Christmas Chutneys!





Christmas jams and chutneys! Exciting stuff. I spent 4 hours today perfecting my chilli jam and red onion chutney to put in hampers for Christmas. Even though it’s really quite time consuming, chutneys and jams make lovely presents and are perfect for when you’re on a budget!

I managed to pick up some lovely Kilner jars for £1.99 each from Dunelm, and I got all the fruit/veg from my local market so each jar cost less that £3 to make. When they’re chilled I’ll use some scraps of gingham fabric and ribbon to top them off!

It’s important to remember to steralise your jars before you put the jam/chutney in. I do it by popping them in the oven at about 180c whilst I’m cooking but you can also boil them up or even put them in the dishwasher. The dishwasher might seem like the easiest option but the jars must still be warm when you decant the jam/chutney. If you’re not careful when steralising then all your hard work will go to waste as the contents will go off pretty quickly. Make sure you steralise all utensils too!

Here are the recipes- definitely worth a try if you’ve got the patience!
RED ONION CHUTNEY
  • 6-8 red onions
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar 
Thinly slice the red onions and sauté in olive oil for about 10 minutes. It’s important not to let the onions get brown. This shouldn’t happen if you keep them on a low heat and stir frequently.
When they start to soften add the caster sugar and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the red wine vinegar and balsamic and bring to the boil for a few minutes.

Turn the heat down and leave to simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced and the onions become sticky.

Take off the heat and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.

Put in sterilised jars and leave to cool completely before putting into the fridge to keep.

Red onion chutney gets better with age so make it now ready for Christmas! Once opened it should last 3 months if refrigerated.
And the chilli jam recipe. This one is slightly adapted from the BBC Good Food website. You’ll need a food processor or a blender for this one.
CHILLI JAM
  • 8 red peppers
  • 10 red chillis
  • Large piece fresh root ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes
  • 750g caster sugar
  • 250ml red wine vinegar
Deseed and roughly chop the red peppers. Peel and roughly chop the root ginger and garlic cloves. Chop up the chillis (keep the seeds!). 
Add the peppers, ginger, garlic and chilli to a food processor or blender and whiz up until the mixture is pureed.

Put the puree in a large pan and add the tomatoes, sugar and red wine vinegar.

Bring to the boil and remove any ‘scum’ (for want of a better word) that rises to the surface.
Take down the heat and leave to simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally. 
When the mixture has become sticky simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring frequently. 
Take off the heat and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before decanting into steralised jars.  
Leave to cool completely before putting in the fridge. It should keep for about 3 months if kept refrigerated once opened.

So that’s that! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Merry Christmas!! xxx
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Butternut squash, ginger and lime soup

Tonight I’m making butternut squash soup with ginger and lime for my housemate and my BFF. It’s super easy and tasty and it’s nice and warming for winter evenings. I’ve also got a loaf of white bread in the oven!

Here’s the recipe, enjoy!
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 1 ginger root
  • 2 small limes
  • 1000ml of chicken or vegetable stock (I prefer chicken)
  • Couple of dash’s of olive oil 
Preheat the oven to 180c (fan).

Half the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for half an hour.

Whilst the squash is roasting, roughly chop the onion and add to a pan of olive oil. Cook until soft but not brown, this usually takes around 15 minutes.

Grate the ginger and add to the onions.

Toss in the oil for about 10 minutes before squeezing the limes in.

When the butternut squash is soft, you’ll be able to scoop it out of the skins and pop it into the pan with the onions, ginger and lime.

Continue to cook for another 10 minutes then add the stock.

Leave to reduce for 20 minutes then whiz it up and voila!

The perfect winter warmer :) serve with big slices of crusty white bread.

Merry almost Christmas!
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Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes



Here's the recipe...
  • 8oz margarine
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tsp instant coffee- I LOVE Kenco Millicano
  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • Handful of roughly chopped walnuts
Whisk up the marg and sugar until creamy. 
Add the eggs. 
Mix 3tsp of instant coffee with a splash of boiling water to make a paste. Add the paste to the mixture.

Add the flour and whisk.

Fold in the chopped walnuts and spoon into 12 muffin cases or 16-18 fairy cake cases. Bake for 25 minutes on gas mark 5.

In the meantime, make some mocha buttercream. I would put a recipe up for buttercream but I don’t know how I do it. I just throw in like an spoonful of marg and then add the sugar until it’s thick enough to stick on the whisk. I’m sure if you Google it you’ll get a great one. Then just add some more coffee paste and a tsp of cocoa powder.

Voila! All ready to pipe on when the cakes are cool.

Enjoy!!
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Vintage and Handmade Fair






So as you all know today was the Vintage and Handmade Fair that I’ve been preparing for for what seems like forever. Business was slow but I did pretty well! The hyacinths went down really well. A lot of people weren’t parting with their money though, hard times etc. Either way, it was great fun and there were loads of super talented people.

My favourite stall there was ‘Oh Sweet Bag of Mine’ by Stacey Orr. Her stuff is amazingly bright and colourful and creative. I am planning on investing on one of her lunch bags!
You can check out her stuff and purchase those glorious lunch bags here.

Watch this space as all the stuff that didn’t get sold today will be up on there tomorrow or Monday.

I also have to say a big thanks to my oldest and best friend Elle who sat with me allll day long and kept me company, you should all follow her by clicking here.
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Lemon Crunch












I wanted to share this recipe for a long time but I’ve just not got round to it. It’s been in my family for a few generations and I absolutely love it. It always goes down well and it’s so easy to make. There’s no baking or weighing involved.

