Chai Spiced Apple Pie

You guys… I finally did it.

I’ve mastered the apple pie!

Okay, well not exactly mastered because I did use store bought pastry, but hear me out.

Prior to this day my apple pies have been a MESS. Too wet, or too dry, or the apples aren’t cooked enough or they’re basically sauce by the time you cut into it. But not this time my friends, not this time. This pie is L.E.G.I.T.

And I also gave it a lil’ tweak and added some chai spice because… Winter?

Speaking of which, it’s the last official weekend of Winter 2016 in Australia. I’m kinda sad… but then again I’ve got a delicious watermelon in my fridge which is making me feel a wholllleeee lot better about it.

As for the fact that I used a store bought pastry… well, nobody’s perfect, right?

Let’s get to the recipe:

Chai Spiced Apple Pie

you’ll need:

3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, all spice, nutmeg, and cardamom

1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp melted butter

2 sheets of shortcrust pastry, thawed

how:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Lay one sheet of pastry in a round pie dish, pressing down lightly. I use this one.

Combine the apples, butter, spices, pepper, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl, mixing until each piece of apple is coated evenly. Pour into the prepared pie dish, and then top with the remaining pastry sheet. Crimp the edges of the pastry together to seal, and cut vents in the top. Don’t skip this step, otherwise the pie will hold too much liquid and be impossible to deal with.

Bake for around 30-45 minutes, until the pastry is nice and browned.

Remove from oven and sit for around 15 minutes, which will allow the mixture inside the pie to thicken slightly, making for easy cutting.

And serve – it’s great with ice cream (obviously)!

Enjoy,

Sharni X

Edible Flowers

With Spring coming at full speed, I decided it would be a good idea to invest some time over the weekend in planting a potted garden full of flowers for all of the baking I intend to do in the coming months. Lauren Conrad (a.k.a. LC, a.k.a. my guru in life) said that 2016 so far has been the year for edible flowers and I can’t help but agree with her.

Since I had about twelve pots (I kid you not) laying around in my backyard, I was able to buy a bunch of different flowers from the nursery to plant. I have a balcony which gets around 6 hours of sun a day so I had to purchase and pot accordingly. Here’s what I got:

Marigolds.

I’ve always loved my Nan for her passion for her garden. She’s got this huge front yard that gets full sun all day, and she uses it to grow the most gorgeous flowers. She’s even won competitions for how beautiful it is. I remember her showing me the marigolds she planted one time and I’ve thought they were so interesting since then. I got these flowers in honour of my Nan and her beautiful garden, and I love that they’re in full bloom already. P.s. I bought a mixed punnet of these, but the straight yellow are all that have flowered yet. I’m so excited for the striped and orange-y varieties to bloom.

 

Pansies. 

They have a bit of a funny name but they’re such a beautiful and delicate flower. I bought a large potted plant with multiple pastel toned colours throughout.

 

Violas.

I have already planted two different varieties in my garden, some purple and yellow and some white and yellow, but I couldn’t resist this blue/violet variety.

 

Lavender. 

This particular variety of lavender is called Princess Lavender, and this picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s more of a pinky fuschia than a full purple, and it smells amazing. Lavender is also a bee-friendly flower, so it’s kinda win-win.

Now, how do I plan to use these gorgeous edible flowers? Well, for starters, they’re great to pick and display in recycled vanilla extract bottles and maple syrup bottles, but there’s also some gorgeous recipes available online to gather inspiration from. Here are some:

  1. Chocolate and Nutella Vertical Roll Cake
  2. Edible Flower Cake
  3. Edible Flower and Elderflower Popsicles
  4. Blackberry and Lavender White Chocolate Scones
  5. Floral Ice Cubes
  6. Spring Rolls with Flowers
  7. Edible Flower Lollipops
  8. Viola Crepes with Floral Syrup

Do any of these recipes sound interesting to you?

Sharni X

 

Current Favourites

With the weather warming up, I’m finding that the aesthetic I’m loving the most right now is clean tonal linen and a garden full of flowers. I know – florals? For (almost) spring? Groundbreaking.

