Monday, 21 May 2018

Pink Flamingo and Balloons birthday card

handmade flamingo birthday card
 
Flamingos are a really popular motif at the moment and one night while feeding the baby I decided they would look really good on a birthday card, and bought a flamingo stamp from Dovecraft on Ebay.

I also bought some die cut balloon shapes - it would be cheaper to buy the die in the long run and cut my own shapes but time is something I don't have a lot of at the moment (I'm writing this while the baby takes a nap but can already hear signs she is waking up!) so I just bought the shapes pre-cut.

I was playing around with shapes and thought the card would look nice with several layered embellishments in different shades of pink - there's quite a lot going on on this card but I really like how it turned out.

To start I covered most of a white square card blank with a piece of pink patterned paper, leaving a small white border clear around the edge. I stamped the flamingo onto a piece of cream card and coloured it pink with a Promarker pen.

I cut a scalloped shape around the edge of a slightly larger rectangle of purple paper (which was actually a recycled birthday card envelope I'd received) and mounted the flamingo card on that. I found a wide glittery pink ribbon in my stash that I'd bought and never used - it is quite wide and very pink and glittery so a bit OTT for most cards but I decided it worked for this one! I stuck that across the middle of the card using double sided sticky tape and mounted the flamingo topper on that.

The final touches were two die cut balloons, one in pink and one in purple, and a stamped 'happy birthday' sentiment from the 'Say it with stamps' set from All Night Media on a piece of the same purple paper as the topper which I cut out with a wavy line. The perfect card for someone who likes a bit of glitz and glamour!

Here are some of the products I used:



I'm sharing this with Stamplorations where the theme is 'things with wings'; Crafty Ribbons challenge, As You Like It where the theme is pink or blue, and Creatalicious Challenges where anything goes with the option of 'all that glitters'. As I re-used an old envelope I'm also sharing it with Use Your Stuff where the theme is upcycle/recycle, plus Addicted to Stamps challenge where the theme is 'ribbons galore'.

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 21

There's another bank holiday this weekend which doesn't mean as much as it used to now I'm not at work, but it will be nice to have my husband around for three days! We are going to a barbecue on the Saturday with friends and another one with family on Sunday and are also planning to barbecue at home a couple of times this week as my husband loves to use the Weber grill... so that's a lot of barbecue food!

Monday
Pie and mash (pies bought from Waitrose rather than made)

Tuesday
Forecast to be the nicest weather all week so I think we will barbecue -  including Ocado recipes for chorizo and pesto flatbreads and barbecued new potatoes and griddled halloumi with herbs

Wednesday
Also supposed to be lovely weather so we might as well finish up the barbecue food!

Thursday
Chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking for me, chicken chargrills and mashed potato for him

Friday
Chicken goujons and chips for him, fishfingers and chips for me

Saturday
Lunch - bacon sandwich
Dinner- at a barbecue

Sunday
Lunch - breakfast burritos
Dinner - roast chicken unless the weather is too hot and I decide to do something else!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Restaurant review: The Woodman, Banstead, Surrey

My little girl's first trip to the pub came when she was eight weeks old - my parents were staying for a few days and we went out to lunch. I thought a pub would be a good option as it should be fairly quiet on a week day lunchtime and have enough space for the buggy. I wanted to try somewhere I hadn't been before and some internet research threw up the Woodman in Banstead.

It's part of Classic Inns, a chain I'm not familiar with, and the food was very much chain food - lacking finesse and fairly generic in terms of choices, but having said that, we had a pretty good meal. I had scampi and chips - the chips were a bit too crispy for my liking, but my parents enjoyed their food - my dad had a burger and my mum had the scampi as well.



The pub offers certain main courses for just £6 on a weekday lunchtime which is really good value; certain desserts can also be had for £3. It was dessert I was most excited about, when I initially checked out the menu - I had the 'cookie cup explosion' which consisted of a cookie base filled with chocolate brownie, marshmallow pieces, chocolate honeycomb, drizzled with chocolate and served with vanilla ice cream. It tasted as good as it sounds!

