Parmesan Shortbreads! {hummingbird bakery Home Sweet Home}

These were perfect for wine night with my Mum/Mom friends last Saturday night! They are a bit spicy which one friend wasn't expecting and therefore was not very keen. But overall I think they went down okay. 

I'll have to say too that I wasn't jumping for joy over them. Which is why I took so long to post them. That and since I took pictures of them at night the pictures aren't that good. However my 5 year-old ate the few that were left over with no complaints! 

If you have yourself a copy of the hummingbird bakery's Home Sweet Home you can try these out for yourself. Although I am probably going to stick to the sweet stuff from here on out. 

I haven't baked a lot recently. With so many baking books, I'm not short of recipes. I am short of people to eat what I bake. Have a few quick and easy recipes to try this week. Next week, I'm planning a much needed coffee morning with my mum friends to try some coffee I had sent to me to review. I will probably bake something to go along with the coffee. Then I finally spent the rest of my Lakeland's vouchers on a swiss roll tin, so should probably make a swiss roll! In March I've joined up to my local Clandestine Cake Club. The theme is Bake me a ... Song. My inspirational song is Savage Garden's Cherry Cola. Have so many different ideas of how to execute a cherry-cola cake. I can't wait to share with you what I finally decide.

So, a bit slow at the moment, but planning a few things already for this weekend! If you have the hummingbird bakery's Home Sweet Home, what have you tried so far?? 

Cadbury Dairy Milk Flapjacks!! {best loved recipes series}

Does anyone subscribe to 30 best loved recipes?? It seems like there is always a baking collection to be collected. They always lure you in by having the first issue priced at 99p. Which to be fair is a bargain. I didn't end up subscribing and even though my local supermarket giant seems to be getting them in weekly I haven’t picked any more up past the first 99p issue. Which included Cadbury Dairy Milk and Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

My first thoughts when browsing through the books was that they didn't really offer anything new. But that’s coming from a food blogger who owns over 30 baking books and around 20 cookbooks. It’s a bit out of control really. After a second look through there are actually some different ideas of using the product that it’s so simple I wouldn't have thought of it. Sometimes simple ideas are the best tasting. I was more inspired by the Lyle's Golden Syrup as it has sweet and savory recipes.

However what I do find annoying about the series it’s self is that online they don’t tell you what’s been out and what might be coming out next. I've seen a McVities Digestive, French’s Yellow Mustard, Bonne Maman, Sunmaid Raisins, Cathedral Cheese, Marmite (I may be making this one up, but if it hasn't been out I’m sure there will be).

I choose to try out the Cadbury Dairy Milk Flapjacks. They turned out okay. I didn't have the right sized pan and I think I baked them too long as the edges had to be completely disposed off. The middles were perfectly chewy and yummy though! Enjoy!

Cadbury Dairy Milk Flapjacks:

200g Cadbury Dairy Milk broken into pieces
100g butter
100g demerara sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
150g rolled oats
50g dried apricots, chopped
50g sultanas

Pre-heat oven to 160C/325F/gasmark3. Line a 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper. Melt butter, sugar, and syrup slowly in a saucepan. Once melted stir in the oats and both dried fruits. Pour into prepared tin and pat down flat with a spatula or something. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once cooled spread chocolate on top of bite sized flapjacks. I just dipped mine it was a bit messy, but hey it tasted good. I chilled mine in the fridge for a few.

notes: best loved recipes site; Oh and if anyone has subscribed to the series I would love to know what your favorite book is so far. I might order a few back issues!! 

Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies!!

These Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies were a huge hit this morning when I took them to a friends for a play-date! Enjoyed by the kids and mothers! They were super easy to throw together.

If they are made in the evening the dough can rest over night and once cut they bake in 10-12 minutes. Easy and super tasty!

 If these cookies are any indication of the rest of the recipes in this book my friends, family, and I are in for some really amazing treats!

If you are desperate for this recipe it is located in the hummingbird bakery Home Sweet Home. As it was just released I won't be sharing the recipe here at the moment.

notes: buy the book: Amazon UK & USA (kindle edition only)
update (later today) I googled these cookies and found the recipe here!

the hummingbird bakery Home Sweet Home!! {book review}

I have been anticipating this book for ages! I love Cake Days, first book was just okay, but Cake Days was amazing. Everything I baked from it turned out exactly as I expected it too! So, it was no surprise to anyone that I pre-ordered this one the minute Amazon allowed me too! 

