[DIY Christmas] Chocolate covered coffee spoons

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I don’t know about you guys but I’m definitely starting to feel the sluggish-winter-hibernation mode kick in these last few days where getting out of bed has been quite the chore and the days just seem to go on forever. And all I keep wanting to do is curl up under my duvet and sleep until it’s Spring – which is SO not like me! But I guess that’s part and parcel of the winter months. So to aid the cozier evenings (and to get myself in on the festive cheer), I decided to make quite the mess in the kitchen to conjure up this sweet Christmas DIY treat I have for you today. I must say, I’ve never had the flat smell of chocolate so much but hey, I’m not complaining!

Now, if like me, you love a bit of coffee or chocolate indulgence when winding down at winter then you’ll probably like these simple yet decadent ‘coffee spoons’ which really does add another dimension to your hot drinks! It’s like a BIG festive hug-in-a-mug! :D AND they make great little favours and stocking fillers too! I can’t take full credit for these ideas as I did stumble across it online somewhere last year and have always been meaning to try them out…..so please do join me in this chocolatey mess!! It’s well worth it, I promise you!

What you’ll need:

  • chocolate (dark, milk and white)
  • coffee granules
  • decorative treats that dissolve! (mini marshmallows, caramel pieces, chocolate chips, crushed mint, sugar sprinkles….whatever you fancy!)
  • plastic or wooden spoons
  • baking or wax paper
  • microwave-safe glass bowl

MbM_chocspoons_01Take your chocolate bar and break them up into smaller pieces into your glass bowl. Zap it in the microwave for a couple of minutes – just keep an eye out during this process as you don’t want to cook up the chocolate but enough heat to melt it. Alternatively you can place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir the chocolate until it’s all melted. I’m big on dark chocolate and personally do think it works better with coffee and chocolate drinks…..and it’s less sweet particularly as you’ll be covering it with sweet decorative sprinkles later! Also, you can pick up some amazing flavoured dark chocolate if you want to go for a bit of sophistication; Green & Blacks do some yummy ones!

So once the chocolate is melted, add some coffee granules (and if you fancy, a dash of whisky, brandy or orange liqueur!) and mix it in gently so you you’ve got a bit of texture to the mixture. Dip you plastic spoons in, twirl it around and scoop up enough chocolate-coffee mixture to cover the entire spoon. This is messy so don’t worry too much about how it looks. Lay them out on a tray of baking/parchment paper until you’re done covering all your spoons. Then put them into the fridge for 10 mins to harden up completely

Just before you take your spoons out from the fridge, prepare your sweet station so they’re at hand to decorate with. Also, melt some milk and/or white chocolate which you’ll use to dip the spoons in for decorative purposes and of course this acts as your ‘glue’ for the sprinkles to adhere to! :) When the chocolate is melted and ready, take each spoon and dip…..you can either give a light coat all over or dip it half way or at an angle like I did. Then embellish it with your sweet sprinkles of choice. Once again, set these aside in your fridge for another 10 minutes.
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So that’s it really – you’re chocolate covered coffee spoons are ready to use! I’ve obviously tested mine out a couple of times and its DELISH. They go really well with your hot chocolates and hot coffees to create this amazing mocaccino/cafe mocha deliciousness …or if you want something a bit more light, stir it into a mug of hot milk! I must say my favourite ones have been the marshmallow and crushed mint candy ones but of course you can add less sweet things like spices; ranging from ground ginger to cinnamon to nutmeg. It really is open to whatever it is you fancy….as long as they dissolve! :)

I do hope you’ll have a go at these. They’re ridiculously simple and soooooooo worth it!! Enjoy, your hot cup of deliciousness and let me know how you get on with your scrummy coffee spoons!

xxx

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MbM_chocspoons_12 [Image credit: ©MadebyMolu]

[From the Kitchen:] Going green for St. Patrick’s Day

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all you Irish folk! Im pretty sure you’ve had an early start of celebrations this weekend especially with Ireland winning the 6 Nations – what a fab way to add to all the fun and frolics!