 
I noticed a large pub garden on the way out which looked really good for children; the internal décor of the pub was a bit heavy (swirly patterned carpet, very dark wood furniture) but the sort of thing that looks quite cosy in the winter.

I wasn't blown away by the pub but it was nice enough, and I'd go back in the summer or certainly when my daughter is a bit older and wants to play in the garden.



 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 20

A few thought on meals this week.... My weeks now revolve around baby S... meals are planned but then sometimes have a last minute change of plan, if I was in town and passing a shop where I picked up something else, or more likely, because S wanted feeding for the best part of an hour then my husband got home from work, and the meal I planned that would take 45 minutes to cook hadn't been started and we decided to have something quicker!

I've found the best thing to have for my lunch is a sandwich - I don't know whether I'll have time to make myself anything hot - and eat it while it's still hot - as S doesn't really have a feeding schedule, and can go anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours between feeds. Also, I've realised I really like sandwiches when they haven't been made the night before and in my work bag all day... a fresh bread roll from the bakery and a more messy sandwich filling than I would take to work (such as the deli fillers you can get from the supermarket - I really like the seafood one made with crab sticks) is a real treat. I just need to stop eating cake and biscuits as I did really well at losing the baby weight really quickly, and then some, but have started to put a little bit back on! I'm not allowed to exercise other than walking until 12 weeks after my C-section which doesn't help but there's only a couple of weeks to go then I plan to sign up to some sort of buggy fit session in the park (though ironically the park is a bit too far to walk and I'll have to drive there and back!).

So this week we will be eating:

Monday
Tuna steak and new potatoes for me, chicken chargrills for him

Tuesday
My husband is out (I gave him a hall pass!) at an event near his office so I just had some pasta

Wednesday
Cajun chicken

Thursday
Lasagne for me, sausage and mash for him

Friday
Chicken burgers

Saturday
Lunch - sausage and egg McMuffins
Dinner - Mexican chicken traybake I didn't do last week

Sunday
Lunch - out with the antenatal class
Dinner - maybe sausage casserole or something lighter depending on time and what we had for lunch
 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Restaurant Reviews, Calas de Mallorca and Porto Cristo, Majorca

Last summer I had a few days in Majorca with two friends; while I reviewed the hotel not long after we got back, with one thing and another I never got around to blogging about the other places we ate. As so much time has passed this can't be classed as a review, as for all I know the places have changed since then, but I still want to share with you a couple of things that we did.

We ate mostly in the hotel as it was all inclusive and the food wasn't bad (though not great); there wasn't a lot to do in the evenings if you didn't have kids though as the entertainment was very geared towards small people and the other bar away from the entertainment was a bit lacking in atmosphere. While going to the beach one day we had a drink in the Martinelli beach club which had very cool ecletic décor- one section was shabby chic, another looked like something out of Arabian nights.


Another day we visited Porto Cristo, a pretty little town about 20 km from Calas de Majorca. We were given a bus timetable at reception and it was actually the first place the bus stopped after our hotel so we didn't have to worry about not knowing where to get off, and it only took about 20 minutes (we seemed to be driving pretty fast!). The main draw in Porto Cristo is the Cuevas del Drach - dragon caves. The caves are open to the public and have an underground lake where you can watch a classical music concert being performed, then cross the lake yourself by boat, which is quite an experience and very different to other caves I've visited.

You can only enter the caves on the hour, every hour, apart from 1pm when they close for lunch; the idea is that the tourists all walk together in a group at the same pace, though you can stop and look at the cave walls with their different features in your own time; it took us about 40 minutes then you all arrive at the underground auditorium at roughly the same time. The musicians appear on a boat on the far side of the lake and travel across, giving a ten minute concert, which is really atmospheric. Then you can either walk back to the cave exit or queue to get on a small boat and take a short trip across the lake, which I recommend.


