Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day (Gimme Some Sugar)...

Okay, so I didn't get a chance to do another post before Christmas - hands up who's shocked. Noone? No, I thought not. I swear, I left everything so late this year - Never Again. (or, you know, never again until next time...)

And I mean really late. Like, I started decorating my Christmas cake at 10pm on Christmas Eve. Luckily the design I had decided on was a simple one, so it was actually doable:

And then I forgot to take a photo of it before I stuck a knife in it. Sigh. Still cute though, right?

NB: The idea for the "North Pole" sign came from "the decorated cookie", although she used a lollipop stick with washi tape, whereas I used a candy cane with the curved part chopped off.

Other goodies we enjoyed on the day included a pavlova with lemon cream and cherry syrup, topped with fresh cherries and raspberries...

The idea for the pavlova's unusual shape was taken from my Donna Hay magazine, where it was called a "Christmas Wreath" pavlova (although hers had a totally different flavour profile).

And yes, it's a terrible photo - I'm sorry about that, but that's the trouble with not being able to take photos at night... (Although guess what? Thanks to my beloved husband, I Now Can!!! More on that later...)

My four year old daughter and I also decorated a gingerbread house this year:

I'm a bit ashamed to say it is an IKEA flat-pack model - but there is a reason for that! I was totally going to bake my own house to decorate with The Muffin. Then I saw that IKEA was having a decorating competition with their flat-pack version, so I thought I'd do two - an IKEA one by myself (in order to attempt to Win The Competition), and a "proper" one to decorate with The Muffin. So I bought one. Flash forward to a week before Christmas, the competition deadline had passed me by, I still hadn't finished my Christmas shopping, and I had four other desserts still to make for Christmas. So I devised a cunning Revised Plan: Bugger Having Two Gingerbread Houses, Stick With The Prefab.

Anyway, with the pressure suddenly turned off, The Muffin and I had such fun decorating this, and my mum joined in too. This side of the house (the front) is the most stylish, so I'm sure our little house wouldn't have won any awards! But that's not really the point, is it? The point is, I had fun with my little girl, and we both ate too many lollies. And what could be more Christmassy than that?

Hope you and yours had a fabulous Christmas, and that Santa was good to you (he certainly was to me!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The End of The Beginning

Here in Australia the end of the school year happens right about now - our long Summer holidays happen over Christmas (obviously. You know, on account of it being Summer...).

Anyway, the point is, my little girl has Finished Kindy. She'll be heading off to Pre-Primary next year. And whilst I'm actually not one of those people who says "wow, the last five years has gone so fast", I must admit that my baby is getting to be quite a big girl now!

So here are the thankyou/Christmas gifts I made for The Muffin's teachers:

The sleighs are chocolate cookies (made from LilaLoa's recipe, which is Soooo Good), held together with royal icing. To make them, I used a sleigh cutter for the sides, and a square cutter to make the little squares and rectangles I needed for the inner "box" part of the sleigh.


It was actually easier than I thought it would be. I kept the decoration of the sleighs simple, as I didn't want to have to burst into tears if they all just fell to bits, but I needn't have worried.

The little sleighs are filled with home made goodies - gingerbread snowmen/trees, rum balls, lime and Malibu truffles. Also each had either a candy cane or a Starlight mint.

The kindy held a graduation morning tea to celebrate the end of kindy, so I took cupcakes:

They were white chocolate cupcakes with lemon vanilla buttercream, and I made the decorations from sugarpaste (with a little CMC added, so I guess technically modelling paste?) Please forgive my ultra-dodgy photo, clumsily doctored using Picnik! As per usual, I was in a rush and didn't get a good photo before the event...

Only two days 'til Christmas! I have one or two more yummy things up my sleeve, so hopefully I'll have time for another post before the big day... Hope your Christmas preparations are going well!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Christmas Times Two

Okay, so I missed Muffin Tin Monday, again. But we didn't miss out on doing muffin tins, I've just been super disorganised busy the last week or two, what with (among other things) the END of kindy, the leadup to Christmas, and the Great Nit Debacle (oh. my. lord, I am so over washing bedding...)

So anyway, the point is, here are our muffin tins from the last two Mondays!

Last week: Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer tin:

Top Row: Carrots (reindeer food); Rudolph banana sandwich with M&M nose; All Of The Other Reindeer pasta (Elk pasta from IKEA).

Bottom Row: String cheese nibblets with Rudolph's Nose Pick (ew, just realised how that sounds...!); Yoghurt snow; Tomato sauce for dipping pasta in.

