Monthly Archives: August 2012

Macaroni & “Nachos” Bake

I love nachos but I don’t feel like it is enough for me as a main meal. Oh yes, when it comes to main meals especially dinner, I love substance! It is no surprise that some of my peers think that I have an appetite of a man.

One lucky guy at work had nachos at work the other day. Sometimes this is the kind of reminder you need to reignite a craving. Nachos is ridiculously easy to make and needless to say it is one of those dishes that I find to be irresistable on any day. However, I wanted to bulk it up a little as I don’t usually have leftovers when I make nachos for dinner.  So my love for substance has led me to this macaroni & nachos bake.  Basically it is my attempt of a simple homemade salsa with macaroni and kidney beans on the bottom of the dish. Then top with handcrushed corn chips with gooey blistered cheese.

(Bulked up nachos dish anyone?)

Macaroni & “Nachos” Bake

Feed about 4 people

What you’ll need:-

  • 1/2 brown onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g/8.8 ounces mince chicken or beef
  • 2 green bell peppers (capsicum) – about 400g/14 ounces, deseeded & diced
  • 1 x 400g/14 ounces of  canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 x 400g/ 14 ounces of canned diced tomatoes
  • 500g/18 ounces uncooked macaroni
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Hot water to cook the macaroni


  • 2 – 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (feel free to add more should you like it cheesier)
  • Corn chips
  • 50g/2 ounces of black olives, sliced  *optional*
  • Picked jalapenos *optional*
  • Scallions (spring onions), finely sliced *optional*

(1) In a large pan, saute garlic and onion in olive and a pinch of salt over medium heat. (2) Add mince chicken and brown it over high heat. (3) Then add green bell peppers, saute for a minute and then add red kidney beans. Stir to mix the ingredients together. (4) Pour canned diced tomatoes and cook over high heat until the mixture is bubbling. Then turn the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer while you start cooking the pasta. (5) In a separate large pot, fill it with recently boiled water and some salt. When the water the boiling, cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions. Undercook the pasta by one minute from the specified time on the packet. Drained and toss the cooked macaroni into the sauce and mix well. Let it cook over low heat until the macaroni achived the texture you desire. (6) Transfer the macaroni to a large baking dish. First top with a little cheese. This is to create a barrier between the crushed corn chips and the sauce, avoiding the corn chips to turn soggy. After you have sprinkle some cheese, add corn chips, hand crushed. Then add more cheese, up to your preferred cheesiness. This is optional but if you have some sliced black olives and pickled jalapenos in the kitchen, why not add them for some flair. Bake under a griller to blister the cheese. Sprinkle some chopped scallions before serving.

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Barista Style Coffee at Home {With Devondale Baristas Own Frothing Milk} & Giveaway [CLOSED]

Sponsored by Murray Goulburn and Nuffnang

A good morning start for me involves a good cup of coffee. I must admit my preference for coffee has evolved a lot since my university days, from instant coffee to coffee bags and now cafe latte. Even though I love getting coffee from my favourite coffee shop in Orange, there were days I just want to enjoy my coffee in the comfort of my home, in my pajamas. This led to my first purchase of a coffee machine (the one which uses coffee pods) which in my mind, pretty much delivers a barista style coffee at a fraction of the price minus the hassle of lining up for coffee.

I like my coffee to be creamy and slightly frothy. When I’m outside, I usually go for cafe latte. But when I’m at home, I personalise my cafe latte a cross between a cappuccino and latte – basically served in a tall latte glass with a nice layer steamed milk froth. It is pretty obvious that I like my coffee to be heavy on the milk. To achieve the creamy consistency, I like to add either soy or full cream milk.  So when I was introduced to the Barista’s Own Frothing Milk by Devondale, I was intrigued because I couldn’t imagine how long life milk could substitute fresh milk to deliver a barista style coffee. Well, guess what? I was pleasantly surprised.

It is  smooth, creamy, froths well in a frother and best of all, it is made with 2% fat milk. If you are wondering if it has the “funny” taste which screams long life milk, my answer is no. I have also tried heating the milk in the microwave for a minute (depending the size of your mug) and then letting the coffee drip into the milk (I do that sometimes when I’m super lazy). I can still taste the thickness and creaminess in the coffee which I am really pleased about.

In addition to Barista’s Own Frothing Milk for a cafe-style coffee experience, wouldn’t it be nice to have pretty cups and saucers to go with the coffee?

In saying that, I’m excited to partner with Devondale and Nuffnang to give away 4 sets of 6 orange espresso cups and saucers from Espresso Italia. Each set is to be given away each week over the 4-weeks duration of the Devondale’s Barista’s Own Frothing Milk campaign.

To enter this giveaway, just answer the following question in the Comments Section of this post:

Tell me how Baristas Own frothing milk would help get your lazy Sunday off to a perfect start?

And wait, there is an Overall MAJOR Giveaway!