Today I thought I’d share with you all a few of my favourites as of late, and you’ll find they’re all kinda spring-y.

Let’s get to it…

Favourite Sweet Treat: Passionfruit and Blueberry Tart with Chamomile.

Passion Fruit and Blueberry Tart with Chamomile Flowers:

Favourite Way to Cover a Wall: Just grow some flowers! (You’d never have to buy candles again!)

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Favourite Fashion Trend: Culottes!

Babaton ECKHARDT PANT | Aritzia:

Favourite Flower: Princess Lavender.

Favourite Kitchen: I’m usually for all white everything in the kitchen but this space and colour scheme is so homey.

The Most Drop-Dead-Gorgeous Kitchens You've Ever Seen:

Happy Saturday!

Sharni X

 

Frothy Banoffee Hot Chocolate featuring Damn Sugar!

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Okay, is anyone else super sad that there’s like a week and a half left of Winter? I can’t believe I have to say goodbye to my favourite season for another 9 months, it just went by so fast.

Something that’s making me momentarily forget about the upcoming change in season is hot chocolate – more specifically, Damn Sugar! hot chocolate. I figure I’ll need to drink as much of it as I can before summer arrives.

I’ve been on the Damn Sugar! train since they were called KOCO, and for good reason! Their formula is refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free and vegan, and did I mention amazing? Their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is my favourite, ever.

When they emailed me about the release of their newest flavour – Banoffee (NO, THIS IS NOT A DRILL) – I literally ordered a packet the same day.

Something I love about Damn Sugar!, apart from the amazing taste, is how fast their products arrive and how beautiful their packaging is. I always love supporting small businesses like this one because so much time and effort goes into their work and you know they put their all into it.

Now, let’s get to the drink, right?

The secret for making this perfect hot chocolate is to froth it up in your french press AFTER you heat the milk. I actually learnt this little tip from the Damn Sugar! blog, which is kinda perfect. If you haven’t checked it out, please do!

Frothy Banoffee Hot Chocolate

you’ll need:

1 cup milk of your choice

2 tbsp Damn Sugar! Banoffee Hot Chocolate powder, plus extra for sprinkling

how:

In a small saucepan, stir the milk over low-medium heat.

Keep stirring the milk until it is at a drinking temperature you prefer.

Carefully stir in the chocolate powder, carefully, as sometimes it just explodes everywhere.

Once it’s all combined, turn the heat off and carefully pour the hot chocolate into a french press. pump around 5-7 times until the milk is nice and frothy.

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Pour into a mug, sprinkle with the extra hot chocolate powder, and try not to drink it all in 0.04 seconds!

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Sharni X

Meltdown Tea {from the Make Your Own Rules Cookbook by Tara Stiles}

While I do love to buy gorgeous boxes and bags of tea, sometimes there’s nothing more rewarding than making your own out of super fresh ingredients (and you know it’s gotta be better for you too!)

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The other day I was flicking through Tara Stiles ‘Make Your Own Rules Cookbook’, and I stumbled across her Meltdown Tea, which at the time was exactly what I needed.

See, I have this caffeine issue… when I drink coffee, or even too much black tea, I react badly to the adrenaline it gives me. I break out within 24 hours, my anxiety goes through the roof, my stress levels are ridiculous, and my legs and arms and hands swell up. I also get migraines and sometimes my head swells up so my glasses don’t fit properly. Yuck!

It sucks because I actually love coffee. First world problems, right?

So I found this recipe on a day that I decided to risk it and drink two cups of coffee… which led to me having an actual meltdown. Not cute at all.

I guess you could say it was fate?

Needless to say, I’ve learnt my lesson (for what might be the hundredth time) and am sticking to low caffeine from here on out!

Now, back to the tea.

Apart from being totally caffeine free, this tea also has lottttsa health benefits, due to the natural ingredients it contains. Let me break it down for you.

Drinking mint tea can… improve your digestion, reduce inflammation, cure bad breath, assist in weight loss, and boost your immune system.

