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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Mini Filo Homity Pies

At the moment the weather doesn't seem to know what it's doing. One day it's cold and miserable and we're hovering over the heating controls, and the next day the sun comes out and we're grasping onto the last strands of summer.

These Homity pies are perfect for this weather, with their hearty potato, cheese and garlic filling, and a light filo pastry casing, they can be eaten with either a salad or steaming vegetables, depending on what the weather decides to do. They are also very easy to make (unless of course you decide to make your own filo pastry), and can be made in around 30 minutes.

Mini Filo Homity PiesMini Filo Homity Pies Mini Filo Homity PiesMini Filo Homity Pies

You can find the full recipe and directions how to make these, along with some of my other recipes that I've been commissioned to write, on the Great British Chefs website here.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lunchbox Ideas to Get Out of That School Lunchbox Rut

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

I've been making school packed lunches now for nearly 10 years, and the monotony of it started to set in a long time ago. My two eldest children didn't seem to mind the same lunches day in, day out, but I became quite bored of making them.

When Jack started school I gave him the same lunch as the other two had been enjoying for years, but his lunchbox soon started coming home with sandwiches half eaten, fruit untouched and chocolate biscuits unwrapped. I persevered with it until he informed me that he no longer liked sandwiches. This was when I realised that I needed to change my strategy and come up with some new lunchbox ideas, as it would appear that my youngest was as bored with eating the contents of his lunchbox as I was making it. He's never been one for eating too much of the same thing and has only ever really eaten small amounts of lots of different foods, and would happily graze all day long if given the chance.

#CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool

I now make sure I have plenty of different foods available to make lunchboxes each day. To keep costs down I very rarely use any pre-wrapped foods - if the food is bright and colourful enough there is no need for fancy packaging to attract his attention. I enjoy making lunchboxes more now, and no longer feel like I'm stuck in a lunchbox rut. I also now have an excited boy who can't wait to tuck into his lunch, and a lunchbox that comes home empty every day. 

My tips for the perfect healthy lunchbox :
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • Colourful
  • Variety
  • Small treat
#CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool #CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool

The above box contained a little of each of the following :
  • Cheese skewers
  • Rolls of ham
  • Stuffed Olives
  • Cheese crackers sandwiched with peanut butter
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Clementine
  • Carrot sticks
  • Red Pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomato
  • Chocolate beans
#CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool

Jack loves to drink water but doesn't often drink much of it at school. I find that to get fluids into him during the day there needs to be variety in that too. Capri-Sun Fruit Crush 200ml juice drinks are made with 75% fruit juice and 25% spring water and count as 1 of your 5 a day, and as they come in 3 flavours he doesn't get bored of the same flavour each day.
  • Apple & Pear
  • Apple & Blackcurrant
  • Tropical
The Capri-Sun was found half-way down the fruit juices and squash aisle of my local Tesco store, and as I was hosting the recent #CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool Twitter party I thought it would be a good idea to try them for myself. I'm not much of a squash drinker but I actually really love these drinks as they are natural tasting, and not full of any artificial sweeteners, just fruit juice and spring water. As I was checking out the ingredients list I discovered that the apple & blackcurrant flavour includes juice from the Aronia Berry, which, after googling it, I discovered that it's a 'super food' and quite possibly 'one of the healthiest fruits in the world'. That's definitely a good enough reason in my eyes to buy these!

#CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool

#CollectiveBias #CapriSunSchool

If you're wondering which was my favourite, then I think I will have to say the Apple & Pear, which actually surprised me as I thought it would be the Apple & Blackcurrant.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

I first came across this method of making a saucy pudding in late 2000, in a recipe booklet picked up in the hospital shop whilst attending a prenatal appointment during my first pregnancy. It was a recipe book full of 'Holiday Recipes', and as it was to be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas living in the US I decided that I needed to embrace the American life and try some of these alien looking meals and desserts.  When I followed the recipe for the first time I thought I'd made a mistake as it looked terrible - who puts a watery sugary liquid on top of cake batter? I gave it the benefit of the doubt and was amazed once the pudding came to the end of the cooking time and the sugary water had magically found its way underneath the batter and turned into a delicious caramel sauce.

