Creamy Beetroot, Mint and Pecan Dip

What do you do with left over beetroot? You make easy dip ofc!!

I love making dips at home. Firstly, you know EXACTLY what is in it! That is the best part. There is no added sugar, there are no preservatives, and no fake stuff. Plus, making dip is SOO easy! Trust me, once you start making your own, you will not go back to anything from the store. And this one is just so simple!

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You can make this same recipe using tinned beetroot directly, but I love the sweetness that beetroot picks up from roasting it. It does mean the dip takes a bit longer to make, but it’s an easy step with no fuss. Just clean, peel, slice, roast and rest. o real heavy work.

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I like using pecans in this dip, largely because I always have pecans in the house.But you can use pine nuts, hazelnuts or even almonds. Literally grab what you have lying around to give this dip a delicious nutty texture and flavour. The mint just makes this dip so fresh and is the perfect compliment to sweet beetroot and the nuts too.

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Now if you have left over feta, go ahead and add that with the cream cheese. It will add a tasty salty element to the dip. Plain cream cheese works a treat, and that is usually how I do it.

All you need to do is blitz everything in a food processor until smooth and creamy and then serve with some chips, a touch of paprika and olive oil. Yum yum!

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Review: Mr Wong’s

Mr. Wong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So to celebrate my birthday *sigh I am getting older* among other important things, we headed to Mr Wong’s in Sydney’s CBD, and boy was I truly impressed. Tucked away in an alleyway with very modest signage is this wonderful restaurant, that isn’t small at all. Upon entering you feel gusts of cool breeze (It’s the aerodynamics of the room #engineeringgraduaterighthere) and you see the expansive set up all decorated in a colonial french theme. I loved the colors, the vibe, the ambience, and the sounds from the place – it was all so cozy and inviting.

We had a reservation, but we were a little early. Thankfully they seated us right away. Now the first thing I noticed, were how friendly and smiley the wait staff was. Not a single one looked unhappy or b***hy – something I have noticed in the city. The second thing I noticed was how incredibly loud the table next to us was. Here we were having an intimate dinner while a bunch of corporate dressed men were swearing their heads off. It did ruin the mood a little, but alas not the fault of the restaurant itself.

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Oh and you can literally see the chefs working! It’s so wonderful! The open kitchen really shows you the story of how the food is made and I loved it. The fact that the kitchen was so beautifully clean was another awesome point.

Now to the bits and bobs of the food and menu. Firstly, the wine list – so good!! They have a fabulous range of drinks to serve, which I loved. We didn’t order anything too heavy, considering it was only the afternoon. We stuck to a simple Reisling and Rose wine. We also were offered complimentary tea, which I really enjoyed. I chose Chrysanthemum, which is deliciously nutty and subtle and perfect with food. I would definitely recommend grabbing a nice tea during your meal, I find that it helps all the food just go down well.

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Okay, the menu. It’s expansive! I loved that there were multiple dim sum options, and they were certainly very unique. I had never seen aubergine (eggplant) and chicken together in a dumpling, thought we didn’t order it.

We stuck with our favourite, the Pork xiao long bao, a delicious steamed dumpling which has a broth encased. It’s incredibly hot so you need to ‘pop’ the dumpling before eating it otherwise you will burn your mouth. Would I recommend it. Yes. Hell yes I would. The dumpling was soft and delicious and the pork was tender and flavourful. The broth wasn’t overpowering at all and just complimented the meat beautifully.

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For mains we decided to order the Kung Pao Chicken, along with the ‘Typhoon shelter type’ King crab fried rice. The rice was such a treat to the eyes. The speckles of the crab meat, the garlic, the rice, and chilli were just beautiful. The rice itself was surprisingly light, and not oily at all which I really loved. Normally I find fried rice at restaurants just drenched in oil, with all it’s flavour taken over by this oil. But not at Mr Wong’s. The rice was perfectly seasoned, and was just so damn good! In my opinion this was one of the best fried rice’s I had ever eaten.

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The Kung Pao Chicken was wonderful. Just wonderful. It was a true balance of sweet, spicy and salty – umami :P. The chicken had a beautiful smokey color and flavour, and the roasted peanuts were just a lovely crunchy compliment to the soft and tender meat. The meal came with fried chilli as well, and not only were these great to look at, but they tasted phenomenal when eaten with pieces of chicken and rice also. Β The green’s along with the chicken balanced the saltyness of the meal greatly, and offered some color and freshness to the meal and palate too. With the fried rice… it was absolute perfection.

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Did we order dessert? Sadly. No we didn’t – We got macron’s from Adriano Zumbo in QVB instead ❀

Okay time to rate the place. My favourite part.

Food: 10/10

I really have nothing more to say about it. It was delicious.