The Hummingbird Bakery is mostly cupcakes with a few other treats on their counters. Their books allow them to show what else they can do. Home Sweet Home is broken down into categories of type of bake: Cupcakes; Cakes, Cheesecakes, & Roulades; Cookies & Biscuits; Pies & Cobblers; Traybakes; Sweet Treats & Classic Puds; Savouries.

Here are some of my must bakes:

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes* (picture)
Chocolate & Coconut Cupcakes
Eton Mess Cupcakes
Crème Brulee Cupcakes
Rhubarb & Custard Cupcakes
Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf
Chocolate & Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Cake
Cookies & Cream Cake
Banana & Brazil Nut Loaf
Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Roulade
Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies (picture)
Soured Cream Pie
White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Pie (for Glen^)
Chocolate Custard Squares (Nanaimo Bars)
Apple & Almond Bear Claw Pastries
Parmesan Shortbread
Cheese Straws (picture)

This book has definitely lived up to my expectations and I can’t wait to get baking from it. The American influences are evident and are only a good thing! My only gripe is the Mallow Cups (page 252). I am an American and I can tell you Mallo Cups are not biscuit marshmallows covered in chocolate. They are a creamy marshmallow filling covered with a chocolate and coconut cover. I love Mallo Cups, been ages since I've had one. I think I will have to adapt this recipe to make real Mallo Cups! ;0)

I also love how cupcakes are not their only focus. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing looking cupcakes in this book, but I am really impressed with the variety!

^ Glen is my brother-in-law who loves white chocolate & macadamia nuts together I made him these cookies (at bottom of post)! Mallo Cups!! Where to buy Home Sweet Home: Amazon UK & USA (kindle edition); Sainsbury’s (at the moment is only 7.49 in store it won't be at this price for long so grab it now!); the hummingbird bakery if you're lucky enough to live in London you can grab one at any location!

update: Made Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies: they were a big hit! Very yummy!! Made Parmesan Shortbreads not 100% sure I liked them.... 

Mickey Mouse Chocolate Sugar Cookies!!

The littlest member of our little family has just turned 3! I knew I would do something Mickey Mouse, because she’s a fan. About a year ago I purchased an expensive set of cookies cutters, from the Disney Store, that had a Mickey outline, glove, and star. Basically I thought it about time I used them.

As I was referring to the tried and tested sugar cookie recipe (from Sprinkle Bakes by Heather Baird) I took notice of the variation at the bottom. Chocolate Sugar Cookies! Then it occurred to me that if I used the chocolate variation I would only have to decorate the bottom half of the cookie. After this revelation I chucked the star and glove cutter!

I love baking, but decorating isn’t something I have a lot of patience for. So, to further make my life easier I used a pre-made icing/gel in a tube. Red of course! Then after icing Mickey’s shorts on I doted them with 2 white chocolate coated sprinkle things? Not sure what to call them?

So, here they are! Enjoy!! Baby.... ahem... my Big Girl baker did!! 

notes: Heather Baird is the author of the blog and book titled Sprinkle Bakes the recipe I used can be found in her above mentioned book and there is a recipe on her blog, but it’s different then the one in the book. I bought my cookie cutters from a Disney Store. Last year Baby Baker had Blueberry Cupcakes!! 

Rainbow Birthday Puppy Chow!!

also known as dog food, Muddy Buddies, Monkey Munch, People Chow, and Doo-Doo Butter Bites

I grew up with Puppy Chow so it can be hard to explain to the British people that it's not actual dog food, but a tasty delicious treat that is more addicting then crack. I did just type that. No other way to describe the fact that it never lasts more then a few hours and how you always regret it later! Enjoy!!

