super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Bolo de Bolacha – Portuguese Cookie Cake

Bolo de Bolacha (Portuguese for “cookie cake”) has always been one of my favourite cakes (so much so that, for a few years, I requested it as my birthday cake). It is also incredibly easy to make and really quick since it requires no baking and only needs to go in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. You can make it in whichever shape you want, either square or as a circle or, perhaps the easiest and nicest looking, as a flower. I grabbed this recipe from my mum when I moved but there are a number of variations out there on the internet (and they all sound delicious).

You’ll need:

- 2 egg whites

- 150g of caster sugar

- a teaspoon of lemon juice

- 200g butter (softened)

- 2dl of strong coffee

- a couple of teaspoons of sugar (for the coffee)

- 2 packets of Marie biscuits (wine biscuits work too)

Whisk the egg whites until fluffly, then slowly add the sugar, lemon juice and the butter, beating well after each addition. Once the mixture is creamy, refrigerate for about 10 to 20 minutes. Make the coffee. Dip each of the biscuits in coffee before laying them on the plate close together, once you have the first layer (I normally use 6 biscuits per layer, in the flower shape), spread some of the butter mixture on them. Repeat the process for each layer of biscuits, dipping them in the coffee and spreading the butter mixture on top of each layer. Once you’re done, spread the leftover mixture over the entire cake. Refrigerate for as long as your heart can handle it (in my case, that was an hour, and only because I got to eat dinner during it) and eat until you can’t imagine eating any more cake ever again. And then have another piece.


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An unforeseen turn of events

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Do you ever have weekends when you feel like you can actually relax and have time to do everything you planned to do? For the longest time, I thought they were an urban myth, like blair witch or instant coffee that doesn’t make me want to puke. Turns out those weekends exist, though, and the secret to finding them seems to simply lie in getting my ass out of bed before noon.

This weekend, I decided I was not going to make any plans requiring any more than a five or ten minute advance notice. I fitted in shopping (more hours than I should have – sorry, credit card), quality time with the kitty, family skype time, coffee and magazine reading (the new issue of Runner’s World conveniently arrived in my letterbox on Saturday morning – a free issue from one of those coupons you can get in most event goodie bags), and a cookie baking extravaganza.

More importantly, I ran 3 times in the last 2 days, and 4 times in the last 3 days even, since I also ran a 5k on Friday morning before work.  Out of those 4 times, two of them were morning runs. I didn’t get a super long run in like I had expected (12k was the longest distance the watch recorded this weekend, and it included a couple of kilometers of walking). It didn’t matter, though. I’m still pretty happy to have gotten some kilometers under my belt. The hardest step is the one out of the door yadda yadda kind of thing, you know. My laundry pile has never had as many running clothes but I’ve also never felt so motivated about this whole marathon training thing.

I blame the sun. And also, I blame all this getting out of bed at the crack of dawn thing I’ve been doing. It dawned on me the other day (see what I did there? Hmm? Hmm?) that I have only slept past 9:30AM once this year (last weekend), and that one time was planned. I wanted the feeling of spending the whole morning in bed back again. And you know what was weird? I didn’t like it. I felt like I had just wasted a whole lot of time doing nothing. This is the same person that up until a couple of years ago would never get out of bed before 11 on a weekend, unless there was a very good reason to do so (and there were very strict criteria to define what “a very good reason” consisted of, excluding basically everything except for the apocalypse).

This Sunday, for example, I got out of bed at 6AM to run. There was no running event with a set time at stupid o’clock or anything, just me wanting to get a run in before the sun was too high up. I got to run before a lot of people were even out of bed and so the whole day was freed up to do other stuff. Turns out “other stuff” ended up including more running and I couldn’t resist another run in the evening, as dinner simmered away.

So this is awkward. It looks like all this running may have accidentally turned me into a morning person. I still dislike getting out of bed but a bulldozer no longer has to hit the walls of the bedroom for me to actually get up – especially if there’s running to be done. See you out there before 7AM sometimes. Apparently, it won’t kill me.


