The Crazy Kitchen: September 2011

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Friday, 30 September 2011

Cooking With Your Toddler - Banana Cake

I tweeted at the weekend about how I had a bit of an online shopping fail - instead of ordering 10 individual bananas I managed to order 10 bags of bananas!


Tesco thankfully managed to re-route a driver later that evening to call and collect some of the excess bananas,leaving us with only 4 bags. We managed to munch our way through most of them before they became over-ripe and decided to use the rest to make some banana cake/bread with Jack. Along with as his apron and chefs hat set Dunelm also sent Jack a Tala Child's baking set to try out so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. The set comes with an extremely cute 12cm springform cake tin, a mini spatula, mechanical timer and squeezy icing bottle.
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The spatula was the perfect size for Jack to handle and has a flexible end, great for scraping bowls - or the dregs in your peanut butter or jam jar. The timer is easy to operate and can time from 1 minute up to an hour - great for baking or setting time limits on the Xbox or naughty step!


The pan is the cutest pan I have ever seen, it's a dinky version of a full-size springform pan, with a loose bottom. This is a great size for making a cake for the kids tea, especially if you're like me & on a permanent diet and don't wish to have cakes lying around for fear of not being able to resist them! There will definitely not be any left-overs when using this pan.


We didn't get around to using the icing bottle but I'm sure it will appear in future posts. The Tala baking set is available from Dunelm at a very reasonable £8.99, great for kids presents or stocking fillers.


If you haven't entered already, don't forget to enter my competition to win an apron & chefs hat set like Jack is wearing.




Banana Cake


125g butter, melted & cooled
350g SR Flour
175g Golden Caster Sugar
2 tbsp Smooth Peanut Butter
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs, beaten
3 Large over-ripe bananas, peeled & mashed
tbsp Milk



  • Mix all the ingredients  together until combined.
  • Spoon mix into greased & lined large loaf pan or 2 smaller pans
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife or metal skewer inserted comes out clean. If you are using 1 large loaf pan you may need to bake for around 50-60 minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly in the pan and then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely



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Variation


After we had divided the mix up between our loaf pan and small springform pan we had some mix left over and added some chocolate chips and fudge pieces and baked them in mini cupcakes cases.
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The Crazy Kitchen

Come and share your own 'Cooking with your Toddler' experiences - just add your post to the Linky below


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Blueberry Cakes for Brownies...

Hanna has been pestering me for a while to make cakes so she can get her Cooks Badge at Brownies, but the pestering usually starts at 7.30pm on a Monday just as she arrives home from her weekly Brownies meeting and then she never usually mentions it again until the following Monday when she brings home [yet another] slip asking her to take in cakes that she's made.

This week was different though, she mentioned it almost daily until, on Saturday morning I relented and allowed her to mess up my kitchen bake her cakes. We had been sent some boxed cake mixes from Greens and Hanna chose to make the Blueberry cupcakes for her Brownie Six. Slight problem though as there are eight in her Six and this mix makes only six, are you with me? so I agreed to make a few additional cakes whilst she was at school for her to decorate with the leftover icing.

The Greens cake kit comes with a sachet of cake mix which you need to beat together with an egg, some softened butter and water (measured using our new Russian Doll measuring spoons from Find Me a Gift - more on those another time) , then just spoon into the cases that are also included in the kit. 10-12 minutes in the oven and they are baked, and after a few minutes of cooling down are ready to decorate. The kit also includes 2 sachets of a fruity jam type sauce to go inside the cakes and a sachet of icing mix which needs to be beaten with some more softened butter and water. The packet for the icing also doubles up as an icing bag which can be used with the icing nozzle included so even if you don't have fancy cake icing equipment you can still pipe the icing on the cakes without the need to go out and buy equipment.

 Hanna did a great job, with only a small amount of assistance (with the beating) from me (apart from the extra cakes that I had to make). The instructions on the box were clear and easy for her to understand and the piping of the icing was all her own work and I was very proud.



The Brownies loved the cakes but the biggest surprise of all is that fussy little brother Jack ate (and enjoyed) a whole one!
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Green’s Strawberry, Blueberry and Lemon Cupcakes are sold in Asda and Tesco, RRP £2.15
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We were sent the lemon and blueberry cake mixes for the purpose of this review

Friday, 23 September 2011

Cooking With Mummy - Shortbread Biscuits



Paula over at Mummy vs Work is doing a weekly cooking challenge. On a Friday she will post a recipe and then on the following Thursday she opens a Linky up for you to share your own posts.


