Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday No Bake - Top Hats

WhooooooooshThat was 2013 - where has the year gone?!

It's been a great year - the summer was a proper summer with hot sunny days and we had snow earlier in the year.  I love extremes of weather - better than the wet and windy Christmas we are having....

Now as a final treat for the year I am making Top Hats - these usually cause a huge Twitter discussion along with Chippy Sauce!  They are a Scottish kids party treat - so yummy and so easy to make.  Literally melt some chocolate - dip the bottom of a marshmallow in the chocolate and put into a petite four case, dip a Smartie or an M&M in the chocolate and stick to the top!  Do not mock these till you have tried them - I could eat the whole plate! 

Here's to a fantastic 2014 - Happy New Year to all my readers - whether you are a regular or just occasionally pop by - thank you :o)

My top ten countries based on pageviews are currently:

1.  UK
2.  US
3.  Russia
4.  Germany
5.  Australia
6.  Ireland
7.  China
8   Vietnam
9.  Canada
10. France 

What a range :o)

Hope to see you next year!


Today's top three party songs:

1. Jump Around - House Of Pain
2. Tiger Feet - Mud
3. Venus - Bananarama

Monday, 23 December 2013

Monday Review - Christmas in Edinburgh

We arrived in Edinburgh on Saturday.  We do year about; staying at home one Christmas and then coming up to Edinburgh the next.  

On Sunday Hubby and I braved town to pick up a few last minute bits.  We headed to Jenners to see the mahoosive Christmas Tree.  When I was wee I always wondered how they got it in there, surely by magic.  (I still wonder about the logistics but I don't ever want to know!)

We walked down to Bon Papillon for coffee.   We both had super frothy cappuccinos.  Hubby had a fruit scone and I had the beetroot ginger cake with lemon cheese frosting.   It was gorgeous - and look at how beautifully it was presented.  I love their mugs and plates.

Have a fantastic Christmas and I hope Santa is good to you!


Today's top three Christmas songs:

1. Wombling Merry Christmas - The Wombles
2. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como
3. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Monday, 16 December 2013

Monday Bake - Chocolate Spiced Ginger Cake

Earlier in the year FriendD said she would like to go to the Royal Albert Hall and would I go with her to see something.  She is my theatre buddy and we have been to see so many shows since we started working together.   We decided to book a Christmassy one - Jingle Bells Christmas.

We had excellent seats in the Second Tier.  It was like our own little box.  Other people around had decorated their area with fairy lights! 

It was great fun and we were singing and clapping along to lots of Christmas songs, like Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Baby It's Cold Outside.

Afterwards, we went for a wander along Regents Street and Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights (which I think are the same as last year!) 

I almost forgot - when we arrived at Kings Cross yesterday morning they were filming.  I couldn't see anybody famous but they had completely transformed the platform to the forties.  Somebody said it was for the sequel to The Woman In Black.  The scene had two nurses in it so I will have to look out for that!

Today I made Chocolate Spice Gingerbread.  The house smelt amazing while this was baking in the oven, very Christmassy.   

Today's top three Christmas songs:

1. Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord - Boney M
2. It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year - Andy Williams
3. Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes

Monday, 9 December 2013

Monday Bake - Cinnamon Stars (Gluten Free)

Christmas traditions - I love them. 

I have a box with my Christmas glasses, mugs and plates that I get down from the loft on the first of December.  I buy new ones to add to my collection each year.

Last Sunday, we went to the Pantomime - Cinderella.  The cheesy jokes, the "he's behind you", the contemporary  songs, the poor man in the audience who gets picked on by the Dame, the box of sweeties I take along - fab.  I get the tickets through my work and we always have excellent seats. 

Yesterday we went to the Christmas Tree Festival.  I love the knitted ones - so much work goes into making them - it must take all year!   Look at the penguin conga!


