Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Stem Ginger and Cinnamon Teacakes

Ever since Ruth over at The Pink Whisk posted a picture of her homemade buttered teacake on twitter a few weeks back I have been desperate for one. I mean seriously, you cannot think about a nice hot buttered teacake without getting serious cravings!

I remember when I was at college the corner shop across the street used to sell teacakes for 50p. They put them in one of those paper bags with the plastic front so by the time you got back to the college building it used to be a bit on the soggy side, which in my opinion made it even better! Pure, unadulterated, melted buttery goodness. Needless to say most days included a little trip to the shop for elevenses...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 27/02/12

Last weeks meal plan was a complete and utter failure! We ended up being very busy most nights, visiting friends, eating cake and just didn't do much cooking at all. The night I did cook was a complete failure of porridge-y proportions!
I am not ashamed to admit that the culinary disaster may have put me off cooking for a few days.

The upside to a week like that of course is that I still have a freezer full of food! I have also come up with some frugal ways to make the most of my food shop, so I thought I would share...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday Lunch - Beef Porridge Fail

I have recently become a little obsessed with the Hunger Games series of books, for those not in the know it is a tale of a couple of teenagers in a sort of alternate-reality/ post apocalyptic society. I am rubbish at summarizing things but I promise you it is a compelling series, worth a read. (I have not finished book 3 yet so please no spoilers in the comments, or I will cry)

As a food obsessed blogger I took particular interest in the food described in the book, a lot of game, bread, grains, wacky flavour combinations. They eat a lot of stews with grains and rice, one of the most interesting is the lamb and plum stew on a wild rice, or the chicken and oranges in cream sauce on rice with flower shaped rolls and peas with tiny onions.

After the success of my Harry Potter Butterbeer cake I decided to try and make something from the Hunger Games books too! I was planning on maybe a nice bread, cake or cookie but I accidentally made this hideous stew...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cladestine Cake Club - February 2012

Last night was the February meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club in Newcastle. The theme of this month was "If you were a cake, what would you be". Needless to say there was some nutty, boozy and sparkly cakes on display, which probably says a lot about the people who attend; they are awesome!

This is the third CCC I have been to and each month I think it can't possibly get better and then it does, the cakes on display were varied and delicious and has left me with so much inspiration for my own baking. I love that there are so many like-minded baking fans in my city. The Newcastle Cake Club is so popular that there is a waiting list of people desperate to come along, there is actually talk of a second club starting to meet the demand of hungry cake fans.

Here are some of my favourite cakes of the night;

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

You're a Star Cupcakes with Just Bake

If the name of my blog didn't give it away I am a bit of a cupcake obsessive, they really are the king of all baked goods and I just love baking and decorating these little beauties! I have a three tier wire veggie rack in my kitchen dedicated solely to various cake/bake related paraphernalia and the top tier is almost completely sprinkles.

I love baking for friends and family, nothing makes me happier than rocking up at someone's house with a few buttercream laden goodies to share over a cup of tea.

I really don't think there is any occasion that cupcakes can not add that special something to. New baby, wedding, christening, new house, new job, thank yous, or just to let someone know you appreciate them. (This would probably be a good time to mention that I have started accepting orders for my cupcakes, so if your local and need some cupcakes in your life; drop me an email)...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Blog Camp 2012 - Introduction

I am very very excited to be attending Blog Camp 2012 in April. It is in Birmingham and it will be the first "blog" event I have been to. I am very excited to meet some of the people behind the blogs I love. So here is a little intro about me and my blog for fellow Blog Camp attendees;

Name: Nelly

Blog: Nelly’s Cupcakes: caking, baking and making in the north east of England. Pies to puddings, bread to brownies and everything in between.

Twitter: @nellyscupcakes

My Blog’s About: Baking, cooking, learning, sharing, loving all things kitchen-based.

Likes: Baking, Craftyness, Talking too much, eating too much, blogging, writing, social media and generally being a bit of a geek.

Dislikes: Rudeness, bad manners, scripted reality shows and all things mathematical.

To see who else is going click here.

Pancake day: Reese's Pieces Buttermilk Pancakes

I adore pancakes, there I said it. I love the classic thin crepe-y ones swimming in lemon and sugar, the fluffy American ones drowning in maple syrup with a side of bacon. I could live on pancakes alone and be a very happy (slightly malnourished) bunny.