Last week she posted a recipe for Shortbread Biscuits


Ingredients:
  • 500g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 500g plain flour
Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
  • Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla; add flour and mix well.
  • Put through biscuit press and form biscuits onto baking trays. Alternatively, roll out to 1cm thickness and cut out desired shaped with biscuit cutters. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Upon Jenny from Mummy Mishaps recommendation earlier in the week on Twitter I opted to halve the mixture as it does make rather a lot of biscuits. We also added a teaspoon of Cinnamon to the recipe but it could've perhaps done with a little bit more. We also added a bit more flour as it was a bit sticky to roll out.


We then used different sized star cutters to cut out the biscuits and laid them onto a greased baking tray to cook. When they were done I left them on the baking tray to firm up for a few minutes before allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack.



The biscuits turned out really well, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Jack had great fun making the biscuits until just after the first batch had gone in the oven when he started crying uncontrollably and asked to go to bed so I ended up finishing them and doing the washing up on my own! 

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Mummy Vs Work

We were provided with the Star Cookie Cutters by Procook free of charge. There are 5 cutters in the set ranging from 4cm up to 8cm in size and are very strong, not like other similar but flimsy metal cutters that I've come across. Perfect for baking Christmas Cookies. You can find the Star Cutters along with some other great cutters: hands, gingerbread men, flowers and numbers here. The cutters were really easy to use and come in a lovely storage tin.


Ideas for Christmas

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Cellophane bags available here 

Cooking With Your Toddler - Thomas Cakes

Cooking with your kids is not necessarily about cooking everything from scratch, it's more about the experience and spending quality time together. Little ones don't always have the patience for long complicated recipes, they just enjoy getting involved .  However much I prefer home-made cakes over shop bought ones I'm still happy to buy box cake mixes to make with the kids and the taste of them has greatly improved recently.


When I was approached by Greens and asked if I wanted to try some of their boxed cake mixes out with the kids I nearly bit their hands off. Greens is a very well known brand and they have cake mixes for kids and grown ups alike as well as traditional products such as scones, dumplings and crumble mixes.


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Jack was very excited about cooking some Thomas cakes for big Sister's birthday and as you can see from his face he enjoyed every moment. So this week there is no recipe, this post is to show how easy baking is and that anybody can do it, if a 2 1/2  year old can make cakes (with a small amount of assistance) then anyone can. All you need in addition to the mix is an egg, some butter and water.



The cakes turned out really well, and they had risen more than expected, in fact they looked like Yorkshire puddings when they came out of the oven. The kids loved them and for once I didn't get the usual 'I not like it' from Jack.




Jack was modelling his new Gingerbread Man apron and Chef's hat which comes complete with a tea towel (perfect for wiping eggy hands) from Dunelm for only £5.99. This polycotton 3 piece set is perfect for any budding little chef, and it does also look very cute.

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We were provided with the cake mix from Greens and the Gingerbread apron set from Dunelm for the purpose of this review.




The Crazy Kitchen

Come and share your own 'Cooking with your Toddler' experiences - just add your post to the Linky below


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tilda Steamed Basmati Special Fried Rice Recipe

With being on a permanent diet Stir Fry's are often cooked for dinner. Sometimes though I can't be bothered with all that chopping, especially when I need to cook a meal in a hurry. Tilda sent me some products from their Steamed Basmati range to try along with some quick and easy recipes.


About TildaTilda Pure Basmati is the UK’s number one Basmati brand by volume and value.  With over 30 years of experience in buying, importing and selling the highest quality Pure Basmati Rice, it’s a name that you can trust. Tilda has a wide range of products ranging from Pure Basmati Dry Rice, new Tilda Stir Fry, and Tilda Steamed Basmati, available in a wide variety of flavours. Basmati remains at the heart of Tilda and the company is committed to preserving the authenticity of the grain.  It refuses to blend with inferior grains, carefully removes broken grains, DNA tests every batch, consistently ages the rice for at least 9 months and works hand-in-hand with the farming community to ensure the quality of the final product. Tilda remains a family business, employing over 200 people in the UK, and is proud of its reputation for uncompromising quality and commitment to sustaining the legendary status of Basmati. 

