NZ Ninja Bake 2015

Last weekend, stealth ninja-bakers were diving over fences and behind bushes* in their missions to deliver baking to front doors and letterboxes unseen. Unsuspecting recipients were opening their doors and checking their mail, surprised to find baked treats waiting for them.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015This is the third Ninja Bake I’ve been involved in (check out 2012 and 2013), and the buzz of baking for deserving lovelies who have been nominated by their equally-lovely friends is yet to wear off. There’s something pretty special about secretly making a stranger’s day alongside other anonymous bakers. There’s something pretty special about being involved in an event that lets people know that what they do and what they are going through is acknowledged and not un-noticed.

One of my favourite parts of this year’s bake has been seeing the number of bakers who have also been nominees, proving that good people attract other good people. Reading about their surprise at leaving to get their ninja on and finding they’ve been “bombed” was a really inspiring part of this weekend.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015By some stroke of luck, the person I was to bake for required dairy-free treats, so I made my Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake into cupcakes (18 minutes cooking time for the medium-sized cakes, 13 minutes for the minis). I iced them with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting (diary-free, of course!), packaged them up with the Ninja Bake poem and a Random Acts of Kindness card, and set off to make my delivery. The container was too big to fit in their letterbox, so I had to get brave and deliver to the glass front door. As I raced up, I realised the curtains were pulled, so I’m pretty sure I got away unseen.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop poemCheck out NZ Ninja Baking Drop on Facebook and Instagram, or check out the blog. The event was timed to coincide with the 11th NZ Random Acts of Kindness Day on Tuesday 1st September.

*No ninja bakers were harmed in the delivery of baked goodies


The Sisterhood: Ninja Bake 2013

#sisterhoodninjabake2013On Friday morning I set out to bake brownies for The Sisterhood Ninja Bake 2013, using this no-fail brownie recipe. Except…I didn’t have enough eggs. Oh.

I really didn’t want to take the boys to the supermarket for the sake of one egg, so went back to my recipe books. There was a can of condensed milk in the pantry, and I was dying to try making Tim Tam Truffles, but didn’t want to grab a teaspoon and eat waste the rest of the can, so decided on chocolate chip cookies as well.

Choc Chip CookiesWhile the cookies baked, I experimented with the truffle mixture: one-and-a-half packets of Tim Tams in the food processor with three-quarters of a can of condensed milk, plus three vanilla wines to help with the texture. While the cookies cooled, I rolled the truffles into balls and coated them in finely-grated dark chocolate. A few pieces of biscuit hadn’t been crushed sufficiently, so I really had to do a bit of sampling along the way.

Tim Tam TrufflesWhen the cookies and the truffles were ready, they went into pink-paper-lined pink containers (double feel good factor: baking treats for strangers and using containers where a portion of the sales go towards breast cancer research!), tied with ribbons to secure The Sisterhood poems, little cards, and pinwheels bearing the recipients’ names.

#sisterhoodninjabake2013Next morning, dressed and hooded in black, I set out on my stealth mission. The first drop was less than a five-minute drive from home; into the letterbox with one box of treats. The second drop was a little further away; the curtains were drawn so I got bold and dropped a box on the front doorstep, even stopping to take a cheeky photo. The third drop was across the other side of town; I had this feeling I’d be seen if I attempted to open the gate (it had a squeaky look about it), so the box joined the day’s newspaper in the letterbox.

Ninja BakeJob done; all treats delivered, hopefully discovered in time for a lazy Saturday morning cuppa. Just like last year, I returned home feeling good. Feeling better than good – feeling awesome. Feeling awesome about a successful ninja mission and being part of something so super-cool.

(Later, I was sprung by one of the people I nominated to receive baking; she was so grateful for the delicious goodies left for her, which makes this so worthwhile.)

Truffle Heart
Check out The Sisterhood on Facebook for delicious pictures and stories from ninjas and lovely responses from lovely recipients x

Have you entered my GIVEAWAY for a gorgeous Rudi by Em cushion cover?