Well, I’ve got a rather unconventional St.Patrick’s Day blog post but it is green nonetheless! ;) I’ve been drinking a lot more smoothies since the start of this year, green ones in particular, so that I’m topped up on my nutrients, antioxidants and fibre all in the hope that I improve my health, energy levels, weight  and mental clarity! While I tend to have a decent healthy diet, there’s still a lot more green veggies and fruits I probably don’t taken enough of so this was a way to get me to up my intake of those. If you follow me on IG, FB or Twitter, you’ve probably seen many posts on this new daily ritual and it’s because I’ve had many people ask me what goes into these smoothies that I’m writing this post…..and perhaps a bit of irony thrown in too seeing as this would be a start contrast to what would probably be consumed on St.Patrick’s Day! ;)

MbM_Green-Smoothies_ingredientsSo here’s what I would put into my daily green smoothie which is normally my mid-morning intake – bear in mind that there are many versions out there but this is what I’ve learnt to love and have altered it slightly on days when I may be out of a couple of the ingredients. The two main ingredients are however, spinach and kale which I take at least a handful of each and put it into a jug. Then I’d add one banana, one kiwi (or an apple), a bunch of blueberries (these can be frozen ones if you want are conscious of your pennies plus it makes it super chilled) as your sweetening elements along with some fresh ginger and a pinch of nuts (like pumpkin or pine) for a bit of texture. Then add your liquid base like juice or almond milk to avoid this drink being one thick gunk. For this smoothie combination of mine, I just add a dash of orange orange or cranberry juice. Blitz it all up together either using an electric hand blender or a juicer until it becomes pretty smooth. Add more juice if you feel it’s still too thick. Et voila! Oh SOOO scrummy!!

MbM_Green-Smoothies_1MbM_Green-Smoothies_2 MbM_Green-Smoothies_5  [Image credit: ©MadebyMolu]

Other variations which I’ve tried are spinach and kale with celery, cucumber, fresh ginger and green tea!The main thing to remember the THREE main parts:

your leafy greens  +  your fruits  +  a liquid base

What you add to that is simply down to personal choice. Happy smoothie-ing and I hope you enjoy a much healthier approach to your life!! xx

[From the Kitchen]: Granny McB’s Soda Bread

DSC_3751-WEBI had hoped to make this bread last weekend since returning from my trip to Ireland but with work taking over I just never got round to doing so! That being said, it turns out this weekend is actually quite apt for this particular type of bread which is why I am keen to share it with you all. My father-in-law makes some lovely breads and the most famous one being the Irish Soda bread which he learnt from his mother – a recipe that was passed down through many generations. I’ve had it on many occasions while over to visit them so I told myself that I just had to learn it from him…..and so I did! :)

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread-WEBThis is the first EVER bread I’ve made (yes, shocking I know!) so understandably I was quite nervous about making this (albeit excited too!) and not wanting to disappoint my father-in-law by ruining their family’s recipe! :P Now, I know there are different variations of the Soda Bread recipe available online but this one has been in the family for many years and I soon learnt, while eagerly taking notes, that the measurements were all done by eye! So while my father-in-law made it look so easy that Sunday afternoon, I took my time making sure I adhered to all the notes I took down and this is how it turned out….

