Friday, 31 December 2010

Christmas Cupcakes by Dr Oetker

Hello everyone!
OMG it's the last day of the year!!! I have to work in a minute but I dont know if I will be blogging tonight so this could very well be my very last post of the year... The reason I wanted to post about these cupcakes (a little late for Christmas but should also be the last one really) is that they were soooo good and lovely and Christmassy. And I have the Halloween ones left for tonight ;)

I ran into the Halloween ones around (you guessed it!) Halloween but they looked too cute to make. Yeah, bizarre reasoning I know... so when I found the Christmas ones, I just had to test them. After all, I could totally mess up the Christmas ones *grin*. The pack came with everything, it was perfect :)

Check it out! It had the dough, the icing, sprinkles, writing icing, cupcake holders, the lot :)

They came with GREEN cupcake holders :) The Halloween ones have purple ones, I cant wait!

Mixed the dough with some eggs...

Mmmmm, they look yummy already!

Add some icing... definitely not my best work, my icing skills need to be improved I think...

Then added the snowflake sprinkles and tried to make them look like the pack (which completely failed) but they sure tasted good!! I think I ate most of them hihihi...

Now I am confident that I can make the Halloween ones also. I had never actually made cupcakes before, only muffins, so now that I kind of know what to do, we'll be having Halloween cupcakes for dessert tonight :) And then I hope I can find this for Valentine and Easter too LOL. Keep an eye out in oyur supermarket, these are the best!!

I have to do some work now, but if I dont blog anymore today, have a wonderful evening and a very Happy New Year!! *big hugz*

I made the Halloween ones for New Year, check them out they are so cute!


Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas Party with Work

Hi all,
No, my Christmas posts have not yet come an end but I am trying to condense it all a bit so that I can star the new year all fresh. Plus I havent actually created something in a about a week so this helps fil the gaps ;)

As always, work also had a Christmas party but due to snow in Europe not everyone could attend. So the bf was invited last minute also, hurray! The evening was at Cirque de Noel in London which was a very nice venue. A little rushy with the food but otherwise no complaints. I wanted to share some pics of the night with you:

It was in an actual circus tent!

During dinner there were acts like girls hanging from hoops

And from silk ropes coming out of the ceiling

The tables were decorated simple but nice (am so going to steal this idea)

And more entertaining during dinner

It was a black tie event but as it was FREEZING outside, I chose my warm velvet dress.
So glad I did that :)

We didnt have secret Santa but we do give presents amongst ourselves in our team and I made this Stitch London Bag for one of the girls at work. She fell in love with it immediately :)
Although I have to admit that I was close to keeping it for myself also hihi

For some other colleagues I made tissue holder, made with this fantastic tutorial. Well, I can only link to the blog where I got the pattern as I have the pdf but the author asked in her post to not share the pdf but link back to the blog directly.
I have to admit that these were my first one and only the red one came out in the right size, but my colleagues liked them anyway :)

I also sneakily made one for myself in the same colours as the Stitch London Bag
(just dont tell my colleague, pssstt!)

And then it was time to head back home through the snow. We were in luck and the tube line we needed was working. Alas, all the snow is gone now and I have yet to build a snowman before the year is out! Argh! *panic* But I had a lovely evening :)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Our Wonderful Christmas 2010

Finally, here are some pics of our wonderful Christmas :) Definitely the best one in recent years :) We had a gorgeous tree, remember our tree?

And we just had the most wonderful time :) it was just the two of us but it gave us lots of time to show and explain presents where needed and take pictures and eat little bits of aperitifs :)

Stephane pouring a little bit of bubbly (only a tiny bit as I am a total lightweight haha)

To have with the salmon and blini (this is not real caviar, people, but it sure was yummy!)

Then finally it was present time! Having been brought up the way I did (wow is that English), we give our presents on Christmas Eve. There is an explanation on Steff's blog here in case you're interested and I'm just too lazy to explain this LOL. In Holland it is actually done on the eve of the 25th so I much prefer it this way *naughty giggle*

I made some more crackers in which I had actually hidden presents also.

One of the presents I got was the starter Mod Podge pack. You cant really see it here, but you can see the actual pack here. It has 5 different mini bottles which is nice as MP is really hard to find here.

