Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Caramel Fudge

A F T E R N O O N    E V E R Y O N E !

Caramel Fudge

I have had this recipe for years and have made it countless times as it is just that good!  I originally found it on the side of a Nestle sweetened condensed milk tin.  The secret to this fudge is the white chocolate that is added in at the end.  To package it up nicely for a friend I used an old Ferrero Rocher container and layered the caramel fudge between sheets of baking paper.


Caramel Fudge
125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
100g white chocolate (broken in pieces)


Line a 7cm x 25cm pan with baking paper.
Melt butter in pan.
Add golden syrup, sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar.
Stir over low heat until boiling, reduce heat, simmer 10 mins, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, add white chocolate, mix until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan, refrigerate until set.  Cut into squares.


I hope that you enjoy this recipe.  Now the only problem is being able to stop at eating just one...


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pink Heart Necklace

Afternoon Everyone!

Pink Beaded NecklaceHere is a tutorial of how to make a cute little necklace using freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals and a lampworked heart bead as the focal bead.

Making this necklace will help you to learn the basics of how to use tigertail, crimps and jumprings.

Tigertail is nylon covered wire that is used for stringing on beads.  It is strong and flexible but unfortunately it does kink easily so be aware of this when working with it.  Tigertail comes in many different colours.  For this necklace I used gold.

Crimps are small metal tubes that are threaded onto tigertail and squished with flat nose pliers.  They can be used to either stop beads from moving or help attach a clasp securely.

A jumpring is a metal ring that can be used to attach clasps, beads or even make chainmail.

To make this necklace you will need:
Pink Beaded Necklace
Tools:
Flat Nose Pliers
Side Cutters
Round Nose Pliers
Chain Nose Pliers

Ruler

Findings:
Tigertail
Crimps
Eye Pins
Jump Rings
Parrot Clasp
I used all gold findings.

Beads:
Heart Lampwork Bead
Pink and Green Freshwater Pearls
Crystal Bicone Swarovski Beads (6mm)

Now, to make the necklace:

Cut 2 lengths of tigertail at 40cm each.

Thread on a crimp.

Bend over the tigertail and thread back through the crimp.  Using the flat nose pliers squash the crimp making sure that the tigertail doesn't cross over onto itself.

Trim off the excess tigertail with the side cutters.  Repeat with the second piece of tigertail.

Thread the heart bead onto the 2 crimped tiger tails.

Thread on a crimp.  Using a ruler measure 15mm along the tigertail from the top of the bead and squash the crimp using flat nosed pliers.  Repeat on the other piece of tigertail.

Thread on the beads.

Thread on a crimp and squash it as close to the beads as possible so that they can not move up or down the tigertail.

Repeat on the second piece of tigertail.

Measure another 15mm along the tigertail and place a crimp. Repeat on the other piece of tigertail.

Thread on the beads and a crimp to stop them from moving.

Continue to add beads and crimps with 15mm between each set.

Once the desired length has been reached (for me that was 50cm and 12 sets of beads) thread on a crimp and a jumpring.

Thread the tigertail back through the crimp and squash it closed using the flat nose pliers.

Trim off the excess tigertail using the side cutters.

Open the jumpring to the side and thread on the parrot clasp.  Don't open the jumpring out as it will lose its shape.  Use a jumpring here so that if the clasp ever breaks it is easy to replace.

On the second tigertail, thread on a larger jump ring for the parrot clasp to hook onto.

Pull the tigertail tight and crimp.  Trim off the excess tigertail.

Thread 3 beads onto head pins and make the loops.  If you are not sure how to do this click here for a tutorial.

Open up one of the beads and thread it through the 2 loops at the bottom of the heart.  Remember to open the loop to the side not outwards.

Open the loops on the beads.  Thread the second bead through the loop of the first and the third bead through the loop of the second.


Once you master the basics of beading you can change the colours to make jewellery to match any outfit.  Or even make matching earrings!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Potato Soup

Afternoon Everyone!

Potato Soup

Quite a few years ago, a friend and I were cleaning out a storeroom when we were working for an After School Care Centre.  It obviously hadn’t been cleaned out for years so we were trying to cull and organise everything as best we could.  Things that looked old and out of date went straight in the bin.  This is where I discovered this recipe book: 

Potato Soup

It is old and tattered but in the loved kind of way.  So I fished it out and realised that it was one of those handmade recipe books where different people contribute their favourite recipes.  I adore these kinds of books as individuals only put in their absolute best recipes.  Over the past 5 years or so I have made some of these recipes and they have been utterly delicious!  So my aim is to try out every recipe in this book.  I will have to convert some ingredients over to the metric system but I think that this will be a fun cooking adventure.  So, here we go.  The first recipe that I will try is:

Potato Soup

I did modify this recipe to suit my own tastes.  I didn’t add as much salt as 3 tablespoons seems like a lot and I like to add my own garlic salt later.  I also added some pepper and substituted the parsley and some of the milk for cream and chives.  I love cheese so I added in heaps more than the recipe suggested.  So this is the final recipe that I made:

Potato Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon oil
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced potato
½ teaspoon salt (or according to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (or according to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
½ cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon chives


In a saucepan, cook onions in the oil until they are soft, not browned.  Add stock, potatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar and bring to the boil.  Simmer for half an hour.  Blend mixture and return to the saucepan.  Mix the flour with the milk thoroughly, add to the soup.  Add the cream.  Stir until boiling and simmer for 5 mins.  Stir in the cheese and chives.