Random Thoughts on Thursday

~ since almost losing my engagement ring last year while pregnant with Pickle, I have been wearing it inside my wedding band. I could probably swap them around again, but when I try, it just doesn’t look right anymore. It’s also still loose, and I’m still scared of losing it again.

~ The Sisterhood are having another Ninja Bake! It’s in October, and registrations are now being taken for stealth bakers. Last year’s stealth mission was SO MUCH FUN, and I can’t wait to do it again – why not join me in spreading some deliciously baked love??!

~ for a few weeks, I carried a thank you card around in my nappy bag, intending to drop it off to a friend one afternoon while Pickle slept in the car. It migrated out of my bag, and onto the bench, then onto the mantlepiece because said-friend was coming to visit. Two weeks later…it’s still sitting on the mantlepiece and I’m now wondering if we’ve gone past the point of no return?? It’s for Pickle’s birthday…which was two-and-a-half months ago….

~ when I was little, I once commented (after reading the racing results in the local paper, for some reason) at the breakfast table, “Gee, Quinella and Trifecta win a lot of races, don’t they?” I think I’ll be keeping that one from my racehorse trainer father-in-law!

~ Pickle is finally unswaddled, hurrah!! I tried three or four times unsuccessfully, but a couple of weeks ago, when I tried, he was obviously ready. He’s still a rubbish sleeper, and currently spends the night in bed with us, but we both sleep better when he’s snuggled in beside me. He does, however, hate the sleeping bag, so I’m glad we’re coming into warmer weather.

~ I love spring. My hayfever does not.

~ eating dinner on Tuesday night, Tiny suddenly asked, “Mum, what animal does pineapple come out of?” Tall and I almost choked; out of the mouths of babes, huh?!

~ I’ve been nominated for the Munch Awards Best Kids Food Blog; voting commences 4 October so keep an eye out for the link and vote for me, if you wanna.

Munch Award

Fun with Food: Rebekah’s Chocolate Brownie

For some time, I have been lamenting the fact that I can not make brownie. There was the Tana Ramsay brownie incident, followed by many further attempts with further recipes. Even the “perfect brownie recipe” I pinned on Pinterest was a failure. I was beginning to think that a chocolate brownie was my baking nemesis; I was ready to give up.

But then – THEN! My friend Rebekah and I were discussing what we were going to bake for The Sisterhood’s Ninja Cookie Drop, and she mentioned she had a fail-safe brownie recipe. I begged for the recipe, and when it arrived in my Facebook inbox, I printed it out straight away and set to baking.

And on that day, I am proud to say that I conquered the brownie.

IMG_1892I believe I may have shouted from the rooftop. I definitely let a few people know who were aware of my…weakness; they demanded proof, and they got it.

Since then, I’ve been baking this brownie every few weeks. It’s my go-to “Gah! We’ve got people coming round and there’s nothing in the tins!” sweet treat, and I’ve been bravely trying different combinations. And it still works, by some miracle.

IMG_1895You can replace the chocolate chips with white chocolate pieces, or toasted nuts if you prefer. My favourite variation has been a milk chocolate and pistachio brownie, so once you’ve perfected the original, have fun with creating your own!


Rebekah’s Chocolate Brownie

175g butter, coarsely chopped
175g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c plain flour
2 T cocoa powder
1/2 c chocolate chips
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to fan bake 160degC. Line a 17cm x 27cm baking dish with baking paper.

Melt butter and chocolate together, either in 30-second bursts in the microwave, or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until smooth, then stir in sugar and eggs.

Sift flour and cocoa powder together, then stir into the chocolate mixture; add the chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared dish and bake for one hour, or until an inserted skewer comes out moist but clean.

Cool the brownie in the tin, then remove and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Recipe: from my friend Rebekah; original source unknown

Fun with Food

Fun with Food is a way for you to share your foodie (mis)adventures with other people. You don’t have to be a superb cook, or produce Masterchef-quality plates of food; this will be a place to share new and favourite recipes, meal plans, cooking on a budget, lunchbox ideas, new products, kitchen successes and disasters (because we all have those!) and maybe some handy tips for getting fussy kids to eat their dinner!

