Muesli Recipe and a Chocolate Cake Display

Sandra V Window Display - Tecoma, VIC, AUS

Sandra V Window Display – Tecoma, VIC, AUS

Well here is my chocolate cherry cake on display at Sandra V’s. The display will be up until Mothers Day – 12th May for those who have forgotten.

I really like my cake in a window, and have a vision that one day I’ll have a huge chocolate window display with some really cool cakes, and sculptures. The ones where it makes kids and adults alike stop and stare. Until then…..

Our family muesli recipe

Our family muesli recipe

This is my recipe for homemade muesli :

* 1 1/3 cup oats
* 1 1/3 cup quick oats
* 1/3 cup almonds – roughly chopped
* 1/3 dried apricots – roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup sultanas
* 1/4 cup dried cranberries – roughly chopped
* 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) – roughly chopped
* 1/8 cup dried blueberries
* 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
* 2/3 cup bran
* 2tbsp wheatgerm

– Mix all together and put in tupperware type of cereal container.
– You can add milk, or have it with yoghurt and add fresh fruit if you wish.

I brought large quantities of the ingredients, and just repeated the recipe until I had run out. ย We ended up with 5 batches, in 2 containers. Mr Hollipops says (in his own words) “this is bloody lovely.”

It’s important to have a balanced diet with plenty of exercise, so even though I make these big chocolate cakes, which my family do on occasion get to sample or have their own, we as a family like to eat healthy and keep active.

For example, my husband runs marathons & ultra marathons, my eldest plays tennis, my youngest runs everywhere!! And I do my long distance walking. We allow ourselves some junk food, but the majority of the time it’s pretty healthy. I also make my own sauces so that I know exactly what is going into the food.

On that healthy note, I really need to start my day, things to do, and people to see.

Until then, happy baking ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

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Every Mixer Needs A Name, What Should Mine Be Called??

Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer

Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer – image supplied by Bosco Appliances.

Above is an image of my new toy, that I am expecting a delivery by the end of business hours tomorrow.

My little mixer that I purchased for $49 AUD has done well in the last 18 months, however it is now starting to protest when I start to mix larger quantities. So I have spent my time researching for a replacement. Looking at all the well-known brands and then stumbled across Bosco purely by chance.

The Bosco AS1200HD Multifunction Stand Mixer

Features:

  • Planetary mixing action.
  • Integrated suction cups on the base to ensure no movement during operation.
  • One Touch Button Automatic Dough Mixing with auto shut down.
  • Exclusive BOSCO double dough hook design for superior mixing and dough making (similar to commercial machines).
  • 4 programmed auto functions (just select a program and walk away)
  • Heavy Duty Die Cast Aluminium Housing All metal gears (front and planetary) and the gear box
  • Commercial Quality design and components
  • Sophisticated Automatic Electronic Controls with manual speed override.
  • Powerful 1200-1400 Watt motor
  • Head tilting mechanism with stainless steel reinforced arm for easy access and durability
  • Convenient one hand use “push and twist” attachments
  • Huge 6L mixing bowl made of fine stainless steel with ergonomic handle and transparent splash guard/cover
  • Robust heavy duty design to last for years
  • Overload protection
  • Up to 3 kg dry ingredient mixing capacity

Benefits:

  • Super easy to operate.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Blender, stainless steel bowl and cover are dishwasher safe.
  • Huge money-saving by having multiple appliances all in one.
  • Make your life in the kitchen much easier and pleasurable
  • Save kitchen bench space and kitchen cupboard normally used for all those appliances
  • New attachments coming soon
  • Make delicious healthy meals in minutes.
  • Save money by purchasing fresh ingredients and turn them into delicious meals with the help of your BOSCO kitchen machine
  • Great performance and reliability.
  • Heavy Duty Metal Construction Design built to last for years.
  • Makes any kitchen bench look modern and hi-tech.
  • Proudly Australian owned company.
  • After sale support even outside warranty period.

