Friday, 27 November 2015

Foodie Penpals - November

This month I sent my parcel to Sharon whose blog is here  she said she had a sweet tooth so I sent her some lovely sweet treats, I hope she likes them!

My parcel came from Dawn in Scotland , I was very excited before I even opened the parcel as she had cleverly stuck some recipes on the side - I might steal this idea for a future box!

I was really pleased with all of my treats ..... lots of yummy sweet things....(apologies for the shocking photo I desperatly wanted to eat things and only had my phone to hand and couldn't find my camera.. Ok I didn't look that hard! )

Molly loves it when I have any post and helped to open it for me and went straight to the sweets - there were some more sweets but she had swiped them before I could take a photo!

The only specification I really had was of course shortbread as my parcel was from Scotland and Dawn didn't dissapoint!( I wonder if she gets fed up of sending Shortbread to everyone?) I opened the little round ones as soon as I had taken the photo and they were divine - melt in your mouth little morsels, the packet in the middle was peanut butter truffles and Dawn said she had some as well and as they were so delicious was contemplating keeping them - I am so glad she didn't they were delicious - lovely and rich , one was just enough for me - they have all mysteriously disappeared now....

The museli oatcakes were gorgeous - I ate them as they were and didn't feel the need to add anything to them as I would a normal oatcake. They weren't as sweet as a normal biscuit but still as tasty.
The chocolate had nuts in and was really yummy - I haven't had the olives yet.

These look really interesting.........Hot chocolate with a frothy top - one is white chocolate and the other one is Orange chocolate - I am saving these for an afternoon of Christmas movies!

Looking forward to using this cheeky little chappy.....

Dawn got this from the Good Food festival it is Peppercorn and Tennessee whiskey pour over sauce concentrate - according to their website it is delicious over steak or chicken... mmmm

I saved the best till last - Homemade Raspberry Gin!!!! wow it does have a kick to it! I had a little shot glass of it one evening and it was lovely, fruity and warms your cockles! Another successful swap - if you would like to take part then click here at Carol Annes blog  Foodie Penpals is taking a break for December but starts back again in January.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Another GBBO contestant - Richard Burr

Another week and another GBBO contestant! This time it was the lovely Richard Burr who was the finalist in last years GBBO.
I went with a few of my friends from the baking club that I go to - There were about 20 people there in total, It was hosted in a new venue that has just opened up in Wawick called Okens Kitchen
Okens Kitchen ( photo by Martin Sean)

 It is a beautiful place - there are worktops and ovens and lots of lovely pretty bunting festooned ( love that word!) around the place it looks really pretty.

Okens Kitchen ( photo by Martin Sean)

 Richard did a demonstation of a bread called ChallahRolls which I haven't heard of before - it is a typical Jewish bread made from an enriched dough. Richard made the dough and then we all had a go at twirling it into a rose type effect - He of course made it look so easy

Richard twirling his dough!

 - How hard can it be to roll out some dough and twist it a little? Here is my attempt at a Rose.......
Before it was cooked

My finished bake
The recipe can be found in his book.......

Recipe from his book

Whilst the bread was in the oven Richard talked to us about his time on GBBO , he said that all the contestants on that series are really good friends and see each other all the time and he is hosting a xmas party for them all this year. It sounds like they had a lot of fun filming on and off the camera! 
We also had a mini bake off - we all had to bring in a bake of Buns. I could only think of Chelsea buns and I haven't made those before but I am always up for a challenge! So I found a recipe online and adapted it a little as I only had dates and walnuts and covered it with mini gingerbread men.It took nearly all day to make - lots of proving and in between all of this I was entertaining a 3 year old and 1 year old! I was really pleased with my finished bake .

My interpretation of Chelsea Buns

The competition was fierce  - there were some lovely bakes , we had a cup of tea and sampled them all then had to rank our 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice annouymously - Richard gave us a pencil to do our scoring!!!

 - Hilariously all three winners were from our baking club - it looked like a fix but it wasn't!

Richard announcing the winners - all from our Baking club!!

Included in the price of the ticket was a copy of his book BIY

 and we all had an opportunity to have photos and it signed - he was so generous with his time and spoke to everyone at great lengths

 - I had to dash back to little Henry as I had to feed him and put him to bed but did manage to stay for a group photo.

The evening was lovely - Richard is a really funny, smiley and happy person and seemed to enjoy chatting and answering all our questions - it must have been a little intimidating for him as it was all women!
Some of the photos are from Martin Sean 
Last weekend I went to see a Masterchef chef.... John Torode ... blog post at some point!!....

Monday, 9 November 2015

Henry's 1st BirthdayBirthday

I can't beleive that my little sausage Henry is one already! This year has flown by. He is a gorgeous little monkey but still doesn't like to sleep at night which is driving me crazy ! But otherwise he is perfect!
He didn't have a party but I did make a cake and shared it with some of Mollys' friends ( Henry doesn't have any friends of his age! Poor thing!).

Birthday Boy

I didn't want to do another chocolate cake - not that I don't LOVE chocolate cake but wanted a bit of a change so I made a Carrot Cake this one from Rachel Allen  its a really easy recipe. I didn't have any sunflower oil so used this Rice Bran Oil
Alfa One 100% pure rice bran oil

.... I have had it on my shelf for ages and have forgotten all about it so when I realised I didn't have any sunflower oil I read up on Rice Bran Oil and realised it was the perfect alternative - it says on the bottle that it is perfect for baking and is good for you! So I convinced myself that my cake was a healthy one ! Not only did it have carrots and raisins but healthy oil!! Win Win in my book. The cake turned out to be delicious and had a lovely nutty flavour - adults and children all liked it. I will be using this oil again.

