Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I do love baking with citrus and the zesty flavour of lemons is simply fresh and delicious when baking. Recently a friend posted a picture after she had picked lemons off her tree with her grandchildren.

homegrown lemons

(The little guy is Trent’s mate – remember when they made Soft Playdough together?)  She asked if anyone wanted lemons, and I was happy to accept!

We had people coming over one night so I whipped up a double batch of this tasty Lemon Drizzle Loaf. By the time people were arriving it was still warm from the oven. The absolutely best way to eat baking. (When you don’t have to ice it, anyway!) Mind you, the second loaf tasted wonderful as well and more then adequately serviced lunch boxes and made a yummy morning tea.


If you have some lemons to use, here is a recipe I can recommend.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

175g Plain Flour
1 tbsp baking powder
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

85g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven 180deg. Grease loaf tin.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and yolk. Add sifted flour and baking powder and beat well until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the lemon rind and juice.
3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen, firm and golden brown.
4. Remove from the tin from the oven and transfer to a are rack. For the syrup, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat gently without boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
5. Prick the top of the loaf several times with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin then turn out.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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Triplet's 1st Birthday Cake Smash

Triplets first birthday cake smash. Cute much? Definitely! So I thought I would share some extreme cute with you since I just got back photos of their 12 month cake smash. Thanks to the wonderful Zara Jane for doing this for us. Check out her facebook page here.
So here they are. Eyeing the cake with anticipation and curiosity!

The first tentative touches.


It didn’t take Jayden long to realise that this was lots of fun.

Here he starts some serious mooshing.

Miss Imogen decided that blue looked very pretty so started getting a piece of her brother’s action. Jayden was preoccupied in his own world of mess.

After awhile the pink and blue started becoming purple on her leg!

 Cheeky girl!

Oh my, Jayden just loved this whole experience so much, and hands down was the messiest baby. Although the red icing rather resembles a blood bath.

Getting towards the end of the session.

Looks like he has war paint on his cheek now!

 Messy bubba.

I am sure Jayden was only trying to be friendly, but Miss Im is not impressed with a friendly hand on the shoulder.

Yes, she is not impressed at all.

Toby having his last of his sugar overload.

Picking up Jayden because he kept trying to do a runner. (Note footprints…)

 The aftermath.

Of course there was heavy duty bathing required.

A glimpse of Imogen as Daddy bends over scrubbing the boys.

It was such fun! Thanks again to Zara for her beautiful images and great memories!

Today I’m linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT. (I Blog On Tuesdays)

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2012 Cookie Exchange

Last night, (Stop press: Ummm, let’s make that Monday night), I had a delightful evening chatting with some friends, drinking tea and eating bicuits/cookies/truffles/slice. I wanted to get home early so I could finish writing a magazine article that was well past it’s deadline, but I was having so much fun (maybe talked a little too much…) that I had to come home and burn the midnight oil.

I first participated in a Cookie Exchange and documented it in one of my early blogs here. It’s a great concept. The premise is to gather a group of friends together. Everyone nominates one thing to bake and then bakes enough so that each person can get 10 serves each and then an extra serve to eat that night. On the designated night we all turn up and have a cuppa and a chinwag while sampling all the yummy treats that were made.

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Don’t they look yum? This is our delightful hostess! Thanks so much for organising  it N! xxx

My contribution this time was condensed milk biscuits (You really should try the recipe in that link if you haven’t made them before. Fabulous basic biscuits and with one tin of condensed milk you can make a ton of  them.) To make them Christmassy, I drizzled an sugary glazed icing on that I coloured red and then adorned with green sprinkles.


BTW, check out my completely cool vintage food colouring!


When my grandfather moved into a nursing home I nabbed it from his pantry since my beautiful Gran is no longer with us to bake, and Grandad certainly wasn’t going to use it! I know this will probably make the health freaks shudder, but this stuff is the real deal. Seriously, if you need red these days, it just doesn’t come out so vibrant. The bottle is almost finished which makes me a bit sad, because not only will all my food look pink instead of red, but it’s just a little momento of my Gran that I love to use! And the bottle, I love it. I don’t think I’ll ever throw it out. (Which incidentally is a genetic hoarding flaw that my Gran also passed onto me as well as a love for baking.)

My father-in-law is arriving from overseas at the end of this week. I’m so happy that we will be able to offer him an impressive snack selection!