When we get home I put up the tree.  I decorate in the order of lights, tinsel, decorations, then the robin, and finally the Angel at the top (who looks a bit like a wee Minibakebakgirl!).  I bought her for my first tree when I left home - so she is doing well for her 19th Christmas!
Putting up my kitchen fairy lights - balancing on a chair to put them on top of my cupboards.  The kitchen always feels so bare at the beginning of January when I take them down.

We watch A Muppets Christmas Carol every year - singing along to the songs and yes, I cry at the end :o)

And hopefully lots more new traditions to add to the list in the years to come.

For cake club a few weeks ago I made these gluten free cinnamon biscuits, you can find the recipe here.  The dough is very sticky and rolling it out in between two pieces of baking paper is a great tip.


We enjoyed them - they have a nice chewy texture and the meringue top made a nice change to normal icing.
Thank you for visiting,
Today's top three Christmas songs:
1. 2000 miles - Pretenders
2. Christmas Alphabet - Dickie Valentine
3. I wish it could be Christmas everyday - Wizzard

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday Bake - Pomegranate Loaf Cake

What a lovely day I have had today (I will ignore the large pile of ironing for a while longer while I type this!)

I have a Twitter friend @DottyCookie who weaves willow.   She had tweeted a picture of a beautiful miniature obelisk - I had my "me wantie" hat on straight away and tweeted her to order one.  We had spoken before about meeting in Cambridge for coffee at Michaelhouse so this was a perfect opportunity.  She tweeted me to say she would be "the one with the willow tree!" and was waiting outside for me.  It was lovely to meet @DottyCookie, we chatted over coffee and I had a delicious scone.  As with my other twitter minimeets it feels like we have known each other much longer.   Michaelhouse is a cafĂ© in the beautiful St Michaels church with a stunning stained glass window.

But more importantly, look at my obelisk.....

Isn't it beautiful?  I have decked it with fairy lights and it will live indoors over Christmas but I will put it in the garden in the spring.

Then this afternoon I went round to CrochetfriendS for coffee with CrochetfriendR.  I made an experimental pomegranate cake to take with me.  I got two pomegranates in my fruit box last week - I ate one and then decided to use the other one in a cake.  I made a madeira cake and then reduced some pomegrantive juice to made a syrup to drizzle over the top. 

Here is the recipe:

175g margarine
175g caster sugar#
3 large eggs
125g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 orange - zested and juiced

200ml pomegranate juice
50g granulated sugar

100g icing sugar
Handful of pomegranate seeds


Preheat the oven to 180c/Fan 160c/GasMark4
Line a 2lb loaf tin with a loaf tin liner (I use Lakeland)

Place the margarine and sugar in a large bowl, cream with an electric whisk until light and creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time beating well between each one.

Stir in the orange zest, fold in the flour and ground almonds.

Spoon into the tin and cook for about 1 hour.

As soon as the cake goes in the oven place the granulated sugar, pomegranate and orange juice in a small pan, heat gently until the sugar is dissolved - allow to cool. 

When the cake is cooked (when an inserted skewer comes out clean - if it doesn't pop
the cake back in the oven for another 5 minutes - then check again - repeat as necessary)

Leave it in the tin and immediately prick the cake with a skewer several times and spoon
over the drizzle - leave a tablespoon of syrup to add to the icing.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Mix the icing sugar and remaining syrup to make an icing that is thick enough to sit on top of the cake. Pour over and scatter with the pomegranate seeds.

Dust with icing sugar.

In my head I thought the drizzle might make a sort of marbled pattern inside.  Hmmmm it perhaps needs tweeking!  Maybe next time I will just ice it and decorate with the seeds.

I took my knitting round today as I am knitting some secret Christmas presents and trying to get them finished.  So I have to confess I haven't picked up my crochet hook for a few weeks.    CrochetFriendS is making an Attic24 robin and CrochetFriendR made a very long foundation chain!  There was a roaring fire and I could have curled up in front of that for the rest of the day - sadly I went home as there were boring household jobs to be done....

Hope to see you next week.


Today's top three Christmas songs:

1. Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie
2. Christmas Time - The Darkness
3. I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake