Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sweet Potato Cake for the The Babe...and me!

In an effort to get a many vitamins and nutrients into The Babe's diet I have found myself "hiding" veg in our food.  I always thought that "hidden veg" was crazy...I thought "my child will eat all sorts of vegetables"...but that was before I had a child, and before I realised that children are, in essence, fickle and unpredictable.  The Babe will love something one day, absolutely gorge herself on it and then the next day toss it aside like it is the most disgusting thing I have ever put on her plate.  So, in a bid to stop scraping pieces of vegetable off the floor after most meals I have done what I thought I would never do...I have started hiding vegetables in our food.  



I made this Maple and Sweet Potato Loaf Cake during the week and it has been a huge hit.  The Babe really loved sweet potatoes while were in Canada in July, she gobbled up her sweet potato fries like it was nobody's business, but since we've been home my efforts have been met with less enthusiasm. Turning to Pinterst for help I found loads of great ways to use sweet potato in sweet dishes...brownies, muffins, cakes and pies.  I liked the recipe I chose because it was very close to the recipe I use for banana bread.  


I halved the sugar in the recipe and used Macadamia Milk instead of water to loosen the batter a bit (only because I had Macadamia Milk in the fridge needing to be used up).  To save some time I baked a large sweet potato the night before and then left it in the fridge overnight.  If you do this step in advance the cake takes no time at all to prepare, although it does take a while to bake (60 mins).  Once cooled I sliced it up into snack sized portions for The Babe, wrapped them in cling film and popped them into the freezer.  Of course I saved a few portions for immediate enjoyment! 

I slathered mine in butter and pear fruit spread.  It was fantastic.  The cake tastes slightly of sweet potato, but in my opinion it isn't over powering.  It is super moist and slightly dense.  I think it makes a great snacking cake for little ones, and The Babe has really enjoyed the couple of slices she has had.   


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Frills and Fizz...The Pommery Afternoon Tea at The Signet Library

It is August and Edinburgh is ALIVE.  The festivals are truly underway...there are people everywhere and it is awesome.  Last year I avoided festival hotspots like the plague, with a itty bitty teeny weeny brand new baby there was no way I was going to expose her to the hustle and bustle, bumps and crowds of Edinburgh in August.  But this year we are embracing it with gusto, I just strap her into the baby carrier on my chest and away we go...into the crowds, into the noise, into the fun.  She has loved the people watching and the food trucks...like mother like daughter I guess! 

This past weekend we treated ourselves to Afternoon Tea at The Pommery Champagne Bar, which has popped up once again at the Signet Library on The Royal Mile.  I love this venue, it is stunning and the tea is pretty good too! Last year I took The Babe when she was just a month old...this year she is just over a year old and I think it is safe to say she really enjoyed herself.  

The Babe last year
The Babe loving the mirrored tables this year
We ordered the Afternoon Tea, with a glass of fizz for me (woop) and a IPA for Dad.  The cake towers held just the right amount of treats for us two greedy guts.  A selection of sandwiches and oatcakes topped with creme fraiche and smoked salmon, fruit scones with jam and cream, and small sweets made up our feast.  


The staff were very kind, and attentive.  I had booked our table on line, which was easy enough, and also called to enquire about a high chair.  We were in luck, the venue does have a high chair (I didn't ask if there was more than one) and they were happy to add it to our booking so that it was already at our table when we arrived.  When we ordered our Afternoon Tea I asked for an extra cheese sandwich for The Babe, so she would have something of her own to eat. Sadly, they weren't serving egg mayonnaise (her favourite)...but she happily munched her way through THE WHOLE SANDWICH! 


Dad was kind enough to share his mini carrot cake with her.  I was all up for asking for an extra cake since I wasn't prepared to share (yeah I know...rotten mummy) but Dad offered his instead.  She wasn't a fan of the raw carrot slivers on top of the icing, in fact she dramatically threw one on the floor, but I thought it was a lovely touch.  


This is the third year I have been for Afternoon Tea at the Pommery and, while I knew what to expect, it was completely different experience dining with a small child.  I was happy that she loved looking in the mirror and watching people coming and going and the attention from the staff, her squeals of excitement were fantastic. 

While the Pommery Bar is only open in August for the festival season there is a cafe open year round in the Signet Library, which also offers Afternoon Tea (without Champagne) so The Babe and I are already planning our return visit! 




Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Very Special Birthday Party

The older Lyra gets the less time I find I have to sit down and update this blog.  Sure, she is still napping during the day (in fact she has gotten BETTER at napping during the day) it is just that I can no longer justify letting housework pile up and NEED to put my feet up every chance I get.  After A YEAR of doing this Mummy thing I really do NEED to spend every second she is not escaping from the living room actually maintaining some semblance of order.

Food wise, Lyra has been eating solid foods for the past 6 months and has developed a good appetite for most of what we eat.  She pretty much eats everything that David and I eat with the exception of broccoli, which I have to sneak into pastas and quiche.  Her favourites, by far, are scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and banana, pasta with anything on it, salmon, egg mayo sandwiches and sweet potato fries.  I love watching her eat and the enthusiasm she displays while devouring her meal.  

