December was ridiculously busy, fun and featured an embarrassing amount of food and cocktails. Plus it was my birthday, so more the reason to celebrate!
♥ The Beach
I was finally convinced to go to the beach on a beautiful sunny day, I hid in a cave at first. I eventually got in the water and gave snorkelling a go, I had a great time! I have since returned for beachside walks and post-work swims – something I want to do on a more regular basis.
♥ Ticking more restaurants off my list
I managed to check out quite a few places on my never-ending list of places to eat around Sydney. Brunch at Orto was amazing and I can’t wait to return (why did it take me so long to get here when I live around the corner?!)
Queenies was delicious Jamaican food featuring jerk chicken, sweet potato fries and bammies (a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread)
Santa Barbara is a Hawaiian Restaurant with delicious bings (asian-style tacos), more sweet potato fries (obsessed), chicken burgers and popcorn with pineapple and bacon chunks! They also have a great cocktail menu and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite places in Sydney for a drink and nibble.
Ippudo – so far I have only tried the takeaway ramen so I can’t comment on the famous pork buns which are sadly unavailable for t/a (tear). The broth was delicious but I found the noodles underwhelming.
And I finally made it to The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish to sample their delicious treats. The caramel slice and malteser pie were particularly amazing! I must return to give their milkshakes and burgers a go.
♥ An Embarrassing Amount of Cocktails…
I didn’t realise just how many cocktails were consumed during December until I went through my photos (and I haven’t even included the 1 litre mojito that was consumed at my work lunch!) Here are some highlights of the tastiest.
Clockwise from the top left we have the Amazing Perfect from Lil Darling, a Downtown Iced Tea from Santa Barbara, a giant cocktail made in a watermelon from The Norfolk and finally 2 very delicious cocktails from 4Fourteen.
♥ Iced Coffee Obsession
After drinking iced coffee daily in Vietnam I have been getting huge cravings for it here as the weather warms up. Unfortunately I can’t find the authentic Viet coffee with sweetened condensed milk too easily around where I work, so I have been settling for a “skim latte over ice”. Delicious and the perfect summer caffeine fix. Oh and the odd iced coffee with the works – ice cream and whipped cream, when I feel like a treat!
♥ My Birthday
And then it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate for a week because why not? Firstly I was taken to 4Fourteen for an absolutely amazing dinner featuring a ruben roll (pictured), roast pork, colcannon and the most amazing white chocolate sandwich with dulce de leche. I need to return.
A few nights later I was taken to Movida for my second birthday dinner. Here we have anchovies, goats curd + quince cigars, air baguette with “rost biff” and beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez.
And spicy pork ribs (best!!), salt cod fritters and grilled asparagus. A wonderful treat!
Then I had a birthday picnic Saturday morning with lots of lovely food bloggers! We went to Flour and Stone, bought out half the store, then headed to The Domain for a picnic. It was such a lovely way to spend the morning of my birthday with my new friends I made through this blog.
They stuck candles in the lamingtons and sang Happy Birthday to me, aw! (Life changing lamingtons, btw).
I had my second birthday party at The Norfolk and I wore a cat dress! I will not post any more photos from that night for fear of incrimination… I may have worn a watermelon on my head at one stage.
I had a nice time catching up with the family and actually loved the rainy stormy weather that Sydney encountered on Christmas Day. I baked ginger cupcakes, brownie cupcakes with strawberry santa hats and peanut butter M&M cookies plus I painted my nails coral and mint green to try and look “festive”.
I had a lovely dinner at Longrain for NYE with a great bunch of friends and got to wear my new sparkly dress. What a great way to finish a great year!
♥ A New Toy
Not much has happened in 2013 thus far as I got sick on the second day of the year and was bed ridden for a while. Hmmpf. But I did buy myself a new toy… the Olympus XZ-1! It’s been years since I have used a point and shoot camera, however this one has a lot of custom settings and the ability to set the focal point so I have high hopes for it.
I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and is settling back into the reality of work!
This time of year is often stressful for a lot of us, not only does the financial and emotional pressure often take its toll (don’t you love those family fights?), travelling during this period can be a complete nightmare! Fortunately for me I am staying put this year, my family is coming from QLD and as far as Norway to celebrate and I don’t have to brave those terrible airport queues or holiday traffic disasters!
I love a good infographic, and this one by CarInsurance.org sums up our sense of duty during the festive season to visit our loved ones and families – with 91% of us travelling by car (ugh). Stay safe on the roads, try not to scream at Grandma and eat LOTS of ham.
This month’s SABH is of course Christmas themed – Sweets for Santa! One of my favourite combinations is strawberry and chocolate (as seen here), and I loved the idea of individual brownie cupcakes decorated with strawberries, cream and white chocolate for the perfect Santa treat.
- 190g soft butter
- 190g dark chocolate
- 3 eggs
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 75g chopped hazelnuts (or nut of your choice)
- 75g white chocolate chips
- 12 Strawberries
- 50g white chocolate
- 200ml pouring cream
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan or in short bursts in the microwave.
- In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
- Sift the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
- Let the chocolate mixture cool a bit before beating in the egg and sugar mixture, and then the nuts, white choc chips and flour.
- Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for around 20 minutes.
- When it’s ready the top should be dried to a pale brown but the middle still dark and slightly gooey.
- Cut the base off each strawberry so they can sit upright.
- Melt the white chocolate and spoon into a plastic zip lock bag. Snip a small corner off one end of the bag and carefully pipe a dot on the tip of each strawberry. Allow to cool and harden.
- Pipe a dot about the size of a 10cm coin in the middle of each brownie and press a strawberry down on each cupcake. This acts like a tasty glue!
- Beat the cream with electric beaters until firm peaks form. Spoon into a piping bag with a star nozzle attached and pipe little stars around the base of each strawberry.
Tada! Little Santa hats!
I woke up early on Saturday morning with a mixture of excitement and stress. It was the day of the Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas Picnic – hooray for catching up with friends, meeting new people and eating delicious food. But I hadn’t baked anything! After the success of my ginger cupcakes at the last Food Bloggers Picnic I knew I had to create something equally delicious. I settled on my spiced cookies with salted caramel buttercream.
The cookies came out of the oven fragrant and crunchy from their raw sugar coating. It took all my willpower not to devour several whilst I waited for them to cool down!
I sandwiched them together with salted caramel buttercream and they looked delish! But alas as the salted caramel took forever to cool down I was running late…
I must admit I spent far too much time socialising and eating instead of taking photos of all the delicious food, but here is a sample of some of the delicious creations!
First up we have a gorgeous Strawberry Fresh Cream Cake (shaped like a Pig) by Jen Is Hungry
Delicious krokets by Irenes Getting Fat
Cookie Dough Dip with Apple and Biscuits by Cooking Crusade
Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies by Spoonfuls of Goodness
Rhubarb Meringue Tarts by Muppy (these were heavenly!)
Homemade Cheese Plate (!!) by Nic Cooks - I didn’t get to try any of Nic’s delicious looking homemade cheeses nooo!! Feel free to make some more?? :)
Thai Chicken Wonton Cups by The Sticky and Sweet. These were absolutely delicious, I must get the recipe!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Quinoa Crust by 84th & 3rd. I am often sceptical of vegan desserts as I feel the more butter and eggs the better, but JJ’s pie was delicious! And she ensured it had no nuts so I could safely devour it hooray!
Donuts! I have no idea who bought these but thankyou. I love donuts :)
Thanksgiving Turkeys by Gucci & Gyoza. So adorable!
A quick glance of my container and half the cookies had promptly disappeared. They were shortly polished off as sun + buttercream are not friends and things got really messy really quickly!!
And of course the obligatory group shot!
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day with family or friends and eating FAR too much.
I made these festive ginger cupcakes for visiting relatives and they were a huge hit! Feel free to add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the cream cheese icing for an extra flavour hit.
- 340g butter (room temperature)
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 250g cream cheese (room temperature)
- 120g butter (room temperature)
- 3 cups icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
- Beat in golden syrup, vanilla extract and eggs, 1 at a time.
- Sift flour with spices and add to wet mixture. Mix until just combined (over mixing can result in tougher cupcakes).
- Fill cupcake wrappers ¾ full and bake in the oven for around 20-25 mins or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
- Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
Wow, it’s hard to imagine that this time last year I was in Europe freezing my butt off and finally getting to experience a White Christmas! As an Australian, Christmas has always meant a stinking hot day with a BBQ and lots of salads followed by a swim and a nap. But I had always yearned for that quintessential white Christmas experience – snow covered buildings, mulled wine, and CHRISTMAS MARKETS!
First stop was Munich. The Christmas Markets in Munich are located in Marienplatz and run from Nov 25th – Dec 24th with opening hours of Monday – Saturday 10 a.m – 8.30 p.m and Sunday 10 a.m – 7.30 p.m.
The most famous Christmas market is the Christkindl market.
The Munich markets are breathtakingly beautiful with fairy lights lining the streets and illuminated Christmas trees and stars dotted around the marketplace.
The Rathaus (new Town Hall) looks even more beautiful lit up at night and serves as the perfect backdrop for these markets.
I LOVE gingerbread. Gingerbread stalls are everywhere, coming in different shapes and sizes. Happy Swah!
There are beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, photo frames and dolls for sale throughout the market place.
There are other smaller Christmas markets dotted around Munich, we stumbled upon this one whilst out sightseeing one day.
I LOVE YOU gingerbread. I demolished this in a day.
My next stop were the Prague Christmas markets. I was only going to walk by and briefly check them out but I actually enjoyed these markets even more than the famous Munich ones! The Prague markets are located at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and run from 26 November – 08 January. Their opening hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m – 7 p.m and Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m – 8 p.m.
Gorgeous Christmas trees are lit up with fairy lights throughout the Prague markets.
Similarly to the Munich markets, Prague stalls sold a variety of crafts, sweets and mulled wine.
The Prague markets also serve a dessert called Trdlo. It is a cylindrical pastry that is rolled in sugar and almonds. It looked and smelled amazing but as I am allergic to almonds I only could stare and sniff. :(
Even walking back to my hotel there were Christmas decorations and lights everywhere! It was like a fairy tale.
In the day time the Christmas markets are still beautiful (and a lot less busy). What a great time I had experiencing my first White Christmas :)
- 120g butter
- 250g crunchy peanut butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups flour
- ⅓ tsp baking powder
- 1 x 230g M&M baking bits/mini M&Ms
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter, butter and sugars.
- Add egg and beat until light and fluffy.
- Blend flour and baking powder mix into creamed mixture until just combined.
- Stir in M&Ms.
- Spoon tablespoonfuls of mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (leave about 5 cm between each cookie)
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden
For a Christmas twist, hunt down the red and green M&Ms available in supermarkets during December and use them instead. Festive and delicious!
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