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Updated: 2018-01-20T19:15:10.631+01:00

 



Happy Halloween!

2014-10-31T23:26:15.235+01:00

I don't usually do much with Halloween but these sugar-coated vanilla marshmallow ghosties were too hard to resist!

Freshly piped!

Looking good!

Basic recipe is here, just omit the cocoa and hot water.  Fill an icing bag with the mixture and pipe away.



Easy Peasy Apple Cake

2014-05-13T22:25:49.183+01:00

I’m a sucker for sales.  Every time I see a “buy one get one free” sign, before you can even say ‘sucker’, I’m at the till handing over my cash!  I bought 2 large packs of apples a couple of weeks ago.  Yep, you know it, buy one get one free!  While the whole family loves apples, we’re starting to get a bit tired of them.  2 weeks later, there are still a couple of apples turning slightly soft and wrinkly in the fruit bowl!  Perfect for apple cake!  Anyway, I love this recipe which has been adapted from another recipe that a friend passed on to me on a scrap piece of paper.  It’s quick and it only takes 1 bowl…well, 2 if you use another bowl for weighing your ingredients….oh and a measuring cup….and a spoon….ok, there’s still a bit of washing up to do! J  Plus, with all that apple in the cake, it’s ‘almost’ healthy!What I used:3-4 wrinkly apples (it was more like 3.5 apples as 1 apple was mushy on 1 side!)¼ tsp of cinnamon2 tbsps lemon juice115g caster sugar125ml olive oil or vegetable oil (I use olive most of the time)2 eggs1 tsp vanilla150g plain flour1.5 tsp baking powderWhat I did1. Peel (urggh I don't like peeling apples) and chop the apples into little bits.2. Mix diced apples, lemon juice and cinnamon.3. Preheat oven to 160C (fan)/180C.4. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.5. Mix caster sugar and oil with a whisk (I used a hand mixer).6. Add eggs and vanilla.  Whisk again.7. Weigh flour, add baking powder and mix.8. Fold in dry ingredients to the caster sugar, oil and egg mixture.9. Fold in chopped apple.10. Pour into baking tin and bake for about 45 minutes.11. Cool the cake and eat![...]



Stuck in a rut

2014-05-05T22:06:12.204+01:00

Just. Can't. Stop. Making. Marshmallows!


Not that there's anything wrong with that.



Oreo Vanilla Cupcakes

2014-04-06T21:52:53.707+01:00

I have spent most of my life not knowing what an Oreo tasted like.  For some reason they never really appealed to me.  I just thought that they looked like a dry chocolate biscuit with hard cream in the middle.I always remember this TV advertisement years and years ago where this little boy is sitting on his doorstep when his mum brings him some milk and Oreos.  He then separates an Oreo on his doorstep and his dog comes up and licks half of it, which doesn’t bother the little boy as he eats both halves!  Obviously those Oreos are good enough to eat dog spit and all!Anyway, I recently decided to try those Oreos and was pleasantly surprised!  Now I just can’t get enough.  I love the little packets of mini-Oreos, I like the packets of big Oreos, and I love Oreos in cupcakes.  Oreos in cupcakes has to be one of the coolest ideas.  I think I came across it somewhere on the web or on Pinterest.  This is what I did:1. Make a batch of your favourite cupcake batter.  I used this recipe.2. Line the cupcake tin.3. Put 1 scoop of the batter in each liner.4. Pop a large Oreo cookie onto the scoop of batter.5. Top with a 2nd scoop of batter.  Try not to overfill.6. Bake as per recipe.7. Ice/Frost and decorate as you please.8. Eat![...]



