Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I've been thinking a lot about this blog and how much I have much my life has changed...since I started it 5 years ago.  Before we welcomed Lyra last year I had seriously thought about giving it up.  I didn't imagine I would have the time, or the desire to keep it up...but I stuck with it.  Now, looking back over the past 14 months I just don't feel like I had any real passion in the few posts I did manage and I really don't feel that this blog represents who I am anymore.  

I still feel like I need an online outlet, I still need somewhere to write down my thoughts and share things that I love...but this isn't the place for it.  It is far too big a task to overhaul this blog in the 90 mins I get to myself each day, so I have decided to start fresh. 

I've started a new blog over at BLO double G Life  and would love if you bookmarked it and popped over every once in a while to see what's up in my little patch.  I can promise baking, cooking, suggestions on places to chill in Edinburgh and maybe even a handmade gift (or 2), so if you are curious please come on over! 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sweet Potato Cake for the The Babe...and me!

In an effort to get a many vitamins and nutrients into The Babe's diet I have found myself "hiding" veg in our food.  I always thought that "hidden veg" was crazy...I thought "my child will eat all sorts of vegetables"...but that was before I had a child, and before I realised that children are, in essence, fickle and unpredictable.  The Babe will love something one day, absolutely gorge herself on it and then the next day toss it aside like it is the most disgusting thing I have ever put on her plate.  So, in a bid to stop scraping pieces of vegetable off the floor after most meals I have done what I thought I would never do...I have started hiding vegetables in our food.  

I made this Maple and Sweet Potato Loaf Cake during the week and it has been a huge hit.  The Babe really loved sweet potatoes while were in Canada in July, she gobbled up her sweet potato fries like it was nobody's business, but since we've been home my efforts have been met with less enthusiasm. Turning to Pinterst for help I found loads of great ways to use sweet potato in sweet dishes...brownies, muffins, cakes and pies.  I liked the recipe I chose because it was very close to the recipe I use for banana bread.  

I halved the sugar in the recipe and used Macadamia Milk instead of water to loosen the batter a bit (only because I had Macadamia Milk in the fridge needing to be used up).  To save some time I baked a large sweet potato the night before and then left it in the fridge overnight.  If you do this step in advance the cake takes no time at all to prepare, although it does take a while to bake (60 mins).  Once cooled I sliced it up into snack sized portions for The Babe, wrapped them in cling film and popped them into the freezer.  Of course I saved a few portions for immediate enjoyment! 

I slathered mine in butter and pear fruit spread.  It was fantastic.  The cake tastes slightly of sweet potato, but in my opinion it isn't over powering.  It is super moist and slightly dense.  I think it makes a great snacking cake for little ones, and The Babe has really enjoyed the couple of slices she has had.   

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Frills and Fizz...The Pommery Afternoon Tea at The Signet Library

It is August and Edinburgh is ALIVE.  The festivals are truly underway...there are people everywhere and it is awesome.  Last year I avoided festival hotspots like the plague, with a itty bitty teeny weeny brand new baby there was no way I was going to expose her to the hustle and bustle, bumps and crowds of Edinburgh in August.  But this year we are embracing it with gusto, I just strap her into the baby carrier on my chest and away we go...into the crowds, into the noise, into the fun.  She has loved the people watching and the food mother like daughter I guess! 

This past weekend we treated ourselves to Afternoon Tea at The Pommery Champagne Bar, which has popped up once again at the Signet Library on The Royal Mile.  I love this venue, it is stunning and the tea is pretty good too! Last year I took The Babe when she was just a month old...this year she is just over a year old and I think it is safe to say she really enjoyed herself.  

The Babe last year
The Babe loving the mirrored tables this year
We ordered the Afternoon Tea, with a glass of fizz for me (woop) and a IPA for Dad.  The cake towers held just the right amount of treats for us two greedy guts.  A selection of sandwiches and oatcakes topped with creme fraiche and smoked salmon, fruit scones with jam and cream, and small sweets made up our feast.  

The staff were very kind, and attentive.  I had booked our table on line, which was easy enough, and also called to enquire about a high chair.  We were in luck, the venue does have a high chair (I didn't ask if there was more than one) and they were happy to add it to our booking so that it was already at our table when we arrived.  When we ordered our Afternoon Tea I asked for an extra cheese sandwich for The Babe, so she would have something of her own to eat. Sadly, they weren't serving egg mayonnaise (her favourite)...but she happily munched her way through THE WHOLE SANDWICH! 

