Death by chocolate Halloween Doughnuts.

Its here. Our Halloween weekend has started! and i’m not even ashamed to say I’ve been planning this years halloween party since the beginning of September. Costumes have been sorted (i’ll have more about that on Monday.) decorations have been arriving on a staggered basis for nearly two months (I bought a led light fog machine. *EEEKS*) The last thing to figure out has been the food! I’ll be honest, I still haven’t actually decided what i’ll be serving. Last year it was am mountain of hotdogs sliced to look like fingers. I’m thinking of maybe making a giant cheese topped chilli &  side bowl of nachos?

Anyway, less of what I haven’t figured out yet and more of what I have. One thing I’ll definitely be making this year are doughnuts, if you read this post, you’ll know how much I love my doughnut tray, and whats better than themed doughnuts?! Nothing, is better than themed doughnuts!!

So, I will of course be showing you how to make up these Triple Chocolate chip doughnuts with a spooky twist.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

175g self raising flour,

175g caster sugar,

175g softened butter,

50g cocoa powder,

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder,

3 eggs,

100g chocolate chips,

200g white chocolate,

Food colouring of your choice – I’ve gone with Green, purple and orange.

Sprinkles of your choice. I’ve stuck with halloween themed colours.

 

 

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, its time to make up the chocolate chip sponge cake. To do this, simply tip your butter and sugar into a bowl, giving it a good whisk up, you want to end up with a lovely fluffy creamy consistency.

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Next up add in your eggs, and give another good whisk up.

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Now its time to add your dry ingredients. So, your flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.

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And finally, its time to add some double chocolate goodness, in the form of chocolate chips. Pour ’em in and give it all a good stir with a spoon.

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Now you can spoon your chocolatey cake mixture into your pre-buttered donut tray, if your fancy you can pipe your cake mixture in, it is neater… but I, for some reason find it ridiculously difficult to use a piping bag.

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Cook at 180, 160 (fan) or gas mark 4,  for 10- 15 minutes, or until firm. Once you’ve taken them out of the oven, you must set them aside and just leave them to sit and cool for at least five minutes. When it comes to taking them out you’ll see that they then will tip out easily and whole.

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Once your donuts have cooled, you can decorate. To do this, i’ve simply snapped up white chocolate into three separate bowls, I microwaved each bowl for 60 seconds, before giving it a through stir. I then added a couple of drops of food colouring to each one (Orange, green and purple. ) before dunking in those doughnuts.

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Now its time for the fun bit. Getting those sprinkles out!

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Finally, you can serve up your spooky halloween treats.

Halloween really is an amazing time of year, I think its because it marks the start of the holiday season, and because every year our halloween party gets more over the top. These really are the perfect sweet treat to add to your spooky table.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

DIY storage cabinet.

Last week you may have seen my first post showing the big kitchen makeover part two?  Link here if you haven’t or just fancy a re-cap. Well, I showed you all the new corner next the fridge, more specifically, i mentioned I would be showing you how we build the DIY storage cabinet thats now there. So here’s that post.

This was the area that needed something building,

 

I know most people think it would just be easier to buy something to sit down there, but they would be wrong. Armed with MDF and a nail gun. it took the whole of thirty minutes to build from start to finish – maybe a bit extra because we got fancy hinges. Anyway, the process was so basic. I measured the space, decided on my unit measurement. Height: 115cm – Width: 100cm – Depth : 50cm )And figured out what needed to be what. You don’t have to be a maths whizz for this. There are just two things to remember A) which joints will sit were and B) To add or takeaway cm’s to account for this decision. So, for exmple, in the simplest way I can explain it.

You’ve decided on your sizes. We’ll use mine as an example. I decided that the top and bottom panel would sit above and below the side pieces, instead of the side pieces sitting on the outside of the top and bottom panel – I hope this is making sense?!

This means that I need to take the thickness of the top and bottom panel of MDF OFF the size of the side panels. If your easy about sizes, have a bit of extra space to fill, this isn’t really needed – just wing it. But, if like me you have a very specific sized space to fill, you need those measurements right, especially the width.