About the Tilda Steamed Basmati range
The two-minute Tilda Steamed Basmati range offers a quick and convenient meal and contains the finest Basmati rice and quality ingredients. The extensive Tilda Steamed Basmati range, includes Sweet Chilli and Lime, Wholegrain Pilau, Lime & Coriander, Mushroom, Butternut Squash and Roasted Peppers & Courgettes amongst others. The Tilda Steamed Basmati Sweet Chilli and Lime has been awarded Gold in the Great Taste Awards, which is part of The Guild of Fine Food. 


I tried out their Special Fried Rice recipe which uses a pack of the Steamed Egg Fried Rice.


SPECIAL FRIED-RICE
Serves 4 small portions or 2 adults portions
 
1 pack of Tilda Steamed Basmati Egg Fried Rice
2 chicken breasts, skinless
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
4 spring onions*
150g green beans, Tenderstem broccoli or asparagus
75g sweetcorn
100g pineapple, chopped (fresh or tinned in fruit juice and drained) *




  • Thinly slice the chicken breast, place in a bowl and stir in the soy sauce and honey. Leave to one side to marinade for a few minutes.
  • Finely slice the spring onions and chop the green beans, Tenderstem broccoli or asparagus into small pieces. Heat the oil in a wok then add the chopped vegetables. Stir fry for about minute before adding the chicken and marinade. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the Tilda Steamed Basmati Egg Fried Rice, sweetcorn and pineapple. Stir fry everything together for about 2 minutes until the rice is completely heated through then serve in bowls or on plates.

* I didn't have any spring onions so substituted for half a red onion and the pineapple for tinned mandarin segments and threw in a few sliced mushrooms too.

In total it took me about 20 minutes from start to finish so having a few bags of steamed rice in the cupboard is great for when you need to eat in a hurry.

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They also have a recipe for Chocolate & Banana Rice Pudding which I think will be next on our list.


CHOCOLATE AND BANANA RICE PUDDING Serves 6
1 pack Tilda Steamed Pure Basmati rice
500ml semi-skimmed milk, plus extra for serving (optional)
50g caster sugar
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced 



  • Lightly massage the pack of rice to separate the rice grains. Tip into a non-stick saucepan and add the 50g of sugar and 500ml of milk. Bring to a simmer and gently simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Keeping the pan on the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and add any extra milk to loosen if needed. 
  • The bananas can now be either stirred into the chocolate rice pudding or served on top. Serve hot or if preferred the chocolate rice pudding is just as tasty served chilled. 

As an alternative to bananas, why not try other fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, mango or pear with the chocolate rice pudding.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Cupcake Challenge - Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes by Jack

The lovely Jenny from Mummy Mishaps, like a lot of us, loves cake, and she has come up with a great idea for a feature on her blog - I Love Cake, a monthly cake appreciation feature where everyone can share recipes of their favourite cakes. For the first week the theme is Cupcakes, complete with a competition.


Jack loves cooking and we try to do some weekly, especially now I have revived my 'Cooking with your Toddler' feature so I thought it would be rude not to bake cakes with him for Jenny's challenge.


So here is Jacks entry into the Mummy Mishaps Cupcake Challenge (spot the spelling mistake - a challenge for The Boy And Me who can get out her red pen!) :








If you didn't manage to catch the recipe here it is (taken from the back of a pack of Silver Spoon Mini Fudge Chunks)


Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes


100g Butter
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g SR Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
50g Mini Fudge Chunks
50g Chocolate Chips



  • Pre-heat oven to 180 ÂșC
  • Line 12 hole Muffin/Cupcake pan with cases
  • Melt 100g butter with 125g light Muscovado Sugar, stir to dissolve and allow to cool
  • Beat 3 eggs with 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Add in Butter / Sugar Mixture
  • Combine 200g Sifted Flour and 1tsp Baking Powder with liquid Mix
  • Fold in 50g Mini Fudge Chunks & 50g Chocolate Chips
  • Divide into Muffin Cases
  • Bake for 20 – 25 Minutes
  • Allow to cool on wire rack

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I Love Cake

Friday, 16 September 2011

Cooking With Your Toddler - Caramelised Puff Pastry Biscuits

I came across this recipe recently on Working London Mummy. It is a fabulous blog with lovely recipes and amazing photography created by a wonderful Mummy (to Miss Munchkin) working in London as a Paediatrician (hence the name of the blog) and married to a French ex Chef.


