Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!!

It's the last day of October, and I am beginning to detest the fact that as of tomorrow we will be saying "It's Christmas next month!!!" Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas - the preparation, the shopping (as long as its over the internet), the gift wrapping, and preparing and cooking a Christmas meal and anything else festive, but Christmas has really crept up on me far too quickly this year. ahhhhh!!

This weeks Challenge over on Crafting When we can is Halloween/and or Anything but a Card, Secret Crafter is Spooky or Whimsical, My Mum's Craft Shop Challenge is Spooktacular, and Dream Valley Challenges is Anything Goes, so I am entering the card below in all of these.

Our youngest was invited to a Halloween party on Saturday which was perfect as I also made the cupcakes too for the party. The image on this card which is perfect for boys was free from Dustin Pike and the Halloween papers from Shery K Designs. The spider I found on some clipart and the sentiment I made on Acme Labelmaker.

Oh I so enjoyed decorating these cupcakes - the bloodstained eyeballs, the mummies and these piped chocolate spider webs turned out beautifully and I hope the kids enjoyed them too.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

It's soooooo wet today. The rain has been pouring since we got out of bed and hasn't stopped. However this makes it a good day for sorting - much to the kids dismay!!! Bedrooms have been de-cluttered and de-junked!!!

Today I am showcasing some invitations I have started making for a very special couple - my in-laws will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary in December and I am on a mission to make the invitations and get them in the post by the end of tomorrow so they will arrive in St Helena by the end of November (I hope).

Now as any St Helenian will know.....Cheese straws are featured highly at any party, or gathering within a St Helenian community. These fingers of crispy cheesy pastry are addictive....I mean once you start on them......the only point at which you can stop picking at them is when they are all gone. From a bakers point of view.......bake them when you're home alone and have lots of spare will at least have some time to savour your effort.....before they disappear and you're left with nothing but the washing up!!!


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C/300 degrees F/Gas Mark 2

8 oz/225g Mature Cheddar Cheese grated
2 oz/50g butter
4 oz/110g Self Raising flour
1 egg beaten
pinch of salt
cayenne pepper or paprika (amount depends of level of spiciness)
Beaten egg for glazing


Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Stir in the salt and the Cayenne pepper or paprika
Stir in the grated cheese making sure the cheese is distributed in the flour
Add the beaten egg gradually to form a firm dough.
Wrap in Cling-wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer
After 30 minutes roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 cm (half cm) thick. (It may be easier to cut the dough and roll out in small quantities).
Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into straws measuring approximately 10 cm by 1 cm
Arrange the straws on a baking tray with a gap between each. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.
Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool (They will crisp on the tray as it cools). Removing them too soon from the tray will mean chewy cheese straws!!!!

They are sooo time consuming to make......but so worth the effort.

According to my seven year old try makes practice - not practice makes perfect!!!

Yesterdays Baking - Cheesy Monkey Bread (Delicious with Soup)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

It's half term holidays.....which should mean time to craft and time to bake....but it seems my week has already been preplanned with college trips and days out so I am going to have to squeeze in some time to craft and bake!!

A couple of weeks ago I made these little chicken and leek pies with a hint of chilli (got to have chilli) and home made shortcrust pastry. They went down a treat in the house, and they were just as tasty when reheated the next day.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Halloween is just around the corner and the shops are full of orange and black things and appropriately a lot of the challenges around at the moment is focusing on Halloween. Cardmakinmamas, One Stop Craft Challenge and Everybody Art Challenge are all hosting a Halloween challenge at the moment!

This is a real digi card this week - the image, sentiment and papers are all digi and they were free - only the black, orange and white card stock, lace and ribbons are from my stash.

This gorgeous little image is this weeks freebie at Bugaboo Stamps and was brilliant to colour with promarkers and a white gel pen. The "Boo" papers came from Shery K Designs - I recoloured it orange before printing. The patterned paper at the bottom of the card came from The Background Fairy and they are all FREE!!! The sentiment was made on Acme Label Maker!

It was national chocolate week last week - so I was told.....but hey not many people need an excuse to eat chocolate!!! This was the boys weekend treat - a chocolate cake, filled with chocolate Ganache, covered with ganache and lots of maltesers, white and milk chocolate buttons and these brilliant orange flavoured chocolate buttons. To finish it all off a big band of a darker shade of milk chocolate (yes that's what it's called from in Aldi)

Monday, 10 October 2011

The cold weather has come with a vengeance - the wind is reminding us that it is Autumn after all! Winter woollies, and homemade soups are going to be featuring quite highly in our house in the coming weeks, as we try to banish the sniffles and colds!!

