My Top Instagram Food Pictures 2016

Having seen a lot of ‘Instagram Best Nine’ posts recently I couldn’t help but join in. I did it last year too so how could I resist seeing the difference.

As I wrote in my previous post My Instagram 2016 I loved the best nine but because it was based on number of likes theses weren’t reflective of my favourite. I thought I would do my own! This is actually harder than it sounds, trying to pick my favourite nine photos from a whole year! Naturally I had to separate them into two categories ‘Family’ and ‘Food’. I have done a lot of baking and cooking this year and I am very proud of some of my creations so I really wanted to pick my Best Nine Food Photos.

Top Food Photos

I was so proud of this cake! It was a chocolate sensation and I already have something even more chocolaty planned for next easter!

Coffee, Ameretto, chocolate Ameretto biscuits. Saturday night 👊🏼 #lovelife #homebaking #instamum

A post shared by ✨ Kirsty ✨ (@winnettes) on

What a Saturday Night treat! These biscuits are some of our favourite and they are so quick and easy to make I can do it in under 20 minutes. (Shhh! Don’t tell Hubby he will want them all the time).

Homemade pizzas for dinner 😋😋😋

A post shared by ✨ Kirsty ✨ (@winnettes) on

Ok, so I know this is the only non cake picture and maybe I should have included more food, or perhaps I shouldn’t have included any? But I am hungry just looking at this pizza! Good job its on the menu this week!

Lime and chocolate macaroons for watching GBBO later 😋

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I can not watch Great British Bake Off without a sweet treat in hand! These macarons were filled with a lime curd surrounded by chocolate ganache… They were AMAZING! Even if i do say so myself.

Gin & Elderflower Macarons as suggested by (and dutifully delivered to) @klakey1 😋

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After posting about the previous macarons I had various suggestions of flavours given to me, the one i found most intriguing was the Gin & Elderflower… So what else could I do? I had to try and make them! I made a Gin Jelly for the middle and an Elderflower Buttercream. Delicious!

Aren’t I a good wifey! Aren’t I! What an amazing cake filled with smarties 😉  This was actually really good fun to make and far easier than I expected.  Chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream coated in sprinkles.

Fireworks biscuits for tonight 😋

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These were the start of my ‘festive’ baking.  I love how bright they are!

How could I go empty handed when visiting two of our favourite Uncles? Well I couldn’t! I had to gift them some chocolate macarons.  I taste tested…. They were up to standard!

Gingerbread Christmas Tree decorations! Seriously yummy! 😋😋😋

A post shared by ✨ Kirsty ✨ (@winnettes) on

Finally, some Christmas baking.  These were such good fun to make and design I had to include them.  They didn’t make it to the tree!

I am really looking forward to lots more Instagram posts in 2017.  I will definitely be doing another Food Roundup next year although it really is hard to keep it to nine!

 

Gingerbread Biscuit Christmas Tree Decorations

As part of my Christmas baking plans I thought I would make some gingerbread tree decorations.

I love gingerbread; it is one of my favourite biscuits. The only problem with that is I find it hard to only eat one at a time. I usually discover I have eaten three in a row without realising it!

I have tried various gingerbread recipes over the years but this is by far my favourite.

Recipe

400g Plain Flour

1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

2tsp Ground Ginger

2tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Ground Nutmeg

½tsp Allspice

180g Salted Butter (softened)

125g Light Brown Sugar

125g Treacle

1 egg

Method

  1. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and all spices into a bowl. I don’t sift this but you can.
  2. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. I use a paddle attachment on the freestanding mixer. You could also use a handheld whisk.
  3. Once light and fluffy add the egg and treacle*. Scrape down the sides to ensure a through mix
  4. Add the flour mixture slowly on a slow speed (unless you fancy doing a ghost impression for the post man who invariably turns up at this point wanting a signature!). Ensure you scrape down the sides.
  5. Once a dough has been formed take it out of the mixture and wrap it in clingfilm. Place this in the fridge for 4-6 hours to fully rest. If you want to rest it for less time split the mixture into ¾ portions. Once it is hard it is ready for rolling.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  7. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. I use baking spray to secure this to the tray but I don’t spray the top of the paper where the biscuits will be.
  8. On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/2cm thick.
  9. Cut into desired shapes. I used round, holly leaves and snowflakes for this bake.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.
  11. Leave the biscuits to cool for a few minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*I have never worked out the best way to measure this out. However, what I do is place the treacle pot on my scales (digital will be easiest to do this with). I then ‘tare’ the amount so it shows as zero. I slowly spoon out the treacle bit by bit until the amount shows ‘-125g’. I don’t know if this is right but it seemed logical to me and it seems to work.

