Friday Fun

What’s floatin’ my boat this Friday:

  • Ellen Degeneres challenging Michelle Obama to a push-up contest. Watch this.
  • This woman, Gala Darling. It blows my mind that she’s only a couple of years older than me but yet has done so much for young women all around the net-savvy globe. I’ve been an avid reader of her website (and eBooks) since near its inception and she just keeps getting better & better.
  • I made these cookies a couple of times over Christmas & saw them evaporate from the serving plate in a matter of seconds. While they are pretty festive looking, I’m thinking that given The Lad has to work all weekend (a 12-day week is nothing to be sneezed at! Poor kid) I may just make a batch for him to take along.
  • This Thai Beef Salad is scheduled for dinner. Ooohh yeahhh. Stay tuned for the evidence!
  • A big gym sesh last night – I did a 20 minute effort of a 3-2-1 routine (as inspired by IowaGirlEats – can you tell I’m a little bit of a fan of her blog?) followed straight up by a strength-training super-set routine designed by The Lad. Let me tell you, I was sweating like nothing else! It was good to have a run again, even though it was on a treadmill. We’ve got a 10km fun run coming up in April and if this rain doesn’t let up soon we’re going to have to bite the soggy bullet and head out for a drenching rain run. I will most probably slip & fall on my butt in front of strangers if we do this. As humourous as this might sound, it concerns me.
  • Trying hard not to buy random pretty things I want (Damn you Vintage Marketplace for looking so good!) but I think Sportsgirl might be the recipient of some hard-earned dollars soon.

Shallot & Turkey Rissoles with Soy-Ginger Glaze

Feeding three hungry post-gym mouths (Hello BodyAttack – major session tonight!) is no mean feat but this variation on a Smitten Kitchen recipe was A Winner.

Turkey Rissoles

Served up with a mini-mountain of brown rice and an improvised garlic, mint, bean and mushroom dish, Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze were made man-size & doused in this delish glaze. We pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except for subbing in the rice wine vinegar & sugar combo for the mirin in the glaze recipe – it worked perfectly though. Oh Em Gee the syrupy glaze…

Syrupy glaze

Definitely make these suckers – whether you go rissole style like we did or meatball style like the original, they are absolutely deeelightful.

To make the green bean-centric side dish, I plonked a pile of green beans (topped, tailed & halved), the rest of last night’s sliced swiss browns and a little handful of chopped up fresh mint into a pan with a couple of spoons of peanut oil & around 2 tsp of minced garlic. After everything gets a bit browned around the edges & the deliciousness all mingles together, I poured around half a cup of water into the pan to help steam the beans a bit further into tender submission.

Totally a recipe worth repeating – gotta love it when a throw-together-hope-for-the-best makes even the anti-mushroom housemate get a little excited.


Ah greens, I love thee. Is it surprising that my car is also green?

Chicken Lettuce Wraps + Smashed Spuds

The Lad is a big fan of San Choy Bao and while I’ve never hated the dish, it’s not one I was keen on re-creating at home. I’m all done for the Asian-y, mince-y, meaty good times but the lettuce always gets a bit warm and limp and just makes me wish it was a pile of capsicum or noodles or something else that would stay snazzy with warm mince.

BUT when I came across Spoon Fork Bacon’s recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps I thought I might be on to a winner that would keep both me & him happy. Something about the deliciously thick and saucy chicken breast pieces stirred up with shallots and mushrooms was too good to refuse – even with the presence of lettuce leaves!

Pretty Lettuce Photo
We pretty much made the recipe exactly as it was here except we omitted the chestnuts & bamboo shoots (keepin’ it simple) & used swiss brown mushies (on sale at Woolies – hello!) instead of shiitakes.

Saucy chicken

Thick, sticky & delicious

Being inspired by the thought of a barbecue on stinking hot days such as today (and tonight – it’s gotta be about 30 degrees C still I reckon!) we opted for the pot luck randomness of a little potato side to accompany our chicken lettuce combo.

Delicious Potatoes

Based on a recipe Iowa Girl Eats posted sometime back, these carbolicious lip-smackers are an easy alternative to roasted taters but just as tasty. Boil the suckers up whole & then, when they’re done nicely (still firm but not crunchy), put some slice marks across the top to resemble a noughts & crosses board & then give them a gentle squash down with a masher/spatula/textbook. Lay out on a tray & give a good sprinkle with S&P, garlic powder & decent olive oil. Stick them under the grill and let them get niiiice and crispyyyy around the edges. Delish!

