Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Homemade Oreos

Josh is away up north for the next few days, and I am hanging out with my kiddies and making the most of a chance to catch up with friends. But missing my man!
I sent some of these with him to do his practice presentation run at my mums last night, and they were very well received.

Although I have my Kenwood kitchen mixer, its nice to have recipe where you don't cream anything, you just whisk, and stir. Very refreshing!

This one has been on my list for a while. 
This is a Bakerella recipe, oh man, I love this woman. She is SO dam clever.

I should admit... I sorta forgot to get a picture of the finished product. 

Noob mistake, I know, I got pictures leading up to it... And now, they are all gone!!

Cos they were pretty dam good. 

 I went for a super cute scalloped look for my oreos. 

And they were super cute.

And super yum.

They stretched out a wee bit once cooked. CUUUUUTE!

Although these were awesome, they were a bit of work. And the thing is, I didn't feel like they really tasted quite like Oreo's... at all... I can't put my finger on it, but I couldn't seem to get the cookies hard enough, crunchy enough... Especially once iced, and after a few hours of sitting, the icing soaked in a little and made them more soft. 

DO NOT CONFUSE THIS.. these were good, just not good oreo's. Good cookies.

Check out Bakerella for some much more adorable photos than I can provide, or remember to take.

These reminded me of my dads chocolate slice, which is way faster to make, like WAY faster, but these are worth a go. Let me know if you have better luck with the crunchy factor.


228 g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled.
3/4 cup sugar (150g)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (200g) milk chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 3/4  cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

114g unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
Pinch of salt
Food colour, optional

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Whisk in the egg until combined.
  • In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda until combined. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Mix well, using your hands to combine if wanted. 
  • Let the dough sit for an hour to firm up.
  • Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper. Shape into a log about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place log along the edge of wax paper. Shape as you roll to maintain a smooth cylinder (it's a little harder than you would think :S).
  • Twist ends of paper to secure and help keep the shape compact. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, I did mine overnight. If log begins to settle on one side, turn slightly every 15 minutes until hardened more, so as to not end up with a flat side.
  • Preheat oven to 160C (325F) and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut dough in quarter inch thick slices (this is where I cut my shape out, because my log was not pretty...)
  • Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for around 20 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch.
  • It's really hard to tell when they are done, because they are so naturally dark.
  • Cool cookies, and prepare the filling. In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add milk and salt and continue beating until smooth again. Place about a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie and sandwich with a second. Repeat with remaining cookies and eat them all.... or try not too... 

Lou xoxo

Monday, 29 July 2013

Candy, Pecan & Chocolate Chip Cookies


It's been a busy week in our house. Josh has been SUPER busy prepping presentations and entries for young retailer awards, and will be spending the next 4 days in Auckland, whilst the kids are busy and I am working! We miss Josh while he's away, he doesn't go away often, so when he does, everyone misses their dad, and I miss my better half, even if it is only for 4 days. 

Over the weekend, my Mother-in-law (to be), has been unwell, and ended up in hospital overnight with a cough so bad shes ripped muscle/tendons (or something?) in her ribs just from coughing. She is an amazing woman, a surgical nurse at the hospital herself, mother to 8 kids and just generally lovely!

I have a new cookie dough in the oven for her as I write this, and the post will follow sometime soon. But first:

Bakerella has been sucking me in with her amazing, fun, happy looking recipes for weeks now, and the other day seemed like a perfect time for some fresh cookies, filled with M&M's, crushed pecans and more chocolate. 

I don't often use pecans, but man these were good. Pecans aren't that big a thing in New Zealand, and it cost me about $4.00 for the little bag from the supermarket, but that little bag had pretty much exactly the right amount in it for this recipe, so there ya go. And the crunch they gave to this recipe was perfect! That combined with M&M's and chocolate, what more could you possibly ask for!?
ANSWER: not much.

 I prefer the larger chocolate melts in these biscuits, just suits them to a tee!!


 You can see here I went with Signature Range Pecan Halves from Countdown, and this bag was just the right size!

And cookies

Sorry for the horrible pictures. One day I will get an awesome camera, until then... 
This is all ya get!

The biscuit on top was slightly over cooked, but still amazing. But as per my usual ideal, the undercooked cookies, were by far the best, the disappeared long before any others. Undercooked biscuits! Best. Thing. Ever!

I adapted this recipe slightly from Bakerella.

Serves 24 cookies.

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened (227g)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup M&M's
2 cups Nestle milk chocolate melts


  1. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.
  2. In a mixer, cream butter and sugars together for about two minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. On low, add flour mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Stir in chopped pecans, M&M's and chocolate melts.
  6. Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F (175C).
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Scoop cookie dough onto parchment paper and place 4cm apart (2in).
  10. Sprinkle tops with sea salt if desired (I didn't for these ones.)
  11. Bake for about 16 minutes or until lightly brown. If you make them a bit smaller, then bake for 12-14 minutes. 
  12. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and repeat with remaining cookie dough. 
  13. Enjoy!!! 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

11-Layer Rainbow Jelly

Is there anything more fun than jelly? I don't even think it is about the taste for me, but the total aesthetic quality of this fantastic substance. It is just filled with childlike nostalgia. I bet almost everyone could tell you their favourite flavour right off the top of their head.

