March 31, 2013

Foccacia bread two ways - Traditional & Decadent

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For all you peeps that observe the Easter holidays, I hope you all had a great 4-day weekend, I certainly needed the break, and still relishing the idea of having the Monday off.
Judging from all my previous posts, you'd think all I like is sweet stuff, when in reality, when I snack, I tend towards the savoury! Chips, popcorn, soy crisps, olives, crusty bread with camembert.... bring it ON! Last year though, I noticed a slight correlation between stomach aches and after eating a hefty breakfast of my fave toast+vegemite+cold butter combo. I eliminated the vegemite and cold butter combo, and then later wondered if it was the bread I was eating. I culled out bread altogether for a couple of weeks, when I tried out the James Duigan clean and lean diet and noticed no stomach aches, so this drove me to do some tests of elimination. 
After trialing with many bread types such as Kamut bread, wholegrain/rye/the lot, gluten free, and preservative free... I soon realised that the bread we would normally reach for, was loaded with preservatives, and thus, led to my upset tummies. These days, I stick to breads that are either preservative free or with as little unnatural ingredients as possible. It's weird...but it's only since I've gotten older that I've paid more careful attention to all the chemical ingredients that are in our food... the less of it the better I think. So in an effort to take control of what goes into our diets at home (and eating in a more natural way), I tried my hand at making my own bread... in a tasty way!

Foccacia bread two ways;



Rosemary with Sea salt and,


Thyme with Truffle salt





I followed Lorraine Pascale's recipe here, and added an additional flavour that was a bit more decadent. I'm sure you can change up the size of this slab and make mini Focaccias, or how about a Parmessan and Chilli flakes Focaccia? That's going to be my next one!
Serve with your fave cheeses and cold cuts or try with smoked salmon and a dollop of creme fraiche mixed with creamed horseradish. Or just simply eat with a drizzle of olive oil... crunchy outside with a pillowy light centre within :)

I ate a couple of pieces late last night after it came out of the oven... no stomach bloats or aches to report in the morning :) If you're ever skeptical about what goes in your bought breads...why not try making it yourself?
X

March 26, 2013

Splurge or Curb - Studded features

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Post wedding, I still admire Valentino, they've come out of the classic red era and really hit the mark with some edgy stuff! When I saw Chriselle Lim of The Christelle Factor post up photos with her much loved studded Valentino Rockstud clutch, I gasped and had one of those moments where your eyes become pulsing hearts like in a cartoon. See her post here!
Alas, I curbed on the idea of spending AUD1,412 on the beautiful Valentino clutch and spent a neat little AUD45 buckaroos on this ink coloured beauty.

Of course I know that the "curb" option is not like the lush lux Valentino matte leather nor a nude coloured clutch for that matter. But if I'm not purchasing the real deal, I didn't want an EXACT copy, I wanted an inspired version. The studded theme, general size and the lovely ink blue colour (a great Autumn colour) is an alright substitution to me :) I think of it as a fashionable but functional clutch that can be used for work and play.


While I try and rock a mini fashion moment by going down the curb-ing route, I'll just continue to dream that I look and "work it" like this everyday haha!!


Photography credit: Jason Lee aka Mr Lee aka The Hubster
Outfit: Glassons / Clutch: Unknown brand / Shoes: Peeptoe / Necklace worn as a Bracelet: Kookai, an old birthday gift from a friend :)
X

March 25, 2013

Splurge or Curb - My Wedding shoes

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When it comes to fashion and style, there's no doubt that I am a known shoes & accessories obsessor, magazine hoarder, fashion blog follower, celebrity admirer, and red carpet watcher. I often wonder about the high-end life, wondering if it's really THAT fabulous. This is probably why I have an unhealthy addiction to the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" show (among many other E! shows).
When it comes down to going through with purchasing those high-end items that I have lusted after, either from a mag or a blog.... I know I'm not alone when I say that I find it a lil difficult to actually follow through with the idea of parting cash, circa $2k+, for a handbag or pair of shoes. While some girls don't mind starving in the name of Chanel, Celine, Valentino or Jimmy Choo, I would much rather eat and continue to internet window shop, and forever weigh up the pros and cons of such a purchase.

I paid more attention to Valentino while I was researching to find my perfect wedding shoes. I really wanted to buy a pair of shoes that I could definitely wear again, and upon spotting the Valentino Lace Bow couture shoes, I fell in love and had my Mum scouring HK shops to check out the price.

