Tag : baking

Top 5… Valentine’s Crafts!

I love Valentine’s Day.

Yes, I know it can be commercial, and yes it can sometime’s can also be tacky and yes – just an excuse for you to HAVE to spend more money on your dearest loved one. But, that is kind of the point? I feel I can say I love you to The Husband on any day of the year – and, I do buy him little gifts for random meanings and occasions (and yes, he is lucky, right?) and not just because it’s a ‘special day’. However, I do like that it is a very specific romantic day of the year where, should you desire – tell the person you love, secretly – or not, declare the reasons you’re with that important person in your life, just make someone feel loved and special.

I wouldn’t EVER go to a restaurant for it, or in fact at the weekend’s around then – they cram the tables in, put on a ‘special’ menu, charge over the top, you are sat with everyone trying to have a personal and private moment – and you invariably are sitting so close you can actually hear what the other people are saying. I usually opt for cooking The Husband dinner – and occasionally – him cooking one for me. Gifts? I don’t NEED an extravagantly purchased item to make me know that I am thought about… perhaps just some flowers? Even from the garden… haha! Or just my favourite chocolate bar? Damn – shouldn’t really be writing this! The Husband usually reads the blog… and so with that in mind – of course if he would really like to spontaneously cave into the commerciality (unlikely!) then please do dearest! Those Alex Monroe earrings would be pretty special… 😀

Anyway – one thing I do always feel is important is to give a card. Now I know what you are thinking – well, you would say that – you sell your own greetings card range! But, precisely – that is part of the reason I designed greeting cards in the first place. They aren’t just a bit of paper – they allow you to express your thoughts and emotions inside! (By the way, you can get a special offer at the minute – FREE delivery on all orders on The Crafty Lass greeting cards on our Etsy store with code TCLVAL16!!) Enough of plugging the promo, and back to the real point. I just think that the opportunity to pen a few lines to your other half, your special one, your snugglekins (!) can be a special moment.

I wouldn’t ever expect a blank card to be completed with “Dear Janet, Love John x”… What, that’s IT?? You need to put some effort into it! Maybe I should be grateful of a card at all – and it certainly sounds upon reading that I am a crafty little Valentine’s diva – but I certainly keep my ‘special’ cards in a shoe box for ever more, to be annually, or perhaps decadely reviewed every now and again with an ‘awwww’ and fuzzy feeling moment – so you had best be writing something that little bit more emotive!! For those that already do this – high five. Just take the opportunity whenever you can to just make someone your focus and let them know you care, however that might be.

Whatever your thoughts on the big February 14th, presents or no presents, card or no card, here are some suggestions of cute little crafty ways to make it special. There is a bit of a ‘hearts’ theme going on…

 

1. DIY Heart Card

If you are planning to MAKE a card how about this lovely DIY embroidered card idea!

 

2. Heart Gift Wrap

Craft knifes at the ready! If you are buying a gift for the special someone – what a simple, but ever so effective hearts gift wrapping idea with the red and brown paper. There are two ideas in one here, as they also offer a creative stamping effect too – simply using a pencil eraser!

 

3. Heart Garland

Another gift wrap idea here, but could also be used as a decoration garland afterwards! Cute, again – simple but effective!

 

4. Chocolate Shortbread Heart Cookies

If baking is your thing (you can’t beat a bit of baked goodies to certainly make someone smile) what about this lovely chocolate shortbread and sprinkles idea. There is also a good US measurements converter here at Good To Know. You’re welcome!

 

5. Heart Cheescake

Still on the baking theme – just how amazing does this hearts cheesecake look?? It must be SO satisfying to make that swirl… wow!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Categories: Foodie Delights, General Craft, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, Top 5, Valentines, Anniversaries & Lovey-Dovey Stuff

Top 5… Bonfire Night Crafts!

Remember, remember the 5th of November! There is nothing quite like Bonfire Night is there? The roaring fire in sharp contrast to the cold night air, delicious treats of candy floss, toffee apples, hot chocolate… and of course the actual fireworks display! It doesn’t matter what age you are – a riot of colour across the sky, the noise, the smell, a complete assault on your senses – it doesn’t fail to bring a smile to your face! It got me thinking of various crafty ways we could celebrate the occasion – mostly in food instead of traditional ‘craft’ ! So here they are – check out my Top 5… Bonfire Night Crafts!

