Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Cupcakes - Recipe

Easter Egg Cupcakes with Smashed Eggs
The blogosphere is on overload with Cadbury Creme Eggs recipes, but alas I'm not a fan of the Creme Egg.  The photographs and recipes I've seen though are enough to make me wish I was a Creme Egg fan.

I've used my favourite chocolate filled eggs because I'm happy that I can decorate my cakes and eat the eggs at the same time.

I made some of the cupcakes in muffin cases and others in a friand tin.

Makes: 12 chocolate cakes
You will need: 150g softened unsalted butter, 150g caster sugar, 150g self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 25g cocoa powder, 3 eggs

1. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cake cases. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Divide the mixture among the cases.
2. Bake in a preheated oven, 180°C for 20 minutes until they are risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Icing

You will need: 25g unsalted butter, 15g cocoa powder, 175g icing sugar, 2/3 tablespoons of milk.

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa powder and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the icing sugar and milk, mixing until smooth.
2. Return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring until it has a glossy pouring consistency, if it is too thick add a teaspoon of milk. Quickly spread the icing over the cakes whilst it is still warm. Top with mini eggs.

Nature's Path Nice and Nobbly Granola Bars - Review

Nature's Path are an organic cereal producer who produce gluten-free products.  They are also a family run independent company.

New to the cereal range are the Gluten Free Nice and Nobbly Granola Bars - I've been sent Trail Mix which contains cranberries, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, flax seeds and gluten-free oats and also Dark Chocolate Chip which is basically the same as the Trail Mix but contains chunks of Fair Trade dark chocolate.  There are five bars in each box and each bar weighs 35g.

Delicious gluten-free treats
The perfect size bar to pop in the handbag for snacking, or for the lunch box as a sweet treat. These delicious bars are so good I'm not sure I would want to share with anyone, they are mine, all mine - sorry hubby!

I love granola and now it comes in a handy bar - for those who doubt gluten free can be delicious, I know these bars will delight you.

Disclaimer:  The bars were sent to me for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

Thank you to Nature's Path for the delicious granola bars.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Knorr Flavour Pots - Review

Garlic, Peppercorn, Curry, Chilli, Mixed Herbs
I missed out - Knorr recently held a Chef's Table event - it was held in London and I live in the West Midlands.  The good news - they have kindly sent me a Knorr Flavour Pot Mystery Box Challenge.....so let's see how I got on.
Delicious selection of fresh and store cupboard ingredients
I melted a few pieces of dark chocolate and stirred in a small amount of the Chilli Flavour Pot to make a delicious dark Belgian chocolate and chilli sauce........

Griddled pineapple served with the delicious chilli chocolate sauce
We have had some really tasty meals over the last week using the Flavour Pots.........Risotto, Lamb Shanks, Peppercorn Chicken and Chicken Curry...........


I used the mixed herbs Flavour Pot and made a risotto. All I needed to do was stir half the pot into the risotto when it was almost finished cooking. I like vegetarian risotto and after taking the photograph I topped my bowl with some cooked field mushrooms and more Parmesan cheese.  The Mixed Herb Flavour Pot was a fabulous addition and definitely improved the taste of the dish.  I shy away from photographing risotto because it isn't the prettiest of dishes but more than makes up for this with taste.

Lamb shanks cooked slowly for three hours, in red wine, chopped tomatoes and chick peas............
I used half a pot of Mixed Herb Flavour Pot and half a pot of the Garlic Flavour Pot which made the finished dish delicious.

I thinly smeared the chicken fillets with Dijon mustard and then spread over a 3 Peppercorn Flavour Pot.  Fry the chicken fillets to brown, add white vermouth, chicken stock and creme fraiche to the pan. Cook gently for a few minutes.  Add chopped parsley and serve.  Mmmm delicious and the Peppercorn Flavour Pot is definitely a winner.

I cooked a very simple chicken curry using a chopped onion, cubes of chicken fillets, a tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, mango chutney and added the Curry Flavour Pot - plenty of spices here to keep us very happy.
  • The Flavour Pots are very versatile and can be kept in the store cupboard
  • Use the pots to your taste and any left over can be kept in the fridge for seven days
  • Will I use them again? Definitely, they are a brilliant product
The Knorr Flavour Pots have been created by Knorr Chef, Cameron Healy.
Gluten Free
No artificial flavour enhancers, colours or preservatives
Suitable for vegetarians
RRP £1.59 for a pack of 4 pots

Disclaimer:  I was sent products for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

Thank you for the review products.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake - Recipe

No bake Mini Raspberry Cheesecake
These were supposed to be called raspberry rippled cheesecakes but my rippling wasn't great.  I've always liked cheesecake but I haven't made a cheesecake for some time now and these mini cheesecakes were really lovely and remind me of warm days. I used a silicone muffin tray which makes turning them out easy.

I'm suffering from 'writers block' and my posts are a 'little to the point' at the moment, hopefully I'll find something interesting to say in future posts - maybe I should say I fell into the raspberry canes in my fruit patch whilst picking the raspberries but I have to admit the raspberries came from the freezer cabinet in Waitrose!

