Saturday, February 20, 2016

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

So a few days before we left for our trip, I found a great deal on some beautiful zucchini. Obviously, I couldn't resist it and bought some. Now, whenever I see fresh fruit and veg at good prices, I end up buying a bunch. I know I'll eventually figure out what to do with it. For those of you who don't know, that's how I plan my menu. I go by what's in season and what appeals to me on the day I'm shopping. Not very organised, I know, but it works well for me. I like to be surprised. On the day we were leaving, I realised I still had the zucchini and some eggplant. I couldn't leave it till we got back, it just wouldn't last. So I made a beautiful pickle with the eggplant. I will share that recipe soon. With the zucchini I made these muffins. I figured we could just take them with us to snack on.

The muffins are really simple to make. My husband helped with these. Now I have to be honest. We usually work well together in the kitchen. But on this given day, we were trying to get things done quick and there was a little confusion. We ended up using half the quantity of flour that the recipe called for. Fortunately for us, it wasn't a disaster. With extra baking time, the muffins were fine. I would love to try these again with the right measurements. However, the muffins turned out pretty well. They were light and spongy, savoury with a hint of cheese. I might even try using a sharper, vintage cheddar the next time. I was pleasantly surprised when these tasted even better a couple of days later. I can happily report that these muffins keep well for a week refrigerated. When you want to eat them, simply warm them up in the microwave and you've got yourself a nice, little snack.

The recipe I've listed below, is the original one with the right measurements, just incase you'd like to try these out too.

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins
Adapted from: Will Cook for Smiles
Yield: 12 muffins

3 eggs
3/4 cup vegatable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
100g cheddar cheese, grated (30g reserved for topping)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and place muffin liners in the cavities in the pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs, oil and sour cream till combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.

Add the zucchini and mix well.

Add 70g of shredded cheese and whisk till it has evenly combined.

Spoon batter into the muffin pan and top with the reserved 30g of shredded cheese.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffins comes out clean.


If you want to keep these for later, let them cool off completely and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Warm in the microwave when you are ready to eat them. (It lasted us a week. It might've lasted longer, but we got through this batch.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rice Paper, Melbourne - Review

On our recent Road Trip from Sydney to Mornington Peninsula, we spend a day in the Melbourne CBD. While it wasn't nearly enough time to check out the wonders that Melbourne has to offer, it gave us a little peek into what the city centre is. Safe to say, we'll be making a trip straight to Melbourne and live in the city so that we can explore it a little more.

The drive to Melbourne from Rye in the Peninsular was smooth. We hit a little traffic once we got closer to Brighton and St. Kilda, but made it in good time. After wandering around the streets of Melbourne, it was time to pick out a spot to have lunch. There are so many options, it is hard to choose. Initially we were in a part of town which had options, but weren't to interesting. Just when we were ready to settle, we stumbled onto gold, better know as Swanston Street. After checking out the options on the street, which seemed endless, we settled on Rice Paper, specialising in Vietnamese street food. It was a great choice, because my husband and I both love Asian flavours. Oh and this time I remembered to take a few pictures.

Its was really crowded even though we got there at about 2 in the afternoon, but we got seated immediately. The staff were really friendly and on the job. The place seemed very open and airy and I liked that. We were starving after all that walking around, so we decided to try out a few menu options. That wasn't easy. There were so many things I wanted to try.

We simply had to try the rice paper rolls. I mean, come on! that's what they're called! How could we not try them. So we got a couple of prawn rice paper rolls with the spicy hoisin sauce.

The rolls were fresh and tightly packed with succulent prawns, rice vermicelli noodles and fresh greens. We loved the mint leaves in there, it lightened and freshened the rolls up. I would have liked a little more acidity in the sauce though. It was a good thing then that we had also ordered the crab claws.

Now the crab claws themselves, we just okay. I have had better at a takeaway joint on the Gold Coast, QLD (unfortunately I cannot remember the name). But these were crunchy and more importantly came on a bed of gloriously pickled veggies, namely carrot and daikon radish. I absolutely loved the pickled veggies. They were more than just basic pickled vegetables. There was an unmistakable hint of garlic too, which I loved. The dipping sauce was sweet chilly sauce. I preferred this sauce with the rice paper rolls too. But that's probably just me.

For mains, we called for the Saigon Curry Chicken on rice and the Crispy Skin Chicken on rice.

The Saigon Curry Chicken on rice was this big bowl of Chicken curry with succulent pieces of chicken and this was served with some coconut rice. A beautiful combination, one that any curry lover would be very happy with. The curry was also coconut based and perfectly spiced and flavourful.

