Monday, 28 July 2014

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel Apple Cupcakes by Mrs U Makes

It's Friday evening and the tripolatas are watching Topsy and Tim, a children's programme about a brother and sister who are twins (played by actors who aren't related). On his particular episode it was their parents anniversary and the 'twins' were making them a cake.

When the programme ended and the trips had finished singing along to the theme tune, tripolata #1 jumps on my lap and asks if we can make a cake. This was the first time that they'd shown any interest in baking (apart from eating the finished goods), so how could I say no.

I had just about enough ingredients to whip something up and looked through some recipe books for inspiration. I initially wanted to make a pear and almond cake but the tripolatas were having non of it, they wanted cupcakes. Cupcakes are something I tend to avoid as I prefer to just pour everything into one tin. I tried to convince them that a cake would be better, but they really wanted cupcakes and apples. In the end I decided to adapt an apple and cinnamon cake recipe, this was met with their approval so on Saturday morning I got to work.

Note: I've only ever made caramel once before and it didn't work, not wanting another disaster, I searched online for an easy recipe. I found a great recipe for caramel popcorn and halved the measurements given. You could use this or your own caramel recipe, if you have one.

Here's what you'll need (makes 12):
For the cupcakes:
2 apples
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
80g unsalted butter, cubed
150g light Muscovado sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml milk

For the caramel sauce:

3 boys who say they want to help but instead spend the day watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original series) on Youtube.

Here's what you'll need to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 C/356 F
Thinly slice the apples and leave in a bowl of water

Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl

Rub the butter into the flour until you get something that resembles breadcrumbs

Flour and butter mixed

Mix in the sugar and then make a well in the center

Add the beaten egg and vanilla to the well and mix.

Cupcake mix

Gradually mix in the milk.

Cake batter

Divide the mix between 12 muffin cases

Top with apple slices

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Make the caramel sauce

Pour over each cupcake. How much you put on is up to you, I drizzled mine on not wanting the tripolatas to be hit with so much sugar. If they were just for me I would have doused them in caramel.

This is were the picture of the cupcakes with topped with
the caramel should be but I forgot to take a picture before baking

Place in the oven and bake for approx 18-20 mins

The cupcakes are read when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcakes comes out clean.

Let the caramel cool before eating.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Moto Moto Sauce

I had originally planned to post the recipe for my Coconut and Jam Roly Poly Biscuits. I made them for the tripolatas class party (it was their last day today) along with my Cinnamon Crunch Cookies. I'm still not 100% happy with the texture, I'll try them again using a lower oven temp and see if that does the trick.

Moto Moto (Hot Hot) sauce by Mrs U Makes

Instead I am posting this recipe for Moto Moto Sauce, moto moto means 'Hot Hot' and this sauce is definitely HOT. I got the recipe from my mum via Mr. U, who like myself prefers food that has a real kick. There have been many occasions, were upon being presented with a meal, the cook has cautioned me to be careful as ''s quiet spicy'; I take a bite expecting to be blown away and get nothing.

Spicy to me means 6-7 birds eye chillies or 2-3 scotch bonnet, hot on the other hand means...well you'll see as you read on.

I don't wish for anyone to go beyond their limits, so if a handful of scotch bonnet is too much for you then please use something that won't kill of your taste buds. If on the other hand a handful of scotch bonnet is like black pepper, then drop those bad boys in to your hearts content.

Here's what you'll need:

Moto Moto (Hot Hot) sauce by Mrs U Makes, this is all you need plus a little water and oil.

1 medium sized onion
1 bell pepper
1" chunk of ginger
5 garlic cloves
approx 8 scotch bonnet
some water
2-3 tbsp of oil

(Using more of the non chili ingredients will also reduce the heat.)

Here's what you'll need to do:

1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and fill the blender almost halfway with water. Blend until combined but not completely smooth.

2. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the sauce. Season with salt and stock cubes if desired.

3. Cook over a medium heat until the sauce has reduced or reaches your preferred consistency. I like mine to be a little thick.
Moto Moto sauce by Mrs U Makes  Moto Moto (Hot Hot) Sauce, by Mrs U Makes

4. Once cooled, transfer to a sterilised jar or a plastic container. Store in the refrigerator.

Moto Moto (Hot Hot) sauce by Mrs U Makes

This never lasts more than a couple of weeks in the U house so I can't say exactly how long it will keep for, but it can also be stored in the freezer. Defrost and heat in a pan when you wish to use it.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Morgan, Backless Jacket Pattern

Finally the Backless Jacket pattern (which has since been christened 'Morgan') has been published, I would have done this a couple of weeks ago but was looking for a decent model. I eventually got hold of one and her name is Valerie, say "Hello" to Valerie


Valerie has really made a difference when taking pictures, my pieces look a lot more professional. I've retaken the pictures for Elise and Romani and will update the main pattern pictures when I get a chance.
I hope this little investment is going to boost sales. I've got one more pattern to write up, (The Pocket Poncho) and I'll need to continue with Ijeoma.

After a lot of searching I've found the perfect yarn to use on Ijeoma, it doesn't give the exact same colour effect as my first choice but is still very autumnal. I've changed the central motif from a knit/purl design to a cabled design, which will stand out more.

I'll have to get started on this quiet soon, the Tripolatas start their summer holidays next week, I need to plan lots of outings and activities to keep them occupied. It's going to be hard work, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that they'll be going to school full time when the new term starts, WooHoooooo. I don't know whether I'll spend my first day of freedom resting or going out and about, knowing that I don't have to rush back. However I spend it, I'm going to make sure I appreciate every moment.

