Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Easter Iced Cookies

I think that cookies are a good way to celebrate all occasions, so here are some fun Easter and spring time cookies. Plus I got to use Yolky (the very cute egg separator) for the first time.

Recipe: Easter Iced Cookies

225g plain flour
100g sugar
125g butter
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsps water
Pinch of salt

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4
2. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar
3. Using your fingers, rub the cubes of butter into the flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs
4. Stir in egg yolk and enough water to hold the mixture together, form into a ball
5. Wrap the ball of dough in foil and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
6. Roll out on a floured board to approximately 0.5cm thick and cut into shapes
7. Bake on a greased baking tray in the centre of the pre-heated oven for approximately ten minutes, until lightly golden

Decorate using pastel shades of icing and all manner of pretty sprinkles:

Send some to a friend, if you can bare to spare a few:

And finally, go out and enjoying the beautiful spring sunshine we've been having in England today!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Fancy-Looking Desert in 1 Minute

So you know when someone is coming around for dinner and you don't have time to make a pudding (or when you've had a looong day at work and need a pudding), well here is a suggestion of how to jazz up even the plainest of ice creams to make it look like a fancy pudding.

Melt a couple of square of chocolate (whatever kind takes your fancy, I love dark) and using a teaspoon, drizzle over the ice cream so it sets in a fancy pattern:

... et voila, a fancy-ish looking pudding in under a minute!

P.S. Try not to serve in a chipped bowl like I did!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Greetings Card Art

I wanted something to brighten up our (very magnolia) bathroom and something that would remind me of holidays and happy places and when Dave received this lovely Birthday card from my Mum and Step Dad, I decided it would make perfect bathroom art:

I adore this picture of Port Isaac in Cornwall. It's by Susie Grindey who is absolutely amazing- I adore her style and am trying to pick an original to ask for very nicely as a Birthday present (I have fallen in love with them, but my Birthday isn't until May!) I'm thinking one of Bath as I went to uni there and it holds lots of happy memories for me, or maybe one of Cornwall, where we spent lots of holidays as children and still do now. They're all so lovely, it's impossible to choose!

Anyway, for now I have popped it in an Ikea Nyttja frame to get my fix:

So now I can dream of beaches, ice creams and the beautiful Cornish coastline every day, ahhh.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

March's Seasonal Recipe: Mini Rhubarb Crumbles

This month's seasonal veg (which is actually also a fruit!) is forced rhubarb. It's a bit of a cheat as it's force grown and so whilst not actually 'in season' as such, it's usually prevalent in March to make up for the lack of other seasonal produce.

I initially intended to make this healthy desert from Tesco's Real Food magazine:

But then I decided it would be much more fun to make mini rhubarb crumbles, particularly as the weather seems to have given up on its recent attempt at spring.

Makes 5 mini crumbles

200g forced rhubarb (around 4 stalks)
75g plain flour
35g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling over rhubarb
35g butter

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/360℉/Gas Mark 5
2. Cut the rhubarb into chunks of approx 5cm (here I cut them to fit the base of these ramekins, which came from those delicious Gü puddings- heavenly, but so not thrifty)
3. Sprinkle a bit of caster sugar over the top of the rhubarb and set aside
4. Measure out the flour and sugar and then rub the butter in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
5. Pour the crumble mix over the top of the rhubarb
6. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and the topping is lightly golden

Serve whilst warm with ice cream or custard.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Mothers' Day Flowers and my 'Magic Board'

This Sunday is Mothers' Day here in the UK and although my Mum and I are doing something nice next weekend (Ideal Home Show- hurrah!) I won't be seeing her this Sunday. In a moment of domestic bliss, we made our Mums (or Mom in his case) a card each. Here is my effort:

The card in itself is not that exciting (cut out flowers with a blob of glitter glue on a used yellow wrapping paper background), although it is quite pretty. What is exciting, however, is what is behind it- my new 'magic board'. I first decided I needed a magic board after seeing this post. I'm not sure I'd go as far as saying that the board changed my world, but I am certainly feel that it is a step in the right direction towards better photos.

