Sunday, 23 December 2012

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

"Yes, two days until Santa comes".
Luca is waiting and counting, patiently...
Too cute.
Nina has no real idea what is going on, apart from finding it endlessly amusing to take all the baubles off the Christmas Tree and proceed to throw them down the stairs, or in the fireplace, or even in the toilet bowl.

What can you say?

A festive drink is in order.
Today... the Cosmopolitan.
What you will need is:

50ml Vodka
25ml Cointreau (or any Orange liqueur)
Juice of half a lemon or lime
Juice of half an orange
50ml Cranberry Juice
a twist of orange peel, to garnish
Put all the ingredients in a cocktail mixer (or a large glass), along with lots of ice (keep the orange peel for the glass).
Shake well, then pour into a Martini glass (or an old fashioned cocktail glass - which I will be hunting for next summer at local car boot sales).


I'm sipping mine now... and it's gone straight to my head.


Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Butternut Squash Muffins

As I sit in bed, a little under the weather (no, surely not before Christmas... come on!), not being able to eat anything since yesterday.
I am reminded of the delicious muffins I made the other day.

 Gosh they were good.
Just looking at these pictures makes me want to eat the whole lot.
Sadly, someone... or some people... have already done that!
I'm not naming names here :-)

If you too fancy a wintery muffin to go with your hot cup of Earl Grey tea, or steaming Caffe' Latte, then you can.

Here is the recipe I took these muffins from (thank you Jamie Oliver at Home) and added a few bits myself.

serves: 12 muffins


• 400g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 350g light soft brown sugar
• 4 large free-range or organic eggs
sea salt
300g plain flour, unsifted (I used Self Raising for extra fluffy-ness)
• 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
• a handful of walnuts (I used Pecans - as I LOVE them)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 175ml extra virgin olive oil (I used Rapeseed Oil - as it's lighter)

for the frosted cream topping

• zest of 1 clementine
• zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
• 140ml soured cream
• 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out (I used Vanilla Paste)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. Try not to overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a toothpick into one of the cakes – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it’s a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it – adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes.

** note from me **
Be careful with the Icing. As in: too much lemon makes it really liquidy, and doesn't stick nicely to the top of the muffin.
I would start with the Icing Sugar and then add the lemon/soured cream mixture slowly...
spoonful by spoonful.
I know Jamie is the master of easy cooking, but this tip just helped me... a little.

Happy Baking.


Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas Tree Crochet Baubles

Here it is!
Christmas is round the corner...

I am so happy with how our tree looks this year.
Alex made a very good selection choosing the actual pine (one that apparently shouldn't drop needles? I'll believe that when I see that in January, our carpet is clear...)

If you have a moment of time, then you can always crochet yourself a last moment bauble for the tree.

Here is how:

The more rounds you make the bigger the ball.
As in, increase more, add another round to round 6-10, and decrease one more.
Does that make sense?
PS. The sweet font above I designed myself with the fabulous iFontMaker App.
Such fun.
I've called it Dotty May!