What I’m Loving Lately–January 2016

will

Welcome to the first edition of the What I’m loving lately blog linkup. If you have a product/movie/book/restaurant review or just things you’ve been up to lately and you’d like to write a post and link up here, please do. I’ll leave the linkup open for a week, so don’t feel you need to rush out and have a post written today. Also don’t feel that there’s any limit to the number of things you can include in your blog post, it could be one thing, or a dozen. Please use this opportunity to share with other bloggers things they may not know about you and your likes and dislikes – I started this as a fun way to get to know what my fellow bloggers are interested in.

  • All the true crime! – I cannot get enough true crime lately, since listening to the Serial podcast last year. I’ve progressed to a few other podcasts like Missing Maura Murray, Generation Why and Thinking Sideways, but I’ve also binge watched Making a Murderer and The Jinx over the last few weeks. Hoping that Serial Season 2 will get a bit more interesting than it has been so far (even though I think the Bowe Bergdahl story is way more interesting than Adnan’s at face value).
  • Australian Open – January is the time of year where for two weeks straight, Aaron and I are glued to the telly. We rarely watch live tv at all otherwise, preferring online catch up tv once the kids are in bed. I’m a bit sad that Nadal went out so early, because he’s always been a favourite of mine to watch, but we were blessed to have quite a few Aussies who were very entertaining in the early stages, especially fellow Canberran Nick Kyrgios. I’m hoping that someone will knock the top seeds out this year, whether Federer or Murray with beat Djokovic and if anyone will be good enough to take out Serena Williams.
  • Beerenberg Caramelised Onions – This stuff is amazing! We’ve been enjoying a fair few patty melts (hamburger served on toasted rye with melted cheddar cheese, onions and mustard) over the last month and have replaced the normal grilled onions with a nice spoonful of this relish. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to having patty melts any other way!
  • The Bachelor (US) – My guilty pleasure, I’m really enjoying watching the current season of The Bachelor with Ben Higgins. I’ve never really liked the people who are chosen to be the bachelor or bachelorette, but Ben does seem to be a genuinely nice guy. I found it quite cringe worthy watching him go in for kisses with the women the first time around. He looked so awkward! Thankfully it has gotten a lot better. My pick for who Ben will choose atm – Becca! She came so close to being Chris’s choice, and I reckon she seems a lot more confident this time around. And they are so cute together. =)
  • Peters Light & Creamy Cookies & Cream Ice Cream – Seriously, is there any point having any flavour of ice cream other than cookies & cream?! This is my absolute favourite, and I’ve been known, especially on a hot day, to have 2 bowls of this for dessert because I just can’t get enough.
  • Evening walks with my 10 year old – I’ve been going out with Caleb for an hour long walk (almost) every evening after dinner this year and it’s been a great way to reconnect with him and hear all about what he’s into atm while getting some fresh air and exercise. Sure, I may not be as interested as he is in Minecraft or Lego Bionicle or the Star Wars parody movie that the kids want to make with their cousins, but I love listening to his enthusiasm and loves that he wants to talk to me. I sort of expect him to be reluctant to come out each evening, but instead I’m finding that he’ll have his shoes on ready to go before I’ve even mentioned it. He is such a treasure and is growing up way too fast!

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on


With Some Grace

Australia Day jelly cakes

Happy Australia Day everyone! We’ve been busy celebrating today with a free breakfast in Commonwealth Park here in Canberra, watching the flag ceremony and the flyover and the 21 cannons go off. How about everyone else?

I saw this idea on Kidspot.com.au for making jelly cakes a while back and thought it would be fun to make green and gold ones for Australia Day with the kids. Usually we’re making a big pavlova, but given the hot and humid weather, I really didn’t feel like turning our oven on if we didn’t have to (and then we decided to make homemade sausage rolls – ahh well!). This recipe is so quick and easy and the possibilities are endless. Oh and there super yummy too. =)

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All you need are three ingredients: store bought sponge cake, jelly/jello, and desiccated coconut. We used pineapple and lime jelly to make our green and gold ones, but you can use whatever colour or flavour you’d like. Make up the jelly as per the instructions on the packet and refrigerate until jelly is eggwhite consistency. Cut up your sponge into fingers, dip into the jelly until it’s nicely coated the cake, then roll in coconut and refrigerate until set. How easy is that!

