Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate & Vanilla Checkerboard Cookies!

For a very very long time I've always wanted to bake checkerboard cookies, because I'm a massive nerd I see them a lot in anime and Japanese drama and always have wanted to try baking them myself, finally I have and I love them, they are quite easy to make and taste a little bit like short bread.

Treat yourself to some and a cup of tea! (I'm going to make them again to add more pictures for the step by step process. But maybe not for a while.


  • 250g of butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/4 cup of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat your oven to your desired temperature. 
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
  3. With your favourite electric mixer or mix master beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl until its pale and creamy. (I suggest using a mix master since it takes a bit and your hand will be sore - this happened to me in the past when I didn't own a mix master - but whatever works!) 
  4. Add the flour and combine. 
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions.
  6. Add cocoa powder to one portion and if your lazy like me you'll get out the dough hook on your mix master to do the kneading for you but you can use your hands. don't over do it cause we don't want them to be too tough. I did it with the dough hook for a little while before using my hands to get it combined. 
  7. Get your rolling pin out and time to make a 20x8cm rectangle, try to make it 2cm thick. (I used mostly my hands since its really easy to spread and stretch but to get the edges nice and smooth and flat into a rectangle shape I used my cake scraper. (You could use anything on hand to make the sharp edges, a plastic ruler would definitely come in handy) After you're done cover in plastic wrap and set to the side so you can still use it as a reference for your next rectangle. 
  8. After you are finished with both and are happy with their shape and are covered in plastic wrap place them in the freezer for 15 minutes or until they are firm, but not frozen. (this is important because you have to cut and then shape them. 
  9. Before you take them out of the freezer whisk your egg. You don't need to use all of the egg so I suggest separating the amount you want to use so you can do something with the leftover egg, but that's just me!
  10. Cut both your rectangles down the middle lengthwise to make 2 squares.
  11. Now time to put them together! Get a brush and apply the egg to one side of the chocolate rectangle then place the vanilla rectangle on top. Combine all sides together with the egg mixture then if you get an odd shape in some areas of your new rectangle you should be able to shape it to your liking. You can soften the edges or make them really sharp. 
  12. Time to cut them into cookies! Get out a sharp knife and cut about 2cm apart, you don't want to make them too thick or too thin. (I made some a bit too thick so trust me on this!) 
  13. Cook for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you don't want to overcook them, you can wait until some are just golden around the edges or try to get them out just before so they are perfect! Wait for them to cool down and harden before enjoying!
I think this is one recipe that some people may have to see pictures of the steps to do it correctly, at least for the first time. So I'll add some more step by step pictures when I next make them!

-Kate xo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Strawberry Scones

Sadly the above is the only picture I took :( It was night time too so it's a bit dark. Sorry about that!

These scones are my new favourite, they were absolutely delicious and are great for summer! I highly suggest everyone try these out!

Strawberry Scones & Cream.


  • 3 cups of self raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of butter at room temperature (60grams) 
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk
  • 250g of strawberries, hulled and diced
  • Your choice of cream 
  1. Preheat the oven. 
  2. line a baking tray with baking paper or grease the tray to your liking and lightly dust with flour. 
  3. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl and rub the butter into the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add milk (don't put the 1/4 milk in, I did and it was too much, keep it on hand and just apply a little here and there if its still too dry, if you add too much don't worry and just add a little more flour.) and half the strawberries (I added a little over a half) and stir gently with a butter knife until everything has combined.  
  5. Move your to a lightly floured surface and gently knead three to four times. Don't over do this or the scones will turn out tough and we want them to be nice and fluffy.
  6. Get out your preferred cookie cutter, I use a medium sized round cutter, my scones were a bit sticky cause i used too much milk, so even though I did this they turned out more like round balls. 
  7. Brush tops lightly with milk. (you can use the 1/4 cup you already have if you didn't use it all!) This will make your scones nice and golden! (I didn't use this step because I forgot, but I think it will be a nice touch!) 
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, but again keep an eye on your oven and when they start to golden get them out! It may take longer or shorter depending on your own oven! 
  9. Serve with your choice of cream and the remaining chopped up strawberries!