The Muffin wanted to know what the cheese nibblets were (to do with the theme). My mother (bless her little cotton socks) said "They are reindeer footprints", which my child was delighted with. Probably because Nanna said it. So thanks for that Mum, because I was drawing a blank! Probably would have said "snowballs" or something.

The After Shot:

Everything went except a few carrots.

This Week: Snowy theme (The Muffin's idea):

Top Row: Cranberries (because they are generally Christmassy); Prunes (tenuous link: Prunes are dried plums, ergo voila: Sugarplums!); Marshmallow snowman with pretzel arms.

Bottom Row: Apple salad; Snowman ham & cheese sandwich with ham & cheese details; Yoghurt snow (again. Yes, we are getting mileage out of "yoghurt snow" this year. But today it was All Sparkly And Glittery, although you can't see it in the photo.).

The After Shot:

This tin heralded the beginning of our school holiday MTMs. This means that this tin was The Muffin's lunch, rather than just a snack. I was mildly surprised she left some salad. I know, this shouldn't seem surprising, but The Muffin actually loves this salad (it's the only one she does like, mind you, so don't go getting all jealous or anything). All it is, is grated apple and carrot, plus chopped English spinach leaves, with a squeeze of lemon juice. Super healthy, and normally she scoffs it. The apple and lemon makes it quite sweet, so it's a good way to get some raw vegetables into non-salad eaters. I think this tin was just a lot of food for her, to be honest.

To see what other mums fed their small people this week (and indeed last week), why not head over to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog?

This is our last tin before Christmas Day, so if anyone actually has enough leisure time to read this before the Big Day, Merry Christmas! Hope you & yours have a wonderful and safe day.

And if you come back here later in the week, you will see Cupcakes! And Christmas baking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Christmas Treats

Okay, so very briefly, as it's late and I'm knackered...

It's Muffin Tin Monday! Today I was doing Christmas baking, so when The Muffin got home from kindy, she had a Christmas Treats themed tin:

Top Row: Banana slices with candy cane cutouts; Pear with a gingerbread man pick; Mini pudding truffle (recipe here - and this time we tried out the new Cadbury Melts, and they are sooooo much better than Nestle!)

Middle: Little cup with various sprinkles.

Bottom Row: Ham and cheese "clothes"; Gingerbread man shaped bread and butter; Candy cane.

The idea of the little bread men was that she could use the cheese and ham clothes and the sprinkles to create her own little people. Here's what she came up with:

I particularly liked her little man with its hat. She said the white star was for its mouth ("because I ran out of round sprinkles") but I think it So looks like a little moustache! :o)

The After Shot:

The Muffin loooooved this tin! I have a cute theme planned for next week, too, and hopefully I'll be able to include some more challenging foods in that one! (do I dare incurring her wrath by including cucumber again??? You'll just have to come back next week to find out!)

To check out what other yummy mummies served up this week, go to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Made Cupcakes.

These ones were my first attempt at something I've been thinking about for a while. In the event, they Were Not Worthy. But the icing was sensational: Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I used Sweetapolita's SMBC recipe, and seriously, I could eat a bowlful of this stuff with a spoon...
These ones were rich pear and chocolate cupcakes with coffee buttercream, topped with a macaron shell. They were yummy.

So there you are. Not terribly exciting, I guess, and the Search For The Topkapi Cupcake continues, but at least it's cake, and not just snack foods in a muffin tin! :o)

Around here, the Christmas Baking has begun, so stay tuned for more sugary goodness in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Christmas (#1)

It's Muffin Tin Monday (or it was yesterday, anyway)! In our house, Christmas preparations are picking up speed, and it's not even December yet! But The Muffin is Incredibly Excited about it, plus my shopping isn't as organised this year as it usually is, and we've got a Christmas party happening at our house this year, so there's a fair bit to organise...

Anyway, the point is, I decided to start our Christmas themed Muffin Tins this week, so we get to do a few of them before the big day. This one was a bit of a rush job, I shall do something more creative in the weeks to come!

Top Row: Apple Christmas tree; Apple Christmas bauble; Popcorn "snowflakes" with a puffy green pick.

Bottom Row: Pikelets (Reindeer footprints?); Yoghurt "snow" with vanilla, cinnamon & Christmas tree shaped sprinkles; Plum "Pudding".

I was very pleased with how the "Plum Pudding" turned out - it's just a whole small plum, with a bit of yoghurt drizzled on top, and holly made from a craisin and apple skin. The Muffin was thrilled with it. Upon discovering it was not the dessert, she wanted to know where the dessert was. I told her she had to find it by eating the other things. Eventually she discovered that the green pick was poked into a white marshmallow (hidden by all the popcorn). She found this simple little hide-and-seek aspect great fun.

