Snapshots from my week

Happy Friday, friends! Who else is breaking up for Christmas today? We’re having a Christmas fuddle at work (I’ve made chocolate chunk cookies and some goats cheese, rosemary, potato and red onion bread).

Last Friday we went for our work Christmas meal, at Saltwater in Nottingham. It was an odd time for a three course meal – 3.30pm – and the restaurant had so many christmas groups booked in that they started hassling us to leave at 5.10! I know that Christmas is a really busy time for restaurants, but in my opinion they seriously need to consider quality over quantity so that customers don’t steer clear of them the other 11 months of the year. On the basis of the food and service I had at Saltwater I certainly won’t return.

Food wise, I had goat’s cheese and onion on brioche – this was tasty (goat’s cheese is!) but soggy, having clearly been made way in advance. For a main I had nut roast, which was quite nice and stuffing-y, and for dessert I had tiramisu with chocolate sauce (a bit odd!) which was inedibly bad.

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On the plus side I won an award for providing the best home baked treats for the office! How nice! Then we drank lots of cocktails, then more cocktails, before I got the bus home at 11 for tea and toast and NO HANGOVER THE NEXT DAY! Amazing!

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On Saturday we headed out for a Christmassy day in Nottingham. We visited Nottingham Castle, which was having a free entry day (it’s normally a few pounds to get in), met up with Lee’s mum and brother and enjoyed some lunch at the Hungry Pumpkin, and went to the Christmas Carol service at Green’s Windmill.

 I also made a BUMPER batch of my perfect chocolate chunk cookie dough ready for this week’s fuddles. I let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before portioning it up and rolling into balls and freezing them. Cookies tend to be thick and even when they cook from frozen, plus doing it at the weekend freed up my time on Thursday night. BUT there was so much cookie dough that my favourite spatula broke!

 

 Some of these cookies are also becoming Christmas gifts – wrapped up in a pretty snowflake gift bag from Lakeland.

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 In the evenings this week there’s been quite a bit of present wrapping, card writing and planning for Christmas! How are you getting on with your preparations? 

 

What are you up to this weekend? I’m baking Christmas treats, attending Christmas parties, and having a Christmas dinner with Lee since we won’t be together on actual Christmas…… I may be in danger of getting Christmassed out HAHA JUST KIDDING.

 

x Kerry

 

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Stop what you’re doing and look at this! Christmas 2014 edition

It’s Christmas – time to bake! Are you making any food gifts or delicious stuff to eat at home this year? If you need inspiration, go check out Annie’s Eats Holiday Baking Gift Guide. She has impeccable taste and her recipes are always awesome.  

This guy walked around London knocking on doors and asking if he could stay the night. Really interesting, thought provoking reading, especially at this time of year. 

I LOVE these Christmas Pudding Cupcakes from Bakearama, but most especially the fact that they don’t taste like Christmas pudding!

If you love dogs or hilarity, you must look at this! My favourite is number three

Kevin and Amanda hosted a hot chocolate cookie swap party and omg you must check this out!  Trust me. 

 I LOVE these homemade salt-dough Christmas decorations – you’ll be able to keep them for years and years! 

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Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

These decadent and delicious Snickerdoodle Cupcakes are just perfect for the festive season! They taste exactly like a Cinnamon Roll – in cupcake form! And they’re so easy to make too.

 

 

Snickerdoodles are a deliciously buttery type of cookie baked with plenty of cinnamon sugar for a perfect festive treat! These Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes are the cupcake version of that biscuit! The cupcake batter is layered with cinnamon-sugar, so that they really do taste like a cross between a snickerdoodle cookie and a freshly baked cinnamon roll – with a whole lot less effort of course!

The great news about these cupcakes is that they’re made from all the same stuff you’ll have in your fridge and cupboard at this time of year! Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon, vanilla and milk. The cupcakes are also enriched with greek yoghurt to keep them moist and flavoursome. The cinnamon-sugar frosting is a gorgeous buttercream with butter, sugar, cinnamon and some double cream. No dash to the shops for special ingredients required!