Dad was kind enough to share his mini carrot cake with her.  I was all up for asking for an extra cake since I wasn't prepared to share (yeah I know...rotten mummy) but Dad offered his instead.  She wasn't a fan of the raw carrot slivers on top of the icing, in fact she dramatically threw one on the floor, but I thought it was a lovely touch.  

This is the third year I have been for Afternoon Tea at the Pommery and, while I knew what to expect, it was completely different experience dining with a small child.  I was happy that she loved looking in the mirror and watching people coming and going and the attention from the staff, her squeals of excitement were fantastic. 

While the Pommery Bar is only open in August for the festival season there is a cafe open year round in the Signet Library, which also offers Afternoon Tea (without Champagne) so The Babe and I are already planning our return visit! 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Very Special Birthday Party

The older Lyra gets the less time I find I have to sit down and update this blog.  Sure, she is still napping during the day (in fact she has gotten BETTER at napping during the day) it is just that I can no longer justify letting housework pile up and NEED to put my feet up every chance I get.  After A YEAR of doing this Mummy thing I really do NEED to spend every second she is not escaping from the living room actually maintaining some semblance of order.

Food wise, Lyra has been eating solid foods for the past 6 months and has developed a good appetite for most of what we eat.  She pretty much eats everything that David and I eat with the exception of broccoli, which I have to sneak into pastas and quiche.  Her favourites, by far, are scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and banana, pasta with anything on it, salmon, egg mayo sandwiches and sweet potato fries.  I love watching her eat and the enthusiasm she displays while devouring her meal.  

We were in Canada (again) this past month and celebrated Lyra's first birthday with a small BBQ (Uncle Matt's famous pulled pork) and some very special Carrot Cupcakes.  

I used Annabel Carmel's carrot muffin Recipe (toddler friendly) and topped them with cream cheese icing and "prinkles".  The recipe made 12 regular sized muffins and 12 mini muffins, which was perfect for celebrating with little ones as well as adults (or those who just wanted a little but of something sweet after the awesome BBQ and sides). 

The extra special treat was sharing the celebrations with Grandad, whose birthday is also in July! 

And now onto the next year full of new adventures, new discoveries and new tricks! 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Ombre Chocolate Sprinkled Masterpiece

So I'm a bit late to the Ombre party. I have been drooling over pins on pinterest for ages but just haven't gad the time or occasion to give it a go. I know, I know, I hardly need an occasion but even I think a 3 layer monster cake is a bit OTT for 2 people...

Anyway, The Babe and I just happened to be visiting The Grandparents in Canada over the last month who wanted to host a BBQ for family and some friends on the Victoria Day also happened to my cousin's 17th (awwwwwwwwwww) birthday weekend.  I no longer needed an excuse the Ombre cake was on the cards! 

A while ago I fell in love with a purple Ombre cake covered in white buttercream and sprinkles. It looked amazing and although my cousin is a boy purple cake is pretty darn cool.  

I had made 4 layers but once I started putting it all together I felt that 3 were enough.  I sandwiched them with a lovely homemade blackberry jam (purple purple purple) and then, instead of buttercream, I whipped up a batch of Nigella's Chocolate Frosting from her Devil's Food Cake recipe in Kitchen.  I love this "frosting" it firms up like a ganache but doesn't use cream.  It is my go-to chocolate icing recipe. Try me.  

Covered in handfuls of 100s and 1000s this cake was pretty awesome looking.  The inside, of course, was a surprise....

Of course I Instagrammed the heck out of is so awesome.  

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Wrights Cake Jazzed up for Easter

BtB (Before the Babe) I would have spent hours in the run up to Easter baking buns, cakes, sugar cookies...anything and I have to be choosey in what I spend my time on.  Last weekend I decided to offload The Babe on David to make Hot Cross Buns meaning that come Easter Weekend the buns could just come out of the freezer and I could focus on our lunch.  Since naps are still completely unpredictable I decided to spend the little time I had getting veggies and the chicken ready and I didn't really have time to muck about with baking and decorating so I picked up a Wrights Madeira Cake Mix, a lemon and some white chocolate easter eggs, spent 10 mins getting the cake mixed up and into the oven, waited an hour for it to bake, an hour to cool and then topped it with a thick lemony glaze and white chocolate easter eggs. So easy, but it did the job.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Quick Hack for a cake mix cake

