Wednesday, 22 May 2013
I love caramel. I love it even more than chocolate. Last year I stumbled across a recipe for salted caramel cupcakes and I knew I would just have to make them. And then I forgot to blog about them and let them sit in my draft folder. These cupcakes were very popular at my Mum's birthday celebrations last November ad the salted caramel sauce can be used in so many desserts. You are also even able to make a large quantity of it and store in the fridge. The sauce does thicken a bit over a few days but then it has more of a 'spread' texture. I am thinking of making a new batch of this sauce to use on some melting moments. I will share the results once completed.
Salted Caramel Cupcakes - recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Ingredients - Cupcakes
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of hot water
2 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups of caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup sour cream
1) Preheat oven to 180c and line a standard size muffin pan with cupcake cases.
2) In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder & hot water until smooth. In another bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3) Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Stir this until the butter is completely melted. Transfer this to the Kitchenaid and beat until mixture is coll (about 5 minutes).
4) Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, making sure to beat them well before adding the next one. Add the vanilla and cocoa mixture and beat until smooth.
5) Reduce the speed of the Kitchenaid and add the flour mixture in three equal parts. This should be alternated with the sour cream which should also be added in three equal parts. Make sure that the mixture is beaten well after each addition.
6) Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases and fill them to about 2/3's full. These should be baked in the oven for 18-20 minutes. A skewer can be inserted into the cupcake to check if it is cooked (it should come out clean). Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
Salted Caramel Cupcake Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter
250g cream cheese
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe below)
4 cups icing sugar
1) Beat together the butter and cream cheese in the Kitchenaid on high speed for 5 minutes. Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed of the Kitchenaid to a medium speed and slowly add the icing sugar making sure it is well-combined before adding the next amount. Increase the speed of the Kitchenaid to high once all the icing sugar is mixed in and beat for 2-3 minutes until frosting is light & fluffy.
2) To finish cupcakes, spread frosting on each cupcake (or pipe for a more professional finish). Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with additional slated caramel sauce and a few sea salt flakes.
Salted Caramel Sauce - Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
There are so many uses for this caramel sauce. It can be used for cakes, ice cream, biscuits, a spoon on its own, mixed with milk, the list goes on!
2 cups caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
1 cup of thickened cream
1 tablespoon of flaked sea salt
1) Add the sugar to a medium saucepan and heat over a medium heat, whisking it as it begins to melt.
You should continue to whisk it as it melts. Once the sugar is completely melted you should only stir occasionally to cook the sugar.
2) Continue to cook until the sugar becomes a rich amber colour. It will also have a toasty aroma (but not burnt!) If you are using a thermometer it should reach 180c, however I judge using my eyes. The original link of this recipe has some good images to indicate the colour it should be.
3) Once the caramel has reached the above stage, you should add the butter to the mixture (be careful when putting it in as the sugar is really hot and cause cause some nasty burns). Whisk the butter in the caramel until it is completely melted.
4) Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream into the caramel, whisking it. Once again be careful due to the temperature of the caramel. Whisk until cream is mixed in and add the sea salt.
5) Set aside the sauce for 10-15 minutes and then pour in a glass jar or container and cool to room temperature until storing in the fridge. The sauce can be refrigerated for a few months and it will thicken over the first few days.
These are one of my favourite cupcakes and although I made them quite some time ago, I am glad I have been able to share this recipe as salted caramel is one of my favourite things and I am sure you will enjoy these delicious cupcakes as well.
Monday, 20 May 2013
City Grill Room has been on my wish list for a while and to be honest, I had forgotten about it amongst the 100 or so other restaurants that I want to try. In May each year, I look through my Entertainment Book that is about to expire and see if there are last minute places I can try. I found City Grill Room, remembered how much I had wanted to try it and decided to dray The Boy there for a quick dinner date before a football game (on another note, Essendon lost to Geelong that night. The Boy was not happy).