It's a short walk from the caves to the centre of Porto Cristo, via the harbour where there are lots of restaurants and shops as well as boats to look at. We chose a bar and restaurant called Eternal, right on the harbour front; my friends served a tapas dish that was designed for two, while I had salmon with mango vinaigrette and the side dish of the day. The English version of the menu translated 'accompaniment' as 'garrison' (someone used the wrong dictionary definition there!) which was potato wedges. For dessert I had a white chocolate crepe with cream and chocolate ice cream which as delicious, though it was room temperature and I had expected the crepe to be hot so the ice cream would melt. We enjoyed the view from our table and headed back to our hotel as the sun started to go down.








I think this will be my last holiday for a while now I have a newborn baby!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 19

The bank holiday today was the hottest on record for that particular holiday and I had a fun day visiting my husband's brother and his family with our baby - she got to meet dogs for the first time! I ran out of time to do my meal plan so assumed I would do it another day but find myself sitting here at half past midnight waiting for our bedroom to cool down.... it was 28 C at 10pm and is now still nearly 26, which in my opinion is far too hot for a newborn. So baby S is asleep in her moses basket in the much cooler living room, and I plan to give it until about 1am to see if our bedroom temperature is any better then give up and sleep downstairs in the armchair!

My meal plan for the weekend just gone changed as the weather was so hot and we barbecued on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night!


Monday - bank holiday
Lunch homemade sausage and egg McMuffins
Dinner barbecue - sausages and steak

Tuesday
chicken, bacon and leek cottage pie from this recipe

Wednesday
vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese for me, meatball and pasta for him

Thursday
seafood risotto for me, chicken chargrills for him

Friday
something with chips from the freezer

Saturday
Lunch toasted ham and cheese sandwiches with mozzarella
Dinner Mexican chicken traybake from this recipe

Sunday
Lunch breakfast burritos I didn't do last week
Dinner toad in the hole or sausage casserole based on this recipe

Monday, 7 May 2018

Lemon and Poppyseed Loaf Cake


Towards the end of my maternity leave - and right after my baby was born - I developed the famous 'nesting instinct' and decided to sort out my kitchen cupboards. It's been really helpful because now I'm short of time I can find everything more easily - I also made a fair bit of space by throwing out packets of food I'd forgotten I'd bought that were long out of date!

I found a packet of poppy seeds - still in date - which I'd bought for a recipe ages ago and never used. I was expecting neighbours around the following afternoon to meet baby S and thought a lemon and poppy seed cake - lemon is commonly paired with poppy seeds for some reason - would be a nice easy one to make if I did it as a loaf cake.

I used this recipe from BBC Good Food which turned out really well - very light and fluffy and surprisingly moist. In the end the neighbours had to cancel and reschedule for the following week so I ended up eating most of this cake myself!

The mixture looks quite odd when you add the poppy seeds:


Much better when the other ingredients are in.


Before baking in the loaf tin:


The baked cake, cooling on a rack.


 
 With the lemon glaze

Perfect with a cup of tea!
 


.I'm sharing this with CookBlogShare and Love Cake hosted by JibberJabberUK.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Stork Delivering Baby Card


I have quite a lot of silver and gold outline stickers, and the sentiments and borders are great but I never really got on with using the shapes, as the fine gold outline often doesn't show up that well and looks a bit bare. That is, until I realised I could colour them in! I used Promarkers pens which are really good for this sort of thing (see link below to purchase on Amazon).

To make the card I matted a square of white paper onto a piece of blue card and coloured in the outline sticker, and used a 'congratulations' outline sticker at the bottom.




I'm sending this to Craftaholics R Us where the theme is baby cards and I Love Promarkers which has an optional theme of clean and simple (CAS).

Monday, 30 April 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 18

It's been a busy but really enjoyable week - it was my birthday, and my parents came to stay then I had visits from my oldest friends - we've known each other more than 25 years. My first birthday as a mummy was a bit different as I didn't get around to opening any presents until 5pm!

This week is a lot quieter, I don't have many plans, and it was actually quite nice today to have a restful morning and tidy the house and put washing on while my little girl lay on her playmat and gurgled at her toys. I've got some leftovers to use up from the weekend as well so the first part of this week's meal plan is easy, though I do also need to do some food shopping at some point!

