Thursday, 18 October 2018

Di Oro Seamless Spatulas Review and Discount Code

How often do you replace your cooking utensils? I'm guessing not often enough - things like wooden spoons and spatulas aren't the sort of thing it ever occurs to me to buy and when I need one I grab one from the drawer or utensil jar without really thinking.

But some of mine are pretty old and at least one of my wooden spoons has a split which means it's destined for the bin. So it was good timing that I was sent a set of three seamless spatulas from Di Oro for review and there is one great USP in particular that means I want to recommend them to you!

As the name implies.. they are seamless. My other spatulas have handles and then the actual spatula end as two pieces melded together, so you can see a join - and it never occurred to me before but it would be easy to get food and therefore bacteria into that very fine line.

Di Oro seamless spatulas don't have this as they are moulded from one piece of silicone but also have a reinforced stainless steel core so they are really sturdy, though the end is flexible enough to scrape out your pan or bowl. Of course the silicone is non-stick and BPA free and what's more the large spatula in this set won a 2017 award from America's Test Kitchen. Heat resistant up to 315C you are not going to melt these easily!

There are three spatulas in this set - a large one for mixing and a large one with a straight edge for scraping out pans, and a small one which you can also use in a pan or use to scrape out a jar.
The set of three comes in either red or black and costs £14.95 from Amazon (you can also buy them individually); but you can currently get 15% off with this special discount code for use on Amazon: DIO15OFF  

I'm already making good use of all three spatulas as you can see in this meal below. This is a version of this Santa Fe chicken recipe I made a couple of years ago; as I still can't get hold of Monterey Jack cheese I used a cheddar spiced with chilli from Morrisons which gave it a nice kick, and I made a cheese sauce and topped the chicken with red and green peppers. It was really good and my new Di Oro spatula made stirring the cheese sauce (and not letting it burn) a doddle!


Thanks to Di Oro for the spatulas for review. All opinions are my own.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 42

Breakfast for baby S pancakes
Lunch for baby S cheese, tomato, cucumber, mini rice cakes
Lunch for us: ploughmans
Dinner for us for me - smoked haddock and cauliflower gratin from a magazine cutting (You Jan 2017) , for him something ready made

Breakfast for baby S yogurt and fruit
Lunch for baby S :  some of my haddock gratin from yesterday
Lunch for me: sandwich
Dinner for us fishcake for me, chicken chargrills for him

Wednesday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  pancakes
Lunch for baby S homemade chicken dinner
Lunch for us: beans on toast/ macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner for us Mary Berry's sausage dish, from a magazine cutting (You Jan 2017)

Thursday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  porridge and fruit
Lunch for baby S  homemade Lancashire hot pot
Lunch for us: cheese and tomato puff pastry twist with salad
Dinner for us baked salmon and gnocci from Delicious magazine

Friday - with my parents
Breakfast for baby S  toast
Lunch for baby S  homemade beef casserole
Lunch for us: hot dogs
Dinner for us tacos - either chicken or mince

Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S crumpet
Lunch for us: crumpet pizzas
Dinner for us: takeaway with my mother in law

Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S salmon with pasta and peas
Lunch for us: breakfast burritos I didn't do last week
Dinner for us: pork fillet with cheat's tonnato from Delicious magazine for me, steak for him

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Easy Loaf Tin Carrot Cake

This is a very easy carrot cake using ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard and fridge that takes very little time to throw together. It was really light and moist and absolutely delicious!

I didn’t actually realise it was a loaf cake until I was part way through the recipe but it makes baking and decorating it much easier. I made this while my baby daughter was having a nap, as my mother in law was having friends over the following day and had invited us to drop in and mentioned not having had time to make a cake so I wanted to help (though in the end she made a fantastic coffee cake as well!).

This recipe comes from the Abel and Cole Cookbook, which I bought (I think on a special offer) back in the days when I had a veg box delivered every week. These days it doesn’t seem worthwhile as my husband is very fussy particularly when it comes to veg and we wouldn’t get through even their smallest box, though now we’ve started weaning our daughter maybe it is something to look into again!

