October 30, 2012
… and I am back!! (Well, sort of)
Yes. My writings on this blog are a bit random. Maybe I can get into the rhythm again? Perhaps not (my moods to blame!). Yea! Someday.
I am weird.
For now, let´s see what brings me here this time ;)
My daughter´s school is having a Halloween party this week and I committed myself to make something for the bake sale. To be sincere, this is our first Halloween party while living in Finland and I had no clue of what people eat there. The only thing I was sure is that there would be tons of cupcakes and tray bakes (bringing more’d be definitely boring!).
I decided for size-wise mini cheesecakes. No fuzz for cutting slices and just perfect to carry easily to the party.
BUT IT IS HALLOWEEN! Hello?
hmm… the decoration! Oh gosh, cupcakes are so much nicer to decorate with spooky touches! After brainstorming (uh, you certainly don’t want to see me doing that. Hubs says I have lightning clouds on top of my head. Every time) I came to an idea when I thought about the bilberry sauce that goes with the cheesecakes. Hmmm… yummy blood clots (eeeek)… topped with eyeballs. Just enough creepy!
Mini Baked Cheesecakes for Halloween
adapted from a recipe posted already here
Makes 24 individual cheesecakes
For the crust:
- 300 g Digestive biscuits, finely crumbled
- 140 g butter, melted (I used HYLA, low lactose)
For the cheese filling:
- 400 g cream cheese, full fat, softened
- 200 ml cream (I used HYLA, low lactose)
- 100 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- bilberry jam (I used organic)
- round shaped white candies. I used sugar coated snowballs Toffee bonbons (toffee pallot / lumipallot)
- food decorating pens (edible markers): red, blue and green
- black marzipan
Line 24 holes of two muffin pans with muffin cases.
Finely crush the biscuits in a strong freezer plastic bag. Add the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and “knead” until well combined. Note that you can use the plastic as a mixing vessel (no dirty dishes yet!). Alternatively, use a food processor to crush the biscuits and mix the butter.
Divide the crust mixture evenly among cases pressing firmly down with your finger or the back of a spoon. Set the pans aside while making the filling.
Beat the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer until it gets smooth and creamy. Don´t overdo it otherwise you will incorporate too much air into the mixture and it will “puff” in the oven. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add lemon juice and cream and mix again.
Pour the filling evenly among cases.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before storing in the fridge.
Cheesecakes are ready to serve when they are completely set and cold.
Making the “eyes”:
Simply draw/paint the white candy balls with the edible pens to depict eyes (green/blue for the iris and red for the arteries/veins) . For the pupil I used a tiny ball made with black marzipan, mostly because my black edible pen ended (*lol*)
Horrific? Eye popping! (yuck)
Before taking the cheesecakes to the school I added about one teaspoon of bilberry jam to each cheesecake and decorated with one toffee “eye”.
April 17, 2012
Back to writing with a crafty post!
It is quite funny I know… a chicken drumstick?
Well… all started with a request from my youngest daughter (and I am so lame to say no to them…): “can you make a meat-food to my Bowser toy? You know mommy, Bowser needs to eat, you could make that chicken thingie.”
(little intermission: Pikkusiili got a Bowser plush toy on her birthday. It is one of her favorite plush characters so far and she treats him like a teddy bear >.<. Oh! And you know who’s Bowser, that one from the Super Mario bros video games! )
Took me a while to understand what she wanted exactly. I asked her to draw an example and then I figured out it was a Chicken Drumstick, an item from the DS game Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. I bought the game to myself but eventually my girls ended up playing it more than I (*mimimi*) !
Here´s the screenshot with the item:
So, you can use different types of Drumsticks to restore the health of Bowser during the game. The “spicier” the item, the more it heals :D.
I wasn’t so sure about the size of the Drumstick so I just free styled the pattern and started sewing it right away. Must say, my daughter was very pleased with the result!
Not bad right?
April 4, 2012
Trying to enjoy the wonders of Spring, we decided to grow our own Easter grass this year. There´s no sign of green outside yet (we just had snow this week!) so I thought girls would be delighted to get their own piece of green for Easter.
We usually travel to my in-laws on Easter holidays, main reason I didn’t encourage my daughters to have their own baskets at home before (they often get pretty ones from their grandmother!).
You see… it was really exciting for them to watch the grass grow from seeds to “bush”. Too bad our lack of experience resulted in irregular surfaces :P. Next time I figured we need to use more seeds (even if the package says the opposite!).
Anyways, girls acquired a new skill and had fun at same time :D.
A beautiful package right? This was made by Luonnonvoima in her pre-school. It has barley grass in. Yep, I admit, it is prettier than ours >_<!
Girls trying different styling: LV has the orange basket and little PS the purple :) *the chick is flying mommy!*
We are off for the holidays and as you might have guessed already, we are spending the long weekend with my girls´ grandparents.
Wish you all a very Happy Easter! Hyvää Pääsiäistä! Feliz Páscoa!
