Friday 30 November 2012

Mincemeat recipe

Last Sunday was Stir-up-Sunday when you are supposed to make your Christmas puddings and cakes. The fruit for my Christmas pudding is still soaking up the brandy and I am hoping to find time to make it before Christmas day, but who knows? It is such a trial trying to find a four hour stretch when I'm at home with time to steam it. However with the help of a kidlet I managed to get my mincemeat made, so I thought I would share the recipe with you. This is a great recipe if you only want to make a couple of batches of mince pies. Most other recipes I have found made enough to last me for years! 
It is a simple recipe but go ahead and add spices or alcohol to make it more to your taste. 

50g dried cranberries
50g dried blueberries
50g mixed peel
50g cherries washed dried and chopped
150g currants
125g raisins
125g sultanas
100g suet
100g grated cooking apple
150g dark brown sugar

Bung (yes that's a technical term) everything into a bowl, stir and then spoon into a jar. Cover with a lid and leave for a week before using.

You can download the recipe here.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Gingerbread house 2012

I'm sorry I have posted this already and it's not even December but I am far too impatient. I went for a very traditional gingerbread house this year, but there is plenty of time for me to create something more unusual!
I will post more pictures when it really is the season!

Chocolate winner!

Congratulations Kathleen Hooper, you have won the Hotel Chocolate advent calender. Can you email me at with your address.
There will be more giveaways soon I promise. 

Sunday 25 November 2012

Oxo Good Grips winner.

Congratulations to Anita who has won the Oxo Good Grips set. I hope that she enjoys using the products and whips up some delicious goodies soon.
ps Don't forget there are still a few days to enter the Hotel Chocolate advent calender giveaway here. 

Wednesday 21 November 2012

A chocolaty giveaway

Yes, another giveaway and this time it's chocolate. Hurrah!

Hotel Chocolate have very kindly sent me an advent calender to try hoover up, and they will send one of you lucky people one too.
Of course I couldn't let them send one off to my lovely followers without making sure it tasted OK, I wouldn't be happy for you to have substandard goods.
But with just one chocolate I couldn't really tell... so I had to try another, and another (or five), I'm not sure if there will be any left by Christmas, it is delicious chocolate.

To win your own advent calender, leave me a comment below letting me know what you would love to find behind on of the doors.  You can also have extra entry into the draw if you are a follower of my blog/Twitter/Facebook or if you link to this giveaway on your own blog/Twitter/Facebook .  But please tell me via the comments below or I won't know. 

I will draw the lucky name out of a hat on Monday 26th November 12pm BST.
I'm really sorry but this giveaway is only open to residents of the UK.
Good luck!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Afternoon tea with QVC

Last week I took two bags full of goodies to a really lovely event in London. I was asked to provide an afternoon tea for the press launch of QVC's Spring and Summer 2013 range. They wanted goodies that would reflect some of these products. 

The items that they choose were as diverse as cushions, nail polish (I made iced gems in the various colours) eye shadows and Lulu Guinness purses! A challenge? Yes! But you know that I love a challenge  Well, actually, there was one challenge too far, they wanted macarons, which my oven won't let me make (that's my story anyway), so I had some help from Lou Lou P's Delights, macaron maker extraordinaire  She also made some amazing facsimiles of cocktail rings from chocolate (you can see them above in the ring boxes, yes they really are chocolate!) and the skull cupcake toppers are her's also. The chocolate lollipops are from Cake for Breakfast, but everything else was made by my own fair hands!

Don't forget to check out my latest giveaway here

Sunday 18 November 2012

Best ever shortbread recipe and a giveaway!

I was very fortunate to be sent a lovely package of Oxo goodies recently. (Not the gravy Oxo but Oxo bakeware) So don't get excited thinking that I am about to post a recipe for bolognaise!

They sent me a lovely bowl which I have to admit is super. I have broken all my medium baking bowls so this has come in very handy ,and is unbreakable...yea! I also received an oven thermometer (I have wanted one of these for ages) a fabulous offset spatula and a pastry brush.
I had a long hard think as to what I could whip up using my new tools.

My Dad has been in hospital for a looong time and I wanted to make him a little treat to cheer him up, and I thought shortbread would be perfect as it is not too fussy and great to make a cup of horrible hospital tea a little bit more special.

I have been searching for a good shortbread recipe for ages and not been able to find one that I was really happy with. Part of the problem was the ingredients I was using, all the advice is to use a bit of rice flour in the mix, as this gives the shortbread a nice crunch. Unfortunately every time I have needed to make shortbread I have been out of rice flour (isn't it always the way?) However on a recent trip to my local supermarket whilst passing the 'free from' aisle I happened upon some, so I snapped it up.
Again I trawled through my cookbooks, and, not being able to find a recipe I was happy with, I turned to my Nana's scrap book of recipes. It is really special to me to have her collection of newspaper snippets and handwritten recipes (she would be spending most of her day on Pinterest if she were alive now!). She was born in Scotland and lived in Ireland so if anyone knew how to make a good shortbread it would be her.

