Category Archives: Kitchen

My Mission – Minnie Mouse Cake Pops – Birthday Gift

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Not as easy as they look!

Cute and tasty!

I made it my mission to make some Minnie mouse cake pops. However, I didn’t anticipate this to be as frustrating as it was. With the overall waiting for the cake to cook, fair enough, but there was soooo much waiting for things to cool, set or cook. I was getting rather tired of doing them.

I followed instructions from another website that sounded like they had it in the bag. I started out with 20 cake pops. After lots of hassle with them staying on the stick I went through several techniques in coating these little babies in chocolate. I knew I couldn’t just dunk and pull it out all fresh-as-you-like. Cause the weight of the chocolate would rip the cake ball apart and stay put in your nice bowl of melted chocolate.

In the end the best technique I found was to use a heat proof silicone pastry brush and slowly coat the balls supporting the ball underneath with your hand so it didn’t shift down the stick. Place on its head on grease proof paper and don’t move it until it’s set. You won’t need to refrigerate for it to set. Plus it attracts condensation if you do.

Once I had a thin layer on and it had set and could be peeled from the paper. I was able to coat allot easier due to the chocolate acting like glue and it (mostly) stayed put. Your next layer of chocolate should include placing the ears on. I used chocolate buttons. Don’t bother trimming the side off like some websites tell you. This only inhibits the attaching part, which frankly is quite important! =D Push the ears in after the second coat of chocolate, as this will soften the previous layer just enough to help with that. Otherwise they just break up! These are then to be stood up on their sticks to set, a block of Styrofoam is useful here. A useful tip I did pick up is to make use of a cocktail stick. Just to pick define areas like the ears and to move the chocolate and to remove any excess. I coated mine until I was happy with them. Or at least, not so disappointed!

You only need to make them around 1 inch diameter at first, as the chocolate layers bulk them out. I was worried I wouldn’t get them inside the cellophane bags I had that were 3.5″x5″ I bought from Ebay. I chose 4.5″ lolly sticks or the plastic variety, if they don’t come with, you will need some plastic coated wires too to seal them. On my travels around my local town of Cannock, I picked up some lovely ribbon the I thought was just right, at 20p a meter I wasn’t complaining!

I just cut the ribbon a few inches long and tied once tightly. You could, with thinner ribbon tie a bow. But at this point in the baking and making process, I was ready to give up altogether. In the end, I managed to salvage 11 decent looking Minnie silhouettes. They didn’t taste bad at all either. My 2.5yr old son was happy to eat any disaster pops. Although to be fair they were very rich, so don’t worry if you don’t make a lot. I probably wouldn’t eat more than one at a time.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Overall, I’m happy I gave it a go, but I won’t be in a hurry to try this again. Maybe plain round ones with decoration on top to disguise the dodgy coating of chocolate. Let me know if you have tried this and how it worked out.

Fondant cake design – jewellery box

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You can’t argue with cake

Jewellery Box Cake

I can’t let a birthday pass without having a bit of cake! I really treasure my Aunt so I thought I’d try something I hadn’t done before and just go with it. She loves a vintage look and feel, so I tried to get that feel. It didn’t turn out as I imagined, or aimed for as I’m not an overly experienced cake decorator. But I was happy with the end result non-the-less. But needless to say, it went down a treat, as it was filled with high quality chocolate butter cream with a vanilla sponge.

To get a box and lid look, you need to use two cake boards. As my cake was 6″ in diameter the ‘lid’ needed to have a matching size of 6″. The one that holds the whole cake should be at least 1″ bigger than the cake so it’s easy to carry. ‘Glue’ the cake to the base with a touch of frosting and cover it all in your fondant base, board and all so it’s hidden.

Pre mix your colours and wash your hands really well as that dye gets everywhere if you’re not careful! You can use a pair of latex gloves if you have some. Let your coloured fondant cool back down as it will stick to your roller if it’s too warm. But don’t let it dry out, cover it with a cup or wrap it in foil. Don’t try to refrigerate it to be quick as this will only make your fondant go horrible! Just be patient, it doesn’t take long to go back to temperature on a cool surface like a chopping board.

I use gel food colouring to dye my fondant. I have only ever used supermarket fondant as I find it perfectly fine to use and it tastes good as well. To get the paisley look I used my round pastry cutters with the fluted edge usually used for mince pies and tarts. I dotted holes around the edge of the shapes to give it some detail and brushed it with gold shimmer dust.

To get a satin inlay inside the box just roll out a sheet of coloured fondant. I folded mine inside to get a luxury feel of fabric, dust with a white shimmer to give it luster. Of course, to make it look like a jewellery box, you need jewellery draping out of the box. I used some strung pearls that you can buy per meter, you only need one meter. I also used some nice sheer ribbon too. Get them to stay put by putting the cut ends between layers of fondant.

Click to enlarge

A tip I like to share when trying to transport your tasty treats, especially ones you’ve worked so hard on! When you only have a container that is just about big enough. Use a triple folded piece of baking paper underneath as pictured – that will go above the sides of your cake to retrieve your cake once inside the tin. Or else you’ll never get it out in one piece!