Rainbow Birthday Puppy Chow

350g chocolate milk or dark
1 cup smooth peanut butter
114g (1 stick/ ½ cup) unsalted butter (optional)
1 box (500g) Shreddies cereal (I used Sainsbury’s brand)
icing sugar about 500g I can’t be specific as I just sprinkle it on until I like what it looks like.
3-4 tubes of Smarties or M n M's or another other brightly colored candy/sweet
Melt chocolate, peanut butter, and butter if using together in a non-stick pan. Keep an eye one it, it won’t take long to melt. Then pour cereal into a large bowl. Pour melted mixture over the cereal and stir with a big spoon until covered. Or shake the bowl around a bit. Then pour in a little icing sugar and stir and shake. Make sure you have a cover for your large bowl or use cling film or foil to cover when shaking. Just add icing sugar until desired constancy. Since this is birthday puppy chow I added in a few tubes of Smarties to make it colorful like I did for the cookie jar!! I did see online some use white chocolate (too sweet for me) and add sprinkles to the icing sugar. The white chocolate would allow the sprinkles to show up better. Good idea, but not for me. 

notes: The first time I made puppy chow in the UK, everyone was very confused by the name!!An easy birthday gift is this rainbow birthday cookie jar I recently gave to my friend for her birthday!

made just for me {a valentines post}

I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. Similar to the ones I have about Christmas. See, I love the idea of a day that celebrates love. However I feel some people really miss the point! It’s not about having a boy/girl friend or husband/wife it’s about having people in your life that you love and showing that to them!

In saying that I would love someone to show me how much they love me by making me one of these cakes, torte, or tart (pop tart)! 

Chocolate-Raspberry Bavarian Torte from Heather Baird @Sprinkle Bakes

photo from Sprinkle Bakes used with permission
from Heather Ba
I have been eyeing this torte since Heather’s posted it last August! It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. If someone took the time and effort to make me this I would definitely know that they loved me!!

Chocolate Cherry Pop Tarts from Stella Parks @Brave Tart

photo from Brave Tart with permission from
photographer Stephen "Rosco" Weber
I've been in love with Stella’s blog ever since stumbling upon her Soft Batch Cookies. Being an American ExPat I sometimes have a longing for snacks from my childhood. Unfortunately if I do get my hands on something they are never as good as I remember. Maybe it’s my mature taste buds? Who knows? I do know that if I had these homemade pop tarts made for me I would be that person’s best friend for life!

Trifle Sponge Cake from The Caked Crusader @The Cake Crusader

photo from The Caked Crusader used with permission
from The Caked Crusader herself!
I don’t remember ever having trifle growing up. I do remember one of the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends when Rachel makes a trifle and layers sweet with savory. However to me trifles are a very British thing. A very British thing that I have been more then happy to accept with open arm! Or should I say open mouth? (insert awkward pause) Anyhow, when I saw this post I thought to myself “The Caked Crusader is some sort of evil genius.” Then I was like well, maybe not evil, but definitely a genius. It doesn't take a genius to get to my heart; but someone who makes this Trifle Sponge Cake might have a chance. 

Heaven and Hell Cake (Stephen Pyle’s) from Melissa Gray All Cakes Considered

picture of my book
A cake that promises you heaven and hell must be like the best cake ever! Alternating layers of Angel Food Cake and Devil’s Food cake with peanut butter mousse between each layer. This cake is aptly named! Whoever makes this cake must have a little angel and a little devil on each shoulder!

Cherry Vanilla Tuxedo Cake from Kristan @Confessions of a Cookbook Queen:

I’m not so sure about “cookbook” queen but Kristan is definitely a Queen of delicious, indulgent, and adorable sweet treats! Out of all the amazing desserts Kirstan has posted over the years, this is the one cake I can’t get out of my mind! Such a simple yet elegant cake! I would easily fall in love with someone who gave me this cake!! 

notes: Here's hoping my husband reads my blog! :0) Or any of my friends, local friends that is. I'm sure my sister would make one of these for me, but it would never get through customs, if of course it actually made it through the mail/post! Will probably resort to making them myself one day! All photos are used with permission from stated blog! Happy Valentine's Day!!

Forever Nigella #23 Nostalgia American Pancakes!!

Forever Nigella #21 Christmas was the first FN I participated in and it was a lot of fun! It was great seeing what everyone else decided to make! The big bonus for me was the support and kind words in the comments! I didn't participate in January’s just for lack of time management! So, as I went into February with the FN theme, Nostalgia, firmly in the forefront of my mind. Every time I opened my Nigella books I asked myself “What Would Nigella Do?”

Okay not really, but I was struggling to find something that was nostalgic to me being an American Expat and all. Nothing immediately stood out for me - until today (Strove Tuesday). As I was making pancakes for my girls and a few of their friends, using the trustworthy American Pancake recipe from Domestic Goddess, it occurred to me that they would be perfect for this month’s FN!

Growing up, pancakes and eventually waffles after the waffle maker came to live with us, were usually brunch on most holiday mornings and lazy weekends. It’s funny how a food can bring back memories, faded and fuzzy memories, but memories all the same. So, for my Forever Nigella #23 Nostalgia I give you Nigella’s American Pancakes. 

The recipe is located in How to be a Domestic Goddess. Nigella's American Breakfast Pancakes can also be found on her site! Thank you to Botanical Baker (this month’s host) and Maison Cupcakes for bringing us Forever Nigella #23!

half with maple syrup and the other with Lotus biscuit spread
Oh and I love the fact that pancakes here in England are called “American Pancakes”. Never had to clarify before! ;0] 

Weird and Wonderful Pancake Toppings!! {Guest Post}

Pancake Day is a few short days away. It is one of those days that always seems to creep up on me. I see all the pancake ingredients and pans for sale by the end of January and tell myself not to forget. I usually end up forgetting. Last year I ended up buying a few pre-packaged pancakes from M & S!! Which is silly as I usually have all the pancake stuff in the cupboard! Sometimes it comes down to time. 

Other people I know are all over Pancake Day and prepped and ready to go days in advance! If you are one of these people and looking for something fun and new to add to your pancakes Holly Arnold, Editor of Good to Know Recipes has a few ideas on how to top your pancakes!!

Once you've topped your pancakes you can send a picture on over to goodtoknow recipes and enter to win a prize! Full details here! Enjoy! ~ Lisa

Weird and Wonderful Pancake Toppings

By Holly Arnold, Recipes Editor,

Pancake Day is coming and it’s time to talk toppings. While traditional lemon and sugar is always a winner, the simplicity of pancakes lends them to many interesting topping combinations and I've found that some obscure mixtures really do work together.

You've probably all heard of baking ham in Coca-Cola, but a really delicious idea is to add a fizzy drink to your pancake batter. Cream soda, Fanta and Dr Pepper all work really well and they taste super delicious when you serve them with ice-cream for a double sugar hit.

If you don’t like things too sweet, how about introducing a touch of spice? Chilli and chocolate is a tried and tested combination, which also translates well to pancakes. Toss a little cocoa powder in the batter with some chopped chilli or chilli powder and see who can handle the heat!
My next suggestion may seem bananas but it really does work! The Americans love to combine bacon with maple syrup, but if you add slices of banana to that duo, it tastes even more sensational.

As well as getting creative with toppings, there’s plenty of scope to get creative with decoration as well. I made this burger pancake in an instant – sandwiching two chocolate chip cookies between the pancakes.

Before you can start on your crazy combos, make sure you have a good pancake recipe - the rest is then up to you. Happy flipping!

notes from me: If you are in need of a pancake recipe please follow the link above! And if you're interested my silly post on M & S pre-packaged pancakes! Thank you Holly for the lovely guest post!! Hope to have you again sometime!! 

update: picked myself up a copy of the current mag! Inside there is an article titled "Stacks of Pancakes"! Plus plenty of more fun and creative ways to spruce up your pancakes here!!! Also if you happen to be an iPhone/iPad user you can take cake recipes with you every where! Check out their goodtoknow Cake Corner app!! 

Mango & Passion fruit Panna Cotta!! (Slimming World)

Earlier in January I said how I was starting to watch what I ate and so far it’s going okay. Slowly, but then isn't that the trick to keeping it off for good?? I have been following Slimming World off and on for a couple years and have a stack of dessert recipes that I have been humming and hawing over. This Mango and Passion fruit Panna Cotta was one that I couldn't get out of my head. It was very yummy. Sauce was a bit tart, so when I make it again I think I would add a syn or too to make it a bit sweeter. Everyone has his or her own tastes so it might be perfect just the way it is!

If you saw my last post, you’ll remember I said I have been a bit lazy when recording my baking adventures. So, like the last post there is only one picture! Sorry! I hope to share more “healthy” or “not-so-bad-for-you” desserts in the future! But for now…. enjoy! 

