Thursday, July 29, 2010

More baked goods!

Today, I've been mostly eating cake. So, I'll post a couple of healthy breakfast muffin recipes that have been developed in an attempt to make me feel less guilty about needing said cakey things to fuel my baby bump (which, just in case you're wondering, is rather large and starting to be uncomfortable at 25 weeks/6 months). They both stemmed from the fact that I didn't have certain ingredients for a recipe that I'd found on-line, and I improvised with what I had in the cupboard/fridge. The basic recipe was this:

  • 300g plain wholemeal flour
  • 50g rolled porridge oats, plus extra for decoration
  • 3 heaped tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g raisins
  • 50g pecans, chopped
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 150ml natural yogurt
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 small apples, grated
  • 1 medium carrot (100g peeled weight), coarsely grated
To Decorate
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds


Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Lightly oil a non-stick muffin pan with 12 large cups (or two six-cup pans) (Or use muffin cases, like I did!)

Sprinkle with oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or not), and bake for 20 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then cool on a rack. Eat when still warm.

You can prepare the dry and wet ingredients the night before. Combine the two in the morning and you'll have a fresh-baked breakfast."

The ingredients are many, but I love the fact that you just sling them all together and give them a bit of a stir. The first time, I didn't have apples, so I put pears in, and substituted the raisins and apricots for dried dates and figs, chopped into tiny pieces. I didn't have pecans and didn't want the seeds on top, so I just put pine nuts into the mix. I also left a bit of the sugar out. Ta da!

These were really lovely, and inspired me to think of what else I could put in to up the "healthiness" factor. Have a guess. Go on....

Change the carrot for beetroot, and keep the apple. Swap the raisins and apricots for figs and dates again, and all the seeds and nuts for the pine nuts, and you get these:

Even more delish. I promise! If these are a bit too healthy for you, just wait two ticks, and read on...

August is a manic birthday month for me, with 10 all in the first two week, and four of those are in my direct family! As well as the birthday party for the first-born next weekend, Mr Love_Crafts has also requested various chocolatey treats in order to celebrate his birthday, which is this weekend.
So, after my little cupcake adventure a couple of weeks ago, I found a buttercream recipe that fitted my concept of icing much better than the cream cheese abomination that curdled (see here if you have no idea what I am on about). I perked this and the cake base up with a bit of fairtrade cocoa, and le voila as they say.

I also made jams and rocky road, but seeing as those are neither baked nor as pretty, I shall leave them out!

So tell me, if you're still here... does the thought of beetroot muffins appeal to you?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Well, cupcakes, to be precise. It's fast approaching the day where I sweat and toil to make my darling daughter's 3rd birthday most memorable. It's also the first birthday party I have ever organised. It may only be 6 toddlers and their respective parents (hopefully just one half of the full set), but I am a bit concerned.

So I've been practicing. DD has requested cupcakes. And I've never made them before. Plenty of muffins, pies, quiches, cakes, blah de blah, but never cupcakes. And seeing as the only bit she ever eats is the icing, then I need to get that right! So here is our joint effort:

I thought I'd get the guests to decorate their own cupcakes with sprinkles etc. This might give the 3 boys a chance to escape the pink-fest that the party shows signs of becoming. I swear I have been as non-girly, colour-neutral as I am myself with DD, but she still professes that pink is her favourite colour. I blame society. And Peppa Pig.

And the taste test?

Believe it or not, that's a happy grin. She just had a mouthful of the icing and didn't want to swallow it too quickly!

But my favourite one is this (perhaps because it looks most like pictures of other ones I've seen):

The close-up shows that the cheese/butter icing thing has curdled a little, not sure what I did wrong. It did taste lovely though. But I'd like to get it smoother, so any tips would be gratefully received.

What did you get up to today? Do tell ;)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yes, yet another project...

...but this one was planned before. I just could not resist when I found this yarn at £1.99 a ball, half price. £1.99, for cashmere/merino/silk!! (and I rarely use two exclamation points).

I have decided to make the DD a bedspread for those oh so chilly nights that will no doubt be upon us by the time I've finished it (though having said that, it is coming together rather quickly). I just couldn't resist these colours:

and Iz was pleased too, when she saw them. She said she liked the colours, and then, without prompting, she said "and I like the pattern too". (Warning: Proud parent alert) And she's not even 3 yet.

It is a wonderful ripple/zigzag/wave that I found here. It only took me two nights to crochet 6 inches of about 5 foot width. I figured if I crocheted a cover for a single bed, then it'd last her a long while. Even though the yarn was cheap, it still cost £56 to purchase. She's worth it :)

I've nearly finished the new pastel cotton baby blanket of granny squares, I've been commissioned to make a scarf for a blog reader (you know who you are, I've got the yarn and will start it soon!), and THAT bedspread is still lurking. I've discovered a new way to sew the squares together, and I'll blog about that in the next few days or so. Promise!

But what's made me smile much more than yarny loveliness is that Iz wanted to crochet with me. I can see I'm going to have to let her have her own hook to pretend with, until she gets to the stage where she'll let me show her how to do it the proper way. And then I really will be smiling!

What makes you smile? Do tell :)

What did you do last weekend?

I made this:

A real, honest-to-goodness book. With a ribbon bookmark and everything:

Totally from scratch. Well, from fabric, greyboard, paper, ribbon, thread, glue, and a few specific book-bindy bits. Including the stripey bit that protects the book when you pull it off the shelf...

Can you see it there? That's how you know it's a proper book. That, and the fact that I STITCHED the pages together, and glued them too, so that they fan out like this:

In a word, "amazing". It was the best £25 I've ever spent. 6 hours of a bookbinding course, and I can guarantee that this will be the first of many books that I make, in varying sizes, patterns, paper types and so on. And what will I do with them all, I hear you ask?

Why, line them up on shelves and look at the oh so pretty patterns on the covers.

I may even give a couple away. May.