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

We really enjoyed this tropical summer twist on the traditional lamington and can’t wait to try it again maybe with strawberry jelly for a little girl’s tea party or to take along to playgroup.

Don’t forget to come back on Thursday to join in on the first What I’m Loving Lately linkup party. If you want to find out more, click here. =)

This post was submitted to the IBOT linkup. Please check out some of the other posts submitted this week here.

Demystifying the coffee frappe

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Espresso shot…mysterious white powder…ice…milk…blend! I have watched baristas make coffee frappes this way countless times, but you know what?! I’ve got a simpler way that is way cheaper and doesn’t require any special white powder and you don’t need an industrial blender in order to prevent the odd clumps of ice cubes at the bottom of your glass. Enter vanilla ice cream!

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Really that’s all a frappe is – a coffee thickshake. And my husband makes the best ones! All he does is fill a glass with ice cream, pour over a shot of espresso, add milk to about 3/4 of the way full and blitzes it with our stick blender.

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Voila! Homemade coffee frappe for a fraction of the cost…super thick and creamy and icy cold! And of course you can flavour it however you like…by using flavoured coffee…flavoured syrups…or even flavoured ice creams. The combinations are endless!

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Do you have any food hacks that demystify a store bought fave?

What I’m loving lately–a new monthly linkup!

will

So I’ve decided to start my own linkup party. There are quite a few American blogs that I love dearly that have regular posts with the theme ‘What I’m loving lately’ and they are honestly some of my favourite blog posts to read. You find so many cool and random things about the bloggers whose blogs you’re reading and things that they’re into that you might also be interested in.

Basically all you do is come up with a short collection of things that you want to share or link to as a way to recommend them to your readers and blog about it. Then of course link that post up here with everyone else’s. This can be a good way to easily generate a blog post and drive traffic to your blog that may not find you in a ‘Wordless Wednesday’ style post or a general blog linkup.

I thought I’d start this as a monthly linkup because I think weekly may be too daunting (and not sure if I’d have enough new stuff to share with you all that I’d be excited about). I’m planning that the first linkup will be on the 28th of January and thereafter on the last Thursday of the month – so please join in on the fun with me!

This post was submitted to the IBOT linkup. Please check out some of the other posts submitted this week here.

With Some Grace

Sweetest Moments of 2015: April

This was a big month as my sister-in-law turned 40 and we helped cater for her Alice in Wonderland high tea party. Aaron and I teamed up to make the most fabulous birthday cake we’ve ever done – Magnolia Bakery’s red velvet cake done with this vanilla buttercream icing.

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

We actually had planned to use my favourite Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, but thanks to the weather, it split and looked like we were trying to ice the cake in scrambled egg. So I had to make a mad dash to Woolies to buy more icing ingredients and ended up with just a basic vanilla buttercream, which everyone loved, but was seriously not up to par with the cake itself. (BTW how cute is this little teapot that my sister-in-law had in her hutch. Was the perfect cake topper!)

Here are a few of the other goodies we made for the party – vanilla slice, coconut ice and melting moments!

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Our nephew shares his mum’s birthday so we had to do a cake for him as well, but since we were so busy with baking for her party, we decided to cheat a little and made this ice cream cake bombe.

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It’s super simple to make. Buy a packet of the three color jam rolls and a 2 litre tub of neapolitan ice cream and some cheap strawberry topping and chocolate topping. Cut the rolls into circles and arrange in a large mixing bowl that has been lined with cling wrap. Then layer the different flavours of ice cream with the toppings in between – so we did strawberry ice cream, chocolate topping, vanilla ice cream, strawberry topping and lastly chocolate ice cream. Cover with cling wrap and press flat into the bowl. Freeze several hours and invert and unwrap just before serving.

