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Blueberry & Almond Pancakes

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Ordinarily, I’m a fan of pancakes with sugar and lemon. It’s reminiscent of my childhood, when mum and dad would goof around in the kitchen and more of the pancakes would end up on the wall, the ceiling and the floor than on the plate. But we’ve all made bog standard pancakes right?

If you are one of those people who buy the ‘pancake mix’ already made, this is the part where you should hang your head in shame, for you are essentially buying overpriced flour. Pancakes are not difficult to make – flour, eggs, milk and vegetable oil. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it?

We decided to make our pancakes over the weekend, for one of two reasons really. We had Richard’s children and we knew they would want a piece of the action, and secondly because I barely have time to feed myself in the week now, let alone lark about making pancakes and photographing them for my blog. Oh and of course, so that I can strategically post this on my blog the day before Pancake Day.

We managed to find a spare hour on Sunday, so we set about making them; of course everyone wanted something different. I had to be the odd one out and decide I didn’t want plain pancakes. I wanted to make something a little more interesting – I decided on American style blueberry and almond pancakes. They are that bit more substantial, not great for the diet mind. This recipe makes around 10 pancakes.

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Blueberry & Almond Pancakes
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 50g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 1tbsp powdered sweetener
  • Maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, placing each in their own large mixing bowl. Add the almonds, flour, baking powder and milk to the yolk. Mix well to form a thick batter.
  2. Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Fold this into the batter.
  3. Heat a pan on a medium heat. Using a ladle pour your batter into the pan, topping the pancake with 5-6 blueberries. Once the pancake starts to look golden around the edges, flip the pancake using a spatula. These pancakes only take about 1 minute on each side in a hot pan.
  4. In a separate saucepan, place 100g blueberries over a high heat, sprinkle with 1 tbsp powered sweetener and allow to cook until the berries have burst and are a deep purple liquid.
  5. Serve the pancakes stacked and drizzled with blueberry sauce. You can also add a splash of maple syrup if it takes your fancy.

 

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Autumn: the perfect season – and Jamie’s PBJ Brownies

Call me barmy, but autumn is definitely my favourite season; the sound of the rain lashing down on the window pane whist the day creeps into night, the crisp golden leaves blowing in the wind. There is something quite wonderful about this moody weather when you are tucked up in bed with the feather duvet wrapped around you, heating on and a lovely cuppa in hand. Utter bliss.
The colours of autumn really are magical, rusty orange leaves, plump pumpkins and nutty brown pine cones, in contrast to the cold weather it makes me feel all warm inside. Should the beautiful colours not be enough to make you feel warmed through, pulling on your thick woolly tights, hats and gloves will surely do the trick.
As the autumn gets into full swing I’ve many projects up my sleeve, some crafts for the kids, calving pumpkins and baking cookies for bonfire night, we will explore Bluebell Woods, which is a beautiful woodland close to our home (albeit the bluebells will be long gone), but in their place we will discover acorns, berries and squirrels jollying about. I had an idea for autumn leaf collages; they can stick the leaves together and pop them into frames for their bedroom wall, what could be better than displaying the beautiful crimson and golden leaves to mark the turning of the seasons?
But, undoubtedly, the thing I love most about this time of year is the food. Country casseroles and puffed up pies with thick bubbling gravy; what’s not to love? Richard bought me a copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food for my Birthday – perfect for this weather. Not so perfect for my Slimming World… but a few recipes here and there surely couldn’t hurt. I made Jamie’s PBJ brownies – and they are delicious… recipe below.
The other, perhaps more obvious reason, I love the autumn is that we inevitably start to see the supermarket shelves fill with mince pies and advent calendars. I smile to myself every time I hear someone groan that it’s only October and why do the supermarkets feel the need to bring Christmas to us so early. I can’t help it, I love it. It’s the anticipation of it all. I love to shop for presents, I love to wrap them and I love to set about making something delicious and festive in the kitchen.
 
