Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Laura Ashley birthday card

Another quick birthday card post as I haven't done any baking this week. This is a simple and classic design I made using a decoupage kit I picked up in the sale in Laura Ashley. I've seen Laura Ashley-branded card making supplies on the internet which did strike me as a little strange, but why not, if you like their designs!

This was a kind of fleur-de-lys but not quite design, which I cut out and used foam pads to raise up each section. I mounted it on a piece of dark card - I think it was a khaki colour but it's hard to tell from this picture - and stuck that on a square white card blank. I used a gold outline sticker to say Happy Birthday and it looks like I didn't quite stick it on straight... that's the homemade element for you!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Meal planning - week 9

My last full week before I go on holiday (yes, I know I was on holiday two weeks ago) so I'm going to try really hard to shift a bit more weight before I hit the joys of US road side diners, In & Out Burger and the buffet at the Bellagio!

Breakfast Toast, maybe boiled egg if time
Lunch Going to my local environmental fair today with a friend and my boyfriend, think the plan is to get lunch there.
Dinner Salmon with mango and lime salsa, rice and veg

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: had some leftover thick sliced ham (free). Didn't really have lunch at the environmental fair - had a fresh chocolate-covered ring doughnut and half a Ms Cupcake cookie sandwich, which I'm totally guessing had about 20 syns. For dinner I had the rest of the cookie sandwich (probably another 10 syns - it was huge!) and a piece of salmon with mango and lime salsa, rice and veg, which was delicious and all free.
Total syns for the day: estimating 30 which was all cake!

Breakfast Toast
Lunch Ham pasta salad
Dinner Out with my boyfriend and friends

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: lots of ham to use up so I had a couple of slices on ryvita with a laughing cow light triangle - a nice change and syn free. Morning snack: leftover potato wedges (free). Lunch: ham pasta salad - 2 syns for the mayo. Afternoon: this seems to be where I always cave! I had a pack of mini wagon wheels and should have looked up the syn value before I ate any, but I didn't.. they have 4 syns each (half as many as a normal wagon wheel) but I had 5! Oh dear... that's 20 syns in one go. I went out in the evening and as my boyfriend and I were early to meet my friends we went to Starbucks and I had some sort of frappucino which I have just discovered is 19 syns... there's a reason I don't go to Starbucks! Then we went out for dinner and I had two small glasses of wine - 10 syns - some goats cheese on bruschetta - about 8 syns - and chicken ravioli which should be free but I'll estimate 5 syns for the sauce. Everyone was having dessert so I went for a low fat frozen strawberry yogurt - I can't find the syn value or calorie content anyhere so since it was supposed to be a virtuous dessert I'll randomly count it as 3 syns. Given I've pretty much lost count for today anyway....
Total syns for the day: 67, I think - crikey! Really need to be good for the rest of this week as I'm going out for a curry on Saturday night as well and I really wanted to lose another pound or two before my holiday.


Breakfast Hash browns - recipe here or if not enough time, some leftover thick sliced ham
Lunch Ham pasta salad - hopefully made enough for 2 days
Dinner  As I wasn't feeling well last week I have to go to the youth club today (I am putting together their annual newsletter and need to talk to the young people and volunteers), so will take a sandwich for my dinner

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: far too tired this morning to fuss around making hash browns (or anything else) so I had a couple of laughing cow light triangles. I think I'm addicted! They're syn free and taste really nice anyway. But I know I will need to eat something else when I get into work. Morning snack: marshmallow wafer, 1.5 syns. Lunch: 4 ryvita dark rye (free option b choice) and mackarel pate - I didn't make it so don't know what's in it (it's homemade) but fish is free and hopefully it's nothing more than soft cheese or low fat fromage frais... so I'm going to count 5 syns for it and hope for the best. Also had a packet of skips - 4.5 syns. Afternoon: cereal bar, 6 syns and can of coke, 7 syns - really tired for some reason and decided I needed waking up! Went to the youth club in the evening as I need to gather info to write their newsletter but it wasn't great (couldn't find most of the people I needed to speak to and generally felt like I was wasting everyone's time). For some reason I was feeling quite low after that and coming home to an empty house didn't help and I decided the only thing that would cheer me up was going to the chip shop! Dear oh dear... at least these days I tend to leave half the portion whereas once I would have ate it all. No idea how many syns so I'm guessing about 25.

