Friday, 29 May 2015

A Sweet Treat...

For the first BBQ of the season we decided to have our friends over to check out the revamped balcony (post to come soon). Now we all no the hard work that goes into prepping a BBQ so I wanted to make a dessert which could be prepped ahead of time and then put together on the day. A pavlova is perfect for this as it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for weeks.
I started by making a Dulce de leche which I had pinned awhile back.
I used the stove top method but Spend with Pennies on Pinterest also has a slow cooker option if you want to check that out.
Starting with a tin of sweetened condensed milk remove label from can. Place unopened can in a large pot and fill with water so that the can is completely covered.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a medium heat and let cook for at least 3 hours. It is very important that the can remains covered throughout the cooking process. Please make sure to check on it over the cooking time and top up as necessary.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool before opening. Dulce de leche can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for us to one month.
 For the pavlova I based it on Jamie Oliver's recipe but used lactose free products, raspberries and blueberries for my fruit and icing sugar instead of caster sugar for the cream. You can use whatever your heart desires for the filling. Let you imaginations run wild :-)
6 large free-range egg whites         
2cup caster sugar
1 pinch sea salt         
Selection of fresh fruit.       
1 1/2 cup of Lactose Free whipping cream
1 1/2 cup lactose free natural yogurt
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract        

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. Place the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk them on medium until they start to form nice firm peaks.

With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar and pinch of salt. Turn the mixer up to the highest setting and whisk for 7-8 minutes more until the meringue is white, glossy and smooth. If it feels grainy, whisk for a little bit longer, be careful not to let the meringue collapse.

Line two baking trays with baking paper and divide meringue mixture between the two trays. I drew a template circle on the paper and piped two circles. Place both trays into the oven and bake for 1 hour until the meringues look slightly golden and are fluffy in the middle. 
Allow to cool before attempting to add the fillings.

Prepare your fruit as desired. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then stir in the yogurt and fold in the vanilla and icing sugar.  In a separate bowl add half the fruit to half the cream. Mixing well.
For the assembly I covered my base circle with a layer of dulce de leche, topped with the cream/fruit mix. Place second circle on top. Cover with the plain whipped cream and decorate with the remaining fruit.

This is a super sweet dessert but I totally love it. I hope you do to. Have a great week!

Michelle xxx
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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Signed, Sealed, Delivered.....

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know we've been working on our wedding invitations for the last few weeks. They are now done and have been mailed to my ever obliging Mammy in Ireland to be mailed from there -Canada post where looking for a crazy amount of money per invite to post them from here, but that's a rant for another day!

When I first started looking at invitation ideas I came across these from Botanical Paperworks. J and I loved the idea of the seeded paper and that once our guests have received their invite they can plant it and have pretty flowers as a cute token too. However when I got my samples I was unimpressed with the envelopes (just plain white) and thought this awesome idea for an invite needed something more to enhance it... sooo we came up with this

What do you think?

 We went through a load of different options but ultimately decided to stencil these burlap bags with our initials and sew on lavender sprigs.

The lavender tag came about as a late addition because, well lets see if you can figure out what's missing....

Do you see it??
There is no place to write or type in guests names. WTFudge!!!!!!!!!!!
Surely that's a necessity on all invitations right? Such a rookie mistake, how did we not see that I hear you ask? We are idiots is all I can offer..
After a lot of choice words and scolding myself I set about stencilling the bags. Not as laboursome as I'd expected. I set myself small batches to get through each evening which made it a lot easier I think. I used this stencil from Martha Stewart and white acrylic paint from the dollar store. I ran into a couple of small issues like the paint lodging in the stencil and ultimately the stencil didn't hold up for the final 10 bags. But I managed to adjust the stencil to finish them off. There are two slightly different M's on the bags but no one will even notice ;-)

See the different M's

J's job was to tie the lavender bundles which he did expertly :-)

As he finished those I was sewing them onto the bags.


