Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Chocolate sticky date & pecan loaf

I had a hankering for sticky date pudding and just happened to stumble across this disturbingly good recipe, with a little bit of a twist!
Note that this recipe calls for a Kitchen Aid mixer, but you will achieve the same results with a hand mixer.

Chocolate sticky date & pecan loaf


Loaf Mixture

250ml water
250g pitted dried dates
1½ tspn bicarb
80g unsalted butter, cubed & softened at room temperature
100g (½ cup) dark brown sugar
I tspn mixed spice
100g good quality dark eating chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (40g) pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1½ cups (215g) plain flour, sifted
50g good quality dark eating chocolate, extra, roughly chopped
2 tbspn dark brown sugar, extra

Butterscotch Sauce

250ml thickened cream
80g unsalted butter
1 cup (160g) dark brown sugar
premium vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 180°C (160o C for fan forced oven). Grease and line a 13 x 24cm loaf tin with baking paper and spray lightly with oil.
Combine water and dates in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stir through soda. Allow to cool.

Place butter and sugar into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer. Attach the flat beater and pouring shield (if available). Mix on speed 2 until incorporated, then increase to speed 6 and mix for 2-3 minutes, or until light and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl regularly with a spatula.

Add date mixture, mixed spice, chocolate, nuts and flour and mix on speed 1 until just combined. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes on middle shelf.

Combine extra chocolate and brown sugar together and sprinkle over top of cake. Bake for a further 5 minutes or until cake is firm to touch. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Prepare Butterscotch Sauce: Combine cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes or until sugar has dissolved.
Slice cake and serve with Butterscotch Sauce and ice cream.
Once again I got caught up in eating this beautiful dessert that I forgot to snap a photo of my own...

Photo and recipe courtesy of the Kitchen Aid Website

Monday, 2 September 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Our Nicole {in a nutshell}

What are the last 3 songs you tagged on Shazam?
'Happy' C2C Feat. Derek Martin, 'Is this how you feel' The Preachers, 'Karma Police' - Radiohead

What is your current exercise of choice?
Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge. I'm yet to find said bikini body.

What is your biggest fear?
The chickens in our backyard. I was fine until Pecker chased me into the kitchen.

Something weird that you secretly enjoy?
Laying on the couch in my trackies, with my socks pulled up over my trackies (so the cold air doesn't get in), a blanket on, watching a midday movie, it's raining, there's soup on the stove and the dryer is on.

What was the last thing you ate?
Quinoa with shredded chicken and wasn't particularly nice.

What is your day job?
Financial Adviser

What is your favourite scent?
Pure Poison - Dior

What is your biggest bargain find?
Black leather boots - $50 down from $350.

What is your most annoying habit?
Giving too much background information when I tell stories.

Were you named after anyone?
My Dad. His official name is Nicola, but that's weird/a girls name in Australia so everyone calls him Nick. Nick/Nicole. Same Same.

Who is your current style icon?
Jessica Alba.

If someone gave you $500, what would you spend it on?
I'd give it to Miley Cyrus.

What will you do once you finish this questionnaire?
Eat, I'd say.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Crocheted creations

One of the nicest parts about getting that little bit older is that you get to witness how clever some of the people you grew up with are. Sometimes you hate them because they are way more clever than you are, but most of the time you're in awe.
There are two old school friends in particular who have recently captured my attention. They have both decided to take up crocheting and are very good at it. Considering my very own Nanna Norma has knitted and crocheted many beautiful things for me over the years (mainly for my unborn children - but we won't go there), this hobby holds a special place in my heart.

So why does a 27 year old decide to take up crocheting?

Here's Jess' story:

I find crochet to be a creative outlet and a thoughtful way to pour love into something that you can then gift onto others.

The perfect example - I still have and use a blanket that my grandmother crocheted for me when I was six, and it is in perfect condition after twenty years.

But what really sparked off learning crochet for me was recently reading another travel blog. The lovely writer, who was the same age, posted up creations she had been learning whilst on a similar road trip. Literally the very next day, in a remote newsagency, my eyes landed on Issue One of the Art of Learning Crochet. I decided then that it was just meant to be.

Patience and plain old perseverance helped me get started, and Youtube is a godsend for the self taught! But once you master the basic stitches and learn the written jargon it becomes easier.

I love the range of beautiful yarn colours that you can mix and match, and the organic nature of wool in the home or for your children.

Since I am travelling I favour the repetition of projects like blankets, scarves, and headbands that I can do quickly or put down and pick up whenever I have time. But crochet is surprisingly versatile. If you just look online you can make homewares, jewellery, baby items, toys and clothing just to name a few - there is so much inspiration for future projects.

If I can learn then anyone can! It is something I recommend trying, or at the very least keep an eye out for hand knitted goods in markets or on wonderful websites like Made It. Sometimes they might seem pricey but you are investing in many hours of skill and the longevity of a piece handmade with love.

Here are some of Jess' gorgeous creations:

As Jess mentions in her story, the wonderful part about crocheting is its versatility. Tessa, another talented friend/over achiever ;) provides a great example of this in her crocheted creations below.
Tessa mentioned to me that she started crocheting as something to keep her occupied in the evenings. As she is left handed, she found knitting to be quite difficult whereas crocheting really fun and quick. Tessa first made a bunny to see if she could follow a pattern and she's now taking orders for them! As you can see, they are too cute for words!


