Monday, 30 August 2010

Pineapple Upside Cake

I made this cake about a year ago - it might be time to revisit it.  I used tinned pineapple in juice, I plan to try tinned in syrup and fresh pineapple to see what the best option is.  For reference, this one tasted good!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cooking Wednesdays

What did I cook this week? Well...good question. 

I cheated slightly with a premade curry paste but I ignored all instructions on how to use it so I think it's OK. The curry paste was a massaman lamb one.  I boiled both new and sweet potato for 14 and 7 minutes respectively. I then fried the lamb, added the paste once the meat had some colour, added a small tin of coconut cream and then mixed in the potatoes and a handful of cashews. I also added some water, to make the sauce go further, but then I was worried it was too watery so added some leftover creme fraiche from the pea dip towards the end of the cooking. 

The food turned out really good, despite having to wait for our late arriving builder to leave (he seemed oblivious to the fact we were about to have dinner even though I kept clattering plates as loud as I could!)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Pea Dip!

Sainsburys do a great pea, mint and yoghurt dip. I had it once at a party and then spent ages trying to find it in my local store. Turns out that it only seems to appear in the larger stores which means I don't get it very often (which is probably good for my waistline!)

On Tuesday, Ian made Cajun chicken fajitas and to go with the spice, he made a cooling pea and mint dip. It was very easy to make and very yummy, and it had half fat creme fraiche and no mayo and therefore was probably much healthier than the sainsburys version. There was plenty of dip leftover to eat with crisps for a snack so I was very pleased. Yay for Ian!

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Fishers Pond, Eastleigh

Now, this isn't an overly fair review, because we ate here almost a year ago, but whilst going through my photos, I found one I'd like to share, but had to rack my brains to work out where it was from. I remember that we had the tasting platter to start - I remember that it had pigs in blankets, but I'm unsure if the rest of the current tasting platter contents were included. I have no recollection of the mains, but, here are the desserts we had.

Ian had profiteroles, but not the normal kind, oh no, these were GIANT profiteroles.

I had the lemon and blueberry jelly.

I think we'll need to revisit this place for another review just to be fair!

Thursday, 26 August 2010


On a lot of blogs that I read, people make more of an effort to decorate the house for the smaller holidays. I think this is quite normal in America and most of the blogs I read are written by people over there so I guess it makes sense. But I like it. I don't want to just have Christmas decorations, I want to have Easter ones too, and so this year I did. 

It probably started last year with the giant eastery mug that I bought (matches our Christmas mug too), but that's all I had back then. I regretted filling it with chocolate eggs, 1) because it's pretty big so I had to buy lots, and 2) because I ate them all, by myself, in a big chocolate binge! So this year I bought some polystyrene eggs with a plan to paint them all prettily. Stupidly, I bought these at the end of Easter, so didn't finish it. Story of my life really!  At the moment all the eggs are one solid colour, but I'm planning on adding detail before I use them next year. 

The decorations I did have this year were squidgy gel type things that stick to glass, so the random window between my dining room and library turned into my Easter display. The best thing about these is that they came from the pound shop, so it was nice and cheap.  Please ignore the mess in the background (and the terrible quality - I took this on my phone).

I also put my two lindt bunnies on my mantel along with the nesting owls I got for my birthday and my purple flowers Ian got me at christmas.  You'll notice that I forgot to take the photo until after I'd eaten the right ones ears! Oops!

Over the easter weekend I also found these cute chickens at a local craft show, so have added them to my easter decorations for this year.  

I think halloween is the next one for decorating (unless I celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day!)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Let me win this one too!

I'm not greedy or anything.  I just think this is an awesome giveaway - look at all those stamps! I spent time this weekend searching my hobbycraft for some good stamps and they hardly had any, so I could really give all of these a good home.  Fingers crossed for me!

Not made by me!

Over Easter, my mum looked after my nieces so my sister could go to something or other (I forget what).  They had a fun afternoon decorating cakes.  My mum used the throwaway icing bags that we'd bought from Lakeland quite a few years ago, so they had several different colours to play with.  I thought the results were pretty enough to share with you all.

