Frothy Babyccino

I recently had the most gorgeous pizza from Pizza Express in Edinburgh. Goats cheese, mozzarella, spinach, red & caramelised onions and garlic oil. It was heavenly, but this post isn't about my pizza, although I urge you to try it if you happen to have a meal there.

What I wanted to talk about was Cooper's meal.

He started with baked dough balls with garlic butter and quite a large side salad with lots of cucumber and tomato. He loves cucumber and dough balls, so he was a happy wee boy.

Then he had a Margherita pizza with sweetcorn. I known not everyone's first or even last choice of pizza toppings, but it was his choice and he really enjoyed it. In fact, he scoffed the lot!

For dessert he picked chocolate fudge cake, also demolished rather quickly.

Then comes the lovely part, each child gets what they call a Bambinoccino. A frothed milk drink in the cutest cappuccino cup topped with a sprinkling of chocolate powder. He was soooooooo happy!

I loved the cup so much, I asked if I could buy one from them, but they kindly gave me one, so I decided to christen it with my own version of a Bambinoccino.

Mine has a pinch of cinnamon and ginger and is topped of with a sprinkling of freshly grated cinnamon and cocoa powder. Three cups later and he was satisfied.

This one is perfect for adults too, especially if you're wanting to avoid caffeine before bed.

Look at Cooper's pinky. I swear, he's trying to be posh!

ps the photo is minus cocoa powder. I started to take photos before I remember to add it and Cooper was waiting so patiently I couldn't bare to make him wait any longer.

print recipe

A warm frothy drink, flavoured with a little ginger and cinnamon and topped with cocoa powder and fresh cinnamon. Best served in a cappuccino cup.
  • 50ml milk (or coconut milk)
  • a small pinch of ground ginger
  • a small pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder
  • a grinding of fresh cinnamon (optional)
1. Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave or in a small pan.2. Add a small pinch of cinnamon and ginger to the warm milk, along with the sugar and stir in.3. Froth the milk with a whisk or electric hand blender.4. Pour into your cappuccino cup and finish with a sprinkle of fresh cinnamon and cocoa powder.5. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 1, plus a top up

Disclosure: I was not approached by Pizza Express and this is not a sponsored post. They were merely kind enough to offer me a cappuccino cup set, so I decided to share my visit with you.

NCR - Seasonal Soups and Salads Roundup

For this month's No Croutons Required, I asked for seasonal soups and salads.

Some of my NCR brigade are in the midst of Winter just now, yes this is quite an international challenge, so don't be too bemused about some of the seasonal produce.

Please take the time to vote for your favourite using the poll in the sidebar.

Look out for the winner at the end of the month.

Now lets have a look at the entries.

Chef: Elizabeth
Location: Shetland, UK

Elizabeth made her salad with kohlrabi, a strange looking vegetable, which I've never used in a dish or eaten.

It's a really fresh and zingy looking salad with the apple and lime juice. I'm very tempted to try it, if I can find some kohlrabi.

2. Strawberry Tangy Minty Punch Salad

Chef: Kavitha
Location: UK

Kavitha has made us a fruit salad with the best of the summer's crop, strawberries.

She made this salad the wonderful combination of strawberries, mango and mint. I haven't had a fruit salad for ages and this one sounds great. I'm imagining it with cream, then I am imagining it whizzed up as a smoothie. Mmmmmm!

3. Cabbage and Beetroot Soup

Chef: Laura
Location: England, UK

What a beautiful soup, don't you agree and I love it all the more as it has beetroot, which I am a big fan of.

Laura picked her own beetroot at a farm after a wonderful day out at National Trust properties, then teamed it with cabbage to make this fabulous soup.

4. Pea and Courgette Soup

Chef: Fiona
Location: London, UK

Fiona made this wonderful soup for her 5:2 diet. It's only 92 calories and looks utterly delicious. It's only 9am as I type this, but I still want to tuck into a bowlful right away.