Since having The Babe in July I really haven't baked anything that requires more than 10 mins to prepare...except for the birthday cake I made David in October...and while not a disaster that was a huge learning curve.  The Babe will happily sit in her rocking chair and watch me in the kitchen but I am too nervous to attempt anything that needs me to focus, since that is pretty much impossible these days.  I have been making muffins, scones, and cookie bars since they are so quick and easy and recently, to satisfy my cake cravings, I've been whipping up treats using Wrights Cake Mixes

Just before The Babe was born we stocked up on some mixes; chocolate fudge, ginger and toffee are our faves...and David baked them over our first few weeks with The Babe. The mixes were a life saver, and I'm still using them but now I'm jazzing them up a bit. 

Last week I was craving a super decadent Chocolate Cake so, while The Babe rested her eyes, I stirred up a Chocolate Fudge Cake mix, popped it in the oven and then quickly mixed up some chocolate ganache.  Easy Peasy. The cake took an hour to bake, the ganache took a little over an hour to thicken, an once the cake was cooled I sat The Babe up at the table in her highchair with some rice cakes to munch on and got on with slathering a very thick layer of chocolate frosting over the cake.  

I use Nigella's Chocolate Frosting recipe from her Devil's Food Cake Recipe in Kitchen.  To generously cover an 8 inch cake I just make half the recipe, and to save time I chuck all the ingredients into a glass bowl set over simmering water.  It works.

Topped with fresh strawberries and blackberries you wouldn't even know this cake was from a packet.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Chocolate Chip Pretzel COOKIE Bars

The Babe and I met up with a couple of friends today for a catch up, a cup of tea, and more than one sweet treat.  One of my pals has been out of town for a few weeks so it was a great excuse to make something a bit OTT.  Crammed chocka block with chocolate chips, minstrels and pretzles I fell in love with these cookie bars.  That's right...cookie...bars.

Cookie batter baked in a cake tin and then cut into squares...I may never make regular cookies again.  Ok, that's not true...I probably WILL make cookies again, but I am pretty sure I'm going to be overdosing on cookie bars.  

These are so easy to make and baked in around 30 much better than baking tray after tray of normal cookies.  Another bonus...this recipe uses melted need to be all organised and have your butter out softening the night before (although I did because I hadn't actually read the recipe).  So now I am in love with the cookie bar and have been surfing Pinterest all day looking for the next recipe (smores, peanutbutter, m&m)...I'm hooked.  

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Courgette Scones

I whipped up a quick batch of savoury scones to devour with soup Thursday night.  I make a big pot of soup once a week for lunches and to freeze for quick/not messy meals for The Babe...and we usually end up having it for dinner at some point bulked out with grilled cheese sandwiches or savoury scones piled high with cheese and chutney.  This week I tossed in about a cup of shredded courgette to my usual scone recipe...sat back and let them riiiiise riiiiise riiiiiiiiiise.

Since I was going to be sharing these with The Babe I didn't use any salt or any other seasoning...but in hindsight they needed something like a big pinch of black pepper.  She loves peppery tattie scones so I don't know why I didn't toss some in in the first place.  She has her's smeared with unsalted butter, the adults prefer a really good stilton smothered in jalapeno horseradish jelly.   

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lunch @ STEAKEdinburgh

I spent a lovely afternoon with The Babe and a good friend of ours "lunching" at STEAK Edinburgh, guessed it...steak restaurant on Picardy Place, right across from The Playhouse.  I've been before with friends for dinner a few times over the past couple of years and have always been happy with the food. When I noticed on Twitter that they were promoting their new lunch deal (2 courses for £9.95) I made a mental note to try it out.  

The set lunch menu is good, it has a decent selection and includes a rump steak with frites and sauce that would normally set you back at least £10.  The Babe isn't quiet old enough to order her own dishes, yet (only a matter of time), but if she were I could have special ordered her a smaller portion of something on the lunch menu.  I had brought her lunch with us and she happily sat in the highchair munching away while the adults caught up. The mirrors, candles and busy staff walking back and forth was more than enough to keep her entertained.  

I started with a lovely salad of romain lettuce, apples, walnuts and blue cheese.  I make a similar salad for special meals at home and I love the combination of the walnuts and cheese so it was pretty much perfect in my eyes.  The portion was really good as well and there was plenty of cheese too...Siiiiigh, I am still drooling over it a week later.  My pal had the spicy lentil soup.  Also a good serving and perfectly warming for the miserable weather that day.  

