Cool days = Baking days

IMG_3469 This morning I am heading into town to do a little shopping. My list looks something like this:

  • Wedding present
  • Christening present
  • Farewell present
  • A new top

Hmmm …how did that last one sneak in there?? I decided to take one of my homemade muesli bars with me – for a mid morning snack… I have seen these homemade bars on other blogs for ages now and was excited to give them a try! I decided to use this recipe I found at KERF as a base, but exchanged a few ingredients to make the bars wheat free. Basically I replaced the muesli with GF Muesli, added a handful of pepitas and also substituted the dried peaches with dried mixed berries. These bars were super easy to make. It really was just a matter of measuring out the dry ingredients… IMG_3440 IMG_3439 IMG_3443 IMG_3444 IMG_3447 Mixing them together with some milk and an egg… IMG_3449 Then press into a pan and bake for 30 minutes or so… IMG_3452  Then cut and serve. I was surprised at how ‘light’ these bars turned out. I expected them to have more of a crunch, but they are quite soft and almost cake-like….         IMG_3467                 The dried fruit provides a perfect level of sweetness, while the pepitas and the other grains in the muesli add a bit of crunch. Even Mr BBB enjoyed these! We both agreed that they would be a perfect lunch box snack for kids (and adults!). Well time to hit the shops! Happy baking 🙂

Triathlon Tuesday

Training: Run 7km / Swim 1.1km As most of you know, I have been competing in novice triathlons over the summer. I also have the following races coming up between now and mid March:

  • Novice Triathlon
  • Sprint Triathlon
  • Aquathon
  • Half Marathon
  • Another Sprint Triathlon (maybe)
  • Tough Bloke Challenge (I’ll explain another day).

Someone asked about my training regime, and how I got into triathlons. So here it is… Training… I don’t know about you, but I stay motivated when I have a formal ‘plan’ in place. I am a "checklist-girl" (a gift passed to me by my Mum I suspect), so I like to have a written plan which I try to follow as best as I can. Obviously I need to be flexible too – as sometimes the best laid plans need to be changed at short notice. I will admit, however, that this usually causes some angst. IMG_3194 This is basically my “go to” agenda for training – it is missing some of my scheduled rides and swims however….. When the weather is warm, I try to stay out of the gym as much as possible. You will see very little indoor workouts on my plan during the summer. I am definitely someone that loves exercising outdoors, and I prefer to wait until the cold winter arrives before I venture back into the sweaty busy gym. IMG_27tri2 The one thing that I love about triathlons (albeit small ones for me) are that you never get bored in training. Over the next few months, I am hoping to fit in the following on a weekly basis:

  • Run – 4 to 5 times per week
  • Swim – 3 times per week
  • Rides – 2 times per week

(I intend on increasing my running mileage over the next few months due to the upcoming half marathon. I have never run more than 11km before, so completing a 21km race is very daunting to me right now). Triathlon… 2 Triathlon has been a great way for me to stay active, motivated and happy over the summer months. I love the structure of training, and the friends that I have made. I highly recommend triathlon as a sport for anyone (and I mean anyone) to get involved in. I promise that once you finish that first race, you WILL be addicted. My tips for those wanting to start out in triathlon:

  • Find a local triathlon club. I found one that offered a 6 week novice program which involved coached group sessions for each discipline. It was wonderful having access to knowledgeable coaches who could offer fantastic tips for improving distance and speed. It was also a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, and have some support and company at the races.
  • Find some short ‘enticer’ races to get a feel for the sport. I am still building up my confidence with open water swimming, so the shorter races are perfect for me this season. I am hoping to compete in some longer races next season, but for now, I am sticking to the shorter, speedy races to continue to improve my technique etc.
  • Don’t be intimidated by those people who can swim/bike/run faster than you. Triathlon is an individual sport, just try to challenge yourself. Sure there are people who are faster than me, but with each race I focus on improving – be it feeling more confident in the open water or running that little bit faster.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the fancy bikes you will no doubt see in the transition compound. I did my first few races on my trusty mountain bike and it was no problem at all. Only after I felt comfortable in the sport, and had decided that it was a sport that I wanted to continue with, did I invest in a road bike. And hey, I STILL get bike envy when I see some of the other bikes.
  • Have fun! I am not out there to win the race, but to have a fun race. I love the challenge, but I also love the sense of achievement I feel when I complete each race.