Service: 9/10

I’m only taking a point off because the wait staff that looked after us was a little slow, and well forgetful :/

Ambiance: 10/10

They have done a fantastic job at Mr Wong’s in bringing in a bit of history and culture into the restaurant. The whole place is warm, and inviting and tells a little story about the food and everything behind it. The fact that the kitchen is completely open to everyone, is a huge added bonus.

The menu: 9.5/10

Half a point off because I would have liked to see more chicken in the meat section of the menu, but otherwise this one is really great.

Total score: 38.5/40 OR 9.625/10 πŸ˜€

Would I go back. Of course.

Malaysian Style Marinated Chicken

So I initially wanted to make Satay chicken, now the chicken itself could absolutely be served with a home made or store bought satay sauce, but I will also go through my delicious tamarind sauce that pairs amazing with the chicken and can also be used as a marinade too πŸ™‚

It has been a while since I made some chicken, so I figured why not? Now I used chicken thighs, really just for the flavour and tenderness of this meat, but if you want to go for the healthy variation use chicken breast instead. Of course bone-in skin on would be the most flavourful, but to make life a little easy I went with skinless and boneless thigh fillets. Chicken tenderloins would work as well!

This recipe is really quite simple. I recommend blitzing the peanuts for the tamarind sauce FIRST, and then processing up the marinade followed by the other sauce ingredients. In terms of the marinade, I’ve made this quite mild, but do feel free to add plenty more chili. If you don’t really have time to marinate the chicken, it’s fine to liberally coat the meat and fry everything up, but ideally overnight will ensure tender flavorsome chicken.

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Again, the ideal situation is to grill the chicken on a grill plate or barbecue to to get that beautiful and delicious charred flavour, but pan frying or roasting them in the oven work well too. Honestly, I do find it just a bit easier on the clean up side of things to just use a non-stick fry pan or pot (particularly on those work/school nights). Just ensure to move the chicken around in the fry pan to ensure you get color on the chicken, by removing it from areas of high moisture. This is the obvious downside to using a fry pan or pot, but in the end the choice is yours as to which cooking method to use.

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Now the marinade is easy and delicious and packed full of flavour. I mixed up tamarind, chili, lemongrass, a touch of lime juice, fresh coriander leaves and stalks, ground coriander, peanut oil, some water, shallots, turmeric and garlic. SO much flavour and variation in one go. Trust me, this marinade is just bang on.

The sauce is really very similar, but of course I added peanuts. I cooked off the sauce before serving to get rid of any raw garlic and shallot flavor. For the sauce I used plenty of tamarind, lime, peanuts (as I said), garlic, ginger, shallots (as I said), dried chilli, chili powder, turmeric, coriander leaves and stalks, ground coriander, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), peanut oil, lemongrass, and water. Here the essential differences between the sauce and marinade, is that I chose to use dried chili and peanuts in the sauce and ofc the soy addition.

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Now this marinade, and this sauce could be directly used as a marinade for fish and ofc (in the case of the sauce) a marinade for chicken. Trust me it turns out delicious.

Okay. Recipe time!

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Trust me, try this one. It is SOO good.

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Easy Blueberry Loaf

I was feeling kind of under the weather when I decided to make this loaf bread, but I thought… you know what? I have to do something! I couldn’t just waste the day away in bed with my episodes of New Girl and Chicago P.D. Yes. I am a tv show nut.

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Back to my loaf. Originally I wanted to make this loaf with oats, but alas I was out of oats. How this happened I have no clue. I leave the country for 3 months and my family just forgets to buy certain things! So I improvised and went with half self-raising and half whole wheat flour. Not everyone enjoys the sort of strong taste of the whole wheat. Now I loaded this loaf with blueberries. I literally wanted them to be bursting out from every little slice and direction. It’s like how I love my blueberry muffins – absolutely loaded.

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While writing out the recipe I couldn’t help but think about all the other recipes I wanted to try out, and ofc write! Things like doughnuts and other baked goodies. Even though I am not really baker. No harm in the attempt right? I am actually super excited to be cooking and baking! I have probably said it heaps of times, but now that I am working full-time I am incredibly psyched to be cooking and packing lunches and easy dinners. Oh and finally, I am not studying on the weekends!!! Do you know how much time I now have to dedicate to the miniature kitchen?!?

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Okay end of the rant. This recipe is very easy, and honestly doesn’t need much equipment. I just like to make sure the wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately. I make sure I whisk through the dry ingredients to break down any lumps and bumps prior to folding the wet ingredients with a a wooden spoon. It is THAT simple! Remember to keep the milk and egg out for a little time to raise the temperature slightly, in particular the egg. The egg MUST be at room temp!

In terms of the milk, I went ahead and made my own buttermilk. All you need to do is mix the whole milk with apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. Personally I think either works a treat. You need to let this sit out for around 15-30 minutes to allow the buttermilk to prepare. Of course… you could just buy the buttermilk, but sometimes making it yourself is fun too! You can otherwise add 2 spoons of yogurt to the milk and whisk that through.