City Grill Room is hidden down a lane on the other side of the city form where I work, however it is not too far from the footy so the location worked for us. I spent most of the week dreaming about whether I wanted steak or ribs as I am currently on a bit of a diet (or making lifestyle changes...pffft) and actually tweeted about whether I should break my diet for the ribs. I got a response from the lovely Nee of Sew Me Love that I should use the ribs as my YOLO meal. I had no idea what YOLO actually was but someone else (let's call him Smeadz), informed us it was a 'You Only Live Once' meal. I actually like the whole philosophy of You Only Live Once so I should enjoy this meal, but in the end I decided to stick with steak, which is the 'healthier' option. It is not the healthiest meal with chips and garlic sauce so I guess that is the YOLO component of the meal.
When we arrived at 6pm, the restaurant was pretty empty and whilst we were there, there were only two other tables, so our food was served to us quite quickly. I also order a glass of merlot to sip during the meal and this was really nice. I wish I had of actually grabbed the name of the wine as I would consider buying it in the future. No winelist on the website so I guess I might just have to find out next time...
Wagyu Burger with CGR baste served with crispy fried onions and chips - $25.50
The Boy was not feeling very hungry and wanted to share some of my steak with me, so he decided to go with the wagyu burger. I had a bite of this and found the meat to be really juicy. The only thing is, I think fried onions and chips on the same plate is a bit of overkill. It would have been good if there was an option to get a small side salad instead of the chips, given how much of the plate was fried. The chips were very ordinary and could have done without. However, the fried onions were amazing. Coated like your traditional onion rings however much thinner, these were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I ended up eating quite a few of these off The Boy's plate!
300 gram porterhouse steak with chips and garlic sauce - $37.50 (including sauce)
Like most steakhouses, City Grill Room charges extra for sauce and for me, the sauce is a key component of the dish, so I am not able to do without. The steak was cooked well (medium-rare) and the garlic sauce was great, although very similar to Squire's Loft. The chips as previously mentioned were quite bland but with the garlic sauce, they were nice. I didn't actually eat all the steak as I was sharing with The Boy, however I did eat most of it. I quite liked it but when comparing it to Squire's Loft, I cannot actually taste a difference. I do wonder if they have some connection in relation to chef's or ownership as there menus are quite similar.
The only complaint I had on the night was that our waitress seemed to be quite keen to move us on. The Boy's dish was taken from the table before the fried onions and chips were finished without either of us being asked. Whilst this is better for our waistlines, I still would appreciate being asked. Our total bill came to $47.25 as we used our 25% discount from the Entertainment Book and they didn't actually charge me for wine. Honestly, I knew about the wine when I was paying but the fact the waitress had taken the unfinished meal annoyed me so I decided not to mention anything.
Would I Return to City Grill Room?
The menu and taste is so similar to Squire's Loft and the location of City Grill Room is not very convenient for me in relation to my work or home. I have Squire's Loft in Essendon not far from my house and Rare Steakhouse is literally about 50 steps from my work. The food at City Grill Room was nice but it did not stand out from other steakhouses which I have tried. Therefore, unless I do decide to use the voucher in The Entertainment Book for the 2013/2014 year, I do not think I would return. Not that the quality of food is not good, just there was nothing that would warrant me going out of my way to get there. I was also slightly disappointed with the previously-mentioned service. However, if you are in the are and craving steak, I would recommend.
I might have to consider writing a post about YOLO meals in the future. I really like the idea.
Friday, 17 May 2013
So in my Mother's Day Classic post I mentioned that I was considering running in the Melbourne Marathon although I was not sure which distance I would tackle. Earlier in the week, I started to think about this again and I realised that with only two weeks left in the Foxy Challenge, I would need to continue to set goals for myself to keep my motivation high given that once the challenge is over I will be managing my own journey more than ever.
So I thought to myself, 'fuck it,' (sorry I swear...a lot), already in the last 10 weeks I have been able to do so many things that I previously thought I could not do. I am planking for 2-3 minutes, I am doing burpees, I am running 8km in the Mother's Day Classic without stopping & I am even doing push up's on my toes (something which I would have never thought possible!). If I can achieve all these in 10 weeks, imagine what I could achieve between now and October 13th, which is over 5 months away. So with these positive thoughts in mind, I have decided I will be entering the Melbourne Marathon and I will be competing in the 42.2km distance. OMG!