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread2-WEBTo make this bread all you need is roughly 500g self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1tsp of baking soda), 250ml of Buttermilk (I didn’t have this so mixed 1tbsp/15ml Lime Juice to the whole milk), a pinch of salt, 1tsp of sugar and some sultanas (I used dried berries & cherries). You then mix all the dried ingredients together, pouring in the buttermilk a bit at a time until you knead it into a smooth dough. Make sure the dough isn’t too wet. Then butter a loaf tin on all sides and add a bit of flour to it too just to ensure that the bread doesn’t stick to the tin. Then place the dough into the tin so it roughly fits the shape of the tin. Keep a slight gap around the edges so there’s room for expansion! I added a bit of oat grains on the top for texture and then using a knife I added a cut lengthways along the top. Bung this into the preheated over for 30-45mins or until it goes golden brown and then leave it out to cool. And voila!  It goes sooooo well with homemade jam and tea!! :)

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread3-WEBI must say I was pretty delighted to find that I hadn’t burnt the bread!! And then I let my husband be the guinea pig to test my bread……and after roughly 10 seconds of quietly chewing away at the bread he gave me the biggest smile! I got the thumbs up – yess!! I tucked in to it myself and was super pleased at the way it turned out!! I totally feel proud as punch!! :D Lets hope my father-in-law agrees when he sees this post come through! ;) So anyway, this is dedicated to my wonderful father-in-law for taking the time out to share this recipe with me (especially after taking me on as a daughter last year – you have no idea what you’re in for haha!). I look forward to many more occasions to bake, break and eat more bread with you!! ;) Happy Father’s Day!! xx

[From the Kitchen] Bailey’s laced cupcakes with frostings & marshmallows

After seeing a few tweets on folk stewing over what to bake/make for blognic event (the day before) I frantically decided to rummage through the kitchen for ingredients that would help dictate what to make myself. I eventually decided on some cupcakes thinking “that shouldn’t be too hard to whip up” but having had a disastrous round in the kitchen late in the evening (NEVER AGAIN will i do last-minute baking!!) I managed to put together an edible bunch the second time round to take with me to the picnic! So using the same recipe I used for my St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes, the Bailey’s infused cupcakes were topped with chocolate frosting and marshmallows (the latter was an alternative option to my initial plan of strawberries which I realised quite late that I had none left in the house!). blognic-cupcakes blognic-cupcakes-3

[Books] Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

Okay, so I’m knee-deep in the middle of spring cleaning and to treat ourselves after a good day’s work of giving our place a good sprucing up I was thinking of whipping up something from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible (love her and her book!). The only problem is…….I haven’t a clue what to pick from as they all look sooooooo delicious!! So here’s a few I’ve narrowed down to……which one shall I go for? xx

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[From the Kitchen] Easter eggs!

BLOG_STRIP Easter Goodies1WEB Next up….chocolate Easter eggs! :D

What you’ll need:

  • Chocolate Egg Mould – I bought mine from Lakeland
  • atleast 600g of chocolate bars – Cadbury’s, Galaxy or Green & Black’s milk or dark chocolates are good for these.
  • Glass bowl to melt the chocolate in
  • Saucepan for hot water
  • Spatula
  • Decorations: Ribbons, Sprinkles, Foil, Cocoa dust, Royal Icing – I ran out of time to pipe the icing onto the chocolate shells so filled my eggs with Cadbury’s mini Eggs!

BLOG_STRIP Easter Goodies2 WEBWhat you’ll need to do:

  1. is start by melting the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring gently. While this is pretty straightforward, make sure you keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn’t rise above 27C (for milk or white chocolate) or 37C (for dark chocolate) What this does is maintain the shine and snap once it resets.
  2. Remove the bowl from the heat once the optimum temperature is reached and continuing stirring a bit more vigorously than before until all the chocolate is melted.
  3. Pour the chocolate into the bottom base of the mould – judge it so it’s thick enough to cover the entire mould. And then start rotating the mould so that you gently cover the entire mould. Keep doing this until you evenly distribute the chocolate around the mould. I  added more chocolate as I wanted it to be a bit thicker and by doing so it turned out a bit more rustic as it gradually set! Also, if it goes over the sides, try to clean it off then and there. Mine wasn’t as neat as hoped as trying to juggle taking photos while making these were a tad bit tricky!
  4. Do these to both your moulds (or however many you have) and then place them in the fridge for about 20mins to properly set.
  5. Take the moulds out of the fridge and gently tap the halves out of the moulds.
  6. To stick the two halves together you can go for various methods. One, you can dip brush in melted chocolate and line the edges of the shells – this will act as the glue to stick them together. Or for a slightly cleaner option place the shells onto a warm saucepan for a couple of seconds until you see the edges melt. Quickly stick the two halves together.
  7. Obviously, if you fancy putting some treats inside the Eggs, then make sure you do that before sticking the two halves together! Once your Eggs shells are stuck together you are ready to decorate them however way you wish! Since I was a bit tight for time I tied ribbons around mine. Et Voila! I’m hoping to put some proper chocolate decorating skills to test another time!