A little tip on cream:
What I like to do for scones is whip up my own cream. If you don't have and thickened cream on hand I highly suggest buying some long life cream and keeping it in the pantry and some in the fridge. This way if you ever need cream for meals as well as sweets you have some at hand!

For whipped cream for the best results always use cream after its cooled in the fridge, it turns out much more fluffy and light!

Get your mix master out, pour the life long cream after its been cooled in the fridge into a bowl and add two teaspoons of icing sugar (you can use more if you want) and then whip on high speed until nice and fluffy! Make sure to watch it cause if you over do it you can curdle the cream.

Store the leftover cream in the fridge to use on your leftover scones or for pancakes or something else yummy!

Hope you enjoy!
-Kate xo

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Witch Cupcakes

Vanilla Green Swirl Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing!

I'm so proud of how these cupcakes turned out! Not only do they look great, they tasted pretty good too! It was my first time making a Cream Cheese Icing and I can honestly say that it's my new favourite! I'll probably use it a bit too much.


  • 2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine, softened.
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar.
  • 3 eggs.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
  • 2/3 cup of milk.
  • Green food colouring.
  1. Heat the oven and get your cupcake/muffin tray out and pop some cupcake liners of your choice in the cups! Grease the tray if you wish but I suppose I'm bad and lazy since I never do (if im using cupcake liners I don't anyway.)
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt and set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, get your mix master out (or electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar (about 1/4 cup a time - beat well) Scrape your bowl on occasion if needed. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beat well each time and then beat in the vanilla.
  5. On low speed beat in the flour gradually (about 1/3 a cup a time) and then the milk at about 1/2 a cup at a time.
    Beat until just blended.
  6. Then the fun part, divide into your cupcake patties! Don't worry if it looks messy as about they straighten out nicely (pic below)
  7. What I did then was dip a tooth pick into green food colouring and make swirls like about - i did this twice for each cupcake - honestly was really time consuming and will probably just mix it in the bowl next time!
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they look nice and pretty and a bit gold on the edges (like pic below) and a toot pick inserted comes out clean - Oven times may vary so if you don't know the quirks of your oven watch closely first time around then you will know the perfect time for next time!
This makes a lot of cupcakes, up to 24 for me, but it can vary on how much batter you put in each cupcake, I prefer it this way! 

Cream Cheese Icing


  • 1 Philadelphia Cream Cheese. (If you keep it in the fridge make sure you get it out and get it to room temperature with the butter for the best results! Otherwise it will be lumpy!)
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened to room temperature.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of milk.
  • 4 cups of icing sugar. (I used only 3 though) 
  • Green Food Colouring.
  1.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, vailla and 2 teaspoons of milk with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth, make sure you scrape the edges and the bottom for the cream cheese likes to get stuck!
  2. Gradually beat in the last teaspoon of milk so everything gets nice and smooth, if your icing gets too thick add a little bit more milk at a time until it gets as smooth as you desire. 
  3. Then add 2 to 3 drops of food colouring to get a nice pastel green colour! But you may make it as dark or light as you wish!
You can freeze the leftover icing for up to a month, or keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. but allow the icing to soften before you apply if you do either of these! I always have so much leftover icing because I don't usually like to pack my cupcakes with it, although I found myself doing that with the Cream cheese frosting (picture below) because it was so so nice.

Sadly you can't really see the green swirls, and well this was a leftover cupcake so no witch feet, and packed with icing! Just wanted everyone to see the inside!

I also suggest after each cup of Icing Sugar to taste your icing, it will get sweeter with each cup and personally I liked it tasting more cheesy than sugary - but that's my personal preference!!

If you use this recipe let me know how it went and I would LOVE to see pictures!

-Kate xo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Halloween Dinner Party... on a Budget.

I've always loved Halloween, but in Australia it's not really a big thing... depending what part you live in I suppose!

I'm my old neighborhood when I lived in Sydney the whole neighborhood went all out and it was a blast. But when I moved to a little beach town on the central coast we had doors slammed in our faces and people yelling at us that 'We weren't American' a bit of a blow to little kids but nevertheless it was always fun to dress up and hang out with friends.