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When preparing the blueberries you need to do an extra step. I prefer using frozen berries because they don’t rip apart at the slightest touch, but fresh is obviously better. In either case you need to coat the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour. What this essentially does is ensures that the blueberries do not ALL sink to the bottom. It’s sort of acts like an adhesive to the wet batter and holds the berries up while baking. Don’t believe me? Look at the little specks of blue/black while this bad boy was baking! They stayed right at the top πŸ™‚ Without the flour, the berries would have collected at the bottom so that when you sliced into the loaf you would just have lumps of berries down the bottom and not a pretty result πŸ˜›

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Alrighty! Recipe card time! πŸ˜€ Do we like these cards? I’m hoping to add a few features to these cards, so stay tuned! You will notice in the recipe I write that you can cover the loaf tin if the color of the bread has already developed into a lovely golden brown. Cover it with aluminum foil to actually stop the top from burning, and trap a lot of the heat within the space under the foil to essentially steam the rest of the loaf. This will ensure a lovely crust, and deliciously soft and moist bread.

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Seriously, try the recipe. It’s moist and delicious and oh so good.

 

 

Bang Bang Broccoli

Okay so I have been wanting to make this recipe for AGES! But every time I ended up buying broccoli it was for some other recipe, usually a Thai curry, or a stir fry. So FINALLY I had a whole bunch of broccoli left, and I had a free Saturday (full disclosure I was actually meant to go out for a fancy dinner but got a tad bit sick the night before *sigh*). So here we go.

Now the first awesome thing about this recipe is that you can make it completely VEGAN! Yay! πŸ™‚ Otherwise it is ofc 100% vegetarian, so a bonus. This recipe is quick, simple and works fantastic as a 3:30pm snack, or even an accompaniment for lunch. Simple, delicious, crunchy and healthy – what more do you need?

So you want to start by cleaning the broccoli really well. It’s the kind of vegetable that a lot of mold and/or bugs can really latch onto. Use lukewarm water to soak the broccoli for around 3-5 minutes, and then pat dry on paper towels. Make sure you dry it off well, otherwise the batter will not coat the broccoli properly.

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Then make the sauce. Oh the sauce. SO much delicious in on little go. Set the sauce aside so that it reaches room temp, and thins out as well. This is important to ensure you get a consistent coating of the broccoli when you toss it all together. I add garlic powder to my recipe because I love that added hit, but if you aren’t a fan then omit it completely. If you choose to use Sriracha in your sauce, then skip the garlic powder otherwise the flavour will be far too overpowering. Trust me.

Next up, the batter. You want to start by mixing the apple cider vinegar with the milk, even if you are using a vegan milk substitute. This will basically make an instant buttermilk for you. You can use buttermilk, but I personally like the fruity tartness of the apple cider vinegar. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and hot sauce. Pour in the milk and vinegar mixture and whisk everything well until the batter is nice and smooth.

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Cut up the broccoli into little chunks and add it to the batter, coating each piece really well. Make sure the stem is coated nicely too.

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I like to set these aside for at least 5-10 minutes, just to soak up all of that hot sauce goodness. It is so worth it. After that, toss each piece into breadcrumbs, before dropping them into your deep frying over medium heat. Fry them until they are beautiful and golden brown. Remove them and let them rest on some paper towel. You need to let these settle for a few minutes, allowing the paper towel to soak the oil, before salting the chunks. Finally toss them into the delicious sauce and then serve them up.

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Need the recipe card? It’s right here!

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Have a go at this insanely easy, but incredibly delicious recipe. Side note. My sister HATES greens. She is only 10, and well, she behaves like most 10 year olds and despises broccoli. But, interesting, she ate these yummy morsels. She did think they were a little spicy, but hell she still ate them.That is the important part πŸ™‚

Review: Criniti’s Italian

Criniti's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For some reason or other, Criniti’s has become my go to restaurant. Need to go to a decent restaurant? Criniti’s. Need to go to a restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options? Criniti’s. Need to go somewhere closeby and/or has multiple outlets? Yup. Criniti’s.

So this particular review is based on all the vegetarian meals I ate. SO, meat eaters, this one isn’t for you.

I sound like a big advertisement :/ But in all seriousness. This is place is pretty packed on weekdays as well. During lunch there are always plenty of families, or people from work getting a bite. At night, the ambiance is warm and cozy and it is always someone’s birthday. Now the decor isn’t exactly to my personal taste, with the large mounted Ducati and spare parts adorning the place, but I absolutely love the visible wood fire oven, colorful bar serving some pretty great drinks (with plenty of Italian liquors and wines), along with the overall slightly vintage look.

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DEMOLISHED!

