Friday, 22 November 2013

Halloween


October is by far my favourite month. There are so many reasons to love October, and Autumn as a season. Not only is my birthday in October but also Halloween! It's not the most celebrated holiday of the year but I still love it nonetheless; the whole atmosphere is so unique and the autumnal colours are all pretty and it's so nice! Also there's the food. Then when the weather gets colder I get even more excited; the lead up to Christmas is almost better than the event itself!


My birthday is pretty close to Halloween so I decided to merge the two together and have a kind of Halloween dinner party with my friends because I've really missed them all! Me and my mum made some autumnal food which was mainly pumpkin related ( I forgot to ask whether everyone liked pumpkin...) and after late evenings of pinterest browsing we got the menu down to pumpkin soup and mini filo tarts, beef and pumpkin Thai curry and finally a selection of cute cakes including an angel food cake topped with dried strawberry flakes, little ghost cupcakes, cake pops and white chocolate dipped strawberries with little ghost faces.


It was so fun making everything, but I went a little bit overboard with the table decorations; there were pumpkins and squashes all over the table with candy corns and Reese 's pieces everywhere... I carved pumpkin lanterns, lit candles, draped fairy lights around the ceiling and had a few Rolling Stones CDs playing.

I know it's not everyone's idea of a Halloween 'party' where everyone is dressed up in ridiculous outfits, getting drunk and whatever, but it was different and I still enjoyed it. Sometimes it's nice to have a calm sit-down meal for a change rather than a wild party with loads of people. I may be 17 but I think my mind is already middle aged... I do like a nice dinner party.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Coconut Cake



A birthday wouldn't be a birthday without cake, so for my friend's birthday in August I made a nice light and summery coconut and vanilla cake! With so much keeping me busy at the moment (ie. A levels) I haven't had time to publish this until now, and again I am really sorry.


Months and months ago I saw this recipe online and ever since I have been dying to make it. It looked so beautiful when she made it and I highly recommend giving it a go. Coconut is one of my favorite flavours and I love it in everything from cakes to curries!
Obviously I didn't get to take a photo of the inside but I made four layers of sponge and used pink food colouring to make them a pale pink which looked really pretty when layered up with the white frosting in between. I couldn't quite get the hang of the coconut frosting from the original recipe so I threw together a fluffy coconut buttercream instead which tasted amazing, and surprisingly it wasn't sickly. The coconut seemed to cut through the butter in the frosting and made it really light.

 

I decorated the cake with pink rosebuds and gypsophila which fit with the pink theme! Gyp is probably now one of my all time favourite flowers; they're so delicate and pure and they go with everything. I think they would make a great addition to a wedding bouquet or any sort of summer/ spring floral decoration. The bright pink of the rosebuds looks really pretty next to the pure white of the coconut garnish and I think this cake is a really good one to decorate. The neutral white goes with any kind of flower, or even berries. A pretty cluster of blueberries and redcurrants would look really pretty, or some lavender. Recently I've really started getting into flowers, I love walking into my bedroom and seeing a bunch of flowers on my table subtly scenting my room. The only problem is that I'm really bad at keeping them alive, when I was 11 I somehow managed to kill my cactus by under watering it. I under watered a cactus. But I'm trying! So far I have a pretty bunch of flowers in my room that I've kept alive for almost a week... I also have an obsession with lavender. I bought some lavender fragrance oil for my oil burner and it smells so nice. I've found that lavender is a scent that people either really love or really hate. Personally I love it and I put my oil burner on my bedside table as the scent is really soothing and helps me to sleep. To see the full extent of my lavender obsession, check out my board on pinterest!


If you're planning on making this cake then I'd suggest locating some shredded coconut before you buy the other ingredients; we searched all over the county for shredded coconut because dessicated just isn't right. You would think it'd be an easy enough ingredient to find, but it seems that Britain really doesn't sell much of it! Yet another disadvantage of British supermarkets. In the end I found a Chinese supermarket in Milton Keynes which sold frozen blocks of shredded coconut. Britain needs American food shops! I'm sure if you also live in Britain you will share my pain...
I really hope I have convinced you guys to try making this cake; its so simple and relatively easy to make but looks so elegant and clean. If you do decide to give it a go, I'd suggest trying the original coconut meringue buttercream frosting. However if, like me, you are a bit pushed for time and haven't got time spare to practice then whip up some thick buttercream with butter and icing sugar and then slowly add coconut milk until you obtain the desired consistency- it should be smooth but solid enough to hold its shape around the cake without sliding downwards to the base of the cake!














Friday, 11 October 2013

New School!

 *sigh* Well the 10th of October has passed and that only means one thing; I've completed another orbit around the sun. That's right guys, I'm 17! For most people that usually means driving lessons . But I still haven't applied for a provisional yet... I still feel like I'm 12, driving is one step too close to becoming an adult! But I'm super excited to be able to drive and go where I want, when I want. Relying on my parents to ferry me around is pants!

This year I decided to be spontaneous and I left my school to go to a STEM College to do my A-levels. Sounds like a crazy idea, I know, but I'm settling in well, besides the fact that the college hasn't actually opened yet... But that only adds to the excitement; I'm now looking forward to going there more than ever! After weeks of stressing and contemplating my future plans I decided to study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Art. An odd combination but it fits in with my plans of becoming an architect/ engineer!

