27 January 2011

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Flapjacks






















Continuing my craving for peanut butter I made these chewy flapjacks. I saw a basic recipe in a free supermarket magazine, made a few changes, changed it into cup measures and voila!

Cooper and I also shared a peanut butter and nutella sandwich as a snack this afternoon, it was very yummy. You can see him eyeing up the flapjacks.

I now need to re-stock my peanut butter. This can't be good! I better give these flapjacks away before they expand my waistline.





















Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Flapjacks


1⁄3 cup unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup crunchy nut peanut butter
½ cup demerara sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
3 tbsp honey
3 cups porridge oats
a pinch of salt
½ cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 130c fan/150c/Gas Mark 2.

Line a 20cm x 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper. I rub a little margarine on the tin, so the paper will hold in place.

Before measuring out the peanut butter, syrup and honey, rub a little olive oil over your measuring cup and they will slide out easily. It makes the process so much easier.

In a pan, gently melt together the butter, peanut butter, sugar, syrup and honey.

In a large bowl sprinkle a pinch of salt over the oats and mix in.

Pour the melted peanut butter mixture over the oats and stir until well combined. Leave to cool before adding the chocolate chips to retain their shape. I was in too much of a rush, so I have smeared chocolate instead of chocolate chips.

Pour into your prepared tin and smooth out with a spoon.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before scoring out the squares. Leave the flapjacks in the tin to cool completely.

If you generally use metric when baking, I would urge you to give cup measures a go. It makes baking so quick and easy. Even if you aren't quite ready to let go of metric, you might like to treat yourself to a set of these colourful cup measures from Colourworks. They are only £1.27 from Amazon. I ordered myself a set yesterday, along with dinosaur sandwich cutters. The spoons are dishwasher friendly (a must in my book) and come with a five year guarantee.

My measuring spoons arrived, they are great, but quite huge. I don't know what I was expecting. I think I will be finding a hook for them.

23 January 2011

Babapasta with Seeds



















Yes, the name is made up! I was putting together a new dish for Cooper and it is basically a layer of pasta with fresh tomato sauce, a layer of mashed up broccoli & cauliflower and a layer of macaroni cheese with a sprinkling of seeds on top.

What the heck do you call something like that? I'm not going to bake it, so a bake is out and it isn't really a tower either. Time to make up a name I thought. So babapasta it is or pasta for baby.




























Babapasta with Seeds for Baby

First you need a batch of fresh tomato sauce. Here is a nice simple recipe.

print recipe
Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta
A simple tomato sauce that is a great starting point for many recipes. I haven't added any salt, so that the sauce is suitable for babies and toddlers, but do add some if you would like to.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g carton of passata
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • a handful of fresh basil, torn or chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
1. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent.2. Add the passata and cook gently for a few minutes before adding the tomato puree and sugar.3. Cook gently for 20 minutes.4. Stir well, then add the basil and season.
Details
Total time: Yield: 1 batch





Cook 1 cup of baby shell pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and mix with some of the tomato sauce.

Cheese Sauce

Regretfully I didn't weigh up the ingredients for the cheese sauce. I have made this sauce since I was about 16, so I no longer weigh the ingredients, I just throw as much butter and flour in as I think I need and add the milk gradually as I stir.

I do have a recipe for macaroni cheese, so I will give you that, it is pretty much the recipe I always use. Just cook one cup of baby pasta and mix with some of this delicious sauce.

print recipe
Cheese Sauce
My standy cheese sauce recipe for macaroni cheese. Quick, easy and so, so tasty. Such a great comfort food.
Ingredients
  • 500ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • 50g parmesan, freshly grated
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ½ onion
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
1. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then strain off the peppercorns and the bay leaf.
2. In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add a little milk at a time and whisk until mixture thickens, then add a little more milk and do the same until all the milk is used.Bring the sauce to the boil and then simmer gently for a couple of minutes, still whisking. Add the grated cheddar and Parmesan and stir until melted. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Details
Total time: Yield: 1 batch






Vegetables


Steam half a head of broccoli and half a head of cauliflower until tender. Mash with unsalted butter and freshly ground black pepper.

Topping

sunflower seeds
pumpkins seeds
pine nuts
flax seeds

When all your elements are ready just layer them up. First the tomato pasta, then the vegetables, followed by the macaroni cheese and a sprinkling of seeds and nuts.

If you have a family allergy to nuts, then think carefully before adding them, also there is a chance of choking with a younger baby. The flax seeds are ok, but you may like to consider grinding the other seeds.