And if you look carefully at the next picture, you'll notice my tradition of always having one cake with a double case as the lucky one seems to have been carried on (not sure if this was intentional though!)

PS. My mum has just informed me that my nieces made the cakes too and even washed up!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Let me win!!

I love the blog world - the generosity of people, with all their giveaways.  This one is definitely worth winning (well, I think they all are) so I'd recommend popping along here to enter too (but only if you promise not to win so I can!!)

I think I should start thinking about hosting a giveaway too - but I'd have to finish something first!!

Barbie Cake

Last weekend was my youngest nieces 5th birthday. It's scary how quickly they grow up. My sister never makes the cake, my mum still always does it. Since my first niece was born, I've always helped (unless the cake calls for marzipan, that's Ian's department!)

This years cake was one of those fun stick-a-barbie-in-it cakes. I like these because I get to rip the legs off the barbie! It's always hard work trying to get the dress to look right, and covering the cake with the icing without it ripping and then working out a way to cover the joins.  This year, barbie got a nice flowery trim to her dress.

My sister wanted to use the barbie cake for both the family party, and the school/other friend party so we made a second cake that we decorated plainly for us to eat.  I ended up spending about an hour putting the hearts in a pattern on the icing my mum piped.  To start with, I only did it on the top two circles.  
My mum suggested adding it to the bottom circle and annoyingly I agreed with her.  I don't ever want to see one of those hearts again! But I think you'll agree it does look better with the hearts on the bottom too.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cooking Wednesdays

In my house, Ian is the chef. He's very good too.  A while back I made the decision to do more of the cooking. One reason was obviously to give Ian a break. The main reason though is that I eventually want to be a stay at home mum, and I wanted to make sure I'd be able to cook while Ian's out at work. 

Since I started cooking (my night is Wednesdays), I've cheated really and cooked the same meals over and over. This wasn't what I wanted to achieve, and Ian kindly pointed that out last week. 

So, from now on, I'll be expanding my repertoire and cooking something new.  My first try was a recipe I found on Mimi's food blog for roasted prawns and tomatoes.  It was pretty simple to make, and was quite nice (I did go a bit easy on the lemon zest as I'm not really a big fan of lemon zest in my dinner - great in cakes though!).  

Ian seemed to like it, although he said he'd have done the tomatoes as they were in this recipe, but then would have fried the prawns in garlic butter to give them more of a kick.  

Friday, 20 August 2010

Baking disaster - scones

In March I decided to make scones - I'm not sure exactly why.  I was clearly in a 'let's make scones and not think' mood because I followed the recipe and decided to ignore my common sense and poor the mix onto the side to knead as the recipe suggested.  If I was smarter, I would have gone 'hang on a minute, this is far too runny, maybe I'll add more flour before doing that' but I wasn't and I ended up with a work surface covered in scone batter (and a Carrie covered in it too!).  I rescued it as best I could, sticking what I could back in the bowl and adding more flour.  I waited until it was a better consistency then tried again.  I didn't have a round cookie cutter, so I used a bell shaped one from my christmas set. I'm not sure these were very successful, they were a little dry, but with a lot of jam and butter, they disappeared soon enough.  I refuse to be beaten though, so expect another attempt in the future. 

Monday, 16 August 2010


We decided to host pancakes night this year at our house as we'd got an 8 seater dining table just before Christmas and wanted to test out how many people we could get round it.  We managed at least 10, if I'd blogged about it sooner, I'd probably have more accurate figures.  

We stocked up on topping, we had ice cream, gingerbread sauce, chocolate drops, ham and cheese for savoury ones, traditional lemon and sugar, butter, nutella, bananas, squirty cream, toffee sauce, strawberry sauce and possibly a few more.  

What I didn't imagine happening was being forced to add blue food colouring to the pancake mix by my craxy friend from uni.  I'm not sure it'll catch on.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

La Parisienne, Romsey

Ian's been working lots recently, and so we've drawn up a four weekly plan that gives me one night a week with him.  Last week was movie night (we saw Toy Story 3).  This week is restaurant night (for those interested, the remaining 2 nights are "board game night" and "games console night").  Clearly we can do more than just these things but this is the plan to ensure I get some quality time with Ian.  