I'm surprised by just how many opportunities have literally been handed to me and I'm actually feeling positive about my future.

http://www.staypositive.me/
After just over a month there I've made some good friends and tried not to give anyone a reason to dislike me which is so far a good plan to stick to. Like many others in similar situations I was incredibly nervous on the first day. I was literally shaking as I walked onto the school grounds but luckily I knew one person. Only one. I'm not a very outgoing person and I really don't enjoy being in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people so I had been dreading the first day all summer. I don't find it easy to make new friends, but luckily I didn't need to try too hard because I met some great people that completely understood how I felt about the whole thing. I haven't made loads of friends, but I'm grateful for the few I have made! Popularity isn't the be-all and end-all, especially at school.


I hope you are all doing well, whatever it is that you're doing, and if you've also started your A-levels, then good luck and study hard!




Results Day!

(whoops! I've had this saved as a draft for a month! I meant to post this on the 29th August, sorry!)

So like many other people across the country, on Thursday I went into school to recieve my GCSE results. Thankfully everyone did quite well, but I was so nervous!
Including my A* in core science and I have 7 A*s!? Annoyingly I could have easily gotten another one if I hadn't missed the retake deadline for my Physics 1 exam; in P2, P3 and P4 I got A*s, but I'll get over it...
When I got home my dad put a big box on the table and said it was for me, turns out it was a record player!?
After I handed in my results to the 6th form I'm going to, my parents took me and my boyfriend out to dinner in France!? That's the sort of crazy thing my family does, pop over to France for dinner and come back the same day.. I didn't think it was that strange until I told my friends and they just gave me that 'you're mental' look. The restaurant had a Michelin star and the food was really good, the only bad thing was the amount of food... There were a total of seven courses. I'll admit I did panic a bit. What intrigued me the most were the savoury macarons that were served as entrees. They were weird, you see a pink macaron and expect strawberries or something and then you bite into it and it's cheese.
After finishing the massive meal (which felt like eating a weeks worth of food at once) we waddled back to the car and drove home.
 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Nutella Stuffed Banana Muffins

 
So after staring at the monstrosity that is a 5kg jar of nutella, me and my brother decided to make something tasty with it rather than eating it on toast. It's surprising just how many different nutella based recipes there are on the internet; it took us half an hour to pick something, they all sounded amazing!
If you ever find yourself with way more nutella than is necessary, I recommend this website- it is packed with literally any kind of nutella based food you could think of. I love the idea of nutella chocolate milk, strawberry nutella smoothies or nutella mousse, but I'll save that for another day!

I love banana muffins and my brother loves nutella, so this recipe was perfect! When I took them out of the oven I thought 'oh no they look really solid and stodgy' but they were surprisingly light and fluffy and really really good! I was worried about the nutella going hard in the oven and ruining the muffins but it didn't; it was a lovely little gooey, muffin encased surprise!
 
The recipe I used can be found here, however I'm a little 'slap dash' with my baking so didn't quite use the precise measurements. I also added a teaspoon of nutella to the mixture for the gooey middle.

Ingredients (makes 12):
225g flour
70g sugar
2tsp baking flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2tbsp oil
2tbsp nutella
120mls milk
2 bananas
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 200 and line (or grease) a cupcake tin.
2) Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3) In a separate bowl, mix the egg, oil, nutella and milk then add to the flour mixture.
4) Mash up the bananas and add to the mixture.
5) Spoon half of the mixture into the cake cases and then add a teaspoon of nutella. Using the remaining half of the mixture, completely cover the nutella in the cases.
6) Bake for 10 minutes.
7) Enjoy!

These turned out really well, they'd be great for breakfast muffins (maybe minus the nutella filling) or just as a snack or everyday desert! They're so tasty! They're more bready than cakey, they remind me of mini banana breads which is always good. If you fancy a bit of cooking this weekend, these are perfect! I hope you enjoy them as much as me and my brothers did!


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Mint and Lemon Ice Lollies

  A couple of years ago we got this Zoku Ice Pop maker which is super duper easy to use and perfect for the summer when you're just too hot and bothered to go out and buy ice lollies, just stick some juice into the moulds and in 15 minutes you've got yourself a lovely jubbly ice lolly! And because its so quick to make them, you can do fancy things with them like layering flavours, putting hidden fillings in the middle or adding bits into it like mint leaves or fruit.
Home made lollies are better than shop bought ones every time (with the exception of orange callipos and mini milks, they're my favourite) and you can make any flavour. You could even do savoury ones if you wanted, maybe use tomato or carrot juice or put some cucumber in there.

Here's what I used:
Lemon Squash (you could use cloudy lemonade or lemon juice if you have it, I just didn't have any)
A couple of handfuls of fresh mint leaves
Zoku Pop Maker

And that's it! Make some lemon squash/ lemonade and mash up some mint leaves and leave in the mixture for a bit to flavour the lemon juice. Then fill the pop maker, wait for about 2mm of the liquid to freeze and then pop in some mint leaves! Wait a few minutes, et voila!



5kg nutella?!

When we saw this is a supermerkat in Spain we knew that we had found my brother's dream birthday present; A 5KG JAR OF NUTELLA! Whaaatttt?!  Its HUGE, this photo doesn't do it justice... My weedy arms can hardly even lift it! Luckily nutella isn't my favourite thing to eat, so I wont be clearing the tub just yet!