This makes a really dark gingerbread, which I personally prefer but I know lots of people prefer a lighter gingerbread. In this instance I would simply replace the treacle with golden syrup. The amounts required are roughly the same.

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To decorate I have used Royal Icing. You could also use Candy Melts if you preferred and they would work just as well.

Royal Icing

660g Icing Sugar, sifted

20g Pasturised Egg White Powder (or 4 egg whites)

½tsp Cream of Tartar

Method

  1. Prepare the egg white powder as per instructions. Usually this is mix with 50mls of water per 10g. But please double check.
  2. Mix in the powder until no lumps left and there is a think layer of bubbles.
  3. Put in the mixer with the cream of tartar and start whisking.
  4. If using egg white place these in the mixer and whisk until frothy with the cream of tartar.
  5. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is well combined after each addition.
  6. Mix on a medium speed for 15-20 minutes until bright white and stiff with a smooth texture.

For these decorations I used the royal icing in stiff and flood consistency. I don’t line the shapes before flooding. I simply use a scribing tool to bring the icing slightly closer to the edge if I need in small circular movements. This also removes any air bubbles that you do not want! To combine the water I use a spray to ensure I don’t add too much at once. For the stiff consistency I was looking for a toothpaste type mixture. For the flood consistency much more water is required. This is also referred to as 20 second consistency because when all the water is mixed in if you draw a line through the mixture (and into it) with a knife or skewer this line should disappear without a trace at 20 seconds. Not before or after.

If you add too much water then the best and only way to effectively thicken the icing again is to add more of the stiff royal icing. Simply adding icing sugar will make it grainy.

Once the biscuits are iced I leave them out over night to set or for at least four hours.

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For the colours I used:

Red: Squires Kitchen in ‘Poppy’

Green: Sugarflair in ‘Holly’

I also tinted some white icing with Squires Kitchen Teddy Brown, which I then painted with edible gold lustre.

To make the lustre into a paintable liquid add some alcohol to the dust. The reason you use alcohol is alcohol evaporates really quickly so it doesn’t dissolve the icing like water would. I like to use vodka because it is flavour and colourless so it doesn’t alter anything.

I added some silver ball dragees to the snowflakes and so silver lustre dust to make them a little sparkly.

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Oh and because I totally forgot to say I made the holes for the ribbon in the snowflakes and baubles using a straw from one of the girls sippy cups when I cut out the dough! I think any large straw would work. The holes did close up a little during baking which I expected but they were still large enough for a thin ribbon to fit through.

The final product: Ta Dah! (Ok, I know I’ve already put picture above but just pretend this is a grand reveal for me… Please.)

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Christmas Brownies

This post features on Bad Mum Magazine if you would like to check it out there and other fabulous articles highlighting the highs and lows of Motherhood.  We’re all in this together and our best is all we can do.

Who doesn’t love brownies? Ok, potentially a lot of people but we are not some of them! These are a firm favourite in our family and it has been a long time since I have made any. How could I resist a Christmas theme at this time of year?

I am a self confessed perfectionist when it comes to baking. Most things I make are designed to look perfect, they require precision and often a steady hand. The end result isn’t always what I had in mind and I am my harshest critic. I want to teach my girls how to bake and decorate but I struggle to give up some of the control. Brownies are perfect to do this with, they are not meant to look perfect. They should be rough around the edges and homely.

The recipe I have used for years is one from Humming Bird Bakery. It is gooey and because it uses real chocolate it has a very intense flavour. Ordinarily I don’t fiddle around with it but this time I added the zest of three oranges for a Christmas flavour twist to it. (I wanted to make it with a gingerbread flavour but Hubby told me I was insane and that would be disgusting…. I think it would taste nice. No?)

To ensure a smooth baking experience, prepare everything in advance. Measure out all of the ingredients into bowls and have any equipment and utensils to hand. Things can get forgotten or burnt/over mixed if you aren’t prepared.

‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’ Benjamin Franklin.

