26 Oct 2014

Crispy Topped Mac and Cheese Bake

Did you know there is a National Comfort Food Day?
Well there is and it's amazing. It's in conjunction with The Coffee Club and it's basically an excuse to consume calories in your pyjamas. These are all things that I like to do.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

So when I sat down to think about my comfort food, I had to think back to my childhood when my mom would make us mac and cheese. By us I mean her and me. My dad hates pasta and I don't have any siblings so my mom and I would make mac and cheese together and then eat it straight out of the pot.
For Comfort Food Day, I decided that mac and cheese would be perfect.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

Of course, in this day and age, as food bloggers we cannot just make something the way it should be made. We have become scientists, we have become inventors and made creators. We mix and change and develop. Which is how I ended up with a Crispy Topped Mac and Cheese Bake.
Don't wee yourself just yet.
I didn't use macaroni elbows for this but you are welcome to do so, I just didn't have any in the pantry. I made my standard mac and cheese with bacon, then I popped it in a dish, topped it with chips and baked it. BOOM! Suddenly it's more than just mac and cheese. Suddenly you don't need a hug, you just need a bowl of this stuff in your life. Close the door, give yourself a moment alone. It's perfectly ok to drool on your keyboard and cheering is encouraged.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

Let me tell you how I did it.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

 Ingredients:

500g Dry Pasta (shape is up to you)
3TBsp Butter or Marg
1 Onion diced
1tsp Wholegrain Mustard
5 Rashers of Bacon
Salt and Pepper
3TBsp Plain Flour
Whole Milk
300g Grated Cheese

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

1// Dice your onion, cut your bacon into small pieces and grate your cheese. Pop your pasta on to boil while you make your cheese sauce.
2// Pop your butter and mustard into a large pot. Allow the butter to melt and then add your onions and bacon.
3// Let let the onions sweat and the bacon cook and when it looks golden and tasty, add your flour and stir it into the mixture.
4// You'll want to let the mixture cook for a bit. We're going to let the yellow deepen to a gold. This will cook out your flour and make your cheese sauce taste like heaven in a bowl.
5// Slowly add your milk and stir consistently. Add milk as you go along and the sauce gets thicker.
6// Add your cheese and continue to stir as it melts. The sauce will get much thicker very quickly so you can add a bit more milk to get your desired consistency.
7// Add salt and pepper to taste.
8// Drain your pasta and pop it into the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir it in until all of your pasta is covered in sauce.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese

The Topping
400g Chips of your choice
200g Grated Cheese

1// I used smokey bacon flavoured chips but you can use any flavour you like. Sour Cream and Chives is always popular or even Doritos for a corn flavour instead. You can crush the chips as fine or as chunky as you'd like. I only crushed mine a bit because I like the different texture on top.
2// Pour your mac and cheese into a baking dish, top with your chips and then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
3// Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 10 minutes.

PlanetBakeLife Mac and Cheese


Oh yeah! I served this is bowls for lunch but you could also add a side salad or some garlic bread if you're comforting other people as well! I hope everyone has a fantastic Comfort Food Day and consumes more than they should!


21 Oct 2014

BASIC CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA FROSTING

We moved!
And even though half of my baking pans are still in boxes and the other half are piled next to the fridge, I managed to make some carrot cake cupcakes for my co-worker's fifth year wedding anniversary.
Now I have to say that I absolutely love our new flat. It's awesome. But I don't lie, it's kind of difficult tripping over boxes to get to the bathroom and moving bags to find even the simplest of clothing. So while this recipe may not be ground breaking, it really was the bright spot in my week.

PlanetBakeLife Carrot Cake Cupcakes

There are extras that can be added to this like nuts and seeds and pineapple, but it's just as tasty without.