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All the goodies waiting to be taken home. There’s included Cherry & coconut bikkies, Choc chip  and Choc peppermint biscuits, Oreo truffles and pumpkin slice. (Mine are hidden in the reindeer bags!)

Have you ever participated in a cookie exchange?  What do you think is a good cookie to contribute/receive?

I was going to link this post in Essentially Jess‘s I Blog on Tuesday. I did blog it for Tuesday. It just has taken me awhile to work out how to get some photos onto here, so I missed the submission. *Sad Face, bottom lip drops.* (Remember, I’m technically challenged…) And since it’s taken me until Thursday to post, (and because this is a great example of being smart and frugal) I’m linking to I thrive on Thursday. And because this is an excellent activity for Mum’s to do that the kids will appreciate, I’m linking with True Aim Education

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Janelle's Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe. During the week a friend asked for an easy cookie recipe to share. (Even though I prefer to call them biscuits, being Aussie and all!) I got these from one of the best ever cookbooks, “Fast and Fabulous”, written by Janelle Bloom. These bikkies have fast become a family favourite around here. My kids are huge PB fans, and these are so easy to make. The last time I made it I bought a large jar of peanut butter half price and doubled the recipe. They freeze well, so they have been lasting really well as an occassional treat. 

375g (13.23oz) jar peanut butter (Janelle recommends Kraft, which I’ve always used. It’s my fav brand anyway.)
1cup caster sugar
200g (7.05oz) white chocolate, roughly chopped

1.  Preheat oven 180degC. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

2. Combine peanut butter, sugar and egg in a bowl, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens (keep stirring until it does). Add chocolate and stir until well distributed.

3. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on prepared trays. Flatten with fingertips to about 1cm thick.

4. Bake one tray of cookies at a time for 12-15 mins or until light golden and a little darker around the edges (you can smell when they are ready). Allow to cool on trays for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Variation: For macadamia white chocolate cookies, reduce the white chocolate to 100g and add 100g roughly chopped macadamian nuts.

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Multiple Stress

I am stressed.

I’m tired, I’m worn out, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m fraying at the edges. For goodness sakes, don’t pull a thread. I’ll completely unravel.

So is The Accountant.

And he keeps pulling at my edges. Don’t worry, I’m doing some serious pecking back at him. In fact, do worry about that. It’s not doing either of us any favours. It results in a howling fight when something simple happens. Like when I went to feed the babies.

And I find that there is no container of homemade baby food that should be in the fridge.

Because The Accountant fed it to the dog.

Yes, that’s right. The dog. There were at least two meals there. That’s six meals for any one baby. A lot of baby food. Oh dear. Yell I did.

His disclaimer was that he checked with me first.

Which he did.

He had held up a container. “Should I throw this out?”

“Is it chicken soup?” asks I. “If so, yes. It’s old.”

“Yeah. It looks like something.” says he.

It was mashed pumpkin, choko and pear.

“Yum, yum.” says the dog.

“How did that look like chicken soup?” I storm at him next day.

“It looks horrible and smells bad.” is his defense.

But it’s more then crying over lost baby food.

After nine months of interrupted sleep. I’m so weary. And for the last week the babies haven’t been having long enough sleeps during the day. I’m trying to feed them more. Adjust sleeping times. Vary the routine. It’s just not happening. They are tired though. Which means extra grizzles from them. It seems that I’m constantly trying to settle down more than one baby at a time, and not able to settle down more then one baby because nobody is completely settled before I move to the next one.

I’ve people around all the time. I love and appreciate them all. But sometimes I just want my own space. And then, in the irony of life, I want to be with people as well. My regular groups that I’ve been a part of over the years and loved, like my church home group and my mother’s group disintegrated last year. Right when I need them. I’m still friends with the people. We still catch up occassionally. And if you are one of those people reading this, don’t feel bad. I know it’s life, I don’t blame you. I could be organising get togethers as well. But there’s just something about a regular meeting. You don’t need to organise catch ups. You just meet. It’s easy and it’s supportive. Of course the other irony is, often I’m relieved that there isn’t the stress of having to go somewhere consistently.

Meanwhile, I’m having massive problems with the two older boys. T-Star is throwing full on mega two year old tantrums. J Boy’s behaviour is truly atrocious. Completely abominable. I’m embarrassed. I’m upset. I’m at a loss and don’t know what to do. They are both are children with a strong will. It’s going to be a wonderful asset when they are men. If they get to that point. Right now, I have my doubts. I am so often saying all the wrong things. The experts. They’d eat me alive. There is so much room for improvement it’s not funny.