I will add that last year I completed the 50km Upstream Challenge but this was a walking event and I did not prepare really well for it and it took 10.5 hours to complete. So although I have actually covered the distance before, I have not done it to the best of my ability, so for me, the challenge is to be able to set a goal time and try to beat that.
In order to prepare for the marathon, I will also be entering Run Melbourne and completing the half marathon distance (21.1km). This will allow me to get some training in and will hopefully help me determine my game plan for the actual marathon. Given the number of events I have been entering, I am spending quite a bit of money. But, as I am eating much better now, I am saving money by not buying lunches and snacks at work, so it kind of sets each other off and at least entering into running events is much better for me :)
The only thing that I won't be missing once I finish the Get Foxy Challenge is the recording of my food. My food coach is lovely but I find it so time-consuming to be recording everything I am eating. In the first 6-7 weeks this was crucial because I did need to identify my bad points in my diet (and there were heaps!) but now I am in a good routine that I can eat my recommended 6,000kj's a day and know what I should be eating. I know what foods to avoid and if I do eat something that is 'bad,' I know what I need to do to work it off.
As of this week, I am sitting at 79.5kg. I am finding that it is getting more difficult to lost weight now so I have been changing up my diet and exercise. I have been ensured that this is completely normal and is all part of my body getting use to the changes. In my 101 in 1001 list I mentioned that my goal weight is to be 70kg's. After discussion with my food coach, my healthy weight is 63kg's. This is 7kg's less than what I expected. I have decided that I will meet this in the middle and aim for 67kg's as my target weight. I still want to have some of my curves but being fit and strong it what is most important to me.
The other funny thing is that we had measurements yesterday. I have managed to lose another 15cm in the last 4 weeks which is great but it seems that I will always be destined to have big hips. I lose a whopping 9cm from my stomach but nothing from my hips. I actually don't mind much as a lot of the new dresses and skirts that I am wearing are all about a smaller stomach rather than hips but I think I am still going to struggle to wear any tight pants/jeans because of all the junk in my trunk.
So that is my week 10 Foxy Update. I am hoping that in the next two weeks I can lost another 3kg's and get down to 76.5kg's. Then the battle will be to continue to keep up my new routine.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
I actually feel really strange writing about something so fatty and full of sugar, considering the health kick I have been on lately. However, last Sunday was Mother's Day and my Mum requested I make a fruity cheesecake for her. I actually didn't have a piece of this one given I am watching my diet at the moment but I have had this cheesecake in the past, so I can testify to how delicious it is. If I hadn't had such big meals during the past week, I may have allowed myself a small piece but I wanted to stick to my diet.
Whilst I was at gym today, I noticed a sign (God, I wish I had of taken a picture) which seems quite relevant now. It basically listed a heap of 'bad' foods and how many burpees it would take to burn off that food. Interesting enough, a slice of cheesecake (which is 4,200kj's per slice - ouch!) requires 1,000 burpees to burn off. Maybe it was a good idea to avoid having a slice.
Anyway, the point I did want to make, sweets & 'bad' food are ok once in a while, but it is important to understand what the energy content of it is and make sure you can work to burn it off. If you eat good meals most of the time, some 'bad' food can be fine in moderation. We are all human and need to be able to live a little. Hence, why I don't feel guilty about blogging this Raspberry Cheesecake which is incredibly delicious and was a hit at our Mother's Day dinner.
Berry Passion Cheesecake - recipe adapted from Australian Good Taste Magazine - January 2012
- I recommend doing steps 1-5 a day before the cheesecake is required. This will allow the cheesecake to set properly. You could allow the cheesecake to set for a few hours rather than overnight but setting it overnight will allow you to achieve better results.