Total syns for the day: 49. I do seem to go to the chip shop far too often... after my holiday I'm going to ban myself for at least two months.


Breakfast Hash browns
Lunch Sandwich
Dinner Will invite my boyfriend over to dinner. Going to make herb and spice crusted chicken breasts that I saw on Lavender and Lovage. If I remember, I will make extra to have for lunch tomorrow. For dessert I will make the Slimming World fluffy chocolate mousse (0.5 syns, recipe on their website but only accessible to members)

Did I stick to it? Don't know why I thought I would have time to make hash browns for breakfast! I might try making them the night before or at the weekend one day and seeing if they are OK left overnight in the fridge. Had cereal this morning (free- option b). Cereal bar when I got into the office - 6 syns. Lunch: leftover ham pasta salad - 2 syns for the mayo. Went to gym at lunchtime. Afternoon: packet of Skips 4.5 syns. Don't think I had anything else as I was in a training session for a lot of the afternoon but I can't actually remember now! Dinner: made the chicken which was very nice, and served it with Slimming World chips so the whole thing was free, hooray! I couldn't make the mousse as I wasn't able to get hold of any Quark this week so did some popcorn for my boyfriend and had a couple of pieces myself but I think that should be free (as it was salted not sweet).
Total syns for the day: 12.5... unless I forgot something that I ate. Just goes to show I can be good when I try!


Breakfast Toast or cereal
Lunch  Leftover chicken from last night with salad
Dinner Have to stay home this evening as my sister and her boyfriend are coming to stay, though they are not arriving until after dinner -they have tickets for the Paralympics tomorrow (and I live in London whereas they don't). Will make the fast fish casserole from the Slimming World recipe book I had last week.

Did I stick to it? Had bread and butter for breakfast as I had some really fresh bread and it is nicer not toasted! But forgot about the leftover chicken for my lunch and ended up having a tuna sandwich. Which means I need to count the bread I had for breakfast as syns: according to the website a slice is 3 syns so with the butter I'll count that as 5, plus 2 for the mayo in my tuna sandwich. Had a Special K bar 4.5 syns and another cereal bar, 5 syns. Dinner: had the leftover chicken with an apricot sauce I had in the fridge - it was part of an apricot coulis I made for a dessert that I haven't blogged yet, so was a little sweet so actually went really nicely with the chicken. I think I should count 3 syns for the sugar in it. I had it with new potatoes and vegetables, which was really nice.
Total syns for the day: 19.5, not bad


Breakfast With my sister and her boyfriend, won't have a huge amount of time as I have to go to Slimming World and they are off to the Paralympics but I plan to make pancakes. I will probably have lemon juice and splenda and will buy a couple of bananas in case they want banana and toffee sauce (I can't stand bananas!)
Lunch  Baked potato with tuna, red onion and cottage cheese
Dinner Out with my boyfriend, my sister and her boyfriend: curry. Will almost certainly pig out as this place does the most amazing naan breads.

Did I stick to it? Had a pancake for breakfast which I think should be 5 syns. Went to Slimming World and was really pleased to find I've lost 2 pounds! That means I've shifted the 3.5 pounds that I out on in Majorca two weeks ago. Given I'm off to America on Tuesday I really wanted to lose those few pounds first so I'm exactly where I wanted to be. But I have a feeling I'll put a lot of weight on in America! Anyway back to today's food... lunch was a baked potato with cottage cheese and crab sticks I needed to use up, all free. Followed by a packet of mini Maryland cookies, which I'd forgotten is 10 syns for a really tiny bag, oops! Went out for a curry in the evening and had the works - chicken korma, rice, naan. It was lovely!
Total syns for the day: No idea and not going to bother counting now!