Yay! I also got Bakerella's book on Cake Pops! The bf is going to be so fat hihihi...

And check out this oven mitten! It has cupcakes on it!!! It's one of those UK ones that is just one long mitten with grips at each end. I have another pic in a minute.

See this was my old oven mitt... It was so used that I couldnt even get these stains out anymore! And I've had this since my time in Dublin which was a good 6 years ago at least...

Look how pretty the new one looks :)

I made this toiletry bag for the bf. Totally his style :)

My aunt send me a few things that my late grandmother had made. Isnt this ornament lovely?

She made this one as well. I think I prefer this one, but I havent decided yet...

And this table cloth was also made by her. It has purple candles so that at least fits with my taste :) But really, it is beatifully made :) I was never that close to my grandmother but I'm glad I have something to remember her by now. Plus she was so creative!

Oh yes, I also got this book from the bf, I love it! It has cool patterns in it for knitting and crocheting, and sewing and everything really! Of course everything has skulls and stuff on it so it's perfect! (Sunny, am sure that you and Savannah will love this also!)

My sister gave my these ultra cute little charms. A witch hat and an orange (halloweeny!) cupcake :) the perfect combination! I love them :D

And then... the piece de resistance... for a while now the bf and I have been discussing getting a Le Creuset pan. The first issue was 'which size' but once I discovered that their new collection is in PURPLE that turned into a big decision also. I wanted purple, the bf wanted black (shock). But here it is, my very own PURPLE Le Creuset!!! I am so in love with this pan I cant tell you! Really, who wants boring orange when they have PURPLE! Ok ok, I'm sure you get the message... *lovely stroking my new Le Creuset* I have already cooked in it and it's a dream :) (they're increasing the VAT next week here in the UK, so it made sense to buy the pan this year rather than wait) And it's so preeeetttyyy...

As you can see I love getting kitchen stuff for Christmas (my mother still doesnt understand why hihi)

Then it was time for dinner. The bf made quail, check out that tiny quail leg! It was very yummy :)

And I made pumpkin-praline pie for dessert. :)

On Boxing Day I dragged the bf to the sales as he had never seen it before... I dont think he knew what was waiting for him... here are a few pics of the shopping centre:

Masses and masses of people... it's hard to see but the stream just doesnt end...

It was so busy that this group of people just sat down in the middle of all the shoppers to eat McDonalds! Crazy... It just had to be photographed! LOL.

All in all it was such a wonderful Christmas!! I hope you all had a lovely time also with friends and family, or without either if so preferred. I still have some posts to write before the end of the year so I'd better get started!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Recipe - Pumpkin-Praline Pie

I know this is more of a Halloween dessert to make, but with all that pumpkin still in my freezer from the Halloween Party, I really wanted to make this for Christmas. It turned out great!

Doesnt that just look divine? *grin* I thought you might like it ;) It actually looks like the picture hahaha... Now I dont know where the recipe came from, it was copied and printed long ago and added to my binder cookbook so I cant give you the source, but here is the recipe. Oh yes, the recipes is of course American so all the units are in US standard. My oven pretty much has one temperature only so that part doesnt really bother me. Hope it's ok for you though!

You will need:
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked and mashed pumpkin (see note below) or 1 can (16oz) canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated (or ground) nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 9-inch frozen piecrust (I used a rolled crust from the fridge section in the supermarket which also works if you cant find a ready-made frozen one)
  • whipped cream for garnish
If you are using fresh pumpkin, either cut a hole in the top of a pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and scrape the pumpkin clean, or cut the pumpkin into slices and peel the slices. Cut the pumpkin slices into pieces and boil like you would do potatoes for mashing. When soft, drain and mash the pumpkin.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Beat the pumpkin, salt, milk, brown sugar, sugar, and spices together until smooth, using the low speed on a hand mixer or using a wire whisk. Beat the eggs separately, then add them to the mixture. If you cant get them to blend smoothly, pour the mixture into a blender and puree for 30 seconds (I used a handheld puree thingy to mush it all up properly). Pour the mixture into the piecrust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes longer.