How would you spend your day?

Before I go, here's Valerie wearing Morgan.

Morgan, backless knitted jacket by Mrs U Makes
Valerie and Morgan

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets recipe. Made with real chicken, so simple.

Though I do like a sweet treat, my absolute favourite type of snack is something savoury, especially if I can just pop it in my mouth. Bite sized snacks are also great for little mouths too, the tripolatas love sitting with a bowl of something they can eat whilst watching their favourite programmes.

They've only ever had chicken nuggets a couple of times, mainly because I've been dubious about what was actually inside them. It never occurred to me that I could make my own until I watched a programme which looked into the contents of nuggets (I was right to have reservations).

They demonstrated how easy it was to make them at home and I had a bit of a "Duh, why didn't you think of that" moment.
So a few weeks later I got round to making multiple batches. The first batch was eaten that day, the rest were bagged and placed in the fridge. They then only needed about 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave to heat up (depending on the quantity), alternatively they can be slightly under baked, frozen, then placed in the oven to cook through when needed.

Here's what you'll need:

2 skinless chicken breast fillets
2 slices of bread
1/2 tsp of garlic salt (you can use minced garlic and add salt to taste instead)
1/2 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Paprika
1-2 eggs (beaten)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F
1. Place the bread, herbs and paprika in a food processor and whizz to form fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl
Real chicken nuggets by Mrs U Makes

2. Dice the chicken into bite sized chunks

3. Dip each chunk of chicken in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs, then place on a lined or lightly greased baking tray or sheet.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes

5. Cool a little and then enjoy.

Variation: I added grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs before coating the last batch of nuggets, it added a smoked cheese flavour. I will try this again with other cheeses the next time I make it. I'll also try a spicy version.

What other ingredients would you try?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Backless Jacket

                   Knitted backless jacket by Mrs U Makes Back view of the knitted backless jacket.

Yesterday afternoon I finished the Backless Shrug/Jacket that I've been working on for what seems like an eternity. When I started it I didn't really know exactly how I wanted it to turn out, it was just something to use up the yarn that I had bought from the knitting and stitching show. It's from a discontinued line from Rowan so was on sale,  at the time I bought it I had no intention of branching into selling written patterns so didn't mind that it was being discontinued.

Now that I am producing a pattern for this piece I am thinking that it would be easier if the yarn was still available, though the pattern is very simple and it would be easy to substitute another type of yarn.

I've written a rough draft of the pattern and just need to take a good picture. This seems to be the main problem I encounter whenever I make something. There's no one available to model the garments nor is there anyone who can take a decent picture of me wearing them.

My best option is to get a dressmakers dummy, and hope that I can find somewhere to store it so that Mr U won't complain about the lack of space and the tripolatas won't think they have a new toy. There are quite a few selling on EBay, if I can get one it would really make a difference.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Apple Cinnamon Swirls

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

Friday morning was a busy one. After dropping the tripolatas off at nursery I had to rush back home to attend an open day at the school they will be going to in September.

It was very nice and I'm sure the trips will love it there, my only reservation was the fact that they only have two reception classes, which means that there's a chance that one of the tripolatas will be in a class on his own.

I would have no problem if there were three classes and they were all separated as they've never had any separation issues and are very independent of each other. I just don't like the idea of one of them being singled out from the others. I spoke to one of the teachers about this and she said she understood and would speak to her colleague but couldn't promise anything. So here's hoping.

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes. They're quick and easy.
Apple Cinnamon Swirls
After this I went home and made these Apple Cinnamon Swirls, they were ready to come out of the oven seconds before I had to leave to pick up the tripolatas.

The total time from start to finish was 55 minutes and only about 10-15 minutes of that time was spent on my feet; making these little treats perfect for those days when you don't have the time (or desire) to make something but know you really really want to eat something sweet and delicious.

There's no mixing or rolling involved, and the only utensils you'll need are a pastry brush, spatula/spoon, a knife and baking sheet.

Here's what you'll need

Makes approx. 16
A pack of ready rolled puff pastry
2-3 tbsp of butter (melted)
Some cinnamon
Light brown sugar
3-4 dessert spoons of unsweetened applesauce

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

1. Unroll the puff pastry and brush the melted butter onto the surface.

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

2. Sprinkle your desired amount cinnamon and sugar on top (forgot to take a picture with just the butter)

3. Pour the applesauce on top and spread over the pastry using a spatula or spoon, leaving one of the long edges free of applesauce

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

4. Starting from the opposite edge roll the pastry, then wrap it back up in the original packaging and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

5. When you're ready, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F, cut the pastry into 1"-1 1/2" slices and place on a greased baking sheet, you can sprinkle more cinnamon and sugar on top if you wish. Place in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

When baked, transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
Eat and enjoy.

Apple Cinnamon Swirls by Mrs U Makes

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Crocheted Earrings

crocheted earring samples by Mrs U Makes
Crocheted Earring Samples

The last items of jewellery I made were part of the Story Time Collection, which was over a year ago, as tripolata #2 would say, 'Wowzers'.

That's way too long, and with the summer finally making an appearance I feel I need to make a collection that says 'Hello Mr. Sunshine, it's good to see you again'.

Crocheted earrings are a great way to achieve this, I won't have beads, wires and other jewellery making equipment out, which the tripolatas would see as new toys. Plus there wouldn't be a load of mess from the said jewellery equipment, this for Mr. U would be a big plus.

I've made eight samples so far using 4ply yarn. The finished pieces will be made using crochet thread and would of course be in bright colours.

So what do you think?





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