Monday, 15 September 2014

Meal Planning Monday - week 38

We moved house two weeks ago and I've never been so busy in my life. The whole house needs redecorating and we decided to get new wood floors- partly because we think they look better than carpet, and partly because the previous owners carpeted around the wardrobes rather than under them, so the bedrooms have big sections of floor with no carpet! It made sense to repaint the entire house (no small feat) before the new floors are put in, and it made sense to do that before we unpacked, as it's easier to move boxes. So two weeks into living in my dream home, and it's a total wreck!

 We have only finished one room - our bedroom - and are frantically trying to paint downstairs before the new floor is done later this week. It's not just painting the walls - we have to remove the tasteful (ahem) light fittings, take every knob and handle off the windows and doors, paint and then put them back on, paint the ceiling and coving, do the skirting boards then put masking tape all along them so we can paint the walls and not get the paint on the skirting board... that's as well as moving boxes and furniture and regular trips to B&Q to buy more paint. And that's just one room! On the plus side, my lovely new American style fridge arrived today.

So meal planning has gone out of the window - as have meals, on the whole. My boyfriend has to rabbit sit for his mum so is usually having his dinner at her house while I grab something quick at home and then go back to painting. Luckily she's back this week so we can spend some evenings together (painting, of course!) and I do have a couple of evenings out as well. So with the proviso that this meal plan is more subject to change than usual, here's what I've planned:

Monday at choir rehearsal, so I've bought a pizza for my other half

Tuesday Spanish smoked paprika chicken (easier than it sounds, from a new flavour shot from Schwartz)

I'm out at an author panel discussion and book signing that I won a ticket to -  meeting Jane Green and Lucy Diamond

Thursday day off TBC (waiting for confirmation) as the new floors are being done
Dinner burger and chips

Friday day off tbc
Sausage and mash for him, weightwatchers lasagne for me

Saturday I'm out all day at a tea tasting at the V&A then a choir rehearsal. May have to remember to buy something for my boyfriend or he will just skip lunch
Dinner home late from choir and my boyfriend's mum is just back from holiday so we will probably go to see her

Sunday lunch TBA but something quick as we are redecorating (Still!)
Dinner toad in the hole which I keep putting on the meal plan then not making!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Kinder Bueno Cupcakes

 Kinder Bueno cupcake

These Kinder Bueno cupcakes are a delicious treat that recreate the flavours of the Kinder Bueno bar and as an extra treat have a piece of the chocolate bar on top!

I got the idea from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker who made some beautiful Kinder Bueno cupcakes. I changed quite a few elements so I think I can say this is my own recipe of course with a hat tip to Ros- mine are definitely a bit messier!

Have you eaten Kinder Bueno before? I think they tend to be aimed more at children - I remember seeing them a lot when I lived in Germany, and I always thought Kinder was German but actually it is owned by the Italian company Ferrero (as in, Rocher). The bars have a wafer base, a hazelnut cream filling and are coated in milk chocolate drizzled with (I think) dark chocolate.

 Kinder Bueno Cupcakes - an original recipe by Caroline Makes

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcake:
250g butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g ground hazelnuts
125g self raising flour

For the filling:
12 tsp white chocolate spread

For the topping:
250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
100g milk chocolate, melted
12 tsp Choc Shot liquid chocolate
3 Kinder Bueno bars

Preheat oven to 175C. In a large bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar then beat in the eggs.

Fold in the ground hazelnuts and the flour.

 Place cupcake cases in a muffin tin and spoon in equal amounts of the cake mixture. Bake for around 20 minutes until cooked.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When the cakes have cooled, use a teaspoon or cupcake corer to scoop a small amount out of the middle of each cake. Fill each cupcake with 1 tsp white chocolate spread - this gives the lovely white creamy filling you get in a Kinder Bueno. Replace the 'lid' of the cupcakes.

Drizzle with Choc Shot - this is a low GI liquid chocolate that you can find in the supermarket hot drinks and cocoa aisle. Finally top each cupcake with a square of Kinder Bueno. These are so easy to make even children could do them!

I boxed these up in a pretty gift box and gave them to a friend who I was meeting for coffee; she has a husband and four children so six cupcakes were just right!

 I'm sending this to Alphabakes, the blog challenge I co-host with Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker as the letter she has chosen this month is K. I hope she doesn't mind me using her own recipe as inspiration!

Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than is celebrating the first birthday of the Biscuit Barrel challenge so I hope she will like these cupcakes.

The theme for Treat Petite, hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi and Kat at the Baking Explorer is also one year old this month and has as it's theme 'anything goes'. Happy birthday to you!

I am also sending this to the Betta Living bake a cupcake competition. 
You can find details of their #bettabakeoff competition on the link above.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Restaurant review: Canteen, Spitalfields

When you have a new member of your team and he's meeting his new colleagues for the first time, you want to go for lunch somewhere that will cover all the bases. It can be very awkward if you are presented with a menu that has nothing you really like, either because it's very limited, or a bit off the wall, or it's all fish and you don't eat seafood. With this in mind, my colleagues decided to book Canteen in nearby Spitalfields for lunch with our new recruit, and everyone was happy with the choice.

The restaurant is in the covered part of Spitalfields market, so while we sat outside the restaurant, we weren't actually al fresco. Canteen describes itself as a British-led restaurant, with "honest food that is naturally sourced". In keeping with the British theme, there is one entire section of the menu dedicated to pies - the fillings change daily, but there is always a vegetable and meat option. Bar snacks include crackling, Twiglets, pork pie and sausage roll and among the main courses are sausage and mash, fish and chips and ham and cheddar ploughman's. There's even a roast with all the trimmings every Wednesday as well as Sunday It's not all hearty meat though; there is a salad section to the menu, and a grill section which offers chicken and fish. The all-day breakfast menu also looks quite appealing; with bubble and squeak or a fishfinger sandwich you're back to the traditional British theme but there's also eggs benedict, florentine or royale. Puddings - not desserts, note - are also traditionally British in theme, including Eton mess and raspberry and almond trifle.

 I was in the mood for a burger but strangely, that is one thing they don't have. Instead, as I love fish, I plumped for the fish burger with tartare sauce and hand-cut chips (£11). It tasted very good but the fish came in the form of three small pieces in batter - rather than anything burger shaped, and compared to the fish burger I ate at Inn the Park, I thought the batter was unnecessary too. Being three pieces, they kept falling out of the bun; and the bun itself started to break apart as I was eating it. You really want a bun that will hold together when you eat a burger, and when you can't easily pick it up that rather defeats the object. For that reason I wouldn't order it again, though I would go back to Canteen.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Meal Planning Monday 2014- week 37

Lack of internet access at home (it's taking two weeks to install as we've moved) and lack of access to my blog at work means I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately! I didn't want to miss a week for the meal plan but I must apologise for the scrappy nature of this post as I am writing this on my phone!

I'm at a choir rehearsal so taking a sandwich and have bought my boyfriend a pizza

Chicken with a new kind of Mexican sauce I bought

Spaghetti bolognese

I'm off work decorating and supervising the men doing our new floor
Lunch - leftover spaghetti bolognese
Dinner - Chesapeke fish for me, beef burger for the other half

Friday- off work as yesterday
Lunch - TBA
Dinner - I'm going up to London for a friend's birthday drinks so probably need to eat dinner before my boyfriend gets home from work so I might have pasta and he can cook himself something with chips

Brunch - bacon sandwich
Dinner - at a wedding

Back on the redecorating!

Hopefully normal service in terms if planning meals, cooking and generally blogging will be resumed next week!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Slimming World Big Mac In A Bowl

If you're on a diet and missing burgers and Big Macs this recipe is just the thing. I adapted it from one in Slimming World magazine. The idea is that you have all the elements of a burger, without a bun, in a bowl - but you use extra lean or Quorn mince and a lot more lettuce.

Serves 1
 You need:
Fry Light cooking spray
125g Quorn mince (you can also use extra lean mince)
half a red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 whole little gem lettuce or about 1/4 - 1/2 iceberg lettuce
2 gherkins, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced
grated cheese (optional)

For the burger sauce:
2 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise
2 tbsp fat free fromage frais
1 tsp burger mustard
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Spray a pan with Fry Light and fry the mince, red onion and garlic until browned.

Meanwhile mix all the ingredients in a small bowl to make the sauce.

Cover the base of a large bowl or plate with lettuce, add the sliced gherkins and tomato (if using - I left these out) and spoon the mince over the top. Drizzle the burger sauce over the top.

