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Happy New Year! If your new years resolution was to eat clean, then back away from this post. This gnocchi recipe is an indulgent, "I had a big weekend and now I want to sit down and treat myself" kinda dish. Alternatively, its also perfect for a cosy night in. 

Ingredients
500 gm gnocci, cooked as instructed on package
400 gm can of crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup thick cream
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbs minces garlic
1 tbs oil of your choice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Heat oil in a small saucepan, once hot add garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes
2. Add the cream and tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir through cooked gnocci, remove from heat and serve as is or with a helping of shaved Parmesan.



This year as House in Tillford's focus began to include food, the spotlight on fashion dimmed but that doesn't mean my love of fashion did, so let's take a look back at some of the trends in fashion in the past year.

Cropped Tops

Three years ago I thought mid riff revealing tops were tacky, but 2014 showed us how to properly style a cropped top. They can be paired with a flowly, long skirt or shorts for day time wear, or with sleeker skirts for night, as seen below.


source: amremo.com
Coordinates
No such thing as too matching, co ords were huge this year and I was a total fan!


Source: Indian Roots
Full Skirts
Such a lady like trend! Mostly the skirts are midi length, and if it still feels too Victorian you can pair it with a cropped tee.


Source: Lucky Mag
Janties
Jean Panties or any booty bearing shorts. This was a trend I did not like! This was not a lady like trend. At all. I get this was the year of the booty but I don't need to see your butt cleavage when I'm buying my groceries. Or ever, really.  


Its officially Christmas Eve and there is only a week left of the year! I'm sure that many of you, like myself, are wondering where the year went. This year was certainly a whirlwind for me as I finished off 19 years of formal education! I also got back into blogging, introducing food into House in Tillford, opening doors to a whole new blogger community. Its been a fun year of discovering new blogs and yummy recipes, but also trying new restaurants and having fun in the kitchen. So here is a look back at the recipes I shared:

Savoury Recipes

Potato Gratin

Asian Inspired Quinoa Meatballs

Polenta Chips with Rosemary and Parmesan 

Hot Butter Calamari

Baked Eggs with Tomato, Mushrooms, Rocket and Chorizo

Squid Ink Pasta with Mushroom, Lemon, Chilli and Garlic

Rocket, Feta and Mushroom Pizza (with a Yogurt Base)

Chunky Lentil Soup

Sweet Recipes

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Slice

Low GI Quinoa Muffins

Simple Chocolate Cake with a Fancy Finish

Maple Candied Almonds

Apple Tarte Tartin

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Lemon Bliss Cupcakes

Lemon Cream and Curd Stack








'Tis the season to be jolly. 'Tis also the busy season, whether it be running around buying gifts, attending Christmas parties or frantically trying to wrap up work before the shutdown period, people are generally pretty time poor during the end of December. So when our uni group did a last minute Pot Luck Christmas Dinner and I was allocated savoury I knew I wanted to make something that was not only yummy and would look nice on the table, but would also be easy and quick to make, and my potato gratin recipe is just that. Only a few ingredients and little hands on time, this dish is a perfect dinner party addition.



Ingredients

1.2 kg potatoes
600 ml thickened cream
600 ml milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. In a large pot combine the cream, milk, butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. 
2. While the sauce cooks, peel and thinly slice the potatoes.
3. Layer the bottom of a large oven proof dish (I used a 20 x 40 cm dish, that was about 5cm deep) with the sliced potatoes (save the pretties/neatest slices for the top layer), pour enough sauce to thinly cover the layered potatoes. Place another layer of potatoes and then sauce, and so on and so on.
4. Once everything is layered up, cover the dish in foil and place in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Cook for 1.4 hours, then remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes or until the top is golden. If it looks likes there is too much sauce, lower the heat to about 150 and cook for another 10-20 minutes.

