Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mini Christmas Puddings: A Tradion in the Making

Here we are, only week till Christmas Eve. The last few days since J has finished school have gone past in a cyclone of activity - yet I don't feel I've actually achieved a whole lot. Today was one day that I thought I'd actually DO something purposeful with the boys. We made mini Christmas Puddings. The boys have been asking to do them for the past two weeks - how could I deny them the pleasure it gives them? So the date was set for today. And so, I guess, a Christmas tradition of our own is born.

They took turns crumbling up sections of the cake, and breaking up the chocolate while I cut glace cherries into halves. The whole process seemed to go so quickly, yet watching them do their part in turn was a heart warming sight. Mixing the melted chocolate in and rolling them into balls took a bit more effort with the big bowl of crumbly mess. I'm pretty sure the temptation to lick their fingers was there, but they worked on with a determination that kids twice their age might not have shown ( I'd promised them that they could have one when the last cherry was placed on top).

So here they are in all their small handmade glory (those that haddn't already been eaten by their creators, that is!)...

{Make It!}



1 Dark Christmas Cake
1 block of Cadbury Old Gold Chocolate (Or other dark chocolate of your choice)
1/2 cup (approx) White chocolate Melts
1/2 cup glace cherries (or as many as you think look good)

1. Crumble cake thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
2.  Melt chocolate in microwave on a medium heat for about 90 seconds and stir until all lumps are melted.
3. Mix thoroughly through crumbled cake.
4. Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball or a little smaller.
5. Melt white chocolate on a medium heat for 60 - 90 seconds (If you choose to use more white chocolate, you will need a little more time than 60 seconds - it will also depend on your microwave).
6. Use a teaspoon to dollop white chocolate on top till it looks like custard running down.
7. Top with glace cherries and pop in the fridge till the chocolate sets.

These will keep in the fridge... till they all get eaten - it won't be long! ;)
They will keep in the freezer a bit longer than that.

   Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Industrial Style Christmas Tree

 When you ask the man of your dreams to make you a Christmas tree with a difference, you have to be able to be open-minded - you never know what awesome creativity you may unleash! Here is the story (and his very FIRST post!!!) from his perspective...

When the wife says "Can you make me a quirky christmas tree?" it can be roughly interpreted as go to the shed and tinker - Awesome!

Mrs S  likes to find inspiration from blogs, magazines, realestate pics, etc.  I on the other hand went to the shed and started rummaging through the materials stash.  Can I make a christmas tree from.... ply - boring, bamboo - probably, fencing wire - interesting but not enough, cardboard - did that one other year, storm water pipe - bingo!

It met all my design criteria: cheap, recycled, not too big, and creative.

Mrs S was not so impressed with the storm water pipe concept, but probably because a few doodle circles on a page looked nothing like a christmas tree, and gesturing with a dirty piece of PVC pipe triggered the "that dirty piece of junk is not going inside my lounge room" response.
Undeterred, I retreated to the man cave, and fired up the power tools.  
If you're having a crack at it yourself, cutting it on the angle (I used 45 degrees) will make the finished tree taller and skinnier rather than short and fat if you just cut straight circles, but it does make it harder to stick together.

The PVC glue I had was starting to go hard..  It turns out that this is perfect for making christmas trees!  Place the pieces together. Mark where they touch.  Draw pencil lines down the side of pipe from the marks.  Then all you have to do is line up the big glue string dangling off the brush with the line, and hey presto! Glue just where it is needed, and no blue glue over everything.  I put little spring clamps on them to hold it still while I put glue on the next piece.  They were pretty much stuck by the time the next one was ready to add.

The trunk is a treated pine pole that was left over from another project.  It was a little tricky lining up the curve of the pipe, plus the 45 angle, and then free handing it through the table saw.  Decided it would have been much easier with a band saw.  Cutting the pipe would have been easier on a band saw, as my table saw lacked the height to get through in 1 pass.  Going to put the tree up on top of the bookshelf so a bandsaw will fit under it, and see if santa gets the hint :)

Half an old cupboard door for the base, a few screws to hold it together, some small holes in the top of each pipe section so the ornaments have somewhere to hang from, and you're done.