The After Shot:

Enough said, I think! To check out what other mums did for Muffin Tin Monday this week, check out the Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Coming soon: Cupcakes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Two For The Price Of One!

In our house, we Never Ever miss a Muffin Tin Monday. It's just too much fun (and The Muffin does remember!) However, we do get busy. So sometimes I do miss a Muffin Tin Monday linkup. Like last week. Sorry about that.

But the good news is, that means this week you get Two Muffin Tins For The Price Of One!

First, last week's tin. The Muffin has been quite interested lately in the idea of Disneyland. I can't quite remember why we started talking about it, but I ended up showing her my photos of when I went there, and she was fascinated. And then, the contestants on Junior Masterchef got taken to Disneyland, and that was it. She was hooked. We had an elaborate Sylvanian Families Disneyland set up all over the lounge room for a week, complete with "Splash Mountain" (a slide made with pillows down from the lounge), "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" (Zhu Zhu pet castle), "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" (a small train set with Megabloks "mountain" in the middle), and the list goes on. Okay, I'll admit it - it was actually kind of awesome. I had fun too. :o)

Anyway, so last week's Muffin Tin just had to be Disneyland themed:

Top Row: Banana person (this was not part of the theme. I had run out of ideas at this stage, so I shoved some sultana eyes in half a banana and said "look, this naughty banana person has jumped into your Disneyland tin!" She thought this was hysterical, and kept shrieking "Oh dear, what a naughty banana person!"); Peach Big Thunder Mountain (yes, I know. Rather a lot of imagination required); Mickey head shape made from a tiny choc chip cookie and two mini licorice allsort circles.

Bottom Row: Mickey Mouse and Daisy Duck head Vegemite sandwiches; Yoghurt with red, white and blue stars (we talked about these being the colours of the American flag, and that Disneyland was in America); Mickey Mouse head pikelets (with sultana eyes & nose, and Gourmet Writer mouth).

Here's a closeup of Mickey and Daisy:

I have a Disney cookie press kit, bought by my mother a thousand years ago at Disneyland, so I used a couple of the cookie stamps to cut these sandwiches out, then added sultana and Gourmet Writer details.

So it wasn't the most elaborate Disney tin - it was kind of a last-minute idea - but she loved it. As evidenced by The After Shot:

But wait, there's more!

This week's tin has a Seasons theme. The Muffin helped me come up with ideas for this one:

Top Row: Summer - Pancake Sun (with maple syrup hiding underneath in a little cup); Winter - Popcorn Snow; Spring - Fairy bread Flower with mini M&M centre.

Bottom Row: Summer - fresh Peaches (which are only available in Summer here); Winter - Yoghurt Snow with blue sanding sugar Frost; Autumn - Cheese Leaves.

Yes, I am very aware of the irony of teaching my daughter to associate Winter primarily with snow, when we live in Western Australia (where it has literally never snowed at ground level. Very rarely we may get a tiny bit on our highest mountains, and it melts virtually immediately). But the thing is, snow is so much easier to represent with food than rain is, and I was feeling lazy. We did talk about the fact that we don't get snow here.

The After Shot:

If you'd like to check out what other mums did this week, head on over to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog. Why not make one yourself next week? (hey, you don't even have to have a kid....!) :o)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Kindy

The Muffin has been talking about doing a "Kindy" theme for Muffin Tin Monday for a while now. She asked about it again today, and considering she only has five or six weeks left of being a kindy kid, I thought it was probably time!

The muffin helped with this tin, as it is intended to represent some of the things she likes about kindy.

Top Row: Strawberries (representing Fruit Time); ABC pikelets (representing Reading and Writing); Yoghurt with sprinkle face (representing "Making Friends", or "Playing with other kids". Actually this one was not her idea - she's quite shy - but she agreed to it.)

Bottom Row: Banana slices (also representing Fruit Time); Cheerios (representing Hula Hoops); String cheese carved into pencil shapes (representing Drawing).

I forgot to take an After Shot, but she ate the lot.

To see what other mums fed their small people today, check out The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Hallowe'en (and Bonus Bento!)

It's Hallowe'en! The Muffin has been so excited about it this year, which is actually pretty funny, because most people here don't even celebrate it. But The Muffin figured out early on that Hallowe'en = Lollies And Cookies. And she was totally sold.

So this tin really isn't the healthiest one ever - but hey, it's Hallowe'en.

Top Row: Cadbury Screme Egg; Twisties Ghosts; banana slices.

