Leap Year

I wanted to make sure that I had a post with today's date! I have a pie planned for dessert tomorrow so will be sharing that with everyone in time for the weekend!

I haven't been baking a whole lot lately, but I have been reading!! I was looking through my cookbooks for some different inspiration and was completely taken with Sue Lawrence's Cook's Tour of Scotland(I mentioned it here). When I did an author search on amazon I discovered she had a baking book!! Its out of print, but recently so and bought a copy for 3.60 including shipping and handling. There really isn't anything overly special or new, but saying that I have a recipe from it lined up for later this month. (back in print as of 1.2.2016)

Yes, you read that right, I plan my baking like I do my weekly meal plans! :0) I usually try to bake at least once a week, but sometimes life gets in the way. Or I make something I've already posted.

 I do have a busy weekend ahead- delicious magazine (UK) is celebrating it's 100th issue! Inside are 2 cake recipes one by Mary Berry the other by Paul Holywood. I plan to make both cakes and test them out on Mr. Knightly's co-workers and at my preschool meeting. Closing date is April 1st to enter your votes in a chance to win Marks & Spencer vouchers!!

In 2016 I will be planning a Leap Year Party and will probably use some of the cute ideas I found here.

If you'd like to learn more about leap years you can't beat Wiki! I found the left picture here, the book picture is from amazon and the google picture is from the Google home page! Happy Leap Year Day!!

Homemade Laundry Soap by Janet!!

I found the recipe for this homemade laundry soap here!

I found everything at WalMart. Here is what I used:

1 (4lbs, 12oz) box of Borax

2 (2lbs) boxes of Arm & Hammmer
Baking Soda. There is a larger 4lb box, it just wasn't available when I looked.

1 (3lbs, 7oz) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

3 bars Fels Naptha or Pink Zote laundry bars

3 (1lb, 3 oz) containers of OxyClean. You want around 3lbs of some oxy cleaner for stains and such, but it's optional. I used even more because we're hard on clothes. Also, I would have gotten the store brand to save $, but they were out.

1 (13.2 oz) container Downy Unstoppables for fragrance.

I put a trash bag in my roasting pan, grated the Fels Naptha on our cheese grater, and combined all ingredients using a wooden spoon. Then, I poured it into a 1 gallon glass container. I used a scoop from the OxyClean container for my laundry soap. I used 1 Tbsp per load.

My total cost was $31. But without the OxyClean and Downy, it would be around $12. This batch, for me, should last around 6 months.

I have a HE washer and it worked great! Better even than the Target brand liquid I was buying, and it smells great!

 ~ Janet
grated Fels Naptha

Addition of the Downy Unstoppables

Finished and Ready to Use!!
Please note this is not for consumption!! I know my blog is usually full of baked goods, but this is right up my alley as I'm always looking for ways to save money with homemade stuff!! I haven't done my research but I plan to look for all ingredients or suitable subsitutes here in the UK and will update you!! Thank you Janet for sharing!! x Lisa

Liebster Blog Award!!

As I was checking my email last night I was super excited to see that Jessica@Sunny Stitching nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you!!

 “Liebster” is the German word for “dearest” or “favorite.” It’s always a great feeling to know that someone else appreciates and likes what you are doing. Blogging takes time and effort. It’s also a little scary putting yourself out onto the World Wide Web for anyone in the world to see!! This award is a great way to get your blog noticed!!

There are a few rules that go along with this award.
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. Thank you again Jessica!! I love your creative posts, as they give me creative inspiration!
  2. Place the award on your blog! I put mine on the side bar!!
  3. You must nominate 3-5 other bloggers with fewer then 200 followers; leave them a comment on one of their posts telling them they are nominated!
Here are my nominations!!
Crumpets in Camelot Your Blog continually makes me smile! I love reading about your experience of being a fellow American in England, half the time I'm going "yup, that's happened to me too!" the other half is going "nope, not yet experienced that!!" I am also very impressed with your book collection and that you've brought it with you!!

Culinaria Libris: I love love love your blog!! I have a not so secret love affair with books, but most especially cookbooks!! You don't know how envious I am of your collection! I am constantly checking your blog for updates!

Ex-Pat Bride: You’ve been very busy these last few months so I know you haven’t been around much, but I hope that once you’re settled in the UK you go back to blogging! I love reading your blog not just because we’re friends, but because it is an open honest account of long distance relationships!!

Missie's Shutter: I love how blogging and other medias have kept us updated on each other’s lives! I love looking at all your pictures as I feel they capture part of you! Miss you!

I feel honoured to have been awarded this blog award!! It is my first, hopefully not my last!
For a last note, for all my nominees, you do not have to pass it on or even recognise it! It's for me to share blogs I read frequently. 

