Mum sent me the recipe. I know I always talk about amazing brownies, but these truly are.

SIDE NOTE: Regular scheduled posting? What is that? I may return to it sometime soon.

When served warm, they are soft, gooey and the sweet caramel is piping hot and contrasts with the rich brownie. When served cold, the caramel biscuits are more obvious (the biscuit has not melted into the brownie base as when they are hot). You can taste the rich brownie, the caramel is chewy and the biscuit hard and crunchy. The texture of the biscuit is a little disconcerting but not terrible. I personally prefer to serve them warm, as I love the melted caramel and lack of biscuit crunch.

Remember, if you are serving the brownies warm, if you reheat them in the microwave, wait a moment before serving because the caramel will burn your tongue. I'd advise reheating in the oven, because, as usual, reheating in the oven makes the food taste better.

This is not my recipe. I have copied it below exactly as it appeared in the June 2013 issue of Australian Good Taste.

Makes 12 brownies (very large)

What you need:
200g dark (bittersweet) chocolate
200 g butter
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
200 g (1 packet) Arnott's Caramel Crowns (or caramel centered chocolate covered biscuits)

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line with baking paper a regular sized brownie tray.

In a large bowl melt the chocolate and butter together.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk together until well combined. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Stir in the sugar. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and stir in with the wooden spoon.

Pour half the brownie mixture into the pan. Spread the biscuits (should be 12) evenly on the brownie base. Press them down into the mixture. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the top and spread evenly with a spatula so the surface is smooth.

Bake for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly and serve warm.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Apricot and Chocolate Oat Bar-Muffins

Two posts in a week. This is a record for me at the moment.  And in fact, two healthy food posts in a week.

I know I say stuff like this regularly, but I cannot oversell these oat bar-muffins. I am only calling them 'bar-muffins' because I don't know what else to call them. They are soft, chewy and filled with all kinds of delicious things, like chocolate and apricot.

And they are rather healthy too - they're made with oats, almond meal, LSA, almond milk, and unsweetened applesauce. There is no sugar - only honey. There is also no butter, just a few tablespoons of oil. If you use natural dried apricots with no added sugar and dark (bittersweet) chocolate, you've got a phenomenal treat with little sugar.

I love these as an afternoon pick-me-up, a morning snack or a quick treat after a workout. They have a decent amount of carbs, protein and fats. I actually should add peanut butter to the ingredient list because I absolutely love to top these with a large spoonful of crunchy peanut butter. I love the crunch it adds to the soft oat bars, and peanut butter is a great addition to any chocolate treat.

Recipe adapted from the ever amazing edible perspective.

Makes 15 muffin sized treats.

What you need:

2 cups oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1/3 cup LSA
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons oil (your choice, I used EVOO)
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (if you buy them pre-diced it saves you chopping them up)
1/2 cup dark (bittersweet) chocolate chips

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray and line 1-2 regular-muffin-sized tray with cupcake liners (you will need two muffin trays to make 15 treats, so you can either bake two trays at once, or if you’re like me and only have one tray, bake 12 treats and then 3).

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (first six). Stir well with a wooden spoon until combined.

In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk the egg. Add the milk, applesauce and honey. Whik together. Finally add the oil. Whisk into the mixture. Make sure there is no oil clinging to the top of the mixture and the honey is not clumped together.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Stir in the apricots and chocolate until they are spread throughout the mixture.

Place approximately 2 large tablespoons of mixture into each muffin liner, making sure the mixture fills approximately 2/3 of the liner.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are a dark brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

To eat, top with a spoonful of peanut butter. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Healthy Banana Coconut Pancakes

I know I promised these last week, but the week just got away from me. So therefore you will not be bored with a post about my life this week, rather two food posts.

The first of which is these amazing pancakes. They are ridiculously easy to make as well as being healthy, delicious and an incredibly filling breakfast. I like to save time consuming breakfasts for the weekend, and while these do take longer than your average weekday breakfast, they are not difficult or frustrating.

If you use a very ripe banana, the banana taste is strong, and mixes well with the cinnamon and coconut. The pancakes are not fluffy, but thick and soft, and rather sweet, given the lack of sugar. If you find they are not sweet enough, perhaps because you used Greek yoghurt while I used a sweet plain yoghurt, then add more honey.

I am terrible at flipping pancakes, so please excuse my oddly-shaped and skewed pancakes. Feel free to top your pancakes with whatever you chose - I chose a homemade raspberry and chocolate sauce, a dash of maple syrup and yoghurt.

Makes five small-medium sized pancakes.

What you need:
½ cup oats
¼ cup coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 banana, very ripe, mashed
1 tbsp plain yoghurt (Greek or otherwise)
1 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp honey

What to do:
In a blender or food processor, blend all of the pancake ingredients together until you have a thick, yellow batter.

Ensure your frypan is hot (over medium heat) and spray with olive oil / canola oil / coconut oil / any other oil you have.