Abel and Cole has a similar recipe on their website where they say they spruced up the recipe from their first cookbook, which is the considerably simpler one that I made.

This is what I did:

You need:
185g sugar
180ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour
130g grated carrots
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

for the icing:
175g cream cheese
175g butter at room temperature
225g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C. Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together until well combined, then fold in the flour. Stir in the grated carrots, the baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt and cinnamon.

Grease a loaf tin - I use PME Release A Cake Spray 600 ml - and pour in the cake mix. Bake for 30 minutes, testing with a skewer, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing beat together the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla. Slice the cake through the middle (this wasn't in the original recipe but I decided to do it and loved it) and spread over one half of the cake and sandwich together then use the rest to cover the top of the cake.

 I'm sharing this with Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain and CookBlogShare hosted this time by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 41

Breakfast for baby S porridge with apple
Lunch for baby S  finger food of chicken and veg
Lunch for me: smoked salmon leftover from Sunday with bread and butter
Dinner for us: spaghetti bolognese

Breakfast for baby S toast
Lunch for baby S leftover spaghetti Bolognese
Lunch for me: Also leftover spaghetti Bolognese as I always make too much!
Dinner for us: gammon grills/ cauliflower cheese grills

Breakfast for baby S Farley's rusk
Lunch for baby S  salmon with sweet potato and broccoli
Lunch for me: toasted sandwich or mini pizzas
Dinner for us: salmon with hollandaise sauce for me, sausages for him

Breakfast for baby S yogurt with peach
Lunch for baby S salmon with tomato and possibly baby pasta- S seems to have a mild egg allergy to am waiting to see if I should try pasta or not
Lunch for me: sandwich
Dinner for us: tacos with potato wedges

Breakfast for baby S yogurt with apple
Lunch for baby S houmous and breadsticks and carrot sticks (cooked)
Lunch for me: houmous and bread sticks and carrot sticks (raw)
Dinner for us: burger and chips

Breakfast for baby S porridge with fruit
Lunch for baby S  fingerfood - cucumber, cheese, mini rice cakes
Lunch for us: soup and bread
Dinner for us: for me (and to go in the freezer for baby S) slow cooker Lancashire hotpot, something different TBA for him

Breakfast for baby S toast with peanut butter
Lunch for baby S pouch of coconut chicken and butternut squash curry
Lunch for us: breakfast burritos
Dinner for us: Santa Fe chicken

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Cake and Bake Show 2018 and Bake with a Legend

This week I made bread with one of the finalists from the Great British Bake Off. It's not every day that you can say that!

I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to the Cake and Bake Show for the Friday, and lucky that my husband offered to take a day off work and look after our seven month old baby. I wasn't gone for the whole day but I did miss my little girl, though she was quite happy with daddy!

The show is a mixture of stalls selling everything from cakes and fudge to cake decorating equipment to kitchen knives, with three demonstration stages and a handful of other things to do - for instance one of the cake decorating stalls had a table where you could sit and be shown how to make a simple sugar flower, or you could get your nails done for free by students from a beauty college (the first time in seven months I've worn nail varnish I think!).

Jane Asher demonstrating at the Cake and Bake Show

Paul Jagger demonstration

Bake with a Legend had a stand with none other than Jane Beedle, GBBO 2016 finalist, where you could sign up for a free baking session, so I did. Bake with a Legend allows you to hold an event like a party, hen night or corporate event, where you bake with one of a selection of GBBO participants - or you can sign up to a public session and buy an individual place. It's not cheap - £99 for the public session or £895 for a group of up to 20 in your own home - less than £45 per person if you can get 20 people but I'm not sure how easy that would be, or a group event at £85 per person at one of their locations around the UK for a minimum of 12 people.

It's a great idea as many GBBO fans would love to have a go at baking with their favourite contestant - it's much more than just a meet and greet and doing any sort of baking class usually doesn't come cheap. The company doesn't have any of the actual GBBO winners on their books but there are contestants from different series and whether you were a fan of Howard Middleton or Paul Jagger (who made the amazing lion shaped bread in 2016) you are sure to find someone you like.

