31 January 2014

Apricot and Mango Milkshake and a Cocktail Disaster


I'm shaking all over!

Yes, it's quite true.

It's freezing here in Scotland, so I am literally shaking, but the shakes I'm talking about are of the milky variety.

I've made smoothies for Cooper since he was a weaning baby, but making milkshakes is a new craze in this house.

Earlier this month I shared my Chocolate and Avocado Super Shake with you and today over at Baby Centre I shared the Top 10 Milkshakes for Babies and Toddlers, although to be fair they are perfect for most adults too.

Today's fresh shake is mango and apricot with a pinch of spice. I used frozen mango chunks and a tin of apricots in juice that I was getting sick of looking at in the cupboard. I think a PR sent them to me when I was trying out a recipe for them and they have sat there glaring at me accusingly ever since.




If you are wondering about the fat lump on that straw, it's a banana pop. Never heard of them? Cooper has a post where he shows you how to make them with step-by-step photos, if you're interested.

print recipe

Mango and Apricot Milkshake
A healthy shake made with simple ingredients and a hint of spice.
Ingredients
  • 400ml milk (or soy milk)
  • 1 x 400g tin apricots in juice
  • 12 chunks frozen mango
  • 1 small banana
  • a pinch of ground ginger
Instructions
1. Slice the banana and pop in a blender or food processor along with the mango chunks. Also add the apricots and the juice they come in.2. Add milk and a pinch of ginger, then whizz until smooth and serve. 3. Enjoy
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6


Now for a more adult drink.

It's my hubby's birthday today and Waitrose kindly sent me some Champagne to celebrate as well as some birthday pieces. I decided to make him a Ginger Mango Champagne Cocktail, but it didn't go to plan.

I whizzed up some fresh mango with apple juice and then I topped it with some ginger beer and some champagne.

It tasted good, but it separated and I just couldn't get the head on the champagne to stay for more than about 10 seconds, so crappy photos and a bit of a disastrous recipe.

Hey ho, we'll just have to drink the rest straight!

If you want to make a rather more successful champagne cocktail, head over to Waitrose where there is a collection of Champagne recipes that won't go wrong. They also have a selection of Champagne recipes for savoury dishes and desserts that would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

Disclosure: Waitrose sent me some Champagne, party accessories and a photo frame for Graham to enjoy on his birthday. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. 

26 January 2014

Triple Chocolate Donuts with Sprinkles


I recently bought a doughnut pan, well actually I bought two.

The first was a mini doughnut pan from Lakeland. My first try of it was a bit disastrous. I had some left over cake mixture and decided to make some mini doughnuts. It was silicone so I thought I wouldn't need to butter it. How wrong was I? So I gave up on that one. I'll go back to it, but next time I'll use some cake release spray.

Silicone. Pah! 

Ha, I've just noticed that although I went for the American spelling of donuts for my chocolatey treats, I'm actually thinking in a very English way as I write this. I'm surprised I didn't go for dough rings.

Anyway, I also bought a full size doughnut pan and decided to give it a try. This time I sprayed the tray with cake release spray. A wise move.

I'd pinned a recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread that looked yummy and I decided to try that. I changed it from cup measures to metric, played about with the quantities and ingredients and voila, the most indulgent chocolate chip doughnuts with a chocolate glaze and sprinkles.


I made these doughnuts vegan so Graham could enjoy them and they were lush, but you could equally replace the flax egg with a large free range egg if you wanted to.

Cooper was hovering about as I made these doughnuts, but I was in a fight against time to have them made before the winter Scottish sun dipped for the day, so I didn't let him help, however I did let him try the first doughnut.