Place 2 heaped tbsp. of batter on the frypan. This will make one small-medium sized pancakes. You can probably cook two or three pancakes on one frypan. Cook until the pancake batter bubbles on top and the bottom half of the batter sticks together. Flip the pancake once, and cook for another minute, until the pancake holds itself together.

Repeat for remaining batter, until five small-medium sized pancakes are made.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Life Lately 2

I used to call these posts 'around the web' but decided to change it, mostly because I don't just talk about things from around the web. I wanted to keep you guys updated on my life, so instead I shall talk about what's been happening lately.

University has started officially, but I'm not too busy yet. At the moment it's just a lot of adapting to my final classes and my new classmates.

I've been watching a lot of Ripper Street. Mostly because Jerome Flynn is seriously amazing.

I had plans to make food for Harry Potter/Neville Longbottom/J.K Rowling's birthdays, but everything I tried tasted terrible. I couldn't cook! Nothing was working out for me.

I then got sick and now everything tastes bad. So I'll be back in the kitchen properly soon.

In about 10 hours from when I am writing this the next Doctor will be announced. As 11 (Matt Smith) is my Doctor, I feel I should share this. Thanks, Matt Smith, for everything.

This list of instagrammers to follow if you love London is undeniably perfect. I am now following them all because, as most of you know, I would really love to move to England (maybe sooner than expected!).

This blog is dedicated to breakfast. AKA, the best meal of the day.

This list of ridiculous things people believed in when they were young is hilarious. Mostly because I believed in weird things too. I believed my Dad could open our garage door by magic. He couldn't. He had a remote control. What did you guys believe in?

Things you understand if raised by a teacher. This list is SO TRUE. Other children raised by teachers can attest to this. The worst is that you can never date someone without your mother/father finding out five minutes after you agreed to go out with them. Teachers have a spy network.

And for a laugh, see this. Trust me.

AND TO EXPLAIN THE PICS IN THIS POST: If you like Game of Thrones on Facebook, you may have already seen some of the above - pictures of GOT characters as pop culture archetypes. I feel like they totally nailed Sansa. And Joffrey (because you want to punch him). And Bran (forever laughing at the X-men shirt). And (no spoilers for those who haven't seen it), but god damn, Theon's was terrible. I only put in the ones I liked (I didn't like how they did Tyrion or Bronn, two of the best characters). See the rest here.

Have a great few days, and I'll be back with some pancakes later on this week.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Life Lately

Hello friends.

Sorry for my prolonged absence. Well, not really. As I am graduating in less than six months I have been enjoying what may be my last lengthy holiday for a while. Week one of my last semester is already over so there is only 12 weeks left. Mostly I just wish people would stop asking me what I am going to do when I graduate because I have absolutely no idea.

No idea.

I'm working on it.

In other news, I have started a separate blog that I am going to run more like an online resume with examples of my work. As I want to write, I think having a place where I can put up my work is a good idea. I'll put the link up here later, when I'm happy with what I've done.

My younger brother turned 18 a week ago, and tonight is his Adventure Time themed party, which should be pretty fun.

I started a couch to 5k program, mostly to motivate me into doing more cardio and to improve my times and so far it's been pretty great. I've stuck to the schedule and my stamina and time have improved. It hasn't been very long, but given my track record with running (I'll do it for two days and then give up), I'm doing well.

I'm sure you noticed, but if you didn't: Andy Murray won Wimbledon. I'm saying this mostly to remind my Grandad, who continually tells me Murray's just lucky. Because winning two slams is lucky.

This semester at uni I'm doing a radio and tv subject, which means that yes, I will be on tv doing the news for a week later this year. And on the radio. And no, I will not be telling ANYONE what channel/frequency.

Products I'm loving lately:
Byron Bay Bliss Balls -

 Annie's Fruit Leather (apricot) -

Posts you should read (I swear I don't work for Buzzfeed):
How to have a delightful picnic
Small bathroom hacks to make life easier
If you love Lord of the Rings
I feel like these British people problems also apply to Australians
For all the teachers (including my Mum)
If you don't cry at this, you're not human
Social rules you never break (especially number 6!!)

Also, the Goo Goo Dolls Pandora is perfection. I mean, it's pretty much my ipod, but it's fantastic.

Just tried to make avocado brownies and let me tell you, they were all kinds of disgusting. Just make regular brownies guys, you won't hate yourself then.

On that note,
Regularly scheduled posting will resume shortly. Probably with a brownie recipe.
Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Pinata Cake

Want an easy yet impressive birthday cake? This is the one for you.

I made this for my roommate who turned 20 yesterday. I am aware that it is decorated kind of like a kid's cake but we're all struggling with the fact that we are now expected to be pretty much adults all the time and so I figured a bit of peanut butter and messy frosting and M&Ms would help us all forget that Von is the first of us three roommates to hit this milestone (the rest of my friends are already 20 or will be within the next month).