At the Cake and Bake Show, I made focaccia with Jane, topped with olives and tomatoes. It was a nice easy recipe - there was even a child taking part who had no trouble with it - but I picked up some useful tips like if your dough is too wet, don't add flour as that changes the ratio of ingredients, but instead add more oil.

Jane was lovely and happy to answer questions about her time on Bake Off, telling us about some of the things she made for her auditions, and that one of her favourite bakes on the show had been Jaffa cakes and the hardest the dampfnudel from one of the technical challenges.

We made the dough and put it in a tin foil tray to take home and bake in the oven. Focaccia only needs a single prove so it did that while I carried it home (it was quite a warm day!) and then I baked the bread later. It was delicious, particularly dipped in a little oil and balsamic vinegar.

I also got to meet Paul from the same series of GBBO who stopped by for a chat.

That was definitely the highlight of my day at the Cake and Bake Show. I realised from looking around the stalls just how much cake decorating equipment I already have! I really must find time to start using it again...

I did buy a few bits and pieces - a set of Lego style moulds that I think I will use for my husband's next birthday cake, some circular cutters (I couldn't remember if I already had any, and they were cheap), a textured mat to roll out icing to make it look like wood, a tiny bow mould and a '40 and fabulous' cake topper which I expect I will get some use out of as I and my school friends all turn 40 next year!

I also had a look at the competition cakes - this is a big part of the Cake and Bake Show. There was a cakes for children section, a wedding cake section, and the main section which had a theme of 'around the world in 80 cakes'. I took a few photos of some of my favourites which you can see below.

If you are interested in cakes and baking and can get to London I recommend the show - I also went to the Cake and Bake Show in 2014 and Cake International in 2012, which were really good as well. A nice day out and of course I couldn't come home without some cake for me and my husband as well!

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 40

Breakfast for baby S just milk as we had to go out
Lunch for baby S cottage pie puree from a jar as I had nothing homemade prepared that wasn't frozen as we were away at the weekend
Lunch for me  pizza
Dinner for me and my husband roast chicken

Breakfast for baby S yogurt with mango puree
Lunch for baby S rest of cottage pie puree with roast chicken and leftover  veg
Lunch for me tinned mackerel in BBQ sauce (not as weird as it sounds - it's John West)
Dinner for me and my husband  curry

Breakfast for baby S yogurt or porridge with mango puree
Lunch for baby S jar of chicken and pumpkin puree with added chicken and pasta
Lunch for me jacket potato
Dinner for me and my husband chicken, bacon and basil pasta from this recipe

Breakfast for baby S yogurt or porridge with mango puree
Lunch for baby S jar of chicken and pumpkin puree with added chicken and veg
Lunch for me toasted sandwich
Dinner for me and my husband cheese and tomato puff pastry twist

Breakfast for baby S Probably just milk - my husband is looking after her while I go to the Cake and Bake Show and I think getting him to fit in two solid meals will be tricky
Lunch for baby S homemade beef casserole
Lunch for my husband Beans on toast
Dinner for me and my husband Something easy from the freezer (ie chips)

Breakfast for baby S Just milk as we are going to an early gym class to make up for one we have to miss on Friday
Lunch for baby S chicken dinner made with leftover roast chicken and veg
Lunch for us  Hot dogs
Afternoon having family over so I will try to make cake of some sort
Dinner for me and my husband rosemary chicken with orange glaze from this recipe

Breakfast for baby S porridge with peach puree
Lunch for baby S scrambled egg and toast
Lunch for us scrambled eggs for him, poached egg and smoked salmon for me
Dinner for me and my husband spaghetti Bolognese/ spaghetti and meatballs

Monday, 24 September 2018

Babyled Spreads - baby food review

If you've been reading my other blog Mini Moo Life you might have read that I started weaning my little girl at the beginning of this month. I’ve been making my own vegetable purees, and then introduced protein, and am about to start making some proper meals for her.