Breakfast With my sister and her boyfriend: they are off sightseeing in London today so I will do them a cooked breakfast and I'll have parts of it (eg sausages - quorn ones if I'm feeling good - toast, maybe eggs, hash browns if I can make them).
Dinner Mackerel in lemon and caper dressing with new potatoes - recipe from Tesco here

Did I stick to it? Just realised I didn't even finish planning today! Never mind - I had a sausage sandwich for brunch (about 12 syns) and roast pork, roast potatoes, veg and gravy for dinner - should only be 2 syns for the gravy. Since I'm going on holiday on Tuesday I am not going to worry about counting syns tomorrow (and what I eat will depend on what needs using up in the fridge anyway, and what time I get home as I might have to work late to get everything done). America here I come!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Random Recipes - Triple Chocolate Crunch Bars

Every month Dom at Belleau Kitchen challenges bloggers to cook a recipe chosen at random from their collection of cookery books - and I have to admit, I haven't been brave enough to take part until now! I don't bake as much as some people and try to make things for particular occasions (eg visiting family, or a birthday) so don't want to leave what I cook entirely to chance, and also I'm pretty fussy so there's a chance that if I picked something at random I wouldn't actually like it!

I took part in Dom's challenge last month as it didn't involve baking - he asked us to take a photograph of our cookery book collections, which actually inspired me to reorganise mine after seeing how tidy other people's were! So then I decided I would take part in the proper challenge this month and cross my fingers and hope it was something I would like....

I counted my recipe books and used a random number generator and then counted along the shelf until I got to that number book. So far so good.... it turned out to be the Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook, edited by Sophie Grigson. My friend Alice gave me this book a couple of years ago and I haven't cooked much from it, so it was a good one to use - and it has a good selection of recipes.

I opened the book at random, hoping it would be something I liked..... and Dom probably isn't going to believe me when I say my first ever random recipe was chocolate cake! Hooray! More specifically, triple chocolate crunch bars. I didn't cheat, I promise!

There weren't many ingredients needed and this was a pretty simple recipe too. You need:

250g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
50g Fairtrade cocoa powder
50g Fairtrade dark chocolate, chopped
50g Fairtrade milk chocolate, chopped
50g Fairtrade white chocolate, chopped.

I used Green and Black's but there are plenty of other Fairtrade chocolate bars around you can use.

Preheat oven to 200C. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs.

Fold in the flour and cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate

Add to the mixture and fold in

Grease and line a tin. I was recently sent Dr. Oetker's cake release spray to try and review. I usually use a spray oil like Fry Light that I use for cooking to grease my baking tins, as I find it a lot easier than rubbing butter around the tin. I assumed this cake release spray would be pretty similar, but it was slightly different. Fry Light sprays a small amount in quite a targeted area so I have to spray each tin several times. The cake release spray was a more continuous spray that covered a much wider area and left a finer coating of oil, which I was pleased by. I had no problems removing the cake from the tin (I also used greaseproof paper) and I have to say I think I will be buying this again. It will be interesting to see how long one can lasts!
(Disclaimer: I was sent this product free of charge but was not required to write a positive review).

So where was I.... spread the mixture into the tin

Bake for 20-25 minutes

The recipe suggests cutting it into 8 slices but these would be massive! I decided instead to cut it into squares, much like chocolate brownies. I like how you can see the different coloured chocolate chunks inside the bake.

I found these a little dry as I think I was expecting them to taste like brownies, but the different taste and texture when you eat a chunk of chocolate inside was really nice (I left the chunks quite big so they wouldn't entirely meltaway). My boyfriend loved them and while I think we do both prefer brownies, this is a really nice change and I'm very glad I picked it as my random recipe!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Camper van birthday card

A  quick Friday lunchtime post... here's a birthday card I made for a male friend. I used a rubber stamp of a camper van which I stamped onto card and mounted onto the card blank. I covered the bottom half of the card with patterned paper, and stuck a wavy piece of sticky ribbon along the join. I used a coloured 'Happy birthday' sticker on a small piece of blue card, to go with the blue of the card itself, and used sticky pads to raise it slightly from the card. I think the patterned paper has a sort of 70s vibe which goes nicely with the camper van as well!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chocolate no-bake cheesecake

When I made a peach cheesecake recently I wanted to make a chocolate version for my boyfriend as he doesn't eat peaches. I came across a recipe on the Kraft Philadelphia website for a no-bake chocolate cheesecake using chocolate Philadelphia, and then when I went to the supermarket the next day chocolate Philly was half price.... so I think somebody was telling me to make this recipe!
You need:
about 140g biscuits eg digestive, crushed
30g low fat spread, melted
400g Cadbury's chocolate Philadelphia
250ml creme fraiche
8g powdered gelatine (about three quarters of a sachet) dissolved in 60 ml hot water

At least, those are the ingredients from the recipe, I did end up adapting them slightly to use up what I already had in the house.

