Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cheese, cheese and more cheese!!

How good does that look?? Doesn't it just make you want to dive in an see whats underneath that golden top layer!!

Ok getting a bit ahead of myself here, we ended up going to Mum and Dad's on Wed night because on Tues night I came home from work and OH was asleep on the couch with a severe case of man flu (this is starting to become a weekly event!). I love going to Mum and Dad's for tea because no matter what Mum makes, it reminds me of home. I love my Mum's potato bake, her pumpkin soup, her chow mein, her vegetarian curried sausages, even her suprise quiche's are always delicious. My Dad doesn't cook alot but he does a mean bbq, a heavenly chocolate mocha pudding and he can whip up any flavour loaf of bread you want...just don't ask him to make your sandwiches for school. And lately Mum has been going all out, trying to cook something new and different when we go there for tea, and if you have been reading this blog you will know that my Mum is a basic meals kinda person, chicken and vegies, quiche and vegies, so seeing her cook all this new and different stuff and the look on her face when she conquers a new dish, I am very proud of her! I also love having my Mum and Dad up here for dinner because I like the opportunity to try new vegetarian dishes and I don't know I spose I want to see them enjoying something that I cooked if that made sense? But really I just like spending the time with them, it's nice to know that once a week no matter what they will come here or we will go there.

Anyway, slightly off topic, last night we walked into a flurry of activity in Mum and Dad's kitchen and were swiftly told to remove ourselves to the dining room so we didn't see what was being made. Whatever it was it smelt delicious and I was starving when it came out. I soon found out it was Baked Ricotta and Fetta with Roast Vegetables...pretty much exactly what it says it is, ricotta and fetta combined with some roasted eggplant and capsicum (but you could use any roast vegies) baked in the oven for 20-30 mins or until the top is a beautiful golden colour. Then you can top with some grated cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes and put back in the oven until the cheese is all melty and fantastic. You can serve it in little ramekins or you can make it in one big dish as above and serve it like this:

Did I or did I not say it looked awesome! And my Mum is working on her portion sizes and the amount of cheese she puts on things because I have been trying to lose weight and because Dad has an obsession with checking the fat content on everything, I know that hasn't been easy for her, but she has come a long way! Anyway, off topic again, we had this with a pizza base drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and topped with some cheese before being baked in the oven. You could also use pita bread or pita crisps or just nice crusty bread because you really need something to scoop up all that baked cheesy goodness.

After dinner the boys retreated to the lounge room to indulge in some tv and car magazines while Mum and I gossiped away in the kitchen. They also let me borrow their bread maker whilst I was there and I am really looking forward to trying it out over the weekend. Plus we got some cadbury coconut rough chocolate for the road : ) Mum and Dad have always had a tupperware container full of various fun size chocolates and blocks of chocolate as long as I can remember. Often for dessert Mum would get a block of chocolate and give us a few pieces each before putting it away again...oh i loved that chocolate container - the only problem was she always knows exactly whats in it so you can't pinch anything! Which reminds me, next time I'm there I will take a photo of Mum's chocolate jar for won't believe it.

So tomorrow we will have an update on the Sweet and Sour Meatballs that OH is currently cooking in the kitchen (the recipe is suspiciously similar to the Ragu he cooked last week but with sweet and sour sauce lol but it smells fantastic) and hopefully maybe...all things going to first loaf of bread!!

Em x

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Madness and Mountain Bread Lasagne!

This morning was not a happy monday. I was so tired. I don't know why but I have never slept well on a Sunday night, possibly because i don't want the weekend to be over or because I know that if I do fall asleep the next thing I will see is Monday morning, but either way Sunday nights are frustrating and Monday mornings are painful. The weekend was not too bad, nothing highly exciting but I got the house work done, got the majority of my stock on ebay, made a meat lasagne (for OH) and a vegie lasagne (for me) for Mon and Wed night's tea and we had OH's mother, sister and two year old nephew around for a roast last night. So all in all not too bad really.

Anyway I had today pegged for being boring and miserable, and whilst work was lacking I still managed to find several highlights in the day.

First of which being my brekkie:

Yesterday I stewed some apples (heaps easier then I thought....not really sure what I thought it involved but still it was so easy!) and this morning I heated them up in the microwave then poured a tub of vanilla yoghurt over them and it was devine. Possibly my new favourite breakfast!