This year I’d like to do lots of baking – sausage rolls, mince pies and many other delicious treats to offer friends and family over the festive season, not to mention the mulled wine! Anyhow – enough about Christmas for the time being, here is the link to the PBJ Brownie recipe. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
 
 
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Waitrose Mini Lavender & Lemon Drizzle Cakes




Calling all cake lovers – this is a must try recipe from Waitrose. I was working for my cousin on Sunday in his butchers and delicatessen when a customer came in to buy mini loaf cases. They are such a cute product, I asked her what she planned on making – lavender and lemon drizzle cakes she said. Don’t they sound delicious! So I decided to copy her -and just look at these little beauties – they taste delicious too!

Recipe makes: 10  
 

Click here for the recipe

Ice-Lollies

Fruit Purée Ice Lollies

Despite the fact that it’s July, the weather seems to have been rather horrid. The past couple of days we’ve seen torrential downpours and intolerable sticky humid nights. Typically, the few sunny days we have had have been during the week when most of us work. Nevertheless, it is July; it is summer, even if the weather is hell bent on convincing us otherwise. Having said that, this week is set to be the hottest of the year so far…
Remember those plastic ice lolly moulds you had as a kid? Yep – you know the ones I mean, almost everyone has one of these lurking somewhere at the back of a cupboard or drawer. Perhaps it’s lost at the back of the ice box in the fridge? If you’ve got one – find it. If you’ve never owned one – buy one and get making these delicious fruit purée lollies.
Today’s recipe is ice lollies of course, or popsicles if you are from across the pond. Not just any old ice lollies either – healthy fruit purée lollies to help keep your bikini body in shape. These fresh and fruity lollies couldn’t be easier to make and you really can pick which ever fruits you like. I choose Mango and Raspberry. You do need to add a little sugar to the raspberries as they can be quite sharp, add sugar and taste to ensure you get the balance right. You can also add a little fresh orange juice to the raspberries to dilute the tart flavour.
These lollies are simply delicious and so refreshing on hot and sunny day – the kids love them too. They will keep in the freezer for a good few months. Next I’m going to try coconut and raspberry lollies with natural yoghurt and coconut milk for a creamier lolly.

Is it just me, or are Mangos slippery little blighters? I still can’t cut one without a struggle, so hats off you if you’ve mastered it. Mangos have a flat long pit in the centre, the trick is to try and cut around this, a good guide for cutting them can be found here.

Mango & Raspberry Ice Lollies

1 mango, diced
1 punnet of raspberries
3 tspb of sugar
Place the mango into a large glass jug and blend into a purée using a stick blender. Do the same with the raspberries, except this time add the sugar as you blend.
Pour the mango purée into the ice lolly mould, making sure you leave room at the top for the raspberry purée . Place the mould into the freezer for 1 hour, remove the mould and add the raspberry purée – place the full moulds into the freezer and leave for at least 4 hours.
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Indulgent Chocolate Buttons

Every now and again you come up with a recipe that is just spectacular, and this one is. Giant chocolate buttons encrusted with delicious dried fruit and crunchy nuts, utterly delicious! I started out thinking I’d make some chocolate bark, but changed my mind and thought giant button shaped treats would be much more decadent. I’m visiting a friend on Thursday for dinner, so I’m planning on taking a few as a gift, they’ll make the perfect after dinner treat. These would also be lovely for a Mother’s Day gift, there is surely nothing better than a homemade edible treat?
You don’t have to stick to the same ingredients I’ve used, you really can pick any combination of dried fruit and nuts to suit your taste, just make sure the flavours complement each other. I think the salty pistachios and cashews work beautifully with the sticky sweet cranberries and apricots. You could also try using different chocolate, white, plain, milk or dark would all be equally delicious.
I used a combination of 70% dark chocolate and milk chocolate. I love the bitterness and depth of flavour you get from dark chocolate, but combined with the milk you get a slightly more subtle flavour that would suit most pallets. Use the very best chocolate you can afford, trust me it’s worth splashing out a little. The taste of these little jewel embellished treats is only going to be as good as the quality of chocolate you use.
I’m looking forward to experimenting with various flavour combinations; I think hazelnut or honeycomb would be delicious. We have the children over the weekend so I’m guessing they will jump at the chance of making a batch of these chocolate buttons, perhaps with popping candy, marshmallows or Smarties. I’d recommend using milk chocolate for the little ones as dark would be too bitter.