Makes 8-10 portions for 10 months old +

22 January 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies with White Chocolate Chunks
























I didn't get a good photo of these and you can't really tell from the photos, but they are the most heavenly treats you can imagine, well if you like peanut butter that is. They look crumbly in the photos, but they are actually quite fudgey in texture. You get the creamy, slightly salty flavour from the peanut butter along with little bites of nut and then the sweetness from the white chocolate. Delicious!

I will be making these again very soon. They will definitely go on my favourite and go-to list. I will give you a peek at it. These are the baked goods I make again and again that everyone loves.

1. Flourless Chocolate Cake

It is a really sumptuous cake, very rich and not cakey, more fudgey (yes, I am seeing a trend here). I don't have a photo of it topped, but I finish it with whipping cream. I whizz up some raspberries with icing sugar and swirl it through the cream, then I top it with berries. Lush and gluten-free too!




2. Green Apple Fruit Cake

This is my dad's very favourite cake. I have lost count of how many times I have made it for him. The apple keeps the cake moist and all the lovely spices (cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger) give it a wonderful flavour.







3 Vegan Carrot Cake

This cake truly made me appreciate carrot cake, which I wouldn't have touched with a barge poll before. It is really light and also benefits from some lovely spices. Of course you cannot underestimate the power of a good frosting. I have to hold my hands up and say usually I go dairy for the frosting, but the original recipe I used was vegan, so the option is there.






4. Berry Cake with Lime Drizzle

This became an instant favourite. It is quick, easy and I end up with two cakes for the price of one. I spilt the cake dough into two loaf tins and sometimes have different berries in each. I think my favourite berry in this cake is raspberry, but blueberries and blackberries are good too. I haven't tried strawberries yet.

This is the second of my favourite cake recipes that originally came from Katiecakes (with kind permission). I got the carrot cake from Katie too. Katie records her recipes in metric, so you can check out her blog for the original recipe. You will swoon when you see all the gorgeous cakes there.


5. Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my absolute favourite cookie recipe. The dough is so velvety and wonderful to handle. I really enjoy making these cookies and they are just how I like them, crisp on the outside and chewy in the centre. I mix up the toppings, sometimes I add nuts, or white, dark or milk chocolate chips. Other times I wrap the dough around a rolo or add fudge pieces. Whichever variety I go for, I just love them.

Now back to the blondies!




















Peanut Butter Blondies with White Chocolate Chunks

1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100g/¾ cup/1½ sticks softened butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (measure to ½cm below the rim)
1¼ cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g good quality white chocolate, cut into small chunks


Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/Gas Mark 3.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and peanut butter until lovely and soft, then add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

Add the flour mix and chopped chocolate to the dough.

Pour into a lined cake or brownie tin (a square 20 x 20 tin is ideal, but I just grabbed my loose-based round cake tin).

Bake for 25-30 minutes until almost firm in the middle and golden.

Allow to cool in the tin.

Makes 12 squares

I found the recipe for these blondies in Rachel Allen's book called Bake. It's a lovely book, although nothing can beat actually watching her bake whilst chatting away in that lovely irish accent of hers.

I converted the recipe into cup measures for my own use as I find it much easier, but you can pick the book up for just £9.40 on Amazon just now, so if you prefer metric, you could always treat yourself to the book. Go on, you know you deserve it!

Disclosure Statement: I did not receive this book free from the publisher. I borrowed this book from the library and decided to review it. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

19 January 2011

Potato, Leek & Spinach Soup with Rice

















This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required. Lisa is hosting this month and came up with the idea of rice as an ingredient and I think it was a really good choice. Goodness knows what I am going to set as the challenge for next month. I will have to get my thinking cap on.

Yesterday lunchtime, I lusted after my friend Louise's Potato & Leek Soup. It smelled so good and my cheese and pickle sandwich couldn't compete. I thought I might make a variation on the traditional recipe as my entry and added some baby spinach and a kick of spice with some ground cumin.

My soup turned out delicious and thick, more like a stew really. If you like a thinner soup, then just add ½ cup of rice and you have the option of adding some milk towards the end.





















Potato, Leek & Spinach Soup with Rice

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 leeks, cut lengthwise then sliced
6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
6 cups/2 ¾ pints vegetable stock (4 cubes)
1 large handful of baby spinach, chopped
1 cup of basmati rice
freshly ground black pepper


to serve

a splash of milk (optional)
a sprinkling of finely chopped chives


Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the leeks and potatoes. I tend to add the vegetables as I chopped them, which means they are gently cooking as I go.

Stir in the cumin.

Add the stock and then the spinach. Next add the rice and stir well.

Bring the soup to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover and leave to cook gently for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally, as the rice may stick a little.

Whizz up the soup, but not completely, you still want to have lots of lovely rice and potato to bite into.