First I used my food processor to turn the biscuits into crumbs:

Mix with the melted butter and press into the bottom of a tin. I lined it with greaseproof paper which turned out to be a good move in the end.

Whisk Philadelphia and creme fraiche. I actually used fat-free fromage frais as I had some to use up, and I decided it would be similar enough - but it ended up a little runny and I wonder if this was the problem.

Dissolve the gelatine according to the instructions on the pack. The recipe said to use powdered gelatine but I had sheets; I worked out how much I thought I would need according to the quantities on the packet but as the final dish was a bit too runny, I'm wondering if I didn't use enough. Maybe it was a combination of using fromage frais instead of creme fraiche and not using enough gelatine - next time I'll follow the recipe properly!

Mix the gelatine in with the chocolate mixture, pour over the cheesecake base and leave to set

A bit on the runny side - you had to eat it with a spoon rather than a fork - but otherwise it was pretty good, and very simple to make!

As there was no baking required, I am sending this in to Maison Cupcake's Zero Baking Required Challenge, a new event which she started this month.

Secondly I am sending this to Culinary Vibes' Cook Eat Delicious Desserts blog challenge, as this month's theme is chocolate.

Finally I am sending this to Frugal Food Fridays hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours as it ticks several boxes - the ingredients are cheap, even more so as the main ingredient was half price, and no baking means not paying for the electricity for the oven!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Birthday card - dad reading the newspaper

I made this birthday card for my boyfriend's dad using a decoupage kit so it was pretty easy. I also added a gold 'happy birthday' outline sticker on a raised piece of card as a banner at the top. Even the backing paper came from the same decoupage kit.

The picture shows a man falling asleep in an armchair under a newspaper - I have to say, it's a pretty stereotypical image, even though I do quite like it. I do try to make greetings cards that would be appropriate for either gender but occasionally run out of ideas when it comes to cards for men, and turn to magazines for ideas or buy ready-to-craft kits. In these cases I find that the cards that are aimed specifically at men are broad stereotypes - e.g. cars, boats, or lazy men watching TV and drinking beer, or sports - but I don't know any men who are interested in football or golf, which seem to be the main two! What ideas do you all come up with when it's your dad, uncle, or boyfriend, or husband's birthday? Whether you make or buy a card I'd love any suggestions for themes or images that are a little more masculine than just generic patterns but at the same time don't reinforce stereotypes that aren't necessarily true!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Meal planning - week 8

This week I need to be really careful to make sure I stick to my meal plan! I put on three and a half pounds while I was in Majorca last week. Which doesn't sound too bad other than the fact that I was trying to be good at least some of the time, but also I'm going on holiday again in two weeks, and this holiday will be twice as long, and twice as unhealthy - I'll be eating in American diners on a roadtrip and at the end totally overindulging in Las Vegas!

breakfast: wholemeal toast (dry as I have an annual medical at 9am and I'm only allowed dry bread and water beforehand!).
lunch Roast chicken with cous cous and pickled onions
dinner Lasagne - portion I made previously that I have in the freezer that I think has about 8 syns, with veg.

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: yes as I had no choice before the Bupa checkup! Lunch: roast chicken with leftover roast potatoes (so much better than couscous and still free).Went to Tesco at lunch and bought lots of healthy food... and some caramel Wagon Wheels. Then ate two of them. Oops! I've just looked them up and found they are 8 syns each which is probably what I expected... but as I had two, that's 16 syns in one go. For some reason I was hungry all afternoon so also had two marshmallow wafers, but luckily they are only 1.5 syns each. For dinner I had a portion of homemade lasagne I had in the freezer that I estimate at 8 syns with veg, then a vodka and diet coke (well, first day back at work after a holiday is always hard!) which is 4 syns.
Total syns for the day: 31. And I started out so well!

breakfast Cereal
lunch Pasta with smoked salmon and broccoli
dinner Will invite my boyfriend over to dinner. I'm finding it increasingly hard to find meals he will like that are healthy, and given I really need to lose some weight this week I'm going to have to do something I didn't want to do, until we move in together at least - cook different meals for each of us. I will do him sausages and mash as it's easy and I will make myself the fast fish casserole from Slimming World extra easy All In One p142.