Well done Jess and Tessa, we are super proud of your efforts and can't wait to see more of your creations! We'd also love to see anyone elses creations, whether it's crochet or something different, so make sure you drop us a line on our Facebook page.
(If Tessa doesn't have enough talent already, she is also a florist specialising in weddings, functions and events. She did an amazing job of my wedding earlier in the year, which I will be posting about very soon! Click the link for more info on Tessa's business Tickled Pink Posies.)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Encaustic Tile obsession

I am a bit obsessed with Encaustic Tiles. I want them everywhere; in the bathroom, in the kitchen, the entry way, inside, outside... OH.MY.WORD!



Next house FO SHO! x

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Our Angela {in a nutshell}

What are the last 3 songs you tagged on Shazam?
Fine shine - Purity Ring, Fixed - George Maple, Crave you - Flight Facilities

What is your current exercise of choice?
Yoga - Ashtanga, Basketball on occasion

What is your biggest fear?

Something weird that you secretly enjoy?
Japanese Porn....purely for a laugh.

What was the last thing you ate?
Orange flavoured M&M's and a hunk of Parmesan cheese

What is your day job?
Occupational Therapist

What is your favourite scent?
Notes by Robert Piguet

What is your biggest bargain find?
A gorgeous table from a roadside collection

What is your most annoying habit?

Were you named after anyone?
The Rolling Stones song - "Angie"

Who is your current style icon?
Nicole Ritchie

If someone gave you $500, what would you spend it on?
An adult sized Tee pee

What will you do once you finish this questionnaire?
Celebrate my sisters engagement to the bodybuilder

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

5 Things I'm loving right now

1. Mad Men {TV series}

What's not to love about this award winning TV series? The era, the fashion, the drama! Oh my! If only I wasn't almost finished the 5th season without having access to the sixth yet!

2. Yves Saint Laurent - Rouge Pur Couture

Colour 01

Angela introduced me to this beauty a couple of weeks ago. It's by far one of the loveliest red lipsticks I've seen and remains flawless no matter how much champagne you drink!

3.  Faux flowers + Crystal

The gorgeous crystal Vera Wang vase we were given for our wedding "swooooooon" and the amazingly lifelike Peonies that fill it, which I bought from Trilogy.

4. Brown Rice Cups

O.M.G. Best snack or filling side to any 'on-the-go' meal! At $2.99 for this little pack, they're not the cheapest way to enjoy brown rice, but boy is it easy! I am currently enjoying them with a tin of Greenseas flavoured tuna (tomato and capsicum of course).

5. My new art work

An unfortunate photo, but here they are in our entry way!
As soon as I saw these pop up on my Etsy feed, I knew I needed them. I don't know a lot about art, but what I do know is that it is subjective. Unfortunately Geordie isn't the biggest fan, but apparently they're growing on him. If you love them as much as I do, you can find them here at only $34 a pop.

Friday, 19 July 2013

What a tart...

Recently, I lost my motivation to bake. This is particularly sad considering our super generous 'BFF couple'  gave us a beautiful Kitchen Aid as a wedding present! So over the weekend, I decided it was time to regain said motivation. And that I did.

I had every intention of making my own pastry and ice cream, but as per usual I got distracted and ran out of time. Oooo! Shiny object!
Alas, here is what I came up with:

Hazelnut tart with red wine poached pears and 'home made' ice cream


Tart base & filling
Sweet shortcrust pastry
125g softened butter
125g sugar
2 beaten eggs
25g plain flour
125g ground hazelnuts
Good quality ice cream (home made if possible!)

Red wine pears
Half a bottle of red wine
125ml red port
250 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges
Zest of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 sprig of rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
250g sugar
3-4 ripe but firm stewing pears


Start with the red wine pears. Place all ingredients, except the pears, in a large saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Peel and core the pears but leave the stalks on. Halve the pears length ways and lower into the syrup.

Cover with greaseproof paper and gently poach for 20-30 minutes until the pears are tender. Remove from the syrup and leave to cool. Reduce the poaching liquor until syrupy, then strain and cool.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease your tart tins. Roll out the pastry if you're clever and have made your own, or use a glass to cut out circles of pastry. Once your tins are lined, chill for 30 minutes (the tarts, not you).
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer. If using a kitchen aid, use the flat beater on speed 4 until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs on speed 6 until well-blended. Fold in the flour into the creamed mixture on speed 2, then fold in the hazelnuts. Spoon the mixture into the tart tins.

Slice the pears length ways into thin slices, so you can fan them out by gently pushing down on the pears. Push the pears into each tart and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the mixture has set. Leave to cool on a wire rack and serve lukewarm or at room temperature with ice cream and a drizzle of red wine syrup.


I would love to say that this is  a photo of my finished product, but the tarts were THAT yummy (and we were a little 'pissy pants' when it came time to serve them up) that I forgot to take a photo of them...

Courtesy of Kitchenaid

Enjoy! And if you happen to try these yourself, make sure you post a picture on our Facebook Page!