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cooking, create

clam linguine

August 20, 2014

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It’s been a really long time since I posted a recipe on here and I’m glad I’m finally doing so with such a worthy recipe– Mom’s Clam Linguine (although now that she’s a grandma it’s known as “Lala’s Clam Weeny” by my girls).

This has always  been a Hamlin family favorite and I’m thrilled it’s now a Luckhurst fave– it’s definitely Bailey’s favorite and even managed to beat Spaghetti Bolognese in the favorites list of my four year old.

It’s simple and amazing.  There is a catch though– buying these clams in the UK is tricky!  I used to have to import them from the states or from the American military base food shop in Germany where our friends live (“sorry honey, we can’t have your favorite dinner until we buy more clams from Germany”) but luckily Amazon came to my rescue (they always do!) and they can be purchased online.  They aren’t cheap on Amazon but once you taste this and fall in love, you’ll realize the cost is worth it since it’s as tasty as a restaurant meal!  As you can see in the last photo, it is perfect for a dinner party and goes very well with white wine!

So here you go, Mom’s/Lala’s Clam Linguine:

4 T. butter
2 bunches thinly sliced green onions
8-12 crushed garlic cloves
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
3-4 cans clams, drained (reserve liquid)
Freshly grated parmesan and Romano cheeses
1lb linguini (maybe little more as well)
Melt butter in large skillet.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until golden.  Add reserved clam liquid to onion/garlic mixture and simmer for around 10 minutes,  Add  drained clams and heat gently for about 5 minutes.  Add parsley and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat pasta pot of water with added salt to boiling.  Add linguini and cook, stirring, until pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain; return pasta to large pot.  Add some of the clam liquid to the pasta, stirring, and then toss pasta with some of the mixed cheeses.  Serve pasta on plates, topping with clam sauce.  Finish with additional grated cheese.
Serves 4 amply.
baking, children, cooking, dessert, fabric, sew

hungry caterpillar party

July 10, 2012

I don’t know how anyone ever planned a party without Pinterest.  I spent hours searching on Pinterest for the perfect ingredients to host a toddler Hungry Caterpillar party for B’s 2nd birthday.  And I’m so grateful for others’ creativity that I was able to copy!

The cake was what I was most concerned about.  I wanted to copy this great example but I never used ready-roll icing like this before so I was very nervous.  Luckily I discovered just how forgiving it is and after a few minutes I even started enjoying making it!!  I used Martha Stewart’s Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cake recipe which was sooooo delicious and moist!

For the dress, I found on ebay a beautiful Monsoon white dress with butterflies embroidered on the top (how fitting!) so I decided to add a ruffle of Hungry Caterpillar fabric. (I wasn’t about to pay the Etsy prices for a Hungry Caterpillar dress!)

I had never made a ruffle before but found it very simple thanks to some online instructions (probably should have ironed it).  

And here she is, ready for the party in her new dress!  

Thanks to more Pinterest inspiration I went all out on the theme and had fun “pimping up the house” caterpillar style.

Of course all of the food from the book had to be present which made for a beautiful table arrangement (and a lot of baking!).  

I was amazed with how many Hungry Caterpillar themed items you can find online.  I love these cake wrappers and toppers (I think I bought on Amazon).  

And these personalized water labels are adorable (Etsy– lots of options, very reasonably priced!). 

Here is my little hungry caterpillar, starting on plums, just minutes before her first party guest arrived.  Happy birthday, my beautiful butterfly!!
baking, children, cooking, create, fabric, sew

two little bakers

May 31, 2012

For my beautiful little American/Mexican nieces, I made two tiny aprons for their first birthday.  My sister-in-law is an amazing cook and baker so I know these little ladies will be creating in the kitchen very soon as well.

I used one of my favorite pink vintage finds (I think from a sheet) and also a new yellow vintage find (again from a bedsheet).  The contrasting two fabrics for the pockets were both taken from leftover fabric from the girls’ birthday bunting I made (“Me And My Sister” fabrics– how fitting!).  I adapted a template from 101 Great Ways To Sew a Metre.

Here is Valentina trying on her pink apron.