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon margarine or butter as room temperature

To make the topping, mix the ingredients together. Sprinkle over the pie, leaving a circle in the center bare. Bake for another 10 minutes until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean. Refrigerate for 4 hours until chilled. Garnish the centre of the pie with a mound of whipped cream. Immediately refrigerate any leftovers after serving.

I made a few small changes to the recipe but oly at the very end. Chilling the pie for 4 hours wasnt enough and the pie tasted better the next day after it had been in the fridge overnight. It wasnt bad after 4 hours but much more yummy the next day. I also sprinkled the topping all over the pie as the bf is not a fan of whipped cream so we added it later on (I love whipped cream!). Curious how mine came out? I made some pics especially to show off since this was my first ever pie! *proud smile*

The whole pie :) I used a spring form as I dont own a pie dish but it worked fine.

The inside of the pie

My yummy piece with the whipped cream on top :) I only had a tiny slice as I ate a lot already but it was good (and better for brekkie the next morning LOL) I used my leaf pie cutters to use up the leftover dough and garnish the pie upon serving.

So good!!

As you can see I have spent the last few days cooking and eating mostly but I hope that the crafting will recommence soon. I still have 2.5 days off work so I really must put them to good use. Oh yes, and I must show you my wonderful present for Christmas! Soon soon... ;)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Recipe - Chocolate-Cream Yule Log

Good evening!
I had the most wonderful Christmas ever! But before posting about that, I thought I would post a few recipes. This one might be a few days late, but it can really be made at any time of the year. I make this every year (some years work better than others, for example I used the wrong baking tray this year, woops!). It is very easy to follow and as long as you can split eggs you're good to go!

Chocolate-Cream Yule Log

8 to 10 servings

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or 1/4 cup all-purple flour with 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • red berry jam
  • chocolate frosting (about 2 cups) or melted chocolate (about half a bar)
  • sliced blanched almonds, optional
In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with at high speed until foamy. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved (rub just a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger to feel if sugar has dissolved) and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks.

In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining 1/3 cup of the sugar until blended. Beat in vanilla, almond extract and salt. In small bowl, stir together ground almonds and flour. Sprinkle over whites. Add beaten yolk mixture. Gently, but thoroughly, fold yolk mixture and almond mixture into whites. Pour into prepared pan (rectangular, the one I use is about 12"x8" I think, I know it's rectangular with a very low edge). Gently spread evenly.

Bake in preheated 400° F oven until top springs back when lightly touched with finger, about 10 to 12 minutes. Dust clean tea towel with confectioner’s sugar. With spatula, loosen cake from sides of pan and invert onto prepared towel. Carefully pull waxed paper off bottom of cake. Trim all edges with serrated knife.

Spoon jam evenly over inside surface of hot cake. Starting from short edge, roll up cake, rolling towel with cake. Place wrapped roll seam-side down on wire rack until cool, about 30 minutes.

Carefully unroll cake. Spread with whipped cream. Reroll. Place seam-side down on serving platter. Spread with chocolate, using small spatula to create tree-bark effect. Garnish with sliced almonds if desired.

Note: If prepared in advance, baked and cooled cake may be frozen without filling. Wrap well with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. To thaw, let wrapped cake stand at room temperature about 1 hour.

Are you curious about what this will look like in the end? Here are some I made over the years:

My first Yule Log ever. I used white and milk chocolate and almonds to create the tree.

This one I made for a party, hence the foil... A simpler design also and only milk chocolate

This year's log. It is too narrow is width and too thick as the tray as I used was too narrow. I found the correct tray hidden deep in the cupboard somewhere today after the cake was done. Woops... A very simple design as this had to be done on the 21st right after a busy day at work.

The inside, normally this is much more twirly, but again due to the wrong tray used.

Ready to eat :)

The bf loved it! As did I really :) I hope you will try this also, whether for Yule or any other occassion. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Good moring!
Just a quick post to wish all my followers (and their families, pets, and whatevers) a wonderful Christmas :) I realise this is a time for family so in my case that means lots of crafting since I finally have the time for it! Yay! Have a good one and until the next blog! (which I'm sure is only a day or so awa, hihi!)

Season's Greetings from Witchy Santa!
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