The recipe is so simple and perfect to try with Toddlers, it's just a bit of rolling and sprinkling and baking, perfect for Toddlers that are easily distracted with zero concentration span (like mine).


Caramelised Puffy Pastry Biscuits


Pack of ready made Puff Pastry - I used ready rolled as I had some in the freezer
Icing Sugar
Cinnamon



  • Dust your worktop with icing sugar so the pastry doesn't stick
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  • Roll the puff pastry out as thin as you can (if not already rolled)
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  • (We sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar here although the original recipe doesn't tell you to do this)
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  • Roll it up into a cylinder and cut into thin slices with a sharp knife (probably best not to let your Toddler use the sharp knife & instead give them some pastry to roll to distract their attention from the knife!)
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  • Roll the slices flat and then put in the freezer for 1.5 hrs to stop them shrinking when you bake them (or is you have a very impatient toddler like mine just bung them in the over without putting them in the freezer - he didn't care whether they'd shrink or not, he just wanted to eat them)
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  • Then we sprinkled more cinnamon sugar


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  • Bake in a preheated (200 degrees C) oven until they're golden
  • If the biscuits rise in the middle you can flatten them down with a pan (or other object large enough)
  • Dust with cinnamon and sugar and eat warm
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You can see Working London Mummy's recipe here, and also her fab photography. Her biscuits look so much more impressive than ours but Jack enjoyed making them which is what it's all about.


Come back next Friday for more recipes.


Please join in and enter your toddler recipes here:






The Crazy Kitchen

Thursday, 15 September 2011

That's One Giant Oreo Cookie

Tomorrow is my daughter Hanna's 9th birthday, where has that time gone? It was 9 years ago yesterday (her due date) that Tropical Storm Hanna was in the news in the US, where we were living at the time, and although I was expecting her to be a boy (but secretly wanted a girl) that name stuck in my mind and 2 days later I gave it to my daughter. She's lived up to her Tropical Storm status ever since but hope she will never make it to be a Hurricane!


A birthday wouldn't be a birthday without a cake and as Hanna likes all things chocolate and as the lovely people at JML sent me the Big Top Cookie Maker to review I thought I would combine the two and make Hanna a Giant Oreo Birthday Cake. The kit comes with a booklet with instructions and recipes, along with a 3 ring insert to enable you to make a cake of mixed colours.


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Ingredients


350g Butter, plus extra for greasing
350g Soft Brown Sugar
350g SR Flour
4 tbsp Cocoa Powder
3 tsp Baking Powder
6 Medium Eggs, lightly whisked
200ml Milk



  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C
  • With a pastry brush paint both moulds with some melted butter and place on baking tray
  • Melt the sugar & butter together in a saucepan over low heat, remove & allow to cool
  • Pour the melted sugar & butter into a large mixing bowl & fold in the sifted flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Gradually add the beaten egg and stir in the milk.
  • Divide the mixture between the two moulds and put onto a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from the moulds. Gently turn cakes out onto wire rack & cool completely
  • You may need to level the cakes off if they have risen up in the middle (don't throw the cake bits away, reserve for Cake Pops!)



For the Buttercream


110g Butter , at room temperature
500g Icing Sugar, sifted
60ml milk, at room temperature
6 Oreo Cookies, crushed



  • Beat the Butter, half the icing sugar & milk until smooth & creamy, then beat in the other half of icing sugar
  • Fold in the crushed cookies
  • Spread over the flat side of one of the cake halves & sandwich together



It was a very easy cake to make, I just hope Hanna likes it and it tastes as good as it looks.

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I did try some of the very creamy and sweet buttercream which was lovely (although a bit sickly on its own). I usually use unsalted butter but I think sometimes chocolate cakes can benefit from a small amount of salt. The butter I used this time was Loseley Summer Meadow Butter, which I found to be beautiful and creamy and perfect for spreading too.
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The Big Top Cookie Maker silicone bakeware set is available from JML for £9.99


I was provided with the Big Top Cookie Maker and Loseley Butter for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sunday Crumble

Sunday wouldn't be Sunday without a pudding......or so it would seem in my house. I've made a rod for my own back making nice puddings as now they come to expect it...every week! Don't get me wrong, I don't do the full Roast Dinner palava every week, or even once a month. If I'm perfectly honest I make them around once every six weeks....or so. It takes so much time and effort to make one and then it's gone in minutes and you're left with a mountain of pans to wash - well that's actually the husbands job but it's very off-putting when, half way through dinner, he scans the worktops and sink area to see how much mess there is, the less mess the more he enjoys his dinner! If I actually enjoyed eating a roast I suppose I wouldn't mind all that effort but to be truthful I would much prefer a Jacket Potato, beans and salad - I just wish all the others would be happy with that too.


