13 Nov 2013

Looking For The Cake Pop Stars

{a competition}

Yes I know...another cooking post. But is it is actually an entry to a cake pop competition, so I guess that's a bit of an excuse. Besides I had the best intention to sew something so I promise something interesting very soon.

So back to the competition. Cake pops have slowly been making an appearance here in Germany and I made my first cake pops last year for Halloween but at that time I couldn't find cake pop sticks or suitable decoration so had to order them from the US.That has all changed now...

One of the shops that joined in the cake pop craze is Strauss Innovation. A nice shop whose product range changes about once a month and one is sure to find everything from colorful piknick plates and baskets to cute Christmas decoration, from sweet cupcake boxes to girlie polka dot bed linens. So I often go there but I didn't see the competition leaflet. The mum of Lovely Kindergarten Best Friend passed it on and so I decided to give the competition my best shot.

And yes there is a price, and yes, I hope I'll win one of 10 duck blue "kitchen aid" look-a-likes.

And since Cristmas is only six weeks away...yes...six weeks...I though that Christmas cake pops are completely in order.


 



As always the internet was full of inspiration.

Do you like one of the cake pops more the rest?
My favorite are the ginger bread houses. They are completely my own creation and look so cute.

SO, fingers crossed! I'll let you know how the competition goes.

Have a nice evening!

Love,
Irina xx




4 Nov 2013

Belated Halloween

{ has it really been so long}

My dearest readers, I can't quite believe that it has been six months since my last post. Of course I made things over the past months (I would have gone crazy if I didn't) but some how I didn't find the time to blog.
I am planning a post to show you how the past few months have been but in the mean time here are some photos from our little Halloween party last week. It was so much fun making everything...the witch's fingers were my absolute favorite.




Witch's broom sticks and witch's fingers- everyone loved them! I followed this really easy tutorial and they turned out so realistic plus they had the added benefit of actually being cookies. The red dye was my addition (simply dilute some red food color in a little bit of water and use a paint brush to make the blood splatters) It definitely added to the effect.
For the brooms I used cheese strings which was much easier than the tutorials I found on Pinterest.


We couldn't skip the cake pops following last years Cake Pop Halloween Party so they seem to become a bit of party tradition in our home. I always use Dr Oetker's Chocolate Cake Mix and they are delicious every time plus I dip them in white chocolate so they were more like double chocolate cake pops.  They are sprinkled with black and orange sugar which I got in a little package from Lovely Mum.




Yes, Lovely Little Son has grown up quite a bit. He definitely helped making sure there are no Dragon's Nails ( aka Buggles) left.



Although a bit cheesy in my opinion, this bowl proved a great hit with the kids. It not only slapped your hand when you tried to get a sweetie but it also gave out a scary growl.  No wonder a few packs of sweets remained untouched...



Mummy sausages - they tasted yum and were really easy to make but I am not sure the kids really knew what a mummy was...maybe next year.



Some girlie scull cookies which no question tasted delicious but were a bit time consuming. I know that blogland is filled with beautiful cookies and informative tutorials, but despite the Royal Icing Sugar which a lovely friend bought back from the UK ( thank you!) I just couldn't get it right. Hours of you tube video watching also didn't help...the consistency of my icing was nothing like those videos showed. Yes, I know you can't tell (unless you are LilaLoa) but after the seventh cookie I just gave up. But the eye lashes and the orange bow were real fun to make.

Hope you are all having a great week!

Love,
Irina xx

18 Apr 2013

French Macarons

{who doesn't fancy a little challenge}

"Oh no" you'll say "another baking post, what is wrong with that woman". I am looking for sewing inspiration, I promise, but at the moment I find my therapy in trying out various yummy, undeniably fatty but never the less relaxing to make little sweet treats. 


French macarons have been on my To Bake list for ages. I have seen countless you tube videos and even had a dream of making them, so I knew I had to try. So when I came across a fabulous food blog called Love and Olive Oil  - check it out it has some amazing recipes and food photos, I decided to join the monthly challenge which was...you guessed it...macarons.

Two macarons attempts later I finally ended up with the most delicious Nutela filled macarons. As a complete baking geek I sat in front of the oven looking as the little meringue circles created little domes, and kept peeking through the glass door as I couldn't see any feet. No feet, no macarons. Halleluiah, 20 min later and they were ready...the sweetest, but no too sweet and chewiest, but not to chewy and absolutely delicious macarons. They were maybe a bit too big but never the less I was ecstatic. Pastry chefs all over the world go to baking classes to learn to make those famous macarons and there was me, in my tiny kitchen in Frankfurt enjoying self made macrons. OK, I did eat one or five two but they undeniably tasted better the next day.



 
So the verdict :
-  macarons are not hard to make. Notice, I didn't say they were easy, I just don't think they are hard to make.
- know your stuff - read a few tutorials, watch a few videos and although I personally didn't age my egg whites I do believe that there are certain little tricks to help you succeed.
- learn to make a good filling - the flavor of macarons comes from the filling. There are some great ideas on the internet and I quite liked one which used the egg yolks to make vanilla cream.
- don't be scared, you only need three ingredients so it can't be that tricky, right. And although they are famously known as macarons their other name is cookies. See it doesn't sound so scary any more, anyone can make cookies. So face your fears and if you don't succeed the first time than try again.

If you think you would like to try making your own French macarons than check out these great blog posts which will help you in your "perfect macaron quest". They certainly make for a good reading and provided me with the knowledge I needed to make those delicious little treats.


Love and Olive Oil has some great links at the bottom of the post - link here.
I used a simple recipe from Bake at 350 - link here. There you'll also find links to some great posts by the Brave Tart well worth the read if you want to know all about macarons.