This cake also helped me deal with finishing Arrested Development (has anyone else seen season four yet?).

This is a deceptively easy cake to make. It does not require extraordinary time or effort to make. It is easily adaptable to your favourite cake and frosting recipe, which means you can eat a cake you know you will love and enjoy the look of surprise on someones face when they cut into the cake and realise it is a pinata. It's really a lot of fun.

What you will need:

Cake mix / your favourite cake recipe - you need to make two cakes, so whatever cake mix or recipe you chose, make sure you can get two cakes out of it. I used Annie's Eats Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake recipe and baked it in two 10 inch tins. The choice of tin is up to you - a more rounded cake tin would work better in this instance, but regular shaped tins also work well. Additionally, make sure that whatever recipe you chose, the cake is rich - a light and fluffy cake will fall apart when sticking the two cakes together - you need a 'strong' cake, for lack of a better word.

Frosting - again, you need a decent amount of frosting, so make sure whatever recipe you chose (I would chose a thick buttercream-style recipe) it can cover two cakes - either double the recipe or use a recipe designed for layer cakes. You may have some leftover. I used the amazing peanut butter frosting from the recipe above. My advice would even be to use the recipe above - the cake held up well and was deliciously rich, while the frosting was sweet and stuck nicely to the cake. I also love the chocolate and peanut butter combination and would definitely recommend trying it.

Chocolate and candy for the inside of the cake and for decorations

What to do:

Bake the cakes. Do as recipe says. Allow to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Cut a large circle out of the top of one cake. Using a spoon, scoop out the cake inside that circle, being careful not to cut through to the bottom or sides of the cake. Therefore you should be left with one cake completely in tact and the other with a large hole in.

Fill the hole with chocolate and candy - whatever you choose. I filled mine with a variety of M&Ms.

Make the frosting as per the recipe. Frost the top of the cake with the hole first. By this, I mean simply frost the outer layer of the hole. Next, frost the top of the other cake.

Very carefully flip the in tact cake upside down, so that the frosted top of the cake is facing the floor. Carefully place this cake on top of the hole cap, effectively sealing the candy in between the two cakes.

Using the remaining frosting, frost the rest of the cake, doing both the top and sides of the cake. This will ensure that candy is trapped in the cake and no one will know it is a secret layer cake.

Finally, using whatever you chose, decorate the outside of the cake. I used smarties (found in Australia and prettier than M&Ms) and some sprinkles. You use what you chose.

Place in fridge until ready to serve. Take out a few minutes before serving so the inside candy is not cold but not until the frosting starts to melt. When you cut into the cake, the candy trapped in between the two layers will fall out, like a pinata.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Maple Cheesecake Brownies

I know I've missed a few posts these last two weeks and I should say I have been studying because I have a week left of uni for the semester, but I haven't. I've been watching tv.

In good news though, I have one week left of this semester, followed by a week long internship at the Courier Mail (QLD's state newspaper where I will hopefully get to write some stories, so look out fellow QLDers) and then I'm going home to see the family for six weeks. It's going to be great.

I cannot believe I have not posted the recipe for these brownies yet. I really want to do them justice and tell you all about how wonderful they are, but as it is getting late and I have plans tonight, this will be short and sweet.

They are wonderful. I truly mean that. I made these a few weeks ago and I've been craving them since.

They are super rich, dense and incredibly fudgy. They practically melt in your mouth. The richness of the brownies contrasts with the tang and tart of the cheesecake - it's an amazing combination.

If you give these a go one day, you will not regret it.

Makes 12-16 brownies.

For brownies:
150 g dark chocolate
½ cup butter
1 cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda

For cheesecake:
200 g cream cheese
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence

What to do:

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease a regular sized brownie pan.

Melt chocolate, butter and maple syrup together. You can simply do it in the microwave in a large, heatproof bowl if you want.

Add the brown sugar, whisking it in to the liquids.

Add the eggs and vanilla into the same bowl, at once, whisking some more.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the bowl together and stir together with a spatula. Stir very well, making sure to get rid of most of the lumps.

Now make the cheesecake mixture. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the four ingredients and beat together with a stand or handheld mixer until light and fluffy. The mixture should be white and light.

To assemble the brownies, place half of the brownie mix in the prepared pan. Place dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top and then cover the mixture with the remaining brownie batter. Try to cover the cream cheese as best as possible. Again, dollop the second half of the cream cheese mixture on top. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the mixture around the top of the brownie to create a pattern.

Bake for 40-50 mins. Mine was in the oven for approximately 41 mins. When a skewer inserted into the edge of the brownies comes out clean and when inserted into the middle of the brownie has moist crumbs stuck to, the brownies are done.

Cool in pan for a few minutes. Place in refrigerator until chilled. These are best served cold. This will take at least three hours. You also need the rather soft cream cheese mixture to set before cutting, otherwise the brownies will split. Make sure the brownies are cold when you cut them!

Eat and enjoy.