Olive Oil Blondies w' Chocolate Frosting

in the two months since my last post here, i've started med school. it is insanely busy and crazy and i love it.  i can now give injections and have a rudimentary understanding of why these here olive oil blondies might be a tad bad for us. but oh well they're delicious let's eat them anyway. 

starting this new chapter of my life ( i say started, but i'm halfway through the semester) has made me consider what kind of stuff might be featured here on this little internet corner. i figure that i might like to look back on all aspects of my life, not just my baking and cooking adventures. so expect some med school life content! in other news, between lectures, tutorials and traffic jams (i am beginning to feel like i'm spending my life in the cars somewhat), i have been slowly rekindling my love with the gym. slowly.  it's a fragile and tentative relationship, not unlike the one between tom and jerry from old saturday morning cartoons. speaking of cats, the cat lady life is approaching me. when i once thought that uni life would be staying out late and partying on, it really is hanging out with my bestie's new kitten (so! cute!), and wondering if 8:30 is too early to go to bed on a saturday night. #grandmalife

the importance of routine is setting in too. even though all my days start at different times, and my timetable is slightly different every week, i'm starting to get used to a routine of uni, study, sleep, gym (ish), working and hanging out. hopefully i get better at incorporating more of these posts into that routine! the shock of feeling lost, confused and not understanding most of what is happening is wearing off, and slowly but surely uni is becoming more like a good friend rather than a weird kooky cousin. the more i hear about the importance of looking after yourself as a medical student, the more i realise the importance of keeping it simple when it comes to wellbeing. personally, i don't feel the need for special powders in my smoothies (but hey! if that's what floats your boat keep on rolling!) or complicated workouts and wellbeing apps. just simple things like drinking water, going for a run, lifting some weight, having naps, switching my phone off and taking time to check in with my brain about how i'm feeling works for me. essentially, the content i'm studying is complicated enough - so i figure keeping the rest of my life as simple as possible is the way to go! 

so, in the theme of keeping it simple, here's a delicous recipe that is no fuss. no thousand glossy photos or complicated instructions. just a treat that may not be excellent for your body, but is fabulous for the soul. it's all about balance hey?

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even though the easter period is a time for chocolate, this recipe is perfect to share with those who perhaps aren't chocolate fanatics. these blondies are sweet, moist, dense, caramelly and delicious. i threw a chocolate buttercream frosting on top (with sprinkles ofc) to jazz them up a bit because i live by the rule that everything is better with buttercream and sprinkles. this recipe belongs to molly of mynameisyeh, and i made them for a bake stall at my old high school earlier in the year, they were a hit!! my frosting was slightly different to the original recipe, just because of my own personal preference and for dietary reasons. 10/10 would recommend, an excellent alternative to a brownie for the dairy-free amongst us! 


Olive Oil Blondies w' Chocolate Frosting

makes 16 large blondies

ingredients

for the blondies

2 c flour
2 c lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 c olive oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

for the frosting

200g vegan butter (room temp)

350g icing sugar

50g caco powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp unsweetened almond milk

sprinkles

method

to make the blondies

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease and line a square baking tin with baking paper, about 20x20 cm. 

in one large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking powder. in another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs and vanilla. making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet mix and whisk to combine. 

pour the batter into the lined baking tin and use a spatula or palette knife to spread an even surface on the mixture. bake for 35 minutes, then check for done-ness by sticking a skewer into the centre, on a slight angle. if it comes out clean, the blondies are ready. if not, bake for another 2 minutes, then check again.

leave to cool in the pan while making the frosting. 

to make the  frosting

cream the butter, icing sugar and cacao powder in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. beat for 3 minutes until pale and smooth. add the vanilla and almond milk and beat again for another minute. 

remove the blondies from the pan and frost. decorate with sprinkles as desired. 

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happy belated easter, enjoy the choccies!! 

jess x

  

Passion Mango Smoothie

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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. 

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passion mango smoothie 

{serves two}

ingredients

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)

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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. 

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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

ingredients

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

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for the royal icing

2 egg whites 

1 c pure icing sugar 

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desiccated coconut (for decoration, optional)

method

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. 

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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. 

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