Happy baking everyone!

Quick and Easy Chilled Pasta Salad with Bacon – Recipe

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Pasta Salad Recipe

Tasty!

Ok, so I needed a recipe for cold pasta salad that wasn’t too …fussy. I did search google for recipes, cause I wasn’t too confident with flavours at the time. But came up with nothing that really appealed and fit what I needed; which was to satisfy many different taste buds for a BBQ. So here’s what I threw together. Simple flavours, but big on taste! Leave a comment if you try this. I’d love to know what you think.

Serves 8-10 buffet portions

Ingredients
400g Dry weight Cavatappi (spirals)
8 Heaped Tablespoons of Light Mayonnaise (using regular dinner spoon not measuring type) Approx 600g
340g Drained Salad Crisp Green Giant™ Sweet corn (large can)
5 Large Spring Onions
12 Rashers of Streaky (or any that you prefer) Bacon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Large pinch of Paprika

Directions
Cook pasta and bacon in your usual, preferred way. Pasta should not be overcooked. Drain pasta and let sit to cool in the drainer, washing with cool water to help speed up the process. Let bacon cool on a plate.

Roughly chop the onion and place in a large mixing bowl along with the sweetcorn. Add cold pasta and mayo and lightly mix together, being careful not to break up the pasta shapes. Sprinkle on most of paprika.

Using scissors or a knife if you prefer, cut the bacon into slithers over the pasta mix. Stir to incorporate the bacon, add more mayo with you feel you need it. Place pasta salad into a container with a lid and finish off with a sprinkling of paprika all over. Cover and store in a fridge.

Best eaten 3+ hours after making, to give the mayonnaise a chance to absorb the flavours otherwise it can taste really eggy.

You could substitute the bacon for ham or chicken. Spring onion can be subbed with chives too. When including any meat, please make sure it has cooled thoroughly before you mix into your pasta mix.

Cake recipe – Best used with fondant icing

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Yummy cake mix

Ingredients
225g Softened Butter
225g Caster Sugar
4 Medium Eggs
2 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
170g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda (Baking Soda)

Directions
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Line your cake tin with butter and place a sheet of baking paper on the bottom. This recipe is enough for a round 9″ pan.

~Using an electric mixer combine butter and sugar until light and pale. Add eggs one at a time, mix well between eggs. Stir in vanilla and set aside.

Into a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder and soda together. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture in several batches adding milk in-between batches. Mix only until you can’t see any flour.

Set out into cake pan and bake for around 35-40mins or until springy to touch. Set out onto cooling rack before decorating. Don’t cut the cake until the it has cooled or you’ll loose alot of moisture.

Never open the door to the oven until at most ten minutes before recommended baking time or your cake may sink.

This recipe was used in baking this Mickey Mouse cake.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme Birthday Cake – How to

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Mickey is number one!

Mickey Cake

For my son’s first birthday (last year) I baked him a Mickey Mouse theme cake. I used 9″ and 6″ cake tins to do this 2 tier cake.

I baked the cake base using this recipe or you could choose your own. You only need 1 and half times the recipe. One for the bottom and half is for the top. I halved my tiers and layered butter cream in the centre. You wouldn’t need to do this. But you will need to make a batch of butter cream to ‘stick’ the fondant to the cake.

To get the top cake, not to sink into the other cake while it’s on top, cause that just wouldn’t be pretty! Use 3 or 4 cut down straws or wooden skewers to the height of the fondant layer. Rest your cake on its own 6″ base or if using a different size tins it should measure the same as your cake so you can’t see it. It will be easier to remove it after for cutting that way. The bottom layer should probably have one at least an inch larger base than the bottom layer cake.

Ok, so you’ve baked your cake and let it cool, added butter cream to the outside and you’ve rolled out the fondant and placed it neatly over the top. Once it’s all smooth and square with the cake, you’ll want to start decorating. I only used supermarket fondant that is fairly cheap, but tasty. With the white you can also dye it any colour you like using gel colours. For mine I’m sure I used Ruby Red, Violet, and Christmas green and licorice black. Of course with any dying process you will have to add a bit at a time to get the colour you want.

The best technique I’ve found for blending the colour the best is by making a well in the white fondant ball and using a cocktail stick to control how much I put in. Place in a small amount and close the well up so the dye is inside. This will help stop the majority of the dye getting straight all over your hands. Cause it doesn’t come off your hands easily. Now roll, just using your hands, the ball into a sausage shape. You want it to be long enough to turn back on itself. Now just rinse and repeat until it is all blended. This method will help stop it sticking all on your hands too. If you add too much dye, try adding icing sugar powder to soak up the extra moisture. Now let the coloured icing sit aside and cool down. You could now dye another batch and so on. Once you have all the colours you want, return to the first colour as it should have cooled enough. Don’t leave it a long time or it will start to dry out. If you plan to use it later that day you can wrap it in cling film to stop it from drying up.

