Saturday 31 March 2018

Easter Egg Cheesecake

Easter is definitely an excuse/opportunity for some nice baking and desserts - almost any recipe can be improved with the addition of mini eggs!

A few days ago I read about a cafe in Wales that was serving cheesecakes made inside Easter egg shells - the article has been circulating on the internet and while I thought it was a great idea, I was almost surprised it hadn’t been done before, as it looks such a simple idea!

In fact so simple that it looked pretty easy to make something similar myself, which is exactly what I decided to do.

I used a basic no-bake cheesecake recipe keeping the flavour plain, as it has the chocolate shell and I was going to add some decorations on top, but you could easily change the flavour of the cheesecake by adding lemon zest and juice, or butterscotch flavouring, or cocoa powder and/or grated chocolate (I did consider the latter but thought it would be too much chocolate), you could even crush up some Easter egg shells or some maltesers or some mini eggs to the cheesecake mix!

You can also make your own Easter egg shell using a mould, which I have done before, but this time didn’t have that much time so bought a cheap Easter egg and used the shell from that. 

Easter egg cheesecakes

To serve two, you need:

One hollow Easter egg shell - I used one from a 141g Mars Easter egg but I think the weight included the Mars bar itself. You don’t want a particularly big egg shell as this is a rich dessert so the sort of small Easter egg aimed at children is probably best

300ml double cream
3 digestive biscuits
25g butter
70g icing sugar
180g tub Philadelphia cheese 
Choc Shot (liquid chocolate in a bottle that's technically for making hot chocolate but can be used for all sorts of things), mini eggs and mini malteser bunnies to decorate - or whatever you like

Unwrap the foil from the Easter egg and place the blade of a sharp knife in a cup of hot or boiling water for a few minutes - this will help cut through to separate the shell into two halves without breaking it. Carefully insert the knife on the join around the easter egg and cut it into two halves.

Crush the biscuits either in a blender or in a plastic freezer bag with a wooden spoon and put to one side. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or in a small pan over a low heat, and when melted stir in the crushed biscuits.

Stand each chocolate egg shell on a plate and spoon half the biscuits into each one.

With a hand mixer, whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then beat in the soft cheese and stir in the icing sugar until combined.

Spoon into the chocolate egg shells and put in the fridge to set.

Decorate however you like - I squeezed some Choc Shot in thin lines over the top and added some Cadbury Mini Eggs and a mini Maltesers bunny.


I'm sharing this with Cook Blog Share

Thursday 29 March 2018

Easy Easter Decorated Biscuits

I’m determined not to let having a new baby mean I have to give up my hobbies of baking and card baking but at the moment I definitely have very little time for either! There are lots of things you can make that are quick and easy and take minimal fuss though, like these decorated sugar cookies for Easter.
We had some friends visit for a couple of hours last Sunday afternoon; they had said they would  bring some cake but I also wanted to be able to offer something as well, but didn't know if I would have time to make even a simple cake, and wasn't sure what they were going to bring and didn't want to make the same thing, so cookies seemed the answer.

I already had some biscuit dough in the freezer from a previous recipe pre-baby (which I don’t seem to have blogged about); here's a basic sugar cookie recipe you can use, though you can add other flavourings like a bit of lemon zest or butterscotch flavouring, vanilla essence and so on.

225g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 egg
340g self-raising flour

Cream the butter and the sugar and beat in the egg. Then fold in the flour until you have a pliable dough. Keep in the fridge until you need to use and roll out to use with cookie cutters.

The size and thickness of the cookies will dictate how long they would need to bake in the oven but I would usually give them 8-10 minutes at 180C as they will continue to harden as they cool out of the oven.

I defrosted my dough and used a set of Easter cookie cutters I bought last year (or maybe even the year before) from one of the pound shop chains and had never used. The set included two different bunnies, a chick, and an egg.

They took no time at all to cut out and bake in the oven and I decided they needed decorating even if I didn't have a lot of time until our friends arrived - or until the baby woke up and wanted feeding again! So I mixed some icing sugar with water and added some different food colourings and did my best to ice the biscuits with a teaspoon (I didn't have time to faff around with piping and flooding properly!) and added a few sprinkles on top.

They aren't particularly neat, but tasted good which was the main thing, and the presentation was helped by this cute little felt Easter basket I bought for a couple of pounds in Lidl last year.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Easy Easter Rice Krispie Cakes

Last Easter I did loads of baking and card making and the year before and the year before I made an elaborate anti-gravity Mini Egg cake which I was really proud of (it tasted great too) - here's a quick pic:

This year however I will have a four-week old baby at Easter so I definitely won't be doing anything like that! In fact it's my husband's birthday and I make him a showstopper chocolate cake every year but I knew I wouldn't have time to do anything remotely time consuming and there was a chance I wouldn't even get time to bake a basic sponge cake, so I've enlisted the help of a local lady who runs a baking business and for the first time ever am actually buying a birthday cake rather than making it - which is a bit of a shame but needs must, and I'm sure it will taste great.
I was starting to miss baking though especially at Easter so I decided I could just about manage making some rice krispie cakes. I used to love them as a child, and still make them every once in a while now! You can make them look like little nests with the addition of a few mini eggs but I used some Easter marshmallows from Lidl, in the shapes of chicks and rabbits. They are a bit big for the 'nests' perhaps but never mind!