So, on Tuesday we went to La Parisienne - a french restaurant in Romsey.  The menu was quite large and it was hard to chose but eventually we made up our minds. I chose the mussels (what a surprise) and Ian went for the snails. The mussels were good and there were plenty of them but they didn't bring me a spoon for the soupy bit and I got a hand wipe instead of a finger bowl, but that's just me being picky.

Ian's snails came in a cute snail tray, but they were lacking in garlickiness which is a shame as otherwise they'd have been much better.

For mains I decided on the duck confit, Ian on the veal in a sage and lemon sauce.  Ian's veal was vealy good! Sorry, I couldn't resist, but it's not a lie, I was really good, the sauce was creamy but light and refreshing at the same time.

My duck was tasty but not the best duck confit I've ever had, it wasn't as moist as it should be and it came in a funny sauce that I couldn't work out if I liked it or not. Both mains came with sauteed potatoes but no veg, which, if you don't like veg is good, but it wasn't clear you'd need to order veg as well.

Ian decided he didn't want dessert but then ordered the profiteroles and I ordered the lemon tart.  The profiteroles were more cups than rolls and they had ice cream not cream, but Ian seemed to enjoy them (I didn't get to try them, he scoffed the lot).

My lemon tart was quite lemony, but the base wasn't really what I was expecting, it was soft and had a slight cakey feel to it - I was expecting a crisp sweet pastry.  It wasn't unpleasant but it was a disappointment.

Because the menu was so vast, I do think we'll be going back at some point to try something else.

Also, I'd like to apologise for the picture quality, I forgot to take my camera and therefore took photos on my phone (which is ancient).  But, as they're all bad, I don't mind posting one more of the little salt and pepper set - which came in a sweet little basket - well, I thought it was cute anyway!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Stash Additions

If you follow my other blog, you might have seen the cupcake bouquet I made recently for my friend.  To make this, I had to get a few supplies from hobbycraft.  As soon as I enter the store I lose all control, but I'd told myself that I was here specifically for supplies for that project, and no extras (I decided July was "essential spends only" month).  Unfortunately, I saw a whole load of shiny sticky paper rolls for just 20p each, and whilst I had no particular project in mind, I knew it would come in handy at some point.  

For the cupcake bouquet I needed lolly sticks, but instead of getting the small packet, I got 1000 lolly sticks.  It made sense really, as they were practically the same price and you can do tonnes of things with lolly sticks right? As it turned out, I didn't even use any of the lolly sticks, so now I need to think up a good project for them.  But yay for more stash!


I've been looking back through this blog, and as I blog quite a lot about eating out, there are many posts without pictures.  So I was thinking about taking my camera with me to restaurants and taking pictures of the meal.

Do you think it's weird to do that?

If you owned a restaurant, what would you think about someone taking photos of your food?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Birthday Cake - only 7 months late!

Wow, I didn't realise how many things I'd not blogged about until I was going back through my photos from the start of the year.  My birthday is in January so I'm quite late with this post, but having seen the photos, I had to share.

I love victoria sponge cake, it's possibly my favourite kind of cake.  I don't know why, it just is.  Strangely, I'd never made one before so I decided, for my birthday, to give it a go.  Unfortunately, having made my sponge, it snowed.  Meaning that I couldn't get to work and therefore had a whole sponge that I'd have to eat myself.  I didn't manage it and I'm ashamed to say some ended up in the bin.  I waited until the snow had gone and tried again. 

Now, I'm not sure what I made was really a traditional victoria sponge, given that it was topped with cream, but it looks so pretty, and it tasted great although I remember thinking I'd like to try and get the sponge fluffier.  

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Hamper Goodness

I went to a friend (PG) from works wedding back in May.  I wrote about the wonderful food he had here.  Now I'm going to write about the wonderful gift we made him.  We spend a lot of time with PG at work and he sometimes tells us too much about himself.  So far we know that he has a love of hampers (which we think is a bit girly) and he knows more about sewing than he should.  He also is very good at ranting, and we love listening to the things that annoy him (sometimes I think they'd annoy everyone, other times it's just something really funny that only he can find annoying!).

