Monday, 30 June 2014

Product Review: Rimmel's Moisture Renew Lipsticks

People are hot on the idea of liquid lipsticks and non-stick stains that you can run a colourless gloss over the top of, but what about a lipstick that looks kinda like a gloss? It's a weird concept -- to me, anyway -- but I actually think that that is what Rimmel has achieved with their Moisture Renew lipsticks.

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipsticks -- front detailing
These lipsticks are one of Rimmel's newest lines to Australia -- I think. I know that they were an existing line in the US and UK that was re-formulated and re-launched in the later part of last year, but as I wasn't really on the makeup scene back then, I'm not sure about where Australia fits in with all of it. These new-and-improved lipsticks claim to make lips feel up to 70% more hydrated and 60% smoother, although I wasn't aware of this when I bought mine -- I just wanted some pink lipsticks to add to my collection!

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipsticks -- top detailing
I bought two of these at Chemist Warehouse a couple of weeks ago as part of a much larger haul (which you can check out here) in "As You Want Victoria" and "Piccadilly Pink". I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't really look at testers -- instead, I picked out what I thought would be a nice bold hot pink and a more natural, girly pink and ran with them. There are an additional 10 shades available in Australia, and more again in the UK and US ("Piccadilly Pink" doesn't seem to be available, but I think it's comparable to "Amethyst Shimmer" in the UK, and somewhere between "Latino" and "Vintage Pink" in the US).

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipsticks -- side detailing
What I absolutely adore about these lipsticks is that they go on like butter! They glide on smoothly over lips and have a really gorgeous glossy effect -- I like to think that they're more of a lipstick version of the Apocalips Lip Lacquer. The opacity for such a soft lipstick is absolutely incredible, and I only really need one coat to get full colour. Due to the butter-like texture, they do make my lips incredibly smooth and I feel them getting softer as time goes on. I don't feel that I need to really worry about dry patches on my lips either, because I don't feel that it sticks to it. Another plus for me was that it didn't feather out or bleed, which I have noticed a little with the Apocalips.

"As You Want Victoria" (left) and "Piccadilly Pink" (right)
But what about the downfalls? A lipstick as moisturising and smoothing as this almost seems too good to be true. It's true, it's not a perfect product. It's so soft that I don't think it would fare very well in hot weather -- there is no way that I would ever leave this in the car! It's super glossy nature means that it might not wear as long as other lipsticks -- usually. I tested out "As You Want Victoria" (a vivid fuchsia pink) over the course of a day at uni -- I applied it at about 9.30 am once I'd finished breakfast. Throughout the day I chatted with friends and performed a spoken test, and at 4pm, when I checked myself in the mirror, I found that it had more or less lasted quite well. It had faded a little, and I did decide to reapply, but there wasn't that awfully stark "ring of colour" around my lips. That being said, I didn't eat or drink during the day, and this would've happened if I had -- personally, however, it doesn't bother me too much, because all lipsticks tend to do that to me anyway. "Piccadilly Pink", which is more of a natural baby pink (on me at least), tends to fade away evenly to more of my natural colour whilst still retaining its soft lipstick feel.

The only thing that I was super conscious of was making sure that I didn't get any lipstick on my teeth -- this will happen if your teeth touch your lips, and I'd chalk it up to the soft formula. It can also smudge if you're careless with application or if you accidentally knock your mouth -- and the bolder colours might be somewhat more difficult to clean up. There's also a faint scent, kind of like a light perfume -- I personally like it, but some people won't.

Wearing "As You Want Victoria"
Wearing "Piccadilly Pink"
Overall, I would say that this is a fantastic drugstore lipstick line to have. My mother bought a couple of the brown shades on my recommendation and she's been really happy with them! I'll probably buy a couple more myself in the future.

Padawan Product Rating: A-

Do you own any of these lipsticks?

Sarah xo

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Easy Madras Lamb Curry

This may have taken about two hours to make, but this is the easiest curry I've ever done. You can easily make a vegetarian version with chickpeas -- possibly even tofu -- but in my case, we had some lamb lying about that we needed to get rid of. You don't need to use lamb -- the original recipe calls for beef -- so it's a versatile recipe that will suit whatever kind of core ingredient you use!

