Some Serious Strawberry Shortcake

Recently I have been thinking of home, home being America.

I haven't been back for years. Things like life and money just always seemed to get in the way.

It was a priority for me to see my family this year so with the help from my parents we booked tickets for the end of July. 

I know a lady from South Africa who's husband gets upset when she refers to SA as home. Which in turn upsets her that he doesn't understand. 

I understand.

I thought maybe after so many years that I would stop calling America home, but I haven't yet. I call England my home too, two homes are better then one they always say. 

Well, I'm sure someone has said that somewhere? And if they haven't then I have!

I am looking forward to being home, but I still have life to live before then so I've not packed my bags just yet!

There will be a lot of visiting, but a lot of down time as I am going for 5 weeks! I will be posting a few posts before I go and hopefully be posting while I'm there, sharing with all of you what I'm getting up too! 

In the meantime I have a few classic American desserts and bakes to share with you among other things. 

I decided I wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake when I found myself smelling strawberries at the store with my oldest little person. While I was smelling freshly baked shortcake and sweet whipped cream she was smelling strawberries and nothing else.  

I made sure we got two packages. I made Strawberry Shortcakes and her and her sister ate 400g worth of strawberries in one sitting. 

We limit their in take of strawberries so it doesn't become a serious problem in their adulthood. I'm lying we let them eat as many as we can afford! 

To me Strawberry Shortcake is a classic dessert and perfect way to highlight fresh strawberries. Plus it gave me an excuse to use my Wilton pan I have only used one other time. This is some seriously good dessert! 

Strawberry Shortcakes: 

400g strawberries
50g sugar

Mix the sliced strawberries with the sugar in a bowl and cover and leaver until ready to use. We want the strawberries to be nice and juicy! 

300g plain flour
100g sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
114g butter, chilled
140ml milk
1 large egg

Heat the oven to 190C grease the dessert shell tin by Wilton or a 8inch/20cm round pan, with a cake release spray and lightly dust with flour, tap out excess flour.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together before adding the butter in cubes. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like course crumbs. If you have a pastry blender tool thing then use that.
Fold in the milk and egg until just combined. 
Use heaped table spoons to fill the indents in the dessert shell tin and gently press down and smooth with the back of the spoon. Or spoon into the cake pan and smooth down as much as possible. The batter is a little sticky. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes if using the dessert shell, but 30-35 minutes if in the cake pan. The skewer test should be used to make sure it's cooked all the way through. Cool in the tin/pan for at least 10 minutes before turn out on a plate. 

to serve
150ml whipping cream
1 tsp caster sugar

Whip the cream and sugar together until it holds it's shape. Then I drizzle some of the strawberry juice on the cake(s) to soak in a little before adding strawberries, whipped cream to taste! 
Then eat! Ice cream would also be great in these! 

notes: My post on home being where the heart is! The only other time I used this pan was for this post. Recipe roughly adapted from a Betty Crocker cookbook. 

Relative Values at Harold Pinter Theatre & Viet Café

The Harold Pinter Theatre has seen it’s fair share of big names since it opened in October of 1881, under the name of “Royal Comedy Theatre.”

Since no official warrant had been issued the “royal” was removed and was titled the “Comedy Theatre” until as recent as 2011 when it was renamed “The Harold Pinter Theatre.” After Harold Pinter a distinguished playwright, screenwriter, director, political activist, and actor.

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to visit the theatre to see Noel Coward’s comedy Relative Values. 

My mother-in-law and her husband were supposed to attend, but do to unforeseen circumstances she found herself unable to attend. I got to take her place.

I am sorry she was unable to attend, but I was glad I got to go!

Noel Coward is a well-known writer, actor, director, film producer, painter, songwriter, cabaret artist – I don’t know if there was anything he didn’t do. His close friends called him ‘the Master’ so that says a lot!

He wrote Relative Values post World War II and it reflects the social atmosphere at the time. Our fascination with aristocracy and class is why this play is still a success today. I didn’t actually know anything about the play going in, but I soon found myself laughing out loud. Having grown up in America some British culture references were beyond me, but the over all comedy was brilliant.