You can also add grated cheese on top though if you want this to be a low-calorie meal either leave it out or use a half-fat cheese!

I wasn't particularly expecting to like this and thought I would feel quite short changed while my boyfriend was eating a burger but I didn't at all, and really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Turning Your Blog Into A Book

Many people who start a blog do it for their own enjoyment, or to document a personal journey, or to share news and photos with family and friends. Others set out to create a popular website, gain followers and become viewed as an expert on their subject, perhaps in the hope of using their blog as a stepping stone to a career as a writer, or a photographer, or other professional in their field.

I fell into the first category and started this blog partly to show my mum pictures of the cakes I was making! I never expected to get so many blog hits, win any awards or become part of such a vibrant blogging community.

As my blog has developed I've spent more time thinking about the kind of posts I write, going on photography courses and generally absorbing tips about blogging. I realised how much I envied certain bloggers who have big followings and are real 'names' within the food blogging community. I can be quite competitive sometimes (sometimes?!) and would love to do something that marks my blog out and shows it's a success - and I suppose the ultimate goal for many a food blogger is to publish their own cookery book.

That was never really my aim but when I saw the Guardian was running another Masterclass - I've already been to one on food writing and photography - on turning your blog into a book, I thought it would be interesting from an almost academic point of view, and I might pick up some tips about blogging, even though I obviously didn't have such lofty ambitions as turning my humble (and fairly rambling) little blog into a book. But by the end of the three-hour masterclass, I had a pitch and a plan to find an agent!

The masterclass featured three speakers with very different types of blogs, one of which was a food blog so that was very helpful. Less helpful however was the fact that all three had been approached by publishers who had stumbled across their blogs, rather than the other way around - it would have been interesting to hear from someone who actively sought out an agent and publisher and pitched their blog. Even so, I jotted down plenty of useful tips, some of which I will share with you lucky people!

Tom Jones had been living in London a few years and was getting bored of visiting the same places; as his friends started to emigrate to Australia he wondered about leaving the capital. When instead he decided to stay, Tom resolved to find new and unusual things to do in the city he thouight he knew. He started the blog for himself to catalogue the things he did or wanted to do; that was in 2008 and now Tom's blog is a popular guide for things to do in London and has spun off two books: Tired of London, Tired of Life: One Thing to Do A Day in London, and Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A Year Of Things To See And Do in England.

Tom's blog posts are short and succinct, often just two paragraphs and a photo, and a new post about something to do is published every day. This was one of Tom's first pieces of advice: readers need to know what they are getting and how regularly. I also try to publish a blog post every day (which are usually written in bulk in advance, as I can't access my blog on my lunchbreak and often don't have time in the evening). I mix up my posts with a regular feature to start the week - Meal Planning Monday - and then try to balance the types of posts between dinner recipes, cakes, restaurant reviews, product reviews etc. So you won't know exactly what kind of post I will be publishing that day, which I think keeps it fresh - and I know not all posts will be of interest to all readers, and most won't come to my blog every day (apart from my mum!) but for those who want to dip in and out, they will hopefully find something they like.

This blog is more factual than opinion, and is not self-indulgent: he tells people useful information and gives them ideas of things they can do that day. I try not to make my food blog too self-indulgent, and write about things that I think will be of interest and helpful to other people, rather than just things I am interested in. But at the same time I want my blog to have a personality and voice, and will only write about things that genuinely interest me - I have to enjoy writing my blog after all.

It can take a long time to see your book in print- Tom said it took three and a half years from starting the blog to releasing the book, and he emphasised that he didn't make much money from it at all (a sentiment that was echoed by the second speaker).

He advised that there is no set formula for book proposals, but it's important to be convincing; send a short-ish document of 10-20 pages (which didn't sound very short to me!) including sample chapters, a description of the format the book will take and why you think it will sell.