250g plain biscuits (such as Marie biscuits)
135g unsalted butter, melted
60 ml warm water
3 teaspoons gelatine powder
500g cream cheese at room temperature and cut into smaller pieces
100g caster sugar
300ml thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
300g frozen raspberries (you can use fresh but I find frozen is much easier to manage)
small can of passionfruit pulp
55g caster sugar (1/4 cup), extra
1 tablespoon cornflour
60ml water, extra
butter, extra for cheesecake pan
1) To line the cheesecake pan (known as a spring form pan), rub the extra butter on the bottom and sides of the paper. Use baking paper to line the trays. Use scissors to cut any edges. Using baking paper will make it much easier to remove the cheesecake from the pan once it is ready.
2) Process the biscuits in a food processor until they are a fine crumb. Add melted butter and process until combine. Transfer to the prepared pan from step 1 and using you hands press the biscuit crumb on the bottom of the pan and up the sides (if desired). I prefer a thicker base, so I only went partway up the sides with the biscuit crumb but you can push the crumb all the way to the top of the sides if desired. Put pan in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Pressed biscuit crumb
3) After the pan has been removed from the fridge, mix the warm water with the gelatine powder. Stir until the gelatine dissolves and put aside.
4) Using an electric beater (or a Kitchenaid, if you are lucky like me) beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream and vanilla bean paste and beat until combined.
5) Add the gelatine mixture, lemon juice and half of the raspberries to the cream cheese. Fold carefully until combine. Pour this mixture over the biscuit base and put in the fridge to set.
6) Once the cheesecake is set (the following day), process the remaining half of the raspberries in the food processor and place in a saucepan. Stir in passionfruit pulp and extra sugar over a low heat. Combine the cornflour and extra water in a bowl and add to the saucepan. Stir the raspberry mixture over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened.
7) Allow raspberry mixture to cool (you can put in the fridge to cool it quicker if required). Once cool, spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake and place in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
Although this cheesecake does take some time to put together as each layer needs to set, it is quite a simple recipe to follow and it tastes amazing. The sauce does tend to run a little bit down the sides so I would recommend using a large dish to hold the cake so the dish can catch the extra sauce. One other tip I can provide is that you should leave the cheesecake out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. By letting the cake get closer to room temperature, it is much easier to remove the cake and there is less risk of the cake breaking.
As previously mentioned, this is not a very healthy dessert but it is delicious and once in a while, on a special day such as Mother's Day, a treat such as this is due.
Monday, 13 May 2013
This year my sister & I decided to take part in the Mother's Day Classic. Having completed the Fun Run for Kids a couple of months ago (15km), we decided we would both be able to tackle the 8km course - basically two laps of The Tan.
So I woke up super early on Mother's Day morning (around 5.10am - OUCH!), braided my hair, picked up my sister and headed for the course. Over the past 10 weeks, through the Get Foxy Challenge, I have seen a significant increase in my fitness. Although I did not specifically train for this course, my goal was to complete 8km in less than an hour. To me this was a completely realistic goal and beat my time for the 15km of Fun Run for the Kids (completed in 2 hours).
The weather on the day was quite good for running, except for some wind around the course. Once Vic & I got to the start line, I put my music on and started my running app. My goal was to not stop jogging/running for the entire course. Except for drink stations (which I find impossible to run and grab water) I managed to stick to this. At the end of the course, I went to stop the running app and I realised I have not actually started it! Damn! I estimated that I had taken 53-54 minutes and therefore had to postpone this blog post until today when I got the official time.
When I opened up the time today, I was so happy - 51 minutes & 20 seconds. This meant I ran about 6 minute & 24 second km's. Another way of looking at it is that I was running at 9.61km per hour. I am really excited about the result. It is a clear indication that my fitness is increasing and I now have a realistic time that I can start improving against.
I have been entering running events for a number of years but I never got great times - just finishing the courses were good enough for me. However, now I am ready to start to tackle some course with the intention of getting strong times. I have signed up for Stadium Stomp which is basically a stair run around the MCG. I am also planning to take part in the Melbourne Marathon but at this stage I am not sure which distance I want to tackle. I am confident I could do well at the half Marathon (21.1km) which I have competed in twice before (finishing in around 3 hours) but the full marathon (42.19km) will be a challenge so I am seriously considering signing up for this! I do need some more time to decide though. The event is in October so I do have some time, but I would need to up my training to compete in this event.
