[Inspiration]: 10 creative and fun D.I.Y.s to try for St.Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Ohh am I pleased to see the end of the week! The weekend has officially begun and I couldn’t be happier! Well we’re only a day and half before the St.Patrick’s Day celebrations begin! So have any of you got anything planned for the weekend? I’m definitely jotting down a few ideas to try/do over the weekend which includes cooking up a nice Irish Stew, along with some baked green-coloured goodies  tomorrow (still not decided what that is yet but definitely some baking involved! Just stewing on whether to do something traditional or be a bit more experimental). And on Sunday I will of course be kicking off the celebrations with the traditional ritual of sporting something green with shamrocks a plenty and head out to check out the parade! No doubt squeeze in a few cheeky drinks too!

Anyway, here are a few things I thought could be something you and I could try this weekend? A little inspiration for your creative juices to flow! If you have other ideas, I’d be delighted to hear them in the comments section. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend folks and if you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – hope it’s a mighty good one!!! :) Oh, I’ll be posting pics from my shenanigans so watch this space! xxxBLOG_STRIP st paddys day

  1. Shamrock Wreath what a fabulous idea and one that can be made easily i’m sure!
  2. Shamrock Boutonnaires  by Martha Stewart
  3. Fabric Clover Art  by Flamingo Toes
  4. Shamrock Streamers by Kelly on Studio D.I.Y.
  5. Homemade Leprechaun Spirits by Design Sponge
  6. Irish Soda Bread by the Melangery
  7. Shamrock Cut-out Cupcakes by Glory of Glorious Treats
  8. Green Velvet Pop Cakes by Love From The Oven which are cute and fun alternative to the traditional cake
  9. Shamrock Tortilla Chips by Courtney on Spiced Blog make a brilliant St. Paddy’s Day themed snack to team up with your drinks!
  10. Guinness and Bailey’s jello shots by Jaimee Sire

[From the kitchen] Red Velvet Brownies

IMG_6446 WEBI’ve been itching to try out more baking recipes so while I waited for Mary Berry’s ‘Baking Bible’ to arrive in the post (which arrived today, hurrah!) I had a quick nosey through some recipes online, pinning a few onto my Pinterest board as I flicked through numerous sites. And then I came across this Red Velvet Brownie recipe with cream cheese frosting on MyRecipes.com. It was ever so simple to make which totally appealed to me seeing as I wanted them made before my mum arrived! I’m afraid I was unable to take step-by-step photos or great after shots taken as I was trying to get these done and served in a short space of time! The featured photo above was taken using my iPhone via Instagram which really does this decadent brownie no justice!  Anyway, here are the ingredients and instructions below (some text tweaked according to how I made mine).

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting – unlike the images shown here, I put just a spoon of cream cheese as oppose to covering it completely.
  • Garnish: white chocolate curls – I didn’t have these so topped mine with fresh strawberries!

For the Cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened $
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened $
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° (350°F). You can line the pan with foil as stated in the website or go for greaseproof paper or simply by greasing your pan completely using butter or oil spray.
  2. Now you can microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals (as stated on the website) or put it all in a bowl over hot water and mix together as they melt. Whisk in the sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Gently stir in flour followed by the next 4 ingredients (salt, baking powder, vanilla extract and red food colouring). The redder the brownies you want the more food colouring you put it! Mine didn’t come out as red as I hoped so next time I’ll be adding more!
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 180° (350°F) for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).
  5. While it cools, prepare your small batch of cream cheese frosting.
  6. Lift the brownies from the pan carefully and add the Cream Cheese Frosting on top of brownies, and cut into 16 squares. Garnish, if desired. I opted for small teaspoon sized dollops of cream cheese on the brownies….after the were cut into squares and then placed the freshly cut strawberries on top.

Note: For a slightly more professional look when serving, I placed the brownie squares (with the strawberries and cream) onto a wooden board and gently sprinkled some icing sugar over it………and there you have it! :) I think they would look even better on slate tiles too!! 

Let me know how it turns out for you……ENJOY!! xxx

[From the kitchen] It’s Shrove Tuesday……..enjoy your pancakes! :)

DSC_2231 webIt’s Shrove Tuesday and there’s no doubt you’re all set to make pancakes today so I thought I’d share my pancake-making antics from this afternoon. If I may say so myself…..they were simply delicious!! The mixture is easy enough to make and you can explore with many toppings or fillings as you like. I opted to have one of my all time favourites: Nutella, crushed walnuts and a sprinkle of icing sugar (minus the slices of bananas I normally have)………..MMMMMMMmmmmmmm it went down like a treat! :D  (Ps. the other all time favourite filling is mixed up of sugar, dessicated/or frshly grated coconut with a hint of cardamom….i used to love this as a kid!)

So here’s the recipe for the batter that makes about 6-8 depending on the size!

