Chocolate Beer-box Cake

So in my previous post you would have seen that today is Wesley’s Birthday! He asked that I make him a cake to take to work with him today .. and for 30 people! Immediately what popped in my mind was a Beer-box cake, so I decided to share this very easy recipe :

Chocolate Beer-box Cake

You will need:

2 cups (500 ml) boiling water
150 ml Cocoa (you can leave the cocoa out of this recipe for a vanilla version)
250 ml sunflower oil
2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla essence
6 eggs
3 cups (750ml) of white sugar
3.5 cups (875ml) cake flour
6 tsp. (17.5ml) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt

Method:

1. Mix the boiling water, cocoa and oil in a separate mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla essence.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture and gradually add the cocoa mixture
4. Wrap the beer-box in “heavy” tinfoil, make sure the shiny side is facing the top! The entire box needs to be wrapped in foil – well I think so, I was afraid it was going to catch fire haha, this was the first time I have EVER made a beer-box cake!
5. Spray the box thoroughly with spray-and-cook before adding your cake mixture,  bake at 180ºC for 30-35 minute or until the cake is cooked – the cake will be done when a knife comes out clean.

After the cake has cooled you can ice the cake with basically any thing your heart desires – I however iced the cake with the best topping for basically anything:

You will need:

250 ml (1 cup) of chilled cream
1 can (360g) of caramel treat/ caramel condensed milk
1 box of astros – you can use anything to top this cake off

Method:

1. Whip the cream until stiff and fold in the caramel condensed milk.
2. Spread on the cake and decorate with astros.

The final product!
The final product!
The Birthday boy still in his PJ's hehehe
The Birthday boy still in his PJ’s hehehe half a sleep

People at his work said it was really light and fluffy .. this cake could also be perfect for school cake sales and quick birthday cakes. You could probably take it out the box and shape it too. It was a really perfect sponge.

Happy Baking Friends Xx

Lots of love

Whitney

My Special – Its your Birthday!

Happy Birthday Babe!
Happy Birthday Babe!

Happy Birthday my Handsome!  As I sit here and think back on the past 2 and a half years, I can’t help but smile.  We have had the most incredible journey so far.  We have had times where we have laughed, cried, and sit without saying anything at all.  I can’t imagine my life without you.  You are my rock.  You are my soul. You are my inspiration to become a better person.  You are my best friend.  You are my happiness.  You complete who I am and who I was meant to be.  You are always there for me when others aren’t.  You always tell me the truth even when it hurts.  You love my family as much as your own.  You can always make a bad day good with just a smile and I love that.  You make my world a better place.

I love you more and more with every day that goes by.  I am so amazed at the wonderful man you have become since we have met.  I am so blessed that God created you just for me and that I found you.  I can’t wait to celebrate many many more birthdays together and grow old in each others arms; as well as all the other things in between.

Today is your birthday. I just wanted to tell you how very happy I am that you were born and made your way into my life.

I love you for so many reasons. Because you are honest, sentimental, hilarious, handsome and sweet. Because you work at our relationship with as much care and focus as you do when you tie those fishing knots. Because you make me laugh every day and tell me I’m beautiful even when I just woke up and have dried spit around my mouth. Because you care about your your family, and love our furr babies even though you got really mad when they helped themselves to your biltong and your new fishing bait.

I love you and this little life we have created and the journey we are on together. I am grateful every day that I met you. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else- even when I’m mad at you and even when your farts stink up the place.

Thank you for looking at me with love, putting up with my flaws, and being my partner. Thank you for being you.

Happy 23rd Birthday my love!

I Love you!!

Banana Bread with Peacan nuts

I have been wondering what recipe to add to Peace and Cake for a while now and I decided to add my easy banana bread recipe, but I have been waiting for my bananas to become “over “ripe.

This simple banana bread recipe is my favourite; it really is so easy and is an excellent base for adding nuts, chocolate chips, or anything else you like to eat in banana bread. In this recipe I used pecan nuts to add a nice crunch – Wes sat and cracked them open for me, because we got them from a farmer where Wes went fishing the other day, so he had a big hand in the making of this .. and the eating hehe

This recipe makes two regular loaves or one huge loaf.