I've been to STEAK a few times in the past and have, on those occasions, had steak with frites so I decided to try something different this time around.  The Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas practically jumped off the menu at me so that is what I went with.  It was great.  I wasn't sure what to explect, having only had steak before.  The portion size was small, without being dinky.  The fish was lovely and crisp on the outside, the chips were just right too, and the smear of mushy peas was fab.  I wish there had been a couple more chips, and a thicker smear of mushy peas...only because I shared some with The Babe and...well...I can sometimes be a resentful sharer (I'm working on it, and obviously don't mind sharing with her...cause I lover her).  

Only one pudding on offer, which is not included in the set menu price (an extra £3.50) and joy of joys on Friday it was a Peach Crisp with ice cream.  PERFECTION.  Sikly smooth peach compote topped with a crunchy crisp hazelnutty crumbly topping and killer vanilla ice cream.  It was served in a rather larger tumbler, which was just the rught size for a greedy guts like me.  The Babe thoroughly enjoyed the compote too and showed off her new lip smacking trick...yum yum smack smack.  

My pal and I were really happy with our meal.  She said that it would be a great place to go if you worked near by, althougth if you are pressed for time I would mention it to the servers.  Our service was...not slow...but relaxed.  We weren't in a rush so it didn't matter to us, it was nice to enjoy the food, the atmosphere and the company with out feeling like we needed to hurry up so the servers could  flip the table.  

STEAK Edinburgh 
14Picardy Place 
Lunch is served 12-2:30
Check out the menu here

Monday, 3 March 2014

Visiting the Grandparents and eating Macarons in Norwich

*********I apologise for the lack of links, I am trying to get some blogging done while The Babe sleeps beside me on the couch and this blasted Blogger App isn't up to scratch*********

The Babe and I spent a wonderful 10 Days visiting The Grandparents in North Norfolk last month.  I love going to visit my parents when they are over here the UK, well I love visiting them anytime, but it is especially nice to go exploring the gorgeous North Norfolk coast with them.

This trip was my first journey down flying solo with The Babe, a very short practice run for our much longer solo trip to Canada in was fine, she was great, it was easy...April might be a different story but...oh well.  

Most days we stayed close to Home venturing out for a car journey around lunch time.  We ate at some family favourites, The Red Lion in Stiffkey, The Grove in Cromer, and The Lodge in Old Hunstanton and introduced The Babe to the Lattes and baked goods at Huckleberries in Cromer.  It was all lovely.  

A real treat was our trip into Norwich.  I've been to Norwich loads, I love wandering around and checking out the shops...especially the Coleman's Mustard Shop in the Royal Arcade.  This time we headed straight to Macarons and More (also in the Royal Mile)...the fantastic bakery by Tim Kinnaird of Masterchef fame.  

If you've been following this blog for a while you will know that I am a sucker for French Patisserie.  I love love love macarons, I love choux pastry,  I love delicately decorated miniture when I found out via the Twittersphere about Macarons and More I was giddy with excitement.  

The shop is gorgeous, it is bright and totally reminds me of some of the more modern patisseries I've drooled my way through in Paris.  There was a good selection of Macs, gourmet brownies and legit patisserie.  Since it was early on in the day I decided to treat myself to a selection of macarons, although I was very tempted by the Mojito Baba topped with rhubarb.  


Gingerbread, Salted Caramel, Praline, Peanut Butter and Jam, Norfolk Lavander, and a classic Pistachio filled the selection box I entrusted my Mum to carry around Norwich.  Once we got back home and The Babe was occupied at Grandad's crawling bootcamp I finally got stuck in.  

One word....YUM! 

Nothing was overly sweet or soapy tasting (I've had some weird flavour combos before that have come close to the taste of Pears soap) really they were just perfect!   If pressed I'd say the Gingerbread was my favourite, but mistly because I am a lover of anything Gingerbready.  The PB&J was great and the Lavendar really surprised me. The flavour was subtle and the filling was so smooth.  

I really hope Macarons and More does well in Norwich because I am already planning my return trip in the Autumn.  

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Playdate Muffins

Lyra and I had a playdate this week with a mum and her little dude who I met through my antenatal classes waaaaaay back in May.  We've been meeting up pretty much every week for the past few months. This week Lyra and I went over to their flat for a couple hours of rolling and crawling.  