Yesterday I packed a suitcase for J Boy so he could move out of home.

It was the first time he had threatened to run away.

He had been completely naughty. Total meltdown when asked to do his homework. He had refused point blank to follow any instruction. Moments where you are at complete loss (happens often right now) shouldn’t be allowed to happen when one is so sleep deprived. All I could do was pray for divine guidance, because me. I was out of tricks.

And so he wanted to run away. I offered to pack his bags because I agreed. He needed to leave, he wasn’t participating as a member of our family. God had placed his Daddy and I as his leaders and he was rejecting our leadership and refusing to be considerate to his siblings. So it was time for him to leave our family. He started wailing. He really thought I was throwing him out on the streets. It broke my heart. He has no idea how deeply I love him. So I cried as well.

It had full dramatic impact.

He’s crying saying he didn’t want to go. I’m crying saying I don’t want him to go and I’m going to miss him. “Mummy,” he sobs, “I need to stay here for you to keep me safe.”
“I know,” sobs I, “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know.” Sobs him. “I don’t know where I’ll live. I’ll come back Mummy. I’ll come back when I’m good.”

We were able to sit down again and talk about what is necessary for him to be a part of our family. We hold hands and pray. He finally does his homework. And then in a tiny voice he asks. “Am I allowed to stay in our family now?” Break. My. Heart.

Anyway. That’s all I want to say for now. There are hard patches in life. I’m hitting one right now. If you are the praying type. Please pray for me. I really need it.

One of the many sad faces in our home of late.

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Iced Shoe Cookies – or Biscuits if you are an Aussie … or English.

I’ve used “Cookies” in my title, for the simple reason that if you happen to be searching for some ideas on how to ice your biscuits that just happen to be shaped as shoes, I thought you might have a great chance of finding it on my humble blog. Because it seems that more Americans ice biscuits/cookies then the rest of us… The truth of the matter is that it I hate calling biscuits “Cookies”. It’s so un-Australian, yet more and more people are doing it these days. Since why? I have no problem with a Yankee Doodle calling them cookies, that’s what they call them over there. But here, with our British history, we’d always refered to them as ‘biscuits’ and I see no reason to change.

Ahem. A little ‘hobby horse’ of mine. Surely one is allowed to vent on one’s own blog?

Maybe not? OK, moving right along.

These are my darling creations.

Last year I did a surprise Tea Party for my friend Liz.

Liz’s 2010 Birthday

Because she has a small shoe fetish love affair, I had wanted to make some biscuits in the shape of shoes for her, but I couldn’t find any cookie cutters in the right shape. Shortly afterwards I had found a large array of cutters in an impressive selection of various shapes at Sweet Themes. I was looking for cookie cutters for my son’s dedication (christening) at the time. (I got some gorgeous old fashioned pram cutters and cute tiny bibs, as well as cute cross shaped cutters, although by the time I cut white icing out and placed them on cupcakes, it looked like a cupcake gravesite. But maybe I’ll share that disaster on another day!) Anyway, since I had searched so hard, I couldn’t resist throwing the shoe cutter into the order.

So this year when I was thinking of what to bake for Liz’s 30th, I decided it was time to use the delightful shoe cutters!

Sweet Themes included a Basic ‘cookie’ recipe with the order. I use their recipe all the time for a basic biscuit now. It’s a very yummy sweet bikkie.

Basic Cookie Recipe
175g butter, softened
175g soft brown sugar
2 tsps vanilla essence
1 egg
275 g flour
2 tsp baking powder. (Teaspoons that is, I once put in tablespoons! Not recomended!)

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating well. Sift flour and baking powder into creamed mixutre. Divide into 2 portions. Let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 mins. turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly. Roll dough out to a 5mm thickness. Cut out shapes using your cookie cutter. Place on a greased oven tray. Bake at 180C for 10-15 mins or until pale golden. Makes about 30-35

I normally start really enthusiastically and make double the mixture. But rolling cutting bikkies can be a time sapper, so I normally run out of time. But the dough will keep for ages in your fridge after it has been kneaded and wrapped in plastic.

I was really nervous about doing the icing. For some reason I’ve been scared of royal icing. Maybe because I remember my Mum using it when she used to make wedding cakes so I always associated it with complexity. It’s not though, it’s really quite easy. You want to use royal icing because it pipes well, and you will be able to stack the biscuits as it sets hard.

I used a royal icing recipe I found here at the Woman’s Weekly site.