Details of the attachments included:

  • 1.5 L heavy duty glass design blender– with super strong stainless steel blades rotating at 19,000 RPM. Crushes ice in seconds. Can process hot/cold ingredients. Blends fruits/vegetables to completely homogenised consistency.
  • 0.25 L mini grinder – perfect for grinding coffee beans/nuts/herbs/spices or fruits/vegetables. Perfect attachment to make baby food.
  • Professional mincer with sausage making accessoriesย – including 3 size dies (fine, medium and coarse) to grind fresh mince in seconds. Also includes kebbeh making attachment.
  • Set of pasta extruder diesย – including angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, rigatoni. Cookie extruder attachment tool for 4 different types of cookie extrusions.

What’s in the Box:

  • AS1200HD stand mixer.
  • Blender attachment.
  • Mini Grinder attachment.
  • Whisk attachment.
  • Flat beater attachment- standard.
  • Double dough hooks.
  • Mincer attachment, feed tray with tamper, 3 mincing dies (fine, medium and coarse)
  • Pasta extruder dies.
  • Sausage tube.
  • Cookie extruder.
  • 6 litre stainless steel bowl with handle.
  • Splash guard.
  • Silicone Scraper Beater.
  • Operating instructions and quick reference guide.

To say I’m excited to test drive this would be an understatement!! I will be putting my review up on this blog in the next couple of days. As well as adding a link to Bosco Appliances.

The cost of the mixer is $439 AUD. Which is an amazing price, considering what you get for your money and considering the cost of other well-known brands, and that is before you start to add all the attachments.

So every great mixer needs a name, and I need help to find a name for this beasty. I would love to hear your suggestions.

Change of subject now, in the next week I have to make a cake to be professionally photographed to be put in a full-page ad for Melbourne Wedding & Bride Magazine. Which is an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it at first, and was thankful that I even got a phone call, when I know there are much better cake people out there than me. However I have decided to take a chance and go for it.

So I am currently trying to work out what cake design I want to do. I know that it will be chocolate as that is really the direction that I want to go in. And I can see cherry’s on the cake, big beautiful cherries, but that is as far as I’ve got. Definitely a work in progress. I will obviously put the cake up on the blog once I have finished. In fact I have to make 2 cakes as there is another ad in the same magazine, but this time I have to take the photo and add the words. No idea what I’m going to write! Or for that matter what cake design is going to be either. Deadline is on the 22nd April, so really need to be sitting down and working it out.

I will also be tweaking the blog. I am wanting to add food that is more than just cake. In the last 6 months or so I have started to make my own cleaning products, and starting to make our own breakfast muesli and bread. I want to become more self-sufficient, so to speak.

So I will be sharing, advice, tips, recipes and much more as I continue this journey. And I will be adding links that follow this same path.

On a personal note, Mr Hollipops is loving the muesli!! He has already gone through one container and is currently going through the 2nd container!

On the next blog I will add the muesli recipe and photos, as well as the Bosco Stand Mixer review. Keeping busy as always!

Until next time, happy baking ๐Ÿ™‚

Chocolate Winter Wonderland House

176There is something about working with chocolate that feels very organic.

I love how you can turn chocolate into anything, in fact I find it easier to use than fondant including turning chocolate into veggies!

Chocolate veggies

Chocolate veggies

Chocolate trees with angel, veggies and flowers

Chocolate trees with angel, veggies and flowers

This house was a special request for a local primary school, to raise end of year funds. I decided that everyone does a gingerbread house, but not chocolate. So I decided to go for a chocoholics dream ๐Ÿ™‚

The walls are chocolate with rice krispies to give the structure strength. I made 2 sheets. I then carefully cut out the template that I had drawn up.

Putting together was a simple affair, using melted chocolate as a glue.

After that it was just a matter of making it look like a house. With chocolate windows, flowers, veggie patch, and adding a lot of lollies!!!

Before the chickens were made.

Before the chickens were made

The next morning I decided that we needed chocolate candy cane looking window frames, and I was missing a mother hen and her chicks.