I've always wanted to have a halloween party and that hasn't changed even though I'm an adult now. So I wanted to host a Halloween event but alas all my friends were busy with uni so I thought I would just be good and start my diet early and ignore Halloween this year.

But then after moping around for a while I thought 'screw that' and decided to host a little dinner party for me and my mum haha. I didn't really have much else to do and I really really wanted to decorate and bake my witch cupcakes.

I was on a tight budget, since I'm poor and the only Halloween related item I had was the above jack-o-lantern candle I bought for fun a few years ago. So the only thing I bought for my Halloween part this year was the ingredients for the food and some black cardboard and some straws... I had such a blast thinking up things to make.

I'll start by saying that I'm no artist, I suck at drawing... but I like to think I'm creative and with Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, this is what I came up with!

I had a lot of black tissue paper because of numerous orders from the lovely T2Tea here in Australia, so I put it to good use to use as a runner on our dining table (underneath the pumpkin candle) and i made tissue flower balls as you see above.

I also used two jumbo tissues to make the ghosts and drew some eyes on them with permanent markers. Not hard at all and I think they turned out super cute!

I also made a bunch of spiders with the cardboard, once again they aren't anything fancy but came out decent enough to please me! I drew their eyes with a normal lead pencil.

I cut out some ghosts on paper and permanent marker for the eyes once more and put them around the table.

The big bat I also made with cardboard and that was the tricky part for me, since I suck at
drawing... it took me a while, but what I ended up doing was trace one side to my satisfaction then I cut it out, folded it over the uncut side and traced it to get the bat above! Then used a hole puncher to make eyes that i could use to tie it to the fan. (It ended up looking a bit like Zubat from pokemon lol)

I did the same to make a cute bat to stick on our wine glasses. (which came out looking really dirty on this picture, but they are clean from the dishwasher... I swear! >_<)

Luna, my monster dog also dressed up for Halloween... I couldn't resist. While I was a big fan of Sailor Moon when I was younger, okay  still am. Luna wasn't named after Sailor Moon's Luna. I'm just obsessed with the everything to do with stars and moons and always wanted a black dog named Luna haha. But maybe it did originate from Sailor Moon... who knows!

For dinner I cooked up some Monster Meatball Pasta... honestly I suck at making actual food look pretty, unlike baking... but my inspiration and most of the recipe came from here! as you can tell mine is nothing in comparison but still looks creepy! In all honesty I dont really think boiled eggs and asparagus goes well with pasta, but maybe thats just me! (ignore my overcooked pasta and eggs)

You can't see the meatballs, but I made them from scratch and they turned out amazing, usually the cheese in store bought cheesey meatballs always fall out when I cook them, but the ones I made only a few started to leak out when I was done and were amazing! I cut up some mozzarella into squares and popped them in! Might do a future recipe on them another time because they were so good!

I saw this great witch cupcake on pinterest from better homes and gardens which inspired me to make my own version!

My cupcakes are Vanilla with Cream Cheese Icing! (You can find my recipe HERE)

What I did: I bought the straws from eBay and cut them into thirds for the witches stockings and instead of using cardboard or paper to draw boots I used chico lollies! (you could use black jelly babies if you don't have chico lollies - they are basically jelly babies but chocolate flavour) and then cut a tooth pick in half and attached it to the baby and popped it in the straws!

Sadly I didn't have any black cupcake liners, so I used dark green to compensate for the witches dress!

And so that was my Halloween Dinner Party on a budget! I had fun making everything and look forward to doing something better next year!

-Kate xo

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pretty New Toy to Play With!

That's right... I was bad and splurged my meager savings on this beautiful Canon EOS 1100D, it was on sale, and I got two lenses with it so I pretty much jumped at the chance to actually own this beauty!

I haven't really used a Digital or even normal SLR since my photography days at high school, so I'm really excited to get back into everything.

So now this silly blog will be bombarded with a thousand photos of random things... probably mostly food though haha and pictures of Luna, my pesky pet... cause that's how I roll.