March 28, 2012
Yep, the first Spring bento that I make after a long “bento-break”! Actually… I can’t even consider we have Spring yet! *lol*
There is still plenty of snow everywhere but surprisingly it is melting relatively fast. Uh, I really hate this time of the year… everything is still so brown, dusty, slushy and all kinds of ugly stuff gets uncovered when the snow goes away. I am totally looking forward to see green, sprouts and flowers :)
Until the time comes, we need to cheer up ourselves with imaginary bunnies and chicks >_< …
Inside the boxes: Lettuce bed with a bunny onigiri (cheeks made of carrot and nose made of sausage), tamagoyaki chick with carrot beak, steamed broccoli, mini plum tomato, spinach with ponzu sauce, nitrate and msg free pan fried hot dogs. Smaller box contains sweet corn, raw carrots, broccoli, red grapes and a clementine.
Note the cute new bunny pick I got! Thanks to a special bento friend ^_^.
How´s the Spring / Autumn where you live? Hope nice!!
March 22, 2012
A couple of months ago my daughters got a cooking book from the book club we belong to. The book is in Finnish and the title translates to ” Hellapoliisi – My first recipes. Learn to cook!”
My girls were very enthusiastic about trying all the recipes, they are very kid-oriented (in other words, easy to follow and execute) and covers pretty much many traditional meals from Finnish households.
While browsing the book with the girls I told I could help to make some of the recipes with them, the first one being a classic tray bake cake called “mokkapalat“.
Yesterday I was woken up by my smaller daughter pushing the book against my head telling “mommy, we were supposed to bake that mocha cake today remember?” . UH, do I pay for my silly promises??
I have tried a different recipe for the same cake before. It is really a classic sweet treat and as you can guess, it is very “sugary”. Here in Finland they are a traditional pairing for coffee but kids happily eat them with a glass of cold milk.
Mokkapalat – Mocha squares
from this book . Yields about 20 squares or one baking tray*
*note: it is quite common that Finnish ovens come with baking trays, one flat and another slightly deeper. I used the deep one and it measures aprox. 35 cm x 32 cm . If you don’t have such, you can use Swiss roll pan or the biggest rectangular baking pan you find. Nevertheless, the cake might become a bit taller if you do so.
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 3 dl caster sugar (1dl = 85g)
- 4 1/2 dl wheat flour (1dl=65g)
- 1/2 dl cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150 g melted unsalted butter. Save 1/2 dl for the icing
- 1 dl milk
For the icing
- 300 g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 dl melted unsalted butter
- 1/2 dl hot strong coffee
- sprinkles or shredded dry coconut
Line your baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 225 °C.
Place the eggs and sugar into the bowl of your mixer and whisk until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl mix together the rest of the dry ingredients, using a sieve if necessary.
Remove the bowl from your mixer and start adding the flour mixture. Add the milk and at last, fold carefully the melted butter.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and use a spatula to even the surface.
Bake for 13-15 minutes in the middle of your oven, until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
When the tray has come out from the oven, prepare the icing by mixing all the ingredients together. The icing will look like a thick chocolate paste. Spread evenly onto the warm cake and immediately sprinkle your choice of decoration (we used hundreds and thousands ^_^)
Allow to set. Cut into squares and remove from the baking tray.
I also made Hello Kitty mocha mini cakes using a cookie cutter. The perfect small size for little girls ;)!
February 7, 2012
February has arrived! And inspired by a sweet Valentine´s card my girls received today from their great-grandparents, I made a bento with the love theme ^_^.
Contents: Iri-dofu (tofu scramble), mini plum tomato, steamed broccoli, nectarine slices, mandarine orange and a cute cup (ありがとう M!) with carrot sticks and red grapes. The brown puppy is made with rice mixed with shoyu and the white one is a plain onigiri with nori details. *SMOOOOOCH*
Pikkusiili said I should have put more ketchup on the puppy´s cheek, because it was too “pale”. Did she mean no blushing enough? XD
Ah yes… some friends have been asking how are we doing with all the news about the severe winter in Europe. We are doing fine :), there is indeed plenty of snow and some very cold days… I guess we are used, it doesn’t bother us so much.
When the girls can’t go outside to play we try to do some activities at home. They got mini baking equipment toys on Christmas from my in-laws and grandmother taught them to make salt play dough to use with the stuff.
I made the dough again, it is a very easy no-cook recipe. So simple but surely delivered a few hours of entertainment to my daughters! Our “fake bakery” was a success then ^_^.
Taikataikina / no cook salt play dough
adapted from here . Taikataikina means “magic dough” also called suolataikina in Finnish (suola=salt, taikina=dough)
- 6 dl wheat flour (about 3 cups)
- 3 dl salt (11/2 cup)
- 3 dl warm water (300ml , warm enough to dissolve the salt)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)
- food coloring if desired
Combine the salt and flour in a mixing bowl. The coarser the salt, the more the granulous effect.
Make a well in the dry mixture and gradually add the water, kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add the vegetable oil and combine everything again.
For the colored dough, I divided the neutral dough into 4 pieces and added food coloring (red, blue and yellow) to each, kneading until getting an even color. For the other colors, I just let the girls mix the basic balls and have fun with the discoveries.
While playing I recommend covering the unused dough with plastic because it tends to dry very fast.