5. Acquacotta (a Tuscan soup)

Chef: Vicki
Location: Lake District, UK

I have to share Vicki's description as it had me drooling and I'm sure it will do the same to you.

"As your spoon slips in to the yolk, that silky golden goodness spills down in to the soup adding a richness that I couldn’t dream up. Of course you could serve the soup without it, but you’d be missing out terribly.

The ciabatta it sits on begins to soak up the deep savoury flavour of the soup, led by the porcini mushrooms. It breaks apart under the spoon, adding it’s robust texture to the mix.".

Oh my!!!

6. French Lentil and Roasted Sweet Corn Summer Salad

Chef: Lisa
Location: London, Ontario, Canada

I love this fresh salad from my co-host and good friend Lisa. The flavours are spot on, although I would skip the olives!

French lentils, tomatoes, sweet corn, fresh herbs, olives and Feta cheese in a zesty lime and cayenne dressing. I especially like the addition of sweet nibbly bits of sweetcorn.

7. Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Chef: Janet
Location: Toronto, Canada

Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes Janet. Peaches, green salad and hemp seeds. Sounds good already right? Then add the dressing and it is even more amazing. Janet whipped up a dressing of hummus, balsamic vinegar and mustard. now that is inspired!

7. Tahini-Dressed Zucchini and Green Bean Salad

Chef: Brittany
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

I've never wanted to eat salads and soups for breakfast so much first thing in the morning before. Goodness knows what I will end up making for breakfast once I finish this roundup.

Brittany was inspired to make this River Cottage Veg salad to make the most of some seasonal tomatoes and zucchini (courgette). She teamed them with green beans and lovingly dressed her salad with a tahini dressing.

8. Griddled Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad

Chef: Jacqueline
Location: Scotland, UK

I didn't get around to making a soup or salad for the challenge this month, so I am pulling one from my archives. 

This griddled warm salad makes the most of the seasons peppers, courgette and aubergine. Served with a basil dressing. Mmmmmm!

8. Burwash Rose Cheese Salad with Pomegranate, Peach and Chilli

Chef: ?
Location: South East England, UK

I was intrigued by the cheese in this salad. 

"Burwash Rose cheese is a semi soft cheese inspired by traditional Trappist cheese making methods, and named after the village Burwash in East Sussex. Burwash Rose is washed in rose water for the first two weeks of its affinage (maturing process) which produces a wonderful floral quality on the rind."

Teamed with red onion, basil, peaches and pomegranate, it sounds superb!

9. Summer Soup with Herbs

Chef: Janice
Location: South West Scotland, UK

Janice created a lovely summer soup using up what she had in her fridge. In my experience you come up with some of the best dishes this way and this looks like a beauty.

Celery, courgette, carrots, tomatoes, orzo pasta and tomatoes. Slurp!

10. Sweetcorn, Chickpea and Pepper Couscous Salad with Harissa Oil

Chef: Shaheen
Location: South West Scotland, UK

What a colourful dish. Don't you just want to dive in? I do!

Couscous, red and yellow baby peppers, sweetcorn, chickpeas and coriander with a spicy harissa dressing. How wonderful!

Well that's the roundup. We had a couple that had to be left out. One wasn't veggie and another was a second submission, but as this challenge is veggie and there is only one entry per blog, I had to skip them. I think you will still agree it was a sensational roundup with lots of mouthwatering dishes. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Please take the time to vote for you favourite. The winner will be announced at the end of the month.


Cupcake Creative

Raspberry Lemon Swirl Cupcakes

photo: Supergolden Bakes

You may know I was judging a cupcake competition for The competition called for the finest cupcakes known to man.

photo: Supergolden Bakes
There were loads of entries and it was a hard job for myself and my fellow judges, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and Lis from Food Stuff Finds to choose a winner.

We poured over all the entries and back through them again. We narrowed it down to a top 3 each and then we discussed why we selected each of our three. The winner was easy, as it was a favourite with all of us.

