My first attempt at sugar cookies

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I see sugar cookies all the time on social media. Birthday sugar cookies, baby shower sugar cookies, wedding sugar cookies, Christmas sugar cookies. I can’t seem to get away from them when I’m scrolling through Pinterest, but I’ve never actually had a go at making my own sugar cookies before. Well, until now that is.

I get the impression that sugar cookies are a much bigger thing in the US than they are here in the UK. The only time I’ve eaten sugar cookies before is back when I was at Primary school; my mum has a friend who grew up in Hawaii, and she always made sugar cookies for us to decorate when we went round to her house. (Side note: I loved going round to her house.)

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So, armed with a bit of spare time and some good old nostalgia, I decided to have a go at baking my own sugar cookies. My mum’s friend was kind enough to give me her recipe, so I was able to make the exact same yummy cookies that I remember eating as a kid.

I was really pleased with how these cookies turned out for a first attempt. They tasted just like I remember, and were perfect for icing. I decided to keep things pretty simple and go with a butterfly design for these cookies, but I’m excited to experiment and see what other designs I will be able to come up with using some different cookie cutters.

I’m already planning on making some of these for my 21st birthday party next week, so I’ll be uploading a recipe soon! I’m hoping to have a go at making some cacti cookies, what do you think?!

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Have you ever made sugar cookies? Do you agree that they’re way more popular in the States?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Parkin Cake

This traditional Parkin Recipe is everything you could want for your Bonfire Night celebrations! Dense, sticky and sweet, filled with Autumnal spices, this is the perfect fall recipe.

Hi guys! As some of my readers will know, it is Bonfire Night this week! For my international readers, Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Night) is an annual celebration here in Britain on the 5th of November.

Typically us Brits will spend Bonfire Night huddled around a bonfire, freezing our you-know-whats off and watching fireworks; all to celebrate that some guy failed to blow up parliament back in 1605.

I actually love bonfire night. Most years, my family and I make our way down to a local bonfire and fireworks display that is held on a nearby park. It’s one of the most popular fireworks displays in my town, and there’s usually a few thousand people who attend.

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Bonfire night wouldn’t be complete, however, without some traditional edible goodies! Foods such as honeycomb, treacle toffee and Parkin cake are very popular on November 5th (at least in my household!).

Parkin cake is a dense, sticky cake which is very popular in Lancashire and Yorkshire. It’s similar to ginger cake, and contains oats to give it a unique texture. With ginger, nutmeg and mixed spice, Parkin cake is what can only be described as the perfect autumnal comfort food.P1230439

Fancy making your own Parkin? Find my recipe below:

Ingredients:

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 80g oat flakes
  • 10g ground ginger
  • 2.5g ground nutmeg
  • 2.5g mixed spice
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 50g black treacle
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 10ml milk (I’d recommend using full fat or semi-skimmed milk- not skimmed)

Method:

  1. As per usual, start by preheating your oven. For this recipe you want a temperature of 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Sieve your flour and the three spices into a bowl. Add your oats and combine.
  3. Place your butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a pan. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon until all your butter and sugar has melted. Bring your mixture to a simmer, still stirring but do not allow it to boil!
  4. Remove your syrup mixture from the heat and mix it into your dry ingredients.
  5. Crack your egg into a cup and beat with a fork, before adding the milk. Pour you egg/milk mix into the rest of your mixture. Combine thoroughly before pouring your mix into your prepared cake tin.
  6. Bake your Parkin cake for around 1 hour 15 minutes. Mine usually takes between 1 hour 10 minutes and 1 hour 25 minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on it. When fully baked it should be firm in the centre.
  7. Leave your cake to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to fully cool.

I find Parkin is better if left in an air tight container for a few days before eating, a week is best. This will allow it to become really sticky and moist (oo-er). Seriously though, this stuff is so good.

Parkin also tastes great served warm with ice cream. Whatever you fancy really! 🙂

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I’d definitely recommend that you give this traditional Lancashire treat a try- you won’t be disappointed!

I hope you’re all having wonderful days,

Maddie x

Slow cooker roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup

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Hello everybody! Today’s post is my first proper recipe. As in, this recipe doesn’t involve the word ‘cake’ anywhere. (Except right there, because I do love cake, and couldn’t go a whole recipe post without mentioning it).

Today I am bringing you my homemade roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup. This soup is vegetarian, vegan and super healthy, as well as being so easy to make for a soup novice such as myself. Being a student, I find that it’s hard to find cheap and healthy meals, whilst also keeping enough time for all that important studying (or drinking alcohol, whatever’s your jam really). Plus, there are few things as satisfying as coming home to a hot bowl of tomato soup at this time of year- especially with all that Fresher’s Flu flying around!