Anyway, maths lesson over. Here’s how the build went.

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Next up, was making the doors. Originally I just bought 2 plain pieces of MDF to attach with hinges. Until I realised it would look so plain. And so off I went, back to Savoy (I’m actually not being paid to promote them, Its just near, they have good prices and the guys there are really helpful.) to pick up some of the thinnest (6mm) MDF in 4 panels, to frame the doors.

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I used the Miter saw (again.I’m getting brave with it.) for the corner joints and used a simple builders caulk to attach them to the doors an fill in the seams.

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Once the caulk was dried, The doors were attatched to the cupboard and the caulked seams sanded down smooth.

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Finally, I could get on with the fun part. The colour. Now, usually this is the great part, usually before the project has already started, I have the exact colour I want either already bought, or at least picked out. With this, the cupboard sat unfinished for three days whilst I panic bought testers. None of which fitted the seemingly non-existent colour I had pictured in my head. I’ll describe what I said to sam whilst we trawled yet another paint aisle.

“I want it like emerald green, deep and luxurious, but without the ‘pop-py’ green tone. More of an olive green shade to it, but not so much that it looks muddy.”

I’m serious about my colour choices. ha ha.

Anyway, I ended up just mixed my own using Homebase ‘village green’ and Wilkos ‘rebel’ black.

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I wasn’t even sure it was the colour I wanted whilst I was painting it, but once finished and once the gorgeous handmade handles I bought last week had been attatched. Oh I was in love. It was exactly what I wanted.

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There is no theme in my kitchen – I’m not a lover of themed rooms anyway, I have eclectic yet simple tastes, things that both completely contradict each other, yet sometimes I can make work, simple design in bold colours was the plan for this piece. This cabinet reminds me of something you’d find in an old shop, or a country kitchen that hasn’t been updated since the seventies. I love that about it. You’d never really guess it was built only last week from MDF.

The area, now home to its new custom built unit, was still not quite finished, and so after a very stressful attempt of finding shelving brackets that were a bit different, I actually settled for some rather basic brackets from B&Q, painted up some spare thick MDF and stuck it all up there on the wall. The perfect home for my cake stands.

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Finally. After a month. The kitchen makeover part two is finished! Well, until I realise there’s something else I want to get done in there.

 

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Big kitchen makeover- part two.

Earlier on in the Autumn (or late summer to be exact.) I finally pulled up my socks and started to transform one of my most hated rooms in the house. the kitchen. Little recap of the before and afters below (and you can find the full post link here.)

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Well, that side went well, but it made the other side, the dining table side look twice as bad as it did before, which.. was pretty bloody horrific to be honest. So over the past two weeks, I’ve been hard at work trying to transform that side too.

Very stupidly, I deleted the file of photographs from before any work had been done in there. Which means I only have one before photograph. So, this is how it started.

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Dark, plain, just completely un-inspiring and not at all cosy. So, I got planning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do in here (mostly) and it came in the form of board & battern. For anyone who doesn’t know, it looks a little something like this… (which was also my inspo board for when I was planning how I was going to tackle this room.)

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I knew, I was using MDF (Of course heading to my favourite project suppliers Savoy timber.) But before that I needed to figure out my measurements. To do this I measure from the floor, to the height I wanted it, marking it off with pencil all the way round (135cm high if anyones interested.) Then I needed to fill in those gaps. I marked 6″ from the floor – up. This was how high the new skirting boards went.  I then decided on 15cm high for the bottom board. and 13cm for the top board. Which left me with 90cm. this would be the height of each vertical board. All these measurements won’t make much sense now, but they will once you see the photos.

So, first things first, was ripping off those old disgusting, yellowed- gloss skirting boards. It was a horrible job, but armed with a crow bar, a hammer and a screw driver. I ripped them right off.

