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Tea ducky

Recently, Spider informed me of the existence of these cute little tea duckies, and I immediately knew I had to have one.

The duckling arrives in a cute little decorated box, that sort of makes it appear as if it's actually swimming in a river.

And this is what you get after unpacking. A miniature version of the plastic duckies you can get for your bathtub, with its own stand. Which is obviously supposed to represent a puddle of water, but for some reason my mind keeps interpreting it as a cracked-open eggshell. Cause, you know. All eggs are blue, and flat at the bottom, these days.

Hidden inside the eggshell pool is a little compartment that you can unscrew, add some loose leaf tea to, and then put back in place. And then you get to the fun part, which is placing your little duckling into a large mug of hot water, and allowing him to merrily float around for a few minutes while your tea steeps.

Once your tea is done, you can simply place the ducky back onto its stand and let it cool off. It thought this was actually quite well thought out. I have another loose leaf tea infuser, but that one doesn't come with any kind of stand or dish to put it on once the tea's done. So you either get a very strong cup of tea because you lazily leave it in the cup until you've finished drinking it all; or you burn your fingers trying to immediately empty and clean the thing once it's done infusing a piping hot mug of tea, because you can't put it down anywhere without dripping tea all over that surface. (Well, I suppose putting out a saucer beforehand and placing it on top of that would be another option. But for some reason I never think of that one until it's too late. :P) So anyway, you let the little duckling cool off, and then you can just simply unscrew the container again and empty it out and rinse. Very cool and easy to use! :)

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Bounty brownies

Adapted from Laura Vitale's Fudgy Brownies.

I had decided I was going to bake some brownies. Then I realised I had some coconut left over (yes, still! that bag was pretty huge), and suddenly thought of those Bounty candy bars. Surely it should be possible to make those in cake style? Like a big coconut-filled brownie. So I went ahead and tried it. You'll need:

  • 5oz of butter, at room temperature
  • 5oz of dark chocolate
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp (about half an espresso cup) of freshly brewed espresso
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar (about 1 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened grated coconut

Start off by melting your chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, or just in the microwave on high as long as you stir it well at least once every 30 seconds. Set the chocolate aside, and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. (Yes, you could have done this at the beginning, unless you live in a small dorm and only have a combination oven/microwave. :P) Mix together the butter and sugar. Add in the espresso, vanilla and eggs and mix some more. Add in the melted chocolate, cacao powder and salt, and stir well with a spoon instead of using the electric mixer. Add in the flour, and stir shortly but firmly until everything is just incorporated. Add about 2-3 tbsp of the batter into a separate bowl (I recycled the melted chocolate's bowl, as you can see) and add in the coconut. Stir until a coarse, somewhat crumbly paste forms. Spread half of the batter in a greased oven dish. Add the coconut mixture on top and spread it out, pressing it into the batter a little. Finally, add the other half of the batter on top and spread it out as evenly as possible. This will be pretty hard, as the mixture is quite thick and sticky! Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre has little crumbs on it (i.e. it doesn't have to come out completely dry), but no wet batter.

Allow to cool completely so it can set, ignoring the fact that warm brownies are the best kind and your whole house has been tantalizingly smelling of fresh brownies for almost an hour now and -- who am I kidding? Just dive right in. Clearly, my resolve didn't even last long enough to take a picture of the uncut finished product.

Fair warning, though: these aren't exactly diet-friendly. I mean, not that I expected them to be or anything, but I didn't think they would be this "bad" either before I did the calculations. If cut into 12 squares, each serving will contain approx. 4g of protein, 30g of carbs, and 20g of fat, for a total of 312 calories. My entire lunch today was also about 300 calories. Whoops. :P

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Coconut cookies

So, after recently making that carrot cake, I had a whole bunch of grated coconut, flour, butter etc. still left over. It seemed a shame to let them go to waste, and I figured I should be able to use those ingredients to make some coconut cookies or something... so I just googled a recipe and went at it!

I ended up using this recipe, with slight alterations:

  • regular, semi-skimmed milk instead of coconut milk, since I didn't have any
  • my grated coconut was not sweetened, which is what the recipe calls for
  • so to compensate, I used the full amount of sugar, even though I cut the rest of the recipe in half

Actually, that's a blatant lie. I had decided to cut the amounts in the original recipe in half, since 42 cookies sounded like a lot, and completely forgot about that when measuring the sugar. It turned out to be a good move, though; these weren't overly sweet at all, which I'm sure had something to do with my coconut being unsweetened. The recipe contains a blatant lie, too, though: like I said, I only used half of everything (except the sugar), and ended up making nearly 50 cookies, while the full original recipe is said to make only 42!