Second of which being this pair of TUK shoes that I found, lil skulls and cupcakes, adorable, cute, sexy, I am in love...they will be mine!!!

And when I got home my cupcake toppers for the RSPCA Cupcake Day had arrived, here is a selection of what I got:

I am making them for my work, my partner's work and both my parent's workplaces so I figured the trucks and tools for OH and Dad, the flowers, shoes, handbags and teapots for Mum (she is a nurse) and I will just do chocolates and oreos for my work I think....not sure the guys I work with can be trusted with lil plastic picks.

And last but certainly not least:

My Meat Lover's Mountain Bread Lasagne

My Vegetarian Mountain Bread Lasagne

Now traditional meat lasagne is dead easy, mince, bolognese sauce, bechamel sauce, mountain bread / lasagne sheets and cheese....I love this version of lasagne but OH has a real thing for cheese and bechamel so every now and then I make him one drenched in all his favourite things and I make myself a vegie one. This was the first time I had tried it with mountain bread and it was a massive success, saved on calories and still delicious :) So here is the recipe for my Vegetarian Lasagne:

Vegetarian Lasagne

6 sheets mountain bread
500g Button Mushies (sliced)
4 x Zucchini (sliced)
4 x Carrot (sliced)
1 pkt Baby Spinach
1 x Red Capsicum (diced)
1 x Green Capsicum (diced)
1 x Onion
2 x tins Diced tomatoes
Basil and Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Grated Cheese
Bechamel if desired.

Heat oven to 180C (fan forced).
Meanwhile place onion in fry pan and cook for 2-3 mins.
Add zucchini, carrot and capsicum, cooking for 8-10 mins or until carrot begins to soften.
Add diced tomatoes and season with basil and garlic to taste.
Simmer for 10 mins. Stir through spinach.
In a baking dish layer mountain bread and vegetables, finishing with mountain bread. Top with bechamel (if desired) and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 15-20 mins or until cheese is golden brown.

I made half this recipe and it turned out to be 2 massive serves - but still only about 370 cals per serve (or 3 reasonable serves) so you may get 4 generous serves or 6 light serves from this one.

After work tonight I had a good half hour work out on the pole and my arms are sore, my legs are aching and I feel fantabulous for it :)

Hope everyone else survived manic Monday!

Tomorrow night we are going to my parent's for dinner, so the menu is a mystery but there will be photos!

Em x

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shoe Porn....and Curry Chicken Crepes!

Well it is Saturday afternoon and I am sitting on my couch, heat pump blasting, rugged up in two doonas, nursing a cup of tea for warmth and enjoying that satisfied full belly feeling from a delicious salad roll.

I told OH I was going to stay inside and work this afternoon, get my Ebay stuff done once and for far I have spent two hours on facebook and ebay....nevermind.

As long as I can remember I have never been a real girly girl, I am not fussed by make up and the latest trends and spending 3 hours doing my hair every morning. But my one downfall / weakness / love is shoes. High heel shoes make my world go round. I can walk, run, dance and do just about anything in high heels, but put me in flats and I will fall flat on my face. I have been fascinated and obsessed by them since I was little so I thought today I would share with you some of my favourites in my current collection!

The first pair of heels I ever brought. I got them on a family holiday to Melbourne when I was about 14 and I refused to take them off for the rest of the weekend even though I couldn't really walk in them and the pain was ridiculous. I can't bring myself to get rid of them.

I brought this pair a few weeks ago, suede purple heels...once I saw them I just couldn't put them down, always nice to add a bit of colour to your outfit!

I brought these ones with the purple suede ones. I found them both at a sale...two pairs for $50....I am always looking for a good bargain, especially when it comes to shoes! Anyway this pair are black patent leather, gorgeous kitten heel, it's hard not to feel sexy in these!

Now what's next...ohhh my first pair of Pleaser shoes. I came across this brand a few years ago and spent hours going through the catalogues trying to decide which two pairs to order. This pair may look high and like you would be tottering along all night, but I find the strap around the ankle means you can run and do just about anything in these!

This was the second pair of Pleaser shoes I brought, I couldn't go past these gorgeous black and red patent corseted shoes. The first time I wore them was to a rockabilly car show and I was there with my parents. After an hour of walking around I was leaning on my Dad so much he ended up carrying me back to the I can walk in them no worries, but that first day left me crippled for a week! Dad always shakes his head when he sees the shoes I buy, but after the first few wears they usually fit like a glove (or a shoe!)