Here's a quick and easy recipe that is fun for children to join in and make with you - just be careful when melting the chocolate.

Makes about a dozen Rice Krispie cakes depending on size
100g Rice Krispies
60g butter, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp. golden syrup
100g milk chocolate

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a bain marie then stir in the chopped butter until melted. Stir in the golden syrup.

Place the Rice Krispies in a large bowl and pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring gently until all the cereal is coated.

Spoon into paper cakes cases and leave to set - they will set at room temperature but you can also put in the fridge.

Decorate with mini eggs or marshmallows or anything you like - or eat them as they are.

Monday 26 March 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 13

Now my daughter is three weeks old I feel I've got into the swing of things a bit - we have a good routine at home, even if it takes a while - after her morning feed which can be any time around 7 or 8am, and a bit of time spent cuddling after, I'm then expressing with a pump, getting up, tidying the house and restocking the nappy drawer, changing the sheets in the moses basket (that is, whichever one she isn't in - we have one upstairs and one downstairs), feeding the cat and making sure she doesn't feel neglected... by the time I've done all that it's about midday!

So far I've only gone out for a short walk around the block or where we have had appointments at clinics and so on - I had a caesarean after a lengthy induction process failed, and was advised not to overdo it - last week the health visitor told me not to get the bus into the town centre as I was planning as she thought it was too much too soon.

But this week I'm determined we will go out, even if it is just to pick up the form we need to register the mini-moo at the doctor (well, our surname is Cowe, so what else would her nickname be?!) and then stop at the bakery on the way home. I'm also hopefully going to meet one of the girls from my NCT class for coffee.

I'm still a bit nervous about how long we can go out before she needs feeding or changing or just randomly starts crying - but we've been very lucky and S seems a very easy, content baby at the moment, during the day at least (nights sometimes are a different matter!).

I'm also much more back into a proper routine with meals, though my husband has had to wait a while when he gets home from work as S has tended to need feeding just when I was about to start cooking! I'm also still doing what I consider easy meals but starting a bit of 'proper cooking' as well.

Lunch salad - cooked chicken, lettuce, grated carrot, potato salad and cheese
Dinner tuna pasta bake ready meal for me, beef grillsteak and mash for him

Lunch salad - cooked chicken, lettuce, grated carrot, potato salad and cheese
Dinner burger and chips

Lunch pasta and sauce
Dinner homemade chicken curry from my batch cooking for me, garlic and herb chicken kiev for him

Lunch tuna sandwich
Dinner lemon chicken (with jar of sauce) with rice

Lunch tuna sandwich
Dinner homemade lasagne from my batch cooking for me, sausage roll and beans for him

Saturday My sister and her partner are visiting to meet their niece for the first time
Lunch chicken enchiladas I can prepare easily in advance and put in the oven
Dinner Think they will have left before dinner time. It's my husband's birthday tomorrow and he suggested recently that as we wanted to watch The Founder movie - which is the story of McDonald's - that we get a McDonald's delivered by Uber Eats while we watch it, and tonight after our guests leave might be a good time.

Sunday- Easter Sunday and my husband's birthday
Lunch I'll assume for now my husband would like a bacon sandwich as it's his favourite, but will check nearer the time
Dinner Takeaway with my husband's family for his birthday

Link up your own meal plan here:

Sunday 25 March 2018

Spring Butterflies Birthday Card

I had a sudden urge to do some more card making not long before my baby was due, but as I wasn't going to have the time/ energy/ ability to lift heavy boxes and keep bending down, I decided to indulge myself but only use things that were easily accessible from my craft stash, either at the front of the cupboard or not needing any special equipment or effort! It was a good opportunity to use up some of my stash, for example these die-cut butterflies I bought from ebay absolutely ages ago.

I received a large packet of different coloured die-cut butterfly shapes and had used them before but there were a lot left. The colours made me think of spring so I decided to make a clean and simple (CAS) card for a friend with a birthday in March, letting the butterflies take centre stage.

The way I've arranged them makes me think of a whole swarm of butterflies taking flight en masse - and the card didn't really need anything else other than a 'happy birthday' sentiment.

I'm sharing this with Cuttlebug Mania, a challenge to use die cuts where the theme this time is spring, and the Sparkles Forum Challenge where 'spring is in the air'.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sugar-free Flourless Chocolate Brownies for a Gestational Diabetes-Friendly Dessert

If you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes - a particular form of diabetes you can develop in pregnancy, even if you have no previous history of the disease - you'll probably wonder at some point if you can ever enjoy a cake or dessert or piece of chocolate again - or at least until your baby is born when gestational diabetes disappears.

The answer, luckily, is yes - there are plenty of desserts you can enjoy. And I don't just mean sugar-free jelly or no added sugar Angel Delight, which seem to be staples of the gestational diabetes (GD) diet for a lot of people- if you enjoy baking, or eating things that other people have baked, there are still options out there, even though you should be avoiding sugar and refined white carbs, which unfortunately includes the flour usually used in cakes and biscuits.