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: cereal (option b). Sneaky wagon wheel at work in the morning - 8 syns. Must not eat any more this week! Lunch: pasta with smoked salmon, broccoli, and sauce made from quark and fat-free natural yogurt - so all free, hooray! Afternoon: crabsticks (free), 2 marshmallow wafers (3 syns)... then I cracked and had two wagon wheels. I think I'm addicted to them! And at 16 syns I doubt any more I will lose the weight that I needed to this week.... Did the fish casserole with potatoes for my dinner which was nice though I put a bit too much salt in. Totally free in syn terms though my boyfriend was snaffling some biscuits afterwards and I did have two, which is probably about 5 syns. And I had a vodka and diet coke -4 syns.

Total syns for the day: 36. Must stop eating wagon wheels!

breakfast Cereal
lunch Roast chicken with cous cous and pickled onions
dinner out this evening with a friend to a Thai restaurant

Did I stick to it? Left early for a meeting at work and didn't have time to get breakfast, so had a packet of Belvita breakfast biscuits when I got to the office: 9 syns. Then a wagon wheel as well - at least it was the last one and I won't be buying any more! 8 syns. Lunch: chicken breast, Mug Shot pasta - free. Still really hungry though so I had a packet of skips - 4.5 syns - and an apple - free - and a marshmallow wafer - 1.5 syns - then another packet of skips - 4.5 syns - and a packet of weightwatchers crisps - 5 syns. I feel like I haven't stopped eating all day, and I'm still hungry! I did go to the gym at lunchtime which helped me work up an appetite but I think it's just that time of the month when I seem to need to eat more than usual. Which is annoying as there is no way now I'm going to lose any weight this week! Especially as I'm meeting BakingAddict for dinner later and she's bringing me cupcakes....! Dinner - Thai food which would have been pretty low in syns but I had a couple of small spring rolls as a starter and a glass of wine so I'm going to count 15 syns for the meal. And we went to Lucky 7 for a milk shake afterwards which was yummy, but probably quite high in syns... I'm estimating another 15 (at least I didn't drink it all... as I spilt half of it over the table, haha!)

Total syns for the dayabout 62.5. A really terrible day, don't understand why I couldn't stop eating and I'm definitely not going to lose any weight this week.

breakfast Cereal
lunch Jacket potato with chicken in a curry sauce and mango
dinner Think I will need to head over to a youth club this evening whose newsletter I am putting together, which means dinner on the go - I will take some pasta with smoked salmon and broccoli and hope I can find somewhere to eat it.

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: wholemeal toast with smear of peanut butter, 5 syns but is a good slow-release energy. Midmorning one of BakingAddict's amazing cupcakes... total guess but I'm putting down 10 syns. And there are three left in the box... must... not.... eat....! Lunch: baked potato with leftover chicken in a homemade curry sauce -free. Afternoon: packet of ryvita minis 5 syns, cheese triangles, sliced ham -free. Dinner: wasn't feeling well so I didn't go to the youth club. Instead I cooked roast pork chop, roast potatoes, veg - free - and gravy, 2 syns as I made it quite thick.
Total syns for the day: 22. Much better than yesterday and I don't feel like I've deprived myself.

breakfast Mullerlight and fruit
lunch Tuna mayo sandwich
dinner Out with my boyfriend, not sure where yet

Did I stick to it? Breakfast: Mullerlight. Which meant I was still hungry so I had a cereal bar when I got into work - 6 syns. Lunch: tuna mayo sandwich (2 syns for the mayo). Afternoon: packet of Skips 4.5 syns, cereal bar 5 syns, can of coke 7 syns, Time Out 8.5 syns... when I fall off the wagon, you can hear the thud! I'm going out for dinner with my boyfriend tonight as well.... on which basis, I had some garlic bread with cheese and a calzone pizza at ASK and a skinny latte at Costa. No idea how many syns are in that lot, but it's going to be a lot!