 

1. Bonfire Cupcakes

What fun! Totally love these cupcakes made to look like the bonfire! Certainly is up there on my wish list to make this weekend!

 

2. Firework Artwork

A great way to get the kiddiwinks creative! A simple, but effective firework painting idea – using a toilet roll as a stamp, colourful paint and some black paper! You could even add cut out stars, glitter… go mad, have fun! 🙂

 

3. Toffee Apples

As a kid – around this time of year, it was a real treat to get a toffee apple! I associate them with Saturday mornings with my Dad when he took me to gymnastics classes. Crazy where some foodie memories take you… This recipe from BBC Good Food shows us how to make them at home!

 

4. Hot Chocolate Spoons

These look seriously amazing… I can just imagine these being super delicious, warming, comforting… a naughty treat to warm you up on a cold evening! As the Kitchen Alchemist blog post says, they would be a great handmade Christmas present! Mmmm….

 

5. Parkin

This (wannabee) Yorkshire Crafty Lass couldn’t do a Bonfire Night post without the mention of Parkin! You can’t really go wrong with syrupy molasses, oatmeal and ginger… Delicious all year round but traditionally eaten on Bonfire night, get in my face… 🙂

 

Enjoy!

Categories: General Craft, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Nautical Cake Topper!

Inspired by my recent blog post on the birthday cake topper I made for my dad’s birthday – someone saw this and asked me to make another nautical themed version!

Their daughter Nadine is apparently mad on boats and sailing… So, this is just what she got! 🙂 All handcrafted out of paper and card – a yacht, with personalised ‘Nadine’ bunting, a little anchor, the ‘ferocious’ sea – and a little seagull keeping watch at the top too!

If you’d like a personal, handmade, different cake topper – then please get in touch! 🙂

Categories: Birthday, General Craft, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 5… Doughnuts! (It’s National Doughnut Week!)

Doughnuts, are pretty special – right? Gloriously deep fried, golden sugary deliciousness. They are so good, there is a national week to celebrate them in all their glory! That week, is THIS week! 9th-16th May 2015.

So, although not recommended as a daily snack of course, as a worthy treat or dessert – why not get stuck into making some the below??

Healthier Doughnuts

So, doughnuts don’t have the greatest reputation in the health stakes, and possibly rightly so – but then why not have your cake, I mean doughnut, and be able to eat it – with these gloriously healthier versions over at ‘Greatist’. Yummy, AND alot of options it seems to downsize the calories…

 

Doughnut cake

However, if you are of the opinion that if you are going to have a calorifically delicious treat, why not enjoy the 100% full fat version – you could go the other way – make this completely decadent, amazing doughnut CAKE! Yes, that is a cake, constructed from doughnuts… Why haven’t I thought of this before?!?

 

Wedding Doughnuts

If you are getting married, and love doughnuts – why not have Bride and Groom doughnuts on top of a doughnut tower instead of the traditional sponge? I am sure guests would love something that little bit different! I wouldn’t be complaining anyhow…!

 

Blackberry and custard doughnhuts

These, are just awesome doughnuts. Simple as that! A great easy to follow recipe, delicious filling…Get stuck in!

 

‘Doughnut’ Cookies

And, if you don’t actually like doughnuts – well, firstly, why not? Secondly – not sure why you are reading this post… but there is an option – why not give these ‘doughnut’ cookies a go!

 

In the words of Homer Simpson “This donut has purple in the middle, purple is a fruit” not sure he is 100% accurate there, but all in moderation of course, including moderation.

Enjoy!

Categories: Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Royal Birthday Celebrations!

With a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) on its way within the next week or two – what better way to celebrate than a cup of (Yorkshire) tea and a cupcake (or three)! And so, why not get crafty with some creative baking?

Royal blue, pillarbox red, and brilliant white to represent the gloriously patriotic Union Jack with bunting and flags a-go-go!