I’ve also tried out a few ready made packets and jars, as these are often more convenient when out and about – for instance we are about to go to my parents’ for the weekend and I don’t want to take a frozen puree for day two as it will defrost in the car on day one which I don’t think is a good idea. Also, there are times when you don’t have time to cook up a new batch of meals or are not sure about trying out new ingredients and don’t want to buy a whole pack of something you are not going to use (particularly if like me and my husband you are fussy eaters but want your baby to try all sorts of things).
I was sent two packs of Babyled Spreads to review, including six jars in total. These are little 34g jars which look pretty small but for my six month old did two meals, and a little does go a long way as you can incorporate them into other recipes or meals.
The consistency is a thick paste, thicker than a lot of the jars of baby food I’d tried from other brands. I’ve was using the traditional weaning method rather than baby-led for the first couple of weeks then moving to a combination of the two. So I fed my daughter a couple of mouthfuls of the spread to see what she thought of the flavour, and also mixed them with other things.
You can also use them as a sandwich filling, a dip, to mix with pasta or as a pizza topping, and many more besides.
It’s a good way for your baby to explore different flavours, as in my relatively limited experience of baby food so far, these have more unusual flavour combinations than other brands.
We tried ricotta and bean; avocado, red pepper and tomato; carrot apple and hummus, and were also sent to try green pea rocket and dill; red lentil and sweet potato, and spicy pumpkin and chickpea, though the latter is only suitable for 12 months and older (the others are all for 6 months+) so we will have to wait a little while for that one.
I mixed the ricotta and bean flavour together with some cooked flaked cod, and mixed the avocado, red pepper and tomato with baby rice. The carrot, apple and hummus would go well as a dip with breadsticks and as my daughter starts to get a bit more confident at putting things in her mouth I’m going to try the spreads on toast.
You can buy Babyled Spreads direct from their website; a pack of nine jars costs £6.50 with free postage, making each jar 72p each –  or 18 jars for £12 making them 67p each, so roughly on a par with other ready made baby food and though these jars are smaller than others, they go a long way as they wouldn’t usually be served as a meal in themselves.
The company even donates money from the sale of every pot to Bliss, the charity for babies born premature or sick.

Even though I haven’t been following the baby-led weaning approach I do want my daughter to learn to feed herself and experiment with pieces of food and I think having these spreads would help liven up things like breadsticks and toast. In the meantime I’ll continue using them mixed in with pasta or protein to create a tasty sauce to introduce my daughter to new flavours and textures.
Thanks to Babyled Spreads for the product to review.

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 39

The chicken fajita puff I made last week was amazing - look out for it on the blog soon. I changed a few of last week's meals - on Saturday I was going to do chicken with leeks in the slow cooker but forgot and used all the leek already in my leek and potato soup!

Baby S breakfast - porridge with peach
Lunch - me- mackerel in korma sauce on toast
Baby S- butternut squash chips from yesterday plus pouch of Heinz food I was sent to review
Dinner- gammon grillsteak for him I didn't do last week with homemade lasagne for me

Baby S breakfast - porridge with apple
Lunch - me- jacket potato with tuna
Baby S- rest of Heinz pouch with pieces of fruit to follow
Dinner- macaroni cheese with sausages I didn't do last week

Baby S breakfast - porridge with apple
Lunch - me- leftover macaroni cheese
Baby S- Cow and Gate pumpkin and chicken puree mixed with pieces of butternut squash and chicken
Dinner- chicken kebabs with potato wedges

Baby S breakfast - yogurt with banana
Lunch - me- pizza
Baby S- Cow and Gate pumpkin and chicken puree mixed with pieces of butternut squash and chicken
Dinner- burger and chips

Baby S breakfast - yogurt with banana
Lunch - me- ready made pasta salad
Baby S-  Cow and Gate beef casserole with added beef
Dinner- chicken traybake with packet sauce with mashed potato

Baby S breakfast - porridge with apple
Lunch - us- bacon/ sausage sandwich
Baby S- Cow and Gate beef casserole with added beef
Dinner- with my parents

Baby S breakfast -  porridge with apple
Lunch - with my parents
Baby S- Cow and Gate cottage pie
Dinner- something easy like frozen pizza

Monday, 17 September 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 38

I forgot to use the pomegranate seeds I bought for my lamb and quinoa dish last week so have to think of some other way to use them this week! Lamb does seem to be what they go with best