In other news, I've been meaning to post a heap of stuff, but I've been out of the count with a migraine for a while so I'm just recovering now! Probably shouldn't stay on the computer for too long but hopefully will have my Halloween dinner party and witch cupcake recipe up soon!

I even made some delicious Strawberry Scones last night since I bought a bunch of beautiful ripe strawberries yesterday. They were so yum!

I can't wait to share those recipes with everyone!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Wherein I get distracted by nerdy delights ~ Nicole Game Review

This is a story about a girl and a game called Nicole. (Winter Wolves get really creative with their names - sorry, but truth!)

My downfall all started when my good friend and fellow otome lover Nim e-mailed me yesterday with a delightful surprise, one of her favourite english otome making companies Winter Wolves released a new game. Being the awesome friend that she is, once discovering that the game had a mystery to solve, she naturally thought of me and my sad sad love affair with the epic Nancy Drew games, except in Nicole alongside solving a mystery you can seduce cute boys!

So of course I was interested.

Just FYI - I kind of hate, yet love you for bringing this game to my attention Nim. :)

I was interested but after playing a few english created otome doozies I wasn't expecting anything great. With nothing else to do I decided to play the free demo... and was hooked.

Here were my first reactions to each guy introduction.

Jeff - ooh hot, five seconds later... wow he is so creepy. He is forever dubbed as Creepy Lab-boy.
Ted - aww, tsun~tsun I like you the most so far, I wanna focus on him!
Kurt - eww what a massive Jerk, I'm playing him last. I dub you Jerkface!
Darren - aww so adorable, I like you but I will play you near the end. Dubbed Megane-chan.

So these were my first reactions. Prepare to be astounded by my wishy washy feelings!

(an example of Kurt's eloquence)
After the demo I e-mailed Nim my reactions about the guys and feelings on who is the culprit that kidnaps girls on the university campus and then releases them a few days later with no memories.

My deduction at the beginning was Jeff because he was the logical assumption since he worked in a lab and experimenting on girls with his creepy personality wouldn't surprise me. (I admit I had a bit of a trauma flash back to fat pigeon creepy doctor experiments: explanation here) But I admitted I hoped it wasn't him because that would be too obvious and boring.

Since I just recently made a really big purchase (which I'll blog about another time) I have limited funds atm and was pretty iffy about buying the game, I knew I would eventually buy it - hot guys and a mystery added together with a decent storyline is a massive weakness of mine. But I was all I'll write a blog post, be productive and do a few other things first.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Literally at the end of my e-mail  with all of the above to Nim I said 'Screw that, I'm buying it now."

I blame it on my compulsion to solve mysteries.

Now let me just quickly talk about costs. If the game was $30 I probably wouldn't have bought it. It would be on my list of things to buy when I actually get a job, then I probably wouldn't buy it anyway - I'm cheap like that. But I buy Nancy Drew games for $20 whenever one comes out so hey buying Nicole for the same price didn't bother me. (Actually $21 AUD)

So I bought the game, started playing and suddenly turned into an idiot who liked all the guys and didn't know who to choose. So naturally I was making them pretty much all like me - except for creepy lab boy - he still creeped me out until a touching moment with Ted and then I fell in love with his creepy diabolical ways - pathetic I know.

I even started to really like Jerkface by the end of the Demo, sure he was a jock with stupid one liners and constantly trying to get into the heroines pants, but he would have these rare moments where you realised that wow he did have a personality and he wasn't as stupid as everyone, especially he himself thought he was.

So after these revelations, and even though I love Ted and his tsundere ways I decided to go with Kurt first, or I wouldn't be able to seduce the other guys with peace of mind.

Yeah I have a thing for tough guy acts or assholes with a soft squishy center.

(my exact feelings for Kurt!)

Tips on Jerkface Kurt - to get his normal ending you need 900 zeal. To get his special ending you need 900 zeal and 900 clues. 

Also you need to give him all his presents. The mp3 arm brace, the football pillow, the earbuds, the underarmor and the school pennant. Why? because its fun to seduce people with material objects!