With all of this knowledge we'd been gathering over the last three years, my friend and I decided to make him a hamper.  He supports Pompey FC, and they were playing in the FA Cup Final on his wedding day (they lost) so we managed to get a magnet with the date on.  He's a big James Bond fan, so we stuck some top trumps in too.  He's also a bit of a Eurovision geek, so we added some Eurovision DVD's and badges that we got from ebay.  When they changed the logo of sprite recently, he'd complain every time he saw it (which was quite often as that's all Ian drinks and we have breakfast together every day), so we got a couple of cans of that to add.  At breakfast, PG also has a habit of destroying the stirrer he gets with his tea, so I got a small picture frame, and put one in, with 'In case of emergency break glass' written on it.  He's also very interested in bridges, so we bought a book with lots of bridge pictures in (bridge porn I guess!) but it turns out he already had that one. 

One of the biggest rants PG has ever had was about this other wedding he'd attended where the bride had a brown sash on her wedding dress.  He could not understand it, he complained how horrible it was (I've since seen the photos and I agree, it's really not a good look).  At this same wedding, the napkins that were supplied for the wedding breakfast were paper.  PG seemed outraged that someone would have paper napkins at a wedding.  I agree that it's not very classy, but I don't think I'd be as offended by them if I was in a similar situation.  So, to remind him of these two things, we managed to find some paper napkins with brown stripes! (We didn't want to just put nice things in this hamper after all!).

Now, generally, at a wedding, there is more than one person getting married so we had to put some things in that weren't for PG.  PG's now wife (DL) is also crafty so I chose the most fashionable sewing magazine I could find in WHSmith.  The eurovision gifts were also suitable for DL as she's just as geeky and she also supports pompey.  

As well as all the funny things, we put in several packets of biscuits, some dark chocolate heart lollipops from Hotel Chocolat, some bubbly and glasses.  I spent the day before their wedding making some small hearts out of felt, two of which were embroidered with their initials. 

The hamper all came together nicely, it had a red gingham lining, the hearts were red and white, we'd managed to get some cellophane with red hearts on it, and we had red ribbon round it.  It looked beautiful, and it got a big smile from PG when we arrived at the wedding. 

Catchup time!

I've been going through photos recently, and I've found so many that have reminded me of things I've been up to that I've neglected to tell you guys about.  So, for the next however many weeks (basically until I'm done catching up), I'll blog about something old on Mondays and Fridays.  Hope you enjoy, and sorry for not having shared all this stuff before!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Leftovers - Peach tart

After my dinner party, I had a sheet of puff pastry left over and I was wondering what to do with it.  I also had some overripe peaches in the fridge that I'd forgotten about and the leftover berries from the cheesecake.  So, whilst also trying to make lasagne for the weekend, I decided to make a peach tart.  I sprinkled vanilla sugar over the pastry to make it a bit sweeter, sliced the peaches and laid them on top and added berries at random.  I sprinkled again with vanilla sugar and then used butter on the edges of the pastry.  I baked until it looked done (sorry I can't be more precise but I was multitasking - it's hard work!).

With a bit of ice cream, it was yummy and I felt better about not wasting.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Less Painful Memories

I've been reading a lot of other peoples blogs recently as part of the swapbot blog swaps that I've been doing.  I came across Mimi's blog, The Happy Honeybee and I read about her love of Christmas ornaments, and how a whole box got broken in a house move.  It reminded me of my latest Christmas and the sadness I felt when something similar happened to me.  I've not shared it before, because I was truly devastated, but there's a slightly more happy ending to my story now.  

I'd been making myself a collection of pottery snowmen - painted by me at the local pottery painting shop.  I put them in pride of place, on my mantel - they looked so lovely.  Every year, instead of a card, Ian draws me a nice christmassy scene - this years one seemed to make the perfect backdrop for my snowmen so I placed it behind them on the mantel.  