Drinking ginger tea can… protect against Alzheimer’s disease, improve your digestion, relieve heartburn, assist in weight loss, manage blood sugar levels, cure nausea, and reduce inflammation.

Drinking cinnamon tea can… lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, assist in weight loss, warm your entire body.

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I’ve been drinking this tea non-stop since I discovered the recipe (thank you so much Tara!) and can definitely say it’s helped ease my stress.

Aaaaand it’s only 3 ingredients!

Meltdown Tea

serves 2

2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced

1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Tara makes hers on the stove-top by letting the ingredients simmer for ten minutes, but I’ve found it works just as well in a teapot.

Add all ingredients to a teapot and pour in freshly boiled water. Let steep for around 5 minutes, and serve.

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Enjoy!

Sharni X

Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of Tara’s book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

 

Netflix & Chill

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No, not the ‘Netflix and Chill’ you’re thinking of…

I mean ACTUALLY chill. You know, the good old fashioned PJ party on the couch with ALL of the snacks while you watch movies all day? Well Netflix has really encouraged this kind of down time and I for one am not complaining. Even though I’m a writer and am all for the written word, sometimes it’s nice to switch off through visual narrative.

So if you’ve got no plans (or friends) this weekend, and are looking for something to do – look no further.

Order that pizza, crack open that rosé, and CHILL OUT. I give you full permission.

Here’s a list of what I’m obsessed with on Netflix at the moment:

Shameless (The US Version) 

If you were hesitant to watch this show because of how it looks on the outside, I totally understand. I only started watching it about two weeks ago, and at first I was a bit unsure. But now I’m hooked. I will say it’s not for everyone and I definitely say it’s NOT for kids, but it’s funny and shocking and relatable (in some ways). We watch an episode or two every night and sometimes stay up way too late because we can’t wait 24 hours for the next episode.

Scream 

The TV series, not the movie franchise you’re thinking of. It’s the Scream empire, re-imagined and modernised. And it’s so good. It’s creepy and mysterious and fights all of the usual slasher stereotypes. I really recommend if you like a good scare.

Chef

I wasn’t expecting much out of this movie but I really enjoyed it. It makes you reaaaally hungry, though, so be warned!

Tattoo Tales

This is an Australian ‘reality’ TV show about a tattoo shop in Bondi Beach. Here’s the thing – I’m not into tattoos, and I don’t think I’ll ever get one, but for some reason Harry and I were obsessed with this show! Only the first season is available for now, but we watched it all in the one day – that’s how hilarious this show is.

The Woman in Black

Based on a novel by the same name, this movie is creepy. Full of jump scares and terrifying imagery. I read the book first around three years ago and loved it. Daniel Radcliffe fits the protagonists character perfectly.

Gilmore Girls

If you’re like me and didn’t watch this show when it aired on TV, you’ll be happy to know Netflix has all seven seasons – and they’re making a new one, too! So now we can all get caught up before the next season is released. (This show makes me crave donuts and coffee – watch it and you’ll learn why!)

Hush

This movie is scary AF! The whole story line plus the fact that most of the movie is silent makes this probably the jumpiest movie I’ve seen all year. Terrifying. 10/10 wouldn’t recommend watching this if you live alone in the middle of nowhere.

Aaaand, while I haven’t started watching it yet, I’ve seen EVERYONE online raving about Stranger Things, which was only added to Netflix recently. So maybe check that out, if you’ve watched everything else I’ve recommended.

I would love to know what you guys are watching on Netflix at the moment.

Sharni X

 

 

 

Life Lately

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In three days, University starts up again for the second semester. I’m usually super excited to get back to classes and assessments (weird, I know), but this time I’m dreading it a little. I’ve really enjoyed having over a month off to do whatever I wanna do, whether that be sleeping in, or just having no deadlines and expectations. It’s been really nice.

But all good things must come to an end, and hey, uni life ain’t that bad if I’m being honest.

Life lately has been full of adventures and baking, as well as knitting, knitting, knitting. I’m working on a large throw for our couch and decided to use thin yarn… I don’t think I quite realised at the time what I got myself in to, but I do enjoy doing something with my hands while watching re-runs of Sex and The City.