Of course due to me wanting to seduce all the guys and create my very own harem, I got the alone ending first, where I didn't get 900 clues or 900 zeal. Joy for being all alone! after getting the alone ending a few more times, I got the very bad ending...  all I have to say is, it could have been worse! So after getting that ending a few more times I got 900 zeal and 765 clues and got the normal ending, which although cute, I kind of wanted to throw up a little... but it was a nice little yay moment for heroine Nicole and jerkface Kurt.

Okay so after i got the normal ending twice I gave up and started a new game (I bow down to the skip button) and played until I unlocked the special kurt ending! YAY, finally! I think I was more excited to find out the mystery than anything else and why they did what they did, etc.

I was disappointed.

I still really liked it, and enjoyed the game immensely. I just would have liked a little bit more to the mystery. I wont spoil but I'm hoping for different mysteries or more detail into it with the other guys routes.

(This is the kiss for the normal end, special ending is much more steamy and I'll let you discover that for yourselves ;) )

The special ending while although lacking in the mystery section was really adorable with Kurt and he got to be all manly and save Nicole etc.

I applaud you Winter Wolves, Nicole so far is the best english otome game I have ever played and can't wait to play more of it and your other games.

But as an avid reader, writer and lover of mystery this is what I would have done differently - for Kurt's game anyway.

I would have had a few more interactive scenes with Kurt, just a few little ones near the end - there was a massive gap between the end and the last Kurt scene where you just constantly try to up your zeal and clues. While I understood this reason it just got a little boring.

Instead of us just knowing that the heroine 'found' clues in the stats bar I would maybe have a few scenes where we the player found some clues with the heroine so we get to to try and solve the mystery ourselves also.

Hell maybe after a few of the creepy scenes where Nicole gets those messages have her run into Kurt, so that we get more interactive Kurt action as well as have Nicole happy to see Kurt and feel relieved and 'protected' or even after run ins with Kurt have her doubt him near the end after she gets more clues and wonder why she always ran into him at those moments.... just good for the mystery!

I'm by no means an otome expert, but everyone who loves otome games should definitely check this game out! You can find more information about it here, at least check out the demo!

Next up, Creepy Lab-boy!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An uneventful, evenful day.

The title of this post could be confusing, but that's the best way to describe this certain day I'll be sharing with you.

It was just a plain old boring day in the life of Kate, it was more eventful than some yet compared to the lives of many it would be considered uneventful.

After taking my delightful monster dog Luna for a walk in the morning, mother dearest and I decided to go crazy and go shopping. Fashion lovers may be all a flutter in excitement of what to come, but sorry to disappoint, we went grocery shopping.

Exciting right! No? Well sadly I get really excited to go grocery shopping these days. I attribute this to old age and possibly boredom. But really, I just love picking out different ingredients that I can use to cook up evil concoctions and other crazy things.

First stop was the local little Growers Market in South Kincumber! It's a great little place to buy fresh vegetables grown locally or from around Australia! This is the second time we bought stuff from here, but it's amazing how much longer fresh produce lasts and tastes so so much better! I highly suggest that everyone, no matter what country go out and support their local fruit and veggie stores, you wont regret it!

Then we went and did all out other necessary shopping at this place called Coles. They rejected my job application, so I'm hating on them a bit at the moment... I'm hoping it's because I'm older than the average everyday teens they like to snap up for Christmas fill and the fact that I have no experience in retail... I'll keep telling myself that anyway! ;)

Someone is bound enough to get as desperate as me and hire me eventually... another thing I keep telling myself.

So I discovered something awesome at Coles. Star Wars Kinder Surprises! I bought a three pack, love them (the toys not the chocolate - although the chocolate is great too and I like re-living my childhood memories filled with kinder surprises) and now I really want need to collect them all! Yes sad, but they look great hanging from the end of my new corkboard! :)

As you may notice, I was a bit more excited to get them out of the chocolate over eating it. I'm not going to stop until I get them all... or, or at least R2D2!

And with that this post of an eventful, uneventful day is over. Hope you weren't overly bored!