Do you prefer bake or no bake cheesecake? I would be really interested to know.

Will they freeze?  I have no idea - they didn't get as far as the freezer but I can't see
a reason why they shouldn't freeze and thaw successfully.

Makes: 6 in a regular size silicone muffin tray or 12 in a silicone mini muffin tray

Ingredients:
55g butter
115g crushed digestive biscuits
3 tbsp water
2tsp powdered gelatine
150g raspberries + extra to decorate
2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
150ml double cream
150ml ready made custard
freeze dried raspberries to decorate

Method:
1. Melt the butter and add the crushed digestives. Place the silicone tray onto a metal tray. Divide the biscuit mixture between the six holes. Press the biscuit mixture down with the back of a spoon.  Place the tray in the fridge for an hour.
2. Place the water into a heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine, leave on one side for 5 minutes.
3. Puree the raspberries, then press through a plastic sieve to remove the seeds.
4. Place the bowl of gelatine in a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat for 5 minutes, stirring until the gelatine is a clear liquid.
5. Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk to soft peaks.  Fold into the custard with the grated zest of a lemon and the sugar.  Stir 1½ tablespoons of the gelatine into the raspberry puree and fold the remainder of the gelatine into the custard and cream mixture.  Pour the mixture into the muffin moulds.  Place blobs of the raspberry puree on top and taking a skewer swirl the mixtures together. Chill in the fridge for a few hours to set.
6. Remove the cheesecakes from the moulds and decorate with extra raspberries and freeze dried raspberries.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Sponsored Video - #getsquashd with Robinsons



Grab your straw, some cool water and hold on tight – we’re going for a ride!

Robinsons (the squash peeps) challenged Framestore, the Oscar winning VFX team behind Gravity to #GETSQUASHD in Zero Gravity. Could they rise to the challenge?

In this short video, you might not see George Clooney, Sandra Bullock or even the Muppets, but you will be taken in a plane to a point of zero gravity. Then the #getsquashd stunt begins!

Now it’s time to unfasten your seatbelt! We see the lid of a metallic case pop open and numerous pouches of Robinsons Squash'd set free to experience their own zero gravity moment. A balloon is popped to release water which mostly stays together as one blob and impressively, it’s then infused with a dash of Robinsons Squash'd making it go a lovely bright wobbly orange before being sucked up through a straw. Seeing really is believing!

Robinsons are challenging us to make their new Squash'd in unexpected ways and if you click through to their site, you’ll see some very funny clips of people doing just that – off the road 4x4 cars in Scotland, football freestylers and hula hooping girls all give it a go.

It looks like a fun drink, which I’ll be trying in my office! Perhaps I’ll do it in a client meeting on Tuesday just to get a reaction;)

Enjoy all of the challenges and add your own. Plus #GETSQUASHD to win a GoPro Hero3 over on the Robinson Get Squashed website.

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Robinsons, but all thoughts are our own.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hummingbird Cake - Recipe

The cake has to be stored in the fridge or cut into portions and freeze
The last three cakes I've made have used tinned crushed pineapple and thankfully I have now used up the last tin...........I chose to make this cake because I love the name Hummingbird Cake!

Apparently this cake recipe has been around since the 19th century and is a tradition in the Southern United States.  Hummingbird cake is made using coconut, banana, spices, crushed pineapple and pecans, with a cream cheese frosting.

The 'cake lady' at my local coffee shop used to make this cake and it goes perfectly with a cup of coffee, but for me any cake goes perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Hummingbird Cake
It's a really easy cake to make and you don't need any fancy kitchen equipment - all you need is a bowl, spoon and a sieve.

You will need:  23cm square cake tin greased and base lined.

Ingredients:
450g can crushed pineapple
150g plain flour
75g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
220g soft light brown sugar
45g desiccated coconut
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
180ml vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Pour the contents of the tin of crushed pineapple into a sieve set over a basin and leave to drain. Press down with a potato masher to get the syrup to drain into the bowl.  Reserve 60ml of the pineapple syrup for later.
3. Sift the plain and self raising flour into a bowl, followed by the bicarbonate of soda and spices. Add the sugar to the bowl, stir in the drained pineapple, reserved syrup, coconut, banana, eggs and oil.  Pour the cake batter into the cake tin.
4. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, remove the cake to a rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
30g butter, softened
60g full fat cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
240g icing sugar
Pecans, chopped to decorate

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla extract and gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar.
2. Spread over the cooled cake.
3. Decorate with chopped pecans.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Judge Vegetable Chopper - Review


Here's an easy to use piece of kitchen kit - all you have to do is press the plunger, the stainless steel blades rotate and swiftly do the work for you.  The base of the Judge Vegetable Chopper catches the chopped vegetables which meant I didn't have to spend my time chasing vegetables around the chopping board.

Chopped celery
I used the vegetable chopper today to make a quick pasta dish.  Chilli, onion and celery were chopped very quickly - the more you chop the finer the vegetables.  Herbs, garlic, chillies and nuts are quickly and easily chopped too.
  • Easy to assemble and after use wash in warm soapy water
  • Judge 25 year guarantee
  • Price £10 
  • For stockist details please visit judgecookware.co.uk or can be purchased from online retailers
Disclaimer:  I was sent the product for review, all thoughts are my own.