We were in Canada (again) this past month and celebrated Lyra's first birthday with a small BBQ (Uncle Matt's famous pulled pork) and some very special Carrot Cupcakes.  


I used Annabel Carmel's carrot muffin Recipe (toddler friendly) and topped them with cream cheese icing and "prinkles".  The recipe made 12 regular sized muffins and 12 mini muffins, which was perfect for celebrating with little ones as well as adults (or those who just wanted a little but of something sweet after the awesome BBQ and sides). 



















The extra special treat was sharing the celebrations with Grandad, whose birthday is also in July! 


And now onto the next year full of new adventures, new discoveries and new tricks! 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Ombre Chocolate Sprinkled Masterpiece

So I'm a bit late to the Ombre party. I have been drooling over pins on pinterest for ages but just haven't gad the time or occasion to give it a go. I know, I know, I hardly need an occasion but even I think a 3 layer monster cake is a bit OTT for 2 people...

Anyway, The Babe and I just happened to be visiting The Grandparents in Canada over the last month who wanted to host a BBQ for family and some friends on the Victoria Day Weekend...it also happened to my cousin's 17th (awwwwwwwwwww) birthday weekend.  I no longer needed an excuse the Ombre cake was on the cards! 

A while ago I fell in love with a purple Ombre cake covered in white buttercream and sprinkles. It looked amazing and although my cousin is a boy purple cake is pretty darn cool.  

























I had made 4 layers but once I started putting it all together I felt that 3 were enough.  I sandwiched them with a lovely homemade blackberry jam (purple purple purple) and then, instead of buttercream, I whipped up a batch of Nigella's Chocolate Frosting from her Devil's Food Cake recipe in Kitchen.  I love this "frosting" it firms up like a ganache but doesn't use cream.  It is my go-to chocolate icing recipe. Try it...trust me.  

























Covered in handfuls of 100s and 1000s this cake was pretty awesome looking.  The inside, of course, was a surprise....

























Of course I Instagrammed the heck out of it...it is so awesome.  

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Wrights Cake Jazzed up for Easter

BtB (Before the Babe) I would have spent hours in the run up to Easter baking buns, cakes, sugar cookies...anything and everything...now I have to be choosey in what I spend my time on.  Last weekend I decided to offload The Babe on David to make Hot Cross Buns meaning that come Easter Weekend the buns could just come out of the freezer and I could focus on our lunch.  Since naps are still completely unpredictable I decided to spend the little time I had getting veggies and the chicken ready and I didn't really have time to muck about with baking and decorating so I picked up a Wrights Madeira Cake Mix, a lemon and some white chocolate easter eggs, spent 10 mins getting the cake mixed up and into the oven, waited an hour for it to bake, an hour to cool and then topped it with a thick lemony glaze and white chocolate easter eggs. So easy, but it did the job.



Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Quick Hack for a cake mix cake

Since having The Babe in July I really haven't baked anything that requires more than 10 mins to prepare...except for the birthday cake I made David in October...and while not a disaster that was a huge learning curve.  The Babe will happily sit in her rocking chair and watch me in the kitchen but I am too nervous to attempt anything that needs me to focus, since that is pretty much impossible these days.  I have been making muffins, scones, and cookie bars since they are so quick and easy and recently, to satisfy my cake cravings, I've been whipping up treats using Wrights Cake Mixes

Just before The Babe was born we stocked up on some mixes; chocolate fudge, ginger and toffee are our faves...and David baked them over our first few weeks with The Babe. The mixes were a life saver, and I'm still using them but now I'm jazzing them up a bit. 

Last week I was craving a super decadent Chocolate Cake so, while The Babe rested her eyes, I stirred up a Chocolate Fudge Cake mix, popped it in the oven and then quickly mixed up some chocolate ganache.  Easy Peasy. The cake took an hour to bake, the ganache took a little over an hour to thicken, an once the cake was cooled I sat The Babe up at the table in her highchair with some rice cakes to munch on and got on with slathering a very thick layer of chocolate frosting over the cake.  


I use Nigella's Chocolate Frosting recipe from her Devil's Food Cake Recipe in Kitchen.  To generously cover an 8 inch cake I just make half the recipe, and to save time I chuck all the ingredients into a glass bowl set over simmering water.  It works.

Topped with fresh strawberries and blackberries you wouldn't even know this cake was from a packet.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Chocolate Chip Pretzel COOKIE Bars

The Babe and I met up with a couple of friends today for a catch up, a cup of tea, and more than one sweet treat.  One of my pals has been out of town for a few weeks so it was a great excuse to make something a bit OTT.  Crammed chocka block with chocolate chips, minstrels and pretzles I fell in love with these cookie bars.  That's right...cookie...bars.

Cookie batter baked in a cake tin and then cut into squares...I may never make regular cookies again.  Ok, that's not true...I probably WILL make cookies again, but I am pretty sure I'm going to be overdosing on cookie bars.  


These are so easy to make and baked in around 30 minutes...so much better than baking tray after tray of normal cookies.  Another bonus...this recipe uses melted butter...no need to be all organised and have your butter out softening the night before (although I did because I hadn't actually read the recipe).  So now I am in love with the cookie bar and have been surfing Pinterest all day looking for the next recipe (smores, peanutbutter, m&m)...I'm hooked.