Having said that, if you don’t go through lots of cinnamon like me, it’s worth checking that yours is still in date! It’s really worth having the freshest ground cinnamon you can to make delicious desserts with! You might have noticed that I’m a huge fan of cinnamon. It’s not a coincidence that next week’s festive recipe is also loaded with cinnamon (okay it’s homemade cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting!) – it’s just the smell and taste of Christmas!

These cupcakes are a great example of a really impressive festive dessert that is secretly super easy. I took these along to our festive themed Cake Club, and they disappeared in record time and were raved about! People really love the layers of cinnamon gooeyness baked right into the cupcakes! Don’t worry, it’s super easy to do – we just layer up our cupcake cases with two tablespoons of cake batter, followed by cinnamon sugar, then more cake batter, then more cinnamon sugar! The smell of these cupcakes baking on a frosty afternoon is better than any scented candle, trust me!

To frost the cupcakes, I used a disposable piping bag (I just find them so much easier!) fitted with a Wilton1M tip – which gives you gorgeously swirly frosting! If you don’t want to pipe them, that’s fine too! Simply dollop a couple of tablespoons of frosting onto each cupcake and use a knife to smooth it out on top. Dust with a little fresh cinnamon, and add some edible glitter if you’d like too (it is Christmas!).

Oh, and I made some cute christmas trees using some green candy melts too. They’re totally optional, but if you’d like to make some, you can get candy melts from Lakeland or online (or cake decorating shops if you have one near you). Just melt about 100g in the microwave then add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Spoon into a piping bag or sandwich bag, and pipe Christmas tree shapes onto parchment or non stick baking paper. Leave to cool and harden, then use to decorate your cupcakes!

PS I have no idea why a snickerdoodle is called a snickerdoodle… do you? But I’m guessing we can agree that it’s about the cutest name for a cookie ever?!

Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
Yields 12
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
581 calories
78 g
93 g
29 g
4 g
18 g
142 g
85 g
60 g
1 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
142g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 581
Calories from Fat 256
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 29g
45%
Saturated Fat 18g
91%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 93mg
31%
Sodium 85mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 78g
26%
Dietary Fiber 2g
7%
Sugars 60g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
19%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
7%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the cupcakes
  1. 250g / 2 cups plain flour
  2. half tsp baking powder
  3. half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  4. large pinch salt
  5. 250g / 1 cup plus 1 heaped tablespoon golden caster sugar
  6. 115g / 1 stick unsalted butter
  7. 60g / quarter cup greek yoghurt
  8. 1 large free range egg
  9. 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  10. 180ml / 3/4 cup milk
  11. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cinnamon sugar
  1. 100g golden caster sugar
  2. 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
For the frosting
  1. 250g / 2 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 360g / 3 cups icing sugar
  3. 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  4. 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  5. 60ml / 1/4 cup double cream
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/gas mark 4/350F and prepare a 12 hole cupcake tray by lining it with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, measure your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Give the whole bowl a vigorous whisk (yes, with a whisk!). This will aerate the mixture and eliminate any lumps!
  3. In another bowl (sorry!), melt your butter completely in the microwave and stir in the 250g of golden caster sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla bean paste, greek yoghurt and milk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring lightly until just combined.
  4. Combine the 100g caster sugar with 2 tbsp cinnamon to make your cinnamon sugar.
  5. Dollop 2 tbsp of cupcake batter into the bottom of each cupcake case, and top it with 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Repeat, putting 2 tbsp of batter atop the sugar in each case, then topping with more cinnamon sugar. Pop the cupcakes into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting
  1. Beat your very soft butter with an electric hand or stand mixer, for 2-4 minutes, until very fluffy. Slowly add in 340g of icing sugar, plus the cinnamon, pinch of salt, double cream and vanilla. Beat vigorously for another 2 minutes and taste - it may need more icing sugar if it's too runny.
  2. Once you're happy with the consistenty of the frosting, scoop it into your piping bag and frost your cupcakes! Dust with more cinnamon and/or glitter.
Adapted from Betty Crocker
beta
calories
581
fat
29g
protein
4g
carbs
78g
more
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
 

 

 If you use clear white cupcake cases, you’ll be able to see the lovely cinnamon sugar layers too! I hope you love these!