And my number #1 tip – HAVE A GO! As they say – you may regret not working out – but you never regret a workout 🙂 Dinner This evening we had another carb-alicious dinner…spinach pasta with vegetables. I picked up some GF spinach fettucine from the local market last weekend that I was keen to try. IMG_3192 IMG_3198 Served with some basil and garlic sauce, and a simple mix of zucchini, mushrooms and spinach. IMG_3191 IMG_3193 The result….simple yet delicious 🙂 Served with some parmesan…of course….IMG_3202 I was particularly pleased with this GF-pasta. It was not too sticky, like some can be. IMG_3201I think this dish will certainly be making a re-appearance at some point. Happy baking :)      

Birthday bash

Wow. What a weekend!IMG_3098 I can explain my blogging hiatus quite easily….. it was party time! Friday I started Friday with an early morning run. I knew that the weekend was going to be BUSY so I figured an early morning run was the best way to go. I then headed straight out to the markets, where I picked up some amazing fresh produce. IMG_3085 Then played a little fridge tetris trying to fit it all in! IMG_3086 Friday night my Mum and brother arrived, and we celebrated my mum’s birthday with homemade risotto and some cheesecake for dessert. IMG_3089 IMG_3091  I just realised that I forgot to take photos of the finished cheesecake! I think Mum and I were talking too much 🙂 Saturday Saturday was PARTY DAY and in true party form, it was BUSY BUSY BUSY. Mum and I set about making salads to feed 80 people! We decided on:

  • Chickpea tabouli
  • Asian-style Chicken Salad
  • Bean and Rocket with red wine vinigarette
  • Coleslaw made with cottage cheese dressing
  • Basil pesto pasta salad

Our little kitchen was a flurry of energy, vegetables and dishes for the better part of the day. I cannot thank my mum enough for all her help. Every time I turned around she was busy washing dishes and packing them away. Thanks Mum! Around 2pm we loaded up the cars and headed to the venue to set up. Team-work, balloons and final food preparation later, we had the venue all set to party and appetisers awaiting the guests’ arrival. IMG_3099 IMG_3101 Pumpernickel, turkey and brie. IMG_3106 Mixed sushi platter. Dinner was a bbq selection, with sausages, steak and vegetable burgers, coupled with a big range of salads. IMG_3110 IMG_3111 IMG_3112 And a special croquembouche for dessert. IMG_3092 (I cheated and ordered this, but would love to try and make one one day). It was a great evening and I think the birthday boy had a good time! We were so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family attend the party, and I had a great time running around catching up with everyone. The evening flew by, and before we knew it, it was midnight and time to pack up the venue and head home. I fell into bed when we arrived home, and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. It was around 2am by this stage. Sunday I was up and moving by 7am on Sunday. Although I had only had 5 hours sleep, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. Plus I knew there was a little cleaning to be done and I wanted to do it before everyone else woke up. We had a relaxing morning, and had lots of giggles recounting the various party antics and a balloon filled drive home from the venue. Think 20 helium balloons, 5 people and one small car….. Overall it was a fun weekend – filled with great food, great friends and lots of laughs! I was so sad to say goodbye to my family when it was time for them to travel home. It’s back to reality I guess….our house is SO quiet now!! Happy baking 🙂

Happy Australia Day


Today is “Australia Day”, which is the official national day of Australia and celebrated every year on 26 January. The day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia. Australia Day is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, and is marked by the Order of Australia and the Australian of the Year awards. But what does the average Australian do on Australia Day??? Why have a BBQ of course! So that’s exactly what we did! Sporting my best national pride t-shirt of course…..


Today we were invited to our friends’ place for a bbq, where I was tasked with bringing dessert. In the spirit of the day, I chose a (controversially) Australian dish – pavlova.


(Pavlova is named after the Russian ballet dancer –Anna Pavlova- and is believed to have been created to honour her after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Where it was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between Australia and New Zealand for many years, but I say it is Australian – or at least now ingrained into the Australian cuisine.)


I topped the pavlova with cream, and a heap of fresh fruits including strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, apricots and nectarines.

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And added some passionfruit syrup as the finishing touch.