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Chocolate Mother Hen and her chicks

Chocolate Mother Hen and her chicks

White chocolate and marshmallow chimney

White chocolate and marshmallow chimney

Chocolate door :)

Chocolate door ๐Ÿ™‚

There is no cake inside, this was a hollow structure, it still weighed quiet a bit. I must admit I pulled a shoulder muscle carrying it up the hill to the school. Who needs the gym when cakes are my weights.

I also made a little chocolate Christmas scene for my daughters teacher for a small gift.

All Chocolate - A Mother hen's Christmas

All Chocolate – A Mother hen’s Christmas

Lastly – I’ve had a topsy turvy 2012, one that I would not wish to repeat, so I am looking forward to a new year, and a fresh start. And with that I would like to wish all that view my little blog a wonderful 2013.

Happy New Year to you all and to all a goodnight xxx

Princess Castle Cake

Princess Castle Cake

Princess Castle Cake

This is my first Princess Castle Cake. Ironically with 2 daughters neither one has asked for a castle ……. yet.

I made stain glass window, flowers, window boxes, leaves, tree and birds. The hardest bit (my fault) was doing the individual cobbles on the wall. It seem to take an age!

This was made for a friend of mine, for her niece’s 1st birthday.

Inside the cake was chocolate pound cake – I kept it simple because it was a childrens party.

It was good fun, and I love how it shines in the sun.

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The back

The back

 

This Little Piggy …..

This Little Piggy …

As most of you know that I have cut back a bit on cakes due to some unforeseen issues.

However I had an SOS call from a friend who needed a piggy cake for his wife’s 40th birthday.

I did have an idea of making a big pig rolling in mud. However when thinking about it I decided that maybe the wife didn’t want to be cutting into a pig for her birthday, especially as her husband said I think she loves pigs – definitely didn’t want to offend!

So I decided to make lots of little piggies.

All piggies are made with fondant.

Never making pigs before it was a challenge to get them right, especially as they are all quite small.

I then placed them all around the cake, with some flowers. Unfortunately the writing didn’t quite go right as the bag exploded on top of the cake. So the top-tier doesn’t look like the original idea as I had to change a few things. It came out ok, but not as good as the original plan.

So this is the final cake. I love my piggies ๐Ÿ™‚

Next cake is a week on Saturday where I have to make a beautiful pink and girly castle cake for a 1 yr old princess.

Unscheduled Vacation ……. To Hospital!

My health care board at hospital.

18th August I was diagnosed with Shingles. Which at that time I was quite surprised about. It definitely wasn’t on my to do list!!

So I slowed down, had some time off, and did as the doctors told me. I took the antiviral medication like a good girl and rested.

The shingles were located on the top of my head, with the pain radiating the left side of my scalp, forehead, temple, ear and eye. The pain was nasty, and would often have me in tears. However after a few weeks and some different medication things started to return to normal. I was still exhausted at the end of the day but I was coping.

That was until the school holidays. The first week had been fantastic, I felt good, I had only one day of head pain, I was catching up on sleep, the house was clean and the girls were entertained.

Then the girls got a virus, just some childhood virus, harmless, nothing that some Panadol (childs paracetamol) wouldn’t sort out. Then the virus got me! 28th September was when it all changed.

I went downhill so fast, I couldn’t believe it. The pain I had increased ten fold…… I could barely have my girls talking in the house, which was no fun for them in the holidays. I was so ill, and the pain was so horrific that I wasn’t functioning as a parent or anything else. I even called my husband (who works away) for the first time ever in our relationship and I asked him to come home, because by this stage I was desperate for help.

I have since been told off from many of my friends, as they didn’t know how ill I had been, because I was to proud to ask for help.

My local GP referred me to a Neurologist who recognised the symptoms of Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) which is nerve pain (neuralgia) that persists after a shingles rash has cleared.

Within a few days I was admitted to hospital for 5 treatments a day over 5 days through an Intravenous drip.

