Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE BARK

I know it isn't even December yet but I figure it's best to share Christmas ideas early on in the piece because we all know that getting organised at the last-minute is the pits. Unless you're me and the adrenalin spike gives you all these super powers you never knew you had. I stand by this as the reason I never truly begin any major assignments until a few days before it's due. Anyway, I figure this recipe I adapted from Bree at Baked Bree might suit the last-minute food preparers of the world, too. It's quick and simple, only has four ingredients and looks impressively festive. Perfect as a little something to give yourself in copious amounts your friends, colleagues or neighbours at this time of year. Convinced? Let's begin, then.

You will need:

1 Pack Dark Cooking Chocolate
1 Pack White Cooking Chocolate
Rice Bubbles (Rice Krispies to the rest of the world)
Christmas (Green and Red) M&M's

Start by melting your dark chocolate either in a bain-marie or in the microwave. 


Once it's melted completely, spread it thinly over a tray lined with baking paper then sprinkle generously with Rice Bubbles and put in the fridge to cool.





Now, melt your white chocolate. Once it's ready, pour over the dark chocolate, spread evenly then sprinkle with M&M's. Pop it back in the fridge so it hardens. This should take 30-45 minutes.





Once it's rock hard, break it into shards using a knife, or your hands if it isn't too thick.


Take a quiet moment with a cup of coffee and enjoy some for yourself before you let anyone else know what you've just concocted. Be warned: once you bring this baby out, there'll be more gobbling going on in your house than if you'd invited in a rafter of Christmas Turkeys!




CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR HIM AND HER

Waterproof mp3 case from Aquapac / Phigvel Key Holder from Hickorees / Overnight Bag from Oroton /Remote Control Helicopter with Camera from Totally Controlled / Dunhill Bulldog Cufflinks from Wheelers Luxury Gifts / Book from Bookworld / Training Watch from Garmin / Thermal Battery Mug from Fab / Tee and Chinos from Witchery




Marilyn Strawberry Shortcake Apron from Flirty Aprons / Weighted Hula Hoop from Fithoop / Refillable Perfume Atomisers from Travalo / Straightener from GHD / Cashmere Sweater from Banjo and Matilda / Hat from Sportsgirl / Bulldog Tealight Holder from Sportsgirl / Book from Portmans / Hadley Pro Camera Bag from Billingham / Monogram Mug from Anthropologie / Sonic Cleanser from Clarisonic / Scented Candle from Witchery

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DELICIOUS SKINNY LASAGNE


I have just discovered the awesome blog of the glamorous "footballer's wife" Caroline Berg Eriksen. Though it's written in Norwegian, I still love checking out all the pretty pictures of this girl's life - her perfect outfits, charming home and especially all the delicious healthy recipes she shares with her readers. Thanks to Google Translate, I am able to read and recreate some of these recipes myself. Last night I made a low carb, low calorie, gluten-free and insanely tasty lasagna that she had shared on her blog. Here's what you'll need to make it yourself:

500g lean pork mince (tasty AND lower in calories than beef)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tin crushed tomatoes OR 2 small tins tomato paste
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
Salt & Pepper
2-3 zucchini, sliced thinly (I used a wide peeler)
2-3 tubs cottage cheese

Start with the zucchini. To avoid too much water in the cooked lasagna, either roast/boil it first or salt it and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before wiping off any water that forms on the surface.

On a medium heat, fry onions and garlic in olive oil before adding the pork mince. Once it is browned, add the tomatoes, stock cube, herbs and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated. If you are in a hurry, use tomato paste instead and you won't need to let it simmer much at all. You can turn on the oven now to 200°C.

Then, spoon some of the mince onto the bottom of a baking dish. Then add a layer of zucchini, followed by the cottage cheese. Repeat until you're satisfied and finish with a cottage cheese top (grated cheese is fine if you'd prefer). Sprinkle with herbs then pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Once it's out of the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.





Important note: When I made this last night, I didn't pre-cook or salt my zucchini. As you can see by my pictures, the pork mixture still has quite a bit of liquid in it before going in the oven - a hangover from my days making lasagna with pasta sheets, where liquid was necessary in cooking the pasta! These two factors meant my final product ended up with excess liquid (it was still bloomin' delicious though) but if, unlike me, you follow the recipe properly, you'll end up with a perfect result!

Monday, November 26, 2012

CHEAP & COSY

I had been looking all over for some cuffed tracksuit shorts but wasn't having much luck in the major sports stores. I ended up finding these babies in Target, of all places! They're so comfy and cute so, as I always do, I ended up buying two pairs. At just $17.50 a pair, it was a well-justified purchase, considering most brand name ones would cost me at least three times that much. What do you think?




