Bailey's Chocolate Truffles

28 September 2012

I'm a huge fan of both chocolate and Bailey's so when I found this recipe in a really old recipe book of mine I just had to have a go. And it just so happened that I'd just bought a bottle of the new limited edition flavour of Bailey's... Orange Truffle. You have to buy some! It's amazing,  it tastes just like chocolate orange. 

The great thing about these truffles (apart from being really easy to make) is that they don't need to be kept in the fridge. Most truffle recipes contain cream so have to be refrigerated which can be a.pain when you want to give them as gifts. I'm going to make a double batch of these near Christmas. Wrapped in pretty tissue paper and tied up with ribbon, they'd make lovely little stocking fillers.

I made some without the Bailey's for the Darlings and rolled them in multi coloured sprinkles. They loved them!

Bailey's Chocolate Truffles

Makes 20

100g good quality (70% cocoa solids) plain chocolate
100g unsalted butter
100g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
2 tblsp Baileys

Decorations or dustings of your choice e.g. choc sprinkles, cocoa, icing sugar, coconut, chopped nuts. The list is endless!

Break the chocolate up and place in a bowl with the butter, over a saucepan simmering water. When melted, remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients and give a good mix.

Let the mixture cool then cover and put into the fridge until it firms up, which takes about 2 hours.

When the chocolate mixture is nice and firm, scoop out a heaped teaspoon, quickly roll into a ball and cover in your choice of topping. I usually pop them back in the fridge after rolling them to firm up again. You can put them in a mini cupcake case if you like.

Please note this is not a sponsored post. I just love Bailey's and making yummy things with it!
What treats have you used Bailey's in? Feel free to share your recipes!


Reasons To Be Cheerful 27.09.12

27 September 2012

I'll have to dig deep to find something to be cheerful about this week. On Monday, my friend told me that her 18 month old son has just been diagnosed with liver cancer and is starting chemo tomorrow. I can't stop thinking about her, and him of course. It's any parents' absolute worst nightmare and I can't even begin to imagine how she's feeling. When you hear such heart wrenching news it truly makes you put your life into perspective and count your blessings.

So please pop over to visit Mich at Mummy From The Heart who hosts my favourite linky.
  •  I thank God and any other powers-that-be, that I've got two perfect and healthy children. I'm so lucky and thankful that they are. I just pray that they'll always be healthy and safe.
  •  I had a lovely night out with work last night. We went bowling and for a delicious Italian meal afterwards. The bowling was great fun. I haven't been bowling for years and I was so bad that I came joint last! But it was nice to spend some time having a laugh out of work and catching up on a bit of office gossip.
  •  I bought my first Christmas presents at the weekend. Christmas is especially busy for us as Oliver and Lydia birthdays are both close to Christmas {yeah great timing!} I'd been feeling a bit stressed that I hadn't bought any presents yet. I went into the Early Learning Centre on Saturday and they had some fab deals on so I got Lydia's main birthday present and Oliver's main Christmas present. I feel a bit less pressure now that I've made a start.
  • Oliver is in his second week of pre-school and I'm so happy that he's settled in amazingly well. He really loves it and comes home every day talking about his new friends. On his second day there, he came home with a painting that he'd written his name on. It was the first time he's ever written his name and I'm ashamed to say I didn't really believe he'd done it {it looks like it says Olivia and there's a little girl there called Olivia} He never shows any interest in writing at home and when I try to get him to write with me he just refuses. But he says he did it so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and enjoy my proud mummy moment!

So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to Mummy from the Heart to read their stories or follow the links below!

The Downside of Working Part Time

26 September 2012

I've always thought that I've got a great balance by working part time. It's the perfect solution for my family. If you didn't know, I work four mornings a week as an Administrator for a Financial Services company. So I get to spend my weekends and afternoons with the Darlings. Then I have 20 hours of 'me-time' at work. I like my job, the company, my colleagues and {most importantly} I feel like 'Debra' not just 'Mummy'. 