{Valentino Lace Couture Bow Pump v Aldo Black Lace pump}


oh boy oh boy oh BOY was I tempted to splurge on the lace bow heels on the left. But, after putting on my sensible hat, I curbed and managed to find the black lace pumps on the right (sans bow unfortunately), from Aldo in Hong Kong. I loved wearing my ridiculously high Aldo heels (5+ inches of ridiculousness to be exact) on my wedding day under layers of organza tulle.
I won't lie and say that I still dream of owning a pair of Valentino bow couture shoes... I may go bonkers and just take the plunge! But hey, a girl's allowed to dream in the meantime :)
X

Cooking in a mug.. Nutella Mug Cake!

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Do any of you have those days where you come home and you just can't be bothered with pots and pans for dinner? Or you have had your dinner and you're feeling a need for sweetness to balance afterwards, but don't want the fuss of scales, measuring cups , whipping and baking?
I tried making this over the weekend... and guess what? it took me 4 minutes to prep and cook. NO KIDDING!

I followed this nicely documented recipe here and served with good Vanilla ice-cream. Just grab your ingredients and go! 2 minute of prep  and 1.5 minutes of micro-waving later..... BOOM.
This Nutella mug cake is an easy recipe to remember (tablespoons of self-raising flour, sugar, cocoa, Nutella, vegetable oil, milk and 1 egg - Update: depending on the size of your mug, just fill it with mixture that is about 1/2-3/4 way up the mug).  I can SOOOoooo imagine busy Mums (and Dads), those who have had long days at work, lazy folks etc, all giving this a go! I know many girls that would probably eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner hah!

For other mug recipes, savoury or sweet...served in a mason jar...a glass...or whatever ...see it all collated nicely here!

I don't always condone laziness, but with a busy week ahead at work I can see myself coming home to console myself with a Mug cake or two!

X

March 21, 2013

Postcard from Hyams beach & a lil town called Berry

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While we were in Jervis Bay last weekend, we made an arvo trip to Hyams beach (I still have difficulty pronouncing and spelling this...sounds like something rude haha). This beach had the squeakiest whitest sand with beautiful crystal blue waters. I'm now sitting here feeling a bit sad that the days are getting darker, quicker, and the temperatures are getting chillier... for longer.


{A bit of a fright there from the cold water... was only cold for 2 seconds :)}

On our way to Jervis Bay we passed through a town called Berry and thought to ourselves that we definitely should stop off to visit the place on the trip back home. This is quite the quaint little pass-through of a town, and apart from Hunter Valley, Port Douglas and Margaret River, is probably one of Mr Lee and I's first little walk-about in a small Aussie town. So I thought I'd share a few photos from the good ol' smartphone.

{Beautiful gift shops and stores with lovely shop fronts lined the streets}


{Sweets galore. Hello?! Categorised aisles of candy!...ah bless, speaks to my heart}
{The coolest tea and cake shop with oodles of tea and tea party goodies}

{Check out that perfectly shaped thickness of the cake icing!}


{Loving the Mr T portrait on the Tea & Cake themed wall!}

The famous Berry Donut shop was a must visit. It delivered quite the treat with a lovely crunchy sugar cinnamon exterior, with a melt-in-your-mouth interior. One of my friends said they used to be even better back in the day, but I still loved it...forfeiting half my hot-dog lunch to try the Donut first, before it went cold :)
{Look how happy he is to stand outside this van}


{And of course a bit of crafty shopping along the way}

Mr Alexander Berry was quite the voyager and hero, bringing provisions to Fiji, NZ and Australia, whilst rescuing a few survivors of battles. He and his family became quite prominent landowners around NSW too. With so many little pit stop shops along the streets, it's no wonder so many people pull over to take a gander. I hear rumours that an overpass will be built to relieve the  build up of traffic that passes through this town. If this threatens the shops that line the streets, that would be a real shame.
Hope to share some more travel-ly type posts in the future!
X

March 18, 2013

Giant Oatmeal, Raisin & Choc-chip cookie sandwich

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This is no ordinary cookie sandwich!
Last week, before we headed off to Jervis Bay to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday (this weekend just been), I asked my friend what we had to bring. He only mentioned a few things but cheekily included that some sort of baking was something to add to the list. So I thought that's fine, I'll just bake a brownie or a batch of cookies...something easy to take. But then I had a second thought. You know what? If he wants baked goods, and he has such a sweet tooth, I'll present him with a motherload of baked goods. A giant wad of it....in the form of a cookie :) A gigantimo cookie sandwich in fact.

Giant Oatmeal, Raisin & Chocolate Chip cookie sandwich filled with Salted Caramel Cream cheese frosting

I think I just about died when I licked the frosting, it was THAT good!