I've made the pudding a few times since, but my favourite version has apples and cinnamon added. This time I decided to add some rhubarb from the garden along with the apples that had fallen from our tree.

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
3 eggs
115g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
400g prepared eating apples & rhubarb, chopped
130g soft dark brown sugar
400ml cold water
  • Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Fold in the flour and cinnamon, until well combined
  • Stir in the apple & rhubarb
  • Pour the batter into a buttered baking dish
  • Combine the dark brown sugar and water together
  • Pour over the batter
  • Bake in a preheated 170C oven for 40 -50 minutes
Apple & Rhubarb Saucy PudApple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

GreatBloggersBakeOff  photo BAKE_ALONG_LOGO_zps284c894d.png

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska

I haven't made proper ice cream for a long time as I usually make the cheats version with cream and condensed milk that doesn't require churning in an ice cream machine. When I was invited to enter the Great British Chefs Summertime Bloggers Challenge, to cook up one of their Summertime Recipes, I decided to go for Simple Strawberry Ice Cream, a recipe by chef Graham Campbell, which I could then use in my Great Bloggers Bake Off Neapolitan Baked Alaska.

The ice cream was a simple enough recipe that didn't require any technical skills, but does require the use of an ice cream machine (mine is an inexpensive one with a bowl that needs freezing in advance). I must confess that I'm not great at following recipes and I do tend to miss items out or skip stages, I'm much better at making them up as I go along. I did throw the strawberries in whole before realising that the recipe called for them to be quartered, so I mashed them a little with a potato masher, but shhhhhh. Apart from that I followed the recipe almost exactly, well aside from the part where I missed adding the salt.

I then went on to make my Baked Alaska, thankfully without sabotage from Diana, queen of removing other peoples ice cream from the freezer, although at one point I did find an 11yr old standing with the freezer door open a little too long for my liking.

A baked Alaska is a dessert that I've always wanted to give a go but never have, and to be honest, isn't that difficult. It just takes a little bit of time and patience for the ice cream to freeze solid before covering with meringue, and then it's all go, go go before the ice cream melts, which it did start to whilst I was taking photos, as you can see here.

Then there is the problem of what to do with a baked Alaska once you've taken the photos and its only 4pm in the afternoon. I can confirm that it doesn't do kids any harm to have baked Alaska for their dinner every once in a while.

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska
Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska

Neapolitan Baked Alaska

cake layer
175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1 litre vanilla ice cream
1 litre strawberry ice cream
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar

  • Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the cake batter
  • Divide mixture between 2 round cake tins, lightly greased and lined with baking paper
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes
  • Turn out of the tins and allow cakes to cool on a wire rack 
  • Line the same cake tins (cooled and washed) with clingfilm
  • Press the vanilla ice cream into one cake tin and strawberry into the other and then return to the freezer
  • Once the cakes are cooled level the tops off with a sharp knife
  • Place one cake onto a baking sheet (that fits into your freezer) and turn the vanilla ice cream onto it
  • Lay the second sponge on top of the vanilla ice cream and then the strawberry ice cream on top of that
  • Return to the freezer whilst you make the meringue
  • Preheat your oven to its highest setting - I think mine is around 260C (the temperature dial has worn off as the oven is so old!)
  • Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks
  • Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time until it has all been incorporated
  • You should be able to hold the bowl of meringue upside down above your head without it tipping out - go on, try it.
  • Remove the ice cream and sponge from the freezer and, working as quickly as possible, cover it in meringue, dabbing at it to form peaks
  • Place it into the hot oven for around 4-5 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the edges
  • Serve immediately

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska

GreatBloggersBakeOff  photo BAKE_ALONG_LOGO_zps284c894d.png


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