It wasn’t fun, and I hated being away from my family. I’ve never gone to hospital for an extended stay due to health issues before.

It has been a strange year for me, very busy in all areas of my life. I had a few health issues this year and I didn’t listen to my body to slow down. I just kept on going, and going, and going!!

The universe gave me many messages, warnings, red lights and I didn’t listen. Even my first official morning in the hospital I was showered, dressed and ready to do anything by 7.30am! It took 3 days for me to relax.

At hospital – resting!

During my hospital stay I had to figure out what I needed do to make changes in my life, how could I do things better, how could I be healthier.

So I am improving my diet – I’ve always made my own sauces (don’t buy jars), specifically removing the junk food element. I don’t eat a lot of it, but I am quite partial to a bar of Cadbury’s. I am now trying meditating at a local Buddhist Temple, and applying those principles at home, even if it is only 15 mins.

I am now exercising again, not excessively as I am still exhausted. I did walk about 6k today. I have also joined a gym, where there is a crรจche so that I don’t have to worry about childcare. And I am taking some vitamins on a regular basis, not when I remember.

More importantly I have to decide what is truly important in my life, and what isn’t.

Baking is staying, I love the smell of my house when I’ve baked cakes or made cookies. Nothing like walking down a driveway of a house belonging to a home baker. I have a limit to what I make this year until a full recovery is achieved.

2 weeks after I came out of hospital I made my family a chocolate fudge cake – to clear those baking cobwebs. My way of saying thank you for putting up with me in the last few weeks.

The cake was enjoyed by all, and because I had learnt some tricks of the trade, this years chocolate fudge cake, but last years to shame!

And I also achieved the Van Gogh Starry Night cake, donated to the local school to raise much-needed funds. It has taken nearly 2 days to recover from making that cake. Still having a little issue with tiredness! Which I know will go eventually once I get my energy levels improved.

I don’t normally discuss health issues on here, I try to keep it about the cakes. However on this occasion I decided to share my experience. If I had paid better attention to my body I wouldn’t have got Shingles. I had a low immunity, because I was over doing it, not eating the best, not resting, or prioritising. And I have learnt that I have to ask for help.

I allowed myself to get in a horrible place with my health. And only I was to blame.

I hope that if someone reads this and recognises that this may be happening to them, that they can do something about it, before they end up like me and have their unscheduled vacation in hospital. And with a recovery that could take up to 6 months – and that’s if I do everything right.

One last thing, if anyone has any tips or advice about how to improve energy levels I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Inspired Van Gogh ‘Starry Night’

A Starry Night

A Starry Night

Here is my version of Van Gogh Starry Night.

My canvas was chocolate cake, my paint was buttercream. My tools were piping bags, nozzles and a brush.

The rest was me. I’ve never copied a work of art, so this was definitely a new thing for me.

Technique — I made that up as I went along.

Originally I was going to do a 3 tier version, but decided against that at the last-minute, due to finding a frame big enough to hold the cake. The cake measure 17×12 inches.

It is 2 layers of chocolate pound cake, orange sugar syrup and chocolate orange buttercream.

Chocolate fondant covering

I added a chocolate fondant border made with leaves and gold shimmer spray. With the same fondant I covered the cake.

Scribed a rough image onto the cake.

I then called it a night (was getting weary). The next morning I mixed up large quantities of buttercream, which I then divided into 8 different colours. Before I started decorating I scribed a rough image onto the cake. More guideline than exact drawing.

Decoration begins..

Icing

Icing was trial and error, I kept going until I was happy with it, as you can see from the above photo, a few of stars were larger than which I rectified before taking it up to the school for their Arts Expo.

The finished cake at the School Arts Expo

I really was very calm and completely stress free during the making of this cake. And honestly I didn’t over think it, I just went with the flow.

It obviously doesn’t even compare to the original masterpiece, and I decided not to replicate the buildings (more to make my life easier). As a donated cake to help to school fund-raising I was more than happy with how it looked.

There is a little tutorial on Facebook – Hollipops Cakes.