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1  COOKING / Dessert / Lavender Cookies on: February 01, 2011 12:03:19 PM

A couple of months ago a friend gave me a huge bunch of lavender she'd grown in her garden. I took the flowers off, dried them and kept them in a jar for far too long. So last week I mixed up a batch of lavender sugar and when the sugar was sweetly scented I used it to make a batch of lavender sugar cookies:


You can substitute the flavoured sugar in any sugar cookie recipe, the one I used is linked below:

http://blueskiesblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/from-kitchen-lavenders-blue-part-two.html

And because I am such a cackhanded icer, I used fondant cutters and a dusting of sugar to decorate, but they would taste lovely with a subtle lemon frosting too.

Blue Skies,
Charlotte xo
2  COOKING / Dessert / Sweet Treats for a Graduation Day on: February 01, 2011 11:54:28 AM


I made these chocolate mortarboards for my mama's graduation day:


I was inspired by some graduation cap cakepops I saw on Bakerella, using Peanut Butter Cups and Airheads Sour Belts, but ended up making solid chocolate bases using petit four cases as molds and modelling fondant tassles all stuck together with some lovely metled chocolate.

3  COOKING / Dessert / Contraband Caramel Corn on: February 01, 2011 11:45:11 AM
I do think no trip to the movies is complete without some delicious sugary sweet popcorn to munch on and for my first trip to the movies in nearly 18 months I decided to make some of my own. So Sunday night sees me and my girlfriends and my oversized handbag stuffed with  tooth decayingly luscious caramel popcorn to (because after departing with the best part of a tenner to get in to the film no way I am paying movie theatre prices for snacks too) queueing to see Mr Firth in The Kings Speech. The film I could take or leave (but really a late showing on four hours sleep the night before was never a good option) but the popcorn was delish!



* Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan and add 200g popping corn kernels
* Cover immediately and shake gently every couple of minutes
* Once the popping has slowed down, turn off the heat but don't remove the lid yet
* Tip the popped corn into a bowl and return the pan to the heat
* Add 125g diced butter, 150g caster sugar and 2 big squirts of clear honey - bring to the boil and allow to bubble for 5 minutes without stirring
* Pour over your popcorn and mix well, then pour out onto a paper lined baking sheet
* Let it cool and set for an hour or two, then use your hands to break up the hardened piece and enjoy/ smuggle your contraband to be eaten under cover of darkness
4  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Ms Pac-Man Quiche on: January 22, 2011 08:36:28 AM
I saw some Pac-Man shaped cookie cutters online last week, and after resisting my immediate impulse to buy buy buy I realised surely a round cookie with a slice cut out would look exactly the same? And then I didn't really fancy cookies (I know crazy right?) So I figured I would do a Pac-Man pie, only I didn't really want pie, so I made a quiche. And my quiche minus a slice still didn't look quite Pac-Mannish so I added a little bow and it looked somewhat like Ms Pac-Man. But still something was missing so I added some mini marshmallows for Ms Pac-Man to eat, but still something was amiss. And then I remembered the ghosts. Of course, the ghosts. So I made some cardstock ghost shapes and stuck them to chocolate lollipops. And finally, my Saturday night was an entirely productive one, as I introduce to you Ms Pac-Man Quiche:

5  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Wrap-It with your Christmas Leftovers on: January 06, 2011 12:10:37 PM

It's funny that all the Christmas posts come after Christmas, but me, I am festive all year round!

After taking down all my Christmas decorations they looked so sad sitting in boxes and there were so many cute patterns and colours I decided to have a little wrap-session and mini photo-shoot (more photos on my blog, link below).

I think this is a cute little idea for all those leftover end bits of paper too small to be useful:


This is a repurposed gift box decorated with that quintessential Christmas party item, the paper hat:



And my favourite, ribbon curls (leftover from my xmas gift wrapping) and an actual use for those plastic cracker toys that litter your beautifully set table and are binned by Boxing Day:




My husband thinks I'm a whole bunch of crazy for spending my son's naptime wrapping up empty boxes with stuff he considers trash, but I know you crafty people will understand! More pictures on my blog, link below.