My timetable this year involves an absolute shedload of five o’clock lectures, which only finish at six. I’m the type of person who likes to eat pretty early, so I can keep my evening free for yoga and blogging, so I wanted some quick and easy meal ideas that I could be eating within five minutes of walking in the door; after a bit of thought, I decided to get a slow cooker. Luckily enough for me, my gran owned a small, two person one which she never used. Being the best gran in the world, she decided to give it to me.

Today’s recipe was my first time using a slow cooker, and I was so impressed by how easy it was! I don’t know what I expected really, like, it literally does what it says on the tin, it cooks food slowly. But I’m the sort of person who gets excited over mundane things like managing to use a slow cooker without my uni accommodation burning down, so I was pretty impressed.

I prepared this soup in the morning before leaving for my lectures, and left it in the slow cooker for about seven hours. I’d say 6-8hrs would do the job perfectly, great for students like me who are only getting home late. To save even more time, you could always roast your red pepper in advance, or used the preprepared sort.

So what do you do? Find my recipe below:

Ingredients (makes enough soup for two people, so for my slow cooker size. You can easily double the ingredients for a larger slow cooker!):

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 220g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika (approx 1/2tsp)
  • Ground cumin (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • 60g red lentils
  • 375ml boiling vegetable stock
  • Black pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. If you have not already done so, begin by roasting your red pepper. Cut it in half, remove the seeds and place on a tinfoil lined baking tray, with the inside of the pepper facing down. Drizzle with some olive oil and place in the oven on 180C/ 356F/ Gas mark 4, for approximately 20 minutes,
  2. When your pepper is almost roasted, so that the skin has turned brown and began to look loose, fry your onions in some olive oil. Fry for about five minutes, until they have begun to look translucent.
  3. Add your paprika and cumin. (I use approximate quantities here because I usually just throw everything in and see how it turns out!) Add your chopped tomatoes and your lentils.
  4. Bring your mixture to the boil.
  5. When your peppers are roasted, remove them from the oven. Leave until cool enough to handle, then pull the skins off. They should come off pretty easily. Chop up your peppers and add them to your mixture.
  6. Make your vegetable stock. Pour your soup mixture into your slow cooker before pouring your boiling vegetable stock on top and mixing it all together.
  7. Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8hrs.
  8. Before serving, blend your soup if you wish (I always have my soup blended!). If you own a hand blender, a good idea is to blend the soup while it is still in the slow cooker. This helps save on washing up!
  9. Season as you wish and garnish with coriander if desired. I like to serve my soup with lots of black pepper and some granary bread!

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Well there you have it guys, my first every proper recipe post! What did you think? Would you be interested in seeing more of what I eat as a student? Let me know in the comments! 

As always, thanks for reading!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

 

Homemade salted caramel sauce

This salted caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your fall sweet treats! Pair it with apple crumble, cheesecake or on top of cupcakes for the perfect Autumn dessert combo! Best of all, it only uses four ingredients!

Hello my lovely readers! 

Are we all loving this Autumn weather at the moment or is it just me? Jason and I arrived back to (very) rainy Manchester on Wednesday evening following our week long stay in France. Despite the beautiful weather we had while we were there (I was applying suncream by the bucket load), it’s always nice to come back to England and snuggle down under the extra layers of blankets that I have added to my bed in preparation for the winter months. Maybe I’m just strange though…

However, even if you don’t enjoy the wet and windy weather that most of us will be experiencing in the coming months, you’re sure to find some respite with today’s recipe. Introducing to you, my homemade hot salted caramel sauce.

This salted caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your fall sweet treats! Pair it with apple crumble, cheesecake or on top of cupcakes for the perfect Autumn dessert combo! Best of all, it only uses four ingredients!

This caramel sauce is the perfect topping for ice cream, but I find it also pairs wonderfully with spiced cake and apples at this time of year. I’m not a huge lover of caramel, I find it a bit too sickly for my taste, but this sauce is perfect on top of a dense ginger cake or similar; and full of Autumn flavours in my opinion!

Even better, this salted caramel sauce requires only four ingredients! It’s super easy to make and super tasty to eat- what could be better, right?

Also, no toffee thermometer required! Pretty good, huh?

If you fancy making your own, find my recipe below!

This salted caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your fall sweet treats! Pair it with apple crumble, cheesecake or on top of cupcakes for the perfect Autumn dessert combo! Best of all, it only uses four ingredients!

