10 Best DIY Food Gifts

I love giving food as gifts (partly because I’m poor and have a HUUUUGE family) but also because who doesn’t love receiving tasty treats, especially at Christmas?!

Here are some of my favourite food gifts to give out at Christmas, for the most part these ideas are things you can make in bulk and give out to family and friends, great if you’re visiting lots of people over the festive season!

  1. Slow Cooker Chocolate Orange Fudge
  2. Fudge

    Credit: Me!

    Ok, ok, shameless self promotion, these were my DIY food gift last year and it was super easy to make!

  3. Chilli Jam
  4. chilli-jam

    Credit: Me!

    This one is also me, I made chilli jam for my extended family 3 years ago and essentially started the tradition of giving food as a gift each year!

  5. Bacon Salt
  6. Bacon… salt… Bacon Salt. This is pure genius.

  7. Chocolate Bark
  8. Chocolate-bark

    Credit: Jamie Oliver

    Chocolate Bark is another super easy, fairly cheap to make option. You can make grown up versions with tasty nuts and dried fruit and a kid’s version with jelly beans or popping candy. Hey who am I to judge? Make whichever one you think your family and friends will enjoy most!

  9. Infused Vodka
  10. For your grown up friends and family!

  11. Bacon Jam
  12. Bacon-Jam

    Credit: Lori Mama at http://www.food.com

    BACON JAM. Make it. Eat it. Try and remember to give some as presents. Eat some more of it. Probably have to make two batches.

  13. Peanut and Toffee Bon bons
  14. Peanut-Toffee-Bon-Bons

    Credit: Jennifer Joyce for BBC Good Food

    Obviously don’t give this to anyone with nut allergies but these look delicious.

  15. Polar Bear Peppermint Creams
  16. Peppermint-Polar-Bears

    Credit: Miriam Nice for BBC Good Food

    These are supposedly good to make with kids, this could be a fun way to get kids involved with making food gifts. Perhaps for their teachers at the end of term or just for their friends!

  17. Chocolate chunk pecan cookies
  18. Chocolate-Pecan-Cookies

    Credit: Sara Buenfeld for BBC Good Food

    Cookies are a classic gift for a reason. Add pretty packaging and throw them at your family and friends.

  19. Salted almond snaps
  20. Salted-Almond-Salted

    Credit: Cassie Best for BBC Good Food

    A twist on the classic cookie gift but another delicious option!

Nice packaging is key to a home made food gift, invest in some pretty Christmas themed cellophane bags like these and add pretty ribbons.

Let me know which one is your favourite! ūüôā

Pin this for later!

Anti Gravity Chocolate Madness 18th Birthday Cake

My baby brother turned 18 this month. I still remember him like this:

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(He will obviously thank me for this photo being on the internet)

Luckily I made him an awesome birthday cake so hopefully he’ll forgive me.

chocolatemadnesscake

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest will have seen various versions of this cake before pinned to my CAKE. board.

The cake itself is a chocolate sponge made using Angela Nilson’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe

I made the cake in a tall 8 inch cake tin and then cut it into three layers. The cake recipe includes a recipe for ganache that was more than enough for me to fill three layers of cake and cover the top and sides to attach the chocolate.

I used about 4 “Sharing” packs of Maltesers and 4 “Sharing” packs of crunchy M&Ms. The cake took 15¬†4 finger¬†Kit Kats to cover the sides. You can buy multi packs of 4 finger Kit Kats. I think they come in packs of 8 so you’ll need at least two packs, I bought three to be on the safe side, never hurts to have some spare chocolate at the end!

Now for the magic…

To get your anti-gravity effect you could use a special metal anti-gravity cake kit like this one that Lakeland sells.

Orrrr you could use the big straws that you have left over from making a wedding cake

2016-09-14-19-02-09

Not the greatest quality photo since my brother’s birthday was a Wednesday night and I was trying to get the decorating part¬†done between arriving home from work at 7 and going out for dinner at 7:30!

You can buy the straws in packs of 45¬†from Amazon here¬†for a couple of quid. I only used 2 for this cake and around 15 for the wedding cake so I’ve still got loads left!

I basically shoved the straws into the cake at 45 degree angle and then coated the outside with ganache using a palette knife and attached the sweets. Note the maltesers are really flipping easy to attach since they’re so light. The M&Ms… not so much. I actually have a real dislike of M&Ms after trying to get them to stick to the straw for this cake¬†ūüôą All it takes is a little bit of patience and time, neither of which I had in the 30 mins I had to complete this!

After we got back from dinner we did candles:

img-20160914-wa0012

Yes that does read Happy Bday… life’s too short to try and find the missing alphabet candles at 10 pm!

Overall I’m happy with how this turned out given how little time I had to spend on it!

To make your own you will need:

Equipment:

20cm wide, 7.5.cm deep cake tin

Palette knife

Mixing bowls

Plate or cake board

Boba Straws

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 85g plain flour
  • ¬ľ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium egg
  • 75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
  • grated chocolate or curls, to decorate

For the ganache:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, as above
  • 284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the decorations:

4 packs of Maltesers (large sharing packs)

4 packs of M&Ms (large sharing packs) (I used the crunchy variety)

3 packs of 8 x 4 finger Kit Kats

 

Best DIY projects for Big (or little) Dogs

If you’ve got a big dog (or even just a dog larger than a pug) and you like to craft then you know the struggle of finding fun DIY things to make for them. It’s like the craft world decided that only small dogs like being dressed up or something! Below is a collection of DIYs I’ve found that are either created with larger breeds in mind or are easily adapted to them.

Let me know your favourites!

Dog Hoody

Build a pet agility course

Dog boredom buster

 

DIY Car Safety Hammock

Busy ball toy

Raised dog dining table

 

DIY Flirt Pole

Sew your own winter dog boots

Or

 

I’ve also got a DIY dog bathrobe tutorial¬†coming soon ūüôā

 

That time I agreed to make a wedding cake…

…and didn’t have a complete breakdown!

Once upon a time, Jade and Dave decided to get married. Jade asked me if I could make their wedding cake. I said yes, I’d love to. I spent several months failing to find a red food colouring that was bake stable (you lucky Americans!) as the original plan was to have a red velvet cake. I spent some time perusing the internet for alternative¬†recipes and found an awesome Madeira cake recipe on Cakes, Bakes & Cookies that included how to scale the recipe for different sized tins which I desperately needed!

I did a test run with my 12 inch cake tin and it turned out OK:

2016-04-09 19.33.40

A little cracked and the mixture wasn’t as light as I wanted it to be. I decided this was down to the fact that I was using my mum’s food mixer that was a wedding gift 37 years ago! I got a new mixer and it made all the difference!

I did a two tier test run using a 10 inch and an 8 inch cake:

I used cheap blue and red fondant from Tesco to test out the bunting. I also tested how sturdy the stacked tiers were:

 

I used jumbo straws instead of dowelling (and failed to get a pic of it) but there is a great YouTube tutorial here

For my two tier test run, the top tier had buttercream and lemon curd sandwiched between the layers while the bottom tier had buttercream and strawberry jam. I took half of the ten inch cake and the whole 8 inch cake into work. Despite my team’s incredible capacity for eating food, I had to enlist people from the wider business to help eat all of it!

So two weeks before the big day I assembled all of my ingredients:

13680966_10154486341316336_4986905921474882553_n

Total ingredients I used for three tiers:

Butter: 948 g

Stork (Margerine): 948 g

Caster sugar: 2,526 g (~2.6 kg)

Vanilla Essence: 13.5 tsp

38¬†eggs (Words cannot describe how difficult I found it to work out how many boxes this worked out to… 1 x 12 egg box, 2 x 10 egg box and 1 x 6 egg box!)

Plain flour: 2,847 g (~2.9 kg)

Baking Powder: 20 tsp

Hot Water: 36 tbsp (640 ml)

4.5 kg of White fondant icing

Note that I made two of the 12 inch cake to make the cake tall enough.

I spent a weekend baking all 4 cakes which became three tiers and then froze all of the cakes. I followed the advice here for freezing the cakes.

The day before the wedding I defrosted, cut, filled, crumb coated and covered the cakes in white fondant. That took about 8 hours! I then cut out all of the bunting using these cutters. I used the largest one for the 12 inch tier and went down a size for each tier up.

I covered the cake board with white fondant and used hessian ribbon around the edge to go with the rustic barn theme.

Obviously Apple helped:

2016-08-12 12.00.03

I love how Bunny is also looking wistfully outside

And here it is:

Image of Wedding Cake

I am so genuinely touched that Jade and Dave would trust me with such a major part of their big day. Which they know because I had a small breakdown during their speeches! I got a gorgeous gift that I will definitely use a lot:

2016-08-28 18.10.03

(T Swiz references win every time!) And I can only hope there is one photo of the speeches on the day that doesn’t have my ugly crying face in the background!

All the stress was totally worth it for this gorgeous pair:

#DavidandJadeWedding

Slow Cooker Chocolate Orange Fudge

So this video popped up on my Facebook feed early in December and I loved the idea of making fudge in the slow cooker.

I changed the ingredients for my fudge but the basic principle is the same.

You will need:

1 cup of milk chocolate chips

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup of whipping cream

1/3 cup of honey

1 bar of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Orange Intense Bar (100G) broken into pieces

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Place the chocolate chips, whipping cream and honey in the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour.

2. Stir in the pieces of Chocolate Orange bar and the vanilla extract until they’ve melted

3. Pour the mixture into a dish to set (I used a square pyrex dish)

4. Cut into chunks and give them away! (OR eat them alllll)

Fudge

 

Festive Tea Wreath

Featured Image

So in my continued quest to DIY as many of my presents as possible I made a tea wreath!

I was originally inspired by this¬†tea wreath but decided that I couldn’t be bothered with all the clothes pegs!¬†I went with double sided sticky tape instead.

I used a 20 bag box of Pukka Organic Peppermint Licorice Tea Bags and a 20 bag box of Taylors of Harrogate Spiced Apple Tea Bags; I confess mainly for the colours, though the spiced Apple one is nicely festive too!

You can use any tea you like to make this, just make sure you buy tea that comes in individually wrapped packets (usually this means buying the nicer, more expensive ones).

You will need:

40 teabags in any combination of colours and flavours

Thick cardboard or foam board

Double sided sticky tape

Colour coordinated ribbon

A glue gun (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cut out your wreath from your cardboard or foam board.

I started by putting a standard dinner plate on the back of some flimsy cardboard from a pizza and drawing around it. I cut this out and then marked the inner circle with the base of a bowl. I used a wooden clothes peg at this stage to make sure there was enough cardboard for a decent layer of teabags.

I then used double sided sticky tape to attach my cardboard doughnut to some foam board I had lying around:

tea wreath1

Then carefully* cut the foam board to match the cardboard using a craft knife.

*Confession: Not that carefully because I did this really late at night and I’m an idiot so I thought I’d nick my finger:

Cutyoself

2. Lay your teabags around the wreath and work out where they look best:

Teaplacement

3. This would be a good time to attach your ribbon to the wreath (I didn’t consider this until later and had to attach it to the back.)

Start sticking your teabags down using double sided sticky tape, working from the outer layer inwards:

tapeplacement

first two rounds

4. Attach a ribbon to the back of the foam board using staples and a glue gun if you haven’t attached it at step 3!

Finished Wreath

And you’re done!

This probably took me about an hour and a half from start to finish but makes a gorgeous and thoughtful present.

 

 

Sneak peek of Chocolates for everyone!!

So I have a massive family. Like huge, my mum is the youngest of 10 and they all have kids and lots of those cousins have had kids now so our family get togethers are always big! Every year we organise a Christmas party and I try to make my presents because I’m too poor to buy everyone something… 

It’s usually food because that’s easy to do in bulk, one year it was biscuits, another it was chilli jam. This year it’s chocolates!

I’ve got myself a chocolate box silicone mould from Lakeland:

  
 
I’ve never done any proper chocolate making (just plenty of chocolate eating!) I decided to get the Thermospatula as well so I can attempt to temper the chocolate and hopefully make them look really good:

  
I’m kinda excited about using this just because I love a good gadget!

I’ve already started making some boxes using this tutorial and some Christmas scrapbook paper that I bought from eBay:

  
(Sorry about the fuzzy photo, working with an iPad is hard!)

  
This was my second attempt after I failed to follow the instructions the first time around…

I’m hoping to make the chocolates this week and post a full tutorial next weekend. Keep an eye out! 

Foolproof American Pancakes in the UK

I’m mega excited because one of my friends is moving to LA next year so this weekend¬†I booked flights to go and visit her for two whole weeks at the end of Feb!!!

One of the things I love about America is the pancakes, they’re light and fluffy, filling and have so many options for accompaniments! So I decided to make it my mission to make perfect American style pancakes here in the UK before I go to LA so that I can boss it while I’m there.

These are the pancakes I had to live up to:

NYPancakes

These are the ones I had at The Tick Tock diner in New York earlier this year and they were absolutely DIVINE.

So I headed off to Pinterest to find myself a recipe. I chose this one from Candace Davenport at Somewhat Simple.

I halved the amounts since I was only making them for two people.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups sifted plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of milk
2 tbs. olive oil

This made 8 pancakes – 4 per person which was more than enough.