It's really incredibly easy.

First you need to mix ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, black pepper, chilli flakes, minced garlic, ground ginger and lemon juice together in a small bowl. This is your curry paste, and it smells delicious.

Then give your biggest sauce a really, really good glug of olive oil and put your stove on high heat. You don't really need a pot as big as this one, but it has a nice big surface area, so I can cook the meat faster.

Chuck in half of your meat and brown it. Does that look like a lot of oil? It really is. I actually added a good amount more, because my meat started to stick to the pot really quickly. I'm putting this down to a combination of the lack of fat on the lamb itself (I used diced up heart smart lamb steaks -- an odd choice) and perhaps the high heat of the pan. You'll likely use a different cut, so you shouldn't have this problem.

Once it's browned, take out the meat and pop it aside in a bowl...

...then cook the rest of your meat! Yep, that is an awful lot of oil. Not the greatest choice for your health, but, once again, it's due to the cut I used.

When you've finished browning the second batch, turn the heat down to medium, add the first batch back in and then add in your curry paste. I was surprised by how easily it coated the meat!

NOTE: Spices can and will burn in your pot if it is too hot, which will make for a super gross curry. I suggest giving your pot about a minute or so to allow it to lower in heat before you add the curry paste in.

Add in a can of tomato paste...
...then add in a cup of beef stock -- because you can't get powdered lamb stock!
See, this is why you don't really need such a big pot -- it doesn't take up a whole lot of space.

Put your pot on low heat, cover it up and leave it alone for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you get antsy about it burning, you can check on it and give it a stir, but I didn't have any issues with it. Just relax and have a mini dance party -- or catch up on a favourite TV show!

Once the 75 minutes have elapsed, you curry may look something like this. It's okay for it to be watery, it still has some cooking time left and the sauce will need to thicken. Put the lid to the side and let it cook for another 15 minutes.

This is what your curry might look like after that 15 minutes is over. You can see that the sauce has reduced a little bit, but it's not super soupy. By now you should also have the delicious scent of home-made curry permeating throughout your home, tempting all to the table.

You can serve your curry with whatever you like -- I used plain white rice with a very small amount of butter mixed through it. There was plenty of meat to go around for my family -- I'd say it could serve six people, although it may only go as far as four if you want a lot of meat.

The curry was quite tasty -- not something worthy of MasterChef, but quite good and I'd make it again. It's a little spicy because of the chilli flakes, so you can leave it out if you want. The lamb was cooked beautifully; it was very tender (which I love), although I think that the degree of this depends on the kind of meat used and how big it is.

You can check out the original recipe on Sitar, but what I've put below is the adaptation that I used.

Easy Madras Lamb Curry

Serves 4 - 6.


Olive oil
1kg (2.2lbs) diced lamb
170g can tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
Cooked rice, to serve


  1. Combine the coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, chilli flakes, garlic, ginger and lemon juice together well in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add half of the lamb. Cook, stirring for 2 or 3 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Repeat the previous step with a little more oil (if necessary) and the rest of the lamb. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spice paste. Cook it for 1 (one) minute and then return the rest of the lamb to saucepan. Cook it for an additional minute, or until the curry paste has coated all of the meat.
  4. Add the tomato paste and the stock; stir it to mix with the meat. Raise the heat so that you bring it to the boil, then reduce it to low.
  5. Cover and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced or thickened a little.
  7. Serve with rice, or something else of your choosing.
Have you made any curries lately?

Sarah xo

Is this the real life, or have I fallen down a rabbit hole?

I'm so frazzled that I can't remember exactly the path I took to find this out, but it is absolutely incredible news. Almost two weeks ago, the Financial Review published an article about how Sephora in Australia would "disrupt the cosmetics market" (go and check it out here). While Australian Beauty Yodas may know this already, what Sephora plan to do is "matching US prices, rather than local prices, for brands new to the Australian market". This is definitely something to get excited about. Lower prices for cosmetics? Fantastic! Myer and David Jones, watch out!


(There was always going to be a "however".)

