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Christmas is a time for family. And this year, for the first time in my life, I’m not spending Christmas with mine.

 

There will no Christmas cake made by Dad, no Christmas wishlists, and no Christmas craziness with my family.

 

It’s always hard being away from family. But it’s almost unbearable at Christmas.

 

As the days build up to my favorite time of year, I’m trying to focus on all my blessings. There are SO many!

 

My first “real” Christmas tree!

 

Christmas tree

 

The cutest Baby Jesus ornament. I say hello to it everyday.

 

Christmas ornament

 

My first Christmas in New York.

 

Rockerfellar tree

 

My new job that promises a full and exciting year ahead, and wonderful colleagues! (SO grateful about this one!)

 

New work place

 

Friends who share, and eat, and laugh together.

 

christmas party

 

The most fun Advent gift exchange, where everyday is a surprise, a laugh and a beautiful memory!

 

Advent gifts

 

And this guy – who reminds me everyday, that this, right here, just us, is also a brand new family <3

 

Dennis and me

 

I miss everyone at home terribly, but there is so much to grateful for, to celebrate and to love.

 

Family

 

I wish I could be with this crazy family right now, and I’m sending them all so much love.

 

And while we’re talking about Christmas, just in case you haven’t baked a Christmas cake yet and need a super quick, no-fuss recipe, I’ve got you covered. No chopping, no soaking fruits for hours – just lots of rum :) (Look below!)

 

Wishing you all a joyful Christmas! Hope you’re spending it with the ones you love the most. It’s the most wonderful time of the year <3

 

A Lazy Girl’s Christmas Cake

 Christmas cake

 

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 2 hours, plus soaking and resting
Serves: 12

 

Ingredients:

2 cups assorted nuts (I used cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
2 cups assorted raisins
11/2 cup spiced rum
170g/1 and a 1/2 sticks butter, softened, plus more for greasing
200g/1 cup light brown sugar, plus more to dust
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon powder
170g/1 and a 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

 

Cake on the cake stand

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and grease a loaf tin with butter. Place the nuts and raisins in a medium bowl. Heat the rum until it gently simmers and pour over the nuts and raisins. Let cool, then cover and leave for 15 minutes. Strain out the nuts and raisins and reserve the liquid.
2. With an electric beater, whip together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs (one at a time) and beat again. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest and cinnamon powder, mixing again. You should have a smooth batter. Now add the flour and baking powder and beat until it’s all incorporated. Toss in the nuts and raisins and mix by hand until evenly distributed.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, dust with some more sugar, and bake for about 2 hours, or until dark brown on top and cooked through. Remove from the oven, and while still warm, use a spoon to gently pour the reserved liquid all over the cake. Let it sit, allowing it to absorb for 4-6 hours or overnight. Slice gently, and serve.

It’s fall!

 

That beautiful yellow and orange and red and golden time of the year.

 

There are trees like this one to marvel at!

 

Us with a yellow tree

 

And pretty leaves that look like magic.

 

Bright leaves

 

It feels orange everywhere you go, and I love it.

 

Fall leaves with shoes

 

Fall is also the time of pumpkin spice everything. Seriously, read this article to see what I mean.

 

Pumpkin pie though – that’s a classic.

 

Pumpkin pie 1

 

I added pumpkin spice chocolate chips to make it extra pumpkin-y!

 

Pumpkin pie 3

 

Creamy pumpkin filling flavoured with warm spices and baked in a graham crust until golden and slightly wobbly and perfect.

 

Pumpkin pie 4

 

A slice of warm pumpkin pie is probably the food equivalent of fall.

 

So here’s the fastest and easiest way to make some and get that pumpkin-spicy goodness in your mouth :D

 
Pumpkin Pie

 

Recipe adapted from: Libby’s

 

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 65 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 8

 

Ingredients:

 

Pumpkin pie 2

 

1 can/15oz pumpkin puree
170g/3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can/12 fl oz evaporated milk
140g/5oz pumpkin spice chocolate chips
1 9-inch graham pie crust
whipped cream, to serve (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the pumpkin puree with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves. Mix well until the sugar melts completely and the spices are incorporated in the puree. Remove from the heat and cool.
2. Crack the eggs into the cooled puree, add the evaporated milk and mix well to combine until you have a smooth filling.
3. Scatter the chocolate chips over the pie crust and then pour in the filling. Bake at 220ºC/425ºF for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180ºC/350ºF and bake for another 50 minutes. Cool for 2 hours before serving with whipped cream.

 

Pumpkin pie 5

 

Super easy Banana Bread

What’s up guys?

 

It’s been a busy few weeks here – summer is over and fall is upon us!

 

I’m looking forward to the slightly cooler weather, boots, and pumpkin spice everything!

 

We’ve been soaking up the last bit of the summer with friends.

 

Friends 1

 

Some of whom have the cutest babies.

 

Friends 2

 

Oh, also we decorated our living room.

 

Home before and after

 

Not bad, right? We’re doing OK at this “adult” thing?

 

What didn’t look very nice on my kitchen counter was this.

 

Black banana

 

I had also just bought a beautiful new loaf dish so it was a no brainer really, that I was going to make Banana bread!

 

Loaf dish

 

This Banana bread is crazy moist and delicious and it will make your home smell amazing.

 

Banana bread 1

 

I know walnuts are the usual choice of nuts for Banana bread, but try this recipe with pecans, won’t you? They aren’t as bitter, and become sorta chewy and so yummy after baking with the banana-y batter.

 

Pecans

 

I love recipes where you essentially dump all the ingredients into a bowl, mix and bake. This is one of those! I told ya it was super easy! :D

 

Super easy Banana Bread

 

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

 

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 80 mins
Serves: 10

 

Ingredients:

 

4 over-ripe bananas, skins removed
2 eggs
340g/1 and 1/2 cup caster sugar
120ml/half cup vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
60ml/quarter cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
100g/1 cup pecans (roughly chopped)
200g/1 and 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF and grease a loaf dish. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla extract, and pecans.
2. Sift in the flour and baking soda. Mix together until everything is well combined.
3. Pour into the loaf dish and bake for 80 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, before cutting into slices to serve.

 

Banana bread 2

 

So I’m actively looking a job. Not just any job – but one that I’ll actually love.

 

You know the type – when you wake up in the morning excited to leap out of bed?

 

That’s the one.

 

Job hunting can get rather frustrating though, when you don’t hear back from the right places.

 

Some days I feel like this cute animal.

 

Koala

 

On others, I want to do this.

 

Resume humor

 

Everyone says this is the best time to relax and unwind, because once work starts, it will always be crazy.

 

In that spirit, I am watching several new shows on Netflix, coloring in my adult coloring book (SO fun btw!), and baking stuff like this crazy addictive, insanely good, (rather evil to tell you the truth), BACON CRACK.

 

It starts with these 5 ingredients.

 

Bacon crack

 

And ends in this sweet, sticky, glazy, crunchy mess you cannot stop eating.

 

Bacon crack

 

There is something wonderful about the salty meatiness of bacon marrying with the dark brown stickiness of maple syrup and brown sugar – all over a crisp piece of buttery dough.

 

Bacon crack

 

This is super addictive and can result in stomach aches (not from experience, just guessing :P ) so eat it in moderation. It stores well too – in an airtight container, on the counter.

 

Needless to say, when I do start working, I will look (very) well-fed! :D

 

Happy weekend guys! Eat some bacon!

 

5 ingredient Bacon crack

 

Recipe adapted from: Oh Bite It!

 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins, plus cooling
Makes: 20 medium pieces

 

Ingredients:

 

450g/1lb bacon, ends and pieces, or slices
226g/8oz pack Pillsbury Crescent dough sheet
120ml/half cup maple syrup
200g/1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika or cayanne pepper powder (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF. Fry off the bacon in a pan until semi cooked and set aside on a paper towel.
2. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and un-roll the dough sheet over it evenly. Use a fork to make small, shallow holes in the dough sheet.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush about half the maple syrup all over the dough sheet gently. Distribute all the bacon pieces evenly across the dough and then brush over with the remaining maple syrup. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and paprika (if using).

 

Bacon crack

 

4. Bake for about 25 minutes and then remove, leaving to cool completely. The bacon crack will harden as it cools. Once cool, break into uneven pieces and eat!

 

Bacon crack

 

If you watch MasterChef Australia, you’ve heard about the notoriously hard-to-get-perfect dessert called Panna Cotta. (BTW, if you do watch MasterChef, read this) :P

 

It’s a thing of beauty. Usually pearly white, with a slight wobble, and silken smooth when your spoon cuts through it.

 

Panna Cotta is essentially cooked cream that’s set in a mould with gelatin. You could sweeten it with sugar or honey, and add any other flavors you want. Most often, it’s served with some sort of fruit compote or purée.

 

I’ve made a Coconut milk Panna Cotta before, but I never un-moulded it for fear of it falling apart.

 

So I decided to be brave and make a simple Panna Cotta I could un-mould and serve in all its wobbly, white glory.

 
Panna Cotta 1
 

I experimented with different amounts of gelatin and made it a few times until I got the texture absolutely right.

 

I also played around with a few fruit flavors and textures.

 
Panna Cotta 2
 

This is the perfect summer dessert – it’s delicate and cold, and can be eaten within 4 hours of putting it in the fridge to set.

 

My recipe makes exactly 2 serves, but feel free to double/triple.

