Thursday, 28 July 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies and a Giveaway!!!

Let's talk numbers.


At last count, I had about 40 cookbooks on my book shelf...
At least 15 of those, I've never made anything from...
I have another 14 cookbooks biding their time till they become a part of my book family on my Amazon wishlist...
I have about 40 recipes bookmarked on my computer at work...
At least another 200 bookmarked on Ella Mac (my laptop)...


My (very long-winded) point is that I have lots of cook books that are brand new, that I've never cooked/baked from and if I'm honest, probably never will. So I'm going to start to give them away! 
The first book I'm giving away is called 'Indulgence Cupcakes: A Fine Selection of Sweet Treats'. Please see the bottom of this post for details on how to enter the giveaway.
Now, onto today's post. It is another recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen - whose recipes are always on point! I'm trying to take advantage of the season known as summer in other countries to make lighter, more refreshing recipes taking advantage of all the lovely fruit around and these fit the bill. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours and these cookies are bursting with it. They're also sweet and light and soft; everything a cookie should be. 


Yield - about 3 dozen cookies


Ingredients
2 and 3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies
1 - Preheat oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
2 - In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside
3 - Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
4 - Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
5 - Place the 1/2 cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball, roll the ball in sugar, and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart
6 - Bake until the cookies are slightly brown around the edges and their centers are just set and lightly coloured, 8 - 10 minutes.
7 - Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


To keep cookies soft, store them with a slice of bread in an air tight container.


Now for the GIVEAWAY!

I'm giving away the copy of 
'Indulgence Cupcakes: A Fine Selection of Sweet Treats' There is one mandatory way to enter and additional ways to gain entries into the giveaway (Tip: Each comment only counts as one entry so you're giving yourself more chances if you leave different comments for each entry. e.g. Answer the question in one comment. Tell me you're following me in a different comment etc)


CLOSING DATE - Midnight on FRIDAY 5th August


Rules and How to Enter
1) Giveaway is open to everyone with a UK mailing address
2) For the mandatory way to enter, leave a comment below telling me what your favourite cupcake flavour is.
3) For another entry, follow my blog using the Google Friend Connect 'Follow' button on the right of my blog. Leave a separate comment to tell me you have done this or if you are already following.
4) For yet another entry, follow me on Twitter @vickii373 and leave a comment here to tell me you are following me on Twitter and what your username is. Let me know if you're already following me.


GOOD LUCK!!!!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Orange Pound Cake and Me, Me, Me!

I know you guys lie awake at night, thinking to yourselves; "What I want most in the world is to know more about Vickii ..." Well, consider your wish my command, because this post is mostly about me! Ha ha, only kidding. Kind of.  I saw this on another blog (can't remember which one) and thought it would be fun to do - so enjoy, and feel free to judge me as harshly as you want.


Today's post is an orange pound cake that I made for church a few weeks ago when the weather was so lovely, I wanted to bake something with a refreshing zesty flavour. A lot of people thought it was lemon drizzle cake which is interesting as I think it is quite distinctively orange. But either way, it is a gorgeous pound cake. Soft and moist and fabulously citrusy yet not overwhelmingly so. Enjoy!


 1. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
Totally! I'm a great friend.
2. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
A lot compared to who? Actually, it doesn't matter, yes I use sarcasm a lot. In fact, I think  I'm genetically incapable of opening my mouth without being sarcastic. 
3. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Yup
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
Does bacon count?
5. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Probably not. I don't really get the point of jumping off somewhere really high just to bounce up and down and dangle after. Jumping out of a plane, now that I get.
6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
The cereal formerly known as Cinnamon Grahams. I've introduced so many people to it! It is  soooo good that I don't think it can technically be referred to as cereal. More like crunchy dessert.
7. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
Only my running shoes because apparently it's bad to tug them off your feet while they're still laced up.
8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
One of the American Ben & Jerry's flavours. I can't choose. That's like asking me to pick a favourite child. (I don't have kids but I imagine that would be hard ;p)
9. RED OR PINK?
Pink - despite vehemently fighting it, it turns out I'm quite a girly girl
10. WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO ON YOUR NEXT VACATION?
Hawaii. Or Cape Town. I wouldn't say no to Tahiti either. Or Thailand.
11. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
Camel coloured boots.
12. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
A jam sandwich for breakfast.
13. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
Yellow!
14. FAVORITE SMELLS?
I have LOTS of favourite smells. The sea. The smell of yummy baking. Stella McCartney's Stella perfume. Jo Malone's Nectarine and Honey perfume. Davidoff's cool water on men. The smell of caramelising onions. Freshly brewed coffee.... I could go on forever
15. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My mum
16. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Football during the World or European cups17. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
Nope
18. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings.
19. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Going The Distance. It wasn't as good the second time around.
20. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
I'm wearing a strappy top in a colour best described as some shade of yellow.
21. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
'I'm reading 'The Nanny Returns' - sequel to 'The Nanny Diaries'. I wouldn't recommend it.
22. FAVORITE SOUND?
The sound of waves crashing on a beach.
23. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Depends on which is further from London; California or Vancouver?
24. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU WATCHED ON TV?
Probably 'Come Dine with Me'.
Recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients

For the Pound Cake
226g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra - large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated orange zest (from 6 oranges)
3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Orange Syrup
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar

For the Orange Glaze
2 cups icing sugar
4 - 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 - Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F. Grease bottom and sides of two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Line the bottoms with grease proof paper (optional).
2 - Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the orange zest.
3 - In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
4 - In another small bowl, combine orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla.
5 - Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternatively to the butter and sugar mixture; beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until combined, not too long.
6 - Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes
7 - While the loaves are cooling, make the orange syrup by combining the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat.
8 - Remove loaves from tin and place on a wire rack positioned over a baking sheet. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves. 
9 - Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the orange syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely.
10 - To make the orange glaze, in a small bowl whisk together the icing sugar and 4 tablespoons of the orange juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of orange juice if the mixture is too stiff.
11 - Pour the orange glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the orange glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Mojito cupcakes and My Favourite Books Reviewed Part 1

Good morning :)
As I explained in this post, I'm an avid reader. And I'm going to start reviewing some of my favourite books of all time on here thereby incorporating two of my favourite things; eating baking and reading. And writing. Okay, make that three of my favourite things. 


However, don't let my enthusiastic book review distract you from today's cupcakes because they're absolutely scrumptious! Even if I do say so myself. My housemate proclaimed them her favourite of all the many, many cupcakes I have made. I chose to be flattered rather than indignantly insulted on behalf of all the other cupcakes :)



The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory
Have you ever read a Jackie Collins book? If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and beg, borrow or steal one. If you have, then you’ll understand what a treat you are in for when I say The other Boleyn Girl is just like a Collins book, except it has more substance, it is set in the 16th century, and it features deviant monarchs and courtiers instead of rock royalty and pop princesses.

This definitely isn’t your typical boy meets girl story. For one, the boy is King Henry VIII - he of the six wives fame – and the girl is Anne Boleyn. The boy is already married to Queen Katherine of Aragon and before falling for Anne, he had an affair with her sister; Mary. Oh, did I forget to mention that Mary was married at the time and her husband all too aware that she was the King’s mistress?

In a nutshell, this novel is the story of Anne’s rise to the throne as Queen of England, told through her sister’s eyes. This is a genius move on Gregory’s part as it gives a personal and spectacularly fascinating (albeit fictional) insight into a historical saga that most of us are at least vaguely familiar with. Anne herself is truly one of the most interesting characters ever to grace the pages of a book. She is extremely intelligent, and the relentless ambition with which she first gets the King’s attention, and the rather crazed dedication with which she holds it for several years while he tries to get a divorce from Katherine – and all without sleeping with the famously lusty King – make for fascinating reading.

Scandalous and enlightening, this is a must-read for anybody who thinks palace life in Tudor England was boring. This is such an interesting and remarkably well written book that you will be torn between devouring it every spare minute you get and savouring every last word because you know that reaching the end of this book might be the last time in a long while you read anything this brilliant. As for me, if it is even half as good as this book, I am planning to make ‘The Tudors’ (also about Henry VIII) my new TV addiction. 



Makes 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes - recipe from Alpine Berry


Ingredients


1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
3/4 cup whole milk, hot
113g unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup golden caster sugar
2 eggs
grated zest of 2 limes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rum (optional)


1 - Preheat oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F
2 - Add mint leaves to hot milk. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Pour milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Press liquid from mint leaves. Discard leaves and allow milk to cool slightly
3 - Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4 - In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
5 - Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. 
6 - Mix in lime zest, vanilla and rum (if using)
7 - On a very low speed, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and ending with flour, mixing until just incorporated
8 - Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and half fill each liner with cake batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 18 - 22 minutes
9 - Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely.
For the frosting


Ingredients


225g softened cream cheese
1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar
2 cups icing sugar
2 cups whipping or double cream
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp fresh lime juice


1 - Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, lime juice, lime zest and brown sugar until light and creamy and the sugar completely incorporated. 
2 - Add the icing sugar and beat for another couple of minutes
3 - Beat the whipping/double cream in a separate bowl until very thick
4 - Add the cream to the cream cheese mixture and whip for a minute or two until thoroughly combined
5 - Frost cupcakes

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Weight Watchers Mini Double Choc Chip and Orange Cookies and Giveaway Winner!

First things first, the winner of my giveaway (picked by using random.org) to win a copy of James Ramsden's 'Small Adventures in Cooking' was this comment:

YAY a giveaway!!!

Hmm considering I have never really tried to impress anyone with my cooking ... ( or maybe I have) ... I guess it'll have to be my chicken/salmon fried rice (its always on demand and it is so easy and fast to make! Oh and EXTREMELY TASTY :-P) 

Twitter follower.
beelatweets

Congratulations Beelatweets!!!

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And for today's recipe:
Recipe Source - Weight Watchers Your Week Magazine

5 Pro Points per 4 cookies
Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients
100g low fat spread
10g artificial sweetener
1 egg, beaten
Grated zest of 1 orange
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
40g milk chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips)

1 - Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C/fan oven 160C
2 - Beat the low fat spread and the sweetener together until combined (about 2 minutes)
3 - Beat in the egg, a little at a time, and then beat in the orange zest
4 - Combine the flour and cocoa powder into the low fat spread and beat in until combined, then stir in half of the chocolate chips. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or until starting to firm up
5 - Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and set aside
6 - Scoop 24 teaspoons of the cookie mix onto the baking trays, spacing the spoonfuls well apart, then pat into flat rounds with your fingertips - the dough will be sticky, so be gentle as you pat them into shape
7 - Press in the remaining chocolate chips and bake for 15 minutes until crisp. 
8 - Leave to cool and store in an airtight container. They will keep for 2 - 3 days.