So here’s the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
  • 1 pack of digestive biscuits
  • 3 big tablespoons of margarine
  • 1 standard carton of double cream (I use Elmlea)
  • 1 standard tin of condensed milk
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons
The part of this recipe I enjoy the most is smashing up the digestive biscuits. Get a rolling pin and smash the shit out of them, until they’re all crumby.
Melt the margarine and add to the crushed digestives. Mix well and then press into a flan dish and put in the fridge to chill.
For the filling, whip up the double cream until it’s thickened up. This could take about 5 minutes with an electric whisk so persevere! Slowly add the condensed milk.

Add the zest and juice of the lemons. Give the mixture a good whisk as it can separate.
Pour the mixture in to the now chilled base and pop into the fridge. For best results leave over night but it’ll taste good after an hour or 2!

Sorry about the photos, they’re not really very informative but you get the idea!

Any Q’s feel free to ask!

S xxx
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Hyacints in teacups...




I thought I’d add some variation to my stall at the Vintage and Homemade Fair and potted up these bad boys today.

My mama had a vintage tea set lying around so we planted some white hyacinth bulbs in them and covered them with moss. We also decoupaged some plant pots last time I was home and there’s some in there but I didn’t get any photos.

I think they look pretty cool now and they’ll look even better when they flower!
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Sewing my life away...





I’m spending the day sewing in preparation for my stall at the Vintage and Hand Made fair on Saturday (which you should all head down to if you’re from Leicestershire!) but it’s proving very difficult due to the amazingly cute kitten who keeps trying to catch the needle.
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Carrot cupcakes


I made some carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting the other day and omg they were amazing.

Here’s the recipe I used adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe. I like mine quite orangy so adapt that to suit yourself!

CUPCAKES:

  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tsp mixed spice
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 200g grated carrots
  • Splash of orange juice (I used Topicana with juicy bits, the mixture is a bit stiff so just use as much as it takes to get a good consistency. If you like your cakes less orangy you could also use milk or water.)

ICING:

  • 100g olive spread/marg
  • 300g cream cheese (unfortunately it had to be full fat and it works a lot better if it’s more of an expensive brand like Philli)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180c/160c fan 
Mix together all the dry ingredients thoroughly and then add the beaten eggs and sunflower oil before folding in the carrots. 
Add as much OJ as you need and then put in 12 muffin cases and make for 20-22 minutes or until cooked through.

Whisk together the cream cheese and the butter and then add the icing sugar and vanilla essence. Pipe on to cooled cupcakes. 

Enjoy :)
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Cake International at Birmingham NEC









Yesterday I went to Cake International at Birmingham NEC and it was PHENOMENAL. There were loads of demonstrations on basic stuff like tempering chocolate but then loads more advanced stuff on sugar/cake craft and it was amazing. I learnt loads and also got a handy cupcake carrier for a bargain £20! I’ll post a photo and the web address soon.

The cake competitions were amazing. I was a bit disappointed by the cupcakes though hence why I didn’t take any photos of them. There’s only so creative you can be with 10cm diameter.

It finishes today but if you live in/near Birmingham you HAVE to go. There’s wasn’t much cake to eat disappointingly…

Loads of stalls, loads of cakey bits and bobs, loads of demonstrations, generally fantastic day.
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Chocolate Muffins



I made some chocolate chip muffins the other day. They were amazing.

8oz self raising flour, 8oz marg, 4 eggs, 8 oz sugar, 5 heaped tbsp cocoa powder, about 50ml of milk and a bar of dairy milk chopped up or a packet of chocolate chips!

Bish bash bosh.
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Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Cream and Raspberries





Today I made cupcakes (for a change). This time they’re just a basic vanilla sponge with fresh cream icing.
CUPCAKES:
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 8oz margarine (I use Olivio)
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs 
ICING:

  • Tub of double cream
  • A sprinkle of icing sugar
For the cupcakes, cream the margarine and sugar. Add the eggs and beat, then add the flour and whisk. Pop in a splash of vanilla extract.  
For the icing, just whisk up some double cream until stiff then add the icing sugar until it stands up in strong peaks.  
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Baked Lemon Cheesecake



This afternoon I made a baked lemon cheesecake for sunday dinner dessert :) I’m still waiting for it to cool down so I can take it out the tin.

The recipe is:
  • 225g digestive biscuits
  • 100g melted butter
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Zest of 4 lemons, juice of 2
Just take to the pack of digestives with a rolling pin and throw it in with the butter (I always use Olivio marg.)  Whisk the rest together and bake at gas mark 4 for an hour.
I also threw the left over lemons in to a jug of sparkling water as it’s a super hot day in England and I hate waste.
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Cheesecake Brownies


This morning I was inspired by this post and decided to go ahead and try it out myself. The original recipe is by David Lebovitz and you can find it here . The baking tray I used was too big so they’re far too thin :( I need to double up next time.

The photos really don’t do them any justice! My DLSR is broke and I can’t afford to get it fixed so I’m currently using my Blackberry to take photos of my makes and bakes. Enjoy!
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Red Velvet Cupcakes





          CUPCAKES:
  • 60g margarine (I use Olivio olive spread)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Tbsp cocoa powder
  • Tbsp red food colouring
  • Tsp almond extract
  • 120ml sour cream
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
CREAM CHEESE ICING:
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g margarine
  • 150g cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
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