Is it possible that this might be a little too good to be true? Everyone in Australia, Sydney especially, has been excited about Sephora opening up because of the availability of makeup from brands such as Urban Decay and Tarte, and the wider range of products from brand like Too Faced and Smashbox. That being said, let me reiterate these words: brands new to the Australian market.

Is Urban Decay new to the Australian market? Not really, I don't think. It will cost you quite a bit more than your American pals, but Urban Decay is available from Beauty Bay and MYQTY -- do these count as part of the Australian market? I can't lie, I don't know the fuzziest thing about economics and finance, but if they do count, I wouldn't expect to see a huge price drop for brands that I really want, if any. I'd almost definitely count out Too Faced and Smashbox, as you can already buy them from Kit Cosmetics or one of their related Mecca stores -- perhaps that's why Myer and David Jones say they're not worried.

I think it's great that Sephora are planning to price match, because this will make some items a lot cheaper -- but I will find myself surprised if I'm able to purchase an UD Naked palette for about $54 instead of $80 - $100.

What are your thoughts on Sephora's plans?

Sarah xo

Product Review: Katy Perry by Eylure Lashes

How cool are false lashes? I have to admit, the idea of gluing something to my eyelid used to terrify as much as mascara and eyeliner did back in my teens, but now I'm all, "Hello, fluttery friends! We meet again!" The lashes I normally use are by Napoleon Perdis -- I deliberately went with high end because I was worried about the glue reacting with my skin, and I thought that this would be less likely to happen with a more expensive product. It went well, etc. etc., and it leads me to this post.

I found these Katy Perry by Eylure lashes in the style "Darling" reduced to clear for $6 at Woolies -- I think they're normally about twice that much, so I decided to give them a go. I'd bought Eylure lashes in the past for my best friend, and as she went well with them, I thought these would work nicely.

Photo from the Eylure website.
The "Darling" lashes alternate between thick and thin lashes with kind of tapered, pointed ends. They add a nice amount of accentuated drama without being over-the-top. They have an adhesive band that generally adheres well, although a little more pressure might need to be applied to the edges to make sure they stick down. They are also comfortable to wear and easy to take off.


The instructions advise you to apply your false lashes before you do your eye makeup. I don't know about Beauty Yodas, but as a Padawan, I find it to not be within my skill set. It's clear to me: shadow, liner, mascara, lashes -- and I thought that was how everybody did it, but apparently not. The first time I used them, I applied them over the top of eye shadow, as I have with my Napoleon lashes, and I ran into a problem.

In typical Padawan style, I accidentally semi-stabbed myself in the eye with my mascara wand. The pain for that is nothing -- and it's never damaged my eye -- but after a few minutes my eye started to water, as a natural way of flushing out the product. I don't know if this was a freak accident or if the glue is water soluble, but the lashes started to come away from my eye! It was very disappointing and I found it very difficult to re-adhere to my lashline, even after my eye had dried. I ended up taking both of them off not long later because they were annoying to wear.

My next problem then occurred when I went to replace the adhesive band. My some stroke of bad luck, one of the strips got stuck to the outside packaging and although I was really gentle, it broke when I tried to pull it off. Yay, no way to wear my lashes! The instructions also weren't entirely clear on how to replace the band -- it says to push the lash into the band and then gently pull it out -- however, it doesn't say whether you're supposed to take the original adhesive band off. I didn't take it off and unfortunately that made this set of lashes easier to see as fake. That being said, it is still comfortable to wear, it lasted all day and you couldn't tell that it looked weird unless you were staring at your eyes up close in the mirror.

I put some lash glue on the other lashes to see how that would go, and it's worn well. At first it seemed to be just slightly irritating, but that disappeared pretty quickly and there weren't any physical reactions.

All in all, I like the product and I think it's generally good for Beauty Padawans who are worried about using lash glue. That being said, I was disappointed by it's apparent lack of uses and I'm not sure I would've been happy paying full price for it. I felt like they gave my eyes a wide doll-eyed look, which was kinda cute -- I could totally see why Katy Perry would go for a style like this -- but as I wasn't happy with how they sat in general, I didn't take any photos of myself wearing them, as can clearly be seen (or not).