CARROT CAKE RECIPE

300g Soft Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1 1/4C Sunflower Oil
300g Plain Flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
2tsp Ground Ginger
300g Carrots
50g Ground Coconut

PlanetBakeLife Carrot Cake Cupcakes Grated Carrot



1// Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Put your soft brown sugar, eggs and oil into an electric stand mixer. Beat them together on medium until fully combined.
2// Add the bicarb, baking powder and spices to your mix. Make sure they are fully incorporated into your batter.
3// With the mixer still running, slowly add your flour. I like to add it half a cup at a time. If your mixture looks too wet, you can add a bit more flour but don't go too mad with this. You want a thick batter that's not too stiff.
4// Finally, add your coconut and carrots. I normally use my mixer to fold these in but you can do it by hand if you prefer.
5// Pop your mixture into cupcake liners in a cupcake tin (normal or Texas size) and pop into the over for 20 - 25 minutes. Check the middles using a knife or cake tester. When the metal comes out clean, your cupcakes are done. Let them cool completely before icing.

PlanetBakeLife Carrot Cake Cupcakes Raw
 
VANILLA FROSTING RECIPE

200g Soft Butter or Marg
Icing Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract

PlanetBakeLife Carrot Cake Cupcakes Cooked

1// Pop the butter into an electric stand mixer and pop it onto medium.
2// Add your vanilla extract.
3// Slowly add the icing sugar to your butter mixture. I normally add it until the butter pulls away from the side of the bowl. Then I turn the mixer up to high and let it do it's thing for 6 minutes.

PlanetBakeLife Carrot Cake Cupcakes Iced

Then you're ready to ice those amazing little cupcakes.
I took these to work and had none left within about 10 minutes. Don't be surprised if you don't even get to try them before everyone else helps themselves. Seriously, make sure you keep a few for yourself.


9 Oct 2014

My Favourite Indoor Home Decor Pieces to Start Fresh

We moved into our new place yesterday.
It's a one bedroom flat. It has wooden framed windows that don't close properly. It has the pantry of my dreams. We get good light at the end of the day. Some of the shelves are warped.
And the most important thing of all, it's all ours.
I cannot wait for everything to be unpacked. To start decorating it the way I've always dreamed. And to start cooking.

So while I worry about the boxes and getting internet connected, you can have a peek at my wish list for the new house. I've always wanted to have a neutral palette for the walls and floors and then accessorize with pops of colour. I also really love yellow so that gets me every time!

These all come from Kmart because when you have a budget, it's really the best place to shop, but it was not in any way sponsored by Kmart.

Home-decor-Kmart

1// Flamingo Cushion $12

2// Roommate Paper Lantern Lights "spots" $12

3// Flowers Jug $12

4// Ceramic Bird in Yellow $12

5// House Lantern in Orange $9

6// Knitted Ottoman in Charcoal $35

7// Sleving Ladder Unit in Black $39

What theme would you pick for your new house? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet!

30 Sep 2014

The Colour of Food {GIVEAWAY}

There is not much that I love more than sitting in front of the TV watching cooking programmes all day. The only things that top that are my cat and popcorn covered doughnuts.


These programmes normally consistent of a pretty lady or a middle aged gentleman telling you about the history of their culture or family's food traditions. Some of these cultures include French, Italian, Mexican, Greek and Vietnamese. But it is very rare to hear about the smaller countries.
I come from South Africa, a place with rich food and diverse dishes, but we aren't talked about much on the Food Network. Now I live in New Zealand and once again, the food is never discussed on big TV networks.

When I was sent Anne Else's new book (originally in E-format and now in paperback) I was completely floored by the way Anne associates with food. It's a whole different world and it's quite exciting. Anne talks about how she grew up with food, what role it played in her life and how it's purpose changed as she did. 
The best part?
It's set in New Zealand, written by a New Zealander and about New Zealand food.
It was an eye opener (especially for a foreigner) to see how food evolved in New Zealand. I would definitely recommend it to everyone. Kiwis will associate with the book, they'll be able to relate to the products mentioned and think back to the times Anne describes in the books. Everyone else will be afforded a glimpse into the Kiwi culinary world.

The good thing is that if you really want a copy of The Colour of Food then I can help you out! I have two copies of Anne Else's The Colour of Food to give away to two lucky readers!
You can enter below now for a chance to win your own copy.
a Rafflecopter giveaway