The second speaker was Helen Graves, who started the Food Stories blog as "a bit of everything"- food, recipes, restaurant reviews, with a focus on Peckham where she lives. She then decided to narrow the focus and settled on recipes, and started a spin-off blog where she reviewed sandwiches and shared sandwich recipes. It was this blog that attracted the attention of a publisher, and Helen was asked to write a book of sandwich recipes called 101 Sandwiches.
She was then asked to write a second book called Cook Your Date Into Bed, a collection of recipes for lovebirds (after all if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach...) but admitted that it was a bit "off brand" in that it wasn't directly related to her blog. She now has a third book in the pipeline.
Helen recommends making sure your blog has a focus - which is definitely somewhere that I fall down. Still, I like to think my readers want a bit of everything food-related, and I throw in the occasional craft post as well, on the basis that this blog is called Caroline Makes. And occasionally (though rarely, due to lack of time) I make a gift for friends, decorative item or a birthday card, as well as cakes. "Find your voice" was Helen's second point, and I think that what my blog lacks in focus, it does make up for in voice. 
Part and parcel of this is, when pitching your idea to a publisher, is to define your potential reader, identify the competition and promote yourself. At the same time, it is annoying for other people (both on social media and in real life) if you tirelessly self promote. 
On the technical side, Helen advises using Google Analytics to find out where your readers are coming from (both geographically and what they are searching for) so you can offer them what they want, and build on your most popular posts. Good navigation around your blog is important to make it user-friendly and to get people to read other posts. 
Most importantly, carry on with your blog for enjoyment, not just as an end to getting a book deal. Even if that's your ultimate ambition, blogging should be fun.
Patrick Dalton is a real rags to riches (well, success rather than wealth perhaps) story. After being made redundant he sat in the British Library every day trying to write a novel, but spent more time on Facebook. He spent his lunchtimes wandering around taking photos of misspelled signs, bad puns, anything that grabbed his attention and made him laugh. One Friday night in response to a facebook group called "Secret London", which encouraged users to share recommendations for hidden gems, he set up a group called "Shit London" and posted some of his photos. By Monday, the group had hundreds of followers and it snowballed from there. Britons love to moan and poke fun at themselves so his site really caught on- and also caught the attention of a publisher. A few years later, Patrick has had five books - Shit London, Shit London 2, Rude London, Shit New York, and Greetings from Oz (I think the Australian publishers were missing the point slightly). He has also had an exhibition in a gallery of photographs from the books.
Patrick's presentation was mostly going through slides of photos from the books, which were hilarious, than giving advice for getting published. Still, a lot of information came across in terms of how to develop an idea and the kind of work that needs to go into maintaining a successful blog. While I probably gained least useful information about getting published from Patrick, I did enjoy his session the most.
So there you have it - how to turn your blog into a book, as told by three people who had done just that. It was a shame all three had been approached by publishers rather than actively pitching their blogs, but nonetheless they had a lot of good advice and it was a really enjoyable evening. And if you'll excuse me, I just need to write my pitch to that publisher....

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Butterfly Tea Birthday Card

I like this pretty, girly birthday card. I had some printed backing papers with pictures of cake and afternoon tea, and cut out a rectangle slightly smaller than the card I was mounting it on. I added an outline edging sticker around each side to make a frame, and then two 3D butterfly stickers - the wings lift up and stand out from the card- in two corners. Finally a 'happy birthday' outline sticker and the card is complete.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Food 'n' Flix: Funny Girl


I've never been one for classic movies - Bond films from the 1980s are about as far back as I go. So there are countless era-defining films that I have never seen, and household-name Oscar-winning actors I have never seen perform. For instance, I'd never seen a Barbra Streisand film - not Funny Girl, nor Yentl, nor The Prince of Tides, and not even Meet the Fockers (thank goodness).

I'm a big fan of Glee (or rather was, it went off the boil a bit in the last series) and loved the performances Lea Michele as Rachel Berry gave of Don't Rain on My Parade, from Funny Girl, in season one. She performs plenty of other Barbra songs throughout the seasons and in the most recent series, she is cast as Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl. I liked all the songs I'd heard from Funny Girl as Rachel rehearses and was really curious about the musical itself, so decided to rent it on DVD.

It's amazing how much Lea/Rachel looks like Barbra Streisand and watching the original Funny Girl having seen elements of it in Glee was great - I felt like I knew the story a little bit already and didn't expect it to be a patch on the modern Glee version but in fact I absolutely loved it. I think you have to be a fan of musicals to enjoy it though!

So Funny Girl is my chosen film for Food 'n' Flix, which I am hosting this month.
Without giving too much away for those of you who want to participate in Food 'n' Flix but haven't seen it yet, the film begins with American wannabe star Fanny Brice auditioning for her first role on the stage. She falls in love and while her career takes off her relationship has its ups and downs.