Today's pudding was Crumble. I looked in the freezer for inspiration and settled on an Apple and Pear Crumble. I made it the easy way, with ready prepared frozen fruit (it was on special offer in Tesco) but you could use fresh cooking or eating apples, plums, blackberries or rhubarb.


Apple and Pear Crumble


250g Frozen Pears
500g Frozen Cooking Apple
100g butter (softened)
100g demerara sugar
200g plain flour (you could replace a couple of tablespoons of flour with oats)



  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.


  • Place the pears and apple into a large baking dish and set aside (you may prefer to leave them in the fridge overnight to defrost)

  • Beat the butter and sugar together.

  • Stir in the flour (and oats) until it resembles large breadcrumbs.

  • Sprinkle evenly over the apples/pears.

  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. If you're cooking the fruit from frozen you will need to cover the crumble with foil before baking and remove once the fruit has softened and bake for an extra 10-15 minutes to brown the top.



If you like a sweeter pudding (or you use very sharp apples, plums or rhubarb) you might want to add some sugar to the fruit.




Serve with Cream, Custard or Ice Cream.


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30.09.11 I have added this recipe to Reluctand Housedad's Recipe Shed which for this week is 'recipes with 5 ingredients or less'.





Today I served the crumble with ice cream, but not just any old ice cream, this was a delicious Clotted Cream and Blackcurrant ice cream from Kelly's of Cornwall.
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Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream is the only genuine ice cream that is made in Cornwall. Made in Bodmin with true dairy ingredients including lashings of Cornish clotted cream and Cornish whole milk, it is the perfect, quick and easy dessert for all the family to enjoy. Give it a try and you’ll be hooked. It takes over 100 years of expertise to make ice cream this special!


I took a short break from my diet (in the name of research) and tried this ice cream on it's own and together with the crumble and even though I'm not a big fan of ice cream I really liked this, it was just like eating blackcurrants and cream, it was extremely creamy but not sickly as the blackcurrants added a touch of sharpness to it. The rest of the family enjoyed it too, Hanna was very excited that she was eating purple ice cream, apparently she's never had ice cream that colour before!


You can find Kelly's Blackcurrant and Clotted Cream ice cream in Waitrose and Tesco for £3.79, although currently it's half price in Tesco.




I was provided with vouchers to purchase a tub of ice cream for the purpose of this review, however as it was half price I bought 2, well it would be silly not to!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Cooking With Your Toddler - Goats Cheese and Tomato Tart

After a long break I feel it's time to bring Cooking With Your Toddler back to The Crazy Kitchen. 2 1/2 year old Jack loves to help around the kitchen doing his chores, cooking and washing up - start them young I say!


Cooking with your little ones is a good way to get fussy toddlers to try different foods. Jack is quite fussy, although he does eat lots of fruits, salad and vegetable (even olives) but he rarely eats his evening meal.


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This week we have made a Goats Cheese and Tomato Tart, a very simple recipe to get the little ones involved.

Ingredients

Puff Pastry Sheet - we used ready rolled
4 tbsp Tomato Puree or Pasta Sauce or Pesto - we used some homemade ratatouille 
150g Goats Cheese - we used garlic & herb Soft Goats Cheese
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh or dried herbs

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C


  • Lay the puff pastry sheet flat on a baking sheet and cover with your chosen base, leaving around 1 inch gap around the edge
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  • Arrange the Goats Cheese on top


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  • And then the cherry Tomatoes (spread out a little by Mummy)


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  • Sprinkle with a few herbs or ripped fresh Basil leaves


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  • Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes

Enjoy!

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And did Jack eat all his tea? ...... No, just the salad! but everyone else loved it.


Please check back every Friday for more 'Cooking With Your Toddler' recipes. On the last Friday of the month I will include a Linky where you can add your own Cooking With Your Toddler posts. In weeks to come I will also have some great giveaways.


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