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I then gave a spritz of mould and mildew spray to kill any potential growths and awaited a delivery of the new skirting boards and My new toy. A nail gun. Once I had all of my supplies I got on with it.

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The nail gun was my best friend through this project, at first I was a little scared, there’s so many warnings and precautions to take with any power tool. But, it was all actually really easy. I bought this one from screw fix. It comes with 100 nails and 200 staples, and is fitted with a lock, so unless you put pressure on the front part of the gun against something, it won’t shoot nails into anything, this prevents any nasty accidents.

Once the skirting boards had been attached I could start on the main event. building up my board and pattern. I am not lying when I say attaching the entire thing to the wall took me an hour. Thats it. One hour. This was down to two things. Having my wood pre-cut and having the nail gun. So here’s how that went.

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When it came to deciding on the space between each vertical board, it was very simple. I just used the lines from the lining paper and centred each board on those. Then went on the top panel. By this stage, I was SO excited at seeing it all come together.

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Even though I loved it quite a lot at this point, it still needed some finishing touches before the painting could begin. I lined each rectangle with a decorative beading, and added a picture rail to the top of the entire thing.

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Then I filled in every single gap with some builders calk – not a particularly fun job, but its vital for a lovely smooth finish.

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Finally, I could paint it. I went for a light and clean white – using my favourite, and easy to clean Homebase Eggshell in brilliant white. It took 4 coats altogether, the last two applied with a small sponge roller. And after a while, I could still see patches, turns out I’d been staring at it for way too long. Once fully dry, it had no patches on it at all.

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That was the biggest part of the Kitchen makeover pt 2 finished. But there was still a lot more to do. Including freshening the top half of the wall up with a re-paint, and one of my favourite bits, building another custom radiator for in there. (this one cost £19 and took less than 30 minutes to put together.)

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And because, of course we hadn’t built enough, I also drew up plans for a custom cupboard to take up that place next to the fridge. The cleaning stuff has now been relocated to the cupboard in the living room (i’ll have a full re-organised/re-decoration post up for in there at some point over the next few months) so that freed up room, but i still wanted something a little more snug than the old cupboards turned on their side.

I’ll have a full post up about this build next week, its mid way through construction.

And finally there was some little projects to finish, like spray painting the large mirror over the radiator.

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Fitting new lights in both the kitchen and the dining side of the room – These Fleuron lights btw are AMAZING! They come with a remote, you can dim, brighten and change the tone, cooler, warmer. All for £30 I’ll pop the link for those here if anyone else wants to know where to buy them.

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And finally, all that was left to do, was to dress the room, pull out all those home accessories, fancy up those new areas.

 

Little before and after?!

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Its all so much more cosier, so much more clean and homely. Of course I haven’t completely finished – I’ll have the DIY cabinet up next week. And I still need to replace the artwork to something a little more natural and in keeping with the rest of the room. I also have to get the coving up, but seen as thats my least favourite job, i’ll leave that ’till last. All, in all though, i’m so happy with how its turned out, and its all now ready for our annual halloween bash!

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Autumn pie.

Autumn Pie. Leftover roast chicken, smoky bacon, and an assortment of seasonal vegetables in a creamy sauce, all packed into a buttery homemade pastry. Do I even need to go on or should I just skip to the instructions?! It is an absolutely delicious dinner, its cosy, tummy warming comfort food at its best, and you’ll even get to see just how easy it is to make your own shortcrust pastry. Which I very excitedly used my new autumn leaf shaped cookie cutters to make the crust. You can buy these on Amazon. I will be honest, it is quite a faff to make. But, if your organised, its no problems. I’d recommend making up your pie filling during the day, popping it in the fridge until its needed. Then its just a case of popping it all together just before dinner. Anyway, I’ll jut get on and tell you how you can make it up too.

 

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pastry – 

550g plain flour,

200g cold salted butter,

pinch of salt,

roughly two tablespoons of cold water.

For the filling-

Plug of olive oil,

Roughly 250g cooked chicken. I used a little bit under that in leftover roast chicken.

