Caramel and Banana Layer Cake

Being the party animals that we are, we decided to ask a couple of friends over to our place for New Years Eve.  Even though we were all still getting over the excess of food and goodies we had been consuming during the past week, I still wanting to make something yummy – and a little naughty for our New Years dessert. I’ve made this cake a few times now and the recipe is from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2.  This time I decided to add banana to the layers in the attempt to bring a little bit of goodness to an otherwise sweet and yummy dessert.

It was a lovely night, spent with some great friends.  Alas our toddlers partied more than we did, with the adults happy to sit back and watch them expend what seemed to be a never ending supply of energy…..  If only they could have passed some on to us, we were all in bed by 11pm!

I hope you are all having a great start to the year

xx

caramel and banana layer cake

1 1/4 cups plain flour

6 eggs

3 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

125g butter – melted

2 cups thickened cream

vanilla essence

2 tablespoons icing sugar

1 banana – sliced thinly

caramel sauce – cooled

Caramel Sauce

– 3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup of single or pouring cream (I’ve also used thickened cream in the past and it has still turned out fine).

 

– Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Line and grease a 18cm square tin

– Sift the flour three times and put aside.

– Put the eggs, caster sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and beat together for 8-10 minutes with an electric mixer until mixture is pale and thick and has tripled in size

– Sift flour over the mixture and fold together gently, then fold in the butter.

– Using a spoon, put mixture into tin, and bake for 25 minutes.

– While cake is baking, make caramel sauce by stirring together brown sugar and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat and simmer for around 8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.  Let the sauce cool slightly in the saucepan, before transferring to another container and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool completely

– Cool cake in tin for 5 minutes and then turn onto a cake cooling rack – leave until completely cooled before slicing cake in half

– Beat together cream, drop of vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar until cream is whipped

– Spread half of cake with cream, cover with half of the banana slices, and half of the caramel sauce

– Carefully place top layer onto the cake and repeat.

– I like to leave this cake for an hour or so in the fridge, then remove around 15minutes prior to serving.  It’s best eaten the day of/day after making.

Baptism Cake – Butter Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Setting off on our 1700km road trip down to Victoria, we didn’t make any plans as to where we would stop, or how far we wanted to get each day.  The only deadline we had was that we needed to be in arrive by the Sunday morning (we left on Friday morning), as our boys were being baptised at the local church that morning.

Thankfully the boys were PERFECT (well, close enough anyway!) and we arrived a whole 24 hours before the baptism.  Although it was a small event, of course we needed a cake to celebrate!! In theory this gave me plenty of time to make and decorate one for them.

I decided to go with a simple butter cake, topped with butter cream – the same one I made for my sister’s baby shower.  I bought some very cute animal cake toppers from Coles, and also used smarties to decorate – I did need 2 large bags to get enough of the colours that I wanted!

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I only finished decorating the cake 10 minutes before we had to leave for Church as I had no little help from my husband who decided to go riding that morning and lost track of time – but let’s not even get me started on that!

Baptism Cake

The cake was a big success, there was way too much for just seven adults, but Liam was more than keen to try some!

This is such a versatile and easy cake to make.  Even though you need to make two cakes to get the four layers, it still takes no time at all to put together.  After the stress of getting everyone and the cake ready, it was a very fitting way to end what turned out to be a beautiful day xx

baptism 2

2014 – One Word

After weeks of pondering, deliberating and having strange arguments in my head (I’m positive I wasn’t talking out loud) as to what my word for the year would be, the inspiration came to me during a simple ordinary moment.

Simple.

That’s it.. That’s my word for 2014.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about surviving being my word for 2013.  I have been faced with many challenges over the past year, and have achieved both positive and not so positive results.  One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to enjoy and cherish  the simple, everyday moments of my life.

My husband constantly  occasionally reminds me I can overcomplicate things. As much as it pains me to say this (and this will be good test to see if he actually reads my blog as he claims!), he is right.  Over the past few years, all too often I find myself over analysing every single thing…. everything from a passing comment by a stranger, to a routine test/scan, would have me looking for hidden meanings/worst case scenarios and how I would manage them.

This is why in 2014 I’m keeping it simple.

*  I will live more in the moment. I will soak up every special moment I share with my precious boys – my husband included!

*  I will stop worrying so much about what I think people are thinking and expecting of me.

* I will stop looking for hidden meanings in EVERYTHING!

*  I will slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as feeling the grass beneath my feet, and the sunshine on my face as we play outside in this beautiful Queensland weather.