Now oohhhh these are my bridesmaid shoes, I knew they were perfect as soon as I saw them...they are purple silk with an overlay of black lace. My bridal shoes are the same but with cream silk underneath.

And I couldn't write an entry on my favourite shoes without mentioning my favourite pair of socks!!!

And last but not least, last night's curry chicken crepes. I just mixed some curry paste with some greek yoghurt - I haven't tried yoghurt in a home made curry before and it was delicious! - some onion, green beans and spinach...ohh and chicken! Then put the mixture in some crepes, it was soooo yummy and filling! Definetly keeping that one on the menu rotation!

OK enough stalling, back to work!!

Hope you are all having a good weekend!

Em x

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Day Off Work....And Finally - The Cupcake Shop Saga!

My god....I woke up today at 6am when OH left for work....I subsequently called in sick (potential for head to explode if I went to work, plus had lots of work to do on my Ebay store and several batches of cupcakes to make and decorate). Feeling quite happy and suprisingly full of energy for that hour of the morning, I decided to get up and make the most of it because honestly I can not remember the last time I was even awake at that hour. Turned on the radio, had a bit of a dance around the house (my favourite way to start the day!) and a few spins on the new pole (novelty still there!) and headed out to make my first cupcake delivery. Then I came home and sat down to finally finally finally put the rest of my jewellery on Ebay. I have been making and selling jewellery for a few years now and I have an ebay store (Sorry for the blatant advertising!) where I sell most of it between car shows and markets. The only problem is it takes so long to put all of it on ebay, once it's done it's easy because you just keep re-listing the ads, but it's just that initial outlay of work that can be tedious, not to mention finding the time to do it....with my old laptop it was taking up to 4 hours just to put 7 ads up...not cool, low and behold with the new laptop though I had done 20 ads before lunch and was mighty impressed with it. I had even sold my old laptop, listed it as being broken and only good for parts and someone offered to buy it straight away for 5 times my asking price! Very very odd, but spose it would be good for pulling apart and....doing technical stuff with!? Anyway, baked and decorated 4 batches of cupcakes to be delivered tomorrow...consumed far too much frosting and felt ill so went for a lovely stroll with OH when he got home from work which helped but still have that icky consumed too much sugar feeling. Drinking heaps of water to combat it though! I think I am going to have to do something like make sure I have a mouth full of chewing gum next time I make them because frosting appears to be my weakness and it just makes me feel rubbish.

And now OH is making salt and pepper chicken with a parmigiana sauce and roast vegies for tea while I am sitting on the couch typing this up and I am dead tired, such a fantastic day off though, didn't get all my stock up, but more then half of it. Not keen on going to work tomorrow, but sometimes you just have to don't you. I am so over my job at the moment. A few weeks ago they handed out a bunch of redundancies and just the way they went about it, I have lost all respect and motivation for the place. And all the cupcakes I'm making at the moment is just making me realise I don't wanna work in an office, I wanna DO something like something creative or something worthwhile, just something that doesn't involve being stuck in an office all day doing mind numbing paper work. I am too young to have a mid life crisis, but I definetly feel like I'm in the middle of one, I have felt like a little old lady stuck in a rut at the ripe old age of 24, like I'm slowly dying and losing my brain cells and my enthusiasm and watching my life disappear before me. I know the wedding should be something to look forward to, but it's only one day, it's going to be a fantastic one but after it's done I'm still gonna be me and it's time to make some big changes because this is the only life I've got and I intend on living it.

Now, the cupcake shop saga.....

Roughly this time last year a specialty cupcake store opened up in Hobart, for the first few months they were selling out by 1pm every day and the line was always massive, there was a massive novelty factor because let's be honet we don't even have Krispy Kreme down here and we only just got Cold Rock! Anyway, the shop was doing brilliantly. But in January this year it went up for sale....and it's still for sale but the price has dropped considerably because they need to get out. To me, it sounds cheap and like a fantastic opportunity, but it does need some serious changes. At the moment the cupcakes are brought from a supplier and delivered each morning, then decorated and put up for sale. And from what I can gather the general opinion is that the cakes themselves are not brilliant and that they are over decorated. I would like to change it up abit, make the cupcakes myself, decorate them myself in a simpler but still fun and elegant style. I'd also like to bring in a wider range, I know it's a specialty cupcake store but eventually the novelty will wear off and I think you need to sell other things like brownies and slices and fudges to keep it going and expanding your services to do personalised orders. Anyway I showed the information given to me by the real estate firm to the accountant at work and he gave me a list of queries to go back with. I am not sure now though, I mean it sounds like a brilliant opportunity and something I would love, but it also sounds like it might be quite difficult to keep your head above water. Just have to wait and see what the real estate comes back with. I mean I'd love to work hard and I'd love to be independant and work for myself and do something that makes other people smile, but there is a big chance of failure too.