As I mentioned above the theatre has seen a lot of big names and Relative Values was no different with Patricia Hodge, Caroline Quentin, and Rory Bremner! The whole cast was amazing! I loved the old world of England clashing with the Hollywood lifestyle of the US. 

I had a really nice time. Unfortunately upon writing this play is no longer showing. If you are looking for another Noel Coward play the English Touring Theatre (ETT) are performing “Tonight at 8:30” until the end of July see if it’s near you! Or if you are looking to visit the Harold Pinter Theatre they will be showing The Importance of being Earnest from the 27th of June. That's today! 

After the play my father-in-law were hungry and after something to eat. There are plenty of places to go, but we wanted something we've never really tried before.

Right around the corner (quite literally) we stopped out side a Vietnamese place called Viet Café and decided to go in. Having never tried Vietnamese food before I wasn't sure where to start, but we had decided to order a variety of things and share!

Nem Ga Tom (fried pancakes with chicken and prawns) - these were super yummy and probably my favorite out of all the dishes.

Goi Tom (summer rolls) since we were ordering a lot of sea food and chicken I thought we should try some tofu, it was okay, the crushed peanut sweet soy bean sauce is what made these!

Pho Xao Hai San (fried rice noodles) This was my choice as well and I thought it was very tasty. It was a bit of a small portion, but since we weren't starving it was perfect for us to share.
Tom Yam (soup) this was a nice subtle spicy soup that was refreshing and delicious! 

Overall the food was good and the play was entertaining, I couldn't have asked for a better day out! If you like this post and you'd like to see more of days out in and around England please leave a comment below! 

Harold Pinter Theatre: Panton St, London SW1Y 4DN
Viet Café: 23 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG
English Traveling Theatre
Noel Coward

Key Lime Truffles

It is a known fact that I bake less in the summer. 

If I happen upon a cooler day I tend to bake a lot, as a way to make up for the days that it’s just way too hot to bake.

Therefore I tend to rely on easy no-bakes for the warmer days/months. 

For example these truffles.

I have made Oreo truffles more then once and am always on the look out for different sandwich cookies/biscuits to try out.

Stuart from Cakeyboi has made truffles using Jaffa Cakes so there are plenty of possibilities out there! 

I tend to keep to the sandwich cookies/biscuits only because I like the way the crunchy cookie almost melts into the cream cheese. Recently Fox’s released a Taste’s of America range and it included Key Lime Pie Crunch Creams. 

I thought they would make a great truffle! 

And they do. That’s a fact.

I wasn't sure if the lime flavor would be strong enough, but it was perfect. It’s sad because these biscuits are probably not going to be around long, as they are a limited edition. 

So, if you are interested in these you should make them soon. If you do please let me know! Here is how I made them…

Key Lime Pie Truffles

168g Fox’s Key Lime Pie Crunch Creams
100-150g full fat cream cheese
a couple handfuls of candy melts (color of your choice)

Crush the cookies/biscuits; make sure there are no big bits. Mix in 100grams cream cheese if you feel it needs a bit more add it in. I like mine a bit creamier, but you should be able to make them without the extra 50grams just depends on your taste. Roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and place on greaseproof paper on a plate that fits in your freezer. Place in the freezer over night or for a few hours until hardened.

When they have been in the freezer long enough melt the candy melts according to the instructions. Take them out of the freezer stab with a fork and gently rock back and forth in the melted candy melts, pull out carefully and sprinkle with sprinkles before smoothly taking it off the fork and placing in a fairy cake case.

Candy melts harden fast, so be sure to sprinkle right away. Leave at room temperature before eating as they will be really cold after being in the freezer and they just aren’t that nice cold.

notes: Check out my Oreo Truffles! Fox’s Biscuits do not sponsor this post. There is not a picture of the inside, because it is pretty boring and not as pretty as the inside of Oreo truffles. 

image from Fox's Biscuits

Yogurt Mango Ice Lollies

I was going to start out by saying how much I love summer! But to be honest I love most of the seasons. 

Autumn probably being my favorite followed by summer, winter, and well I don’t really like spring.

It’s such an awkward season. 

After winters I just don’t have the patience for spring, I just want it to be summer.

Summer is when it's hot and it's light out until late. It also just reminds me of being young and free. No matter how long I have been out of school, summer always feels like freedom to me! 