Monday
leftover enchiladas

Tuesday
fresh pasta with spicy mascarpone sauce and chicken

Wednesday
fishcake and vegetables

Thursday
tuna steak and new potatoes
 Friday
 scampi and chips

Saturday
Lunch breakfast burritos
Dinner meatball pasta bake based on this recipe

Sunday
Lunch bacon sandwich
Dinner roast pork loin steak with roast potatoes for me, beef medallions for him

Link up your meal plan here

Monday, 23 April 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 17

My dad has just retired so from now on my parents can come up and visit during the week, not just weekends, which is handy now I'm on maternity leave! They are coming this week as it's my birthday on Sunday so I have several additional requirements when it comes to meal planning as we have other visitors at the weekend as well - some friends with their children - so I need to think of things everyone can eat!

Monday
Ready made pies - sweet potato and goat's cheese for me, chicken tikka for my husband

Tuesday
Tacos with potato wedges

Wednesday - my parents arriving just in time for lunch
Lunch - they usually like to have something like beans on toast in case they arrive later than expected
Dinner - chicken supreme. The classic recipe uses cream but we will be having enough of that tomorrow so I will do a healthier Slimming World version

Thursday - my parents here
Lunch -  ham and cheese pizza pinwheels based on this recipe
Dinner - spaghetti Bolognese (two versions- one vegetarian as I'll invite my mother-in-law over) followed by butterscotch pie for dessert

Friday
Lunch - out for a pre-birthday lunch
Dinner - either hotdogs or quiche and salad

Saturday - two friends plus a husband and two children are arriving in the afternoon to stay the weekend
Lunch - just us - either hotdogs or cheese on toast
Dinner - chicken enchiladas or takeaway pizza depending on whether there is time to cook, but I'd prefer to do the former!

Sunday
Lunch - pub lunch for my birthday
Dinner - probably something light after a big lunch - I'll have a fishcake and poached egg and my husband will probably have had a burger at lunchtime so I'll do him something like sausage and mash for dinner

Also still trying to decide what to do about a birthday cake... I could ask my husband to get me one (I commissioned one from a local baker for his birthday but I don't know if he has got enough time left to do that), or add one to the supermarket order, or make one myself!

Link up your meal plan here:

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Sticky Ginger and Apple Flapjacks


When I was a child I remember my mum and sister making some flapjacks that were so sticky, we were picking bits of kitchen towel off them as we ate - they had been kept in a Tupperware dish lined with kitchen paper and were almost oozing with golden syrup.

I love sticky, soft flapjack, but not that soft - they need to hold together and be slightly chewy at the edges but soft and buttery in the middle. This recipe offers just that.

These were made in preparation of my sister and her partner coming to visit to meet their new niece, and even though I only made them the day before, about half the pan had been eaten before they even arrived!

The recipe is based on one from Good Housekeeping's The Baking Book; I halved the quantities but also added grated apple for extra flavour as I had a few apples that needed using up. The result was absolutely delicious and the texture was perfect.

Here's what I did:
You need:

175g butter or marg (I used Stork)
135g caster sugar
120g golden syrup
225g rolled oats
1 tsp ground ginger
2 apples, peeled and grated

Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and line a square cake tin.

Heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat until melted. Stir in the rolled oats, ginger and apple until combined.

Spoon into the cake tin and press down gently to spread the mixture out and flatten it. Bake for 30 minutes until the edges have turned golden brown and slightly crispy; the middle will still be soft and sticky.



 
 I'm sharing this with Only Crumbs Remain
 and CookBlogShare.
Only Crumbs Remain Hijacked By Twins
 


Monday, 16 April 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 16

I did my meal plan for this week on Sunday and intended to nip out for an hour and pick up a few groceries while my husband looked after the baby... but with one thing and another it didn't happen, and we even ended up getting dinner Sunday night from McDonald's via Uber Eats - which went cold as the baby then needed feeding! I ended up feeding S at midnight and sitting up with her for a while to make sure she settled and didn't need burping again, and at the same time did an online shop on my mobile phone that's being delivered today! The wonders of modern technology.. and the things I get up to in the early hours of the morning these days!

So here's this week's revised meal plan

Monday
Dinner: chicken kievs

Tuesday
Dinner: spaghetti Bolognese/ spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday 
Dinner: roast chicken

Thursday
Dinner: tacos with leftover mince

Friday
Dinner: chicken curry with leftover chicken

Saturday
Lunch: breakfast burritos 
Dinner: toad in the hole

Sunday
Lunch: spaghetti carbonara
Dinner: Persian chicken with walnut pomegranate sauce from this recipe

Link up your meal plan here:

Friday, 13 April 2018

Oriental Dress Birthday Card

 
I loved Arthur Golden's book Memoirs of a Geisha which I read many years ago, so it was a nice throwback when I saw it had been chosen as the theme for the Library Challenge, which is for crafters who love books.

I had a pack of both outline stickers and die cuts I bought years ago that I never really knew what to do with, in the shape of Oriental dresses and fans. They are quite detailed and large so take up most of a typical card and I was never really sure how to make the most of them.

They seemed just right for this particular card challenge so I decided to make a very quick and simple card using one of the colourful cardboard die cuts. I used a pre-printed card blank which creates quite a busy pattern with the die cut, but the colours and flower shapes are complementary at the same time.

I finished the card with a pink 'special day' sticker.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Car, Map and Signpost Birthday Card



 
I treated myself to the latest issue of Creative Stamping and indulged myself in making a few cards one day while the baby was asleep. There was a large A4 sheet of clear stamps as the free cover gift that had a travel and transport theme - handy to make cards for men.
 
#
I decided to make a version of the card featured on the front cover of the magazine with a few differences. First I stamped the road map rubber stamp multiple times over a white square card blank - you can only tell the pattern repeats if you look closely!
 
Then I cut a border to go around three sides from an old envelope I'd received in the post and kept. Next I used the car stamp and the signpost stamp on red card and cut around them and stuck them onto the card. I stamped the top part of the signpost again so I could cut out two of the arms and use a small adhesive pad to raise them from the card.
 

I used the 'enjoy your birthday' sentiment stamps as on the card on the magazine cover, and mounted them on red card so the colours brought the whole card together. I like this card but unfortunately after making it I can't find the car stamp anywhere - that's the problem with clear stamps!

I'm sharing this with Cardz 4 Guyz where the theme is travel or transport and Craft Stamper where anything goes as long as you use a stamp, Moo Mania where the theme is masculine and Challenge Up Your Life where the theme is vehicles.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 15

Only a day late which isn't bad given my five week old baby is taking up most of my time at the moment!

Monday
lasagne that I batch cooked and froze for me, spicy chicken for my husband

Tuesday
fish cake for me, sausage and mash for him

Wednesday
Cajun chicken and potato wedges

Thursday
chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking in the freezer for me, cheese omelette and chips for him

Friday
chicken goujons for him, scampi for me

Saturday - my sister and her partner visiting (postponed from two weeks ago as their daughter was ill)
lunch - chicken enchiladas
dinner - frozen pizza after our guests leave

Sunday
lunch - either bacon sandwich or pancakes or breakfast burritos depending on what we fancy
dinner - I'd like to do a roast but that would mean buying some meat by Sunday!

Link up your own meal plan here:

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Under the Weather Get Well Card

 
I adored this SugarPea Designs 'whatever the weather' set of clear stamps when I saw it in a card making magazine and put it on my Christmas list - but I hadn't actually used it yet!

That was rectified this weekend when I made a few different cards using the set. The first was this 'get well soon' card - I never have generic cards like this in my folder as I tend to concentrate instead on making cards for upcoming birthdays and special occasions, but it's good to have a few other cards ready as you never know when you will need them.