If nothing else though it has shown me that I do have passion buried deep down within me somewhere and it's most definetly been ignited. Part of me also thinks that maybe rather then dive head first into a busy shop I should start small and make up some posters to put up at the Fun Factory and Kidz Biz and the workplaces of my friends and family, advertising catering for events like kids parties, high teas, kitchen teas, morning teas and specialty orders and take it from there....I don't know, do you guys think there would be a market for that sort of thing?

In reality what I would love is a retail store / cafe where I can sell my jewellery and some rockabilly, vintage, burlesque style clothing and accessories and have an old fashioned milk bar style counter where I can serve old fashioned homemade sweet and savoury goods - just simple but delicious food. I am aware that I need to work hard and work towards it and that I still have alot to learn, I know it's not just going to magically appear before me tomorrow fully funded for the rest of it's life...but I think it's a challenge I'm willing to take on.

Ok enough rambling, time for some photos!!

Some cute lil vanilla buttermilk cupcakes I made for OH's lunches. Simple but sweet, plus I wanted an excuse to use my new star sprinkles...he really loves being my test bunny!

Oh my god...this was the finished product tonight, salt and pepper chicken, parmigiana sauce, lil potato hearts (so very cute..and tasty! He is a good man xx) and roast potato and carrots....nom nom nom soooooooooooo delicious.

Next on the list is these Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with lindt chocolate. I had red icing left over from the St Kilda ones so I used that and topped it with a milk chocolate lindt ball....mmmm lindt....they nearly didn't make it to the cupcakes, if they had been white lindt balls they definetly wouldn't have survived!!

Also some ferrero rocher cupcakes. Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and a Ferrero Rocher to top it much temptation in today's baking session!

And finally my proudest moment of the day! St Kilda Cupcakes! I have been so worried about these, they were a special request from someone I work with and St Kilda is an AFL team with the colours red, white and black on their jumper. Soooo I decided to do the red, white and black stripes as per the jumper but was a bit worried about the colours blending and what not but I was very happy with the final results!

Sorry for such an epic blog and for rambling!

Tomorrow...Happy Friday and Curry Chicken Crepes! My god I should write about something other then food over the weekend too, maybe some pics of my shoe collection!!

Em x

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boy got skills....

Last night was stupid busy. Like you know when you get so busy you feel like your head just can't take anymore? That has been my week and I think I am just going to have tomorrow off and spend the day working on my Ebay store and listing the rest of my stock coz I never have time to do it and it takes like a whole day and I think I need to be away from my regular job for a day just to let my head return to normal.

Anyway OH picked me up from work yesterday and we went to buy a new laptop, I'm easy pleased, as long as it gets on the net, I can upload pics, listen to music and use word and excel thats all I need, el cheapo laptop here I come. Once confronted with all the shiny lil toys OH decides he needs his own laptop for 'work'.....or more to the point so when he works away (grand total of maybe 4 weeks a year) he can watch dvd's while the other boys go to the pub....the thought in itself of him sitting in his lil room on his own while the other boys are at the pub is hilarious...and never going to happen, but he wanted it right or wrong so 2 el cheapo laptops were now on the menu. I got really short and cranky with the salesman because he kept trying to sell us the next one up and I thought he would have been happy that we were buying two in the first place, not trying to see us one cheap one and one ridiculously expensive one! Nevermind, an hour later OH had gone home (couldn't be bothered waiting) so I walked out with two brand new laptops...and about 15mins to get to my last pole class which was about 20mins drive through peak hour traffic. Mind you peak hour traffic in Hobart is not bad, it's bad for Tassie, but it's not bad compared to places like Melbourne and Sydney. Made it to pole and our last class was fantastic and whilst I didn't manage to conquer hanging upside down off the pole (had terrible images of landing on my head) I now have my very own at home all set up in the spare room to continue practising on. So once I do conquer scary potentially landing on head move, I can go back and do the Intermediate classes.