Lunch - quiche
For baby S - Heinz pumpkin with chicken puree
Dinner - lamb with pomegranate cous cous for me,

Lunch- rest of quiche with pomegranate cous cous
For baby S - homemade carrot puree with cod
Dinner - Fajita chicken puff from this recipe I was going to make last week but didn't

Lunch- leek and potato soup
For baby S - Babyled spread I was sent to try out
Dinner - gammon grillsteak and chips for him, cauliflower cheese grills with butternut squash chips for me

Lunch- leek and potato soup
For baby S - carrot puree with cod
Dinner - chicken parmigiana with croquette potatoes

Lunch- mini pizzas
For baby S - Green pea Babyled spread I was sent to try out mixed with baby rice
Dinner - macaroni cheese with sausages

Lunch- prawn pancake for me as my husband is at work
For baby S- breakfast: yogurt. Lunch - Babyled puree I was sent to try
Dinner - steak and chips

Lunch - scrambled eggs on toast for him, poached egg and smoked salmon for me
For baby S -breakfast: baby porridge with banana. Lunch: scrambled egg
Dinner - sticky BBQ chicken from packet sauce mix with butternut squash chips for me and croquettes for him. Will save a couple of butternut squash pieces for baby S tomorrow.

You're a Treasure Pirate Card for Kids

I have a confession to make about this card - I made it for a friend’s little boy who was turning three, and forgot to send it!

My husband and I were ill for nearly a whole week, luckily the days when we were most sick didn’t overlap so we were able to take it in turns to look after our baby with a bit of help from my mother-in-law as well (who then got sick after she had been to see us!). Luckily baby S didn’t get ill at all which was a huge relief!
That whole week passed in a blur and it was only some time later I realised I had missed the birthday and not sent the card. Sorry Alex!

I’ve decided to share it now as I think this is a really cute theme for children that works for both girls and boys. I bought a set of clear stamps from eBay (which didn’t have a brand - look up ‘pirate clear stamps’ on eBay and you will find them).

I had some sea themed backing paper that I hadn’t really used before as it was a tricky design - not a patterned paper as such but most of it was plain blue or similar with a detailed design in one corner. I found it hard to know what I could add to the card to complement it without covering up the design but also without the backing paper stealing the show - but these pirate stamps were perfect.

I stamped the boy pirate onto white card and coloured him in with Promarkers and did the same with the treasure chest and boat, and stamped the words ‘you’re a treasure’ directly onto the card, which I then went over with a black Promarker.

I'm sharing this with:
Outlawz Challenge Songs and Rhymes - Row, row, row your boat
Sheepski Designs - For the kidz
Cardz 4 Guyz - All at sea

Monday, 10 September 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 37

Our first week of weaning has gone really well so far, though it has been quite messy! At the time of writing baby S has enjoyed carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli and avocado. She's moving on to banana tomorrow which neither my husband nor I like, but apparently most babies love it!

My husband took a few days off last week which was a bit last minute so I ended up changing the menu slightly, so some of the things I meant to make last week but didn't will be repeated this week.

Monday - my husband is off too
Lunch- out
For baby S - avocado
Dinner - spiced lamb and herby quinoa crumble from this recipe for me, chicken chargrills for him 

Tuesday - my husband is off again
Lunch- bacon sandwich or pancakes I was going to do last week but didn't (though may not have time as we have to go out at 2)
For baby S - sweet potato with broccoli puree
Dinner - pasta with prawns and chorizo for me, meatballs for him

Lunch- jacket potato
For baby S - baby rice with strawberry puree
Dinner- beef pot roast I was going to do last week but didn't

Lunch- sandwich
For baby S - baby rice with strawberry puree
Dinner - beef curry with leftover beef

Lunch- sandwich or pasta
For baby S - sweet potato and broccoli puree
Dinner -  gammon grill steaks and chips for him, homemade lasagne from the freezer for me

Lunch- mini pizzas with mozzarella sticks
For baby S - baby rice and banana puree
Dinner - My husband wants to use the barbecue one last time before we put it away so hopefully the weather will be ok

Lunch-cauliflower cheese crispy grills for me, cheese omelette for him
For baby S  - cauliflower cheese puree from Heinz - want to see what she thinks of one from a jar in case we need to take one when out and about
Dinner - Fajita chicken puff from this recipe

Monday, 3 September 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 36

This week's meal plan is partly using up stuff in the freezer so I can make room for purees and partly inspired by Annabel Karmel ! Baby S had her first taste of solids - pureed carrot - yesterday and seemed quite intrigued though not a huge fan! Going to repeat the same thing today and try some other purees this week.

