It’s another Blogiversary!

Today celebrates my 6th year of my Insanely Normal blog.

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It’s been fun, although a little slack, and I know that I have said it time and time again, but that can now change…  I have a lot more time to be able to publish, and I have all sorts of ideas!

So, without further ado, let’s revisit my top three posts…

At number 3…

This post has somewhat amused me since I published it in 2014.  It was a review (a negative one at that!  And badly wrote, haha) about a local franchised café.  I can remember visiting the place – it was bloody awful, and I imagine nothing has changed, because I’m still receiving messages agreeing with my post!  You can read about the Pound Café in Huyton here.

At number 2…

2015 seems to have been the year that brought in most of my subscribers (hello stalkers!), and top of the shot (again), was my Christmas Ham post!  My second most popular post in 2015 was for my slow cooker sausage casserole…  With just under 10,000 reads throughout the year, it definitely got the attention it deserved, ha ha.  You can try the slow cooker sausage casserole recipe here.

Drum roll please, because at number 1…

Every Christmas, I make a ham.  It’s by far the best thing I have ever made, and you all seem to agree, as the amount of views that post has received is amazing!  I first published the post in 2012, and it seems to be a recipe that is used right throughout the year, as it’s always my most read…  My “best” stats for this recipe was on 1 December, 2016, when I had a little over 4,000 views – just on that day!  You can read my Christmas Ham here.


So, it seems that my stalkers like recipes and negative reviews!  Ha ha.  Yes, those were my top three posts in the past six years, and other posts in my top ten include more recipes, a holiday post, and how parenthood drives me crazy.

So, here’s to more exciting times – more recipes, more random stuff, and I may even through in a mini-comp somewhere…

Peppermint Creams

I was so frustrated the first time I made peppermint creams, and was almost throwing the mixture in the bin, ha ha.  So pleased that I stuck with it, because now I have successfully made them a few times, and they just keep getting better on each occasion!

This recipe is certainly not recommended for anyone who suffers diabetes, as it is probably 95% sugar; so with that in mind, ensure you limit the amount of these you give to your kids too…  Unless you want them bouncing off the walls, ha ha.

I made these today with my 5 year old, and he needed very little help, so another easy recipe for the kids to make 🙂

This recipe cost me just shy of £1.50 to make 24, however it would have cost about £2 to double (if not more) the quantity.

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Google image used – I didn’t take a photograph of my mints!!

Ingredients

1 egg white (you won’t need the yolk…)

Lemon juice

400g icing sugar (otherwise known as powdered sugar / confectioners sugar), plus extra for rolling

Peppermint flavouring

Method

  1. Prepare a “resting” area for your finished mint creams…  I used a sheet of baking / greaseproof paper on top of a baking tray.
  2. In a large, clean bowl, add your egg white, and mix with a fork until it begins to foam slightly.
  3. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the egg white, and mix for a little longer.
  4. Gradually add the icing sugar – I added the sugar in two sections only, and in between each section I added 1 teaspoon of peppermint flavouring.  Continue to mix combine the mixture with the fork (you’ll have difficulties if you’re using a spoon).
  5. When the mixture becomes too difficult to mix with your fork, that’s when you need to get your hands in there.  Combine the mixture in to an icing dough ball.
  6. Turn the icing ball out on to a clean surface, sprinkled with icing sugar.
  7. Roll to approximately 1-2cm thickness, and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  Place your shapes on to the resting area that you made up earlier.
  8. You can decorate your mints, if you like, or leave them plain.  I used a fork to decorate mine…
  9. Now this is the hardest part.  Your mint creams are technically ready to eat within 10/15 minutes of resting, however, if you want the “real deal”, you need to wait for up to 24 hours for them to “set” properly.

Enjoy!

Lemon Drizzle

A great recipe that costs pennies to make.

I made a bit of a booboo with the recipe, but overall, it turned out great.  Afterall, making mistakes when baking makes some of the best recipes known to man.  I also burned my finger rather badly when taking the tin out of the oven, so please, please, please, be careful!

Ingredients

2 eggs

3oz self-raising flour

3oz caster sugar

3oz butter

1/2 tsp baking powder

Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon

For the drizzle

2oz caster sugar

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C / 160C for fan assisted ovens.
  2. Line your loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Combine the eggs, flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and lemon zest in a large bowl, until creamy.
  4. Pour in to your lined tin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
  6. Remove from the oven, and whilst it’s cooling, measure out your sugar for the drizzle, and stir thoroughly with the juice from 1/2 a lemon, until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  7. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, pour the mixture over the top of the still warm cake, and spread all over with the back of a metal spoon.
  8. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  9. Slice up and enjoy!

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Barbara’s Shortbread

An incredibly simple recipe, using only 3 ingredients.  Easy to make, and especially good for you to help kiddies make themselves!  A frugal recipe, that costs approximately 20p for 12 biscuits!

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Ingredients

2oz butter

1oz caster sugar, plus extra to finish

3oz plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan assisted ovens).
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Using the back of a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar together, until creamy.
  4. Stir in the flour, part by part, until fully combined.
  5. Turn the dough out on to a slightly floured work surface, and roll to approximately 1.5cm / ½ inch thick.
  6. Cut out “fingers”, or shapes, using cookie cutters, and place them on the lined baking tray.
  7. Optional: Using a fork, prick the shapes.
  8. Sprinkle the top of the biscuits with the left-over caster sugar, and chill for 20 minutes.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool on the tray, then enjoy!