I got home at about 7:30pm, starving because of the work out I'd had in class and because we normally eat at 6ish and as soon as I got out of the car I could smell the delicious scent of dinner. It is only recently that OH has started cooking regularly. We were having a big discussion one day about the state of our relationship which led to several changes, one being that at least once a week he cooks a meal of his choosing. I must say I am loving it, he is so happy and so proud of himself when he cooks something great and it takes some of the pressure off me. I love cooking but seven nights a week plus baking for lunches is just too much some weeks. Back onto the subject last night OH made a Beef Ragu and it was brilliant. Lil tiny seasoned meatballs cooked in a tomato and vegetable sauce, and we served it with some mash, but could be served with rice or pasta. It was delicious, the tomato base had some carrot, celery and potato in it, all of which were soft and tender, the meatballs were only seasoned with salt and cracked pepper but they packed a punch and soaked up the flavour from the sauce. I can't wait to have the leftovers tonight! One small problem is that I was so excited to try it I didn't remember to take photos until my bowl was clean and there was only the bowls of leftovers for tonight, so imagine the below picture with a big scoop of fluffy mashed spud and you'll get the idea!

I know I said I would write about the potential of me buying a cupcake shop but I so do not have time tonight, I have 4 batches of cupcakes to make tonight and one of them has to be St Kilda themed! But I promise I will fill you in tomorrow : )

Em x

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Red Velvet Heaven...and Roast Vegie Risotto!

Ok so I am experiencing some technical problems at the moment. Namely that my laptop not just had a hissy fit, but full on died. Really not happy about this because it had a hissy fit about a month ago and I was without it for a week...and half my bank account to get it repaired...and now it just up and dies...highly inconsiderate if you ask me. So anyway, my point is that I have been without my laptop since Sunday. Not only did I have to go to a book store and write down the recipe for the Red Velvet Cupcakes I wanted to make, but then I couldn't write about how fantastic they came out and I seriously considered not writing at all until I had a new laptop because I can't upload photos on my work computer and I'm really disappointed about it but here I am...I will upload photos as soon as I can I promise. (Edit: New computer, photos are now added!! YAY!!)

Anyway so on Sunday I had my first attempt at Red Velvet Cupcakes. I have been wanting to try them for ages, but upon reading the recipe I was a little concerned about how they would come out, I have never used buttermilk and the recipe had white vinegar in it so I just wasn't sure on the flavour. But anyway everything was going well, then the recipe said to mix the cocoa and red food dye to make a food dye just kinda disappeared into the cocoa never to be seen I added more...and more...but same problem, anyway eventually I just added it all to the creamed butter and sugar and eggs and OH MY GOD did it go red was so very cool, I may have done a bit of squealing and a happy dance and woke my partner from his nap just to come see how cool it looked :) Anyway, moving on, put them in the oven and pretty much sat on the floor waiting for them to come out (excited much!?) and when they did, there was another happy dance and some giggling, they were just so bright! I have to admit I even got the giggles when I was doing the washing up and the dye turned my sink full of water red (I am easily amused) I let them cool down and then decided I wanted to try one of my swirly piping nozzles out because I have only used the lil thin one before. It took a bit of getting used to but the swirls ended up looking alright for a first time and then I finished them off with a mini oreo...those things are just a cupcake decorator's dream! Hold on...had a thought, maybe I can upload a photo off my phone... (Edit: New computer...hooray!! Will now upload real photos!!)

I am officially in love with red velvet.

Now onto the risotto....ohhhhhh the risotto...I would make it again tonight if I could. I was thinking yesterday that with just the pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum and red onion the risotto might need a bit of extra flavour so I brought some little cherry tomatoes to add to it for some sweetness. Now keeping in mind the risotto I made last week was baked in the oven, easy...this one on the other hand was all stove tops and watching and adding liquid if it needed it....yikes. Although I was tempted to just chuck it all in a dish in the oven, I resisted and made it as per the recipe. To start with you chop up all the vegies and put them in an oven dish with some oil, then you let them roast for about 1/2 hour or until they are done really. Meanwhile you get your arborio rice and your stock and bung it in a pot and let it cook....but I have to say that I had to add a hell of alot more stock then the recipe called for, had a bit of a panic because I thought I added too much water at one point but after some serious stirring it magically disappeared and the risotto was cooked to were the vegies by this point. Throw in some spinach and some basil at the end, stir it all together and voila! A damn good roast vegie risotto that even my meat devouring OH thought was fantastic (that is a big call coming from him, especially when it's about a vegetarian dish!) And seeing as I didn't add cheese or garnish it was parmesan, it was really low calorie, even better then the one I made last week!

