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Posts Tagged ‘gift’

I recently wanted to make a present for one of my friends… I wasn’t able to get out to buy one, so I thought the best option was an EDIBLE GIFT. I wracked my brain and decided… I’d never made peppermint creams before, why not use Anna as my guinea-pig?! (My poor friends rarely get tried and perfected edible gifts!)

Luckily, they were a success! And this recipe I am about to provide you with, makes a TONNE of them! So would be perfect for Christmas or any time where you need to make a massive batch… like a Monday when you need a sugar fix!

(The amounts for the icing sugar will vary a bit….. so if it’s too sticky when you’ve used all the icing sugar, you will just need to add a bit more until you get the right consistency!)

Ingredients:

(approx) 200 g Icing sugar,

28 g Butter (softened),

2 tsp Peppermint extract (Extract not flavouring…….. you can use flavouring instead but it just wont be as good…),

2 tbsp Double Cream,

290 g Good quality dark chocolate (I’m a huge Green and Blacks fan, but use whatever kind you love… 70% is best!),

Beat the Butter, peppermint, and cream together in a bowl… You can do it by hand or use an electric mixer, either way make it creamy, then add the icing sugar and mix mix mix! You want it to be soft so it’s malleable, but not too sticky. It’s a hard medium, but you’ll know it when you get there!

Now this is the only slightly complicated part of the whole thing… and this isn’t even that complicated! Ha.

Grab a long piece of clingfilm, and lay it on a spacious table top! Chuck the peppermint icing mush onto the clingfilm, and roll it out into a long sausage and wrap it in the clingfilm. Once it’s in the clingfilm you can roll it to make it smooth. If you want to keep the shape well, then it’s good to put old toilet or kitchen rolls around it to keep it circular in the fridge. If you’re not bothered about them being a circular/oval shape, then don’t worry! (I should have taken a picture of these stages. Doh. I’ll try and remember next time and update it!)

Pop the ‘sausage, toilet roll, icing, peppermint, butter mush, clingfilm’ stuff into the fridge for about an hour.  

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over  a pan of boiling water (make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the chocolate bowl!) then leave it for a couple of minutes to cool, so it’s not burning hot! Dip your finger, and if it doesn’t burn you it’s fine! (Of course you’ll have to check a couple of times because it’s necessary, and don’t waste it, so make sure to lick your finger clean! ;))

When the peppermint stuff is chilled and solid take it out and cut it into chunks. It’s totally up to you how fat you want them to be! But don’t make them too thin because they wont hold up in the chocolate dipping stage.

Grab a tray and line it with grease proof paper…. Then grab a big fork. I found my easiest method, see what works for you, but this is what I did…. drop a piece of peppermint stuff into the chocolate, flip with the fork to cover it completely, then lift it out with the fork and shimmy it onto the tray. Do this until all are covered like this….

IMG_20130426_171807

 

Don’t worry about their tails, you can chop them off! I’m a fan of the rustic look, so mine were a bit jagged-y. You can trim them down to be really neat though if you can be bothered!

If you have time to leave them over night, then do that! To keep them shiny, don’t put them in the fridge, but if you’re like me, and impatient/not got enough time, you can put them in the fridge, but don’t be sad when they’re not shiny, ’cause I did warn you… 

And this is the end result….

IMG_20130426_191926 (1) IMG_20130426_223052

 

I’m not going to lie… They were FIT. If I wouldn’t get incredibly fat, i’d eat them every day………………

Enjoy! And let me know how they turn out for you!

K.

 

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As I mentioned in my last post, this Christmas just gone, was very heavy on the homemade gifts. 

I made some little hamper type gifts and a cup cake in a jar was part of the gang. I’d seen a picture of one on Pinterest and thought it was a brilliant idea. So I made it myself!

I rummaged through Mum’s cupboard of random tupperware and other such things, and found some old jars. (Nice one Mummy!) Then I made some cupcakes to fill them! In the picture I saw, they were red velvet cupcakes, I didn’t fancy that… but since the friends they were going to was a girly girl and girly boy, pink seemed to fit the bill!) The cupcakes were just my simple cupcake recipe that lives in my head… i’ll share it with you, but it’s really not that exciting…

Ingredients: 

6 oz sifted SR flour,

6 oz butter,

6 oz caster sugar,

3 eggs,

1 tsp vanilla extract,

1-2 tbs milk

( pink food colouring)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.

Beat the butter with a wooden spoon (or in the mixer if you prefer!) until creamy, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and flour alternately (so it doesn’t curdle…) and beat again until all is combined! Add the vanilla extract, milk and food colouring (use as much or as little as you like to get the colour you want!) and mix lightly until combined. (I say 1-2tbs of milk because it will depend on the mixture… you need to just judge it).