My piping skills do need improving, but when you put all the components together I thought it didn’t look too bad. I opted out of using ‘real’ piping bags, I’d borrowed Mum’s, but her nozzles were too fine. In the end I used disposable piping bags, but not the included nozzles, because they were too thick. I simply cut the corner of the bag and it worked brilliantly. And I didn’t need to fiddle around cleaning it afterwards, I just dumped it in the bin! Bonus!

I will admit that it was a time consuming project with all the making, rolling, cutting, baking, cooling, icing, (in different stages for the various colours). It did take hours. But I found it enjoyable, and I’m already looking forward to finding the time to make some other iced biscuits.

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Marvelous Mud Cake

I have a recipe to share with you. It gets a high reccomendation from the J Boy. Tonight I literally found him on all four licking the leftover crumbs off the floor. I have no confidence that my floor was fit to eat off, let alone be licked.

We made a mudcake for The Accountant’s birthday. It wasn’t really made of mud, J Boy had quickly reassured Grandma when he was telling her about the cake. It was just pretend mud that tasted good.

I got the recipe from my new favourite cookbook of the hour, Janelle Bloom’s “Fast, Fresh & Fabulous”.

The Accountant LOVES mudcake. I’m ashamed to say I’d never made a mudcake from scratch. Mainly because it has soooo much chocolate in it, which is never a good thing for the hips, and not economical. But for a special occassion, it seemed like a great time to make one, and Janelle’s looked scrumptious.

Janelle’s recipe used expresso, but a lot of our guests didn’t like coffee so I emailed Janelle asking what I should substitute. Proving that she is such a super nice lady for real, not just on TV, she emailed me back within half an hour saying to just use boiling water. Since The Accountant does like coffee, I made two cakes, one with, one without. In the end, I probably could have made one big slab with coffee in it because it was only a subtle flavour.

Janelle’s Favourite Mud Cake
300g good-quality dark chocolate 200g butter, chopped
1/4 cup strong black expresso coffee
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup SR Flour
Thick cream to serve. (I forgot to whip mine up before the party, d’oh!)
1. Preheat oven to 160C, no fan. Grease and line base and sides of 20cm round cake pan. (Mine was 4cm deep and worked ok.)
 2. Chop 200g of the choc. Place chopped choc, butter and coffee in a heatproof, microwave safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered for 2-3 mins on High/100%, stirring every minute with a metal spoon until smooth. Add cocoa while warm, whisk until smooth.
3. Whisk in vanilla, sugar and eggs. Sift flour over the chocolate mixture and stir gently to combine. Roughly chop the remaining 100g of choc.
4. Pour half the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the choc over the cake mixture. Pour remaining mixture of the choc, top with remaining choc. Bake cake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre has moist crumbs clinging. Stand in pan to cool completely.
Chocolate Icing
200g dark choc, chopped
1/2 cup thickened cream
Combine choc and cream in microwave safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on high/100% in 1 min. bursts, stirring every min. with a metal spoon until smooth. Pour icing over the cake allowing to drizzle down the sides. (Wait for the icing to cook a bit for a thicker consistency before pouring.)

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Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Last night I had some lovely ladies around and we talked about God and ate chocolate cake. What a great combo! I’ve said I’ll post the recipe on my blog, so here it is! These little beauties are super quick to make. I made them in 20 minutes while rushing around hiding the last minute bits and pieces before my guests arrived. And they are gluten free, so it was a great way to attempt fattening up my skinny gluten free guests! 😉

Thank you Donna Hay for another delicious cooking moment! They were yummy, soft and melt in your mouth, with lovely chewy bits around the outside. This came out of her Modern Classics 2 book. (Love that book!)

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

180g (6oz) butter, chopped
220g (7 1/2 oz) dark cooking choc, chopped
1 1/4 cups caster (superfine) sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 140C (280F). Place the butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Place the almond meal and cocoa in a bowl and whisk in the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs gradually, whisking until well combined. Grease 12x 1/2 cup capacity non-stick muffin tins.
Spoon in the mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool in the tins. (I had trouble getting them out of tins, better to use butter I think over cooking spray.) Serve with thick cream or chocolate glaze and fresh berries if desired. (I didn’t have cream, but ice-cream went down a treat!)Makes 12. (I made 13)

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Christmas 2010 – The Gingerbread House

Christmas always feels like it starts on Christmas Eve. It’s the time when the anticipation reaches its climax. Of course the most anticipated event according to the J Bomb was the imminent arrival of Santa Claus. There was a great deal of discussion about the optimal positioning of the stocking, speculation of the contents and he was most eager to tidy up his room to ensure Santa’s safe passage, not wanting to be responsible for any injury while the jolly old man went about his business.

