Mad MAOAM Mummified Moggie!!

Okay – RIGHT at the start, no kitty was hurt during this process….!

Those very nice people at MAOAM raised a challenge on their Facebook page and, as you may have already guessed, if there’s anything I enjoy it’s a challenge, a chance to be creative and…maybe….a little bit of madness on the way!

MAOAM’s instructions were “Send a photo of MAOAM sweets or packaging in a Halloween setting in an image which is fun and where you have used your effort and imagination to create the image” – FUN!!!!!!!

Well, naturally, the first idea that popped into my head was to mummify the cat….. Before I hear the howls of protest, I did have our cat doorstop in mind.  Here’s the poor guy before the process started

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

As my daughter’s a big fan of Decopatch we thought that perhaps we could eat lots and lots and lots of yummy MAOAM sweets (yes, you can see why we like a challenge can’t you?!) and then Decopatch (or stick on paper in bits to you and I) the empty wrappers.  Here they are!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

They look good just like that don’t they? The Decopatch glue is great as you glue under and over the object you’re sticking, as normally you’d use smaller pieces and layer them slightly,  and then your finished work has a nice shine afterwards too, without the hassle of varnishing.

I have to say that I’ve never really done much of this before, whereas my daughter’s a bit of an expert, especially at being frugal with what she does with her glue. As a result her sheets were dry within hours, whereas mine were still a bit damp and sticky several days later!! I had wondered how that little pot of glue had lasted her years with the amount of sticking she does!! She’ll need some new now though!

After the sheets were, eventually, dry I cut them into strips and then “bandaged” up kitty….and here’s the result! For people who are still a bit freaked out about a covered cat LOOK, I left a space for him to breathe through his nose, even though he’s an inanimate object – I’m not a complete monster!!

MAOAWWWWW!

MAOAWWWWW!

But, but, but….that’s never enough once you start an idea is it?! After that I thought I’d make a sign to go behind kitty for our final display. I hand drew this, and whilst drawing the “M”‘s realised they looked a bit mouth like….. Okay, so bring on a MAOAM pumpkin then!

I really like the M shaped eyes and mouth – they work very well

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

I think! However, that was a bit dull for us really wasn’t it?! Why not have the pumpkin’s brain’s dripping out in some ectoplasm?! Why not indeed! As our usual ectoplasm supplier is currently busy with other Halloween duties, we decided to make our own. We melted some MAOAM in the microwave (BE CAREFUL if you try this, it only takes seconds and the results are MOLTEN hot – don’t stick your fingers in it!). To this we added some green food colouring and some of the pumpkin seeds. It’s a pretty icky result isn’t it?! Absolutely ideal!!!

We decided that, as well as offering trick or treat callers MAOAM from the handy skull called Ozzle, which we borrowed from my mother (you see, it’s hereditary!), we’d make them up some cupcakes too! I’m VERY pleased with how these turned out. We wrapped the cake cases with more of our decopatch style paper, used unwrapped MAOAM as eyebrows and then a Cyclops style eye in the middle!

Eye spy MAOAM!

Eye spy MAOAM!

You’ll be pleased to hear that we really did think it was time to stop after all this crazy creativity, and put the whole scene together (before Halloween was over and done with!)…… so here’s the final result….. Hope you like it!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

…and by night…..!

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Oh, you Mug!

So, have you heard of Cakes in a Mug before? Using a microwave? Yes, really! If you’ve not been initiated to this AMAZING art yet, then read on dear friend (if you already know all about it, read on anyhow, you might learn something, or be able to comment and teach me something!).

I’m not sure how long microwave mug cakes have been around – when Googling in an effort to find out I did come across an article entitled “Magic Chocolate Mug Cake Microwave Recipe” dated 2008….and I think the concept is every bit as magical today.

Bringing up right up to date, those terribly clever people at Whittard have decided to celebrate the magic with a Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival. As they say in their article, cake in a mug is a perfect solution for someone who really fancies a little cake without the time and effort involved in baking an entire cake. So, with this spirit in mind, here’s my recipe. Some of the ingredients may seem a little “different” but I PROMISE you that they make a wonderful cake.