Serves 8

p.s If you are making this dish for Hanukkah, you can buy kosher dairy products.
Mary's has been on my "must try" list for a year now, and with the news of its opening in the CBD it returned to the forefront of my radar. Because the CBD store was only a takeaway joint and I wasn't sure if it was just burgers, we opted to go to Newtown branch. A Google search indicated that on Saturdays, Mary's opens at 4pm, so to fill the time between me finishing work that morning and Mary's opening we caught Nightcrawler at the cinema nearby. I didn't really know much about the film going in but I thoroughly enjoyed.

The movie finished a bit for 4pm so we sussed out the locale of Mary's- not the easiest to find in that it just looks like an old, run down building with no obvious signage. We entered with trepidation that it may be the wrong place and had a laugh when we realised not only was it the right place, but it was also open since midday! Damn the Internets for its false information.

We decided to take a seat upstairs and the dark, morbid decor fit with the mood carried on from the film we just watched. It was pretty quiet at the time so would be a cool spot to grab some food and drinks with some friends and hang out.

The menus are written on the wall, not that I needed it as I knew what I wanted- fried chicken and mash potato with their gravy. The pricing was a little on the expensive side, $18 for half a chicken, $14 for the Mary's Burger and $5 for mash and gravy.




Now I hate to say it after I've heard all these amazing reviews and I had anticipated going for so long but the food was kinda average! My chicken although looked delicious, tasted slightly burnt and could do with more seasoning. The mash was good- creamy and smooth and the gravy was nice, but nothing good enough to entice me back. I had a bite of my boyfriend's burger, a yummy, juicy burger but nothing to blow my socks off (and with the pricing I would prefer a burger from BurgerFuel which has more exciting ingredients). At the end of the day, it was a bit like a more expensive and hipster version of KFC.


Mary's on Urbanspoon
As you may have noticed on my blog, I sometimes participate in Reddit's 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge. This week's theme was Canada which peaked my interest because outside of Degrassi Junior High I don't really know much aboot (see what I did there?) Canada, in particular their food. After a Google search it became clear that Canadian food seems to include a lot of naughty treats like Poutine (chips covered in gravy and cheese curd) and Butter Tarts. After browsing all the different dish,  I decided to try making a sweet slice named Nanaimo, not knowing what it would taste like (barely knowing how to pronounce it) I adapted recipes online with ingredients found in my kitchen. And the result? Delish and easy. There was no baking involved and I think its a nice alternative to the regular slices, like caramel slice, that people usually make. Plus you can slice it up, cutely wrap it up in some red cellophane and ta da! A cute, little Christmas gift.



Ingredients
Base
100 grams butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 egg, whisked
100 grams crumbed arrowroot or marie biscuits
1 cup desiccated coconut

Filling
76 grams butter
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup icing sugar

Chocolate Glaze
200 gram chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons butter

Directions
1. Double boil the 100 grams butter
2. Once melted, stir in the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa powder until well combined
3. Whisk in the egg, continue whisking for about 5 minutes so the egg can cook.
4. Remove from the heat and add the biscuit crumbs and coconut. Mix well the press the mixture into a 10 x 20cm greased tray lined with greased baking paper.
5. Set aside while you work on the filing.
6. Using an electric mixer, mix together the peanut butter, butter and icing sugar until well combined.
7. Spread the filling over the base and place in freezer.
8. Double the butter and chocolate, stir until well combined.
9. Allow the chocolate glaze to cool before pouring over the filling. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate for another 30 minutes before slicing it up and enjoying the Canadian deliciousness!







I used to frequent Vogue Cafe during my first year of uni, they did a delicious gnocci rosa which kept bringing me back but then was sadly taken off the menu. The years passed, and I didn't think much of the Cafe, it was never really a super popular spot amongst the uni crowd. But this year, Vogue Cafe returned to my radar when it kept popping up all over Instagram, in particular their fun milkshakes.