Such an easy dish – but certainly not one that you would have all the time given the high sugar content. We had a wonderful bbq lunch, and were spoiled for choice. Starting with garlic prawns.

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Followed by a full spread of sausages, steak, zucchini, mushrooms, eggs, garlic bread, pineapple, beetroot and salad.

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The full spread laid out.

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I had a little of most things, except the bread and potato bake.


Delicious 🙂 Overall it was a wonderful afternoon, with great food and great company. A perfect Australia Day.


Happy baking 🙂

Snowed in…

[I wrote this on the 1st January but wireless was temperamental so I am only posting it now…. I figured that it would be best to keep things in order….) Japan Day 5 330  Our alarm went off at 4.30am this morning so that we could be at the subway by 6. The platform was quite empty (aside from some well behaved party goers returning home after their new years’ celebrations). Japan Day 5 312 We took the subway to Kyoto city centre, then transferred to the shinkansen (bullet train) for our journey to Nagoya. It was not long before the countryside was covered with snow, a taste of things to come. Japan Day 5 316 Japan Day 5 317 I was, however, glad to hear that coffee was available on the journey! Japan Day 5 314 We were supposed to arrive in Nagoya a little after 8 (to allow us time to make our subsequent connections). Unfortunately the very precise rail network in Japan did not work for us this time, and we arrived at Nagoya over 45 minutes late, and missed our connection. Japan Day 5 319 The lateness of the not so speedy bullet train meant that we had missed our express connection to the ski fields (which only ran once a day), and that we would have to take local trains instead.  Japan Day 5 327 We managed to get on a train from Matsumoto to Shinano-Omachi – which took us about halfway to Hakuba (our ultimate destination). We arrived at a very isolated train station, covered in snow, and found out that there was over an hour wait until the next train! At least we were getting closer…. Japan Day 5 332 We made the most of the time and grabbed some lunch – sushi and soba noodles.  Japan Day 5 334 Japan Day 5 335 Soon it was time to take our last train for the day (we hoped), and we boarded a train bound for Hakuba. Around 1 hour later, we arrived in Hakuba, which was also covered in snow and snowing!! Japan Day 5 338 While we waited for our lift, we warmed up in a nearby café staffed by an Aussie (a theme of this part of our trip I suspect) which looked out over the station area. Japan Day 5 339 Before long we were on our way to our guesthouse, which is located right at the foot of of the ski fields in an area known as “Echoland”. We checked in, grabbed our ski rental gear and organised our lessons for tomorrow. It was now approaching 5pm (we were supposed to arrive by midday!) so we decided to wander into the main street to grab some supplies, do our laundry and have some dinner. This was an ‘interesting’ walk to say the least as it was snowing quite heavily and this girl is certainly not used to snow!!! Japan Day 5 340   Japan Day 5 347 A little colder, but perhaps not a little wiser, we stopped at a nearby “Indonesian inspired” restaurant for dinner, where I ordered the chicken curry and hot soup. Japan Day 5 342 (Excuse the beanie hair… ) They were not joking when they said this would be hot! Mr BBB ordered the ‘tasting platter’ which certainly looked impressive (although he did complain that it was missing the seafood it was supposed to have). Japan Day 5 345 Japan Day 5 344  Our bellies full, our shopping done and our laundry clean and dry, we headed back to the guest house where I promptly fell asleep – weary after our days’ travel. 5 train trips, 9.5 hours travel time, combined with blizzard conditions = 1 long day!! Tomorrow we are hitting the slopes (assuming the weather is ok…..) I can’t wait!