As for the adventures…

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This picture was taken at the top of Mount Cooroora (Mount Pomona), which I will say was the toughest mountain I’ve climbed yet. Definitely worth it for the views and amazingly fresh air at the top.

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A couple of weekends ago, Harry and I decided to go and explore Booloumba Falls in the hinterland, but couldn’t figure out how the hell to get there. We later learnt that you need a 4WD to get to the actual waterfall, which is around 10km away from where our Mazda could reach. We ended up taking The Fig Tree walk which is outside of Kenilworth, and it was a nice little stroll through a forest full of the largest fig trees I’ve ever seen. Just be careful of the leaves from the trees, as they contain a type of acid that apparently burns your skin as bad as a jellyfish sting.

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Our most recent adventure was to this cave hidden inside the Sunshine Beach headland. You can only access it during low tide and it’s a bit tough to climb down (especially since I didn’t wear shoes), but really fun at the same time. While we were here we noticed a little seal in the ocean! We sat and watched him for almost half an hour while the sun set. So cute.

Speaking of cute…

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I couldn’t finish this post without adding this picture of Nala that I took last week…

Sharni X

Chai Infused Fig Cake with Caramel Sauce

I think I’ve discovered a new world. A world in which you can combine two of my favourite things in the world. Tea and cake. But not a slice of cake alongside a cup of tea, no no no.

I’m talking tea INSIDE the cake.

Let me tell you, tea infused cake = heaven! (Obviously!)

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On a recent rainy Saturday, Harry and I ventured into the hinterland and stumbled across Elements at Montville. Because it was miserable outside (and we both have a raging sweet tooth) we decided coffee and cake would be a good idea.

Elements has a serious range of teas. More than I do, which is definitely saying something. Any tea that you could dream of, they have. Choc Chai? Creme Brulee? Gunpowder Green? They’ve got it! It’s basically like the inside of a T2 store, except they stock a few of their own blends as well.

Something else they have quite a selection of is cakes, and that’s how I stumbled across this sticky, figgy, tea infused deliciousness. I ordered a Creme Brulee tea, and a slice of their Chai and Fig Cake, which was served with ice cream and caramel sauce. As soon as I tasted it I knew I had to recreate it at home. Now, of course, I didn’t ask for their recipe, but I was able to combine a few of the ingredients I had at home to make an almost identical dessert.

If you live in the Sunshine Coast I definitely recommend heading to Elements for breakfast or lunch, or even just a slice of one of their dreamy cakes. And don’t forget a pot of tea!

Chai Infused Fig Cake with Caramel Sauce

you’ll need:

2 cups self raising flour

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

125g butter, softened

2 chai tea bags, brewed with 2/3 cup boiling water

2 tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 dried figs, sliced thinly

plus 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt (for the caramel sauce)

how:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. 

Grease a round spring form cake tin with butter. 

Combine the hot brewed Chai tea (sans teabags) and the sliced dried figs in a heat proof jug, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. 

In a small saucepan over a medium heat, combine the ingredients for the caramel sauce, stirring constantly until combined. Keep on the heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat once golden brown and thickened slightly. Allow to cool before pouring into a jar. 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, and tea/fig liquid, as well as the milk. Once mixed well, fold through the flour gently, making sure to not over mix. 

Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin, and bake in the oven for around 25-35 minutes, until cooked through. 

Take the cake out of the oven and let sit in pan for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. After around 20 minutes of cooling, drizzle about half of the caramel over the still-warm cake.

Serve immediately with ice cream and another drizzle of caramel sauce, or store in the fridge for 2-3 days, alongside the leftover caramel sauce. Warm slightly before serving.

I certainly won’t judge you if it’s all gone within the day.

Enjoy!

Sharni X

A Caprese Salad

I contemplated calling this post ‘THE Caprese Salad’ because it’s pretty much the be-all-and-end-all of Italian style salads. It’s not the most traditional version of itself, but I find it’s better than it’s three ingredient counterpart because of how many different flavours and textures this version allows. Not to mention the colour. I mean, have you ever seen a salad that looks this good?