2 leeks,

1/3 Peeled & cubed Butternut squash,

3 sticks of celery,

3 slices of smoky bacon, diced.

300ml chicken stock,

150ml creme fraische,

salt and pepper to taste.

 

You’ll also need:

Food processor

Cookie cutters (leaf shapes) or a sharp knife and leaf template cutouts.

 

And here’s what you need to do:

First we’re going to make up your pie filling, we’re doing this first because it will need to cool completely before being put into your pastry pie case.

So, to do this, first pop a little oil into a pan and fry up your smoky bacon pieces. once they’ve started to golden, take them out and put to the side.

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Next, police up your vegetables into chunks, before popping into your pan and cooking for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Once your vegetables have started to soften, trip in your cooked bacon, your chicken stock and cook on a high heat for another 10/15 minutes. Or until the liquid has started to reduce. Before pouring in your cremes friasch, turning the heat down and simmering for another 10 minutes.

You’ll notice, that the liquid you poured over your vegetables, by now has thickened into a sauce – a very delicious sauce. Take your pie filling of the heat, pour into a bowl and set aside to cool, staring it over after about 5 minutes.

Now, its time to start on your pastry, i’m making up a classic shortcrust pastry. This is so easy to make up. The key is, not to over handle it. you can make it using just your hands, but I find it can become a bit tough, because of being over handled. So I like to use a blender. Simple pour your flour, butter and salt into your blender and pulse, until your flour has turned into golden crumbs. it will take 3 or four minutes, but be patient.

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Now, pour in one tablespoon of water and using a knife push the shortcrust crumbs together, then add the rest of your water before tipping the whole thing out onto a floured surface. At this point you will need to handle it, push all of your pastry together, giving it a good roll between your palms to create a solid ball of pastry.

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Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes/ half an hour.

By now, your pastry will be firm and your filling cooled. So you can put your pie together. Start by halving your pastry ball. If you find your pastry is too firm, too cold. You can pop it into the microwave for 5/10 seconds. this will make it more easy to work without having to handle it. Once its softened and ready to work with, simply roll your half out on a floured surface, making sure its big enough for your pie dish. Then simply lay it in your pie dish, pinching the edges of the pastry to the edges of your pie dish.

Just before you make the rest of the pie up, you’ll need to complete the filling, you can do this by throwing in all that cooked chicken. I used a half a roast chicken I had left over from Sunday dinner, its perfect for using up leftovers.

Next, pour your filling into your pastry bottom, spreading it all out evenly.

And now comes the fun bit. Well… fun for me. I get to use my new pastry cutters. Roll out your remaining pastry half and using your leaf cutters (if you have them) or using a sharp knife and freehand cutting out. And lay your pastry autumn leaves out over your filling.

Before long you should have a full crust of leaf loveliness.

Finally, wash over the top of your pie with a mix of egg & milk.

Now you can bake, place it on a shelf close to the top of your over (but not at the top) on 180 (fan) for around 35 minutes. or until your pie crust is a lovely golden shade.

Its the perfect cosy dinner on any chilly Autumn evening.

Enjoy!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Peanut butter & chocolate criss-cross cookies.

Peanut butter is one of my all time favourite foods. And if i’m answering the big ‘ol debate crunchy OR smooth, I’d say CRUNCHY all the way. Wether it’s a simple Peanut butter on seeded toast supper. Or my new favourite snack, Peanut butter cookies. There is always a time for Peanut butter. A few weeks ago, I discovered M&S did a Peanut butter cookie, needless to say I snacked my way through a full pack in 24 hours #Sorrynotsorry BUT then disaster struck (Not an actual disaster, Just one for me, who places Snacks and binge watchable TV shows very high on my list of priorities) They just stopped stocking them. Three weekends in a row i’ve been in hoping for them, but nope. They are no longer.

So, I took matters into my own hands and made up my own. Which are actually way better, because mine are topped with chocolate. This recipe is ridiculously easy, seriously making the dough takes about 3 minutes. My recipe will make you 24 cookies.