  • 250g of plain or wholemeal flour
  • 2 eggs, medium sized
  • 600ml of semmi-skimmed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • butter or oil for the pan  
  1. Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, sifting it in so that there’s some airing amogst it.
  2. Create a well in the middle and add the lightly beaten eggs and whisk well making sure it takes in all the flour from the edge of the bowl. 
  3. Add the milk to the mixture and whisk well to achieve a lump-free thick batter. Keep adding the milk until the consistency of the batter is similar to that of single cream – this is the right consistency and not too thick! If you find it’s too thin then add a bit more flour and whisk. In fact, leave it aside for 15mins or so after the initial mixing of milk and check the consistency again. If it has thickened up a bit then add some milk to bring it to that smooth single cream thickness.
  4. Now this is optional – I added a tsp of vanilla extract into the batter and whisked it in for a hint of vanilla flavour.
  5. Once the batter is all set to go, get your non-stick pan or crepe pan over a medium heat. Add a bit of butter to the surface and then using a ladle (just so that the pancakes are consistent!) I poured out the batter onto the pan. Depending on your pan you can either tilt the pan straight away so that it covers the edges nicely to form a perfect circle or like me you can use your the back of your ladle to spread it out in a circular motion making sure the batter is spread out nice and thin.
  6. Cook for a 30 secs to a minute (or until you see it turn from white wet mixture to an yellowy-gold opaque cooked one) and flip it over to cook the other side. If you find the edges stick to the pan then give the pan a good shake or use a palette knife to loosen it up. Once that side is cooked too (by gently turning the sides over to check) place it onto a plate. Now, don’t worry if the first one turns out a bit “rustic” – it always gets better from then on. Dish as many as them out so you can have add you toppings/fillings of your choice and have them hot! 

BLOG_STRIP pancakes webDSC_2223 web

So, there you have it……it is as simple as you can have it! Do let me know what toppings/fillings you’ve tried with yours. I think I might be a bit more adventurous next time. Until then……happy pancake-making and eating folks!!! xx

[From the Kitchen]: Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookies

So as part of my new years resolution,  I decided to bake something this weekend as it’s an area I don’t get much time or opportunity to explore in (i know, it’s shocking! But i’m more of an throw-it-together experimental cook as oppose to a refined baker!) Anyway, I had hoped to make a valentine-themed cake but with weekend errands taking over I wasn’t left with much time so cookies was my next best option. I opted for a simple chocolate chip shortbread cookie recipe found on Dr. Oetker’s website. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
75g (3oz) caster sugar + extra for sprinkling
250g (9oz) plain flour
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
100g pack Dr. Oetker Milk or Plain Chocolate Chips

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas Mark 4. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Add the flour, salt and chocolate chips and stir to mix into the creamed butter and sugar and the mixture forms a firm dough.

2. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll out to a thickness of 5mm (¼ inch) – the mixture will be quite short. Using a 7cm (3 inch) round cutter, stamp out 10 rounds, re-rolling as necessary.

3. Arrange on a large baking tray spaced slightly apart. Prick the tops with a fork and bake for about 20 minutes until lightly golden. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and allow to cool on the baking tray.

Cooks Tip: For extra indulgence, half dip each shortbread round in melted Dr. Oetker Select Milk Chocolate and allow to set on baking parchment in a cool place for a few minutes before serving.

BLOG STRIP_choc chip shortbread WEBin the oven they go!

BLOG_choc chip shortbread 1

After 20 mins in the oven and 10 mins of cooling time, the cookies are ready to eat! Okay, so they aren’t 100% perfect….bit on the rustic side but they taste soooo gooooood particularly with a cuppa tea! MMmmmmm nom nom nom. So there you have it – it’s such an easy recipe…..just keep an eye out on the temperature so you don’t over bake it!

BLOG_choc chip shortbread 2

Happy baking! xx 

Trick or treat?

Well it is officially Halloween and what better time to explore those creative d.i.y skills! Unfortunately for me, the last couple of weeks/weekends have been pretty busy and so my big plans to find that inner baker in me went right out of the window. I’ve been itching to bake (or give it a try considering i’ve not baked any sugary delights since my carrot cake in 2010! shocking, I know!!) since being glued to the tv watching every episode of the Great British Bake Off! Not sure if i’m gifted with the right skills in this department (apart from my eating ones!) but I’m dying to give it a try just so I can enjoy all the fun in decorating and adding those delicate finishing touches……that and licking off the buttery icing sugar of the spatula! :D I’m sorry – I know I can be pretty OCD at times but who in the right state of mind can say they don’t enjoy that?! :D  Anyway, seeing as I’ve accomplished nothing in that department as yet I thought I’d share are a few Halloween treats to try out – maybe I can make up for my lack of baking delights this weekend?  Have fun folks!!

Click on the following to find their recipes:

  1. Brain Cupcakes by Martha Stewart
  2. Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme with Tombstone Cookies byMyRecipes.com
  3. Spider Cookie Pops by Brooke McLay
  4. Skeleton Cupcakes from All You.com
  5. Boston Scream Pie by Martha Stewart