The salt dough can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Happy week friends!
January 23, 2012
After a long break I am back :).
I hope you all had a great beginning of new year ^_^. As for myself, I was sick again… it feels much better this week, I am done with the flu for now. YAY!
Today for the first time during winter, LV went to pre school with her pulk (sled). We usually don’t allow her to because the most of the time, the snowy sidewalks are covered with a layer of sand, which damages pretty much the bottom of her sled. It has been snowing constantly lately in Helsinki and for some reason, the snowplow didn’t clear up the sidewalks this morning.
In the afternoon, big sister was so enthusiastic about playing with the sled, she convinced Pikkusiili to go out to play too. The result was having two hungry little girls coming home :). I prepared two bentos, my attempt to celebrate the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year). It is the Year of the Dragon!!
(Lau! Feliz Ano do Dragao ;)
Contents: Farfalle pasta with spinach, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, red onions, walnuts and pecans, mini plum tomato, lettuce, red grapes, cucumber and a tiny mandarin orange. The dragon girl is a dessert-sandwich made with whole grain bread, nutella, green soy wrap, details made with cucumber, cheese, nori, wakame seaweed and jam for the cheeks :).
Ok… it is embarrassing, the girl should have looked like this (my earlier sketch-fooling around):
Hmm.. does the bento-girl look like a dragon at all?
Hmm.. ok… maybe a frog… Ahahahahah!
Happy Lunar New Year for my friends who celebrate it!
April 18, 2011
Wow! Another “monday bento” ! I said “wow” because my mondays are usually so busy I don’t even think about making any bento to the girls…
But this time was special. I promised myself I was going to make an Easter-theme bento this year and I had to hurry to make it today. We will be traveling for the Easter holidays and week will be short… not sure when I’ll be having time, I made an effort to post something today.
My girls went all “aaws” “ooohs” when they saw their meal ^__^! “Pääsiäistipu!!” (Easter chick in Finnish) … Luonnonvoima added also that the girls look like them :)
By the way, to make the chicks I used the same design from a felt magnet I crafted years ago, when my youngest daughter was born.
Inside the boxes: romaine lettuce, homemade chicken meatballs braised in yakisoba sauce, tofu with caramelized onions (under the meatballs), steamed asparagus spears (briefly fried with the meatballs), raw baby carrots, pearl tomato, grapes and clementines. Onigiri “chick” made with rice, soy wrap, nori, cooked carrot for the beak and a little ketchup for the cheeks.
That´s it! Have a great week friends!
PS: my Bento Box Toy set is still being auctioned! Please check the eBay page ;)! Happy bidding!
April 15, 2011
Update on 27.04.2011: The box has been sold for $107,50! I am so happy it reached such price :). Thank you very much for everyone who got interested about it and specially, to the auction winner! The set is already on its way to WA ^_^!
As I posted here before, a group of bento lovers across the globe got together to raise funds for Japan. My fabulous fellow bento bloggers have been working hard keeping the Bento4Japan alive and at full steam.
The charity auctions on eBay have been terrific! Lots of bento boxes and gear had found new owners and I can only thank to the beautiful people´s generosity.
Everyone knows that I wanted to offer something to be auctioned for the cause. The problem is that I really can’t find anything suitable for the theme where I live. Bento gear is rare, most of my personal purchases were made online.
It is true I selected stuff from my own collection to offer in the Bento4Japan raffle (by the way! The winners had been picked already, just give us a little more time and we will announce them :). My contribution is already traveling to the lucky one!).
So I thought… would it be bad to offer something handmade? Inspired by my friends who always support and keep me going ahead, I decided to craft my offering for Bento4Japan ^__^.
Bento box food play set – eBay auction
I handcrafted this lovely take away style bento box meal, perfect for pretended play or for display. The items are about life-sized and hand stitched with love and care for details.
I really try my best to make things in a way they last but felt and yarn creations are not as plastic ones, they won´t probably last as much as they would have been made from another “long lasting” material.
This set will be a joy for your little one to serve you obento anytime! (And you can also sneak to the play and practice making your bento too ;))
Most of the items which belong to the box were featured in my previous post , with addition of these little ones:
So… without further ado, what is inside the box!
- 1 lettuce leaf
- 2 onigiris (rice balls)
- 1 shiozake piece (salted salmon)
- 1 lotus root (renkon) slice
- 1 kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) wedge
- 1 broccoli floret
- 1 shiitake mushroom
- 2 tamagoyaki (omelet) slices: spinach and traditional
- 1 carrot flower
- 1 edamame pod
- 1 cherry tomato with wooden pick
- 1 usagi ringo (apple bunny)
- 2 grapes
- 1 strawberry
- 1 orange slice
- 2 food cups (paper and felt polka dot)
- 1 pair of bamboo chopsticks – not disposable type
- 1 origami chopstick “envelope”
The full description of the materials and other important information can be read in the auction page for the bento box.
I hope this can raise some money. Remember, 100% of the proceeds will go to to GlobalGiving’s Japan Relief fund. If you win, be sure you are getting something made from the heart.
Please take a look, this is the auction page! Check out the other Bento4Japan auctions too ;).