And it is summer! 

Which means it’s not only time for freedom, but ice-lollies (Popsicles)! 

They are also a staple of the summers of my youth. Ice-lollies are pretty much acceptable any time, anywhere all summer long!

In fact I think this cartoon by Natalie Dee sums it right up.

Ice-lollies are widely available in-stores and will not break the bank, but it’s fun and super easy to make them at home! There is the added bonus of no flavor additives when they are homemade. 

Then there are the endless flavor combos and colors one can use to make some really fun ice treats!

I stuck to what I was craving this time and I was after mango! I could have mixed it with coconut or lime or orange or anything tropical, but I was sticking to what my taste buds were telling me and I made these:

Yogurt Mango Ice Lollies

1 large mango
1 tsp caster sugar
200g mango yogurt

Cube just a little more than half of the mango and puree with the sugar. Mix in the yogurt and pour into the mold about half way. Thinly slice the rest of the mango and slide it down the sides of the ice-lollie mold. Top up the molds with any left over mix. Put the tops on and freeze over night.

They were exactly what I was after! My girls loved them too! I used Muller Light Greek style yogurt mango flavor. It was a good mix with the mango puree it was creamy and cooling!

I am sharing this post on Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge over on Kavey Eats! The theme for June was fruit and fruit is perfect for any ice-y treat! 

On average how many ice-lollies do you eat in the summer? What’s your favorite flavor? Please leave a comment below, on twitter or facebook!

notes: this post was written in association with Sainsbury’s; please see my contact/policy page for further information. The ice-lollie mold pictured above is available in stores now! In America we call them Popsicle's, which is a name brand. 

Roasted Red Pepper Dip & Walkers new Market Deli: Anglesey Sea Salt w/Cracked Black Pepper Tortilla Chips

On Tuesday I made a quick trip up to London to see Tom Aikens make the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had.

I didn't know it was going to be the best macaroni and cheese I ever had before I went, but it definitely made the trip worth taking! That and all the gorgeous canapés , wine, and chips!   

Mr. Aikens’ mac and cheese was inspired by Walkers new Market Deli range of chips!

He started out with a basic white sauce then he added not only cheese, but ham and sun dried tomatoes too! It was delicious!

Which is why we were all there! To try the new flavors of chips and to have a good time of course! 

Each new flavor had it’s own display that showcased the ingredients used to create the crisps. Along with someone to give us some further information on the ingredients used. Overall I really enjoyed all the new flavors! My favorites were the pita chips.

There are four flavors of potato chips:
Cornish Mature Cheddar,
Wiltshire Cured Ham, mature cheddar, and Farmhouse Chutney,
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, and
Flame Grilled Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion.

Along with two flavors of tortilla chips:
Anglesey Sea Salt with Cracked Black Pepper and
Roasted Red Chilli with Mediterranean Sun dried Tomatoes.

There also two flavor of pita chips (my favorite):
Roasted Garlic with Mediterranean Herbs and
Roasted Red Pepper with English Tomato. 

After all the chips were tried and tested we sat down to watch Tom Aikens cook and while I was watching him I was thinking of a roasted red pepper dip I had once at a friends house.

When I was on the train back I did a little research and note taking and settled decided I would try this Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

It is made with roasted red peppers, fresh basil leaves from my green house, garlic and cream cheese. I used full-fat, but you can substitute with low fat if you'd like to make it lighter. 

It was a great pairing with the Anglesey Sea Salt with Cracked Black Pepper tortilla chips. My girls and I had it for lunch one afternoon with chips and veggie sticks. 

Roasted Red Pepper Dip:

200g jarred roasted red peppers, drained & chopped
handful of fresh basil leaves
1 clove of garlic (small one for a hint or a slightly bigger one for a bit of a punch)
150g cream cheese (low-fat or full-fat)

Place the chopped peppers, basil leaves, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Then add the cream cheese and mix until combined. Sit in the fridge for at least one hour or longer to develop the flavors. Before serving chop up a small bit of roasted red pepper and place in the middle of the dip and add a few fresh basil leaves. Dip in chips or veggie sticks and enjoy!