Comparable styles: 1000Hour Fashion Lashes -- "Pin Up" ($8.95); 1000Hour Fashion Lashes -- "Wild Damsel" ($8.95);  Kardashian Beauty Faux Lashes -- "Scintillate" ($11.95); NP Set Lashes -- "Auckland" ($12.00); Chi Chi Lashes -- "Power Lashes" (12.95); Kit Cosmetics False Eyelashes -- "Cheeky Wink" ($17.95); Napoleon Perdis Lashes -- "Solandra" ($18.00); Napoleon Perdis Lashes -- "Violet" ($24.00).

Padawan Product Rating: B-

Have you tried these lashes before?

Sarah xo

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What's in my travel makeup bag?

My final exam for the semester was scheduled to start at 9am -- 9am! I don't exactly live closeby, and a 9am exam start means having to get a 6.30am train at the latest. Luckily, I have a friend who does live closeby, and she offered to let me crash at her the night before. Of course, this meant having to sift through my makeup collection to see what I was going to take with me and what I was going to leave behind.

I packed all of my makeup in a shoebox. Yep, you read that right, a shoebox! I've got a couple of makeup cases, but I actually use them to store more makeup than I was planning to bring -- I was also packing everything into a weekender bag, and a shoebox fit the bottom of bag better than a case.

(In case you're wondering, my bag is from Kate Hill and if you adore handbags then I highly recommend you check them out. They can be a little pricey at times, but they are great quality and often have amazing sales on -- plus, they now ship to New Zealand, Singapore, the US and Canada!)

You might take a lot less with you when you're staying overnight somewhere -- personally, I like to be as prepared as possible, and I'd probably take just about as much with me if I were going away for a week.

The night before... 

Colgate Optic White toothpaste + a toothbrush -- You've gotta brush your teeth! I like to try toothpastes that make your teeth whiter -- I don't know if this is the best one I've ever used, but hey, it cleans your teeth. I also have like a cap to put on the top of my toothbrush, which protects the bristles from going all out of whack or being contaminated by anything else.

Mecca Cosmetica Clean Slate Triple Action Makeup Remover -- You obviously need to take your makeup off, and this isn't my favourite face wash of all time but I chose it for two reasons: the first being that it usually gets all my makeup off the first time, and the second being that it washes off really easy. Some scrubs are possibly more effective, but they can take a good while to wash off if they're gel-based. This one is a foam, so it dissolves with the water immediately, so I don't feel so conscious about taking up a lot of time in the bathroom.

On the day... My hair

Batiste Dry Shampoo in "Blush" -- This is a very recent purchase. I've seen heaps of people buy it but I heard about how it sprays white and then you have to brush it out -- I can lie, the idea of it scared me a little bit, and I didn't want to risk spending $10 on something I wasn't going to use. As it happens, I quite like this. Batiste Dry Shampoo does spray white onto your hair, but I just need to ruffle it with my hands and it disappears! The only other dry shampoo I've used was by Tony & Co., which is a much more expensive brand -- in my opinion, Batiste works much better.

Compact Tangle Teezer in "Union Jack" -- Err'body needs a hairbrush! The Tangle Teezer is the best hairbrush I've ever used. I've got two -- a purple one, and this mini one. I've got super thick hair, so when it tangles, it tangles bad -- this detangles my hair easily and without pain. I don't think you can get this with the Union Jack on it anymore, but there is a Shaun the Sheep one!

Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Nutri-Oil Serum -- Definitely not a hair necessity, but it's something I've started playing with recently (even though I've had it for ages!). I put a few pumps into my hands, rub them together and then run it through the ends of my hair. It's been a while since my last haircut, so I have this to kind of help with my dead ends a little bit.


Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer -- This isn't my favourite primer but it's small, so it saves space, and it works really well. I've got more important things to worry about than redness when I'm staying away from home, so it's good to know that I can rely on this as a good base.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation in "NW20" -- I also need a really good foundation that won't melt away while I'm sweating metaphorical bullets before and during the exam, and this one does it for me.

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural Powder in "Medium" -- This pretty much speaks for itself; my foundation needs a good dusting of this to ensure that it stays in place.