Matcha (green tea) chocolate marshmallows

2014-03-22T23:13:20.984+01:00

One healthy recipe here and now we’re back to sugar!  I’m addicted…to making marshmallows.  I find all that whisking quite relaxing and very satisfying for some reason.  I love that moment when the hot syrup hits the meringue and it all fluffs up!  Pure beauty!  Ok – maybe I’m getting a little too excited about hot sugar water!Anyway, back to the marshmallows.  The green tea and chocolate balance out the sugar perfectly so that the sweetness doesn't overwhelm you.  These are my favourite so far!The basic recipe is similar to the one that I’ve used before for this and this.  Here is it again in full (adapted from here).Matcha chocolate marshmallowsWhat I used for the marshmallows:1 cup water (240ml)450g caster sugar16-17g gelatine ¼ cup water (60 ml)2 egg whites1 tsp vanilla4 tbs cocoa and 4 tbs hot water2 tbs matcha green tea and 2 tbs hot waterWhat I used to coat the marshmallows:3 tbsp cornflour3 tbsp icing sugarThe prep work:1. Mix the 3 tablespoonfuls of corn flour and sugar together. 2. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin (removable base tins are advisable).  I lined the tin with ordinary baking paper.  Grease the lining again and generously sprinkle the corn flour-icing sugar mix over the lined cake tin.3. Put the 60ml of water in a bowl sprinkle the gelatine over the water and mix lightly.  The mixture will solidify slightly.  Set aside.4. Boil some water and mix the 4 tablespoons of cocoa and 4 tablespoons of hot water in a bowl.  Set aside.5. Mix 2 tablespoons of matcha tea and 2 tablespoons of hot water in another bowl.  Set aside.6. Place the 2 egg whites in a clean bowl.7. Take out a second bowl and set aside.The real work:1. Over a low heat, place the 240ml water in a pot and add the sugar.  I tend to put the thermometer in at this stage and stir around it until the sugar has dissolved. 2. Turn the heat higher and let the syrup boil (no stirring required) until the temperature of the syrup reaches 122C.  This is known as the hard ball stage.  Another method of checking that the syrup has reached this stage is by taking a teaspoonful of the syrup and dropping it into a bowl of cool water.  The syrup dropped in the bowl should turn into a hard ball.3. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks appear. 4. When the syrup has reached the correct temperature, carefully pour the boiling syrup in a steady stream into the whipped egg whites, while whisking at the same time.As I'm right-handed, I tend to hold the whisk with my left hand while pouring the hot syrup in with my right hand.  Here’s where a stand mixer comes in handy!5. Heat the gelatine mixture in the microwave until it has dissolved.  Add this to the meringue mixture.  Keep beating the egg whites.6. Keep beating until the mixture becomes thick and gloopy.  I think this took at least 10 minutes.  My hand-held mixer (and my arm!) starts to struggle a little at this stage.  The mixture is still slightly pourable, but only just.7. Pour half the meringue mixture into another bowl.  Whisk the vanilla and cocoa mixture into half the meringue mixture.8. Whisk the matcha mixture into the other half of the meringue mixture in the 1stbowl.9. Pour the cocoa meringue mixture back into the matcha mixture.  Lightly swirl the cocoa mixture into the matcha mixture.10. Pour the swirled mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. 11. Generously sprinkle with the corn flour-icing sugar mixture.12. Leave to set overnight or for at least 6 hours.Once the marshmallow mixture has set, here's the part I find tricky.  Cutting it nicely.  I've tried using kitchen scissors with greased blades and also a greased knife.  I still can't decide which one is easier to do.  The greased knife is winning for now![...]



Scrumptious Blueberry Crumble Bars

2014-03-22T23:13:46.284+01:00

I love blueberries in all forms: fresh, frozen, jam, compote, ice-cream, cake, yogurt….blueberry anything and everything.  While our fridge is constantly stocked with fresh blueberries, I almost never use fresh blueberries for cooking.  It just seems like a waste to boil down a load of fresh juicy and Expensive blueberries.  Because of my penchant for blueberry type desserts, I tend to have a ton of frozen blueberries in the freezer.  Just as easy to use and a lot cheaper.  Gotta save those pennies when we can!  I’ve been known to munch my way through a packet of frozen blueberries as well – lovely during summer!So, nothing really new about these bars and there have been a million other versions of blueberry crumble bars posted on the web.  However, I love how easy this recipe is to make..and eat!  It works as a snack and it also works as a hot pudding type dessert!This recipe was adapted from here.What I used for the crumble pastry:190g rolled oats135g plain flour127g whole wheat flour125g caster sugar1 tsp cinnamon175g unsalted butter, slightly softened at room temperature 1/8 tsp salt1 tsp vanilla extract2 tbs cold waterWhat I used for the filling:Roughly 3-4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries125g caster sugarlemon juice from ½ a lemon40g cornflourWhat I did:1. Preheat your oven to 180C.2. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tin.3. Mix the blueberries, caster sugar, lemon juice and corn flour.  4. I used frozen blueberries and didn’t defrost them ahead of time, so I zapped them in the microwave to defrost!  Set this aside.5. Mix the plain and wholewheat flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, sugar, butter and vanilla.  I used my food processor for this.6. Add the water and mix again.7. Spread 2/3 of the crumble mixture in the baking tin and press down with your fingers.8. Spread the prepared blueberry filling over the mixture in the baking tin.9. Pour the remaining crumble mixture over the blueberries and lightly press down.10. Bake for roughly 45 minutes until slightly browned. 11. Allow to cool in the tin. I tend to eat this as a snack but my other half has decided that’s it’s better hot swimming in a pool of custard![...]



Raspberry Chocolate Swirled Marshmallows

2014-02-23T22:32:46.343+01:00


The weekend has flown past and Monday is poking its nasty head around the corner!  I have the Sunday night blues and there only one way to cure it!  Sugar! 

