Michelle’s Muck-Up of the Month

Right. Let’s just cut straight to the chase, shall we? Some days in the kitchen are magical. Everything whips, folds, beats and bakes itself to utter perfection, and you can strut around with a smile on your dial knowing you ruled the kitchen that day.

Then there are the days when the kitchen rules you. I’m not going to pretend that it’s all sunshine and rainbows and delicious baked goodies in my kitchen (there have been some very dark days indeed!) and so I’d like to introduce you to the first “Michelle’s Muck-Up of the Month” post.

I know we’re still 2 days out from the end of June, but I’m calling it.

It all started when I decided to make a delicious baked cheesecake. A buttery, biscuity base with a deliciously unhealthy, smooth, creamy top. What could possibly go wrong?

Apparently, quite a lot.

Firstly, my local supermarket didn’t have the biscuits that I’d normally use for a base so I took a punt on another type. This turned out to be a bad decision.

Secondly, unlike traditional New York baked cheesecake recipes, this recipe calls for egg whites to be whisked and folded into the cheesecake mixture. While this makes for a deliciously light top (which also makes you feel slightly less guilty about going in for a second slice), it also means your initial cheesecake mixture has grown in quantity by a sizeable amount.

Thirdly, I didn’t take the other shelf out of the oven (I’ll get to this one later).

Now, let it be stated on the record that I have rather bad depth perception. Not something that often comes in handy, and this instance was unfortunately no exception.

In my pre-cheesecake haze, I was so excited by the fact that in the not too distant future I would be feasting on this beauty I overfilled the tin. I didn’t know it at the time, but I certainly did when I check on my cheesecake towards the end of it’s stint in the oven.

Much to my surprise, the mixture rose. Quite a lot. To the point where that oven shelf that I forgot to take out of the oven was now an unfortunate feature as it was being engulfed by my greedy monstrosity of a cheesecake.

I also should note this recipe requires a significant time commitment. I’m talking almost 5 hours from start to finish. This includes 1 1/2 hours for baking, 2 hours standing in the turned off oven post bake, and a further hour sitting with the oven door open.

So, after waiting for what felt like half a day, to add insult to baking pride injury, the cheesecake also decided to crack open mid-bake resulting in a fully fledged disaster of a bake.

And so, the first “Michelle’s Muck-Up of the Month” was made.

Cheesecake CrumbsCheesecake and Egg WhitesCheesecake UncookedCheesecake CookedCheesecake Slice

Not even a sprinkling of icing sugar could save this cracked calamity (though the filling was delicious!)

A Bear-y Cute Blanket

So, as you may know, I upped my nanna-ness recently by becoming hopelessly addicted to crochet. Hooked in fact (pun intended)!

I find it’s a wonderfully relaxing pastime that is, in my books, absolutely acceptable to complete in your jim jams (I would encourage it in fact!).

Finding out recently that some friends of ours are expecting a little bundle of joy later this year, I hopped to it and began my hunt for project baby blanket. After trawling through thousands of pins on Pinterest (my HAT is that thing addictive!!!), I stumbled across this adorable granny square pattern.

As soon as I spied it, I knew this was the one. I mean, how on earth could I pass up that much adorable-ness??

The pattern was simple enough to follow (once I found the English version at the bottom of the page), though I did jot it down in UK terminology as I get muddled fairly easily, so I much prefer to work with one set of crochet terminology. One day I might be fluent in UK and US, but for now my brain has decided UK is enough.

I used Panda Magnum Soft 8 Ply (not only for the cuddly sounding name, but because it’s super soft and full of snuggly goodness) and a 4mm crochet hook.

I wanted to try an invisible join for the squares, but found it looked a little odd, so I used a single crochet in a lovely lavender colour for the joins. I also did a single crochet border in the lavender before switching to a lovely, soft grey; finishing off the border with two rounds of double crochet.

I will admit that sewing the faces on was a bit of a labour of love. Although they look adorable (if I don’t say so myself), they were a little fiddly and a number of teddies had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery. A couple of times.

All in all, however, a positively adorable pattern!!! I can’t wait to pass this on to the lucky little lady!

Teddy Blanket First SquareTeddy Blanket 4 FacesTeddy Blanket Close Up FaceTeddy Blanket Close Up CornerTeddy Blanket Whole

See? It’s unbearably cute (…couldn’t help myself)

Snickerdoodles. Funny name, seriously tasty.

I think I’ve found my new favourite bikkie. In the whole world. If you’ve ever had a Snickerdoodle, then I know you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For those of you who haven’t, it’s like if a delicious cinnamon donut and a delicious buttery cookie fell in love and had a biscuit child, the Snickerdoodle would be it.

Starting with a soft, buttery beginning this dough was then expertly mixed by Bruce (my trusty assistant/KitchenAid) until it was light, fluffy and deliciously fragrant – not to mention very tasty (I tested this dough for quality control purposes….and also because I find it nigh on impossible to resist a taste of uncooked cookie dough).

After rolling out tablespoon-sized balls of these buttery beauties, these endearingly light bikkies then take a quick dip in a scrumptious cinnamon/sugar mix before being baked, making all my biscuit-y, donut-y dreams come true.

After a quick stint in the oven, these bikkies are crunchy  and golden on the outside and light and crumbly inside.

And not only are these Snickerdoodles (I will never tire of saying their name!) a breeze to make, with the addition of nutmeg to the biscuit dough mix as well, your kitchen will smell as delicious as these beauties taste; making them the perfect treat to whip up before visitors pop over. You watch them try and resist a bikkie that smells that good!!