 

 

 x Kerry

 

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Snapshots from my weeks

Happy Friday, friends! How has your week been?

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These are the last couple of weeks photos since I shared my Christmas Dinner with Lidl instead last week. Last weekend I made some delicious Snickerdoodle (cinnamon) cupcakes for Cake Club! I’m sharing them with you on Monday – hurrah! They were really delicious – they tasted exactly like a cinnamon roll in cupcake form!

At Cake Club I had some delicious cakes! Jordan made a lemon meringue pie which was amazing, and I also sampled a pistachio and cranberry cake made with ground almonds instead of flour that was absolutely delicious too!

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That day we also went to Missoula Montana for brunch. They are an American style restaurant and the menu had some interesting options – like red velvet waffles! Sadly they weren’t very red and they weren’t very velvety – it was just a vanilla waffle with some fruit on it (and it didn’t taste homemade). I am very disappointed. Would it be considered excessive to buy a waffle maker so I can make my own?

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At the weekend I spied a new cafe that’s opened in Nottingham – Ugly Bread Bakery! They sell bread, sandwiches, and pizzas too! I went for lunch on tuesday with Erin and it’s an excellent spot for people watching! 

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We tried the ricotta and spinach pizza and the nutella and strawberry pizza. I ate a lot of pizza that day! They were really tasty, though not amazing. But really, you can’t say no to a nutella pizza can you?! They were also selling this 3KG tub of nutella! Oh my days.

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 It’s been really chilly in Nottingham this week – look at the frosty rooftops! I’ve been wrapping up warm but I haven’t been cycling – my bike has a puncture! I need to fix it this weekend, but I’m not really looking forward to cycling in the cold! Although the idea of it is far worse than the actuality.  

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On Wednesday my mum came to visit for the day and we went to the Royal Concert Hall to see jazz/soul singer Gregory Porter perform. His voice is so amazing!

We went into Nottingham for a bit of Christmas shopping first, and enjoyed some pizza at Das Kino! It is THE most delicious pizza – trust me, I eat a lot of pizza! If you’re in or close to Nottingham, you MUST go. And they give away a free pizza a week on their twitter, so tweet them and you might win one!

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Today marks a whole year since we lost our amazing cat Marty.  It feels so strange to have been without him for a whole year now. We miss him so much.

 

What are you up to this weekend? After a whole week of being sick, I’m hopefully going to convince Lee to leave the house for a festive day!

 

x Kerry

 

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Review: The Malt Cross, Nottingham

 This isn’t a sponsored post, but I was invited to enjoy a meal as a guest of the Malt Cross. As always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for reading!

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited to enjoy a meal at the recently refurbished Malt Cross Music Hall in central Nottingham. I’ve been a fan of the Malt Cross ever since I came to live in Nottingham eleven years ago, it’s a truly special place – a restored Victorian Music Hall (one of the few still in use in the country), that is now a beautiful place to hang out, enjoy tea and cake, and tasty food. 

Just look at that gorgeous vaulted……. or round? Ceiling!

In the past, the Malt Cross had a fairly extensive menu, including the popular veggie big orange burger (it was beany with sweet potato and cheese and quite delicious). The new Malt Cross has a far more streamlined food offering, focusing on smoked meats that are smoked in-house (which I find impressive despite being a veggie!), including beef brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken.  For veggies, there’s a beetroot burger and a portobello mushroom and halloumi sandwich. 

We visited on a Thursday evening after work and I was really pleased to see that the Malt Cross is looking absolutely beautiful after the £1.4m refit. I haven’t yet seen any of the newly opened up floors or historic caves, but bar and seating area’s are looking lovely, especially the antique glass floor tiles, once operated by gas burners, that are now home to colour changing LED lights! 

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We picked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc ‘The Cloud Factory’ to drink, a really delicious white wine. Wines range from £14.50 to £18 for a bottle which isn’t too bad, and there’s also a wide range of ciders and beers, with quite a few European options. 

Food wise, we each went for the beet burger, billed as ‘the perfect mix of beetroot, rice, garlic, and onion’. When you order you do so on a cool pad where you tick your options and then your toppings / sides etc. I tried not to get too carried away with toppings so just went for some coleslaw on a split white roll. Side wise, I went for rosemary baked potato wedges, and Lee had skinny fries. 