I took a cream card blank and started by cutting a border from a piece of patterned paper. The paper had different coloured stripes so by cutting a thin piece along the length, I was able to get a little of each stripe, which made for a colourful border pattern.

The other decorations are all from the stamp set - first I positioned the cloud and the raindrops together (they are separate stamps) and stamped them twice at the top, then stamped two umbrellas at the bottom. The stamp set has two umbrella designs, one a block colour and the other spotted; I stamped one in blue and one in pink. The umbrella handle is a separate stamp with a gap in the top that fits over the coloured part, so by using a clear acrylic block you can position it exactly to go either side of the pink and blue parts.

Finally the sentiment which I really like - the typeface is really nice and I'm always looking for sentiment stamps that feature an actual phrase rather than just a word or a straightforward 'get well soon'. This is quite a simple card but I really like the way it has turned out.

I'm sharing this with Crafty Addicts where the theme is April showers, Trimmies Craft Challenge which has 'get well soon' as the topic, and The Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers where 'U is for umbrella', though the sentiment isn't exactly snarky so I hope this counts! I'm also sending it to Addicted to CAS where the code word is rain.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 14

Did you have a nice Easter? It was my husband's birthday so we've had visits from his family on two days; my sister was supposed to visit but couldn't due to car trouble (long story) which was a shame as she hasn't met her niece yet, but hopefully she can come in a couple of weeks. It was nice having some time at home with my husband and daughter who is now four weeks old, though I've realised I have absolutely no plans this coming week and need to do something to make sure I get out of the house!

Here's this week's meal plan:

Monday - bank holiday
Lunch hot dogs
Dinner frozen pizza for a nice easy relaxed day

Tuesday
pad Thai for me, Hunter's chicken for him
 
Wednesday
Dolmio Italian chicken tray bake

Thursday
lasagne from my batch cooking for me, sausage and mash for him

Friday
chicken goujons/ scampi and chips

Saturday
Lunch fresh pasta and garlic bread
Dinner sticky pomegranate chicken

Sunday
Lunch breakfast burritos
Dinner steak and chips
 
Link up your own meal plan:


Saturday, 31 March 2018

Easter Egg Cheesecake

 
Easter is definitely an excuse/opportunity for some nice baking and desserts - almost any recipe can be improved with the addition of mini eggs!

A few days ago I read about a cafe in Wales that was serving cheesecakes made inside Easter egg shells - the article has been circulating on the internet and while I thought it was a great idea, I was almost surprised it hadn’t been done before, as it looks such a simple idea!

In fact so simple that it looked pretty easy to make something similar myself, which is exactly what I decided to do.


I used a basic no-bake cheesecake recipe keeping the flavour plain, as it has the chocolate shell and I was going to add some decorations on top, but you could easily change the flavour of the cheesecake by adding lemon zest and juice, or butterscotch flavouring, or cocoa powder and/or grated chocolate (I did consider the latter but thought it would be too much chocolate), you could even crush up some Easter egg shells or some maltesers or some mini eggs to the cheesecake mix!

You can also make your own Easter egg shell using a mould, which I have done before, but this time didn’t have that much time so bought a cheap Easter egg and used the shell from that. 

Easter egg cheesecakes

To serve two, you need:

One hollow Easter egg shell - I used one from a 141g Mars Easter egg but I think the weight included the Mars bar itself. You don’t want a particularly big egg shell as this is a rich dessert so the sort of small Easter egg aimed at children is probably best

300ml double cream
3 digestive biscuits
25g butter
70g icing sugar
180g tub Philadelphia cheese 
Choc Shot (liquid chocolate in a bottle that's technically for making hot chocolate but can be used for all sorts of things), mini eggs and mini malteser bunnies to decorate - or whatever you like

Unwrap the foil from the Easter egg and place the blade of a sharp knife in a cup of hot or boiling water for a few minutes - this will help cut through to separate the shell into two halves without breaking it. Carefully insert the knife on the join around the easter egg and cut it into two halves.