* 150g Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate
* 200g Green & Black’s milk chocolate
* Handful of shelled pistachios
* Handful of salted cashew nuts
* Handful of dried cranberries
* Handful of dried apricots, roughly chopped
* Baking parchment paper
Start by placing a saucepan of water (about 200ml) on the hob; position a glass bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring that the glass does not touch the water. Heat water until just boiling, and then turn it right down to a simmer.
Break the chocolate into individual squares and place into the bowl, stir constantly with a spatula, if you continue mixing the chocolate will melt evenly and become liquefied and silky smooth. One the chocolate has melted completely, remove from the heat and place to one side.
Lay out a large section of baking parchment paper and roughly stencil out circles, to your desired size. I found a small drinking glass was the perfect size to draw around. Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the drawn circles and scatter with the fruit and nuts, ensuring that each chocolate button has a couple of pieces of each.
Leave the chocolate buttons on the counter for a couple of hours, at which point they should be hard and dry. Peel them carefully from the parchment paper and place into containers and refrigerate.
These buttons are best eaten cold straight from the fridge and washed down with a nice cup of tea.

lemon-cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

I had a rather eventful Saturday, baking batches of cupcakes for a charity fundraising night at my local pub. Having agreed to bake around 70 cupcakes, I was delighted that my friend Sam had offered to help me, she wanted to brush up on her baking skills and I was only too happy to share the load. We decided upon three kinds of cupcakes, lemon, chocolate and coconut and raspberry. The recipes for the coconut and raspberry and chocolate ones have featured on my blog before and can be found by clicking on the links below, so I thought I’d share the lemon cupcake recipe, which comes courtesy of Mary Berry.
The charity night was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and we raised a wonderful £647 from the door entry, raffle and cupcakes which I think is just wonderful for a small local pub. This is the first time I’ve put my cooking skills to use supporting a charity event, and it felt great to help raise money and the feedback was really positive. I’ll certainly volunteer in future to bake for any other events.

Click here for Mary’s Lemon Cupcakes Recipe!

Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

 
 
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Chocolate Button Cakes



Kids love cake, fact! So, it was no surprise when I asked Max (Richard’s boy) if he wanted to make a cake, he jumped at the chance. So, I proceeded to gather all of my recipe books that contained cake and asked him to have a flick through and pick one that caught his eye. Mary Berry’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake is what he chose, splendid choice indeed I thought, especially as I already had most of the ingredients.


Having decided upon making the most calorific cake in the entire world, I realised that although I had nearly all of the ingredients, I had no cake tins – which makes cake making all the more difficult. I’m not much of a baker you see, more of a savoury cook. I did however have a muffin tin and some cake cases, these would have to suffice. Max on the other hand felt quite differently about the absence of a cake tin and decided to have a strop over it. That was until I explained that we’d still be making the same cake, but we’d be making individual ones instead of one big one. Kids ay! So with the ingredients ready, the cooking equipment in order and the mood restored we set about making these delicious little cakes.

I’ve never made a Mary Berry cake before, of course I’ve watched her on the Great British Bake Off and various other foodie programmes, but never attempted any of her recipes. They always look delicious, but aside from the fact that I’m not much of a baker, a sweet tooth is something I’m slowly beginning to lose as I get older. Harrah, there is hope for my ever expanding waistline after all.

These cakes, as well as being devilishly chocolaty and delicious, are somewhat light, which I can only imagine comes from whisking the egg whites and folding them in – the part of the recipe I insisted on helping with, for fear of losing all the air and ending up with a rather dense cake, or dense cakes even. If you’re a chocolate fan you’ll simply rejoice at the thought of a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing and Cadbury’s chocolate buttons on the top (an addition Max and I felt was essential).

I’ve included Mary’s recipe below, but we obviously changed a couple of aspects, either way I guarantee you’ll end up with a delicious chocolate cake. 

Cuts into 8 slices (615 cals each)

Ingredients

* 125g butter, plus extra for greasing
* 200g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
* 2 tbsp water
* 3 eggs, separated
* 125g caster sugar
* 90g self-raising flour
* 60g ground almonds
* 60g butter
* 30g cocoa powder
* 3 tbsp milk
* 250g icing sugar, sifted
* White chocolate curls to decorate

Method

1. Lightly butter a deep 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the butter and water. Put the bowl over a pan of hot water and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture has melted. Cool.