I made these cupcakes three years ago now in 2012 for the Queen’s Jubilee – but with the fourth in line to the throne about to be born, I thought it would be a welcome return for some spiffingly British crafty inspiration!

PS – Be warned, too much of the blue icing and it’ll leave your tongue turning blue, so easy on the colouring 😉 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… Easter biscuits!

Looking to do something for Easter that is fun, cheap to make, relatively easy, and you get to eat it at the end?!

Why not make Mary Berry’s ‘Easter Biscuits‘? Here is my attempt… Mmmmmm tasty 🙂

Top tip! – always allow the icing to dry thoroughly, otherwise it won’t set properly and you’ll end up with squashed bunny rabbits and chickadees! (Speaking from experience here…)

 

 

Categories: Easter, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… Cupcakes!

So, it’s the eve of my 32nd birthday. Uh oh… well, I’ve got cake to console my ever growing age. I know I’m not THAT old… I mentioned in my last post how quickly a year had gone… But where have 32 years gone?! Saying that, my husband pointed out to me recently – I’m probably only just half way to retirement…

So, the tradition in our office is, if it’s your birthday, you bring in the cakes…and this year I have opted for Mint choc chip, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange cupcakes! I originally learnt to ‘properly’ make cupcakes at The Gourmet Cupcake company – an inspiring course that makes fluffy sponge and sugar paste roses seem accessible and easy… and yummy! The Terry’s Chocolate Orange cakes are inspired by a local cupcake superstar… The Wonder Kitchen cakes, always so jealous of her wonderful pink, goodie-laden van at our local Brackley market! The Mint choc Aero cupcakes are just a recipe I have been making for such a long time… A few years ago, in a previous job – I made a double batch for a charity bake sale, and they sold within 10 minutes. I should have made more!

A tradition started by my Mum and Dad when I was only 1 was reinacted tonight, and happens every year – they rang to say “Goodnight 31 year old!”, and tomorrow morning, they will ring me with – not “Happy birthday!”, but – “Good morning 32 year old!”. Love it, love them. Gotta love birthdays, no matter what your age! Right, off to get some beauty sleep – I need it, for all that cake, chips and champagne tomorrow! 😉 (Not sure why the wink smiley, we both know all will be consumed within the next 24 hours!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

It’s sugar, but just not as you know it…

I was asked a very interesting question at work today – and it really got me thinking…

What are the latest home baking trends of 2015?

My first and immediate thought was the latest craze of ‘new’ sugars. Which, to be honest, I don’t fully understand…isn’t it still just sugar – just disguised in a ‘healthier’ image? Surely if you want cake, you should be able to enjoy it (in moderation!) – and if you REALLY want cake, surely you will buy/make/eat that cake – whatever version of sugar is put into it? If the new sugars and sweeteners taste good, then GREAT! And if they are good for you too – BONUS! However, is it just ‘perceived’ healthiness? There is of course the on-going media fuelled debate with the headlines/themes that seem to change daily… “too much sugar is bad for you”, “too much fat is bad for you”, no wait… it’s “too much fat AND sugar is bad for you”. Well surely we all know too much of ANYTHING is bad for you. Isn’t it all about balance?

I am a very health conscious person – I like to make sure that what I am eating is good for me. Don’t get me wrong I am also very much a pie, chips and a large glass of vino girl at heart – and if I DIDN’T watch what I ate, then I would have to spend ALOT more time in the gym – when really, I just want to be making lovely craft things and writing this blog. At only 4′ 11″ and having a day job that happens to be in the offices of a very large chocolate factory – I just like to ensure my intake for 75% of the time is GOOD for me. I like to ensure I eat the rainbow palette of vegetables, the nuts, seeds, oats, the fish, wholegrains etc etc. So when I want something ‘BAD’ for me, do I also need to be worrying about what TYPE of sugar may be in it? Surely sugar is just SUGAR, right? Or, am I missing the point…?