The service I have found to be very friendly, but a little slow. Particularly on weekdays! But alas when short staffed, this is bound to happen. The staff is most definitely patient however. It’s not all that customary for the manager to be serving food, but when needed he or she is also out there serving or cleaning up, which is something I really liked. I think it’s fantastic when the entire staff is working as a team ya know? #teamspirit. Much too often I’ve seen managers unprepared to do the dirty work. *sigh*

The menu here is pretty damn expansive, with regular pizza, white pizza, risotto, burgers, salad and so much more. The prices are a bit on the high side, but the portions are pretty large. I would generally say one plate between two people is the right amount. I love the drinks menu because of the excellent wine and beer range. Yes even their beer range is great. Typically I opt for a simple Riesling with my food, or a really good fruity White, coz I love my white wine. Dad went for a peroni, and I must say I did like it.

Alright onto the part that you really want to hear about. The food.

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We started our meal with the Tomato Brushcetta Pizza Crust, as an entree. Dad in paricular loves this one because it’s delicious and fresh. There is fresh tomato, basil and onion which have been rested in their own juices with some salt and pepper ofc. It’s such a simple combination, but it is a bang on winner. The garlic crust this was served on was wonderfully thin, with a thick but soft crust. The juices of the bruschetta softens the crust down so much… love it. In saying this however, this is something you can easily do at home, so for the price you are paying I would like to see something more original and extravagant. Even a hint of balsamic would have elevated this to another level.

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Next up we ordered the Penne Vegetarian. This was a delicious pasta in a magnificent basil sauce with eggplant, sundried tomatos, olives, zucchini and capsicum. I love it when pasta is loaded with rich vegetables, and this was just that. The sauce was a stand-out really, and in fact paired as a tasty sauce for the left over crusts from our pizza. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and so were the vegetables. I certainly would recommend this one for any vegetarians out there.

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This was followed by our next main -the ferrara pizza. This I absolutely loved. There was onion, capsicum, olives and the crust was so excellent. You could taste the light smokiness of the wood fire oven on it, which is just another added taste element. The only downside to this one was that it had cooled down a little before it came to our table. We could actually see our pizza on the counter waiting to be delivered to us. This was a bit of a bummer, but the pizza itself was great. On top of that, look at the large crust! This wasn’t a huge deal for us, since we did dip the crust in the leftover pasta sauce, but considering the price, I would have like to see more topping and less bread.

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And we did decide to grab some dessert too. We opted for the 3 scoop gelato, choosing salted caramel, lemon sorbet and cookies and cream (seriously how cute is the serving!!). The cookies and cream was PHENOMENAL. Truly it was so creamy and decadent, with chunks of little cookies scattered in the scoops. Each little chunk was a different size, and portion, so it added a great dimension of texture to the ice cream. The salted caramel was true bliss in a scoop and was finished by my sister in a jiffy. The least liked was the lemon sorbet, mainly because it tasted more like an icy pole than anything else!

Okay time to rank.

Food: 6.5/10

I’ve taken points off because of the brushetta and the pizza. The un-originality of the former, along with the price of it was a let down. As I mentioned above, I would have liked more of the topping than the crust that we got. Also the lemon sorbet gelato, well I didn’t really like it all that much.

Service: 5/10

This is really the let down. I understand busy, but having to wait over 10 minutes to even catch someone’s eye for the bill, did bug me. Oh and the bill was just given to us – a piece of paper. No book or anything!

Ambiance: 9/10

Apart from all the biking gear, which you actually lose focus on within 10 minutes, the ambiance is lovely and cozy.

The menu: 8/10

The menu has a number of items, but I would love to see some more original recipes.

Total: 7/10

Would I go back? Well yes. I’ve actually always had really good experiences at Criniti’s!

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Chive, Cheese and Cucumber snack

Looking for a simple midday lunch? Or do you need an easy snack?

I sound like a television advertisement :/

In all seriousness. This has to be the easiest snack recipe, and perhaps one of the healthiest too. It is perfect for lunch. It is perfect for those little cravings. Honestly I don’t really know what else to write about this one.

I made it when I was feeling a little peckish, but didn’t want to eat all that much. I wanted something to curb the hunger, but not make me feel bloated. Now how could you possibly go wrong when you have cheese, and chives and cucumber?

All you need to do is chop up the chives finely, and mix it through with the cheese. I add a pinch of salt and paprika and mix it through really well. The paprika is optional, but I think it adds just a nice little amount of warmth to the snack – just another layer of flavor.

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I used some simple sandwich bread for this, but I would honestly prefer a crusty rye or sourdough for this. Toast up the bread nicely, either in a pan or in a toaster, and then spread over the cream cheese mixture.

Slice the cucumber thinly, and lay these across the bread.

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And

well

That’s it.

Seriously.

Delicious.

Okay recipe card πŸ˜›

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