How about I give you the recipe so you can make it for yourself! Would also be a good way to use up left over roast vegies!

Roast Vegetable Risotto

300g Pumpkin (cubed)
1 x Red Onion (cut into sections)
1 x Red Capsicum (cubed)
1 x Zucchini (sliced)
250g Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
2 tbspns oil
2 x cups Arborio Rice
2-4 cups Chicken Stock
50g Baby Spinach

Add your chopped vegies to a baking dish and toss through oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 180C (fan forced) for 30 mins or until pumpkin is tender.

Add your arborio rice to a large heavy based pan, add stock 2 cups of stock and bring to the boil, constantly stirring. You may need to add more stock now, I needed the whole 4 cups in mine. Continue stirring until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove vegies from oven and stir through rice.

Stir through spinach and top with crumbled fetta or shaved parmesan if you desire.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm you know this risotto was so good I didn't want dessert last night because my taste buds were 100% satisfied! Although I did give in later and let OH make me a Malibu Hot Chocolate...delicious...had them at a restaurant a few months ago, made with melted chocolate, cream and malibu, was heaven. But at home we have the low cal version and use a Jarrah Hot Chocolate sachet with a smidgen of milk and a shot of malibu, still fantastic but alot nicer to the waist line!

I have my last pole dancing class tonight so OH is cooking Beef Ragu with Mash....I am always starving after class so I am hanging out to get home to a house full of cooking smells, a big plate of yummy tea, oh and a hug of course! Plus the last bits of my pole arrived today so hopefully OH has that up by the time I get home!

Tomorrow...tonight's Beef Ragu and Buying a Cupcake Shop??

Em x

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gypsy Rolls and Gingerbread....

Well it has been a big couple of days here in my world. Well not big...just long and exhausting!

Last night OH and I attended the Miss Burlesque Finals in Hobart, I have always had a love affair with burlesque and have recently started attending the local pole dancing and burlesque school run by Miss BeBe Sparkle. So we went along last night to support Bebe (as she was competing) and check out the local talent. It was a great night and all of the girls did amazing jobs with their acts and their costumes. It's about time Hobart had some decent night time entertainment and great to see people getting out to support it. Unfortunately Bebe didn't place and in my opinion she was robbed, but in fairness all the girls were brilliant. It did make me dead keen to try it though, I have only been taking beginner pole classes so far but they do have beginner burlesque classes too....could be next on my things to try!

Speaking of the pole classes though, I had mentioned to OH a few weeks ago that I would be quite sad to attend my final class this week as I have been really enjoying doing something different and low and behold in the mail last night arrived a bloody big parcel....which turned out to be a brand new X Pole - an early bday present apparently! I did several little happy dances around the lounge room when I opened it. He really is a I think he quite enjoys playing around on the pole too, he came to class with me once and was hilarious...but scarily good at it! So I can't wait to get it up in the spare room so I can keep practising!

Today OH and I went down to Salamanca Market for a wander. I was a bit nervous because as of yesterday I reached my 55kg weight loss goal and therefore adjusted my calorie intake to maintenance calories. An extra 400 cals a day is alot to play with but I won't be going over the top with it or anything, I think the trick is to have it as a buffer if I need it, but otherwise try and stay a smidgen under the line. I mean before when I was on weight loss cals it was easy coz if I went over I was only on maintenance and it just meant I wouldn't lose, but now if I go over I'll be in weight gain terrotory and that is not somewhere I wanna be. Anyway, at the market today I successfully avoided the donuts, but I did buy a gingerbread man which was delicious, nice and gingery, soft and buttery...melt in your mouth goodness. Plus it is just not possible to go to the Salamanca Market without trying a Gypsy Roll - now let me tell you, these things are heaven on a stick...or in a wrap as the case may be. Basically it is just a skinless lamb sausage in a moutain bread wrap with some lettuce, carrot and...wait for it...strawberry chilli sauce, now I know it all sounds rather simple but it is a winning combination and I can not remember the last time in my life I went to that market and did not get one of these to chew on. I am also aware that I could quite easily make them at home...but honestly it's not the same, there is no market to wander around whilst eating it, no little white bag to catch all the strawberry chilli sauce that falls out the bottom, it's all about the atmosphere and experience with some meals isn't it!

