homebaked afternoon tea

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On my best friend’s birthday we usually go out for afternoon tea but this year I wanted to switch it up a little bit and decided to attempt to bake it instead. 

Above is the result;

  • Sandwiches (egg and cress, cheese, cucumber, ham)
  • Scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam
  • Macaroons with summer fruits filling (recipe here)
  • Chocolate brownie bites (recipe here)
  • Banana loaves with toffee topping and white chocolate curls (recipe here)
  • White chocolate and raspberry cheesecakes (recipe here)
  • Classic Victoria sponge cake with vanilla cream and fresh strawberries (recipe here)
  • Fresh fruit (blueberries, blackberries and grapes)
  • Pink champagne
  • Earl grey tea

Enjoy!

big love

gollygoshgirl xx

 

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the power of kindness

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Unfortunately I need to start with an apology; I’ve got you reading this under false pretences.  You see, the title I really wanted to use for this post is ‘the power of love’ and that’s (hopefully) what you will actually be reading about – if you decide to stick with it despite the big reveal over the subject matter that is!

You see, the problem with calling this ‘the power of love’ is mainly because I immediately get the early 90’s ballad with same title by Dune reverberating round my head (sorry – you probably do too now.  If you don’t – or haven’t heard it – YouTube it.  Then you’ll understand).  Secondly; I didn’t want anyone thinking I was attempting a romance novel (I won’t inflict that on you – promise!).

Anyway; I digress.  Back to the topic!

“The challenge is to live an ordinary life extraordinarily”

Pete Grieg (The Vision and The Vow)

I think we all want to make our mark on the world.  That means different things to everyone but I reckon it’s universal that we want to know we matter.

I am very blessed to have lovely friends, awesome housemates and a great (read ‘slightly crazy but very entertaining’) family.  I love my job, love to dance and when I find the time I love my social life (I hate that term but its a pretty universal way to get the point across so I’ll deal with it).  But sometimes it doesn’t feel enough.  Sometimes I get all deep and meaningful and look at my life wondering what (if anything) I’ve actually achieved.  To those of you now clamouring to ring my doorbell and convert me to some sort of religion that will bring meaning to my life; I’ve already found Jesus and you’re missing the point.  Let me explain.

When I finished my A-levels I moved out and started working. Literally every single one of my friends except one went to university or off travelling.  Cue tales of great adventures, stories of discoveries, revelations of new experiences and album upon album of Facebook photos.  Pretty exciting stuff.  Follow that a couple of years later with friends relocating to exotic destinations, starting real ‘grown up’ jobs (actual careers) with benefits like bonuses and pensions, studying further or continuing their exploration of foreign lands.  Then there was me; working the same job, living in the same house and leading the same life as when we left school. Catching up with friends I’d hear about all the changes in their lives and mine would feel pretty ordinary in comparison.  You see; while their lives were evolving on a massive scale, mine was (and still is) operating on a much smaller one.  They were making their mark on the world in thick black permanent marker and mine felt like a faint pencil line.  I felt so…ordinary.

During that time I read  ‘The Vision and The Vow’ by Pete Grieg.  There are so many quotes I could wax lyrical about from that book (and there’s a high probability I’ll do just that in posts to come) but the one that stuck out to me most was the challenge above ; to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.

You see; the way we live our life matters.  Whatever we’re doing – and whatever we’re scale we’re doing it on – has the potential to impact the world around us.  There are so many stories (and many more untold) of how even one small act by one ordinary person can change a life.

And there’s power in that.  We have the power to effect others and the world around us, and, if we choose; just going about our ordinary lives can make an extraordinary difference.

So what does it look like?

Buying Fairtrade means people we’ve never met get a fair wage.  Sending a text of appreciation to a colleague could make their day. Saying hello to that homeless person in the street could be the most human interaction they’ve had all week. Mailing a photo to a friend reminds them they’re appreciated.  Baking for family or a neighbour shows you care.  Signing a petition helps get causes heard in Parliament.  Spending quality time with people tells them they are valued.  Want more ideas?  Check Random Acts of KindnessGive Mondays or little gestures of appreciation.

The power of love.

What does it look like?

you.

big love

gollygoshgirl

xx

homebaked strawberries and cream macaroons

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Homebaked Strawberries & Cream Macaroons

My dad is awesome.  He wears socks with sandals every day (literally.  all  year  round), loves dressing up as Santa at Christmas, tells jokes so rubbish they’re good, recycles everything, invents his own abbreviations for texting (which are usually completely undecipherable) and ‘assumes the position’ every Sunday after lunch (sleeps in the armchair).  There are a lot of other reasons he’s pretty cool but I think you get the picture!  Anyway; as today is Father’s Day I asked him if he wanted any edible treats – and he requested macaroons.  Which leads us nicely into the rest of this post!

