Monday, September 25, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 Week 39

I've been absolutely exhausted again this past week, falling asleep in the evenings and getting very little done after work - you may have noticed I'm blogging a lot less these days, and it's not because I'm spending the time instead preparing for the baby - I'm generally asleep!

I haven't had - or wanted to have - a social life for several weeks now though I do really want to see my friends, so I'm glad that I'm finally getting together with one of my bridesmaids this week. Though our night out was postponed from last week which means I've actually got plans for three evenings out of five this week,  - I don't know how I'm going to manage and how tired I will be by the last one, which is a big one - a national awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London's Park Lane, where my team at work is shortlisted for two awards! And I'm the one representing us at the awards so had better stay awake.....

On top of that we are away at the weekend as well for my dad's birthday - at least it means I won't have to do a lot of cooking this week! So here's this week's meal plan:

NB I keep not having what I planned for breakfast as I tend to not make it the night before and just grab a pot of cereal to eat at my desk... if I have more time I need to remember I also have yogurt, fruit and porridge!
As I'm out a lot this week I'm not going to plan anything special for lunches either and will probably just make a sandwich quickly.

out with friends

Tuesday - working from home as I have an ante-natal appointment
 chicken schnitzel with katsu spices (from Waitrose) with creamy pasta

 frozen pizza - needs to be quick so we can get to the AGM of our residents' association

fishcake for me, chicken kiev or similar for him

 At the Institute of Internal Communications awards at the Dorchester - where my team is shortlisted for two awards

Breakfast probably having a lie-in!
Lunch bacon/sausage sandwich
Dinner with my family

Breakfast With my family
Lunch With my family
Dinner Something easy from the freezer

Share your meal plan - join in the blog hop!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Christmas Cookie Recipe Christmas Cards

I went into my craft room (aka the spare bedroom) earlier today to quickly make a 'new home' card for my brother-in-law and his family, and got rather side-tracked and ended up making a dozen Christmas cards - and not actually making the new home card at all!
I came across some free printables I'd downloaded and printed out a long time (I think literally a couple of years) ago. Each sheet had three tall thin rectangles containing a recipe for Christmas cookies - I really like baking so I thought this would be a great thing to put on Christmas cards. They would work on the front, back or even inside cards!
I had some tall thin card blanks that were just the right size so I decided to put these on the front of the cards for a slightly more unusual - and hopefully useful - Christmas card.

The recipes were the right width but shorter than the height of the card so I had a gap at the top and bottom. As the recipes had red borders, I cut out strips from a small piece of Christmas wrapping paper I'd put in my card making stash and stuck that along the top and the bottom. Finally I used small die cut greetings on either the top or the bottom of each card.

I will have to think carefully about who to send these cards to and pick people who I think might actually bake the cookies!
I'm sharing this with DK Kard Kreations for a 'never been used before' theme as I've had a few of these sheets in my Christmas card box for ages and never used them.
I'm also sending it to Christmas Card Challenges and Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge where the theme is 'anything goes as long as it's Christmas'.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Caramel Cupcakes with a Hidden Centre

 I’m a bit of a mad cat lady (and proud) even though I only have one cat. So when I saw the local cat rescue was having an open day, I definitely wanted to go. It’s a private rescue run by one amazing lady out of her house – she finds fosterers and new homes for rescued kitties and also keeps several herself, including ones who are too traumatised to be rehomed elsewhere after they are rescued. The first time I went there, for a bric-a-brac sale she was doing to raise money, she told me she had 11 cats currently living there!
This time, as well as stalls selling everything from cat toys to CDs, a raffle and tombola and various cats wandering around, there were refreshments and I’d offered to bring some cakes. I really wanted to decorate cupcakes to look like cats, along the lines of the ones in Hello, Cupcake, but just knew I wouldn’t have time for fiddling around.
I decided instead to make something I thought would have mass appeal – and have the added benefit of using up an open tin of Carnation caramel in the fridge. Caramel cupcakes are easy and always popular, especially when they had a hidden centre.
I used a simple, fairly basic cupcake recipe for the cake itself, using brown sugar as well as caster sugar to give a more caramel flavour, but to let the caramel flavour really be driven by the hidden centre and the icing. Here’s what I did
Caramel cupcakes – an original recipe by Caroline Makes
For the cupcakes (makes about 12)
150g butter or margarine, softened
75g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour
For the filling:
397g tin Carnation Caramel
For the buttercream:
The rest of the Carnation Caramel
150g butter or marg, softened
300g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and both the sugars then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour, and spoon into the cupcake cases.
Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and spongy to the touch, but test with a skewer to make sure they are not raw in the middle.


