Monday, 2 March 2015

Crocheted Baby Blanket

I haven't done any baking lately, but I wanted to quickly pop over and share one of my latest projects. It's a crocheted baby blanket for someone close to us.

It's not 100% complete as I may make it bigger as time goes on, if possible, but for now I'm happy with it. This will be published as a free pattern, something I haven't done in a while. So watch this space.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Savoury Swirls

Mrs U Makes...Savoury Swirls

As much as I love home baked goodies, nothing gets my mouth watering or my taste buds buzzing like a savoury snack. Given the choice I'd pick savoury over sweet any day, on the odd occasion that we eat out at a restaurant I will always order a starter.

This week I've been hankering for something savoury, something that I could eat with one hand whilst walking around the house carrying out daily chores (apart from cleaning the bathroom).

Three of my favourite ingredients in the whole universe are garlic, basil, and mozzarella. Combined with tomatoes, they make a perfect marriage and I definitely wanted them in whatever snack I was going to make.

After some deep contemplation, the idea for these Savoury Swirls came about. Now they aren't the prettiest handheld treat but they are tasty. The first batch I made was placed on a baking sheet and within a few minutes I could see melting cheese pouring over the side of the sheet. When I took the baking sheet out, the swirls were sitting in a pool of cheese.

Now I don't mind this one bit, to me melted cheese is a thing of beauty. However, if you don't want your swirls to be swimming in cheese, I would suggest placing them in a bun or shallow cupcake tray. If like me you'd love a cheesy pool, use a baking tray so that non of the cheese falls into the oven. I also packed my puff pastry with chunky slices of cheese, you can use fewer ingredients if you prefer.

So here's what you'll need:

Olive Oil
Garlic (however many cloves you like), chopped
6 small tomatoes, chopped
Fresh basil, to taste
2 puff pastry sheets
approx. 500g mozzarella cheese
approx. 230g sliced sandwich meat
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you'll need to do: makes approx 36

1. Heat a little oil in a pan and then add the garlic and cook for a couple of  minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil and season. Cook on a low to medium heat until the tomatoes are very soft and any liquid has been reduced. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

2. Open one puff pastry sheet and spread half of the tomatoes over it.

3. Slice the mozzarella and place one quarter on top of the tomatoes (leave the top edge free), then layer with half of the sandwich meat, Place another quarter of the cheese on top of the meat and then top with half of the spinach.

4. Carefully roll up the pastry sheet, using you fingers to pack in the filling ingredients if they come over the top edge.

5. Wrap in parchment paper or cling film and place in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. Repeat steps 1-5 with the other puff pastry sheet.

6. Slice the pastry log approx 1-2 cm thick (your preference) and place on a greased or lined baking sheet/tray or in a bun/cupcake tray. Tighten any swirls that are loose. Spray or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.

                           Swirls on baking sheet                        Swirls in cup cake tray

7. Bake in the oven at 200*C for 15-18 minutes

Eat and enjoy hot or cold.

Mrs U Makes... Savoury Swirls

Friday, 20 February 2015

Triple Chocolate Bark

With the half term holidays drawing to an end, I've decided to take the Tripolatas to the Natural History Museum. When planning what to pack in their lunch bags, I wanted to add something that was a real treat.

They've been asking to make something with chocolate for some time and not wanting to have a full on baking session I opted for a no bake treat. This came in the form of Triple Chocolate Bark, made with white, milk and dark chocolate.

When we made this the Tripolatas were a little confused about why I was adding their cereal to chocolate and weren't happy at the fact that I wouldn't let them eat the Party Ring biscuits until we'd finished making the bark.

This is one of the simplest things that you can whip up and there's no end to what you can throw on top.

My Triple Chocolate Bark was quite thick, so if you want a thinner one, use approx. half of each chocolate.

Here's what you'll need:

150g each of white, milk and dark chocolate
Pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
Party Ring biscuits, broken in pieces
Cereal hoops (or Mouse as my boys call it because we buy the supermarket's version of that well known cereal brand, which has a mouse on the front of the box)
Fudge pieces

Here's what you'll need to do:

1. Melt the chocolates in separate bowls and (one by one) pour into a silicone or lined baking dish.


2. Top with the topping ingredients and then place in the refrigerator until set.


3. Take out of the fridge and cut into random pieces.

Eat and enjoy 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Great British Biscuits: Fruit Shortcake Biscuits

When it comes to biscuits I personally shy away from the store bought ones preferring to eat those that are home-made. However, when it comes to the tripolatas I will at times buy biscuits when I haven't had a chance to bake any. Even then, I'm weary about what to buy as I don't always know exactly what's inside them and imagine that they may not be great quality.

I can spend a few minutes in the biscuit isle trying to decide which to buy and I've realised that my choices all have a theme, they're all classic British biscuits. I'd eaten all of them as a child and was now giving them to my own children, so why not learn to make them myself and give my boys a classic treat that I know has been well made.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Getting My Knitting Pattern Tested

As stated in the last post about Ijeoma, the pattern is currently being tested. The test is due to end at the end of March so the pattern should be available then. One of my testers has already finished working on the pattern and I'm eagerly waiting to see pictures of the completed ruana.

I'm so glad to have been able to have the pattern tested in this way. So far my testers have highlighted areas of the pattern that needed improvement, which I have done. They've also spotted a slight mistake in the instructions and made other suggestions.

I would encourage every knitting or crochet designer to have their patterns tested. No matter how many times you proof read your pattern, there will always be something that someone else spots or improvement that can be made.
The problem with pattern testing is that for designers like myself who are independent and just starting out, hiring testers isn't an option with our limited financial resources.

That's one reason why I love Ravelry's Pattern Testers Group. First and foremost it's free, you don't have to pay to test a pattern or have a pattern tested. For a designer this means knowing that your design works and getting immediate feedback. For testers it means getting new patterns before they are available to anyone else.

The other great thing about this group is the fact that it is moderated and there are rules and regulations that both designers and testers must follow. You also set the boundaries of your test, such as how many people you want, the time frame, the specific feedback you require and so on.

There may be other free testing sites out there but this is the one that I will stick with for my future designs.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Pancakes Three Ways

With Shrove Tuesday fast approaching many people are preparing for Lent, filling up on the things that they will be giving up. Though I'm Christian I've never observed Lent as it's not a biblical requirement, however, I try to fast occasionally throughout the year.

This time of year is probably one of the most important in the Christian calender as we reflect on the sacrifice that Christ made for the world. For many Lent is a time for them to reflect on their own lives, and giving up their favourite treats is one of the ways in which they do this.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Berrylicious Oat Bars

Berrylicious Oat Bars by Mrs U Makes

After the success of the Coconut and Jam Roly Poly Biscuits, the tripolatas have been expecting more baked goodies. It's usually the first thing they ask me when I pick them up from school.

Knowing that I would eventually have to present something to them, I looked for some inspiration. I wanted something that was relatively healthy and required little effort, so cakes and biscuits were out of the question.

I considered making another Fruit Drops recipe, but kids being kids I didn't want to risk them getting bored. So I went in between, a fruity bar that had to be baked.