The Crispy Skin Chicken on rice came with some fresh salad greens, the pickled veggies (Yay!) some sweet chilly dipping sauce and a huge portion of coconut rice topped with some tiny dried, roasted shrimp (I'm pretty sure that's what it was). I personally found the rice a little dry to be eaten just as is. It's a good thing the Saigon Curry Chicken was a generous portion. But that Crispy Skin Chicken was fantastic. Crispy skin as promised with some nice charred, smokey flavour and the meat inside was still moist and flavourful.

We washed all this wonderful food down with a tall glass of Tropical Iced Lychee ...

... and a Tropical Iced Longan

The whole meal cost us $44 bucks. However, I think we overdid it and if we had to opportunity to eat here regularly, we'd probably pace ourselves. That being said, I think it was good value for money. The portions were generous, the food flavourful and the ambience was relaxed. I know I'd go back for sure.

Disclaimer: This post is not a sponsored post. I haven't been compensated for it in cash or kind. This is just a meal we really enjoyed, and all of the comments above, my humble opinion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to make Crepe Paper Flowers - Calla Lilies

After sort of getting over the initial nerves of making my first video tutorial on YouTube, I discovered that I kinda liked it. So I’ve made another one for you. This time it’s Calla Lilies. They’re really cute and very easy to make. I hope you decide to give them a try.

You can check out the video here.

If you want to make some of your own, you can find the template here.

And yeah, feel free to share this videos with your friends and other crafters that might enjoy it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

3-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

A couple of weeks ago, before we left on our holiday, I found myself longing for some home baked treats. There was just one tiny problem - I wanted it right then. Now, anyone who has baked know that yummy, home-baked goodness usually takes a little time and a few ingredients. Given the urgency of the craving, I suddenly thought of something a dear friend of mine (my soul sista, actually) told me about a few months ago. She'd told me about these quick and easy peanut butter cookies that she's whipped up one afternoon for an after-school snack. I knew that's what I was going to try out.

After a little looking, I settled on a recipe that asked for just 3 ingredients. I was SOLD. Yummy cookies with just 3 ingredients - I couldn't wait to try them out. Making the cookie dough was super easy and after a few minutes in the oven, I had a pile of little cookies. I split the dough and to half of it I added a fourth ingredient - some chocolate chips. You don't have to do this, but who can resist a little chocolate. With this cookie you get a little sweet and a little salty. If you are going to use some crunchy peanut butter like I did, you'll have a few small pieces of nuts in there too. I love having a quick and easy recipe like this one in my arsenal. I would, however, cut down the sugar in this recipe the next time I make them. I did find them a little too sweet for my taste. I'd probably drop it to 3/4 of a cup the next time and take it from there. The recipe below has the original quantities.

3-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe from: KitchMe
Yields:18-20 depending on size

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 170ºC.

Mix the peanut butter, sugar and egg till smooth.

At this stage, if you'd like to add chocolate chips to some, or all of the dough, you can do so.

Portion out and roll into balls. I just use my hands for this.

Press down lightly with a fork. The tines of the fork give you a criss cross pattern. You could either press down just once to give you some lines across the cookie or turn the cookie a little and press the fork down again to get a chequered pattern.

Place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Don't let it overbake or brown it off too much.


Lakes Bakery Review @ Lakes Entrance, VIC

I have a secret to share with you! I think I've found the best meat pie's in all of Australia.

For those of you who aren't from this part of the world, you should know, meat pie's are serious business. There are a lot of places that sell them, but they don't all taste good. Heck, some of them have no taste at all. I've had a few pie's since I got here. I bought some of the store bought frozen ones that you bake at home and they taste okay, but who knows what kind of nasties are in them. I've also tried the meat pies at Heatherbrae's, QLD (en-route to the Gold Coast), and I loved their pastry but found their filling lacking in flavour. I've also had some at coffee shops around the place and at Pie Face, but they were all pretty average. I'm waiting to try making them from scratch at home and see how they turn out. But that's not what today's post is about.

Very recently my husband and I drove from Sydney to Melbourne and back. I will post more about the trip later. But on our way from Merimbula to Mornington Peninsula, via the coastal road, we passed through Lakes Entrance in Victoria. We must've stopped there for about an hour, maybe less, but what we saw in that hour was gorgeous. If you haven't been to Lakes Entrance, here are some glimpses.

The beach was stunning. Its a shame we couldn't spend any more time there.

Now, it's probably just me, but a few hours stuck in the car had my brain fogged up a bit and I didn't get pictures of the pies and the sandwich we ordered, but I did get a glimpse of the place for you. In the heart of town, just opposite the waterfront, is this quaint looking shop, that from the outside, doesn't look overly special.