Ingredients (makes approximately 240ml/ 1 cup):

  • 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 90g (6 tbs) salted butter, room temperature and cubed. (You could also just use unsalted butter if you did not wish to make salted caramel sauce)
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) double/heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1tsp salt

Method:

  1. Begin by heating your sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Make sure you stir constantly in order to prevent your sugar from burning, use a wooden spoon. As your sugar melts it will turn a lovely amber colour. Continue to stir it continuously.
  2. Once all of your sugar has melted, add your cubed butter. (Take care at this step as your mixture will bubble when you add the butter).
  3. Continue to stir your caramel until all of your butter has melted. This will usually take about 3 minutes.
  4. Now you can add your cream. Do this very slowly, drizzling the cream and taking great care as the caramel will bubble as you do so. Once all of your cream is added, bring your mixture to the boil. Let it bubble for one minute before removing from the heat.
  5. Stir in your salt et voila! There you have it, your own homemade caramel sauce. Super easy, right?
  6. Allow your sauce to cool before using. If stored in an airtight container, this sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe today guys! I think caramel sauce is such a great addition to most bakes at this time of year; add it to apple crumble, use it as a cake topping or drizzle it on a cheesecake for an autumnal twist. You could also package it up in jars with some hessian/burlap ribbon for a cute and unique gift idea! 

If you do choose to store your sauce in the fridge, you will have to warm it up in a microwave or on the stove before you serve it in order to allow it to soften. I find 5 second bursts in a microwave work well.

This salted caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your fall sweet treats! Pair it with apple crumble, cheesecake or on top of cupcakes for the perfect Autumn dessert combo! Best of all, it only uses four ingredients!

Best wishes to you all, I hope you’re having a wonderful day,

Maddie x

Super tasty lemon cupcake recipe

These super tasty cupcakes are any lemon lovers dream- filled with zesty lemon curd and topped with tangy lemon buttercream!

Hi guys! Following on from my classic vanilla spongecake recipe last week, I thought it’d be a good idea to share my lemon cupcake recipe with you all! This recipe is probably one of my favourite cupcake recipes of all time, and I’ve returned to it time and time again. I actually made a large sandwich cake version of this back for Jason and I’s one year anniversary; we’re now due to celebrate four years this month.

These mouthwateringly moist cupcakes are filled with a tangy lemon curd centre and topped off with a swirl of lemon buttercream- a lemon lovers dream! Be warned though: these are so light and airy, you might eat the whole batch!

Fancy making your own? Find the recipe below:

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • A lemon
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 oz unsalted butter or margarine (I use Stork margarine for all my bakes)
  • 4 oz caster sugar

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If you’d like to make your own lemon curd to go inside the cupcakes, find my recipe here! You will need:

  • A lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • 2oz unsalted butter

For the buttercream, you will need:

  • Half a lemon
  • 8oz icing sugar (sifted)
  • 4 oz margarine

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Method (makes 12 cupcakes):

  1. Line a cupcake tin with twelve cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 190C fan/375F/gas mark 5.
  2. Cream together the butter/margarine and sugar. Add the zest and juice from the lemon.
  3. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, before sieving in the flour.
  4. Fold the mixture together before spooning into the prepared cupcake cases and popping in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes have turned a golden brown and you can place a skewer inside the cake and pull it out clean.
  5. Place on a cooling rack to cool.

If making your own lemon curd, do so now using this recipe.

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Once your cakes and lemon curd have cooled, cut a small circle out of the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with lemon curd before placing the top of the cake back on.

Now you can make the buttercream:

  1. Cream your margarine and icing sugar together using a wooden spoon, at least until the icing sugar is thoroughly mixed in. You may now go in with an electric whisk to speed up the process.
  2. Add the juice of half a lemon and combine.

Once you have done this, you can pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of each cake! Ta da! Now go and enjoy your homemade lemon cupcakes!

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Top tip: If you wish to make a large sandwich cake version of this like I did for my anniversary, multiply your quantities by 1.5 and place the mixture in two circular cake tins, lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Pssst… If you liked this post, why not share it on your social media or pin it on pinterest?

 

One month of blogging!

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Wow, that went fast! A Little Mad Smith is one month old today (can we get a hip hip hooray?) and I just wanted to share a little post to say thank you so much to all my lovely followers and readers of this blog. Your support over this past month has meant the world to me- I am over the moon to see that my blog has been received with so much love all over the world! I never would’ve thought that people in hometown would have been at all interested in my craft projects and recipes, let alone people on the other side of the globe! So thank you to all who have shared, liked and commented on my posts, and thank you, yes you, for taking the time to read this.

I hope I can continue to produce content that you find interesting, entertaining and inspiring. I already have a thousand crafty ideas and tasty recipes that I am dying to get stuck into and share with you all in the near future, so I do hope you stick around!

As a little celebration of our one month birthday, I’ve put together some of my favourite posts from over the past four weeks. I hope you can find something that inspires you to get crafty and try something new!

Fabric Flowers DIY– This is one of my favourite mini sewing projects of all time. I love the vintage look of these and they’re a great method of using up excess fabric. I also think that they make a beautiful addition to any handbag.