The winner is Lucy over at Supergolden Bakes who made Raspberry Lemon Swirl Cupcakes.

photo: Cakeyboi
The cutest cupcakes with a heart through the middle. Raspberry buttercream and lemon glaze. How could we resist. Oh and don't forget the sprinkles! Her daughter was very clear on that fact there had to be sprinkles!

The staff at rangecookers particularly liked Stuart at Cakeyboi's Salted Fluffer Cupcake Cones and he was in my top 3 too.

photo: Cakeyboi
Not because he is a good friend, but because his cupcakes made me drool.

I think that is an important test with any cupcake. does it make you drool?

We would like to pass on a highly commended to a few other cupcakes that really stood out. We don't have a prize to pass along to these blogs, but we thought we would share the love.

Photo: what me and the boys say
Another of my absolute favourites.

Neapolitan '99' Ice-Cream Cupcakes

These beauties also made me drool. They were thought up by Kate over at What me and the boys say.

Kate announced she was making cupcakes. her husband wanted vanilla, one of her boys wanted chocolate and the other wanted strawberry, so to be the peacekeeper, she made all three swirled into one cupcake, then topped with whippy style buttercream, strawberry sauce and a flake.

The cupcakes were marvellous in themselves, but I just loved all the photos of her family getting involved in the cupcake making and eating. They look like one fun family!

photo: Wallflower Girl
Also on our highly commended list were these cute cupcakes from Aimee over at Wallflower Girl.

Amiee made us Rainbow Marshmallow Cupcakes. They look pretty good don't they? Any child would be super-excited by these little fairytale cakes, but wait, just wait!

Peel back the wrapper and the cupcake is all the colours of the rainbow. They are amazing!!!

Marshmallow frosting. Mmmmmmm!

While I was over there I got distracted by some Lego Biscuits that I have to make for Cooper!

photo: Country Heart and Home
Next up are these Peanut Butter and Jam Cupcakes from Debbie over at Country Heart and Home.

Vanilla cupcakes with a hint of peanut butter. Drippy jam ooozing out of the centre of each cake and peanut butter icing.

Oh how I love a cupcake with an oozing, soft centre. it really elevates them to something special.

photo: My Golden Pear
Last, but certainly not least is this sensational Chocolate & Raspberry Cream Cupcakes.

These beauties were dreamed up by Angela over at My Golden Pear.

A wedding organised in a rush. In a day in fact. And these were the wedding cupcakes.

A wedding organised in a day! I hear you exclaim.

It was actually the wedding of two stuffed bears that belong to Angela's son.

What a mum, to create these for her little ones imaginary game. She deserves a prize just for being a great mum!

Moist chocolate cupcakes in edible chocolate cupcake cases, decorated with cream and raspberries.

I hope you drooled over these cupcakes as much as I did.

See this is an opportunity not only to drool over cupcakes, but to meet some lovely new bloggers and there blogs. So quick go visit them and say hi.

Thanks to everyone who entered!


Birthday Blondies with Sprinkles

Yes, these blondies have sprinkles. They also have half the sweetie shop, so they're definitely just for birthdays or a special treat.

In case you don't know, blondies are just like brownies, but brownies are chocolate flavoured and blondies are vanilla  flavoured. They are both a heavenly slice of fudgey goodness.

While we are on the subject of vanilla, I would like to recommend you only use vanilla extract and not vanilla essence. The essence is artificial and tastes it. You'll only get a good flavour from vanilla extract. I only buy Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract from Nielsen Massey. You can buy it in most supermarkets now. It might seem a little pricey, but it lasts a while and has a fabulous flavour.

Now back to the blondies. I made these for a birthday. They were for Cooper's childminder, Lorraine. She's fabulous! So patient and loving to Cooper and she makes life much easier for us.

Cooper loves her to bits and really doesn't want to leave when we pick him up after work. When he won't budge we say, "Well we're going home, shall we leave you here?" and Cooper says "Yes!". So we've stopped using that as a technique.

Lorraine is beautifully slender, but she works hard at it and is careful what she eats, so I decided for her birthday, it had too be something heavily laden with sugar. Something she wouldn't normally indulge in.