Mango & Passion Fruit Panna Cotta

4 sheets leaf gelatine
200ml skimmed milk
2 tbsp artificial sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 x 175g pots Mullerlight Mango & Passion fruit yogurt
4 passion fruits

Syns per serving: All Choices 1 
  1. Put the gelatine in a bowl and just cover it with cold water. Leave for 10-12 minutes to soften. Meanwhile put the milk and 1 tbsp of the sweetener in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, remove from the heat and set aside. Squeeze the water from the gelatine, and then stir into the milk until dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and stir well. Leave to cool.
  2. Put the yogurt into a large bowl and gradually whisk in the milk mixture until well combined. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins or individual pudding basins, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours (overnight) or until set.
  3. The sauce doesn't have to be made immediately – if the panna cotta is for after dinner, make the sauce before you make dinner so it’s ready, as you will need some time to cool.
  4. To make the sauce, halve the passion fruits, scoop out the seeds and pulp and put in a pan. Add 100ml water and the remaining sweetener. Cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and then leave to cool.
  5. When ready to serve, slide a palette knife around the edge of each ramekin or pudding basin and dip very briefly in hot water to loosen each panna cotta. I didn't have to dip mine I just slide a knife around the edges and they slide right out. Tip each on a dessert dish and spoon over the passion fruit sauce. Decorate with a few mint leaves and serve! I choose to leave the mint leaves off.

Black Bottom Cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery

So, this isn't going to be much of a post... I am becoming a bit slack on keeping track when I bake stuff! My friend Viv had her birthday on Friday (the day after Louise's... February is a busy birthday month!) For our coffee afternoon (morning was busy for all of us) I made her Black Bottom Cupcakes from the self titled Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I choose them as she asked for chocolate and because they have been on my list ever since I had one at their Soho branch nearly 1 1/2 years ago!

So, here is where I am failing. I took one ... yeah that's right ... one picture!! Here it is:

It's a great picture. lol.

I choose to leave the frosting off because I thought it might be too much. That and it had to travel from my house to another. I don't have a fancy cupcake carrier like I've seen in the stores/shops. So, they go in tins and sometimes the frosting goes everywhere!! All the ladies enjoyed them so I would say they were a hit!!

notes: My first visit to Hummingbird Bakery - recipe is from the hummingbird cookbook.

Challah Bread!! [Weekend Baking w/Janet]

I used Miriam's Not-so-Secret Challah recipe from allrecipes(dot)com.

I did make a few changes thought: I used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water instead of the 2 cups of water. Then I upped the sugar instead of 1/4 cups I used 1/3 cup for each of the sugars. Then to finish I brushed the top with egg and sprinkled sugar on top! 

It was a hit with the family! Definitely would make again! ~ Janet

Rainbow Birthday Cookie Jar!!

It was my friend Louise's birthday yesterday! We don't normally exchange gifts, but as we meet earlier in the week for dinner (sushi!!) I couldn't show up empty handed! So, of course it's my first thought to bake something.

However she is doing so well on her weight loss journey that I didn't want to sabotage it with a big batch of something that would need to be eaten within a few days. In comes the jar idea! I did look around and found the cowboy cookies in a jar on Bakerella's blog so I went with that. I changed the name to Rainbow Birthday Cookies!!

Here's what I did and/or changed to work for people in the UK (sorry I still used cups!!)

layer your jar in this order 
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup m&ms I used Smarties
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 – 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

I put a cupcake wrapper to cover the lid and I made my label with an iPad app that I printed off and layered on colored paper.

I hand wrote the instructions which are:

add: 114g butter, soft (1/2 cup or 1 stick); 1 slightly beaten egg; 1 teaspoon vanilla
to make: Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F Pour jar contents into a large bowl, stir to combine. Then beat in butter, egg, and vanilla. Roll into 1 inch balls (walnut size) and place 2 in apart on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

I've told her that it's probably best to use within 6 months although I did see some say that her's were good up to a year? Not sure I would push it that long. Baking powder/soda would probably lose their potency.
This was fun and easy to make! A perfect gift!!
Omit the nuts, of course, if the receiver is allergic.

Update: she couldn't wait!
And was kind enough to send me some pictures!!