The recipe is so easy, you just bung (technical term) everything into the bowl and rub it together until it forms a dough.

5oz Plain flour
2oz rice flour or corn meal
6oz unsalted butter in cubes
2oz icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a baking tin with baking paper. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and rub them together with your fingers until they form a dough. Turn out onto the work surface and roll out until 1.5cm thick. Using a spatula cut the dough to form the bars of shortbread. Then create a pattern with a fork or a skewer. Sprinkle over some sugar. Bake for 30-40 mins until firm and golden brown at the edges. Once it is out of the oven gently go over the lines on the shortbread or re-do the holes to make them more visible.
(You can get a downloadable version here.)

I made a get well soon pattern on the shortbread to cheer up my Dad. I used a wooden skewer to make dots that formed a get well soon message. Then I sprinkled some sugar over the whole piece before baking.

Once the shortbread has baked you may need to go over some the dots again, but do it very carefully so as not to crack the pieces. I also cut through the bars where I had made the original marks while the shortbread was still warm.

After the shortbread had cooled I packaged it up to take with me on my next visit to the invalid. Unfortunately he has been in so long that he has started to loose his appetite but I hope these bars made with love will tempt him a little.

 I love my new Oxo goodies, the bowl is great as it is easy to get every last scrap of doughy goodness out and it is non-slip (great for a klutz like me). I have wanted a large off set spatula for ages to transport cakes and I really need an oven thermometer so I can make some macarons!  Oxo have kindly offered to send one of you lucky followers the same set that I received.

To win your own set, leave me a comment below letting me know what you would love to own from the Oxo cooking and baking range.  You can also have extra entry into the draw if you are a follower of my blog/Twitter/Facebook or if you link to this giveaway on your own blog/Twitter/Facebook .  But please tell me via the comments below or I won't know. The competition is open to everyone.
I will draw the lucky name out of a hat on Sunday 25th November 12pm BST.
I'm really sorry but this giveaway is only open to residents of the UK.
Good luck!

I haven't received payment for this post but I did receive the Oxo products as shown.
(Keep you eyes peeled for another giveaway later this week!)

Thursday 8 November 2012

Book club cake of the month...November

How organised am I? We only had our book club meeting last night! Normally it takes me weeks to get the post out. So enjoy this new found diligence because it certainly won't last for long.

Anyway, this month, we read The House Of Mirth by Edith Warton. The story is set in 1890's New York and is about Lily Bart a 29 year old (which meant nearly past it!) but very beautiful woman, who is relatively poor compared to the social circle she moves in, and is reliant on her wealthy friend's patronage. She makes a series of self destructive choices and her life starts to unravel.
We all really enjoyed this book, and felt the story had a universality and wasn't confined to the period and social set that it was written about. There are equally self destructive people today who it could apply to. A few of the group did want to give Lily a good shake and tell her to get a grip, but we all felt sympathiy for her situation and a couple of us had shed some tears by the end of the story.
We gave it a solid 8 with no less than 7.5 and a few 9s.

As the characters in the book are constantly drinking tea, I made Earl grey cupcakes. I added a little piece of shortbread  to make tea and biscuits! I am not a tea drinker myself but I found these delicious!
Next month we are having an informal Christmas get-together and may try to read something seasonal.

Previous book club cakes of the month;

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Underwater party

I was sorting through my images, and realised I never posted the pictures of little kidlet's underwater party! (You can see the invitations way back here.)
Sorry, I hope you enjoy them now even though it's a few months late.

She wanted an Octonaut party, but, being a mean Mummy who hates character cakes I persuaded her to change the theme to a general underwater party. 
We found the Ralph Lauren fabric and that sparked the colour scheme and the line drawing details.

These oysters with their faces were especially requested.

I have to admit that I never make meringues, as they tend to burn in my oven, but they do look pretty, so I get in shop bought! We had jelly with gummy fish floating around.

Mini cupcakes (as kidlets never eat all the big ones) with underwater creature toppers. I made a version of my favourite iced gems. These are lustrous pearls.

I am a bit obsessed with ruffles so I added ombre wave ruffles onto the cake.

Of course no party is complete without a pinata. You can see instructions on how to make your own here.
It seems like a very long time ago, but it's lovely to be able to look back and remember my kidlet's happy face! 


Sunday 4 November 2012

Some R&R

I have spent a few days resting up at my parent's house before the crazy pre-Christmas rush. The kidlets and myself enjoyed a family pumpkin party and a fireworks display. I have been Instagraming like crazy, so I thought I would share some with you.
(my Instagram tag is @neviepie if you want to follow my daily jaunts!)

Thursday 1 November 2012

Pretty munchkins

No, this has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz, but munchkin pumpkins. My local supermarkets have been selling these tiny beauties in the run up to Halloween and I couldn't resist. They are the perfect size for painting. I covered them in a few coats of gesso and then painted them with using watercolours. Maybe next year I'll do a really big one!
You can tell that I was really happy with this project, due to the number of pictures I have taken!