I've worked part time for over two years. But I've only recently discovered a few negatives. I'm the only one in my team who works part time and sometimes I feel like I'm forgotten about. Left out.

Take today for example. We always have our team meetings on Thursday mornings. But our next meeting has been arranged for a Monday morning. I don't work on Mondays so I'm going to miss it. I just feel that I was forgotten about when it was arranged. 

Also, we've had a bit of a desk move recently due to our team expanding. It was assumed that because I work less hours than everyone else, I would be shoved onto a desk away from the rest of my team {with a different team}. I can't join in with their conversations any more. I feel separated from them. I feel left out. I feel like a second class citizen! I always loved my job because it was such a fab team. But now I'm away from them it's not so much fun.

I suppose you can't have it all though. I'm lucky enough to have the option of working part time so I shouldn't really moan about it! 

More Card Making

24 September 2012

I'm quite getting into making my own cards. This time it I was making a card for my Mum & Dad's wedding anniversary. I made a card a few weeks ago for my Great Auntie as an acceptance card for her 90th birthday lunch {have a look here}. I've since bought lots more crafty bits and pieces as I'm planning to make some Christmas cards, wrapping paper and gift tags this year {see my post here}.

Anyway, I must have a thing for bunting as I used this theme again. As you know I like to keep things simple and easy so... I cut a 3mm piece of ribbon slightly smaller than the width of the card. Then I cut 6 pieces of washi tape {3 of each design} into lengths of about 6cm. I folded these over the ribbon and stuck them together. Then I cut the chevron shape at the bottom of each piece. Next I cut a 3mm strip of each washi tape and stuck these over the ends of the ribbon to secure the bunting to the card. Then it was stamping time! I used my alphabet stamp set with red ink. It was quite tricky to get it straight. This card was my second attempt and it's still a bit wonky. 

Overall I was pleased with how it looked. I'm sure there are much fancier handmade cards out there but it's pretty and simple which is what I like. And my Mum & Dad loved their card too!

Do you make your own greeting cards? Where do you get your ideas for designs?

Silent Sunday

Oliver's First Week At Nursery

22 September 2012

So the first week is now behind us. I'm very happy to report that Oliver has settled into nursery {pre-school} amazingly well. I was a bit apprehensive about how he would settle in. It took him a couple of weeks {and lots of tears} to get used to playgroup when he started there last October. But he's settled into nursery perfectly and seems to be loving it. 

I've had all week off work so that I could be there for his first week. He goes to nursery every morning and I work four mornings a week so will only be doing the school run on Mondays. Hubby or my Dad will do it the other days.

So Monday was his first day there on his own and was just a one hour session. When I went to collect him he said 'what are you doing here?' and he wanted to stay there which was a good sign. On Tuesday he stayed for the full three hour morning session. I missed him like crazy but it was nice to spend some time with Lydia. When we went collect him we got lots of kisses and cuddles {which is quite rare!}.

He's been quite tired though. He was complaining that he didn't want to get up in a morning and was still tired. So he's been going to bed at about 6.45-7.00 at the latest!

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

21 September 2012

If you saw my earlier post about all the baking recipe books that I need want, you will have seen that the list includes 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess' by Nigella Lawson. I wish I could tell you that I'd bought it but I haven't. Have you seen the price of it??!!  It's £19.50 on Amazon. I know it's a massive book {384 pages to be precise!} but I'm far too tight to spend that amount of money on a recipe book. So I'm hoping that some kind soul will buy it for my birthday!

Anyway. These Rocky Road Crunch Bars are adapted from a Nigella recipe from Nigella Express that I found to the BBC Food website. I looked far and wide on the internet for a Rocky Road recipe {of which there are thousands} and this one really took my fancy. They're mega easy to make. Oliver had fun bashing the biscuits with the rolling pin. If you're a chocolate lover {like me!} you'll love them. They're so chocolatey and extremely moorish. Give them a go.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

Makes 16 bars
Preparation time 20 minutes
Setting time 2 hours

125g Unsalted butter, softened
200g Plain chocolate {70% cocoa solids} broken into pieces
100g Milk chocolate broken into pieces
75g Raisins
3 tbsp Golden syrup
200g Digestive biscuits
100g Mini marshmallows
2 tsp Icing sugar, to dust

Line a 24cm/9in square baking tin with cling film and leave plenty hanging over the edge of the tin.

Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a saucepan over a very low heat. Remove from the heat, scoop out about 125ml of the melted mixture and set aside in a bowl.

Put the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining.

Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows and raisins.

Tip the mixture into your baking tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Pour over the reserved 125ml of the melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top with a spatula. Pop in the fridge for about two hours or overnight.

To serve, cut into 16 fingers and dust with icing sugar.

Countdown to Christmas!

19 September 2012

Yes it's that time of year *said through gritted teeth*. It's just under 100 days to Christmas. I'm filled with equal amounts of excitement and dread at the thought of the Christmas period.

You see, Hubby and I did a very silly thing. We didn't plan things very well, so both our Darlings have their birthdays near to Christmas. Lydia's is 2 weeks before and Oliver's is 10 days after.

I've always loved Christmas though. It's my absolute favourite time of year. But I just also dread it a little bit now. I feel like I have to be twice as organised because of the birthdays. So, I've been making plans for a while. The past few weeks have been dedicated to lots of list making and buying bits and pieces.

I really want to make my own cards, wrapping paper and gift tags this year. I love the cards and wrapping ideas below that I found on Pinterest. So, a little at a time, I've been buying all the crafty things that I'll need. Card blanks, brown paper, manilla gift tags, different coloured ribbon, red and white cord, a set of alphabet stamps, different coloured inks and some washi tapes.

I also want to make a Christmas Advent calendar as I'm so sick of the cardboard calendars in the supermarkets. I just think it would be so lovely to have something handmade that we can use every year. The calendars below are made with small boxes {e.g. matchboxes} stuck onto a metal background with magnetic tape. Yes I probably will put chocolate or sweets in them, but I'll also put a little note in some of the boxes too with a Christmas activity for us all to do. So now I need to buy all the bits and pieces to make it.

I don't make it easy for myself do I? But I'm really looking forward to getting a bit crafty and doing it differently this year.

Have you started planning for Christmas yet? Will you be making anything?

Bailey's Chocolate Cupcakes

18 September 2012

Happy National Cupcake Week! I couldn't let the week pass without my contribution. So I made these cupcakes with my all-time favourite alcoholic drink... Bailey's.

If you're a fan of Bailey's {or even if you're not!} you have to make these. There's Baileys in both the base and the buttercream so the flavour really comes through. They're very quick and easy to make so in no time at all you'll have some yummy cupcakes to devour. I had one with a Bailey's coffee yesterday evening!


Bailey's Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes

140g caster sugar
140g softened butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g self raising flour
15g cocoa powder, sieved
2 tablespoons Bailey's or other Irish cream liqueur

125g softened butter
350g icing sugar
15g cocoa powder
 75ml Bailey’s or other Irish cream liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 190C {375F) gas mark 5. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar with a hand held electric whisk {or a stand mixer if you're lucky enough to have one!} until it's light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a jug with the vanilla extract and gradually add to the sugar/butter mixture. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until fully incorporated. Pour in the Bailey's and mix a little more but do not over mix.

Divide the mixture between the cases until they are about two thirds full. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcake will come out clean when they are ready and when gently touched they will bounce back. Transfer to a wire rack ans leave to cool completely before icing.

For the frosting, put the softened butter into a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Mix together by hand with a whisk until well combined and there are no lumps. Add the Bailey's and vanilla extract and mix with a spatula until combined. Now mix with a hand held electric whisk for about 5 minutes on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Spoon or pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and top with sprinkles of your choice. I raided our {unopened until now} tin of Cadbury's Heroes and stole all the mini Twirls to stick in the buttercream.