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fudge for lazy (ahem, tired) hungry people

You know how sometimes you get home and you’re tired and feel like crap and head straight to the cupboard for one of those pre-cooked meals in a packet that you just need to add water to or heat up in the microwave? And then you eat them watching some equally cheap show on TV and feel sorry for yourself and resolve to not be so lazy from then on, except the next day comes around and work is stressful so you go home and do the same thing all over again except this time with more tears and maybe you forgot to turn the dishwasher on and doing dishes by hand is too much work so you reach for the old paper plates from that last barbecue from years ago before all your friends had babies and stopped having time for barbecues?

Okay, me neither. That was a slight exaggeration. But the point is that sometimes I’m tired. Really tired. And lazy. But mostly tired. And I want some dessert. But I also don’t want to move too many muscles.

Enter the perfect fudge recipe for the tired full time worker and runner in need of a sugar fix.

You need: one microwaveable bowl, cake mix (I used vanilla but I suppose any cake mix will do), icing sugar, butter and milk (and sprinkles, if you’re feeling festive). THAT’S IT! The instructions are here, complete with photos and everything. Follow those steps and eat until your stomach cries of happiness. Seriously, this paragraph alone took longer to write than it takes to make this fudge.

When it comes to stuff like cake mix, I’m a pretty vocal supporter of the making it from scratch movement. It’s therapeutic, easy, and extra delicious. I don’t think I’d ever bought a packet of the thing before until I came across this recipe and decided that the future of humanity depended on me figuring out whether this was as amazing as it sounded. Plus, if I make cake batter from scratch and I don’t put it in the oven, there’s something to do with its magnetic field and laws of gravity somethingsomething that just makes it go straight into my belly. Because screw you, salmonella).  So now I’m a convert. I might just have to have a packet of cake mix at home at all times, just in case I need to make good use of 3 minutes and get me some more of this fudge.


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apple and cinnamon turnovers

Not exactly the best looking treat I’ve ever made (also not the worst, trust me) but really tasty nonetheless. Inside, a mix of bits of apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Not sure about the quantities, just basically made a big mixture of those four ingredients in a bowl. Drizzled with a mix of icing sugar and milk on top, in a failed attempt to make them look slightly less boring. These had the added bonus of making the kitchen smell like Christmas.


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a hot date with tea and cake

Here’s the recipe for a really good afternoon: bake a cake, get your pretty new vintage china out and pour yourself a cup of your current tea obsession (at the moment, lime and orange).

For this marble cake, I sort of followed the recipe from the Edmonds cookbook, but made a few adjustments. For example, the recipe tells you to divide the cake batter into three equal parts and add red food colouring to one of the parts to make it pink. I don’t think I’d ever heard of marble cake with three colours (am I just totally out of touch with the wonderful world of marble cakes?) so I skipped that step. I also added vanilla essence to the batter, to make the plain part of the cake a little less plain, and replaced the cocoa with drinking chocolate.

Anyway, you’ll need: three eggs, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of self-raising flour, 50g of melted butter, 2 tablespoons of boiling water, 2 or 3 tablespoons of drinking chocolate, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Beat the eggs until thick and gradually add the sugar in until the mixture gets thick and white. Fold flour into the mixture and then fold the butter and boiling water into it. Divide the batter into two equal parts. In one of them, stir in the cocoa/drinking chocolate. Leave the other plain. Grease a loaf tin and spoon the two mixtures into it diagonally. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

 


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Bread

Here it is – my first fully successful loaf of high fibre bread. I used a friend’s recipe that I had tried before (but a slight problem with the water temperature made my first attempt look and taste a bit more like a cake). This time, I got it right. The crust was crispy and the crumb was nice and soft.

I don’t have a bread maker nor a mixer capable of kneading the dough so the whole process was a real workout. It’s incredibly simple to make and only requires flour, water, olive oil, yeast, sugar and salt (pretty much all stuff that you probably have in your kitchen at any given time). The only thing that puts me off is the 15 minute workout. On the bright side, I’m going to get arms of steel if I make this more often!

It was still hot when we had the first few pieces with butter for afternoon tea.

The boy gave it its stamp of approval and had several pieces, included some toasted ones. Shame that he had to ruin the bread by spreading marmite all over it. Yuck.


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vanilla cupcakes with passionfruit icing

It really must be true what people say about how running leaves you full of energy because, following the run of death, I ended up having a fairly productive weekend.