Total syns for the day: No idea, probably at least 60.

breakfast Mullerlight
lunch Pasta with smoked salmon
dinner Will invite my boyfriend over and make the beef steak pot roast on p186 of Slimming World extra easy All In One
Did I stick to it? Breakfast: Mullerlight (free)
Total syns for the day:
Went to Slimming World this morning and after the week I've had, I was expecting to put on weight but was very pleased to find I've lost 1.5 pounds! I put on 3.5 pounds after my week in Majorca and have two weeks to get that back off before going on holiday again to America, so I'm really pleased things seem to be back on track.

breakfast My boyfriend will still be here so I will make us pancakes as a treat.
lunch: my boyfriend has relatives visiting this afternoon and the plan is for a midafternoon buffet around 3pm. So I need to have a substantial/late breakfast then whatever I eat at the buffet will probably count as both lunch and dinner.
dinner see above

Did I stick to it?
Total syns for the day:

I am sending this to the Meal Planning Mondays bloghop on At Home With Mrs M.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Apple, pear and chocolate tarte tatin

I always seem to buy fruit then not get around to eating it before it starts to go soft, or brown in the case of these apples. I often use them up in a dessert and realised I hadn't made a tarte tatin for a while. I found a nice variation on this recipe in the Green and Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection that I got for Christmas.
Apple, Pear and Chocolate Tarte Tatin

You need:
Packet of ready-made puff pastry
(the recipe does give an alternative method for making your own pastry, with the addition of some cocoa powder, but I didn't have time to make my own pastry this time. And the recipe does say it's OK to use ready made!)
For the filling:
the recipe specifies 4-5 conference pears though I used a mixture of apples and pears
50g unsalted butter
50g granulated sugar
50g dark chocolate, grated

Preheat the oven to 190 C/ Gas mark 5. Peel the apples and pears and slice them up.

For this recipe you either need a tarte tatin dish (whatever that is) or an ovenproof frying pan. My Le Creuset pan (that and my cat are about the only good things I salvaged from my relationship with my ex, haha!) is cast iron and has a handle that can go in the oven. Melt the butter in whatever pan you are using, add the sugar and allow to caramelise.

Arrange the apples and pears in the pan - I decided to make one half apples and the other half pear. Allow to cook for 5-10 mins or longer in the case of apples.

Sprinkle with grated chocolate

Allow to cool slightly then roll out the puff pastry and place over the top of the pan so it completely covers the fruit. Put in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Invert onto a plate - you can see here how the fruit has caramelized and the chocolate has melted. Serve with ice cream or plain fromage frais. It's delicious!

I'm sending my Tarte Tatin into this month's Alphabakes challenge, hosted by my co-host Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker, as this month's letter is T.

I am also sending this in to Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked as their theme for this month is pies and tarts.

I am also sending this to Bake Fest, hosted by Foodomania - a roundup of vegetarian baked recipes blogged any time in August.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ice cream cone cakes

Believe it or not, these are cupcakes!

The ice cream cone is a real wafer cone that I bought, and there is cake baked right inside the cone. The 'ice cream' on the top is actually frosting! And you can't have an ice cream cone without a Cadbury's Flake!

I made them for my boyfriend's dad's 70th birthday party last summer. I was asked to make cupcakes but wanted to do something a bit different and that would work for a summer party. These are a lot easier to make than they look, and I had several comments about how cute they looked and people saying they had never seen anything like it before.
The recipe comes from "Eat Me!" by Xanthe Milton. I have adapted it slightly so here is the recipe I used.

110g unsalted butter, room temperature
110g caster sugar
3 eggs
110g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla essence
12 flat-based ice cream cones
3 or 4 Cadburys chocolate flakes

For the icing:
225g butter or marg, room temperature
450g icing sugar
2tsp vanilla essence

a few drops of food colouring


1. First of all, it's really important that you get ice cream cones with flat bottoms. Most are pointed (as you will remember from childhood); but you need them flat so they will stand up in the baking tray. I tried three supermarkets before I found some, made by Askey's - which my local Tesco and Sainsbury's didn't have, but I found them in Iceland. That's why mums go to Iceland!

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. The original recipe tells you to cut squares of tin foil and place them in the holes of a muffin tin. Place the ice cream cone in each piece of foil and wrap the foil around the cone. However I'm lazy and was in a hurry, and had come across a similar recipe that didn't say to do this, so I didn't bother. It made no difference at all - either to the cooking or keeping the cones upright.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one, at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add this a third at a time to the batter. Add the vanilla.

