This week I received a lovely notification; that a fellow blogger had nominated me for a Liebster Award! So a big thank you is in order to Emma, over at teapots and twine, for nominating me for the award. If … Continue reading →
My second lot of baking for the charity cake sale last week was going to be red velvet whoopie pies – sadly this just wasn’t meant to be! I couldn’t find any red food colouring to start with and then … Continue reading →
This week we’re holding a bake sale at work to raise money for Comic Relief and I’ve been recruited to help out. Baking for a great cause, what could be better? I’ve decided to make chewy, oaty, raisin crunchies – … Continue reading →
Tom and I have been doing the Hairy Bikers’ diet for just over two months now and it’s been so effective and easy for us to stick to. Between us we’ve lost 2 and a half stone and I feel … Continue reading →
It was my friend Alpa’s birthday this week so I decided to try out the low-calorie cupcakes from the Hairy Bikers cookbook as I’ve been interested to see how they turn out! Now, everyone at work liked the cakes, they went down well, but I am standing firm on the point that truly delicious, fluffy, moist cupcakes need butter. I am a butter advocate, I can’t be doing with low-fat spreads and I just don’t think they’re right for baking cakes. But I’m glad I tried out the recipe as I’ve been curious for a while. I’ve decided that while Tom and I are on this healthy eating plan I’d rather treat myself, very rarely, to a slice of proper, full-fat, full-blown Victoria sponge or a chocolatey, gooey brownie and enjoy the naughtiness of it!
The main thing is though that Alpa liked them and next week I get to treat myself to a whoopie pie as I’ve been recruited to bake for the Comic Relief cake sale at work! On the menu, red velvet whoopie pies and white chocolate cookies!
While looking through my baking drawer this afternoon I discovered I had a full packet of chocolate chips just sitting there, which was perfect as I suddenly had a craving to bake some chocolate chip cookies!
Usually I use caster sugar when making cookies or biscuits but I only had a small amount so I also added dark soft sugar to the butter – turns out this makes the cookies extra rich and gooey! I was a bit of a lazy baker this afternoon, I didn’t really measure any of the ingredients just judged by sight the amounts and although I think I used slightly too much butter they’ve turned out pretty well! Tom was very appreciative of them anyway and he’s not often a cookie-kind-of person!
This weekend has become a total food-fest for me and Tom: we discovered Forest Hill were holding a mini food market in the station car park so we popped down the road for a little look-see and it was well worth the visit. We enjoyed an anchovy, caper and olive wood-fired pizza made in the back of an adorable little pizza-oven-van and I treated myself to a carrot-cake cupcake. We tried some wine produced in Forest Hill and some homemade damson jam which was delicious!
We also decided to go and take a look at The Horniman Museum which is amazing, it’s a local museum with acres of gardens and fruit and veg patches tucked away in Forest Hill. We wandered around the gardens looking at all the food they’re growing and enjoying the amazing views across the whole of London. I’m so excited we’ve found a local garden, it will be such a nice spot for walks in the summer!
We had blue skies and sunshine in London today, albeit the temperatures were still a bit nippy, but it was a perfect day for a trip to one of mine and Tom’s favourite London places – Borough Market. It’s foodie heaven, and although on a Saturday it’s a huge tourist spot, I love it! You can get pretty much anything you want at Borough, be it artisan bread, guinea fowl, Belgian beers, fresh fruit and veg or the biggest blocks of chocolate you’ve ever seen – it caters for anyone! Tom and I like to go to Borough most weekends, it’s so nice to have such a great source of food so close to our flat and it’s a nice place just for a wander.
Today we got there fairly late on in the day but got stuck straight in trying different cheeses, chorizos and hams, olive oils and dips. For lunch we had Boston Sausage hot dogs sitting in the sunshine by the Cathedral and I had a cup of hot apple, pear and elderflower which was delicious, especially in the cold weather!
This weekend we bought Comté cheese, garlic stuffed olives, kalamata olives, some fresh crusty bread, an artisan sausage roll, strawberries, rhubarb, some beer and elderflower wine. I could have bought so much more, the chocolate brownies and salted caramel ice cream always take my fancy but I controlled myself – I’m sure it won’t be long until we visit again!
While we’ve been on the Hairy Bikers’ diet we’ve occasionally been allowed to use a few sheets of filo pastry but always end up with some leftover and I’m not always sure how to make something low-calorie with the pastry. Tonight I decided to try a roasted vegetable tart and while searching for recipes I came across this one from Jamie Oliver for a spinach tart. I had already bought the veggie ingredients, so I decided to use the idea of wrapping up the filling in pastry, and make a veggie, ratatouille tart.
To keep it low-calorie I used v little oil when frying the veggies and then just added a can of chopped tomatoes, a tsp of paprika and lots of black pepper. To give the tart an extra kick of flavour I spread a tsp of pesto across the tart base before adding the filling.
I then cooked it at about 180-190 degrees for 20 minutes until the pastry turned golden brown and crispy!
I used courgettes, red onions, red pepper, and aubergine, mixed with chopped tomatoes and paprika to make the filling
Thinly spread pesto adds some extra flavour to the dish
The pastry should be golden and crisp, and make a nice crunchy sound as you cut in to it
I know I’ve already posted about this pie once but it’s become a firm favourite in our house and I couldn’t resist taking more pictures of it using my new iPhone! Eeek! I’m a bit late to the game when it comes to Instagram so be prepared for lots of insta-fied photos in the coming posts!