Allow the cupcakes to cool, first in the tin then on a baking rack.
When the cakes have cooled, use a teaspoon to remove a small piece from the centre of each cupcake, setting the piece you have removed to one side. Place half a teaspoon (or more depending on the size of the hole you have made) of Carnation Caramel into the hole in the cupcake and replace the piece you have removed on top. It won’t sit flat and will be slightly higher than the top of the cake.

To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar over the butter or marg and gently cream together. Add a few spoonfuls of the Carnation Caramel to taste, making sure the buttercream doesn’t become runny as you will need to be able to pipe it.
Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle or your favourite nozzle, fill with buttercream and pipe swirls onto the top of each cupcake. I decorated mine with silver chocolate balls though in retrospect they would have looked better with gold!

Either way they seemed to go down well at the cat rescue open day, and I came home with a box of notelets I’d bought, a teddy bear I’d won in a teddy tombola (where every ticket won a cuddly toy) and a Wet Wet Wet CD from 1992 I won in another tombola!

I'm sharing these with Treat Petite, hosted by Kat the Baking Explorer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Naked Dough Cookie Dough, Old Street, London

When I was a bit younger I often used to drag my husband to new and unusual places in London, like a pop-up ice rink at Christmas, or the ice bar, where you are given furry capes to wear and drink from glasses made of ice. We haven’t done that sort of thing in ages as we are more likely to just go out to dinner or the cinema these days, but when I read about a pop-up cookie dough cafĂ© I really wanted to try it.
My husband loves that sort of thing and it wasn’t far from where we both work, within the underpass at Old Street tube station. Called Naked Dough, the pop-up has now been extended until the end of 2017 and it’s well worth a visit if you are in the area – be aware though that if you are coming here just for this, it’s basically a takeaway dessert place.

Naked Dough serves raw cookie dough, but crucially it’s made without eggs so there is no risk of salmonella from eating it raw. They also have a vegan version which sounds really nice – cookie monster, stuffed with Oreos. You can have your dough in a cone or tub, and eat in or take away – and even take it home and keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks (if you can manage not to eat it for that long!).

Their flavours include Cookie Monster (Oreos),  Unicorn Food (marshmallows and sprinkles) and Nak-Ed Sheeran (salted caramel and honeycomb) plus more. You can combine flavours so my husband had Cookie Monster and I had the other two I just mentioned.

Yes, it's tooth-achingly sweet and after eating a tub I wished I'd been sharing it with someone else - I don't think we ended up having any dinner that night - but it was really good. Like when you're baking cookies and want to eat all the raw dough, but know you shouldn't - only better! I'd love to know the recipe and how they get the taste and texture just right - and it's made me want to experiment with cookies if not cookie dough. Salted caramel and honeycomb sounds pretty good to me whether it's baked or raw!


Monday, September 18, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 Week 38

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Restaurant review: The Lamb at Hindon, Wiltshire

As part of our wedding anniversary weekend in Wiltshire, I'd booked dinner on the Sunday night at a country pub. I used Trip Advisor to find a few in the vicinity of our hotel and then looked at websites to check menus – some pubs will only do a roast dinner on a Sunday, which would be perfect for me, but not so good for my husband!
I chose the Lamb at Hindon which turned out to be a great choice. Hindon is a small village with the Lamb at one end; we drove straight past it before we realised, continued through the village thinking we would find somewhere to park but all the spaces were full, so turned around and managed to get a space in the Lamb’s own car park as someone was leaving! We realised later the pub actually has two car parks on either side of the road, but my husband didn’t fancy trying to manoeuvre his Aston Martin into the smaller one immediately adjacent to the pub.
What we originally thought was a park across the road from the pub is actually their pub gardens, with wooden tables where you can drink or even eat – we saw staff carrying food from the pub across the road. It was a lovely evening in June and we were tempted to sit outside but there wasn’t much space and we thought we would be more comfortable inside.

Despite the sunny evening I really fancied a roast dinner, so that’s what I had! The Lamb is a Young’s pub so I was expecting the food to be good quality; there was also plenty on the menu for my husband. It was a shame we couldn’t have the ‘cote du boeuf’ menu – you get beef with roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, greens, cauliflower cheese and gravy, or beef with triple cooked chips, tomatoes, mushrooms and a peppercorn sauce. Along with a sharing board starter (either meat or seafood) and a cheeseboard to finish, the menu has to be pre-ordered for a menu of six people.
So instead I had the roast 21-day aged Aberdeen Angus rump beef with a giant Yorkshire pudding and veg, which was really good; we were too full for dessert.
I was a little amused when the cocktail I ordered came in a sort of carved tiki cup – it seemed rather out of place in a Wiltshire village, particularly a pub that offers a specific ‘shoot lunch menu’, presumably to follow a morning of grouse shooting!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 37