To take part in Food 'n' Flix this month, I want you to cook something inspired by the film. It can be a direct reference to the film - something that the characters eat - or a line from the film. Fanny, describing herself as something of a misfit, says: "I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls!".

Eating dinner with Nick, he orders "filet de boeuf, sauce bordelaise".

Fanny: I would have ordered roast beef and potatoes.

Nick: I did.


Fanny: If I can't tell when you're ordering roast been and potatoes, how will I know when you're making advances?

Nick: You'll know. I'll be much more direct.

Your dish can also be inspired by the location (New York and Baltimore), the era (around World War I), the world of vaudeville and theatre, the cruise ship Fanny and Nicky travel on, their wedding, or indeed any of the songs from the musical. Really, anything that inspires you whether it has a direct or indirect link with the film.

I've been so busy for the past few months with selling my house and buying one with my boyfriend, then moving in and unpacking, that I haven't had a chance to think about what I'm going to make yet!
How to participate in Food 'n Flix:

   1. Watch the chosen film Funny Girl.  Taking inspiration from the film, head into the kitchen and cook or bake or make something.

    2. Post about it on your blog with a link back to THIS post and a link to Food 'n Flix.  Use of the logo is optional.

    3. You must post during September, preferably by the 25th. And of course we don't mind if your post is linked to other events...the more the merrier.

   4. Have fun with it!

    5. Email your entries to me and include

                     ~Your name
                     ~Your blog's name and URL
                     ~The name of your dish and the permalink to the specific post you're submitting
                     ~Attach a photo of any size (or just give me permission to "pull" one from your post)
                     ~Indicate "Food 'n Flix Submission" in the subject line

    Deadline for submission is: September 25
*watch for the roundup to be posted shortly after this deadline!

Meal Planning Monday 2014 - Week 36

Very rough this week as we have just moved into our new house, are in the middle of redecorating and haven't got internet access, so I'm doing this on my phone!

I'm at a choir rehearsal so my boyfriend will go to his mum's

Out at an iPhone photography lesson, goodness knows I need it!

Spaghetti bolognese

I have to work late tonight so won't be home for dinner

garlic and herb chicken with mashed potato

lunch- bacon sandwich for him, macaroni cheese on toast for me
dinner -  TBA something quick as we will be decorating but my mind is blank right now!

lunch- baked potato
dinner- toad in the hole

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Alphabakes 2014 Roundup: P

I've been pretty busy this month moving house twice- we sold mine at the beginning of August, but the people whose house we were buying refused to complete until the end of the month, so we stayed with my boyfriend's mum for three weeks. So between putting all my stuff in storage and trying not to make a mess of someone else's kitchen I haven't done much baking this month! Luckily there are plenty of you who were able to and it was great to see so many entries in a summer month when perhaps you are away on holiday or it's too hot to put the oven on.

My mum makes a cake every week almost all year round so this month was no change; here is Jacqueline's peppermint sponge. There is peppermint flavouring in both the sponge and the icing.

She also sent a savoury dish, a prawn and smoked fish pie. I love fish pie and this looks like it has cheese melted on top... yum!

I went for something very summery after treating myself to Lakeland's new sandcastle cake mould. I thought about what flavours would best represent the beach and went for pineapple and coconut, and decorated the sandcastle with candy melt sea shells (also using a Lakeland mould) and sprinkled golden caster sugar around the edge. So here is my pineapple and coconut sandcastle cake.

Keeping it in the family, the next entry was from my sister Clare. She made cherry profiteroles - I've only ever come across chocolate ones before but think these sound - and look - great. Clare said that the recipe was supposed to make 12 but she only ended up with 6, so they are quite big!

My Alphabakes co-host Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker was also packing to move house this month, so like me wanted to get her entry in early, though it now looks like she will be completing on her house in September. She said she baked this and had it up on the blog within an hour! Having recently seen the Great British Bake Off contestants make swiss rolls I think Mary and Paul would be pleased with the spiral on this spiced pumpkin and cream cheese swiss roll.

 Our next entry comes from Kerene aka The Dream Baker, who made Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes. She explains that pandan is "an aromatic tropical plant that is used widely in Southeast Asia cooking as flavouring (through the use of its leaves or extracts). Pandan is the star component (flavour) of these cupcakes that never fail to remind us of our home, our Singapore!" She now lives in the US and was unable to get fresh pandan leaves so instead created this recipe using pandan essence. Kerene says these are soft and fluffy and I love the colour!

Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker realised she had already baked something that began with P, but not blogged about it yet, so now was the perfect time. And these dark chocolate and peanut butter cornflake cookies look divine. Ros made them with ingredients a friend brought back from America - which reminds me, my boyfriend's mum is going in a few weeks and I need to put in an order!

Peanut butter is also the 'p' ingredient in these super nutty granola bars, from Manpreet at Healthy Eats For All. She has experimented with different combinations to make snack bars that are filling, tasty and healthy and points out they need to be the right texture to actually hold together as a bar. I think she has done a really good job!

These beautiful pear and chocolate puddings come from Jean at Baking in Franglais, based on a recipe by Rachel Khoo. Jean says the puddings had a gooey middle and the flavour of treacle, one of the ingredients, really came through. These would be a lovely way to finish off a dinner party.

More chocolate now in these Overloaded Chocolate Party Brownies from Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... She made them as a treat for colleagues at the end of a work placement - lucky people! These contain Malteaser Bunnies, Minstrels, Munchies and Nuteella - no wonder she calls them overloaded!

 More party food! Here's Kate, the Gluten Free Alchemist, with her marshmallow party bites. They are very simple to make and you can decorate them any way you like, dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkles or sweets. They would be very popular at a children's party and I think with adults as well!

It's nice to not have to put the oven on when you want sweet treats sometimes in the summer, so these no bake chocolate and peanut butter pinwheels from Stuart at Cakeyboi are just the thing. What's more, he says they contain no 'bad fats' or refined sugar so they are a bit higher up the healthy scale than they might be!

Sarah at Tales From the Kitchen Shed made these simple but perfectly formed pitta breads. I made pittas on a cookery course a few months ago and was amazed at how they puff up in minutes in the oven. She gives loads of helpful tips for how to make them and recommends using them for chicken kebabs - yummy!

A triple-P entry from Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog with this Purple Plum Pizza. The base is made of pizza dough with the addition of white chocolate and it's topped with homemade plum jam, plums and walnuts. A really creative idea and I bet it tastes delicious!

 A traditional favourite from Suelle at Mainly Baking - pineapple upside down cake. But she's given it a modern twist by using coconut milk and lime in the sponge, for a really summery flavour.

 Here's another upside down cake, the second entry from Kate aka The Gluten Free Alchemist. She made this savoury summer upside down cake - that's right, a savoury cake. The sponge is made from polenta and it's topped with tomatoes, yellow and orange peppers, olives and sweetcorn. I can just imagine sharing this on a picnic and I think it's a fantastic idea!

Another one from my co-host Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker (I thought she was busy moving house - I'm glad she still found time to bake!). This pear and walnut cake has a caramel topping and would be a great way of using up fruit that is a bit too soft.

Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen was forced to harvest some runner beans after bad weather destroyed the plant and made a savoury Sri Lankan Chilli Coconut Runner Bean pie. She says it has heat from the chilli and sweetness from the coconut and is certainly different. She has been quite clever in pointing out that phaseolos coccineus is the Latin name for runner beans so is using that as her P! Runner beans are also known as pole beans in some parts of the world so that definitely counts.

P is for pumpkin seeds this month over at Vohn's Vittles. They feature in this spiced courgette loaf which would work as much for afternoon tea as it would for breakfast. It looks pretty healthy and very tasty!

Another savoury entry: this grilled veggie lasagne with wild garlic pesto was produced by Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. It's a great way of using storecupboard ingredients including tinned vegetables, and Elizabeth says this is one of the best lasagnes she's ever made. There are plenty of Ps in this- tomato puree, parsley, red and yellow peppers and of course the garlic pesto.

This peach and bramble meringue slice from Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen came about to use up egg whites from another recipe; she picked the blackberries (brambles) from her farm and says the fruit adds a soft lusciousness and the meringue a light crispy texture. I'm keen to try this one!

Another rustic countryside style cake now: Linzi from Lancashire Food has made this plum and cornmeal cake with plums from her own tree. The cake is gluten free and needs little embellishment or decoration other than a light dusting of icing sugar. It looks like the kind of cake you need when you've been working outdoors in the garden all day.

