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Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov

An English girl hosting a Thanksgiving dinner? Why Not! Thats how I will be spending my day today!

Its that time of year when we should all remember the things we should be thankful for. This year, I have afew special mentions, mainly people, that I am thankful to have in my life:

  • My amazing hubby! AKA the taste tester of all my crazy kitchen adventures! He also ridiculouly tolerant of my kicking him out of the kitchen and baking into the small hours.

  • My amazing Friends and Family. Moving around so much has meant some of them are round the corner, and some are thousands of miles away – but whenever I see them, it feels like the last time I saw them was minutes earlier. My Aunty also thinks my cupcakes look better than some of the ones on ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ !

  • My Twitter Friends – A special Thanks to @KCbakes and @startupprincess for the amazing Start Up chats every Wednesday afternoon! Its provided alot of great and insightful information

  • My two little monsters – They drive me crazy but I would have them any other way!

Its such a hard life, isnt it?

So back to Thanksgiving. Or in our case this year, Friends-giving! With our families being so far away, and Thanksgiving not being celebrated outside of the US this week, we are having a ‘Friends-giving’ dinner!

(NB:This post was written last night, as today will be spent cooking, alot of eating and maybe some drinking with Friends.

Dinner will be the full all-American deal, with Turkey and all the trimmings.

Hopefully this years Turkey will look just as good as this!

Then we get onto my favourite thing – Desserts! I may have gone alittle over board! But Thanksgiving is only once a year right?!

On Tuesday I completed my final Wilton Class, so I already had one desert down! So 1 Gluten Free Chocolate Cake – done!

Next was something I have never actually made before, but I have always wanted to try, Apple Pie. Later in the week I will post up the recipe for this particular pie, but I was happy with the outcome – if I do say so myself!

Finally, It wouldn’t be desert without the classic Cupcake! To give them abit of a Autumn/Fall theme to them, I turned to my copy of Hello Cupcake! for inspiration, and it did not let me down! Volia – Chocolate flavoured -Pumpkin themed Cupcakes!

I just hope everyone has room for these after dinner! I will let you know how they go, as so far they are just tempting me from the other side of my kitchen!

So to all my readers, I hope you have had a great day, and you have plenty to be Thankful for this Holiday season! Thank you for sticking with me!

Help Our Teachers, Help Our Kids #SmartFinalSupportsSoCalSchool

3 Nov

#SmartFinalSupportsSoCalSchool

When I was first asked about being involved in helping promote the Smart & Final campaign for the California Milk Advisory Board “Help Our Teachers, Help Our Kids”, I thought “Am I the right person for this?” I mean, I don’t have kids, so I haven’t been very involved in the ‘schooling’ community in my local area.

However I am a very big believer in making school the best experience it can be for all kids. I loved school when I was younger, and was very lucky to have great teachers and surroundings to help make it a great experience. Also, as a baker, I use Dairy products everyday, so how could helping the local school community be a bad thing!

Smart & Final are taking part in the amazing campaign from the California Milk Advisory Board “Help Our Teachers, Help Our Kids“, with all of its participating First Street products. All Students and families need to do is simply collect Real California milk seals from select First Street products, as seen on these participating products:

Students then give these to their teachers, and then teachers submit seals. Each seal counts as one sweepstakes entry. Teachers who submit 100 seals get 25 Scholastic books or $25 school supply gift card. Each teacher entrant gets one Scholastic book.

The California Milk Advisory Board is going to announce winners in February, BUT Smart & Final is so awesome that they’re doing a separate sweepstakes!

Entrants who go to FirstStreetSupportsSoCalSchools.com and tell why their SoCal school should win will be entered to win $500, $300 or $200 to be donate to the school of their choice EVERY MONTH! So that means that there will be a total of NINE winners, 3 per month, from those that enter at the site! Now I think that’s good odds!

SO utilizing some of the great products as part of this amazing campaign, and with Thanks giving on the way, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite recipes for this time of year. As a Brit who only arrived in the US last year, 2010 was the first all American Thanksgiving we celebrated. My first introduction was through the tradition ‘Pot-Luck’ Lunch at my office. I decided to stick to something safe, as I had no idea what was ‘traditional’ – and deserts have always been my thing.

I’m going to be honest as well here, and please don’t hate me for this people, but I really dislike Pumpkin. Fall is filled with Pumpkin flavoured everything, and I just can’t stand it. So with this in mind, I chose other classic fall flavours, like caramel, apple and cinnamon.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Food Network & Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

For cupcakes

1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs (one whole egg, and one you will just need the egg white)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

For caramel apple filling

4 apples
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter

To make cupcake

  • Preheat oven to 350F, and line cupcake pan with paper liners.

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside for the time being.

  • Beat together the sugar and butter until combined smoothly. Once smooth, add in the egg and 1 egg white and vanilla, and beat on a low speed for 2-3 minutes.

  • Add the flour mixture and milk in alternately. I spilt the flour mix into 3 portions, and the milk into two, making sure to end on the flour mixture. Then mix until the batter is smooth.

  • Fill cupcake liners, to about 2/3rds full and bake for about 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire cooling rack whilst to make your filling.

To make filling

  • Peel your apples and slice them up into small chucks, about the size of a small nut. To stop your apples going brown during this time, add a small amount of lemon juice over them.

  • Combine together all of the dry ingredients, then combine these with your apple chunks in a large bowl, making sure to evenly coat all your pieces.

  • Add the vanilla and heavy cream to the coated apple pieces.

  • Using a pan over low heat, melt your 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook the apple mixture in the skillet for about 10mins, to allow the apples to soften, but not too mushy.

The final touches to fill your cupcakes:

To remove the center of your cupcake, you can use multiple methods. I used a great little tool from Bed Bath and Beyond, a Cupcake Plunger. This a great little tool to remove even patches of cake from the center. Don’t have one of these? You can simply use a small cookie cutter, or using a sharp knife, cutting a small circle. Note: You only want to insert to go down about 2/3rds of the way through the cupcake, allowing the cupcake to look like a pie crust.

Then fill each cupcake with approx. 1 tsp of your caramel apple filling.

If you happen to be serving these out the same day that you make them, I strongly suggest adding s scoop of Dulce de Leche Ice Cream (which is included as part of the California Milk Advisory Board campaign –yay!) to enhance the caramel taste. However these little treats work great on their own, or topped with alittle whipped cream.

Show your support and find out more about Smart &Finals amazing program by following them on Facebook and on Twitter !

NB: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias#CBias , however all opinions expressed and recipes developed are my own. Follow Collective Bias on Twitter (@CollectiveBias).