The Morning Rush

17 September 2012

On our walk to nursery this morning
How hard is it to get us all ready in the morning??!! I never realised it was so difficult. Now I know what other mum's with older kids mean when they say their mornings are a mad rush.

I suppose I've been a bit spoiled before now. I work four mornings per week. If Hubby is on the late shift I usually leave them all in bed asleep so I can get to work for 7.30. If Hubby is on the early shift and the Darlings are at my mum and Dad's, I get them dressed but they have a wash, teeth brushed and breakfast at their house. But I've got this week off work so I've got to do it all myself with a deadline!

Oliver starts nursery at 8.40 and we get up at 7.00 which means we have 1.5 hours to get ready {we set off at 8.30}. Surely that should be enough time to get us all washed, dressed and eat breakfasts {and make-up on for me!} I get everything ready the night before and try to be as organised as possible but I still feel as if we're rushing like mad to get us all out of the door on time.

By the way, today was Oliver's second day at nursery. Although I say 'day' it was actually only one hour. But today was his first time on his own. I'm happy to report that he was absolutely fine. I took him in, gave him a kiss and said 'Have a good time, bye.' As I got to the door I heard him shout 'Mum' and my heart dropped. I thought he was going to start crying but he ran over and gave me and Lydia a big kiss and hug and said bye again and off he went.

Have you got any handy tips for getting your family ready for school in the morning?

Silent Sunday

Oliver's First Day at Nursery

15 September 2012

Yesterday the day finally arrived for Oliver's first official day at nursery. However as they have quite a lengthy settling in period, it was only a one hour visit and I had to stay with him. We've been for several visits already so it was similar to what we've done before.

The school where the nursery is, is only 5 minutes walk away from our house and two minutes from my parents house. So we dropped Lydia off with my parents and walked across to nursery for nine o'clock.

We were greeted by his lovely teacher and Oliver had to find his name on the board and put it in the box {his picture is an octopus}. Then we found his coat hook with his very smiley photo next to it! Then he went off to play. He played with the Brio train set with his little friend from playgroup. Then he played in the wet sand, the dry sand and the water. He painted a picture, played with playdough and did a bit of craft {which consisted of punching holes into a piece of paper!}

I just tried to stay in the background and he mostly went off to play on his own. He was very comfortable and just occasionally looked over at me for a bit of reassurance. He was happy to talk to the other children and the teachers.

All too soon the hour was over and it was time to leave. On Monday, Oliver is going for an hour on his own. I'm sure he'll be fine and I'm also sure that the only tears will be from me!

Reasons To Be Cheerful - 13/09/12

13 September 2012

Hey everyone, it’s that time of the week again. Time to count our blessings and look at the good things in life.

R2BC is back with Michelle at Mummy From The Heart this week. Pop over to say hello and have a look at everyone else’s cheerfulness.

1 //  Oliver starts nursery school tomorrow. It’s his official start date even though it’s only for an hour and I stay with him. Then on Monday he goes for an hour on his own and Tuesday for the full 3 hours on his own. In my opinion it’s a bit prolonged but I have to remember that not all the children have been to playgroup like he has and some of them have only just turned 3 years old. I have no doubts that he’ll love it. My friend’s daughter is also going and a few children from his old playgroup so there’ll be a few familiar faces there. We’ve also been for several visits so he knows where everything is and what he likes to play with. I’ll let you know next week how he gets on.

2 //  I’ve got tomorrow and all next week off work. Primarily so I’m there to take Oliver to nursery and pick him up. I work four mornings a week so I won’t normally be the one doing the ‘school run’ but I wanted to make sure it was me that was there to see him settling in on his first week. With Oliver being at nursery, it means I’ll get to spend some time alone with Lydia. She’s only 21 months old and I’ve barely spent any time alone with her as Oliver’s always with us {which is how I like it!}. So we’ll be going to a few toddler groups and soft play, just the two of us.