Let me know what you think!

6  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / What yarn? Advice needed please on: November 05, 2010 12:46:13 PM
Hi guys,

I have been knitting now for eleven whole days and have already come down with a case of 'one more row'itis - you know when you should go to bed/ clean your house/ cook the dinner/ look after yours kids yet you keep on knit knit knitting?

Anyway, I am hoping to make a scarf for my gran who's birthday is on New Years. She has very sensitive skin so I am worried that a completely wool mix would irritate her.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I am probably going to do it in garter stitch (since that's all I have mastered) but would like it to look quite fine since she's quite a classy old grandma.

Thanks in advance,

Blue Skies
Charlotte xx
7  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Foodie Gift ideas for stealing on: October 05, 2010 01:16:46 PM
This is my second entirely handmade Xmas so I learnt a few things last year. Firstly, trying to make everyone something different is not a good idea unless you have oodles of time/ energy/ supplies. Secondly spending more on supplies than you would if you had bought gifts in the first place is stupid.

This year I am simplifying, my gift giving is separated into girls, boys, couples, kids, babies. Since hardly any of them know each other there's no duplicate gifting to be uncovered.

Girls:
Mocha Fireside drink mix (http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Mocha-Fireside-Coffee)
and Gingerbread Biscotti (http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/8392/gingerbread-biscotti.aspx)

Boys:
Mulled wine spice mix and a bottle of red wine

Couples:
Nigella Lawson's Christmas Pudding Truffles (http://www.styleathome.com/food-and-entertaining/recipes/recipe-nigella-s-christmas-puddini-bonbons/a/18992/)

Kids:
Hot Chocolate on a Stick (http://giverslog.com/?p=3290)
Homemade marshmallow (if I can get round to it, if not, shop bought ones threaded onto the hot chocolate skewers)

Babies:
(admittedly not a foodie gift, since they're all at varying stages of weaning but I will be recycling old jam jars for the purpose)
Xmas Snow Globes

For stocking stufers I'm making 'coal' using an Oreo Truffle recipe (http://www.bakerella.com/grocery-item-goes-gourmet/) and black sanding sugar.

I'll also be making a big batch of chutney for those unexpected gifts/ donating something to the church raffle type moments.

Hope this inspires, am a big fan of the foodie gift so please share your ideas.

Blue Skies
Charlotte xx




8  COOKING / Dessert / Birthday Sushicakes on: October 04, 2010 02:08:27 PM
My first post here *crosses fingers*

This year I am not buying any birthday/ xmas gifts and am baking personalised lovely bits instead.

My friend really loves sushi, like she would eat it every day if she could, and she loves cake so sushi cupcakes were a given. I'm a lifelong vegetarian and had never really seen sushi before, so a little research was needed, but I think they turned out well.


The cupcake is flavoured with matcha powder (powdered green tea) which made the cakes slightly green in colour, but didn't really affect the taste (I think it would if I had used a lot more though). Then I used plain royal icing on top, slightly runny so I could just pour on and it set flat, dredged them in dessicated coconut to look like rice (though I've seen it done with white non pareils too). For decoration I used red and green jellybeans, foam shrimps, strawberry pencils cut into little slices and slithers.


Then I made black wrappers out of card using a template made from a cupcake liner and packaged them in a takeaway box with a set of chopsticks.


Would love to hear feedback, thanks.

Blue Skies
Charlotte xx

---EDIT---

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp matcha green tea powder

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, thoroughly beating each one for ~30 seconds before adding the next.
Add in vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in half the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture.
Dissolve and stir matcha green tea powder into milk. Mix into batter. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Avoid over-mixing as this will result in dry, tunnel-riddled cupcakes.
Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool before removing from pan.

Recipe via: suite101.com



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