Bottom Row: Carrot ghosts; Strawberry Ghost (a whole strawberry dipped in white chocolate, with mini choc chip features); Jelly orange (the juice from the orange is made into jelly, and then put back into the scooped-out orange skin halves to set).

The After Shot:

She ate everything except two carrot ghosts and a smidgeon of jelly.

To see what other mummies made for their little monsters today, check out The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

But Wait - There's More!!

Bonus bento: this is what The Muffin had in her lunchbox today:

Pumpkin cookie (somewhat overzealously decorated by The Muffin herself - for some more of her Hallowe'en cookies - and mine - see the other post I wrote today);
Ham and cheese sandwich Ghost, and string cheese ghostlets.
Ham and cheese sandwich Witch Hat;
Sliced apple with Jack-o-Lanternish face, which I quite accidentally arranged into a head-and-body shape (I was just trying to fit it all in), and then added sultana hair after I noticed.

Hallowe'en Fun

Happy Hallowe'en everyone! Or, you know, everyone who celebrates it. Actually Hallowe'en is not that big here in Australia. It's after eight pm as I write this, and we've only had one set of trick-or-treaters knock at the door...

The thing is, a lot of people here dismiss Hallowe'en as "an American thing" that is "not relevant to us". I find this kind of funny, because a) Hallowe'en did not originate in America, and b) having fancy dress parties and eating cute and funny-looking cookies is Completely Relevant to me, at any rate! Others object to Hallowe'en on religious grounds, which is fair enough.

At our house, we do celebrate Hallowe'en. We don't take it at all seriously, and we don't even always have/attend a party - we just think it's a bit of fun. And an excuse to make these:

I got the idea for these from the Donna Hay feauture in our weekend newspaper, but I lost the picture before I made these, so I have no idea how close mine are to the original...

Awesome, brilliant idea from LilaLoa, executed somewhat haphazardly by yours truly. You should check hers out, they're great.

The whole set:
I didn't do lots of different types this year. We weren't having a party or anything, so these were pretty much made for Husband to take to work, plus some for us to eat. The green "eyeball soup" cookies are a Sugarbelle design, although I decided to make my eyeballs out of sugarpaste so that I could have all different sizes. Check hers out here. For the pumpkins, I just kind of did my own thing (not that it's very original or anything, but I kind of like them).

Oh, and these are some of the cookies The Muffin decorated:

I was quite impressed with her Jack-o-Lantern, especially since she used a piping bag (usually she uses a squeezy bottle, which is much easier for her to control).

So the moral of this story, ladies and gentlemen, is this: No matter what your beliefs, no matter what you think of All Hallow's Eve and those who celebrate it, remember this: Life Is More Fun When It Involves Cookies.

Thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Yummy Foods

This week's theme (for me) was "I have leftover potato and various halves of pieces of fruit etc in the fridge and I can't think of a theme they fit in with and frankly I'm feeling a bit lazy". So, feeling that this would not fly as a theme suggestion in The Muffin's view, I suggested a "Yummy Foods" theme. This involved me dragging out all the stuff I wanted to use up, and letting The Muffin choose.

She had to choose at least one vegetable, at least one fruit, and at least one protein. Here's what she ended up with:

Top Row: Leftover steamed potato; Salami arranged into a "flower"; Bertie Beetle (from her showbag).

Bottom Row: Apple slices arranged into a "flower"; Vanilla yoghurt; Banana slices.

The After Shot:

This tin, whilst not the most exciting one ever, was still well received (and why wouldn't it be, considering she chose what went into it?), and declared yummy.

To see what other mum did this week, go to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Royal Show Entries 2011

Wow, I can't believe I'm posting this so LATE. I'd been planning to post about these toward the end of Show week, while we were away on holidays. But I found myself trying to upload things using Husband's mobile phone's internet connection, which was So Slow that I gave up. And since we got home, I just seem to have been awfully busy!

Anyway, enough excuses - on to the sugary goodness...

I entered into three Classes at the Perth Royal Show this year: Decorated Biscuits (cookies), Patty Cakes (ie cupcakes), and Macarons.

The macarons were a nightmare. I made about twelve batches of the little buggers, wailing "Why did I write "macarons"? What On Earth Was I Thinking??" My macaron issues could easily fill a whole post, so I won't go into it here. Suffice to say, my macs tasted fine, and looked okay, but I was never in danger of winning any prizes! The ones I entered were the plain coloured one (at the front), and the back two pinks (the darker ones).

