Friday, 6 January 2017

Birthday Cake

Hello again!  Yes, I know, two posts in one day!  Crazy!

So, today was my daughter's birthday party, and you know what that means - cakes!  Now, if you have followed me for a while, you will probably recall that I seem to have a tendency to have birthday cake disasters.  This time is no different!  Though, I did manage to make them look alright in the end.

Now, my daughter chose cupcakes that looked like ice cream sundaes.  I realised that the candle we had bought was too large for a cupcake, so had to make both cupcakes and a large cake.  No big deal, right?  

So, this is what happened:
First of all, I made the cupcakes.  Just normal chocolate cupcakes, from a recipe that I've used several times.  When I spooned the mix into the cases, I realised that they wouldn't rise high enough for what I needed, so in my infinite wisdom, I decided to add a marshmallow into the centre of each one.


The problem with this, as I quickly remembered after I'd put them in the oven, is that when you heat marshmallows, they expand and then deflate, creating a crater.


Ok, so that was a bit of a fail, but I soon remedied it by placing another marshmallow on top before icing.


To make these look like ice cream sundaes, I melted white chocolate buttons, and slowly poured a dollop over the top, smoothing it around to make it look like ice cream.

Once that had set, I then melted some dark chocolate buttons, and placed a blob in the centre of each cupcake, allowing it to run a little.  I added sprinkles and an M&M to the top.
I think they turned out pretty cute, don't you?

Cuteness aside though, there may have been a tad too much chocolate, because they were a touch hard to bite through!  Oh well, I know for next time!

As for the cake.  I had high hopes for this.  I had picked a silicone cake mould in the shape of a rose, because it had the right shape to make the top of the sundae.  It also, however, had a lot of ridges in the pan, which apparently did not want to let go of said cake.  This is what it looked like:

I know what you're thinking - delicious!  Right?  Lol
As you can probably tell, it's a red velvet cake, so instead of white chocolate, I made a cream cheese icing - just because it would be wrong not to.

For anyone who hasn't made this before, you use around 1/4C cream cheese, 1/4C softened butter and around 1C icing sugar - I also like to add some lemon essence or lemon zest.

I had forgotten to buy another piping bag, so I did the old trick of cutting a corner out of a bag and using that.  I got about 3/4 of the way through before the nozzle came squeezing out and I had to rejig my bag to a different corner.  By this stage I had quite a lot of icing on my hands.
Once I managed to get that finished, I again melted some dark chocolate and poured on top - take my advice, don't do it as thick as I did - not the easiest to cut!
Before the chocolate sets, add sprinkles and M&M's or whatever you are using to decorate.  I also took this moment to stick the candle in - also probably not my best idea as it became stuck in the chocolate.  I know, I'm such a pro!
Anyways, I think it turned out alright in the end:

Anywho, I hope you've enjoyed my little ramblings, and perhaps I've inspired you to try and make your own ice cream sundae cakes :)
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and Happy Cooking!

Pulled Pork

Hello my lovelies!

Anyone who is on my FB page will have seen that I was making jam and pulled pork the other day, so I thought I'd jump on here and share my recipe with y'all :)

This is the first time I have attempted pulled pork, so I did some research and took bits from several recipes to combine them into my own one!  Let me tell you, the house smelled divine!  
I used my slow cooker, so it was hassle free, and by the end of the day, the meat just fell apart.  I didn't use a bone in roast, but a pork belly, so the fat fell off and the meat was perfect.

Here's what I did:

Heat a pan to medium high and sear the edges of the roast.  (From what I've seen, a lot of people use a shoulder roast, but I really loved the belly - it looked like it might not have a lot of meat on it, but believe me, there was plenty.)

Place meat in slow cooker on low.

Using the same pan, add a diced onion and a clove of garlic, crushed with a splash of Olive Oil.
Add 
1/4 C cider vinegar
1/4 C tomato sauce
1/4 C shiraz or any other red wine you have handy
1 Tbsp cranberry jelly
1/2 C water
1/3 C brown sugar
1tsp chinese five spice
salt and pepper to season

Simmer for five minutes before pouring over the meat in the slow cooker.
Cook for around 8 hours, turning occasionally.

When ready to serve, use tongs to pull it out - I needed to use two sets to get a hold on it - and place on a chopping board.  Using forks, start to pull the meat apart.

I then added it back into the cooker to coat in the sauce before serving.


We just had this in some buns with some new potatoes on the side.  It was delicious!  Definitely a make again :)

I'm off to prepare for my daughter's birthday party!  Have a fantastic weekend and Happy Cooking!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Christmas Cake!