Lunch for me - leftover pasta from Sunday
Lunch for baby S - carrot purée
Dinner - cheese and ham chicken Kievs for him, lamb kebabs for me (using up barbecue food from the freezer as I don’t think we are going to barbecue again this year!)

Lunch for me
- mackerel in mustard sauce on toast
Lunch for baby S - sweet potato and butternut squash purée
Dinner - chicken in orange and balsamic vinegar sauce based on this recipe 

Lunch for me - won’t have much time so will have a sandwich
Lunch for baby S - will do her a brunch or mid afternoon snack as we have to leave at 12.15 for a baby sign class - sweet potato and broccoli purée
Dinner - vet appointment so need a quick and easy dinner so will do something ready made from the freezer

Thursday - my husband has a day off
Lunch  - bacon sandwich
Lunch for baby S - sweet potato and butternut squash purée
Dinner - mini toad in the holes

Friday -my husband has a day off
Lunch for me - either fresh rolls from the bakery or ham and cheese toasties
Lunch for baby S - carrot purée
Dinner -chicken chargrills for him, for me spiced lamb and herby quinoa crumble from this recipe 

Lunch for us
- sausage rolls
Lunch for baby S - mashed banana
Dinner - steak and chips

Lunch for us
- pancakes - cheese for him, prawn for me
Lunch for baby S - sweet potato and broccoli purée
Dinner - beef pot roast from this recipe

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Vegan Chocolate Baby Shower Cake

One of my friends has just had her second baby, another boy, the day before her own birthday. We - my group of school friends - all went to see her a couple of weeks ago for a combined birthday and baby shower celebration.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go until the last minute as we already had two other things on that weekend - a relative visiting and my father in law’s birthday - but we were able to arrange things so that we were able to go.

Making cakes for celebrations when we get together is usually my thing so I couldn’t turn up empty handed, but I didn’t have the confidence I would have enough time in between taking care of my five month old to make anything really elaborate so I decided to keep it simple.

One of my friends is vegan and I remembered seeing a recipe for a vegan chocolate cake in Tea with Bea, the recipe book from the Bea's of Bloomsbury café.

I'm also publishing this recipe on my new parenting blog, Mini Moo Life - if you're interested in all things baby, parenting and family related, hop on over and have a look! Or follow the blog on Twitter @MiniMoo_Life or Instagram @mini_moo_life.

I used white wine vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar given in the recipe as I had a bottle in the cupboard already (and white wine vinegar is often used in vegan baking so I knew it would be ok). I made a simple vegan buttercream from Pure dairy-free spread, icing sugar and cocoa powder.

The guideline cooking time was given as 40-55 minutes with an extra 5-10 minutes if necessary, which is quite a large range. I found the cake needed the full 65 minutes, in fact I think I left it in even for slightly longer and it was still really light and moist.

I bought a gold cake pick with the word 'baby' from my local party store to go in the top and sprinkled the top with edible gold lustre dust. The cake tasted really good - if you are new to vegan baking and need reassuring, this cake tastes even better than a lot of non-vegan chocolate cakes!

Here's what I did
To make one 8 or 9 inch cake you need:

275g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
450ml soya milk
2 tsp red wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
320g caster sugar
320ml sunflower oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the buttercream
200g vegan spread eg Pure
400g icing sugar

Here's what I did

Preheat oven to 160C. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb of soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix the soya milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla, whisking until combined.

Fold into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Grease an 8 or 9 inch cake tin and spoon in the prepared mixture and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (I've increased the cooking time slightly from the original recipe). Test the middle with a skewer and bake for another 5-10 minutes if needed.