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To line a square tin this is how I cut the greaseproof paper, then I use a fry spray to stick it to the tin.

I melted the chocolate myself, as I didn’t want Pinky to get a steam burn. When melting chocolate ensure that the heatproof bowl you use fits snuggly in the saucepan without touching the bottom. If the bowl touches the bottom of the pan or the water you put in it the chocolate will burn and taste extremely bitter (not in a good chocolate way). If you get water in the chocolate it will split and go grainy. Yuk!

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Before adding the other ingredients I added the orange zest to the melted chocolate to ensure it mixed in well and didn’t clump. You could also use an orange essence but I haven’t found one I like yet. If anyone knows of a good essence brand let me know!

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Look at the serious face!

I use two square brownie tins when I am making these. This is bigger than the recipe recommends so mine come out thinner than intended but I like them this way. Because it is such a rich flavour it can get a bit sickly. I have always cut them up into small pieces but now I spread the mixture more the portion size can be cut bigger.

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I cooked these for 40 minutes at 180oC. The recipe says they should be done after 35 minutes. I learnt a long time ago (due to mistakes) that every oven runs at a different temperature. I have made these in 30 minutes before and I have also used an oven that meant they took over an hour to bake! The best way to check is get an oven thermometer. I don’t actually have one but I now know my oven well enough to know where the heat spots are and how accurate the temperature actually is. Use your instincts basically.   Baking can be all about trial and error.

Once these are done and cooled completely I cut them up into triangles. I had every intention of trying to make them all the same size… That didn’t happen (give it up love it doesn’t matter).

I decided to use some Candy Melts I had in the cupboard to decorate. These can be melted using the same method for chocolate or in the microwave. Once melted put in a piping bag (carful this is warm!) and pipe however you like. You could dip the brownie straight in if you wanted*. Then I added some smarties and sprinkles to finish the look (thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration).

*The candy melts are quite thick once melted which is ideal for piping rough details. Add a little vegetable fat to thin the mixture out if you are dipping (I would anyway). Be careful not to add too much fat, but if you do, add more candy melts to thicken it up a little again. Little by little is the key. Candy Melts can also be reused, if you have some left at the end leave to cool, it will harden at room temperature, then place in a sealed plastic bag until you want to use them again.

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I gave Pinky some triangles to decorate and she had so much fun. I use a cable tie at the top of the piping bag, which stops any mix coming out of the top. I find this useful myself but it even more effective for a three year old who doesn’t really have the two hand piping coordination. I put the smarties and sprinkles into bowls for her because, as I suspected, things got a little messy and no one would want to re use they ones she didn’t need!

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Spot the cable tie

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The final result….

TaDah!

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Perky trying to steal her sisters creations! Didn’t Pinky do a lovely job?
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Winter Cocktails

Winter is approaching fast and the temperature is certainly dropping. Each year my Mother in Law hosts Christmas for us and she always asks for some cocktail inspiration. Normally we have a Snowball for our Christmas Day cocktail but this year we are going to be trying something different… I’m just not sure what yet. As the weather is getting colder it is the perfect time for me to start getting out my usual host of cocktails I save specifically for this time of year.

Winter Jack Apple Pie

50mls Winter Jack Daniels

150mls Cloudy Apple Juice

Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

Pinch of Ground Ginger

1 Cinnamon Stick

  1. Heat up the apple juice and spices in a saucepan until boiling.
  2. Simmer for a couple of minutes
  3. Put the Winter Jack in a cup or heat resistant glass.
  4. Add the hot apple juice and stir.
  5. Enjoy!

I actually detest Jack Daniels but the Winter Jack tastes like apple pie in a glass. Hubby and I discovered it last year at the Christmas Markets in Vienna, when we came home it was the first thing we bought so we could make it ourselves.

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We got these boot cups in Vienna last Christmas.  Aren’t the cute?

Frozen Pomegranate Margarita

50mls Tequila

25mls Triple Sec

50mls Pomegranate Juice

  1. Put crushed ice and all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and looks like a Slush Puppy (Adults only!)
  3. Pour into a glass.
  4. Enjoy

Alternatively if you would prefer a traditional Margarita:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add all the ingredients and shake well.
  3. Pour some salt onto a flat plate.
  4. Wet the edge of the glass (I use a lime or orange wedge for this) and dip into the salt.
  5. Strain into a glass.
  6. Enjoy!