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DIY Photo Holders- This DIY was a super simple project that produced great results! And all you need is a pebble, some paint and a bit of wire. What could be better?

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Peanut butter and Chocolate Cupcakes- I cannot describe to you how good these tasted, but believe me when I say, they were goooood. Like, seriously, you need to try these.

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DIY Patchwork cushion cover– This beautiful DIY is a great project for those wanting to try out patch working, and its a great way of using up scraps of fabric. I love how this turned out.

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Domino’s style cookiesThe inspiration behind this bake was my favourite fast food cookies. Served warm, these soft squishy cookies are truly divine. Why not give them a try?

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DIY painted glass lanterns– This DIY is a great project for the kids to get involved with. A great way of using up excess jars, my DIY glass lanterns are the perfect addition to any evening garden party.

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Drawstring bag DIY– Drawstring bags are so useful and so versatile! My drawstring bag DIY gives a simples method for making your own drawstring bag that can easily be adapted into a child’s PE kit bag ready for back to school.

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Well there you have it guys, just a selection of some of my favourite blog posts from over this past month. I hope you enjoy them if you didn’t see them first time round, and please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see up on the blog over this next month! In the meantime, remember that there’s plenty of other projects to keep you busy in the craft and food sections of my blog- why not have a look?

I’m always looking for new ideas and crafty inspiration.

Hugs and best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

Homemade strawberry and blackberry jam

Homemade jam!

Hi guys! So, on Monday I had the day off and decided to go blackberry picking. I live just next to some woods so there’s always LOADS of blackberries growing nearby at this time of year, but until Monday I hadn’t actually been blackberry picking in years. I used to go all the time with my gran when I was younger, but since I’ve been a teenager I don’t think I’ve been. And my teenage years are over next month, so we’re talking quite a while.

But anyway, for some unknown reason on Monday I had the desire to go pick some blackberries. I did manage to get my hands on quite a few, until I had the misfortune of seeing a spider; this resulted in me jumping about two feet in the air and dropping half of my pickings. But still, I came home with ample blackberries for making some strawberry and blackberry jam, which is what I’ll be sharing with you today! 🙂

I’d never made jam before, but I actually found that it was a much easier process than I had been expecting (yay!). This recipe produces a soft jam with lots of juicy bits- and it tastes divine! Super sweet and summery, perfect for this time of year.  Fancy making your own? Find my recipe below:

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Ingredients (makes two small jars of jam): 

  • A 700g mix of strawberries and blackberries. I used 600g of strawberries and 100g of blackberries.
  • 700g granulated sugar
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • A knob of butter (optional)

It doesn’t matter what mix of strawberries and blackberries you use, as long as the combined weight is the same as the weight of the sugar.

Method:

  1. Sterilise your jam jars. Place your jars in the sink and pour boiling water inside them. Let them sit for a few minutes before rinsing and leaving to dry. When dry, pop them in a warm oven.
  2. Wash your berries. Remove the stalks from your strawberries by cutting a small cone shape in the top, and cut them in half (you can cut your strawberries into smaller pieces for a finer jam, but I liked the chunkier consistency). Note: If you are using blackberries from the wild like I did, first soak them in a bowl of salted water for a couple of hours. This will cause any small bugs or worms that may be in your blackberries to float to the top, where you can them scoop them out with a spoon. Rinse well with clean water following soaking them.
  3. Place your berries and sugar in a large saucepan. Mash your fruit with a potato masher to form a sort of pulp, and fold in your sugar. Add the juice of half a lemon if you wish.
  4. Bring your fruit and sugar to the boil on a low heat. This is very important, you want a gentle boil that isn’t rushed. When the fruit starts to bubble, you will see a froth form on the top.
  5. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the mixture bubble for about ten minutes. Add your knob of butter if using and let it sit on top of the mixture. It will help get rid of some of the froth. If not all of the froth goes, scoop it out with a spoon. Take the jam off the heat.
  6. To see if your jam is cooked enough, place a small spoonful on a plate and pop this is the fridge for a couple of minutes. If the jam is not runny when you remove the plate, your jam does not need further cooking. If your jam runs when you tilt the plate, bring it to the boil again and simmer for a further two minutes.
  7. Your jam is now ready to be poured into your jars. Spoon your jam into your prepared jam jars, which should be nice and warm following being in the oven. Pop the lids on and leave to cool, before placing in the fridge.

Ta da! It’s that easy. I will definitely be making jam again and trying out some new flavours, I really was impressed by the ease of the process and the tastiness of the result!

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Have you tried making jam before? Did you process differ from mine? Please let me know! I’d love to know what recipes other people use.

That’s all from me today, I hope you’re all having wonderful Wednesdays!

Best wishes,

Maddie.