I made these pancakes over the weekend as a special treat for myself, I had a frankly awful week last week which ended in me having a snotty splutter-y panic attack in Fenwicks and feeling rather sorry for myself (a story for another time perhaps) so i needed a little sugary pick me up to get me back to my usual happy self.

I don't make pancakes as often as I would like but I am the only person in my house who likes them so it often seems wasteful to make a large amount. I sometimes save leftover yorkshire pudding batter for a cheeky pancake or two...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 20/02/12

Another week, another meal plan.
I have been slightly less organized this week and done my weekly online shop without a formal meal plan in place.
I have noticed since I started this process it is alot easier to plan 5 evening meals and have the ingredients but not set precise days to make them. As inevitably I get in on a evening and we change our minds or fancy something else.

Last week we stuck to 3 out of the five days but on different days, then we had a couple of sort-yourself-out nights which worked out well if I am honest. I like the concept of meal planning but I am learning that flexibility is the best approach in my house.

So here is this weeks flexible meal plan;

Monday: Beef and Pearl Barley Stew with homemade bread
Tuesday: Sort Yourself Out Night
Wednesday: Chicken Kievs with boiled potatoes
Thursday: Beef Chilli & Brown Rice
Friday: Lasagne and garlic bread

Can you tell that beef mince was on special in Tesco this week?
The good thing about all of the meals this week is that there is always lots of leftovers to take for lunches the next day.

So the weekly shop this week came to £50.17 which is more than the £40 I had hoped but I did have to stock up on cat food, cat litter and a few basics like cling film and foil etc...

Considering we didn't shop at all last week I am taking this as a victory!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunday Lunch - Slow Cooked Beef Stew

I don't want to jinx anything but I think I can see spring peeping its head up over the horizon! Anyone else see it?

I wake up in the mornings and it is that little bit brighter, it is still light when I leave work in the evening. The air has that freshness to it that heralds the start of a new season. I love this time of year, everything starts to change and the dreariness of winter is almost behind us.

I am struggling with food though, it is still cold so I want something hearty and warm, but I've had enough of all the heavy stodgy food of winter. It is always this time of year when I try to start eating a little healthier, a little lighter, I want to come out of hibernation and feel as fresh as the spring air.

As I have said before, I am not much of a savoury cook, my repertoire is limited at best and my specialty is definitely stodgy home cooking. I feel like it has been winter for so long that I have forgotten how to cook anything other than meat, potatoes, yorkshires, pastry...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cake

Wednesday was my second outing to the now famous Clandestine Cake Club! The theme this month was "Inspired by the Silver Screen". There were loads of fabulously delicious creations on show from pistachio and rosewater (Passage to India) to strawberry daiquiri (cocktail).

The theme was a real head scratcher for me and I spent a good few days tying to think of the perfect cake.
I started off trying to think of films about cake or with cake in them, which was a bit of a fruitless task and a little unimaginative (layer cake had been taken).

I then decided to just pick a favourite film of mine and develop a recipe from it. So, I compiled a small list of my all time favourites mainly consisting of far too many musicals, a couple of oldies but goodies, a vast selection of coming of age 80s teen movies and pretty much all the Harry Potter films (except the second one which frankly isn't worth mentioning).

I wanted to focus on flavour rather than decoration and it was much harder than I thought trying to make something un-food related into cake-form. I mean how I am suppose to know what Clark Gable's mustache tasted like?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Daisy Cupcakes

I had a very busy cake-filled weekend, I was asked to make 24 cupcakes for my cousin's Christening on Sunday. I am always happy to make cupcakes for people and love nothing more than seeing people enjoy my creations.

The order was for 12 chocolate and 12 lemon cupcakes.

I used the hummingbird chocolate cupcake recipe from Cakedays, I am not a huge chocolate cake lover so don't make it too often so didn't deviate from the recipe at all. Tehy were actually really nice! I usually find chocolate cake dry and unappealing but these were moist and very chocolatey! They were a huge hit with the kids at the party! The buttercream on top was just a simple butter, cocoa powder, icing sugar combo. I never really measure buttercream I just keep adding sugar until I get the right consistency...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to my lovely readers, as I had no posts scheduled for today I decided to just wish you a delicious, chocolate filled day and also say a great big thank you for reading my blog.

I have no exciting rock and roll plans for today, just a quiet one with a few glasses of something bubbly.

How are you spending Valentines this year?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 13/02/12

I have submitted my post to the linky over at Mrs M's Blog

Last week didn't quite go to plan. The roast dinner ended up being on Monday night as we had friends over on Sunday and had Fish and Chips instead.
So the Chicken and Leek pie got pushed to Thursday and we had a few sort yourself out nights as we were busy with various projects and too busy to think about food.

On the plus side of this it means we have a few leftovers which we can carry over to next week, so shopping will be a lot cheaper!

Breaded fish with homemade chunky oven chips/wedges.

Sort yourself out night

Quorn bolognese with linguine & garlic bread

Tuna Pasta Bake

Pork Chops with garlic mash and greens

I have no weekend baking planned yet, it will probably be more spontaneous, whatever I am in the mood for.

Looking over this meal plan I already have everything I need in the freezer/cupboard so all I will need to buy for the week is cat food and packed lunch stuff! Looks like it will be a cheap week! Not ever worth doing an online shop! Bonus!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Lunch - Chicken and Leek Pie

May not win any beauty contests but was absolutely delicious!

This weeks Sunday lunch is a bit of a cheat as we didn't actually eat it on Sunday, but why mess with a nice little blog routine eh? This Sunday we had some friends over to watch a sporting event so opted for Fish and Chips from the shop around the corner. Lazy but delicious!

I seem to be on a bit of a pie kick right now, I think it is the wintery weather that has sent me spiraling into a warm blanket of pastry. It really is the ultimate comfort food. Although for the sake of my waistline I shall have to stop making it so often!

I seem to be posting my shortcrust pastry recipe a lot on the blog so I won't post it again, simply head over to last weeks pie recipe to check it out...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pinterest - A bloggers resource

I found this great article from Angie at A Whole Lot Of Nothing about Pinterest Sucess Stories and how Pinterest can increase your blog traffic.

When I shared it on twitter I had a few emails and tweets asking for more details and invites, so I thought I would write this little post to answer some of those questions in my own weird way and suggest some great UK foodies for you to follow! Also, if you would like an invite then drop me an email using the contact form here.

I first joined Pinterest in May 2011 and it very quickly became one of my favourite sites. Not only is it a beautiful piece of design but it is very cleverly constructed and incredibly easy to use.

Some of you may be asking "What on earth is Pinterest?" and if you are all I have to say is; where have you been?

Pinterest is a fast growing social network based around the premise of "pinning" images onto various "boards".

Basically a giant virtual pin board for storing all of your favourite images from around the web. The clever part is that the picture is automatically linked to the website it is pinned from, so can also help boost blog and web traffic!

You can create as many boards as you like on a variety of subjects from food (obviously) to interior design, fashion or even a wishlist for Birthdays or Christmas! Pinterest has great sharing links to Twitter and Facebook so great for giving loved ones little hints on gifts.

I also have a board entitled "Blog" which I use to post a few of my own images from my blog, I try not to pin too many as I don't want it to be just about advertising myself, but if I take a yummy picture I think people will enjoy, I pin it! And as a result Pinterest is now my 6th biggest source of page views!

So to help get people started I decided to compile a list of lovely UK foodie pinners to follow;

You can find me on Pinterest here.

Urvashi from Botanical Baker.

Amy from She Cooks She Eats.

Beth from Jam and Clotted Cream.

Amy from Cooking, Cakes and Children

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen.

Beckie from Beesteas.

Julia from Cafelula.

Ros from Roswensian.

David from I Want To Bake Free.

Laura from Cake and Feminism.

Jules from Butcher Baker.

Kaite from Katiecakes.

The Great British Baking Club is also on Pinterest.

So go forth and pin! I hope my little post has enlightened those who wanted to be enlightened. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below, if I missed anything feel free to elaborate, maybe we could get a discussion going?

Normal delicious recipe-based service will resume shortly.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A lovely surprise in the post...

When I got home from work last night I found the cutest little blue envelope on my doormat, I didn't have a clue who it could be from, as my Birthday is ages away and I wasn't expecting anything in particular.
To my absolute delight it was from the Baking Mad team who I worked with filming my episode of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. It was such a sweet gesture I just had to share it with you all.

I also want to say a HUGE thank you to the Baking Mad team for the wonderful experience and making my day really fun and memorable. A special thank you goes out to Jenny at Infinite Media for just being really lovely both via email and on the day of filming.

