Sunday, October 28, 2018

Flamingo Costume being busy but still on trend


I think the problem with blogging is that we all become perfectionists.

We want that photo. That perfectly perfect win pintrest totally insta worthy photo that looks like it was styled for a magazine.

But when I look back at why I started the blog it was to keep a log of my baking and along the way of my life and my family and recently there has been a hole.

Not a hole in our lives. Well maybe in part of mine, but I guess that's another different story and I'm currently making an effort to be unbusy to fill that hole with things that are important for me instead of always being so 'busy' I don't have time for me.

But luckily there has not been a hole in my family and what we do together. We still do stuff but I don't always have the time to stop and get that picture perfect moment because we have been living those moments.

This flamingo costume is a perfect example. I've wanted to post it here for a little while and I felt I needed some great pictures. But it's already almost Halloween and I've decided it's now or never so I'm just using my phone pictures from the day.

Anyhoo this costume came about because it was Sweet's last book week this year and we decided to be on trend and dress as a flamingo. I think I've mentioned here before I'm not always such a great planner which is why I have to make my own cakes and costumes. Plus as a rule we don't really buy costumes for book week.

We love book week click here for link to previous book week costumes

So we used a pinata. Yup a pinata with the bottom cut open stuck on Sweet's head and for the record this is not even close to the most embarrassing book week costume my kids have worn. We picked up the pinata from Variety 1 discount store Springwood.


I actually think it's kinda awesome and if you are careful with the pinata you can totally reuse it for a party.


The rest of the costume is just a pink boa, pettiskirt which the girls have had since Bubble was about 5 and a pink jacket with a little pink face paint and glitter.

Our book was Flora and the Flamingo which is a sweet picture book with a lovely message about friendship and communication.



Anyway I am thinking this opens up a whole stack of easy to make costumes............Remember when we made that swan pinanta.


Linda Vandermeer McCubbin is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the Children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the USA in 2011 the book is still available at Amazon and many online bookstores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

Original ideas, photography and recipes Linda Vandermeer McCubbin please do not reuse without permission.








Monday, September 24, 2018

Ruby Rosewater Macarons


So it's here......the 4th chocolate Ruby Chocolate or RB1 Callebaut has been released in Australia and it's pink.

PINK I tell you.

Yup all it took to bring me back from blogging hiatus is pink chocolate.

Now I know there has been a little bit of instahype surrounding RB1 in Australia and who can really blame anyone. Pink chocolate is always instaworthy.

But does it live up to the hype?

Hiya ruby chocolate. 
Teacup, cutlery and tea strainer all Cristina Rae

To try it out I had a little bit of a taste test with my friend and her daughter a few nights ago. I did up a plate with some Callebaut white, dark, RB1 and some Lindt milk.

Truth is no one picked the Ruby as their favourite on the night but to be fair I had just had Indian food delivered before hand and I don't think we started off with the clearest palate.

So I've just tried it again and it's not bad and I think maybe it's even pretty good. Kinda not what I expected at first but it is growing on me. As described it is fruity and it has the lovely Callebaut texture that makes that brand my go to for white and dark chocolate.

To celebrate this new chocolate I've been in my kitchen creating and decided to start of with macarons 'cause they are kinda my thing.

Picture from my instagram feed

The shells are are a plain french almond macaron and the filling is a whipped ruby chocolate ganache buttercream with a touch of rose. Due to whipping the ganache and the addition of butter and sugar the RB1 chocolate flavour which is not overly robust does not really shine through as much as it could.  If you want the full ruby chocolate flavour experience I recommend making a regular ganache (ratio 3 parts chocolate 1 part cream).

I've decorated mine with a little bit of piped ganache, a strawberry crisp (which is like a strawberry whopper) and a gold soft pearl.

If you don't have any ruby chocolate handy you can substitute white chocolate and they would still be just as lovely.

Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin is a blogger, baker and author of the Children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in 2011 the book is still available online.



Ruby Rosewater Macarons (makes approx 30 filled macarons)

Fill the shells with the filling (included after recipe for shells) at least 1 day before you serve to get the correct consistency. Store in an airtight container in fridge and then bring to room temperature about 30 minutes prior to serving.