 

Make this for someone special today – and watch them smile as you bring out the perfect wobble :)

 
Panna Cotta 3
 

Panna Cotta

 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 6 mins, plus 4+ hours setting
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

120 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
180 ml (3/4 cup) full cream
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
fruit compote or purée of your choice (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Pour the milk into a pan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Place the pan over a medium heat and stir gently and continuously until the gelatin dissolves (about 3 minutes) but make sure it doesn’t boil. Now add the cream and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves (another 3 minutes).
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into 2 custard cups and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set (more is okay, but not less.)
4. To un-mould, run a knife around the edge of the cup and then dip it into a pan of boiling water for a few seconds. Immediately turn over onto the serving plate and tap to release the Panna Cotta. You may need to repeat the dip a few times, but it will un-mould eventually. I promise!
Note: For a fresh cherry sauce, un-pit and chop up a handful of cherries and place in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of rum or whisky, mixing well. Leave for an hour and then serve. For a peach or mango purée, blend the flesh of the fruit with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of cream and serve. Use any fruits or sauces – the plain Panna Cotta takes on any flavor really well :)

Food cravings are like wizards.

 

They appear out of nowhere (POOF!) and swirl a wand about (WHOOSH!) and say to you – You need a gooey, dark chocolate cake in your life.

 

It looks like this, the wizard says. Exactly like this.

 
Chocolate lava cake 3
 

You have to make one this very minute, the wizard says. No, I don’t care that it’s 11 pm and you’re in your pyjamas. You want this NOW.

 

All that’s left to do is give into the wizard’s command. He looks like Gandalf okay? Can you say no that face?

 
Gandalf
 

So I put together this gooey, delicious dark chocolate batter and pop it in the oven.

 
Chocolate lava cake 1
 

Look how you can tell the centre is still soft underneath once its ready? 😍

 
Chocolate lava cake 2
 

This lava cake has to be eaten the second it comes out of the oven. When you cut into it and see the warm and intensely chocolate-ty centre ooze out, you will know everything is right with the world.

 
Chocolate lava cake 5
 

The wizard knows my soul.

 

Chocolate Lava Cake for two

 

Recipe adapted from: Buzzfeed’s Christine Byrne

 

Prep time: 12 mins
Cook time: 11 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

2 tbsp butter (unsalted and at room temperature), plus a bit more to grease the ramekins
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a bit more for the ramekins
115 g dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour, sifted
pinch of salt
a couple drops of vanilla extract
icing sugar to dust (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200º C. Grease two small ramekins with butter and then scatter some caster sugar into each bowl, turning the ramekin around as you do, so that the base and sides are well covered. Tip the ramekin over once done, and throw away any sugar that falls out.
2. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave in 2-3 bursts of 30 seconds each, stirring well between each burst, until completely melted.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl with the sugar. Cream into a paste using an electric mixer and then add the eggs. Whisk for a minute until everything combines, then add the flour, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk again until well combined.
4. Using a spatula, fold about a third of the melted chocolate into the batter. Slowly add the rest of the chocolate and keep folding until you have a uniform and smooth batter. Pour into the prepared ramekins and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until the edges of the cake begin to come away from the ramekins. Leave to rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and then flip onto serving plates. Dust with icing sugar to decorate if you wish, and serve immediately.

 
Chocolate lava cake 4
 

Key Lime Pie

Summer has arrived, and she brings with her many wonderful things. (Bless her sunshiny soul.)

 

She brings afternoons spent in beautiful parks, filled with happy people marvelling at the golden light and bright skies.

 

Prospect park

 

She brings walks with adorable dogs who tire very quickly and then plonk themselves down in the middle in the road, leaving you wondering what you should do. (I thought it best to take a photograph as you can see. I have the BEST ideas.)

 

Dog walking

 

She brings happy outdoor birthday parties with tiny beings and ice-cream cake.

 

Outdorr birthday

 

She brings lazy brunches, funny conversations, many iced drinks and big smiles.

 

Brunch

 

And she brings an appreciation for just how beautiful everything around us really is.

 

Prospect park lake

 

Did I mention she also brings some fabulous pie?

 

Key lime pie, to be specific!

 

Key lime 1

 

If summer was a pie, this would be it.

Sweet, but tart.
Light, yet indulgent.
Crumbly and smooth.

This dessert is summer in a tart tin.

 

Key lime 2

 

Super easy to make, and requiring only a few ingredients, make this today and welcome Lady Summer.

 

She doesn’t stay long (at least for me) so I want to impress :)

 

Here’s how you do it.

 

Key Lime Pie

 

Recipe adapted from: Pioneer Woman

 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins, plus cooling and setting time
Serves: 8

 

Ingredients:

 

200 g Graham crackers, crushed into small pieces
75 g caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp lime zest, plus more to garnish
120 ml lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 tin (approx 400 ml) sweet condensed milk
 
Key lime 4

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix the cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter together until well combined. Press the mixture into the base of a 13-inch rectangular tart tin with a removable bottom. Bake for 5 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
2. Mix the lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks with an electric whisk. Add the condensed milk and mix at a high speed until creamy and smooth. Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, garnish with zest, and leave to cool. Once cool, refrigerate for about 2 hours, before gently removing from the tart tin and slicing to serve.

 

Key lime 5

 

Enjoy the warmth and light and shorts weather while it lasts. Happy Summer guys! <3

 

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