Passion Mango Smoothie


since my last blog post here on ALA, i have experienced moments of resounding joy and crushing grief. between getting into the university course of my dreams and having to say goodbye to my loved pa, these past few weeks have  managed to stretch and stress my emotional capacity and range beyond belief. as the hot 'straya summer sets in, i have spent many an hour in front of the tv in the air conditioning watching final half of gilmore girls and contemplating how the rest of my 2018 might look and feel. it was between the bleeding-together-epidosdes of fast talking and coffee drinking that i settled into the idea of taking each day as it comes. but onto happier things. 

in the time between the end of school and the start of uni i have bought an inordinate amount of plants. house plants specifically. in the plant family there have been three additions this week alone! i think i may be becoming one of those ladies who fills the void with house plants and cats. cats!!!! i'm toying with the idea of adopting one and i think it might be the best idea since sliced bread. i just keep having visions of cat cuddles and playing with toys and patting and grooming and small little meows. there's even a name shortlist sitting in my phone. 

there has also been a surge in my d.i.y. adventures. it started with the park bench re-vamp that is now sitting in our backyard and yesterday expanded to the bedside table up-do using the cheapest ikea side tables i could find and some shiny white enamel paint. they look pretty spiffy alongside the house plants if i say so myself. 

so that's pretty much a re-cap of january. it was a tricky month so i don't really want to say much, but at least with uni starting, among other things, i'm sure february and it's 28 days will be a little more glorious. 


passion mango smoothie 

{serves two}


2 mango cheeks

5 tb lemon lime gelato

2 tb passion fruit pulp

1/2 c cubed ice 

2 tb cold water

1 tsp lime juice 

lime wheels (for garnish)



smoothie time!

use the glass trick to cut two cheeks off one mango! chuck all the ingredients into a small blender. the passion fruit pulp can be canned or from real fruit (if canned, make sure it's real fruit based).

blend until smooth and split into two glasses. add lime wheels for fancy garnish.

- jess! 

Gingerbread Biscuits

 an updated recipe

it's nearly been a year since this space here on ALA was updated and that's for a few reasons. firstly, and most obviously, i have been highly preoccupied with finishing my final year of high school and prepping for the exams which will let me into uni courses in 2018. secondly, in the time that may have been spare for recipe making, shooting and editing, i found myself at music rehearsals, at a much needed yoga class or dealing with some of the curveballs the universe has thrown at my life recently. 

during this period of waiting for my final results and score, i knew that it was time to return to this corner of the internet and to my long afternoons in the kitchen (even if the only person reading this is my mum) (hi mum!). so, here's a little update and recipe to get me back into gear!

if you've been around here for a while you'll know that christmas is my favourite time of year for food, and it will forever disappoint me that it is miles too hot in australia for warm comfort food in december and a racially-sensitive white christmas. nevertheless the universal nature of chrissy baking means that whilst my winter coats are away, the cinnamon and ginger can come out to play. 

this is an updated recipe, since during my time *off* from blogging there was a moment of discovery late last week in which i found this recipe tucked away in a stephanie alexander cookbook. oh stephy, you remind me that not all heroes wear capes. #aussielegend

these biscuits are spicy and crunchy and have just the right structural integrity to maintain their form when dunked into a cup of tea. mine were decorated with royal icing and coconut, but you could make a house, a family or a squad of superheroes with yours. the options are endless, so decorate your little heart out. go on, it's christmas. 


notes: this recipe isn't mine (as mentioned above) yet some adaptations have been made to the original. because i posses the coordination and grace of a baby giraffe when it comes to most things, my shapes were small and my gingerbread on the thicker side for easy handling. personally, thicker gingerbread is my preference, however if thinner is your cup of tea, reduce the cooking time by 5-7 minutes 

gingerbread biscuits 

makes about 24 biscuits


for the gingerbread cookies

85g unsalted vegan butter

90g brown sugar

1/4 c golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg yolk 

235g self-raising flour (plus extra to dust board)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice


for the royal icing

2 egg whites 

1 c pure icing sugar 


desiccated coconut (for decoration, optional)


to make the gingerbread cookies

in the bowl of a stand mixer slowly combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and golden syrup on low speed until a consistent colour is developed. increase the speed and beat until pale and creamy (~3 minutes).

add the egg yolk and beat high until the mixture increases in size and pales. 

meanwhile, in a large bowl gently combine the flour, salt and spices. with the beater on the lowest speed, add about 1/4 cup of the flour at a time, before increasing the speed to bind the dough together. it should be still quite wet and squidgy. 

roll the dough into a thick sausage about 20 cm long and wrap it in two layers of cling wrap. leave the dough in the freezer for three hours or until firm and cold (if you are making it multiple days in advance, let the dough freeze completely or chill in the fridge overnight for next-day use).

preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper. 

dust a rolling pin and a clean dry surface with flour and roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle about 5mm thick. cut the dough into shapes and bake on the prepared trays in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. re-roll any remaining scraps into a rectangle and cut more biscuits. if at any time during re-rolling remaining dough to cut more shapes the dough becomes warm from the heat of your hands, return it to the freezer until chilled once more. 


to make the royal icing

while the biscuits are cooling, beat the egg whites and icing sugar on high, using a whisk attachment until stiff peaks are formed. transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small round nozzle and, once the cakes are cooled, pipe away! sprinkle some desiccated coconut on top for a wintery-snow vibe! 

make sure to wait until the icing is properly set hard before storing the biscuits in an airtight container. 




Red Velvet Sheet Cake

argh christmas is in two days and argh so much still to bake but argh i'm so excited and argh it's gonna be so hot on christmas day and argh!!!!! i fought my way through melbourne central and onto a train today and nearly struggled to breathe in the christmas crowds this afternoon, but my mood lifted when i saw people running around wearing santa hats and reindeer antlers wishing everybody happy holidays! merry christmas! happy new year! enjoy hanukkah! thanks antler people <3

in other news, i finally filled the pots i've been storing in boxes on a bookshelf since we moved into there invited house with plants!! one's called clive, the other is patricia. patricia is my new kitchen and blog assistant and i think her pink colour makes her extra sassy, whilst clive sits on my desk and helps me make good decisions when writing and editing my essays. i also recently was gifted a gorgeous pine tree scented candle (thanks belle!!) and i think clive and patricia might be getting jealous (they don't really smell of anything you see) but it's ok, i think they'll get over it. 

speaking of plants, our garden has paving!! i'm so excited to play with a skipping rope on it and draw hopscotch games. do you remember those songs that we used to sing when playing jump rope? there was one about a teddy bear turning around, one was with the alphabet to guess the names of your future spouses and children.....ah grade 3 was cute. my ultimate favourite skipping game though was double dutch. i could not for the life of me be the person on the end twisting the ropes (the hand-eye coordination of eight year old jess was sadly, sub-par) but i got really good at the jumping bit!! it's funny the things you remember from being little hey? 

notes: here's a red velvet sheet cake inspired by this recipe here from molly (the ultimate bae). by adding more cacao powder and swapping the buttermilk out for almond milk, i made it a bit more fudgie. it's lying on the territory between a cake and a brownie and is a great base for flavoured frostings and fruity toppings with it's subtle chocolate flavour and dense, yet light, texture. i think a sheet cake is a really american thing to do, but i'm totally sold on the whole idea. it's super easy to share with the masses and decorate quickly. cake with friends that looks pretty with minimal effort, who doesn't love that???? 

Red Velvet Sheet Cake 

{makes 12 squares}


1 1/4 c plain flour, sifted

3/4 tsp baking powder, sifted

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 tb cacao powder, sifted

1/2 c coconut oil 

1 c caster sugar

1 egg

1 tb red food colouring (paste or gel works best)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white vinegar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

fresh fruit (optional), to serve


or the buttercream

330g vegan butter

750g icing (confectioner's) sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare a rectangular brownie tin (either with baking parchment or butter and flour). 

in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cacao powder. set aside. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the coconut oil and sugar on high for 4-5 minutes or until pale, creamy and voluminous. add the egg and beat again for another 2 minutes. add the food colouring, vanilla and vinegar before mixing for a final 3 minutes on high, or until the colour has been evenly distribute throughout the mixture (scrape the bowl down with a spatula to check that the base of the mixture is evenly coloured). 

add the dry mix to the bowl of the electric mixer in three parts, mixing on the lowest setting. watch out for flour storms. add the almond milk and gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. mix until well combined. 

pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. start checking for doneness at 25 minutes using a skewer - if the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 

set the cake aside to cool in the tin. once cooled, remove from the tin and frost with the buttercream icing. top with in season fruit (i used passionfruit and cherries - the chocolaty sweetness of the cake and frosting worked really well with the sharp and tangy flavours of the fruit) or sprinkles!!! 

cut the cakes into small squares to serve.the cakes will keep for 5 days stored at room temperature in a sealed container, although is best eaten within the first 3. 

to make the buttercream

in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the vegan butter and the icing sugar starting on a low speed, before creaming on high for 5 minutes. add the vanilla and beat again for another 5 minutes on high.

refrigerate the frosting for at least 15 minutes before spreading on the cake with a raised palette knife. 

- jess 

p.s. merry chrimbo!!! i hope santa comes!!