Too soon to be raving about the festive season??

Let's talk about Christmas!

I absolutely cannot wait for Christmas. Apologies for those of you who hate to think about it any sooner than the day before. I am certainly not one of those people. I start thinking about Christmas as soon as the weather starts to turn cold. So, for me in England that was in September!

I don't think about presents or things like that. I just start to think about what food I can eat on the day.

I recently dug out an old edition of Woman & Home Feel Good Food Christmas edition from 2011 and boy did it get my mouth watering. They had a brilliant sample menu for a traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings. I am really tempted.

As most of you will not know because I have not posted anything for a long while, I moved into my very first home with my fiancée in February. A little two bed cottage built in the 1850s, totally adorable. The other bit of news is I am expecting a little baby boy in March! So I could not be happier really.

Back to Christmas though, as it is our first Christmas in our new home we were thinking of going traditional, so like I said just before: turkey, trimmings the lot. Pigs in blankets of course ;-)

What I was wondering is if anybody has a quirky take on the traditional turkey roast dinner. So, maybe a surprising idea for stuffing ingredients or a special glaze for the turkey.... anything. I would love to hear some ideas to make this Christmas a really special one for Nick and I.

I hope every one is having a great autumn filled with reds, rusts and orchard fruit harvests galore.


Animals take over your life...but they are worth it

I have been extremely quiet since summer because of studying. Not to mention animals taking over my life. But I think you will excuse me once you see a picture of them...
Patch on her way home to meet his new mummy!

Patch and Pepper making friends

Waiting patiently
So...as you can see I had two VERY cute animals to take car of. But that does not mean I haven't had time to make cakes! No no, just means I haven't had time to take pictures of cakes.

I have made those brilliant brownies numerous times over the last months and sent one batch out to germany for my boyfriend and his friends to enjoy.
My friend has made me a beautiful box of whoopie pies which I wish I had taken a photo of because they were so pretty. Her creativeness was brilliant: she had wanted to make mint icing for half of them but could not find any peppermint flavouring so instead used trebor mints crushed up. I was a bit dubious when she said this was what she had done, but boy was I proven wrong. They tasted phenomenal!

This is a short post, I just wanted to check in and tell anyone who might be interested that I am still intent on succeeding at this blog but it just might be a couple more months until my graduation when that might be achieved more successfully.

Enjoy your nomnies everyone.

ooh and take a look at this
http://passthesushi.com/lasagna-soup   seems like a GREAT comfort food recipe

and this
girls night in I hear you say


Bananas and Burgers

I'm spending the weekend at my boyfriend's mums house and last night we decided to cook up a storm in the kitchen to give his mum a rest from cooking for us.
My boyfriend wanted to do something with fish so I suggested we do a salmon in papillote and set to looking through http://photograzing.seriouseats.com/ to find an inspirational recipe. What I did stumble upon was a total gem. It wasn't a recipe for fish en papillote, but for a salmon burger. When they say it's the best, they really mean it. The flavours were so well complemented and the salmon remained deliciously moist. Here's the link for the best salmon burger.
Dessert, of course, was my responsibility. So I gave my boyfriend the choice of three recipes and he chose the banana pudding one. I may have slightly helped his choice my saying, not entirely truthfully, that it was like a take on a banoffee pie. In fact it had nothing to do with a banoffee pie apart from the bananas, but it was a great pudding, and I was pleased I could get my hands on some real vanilla pods so didn't have to use essence because it really does make a difference to the taste. I made mine in little ramekins and they were the perfect size. Unfortunately we were too hungry to take photos of the burgers and then I was too keen to try the dessert to take photos of that! But the blogs that I found them on have lovely pictures anyway. Here's the link for a lovely banana pudding.
It's halloween tomorrow so what I really want to do instead of writing my essays is make lots of spooky treats. We'll see what I decide. Happy baking.


Great British Bake Off...do I have a chance?

I have applied for the Great British Bake Off (3). It's official. I don't really rate my chances but for a laugh my friend told me "Why not?!". So, I did it.
That then led me to think...wait a minute I have never even attempted to make half of the recipes that featured on Great British Bake Off (2). So I went onto amazon and ordered the official book.
Of course I had to wait until I visited my parents to actually have a chance to make anything from is as my university baking cupboard has limited utensils and ingredients do not come cheap.
What I really wanted to make were melting moments (are they the same as Viennese whirls?) because I wanted to test out my piping skills.
I set about mixing up the ingredients. However, I stumbled at the first hurdle of creaming the butter with the icing sugar. For some reason the butter was very watery and so so yellow and would just not become light and fluffy. I called upon some man power in the form of my father, which brought the mixture slightly more towards a reasonable texture. But without being able to make it any better I decided to just use what I had, so added the flour and continued. Now, I don't know if it was because of the inferior creaming kills I seemed to possess, or just a fault with the ingredient amounts but there was no way that the mixture I ended up with for the biscuits could be piped, no matter how hard I tried! So I used my favourite tool: my hands, and shaped the mixture into small balls and then pinched around in a twirly fashion to mimic (very badly) the shape piping it would have made.
All-in-all I didn't have high hopes for the outcome, especially not for the "melting"ness.
But lo-and-behold, they came out of the oven perfectly golden and biting into the finished product definitely gave the desired "meting" effect of the biscuit. 
So I may not have got 10/10 for presentation likeness, but taste I think I have in the bag.
Here they are (I have included the recipe from the book in my "recipe" section):

I am about to eat the last one with a cup of tea whilst I get on with my uni work. I will definitely make it last...at least in my memory that is.

