Friday, 30 August 2013

A truly yummy Vanilla Cupcake

Our last Friday of Winter, woohoo!!!  I was so excited to see some sun shining in through our windows yesterday! I wouldn't go quite as far as to say that Spring is in the air but the mere sight of the sun inspired me to make some Spring theme cupcakes.

Usually I'm not happy with my cupcakes because the end product is always too dense and lacking flavour.  I have tried many recipes but this one is my favourite. It is light and fluffy with the most incredible vanilla flavour.  Thanks to
Vanilla Cupcakes
(makes approx. 24 cakes) 
200g butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (370g) caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 eggs
2 3/4 cups (405g) self-raising flour
1 cup (250ml) milk

Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line 24 1/3 cup (80ml) muffin pans with patty cases.

Step 2
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Step 3
Spoon mixture evenly among the patty cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting I used my own go-to-recipe for an American Buttercream. When I'm decorating cakes for children I prefer this style of buttercream over egg based recipes such as French or Italian recipes.  When I'm piping I prefer to use a stiffer consistency but this recipe is very versatile. By altering the amount of milk, you can adjust the consistency to your preference.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup or 226 grams of unsalted butter (soft)
3 - 4 cups of icing sugar sifted
1/2 - 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (adjust to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Up to 4 tablespoons of milk (adjust to desired consistency)
Beat the butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer on medium (approx. 2 minutes).
Reduce the speed to low and add 3 cups of the sifted icing sugar.
Add the vanilla extract, salt and 2 tablespoons of the milk.
Once incorporated increase the speed back to medium. Beat for 3 minutes.
Adjust consistency with extra milk or icing sugar.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Good Neighbour is a Found Treasure!!

When we moved to Melbourne from Sydney last year, we left behind family and lots of beautiful, dear and treasured friends. We knew there would be opportunities for more friendships and we have been blessed to find some real gems right next door. We are so grateful for their friendship and the support they have given us while we settle into a new city!

When the opportunity came up for me to help with their daughters birthday party I was more than happy to help create some themed birthday items for the day. I love kids parties and thought I would share some elements of the day.

I made a lovely buttercake and iced it with fondant.
Lots of the guests didn't realise it was even a cake!!

Not a great photo but iphones have their limitations.

The theme was an Afternoon Tea so some teacup and teapot
cookies fit right in.

The pink, black and white theme was elegant and sophisticated as well as fun.

The Birthday Girl also loves shoes and you can never have too many cookies!!!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Leaves and Roots

I love to try something new and when I read on a fellow bloggers post last week about an old English favourite, Dandelion & Burdoch soda, it sparked my interest and I set about trying to find it. I eventually discovered it in a little shop that stocks imported goods such as Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Hershey's chocolate, etc.

Who would have thought that a couple of weeds could produce such a unique drink. Prior to opening it I didn't know what to expect. My first surprise was that it was black, like cola! The flavour evoked a true sense of old world.

Prior to it being developed into a soft drink, it was consumed as a light mead in the middle ages. I could imagine this very herbal concoction being brewed in houses all those years ago.

I didn't mind it but I can't say I enjoyed it. I think it is probably like our Vegemite, quite an acquired taste! I am however very happy to have tried Dandelion & Burdoch soda. If you get the chance, give it a go!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Spring Hasn't Sprung in Melbourne!!

It doesn't feel much like Spring today here in Melbourne.
With a top temperature of just 13 degrees, a grey sky and rain, the daffodils I bought today for the Cancer Council Daffodil Day fundraiser are providing a little ray of sunshine.
We remember today those we have lost to Cancer and pray for the day when we might live in a Cancer Free world!!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Peanut Butter for Everyone!!

Everyone in our family loves Peanut Butter (including our dog, Nelson)! So today I thought it only fair to bake something for everyone, human family as well as pet family. The lovely smell of Peanut Butter fills our house! 

My only regret is that I didn't have a doggie bone cookie cutter and really hope hubby doesn't come in late tonight and eat the biscuits intended for the dog (although they won't kill him!)

First Something for Nelson

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
found on Use Real Butter, she got the recipe from Dessert First
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin purée, canned or fresh
3 tbsps peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4)
Place all ingredients in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium for about a minute or until the dough looks like a bunch of little dough balls. If you pinch a piece and it crumbles, add a little water. If it’s really sticky, it’s too wet and you’ll need to add a little flour.
Gather the dough together and form into a ball. Place on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thickness. You can either use a cookie cutter to cut out cute shapes or use a knife to cut squares or strips. I am pretty sure the dog doesn’t care, but I rather prefer the cute shapes. I gather the scraps together and roll them out again and again until I’ve used up the dough. Place the cookies on a baking sheet. They can be crowded pretty close together since they don’t expand much.
Bake 15-20 minutes for softer treats or 30 minutes for hard treats. Let cool completely. Makes 100+ 1-inch star-shaped dog treats.
 Now Something for Hubby and Kids:
WARNING: You absolutely cannot stop at one!
These are divine, crunchy, crumbly and simply melt in your mouth. I thought the addition of the lemon was a bit peculiar but it only enhances the overall flavour of the cookie.
Peanut Butter Crinkles
Thank you Greenthumb for providing the inspiration.
125g (4ozs) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (70g/2.5ozs) sugar
1/3 cup (70g/2.5ozs) brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup (100g/3.5ozs) peanut butter
1 1/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180°C  (350°F/Gas 4).  
Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla, lemon rind and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Add sifted flour, soda and salt and mix until a stiff dough forms.
Shape heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls with floured hands, place on a lined oven tray allowing room to spread slightly.  Press biscuits down lightly with a fork, first crosswise then lengthwise, for a crinkled effect.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on tray.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Furry Member of our Family

I wanted one of my first posts to b about our cherished 12 1/2 year old golden Labrador, Nelson. He is a beautiful family pet who has brought us so much joy throughout his life.

Our move from Sydney to Melbourne was hard on him but he has adjusted really well. Like me, we are yearning for longer, warmer days when we can enjoy more outside time and leisurely walks. The thing he loves most (beside dinner, of course) is being around us and snuggling in his bed.

I am currently looking for some lovely homemade recipes for his meals to support him in his senior years. I would love to be able to extend my passion for cooking for my family to include Nelson's dinners.

We love you Nelsie!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 3 August 2013


Picked up this wonderful product last week. I've wanted it ever since I saw Willie's Chocolate series a few years ago. Now I just need a recipe ....choccy mousse sounds good!

My gorgeous "superstar" daughter was no.11 in her school basketball team at a regional round robin tournament. Turns out it was her lucky number, they won 4 of their 5 games.

My family bought this book titled "Universal Self Instructor" at a deceased estate auction for the Piggott family. It was presented to George Piggott on 12 November 1883!!

Autumn leaves brightly coloured and ready to fall


The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology facade. The outer skin incorporates automated sun shading. The disks have been designed that they can be converted to solar panels and could one day power the whole building.

The kids and resurrected the old Times Table Bingo. A bit young for them now but good practice!

Melbourne's public bike share scheme - docking stations 500 meters apart and spread across Melbourne Central (funded by the government).

Melbourne Botanic Gardens - very grand

Cupcakes always make us smile, especially these made by the kids and I.

My beautiful Mum bought this delightful umbrella for my daughter. It's a lovely reminder of days gone by!

This stunning table in the National Gallery of Victoria has very artistic and gorgeous feet. Much nicer than a photo of my feet!

I have really enjoyed the challenge this month. It was nice to participate instead of just admiring everyone else. I really hope my blog works and that I get better and more creative. Need to get a camera other than my iPhone for more creative capacity. Thank you for organizing Made With Love!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad