today we took the girls dressed in their bunny costumes to camden town and had lunch. they were really cute and they had a really good time being pretending to be bunnies.


Pumpkin Cupcakes

i've been wanting to practice my new cake decorating skills so i decided to make these pumpkin cupcakes for halloween. i'm pretty happy with the way they turned out. i did then two slightly different ways. the ones of the left i piped the orange stars on first and then went back over them to pipe the faces. the ones of the right i piped the faces on first and then went back and piped the stars around the faces. i like them both and can't decide which ones i like better. what do you think? (btw the way you are supposed to do it is the way the ones on the right are done.)

Herne Bay

we spent last week in herne bay. every year our center takes the old age pensioners that are part of our wednesday lunch group on holiday. this year dan and i were the drivers for our group, dan drove the minibus and i drove our car and followed. it was a fun week, but exhausting. the girls had great fun playing with everybody and knew everyone's name by the end of the trip. one afternoon we went to the seaside and the girls had a great time splashing in the water in their wellies and digging in the sand. here are some pictures from our week.


Gruyere Soup with Bacon and Potatoes

after carving pumpkins this morning we had this delicious soup for lunch. it was very easy and quick to make. i served it with hot dinner rolls. the next time i make it i might even add more cheese and i would definately garnish each bowl with extra grated gryere cheese. here's the recipe...

...recipe slightly adapted from The Humble Spud
6 slices smoked bacon, chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
1 pint chicken stock
1 1/2 pints water
1 1/4 pounds potatoes, cut in half inch cubes
4 tablespoons flour
4-6 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce

1. Fry the bacon in a saucepan until crispy. Remove bacon and pour off some of the bacon fan. Add the onions ons:ructiand cook in reserve fat until golden. Add the chicken stock, 1 pint of the water, and the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
2. In a small bowl whisk the flour into the remaining 1/2 pint of water, then stir into soup. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. In a blender or food processor, blend grated gruyere with 1/2 pint of the soup. Stir the puree back into the rest of the soup, then add worcestershire sauce. Simmer 3-5 minutes.
4. Serve immeadiatly.

Pumpkin Carving

this morning we went to tesco and the girls each picked out a pumpkin to carve. we brought them home and they each scraped out the insides of their own pumpkin and helped decide what kind of face to put on the pumkin. jodie wanted a happy pumpkin and andi wanted a sad pumpkin.

here are the girls pumpkins lit up at night. they had a great time just looking at them in the dark.


Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic, Chilli, & Mushrooms

we had an early dinner tonight. dan brought esther over for a quick dinner before they had to rush off to kids club at six at ley street. this dish was really flavorful and very easy to make. we'll definately have this one again. here's the recipe...

...recipe from Truly, Madly Pasta : The Ultimate Book for Pasta Lovers2 whole garlic bulbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red chilli
10 ounces flat mushrooms
6 ounces shitake mushrooms
12 ounces rigatoni
freshly ground salt and pepper
150 milliliters double cream (1/4 pint)
freshly grated paremsan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F. Slice the tops off the whole garlic bulbs and put in a roasting tin. Drizzle with a little oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. They will become golden and papery on the outside. Leave to cool slightly.

2. Finely chop the chilli, discarding the seeds. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry for 8 minutes. Add the chilli and the crushed garlic, and cook for a further 4 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boilng water until done.

4. While the pasta is cooking, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves like toothepaste from a tube to extract the garlic pulp from each clove. Add the pulp to the mushroom mixture. Stir in the cream and add salt and pepper.

5. Drain the cooked pasta and pour the pasta into the sauce and mix. Serve with the grated parmesan cheese over the top.


Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns

i made this for dinner tonight and it was really good. it was much better than i thought it would be. i even forgot to add the spring onions and the peanuts and it was still good, but it would have been even better if i had remembered them. it was also really easy to make. here's the recipe...

...recipe ever so slightly adapted from the november 2005 issue of Good Food magazine
8 ounces medium or thin rice noodles
12 ounces raw prawns, peeled (shrimp)
6 tablespoons groundnut oil (peanut oil)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 limes, juiced
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
4 ounces roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced

1. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the garlic, chillies and onion, then fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the prawns, then fry for a further 2 minutes, or until pink. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice and toss in the noodles. Heat through for 1-2 minutes. Move the stir fry ingredients to the edge of the pan, then add egg, spreading over the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then stir into little shreds. Combine the egg with the main ingredients and half the coriander leaves, peanuts and spring onions.
3. Serve with the remaining coriander, peanuts, and spring onions sprinkled over the top.


Cinnamon Filo Rolls

after making the spring rolls for lunch i still had a few sheets of filo left over. filo is hard to save and use later because it drys out very quickly. so to use up the extra filo i decided to make a little dessert for the girls and i. they were super easy to make and really delicious. they would go great with tea or coffee. here's how i made them...

fold one sheet of filo in half. brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. continue to fold and brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar until you have a small rectangle. then roll the filo. after rolling brush the top with a little more butter and sprinkle with a little sugar. then place on a baking sheet. bake at about 375F for about 10 minutes or until golden. sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve them.

Spring Rolls

i made these for lunch today and they were really good. i got the idea out of asda's free magazine. they were really easy to make. i bought a jar of sweet and sour sauce to serve them with. here's the recipe...

...recipe adapted from asda magazine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cans stir fry mixed vegetables, drained
2 tablespoons teryaki sauce
200g small cooked prawns
1 pack frozen filo dough, thawed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
vegetable oil

preheat the oven to about 375 F. heat the sesame oil in a frying pan and stir fry vegetables for about 2 minutes. add teryakin sauce and prawns and cook about 2 more minutes. remove from heat.
fold each sheet of filo in half and brush with vegetable oil. spoon about 1/12 of the mixture onto the filo and roll up to make a spring roll. brush with a little more oil and sprinkle with seseame seeds. put on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes or until golden.


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

dan is preaching at city of peace this afternoon, so we have been hanging out at home all morning. dan has been working on his sermon and i've been doing laundry and making a grocery list while the girls watched blues clues. and while lunch was in the oven we all played uno together. sylviana, the cook at cafe forever, makes this great macaroni and cheese and i've been wanting to try it out at home. it has this great crust on top that gives it a nice crunch. it was delicious! andi especially liked it. if it doesn't look like macaroni in the picture, it's because i had to use a different pasta shape, the grocery store was out of macaroni when i went. here's the recipe...

...recipe sylviana's creation
double cream (aboutr 2 cups)
sour cream
mild cheddar cheese, grated
red leicester cheese, grated
garlic italian pasta spice blend
freshly ground pepper
bread crumbs
macaroni, cook according the the package directions

before i start with the instructions i'll explain a few of the ingredients first. i don't think you can get double cream in the states. the closest thing to it would be heavy whipping cream, but double cream is thicker. red leicester cheese is similar to cheddar and gives the dish a good color. if you can't find it i would use a sharp cheddar. the garlic italian pasta blend is just a spice blend that you can get here, i'm sure you could find something similar.

heat the cream in a medium sauce pan. gradually add the cheese, stirring until melted and combined, reserving some cheese for sprinkling on the top. sprinkle in the spice blend and pepper. grease a 13 x 9 inch bakind dish. put the cooked pasta in the dish and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta to cover completely. sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and then sprinkle with bread crumbs. place in a 450 F oven and bake until crispy on top and bubbly.


Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops

the wallins left this morning to go back home. so for our last night together we played 2 gaimes of settlers of catan and ate lamb, it was lots of fun. with the lamb i served fried polenta, roasted red peppers, and roasted eggplant with pesto. most of the pictures didn't turn out very well, they were all too dark, so the only thing you get to see is the lamb. here is the recipe for the lamb...

...recipe my own creation
lamb chops
garlic cloves, pressed (lots)
shallot, finely chopped
fresly ground salt and pepper
toasted bread crumbs
olive oil

place the chops under the broiler for about 7 minutes. mix the rest of the ingredients together, adding enough olive oil for it all to kind of stick together. remove the chops from the broiler and flip over. gently press the garlic mixture onto the raw side of the meat. stick back under the broiler until desired doneness is reached.


Cake Decorating

last week i started taking a cake decorating class. on monday night i had my second class. so far it has been really good and i'm learning alot. today i finished decorating the cake that we started learning how to do on monday. i think it turned out pretty well for my first time. there is still room for improvement. i need to work on getting the icing covering the cake smoother and i had a couple of problems getting the pattern for the rainbow onto the cake, so it ended up being a little bit more freehand. all in all though i'm happy with it.

Chilli Dinner

on saturday night we had our team (the halls and the wallins) over for a chilli dinner after spending the day hanging out together in greenwich. we spent the eveining eating and praying together. here's my recipe for the chilli...

recipe my own creation...
3 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped
8 cans whole plum tomatoes, chopped
3 cans kidney beans, undrained
brown sugar
red wine
chilli powder

cook onions and ground beef together in a large pot until the beef is browned. drain off fat. add the tomatoes, kidney bean juice, brown sugar, red wine, and chilli powder. bring to a boil and simmer for a few hours. add the kidney beans and heat through. serve.