As you can see, it was a messy business, but he really enjoyed them as everyone did who tried them. This is going to be my go-to chocolate doughnut recipe.




print recipe

Triple Chocolate Donuts with Sprinkles
Rich, decadent chocolate chip donuts, glazed with dark chocolate and topped with sprinkles.
Ingredients
  • 220g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 110g dairy free spread, melted and cooled
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g dark chocolate chips
Instructions
1. Mix up your flax eggs. Each flax egg is 1 tbsp of freshly ground flax seeds (linseeds) with 3 tbsp of water. You need two for this recipe. Mix together and pop in the fridge to thicken.2. Preheat the oven to 350f/180c/160c fan/gas mark 4 and spray your donut pan with cake release spray.3. Sieve the dry ingredients together in a bowl and gently mixed together.4. Mash the banana and mix in the melted spread, vanilla extract and flax eggs..5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula, then fold in the chocolate chips.6. Pour some of the mixture into each ring of the donut pan, only filling to just a little less than ¾ full. Bake for 7 or 8 minutes until a skewer comes out mostly clean. Remember that chocolate cake benefits from being slightly under cooked. You will have to do the donuts in three batches unless you have more trays.7. When the donuts have cooled a little slide out of the pan and cool on a rack.8. Once the donuts are cool, melt some dark chocolate and spoon some over each donut, then top with sprinkles.9. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Makes 18 donuts




 



21 January 2014

Smoked Chilli Bean Burgers



I fell in love with Gran Luchito last year when I lurked around their stall at Food Blogger Connect in London. After my first taste, I just had to go back for more and more. It's seriously addictive stuff!  

They use rare Oaxacan (pronounced wa-ha-can) chillies to make chilli paste and to flavour mayo and honey. The thing that struck me was there was so much flavour and not just heat. I was instantly a convert. The mayo is particularly good.  

Burgers always need to be over seasoned and spiced as a lot of flavour is lost when they are cooked, so I decided to use the chilli paste in my burgers to spice things up for Valentines Day. 

I made this first batch with an egg as a binder, but next time I make them I'll use a flax egg so they are vegan friendly for my lovely hubby.

1 Flax Egg = 1 tbsp freshly ground flax seeds (linseeds) and 3 tbsp water mixed, then left in fridge to thicken.
 
For spice I added 2 tsp of chilli paste to my burgers, but you could add even more if you want them extra spicy.

I served my burgers on a bun with salad leaves, sliced baby beets and pink marie sauce (a bit like a rose marie, but pinker). For 2 burgers you need 2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp ketchup and 1 tsp of pickled beetroot vinegar, whisked together and seasoned with black pepper.




print recipe

Smoked Chilli Bean Burgers
Spicy heart shaped bean burgers for Valentines Day.
Ingredients
  • 1 x 400g tin black beans
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 heaped tsp Gran Luchito chilli paste
  • 1 large egg or flax egg
  • a handful of fresh coriander
  • 50g porridge oats
  • a good grinding of black pepper
Instructions
1. Drain and rinse the beans, then pour them into a large bowl and mash with the crushed garlic and chilli paste. Don't over mash, it's nice to have some big pieces of bean in the burgers.2. Beat the egg and fold into the beans.3. Add the oats and coriander, season with black pepper and mix with the beans.4. Shape into patties and chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.5. Fry in a little oil or bake in the oven until well cooked and crisp.6. Serve in a toasted bun with your choice of filling.7. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Makes 4-6 burgers
Notes: Add extra time for chilling




photo: Fuss Free Flavours
Here are a few more recipes to try with Gran Luchito. Note: not all of them are veggie, but I did want to support my fellow bloggers, so please just skip over any that aren't suitable.

Ren Behan - Baked Camembert with Smoked Chilli Honey
Tinned Tomatoes - Cheesey Bean Wraps
Feeding Boys and a Firefighter - Spicy Thai Noodle Soup
Fuss Free Flavours - Chilli Honey Marshmallows
The Botanical Baker - Chilli Honey Baklava
Maison Cupcake - Sarah's Hot Stuff Brownie Love Bites
Dolly Bakes - Hot Chocolate Bundt Cake 


Disclosure: Gran Luchito sent me some product to use in this recipe and reimbursed me for my ingredients and time. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

18 January 2014

Parsnip, Carrot & Lentil Soup for the 5:2 Diet

 

I've not made soup since Christmas.

This might not seem strange to you, but I usually make soup every week, or at least most weeks. I wasn't even in the frame of mind to make soup when I looked in the fridge yesterday to see what was sitting there waiting to be used.

The first thing I saw was the parsnips.