The dip was a perfect pairing for the Anglesey Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper Tortilla Chips!

notes: The chips will be available nationwide from the 23rd of June. The crisps were part of the goodie bag for attending the event. For further information please read my content/policy page above. I love the fact that they are called chips and crisps. Recipe inspired by a Betty Crocker recipe. 

Why American's Call Football, Soccer (USA Cake)

As usual it was a British word first. I do have a discussion about once a week about words I use as an American over the words used around me here in England.

Soccer is shorthand for association. As in Association Football, it was a way to distinguish it from rugby. Originally Britain had Rugby Football shortened to “ruggers” and Association Football was shortened to “soccer.”

It's not an American word at all, it was a British word... “And the Brits used it often—until, that is, it became too much of an Americanism for British English to bear." (Uri Friedman: a senior associate editor at The Atlantic)

I do find it interesting that what makes America different is not what America did, but what other countries did to make it different.

No matter if it’s called soccer or football I am staying up for tonight’s Ghana vs USA and eating a slice of this cake I made in support of the USA team!

It’s a basic vanilla cake with red and blue swirls. It has a vanilla buttercream underneath the fondant. I used blue and red food color paste with a little vodka with a stencil of the USA soccer shield! 

They have a tough first set, but I think they will put up a good fight!

Are you watching the World Cup? What team are you supporting?

me in the 2010 USA World Cup jersey

notes: Information and quote comes from Uri Friedman’s article here. Sprinklebakes book inspired the painting on fondant!

Dear Blog, (3)

Dear Blog It’s your birthday! 

I hope you didn't think I’d forgotten! I haven’t and am writing this post to have a look back at the last year with you!

I thought I would do the usual bakers dozen of links remincising of the past last year. 

Where to start? I know, how about where we left off last year….

  1. Last summer I made White “Witch” Ice Cream for a Chronicles of Narnia competition. It was white chocolate ice cream with home made Turkish Delight folded in. It was actually really good. It was a shame I didn't win.
  2. I made a week of yummy treats all based on Cadbury chocolates! Like PicnicDoodle Salad, Double Decker Pillow Cookies, Star Bar Cake, Cherry Ripe Cupcakes, and Curly Wurly Brownies.
  3. We also took a trip up to Scotland to visit family and I made Cranachan Cupcakes while up there! Inspired by the Scottish dessert Cranachan. 
  4. I made my first YouTube video again for a competition, once again I didn't win, but it was an experience and it taught me not to let my husband be the video recorder.
  5. The Apple Pie Ice Cream I made in the fall was A-Mazing I don’t know why it didn't get more views? Who doesn't want Apple Pie Ice Cream?
  6. In the New Year I made a resolution to use up the baking things I had in my magical baking cupboard. So, I made Mince Pie Biscuits!
  7. I made a few cakes for my local Clandestine Cake Club, but the Killer Zebra Cake and a Cherry Garcia Cake were my favorite over the last year!
  8. FINALLY, I successfully made fried doughnuts!
  9. Homemade Double Deckers proved to be a bit of a challenge and were a bit chewy, but totally worth the extra effort!
  10. We had a lot of fun meeting Johnny of Johnny Cupcakes at his 3 year anniversary in London.
  11. The Brownie Quest I was on is now pretty much over. I found, in my opinion, the best and most versatile brownie recipe ever. Try it and then we can talk.
  12. I blogged everyday in May which was an interesting challenge. It took me out of my comfort foodie zone and made me talk about different things.
  13. Last but not least I attended Food Blogger Connect last week and on top of learning a lot of stuff I meet some really cool people!!

This last year was a year of experiences. Not just in my bloggy world, but in my real life too. Growing up is hard to do.

Things will continue to change, because things are always changing. We can’t stop it I've tried! I mean my littlest is starting full time school in September. How did that happen?

I’m also taking a much needed, long-time coming trip home to my family! USA here I come! It will be quiet here in United Cakedom while I am away, but don’t worry I have a few things brewing!

Then when I get back and the girls are settled in school, I will have to answer the big question: What do I want to be when I grow up?

When I find the answer I will let you know!

So, dear blog until next year! Love you, Lisa 

Top 10 Things I Learned at Food Blogger Connect 2014 #FBC14

It was a whirlwind weekend full of new friends, food, and lots of information. Lots and lots of information!