Ingrediants

Utensils:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Smaller bowl
  • Whisk
  • Frying pan
  • Large flat spatula (this is a good one)

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and use a whisk to mix together
  2. dryingrediants

  3. In another bowl, crack the eggs and beat together with a fork, add the milk and mix
  4. wetingrediants

    Around this time, someone set off a firework nearby so Apple came to make sure I was ok:
    AppleSpooked

  5. Add the olive oil to the egg & milk mixture and mix well
  6. oil

  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined (don’t overdo it, lumps are ok!)
  8. mixwetanddry

  9. Get your frying pan on to warm up on a medium heat on the smallest ring of the hob
  10. Hobandpan

  11. Add a 1/3 cup of batter to the hot pan
  12. batter

  13. Check your pan position, you want to ensure that wherever you’ve dropped the batter, the heat from the burner is centred directly below the pancake.
  14. Panposition
    Please be SENSIBLE with this! Don’t put your pan in an unbalanced or dangerous position, make sure handles are away from the edge at all times.
  15. Now it’s time to look for BUBBLES
  16. bubbles-fish-o
    Couldn’t resist!

    Serious talk though, bubbles are very important at this stage. You want the whole pancake to have popped bubbles all over before you flip it over. That’s how you’ll know it’s the perfect amount done on the other side.

    Check out the picture below, the top one is not quite done, there’s a patch in the bottom left that’s still quite wet with bubbles still below the surface of the batter.

    The bottom picture shows the perfect amount of bubbles evenly distributed across the pancake
    Lookingforbubbles

  17. Once you see perfect bubbles all over, flip it over with your big spatula, it should look like below:
  18. perfect

  19. Give it at least thirty seconds on the other side before you check it. Keep checking until it’s lightly done on the other side.
  20. Repeat steps 6-10 until you run out of batter. You should be able to make at least 8 large pancakes
  21. Add your topping of choice, we went for plain ole Maple Syrup but experiment with different kinds of fruit and definitely try bacon and maple syrup if you haven’t had it before!

final

Serve with a big icy Coca Cola and pretend you’re on Venice Beach already!

coke

Let me know how you get on with these foolproof instructions! I’m super proud of myself because I can usually barely make any food from scratch!

Best DIY gifts for Teenagers

Teenagers… they can be a nightmare to buy for let alone make things for! My advice is to not DIY gifts for teens you don’t know that well!

  1. DIY Gold Leaf Jewellery Tray
Jewelry Tray Display

Credit: Homey Oh My

I mean, I would love this now just as much as I would if I were 16!

2. DIY Galaxy Print T-Shirt

Galaxyshirts

Credit: byhandlondon

Fun and cute. Their friends will ask where they got it, you will be cool forever.

3. A Starbucks Cup gift

Credit: somuchtodew

Obviously include a Starbucks gift card but you can tailor this to your teen. Add little Lego toys for boys, think small beauty items like nail varnish for girls.

4. Chalkboard Coasters

Credit: westermanfam

These are a great present for slightly older teens (think 17+) who are about to head off into the wilderness of real life. Everyone needs coasters!

5. DIY Passport Holder

Credit: AlwaysRooney

Feed their wanderlust with a custom passport holder!

6. Soda pop candy bottles

Credit: kmckaydesigns

Technically a father’s day gift but I know a lot of teenage boys who would love this!

7. Lip Balm Locket

Credit: beautylish

Just love everything about this, I am forever without lip balm, anyone want to make this for me?

8. Lounge Pants

Picture of How to Sew Your Own Pajama Pants

Credit: compwalla

Make these in an appropriate fabric, the more aligned with their interests the better! Think Comic Books, Superheroes, Video games, Disney etc. Find out what they like!

9. Heat-resistant Hair Straightener Cozy

Credit: gatheringtwigs

This is a brilliant DIY and parents will thank you for not allowing their house to burn down!

10. DIY giant chevron floor pillows

pin

Credit: OverLovin’

Teenagers will LOVE these floor pillows, brilliant for lounging about with their friends. Try and match the fabrics to their room decor if possible!

Pin this for the future:

TeenOval

Glitter Tipped Nails

Nails

To go with my Halloween outfit, I decided to crack the glitter out and create glitter tipped nails. To do this, I used Rimmel Metal Rush and Rimmel Precious Stones polishes:

MetalRush

Rimmel Metal Rush – Pearly Queen

Preciousstones

Rimmel Precious Stones – Diamond Dust

I started with a clear base coat, then did two coats of the Metal Rush polish. This is a great nail polish in it’s own right, people always comment on it when I wear it as it’s quite unusual. In fact, my boss asked me about it at the end of my job interview!

I then used the Precious Stones polish and started at the tip of my nail, dabbing it along the edge and then gently sweeping it down towards the nail bed. The idea is for the glitter to get lighter towards the bottom of your nail.

Once all of that’s dry, a final clear coat will help it all stay on a bit longer!

I did this for my fairy costume but I think it’ll look great for Christmas parties as well.