When we passed by it the first time, I had a feeling it would be worth the visit. So after checking out a few other not so interesting options, I decided to come back to this little bakery, called The Lakes Bakery. Seriously ... best decision ever. We ordered for a Steak & Onion Pie, a Burgundy Beef Pie and a Chicken Delight Sandwich.

The pies were out of this world. The pastry was perfect and the fillings were flavourful and just simply delicious. I couldn't believe it but I was very happy we stopped there for lunch. Both the pies were amazing and while I was looking around at their other goodies I realised that on the window, in big letters, the fact that their Pies were award winning. No surprise there at all. Now on to the sandwich, a humble chicken sandwich, lightly toasted. Again one of the best sandwiches I have every eaten. The tops of the sandwich were lightly seasoned with chives  and it took this sandwich from being pretty darn good to out of this world. Right from the bread to the filling, everything was perfect... and believe me, I am very hard to please (atleast where food is concerned). I just wish I had remembered to take some pictures.

The prices were fairly reasonable too. The pies were around $4-$4.50 a piece, the sausage rolls (which we didn't try) were $3 and the sandwich was about $10 (not too sure about this one). I was very happy with the pricing. It was really good value for money. Here's what their hot shelf full of pies and sausage rolls looked like.

So do me a favour and if any of you every visit the area, do stop by and check them out for yourself. You can thank me later ;)

Disclaimer: I haven't been compensated for this post. I'm just sharing a great find. All the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A new first around here - Crepe Paper Flowers Tutorial - Buttercups

It's been ages since I posted about anything crafty. But I will today. I have been wanting to do something like this for ages, but something or the other has always come in the way. I'm happy to report that finally, FINALLY, I took the plunge and posted my very first You Tube tutorial. Yikes! I still can't believe I've done it. My first video is a tutorial on how to make these beautiful paper Buttercups.

You can see the video here.

If you'd like to play along, you can use this template.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this attempt. Of course, feel free to share this video with your friends and I'd love to see what you create.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

SRC: Dutch Baby Oven Pancake with fresh berries

Yay for the first SRC reveal of 2016! Even though we just had a teeny tiny month off from SRC to enjoy the holidays and spend time with family, I must admit I've missed and an am happy to be back in the swing of things. For my first assignment for the year, I had the absolute pleasure of perusing Dorothy's blog, Shockingly Delicious. I was so excited with this assignment. I've been a big admirer of Dorothy's blog ever since I first set eyes on it. She has one of those blogs where you want to make everything you see. Which tells you what a task picking out a recipe for this months reveal was. With great difficulty I finally narrowed my picks down to these beauties - Almond Polenta Cake, Irish Elephant Ears and a delicious looking sesame dressing. Now, those of you who don't know Dorothy, she has also been called the "Pie Lady of Malibu" and with good reason. She has won 23 ribbons at the Malibu Pie Contest in all among other accolades. Check out her award winning recipes here. I have bookmarked her recipe for a pie called The Bob and Andy Pie, a curiously named pie that looks pretty darn good. I was tossing between the pie and her Dutch Baby Oven pancakes and in the end, by a very short margin, the oven baked pancakes won.

Truth be told, I've been waiting for the opportunity to try out the Dutch Baby Oven pancakes and this was the perfect time. I love my pancakes and was eager to check out this version that bakes in the oven and you just cut it up and serve with your favourite things. This time around I had to use fresh berries which are at their prime at the moment. Where do I start with this recipe! It is super simple to put together and the flavour is phenomenal. It is like no other pancake I have tasted. I loved the flavour of the nutmeg and the vanilla in the batter. And do not leave out the fresh fruit. It really adds to the taste and the whole experience. I used fresh berries because they are gorgeous and in season. You could use whatever fruit you like and is in season and I'm sure it will turn out fabulous. Thank you Dorothy for a fantastic recipe!

I halved the recipe and it was pretty good for breakfast for 2. The amounts mentioned below serves 2.

Dutch Baby Oven Pancake

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1/8 cup butter

For the toppings - 
Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Maple Syrup

Heat the oven to 245ºC.

Place an 8" pan in the oven to heat up for about 5 minutes.

Place the butter in the pan and let it melt, till foamy.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk up the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.

Add the flour and whisk till combined.

When the butter is foamy, carefully take the pan out of the oven and swirl the butter around to coat the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the pancake batter and bake for 20 minutes.

Sit back and be amazed as the sides rise up first, followed by the centre. This will deflate after you take it out of the oven and cut into it.

Serve up with berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

I think some good greek yogurt would also do well with fruit or you could stick with some fruit and sprinkle some icing sugar over the top.


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