I love the graduated colour of the leeks – so pretty!
Sweat the leeks, onions and garlic until they start to soften, then add 100ml water and 100ml white wine and crumble in a stock cube
Once you’ve cooked the chicken, dust it in flour then add the onion and leek mix, salt and pepper and creme fraiche.
Crinkle up the filo pastry sheets and scrunch on top of the pie mix, bake in the oven for half an hour
Emerald Street and the Hummingbird Bakery are having a cupcake competition – a chance for aspiring bakers to show off their talents at coming up with new cake recipes. The idea is to come up with an American themed recipe that, if you win, the Hummingbird Bakery will bake and sell in their shops.
I came up with 2 ideas I wanted to try out on my lovely colleagues at work – Apple and Pecan pie, with caramelised apple slices inside, and a Salted Caramel, Pretzel cake with a peanut butter sponge.
Both cakes have a cream cheese frosting; the apple one with chopped pecans in the sponge, apple slices in the centre, and a sprinkling of crumble on the top; the peanut butter sponge has a salted caramel sauce and a jauntily placed pretzel on the top.
I took the cakes into work and tried them out on my colleagues – they loved them! Even my friend who doesn’t like peanut butter thought the pretzel cupcake was delicious – which is great news as this is the one I chose to submit! I felt it would stand out a bit more from the crowd and was the favourite at work. We’ll see how I get on but I’ll definitely make them both again, and start trying out more exciting cupcake ideas!
My Aunty and her partner came over to visit us in our flat this weekend and I wanted to make something a bit different for brunch to the usual bacon, eggs, sausage etc that make up our classic Full English.
Over Christmas, Tom’s mum Sue made this delicious brunch-inspired bread from a Jamie Oliver recipe – rolled bread of parma ham, with cheese, eggs and basil. I thought it would be perfect for a wintery Sunday brunch and so I decided to give it a go.
Jamie’s recipe can be found here. It uses a basic bread recipe for the dough, which you then roll out to a metre long (or so, can be smaller), rectangle. Then you fill the middle of the rectangle lengthways with the ingredients. I laid out the parma ham, then spaced out the hard-boiled eggs, scattered over the chopped sundried tomatoes, grated over some cheese, and drizzled with olive oil and then some salt and pepper. I forgot the basil leaves, but I don’t think this mattered too much. Once you’ve added all the filling, roll the dough over so that everything is rolled up and then bring the two ends together to meet, in a circle shape. Leave the dough to rise and then bake at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
I think it’s best to eat the bread fresh out of the oven, when it’s still hot and the cheese is all melted. We served our loaf with a simple green salad. You could always add some olives to the middle of the bread or anchovies, to give it a saltier kick, or you could try a sweet version, and add chunks of chocolate and raisins to the middle, for a melted, gooey chocolate loaf.
. . . tonight we had the Hairy Bikers’ healthy chicken and smoked ham pie.
“Chicken pie, healthy?” I hear you cry – yup it really is and it’s delicious! The main concepts of the Hairy Bikers’ diet are to reduce the amount of oil you use when cooking, substitute particularly fatty ingredients for lower fat alternatives, and to reduce your portion sizes.
This pie is low in calories because it uses a small amount of oil, brushed around the frying pan; only a small amount of filo pastry, ruffled and crinkled up on top of the sauce; and a low-fat creme fraiche sauce rather than a thick creamy white sauce.
That, combined with our reduced portion sizes, means we can have our pie and eat it too without worrying about calories!
I also made the Bikers’ low calorie bacon flan with onions and peas. This recipe also uses a small amount of filo pastry to reduce the calories compared to a usual shortcrust pastry. The quiche mixture is lower in fat as it uses cornflour as a thickener, mixed with some skimmed milk and then 3 whisked eggs. This is great as you can add whatever veg you have left and it ends up looking really colourful and delicious!
Tonight we’re having chicken with left-over gammon, cherry tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms in a low-fat creme fraiche sauce – tasty and healthy! It’s Summer-in-Winter chicken – a recipe from Mary Cadogan with a few additions of extra veg and anything I have leftover in the fridge!
Served with a small portion of baked beans, for Tom, and some sweetcorn on the side – delicious and incredibly quick! It’s a great recipe to have on hand as you can edit it to fit whatever you have in the cupboard/fridge and to use up leftovers.
Use a pastry brush to lightly cover the pan with a small amount of olive oil and then fry the onions,
later adding the mushrooms and the chicken – don’t forget to season – we got some delicious salt pinch pots for Christmas – onion salt, garlic salt and chili salt – so good!
Once the chicken is cooked through add the leftover gammon (or fry up 2 rashers of bacon) and then add the halved cherry tomato
Once the tomatoes have started to show a touch of colour and the edges are turning, add 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche and stir through
Make sure everything is cooked through and then serve – if on a diet/health kick serve with some salad,
or green beans, otherwise you could serve with some new potatoes
Despite using leftovers in this meal, thanks to our cut-down on portion sizes, we’ve still got leftovers. So I’ve made me and Tom salads for lunch using the leftover chicken and gammon. Yum!