Here’s what you need to make them. 

  • 140g Peanut butter – Smooth or crunchy, its entirely up to your tastes what you use.
  • 100g softened butter.
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar (I like dark brown, it gives a much deeper taste.)
  • 150g plain flour.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • 50g Chocolate (milk, dark or white. Whatever you want, though I’ve gone with Milk)

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And here’s how you make them.

First, pour both butters, both sugars and your one egg, into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

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Then, pour in your dry ingredients. (Flour, baking powder, salt.)

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Next, lay a sheet of either baking parchment OR cling film (not tin foil, you’ll end up having to peel tiny bits of foil of your cookie dough) down on a flat surface and tip your cookie mixture out. Use a spoon to spread your mix into a roll.

Like in my original Chocolate chip cookie recipe, we’re going to be freezing this dough for a little while. So the entire length of dough needs wrapping up. twist at the ends before giving it a good roll, making sure its pretty much an even depth the entire way through.

Now pop it into the freezer.

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Your dough will need to be frozen for a minimum of one and a half hours. Ideally for around 2/3. But If you want to be prepared, you can make this up the night before and leave it in overnight.

Once your roll of dough has chilled for long enough, take it out of the freezer, line a baking tray with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to 170dg (fan assisted.)

Now, simply slice your cookies off the end of your roll and place in your tray.

 

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Ideally, you need to keep some space around your cookies, not too much, but enough so that when they start to bake and spread a little they don’t all melt into one. I’m using quite a big tray and have managed to fit 12 on comfortably.

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You’ll want to bake your cookies for around 15-20 minutes, but if like me you’re prone to forgetting exactly when you put them in, you can just pop oven the oven door and have a look. You want them to be lovely and golden. Once they’ve finished, pop them to the side and leave to cool. don’t pick them up at this point, they will literally just squish in your hands (not to mention scald you), they only harden whilst they cool.

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After about 20 minutes, your cookies will be ready to finish. To do this melt down 50g of chocolate and grab a spoon.

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If you’re a little bit fancy pants and have a piping bag you can use that for this part, but just using a spoon is fine. Scoop up some of your melted chocolate and drizzle it over all of your cookies length ways, back and forth a few times.

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Now, do the same again the other way. Up and down, until you reach the end. This will give your lovely chocolate criss-cross drizzle. Don’t worry about clumps of chocolate, it is never a bad thing to have too much chocolate on your cookie. If you do want them really tidy and uniform though, I would advise using a piping bag.

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Now, just leave them to set for half an hour or so – If you can, and only if you want to stack them. If not, just share and scoff.

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They really are the loveliest of cookies. I’ve actually eaten 5 of them today, they’re just so moreish! Maybe something that should only be kept as a treat. Or maybe just make up the roll and keep it in the freezer, slicing off a couple of cookies overtime you fancy something sweet. Pour a cuppa’ and enjoy.

 

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Home life project- October.

For the past two months, i’ve skipped The home life project. Not without having a go first though, I just either got caught up in other stuff, or just didn’t like the photos I had produced. A lot has happened in the past two months, I seemed to have developed a real passion for photography. I now attend an evening course in Level 3 Photography, and in complete honesty, I  can’t remember the last day I didn’t pick up my camera. I haven’t yet been through my photos from earlier home life projects. But I think at the end of the year, when I do. This months will show a noticeable difference.

This month I feel like I really ‘got’ The home life project. Every single photo on todays post was completely organic, no posing, no planning. Just following the girls round with my camera for the day. There is quite a lot I missed out, We did actually take a trip into town on Saturday, but it seemed there was about 10,000 people with the same idea, it was far too a stressful experience for me to even think about taking out my camera. Our day really can be summed up as ‘relaxed’ (apart from the trip to town.) And I think one of my favourite photographs from todays post is Mischa sat on the sofa playing on her Nintendo DS.

Anyway, here are my photographs.

 

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And thats it for another month of The home life project!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

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