Now that it is coming into winter this is a wonderful comfort food.  It tastes so good and wholesome and can be frozen for those cold winter nights where you just don’t want to cook.  The only thing that could possibly make this recipe any better is some bacon off the bone.  I am looking forward to having the left overs already!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Lava and Swarovski Crystal Bracelet

Afternoon Everyone!

Beaded Bracelet

In this post I would like to talk about eye pins.  Eye pins are very similar to head pins but instead of having a flattened head on the end it has a loop.  They are used to link up beads easily.  Today, I will show you how to make a simple bracelet using eye pins.

Often when I make jewelry, I start with one type of bead and then find other beads that match.  Today, I started with lava beads.  These are very lightweight black beads that are made from cooled molten rock.  Because they are so lightweight they can be used to make chunky jewellery without having to worry about it being too heavy.  I chose blue and clear Swarovski crystals to represent the lava rock and the ocean.  I believe that nature know best when it comes to colour.  I used this picture as inspiration. -->


To make this bracelet you will need:
Tools: Flat Nose Pliers
          Side Cutters
          Round Nose Pliers
          Chain Nose Pliers
Findings: Eye Pins
              Magnetic Clasp
Beads: Lava Disc Beads (18mm)
           Crystal Bicone Swarovski
           Beads   (6mm)
           Sapphire Bicone Swarovski
           Beads (6mm)


To assemble the bracelet:
Lava Bead
1. Thread the bead onto the eye pin.
2. Trim the eye pin using the side cutters to 1 cm.

3. Bend the wire to a 45° angle either using your fingers or your flat nose pliers.
 4. Using your round nose pliers roll the wire to form a loop.
 5. Make the two loops at each end of the bead line up by straightening them with your flat nose and chain nose pliers.
6. Open the loops of the eye pins to the side using your chain nose pliers.  Never open them up the way that you have just rolled it or the wire will become weak and you will loose the integrity of the loop. Join on the bead and close the loop.
7. Add on the magnetic clasp.  Open the loops to the side, thread on the clasp and close.
For more details about how to roll a loop check out my Easy As Earrings post.  Don't worry if they don't look perfect the first time, they do take a bit of practise.  If you cut the wire a little too long your loop will not sit right.  To fix this use your side cutters and trim a few millimetres off of the end and continue the roll.
Use as many beads as you need to fit your wrist.  I used 5 lava beads and 6 Swarovski beads.  You may need more or less.  Just measure it along your wrist as you are making it.  It is sometimes hard to know just how long to make a bracelet for a friend.  Making memory wire bracelets may solve this problem, although I do think that these beaded chain bracelets look more elegant.
You can also use any clasp that you wish I just find the magnetic clasp easier to put on.  However, if the bracelet is heavy a magnetic clasp is not the best option as the bracelet may fall off.  A parrot clasp may be best.

Happy Beading!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Caramel Apple Dip

Caramel Apple Dip
Afternoon Everyone!

I had this dip years ago at a friend’s house and then remembered the recipe randomly in the middle of the night a week ago.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made it.  I have tried it out on a few friends and they love it.  Nobody expects it to taste so good.  It is simple to make and is very addictive.

Caramel Apple Dip
1 tub of cream cheese (250g)
½ cup brown sugar
5 granny smith apples
Beat together until well combined.
That is it!  So easy and so yummy.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Kit Kat Cake


Kit Kat CakeAfternoon Everyone

When I brought out hubby’s birthday cake last night our guests actually said “Wooooow!”, which I took as a huge compliment especially since I am not a cake decorator.  So THANKYOU Pinterest!  You make me look so much more skilled than I really am.


So, this is how I made the Kit Kat Cake.  First I made a basic chocolate cake.  I found the recipe in an old book that I fished out of the bin while cleaning out a church storeroom.  That’s another story that I will blog about soon...

Simplicity Chocolate Cake
60g butter or margarine
1 cup self raising flour
½ cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond essence


Melt butter.  Put all ingredients in a large bowl and pour the melted butter on top.  Beat with electric beaters for 3 mins or until well combined.  Pour into a prepared tin and bake in a moderate oven (180°C) for 30 – 35 mins.  The cake is ready when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.

To decorate the cake I modified a recipe of Cream Cheese Icing.  Click here for the original recipe.