On sunday morning, I was out of bed by 9am and, since my legs were too sore to go for a run in the morning, I stayed home and got a bunch of stuff done. And then I made cupcakes. These only took me like 10 minutes to make, plus the 15min to bake and the time to let the cupcakes cool down before icing them (if you look at my icing job up there, you can tell I didn’t wait long enough for them to cool down). Anyway, I’m a big fan of anything delicious that only requires about 10 minutes of work so I thought I’d share the recipe here.

For the vanilla cupcakes: mix 125g of melted butter with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and half a cup of sugar. add two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. fold 1 cup of self-raising flour into the mixture and then add 1/4 litre of milk and mix well. bake for 15min at 180 degrees celsius.

For the passionfruit icing, I just used 5 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar (which turned out to be enough to ice 12 cupcakes) and some delmaine’s passionfruit dessert topping that I had already bought for another dessert (that I’ve since forgotten to make). I’m not entirely sure how much passionfruit topping I used but it was quite a bit, maybe one third of the bottle. It was quite passionfruity (what a terrible made-up adjective for a journalist to use, I know) so I think next time I’ll add some butter to it.

Enjoy!


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cupcake mania

 

In the beginning of this month, I decided to start referring to it as Awegust rather than August. Because this has to be the most awesome month of the year. These photos are some of the evidence. Lots of homemade sugary treats, birthdays, a half-marathon (and plans for another one)… and to make it all even more awesome, running the risk of completely blowing up the awesomeness scale, I’m writing this post from Portugal, where I arrived yesterday for a much overdue catch up with family, friends…and summer!

So yeah, July and all the months before that, sorry but Awegust is kicking your butts. September, whatcha gonna do about it?

 

 


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easiest apple tart ever

Yes, this is another post about food – more specifically, it’s a post about cake (my favourite of all food groups – and what do you mean ‘cake isn’t a food group?’).

A few days ago, I baked my first ever apple tart (tart, not pie – take it easy!). Why, you ask? Well, because I remembered I had found what looked like the easiest recipe ever, even for a noob like me.

Anyway, in the absence of anything smart to say here, I thought I’d share another recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter (soft but not melted)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • grated rind of one orange
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (self-raising)
  • diced apple (I used a tin of apples I had at home, not sure how many apples to use, perhaps 4 or 5)
  • icing sugar to dust on top
Mix together butter, sugar, egg, vanilla essence and orange rind until nice and creamy. Add flour and mix well. Spread 2/3 of the mix in a cake tin (make sure it’s greased and floured). Spread the diced apple over it and dot the remaining mixture over the top. Bake at 190ºC for about 40 minutes. Let it cool down and dust with icing sugar.

I can’t remember where I got the recipe from, as I wrote it down a while ago and it has been sitting in the “to try” queue.

The result was very positive, even though the bottom was a wee bit burnt (less time in the oven next time, I guess). I’m looking forward to giving it another go, perhaps adding blueberries to it.


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queijadas de laranja

I went a wee bit baking-mad this weekend and, among other things, made these delicious queijadas de laranja, which I had been craving for a while. Queijadas are a Portuguese treat that can have different flavours. These are orange. I saw someone online describe queijadas as cheesecakes but I don’t think that’s quite right. They’re sort of halfway between a cheesecake and a muffin – cakey but really moist inside. Read: delicious!

Anyway, thought I’d leave the recipe I used here because they are so easy to make everyone should give it a go! Awesome with a hot cup of coffee!

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Queijadas de laranja

  • 1/2L milk
  • 175g flour (self-raising)
  • 40g butter (softened)
  • 300g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • juice and rind of 1 orange
  • optional: icing sugar and/or cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Heat up the milk in a saucepan and, once it starts to boil, add the butter.

Separately, mix flour and sugar and then add the eggs. Mix it all, then add the orange juice and rind and slowly add the milk, always beating well.

Pour the mixture into a muffin tray and cook it in the oven for 25 minutes.

You can choose to dust some icing sugar or cinnamon on top, once they’ve cooled down.

NB: these measurements were enough to make 23 queijadas so, all in all, a very inexpensive little treat!

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