A chilly day in Kyoto

Japan Day 4 308  We awoke to a cold day in Kyoto this morning, with a forecast top of only 5 degrees celcius! We ‘layered’ up and packed extra clothes, then headed out to explore the town of Kyoto. Our first stop was the Nishiki food market, which was packed with eager shoppers looking for a bargain. Japan Day 4 215 I must admit that I didn’t recognise a lot of what I saw, but it sure looked interesting! Japan Day 4 220 Japan Day 4 221 Japan Day 4 226 We then caught a train to the Southern Higashiyama area, which was filled with impressive temples, shrines and gardens. Japan Day 4 235 We pretty much started at the south of the area, and headed north, covering about 6 kilometers on foot. Japan Day 4 237 Japan Day 4 279 Along the way we came across quaint laneways filled with shops and restaurant, and were sure to sample some of the local delicacies. Japan Day 4 268 Japan Day 4 255 Japan Day 4 261 Japan Day 4 263 As the morning progressed, the sun started to disappear behind low lying clouds and the temperature dropped dramatically. I was so glad I had packed some extra layers, and was thankful for my beanie and gloves. Japan Day 4 273 The walking had made me hungry, so we decided to stop for a big bowl of steaming hot soba noodles. Japan Day 4 269 Delicious! These warmed me up (for a while at least), and we continued our walk through the district. Japan Day 4 287 Japan Day 4 291 Our final stop for the day was the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which after the sights we have seen over the last two days, was a little unimpressive. Japan Day 4 295 I was completely frozen by this stage, so we decided to head for the subway to warm up and to catch a train back to the hotel. Japan Day 4 293 Japan Day 4 292 The rest of the evening included a trip out for some sushi, some iced coffee (Japan-style) and an early night! We have to be up early tomorrow to catch a 6am train to the ski fields. Japan Day 4 309 Japan Day 4 307 I hope that you are all having a fantastic new years eve – and are welcoming in the new year in style. Have a glass of champagne for me!! Happy baking 🙂

Crazy deer, temples and sake

Japan Day 3 205 After my morning run, we headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Mr BBB went for the American breakfast, while I stuck with my favourite – oatmeal. It was then time to check out and head to Osaka station, where we caught another train to Kyoto. We dropped off our bags at the hotel, then took a train to Nara – approximately 50 minutes away. It wasn’t long before the view of the city and its buildings was replaced with views of the gorgeous Japanese countryside. Once we arrived, we re-fueled with a little coffee then started to explore the area. Japan Day 3 131 Japan Day 3 132 My belly was starting to rumble at this stage, so I convinced Mr BBB that sushi was again in order for lunch. We stumbled across a sushi ‘train’ and was to excited to try the various kinds of sushi. Japan Day 3 135 Amongst those sampled were tuna, egg, fermented beancurd (disgusting!), salmon etc. Japan Day 3 136 Japan Day 3 138 Japan Day 3 141 Our bellies full, we started the climb through the Nara Koen area. We first came across the Kofuku-ji temple and the ‘Five storey pagoda’. Japan Day 3 153 Followed by the Todaji temple…gorgeous. Japan Day 3 181 The whole park was swarming with deer, over 1200 we were told, which in pre-Buddhist times were considered messengers of the gods. It seems that today they are spoilt by the tourists who can purchase biscuits to feed them. Japan Day 3 156   They are certainly not shy creatures, at least in this park, and were actually quite greedy once they realised that you had biscuits to offer! Japan Day 3 173 Japan Day 3 174 After surviving the deer stampede, we headed further into the park, passing hundreds of gorgeous lanterns. I can only imagine how majestic the area would look if all the lanterns were lit. Japan Day 3 188 Japan Day 3 186 We finished off our adventure with a walk back down the mountain using the paths lined with trees, lanterns and of course, deer! I think we walked over 6km all up, and my legs were certainly feeling tired by the end. Japan Day 3 192 Japan Day 3 198 Japan Day 3 204 Daylight was fading fast, so we caught the train back to Kyoto. We arrived after 7pm and decided to head straight to the shopping district for dinner. After some more walking (coupled with indecision), we finally settled on a quaint yakisoba / okonomiyaki restaurant which turned out to be quite busy. Japan Day 3 225 I ordered a rice filled omelette, with sake on the side, and Mr BBB went for the okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake). Japan Day 3 219 Japan Day 3 218 Both dishes were placed on a hotplate in the middle of the table to finish cooking and to keep warm while we ate our way through them. Both were delicious – and were eaten up quickly. We were starving after our long day of walking!! Japan Day 3 222 I also ordered a sake to drink on the side….not my favourite drink but certainly interesting…. Japan Day 3 216  (Don’t be alarmed by the size of the glass…it was mixed with water for this first timer!!) Dinner was delicious – and we made our way back to the hotel quite tired yet satisfied after the long day. It’s off to bed for me now. Tomorrow we are set to explore the city of Kyoto! Happy baking 🙂