The ingredients are in such small amounts that I’ll just run through them as part of the method:-

Optional for decorating purposes later……melt a little dark chocolate in a small bowl, dip in a strawberry and place it on a plate in the fridge to cool (now melt the rest of the chocolate and eat the rest of the strawberries…..if you’re me….).

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter into your (microwave-proof) mug (if you’ve never melted butter in the microwave, please be aware this only takes seconds – my poor nan tried to soften butter in the microwave once, setting it for a minute, then had to try to harden it back up in the freezer!)

Mix in 2 tablespoons of sugar until well combined, then stir in a medium egg.

Add 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt (yes, really – makes it tasty!).  Then add 4 tablespoons of self raising flour together with a little bicarbonate of soda (I use just less than 1/4 teaspoon).

This is the point that you should add any other ingredients that you fancy. For this particular cake I added a tablespoon of Whittard Luxury White Hot Chocolate Powder and some chocolate drops. You could add cocoa, vanilla or any other flavour essence…whatever takes your fancy.

Pop in the microwave. I blasted my cake for 1 minute 30 seconds in our 850w oven. If that doesn’t seem long enough and your cake looks a little underdone put in for a while longer – but only go 10 seconds at a time as you can really ruin the texture if you overcook it.

Put on the kettle and make a lovely pot of tea. Take your cake out of the microwave and decorate as you wish…… And here’s one I made earlier!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

I recommend eating it immediately, from the mug with a spoon, while the chocolate drops are still hot and runny…. Then do the brilliantly little amount of washing up that you’ve created, have a meal ready for your family when they get home from work/school and eat a tiny portion, claiming to be on a diet….. Go on, I’ll keep your cake eating a secret!

This post is an entry to the Whittard of Chelsea Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival

UPDATE!

Delighted and absolutely over the moon to say that I was a runner up in Whittard’s Mug Blogger Carnival! The results are online and I’m most definitely going to have a go at some of the other entries – they look lush! Please let me know if you’ve had a go at a cake and how it came out!

Aside

A Good Kitchen To Cook (Yes!)

The best thing about the new house so far is the amount of room to work in the kitchen. Our first flat had a massive bedroom and front room but lacked severely in the bathroom (peachy orange – ick!) and the kitchen, which was so small that you had to enter sideways crab-style and then go back out again if you wanted to turn around to use the other side of the kitchen! It was so small that the only appliance that fitted was the cooker and everything else had to be kept in the front room. That of course meant a twin tub which had to be rolled into the hallway on washing day with a long stretch of hose to the kitchen sink…. The kitchen in our old house had lots of room but no surface space (designed by a man (sorry husband!)) so you’d end up having to create and cook on top of the hob – not ideal.

This kitchen has masses of room. It does need work but unfortunately the designer came on a day when I was at work and his plans reflect the opinions of not only my husband but my father, teenage daughter and her boyfriend. Their idea of kitchen heaven turned out to be taking away all the drawers (Noooooooo! I have so many drawers at the moment that I have a dedicated “party drawer”!) and have an American fridge (yes, lovely but for three of us?!) and wine racks. Needless to say, I wasn’t too pleased when I saw the drawings!

Party Drawer!

Party Drawer!

I think you’ll agree…..the party drawer has to stay!

Anyway, as I say, a lovely kitchen to cook so we’ve had some nice tasty treats at the moment including an apple and blackberry pie which would have had Mary Berry wailing as it had such a soggy bottom. It was delicious though, using honey instead of sugar because we all had colds – medicinal pie, yum, can’t beat it!

Soggy Bottom!

Soggy Bottom!

Then last weekend came two firsts for me – a goat’s cheese, thyme and fig tart and runner bean chutney. Both of them were delicious, though I say so myself – in fact in the case of the first I have to say so myself as the family wouldn’t eat it – bah humbug, their loss and all other statements made to make me feel better at their rejection! Think the chutney looks lovely in my Kilner Jars and wish I had more to try more chutneying – 6 weeks to wait to try the contents though – boooooooo!

MY tart!

MY tart!

6 weeks and counting!

6 weeks and counting!

Tidy Trio Triumph! Thumbs up for Marco!!