I was really glad to go over to their flat.  While I love meeting at cafes and chatting over coffee the little monkeys are getting bigger and more active and more vocal and they really need space to explore...not to be stuck sitting in a high chair.  And mat leave money has run out so I'm trying to stop frivolously throwing my money away on decaf lattes and scones.  So a playdate was the perfect way to hang out and save a little money.  

I offered to bring something healthy(ish) to snack on and ended up whipping up a batch of muffins Tuesday afternoon while Lyra watched on.  Muffins are my go-to bake these days.  They are easy and fast...perfect for baking with an unpredictable 6 month old looking on.  A big plus is that they freeze really well too...not that this batch was for freezing.  

I adapted this banana muffin recipe substituting some oats for flour, adding some cinnamon and a good handful of frozen blueberries.  The banana muffin recipe alone is great, I've used it loads and am going to hold back half of the sugar next time and make some minis for Lyra.  The addition of the oats and blueberries in this batch made us adults feel less guilty about shovelling them in our faces while trying to stop the babes from head butting/scratching/crawling over/squashing each other.  Now that they are on the move I don't feel guilty about eating 2 muffins in 1 sitting.  

my little (carrot) muffin

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes...a (post) pregnancy craving

It is weird.  I didn't really have any cravings while I was pregnant, but over the past 6 months I have found myself craving things I never really HAD TO HAVE before.  I'm mostly talking about chocolate and other sweet things.  Sure, sure I have a bit of a reputation for loving all things cake...and YES most (all) of my new friends in Edinburgh are foodies and cake lovers but I really didn't crave sweet before I was pregnant.  I do now...that's for sure. 

Last night while shushhhing The Babe to sleep I had a sudden urge for chocolate cupcakes...chocolate cupcakes with Mocha buttercream.  Why I NEEDED that combination? I have no idea.  

I haven't made cupcakes in yonks and while I knew I had butter in the house, I knew I didn't have enough for cupcakes AND buttercream.  Dilemma, dilemma.  

Fear not! A quick google search took me straight to this recipe on the Add a Pinch Blog.  Decadent chocolate cupcakes made with vegetable oil.  Perfect! These cupcakes took about 15 minutes to whip up (in fact I had to go and calm The Babe at one point) and bake AND COOL very quickly.  In her recipe Robyn says that you can totally make these after everyone has gone to bed or first thing in the morning. They really are that simple.  Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in the other...bish bash bosh SIMPLES. 

Last year at some point BTB (Before The Babe) I made some to.die.for buttercream icing where I creamed about 150grams of unsalted butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon and just gradually beat in sifted icing sugar and a drop of milk at a time until it was...perfect.  Since then I have never looked at recipes for icing....I go with 150grams of butter for a single layer or 12 cupcakes and just double it for a layer cake.  

I've been obsessed with the Beanies Flavoured Coffees I bought over Christmas so I mixed up a little bit of instant Irish Cream Coffee (extra strong for a deep flavour) and added that instead of milk into the buttercream.  Total indulgence. 

Cravings satisfied...until next time. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Banana Scones...Mombie be GONE!

The Babe will be 6 months next week...I can't believe how quickly these past months have gone...all the days seem to have morphed into one and I'm amazed at how much I can actually get done on little to no sleep.  Let's just say I am ROCKING this MOMBIE look.  

Over the last week or so we have been gearing up to starting The Babe on solid foods and I've definitely caught myself daydreaming about all the wonderful foods I'm going to make her and how she is going to be such a good eater.  I have probably jinxed myself.  

Anyway, last night I was reading a weaning book and stumbled upon a recipe for banana scones.  The recipe was very close to my go-to scone recipe, except it used marg instead of butter and less sugar (still a bit of sugar though).  The Babe is no where near ready to have HER FIRST SCONE, but I thought I try my hand at making some banana scones anyway.  

I decided to adapt my own recipe instead of following the one in the weaning book.  I replaced the milk with mashed banana loosened with a splash of milk, and used a tiny amount of vanilla sugar (although the banana is sweet enough I could do with removing the sugar completely) and did away with the salt and egg.  They taste pretty darn good to me, so I've filed the idea away in the back of my babybrain head and can only hope that somewhere down the road, when The Babe is ready for more substantial foods I have an ah-ha moment and remember. 

Can you tell I am really proud of myself? 

Just to add to my smugness I'll boast about how I whipped these up at 7:30 this morning while The Babe was STILL SLEEPING! 

How's that for a Mombie?!!