Ingredients

3-cups of flour

2 tsp. bicarbonate soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1-cup castor sugar

1-cup of oil

1-cup milk

3 eggs

½ tsp vanilla

4 over ripe bananas, mashed, if they huge bananas you can use 2 or 3

Optional: Hand full of roughly chopped pecan nuts (I might have added a bit more than a handful, because I just love the crunch of nuts with anything baked). You can also add a tsp. of cinnamon if you like the flavour

  1. Prepare your loaf tin with Spray and Cook, and line it with a baking sheet. Preheat your oven between 165°C – 180°C, depending on the size of your oven. I have a gas oven and mine was preheated at 180°C
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl; combine all the wet ingredients (except the mashed bananas). Combine the wet and dry ingredients using a hand mixer
  3. Add your mashed bananas and fold into the mixture, I leave some pieces of banana in the mash because it helps keep your loaf moist. Fold in your nuts/chocolate chips/coconut or whatever you would like to have in your banana bread.
  4. Half fill your loaf tins with the mixture and then bake for about 50min or until the cake skewer/knife comes out clean, Banana bread should form a crack down the center as it bakes – a sign the baking soda is doing its job. Leave to cool completely, well in my case we left it to cool slightly before slicing it and smearing it with butter.

Banana Loaf with Peacan Nuts

It was the perfect treat to end of an eventful weekend; chilling in front of the TV with Wes with a yummy cup of vanilla cappuccino and a fresh slice of banana bread.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, let me know what variations you use so I can try them too!!

Happy Baking

Lots of Love,

Whitney 

Our Camping Weekend at Chelmsford Dam & Nature Reserve 12/06/2015 – 15/06/2015

Our weekend in a few photos …

Above are a few pictures of our lovely long weekend away.. the nights might have been freezing but the days were beautiful and I loved every minute! – Except the freezing at night, thank goodness for our heater!!

We arrived at Chelmsford then set up camp at the Sandford site, which is placed with outlooks of the dam and the waterfront. There was ablutions that have hot water showers, flush toilets and basins with washing facilities, so that was a big save.

The fresh water fishing provided us with an excellent opportunity to catch carp and scalies. The nature reserve (that was right next to the campsites) offered me exciting game viewing opportunities on Saturday morning while drinking my tea, I saw herds of springbok, blesbok and zebra, as well as a significant amount of the rare and elusive oribi antelope. The rest of the people, including Wes, went to fish at winter games on the other side of the dam. They left at 05:30am while it was still dark and feezing.

I was left behind – by choice I might add – I said I will make the poitjie that will be ready when they get back. The poitjie was the cherry on top of a wonderful day watching Zebras and feeding the birds. Everyone loved it .. I was so chuffed!! I made a Chicken Poitjie and here is the recipe:

EASY CHICKEN POITJIE WITH DUMPLINGS

Serves: 10
Cooking Time: 2.5 hours

Potjie

45 ml (3 T) oil

3 Onions, diced

4 bay leaves

2 Tbsp crushed Garlic

4 Tbsp Mild curry powder – depending on the heat you want

1 Tbsp Tumeric

2 Tbsp Garam Masala

2 Tbsp Chillie powder – optional

3 Tbsp Chillie flakes – optional

2 kg chicken thighs & drumsticks

2 tsp salt

250 ml (1 c) chicken stock

50g Tomato Paste

4 large potatoes, cubed, I used this to thicken the sauce

10 – 12 Baby potatoes

4 large carrots, sliced

250 g whole button mushrooms

4-6 baby marrows, sliced

salt and pepper (optional)
I also added Butternut, sweet potato, celery. However, the veggies are all up to you. You can basically add what you enjoy.

I added 250ml of cream, so if you were worrying about the heat the cream neutralises it completely. Only the flavour of all the spices comes through.

I used already-made bread dough, but if you want to make it yourself here are the ingredients:

Dumplings

250 ml (1 c) cake flour

7 ml (1½ t) baking powder

2 ml (½ t) salt

60 g Margarine, diced

10 ml (2 t) dried parsley – optional

60-80 ml (¼–1⁄3 c) milk

You can make a Poitjie either on Gas or on a fire; I made it on gas because it is easier to regulate the temperature. If you use fire, make sure you have two fires going to feed new coles under or around the pot so that there is always heat.