Season with freshly ground black pepper.

The soup is nice with a splosh of cream or milk and sprinkled with chives, although I didn't bother with the milk this time.

This recipe makes a large pot of soup. My large Le Creuset casserole pot was ¾ full. I don't see the point in making a small batch of soup.

16 January 2011

Roast Vegetable Sauce for Pasta



















Roast Vegetable Sauce for Pasta

Vegetables for Roasting

a slosh of olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 punnet baby plum tomatoes
1 aubergine, cut lengthwise, sliced and cubed
1 red pepper, cut into quarters
1 red onion, quartered
½ butternut squash, cubed


Sauce

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
juice of ½ lemon
1 large handful of fresh basil, torn or chopped
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6 and place a roasting tin in the oven, to heat while you chop the vegetables.

Toss the chopped vegetables in a bowl with the olive oil, before pouring into the roasting tin.

Roast for 20-30 minutes until charred and tender.

Whizz the vegetables with the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and lemon juice.

Pour into a pan to warm through then add the basil and season.

You can sieve the sauce, but I didn't bother.

Makes a large bowlful of sauce. I haven't divided it into portions yet, but I would think it would be at least 6-8 portions.

I made this vegetable sauce for Cooper, but Graham and I will be enjoying it tonight too. If you make it for yourself, you might like to add some salt, but it really doesn't need it, it has bags of flavour. This sauce is suitable from 8 months old to adult.

07 January 2011

Learning to Bake

As you will see as you carry on down the page, I had a wee helper in the kitchen today.

Cooper loves watching me cook and bake. I always bring ingredients over to him and let him touch and smell. His favourite thing is to stir.

If I am making a sauce, I will bring him over to the cooker, holding him at a safe distance of course and let him have a go at stirring. He loves it.

I can tell he is taking it all. We bought him a little pan set for his Christmas and as soon as we gave him a spoon he started stirring and tasting. I have a wee chef in the making.

Tomorrow we are having a party for Cooper's first birthday, so as you can imagine I have spent the day cooking and baking. I brought Cooper into the kitchen in his high chair, so he could watch me bake. He was eager to join in, so I let him help me fold the chocolate batter into the whipped egg whites. He was a very happy wee chap.

You can see the chocolate cake we made here. Tomorrow morning I will fill it with cream and top it with blackberries and blueberries.








































05 January 2011

Sin-Free Chocolate Mousse


















It's rich, creamy and ever so chocolatey.

It's low fat and has very little sugar.

It's also very good for you. High in protein, B vitamins, calcium, iron and antioxidants.

Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? It's also gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

What better way to start the New Year in your kitchen than by throwing together this quick and easy dessert. Healthy and delicious!

Where did I find such a sumptuous looking dish you may ask?

Well, you might be surprised to learn, I found this recipe in a baby cookbook. A rather amazing cookbook at that. I found myself drooling all the way through. I would happily sit down to most of the dishes and desserts in this book. It is called the Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Rachael Anne Hill, one of the UK's leading diet, nutrition and fitness experts.

Well, who am I to argue. Her food looks yummy and Cooper has enjoyed everything I have made from it so far. To say that he thought Christmas had come around again when I produced a chocolate dessert for him, is an understatement. I haven't really allowed him more than a fleeting taste of chocolate up to this point. I think I can safely say this is going to be a firm favourite.

I changed the quantities to use up what I had, but the sheer brilliance is all down to Rachael, whom I applaud!



















Sin-Free Chocolate Mousse


349g box silken tofu
2 large ripe bananas
3 heaped teaspoons good quality cocoa powder
1 square 70% dark chocolate


Simply whizz up the tofu, bananas and cocoa. Spoon into a covered dish and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Serve topped with grated chocolate.

6 servings (10 months to adult)

I am entering this mousse into this month's Sugar High Fridays, which is being hosted by Z over at Z's Cup of Tea. This month's challenge is to come up with a dessert that is grain-free.

You can read up on the details of this and lots of other events over at The Food Blog Diary.


Disclosure Statement: I did not receive this book free from the publisher. This was a copy borrowed from the library that I decided to review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

01 January 2011

And we have a winner










Although all the photos sent in for the festive round of No Croutons Required where rather brilliant, we had a clear winner. Snowy Days on the Farm, sent in by Sue over at Our New Life in the Country. Congratualtions Sue, it was a real picture postcard shot of winter.

Sue wins a badge for her blog and also as this is the festive round, she wins a Christmas pressie too.

If you would like to take part in the first No Croutons Required challenge for 2011, then head over to Lisa's Kitchen for details.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! I hope 2011 is a good year for you.

Jac
xx