Happy Birthday Henry!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Foodie Penpals - October

This month my foodie penpal came from France - Anne at Les Recettes du panier . I sent my parcel to Kate in Wales -she doesn't have a blog. This is what I sent to Kate

And here is my lovely parcel from France....

There was a lovely note from Anne apologising for the fact that she couldn't get any Macaroons as I asked if she could find any but it didn't matter as there were some gorgeous treats to make up for it!!
Look at these lovely biscuits...

Look how pretty they are all wrapped up! I opened these immediately and they didn't disappoint they were lovely , buttery and light delicious! so I had a few of them! They are gorgeous crumbled over ice cream as well..

I love Lindt chocolate and haven't tried the Raspberry flavour before - mmm delicious, its very rich so a couple of squares are enough to crave my chocolate hunger at a time.

Popcorn - you can't go wrong with popcorn - this is waiting to be consumed on a movie night.

When you open this there is a lovely aroma of pears - it is pear pieces covered in dark chocolate - I ate these in my morning granola and it was divine.

I can't wait to use this - its a lovely cookie cutter with a stencil on the top.

There was also a lovely Eiffel Tower keyring that Anne sent but Molly has taken it and its in her toy box somewhere!!!
Once again a lovely Foodie Penpal - next month is the last one until January so if you want to join head over t Carol Anne at her Blog

Saturday, 17 October 2015

More GBBO - Christine Wallace

Its been a Great British Bake Off few weeks (with more to come...) Last week at the local baking group that I belong to we had a special guest of Christine Wallace - quarter finalist on the 2013 GBBO series. This was her second time here, last year she came and made her delicious 99ers that she did on the show. This year she made muffins and oh my they were delicious!!! I am not really a muffin person I find them to dry and not very exciting but Christine has changed my mind on these!! She made Coconut Lime and  Blueberry muffins as well as Chocolate Walnut Whip muffins. Both were heavenly.... The Coconut,Lime and Blueberry ones had a shot of Lime curd in the middle of them which made them delicious. The chocolate ones had marshmallows hidden inside as well as marshmallow fluff - not one for people on a diet!

Coconut Blueberry and Lime Muffins

Chocolate Walnut Whip Muffins

They are from her cookbook - 50 comfort recipes that you can get HERE

She was also here to judge our own version of a Bakeoff challenge - we were all asked to bring in 4 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and Christine judged who the best 3 were. There were 18 entries

These are all the entries waiting to be judged

My entry!

Christine tasting my cakes!

Thirsty work tasting 18 cupcakes!

 and guesss what..... I WON!!!!! I was so surprised and shocked infact I am still very excited that I won! I used a good old Mary Berry Recipe to be in keeping with the GBBO theme.
My prize was a signed copy of her book and a lovely vanilla car freshner..

Winning Cupcakes!

So excited!!!

We even made it in to the local newspaper! How exciting!

It was a fab evening , I have had so many lovely comments and messages from friends about my little win. I am still in shock that my little cupcakes won !

Friday, 16 October 2015

Easy sew girls skirts

One of the reasons I wanted to learn to sew was so that I could make clothes for Molly and Henry. I have as usual researched a lot on Pinterest . There were hundreds of pins of easy sew dresses but I wanted to be able to see how to make one , I then remembered good old YouTube! Of course! There were lots and lots of videos but the best one was so simple and was really short. I hate listening to people prattle on about what they have made, who they are for, where they got the fabric from.. Grrrrrr JUST GET ON AND SHOW ME WHAT TO DO! phew feel better now.
This is the link to the video tutorial here   Dana explains what to do without prattling on - I have watched a few of her other videos and they are all very simple - plus she is very chirpy and happy which is always good - her website is full of inspiring things to make too.

Making these skirts is so easy and the sense of achievment is fab - I am constantly asked where I got Mollys skirts from and it is exciting to say I Made Them!!!
So this is the first one I made.....

This is one that I made for Easter and got a little adventurous and added a stripe to the bottom of the skirt and love the effect. (Molly posing for the camera!)

The foxes one is my favourite though - how cute is this pattern!

 Drama queen - she is saying no more photos!

I could make these forever as there is so much material that I love!
I want to make some more for the winter including a Halloween one... Going to try to make pyjamas for Molly and Henry next....

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Frances Quinn - Bake off Winner 2014

I love the Bake off  and have watched all the series so was very excited to hear that Frances Quinn last years winner was coming to Warwick to talk about her new book Quinntessential Baking .

I went with 18 of us from our local baking group and we all managed to get there early and sit on the front 2 rows. I wasn't sure what to expect and I hadn't even looked at her cookery book but after listening to her talk about it have asked lovely Stephen to get it for me for Christmas ( I know its only October but I have to start early with my suggestions!).
She talked for an hour and a half and had a power point presentation with a couple of videos to show - now that to me sounds really dull but it was quite the opposite. Frances is very confident and a natural speaker and very funny - she not only went through her book talking about her inspiration for it but spoke of the Bake off and the process she went through. It was interesting to hear what happens in the background - apparently in one of the first episodes she had a curdling disaster and said that if anything slightly wrong happens all the camera men descend on you! But fortunately as there were so many of them in the beginning she got away with it. She also spoke of some of the commissions that she has been asked to do since winning.

She had a couple of videos to show - this one is may favourite - How to make her marzipan bees
Frances is so creative and makes eveything she bakes look so easy and effortless. It was a fantastic evening despite that fact that I was coughing like a lunatic trying not to ruin it for everyone! Have a bit of a Bake Off few weeks coming up... watch this space...