Hey hey!  I hope you've had a fantastic weekend!  Mine has been super busy, but a lot of fun :)

Today, I have something a little different for you.  I made some Christmas cakes for presents this week and I attempted some fancy decorations on top, so I thought I would share these with you.
A few weeks ago there was a Christmas evening held in town, and there was a lady demonstrating some techniques for cake toppings.  This is what hers looked like:


Pretty impressive, huh?  Now, mine doesn't look quite as spectacular, but it's certainly not for the nailed it file either.  In fact, I'm pretty darn proud of how they turned out :)

I'll start off with a brief look at a Christmas cake recipe, and then go on to the decorations.

Christmas Cake

1kg fruit - I use a mix of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, dates and currants.
350ml alcohol of your choice - rum, bourbon, brandy - or if you'd prefer not to use alcohol, you can use ginger beer/ale
300g butter, softened
180g brown sugar
4 eggs
lemon zest
2Tbsp golden syrup
1tsp vanilla

70g ground almonds (not necessity but it makes the cake moist)
3000g flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ginger
1/4tsp ground cloves

Put the fruit and alcohol in a saucepan and heat until just boiling.  Take off the heat and cover overnight.
The next day, preheat your oven to 150C
Cream butter and sugar with lemon zest
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition
Add golden syrup and vanilla.
Sift the dry ingredients (except for the ground almonds) and set aside.
Gradually begin to alternate adding the dry ingredients and the fruit mix to the butter mix until well combined.
Spoon into a tin lined with baking paper.  This will do a 20cm square tin or two loaf tins.
Bake for approximately 2 3/4 hrs - 3 1/4 hrs depending on cake tin and oven.  I sometimes rotate my tins half way through, just to make sure it is evenly baked.
To check if the cake is ready, insert a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean, it's done.
Once removed from the oven, cover it with tin foil and then wrap in a tea towel to hold in the moisture.  Leave cake like this until it has cooled completely.
Once cooled you can either leave it as is, or ice it, and then keep it wrapped in tin foil and stored in an airtight container.  


Right, so that's the recipe done.  Now for the icing!  
I started off with a light spread of raspberry jam on the cakes and then covered it with a layer of white fondant rolled thinly.

Next up, I started on the polar bears.  These guys weren't as hard as I thought they'd be!  Basically, a larger oval shape of fondant for the body, four sausage type pieces for the arms and legs, then position them on the cake.
The head was made of a ball with a smaller ball flattened for the mouth and nose.  I used a skewer to poke a hole for the eyes and nose, then filled them with some edible black paint.  If you have black fondant, then you could use that too.  I also used my skewer to add in some details on the face.
You can form two ears by making two small balls and flattening them, then pushing onto the top of the head.
The hard part, is getting the head to stick to the body.  I know you can use an edible paste, but I didn't have any of that, and wasn't sure how to make it, so I pushed a dent into the body where I wanted to place the head, then dabbed a little water in the dent.  I sat the head on top and gave a gentle push, and propped it up with a glass just in front of the bears head.  I left it there until it had dried and I was able to move it away without the head falling off.

The tree in the picture was made with rounds of green fondant cut out, and the edges pushed down to create a crinkled effect.  I, however, used star shapes.
I cut several different size stars, and layered them on top of each other, with a blob of fondant in between to give it a bit of depth.  I then topped the points with coloured balls.


As you can see, mine isn't as big or impressive, but I was running low on fondant and I think they're quite cute :)


Next up, I made some little parcels out of coloured fondant, then using edible paints, I drew some ribbons on the parcels.  These were stacked beside the tree.


I finished it off by sprinkling a little edible dust over top to give the impression of shiny snow.

This is my finished product:-


So I know it isn't perfect, but I think it's a pretty good first attempt :) I hope I have inspired you to give it a go!  I'd love to see what you guys can come up with :)
Anyways, enjoy your week and Happy Cooking!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halloween Treats!


Boo!

We had a Halloween party in the weekend, and I thought I would share some of my treats with you!  I made some horror cupcakes and a hot cheesy pumpkin dip.

Now I just used my usual chocolate cupcake and red velvet cupcake mixtures to make the cupcakes.  It is the decorating I wanted to share with you.

First up, I made a horror scene with broken glass and blood.  These were actually quite simple, though I did have a bit of trouble with my first batch of toffee!  It is very important to keep your eye on the mix as it's cooking - I took my eyes off it for a few minutes and it had already started to burn.  It still tasted okay, but not quite what I was after, and of course, it was a darker colour, so not what I wanted.

The second batch went much better!  I poured it onto a lightly buttered cookie tray so it could spread thin, then once it was cooled, I shattered it into shards.
I rolled fondant onto the top of each cupcake, and a dollop of raspberry jam (strained through a sieve first to remove seeds) then pushed a toffee shard through the blood.