You can’t line the glass with salt if you make a frozen margarita because salt melts ice…. It’s a science this cocktail malarkey!

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So yummy!
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Have you noticed my pine cones?

Mulled Wine

1 Bottle of Red Wine

1 Orange

1 Cinnamon Stick

Star Anise

Ground Nutmeg

Ground Ginger

  1. Add everything to a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer.
  2. Serve once hot enough, this makes 3 servings.
  3. Enjoy

I haven’t added exact amounts of spices as it hugely depends on your personal taste. I don’t add cloves to my Mulled Wine, even though it is traditional to do so, because I really don’t like them and find them an over powering flavour.

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Look more pine cones!
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And check out that reindeer.. He’s my new favourite decoration!

Snowball

25mls Vanilla Vodka

25mls Advocat

100mls Lemonade

  1. Fill a glass with ice
  2. Add all the ingredients
  3. Stir well
  4. Enjoy!
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Image from goodtoknow.co.uk I figured I had drunk enough by this point (I may have had more than one margarita)

All of these serve 1 with the exception of the Mulled Wine.

Didn’t I do well not to add a gin one in?!

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Hubbys Burger Relish

Although I am the main cook in our household, for years it was actually Hubby. He has always had a really good understanding of flavours; I think he would have made an amazing chef if he had gone into that industry. Each week Sunday is his allocated day for cooking. This week we had hotdogs and homemade wedges. To add a little lift to the hotdogs he made up a little relish. He first made this a couple of weeks ago when we made burgers for dinner but I didn’t have any that time. This time I did taste it and it was absolutely delicious, so much so I asked if he wouldn’t mind me posting it on the blog.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. French’s American Mustard

2 tsp. Jalapenos, finely chopped

1 Garlic Clove, minced

½ Onion, finely diced

Method:

  1. Get all the ingredients ready. Dice, dice and dice some more.
  2. Mix all together in a bowl and add more of anything you think it needs, we find it perfect like this.
  3. Serve!

That is really it. It goes well with hotdogs and burgers. I’m sure it would also work and a quick alternative to chutney if you were serving cheese and crackers.

It isn’t the best thing to have on a first date unless you have a secret supply of chewing gum…

Let us know if you make this and what you think.

Happy cooking.

X

Salted Caramel Fudge

Each weekend I can’t resist doing a little baking. Sometimes I will even bake mid-week. Depending on our plans will depend on what I make, if we are in the house all weekend I will bake something that takes a little longer to complete such as macarons or iced biscuits. On weekends that we are out or generally busy I will make something that doesn’t take much time at all. This weekend I decided to make fudge. I have never made fudge before but I knew what ingredients I needed and I knew the theory behind it all. I also knew it should only take about 10-15 minutes to make. Having decided to make Salted Caramel Fudge I found a recipe online, I naturally decided I didn’t like the recipe and made it my own way… It worked so here is what I did:

Ingredients:

1x 397g tin of Condensed Milk (Full Fat)

200g Dark Brown Sugar

100g White Chocolate

125g Lightly Salted Butter

4 tbsp. Golden Syrup

Handful of Sea Salt Flakes

Method:

  1. Prepare a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium to low heat.
  3. Gently bring to the boil stirring continuously; ensuring all of the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and continue to stir for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has begun to thicken.
  5. Remove from the heat stir in the chocolate until completely melted.
  6. Pour into the baking tray.
  7. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and push lightly into the fudge mixture using a spatula or spoon so it doesn’t fall off when cooled (please be careful at this point, sugar burns are horrific). Leave to cool.
  8. Once cooled, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight if possible.
  9. Cut into equal square sizes and serve (ideally with tea or coffee…Yummy!)

It is important to keep stirring so the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry of that does happen, it will simply add a slightly bitter undertone which won’t detract from the over all finished product because of the sweet/salty nature of this fudge. Just go slow, keep the heat low and you can always increase it if needed.

I used my square brownie tin to make the squares but any baking tray with sides would do. I was desperate to use my new silicon moulds so I also made some fudge shapes (hearts, shells and stars). It was quite difficult getting the hot fudge mix into the moulds but it was worth the effort. They look super cute (the salt is on the bottom in this instance).

I made these while the girls ate their dinner. It took about 15 minutes in total (not including cooling time), if you heat the fudge mix slower than I did it may take a little while longer, but hopefully not much.