It’s been a month since my last marshmallow adventure hence, time for another one.

I don't like reinventing the wheel so this recipe is pretty much the same as the previous recipe that I used. 

Instead of a vanilla-chocolate combination, I used raspberry and chocolate.

The only extra addition was mixing in ¼ cup (approximately 60ml) of raspberry puree to the vanilla marshmallow mixture after Step 7 in this recipe.

And there you have it, swirls of sweet delight!





Honey (or Maple) Soy Baked Tofu

2014-02-17T22:42:32.629+01:00

Tofu and I never used to get along.When I was a child, tofu was a regular part of meals.  Hot steaming tofu in lovely flavoursome sauces, fried tofu, tofu in spring rolls, tofu in claypots, tofu in curries, you get the picture.  I never really liked tofu.  To eat it, I had to dip it, drown it and drench it in a pool of sauce.  All I could hear was my mum saying “eat, eat, it’s so nice, so good for you”.  I just didn’t like tofu.  To me, it just tasted like water, water with a touch of metal.  Then I grew up…sort of.Now I love tofu.  I just can’t get enough of it.  The problem now is that my bad tofu karma has come to bite me on my behind.  My children can’t face tofu.  They just don’t like it.In my desperate attempts to raise a tofu-loving family, I have been trying lots of different ways of cooking tofu.  A friend gave me this great recipe for baked tofu which I am completely addicted to!  A quick and simple marinade, pop it in the oven and voila.  Done.Only 1 problem, my children still don’t like it. Oh well, at least I love it!What I used:1 packet of firm tofu (the packet I used was marked 396g – strange weight huh?)2 tbs soy sauce1 tbs maple syrup (or honey)1 tbs olive or vegetable oilA couple of cloves of garlic (optional) (I’ve also tried ginger which also works well.)What I did:1. Mince the garlic and mix with all the liquid ingredients.2. Cut the tofu into pieces.3. Soak the tofu in the marinade for at least half an hour.  4. Turn the tofu pieces over and marinade for another half an hour.  I’ve been known to leave the tofu in the marinade overnight because I’ve forgotten about it, but I find that it makes it quite salty.5. Preheat the oven to 200C.6. Line a baking tray with baking paper or foil.  Grease the baking paper (yes, I do actually do this!) or foil.7. Place the tofu pieces on the tray.  Drip some of the leftover marinade onto the tofu and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  8. Turn the pieces over and bake for another 20-25 minutes.  (I tend to be a bit lazy and just leave it in the oven for 45 minutes without turning over.  I find that it still comes out ok.)9. The baked tofu becomes slightly chewy and quite dark in colour.  I love the chewiness!10. Enjoy and try (unsuccessfully in my case) to get your children to eat it! [...]



Little bit of sunshine

2014-02-08T22:51:46.954+01:00

Where did January go?  It happens every year.  All of a sudden, it’s February!  The days are getting longer and summer is on its way.  Well, perhaps, that’s a little bit optimistic but we’re definitely getting more daylight hours!I was feeling a little summery and hence wanted a taste of the tropics!  Coconut and mango!  England is a long way from the tropics, hence it was canned and dried coconut, and frozen mango!I adapted my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe from Sweetapolita and added a little extra coconut filling to the batter.  Topped them with mango buttercream and voila, good to go!  A little burst of sunshine in my mouth!What I used for the Coconut Cupcakes (makes roughly 12):(adapted from here and here)125ml coconut milk2 egg whites1 egg20g cornflour155g plain flourPinch of salt150g sugar10g baking powder85g butter180C/160C 20 minutesWhat I used for the filling:1.5 cups of shredded coconut½ cup of condensed milkWhat I used for the Mango Buttercream:Mango buttercream190g butter260g icing sugar1.5 tbs milk62.5ml mango puree (¼ cup)Optional:Chopped hazelnuts or other nutsWhat I did for the cupcakes:1. First of all, mix the shredded coconut and condensed milk for the filling.  Set aside.2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan oven).3. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.4. The recipe I adapted the cupcakes from is based on what I call the “topsy-turvy” method, where the butter is whisked into the dry ingredients first, before mixing with the wet ingredients.  Super easy however, old habits are hard to break so I tend to stick to the usual “cream butter and sugar first” method.5. Hence, cream the butter and sugar.6. Add the egg whites and egg to the creamed butter and sugar.  Mix well.7. Add the coconut milk to the mixture.  Mix well again.8. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt).9. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter with a wooden spoon.10. Spoon into the cupcake tins/liners.11. Drop a heaped teaspoonful of the filling into the batter for each cupcake.  Push the filling into the batter so it doesn’t stick out too much.  The bits that stick out may get a bit brown but I quite like the caramelised coconutty bits.12. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.13. Leave in tin for 10 minutes then take the cupcakes out and let them cool.What I did for the buttercream:1. Stick the butter, icing sugar and milk into a bowl.  Beat, beat and beat again until light and fluffy.  2. Add the mango puree and beat beat beat.Putting it together:1. Once the cupcakes are cool, ice the cupcakes with the buttercream.  Voila, done! :-)[...]