190 gram (6 5/8 oz)almond meal (almond flour)
190 gram pure icing sugar (6 5/8 oz powdered sugar)
190 gram granulated sugar (6 5/8 oz) 
48 grams water (1 5/8 oz)
140 gram egg whites aged split into 2 lots of 70grams each (5 oz split into 2 lots of 2 1/2oz each)*
pink food colour ice (I use gel type food color like Wilton)

*ageing egg whites refers to separating the yolks from whites and then leaving the whites to age for a few days. This can be done on the counter if your countries climate permits or in the fridge, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and then pop a few holes in the top. Alternately you can pop fresh egg whites in the microwave on high for 10 seconds or so - I used the microwave method in this batch pictured. 

1. Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together and pulse a few times in food processor to make almond meal finer. Do not over process as the meal can become oily. Sieve into a large bowl. Add colour and 70g (2 1/2 ounce) of the egg whites to the sugar/almond mixture but don’t mix in.

2. Place remaining 70g (2 1/2 ounce) of egg whites in bowl of mixer fitted with the whisk.

3. Pop granulated sugar and water into saucepan stir to combine and cook without stirring to 118C (245 F). Brush down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water as required to avoid the sugar crystallizing. Once the mixture reaches 115C (240 F) start mixing the egg whites on high. Make sure you have a pouring shield on your mixer, when the sugar syrup reaches 118C (245 F)remove from heat and immediately pour in a thin stream down the side of the mixer bowl continuing to whisk on high.

4. Continue to whisk the meringue on high until the side of the bowl is only a little warm to touch, around 50C (120 F).

5. Add meringue mixture to almond mixture and using a large spatula fold the mixture together until it starts to shine and forms a ribbon that disappears back into the mixture after about 20 seconds.


6. Add the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip (or just cut the end of a disposable piping bag, that's what I do) and pipe in lines onto parchment lined baking sheets. To make the macarons as even as possible I apply a constant slow pressure to the piping bag and count a few numbers like up to 3 for each one. 

7. Set aside for about 30 minutes or until the macarons have formed a skin so that the macaron mixture does not stick to your finger when gently touched. If the weather is humid this step may take longer up to 2 hours. I pop on the aircon if it's humid at my house.

8. Meanwhile preheat oven to 140C (285 F)#. Once ready bake the macaroons for around 13 to 15 minutes depending on size, it may take longer, all ovens are different. If they are baked and you gently push on the side the tops will not move, if the tops do move do bake for another minute or 2. Also they should not be browned if they are reduce the heat for the next batch or bake for less time.

9. Once baked remove the baking trays and immediately slide off the macarons and the parchment onto the work surface and let cool completely before removing the shells.

10. Once cooled match disks into like sizes and sandwich together using the ganache.


# The recipe stipulates 140 C however my new house and kitchen I used the fan forced option at 130C (265 F) and it worked out lovely. 



Ruby rose whipped ganache buttercream
I used a Wilton Closed Star Tip 31 to pipe and decorate

240g (8 1/2 oz) RB1 chocolate (Callebaut Ruby Chocolate)
80g (2 3/4 oz)cream
50g (1 3/4 oz which is just under 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Tbsp rose water (or to taste)
generous pinch salt flakes

Heat cream and add to chocolate, allow to sit a few minutes and then gently whisk until smooth. Cool until nearly set.

Add ganache and remaining ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until light and fluffy.


I love when people share my blog ideas and give credit. All posts contain original ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin unless otherwise credited. Please feel free to link back to my blog for non commercial purposes.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

This is how we do - Book Week


We love book week here, pretty much because we love books. Our school has wonderful library staff whom we adore and a morning reading club which we have always attended.

Plus my kids love dressing up so book week is a no brainer.

We try to follow a rule of not buying shop bought costumes or spending a heap of money which is kinda hard because I can not sew and also because I am pretty much craftless. I have mentioned before how I can not use a hot glue gun without sticking my fingers together (true story every single time).

So I need to be extra creative, and my kids have to have a bit of a sense of adventure.

One year I sent Bubble as the paper bag princess in a huge brown paper sugar bag. On the morning of the parade I was emptying sugar into big containers and cutting holes out for the arms and neck. Some messy hair a bit of eye shadow 'soot' and a tiara and we had a perfect costume.

Sweet was the little mermaid using a costume my sister had made for a birthday party and some red hairspray.
Paper bag Princess and The Little Mermaid. 
Bubble was reluctant to get out of the car but in the end she loved it.

Another year The Destroyer went as the saucepan man from The Faraway Tree. Luckily all my saucepans came home intact.

Have saucepans in the kitchen ........hello no cost costume.

Bubble's grade 1 costume was Fancy Nancy, changed the morning of the parade from another costume I had all ready to go. However at the time she pretty much was Fancy Nancy so we had no difficulty at all in rustling up a costume in 15 minutes. She even wore an old pair of my high heels just like the cover of the book. The other kids were completely in awe of her red heels.

Fancy Nancy, the other kids were not even at school,
 but seriously who misses a change to get dressed up. Not us that's for sure :)

Last year Bubble decided not to participate and I made an Alice in Wonderland stuck in the white rabbit's house costume for Sweet. A few days before the parade Bubble changed her mind and I had to come up with another costume. Luckily Sweet's favourtie book at the time was Thelma the Unicorn and I had the cutest Puddle Duckling unicorn flower horn that I already had ordered just because they are amazingly gorgeous.

I popped down to the discount stores and bought 2 wigs and used one for her mane and one for her tail. I cut up some pink sparkly cardboard and stapled them around her hands and legs for quick diy 'hooves' added a bit of face paint and she was the cutest unicorn around.

Thelma the Unicorn costume - Flower unicorn crown from Puddle Duckling

The Destroyer had decided to go as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. During the week I hand painted a cardboard clock. He popped on his suit and we found some ears and a bow tie in our dress up box. A little bit of white face paint, pink nose, white hair spray and some whiskers and he was ready to go.

White Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland, that is a kinda embarrassed smile as there were quite a few kids gathering around by this stage.

The Alice in Wonderland costume was of course the one I spent the most time on. But it was completely free using stuff I already had on hand. The box was something I had received in the mail, I used the kids paints and the dress was an old princess dress from our dress up box. I was a bit super proud of it considering I'm not really that good at craft.

I've put my thinking cap on for this year and I am trying to come up with some fun ideas for the kids. Let me know if your have any good inexpensive ideas.



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, mother, owner of The Biscuit Cafe and author of the children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the US in 2011 the book is still available online at Amazon and other online book stores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog

I love when people share my blog ideas and give credit. All posts contain original ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin unless otherwise credited. Please feel free to link back to my blog for non commercial purposes.



Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chocolate macarons and last chance to win nestle giveaway


I've started to bake macarons again and it's taking a little bit of getting used to. In my old kitchen I could whip out a batch of perfect macs with next to no thought or effort, but at the moment sharing a kitchen and with a different oven than I am used to I find that the little distractions impact my final result.

This batch I forgot to add in my egg whites with the almond and icing sugar, I was mixing away and after a few seconds I realised it was quite thick and I was not going to achieve the correct consistency. Just a touch too late I remembered my extra egg whites, and although I added them in I found the mixture was a little bit too bubbly.


Although they were ok, I just wasn't completely happy with them. The crisp outside was a little bit too thin for my tastes and the feet collapsed a little.

But to tell the truth I did find them more like a well known french patisserie so perhaps I am onto something ;)


You can use Nestle Bakers Choice chocolate chunks to add into your ganache to fill the macarons and you can dust the macarons with a little bit of cocoa like mine to get the same rustic look. Click HERE for my macaron recipe if you would like to make your own.

Also remember there is still one more day let for the #BakeItYours #NestleBakersChoice giveaway. You can enter for free in my rafflecopter giveaway below. Entry for Australian residents only over 18 years of age.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, mother, owner of The Biscuit Cafe and author of the children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the US in 2011 the book is still available online at Amazon and other online book stores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog

I love when people share my blog ideas and give credit. All posts contain original ideas, photography and recipes by Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin unless otherwise credited. Please feel free to link back to my blog for non commercial purposes.

I was sent a box of nestle product to assist in the development of recipes for this blog post. No sponsorship or financial incentive was received.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

White Chocolate and Caramel Brownie Recipe and a giveaway

White Chocolate and Caramel Brownies - recipe at below

I'm back home living with my parents whilst my new house undergoes some renovations.

So when I received a box of goodies from Nestle to join in the #Bakeityours challenge instead of reaching for the chocolate like I normally would I decided to make something with white chocolate and add in one of my dad's favourite lollies Jersey Caramels to come up with a treat he would appreciate.


The resulting brownies were dense and a little chewy which I liked and quite sweet. I think they improved after a day losing some of the initial sweetness and improving in texture.

Anyway onto the reason Nestle sent out the box of goodies is to let y'all know they have a new Nestle Bakers' Choice range. I like the suggestions on the front of the packets that say things like 'for coating and decorating' or 'for adding and pouring' and found the white chocolate to be quite a nice creamy texture which melted quite easily.

To help celebrate this they have offered Bubble and Sweet Australian readers the chance to win a lovely baking package valued at around $100 which includes products from the new Bakers' Choice range and and some baking products. Enter below using rafflecopter (Entry only available to Australian Residents aged 18 and over no purchase necessary):

You can enter up to 3 times, however you do not need to follow all 3 steps for your entry to be valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck



White Chocolate and Caramel Brownies
(makes 12 store in air tight container in fridge for up to 3 days) Wilton 195 piping tip used for decorating.

150 g ( 5 1/4 oz) butter
200 g ( 7 oz) white chocolate
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 2/3 cup plain flour
220 g (7 3/4 oz) Jersey Caramels chopped
Whipped jersey caramel topping (see below)
6 Jersey Caramels cut into half extra for decorating

Line a rectangle slice tray approx 18cm x 28cm ( &" x 11") with baking paper

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)

Melt butter and white chocolate in a microwave safe dish for 2 minutes on medium low heat. Mix (the mixture will not be soft yet) and then heat for another 2 minutes at medium low heat. Whisk until no lumps remain.

Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until just combined.

Fold through the flour and then the jersey caramels and spread the mixture into the prepared tray.

Bake for 30 minutes until the brownie is golden and cooked through in the middle.

Cut into triangles and pipe a dollop of whipped ganache into the middle of each brownie and top with half a jersey caramel.

Jersey Caramel whipped ganache topping

5 jersey caramels
1/2 tsp water
100 g (3 1/2 oz) white choc
25 g (7/8oz) cream

Melt the jersey caramels and water for 60 seconds at low rest and stir and then heat for another 60 seconds in the microwave and mix until smooth.

Melt the white chocolate and cream together at medium low heat 2 minutes and mix until smooth. Add in the melted caramel mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

Whip with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, mother, owner of The Biscuit Cafe and author of the children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the US in 2011 the book is still available online at Amazon and other online book stores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog

I love when people share my blog ideas and give credit. All posts contain original ideas, photography* and recipes by Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin unless otherwise credited. Please feel free to link back to my blog for non commercial purposes.

I was sent a box of nestle product to assist in the development of recipes for this blog post. No sponsorship or financial incentive was received.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Islands in my dreams that is what they are


I'm dreaming of kitchen islands in the new house.

I've been pinning my self silly with pictures of white light New Hampton style kitchens and sending them to the kitchen designer.

*not my kitchen this is from my pintrest board which links back to Better Homes and Garden

We can do it if I want...... if I have the money and time but that is where I'm falling a teensy bit short at the moment.

Also I am short a lifestyle when my whole life can be on display as I have a real family with active kids and while I like the idea of walking into the house and seeing my amazing kitchen and beautiful living area, the reality will be piles of school shoes, bags and sporting equipment if I don't plan storage accordingly.

Anyhoo that is the subtle but totally worthwhile advice I got from the kitchen designer when we met on site to measure up the space. She came up with some great ideas for a beautiful kitchen with an island which included removing walls and opening up the whole space.

It sounded ah-mazing! Exactly what I wanted for my pin-perfect new house.

But I own a cafe now and I don't have time to run around and make sure the house is camera ready and truthfully I never did, only 2 rooms in the old house ever looked that way most of the time.

So some compromise is going to have to occur.

A few different versions have been drawn up for the new kitchen but in the meantime I'll keep on island dreaming.



Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, mother, owner of The Biscuit Cafe and author of the children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the US in 2011 the book is still available online at Amazon and other online book stores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog

I love when people share my blog ideas and give credit. All posts contain original ideas, photography* and recipes by Linda Vandermeer-McCubbin unless otherwise credited. Please feel free to link back to my blog for non commercial purposes.

*this post does not contain my original photography, I have provided a link to the source.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bunny Love cookies



Ooops is it Easter already and I haven't shared any of the cookies and projects I made up.

Luckily I did take some photo's of these cookies even if I didn't do the process shots because they're pretty cute.


Sweet floral pastel bunnies. I mean really how could you go wrong.

The flowers are teensy little fondant ones with royal icing centers and they each have an edible soft gold ball (from Queen) and then I decorated them with a few royal icing leaves.

I served them with some water color cookies in matching pastel hues (CLICK HERE for last week's post).


Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the Children's cookbook Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! Published in the USA in 2011 the book is still available at Amazon and many online bookstores.

Affiliate links may earn me money and contribute to supporting this blog.

Original ideas, photography and recipes Linda Vandermeer please do not reuse without permission except for non commercial purposes where you may use 1 image, give credit and link back to original post.