Corina at Searching for Spice made these parmesan and basil thins inspired by biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. They are cheesy and crispy and I think would be just as good eaten on their own as they would be eaten with cheese.

Here are some more savoury cheese biscuits, from Fiona at Sweet Thing You Make My Heart Sing. She's treated us to these pecorino biscuits, again inspired by the Great British Bake Off. They also have pumpkin seeds on top, and look very tasty. She's also celebrating handing her thesis in - congratulations, Fiona!

The first of two last-minute entries from me now which I blogged at the end of the month. I've often had physalis as the decoration on a dessert in restaurants but had never eaten it; I bought a bagful in the supermarket for only £1 so decided to incorporate it into a cake. The result was deliciously moist, probably thanks to the yogurt, in this physalis cake on Caroline Makes.

 I also made a passion fruit and mango puree bread pudding (also featuring mixed peel), inspired by Penny's Passion Pudding from a book called Sweet Nothings by Sheila Norton. It was an unusual and delicious take on the traditional dessert.

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe used potato flour for this gluten-free pastry, which she used to make an apple slice and some sausage rolls for her niece's party. Both of them look delicious and from the other photos it looks like they had a really fun day!

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And finally, a great cake to end the roundup on as it comes from my co-host Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker . Ros is a huge fan of peanut butter and made this chocolate and peanut butter cake using Reece's Cups. It has a layer of peanut butter inside and I've already bookmarked it as one I want to make!

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 Check out her blog on September 1st to find out which letter we are baking with next month!

Thanks to everyone who entered, see you soon!

  • Malteaster Bunnies, roughly chopped
  • Approx 75g Minstrels, roughly chopped
  • Approx 75g mini Munchies
  • Approx 50g Minstrels, whole
  • Nutella, to finish
  • - See more at:

    Saturday, 30 August 2014

    My Front Door and My New Life

    My boyfriend and I have spent the last six months trying to buy a house. I say trying, because everything that could go wrong, did go wrong - between the vendors and our solicitor who equally appeared to dither, delay, they said they had sent things when they hadn't, and right before we exchanged it seemed like the vendors might have changed their minds (and on the day of completion, our solicitor got their bank details wrong so the money nearly didn't go through). That's not to mention the fact that the vendors drew out the process so much that our mortgage offer actually expired and we only secured an extension at the last minute.

    Still, we persevered and had to push through the sale of my house, and ended up moving in with my boyfriend's mum for three weeks until our vendors were willing to complete on their sale. Everything went into storage - several times when I wanted to cook something, I realised the pan I needed was over at Big Yellow and it wasn't worth the trip to go and get it (not that I knew exactly which box it was in anyway!).

    Finally we were able to move into our new house, which really is my dream home. It has four bedrooms, a double garage and is in a private mews road which has no through traffic so is perfect for my cat! Best of all though is the kitchen - a huge open plan area, with a modern induction hob, room for an American-style fridge-freezer (which we are going to order!), space for a dining table and there's a built-in a breakfast bar, where my boyfriend can sit and chat as I cook. The utility room just off the kitchen has more cupboards and will be the perfect place to store my baking and cake decorating equipment. I feel like the last six months have been a real slog, but worth it!

    The vendors left the house in quite a state - every wall had holes and marks from pictures that had hung there for years, and we discovered that in some of the bedrooms, they had only carpeted as far as the furniture, so now they had taken the wardrobes, there are now huge sections of floor with no carpet and only grotty floorboards. So that's more money we have to spend.... but it does mean we can decorate the house how we want. We've only been there two days and we have already painted half our bedroom - it made sense to redecorate before we really unpacked.

    One of the first things we did was change the front door locks of course - you never know who has keys - and bought a Yale lock from B&Q which was really easy to fit and only cost about £10. So we have security and peace of mind, even if we haven't unpacked yet.

    So my front door - my brand new front door, to a house I have only lived in for two days - represents a whole new life for me and my boyfriend. It's our first home together, and has enough bedrooms that we can welcome friends and family to stay - and there is plenty of room if we decide to start a family of our own. My front door is really important to me, as it's a symbol of what I have worked so hard for and wanted for so long. At least, it will be once we have replaced the door, as I'm not keen on the stained-glass effect front - or the doorbell that plays the Lone Ranger theme tune!

    This is my entry to the Yale Door blogging competition.