Wooo... looks a bit like the middle of a Cadbury Creme egg ;)

I guess this cookie sandwich turned out to look more like a cake. I thought about doing just a plain chocolate chip...but wanted a cookie that had more wholesome oomph! For the cookie recipe itself, I followed this recipe using two 8" round cake pans, but used half cup of dark chocolate chips and half cup of milk chocolate chips instead of the 1 cup of walnuts.



Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe


Ingredients:

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 75gm Unsalted butter
  • 50gm Light brown sugar
  • 50gm Caster sugar
  • 50gm Golden syrup
  • 125ml Thickened Cream / Double cream
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp Fleur de Sel (depending on your taste)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 170gm Unsalted butter (Softened / Room Temp)
  • 230gm Philadelphia Cream cheese (Room temp)
  • 1 tsp of Good Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups of Icing sugar - Sifted

Steps:
1.     Prepare the Salted Caramel Sauce first. Place the butter, light brown sugar, caster sugar & golden syrup in a small saucepan and melt together over a low heat for 3 mins (swirling the mixture in the saucepan)
2.     Once 3 mins is up, pour in the cream and Fleur de Sel and let this bubble away for a minute or 2 (mix the liquids together with a wooden spoon if the mixture is not combining)
3.     Set aside to cool. This sauce will thicken up more while cooling.
4.     For the Cream Cheese Frosting. Beat the Unsalted Butter and Cream cheese together 
5.     Whip in the Vanilla extract 
6.     Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar while you keep whipping the cream cheese mixture
7.     Now slowly add in your cooled Salted Caramel Sauce.
8.     Refrigerate the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese frosting for an hr or so before use.

MMmmm....soak in all the 8" diameter X 5" height of this monster









Whilst I did realise this was going to add to everyone's waist line over the weekend... we were only sharing a slice each in the name of a milestone celebration!
Or maybe it was more of demolishing :)

{Last pic was on the fly from my phone :)}
X

March 13, 2013

MLP loves you x 100 giveaway - CLOSED

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I love gift giving as much as receiving gifts myself. One of the little goals I kept to myself was that when I reach 100 likes for my blog, I will definitely show my appreciation. So here we go peeps, a giveaway for reaching 100 likes ... and more!

As I would have said on my Facebook page, the "rules" of the main giveaway are simple:

  1. You must be a "liker" of my Facebook page "Mia Loves Pretty"
  2. "Share" my Facebook post about this giveaway (titled "MLP loves you x 100") on your timeline, so that I can see you have entered this giveaway
... and that's it! This main giveaway is open to MLP likers residing anywhere in the world, and the prizes up for grabs are:

First draw: Zumbarons recipe book by Adriano Zumbo




Adriano is one of my favourite pastry chefs! With this book, you can create macarons with crazy and exciting flavours like:


and other nommy flavours to boot like this:






















Second draw: 3x Kate Moss for Rimmel lippies




These lippies are from the Kate Moss for Rimmel Spring collection, and aside from MAC lippies, are my definite fave. Beautiful colours, moisturising and amazing pay off on the lips. From left to right, #12 is a bright coral red, #20 is a magenta pink and #03 is a beautiful nude.

Third draw: Polka dot pocket square




Something for the gents, a polka dot square with red stitching, similar to the one above.

2x half dozen cupcake giveaway for Sydney-siders


For all you Sydney-siders, I have a separate giveaway in collab with Ana from She Makes Cake. Ana has agreed to make me 2 special flavour cupcakes of my choosing to giveaway to 2 lucky Sydney-siders. I'll be giving away half a dozen of:
  • Pink Velvet (Red Velvet cupcake in a prettier shade of Pink) and,
  • Peach mudcake (White Chocolate mud cupcake w/ Peach coloured icing) 
Rules for this one are similar:
  1. You must be a "liker" of my Facebook page "Mia Loves Pretty"
  2. "Share" my Facebook post about this giveaway (titled "MLP loves you x 100") on your timeline, so that I can see you have entered this giveaway, 
  3. Reside in Sydney, AND
  4. You must also be a liker of "She Makes Cake" on Facebook. 
Come on...you will like her, she is funny, loves pretty things like I do... I mean hello...check out these Red Velvet babies of hers as an example!


I'll be using Random.org to draw up the winners on April 3rd   April 1st :) Soon after I'll be in touch via FB to get address details! Good luck guys, and thanks again for your support!
Love dove X

Update:
This giveaway contest has now closed
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