* I will do more of the things that I enjoy – reading, writing and of course baking!

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Do you have a word for 2014?

I look forward to sharing my journey with you this year, and thank you all again for your support xx

I’m linking up today with Maxabellaloves Happy New Year everyone!

Good bye 2013

This is it, the final day of 2013 is upon us.  For many it’s a time to reflect on what has been, and think about what we want to achieve in the coming year.  Personally I have been thinking about these things for the past couple of months, and have started implementing strategies to help me achieve my goals in the new year.

I am pleased to say good bye to 2013, not because it has been a terrible year, it has been an important year of personal growth for me. Sitting here typing away, while all of my boys are asleep (daddy included) I feel content.  I am in awe of the special little family my husband and I have created – with a lot of help from some incredibly talented and lovely Doctors!  I am content with my life right now.  Yes, there are challenges which lay ahead of us, and goals we are working towards, but right now sitting here having my second cup of coffee for the day (hey I’m allowed, it’s 5.15am!) and watching the sky lighten as a new day unfolds, I am content with my life.

It has been both the good and not so good experiences this year which have shaped me, and this morning I’d like to share some of my highlights of this year…..

* Sharing the pregnancy journey with my sister – albeit for a short time!

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* Welcoming another precious little boy into our family

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* Watching Liam master new skills…. and work on others!

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* Having the privilege of spending the final weeks of my sister’s pregnancy with her, and meeting her precious little man shortly after his birth

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* Finally taking the plunge and starting my blog! It’s also been a wonderful excuse to justify all of my baking!

Vanilla cupcakes

* Getting out and about with my boys

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* Being a Wife, Mum, Sister, Daughter…..

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* And being me…

sep13 hazelnut and caramel slice mirror

 

Finally, below is one of my first blog posts – remembering my Nan on what would have been her 106th birthday.  It was my early experiences sitting in her kitchen all those years ago, that ignited my passion for baking and cooking.

Happy Birthday Nan

My new 'Nana Bowl' and one of her recipe books

Thank you for all of your support over the past few months and I wish you all a happy and safe new year and all the best for a wonderful 2014 xx

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for the final #IBOT of the year

Our Bedtime Routine

It’s no secret that I like to be organised – or at least feel like I am organised!  Having a routine is vital for me to get through the day – especially with the two boys  When Liam was around 10 weeks old, I made the decision to start following a routine, especially around bedtime.  It was starting to get ridiculous – his bedtime kept stretching out further and further, until he was going to bed after 10pm.  I know routines are not for everyone, but in those early days I was willing to try anything to help me feel more in control. Then following Aiden’s arrival, it became more important for me to have some kind of structure for bedtime, otherwise things would quickly go downhill fast – as I discovered a few too many times!

In our house, it’s an early dinner for the boys before we head upstairs for baths, stories and milk before bed.  Bath time has always been one of the highlights of our day, if Liam is in a cranky mood (which often happens around the infamous ‘witching hour’), having a play and wash in the bath always cheers him up – especially when Aiden joins him in there.

It can be easy to get caught up in the processes of getting the boys ready for bed, I found myself on ‘autopilot’ bathing and dressing the boys and getting them ready for bed, and not really enjoying the time.  I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to review Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, Lotion and Oil, as it’s made me slow down and enjoy our pre bed routine more.

Reading through the product information I received, it all made sense – following a three step routine – a warm bath using Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, Massage with Baby Bedtime Lotion and then quiet time, is clinically proven to help babies fall asleep easier, sleep longer and perhaps most importantly reduce tension and anxiety in Mums (which I’m definitely all for!). We’ve always used Johnson’s baby products – mainly because I can remember them from my own childhood, but I hadn’t used the bedtime products since the early days with Liam.

Both the boys love having a bath together, and the bubbles create by the Bedtime Bath were a big hit!  I’m always wary of the boys skin drying out when using new products (as my skin is really prone to dryness), but they both came out smelling lovely and feeling soft.   I’ve never really given the boys a massage after their baths, it always been a quick application of sorbelene cream if needed, some nappy free time and then they are dressed.  After using the Bedtime Lotion and Oil to give Aiden a massage, I know I have been missing out!

bath

Aiden just loved his massage.  We first used the Bedtime Lotion, and then the Bedtime Baby Oil, I was only a couple of minutes in before his eyes started glazing over.  Running my hands down his arms and legs I could feel his was totally chilled out.

