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Vego Challenge - Asian Style Curried Vegetable Broth

Looks may be deceiving, but I am really terrible at cooking Asian food. I sure love to eat it, but don't ever ask me to pick out the bok choy from your pak choy or ask me to make you some won ton soup. I have no idea! I guess the reason is as I was growing up I never really had to step foot into the kitchen. Mum cooks pretty much every meal so I never really learnt the basics. When I was eventually old enough to cook my own meals I would always cook Western food as they were dishes I would only eat on a rare occasion. To be honest, I was a little scared when I saw this recipe, because I've always failed miserably when I try to recreate Asian style food (the first time I tried to cook rice, I had to throw the pot out). To my surprise it was actually really easy and tastes pretty damn good. It's given me the confidence to try cooking Asian food more often.

Serves 4
You will need - 
  • 1/4 cup green curry paste
  • 320g packet silken tofu (extra soft), cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 150ml light coconut milk
  • 2 cups reduced-salt vegetable stock
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 80g dried rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 bunch gai lum (chinese brocolli), stalks diagonally sliced, leaves shredded
  • 125g can baby corn, halved lengthways
  • coriander leaves, to serve

1. Soak the vermicelli in a bowl of hot water.

2. Heat curry paste in a large wok over medium heat, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until aromatic. Add carrots. Cook, tossing gently, for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, stock and water. Bring to a simmer.
3. Drain the noodles and add them and gai lum stalks to wok. Cook for 5 minutes, or until noodles are almost tender.

4. Add gai lum leaves, tofu and corn to wok. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until leaves wilt. Divide broth between 4 serving bowls. Top with coriander. Serve.

A rather proud moment of mine!
 Again, I didn't add the coriander because I can't stand the taste. If you prefer you can use nigari tofu, which is extra firm, instead of silken tof. Just add these with the carrots in the first step. If you do use silken tofu just be careful when stirring the broth around as its very fragile. You can also use a variety of different vegetables with this dish, be creative! I actually enjoyed this dish more the next day because the coconut cream and the curry paste's flavours were able to really infuse into the tofu and vermicelli. This dish is a bit spicy, so its great to warm up a cold night!

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Vego Challenge - Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Pesto Ricotta

I'm really glad that Nancy left a comment for me and suggested that I make these. I went out and bought Portobello mushrooms, ricotta and pesto like she had written, but I also put in a few things I already had in my fridge just to play around with some new flavours. It was really simple to make and would be a great dish for people who are entertaining guests. You can prepare the ricotta mixture the night before and put the dish together 15 minutes before the guests arrive. The ricotta I bought was really strange and more runny like cottage cheese. I think the dish would've turned out a lot better if I bought a firmer cheese, that way the mushrooms wouldn't have gotten too moist and collapsed during cooking. I also assume it would've taken less cooking time. Nevertheless it was still a really yummy dish and something I would make again.

Serves 4 with a side.
You will need -
- 8 Portobello mushrooms
- 300g Ricotta cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 75g rocket leaves, roughly chopped
- handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
- Basil Pesto
- 50g Parmesan
- Olive oil, to drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Take the stalks out of the mushrooms and dice finely.

3. Mix the ricotta cheese with the garlic, mushroom stalks, rocket leaves, parmesan and walnuts. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spread a teaspoon of pesto over the insides of each mushroom.
5. Tightly stuff the mushrooms with ricotta mixture and drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of them.
6. Bake on a tray lined with baking paper until the ricotta cheese is lightly browned. This should take about 15 - 20 minutes.

The only one that didn't collapse :(
Because my ricotta cheese was really runny, my mushrooms didn't get a chance to brown and so they look a bit strange in the pictures. I had them with a simple crisp salad and my new favourite dressing - balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey! Its sooo good, you'll have to try it. Keep the suggestions coming, I'd love to hear what you guys like to eat at home.

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How To - Cut Offs

Too warm for long pants, too cold without fur
There's a little bit of controversy with denim cut offs. You either love them or you hate them. For me, I'm a total loving and devoted fan. As we're coming into our scorching summers here in Brisbane, I really can't live without them. They're so easy to wear and you can make your own pair in about 5 minutes. I think the best ones are the ones that look like they've been through hell and back with you. I think they always look better as they rip and fray. I also prefer the ones that are nearly, almost, a little too short. Pockets sticking out are a plus too. To wear them, it's best to get the right proportions to prevent the 'skank' factor. Because they're so tiny it's important to wear something more modest, loose and unrevealing up top. Let your legs be the the star of the show and use accessories to enhance your outfit. When cut offs are done correctly, they exude an air of effortless chic.

High waisted is usually a more polished silhouette
Works with tights when changing seasons
Mix colours and prints for a real statement
Casual top and chunky heels = instant cool

Play around with colours for a pop of fun
Experiment with studs to get tough
It is super easy to create your own and it's also a great way to update your wardrobe and get rid old jeans. I think the best hems for cut offs are always a little shorter through the front and longer around the bum. Try on your jeans and mark it out with some chalk or pins. You may need someone to help you with the back. Remember, the hem will fray, roll up a little and get a bit shorter with wash and wear. So as a general rule, always cut it a little longer to start with. I marked mine 1 inch down from my crotch and squared the line out towards the side seams. I then marked around the pockets which also covered my bum. 

Goodbye 2005 Lee Supatubes
Pin and check your hem

I pinned my markings so I could see it properly in the mirror. If they look good, then start chopping away! Check in the mirror again as you may want to make some adjustments. I had to reshape the back a little as they were too long. 