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Easy peasy no bake cake and a real crowd pleaser!

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

Our wedding anniversary was a bit of a non event this year as Aaron was at a job interview, so I solo parented the 3 kids who were on school holidays. Luckily it lines up with Ben & Jerrys Free Cone Day so the kids and I took a trip to Woden for a yummy free treat!

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on


Finally, since it was school holidays, I took Noah out for another coffee and cake adventure. This time we went to Gloria Jeans because they’d been advertising a Rocky Road chiller I thought Noah would love. I was right, but to my surprise the big star was this salted caramel cheesecake that Noah said he wanted us to make him for his 12th birthday in July. More on that later!

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

With Some Grace

How we made Caleb’s 10th birthday cake

Hi everyone! So after making you drool for 24 hours over the cake we made for Caleb’s 10th birthday, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

Firstly, can I ask…have you bought The Complete Magnolia Bakery cookbook yet? Seriously, if not, get it. I’ve given it as gifts to both my mom and my mother-in-law and if it weren’t for purchasing mine on kindle, I’m sure mine would be well and truly decked out in flour and sugar and milk and eggs and butter stains by now. That’s how often I use it! (BTW one benefit of having it as a kindle book is that I have the kindle app on my phone, so my cookbook comes with me wherever I go. This has saved my butt a few times when we’ve gone away and have been asked to bake an impromptu birthday cake for someone – it does happen!)

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The recipe we used was their apple walnut cake with caramel cream cheese icing. It is very straightforward, but may look daunting at first because it requires you to make your own caramel sauce, which is used in the cream cheese icing, and to drizzle over the iced cake. To make that, combine 1 cup of water with 3 cups of sugar in a medium size saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Now bump up the heat to high and boil the sugar syrup without stirring until it becomes dark in colour (this could take a while, 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and add 2 cups of thickened cream, slowly, while whisking constantly until it’s fully mixed in. Cook over medium heat for another minute until the sauce is smooth. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

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Now for the cake layers themselves. Preheat oven to 160C. Line two round cake pans with baking paper and set aside. Whisk together 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup wholemeal flour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tspn bicarb soda and 3/4 tspn salt in a large bowl. In your mixer bowl, beat together 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil with 2 cups sugar until completely combined. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture slowly, on low speed, mixing until just combined. Fold in 1 large tin of pie apple (800g), 1 cup chopped walnuts and 3 Tbspn apple juice concentrate. Split the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 45 minutes (until cake tester comes out clean). Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing.

For the cream cheese icing beat 500 g cream cheese with 1/2 cup unsalted butter until smooth. Slowly incorporate 1 cup of the cold caramel sauce and beat until mixed well.

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To assemble (making sure everything has cooled), just simply ice between the cake layers and around the top and side of the cake with the cream cheese icing. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of leftover caramel on top of the cake, and then what we did was pile on a $2 cup of salted caramel popcorn from 7-Eleven, lightly toasted 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts in a frypan and poured them on, and added a packet of dried apple chips we found (oddly IMO) in the baby food section at Coles. Then we drizzled another 1/4 cup of leftover caramel to get everything to stick together nicely.

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This cake is super moist, especially given the wholemeal flour, and even with all that caramel, doesn’t come across as too sweet or rich. I was very reluctant to make this cake for Caleb initially because we had a bit of disaster with it on his 8th birthday. We had this tradition of decorating his age into his cakes, and I used M&Ms to make a big 8 on top, but the colour ran and gave the cake a look reminiscent of blood shot eyes. I was so embarrassed! He harassed me enough that I thought I should make it again for him (given he obviously loved it) and I think we above and beyond made up for his 8th birthday cake disaster.

Do you have any cake disaster stories to share? Have you ever had a dish that you thought was a flop, but kept getting asked to make it again?

A 10th birthday cake

 

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

A photo posted by Jen Rose (@jrrose80) on

 

Be sure to check out more Wordless Wednesday posts at:

stephs joy

my little drummer boys

Agent Mystery Case