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Sadly I don’t think the beet burger has yet been perfected! It was very sloppy and wet, and pretty inedible. Lucky that the rosemary potato wedges were about the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten! Oddly, I wouldn’t let this put me off recommending you head to the Malt Cross (unless you were planning to order the beet burger!); it’s obvious that their focus is now on the smoked meats which I’m sure are very tasty. I hope they work out the kinks with the veggie burger though so I can eat there!

One thing that I’ve always appreciated about the Malt Cross is how lovely and friendly their staff are; it’s a truly relaxed and nice place to spend an evening. One special thing about the Malt Cross is that it’s run as a charitable organisation by the Malt Cross charity – any profits go back into making Nottingham a better place, either through running the Malt Cross, or through the Street Pastors scheme (teams of volunteers out in the city on friday and saturday nights helping drunken people in a vulnerable state). To my mind, that (and the stunning building) makes it a place worth supporting above the other chain pubs and bars on offer in the city.

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I love, and have always loved, the Malt Cross, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I’ll definitely be back to enjoy tea and cake (great news for us daring after work tea drinkers – hot drinks are now served until ten rather than the paltry six they offered before)! Hopefully in time they’ll work out the kinks in their veggie offering as I would love to have it in my regular roster for after-work food. I will also be trying their Eggs Benedict from their new breakfast menu (though I can’t quite believe they missed the chance to offer a stack of blueberry pancakes!).

I do think that there’s a gap in the Malt Cross menu now that it’s so slick and streamlined, for something snacky such as hummus and pitta, for people who want something small to tide them over rather than a full meal. At the moment the only light or snack option is cake, and while I’m not complaining… something a bit healthier would be good!

By the way, the shop at the side of the Malt Cross is home to a Handmade Nottingham pop up shop until the end of this year. It’s full of cute cards, pretty jewellery and cool homeware and accessories, so pop in while you can! 

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See the black cat brooch above? It’s one of my Christmas presents from Lee! (I help him out by telling him what I want). It’s by hello sunshine – check her stuff out, it’s super cute and you can buy it online and get it shipped worldwide.

How appropriate is this card for me? (sensing a theme developing anyone?)

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So, see you at the Malt Cross for tea and cake?

 

x Kerry

 

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Easy Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

Excellent news! I finally took the plunge and tried out this whole making your own marshmallows at home malarky and not only is it easy (!), the results are amazing!

I was intimidated by the idea of making marshamallows for a really long time. It seemed so complicated, finnickity and doomed to possible failure. What did I think would happen? Well, that the recipe somehow wouldn’t work for me, and that the marshmallows would be an unworkable sticky mess. I can reassure you that didn’t happen and now I’m left wondering why I didn’t try them sooner!

We used these marshmallows to make s’mores by grilling them and sandwiching them between two digestive biscuits with a few squares of melted dairy milk. Messy, but super delicious!

These easy homemade vanilla bean marshallows tasted like gooey, delicious ice cream in marshmallow form. I can’t even compare them to a marshmallow from a bag because there’s literally no comparison – it’s like the difference between an artisan loaf of sourdough and a slice of stale cheap white bread. You HAVE to try these!

If you’re intimidated by the thought of having a go at making marshmallows too, let me reassure you – it’s so easy! In fact, there’s only FOUR ingredients involved! Sugar, water, gelatine and vanilla. One thing you absolutely will need though is a stand mixer – don’t attempt to make these by hand, or even with a hand held mixer, as you’ll need to set the mixer to run for at least 15 minutes.

The gelatine is combined with water to soften, and then sugar and more water is boiled gently for fifteen – twenty minutes until it becomes a thick sugar syrup. The syrup is added to the gelatine mix slowly, and magically before your eyes, the mixture is transformed into beautiful billowing clouds of marshmallow! The mixture is spread into a tin coated with icing sugar and cornflour and left to cure, before being turned out and cut into squares.

You really do need a good quality vanilla, and lots of it, in this recipe, or the marshmallows can tend to taste strongly of sugar (well, there is an awful lot in there!). Some other great additions to these marshmallows would be some salted caramel sauce, melted chocolate to make chocolate marshmallows, or a bit of rum!