A big bag of them caught my eye in the supermarket, marked down to 70p. I couldn't leave them behind. My plan was to make some Honey Roast Parsnip Crisps, but that never came to pass and they were still sitting in my fridge over a week later. One thing I'll say for parsnip is they keep well.

So soup I decided. What else did I have? Carrots, they would do nicely. Then I thought why not add some red lentils to bulk it out, but it will be a sweet soup, so I'll have to balance it with some spice.

I added both chopped and grated parsnips and carrots to the soup for a nice variation in texture. Try that next time you make soup and let me know what you think.

It was absolutely delicious. Thick, warming Winter soup. Just what we needed yesterday. served with crusty bread spread with butter. Glorious! I'm back in soup making mode at last.

My soup is also a great meal for the 5:2 Diet, at only 175 calories per bowl (divided into 8 portions).
  • Low in saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Low in sodium
  • Very high in dietary fiber
  • High in manganese
  • High in potassium
  • High in thiamin
  • Very high in vitamin A
  • Very high in vitamin B6
  • High in vitamin C



print recipe

Parsnip, Carrot and Lentil Soup
A thick winter soup spiced with cumin and coriander to bring you warmth, comfort and a full tummy on cold winter days.

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 large parsnips, chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, grated
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 3 pints vegetable stock, add more if you think it needs it
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 150g red lentils, rinsed well
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
Instructions

1. In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are soft.  
2. Add the chopped parsnips and carrots and cook gently for a few minutes. 
3. Next add the grated vegetables and the stock and stir well. 
4. Add the spices and red lentils. Stir frequently, so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pan.  
5. Being to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, put the lid back on and cook gently for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the soup is thick. 
6. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.
7. Enjoy!
Details

Total time:


Yield: Serves 6-8




16 January 2014

Savoury Lentil & Bean Stew

 

Stews are a great family meal in the winter. They are comforting, filling and they don't break the bank. These days we all have to be more careful with our money, so it really is something to think about when you're shopping for groceries. 

This stew is made from some basic vegetables and tinned lentils and beans and has the most delicious gravy. Of course you could use dried beans and lentils and this would be even more cost effective, but I'm never organised enough to soak them the night before, so I make sure I have plenty of tinned beans and lentils in my store cupboard. The quality of tinned beans and lentils is really good these days, but like I say, you decide.

The Co-operative Electrical are running a competition asking for Winter Warmers just like this one, so if you are creating your own Winter Warmer on your blog, why not link up for the chance to win £750 worth of electrical goods? One runner up will be offered £250. 


It doesn't have to be a stew, you could make a soup, a pasta dish or even a pudding, it's up to you!  You have until 21 February 2014 to post your dish and enter. You can read the rules here. Good luck if you do enter!



print recipe

Savoury Lentil and Bean Stew
A simple stew that the whole family will enjoy. Serve it with mashed potato and lots of extra vegetables or serve it simply with some crusty bread.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin green lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot
  • 3 tbsp HP brown sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp cornflour, plus a little warm water
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds. Leave them for a couple of minutes until they start making popping sounds, then add the onion, leek, celery and garlic. Saute until soft.2. Add the carrots, pop the lid on and leave to cook gently for 5 minutes.3. Add the mushrooms, kidney beans, lentils and thyme. Cover again and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.4. Add the stock pot to a measuring jug and top up with boiling water to the 400ml mark. Stir well until dissolved and then add to the pan, along with the HP sauce and tomato puree.5. Add a little water to the cornflour, to make a runny paste. Add this to the pot and stir well. This will help to thicken the gravy.6. Cover the pot and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the gravy is thick.7. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6


Here are a few more of my winter warmers for inspiration.