I found this button online! It's cool, but doesn't really match my blog! :0)

National Banana Bread Day!! by Indiana Baker

February 23rd is National Banana Bread Day, I missed out, but my sister Janet aka Indiana Baker did not!!

Not having any over ripe bananas, she decided to roast the bananas to get them mushy for her bread.

To roast the bananas bake for 15 min on a baking sheet at 400F or 200C. Then follow this  fail safe recipe!!

"This time around the bread was significantly darker, but it was still super yummy!!" ~ Janet aka Indiana Baker

Dora the Explorer Little Cooks Collection Issue 2!!

Issue 2 is on sale now! It comes with a Boots plate, rolling pin, butterfly cutter and magazine.
The dough for the cheese biscuits has 3 ingredients and really easy to make!

Again it makes 6 biscuits exactly and is very easy for kids!

Ours had a little patch work, the dough is sticky. It's very much like play-doh.

They bake for 12-15 minutes and are very tasty!!

You too could bake brilliant biscuits!!
I'm very happy again with the Little Cooks Collection. I may end up purchasing more! It comes with fun kitchen utensils and simple easy delicious recipes for parents/guardians to make with there kids!! This issue will only be out for 1 more week and at the bargain price of 2.99 I'd get a copy now!!

note: I purchased this magazine and all opinions are my own! For more information visit the offical website! (link removed as website no longer exists 1.2.2016)

Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day!!

In most traditions the day is known for the eating of pancakes before the start of Lent. Pancakes are eaten as they are made out of the main foods available, sugar, fat, flour and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent. (taken from Wikipedia)

I had never heard of Pancake Day until coming to England. I think the States need to adapt this tradition. Who wouldn't love a day of Pancakes?!?!
I cheated this year and bought some from Marks & Spencers. Four pancakes for 1.49. (maybe a little spendy, but they were good!!) I chose American style pancakes one with chocolate chips with chocolate sauce and the other plain with butterscotch sauce.
If you want an awesome from scratch recipe check out my guest post on The Ex-Pat Bride!! Mr. Knightley and I had chocolate chip pancakes for dinner on our wedding night and when Sarah was on her honeymoon I guest posted our story. I love how food and memories go hand in hand! 

All you do is put the pancakes on a microwaveable plate and microwave them for 1 minute 30 seconds. Then place the chocolate sauce in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. They will be very hot, but don't wait too long otherwise they will go cool!! Then enjoy!!

Rolo Stuffed Cupcakes!!

My good friend, Alix, made these the other day with her little boy!
Use any cupcake recipe from scratch or box and any flavour. Alix used chocolate and would recommend it! You could use vanilla too!
Spoon some batter into your muffin cases and place a Rolo in the middle. Then spoon the rest of the batter on top. If you don't have a surprise cupcake pan that holds the Rolo in place then they will sink to the bottom. But since it doesn't affect the taste who cares?!?!
Then bake for the allotted time given on your recipe or box. Once cool, frost however you want! Alix used a vanilla frosting and topped them off with a Rolo!
fillin your cupcake!

out of the oven!

the inside

Kahlua Cupcakes!! by Indiana Baker

White Russian Cupcakes
Makes 12

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 large (med UK) egg & 1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup vanilla vodka (plain vodka would work too!)
1/4 cup Kahlúa, divided

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt.  In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg and egg white one at a time mixing well after each. Then add vanilla, vodka, and 1/8 cup Kahlúa (half a shot).  Gradually add flour mix in three additions, alternating with milk, ending in flour. Bake 17-20 min or until toothpick comes out clean. While cupcakes are still warm, brush top with remaining Kahlúa. Remove from pan to cool.

Kahlúa Buttercream
1 stick of butter, softened
3 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp Kahlúa

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add salt, then add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until combined. Add Kahlúa one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

To Finish: Garnish with shaved chocolate, sprinkles, or chocolate syrup

Enjoy!! I made them for my knitting group and I had no complaints!  ~Janet aka Indiana Baker

Blueberry Cupcakes for Baby Bakers Birthday!

I suppose she really isn’t a baby anymore as she’s just turned 2! My eldest doesn’t like blueberries so; I assumed that the little one wouldn’t like them either. How wrong I was, blueberries were recently on offer and so as a treat to myself I bought some. I had them in a bowl and was snacking on them when I was distracted by one of the many distractions of a stay-at-home-mom. When I turned around Baby Baker ate them all!! It was perfect timing as I wasn’t sure what to make her for her birthday and after that incident it was like a light bulb going on overhead! Blueberry Cupcakes!!

These are taken from Making Cupcakes with LOLA, a London based cupcakery, by Victoria Jossel & Romy Lewis. They are titled Blueberry White Chocolate Cupcakes, and I tried the white chocolate icing, but it didn’t work out. I think I didn’t let the ganache cool enough and it curdled the cheese a little. It was lumpy instead of being smooth. So, I decided to just use a cream cheese frosting with these.