Cousins had been around that day to play.

They were busy all day which allowed me to make a pile of gingerbread slabs.

I used a recipe from Donna Hay‘s December ’09 issue. I hadn’t made a gingerbread house before and this recipe appealed to me because Donna described this as resembling a flat pack house, so it sounded easier than most.

One of the things that has frightened me with gingerbread houses is cutting out the various pieces accurately to ensure you can build the house. With this recipe you pressed the mixture into a cookie tray, so they were all the same size. Then you cut them. I was a bit frightened that I’d crumble the whole slab when cutting, so I had an extra slab. (Donna’s recipe was for a much bigger cookie sheet then mine, so that worked in well.) It was a bit time consuming because I had only one sheet in that size with sides, so I had to press the gingerbread in, cook it and then when it was cooled down enough, repeat the process over again. But since there were 5 kids in the house that day, it kind of worked in well spreading it out over the whole course of the day.
So here’s the mixture when I’ve pressed it into the tin. Lots of finger prints.

Donna Hay reccomended the back of a spoon to press it flat. I found a floured glass worked well and was a bit quicker.

So here’s the uncooked gingerbread as flat as I could get it. (It would have taken me until Boxing Day if I tried to make it perfect.

By the time the cousins headed home and The J Bomb and I were ready to construct the house, it was getting later in the afternoon. We made a good start and everything was going well until Daddy came home early and decided to mow the lawn with the ride on. Even though riding the mower is something that happens regularly, the gingerbread took a 2nd place so I had to wait until the grass was cut before continuing with the house. We did get it finished, but dinner that night was a casserole I had made the night before (in a fit or organisation) but there was nothing to accompany it. (I know, casseroles in an Australian December is ridiculous, but it has been quite cool in T-ba with all the rain.) Luckily the excitement of Christmas being the next day made everyone forgiving of our simple meal.

So, we got it finished and the boys were only half an hour late to bed. I had made the mistake in a past Christmas getting the kids late to bed on Christmas Eve and we all had a miserable day with tired cranky children, so I was determined to try to maintain the bedtime hour.

Here’s the finished product:

It was on display when the family came over on Christmas night, but we ended up letting the kids eat it on Boxing Day. This seemed to be a good move. I took it over to my Mum’s since we had a family get together there. Mum has complained that she is still finding squashed gingerbread in places. It seems our supervision skills needed improvement and some kids had wandered around eating. Being damp due to a high amount of rainfall made the biscuit quite soft. (In fact due to the mositure one of the eaves had collapsed before the kids could eat it.)

Oh, and remember I said I’d made an extra slab of gingerbread? After the boys were in bed, I whipped up a little manger. (This is what the kids ate on Christmas day.)

I left it on the table for a Christmas surprise.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I have a feeling that we’ve just started a Christmas tradition.

Does anyone else make gingerbread houses for Christmas?

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Cookie Exchange

Now doesn’t that look nummy?

Last night I went to a cookie exchange. One of the ladies from my church, (check out her amazing blog ), came across the idea and asked if anyone was interested. So 9 of us got together, had a lovely chat and drink and at the end swapped goodies. 

Everyone brought a zip lock bag with at least 10 pieces in it for each person, plus a plate to share during the evening. This picture is a sampler of what we walked home with. Not bad huh? I have to admit, I’ve had a few snacks during the day – very delicious.

It was pretty time consuming during the day making it. I made “Stained Glass Window” biscuits. These are simply a basic sugar biscuit with a star shape cut out of the middle. You place a boiled lolly in the middle and when it cooks, the lolly melts down to make the ‘stained glass window’.

Easy enough to make, but fiddly, and yesterday was quite hot and my biscuits kept melting after I cut them out and put them on the tray. I finally gave in and put the air conditioner on in the afternoon and with lots of help keeping the dough cool in the fridge. I was consoled that the others had also had baking dramas thanks to the weather. (And after being unseasonally cold for so long too) It may not have been our finest baking performance, but I think we did OK in the end. I finally made around 86. Not quite enough to meet the quota of 10. I had 8 each but I threw in about 6 of the little stars cut out from the middle, so I figured it was worth 10 bikkies in the end!

So now should any Christmas visitors come a calling, or should I need to bring a plate anywhere, I’m all set to go!

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