I was far happier with my cupcakes and my cookies. For the cookies, I decided to go with a Christmas theme:

All the decorating is royal icing, except the holly on the pudding, which I made from sugarpaste. I was really happy with how these turned out, and the judges must have agreed, because I Won! Woo hoo! The competition was a lot stiffer this year than it was last year, so I was really pleased.

Finally, for the cupcakes I decided on one of my favourite themes: Alice in Wonderland. After many preliminary sketches, and much elimination, I settled on these six designs:

You know how so often you have a clear idea of how you want something to look, and then when you make it, it doesn't turn out that way? Well this cupcake turned out Exactly as I'd imagined it - don't you Love It when that happens? I realise the Alice-Down-The-Rabbit-Hole cupcake design is not exactly an original one - it's been done by many, many people, including Planet Cake - but I've noticed that most of these designs use just a couple of flat white frills. I really wanted my Alice to have lots and lots of extra-poofy, voluminous petticoats.

Shhh - don't wake the Talking Flower - she might think you're a weed...

And don't tell the Queen that we've been Painting the Roses Red:

With all this cake, would you like a cup of tea? Or perhaps just half a cup...?

I also made a Bread-And-Butterfly with some little flowers, and a tabletop with a "Drink Me" bottle and tiny gold key.

Here's the whole set:

Most of the decorations are modelling paste, except the key, the red "paint", the "butter" and the little flowers' centres, which are all royal icing. The "Drink Me" topper (shown here sans cupcake) was sitting on top of a buttercream swirl for the Show to heighten the tabletop look.

Anyway, in case you're wondering - yep, these won their Class too! :o)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Hearts for Dinner, and a Clever Little Cookie

Happy Muffin Tin Monday everyone! This week we were out at lunch time, so we went for a simple Hearts theme for our MTM, at dinner time:

Top Row: Sausage; Spinach leaf hearts; Yoghurt with heart sprinkles.

Bottom Row: Cucumber hearts, and carrot sticks; Shepherds pie; Banana chips.

The After Shot:

Madam was Not Amused at having to eat a piece of cucumber. I reminded her that the rule of Muffin Tin Monday (in our house, anyway) is that she has to eat one thing (or a bit of it, if it's big) from each compartment. You should have seen the performance, facial-expression-wise. This kid should be on the stage. But she Suffered through one small piece of cucumber, all the same. Probably scared I wouldn't let her eat the banana chips if she didn't. :o)

To see what other mums fed their kiddies this week, check out the Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

But Wait - There's More!

Look what my Clever Girl did:

These were The Muffin's entry into this year's Perth Royal Show (decorated cookies class). She received no help at all with these - mixed her own icing colours and everything. She didn't get a prize, but the judges said she came very close to getting the Honorable Mention over an eight-year-old - and she's only four! I think they are beautiful, and I am a Very Proud Mummy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Show Day!

Today we went to the Perth Royal Show! To say that The Muffin has been looking forward to it is a Massive Understatement, and we had a fantastic day. As we had lunch and dinner at the Show (we stayed for the fireworks, which were Awesome), we had our Muffin Tin Meal for breakfast:

Top Row: Yoghurt with vanilla; Banana slices.

Middle Row: Weetbix Bites (berry flavour); Weetbix Bites (apricot flavour).

Bottom Row: Home-made muesli x 2.

The After Shot:

This was a pretty big breakfast - all those little compartments of different cereals add up! So although there's a bit of muesli and milk left over, she actually ate really well.

Oh, and by the way, we actually did do Muffin Tin Monday last week, but I was soooo busy with my Royal Show baking (which I will post about later this week, I promise) that I just didn't have time to link up. But I thought it might be appropriate to put last week's photos up today too, as our theme was The Royal Show! (did I mention The Muffin was hanging out for Show Day? Seriously, we have heard nothing else for weeks...)

So here's what we had last week:

Top Row: Fairy bread Ducklings (representing the baby animal nursery); Strawberry Shortcake Showbag containing strawberries; Macaron shell with a ferris wheel drawn on with Gourmet Writers (representing Sideshow Alley).

Bottom Row: Yoghurt with sprinkles (representing the Dairy Pavilion - one of our favourites, as they give out heaps of yummy samples); two Apple People in a teacup (representing the Spinning Teacups ride, which is The Muffin's favourite); Bread and cheese Horse with a cheese "Best In Show" ribbon (representing the animals on show).

Here is a better look at the "Showbag":

I just folded up a piece of baking paper and popped a Strawberry Shortcake sticker on (seemed appropriate to the contents, which were fresh strawberries). Two fitted in, and I popped a third one underneath the bag.

The After Shot:
'Nuff said.

Go to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog to see more Muffin Tin yumminess!

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