With fruit it is hard to make into a cupcake instead of a muffin and these were a little like a muffin, more then a light fluffy cupcake. But it was definitely lighter then a muffin. Either way they were good, my now 2 year old gobbled them up!! Here's how to make them!!

150g/1 ¼ cup self-rising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
90g/ 2/3 cup ground almonds
120g/1 stick butter, cubed and soft
180g/ ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (caster or superfine) sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract (I used ¼ tsp)
grated zest of ½ lemon (I didn't use because my hubby is citrus intolerant)
2 eggs (medium)
90ml/ 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp plain yogurt
120g/ 1 ¼ cups blueberries, plus extra to decorate
blueberry jam to drizzle or glaze.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir in almonds.
  3. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon zest. Mix.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  6. Add dry ingredients and yogurt and beat on low speed until combined.
  7. Fold in blueberries.
  8. Fill your muffin cases (makes 12)
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until well risen and skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before decorating with chosen frosting or sifted icing sugar

Decorating notes: Before icing I heated 2 tbsp of blueberry jam in a small heavy bottom sauce pan for a few minutes then pressed it through a sieve to just get a sauce and not any blueberry bits. I then glazed the cupcake before icing. I used a cream cheese frosting after the white chocolate frosting didn’t work out. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the wrong icing.  I just had other priorities! Then topped with 3 blueberries and some shiny pink sprinkles. You could also use the heated blueberry jam as a drizzle, make sure it’s completely cool before pouring over icing otherwise it will melt it. Or use just that and no icing. So, many different ways to do it!! Enjoy!!

Goodbye Men, Hello Dolly Squares!!

Not everyone is a fan of Valentine's Day. I like it because how can you, no matter if you are in or out of a relationship, hate a day celebrating love? In the book The Happy Baker: A Girls Guide to Emotional Baking the author Erin Bolger aka Happy Baker has been through all sorts of relationships and shares her stories with us in the book.

 For this recipe she explains is for the hard times during her dating life that she thought she'd give up on guys and maybe start dating girls. It's all tongue in cheek, but I thought it was funny and these looked very yummy! All her recipes have fun titles that are a play on different stages and events that have to do with dating and relationships! If you have given up on love or are single this Valentine's Day you should not only make these, but share them the constant people in your life!! Family and/or friends usually last longer then some guy!

Valentine's Day shouldn't just be a lover's holiday, but where you show all the loved ones around you how you feel!! Mr Knightly and me don't really celebrate the holiday, but we enjoy showering our girls with attention and treats!

Crumb base: 2 cups graham crackers or digestives
Mix with a 1/2 cup of melted butter and press into your tray, 9x13 or 9x9 is what I used.

Add a cup of chocolate chips, shredded coconut (sweetened), and walnuts (about 100g)
Sprinkle them over the top!

Then pour 10oz (283g) of condensed milk over the top.
No need to stir or mix. Bake at 350F (175C) for 25 minutes.
You may want to preheat the oven!! :0)

The finished product!!
You could all them something else when handing them out!
Leave a comment what you would call them!
Hope everyone has a great day no matter your status!!

Heart Cakes!!

These were very yummy and lots of fun to make! Just a simple cake recipe can be transformed into whatever you want! I've used the high-ratio pound cake recipe from Bake! by Nick Malgieri.

It's an amazing all around baking book! Lots of basic everyday recipes that are great as a base for creativity. It's exactly what the sub-title says 'essential techniques for perfect baking'! It shows how easy pastry is, which is something I have been nervous or reluctant to try. Anyhow back to the point!

Valentine's Day is next week so I put the pound cake batter into little heart shaped silicone molds. The I layered them with whipped cream and fruit. One with raspberries and the other with strawberries. I used these fruits to decorate the top as well with some solid chocolate hearts!! A perfect Valentines treat!
Then because my mom's group were coming around I used the fun animal molds to use up the rest of the batter!

Two heart shaped pound cakes!
Layer of strawberry jam.
I used parchment paper around the sides to keep my plate clean!
Layer of fresh whipped cream and strawberries!
All layered up!
Place the second cake on top with another
layer of whipped cream and strawberries!!
The raspberry one! I just topped it with the berries!
Animal cakes: the frog didn't turn out so well so we ate him right away!
 Hope you have a delicious Valentine's Day!
Yes, I know it's not until Tuesday but why can't we celebrate a little earlier!
You don't need a holiday to tell someone you love them! Right?

love tub!!

Who doesn't need a little love for Valentine's Day?
Treat yourself to one of these little handy desserts!!
They come in two sizes and flavours: Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chocolate Pudding.
Stick them in the microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes and instant gratification!
I have tried both flavours as I was lucky enough to be at my local store when they had a promotion and were handing out samples. I used my coupon from that day to buy this pot for myself!!
The Sticky Toffee Pudding was my favourite!!

note: I spent my money on this product and the views and opinions are solely mine!