 

Thumbprint Biscuits

This is such a simple recipe, and perfect for kiddies to make.  Try your hand at this frugal, and exceedingly yummy recipe.  All in all, I think it cost approximately 45p to make 12 biscuits…

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Ingredients

50g butter – softened
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cap vanilla essence
100g plain flour
Jam / Nutella / Lemon Curd
Method
 
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line your baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Using the back of a large, wooden spoon, cream the butter in a large bowl, then add the sugar. Continue to cream together.
3. Add the egg yolk, and vanilla essence, and continue stirring with the wooden spoon.
4. Add the flour, part by part, and combine thoroughly. When it becomes difficult to mix, get your hands in there to form a dough ball.
5. “Pinch an inch”, and roll in to ball shapes. Place on the lined baking tray.
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6. Use your thumb, and press down in the middle of each ball, creating a well.
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7. Add a teaspoon full of your jam (or Nutella / lemon curd), ensuring that the mixture doesn’t overflow too much.
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8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
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9. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the baking tray for approximately 5 minutes or so, before placing them on a cooling wire rack.
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10. Enjoy!!

Christmas Biscuits – no eggs

I have made this recipe time and time again, and when I come to make them again this morning, I realised that my eggs were TOTALLY out of date, so I decided to mix up the recipe a little to make them without any egg yolk.  They’ve come out a treat, and according to the hubby, these are the “best” I’ve ever made.

If I have calculated this correctly, the ingredient amounts below should make approximately 20 biscuits, and cost about 60p ($0.75).

Perfect for those family members and friends who have an egg allergy, try this out.

Ingredients

8oz (225g) butter – softened

4oz (115g) sugar (I used caster sugar, but standard, granulated is ok too)

Vanilla essence

5tbsp water

12oz (340g) plain flour

Hard boiled sweets (or hard boiled candies, if you live in the US)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C for fan assisted).
  2. Line your baking sheets with grease proof / baking paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream your butter.  You should really use the back of a wooden spoon for this, but I continually used my electric hand mixer on a slow speed.
  4. Add the sugar, and cream in to the butter.
  5. Add the vanilla essence – I really went overboard with the amount I used, because we all love vanilla, but you should only really use a cap-full; and the water.  Mix thoroughly.
  6. Start to combine the flour, bit by bit, until it becomes almost impossible to continue mixing, then combine the rest thoroughly with your hands.  Knead the dough a little in the bowl, to ensure it all sticks together.
  7. Turn the dough out on to a clean and floured surface, and roll out to approximately 1cm depths.
  8. Using your cookie cutters (I used a large gingerbread man cutter), cut out your biscuits, and place carefully on to the lined baking tray.  Repeat until you have used up all of your dough.
  9. Using a small cookie cutter (I used a small star this time), remove the “belly” / middle of each large man shape / biscuit.  With using the small star shape, I was able to use these for some regular, star-shaped biscuits for my Donut.
  10. Place a hard boiled sweet in to the middle of the cut-out you have just done (i.e. my star shape in the belly).
  11. Place in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven, and – keeping the biscuits on the grease proof paper, remove the trays on to a cool surface.
  13. Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes – or until the melted sweet has reset, and you now have the choice to either scoff the lot, or decorate!

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Peanut butter bites

I have to admit, I am not a fan of peanut butter.  Peanuts are ok, but when they’ve been made in to a spread, I’m not keen.  My husband and eldest son, on the other hand, love the stuff.

Several months ago, I tried out a recipe for peanut butter truffles, but they just weren’t the same as a regular truffle should be, so I changed the name to peanut butter bites.

This recipe is SO simple, and can be made using vegan friendly products (if you are a vegetarian / vegan).

There’s no baking involved, and very little “heat” needed, so give it a go.  I think it took me about an hour to make them – from start to finish; and the whole outcome cost less than £2.

If you have any fancy boxes, you could even pop a few of the bites in to a box, tie a ribbon around, and you have an amazing, homemade, frugal gift.

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Ingredients

270g (9.5oz) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

40g (1.4oz) unsalted butter

140g (4.9oz) icing sugar

Chocolate (I used 300g / 10oz, but I had some left over)

Sprinkles (optional)

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Ensure that you have enough room to fit the baking sheet in to your fridge – this is very important!
  3. Put your peanut butter and butter in to a microwavable bowl, and heat on full power for 15-30 seconds.  I checked after 15 and 20 seconds, but needed longer, so I allowed for the full 30.
  4. Transfer the butter mixture in to a mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly, until the butter and peanut butter have combined.
  5. Carefully sift in the icing sugar, bit by bit, and mix well.  I used about a third at a time.  Ensure that you have thoroughly mixed in the icing sugar to the butter mixture.
  6. Using your hands, break off a little of the peanut dough, and roll quickly in between your palms to make a ball, approximately 1 inch in diameter, and place each ball on to the lined baking sheet.  If, like mine, towards the end of the dough, it stops wanting to stick together, squeeze it a little in your palms to soften, and roll into a ball again.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  8. After about 20 minutes, break up the chocolate in to small pieces, and place in a glass bowl – be sure that the glass bowl can sit on the top of a pan of water.  The base of the bowl should not touch the water.
  9. Bring the pan of water to the boil, and allow the chocolate to melt completely.
  10. When the chocolate has fully melted, switch off the heat, and bring out the peanut butter bites from the fridge.
  11. Roll each bite in the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off.  I used two forks, and gently tapped the fork on the edge of the glass bowl to allow the excess chocolate to come away.
  12. Place the now chocolate covered bites back on to the baking sheet, and repeat until you have covered all peanut bites.
  13. When you have completed covering the bites, if you wish, you can cover them in sprinkles, or (as I did) just sprinkle a couple on the very top.
  14. Return to the fridge for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.

Enjoy!

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