MAC Bronzing Powder -- To add some definition to my cheeks.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in "Radiant Magenta" -- This one is my favourite because of it's gorgeous natural colour and sleek packaging. It goes with nearly every look that I do.


Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette -- This is a great palette with some really cute matte and shimmery colours. It's wonderful for everyday as well as night time looks, both neutral and dramatic.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer + Treatment in "Light" -- I know that this is technically for your face, but I feel like I use it in relation to my eyes, so... I don't use it every day, but I'd definitely take it with me everywhere. You never know when you're going to wake up with incredibly dark or red circles  under your eyes!

Maybelline Eye Studio Hyper Glossy Liquid Liner in "Black" -- I'm finding that this makes a nice and easy wing, which is what I've been going for lately.

NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in "Via Veneto" -- You don't necessarily need to bring more than one eyeliner with you when you're travelling, and I don't use this one all the time, but I like it for my waterline.

L'Oreal Paris False Lash Butterfly Wings Mascara -- If you're travelling, you might need to narrow your selection down to only one, and this one is my favourite.


Rimmel London Apocalips Lip Lacquer in "Apocaliptic" -- Maybe I ought to restrict my colour choice down to one lip product, but I found that it wasn't possible! I like using this when I need a gloss that looks like a lipstick.
Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick in "Desert Rose" -- It's a very pretty pink neutral that goes with everything, and it's usually in my handbag.
Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick in "As You Want Victoria" -- This is a really cute lipstick with some incredible colour. I've got a review coming up soon!
MAC Maleficent Pro Longwear Lipglass in "Anthurium" -- I can't even begin to describe this. I am going to save my description for a review that I've got in the works, but all I can say is: thank you, Danielle!


I've got to apologise for these being dirty, I haven't had time to wash them yet!
Real Techniques Stippling Brush -- I use this for my foundation, obviously! It's one of the smaller brushes I have and it's the most reliable one in my small collection.

Mecca Cosmetica Powder Brush -- This is for my setting powder. I've got a couple of other brushes that work just as well, but this gets product on lightly and evenly, whilst blurring my imperfections.

Unfortunately these aren't available, but I'll include some close dupes.
Napoleon Perdis Mascara/Eyeliner Dual-Ended Brush -- I don't have much use for the spoolie end, but I do really like the eyeliner brush with dark powder liners. (Similar brushes: the 2m Mascara Wand and the 5a Precision Angle Sable Brush).

Napoleon Perdis Shader/Contour Dual-Ended Brush -- These are my best (see also: only) eyeshadow brushes, and I quite like them. Lately I've been using the smaller one to pack on shadow. (Similar brushes: g10 Eye Priming Brush and the 10b Flat Shader Sable Brush).

Napoleon Perdis Blending/Concealer Dual-Ended Brush -- I don't really use the concealer end, but I do occasionally use the blender end. It's not my favourite, but it helps in a pinch. (Similar brushes: 10r Sculpting Brush and the g14 Conceal & Correct Brush).

Napoleon Perdis Blush/Powder Dual-Ended Brush -- I use these every day. I use the angled blush side with my Hourglass blush and the straight powder end for my bronzer. (Similar brushes: 15b Angled Contour Brush and the 20b Reflective Contour Brush).

Mecca Cosmetica Domed Eye Blending Brush -- Now this, this is my favourite blending brush. There is no way I could leave my house and not take this brush with me.
Mecca Cosmetica Eye Contour Brush -- I'm still getting the hang of this brush, but I'm having fun with it. I've been using it mainly on my outer corner, although I've been using it slightly more and more with my crease.

Other bits & bobs

Compact mirror -- You can buy these from pretty much any jewellery store. Sometimes they can be a little on the pricier side, but the best kind are the ones with a normal mirror on one side and a decent magnifying mirror on the other.

Lady Jayne Tail Comb -- I adore this for parting my hair. I don't always use it, but enough to have found it to be a general essential.