  1. Moroccan Style Potato Bake
  2. Tomato and Aubergine Gnocchi Bake
  3. Spicy Veggie Tacos with Chunky Guacamole
  4. Creamy Rice Pudding with Boozy Berry Compote

I am entering my stew into a few foodie challenges:

1. Feel Good Food -  hosted by A Kick At The Pantry Door
topic = tasty and inexpensive
closes = 28 January 2014

2. Extra Veg hosted by  Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food
topic = ways of adding extra veg
closes = 28 January 2014

3. Four Seasons Food hosted by Eat Your Veg
topic = virtuous food
closes = 29 January 2014

4. In my VEG BOX hosted by Citrus Spice
topic = carrots
closes = 31 January 2014


Disclosure: I was paid to write this post for Co-operative Electrical. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

12 January 2014

New in my Kitchen #11


This is where I like to share with you my new kitchen discoveries. I didn't get a chance to share my new foodie inspiration with you in December, so this will be a double whammy. I hope you enjoy it and do let me know if you have any new products you have discovered and enjoyed. 


1. Higgidy Crustless Spinach, Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche

I've tried Higgidy pies in the past and enjoyed them, but this was my first try of this quiche. I loved the combination of cheese, onions and spinach topped with roasted red pepper and feta. Such great flavours and a really excellent quiche. I'm thinking of trying this flavour combo on pasta as it works so well.

RRP £3.90
Score 9/10 


2. Borderfileds Rapeseed Oil

I use a lot of rapeseed oil for cooking now. Olive oil still has it's place, I prefer it for salad dressings and dipping bread into, but I like to cook with rapeseed oil. It's healthier, lower in calories and has a higher smoking point. Like most rapeseed oils, this one has a nutty almost earthy flavour. A good all rounder.

RRP £3.99 500ml
Score 8/10 



 
3.  M&S Mature Cheddar Cheese & Onion Melting Middle Crispbakes

Mashed potato filled with creamy oozing cheese and chive sauce and topped with a crispy breadcrumb. Mmmmmmm! 

Comfort food at it's best. 

These are great with a salad or vegetables. Cooper and I are going to have one with veggie sausages and peas later this week. It's on my to-do list.

RRP £4
Score 9/10


4. Chocolate Malt Soreen



You all know that sticky, malty loaf by soreen? The one that is great spread with butter. Well, they have a limited edition chocolate malt loaf. It's just as sticky and dense, but with a good chocolately flavour. Get it while it's still around! It's a great store cupboard standby.


RRP ?
Score 7/10






5. The Collective

I've had yoghurt from The Collective before, but I had the chance to try some new flavours when they personally dropped off a cool bag full of yoghurt to me one lunch time.

Now you know that Total is my go-to yoghurt, I use it to bake, make smoothies and plain with fruit, but if it is luxury I am after then The Collective is the best yoghurt around. 

I do get fed up with yoghurt, but this stuff is seriously good. It is really decadent thick creamy yoghurt with little rivers of sauce. The yoghurt isn't too sweet and the sauce is rich and with great flavours.  

The Passion Fruit and the Mango are my ultimate favourites from the range, they are so so fruity! The Lemon is rather lush too. 

The Cherry and Pomegranate is good, but maybe my least favourite. Sweet Jane is rather more gentle on the pallet with a little honey to sweeten it and the Christmas Pud is more of a pudding, with sultanas, orange yest and spices added to the pot. This was of course their Christmas special, but they now have a Raspberry and Amaretto as their limited edition. 

They are always changing their flavours, so there is no chance of getting bored.

I have my eye on their white peach and raspberry. Mmmmmmmmm! 

Go buy some, you really won't regret it and you won't want to share!

RRP £2.39 500g tub
Score 10/10


6. Metcalfe's Skinny Topcorn 

Delivery for Meldrum. Bloomin 'heck, a huge box of popcorn. Thanks Metcalfes! 

I've had some of this popcorn before, but there were new flavours to try. Heat 'n Sweet and Sweet Cinnamon Spice. Heat 'n Sweet has the kick of chilli, but is also sweet and slightly fruity. Sweet Cinnamon Spice is a nice seasonal flavour with the taste of Christmas, but I still love the Sweet and Salt above all others. Unfortunately Graham feels the same way, so I have to fight him for them. 

The popcorn comes in a range of flavours from 108 calories for a big bag of Sea Salt up to the more calorific 230 calories for the Chocolate Crackle.