3. Combine the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk together with an electric whisk until fluffy and very light in colour. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the flour and ground almonds.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the sponge mixture, gently but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C fan, Gas 4) for 50 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch.

5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, turn out on to a wire rack, and peel off the lining paper. Cool completely.

6. Make the fudge icing: melt the butter in a pan, add the cocoa powder, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar. Beat well until smooth. Leave to cool until thickened.

7. Split the cake in half horizontally and sandwich the layers together with half of the fudge icing. With a palette knife, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with white chocolate curls.

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Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

Much like last week, I find myself writing a Friday post on a Thursday. But, essentially it’s Friday due to the Bank Holiday, which brings me to bid you all a very happy Easter. I’ll hopefully have an interesting post for you next week as I’m off camping this weekend. I know, I’m totally mad in this weather, but I was watching the snow from my window the other day and suddenly had a craving for a nice sausage casserole so I’ll be making sure I’m prepped for that on my little trip, that’s sure to keep my body warm and spirit high.
Anyhow, enough about this dreadful weather. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m really not much of a baker, but when I read about these little beauties I couldn’t resist trying my hand at them. I think you’ll agree, they are rather cute and make for an impressive looking cupcake. I know, I know, cupcakes I hear you moan. They are so last year, or the year before for that matter, but who cares? And anyway, I’ve never been one for ‘on trend’; I make what I want, when I want.
Raspberries and coconut are two of my favourite things, so when I heard about them being used together, in a cupcake, let’s just say it was one of those vivacious moments. This recipe is a mixture of a few I’ve found floating around the internet, I first read about them over at a blog I love to read Emily’s Recipes & Reviews, definitely worth a view by the way. Despite her fine looking recipe, I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to embark on making the icing with egg whites, call me a lazy cook if you will, but I decided to look for an alternative, the alternative being butter icing.
With this recipe, I loved the idea that you place raspberries in with the cake mixture meaning that when you bite into the cupcake you get the sweetness from the icing and delicious sponge that completely off sets the sharpness of the raspberries. Make sure you save the prettiest raspberries for the decoration.
Happy Easter everyone.
Makes 12 cupcakes
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
120ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
200g of raspberries (you’ll need 48 in total)
For the icing and decoration:
80g unsalted butter, softened
25ml coconut milk
250g icing sugar
25g desiccated coconut
12 raspberries
         
Preheat the oven to 170°C and place the paper cases into a muffin tray.
Add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt in a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix until light and fluffy, or mix it by hand if you’ve enough will power in you. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk and vanilla extract; beat into the flour mixture until well combined.  Add the egg and ensure it’s mixed well.
Add three raspberries to each of the paper cases then spoon the cupcake mix over the top until almost full and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until light, spongy and golden brown in colour. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
To make the icing: Beat the icing sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and gradually add the coconut milk. Once the milk has been fully added, turn up to high speed and continue beating for a further 5-10 minutes until the icing is very soft and fluffy.
Spoon the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and top each one with desiccated coconut and a raspberry.

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Flipping hell it’s almost Shrove Tuesday!

That’s Pancake Day to you and me, and it is only a matter of days before we start seeing the ingredients shoved at us left right and centre in the supermarkets. Buy one get one free squeezy lemon anyone?

Shrove Tuesday is on 12th February.
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of bored of basic pancakes with lemon and sugar. Don’t get me wrong they taste great, and provoke wonderful childhood memories, but there are so many other pancake recipes waiting to be discovered. Think of it like your Christmas dinner if you will. Yes, you still have turkey every year, but I’m guessing you try different side dishes with it each year, a new glazed carrot recipe maybe? So why not make this the year you ditch the norm and discover exciting new pancake day recipes. Go on, you know you want to!
What is Shrove Tuesday?
Now, I couldn’t very well write a post about Shrove Tuesday without having done my research, so for those of you who are interested, or just need to know in case the kids ask. Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian festival Lent (a time for giving things up).
So why the pancakes?
During Lent many Christians give up certain foods as a way of remembering the time Jesus fasted in the desert, and as a test of self discipline. Pancakes have become the customary food of choice on Shrove Tuesday so that rich ingredients, such as eggs, milk and sugar could be used up before the start of the 40 days of Lent.
Having scrawled through numerous Pancake Day recipes, I decided to have a go at this one from the Banking Mad website, and it was delicious with a little Greek yoghurt and honey drizzled on top.  