Fluffy clouds of chocolate and vanilla aka. Home-made marshmallows

2014-01-26T22:27:04.255+01:00

It’s not an addiction…really…but sometimes, I just feel like sugar. Sugar, sugar and more sugar. I know it’s bad but I just can’t stop myself. For times like these, there are home-made marshmallows, marshmallows that are so sweet that they make your teeth squeak!I came across this recipe a while ago and had been saving it for a special sugar craving day. I added some cocoa which brought the sweetness down a notch.Keep in mind that I’ve never actually eaten or attempted to make home-made marshmallows before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  However, they came out as I expected: like a soft super sweet melt-in-your-mouth cloud of chocolate and vanilla.   Don’t be put off by the long list of instructions.  There’s just a little bit of preparation, a lot of whisking and you’ll be rewarded with soft fluffy marshmallows.Before you begin, some handy tools for making marshmallows:1. An electric mixer.  Some recipes say that electric hand-held mixer won’t do the job and that you need a stand mixer.  However, my hand-held mixer coped with it quite well.  2. The only downside about using a hand-held mixer is having to pour the boiling syrup into the egg whites while whisking at the same time, without causing serious injury to yourself.3. A candy thermometer.  The sugar mixture needs to hit the ‘hard-ball’ stage (approx. 122C) and having a thermometer makes it easier to keep an eye on things.4. A pair of scissors for cutting the finished marshmallows.  I used a butter knife and ended up with straggy edges. Fluffy chocolate-vanilla marshmallowsAdapted from here.What I used for the marshmallows:1 cup water (240ml)450g caster sugar16-17g gelatine (that’s all I had in the kitchen but luckily it worked out ok)¼ cup water (60 ml)2 egg whites2 tsp vanilla4 tbs cocoa 4 tbs hot waterWhat I used to coat the marshmallows:3 tbsp cornflour 3 tbsp icing sugarThe prep work:1. Mix the 3 tablespoonfuls of corn flour and sugar together. 2. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin (removable base tins are advisable).  I lined the tin with ordinary baking paper.  Grease the lining again and generously sprinkle the corn flour-icing sugar mix over the lined cake tin.3. Put the 60ml of water in a bowl sprinkle the gelatine over the water and mix lightly.  The mixture will solidify slightly.  Set aside.4. Boil some water and mix the 4 tablespoons of cocoa and 4 tablespoons of hot water in a bowl.  Set aside.5. Place the 2 egg whites in a clean bowl.6. Take out a second bowl and set aside.The real work:1. Over a low heat, place the 240ml water in a pot and add the sugar.  I tend to put the thermometer in at this stage and stir around it until the sugar has dissolved. 2. Turn the heat higher and let the syrup boil (no stirring required) until the temperature of the syrup reaches 122C.  This is known as the hard ball stage.  Another method of checking that the syrup has reached this stage is by taking a teaspoonful of the syrup and dropping it into a bowl of cool water.  The syrup dropped in the bowl should turn into a hard ball.3. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks appear. 4. When the syrup has reached the correct temperature, carefully pour the boiling syrup in a steady stream into the whipped egg whites, while whisking at the same time.As I’m right-handed, I tend to hold the whisk with my left hand while pouring the hot syrup in with my right hand.  Here’s where a stand mixer comes in handy!5. Once the syrup has been incorporated, add the vanilla.  Keep beating the egg whites.6. Heat the gelatine mixture in the microwave until it has dissolved.  Add this to the meringue mixture.  Keep b[...]