Line muffin tins with cases and distribute the mixture evenly. You want them quite full!

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Until cooked through really. Stick a skewer in the middle of one to be sure! If the skewer comes out clean you’re there!

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before putting them onto a wire rack to cool properly.

 

I then made up the butter icing.

Again, it’s just the simple one that’s in my head already…

Ingredients: 

5 oz butter,

10 oz icing sugar,

1-2 tbs milk,

Food colouring

Beat the butter with a wooden spoon (or mixer again….) until creamy, gradually add the icing sugar and milk. It’s quite a work out for your arms but I prefer to do it manually than in a mixer, don’t ask me why. Add more milk if you need to. I find that butter icing is just a total judgement call. If you add too much milk, add a bit more icing sugar and vise versa. You want it to be thick enough to be able to pipe and hold it’s shape, but not too thick because it will set a little too!

 

So then, I split the cupcakes into halves, kind of like making mini Victoria sponges. (depending on the height of your jars, I ended up using one and a half cupcakes in each jar, 2 bottoms and 1 top!) Put the bottom in the jar, pipe some icing in, add another  bottom, pipe more, then add a top, and pipe a nice little swirl on top. You can sprinkle some edible glitter or nuts on top if you want!

Bob’s your uncle, cup cake in a jar: done.

I attached a spoon to the jar too so they can eat it!

IMG_20130330_130003

 

Enjoy. 

K.

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So Christmas 2012 ended up being a ‘Handmade Christmas’ for most of my gifts… Being ill makes Christmas shopping hard! Pretty much meant if I couldn’t get it on Amazon, or make it myself, it wasn’t given!

I made a mixture of things, which included my first batch of homemade chocolate truffles!

This is how it went…

I decided that as it was my first attempt, and one of my friends is allergic to alcohol, I went with plain, but next time, I definitely will experiment with other flavours!

I made dark chocolate, and white chocolate

 

Dark chocolate ingredients (makes approx 50): 

300g of good quality dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa, and I went for green and blacks because it’s my favourite!)

300mls of whipping cream.

Heat the cream in a saucepan on a low heat. Don’t let it boil! Break up the chocolate and put it into a heat proof bowl. Once the cream has heated pour over the chocolate in a slow and steady stream. Leave for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt. Stir gently. Leave for a few more minutes to thicken (10-15 should do it). Stir again. Don’t over stir because it will separate. Then leave it in a cool place to set.

 

White chocolate ingredients (makes approx 30) (I wanted less white chocolate truffles than dark chocolate! Depends on how many you want to make… you can half, double, triple the quantities to make as many as you want!):

175g of good quality white chocolate (again, I used green and blacks. It was very vanilla-y so I would probably try a different brand next time, depends on your taste!)

125g of whipping cream

50g of unsalted butter

Similarly to the dark chocolate ones… Heat the cream but with the butter in this one, in a saucepan on a low heat. Don’t let it boil. Break up the chocolate and put into a heat proof bowl. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is heated, pour over the chocolate in a slow and steady stream. Leave for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt. Stir gently, leave for a few more minutes to thicken (10-15 minutes…) and stir again, but as before, don’t over stir because you don’t want it to separate. Leave it in a cold place to set.

Once the chocolate mixture has set, wash your hand, it’s time to get messy!

Now… It depends what you want to dust your truffles in as to how the next bit goes… I used cocoa powder for the dark chocolate ones, and grated dark chocolate for the white chocolate ones. You could use ground nuts, grated white chocolate… really, anything you like that is down to a fine-ish powder.

Get a plate ready with your dusting, and a chilled plate to put them on… (I say plate, singular… probably will need more than one…)

Use a teaspoon, or melon baller to get a nice size of truffle (I wanted them to look homemade, so I wasn’t worried about making sure they were all the same size!) then roll the mixture in your hands to form a ball. Do it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t melt.  Then roll them in whatever you’ve chosen, and pop them on the chilled plate.

They’ll need to sit in a cold place for a couple of hours before serving, or wrapping them up to give away. And they should last 2 weeks in the fridge. (If you haven’t eaten them all already).

These are the dark chocolate ones... I forgot to take a picture of the white chocolate ones! Sorry!

These are the dark chocolate ones… I forgot to take a picture of the white chocolate ones! Sorry!

Happy Truffling! 

K. 

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So I thought I’d try making some bunting a little while ago as a gift for a friend, so I crocheted some. Just for jokes.