Pretty simple right? So there you go….a ‘must try’ for next Easter! :) xx

 

[From the Kitchen] Easter cupcakes!

Well folks, I do hope you’ve all had a busy albeit lovely Easter weekend. I for one kept myself buzzing around, especially in the kitchen in the run up to Easter Day but managed to catch up on some much deserved R&R on Monday! Found it hard shifting back to ‘work mode’ today but thankfully it’s only a 4-day week…..phew! Anyhoo, here’s the first part to my culinary antics from the weekend ……Easter cupcakes – made from simple Vanilla sponge with Bailey’s buttercream icing (yes I know, I opted for that again……but it really is far too delicious not to be included!!!) topped with Cadbury’s mini eggs! One batch had chocolate flavoured Bailey’s buttercream icing and the other had a slight pastel pink bailey’s buttercream icing. Nice and simple……but totally looked and tasted the part!! :D xxx

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[From the Kitchen] Strawberry Summer Cake

I bought myself an electric powered 3-in-1 mixer (with beaters, dough hooks and a balloon whisk) by Andrew James to make cake-making a tad bit easier and quicker. So to put my new gadget to test I decided to whip up a simple cake…..and I opted to do something summery seeing as the weather here has been pretty atrocious with sleet, snow and gale wind all in the one week! I found simple strawberry cake courtesy of Martha Stewart Living which was perfect since I had heaps of strawberries in the fridge. Oh and the smell that floods the kitchen while the strawberries cook with the sugar…..it’s like being out on a strawberry field on a hot summer’s day!! Simply divine!! ;) Anyway….here’s the recipe, where I’ve tweaked/added some text in accordance to what I did, for instance, I used a shallow 12×12″ square cake tin instead of a pie plate. But more to the point……I was pretty pleased with my electric mixer! The texture of the sponge was a lot more smooth, fluffy and consistent in comparison to when I whisk/beat by hand. So, here’s to more baked delights!!

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Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate (I used a 12×12″ square cake tin). Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
  2. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer the batter to buttered pie plate (or cake tin). Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
  4. Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160 C (325 F)  degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50 mins to an hour. Use Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges, dust some icing sugar over it and hey presto! So simple and SO scrumptious!!! The cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

ENJOY!!! xx

[From the Kitchen] St.Patrick’s Day Irish Stew

BLOG_irish stew 1Here’s the recipe of the Irish Stew we made using lamb courtesy of BBC Good Food which was so simple to make with such great results. And the best part is that it went a long way (believe me, we actually had to transfer all the ingredients out of our casserole dish into a paella pan!) and tasted even better the next couple of days!! :) The lamb is so succulent and soaks up all the lovely flavours well! Wish we still had more left over!! Oh, we couldn’t get hold of any pearl barley so substituted it with Arborio Rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g smoked streaky bacon (cut into chunks)  **The next time I may use chorizo for a smokier flavour!
  • 900g stewing lamb , cut into large chunks
  • 5 medium onions , sliced
  • 5 carrots , sliced into chunks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • small bunch thyme
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 850ml lamb stock
  • 6 medium potatoes , cut into chunks
  • small knob of butter
  • spring onions , finely sliced

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Method:

  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.
  2. Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. The stew can now be chilled and kept in the fridge for 2 days, then reheated in a low oven or on top of the stove. Remove from the oven, dot the potatoes with butter, scatter with the spring onions and serve scooped straight from the dish.