I do have to mention Tieghan and her beautiful blog because she gave me the inspiration for this panzanella/caprese/antipasto style salad. Thank you, Tieghan, for your pretty eats and mind-blowing comfort food. I tried your Caprese Quinoa Bake and… wow. I had seconds!! Well… I actually had thirds but let’s pretend they were seconds, okay?

Now, on how to put this thing together. You could just chuck all of the ingredients into a bowl and serve it, but I love how this turned out. It did take a bit of pre-planning and mindful preparing, but everyone loved it and the board was empty within 20 minutes. I’m going to leave the styling up to you, because you can definitely sub-out ingredients if you’re not feeling them. I’ll tell you guys what I used though, and you can give it your own twist.

THE Caprese Salad😉

you’ll need:

1 avocado, halved and then sliced

2 large tomatoes, sliced

1/2 punnet of sweet red snacking tomatoes, halved

1/2 punnet of sweet yellow snacking tomatoes, halved

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

4-6 balls of traditional bocconcini, some halved, some sliced

6 slices of prosciutto, halved length ways

1/2 a fresh French baguette, torn into small cubes

1-2 cups of fresh basil leaves

1 zucchini, shaved thinly length ways, blanched, and lightly salted

1 purple carrot, julienned

to garnish: edible flowers, thinly sliced shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper

how:

Starting with the carrot and zucchini, arrange all of the ingredients except for the garnishes on the board, and then add a drizzle of olive oil, the edible flowers, the shallots and salt and pepper, to taste.

If you can, try to use heirloom tomatoes. I would have, but they aren’t in season during the winter.

If serving this during the summer, sub-out the zucchini and carrot and use asparagus instead, like Tieghan did in her beautiful dish.

Enjoy!

Sharni X

 

Current Favourites

Ahhhh what a July it’s been so far! We’ve had two big birthdays in our families – Harry’s grandfather turned 80, and my grandmother turned 70 – and the parties were held on consecutive weekends. Lots of photographs, lots of food, and lots of family time. I could never complain about the last two things, but I will say that I don’t like having my picture taken!

I thought I’d share my current favourites today on the blog, and trust me, there’s a few. (They aren’t all food related, either, which must come as a surprise!)

Favourite Essay: Jennifer Aniston’s ‘For The Record’. I don’t usually read celebrity essays but I feel like these words, coming from anybody, are important. Especially when dissecting this new-age ‘journalism’.

“The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance… a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood. We use celebrity “news” to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation.” 

I mean… Do I even need to add anything? I don’t think so.

Favourite Burger: I just got given this gorgeously huge pineapple so I figure why eat it the boring way? On it’s own? Pssssshh. Grill it, put it on top of pulled pork, and call it a day. Simple.

Grilled Pineapple Pork Sandwiches - juicy shredded slow cooker pork with golden brown pineapple pieces. SO good! | pinchofyum.com

Favourite Way to Spend the Morning:

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Favourite Pastime: KNITTING! I’m obsessed. I’m currently making a huge grey blanket for the couch. It will probably take me ten years but I’m committed to the end result! And this article makes the whole thing even sweeter.

Favourite Winter Activity:

Lass uns Lagerfeuerlieder üben um uns jetzt schon an der Zukunft zu vergnügen <3:

Favourite Winter Dessert: I also got given a ridic amount of apples from Harry’s families farm, so I’ve been making allllll of the apple crumble.

Favourite Colour: 

grey pantone, nagellack:

Favourite DIY: An easy loom to make woven wall art.

Things I've Made From Things I've Pinned: Diy Woven Wall Hanging.:

Favourite Texture: 

Crossing Threads, handwoven, weaving, woven wall hanging, tapestry, wool, yarn, fiber art:

Favourite Style: Nina Proudman, Offspring Season 6!

Filming Offspring season 6 - Asher Keddie (Nina Proudman) - I like Nina' style in season 6....:

Asher Keddie (Nina Proudman Offspring 6):

Did anyone else find it weird that Nina and Will were wearing identical colours during Darcy’s funeral? Anyone?!

Sharni X