Crush the biscuits either in a blender or in a plastic freezer bag with a wooden spoon and put to one side. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or in a small pan over a low heat, and when melted stir in the crushed biscuits.

Stand each chocolate egg shell on a plate and spoon half the biscuits into each one.


With a hand mixer, whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then beat in the soft cheese and stir in the icing sugar until combined.

Spoon into the chocolate egg shells and put in the fridge to set.


Decorate however you like - I squeezed some Choc Shot in thin lines over the top and added some Cadbury Mini Eggs and a mini Maltesers bunny.



 

 
I'm sharing this with Cook Blog Share

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Easy Easter Decorated Biscuits


I’m determined not to let having a new baby mean I have to give up my hobbies of baking and card baking but at the moment I definitely have very little time for either! There are lots of things you can make that are quick and easy and take minimal fuss though, like these decorated sugar cookies for Easter.
We had some friends visit for a couple of hours last Sunday afternoon; they had said they would  bring some cake but I also wanted to be able to offer something as well, but didn't know if I would have time to make even a simple cake, and wasn't sure what they were going to bring and didn't want to make the same thing, so cookies seemed the answer.

I already had some biscuit dough in the freezer from a previous recipe pre-baby (which I don’t seem to have blogged about); here's a basic sugar cookie recipe you can use, though you can add other flavourings like a bit of lemon zest or butterscotch flavouring, vanilla essence and so on.

225g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 egg
340g self-raising flour

Cream the butter and the sugar and beat in the egg. Then fold in the flour until you have a pliable dough. Keep in the fridge until you need to use and roll out to use with cookie cutters.

The size and thickness of the cookies will dictate how long they would need to bake in the oven but I would usually give them 8-10 minutes at 180C as they will continue to harden as they cool out of the oven.

I defrosted my dough and used a set of Easter cookie cutters I bought last year (or maybe even the year before) from one of the pound shop chains and had never used. The set included two different bunnies, a chick, and an egg.

 
 
They took no time at all to cut out and bake in the oven and I decided they needed decorating even if I didn't have a lot of time until our friends arrived - or until the baby woke up and wanted feeding again! So I mixed some icing sugar with water and added some different food colourings and did my best to ice the biscuits with a teaspoon (I didn't have time to faff around with piping and flooding properly!) and added a few sprinkles on top.


 
They aren't particularly neat, but tasted good which was the main thing, and the presentation was helped by this cute little felt Easter basket I bought for a couple of pounds in Lidl last year.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Easy Easter Rice Krispie Cakes

Last Easter I did loads of baking and card making and the year before and the year before I made an elaborate anti-gravity Mini Egg cake which I was really proud of (it tasted great too) - here's a quick pic:

This year however I will have a four-week old baby at Easter so I definitely won't be doing anything like that! In fact it's my husband's birthday and I make him a showstopper chocolate cake every year but I knew I wouldn't have time to do anything remotely time consuming and there was a chance I wouldn't even get time to bake a basic sponge cake, so I've enlisted the help of a local lady who runs a baking business and for the first time ever am actually buying a birthday cake rather than making it - which is a bit of a shame but needs must, and I'm sure it will taste great.
 
I was starting to miss baking though especially at Easter so I decided I could just about manage making some rice krispie cakes. I used to love them as a child, and still make them every once in a while now! You can make them look like little nests with the addition of a few mini eggs but I used some Easter marshmallows from Lidl, in the shapes of chicks and rabbits. They are a bit big for the 'nests' perhaps but never mind!

Here's a quick and easy recipe that is fun for children to join in and make with you - just be careful when melting the chocolate.


Makes about a dozen Rice Krispie cakes depending on size
100g Rice Krispies
60g butter, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp. golden syrup
100g milk chocolate

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a bain marie then stir in the chopped butter until melted. Stir in the golden syrup.

Place the Rice Krispies in a large bowl and pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring gently until all the cereal is coated.

Spoon into paper cakes cases and leave to set - they will set at room temperature but you can also put in the fridge.

Decorate with mini eggs or marshmallows or anything you like - or eat them as they are.