Sunday, November 25, 2012

LOW CARB BURGERS

One of hardest parts of switching to either low-carb or gluten free eating is giving up bread. I hear people say it all the time and I myself even get the bread deprivation blues. I can't tolerate wheat and eat low carb in order to keep myself in shape, so gluten free breads are out of the question for me as well. Sad face. I didn't believe it when I read about a totally low carb, high protein and gluten free recipe for burger buns. How was a burger bun made using no flour at all was supposed to taste good and, importantly, hold together even when stuffed with meat, salad and sauce? Turns out I was 100% wrong. These buns are everything you need them to be - tasty, unlikely to go soggy and unbelievably good for you! To make 4 burgers, you will need:

Burger Buns:

6 eggs
200g Philadelphia Cream Cheese (light version is OK)
1 tbsp Psyllium Husk
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp Flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder
Dried herbs (I used an Italian mix, you could use oregano, rosemary etc)
Sesame seeds

Amazing Burger Sauce:

4 tsp good quality mayonnaise 
2 tsp ketchup
2 tsp smokey barbecue sauce

Burgers - you can make your own or just buy pre-made like I did

Cheese and Salads of your choice - I went with Jarlsberg, tomato, lettuce, red onions and sliced gherkins.

First, preheat your oven to 200C and line a large tray with baking paper. Then, separate your eggs carefully: whites in one large bowl, yolks in the other.


Starting with the yolks, whisk well then mix in the cream cheese, psyllium husks and salt 'til mixture is smooth. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then pour the yolk mix into the bowl with the whites.


Now add the baking powder and flaxseeds. Using a spatula, gently fold together the two mixtures and allow the batter to sit for a few minutes so the fibre swells properly.


Divide mixture into 8 portions and spoon onto trays. Sprinkle with herbs and sesame seeds then bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.


While they are in the oven, start cooking your burgers:


When the burgers are done, pop cheese on top and let it melt  before you take the burgers off the BBQ. Take your "bread" out of the oven (it should be well browned by now)...

Then: stack!


Eat and enjoy. Zero guilt guaranteed!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

KINGS CROSS FESTIVAL

This week has been a very exciting one for the Eastern suburbs. Wednesday marked the beginning of the inaugural Kings Cross Festival, a festival to celebrate the character of 'The Cross'. We set off for walkies with Elsa and stopped by for some grub and entertainment.









 Everything jumped out at us so it was hard to make a choice. I settled on a coconut, mango and banana smoothie and paella, James had a bratwurst.



Over brunch, we enjoyed some fantastic cover artists and comedians. The seats started filling up very quickly as midday ticked by, with tonnes of people lining up for food and soaking up the sun like we did.


Elsa wasn't the only Chihuahua enjoying the festivities...


We took a stroll down to the water at Beare Park after lunch. There was supposed to be a doggie dress up contest at a community picnic that was part of the festival but we think we got there too early. Never mind, Elsa didn't have a costume anyway. She was more than happy to pose with us...




We continued along to Rushcutter's Bay before heading home so Elsa could eat her lunch.




She's currently sleeping but if she wakes up soon, we'll likely head back down to the festival to catch some more live music and sunshine. 

You should know there is HEAPS of stuff going on today and tomorrow (the festival's final day), such as: walking tours that take you on a journey into the X's seedy past, pop-up-shops, awesome music acts (such as Sneaky Sound System) playing in local venues, special culinary events and even groovy stuff like Flamenco dancing and storytelling events. Don't miss out! For more, click here or simply turn up to the main drag, grab a festival guide and take it from there!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 23, 2012

THE BEST SCENTED CANDLES - COTE NOIRE








I never used to buy scented candles because they rarely delivered what they promised. The wax itself smelled lovely if I put my nose right up close to it but once I let them burn, they wouldn't let off any fragrance at all. I had decided they were a waste of money and stuck to burning fragrant oils instead. 

Lately, I have been lucky enough to find candles that fill my home with the most intoxicating and exotic aromas. These candles from Cote Noire make my house smell like a French parfumerie and the packaging itself is beautiful enough to be displayed around the home. I found them at Bed Bath & Table for $19.95 each - very reasonable! As well as their gorgeous candle range, Cote Noire also does bath, body and other home fragrance products. You will be able to find your nearest Cote Noire stockists here (Europe) and here (Australia).