I used letter fondant cutter for his name. The Mickey heads were about 1.5″ in diameter. If you don’t have a tiny cutter for his ears (assuming you don’t just have a mickey mouse cutter) you can roll a small piece into a ball and press into shape straight onto the cake. You may want to test your sizing before going straight to the cake and make all your ear balls before applying them so they are uniform in size.

A way to get your fondant shapes to stick is to use an edible glue or make your own by using good spoon full of icing sugar and add drops of water until a glue consistency. Remember though, it takes more sugar to water to fix it if you put too much water in. So do it gradually.

You can finish of (or hide any messy edges) by using ribbon around the bottom of each layer. Hold in place with a tiny piece of clear tape or like I did using butter cream as a glue.

You should end up with an awesome, but more importantly, handmade cake! Enjoy giving and eating together! Hope you found this guide useful. Let me know if you try this! I love to share others photos too. Post a comment to contact me.

Planting first seeds this year for veg plot

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First of my seeds planted

27 April

I’m super-excited to say I planted my first few seeds to start my raised bed with. Hopefully my hubby will build my raised bed this weekend or before. I just can’t wait to get started. I still need to buy quite a few supplies to help along the way.

My lovely Aunt gave me a head start by supplying me with seeds and pots, and even some books to read! Isn’t she lovely?! I think I somehow agreed to crochet a scarf for her tho in return. lol. I don’t mind tho =] She gave me Sweet peppers, chilli peppers, tomatoes in different varieties and runner beans to plant now. The romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce and mixed salad leave will have to wait as they need to be planted where they are to be cropped. Thanks Aunty!

Anyways, back to planting. As you can tell by the picture, I have used recycled grape and tomato containers to create a makeshift propagator. I put several seeds in each pot. I shall pull out any that are really weedy looking. I just hope that it’s right! I only placed one seed of the bigger runner beans. I used an egg box for these, as I want to try planting straight into the ground in the box. Anyone else tried this?

Now placed in a really sunny spot on my kitchen shelf. They should do really well before I re-home them in my garden. I shall be using mostly reclaimed building materials to make my raised bed. My only fear is that it’s too shaded in my back garden and I’ll get zip veggies! I get early morning and late evening sun. Any advice would be great!?

Crochet – Coaster / Cover for alfresco dinning – Quick project

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Stash Buster Project

Beaded Coaster or Cover

So, I was given a free book of crochet patterns. It was from the May 2010 ‘Let’s Knit’ Issue. I hadn’t picked up a crochet hook for a long time. Since I struggled to complete a blanket for my unborn son at the time. But as this seemed quite quick, I referred to my ‘how to’ book of crocheting and finished it in a flash! These would make excellent stocking fillers. You could easily convert them to look Christmas-ee. Sorry I mentioned the ‘C’ word already. But hey, you gotta be prepared. So many crafting options, so little time.

The beads I used were glass, but I should have used more or chosen a heavier bead so that they would weigh it down to bring out the shape better. You could, of course, use any colour combination. I just used what I had, and I just happened to only have white in 4 ply. The suggest you can use ribbon, but you could use any yarn you like. Just choose an appropriate hook and if your yarn or yarn substitute  is much thicker then make reduce the amount of rounds you make.

If you missed this issue and would like to get this pattern. It can be found in the book ‘Two Balls or Less’ by Jenny Hill. It’s RRP is about £12.99 and has over 30 simple crochet and knitting projects.

As an added note, the hook used is 3.5mm.

Easy Craft Project – Felt Egg Cosy Cactus Fun for Kids

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Quick Cactus Egg Cosy

Egg Cosy

If you would like to try this project here are the directions to make one cosy.

What you’ll need
2.5″ x 9″ Green Felt
Scraps of Coloured Felt for the Flower
Selection of Embroidery Thread in Beige and another coloured thread.
45 Silver Lined Sead Beads or whatever colour you would like
Felting Needle will help with the hand sewing, they are pyramid-shaped.
Templates Below


Directions
Cut out 3 arches that measure 3″ in width and 2.5″ in height. These templates should print out to size. Read the rest of this entry

Give Your Green Parties a Vintage Vibe with This Sweet Serving Tray : Planet Green

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Vintage heaven

Super idea for a recycling project. Why not raid your Nan’s kitchen cupboard for supplies for this cake stand?

Give Your Green Parties a Vintage Vibe with This Sweet Serving Tray : Planet Green

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Home Baked Gift Ideas. Printable Free Butterscotch and Gingersnaps Cookie Recipe

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Gingersnap and Butterscotch Cookie Recipe Gift Box

Yum!

This is a super cool way of giving home-made cookies as a gift. You can recycle containers or gift boxes you have received. If you have the budget you could use a mixing bowl as your ‘basket’ and line with tissue paper. See below for more ideas for your ‘basket’.

To pad out a very deep bowl or basket you can roll tissue paper into flattened balls and stick them with very small pieces of double sided tape just to anchor them. Cover with shredded tissue or a raffia and layer your cookies on top.

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