I turned to the power of Google to help me in my quest to discover just what I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be eating in sugary confections RIGHT NOW. And lo and behold – yes, many, MANY articles already written on the latest foodie crazes – do mention buzzwords of ‘agave nectar’, ‘stevia’ and interestingly to me – ‘coconut sugar’. Having been on a very recent trip to Sri Lanka – where I was drinking from freshly macheted coconuts on a daily basis (don’t you know you that coconut water is (or least WAS!) THE big thing to be drinking?) I was intrigued to find out more.

The Sterling-Rice GroupSri Lanka Machete advise that apparently, it’s all to do with the fact it is less refined than ‘normal’ white sugar, providing a lower GI sugar hit. It has naturally occurring nutrients, but importantly – it still has a great sweetness… they suggest looking up Kika’s Salted Caramels made from this trendy sugar. Now they really have got me thinking – I do LOVE coconut, and the absolute best thing in the whole entire world to me, is anything that involves salted caramel. So, this is looking like a win-win situation?

The Telegraph (my weekend-paper-of-choice) also backs this up with an article on the latest 2015 foodie trends – stating that coconut sugar is full of both zinc and iron. Good stuff!

Now, I have to admit – this all does sound very nice, and is starting to appeal to my health-conscious-self… but just how widely available and/or mind-boggling expensive is this sugar? Will it be worth my while adding it into the weekly shop?

A quick browse of the top 5 UK supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and also via mysupermarket.co.uk shows it isn’t actually that widely available. YET. In fact, out of these five – just Waitrose (Oh, how I love this supermarket!) was the only one to have it stocked: ‘Speciality No. 12 coconut palm sugar via their online supermarket and is priced at £5.99 for 250g. That’s a whopping £23.96 per kg. The branding looks nice, and yes – I am sure some people will happily pay this… however – compared on the same supermarket website for the traditional caster cane sugar with good old Tate and Lyle – that is…£1.48 for 1kg. So, the super coconut sugar is over 16 times more expensive! I am not sure it is 16 times good for you?

Ocado stocks a dIMAG0480ifferent brand – the Biona Organic Coconut Sugar and this works out slightly cheaper at £2.99 for 250g. However, this still calculates in at £12.00 per kg!

There are of course perhaps, other places to buy this wonder sugar – and maybe, cheaper (a few other online retailers I looked at did stock various versions – none at the time of checking were any less expensive!) I am sure if this trend truly catches on, it will be available everywhere, and perhaps once the demand is there, the price will reduce. Maybe I am again missing the point – I should be willing to PAY for this new ingredient to be baking my ‘healthy’ cakes with?

The website Tropical Traditions had another interesting slant to this buzzy trend on coconut sugar:

“…coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the coconut palm tree, from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut??”

I think it is great there is a new cane sugar alternative product on the market – but I am not sure I would want to do without all the other wonderful features coconuts have to offer. In addition to the above – there is the aforementioned coconut water – and don’t forget coconut milk! Imagine life without Thai curries?! That obviously sounds a bit extreme, and I am sure that at some point – the balance will return to allow coconuts to be sold – in all their wonderfully different brilliant states. However, as the article points out just what financial sense it makes for the farmers to produce this new commodity, maybe not…

“This new success for palm sugar is yielding a high profit for both coconut farmers and retailers in the U.S., as “healthier sugarIMAG0481s” are among the new high-demand “health” foods. We are seeing story after story in the Philippines of how coconut farmers are converting their coconut trees into coconut sugar production, collecting the sap from the tree to make this hot new commodity. The process is very simple, allowing anyone with coconut palm trees on their land to easily convert their coconut palms into an instant cash crop that reaps great financial benefits.”

I am sure, coconut sugar would add a wonderful new aroma, taste and perhaps texture to a sponge, fondant, all manner of desserts… and for the sake of experience I would of course be willing to give it a try (my husband would be happy too – me to bake it, him to eat it!) However, for now – I think I will stick with my good old fashioned Tate and Lyle. If I was eating lots of sugary things every day, maybe it would be better to look at balancing out the whole diet – rather than worrying about what’s in the bad stuff. I am no health expert – and definately don’t claim to be. It is just common sense – eat more good stuff! Eat your greens and THEN if you’re still hungry, some cake… washed down with plenty of coconut water!

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Foodie Delights, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!

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