You don’t need to cut these marshmallows into squares – you can use a cookie cutter to cut them into any shape you want!

Just a note – as a non meat eater I did attempt to make marshmallows using a vegan gelatine substitute, but I quickly realised that it was absolutely not going to work.  Some more research showed that veggie marshmallows are a very tricky proposition, although you can buy them from specialist companies online.

Easy Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Yields 18
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
114 calories
27 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
0 g
44 g
1 g
26 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
44g
Yields
18
Amount Per Serving
Calories 114
Calories from Fat 7
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 27g
9%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 26g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 7g sachets powdered gelatine, I used Dr Oetker
  2. 100ml water
  3. 450g caster sugar
  4. 175ml water
  5. 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  6. 2 tbsp icing sugar
  7. 2 tbsp corn flour
  8. 2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
For the sugar syrup
  1. In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, combine the 450g caster sugar with the 175ml water. Bring to a vigorous boil, stirring frequently until all the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Once no sugar grains are visible, reduce the heat slightly and allow to continue bubbling away for 15-20 minutes, or until a sugar thermometer reads 113C/235F.The mixture will be very hot, so ensure it doesn't get anywhere near you!
  3. Transfer the hot mixture into a large jug, to make it easier to pour into your mixer (be very careful!). Meanwhile, combine the sachets of gelatine with the 100ml water in the bowl of the mixer.
  4. Turn the mixer on high and begin to carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl, ensuring it goes in along the side only, not into the middle. Gradually add it all in, and then add the two tablespoons of vanilla bean paste.
  5. Increase the blending speed to maximum, and continue to mix for around 20 minutes. The mixture will resemble a very thick meringue, but don't worry - it will set once it goes into the tin!
  6. While the marshmallow mix is blending, grease a 8 x 8 inch tin with the vegetable oil and then sieve in the mixture of icing sugar and corn flour so that it thoroughly covers the bottom and sides of the tin. With the aide of a spatula, pour the marshmallow mix into the tin and level off the top before dusting it with a little more icing sugar and corn flour. Leave at room temperature for 2 hours, or overnight to set.
  7. Once you're ready to cut, loosen the marshmallow slab and turn it out onto a work surface dusted with icing sugar and corn flour. Cut into around 18 large generous squares, coating each one in more of the icing sugar / corn flour mixutre.
  8. To make chocolate dipped marshmallows, melt about 200g of your chosen chocolate and dip half of each marshmallow diagonally in the chocolate before setting to dry on some parchment paper. Finish with chopped nuts or seasonal sprinkles.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to four weeks.
In the mixer
Adapted from BBC Food
beta
calories
114
fat
1g
protein
0g
carbs
27g
more
Adapted from BBC Food
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows - so SIMPLE and easy! Can't believe I didn't make them before

I used Lakeland’s delicious dark chocolate to top my marshmallows with, and the snowflake gift bags to package some up to give as gifts.

Please make these – once you realise yourself just how easy it is, you’ll be making marshmallows at every opportunity! Might I suggest salted caramel first?

 

x Kerry

 

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Christmas Dinner with Lidl

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This is a sponsored post brought to you with Lidl. As ever, all opinions are my own. Thank you so much for supporting Kerry Cooks!

It’s finally December so that means that us Christmas-lovers can cover everything in tinsel and fairy lights and the naysayers can’t say a single thing about it! There are at least fifteen sets of fairy lights on the go in my house right now (no joke, the local fire brigaide are probably parked outside as we speak!), and it all looks so pretty! I’ve been sitting on the sofa in my fairy-light covered lounge browsing Christmas recipes – I especially love the Sandy Claws pie (everyone loves the nightmare before christmas) and the giant chocolate reindeer cookie.

I’m really happy to be teaming up with Lidl once again to show you some seasonal shortcuts to a delicious and inexpensive (but not cheap) Christmas meal. Inexpensive but not cheap is Lidl’s whole philosophy and I love it because its kind of mine too! Like I’ve never understood why people sometimes prefer to spend more money than they have to just because a certain product is a brand they know. Sure, but is it better? I love baking, but I tend to use the least expensive chocolate / butter / cream cheese I can (as long as it gives the same or a better result!) rather than go around spending all my pounds on expensive ingredients just for the brand name. If it does a better job, I’ll switch, but if the results are the same….. I’ll keep my pennies to spend on other things!