Egg-free Banana Muffins

2014-01-18T23:30:24.253+01:00

Trying to eat healthily is just not in my nature.  By “healthily”, I just mean cutting down on sugary snacks (biscuits and CHOCOLATE!).  I manage to last about 3 to 4 days at the most without something sweet.  However, by the sugarless 4th day, every hair follicle on my body is screaming out for sugar!So, I decided to make some semi-healthy low-sugar banana muffins…with chocolate chips and a sugary crumble topping!  I suppose they’re not that low in sugar as there’s extra sugar in the crumble topping (I’m not counting the chocolate – it was dark chocolate!).  Well, the ‘good intentions’ were there anyway.These muffins are not the prettiest, but they were very moist with a delicious crunch from the crumble topping.  They managed to satisfy my sugar cravings…for a day. Also, as no eggs were harmed in their making, the muffins are also good for people with egg-allergies!  This recipe was also handy in using up the extra apple sauce that I had as well as the mushy bananas on my counter. Egg-free banana muffins (makes roughly 12)Adapted from here.What I used for the muffins:200g plain flour 1tsp baking soda1tsp baking powderA pinch of salt3-4 ripe bananas1 tsp vanilla120g brown sugar125ml cup apple sauce15 ml veg oil ½ cup of dark chocolate chipsWhat I used for the chocolate crumble topping:120g plain flour50g butter80g brown sugar2 tbs water (30ml)50g chopped nuts (optional)18g cocoa (2.5 tbs)What I did for the crumble:1. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, sugar and cocoa). (I used a hand-held mixer)2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a slow setting on the stove.3. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix lightly with a spoon so that you end up with lots of largish clumps and lumps of crumble. 4. Sprinkle the water over the ingredients and mix to help create more lumps.5. Add the chopped nuts to the crumble mix and mix lightly with a spoon.  Set the mixture aside.What I did for the muffins:1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan oven).2. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl with a whisk.  I use a hand-held mixer for all my whisking.4. Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, apple sauce and oil in another bowl with an electric mixer or hand-held mixer.5. Mash the bananas well with a fork and add to the wet ingredients.  Mix with your usual mixer tool.6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined.7. Fold the chocolate chips into the batter with a spoon or spatula.8. Divide the batter into the 12 cupcake liners and spoon the crumble mixture on top of each one.9. Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out cleanly.  This takes roughly 20-25 minutes.10. Leave the muffins to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then cool on a rack.Enjoy!ps.Eat quickly!  I find that storing them in a plastic airtight container tends to soften the crunchy crumble due to the moisture from the muffins.[...]



Ferrero Rocher Topped Nutella Cupcakes

2014-01-10T22:57:47.789+01:00

After weeks of indulging over the Christmas festivities, the 12 days were up and I decided to wipe out all traces of the jolly season by eating all the biscuits and chocolates that we had been given. (Well, you can’t start a new year with new resolutions while all these temptations are lying around) Trust me, this was no easy task but I managed it by nibbling slowly through the shortbread and the giant box of Celebrations…and then discovered that we had 2 left-over boxes of Ferrero Rochers. Shock horror! Instead of inhaling these mini golden balls at one go, I decided that the chocolate might go better with even more chocolate and sugar to top it off! Thanks to Pinterest, voila Ferrero Rocher cupcakes….well, more like Ferrero Rochers on cupcakes. What I used for the cupcakes: 1. My favourite vanilla cupcake recipe from Sweetapolita's super-duper vanilla cupcakes minus the sprinkles. (Fluffy and moist, these cupcakes are indeed super-duper.) 2. 12 tsps of Nutella What I used for the icing: Sweetapolita's Nutella Cloud Frosting What I did: 1. Make up a batch of your favourite vanilla cupcake batter and divide batter into the cupcake pan. 2. Swirl a teaspoon full of Nutella in each cupcake. In hindsight, this didn’t swirl easily so I just dropped it in. It would have perhaps been easier to fill the cupcake after baking. 3. Bake! 4. Let the cupcakes cool and ice with Nutella cloud icing. 5. Top with a Fererro Rocher chocolate. 6. Eat about 3 and a half in 1 hour! [...]



Busy

2013-12-31T23:21:25.800+01:00

It's been a while, but I've been busy.

Really really busy.



Hope you're all well!






Popcorn

2013-12-31T17:23:51.406+01:00


How does it happen? 

How does time past by me so quickly? One minute it’s 2012 and the next, it’s not! I wish I could say that I’ve been doing lots of productive activities, climbing high peaks, achieving lifetime goals, but no, nothing like that. 


I feel a little like my 4 year old daughter who started “big” school last September. Big school is a constant flurry of activities. The children spend about half an hour for each activity before moving on to another one. 

When I pick her up from school and ask her what she did during the day, her first reaction is to say ‘nothing’. All those fun activities just blend into 1 long day, and the only thing that comes to her mind is ‘nothing’. 


And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Nothing. 


Well nothing, that is, apart from snacking! This is my current obsession: home-popped corn (as opposed to store bought already popped corn covered with preservatives and who-knows-what-else?). 


It’s really the simplest snack. Buy a packet of popping corn. Heat a teeny bit of oil in a saucepan, add the popping corn, put the saucepan cover on (very important!) and wait. You have at least 10 minutes of toddler entertainment just watching the saucepan!


We tend to eat it plain and unseasoned but season as you please.



The 7hr saga of a pig (dodgy photo alert!)