Thank you Judge Cookware for the review product.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pineapple and Lime Cake - Recipe


This cake uses tinned crushed pineapple but a tin of pineapple slices or cubes can be used, unfortunately fresh pineapple wouldn't work because you need to use the juice from the tin.

The topping is a cream cheese icing and I know recipes always say cakes can't be frozen with this icing but I find they thaw without any problems.  I always slice and freeze my cakes otherwise I'd end up the size of a house.

The cake is full of fabulous ingredients and we loved it
You will need:  20cm springform tin cake tin buttered and lined - I lined the base and sides.

Ingredients:
200g butter softened
200g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
225g tin crushed pineapple
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lime

For the icing:
200g full fat cream cheese
70g butter, softened
400g icing sugar, sifted
Zest of 1 lime
2 tsp lime juice

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/Fan 150ºC.
2. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy.
3. Beat the eggs together, add a little at a time to the cake batter.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices.  Fold into the cake batter.
5. Stir in the pineapple, pineapple juice, lime zest and juice and vanilla extract.
6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a cocktail stick placed into the cake comes out clean.
7. Place the tin on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and place on the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing:
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
2. Add the sifted icing sugar a little at a time otherwise you will end up with icing sugar all over the kitchen, beat until smooth.  Add the lime juice and beat again.
3. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the zest of a lime.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Judge 3 in 1 Digital Spoon Scale and Thermometer - Review


The Judge 3 in 1 is a clever digital spoon scale with thermometer attachments which can be used as a pen thermometer outside of the oven or the probe can be placed into the meat and the body of the appliance can be hooked over the oven door.


    The spoon scale measures in grams, ounces or millimetres for either dry or liquid measurements


I made some mini fruit and nut loaf cakes and these only needed small amounts of cinnamon and vanilla extract.

To test the spoon scale for accuracy I placed pound coins into the spoon and then weighed the same coins on my digital scales.

The spoon scale weighs accurately by holding the main body horizontally
The coins weigh the same as the spoon scale
Now let's use the thermometer.........

The thermometer can either be used in C or F
Here, I was using the pen thermometer and testing pieces of tandoori chicken with the preset selected to the chicken setting - a safe temperature is 77ºC and as you can see my chicken wasn't quite cooked and I popped it back into the oven for a few more minutes.  The thermometer is supplied with preset temperature settings for beef, pork. lamb and chicken or it can be set to the temperature you choose.

The Thermometer conveniently hangs over the oven door
The stainless steel probe is inserted into the meat and the thermometer can either be set with the preset temperatures or set as wished and an alarm alerts you when it has reached the required temperature. There is a metre of heat protected cable attached to the probe which is ample to open and close the oven door. Today there was no running backwards and forwards into the kitchen to check the Sunday roast to see if it was cooked - I let the thermometer do the work for me.

Supplied with two AAA batteries
Large backlit LCD display
Easy to use
Price £23.75
For stockists visit Judge Cookware

Disclaimer:  I was sent the above product for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you Judge Cookware for the review product.




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with a Chilli Cherry Tomato Sauce - Recipe


Neither me, hubby or this blog can live on cake alone.........although I would if I could.  Hence a recipe for an easy midweek meal.

Photographing hot meals can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, whilst I'm faffing about with the camera in the kitchen the food is getting cold, I mostly give hubby his meal whilst I'm taking photographs and then it's me who has to suffer cold food.

The bashed out chicken breast fillet is topped with a Parmesan and parsley crust and today a warming chilli tomato sauce served with a heap of spaghetti was perfect.

I didn't use fresh tomatoes but opened a tin of cherry tomatoes, next time I make it though I'm going to open a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook a few fresh cherry tomatoes in the sauce, I'm not really a fan of tinned cherry tomatoes.

Serves: 2

2 skinless fillet chicken breasts
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg beaten
50g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
50g grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
1 crushed clove garlic
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Tin of cherry tomatoes or
12 cherry tomatoes and a tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
freshly ground salt and pepper
chopped parsley to garnish

To serve:
Spaghetti

1. Taking 3 shallow bowls or plates - place the flour into a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Take another bowl and mix the breadcrumbs and parsley together, add the Parmesan cheese and seasoning.  
2. Bash the chicken breast between two pieces of clingwrap - coat the chicken on both sides in the flour, then the egg and lastly the breadcrumb mixture.
3. Cover a plate in clingwrap and place both coated chicken breasts onto the plate.  Cover with clingwrap.  Place in the fridge.
4. Make the sauce by heating the oil in a pan.  Add the chopped onion and garlic.  Cook gently on a medium heat for a few minutes until the onion has softened.  Add the tomatoes and chilli and then add the Worcester and soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Drizzle a little oil over the chicken and either pan fry or grill for approximately 5 minutes each side.
6. Garnish the finished dish with extra chopped parsley.




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