The linky will open on a Tuesday and stay open for a week, so I hope you’ll share your kitchen adventures, and be inspired by what other people are doing in the heart of their homes.

(By clicking on the button below, you’ll be taken to an external page, where you can enter your link and see who else is linking up. Please take the time to visit them, too!)

Fun with Food

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

A Favour…

So you know how I’m part of The Sisterhood?

Well, Sophie and The Sisterhood are in the running for the AMP $10,000 Peoples Choice Scholarship, which is awarded to kiwis with “great ideas”. And if you’ve been following along with what we’ve been up to, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that The Sisterhood definitely fits into this category.

Imagine what we could do with $10,000??? Think of all the deserving women who could be loved on, or ninja-cookie-bombed….exciting prospect, right?

So now, I’d like to take the liberty (hey, it’s my blog!) of asking you to take just two seconds to vote for The Sisterhood. The scholarship is under the name Sophie Laughton-Mutu.

More deets can be found on The Sisterhood Facebook page and on Sophie’s blog, Sophie Slim.

Voting closes 30th September, so please please PLEASE head over to the voting page now and show your support.


Stealth Mission: Ninja Cookie Drop

On Saturday and Sunday, unsuspecting women all over New Zealand would have wandered out onto their front doorsteps or out to their mailboxes, only to find a little package of love, stealthily left by an unknown ninja.

Inside these packages, they would find an array of delicious baked treats, along with a copy of this poem:

Hopefully they would have no idea of the ninja baker who’d been crafty in their mission, or how they came to be the recipient of such sweet, sweet (or savoury!) goodness.

On Friday, I spent the day baking for the three women I had the pleasure of ninja-baking for.

Let me drop a few stats for you…

Butter softened: 460g
Flour sifted: 2 1/4 cups
Sugars creamed: 6 1/4 cups
Chocolate melted: 100g
Oven on 180degC for: 44 minutes
Number of times beater washed: 3
Number of times Tiny asked “What’s that on you?”, meaning my apron: 12
Number of babies who slept through the entire process: 1
Emergency trips to the store: 1
Number of times forehead slapped for forgetting I have Ninjabread Men cookie cutters: 3

I lined trays and pans. I creamed butter and sugars. I sifted flours and cocoa powder. I folded and spooned and flattened. I cooled and iced and decorated.

I made a delicious, powdery mess all over the bench, the floor, and myself. For once, I didn’t burn myself on the oven or the trays.

I danced to terrible radio music and let Tiny lick the beater for the first time, and the smell of good things baking filled the air.

When everything had cooled and set, I packaged them up with love and care, attaching recipes and poems with brightly coloured ribbons.

And I gleefully planned my ninja attack. Should I wear black, and a ninja-style mask over my face, in case I was spotted? Should I go for the safe option of the letterbox, or be bold and try for the front porch or by the front door? Should I run like the wind if approached, or calmly try and fudge my way out of it?

When I received my email from HQ with the details of my ladies, I breathed a sigh of relief that I knew none of them, and that they wouldn’t know me. I had envisaged dropping baking off at a friend’s, and being seen, unable to think of a viable excuse as to what on earth I was doing.

On Saturday morning, I was in the car just after 9am, off on my first drop. I took Pickle as my look-out. He fell asleep on the job.

As I approached the first house, I felt nervous butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach. What if I’m seeeeeeeen??! I squealed silently. It was a house down a driveway, with the letterbox at the road-front. YUSS!

Second house – curtains closed. Sweeeeeeet. Still, I drove away as fast as I possibly could, just in case.

Third house….I drove up slowly but inconspicuously; seeing no lights on in the front rooms, and no one in the front yard, I leaped from the car, dashed madly across the road, slid the package carefully into the letterbox and raced back to the car.

And then, I drove all the way home with a big, goofy grin on my face, and a little dance in my heart.


To see what other ninja sisters baked, and to read the reactions of our deserving nominees, visit The Sisterhood on Facebook: warm fuzzies guaranteed!!

A massive THANK YOU to Sophie for organising everything – from the idea to the logistics. Girl, you are AMAZING xoxo