And then the packaging process begins.
The purple mailers I got form Wrapping me up on Etsy 
The  lavender tags came from presto paper. Mailer labels and Clear labels are from Staples.

So that's our invites, What do you think? Worth all the effort or not? We are looking forward to seeing how our guests like them.

We have one planted and are waiting with bated breath to see if they actually work ;-)
rsvp card all set for planting
 Hope your having a great week. And enjoying the beginnings of summer.
Don't forget to check out our new facebook page and follow us on on Pinterest, Instagram , twitter and bloglovin for updates.
 Michelle xxx

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

One year on..

Today we are officially a year old and I have to say I am so very proud of this little space in blogger land. I have surprised myself by actually sticking with something for this long. I tend to get bored easily but I am really enjoying the social aspect and sharing my baking trials and project adventures. I have been very lucky to meet some really lovely people and learned lots of new tech skills.
I know I haven't been flat out blogging on a daily bases but I am trying to organize my time better and have lots of ideas for the next year. There are so many avenues for us to explore and hope to share them with you guys as we take each step. 
The last year has been such a learning curve, figuring out how all the blogging stuff works and I know there is a lot more to learn. I most recently discovered how to create a Facebook page for the blog which I think is a perfect blog birthday present :-) 
 pop on over and check it out.
Over the year I have shared some of the projects J has completed. My favourite was the chandelier he made to go over the dining table made from reclaimed oak flooring.
And I shared my Pinterest Recipe trials.
Along with my Adventures in Gluten Free Bread Making escapades
I made a start at documenting my travels prior to making my move to Canada and meeting my husband to be but so far have only gotten around to sharing the Peru trip. I have made a start on my China trip and hope to post it soon.
Don't forget to follow us on Pinterest, Instagram , twitter and bloglovin for updates on what's happening in the Toomey household.
Cheers to the next year and all it has to bring....
Michelle xxx

Friday, 1 May 2015

Gluten Free Mini Apple Pie

These beauties came about because I had some leftover stewed apples in the freezer from a apple strudel attempt id made a few weeks back. The pastry didn't turn out well hence I never shared it. I was fed up looking at the container in the freezer and decided to give this quick and easy nut pastry from Bette Hagman's "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods" book I'd gotten a while back. It really is quick to make but is delicate so needs TLC. I rolled it between two sheets of wax paper and carefully cut and inverted each piece into the tin. Like all good things it was worth the effort in the end.

1 cup of ground almond
1/4 cup of icing sugar
2 tbsp. Chilled Butter
1 and a half tbsp. cream

Pre Heat oven to 425. Mix all the ingredients until the dough clumps together in a ball. Chill for 15 minutes before rolling between two pieces of wax paper. Carefully cut enough pastry disc for the top and bottom of your pies, and place half the pasty discs into the tin. Bake blind for 8-10 minutes.

The apples as I said I had left over but for the stewing process I used 6 apples, peeled cored and chopped and placed in a heavy based pan. To this I added 2 tbsp. off sugar, a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon and a tablespoon of water.
Mix well and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes, the apple will start to dissolve and become fluffy. Cook until the apple is fluffy but a few chunks are still visible. Taste and add more sugar if you think you need it. Leave it to cool then spoon into the blind baked cases

Top with your remaining pasty disc's ensure the sides are joined all around to avoid leakage. I used a fork to crimp them. Egg was lightly and bake for 10-15 minutes until browned nicely. Mine could of done with a few more minutes but you guys will know yourself what color is good for you.

Allow to cool on a wire rack if you can talk yourself into leaving them alone that long. The mister was well impressed with these. Even my uncle mick who once complained that I made apple tarts to Sour (and I've never let him forget it) would like these. No sourness, just delicious tasty mini apple pies.

Hope your all having a wonderful week. We mailed our invites this week. I'll be sharing that soon. The time is flying by now, cant believe its only four months away. Take Care

Michelle xxx

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