I also have hit a couple of milestones in my Get Foxy Challenge but I will save them for my next blog post which will hopefully be tomorrow.
Monday, 6 May 2013
I know, I know... I have been away from my blog for a while. It is mostly because I have been busy with my new routine which involves a lot more exercise as well as a number of events that have been going on. Tonight I decided to try to make cauliflower rice as a side to my Tikka Marsala. What I have found is that with adjusting my diet is that I don't want to deprive myself from food that I enjoy, it is really about making it healthier and choosing a better option. As I was craving a curry I decided to indulge but because of the 'better' choices I have made with this meal, it is much healthier than what a take-away version might have been.
So instead of having the typical naan bread and mountains of rice, I added some spinach on the side and made a cauliflower rice as a substitute. I also included a spoon of greek yoghurt with the chicken to give a little bit of extra sauce.
My cauliflower rice recipe has been adapted from this website - link
1 white onion
1 teaspoon of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1) Cut the cauliflower into small pieces and put in a food processor. Process until the cauliflower resembles rice (only about 30 seconds).
2) In a pot add oil, chopped onion and garlic. Stir until onion is golden brown.
3) Add cauliflower and spices to the pot and stir.
4) Stir occasionally for five minutes until cauliflower is warmed through. Add extra spice to taste if required.
And that is it. This cauliflower rice is so easy to make and much quicker then actual rice. Also you can have a much larger serving of it because it is vegetable rather than a grain! It would also be easy to experience with other herbs and spices to get different flavours. Considering how simple this was to make, I will be using it much more often as a substitute for rice.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Every year there are two things which I do around Anzac day. The first is attending the Essendon v Collingwood traditional Anzac day match. For the record I support the Western Bulldogs but for the sake of my fiancee, I will be cheering for the mighty Bombers tomorrow.
The second is baking Anzac biscuits to share with people from work and friends. As I have been on a diet for the most of 2013, I was worried that I would not find a very healthy recipe for Anzac biscuits. However after finding a link on my Facebook feed, I came to discover Teresa Cutter of The Healthy Chef. She has some great 'healthier' recipes for Anzac biscuits as well as many other treats which I am going to try.
The traditional story behind the Anzac biscuit is that is was made to be sent to the men fighting during WW1. Because the biscuits needed to be transported a long distance, they needed to be able to last the journey and have nutritional value. Therefore oats were used in the Anzac biscuit and honey or maple syrup was used rather than eggs to bind the biscuits. There was two ways to bake an Anzac biscuit. You either want them to be crisp or soft & chewy. I much prefer soft & chewy but if you prefer a more crisp biscuit just keep it in the oven for a few minutes longer.
Healthy Anzac Biscuits - recipe adapted from Teresa Cutter
1 cup organic wholemeal spelt flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup natural unrefined brown sugar (I wasn't sure what the difference was but I used normal brown sugar)
1 cup rolled oats
125g quality unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Pinch of bicarb soda
1 tablespoon warm water
1) Mix the spelt flour, coconut, brown sugar & rolled oats in a bowl.
2) Melt butter, vanilla & honey in a small pot over low heat
3) Combine bicarb soda and water in a bowl.
4) Stir the bicarb mixture into the butter until combined
5) Remove butter mixture from heat and combine with oats mixture until a dough forms
6) Rest the dough for 30 minutes at room temperature
7) Form into small round balls and put on lined baking trays. Ensure there is about 5cm between each biscuit so they can spread.
8) Bake in an oven which has been preheated to 150c
9) Cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown (they should be soft in the middle when you take them out of the oven) They will harden a bit outside of the oven.
10) Once completely coll store in an airtight container for up to a week.
These little babies have about 403kj's (96 calories). Whilst I would not snack on them everyday, they are a treat which does not have to have a massive impact to your diet. I will be enjoying my Anzac biscuit tomorrow with a nice cup of tea.
Thank-you to all the servicemen & women who have so bravely fought for our country in the past, currently & in the future. Australia is truly an amazing country and it is important to remember what these men & women did fight for. I also remember the people of both sides who may have never made it home. Lest we Forget.