Potjie Heat the oil in a heavy-based cast-iron pot.

Add the onions, let them brown a little, add your garlic and bay leaves. Let that lightly brown and then add all your spices and then chicken pieces and salt and fry a few pieces at a time until golden brown. Add your stock and tomato paste.

Add your potatoes. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the carrots, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and baby marrows, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add some water if the potjie becomes too dry.

All depending on how long veggies take to cook add them accordingly; you don’t want them getting too soggy.

Before I added my dumplings, I stirred the cream in.

Dumplings

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub the Margarine into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the parsley and just enough milk to form a soft dough.

Drop tablespoonful’s into the potjie and cover with the lid.

Cook for at least 15-20 minutes without lifting the lid until cooked. (The dumplings are cooked when a knife inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.)

You can either have this with rice or pap, we just had the dumplings. It was more than enough and so filling.

So I hope you all had a great weekend and celebrated Youth Day in the correct manner!!

Hope you try this Poitjie recipe, It really was Yum!

Lots of Love.

Whitney Xx

This weekend – We Camping!

I used to be a city girl, but since I started camping with Wes I can’t get enough of packing up our tent and fishing rods, hitting the road and heading off to a beautiful destination – or I just really love him haha.. I realised that I go with Wes not only for the excitement when he catches his fish but to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life.

Living in town does not make you appreciate nature as much as you should. I love seeing and capturing images that you will only really understand in the moment, like hearing a Fish Eagles call or seeing it glide over the dam and perch. I love being outside and appreciating our beautiful planet, it really helps me see why we need to take better care of it.

When I am camping, that is when I do feel as though I am one with nature. All of the negativity from the day or week, disappears from my mind, and I am really happy, living in the moment, being one with nature.

Okay, yes South Africa is hitting winter at the moment.. And just to tell you the only thing I like about winter is when it’s over!! So I have packed multiple items to ensure that I am NOT going to freeze my butt off. I will update you on how that went when I’m back haha, we have booked a electricity site so I have packed a heater for the tent – see I am still a bit of a city girl!623515613953f3fd880a3d6442f289c9

So, without further a due, Wes and I will be travelling 3 and a half hours from Pietermaritzburg to Chelmsford Nature Reserve, also known as Chelmsford Dam. It is situated on the Ngagane River, which is situated some 70 Km’s north of Ladysmith, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa (for those of you that are not familiar with the beautiful South Africa). This is the first time we will be going there so we really excited; hopefully it will be on our list of to-go-to places every time we plan a getaway.

I will be uploading pictures of our little weekend and a yummy recipe for a chicken potjie that I will be making..  In South Africa, potjiekos, literally translated “small pot food”, is a stew prepared outdoors. It is traditionally cooked in a round, cast iron, three-legged pot, the potjie. So excited for that.. a poitjie is a win for winter!!

If you are enthusiastic to go camping now, remember to take only photos and leave only footprints. That is the rule of thumb when camping. Only use the natural resources that you need and do not leave any traces that you were camping when you leave. Pick up all rubbish, extinguish and cover any fire pits – especially in winter when it is dry, you don’t want to start any veld fires, and make the area where you camped look exactly as it did when you found it.

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And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling – Shanti

I hope you guys have an amazing weekend

Lots of Love, Whitney Xx

A letter to my Mums on her Birthday ..

To My Mom on Your Birthday,

Throughout my life, you have always been the strength that holds me up in the storm of life. I love you Mums

My greatest wish is to grow up and become just like you. Thank you for all your strength and advice that have helped me become the person I am today!

Mums and I - 2014
Mums and I – 2014

You are my foundation. You are grace, beauty and comfort. You are home. You are love. You deserve every day to know that you are wonderful.

I have strength because of you. Mums I grew up watching a woman who singlehandedly, spent every day taking care of 2 children, making sure there was food on the table and clothes on our back ..  you always made sure we had everything before your own needs. Being an creation of you, should come as no shock that I am strong. You deserve every day to know that you are an ocean from which strength flows.