3  //  We had a lovely day out at the seaside in Southport at the weekend. Unbeknown to us it was the Southport Air Show that day so we had the added bonus of being able to watch the amazing aerial displays. The Red Arrows opened the event and were truly awesome but the highlight for me was the fighter jet. It was the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life but it was incredible watching it flying practically into space then nose diving back to earth!

4 //  I’m having my hair cut and coloured this afternoon. If you’ve read my R2BC before you’ll know that I love going to the hairdressers! Two whole hours to myself, some lovely pampering and coming out with lovely looking hair.  Then this evening I’ll be showing my hair off at Bingo with my lovely friend from work. Keep your fingers crossed that we win this time!

So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to to read their stories or follow the links below!

Day Out At... Blackpool!

12 September 2012

A couple of weeks ago Hubby had a rare weekend off work so we made the impromptu decision to have a day at the seaside.  After a rather lengthly discussion about where to go, we decided on Blackpool. I spent many a happy day {and nights out} in Blackpool over the years but haven't been for a long time. Yes it has a reputation for being full of stag and hen parties but we weren't going to be going in any pubs were we?!

One of the things on my Summer Wish List was to go to the seaside so I'm happy we've ticked off another item on the list.

We parked near Blackpool Tower {which looks like it has a big bandage on at the moment!} and made our way to the promenade. I was surprised to see that the whole sea front has been revamped and looks lovely. On the promenade right below the tower there is a huge 'Comedy Carpet' which is an artwork that quotes the jokes, songs and catchphrases of British comedians. While we sat on one of the adjacent benches eating our picnic lunch, I had a good giggle at some of the jokes.

Walking along the seafront the weather was quite miserable - cloudy, windy and cold. After our picnic lunch we walked further along the sea front  past the lifeboat house and towards the central pier.

The darlings had an absolute ball on the pier. Oliver was amazed by the water below us and kept peering between the wooden boards to look at the water. They went on a roundabout together and were sat in a little breakdown truck. Lydia found the button for the horn which they both thought was hilarious!

Then the strangest thing happened. While we were on the pier it suddenly became very hot and sunny! It was a total turnaround from the morning weather. So we went onto the beach, changed the darlings into their swimwear {organised mummy had put them in the bag just in case} layered on the sunscreen and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the sand and paddling in the sea. It was fabulous. I think I loved it as much as the darlings did.

After a fish and chip tea {it's compulsory at the seaside!} we set off back home. And all that fresh sea air knocked Lydia out and she fell asleep within seconds of getting in the car!

What's your favourite seaside destination? Are you lucky enough to live at the seaside?

Chocolate Brownies

10 September 2012

Oliver has got a new obsession. He's in love with Kylie. As in Kylie Minogue, the Australian princess of pop. It all started back in June when we watched the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert. As soon as Kylie came on the stage he was mesmerised. Then he went really giggly and coy. So I can only deduce that my three and a half year old son had got a crush on her. As I had recorded the concert, he then wanted to watch it over and over again. A couple of weeks ago I saw that Kylie's Aphrodite concert was on TV so I recorded it for him. BIG mistake! He wants to watch it all the time. As soon as he wakes up he asks to watch it. We have to ration it or he would watch it all day.

Now I've got nothing against Kylie. In fact, I was a big fan in the days of I Should Be So Lucky and Especially For You. I even went to one of her concerts about 10 years ago. But there are only so many times I can listen to it nowadays and I'm quite sick of her catchy tunes going round in my head when I'm trying to get to sleep or sat at my desk at work. And don't even get me started on her male dancers' gold sequin pants!

So one afternoon, I ensconced myself in the kitchen to block it all out and set to baking these little beauties. Chocolate brownies must be the ultimate chocolate lovers treat. These are particularly gooey, rich, sticky and wonderful. They taste divine. They lasted about 10 seconds in our house!

Chocolate Brownies

Makes 16 {or 9 if you want really big Brownies} 
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

225g dark chocolate {70% cocoa solids} roughly chopped
225g salted butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
200g light brown soft sugar
170g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat your oven to 160C {325F} Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.

Gently melt your chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until they look glossy and caramel coloured.