RRP £1.49
Score 8/10



7. Ginger Juice

I've been using this little bottle of pure ginger juice from dropthejuice quite a lot recently. It's really handy. I drip some into smoothies. Well I do love a gingery kick and I've used it in dal when my fresh ginger has passed it's best. I'm looking forward to this reaching the supermarkets, as at the moment, the postage charge puts off, I'd have to buy a few bottle so I didn't resent the cost, I do highly recommend it other than that.

RRP £4 50ml bottle (£4.15 postage)
Score 9/10 



These pastry cases are great for parties and save so much time. I wish I had time to use them at Christmas. 

I especially like the spoonettes, such a fabulous idea and a real professional look to canapes with little work involved. I'll definitely be looking out for these next time I have a party. I notice you can buy them on Amazon.

RRP Various
Score 8/10 



9. Laurenti Champagne

Oh my this was good Champagne! I have tasted some really expensive champagnes and not liked them at all. This one rolls down rather nicely. Such a wonderful flavour!

It's a blend of Pinot Noir (70%) and Chardonnay (30%) and utterly delicious.  It's also low calorie and low sulphates too, so no hangover. Perfect!! Happy Days! So now you know what to buy for your next special occasion.

RRP £34.99
Score 10/10





10.  Bio Green Lassi

Lassi. Fruity and creamy yoghurt smoothies and Bio Green have it sussed.  Their fruity Mango, Passion Fruit and Lychee Lassi are lush!

So easy to pull from the fridge and enough.
Need I say more?

RRP £1.60
Score 9/10 






11. Fruity Babes 

I love jelly sweeties, but it is often difficult to get good veggie jellies. These luxury jellies from Prestat are enrobed in chocolate. I've never had a jelly covered in chocolate before. It was curious at first, but I did like them. And the great thing.......... one was enough for a sweet treat, so they last for ages!

RRP £16 for 200g
Score 8/10 








Thanks to all the brands for sending me their products to try. 

Have you tried any new products lately? Are there any you would like to recommend?

Disclosure: I was not expected to write a positive review for any of the brands who sent me products to try and any opinions are were my own.  Thanks to food PR agency CLIP Creative and PR for the samples.

09 January 2014

Chocolate and Avocado Super Shake

 

As you know I'm always trying to boost Cooper's fruit and vegetable intake. Sometimes it's just offered on the plate or in his lunch box and sometimes it's just pure sneaky!

I made a league table up to show you my problem. Now make sure you understand that the sometimes eat column as actually rarely eat!

 Cooper's Vegetable and Salad League Table


He has no problem eating chocolate cake!
So you see what I'm up against.

I have to be sneaky to make sure he has enough good stuff in his diet.

This latest milkshake it another of my sneaky recipes. Whole milk, a large ripe avocado, a banana, some Clarks Clear Blossom Honey to sweeten it, some seeds, cocoa powder and some Nutella.

He loved it! Especially when I served him some in a milk bottle with some sprinkles around the top.

It's not low fat or low calorie, but it's healthy and as a little boy who runs about all day, he needs the calories.


You could lower the calories by using skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and only using half the avocado, but it is perfect for a growing lad.






print recipe

Chocolate & Avocado Shake
A healthy shake with an extra boost of vitamins from avocado, banana and flax seeds (linseeds).
Ingredients
  • 600ml whole milk (or soya mik)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, flesh only
  • 1 banana banana
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp Nutella (you can add extra cocoa instead of nutella)
  • 2 tsp runny honey (or agave nectar)
  • 2 tsp flax seeds (linseeds)
  • 1 tsp jam
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles
Instructions
1. Whizz up the milk, avocado, banana, cocoa powder, nutella, honey, flax seeds and a handful of ice cubes until smooth.2. To decorate the glasses or milk bottles, rub or brush jam around the rim of each glass. Pour your sprinkles into a little bowl and dip each jammed glass rim in the sprinkles until coated.3. Pour the smoothie into each glass and serve.4. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6

  


By the way, just in case you are interested, the wee buddies in the photos belong to Cooper. The fox, is called Daniel Dan and the owls are little no-sew sock owls, you can find my sock owl tutorial over at Baby Centre.

Disclosure: Clarks sent me some of their honey to try. I was not required to write a positive post and any opinions expressed are my own.