2013-12-31T23:23:59.378+01:00

It wasn’t just any pig, it was Peppa Pig!  If you have a toddler and live in the UK, it is very likely that you have been acquainted with Peppa Pig.  An adorable little pig who likes jumping in muddy puddles (all the time to some very annoying music in the background).  Daughter no. 1 was obsessed with Peppa Pig when she was about 2 years old.  Daughter no. 2, slightly obsessed but not to the same level luckily.  Our house is filled with Peppa paraphernalia and various bits of Peppa plastic.Needless to say, when it was No. 2’s 2nd birthday, she wanted a Peppa Pig cake! Now, my attempt at a Peppa Pig cake for no. 1 looked like this. Not great.  I so wasn’t impressed with it that I only took about 2 photos of the cake. I was determined to get it right this time around.  Absolutely determined. Step 1:Find the perfect vanilla cake recipe.  I tested several recipes (to the point where my colleagues started getting a little tired of eating vanilla cake) and once again, Sweetapolita delivered the perfect recipe.  Very vanilla-y, light and moist.  ‘Moist’ being the important part as I find that vanilla cakes can sometimes be on the dry side.I made 1 20cm square cake and 1 18 cm round cake from the recipe. Time taken: 2 hours.Step 2: Fondant (ie. Sugar paste).  I used this recipe again.  I love it and always end up nibbling on too much sugar when I make it.I made the base recipe and left it overnight to settle while my hands and arms recovered from the kneading.  The next night, I divided the large hunk of fondant into 6 (unequal) parts, coloured the parts into 6 main colours: pink (for the face, ears, arms and legs), dark pink (cheeks and outline for the face and ears), red (dress), dark red (mouth and outline for the dress), white (eyes) and black (eyes and shoes).Time taken: 2 hoursStep 3:More sugar.  Vanilla buttercream.  Once again, my favourite site Sweetapolitadidn’t let me down.  I used this recipe.  I love making icing.  When I’m stressed, I make icing.  All that whipping of the butter and the sugar just de-stresses me.Time taken: 0.5 hoursStep 4:The fun part: putting it all together.  This took the most time but this is where I had the most fun.  I levelled the cakes with a bread knife so they were the same height – more or less.Then armed with yet another knife, I carved out Peppa’s dress from the square cake, used the round cake as the head and used the offcuts from the square cake for the ears and nose.The bits of cake were held together by the vanilla buttercream. Peppa was then covered all over with buttercream and the fondant was draped over it.  By this time I was starting to OD a little on Peppa.  But once the fondant was on, I could see the end of the tunnel – though it did look like there was a lot of fog around!Next were the details, eyes, nose, cheeks, outlines, arms and legs.  Phew.Time taken: 2.5 hrsIt’s not perfect but it’s an improvement on my last Peppa!7 hours of butter and sugar = 1 Peppa Pig cake = 1 super happy 2 year old!Definitely worth it.Ps.Now I know why decorated cakes are so expensive to buy. [...]



Don't buy these

2013-12-31T23:42:44.294+01:00

One of my least favourite things in my kitchen at the moment are these white cupcake cases that I picked up at the local supermarket.  They’re horrible.  First of all they’re tiny.  I don’t know how they can call themselves ‘cupcake cases’ – they’re more like ‘thimbles’.  Look how tiny they are in my cupcake tray!  Tiny.  I put just over 1 tablespoonful of batter in each liner and that practically filled them up.   They also seem to separate from the actual cupcake after baking.  Not pretty.  I'm pretty sure it’s not my cupcake as I've made them in other cases with no problems.  So my conclusion is that these liners just seem to separate.  Perhaps they’re too waxy?  Who knows.I know, the world’s not going to stop turning because I bought some dud cupcake cases, but I have 100 of them!  What am I supposed to do with them?Well, I could just make lots of chocolate cupcakes (not a bad thing), but then I would have to eat them all myself.  Not good for my ‘diet’.  Or I could just let my daughter make her ‘cupcakes’!On another note, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to everyone.  Enjoy the mooncakes![...]