Following the bake off theme, I was able to spend the weekend with my boyfriend at my parents home and one night we decided to have our own bake off. Now, I have to admit we both took the easy route with this because we were doing pasta bakes and we used a ready made Dolmio sauce in our bakes! I did have the best intentions to make my own but our local tesco didn't have any passata or any mascarpone so my plans were scuppered. Here's a photo of both of our bakes (you decide which you think is best)
My boyfriend's is on the left: a bacon and chicken italian bake; and mine on the right is  a salmon bake with pine nuts and spinach (the recipe called for basil but again the shop let me down)
They were both really good bakes so I will give you the links to the recipes just incase you fancy a meaty bake or a fishy bake on these cold autumn nights. chicken and bacon pasta bakeSalmon pasta bake recipe


Should people really be putting a limit on thank you's?

So, I've been having some trouble with my parking (I think I mentioned this before) but a kind family on my street helped me out by giving me visitor passes for almost two weeks. I made them a crumble slice the first time they gave me some, and then I had to ask for some more passes so the next time I went back to my parents I made them some wholemeal chocolate chip cookies to thank them for helping me again. Only this time they weren't so grateful. In fact, the words used were "I think that's enough thank yous" now. I'm not really where to go from here as it just shocked me too much. I had to hold my self back from turning around and demanding the cookies back from them. That's how good those cookies are. Thanks again to "Wholegrain goodness"!


The start of a new term does not always mean the end of summer (weather)

I have been absent from my blogging duties for far too long. This time my excuse can't even be baking, because even though I have done a lot of that the only reason for my laziness with my blog is just that: LAZINESS.
Last week I started my final "fresher's week", as I have just embarked on my final year at University. So, technically now I should be busier than ever and the last thing I should be thinking about is blogging or baking. However, that is not the case. When I am in my lectures despite the fact that the subject does actually interest me (phonology for example) all I can think about is baking.
Yesterday I came straight home from my lecture and made cookie dough cups...a take on the American peanut butter cups but altered to make sure I kept my promise to my housemate Brogan of making something with cookie dough in. So, whilst on my way home from my lecture I looked up how to make a cookie dough without having to use raw eggs and found a brilliant mixture of cream cheese and condensed milk which worked wonders. I very much enjoyed the fiddly'ness' of coating the inside of mini muffin cases with chocolate and placing a ball of cookie dough inside and then adding the hat of chocolate on top. Going with the "cup" route I displayed them in little tea cups on saucers and had them ready to welcome my housemates back home in time to start our BBQ in the backyard to enjoy the Indian summer we are enjoying! It really is such lovely weather. Here's a picture of us in our little student backyard with my bunting taking center stage of decorations. (Little boast there).
I think to myself everyday how lucky I am to live with such lovely, gorgeous ladies :)
The other noteworthy bit of baking I did recently was as a huge thank you for my neighbours in Sheffield for giving me visitor parking permits for my car, as my permit has yet to appear. I would have had to pay £4 a day if they had not been kind enough to give me visitor passes. So I went home at the weekend and I made them a crumble slice with rye flour from one of my favourite cookbooks: Wholegrain Goodness.
Now I really must do my seminar preparations. I really hope I can get back into regular blogging posts. I definitely have lots more things I want to try out with my baking. 


Breast Cancer Care Strawberry Tea Party: What a Success!

I don't think I could be happier with how the fundraiser went! I made a total of £200 pounds and over 40 people from the village and my friends came to share the cakes and chat. I think I counted that I made about 26 different types of cake, which aren't all shown in the photos because some were packaged up in little bags for people to buy and take home. My friend Natalie was brilliant and stood guard at the door to make sure everyone gave their £1 entry donation, so thank you to her. Emma made cucumber sandwiches which the male guests and those without a sweet tooth very much appreciated, as did I, and Hannah and her mum brought a tea loaf, thank you. 

The finished room

My helpers and I

petit four and earl grey tea cupcakes, which did not get enough credit because they tasted delicious but I think people were put off by the name.

This was a totally strawberry cake that my friend bought for £8 I think it was!

Me at the door

The guests

The villagers

Natalie my bodyguard ;)
The 1st prize in the raffle went to one of my neighbours who brought it up to her family birthday party and shared it with her neighbours.

The cheesecake counter (the marbled cheesecake brownies on the right were by far the most popular treat of the day).

Chocolate covered pretzels, petit four, carrot cake, pink lemonade bars, earl grey tea cupcakes. What a feast.

Tea loaves, blueberry and soured cream loaf, almond and orange loaf, raspberry trifle cupcakes (went down very quickly: good job I made two batches!), chocolate buttermilk cake, scones, vegan loaf, and strawberries OF COURSE.
I can not end this post without mentioning the biggest star in all of this. Hummingbird Bakery!
I bought their cookbook "cake days" and boy am I glad I did. Over half the recipes I used for this tea party were from their cookbook...especially aptly named "afternoon tea" section. I had never made any of the recipes before, so, you may think foolishly, I set out making them for the first time for my tea party. Lo and Behold! They all turned out perfectly, and I can only put that down to the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook recipes being second to none. I woud really love to go to their bakery, do they have one in London(?) and see first hand how they interpret their recipes and what their finished creations look like, hopefully mine were not too far off what they are actually supposed to look like!