Lynx Anarchy For Her -- You've gotta have deodorant! This is one I have at the moment, although Rexona and Dove are pretty solid too, so I might go with them when this runs out.
What do you pack with you when you're going away?
Sarah xo

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Jamie Oliver's Mac 'n' Cheese

It's been a few weeks since my last "Wednesday Weekly" post -- and now that uni is finally wrapping up for the semester, I should be able to get back to them regularly! This week I had a shot at Jamie Oliver's mac 'n' cheese with crispy breadcrumbs -- it wasn't something I'd made before, but the recipe was easy and I knew that, if it was anything like other dishes I've made with Jamie's name attached to them, it'd taste great too.

You can literally see the steam coming off this baby.
Nutritionally, it's not exactly the greatest dish in the world -- after all, you've got copious amount of pasta, milk and cheese -- but now that we're well into winter, it's definitely the kind of comfort food you'll want to tuck into on a cold night. My favourite part about this dish is that it has ingredients which you'll probably have in your fridge and pantry, but you're able to switch it around and play with it -- whether you use different cheeses or stick with the cheapest kind in the shop, it'll suit all budgets and give you a super tasty dinner.

The first thing you need to do is melt the butter in a nice big pot. 45g (about 1.5oz) will do the trick.

While the butter is melting, get another pot of water onto the boil. Make sure to salt it good! It causes water to either get to the boil quicker or slower -- I think it's the latter, but I can't remember -- but pasta never takes long to cook, so that might just be a good thing.

Next up is making your roux. "What in the name of furry yellow peaches is a roux?" I hear you ask. I'm sure proper foodies or budding/pro chefs will have a better explanation, but in this case it means you're dumping in three heaped tablespoons -- yes, heaped, not level -- of plain (all-purpose) flour into the melted butter and mixing it together.

Your roux should look like this, only prettier.

And by now, your water should be simmering, at the very least.

This is the point where you throw in ten sliced cloves of garlic -- yes, ten! My dream! -- in with the roux. You're supposed to keep cooking it until it caramelises and goes golden. I personally didn't notice this happen, but that could be my untrained eye. I just cooked it until it was beautifully fragrant.

Woooo, boiling water! It's like the water is having a party!

While your garlic has been caramelising/cooking/doing the cha-cha in the pot, you've thrown your pasta into the boiling water. You are supposed to use macaroni, but we didn't have any so I used penne instead. It's all pasta in the end! Cook the pasta per the instructions -- for me, that usually means waiting for the water to come back to the boil, then turning it off and leaving it for ten minutes before draining. You may have a better way to cook pasta.

Cooked pasta. Delish!

Add this point, you need to add a litre (or 4 cups) of milk to your big pot, a bit at a time. The recipe called for semi-skim (low fat), but I just used regular old skim. Be careful that your pot isn't too hot, because otherwise when you first pour some of the milk in, it'll hiss and bring up a huge cloud of steam -- this might startle you and cause you to spill milk all over your cooktop. Which I totally did not do. The cooktop was dirty from someone else spilling milk all over it. Yes, that's it.

With a whisk -- and hopefully a better one that what I used -- you need to keep whisking together your roux and milk until it gets all nice and smooth. You keep adding more and more milk until there's none left to add.

You need to stir constantly. Once it's smooth, you need to bring it to the boil, then lower the heat so that it simmers.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and chuck it straight into your big pot! Throw in half a dozen bay leaves and give it a really, really good sprinkling of thyme. The recipe does call for fresh thyme -- I just used what I had.

Give it a really good stir. It'll tone your arms.

Add the cheese in now. The recipe calls for 150g of cheddar cheese and 100g of parmesan cheese, but I just used a 250g bag of mixed cheese that was supposed to be good for melting. This is a good point for people to experiment a little bit, particularly if they like their cheeses! Give the pasta a really good stir, until the cheese has melted and you can't see it anymore.

At this stage, you may want to add in a good splash of water if you feel like the sauce isn't runny enough -- it is supposed to be slightly runnier (or "wetter") than normal, because that'll cook out in the oven.

Add some salt and pepper.
Then bung it all into a casserole dish.
You can pick out any bay leaves that are on the top, but otherwise leave your family to their mercy! Make them pick it out themselves!