I found some pictures and looked up a couple of different ways of making hearts and then kind of mashed them in together and came up with this…

(I also used these hearts as little door hangers too…)

Door Hangers with Initial

This is the pattern:

So adapt it a little as to what size you want…. This is just a guideline:

You need to make a square using single crochet:

Chain 18, then single crochet into the chains, do it back and forth until you have an equal square, so 18 lines of 18. Once you’re at the top, find the central point of the top line, this is where you’ll be crocheting into to make the rounded heart shape. You’ll need to quadruple crochet into this space. (aka, wrap the wool around the crochet hook three times, then crochet in.) (If you make a bigger heart, you’ll need to adapt the amount of times you wrap it around the hook, I made a bigger one and ended up wrapping it 5 times (no idea what that’s called, maybe i’ll name it… pentouple for fun)… it takes a bit of trial and error.)

You need to quad crochet into that space 10 times, then chain one before making a slip knot into the end chain. You then carry onto the other side in the same way.

Once you’ve got the shape, you want to border it by doing single crochet backwards (don’t know what it’s called in the crochet world) the whole way around, slip knot and finish. Make a selection of them, and then crochet them onto string, or wool, whichever. And you have bunting… Alternatively, just add a loop to the top, and you’ll have a door hanger… Either way. It worked well.

Hope these instructions made sense… feel free to ask if you don’t understand it…!

Bunting with name stitched on.

The end.

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”     (Jeremiah 1:5)

A phrase I hear often and yet have never really spent the time deliberating is ‘the miracle of birth’. With a fast growing number of pregnancies and babies around me, at times it can become rather monotonous. Having recently undertaken a four week midwifery placement, I have been drawn to consider the weight of that statement; ‘The MIRACLE of birth’. I’ll be honest, there is a great deal of blood sweat and tears involved in the process (and obviously I mean that quite literally) pain being very high on the list of what is involved in this so-called ‘miracle’, and yet… Women, proceed to endure this on a daily basis and not just once, but several times. I have experienced in those 4 weeks, almost every type of birth a woman could have and every single one of them have involved varying degrees of pain (Eve did not do her sisters any favours in the garden of Eden since this pain is yet another consequence of the fall…). So, why do we put ourselves through it, and why is THIS described as a miracle?

The human body amazes me, it really does. The intricacy of design is just perfect. Every so often I find myself a little overwhelmed by its perfection; my brain struggles to comprehend it. Pregnancy and childbirth falls into that category. A human being is grown, and its life is sustained from inside a woman. Going back a little further to the creation of that human, in very simple terms, an egg- teeny tiny egg, meets a sperm- a little tad-pole like thing,  they connect, they embed themselves in the wall of bit of muscle, and there is the beginning (the blueprint, if you like) of your human. 9 months later, the development process is complete and the woman begins to endure possibly the worst pain of her life with the one intention of pushing that baby out of her body and into a very different world than that human is used to.  There is a very complex process involved in labour that the body (in most cases) just seems to know what to do, naturally. Even if you haven’t yet been through childbirth, you’ll know what to do when you get there, because it’s natural, and your body coaches you though it (with a little help from the midwife…). A phrase I heard often in my 4 weeks of midwifery is ‘I can’t do it…’, but you can, because you have to and because your body is designed for it…!

I admit that at times I become rather blasé about the human body and more specifically about childbirth and babies since it and they are around me as a regular feature of my life. And yet, when I sit and think about it, the weight of that statement ‘the miracle of birth’ completely strikes me. God’s grace and love to us that he has given us such a gift, is shown very clearly through this. I know that the majority of my female friends, if asked, would say that they would love to get married and have children. Some even would go as far as to say that this is their ultimate life’s goal, their desire and their chosen ‘career’. It seems to be embedded into a woman’s heart to eagerly desire this. Why? Because it’s a beautiful gift and it is God’s design. I am no theologian, unlike my brother, I don’t gulp up commentaries and study the crazy clever texts that delve into the deep mysteries of biblical history. I wish I did, I wish I cared, but I don’t. All I can do is speak from what I see, the experiences I have, and see God in my daily life. I find that although Nursing is a massive slog for me, it is a place when I can regularly see God’s majestic hand on a broken world. Something that amazes me is his unconditional love for the people of this earth.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” (Jeremiah 1:5).The God of this universe knew and loved each and every one of us before we were even born, before HE formed us in the womb. We are a creation of God. He formed us. He put us there, in our mothers’ bellies. He knew us before we were born. He declared us sacred. He smiled down upon us as he made us living. That is the miracle. The fact that every living person on this earth was made alive by God astounds me. That he chose for me to be born. That he chose the person who lives 5 doors up from me, to be born. That he chose someone who lives 900 miles away, to be born. It astounds me. No one is a mistake. He has a plan for every single one of the people that he formed. That is the miracle.

‘The MIRACLE of birth’: It sure it that.

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