Over the weekend I returned to Vogue Cafe with my uni girls and we were shocked to see what Vogue Cafe had become over the years! It had a complete makeover (I understand that during Macquarie Centers re-branding it had shutdown) and had gone from what was an almost stuffy cafe which suited an older crowd to a cute, quirky, garden like cafe. When we got there all the tables were full so a waitress took down our name and number and said she would call us as soon as a table was ready. The perks of a cafe being located in a shopping centre is that you can window shop while you wait, but we had barely entered H&M when we got the call that our table was ready.

Once seated,  I ordered the Nutella milkshake and French toast with berries and yogurt. We were warned that our orders would take at least 20 minutes to arrive, which was fine by us as we weren't starving and were happy to chat.

Nutella Milkshake
The drinks arrived first and we were all in awe at how cool they looked, very instagram worthy! We joked that getting to the milkshake was like going through a lolly obstacle course, a course I wasn't complaining about! I really enjoyed the shake; thick and devilishly chocolate-y. Perfect for someone with a sweet tooth.



When my french toast arrived, I was already nearing full and ordering a sweet meal with such a sweet drink wasn't the best idea. It was served on a rectangle black plate, that reminded me of charcoal, and although it looked cool it wasn't practical as the juice from the berries kept spilling over the sides. And although the french toast was nice, I couldn't even finish half. Most of the girls were the same with their meals.  We all enjoyed our meals but could barely get through them as our drinks had filled us up! So I would recommend if you are going for the drinks, perhaps get a light meal to share. Or have a heartier appetite than us!

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Vogue Cafe. The service was friendly despite being slow, and the menu items created conversation and hashtags.


The Vogue Cafe on Urbanspoon
This visit to Pasticceria Papa or "Papa's" was totally unexpected, I was driving to a meeting in Lilyfield when I passed the store in Five Dock, totally surprised I made a mental note to stop by on my way home to purchase a slice or two of their famous ricotta cheesecake. Upon entering the store (which has ample parking in a lot downstairs), I knew I would be walking out with more than just cheesecake! There was a selection of cookies and pastries to choose from, and a few savoury items too.



I restrained myself from pointing out everything on display and instead purchased two slices of their ricotta cheesecake (at $4 a slice), two large rum baba ($2.80 each), four small chocolate ricotta cannoli ($1.60 each), and one small chocolate bigne ($1.80) for me to eat before the ride home! The service was efficient and friendly, and I loved hearing the orders being repeated to other staff members in Italian. Although, I was a little worried as they were pricing it up as most of the items I selected did not have the prices written but when I saw the total and the break downs, I was pretty pleased- much of those items would be charged at a higher place in other cafes.



As I plugged in my home address into the GPS I devoured the bigne, choux pastry coated in a rich chocolate and filled with a yummy, light chocolate custard. A nice treat to tide me over before I got home to devour the rest.

When I got home, I bit into a cannoli. I'm normally not a fan of cannoli but I thought I'd give them a another chance. They were nice, nicer than ones I had previously. But the sweet tooth in me prefers more sweeter sweet treats.

Later in the evening I cut into the rum baba, delighted to see how fluffy and soaked in flavour it was. The smell of rum was much stronger than the taste, which I preferred. I haven't had one since Italy and it didn't disappoint, would definitely get it again.

And now the the drawcard- the cheesecake.When a dish is so famed you expect it be the best thing you have ever tasted, and while this cheesecake was not that it was pretty nice. The cheesecake is served with a layer of icing sugar and hints of cinnamon which adds a sweetness to the cake. The soft and creamy centre pairs well with the harder, cake like outside.

Overall, I would say Papa's is worth a visit, everything tasted great and high quality but with a reasonable price tag. Even though it is not as famed, my favourite was the rum baba.