Here it is in the making:

Cut to size and ready for primer

Two coats of Crown Eveningwear and still patchy

The finished product, being modelled by some beautiful flowers I was given by the lovely Dave

Now maybe you're thinking that a 'magic board' is just a fancy name for a piece of painted MDF (which may be true), but it's a million times better than the rather rubbish paint in The Lodge as a background- see how scratched and marked it is behind Mr and Mrs Santa:

My magic board advice would be:

1. Use matt paint (this was very well-received advice from badskirt's blog)
2. Use undercoat- although I should have used grey, not white, given how bright the colour is
3. Use emulsion as it washes off, unless you want to get in a big ol' mess
4. Buy rollers from (yep, you guessed it) Pound Land- I don't find ones from DIY stores any better unless you spend a lot- not worth it for a magic board!
5. Pick a sunny day, so your board dries quickly and can be left outside

Friday, 9 March 2012

British Pie Week: Pork, Mushroom and Mustard Pie

There is nothing I like better than an excuse to eat pie and one has come along at just the right time in the form of British Pie Week- 5th-11th March.

To celebrate such a marvellous event, I have come up with a simple recipe for a pork, mushroom and wholegrain mustard pie- what better way to start the weekend?

Pork, Mushroom and Wholegrain Mustard Pie

4 servings

2 x pork chops
1 x onion
Handful of mushrooms
2 x leeks
250ml creme fraiche (or make a roux with milk, a bit of butter and flour if you're trying to be healthy!)
2 tsps wholegrain mustard
1 packet of puff pastry (or make your own if you have time to spare)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas Mark 6
2. In a large, non-stick pan, seal the pork and then add the leeks, mushrooms, onion. Stir fry for a few minutes, until the leeks, onions and mushrooms have softened
3. Meanwhile, roll out the pastry to fit a greased baking tray/dish- don't forget to leave enough for a lid (and a motif if you like!)- make sure a little pastry is over the sides of the dish
4. Pour the creme fraiche and spoon the mustard into the pan, stir and season to taste
5. Scoop the pork and mushroom mix into the pastry-lined dish
7. Cover with the pastry lid, cut off any excess and press the lid onto the exposed sides using a fork
8. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, until golden and risen.

Thrip for leftover mustard: stir it into mashed potato for a livelier taste.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Honey Flapjacks

One of my favourite quick cook, little mess puddings is a good batch of flapjacks. You only need to use one saucepan and a baking tray and best of all, they only take 15-20 minutes in the oven.

I use this BBC Good Food recipe, which makes chewy, soft flapjacks, which I like to imagine are slightly more healthy than their golden syrup counterparts:

To make mine thriftier (after all cooking sweet treats never seems to be cheap!) I used £1 honey and £1 dried cranberries from Poundland. I know I sound like their sales rep at the moment, but there are some serious bargains to be had for us thrifty types! Plus, I now have a healthy snack for the rest of the week and something sweet for my toast.

These are good to cook alongside your dinner in the oven, as they want to be done at around 180 degrees, like lots of tasty dinners, e.g fish and leek pie.

Best of all, The Lodge now smells delicious!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Under Sink Storage

I'm sorry if this topic seems mundane, but today I have been re-organising the infamous cupboard under the sink- a graveyard for half empty bottles of bleach and a bottomless pit for packets of dishcloths, floorwipes and fabric conditioner.

This is what it looked like before with everything crammed in:

This inevitably lead to kitchens cleaned with fabric detergent and Dave trying to use WD-40 to wash the clothes (I exaggerate, but you get the gist).

My answer to this problem was nothing radical, but came from my new favourite bargain paradise- Poundland. For £5 I got 5 of these plastic containers:

I now have one for kitchen cleaning, one for bathroom cleaning, one for cloths, one for spare bulbs, candles and matches, and one for the other assorted odds and sods that seem to accumulate under the sink:

So there we go. At least now, everything has a place. £5 well spent if it means I spend less time hunting down the furniture polish/bleach/duster in the far corners of the cupboard!

For now, I will leave you with how beautiful an under sink cabinet can look (ahh, one day): here at iheartorganizing, or this hanging rail on Pinterest and finally or this brilliantly quirky bike sink on Pinterest.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

'Get Well Soon' Freezer Meals

We have just got back from a mad weekend in London and Kent, visiting friends, celebrating Birthdays and delivering some meals for the freezer to a very dear relative of ours who isn't well at the moment. 

We had a bit of a cooking frenzy of these 'get well soon' meals that resulted in an emergency dash into my latest thrift paradise- Poundland- for some freezer and microwave friendly tubs (8 for £1!)

I then had a bit too much fun labelling them with the coloured pens:

We ended up with a bit of a stack (vegetable lasagne, carrot and coriander soup and parsnip soup):

This got me thinking that I should get back into making more meals for the freezer, we've been so busy in the evenings lately and it would be rather nice to get home and de-frost a ready-cooked meal. I'd betting get writing this week's freezer-friendly shopping list...