Starting with an explanation..always good to do! A very nice Welsh borrower came into the library where I work this week and called me and my colleagues “tidy girls”. Now, we decided to take this as a compliment. We weren’t sure whether he meant we were very nice or was in fact saying we kept a tidy well shelved library (he’s a bit of an aficionado, visiting libraries all over the country!) but we liked the term either way and decided that we would become the Tidy Trio, who would go on intrepid adventures and report back – either a Triumph or a Travesty.

Today we had our first adventure out! We visited the New York Italian Restaurant, Marco’s located next to the new Hampton by Hilton near Exeter Airport.  Here’s a sneaky peek….

Marco's Exeter

Lots of mean and moody pics of Marco Pierre White, dancing glitterballs and elegantly decorated tables. Take a look at their website for more photos and a menu.  http://www.marcosexeter.co.uk/

We were very pleased, on the whole, with the menu although there wasn’t a great deal of choice for vegetarians. Tidy Frances is a veggie and decided on Mushroom Risotto (nice but could have done with some greenery on top!), Tidy Linda is most definitely not a veggie and had Yellow Fin Tuna steak, which looked amazing and had an accompaniment of wonderful smelling new potatoes! I tried the Asparagus, Mint & Lemon Risotto, which was lovely and very filling.

Lemon Risotto

We did have room for dessert though, of course! We wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we didn’t, would we?!  I went for balsamic strawberries and icecream (delicious!), Tidy Frances had Double Chocolate Truffle Cake and Tidy Linda had Marco’s Tiramisu (lucky that he’s happy to share!)….didn’t realise until it arrived that it would match her outfit!

Tidy Linda!

A very good time was had by all Tidys and we voted it a good Triumph! The service was good and unhurried, leaving lots of time for chatting and daft photo taking (we kept the flash off, we weren’t TOTALLY embarrassing!). Would definitely recommend it and would love to go again (hint, hint!).

Just as an afterthought…..our only problem was finding the restaurant in the first place! No signposting whatsoever from what we could see, and we nearly ended up having lunch at a Kebap (yes, correct spelling!) van on a nearby estate in desperation! As we entered we said to the people behind us that we’d had trouble getting there and they said they’d had to stop and phone in for directions! So, handy hint, don’t let it put you off going, but google how to get there before you set off!

Pop Goes The Cake!

My daughter’s currently working on the Baden Powell Award with her Guide group and as part of that had to show that she was able to fund raise (didn’t tell me until after the event that this is because she’ll be going away on a trip…!).

What better to do than make cakes she decided….AHA! Make CAKE POPS, that’s what’s better! I’d seen a book on making cake pops before – the old fashioned (although of course this is a fairly new phenomenon) way was to use stale cake, break it up and then goo it back together, which leaves me a bit shivery. I was then browsing through the Lakeland website and came across their Cake Pop Maker. What a good investment I thought!

Cakepop forest in the fridge!

Cakepop forest in the fridge!

It duly arrived and my daughter invited her friend around for a Sunday afternoon making session! We watched the handy video on the website and off we went…..or rather, off they went! This really was simple enough for the two girls (both 13) to get on and use themselves. The machine comes with recipes and easy to follow instructions to save you having to re-watch the video every 5 minutes.  They had spray oil which made things very easy and soon got used to the amount of mixture they needed to use each time. The only really fiddly bit was the chocolate dipping and topping plopping! One great TOP TIP from the video was to use the poly packaging inside the cakepop maker box to stand up your cakepops to allow them to dry (I was well impressed!). The only thing that didn’t really work was the popping candy that they put on the cakepops. As the candy had to be spooned onto the pops it soon went soggy and the pops had to go into the fridge to cool down meaning even more sogginess. The girls said they were still a little crackly the following day, but they’d probably not use them over sprinkles next time (next time?!).

Mmmm, doughnuts! Hands off Homer!

Mmmm, doughnuts! Hands off Homer!

I think the only downside was that the girls decided to make up another mixture and make mini doughnuts straight after a couple of hours intensive cakepop making and they did get a bit bored by the end (“mum, Annabelle’s in the middle of my new hair do…could you get out the doughnuts, put them in the sugar, take the other ones out of the sugar and…..”) but they had been going at it for HOURS by then so really I should be admiring their stamina instead of moaning!

The results looked pretty good, even if I say so myself!