I literally cannot wait for my episode to be on TV and to share the whole day with you all. The series starts on the 5th of March on Channel 4 during the day. I am not sure when exactly my episode will air, but as soon as I know I will let you know. Promise.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Valentines Shortbread Biscuits

Valentines day is nearly upon us once more, people often have mixed feeling about Valentines. I personally feel it is a bit of a Hallmark holiday, and in my house it doesn't tend to be marked with any enthusiasm; a card and a nice meal in the house is plenty. Also our anniversary is on the 10th of March so we tend to save our pennies to do something then.

Like a lot of people money is a little tight at the moment so what says I love you more than a homemade gift? And me being me it had to be baked!

These delectable little shortbread biscuits are a real favourite in my house so I decided to put a valentine spin on it...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Private Pie - February

Last week saw me and a friend heading to a top secret location for my first foray into Pie Club. Similar to the Clandestine Cake Club we met up, brought pie and filled out boots! I had an absolute blast and a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Private Pie.

The venue was The Town Wall on Pink Lane, it was absolutely fabulous and I will definitely be going back there in the near future. We also had a couple of guest speakers from New Zealand Gourmet Pie. Who are a local pie company who make absolutely heavenly pies! I tried the Steak and Cheese and Minted lamb varieties and I have to say they were absolutely delicious!

Meal Planning Monday - 6/02/12

I was super duper organised this week and planned my meals and submitted my online shopping delivery order to be delivered on Sunday Morning. This weeks meals actually started on Sunday as the leftover roast dinner appears in Mondays menu.

Lunches will consist of sandwiches for the boyfriend and porridge and fruit for me. As always I am cooking for two.

Full roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings

Roast chicken and leek pie with root veg mash.

Working late and busy night so a "sort-yourself-out" night.
Normally sandwiches/ soup or ready meals.

Quorn bolognese with liguine and garlic bread

Tuna jacket potatoes, I do these by scooping out potato, mixing with tuna and a bit of grated cheddar and oven baking.

Pork Chops with roast potatoes and veg.

Weekend Baking
Gingerbread and flapjacks for lunchboxes.

All of this weeks groceries, including all ingredients for above, (I already have some things in the cupboard, such as pasta and tuna) cat food and lunches came to a total of £ 36.89 (with £5.00 for delivery)

I am quite chuffed with the low cost of this weeks shopping. Although next week I might try buying my fruit and veg and meat from Grainger Market and see how much I can save.

How much do you spend in a week on food shopping?


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday Lunch - Leftover Stew Pie.

This week saw me launch my frugal meal planning mission in a vain attempt to save some pennies and be more organised with evening meals. Ever since Christmas I have been all over the place in terms of cooking and getting myself organised after work. I suppose it makes sense that after a leisurely couple of weeks in a nice warm house with heaps of time to plan and cook nice things, getting in at 6pm after a full day at work and slaving away in the kitchen is less than appealing.

On the flip-side though, if I haven't planned something we inevitably end up grumpy, hungry and heading for the chip shop; which is bad for both the wallet and the waistline.

So, for this weeks Sunday Lunch I decided to embrace the frugality and make a leftover pie. I made a HUGE batch of pastry and split it into three, freezing two for future pies. Call me Queen of all thing frugal!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

On Sunday I decided to make a pie for our Sunday Lunch (post to come next Sunday). I also wanted to make something yummy for dessert as a treat. I use egg yolks in my pastry so had a few spare egg whites knocking about that needed to be used up... It didn't take me too long to decide to whip up some little lemon meringue pies!

Lemon Meringue Pie was actually the first ever post on this here blog! although I do like to think my skills have improved since then...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The French Oven Macarons.

This week on twitter I heard some rather exciting news, well at least I find it exciting. The French Oven in Grainger Market have started selling Macarons!
I have been looking for some in and around Newcastle for a while, and was delighted to hear that they were finally being sold somewhere!

Before watching The Great British Bake Off I had never actually heard of these little almond beauties. hangs head in shame
I did try making them myself not too long ago with some minor success but as I had never tried them before I had no idea if the ones I made were a patch on the real thing.

The French Oven in Grainger Market are selling 8 different flavours at £1 each or 8 for £6. I bought a box of 8 with one of each flavour. I have to try them all to give an honest review right?

The Flavours are; Chocolate Ganache, Pineapple Swirl, Strawberries & Cream, Chocolate Orange, Lavender & Blueberry, Mint Chocolate, Black Forrest Gateaux and Salted Caramel...
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