Allow to cool in the tin then turn out onto a baking rack.

When cool, make the buttercream - cream together the marg and icing sugar. Carefully slice the cake through the middle and spread with the buttercream.

You can spread buttercream over the top and around the sides as well if you wish; I left mine plain and decorated the top with edible gold lustre powder.

I'm sharing this with the final We Should Cocoa linkup over at Tin and Thyme and also with CookBlogShare over at Easy Peasy Foodie.

9 Summer Chocolate Recipes for We Should Cocoa #WeShouldCocoa #chocolate #recipesCook Blog Share Linky

Monday, 27 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 35

Last week was pretty rubbish as my husband has been not feeling well for several days so I didn't make most of the meals I'd planned, or either of the desserts as we didn't go to the party. It's meant I have lots of random ingredients in the fridge to freeze or use up!

This weekend should be quite exciting though as my little girl turns six months and we are going to begin weaning. I've decided to do a mixture of puree and baby led weaning (where you give them pieces of food to pick up and eat as they wish) but starting with purees. I've got a couple of Annabel Karmel books which recommend starting with just a couple of spoonfuls of carrot puree once a day around lunchtime, and progressing from there. I've been making purees and putting them in the freezer so will make a list of what I plan to give baby S each day so I don't forget!

Monday - bank holiday
Lunch - crumpets
Dinner - chicken and bacon pie (ready made) with mashed potato and veg

rest of pie which I think will last two days, with chips

meatballs and pasta with homemade basil pesto

chicken curry

Tacos - either chicken or fish with potato wedges

Lunch fresh pasta with garlic bread
Dinner sausage casserole

Lunch bacon sandwich for us; and carrot puree for baby S
Dinner Spanish style chicken bake, based on this recipe

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Music and Drumkit Birthday Card

I made this card for a relative who is a musician; it can be hard to make cards for men that aren't just fairly generic so if a guy I know has a particular hobby (or in this case, it's his profession) I try to theme cards accordingly.

The main elements of this card come from a set of die cuts I bought that you press out from a sheet, I'm afraid I can't remember the brand! The musical notes and stave across the top come from a sheet of outline stickers (I think they are Anita's) and the backing paper is actually from a 6x6 paper pack with an Oriental theme - I thought this one would work with the reds in the drum kit and happy birthday square.

I'm sharing this with:
Allsorts challenge - music
Dream Factory (Die Traumfabrik) - Save the last dance
Jo's Scrap Shack - anything goes
Crazy 4 Challenges - masculine

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Peach Melba Cheesecake for a summer party

Cheesecake seems to be my default dessert in the summer as it's light and creamy, and you can add all sorts of flavours - my husband prefers chocolate desserts but I don't want to cook with chocolate that much when the weather is hot!

Last weekend we went to his aunt and uncle's house for a family party and I was asked if I could make a dessert. Cheesecake is usually popular and easy to make, so I chose a peach melba cheesecake recipe from a book called Cheesecake by Hannah Miles.

I was buying the ingredients several days in advance and have found fresh raspberries go mouldy very quickly before, so decided to use tinned; I also had tinned peaches in the cupboard so decided to use those instead of fresh. Finally I decided not to make the glaze to go on top - so here's what I did.

for the base
300g malted milk biscuits
150g butter, melted
300g tin of raspberries in syrup, drained - reserve a few for the decoration

for the filling
4 sheets leaf gelatine
410g tin of peach slices in juice or syrup, drained
100g caster sugar
200g cream cheese
250g ricotta
150ml double cream

for the topping
half a 410g tin of peach slices in juice or syrup, drained
a few raspberries to decorate

I didn't make the glaze to go on the top partly due to lack of time but partly as I didn't think I fancied it - it looked like a thin layer of jelly essentially. If you want to find out how to do that part have a look at the book.

Crush the biscuits in a blender in a few batches.

Melt the butter in a small pan or in a microwave-proof bowl in the microwave and stir in the biscuits.

Press into the bottom of a loose-bottomed cake or tart tin, pressing some of the biscuit up the sides to form a crust. Spread the raspberries over the biscuit base.