Pretty easy really.

Mrs S seemed to be pretty pleased with the result, and the kids were super keen to hang ornaments on it.  

Not sure it is finished yet, Maybe some lights in the holes between the sections, if I can hide the wires somewhere.  Perhaps next year.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Button Biscuits - {Gluten Free, Dairy Free + Soy Free}

I searched high and low on the net for a good button biscuit recipe. There were lots of cute ones around, but the recipes seemed more complex than I wanted to deal with. So I got out my Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits and browsed it's pages till I found something that I thought I could tweak to suit my needs. (MY Brother is both Gluten and Dairy intolerant, and my nephew is Soy intolerant, so that sometimes makes things a little bit of a challenge). It was actually Little Clam that found the recipe - Hundreds & Thousands Biscuits.

Here are my adaptations:


Print Recipe      

50g Nuttelex Lite
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon (Sanitaruim) Almond Milk
2/3 Cup Gluten Free self-raising flour
1/2 Cup Gluten Free Plain flour
A range of different sprinkles, and coloured fondant**
extra Almond Milk

Round Cutter *

Cream the Nuttelex, add sugar in small amounts till mixture is light and fluffy. Add beaten egg, almond milk, and vanilla. Sift in self-raising flour a bit at a time, followed by the plain flour untill the dough is firm enough to handle. Refridgerate for a couple of hours (while you go off and do the millions of other things that you needed to do today). Roll out dough to a 3 - 4mm thickness (the type of flour we used makes the biscuits puff up quite a bit) between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Cut with a floured cutter. Place on a biscuit tray lined with greaseproof paper, brush with almond milk, and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Press on slightly. Bake in a moderate oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool on trays.

* Round Cutter - I made mine from  a strip of a soft drink bottle taped together with packing tape since I didn't have any cutters small enough.

** I only put sprinkles on half of the cookies. The rest I baked without topping them and then cut out fondant circles later with the same cutter. I used a drinking straw to make the two holes in the middle of each one, and glued them on the biscuit by lightly brushing the back of the fondant with almond milk.

*** For ease of putting the sprinkles on neatly, place cutter of biscuit and sprinkle inside the perimeter.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Cottage Cheese & Brown Rice Patties

For Baby Starfish's Cute as a Button first birthday celebrations I whipped up a big batch of Cottage Cheese & Brown Rice Patties. They are my favourite patties to have on hand. They are reasonably low in fat, freeze well and they taste AHH-MAZ-ING. I have even served them before for a family Valentines Day Dinner.

The difference this time was that I made them small. Teeny tiny by patty standards actually. About the size of a twenty cent piece, actually, they were a bit smaller than that. They take forever to shape when they are that small, let me tell you, but they were SO worth it! They didn't last very long on the table and even the birthday boy and his sweet little friend (who is six weeks younger) gobbled them up in a very short space of time.

So whip out your ingredients (or pop to the shop if you need to) and get cooking!

Cottage Cheese and Brown Rice Patties 


2 Cups cooked, day old, brown rice
500g (2 cups) cottage cheese
1 packet French Onion soup mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 onion
Olive oil (Just enough to pan fry with.)

1. Pre-cook the brown rice the day before according to the instructions on the packet. I use the absorption method.

2. Quarter an onion and place it in your food processor (you can grate it if you don’t have one). Add the eggs and turn on food processor till the onion is finely chopped and the eggs are beaten (unorthodox, but it’s quick and it works!)

3. Place rice, cottage cheese, French Onion soup, and the egg/onion mix to your mixing bowl and mix till combined.

4. Shape into patties, and roll in bread crumbs.

5. Fry till golden brown. Set aside on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil off.


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