In addition to the cups and saucers give away, there is an icing on the cake. There will be a major giveway whereby ONE LUCKY READER across 5 blogs which participated in this campaign will win a PHILIPS Saeco Syntia Class Automatic Espresso Machine retailed at $1,499.  The reader with the most creative answer will win this Espresso Machine.

Both giveaways are open to Australian residents only. For Terms and Conditions, please click the following links:-

For the Espresso cups and saucer giveaway – 12:01 am AEDST on 14 August, 2012 and will continue until 5:00 pm AEDST on 21 August, 2012

For the PHILLIPS Saeco Syntia Class Automatic Espresso Machine giveaway – open from 12:01 am AEDST on 14 August, 2012 and will continue until 5:00 pm AEDST on 7 September, 2012.

And again, all you need to do is to:

Tell me how Baristas Own frothing milk would help get your lazy Sunday off to a perfect start?

The more entries you enter the better chance of winning. So feel free to enter the comment entries as many times as you wish, as long as you can come up with different comments in each entry. GOOD LUCK!


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Baked Oatmeal with Bananas & Peanut Butter

The idea of adding rolled oats into my bakegoods is appealing to me. I love the scent of cooked oatmeal (weirdo?) and I feel great in eating it.

I have came across many baked oatmeal recipes on the internet lately. After scouting for a couple of recipes, I have changed them around to cater for what I have in my pantry. I am a big fan of having banana and maple syrup with my usual porridge. So I have decided to incorporate my favourite combination into the baked oatmeal.  As little “treats”, I have also sneaked in some peanut butter…just to give a little saltiness to balance out the sweet maple syrup. Plus peanut butter and bananas are amazing together!

Baked Oatmeal with Bananas & Peanut Butter

What you’ll need:-

  • 2 cups instant rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsps maple syrup
  • 6 – 7 tsps peanut butter (I used smooth, but crunchy would be fine too)
  • 2 bananas, sliced about half and inch (1cm) thick

(1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F). Lightly greased baking dish (27cm x 17cm/10 inches x 7inches) with flavourless cooking oil. (2) In a medium mixing bowl, mix together rolled oats and baking powder with a fork. (3) Then stir in milk, maple syrup and lightly beaten egg untill well combined. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish. (4) Dollop peanut butter evenly, followed by sliced bananas. (5) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the mixture is set and edge is brown. Allow the baked oatmeal to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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Eggless Coconut, Walnut & Banana Bread (with Chia Seeds)

Ever since my friend, Adam, introduced me his go-to banana bread recipe, it has since became my go-to recipe as well. The original recipe he uses doesn’t require any oil or butter (except for greasing the loaf pan) and the result was amazing. When I say amazing, I meant I feel more liberated with the amount of butter I slathered afterwards. Definitely a great recipe to have for a spontaneous baking adventure. ;)

Every now and then, I received questions about whether there’s any substitution for eggs in the baking recipes I’ve used. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answer for them. I feel bad whenever this happens as I felt like I’m leaving out people who have dietary restrictions.

Anyway, I have been on a hunt for egg replacer. I’ve came across that chia seeds can be used in replacement of eggs. Thanks to the folks at The Chia Co, they have suggested 1 tbsp of chia seeds plus 3 tbsps of water is equivalent to an egg. On this basis, I have tweaked my go-to banana bread recipe to make an eggless version.

Eggless Coconut, Walnut & Banana Bread (with Chia Seeds as Egg Substitute)

(Recipe tweaked from Food.Ninemsn)

Serves 8

What you’ll need:-

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsps water (used tap water)
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup low fat milk
  • 50g/ 1.7 ounces walnut, roughly crushed by hand

Note 1 – if you don’t have desiccated coconut, you can increase the sugar quantity to 3/4 cup.

Note 2 – if you have self-raising flour – replace the all-purpose flour and baking powder with 1 cup of self-raising flour.

To make the egg substitute: mix 1 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsps of water. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture becomes gooey.

To make the banana bread: (1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for convection oven) / 160 degrees Celsius  (320 degrees Fahrenheit) for fan-forced. Line baking pan with parchment paper and grease the sides without the parchment paper with vegetable oil. (2) Add bananas, maple syrup, and sugar to a bowl and mash everything together with a fork. (3) Stir in chia seed mixture.  Use a hand mixer or a fork to mix everything well. (4) Add sugar, desiccated coconut, flour, baking powder and mix the batter. As you mix these ingredients, pour in milk gradually. Stir the batter until smooth. Fold in walnut and transfer the batter in a loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean.

After all this, you may want to know my thoughts on the difference between the eggless and the egg version. Firstly, chia seeds doesn’t have any aroma or taste except for its gooey texture. Hence, the taste between the egg free and the egg version was about the same (except for the inclusion of coconut in this recipe). With that being said, the texture is slightly more dense with the eggless version. The original recipe doesn’t require milk. However, the batter for the eggless version was a tad dry, hence the inclusion of milk in this recipe. I will try to increase the quantity of water when I make the chia seeds mixture next time. Or if you any suggestion in relation to the quantity of water, feel free to leave it in the comment box below.  You can compare with the egg version here.

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