By the way, have you seen this #LidlSurprises adverts? I love the look on the little girls face when she gets the gingerbread house! I think it’s such a clever marketing campaign too (as a fellow marketeer – marketing is my day job!). They’re also using tweets and facebook posts from fans on social media to provide messages for their marketing, and they picked one of my tweets (raving about their ridiculously good goat’s cheese again!) to use! I was super excited. My local Lidl is now packed of a Saturday morning so I guess its working, although it does make it somewhat harder for me to reach the goat’s cheese (seriously get some).

Most of my picks are from the deluxe range, which is across chilled, frozen and treats. There’s also the favorina range featuring everything that you might sample at a European food market at Christmas, from stollen and gingerbread to chocolates and spiced biscuits. The products I’m featured are while stocks last (so get there fast!) and prices may vary by store.

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My Christmas dinner: (by the way, these are all available as long as stocks last)

  • Mediterranean sharing platters with olives, stuffed vine leaves, smoked salmon, prosciutto and feta
  • Three fish roast with all the trimmings
  • Tiramisu, plus honey roast pecans, baklava and mince pies to snack on later!
  • ALL THE CHEESE!
  • Plus a delicious Barolo and Champagne Premier Cru Brut

I personally don’t see the point of a starter at Christmas dinner – a few things to nibble on are much more my speed! Why give yourself more work to do and dishes to prepare?

Plus we need to save all our hunger and anticipation for the main event – Christmas dinner!

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 I went for the Three Fish Roast since I don’t eat meat. Haddock, cod and salmon in a delicious white sauce with a breadcrumb topping. Soo easy and delicious too! I served this with roast potatoes and maple roast baby carrots.

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 To me, what’s more interesting than the formal dessert (in this case ridiculously easy ready-made tiramisu and creme brulee) are the yummy picky bits for when you actually feel peckish again. Mince pies, honey roast nuts, baklava are what I picked up but there’s so much to choose from that I was literally paralysed by indecisiveness for a few minutes in this aisle (anyone else get that?).

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Of course, as everyone knows the best part of Christmas is really eating all the cheese! Even though I was there to shop for this post, I was still taken aback by the fact that you can get all these cheese’s plus the board (FREE CHEESEBOARD!) for £5. I also love the fact that everything is sourced in neighbouring counties to me – Leicestershire and Staffordshire (except the French cheese!).

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 What’s your approach to Christmas dinner – do you make a homemade starter and dessert? Do you think it’s worth the effort?

By the way, did you notice a few wrapped presents under my tree? Fortunately a lot of the presents have been rectangular… I have wrapped up one mug and that was a bit of a disaster!

 

x Kerry

 

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The Ultimate Cupcake Giveaway! Win £50 worth of everything you need for showstopping Cupcakes!

rockyroad

Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well so far friends? I have something here that could improve it!

I’ve partnered up with the Cake Decorating Store to give you the chance to win absolutely everything you need to make some seriously amazing looking cupcakes! When I first started out baking seriously I was frustrated that I couldn’t make cupcakes that looked like the ones you see in shops (and on blogs!) and it’s taken me years to get to the point where I can make cupcakes that are seriously impressive, like my Rocky Road Cupcakes or my Nutella and Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes!

In fact, when I first started experimenting with nozzles, I made these cupcakes and was really pleased with them. To look at them now, they look like a horrible disaster! The frosting is clearly far too runny and the colours are…. interesting!

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Over time, I realised that making showstopping cupcakes is simple – you just need the right tools! Most important are the nozzles – use the right one and you’ll get the right result. A large ice cream scoop is also invaluable – use it to scoop the batter into the cases, and all your cupcakes will be identically sized.

Of course, it’s important to also use a great recipe, like my favourite ever vanilla cupcake recipe, and my foolproof cream cheese frosting, which pipes incredibly thick and holds its shape really well on cupcakes. The enemy to really impressive cupcakes is a soft frosting (a hot summers day can make things trickier), so once you’ve finished mixing your frosting together, if it’s remotely soft, pop into the fridge before you pipe it.

