Cupcakes & Picnics

Hello everyone!

I’m back with another cooking recipe.

I was hosting a picnic with a few friends and I decided to make some cupcakes last minute.

Lucky these cupcakes were so simple that it was ready in no time at all. Literally under half an hour it was done.

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1¼ Cups Plain flour
  • ¾ Tsp Baking powder
  • 1 Cup Caster sugar
  • 125g melted butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup full cream milk
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • Handful of frozen Cherries, Strawberries and Blueberries.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups Icing sugar
  • 125gms Butter (softened)
  • Milk
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate
  • 4 squares of white chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 160 degrees
  2. Combine all the cupcake ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon until combined
  3. Spoon half the mixture into 12 x cupcake tray lined with paper cases, filling them to only halfway
  4. Cut up your frozen fruit into the centre of your batter on the cupcake tray
  5. Cover the cupcakes with the remaining batter
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until when a toothpick is inserted it comes out clean
  7. Let cool on a wire tray for at least 1 hour or your frosting will melt.

To make the icing:

  1. Whip with an electric mixer your softened butter and the icing sugar and a few tsps of milk (one at a time) until combined –  ensure your mixture is not too runny. Do not worry if your mixture looks clumpy because of the butter because after a few more seconds it’ll combine into a smooth consistency. Don’t panic and pour the whole bottle of milk in.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals stirring after each interval (should take about 1 minute all up). Stop heating when the chocolate is melted once stirred otherwise you’ll overheat and burn your chocolate.
  3. Melt your white chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals stirring after each interval (should take about less than 1 minute all up as white chocolate melts at a lower temperature than dark chocolate). Stop heating when the chocolate is melted once stirred otherwise you’ll overheat and burn your chocolate.
  4. Spoon your peanut butter into a bowl.
  5. Split the buttercream mixture into 4 and place 1/4 into the 3 bowls leaving 1/4 for the plain buttercream frosting
  6. Stir through your icing mixture and the chocolate or peanut butter. Depending on your consistency, add more milk as desired. Note: it is pretty cold in Winter here in Sydney so the chocolate did solidify pretty quickly making the buttercream stiff. To combat this issue, microwave your icing for < 5 seconds to soften it again
  7. Pipe your buttercream frostings onto each cupcake. Or use a spatula to flatten out a dollop of buttercream (which is what I did, as I was lazy and didn’t want to clean the piping bags)
  8. Feel free to decorate with more fruit on top of your cupcakes but I was lazy.
  9. Dig in!

I decided to make the following combinations:

  1. 3 x Cherry cupcakes with Dark chocolate frosting
  2. 3 x Strawberry cupcakes with White chocolate frosting
  3. 3 x Blueberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting
  4. 3 x Vanilla cupcakes with peanut butter frosting

It was so delicious! Everyone lapped it up.

My friends and I had a picnic out at Como pleasure ground in the south of Sydney. The park was beautiful as it was right next to the river/lake. Initially I had wanted to go to Cronulla beach but the thought of trying to find parking was too daunting.

We laid out a picnic mat and just bathed in the winter sun until the temperature dropped when the sun started setting and we hurried home.
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Costs:
Cupcakes: <$10 as most was kitchen staples and I had frozen fruit from my smoothies
Picnic with friends: free as everyone had to contribute food

Hope everyone is staying warm during this cold weather! preferably with some cupcakes 🙂

Ciao!

Ally xx

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…

That’s Amore.

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all well!

I remember I had a disagreement with my friend because I didn’t believe that in sometimes pizzas are referred to as pies.

Anyway, I have been in a bit of a cooking mood lately and decided to make these pizza’s the other day. It was the first time making the pizza dough from scratch so the whole time the dough was proofing I was praying I had the correct water temperature for the yeast to do its thing.

But low and behold, it turned out so wonderfully well! it was so unbelievably easy to make the dough that I’ll be doing this from now on as it’ll be 100% healthier than Dominos or Pizza hut (and cheaper).

Pizza dough Recipe:

I used the pizza dough recipe from Taste.com.au.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/pizza-dough/61da0d5a-abe7-4a62-a805-c9c4a729d718

As you can see below, the above recipe yielded 3 pizza bases because I like a thick crust/base.

Basic tomato and basil sauce recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg tomatos
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2tsp salt
  • Fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)

Method:

  1. Lightly score the tomatoes all the way around and place in a bowl of boiling water
  2. After about 5 minutes, rotate the tomatoes in the water.
  3. After 15 minutes, take out the tomatoes and peel off the skin. The skin should come off easily, if not place back into your boiling water for a while longer.
  4. Roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Cook down the garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil
  6. Place the tomatoes in the same saucepan with salt and simmer on low for 10 minutes until it thickens in consistency.
  7. Add the basil at the end to retain the colour and set aside.

The great thing about making pizzas at home is you can add whatever ingredients you like! On this particular day I was feeling Margherita pizzas. Therefore all I had to do was generously add my bocconcini to my pizzas. I also added fresh basil leaves to my pizza, however looking back, I will be adding the basil leaves once the pizzas are done in the oven as they had lost its colour in the cooking process. Lesson learnt but it still tasted amazing.

Side note: A quick and healthy snack is to skewer bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and eat as is! You can also drizzle some balsamic vinegar if you’d like but I love the simplicity and freshness as it is. So tasty!

Cost: <$10. The most expensive parts of this would be the Bocconcini because I love cheese so much I bought AND used 3 tubs of it…

Let me know what your favourite pizza is!

Ally xx

Recipe: Pork and Chive Dumplings

Hello everyone!

Lately I have been craving dumplings like all the time. Pretty sure I have been to a dumping joint at least 3 times in the past two weeks. I especially love the xiao long bao shanghainese dumplings – the pork dumplings with a pocket of soup inside.

So I thought why not make my own dumplings? It may not be as fancy as the xiao long bao’s but a dumpling is a dumpling.

Surprisingly, the dumplings were super easy to make and super cheap.

Preparation: ~ 1 hour
Yields: 30 dumplings
Cost: < $10

What you will need:

250 gms pork mince
1 stick of Celery or 1 carrot (diced finely)
2 sprigs of Spring onion (chopped finely)
2 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
1 tbsp Sesame oil
1 packet of Gow Jee skin (found at your asian groceries in the fridge)

Step 1:
Combine all your ingredients together in a bowl (except for the Gow Jee pastry). Let filling marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Step 2:
Depending how good your judgement is, you may want to split the filling in 30 to ensure each dumpling is similar in size and to ensure even cooking.

Step 3:
Place approximately half a tbsp of your filling in the middle of the Gow Jee pastry. The key is to NOT overstuff otherwise your dumpling will struggle to close and may burst at the seams when cooking.

Step 4:
Fold your dumpling in half – generally fold upwards but this does not really matter as the Gow Jee pastry is circular in shape. Press the edges together, then pinch and fold along the  top edge. The shape of the Gow Jee is dependant on you – feel free to experiment as long as you don’t burst your dumpling in the process.

Tip: if you feel like your dumpling is not sticking together when folded, wet the edge with water before folding. This is activate the starch and assist with glueing the dumpling together.

Step 5:
Boil a pot of unsalted water, ensuring that there is sufficient space for your dumpling to float to the top.

Once water has boiled, place a few dumplings in (do not overcrowd) and stir lightly to ensure the dumpling does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Let boil until the dumpling floats to the top (~2minutes). Strain and set aside.

Note 1: Ensure not to pile your cooked dumplings on top of each other as they will stick together once cooled.

Note 2: If you have used carrots – depending on whether you like your carrots to have a bit of bite, strain immediately or let simmer for a while longer to ensure your carrots have softened.

Step 6:
Serve on its own immediately with soy sauce, vinegar or chilli soy sauce. Or whip up a quick broth to have dumpling soup (add noodles if you want)!

Once boiled, the dumplings will stay fresh in a container up to 4 days. I haven’t tried to freeze the dumplings as the dumplings are always demolished within two days.

Total cost of making 30 dumplings – approximately $10. The most expensive part of the meal was the pork mince which was about $5 for 500gms from Aldi.

What a cheap lunch/dinner! it is also extremely fun experimenting with different dumpling shapes and different fillings.

Let me know what your favourite dumplings are!

 

Until next time !

Alison x

 

 

 

 

Welcome.

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to quickly introduce myself and this blog.

As you can tell from my blog title, I will be scouring Sydney and surrounding areas in order to help you find things to do on the cheap.

I am approaching my mid 20s and work in a corporate job and the weekends are what I look forward to most. However when thinking of how I should spend my weekends, the costs of doing all those social things add up. I mean – did I really just slave away for 40 hours Monday to Friday only to spend it all on a fancy brunch, a charcuterie board or buying yet another pair of black boots?

After working for 4 years and having close to nothing in my savings account, I realised I had to knuckle down and be realistic – am I really going to have to live at home with my parents for the rest of my life? or am I going to save as much as possible in order to own my own home? With the housing bubble growing 10x larger by the minute, putting aside that extra bit of $ per month will really help in the long run.

Basically saving now will ensure that I am able to live comfortably in the future (and hopefully debt free).

If you have any suggestions for cheap activities/events, please let me know!

Its a great big world out there and I would love to connect with you all – so I strongly encourage leaving comments, following me on social media and all that jazz.

Stay tuned for some budget friendly ideas !