Sandrolls

2013-12-31T23:41:44.143+01:00

My children strongly dislike sandwiches.  I would almost say that they are borderline bread haters.  No. 1 will eat a sandwich only if there’s really nothing else available.  No. 2 will refuse sandwiches even though there is absolutely nothing else.  Bread is just not a popular meal in my house.Apart from coating both sides of the bread with pure sugar, I’ve tried everything I can think of to get them to eat sandwiches or just bread in general.  I’ve tried coating the bread in egg then frying it ie. French toast.  No luck.  I’ve tried bread and butter pudding.  No luck.  Seriously.Anyway, life would be so much easier if they would eat sandwiches.  We could have simple cheese or tuna sandwiches, chicken and sweet corn sandwiches and even a more gourmet feta cheese, roast pepper and spinach sandwich.  I could whip up a no-cook dinner in 5 minutes instead of slaving over a hot stove (or microwave!).So in a desperate attempt to disguise the sandwiches, I presented them in a different form, what I call ‘sandrolls’!  I came across this idea somewhere on the internet, can’t remember where though.  The photos looked better on the internet, much more spirally!  Perhaps I needed a filling with a stronger contracting colour?  I used 2 fillings: a grated cheddar cheese, cream cheese and pineapple filling and a tuna roast pepper and garlic mayonnaise filling. Grated cheddar cheese filling:Grate a chunk of cheddar cheese; mix with spoonfuls of cream cheese and mashed/grated pineapple.  No measurements, I just added to my taste. Tuna filling:Mix a tin of canned tuna, grated garlic, mayonnaise and roast pepper (chopped finely).  Putting the rolls together: 1.       Cut the crusts off the slices of bread. 2.       Spread the filling on the bread length-wise.  Leave about 0.5 cm of space at the end of the bread. 3.       Roll roll roll. 4.       Cut the roll into 2 or 3 sections and you’re done. After all that grating and mixing, did my children eat the “sandrolls”?  Nope. They’re not that easily fooled.Bugger. [...]



Spark of vanilla

2013-12-31T23:43:43.729+01:00

Coming back from holidays is hard.  Summer holidays are especially hard.  On this side of the world, the days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting cooler and I’m starting to think about having to sew those name tags on the uniforms for school – not for me, for my big little monster who’s starting school this year.  It’s all kind of depressing really.Then, a dim spark of hope lies in the form of VANILLA CAKE!  Okay, maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic but I love VANILLA CAKE!  I especially love VANILLA CAKE with SWISS MERINGUE ICING.  Sorry I’ll stop shouting now.Sweetapolitais my go-to blog for vanilla cake recipes.  For this cake I used this recipe, which is what I would call a topsy-turvy method of making a cake.  I’m used to creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs and then any other liquid and finally gently mixing in the dry ingredients.  This method calls for mixing the butter with the dry ingredients and then mixing the wet ingredients in.  It seemed almost easier than the standard creaming method with amazing results.  Amazing (had to say it twice).  And the icing, oh the icing.  Not an overly sweet, slightly gritty buttercream but a light and smooth swiss meringue buttercream.  It takes a little longer to put together but the results are absolutely lovely.  It seems so light that you forget that it’s almost pure butter!And the resulting cake?  Moist, light, a mouthful of vanilla-ey sunshine.  Definitely something to make the shorter days a little longer JNotes for the cake: I replaced the cake flour by putting 2 tablespoonfuls of cornflour into a cup and then filling it up with ordinary plain flour.  I also only used a pinch of salt instead of the ¾ teaspoon of salt.Notes for the icing: I halved the quantities in the recipe and still had some leftover.  This was my first time making swiss buttercream and I was a bit vary of using raw egg whites hence I used pasteurised egg white powder instead of fresh egg whites.  The buttercream still came together quite well.5 giant yums for this recipe J [...]



Warm belly

2013-12-31T23:44:47.442+01:00


2 weeks in Brittany and I didn’t take a single photo of any form of food or food products!
However I did take a photo of this.  

Enough to warm any belly, and the heart above it.



Holidays and more sugar

2013-12-31T23:46:01.675+01:00


I don’t like packing.  I especially don’t like packing toiletries.  There’s just something annoying about having to either decant shampoo and other liquidy items into smaller containers only to find that everything leaks through the 2 plastic bags that I put it in when we get to our destination.

Anyway, complaining aside, we’re off on holiday!  It’s the usual mad rush so I leave you with a pretty picture of more sugar! Have a nice weekend everyone!





Delightful vanilla-raspberry cupcakes

2013-12-31T23:47:03.438+01:00

Sometimes I just want sugar.  Any form.  Any colour.  When there’s nothing in the cupboards, I absolutely just have to bake something.  Anything.  Anytime.  I’ve been known to make cakes at midnight…and eat them an hour later.  Sad I know.One of my favourite vanilla cupcake recipes based on the vanilla fairy cake recipe from the Peyton and Bryne British Baking book.  It’s an easy and quick recipe which produces a light and relatively moist crumb.I also threw in the squishy raspberries  from the back of the fridge that no one wanted to eat.This is what I used:100g softened unsalted butter175g home-made vanilla sugar2 medium eggs150 self-raising flour2 tsps vanilla extract (I like a strong vanilla hit)60ml natural yogurtRoughly 150g of squishy raspberries12-hole cupcake tray lined with 12 cupcake casesWhat I did: 1. Line cupcake tray with cupcake cases 2. Preheat the oven to 170C 3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy using an electric appliance if you still want to have some feeling left in your arm after this 4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar and mix well 5. Add the vanilla extract and yogurt to the batter and mix well (lots of mixing going on…) 6. Fold the flour into the batter 7. Drop 1 to 2 raspberries into each hole in the cupcake tray. 8. Fill each cupcake case two-thirds full 9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out relatively clean.  A few crumbs might cling to it but it should be fine. 10. Dust with icing sugar or decorate as you please The cupcakes smelt beautiful while cooking and came out a little sunken due to the moisture in the raspberries – so I hid them under a mountain of …raspberries!Heaven.  Anyone else with a sugar addiction? [...]