Toasted Almond Pancakes

Makes 12-14 pancakes
1tbsp vegetable oil
125g plain flour, sifted
210ml milk
90ml water
75g flaked almonds, toasted
2 medium eggs
Pinch of salt
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Mix together the milk and the water in a jug.
Beat the eggs into the flour with a wooden spoon and gradually pour in the milk and water mixture to get a smooth mix similar to single cream. Stir in the flaked almonds.
Stir in the oil and allow to stand for 30 minutes before using.
Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot, then add a tablespoon of oil. Swirl the oil around the pan. Pour a ladleful of the batter into the pan, quickly turning the pan to coat the base evenly with the batter. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute, until the base is lightly browned.
Gently flip the pancake over and cook on the other side for a few seconds, until lightly browned. Slide the pancake onto a plate, cover with greaseproof paper and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Serve the pancakes folded in quarters with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a generous helping of runny honey.
  
I urge you not to grab one of those horrible ‘shake to make’ Pancake mixes from the supermarket. There are a few reasons why. Firstly Pancakes are ridiculously easy, and so much cheaper to make. The kids will have great fun making them, and it’s good to teach kids how to cook properly – unless you want them to grow up on ready meals. And if that’s not enough to put you off, I checked and there are a staggering 190 calories in a pancake made from Tesco Pancake Mix Bottle compared to only around 70 in a home made one. 
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Apple & Blackberry Pie

There is something quite joyful about apple and blackberry pie at the best of times, but when feeding guests, one has a tendency to go overboard with the portion size – my inner greediness.  I’d say this recipe would serve eight hungry people or perhaps ten modest portions, so it’s certainly one for a large dinner party. In fact, it makes an ideal dessert for feeding a large number as you can prepare it a day ahead and pop it in the oven 40 minutes before serving. Paired with a generous portion of custard, or indeed ice cream, you have yourself a stress free impressive homely dessert.


The decadent aroma of apples and sweet pastry drifting though the house is just heavenly, you’ll hardly be able to wait until it’s cooked through. And you can get creative with the pie top, which is just good plain fun if you ask me. Having recently purchased some star shaped cookie cutters I was rather pleased with my little work of art.
As I needed such a large pie I decided to make it in a stoneware roasting tray, rather than a traditional pie dish, the dimensions of which are: 32 x 23cm. Of course, you can half the ingredient quantities below for an ordinary 23cm pie dish.
Firstly preheat the oven to 200⁰C.

For the pastry

NB: This is a sweet pastry for desserts
500g plain flour
350g unsalted butter (must be cold)
125ml cold water
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
Start by combining the butter, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Rub the mixture between your thumbs and forefingers to create a crumb like mixture. There should be no large lumps of butter; you are looking for a breadcrumb consistency.
In a separate bowl mix the egg together with 125ml cold water, add to the flour mixture and kneed until combined. Form the pastry into a ball and wrap in cling film. Store this in the fridge whilst you make the filling. The pastry is easier to work with when cold.

For the filling

200g caster sugar
300g blackberries
6 cooking apples
2 tbsp corn flour
1tsp ground cinnamon

To make the pie filling, add the sugar, cinnamon and corn flour to a large bowl. Peel, core and slice the cooking apples into large chunks, add these to the bowl along with the blackberries. Using your hands, carefully mix together ensuring that all of the fruit is coated with the sugar mixture. Set this aside while you roll out your pastry.


On a floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to slightly larger than your pie dish; you want the pastry to be about 3mm thick. Lay this into the pie dish ensuring the pastry comes all the way up the edges. Spoon the fruit mixture into the pastry lined dish.
Cover the top with the rolled out remaining pastry, tucking the edges under to meet the sides. Crimp the edge with a folk and decorate the top with any left of pastry.
Cut a few slits in the top to allow the steam out whilst cooking.
Place in the centre of your pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pie after 25 minutes and cover with foil to prevent the pastry from burning. Place back into the oven for a further 25 minutes.