Soften the gelatine leaves in a bowl of water for 5 minutes or according to pack instructions.

Meanwhile puree the peaches in a food processor and set aside.

Mix the sugar, cream cheese and ricotta in a large bowl until creamy.

Heat the cream in a small pan until it is just warm. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves and stir into the cream, mixing until all the gelatine has dissolved. Whisk into the cheese mixture in the bowl and then fold in the peach puree.

Pour onto the prepared base and leave overnight in the fridge to set.

Just before you want to serve, decorate the top of the cheesecake with the peach slices and reserved raspberries.

This cheesecake was really light and creamy, with a nice flavour from the peaches and a burst of raspberry on the base. It disappeared quite quickly at our family lunch!

I'm sending this to Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain
 and  CookBlogShare hosted by Glutarama

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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 34

The mini moo (baby S) and I had a nice few days last week with my parents visiting though my mum was ill on their last day which put paid to our plans to going out for lunch and a date night with my husband in the evening.

chicken tacos with leftover chicken from the roast I did at the weekend

marinaded tuna steak from this recipe for me, sausage and chips for him

meatballs and pasta with homemade basil pesto

chicken and bacon pie and mashed potato

Spanish style chicken bake, based on this recipe

Lunch/Dinner - BBQ with family. I need to take a dessert so plan to make a white chocolate and strawberry marquise

Lunch - fresh pasta we didn't have last week
Dinner - sausage casserole with mashed potato
Dessert - chocolate cheesecake trifle based on this recipe (but without the Baileys)

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Storecupboard Apple Sauce and Cinnamon Cake

This cake is made from ingredients you probably already have at home - or you might only need to buy one extra ingredient - so is great for those last-minute 'I need to make a cake' moments. It's also incredibly moist and really tasty so I think this is something I will be making again!

I made this cake when my parents came to visit - we'd had a busy weekend and I hadn't really thought about what food we would eat until two days before, so quickly did an online shop. I thought it would be nice to have some cake while they were here but hadn't thought about it in time to add anything to my shopping list, so decided to find a recipe using what I had in the house.

I have a recipe book I love called United Cakes of America, which has a different cake or pie representing every state, which I haven't used for a little while. It has a recipe from West Virginia for apple butter cake which I decided to adapt.

Apple butter is like apple sauce but creamier and more concentrated in flavour and more like a spread. I didn't have any and while you can get it in the UK, it's not something you can just pick up in Tesco. I did have a jar of apple sauce in the fridge so decided to use that, and the cake turned out really well. I also added more cinnamon to the mixture as the recipe only called for a quarter of a teaspoon which I didn't think was very much.

The filling for this cake also looked very elaborate - a buttercream that involved using milk, flour and sugar, heated in a pan -I usually just mix butter and icing sugar! I didn't have a lot of time so decided to make my usual easy buttercream but flavoured with cinnamon, as in the recipe, but also add a splash of apple juice.

The top of this cake would look nice decorated with sliced apple but again as I was only using storecupboard ingredients I didn't have any. Here's what I did - I'm calling this an original recipe as it was so far removed from the one in the book!

This makes a pretty deep 8 inch cake.

140g butter or margarine, softened
425g caster sugar
3 eggs
340g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
60ml milk
270g jar apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

for the buttercream:
400g icing sugar, sifted
200g butter or margarine, softened
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. apple juice

Preheat oven to 180C and grease two 8-inch or 9-inch cake tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold in the flour, along with the salt and cinnamon.

Carefully fold in the milk, and then the apple sauce and vanilla flavouring until the mixture is well combined.

Spoon into the two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pans, then turn onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

To make the buttercream, cream together the butter and icing sugar with the cinnamon and apple juice.

When the cakes are cool, spread the filling in between the two layers and also on the top if you like (you will need to increase the quantity if you also want to ice the top and sides of the cake).

This cake kept beautifully moist for a few days and I really enjoyed it - you can taste both the cinnamon and the apple.

I'm sending this to Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain
Love Cake at Jibber Jabber UK
CookBlogShare hosted by the Peachicks Bakery

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