Throw it in the oven at 220 C/430 F for about half an hour.
Now's the time to make your crispy breadcrumbs. You need three good handfuls of whichever kind your bountiful pantry holds -- I used panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs for something different -- and you need to throw them into a pot. I just washed the pot I cooked the pasta in and used that -- you can use a smaller one if you want, but you'll need to keep in mind that cooking the breadcrumbs will take longer. Of course, if you're no Jamie or Nigella, you might want to stay away from the largest pot in your collection -- in case you end up burning them. Burnt breadcrumbs are ick.
You need to add some thyme in with them: I just kept shaking and stirring until I had an amount that I liked. If you want measurements, try perhaps two teaspoons, then see how it looks.
With the breadcrumbs and the thyme, you'll need a nice splash or three of olive oil. If you're not sure what that really means, it's literally a splash from the bottle. Take it easy if you're worried about adding too much, because you can always add more later. Anyway, crank the heat on your stovetop to about medium and start stirring as your breadcrumbs start to toast.

I find that it can be tricky to sometimes be sure about whether or not your breadcrumbs have crisped up, especially if you're using a kind like panko, which is already crispier than your standard breadcrumbs. Be on the lookout for the breadcrumbs to start turning a golden colour -- it might take a few minutes, but it'll definitely happen. Just be careful to not leave the doubt for too long, otherwise you may burn them.

Your breadcrumbs should look something like this!

Once half an hour has elapsed in the oven and your timer is begging you to take it out, let it sit for a couple of minutes. Some of my pasta clearly got slightly too toasty for comfort, but the dish itself wasn't burnt.

Dish the mac 'n' cheese into bowl with a spoonful of breadcrumbs and voila! dinner is served! My family and I thought it tasted quite good -- I would say more like a slightly cheesy pasta bake than the mac 'n' cheese you can buy packaged (pretty much the only kind you get in Australia), but that will really come down to the cheeses I used. I think I'll want to play around with it some more until I get a rich flavour combo that hits the spot.

I've mentioned this before, but the original recipe belongs to Jamie Oliver, and he has it on his website here. I did change a few key things (such as leaving out tomatoes, because tomatoes are gross), but otherwise I mostly stuck to it. The recipe can also be found in his published book, "Jamie's America".

Disclaimer: I wasn't sponsored in any way to do this recipe -- my life just simply doesn't work that way.

Jamie Oliver's Killer Mac 'n' Cheese

Serves 8 - 10


  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 45g butter
  • 3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 litre semi-skimmed milk
  • 600g dried macaroni
  • 8 tomatoes
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 2 splash Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • 1 grating nutmeg, optional
  • 3 big handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil


  1. Get a large pan of salted water on the boil. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and turn the heat up to medium, stirring all the time, until you get a paste -- this is your roux. Add all the sliced garlic -- don't worry about the amount because each slice will caramelise like toffee in the roux. Keep cooking and stirring until golden and the garlic is nice and sticky.
  2. Add the bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to the boil, then leave it on a low heat to simmer and tick away, stirring occasionally. Preheat your oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
  3. Add the pasta to the pan of boiling salted water and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes on a board and season them well with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the sauce. Give it a good stir and take the pan off the heat.
  4. Stir in your grated cheeses, chopped tomatoes and thyme leaves. A little Worcestershire sauce added now is nice, and so is a little grating or two of nutmeg. Now work on the flavour -- taste it and season it until it's hitting the right spot. You want it to be slightly too wet because it will thicken up again in the oven, so add a splash of water if needed.
  5. If you've made your sauce in an ovenproof casserole-type pan, leave everything in there; if not, transfer it to a deep earthenware dish. Bake it for 30 minutes in the oven, until golden, bubbling, crispy and delicious.
  6. While it's cooking, put your breadcrumbs and thyme into a pan with a few drizzles of olive oil over a medium heat. Stir and toss the crumbs around until crunchy and golden all over. Remove from the heat and tip into a nice bowl. Serve your macaroni cheese in the centre of the table, with your bowl of crispy breadcrumbs for sprinkling over, and a lovely green salad.
Let me know your thoughts on this recipe! Would you try it at home?

Sarah xo