4. Spoon the mixture into the cones, filling to just below the top of the cone. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for about 20 mins. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool.

5. Make the icing. Beat the butter so that it is pale and creamy and add the icing sugar and the vanilla. Separate into a couple of batches and add a little food colouring to each - I found a few drops of green gave a pale mint colour which worked well. Pink also looked nice.

6. Using a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle, pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. Add a chocolate flake to each. I also tried to add hundreds and thousands but they didn't adhere to the icing and just fell off!

I think these would be great for children's parties though adults love them as well! You could also make a different type of cake to go inside the cones; it doesn't have to be vanilla. Maybe a strawberry cake to go with the pink icing and a mint chocolate cake to go with the green icing?

I am sending these in to Calendar Cakes, hosted by Rachel of Dolly Bakes and Laura of Laura Loves Cakes, as their theme for August is "British summertime". Yes, I probably should have made some sort of wet weather cake featuring mini umbrellas, but I'm optimistic (and about to head off to Majorca so the rubbish weather here doesn't matter!). But what says summer time more than ice cream...?

I am also sending them to Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday weekly link-up.

Finally I am also sending this to Bake Fest, hosted by Foodmania - a roundup of vegetarian baked recipes blogged during August.

I am also updating this (March 2013) to send to Alphabakes as this month's letter is I.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Peach and pistachio baked cheesecake

I am republishing this recipe so I can send it in to Cook Eat Delicious' blog event for September, where the theme is peaches. Check out the challenge for yourself!

I had some peaches that needed using up as they were getting past their best, so when I saw a gorgeous recipe for apricot cheesecake on Kit's blog i-lost in Austen, I decided I would make it and substitute peaches for apricots. Since then I've found a whole host of blogging challenges I can enter this in as well, but I promise that was pure coincidence!

So please do check out Kit's blog for her recipe and if you haven't been to her blog before, you're missing out!

She made a cake rather than biscuit base for the cheesecake, and given the cheese part is made with cottage cheese I think it might be relatively low fat - or maybe that's wishful thinking!

For the full list of ingredients please go to Kit's blog; here's the step-by-step of what I did.

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a square loose-bottomed cake tin.

Beat 175g margarine and 150g sugar.

Add 200g flour, 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp milk. Mix well.

Spread mixture into the tin and bake for about 15 mins, then leave to cool.

For the filling, beat 150g margarine with 100g sugar and 2 eggs

Kit's recipe then says to beat in 750g cottage cheese. I had two 300g tubs which I hoped would be enough, and it was.

Beat in 100g cornflour

Here's the base which has finished cooking in the oven. It looks a little uneven but that doesn't really matter.

Once it has cooled, pour the filling mixture on top.

Cut some peaches in half, peel them and remove the stone (Kit used apricots). I used four peaches which placed evenly in rows covered the whole of the cheesecake.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. This is how it came out:

Then chop some pistachios finely

Sprinkle in the middle of each peach half.

I have to say, it tasted absolutely gorgeous! The peaches were slightly sharp and the cheesecake texture was deliciously creamy, and the cake base was a really nice change from biscuit. I think I will definitely make this again and might try some different fruit on top next time.

As I said, I made this purely because I wanted to use up some peaches, but it fits very neatly into a few blogging challenges. Firstly, the One Ingredient Challenge: the one ingredient this month is peach. This challenge is hosted by Nazima at Working London Mummy and Laura at How to Cook Good Food.

Peaches are in season, so I am sending this to Simple and In Season, hosted by Ren of Fabulicious Food.

As I bookmarked this as soon as I saw it on Kit's blog, I am also sending it to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and founded by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.

And finally I have just come across another blog challenge where the theme is cheesecake! So I am entering this in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking. I've just managed to squeeze this in before the challenge ends - there are so many amazing cheesecake recipes on there, I want to try them all!

I've just found one more challenge I can send this in to, hooray! Bake Fest is hosted by Foodomania and is a roundup of vegetarian baked recipes blogged in August.

I am republishing this recipe so I can send it in to Cook Eat Delicious' blog event for September, where the theme is peaches. Check out the challenge for yourself!