Anyway, other than those three substitutions, I followed the recipe exactly, so there's no point in repeating it here! Just follow that link up above :)

The first batch, just before they went into the oven. I suddenly realised I didn't even own a cookie sheet, so I just wrapped my oven's wire rack in aluminium foil. Worked just fine!

First batch done and transferred to other wire rack to cool. Note that these are very delicate and still slightly soft when coming out of the oven, as you can tell from the cookie on the right tearing into pieces during the transfer. They firm up and get lovely and crunchy while cooling down.

All batches finally done! Like I said, this recipe makes a lot. I ended up having to bake them in six batches, so I was at it for like two hours, haha. But it's totally worth it, for they taste delicious! Sweet and crunchy on the outside, while remaining slightly chewy and sticky on the inside.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting

So, I've never even had carrot cake before, let alone made my own. However, I've been hearing good things about it, so I finally had a go at making it. This recipe is just slightly adapted from Mascha's recipe over at Beautygloss. You'll need the following:

  • 1/2 lb carrots
  • 8oz flour
  • 1 sachet baking powder (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 7oz white sugar
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4oz grated coconut
  • 3.5oz cream cheese
  • 1.5oz butter
  • 8oz powdered sugar
  • fruit of choice (I used 1 banana and 1/2 a mango)

Start by peeling and then grating your carrots. My carrots are a bit more coarsely grated than would be ideal, due to the fact that it was at this point that I discovered I do not actually own a cheese grater. Or any grater, for that matter. So these carrots are actually finely chopped rather than grated. Oh well.

Next, grab a mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, and give it a quick stir.

Then add the sugar (regular and vanilla), eggs and oil, and mix using an electric mixer. Note that the mixture will be thick and sticky, more like dough than cake batter (which was what I was expecting for some reason, haha).

Then, add the grated carrots and coconut, and mix well using a spoon and/or your hands.

Now grease up an oven dish, and add the batter, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Clean off your mixer and mixing bowl, and add the cream cheese and butter. Mix well until light and fluffy.

Next, add in the powdered sugar, a little bit at the time and mixing after each addition.

Remove cake from oven once it's done, and allow to cool completely.

Slice up fruits of choice and sprinkle with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent oxidation.

Spread frosting evenly on top of cake and place the fruit pieces on top. Enjoy!

Nutritional info (per 100 grams, rather than per serving, since "a serving of cake" might mean 40 g to some and 120 g to others, haha): 3.3 g protein, 42.5 g carbs, and 13.7 g fat, for a total of 306 kcal per 100g.

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Salmon & Cream pasta

I made this the other night. It's quite easy to whip up, and rather delicious! For three servings, you'll need the following:

  • 1 large glove of garlic
  • 1 large (or 2 small) head(s) broccoli
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/4 lb mushrooms
  • 1 can (7oz drained) of wild pink salmon
  • 1 can (3oz drained) of sardines
  • 1/2 jar (4oz) of light cream, garlic & herbs flavour (I used Boursin Cuisine)
  • 6-8oz of "long" pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle
  • splash of oil

First, chop up your broccoli into bite-sized pieces, and place it in a microwave-safe bowl with a bit of water. Pre-cook in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms, dice the zucchini, and finely chop the garlic.

Heat up a bit of oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the garlic.

Add the zucchini, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and continue cooking for a similar amount of time.

Next, add in your broccoli (it should be about halfway cooked by now, which will considerably speed up frying time). Take a very blurry picture of your veggies (optional).

Leave the veggies for another few minutes, while draining your cans of fish meat and sifting through it to make sure all the bones are out.

Finally, add in the fish and cream, stir well, and cook for a final 2 to 3 minutes or so.

While you were preparing this sauce mixture, you hopefully also put up a pot of water to boil and cooked your pasta according to package instructions, because I just realised I never mentioned that anywhere until now. Well, I presume you're reading through the entire recipe first before starting your preparations, anyway, so now you know. In that case, your pasta should be done by now, so drain it, and mix pasta and sauce together. Serve and enjoy!

Filed under: Food 3 Comments