The next batch I made, I used a special nozzle in my icing bag - you can get them from specialty stores and they look like they have lots of tiny holes in them.  These nozzles are great for creating grass or fur :)
I made some bright green buttercream and covered each cupcake in green grass, followed by a tombstone made of fondant.  I added extra icing to help prop them up.


The last thing I made, was my hot cheesy pumpkin dip!  My cheesy bread dip always goes down a treat, so I thought I'd put a twist on it and do it in a pumpkin!
I had hubby carve the top off for me and then hollowed out the seeds.


I made my dip using:

1 1/2 tubs of cream cheese
1 heaped Tablespoon of mayo
1/2 orange capsicum, diced
1/2 onion, diced
100g ham, diced (bacon works too)
a little lemon zest
season with garlic pepper and salt

Mix all of the above ingredients together and then spoon into your prepared pumpkin (or hollowed out bread)


Place the lid back on.
If you feel so inclined, you can carve a face or design into the front too.


Wrap in tinfoil and bake at 200C for 2 hours.
Serve with crackers and carrot sticks.



There you have it!  Some Halloween treats to share with your family and friends :)  Have a great week and Happy Cooking!


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Mini Meatloaves

Hey hey my lovelies!

How are we all on this fantastic long weekend?  I've been meaning to post this recipe for a few days now, and I've finally found a few spare moments to share it with you.
I was helping a friend out with some meals and this is one of the recipes she gave me - though I've altered it a smidge.  So delicious!  

Mini meatloaves

2Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 small cauliflower
500g pork mince
2 eggs
2tsp chinese five spice
salt
1tsp mustard (whatever your preference)

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook onion and garlic until softened - approx 3-5mins
Place cauli florets in a food processor to make cauliflower rice then add to the pan, cooking for a further 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine mince with eggs, mustard and spice.  Add the cauli mix and fold together.

Spoon into muffin trays or if you have those mini loaf trays you could use those.
Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with some sweet chilli sauce and salad.
*These are great to freeze for later too

If you aren't a fan of pork mince, you can use beef mince, with a bit of marsala or paprika in place of the five spice.  You can also use coconut oil in place of olive oil.

So yummy and really simple to make!

Anywho, I hope you enjoy what's left of your weekend and Happy Cooking!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Bacon and Onion Bombs!

Hey hey!

A couple of nights ago, my husband showed me a video he had found on FB with a recipe for these interesting looking meatballs wrapped in onion and bacon, so I thought I would re-create these with my own recipe :) 

I will admit, it wasn't a hit with the girls - one ate the bacon from the outside and refused to eat the rest because it was onion, and the other only ate the centre.  Hubby, my son and I all thought it was delicious, though!  It was a little like eating a burger without the bun.

Here's what I did:

Bacon and Onion Bombs

500g mince
1/3C breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1Tbsp wholegrain mustard
2-3Tbsp BBQ sauce
1/4C grated cheese

Combine the above ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper.


Grab one or two large onions, cut the ends off and slice halfway through so you can peel off layers.  this does take a bit of patience and a steady hand!
Roll a portion of mince into a ball and slide into each onion layer.


Secure two strips of streaky bacon around each ball - make sure the seam is at the bottom so it sits on the tray.


Bake in the oven at 200C for around 45mins.  Bacon should be crispy, onions softened and mince cooked through.


As you can see from the pic, a lot oozed out while cooking - but this will be a combination of melted cheese and fat from the meat.  You could omit the cheese if you prefer.


We dipped ours into sweet chilli sauce and it was divine!

This is definitely a make-again recipe for us and I hope you enjoy it too!  Have a great weekend, and Happy Cooking!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Cookies!

It's the school holidays and my girls and I decided to bake some cookies today.  We had been out shopping and happened to peruse the local store, Kitchen Kapers, where you can get all kinds of fancy baking products.  It certainly inspired us!

When we got home, I jumped online and went straight to Pinterest to see if I could find a new recipe to try.  

This is what I found:


It definitely made a large batch of cookies, which you would expect when you are using that quantity of flour, however, I don't feel like they have enough flavour.  My girls love them, but they're a bit bland for me.  We made some raspberry icing to give them just that little bit more, and it seemed to do the trick.


As you can see from the pics, the cookies raised quite a lot, again, this is to be expected with that quantity of baking powder.  I rolled the dough out to around 6mm thickness, so I would probably try for even thinner next time.


Busy icing their gingerbread men :)



In my opinion, this recipe is a little too doughy tasting, but as I said earlier, the girls were quite pleased with them.  A good fun treat for the kids to make over the holidays :)

After searching recipes on Pinterest for the first time in probably a year, I have decided that I'm going to go back to trialing interesting recipes that I find online so I can share my triumphs and failures with you!

That's all I have for you now.  Enjoy the rest of your week, and Happy Cooking!