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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Mermaid Cupcakes

using one of my favourite yellow cupcake recipe from Krystina Castella's "Crazy about Cupcakes" I made some cupcakes for Miss 5 to share at school on her birthday.  Decorated with simple butter icing with a blue swirl through it and blue candy crystals and topped with little paper mermaids. 

Kids Costumes

 My son, Mr 13, decided that for Medieval day at school Mum could sew him a complete "Assassin's Creed" costume... well, Mum may be handy with a sewing machine, but not that clever, so we went for a crusader instead... but I did make vambraces for him (didn't know what they were until I made this costume!)  - they are the protective thingys for the lower arms during battle!  Mine were made from felt, with simple sewn on buckles and straps and elastic inside to hold them to his arms.  The costume I was going to just try and design it myself but ended up buying a fantastic mediavel costume pattern at the fabric store.  Much easier!  It turned out great and he was so proud of it.  They had a day of battles, medieval food and games - how fun!

Mango and Prosciutto Salad

 This is truly the most delicious salad you will EVER eat and it's the only salad I have created that people ask for the recipe!  You will need:

6 slices Italian Prosciutto grilled till crisp and then broken into pieces
2 fresh mango sliced into pieces or alternatively 6 fresh figs cut into quarters
Salad leaves of choice - Cos lettuce is divine with this.
2 Sliced vine tomato
2 fresh avocado sliced into pieces
2 bunches fresh asparagus - (break off woody ends, steam for 2 minutes in a dish of water in the microwave, drain off hot water and immediately rinse under cold water)
1 cucumber sliced thinly
Fresh Dill
Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
Whole Egg Mayonnaise
Lemon Juice
Whole Grain Mustard
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Crushed Garlic

Layer the leaves over your platter and then scatter the avocado, tomato, cucumber and fruit of choice over.  Gently lay the asparagus in a criss/cross pattern over the salad then sprinkle the prosciutto and some finely chopped dill and the parmesan over. 

Prepare your salad dressing by mixing: 1/4 cup of mayo with 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice.  Add one teaspoon of whole grain mustard and 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed garlic.  Stir in a tablespoon of grated parmesan and whisk all together and serve in a cute little jug.  Sprinkle over a little fresh dill.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

French Fruit Flans


This is about being impressive with the LEAST amount of work possible!  Yes, I usually make my own pastry, but occassionally, I just don't have time (WHAT??? I hear you say, you only have 5 children) - haha - the little frozen tart cases work a treat.  You simply bake them for 10 minutes!  No rolling out, no hard work.  Alternatively, this flan is simply divine in a large dish as one big flan!
After you have your pastry ready this is what you will need:

1 x instant vanilla pudding
600ml thickened cream
100ml fresh milk
Apricot Conserve

Fruits (loving strawberries, blueberries, kiwi - however, slices of canned apricot is also delicious on this and can make a GORGOUS patterned large flan - see my pic below - WITH home made pastry)
To make the flan simply whisk the pudding with the cream and milk and pour or spoon into the pastry case/cases.  Allow to set (takes only a few minutes).
Decorate with fruits of choice.
Make a glaze using about 1/4 cup apricot jam/conserve and 1 tablespoon water, heat in microwave for 30 seconds and mix together.
Brush over top of fruits.  Also to cool and all set.

Enjoy!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Egg and Bacon Pie - So Easy a Child Can Make it

In the midst of winter in Australia I am dreaming of Spring time.  Spring motivates me to spend more time outdoors and do more than just stare at the weeds growing in the garden.  Perhaps even plan a picnic. Plan ahead and make special things. Few people can resist home-baked items and this is such an easy pie, firm enough to travel well and substantial enough to be the centrepiece of lunch.  Delicious hot or cold.

Since Mr 8 is keen on being a Junior MasterChef we did make this recipe, one of his first attempts, a little easier by using pre-packaged  frozen shortcrust pastry
 For the filling
  • 6 rashers thickly sliced smoked streaky bacon, rind removed
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp freshly snipped chives
  • 11 eggs

Method

Preheat your oven to moderate.  Grease a pie dish with butter and line dish with pastry (either home made or bought).
Lightly fry bacon and cut into pieces. Scatter two-thirds of the bacon over base of pastry case. Scatter with half the herbs. Break 10 of the eggs, one at a time, into a cup and slip each into pastry case, being careful not to break yolks. Add rest of herbs.
Carefully add remaining bacon, then cover with pastry lid. Let pastry settle over the hump of each egg, then trim it and seal edges carefully. As you can see Mr 8 decorated our pie with little pastry people, one for each member of the family, 5 kids, Mum and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa.
 Whisk remaining egg and a pinch of salt together and brush over pastry.
 Bake for 35 minutes until a rich gold.
Allow to cool before removing from tin. Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie


I have to honestly say, this is the most divine delicious thing I have ever eaten.  It is NOT a quick dessert to create though and I did get the recipe from the awesome "The Hungry Mouse" which is the best visual guide to cooking I have found online.  I won't type up the whole recipe and step by steps - because you should simply click on the link to Jessie's website and check it out as her photos and step by steps make it so easy to follow along. http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2010/01/19/chocolate-cream-pie-2/
My daughter had a friend over and I made sure we had all the ingredients for them, they spent hours making it and were so proud of the finished result.  We were pretty happy with it too - DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mer'babes'

 Our littlest daughter Rachel (5) loves Mermaids - she calls them merbabes - cute.  We recently made some big merbabes and baby merbabes and merbabes for our friends little girls.
  I didn't use a pattern, just sort of cut them out ... but I want to make more, so will create a template this weekend and post on here.  We found the most amazing wool fibre just perfect for merbabe hair and the bodies are simply peach coloured felt.  The tail and top is printed fabric and their little faces have red embroidered mouths, little black french knots for eyes and a scribble of red pencil on their cheeks for blush.  I also sewed a frill of ruffled ribbon at the top of her tail.  They are stuffed with an old pillow stuffing.  Of course tiny necklaces with starfish or shells just completes them !  They weren't expensive to make at all, and a lot of fun and quick to make.

 This little merbaby was for baby Isaak (2) who insisted he wanted a merbabe too.

Leche Flan

My husband's heritage is Philippino, hence our beautiful Spanish surname.  Over the years I have attempted many of their mouth watering dishes - however, my most successful is Leche Flan.  Basically it is like a creme-caramel.  You make a toffee, then make a reduced milk custard and "bath" bake it in the oven.  Yet, having five children I don't usually have time to stand around reducing milk... This recipe basically uses condensed and evaporated milk... so it's just already reduced for you - so, so much easier!! 


You will need:

Two oven proof dishes - one that fits "in" to the other as you are going to cook the flan in a water bath...
150g white sugar
3 large eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk (there is a little too much in the can, so use about 4/5 of it)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180oC or 350oF (gas mark 4)

The Toffee
You need to use a non-stick saucepan.  I have made this in regular saucepans before, but it is a horror to try to get the cooled toffee off afterwards.  This is the only part where you really have to stand and look after it.
Put the sugar in the pan and put on a low-medium heat.  Keep stirring.  The sugar will soon start forming little clumps and then start to melt.  Keep stirring.  As soon as the sugar is the colour of maple syrup - take the pan off the heat.  Pour the toffee into your smaller heat proof dish and swirl it around to cover the base.  It will set hard quite quickly.

The Custard
In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milks and vanilla.  The more you whisk, the more beautiful little air bubbles you will get in your custard, which allows the toffee to later seep through - mmmm.

Pour the Custard into the toffee based dish.  You might hear some horrific cracking - don't worry, it's just the toffee complaining.

Place your small custard filled dish into the larger dish and pour boiling water around it to the level of the custard.

Be really careful - that water is boiling hot, and usually pretty weighty - get it in the oven, middle shelf.  It will take about an hour to cook.  You will know it is ready when it has very slightly light brown patches on top and the custard is firm to touch.

Carefully remove and allow to cool.  You can now remove it from the bigger dish.  Put your custard in the fridge for at least an hour to cool completely. 

Then the tricky part - removing it from the dish on to a plate!  The toffee is now soft!  You need to put a big enough plate under your small plate and carefully yet quickly flip everything over... it's good if the plate has a bit of a "lip" on it so the caramelly/toffee sauce doesn't all pour off! 

I usually find running a knife around the edge of the custard first helps it to release on to the plate - sometimes it also needs a little stab in the middle to break the "air" seal and release it.

Enjoy!

Family Quiche

15 years ago when I was expecting my first child a work colleague gave me a recipe for a quiche.  I must have made this quiche at LEAST 100 times over the years, it is simply beautiful and everyone loves it - best of all - it's so easy it is just ridiculous!