With bellies full of sticky chicken, lettuce leaves & spuds, we’re going to attempt to hit the hay despite the humidity… C’mon cool change!

“It’s so damn hot, milk was a bad choice!” 

Orange-spiked banana bread

While The Lad & I have been co-habitating for sometime now, this week brought with it the moment our stuff had to also co-habitate. Moving all of my furniture, many clothes and many more shoes, jewellery and other assorted accessories into the house The Lad’s shares with a mate, has meant that beloved old commemorative polo shirts, toy model cars and similar boy accoutrements have been boxed up and shifted to the spare room.

Don’t worry, I’ve also downsized to help the squeeze in – three pairs of shoes and a couple of tees, dresses and other bits will be soon hitting the shelves at the local Salvo’s op-shop! In a bid to soften the blow of cushions entering The Lad’s man cave, I not only put his big trophies on display atop the bookshelf, I also made his favourite: this banana bread, subtly spiked with orange zest.

Orange-spiked Banana Bread

I’ve seen some criticism of this recipe on the interwebs due to people’s dislike of the orange factor but it’s the orange flavour that give it so much cred in this house. In tonight’s brew, I went against the recipe & also added a little handful of shredded coconut. I’ll totally do it next time too – big thumbs up.

Zest is best

Orange-spiked Banana Bread
(Recipe slightly adapted from Marie Claire’s Kitchen by Michele Cranston – seriously my bible in the kitchen)


  • 90g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Once zested, slice & reserve the orange


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius & get a loaf tin ready. I used a silicon loaf pan – my pick for non-stick
  2. Throw all the ingredients except the reserved decorative orange slices in a mixing bowl & combine. I’m old school & prefer a wooden spoon – the original recipe recommends a food processor but whatevs you got, I say!
  3. Once combined, pour into the loaf pan and fan your decorative orange slices across the top. I baked this loaf covered with foil for about half the cooking time to keep the oranges from going too toasty around the edges.
  4. Place in the oven for one hour, or until an inserted skewer/knife/poker-of-some-sort comes out clean.

Chocolate & Raspberry Tartlets

In an attempt to minimise the food in the fridge/freezer/cupboard before moving house this weekend, I made these Chocolate & Raspberry Tartlets… </thinly veiled excuse to eat more chocolate>

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets

I cheated with the tart cases – they were from a frozen packet wedged in the back of the freezer. The raspberries were also frozen but once those suckers defrost, they don’t taste too different to the real fresh deal (as long as you buy the good frozen ones at least!)

For the “cream” in the mix, I used this new Philadelphia Cream for Desserts. While it freaked The Lad out a little that I planned to put something that looks a lot like a tub of cream cheese into his dessert, a quick swipe through the thick deliciousness convinced him otherwise.

I put the below pic on Facebook via Instagram while I was making these and was met with frustrated excitement from a heavily pregnant mate who’d obviously run out of tasty snacks in her neck of the woods.

Spoon-lickin' good

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets

Makes 6-8 tarts (depending on how much ganache you end up with & how choc-heaped your tarts end up!)


  1. Blind bake the tarts as per packet instructions (usually in a moderately hot oven for 10 minutes or so) Let cool pretty much completely.
  2. Melt chocolate down slowly – I won’t tell anyone if you use the microwave to do it. Just promise you’ll nuke for 20-30 seconds at a time (no longer!) and stir well between repeats.
  3. Once the chocolate is completely melted down, stir in around 2/3 of the cream. Make sure you work fast as the cream will thicken the chocolate quickly.
  4. Put scoops of the ganache in the tart cases & then lick your delicious chocolatey spoon while decorating the tarts with the remainder of the cream & the raspberries.
  5. Leave the tarts on a tray in the fridge for as long as you can bear. I recommend making them before dinner & refrigerating for at least an hour. We managed to hold out for two hours & they were perfectly set.

Too easy. Too dangerously easy.

My not so secret ingredient

After becoming a little infatuated with the Kung Pao Chicken recipe I found on Iowa Girl Eats (one of my most favey-faves) I decided tonight to mix it up a bit and make what I’ll call “Kind Of Kung Pao Chicken”. Which brings me to my not so secret ingredient…

…Cornflour! It completely changes chicken in stirfry/Asian-inspired dishes & adds a beautiful coating which, when combined with a good salt & pepper sprinkle & then lightly fried off in a combination of sesame & peanut oil, is bloody delicious!

