Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Christmas 2013

Pssttt.......these were the jars I was washing and got myself a deep gash from. Blood-tainted pre-mixes!!!!   :-) Tweaked a few recipes and came up with these 3 jars:

Chocolate Chip- Chrismas M&M-Oat Cookies-In-A-Jar
Just add eggs and vegetable oil! Mix, dollop and bake!

Cranberries-Chia Seed-Oat Muffins
Some buttermilk, an egg, olive oil, orange zest, lightly mix, spoon and bake!

Chai Tea Mix
I included a tea ball with the jar, just to cover the bases ;-).

Doing a Houdini

Hadn't realised that it had been over 6 months since I last posted! Where did the year go? This year...oh, no! Last year, I truly was feeling more like Houdini than Deenie....chained to my fate. Unfortunately, I had no tricks up my sleeves nor keys to those locks to free me, at least for now. As most of you have read my laments early last year, the children's school routine has got the better of me. I've had to decline many novelty cake orders just to give me some breathing space in between school runs. Unfortunately, there wasn't any breathing space. To sum it up, besides running a tight ship, between July '13 till now there had been 2 patients to tend to from surgery, a new puppy in the house, teeth-gritting year-end examinations and finally, my body had enough of it. My body basically crashed and burn.

Being very much in tune with how my body functions, I didn't wait for the symptoms to get out of hand. Got the medical opinions, had tests and been put on meds. I got to hand it to my body though, she knew when was a good time to crash....when term holidays started. I had plans to catch up on everything I've been putting off throughout the year during the children's term break like baking, trying out new recipes, working on new Christmas themes, sewing, reading a book, catching up on extra French grammar drills and visiting mum-in-law in Penang. I was crippled. I was under strict orders from the MOTH to just chill and help myself recover. And I did for 3 weeks...;-p. I felt a whole lot better, meds were working and blood tests came back improved. Yay!

2 weeks to Christmas and since I wasn't planning to bake as much, I decided to get cracking on homemade gifts. Yes, I never learn...  So, in December on Friday the 13th, I got a few snap-lid jars and thought of doing some pre-mixes for my sisters-in-law. Into the sink they went for washing and I cut myself from an unknowing chipped rim of one of the jars. Went to the ER and got sewed up with 20 stitches. Clearly, someone up there decided that I was too stubborn for my own good and decided to disarm my right (working) hand! Doctor ordered for the wound to be kept dry for at least 2 weeks and the MOTH took it upon himself to follow-through with the doctor's orders. Had to delegate big time. Good thing the children weren't really "children" anymore and they got roped in by the *cough* Kaiser MOTH to do chores while he was at work.

It's been a month since. Stitches were long taken off (yay!) but internally, the cut still hurts. The good doctor decided that I should get off my meds this month to see if I can do without (double yay??!) and advised me to take it easy.....REALLY???  School just started, back to the grindstone and keeping my fingers crossed that my thyroid doesn't act up. Chinese New Year in 2 weeks time.....SIGH! *face palm*.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pistachio Loaf

Finally!! A moist loaf cake. Baked this delightful loaf for my parents when they had guests staying with them for the week. Mum wanted some "breakfast" cake and I thought this would be good for the senior citizens. It's light and moist-ier (if there is such word,) than the earlier loaves I've tried from Hummingbird Bakery. Still crumbs quite a bit but an improvement. The elderlies enjoyed it because they love nuts in basically everything. So, this was ideal breakfast for them with a cuppa. I didn't do the icing sugar glaze because they didn't want unnecessary sugar in their food. Not too bad, this one.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mocha Cupcakes

These cupcakes were beautiful! Beautiful to touch (spongy) with beautiful flavours (hot chocolate powder + coffee = yum). One problem though. It was too sweet. The children were fine with it but the MOTH and I couldn't have them neat without a cup of green tea. I even recall chatting with the MOTH about these cupcakes (and the Hot Chocolate Cupcakes baked sometime ago,) that I've actually reduced the sugar required by about 50gms. Yet, it was still too sweet. So I put a note on this page to reduce more sugar.....until 2 weeks ago, I noticed something. I took the same organic hot chocolate powder out to sift onto some frosted cupcakes and guess what was left on the sieve? Sugar. That explains it all! There's sugar in it and I didn't sift the hot chocolate powder when I used it for those two cupcakes. I don't even know if there's always been sugar in hot chocolate powder but I will check the labels on a couple of brands to be sure, the next time I'm in the supermarket. My bad.

Coffee And Chocolate Loaf

This. Is. A. Very. Dry. Cake. Not at all "dark, moist and delightfully rich" as the author of Cake Days described. The loaf did bake well and cut well but texture-wise, it didn't cut it for me. The flavour was good with the strong coffee (I used instant espresso) but I'd very much prefer a moist loaf like Nigella Lawson's Quadruple Chocolate Loaf. Now, that was a good one. So, this is the second loaf I've done from this book and it's still dry. Well, the base recipe is same anyway so I was expecting any other results. Their lemon loaf may be different though. I peeked at the recipe earlier and found sour cream in its list of ingredients. Promising...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pea, Ham And Feta Cheese Muffins

So it was another late school morning of lunch tennis in my head -pasta - pie - pasta- pie- pasta -pie while looking through Dorie Greenspan's French stew recipes for dinner and Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days for cupcakes to bake for breakfast the next day. Yes, that much goes on in my head practically everyday at 9am with my cup of Earl Grey and breakfast. It's food in my head throughout the day! I flipped page after page and found this in Cake Days. Now, this is a lunch idea. Pasta & Pie's game ended abruptly and will seek for rematch soon, I'm sure. But today (that day *eyes rolling* 19th of April to be specific, I date recipes so I know when was the last time I baked/ cooked it) was going to be savoury muffins for lunch. I had the staples required in the freezer and muffins are simply the easiest to whip up. The recipe suggested the use of a mixer but I'm an old girl when it came to muffins. It's all in the hand spatula. Don't over-mix or you'll end up with muffins you can pelt rude-Mr Smith-across-the-road with. The savoury bunch turned out nice texture-wise but tasted under-seasoned. Feta cheese didn't cut it for me. Way too mild (but healthier, I guess). The ham was so-so. Here's what I'll change the next time I bake this for lunch - use half feta and the other half of a sharper cheese, replace the ham with browned chopped bacon and open a can of soup for dipping. Oh, stop being judgemental....what's an occasional can of Campbell's compared to the bags of Lays you've been having in front of the telly the last couple of nights watching Wimbledon?    

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beetroot And Chocolate Cupcakes

Remember the last post when I wrote about using beetroot as natural food colouring to replace red food colouring for Red Velvet Cupcakes? Well, here's how beetroot in a cupcake looks like. Serious! No kidding! In fact, the recipe for this cupcake is quite similar to their (Hummingbird Bakery's) Red Velvet Cupcakes except for the liquid used. No buttermilk and butter here but sunflower oil instead. It's expected because this is a vegetable cupcake. Cakes baked with vegetables are usually better off with oil instead of butter and milk. This is a food processor cake (which I quite like nowadays with my very limited time in between school runs), hence relatively easy when you get to dump all the ingredients in and blitz! Now, prepping the beetroot is a whole other story. Lots of work - boil the beetroots, peel, stained my nails and shirt then liquidise them before you can use it. So, get that part done earlier...a day earlier if that'll help. The cake turned out pretty good. You hardly taste the earthy beetroot. So I say, this is the perfect cupcake to hide good ol' beetroot in it. I didn't tell anyone including the grown MOTH, what this was. They all walloped it like it was any dense chocolate cake....dimwits. They didn't think I'd betray them this way.