Bring on the birthday blondies or as I like to call them sweetie shop blondies!
  • 3 packets of Smarties
  • 1 packet Peanut M&Ms
  • 1 packet Chocolate Buttons
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Sprinkles
 See what I mean?

They are sweet, fudgey and glorious!

Happy Birthday Lorraine!!

print recipe

Sweetie Shop Blondies

Light, fudgey blondies, filled with lots of candy and sprinkles. Perfect for a birthday treat.
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g crunchy peanut butter
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 x 40g tubes smarties
  • 45g bag peanut M&Ms
  • 33g bag Cadburys Buttons
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 50g sprinkles
1. Preheat the oven to 170c/150c fan/325f/Gas Mark 3.2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.3. 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.4. Fold the flour mix in, then fold in all the sweeties and most of the sprinkles. Leave plenty to sprinkle on top. 5. Pour the mixture into a lined square brownie pan and smooth out. Then dust with the rest of the sprinkles.6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until almost firm in the middle and golden.7. Allow to cool in the tin, then cut into 16 squares.8. Enjoy!9. Try not to think about the calories!
Total time:
Yield: Makes 16 squares

Disclosure: Nielsen-Massey sent me some vanilla extract to use in my baking. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. I have been buying this brand for as long as I have been blogging and it is the only brand of vanilla extract I ever buy.

BBQ Apricots with Goats Cheese

BBQ Apricots with Goats Cheese 

As much as I enjoy veggie burgers on a BBQ,  I almost love the side dishes more. I like the buffet feel of a BBQ. Tucking into a little bit of this and a little bit of that while chatting to family and friends.

I love vegetable kebabs with halloumi and charred burgers on a toasted bun with mustard, salad and relish.

Glowing coals on a BBQ

I love pasta saladpotato salad and a green salad with dressing.

Dessert is usually BBQ bananas or peaches cooked on the barbie with brown sugar and served with cream.

You don't even have to wrap the bananas in foil, just throw them on the BBQ in their skins. When they have blackened, take then off, slit them open and add a generous sprinkle of brown sugar, which will melt into a caramel sauce when you add cream.

BBQ Apricots with Goats Cheese

I usually reserve fruit for dessert, but this time I cooked some apricots, with cheese, black pepper and coriander, then finished them off with a balsamic glaze.

They were excellent. The sweet juicy apricots, still hot, teamed with the tangy saltiness of the melted cheese, spicy black pepper and fragrant fresh coriander. Finished with a sticky sweet balsamic glaze. Mmmmmm!

I've also tried them with mozzarella and that works well too. If you aren't having a BBQ, then just wrap these beauties in tinfoil and bake them in the oven.

print recipe
BBQ Apricots with Goats Cheese

BBQ Apricots with Goats Cheese
A simple dish that can be cooked on the BBQ or in the oven.
  • 8 apricots
  • 150g goats cheese or mozzarella
  • a handful of fresh coriander
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • a drizzle of balsamic glaze
1. Cut the apricots in half and remove the stone. 2. Place the apricot halves, cut side up on a generous sheet of tinfoil. I do 4 or 5 halves in each foil packet. Sprinkle some coriander in each dip, then top with cheese. Grind some pepper over the apricots, then close the foil up, into a parcel.3. Pop your parcel on the BBQ. The time it takes to cook will depend on how hot the coals are, but they should be cooked in about 5-10 minutes. If you are baking them in the oven or under the grill, they could be more towards the 10 minute mark.4. Open up your parcels. If the apricots are cooked and the cheese has melted, they are ready. Serve with a green salad and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.5. Enjoy
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4

Parsnip and Pine Nut Soya Veggie Burgers

Also check out Dom's latest veggie burger over at Belleau Kitchen.

First Dom made his own burger buns, then he made the most droolworthy Parsnip and Pine Nut Soya Veggie Burgers.

Don't they look divine?

Happy Grilling!

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