Finally, you can start personalising your new cut offs by distressing them. I started off by pulling the threads off at the hem and fraying it. I'm going to leave it that way and let it age naturally and fray more when I wash them. If you like, you can attack them with a steak knife for more frays or cut holes into them and pull away the threads. For a really grungey look you can put a sharp rock under where you'd like a hole and sand away the fabric. Bleach or dye them into a rainbow of colours or add studs for a bit of tough bling. This is a great beginner's DIY and you'll get instant satisfaction when you tell all your friends, 'Look! I did it myself!"

Frayed, trashy goodness!

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Himalayan Cafe

Meat Momos!

Last Wednesday night I organised for a few of my work friends and I to get together for dinner. I chose to go to the Himalayan Cafe in New Farm because I've heard they have great vegetarian options and it'd be fun for everyone to have something a little different. When we arrived there the place was packed full of people and energy, but also pretty noisy. Anna mentioned that there is a back area where the tables are low set and everyone can sit on comfy cushions on the floor. I think we'll try getting a table back there next time because when I walked by I could actually hear people talking instead of just hearing lots of people trying to talk all over each other. I was surprised when I saw the menu as it was quite extensive and the prices were really cheap. There were lots of breads, soups, noodles and curries to choose from and most of the items had a vegetarian option. I loved that there were so many new and interesting flavours for me to explore. 

Himalayan Bread
Some sort of stuffed bread Joel ordered,
I think it had meat in it

Vegetarian Momo Soup
We ordered quite a few different items and shared them amongst each other. For the entree I chose the Momo soup which was a potato and chickpea dumpling soup. It was such a large serving I was pretty much full when I finished. We all ordered some Himalayan bread and garlic bread to share. It was fluffy and steaming, with a subtle sweet taste covered in gooey cheese. SO good! Nicola ordered some meat Momos that came with a spicy tomato chutney. Even though I didn't try some Nicola assured me that they were delicious.

Newa Organic Tofu
Goat Curry

Vegetarian Platter
Lamb Curry

For the mains, I ordered the Newa Organic Tofu, Joel and Nicola ordered a Lamb Curry, Jesse had the Goat Curry and Anna had a Vegtarian Platter. My tofu curry had a tomato base with sour cream, I really enjoyed it because it was creamy and flavoursome, but not sickingly rich. Nicola and Joel went through their curry pretty quickly which is a sign it was pretty good. Jesse had been wanting to try the goat curry for a while and after reading through online reviews it seems that it is one of the restaurant's signnature dish. Luckily it did not disappoint, Jesse said the meat was tender and juicy and didn't have an overpowering gamey taste. Unfortunately I can't remember much of Anna's dish, but I know it came with a few little bowls of different delights that work well with one another. I do remember trying some apple yoghurt curd which I would imagine as quite refreshing after having a hot curry.

Jesse with is goat curry, haha!
All in all we had a really wonderful night. After many bottles of wine, great food in a fun and buzzing atmosphere, lots of laughs and conversation, I think we've all decided another mid-week dinner date is a must.

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Vego Challenge - Beetroot Risotto with Goat's Cheese and Walnuts

All I can say about this dish is... it's freaking delicious! I made this last night and I just wanted more and more. It's a little different to your regular risotto because it uses beetroot which turns the little rice grains into a beautiful shade of red and adds a sweet delicate flavour. I love cooking with beetroot because the rich colours make it so much more exciting, not to mention it tastes great. Just make sure you're wearing black or an apron! The walnut and goat's cheese combination just brings this dish to another level. Go on! Try it, you'll never even notice that it's vegetarian.

This recipe serves 4
You will need -
  • 450g can whole baby beetroot
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g arborio rice
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 150ml red wine
  • 75g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 125g soft goats' cheese
  • Wild rocket leaves, to serve

1. Drain the beetroot juice into a jug and add the vegetable stock to make up about 1 litre.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened.

The smell from the onions and butter was so amazing... ahhh simple pleasures
3. Add the rice and thyme and stir to coat the rice grains in the butter.

4. Add the red wine to the rice and continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

This is the creamy texture to look for

5. Add the stock mixture, a ladleful at a time, stirring to prevent catching and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Continue for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked but slightly al dente.

6. Dice the beetroot into small cubes, and then add to the risotto, along with two-thirds of the chopped walnuts.

Amazing Amazing AMAZING!!
7. To serve, crumble the goats' cheese over the beetroot risotto, sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and then garnish with some wild rocket.

If you can't find canned whole beetroots, just use pre-sliced beetroot like I did. It makes dicing them a lot easier anyway. I added quite a bit of freshly cracked black pepper into this, because I can never have too much pepper. But it also works well to balance out the sweetness of the beetroots and the creaminess of the goat's cheese. Seconds, anyone?

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September Stylin'

September Stylin'

Pretty much sums up how I want to look lately.  The weathers been close to perfect with bright sunny skies and lovely breezes. I'm totally in love with coral and turquoise at the moment...

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Happy 60th Post!

Wow! I can't believe that I've made 60 posts already. Who knew this little curious journey would become a permanent hobby of mine. I always look forward to writing posts and sharing my thoughts and D.I.Y projects with you all. I usually jot down my new ideas and things I must write about in a little notebook covered with pink cherry blossoms. I really appreciate those of you who support and follow me and leave feedback for me to work on. Thank you! Today I'm just going to share a few inspirations I've collected over the last two weeks. I hope to turn most of these inspirations into D.I.Y projects very soon. Let me know in the comments below which pieces you'd like to see me recreate.

Honestly WTF

Honestly WTF

P.S. Don't forget to like my page on Facebook :)

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