Buttercream Icing
¼ cup butter (at room temperature)
½ tub of cream cheese (125g)
¼ cup cocoa
2 cups icing sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons cream


Using electric beaters blend butter and cream cheese in a bowl until well combined.  Add cocoa and blend.  Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.  Add the cream until you get the consistency that you want.

Decorate the Cake
3 – 4 blocks of family size kit kats (broken into individual pieces)
2 bags of M&M’s
Ribbon

After icing the cake, position the kit kats around the outer edge.  Tie the ribbon around the kit kats.  Pour the M&M’s into the center.


That’s it!  So easy and yet it looks so good!  Come to think if it there is still some left in the fridge.  Mmm afternoon tea time I think….

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Lego Sugar Cookies


Afternoon Everyone!
Lego Sugar Cookies
We all love Lego, right? So when I saw this tutorial on Sweet Sugar Belle of how to make Lego cookies, I had to give it a go. I decided to make the lego men as well as the lego bricks. 

First of all I made the sugar cookie recipe from GloriousTreats:

Sugar Cookies
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup/238g butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


1.       Stir together the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

2.       Using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take around 3 mins.

3.       Add the egg and vanilla.  Beat for another minute.

4.       Add the flour to the mixture slowly.

5.       Blend until all the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.

6.       Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it.

7.       Put some baking paper on top of the dough and roll it out using a rolling pin to around 8mm high.

8.       Put the sugar cookies on a baking pan lined with baking paper.

9.       Put the baking pan with the cookies in the fridge for 3-5 mins so that they won’t spread when in the oven. 

10.   Bake the cookies for 8-10 mins depending on the size of the cookies.  They should be just starting to take on a golden tone. 

I drew up a template for the lego man head and cut it out of an old ice-cream container lid.  You can see the dimensions that I used in the picture.  I simply placed it on top of the rolled dough and traced around it with a knife.  I found that once I picked it up I needed to flatten the sides with the side of my knife. For the bricks I cut the dough into rectangles of 6.5cm x 3cm.

I let the cookies cool overnight and then made up some Royal Icing the next day:

Royal Icing
1 ½  tablespoons of meringue powder (Pavlova Magic)
2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons of warm water


Beat all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Make sure that all the utensils are grease free or the icing won’t reach its proper consistency.
Recipe from
 Wilton.com

Decorating The Lego Man
1.       Using a piping bag, outline the cookie with black icing.  This will create a dam.

2.       When the black icing is dry, flood the top and bottom rectangle with yellow icing.  Icing used for flooding needs to be thinned or the final result will look lumpy.  Thin the icing with 1 teaspoon of water per cup of icing.  Only add in half a teaspoon at a time until the right consistency is reached.

3.       Flood the center of the cookie with more yellow icing.  I like to pipe the icing on in a spiral pattern so that it flows on evenly.  Use a toothpick to spread out the icing or fix up any bubbles.

4.       After the icing is dry (I left mine overnight) pipe on the eyes and smile.

Decorating the Bricks
1.     Using a piping bag outline the cookie.



2.   When the outline is dry, flood the center with thinned icing.




3.   Pipe on 6 dots when the icing is dry.  Don’t use the thinned icing or the dots will run off the cookie.



I had some left over icing so I grabbed some Malt-O-Milks out and used up all of the left over icing on those.  They look so much better than I expected.  Since they are rectangles, I think that I will use them next time to make the Lego Bricks instead of making the sugar cookies.

So, this was my first time decorating sugar cookies and although it sounds easy it took a lot longer than I expected.  Especially because I only had 1 piping bag, so there was a lot of cleaning and refilling.  I am very happy with the results.  They don’t look as good as the ones in the Sweet Sugar Belle tutorial.  But I am very impressed with how cute they are.  Now, to eat them….

Friday, 4 May 2012

Glass and Mirror Cleaner

Afternoon Everyone!

This is my shower screen.   I know what you are thinking: “Oh no, that can be real!”.  Well it is, and that’s because living in the outback means that often the town water is bore water (as it is here).  Our bore water has a lot of calcium in it and this is what it does to our shower screen.  When the water dries it leaves yellowy white marks everywhere and it is downright annoying!  So since I’m trying to change my cleaning with chemicals habit I had to try and find a Glass and Mirror Cleaner that is good enough to tackle this problem.  After a bit of research I came across this recipe.

Glass and Mirror Cleaner
1 cup filtered water
1/8 cup rubbing alcohol
1/8 cup white vinegar

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. Use newspapers or a lint free cloth to clean glass and mirrors.


I have to say that this recipe worked just as well as bought glass cleaners.  I still need to use a scouring pad to scrub off all of the calcium but it wasn’t any more or less cleaning than what I usually have to do.  I also used this mixture on the mirror and it came up beautifully after just one spray and wipe.

So, all in all, I am very impressed with this recipe and I know that I will definitely be using it again.  I tried to take a picture of the clean glass shower screen for you but couldn’t because the camera wouldn’t focus on it.  Instead, here is a picture of the view from our bathroom window through the shower screen!