We had all my family over for christmas this year, and we cooked the bird on our barbecue outside to free up space in the oven for all the trimmings.  As Ian opened the door to outside, a gust of wind caught the backdrop picture, and it fell forward.  All the snowmen were pushed onto the fireplace, smashing into many pieces.  It was a real snowman massacre.  

What made it worse, was that I knew there weren't anymore of the big snowmen left at the pottery shop - their supplier had stopped selling them.  I couldn't replace them and I was heartbroken.  My first christmas in my new home was effectively ruined, but I had a good cry and got on with it as best I could.  Ian tried to superglue as much as he could back together - but there were so many missing shards and it just wasn't the same.  What made it worse was that it was my own stupidity that caused it - it was the hardest lesson to learn. 

Anyway, I did promise you all a happy ending so here it is.  I searched the internet high and low and found a supplier of the pottery snowmen.  I now have 11 unpainted ones sat in my library and 1 that we painted earlier this year to check that it would fire correctly in the kiln at the pottery shop.  So although I killed lots of snowmen that Christmas, I can get back my collection and be more careful with them in future. Oh, and the cute little rudolph on the end of the first picture survived (he fell on the carpet) so I guess that's happy too!

Monday, 9 August 2010

First Ever Dinner Party

Well, not really my first ever dinner party, but the first ever dinner party I've cooked for.  Ian does all the cooking in our house, so when we have friends over, I do all the "Can I get you a drink?" and conversation making, while he cooks lovely three course meals for us all. 

This time, I gave it a go, so I could appreciate the hard work he does.  I did have him on hand for advice and I tried to keep my menu simple, but I was still really proud of myself.  I think it all went off without a hitch because I did as much prepping as I could before they arrived.  

For the starter, I made small puff pastry tart things, topped with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and proscuitto.  This is them before they were baked...

And after...

For the main course, I wanted to go for something not to huge as it was just a week night so three courses was probably a bit much already!  I cooked chicken thighs covered in some nandos rub, baked sweet potatoes and a salad.  I totally forgot to take a picture of this until we were half way through, but I tried to make it look as pretty as I could for you.  

Dessert I had made the night before, a cheesecake (as I've just discovered I can eat these without feeling sick as long as I don't overindulge).  It wasn't your normal round cheesecake, this one was baked in a loaf tin.  I added some water to some jam and reduced into a quick and easy sauce, and then topped with berries.  Ian decided he preferred this cheesecake to my last ones, because I used shortbread for the biscuit base and it was yummier. 

All in all, a definite success!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Work In Progress - Octopus

This is a picture of one of the octopuses I started making last year - I've got two on the go, one pink, one purple.  I was making them to give to my nieces for Christmas, but didn't finish them on time. I really should finish these off as they're so close to being done, all they need doing is their eyes, adding sequins and beads to their legs and then sewing all the legs on.  Hopefully this will shame me into doing it and I can give them as this years Christmas presents!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Weekend of Fun (But no crafting)

Just thought I'd check in and let you know why I've been gone for over a week.  My mum, sister and two lovely nieces came to stay this weekend, so I was preoccupied with tidying my house and then having fun.  We spent the day on the Isle of Wight in the glorious sunshine (I got a little burnt) and I got to make some sandcastles so I thought I'd share them as they're the closest to crafting I've gotten recently!

We also went to see our first 3D movie - Toy Story 3.  I really enjoyed the film, but didn't think the 3D really added much (although it was worth it just to see my niece reaching out trying to grab things from the screen).  If you've not been to see it, I highly recommend it.  

Talking of tidying my house, I've just discovered the following website which tries to create new cleaning habits one step at a time, so we'll see whether that makes a difference.  

Lakeland Wish List

The lakeland catalogue arrived yesterday, and I sat down this morning and started to read it whilst waiting for Ian.  I want so many things (none of which I really need).

  • These cupcake holders are so cute - perfect for transporting cupcakes for lunch at work.  
  • Cupcakes without even turning on the oven - amazing!
  • Somewhere to display all the cupcakes before my work colleagues eat them all (and to allow me to dream I'm in my very own cake shop)
  • Even more nozzles to play with!

I want, I want, I want!!!!