This weeks challenge over at The Sugar Bowl is a sketch by Gayle along with a picture of her dream kitchen for colour inspiration. I've had this little Sugar Nellie stamp for ages, (I won her for Sugar Nellies first Birthday) and she was all wrapped up in her packaging lovely and new two years plus..........until now! I've coloured her with promarkers, the Green papers have come free with an addition of Papercraft Essentials Magazine, ribbon, gems and pink cardstocks from my stash. The border has been made with a Fiskars border punch. The sentiment is a clear stamp from Studio G Designs.

I am also entering this card in The Totally Gorjuss Challenge which is Ooh La this little girl just really make you want to say that!!

One Stop Craft Challenge is anything I am entering her there too!!

Microwave Chocolate Pudding

Because I bake, our house is never short of essential baking ingredients so in moments of family desperation.........when they are swinging on the fridge door looking for something of a dessert nature and a yoghurt will not suffice......this can be prepared, and cooked in less than ten minutes and works wonders!!!

Serves 6-8

4 oz self raising flour
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz butter or margarine
2 eggs
8 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons cocoa
up to 4 oz chocolate broken or chopped up roughly - I use what ever I have......chocolate buttons, cooking chocolate, a mix of plain, white and milk chocolate, orange buttons etc


Mix all the ingredients together in an large oven proof container. The pudding will rise to about double size of the uncooked mix.

Place in the microwave and cook on high power for 4-6 minutes. The mixture should be well risen and the middle just a little wet on the top. This will cook through during the cooling period.
Allow to cool in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Remove and serve, either hot, warm or cold with either custard, cream or ice cream.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

I have an excuse for not blogging - the weather has been brilliant, so we have been trying to catch the few hours after work outdoors.......but it's now back to dull afternoons, dark evenings and photos with lots of shadows!!!

Challenge 71 over at Sketch N Stash is a brilliant sketch with an optional extra of three different patterned papers and three embellishments either flowers or buttons - I went for both the options!

The papers are new, they came free with this months addition of Papercraft Essentials Magazine and they are from Wild Rose Studios, The image is the gorgeous Birgitta from C.C. Designs and the sentiments came free from The Beary Scrap. The lace and flowers is from my stash as well as the diamond dust on the heart and cupcake frosting. Oh and I love this chair which was free from Bird's Cards - it was so perfect for Birgitta to sit on and hold all those cupcakes!! I used promarkers for the stripy wallpaper and to ground the chair.

I am also entering this card in the following Challenges:

Cute Card Thursday - Time for Cake
Secret Crafter - Anything Goes as long as it sparkles

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - Made with Cream not Butter (Recipe Below)

Last weekend, myself and our small son did some baking. Oh how he loved baking these, they were quick to make, tasted brilliant and to his amazement we could make a cake that you didn't have to put a big lump of butter or margarine in - oh so fascinating when you're 7!!! When they were cooled we cut out a piece of the cake, popped in a spoon full of Tesco's Finest Lemon Curd, and popped the piece of cake back in, before I piped on some of the meringue (ok he couldn't/wasn't going to do it all), and cooking them in the oven for 2 minutes to give a golden glow to our meringue.

Cupcakes Makes 18

1 cup cream ( I used Elmlea Double Light)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

Lemon Curd (I bought some but I guess you could make your own)


1 egg white
85g caster Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180'C. Line a normal size muffin tin with muffin liners.

2. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until thick and smooth.
3. Divide mixture between prepared liners and bake for 14-20 minutes (mine was cooked in 14 minutes) or until cakes spring back to touch. Cool the cakes on a cooling rack.

4. For meringue, beat egg white until firm peaks form, gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar has dissolved between each addition. Spoon meringue mixture into a piping bag.

5. When the cakes are cool enough to handle, spoon out some of the cake and fill with lemon curd. Place the pieces of cake back and then pipe on a swirl of meringue.

6. Place the cakes back in the muffin tin and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes or until the meringue is golden. (A Blow torch or a couple of minutes under the grill will work too).