Hope you are having a great week and enjoying the late arrival of Spring. Enjoy the sunshine.

Love,
Irina


P.S. I almost forgot...here is my first attempt. They were pink, yay... but too fragile.



4 Apr 2013

Oven Baked Sea Salt Courgette Crisps

{who would have thought}


After making the chocolate chip cookies three times I really needed something healthier and definitely not sweet, so when I saw these courgettes crisps on Pinterest I had to try them. They are really easy to make and here is my variation - it uses sea salt and raps oil.
The secret is to choose a nice, fresh, more on the larger side courgette.

So here is what you'll need:
Courgette
Sea salt
Raps Oil

Cut the courgette into a 1mm thin slices. Place the slices on kitchen paper towel. This will remove some of the moisture from the courgette. Line a tray with baking paper and place your slices. You don't need to leave space between them as they'll shrink a bit anyway. Sprinkle over a pinch of sea salt. You can add more salt after they crisps are ready. Use a pastry brush and brush some raps oil over the courgettes. Bake at 160C for about 30-40 min.




I couldn't resist posting a couple of photos on my baby boy who is 10 months old today...where did the time go...look at these sweet cheeks...



And I also must share this photo of Easter in my girl's dolls house. Did you think the dolls don't celebrate Easter, of course they do! And can you spot the little wooden sewing machine in the background...yes the dolls have a sewing machine too!


Hope you are having a lovely week!

Love,
Irina

29 Mar 2013

Happy Easter!

{ it is almost Easter}

I love Easter! It is my second favorite holiday of the whole year and this year as usual I was looking forward to Easter - to decorate the house again, to dye Easter eggs with my girl, to tell her the story of Jesus and to actually wave goodbye to that long horrible winter. Well, the horrible winter doesn't seem to have any intention of going away, it was in fact snowing today here in Frankfurt. I mean, come on, its almost Easter...

And than I realized that I haven't blogged for the whole of March. Noooo! I have been doing so many things...mostly baking and crafting. I just didn't seem to have the camera handy or the time to put any photos on my blog.

So this year as every year, on the Thursday before Good Friday we colored some eggs. We didn't do any of my "famous" cotton pads eggs but we tried leaf printing and the old method with the lace tights. The colors turned out really rich and vibrant (despite the last yellow egg which didn't color very well, but for some reason it has found its way right on top of the basket . Better attention to detail next time).


And here is our Easter tree... It actually stays on the ledge of the big window.
It's in the middle of the room just for the photo.


And as Kindergarten was closed today and I had too keep little fingers away from mischief Lovely Little Big Daughter and I baked some chocolate chip cookies. And boy, were they absolutely chewy and delicious.





Here is the recipe if you'd like to make some. The cookie dough takes 5 min to make and it was enough for 16 cookies. I guess you can double up the recipe if you have lots of visitors over the Easter break.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies ( from Cooks.com)

1/2 cup butter (about 100 gr)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 tsp.salt

Mix all ingredients well and use an ice-cream spoon to scoop out balls from the dough. Line a tray with baking paper and put about seven or eight little balls. Bake at 160C for about 8 min. ( Time could vary but it will be between 6 and 10 min).

If you are not sure how to get that lovely rounded edge on your cookies than check out this post by Design Mom on the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. As you can see mine have the yummy edge but I guess it's only begginers luck.

Wishing you all a lovely Easter!

Love,
Irina xx

28 Feb 2013

Cotton pads colored Easter eggs

{ a little twist from last year}

Tomorrow is the first of March which means that Easter is a mere four weeks away. Wasn't it Christmas just yesterday? Well, we do love Easter in our home, it just some how feels a bit sooner this year.
So today I took out my Easter supplies and little Easter bits and bobs which I bought last year after the holiday was over and hope I'll come up with some creative ideas to share with you.

But first things first - Easter eggs. There is no Easter without Easter eggs and in our home Easter egg decorating is taken very seriously. I usually boil up to thirty eggs which after decorating are displayed in a basket and left to grace the dining table for up to a week. Yes, in that week there are lots of egg sandwiches, eggs and brioche, eggs in salads, eggs taken to kindergarten...you get the idea!

Last year a showed you how to color eggs using make up cotton pads. You will find the old post and tutorial here.
  
I love how the eggs turn out each time... so colorful and really really happy.

So this year I decided to use the same technique but only apply one color at the time. I chose blue and green and I think the result is quite stylish.






Lovely Little Big Daughter was still off sick from kindergarten, and feeling much better she declared that summer was much more fun than winter..."because you are not sick and you can go the beach and eat ice cream". I had to agree...


Happy Easter crafting!

Love,
Irina xx

27 Feb 2013

What to do at home with sick kids

{bake cupcakes}

It is the season of the viruses and I can tell you we had our fair share this winter. So there was no surprise when I was woken up in the middle of the night by a tearful little girl with very high temperature. We managed the night somehow, and after a trip to the doctor I knew I had to occupy my little one or let her watch endless hours of TV. And so I said " Lets bake something" and she said " Yes, pizza!" ...and I said " Uh, I meant something else, like cupcakes"..."Oh" she said "cupcakes are better than pizza"....So cupcakes it was.

After a quick Google search we chose what seemed  an easy Vanila Buttermilk Cupcake recipe from Baking Bites. It took no time at all and there they were, twelve soft, moist, delicious looking cupcakes ready to be iced. 
Another Google search and this time a video on You Tube by a Nigella Lawson lookalike taught us how to use the piping bag and how to ice the cupcakes. A bit of purple food color ( remember I had to buy a selection of rainbow colors recently) and we were ready to rock...well, to ice the cupcakes to be more precise.







They were yummy!

Hope you are having a nice, virus free week!

Love,
Irina xx