So for this evening’s Not Quite Kung Pao, we did the cornflour/s&p dredge, followed by a light browning in the pan & a rest on a plate when done.

While this is happening, we got some quinoa & water in a saucepan along with the juice of half a lemon, a good sprinkle of dried red chilli flakes & a sprinkle of fennel seeds. For two super-hungry post-gym bellies, we shared 2/3 cup of dry quinoa which cooked up with 3 x 2/3 cups of water. Let that boil up & get all fluffy & delicious – just like rice but with plenty more nutritious goodness!


Back to the oily, chickeny pan remnants, add a chopped red chilli & couple of garlic cloves. Sauté until fragrantly fabulous & then add in whatever veg you’ve got on hand. We opted for half a head of broccoli, a zucchini & a couple of handfuls of chopped beans. Once you’ve got the veg all in, throw the chicken back in and give it all a stir.

To that, get saucy with a few tablespoons of a) Chinese rice wine vinegar- about 4tbls b) soy sauce- about 5tbls and c) oyster sauce- a good little glug to the middle of the pan. We also threw in a solid handful of fresh coriander for good measure. Stir it all around until everything is combined, the chicken is a little saucy & the veggies have softened a little, or until it looks a bit like this…


Mmmm!! Once it’s all cooked, get it on the plate & get eating! Deeeelicious!

Cumulus for breakfast

Today’s post is coming to you live from a huge king-size bed at the luxurious Sofitel in the “Paris” end of Melbourne’s CBD.

We’ve been here two nights already (read: two whole shopping days!) and I probably should go home now before I spend any more money. Our flight however, is not booked until Saturday afternoon so if one must carry on with such frivolity, one must do what they have to do (& put all salary for next month into one’s dwindling bank account). Stay tuned for a purchases round up!

The most excellent thing we have found so far here (other than the Veronika Maine sale at DJs…) is an eating house called Cumulus Inc. On a recommendation from my younger chef brother, we hit the Flinders Lane spot for breakfast yesterday morning… And will no doubt return again this morning & possibly every morning until we fly out.

Incredibly Melbourne with attentive service even with the absolute deluge of New Year clientele, Cumulus lived up to the “must go” status the brother gave it. Offering far more than a choice between a Bircher & a Benedict, the menu is full of creativity & flavour at a sensible brunch-style price point (we got outta there at sub-$45 anyway!)

We were bar-seated looking into the kitchen which suited us just fine. It’s always interesting to see the preparation of other ingredients, as well as the interplay between the assortment of kitchen staff.


I opted for the Cumulus Breakfast which included a perfectly boiled egg, toast, assorted preserves, a pot of yogurt with poached & fresh fruit and, wait for it, coffee AND a fresh orange juice. Twas perfect for girls like me who always want a smorgasbord selection but whose eyes are often to big for their belly.

The lad’s breakfast was The Full English & he barely looked up until it was fully demolished. With a supporting cast of 2 sunny-side ups, thick slices of bacon and toast, the star of the show was a dark & rich blood sausage. Soft but full of texture, the sausage was made up of pig’s blood, pear & a band of other treats.

He also gave the thumbs up to the coffee on offer opting for an espresso and a double ristretto.

We are going there again. Right now.

Happy New Year!




Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins

Now do I have your attention?

Ha! The Gluten Free Goddess appears to have had a little makeover and I needed a re-visit after a long day spent recovering from a gluten hangover (Well if I have to eat your pizza, I have to eat your pizza!)

While I was looking for dinner inspiration, this recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins quite obviously distracted me. Definitely one to print off & try!

Summer gazpacho

Along with a leopard-print blouse, lilac nail polish & a $39 glass of Veuve, today I purchased lunch at Sydney’s 3-hatted Est. restaurant: workplace of my chef brother Josh (@mrniland on the Twit).

While I only ordered 2 dishes (salt cod beignets & the mulloway fillet with witlof & agro dolce – both of which were awesome, especially the beignets) the kitchen also sent me out these two dishes:

The prettiest, daintiest gazpacho ever…

Scallops served with ribbons of cured tuna belly…

Needless to say, after eating the majority of Sydney’s seafood quota for lunch, I was ridiculously full & could only manage 2 of the 5 delish petit fors served with my dear-lord-please-help-me-digest-this-feast peppermint tea.