I always use this recipe and it works perfectly every time (hooray!) but I wanted to try something slightly different; so I decided to add a little twist and change the flavours up a little.  I followed my homebaked macaroons recipe but added 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the macaroon mixture and didn’t use any food colouring.  I added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and finely grated white chocolate to the filling.  I then separated it into 6 parts, using a different food colouring to dye each one.  When I sandwiched the macaroons together I added finely sliced strawberries to the middle.  To complete the rainbow aesthetic started with the different coloured fillings; I dyed white fondant the same 6 colours as the fillings and used a star cutter to make the little toppers, attaching them with a very small amount of edible glue.

Hopefully they’ll taste yummy – I’ll be taking them over in a few hours!  Happy Father’s Day Dadsy 😀

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big love

gollygoshgirl

xx

To see more of my homebaking click here or check out my instagram 🙂

healthy homebaked chocolate chip cookies (yep; you heard right!)

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Healthy Homebaked Chocolate Chip Cookies

To cut a long story short; I’ve been throwing myself a pity party for the past week.  I was told I can’t eat gluten, dairy, eggs or yeast for the foreseeable future – possibly forever.  My favourite foods flashed around a conveyor belt in my mind (desserts featuring pretty highly), quickly followed by the realisation that I needed to find some good substitutions as speedily as possible!  All recipes I could find for cookies and cakes seemed to want me to grind nuts (not gunna happen considering that my trusty £5 electric whisk from Argos is my only real equipment) or require a massive amount of substitute ingredients which aren’t readily available or affordable.  I stumbled across the original recipe on pinterest and emailed it to myself but  I cannot for the life of me find the source (if anyone knows it please get at me!).  As usual, I have  made a few little changes – my version is below!  These come out pretty rich but you know what? They also taste surprisingly good!

Ingredients

Makes 16 cookies

  • 1 small Avocado
  • 3/4 cup Honey (for vegans substitute honey for 1/2 cup agave nectar, 2 tbsps soya milk and 1 mashed banana)
  • 1/2 cup Soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Rice flour
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cornflour (UK) or cornstarch (US)
  • 2 tbsps Soya milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa solids)

Method

  1. Slice, pit and mash the avocado.
  2. Place the avocado into a mixing bowl and combine it with the honey.
  3. Add the sugar, soya milk and vanilla extract, mixing until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cornflour.
  5. Slowly mix in the wet ingredients a little at a time.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 2-36 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4
  8. Line your baking trays with greaseproof paper
  9. Roll the mixture into mounds the size of a heaped tablespoon and place onto the baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.
  10. Flatten the mounds of mixture slightly, creating discs.
  11. Bake in the oven for 10-13 minutes.
  12. Let the cookies cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

big love

gollygoshgirl

xx

baked red peppers stuffed with goodness

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Baked Red Peppers Stuffed With Goodness

These.  Are.  Yummy. Fact.  AND they’re super full of nutrients to make your body smile from the inside out!

Since embarking on a quest for healthy goodness at the beginning of April one major thing I’ve noticed (probably very belatedly compared to everyone else) is how many cheeky little unhelpful added extras there are to food that I had thought was pretty good for me!  I’ve certainly discovered the value (and reaped the results) of cooking from scratch using only the good stuff!  It took a fair amount of scouring food labels at the start but I’ve started to work out what is literally what it says on the tin and what is actually a chemically or sugar enhanced flavour.  And my tastebuds can now certainly notice the difference!

The problem is, you don’t want to sacrifice flavour (I wouldn’t have the willpower to anyway!) in pursuit of nutrition or it will make you miserable and simply crave the taste of sugar and fat.  So I started to experiment a little bit with foods I know are full to the brim of nutrients and other goodness, and to come up with meals that taste yummy, are within my price range and that I can prepare in bulk to freeze in my trusty tupperware.

These are my current favourite (recipe below) but my meal prep also includes yummy, filling and crazy healthy stir frys and super food salads amongst others for lunches to take to work.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Red bell peppers
  • 800g Lean turkey mince or lentils
  • 100g Quinoa
  • 400ml Carton of passata
  • 400ml Can of mixed pulses
  • 175g Can of sweetcorn
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 150g Butternut squash (optional)
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Onion
  • Oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 50g Kale, Spinach or a mixture of the two
  • Lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Put the quinoa into a pan of boiling water for 15-18 minutes until cooked, then drain the water.
  3. Chop the sweet potatoes (and butternut squash if you have it) into small chunks (about 1cm big) then place them onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  You don’t need any oil – promise!  Don’t put them in the oven just yet – that comes a little later.
  4. De-seed and halve the red bell peppers (if using for meal prep you need to halve them to fit into tupperware – if you’d prefer them whole like in the picture then go for it – the recipe is the same!) and place them on a baking tray with the inside facing upwards.  Again, no oil needed.
  5. Chop the onion and garlic, then pop them into a frying pan on a medium-high heat with about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for a couple of minutes
  6. If you are using meat add in the turkey and stir until cooked
  7. Add in the oregano
  8. Add the passata, mixed pulses, sweetcorn (and lentils if using) and stir for a few minutes
  9. Finally add the cooked quinoa and kale/spinach for a few minutes and stir well
  10. Spoon the cooked mix into the prepared bell peppers
  11. Place the baking trays with the bell peppers into the oven along with the baking tray of sweet potato and butternut squash.
  12. Cook for 30-35 minutes.
  13. Leave everything on the baking trays to cool for a couple of minutes then transfer the bell peppers to plates or tupperware.
  14. Add the baked sweet potato and butternut squash.