Come run with me

Training: Run 40 mins (6km approx) This morning I practically jumped out of bed when my alarm went off. Well rested, I layered up and headed out for another morning run – this time solo as Mr BBB wanted the extra rest. Japan Day 3 001 It was still a little dark when I started, so I headed along the river. Japan Day 3 004 Then across a bridge and through some of the back streets. Japan Day 3 003 I then headed back to the river, which I followed for the next 25 minutes or so, running under several bridges… Japan Day 3 007 Past some tall buildings… Japan Day 3 008  Near some awesome lamps and structures… Japan Day 3 014 Japan Day 3 015 Japan Day 3 013 By now daylight had broken so I looped back around and finished at our hotel – sweaty yet refreshed. Japan Day 3 017 Now I am off for a quick shower and breakfast, before we head to Kyoto.

Sushi and castles

Japan Day 2 067 After a solid night’s sleep, we rugged up and headed straight out for a 30 minute run in the chilly Osaka air. I felt so refreshed afterwards, and ready to start the day. Japan Day 2 002 Japan Day 2 004 We were running a little behind schedule this morning so we opted for breakfast in the hotel. I chose the reliable oatmeal, and Mr BBB went for the “light breakfast”. Both meals were okay – but a little expensive for what was served. Japan Day 2 008 Our bellies full from breakfast, we set about leaning the Osaka rail system, and soon found ourselves at the main subway station. Japan Day 2 020 After finally finding an ATM that accepted our bank card (which proved quite difficult!?!), we wandered the food halls of the Hanshin Department Store. The store was HUGE and full of interesting foods and treats….a food blogger’s delight! Japan Day 2 014 Japan Day 2 015 Japan Day 2 016 I could have wandered these food halls for hours! I loved that most of the shops had windows through which you could see the chefs and bakers preparing the treats. Japan Day 2 017 Japan Day 2 018 Japan Day 2 019 Our taste buds soon led us to a sushi restaurant – where we chose a variety late each including tuna, salmon, octopus, squid etc. The sushi was delicious – and so so fresh. Japan Day 2 013 I suspect that you will be seeing a lot more of this over the next week! We then caught another train to the Osaka Castle – which was simply gorgeous! While the castle itself was not open, we were able to wander the grounds and admire the huge walls in all their glory. Japan Day 2 027 Japan Day 2 032 Japan Day 2 033 After spending the afternoon at the Castle, we headed back to the hustle and bustle of the city and found ourselves in the Tsutenkaku area – surrounded by pachinko and other game parlours. Japan Day 2 068 Japan Day 2 070 Our bellies started rumbling again by this point, so we headed to Dotonbori, an area filled with shops and restaurants. Japan Day 2 074 We decided on ramen / soba for dinner which were a delicious way to end our big day of walking. Japan Day 2 078 The sun had long since set by this stage, so we headed back to the train station, for our ride home. Japan Day 2 081 Overall, we had a fantastic day in Osaka and are looking forward to our trip to Kyoto and Nara tomorrow. Happy baking 🙂

Konnichi wa

Greetings from Japan! Japan Day 1 031 Mr BBB and I arrived last night – and I only just found the time to blog!! We have been go go go since we arrived – so I’ll break this update into two parts. Day 1 – Australia to Osaka Yesterday morning started at 4.00am, so that we could be at the airport shortly after 5.00am. Our first flight to Brisbane went relatively quickly, and it wasn’t long before we arrived and connected with our Tokyo flight. Japan Day 1 002 Japan Day 1 009 Japan Day 1 010 Japan Day 1 011 Japan Day 1 014 Japan Day 1 012   A few meals, movies and magazines later, we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Given that it is the middle of summer in Australia, I was quite surprised at how cold it was. Once we had cleared customs and immigration, we boarded (another) flight to Osaka – our final destination for the day. 18 hours, 8,563 kilometers, 2 taxis, 3 planes, 2 buses and 1 train later, we arrived at our hotel – the Royal Hotel in Osaka. Japan Day 1 026  We were famished – so headed straight out to grab a quick bite to eat. We found a little tempura restaurant a short walk away – which was perfect for a late dinner. Japan Day 1 022 Japan Day 1 023  We literally fell into bed after dinner, tired from the days travels – and excited to explore the city in the morning. Day 2 recap to follow! Happy baking 🙂