For Mr. H's 1st birthday party last week. It was absurd to not serve jelly. But I wanted something different, something exciting, and something that was more than your usual. 

And I found it. In a fantastic post over at crafty c0rn3r. This tutorial was pretty easy to follow, with heaps of photos to help me along. 

Me and gelatin have a bad history together. Last time we met was over a raspberry sponge cake, that should have had a raspberry, gelatin infused filling. Alas, it did not, christmas day instead was greeted with a cheesecake, and gelatin and I went our seperate ways. This recipe/tutorial uses quite a bit of normal, unflavoured gelatin, which scared me. Adding extra to the jelly mix was easy enough with all the boiling water and what-not, but mixing it with condensed milk... (please don't freak out on me!)

Irrelevant to all this, it was super easy (although a little time consuming), and I succeeded most excellently with this recipe. I don't think I need to be as scared of gelatin as I have been... Maybe I will suck it up, be a brave girl and give something else a go while my ego is feeling good after this. 

How awesome are these!? I was so excited, and I am not bragging, but these were easily the favourite item of any at the party. And the party was MAINLY adults, only a couple of kids. I just think displaying jelly in a new and fun way is so worth it. I am so glad I took the time to make these and give them a go. 

They will be a regular at following parties for my kids, or so I am told by Miss. L, who is very disappointed these were not supplied at her previous parties (isn't it always surprising where the jealousy appears?)

6 normal size packets jelly, any flavours are fine (I just picked the most "boyish" colours)
4 1/4 Tablespoons unflavoured gelatin.**
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix your condensed milk with 1 3/4 cup really hot water (basically boiling)
Mix 1 1/4 Tablespoons gelatin with 1 1/4 cup boiling water.
Combine this with condensed milk, stir and set aside.

Combine your first layer of jelly with 1/2 Tablespoon of gelatin, and 1 1/2 cups boiling water. (this will create a firm enough jelly to stand like in the photos above. Cool your jelly a bit, then pour into a large dish. (I used 2 x 20 cm square baking trays, and it worked well). Place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until firm. While your jelly, make up your next colour using the same measurements (1/2 Tablespoon gelatin and 1 1/2 cups boiling water), as it will need time to cool before pouring on top. 

Once your first colour has set, pour enough milk mix on top that it covers, I didn't measure for this part, just eyeballed it, as in the linked tutorial.  Freeze again to set. 

Once milk mix has set and is firm you can add your second layer. 

If your milk mix starts to gel a bit while you are still using it, chuck it in the microwave for 15 seconds, just re-softens it all up, long enough to get you through.

BASICALLY, you are now going to alternate jelly and milk mix, freezing well between every layer, and making every packet of jelly exactly the same.

It is imperative that every layer is frozen seperately for about 15 minutes or until firm, or when you pour on your next layer it will just mix with the previous layer and will stop you from getting the lovely clear layers.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not leave in the freezer for any longer than needed, as if it freezes right through, upon defrosting it releases a lot of the liquid and sugar out of it, and it will not be salvageable.... please learn from my horrible mistake. Yeah, I lost one of my square baking trays worth to the freezer. LUCKILY, I had 2 and it worked out just fine!!

Once you have all 11 layers (6 of jelly, 5 of condensed milk), it will need to refrigerate as a whole overnight to really set in place, at least mine did. 

** (in the linked tutorial, they used KNOX gelatin which comes in envelopes, which we do not sell in our little town, and I purchased McKenzies gelatin, and figured out that each KNOX envelope is equal to 1/2 Tablespoon of gelatin)

I am sure I have forgotten something, and I am sorry I didn't get more images of the process, but as I say over at crafty c0rn3r, they have done a much better job and have all steps laid out. Big up's to them for a fantastic tutorial. Thank you!!

Talk soon,
Lou xoxo

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sick and Tired (and Vanilla cupcakes w/ chocolate buttercream frosting)

Not even a whingy post. 
I am genuinely sick. Like genuine article, snotty and gross, headaches and all sick. No fever, because I basically never do, which does somehow minimise the seriousness of my ailment. 
If this is all looking like gibberish, which is possible, I have become crazier and more over tired than I had originally imagined, and will delete this as soon as I have come to my senses.

The point is, I have been unwell, and lookingly lovingly over photos from Hartley's actual birthday day last week, kindly sent my way from a friend. 

Although we had his party over the weekend, his actual birthday was slightly quieter. Both kids managed to get ear infections, were both on antibiotics and tired and grumpy (much like myself at this particular moment).

Nevertheless, I made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate vanilla buttercream (and sprinkles!), stuck in a candle (that was kept out of his reach), and we opened some presents. 
I even made Dukan friendly chicken nuggets and roast vege chips for dinner, in hopes I would not succumb to the desire for a cupcake (successful btw).

The cupcake recipe was from Joy the Baker, and although they are overpriced in our little town, I bought good quality essence and vanilla pods.
The chocolate buttercream had ovaltine in it, taking away from it becoming too chocolatey (I don't know how this is possible, but I am told by the Lovely Fiance, it is very common).

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Makes 24 cupcakes

227g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup white sugar
4 Large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla essence
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Position a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius (350F). Line 2 cupcake pans with papers. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla essence and vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This may take 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as required. 
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. If the batter looks a little curdled, that is just fine!
With your mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mix and vanilla milk mix in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. When the batter is almost done, stop the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula, making sure any floury bits at the bottom are incorporated. ( I like doing this especially because it minimises the chances of over-mixing)
Divide into prepared cupcake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before placing on wire cooling racks.
Please be aware, this recipe seems prone to over cooking, there really is a fine line. One minute you have beautiful fluffy vanilla cakes, the next you have rock hard over cooked things that once resembled cakes (please note, they were still all eaten, just not till the next day).

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough for all 24 cupcakes or 1 x 8inch layer cake

170g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine or any malted milk powder

Cream together butter, cocoa and salt. It will be super thick. Turn off your mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and icing sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in icing sugar while adding milk and vanilla. As the sugar mixes in, raise the speed of your mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. 
In a 1 cup measuring cup, stir together cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mix into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you've reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream (but I did for mine). Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. SUPER YUM.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Big 1

We had such a fantastic weekend just been! Celebrating with our lovely family and friends, our little man (not so little anymore!) turning 1!
I actually found it all quite confronting. You see, we really do not plan to have anymore kids (not that I would be upset if we did), so this is most likely the last 1st birthday for my own child I will get to throw. Seems silly I know, but this means no more first years... It means hopefully more sleep, and a life with slightly more freedom as our kids grow and we become braver and begin to do things like travel and all that stuff that comes with having big kids.  But no more first years also means no more super cuddly new borns, no more first giggles, or the AMAZING womanly feeling that comes from giving birth.

Anyway, aside from my melancholy nature, this weekend was amazing. It was almost like he knew it was his day on Sunday morning, and the big grin you see on his face above, was pretty much plastered on his face all day long.
Almost as important (not really) as the birthday in general, is the birthday cake. And since we celebrated in the style of little monsters, seemed only fitting we celebrated with a furry, orange 3 eyed monster.
The cake was red velvet, the recipe from Bakerella, who I just love. I used the frosting recipe also, just tinged it orange using Americolor orange gel colour.
And it was DELICIOUS. I took a break from Dukan long enough to eat a piece of this, to celebrate!
Its been almost a month, I have lost 7.2kg, and I totally earnt a piece of cake.

This week, I will be posting all about the cool stuff we did for Hartley's birthday! Stay tuned for information galore, recipes and tips on dealing with a 1 year old who has just had an ear infection, head cold.

Lou xoxo

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Party is tomorrow!

In our house today we are prep, prep, prepping for a very special little boys first birthday party. Mr. Hartley turned one this past Monday, but we are celebrating tomorrow. Having been sick all week, both kids with ear infections, Hartley getting a head cold at the same time, I am really glad to see them both getting better now, to enjoy his special day tomorrow.

With big families, it's always nice to get together and celebrate the kids birthdays, and I always inevitably go overboard.

I have baked the cake, just need to decorate. I have baked the cookies, just need to decorate. And I am 8 layers into my 11 layer surprise jelly!

Truffles are in the fridge at mums, and my grandma is making cheese rolls.

It's going to be a lovely chance to catch up with everyone, get dressed up and take some cute pics of the kids. 

There will recipes galore, and cute photos as of tomorrow, so keep your eyes tuned into this channel.

For now, I am going to add layer 9 to the jelly and make some royal icing!!

Happy Birthday party eve, Little Monster!

Lou xoxo

Monday, 1 July 2013

Dukan Week 3

I have weighed in today, signed off on week 2 of the Dukan Diet. I never thought I would have the willpower to just give up pretty much every food I enjoy, but here I am... 4.7kg lighter! My skin is clearing up a wee bit, the waist is a bit smaller, my jeans are a wee bit baggier and for the first time in a long time, I feel quite empowered to be me.

I feel capable.

My aim is another 26 kg over the next 19 weeks, before wedding day, and then another 10-15kg after we get back from honeymoon, as I refuse to diet whilst away.

The first few days were horrible. I didn't know what to eat, I just wanted carbs, but now its becoming more normal, more stable and part of my daily routine.

For those of you who aren't aware of the Dukan Diet, it's worth a google. The idea is based around the idea that you eliminate basically all carbs, fat, sugar, starch, all the other stuff out of your diet, and after an initial attack week where you essentially only eat Pure Protein (meat, eggs and non-fat dairy), you alternate days of eating Pure Protein and Protein and Vegetables. Not all vegetables though, as things like peas, corn, potato, kumara are too high in sugar and starch to be allowed for now.

This seems restrictive, but once I hit my goal weight I will slowly reintroduce all food into my diet, with celebration meals, daily servings of fruit, wheat and all that.
This very restrictive section is designed purely for weightloss, and its working.

Talk tomorrow