Cupcake Giveaway

This giveaway contains everything you could possibly need to make amazing looking cupcakes! The Cake Decorating Store were kind enough to let me pick it all out myself, and I picked the things that I now use to give my cupcakes a professional look. 

The value of the giveaway is over £50 and one lucky winner will have all this arrive on their doorstep in time for Christmas! This is what you could win:

To enter, just follow me on Pinterest (my cupcakes board might be a good place for inspiration!) and leave me a comment telling me that you’ve done so and your pinterest user name. You’ve got until midnight on Tuesday 9th December to enter – we’ve got to make sure the winner gets their prize for Christmas!

Follow Kerry {KerryCooks.com}’s board Cupcakes on Pinterest.

Good luck everyone!

 

x Kerry

 

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Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

 Deliciously soft and cake-like chocolatey Red Velvet Whoopie Pies are sandwiched together with vanilla-bean spiked cream cheese frosting. You’ll need a tall glass of milk to finish one of these!

 Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - so yummy, delicious and easy!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - omg the cream cheese frosting though | kerrycooks.com

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - omg the cream cheese frosting though | kerrycooks.com

Have you ever made Red Velvet Whoopie Pies before? You have to make them this Christmas if you’ve never tried them before! The red colour make them so seasonally appropriate.

My Red Velvet Whoopie Pies are fluffy yet dense, a little chocolatey and full of sinfully thick and smooth cream cheese frosting. The tangy cream cheese frosting is what really puts these over the top! I’ve tried my hand at red velvet whoopie pies a few times before but never gotten them quite perfect enough to share with you. These ones really are amazing!

Ingredients wise, these whoopie pies are similar to a red velvet cupcake. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour. Where Red Velvet differs is that a combination of vinegar, buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda is used as the rising agent. Both the vinegar and the buttermilk activate the bicarbonate of soda to help the cakes rise. Although it’s pretty odd to add vinegar to cakes, don’t worry – you can’t taste it!

Although these Red Velvet Whoopie Pies are pretty delicious on their own, they really come into their own when paired with cream cheese frosting (as does everything red velvet!).  My foolproof Cream Cheese Frosting is incredibly thick, smooth and luscious and just what you need here! Fresh lemon juice gives it a delicious tang, what while it doesn’t make it lemony, cuts through the richness a little. It’s my favourite cream cheese frosting and will give you perfect, incredibly thick results every time – no lumps!

Uhr, they’re also the size of big macs so I’d recommend making yours a little smaller.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Yields 10
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
331 calories
50 g
46 g
12 g
5 g
7 g
93 g
106 g
22 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
93g
Yields
10
Amount Per Serving
Calories 331
Calories from Fat 106
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
18%
Saturated Fat 7g
36%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 46mg
15%
Sodium 106mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates 50g
17%
Dietary Fiber 2g
6%
Sugars 22g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
7%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
5%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the cakes
  1. 120g unsalted butter, very soft
  2. 200g light brown sugar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 120ml buttermilk
  5. 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  6. 350g plain flour
  7. 40g plain chocolate, melted
  8. 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  9. 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  10. 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  11. pinch salt
  12. 1 tsp red gel food colouring (Sugarflair, Wilton, or Americolor)
For the cream cheese filling
  1. One batch of my foolproof cream cheese frosting
Instructions
  1. First, prepare three large baking sheets with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking mats and preheat your oven to 170C/gas mark 4/325F.
  2. In a stand mixer or by hand, combine the sugar and butter and beat until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla bean paste until thoroughly combined.
  3. Next, and in a seperate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and give the mixture a thorough whisk to remove any lumps. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter sugar mixture, alternating between the two until it's all combined.
  4. Add a full teaspoon of the red gel food colouring to the mixture - it should be a very very bright red (see photo). Beat in, adding more food colouring if necessary. Finally, combine the bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar in a small bowl or glass (it will fizz up) and then add it quickly to the mixture.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop or a heaped tablespoon, deposit rounds of the mixture onto your baking trays. They do need to be very round now if they're going to bake up round, so wet either your fingertips or a teaspoon and use it to shape them as round as possible.
  6. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until they rise back when prodded (gently!). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking tray, then carefully peel off.
  7. Sandwich together with the cream cheese frosting, partnering up whoopie pies of a similar size.
Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery
beta
calories
331
fat
12g
protein
5g
carbs
50g
more
Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
To bake your whoopie pies perfectly, I’d recommend using these non-stick baking sheets from Lakeland. They’re silicone (similar to silpat) and I use them to bake everything! They’re completely non-stick, so you never have any problems whatsoever getting them off of the baking tray.