There is just so much to write that I am not even going to attempt to write it all. So, instead I am going to share the top 10 things I learned at Food Blogger Connect.

Some of it is what I already knew, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that I’m heading in the right direction!

Top 10 things I learned at #FBC14 (in no particular order): 

  1. Opportunity: Sometimes it finds you and sometimes you have to find it.
  2. Find your niche. What makes you and your blog different?
  3. Have a good idea. Research it. Plan it out. Just do it. A good idea will stay a good idea if you don’t do something about it.
  4. Social media is important. Find the ones that really work for you and use them to their fullest ability!
  5. I wish I had looked into being a travel/food blogger! I am definitely interested in seeing sites and experiencing food all over the world. (Maybe one day when the girls are bigger.)
  6. All brands sell luxury, status, comfort, and so on so what are you trying to “sell”? What you make people feel is just as important as what you make.
  7. Remember you can say no. If you aren't comfortable or something doesn't fit with your blog you don’t have to say yes. If in doubt ask questions. Brands are learning how to handle the whole blogger thing so you won’t know unless you ask!
  8. Don’t take too many photos. You only really need a handful of photos to relay your story. I know I do struggle with having too much choice, so this was a handy tip for me.
  9. If your dream is to publish a cookbook consider an e-book, look at Holly Bell from the Great British Bake Off. She has a mini e-book and her new book is out next month!
  10. Food Bloggers and Foodie People are awesome!

So, there was all that learning stuff and then there was the food! We had a lot of variety and it was a lot of fun trying all of it! Each day gave us different choices and I made sure to try each choice. 

I especially enjoyed Tequila Patron everyday, all day! If I wasn't drinking that I had a Good Beans cold brew coffee or a Sweetbird's lemonade! There was some delicious street food too! I didn't take pictures of all of it, but I did get quite a few! 

I have a few products I brought back from the weekend and am in the process of brainstorming ways of using them in my baking! Hopefully they will be posted in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned! 

Blueberry Muffins, perfect

“Perfect!” I say whenever something goes right and when it goes wrong; either with real sincerity and other times dripping with sarcasm.

It’s amazing how the tone in which we say something changes the meaning of the word.

If I were to say “blueberry muffins” with a disgusted voice you’d know that I don’t really like them.

And if I say “BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!” with real enthusiasm you’d then get the impression that I had an unstable obsession with them.

But if I say “Blueberry muffins, perfect” in a relaxed content way, you will then understand that blueberry muffins make me happy.

"Blueberry muffins, perfect" - Is exactly what I said as I burnt my fingers and tongue on a muffin fresh out of the oven. 

They were soft, fruity, and delicious. The sour cream really cuts the sweetness of the blueberry making it a perfect combination.

I think most people expect muffins to be bigger on top, but that's not always the case. If you want more of a muffin top you can fill them up a bit more, just don't over fill. 

They made an easy breakfast and a great afternoon treat. Served with coffee, of course! Now that’s perfect.

Blueberry Muffins:

200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
100g golden caster sugar
pinch of salt
75g butter, melted
200ml sour cream
1 large egg
200g frozen blueberries

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Line your muffin tin with paper cases. Combine the dry ingredients into a medium bowl by whisking them together. Mix the slightly cooled melted butter, sour cream, and egg together. It will curdle if the butter is too hot. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries I used my ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the muffin cases, but if you don’t have one just spoon them into the cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. They will have a slight tan color and should spring back when gently pressed. Enjoy with whipped cream, melted butter, or as is!

Question(s): What words do you use often with different meanings (please only indicate rude words)? Do you prefer fruity or decadent muffins? Please leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter or Facebook!

Eat Well, Waste Less

Food waste is an interesting topic to me. I know I am guilty of throwing away leftovers or vegetables that just sat too long. A lot of us do and it is a waste.

I am constantly looking for tips and tricks to use up leftovers or extra vegetables.

One of my tips is to watch sales. The 2 for 3 deal isn't always the best deal. Sometimes you are only saving 10p and if you don't need 3 of something it has a higher potential to be wasted! 

If you have any waste and money saving tips when buying a weekly shop please share in the comment section! 

Range Master has provided the infographic and if you would like more information on Eating Well and Wasting Less visit their site here.

notes: All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post.