All you will need is:

Frozen puff pastry (yep - frozen - told you it was easy!)
600ml of cream (hmmm, that's probably why it tastes to good - lol!)
5 big eggs
1 cup grated cheese - I use basic cheddar or Manchego Spanish cheese
1 packet of frozen spinach (about 250g) defrosted in microwave for 4 minutes and drained of liquid.
1 400g can corn kernals
1 cup of diced chicken or ham or turkey or canned fish (whatever meat you have that you want to use!)

Preheat your oven to 180oC.  (for my friends in the States/UK, that is about 350 Farenheit or gas mark 4).
Grease your dish - you can use a large quiche dish, or I often make it in a huge flat rectangular dish. 
Line the dish with the puff pastry sheets, gently pressing all joins together and making sure you put it up the sides too.
Mix all other ingredients together in a big bowl and pour into the pie shell.
I usually then dot the top with whatever I have in the fridge - mini tomato, asparagus, sliced mushrooms, and another handful of grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.  The pastry will be brown and crisp and the quiche slightly brown and fat and full, and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and enjoy with a fresh salad.  Important note:  This is also delicious cold the next day ... so make a big one and you will have left-overs to take to work for lunch - mmmm

Coconut Lime Sorbet

Okay, yes, it is winter in Australia, but I have to share this recipe, it is so simply delicious.    Ariel (my husband) and the kids bought me an icecream maker last year - unfortunately it doesn't behave properly to make real ice-cream, but seems to be quite happy making sorbet!  Just as well, because this is so yummy.

Coconut Lime Sorbet
·        Grated rind of 2 large limes
·        Juice of 2 large limes
·        1 egg yolk
·        3 cups coconut cream
·        ½  cup raw honey

Grate and juice the limes. Mix it with egg yolk, cream and honey  in blender for a minute. Pour into ice cream maker and follow maker's instruction. When done...scoop it out and enjoy! Store leftovers in a plastic bowl and keep in freezer (won't last more than a day...too yummy!).

Don't have a ice cream maker? No problem! Pour mixture into a plastic bowl and put into freezer till frozen. Put it out till slightly soft, chopped it up and put it back into your blender. Blend till creamy (not too long or it will melt!)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Baby Shower Invitations


Our Minister's wife recently had her beautiful little baby girl.  These are the baby shower invitations I designed and made for her.  I simply used scrap scrapbooking supplies - found the sweetest little birdy on clip art and printed her on to the pink sparkly cardstock, mounted them all on chocolate cardstock and added antique lace bows and little chocolate or diamonte brads onto the bows (depending what I had left in my stash!)  The box is simply a plain gift box I already had, with the similar graphic of the little birdy taped on top (hooray for double sided tape) and then all gently tied up with antique lace.  

Altogether it cost - nothing!  Just a little time.  And the finished result - she loved.

Little Snow Flower

Little snow flowers - or snow drops - delicate and beautiful.  Our surname is Spanish for little snow flower.  My dream is for this blog to contain delicate and beautiful creations, inspiring and lovely.

Recipe - Strawberry Baguettes



Think delicious French Baguette - with a twist - sweet mini baguettes filled with delicious Mascarpone cheese, strawberries and mint then tied up to resemble tiny baguette sandwiches - TOO CUTE !! 

We have a "high tea" morning tea celebration for a sweet lady Oh dear - excuse the DATE on the photos above - obviously I have been making these for years and these are old photos...so no, I am not serving mascarpone with a use by date from Dec 09 - haha (though I'm sure my pantry cupboard probably has a few items nearly that old in it... seriously must do a de-clutter!)

A good friend of mine made these for a "Biggest Morning Tea" a couple of years ago and of course I had to have the recipe.  She creates the most divine, gorgeous cakes - check out her website - http://linnymacs.com/ to see her beautiful creations.

To create your own strawberry baguettes all you need is:
- 1 packet of Italian Unibic Sponge Finger biscuits (or similar brand)
- 500g mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 punnet strawberries - washed and sliced
- fresh mint
- baking paper
- string

Mix together the mascarpone with the icing sugar.
Gently slice the biscuits lengthways and spread with the mascarpone mix.
Layer a few pieces of strawberry and a few little sprigs of mint
Gently wrap a piece of paper around the little baguette and tie with a little string.

Delicious!  Better made fairly close to serving time, otherwise the biscuits can soften.

Craft - Felt Strawberries









Strawberries - mmmm - made a punnet of these for my little girl for Christmas (saving dollars and wanted something special) - how ADORABLE they looked in the little plastic strawberry tub.  They are ridiculously easy too, which makes them all the more sweet!