And Chloe sampling hers.  I was thrilled to give them to the little ladies in person!

baking, cooking, create, dessert

banana nut muffins

August 2, 2011

These are delicious understated little beauties! I needed a quick sweet to take to a friend’s for late morning tea and I saw three very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. I adapted a couple of recipes and ended up with a delicious macadamia nut banana muffin and then (because it’s a lovely summer day) I decided to decorate them in a fresh lemon icing.

Because not everyone wants American-style frosting all over their muffins at 11am, only half are covered this much with the tangy topping.

The recipes are so (!) simple and very adaptable and it makes a quick dozen treats. The muffins alone are wonderful without the icing, but they are extra special with the icing!

Banana Nut Muffins

(makes 12)

200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
150g caster sugar
1 egg
75g butter, melted
handful of macadamia nuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Place 12 paper baking cases in a muffin tin.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt; set aside.
3. Combine mashed bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter in a large bowl. Add nuts. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.
4. Spoon evenly into baking cases in muffin tin.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly tapped.

Lemon Icing (taken from in good taste)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest, strips, or more to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine icing ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Ice cooled muffins; cover and refrigerate any uneaten muffins.

baking, cooking, create, dessert

carrot whoopies

July 17, 2011

These whoopies are so fun and child friendly (although maybe skip out the filling). They are like cakes but in the form of cookies and this filling is a perfect match! This was my first whoopie experience and it definitely won’t be my last.

Carrot Whoopie Cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 carrots)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Finally, add the grated carrots, beating to distribute evenly.

Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Using a small cookie scoop (mine measures about 1 1/2 inches across – you’ll need to adjust the baking time accordingly if yours is larger), portion the batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake (one sheet at a time) for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes then remove the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with all of the dough, alternating baking sheets.

Makes about 20 sandwiches

Cream Cheese Filling (from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl in between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract. With mixer on medium, beat for another minute or so, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Match the cookies in pairs by size. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe a small amount onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich the cookies together, and press the filling to the edges.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

(taken from
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

baking, children, cooking

color party cake

June 27, 2011

For Bailey’s first birthday we had a color party. After a quick Google search I was thrilled to find a perfect cake idea.

I made a basic sponge cake recipe, as I was going for looks not taste. Then divided the mixture into six separate dishes to add food coloring gel (apparently it’s important to use gels and not usual food coloring drops).

I then nervously made circles of the color in two 7″ dishes with the opposite rainbow order in one of them.

The end result was exactly as I hoped! The one with purple in the center was much prettier than the opposite order, so that was going to be the top. And it was obvious I shouldn’t ice the cake because it would cover up the beautiful colors!

I then stuffed it full of whipped cream and fresh raspberries and blueberries. I really loved the cake and it was perfect for the color party!
cooking, picnic

potato salad

April 11, 2011

My great-grandmother made the most delicious potato salad. So here it is… Nana Hoy’s amazing German potato salad recipe.

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 c celery, diced
  • 2 strips bacon (streaky)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 5 T mayo
  • 1 T sugar
  • salt & pepper

Cook potatoes with skins until tender but still firm. Dice bacon and fry until crisp. Add vinegar, mayo and sugar. Slice potatoes (or chunk them), add celery and onion and chopped egg (maybe quarter the egg). Pour dressing over potatoes wand season to taste with salt and pepper.

This salad is at its best served at room temperature. Never refrigerate before serving.


black beans

August 10, 2010

I think I could live off of this dish. Black beans are hard to find in the UK, or at least in the tins. Waitrose carries them and for only 79p!


  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 bay leaf bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


Heat oil in skillet and saute onions and pepper, add beans (undrained) and stir in spices, salt and pepper. Add vinegar and cook over low heat until thickened, serve garnished with cilantro and over white rice if desired.



August 3, 2010

I’m not a big fan of coleslaw, especially any store bought stuff. This recipe is incredible!! It’s spicy and not gunky. It goes very well with potato salad and pork (doesn’t all coleslaw?).

ingredients & preparation

  • 1 small green cabbage, grated or chopped into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups of Lexington-Style BBQ Sauce– recipe shown below (mix ingredients together and let sit for 10 min; cabbage should be wet, but not swimming in the sauce):
    • 2 cups cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
    • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup ketchup

From epicurious


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