Enjoy!!! xx

[From the Kitchen] St.Patrick’s Day Bake-off

BLOG_STRIP bailey's cupcakes WEBSo, for those who our celebrating St. Patrick’s Day over the weekend, I trust you had a might good one! We sure did, although not everything went quite to plan. The whole of Saturday B and I were busy cooking and backing up a storm for St. Patrick’s Day – B was in charge of the Irish Stew (recipe will follow in the next post!) and I was in charge of the baked delights: Chocolate Bailey’s Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream icing! :) And this post features the latter……..a rather simple recipe that gave some scrumptious results! I really had to try hard to stay clear from the icing which FYI is the BEST flavour I’ve tried to date!! :D I did initially plan on going for Guinness-flavoured cupcakes but since none of us are a huge fans of it I simply omitted the Guinness and opted for Bailey’s instead.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 275g softened butter
  • 25g cocoa powder, sieved and added to some hot water (NB you can melt plain or dark chocolate pieces if you wish for a much richer cupcake)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys or other Irish cream liqueur

For the Buttercream icing:

  • 750g icing sugar
  • 250g softened butter
  • 100ml Bailey’s or other Irish cream liqueur – I may have put a tad bit extra! ;)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • green food colouring – add 1 tsp first and if you want it any greener then add a wee bit more.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Line your 12-hole cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, gently whisk in the cocoa powder with a bit of hot water until smooth. You can use whole milk instead of the water as another alternative. Then add the softened butter and whisk it all together gently. And yes, it’s only when you start baking do you realise how much butter and sugar goes into these bad boys!! You can only imagine what must go in the next time you’re ordering a slice of cake! It’s quite shocking really but as long as you’re not consuming these on a regular basis, a bit of sugary goodness won’t hurt too much!
  4. In a larger bowl, add the flour using a sieve followed by the caster sugar. Then mix the chocolate mixture and whisk gently making sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Make sure you don’t over-whisk these though! Next comes the eggs – preferably whisked in a separate little bowl before adding this to the mixture. Once again, make sure everything is combined well for a nice smooth batter. At the very end, add the Bailey’s in!
  5. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners dividing evenly so that they are two-thirds full. Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes if they are  large cupcakes – so just keep an eye out that you don’t burn them. I put mine  for roughly 12-15 minutes, and then turned the tin around on the shelf, leaving them in for another 5 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. You can also insert a toothpick in the middle of the cupcake to check if they are ready – if they come out dry then they’re done! Leaving them in for any further time makes the cupcakes too dry. Oh and if they look like they’ve erupted like a volcano in the middle, don’t worry. you can either trim that off before the icing goes on or use that shape when icing!
  6. Let cupcakes cool slightly and then transfer them onto a wire rack to fully cool, after which the icing goes on.
  7. For the icing, beat the softened butter and Bailey’s in a large bowl (using hand-held mixer, free-standing or by hand which is what I did!)  Sift in the icing sugar followed by the green food colouring, carefully incorporating all the ingredients until light and fluffy. Now, you can place icing in a piping bag with a desired tip or like me spread it on using a spatula for a more rustic look. If you choose to pipe then make sure you start at the outside of the cupcake and pressing out the icing consistently while moving around towards the center.
  8. I wasn’t able to get hold of shamrock-shaped sprinkles in time so kept it simple but if you have them or anything green or St.Patrick’s related then have fun adding that finishing touch!! :D

BLOG_STRIP bailey's cupcakes 1 WEBBLOG_STRIP bailey's cupcakes 3 WEBI did also make a small batch of experimental cupcakes where I added green coloured vanilla batter to the chocolate batter hoping i’d get a marble effect but it came out more ghoulish green than marbled! Tasted just as good though….so fluffy and moist! :D The icing is the best part by a mile!!!

Anyway…….HAPPY BAKING!!!!! :D xx