When I look at myself in the mirror these days, I see you. How interesting it is to look at another human and warmly recognize each crevice, shadow, shade, and curve. We are pages in a story of a generation of women who came before us and who will come after. I find relief in knowing that when our pages are turned into history yours and mine will remain side by side.

On your birthday I would be inconsiderate not to tell you that your mark on the world .. my world .. is simply lovely Mums. You are an incredible woman and I am so fortunate to be your daughter. I pray that you wake up today and every day feeling gratitude for the list of traits, which make you beautiful. You are so very loved mums and never forget that!

 

Happy, happy birthday Mumsi.

Lots of Love, Whitney 

SUNDRIED TOMATO, BUTTERNUT AND BABY SPINACH PASTA

This is my ultimate favourite recipe for pasta .. and so easy to make, I found this recipe on Knorr Whats for Dinner – The best go-to web site when you have no clue what to make for supper! I added my own little yummy twist to it, so I know you waiting in anticipation so here it is!

SUNDRIED TOMATO, BUTTERNUT AND BABY SPINACH PASTA

Recipe serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 15ml Olive oil/ Sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5ml crushed garlic
  • About 3 or 4 sundried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced – Or you can add a packet of bacon bits, this is my twist .. Bacon and butternut is the perfect pair! In addition, the smokiness of the bacon just adds to the dish!
  • 1 sachet (50g) tomato paste
  • ½ tin tomato puree, you can freeze the other half of the tin to save for another dish
  • 5ml Italian Herbs
  • 1 KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot
  • 500g butternut, peeled, cubed and steamed
  • 15ml sugar
  • 150ml cream
  • 30ml fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 rounds feta cheese, crumbled
  • 500g penne pasta, boiled and drained
  • 100g baby spinach leaves, I usually don’t add this because Wes does not eat spinach so this ingredient can be optional..

METHOD

Fry the onions and garlic in oil until lightly brown

Add the chopped sundried tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes

Add the mushrooms or your bacon and fry for a further 5 minutes or until soft

Stir in the tomato paste, tomato puree, Italian Herbs and KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot and allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes

Then add the steamed butternut, sugar, cream and chopped parsley and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Mix the cooked penne pasta into the sauce together with the baby spinach leaves (If you are adding this ingredient to the dish) – the heat from the sauce will wilt and cook the spinach

Top with crumbled feta cheese and enjoy ..

I have never gone wrong with this recipe, it is always a winner!

TIP: If you are cooking for vegetarians and carnivores you can add the bacon after..

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do .. It really is top of my list for easy quick meals! Tell me what you think by leaving a comment 🙂

Meet the new little member of the family!

Becoming an aunt is totally out of your control. When your sister or sister-in-law becomes a mom, you become an aunt. There is no life planning or thought put into this event: it just happens! And it changes your life.

There is something exceptional about the relationship between aunties and nieces, which is like no other; I know this because of my own relationship with my aunts. The aunt plays a special role in a little girl’s life, different from a mother’s role or a grandmother’s role. I know this because something changed on the 7th of April 2015 at 23:50, when we welcomed a new baby girl to the family. Now you can imagine my excitement when I was told it was a girl!! Finally Team Leopard Print (we already have 2 boys from Wesleys other sister, which I love too bits as well). Mr and Mrs H are the proud new parents of Leah Cassidy. Candice is one of 2 sisters of Wesley’s, for the past 2 years that we have been dating they both have become my sisters too and I just love them to bits!

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Mommy and Leah
Mommy and Leah

Meet my little Princess Leah Cassidy, the most precious bundle of joy who has bought so much love into this world. She graced us with her presence on Friday the 7th of April, weighing 3.55 kg and was 53cm long – how Leah fitted inside Candice’s tummy is beyond me! I have a whole new level of respect for all mommy’s now because making a baby is truly a blessing and miracle at the same time.

Mommy and Leah's first photo shoot done by Hilda Serge Photography and Design
Mommy and Leah’s first photo shoot done by Hilda Serge Photography and Design
Little Leah
Little Leah

Just look at those perfect little lips.. She has the flawless pout already! All I want to do is give this little girl all my love and kisses.. Yes, I am broody haha

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