Big day

2012-06-24T21:33:38.062+01:00

Friday was a big day for my daughter me. My 4-year old had an introduction to her new school, class and teacher. Her first taste of big school before her official start in September!While she happily waved bye and headed into the classroom without even looking behind, I have to say that those strings tugged hard at my heart. No, I didn’t have to pull out the tissues…because I’m strong! And I had just eaten a big bar of chocolate an hour before and so was riding the happy sugar rush.But it wasn’t so long ago that she looked like this:4 years later, she looks like this:So I headed home and pulled out the biggest bottle of vodka (not very big) that I could find…to make some vanilla extract.After coming across a few blog posts on how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract, I decided to make my own. It sounded easy enough. All I needed were vanilla pods and alcohol – I used vodka as that was all I had in the house. That and wine. I didn’t think that red wine would be very suitable…though now that I think about it, red wine and vanilla – yum!Anyway, I scraped the vanilla pods, put the pods and seeds in an empty bottle (which I‘sterilised’ first by putting It in the dishwasher), then filled the bottle up. A bit of shaking and that was it.Ingredients:Roughly 5 vanilla pods (I probably didn’t need that many but was a bit overenthusiastic)About 250-300ml ml vodkaThis is what it looked like on Friday. By today (2 days later), the colour of the liquid had changed significantly.All it needs now is a little patience and at least 6 weeks for it to magically transform into liquid gold![...]



Gourmet snacking

2013-12-31T23:48:23.399+01:00


I know, the title might be a little bit misleading! This might not be your idea of a gourmet snack but after a week of healthy eating, meaning no chocolate or sugary snacks, this simple sandwich hit the spot.

It’s amazing how a thick slice of cheddar cheese smothered in strawberry jam can be so satisfying. YUM!

Ps. If you think the slice of bread looks a little odd that’s because it’s the last slice, the edge of the loaf that everyone seems to not want to eat so it’s always up to me (and the ducks at the local park).



Quick chicken patties

2013-12-31T23:48:42.513+01:00

Inspired by Food For Tots' chicken and apple balls, I attempted to make a chicken-based meal for my girls.  I really don’t enjoy cooking meat but I try to make sure that I make at least 2 chicken meals a week, and of course, other forms of fleshy protein such as fish appear more regularly on the menu. I’m not a big fan of meat and have never been a big fan of meat.  Most of my family call me vegetarian but I probably wouldn’t call myself one.  I’ll quite happily eat any life form that swims or comes from the sea but as soon as it starts to walk on land, I just can’t bring myself to swallow it.  I have tried very hard however to not impose this meat-free diet on my children.  I really struggle with the preparation stage.  I just don't like that cold soft ‘namby’ (sorry, no other words to describe it) feel that raw meat has.  I know, raw meat feels pretty much the same as raw fish…but I just don’t have that ‘internal gag factor’ when it comes to fish – who knows why? Anyway, I saw Food For Tots' chicken and apple balls and loved how they looked.  I didn’t have any apples in the house and I was a bit lazy when it came to making the balls (haha!), so I just made squashed chicken patties.  Didn’t have all the proper ingredients so this is what I ended up using. Ingredients: 450g (roughly) chicken thigh fillets½ tsp turmeric1 tsp cumin1 tbsp coriander1/8 tsp cinnamon1 tbsp sugar2 tbsp breadcrumbs2 tbsp wholemeal flourNo salt (I avoid adding salt to our meals) Method:1. Roughly cut your chicken fillets into cubes and pop into food processor (if you’re like me and really lazy, I challenged my Magimix and put the fillets straight in.  The mince came out fine). Push the button and mince mince mince. 2. Add all other ingredients in and push that button again. 3. Put contents of food processor into a big bowl and give it another quick mix with a fork. 4. Shape to your liking.  Little patties for me. 5. Lightly pan fry (or perhaps bake for a healthier option – I pan fried).  This is probably the most time-consuming part. 6. Eat!  Well, I didn’t but my girls did. I served this with plain pasta with a dab of butter and sliced cucumber (my ‘I can’t be bothered’ vegetable).[...]



Salad-eating child

2013-12-31T23:48:59.674+01:00


I have a salad-eating toddler.  A raw-salad-eating toddler.  Very weird.  I have to gloat because who knows how long this will last before she starts asking for chocolate...MY chocolate!