Enjoy!

big love,

gollygoshgirl

xx

 

 

homebaked Barbie cake

 

 

Homebaked Barbie cake

…So one of the girls turned up to school at 9am with a pink cakeboard and two packs of fondant icing announcing she needed to make a cake for a four year old’s birthday by 1.30pm when school finished. This is my second attempt at a Barbie cake (my first attempt is pictured at the end of this post); this is the homebaked chocolate cake with chocolate ganache we created…

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Ingredients

  • 3 Layers of 8 inch homebaked chocolate sponge cakes, sandwiched together with chocolate ganache
  • 200-250g Vanilla buttercream icing
  • 10 inch cakeboard
  • Barbie torso (you can buy these in cake shops)
  • 8cm ribbon to style Barbie’s hair
  • Edible glue
  • 2.5g Pot of edible glitter (2 pots if you won’t be super-careful at making it last for the whole cake)
  • Handmade fondant icing bow (approx 10cm x 4cm)
  • 500g White fondant icing (plus 150g extra if you want to create a ‘train’)
  • 650g fondant icing for main dress (pale pink in the photo)
  • 250g fondant icing for the corset and top of dress (bright pink in the photo)
  • Ribbon or edible gems / flowers / sugarpaste roses to decorate

Method

  1. Sandwich your three layers of sponge cake with the chocolate ganache
  2. Using a knife, shape your sponge tower to resemble a dome
  3. Cover in vanilla buttercream
  4. Using the white fondant icing, cover the cake entirely
  5. Create your fondant icing bow
  6. Create a ‘corset’ for the Barbie torso (it is easier to shape once on the torso and I remove the arms to make it easier)
  7. Create a ‘top layer’ of fondant icing for the dress of whatever design you wish
  8. Using the edible glue; cover the bow, corset and top layer for the dress in edible glitter
  9. Style the Barbie’s hair
  10. Roll out the icing for the base of the dress and cover the cake with it, making sure not to make the icing smooth all the way to the bottom – create folds to enhance the image of a dress.  Trim the icing at the bottom to resemble the shape of the dress hem you want
  11. Attach the top layer of the dress using a little buttercream or edible glue
  12. Insert the Barbie torso into the top middle of the cake
  13. Decorate where the torso meets the top of the dress as desired (ribbon, edible flowers etc)
  14. If desired create and attach a ‘train’ for the dress
  15. Using edible glue, attach the fondant bow
  16. Finish off with any decorations you choose

Enjoy!

big love

gollygoshgirl

xx

p.s. to see more of my homebaking and cake decorating posts click here or take a peek at my instagram here

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homebaked chocolate brownies

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Homebaked Chocolate Brownies

Whenever I introduce the kids I work with to baking these are always the first thing we make; a simple recipe that produces moist, yummy and great looking results every time!  Another Jamie Oliver recipe with a few little adjustments (my version below) – I’m a big fan of his!  You can also add in different little extras to suit your taste – mine always involve extra chocolate chips but chopped nuts, marshmallows, orange zest and dates have also featured in various attempts along the way and the end results were always eaten up pretty swiftly! The brownie in the photo is served with crème fraîche  and orange zest but raspberry coulis or ice cream and fresh raspberries/strawberries are also a firm favourite!

Ingredients

  • 300g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) – as good a quality as you can afford
  • milk and dark chocolate chips
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 65g plain flour
  •  1 tsp baking powder
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4
  2. Line a 20 x 30cm rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a large bowl over some simmering water
  4. Add the butter, melting it with the chocolate and mix until smooth
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar
  6. Add the butter and chocolate mixture and stir well
  7. Beat the eggs and then mix them in until you have a silky consistency
  8. Add the chocolate chips
  9. Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for around 25 minutes.  The brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle.  Yum!  You don’t want to overcook them so – unlike cakes – you don’t want a skewer to come out all clean.
  10.  Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares

Enjoy!

big love

gollygoshgirl

xx

To see more of my homebaking posts click here to check out my instagram here.