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Monday, 11 February 2013

Mum's finished birthday present

This should have been Mum's Christmas present but it was no where near finished then so I made sure it was finished in time for her birthday on the 13th February.

I've decided I'm much more productive if I have a couple of projects on the go at the same time but just work on one in the mornings in bed and one in the evenings on the sofa! This was my morning project. As I do a later shift at work every day I don't have to get up and ready until 9am so I wake up at 7am so I can get in a few hours stitching done in the mornings.

My mum plays bowls in the summer and is the ladies captain of the local bowls club so when I found this chart in an old CrossStitcher from a charity shop I thought it would be perfect. It is from issue 32 (July 1995) and is a bowler from the 1900s. I can't imagine it was very easy to bowl in this skirt!!

I didn't use the exact colours in the chart as it would have been too expensive to have to buy them all so just used ones I already had in my box that were close to the picture. I think she will go into the study so I mounted her into a black frame to match the other pictures in there.

I haven't mounted with a border before but I'm pretty impressed with the result. Thought I would even sign it!! I won't be giving her the picture until Sunday, this is possibly the most I have ever been prepared with a handmade present- but there is still time to misplace it before the day!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Millionaire Shortbread Cheesecake

This recipe has taken a few attempts to perfect but I think I've finally cracked it! I brought a version of this from Sainsburys once and although it tasted very yummy I thought I could do better and I think I have!

The base uses an adapted Mary Berry recipe for shortbread but I only make half the quantity. It uses a lot of butter but this is not exactly a slimming dessert as you will see!

Base ingredients:
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz cornflour
Combine all the ingredients and press into a tin. I used a deep 20cm round cake tin. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 mins at a lower heat than usual 160/gas 2 or until slightly golden. When I combined all the ingredients it was very short and wouldn't come together for me to roll out so I simply pressed it into the tin with my hands. I was a bit worried about it being too crumbly but it tasted amazing the most moutwatering shortbread I've ever eaten (I had to make extra to taste test obviously!) and didn't crumble too much when cooked. I probably wouldn't have it purely for shortbread but as a base it was perfect.

Caramel layer ingredients:
  • 397g (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 125g (4oz) butter (diced)
  • 75g (3oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • mascarpone cheese
Place all ingredients (except cheese) in a saucepan over a low heat and bring to the boil, keep boiling and stir continuously for 10-12 mins. Leave to cool slightly and stir in the cheese. It depends how deep you want this layer to be as to how much cheese you use. I normally go for a big pot! Then spoon over shortbread layer and place in the fridge to set.

Chocolate topping ingredients:
  • 80ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate
Stir cream and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Pour over caramel layer and return to fridge until you need it!

I want a slice (or two) of this just thinking about it!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Chicken and Peach Bake

When I first heard I was having this at my Godmothers house at Christmas I was a bit dubious! But it was amazing and I have had to make it again since!!

It is really simple to make and can be adapted to suit the amount of people you need to feed. It can be made the day before and just popped in the oven half an hour before you want it- sounds like the perfect dish right?!

Chicken (cooked and shredded)
Cheese (grated)
White sauce
Tinned peaches

When my Godmother cooked this for 10 of us she cooked 2 whole chickens, whereas I cooked it for 2 of us and cooked 1 chicken breast so the amount of chicken you need depends on how many people you want to feed and how generous you are feeling!

To assemble the bake you put a layer of chicken then a layer of cheese, and repeat a few times until your dish is full. You then pour the white sauce over the whole thing and layer the top with peaches (I used peach slices as thats what I had but my Godmother had halved whole peaches on hers). Pop in the oven for about half an hour until nice and hot and bubbling. The cheese melts as it cooks and the peaches go slighlty caramalised- it is just soooo yummy to eat!

My Godmother served it with rice but I made a variation with macaroni. I cooked enough macaroni for 2 people and mixed it in with the chicken before layering the dish up and it was really yummy.

Let me know if you make it or if you have already made one similar and did a different variation! Writing this had made me want to make it again!!