Not wanting to miss out, Liam then bounded over and started to give himself a massage – he was a little confused as to what the Baby Bedtime Oil was, calling it water and trying to drink it!

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Amazingly, Liam was able to keep still for a few minutes whilst I rubbed in the enormous amount of Lotion and Oil he had poured onto his belly (a little goes a long way), he too began to relax and the familiar sleepy eye glaze began to take over.  Afterwards, both boys were relaxed and content as well as both smelling lovely and their skin was beautiful and soft.  Then after their bedtime milk and a story (ok a few stories) they easily went off to bed.

As well as both the boys enjoying their bath and massage, I also really enjoyed slowing down and enjoying special moments with them both.  They are both growing up too fast – Liam will be 2 next week (eek!) – and I know as they get older these special, quiet moments will become few and far between.  We’ve now made an after bath massage with our Bedtime Lotion and OIl part of our bedtime routine.  It certainly helps both of my boys wind down and relax at the end of their day, and it has been easier to settle them both in bed, and they do both sleep through the night (even if it’s not in their own bed).  Now if only Johnson’s could come up a product to help Liam sleep all night in his own bed – rather than finding him on his floor/under his bed/hallway or couch in the mornings I would really appreciate it!!

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I’d love to hear from you – do you follow a bedtime routine? What do you do to help your kids wind down before bed?

Disclosure 

I received this product for the specific purpose of providing an honest review. No financial compensation was received and all opinions are my own

Christmas Leftovers – Quinoa, Vegetable and Fetta Salad & Baby Puree

Like a lot of people, I woke up this morning with a massive food hangover.  Whilst I didn’t really overeat yesterday, the food that I ate was much richer than my normal diet.  Opening the fridge today and seeing all the leftovers just waiting to be devoured over the next few days was enough to make my stomach turn.

As we had quite a few leftover veggies, and I needed to make some more food for baby Aiden, I mixed together our leftovers with some cooked quinoa as well as some feta and seeds in an attempt to return to our healthy eating ways.  It tasted great, and we didn’t need a huge amount to fill us up for lunch (I did leave room for some trifle though!).

Quinoa & Vegetable Salad

 

For Aiden’s puree, I picked out 10 or so baby spinach leaves from the salad mix we had and lightly steamed them, before adding to the quinoa and veggie mix and blitzing for around 20 seconds with a stick mixer.  Our little man loved his lunch – lucky as he will be also having it for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow!

Baby Puree Vegies & Quinoa

 

You can use any leftover veggies that you may have, and you could also add any left over meat (e.g. chicken, turkey).  I used:

Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato (approx 500g)

2 roasted carrots

2 corn cobs (kernals removed)

1 cup of cooked peas

1/2 cup of fetta cheese crumbled

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pepitas

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

* Cook quinoa as per instructions on packet, add vegetables, seeds and fetta and stir to combine – Serve

To make the baby puree – I steamed approx 10 baby spinach leaves in the microwave for 20 seconds, added to the quinoa and vegetables (no seeds) and blitzed with a stick mixer for approx 20 seconds.

What are you doing with your Christmas leftovers?

 

Hazelnut and Caramel Slice

Caramel Slice is one of my FAVOURITE treats, especially Donna Hay’s version which is made with 2 tins of condensed milk to give it a truly decadent caramel layer.  After our 1600km car trip, we were greeted with plate of this slice to for morning tea.  I didn’t think Caramel Slice could be improved, until I tried a piece of my Mum’s slice – instead of plain chocolate on top, she instead used hazelnut chocolate….. yum!!

This Caramel Slice recipe is from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2, next time I make this recipe at home, I will be definitely be using hazelnut chocolate.

hazelnut and caramel slice

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup brown sugar

125g melted butter

1/3 cup golden syrup

125g melted butter

2 x 400g tins of condensed milk

220g block of cadbury hazelnut chocolate

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

* Combine plain flour, coconut, brown sugar and 125g of melted butter and stir together. Press into a slice tin, fully lined with baking paper hanging over the sides

* Bake in 180 degree oven for 15 minutes – remove and allow to cool

* Combine 125g melted butter, golden syrup and condensed milk in a saucepan over a low heat and stir for approx 7 minutes until mixture has thickened slightly

* Pour caramel mixture over the top of base and bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and put into the fridge until slice has completely cooled

* Place chocolate and vegetable oil in a microwave safe bowl and cook in 30 second bursts until chocolate has melted.

* Pour over slice and place in the fridge until almost set – it’s much easier to cut into slices when it isn’t fully set.

Enjoy!