Let me know if you make these and how you get on.

Happy Baking

X

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Squires Kitchen Poppy Demonstration

Earlier in the year I completed a one day sugarpaste course at Squires Kitchen International School. Squires is a kitchen shop in Farnham, Surrey and they have a cookery school located behind the shop. This is a well renowned school, which was started by a lady called Beverly Dutton in her kitchen! It is amazing what you can achieve if you set your mind to it. The School runs courses all year round and not all of the classes require previous experience. Many of them are just for fun. Find out more here. They also often run evening demonstrations and exclusive shopping experiences, which are extremely good value for money.

This week I attended their Poppy demonstration and VIP shopping experience in recognition of Armistice Day. The demonstration lasted an hour and was very easy to follow and understand. There was a camera positioned above the tutor so everyone could see clearly what she was doing. The tutor had a few ‘blue peter moments’ where she had each stage already prepared so we could see the effect we were looking for before constructing the finished product. Each attendee was given a goodie bag which was filled with baking stuff.

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After the demonstration we were shown round to the shop, which was open after hours exclusively for us with special offers on for the evening.  As my Grandma has asked me to make a Christmas themed cake for December I went and stocked up on all the things I needed for that plus a little extra.

I am already a huge fan of Squires Kitchen. Their courses are accessible to all people of all baking abilities and their tutors and staff are really friendly. I was, of course, rooting for them during Great British Bake Off: The Professionals, which they won this year. They have that trophy proudly displayed within the school. The products they make themselves such as the flower paste and food colours are of extremely high quality, where possible I will choose their SK range over another.  All of their products are available on their online shop.

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I can’t wait to attend more of their classes or demonstrations. Aside from everything I have already said it can’t be ignored that part of why I enjoyed this evening so much was because it was a chance for a little ‘me’ time. A little break from being Mummy, I even had to leave before bath time. Lucky Hubby got to do that all by himself.

I paid for this demonstration and all items for myself.  Squires did not pay me in any way for this post (in fact they don’t even know I am writing it).  I would simply like to tell you all about my fun evening.

Fireworks Biscuits

I like to mark the traditional occasions in the best way I know how… With baking!

For those who are not familiar with it November 5th in Britain is Bonfire Night.  Or otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night.  Guy Fawkes was a man who specialised in explosives and was part of a gang in the early 1600’s who plotted to blow up Parliament. This was a religiously motivated plot and although Guy Fawkes wasn’t the mastermind or leader of the group (that was a man named Robert Catesby) he has become the most famous figurehead for the plot.  It is his face the group Anonymous use for their masks (incase you didn’t already know).  It is actually a very interesting time in history and I could go on about it but I won’t.  If you fancy reading more about the Gun Powder Plot then check out Wikipedia or The History Learning Site.

If I’m honest I find it a little strange that we still celebrate this occasion over 400 years later.  Not only do we celebrate it but we burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top of a bonfire, which is usually made by local school children and often paraded through the streets.  This is followed by a fireworks display (in sure its symbolic) that, if your lucky, the event organisers time to music.  I can’t guarantee the music will be any good but hey ho.  Alongside this all towns and villages across the country get the joys and delights of the fun fare.  All in the interest of tradition you understand!

With halloween the week before it is pretty much just a run up to get yours and your childrens’ guts ready for a barrage of sugary treats over the next couple of months.

Anyway… Where was I? Oh yes.  Baking.  Well to commemorate this bizarre tradition I decide to make some biscuits.  Hubby requested vanilla not gingerbread (I am already trying to sneak in the Christmas flavours) so I duly obliged.  Next time I’m not going to ask him.  I wanted to make some flame or fire ones but I didn’t really have the right food colouring so they didn’t work.  Well they worked, and looked like fire, just not of the right colour.  What really worked where my Firework biscuits.

I chose to make them with black icing to help the colours stand out. Once the icing had dried over a couple of hours I piped on lines and dots of various colours using a number 1 Wilton nozzle.  To make all of the colours including I used Sugarflair gel colours:

  • Black: Liquorice
  • Purple: Violet
  • Green: Lemon/Lime
  • Blue: Baby Blue
  • Pink: Pink
  • Orange: Tangerine/Apricot

Et voila!

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Let me know what you think! And stay tuned for more baking extravaganzas… Christmas is coming after all and I have some grand plans….

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