Pasticceria Papa on Urbanspoon
I was 18 when I first got Facebook, and over the years I've seen a shift in my news feed from posts and pictures about partying and drinking to those about fitness and exploring nature. And my Facebook activity also reflects this change, as many of my social outings this year have been hikes or bushwalks. Instead of planning clubbing nights (well less often, anyway), my friends and I have begun to plan hikes, and embraced activities where we can get outdoors and feel good. Over the past two years I've done quiet a few different trails, and here is a wrap up on some of the more popular ones:

Bondi to Tamarama Coastal Walk



We kicked off this walk by having brunch at Icebergs Terrace, which has an amazing view of Bondi Beach and reasonable prices. This 1.2km walk consisted of paved surfaces and some stairs, although we did often wonder off the path to climb down closer to the shore for picture opportunities. We found this walk very easy, and in fact, as soon as we reached Tamarama we decided to walk back and go have a swim at Bondi, as we wanted to push ourselves a little plus Tamarama was a much smaller beach . Although it wasn't challenging, the walk did boast some beautiful views of the water and would be a good running trail. We have already planned on doing the full Bondi to Coogee walk next time.

Putty Beach to Gerrin Point Lookout



Another coastal walk, but with much less foot traffic. This walk is part of the Bouddi Coastal Walk in the Central Coast and is another easy one, at 1.2 km. I did this walk the day after I did the Bondi walk, and although I thought the Bondi walk had some beautiful views, the views on this walk were spectacular with dramatic red or naturally tessellated sandstone cliffs, where (if you don't have a fear of heights) can sit on the edge and admire the spanning blue ocean under you. If heights isn't your thing, you can admire the view from a safe distance, and also do a 360 degree to turn to also take in the dense bush behind you. You can cool off after the walk with a refreshing swim back at Putty Beach.

Wentworth Falls


One of the smaller waterfalls


Changing it up from the coastal walks and moving to the Blue Mountains, you can find several trails that lead to stunning waterfalls (you can find the different trails here). I can't remember the exact one we did as I think we just winged it but it was a big day, I believe we were there for about 6-8 hours. I found this walk a bit tough as there were a lot of steep stairs (some were so steep, it was pretty much a ladder!) but I really enjoyed it and you can rest and picnic by the falls as a reward.

Jellybean Pool

Another spot in Blue Mountains and this walk is super short (around 20 minutes) and leads you to a swimming hole (shaped like a jellybean, hence the name). I've included this in my list purely because Jellybean Pool is one of my favourite spots in the mountains, so quiet and peaceful. You can use the pool as a base spot and explore the surrounding bush. A great picnic spot.

Karloo Pools




Another hike that includes a swimming spot, this walk begins at Heathcote Station and is moderately difficult. I would recommend the following itinerary: starting at about 10am and walking the 2 km to Karloo Pools, stopping for a picnic lunch and swim before continuing a further 2.5 kms to Uloola Falls, where you can rest and take in the view of the waterfall amongst the bush before heading back.

All of these walks and hikes are awe inspiring and make you appreciate the natural wonders Australia has to offer, and its a great way to spend the day with your partner, friends or family.

Feel free to share your hiking spots in the comments, always keen to find new trails!

Its 11am and I am in a meeting and my stomach begins growling. Loudly, or at least that's how my embarrassed self perceived it. Being housebound for the previous month, working on my thesis and final uni works, I have been able to graze throughout the day so now my stomach is struggling with going back to set meal times. So, to avoid another embarrassing stomach growling incident, I went home that day and threw together a bunch ingredients that I knew had a low glycemic index, and thus would keep me fuller for longer. Slightly odd mix of ingredients (particularly because I have only used quinoa in savoury dishes in the past) ended up working together, and after consuming two for breakfast (at around 7am) the next day I was full until about 1.30pm - success!



Ingredients

1/6 cup uncooked quinoa
1/3 almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup self rising flour
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Cook quinoa as directed on package
2. Mix together all the ingredients, including cooked quinoa
3. Divide mixture evenly into six muffin cases
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Fahrenheit

Too easy!