Cinnamon Roll Hearts!!

These are easy and perfect for Valentine's Day!!

Or any time you want to show someone you love them!! 

Buy a roll of your favourite cinnamon rolls (like these ones) and unroll them about half way.

Then re-roll them the other way to from a heart shape! Make a bend for the pointy bit at the end!

Who doesn't like heart shaped breakfasts!!


note from Lisa: In America it is not uncommon to eat cinnamon rolls and doughnuts for breakfast!! Pillsbury cinnamon rolls are not available in the UK and I don't know of any alternative ATM.  

UPDATE: (8/2/16) Jus Rol are the UK equivalent to Pillsbury products, they are the closest you will find! Their Cinnamon Swirls would easily make these!  

Lemon Bars!! by Indiana Baker

These were very tart and yummy!! A classic and traditional lemon bar, you can't go wrong!! I used the recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies; the recipe can also be found on her website!!
~Indiana Baker aka Janet
For the Crust:
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and levelled)
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sifting
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the Lemon Filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in centre. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line pan with two crisscrossed rectangles of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
  2. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour with confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  3. Bake until crust is lightly browned 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, make the lemon filling: In a bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thick. Beat in granulated sugar, lemon juice, flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour over warm crust. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate about 1 hour.
  5. Using paper overhang as an aid, lift square from pan. Sift remaining tablespoon confectioners' sugar over the top. Cut into 16 squares.

Patisserie Valerie in Henley-on-Thames!!

I recently took my girls for a day out in Henley, we haven't been there for a while and were unaware of the recently opened Patisserie Valerie! We already had plans for lunch but choose a Cinnamon Danish to take out! It was really good!! Soon we won't have to go all the way to Henley to visit as according to the website they will be opening a branch in Reading soon! A little excited about that!! I will still be visiting Henley for Maison Blanc though!! ;0) I am also in the midst of planning a second Bakery Tour in London for May! (My birthday is in May and what better way to celebrate?) Will keep you updated on my planning as it gets closer!!
On a last note: Anyone looking for a job?!?! When we were there about 2 weeks ago they were hiring!! I could work at a place like that!!

Magic Marshmallow Puffs!!

These are from Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe has a Story, the book I reviewed here. I’m giving you an edited recipe, because I didn’t need 24! You can adjust it according to how many you need to make! These tasted like cinnamon rolls. It’s like a cheat’s way of getting a gooey cinnamon roll fix!! Perfect for the cold mornings that have descended on England!

What you need:
  • Butter-enough to coat 6-8 large marshmallows  
  • Cinnamon Sugar- enough to coat 6-8 large marshmallows
  • 1 pkg Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls (8) or Jus-Rol Crescent Rolls (6)
  • 6 or 8 large marshmallows
Pre-heat your oven to 350F/190C/gasmark5. Grease a muffin tin. Have a bowl of melted butter ready along with a bowl of cinnamon sugar ( ½ cup granulated sugar mixed with a tbsp of cinnamon).
Lightly flour your work surface and unroll your crescent dough. Dip a marshmallow in the butter, make sure butter is cool or it will melt the mallow. Then dip it in the cinnamon sugar then roll it up in the crescent dough. Start at the big end and make sure it’s tightly wrapped! Repeat with remaining marshmallows and then place them in your muffin tin and bake for 10-12 minutes. When they are still warm take them out and drizzle with icing. For the icing: Whisk 1 cup confectioners/icing sugar with 1-2tbsp of whole milk and ½ tsp of vanilla. You’ll want it thin enough to drizzle but not to runny!!

note: I thought there is plenty of room for 2 marshmallows in a wrap so I tried one with 2 and it exploded!! So, one is enough!!

Dora the Explorer Little Cooks Collection First Issue!!

I bought my mini-bakers the first issue today for only 99p!!
The second issue is 2.99 (out February 16th) then it's 4.99 from then on.

Mini-Baker has enjoyed looking through the magazine!
I like how the Banana Muffin recipe is for exactly 4 muffins.
Which is the number of silicone cases that are included!

Includes 4 silicone muffin cases and a Dora plate!

It also came with this fruit and vegetable chart/poster!
Mini-Baker has just been learning about healthy eating at preschool and this poster is a great tool for continuing that education at home! It also has all the fruit and veg names in Spanish! Double bonus!!
If you want to know more visit your local news stand or visit the website! (website has since been removed) I'm not sure I'll continue with all the issues, but it is a fun idea for kids!

note: I purchased this with my own money and all opinions are my own, see tab above for further information.  

Update: We made the muffins this afternoon after buying the magazine!! The recipe is super easy for kids you just have to help with the measuring!!
mashing the banana

ready for the oven

fresh out of the oven