To scoop perfectly round and even whoopie pies, I like to use a small ice cream scoop like this one – about an inch in diameter. If you don’t have one, just use form two tablespoons of the mixture into a circle using your fingertips dipped in a little water or the back of a teaspoon.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - sooooo GOOD! | kerrycooks.com Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - sooooo GOOD! | kerrycooks.com

 I hope you enjoy eating these this Christmas!  

x Kerry

 

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Snapshots from my week

Happy Friday, friends!

Last Friday we got some really terrible news, our poor Brownie died at the vets where she was having treatment for a rare condition called AIHA. We buried her the next day and plan to get a rose or some other pretty bush to plant over her grave.

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It’s so sad and surreal that she’s not here anymore or getting the chance to grow up like most other kittens. When Marty our tuxedo cat died very suddenly last year I thought that the only thing worst would be for a kitten to die, and now that has happened. 

 At the weekend I baked some of my Millie’s Cookies so I could update the photography on the recipe for y’all! Hopefully the new ones will be an improvement! I also noticed that canned pumpkin is currently on offer in Tesco (£1.50 for nearly 400g) – until Sunday. You can bake SO many delicious things with pumpkin – some of my favourites are these muffins and this pumpkin chocolate chip bread. 

I also received two lovely packages this weekend! Sweet Success sent me a Christmas Cake kit, containing everything you need to ‘make’ your own Christmas cake, including the cake, marzipan, fondant, ribbons and decorations, a cake board and a box! They’re selling the kit in their shop in Nottingham for £10 if any local folk are interested! Do you go in for making  your own fruit cakes for Christmas? Personally I don’t love the flavour, so it’s not something I’d consider making myself, but it was actually really fun decorating it myself – it would be a great thing to do with kids. 

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I also received an exciting package from Biscuiteers – their DIY decorations tin! I was so excited and jumped about like a child! I set about decorating them on a rainy grey sunday while listening to Christmas songs! What do you think?

 

I’ve noticed recently that Bella has learned how to open the drawers that we were keeping the cat treats in by pushing them from the back – she was then grabbing the treats, biting through the bags, and gobbling them up! She is about the greediest cat I think I’ve ever seen. We’ve now relocated the treats and hopefully she won’t figure out how to open the cupboard! She can also open a shut door – maybe she is pretty smart! 

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On Wednesday I went over to Helen’s house for a delicious dinner with my girlfriends. We enjoyed veggie chilli baked in peppers (I’ve tried to do baked peppers a few times but never terribly successfully) and it was realllly tasty. We had Haagan Das Salted Caramel Ice Cream with popping candy for dessert, which was absolutely delicious! It would taste so good on top of warm chocolate brownies!

Thursday evening I was invited out to review the newly refurbished Malt Cross in Nottingham. It’s a beautiful space, a former Victorian music hall that’s had many incarnations over the years, with a gorgeous vaulted ceiling, and a gorgeous craft shop too! I’ll bring you the full review soon!

This weekend I’m putting up my Christmas decorations! I have to also confess that I’ve been listening to Christmas songs already, but with all the sadness and stress lately I’ve needed cheering up! 

I’m also trying out the brunch menu at Missoula Montana this Sunday (red velvet waffles, anyone?), after which I’m heading to the Christmas Cake Club! Um, possibly not a healthy day! I really need to try to eat better the rest of December to balance (somewhat!) all the extra cakes.

I’m making Snickerdoodle cupcakes with cute Christmas tree decorations! What are you up to this weekend? Any baking or Christmas decorating?

 

x Kerry

 

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