I have also just done our shopping list and hence our menu for the week, it is looking a bit fancy and exciting too I think..let's have a look shall we??

Mon night - Roast vegie risotto for when the parents come over (I know I have a risotto addiction now too!)
Tues night - OH is cooking beef ragu with mash whilst I'm out at dancing
Wed night - Left over ragu...if there is any
Thurs night - Home made healthy chicken parmy's - minus the crumbing and the frying
Fri night - Butter chicken...possible served in crepes...I'm undecided just yet, but have been itching to try a curry recipe where you mix yoghurt through the sauce so will be interesting to see how it turns out!

I will post photos where possible, but sometimes in this house, food just does not last long enough for photo opportunities!!

And tomorrow OH has requested some Red Velvet Cupcakes which I have been wanting to try and make for ages...definetly will be posting photos of those...really hoping they come out nice and red though...little bit nervous about it!

Also rang up on Friday about a local cupcake store that is for sale, just waiting to see their business figures at the moment, I don't really know what is involved in running a small business but I know I love cooking and have some ideas for what I would like to do with the place so I spose it can't hurt to look into at the moment.

Ok must be off, OH has fallen asleep beside me waiting for his dinner and he looks quite adorable, have to wake him soon, we have a Horny Little Devil Party to go to...I think it's like a tupperware party but R18+ rated....

Till tomorrow!

E x

Friday, July 16, 2010

Raving about Risotto!

Well the wonderful world of Wikipedia tells me that Risotto is defined as a traditional Italian rice dish cooked with broth and flavoured with parmesan cheese and other ingredients which could include meat, fish or vegetables. The name literally means 'little rice.' Interestingly enough I have had a love / hate relationship with risotto I think because whilst I used to love ordering (and eating) it when I was out and about, I had always been told it was ridiculously hard to cook, and since beginning my weight loss journey two years ago I had also been told that it was mighty unhealthy, serious loss of brownie points for the humble risotto right there. Anyway recently I was flicking through a Recipes + magazine and found a recipe for Oven Baked Tuna sounded relatively simple, no cream, no wine, parmesan cheese only as an optional my OH was working away this week so I thought it was the perfect time for an experiment! On Monday night I set myself up with all my ingredients - tuna, capsicum, onion, zucchini, diced tomatoes, stock and most importantly the arborio rice! All very simple, chop up the capsicum, onion and zucchini, saute in a pan, add the diced tomatoes, rice and the stock, bring it to the boil....then chuck it in the oven for 20 super duper easy is that?! However, upon tasting at the 20min mark it was a little bit bland, so I added some tomato paste and some wet mediterranean herbs, stirred through the tuna and chucked it back in the oven.....waiting waiting waiting......and when I pulled it out of the oven may I saw I was astounded, the liquid was absorbed, the rice was tender and the flavour was delicious! I was glad my OH was away so I didn't have to share! And best of all I had made enough for several nights....nom nom nom. So needless to say my risotto cherry has been popped and I don't know what I was so worried about! It was low calorie and dead easy! Next week I am going to attempt it again, maybe with some pumpkin and spinach or something, OH wants evidence I can actually make it!

What else did I make....ohh a dead easy Honey Rice Bubble Slice. Now usually OH has a rice bubble slice in his lunches that involves melting marshmallows with butter and stirring them through rice bubbles and letting it set. However, I get bored cooking the same thing all the time so was on the look out for something different to do with the abnormally large box of rice bubbles in the cupboard. That was when I found the Honey Rice Bubble Slice recipe on . All it involved was honey, butter and sugar all melted together and mixed through some rice bubbles and then letting it set over night. The original recipe involved coconut mixed through at the end, but OH is funny about it getting stuck in his teeth so I left it out (he is also funny about cross contamination between his food - serving him lasagne or shepards pie is hilarious...but thats another story!). I made this the other night and got it out to cut up last night and have the mandatory nibble and taste test (required of all new recipes!) and it was brilliant, the honey was sweet without being too sweet and so much nicer then using the marshmallows.

Here is the recipe as adapted by me but you could add 1 cup of coconut with the rice bubbles if you wanted:

Honey Rice Bubble Slice

2tbspns honey
75g butter
1/2c caster sugar
4 cups rice bubbles

Melt honey, butter and sugar in a small pan on the stove top. Bring to the boil, but keep stirring.
Working quickly, pour over rice bubbles and combine.
Press into a lined 18cm x 28cm slice tin
Refrigerate overnight or until firm - should be ok after 1/2 hour.

And last but certainly not least and it's another day with another batch of I received 2 donations for the RSPCA plus some guys I work with, who only this morning listened to me complain about not having enough containers to transport large numbers of cupcakes, made me two stainless steel trays with high sides that should fit 24 cupcakes each - so I made them some cupcakes as well as a thank you because the trays will just make my life so much easier. Anyway given I had so many cupcakes to make (4 batches in total!) I decided on a simple decoration, I made some basic chocolate cupcakes and then frosted them with Betty Crocker's Deluxe Chocolate Frosting. I also found these little tiny Oreo cookies at the supermarket so I topped the frosting with one of those and they are just adorable, simple, but still adorable!

Tomorrow....Happy Friday!

Em x

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the beginning....

Well here I am. I was giving blood this afternoon and they were playing Julie and Julia, it reminded me of how inspired I was watching that movie and reading the book and how much I wanted to start a blog about my exploits in the kitchen because of them, but I also have a small shoe obsession (call me Emelda....) and a wedding coming up in 6 months so there will be a fair bit of whinging / blabbering / general talking to myself about those too!

I am by no means a gourmet cook or even a fantabulous cook, but I do love cooking and experimenting and making different dishes. I grew up in a family where we didn't eat red meat and dinner usually consisted of chicken and vegies or vegies and baked beans or quiche and vegies or baked get the idea! I think thats why I rarely resort to those sort of dishes unless I'm desperate or need something super easy. I try and make different stuff every night and since my husband to be is a meat eating machine I have really had no choice (also due to disgustingly low iron levels and several episodes of blacking out on the neighbours lawns - all very akward....) but to start eating a bit of red meat here and there and I find the best way to do this is to hide it in things such as curries, casseroles and stir frys....but in saying that I also practise a similar theory in getting my partner to eat vegetarian products.....the night we were sitting down eating shepards pie and I mentioned half way through that it was vegetarian mince I seriously thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head and right onto his fork.....

Anyway, we eat pretty much anything and everything now. Plus I do alot of baking for my partner's lunches so once a week I have a big baking day and he gets all sorts of things that his work mates love to pick on him for....I think they are really jealous because they have a bag of fatty oily take away and Tynan (my partner) has home made goodies...although they are often shaped like lil hearts or tonka trucks, what can I say, I have to embarrass him a little!

So my latest craze is cupcakes! Now I know what you are thinking, everyone, everywhere has done cupcakes to death and surely it can't last much longer, but I beg to differ. Sweet little cakes with delicious frosting and/or filling....always a winner in my book! Plus down here where I live the RSPCA have a yearly Cupcake Day where participants bake cupcakes in exchange for donations to the fund, and this year they have extended the fundraising period from about 3 weeks ago until Oct. In an effort to raise more money I decided that every person who donated between now and Oct will get a personalised batch of any sort of cupcakes they want and I am loving it to death. Just last week I did some Dora the Explorer cupcakes and some Geelong AFL cupcakes for the children of a colleague and I was stressed and nervous and mentally beating myself up for agreeing to do them, but in the end they came out so well and the looks on the kids faces was brilliant. It just needed a bit of imagination. I initially thought I had seen Dora biscuits somewhere and was going to simply stick one in some pink icing on top of the cake...but turns out that was my imagination playing tricks on me and there was no such thing as Dora biscuits, anyway, eventually I found some Dora school book labels and I used these and some toothpicks to make some tiny flags to put in the pink icing and then covered them in pink sprinkles, just gorgeous! And for those of you who don't know Geelong is an AFL team in Australia with a white and navy blue jumper. After using a whole vial of blue food dye I got the icing a reasonable shade of blue (although not quite navy) and piped blue lines across the white icing on the cakes. Also my first attempt at using a piping bag apart from Hot Cross Buns so was most pleased with that too! Then I used some cola straps cut into thin strips to put the numbers on the jerseys. I was really pleased with the outcome, even if I did look like a smurf from all the dye! Nothing like going into a challenge with no idea how you are going to do it and coming out the other end knowing you accomplished something!

Tomorrow....A honey rice bubble slice and I finally bite the bullet and make my first risotto....


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