This recipe comes courtesy of Nigella Lawson and can be found in her book How to be a Domestic Goddess, which you can buy here

Snickerdoodle PlainSnickerdoodle Cinnamon BathSnickerdoodle Close UpSnickerdoodle TraySnickerdoodle Baked

Though the batch makes about 30-odd, be sure to set some aside for yourself if sharing with others because they will be gone in a flash!!

My (not quite) long (enough) weekend.

With a couple of catch ups already planned, the long weekend was a near blank canvas waiting to be filled with all sorts of adventures. Or so I thought…

After trekking out in the horrid weather (it was raining in almost biblical proportions on Friday night), I spent Saturday staving off a sniffle and recuperating with a solid crochet and Downton Abbey sesh.

Though certainly not the most riveting part of my long weekend, after a solid day of resting/utter laziness, I was just about as fit as a fiddle for the rest of the long weekend.

And thank goodness because Oz Comic-Con was on and I heart Comic-Con. Like, big time. If not for the array of seriously talented artist’s work, then obviously for the cosplay. Oh the cosplay!!

Speaking of seriously talented artists, we also stopped by to pick up our very own copy of The Spider King.

Though I can’t take credit for making this, I can take credit for knowing the super talented writer Josh Vann.

A sci-fi/fantasy/action mash up of aliens and vikings set in The Middle Ages, The Spider King is not only a visual treat, but a darn good read too. Go on and treat yo’self to a copy of it here.

The Spider King

After soaking in all of the goodies at Oz Comic-Con, Hubby and I nostalgically travelled back to our time in New Orleans last year by tucking into a feast at Po Boy Quarter

Po Boy Quarter Sign

Po Boy Quarter Bar

And hot dayam was the food good! Truth be told, they had me at cheesy mac croquettes, but I persevered through the rest of the menu and settled on a deep fried chicken po boy (as well).

Cheesy Mac Croquette

**Disclaimer** in my state of elation at seeing these magical fried morsels arrive, I forgot to take a snap before I tucked in, so apologies for the half eaten croquette. Though in my defence, I think I showed tremendous restraint to stop myself mid-bite…

After well and truly eating myself into a food coma the night before, we decided to head outdoors and enjoy the last day of the long weekend by trekking around Sherbrooke Forest…and walking off those cheesy mac croquettes.

Though quite chilly and SUPER muddy, it was just beautiful!! I thoroughly recommend a trek up there some time; just be sure to pack your gumboots if there’s been even a skerrick of rain (hindsight is a wonderful thing…)

Sherbrooke 1Sherbrooke 2

So, I guess in closing all that’s left to say is…

Queen

Bikkies, but not as you know them…

So, after baking a batch of biscuits for a dear friend’s pre-birthday party for her soon-to-arrive bubs, I thought I’d share this kitchen adventure with you.

“Why all the fuss”, you ask? After all they’re just bikkies, right? WRONG!!! These tasty morsels were…wait for it…savoury bikkies. That’s right. Savoury!!

In a sea of baby shower sweeties, these savoury delights were a welcome sight. There they sat; in all of their flaky, cheesy, buttery glory, piled high and ready for the taking.

And by golly were these things tasty! Totally moreish. And made to a small enough size that you (and by “you” I mean “I”) could easily justify eating several. In very quick succession. Before going back for more (don’t judge).

The reason I’m raving about these cheesy champs is that they are an absolute cinch to make. They literally have just 5 ingredients:

  • Blue Cheese
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Plain Flour
  • Eggs
  • Salt

That’s. It.

They begin with crumbly (and slightly stinky) blue cheese and, after a quick stint in the oven, are transformed into a buttery, flaky, golden masterpiece that are cripsy outside and a mouth-wateringly soft inside.

These blue cheese beauties involve minimum input with maximum belly satisfaction, making them perfect for bringing along to any shindig.

I find these bikkies are at their peak-tastiness on the day they’re made, so are best eaten then, though they do keep well for a few days.

This recipe comes courtesy of Nigella Lawson and can be found in her book How to be a Domestic Goddess, which you can buy here

Crumbed Blue CheeseBikkie DoughBikkies on TrayBikkie Close UpFinished Bikkies

These. Are. Seriously. Yum.

Michelle Makes a Blog

You guys! Look! Look at what I made. It may have taken me longer than I care to admit (hint: it did), but I’ve made myself a little home on the interwebs!

As you may have spied in my ‘About Me’ section (I promise it’s not too self indulgent), I was very recently gifted with a KitchenAid all of my own. After naming him Bruce (he was made/born in the USA and Hubby and I are rather fond of The Boss…you get the idea), I then set about finding something delicious to make for my maiden cook.

I settled on a David Herbert Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (drool).

Seeing that delicious, chocolatey, peanut buttery beauty made me realise that there had been a Bruce-sized hole in my cooking life. With Bruce’s arrival, I felt my kitchen was now a little more complete. That I had my own little team. Just Bruce and me. But what next?

I’ve thought about starting a blog for a little while, so with Bruce by my side I thought “what better time than now”? And so it was done (AND without any tears and minimal tantrums due to my lack of website-building savviness).

So what’s this ‘michellemakesthings’ all about? Well, it’s here where you’ll find home to all sorts of Michelle-made ramblings; some of them food-based, some of them crochet-based and no doubt some of them Archie-based (my cat).

So, where will this blogventure take us? I haven’t the foggiest, but I’m sure as heck excited to find out!

Enjoy!