Pour the melted choc mix into the eggy/sugary mix and fold together until it's all incorporated. Don't overmix as you need the mixture to be light and airy. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold together until  the flour has just disappeared. Again don't overmix it.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out with just a few cakey bits on it when ready

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before you even attempt to cut it. If you cut it up too soon, the brownie will leak all over the place. Just to be on the safe side I put the tin in the fridge for half an hour before cutting them.

Tip: If you like mega gooey Brownies go for the middle ones.

Reasons To Be Cheerful - 06.09.12

6 September 2012

I can't believe I nearly forgot about R2BC this week... again! I've been really slack with my blogging lately. I seem to have lots of posts to write up about our days out and yummy things I've been baking but I'm so shattered in the evenings that I just end up vegged on the sofa. Anyway, I'll get round to them ASAP but in the meantime it's time to look at all the lovely things that I'm grateful for in my life.

Thank you to Marie at Tiger Tales who is hosting this week. Please pop over and and pay her a visit and say a little hello. Next week Michelle at Mummy From The Heart is back hosting R2BC after her well deserved break over the summer. The guest hosts over the last few weeks have all done a fab job so well done ladies!

Here comes the cheerfulness...
  • I had the week off work last week and I'm only working two days this week, three days next week then the week after I have a full week off again! Everyone at work has been joking with me that they've barely seen me over the past few weeks. I do love my job but I love having this extra time to spend with my Darlings. We had a lovely day out last week at St Leonards Farm. We had such a wonderful time feeding the sheep, goats and donkeys {or 'donk donks' as Lydia calls them!} Oliver loved holding a rabbit and guinea pig and having a go at miking a {pretend} cow! 
  • It's nearly time for Oliver to start pre-school. The pre-school is the nursery that is attached to the Infants & Juniors school and he'll be going five mornings a week. His key worker who is the nursery teacher came to our house for her home visit on Tuesday. She showed Oliver a photo album of all the nursery assistants and all the activities they do and had a little chat with him. She's lovely, I really liked her. Tomorrow morning we're going for a stay and play session and he starts officially next Friday. This is the reason I've got so much time off work coming up, so I can take him and pick him up and make sure I'm there while he settles in during his first week. I can't believe my baby boy is growing up so fast and this time next year he'll be starting school!
  • My Caramel Dime Bar Cupcakes won the Funky Foodies Award for August on the blog of Scottish Mum. I never win anything so I was overjoyed that my cupcakes won an award. I believe I'll be receiving a shiny winners medal and I'll be proudly displaying the winners badge on my blog. 
  • Last week I wrote about the Minnie Mouse cake that I was making for my niece Chloe's first birthday. Well, I was so happy with it and so proud of myself! It was only the second decorated cake I've done and it was much better than the first one! I got lots of lovely compliments about it at her birthday party and it's my birthday next so I'm already planning to make an extra special cake for myself!

    So what have you got to smile about this week? If you want to see what other people are cheerful about, pop on over to to read their stories or follow the links below!

    Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

    2 September 2012

    I know my post's have been a little thin on the ground over the past week. But with good reason. I've been extremely busy making this...

    And these...

    They were all for my niece Chloe's first birthday. Her birthday is tomorrow but her party was today so I've spent all weekend baking and icing and cutting and decorating and piping and baking and icing some more. Hubby has been working this weekend and I've been in the kitchen a lot so I feel like my little darlings have been a bit neglected! Take this morning, when I was making the cupcakes... for most of the time they played nicely but when I went to check on them the living room it was a wreck! I think they had every single toy in the house out. 

    I thoroughly enjoyed making the cake but I'm glad it's over with now. I'm exhausted. I'm also relieved that it turned out well and I can stop dreaming about Minnie Mouse now.  I don't know how people do it all the time as it's so time consuming.

    So we've had a truly fabulous party this afternoon with lovely family and friends. I had lots of amazing compliments about the cake. The next birthday in mine and I'm already planning what cake to make for myself!