There are alternatives - for instance sweetener instead of sugar, and ground almonds to replace flour - and I'm going to point you in the direction of a website that has some great recipes.

Very soon after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes I found a Facebook support group that was linked to a website called GestationalDiabetes UK.

It’s full of incredibly helpful information, birth stories, meal plans and recipes. It was set up by a  mum who had gestational diabetes and couldn’t find enough information or support. She’s done a lot of research and has worked with various organisations including BabyCentre UK which advertises her site as somewhere to go for support with GD – so while she’s not a medical professional, I felt like I could trust the info on her site.

The main reason I used the site itself – rather than the Facebook group, where I often posted questions or comments for advice or support – was for recipes. I found it relatively easy to design my own meal plans but when it came to something sweet, I really struggled. Diabetic cakes often use sweetener instead of sugar but with GD, as I mentioned above, I was advised to cut down on carbs and particularly refined white carbs – meaning cakes or desserts made with plain or standard self-raising flour were out.

Members of the GD UK Mums Facebook group were raving about the chocolate brownies so I had to give them a go. The website has a lot of free recipes but to get this particular one you'd need to sign up as a member, which costs £7 a month (there is a cheaper option but that doesn't include access to the recipes) - you can cancel any time so I was a member for a couple of months while I was pregnant.

So obviously I'm not going to give you the recipe for the brownies and advise you to sign up for the site even if just for a month, but like many other diabetic friendly bakes, you won't be surprised to find that the flour is largely replaced by ground almonds. I found this gave the brownies a slightly grainy texture; they don't taste of almonds and just taste of chocolate. The ultimate test was my husband who loves chocolate brownies and doesn't like nuts, and he enjoyed these! I did find them a little more dry than I would have liked, with a more cake-like texture than other homemade chocolate brownies which are usually more gooey, but they were a really nice treat if you are missing chocolate cake and brownies!

Monday 19 March 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 12

I've been trying to sort out what meals we are eating this week for about three days now....  every time I start I have to stop then I don't have time to go back to it! As you may have seen from my recent post on the best thing I've ever made I've had my hands rather full lately! I don't know whether I will get back into properly meal planning for a bit but I've just done an online shop and bought a bunch of easy to cook meals - and realised a lot of them go out of date on the same day so I do need to decide what to eat when and which ones to freeze! So for ease I'm going to put it into a meal plan format and see how I get on with sticking to it!

Lunch prawn mayo sandwich (I bought a tub of ready made filling!) followed by fresh watermelon
Dinner chicken tagliatelle ready meal for me, chicken and bacon pie with mashed potato for him

Lunch prawn mayo sandwich and watermelon
Dinner chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking stash for me, hunter's chicken ready meal for him

Lunch chicken and chorizo soup (ready made again!)
Dinner spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread

Lunch chicken and chorizo soup
Dinner garlic and herb chicken fillets and chips

Lunch with my parents- they will have just driven up and usually want something like beans on toast for their lunch as it's quick
Dinner  ready-made chicken pie from Waitrose and mashed potatoes which my mum can help with

Saturday my husband has to work today and might be back late so I need a dinner where he can eat later if he needs to - a good excuse to have something he doesn't like! Roast lamb is traditional at Easter and something I really enjoy but my husband doesn't eat lamb so I never do it as a roast. Easter Sunday is actually his birthday so he definitely won't want it then! So I'm going to take advantage of him being out and other people being here, to do a roast lamb dinner, and to use up an apple strudel I have in the freezer that is far too big for one person, but my husband doesn't like apple either!
Lunch tuna melt or ham and cheese bagels
Dinner roast lamb followed by apple strudel

Lunch fresh pasta with garlic bread
Dinner pulled pork in bread rolls with chips  (cheating with a ready made one!)

Link up your own meal plan here -

Thursday 15 March 2018

The best thing I’ve ever made

Since this is a blog about things I’ve made I thought I’d share what is undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever made- though I can’t take all the credit as it was 50% my husband’s work too:

Introducing our beautiful daughter Sophie Elizabeth:

I almost can't believe how much I adore this little girl already - she's two weeks old today and my husband has gone back to work today for the first time after his paternity leave finished. I've spent today feeding, cuddling, changing (several) nappies, sterilising bottles, expressing milk, and generally attending to her every need - it felt something of an achievement today that I also managed to get dressed, eat breakfast and lunch, sign up to the childcare voucher scheme and add her to my medical insurance plan and write a birthday card to a friend - and now a blog post as well! Still, it's a far cry from my busy 'previous life' working in communications at an investment bank - though I'm loving every minute of being Sophie's mum, even when she does one of 'those' nappies!

So regular readers should expect lower frequency of blog posts from now on, though I do have plenty of recipes I want to share from when I had gestational diabetes during pregnancy and a few other things I made a while ago - I can't see myself doing any baking any time soon, and even the dinners I'm making at the moment are either frozen food (things with chips), ready meals or from the batch cooking I did while I was pregnant!

I do intend to continue this blog and it will probably take on a more child-oriented stance but I also plan to continue my normal sort of posts.... when I can find the time!